Monday, May 11, 2015

Franconia sculpture park

Yesterday we took a little excursion out to Franconia Sculpture Park with Steve's brother Adam and girlfriend Ari who were in town visiting us. I haven't been there in probably 15+ years when my friend Elissa and I stopped there on the way to her cabin in Michigan. Needless to say, the place has expanded a ton since I was last there. I thought Ari would like it a lot because her dad is a metal sculptor and does his art on a big scale. We all really enjoyed ourselves, it is a great place to bring kids. 

It is open 365 days of the year from dawn until dusk and is 43 acres. Forty artists come and work there each year (for a year) from all around the world.
Smash car.

 Lizard lounge.

 This was probably my favorite sculpture because it was like a bizarre club house for kids. Swings on the bottom, slides coming off of it, picnic tables inside of it. Just wacky and awesome.

 Another wacky club house art piece. Love the colors.

 Eloise: Up! Up! Up!!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

May Day 2015

Another year, another May Day parade. It never disappoints. This year we went with my friend Emily and my dad. The theme of the parade was "We Rise", which I'm pretty sure is referring the Maya Angleou poem Still I Rise. A positive theme given all the unrest around the nation lately. Also there seemed to be an elephant theme going on, that was kind of lost on me, but is probably along the same lines.


Eloise and my dad with his coworker who stopped to say hello while he was coming through in the parade. At least we think its his coworker in there.....


 Rapt attention. Harriet loved this parade a lot.

Some crazy hoop antics = abs of steel.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Sallah cowl

I recently made this, which is called the Sallah Cowl and love everything about it. Here is a bit more in depth about the pattern if anyone is interested in making it, parts of it required a bit more explaining than was written in the pattern. Anyways, it is knit on the bias, alternating with a different size needle on the right and wrong sides. Very enjoyable. At the end you just sew up the ends (as seen above) and then do an i-cord bind off.

I loved this yarn so much, it was hand dyed from a place called Abstract Fiber and the colorway was Koi pond.

 The right side.
 Wrong side.
It won't be worn quite like this, but this is the best shot it I could get.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Star Wars collection

May the fourth be with you! I thought today would be a good time to get this on McBlog. In the past couple years I've started collecting vintage Star Wars toys. In an effort to not let it consume my wallet I decided I would just stick to the original trilogy's Kenner line: figures, vehicles, playsets. I remember always being a big fan as a kid and with the new movie on the way I've found myself watching the movies (over and over) and the newer cartoon series.

"Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." Yoda is a smart Jedi master, but I don't think he was aware how annoying craigslist and garage sale visits can be when you want to collect vintage toys. And so, over the last few months I've been on a purchasing streak via eBay. Rather than just dive in, I started "watching" different auctions until I gained a good understanding of what the price points were and how I could amass a collection without spending thousands of dollars. Yep, people buy and sell Star Wars toys made from 1977-1985 for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. The basic strategy is to buy bulk lots that include mostly items you need. Once you have duplicates you sell them individually. Obviously buying things loose, as opposed to unopened in their original packaging, is much easier and not so pricey. Finding figures with their original weapons and accessories is a nice plus, but hasn't been a requirement for me. In fact, some of the larger ships I now have are missing pieces and stickers or I doubt I would have entertained buying them at the inflated prices.

So what to do with a large collection of old toys? I decided to put up some extra shelving around my home office desk.

The original toy line was manufactured by Kenner. Although some were made in exclusive deals with Sears or General Mills. Figures, vehicles and playsets all have a manufacturer date stamps that helps determine they aren't re-released items (or counterfeits). The figures were released in waves and the wave was nicknamed due to the number of figures (in a plastic bubble glued to a cardback) available after each offering. In other words, the original twelve figures released are called 12-back. Hard core collectors just buy all the variations in original packaging (think forty year old virgin; if you want to go further down this rabbit hole check this out: Anyway, in an effort to keep track of my collection I've compiled this extensive list of Kenner's full lineup (although JediBusiness has better info on the figures).

Star Wars: A New Hope (1978-79)

Figures in Wave 1 (12-back)
Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2)
Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi 
Darth Vader
Death Squad Commander
Han Solo
Luke Skywalker

Wave 2 (20-back)
Walrus Man
Snaggletooth (red, not blue Snaggletooth)
Death Star Droid
Power Droid

Wave 3 (21-back)
Boba Fett

Patrol Dewback

Darth Vader TIE Fighter
Imperial Troop Transporter (with sound)
Millennium Falcon
Radio Controlled Jawa Sandcrawler
Sonic Controlled Landspeeder
TIE Fighter 
X-wing Fighter

Cantina Adventure Set (Sears exclusive)
Creature Cantina
Death Star Space Station (trash compactor and monster)
Droid Factory
Land of the Jawas 

The Empire Strikes Back (1980-82)

