The solo trip to Santa Fe was amazing. I will post more photos and write about all the inspiring sights, funny experiences, and wonderful food soon—but right now I'm going to unpack and take a vacation from my vacation. Thanks for all the tips!
The solo trip to Santa Fe was amazing. I will post more photos and write about all the inspiring sights, funny experiences, and wonderful food soon—but right now I'm going to unpack and take a vacation from my vacation. Thanks for all the tips!
We had a lovely time in Sunriver, Oregon recently. There were no swan encounters. We saw one, but she was not aggressive with us. There was lots of bike riding, swimming, and canoeing. We like to go after school has started—it much quieter at the pool and on the ike trails. There is this magic quality to the light during early September. It's not quite fall but not summer either.
Delia started knitting hand warmers while we were there. Super easy, no pattern. I will show it soon. She knit a swatch long enough to fit around her wrist, counted the stitches then knit a flat piece with a little ribbing at the top and bottom. She sewed it up, making a tube, and left an opening for a thumb hole. She's finished one, and wears it. Just the one. It's black yarn with reflector thread in it so it glows in the dark. Perfect.
Sarah Neuburger, my dear friend and the genius behind The Small Object is retiring her stellar ready-made rubber stamp line. This created a small panic in our house. I looked in every box and drawer to make sure we had them all—now is the perfect time to snatch them up! They are 50% off until she no longer has any left. Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking suffers. You can find them here! They are selling fast, so some of these might not be available anymore.
I love fish tacos. I sometimes forget this and then when I remember I get excited because they are so easy to find. They remind me of pizza—there is much variety and quality in this one dish. Fancy, fusion, good, bad, bad in a good way, so-so, and gross. They pop-up in unlikely places, which makes them even more exciting and at times questionable. Recently, I had 3 different fish tacos three days in a row (I only thought to photograph these two) and I felt the need to start this ridiculous yet delicious project.
These aren't really reviews of fish tacos exactly, more like descriptions. I can't really give them stars. That would be too difficult to figure out. I try to avoid any that are terrible, but when it comes to fish tacos, I'm not very picky. I find my enjoyment of a fish taco is directly proportional to how hungry I am when I'm eating them. I love how small they usually are, so I can grab one as a snack. I've had so many around town I thought I'd start to list them and take photos for fun because it's a blog so, you know, I can write about fish tacos.
Now, when I am out and about if I can find a fish taco nearby (especially if it's new to me) I feel I have completed a special mission. My family is patient and supportive. As I eat my fish tacos, I will add them to my new fish taco category. These are all in Portland unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to add your favorites in the comments.
These salmon fish tacos are from Fishbox, which is a cart on Belmont. They were delicious, spicy and very good. I do like corn tortillas better than flour, that's my only quibble. Maybe they can make them with corn tortillas, I didn't ask. I think this was grilled or blackened salmon. And I did say spicy, didn't I? These are a fusion type thing—I think some wasabi was in there. I liked them a whole lot, but the spiciness of the sauce kind of overpowered the salmon taste. Pete got the salmon sandwich which he said was amazing. 8/2014
These Baja fish tacos came from Salvador Molly's and they were very filling and tasty. They were so filling I couldn't eat the rice and beans. They have battered fish with a garlic-lime aioli crema and picked onions. They were very good, but heavy. I felt a little sad later, but I think that's because I don't do well with fried food in general, no matter how often I try to deny it. 8/2014
I have been getting some questions lately from local people and online about how we pick our themes and how we learn about them together with multiple ages. I received this e-mail a bit back, which has better wording than I have right now in my brain, so I'm going to just quote it—
" . . .I was wondering if you could share a little about how you and your daughters choose topics to study. I'm homeschooling a 9 year old and an almost-4 year old and I think it would be a lot easier if we did some multi-age unit studies together; rather than two separate "grade levels" at once. For instance... Do you just ask your kids what they're most interested in or do you choose? Where/how do you go about picking resources? How do you move on to the next topic? . . .you seem to be able to engage your children of different ages at the same time under whatever topic you're studying . . ."
This is such a huge subject that I sat with this e-mail unanswered for over a month. I mean, I can just tell you what we do— we lay around on the couch, bounce ideas off each other, pick themes. Some seem to be good, others not as exciting. I usually have a few suggestions based on books I have already found about a theme. Then we pick one and just go for it. They never argue about it. I don't know why. I think it's because they know we don't know what we will find; it's a treasure hunt and they are curious to find out what it's all about. Plus, they trust that if it's not super engaging, we will move on. They aren't worried about getting bored. The process usually takes about 4 minutes. My research is ongoing. I often have squirreled away books and lists for theme ideas that I know have really good material. Sometimes I have no clue what we will find and that is fun, too. We tend to focus on people to start the themes, not abstract theories or events. Issac Newton and Florence Nightingale lead us to the theory of gravitation and the Crimean War. We also like mash-up themes, like Picasso and cheese. I write a bit about this process in various posts in the learning section of this blog, but it's kind of buried in the posts and the comments.
We all work on these themes together, but the ages and personalities take them in different directions. When learning about Emily Dickinson, Sadie (11) loved reading her poems over and over, and I think even acted them out in her room, but I'm not sure. The door was closed. Delia (9) was really into the bookbinding that Emily did and started down that road and Lydia (7) loved Emily's botanical research and explored flower and plant pressing and identification. We started all these topics together, but then each girl went off down their own path, which I helped them with individually for several weeks. The paths would wind and change and I would just change with them. This whole time I was reading aloud her poems and a historical fiction book with a young Emily Dickinson narrator.
I was telling someone the other day (my mom, or husband?) the specific theme we decide on isn't terribly important for us. Choosing themes is fun, but it's the surprises when we start researching that is so exciting. Many of our favorite themes that we stayed on for months were unexpected—like Dickens, or Mythology. And who knew about Mozart's wildly talented sister?
