picklesink

A mom, a dad, and two nutty kids.

How to make 187 palm crosses without completely losing your…ooh, shiny!

Last Sunday was Palm (or Passion) Sunday in the Christian calendar, which commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where crowds greeted him by waving and covering his path with palm branches, and marks the beginning of Holy Week. Many churches distribute palm branches or fronds for people to wave as part of the worship service.

For our Palm Sunday service, I rashly volunteered to go looking for individual palm strips that could be folded into crosses for Easter. “Who will fold them?” they asked. “Oh, I’ll do it,” I said. “How much work could it possibly be?” *Cue evil laugh track*

After the Palm Sunday service, I came home with the bag of still fresh palm strips and I asked my good friend Google, “Seriously, Google? How hard COULD it be?”

Palm fronds

Bag of (purportedly) 100 palm strips. Actually more like 150 as many of them were made up of 2 layers stuck together.
©PicklesINK 2013

Google replied, “Mwah hah hah hah hah…!” but also helpfully directed me to some instructional websites and I got to work.

I found a lot of the instructions and pictures tough to follow, so I decided to try my hand at making one of my own. Please note that unlike the actual palm strips, the paper I used is blue on one side and white on the other so you see how the folds really go! The wider end of the palm/paper is the bottom and narrower part the top; if it’s really stringy at the top, trim it. If it’s extra wide (more than 1.5″), cut a notch at the bottom and peel the two halves apart to make 2 strips.

Paper palm

Blue strip of paper cleverly trimmed into palm strip shape
©PicklesINK 2013

Fold #1: Fold the top straight down over the bottom at the height that you would like the cross to be (in this case, about 5″).

Fold 1

Fold #1: Fold top down over bottom. From bottom to fold will be the height of your cross.
©PicklesINK 2013

Fold #2: Fold to the right at a 45° angle to start to form the first arm of the cross.

Fold 2

Fold #2: Fold to the right at a 45° angle
©PicklesINK 2013

Fold #3: Fold straight back towards the left to complete that arm and start to form the second arm of the cross.

Fold 3

Fold #3: Fold straight back towards the left.
©PicklesINK 2013

Fold #4: Fold underneath to complete the second arm. The paper/palm should pass behind the cross.

Fold 4

Fold #4: Fold underneath to complete the second arm.
©PicklesINK 2013

Turn over.

Fold 4 over

This is what is should look like when turned over after Fold #4.
©PicklesINK 2013

Fold #5: Holding the cross together in the middle, fold strip at a 45° angle to pass behind cross from top left to bottom right.

Fold 5 flat

Fold #5: Holding the cross together, fold strip at a 45° angle to pass behind cross from top left to bottom right.
©PicklesINK 2013

Fold #6: Fold from bottom right straight across to bottom left (keep holding middle of cross together).

Fold 6

Fold #6: Fold from bottom right straight across to bottom left.
©PicklesINK 2013

Fold #7: Fold up at 45° angle so strip passes behind cross from bottom left to top right.

Fold 7

Fold #7: Fold up at 45° angle so strip passes behind cross from bottom left to top right.
©PicklesINK 2013

Fold #8: Pass top of strip over top right and tuck into where the strip wraps around the bottom of the cross.

Fold 8 and tuck

Fold #8: Pass top of strip over top right and tuck into where the strip wraps around the bottom of the cross.
©PicklesINK 2013

Then pull tight.

Fold 8 and pulled tight

Fold #8 pulled tight.
©PicklesINK 2013

Turn over and trim excess to finish.

Finshed and trimmed

Trimmed, completed cross.
©PicklesINK 2013

Here are some of the real thin, front and back, in various sizes.

Work in progress

Completed palm crosses, front and back.

And here I am with crazy eyes having just spent the last 4 hours making 187 of them!!

