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Book Page Garland for a Graduation Party

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

Book page garland

Phillip finished grad school, after seven years of working full time and taking classes part-time. So we needed to have a party.

Graduation cap

We ended up reserving space in a restaurant near where the commencement ceremony was, so friends and family could just go there directly afterward. I wanted to add some festive touches but knew I’d have little to no time to decorate before people got there. (It turned out to be the latter.)

I kept it super simple with a few school-themed items that I could set up in a flash – all using things I had on hand.

Book page garland

How I made the book page pennants:

1. Ripped out several pages of a ridiculous conspiracy theory novel that I had picked up from free bin outside Changing Hands. (I mean, I’m not going to cut up a good book!)

Book page garland

Book page garland

2. Found the center of the page by folding it in half, only creasing the very bottom of it and making a mark. You could also actually measure and/or use a template if you’re into precision.Book page garland

3. Made a cut from the top right corner of the page to my center mark. Then repeated from the top left.

What I wish I would’ve done: cut from the top right and left margins of the page instead, so that the text would run all the way to the edge.

Book page garland

4. Punched a couple holes near the top of each pennant.

Then I just threaded some bakers’ twine through the holes and added the tassels.

Book page garland - tassel

Tassels

In keeping with the graduation theme, I made paper tassels for each end of the garland, loosely based on instructions I found on A Subtle Revelry.

Here’s how I adapted the project:

  1. Cut about 4 thin strips of paper. (These don’t need to be the same width – or even cut straight.)
  2. Folded over 3 of the strips, leaving a loop at the top. I made mine with a smaller loop and longer “tails” than the ones in the tassel tutorial, because I wanted the proportions more like the tassel on a graduation cap.
  3. Fanned out the strips just a bit.
  4. Stapled them in place.
  5. Covered the staple by winding that last paper strip around the tassel and securing it with double stick tape.
  6. Added a tassel to each side of the garland by threading the baker’s twine through the top loop.

Book page craft

What Didn’t Work…

Watercolor

I thought about adding some color with watercolors. However, my test pages totally curled up, even when I used the smallest amount of water possible or painted just part of the page.

Book page garland

The Pages

Another thing that could’ve been cool was using a book or notes from Phillip’s classes. But he didn’t have anything like that around – at least nothing that he was willing to sacrifice to the craft gods.

So I went with the conspiracy book, because I liked the page size.

I tried to make sure there wasn’t any murder on the pages I used, but it was hard to avoid. And there were still black helicopters and government officials typing things out on Blackberries – not very festive or on theme.

Book page garland at grad party

I hoped people would see it as decor and not try to read it.

No such luck.

One family member said they had been trying to figure out if the pages had some significance or clues. (Nope.) Another one asked me what the garland spelled. (Nothing.) It took me awhile to convince her that what she thought were large letters were actually backwards chapter numbers showing through some of the backlit pages.

I obviously should have come up with more for people to do.

image

What Worked (Mostly): The Decoration Bag

I loaded up a large ziploc bag with everything I (or whoever) would need to set up the decorations at the restaurant:

  • Chalkboard sign with “Phillip’s grad party!” already written on it – with chalk markers, so it wouldn’t smear.
  • A jar for markers and pens that had a chalkboard label on the front. I wrote “Please sign the program” on it with a little arrow pointing down.
  • Chalk markers in case one of my signs needed a touch-up.
  • Regular markers and pens, so people could sign the commencement ceremony program like a yearbook. These were just regular kids’ markers you’d find in the back-to-school aisle.
  • A wooden ruler to hold the program open. (Also because it was cute and school-y.)
  • The garland, carefully folded and placed between things so it wouldn’t get crunched up.
  • Washi tape to hang the garland.
  • Scissors.
  • This Yoobi kit in case we required a tiny stapler or scotch tape for some reason.

I had hoped to hand the bag off to my parents, who were designated to get the party started, since I guessed (correcty) that Phillip and I wouldn’t be able to leave the place where the ceremony was and get over there right away. But they were so focused on their mission that they left before I could give them the Decoration Bag.

So I set things up halfway through the party. Less than ideal, but that’s life.

