Pi Day Celebrations: Conclusion

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Projects

So Pi Day was excellent. I even made Kol a little shirt, which read:

Kol the Π-rate, Y(ar)^2!

(For those of you who are not mathematically inclined, Y(ar)^2 = Yaarr. This is a pirate joke. Also, say it out loud–“why are squared” sounds like “pi • r squared”, or Π(r)^2, which is the area of a circle. Math joke + pirate joke = Epic.)

Please note that the Π has a bandana and an eye-patch. 🙂

It was all quite festive.

In the spirit of Pi Day, here is some information about pi!

Pi’s First 100 Digits:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679

Good Resources to Learn About Pi:

http://www.worsleyschool.net/science/files/piorigin/piorigin.html

http://www.piday.org/learn.php

Fun Fact: Pi Day is also Einstein’s birthday.

I’m looking forward to next year’s Pi Day celebrations, and I am already considering future ideas. At some point I’d like to do fun activities with Kol to help him understand pi, and we can use this holiday to emphasize learning and critical thinking. Maybe we’ll go to museums or do a pi-mile run… And the food! I’m going to make better pies next year, maybe we’ll have pizza or chicken pot pies. So many exciting things to look forward to!

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I am so, so sorry Kol.

You just received the very first and very last haircut you will ever get from your parents. Our intentions were good, I swear. All I wanted to do was remove your little baby mullet, which was becoming less cute and more annoying, particularly when you smeared oatmeal, fruit, or scrambled eggs in it. I just wanted it shorter in the back, that’s all. So I attempted to use little safety baby scissors to do just that, and it was going well until you started squirming. The next thing I know, you have patches of hair missing and I’m calling your father to help hold you still. By that time it was too late. We determined we’d use your father’s hair trimmers to even it out a little, which would have been fine except your father thought the plan was to mimic his own haircut, and he shaved a bald strip on the back of your head, right up the middle. Realizing the error, we found a longer option on a different trimmer and did eventually get the rest mostly evened out. But now you have a bald strip running up part of your head.

I’m laughing kind of hysterically about the whole thing. I feel terrible. I feel like the scum of the earth. Next time I swear I will take you to a professional, because your parents are clearly not qualified to trim your hair.  I will make sure you have a hat on absolutely every time you are around other people until it grows back. I am so sorry.

Please don’t hate us.

Mum

Pi Day Celebrations: Part 3

Posted: April 14, 2012 in Projects

Pi Day would not be complete without pie!

I have some experience making pumpkin and cherry pie, but only the traditional round variety. For this special occasion, I desperately wanted to make a fancy sort of tribute to Pi Day, so I thought I would create my own free-form pies in the shapes of 3.14…

This was beautiful, in theory.

I toiled in the kitchen for several hours creating gorgeous pie shells in unique shapes, and I tried to contain my disappointment when the first pie, a cherry 4, collapsed on the sides. After cooking it completely, I wedged up the sides with some spatulas and tried to reassure myself that it would be okay. My pumpkin 3 was up next, and I was so proud of it. The edges were detailed with braided crust, the outside perfectly smoothed and shaped. Everything was going great until about ten minutes into the process. I heard a loud banging noise, and discovered that the cookie sheet on which the pie was cooking had buckled, flinging the pie filling upward and resulting in a deflated, decimated pie crust. I was devastated.

It was at this point that I turned off the oven, piled the dirty dishes into the sink, cleaned the flour off my face, and decided Pi Day would simply suck.

My husband, who had already retired to bed at this point, calmly pointed out that our celebrations would not take place until the following evening. When I explained that I did not have any more pie filling, eggs, or flour remaining and that I wouldn’t have time to do the process over again during the day, he suggested I go to the store for new materials, return home in a calm manner, and learn from the previous experience to try again. Many of you might wonder why I didn’t just make traditional round pies–my husband suggested this also. I could have. It would have been much easier and successful from the start. The truth is that I had been dreaming of making these pies for weeks. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and exactly how I wanted it done, I simply don’t have the experience to do things like this perfectly right from the start. Unfortunately there are unavoidable lessons to be learned, like buckling pans, but I knew (and more importantly, my husband reminded me) that I would succeed to some extent if I tried again. So it was then, at nearly midnight Pi Day Eve, that I set out for baking supplies.

I would like to take a moment to thank my husband for encouraging me to try again, because he knew how much this project meant to me. Sure, he likes pie, but he wouldn’t have been devastated if I called the whole thing off. I am so glad he believed in me and offered support when he did, because in my opinion, he saved Pi Day.

