Sunday, November 25, 2012

December Tis the Season to Send, Send, Send!

This year I've had a personal goal of sending out at least two pieces of snail mail a week. Letter writing is a art that is rapidly falling to the wayside and this is my own humble effort to keep the tradition alive. Most of what I send hasn't been letters at all. I've sent mostly cards and art made by the kids or myself. Still I have fallen behind on my goal. Thankfully the holiday offer fabulous momentum to send, send, send!
Here is a sneak peak at what will be going out in December:
Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grandma's Cider Pie

Cider pie is one of my favorite fall treats. It was one of the pies that my Grandmother would make in the fall when we had fresh cider. It was such a staple of my childhood that when I reached adulthood I was surprised at how few people had tasted or even heard of it. It is very easy to make - and if you substitute margarine for butter in the crust, it can even be vegan.
My cousin posted our Grandmother's recipe HERE. I change it up a little by using less sugar (a scant cup) and adding a dash of powdered ginger. If you are one of those people who is super impatient about stirring (guilty), you can cheat and add the cornstarch mixed with a half cup of cold cider into the rest of the ingredients as they simmer, constantly stirring as it thickens and clears. You can also fancy it up by adding a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pizza Party - Toddler Art Project

Pizza Party – Toddler Art Project

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Pizza

Books: Pizza at Sally’s by Monica Wellington, Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig

Brown Construction paper (heavy weight works best)
Assorted scraps and colors of construction paper & tissue paper
Yarn scraps, fabric scraps, foam bits, packing peanuts, sequins, buttons, etc
Small paper plates (optional - for ‘serving’)
Adults (& some kids) get to use Scissors

Prep: Cut pizza crusts from brown construction paper. I cut three triangular slices per sheet, but you can also make Sicilian style rectangles, or personal pan circles. Prepare toppings such as red and orange tissue scrap sauce, yarn cheese, green pepper paper slices, packing peanut sausage, etc.

Activity: Each child gets a ‘crust’, glue, a paper plate and an assortment of toppings. Make a custom slice! You can suggest that sauce and cheese be the first two toppings, but there is no wrong way to top a pizza. Serve paper pizza on paper plates.

Notes/Tips: You can use a hole punch to ‘pit’ black olive circles and onion rings shape themselves when card stock is cut in a thin spiral. When choosing toppings avoid potential choking hazards such as buttons for little ones. This activity can be made longer by making it a pizza shop game where children make and serve slices to order.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What Sandy Left Behind

After the Hurricane
Surreal. I am not sure if there is a better word to describe it.

A week ago we were preparing for a hurricane. It was a halfhearted effort as we danced back and forth across the line between preparedness and hype. For as long as I have lived here severe weather events could be described by words like: inconvenient, uncomfortable, or an adventure (like sleeping in the back yard as a kid was an adventure). The danger aspect of storms was isolated and short lived (unless someone acted stupid – and there are always a few who do). It wasn’t that New Yorkers didn’t think it could happen here, as my Companion pointed out; it is just that it never had…

Then, under the light of the full moon, in came Sandy with the tide…

Even after the worst storms things are back to a relative normal here in a few days… Call it denial, willful ignorance, arrogance: call it whatever you want but most people here really expected Sandy to be the same - Even after it hit… Even after the lights went out… Even when they woke the next day and looked around… Even after they saw the pictures on TV…  But here it is almost a week later and things aren’t back to normal… Normal will sooner be redefined…

We – my family and I - are blessed to be in a place that has been relatively unaffected. It has been inconvenient, uncomfortable, a bit of an adventure but nothing perilous. But the other three sides of our block and a lot of other patches in our neighborhood are still without power. A mile south of us, flooded basements are being gutted in hopes of minimizing mold and contamination. Beyond that is the Queens war zone sans enemy; Broad Channel, Rockaway, Far Rockaway, Breezy Point… Top it off those areas can only be reached, coming or going, by car. Even if you have one, and less here do than don’t, gas is getting harder to come by… 

New Yorkers do not take kindly to being called victims. Let me let you in on a secret – no-one does! The title of “Victim” implies powerless, helpless, weak. Even when voiced by the best intentioned, it creates a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’. “Victim” is an impediment. It gives the power to the helper. In the face of a task so daunting, we need to feel empowered. Call your neighbors neighbors. Call your friends friends. Heck – you can call a stranger a stranger who you can see needs a hand. Help is easier to give than to ask for. The word “Victim” can make it harder…

Right now, as I write this, there are a lot of people who need a hand. Many have never had to ask for help beyond their immediate family before. Few have ever faced a situation like they are facing now. Some are behaving poorly in the face of adversity. Most are behaving honorably. Even those like my family, who were effected minimally by the storm itself, are facing residual and unexpected challenges. We are all moving forward towards the new normal.

No one is quite sure what it is going to feel like - but we are sure that life hasn’t gotten back to it yet. Normal doesn’t feel so surreal.
Six Ways to Respond

Send a care package or an envelope with $20 in it to a random address at the edge of an impacted zone. Ask the addressee to use or deliver to a family in need. Trust that stranger to do what is right.

Support a small business or Etsy vendor in an effected area by ordering holiday gifts from them.

Foster a pet for a displaced family.

When people are tired, upset, lost, angry, cold, confused, etc, acknowledge that no-one is at their best when they feel that way and don’t take it personally.

When you are tired, upset, lost, angry, cold, confused, etc try not to take it out on others.

Send thank-you letters to first responders.