I have no idea what will grab them at first, and neither do they, but they know it when we discover it and it just takes off. I just have to be ready, recognize when it happens and respond with resources, supplies, and most of all, energy. I feel a little like a juggler, but not in a bad way. I don't worry about having them remember all the details of a theme. Teaching them to learn, that's my goal, and that seems to be what works best for all of us. Having said that, they all love to be "tested" on dates and hard details, which cracks me up and is so NOT what I thought they would want to do. But I'm so glad they told me. They are proud of what they learn and like to have a sense of mastery before we move on to a new theme. We usually just do this verbally, sometimes written, and there is much fanfare. There might be a time when the girls will want to run with a theme just by themselves, completely separate, and that will be fine, too.
Right now we are learning about the Russian Revolution and Anastasia. I found a ton of books from the library and looked online a bit. We were just finishing up watching Fiddler on the Roof, which gave me the idea for this theme. Yesterday, after printing out images for our wall where we put our theme photos, they got obsessed with the history around Fabergé eggs, so we are learning about that this week and making eggs and I am trying to gather materials for that. When I suggested Anastasia, I didn't have a Fabergé egg component in mind, but here we are and it's awesome.
They are all different in the way they learn. Sadie is all about data and lists, so she is making her own Fabergé book with all the images she can find and classifying them with the dates, titles, descriptions, etc. Delia and Lydia want to make their own eggs, and are interested in jewelry making. There are books on making Fabergé-style eggs, and I think it might even be covered in an old Martha magazine? I'm pretty sure it is. I need to look this up.
During all this I am reading to them both non-fiction and fiction about the Russian Revolution, in bits and pieces and threading it all together. I keep touching base with the theme we are studying and also reminding them of what we have already learned historically and how it's related to WWI, and I connect how Downton Abby season 1 and 2 was around this time, and what was happening here in the US in 1917. They are well versed in all the historical American Girls, and this is Rebecca's time, whose family came from Russia.
When we are done with a theme (sometimes a month, usually 2-3 months) we keep all our images and projects in a big blank sketch book, so they can flip through it and talk about what they remember from each theme, which is pretty great. We have been homeschooling always and doing more formal themes like this for over 5 years now, so there there's a lot in these books to look at.
One thing that really helps them connect with this material is starting with a story rather than just facts. Historical fiction plays a big role here. For instance when we talk about Thailand now, they all remember the book we read about the little girl in a refuge camp, which made a huge impression on them, even if some of the details of Thailand are forgotten.
This is only a slice of what we do during the day. They have a lot of free time dancing and reading on their own and playing music, working on their own projects, often from our theme ideas. I realize the question was about picking themes, not about what our day is like, but, of course it's all related so it's hard to extract one part. This process was a little different for us when they all were younger, but I have always used books as a starting point—various fiction, all the American Girl historical books, and when they were really little, The Magic Treehouse series and the corresponding research guides. I still read those with Lydia and she loves the research guides especially.
Okay, I know this is long. I'm going back in the tent now, which has been up in our backyard for a few days. There's something pretty great about 3 kids and a pug in a tent.
I stitched this birthday gift for a friend recently. I am 99% done with my latest cross-stitch, but I needed a break. I used Renaissance Dyeing wool thread on linen fabric, backed with muslin. It's my own design, a bunny perched on top of a huge strawberry. Right after I finished this piece I saw these small animals stitched by Chloe Giordano, and oh my word. She uses thread. Sewing machine thread. You have to look.
I finished Greensleeves, which came up on the Secret Book post, and loved it so much. It's very hard to find this out-of-print book and it's such a good read, I'm going to loan it out to any of you who want to read it. It's already headed to someone, and I hope to get in back in a couple months, so if you are interested and don't mind waiting, I will put you on the list. Just e-mail me. It would be super swell if you want to add some notes/thoughts in the back, or maybe we can have a small book to write in to go along with it? Or a sheet of paper tucked inside? We can make it like a traveling book group. Tia, I didn't mention this when I sent it your way, so let me know what you think. I have also attached a book loan check-out pocket with a stampable due date. This is a high school library copy, so has it has it's own pocket and date-stamps from 1969 on up, which is charming to look at and ponder about all the high school kids that read it.
I am close to finishing this cross stitch project. the pattern is by Stacy Nash Primitives and it's called Basket of Flowers Pinkeep. I want to get back to some crewel work. I have enjoyed doing this, but I get a little twitchy when I stitch so many X's.
I'm reorganizing (mostly down-sizing) my craft/sewing room, focusing on the two huge bookshelves. It's taken two weeks, but I am almost done. I plan to "shop my craftroom" for the next year (I could for probably do this for 5 years) and try to lay-off adding more craft books and supplies, now that I can see and organize what I actually have. It feels good, but it was so hard to stick with it—I was willing to do anything to avoid working on it, including cleaning out the fridge and the freezer.
I am almost done with Greensleeves, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. It's so good, I am loving every page of it. This book was mentioned a few times in the comments of my Secret Books post, and I was so happy I found a copy, because it seems pretty hard to find. My mom (Grammie) actually met Eloise and owned signed copies of her books. Who knew? Grammie was a newspaper reporter and editor, and so was her mom, so it's hard to keep track of all the Portland people they all knew over the years. She didn't have a copy of this book, however. I found one at good ol' Powelll's books.
This morning I had my figs with ricotta, honey and pistachios. Delicious. I love this combination so much, but searching for fig recipes on Pinterest has given me many other ideas.
Some random links:
We are in full summer mode in Portland now, with lots of hot days and we are feeling it! We have no AC. We live in the shade, so it's not so bad, and I love actually feeling the seasons. This is what I tell myself at 6pm and it's not possible to think about cooking and I'm starting to have a mommy moment.
These internet items are making me so happy:
Sadie is very into stats and lists filled with lots of characters and detailed information. She has made her own trading cards and they are so creative and have such a wonderful handmade charm, I was almost reluctant to show her this very handy and easy to use Trading Card Creator. It's pretty great and she is very interested. I like that there are different questions to fill in based on what you choose to make the card for— people (real or fictional) places, events, concepts, or totally custom. They are easy to print, and are double sided with more room for information on the back. This makes her happy, because even though she has microscopic and tidy handwriting, the typing allows her to fit in even more information. And it is free, along with other good resources and ideas on this site, ReadWriteThink. This will be really fun to use for our themes, too. We are working on Brontë Trading Cards now. Hooray internet! Lydia wants to make some Goat Trading Cards, which will obviously be amazing.