Completed (with crazy eyes)

Karyn with crazy eyes and 187 palm crosses in a basket.
©PicklesINK 2013

It was strangely soothing, as repetitive tactile experiences go. When we delivered them to the church, Ian proudly declared, “Oh, it was easy! At least, it didn’t look that hard…”

~ karyn

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Confession Cam

????????

Admit it – you’d confess too!!
©PicklesINK 2012

I feel like I should have a little video camera set up on a tripod in a closet in front of a bare wooden stool for this. Okay, here goes – Confession time – A big old truth-storm coming right at you, just between you and me:

I Hate Kids.

*phew*

That was a weight off my chest.

Now for the explanation: I love my children. I love your children. I am fascinated by child development, both normal and exceptional. I have always connected easily with children, and I spent most of my adolescent spare time babysitting and helping out with the children’s programs at my church.

It logically followed that I skipped off to university starry-eyed and determined to become The Very Best Kindergarten Teacher Ever. By the end of my very first day of my very first placement in a preschool classroom, I found myself (figuratively) rocking back and forth in the fetal position muttering, “Oh god. I hate kids. I hate them. What on earth made me think I wanted to do this?”

Some soul-searching later, I realized that a love of children does not necessarily equate a love of working with children, and even a love of working with children does not equate a love of working with lots of children. In mathematical terms, ∴ I love kids ≠ I should be a teacher.

I have many, many wonderful friends who are amazing teachers, and I have so much respect for their being able to do and love a job that I would rather stick needles in my eyes than pursue. They make it seem so effortless when all I can think is “But HOW? How do you get them to all sit down at once? What do you do when one of them runs off? How do you get them to all listen to you? HOW DO YOU DO IT WITHOUT YOUR FREAKING HEAD EXPLODING??”

Last year, I started up a Cherub Choir at my church. This was rather a frustrating exercise, due I think to a combination of lack of enthusiasm/participants and the fact that it coincided with the height of my (untreated) depression, and throughout last year I felt a constant push/pull within myself between “If my friends really cared, they would bring their kids out to support me!” and, “I am choosing to provide this service and it’s not my friends’ responsibility to populate it!”

I was on the verge of calling the whole thing off one Sunday morning as I arrived, yet again with just my two kids in tow, only to find a strange 12 year-old girl waiting, alone, in the church – her name was Aimee, she said in teenaged upspeak. “I saw your sign downtown? I’m here for the kids choir? To be a youth helper?” She had come with the grudging consent of her mom, who had given her permission to go for choir practice but not to stay for church because she wasn’t dressed properly for it. Aimee’s arrival ended that push/pull in my head with a swift kick in the butt of, “Okay, now I get it – I’m doing this for that shy, lonely 12 year-old who took a chance and found a place where for half an hour every Sunday she felt like she belonged.”

This year, my choir grew from two (Ben and Molly) to three and now to FIVE kids. Can you believe it? MORE THAN HALF of the choir is now NOT the fruit of my loins!! I’m torn between delirious excitement and abject terror – which brings us back to the part where I Hate Kids, because this is starting to feel suspiciously like a teaching gig. But weirdly enough, it’s also feeling kind of fun. And rewarding. And not as hard as it used to be.

Maybe the times, they are a-changin’, just a little bit.

Cherub choir, January 6, 2013

Cherub Choir and Senior Choir singing together
©PicklesINK 2012

~ karyn

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I think I need a holiday from my holiday!

I think our Christmas season this year was the busiest EVER. There was lots of fun, family and friends, but I think I’m definitely ready for the holidays to be over so I can relax!

Ben and Molly’s school Christmas pageant was a hoot – Ben was dapper as always in his tuxedo and delivered his “Narrator 2” lines in his inimitable fashion. Molly, who had been re-cast as “a star” after (repeatedly) deliberately breaking her fairy wand, demonstrated her displeasure by flinging her bells on the stage and turning her back on the audience for the singing of Jingle Bells.

