Saturday, March 20, 2010

Crafty Overflow

I've been sick the last week, and completely unable to do anything I wanted to do. I settled for sleep and video games, when really I wanted to be baking, drawing, knitting, crocheting, running, ANYTHING but lying in bed. Today is the first day that I've actually felt about normal and I seized it. Quiet vigorously.

It all started with my shower, which has been in need of a cleaning for awhile. The constant cycle of vacuuming dog hair and cleaning cat boxes has left me little patience to do the required abnormal chores, and this one was low energy so I figured it was safe. Boy was I wrong. There I am in grimy clothes, scrubbing the floor of my shower, considering how to best tackle the mess on the bathroom sink, when BAM! I'm struck with creative genius.

There's been a miniature binder clip on my bathroom counter for at least a month now. Why? I have no freaking clue. But as I was cursing downtown water I remembered my love of clipping things with binder clips (why I have it in the first place) and that you can attach the clips to things. One mental flash of the array of random junk my roommates and I leave around for each other.. and I was off to the sketch book. Hour and a half later I've got a finished project on my dining room table. Oh ADD.. I'm so glad you survived the flu.

I give you, the message board. Look, Ma!

I used a broken IKEA frame, minus the glass, as the base for the board. The top is painted with chalkboard paint and the bottom is covered in some scrap fabric with scrap fleece under it for some padding. I used thumb tacks to attach the binder clips to the board and frame body, as well as just to attach the fabric to the back of the board. Aside from the thumb tacks, all the materials and supplies for this project were found in my stash. Yay for finally having a solid stash!

Oh. And my shower's still half cleaned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pi Day Pies

It's Pi Day. That deems worthy of a sacrifice. A pie sacrifice.
I haven't yet acquired a pie pan since moving to San Jose and the last pie I made was in one of those disposable tin pans that comes with pre-made dough. A Pi Day pie requires something better then store bought, mass produced dough. It requires dedication and love that only a homemade pie can deliver. Due to the inability to actually decide on a single pie filling, I came to the conclusion that several pies would needed. Just miniature versions. And, of course, one large one as well.

A trip to William-Sonama failed to produce the miniature pie pans I was hoping for, but I did manage to find mini deep dish pizza pans. Not only do I think they'll produce some fine pies, but I think I'll enjoy using them for their original purpose as well. Nothing like personal deep dish for dinner. Mm Mmmm.

Crust's first, as it takes some time to prep. Shaun had mentioned a vodka crust that did amazing things once baked. A quick search and I came across the recipe from Serious Eats for Cook's Illustrated Foolproof Pie Dough. 30 minutes later, I had four mini crusts and 1 big crust all ready and in my fridge to chill. After they'd chilled for about an hour, I took one out and spread it into one of the mini pans. The dough was extremely sticky, and nearly impossible to work with. After much stretching and pulling, I managed to get all the pans somewhat covered with the dough. It wasn't perfect, far from it, but it would do the trick.

I originally planned to make each pie a different flavor, but I couldn't find a recipe I was happy with for each fruit. I eventually settled on the standards: Apple, Peach, and Strawberry. Two mini Apple pies, two mini Peach, and one large and oh so delicious Strawberry. Have I mentioned I live above a grocery store and that I love it? Because one sprint down the stairs and I soon had all the fruit I needed to make my pies: 4 apples, 4 peaches, and 3 baskets of giant strawberries. Each pie is based off of a recipe I found online. Mini Mansions Tea Room Glazed Strawberry Pie recipe from CDKitchen, minus the glaze, was the inspiration for the Strawberry Pie. Novel Eat's Mini Apple Pie and Pete Bakes!'s Peach Pie provided the fillings for the other pies.

Overall the pies didn't turn out half bad. There are definitely things I would change with the crust, as well as making sure I had enough for a proper lattice for each pie.. but overall, t'was a good Pie day. Even though I woke up sick the next morning and began my week of suffering...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

MOVE Forward

I doubt that I've mentioned publicly, anywhere online, the current situation my family finds itself in. It's something extremely personal to me, the hardships we're facing, and I hate to bring it up in the off chance we'll be pitied or given special treatment beyond reason. My opinion on horrid life events is that it's all just apart of Life. Everything that we experience is what makes us who we are and simply comes with the territory of living. Really and truly living. With a great life comes great challenges. You can decide to skip or avoid some of those challenges, if you want, but just remember your final score is affected.

