It’s Sunday, which means that the weekend is quickly coming to a close and, more significantly, spring break is coming to a close. Spring break, what a term. It implies sunlight, warmth, parks, and maybe hints of summer just around the corner. Boston, needless to say, is none of these things. Okay, it is sunny today, but sunny in a deceptive, wind-rushing-at-your-face-and-pulling-scarves-away-from-your-neck-so-it-can-bite-into-your-still-pale-cheeks kind of way. But that’s okay! Because I didn’t do a normal spring break trip (once again…) and opted to go skiing instead.
My dad and I went to Vail, Colorado for four days of spring skiing, which basically just means temperatures the same as they are in Boston and about as much snow. (Have you heard? Boston is having a crazy winter and we broke the snow record! Oh, you already knew that? It’s been the trending news story across the nation for months? Oh.) Anyway, pictures:
We had an amazing time, skied an average of 17 runs and 20,000+ vertical feet everyday, and experienced all the snow types: ice in the mornings, slush in the afternoons, perfection somewhere in between, dust on crust one afternoon, three inches of powder the next morning…
We also ate amazing food, drank some great wine, met some really fun people on and off the slopes, and generally had a pretty fabulous winter break experience. (spring break. SPRING break. Sorry.)
Stayed silly, too.
I have mixed feelings about icicles. On the one hand, they are beautiful. On the other hand, they often indicate ice dams which, I have learned this winter, can be a real concern and destructive. I know this, because our window is leaking, and will be until the spring comes, the snow melts, the moisture dries, and the leak can be found and caulked.
But – icicles! My personal favorite was this, which I spotted while walking home the other day. Icicles formed on the wires immediately below the corner of a roof.
With the snow and rain of this weekend, I knew the icicles were going to slowly (or not-so-slowly) disappear. So I went out on a short “icicle walk” to find cool specimens and take some pictures. Fortunately, no icicles fell on me whilst taking these photos; let’s hope that remains the case for the duration of the semester…
I’ve been horrifically bad at posting recently, but I’m going to blame that on the fact that I’ve been living life to the fullest. In the past week, I’ve gone on two one-night overnights, and I’m heading out in about two hours for a third. I promise to share stories from all of them sometime next week, but for now I want to brag a bit.
One of my favorite parts of Stanford Sierra Camp is the arts and crafts sessions. This year was full of particularly good crafts, including amazing painted glasses that I’ll post about in a couple weeks, and amazing transferred photos:
You might remember this photo from here…?
The best part of these is that they were incredibly easy! Admittedly, I added a few steps after I got home to finish them off the way I wanted them, but still… really simple.
Step 1: Print out your photo on an ink jet printer. Mine are both printed out a simple 4×6 size, but if you want it larger, you certainly could do that. The photo will be transferred as a mirror image, so if your photo has words or you really care about accuracy, make sure to use photoshop or any photo editing software to flip the image across the vertical center line. (You’ll want it to look backwards on paper.)
Step 2: Get the wood. You’ll need a piece of wood the same size or larger than your photo. Mine were about 1″ larger in each dimension than the photo, but it could be bigger or smaller. It just depends on your preference. A wood with visible grain will look better, a light wood will look better. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use a dark wood without grain.
Step 3: Coat the photo with a gel medium. You’ll want a thick-ish layer – enough that it covers the entire picture, not so much that it rips the paper from being heavy. Carefully flip the photo paper over, place on the wood, and press it down. This is the important step – make sure the entire photo is thoroughly pressed onto the wood, so that you don’t get any holes in the middle of your photo. Let dry (takes 2-6 hours, let it dry overnight for best results.)
Step 4: Rub off the paper. Get a rag and a bowl of water; get the corner of the rag wet and rub the paper in circles until the paper comes off. It will require some serious pressure, but don’t worry about it – the photo isn’t going anywhere.