I'm sending a big warm and fuzzy internet hugs to all of you who told me of your secret books. I was blown away, and got really emotional about it. I'm working on an art piece now, using all the covers I could find printed very small. It was so amazing to read about all your secret books, most of which are new to me. Thank you so much! I put the whole list on Goodreads (a great place to easily see all the covers) but can't figure out how to make that shelf public yet. If I can I will export the list of all the titles so I can post them all here.
We lucked out with the weather last week at the Oregon coast. We stopped at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which was so picturesque and interesting. They have an interpretive center and a guided lighthouse tour which was excellent. On Agate beach nearby, the dunes were forming which is always fun. The pug was very excited by the dunes. I got a bee in a bonnet about making crafts from collected driftwood. The girls liked this project in theory, but in reality, they were busy running around and digging in the sand. Liddy made this frame with simple thread wrapping. I used string and a small hand drill for mine.
We just returned from an amazing week on Orcas Island, in Washington. It's not all that far from Portland, but a lot of travel time. A drive from Portland to Anacortes, then an hour ferry ride. We didn't miss the ferry in either direction. If you drive on, they fill up fast, so they are easy to miss, which can set you back hours. We stayed over a night north of Seattle to break it up and also stop at the American Girl store.
We stayed in a house about 4 minutes from Moran State park, which was a nature Disneyland. Lakes and hikes, camping and falls, and then more hikes. It was breathtaking. The weather was perfect the whole week, sunny and no rain. Orcas Island is really down to earth. It's a resort town and that's in it's history, but it isn't kitschy or tacky at all. For local people, it's more like Manzanita, not like Seaside.
In town, Eastsound, we found an amazing bookshop, Darville's Bookstore, delicious chocolates, Kathryn Taylor Chocolates and a bakery, Brown Bear Bakery that made me cry a little it was so good. There was a brand new furniture shop (it was open air, and just stunning) with amazing pieces made from local wood— Orcas Workshop. The Orcas Island Historical Museum was excellent, and they had a local vintage quit show up that was very moving, with researched information about the quilters.
We sea kayaked (all 5 of us) at Deer harbor—we loved our Shearwater guides, they were a great company to work with. We saw 3 herons, a harbor seal, and 2 eagles.
I could have posted about 100 more photos. It was such a great place for a family vacation. I think in the summer it gets pretty busy and the ferries can be a nightmare, but off season, like now and fall, it's idyllic. It was so beautiful and calm and relaxing yet exciting I felt like were were in a movie version of a vacation. Like the deer in our from yard eating mushroom was fake. But it wasn't. The girls found sea glass and are planning to make jewelry from it.
This island is so well documented, history wise, it made learning really fun. There are some fabulous old structures still standing, lots of historical photos and books about Orcas, and all the hikes and the state parks had lots of posted information about the local plants, wildlife and habitat, and there's a large amount of history on the construction of Moran State Park which was built during the 1930s.
This last photo documents how weird it gets on roads trips on the way home. Pete ate it, and said it was good.
For Mother's Day (and again for my birthday) I received some chocolate from Pete. He bought them at Cacao in Portland, a wonderful little shop selling fancy chocolate bars and delicious drinking chocolate. I loved everything shown here. I am a huge fan of dark chocolate but find most of it too chalky. I like the taste, but not the texture. These are all so smooth and wonderful to eat—the Patric being my favorite. It is so sophisticated and has so many flavors in one bite. I just loved it. He talked with the sales folks quite a bit and they told him these were all delicious and they were right.
I finished the kit from Tristan Brooks Designs a bit back and have it up on our needlework wall. It was a great project. I have since started another crewel work project and then got agitated and took a break from it. I was using different wool thread and fabric than what I had used in the two kits and the materials are vexing me. I don't think I will scrap it, but I do need to give it a rest. I am now onto a new cross-stitch project and it's going well.
Sadie finished her first Calendar Girl from Little House Needleworks.
She collects these patterns and I wasn't sure if she'd be up for doing a project with this many stitches, but she went for it. There was some frustration but she stuck it out and I'm so proud of her. And she is of herself. She keeps saying she can't believe she finished it. She has since finished two quick and small projects to avoid burnout. I'm not sure if she will do another calendar girl, now that she realizes how long they take.
My mind kind of broke (again) in researching samplers. I discovered darning samplers, which I never knew existed and I can't even look at the pinterest board I found for more than 5 minutes before I get overwhelmed. I haven't even scrolled down to see what is on there, I'm still stuck on the top few rows.
On the sidelines
A Ghostbuster with Slime
A pug as a Tauntaun
A small Minion
We went to the Oregon Humane Society 2014 Pug Crawl last weekend and it was amazing. The costume theme this year was Comic Con. Angie (our pug) and Toaster (my mom's pug) went for simple matching capes in fake fur with red initials. All the above photos are from the Crawl. There were easily over 100 pugs there. They all had the same look on their face and were not too excited by the rain. There were only 2 barking pugs, and somehow one of them was not Toaster. We had to leave before we could do the crawl— torrential rain, thunder, and the threat of lightning was too much so we ran to the nearest cafe for hot cocoa and laughed at this great link from my mom, which I now can't find but is similar to this one, which is also very funny—35 naughtiest dogs.
I started another crewel kit I found in my stash of supplies. This one has been so much fun. It's made by Tristian Brooks Designs and it comes with everything you need except the hoop. I love being able to use different threads. For my first kit I used Appleton thread, which I liked, but hadn't used anything else to compare it to. This kit comes with Heathway crewel wools, Gumnut Poppies (silk/wool blend), and Pearsall’s silk. I have been pretty immersed in reading and learning about threads, fabrics, and stitches for crewel. I also have been assessing my thread stash and needlework organization and wanting to clean up and clear out and display some items that are so lovely to look at.
