Monday, January 16, 2017

Emma's Birthday & DIY Furniture

Whelp. You win some, you lose some.

We had Emma's third birthday party scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Ben started puking Saturday night.

Last year 300 employees at Chris' work got Norovirus thanks to some tainted food at a company party. Our family was affected by the outbreak and flashbacks from that hellish week made us unwilling to invite our extended family into our home for a potential repeat of that GI agony.

So we cancelled the shindig. Our family was gracious enough to meet us at a restaurant while Ben & Chris stayed home with takeout and movie. Fortunately, Emma was pretty thrilled with Plan B as it involved lemonade, pizza, and presents. And then we went home and ate the cake I'd made for the party. So all was not lost.

And Ben's puke event seems to have been a one time thing, and not the dreaded vicious stomach bug.

As for presents, I had fun this year making her some furniture.

When I was a kid I have very vivid memories of making a doll bed with my dad down in his shop. He'd fashioned a small work bench for me, complete with a mini vice, and tools best suited for small hands. I remember us drawing the template onto the wood and using a jigsaw to cut the headboard. My mom sewed a mattress and pillow.

Since our little girlie had become doll obsessed over the last few weeks, a homemade bed was clearly in order. And a pram, too, of course.

The plans for the pram are here. The bed was my own concoction.

Both fit an 18" doll. Emma is in love. She carts them everywhere and insists that they are positioned next to her each night as she falls asleep.

These two crazies. I love them so.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Happy New Year. Time to get that brain moving.


Hello! Happy New Year! We spent our vacation up in Canada skiing with our extended family. It was wonderful and we're sorry that it's over. But! On with the new year. It'll be interesting, that's for sure.

Do you enjoy brain teasers? When I was growing up we had the board game Cranium, which requires you to solve riddles (and do other tasks) before the buzzer sounds. Here are a few that I remember:

#1: What does this say?   YYURYYUBICURYY4ME

#2: A police snitch came into the station to give information on illegal activity happening in a group of row houses. "Yup, I've been watching them all week" he said "they're making meth on the south side of the street, in the houses addressed as 45, 46, and 47".

"You're lying" snapped the detective immediately. How did the police officer know the snitch was being untruthful?

#3: A boy and his father were in a car accident and rushed to the hospital. "I can't operate on this child, he's my son!!" wailed the doctor upon the arrival of the victims. How could that be?

#4: What occurs once in every minute, twice in every moment, yet never in a thousand years?


#1. Too wise you are, too wise you be, I see you are too wise for me!

#2. Even addresses are on one side of the street, while odd numbers are on the other. Thus House 46 could not be in a row with numbers 45 and 47.

#3. The doctor was the boy's mother.

#4. The letter 'm'

I probably remember the first three so clearly because I never figured them out in time!

Also, here is your fun fact of the day: I only know one joke, and it's one I learned in 5th grade. For the life of me, I can't remember any others. Keep in mind this dates back to approximately 1992.

Here it goes:

"Why don't they allow dogs in the White House?"

"Because they'd pee on all the Bushes and chase all the Quayles!! 

My husband has probably heard it a thousand times.  Gotta love my 5th grade humor.

Here are a few more brain teasers.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Crafty Gifts and Car-trip Ideas

Hello! How are your holiday activities progressing? Drinking plenty of egg nog and eating gingerbread? We've been consuming vast numbers of satsumas this month; I love the food associated with this time of year!

We got our holiday shopping out of the way this week. I have it on good authority that Santa got a little lazy and refused to buy a single roll of holiday wrapping paper. So if you get something from me and it's decorated in HAPPY BIRTHDAY wrap, blame Santa.

I also continued my color-coded wrapping scheme this year. Presents destined for Christmas Eve are wrapped in one type, presents from Santa are wrapped in another, and presents from parents are wrapped in a third colorful (birthday) variation. Makes things less stressful and easier to ID. I have distinct memories of my mom taking a carefully wrapped present and giving it a good shake (listening for tell-tale toy identification sounds), before saying: "well, it could be from Santa....or it could be from us. Who the heck knows."

I did a few some-what homemade gifts for the kids this year. The main one is that I made us all cozy fleece neck warmers. They are SO EASY. Takes about ten minutes. I pretty much wear mine around the house 24/7, because I have horrible circulation and am a walking iceberg. I used this tutorial.

I also did matching PJs for the kids using iron-on transfer paper. We're going with winter woodland animal theme. Clipart here, pjs here (they're nice and soft).

Ben has been begging for a fierce dragon shirt and this was the end result.

Ack, I can't find the original graphic location. I was convinced that I'd purchased it on Etsy but now I'm not so sure.

Who doesn't love Alpacas!? Emma is going to flip. Clipart here. This one also comes with cactuses! Or is it cacti? Regardless, prepare yourself for more alpaca-centric materials here on the blog.

Weirdly, I like that the transferred images appear slightly weathered. It gives it a distressed look that all favorite t-shirts should have.

This time of year I also start thinking about activities to keep the bambinos occupied on car trips or long family dinners.

My kids are ages 2 and 5 so obviously our go-to items have changed over the years but here are a few of our home-run hits.

The National Geographic workbooks and sticker books are some of our very favorites, along with a few select toys (ahem, legos), pads of paper (the binding prevents the pages from getting scattered) and the straw beads.

Also, stickers are our secret weapon. We only made it to the Arctic (and back) this summer because I bought hundreds of stickers that Emma proceeded to stick on every available surface in the truck. It was a total pain to remove them a week later...but so worth it!

For car trips, I transfer everything into re-sealable bags. For this project I pre-cut the strings and added a scotch tape 'needle' on one end to facilitate threading. You can do the exact same project with cheerios or hollow pasta; it's an activity that keeps my kids entertained for hours.

A friend of mine also posted this project on Facebook a while back and it became an immediate hit in our family. It's a lego sheet taped down to a child's lunch tray and it serves not only as a stable building base for lego projects, but also a flat surface for writing (flip it over) and eating snacks. The lip helps to prevent fly-away pieces.

Have a happy holiday, friends! Stay safe and be well.



Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Human Population Through Time

I just ran across this. Fascinating, yes? (ahh, nothing like a good video infographic!)

Best viewed on full screen.

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. 

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.