Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Trip Fund Raiser with Noah

This December Noah and I will be going to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and hopefully other places in the area. We are going to meet friends and will be staying there for about ten days. Noah recently came to me and offered to help with funds for the trip so that we would be able to go on some of the many tours that are available in the area. This amazing opportunity is a trip of a lifetime for us and we are hoping to see as much of the exciting history especially the rich Christian/Judeo/Muslim history that the area is steeped in.
These are some types of bookmarks we will have available. We are using leather thread, glass and metal beads. Many of the beads we are using are going to be recycled from old costume jewelry and being repurposed into something new which makes many of the items truly unique. The leather items like the feathers, leaves, and flowers are hand cut, shaped and dyed by us. 

 Over the next couple of months we are making small gift items out of our leather, and adding in items like bookmarks and wine glass markers that will be made with glass beads, leather string, small handmade leather decorative pieces and charms. We are hopefully going to have items available at several local stores. The items would make great hostess gifts, teachers gifts, and small happies like stocking stuffers and secret pal gifts. We will also still have some soap, and other leather goods available. 
 These are some of the Wine Glass Markers that we are making with some of the smaller left over pieces of leather thread. Each one is unique and different. We will have these, the bookmarks, and other leather items at the Art Vending Machine located at the Powerhouse, and they will be available when we are at markets and by contacting us directly. 

We will also be attending local markets when able. A list of stores and markets will be created soon. 

Thank you for your consideration
Noah Zerangue
Michelle Zerangue

I will update and post other crafts on my Facebook  page and our Family Page @handmadeandhomegrown

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Story of Four Perfect Pebbles/Marion Blumenthal Lazan

This week we had the honor of meeting Mrs. Marion Blumenthal Lazan and her husband Mr.  Nathaniel Lazan. Mrs. Lazan is a Holocaust survivor who tells her amazing story. It is a hard story to hear, imagine, or even understand, but amazing in that she has been through one of the most horrific historical events ever and has come through with such unbelievable love and devotion to humankind. She spoke this week to many people in the community and many, many groups of school children telling her story so that it can be shared and the relaying the importance of it being remembered so that it does not ever get repeated.

Ms. Lazan spoke at the Gertrude C. Ford Center on the UM campus this week and we thought this would be something that would be great for our children(the older ones) to experience, and I really wanted to hear her story because I have always found that the people who have been through these situations have been so courageous in their experience, but also in their ability to share what they have had to endure in hopes that maybe our future will take what they have to say and turn it into an opportunity for positive growth. Her story was truly heartbreaking, what she, her family, and millions of others had to endure was truly beyond understanding. The images that she had to deal with daily for those years at that age most of us will never have to face. Several of my children are at the ages that she talked about during her days in captivity, and travel, and escape, an finally freedom. We have a 4 year old, 7 year old, 9 year old, 11 year old and a 17 year old. The idea of having to survive through that at those ages(at any age) is truly overwhelming.

The best part of the whole story was the four is truly a perfect description of a child's way of processing hope, courage and survival in the darkest of days. I encourage everyone to read this book definitely, but if you have the opportunity to see Mrs. Lazan speak and to meet her in person please take that opportunity. She is a beautiful person, an amazing soul,  and a true treasure in this world. I hope that hearing her and meeting her has made a lasting impact on my children because she has made a lasting impact on me.

We bought several copies of the book  and asked Mrs. Lazan to autograph them for each of the children so that they have a copy to remember the day they met her and also in hopes that it will be a treasure for their future to read, remember and pass along as their families may grow in the future.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Kale-uffaletta...A Punny Name

Sunday night I made a muffuletta for the family for supper. It is a Louisiana staple that developed in the New Orleans area. Italian Immigrants developed it and I am so glad that they did. It is a lovely slice of meat and cheese sandwich heaven slathered with a salty briny olive/vegetable mix that just makes such an amazing combination.

Occasionally I indulge and make it at home. It came out beautiful, but unfortunately my oldest was sure to point out that I am not able to have it so I said don't worry, I have a plan...I modified it and made a "Kale-uffuletta" for me. I got a few giggles at the cleverness of my word play, and some skepticism at the idea of it, but I proceeded to create my bacon wrapped kale, meat, cheese, and olive salad mix masterpiece. In the end it was intriguing and I would definitely do it again. It will most likely need adjustments for future versions, but for the first try I believe it was a success.