At least having everything in one bag meant I could get it done in record time. And at least the guests didn’t have to wait on the food.
Grad party garland

 

– More info on DIY party decor –

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Spotted at the Arboretum

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Travel | 8 comments

image

Boyce thompson arboretum
Boyce thompson arboretum - cardinal

Today at the Arboretum we saw

4 cardinals

1 woodpecker

a couple hummingbirds

several nests

a really neat feather

a possible owl pellet that Phillip poked at with a stick

some beautiful black butterflies

2 very determined ants and 1 that could care less

2 trees full of bees

a handful of squirrels

a turtle

a snake

and 75 lizards (before we stopped counting).

Boyce thompson arboretum - Snake

I also spotted a fuzzy tail of an animal going into a thicket. I jumped out of the car while it was still running to see what it was. All I found was a fat, lumbering squirrel.

Boyce thompson arboretum

Also, if you go on a hot, humid Tuesday, you’ll practically have the place to yourself. With the exception of those mentioned above, of course.

Boyce thompson arboretum




 
P.S. For those of you interested in chronology, by “today,” I mean last Tuesday, when I wrote down what we’d seen earlier that day.
 

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Love Unlocked

Posted by on Jul 22, 2017 in Travel | 1 comment

Pont de l'Archevêché Love Locks by JD. CCL

Over the past several years, the phenomenon of love locks (or “love padlocks”) has spread to 5 continents.

To symbolize their love, couples place a lock – often with their names written or engraved on it – on a bridge or fence or sculpture and throw away the key.

Love Locks by Philip Robins. CCL

Locks Are Cheap

It’s an activity most popular with tourists, who often believe they’re participating in a harmless local custom. Perhaps they feel that snapping the lock shut binds them to the city, as well as their partner. Like carving initials into a tree, it’s a way people leave their mark on a place they love, unaware they’re damaging it in the process.

Part of the ritual’s appeal is its immediacy. It’s easy enough to get a lock and clasp it to a bridge, and then you have this very tangible expression of an intangible emotion, something solid and (seemingly) permanent. Something you can take a photo of before you have to catch your flight home.

There’s a communal aspect to both the act and the sharing of it, as if you’ve participated in some community art project that also happens to make a colorful photo backdrop. (See also: the gum wall at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.)

The fact that the practice spread so quickly just as social media was taking off is probably not a coincidence. Online networks have helped all kinds of ideas to spread, especially ones that come with a compelling visual.

Wedding locks

If You Like It, Then You Shouldn’t Put a Lock on It

Locals, on the other hand, tend to see the locks as vandalism, ruining the views of their city.

Whatever your opinion on the aesthetics of a padlock-covered bridge, the locks can damage structures. A single padlock would be no big deal, but some European bridges have been covered in hundreds of thousands of them, adding on several tons of weight.

Cities have reacted in a variety of ways – banning locks, removing them, creating alternate places for locks. In some cases, when the bridge is less historic and/or the locks less damaging, they decide to shrug it off.

While companies that sell love locks perpetuate the myth that the tradition is rooted in the distant past (perhaps ancient China or Serbia during World War I), the current craze began just over a decade ago.

In fact, it can be traced back to a single paragraph in an Italian novel.

Ponte Milvio

Ponte Milvio: An Origin Story

Putting the Rome back in Romance Novel

Author Federico Moccia’s 2006 best-seller (and later film), Ho Voglia Di Te (I Want You) includes a protagonist telling his love interest that locking a chain around a lamppost on the Ponte Milvio in Rome and throwing the key into the Tiber River below means you’ll always stay together.

Sometimes I feel...

According to an interview in the New York Times, the author “just dreamed up the ritual” and “was stunned” when locks actually began appearing on the ancient Roman bridge.

The new custom quickly spiraled out of control. Within a year, so many locks and chains had accumulated around one lamppost that it partially collapsed under the weight.

Ponte Milvio

Get Your Locks Off My Lawn

If Ponte Milvio could speak, it would probably say “I’m getting too old for this shit.” It’s been around since the days of the Roman Empire. Constantine became an emperor by defeating a rival on that bridge. Nero used to hang out there and get wasted. By the time the Colosseum was built, it had already been there for 200 years.

