Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Blanket Fort a Month: January

It was remembered for a week, put off, and then almost completely forgotten, but just in time for the last few days of the month, it was conveniently remembered again. Without further ado, I present to you, January's blanket fort!

Since December, it got too cold to keep my bed half in the closet, so we took it out and put it in the middle of the room instead. Such changes seemed to make it harder to build another blanket fort over the bed. After three failed attempts and one shattered light bulb that I'm still unsure if I found all of the shards of, we were finally able to build a successful blanket fort worth our work.

We've been planning our summer-slash-warm-weather-season inside. Even with the blanket of snow blowing around in the bitter wind outside, it feels like June in the fort. On January 28th, we can start reserving campsites for this year online, and we're desperately excited about that. We didn't go camping once in 2013--that means Silkworm's never been camping with me ever! We must make up for that this season. We're currently writing a Happy Camper's To-Do List, and the more things we think of, the less patience I've got left. Then again, I'm not sure I started with much in the first place.

We also had a bit of a Square Off tournament, in which the goal is to slide the pieces to make a path from point A to point B (a random set of coordinates). I can't think of the iPod apps I've played that are like this, but there's at least two or three. The thing that makes Square Off more intense, though, is the competition. Most of the time, I just accidentally end up arranging a path, but perhaps my subconscious is doing the job for me without letting me in on its secrets. Nonetheless, it must be a healthy brain exerciser.

Tonight, we plan to draw. We're just in that kind of mood. I'd really like, someday, to make a coloring book of my and Silkworm's adventures, and that just may be the project we start working on tonight.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Uncensored Passion

Most of the time, I have no trouble labeling myself as a photographer, but it seems the hesitance tends to seep in when other photographers stand nearby with bulky gear and enormous telephoto lenses, muttering technical terms or using white balance cards. It seeps in to laugh at me while I'm on Flickr looking through other photographers' portfolios, or when I'm about to enter a photography contest and I change my mind after browsing through the entries gallery. A few times, it's gotten to me so much that I'd actually tried to change my style or binge-learn new techniques. Then I'd get frustrated with myself, and I'd put down my camera for a while. I'd only pick it back up when I had enough time to sort through my own photos, without the opportunity to compare my work to the work of anyone else, and gain some self confidence back.

Comparison defeats the purpose of passion. Your passion is uniquely yours, and nobody feels it the same way as you. Be proud of your pace instead of trying to catch up with everybody else, or you'll destroy something special. Not knowing every little detail about your favorite thing in the world doesn't make your passion any less valid. There's always going to be somebody out there who knows more than you do, and there's also always somebody who knows less--but who cares anyway? Don't feel threatened. If you've got nothing knowledgeable to say, tell people how fast your heart beats when you're doing that thing it is that you love, and talk for about it for hours. Let your eyes light up, let them see how much emotion you use to fuel your passion. They might even be jealous, because maybe they don't have as strong a passion as you do.

Call yourself what you are--an artist, a scientist, a photographer. You don't need anything but passion to earn that title.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

13 Ways to Make Life More Interesting

If you suffer from serious cases of boredom, creative blocks, or lack of motivation on a regular basis, I'd like to assure you life is not boring. I sincerely promise! If it seems that way, something's gone wrong, and you're in desperate need of some salt and pepper to bring out the flavor--and the colors of the sky, and the metaphors in the weather, and the sounds in the wind. So, down below, feel free to fill up your salt and pepper shakers with any or all of the thirteen things Silkworm and I do to make our lives more interesting!

1. Name inanimate objects.
Be as quirky or as conventional as you want. My camera's name is Rain Beau, my guitar is called Humphrey, my laptop is Penelope (it even says it in the network folder where it's listed with our other computers)...I don't know, I guess it makes them seem alive.

2. Have a motto.
Pick a quote that feels like it was written for you exclusively (or write your own) and let it define everything you do. You don't have to stick to it all the time, but it's nice to have some kind of motivation to encourage you to be who you want to be and do things you'll be proud to say you did. Silkworm and I use a quote written by Charles Bukowski: "We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."

3. Keep in touch with Little You.
Little You is the person who didn't look in the mirror every morning, and proceeded to prance around with messy hair and spaghetti sauce stains. Little You delighted in the silliest things like quarter candy machines and territorial squirrels at the bird feeder. Little You was flippin' adorable. Why in the world would you let go of that?