The biggest issue that my family currently faces is my grandmother's Alzheimer's disease. She was diagnosed about 3-4 years ago when we started to notice her memory slipping. She was also diagnosed with dementia at the same time, which seemed to just make her memory loss a lot more interesting. In the beginning, we all treated her with kid gloves about her disease. Let her believe that she would get better. We believed she would get better. She's not going to get better.

Alzheimer's and dementia are both terminal diseases, the combination of which is even more harsh on the mind and people affected. Imagine that you are slowly and steadily losing your memory and sense of being in the real world. Time no longer has meaning to you, people are no longer recognizable. Now imagine that you're also losing the ability to see the real world. You see things that your brain imagines, dropped into the typical and calm state of your being. People disappear in front of your eyes and your worst fears are realized at a moment's notice. Or, at least what your brain is telling you you're seeing.

Nanny is terrified of being alone. You have to constantly remind her of your presence, otherwise she loses you in the chaos of her memory. There are multiple people flowing in and out of her world, constantly leaving and coming when you are there. And when you're gone, there is no one there to talk to her or take care of her. I am Tiffany, Debbie, the girls, and her granddaughter, all in one. I am one of the lucky family members in that each incarnation of me is loved. I'm also one of the most unlucky, as when one of my incarnations is not with her, she is constantly asking for me. We are each lucky and unlucky when it comes to our interactions with Nanny, and we each try to support each other, to reaffirm that we know that her perspective is not always accurate.

The little things that we do to help ourselves and her are all varied. I want to be there for her, and my grandfather, in every way I can. Physical presence is obviously preferred. I also want to use my various talents to help us all cope a little. I got the hair-brained idea a few weeks ago to craft various items, all incorporating the Alzheimer's Association's logo into their design, and sell them and their patterns on Etsy, or Ravelry. I would like all the proceeds to go to helping purchase me plane tickets, from California to Florida, every month, to help my grandparents transition their lifestyle to something more supportive of their situation. Currently, I can only afford trips every two or three months, which is no where near enough to make an impact. Ideally, I would be able to be there every week, every day, and every hour, but my grandfather refuses to let me put my career on hold like that. I don't want people to just give me this money. I want to earn it. Anything extra that I make I intend to donate to the Alzheimer's Association.

I've already filled several pages of my sketch book with ideas for patterns and projects that I can sell. To kinda ensure myself that this isn't just something I'm going to toss out there, I made a shawl for Nan, kinda just to prove to myself that I can turn out items quickly when I put my mind to it. Overall, the shawl took me about an evening to complete. I managed to bust through two of my stash skeins, so that's also another victory. Hopefully soon I'll be able to post a pic of a completed original design/pattern.

I don't want to turn this blog into an Alzheimer's support forum, that's not it's purpose. I'm also pretty sure I'd go crazy constantly writing up all the depressing things that are happening. I am, however, going to continue to post on the issues we, and all those people effected by this disease, face, as well as information about how I, and others cope in crafty ways.

Monday, March 1, 2010

This is Genius!

Okay, so I'm a bit of an online comic geek. I don't normally blast this out to the general public, but this one is just too good to pass up.

Imagined by five year old Malachai Nicolle and given life by his older brother Ethan Nicolle, Axe Cop brings the insanity of the child's mind to the internet. The saga is based on an adventure that the brothers embarked on during Ethan's recent trip back home, and has grown into an online sensation. After an almost instant-success story, Malachai and Ethan are continuing to produce as many comics as the attention span of a five year old can produce over any extended period of time.

I honestly can't stop cracking up at Axe Cop, Flute Dinosaur and all their other super-heroes' adventures. The thing that I love best about this whole story is that Ethan was just making a fun comic for him and his brother, and now he's a hit. It's been only a month and he's already getting shout-outs from a famous comic artist. Just Google "Axe Cop" and you'll see what I mean.

Here's to hoping they fair well in the limelight.