Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pint-sized Party [invitations]

So I’m willing to admit that there is probably no good reason why a one-year-old needs to send out party invitations to her birthday bash,  given that the folks attending are exclusively family members. Especially in this age of email and telephones and other new-fangled devices.

But I unapologetically love cards. The look, the feel, and the excitement of getting real mail in the post box.

Some people watch tv, some read books, some craft beautiful quilts.

I mess around with party invitations.

So here is the invitation to Emma’s wee little fiesta. [Actually there are two. I couldn’t decide.] A few pertinent party details have been removed.

And here is Ben’s invitation. The kids are having joint B-day celebration. Woodland theme.  Ben is in full-on count down mode. Let the party commence!


PS: the artwork on Ben’s card is from the amazing and talented Lynn Costello Erskine of The Pear in Paper. She was wonderful to work with and made Ben a custom print for his wall, in addition to this digital print.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crafty Stuff

Over the past three years my craft area has been significantly downsized. Originally I laid claim to the entire upstairs front room. But the need for bedrooms for the babies trumped a crafty space and we moved everything downstairs to a corner of the guest room.  And now we’re in its present incarnation: a single, solitary table set up in the basement great room. 

You could make the case that this decrease in physical size is directly related to the number of minutes currently available in my life allotted to creative projects. 

As in: very, very few.

And I’m slowly becoming ok with the change. Our life, such as it is right now, is busy with kids. And kid stuff. And kid art projects.  Which definitely shouldn’t be confused with adult art projects.

As the children get older there will be more time for messing about with personal craft and sewing  ventures. And then my husband will discover that by giving me a toehold in the downstairs great room, I’m now perfectly set up to take over the entire room. Craft room domination!!

But I’ll bide my time on that one.

Yesterday I appropriated this empty cabinet for my current setup and kitted it out with shelves. Getting crafty with the power tools, baby. 

On a side note, I am actually quite proud of the fact that I know my way around the garage. Need help with your band saw? I’m on it.  Drill? Chop saw? Tile saw? Jigsaw? Multi-master? We have learned so much in this home renovation.  And I haven’t done this much math since college. Quick! What’s 3/8 + 11/16? 

Anyway, back to the shelf:

The table originally belonged to my great grandfather.  So I forgive it that it tilts a bit. We’ll all be caddywhompus when we’re that old.

The machine is out! Ready to sew! Perhaps when both kids are napping! Which happens exactly never.

Speaking of the machine, that wonderful old piece of equipment belonged to Chris’ grandmother and still works like a champ. Still haven’t figured out buttonholes but it has sewed a few beautiful items for me and I’m grateful to have it.

Anyone want to take bets on how long this will stay so nice, pretty and organized? 

Realistically, I’m aiming for a week.



Sunday, January 18, 2015

From The Blog-O-Sphere

There have been so many interesting articles out there lately so this is one heckofa post. Grab a cup of tea and settle in. Here we go:

You rent the wedding venue. Why not the dress? 

To fall in love with anyone, do this (Thanks A!).

Seattlelites: Big plans for St. Edward State Park in Kenmore

When it comes to daycare, parents want all children vaccinated 
Too rich to get sick?

Seattelites: Don’t go throwing that food in the trash; that be illegal nowadays. 

What guidebooks say about Americans

What a curious lawsuit about eggless mayonnaise can teach us

Son of a geek [tagline: In a world of gender-exclusive e-sports, sexist cosplay shaming, and #Gamergate, how can a nerdy mom protect her son from becoming a misogynistic a-hole?]

The spirit of the 1914 Christmas truce

Offshore faults along the Pacific Coast eerily quiet

Radical like Jesus: women priests in the Roman Catholic Church?

Author urges appreciate of birds where we live and play

We watched this documentary a few weeks ago: Slaying the Badger [The inside story of Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault and the Greatest Tour de France]

What happens to a woman’s brain when she becomes a mother

Tiny plant fossils are a window into the past

What Ruther Bader Ginsburg taught me about being a stay at home dad

Skip the midnight snacks: a 12-hr window for a healthy weight?

Hope you're having a great weekend. We are working away down below in the basement. Things are slowly coming together. The sink is in, we have running water, the cabinets have doors, and the fridge is in place. Tomorrow: toe kicks and backsplash. And trim painting. It never ends. :)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Benisms vol 29

Ben and I are about to make dinner. 

Me: “Hold on, I need to pour myself a glass of wine”

Ben: That is not good growing food. Are you making good choices, Mommy?”

Me: “Uhh. no?”

Ben: “yeah, that’s what I thought”

In other news, Ben has decided to be a policeman when he grows up. He’ll do splendidly, dontcha think?

Laying down the law.

Photo: Bronwen Houck Photography

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Laundry Room Progress

Here’s a picture of the laundry room when we purchased the house. Exposed piping, concrete floors and walls, and a monster leaky sink.

Here is the room, looking in the other direction:

The sink was cracked so we gave it to a guy on Craigslist that was going to use it as a planter. The plastic sink did ok until we were ready to demo the space.

Here we are following the removal of the washer, dryer, and sink. We also tore out the wall between the laundry room and bathroom so new plumbing and electrical could be installed.

