Category Archives: NYC

82. A Seven-Sided Star, Snowflakes and a Scroll

Welcome to the second edition of the series, Never Underestimate the Possibilities of Paper!

The mascot of the series, Pierre Papier

The mascot of the series, Pierre Papier

A Seven-Sided Star is made in the same manner as the five-sided star from yesterday’s post.

Start with a heptagon (all sides must be equal)

Cut it out and then make folds like so:

7 star (495x500)Make a little mark about halfway towards the center of the shape along the fold on each flat side (you can see the little dots in the picture above). Cut along the fold ending at the dot. Then fold the cut edges toward what will be the points of the star (they will overlap). Like so:

7 star 3 (500x499)

There will not be a gap in between the flaps (as in the five pointed star), so you just sort of eyeball it when taping them together.

DSC_2043 (500x423)And..

DSC_2033 (500x393)

Ta Da!

DSC_2037 (500x309)


To make a snowflake, start with a square of paper. Fold it in half diagonally.


DSC_2054 (500x293)
And again.

DSC_2058 (500x377)

Now cut here. Through the taller pieces too.

DSC_2059 (500x391)

Like so.

DSC_2060 (500x298)

Now cut chunks out of your long skinny triangle, holding all of the layers together while you do it.

DSC_2066 (500x388)
It helps to use scissors like the ones pictured. Since you are making tiny cuts.

Cut, cut, cut. Until you have something like this:

DSC_2068 (500x257)
Unfold and:

DSC_2071 (500x335)

Ta Da!


DSC_2074 (500x260)DSC_2077 (500x401)

And another:

DSC_2078 (500x274)DSC_2082 (500x335) (2)

No two are alike!

In keeping with my alliterative title…

The scroll:

A few years ago the Spy made a “number scroll” as part of a kindergarten project. The project was simple. Starting from zero, fill in the numbers left to right in a grid like this:

 grid (391x500)

When you reach the end of a page, tape on another grid and keep going.

He got a bit carried away.

He got a bit carried away.

It is something like twenty feet long and goes to 4,581! A good project to teach kids to visualize how “big” numbers are and to practice counting.

DSC_2022 (335x500)

But of course, you could make a scroll with something other than numbers.

And why, pray tell, would you want to do that? Or make the snowflakes or the star? As I explained in the last post: It’s not that these little pursuits in paper are particularly practical. It’s bodybuilding for your brain. A motile meditation for your mood. A kinetic craft to coax your creative crops.

46. Halloween Hodgepodge

October is my favorite month of the year. I just love the brisk cool of fall, how the shadows get deeper and the sunlight and the leaves turn gold. The spooky sound of a blustery breeze blowing through corn stalks thrills me. I love October so much that I am becoming cheesily poetic only three sentences in to this essay. And I do realize “cheesily” is not a word.

A perfect October plant: Lion's Tail/Wild Dagga (from my fall garden in 2010)

A perfect October plant: Lion’s Tail/Wild Dagga (from my fall garden in 2010)

I had high hopes that every day in October I would offer a uniquely fall How-To or at least offer a unique piece of fall lore or information. How to make drawing ink out of black walnuts. How to make a haunted gingerbread house. Dissect a hedgeapple and share more stories and history about those weird osage oranges.

From right: Hedgeapples, black walnuts and distractions haha

From right: Hedgeapples, black walnuts and distractions haha

Pickle some yard-long beans to look like spooky, pickled snakes (or worms). Hunt for paw paws and then see what they taste like (I’ve heard a cross between a banana and a mango!). Actually prepare something with the pounds of persimmons falling from trees in our yard. Hunt for other native Missouri fruits ripe this time of year. I’ve barely scratched the surface of October and it is already the 10th! I thought that to collect myself and get in, the proverbial, game of October glory (and Halloween), I would look back on the past few years’ October tricks and treats.

A littler Spy (2007)

A littler Spy (2007)

I made this costume for the Spy when he was two. He also wore it when he was three.

You might think that I like Halloween so much, surely the kids would need new costumes every year? Not so! I love the tradition of using our homemade Halloween costumes more than once. For two reasons: 1. Homemade costumes take a long time to make and 2. I am incredibly cheap. HAhahah just, uh, kidding. It’s because it is a fun tradition! How many uses can we get out of the pumpkin? The skeleton? We love pulling the costumes out of the bin with the spooky decorations. And when they are too small to be worn, I think I will hang them up and use them as decoration! Especially this masterpiece:

I can’t wait until baby is big enough to wear this!

I can’t wait until baby is big enough to wear this!

There may be slight modifications. Maybe a little pink heart?

A bow and eyelashes were added to the pumpkin last year:

A girlier jack-o-lantern

A girlier jack-o-lantern

I am not really into giving step-by-step instructions and prefer to make my “how-to’s” sort of vague and encourage readers to just make it up as you go along. Because that’s what I do. And because writing clear, concise, step-by-step instructions is about as fun as, well…something really boring. So basically the pumpkin is just some orange fabric circles with an old towel sewed in between the layers (toastier and sturdier!) and then black fabric sewed on for the face. The skeleton is a black sweatshirt and sweatpants with an anatomically correct skeleton painted on it in white acrylic paint (I used a picture from an anatomy book as an example).

For the Spy, he wears my husband’s old Marine Corps gear (this year he’s adding a scary mask and will be a “Zombie Marine”):



Baby's pumpkin leaves are pieces of felt I cut/sewed then attached onto barrettes

Baby’s pumpkin leaves are pieces of felt I cut/sewed then attached onto barrettes

Though I didn’t use a stencil for the leaves, I did use real squash leaves from the garden as the inspiration!

