Archive for April, 2012

Tea, Timers, Starfish & Coffee

Sometimes, the old fashioned way just feels better.

Tom and I have developed a bit of a tea habit. We like white teas, and green teas, and black teas, and ginger teas. (Although I am lazy about loose leaf. I tend to buy high quality bagged tea, such as Mighty Leaf and Tea Forte.)

We like tea pots too. The small Japanese tea pot. The smaller Chinese tea pot. The big dragon-themed tea pot that I inherited from my Grandmother (which has the faces in the cups, I posted about earlier).

What we don’t like is boiling our water, steeping our tea…and then forgetting about it. For some reason, we just don’t use our watch timers, or our electronic kitchen timer that sits right by the stove.

I’m not sure why, but digital just doesn’t seem to jibe with the process of making and sipping and appreciating tea.

So there we were, middle-aged farts with the short-term memory of fruit flies (we like to blame this on the children) who were letting their tea over steep…sometimes for half an hour!

What to do?

Tom found the perfect solution in my Christmas present last year: an old-fashioned, totally retro, bright yellow mechanical timer. We all love it, and somehow, it seems to fit perfectly with the ceremony that is tea drinking.

As an added bonus, the sound of the timer reminds us all of the bell that rings at the beginning of Starfish and Coffee, by Prince.

Perfect, since it’s one of our favorite family songs!

Three Bunnies and a Bald Eagle

Tom and I had a lovely taste of two things yesterday: spring, and unexpectedly being child-free for much of the afternoon and evening!

We took advantage of this windfall and hoofed our old asses out to Sauvie Island for a stroll along the Oak Island Nature Trail, which takes visitors around the peninsula of the same name.

It was dusk by the time we finished, the light was incredible, and I was lamenting the fact that I hadn’t thought to bring my camera. We could see Mount St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood as if they were a mere few feet away, but unfortunately I only had my less than stellar phone to try to capture the moment. The picture on the upper left is the best I could do, with Adams and St. Helens reflected in the still waters. We basked in this truly stupendous view for awhile. (click to enlarge)

Our highly underdeveloped bird watching skills really paid off, as we were able to spy a GIGANTIC bald eagle surveying its domain high in a tree just off the trail. I’ve seen a lot of osprey, but not yet a bald eagle at that distance. It was enormous, and amazing. Later, as we rounded the point, we came to an area where the branches were literally festooned with large nests, and then, standing apart from them all, was what appeared to be a freaking tree house. Being natural…well…naturalists, we figured that must be the home of the bald eagle, and a palace it was. (Second picture below shows the nest if you enlarge.)

In communing with Gaea, we enjoyed the refuge meets farm view (bottom left) and the wild grasses (bottom right). On our walk, we also spotted three bunnies hopping down the trail, across the trail, and into the bushes.

I love Portland, that such amenities are nearby. That it is relatively bug free, so I don’t have to slather myself in insect repellent. And, that as a community, the public and private sector are dedicated to the preservation of our natural environment.

Happy Earth Day!

More on Home Homework

We consider it to be good news that Zoe’s entry into middle school has brought with it a dramatic decrease in the types of projects that require Tom and I to be engaged parents. (Please see the edible Portland Bridge project or the edible map of Oregon.)

We aren’t out of the woods yet, though. Zelda is still in fifth grade, and so far this school year, we have had two large poster projects. (Thankfully, nothing edible and no projects with plants that get sent home, but for which we don’t have a spot.)

The two posters she worked on this year are pictured here (click to enlarge and enjoy them in all of their glory)! The first one probably taught Zelda the most, which was the Comet showcase. She launched into that particular poster by creating a forest green border without considering any other layout or design decisions, which she grew to regret later. For this poster, everything had to be done by hand.

I made her sketch out a layout and design for each element, and then we worked on them together. She traced, stenciled, ink blocked, drew, glued, pasteled, and wrote her way through this poster pretty successfully. Even managing to incorporate the green into the title. She particularly liked the purple stenciled border in the bottom right.

Her second project was to create a movie poster for a biography of Jackie Kennedy’s life. This time, she was much more prepared. Out of the gate, she came up with a layout and theme that were very good and that we followed pretty darn closely.

She was a little freaked out about separating Jackie’s visage into four sections, but in the end, decided that it brought attention to her face, which was the point. She warned me though, “Mom, all the other kids are going to ask why her face is in squares.” Sure enough, when she toted the poster to school, her fellow fifth graders, trying to bring order to their visual universe, asked Zelda why she didn’t glue the pieces together without gaps.

The good news with these two projects? No leftover licorice…and we didn’t have to eat any of it!