We studded out the walls, added a new window, and had the drywall installed. I tiled the floor and we painted the shelving unit white. Side note: the camera’s panorama mode had trouble with my grout lines on the floor. Those tiles are perfectly straight. I just about killed myself trying to get everything lined up perfectly. 

Here’s what it looks like today: blond wood counters and white cabinets. Very Scandinavian, no? We installed the sink on Saturday. Time to add cabinet faces, finish the toe kick, and the backsplash. And then we’re calling this room completed!



Friday, January 09, 2015

Weekend Projects and a few other tidbits

Happy Friday!

This weekend we're getting ready to install the sink in our laundry room. I sanded and oiled the counters yesterday. After that it's cabinet doors, backsplash and then...done! Mostly. 

'Cause you know there are always a few tiny things to wrap up after all the big stuff is completed.

Sometimes we go to a nearby Mexican restaurant that has lots of piƱatas hanging from the ceiling. Ben loves to imagine all the goodies stashed away inside them. He requested that we collaborate on a hedgehog version. It's been a long process, thanks to drastically different visions of the artists. Ben: “MORE GLUE!” Sonja: “LESS GLUE!”. I’ll keep you posted on the finished project. Ben was horrified at the thought of actually destroying little “Hedgie”; he clearly hadn’t thought through the process of how one acquires the interior goodies. 

Emma became reacquainted with snow last weekend. She was not amused.

I found last year's Santa photo from Chris' work party. You'll notice that a)I'm hugely pregnant and b) poor Santa is on oxygen (look at his nose).

And here is this year's picture. We have a new Santa. Sniff. Ben didn't notice though. Too busy reading off his Christmas list of all his requested toys. 

Also, Chris and I are pretty much wearing the exact same outfits as last year. No fashion points for us. He’s lost the mustache though and I’m counting that as a MAJOR win (sorry, darling).

I liked Emma's storage bench so much that I made another one for our entryway from the garage. More pictures to come later. 

Finishing one project and moving on to the next! Basically, I want my bathroom back. Specifically the bathtub. A good book, a steaming hot bath, and a glass of wine. My version of heaven. 

Ha. Who am I kidding? I haven’t done that since I had kids. 

Fine, I want to be able to bathe my kids in a proper bathtub, not a rubbermaid container. Does that count?

 Here is a nice shot of our almost-fully demo-ed shower.  I've got big plans for this wee little space. 

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Travel Diary: Baja, Mexico

Baja is magical.

We found deserted beaches, gorgeous desert hiking, chilly diving, and a waterfall oasis hidden deep within the surrounding foothills.

I cannot wait to return.

We rented a house in the tiny townlet of Cabo Pulmo, home of the Parque National Cabo Pulmo, North America’s only hard coral reef.

Cabo Pulmo is off the beaten tourist track, about two hours from Los Cabos via poorly paved and gravel roads.

Just how we like it.

The main road through town has more footprints than car tracks.

Hiking trails wind up the hills in back of the house through desert scrub and dry river washes.

Our house was a lush oasis in comparison to the surrounding country. Built by an artist, it had shaded decks, private courtyards, and an outdoor shower. Even better, there were separate apartments for my parents and a family friend.

 My father settled in for long hours of bird watching and reading.

Ben and I went adventuring, looking for critters. This is Mexico, after all!

We visited the Sol de Mayo waterfall in nearby Santiago. It’s another long car ride down a dusty dirt track but the pool at the bottom is so worth it.

Warm? No.

Refreshingly brisk, as my grandmother would say.

The coral reef at Cabo Pulmo isn’t especially exceptional. (The recent hurricane probably didn’t help) But the area is known for large schools of fish, manta rays, and sharks.

Time to hit the water.

It was cold! It’s been a while since I’ve donned a 5ml wetsuit. And the visibility wasn’t great either, which is typical in December.

A nice little herd of garden eels.

A sunken ship.

 A few of the ridiculous looking porcupine fish.

Cold enough for hoods. (That’s my Papa)

This is the reason people come to diving the area: big schooling fish. I’ve never been in anything like it. Fish up down, around and around.

Not a bad little dive trip. Sexy wetsuit getup, no?!

We had a nice little Christmas. Ben was a frantic, whirling, present-opening dervish. I’m pretty sure my version of heaven includes Christmas on a beach in an exotic part of the world.

Like this one.

On our last full day we took a trip south to Los Frailes Beach. 

It was packed! (ahem. with sand, not people). Chris and I ogled all the camper van setups on the beachfront campground. We will be back someday. In our wee little camper. I know it.

On the way home we bought dinner from the fishermen at the beach. Ben was so proud of his fish, you’d think he caught it.

We had a late afternoon flight out the next day so we took the long route back to the airport along the coast. Think bumpy dirt roads and empty beaches.

It was seriously awesome. If you like that sort of thing.

Looking for a luxurious hotel room, five star restaurants, and endless shopping? Then don’t venture out from Cabo San Lucas. But if you’re up for a bit more adventure, then the rest of Baja is ripe for exploring.

My parents and our friend Laurie stayed an extra week. They headed north to an island near La Paz, famous for its playful sea lions:

And that, my dears, is Baja. We will be back.