Ben narrator

Ben delivering his lines wearing his favourite “wedding suit”
©PicklesINK 2012

Molly back turned

Molly with her back to the audience
©PicklesINK 2012

On the Saturday before Christmas we went to our extended family Christmas party with yummy food by The Gravy Train Gourmet Dippery (shameless plug, but seriously, check them out!) and a puppet show by the beautiful and talented Claudia Hurtubise (with special guest puppeteers Ben and Molly).

Check them out and get on board!

On the way to the party, Ian suddenly said, “You know, we have all of their bedtime stuff with us…what do you think the chances are that Nana and Grandad would be convinced to keep them for the night?” I said, “Hmm…if we play our cards right, I’d say at least 50-50.” In the end it did indeed come down to 50-50: My dad hid both car keys and told me to pick a hand – with a hint from my Aunt Bonny, I chose right and Ian and I went to see The Hobbit. Of course, since it was only part 1 of 3 it looks like we’re going to have to make a hobbit of it…

The next morning we were back to the city again for Nana’s office Christmas brunch where we partook of delicious food and an impressive sequence of dirty jokes by and at the expense of friends and family members at our end of the table.

Espresso with  honey lavender Biscotti 
Photo credit: http://www.bakingdom.com

The Christmas Eve family service at St. Paul’s United Church included my cherub choir “singing” The Little Drummer Boy. There was some premature congratulation when the congregation mistook the piano interlude while the kids were given their drums for the end of the song, but we persevered (Translation: I kept desperately waving my arms and and Ben kept singing away loudly a bar ahead of the accompaniment) and brought down the house in the end.

On Christmas Day we spent the morning at home opening presents and Skyping with the overseas Pickleseses and the afternoon at Nana and Grandad’s. Santa, family, and friends were as always very generous to all of us and we enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner as well as the grand opening of Chris’ Epic Present. One of my favourite presents was my mug from my brother- and sister-in-law in Wales!

Blog mug

Keep Calm and Blog mug
©PicklesINK 2012

Finally, on Boxing Day we hosted my family at our house for the afternoon and dinner. I decided on a departure from turkey (for the most part) and served lasagna – one gluten-full and one gluten-free. I made Chef Michael Smith’s lasagna with speedy tomato sauce, which is my go-to lasagna recipe and used Italian turkey sausage instead of pork. For the gluten-free version I shaved thin strips of zucchini with a cheese slicer to use in place of noodles. Both versions were delicious!

I was also very happy with the centrepiece I made using one of the leftover giant vases from Chris and Caitie’s wedding.

Centrepiece 2

Pillar vase filled with Christmas tree ornaments and sparkly pinecones, fruits and leaves.
©PicklesINK 2012

And of course, with so many engineers in the house, I had to make π for dessert.

Pi crust

Cutting out numbers to make my “pi” crust
©PicklesINK 2012

Finished pi

Finished product: Apple cranberry “pi
©PicklesINK 2012

After dinner on Boxing Day, Ben’s big Christmas holiday adventure began as he left with my parents to go up to the chalet for a few days – more on that later!

~ karyn

How were your holidays? Did you follow family traditions, or do something new?

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Grinning from ear to ear – Part 3

and finally…

THE VOTE.

We won.

The knot that has been in my stomach for weeks has finally disappeared and has been replaced by a whole-body glowing sense of relief. Not only did we win, but we won by a landslide – for every person who voted to keep the status quo, 4 people voted for change, and the atmosphere in the room when it was announced was alive and joyous.

I explained it to Ben and Molly thus:

We had a really important meeting at church yesterday, and I was really worried about it because we were having a vote about something that I think is really important. Our church had a rule that not everyone could get married at our church. That meant that for some people, even if they came to the church and said, “We really love this church, and we really want to have our wedding here!” we would say, “No,” and I didn’t think that was fair, because God loves everyone equally. I thought that anyone who loved God and loved the church and wanted to have their wedding there should be able to do that, and so did a lot of other people, so we had some meetings, and we arranged some times that when anyone could come and talk about how they felt about it, and when that was all finished, we had a vote.

