Monday, December 21, 2009

Early Christmas at the Raggedy Edge

Our friends' house is really coming together—books out of boxes, some running water, electricity here and there, 1 1/2 toilets—but we'd have fun sharing a tent for a week (oh wait; we've actually done that!), so these quirks didn't really seem like hardships. Claire and Ethan were little cats crawling through various nooks and crannies, and I introduced James to the joys of t-shirt stenciling with freezer paper. (The James Bond design? His idea!) And we got to spend an evening puppy-sitting Stacy's brother's Akita, such a sweet little puff of a dog. Hard to believe that he'll be a real handful someday.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tricks and treats

Ethan may not have the dark hair and tall, skinny frame of the time-traveling Doctor, but he definitely has the attitude. And great hair, don't you think? His mom, well, heaven knows she looks nothing like any of the Doctor's assistants (and wouldn't last 5 seconds with a Dalek), but she's up for a lark. And we love driving people crazy with our bad British accents.

And this is Patrick! We should have gotten a picture of the two of them together. They're less than two years apart, but Patrick is 6'3". Ethan is...not. And I don't need to add that Patrick's mother is a professional artist and overall creative genius. This costume was even more amazing in person (and when worn frontwards)*. The tiny trick-or-treaters out tonight were pretty excited to see this guy running around!

*Due to hindered movement and impaired vision, this costume is not approved by the Safety Committee. Do not wear this on stairs. Or in cars. Or on narrow walkways. Or indoors. Or crossing stairs. Or while around smaller people. Just hold still and look really awesome.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Prepping for the big day

We had four pumpkins but only got ambitious enough to carve two of them. The spider is Ethan's design, and Dad did the scary face. Mom was too busy making pumpkin pies! Needless to say, the kitchen smelled wonderful! (And was an utter mess later that evening, but that's what turning the lights out is for.)

Another bit of essential Halloween prep is the treat bag. A TARDIS* bag is the perfect candy collecting receptacle. After all, it's much bigger on the inside!

*Time And Relative Dimension In Space. :) If you didn't already know this, you really should put Doctor Who in your Netflix queue. (The tenth doctor, David Tennant, is our favorite.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Future Master Guide?

In honor of Ethan's official entry into the Torchbearers Pathfinder club, I took some really dark blurry pictures. Let's hope he will follow the example of his father the Eagle Scout instead of his mother the Pathfinder dropout.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Balloon Dad...

...was too busy grading papers, but Chickenhawk posed in his Harvest Party costume.

Sadly, my mylar creation did not rise, even when filled with helium balloons. Which probably means we will never make it on reality TV.

One last weekend

It's always nice to squeeze one last recreational weekend out of the year, but with mornings in the 20's I'm glad we didn't try camping! Wallowa Lake is gorgeous in October. Nothing is open--you have to drive about 12 miles to civilization if you forget something really important like, just for example, ketchup--but it's peaceful and the salmon are spawning and the colors are amazing and you can even manage a little paddle! Ethan left us in his wake. The kids loved watching the salmon, perhaps especially the dead ones, which were the perfect subjects for rather violent fish autopsies. Another nice surprise was finding that the Rock Whisperer had visited the river as well.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Crazy little makeover

The other day I got this whim about our coat rack. I forgot to take a "before" picture, so you'll have to imagine the oak-colored veneer and a front panel covering up where the shoes are. It had a bench with storage, which seemed like a great idea, but you had to lift the lid to get into it, and it was just a big open box, so it wasn't great for storing shoes, especially since backpacks and purses inevitably ended up on the lid.

Anyway, we knocked out the front panel (a jig saw helped) and turned that panel into a second shoe shelf, held up on the side by scrap 1x4s from the basement. A scrap of 2x2 became a post to reinforce the center of the bench (since the front panel was no longer doing this).

