Monday, April 22, 2019

Parties! Plus, my new, no-meat obsession.

Our little Emma turned 5 a while back and requested an unicorn birthday party. Yesss! I love planning parties that are heavy on the whimsy and bright colors.  Her adorable (and very pink!) customizable party invite can be found here

Emma begged for a treasure hunt. I'm of two minds about the treasure hunts, mostly because they take so much time to create. The kids, however, adore them and they are always a huge hit at parties.

I pulled some of the clues from the internet but most of these are my own creation, made with significant help of an online rhyming app.

Here is a pdf of the clues. 

Each year I am determined to make a fancy lunch and somehow we always end up with our usual (and unimaginative) fruit/cheese/veg spread.  Everyone is guaranteed to find something palatable though so no complaints. 

 Pink cake! I am now an expert at ombre desserts. :)

Cake was followed by Pin the Horn on the Unicorn. 

And another with a similar theme: Unicorn Horn Ring Toss. 

 And that, my dears, was a wrap on the unicorn birthday party.

Ben's party this year was a slightly more low-key event. He picked out a few buddies and we headed over to Red Robin for lunch followed by the Lego Movie 2 at the theater. It was lovely, actually; his friends were very sweet and I think everyone had a good time, birthday boy especially. 

I used this free printable. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Speaking of printables, my sister-in-law had her bachelorette party a few months ago up here in Seattle and I threw together a few cards to go with the gift baskets. I copied the invitation from one online and I can't find it (feeling hugely guilty on that score). The party was a blast; my favorite bit was the electric boat rental we did on Lake Union; highly recommended! We brought along heavy appetizers plus a few bottles of bubbly. The boat is fully enclosed and comes with blankets and a heater. Bonus points for those that can pick out the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat!

Chris and I are still on our no-meat-but-lots-of-seafood meal plan and it's going well, although I occasionally cheat at restaurants. Let's just say that Chris has better self restraint that I.

The other day we sampled the Beyond Meat burger available at Whole Foods and Kroger. Friends, I AM A CONVERT.  We have subsequently learned that everyone has an opinion when it comes to fake meat but I will be a repeat customer. Have you tried it? What do you think?

Speaking of vegetarian staples, this slow roasted tomato and caramelized onion soup is absolutely heavenly and quickly became my go-to lunch this winter. You could easily make it vegan but I usually drape the top of mine with a slice of toasted french bread and gobs of melted cheese.  Adapted from the Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook by Audrey Alsterburg & Wanda Urbanowicz. Trust me, this soup is worth the prep time.

I have a few house projects that I've been working on recently so I'll throw those up presently. It's been a slow return to the world of blogging but I'll do my best to post a bit more frequently.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

What's On Loan From The Library

I've had a few interesting reads lately although they're quite the hodgepodge of recommendations.

Let's dive in.

Bad Blood
by John Carreyrou
Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup The Story of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. I CANNOT believe this was real life it was so crazy. Definitely recommended.

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Series)
by Deanna Raybourn
A lepidopterist living in 19th century England that solves murders? Yes, please. I tore through this series, but then again I'm partial to (odd-ball) strong women protagonists with scientific obsessions.

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy)
by Sherry Thomas
This is a hard book to quantify: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance but not the gloopy sort of romance that leaves you wishing for a heroine with a stiffer spine, stronger self esteem, and better critical thinking abilities. The girl is powerful and the supporting characters are excellent.

Additionally, I also enjoying the author's take on the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, also devoted to strong, smart, odd women. :)

I'm still trying to make my way through Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Good god it's taking forever. Its 832 pages but it's a hell of a slog. I'll get there. Eventually.

Come As You Are
By Emily Nagoski
An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science
This book came hugely recommended by the readers of  the (wonderful) Cup of Jo blog; it's a great read for women (and men that love women). Given the dismal state of proper sex education in our country, Emma and Ben will both be getting a copy when they reach an appropriate age.

Next on my list: Educated by Tara Westover

"Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home."

Anything you've read lately that's good?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Built-in Trundle Bed

Hello! We got back two months ago from our big trip (details of which can be found here) and I promptly set about deconstructing the bunk beds in Emma's room. 

Let me be clear about one thing: I love bunk beds; they are great in small spaces or for fitting multiple people in a room. They make a ton of sense for almost everyone out there. 

But not for me. I had come to loathe these beds. There are two reasons for my extreme disdain:

1. We purchased them under duress on a tight timeline before our trip and I always felt they were too dark and hulking for the room, plus they fit poorly in the weirdly-shaped alcove. 

2. I run an Airbnb and I nearly broke my neck every three days climbing up on that bunk to change the sheets. 

So project Numbero Uno upon returning was to post these babies to Facebook Marketplace, stat. 