I made the pies again, and they turned out okay. The pumpkin spilled a little on one side, but I contained the worst of the damage. The crust for the cherry pie decided to crumble a bit. Not perfect, not amazing, but good. Edible? Sure. Beautiful? Eh. Fantastically nerdy? Oh, a thousand times yes.

Some tips if you decide to make free-form pie crusts:

  • The edges need to be super thick, particularly along the sides, to prevent spills. I hope you don’t mind thick crusts, because you will invariably get them with traditional pie fillings. (Tarts are entirely different, and can be managed with a traditional crust).
  • You will have loads of excess filling unless you make the pies deep, and in order to do so you must support the edges. I suggest trying oven-safe kitchen items to assist you, perhaps in the form of small pans or the like. My pies seriously lacked on the filling front. I’ve never had such a thin, unsatisfying pumpkin pie. But I digress! Make them deep, but unless you support the sides or make insanely thick crusts, anticipate spills.
  • To build pie crusts or to “paste” on extra pieces, try a mixture of egg and water. Doesn’t take much. Then you can just brush it lightly on and the dough sticks beautifully. Just beware that these areas may cook faster than others, so if you end up coating the top layer of the crust, it may burn a bit.
  • Take your time. Rushing leads to mistakes.
  • If you are using a pre-mix crust, buy more than you think you’ll need. Seriously. You’ll fly through it. If you make your own dough, stock up on supplies to make it.
  • Figure out the best order to cook the pies in (if making multiples) so that one is always in the oven while you are constructing the next shell. It’s more economical with time.

Without further ado:

Pumpkin pie

Banana Cream Pie (never attempted previously, but apparently it was enjoyable)

Cherry Pie

Blood orange and Peach Tartlets

Victory!

Pi Day Celebrations: Part 2

Posted: April 12, 2012 in Projects

My second Pi Day decoration was the official Pi Day Banner. It was absurdly simple to make, which was a relief after the 100 Digits of Pi banner.

I had several forms of inspiration for this project. The first was pi itself; I wanted a circular sign. Second was the plethora of decorations I saw in stores over the months of October, November, and December. It seemed popular to have one cornerstone-type decoration, so I thought it would be fun to make something big and loud and enthusiastic. Finally, I went to the fabric store and found an adorable polka-dotted fabric on clearance, and I thought it would work wonderfully for the occasion. The colors were muted and neutral, and they don’t correlate to any other holiday so there should be no confusion. If you’re curious, the official Raptor Pi Day colors are orange, gold, blue, and tan.

Here’s the banner construction in a handful of super easy steps.

1. Cut out two giant fabric circles: one of the polka dot fabric and one of white muslin.

2. Sew the circles together, with right sides facing one another. Leave a small gap for turning.

3. Turn the fabric right-side out.

4. Press.

5. Topstitch along the edge, being sure to fold under the opened edge.

6. Glue letters/symbols onto the front of the banner.

Done!

Pi Day Celebrations: Part 1

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Projects

Where we last left off, I described my intention to celebrate key holidays with Kol. Appropriately, I mentioned this right around one of our cornerstone holiday selections: Pi Day. I made a pretty big occasion of this particular holiday, so I plan to share our festivities over the next few posts.

Firstly, I’d like to start with one of my favorite decorations of the holiday: the banner.

I selected four colors for the occasion (based on a fabric you’ll see in a later post), then purchased one sheet of felt per color. I proceeded to cut out 25 approximate circles of each color. I then hooked one jewelry ring to each circle. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate rings that simply opened with a pair of pliers; this likely would have made my life much easier. Instead, I was stuck with tiny rings like those of a keychain, which meant that by the end of the project, my nails were completely destroyed.

Anyway.

I then began connecting the circles to each other, being certain to keep the same color pattern. This whole process took hours. At least three, and probably closer to four or five. I’m not joking.

When I finally had a ginormous chain of felt circles, I took silver sparkly fabric paint and carefully printed out one digit of pi per circle. On either end of the banner I affixed a larger circle; the first has a giant 3 and the last has an ellipses (…) to denote the irrational nature of pi.

Once the paint dried, I hung it up along the top of the wall in my dining room, where the festivities took place. Here is a terrible cell-phone photo:

Regardless of the quality, I am very happy with this project. It was a real pain and it obliterated my fingertips, but I am confident it will hold up for a few years at least.

Faithful Readers

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dear readers,

I suck.

I’m quite sorry for the delay in posts lately. Things around here have been insanely hectic, and unfortunately I didn’t have enough posts prepared to have automatic updates scheduled. I will do my best to be more attentive in the future.

Please forgive me!

Velocicrafter

This post has been on my mind for a long time now, and I think I am finally prepared to share it. I want to express in advance that I’m not looking to offend or upset anyone, so please don’t take any of my following comments as personal judgment.