Two days ago I had what my Mom calls a "Hello Kitty freak-out" when I rediscovered the Sajou webite. I had known about Sajou and bought (from a now closed needlework shop) a really amazing book by the historical company years ago, but hadn't really gone back to look at what they had in they last few years, and when I did my brain kind of exploded.
The complete catalog is online and there looks to be a few distributors in the US that carry some of these items. The sewing boxes got me all twitchy as did the scissors, ribbons, wooden supplies, and thread holders. I don't even know what to buy, I just had to look at the catalog for hours. This is what my mom was talking about. When I did have my "Hello Kitty freak-out" I was about 9 and found a Hello Kitty store and couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't actually buy anything, I just had to look. For hours. And she let me. She just sat and waited, telling me there was no hurry. I finally calmed down, and then left, empty handed and exhausted. She didn't say a word and was amazing.
Oh, this is turning into an unexpected Mother's Day post!
Speaking of my wonderful Mom, (Gayle Karol of Tilie Studio fame and known as Grammie on this blog) she is having a quilt show at Modern Domestic and the opening reception is next Saturday May 17th from 1-3. I will write about this more soon. I can't wait. Her quilts are so stunning in person.
We had 3 amazing days last week, one was in the low 90˚s and the other two were in the 80˚s and the town went crazy. Now we are back to rain and the mid 60˚s and have forgotten all about it. I wore head to toe wool yesterday.
Delia finished her first needlepoint recently. She was happy doing cross stitch but when she saw me try needlepoint, she was eager to start. She chose this pattern from a book and picked out her own colors, and off she went. She's now back onto another cross stitch project and heavy into making rainbow loom charms. She learns them from this you tube channel, Made by Mommy.
I recently went to Frice Pastry, an amazing bakery new to me, and was so happy I made the stop. I found quite a round up Portland bakeries over at Under the Table with Jen. I am glad to see I've been to almost all of them, but there's a few I still need to check out. Research! It's a great list.
I ate this at Frice and took home many other items. This was so amazing, but I can't remember the name of it. I bought another to take home to Pete. It's got an almond filling with a puff- pastry crust. it's not too sweet and the texture is as light as air.
We went to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm over the weekend and the tulip fields were amazing.
There were plenty of other activities as well. You can go just for the tulips (parking is $10) but everything else—the food and activities, add up real fast. Zip lines, paintball archery, rock climbing, and this crazy jumping thing. The hippie in me wanted a little less of all this extreme un-tulip like activity and a little more nature craft, but the girls had a blast. Watching people totally eat it on the the mechanical bull was very funny.
Angie thought it was lovely.
This was a quick knit made with malabrigo rasta. I used 17 needles and knit a big rib until I ran out of yarn and then seamed it up. It's a belated birthday gift for a dear friend who lives in a climate that is too warm for this right now. But, you know, It was so fun to work on. Mindless and huge. It was a nice change from my needlepoint that is tiny and a bit eye straining.
It's poetry month!
We have been reading a lot more poetry around here the last few weeks, and I didn't even know poetry month was coming up. Recently, the girls and I have been reading these wonderful postcards from MIEL evey morning, discussing the artwork and the text written on them. There is something magical about the words not being in a book, but on a cards, to pass around and study closely. I show some photos of these postcards here. We also still use this book.They want to write some poems on small cards and leave them in public places, which I fully support.
I found myself spending a lot of time on Poets.org. It's a huge site for writers, readers, and educators. I signed up for the poem-a-day (which is e-mailed to me) and I love it. It sends me poems I would have never found on my own.
Pete and I saw the Grand Budapest Hotel last night and were thoroughly entertained. The images, especially in the first 10 minutes, were so beautiful. I wanted these images up around me all the time, so I printed out my own postcards on matte photo paper to put up around my desk. Google images has a ton of lovely stills from the movie, including this amazing grouping of ephemera which has me all excited. I opted not to print a postcard of Harvey Keitel's excellent tattoos, although Pete wanted me to.
Hotel related—I laughed out loud when I saw the videos at the end of The Rumpus Interview with Jacob Tomsky. They are at the bottom of the interview. I haven't read his book, Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, but it's on my list and it looks really good in that cringe-y way. When I was doing commercial interior design I worked on a lot of hotels and heard a lot of crazy stuff from the managers, and even crazier stories from the staff. I almost don't want to read this.
Pete had a birthday last week and we made him a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. I used my go-to cake recipe from my PDF that I have on my fridge.
For the frosting, I used a half-batch of this recipe. Next time I'll add a little salt to the frosting. The peanut butter I used was a natural creamy kind, which is very tasty but needed a little salt to balance how sweet this frosting was. This cake was very well received with a little vanilla ice cream on the side. It's super-rich and wonderful, a little goes a long ways. I didn't have any peanuts to garnish the top, so some raw sugar got sprinkled on instead for a nice crunch.
It felt so good to finish my first color work project, this fair isle hat. There are a ton of mistakes in my chat reading, but I love it anyway. If you repeat a mistake enough times, it's a design feature, right?
I'm back onto Cypress now, I project that has been on hold for about a year. I am having fun getting back into it. I'm not sure if I will wear it, it's a bit hobbit for me and I only feel hobbit about 15% of the time. I'm thinking it might look nice with a sheer blouse under to lighten the look a little. Then I'm onto this Icelandic sweater, which will be epic for me.
I have been exercising a lot lately, I was during the holidays—and then got sick and took a break. I have started up again and feel so much better. This exact time last year I had a horrible herniated disk and was helping Grammie though awful chemo treatment and I just remember how hard it all was physically and emotionally. It all feels very different this winter. I feel so grateful everyday to have my body back—strong and healthy, and that Grammie is doing better.
I have been doing cardio every other day, but was nervous to go back to yoga, because so much of what I do involves bending forward, which isn't good for my back even now. I got a tip from a few friends about Barre 3 online workouts and love it so far. I signed up for the 15 days for free deal. I do the 10 minute workouts in the mornings and they make me pretty shaky, in a good way. I plan to tack on a 10 minute workout in the evening, but so far I haven't. I was doing the 7-minute thing but I do worry about injury and the micro movements of the Barre 3 workouts just feel a little safer for the way I move. I also tend to get in laughing fits with the 7-minute workout thing if anyone is in the room, which they usually are. This is why I don't take classes at a gym. When I have, with friends, it's pretty disruptive. I just can't keep it together at all.
