Monday, December 05, 2016

Trying for a Green Thumb

And suddenly, surprisingly, it is the holiday season.  How did this happen?

So, here is your Question of the Day:

What do you think my chances are of keeping a plant alive? For the records, it's a maidenhair fern.

Background: I used to have a jade plant in our bathroom, which faces north and has a small window that provides a little indirect light. But then it got too giraffe-like and Chris rescued it and installed it in our kitchen, which gets plentiful, direct sunlight from the south.

Once the jade plant left, I promptly and successively killed three plants, who either didn't care for my watering style (sporadic, but plentiful. Think: Flash flood) or didn't get enough light.

The last victim:

But then I came across this little gem in the store today:

And best of all, here is the care description:

I think maybe....20% chance of survival. Wish me luck. 

Also, 'Do Not Consume'?! You know that warning is on there because somebody ate it and complained. sigh. People, you're killing me.  

Seattle friends, did you see that Amazon is opening up a grocery store that will have no checkout lines (or checkers?).  This is probably not a good time to go into customer service.

Lab grown diamonds are becoming a thing! I'm actually so excited about this, probably on par with them coming out with fake meat that passes for the real deal. I love my engagement ring...but I also carry around a fair amount of guilt about how it was (probably) procured. 

Moose locked antlers then froze in a stream. When we went up to the Arctic circle this year, the tiny (but awesome!) visitor's center in Coldfoot had a pair of male caribou that had met a similar fate. Ugh. Not a good way to go.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Daily Happenings and House Update

Ugh, we are in the endless cycle of winter colds and coughs. Kids are walking petri dishes.

BUT! We managed to stay well long enough to take our family pictures with the amazing Bronwen Houck.

She is super talented at getting my kids to actually pretend they like each other. Ha. Just kidding. They love each other to bits but they argue like an old married couple. It's hilarious, when it's not driving me batty.

We're thrilled with the photos; I'm stashing them away until I get my holiday cards out the door.

In other news, we are back to only using half our house. This time, instead of the kitchen/dining room, our living room currently looks like this:

I decided that no way was I going to paint the remainder of our main living area, which also includes the hallway and office. I've had it with painting.

We made the decision to paint the trim and fireplace tile, in addition to the walls and ceilings. We debated long and hard about keeping the brown mahogany but in the end several painters told us that it was going to be near impossible to restore to its former glory.

Current state of the trim and picture rail:

Here is what it looked like on Monday morning:

Hope we made the right decision here; there is no going back on the fireplace tile so keep your fingers crossed for us!


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

News and Reviews

Wettest October on record in Seattle. And that's sayin' something, given that we live in the soggy pacific Northwest.

We've been slowly running out of indoor things to do with two energetic kids. The pool, the reptile zoo, the bookstore, what? We need ideas, Seattle friends!

For a while Chris has been taking Ben to Saturday morning swimming; I got to go last week and see our little fishie in action. He can't yet pass the swim test to go in the deep end but that hasn't stopped him from heading for the diving board (with life jacket securely in place).

Let's start with the gorgeous post first: the veins of America; every river basin in the US.

Hawaii's monk seals vs. feral cats. I promise, I love cats...just not the ones that are wrecking havoc on native ecosystems.

Women that have epidurals might have lower rates of postpartum depression.

These dolls are beautiful.

I've spent a bit of time looking at these oil fields around Huntington Beach: SoCal's deadliest quake may have been caused by oil drilling. 

Richard Sherman says Roger Goodell needs to give up some of his power. 

Meet the trail community: bow hunter.

My favorite post of the week: The Loving Legacy. Dare you not to get the sniffles.

Vampires. Explained. Made me laugh.

Have a good week! (Did you survive Halloween? Our two had a great time trick or treating...and then crashed into bed.)



