Friday, June 27, 2008

East Bay Depot for ReUse...

Another reuse center located here in the Bay Area... The East Bay Depot is AWESOME!!! The director Linda Levetsky is so nice, and so supportive of the community. We (Shannon and I) went in there and talked to her today. She donated a bunch of fabric to us to be used to make reuseable shopping bags. The girls at the girls center will help me make them, along with some sewing experts. We plan on selling them at the store, and at Art in the Park in August. The proceeds will go to help fund the art program. We are also starting a recycle drive. Collecting cans and bottles from friends and family and companies. The money from the recycle program will also help fund the art program.

So check out the East Bay Depot, and see what treasures await you. I always find such cool stuff there... But if you see it, buy it, because it will all be new stuff the next time you go...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Smoke and San Francisco

Southbound on 101 heading to S. San Francisco. You can see me in the reflection on the back of the truck in my white Yukon
Shot on sports mode by holding up the camera and pressing the button. This was the only shot of Coit Tower that turned out.
The name on this truck just cracked me up... no significance beyond it made me laugh.
This was also shot on sports mode and was the only one to come out with the Transamerica building centered between the cables, and with a decent shot of the skyline. Hey, I DID have to watch the road... I just pressed the shutter button and took like 30 photos... I think these photos are not bad, considering I didn't once look in the viewfinder.
These were all snapped while driving (don't tell anyone) across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco... Looks like a normal day in San Francicso, right/ WRONG... it is not fog, but SMOKE you see there... (with a little fog mixed in) from all the fires we have burning up and down the state... I drove with the top down on the convertable and my lungs hurt from breathing in all the smoke... It didn't seem that bad just looking at it, but I did get a lot of soot in my eyes as well... So no going topless for a while... The air feels like when I go to LA... We are not used to air we can see up here like they are in LA... The fact that the valley we live in is like a bowl surrounded by foothills and a mountain doesn't help, all the smoke stays trapped in the valley... We have had cooler temperatures and winds, which are helping... Now if we can just get the fires to stop... We might actually have clean air again by maybe Labor Day Weekend...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fashion Shows and Bonfires....

Saturday was a busy day. In the morning we got up early to prepare for the Girls Center Fashion Show. Both my daughters were in the show. We started hair and makeup at 8am, arrived at the center at 9:30 and it was a frenzy of curling, pressing, hairspray, quick changes and giggling. I have been working with the girls for a few weeks altering dresses, and helping with the other Auxiliary ladies and the Soroptimists in fitting and finding clothes for all the girls. We had 12 girls from the center, and 7 extras, the librarians at the Juvenile hall, my girls, an auxiliary volunteer, and a couple of girls of the other volunteers in the program. Megan was slow to get on board with the idea, but she was really glad she participated. The head of Volunteers in Probation was impressed with Megan and wants her to be a Jr. Volunteer, until she turns 21 in a little over a year. She will be a peer counselor with the girls. Kayleigh was thrilled to be able to participate. She chose all her outfits with such thought and care. I only have these photos because cameras were not allowed for security reasons. The girls are all protected under the juvenile offender privacy act. I wish I could show you the pictures of these young ladies, and what a boost it is for them and their self esteem. It is also good for my girls to see the difference that having active, involved parents in your life can make. They appreciate me more. The girls at the center see my girls as an example of what they could do with their own lives if they made different choices.

