Tuesday
Jan232007

Make a [back]splash



When we designed our kitchen renovation, I knew I wanted something unique for the backsplashes, filling that crucial space between the soapstone counters and the cherry Mission-style cabinets. We researched a lot of different options, but nothing seemed quite right. Then Patrick had the brilliant idea of asking our friend Seth Fairweather to design something for us.

Seth is a glass blower, but we knew he had recently been dabbling with casting glass as well. I asked him to make some sketches for some glass panels with our tastes in mind. Seth knows how much I love the Arts & Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelites; he said the the verticality of our kitchen chairs (our seats are not upholstered) and cabinets reminded him of barrel vaults in a cathedral.

I was thrilled with Seth's sketches; they featured little medieval workers building a cathedral, with each panel broken up by pillars of the vaulting. We asked him to cast the panels, and he got right to work. Once our cabinets and countertops were installed, Seth came down from school to install the panels. The glass was devitrified, and when the little glass bullets melted in the molds, they retained a bit of their own shape, so the surface of the glass looks like a stone mosaic.

Seth and I had discussed whether or not to paint the glass; I finally decided that I would, so that the relief of the characters and architectural details would be more apparent. Above are before and after photos of the first panel. This panel is above the counter where I do my baking, and has the most elaborate details. I especially love the rose window. The rustic style evokes woodcuts and illuminations of the Middle Ages for me; I think it's a great contrast against the clean lines of the cabinets and woodwork.

One panel down; three more to go. The other panels will be less work, since I'll just use the cream wash on most of them to highlight the figures. I'll post again when they are done.

Sunday
Jan212007

Mad Hatter





Daniel asked for a hat, which coincided nicely with my new resolve to knit down that stash in the attic. This stripy number is some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran leftover from a yoked Fair Isle sweater I knit for myself a couple of years ago. I think I still have enough left for one more hat; I may make a spare to have in the hall closet, just in case.

Hope begged in on the photo shoot; I acquiesced, since her hat hadn't been published yet.
Question: Is Daniel this happy all the time? Answer: Yes, actually--pretty much.

Sunday
Jan212007

Macaroni & Hope


Hope strapped on the apron for CIA night this weekend. Macaroni & Cheese from scratch was her dish of choice--as opposed to the Annie's boxed stuff the kids get (and love) whenever there's a babysitter for the evening. A-grating she went, only grazing her knuckles twice in the process. Once again, the Cook's Illustrated recipe delivered. The casserole was creamy, smooth, and cheesy without strings. Salad and ice cream completed the evening.
We're all enjoying the cooking tutorials; James already is browsing through cookbooks and planning his next turn in the kitchen.

Sunday
Jan212007

Cat and Mouse




Right now, Daniel is obsessed with his Baby Mousie costume. He wants to wear it most days; fortunately, he hasn't insisted on wearing it to church. It's an extra layer of clothing, nice on freezing cold days like we've finally been having.
Goldberry is very tolerant of the kids' displays of affection.

Friday
Jan192007

Winter Games


Christian got a great game for Christmas. The object of Carcassonne (photo above) is to build a medieval landscape using tiles that have roads, farm, cities, and cloisters on them, scoring as many points as possible for claiming and completing the various items. Friends have told us that the game can get quite cutthroat, but we (and I'm trying hard not to be smug about this) really enjoy the cooperative alternative. Helping each other build an aesthetically pleasing country (with no square holes in the topography) has been more fun than scoring at someone else's expense every time. The game suggests that it is for ages 10 and up, but even 5-year-old Tess can play with a little coaching.
Patrick and I are big fans of Settlers of Catan as long as we can play with our friends Herb and Elizabeth. They are both smarter in general and better at this particular game than we are, but are so kind and apologetic as they win that it's fun and instructive every time. We can only play three or four times a year; Settlers requires a significant investment of time. Fortunately, their kids and ours can amuse themselves together quite well when we get together.
Karen and Ron introduced us to Pick Two. This game now rivals Big Boggle as my favorite game ever, and it's way more fun than Scrabble (no more interminable waiting for someone to set down a word). Apparently, it's now being marketed as its own game, but all you really need is a set of Scrabble tiles (I like playing with three sets at a time).
Turn all the tiles face down; each player draws seven tiles. Turn them over all at once and begin building your own crossword puzzle, freestyle, right on the table--no board needed. Scrabble word rules apply. When you've used all your tiles, shout out, "Pick two." Each player chooses two more tiles to add to their own puzzle. When all the tiles have been taken, the first player to use all his/her tiles wins. You can keep score if you wish, subtracting the values of the unused tiles from the losers' scores, but we never do this. A potentially hilarious option is to require each player to tell a story using all the words in his/her puzzle. Our kids love this game; it's quick and challenging. We're happy to help James and Hope with their construction, but Tess is happy making up her own words.
I love to sit with the family around the table, everyone glowing in the lamplight as they concentrate on the play at hand. What do you do when it's too dark and cold to play games outside?