Glass Act

After so many years of looking inward in search of that “new you for the new year,” can we all agree that what we really need to change is the same tired routine? Could it be that such deep personal dissatisfaction is simply a side effect of boredom, of time wasted on the couch instead of living life? Shake it up, get out there, and do something radically different this time around! I’m all about making 2019 my year of adventure, starting with a little help from IfOnly. Curating singular experiences with talented luminaries in cities across the US, this is not just another Groupon or Living Social app. You can have Alice Waters cook a private meal for you in your own home, go paragliding over the whole bay area, or even book a hot air balloon excursion over Mount Everest. Starting a bit closer to home, I’m still just testing the waters before I jump in head-first on a scuba diving adventure, instead homing in on the wide range of hands-on art opportunities nearby. Sure, painting and sewing are easy enough to pick up, but glass work is considerably less accessible.

Enter: Lynn Rovelstad, offering curious crafters an opportunity to get up close and personal with a kaleidoscope of custom glass projects. Rather than a standard drop-in to dabble with scraps, this booking gets you a private tutorial with the glass master herself, for an intimate afternoon for two or a party of twelve.

Whereas blown glass is difficult, hot, and potentially very dangerous, fused glass is easy, safe, and fun for all ages. In fact, children as young as 18 months have gotten in on the act, but 3 years old is the generally recommended minimum. The biggest hazard to participants are possible glass splinters, though even that risk is quite rare.

Fragments of colored glass are adhered to solid white, black, or clear glass base with plain old nontoxic Elmer’s glue gel. The process is very much reminiscent of mosaic making, with the bigger picture slowly revealing itself through each subsequent shard. Placement becomes permanent only after a day or two in the 1500-degree kiln. Edges are rounded, surfaces smoothed, and your work of art transforms into a solid, single piece. It’s akin to modern magic, although in the case of my one-of-a-kind serving utensil set, much more practical alchemy.

In one afternoon, I managed to go outside my comfort zone to explore a new part of the bay area, meet an inspiring artisan, spend time with a good friend, AND craft a completely unique salad serving set, barbecue fork, bread knife, and cake server. While it may not be as bold as flying a jet plane at mach speed, it was the exhilarating change of pace I needed to get out of my crafting rut and try something new.

Join me: Don’t just make resolutions for 2019, but make something real. Start crossing activities of your bucket list instead of adding them, for once. Get $50 off your first booking on IfOnly with the discount code “Kaminsky50” until 3/31/19.

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Do or Do-nut

Bigger is always better, or so we’re led to believe here in America. Grande sounds good, but why stop there when you can get a Venti, or even a Trenta? While you’re at it, you might as well super-size that order, or just get your whole meal in a bucket when no other vessel is large enough to accommodate. The literal proportions of the situation can quickly get out of hand, but by no means is this a criticism- More of an amused observation. I fully accept my own guilt when it comes to pushing reasonable size limitations in all aspects, and especially when it comes to food. Though I’d like to think of myself as more rational, balanced, or reserved, it’s hard to deny when the entire volume of your largest suitcase is occupied by just one doughnut.

Somehow it figures that the single largest object to have ever emerged from my crochet hook would be a dessert. Coming from this sweet-toothed and food-obsessed crafter, what else could it have really been? Billed as a “floor poof,” I’d like to think that this creation is genuinely more functional than frivolous. Kick up your feet and use it as an ottoman; stack up some reading material to enjoy it as a side table; cozy up with it on the couch as a super plush pillow. Really, its utility is as expansive as its physical size.

What I didn’t anticipate was that everyone in the house would want to make the most of this enormous fiberfill fritter.

It should come as no surprise that dogs love doughnuts too. One four-legged visitor discovered that my cotton snack cake was in fact the perfect size for a dog bed. Seeing this sweet pup so happily wedged in the center, it was hard to argue that in this case, bigger really was better. Maybe I should try stepping it up next time and build one with a Great Dane in mind. It’s best to keep thinking big, right?

Pattern from Twinkie Chan’s Crocheted Abode a la Mode.

An Unexpected Interloper

It’s been a banner year for our postage stamp-sized garden out back, finally turning out greater yields than the miniscule seeds that went into the ground in the first place. Predictably, with greater growing success comes the need for greater vigilance, as plump tomatoes gleam brighter and redder by the day, proving irresistible to both human and animal passersby. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to let the immature fruits ripen on the vine, as deeper shades of blush tempt a premature harvest, keeping other creatures from that same impulse has become something of a full-time occupation. Flimsy netting can only go so far, especially with the creatures smart enough to burrow beneath that loosely applied barrier.

Such was the case when one particularly ambitious (or perhaps, merely hungry) rabbit made it past the fence unhindered. Seemingly stunned to have stumbled upon this treasure trove of produce, he couldn’t quite get his bearings, unsure if it was all real or just a beautiful dream. Standing slack-jawed on a big green hill to get a better view of this bounty, it never even occurred to him that it was in fact a baby watermelon right beneath his feet. Beggars can’t be choosers, but when faced with a near limitless selection of edibles, this particular herbivore singled out the one thing he wanted most, neglecting all the easier prey: Carrots.

Upon spotting the green, frilly tops shooting up from the tender earth, there were no suitable alternatives as far as the rabbit was concern. Leaping off the neglected melon that might as well have been made of stone, he made a beeline for his beloved, fervently scooping away the dirt and yanking those promising sprouts with all his might. Possessing impressive might despite his size, he made quick work of the task and soon took one rapturous bite full of…

Parsley root? Indignant, he spat out the mouthful of beige tuber, still in disbelief at what he was tasting. Seriously, who plants parsley root instead of carrots? To call this a disappointment wouldn’t even scratch the surface at what this industrious rabbit was feeling, especially after all of the obstacles he had to overcome, all for that subtly celery-like taste. It wasn’t sweet at all! Who on earth would eat, let alone plant such a bizarre, unlovable vegetable?

Suddenly realizing that the garden mistress must be a raving lunatic, he was gripped with fear, sensing the gravity of his hunger-crazed and thoughtless actions. He fled the scene without a second to lose, abandoning his unwanted plunder right where it lay.

Rabbit amigurumi pattern from ABC Crochet by Mitsuki Hoshi. And yes, I do happen to love parsley root; deal with it, you silly rabbits.

Indian Summer

Just as suddenly as the cold and darkness descended, a brief respite from the encroaching fall brings us glorious blue skies and gentle 80-degree breezes, as if summer never left us in the first place. Toying with my heart, it’s hard not to get attached to this anomaly of the season. While Canadian friends across the border celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m marveling at children still playing on the beaches, joggers baring all in skimpy outfits, and general summer behavior continuing as if the calendar pages haven’t already advanced beyond July. Even the wildlife are clearly mixed up and confused by this inexplicable shift.


Glass platter provided by Steelite

Lounging about on a placid pond without a care in the world, this little fellow can’t even dream of a time without warm sunshine. So comfortable on that buoyant lily pad, I swear I could see him flattening out, relaxing to the point of loosening every muscle in his tiny green body and becoming a genuine pancake of a frog. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that next week is just as liable to bring a blizzard as it is more of this Indian summer. What’s the harm in pretending it’s still vacation, for just a little while longer, at least?

[Flapjack Frog pattern by Anna Hrachovec of MochiMochi Land]