4. Be spontaneous.
There's nothing wrong with planning and writing a dozen to-do lists a day, but in the midst of your scheduled life, don't be afraid to do something that isn't penciled in--and do it now. Some sudden whims are simply to be acted on immediately. Sometimes all I do is pencil things in for later, and then my priorities bump them further and further down my list of things to do until they disappear into the oblivion that is the depths of my never-ending caboodle of thoughts and ideas. Then there are days when I decide I feel like having a campfire in the backyard, and within an hour, I'm roasting fruit kabobs on open flames. Those are the days that make me feel so good about myself.

5. Find a passion and swim in it.
If you think life is boring, you need to find something interesting about it. Think about what makes your head spin or your heart melt. It doesn't even have to be something typical. Maybe you like investigating and figuring things out, so you can do a personal science experiment everyday; or maybe you like bugs, so you can follow house flies around and peek at every ant hill. A passion also gives you an identity. When you're introducing yourself to people, one of the first things that will slip out of your mouth with your name is "photographer" or "magician" or "baker". It's the thing that makes you feel the deepest feelings anything in life can make you feel. Ideally, you'd want to create a career out of your passion, but as long as it's there, that's ten points to you.

6. Collect something.
It's as if you're on a never-ending scavenger hunt when you're a collector. You get to be perpetually on the lookout for more of whatever it is you hoard, and when you find something, adding it to your collection gives you a little burst of accomplishment feels.

7. Be silly.
Stop wondering who will be judging you when you're skipping through a field of frolic-worthy wildflowers. You're having more fun than those people, anyway. If they're laughing, it's only because people aren't used to other people doing such silly things to have fun. Show them it's okay.

8. Arrange special days and write them on the calendar.
Having something to look forward to is one of the best motivators. It doesn't even have to be something fancy; even a picnic, or a camping trip, or a visit to the zoo will do. On the days leading up to your special day, let the excitement build inside you, and when things go wrong or you've got reason to be upset, you'll have a comforting promise of fun in your future.

9. Dedicate yourself to being an Enchantemissary.
Enchantemissaries are essentially my and Silkworm's idea of people who spread Random Acts of Kindness, but those Acts of Kindness are called Missions of Magic to an Enchantemissary. It is an Enchantemissary's mission to be magically kind, surprising strangers with their generosity and creativity. Doing nice things for strangers is famously rewarding, and it gives you a sense of purpose and makes you feel like you're doing something to better other people. For a bunch of ideas for Missions of Magic, click here!

10. Have a mind open so wide, any thought can hop in.
Strive not to judge people and situations, and whenever you accidentally slip up, correct yourself. Think positive, always, even when you think you can't. Accept constructive criticism. Consider taking blame for things you're not so sure were your fault. Try so hard to look for the good in people. There is so much to recognize, and you don't want your head to be filtering them out with stereotypes and biases and defensiveness.

11. Play with your food.
Eat your breakfast on a skewer, create a scene with your lunch, eat your dinner with your hands tied behind your back. Catch grapes in your mouth, write love notes on bananas, use cookie cutters for more than just cookies. Make silly foods; make foods that make you smile; make foods that make you want to take a picture of them before they disappear into your tummy. Whoever told you not to play with your food knows diddly squat about fun and thinks manners are more important.

12. Ask questions.
Wonder why. If you don't know something about the snowflakes piling up outside or the foam leaking out of your pine trees, research it, no matter how useless having knowledge on the subject may seem. Do a few science experiments when you're looking to find answers and nobody's got them for you. Not only will you find out all kinds of cool stuff about the universe, but you'll be an encyclopedia of cool facts in no time, and that makes you pretty interesting.

13. Document it all.
Having a journal is all kinds of healthy, but to me, the best benefit is the comfort of having something there to remind you that your past self's feelings and experiences were just as real as your feelings and experiences now. Even better, sometimes, when you look back at your own past, it doesn't even feel like it's yours; rather, it feels like a fairytale you forgot was yours to tell. You might read back your past self's musings and think, "Wow, I actually was pretty awesome; I totally forgot about that." On the other hand, you may look back to realize you've done things you never imagined you'd ever be able to do. Silkworm and I have just started to keep a journal this year, and I can't imagine what that will be like to read years from now.