The Roman Empire fell, but Ponte Milvio has remained. People have been crossing it for over two millennia and still walk over it every day. It does not need the extra pressure of thousands of rusty locks chained to it.

City officials worried about more permanent damage and instituted a €50 fine for locks on the bridge or its lamps, encouraging couples to instead use the posts and chains installed as an alternative.

all those locks

A recent Spanish edition of Moccia’s novel features the bridge and love locks on its cover.

Although Rome was the setting of the novel, the love lock trend didn’t stay confined to the Eternal City for long.

Lovelocks on the Pont des Arts

 

Paris: Art from the Bridge

Perhaps the most well-known love lock locale is Pont des Artes, Paris – at least it was.

After more than one instance of locks causing part of the bridge’s railing to buckle, the city began removing all the locks in 2015, replacing chain link with plexiglass panels to prevent locks and preserve the view.

Instead of simply disposing of the locks, they turned them into art and auctioned them off to raise money for organizations helping refugees (Solipam, the Salvation Army and Emmaüs Solidarité). The lots included 150 pieces made from a few locks each on a base of wood, plexiglass, or recycled paving stones. They’re actually quite elegant.    
 
via Crédit Municipal de Paris
 
15 large lock-covered sections from the bridge’s fencing that ranged in size from 1.05 to 3.23 meters (3.4–10.5 feet) wide and weighed 240 to 660kg (529–1455 lbs) were also up for auction. They were mounted on casters, so they could be moved more easily.
 
In the end, a total of 10 tons of locks were sold, raising a total of €250,000 and far exceeding fundraising goals for the auction.
 
François Grunberg / Mairie de Paris via Paris.fr

Make Love, Not Locks

There were over 700,000 locks on the Pont des Artes before they were removed. That’s 700,000 people who thought it would be a good idea to get a lock and leave it on a Paris bridge. Assuming each lock represents a couple, it would actually be more like 1.4 million people.

Pont de l'Archevêché, Paris

Of course, there are many more people who cross the bridge without leaving a lock. And other bridges over the Seine, including Pont de l’Archevêché, have been covered with locks, as well. It is a staggering analogy to the tourist traffic of certain cities, and the impact that number of people can have on a place.                 
 

 
An organization called No Love Locks has started in Paris to educate the public, stop the practice, and look for alternatives.

Stop aux Cadenas ~ Love Without Locks

Paris also launched a campaign encouraging couples to post a selfie tagged #lovewithoutlocks instead of leaving a lock. Signs were posted on bridges that said “Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love. No more love locks!” Photos were being posted on lovewithoutlocks.paris.fr, but the page hasn’t been updated recently.

The Paris Convention and Visitors’ Bureau lists romantic ways to enjoy the city – unsurprisingly, it doesn’t mention love locks.

Toronto Distillery love locks by Ken Lane

Toronto: There’s a Place for Locks

The removal of the locks at Pont des Artes in Paris inspired developer Mathew Rosenblatt to create a permanent place for couples to put love locks in Toronto’s Distillery District. The metal sculpture spells out “LOVE” and is made for attaching padlocks.

Love Locks in Toronto's Distillery District

Of course, a solution like this works well for a Toronto side street but wouldn’t have the capacity for a heavily-touristed Paris thoroughfare. On a much larger scale, though, maybe a structure like this could work in those high traffic areas too.

Love locks, Venice

Venice Makes the Cut

Love locks have also covered several historic bridges in Venice – 20,000 have been counted on the Ponte dell’Accademia alone.

As on many other bridges, they are periodically removed by the city, so you’re really not locking up your love forever.

Removed locks by @dawn_hawk

During a recent visit to Venice, community organizer Dawn Hawk took matters into her own hands, buying bolt cutters and clearing the locks from 30 bridges. A gondolier blew kisses in gratitude.

[UPDATE: Dawn wanted me to let you know it was actually her husband Mark that bought the bolt cutters and removed the locks – 400 of them! She interacted with onlookers, checked in with locals, and researched metal recycling options.]