A trip to Home Depot for black spray paint, four more hooks so we can hang more stuff, and a couple of trim bits to hide the cut edges finished it off. After spraying my way through 3 1/2 cans, I can barely move my right arm, and I killed roughly 68,000 brain cells with fumes (will be more careful next time), but seeing our tidy shoes-in-a-row replacing the nightmare of shoes-in-a-heap makes it worth it. A nice plus is that I don't miss that fake oak look. Much prefer painted fake oak!

Am thinking a natural linen cushion might be nice...maybe with a black monogram in the center? Just a little something to make us respect the flat surface instead of piling bags and things on it.

Pssst....see that extra little hook on the side? Keys! And a leash! Hurrah!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Just a typical day on the homestead

We were the incredibly lucky guests of two farm parties this fall--the Priddy party with the Spokane ALS support group (the highlight of Cassie's summer for sure) and the Dietrich party. Wow. Almost made us want to live on the farm, except for, you know, all the chores and work and everything.

The pictures at the Dietrich Homestead speak for themselves:

Fun! Not often I get home from a party with hay in my pants. Can't beat that!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jammin' with the Pathfinders

We took a hike around Dry Falls with beautiful views of lakes and rock formations (and extremely cute kids and dogs), and here I am with only a couple of pictures from the campground. Yep, no spare batteries. Hmmm...Becky? Any chance you got a few hike shots for me?

Ethan has been a Pathfinder for only two weeks (our club just started) and he had a blast at his first Jamboree. After three hours of Sabbath School and Church (including practice for an SS drama) and a couple more program hours on the agenda for later in the day, he was feeling a smidge put upon about all the sitting, but as it turned out a huge windstorm blew in that canceled the evening program. We did still drive up to Grand Coulee Dam for the light show, which was a major hit all around. No storm and wind up there at all, but when we returned to camp there were branches all over the place. Made it easy to decide what to do for our community service Sunday morning!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Jan, please get a life

Every year this sign returns to the fairgrounds to taunt me. Last year I managed to scrape off the errant apostrophe in "loose item's." This year, I went after "seat belt's." I can't be completely satisfied with my guerrilla editing efforts because I can't tighten the tracking on the remaining letters, but nevertheless I like to think I'm making the carnival world a slightly more delightful place.

I can't decide what to attack next year. The random comma after "Or,"? The one in "stop, before exiting"? I could tackle the comma splice in number 4 (though that would involve drawing in the top of a semi-colon, which is a bit daunting) or delete the comma and add two periods to number 2. A Sharpie would work, but that would quite honestly feel a bit TOO wicked for my law-abiding self. Maybe some concealed vinyl stickers in my purse?

(Right now you are either rolling your eyes about my freaky punctuation obsession or scouring my post for the deliciously ironic joy of finding an even more egregious example of bad grammar and punctuation. And if/when you find one, I'd like to think that you'll believe I put it in here on purpose.)

The county fair!

In Walla Walla, only schmucks pay admission to go to the fair. If you are on the ball, you enter an art project, a giant pumpkin, an amazing apple pie. (We paid admission because mom just couldn't get her act together with the entry forms and Becky, who usually reminds me and/or fills the forms out FOR me, was in Oshkosh.) We also paid an extortionate amount for rides because we have a 10-year-old who now has the height--and the nerve--to enjoy them! Aaack! When did this happen??

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Toppenish for dinner? Why not?

We heard Brenda was going to be a mere two-hour drive away from us, so we zipped down near Yakima for a quick dinner-and-DQ adventure. It was great to catch up!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One last fling before back-to-school

It felt a little crazy to spend a day at the lake with school looming on Monday, but on the other hand, what better time to go? We joined the UChurch children's ministries group for a beautiful day of kayaking, picnicking and canoeing. Grandma came along and we didn't get a single picture of her! Bother!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Finally figured out how to make bias tape!

I've been eyeing those tape-making gadgets at JoAnn's and finally figured out how to make my own bias tape with a sewing machine and a safety pin instead! There were good instructions online for making a long strip of bias (like this one...steps 5 through 7 were all I needed), but the trick for me was realizing how twisty the tube had to be. Some of the diagrams online make it look like you sew a fairly straight seam to make a simple tube, and it's actually a bit of a struggle because of how twisty the tube is, especially when using a small square of fabric like I did.