Dress rehearsal Wednesday was so cute.. All of them with their hair in various stages of being done... Some with weaves hanging half done in the hair, some with little ponytails all over their heads, and some with do rags and shower caps on... all in formal evening gowns with their high heels... They were so excited, all the primping and preparation was so worth it. These are girls who come from difficult situations. They are wards of the court for various reasons, and sentenced to serve 6, 9 or 12 months. They all have mentors, who coach them on positive life skills, encourage them, and help them with the transitions from life on the street to completing high school, getting jobs, and graduating from the program to be productive members of society. It is amazing to see these young women blossom and grow under this program. I feel so honored to be a part of it.. Here are my girls after the fashion show. It was over 100 degrees and they were roasting in the sun, but humored me enough to snap these two pictures at least. I am so proud of them.
Then in the evening, it was off to a San Juan party at our friend Juan and Neves' house in Sunnyvale. We met them through the Catalan Society here in the Bay Area. Many people from the Catalonia region of Spain and also other parts of Spain all belong to the group. Many Spanish festivals were originally pagan celebrations, that were changed to religious festivals when Spain was christianized. This festival is a summer solstice party. It is in celebration of St. John the Baptist. In Spain, people gather (usually at a beach) and cook a big Paella, and dance and drink and sing all night. They light the bonfire after the food is done, and you write the things you want to be rid of for the year, throw it in the fire, then you make a big wish, and jump the bonfire to make your wish come true. In Spain, the parties usually start at 10 and go until morning, when everyone runs and jumps into the ocean to cleanse themselves (the St. John Part)

Last year, a neighbor wished for two children, and within a few months, they found out they were expecting.... twins!!! We saw the babies, 8 weeks old, at the party, living proof of the power of these rituals. The kids have the most fun, lining up over and over to jump the fire... at first it is all about the wish and throwing the paper in the fire, then two dads will help each child jump the fire... After one little girls 15th trip, one guy asked "Aren't you out of wishes yet?" she just smiled and said, "Yeah, but I like the jumping part best.." After, the guys get out their guitars and play music. We had all kinds of songs played, from I been working on the railroad to You are my Sunshine to Flamenco songs and Boleros and Spanish campfire songs and even Baby Beluga... After each song, you must shout "Ole" really loud... Much Cava and Sangria and Mojito's later... we didn't get home until 3 in the morning... which by Spanish standards is WAY too early... It was fun. I love exposing the kids to other cultures and sharing other customs with them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Camping and Wine Tasting

The pond and picnic areas at Kunde

Pascual and the picnic bags at Kendall-Jackson

The front of Kandall-Jackson. The gardens are beautiful. Juanito and Laurita
Chateau St. Jean
Pascual's famous Paella was even better cooked over a campfire
Caught unexpectedly washing the dishes
The proud chef posing with his creation. Top Chef, here he comes!
The Spanish, Mexican, American delegation on the third bottle of wine after setting up camp.
I have spent all my life camping for vacations. Those who know my dad know what an outdoorsman he is. Most of my family vacations as a kid were camping trips. We usually had a few friends with us... We would run through the hills howling like coyotes, shooting BB guns, following streams up and downriver to discover cool ponds and swimming holes. I think that is where I get my love of nature and the mountains... I automatically relax as soon as I see trees and hills.

Pascual and I went camping this weekend in Sonoma with our friends Juan and Laura. This is the first camping trip we have taken without kids. It was great because we went wine tasting in Santa Rosa and Sonoma... man... I think I will never go to Napa Valley again. Sonoma is much more laid back. The wineries all have great picnic spots, and they don't require you to purchase the stuff in their deli. The prices on the wines are cheaper, and the country is beautiful like the Silverado Trail side of Napa Valley. It was 1/2 hour past Infineon Raceway.... We went to Franciscan, Hook & Ladder, Chateau St. Jean, Blackstone, Kendall-Jackson, Kunde, Martenelli, V-Sattui, Robert Mondavi and Niebaum Coppola. We didn't taste at the last 3 (all in Napa Valley) but we bought some picnic stuff and had a nice picnic at V. Sattui, one of the only places to picnic at in Napa... (as long as you buy food in their deli) Kendall Jackson has lovely gazebos in the garden for picnics, and Kunde has a lovely picnic area by a pond under big oak trees. Chateau St. Jean is BEAUTIFUL and I could have spent the whole afternoon there. They have a deli and nice picnic grounds as well...

