Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another giftie

These little vintage suitcases are everywhere and I never cared about them a whit... then I got this idea for Jack and now I earnestly lust for one myself. I would have loved this when I was a kid... a tiny little space to arrange as I liked, all my special goods.

On Christmas morn upon opening it he found:

One deck of cards (extra large).
Animal crackers packed in a box (just like the Shirley Temple song we love to sing...)
Embroidery hoop supplies.
Some ribbons.
Rock collection.
Some coloring pages I printed off the internet. I try not to do coloring books/pages as a rule but the boy loves them and he gets them at school, and it was the one thing he earnestly requested! Anyway, these ones were pretty cool, and hopefully won't ruin him for life.

Oh yeah, and his favorite, which he has been using constantly... a big stack of fold-yer-own paper airplane in a multitude of ways from a 2007 one a day calendar... he's loving those.



A date night with just me and Matt and not even the baby, is a rare enough occurrence (though I'm happy to say, not really that rare these last few months...) but the fact that we had a completely novel time and all within a 10 block radius of our house... it's amazing. Just have to recommend to you all:

Domy books... if you're into photography, zines, graphic novels, art... the sort of stuff you will never encounter at a Barnes and Noble.... to me it was a complete treasure trove. And in my neighborhood... my good fortune is ever increasing. This is on Cesar Chavez just one block east of I-35... just look for the lampost tagged by Knitta.

Karibu Ethiopian restaurant
!! Right there on E. 7th and Attayac. If you live in this neighborhood and have grown weary of extremely sub par Mexican food and pinata stores (and unfortunately Azul went the way of the dodo, sob!), you will be thrilled upon thrilled like me. I LOVE Ethiopian food, used to eat it in Seattle, tried Aster's here and was pretty disapointed, used to make it myself when I had a little more time on my hands (in fact once a fermenting batch of injera bread batter exploded all over me, not for the faint of heart...), and I'm really happy to say that we had a great experience at Karibu, the food was delicious and so was the atmosphere and so was the waiter. Get thee over there with your bucks (and it's not expensive) and show it some love so we won't lose it!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Best Present EVER

I was feeling pretty proud of myself this Christmastime. I'm really into the idea of existing in a state of total gratitude, and I was thinking about that a lot in terms of gift giving. Or rather, gifts being given to ME. I was noticing that it's all too easy to feel slighted by someone if they gave you a better present last year, or at some other point in your life, rather than always remembering and cherishing that lovely thoughtful gift for what it was. I was thinking about this, and feeling like I was doing a pretty good job, and feeling grateful for any and all gifts I was getting, no matter how questionable, and that was when I received the 28 whisk gift set from my brother Coop. And that one completely sent me spinning! I really was just sitting there trying to make sense of it, thinking it possibly might make sense for our house, maybe the kids could play with it, no they wouldn't it would just be tons of small pieces scattered everywhere, who could I regift this to, who would even want it, and I was setting it aside and trying to move on when Matt finally convinced me to open it. And guess WHAT?!?! NOT really a 28 whisk gift set, after all. A joke gift box from The Onion, is what it was. Oh my God, Coop, you got me and good. And truly a perfect challenge for me, this year.

And this is what was inside, the perfect and brilliant gifts that someone who knows me and knows me well would know that I would LOVE. Coop, pure gifting genius.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thunderman and Monkeyboy

Bruno is Thunderman. He started calling himself this because he has a cape with a lightning bolt on it.

Jack was Monkeyboy, because he loves to climb anything and everything. I really liked calling him Monkeyboy (and I really liked trying to celebrate his climbing obsession, which truthfully can be pretty annoying at times), and we had a song for him and everything. Then he morphed into Spiderboy, with the reasoning that spiders are actually much better and faster than monkeys. I didn't like this as much, 'cause I was liking keeping this all original and unbranded, but what can you do.

On Christmas eve I ended up pushing all other unfinished projects to the side and drawing this comic book starring our li'l superheroes. I had so much fun. Completely coincidentally we were watching Dr. Horrible (me and Matt, the kids were snug abed with the sugarplums and all that) and that was pretty fun, too.