Here's a good view of the alcove without the beds. Take special note of that heat register; it would cause me a lot of grief down the road. 

My first task was to paint the room. Over time I've come to regret painting each room a different color; now they're all getting the same basic grey, although we still have a few rooms that haven't quite been brought into the color fold. I am also no longer willing to mess around with painting my ceilings a different color than the walls. Grey from top to bottom. 

Chris painted these walls back in 2010, a few weeks before the arrival of our first child, and three weeks after breaking his hand in Mexico. It was a rough month. 

Post painting, I covered the floor in plastic sheeting and began building. Because we still occasionally post our house on Airbnb, I needed to get the same number of beds in this room: two twins. The plan was to do a regular bed for Emma with a trundle stashed away that could be pulled out for occasional use. 

I began by first building the trundle. 

It's hard to tell in the photos, but that heat register is an inch wider at the bottom than at the top, meaning that the trundle stuck out perilously close to the edge of the alcove. Things were getting tight. I had a scant 1/2" for the trundle faceboard. 

Next up was the main bed frame. I attached the frame directly to the wall studs; this thing is solid as a rock. I also learned that trying to drill through carpet will cause said carpet to unravel 12" across the floor but that's a story for another time. 

Frame plus trundle. Slowly coming together. I used 2x4s for the main frame and 1/2" particle board for the mattress foundations. The outer frame and table top got fancy 1/2" plywood instead of the particle board.  

The trundle is complete. Working on the table top and closet door.

The headboard and footboard got the cottage look: horizontal 1x4s nailed to the frame. 

For the record, I really hate the sanding process. So. much. dust. 

Ben gives it a test run. 

Paint: same grey as the rest of place (Subtle Touch by Behr, which, if you want my honest opinion, has a touch too much purple but it's the color we chose for the upstairs hallway and everything is now following suit. I'm too cheap/lazy to repaint the entire place.). 

The trundle face and closet door get some fancy trim. 

More sanding before the final coat. 

DONE. Hardware and lighting have been added. Closet door has been hung. 

These aren't great photos (dark Seattle Fall days don't help the ambient light situation) but we're scheduled to have updated Airbnb photos done in the next few weeks so hopefully we'll have some pretty pictures to show on the website soon enough. 

In the meantime, our little girl is loving her new big and plotting all the sleepovers she's going to have (haha, sorry kid, not until you're like 14...)

The rest of the room is a little bland, which is partly by design. Airbnb guests don't want a bunch of personalized clutter in their rooms. Fortunately Emma can messify a room in about 3 seconds flat; she is currently asleep with a pile of books, dolls, and legos vying for space in her new bed.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Out and About


The blog is on hiatus as our family is currently on a round-the-world adventure in our little truck camper. We have a travel blog,, where you can read about our latest shenanigans.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Beginning of a New Adventure

Hello Friends, 

We have some news! 
At the end of the June we’ll be packing our truck camper and hitting the road for an extended year-long adventure.
The Plan
We’ll begin by driving into Oregon and California and if all goes well (a big IF, given that we’ll have four people living in a house smaller than a parking space!) then we’ll keep driving south into Mexico and Central America.
And if things go fantastically well then we’ll hit the tip of South America(!!) sometime in January 2018.

Escape Options
Of course there are many variables when travelling with kids, so we’re trying to keep the agenda and schedule flexible. It’s possible that we’ll decide international travel isn’t in the cards and do a loop of the US instead. Or we’ll last two months and then zip back to Seattle in time for Ben to start first grade. 🙂
Chris’ last day at work is June 1. Emma (age 3) will have just finished preschool and we’ll wait for Ben (age 6) to wrap up kindergarten before heading south. We’ve just completed our last round of vaccinations and we’re looking into homeschooling for the coming year. Not surprisingly, we are both excited and nervous.
If you’re interested, we’re hoping to regularly update our travel website Terra Trekkers. We are also on Instagram. The Sweet Seattle Life will be on hiatus until we return. 
If you’ve got kid-friendly travel recommendations for Baja, Mainland Mexico, Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, CR, Panama), and South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina), we’d love to hear ’em!
Sonja and Chris

Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekend Happenings


Summer weather has finally arrived in Seattle and we spent the weekend curled up like cats in the sunshine on the deck, just soaking up that Vitamin D.

We are ready for warm weather!! (But, because we're fickle Seattlelites, we'll be complaining about the hot temps in no time flat).

Ben and Emma went swimming in the lake for the first time this year. They report that it is still freezing, but that somehow didn't stop them from spending an hour playing in the waves with some buddies. These kids are nuts.

