Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Owl Mask

owl mask
Such a Wise Looking Owlet
I've been working on the owl mask for a couple of weeks now.  I finally finished the pattern this morning!  I love the owl mask, I think it could be my favorite mask so far....but I am kind of partial to owls.  The mask was designed after the Great Horned Owl.  I have a special fondness for Great Horned owls.  Once upon a time....way back before children.....I was on a birding trip with friends (better known as bird nerding).  We peaked into an old barn near Summer Lake,Oregon, to discover three fluffy Great Horned owlets.  They were sitting right at eye level, and there was just enough light to get a really good look at them, I think they were as curious about us as we were about them.  Later in the day the three found their way to the top of the barn and were just sitting there for all the world to see.  It's one of my favorite bird nerding memories.  

owl mask
Owl Mask 
When my daughter was a toddler, she called owls, "who-are-yous"  It earned her lots of owl toys, and a mommy-made owl blanket.  One of her favorite books to check out from the library was, "The Owl and the Pussy Cat,"  the Edward Lear poem, beautifully illustrated by Anne Wilson.  So, in the spirit of Edward Lear's famous poem I have also been working on a Pussy Cat mask....coming soon!

the owl and the pussy cat
The Owl and the Pussy Cat
The Owl Mask PDF Pattern is now available in my Etsy Shop.  I would love to see it made in fun bright colors...any takers?

owl mask

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's November! Time to Pick the Olives...


The beginning of November marks the start of olive picking, at least here in the Veneto.  This year the olive crop was plentiful, which was quite a relief after the sparse crop last year.  The fog and rain rolled in as the calendar changed from October to November, so the first few days of picking olives were very much on the damp side.  Regardless of the dampness there is something so satisfying about picking olives.  Each year we are fortunate enough to spend time helping, I revel in the olive picking.  There is something timeless about it.  

Picking Olives

Large nets are spread out over the ground, and the olives are raked or pulled off of the branches and onto the nets.  

This was the first year both of my children were interested in helping.  My daughter spent over an hour pulling olives off of low branches and placing them in a crate.  My son was interested in more daring forms of picking that involved climbing the trees.  

I know we won't be here in Italy forever, so I am glad the children are old enough to help and be a part of this experience.  I hope it is something they will remember fondly throughout their lives, I know I will.  

Freshly pressed olive oil is AMAZING!  Last year I went to see how the olive oil was pressed from the olives.  If you are interested you can read all about it HERE.

olive in the fog

I have included a few more "damp" November pictures from around the yard.....

One Wet Grasshopper

Golden Brugmansia

Drops on the Nasturtium Leaves

Drops on an Autumn Rose


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Basilica Palladiana in the Fog

Autumn fog blankets,
Architectural rhythm
Drums damp city beats.  

Looking down Contra do Rode

"Palladian Window"
Looking down on Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza
Northwest Loggia of Basilica Palladiana

 Corso Andrea Palladio

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sugar Skulls and a New Tradition

sugar skulls
This Summer I bought a pink, vintage coat from the thrift store...  
Somewhere between the heat of Summer and a couple of weeks ago, I decided that the coat would look stellar with a sugar skull pin, so I set to work on Sugar Skull Number One.

sugar skulls
Sugar Skull Number One
Sugar Skull Number One was super fun to make and in the process I did a some research on the Day of the Dead.  Upon completion, my son requested that he also have a sugar skull, so I set to work on Sugar Skull Number Two.   

sugar skull
Sugar Skull Number Two
After completion of Sugar Skull Number Two, my daughter had to have one as well, and so Sugar Skull Number Three came into being.  

sugar skull
Sugar Skull Number Three
Both of my children attend Italian public schools.  November 1, All Saints Day is a national holiday here, and the children are out of school.  Having the children home from school for a holiday I know nothing about spurred a little more research into the origins of the Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and Samhain.  Though none of these holidays are traditions that I grew up with, I really like the premise of celebrating and remembering the dead, so I decided my family should have our own little celebration.  

simple sugar skull cake

My daughter and I made a little sugar skull cake....no making fun of our cake, she is 5 and we had a really fun time decorating the cake...yes, they are gummy bear eyes.   While we made the cake I talked to her about my grandmothers, her great-grandmothers.  I told her about what kind of women they were, what it was like when they were growing up, and how great their hugs were.

After dinner we put a candles on the cake for each person my husband and I knew who has passed from this world into the next.  It felt good to remember and talk about all of the people who we love, but are no longer with us.   They are not forgotten. 

We have a new family tradition in the making....and all because of a pink, vintage thrift store coat.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Adventures of Fire Squirrel and Zombie Hunter

halloween masks
Fire Squirrel and Zombie Hunter

"So what do you want to be for Halloween?"  is a question that gets asked very early on in my house. The children are encouraged to create characters of their own; there is a lot of evolution in this process. This year they finally settled on Fire Squirrel and Zombie Hunter. I've asked them to tell my readers a little about their characters.....(their responses have been slightly edited to remove all of the ands and umms)....  

steampunk hat
A little robot on the hat let's Zombie Hunter know when zombies will attack. 

Introducing Zombie Hunter....

"Zombie Hunter is part of a team that includes, Werewolf Slayer, Vampire Tracker, and Mummy Buster.         They save people from zombies, werewolves, vampires and mummies. I wear a mask to disguise my face.  Half of my face is all red, except for my eye. One night, right at midnight, I saw a zombie in the middle of the road. I braked, but crashed into the zombie anyway. In the car accident, parts of the window fell and hurt my face. After the crash I noticed a mysterious gun, cape, and mask in the trunk of the car. I put the mask on and it healed my face, but my face is still red under the mask. I used the gun to kill the zombie that was in the middle of the road. Now, I hang out in the graveyard until about midnight, that's when the zombies start to come out."

steampunk mask
Zombie Hunter looking very Steampunk 

fire squirrel
Fire Squirrel and her bushy squirrel tail

So, tell me a little bit about Fire Squirrel....

"Fire Squirrel is a squirrel with fire all over. Her super powers are flying and helping. If there is a fire she gets a hose and a ladder. Fire Squirrel climbs up the ladder to rescue people and animals. She sprays water so there is no more fire. She can do anything she wants to do.  
Fire Squirrel can make cookies without even cooking them. When Fire Squirrel goes into the dark woods to look for hazelnuts, she finds tons.  She makes her hazelnuts into cookies. Fire Squirrel does a giant jump up and catches an owl. Owl and Fire Squirrel share three or four cookies. Owl decides to live with Fire Squirrel and they become super friends."     

fire mask
Fire Mask!

squirrel costume
Without her mask you can see her little squirrel ears

squirrel costume

"So what do be next year for Halloween?"......"I want to be Fire Eagle!"....."I want to be a leaf Fairy."
.....and so the planning begins.