Christmas Schmristmas

Matt started this awesome tradition 4 Christmases ago, where we would buy a tree or plant or bush that we really wanted and invite it inside for a few weeks in December, and then go plant it afterward. We don't really dig on pine trees too much, at least for our yard. The first year we got a grapefruit tree. That was so great and I'm happy to say we had our first bonanza harvest this year, this month actually. They were super SWEET and good. This year we got an orange tree, some sort of Texas variety that's supposed to prosper in this clime. But it started to look a little sorry and was dropping leaves... and then we encountered a Santa whilst out and about and Jack sat next to him and told him that ALL he wanted for Christmas was a REAL Christmas tree like the one Santa was sitting next to, a good old fashioned pine tree. Darn kids messing up all of our cool traditions!!

Matt went out and bought this Italian Cypress. Maybe we'll keep it in a pot and invite it inside for a few more Christmases. That's not a half bad tradition, either.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dyeing playsilks, con koolaid

This was a fun fun project that was very quick and easy to do. You can get the silks at Dharma Trading Company, and they are cheeeeeeap!

I'm so glad I had so many

wonderful two year olds to help me with this project. They were really good at it. You just sprinkle koolaid powder as you like on the wet scarf. Put it in a ziplock bag. Squish it around if you like to move the color around. Put it in a microwave and zap it for 2 minutes. Ta da! The color has set. Rinse and hang to dry.

I read that you can also use a steamer, steam it for twenty minutes and it will have the same effect. I wanted to do this outside so I borrowed my friend's microwave so it made it more or less instant gratification.

Thanks to Melanie Anderson for the awesome photos!

Friday night Movie night

We watched the movie Duma tonight. We LOVED it. Very high quality film for children, though I must say I enjoyed it as much if not more than the children, a rare flick low on wordiness and exposition, high on true visual storytelling. This film is rich, tender, honest, blazingly beautiful, heart wrenching. And this great child actor who was not in the least child actor-y, a real Anna Paquin, he is. Anyway, HIGHLY recommended.

We got this movie because it was based on one of our favorite books, How it was with Dooms, which I love to give as a birthday gift. This book is written by Xan Hopcraft, in true authentic child language, about his experience growing up with a real cheetah as a pet in Africa. He wrote it with his mother, who took all the beautiful photos.

The plots of the book and the movie are completely different, but I'm happy to say it didn't matter at all. Another rare occasion (like The Ice Storm) where the book and the movie are completely separate beasts, but both stand on their own as great pieces of art.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Braddock, PA

I really don't have the faintest desire to live anywhere else but where I am right now, a few blocks from the river, a few blocks from downtown, in this cozy and safe neighborhood full of character and good parks and trees. A place like this was my dream when I was growing up in the rural burbs of western Washington. I'm so glad to be raising my kids here. But I must admit I'm all aflutter about Braddock, Pennsylvania after reading this article about it in Ready Made magazine. That was something that Matt and I bonded about early on, a soft spot for decaying East Coast steel towns like Johnstown, PA or Trenton, NJ.

Read the article if you're at all intrigued. I'm in love with the idea of a beautiful old husk of a town becoming revitalized by a pack of gritty young idealists and DIYers. An organic farm right on main street, artists and artisans being lured into town by the mayor's promise of $50.00 a month rent for living space and studio space, and houses that cost $10,000.

I know, I know, the weather's probably dismal, it's 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, crime's still high there, it's not really this candyland place to move a young family. I just have to say that article has lit a little fire of longing in me.... so maybe someday, after that energetic young mayor has worked some of his magic. It's nice to know that if we did get the itch to move elsewhere there is somewhere else that could hold our interest without being prohibitively expensive like SF, NYC, Portland...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wishing and letting go

My dear, dear friends who I see altogether too seldom (that will change in the new year, surely!! we will make it so) met at Woodland for some new year intention-setting. I had this amazing champagne cocktail with elderberry liqeur that made me feel like a dear little woodland creature but anyway...
We wrote our wishes for the new year down on slips of paper and tied them in a wishing tree that's right at the entrance to the pedestrian bridge at Lamar and Riverside. Did you know that if you write down your wishes and tie them in a tree they are 99.5 percent more likely to come true? Sorry, that statistic is not scientifically proven, not yet, but you'll just have to try it for yourself and see...