Baci in Venice by @dawn_hawk

The site In-Venice specifically lists love locks in their top 10 list of things not to do in the city.

 

Padlocks

 

Hohenzollern Bridge

I Fought the Locks and the Locks Won

Cologne Tourism, on the other hand, encourages you to see the love locks on the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine River.

As of October 2013, there were over 155,000 love locks on the bridge, weighing an estimated 15 to 20 tons. German Rail engineers studied the bridge and determined the weight was not causing a problem. It will continue to be monitored and policies may change if the strain becomes too great.

Lovelocks

Tony Kerzmann of Robert Morris University noted that today’s bridges are “highly over-designed” as a precautionary measure. “They have what is called a factor of safety as high as seven in some cases, meaning an engineer determined the maximum weight that the bridge would possibly see and then designed the bridge to hold seven times that weight. Even if the bridge were covered with locks, the extra few thousand pounds should have no effect on the structural integrity of the bridge.”

Love Locks Penang Hill Top George Town

Pulau Penang Promenade

Penang Hill in Malaysia created a place specifically for love locks. The resort town on the island of Penang encourages couples to decorate and add locks to their “lovers’ promenade,” which they call “Malaysia’s contribution to the world’s legacy of love.” Located on the Bukit Bendera observation deck, Love Lock Penang Hill opened on Valentine’s Day 2014.

Huangshan, China (YELLOW MOUNTAIN/LANDSCAPE)

China

Red (Ribbon) Wedding

I had a lot of trouble finding information on love locks in China. I was particularly interested in verifying the lore about the tradition originating somewhere in the country long before it appeared in a romance novel.

The closest I got was one account of a wedding tradition in Yangmei Zhan, which is in the south near Nanning. A bride and groom tie red ribbons and a padlock to an old tree, tossing the key into a river or other body of water. How long this has been going on and whether it’s likely to be the root of the current love lock phenomenon is unclear.

Lovelocks

The Great Locks of China

There are plenty of photos of love locks on the Great Wall and on guard fencing in the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan). However, I couldn’t find any real information on when people started attaching them there or what reactions have been. The locks don’t look any older than the ones in Paris or Rome. And perhaps they are spread out enough that the weight isn’t a problem and isolated enough that locals don’t complain.

do not throw your key away

In cities, however, it’s a different story. When a handful of locks appeared on bridges in Shanghai and Lanzhou, they were quickly removed by authorities.

 

Moscow locks on bridge

Moscow: Locks and Kisses

A wedding tradition in Russia is that the newlyweds should kiss on a bridge.

Wedding Lock Tree 1

To keep these kissing couples out of traffic, Moscow constructed a pedestrian bridge. On this Bridge of Kisses are several iron tree sculptures that couples can attach locks to instead of the bridge’s railings.

A post shared by keripeacock (@keripeacock) on

United States

L.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

You can find love locks from coast to coast, from New York City (on the Brooklyn Bridge) to Los Angeles (at Runyon Canyon and Sunnynook River Park).

Sunset

A year after its installation, locks had already started appearing on the Bridge of Sighs in Natchez, Mississippi. City officials decided to take a proactive stance, cutting the locks off the bridge before there was time for many to accumulate.

There's One in Every Crowd

There are several bridges in the Pittsburgh area with love locks, including the Schenley Bridge and Three Sisters bridges. Officials there, however, periodically monitor the stress on the structures and have determined the added weight is not a problem. They remove locks to perform maintenance, but otherwise leave them be.

Locking Their Love

At Tlaquepaque in Sedona, Arizona, there are love locks for sale and a metal trellis where you can attach them.

 

Lock Your Love in Lovelock, Lovers Lock Plaza, Lovelock, Nevada

There’s actually a town called Lovelock outside of Reno, Nevada. While the name comes from Welsh-born settler George Lovelock, the town has embraced the tradition with a plaza devoted to love locks and an “endless chain” where you can lock a symbol of your love.

