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Showing posts from July, 2014

July Reads

Birch Bay Sunset, rainbow hues

July has been hot out here. When you live in the top story of an apartment building, and there's no air conditioning, it can feel just over the needle of uncomfortably warm when the day is above 76 degrees. We've kept blinds shut, windows open, and a fan continually blowing as it's perched in our living room window well.
Just about the only thing I feel like doing after a long day is laying on the couch straight in the fan's air circulation path, and read a good book. I had some unique picks this month.

*#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso This book was just plain fun to read. Amoruso developed the iconic ebay store NastyGal way back when vintage selling on ebay was a thing. Now she's a millionaire with a kicking website that she started from scratch and didn't owe a dime to anyone else for. It's a great 200 pager with stories on dumpster diving for daily food, entrepreneurship tips, and being the backwards kid that no one thought wou…

Small Debt Victories and the Blessing of a New (Used) Car

Our new (used) Toyota
Debt. It's become an ugly word to me. A word that is weighted with dislike. Heavy with constriction. Pregnant with owing. You get my drift. 
We started out with our big move across 1800 miles with minimal debt (around $5K in student loans). We should have been hard balling those numbers for the previous 2 years or so, but instead we just lived really comfortably and didn't think about it much. We didn't have a ton of material possessions, but we enjoyed ourselves, once a week Chipotle, a new dress here and there. It adds up. We weren't practicing penny pinchers, mostly because we had done it for so long before and we needed a break, or a reward, or just an extended vacation from trying. But that's not how debt works. If you don't snowball it, it will snowball you. 
That's what happened to us this past 18 months, as we needed a second vehicle, a commuter vehicle that would be great on gas. We chose to buy a new Honda motorcycle, getting…

Above-the-Head Humor + Animal Name Puns

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Saturday morning cartoons meets post-modern fairy tale humor in this poetic picture book, Zany Zoo by William Wise. Illustrated by the artist behind the Tacky series, you and your kids will enjoy this crazy romp through the animal kingdom on my children's literature review site, The Well Read Sleepyhead. See you over there!

5 {Foodie} Instagrammers That I Love

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After years of putting it off, I've finally become a member of the instagram community. I must say, you people are beautiful photographers. It's amazing what a quick capture and a few great filters can do nowadays. I'm a really visual person and seeing lovely arrangements, crisp landscapes, and different color palette-mixing is quite an inspiration. I'm especially in love with all the foodie photos on instagram.

I rarely have a cookbook in my cupboard that does not boast a picture-a-page, and it's for good reason. If I see it and it looks healthy and delicious, I want to make it, simple as that. Instagram is a great place for me to follow some amazing cooks, and although I follow most of these cooks and bakers on their blogs, I thought I'd share a quick list of my favorite {foodie} instagrammers, so you might take a peek, too, and find a new idea for dinner.

*Aimee Bourque from SimpleBites.net has by far the best spreads. Her photo usually captures …

10 Summer {Budget} Date Night Ideas

Believe it or not, but there is no filter on this Birch Bay sunset photo, just the black rubber phone case that got in the way. It's almost impossible to capture the water -sunsets here, but this photo comes pretty dang close.

The thing about not having a lot of money to spend on extras, is that it makes you incredibly resourceful. Because you have boundaries, you have to create your own environment within those boundaries, and it's a well known fact that boundaries create geyser-like surges of creativity.

For example, you should see the gourmet meals that come from my kitchen when I have very, very little in the fridge. After having kids, my few hours of time by myself (naps, then quiet time, or early morning hours) is the time where my mind is clear, I can get a lot done, and I put the pedal to the medal with the projects I want to work on. It's as if the constraints forced me to narrow my focus.

When we moved here 18 months ago, without close family nearby (our regular …

Quirky and Mathemagical (Yup, I just made that up)

1) Press play while you go brush your teeth, take a quick sip of water, and change out of your pajamas (no judgement, I know it's Saturday). 
2) Now check out this week's kid-lit post on my children's book review blog, The Well-Read Sleepyhead, about the Sir Cumference and Lady Di of Ameter mathemagical series. 
3) Be prepared to answer at least one question about pi.  
Extra Credit: go put as many of these fun books on hold at your local library!

Garden Glimpse

Our church's community garden is growing like crazy right now. Out here in the Pacific Northwest, we've had a hot spell for at least the past week. Thankfully, our secret beach is a short distance away and a free ocean water cool-off is always easy to get to.

