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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 01/31/14

Friday, January 31, 2014

DIY SILHOUETTES!!

 DIY Silhouettes










When I was in third grade, I sat for a paper cutting artist who made my silhouette.  My mom still has it.  Sadly, paper cutting artists are no longer widely available around here, but the idea of a silhouette of my children prompted me to find a way to recreate the look.  This tutorial will show you one way to achieve the classic art without the paper cutting skills.

What you need:
A digital camera
Heavy card stock and printer
X-acto knife and healing mat or something to protect your cutting surface
Black acrylic craft paint (I used Americana)
Spray adhesive or glue stick (not liquid glue)
Background paper in color or pattern of choice and a frame

What to do:
If you have a bit of patience, the reward is worth it.  This project can be done in an afternoon (other than the overnight paint drying) with minimal supplies needed.  I bought everything at my local hobby supply store.








Take profile photos of your children in a well lit area with a light or white background.  Crop as needed to get as close to an 8 x 10" printing as you can.  Print using the "heavy card stock" paper selection on your printer.  Using your X-acto knife, cut around the silhouette.  As you can see with Ro's profile already cut out on the right (below), I tried to accent his cute spikes on the front of his hair.





Slowly and lightly paint your silhouettes with the acrylic paint.  If you do not want classic black, have fun picking a color that matches your own decorations.  Let paint dry overnight.  (Note:  If you accidentally used too much paint and your silhouettes curl, you can press under books with wax paper when dry.)








Mount silhouettes using spray adhesive or a glue stick. I tried both and preferred the ease of the glue stick. Liquid glue is a bit too messy for this task and can cause ripples in the finished product.  





Once your silhouettes are dry, place in frames and you're ready to hang.  I dated the silhouettes on the backs of the frames so I would remember Em and Ro's ages of when these were made.

Other options:  I've seen people make smaller silhouettes and mount them in a double frame as a gift to grandparents.  You can also do them in multiple colors and layer them together for a new twist.

CHINESE NEW YEAR!






   Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade. The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.
  Chinese New Year 2014 marks the year of the Horse and takes place on Friday, January 31.







The History of Chinese New Year

   The Chinese New Year has a great history. In our past, people lived in an agricultural society and worked all year long. They only took a break after the harvest and before the planting of seeds. This happens to coincide with the beginning of the lunar New Year.
   The Chinese New Year is very similar to the Western one, rich in traditions, folklores and rituals. It has been said that it is a combination of the Western Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. This is hardly an exaggeration!
   The origin of the Chinese New Year itself is centuries old - in fact, too old to actually be traced. It is popularly recognized as the Spring Festival and celebrations last 15 days.
   Preparations tend to begin a month before the date of the Chinese New Year (similar to a Western Christmas). During this time people start buying presents, decoration materials, food and clothing. A huge clean-up gets underway days before the New Year, when Chinese houses are cleaned from top to bottom. This ritual is supposed to sweep away all traces of bad luck. Doors and windowpanes are often given a new coat of paint, usually red, then decorated with paper cuts and couplets with themes such as happiness, wealth and longevity printed on them.
   The eve of the New Year is perhaps the most exciting part of the holiday, due to the anticipation. Here, traditions and rituals are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing. Dinner is usually a feast of seafood and dumplings, signifying different good wishes. Delicacies include prawns, for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters ( ho xi), for all things good, fish dishes or Yau-Yu to bring good luck and prosperity, Fai-chai (Angel Hair), an edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and dumplings boiled in water (Jiaozi) signifying a long-lasting good wish for a family. It is customary to wear something red as this colour is meant to ward off evil spirits. But black and white are frowned upon, as these are associated with mourning. After dinner, families sit up for the night playing cards, board games or watching televisionprogrammes dedicated to the occasion. At midnight, fireworks light up the sky.
   On the day itself, an ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red Packet, takes place. This involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money in red envelopes. Then the family begins to say greetings from door to door, first to their relatives and then to their neighbours. Like the Western saying "let bygones be bygones," at Chinese New Year, grudges are very easily cast aside.






   Tributes are made to ancestors by burning incense and the symbolic offering of foods. As firecrackers burst in the air, evil spirits are scared away by the sound of the explosions.
   The end of the New Year is marked by the Festival of Lanterns, which is a celebration with singing, dancing and lantern shows.
   At the Festival, all traditions are honored. The predominant colors are red and gold. "Good Wish" banners are hung from the ceilings and walls. The "God of Fortune" is there to give Hong Baos. Lion dancers perform on stage continuously. Visitors take home plants and flowers symbolizing good luck. An array of New Years specialty food is available in the Food Market. Visitors purchase new clothing, shoes and pottery at the Market Fair. Bargaining for the best deal is commonplace!


