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Laptop Sleeve

So those interwebs are a mixed blessing, but they are certainly a boon to anyone who makes anything by hand because there are a lot of really talented generous folk out there who make cool stuff and then post tutorials. This post is a general homage to them by way of a big shout out thank you to Amy of amyalamode.com who graciously posted a very detailed and also flexible tutorial (http://www.amyalamode.com/blog/2010/04/04/laptop-sleeve-tutorial/) on how to make laptop sleeves.

The outer layer of mine is a patchwork of cotton print scraps, the padding is from a felted old wool sweater, and the inner lining is some PUL that I had left over from making diapers. Kam snaps are from the same diaper making era. The PUL (polyurethane laminate on polyester knit) is waterproof, which doesn’t make the bag waterproof, but does give the computer a fighting chance against accidental spills.

The back is roughly the same.

And a view of the inside and the snaps.

It is exactly what I needed. Thanks again, Amy!


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The sun was out in force today, and the accumulated snow on the old rock wall at the top of the village was no match for it. We took a walk up and did some careful looking and touching.

Scaly lichens and chenille mosses.

Tiny ferns.

Rocks rolled up like cinnamon buns.

Even a tiny wasp nest in a crevice.

The more we looked, the more we found.

We found one small chunk that had been knocked loose so we brought it back with us to start a moss garden. We also brought some soil from the road and a big flat rock, as we observed that that was how the rest of it seemed to be growing.

All in all, a wonderful sunny expedition.

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The calendar tells us that winter is will not be here for another month and a half, but we have been preparing for it for some weeks now, here in the village, and this week, the snow began to fall.

Two weeks ago, we discussed the new season, and the children wove a new mat for their nature table, where they place treasures that they find outside. We went to the discarded clothing bins and the children chose items that reminded them of winter things like ice, snow, dead grass, and branches without leaves. Then we cut and tore long strips and the children took turns helping to weave them onto the warp. Old t-shirts, leftover yarn, and scraps of fabric, welcome to your new life as a beautiful weaving!

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Lake Wenatchee

A poem for my friend Jess.

Snow soaked clouds flow over a rocky basin like cold honey from an overfilled mason jar,
wave whipped willows luff in a spring swollen lake,
driftwood stump a pirate ship for monkeys,
ponderosas defying one last snowfall dress in spring’s freshest green,
presumptuous pit bulls escort beer laden teens through jetsam laden with cigarette butts,
sifted handfuls of beach yield silky shards of malachite.

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Ah, the elusive and delicious morel.  Mushroom hunting and subsequent consuming is not for the faint of heart due to possible misidentification of finds, but morels are pretty obvious.  There are a few other shrooms that are potentially confusing, but they all have pretty obvious characteristics that disqualify them as true morels.  You should always have a good guide or guide book when mushroom hunting.  My book of choice is Mushrooms Demystified.

My brother and his wife are pretty amazing foragers, and their generously shared bag of dried morels from last year inspired me to go looking myself this year.  We looked, and looked, and looked some more and had no luck.  On our return from one such unsuccessful foray this spring, my eldest son trotted up behind me and showed me a mushroom that he had found.  “I brought it because I thought you would like it,” he said.  A black morel?!  Where had he found it?  “Somewhere back there…”  So we retraced our steps, and then, as often happens on mushroom hunting expeditions, suddenly they were all over.  Hunting mushrooms with the kids was fun.  They were good at it, better than the adults, and it was like a big treasure hunt for them.

We picked and dried our finds and had one big feast with friends and enough to spare for another.  Success!  Morels grow where they want to, but for the record, we found ours in late May of this year, on a south facing slope of the Cascade Mountains near Chelan.  They were mostly at the edge of a hiking trail and under Ponderosa Pines.  Good luck!

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This wasn’t meant to be a food blog, but this monthly deadline seems to keep me posting.  I guess that means I am not truly a blogger.  Oh well.

This month’s DB challenge was somewhat bizarre sounding on first glance, but it was delicious and quickly devoured.  The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.  It involved a brioche type dough rolled cinnamon bun log style around meringue, chocolate, nuts, and spices and then formed into a ring and baked.  Very tasty.  As one of my tasters said, just sweet enough to get you to eat more, and not sweet enough to get sick of it… dangerous!

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Pinata. There are different ways to make a pinata, the most traditional involving a clay pot. I used a balloon as my paper mache base because the only place I have ever seen the special pots for sale was in Mexico. Paper mache couldn’t be easier, and if you have a reasonable tolerance for mess, or you can take it outside, it is really fun to do with kids.
Mix up flour and water into a smooth batter the consistency of thick pancake batter (roughly one to one ratio).  Some people like to cook the paste, but I find it it unnecessary.   Next, cut a section of newspaper in half widthwise, so you end up with two squares that open, and then rip it lengthwise into strips a couple centimeters wide (about an inch). You’ll know if you are ripping it the wrong way because it won’t tear in straight lines.
Blow up a balloon and tie a string on it tightly. Hang it from something strong like a broomstick. Until the pinata dries, it will be kind of heavy, so check your knots!
Dip your newspaper strips into the water/ flour goop one at a time, wipe off the excess, drape it over the balloon and smooth it on.

For last year’s party, we did the traditional smashing kind of pinata.  Later, I learned about a gentler kind, more suited to the under waist height crowd.  When the pinata is all dry, you pop and remove the balloon.  Then carefully cut off the bottom quarter of the dried shape.  Take the “lid” part and poke holes about an inch from the edge, one for each child.  Then take narrow ribbons about three feet long and tie one in each hole.

Fill the pinata, and put it open side up.  Place the lid on top and paper mache it back together with a single layer of tissue paper.  When the hole thing is completely dry and hard, poke holes near the  top, and tie strong string through them to hang the pinata.  Decorate the outside;  little tissue paper florets are fun and easy.

When the time comes, each child grabs a ribbon, and on a count of three, they all pull and the bottom comes off.  As a bonus, the bottom makes a great party hat for the birthday child!

Cake. Make your own and let your imagination run wild!  Your child won’t care that you aren’t Martha.  This year, the request was for a sea turtle.

Comet balls. These little guys work as party game and a take home treat.  I bought a long silk skirt at Goodwill for $3 and cut it into long triangular strips the length of the skirt.  I sewed two strips together like a really weird shaped pillow case (right sides together) leaving a two inch gap to turn it inside out.  Turn it so that the seams are hidden and the right sides are out, pop a little bouncy ball (5 for $1 at Toys’r’us) in the end and sew the whole thing shut.  It helps to sew a seam across so that the ball stays in the big end.  You’re done!

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