I made some chocolate-chip scones and raspberry-cardamon-oatmeal muffins last weekend for a brunch date. Fruit and almonds were on the side along with coffee and juice. The scones were plain, I just added chocolate chips to the dough and cinnamon-sugar on top. For the muffins I used plain white flour, but I decreased it by 1/2 cup and added 1/2 cups oats, about a cup of frozen raspberries, and about 1/4 teaspoon cardamon. Not too much of that spice— I love it, but the kids don't. Well, they do, but only in small amounts. These muffins were a winner for sure. I was going in to use whole wheat flour for both of these baked items, but got all crazy and went for the white flour because it was a brunch date. I'm living on the edge.
Two things made me laugh out loud over on the Rumpus this week-
I read a lot of Pema (too much?) and I thought this was so dang funny.
The Ted Wilson column makes me laugh really hard every time I read it. I usually read it out loud and never know when I will crack up and lose it and have to stop reading but I always do.
I just made these cookies from the MSL site. I had seen the video and noticed almond paste was called for. I love jam cookies and love almond paste, so if I can combine them, I will. I used to make these, without the almond paste, and called them Ribbon Cookies. These are called Jamaretti Cookies. I'm not sure what I think of this name. Is it made up? It sounds like a jam band name. Jamaphonics. Actually, Jamafonx. Like maybe from Eugene.
Oh wait!! it's jam and amaretti combined! Okay, I get it now. Anyhoo, they are delicious.
As a family we have figured out a system that works for us for giving during the holidays—we adjust it every year, but the framework is the same.
We don't try to do this all by Giving Tuesday, but fit it in all month. We all talk about it at dinner, usually it starts to come up before Thanksgiving. It's becoming a really special tradition, which makes us very happy. I'm sure it will change, too. As they get older, they may want to help more on their own, and individually choose how and where to help, but right now, the family effort fits for us and using this system stops my spinning brain and my over-researching tendencies.
I have had a bee in my bonnet about making these for about 2 weeks now. I was looking at the Martha Stewart December 2012 magazine and saw these centerpieces. I would link to it, but the MSL site is making me crazy rght now. They are called Glittered Tree Stumps on the site. I have had these ornaments for years (and recently received a pug one which is most excellent) and they were aways a bit big and never seemed to make it on the tree. I thought the centerpieces would make lovely gifts. We are keeping three, but the girls are okay giving the rest away.
I ordered the birch pots (I took out the plastic liner and turned them upside down) and started going through our ornament box, pulling out what I had. I was in my happy place making these. I love working in multiples, loving using what I have, and especially love it when unnoticed items get a new focus, because things can just get lost in the holiday decorating rush and there's nothing like a little birch stump to elevate the preciousness of something. I'm now thinking of Portlandia skits.
The whole time I worked on these I was listening to Foreverly, (I streamed it from Rdio) which is so very very good. I like Billie Joe, Norah Jones, and the Everly Brothers a whole lot, so it is a win-win-win.
I already have holidays on my mind, so this list is coming a bit earlier this year—
Here's our round up of favorite gifts we have gotten over the last year or so. These have brought us a ton of fun and have all been thoroughly enjoyed and played with. Here are the previous lists: 2012, 2011, 2010 which are still rock solid. This year I am planning a separate favorite books list, which I will post in a few days.
There are quite a few bracelet makers out right now and this one we love the best. It makes really nice bracelets very fast. These are rewarding to make without tying so many little knots, which is admirable but also can be frustrating. My 9-year-old got this for her birthday, the 11-year-old now wants one, and the 6-year-old can use it with help. The how-to video is really helpful, much more so than trying to read the directions.
Okay, this gift came for my 11-year-old from my brother and is very important in this house and has been used by everyone for all sorts of questions. I had one growing up and feel sheepish I didn't get one for them before now—a true classic.
This is a scrapbook/journal gift set—All 3 girls really like using photos (and pictures from magazines) to fill scrapbooks, but starting on a white page can be intimidating, which is why this book is so great. This set was given to my 11-year-old and she LOVES it as does the 9 and 6-year-old. It's nice to have all the goodies with it. If you have never watched the SMASH video, it's pretty dang cute, the girls sing the theme song all the time and it helped them see the potential of the book without me talking their ear off and getting all up in their creative space.
This family game was given to us a bit back and it's just so incredibly good—I feel it's a must have for every family. Everyone can play, there is no reading, our 6 year-old usually wins. Grammie loves it too. You can read about how to play it here, it's easy and wonderful. The beautifully illustrated cards can be used as story telling prompts just on their own, which is a great way to get them writing stories.
I bought this hand drill for myself, way before kids, and we only have one in the house which is crazy because it is by far the most popular tool we own. My girls were all using it as young as 4. Delia made some great projects with it last summer. With just some scrap wood or even with nice wood blocks—they will drill for hours. You can use this to drill through popsicle sticks too, if you go slow it won't split them. We use mini clamps for thicker wood and we also now work on top of a scrap piece of wood so our table doesn't get even more holes. oops.
Gel ink pens are big in this house and these are even more special—they work on white paper but are made for black or dark paper and they are just striking. They are better for outlining and writing, not coloring in. There's nothing like fresh pens and with a stack of black paper, or a blank skecth book with black paper—it's a magical gift.
Okay, a favorite books post will be coming soon. I hope this helps with gift ideas! I know many of these items can be found locally, I've linked them to amazon, but you can call around. We buy all our board games at our favorite local shop, Cloud Cap Games (you can rent them there, too) and around the corner is Collage (the Sellwood location) which has wonderful art supplies, black and colored paper, and many other tempting items.
