29 February 2008

More Bento Supplies


I've been looking everywhere for these little gems. I finally found them at one of those mondo super stores. They are great for keeping little foods separate in Spud's bento lunches. They are flexible so they can squeeze in anywhere. They are washable which makes them more useful than the plastic lined paper cups I've been using [although those are high on the cute factor with their little illustrations all over them]. And they are inert, they say, so we don't have to worry about toxins leaking into our little foods. Nice.

New Skewers
Anything on a Skewer
Bentolicious I
Bentolicious II
Bentolicious III

25 February 2008

Tub Froggee

It's a shower caddy. It's bath toy storage. It's a scoop. It's a toy. And it's cute! We bought ours at Chapters but they have them Amazon too. It's called Frog Pod by Boon. Spud and I like it a lot.

24 February 2008

Come Sail Away


Sailing, sailing, over the ocean
Sailing, sailing, over the sea
Sailing, sailing, over the water
Sail back home to me

· Lids, large and flat with a lip
· Straw, for the mast
· Playdoh or putty, for securing the mast-straw
· Scrap paper, cut into sail-triangles
· Scissors, for cutting the sails
· Single hole punch, to make holes for the mast-straw

This lid was particularly good. It came from a large jar of nuts. The lip of the lid is pretty high so it can withstand significant bathtub waves. The rounded handle acts as a pretty good keel too.

23 February 2008

Stained Glass Cityscape

The Materials I Used:
· Heavy Paper from a sketchbook, tabloid size
· Watercolour paints and paintbrush
· Pencil
· Felt pen, black, grey, or brown
· X-acto knife and self-healing mat
· Tissue paper, various colours
· Double-sided tape

First I drew the cityscape in pencil and outlined it in black. I think using a brown Indian ink and pen would have given it nice quality too as the varying line width would have been more interesting.

I wanted the paper to look a little more antiqued or natural so I simply put a rough wash of a darkish yellow over the drawing. It would have been good to ink after this process. Next time.

I roughly cut out each window and door, trying not to make it too precious.

Next I taped the tissue paper to the back of the paper, using a few layers of each colour to give the windows and doors a richer hue.

Finally, I trimmed the outside of piece and put it in the window. Next time I'll measure out the width of the window to make it span across the bottom.

16 February 2008

Photography Tips

I'm by no means a photographer. Not in anyway. But my kid has taught me a few things about taking some usable shots of him. The following are a few principles I keep in mind when digitally capturing the shenanigans of my wee one.

1. Lighting is king. Sunlight is an angel. Dawn and dusk light are magic. And, to me, the flash is the devil. I use natural light as much as humanly possible.

2. Asymmetrical composition. Always centering your subject is, well, boring. And, of course, it breaks the rule of thirds.

3. Establishing a visual hierarchy.
Typically I want my Spud to be the first thing you notice when you first glance at the photo. I do this by having a clean and simple backdrop. I also achieve this by using a low depth of field which is easy-peezy with our new swishy camera and hot lense. I'll post about this later. Finally, I simply just get in really close.

4. Trying all the angles.
I like to try out all sorts of different angles. Shooting from the top, the aerial, can be good. But I want to avoid consistently using the adult's perspective (i.e. my eye level). It's just dull; that's the view we all have, everyday. So I also try shooting from the hip or the knee or even my feet. Why not?

5. Taking risks.
I like adding an element of randomness to my shots. I'll hold out my camera at arm's length and shoot without being able to preview the shot. I end up throwing a lot of the images out but sometimes there's a keeper. There can be beauty in innocently capturing a random moment. And worth the risk.

6. Taking a million shots. It's the law of averages really. When you are as amateur as I am, it's wise to take 100 shots in hopes you get lucky. And eventually you will.

7. Edit your face off.
If I take 100 shots. I want to keep 20. Maybe even 10. This is especially important when I'm showing them to friends and family. If the photo needs too many words to explain it then I chuck it.

Sometimes after a session with Spud I strike it lucky and get 50 usable shots. That's when I get ruthless. Because I know that any beauty will be lost if it's surrounded by visual noise. If there are 10 of him smiling I force myself to pick the best one. This strategy gives me permission to take a million shots without being burdened with truckloads of mediocre digital data.

Well. That's all I know. For now. I'm still learning.

06 February 2008

Don't Forget the White Glue


This was a little project we did on the beach on our last day waiting for the bus to the airport. We will use the stop action images for our trip video and we left it as a simple thank you for the maid.

01 February 2008

Food and Cuba

Let's face it. Cuba has a lot going for it. Its stunning beaches, great weather, friendly folk, rich culture, spicy music and dance ... but food is difficult. Getting away from pork, rice and beans and all your really left with is a ham sandwich. The resorts do their best. But in our experience, having been there 3 times, Cuba is not about the food. So, whether you are travelling around the country or staying put in an all-inclusive, it's a good idea to have some back up for your little ones. What follows is a list of food related items that we either brought or would consider bringing if we went again.

1. Bento Lunch for the airplane. In my experience food on the airplane has become a decreasingly important part of customer service. I just don't rely on it anymore especially when it comes to my wee one. This time I packed a little bento lunch which was a big hit: salad pocky, turkey meat balls, tomato/feta cheese skewers, cucumber and red pepper car shapes, grapes, craisins, cashews, and chocolate pudding.

2. Crackers or some other familiar snack food that you can leave in the room or throw in your beach bag. We brought Stoned Wheat Thins and Salad Pocky. With so much new food or familiar food prepared differently, it was nice to offer him something he knew from home.

3. A power bar for each day. These were a huge hit. But no wonder, most of them were covered in chocolate. This by the way is a silly thing to bring to a warm climate. I kept them in our mini fridge but by the time we made it to the beach the little bars were a big mess. Next time I'll look for some healthier and cleaner options too.

4. Peanut Butter. I would bring a small container if we were to go again. It's got protein. It's easy to keep food safe. And it's a comfort from home.

5. Dried fruit. Raisins are easy to find in the shops there but I didn't see any other variety.

6. Cans of tuna. I would consider bringing some tins if I was venturing off the resort for more than a few days.

7. Milk. My little guy barely touched the milk for the entire week. He said it was "too creamy". We drink 1% at home. If we were going for an extended trip I would consider working him up to whole milk a couple of weeks before the trip. If you are travelling away from the big hotels then consider bringing powdered milk or get everyone used to UHT milk (shelf milk) before you go.

8. I suspect that you aren't allowed to bring in fresh veg or fruit but if I could, knowing I had a fridge on the other end, I would have brought a red pepper, cherry tomatoes, grapes, and apples. But that's just specific to my kid's preferences.