Archive for December, 2012

Goodbye 2012

Another great year:

We focused on financial goals: refinanced a mortgage, paying down a smaller mortgage by 50% and reentering the workforce with a part time home health gig.

We enjoyed two unschooling activities: the annual Life is Good conference and our first time yurt camping, on the coast.

We did a lot of day hikes and exploring, and many park days.

We bought a wood stove and turned off the electric furnace completely (cozy!).

We bought new bikes and committed to commute more with fun and outdoors in mind.

We enjoyed some Couchsurfing guests from Japan and Canada.

We, we, we, we we…spent a lot of time at home, relaxing, knitting, sewing, gaming, watching TV, baking bread, working on home improvement, making the inside more cozy, making the backyard more fun.

One difficulty has been interrupted sleep by a certain adorable someone. It zaps the energy right out of me and makes me antisocial. Hopefully 2013 brings better sleep as Lotus heads into her third year.
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DIY Play kitchen

Lotus and Simon were having fun with a play kitchen somewhere and we decided to make one for home. Not only did Jason do a fabulous job but he sacrificed his roomy nightstand for the project…

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It still needs a bit of artwork or chalkboard paint up top but it’s ready for play…
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That’s my real (tiny) frying pan on there for affect only. The curtain is hiding the stash of play food and cookware the kids actually use;)
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Aren’t these little nobs adorable?
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Popsicle stick burners, dog bowl sink from the thrift store, shelf from the craft store…all easy to find and low cost.
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It’s a great play kitchen that doesn’t take up a lot of space. If you do a search for nightstand or DIY kitchen you’ll see lots of similar examples. The kids love it!

Christmas 2012

All we did was stockings this year and the kids are happy!

We are not Pagan, Christian or any other religion and the cultural push to spend, spend, spend has gradually felt more wasteful than fun to me. Even the kids agreed they didn’t really need anything. We love to get them what they need/want when the need/want arises and try to discourage the mentality behind shopping just because there is money to spend…or in the case of Christmas, just because cultural tradition dictates.

However, they do still enjoy a little tradition and the excitement of waking up to a surprise, so stockings loaded with goodies is a good compromise.

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Merry Christmas!
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Uncle Aaron brought over a sweet train set and they’ve had fun building block tunnels. Aaron wants to upgrade from this HO scale set to an O scale, so it got me looking at scale sizes and train info online. There are a lot of cool sets available! My maternal Grandpa was a big train guy and had an extensive hobby train and landscape set up in his garage. I remember how mesmerizing it was to look at. Maybe Aaron caught the train building bug:)

Lotus is TWO today

We had a little family celebration and this is what it looks like when our “little” family gets together…

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Lotus actually did a little happy dance when it was time to sing and blow out the candles. She loves the happy birthday song!
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Here she is doing one of her favorite things: drawing…
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I finally got some video of her singing. It takes a few seconds for her to warm up to the camera being on but then she sings some Twinkle Twinkle and Happy Birthday…and a made up song.

knitting for Jason

Jason requested a sweater vest and it is finally finished! It feels like I’ve been working on it for a long time, but it’s been 13 days. Many hours over 13 days. He says it is cozy and he loves it, so a stash of alpaca/merino wool will probably be used to make him a second vest in a solid brown color.

I used the pattern Petrol, with a few modifications.

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this and that

Christmas tree and cookie decorating season…
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We made an announcement to the kids that we will not be doing Christmas presents this year. WAIT….hold on…hear me out on this:

The kids pretty much get what they want all year. They are not greedy or materialistic and Christmas has started to feel like obligatory shopping for random things they don’t need or care about. The plan is to fill up the stockings with goodies and instead of presents we’ll focus on experiences and a nice meal; maybe go somewhere and stay in a hotel. The older boys agreed readily and I thought Simon would protest but his reaction was an enthusiastic, “Just knit something and put it in our stockings.” Ha!

So here we are doing some UN-Christmas shopping-

We managed a family bike trip to Target so Jason could pick up a few things for his grandpa. The kids got a few things too and we fit it all on the bikes.
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Even this toy shopping cart…
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Lotus was not too happy about having to pack it away…
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Everything loaded…
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Lastly, I snapped a couple pics of a knitting forum swap package Lotus and I received. The teas smelled so good when I opened it up!
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Lotus modeling the hand knit hat. Her nose is still red from getting upset a little bit earlier; poor baby.
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Soft Pretzel Win

We made soft pretzels tonight and I actually gasped when I opened the oven door. I have never achieved such a beautiful pretzel!

Alton Brown’s recipe taught me the baking soda/water soak, which is apparently key. According to some of the commenters a good German soft pretzel recipe uses lye instead of baking soda but it is a darn good pretzel and I didn’t need protective gear to make them.

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Soft, chewy goodness with mustard. mmmmm!
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Bike Craft in PDX

Today was a fun bikey, yarny, Portland day. We cruised around the block on our bikes before heading out because Xander is getting used to his new bike…

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Then we went to Bike Craft PDX and saw many bike related handmade goods for sale. Whole Foods was giving out satsumas so I snapped a photo of the family peeling and eating them with the buzz of the market in the background. You’re not 100% Portland-hip unless you have a newsboy/biker style hat and some kind of leather/studded bracelet, apparently. We have neither and committed Bike Craft sin by driving to the fair instead of taking bikes, but we’re not technically Portlanders;)

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Then we stopped at the yarn store and I bought some yummy hand dyed yarn for a project for Jason. He actually thought of something he’d like me to make for him and it’s a sweater vest. That’s right, a *sweater vest*. My challenge is to make a sweater vest that does not look nerdy or ill fitting. We’ll see if I can do it.