Mind you, Silkworm and I still get bored and feel boring sometimes, so don't be upset if the same happens to you. When we stumble into those kinds of funks, we like to ban ourselves from temporary cures that nourish boredom like sitting at the computer or in front of the TV, and then we take a walk outside or do things with our hands. It's hard when the boredom isn't keen on clearing up ASAP, but try not to get frustrated with yourself. Let it simmer for a while; inspiration is always on the way! And if you'd like, Silkworm and I are always here to talk to, and we'd be happy to find a cure for your unique case of boredom!

January 15th's Full Moon

Last month on December 17th, I documented the strange happenings of the full moon in relevance to Silkworm's magic. Seeing as January's full moon rose late last night, I'm back to tell another bizarre story.

Last night's weirdness actually began while Silkworm was still conscious and completely in command of his own thoughts and actions, which is unlike his powers and surprising in the least. We were both drawing when all of a sudden, his pencil up and shattered. We both knew immediately it was the effects of the full moon, and we simultaneously looked up and stared at each other wide-eyed and shaken. Before we had a chance to speak, his consciousness started to wane just like the expiring moon, which quickly took over full control. I was begging this enchantment to be a short one like the last.

It was not anything he walked on or rolled around on or danced on. It was only anything he intentionally touched that would poof to pieces. Initially, while I observed carefully and thought of a plan, he only took to destroying crumbs and tiny specks on the floor (and I was thankful I had forgot to sweep the day before). But then, at the sight of my laptop, he inevitably headed for something more satisfactory--and without a second to spare, I came up with an idea.

Lightning fast, for the sake of Penelope's (my laptop) life, I took a piece of paper from the stash on my night table, crumpled it into a mediocre ball, and tossed it at Silkworm, bopping his head like the bull's-eye I'd aimed for. Disoriented, he turned to face me, the source of his annoyance, and as much as I feared he was about to shatter me to bits if I continued, I was confident enough to do so...and it was my only plan. I made another ball as he watched me closely, and since I already had his attention, I just tossed it past him instead of hitting with it. Just as I had hoped, he chased after it and pounced, shattering the paper ball to pieces, and then dust that swiftly evaporated. And this is how the night went, playing some version of fetch with a magical stuffed bear who annihilated every ball I threw to him. At 4:30 AM, he suddenly snoozed on the floor, and I laid down to get some sleep, too.

Logically, this full moon ended up being more beneficial than perilous. I mean, I got a halfway clean floor out of it. Silkworm certainly enjoyed the story of him as the villain with the most dangerous power we've seen the full moon give him so far, and he was rather impressed with my improvisation. I'm just grateful we won't have to face another full moon until Valentine's Day.

Read about how full moons affect Silkworm here, and read more full moon stories here!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Slime Flux

Yesterday, our doggies didn't want to go outside in the rain to do their business and what not, and the only way I could change their minds was to accompany them, so Silkworm and I went out in the yard and walked around with them. I tossed Kylie's Frisbee and kicked Woody's toy around for a while, and then a spot on our climbing tree caught my eye.

'Twas foaming at the mouth! "Rabies!" I cried. (It looked a lot worse yesterday.) We went to inspect it, and sure enough, dozens of foam spots dappled the tree. When we looked around at the other five trees, unto our surprise, they had a few spots, as well. Initially, I figured it must have been caused by the rain--that the sap turned to foam in the rain and I'd never noticed the phenomenon before--but upon further research on the handy dandy Internet after returning indoors, we were enlightened to the fate of our trees. It's slime flux!

Slime flux is quite an icky disease in trees where in the victim tree succumbs to a bacterial attack and ends up smelling like fermenting gook and oozing all kinds of frothy sap. Supposedly, it can be caused by any kind of stress, so to be absolutely sure of our diagnosis, we thought back to what might have been considered stress in the past few days or weeks--and then, ding ding, we have a winner! A few days ago, after a blizzard dumped a foot of snow on the ground, the temperature suddenly spiked to 55 degrees and all of the snow melted overnight. That can't be healthy, we thought. What's more, the worst infected tree happens to be our climbing tree, the one my dad drilled pieces of wood into for steps. It also looks to have suffered lightning damage once upon a time, as it's missing its top. The slime flux theory was building plausibility. We're almost positive that's what it is, though we're no tree experts.