On Sunday, we took Trinity Road over to Napa. went up highway 29, had a picnic at V. Sattui and then drove up 29 to Petrefied Forest Road and took it back over to highway 12 in Santa Rosa. We wound up back at camp, drank a bottle of wine and then packed up and headed home... Aside from some harassment from the Park Ranger (we are convinced she didn't like Mexicans) the place we camped was really awesome. There are no showers though, and a longer trip would have been difficult without showers... As it was, washing in the faucet outside made me feel like a pioneer... Pascual said we smelled like Gypsies... when I asked what he meant, he said, "They smell like woodsmoke from outdoor fires...." I keep forgetting that his European references are so different from ours... I have never been that close to a rural Gypsy to really know... I did go to a Flamenco show in Madrid that was full of gypsy men, but they were all sharply dressed and incredibly beautiful men... I didn't notice any woodsmoke smell, but then I was too enamoured over how beautiful they all were, and was mesmerized with their incredible dancing...

Anyway... Sonoma county is AWESOME... If you have never been, be sure to go there FIRST before going to Napa. I love Napa, don't get me wrong, but I think I am loving Sonoma more now...!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Graduations, Weddings and family

My baby girl Kayleigh graduated from Elementary school and is off to Jr. High next year... Zack graduated Jr. High and is off to High School, next year. Austin will be a Junior and Megan is moving out and transferring to school and Starbucks in Berkeley. All my little chicks are growing up... I have no photo of Zack at his graduation... He was so excited to go hang out with his friend Max and Max's dad, he bailed on his whole family that was there to see him graduate... so we have only this photo of him getting his diploma... I am still steamed about it... The scrapbooker mom, with no photo to show of such an event... Oh well... Here is all of us minus Zack at Kayleigh's graduation... He was at his 8th grade graduation dance...

My cousin Erica got married to a wonderful guy named Sam. Here is a photo of them I took at their reception. I have never seen her more beautiful, and happy. Isn't it amazing, how love and being in love makes you more attractive? Not that she was ever ugly, but now she is radiant... I am so happy for her!

Here are some pictures of some family members at the wedding. These are some of my first cousins with their spouses. They are all the kids of my mothers siblings, and some of their kids... It is so fun when we all get together. we have a great time catching up, and have talked about having a big blowout camping / boating trip this summer like we used to in the old days when we were all little. Kayleigh and Zack were in baby heaven playing with all their little cousins. These babies look so much like their parents, all of whom I used to babysit... I love seeing the generations growing and having kids... Getting together, we all get to have so much fun watching our kids play together... Man, family is great!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Acrylic Albums and COOL Recycled Art

OK... I am trying to think outside the box more... I was inspired yesterday when I went to Starbucks and saw some sculpture art created with a glue gun and the different cups, straws, and plastic and paper waste. The photos are trapped in my phone. I need the cable thingie to transfer them. Let me just say... AMAZING!!! The art was really incredible... A motorcycle and airplane and some flowers made with cups, straws and cup sleeves. I will figure out how to get them off my phone and post them here soon...

I am getting a large donation of 3 ring binders from a corporation... I am thinking of how to deconstruct them and recreate and repurpose them to be some kind of altered art album kit thing... hmmmm... let me get out my xacto's and craft knives and see what I can come up with... I know they are made of chipboard, and covered in vinyl... If I rip the covers off and remove the chipboard and hole punch it.... My kids call me the Dr. Frankenstein of book buyers. I always rip them apart and combine pages and parts from other books... I guess that would be a good analogy... But I think my experiments are much cooler (and prettier) than Dr. F's monster... My Monster Books and Monster Board are way cool... hey... there is a name for my Frankensteined books!!! OK... I gotta photograph them and post them tonight or over the weekend...

I am pondering the whole acrylic album thing. I want to do one, but I want to use recycled materials for it.... I will put my thinking cap on and post the results here soon! Anyone have any other recycled art ideas they would like to share?