Traditions of Chinese New Year

   Even though the climax of the Chinese New Year, Nian, lasts only two or three days including the New Year's Eve, the New Year season extends from the mid-twelfth month of the previous year to the middle of the first month of the new year. A month from the New Year, it is a good time for business. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration material, food and clothing. Transportation department, railroad in particular, is nervously waiting for the onslaught of swarms of travelers who take their days off around the New Year to rush back home for a family renunion from all parts of the country.
   Days before the New Year, every family is busy giving its house a thorough cleaning, hoping to sweep away all the ill-fortune there may have been in the family to make way for the wishful in-coming good luck. People also give their doors and window-panes a new paint, usually in red color. They decorate the doors and windows with paper-cuts and couplets with the very popular theme of "happiness", "wealth", "logevity" and "satisfactory marriage with more children". Paintings of the same theme are put up in the house on top of the newly mounted wall paper. In the old days, various kinds of food are tributed at the alta of ancestors.






   The Eve of the New Year is very carefully observed. Supper is a feast, with all members coming together. One of the most popular course is jiaozi, dumplings boiled in water. "Jiaozi" in Chinese literally mean "sleep together and have sons", a long-lost good wish for a family. After dinner, it is time for the whole family to sit up for the night while having fun playing cards or board games or watching TV programs dedicated to the ocassion. Every light is supposed to be kept on the whole night. At midnight, the whole sky will be lit up by fireworks and firecrackers make everywhere seem like a war zone. People's excitement reach its zenith.
   Very early the next morning, children greet their parents and receive their presents in terms of cash wrapped up in red paper packages from them. Then, the family start out to say greetings from door to door, first their relatives and then their neighbors. It is a great time for reconciliation. Old grudges are very easily cast away during the greetings. The air is permeated with warmth and friendliness. During and several days following the New Year's day, people are visiting each other, with a great deal of exchange of gifs. The New Year atmosphere is brought to an anti-climax fifteen days away where the Festival of Lanterns sets in. It is an occasion of lantern shows and folk dances everywhere. One typical food is the Tang Yuan, another kind of dumplings made of sweet rice rolled into balls and stuffed with either sweet or spicy fillings.
   The Lantern Festival marks the end of the New Year season and afterwards life becomes daily routines once again. This description is based upon the recollection of my own experience. Customs of observing the New Year vary from place to place, considering that China is a big country not only geographically, but also demographically and ethnically. Yet, the spirit underlying the diverse celebrations of the Chinese New Year is the same: a sincere wish of peace and happiness for the family members and friends.


INTERNATIONAL CIRCUS FESTIVAL OF MONTE-CARLO!!





    The Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo (International Circus Festival de Monte-Carlo) was created in 1974 by Prince Rainier III of Monaco to promote circus arts....for which he had a lifelong passion.  The first festival was held from December 26th to the 30th, 1974 under the big top of the French circus Bouglione, installed on what was then the Esplande de Fontvielle.  In the forward he wrote for the program, Prince Rainiers said, "This International Circus Festival was created thinking of the circus community, of this family of underestimated people, so that you, attentive spectators of their efforts and of their work, could know them better, and celebrate them better".  It was the first true circus festival ever presented in the Western world.






   During the Festival, a selection of some of the best circus acts in the business are presented twice to a paying audience and a Jury of circus professionals, journalists, and specialists...presided until 2005 by the late Prince Rainier III, and since 2006, by his daughter, Princess Stephanie of Monaco.  The Jury awards Gold and Silver Clowns, and since 2002 a Bronze Clown, in the form of statuettes sculpted by Paule Male'.  Other prizes and trophies are awarded by the City of Monaco, and various
corporations, press organizations, associations, and individuals.  The Festival presents about 25 acts each yer, in two different set of performances.  The awards are presented during a closing Gala performance attended by the Prince of Monaco, and his family and guests.  Traditionally, the Prince also attends every selection performance.  The first Gold Clowns, which in time became the equivalent of an Oscar, to the circus world, were award to Alfred Court, in tribute to his exceptional career, and to Charlie Rivel.






   In 1975, the Festival was presented under the big top of the Italian circus, Nando, Liana e Rinaldo Orfei, and from 1975 to 1994, under the big top of another Italian Circus, Circo American-Togni.  Since 1995, it has been held under a large, sedentary circus structure, permanently installed in what is now the Quartier Fontvielle, in Monaco.



Under the big top tent in Monte Carlo



   In 2006, the Festival staged an extraordinary tribute to Prince Rainier III of Monaco (who had passed away the previous year), with a five hour show that gathered the greatest assemblage of Gold and Silver Medalists ever seen (some of them performing at the same time, like the amazing juggling duet formed by Kris Kremo and Anthony Gatto, or Oleg Izossimov sharing the ring with The Rodions and Wei Baohua &Wu Zheng).  It was probably the greatest circus performance ever produced.






   The International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo is now held each year in mid January.  Presided by S.A.S. Princess Stephanie of Monaco, it remains today, without a doubt, the most important circus manifestation in the world, and it has become the annual rendezvous of the international circus community and of a large international audience of circus enthusiasts.