6 in a million giraffes

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a friend telling me about a cool online project: One Million Giraffes. Someone has started a website where he has the goal of collecting, as you might guess, one million giraffes. What you might not guess is that he is trying to do so by 2011, and that he wants all the giraffes to be created by participants without using a computer as part of the creative process. (For the full rules and more details, check out the rules page. There’s even a blog featuring favorite giraffes.)

Whereas my immediate response in learning of this project was to make some giraffes, it has taken me over a month to actually send mine in. But I’m happy to say that I uploaded my photo of 6 giraffes last night, and they now appear on the site. They are currently on page 2 of the site, but I expect they’ll be bumped down pretty fast. For the direct link, go here.

Here are the giraffes I cut out the same night I got the email–I took a piece of orange construction paper, folded it into 6, and cut the giraffes in a stack free-form. Then I taped them to the window.

These are not llamas.

Phoebe observed, very observantly, that my giraffes had no tails, and that giraffes have tails. She was right, and my giraffes looked more llama-like than giraffe-like. So, I retrieved them and retooled them to be tailed.

I also liked this picture of their shadows.

hellfire and dalmatian

Hellfire and dalmatian.

As I mentioned, Phoebe wanted to be a firefighter for Halloween this year. Her costume turned out to be a cinch. She’d gotten a freebie fire hat at a recent daycare field trip to the firestation, and then our daycare provider had some other firefighter costume gear to lend us. A totally free costume.

Seeing as he doesn’t yet have a say in the matter, I figured I would dress Theo to go along with Phoebe’s firefighter. (As you may have noticed, I’m all about going with themes.) At first, I thought, “Theo can be a fire!” As I thought about the costume, however, I realized that there was a good chance that he would end up looking like a baby on fire. Um…perhaps a tad more disturbing than I had in mind.

So, the plan was to go with a dalmatian (the traditional firehouse dog).

For the pre-Halloween party on Tuesday, I hadn’t managed to get a dalmatian costume together. Theo went as a (very cute, and still black and white spotted) cow, instead. On Wednesday, I stopped by a used children’s store (where they sell used things for children, not actual used children). I had plans to get some white clothes, a white hoodie if possible, to which I would affix black spots, a tail, and some ears.

As it happened, the store had a rack of Halloween costumes. Which were additionally marked down. And there was a dalmatian costume. In Theo’s size. For $4.00. Suddenly, the whole home-made costume idea seemed like it would be a big ordeal.

Apparently, though, I still had a hankering for assembling a Halloween costume, because I decided to put together a costume for myself. I would be the fire to go along with the theme. I wore a red shirt layered over an orange shirt, along with an orange and red swirly-patterned shawl that I happened to have picked up for 1 euro at a Sevilla flea market. I fashioned a hat out of fleece left over from Theo’s carrot costume from last year, and attached flames of red and orange tissue paper to it with staples. (I was in a hurry. I made the hat this afternoon while Theo napped.)

I was quite pleased with the end result, especially considering that I bought nothing new to make my costume.

Of course, wearing this hat around our neighborhood reminded me of something: the fact that I have no dignity.

John, on the other hand, has some. He totally ignored my suggestion of a costume for him. Because you know what would have gone really well with both the firefighter and the dog costumes? A fire hydrant.



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Christmas tree ornaments and holiday songs

It’s been another long crazy day, with little to show for it. However, I do have something to show for some of my recent days.

I made a few ornaments for some relatives again this year. (Not as many as last year, though.) I was all set last week to mail out a parcel full of fair trade chocolate to some people (Theo brand!), which I’d wrapped up in some re-usable gift bags from Wrapsacks. Then Phoebe came home from daycare with some ornaments she’d made with pipe cleaner and plastic beads. And then I was apparently overpowered by the desire to make some more ornaments. Perhaps due to my need to one-up my two-year-old daughter. I’ll show her!

And so it was that in the midst of feeling overloaded, I was up past 1 in the morning, scavenging and snipping and stitching. I cut some tree shapes from a bit of green felt (leftover from Theo’s Halloween carrot-top hat), and sewed on some glass beads, and some bits of chain on one:


Last night, once the little people were asleep, I sat down with my laptop and was greeted by a message telling me that my computer had not been backed up in 110 days. Gulp. Whereas I haven’t done huge amounts of work on my laptop in that time, there has been a fair amount. And what’s more, I have taken quite a few pictures. Theo is, in fact, only about 120 days old now, so losing those pictures would have been more than a little upsetting. Seeing as my laptop had been acting a bit screwy with the sound output the night before, I knew I shouldn’t wait any more.

While I waited for my backup to finish, I took a few pictures. I’d been saying I’ve wanted to try out some macro photography, and my little point and shoot Canon can only get me so far. (Or so close, as the case may be.) So John set me up to play with his Nikon SLR and a macro lens. Here are some of the results:

A couple of ornaments on our tree.

Some dolls from my grandmother’s collection that she would display at Christmas.


That last pair relates to something else I did recently. They are closeups of my pre-amplifier and microphone, which I used to make a recording.

I submitted a song to the 2008 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, which Neil of Citizen of the Month is so graciously hosting. I lost my voice last week when I had a cold, so I almost chickened out. But I mostly got my voice back, and I figured I would regret it if I didn’t send in a recording.

(The song I sang is Coventry Carol, and I have a post drafted about that song which I’ll probably share in a few days.)

bunny and carrot (and also a cat)

I had grand ideas to have Phoebe and Theo’s Halloween costumes coordinate in some way. As Phoebe wanted to be a bunny, I thought Theo (who had no input in the matter) could be a carrot.

