About a month ago, remember how I went on vacation to Stanford Sierra Camp? And how I had an awesome time and made some awesome arts/crafts projects? I came home with this stemless wine glass, and got so many compliments on it at camp that I lost track. But then I thought about the fact that we don’t have glasses in our new apartment in Boston, and I decided it was time to make some wine glasses.
One month later, I’ve completed all sixteen glasses. (Technically fifteen, since one was already finished) They take a while, but they’re a lot of fun and actually pretty simple.
Crate & Barrel Stemless White Wine Glasses, like those here.
Acrylic Paint. I used Martha Stewart’s Satin Acrylic Paint.
Q-tips. Brand name q-tips work better, but off brands can work too. You’ll get better results if your q-tip has a tightly wrapped tip – these will hold up to repeated use better.
Step 1. Pick a set of four colors. I found that the color combinations that appealed to me tended to be in similar colors, but had a bit more variation than the first glass I made.
Step 2. Clean the glass. My mom helped me with this step (by helped, I mean completed for me…) But I think she used a diluted bleach to really clean the glass.
Step 3. Flip the glass over and hold it upside down. You’ll be painting on the bottom and up the sides. Using one q-tip for each color, use five dots in a circle to make a single flower. I suggest practicing a bit on paper first to get a sense of how much pressure you need. Over time, I varied the size of my flowers (not intentionally…). It seems that larger flowers, in which you press down harder when making each dot, end up a bit smoother than the smaller flowers, which have little peaks in each dot. These peaks seem to be smaller and smaller as the paint continues to dry and I like both the smooth glasses and those with a bit more texture, so do whatever is easiest for you.
Step 4. Complete the first layer of flowers. Use the colors “randomly” – try to limit making two flowers side by side that are the same color. You’ll be making a second layer that partially overlaps the first, so don’t worry about covering all the space. The most important thing is to get the height you want on the glass. This is a bit difficult to measure, since you’re holding the glass upside down, and you can make the flowers go as high or as low as you want. I chose to have variation in the depth of the flowers so that it seems a little more like a pile of flowers. (This makes sense if you consider that my first glass was supposed to be of cherry blossom flowers, which often fall and form piles.) But you should do whatever you want. I painted my flowers deep enough to be visible with a normal pour of wine, so that it is easy to spot your color out of a table full of glasses, but I also kept them low enough that you’re never going to touch your lips to the (potentially poisonous) paint.
Step 5. Let dry. This only needs to be a superficial dry – 2 to 24 hours, depending on if the glass is in the summer sun or not.
Step 6. Complete the second layer of flowers. This layer will finish off the flowers. Look for spots that have a lot of a single color, and layer a flower of a different color there to break it up. Look for spots where flowers are abnormally far apart, and put an extra flower there to bridge the gap. This step is totally optional, but it adds depth and interest to the glasses.
Step 7. Let dry completely. This is the long boring part. The paint I used takes 28 days to dry completely, and then it will supposedly be dishwasher safe. I’m letting them dry for 28 days, then I’ll hand wash them and ship them to my new apartment and my almost-housemates.
Step 8. Enjoy! Pictures of this step will crop up here and there, I’m sure….
I’ve been home for a few weeks now, the weather is heating up, and there has been an awful lot of summer going on! And, with work two days a week and the other five days a week free for doing whatever I want, I’ve been enjoying the summer to the fullest extent of the law. (Been watching a lot of my favorite crime TV shows too…)
Summer Part I – Babysitting my favorite little Lucy, with a little bit of lemonade-making on the side…
… or maybe there was a lot of making lemonade and a little bit of babysitting on the side.
Regardless, our little kindergartener climbed the tree in the backyard, and worked very hard to pick only the biggest, roundest, and ripest lemons; then she cut them all and juiced them, measured the water and the sugar, and made some tangy, tasty lemonade to celebrate the warm day and the World Cup. (And big brother Ben helped with the cutting and juicing, helped clean up too!)
Summer Part II – Fireworks at the A’s game
My mom’s company had a beginning of summer celebration at the Oakland A’s game against the Yankees. The A’s lost by a billion (aka, 7), but it didn’t matter. We stayed for the Mario Brothers-themed fireworks show, and it was totally worth it. Lots of fun, a beautiful day, and it was nice to spend some time with my mom!
