Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garden Update

When you factor in the cost of the dirt, water, compost & my man hours, this strawberry should cost around $125.

But this face is worth about $1,000,000, so we're cool.

When I planted this garden, my main goal was to grow veggies for a gazpacho. It's even on my list. Well. I made the gazpacho for book club today. Here's what was ripe last night when I went a-pickin'.

I'm calling it good on a technicality.

My take on the world's best gazpacho here.

(Thanks, Vincent, for the encouragement with the strawberries!)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Modern Art (or, Oh Jeff Koons You Are a Joker)

We took Dash to the contemporary wing at LACMA. We were kinda wandering around, looking for that garage installation that used to be there but is apparently in storage & I can't for the life of me even remember the name of the artist (I thought it was Keinholz, but maybe not. Do you remember, smart people?).

Anyway, at one point Dash started pulling on my arm. He wanted to go back and look at something again. My little art-loving heart skipped a beat and off we ran!

Can you hear the security guards laughing from where you are? Yeah, me, too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ring Pillow

Jen & Tom are getting married and I get to help a little! Wee!

The design for the ring pillow came from Jen & Tom's wedding invitations:

Right? Cutest ever.

But I had to take a little creative license with the beaks. They were meant to be the same greenish blue as the green bird's legs, but they were almost impossible to see in that color. Trust me. I tried 4 times, 4 different ways. So I made them brown.

For the stuffing, I cut some scraps of linen and wrote down wishes for their marriage. Obvious things like babies and prosperity and abundance. But also the things people don't think to wish for but usually need. Like a housekeeper and comfortable shoes. They went into the pillow along with some regular pillow stuffing for loft.

I appliqued the fabric birdies onto a nice, nubby, natural linen. I embroidered their initials & dates using my new favorite font, procured for free from this genius.

Here is the completed ring pillow hanging out near some books. I had to put the ribbon for the rings in the corner. I hope it's ok. Josh & I did a dry run and it worked great, but I think we won't know for sure until Jen & Tom try it out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Happiest Effing Place on Earth!

Hey! We went to Disneyland for my birthday! It was awesome and a little bit totally terrible, but mostly awesome!

We made the awful, awful mistake of telling Dash ahead of time that we were going. The child did not sleep a wink the night before. And because we were all three sharing the world's bounciest hotel bed that night, neither did his parents.

I have some notes about our visit. Try to contain your excitement.

A big portion of the day looked like this. Which sucked so, so bad because...

This is how much it costs to go to Disneyland. Not counting the custom double light-saber built for Dash the Ungrateful Turd by Josh the Loving Dad Who Totally Wished He Could Just Keep the Light Saber for His Own Damn Self.

Here's me on our first ride of the day, before it started. I won't post the picture of me on it after it started because you don't want to know what a grown woman clinging for dear life onto a kiddie ride looks like. Seriously, I'm still a little embarrassed thinking about it.

Is it weird that we did not see a single Mickey or Minnie or Donald or anything except Buzz & the Mad Hatter? I'm not that broken up about it because those things kinda scare me, but still. Weird. Dash was a little wary of Buzz (we had to kind of shove him into position because he wanted a parent between him & the giant toy at all times). But there were no hysterics, so that was cool.

That button I'm wearing tells people that it's my birthday. When the first couple of people said, "Happy Birthday, Liz!" I was kind of delighted. Hey! Total strangers want me to have a happy birthday! Ok! But after ten hours of constantly hearing people yell your name, you kinda start to freak out. I don't know why I didn't just take off the button. Probably the same reason I insisted on wearing that hat (really Dash's kids menu from lunch) for an hour after we ate. (I'm being a pirate in that picture. If you couldn't tell).

I just wanted to include this picture to show that he wasn't obnoxious the whole, entire day. There were actually large portions where he was a delight. Look at that smile. Come on! Look at it!

Dash says that Star Tours was his favorite ride. (I think he actually believes that he was in outer space which is so totally awesome). But I think that weird Innoventions house was a close second. We just wandered over there while waiting for Josh & Aunty to come down off of Space Mountain, but I couldn't get him back out again.