We also made little origami boats, painted or drew on them what we were ready to let go of. We then pushed them off into the waters of Town Lake with the wee little candles all aflame inside 'em, and watched as they burst into flames... hee hee! OK, not all of them exactly burst into flames... some did, some just meandered off and smoldered in the reeds, but.... still, I think this was a powerful exercise. It felt really good and complete. A powerful image to carry with you the whole year long. Goodbye fear, doubt, resentment, stubborness, anxiety... goodbye messiness of my house, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Candle(s) in the wind

I wanted to make some teensy tinesy candles for a kind of Solstice-y happening I'm doing with my friends tonight. I wanted to make a few candles out of acorn caps but the kids were sleeping and I couldn't walk to the oak tree I had in mind... I did, however, have a bowl full of pistachio shells so I used those. So there you go, thirty mini candles...

argh! You would think the minutes of my day are many, but they are all too few! and yet I spend them sometimes doing things like this...

Well, I think it will make for a cool effect, anyway.

I'll keep you posted. Your participation may be requested.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New year's resolution

That's right, even when I'm sleeping, y'all!

I came to this a la Carrie Contey's class on the book Your Best Year Yet. Of course Carrie is utterly fantastic, and the book is utterly fantastic, and setting aside a few hours (or even a few minutes, if that's all you got) to make a big wish for the new year, well, that's fantastic too.

Get in on the fantasticness and give it a shot.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bookmaking class

Bookmaking and Paper craft CLASS February 5th through March 12th 4 - 5:30 $150 Ages 5-10
Origami books! Pop up books! Instant books! And more much more! Inspired by Esther K. Smith's How to Make Books and her latest, Magic Books and Paper Toys, we'll be making flexagons, homemade paper, and a whole batch of handmade thank you notes for each kid. We'll try our hand at printmaking and a non-toxic marbling technique. Of course lots of writing and illustrating are on the agenda... and we'll take a look at Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art to contemplate how some of our favorite illustrators make the magic happen. And of course we won't let the month of February slip away without making our fair share of valentines and valentine books. This is going to be SO much fun.

oh what a beautiful morning

Jack made me my morning cup of coffee all by himself. And Henny met her first cabbage. (Don't worry, I didn't really let her eat it, but I was impressed with her enthusiasm).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas books

We just hauled out our bin of Christmas stuff last night. So nice to see some of these familiar faces again. I heartily recommend these as the least junky or saccharine Christmas books you can buy. Though with that said, I haven't read Lemony Snicket's The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story yet. This will be the third year we'll be reading The Nutcracker, I daresay it might be a tradition. I can't wait to read it again... slightly perverse and baroque, as all good Christmas stories must be.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Waldorf Winter Fair

Ahh, separating the wheat from the chaff and determining that with the slew of holiday time events that can be overwhelming this time of year, this one makes the cut. Just the right speed. My kids could have spent the whole time at the playground. I love this playground. Two nice climbable well-worn trees, several sizable chunks of log, and a huge rock with a length of rope tied around it that kids were dragging around. That makes me laugh, the rock, except I know kids love something like that that seems laughable to us adults.

Anyway, felt so good to be there. Natural, idyllic, wholesome, truly fun. It felt nice to be there and not have my appreciation of the environment translate into anxiety that I should be making some huge sacrifice so that my kids can go to school there.... felt so good to feel just great with where we are at and that my kids won't turn out to be inferior beings because they received inferior schooling...

Jack made a little finger puppet at this station with all these marvelous materials laid out... many examples of charming little fairies or gnomes that folks had made... his was all globs of glue and then he chose this itchy-looking gray mass of hair that he glued squarely on the back of the head... he was perfectly happy with it and I considered it a major accomplishment that i didn't wrest it from his hands for some crafty intervention... if a balding fairy with globs of glue for eyes is his vision then so be it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I can really dig on bubbles. I did a big science project on them in the third grade and my interest has been re-ignited, recently. In the project we were able to make some giganto bubbles using these truly huge bubble wands and by making some super strong bubble solution. I just have not been able to recreate that, it's really annoying. I've been experimenting and I think, for one, you can't use any hippie natural-y dish washing soap. You have to use Joy or Ivory because theys got the good chemicals. The other thing is that I think we have hard water. But you can buy distilled which is better. I still haven't tried that yet. But I digress. This new bubble recipe contains dissolved gelatin so the bubbles are actually on the strongish side, they don't burst upon meeting your dry hand or shirt, but hang out and mingle for a bit. It's kinda fun if you're in the mood for some kind of new bubble experience...