As much as I think I should be making soup for the sickly trees, I must say, "Our trees have slime flux" is a pretty silly phrase and I can't help smiling when I say it. Slime flux. Is that not the coolest disease you've ever heard of? Unfortunately, my Internet resources tell me there is no known cure. Our trees are simply destined to a fate of living with chronic slime flux. The only way to ameliorate it is to lessen the stress on the trees, but not to remove anything nailed into the tree because that only causes more stress, so therefore it seems Silkworm and I may never sit in our climbing tree's limbs again, and the steps will be there taunting us. Sob, wail, cry! I will miss sitting up in that tree.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Tragic Case of Wanderlust

Silkworm and I went sailing in our walnut boat, today. I needed it. We talked about driving and dreamed of all the adventures we're going to have as our life-sized selves once I get my driving license. I can't explain how I'm feeling about it. Impatience and anxiety do not mix well.

Premonition Bingo

If you've ever heard of Store Bingo, you've heard of a specific kind of Premonition Bingo, but you don't have to limit yourself to stores. Silkworm and I have even played without leaving the house. Basically, Premonition Bingo is a game of predictions and watching them come true, but naturally, I'll go into detail.

Premonition Bingo can be played with two or more people, or it can be played alone. You start by deciding on what context you'll be playing in, such as in a store, at a park, on a car ride, or even throughout the course of a normal day in your own home. Next, think of things that usually or could possibly be seen, experienced, or witnessed while you're in your chosen context. For example, if you're going to play while you're at the supermarket, you could think of situations like hearing the name "Jessica" on the loudspeaker and sights like someone with a baby sleeping in their cart. It's akin to a scavenger hunt, except it's more of waiting for things to happen rather than finding things. All players may think of completely different predictions or may share the same.

Once you've brainstormed, draw a bingo board on a piece of paper or a napkin (a 5-by-5 table of 25 squares in total). If you'd like to, you can mark the box in the center as a free space as a helpful freebie. Then, fill in every square with a prediction you've made.

To play, arrive in your chosen context and wait for your predictions to come true. As they do, cross them off. Once you've crossed off a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row of five, shout out "Bingo!" as loudly and proudly as you can, no matter where you are or who's listening. You've won Premonition Bingo, for Pete's sake; they should be applauding!

After your success, you could also continue to see if you can cross off the whole board. If you ever do cross off the whole board, you might want to look into the slight chance of you being a seer.

Let us know if and how you play! Have fun!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How to Take Advantage of Winter's Early Darkness

Winter gives the sun early curfews and tucks it in to read it a bedtime story before the humans are satisfied with their daily doings. Sometimes the darkness makes the days seem too short to do anything productive, but just because it's dark doesn't mean the day is over. There's so much you can do when it's dark out, too.

1. Have a movie night at 5:00.
Now you don't have to wait for 9:00 PM to be able to see the TV without closing the curtains to snuff out any glares. Maybe you'll be more inclined to make yourself a bowl of popcorn, since you're not so tired already.

2. Have a glow stick party.
These days, glow sticks are no longer made simply for wearing like stylish flashlights. There are so many games you can play, and winter is great because the dark comes early so you can play early!

3. Bundle up and sit outside to look at the stars.
Winter happens to be prime time for clear skies, so the stars tend to be more visible than usual. If you've got a zero degree sleeping bag, you could squish yourself into that and lay on your back on a lounge chair or just on the ground. If there's snow, you could lay out a tarp to keep from getting wet--or, just bundle up in snow pants and a waterproof coat and make a snow angel while you're staring up at the sky!

4. Catch every sunset.
Since the sun sets so early in winter, it's exponentially easier to watch it from start to finish. Winter sunsets also tend to be more vividly colorful than other sunsets, mostly because the skies are much clearer allowing for more light waves to stick around.

5. Make shadow hand puppets.
I don't know if you're aware how many animal silhouettes two hands can make. Rabbits, wolves, eagles, goats, alligators, spiders, ducks, bears, frogs, turtles... Need I continue? You could even act out a story with shadow puppets--and I must say, eating somebody else's bunny shadow with your alligator shadow is quite laughable.

