Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Motif #3: A Da-Lily

Kristen says...

Me again! I wanted to update you that I actually did some tatting this past long weekend!!

I made what I am calling a Da-Lily (not to be confused with the actual daylily flower) using the pattern Water Lily from Lyn Morton's book "Tatting Patterns."

It really is a lily, but I used a variegated yellow for the center and a creamy off-white for the outside, thus making my lily resemble a daisy...hence the name da-lily. :)
The leaf and "vine" are my own, something I made up and stuck on after I finished the flower...nothing too hard or exciting (and really, the leaf isn't all that great) but I think it added a bit of something to the overall effect.

This is one of the first things I've made from Morton's book, which is kind of pathetic considering I got it for my October...2009...

Now, stop me if I'm wrong, but I've noticed that patterns written for needle tatters are different than those written for shuttle tatters? Needle patterns are (for me) much easier to read: 3-3-3-3 is pretty straightforward, where as something like "3ds separated by 3p" makes you think too much and are somewhat confusing. :) As a needle-only tatter (the shuttle really confuses me!), I really appreciate the 3-3-3-3 pattern style.

Usually if I use a pattern written "for shuttle" I start out by "translating" it into needle-tat language...I've found that most of the tatting books I own are written in the "shuttle" way, especially the many books I have with the "antique" or older patterns (thank you Dover publishing!)

For this pattern I didn't do the "translation," partly because it was a fairly simple pattern, and partly because Morton does such a nice job of diagramming her patterns. It was nice practice, maybe I won't have to do it so much in the future.

I am curious to all you tatters out there...are patterns for shuttle really different than those for needle? Is there any special trick to "translating" one way to another? (I feel like sometimes certain patterns just don't work well with the needle--especially those where you have a chain, a join, then another chain...any suggestions?)

**For those of you who don't like to read the comments, here is an excellent answer I received about my questions...Thanks Sharon!
"Tatting patterns come in 3 different formats. The long version (3p sep by 4 ds), the short version 4-4-4-4 and the visual diagram version. The very old patterns were only written in the long format. Later on both long and short forms were used. The newer form is to use visual patterns. The difference in pattern notation has nothing to do with whether they were written for shuttle or needle. Tatting Patterns and Designs by Gun Blomqvist and Elwy Persson was first published in 1933 using the short notation and it begins with instructions on how to shuttle tat. It may be the earliest publication to use the short form."
Hmmm...suddenly it occurs to me I should read my copy of "Tatting: Technique and History" so I don't have to bother all you kind readers out there...**


100th Post!

Kristen says...

I'm not going to lie...I am surprised and excited that, just over a year after starting, we have reached our 100th post!

When we started the blog I really hoped we'd keep it up, but I wasn't evidenced by (for example) our Rosetta Stone "progress" (slow) and how "often" we work out (almost never), we are very busy and don't always do the things we WANT to do, because we're so busy doing work and other things that we HAVE to do...

Either way, if you've been with us for all 100 or are joining us for the first time today, thanks for reading!! Blogs are fun, but it's way more fun knowing people actually read it!!

Please keep reading and keep commenting, we love to know you're out there!

Chris and Kristen

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You Can Only Do One Thing at a Time

Kristen says...

Happy Birthday Daddy!!! :)

Apparently a 4-day weekend means I have enough time to do things...and obviously blogging is one of them.

I actually made a list of what I wanted to do this weekend...many of them have been achieved (Pip went to the vet, we bought some art, I have read a few hundred pages in "At Home" by Bill Bryson), but a few of them have not (grading papers...ugh!) Unfortunately, I still have some things I want to do...which aren't getting done before you can only do one thing at a hopefully I really do get some tatting done...

However, I have also done a bit of cooking...I made empanadas today. If you're not familiar, empanadas are kind of like a British pasty (rhymes with nasty, but doesn't taste like it!) or a mini chicken pot pie, it's pastry dough filled with some kind of savory filling.
I started out using a combination of 3 recipes to make my empanadas:

I used the dough recipe exactly, except I halved it. Here's what it looked like when I got it out of the fridge:
In reality, I pretty much made the filling up...
I used:
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
-1 can diced tomatoes
-aprox. 1 1/2 c. chicken (left over from a baked chicken--I am not a fan of leftover chicken, and am kind of surprised I didn't make this fresh today, either way, you want pre-cooked chicken)
-about 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce (also left over)
-spice blend of 1 tsp cumin, 1 chili, and salt
-3/4 of a small can of corn

I cooked it down until it was pasty, then rolled out the dough. I decided to make small circle empanadas, and used one of our bowls to make them the right size (more or less)
Then I added a little shredded mozzarella cheese...I don't know how much, a few pinches:
And then the filling! A big spoonful+
Then I folded it over, wet the sides, kinked the corners with a fork, and popped them into a 400° oven for 20+ minutes.