Little trick-or-treaters

Little trick-or-treaters

So this year’s pictures of the kids in their garb are going to look A LOT like last year’s. But that is sort of what traditions are all about! Here’s a few more tricks and treats:

A Haunted Gingerbread House (2011)

A Haunted Gingerbread House (2011)

Spookier in black and white I think.

Spookier in black and white I think.

I made this for my sister with colored sharpies. Just drew it on a long white shirt! Minty fresh!

I made this for my sister with colored sharpies. Just drew it on a long white shirt! Minty fresh!

A skull cake

A skull cake (obviously we started eating it before I thought to take a picture haha)

To make a decal like this for a cake I just make royal icing, pipe the shape onto a piece of parchment, let it dry then peel it off and slap it on the top of the cake. Well I don’t really slap it but you know what I mean. Royal icing dries rock-hard. It’s pretty tough.

And a garden blast from the past:

October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011

20. Progress Report II

I am one-fifth of the way into writing 100 essays in 100 days. Really it is writing 300-1000 words per day because most of the posts don’t truly qualify as essays.

For this progress report I will focus on how I am circumventing the original rules I set forth. How to Paint Part One and Part Two was broken in to two posts so I could get two days out of it. Also, a few times I have scheduled a post to be published the following day. In fact, this very post has been scheduled! If I know I will not get a chance to write, I just write it the day before and schedule it to “go live” the next day at any time I choose. This is sort of sneaky but since I make the rules in this 100/100 it is not actually “cheating”. Plus, I find that you can pick up some new readers when you post at a different time of day than when you actually finished writing it. Especially if you’ve been posting at the same time each day.

Due to the laws of procrastination I have been usually posting at 10PM every day. Knowing I had made a commitment to writing an essay 300-1000 words per day I wait until 9PM to start. Which is funny because spy garden blog glog used to be the thing I did to procrastinate on other things.

Such as laundry.

This is why my hobbies should not become my actual job. If I HAD to write, garden or paint I fear these things could lose their luster. I used to just post whenever I felt like it and from the time of sitting down to the computer to hitting “Publish” used to average fifteen minutes. Maybe an hour at most.

Because I used to only write captions, such as:

Serpente di Sicilia Edible Gourd

Serpente di Sicilia Edible Gourd

Delice de la Table Melon seeds

Delice de la Table Melon seeds

Violet de Provence Artichoke Seed

Violet de Provence Artichoke Seed

Now it takes an hour MINIMUM. Because I want to make sure that among the 300-1000 words I didn’t typo (I’m using typo here as a verb): “there”, “they’re”, “their” or “you’re” and “your”. Because I was an English major and that sort of thing drives me nuts. So anyways… paying attention to grammar and syntax and trying to come up with witty snippits o life takes an hour of mostly uninterrupted silence.

Mostly uninterrupted silence only comes at 9PM, after the kids are bathed and asleep. So that is when I have usually started each essay pseudo-essay. To further complicate the essay word writing, another law comes in to play. The law of “I’m a teepy teeper.” I must be in bed by 10. So one hour is not really enough time to write a proper essay and thus I write 300-100 words.

So…do I think doing this 100/100 is actually increasing my readership? 10 days ago I had 244 followers, now I have 261! But before I started this I normally gained a follower about every time I published a new post, so there’s no real change, I’m just speeding the process up a bit. Still averaging around 20 views a day (My goal is 100 views per day).

I’ve also learned there are two sorts of bloggers: people who can do (essentially) nothing all day and then write something hilariously funny about it (The Bloggess is a great example of this type). The other variety are the people who have to do an activity or adventure of some sort and then write about it. I have learned that I am the activity type person and it is nearly impossible for me to write something unless I have actually done something. Or made something. From  scratch. And taken pictures of it. Before starting this 100/100 I VERY RARELY used a picture that was not my own. If I needed a picture of a curtain, I made a curtain. And then took a picture of it.

This is my kitchen curtain. I made it!

This is my kitchen curtain. I made it!

This approach to blogging is extremely time-consuming to say the least.

To complicate the matter further, I can only take photographs in natural light. This is because I know absolutely nothing about photography. I have a nice camera (a Nikon) but I can’t use the flash or take pictures indoors because they always turn out weirdly yellow and hideous unless daylight is streaming into the interior. So this means if I am posting between 9-10PM and need a picture of something, it is TOO LATE!

So since the 100/100 I have broken my only-use-my-own-photos rule several times. I’ve referenced the photos properly if it has been a painting by an artist (as in the Bread and Water painting in this post) or a still from Alice in Wonderland (because Disney is scary and I don’t want them coming after me!). But a picture of a pile of cheap plastic paintbrushes? I didn’t properly link back to where people could potentially click and buy those brushes. Because spy garden website is supposed to be somewhat useful and educational not life-ruining.

These should be banned from the planet.

Because NO ONE should ever use these paintbrushes. (Here’s why)

The consequences of not properly referencing where a picture came from are really not so bad. Someone might send you a message to please take it down or post a link. It’s not APA format. It’s a glog.

So back to how I am producing my (non)essays…

Jotting down random notes and then saving them in Microsoft word. Sentence fragments, ideas, a few paragraphs. Saved in different documents like an insurance policy for writers block or lack of time.

So you may be wondering: What do I have to look forward to in the next 80 days?

Here are a few subjects of the documents (containing said sentence fragments) that may one day be turned into essays 300-1000 word glog posts:

Spy Garden thoughts on Mogs (that is “Mom Blogs”) Here are some examples of mogs.

How to Write a Sonnet (and why you would want to)

Music Appreciation (why Thin Lizzy is the greatest band ever)

How to Crochet a Hat

How to French Braid

These last few would require a photographer, other than myself, to participate in the activity/adventure stage of blog posting and because I am a control freak this may not be feasible. UNLESS I learn how to operate my camera with my feet.

Until tomorrow,

Spy Garden