Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garden Shenanigans

We’ve been trying to make the most of this Spring-like weather and do a bit of work in the garden. At times, the ivy, blackberry, and laurel battles can seem a bit overwhelming but we’re making progress in a few select areas.

Ben’s pumpkins have sprouted. He lovingly drowns them every morning. They’re going to be hardy souls - if they survive their first few weeks of overwatering. 

The raspberry patch was an overgrown mess and I spent a few good hours last month tearing out all the bushes and tilling the soil. This would have been a project better suited to the Fall, when the plants were semi-dormant, but I was a pregnant mess then, with limited digging abilities. Hopefully I haven’t totally killed our summer harvest. Robbie helped me straighten it up and then I dug some holes for a new trellis. In the rain. Welcome to Spring in Seattle!

The first trellis was only five years old but the original 4x4s had completely rotten through. After a bit of research I decided to use the dreaded treated lumber, provided that we bury the ends in concrete.

The thinking is that the chemicals in the lumber won’t be able to leach into the soil, thanks to the concrete, although there still is the issue of run-off. A number of publications argue that treated lumber is acceptable for trellis for a variety of reasons, but mostly because arsenic (the really nasty component) isn’t particularly mobile, typically only moving an inch or two beyond the wood source. I hope they’re right.

 Chris and his dad poured a bit of concrete into the holes and voila! A trellis.

You can see the old trellis laying against the fence. Those posts used to be four feet tall, but were completely rotten from the ground surface down. 

Our raised beds are made of non-treated wood and, although only two years old, are showing signs of significant rot. A real bummer, since treated lumber is definitely a no-no for vegetable beds. 

This trellis has a improved design: it’s offset so that we can have a path along the fence, allowing the harvest to occur from both sides.

Let’s hope for a nice warm summer - the raspberries are my most favorite thing to harvest in the garden!



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Seattle Hikes: Paradise Valley Conservation Area

My Dears,

We tried a new little hike today in the Paradise Valley Conservation Area outside of Woodinville. From our house in North Seattle (zip code 98125) it was a 30 minute drive. Not bad.

It must be Spring; the trillium are blooming.

The key to keeping Ben moving? Snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. 

According to the Snohomish County website, this 793 acre park is home to the headwaters of the Bear Creek Watershed and is primarily composed of forests and wetland areas. It is also home to one of the most productive salmon streams in the Sammamish River System. The park is open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.

Thanks to our 72 degree weather, this park was hopping. We got the last spot in the lot. Unlike Lord Hill Regional Park, this space was primarily dominated by mountain bikers, which made us a little leery, given the unpredictable nature of the smallest member of our group. 

There are trails that are hiker/horseback rider only, although you have to walk for a bit on the main  trail before reaching the specific-use trails.

Next time we might try to park at the southern end as it affords closer access to those non-biker trails. We’ll keep you posted. It’s definitely worth checking out. We’ll be back.

If You Go: Paradise Valley Conservation Area:

23210 Paradise Lake Road
Woodinville, WA 98072
Trail Map
Website: Here.
Cost: Free.

Tips: Porta potty at trailhead. 

Emma: Three Months

Three months. Our little girl is three months old.

I mentioned previously that I’m struggling with the fact that our Emma, our last child, is no longer a tiny babe. It’s bittersweet.

I’m more alert this time around and more cognizant that time is slipping away. I miss these early days, and they’re not even over yet. It’s a funny feeling. Like I’m mourning their passing as they go strolling on by, like drummers in a marching band.

On the mornings that Ben is in preschool I find myself holding her in my arms, long after she has fallen asleep; watching as she smiles and snorts, enjoying some dream that I can only guess at. Later, I bring her into our big bed and she kicks frantically, trying to scooch closer. I kiss her on the nose and she goes cross-eyed as she tries to focus in on my face. And when I tickle her belly she smiles and smiles, and does her little happy gurgle. Oh darling, to be your mother is a joy.

This is how you look at the world, with wide-eyed, happy wonder. Oh to be a child again.



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Seattle Activities: Urban Nature Fair


I hope you are in the middle of a great weekend. Last night Ben had a sleepover at his grandparent’s house so we celebrated with dinner out at Elliot Bay Brewhouse and a movie (The Butler - highly recommended). This morning we slept in until 7 am (!) and made a big breakfast, reminiscing about how relaxed life was prior to having kids.

I love ‘em... but I also miss the quiet and slow pace of life. It reminded me of this article:

Having a baby is like losing your leg and winning the lottery. Winning the lottery does not make it OK that you're without your leg, but it does give you enough of a distraction that you don't completely lose your mind. Yes, your leg is missing, but you're on a yacht. 