<-Before After->

I lightly brushed the tops with butter and we sprinkled a mixture of the cumin/salt/chili blend and some Parmesan cheese on top.

Overall, they were pretty good. We both agreed they had good flavor, but could have used more cheese (of course!). I would also like to leave out the chicken and add beans instead, but that's just me.

Chris added a little katsup to his (ew!) but said it made it more tomato-y, so go figure.

Here's a look at the insides of the finished product:
Not bad, not bad at all :)

Chris apparently is in the mood for an apple crisp (he just walked out the door to get some oatmeal) so I guess more baking is in the!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

PS: With the excitement of the paintings, I forgot one of the pieces of art we bought yesterday: this guy was selling these by the side of the road on the way to Valle, and we thought they were pretty cool, so we picked one up on the way home:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Trip to Valle de Angeles and Honduran Art!!! :)

Kristen says...

(Are you getting tired of me yet? I swear Chris hasn't given up on blogging! You will hear from him again!)

I am still on a bit of a shopping high, so this post may be filled with more !'s and ( )'s than normal...oh yeah, and probably quite a few ...'s as well...
I love to shop (Chris, predictably, does not), and I especially love to shop when Chris lets me buy's not that he's tyrannical and never let's me spend money, it's just that he's very level-headed and thinks about things logically. The words "Do you really need that?" are oft-spoken when we are shopping together. Even today, when we were on a mission to spend, he asked me, "Do you think you couldn't find anything similar to that in any other part of the world?" I put it back.

But I did get to buy things...actually quite a few things, which is awesome! Even more awesome is that we agreed on what to buy! Chris and I have VERY different styles of decorating (as I may have mentioned before)...he likes simple, solid, and (in my opinion) boring the music video for Kanye West's "Love Lockdown"...that is Chris' dream home. I, on the other hand, like pattern, and color, and (in Chris' opinion) busy things.

Plus, I have been BLESSED with a husband who actually cares how the house is decorated...something I hear most women don't have to deal with...(no comment)

So, it's hard to decorate our home.

I compromised with the curtains (I did not really want the solid, boring maroon curtains in my bedroom, but I figured Chris would, so...there you go. They look fine...) and we went into today with the understanding that we were going to buy some art that we BOTH liked.

We found it!!! Paintings!

We didn't go to Valle looking for paintings. (In fact, I went for a wooden mask, which I got...
...and a big Lenca pot or two (which I didn't get, because I think we are going to a factory one of these days.)

We looked at a few of the places we always look, the big tourist-central places, but didn't really find anything we HAD to was the same thing at each place, and we wanted something truly representative of Honduras.

We turned up another road (actually looking for the place with the masks) and noticed some paintings and paused. As many of the shop owners do, a woman beckoned us in, "Passe adelante," and so we passe-d.

And found ourselves in a painting wonderland! I think we knew within about 3 minutes that we had found our art. The artist, Franklin, had a really neat style of painting that Chris and I were both instantly attracted to. For me, a lot was about the medium--I love the look (and feel) of oil paintings. For Chris, I'm not sure, but I think a lot of it was the simplicity of the images. Franklin paints in lines, and he makes great things with those lines. For example, the one I call "Aves"
Sweet, right?! It's going in our bedroom, because it matches with both the maroon and the green.

We ended up buying 5 paintings (and he gave us a sixth as "un regalo"). Two will be somewhere in the sala/dining room:
This will be in Chris' office:
(It's Amapala, with a guy chilling in a hammock...very representative of our trips to the Island, and something to inspire him to work harder so we can go again ;)

We also bought a small picture of flowers for the kitchen (it matches our towels) and were given a picture of pesces (I liked it, Chris didn't) because we'd bought so many (I assume):

There were, believe it or not, a few paintings left over when we left (more to buy next time!!):
And one we WILL be buying (maybe even Monday, if I get up the gumption to drive back)
This will be going over our TV in the sala, and will be Chris' anniversary present from me (we'll have 5 years this summer.) Hopefully it doesn't get sold before we can go back :-S

Here's Chris and Franklin (or "Picasso" as he signed a few of our paintings. I think he was happy :)
We talked a bit with him, and he is native Honduran, went to art school here, and paints Honduras. He had a huge red and yellow painting of Copán on the wall, of course the Amapala picture, and others of Honduras, as well as just some was great!!

