Wednesday, May 30, 2012

McGonagle's Spectaculary Successful Spell

This year at Harry Potter Camp, we will treat all new wands with this spell...
 (Please feel free to use this spell for your own personal use, parties, etc., but as I created this craft, I would appreciate it if you would credit it to me and not sell it as your own.)
Via Heather's Water Works Blog
Which is kept in a book safe...
Via Heather's Water Works Blog
With the ingredients to cast the spell conveniently at hand.

Here is the cover for the book safe with a small skull made from paper mache' and glittered for a fantastical effect.  
Via Heather's Water Work's Blog

Two years ago all the campers made a book safe like this one in which to keep their magic items.  It, however, becomes increasingly difficult to find old books from which to make them.  Reader's Digest Condensed books have become a hot item in the DIY world.  I used to pay $.50 for them.  Now the cheapest I can find them is $1.00 and only one or two at a time.  We have 30 campers!  Since we are a non-profit camp, we are always looking for inexpensive crafts.  

We will continue to use this example as a prop for skits, and maybe sometime, I will come upon a large stash of books that I can bear to cut up! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sorting-Harry Potter Camp

 I am thinking about the upcoming magical week at Camp Stoney.  We will be making these house ties after the campers are sorted into houses.  Of course everyone wants to be in Gryffindor, but most kids find "their house" is the best by the end of the week!  A big shout out to Jennifer for coming up with this wonderful idea and posting a tutorial at her blog

 In Care of Magical Creatures, we will be making these very cute owls...
Another shout out to Jenn, a Canadian blogger at Clean and Scentsible who came up with this original idea when crafting some Halloween decorations

And in Potions class, the students will use their Potions Handbook, designed by Kaye, author of the Blog Mrs. Nespy's World

Britta Peterson has an Esty Shop where I purchased some wonderful potion bottle labels and Bertie Botts Bean Boxes to make for Honeydukes.  We try to have one new and wonder item to wow the kids at Hogsmeade each year and I think they will love these.
Years ago, Britta shared a copy of her hand drawn Maurader's Map to give to our campers for free!  We were all just starting out on our journeys with Harry Potter and I want to repay her generosity by making some purchases now that she is selling things. She has other fantastical items that would make your Harry Potter parties special.

An update on Norm's Mom.  She has been transferred to healthcare at Manzano Del Sol and is making great strides already in her recovery.  Will be doing physical therapy to help her regain her mobility.  Her speech is clear and her will is strong!  Thanks for all the prayers, phone calls, emails, etc.  You are all wonderfully supportive.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Alaskan artist-JoAnn Lesh

Being talented in many ways seems to be a necessity in the Alaskan population.  DIY was pretty much the only way to get things done in the fairly recent past, and so Alaskans have developed many areas of expertise.  JoAnn Lesh is an example of one of these hardy souls.  She is a community organizer, a Mom, an innkeeper, a gardener, a party planner, and most recently a really talented water color artist.

There are examples of two of her teacher's work hung throughout the many rooms of the Inn, but my favorites are the innkeeper's work.  Lively, colorful and expressive, they all reflect the joy that JoAnn so clearly feels when she paints.

I would imagine the slower pace of winter after the summer season of gardening, inn keeping and hostessing would be the only time she can find to express her creativity through artwork.  And express it she does!

King crab...good for eating and painting!
Glacier Bay-mixed media (if you look closely you will see that she has added dimensional white paint, which creates abstract shapes.  Brilliant!
Flowers in the garden
Flowers in the house
More poppies
If they had been for sale, I would have bought one of them.  The only problem would have been to decide which one!  However, perhaps when I return to Gustavus, she will have enough on the walls of the Inn and will be willing to part with one. Have I mentioned that poppies are my favorite flower?

And return to Gustavus and its well-run Inn is something I am definitely hoping to do...after laboriously losing the weight I have gained over this week of gourmet (on the part of the Inn staff) and gourmand (that would be me) dining at breakfast (sourdough pancakes with spruce tip syrup and homemade granola, lunch (wonderful homemade soups, halibut burgers, and salads, and always those tummy enlarging fresh sourdough rolls) and dinner (fresh fish of all kinds, caught that day, vegetables grown in their gardens and luscious desserts).  Come back and visit for a few of the Gustavus Inn recipes which Dave so generously shared with me.  The Gustavus Inn won the prestigious James Beard award in 2010.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Eagles here, there, and everywhere!

About half of the world's 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska, and we have been spotting quite a few.
One flew out from the shore towards us as the ferry approached the pier in Gustavus.  Landing on the beach he watched us struggle with the unwieldy luggage as we disembarked, as if to say, "doesn't look like nest materials to me."  Of course we are carrying our nest with us in the form of sleeping bags, Thermarest, pillows, tent, stove and food. It is all hidden in dry bags, strapped to dollies.  (For non-boaters, dry bags are heavy plastic bags that roll from the top and are hopefully waterproof to keep your belongings dry in very wet conditions).
 He took off as I approached a little too close.
 Effective legislation to protect the bald eagle resulted in this endangered species being upgraded to "threatened" in 1995.

Sharing a perch with a raven

They mostly eat salmon, which is probably why this raven looks so nonchalant sitting right next to a very large predator.  We did, however, see the carcass of a raven not too far from this tree, torn to pieces so perhaps he has a false sense of security.

Speaking of birds, I picked up an intriguing novel, "Birdy" on the ferry.

 If you travel by ferry, don't bother to tote a bunch of books because people just leave theirs when finished and there is a bookshelf on every ferry from which to choose a book that has been discarded.