The heat has been amazing for the garden, though, and now it's my turn to water. A friend of mine watered the first month for the summer, and now she's headed out on vacation and I'm up for the next month. It needs near-daily watering, and I know by week three I am going to squeal if there's a day of rain, but honestly, it's a small price to pay (around 30 minutes of work, more if I weed) for delicious organic vegetables for free.

 The bird houses on the fence posts are new this year, and so far I have yet to see any birds flying in and out of them. The paths--aside from the mulched parts--are completely overgrown with clover, weeds, and grass. Once the mulch gets put down everywhere it will look lik…

Using VBS as a Restorative Retreat

kayakers off the coast of Bellingham Bay
This past week the kids enjoyed a full week's schedule of games, activity stations, skits, sugar, and friends. Apart from me. Full on 6 hours a day in someone else's care. It was glorious.
Our local church holds a day camp from 9AM-3PM every day for one full week in July every year. It's an outside group called CEF who puts it on, Northwood is just the landing place for their first week. Last year, Lukka was able to participate and had a really fun time. Ani cried on the two-block walk home, because she didn't get to go. We spent almost the entire week hanging out at the local jazz festival, and playing with friends. Now that she is kindergarten age, she could attend. 
It is not an exaggeration to state that I was possibly the most excited. 
In nearly 18 months since we moved, I had had one other extended break (4 days) away from my kids. Four days. In a  year and a half. While homeschooling full-time. I had hit burnout ages ago …

Joaquin's Creepy Mustache, and Her

Well, that was certainly unexpected. And expected.
Stefan and I spent a couple days watching the Oscar-winning drama Her, and both came away with the feelings of being impressed, creeped out, informed, and well, entertained.

The plot is a modern take on a 1984-esque story. The main character, Theo, played by Joaquin and his creepy mustache (and yes, the mustache was a perfect fit for the character!), falls in love with his computer, Samantha, a female companion 'matched' for him from a series of questions. Scarlett Johannson plays the perfect body-less, sexy voice of the artificial intelligence, who 'learns' as she is used. Think charging your car battery while you run the car, but in a much more complex way.

As Theo is finalizing a divorce, he starts to spend most of his free time with Samantha, who quickly becomes his girlfriend. The other characters try to accept this new 'different' lifestyle, as a lot of people in the culture have started dating their com…

Into the Wilderness We Go...

Well, sorta.

We were only about 20 minutes from civilization, but when you have to backpack and hike to your destination spot where there are no modern amenities (I'm looking at you electricity and plumbing), it feels like the deep woods. Realistically, we were just north of the valley town of Mission, BC. This spot is Devil's Lake, and it's very close by to massively-more-impressive Stave Lake.

This is probably the smallest lake I've seen yet up there, so small, in fact, I was surprised they even called it such. Stefan was used to smugly calling our Nebraskan lakes ponds, so with a body of water you couldn't even take more than a rowboat out on, I was a bit taken aback. Apparently the fishing is good here, because Saturday there was a large family fishing almost the whole day and then early Sunday morning two more guys showed up to fish.

The kids, of course, love camping and found instant gratification in catching 9 baby bullhead fish in the course of an hour or …

Found Objects

date night in White Rock at the pier
I haven't done a bag of tricks links in a long time. Here's all the fun, interesting, smart, or silly things I've been loving 'round the internet. Enjoy!
She totally gets it. There are no better girly barrettes than these little candy rolls.  What a perfect little craft idea that won't take more than 10 minutes!How do nerds play? They read young-adult fiction for fun. Currently I'm reading Kate DiCamillo's Flora & Ulyssess and I love it. No wonder it won the Newberry for this year.  Rumors of a movie!This lady's weavings are beautiful. She was starting out well before it was popular (again). I am so inspired by these. I love textured pieces. I'm on instagram (after, ahem, finally crawling out from under my rock)!Political: Following the Hobby Lobby issue? Stay away from facebook, but see how this liberal secularist shows how conservatives understands liberals more. Too much of a mouthful? Watch his TED talk (o…

Let Freedom Ring

Wishing everyone a safe and thankful 4th of July holiday. May we reflect on those who sacrificed much for our country. 


Amazing Grace
by John Newton (1725-1807)

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall profess, within the vail,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less …