Everyone wrote on a piece of paper if they thought we should keep the rule the same, or change it so that everyone could get married at the church if they wanted to. And I was really, really worried that more people would want to keep it the same, but it turned out that lots more people wanted to change the rule and so we did, and now EVERYONE who comes and says, “We really love this church and we would like to have our wedding here!” will get a, “YES!”

~ karyn

Jesus with Rainbow Sheep, http://www.othersheep.org/

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Holy vats of chili, Batman!

A committee that I am on at my church (okay, full disclosure: The committee to prepare for a congregational vote regarding the marriage policy, as described in a previous post) is hosting a lunch and discussion session this coming Sunday. Racked with guilt because I cannot be there for the actual discussion, I volunteered to make chili for the lunch. We have no idea how many people will actually attend, but we optimistically decided to be prepared for 40-50, so this afternoon I found myself making giant vats of chili, which actually went much more smoothly than I ever could have imagined, even with Ben’s “help”!

I had an idea for my chili, based on my dad’s recipe on which I grew up, but in order to get an idea for how many people it would feed, I asked my friend Google to find me a “fast chili recipe with beef” and then chose the one closest to my dad’s, which gave me this:

CHILI — THE FAST AND EASY WAY
2 lbs. ground beef
1 lg. onion, chopped
2 (16 oz.) cans red kidney beans
2 (16 oz.) cans stewed tomatoes (preferably Mexican style)
2 (16 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2 tbsp. chili powder

Brown ground beef and onions together in skillet. Transfer to large kettle. Add the remaining ingredients and cook over medium low heat. Cook until heated well and most of the liquid is cooked down. This can be adjusted easily according to your own taste for thicker or thinner chili.

I quadrupled the amounts and planned some modifications, adding tomato paste, corn, garlic, and red and green bell peppers and substituting ground pork for some of the beef, and reducing the amount of meat while increasing the amount of beans slightly. I also used a variety of beans instead of just red kidney beans. That left my shopping list looking like this:

5 lbs. ground beef
2 lbs. ground pork
6 bell peppers (red and green)
4 large onions
20 cloves garlic
10 cans beans (red kidney beans, white kidney beans, black beans)
4 cans whole stewed tomatoes
4 cans diced tomatoes
8 cans tomato sauce
3 cans tomato paste
1 bag frozen corn
1 packet chili powder

I got it home and started chopping, making good use of my trusty Cusinart Mini-Prep food processor (fantastic for making family meals into baby food as well as for finely chopping onions and garlic!).

Ingredients assembled: Finely chopped onion and garlic, diced peppers, and a vast array of canned tomatoes and beans.
©PicklesINK 2012

Once the chopping was done, I started cooking the ground beef and pork

Ground beef and pork cooking on the stove.
©PicklesINK 2012

and put Ian and Ben to work opening cans.

Ben pouring tomato sauce into the giant vat o’ tomato.
©PicklesINK 2012

Ben next job was to find and crush the whole tomatoes, which he did with relish.*

Tremble with fear, tomatoes,
at the wrath of Sir Ben!
©PicklesINK 2012

Once all the meat was cooked, I cooked the onions, garlic, and peppers in batches, mixed them with the meat, and assembled my vats o’ ingredients.

Vats o’ ingredients: Tomato mixture, meat/onions/garlic/peppers, and mixed beans.
©PicklesINK 2012

Finally, I mixed it all together in my three biggest pots, trying to keep the ratio of ingredients as even as possible, and added liberal amounts of chili powder to each.

My 3 biggest pots barely fit on the stove together!
©PicklesINK 2012

It looked pretty good mixed together, and smells pretty fabulous simmering on the stove. I plan to add the frozen corn when it’s finished to help cool it down.

Yummy-looking pot o’ chili!
©PicklesINK 2012

Stay tuned until next week when I will hopefully hear how the congregation liked it – Same BAT-TIME, same BAT-CHANNEL!

~ karyn

*Please note that the relish was figurative. Real relish would have been gross.

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