Have you guys heard of this house? Me neither. It's like this wacky "House of the Future," where all the pictures on the walls are screens that you can change (from knights & dragons to a waterfall, etc.) and all kinds of other assorted wackiness. But, the most important part is that there is karaoke. The song & video playing on the screen behind Dash were from High School Musical. He was singing the Imperial March. I've said it before and I'll say it again: NERDS!

I would like to take this opportunity to remind readers that I pulled Dash out of his last school because another kid said the words, "gun" and "shoot" to my kid. I'm not joking. I PULLED HIM OUT OF THE SCHOOL. Cut to less than one year later. Those are cap guns. Which came with a belt and holsters. He sleeps with them at night. You know, instead of a teddy bear.

We had some silhouettes cut of the three of us (p.s: if the selling point of the silhouette maker is that it'll take less than a minute, prolly won't be the world's greatest likeness. At all). While we were there, Dash "died." Here he is being "dead." Please note that his t-shirt says, "peace." Oh, irony.

No trip to Disneyland is complete without a set of mouse ears. Do you know how much these cost? Go on, guess. Thirteen dollars, that's how much! Seriously, Disneyland, I know you're all crazy with the prices, but just...seriously. Also, please to enjoy Dash's "fuck you" smile.

We had Dash's name embroidered onto the ears, because that's what one does. The woman at the place refused to believe that his name was really Dash, despite our repeated assurances. She told us that they weren't allowed to do nicknames and then proceeded to ask Dash his name. She was trying to catch us in a lie & wanted our three-year-old to sell us out. Anyway, later, I was all, "how can they possibly know if something is a nickname? Do you think they question every single person with an unusual name? And why do they even care?" And Josh was all, "Well, if someone comes up and is all, 'I want it to say Pookie...'" and it is a week later and that still makes me laugh. I don't know why.

And the day ended about how every day ends when you're an Engel man: light saber vs. shooters on the grass. This time they just happened to be in the Disneyland parking lot.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Color Hunt

Oh my God, it's so fucking hot. All the time. Just hot and sticky and hot. So hot that when I headed out to do a little yard work at 9am on Saturday Josh came chasing after me with cold water and an "Extreme Heat Warning!" At 9am!

Anyway, on Sunday morning I knew I had a very small window of time to get Dash out of the house (and out from in front of the tv--no small feat on the weekends). So I devised a scavenger hunt, kinda. Instead of making a list of things for Dash to find, I settled on colors. I just painted a dot of color into each of the cups in an egg carton and set out with Dash to find an object to match each color.

Although I'm pretty sure Dash could manage a traditional scavenger hunt, I thought that getting him to see the colors in our little garden would help him to actually see it, and think of it as a part of his home and his world, rather than just as a place to fish his baseballs out of after a stray pitch. I wanted him to actually look around rather than zero in on where he knew he could find a rock or a leaf or a tree.

And you know what? It went totally differently than I expected. Rather than choose from the huge, riotously-yellow Black-Eyed Susans, he plucked a teensy, pale yellow bloom off of a weed. Instead of choosing one of the millions of river rocks that line our side yard for gray, he picked a feather off the lawn.

Every time, he chose the least obvious (to me) thing. Every time I tried to lead him to a color, he resisted and found his own, more obscure path. It's an interesting (and slightly disconcerting) realization for me--that his world is made up of things that are almost invisible to me, and likely vice-versa.

He only finished half of the colors before getting bored and giving up. But I think we'll keep trying. I'm excited to discover more of his world and the hidden things that make it up.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Seven years ago today I was doing this:

Happy Anniversary, Gyne. You are the love of my life every minute of every day.

Who Wants to See Something Cute?

Internet, I am proud to present to you the newest additions to the Engel clan: [now with edits]

Pippi Longstocking Engel [What I meant to say was Winston Churchill Engel]

Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo Engel [Um, actually Lou C. Engel. The C is for Value.]

You'll notice we named them after two of our our favorite red-headed ladies fellas.

But we're now fairly certain they're both boys [yup]. We'll find out for sure later today from the vet.

So maybe you've actually just met Ira Winston & Lou.