Later in the morning we went down to Magnuson Community Center for a little Caspar Babypants, Seattle’s most famous toddler balladeer, and the Urban Nature Fair.

Ben was in heaven: animals, toys, and tattoos.

Bunny in a snuggie. What a brilliant idea. This was part of the animal encounter exhibit. Also on hand: eagles, owls, falcons, reptiles, and a baby wallaby. The wallaby was riding around in a custom pouch worn by his caretaker. It was pretty darn cute.

Not surprisingly, my mom made a beeline for the insect display. Can you blame her? Take a look at these specimens:

Definitely something to add to the calendar for next year.



Foster Island Trail, Seattle

Seattle has some special urban parks and one of our very favorites is Foster Island and the adjacent Arboretum. Despite its close proximity to the 520 bridge, this little slice of marshy land is home to fish, turtles, frogs, and many species of birds.

We like to drive to the old MOHAI parking lot (also called the East Montlake Park) and start our walk from there. You can also approach from the Arboretum side and park in the dirt lot on East Foster Island Road.

This is definitely a fair weather hike and it always helps to come wearing your waterproof wellies, as the trail is soggy, even on the best of days. Major props to the kid that decided to improve the trail with several tons of bark for his eagle scout project - it’s significantly less muddy today than it was six month ago.

Foster Island is a great hike for kids due to the many bridges, docks, and wildlife viewing opportunities. It’s also a nice place to spot baby ducks in the late spring.

We like to bring a picnic and camp out on Foster Island proper; there are a few tables/benches, and plenty of grassy areas near the water. Boats passing through the Montlake Cut will zip by directly off the point. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a front row seat for Husky crew practices.

Our little bobble head baby. 

Ben, sitting in his ‘nest'

If You Go: Foster Island Hike

Distance: 1 mile, roundtrip
What to Bring: waterproof boots, lunch
Cost: Free

Tips: No restrooms on Foster Island. The condition of the trail depends on the amount of recent rain and the level of Lake Washington. 
Another way to access the area: renting a canoe from the UW Waterfront Activities Center (summer months only). Parking in the UW lot is free on Sundays. 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Projects: Master Bedroom Headboard Update

Our headboard got a little facelift last week:

You’ll remember this it looked like this for several years (here is the tutorial for a headboard made from an old door):

And this, when we first moved in:

I taped up some paper that I had on hand but decided that it was a bit too much aqua. 

So we went with silver circles on a purple background. The paper is from PaperSource. I got out my trusty bottle of ModPodge and viola! Twenty minutes later an entirely different look.

Now...what to do with that huge blank wall above the bed?



Saturday, April 05, 2014

Seattle Activities: Lord Hill Regional Park

Seattle Peeps! Spring is upon us! It’s time to shake off the winter blues and head out into our gorgeous Pacific Northwest countryside.

One of our favorite kinda-close-to-Seattle hikes is a jaunt through Lord Hill Regional Park outside of Monroe.

This 1,500 acre preserve is a veritable plethora of swamps, forests, and streams. Best of all, it’s a mostly flat area so the little tykes don’t get too tired. There are also several routes so it’s fairly easy to find a trail that is suitable for your family’s hiking ability.

We’re especially partial to the Beaver Lake Trail as it affords a good mix of streams and forests.

Our wee babe, snuggled up close; she snoozes for the entire walk. The trails are wide and flat; an ‘all-wheel drive’ stroller like a BOB could probably handle the main routes quite easily. 

We’ve nixed the hiking backpack in favor of Ben’s own two legs. Getting this kid out and running is definitely a priority for our family on the weekends.  Chris also serves as a mode of transport when our kiddo runs out of steam. Or comes to the end of his beef jerky supply. 

This is a designated equestrian park so it’s quite common to meet horses on the trail. There is also a private stable that abuts the ranch and we usually end our walk with a visit to the animals. Sheep and donkeys also occasionally graze in pastures near the parking lot. 

There are two additional parks in the area that we’ve been itching to visit: Heirman Wildlife Preserve and Paradise Valley Conservation Area. We’ll let you know how they compare to Lord Hill.



If You Go: Lord Hill Regional Park

12921 150th St. SE
Snohomish, WA 98290

Parking is free. There is no entrance fee. Porta potty located at the park entrance. Can be buggy in the early spring.

Sundays are our favorite day to visit the park; there are also fewer events on that day as well.

The lot will be busy but is rarely full, except on days when the park is used for races. Check the website to make sure if you’re not attending on an event day. If you do show up and it’s mobbed, it’s often less crowded if you access the park via the equestrian parking lot.