We got through Halloween and another birthday (my middle child is now 9!) and now I feel like a can take a break and chill out a bit until Thanksgiving. I am feeling all autumnal—lots of tea, apple cider, gingerbread, raking leaves, and knitting around here. I keep laughing every time I walk by this customized metal sign we received from Personal Creations. They were kind enough to offer me something complementary from their catalog and I when I found the Rustic SIgns page, I knew what I had to choose. It's making us all very happy and is now a neighborhood favorite.
in other news:
Over the summer I decorated this box using artwork from the Rijksmuseum. I had read about their Rijksstudio in this NY Times piece, which encourages anyone to use images from their collection at a very high-resolution for personal use. It's pretty amazing. I created a personal collection and then printed some pieces out on my everyday printer and glued them to this wood box I got at Michaels (I think) and painted the edges blue. I lined the inside with patterned paper. I think this would make a sweet sewing box. There are three boxes in a set, each one is smaller than the other, so I am thinking about a clever set that would have special meaning—with one fitting inside another. Something with a pun maybe. Or some kind of riddle.
I'm sure there are a ton of cool projects using Rijksstudio all over the internet. This site was also featured in Flow magazine, which I also picked up last summer and now want to get all the English back issues of. I love that magazine! I found my copy at Barnes and Noble and I need to get it back from Grammie, who has borrowed it. I suspect this is all very old news—both the museum site and Flow magazine, but it's all so cool that I have been meaning to write about it. I also am running about 6 months late with everything so in my world this is breaking news!
A few weeks back we went apple picking in Hood River. I love it there. We drove around, parked, and then walked in the neighborhoods, had some great espresso, found some sweet parks and shopped. We picked apples at Draper Girls Country Farm. I noticed this is their last weekend for picking. On the way there we stopped at Multnomah Falls, which is always so impressive to see. I hadn't been there in years and the girls never had. We kind of went apple crazy—I made a lot of apple dishes and some apple/raspberry sauce, which is delicious. Seeing Delia wear the sweater I knit for her makes me want to finish Sadie's shrug, which is one-sleeved at the moment.
We have been making a tradition of going to Bend and Sunriver, Oregon right after school starts for a few years now. We get a great deal on lodging after Labor Day and the crowds are completely gone. The kids can take their time in the Nature Center—we are often the only ones there. This year we met an angry swan. I love this part of Oregon so much. The quality of light when we are riding our bikes on the endless trails just give me goosebumps in the best way. It's magical.
Thank you so much for all your oil orders! I am getting most of them sent out in the next few days.
It's pretty awesome when Pete comes home and asks what we did today and the girls say they lifted fingerprints, (for the detective badge) made a camera obscura, (for the photographer badge) and wrote a poem (for the writer badge). We are continuing to have loads of fun on the DIY site. The only thing that is a challenge for me is to slow them down. They get all crazy and I feel like I am chasing Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3 around trying to keep up with all the supplies, requests, and energy. It's rad, exhausting, and really tears the house apart.
We were waiting for the real embroidered patches to become available and now they are! This is Sadie's Baker patch. They come in this cool rigid mailer with a DIY window cling. I'm shaking my head here that this site is free and the patches are only $5 once you have earned them. Go internet! And DIY!
I finished this sweater for Delia that I had started in April. I put my Cypress on hold because I wanted to knit something colourful and stripy so I switched to this project using a fabulous yarn Delia selected that is self-striping. All the info is on my ravelry page.
The pattern was generated from a phone app, Raglanify, which is pretty great to use. I really like choosing my yarn first and then using a pattern that is customized to my gauge. This my second sweater, I was all accessories and small project before now.
Fall is coming. It rained the last two mornings. There is a hustle in the air with all the back-to-school energy in the world that we watch but doesn't affect us, being homeschoolers. We still do the exciting stuff—the girls buy school supplies because that is just so much fun and the prices are so good. I also have finished Sadie's fall coat (I will show this soon) and am about to start Delia's. I love sewing their coats so much. This year they have had a lot more interest in the design, so animal prints and faux-fur are making an appearance.
I just finished an Ann Tyler book, Searching for Caleb I always like her work. It's poignant, quirky, and relatable.
We just saw the newest Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine. It was good, but it was heavy. Not really date-night material. We saw it at Cinetopia, (groupon deal) and watched it while eating food. You can order from a menu from your lounge chair, with your feet up on an ottoman. We ending up sharing the Nacho Supreme and a brownie. There was an opening musical act, a guy who was really good. He was playing accordion and singing. The last song seemed pretty personal and I wondered how many people were listening to the lyrics.
Sadie, Lydia, and I had so much fun shooting this class for creativebug on paper mâché magic wands. You can see a little video preview here, just click on the photo. It was an action packed messy production, I was sweating in that wool cardi, I tell you. But it came together really well. The technique I teach for the basic paper mâché wand form, glueing, and finishing can be used for any shape you can think up, all with newspaper and tape and stuff you have in your recycle bin. Sadie is 10 and Lydia is 6— it was fun to see how they did this project differently. It's great for all ages. Now I want to make some paper mâché black cats, ghosts and pumpkins for Halloween and then a turkey and some Christmas decorations, too.
Susan Beal and her daughter Pearl made some clothespin dolls from a creativebug class I shot with Delia and she is giving a little doll kit away to make your own dolls! Head on over there and leave a comment to win it—and she has a code for you all too, that is good all summer on a discount for creativebug classes. Thanks Susan!
The Astoria Megler Bridge
We spent a day and night in Astoria and its surrounding areas and it was so fun. We hadn't been there in over 10 years, never with kids. We all loved it. There is so much history in this town, the old buildings are really special. This bridge heads over to Washington state.
Delicious food and cake at the Astoria Coffee House and Bistro
The Lightship Columbia, which we were able to tour
Great hands on fun at the Columbia River Maritime Museum
Crazy good espresso at Street 14 Coffee
Looking up, the amazing view of the Astor Hotel Lobby, all decrepit and beautiful. The hotel closed long ago (it was built in the 1920s) and was vacant for years and is now low income housing above and retail below—this is Vintage Hardware, and incredibly, it's in the lobby of the historic hotel, but it has not been restored in any way. I had a little heart attack in here, it was so cool to stand in the lobby of this incredible hotel, which has been run down since the 1960s. Here's the way it looked in its prime.