Anyway, so we bought some art. I also took some pictures...Valle de Angeles is really a nice little town, just a beautiful place to get a coffee and enjoy the beautiful Honduran weather:

We also stopped for food on the way, at a delicious restaurant called Criollos...I believe we have talked about Criollos before, (you can see it from our balcony) but today we went to the Criollos on the way to Valle...and boy was it worth the stop! Not only was the food good, but the view was delicious!!

PS: The delicious-looking cheesy goodness to the right is called anafre...and it's amazingly amazing!!

I have for you below a close-up of the food and the heating mechanism: coals:


This is how I feel after today...

Also, because I can, here are pictures of my handsome men:

Have a good one!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Introducing...My Two Bearded Men

Kristen says...

About a week ago (ok sorry, I'm a blog slacker these days) Chris had a beard.

It's worth mentioning, because Chris hasn't had a REAL beard ever, that I can remember. My brothers-in-law drift in and out of beard-land (especially in no-shave November), my brothers don't bother because they seem not to be able to grow one (and why do they need to, they're handsome enough without them), and my dad, well, every time he even hints at facial hair his daughters tease him unmercifully so he usually chops it right off (sorry Daddy), but Chris...the most I've ever seen him with is a 2-3 day weekend stubble.

So why the beard then?

Well, Thursday nights are poker nights. (Coincidentally, Thursday nights are my most productive nights...go figure!) A few poker nights ago one of our Honduran friends apparently showed up with some stubble, and mentioned that it was a weeks worth of beardishness...Chris, being Chris, thought it would be funny if he showed up the next weekend with a weeks-worth of growth (which, as you will see, was a full beard).

Of course, he didn't tell me about this...and I have to say I honestly didn't realize it for quite a while. (I was busy!)

Anyway, here's a few pics of Chris-with-a-beard: (oh, by the way, he wouldn't let me take a picture until he was shaving it...)

Isn't he handsome?! :)

Of course, Chris' beard had nothing on this guy's: :)

Anyway, that's about's President's Day weekend, and tonight is the first night of the 4-day weekend! (Thanks for being born, Presidents!)

It's kind of funny, I had to explain to my students exactly why we got 2 days off to celebrate some presidents for a country they don't live in or belong to...

I also had to explain postage stamps today...I gave my 7th graders an assignment to create a stamp commemorating an achievement of the Heian Japanese, and had to spend 10 minutes telling them what stamps were, their purpose, what the numbers on them meant, etc. It was really quite entertaining, but a bit exasperating as well...apparently getting/sending letters isn't very common here...?

As it's a 4-day weekend, (and our walls are still incredibly bare), I'm hoping we might take a trek to Valle de Angeles this weekend to invest in some Honduran art...I'll bring the camera along this time so I can share the experience with you, dear readers!

No tatting lately...but it's a 4-day weekend, so I'm sure there will be some before it's over!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hm, sorry about that...

Kristen says...

Wow, my apologies for the severe lack of bloggage lately.

Let's see, what do I need to catch up on? Um, Happy Chinese New Year! Year of the Rabbit!
Thanks, Maricarmen, for the cool Año del Conejo bling for my BB!

The past few weeks have been busy for us...but there's also been quite a bit of couch time too. After I finished my curtains posting a few weeks ago we went over to the home of a friend, and within an hour of that I was back home not feeling well. It wasn't anything major, just a little virus, I think. I never ran a fever, got sick to my stomache or anything like that, just a general feeling of crappiness, a bit of an ache in the limbs, and a headache.

I basically lived on the couch that weekend, and called in for my first sick day in Honduras. That Monday I slept and slept and tatted and tatted. I'm down to about 35-40 minutes/motif now, and I'm almost 1/3 done with the first placemat! I decided to make them a little smaller, because our table now is pretty small, and I can always add to them later. Rather than 12x8 I'm making them 9x6, and I have 2 rows of 9 done. I also did one center motif, just to give you an idea what it looks like:
I think it's coming along nicely...slowly, but nicely

I headed back to school on Tuesday, but it's amazing how missing just one day really throws off your week...

