Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gocco I

I've been anxious to experiment with my new gocco machine for some time now. (It's one of the many projects that I can finally start now that the dress is done.) I made a few of these contact information cards for my brother who will be coming home from his mission this year.

When most people undertake gocco projects their pictures are of rows and rows of drying cards. I, however, only turned out 3 sucessful pieces (of 20 or so). The rest were missing most of my brother's name and some of the other text. My diagnosis is three fold--

1- The directions say to remove the image carefully, but after I burned the screen I opened the machine and the image stuck to the sticky mount area and came right off the screen.

2- Maybe I shouldn't have used the riso fabric ink on paper, but I wanted the red color.

3- Maybe the lettering was just too small.

I'm going to try enlarging my image a bit and burn a new screen tonight. Hopefully it works this time. I only have one screen and two bulbs left on hand.

Gingerbread Penthouse

For F.H.E. last night we had a repeat of a popular activity from last year: gingerbread house-type structures. My group (some of whom are pictured below) created a gingerbread highrise. Josh recently moved to LV from NY and reported that it looks quite authentic.

Obviously, our gingertower was impressive, but we weren't the only creative geniuses present. I must say I admired this stadium as constructed by Christy Cropper & Co, LLC. Notice the giant helmets at the entrance and the firework lights (similar to those you will see in the Valley of Fire, NV or at Fats Pizza in Provo or next to Tiananmen Square in China).

Other gingerbread creations included:
- LV temple
- LV wedding chapel
- 2 forts
- A campsite
- A true-to-life house with plumbing and wiring (made by a couple of engineers)
- Igloo made of colored waffle cookies
- A house that looked an awful lot like Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water

We also had one regular old house professionally constructed by a chef who had brought along extra tubes of colored icing and his complete set of knives for the task.

I hope his becomes an annual tradition.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Kaiizen is for the Kids

This is Josh.

Josh is co-founder of Kaiizen, a non-profit organization that serves an orphanage in Baja, Mexico. Every few months, they coordinate service projects and activities at the orphanage for 100 or so college students to participate in.

Josh moved into our ward and told us about Kaiizen. Having recently seen some of the needs in Mexico, my friend Wendi and I immediately volunteered for the next trip.

We left after work last Thursday and pitched our tent on the Baja sands sometime around 1am. We were glad we brought the tent along as it was definitely cold both nights.

There were about 150 people in the group (mostly from Provo), sharing the 35 or so tents you see below.

After breakfast the next morning, Wendi and I went down the beach a little ways, exploring the shoreline. We stumbled across a treature trove of lovely purple sea urchins. We carefully wrapped a dozen in muslin strips (from the dress I'm working on) and safe guarded them in the car for the rest of the trip. I can't wait to see how they look in a simple white bowl.

We left about half of them where we found them. They were up pretty high above the water line and we wondered how they all got there-- must be global warming lowering the ocean.

After packing up camp we headed to a "more better" beach to soak in the Mexican sun and organize all of the presents and supplies for the orphanage, etc.

Lovely shot of the birds flying south. (Thanks to Wendi for all of these pictures that were obviously taken with a much better camera than mine. Basically, all the good ones are hers.)

At the orphanage, we divided into groups. We were on the card-making committee for a little while and then went into town to purchase rice and beans to distribute with blankets made by EFY kids.

This is the open lot adjacent to the orphanage where we pitched tents for the second night. On the left you can see a corner of the "guest house" where some of the group stayed.

Wendi and I, however pitched our tent in a lovely spot under the canopy of a tree similar to the one in the picture. The spot turned out not to be so lovely when it turnd out to be directly downwind of the bathrooms in the guesthouse. Also, a rooster crowed from 2 or 3 am unil the sun came up. Wendi threatened to shoot it. It was obviously not afraid of her, since it called her bluff for another hour or so.

Back to the day's events... That evening we hung out with the kids for a bit and then held a Christmas celebration. I was impressed with the coordination that had gone into the Christmas activity. (the Provo kids did all the work. We LV folks were somewhat out of the loop for the planning.) There were four presents for each of the kids. They were specific to each child, but all comparable so no one received too much or too little. The group also purchased an X-box for the kids which they received at the end of an elaborate Christmas story telling.

After the stories, Santa Claus arrived and each of the kids recieved their gifts. I helped a little boy named Omar with his. He received a remote control car, cool shoes and two pairs of superhero pajamas. He "flew" around the room like Superman for the rest of the evening!

On Saturday, we split into groups again. We were part of the caroling group with the rice, beans and blankets. We drove to a small community with several make-shift houses hanging to the steep hillsides. We dispersed into small groups of 5 or 6 and loaded up with bags of rice and beans and tall piles of fleece blankets.

We shared our goods and some spanish Christmas carols with people on the street and at some of the homes. I was worried that they wouldn't really appreciate these American kids walking around "benevolently" handing out things, but everyone we met was so kind and glad we had come and were happy to visit with us.

I think I worry about that too much in general. I assume someone is probably busy or would think it was strange if I stopped by or gave them a small gift. People are almost always grateful when you genuinely share a part of yourself.

In that spirit, we made a couple new friends. These boys had a great time paling around with Jacob and flirting with the girls. They liked one blonde in particular. The taller boy asked Jacob to tell her he was 18.

We had sandwiches at the school after we returned. This is the crew that spent the day painting the school buildings and the mural behind them.

This little girl was more adorable than you can imagine. She loved the attention and hugs. I wished I spoke spanish about 147 times on this trip, but even with the language barrier there were a lot of ways to contribute.

We were pretty much spent by the time the afternoon rolled around. Once the projects were finished we waited for Josh to finish whatever business he was attending too. It took a while and Jacob and Wendi both fell asleep. I got bored and wandered off to find Josh. I found some homemade tamales instead! They were amazing.

After a quick stop at a taco stand, we raced back to the beach so we could catch the sunset. (Josh and Wendi literally sprinted across the bridge to the beach.)

Jacob and Wendi getting caught up in the zen of the moment.

(Actually, the best thing about this picture is that it wasn't posed. I caught it as they were both about to flex for the camera.)
For those of you within a few hours of Provo (or Mexico) you should check out Kaiizen and consider coming with th group in February or May-ish. You won't regret it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Coming to a Blog Near You

Watch this spot for a good post about this. (I'm waiting for additional pictures)