Usually, fireworks shows are limited to the 4th of July, but this is my second fireworks display in the year 2014. Hopefully they just keep getting better and better! (Although I’m not entirely sure how you can get better than Mario & Luigi themed fireworks with your Mom!)
Summer Part III – Photo Shoot at Filoli Gardens
Filoli used to be a rich person’s paradise, and then the rich people decided to share it with the rest of us. So now, Filoli is a beautiful place to walk around, full of gardens and reflecting pools, kids in strollers, and lots of good spots for photos!
Sam took photos of me, and I took some photos of her! Unsurprisingly, as I mentioned recently, her photos are better than mine…
I also got a little bit obsessed with trying to take photos of the bees that were all over the place. Somehow, I managed to only take one photo of a butterfly – but it was a good one. And then, only a handful of good shots of the bees in a few dozen attempts… But I also got some good other flower photos.
We arrived in Paris from Prague at about 11:00, and actually got to where we were staying at a little after midnight. We stayed up too late looking at maps and talking about things to do, watched the Eiffel Tower glitter at 1am and then finally crashed around 2.
I got up early (I can’t help it – when I’m in a new city, all I want to do is explore!) and wandered around for about an hour. I didn’t go far, because I didn’t bring a map or my camera – I just wanted to wander and see what I saw. It was a weekday and I watched shopkeepers open their doors, roll up the window shades, and put out the morning’s first flowers. I really did get to see the city of Paris wake up, and it was wonderful.
When I got back to the apartment a bit after nine, I looked at the map, did a bit of research about what I wanted to do and the best ways to get there, and woke up Holly. We were in agreement – our first day would be a day to wander. So we ran down and around the corner to the bakery to pick up some pastries for breakfast (sorry, no pics! They were gone before the camera came out…) and then sketched out a plan courtesy of our map.
We started with a walk past the Peace Memorial to the Eiffel Tower, with a stop on the way to quite literally smell the roses. Once at our first destination, I made Holly take a cheesy tourist picture of me. But, as Claire reminded me on my birthday, I turned 21 in Paris, and that makes my life pretty awesome.
We walked underneath the Eiffel Tower and into a little park with a little pond at its base. In case you can’t tell, Mother Nature blessed me (and Paris!) with beautiful weather for my birthday. Blue skies, beautiful sun, and we looked French enough that multiple people spoke to us in French! (Not just bonjour, but actually asking us for directions or advice or who knows what? Neither of us speak any French…)
We continued our day by walking past the Louvre (see Day 2 for our visit to the Louvre), and on to Notre Dame. While at the Louvre, we laughed at the people with their fingers on the tip of the pyramid, and then pulled the same tourist stunt when Holly spun like Esmeralda just a few hours later.
On our way back from Notre Dame, we stopped at the Palace of Justice and Sainte Chapelle to look at the beautiful stained glass. (We skipped the line and didn’t have to pay and check out my post about cheating the system in Paris to find out how!)
We also made our way through one of Paris’ many shopping districts, even walking into some of the stores. At some, such as Gucci and Dolce e Gabbana, the store clerks (this sounds like such a crude way to describe them, but I really have to better explanatory word, although I could describe their impeccable hair and makeup and their beautiful clothes that looked like they had just come off the hangars…) were kind enough to say hello; at other, smaller names we were even asked if we would like to try something on. Needless to say, we did not. (What were we to do, if we fell in love with a $1,000 dress? Even though my parents said they’d buy me something from Paris for my birthday, I think that may have been a little much…)
At some point, we stopped for a crepe in the Tullieries for lunch, and then stopped at a random park – still not sure which one – around five to relax. Unfortunately, Holly got sunburnt, but that didn’t ruin the day or the weekend. We finished off the day by meeting Christine and Alessandra at the Opera House for a ballet performance by the students of the Paris Opera. It started out with adorable little kids, and quickly got frighteningly good – I’m pretty sure the 12 year olds were better than I ever was or could have been at ballet. And apparently, they all had the flu. But we also got to see the famous ceilings of the Opera building without having to wait in line or pay for it. (Well, we paid for the ballet tickets, but only 12 euros!)
Once we got back from the show, we had dinner on time by French time, at around 10 o’clock. It was wonderful (and super nice of Christine to make it for us!) and then followed by a birthday dessert of chocolate torte without the pastry or icing – so basically chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Which was great. We went to bed around 2.