I did my thesis project in college (B.A. in interior architecture) on the renovation of a historic movie/vaudeville theater in Albany, Oregon (the Venetain)—this kind of thing is very close to my heart. The kids weren't quite aware of how amazing it was, but that didn't stop me from talking about it. I didn't make them go to the woman's restroom of the outstanding Astoria Post Office, which I was told is untouched and wonderful. I will save that for next time. I'm laughing at the idea of Historic Bathrooms, now. That would be quite a theme vacation.
And so much fun at Fort Clatsop, where I asked a ton of questions about tinder boxes and flint and steel. I was also quite enamored of the buckskin pants, of course. My family was interested, to a point, and then very patient. There was a ton to do in this area—we have to go back and also explore Long Beach next time.
We have a lot of handmade dolls and stuffed animals in the house, some of them made by the girls, some made by me, many made by friends, and they often need extra love and a little bit of repairing. A pile was developing with long descriptions about what needed to be repaired and I suggested making an Intake Form for the hospital, which is on top of my ironing board in the sewing room. All the patients are lined up under a "heat lamp" waiting for triage, an exam, and treatment.
I created these forms for the girls to fill out and leave with each patient. It's been a huge hit with all ages in the house (6-10). Using the templates in pages (I think microsoft word has them too) is a great love of mine. We make brochures, business cards, signs, and all kind of things with very little effort and the girls like them because they look so official. I love them because I can customize them instantly.
There's a spot to draw since writing can be hard for younger folks. Anyone can be the doctor or can help with the intake paperwork and process. Often an extra (unplugged) phone is involved. How great is having an extra real phone, not a cell phone? They love playing with it. These forms were used for both real injuries (stitches that need to be re-sewn) and made up ones. Sadie just filled out one for her dog's anxiety issues. I'm prescribing tea, meditation, and long walks as a treatment.
Here's the form to play with and customize.
I saved it as a word file (not a PDF) so hopefully you can open it and customize it for your own needs. It's written in a serious/funny way, which is our sense of humor. I printed 5 and then had to print 10 more. They are kind of heartbreaking after they are all filled out. As the doctor, I date stamp them and fill out the rest of the form and when I finish I fold it up small and tape it to the patient. I also try to add a little something, a cape, new collar, or a ribbon to spruce them up—I think a photo attached would be great, too, if they are so inclined. These forms are keepers for sure.
Mulit-talented writer and artist Éireann Lorsung, who I have blogged about before, is coming to Portland for a few days and is reading at PNCA. I am so thrilled to see her in person again. The first time I met her I only had two girls—that was more than 6 years ago. It was a wet and dark day in the park and we chatted about being creative and watched my girls play. I have seen her vision grow since then and she has gone on to do so many wonderful things with her passion and energy. I can't wait to hear her read from her newest book of poetry, Her Book, which is not out yet, but will be in August 2013. Here are some details about the reading directly from the PNCA site:
Monday, July 29, 2013
6:00pm until 7:30pm
1241 NW Johnson St.
Portland, OR, 97209
This event will take place in CT+CR Headquarters, room 204 at the main campus of the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
PNCA’s MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research (CT+CR) welcomes poet and editor Éireann Lorsung for a reading from her new book “Her Book,” published by Milkweed Editions.
Éireann Lorsung’s luminous voice is distilled through multiple unnamed female speakers in her second collection. Full of youth, wonder, and imagination, “Her Book” crosses distances and generations to celebrate the lives of women, their individual and shared experiences, and the bonds that bring them together. This is also a book about translation (of experience into art, of knowledge across time and space) and conversation (with, for instance, work by Kiki Smith, widely known as a feminist artist). Lorsung writes additionally about her time spent in England and friendships she formed with women there. Together, these poems comprise both her book (Lorsung’s), and her (encompassing all who identify with that word).
and here are some links about Éireann from her blog and all she is up to, which is a lot.
After discussing this comedy sketch a few nights ago I had to watch it again (and again) and I just can't believe how funny it is. It's so funny I can't laugh. It's less than 4 minutes and every line is golden.
I like to make a big brunch at the house at least once a month for my brother. He's easy to please, appreciates good food, and is a total hoot. He also doesn't mock me when I photograph these brunches, which is kind of him. I have made so many now—waffles, pancakes, egg dishes, you name it, and this time I wanted to do something different. I realize not everyone is excited by oatmeal, but I am, and in this case, I think I even surprised myself with how delicious and fun this was. I made an oatmeal bar. My brother is a big fan of participatory food. I'm going to point out the details here that made me so happy. In this shot it's the tiny creamers, for everyone to have their own milk to pour in. I love these things, we use them all the time. This oatmeal here has a homemade plum-apricot-orange spiced compote on top which will get its own post because, dang.
The muffin tin of toppings. This is what made me so delighted. I won't tell you how many ways I thought about displaying the toppings that was both pleasing and practicable. I am thrilled with the muffin tin solution. And who knew buying small handfuls of toppings in bulk was so fun? This was all without kids, buying anything in bulk with kids makes me crazy. A wonderful cheap thrill. To serve, I just ladled in the hot oatmeal (Bob's Scottish Oatmeal) and then passed the tin of toppings around. The girls loved it, too.
In the tin: there's a tropical dried fruit and nut mix, dried cranberries, brown sugar, flake coconut, pumpkin seeds, and chopped pecans. That ceramic spoon broke during the clean up. Who would make ceramic spoons? (Anthropologie.) And who would buy them? (Me.)
My pleasing bowls, which were stacked like this by accident, but how photo worthy. Also from Anthro recently, on sale, and they are making me so happy.
I also served fresh fruit and hard cooked eggs, juice, and coffee. The hard cooked eggs— my brother said he had never eaten one before. For real. The things is, I believe him. I ate them all the time growing up, and we did grow up together, but I don't recall him ever eating hard cooked eggs. He ate one at brunch, but I don't think he loved it. I mean, if he hadn't of had one by now, I think there's a reason why. But who has never had a hard cooked egg? I think this is really funny.
I've been making lists lately of things I do that make me really happy and gluing stuff to paper and making brunch for friends and family keeps coming up very high on my list. This last weekend reminded me of that. I didn't glue anything on paper, but still.
