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. 



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Ben got up at 5:45 this morning because he was so excited about 'this special love day'. His teacher did a nice job of facilitating the exchange of cards and even incorporated some heart candy into her math lesson. She also had the kids refrain from opening their bags of goodies until after the school day was over. She ain't no dummy. We were sugar crash central around here [ahem. see the above picture for photographic proof].

I'll admit, I've never been a big VD person. Chris and I usually forget, honestly. This year he came home with a kiss and a wilted rose that he said was from his parking attendant. No joke. I didn't get him anything and we had two cranky kids this evening so it wasn't the most romantic of nights.

But! We actually do have a sitter scheduled for this week and I'm looking forward to a nice dinner and time for some non child-related conversation.

In other school-related news, I sewed this little reading tipi for our upcoming school auction. It was relatively straight forward (but also time consuming) to construct. Let's hope it sells for a lot of moolah. Our Seattle public schools are woefully underfunded and our little school could use the cash.

Have a great rest of the week.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

News and Reviews

Happy Weekend! We are having a lazy few days and it feels lovely after an especially hectic January.

 Our neck of the woods got a slight dusting of snow early in the week which was especially exciting for the bambinos.

We had some neighborhood kids over for a bit of sledding and snowperson-making. They had a blast. And I was happy when school started up again. :)

The Wild Horses of the American West (part 1)

Ten minutes in Lituya Bay (the mysterious tale of a massive wave in a remote Alaska fjord)

Women: You are not equal. I'm sorry. 

What it's like to work (and live) in the White House

How a fugitive smuggler became an environmental hero

A reality show I might actually watch: An indigenous family of women in a new series titled Family Rules

This is how we need to do battle: Canada and Denmark are caught in a whiskey war

Only in the Pacific Northwest: flying eagle drops fish, causes power outage

19 lifesaving tips


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

State of the Union

The president has removed all climate change data from official websites and banned social media accounts and press releases from government environmental and parks departments. 

The National Parks service fights back! Check out their twitter, it's hilarious. 

Also, I needed this laugh yesterday:

See some other great ones here. Photo via Twisted Sifter. 

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!