6. Have a dinner at candlelight.
Question why you don't do this every night.

7. Make a faux campfire indoors and tell scary stories.
Better yet, have a fire outdoors in the cold! Use a flashlight for the flame and put crumpled newspaper around it to make it look glowy.

8. Let your mind wander.
I don't know what it is about darkness, but I know I'm always more inspired and thoughtful in the dark. Every night, I have trouble falling asleep because my mind is spinning with inspiration and can't wait for tomorrow to put it to use. Keep a notepad with you at all times to jot down any useful thoughts the dark ignites in you. Plan warm weather activities to look forward to in spring and summer.

9. Play some bone-chilling video games.
Apartment Therapy has a list of great ideas. I'd also suggest Silent Hill, which I recall to be the most psychologically traumatizing game I've ever watched my brother play.

10. Read.
If you're the adventurous type like Silkworm and me and you find it hard to sit still reading even though you love books because you'd rather be writing your own story, winter may be your best opportunity. When it gets too dark and too cold outside for adventures, settle down to quench your wanderlust with somebody else's stories. Curl up in a ball of blankets inside a blanket fort with string lights hung inside for atmosphere.

I know it's hard to believe, but soon winter will bid farewell and we'll get our hours of daytime back. If you're not a fan of winter, keep it's expiration date in mind, and make the best of the darkness while you can.

Is there anything else you like to do in the dark of winter?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Recycled Egg Carton Flower Crown

Silkworm and I have been experiencing symptoms of flower withdrawal. What with it being the chilly flower-forbidding season of winter, we are no longer surrounded with colorful plants to pick at will and chain together to make crowns. But, we did have egg cartons at our disposable, and thus an unconventional alternative was formulated.

2+ egg cartons
Cardboard (at least one dimension of 16 inches long)

Step One: Cut out 12 flowers from each egg carton, making 24 in total. To do this, cut along the dotted edges in the photo below as closely corresponding to the type of egg carton you're using. Then shape them however you'd like.

Step Two: Paint each flower. Keep in mind that you'll be stacking them to make layered flowers in the next step, so perhaps paint sets of two or three flowers in fading shades of a color. Also, if you'd like some to look like leaves, paint them green. Wait for them to dry before moving on.

Step Three: Stack your flowers. Glue one flower in another, and glue another into the pair you just made, if you'd like. Let them dry while continuing to Step Four.

Step Four: Cut one strip of 2-inch-wide cardboard big enough to wrap in around your head, plus a few inches for the Velcro in Step Six.

Step Five (optional): Paint the strip of cardboard green if you want to hide the cardboard color, otherwise it may show through the flowers in the end, which is perfectly fine. Let it dry completely before moving on.

Step Six: Attach a strip of the soft half of Velcro to what you'll call the top of your cardboard strip, the side you'll also be gluing your flowers onto. On the opposite side, attach a strip of the scratchy half of Velcro. You can also use Velcro circles or squares for this, but strips make the crown adjustable. If your Velcro is not the sticky-backed kind, use glue (and possibly reinforce the sticky kind with glue as well).

Step Seven: Make your crown base by sticking the Velcro together. Then start gluing your flowers on as tightly squished together as you can get them for a more full look. Let dry.

Don your crown, Your Royal Majesty of egg carton flowers! Take pride in that no living flowers were harmed in the making of your circlet. Frolic in the fields of hibernating perennials and wait patiently for their return.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

An Ode to Frost

It crawls up the windows
And dapples the grass;
It festoons the bushes
With faux shattered glass,

But you'd only know
If you woke up on time--
Not long after dawn
Is the hour of prime--

For waking up late
Means missing the show,
Missing the sparkles
The glitter, the glow.

An Update on the Doro Worms

I realized we haven't said anything about the doro worms since making them a house back in late November, so I figured we should.

They're doing very well, though we never see them much, but every now and then we hear the chimes on the bottom of their house jingle for whatever reason, and we know they must be hard at work or having fun rough-housing or something. The King also pokes his head out once a week, usually on Wednesdays, to give us a spool of gold thread, which I suppose will forever be symbolic of his and his colony's eternal thanks. That stuff has been piling up in the closet, though, as we haven't decided how to put it to use yet. We made a few macrame bracelets with it woven into hemp string, but I don't think we need as many bracelets as we could make. Maybe we would sell them or give them away as gifts in snail mail.