First I started by weaving a bacon blanket to hold everything together.

Then I added a couple of layers of kale to hold in all the lovely layers of meat cheese and olive mix that makes up the middle of the sandwich.

A layer of cheese. I use several kinds of cheese in our sandwiches you can choose what ever you like. This one was Swiss. On top of that, the olive salad mix.

A meat layer next. I chose a layer of black forest ham

Then cheese again. This was Colby-Jack. Then I added a layer of hard salami(forgot the picture).

...and finally a layer of smoked provolone cheese and more olive salad mix. This is truly just a preference of how much or little you prefer...most of us like does not...there is always one...

Carefully roll up the layers trying to keep the bacon blanket together so that as it cooks it tightens around the whole thing and holds it together.

They both went into the oven and baked for about 15 minutes in a foil wrap. I took the regular Muffaletta out of the oven because it only needed to heat through to warm the bread and meat and melt the cheese. The "Kale-uffuletta" had to bake until the bacon was cooked so I opened up the foil and let it bake another 15 minutes so that the bacon would crisp up a bit and brown a bit. It was taken out of the oven and let rest for a few minutes to let the cheese cool down a bit and set up so that it wasn't too much of a gooey mess.

We ate a side salad with our various versions of Muffuletta. Surprisingly, the kids were just as interested in my version as they were the bread was the bacon...

It was definitely a good first try at a new creation. I will do it again definitely. I would like to try and layer in more vegetables and more kale.

As far as cooking it, it definitely needs to be cooked on a rack to make sure that the bacon, meat and cheese drippings are able to escape so that it doesn't get soggy on the bottom. sealing it in the layers of kale worked really well to keep the cheese from escaping. what do you think? Would you try it?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse 2017

Our Epic Trip to the zone of totality I would say ranged up there with one of our best spur of the moment trips ever. In July we found out about the eclipse happening...a little late to the game I guess because some people have been planning for years. Our first thought was to just stay local and view it because even in Oxford Mississippi the totality range was somewhere in the 90% range and most of me was thinking that that was close enough. Then there was this little nagging inner voice that was screaming from the nerd in me, "NO!!! It must be viewed in totality. It is so very close we have to make it closer. So we tentatively planned to go to Nashville, but all the hype and media coverage of it seemed to be causing the possibility of huge traffic congestion and many millions of people converging on the cities that were being claimed as the best viewing spots. We started looking and after a while, decided that maybe Wickliffe, Kentucky would be a great place to go because it was close but a smaller town that wasn't participating in all the craziness, but at the last minute(like halfway there) I found out that even there was only 99.9% totality clearly if we were to make this trip 99.9% is just not good enough so Benton, Kentucky it became.

We left Oxford at noon after Mass on Sunday and drove to Middle Tennessee where we camped at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park. It was a nice campground and not overly crowded or crazy. We got unpacked, and the kids began setting up the tents and hammocks while we checked in at the office. After we got back and finished setting up sleeping arrangements we went for a walk on a trail to cover our Sunday walk for the training that Matt is doing with the boys. The trail was beautiful, but very steep and rocky. Matt and I enjoyed it, the kids...not so much they were not prepared for so much uphill walking but they lived.

 When we returned to the campsite the kids gathered small sticks and Matt, Benjamin and I went to find some larger wood to burn for supper...Hot dogs and s'mores. We made a salad to take with us, but forgot salad dressing and forks to eat it with so we made do. Nathan, Noah, and Jacob set up hammocks in the trees and planned on sleeping out. Jacob made it about 10 minutes before deciding to sleep in a tent with Evelyn. Nathan and Noah made it the whole night. I was very nervous and worried(too many episodes of Criminal Minds I guess) about someone grabbing the boys in the night...I didn't get much sleep.

We woke up at about 5am(to beat all the expected traffic) and packed everything up to leave in what I would say was record time for us...just over an hour.
Our first stop on the road was Paris, Tennessee. Where we had the opportunity to see the splendor of the Eifel Tower and then headed to Walmart to stock up for our day with food, snacks, and more water just in case there was lots of crazy.

