Saturday, May 26, 2007

How to Tell the Semester is Over

I'm Cooking Again
After not cooking a single meal--lunch or dinner--for about a month, (including, to my great shame, not cooking a single meal for my dear brother when he was visiting last week!), yesterday I grocery shopped and then prepared 21 meals!

I got the menus, recipes, instructions, and assembly guidelines for the meals from the website Saving Dinner. Some time ago, I blogged about this great place not far from us called The Full Plate--a place where you can go to prepare 7-12 meals with fresh ingredients that then get frozen. (You don't cook the meals ahead of time, so that everything would end up tasting like leftovers. You simply assemble the fresh ingredients, place the prepared meal in a ziploc freezer bag and put it in your freezer until you're ready to defrost and cook it.) The cost of preparing 8 meals is about $150 through the Full Plate (as I recall). That averages to a little over $6 per person, per meal.

Well, these dinner kits I prepared yesterday are the same exact idea except that you do it all yourself--shop the ingredients, prep them, then assemble the meals. It was a huge project--I probably spent a good eight or nine hours between grocery shopping and making the meals. But now my freezer is full of a month's worth of weekday meals! The cost of preparing these meals was probably about $250. That comes to about $4 per person, per meal. Astounding.

I Want to Start an Art Project

When my brother was in town, we all went to the astonishing Maker Faire. This is truly an eschatological event to me. When I go to the Maker Faire I cannot help but celebrate the creativity of the human spirit. So many of the folks who have booths at the Faire are able to imagine things different from the way they already are. And not only are they able to imagine it, they know how to make different things happen. There is also a great joy about the faire and the people there. Many of the projects are full of whimsy--something that seems too often missing from a lot of adult lives. For instance, one of my favorite displays was a guy who had designed a system, called botanicalls, where you put a sensor in the soil of a houseplant. When the plant's soil gets dry, the sensor sends a signal to your phone. The plant telephones you to tell you it needs water! Then when it senses the moisture in the soil, it phones again to thank you for your loving and kind attention!

While we were at the Maker Faire, we saw a booth with folks from the website Etsy. I visited the site for the first time the other night and totally fell in love with it. Etsy provides a webspace for artists and craftspeople to display and sell their work. Most of what I looked at was at truly reasonable prices. And, like the Maker Faire, fills me with hope that the creative spirit in North Americans has not been ultimately destroyed by the forces of mass production and consumerism. There is hope yet! Do visit the site and see what kinds of things are there. And if you are an artist or craftsperson, why not sign up to display and sell your stuff, too! Let me know in the comments what you think of the site!

I sent my brother a link to a triptych painting I liked a lot. He wrote back and told me he thought I could try and make a similar series of paintings myself. I've never painted anything, but I'm thinking today we may walk down to Blick's Art Supplies and maybe give it a try. Why not? It truly must be the end of the school year.

Oh, one last thing: If you like to make stuff or craft stuff, I highly recommend the magazine's my brother subscribes to--and the mags behind the Maker Faire: Make and Craft. Believe me, they're not your usual DIY.

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