These are some little ornaments I made of little birdies sitting in some downy fluff in their acorn cap nest. It's kind of a cheat because those little birds were purchased at Hobby Lobby. Hmmm... maybe my resolution for the new year would be to wean myself off of Hobby Lobby... I go there all the time, but, I have a huge amount of disdain for that place. I think they must treat their workers horribly. The workers are disgruntled and seem to sprint away from you if you look like you may have a question...
And, last time I was there the manager had tackled a shoplifter outside in the parking lot and an ambulance was there! I mean, come on now, really? If a person is that desperate for art supplies cannot we just leave them be?

There was a flurry of snowflake making here this weekend. Matt was teaching Jack. Jack was really digging it. Matt made that one in the top left hand corner... I think it's hilarious. He's deceptively artistic, that one. He carves the best pumpkins, too. I wish I had a picture of this one he made where he took a drill and drilled two small, perfectly round eyes and one slightly bigger, perfectly round mouth. Brilliant in its simplicity.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

burglars beware

This is Jack very cutely playing with this homemade burglar alarm we made together.

It was verrrrrrrry easy to make and it continues to delight him to no end. This would be an awesome Christmas gift for that special someone (who just happens to be plagued by burglars...). Put the ingredients in the box with the directions which you can find here. Plus a promise to build it together and you'll have a memory-iffic experience. All this for less than 5 dollars, get your goods at Radio Shack.

Whether or not this device actually prevents burgling remains to be seen. We haven't been burgled in the 36 hours that we have had it, so it appears to be working.

Monday, December 1, 2008

oh sweet books, how you tempt me

I am a complete and utter book maniac. I seriously have trouble spending money on any other worldly goods other than food. A lot of times, yes, I really do need to curb my enthusiasm and hold off, but sometimes I am just on a path of fascination that feels so right... I just have to go there. Have to get the books if I hear about them. I just know they're going to lead me somewhere great...
OK, I'm going somewhere with this, I swear. These are the two books I recently ordered and when I was discovering them I had that breaking-out-in-cold-sweat-I-mean-this-in-a-good-way feeling, and when I was flipping through them this afternoon I had that prickling, ticklish, hyperventilating feeling that just lets me know I am onto something good. To each their own and these books might mean nothing to you but I thought they were way cool and you might want to put them on your list or give them as gifts. Or MAKE some gifts from the projects depicted within... now there's an idea.

I mean, Magic Books and Paper Toys?? COME ON! That's way too good. I feel a class coming on...

Get your local food on!

I know, I know, enough with the local foods stuff already! It's such a fad and we're all sick of hearing about it. OK, of course I'm JUST joking but don't worry, I'm not going to start a-lecturin' and a-rantin'... but I just wanted to say that well, for one, teaching this Local Foods class was so frickin' fun it was unbelievable. And the other unbelievable thing was how sweet and welcoming they were at every single place we visited. Busy farmers with a jam-packed plate dropped everything for the most part and were so happy to lead us around and give us the inside scoop. Here in these photos we are visiting an alpaca farm The Old Oaks Ranch in Wimberley, and this fantastic place called the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm at the LBJ State Park outside Johnson City. This place is totally free and I believe they are open 364 days of the year, with volunteers running the farm as it was operated 100 years ago. We also visited Alexander Family Farm (chickens) and Johnson's Backyard Garden (oh delicious vegetables). Oh! And we also visited Kim Lehman, who is a fabulous well known storyteller and beekeeper/enthusiast/educator. Tommorrow we are visiting Simmons Family Farm, heard tell they have baby bunnies, as well as chicks, calves, and lots of vegs.
SO, I just want to say, there are all these fabulous outings out there... so many people out there that are just thrilled to have you come visit their farm and talk to you about their passion. It's really fun and the kids love it. If you're interested, just call around or email and ask...