My husband and I do not celebrate many holidays. In fact, aside from Halloween (occasionally), I can’t actually think of a holiday we celebrate regularly. Up until last year, we never received invitations for Halloween or New Years’ parties, we went to Denny’s for Thanksgiving, and we forgot all about Valentine’s, Mother’s, Father’s, and St. Patrick’s Days. We aren’t religious, so I honestly don’t even know when Easter is, and Christmas mostly means “expensive airfare” to us. Ken and I don’t even celebrate each other’s birthdays or our anniversary. Sure, sometimes I wish we had lovey, googly traditions, but most of the time I’m perfectly content to give and receive gifts year-round and to eat whatever we want whenever we want to.

And then we had Kol.

Most of what I have described previously still stands. We celebrated several holidays with friends last year, but if it weren’t for the invitations, I doubt we would have celebrated these occasions. Kol received a shocking amount of Christmas gifts, which was delightful, but we got a lot of strange looks when we admitted to not getting him anything ourselves. We don’t even get a tree. When I thought about it later, I realized I was upset for Kol’s sake; not because I care about holidays, but because they were something to look forward to (or to dread). I want Kol to have some kind of holiday ritual every year, and I want him to look back on his childhood and remember how delightful (or horrible) it was. So for the past few months, I’ve been thinking.

Here is what I have concluded:

  • I don’t want to choose to celebrate any holiday we don’t believe in. Thus no religious affiliations.
  • I don’t want to celebrate holidays centered around food or gifts (with one exception).
  • At least one holiday has to be unique–this will be explained shortly.
  • Ken must be a willing participant for all holidays; I refuse to be the only parent involved.

This resulted in five holidays our family will celebrate over the course of each year. I hope to establish appropriate festivities for each one, and I hope they will result in happy childhood memories for Kol. Without further ado, holidays with the Higdons will include:

Kol’s Birthday: Although Ken thinks celebrating birthdays is a stupid idea, I absolutely adored throwing a birthday party every year. I want Kol to have a chance to invite his friends to do something fun, bring him gifts, and eat cake. I don’t want him to become a self-centered brat, of course, but I don’t think letting him have a special day once a year is going to ruin him. If we want to shower Kol with presents for absolutely no reason, I can’t think of a better occasion for it.
Luring Ken with: Cake.

Fourth of July: While our country’s actions are often disheartening and our government rarely represents the average citizen, I feel compelled to celebrate the liberties we enjoy. I don’t want to get into politics or arguments about how needlessly violent, intolerant, wasteful, or ignorant Americans are. It is simply nice to have the opportunity to be all of those horrible things. Additionally, Ken is in the U.S. Navy and we feel a certain sense of pride around the Fourth of July; I think all military families do. I don’t hate America, even if I disagree with many things Americans do. If nothing else, I want Kol to think of his father’s commitment to his country.
Luring Ken with: Patriotism and fireworks.

Halloween: Whereas the Fourth of July will be in remembrance of his father, Halloween will hopefully remind Kol of his mother. I never cared about candy around Halloween, I just loved the costumes. As a crafter, Halloween is a highlight of my year. I want Kol to help me hang up fake spiderwebs, carve pumpkins, and go trick-or-treating. I want him to proudly tell his friends that he and his mother made his epic costume. I want him to look back and see how committed I was to helping his imagination come to fruition. Probably he’ll remember candy, but one can hope!
Luring Ken with: Candy and adorable costumes.

New Year’s Eve: I like the idea of encouraging short-term goals and reflection on past success and failure. New Year’s Eve always feels like mental and emotional spring cleaning to me. While the concept of a year is really just a construct of human culture, celebrating a fresh start is something I can get behind.
Luring Ken with: Alcohol.

Pi Day (March 14): Since all the other holidays we plan to celebrate will someday become the sort of holidays Kol will have no interest in sharing with us (I honestly cannot see 21 year-old Kol coming home for his birthday, Halloween, or New Year’s, and when he has a family of his own the Fourth of July will likely be something he will want to share with them.), I determined that we should select a holiday that isn’t as important to most families, so that hopefully years from now Kol will still be interested in visiting to celebrate. Pi Day is the perfect solution. We plan to use this holiday to emphasize the pursuit of knowledge, as well as instilling a quirky, distinct, and admittedly nerdy tradition in our family. I’m already planning Pi Days of the future, and it’s so exciting to be able to make up our own traditions!
Luring Ken with: Pie and nerdiness.

Have you created any special traditions for your family? Do you and your significant other feel the same way about how to celebrate? I’d love to hear about your family’s holidays (or lack thereof).