Either way, SQUEE! KITTEHS!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth

We took Dash to the circus last night. Jesus Christ he hated it.

Well, after the cotton candy, popcorn, s'mores on a stick (most genius concept ever) were gone. He was pretty happy when he had the lapful of sugar, carbs & fat to address.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Craft Hope 3

I know a little something about babies and their relationships with blankets. Dash's love for his Nana is famous among those who know us.

With Nana on Father's Day

When it's time for sleep, the first question is "where's Nana?" (Once we forgot to bring Nana to school. I think his teacher is still not recovered from the hysterics that ensued).

Even Superheroes needs their Nanas

When there's an injury to be addressed, the first wail is never for Mama or Daddy. Nana first, every time. (It's kind of how we know he's really hurt and not just whining.) When Dash is tired or grumpy, there must be Nana to smell and rub on his nose. Sometimes, when he's very, very tired, we'll hear from the back seat of the car, "My Nana, she is a sweet Nana."

Nana as tablecloth at the Angels game.

Dash has three Nanas in rotation. I live in fear that something might happen to one of them, because Nana has been discontinued and is selling on Ebay for upwards of $50. But I know that if push comes to shove, I'll pay it. Because Nana is important. Nana helps make my baby feel safe.

So, when I'm told that orphaned babies need Nanas (or Blankies, or Silkies or whatever) and that I can help, well, I help. Because I get it. Because my child has two parents and a whole giant network of people who would kill for him and still, he needs that little extra comfort. Because babies with none of what he has could probably use a little of that comfort, too.

Craft Hope 3's call went out for baby blankets and beanies (along with booties that I was too intimidated to attempt) for childrens homes in India. I made four blankets and six beanies.

I made beanies from this pattern once before, for Amanda Soule's Mama to Mama project. It was a great way to upcycle some promotional t-shirts Josh never wore, and was so incredibly simple. Now that I'm a very slightly better sewer, they took maybe 15 minutes from start to finish. And they're so cute! With the little knot up top. Come on!

Because it's hot where these blankets are going, they don't include any batting. It's just a piece of cotton flannel backed with a piece of yellow gingham (also cotton, of course; can't have any polyester rubbing up against any naked baby parts).

Each blanket took a yard of each fabric that shrunk up just a little in the wash. I think they'll be a good size for swaddling or just for a comfort Nana for older kids.

Thanks again, Jade, for the opportunity to remember how very, very blessed and lucky our family is, to be so rich in Nanas and resources that we even have a little left over to for those who have none.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Our Summer Thus Far

So we're about two weeks into Summer 2009. Here's what we've been up to:

These are the Anaheim chilies that we're growing. For our (mine & Aunty Kala's) BBQ birthday/4th of July extravaganza, I cut them in half, stuffed them with cream cheese and wrapped them in bacon. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes and you're instantly everyone's best friend. I also did a batch with Jalapenos for the bad-asses in our crew. The recipe came from this woman who is an evil genius and I'd like to know why she doesn't weigh 280 lbs.

Speaking of FOOD that is GROWING in our BACK YARD, here are the first few cherry tomatoes. We've had one or two ready to eat about every evening since last Friday. We give them to Dash, who says they're tasty. Neither Josh nor I have actually gotten to eat one yet.

Tomatoes in hand.

Going in.

Stuffed in cheek, like a squirrel. (Dash calls that board a gibby board. We don't know why, but we go with it. Josh & I both live in fear that we're one swim lesson away from his learning the truth. Gibby board is incomparably superior to boogie board.)

Dash's school had a 4th of July party and I was in charge of the handprint flag. I may have overshot with the size of the fabric because by the time I had run out of kids, I still had about half the flag undone. So I did what any obsessive compulsive crafter would do. I folded it up, snuck it out and had Dash finish it at home.

No one will be the wiser. Unless they find this blog.

Every now and again Dash will ask to play Josh's trumpet.

It's awesome.

We bought this Spiderman slip 'n slide last night and Josh had it all set up for him tonight before dinner.

You know, it's not that easy to explain to a three-year-old how to hurl himself onto a slip 'n slide. We greased up his belly with sunscreen and Josh had to kinda fling him down it.

I think he liked it.