 

090998

 

– More info –


 

Photo credits:

1. JD*
2. Philip Robins*
3. Elaine Ashton*

Ponte Milvio (Rome) –
4. kiki99*
5. Stefano Corso*
6. Giorgio Rodano*
7. Kyle Van Horn*

Paris –
8. Martin Pilát*
9. Heather Stimmler (@secretsofparis)**
10. Crédit Municipal de Paris
11. François Grunberg / Mairie de Paris via Paris.fr

12. Sacha Quester-Séméon (@sachaqs)**
13. twiga269 ॐ FEMEN*

Toronto –
14. Ken Lane*
15. Michael Lawrence*

Venice –
16. Chris Beckett*
17. + 18. Dawn Hawk

Hohenzollern Bridge (Cologne) –
19. Dave Collier*
20. Jörg Weingrill*

Pulau Penang –
21. Harry and Rowena Kennedy*

China –
22. Chi King*
23. Mike*
24. James Creegan*

Moscow –
25. Olga Pavlovsky*
26. Em and Ernie*

United States –
27. Keri Peacock (@keripeacock)**
28. Debs*
29. Cam Miller*
30. Kevin Spencer*
31. Ken Lund*

More –
32. Ghita Katz Olsen*

 

*Via Flickr. CCL.
**Via Instagram.

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June 2017 Photo: Reading Room Light

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Travel | 6 comments

I didn’t post a lot of photos in June, but I did post one from the summer solstice celebration at Burton Barr Library (the same day as my solar cookie baking experiment).

The reading room is designed with columns under sky lights. Once a year, at solar noon on the summer solstice, the reading room sky lights line up perfectly to illuminate the columns below them.

Sostice at the library

Unfortunately, this past weekend a monsoon storm caused a fire sprinkler to burst, flooding all five floors of this beautiful library. Most of its collections remain intact and clean-up crews sprang into action right away. The City of Phoenix is hoping it will be able to start reopening parts of the library soon.




Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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The Cracks in the Liberty Bell

Posted by on Jul 4, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

The Liberty Bell is cracked.

Whether it’s broken, I suppose, depends on your point of view.

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia

No one knows when the fissure first started to form.

We know there was an attempt to fix it by making the crack wider in 1846. But this ultimately caused another crack, making the Bell unringable and irreparable.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

It remains on display at the Liberty Bell Center across from Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

While silent, it continues to reverberate as a symbol of a more free and just society.

Whether it’s broken depends on your point of view.




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Solstice Cookies and Solar Cooking

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Craft | 2 comments

Solstice cookies

The forecast high in Phoenix for the longest day of the year was 120F (49C).

So it seemed like a great day to try baking outside.

Burton Barr Library

On the way home from the summer solstice celebration at Burton Barr Library last Tuesday, we picked up chocolate chip cookie dough. I chose that for my solar cooking experiment, because there’s no raw egg in it, and if it doesn’t cook all the way, you end up with doughy cookies – not a bad thing, in my opinion!

I scooped spoonfuls of cookie dough into a reflective aluminum roasting pan, covered the top with plastic wrap, sealed the sides with packing tape to trap the heat, and added a meat thermometer, so I could see how hot it actually got next to the cookies.

Solar baked cookies

I had intended to get an earlier start, but at 3:45pm, it was still 120 degrees out. So I decided to give it a go and set the pan in direct sun on our concrete patio.

The temperature inside the pan got as high as 160. The cookies began to look like they were melting, with the oil separating from the dough.

Baking cookies outside

Four hours later, the sun was low enough in the sky that the whole patio was in the shade. The dough had flattened out into cookie shapes that were somewhat solid but still pretty soft.

Solar baking

So we scooped vanilla frozen yogurt on top (à la pizookie), and it was delicious!

Apparently, a proper solar oven will bake faster, even if it’s not as hot out. But I would try my improvised “oven” again on a day when I could get an earlier start and give it a little more time in the sun.

Phoenix

– More info –

  • The package actually said not to eat the cookie dough raw. That didn’t stop me. But I thought you should know.
  • Many of the solar ovens I saw online have glass on top. If you decide to use plastic wrap like I did (because I didn’t have any glass panes just sitting around), try to get good cling wrap. I used the Target brand, and it was really annoying trying to get it tight across the top. (In the end, it was a wrinkly mess.)

Articles to check out…

Cookie dough

 




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