That week was different, anyway, because Discovery hosted the ABSH Spelling Bee last Saturday (the 5th), with students from 28 schools in attendance. This was one of 2 required Saturdays for us (something not unusual in the overseas teaching world, but still a bit of a bummer) and was a very interesting experience. This spelling bee was a little different than the one you are probably thinking of. Instead of standing up in front of a huge crowd of people, each level of spellers were sequestered in a room with just their competition, a caller, a judge, a scribe, another person, and a Discovery School host teacher. No parents, no crowd, just a bunch of kids and a few adults.

In my room, the 27 participating 5th graders were made to stand in a big circle for the entire competition. When it was their turn to spell they walked out of their place in the circle to the judge's table, were read the word, a sentence, and the word again, and then had the opportunity to ask for any number of helpful information, including but not limited to word root, word language/country of origin, definition, another sentence, even for another person to pronounce the word if they didn't like the way the caller said it. They had 10 seconds from the end of their last question (if they had any) to begin spelling, or they would be eliminated. They had to say the word, spell it, then say the word again to show they were finished. If they were correct, they went back to the circle. If they were incorrect, they sat down...and then got up and asked to go to the bathroom, or to go get some food, or to play, or a million other things 5th graders feel they must do. The competitors who were still in the competition had to continue standing until they too, were out.

It took FOREVER, and I'm sure you can imagine how well 27 fifth graders behaved being cooped up in a small classroom, being made to stand for 2-3 hours (or sit quietly after they had been eliminated.) Needless to say, I was glad when it was over...the experience really made me appreciate 1) how awesome our Discovery kids are, and 2) how much I like NOT having to teach 5th graders! I know there's not much age difference between 5th and 6th, but there is a behavior difference, I assure you!

Because we had a judges' meeting last Friday night at 5:00, and had to be at the competition by 7:30 Saturday morning, one of the teachers who lives an hour away and his son stayed with us Friday night. We hadn't had visitors for a while, and I like cooking for other people, so I decided to make home-made spaghetti sauce and my grandma's delicious fudge brownies. I am happy to report my bad luck in the kitchen is officially gone!

(I also made Oreo Balls (haha) in honor of our guests...but Chris and I devoured them before they ever even got there...oops!)

Not only are they super-delicious, Oreo Balls (haha) are about the easiest thing ever to make, but they can get a little messy:

My suggestion is to skip the towel and just make them on the wax paper on the cookie sheet, then pop them straight in to the fridge or freezer so they set up as quickly as possible. (You can also eat them more quickly that way!!) Here's the link for the recipe, if you're interested).

So we had a one-day weekend, but still managed to have fun. In honor of the Super Bowl, some of the gringos of the area decided to get together for a pickup football (the REAL kind, not soccer) game, and invited Chris along. It occurs to me now that I should have been taking pictures during this game, but he basically wore his uniform from when he played in the states:
(They were the Jackalopes, if you're wondering what is on the front of his jersey)

Needless to say, after 2 games of football (and he'd spent his time during the Spelling Bee the day before teaching a group of Honduran kids to play, too), Chris was very tired, so we spent the rest of the day vegging in front of the TV, watching the Super Bowl Pregame, the actual game, and the back of our eyelids as we went to bed about 2 minutes after it ended. :)

This week has gone fairly quickly, and we've actually gotten quite a bit done. The car went to the shop for a tune-up (I can use the air conditioning again!!!!) and Pip has a vet appointment to get an allergy shot...nothing too exciting or Honduran happening in our lives right now.

It's amazing how quickly your daily lives and routines can feel so similar to what you grew up with even in an other country. I suppose that's because we've made it that way...I still drive to school, I still teach, I still cook things like meatloaf and spaghetti, I still watch TV from the US, I still live in a city with McDonald's and Applebees (even if I don't eat there)...sometimes the only way I remember I live in Honduras is when I walk downstairs and try to talk to Wilmer...and remember that I have to speak Spanish, not English. (This whole not feeling like I'm in Honduras thing, by the way, is killing my Spanish...I'm learning at a snail's pace..sigh).

Anyway, that's about all. I have some other (kind of funny) pictures to share, but they're on the camera at that will just give me more of a push to blog again more quickly than the last time!! :)

Have a great weekend! Happy Valentine's Day on Monday!