where the day takes you

February 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

This past Monday was the only day my girls’ mid-winter breaks aligned, so I decided to make the most of it by heading out on a little road trip with my brother. I feel so lucky that he moved out west and now lives only 15 minutes away from us, much to his nieces’ delight. We had no plan for the day but decided on a whim to try to find a fantastic little hole-in-the-wall restaurant we’d been to once before on a road trip when I first moved out here and he’d come to visit. We couldn’t even remember how long ago it was, except that my now eight year old was in a baby car seat.

Jason thought the restaurant had the word “anchor” in the name or there was some sort of nautical theme – that and the fact that we remembered it being in one of the small waterfront towns near a ferry port north of Seattle was pretty much all we had to go on. It was fun taking off for the day and retracing the steps of our past adventures. And as soon as we hit the little town of Anacortes, with its quaint historic downtown, it all came back. We’d obviously been there several times since along with Adrift (the restaurant we’d remembered with the most amazing burgers and shelves filled with old books), we also came across a pizza place and a country-style restaurant that we remembered going to.

After our lunch, we continued road tripping to the amazing – but terrifying – Deception Pass bridge. Heights like that freak me out, especially since having children, and I wouldn’t even let my girls go all the way out to the middle. Yikes!! But we parked and had a cool little hike down to the beach below. The girls had fun being outdoors and hanging with my bro, and I gathered a few more of the beautiful colored rocks that you can only find out here on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. Not a bad way to spend the day!

chihuly glass

December 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

I don’t think blown glass was something I’d given much thought to before we moved to Seattle. But here in the backyard of the famous glass blower Dale Chihuly, you can’t help but take notice. With my mom who’s in town visiting, we went to check out the newest addition to the downtown Seattle scene: Chihuly Garden and Glass – a comprehensive collection of Chihuly’s work displayed through indoor halls, a glasshouse and an outdoor garden. The size and scope of some of the pieces were so impressive that a lot of the conversation by the admirers was about the sheer logistics of making, transporting and installing work of this nature. I think I was most impressed by the colors – every one on the color wheel everywhere you looked. We went in the evening and the lights gave the garden a truly magical quality, but the daylight view is supposed to be equally stunning. Guess I’ll have to make plans for a return visit.

The work of Chihuly is known and admired around the world. Two years ago when we were in Venice, we went on a glass blowing tour on the island of Murano. When the man in the studio heard we were from Seattle, he excitedly told us in broken English that Chihuly has visited them there to work and collaborate on projects. There in gorgeous and impressive Venice, I was proud to be from gorgeous and impressive Seattle. It’s just another little thing that makes this a cool place to live.

a year of flowers

December 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing this blog long enough to have entries a year in the making. Last January, I gave myself a challenge: to put together one fresh flower arrangement for the house every month. I stipulated that the flowers and greenery in the arrangements must be chosen separately by me (no pre-arranged flowers for this girl), which forced me to take my time, think about colors and textures and types of flowers, and to arrange them in a pretty way. I have always loved flowers and love that Drew gives them to the girls and me to mark important occasions. This has been a fun project and may be something that sticks around for a long time. Because these fresh flowers have definitely added a little more happy to our house, and our darker Seattle days have seemed just a bit brighter. It’s little things like this that make life more beautiful.

washi tags

December 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

washi tags

I love that my craft room looks like Santa’s workshop right now with all the fun holiday wrapping supplies I’ve amassed being put to good use. My friend Stacy had a Christmas tag making party last week (something she’s done for the past couple of years), and we discovered that all the cool Washi tape we’d been collecting makes for AWESOME holiday tags. I love homemade tags, and these are so simple and cute. I can’t wait to see how great they look on all my “brown paper packages tied up with string – these are a few of my favorite things.” (Sorry, but I can’t possibly wrap presents or even think about wrapping without singing the Sound of Music.) The holidays just make me happy!