I early gave up on the idea of making Phoebe’s bunny costume, thinking that it would be easy to find one ready-made. I had plans to make Theo’s costume as well as my own, and thought making 3 costumes would be insane. We had some trouble finding a bunny in her size, as it turned out, and ended up ordering online. But seeing as I am a pathological procrastinator, we did so only a week before our party.

A few days before the party, we got a bit antsy, and when we saw a much-discounted white kitty costume, we decided to get it, thinking that I could transform it into a bunny in a pinch. As it turned out, the bunny costume arrived the same day. But, it also turned out to have enclosed plush-covered feet. Such that one could not wear the costume with shoes. As one might want to do when walking outside. Such as one tends to do for trick-or-treating.

So, we decided she could wear the bunny costume for our party, and then the kitty cat for trick-or-treating. (And as such may have set the expectation for future years of having two costumes for Halloween…)

I did manage to make Theo’s carrot, using orange fleece (so as to need minimal hemming) and some green felt for the greens. I made up a pattern for carrot bunting-type thing as well as a hat. We don’t have a sewing machine, so I stitched it up by hand. Much of it while I was on the phone for a work conference call a few hours before the party.

And, because I had to go and run off at the mouth (or whatever the typed equivalent is) about having each of my posts this month feature some word that I like, I felt compelled to follow through in some way. And while I do think the word bunny is a fine word¹, it seemed a bit…um…fluffy…as a followup to yesterday’s omphaloskepsis.

So, I dug up a couple of new words to go along with this post. Both of these are from a site called Luciferous Logolepsy.

    adj. – parsley-like; belonging to plant family including carrot, parsley, etc.

    adj. – having large ears

My temorarily macrotous daughter and briefly apiaceous son.

Here is Phoebe as a kitty. No bonus word for this image, unless someone else wants to add one.

¹ I did discover though, that in British English, bunny can refer to a squirrel. Which funnily enough was Phoebe’s costume of last year.

The Curse of the Mummy Blogger

We had our Halloween party last Friday. It was a “costumes optional” affair. As hostess, of course I had to dress up. (Okay, fine. I love to dress up.) I decided to be a mummy. It seemed appropriate. You know, seeing as I’ve been pretty wrapped up in myself. And feel a bit holed up and isolated. And starting to feel old. Now that the air is getting dry with the crisp outdoor air and heated indoor air, my skin is a getting a bit shrivelled. (I don’t have time to shower most days, let alone moisturize…)

Oh, right. And then there’s the whole pun business. How could I resist?

My costume was a bit better in planning than in execution, but I guess it worked well enough. (It might not surprise you to learn that I ran out of time.) I used an old white sheet that had been in our rag pile, and tore it into strips. I then soaked the sheet in tea. (I used Lapsang Souchong, because I have a lot, and don’t drink it much. I also figured the musty smell would work.) I wore an off-white shirt and some off-white pajama pants, and wrapped myself. I stitched here and there and safety pinned to hold things in place. There wasn’t too much time, as I started the wrapping about an hour before the start of the party, so I didn’t manage to wrap as much of myself as I’d hoped. Ah well.

John didn’t get any pictures till the end of the night, by which time I was largely unravelled. But you can still get the effect. (Go see the picture…if you dare…)

I also made Theo’s costume, though not Phoebe’s. Phoebe was a bunny, which was her idea. And a harder costume to track down than you might imagine. Theo was a carrot. I’ll try to get some pictures.

presents that make me feel happy

I sent some holiday gifts this year that really made me feel good.

There are some family members for whom it has become increasingly harder to come up with ideas for gifts, since we don’t see or talk to them often enough to know their tastes well. When I can, I try to choose a book or CD that I liked, thinking they can at least pass it on to someone else if they don’t like it. In other cases, when I don’t have books or music in mind, I try to keep the gifts compact or consumable so that the recipient won’t be burdened with storage of something they might not really like. (I wrote some more thoughts about gift-giving at this time last year.)

This year, I was multiply inspired by some blogs I read. First, Mad of Under the Mad Hat described and showed photos of her impressive craftiness, and asked what sorts of holiday crafts her readers were up to. I replied that I had in the past made some Christmas tree ornaments, but that my own days of craftiness were largely behind me. Then Sage of Not So Sage went and showed her own crafty endeavors.

Somewhere along the way, I started reminiscing about the things I used to make with my hands, while dreading the experience of holiday shopping. And I thought to myself, “wouldn’t it be great to spend my time and energy making gifts, rather than desperately hunting for gifts and parking spaces?”

So I decided to dig out my supplies, my brass and copper wire, my tools and my beads, and to make some ornaments. (I’ll post some photos later.) My plan was to give an ornament to these hard-to-buy-for relatives, and supplement with a donation to Heifer International, or some such.

But then my next inspiration came in the form of a post from jen of One Plus Two. In her preamble to the November Just Posts presentation, she mentioned a project described by Jess of Oh, The Joys: the rebuilding of a school library in New Orleans that had been destroyed during hurricane Katrina. There is an Amazon wishlist for this school whereby people can purchase books for this library, and have them sent directly there.

So the idea fell into my lap what I could give to those various people. I picked out books from the wishlist that I thought would be appreciated by the giftees: music books for/from the musicians in the family, a history book for/from a history buff, art books for/from the artists. And for each gift I bought, I printed up an image of the book, and wrote a little note saying “We sent your gift to New Orleans!” (And briefly describing the project.) I got on such a roll, I even bought extra gifts for/from people I already had other gifts for.

I have to tell you, as I wrapped up my hand-made ornaments, and enclosed the notes, I have never felt so good about the gifts I sent.

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