We were on our way. Several places along the way had highway signs warning of traffic and no stopping off on the highway to view the eclipse. We eventually arrived in Benton and settled on a state park area on the Kentucky Lake. We got to a Marina that looked promising and set up camp. There were lots of people coming and going with boats, but the area wasn't at all crowded.


We found a shady spot and set up some blankets(because we had so much stuff and so little space the camp chairs just didn't fit into the car...we were "roughing it".) We got out the lunch stuff, snacks, and drinks. We set up our pinhole camera and our white board to view the shadows. The kids took out their eclipse adventure papers for while we were waiting(we got there at 9am) and we just hung out along to water's edge.

Eventually another family showed up and they had an amazing telescope. All the kids played together and kept each other company while waiting for totality to arrive. As the kids were talking and playing we realized that everything was beginning to take on an eerie hue and it was getting close.

Things quickly started getting dark, and the temperature began to be noticeably different. As the moon closed on the sun the streetlights began to come on in the distance and a beautiful sunset fell over the sky around us and distant cheers and hollers erupted in the distance as it fell dark.  We were able to take off our glasses and see the stars(and Venus I think) had come out and everyone was able to look directly at the eclipse aura. I took a couple of quick pictures before it was over, and as if a light switch was flipped on everything began to return to normal.

We had an amazing time, and even though I was grateful that it wasn't crowded like all of the claims made, I think that it was so much more fun to enjoy the time with someone else, and when it was all done the kids left with new memories and friendships. 

We decided to head out before the actual ending of the moon's journey across the sun to continue our journey. Matt and I decided to take the kids to Sikeston, Missouri to go to Lambert's Café...Home of the "throwed" rolls. We set off to Paducha and then headed to Wickliffe and crossed the Ohio River and the Mississippi River because that is the point that the two converge. That was the first time that any of us saw this and it was an amazing site to see. At that point we crossed over from Kentucky to Illinois to Missouri in the span of just a few minutes.

When we arrived there were quite a lot of people there...quite a lot. The line was out the door and around the side of the building in the parking lot. We got there at about 4:30pm and were seated at about 6:10pm. Yes, it was worth the time spent waiting. The kids made friends with all of the other kids running around, climbed trees and played on the wooden train in the front. Lots of the adults were sharing pictures and stories of their eclipse stories. It was actually pretty amazing to see everyone standing around and sharing. The kids had a great time at Lambert's Café. Some of them were able to catch rolls. They looked like gophers when they heard "hot rolls" yelled out. We left there at about 8pm and headed home. We made it back home at about midnight.

So in the span of two days we went from Mississippi, to Tennessee, to Kentucky, to Illinois, to Missouri, to Arkansas, to Tennessee and Back home. I don't think we have covered so many states in one trip.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Eclipse Shirts

 Just a couple of days before the Eclipse, one of my Sister-in Laws posted a tutorial on how to make t-shirts that had the image of the eclipse on them. They looked really nice so I decided that we should make some for our epic trip to the range of totality. They were really easy to make, we had lots of fun, and everyone loved how their shirts came out. 

 First thing we did was protect our work space and gather all of our supplies.

We needed: 
Acrylic Paint(purple, red, orange, yellow and white.)
Sponge Brushes
A tooth brush or stiff bristled paint brush for making "stars"
small paper dessert plates
double-sided tape
cardboard for inside shirts
Everyone taped their plate down on their shirts. I used the brush to make stars on everyone's shirts since flinging of paint was involved and I really didn't want paint all over the house.

All the kids began to paint their shirts using each of the colors of the paint to make it look like space. First using purple(we mixed red and blue) was painted in the widest ring how ever far out they wanted to go(some chose not to use purple).
 Then red was used. We chose to paint most of the colors before each dried so that their was quite a bit of blending of colors. Some chose to wait between colors to see more contrast between colors.
Orange was next in a smaller ring and then yellow was used barely on the outside.
We let the shirts dry a bit and some of the kids added more color. After the shirts dried for about an hour, we removed the paper plate and I edged each of the shirts with a white ring. 

Because there was not enough space at the table I waited to do Matt's shirt and my shirt...Of course, I got distracted and forgot to tape the plate down before I made the "stars" and our shirts had a bit of star matter in the center of our eclipse. I mostly fixed it with black paint, but it still showed through. So remembering the plate before the "stars" is a huge step.