Writing a travel blog during a massive quarantine is a tad bit challenging. Yes, I can pull out old material, and I will have to, but I also like to write about current things. So this has very little to do with traveling, but it's relevant for everyone now and technically, we did have to travel to deliver them. Salt dough ornaments are simple and a great way to keep kids busy on these long, endless days. You can dye the dough or paint them after they bake. I've done both, and they always turn out really cute for ornaments or decorations.
Today was a bad day for everyone. There were lots of frustrated tears from both me and the kids about doing online schoolwork. Sites were crashing, sisters were fighting, the dog was pooping in his crate, the routine is different, and everyone is trying to accept this new normal. So after a really disastrous morning, we decided to deliver some cheer. A few days ago, I found a simple salt dough recipe circulating on Facebook:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
*We doubled it because one batch doesn't make enough for three people to paint.
We mixed up our dough and used cookie cutters to punch out Easter shapes. Weirdly enough, I didn't have an egg shape. We grabbed a plastic cup squeezing it into an oval, and that worked just fine. We put our salt dough shapes on parchment paper-covered baking sheets and baked them at 250 degrees for two hours. Don't forget to punch holes in the tops if you intend to hang some. We just used the end of a paint brush to make the holes.
Once they cooled completely, we decorated them with acrylic craft paint and put pipe cleaners through the holes as hangers. They turned out pretty cute and kept the girls busy over a few hours for two days.
My grandma is 87 years old and lives alone. We drove to her house and surprised her with our decorations and also made a stop at my parents' house. We hung some from the trees and put some on the sidewalk. We also decorated their driveways with chalk while we were there. We made sure to stick to strict social distancing guidelines so as not to put them at risk. They all teared up, and I know it meant a lot for them to see us from a distance.
Spreading cheer today helped us heal our own lonely hearts for a brief moment in time. This book is a great complement to this theme. The main character Victoria is unable to connect with people due to her darkly troubled past, but she discovers a way to communicate through flowers. We can't communicate in person during this quarantine, but the human spirit is resilient, and we discover ways to meet our social needs through small things like phone calls, video chats, letters, gifts on porches, chalk pictures, and ornaments in trees.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There's a shadow of gray and darkness that lurks along every chapter in this novel and while it stalks the pages, I loved the story even more because of it. As the title may falsely lead you to believe, this is not a light, flowery book with happy endings and tidy resolutions but instead the stark, reality of someone who experiences trauma. Trauma latches it's cold, spindly fingers onto every part of Victoria's life and won't let go just because she has entered adulthood. Victoria spends the majority of her life in the foster-care system, and she is unable to develop connections with people or the world around her except through the Victorian language of flowers. Victoria learns this language of love through one foster mom that she attaches to until tragedy strikes, and she is forced back into isolation. Victoria eventually emancipates and strikes out on her own but meets up with people and secrets from her past that force her to question her place in the world and even the precious language of flowers she so staunchly clings to. Victoria is not a likeable character but she's real. Her push-back against people who are kind to her is also authentic. She's angry, downright mean, and mostly lost. I love reading about the meaning of the various flowers and how they played a role in people's destines. Victoria develops a gift for choosing just what people need in the flower shop she comes to work for, and eventually comes to terms with what she needs in her own life in order to be happy.
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Travel All the Pages is inspired by my two loves - travel and reading, a combo I can't resist. Enjoy these little pairings.