Friday, October 28, 2016

2016 Halloween Costumes

Ben has been in a tizzy for the past few months over the task of selecting the perfect halloween costume. We went back and forth, over and over, through hundreds of pinterest photos; the kid could not decide on a selection. Actually, it wasn't that he didn't like them, it was that he wanted to be them all: ninja, police officer, lego man, knight. 

First he was going to be a cop, and Emma an escaped convict. Eh, ok, except that our wee girlie would quickly grow tired of being 'arrested' multiple times a day. 

Then he switched to ninja, except that I couldn't come up with a good costume for Em. 

So finally we got back to the medieval theme and I started in on costumes so he couldn't change his mind again. It worked, he is completely over-the-moon about his get-up. whew. 

May I present:

A Knight and his Friendly Dragon

Behold, all rise for Sir Benjamin!!!

I was sewing pillows with my sister-in-law and she left me a few lengths of this gorgeous velvet that turned into the base for Ben's surcoat. 

We bought the sword and made the helmet (foam sheet) and shield (cardboard and poster board)

He's trying to look tough; I didn't have the heart to tell him that he looked like a sad little puppy.

The dragon image is from Freepik and it totally rocks. We used it both on the surcoat and shield. 

 Emma didn't get much of a choice in costume selection this year. I'm sure she'll have a strong opinion when the next Halloween rolls around.

She loves the dress. It's too small, but she loves that it's frilly and flouncy and has a silver belt. So my sure-fire way to get her to like her costume involved incorporating the dress. It..mostly worked.

Actually, we were in the grocery store the other day and ran into a few girls from Emma's old co-op. The elder one proudly announced that she was going to be a princess for Halloween. Emma lit up like a christmas tree, eyes wide, and turned to me: "Emma princess too!!!"

"What about your dragon costume?"


So we compromised: we've been calling it her princess dragon costume. She seems satisfied. 

This is the third costume that has used the navy pilot hat

Emma likes that she can 'wag' the tail.

 The hat is actually a last minute addition. For the past few weeks we've been working on a dragon mask in blue and silver.

But I should have known that masks are not great for toddlers. Especially heavy ones with lots of protruding pieces. Soft felt would have been ok but this one was too much for our little girlie. So we made a quick hat and ditched the mask.

 I'm going to wear it and be the Dragon Queen, along with our little Dragon Princess. 

Can't wait to go trick or treating with these little munchkins. Also can't wait to levy the candy tax on all collected goodies. I hear it's at about 50% these days. Wowza. :)


The costumes adapted from several online resources. 

-Helmet (This one was great! I reduced the size to 87% to fit Ben's head)
-Surcoat and chain mail sleeves  - my own design. 

-Dragon Wings. I read this tutorial, but based the shape on this gorgeous pair from Etsy. Regardless, these were a pain and I will never again sew dragon wings. Or fairy wings. Or anything winged that involves sewing in wire for structural support. 
-Mask. Sort-of based off of this stunning leather creation. Mine was made of paper mache and playdough. We're classy like that. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

News and Reviews

Wednesday! Two more days until the weekend.

Recently we've been able to sneak in some good outdoor exploring before the wet weather officially descends on Sea-Town.

Emma and I discovered some hidden trails at Magnuson. The buffleheads have likely gone south for the winter but the Pacific tree frogs near the ponds were in full chorus. And! The first salmon have started arriving in Carkeek Park! Things are hoppin' round here.

On our Tuesday afternoon outing, Ben proved that it's never too late for dip in the lake. And that rain boots aren't much good after you go over the tops. Science in action.

The kid is five years old and still, it's not a question of if he'll get wet, but when. He's half fish, surely.

Here are a few interesting articles from around the web this week:

Why Doctors Without Borders refused a million free vaccines. 

Marriage after Trump: how couples are no longer voting together. Chris and I just sent in our ballots; we differed on a few local candidates.

Tall people business cards.

An interview with a woman after she had an abortion at 32 weeks.

Ten tips for hiking with reluctant kids.