washi tape

September 13, 2012 § 3 Comments

With my girls back in school, I’m starting to find more time for myself and am happy to be able to craft. Last week I visited one of my favorite stores, Ben Franklin Crafts, to scout out the cool new supplies that had filled the shelves over the summer. The most noticeable addition was washi tape, something that was already on my radar but that I can never have enough of. Washi tape is made of Japanese paper and is similar to masking tape, but much more beautiful. I’ve been using it for a while to embellish cards and tags and to pretty up wrapped packages. I love stacking a few tapes, like layers of a cake, to decorate a birthday card or cutting smaller pieces into little flags. Washi tape used to be hard to find but now it’s everywhere, so try some the next time you need a little crafting pick me up. These tiny tapes make a big impact.

letting go

July 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

In the battle between pack rats and purgers, I fall somewhere in the middle. Sure, I hold onto things a little too long – almost always for sentimental reasons – and there are certain things I’m certain never to part with. However, when I feel the time is right, I do get to work and get rid of the stuff – but not without pausing to say goodbye. My girls are enjoying a few weeks of camp this month, and I’m using the downtime without my favorite companions and usual school commitments to clean up and organize my house. My biggest challenge: to downsize our toys and part with the rest of the baby gear.

I have loved all the precious little girl things that filled our house for the last 10 years; I had so much fun with the baby gadgets, carefully choosing and loving our Baby Bjorn carrier, Morigeau Lepine nursery furniture and Jacadi Paris crib bedding. We created so many memories with the girls and their favorite toys like the ride-on pink racing car and stuffed lamb rocker and dollhouse. Giving away the baby things takes time for me because it’s hard not to take the loss personally, to feel like I’m losing a bit of my girls’ childhoods. But I know that we can’t keep the things forever, and time moves on regardless.

I used to wonder why my mom let me get rid of some of my favorite toys like my Strawberry Shortcake or Barbie dolls (I sold most of my old playthings to make money for new obsessions). I asked her the question, and she said, “because you wanted to.” As a kid I think I had it right; children don’t dwell on the past, but live in the present and look to the future. Now I try to do the same and think like my younger self. Because holding onto the past and the old stuff doesn’t make my babies little again. There are some of my girls’ things I don’t think I’ll ever be able to part with like the Madeline and Madame Alexander dolls and some of the their beautiful clothes, which I plan to make into quilts. Some of the goodbyes have been tragic –  like my treasured Mountain Buggy double stroller, which we took on countless family adventures. But time marches on, and a garage once filled with strollers and car seats and wagons has given way to a garage filled with scooters and bicycles and skis.

So this week, as I’ve pieced through our house and purged the stuff we no longer need or use, I’ve enjoyed the time spent remembering all the joy we’ve had with our things. No one in the house is sad to see the annoyingly loud Lucky Ducky game go, but I’m a little emotional at the loss of Candy Land and Pretty Pretty Princess. And parting with the Disney Princess castle, which has been replaced by the Harry Potter Lego castle, is bittersweet. Goodbye Fisher Price Little People and My Little Ponies and Groovy Girls – I will never forget you. As each stage of my children’s lives pass (and all the stuff that comes with it), I will remember what perfect babies they were, what amazing girls they are now and what unbelievable women I know they will become. That makes me excited and happy to look to the future!

bottled memories

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

On vacation, we love to pick up souvenirs – nothing fancy, just little trinkets for us and the children in our close-knit friend group. It feels good to bottle some of our fun vacation vibe and share it with those we love. And as for me, my favorite home decor is the bits of nature – shells, driftwood, etc. – I’ve gathered from our adventures. So from this, our first trip to Maui, we found cool shell necklaces for all the kiddos, and I collected sand; displayed in glass spice jars from Cost Plus World Market, these new bottled memories make me happy.