Today is the day of the Louvre. The plan: go to the Louvre. Decide from there. Everyone talks about how big the Louvre is, and they’re absolutely right. But if you’re being honest, no matter how big you think it is, it is bigger than that. Take, for example, the Grand Gallery:
We spent four hours inside, which I think is more than enough for one day, and not enough to see anything. We missed the entire Egyptian wing, spent about three seconds considering trying to push through the crowd to see the Mona Lisa (decided not to), and noticed that the ceilings and floors are works of art in their own right. It was the King’s palace, after all.
After the Louvre (and lunch!) we continued our museum-ing and headed to Musee l’Orangerie. It was the only museum we waited in line for, though we got in for free (sense a pattern here?) and spent hours with Monet’s water lilies. They are truly incredible, and much bigger than I imagined.
If I’m being honest, I don’t like art. I never liked the art history classes I had to take, and I seem to recall a comment on a report card along the lines of, “Kathy would do well to apply herself to her art history classes as she does to her math.” (They were taught by the same teacher.) I think, however, if someone told me I must take an Art History class today, and that I could take a class on the Impressionists, I would be okay with that. I don’t like art, but I really like Impressionism. I guess you could say it makes an impression on me. (I’m sorry, I had to.)
Holly and I met Christine in the Luxembourg Gardens, which are beautiful, and then stopped for a glass of “spring beer,” which has a strangely fruity flavour. In the evening, we went to a very nice restaurant for my birthday dinner. Thanks, Daddy! Once again, the food was fantastic, and it came and went before pictures could happen. And it was after midnight by the time we got home, and we stayed up and talked for a while. You can probably guess what time we got to bed.
As I mentioned earlier, I love exploring new cities. I walk everywhere, and I tend to not stop. Somehow, new energy reserves spring up when I happen to be out of town. Unfortunately, I tired Holly out after two days, so I let her sleep in this morning and headed over to Musee d’Orsay for more Impressionism. And the Bareas! These guys were in Paris for Spring Break, and I was supposed to meet them at 9:30. But I was already on Paris time, and the chances of meeting up looked bleak. I skipped the line, got in for free, and headed upstairs to see my new favorite artists. Also, my old favorite artist: Degas.
Unsurprisingly, as a little girl who did ballet, I loved Degas. I loved his paintings, I loved his sculptures, and now I’ve seen them in real life. I think that might have been the best thing of my weekend. I mean, seeing Monet’s three paintings in blue, orange, and green and Renoir’s famous paintings of the dancing couples were pretty amazing too. (I actually remember these from my Art History class – maybe I’ve always secretly loved the Impressionists?)
As I came downstairs, I continued to look not only at the art, but also for the Bareas. For those of you who have never been to the d’Orsay, it has a huge atrium, essentially, open from the first floor to the fifth, and balconies of sorts on the second floor looking onto the atrium. I can’t really describe it, but the description is only important because I found the Bareas from across the museum. How do you get someone’s attention from across a museum? You can’t yell their name. You can’t even whisper it. So you just stare intently, and wave when they look your general direction. And it works!
So we found each other, continued exploring the museum until the kids got bored (they lasted a full 2 hours which, at ages 6 and 10, is pretty impressive) and then we went off to explore the city. We stopped for lunch, and I had salad. (A true rarity in the Czech Republic, so I’ll take all the greens I can get, thank you!) The grand plan was to visit the Catacombs, but the line was so long that we got straight back on the metro and went all the way across the city to the Basilica of Paris upon Montemarte, with a beautiful view of the city. We climbed up 396 stairs (Lucy counted for us), took some time to enjoy a drink in the beautiful weather, looked for a Kate Spade and discovered there is none in Paris, and generally had a good time. It was really nice to see more faces from San Mateo, although it made me want to head home.
I met up with Holly again in the evening, and we had a evening of snacking. First, at a café, I had real, French, crème brulee, which tasted about the same as other crème brulee. Then, we went to the Seine (with Christine and Alessandra again, of course!) to a tasting on a boat. We basically had a dinner of cheese and pate tastings, along with an essentially infinite number of tiny glasses of different wines.