The only strange thing is, the more we've been learning about Silkworm's magic, the more apparently odd the doro worms' existence in the human realm gets. As far as Silkworm and I know, magic exists, but in its own realm, and when in the human realm, magic has to hide from anyone who doesn't believe in it. So when it comes to our encounters with magical creatures, they always explain to us how they've been misplaced in the human realm by way of accident or malevolence, and they need our help to get back where they belong. Obviously, the doro worms are magical creatures, and yet they either belong here (maybe brought into existence by some other magical stuffed bear or something), or don't seem to know they don't.

Whatever the answer is, Silkworm and I are indifferent. We like having them around and hearing the chimes and getting spools of gold thread. If ever a time comes when they have to go, we'd be very sad to see them leave. They're like the company of the night light, and we do feel honored to provide shelter and warmth for them.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Couple of Snowmen

For a while, we sculpted a snowman in the front yard in peace. Since magic has the instinctive impulse to hide from non-believers, people hanging out in their front yards or lots of cars on the road would have been a nuisance, but luckily, given the early hour of the day, there was no one around for Silkworm to hide from but a few cars zipping by every now and then. Once, a car even passed by without giving Silkworm a warning buzz in his tummy, and we smiled knowing the driver and/or passengers must believe in magic. They might have even spotted Silkworm.

We finished Snowman #1 just as the traffic was beginning to pick up and Silkworm took to playing dead. I suppose we may never know how Silkworm's magic enchanted our snowman, since we positioned it in such a visible place that it may have to hide from people until it melts. We sort of planned for that, because maybe it's a good thing we don't find out we've created a man-eating snowman. You never know with Silkworm's magic.

Though I'd lost my sidekick to his instinctive possum act, I remembered we had originally intended to make a hand-standing snowman in the first place, so I perched Silkworm on top of Snowman #1 and got to work on a second snowman. I couldn't find anymore rocks for eyes, nor did I have another carrot to use for a nose, so he's faceless, but all I really needed were arms, and of those, we have plenty.

I think today may have been our last chance to make snowmen, so I'm glad we got to it! By tomorrow, I'll bet the snow will be iced over from the rain in tonight's forecast. Maybe we'll have to make an ice skating rink next!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Birthday Boys

"What's today?" I ask myself out loud.
I look to the calendar.
"Oh, the fourth."

Pause. Neurons are firing messages from the dusty corners of my brain to the front and center where they would have belonged much more conveniently last night. January fourth. The date is tragically familiar. Instantly, guilt pours into my bloodstream and knocks me to the metaphorical ground with shame and remorse and the sudden urge to crawl into a hole and freeze to death.

"It's Hadley and Quibble's birthday, Iforgottheirbirthday!"

Weeks of planning soiled, all because I forgot to keep up with the day of the week! But it's okay, because after hosting a mediocre scavenger hunt for pecans and then crying about being such a bad rattie mommy for a good fifteen minutes, I brought home the be-all end-all present of rattie presents.

'Tis a cat tree! 'Tis also the most expensive thing I have spent my own money on in a while, but it felt so good to spoil my fur-children. Even on their first introduction to their massive jungle gym, they were quick to start climbing, and as expected, they were acrobatic enough to climb most of it on their own. However, I shall be adding tunnels and ropes and ladders for ease as soon as possible, and probably a landing pad just in case they get too crazy and decide to jump from great heights. Many treat scavenger hunts will be held on the Tree in the future, and I think I'll have to decorate it for holidays with garlands and things. I'm sure the boys will like destroying it!

I was happy to see they even appreciated the dangly feather toys, swatting and nibbling at them when tickled. Some of the toys are missing, probably because we got the floor model (and got a really nice deal!), but I've got no problem attaching my own homemade toys where they are lacking.

Happy first birthday, Quibble and Hadley! You are the most spoiled rats in the land!

6 Things to Do with Glow Sticks

Never underestimate the possibilities of glow sticks. Ever since Pinterest, the world of glowing things has never been the same.