Do you live in Washington State? You must check out the Stranger's Voting Guide, no matter your political affiliation. It's a hoot. Brace yourself for rough language and belly laughs.

A behind-the-scenes look at how one semi truck moves an entire football team.

The barber that encourages kids to read. 

The fear of having a son (thanks LV!).

A feminist library for your sons and daughters

I am really liking these personalized Lost-my-name books. The illustrations are whacky and I am always a sucker for rhyming story lines. And what kid wouldn't love a book about their name?! Christmas, perhaps? Wish they weren't quite so spendy.

In downtown Santa Ana, some Latino merchants are trying to surf a wave of gentrification. We used to live a few blocks from here, back in our Cali days. We'd go to restaurants and practice our spanish, as it was either that or politely miming our dinner order. I have fond memories of those years. Times, they are a changin'.

RIP Great Barrier Reef.

Would you enjoy a plant-based burger, if it tasted exactly like the real thing? We sent a vegetarian to see if meatless burger can convert carnivores.  I can't wait to try this; I hate that animals have to die for my love of a tasty dinner.

Patient Zero in HIV crisis was misidentified 

Have a great rest of the week.

xo, Sonja

PS: Emma got a new dress from her buddy Audrey.

To say she loves it is a serious understatement. Our little girlie is suddenly obsessed with all things frilly and flouncy. She now refuses to leave the house without some sort of fancy get-up and heaven forbid you try to get pants on under all the frippery.

She rarely has time to sit still for pictures but clearly has endless patience if you offer to photograph her new dress. I love this girl. My stubborn, fierce little daughter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Costume Recap

I am working like a madwoman on halloween costumes. They'll be down to the wire this year.

Here are our costumes from past years.

2011: Chicken (Ben was 10 months old)

 Random tidbit: He won first place in the Seattle Times' annual costume contest. Thanks, Martha.

The (real) chickens were not amused by this faux-feathered interloper.

Halloween 2013: Dinosaur

Halloween 2014: Bird Watcher and Baby Flamingo (Emma made her grand entrance this year)

Whoa our little girlie was as round as a bowling ball. We used to call her Piglet when she was little (lovingly, of course!): all pink, blond, and chubby. Weirdly, Emma is currently completely obsessed with pigs. She goes bananas every time we spot on in her books.

Halloween 2015: Scuba Diver and Tropical Fish

2016: Coming Soon!

Monday, October 24, 2016

What is your talent?

My Dears,

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Hovering on the edge of catching the kids' colds and not enough sleep or exercise. It makes me sluggish and absentminded, which drives me batty.


One of my favorite blogs last week had a post titled: "What do you like about yourself?", which was a lovely article about remembering to appreciate your talents and good qualities. The stuff that makes you wonderfully, uniquely 'you'.

It was a nice reminder not to dwell too long on the negatives. I asked Chris the same question as we were getting ready for bed and it was fun to compare answers.

So here it goes:

I like that I'm moderately adventurous.

I like seeing new places, be it a hiking trail near our house or a jungle temple in a far-flung locale. I'm also willing to try new foods and activities, at least once, provided I don't have a good chance of dying or becoming permanently maimed. The time we went skydiving was almost too big a risk for this ground-loving girl.

Weirdly, I get a lot of pleasure out of thinking about being adventurous too. I will happily spend hours on the computer planning a trip and researching activities for a trip that may be months or even years away. I'm good at that, too. Clearly I need to become a travel agent to combine both my love of traveling with adventure prep. :)

Secondly, I'm creative.

I enjoy designing birthday invitations, making halloween costumes, and assembling photo albums for our family. I like having an outlet for my brain and fingers, given that so much of my time is occupied by house stuff and the demands of high-maintenance bambinos. I wish that I'd gone to school for graphic design as I enjoy fiddling around with websites, fonts, and images.

So, what do you like about yourself? What are you good at?

Bonus: Ask your partner/kid/friend to see what they say and then compare answers.



PS: Emma is adventurous too.