Then, once night had fallen, we walked back to the Eiffel Tower to take a trip up and see the city at night. For once, we actually paid for admission (but the student price, and we walked, so not really…) Needless to say, the Eiffel Tower is gorgeous, but what really amazed me was the engineering of the thing. So much, that I’m giving it its own post.
I tired Holly out, and the Bareas tired me out, so we slept in on our last morning in Paris. Once we got up, we headed to a nearby market, where we bought pastries for breakfast and pineapple and cantaloupe for lunch before heading back to the apartment, grabbing our bags, and heading to the airport.
All in all, I’d say my 21st birthday weekend was truly amazing. I didn’t celebrate my 21st with a big night out on the town, which doesn’t surprise me, nor does it bother me. I’m not really that type of person anyways. Instead, I had an amazing weekend with good friends and I got to visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
O víkendu, jsem jela na Výtoň na největší farmářské trhy v Praze. Máme hodně trhů ve Kalifornii, a věděla jsem tento trh bude jako tenhle, s jahodami, malinami, melony. Věděla jsem, že můžu koupit ovoce a zeleninu a chleba a květiny. Je pravda – mohla jsem. Ale Pražské trhy a Kalifornské trhy jsou jiné.
V Praze můžu koupit květiny a chleba. A opravdu dobré dortíčky. A mnouho sýrů. A ryby a čerstvý džus a kávu. Když chceš, můžeš koupit ovoce nebo zeleninu, ale myslým jsou lepší ve supermarketu než na trhu. Možná trh s ovocem bude lepší v létě, ale nevím.
Ale, Pražské trhy jsou jiné než jenom farmářské. Má Masopustní a Vanoční a Velikonoční trhy. Tento týden je prvný týden Velikonoční trh u Anděl, a šla jsem tam. Viděla jsem tradiční Velikonoce vejce a trdelnik (jasně!) a květiny a malé cukrové ptačky.
Over the weekend, I went to Vyton for the biggest farmer’s market in Prague. We also have markets in California, and I thought this market would be the same, with strawberries, raspberries, melons. I thought I could buy fruit and vegetables and bread and flowers. It is true – I could. But the Prague markets and California markets are different.
In Prague you can buy flowers and bread. And truly amazing little cakes. And lots of cheese. And fish and fresh juice and coffee. If you want, you can buy fruit or vegetables, but I think they are better in the supermarket than in the farmer’s market. Maybe the market’s fruit will be better in the summer, but I don’t know.
But, Prague’s markets are different than only farmer’s markets. It has Masopust (Carnival) and Christmas and Easter markets. This week is the first week of the Easter market at Andel, and I went there. I saw traditional Easter eggs and trdelnik (of course!) and flowers and small sugar birds.
*For another post about markets, see this one! Also, more pictures to come, once today’s photos of the Easter markets get onto my computer…
This story starts about a week ago, with this picture:
Actually, it’s a picture of a picture. My dad emailed it to me, with a request that I go find the grave and see what it looks like today. In a city filled with cemeteries, he was kind enough to give me a plot number and the cemetery I’d find it in: Olšansky Hřibitov. A quick google search took me to a Wikipedia page, which told me I’d find approximately 65,000 graves there. Good thing I had a plot number. So I found a map of the cemetery online, looked for the spot I’d find my ancestors, and came up empty. Well, not empty, actually. I found three possibilities, each a ½ mile apart. In addition, I found a “find-the-grave-site” site, claiming my family could be found at a completely different plot number. So was it 20-4-18 or 2ob-16-82oh? I now had four possibilities and a headache. But I was done with classes, and it was only mid-afternoon, so I prepared for my 45 minute metro journey, stopping to buy flowers on the way.
When I said this story started a week ago, I lied. It actually started 6 years ago, when my grandparents brought us all on a family trip to Prague. (Okay, it actually started 100-ish years ago when my relatives died, but we’re talking about my part in this story.)
There are only a handful of moments I really remember from that trip. I mean remember – smells, sounds, everything. Our trip to the cemetery was one of them. I remembered the gravel paths and the ivy-covered headstones and the ornamental gate. I remember that we showed up too late in the day to get in, but Babi and Deda convinced them to let us in anyway. Not a big picture, to be sure, but enough details to know that where I was was wrong:
Sure, the paths could have been paved in the last half decade, and certainly things change everyday, even in a cemetery. But Olšansky hřibitov was too colorful, too big, and felt too new. Nonetheless, I wandered through for hours, checking off one possible spot after the next. With no luck. No Voticky. No ivy. Nope.