Step 5: Coat with a layer of Modge Podge, or any other varnish, to give it a shiny layer and to protect the photo. Enjoy! (This is where camp stopped – I continued at home…)
Step 6 (Optional): Using a chop saw, carefully cut the wood at the edges of the photo (about 1/8″ border). The photo above, I cut right to the edge of the image, which meant the final product was smaller than the photo itself. On the one below, I kept about 1/4″ in the border, and the border is still there a bit at the end. Hence the 1/8″ border suggestion. But, the cut doesn’t need to be perfect, because…
Step 7 (Optional): Round the edges of the photo with a router to finish the photo, and make it look like it is in its own frame. It’ll look good regardless of how large the border is! Finish the project by sanding the newly cut and rounded edges to make it smooth. Enjoy!
Keep in mind:
– If your photo has any part that is white (such as the sky in my second photo above), the grain will show through really nicely. It certainly isn’t necessary, but it does add to the image.
– If you want to make the photo look vintage-y, scuff up the corners of the photo a little bit when the gel medium is still wet. I didn’t do it on purpose, but the bottom corners of my Golden Gate photo transfer got messed up (it got dropped… oops.). I think it only adds to the photo’s artsy quality.
I’ve been conspicuously silent this past week, and it is because I was out and about enjoying nature. What a strange idea, right? Spending a week in the woods, hiking and sailing and crafting and reading and not touching electronics for seven whole days… Okay, not quite. I touched electronics a lot. Namely, I took pictures and then put them on my computer. But the internet was spotty, so with the exception of one snapchat, no photos got distributed while I was at camp. But that is about to change!!
I’ll be sharing lots of stories as I sort through photos in the next few days, as well as at least a couple book reviews for the books I read and discussed while at camp, but here is a short slideshow to tide you over:
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.
My flight landed in Prague. I was greeted by orange shirts and big smiles, pushed into a cab with a cabbie who had about as much information about where we were going as I did – namely an address. I spoke about ten sentences of Czech and he maybe twice as much English.
When we arrived at our destination, I recognized my host mother standing there from a picture she’d sent me. We wheeled my two giant bags into the apartment building, into the elevator, into the flat, into the room that would become my rom, and then ran out again. On the way out, I was informed that we were going to see Emma’s celebration of her first day at school. We got there, everything was in Czech, and I had no idea what was going on. But apparently the little girl with the blonde pigtails and the pink dress with the tutu would be my little sister for the next four, maybe nine months. If we’re being honest, I didn’t know what to make of it all. At least she was cute?
It’s been nine months. Emma has taught me Czech and I’ve taught her English. We play games and braid each other’s hair and color and do all the things sisters do. (Or at least all the things I think sisters do. I don’t really know. I once wanted a sister, but I got my amazing brother instead.)
But I was thinking about that day eariler today. About the first time I saw Emma, about how proud Anna clearly was of her. But to me, she was just another little girl. But not, I see her and I share that love and pride Anna has. Because I’ve seen her grow up, and I’ve watched her change, and I love her to bits. But then, how could you not love this face:
In the last two weeks, I’ve gone to Cinque Terre and Malta. In both locations, I spent hours on the beach. I got tan, read books, listened to about a dozen podcasts, and generally enjoyed life. But I also saw these amazing animals washed up on the beach and floating in the water. A little googling and I have a new favorite aquatic acquaintance. Everyone, let me introduce you to Velella velella.
Common names include “by-the-wind-sailor” and “purple sail,” but mostly these guys are called simply “velella.” They are in the phylum Cnidaria, class Hydrozoa, and happen to be the only organism in the family Velella.
When I first saw them, I honestly thought they were baby mussels, washed ashore because they never found a rock to stick to. But in fact, these little guys spend their entire lives at the water-air interface, where their stiff sails let them be pushed around by the wind and their tentacles below the surface allow them to catch plankton for nutrients. Their sails also make for a pretty cool photo as a wave gets stuck washing over them…
Every so often, when the wind and water currents are just right (or wrong, I suppose), massive colonies of velella are washed up on shore, and this is what I saw over the past two weeks in Italy and Malta.
Velella is a particularly fascinating species, which I have discovered in the last hour reading about them. It is still debated whether each velella is just one organism, or a number of organisms connected to each other, although the scientific community is coming to a consensus that each velella is a single organism.
There are in fact two types of velella; the sails sometimes are oriented left-to-right, and sometimes right-to-left. Depending on the direction of the sail, the velella colonies will end up stranded on different sides of the ocean. Really, though, they’re just super cool.