Then getting the strips folded and ironed was the fun part! I was going to eyeball it and just iron the sides down when I spotted a safety pin by the ironing board. I just stuck the pin through the ironing board cover, leaving room for about an inch of fabric to slide under. Once I got it started, I could pretty much pull the tape through and let the edges of the safety pin "fold" it into place. The little gadget from Joann's might have done a slightly better job, but it would have cost me something (plus I probably would have misplaced it by now anyway! if you've seen my sewing area you know this is true).

My new sewing vow is to (1) use stuff that's already lying around or (2) only buy things that will help me finish existing almost-done projects. So my bias tape whim was for refashioning this perfectly good, horribly unflattering boxy denim shirt I never wear but can't throw out because it fits and goes with everything (stupid, I know). I cut the sleeves shorter, cut the collar into more of a round scoop neck, and took in the sides to make it a little more fitted. Then I got to use my fun new practically free bias tape to finish the edges! (Yes, I am one of those women who should wear long sleeves year round, but it gets HOT here--plus I wasn't fooling anyone with the slightly longer sleeves, and at least now they don't hit me at the thickest point of my arms!)

Hmmm, no "after" picture, but you'll probably see me wear it sometime. Super comfortable. I did a refashion with Claire this summer too--she was "in the mood to sew something" so we cut the legs straight across off a pair of her too-short, worn out jeans and sewed on a ruffle from an old sheet that had already been cut apart to make quilt blocks! Good sewing practice for her, quick gratification, and nothing lost if it didn't turn out. (It did, though, because anything is cute on her!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grandparent Camp!

While dad took an Advanced Placement teaching class and mom worked, Ethan spent the week getting spoiled in Salem. I sent the camera along, which meant getting a few strange some cute ones with the cousins. Quite a week: OMSI, Enchanted Forest, ice cream three times a day (actually not sure about that last one, but there was definite spoiling going on).

A couple of weeks later he spent a week at Grandma Camp in Spokane (equal opportunity spoilage), but we didn't send the camera that time. He saw the new Miyazaki movie and went to the children's museum and...drum roll...was finally tall enough to drive a go-cart. (I think those were the activities for the first day!?) Anyway, I'm sure Grandma got some pics that we'll eventually load here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ideas for improving your summer

I highly recommend urging some really nice friends to buy a boat. Then you get to ride in the boat without actually buying one and having to figure out how to fix it and all that boring grownup stuff. Plus if you're really cheeky, you can bring more friends along to share the fun, like maybe your red-haired goddaughter (maniac in bottom photo) and her family. And even if on some sunny weekend you aren't invited, as long as you know where they like to launch the boat, you could just sit there and look really pitiful and because they're so nice maybe they'll let you on board anyway. Next summer I could hedge my bets by bringing a cooler full of Pepsi and beer....or ewww, maybe not.

By the way, Lyons Ferry is a fantastic day trip from Walla Walla, but it was a pretty miserable place to camp. Nothing much but sun and rattlesnakes. Poor Claire--we always have her stay with us for the hottest week of the summer!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Fourth of July

We couldn't think of anything to do after church, and since it was 98 degrees on our shaded front porch, we headed up to Harris Park for a cool late afternoon walk. HA. We should have known this was a bad idea when we saw only about three other cars at the trailhead. It was quite hot despite an occasional breeze from the river. So we had a very short walk (didn't even get as far as the rock fireplaces) and spent most of the time skipping rocks.

The highlight was stopping to return a couple of books and say hello to Sherry, Patrick, and Leroy, which turned into a pizza supper, which turned into fireworks way past dark. (Perhaps this is why people turn out the lights and hide when they see our van drive by? Hmmmm.)

I've read so many articles at work about Fireworks Danger ("You'll put your eye out!") that I can barely get myself to look at a fireworks stand, so Ethan was pretty thrilled when Patrick generously shared the privilege of lighting his fireworks...and Mom allowed it. Good times!