Tuesday, May 31, 2011

KidBlog - When I Grow Up (2011/5/31)

What do you want to be when you grow up?

For the week of 5/30/11:

David says...
"I still want to be a pilot."

Dani says...
"I want to be a princess. Nothing else. Just a princess."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Rise and Fall of a Playhouse

The Playhouse Arrives:

The Playhouse Frame Goes Up:

The Storm Rolls In:

[insert severe thunderstorm, tornado force winds, snapping trees, backyard chaos...]

The Playhouse Takes a Fall:
Soda surveys the damage

Kind Neighbors Come to Help:
Vinny and Cliff repair the broken support posts and level the frame.

The Playhouse Frame is Back up (with extra wood and footings):

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

KidBlog - When I Grow Up (2011/5/17)

What do you want to be when you grow up?

For the week of 5/17/11:

David says...
"I want to be a pilot that flies a big plane."

Dani says...
"A baker. I really like cookies."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Projects - Pasta Making

I'm a huge fan of old-world crafts, which have become a dying skill set, of late. It's been a passion of mine for a long time, as I'm drawn to the idea of creating something wonderful using basic tools and materials. Such crafts are also important in creating a healthier, eco-friendly, and more self-sufficient household.

About a year ago, I began looking at the smaller aspects of my household's spending and realized a huge portion of our costs go to groceries. Many prepackaged items are relatively easy to produce at home, given the technology available. I also realized, looking more closely at certain items, how many non-food ingredients go in to their production. Pasta, for example can contain oil and metal residue from the machines used to manufacture it. Though this occurs in relatively small amounts, it's still concerning to me when feeding it to my 2 young children.

To follow up on this winter's bread making project, I decided to try my hand at making pasta. Being Italian, pasta is something I always have to have on hand, and I normally buy about 3-4 boxes, per week. After a failed attempt at making it by hand, I decided to purchase a pasta machine. I read the reviews and invested in a sturdy Atlas brand machine and 18" drying rack. I also purchased "The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles," which I found to be an invaluable reference, best read, prior to any pasta making attempts.

Though I am only 1 week and 2 batches of egg pasta in to this project, I'm pleased with the results and ease of it all. Since the pasta is made with whole wheat flour and egg, it's much heartier and healthier than it's store bought counterpart. Plus, the process became a family project, as the kids were intrigued and begged to get in on the fun. They each took a turn cranking out the pasta and were given the role of "pasta hangers" for the project. They watched patiently as I rolled the dough several times to get the right thickness and put it through the cutters. Once done, they took turns gently pulling the pasta strands, one-by-one from the pile under the machine and hanging them on the drying rack. Surprisingly, the whole process took only about 1 hour to complete, which left plenty of time to make some rolls to go with the night's pasta dinner.

Items Purchased for Project:

Total Investment for Project = Approx. $100 for all 3 items. A large portion of my investment went in to the pasta machine ($86), since I went with a high-quality machine known for sturdiness. I plan to use it quite a bit, so I believe this was a worthwhile decision. Machines, however, run as low as $25, so depending on how much use it will get, the investment could be lowered quite a bit.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On the Death of Bin Laden

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" ~Martin Luther King Jr

"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure." ~Mark Twain

Though neither of the above quotes directly correlates to anything current, I've seen them (or some form of them) circulating friends' pages on Facebook, the past 2 days. While contradictory in nature, they both fit my mood since hearing of US Forces' capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, on Sunday. Having been only 4 blocks away from the WTC during the events of 9/11, I find myself torn on how best to address the news.

While I am somewhat delighted Bin Laden is gone, he became a memory to me, long ago, as I moved past the anger of what happened and began looking at that day as an awakening, both for myself and for the world. It's been almost 10 yrs since so many perished and it all seems surrealistic to me, now. I can feel the rumble caused by the planes hitting the WTC, smell the smokey, ash-filled air, and hear the scores of screaming people running away from the towers as they crashed down. But, in my head, those memories play back like movie clips, scattered and somewhat confused. There are times I feel very close to that day and others, I wonder if I was really there or just drawn in to the media storm that followed.

Thinking back to 9/11 and the unimaginable loss of life, I am hardly appeased by the news of Bin Laden's death. While countless people wave flags of justice, I feel like the news comes too late and is too little to make up for even a portion of what happened. One life cannot make up for the lives of thousands, and I wonder how this path of taking an eye for a multitude of eyes will bring us in to a future of peace. While Bin Laden may have perished, we are no where near bringing an end to terrorism, and the backlash of this week's events could ultimately lead us in to an unthinkable repeat of the events of 10 years ago.

While many rejoice that we've taken a step forward, I feel as if we've taken 2 steps backward. Almost all of the news sources reported the same thing in regards to the mission, in that it was to "kill, not capture" Bin Laden. Though their mission was a success, I have a hard time seeing the justice in forcing martyrdom on 1 not deserving of such a title. The US has, indeed, made a mark on the world as a force to be reckoned with. Our troops are strong and brave, but is it best to pronounce our hatred so loudly? Displays of force, as history has shown us, tend to bring about more displays of force, as there is always a victim to the action. The true strength of a country lies in the health, happiness and prosperity of its' people.

In my opinion, the $450 billion spent in the pursuit of Bin Laden would have been better served assisting those within this country, both struggling from economic loss and due to this year's unstable weather. While the news of Bin Laden's death has brought about closure to so many affected by the events of 9/11, it comes to me with an empty feeling that we are still right where we were, no better off as a country for having put so many resources in to killing 1 man. Just like my memories of 9/11, the media will replay this week's events in ever shortening clips, over and over, until it fades in to surrealism, before focusing it's attention on some other world event. The celebrations will end and we will once again be left wondering what the future holds.

Monday, May 2, 2011

KidBlog - When I Grow Up (2011/5/2)

What do you want to be when you grow up?

David says:
"I still want to be a pilot."

Dani says:
"I want to be a baker and make lots of cookies."