 I have only just begun to read it, but as the publisher describes it..." Birdy is an inventive, hypnotic novel about friendship and family, dreaming and surviving, love and war, madness and beauty, and, above all, "birdness." It tells the story of Al, a bold, hot-tempered boy whose goals in life are to life weights and pick up girls, and his strange friend Birdy, the skinny, tongue-tied perhaps genius who only wants to raise canaries and to fly. While fighting in World War II, they find their dreams become all too real—and their lives are changed forever."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gardens and Greenhouse

"Pure envy" would describe my feelings about this wonderful property. A green house and a huge garden! We will take a look at the green house first, since in Alaska, the growing season is short and most things need to start there.
Outside the door is this great shallow sink...double duty of a potting sink and a place to clean the wonderful fresh fish that Dave cooks.  The fish carcases go into his compost pile for later feeding of the plants that he grows for his table.
Hardening off a few things before they go into the ground.
The growing side of the greenhouse.  This little chair is far from home.  We saw these everywhere in Belize and loved them.  The green house would be a great place to sit in the winter and dream of spring.
Ready to go into the garden
Every inch is used...notice the hanging plastic plant bags on both sides of the chair on the floor and one on the chair that is hung on the wall.
Flowers and food. The nasturtium flowers will end up in salads.
The working side of the greenhouse.
The workhorse garden cart.
The vegetable garden.
Lettuces we had for dinner last night.

There is a great deal of planting left to do as we are here before their season begins. Tomorrow, I will get my hands dirty as JoAnn has agreed to let me help with that planting. (It is tomorrow now and raining so we are not least I'm not...this New Mexico girl might melt in the rain.) Years ago I helped one early summer day to plant the gardens at the Yellow Pine Ranch in  Cuchara, Colorado.  They had window boxes at every cabin and purchased the plants from a nursery.  Here the flowering plants have been nurtured from seeds and will share space with the edible plants.

It has been great fun to spend our meals with local residents who love the Gustavus Inn dining experience and who themselves are getting their businesses ready for the hoards of tourists who will arrive in a couple of weeks.  Last night we heard stories of the rowdy early days in Juneau when most folks were just beginning to build their lives in the new-to-them Alaskan frontier and how things have changed in the last fifty years.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

From Spartan to Splurge-"Where in the World are Heather and Norm"

From sleeping on the deck of a ferry boat, 
we are now ensconced in the award winning "Gustavus Inn" with a queen sized bed and a twin 

Gustavus Inn
The food is innovative and features foods unique to their location such as Kelp pickles, ginger steamed black cod and rhubarb spread (for some of their wonderful recipes, pick up the current copy of Organic Gardening Magazine where writer, Laurie Constantino features the Gustavus Inn.  Regrettably this article is not on their internet version.  The first night they served halibut baked in a sour cream sauce..
A lovely salad picked that day from their garden...
A melange of garden vegetables very lightly sauteed. (Sorry, I neglected to take a photo because I was serving the halibut as the meals are served family style and I was the closest to the very hot casserole dish.)

Couscous and freshly baked sourdough rolls...
For dessert there was a choice of rhubarb pie with ice cream or Grasshopper pie. No photo of these either as rhubarb is my favorite and I dived right in and ate every bite before remembering the blog!  The Inn was awarded the prestigious James Beard Foundation's 2010 American Classics Award.

The views from all the windows are incredible...

Come back tomorrow and we will take a look at the gardens and greenhouse.

The next day's post will feature the work of both JoAnn Lesh, watercolor artist, (and owner with her husband, Dave Lesh who is the second generation to operate Gustavus Inn with their children, the third generation) and some of the artwork of her teachers, and former artist/guests of the Inn.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Solarium Bedroom

Ever so humble bed chamber for three nights on the "Columbia"
It is difficult and expensive to get a cabin on the ferries, and so we "roughed it" with the young folks...except most of them were not so young after all.
Thrifty dining on the solarium.

We were sleeping with an interesting assortment of folks out here on the covered deck area of the boat.  An older gentlemen from Scotland who was very chatty.  A young woman from Houston in an extremely short leather skirt and jacket (and fortunately heavy stockings to keep her legs warm...otherwise my motherly soul would have been offering her fleece from my own wardrobe!) on her way to look for work in the cool of Alaska.  Many retired couples out exploring.  Lots of young people on the way to summer jobs.  A "giggle" of high school girls, apparently returning from a sports event as they wore matching pants.  Rough looking "working guys." And our good friends and fellow adventurers, Andy and Sylvia.
Andy and Sylvia left the ferry at Petersburg to take an independent week long kayak trip and will rejoin us in Gustavus for the remainder of the trip.

Traveling the inner passage to Gustavus from Bellingham takes three days and a ferry boat change at 3:00 a.m.  It, however, let us see some incredible scenery and "decompress" from the busy lives we lead.  

Lots of reading done.  Lots of visiting with folks from around the world.  Naps during the day as the boat vibration lulls you to sleep.

And some surprising entertaining fly crafting...

Not to insult all my friends who love to fish, but this activity seems the most exciting thing about fishing to me.  Maybe because I haven't EVER CAUGHT A FISH.

Traveling on the Alaskan Inner Passage- "Where in the World are Heather and Norm?"

I have heard folks on board this ferry complain about how slow it is...but my complaint is that the views are changing too rapidly.  No painting possible except from photos.  Here are a few of the "views" from our bedroom on the solarium.  BEDROOM ON THE SOLARIUM?  Sounds a good deal more posh that it is.  More about that later...