Our new favorite outing is to ride down to the ice cream shop in Lake Forest Park. It's 8 miles round trip which gives Ben a nice sense of accomplishment. And if we need a little pick-me-up then we'll stop at my parent's house (half way) for biscuits. I am a firm believer in restoring lost calories through ice cream consumption. :)

Also, please note that these will be the only two selfies I take while riding a bike. It was terrifying and I'm putting it firmly in the category of 'generally bad and unsafe ideas'.

This is a poor photo but word on the street is that someone in our neighborhood raises these ring-necked pheasants and then releases them into the city. (here's a better photo). We see them about every six months and our little eagle-eyed Ben was the one to spot this gentleman on the way to school yesterday. The guys are pretty flashy and it's a hoot for the kids to spy them strolling down the street.

We also have nesting merlin falcons and several coyote sightings so things are hopping in the 'hood from an urban wildlife standpoint. Love this city.

Chris got an early birthday present and we went down to SODO to see the band Passenger. It's been ages since we made it out for live music so it was definitely a treat. They put on a great show; Also: we're old. I double triple checked to make sure I'd brought my ear plugs for the concert; I get cranky when my ears ring after too long at top volume. I need to save what hearing abilities I have left. :)

We also just finished up an (exhausting) two day Wilderness First Aid class at the Mountaineers Club here in Seattle.

Given that we have two diabolical bambinos, we definitely feel more comfortable having some introductory knowledge for treating injuries while hiking out in the woods.

 It was great fun; we also got to play the victim and be gussied up with stage makeup and fake wounds.

Get injured with us? We'll get you packaged up in no time. :)

Here is our hot air balloon crash patient with two broken legs, big bleeds, and facial contusions. He was a champ (and a good sport, given that we had him trussed up like a turkey).

And, last but no least, some articles for you to peruse. There are a few real gems in here. And probably a few duds, too, but you'll have to weed those out for yourself. :)

Did you know that AirBNB now offers experiences, in addition to vacation rentals? Spend a few hours with a local eating your way through their favorite food trucks or exploring their favorite haunts.  I thought this one here in Seattle looked pretty cool. As does this one.

I'm digging these posters from Rebel Girls. I think Em and Ben might still be a little young for the book but the posters are fantastic.

This is an interesting perspective on household chores: You should have asked

My family's slave

Check this box if you're a good person

I was a starter wife

My Uncle told me about this Mother's Day Tradition: Climbing Mt. St. Helens. Looks like a hoot, right?

Illegal Pot Farms Are Poisoning California’s Forests

Another reason to love badgers: their awesome digging abilities!

This article begins tragically but raises some very important questions: Kids vs. No kids

Co-working meets childcare: How this business incubator is supporting working moms. This place sounds almost, but not quite, as awesome as my sister-in-law's Boardroom!

Self driving cars will create organ shortages.  A slightly morbid perspective I never would have considered. 

And last but not least, a little levity: Bike lane hero. Make sure you can hear him singing. 



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March Happenings

Hello! Happy March. 

Things have been humming away here in our household. We are ready for the grey soggy clouds to be replaced by gorgeous Spring sunshine but so far there has been exactly zero evidence of changing seasons with the exception of a few brave tulips.

Ben's class created another auction item, based directly off of this example. Print-making with kindergarteners is a LOT of work but we're pretty delighted with the finished product. 

We took a field trip downtown the other day and Ben's teacher instructed the kiddies to observe the buildings and structures that make up the Emerald City. Seattlelites will notice the Smith Tower, monorail, Great Wheel, Link Light Rail, the Space Needle, the Ballard Bridge, and several of the cranes that dominate our skyline these days. Drop me a line if you know any high bidders. :)

It's been fun to spend time in Ben's class, getting to know the other kids and observing how his days are structured. Mostly it's made me especially appreciative of his teacher. She has a tough job teaching 24 kids with drastically varying abilities and talents; I'm in awe of her abilities. 

For mid-winter break we took a quick trip up to Alaska to visit grandparents.  The kids had a blast sledding and ice fishing, despite the fact that it was seriously cold. Grandpa wins the award for best sport... kids get cranky when the fish aren't biting and the wind is whipping across the lake. 

Remember how I said that I wasn't going to get new furniture until the kids were off to college? Well, I'm having to eat those words right about now. The couches got to the point where they had collected enough stains that it was embarrassing when company came over. 

We did a little makeover. We brought the tv room couch upstairs and got a close-out leather couch from Macy's. We also got a new rug...which is a lot more white than I thought. One glass of spilled red wine is going to be the death of it. 

You can also see the paint job on the fireplace. Here is the original version.

Here are a few articles of interest from around the 'net:

Seattle folk: Let's eat here sometime

Chris loves the band Passenger. And I love this song. 

Swedish supermarkets ditch the sticky labels 

The Sandy Hook promise.