I also have been writing down everything I do that I find really lame, or tiresome, or frustrating, or just low-level depressing. Some of it I can't avoid, but much of it I can delegate or get help with. This was a challenge to do honestly— I feel guilty focusing on what I don't like (always telling myself to stay positive, don't complain, be grateful) but then I never really admit what really makes me grumpy. Like wearing shoes that hurt, or going grocery shopping, or using my phone to read the news. But now that I just admit that there are things that tend to bum me out, I can avoid them if I can, or at least know when I do these things, I tend to get grumpy and plan accordingly. So simple. What's interesting is how often I do stuff with my extra time (out of habit) that I don't really like to do, like read the news on my phone, and how seldom I glue stuff to paper. I plan to make some adjustments.
The girls love their Fujifilm INSTAX MINI Film Camera so much. They also fell hard for the special film that has colored frames and the super cute stickers you can apply to the photos. We have run out of both and only had the standard white framed film left. Although I love all the stickers and cute films packs, they add up and are a lot more expensive than just getting the standard white packs. So we made our own.
We got smart and realized washi tape would work perfect to decorate the frames. Oh, washi tape. And there is no shortage in this house, it was just a matter of finding all the rolls I have squirrelled away.
It's very forgiving and easy to use and reposition—any misalligined strips are unnoticeable.
We just laid it out and folded it over. I know above it looks like she is trimming, but we found that not trimming, just folding, worked best. Sadie mixed more than one tape pattern on a single photo and it was really cute.
After talking about getting a dog for about a year with the girls, and researching Boston Terriers and Pugs, we adopted one last week. The girls were hoping for a black pug puppy, I was hoping for an older pug which needed a home. Pete was game for whatever. We found an older one, and we all love her so much! I am so glad to both help an adult dog and not have the crazy puppy vibe in the house right now. I love puppies, but you know what I mean. Maybe a pug puppy in a couple years. I love her fawn color, she really is so cute, and I am not just saying that because she is ours. I was willing to adopt an adult pug with issues but fortunately she has none and was very loved at her old house. Her previous owner is elderly and her health and limited mobility was making pet ownership really hard.
She came with the name Angelina, which of course we have kept. The girls added the middle name of Meatloaf. She is 7 and has the sweetest personality. The cats are displeased, but are coming around. She doesn't know they don't like her, I have to break it to her gently. They are slowly meeting each other under my watchful gaze. Cat's claws and pug's bugling eyeballs are not a good mix. She's used to cats (and other pugs) sleeping with her, so she's game. I do think the cats will sleep with her at some point. Maybe.
I made some leather and jute bracelets with Delia a few weeks back. I used this fine tutorial right here. They were so easy to make and quite addictive. I wouldn't use jute again. It's pretty, but itchy. I think this is now being used as a key fob, or it's tied to a dance bag or something. I want to make more.
related to making stuff:The whole family has been taken over by DIY Skills. It's a site for kids to tackle challenges and to master skills. Think baking, animating, camping, hacking, film making, sewing, chemistry, computer programing, you name it. Insanely fun and motivating.There is too much awesomeness to write about here—it's pretty involved. But you can get a sense of it all if you watch the video, and look around at all the projects kids have done and read the FAQ. The real embroidered patches are supposed to be available for sale next month. I asked and they answered.
I made dry shampoo a bit back and it was almost perfect, but not quite. I used corn meal in the blend, which was too lumpy. It was kind of chunky and grainy and my eldest daughter complained of bits. It was also too light for her brown hair. I looked around and found this great tip for adding cocoa powder to make the whole batch darker—which is much nicer for most hair colors, I think. I also ditched the corn meal. We added grapefruit essential oil and have been using this a new batch a whole lot.
I know some people wonder about dry shampoo. Why not just wash your hair? Well, you know how it is, especially with long hair, it's just not reasonable sometimes, or even needed all that often. Also, my hair, as I have gotten older, has gotten a lot finer and the powder adds some body and fullness that I really like, especially on my roots.
It rained pretty much all weekend, but it was still warm, so we tried to get some yard work done. And we did, but there were some moments of tension. It wasn't looking productive until I remembered the scavenger hunt idea I had pinned to a board of mine. I forget to look at my own boards on pinterest (why!?) I should look at them first thing, because not surprisingly, I love all the things I pin. Here's the direct link to this nature scavenger hunt idea. I wrote our list by hand in about 3 seconds, handed it to the nearest child, and they were off—all making piles of items. I wrote down about 7 things I think:
This type of cross-training-workout-for-a-short-amount-of-time-until-you-feel-like-you-might-die is great for me. Occasionally. Like when I'm not hurt. When I can do this kind of thing, I just keep thinking about how it's only 7 minutes, and it makes it easier. Sort of.
I printed a few copies of this excellently illustrated Scienctific 7-Minute Workout from the New York Times to put around the house because somehow the cute illustrations make it seem less horrible to do. I haven't done it yet. I have done really similar workouts, but not lately. My back, while much improved (time and this book have been the key) isn't ready for this kind of stuff quite yet. But, Pete has done this and digs it. We both normally do a different circut that repeats 4 moves for 10 minute total, and this is more interesting because you only do one move for 30 seconds, resting 10 seconds in between. I actually am a little afraid to do this around him or the girls because I get into laughing fits when straining myself physically when I am not alone, and then I often get even more hurt.
I love the blue shoes this guy is wearing.
There's complete info in the link. Please don't get hurt if you try this. No one cares if you only do two moves or skip a bunch.
I just heard about Kathreen Ricketson and her husband Robert Shugg and the terrible circumstances of their deaths. I'm sending love and thoughts to their children and families. It just makes me cry. I remember when Kathreen started Whip Up and there was a group of us who were the very first contributers—it was all so new and exciting. Kathreen was so talented and went on to contribute so much to this online craft community we have. That time when it was all beginning and we were all first blogging holds such a special place in my heart. It seems like a long time ago, but it really wasn't. I can't believe she is gone.
She brought so much passion and energy to the world of creating and crafting—she will be deeply missed.