Wave 1 (31-back)
Bespin Security Guard [Version A]
Bossk (Bounty Hunter)
FX-7 (Medical Droid)
Han Solo (Hoth Outfit)
IG-88 (Bounty Hunter)
Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear)
Lando Calrissian
Leia Organa (Bespin Gown)
Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues)
Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear)

Wave 2 (32-back)

Wave 3 (41-back)
AT-AT Driver
Han Solo (Bespin Outfit)
Imperial Commander
Leia (Hoth Outfit)
Rebel Commander
Too-Onebee (2-1B)

Wave 4 (45-back)
Artoo Detoo (R2-D2) (with Sensorscope)
AT-AT Commander
Bespin Security Guard [Version B]
Cloud Car Pilot (Twin-Pod)
Luke Skywalker (Hoth Battle Gear)
See-Threepio (C-3PO) (with removable limbs)

Wave 5 (47-back)
Imperial Tie Fighter Pilot

Wave 6 (48-back)
Tauntaun [Closed Belly]
Tauntaun [Open Belly]

Imperial Cruiser (without sound)
Rebel Armored Snowspeeder
Rebel Transport
Scout Walker (AT-ST)
Slave I
Twin-Pod Cloud Car
X-wing Fighter (battle damaged)

Cloud City Playset (Sears exclusive)
Dagobah Action Playset
Rebel Command Center
Turret Probot Playset

Return of the Jedi (1983-84)

Wave 1 (65-back)
Admiral Ackbar
Bib Fortuna
Biker Scout
Chief Chirpa
Emperor's Royal Guard
Gamorrean Guard
General Madine
Lando Calrissian (Skiff Guard Disguise)
Logray (Ewok Medicine Man)
Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight Outfit)
Nien Nunb
Princess Leia Organa (Boushh Disguise)
Rebel Commando
Squid Head

Wave 2 (77-back)
AT-ST Driver
B-Wing Pilot
The Emperor
Han Solo (Trench Coat)
Klaatu (In Skiff Guard Outfit)
Princess Leia Organa (In Combat Poncho)
Prune Face
Rancor Keeper
Wicket W. Warrick

Wave 3 (79-back)

Sy Snootles & The Rebo Band (Sy Snootles, Max Rebo, Droopy McCool)

Jabba the Hutt with Salacious Crumb
Rancor Monster

B-Wing Fighter
Imperial Shuttle
Speeder Bike
TIE Fighter (Battle damaged)
TIE Interceptor
Y-Wing Fighter

Ewok Village
Jabba the Hutt Dungeon (two versions)

Power of the Force (1985)
Anakin Skywalker
Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) (with pop-up Lightsaber)
A-Wing Pilot
Han Solo (In Carbonite Chamber)
Imperial Dignitary
Imperial Gunner
Lando Calrissian (General Pilot)
Luke Skywalker (Imperial Stormtrooper Outfit)
Luke Skywalker (In Battle Poncho)
Yak Face

Ewok Battle Wagon
Tatooine Skiff

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Honey collecting

This post is a little late, but thought it was still worth documenting. Last December our beekeeper gave us the frames of honey from our hive to extract honey from and allowed us to keep it (it's technically hers). Most of the time, beekeepers carve off the caps of the honeycomb with a hot knife and use a centrifugal force machine to get it out. Since this was a very small-scale operation, we just strained the honey and wax through a cheese cloth and a sieve. It was a slow process that took about 2 days to work its way through.

Sweet, sweet licking.
Straining the honey from the wax.

The honey that is from our hive is on the left and the honey from the U of M that we bought is on the right. You can see a distinct difference in the color. Typically honey is heated up and kind of dehydrated so it will last longer, but our honey is raw and, if left for a long time, would ferment. We have gone though it so fast that that will not be a problem for us. We harvested about 2 bigger mason jars of our honey and one of the smaller ones that is on the left here. We are basically all out and it is April. 

Raw honey has some medicinal benefits and we have all been taking it at the first sign of a cold with some cinnamon due to its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and we have essentially been cold free up until last week.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dotted rays shawl

I recently made this new shawl for myself called Dotted rays by Stephen West. It's rare when you are able to quantify your knitting project but this shawl basically took me: Season 3 of House of Cards, the entire first season of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a knitting guild meeting, part of a baby show, a bus ride to and from a St Patricks day parade and some march madness basketball games that I wasn't even remotely watching. In conclusion, it look a long time. I enjoyed it though and love the final result though. 
 Here it is in the beginning.

 Here it is all finished.
Here it is as I would wear it, kind of as more of a cowl, than a shawl. It doesn't look quite as bunchy on me as it does on my sick-looking model here. It is very warm, but too bad I will have to box it up soon until fall.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Passover and Easter

A pretty low key Passover/Easter for us this weekend. Eloise has been recovering from croup and something called stridor. We did manage to have a small seder with some neighbors and an egg hunt at a local park. Smiles all around.