glassybaby

May 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

I love glass – all types: mercury, milk, clear – and have it displayed throughout my home. Now I’ve discovered glassybaby, and their story has inspired me to expand my collection. In 1998, Lee Rhodes was battling cancer when she designed the first glassybaby. Lighting and displaying these colorful, resilient little works of art around her home brought Rhodes strength. Each one is unique and handmade by four glassblowers; the color choices are vast and can be soothing or vibrant. The company’s studio is located in the Seattle neighborhood of Madrona and, besides three Seattle-area locations, there is a store in New York’s West Village. From her difficult battle with cancer, Lee Rhodes found a light to help her through and has shared it with the world. Since 2003, glassybaby has donated more than $900,000 to charities. I love thinking about how something so simple can affect so many. It makes me happy to add a little bit of glassybaby to my world.

succulents

May 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

We are finally enjoying perfectly wonderful spring weather out here in the Pacific Northwest – time to get started with my type of gardening. Unlike several of my friends who have green thumbs, mine, in fact, is kind of brown. I am not great with plants, and my friend Stacy has made it her business to drop by my house from time to time to take care of my outdoor container pots. I think she feels sorry for them, or me, or both. But there is one type of plant that I’ve developed a love affair with: succulents. These tiny guys seem to thrive in my house (the possibility that it is because they are desert plants that can survive with little or no attention has not escaped me).

Last week I stopped by Molbak’s – an amazing gardening store in nearby Woodinville, Washington – to get some new spring succulents. My dad has huge, beautiful jade plants that he has been growing in terracotta on his back porch for years and, when I was in college, he would occasionally clip off some branches for me to bring back to spruce up my apartment. Since then, I’ve always tried to keep at least one jade going strong in my house, along with other favorites like hens and chicks and stonecrop. And it’s fun to put together combos in pretty low bowls and see how long I can keep them alive. Again, the fact that they are drought-resistant relatives of cacti with their own built-in water storage system doesn’t hurt. See, even us brown-thumbed girls can enjoy gardening!

the magic of Oz

May 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

This year for my birthday, my dad gave me the perfect gift: 27 vintage Wizard of Oz books he bought for me from a woman looking to part with them. She had initially contacted my uncle to see if he knew anyone who might be interested. His first response was no, but then he thought again and called my dad.

When I was little, my dad read many of the Wizard of Oz books out loud to my brother and me. I can vividly remember Friday and Saturday nights at Dad’s place, lying around in the living room listening to him read. I can still hear the voices my dad gave the characters and have such wonderful memories of those nights. I loved knowing that my dad had also read them as a little boy, and I have a couple of my Grammy’s old Oz books with illustrations she had colored in as a little girl.

Most people probably know of the original story from the book or movie – the one about Dorothy and her little dog too and their adventures in Oz after being swept off by a Midwest tornado. But that is only the beginning: L. Frank Baum wrote 14 Oz books, and Ruth Plumly Thompson was chosen by the family after Baum’s death to continue the story with 19 more. The Land of Oz was always my favorite. It’s about Tip, a young boy who lives with a mean witch Mombi until he tricks her out of her magical “Powder of Life”, sprinkles it on his new best friend Jack Pumpkinhead and sets off on a magical trip of his own to Oz. There he discovers that he is actually the lost Princess Ozma of Oz – I love that part!

It’s been fun to watch the love of Oz books continue as my husband has been reading them to my girls the past few years. Last year, while on vacation in Italy, the best night of our whole trip was the one curled up in our little rental house in Tuscany making pasta and reading Oz. It’s the one night of the trip the girls can’t stop talking about. It makes me so happy to have this little thing as part of my family history. Knowing that my daughters are reading and enjoying something that also brought such joy to me and my dad and my grandmother gives me such a warm feeling. And now my very cool collection of Oz books is a constant reminder. In 2003, my dad gave a copy of The Wizard of Oz to my oldest daughter when she turned one. In the front of the book he wrote: “There’s magic in here. My mom found it. Your mom found it. I found it. You will find it.” I love that!

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