I came out the other side of the cemetery, unsure of what to do. I didn’t want to disappoint my dad and send him the email, “I couldn’t find it.” But more than that, I didn’t want to lose that spot. Deda isn’t going to be telling us where to find it – Babi is too old to get back to Prague. A big reason I came to Prague was to preserve, at least for one more generation, my family’s history. Something unspoken pulled me to Prague this year, and the same thing told me to keep looking. I didn’t know where I was going until I got there. The New Jewish Cemetery, just across the street from Olšansky, had the ornamental gate I remember and, even more promisingly, it was closed. When I looked through the gate, and saw the trees covered in ivy, the grounds covered in ivy, the graves covered in ivy, I knew it was the right spot.
Actually, that’s not how it happened at all. As soon as I rounded the corner, I saw the metro stop Želivského. I recognized it right away. Like a puzzle piece I didn’t know what missing, that image fit right in. All of a sudden, I remembered being 14 years old, coming out of that metro station, looking around, and being absolutely convinced the long trip had not been worth it. (To my 14-year-old self, this turned out to be true. To my 20-year-old self, not true.) Then, I looked through the gate, saw the gravel path and the ivy covered stones, and knew I’d found the right place. Of course, at this point, I was a little cold, a lot hungry, and tired of carrying those damn tulips around. Plus, the gates were shut, the lady locking them as I showed up. I know enough Czech to know she told me “the cemetery is closed.” But I don’t speak enough Czech to beg her to let us in. All I could do was look at the flowers in my hand, at the watch on my wrist, and at the back of her head as she walked away. It was like déjà vu, but with a different ending. So I went home.
This story ends today. Or at least, that’s what happens for now. I don’t have classes on Thursdays, so I left the house this morning and went back across town, once again stopping for flowers on the way. This time, I knew where I was going, it would be a cinch. The cemetery was open; I found the section easily. But the rows? Where did they start? Which one was one? And which plot in each row was the first? I quickly realized that, once again, I had 4 options. So I walked up and down, reading name after name, feeling more disheartened each moment. I was ready to give up, and then I realized, I remembered.
I said earlier that this moment was one of the few I really remembered. So I let my memory tell me where to go. I retraced the steps we had taken oh, so long ago, with Babi leaning on my arm, Deda leading the way. I followed my memory to the end of the section, followed us as we turned left up the rows. I stopped, as we had once stopped, about halfway up. I walked down the row, looking to my right. The grave wasn’t far in, that I knew. And there it is. Success.
Unsurprisingly, the grave has withstood the test of time.
They tend to do that.
As I sit here, having laid my rock and flowers before my ancestors, I think I’ve found my favorite place in Prague. Years ago, Mom told me her favorite study spot was a cemetery near her apartment, and I thought she was crazy. But sitting her, I kind of understand. It’s quiet. I hear the birds in the trees and the crunching of leaves whenever I take a step. If I try, I can hear the distinctive squeal of the trams as they round the corner – the same corner I walked around when I knew where I was. I can hear other people; there aren’t many. But Franz Kafka’s grave is just over there, and Arnost Lustig, who died only two years ago, is buried here too. There is something incredible about the way things work in here. Most of these graves were first dug about 100 years ago, as Jewish soldiers died in WWI. Some, of course, are much older. But almost every one has the extra names of family members killed during the Holocaust. Just names, no dates. But the ivy and the trees don’t care. They grow over every plot: new, old, and in between. The test of time knocks some headstones over, but most survive. The living come here to pay their respects, but the real life in a place like this is what we can’t see. Except in time. The plants that prosper, the memories that survive, the ghosts that I hear in the whisper of the wind. Today is a cloudy day, dreary. But sitting here, with the family I never met, I feel like the clouds are just there. There is nothing ominous about the white sky I look up at. Somehow it seems that blue sky wouldn’t really fit the day – today is all about greens and greys.
(It may surprise some readers that there is nothing in this post about the names on the bottom of this stone. I couldn’t possibly write about all that again, especially since I’m going back to Terezin tomorrow. If you want to read about it, check out my post about my last trip to Terezin here.)