1. Play glow in the dark ring toss.
Gather a dozen or so glow necklaces or bracelets and a filled water bottle with a glow stick inside, and you've got yourself a pretty awesome ring toss game.

2. Light paint.
Light painting usually calls for a camera with adjustable shutter speeds (most likely DSLR; those "professional" chunky ones), but sometimes when it's dark enough, any camera will automatically adjust to a shutter speed low enough to capture some streaks and shapes, if you're fast enough. Aside from a camera, you'll also need a tripod or some other place to steadily position your camera, and let's not forget your glow sticks (or another tiny source of light). Position your camera, program the self-timer, and step in front of it while it's counting down to paint a picture with your glow sticks. You'll hear the shutter click twice--once for when it opens, and once for when it closes--and all the time in between is the time you'll use to write words or draw shapes in the air with your glow stick(s). For more information, head on over to

3. Have a glow-in-the-dark scavenger hunt.
Scavenger hunts are always fun, but adding the obstacle of darkness makes it even better. You can play indoors or outdoors, and you can either hunt simply for glow sticks, or you can get creative: wrap the glow sticks around objects, shallowly bury glow sticks in the snow, stuff them in Easter eggs...

4. Make glowing fairy jars.
As silly as it may seem, splattered glow juice looks so whimsical and ogle-worthy. If you don't already know, the fluids in glow sticks are toxic, so you should be very careful when toying with them to make these lovely jars.

5. Go glow bowling.
All it takes is ten water bottles weighted with water, glow sticks, and something like a soccer ball to use as the bowling ball. It's like having glow night at the bowling alley right at home!

6. Make glowing monster eyes.
Cut eye-shaped holes in toilet paper roles and stick a glow stick in, then hide them in the bushes or the trees to look like lurking monsters!

Of course, sometimes you just wanna swing your glow sticks around and dance, and that's totally cool, too. Silkworm and I have been on the look out for cheap glow sticks lately to have our own little party, so if you know of anywhere we can find them in stores or online, please let us know!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snow Birds

We woke up to 11 inches of snow, this morning, and I'm pretty sure since then it's piled up to at least a foot. Now it's calmed down and the sun's come out. The chickens and ducks are still snuggling in their coups for the most part, opposed to such bothersome weather, and even our old doggies are impartial to the idea of playing fetch in single digit temperatures. Our kitty Rainey has been the most adventurous, plunging into the depths of the snow bluffs in the outdoor cat enclosure chasing after the unwary sparrows that land nearby or inside. Meanwhile, my only complaint is that the snow is much too powdery to be making any snowmen or forts today! Hopefully the sun will warm it up enough by tomorrow, but until then, Silkworm and I have been enjoying sitting in the snow within several feet of the bird feeder watching the woodpecker feast on the suet and the little dark-eyed juncos forage for seeds sprinkled on the ground by the persnickety bluejays.

To anyone else snowed in today, we send warm wishes!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

3 of Our Favorite Card Games

A standard deck of 52 cards should belong in all purses, backpacks, bags, and emergency kits. When you're stuck with nothing to do or waiting for something to happen, card games are perfect for passing time smoothly and merrily. They also make great icebreakers, and by all means, they're great for playing just for fun without any time-passing intentions!

Whenever Silkworm and I play cards, we always resort to a specific three games. For each, all you need is a standard deck of cards and at least two players (three is best for I Doubt It, but there is a two player version). Carry a deck of cards with you at all times as I suggested and all you'll need to find is someone to play with!

1. War*
Players: 2+
Easy peasy and entirely based on luck, so if you're having a good day, make a bet

*Since it's based on luck and there's no opportunity for strategy, you could potentially play a fair game against anything--an imaginary friend, a stuffed animal, another human who doesn't feel like sitting down for the game or lives too far away to be there... Just deal them their allotment of cards and play for them!

2. Spit
Players: 2
Fast paced and takes split second judgements

3. I Doubt It (also known as BS)
Players: 3+, potentially 2
Takes concentration and memorization skills to play with strategy

I have to make a note that Spit is by far my favorite. I would play it every morning and every night if someone volunteered to be my Player 2. I Doubt It comes in second place, and War in third, but I'm such a card game geek that I would jump at the chance to play any game. At least Silkworm is nice enough to play with me sometimes!
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