Tuesday
Mar172015

desk overhaul

There is something about a nice desk that makes a room feel lived in.  Both Nick and I had desks in our rooms growing up and I loved having so many drawers at my disposal for stashing art supplies, treasures and journals. Although Jonas might be a little young still to take full advantage of a desk, we happened upon a nearly discarded desk with "good bones' so to speak, and I decided to re-finish it to make it suitable for our boy's room.

The desk how we found it had some crude stencil painting on the wood top (with several layers of yellowing varnish) and the rest of the desk was painted black and mint green. I say the desk was very nearly discarded, and it was, by us.  It belonged to Nick's dad and when we were going through his house, the desk ended up on the curb with the ubiquitous "FREE" sign attached.   In the moment, we had so much to deal with that neither of us could envision fixing up the desk.  However, the next day the desk was still sadly sitting at the curb and I decided it should be preserved after all.  

The desk sat in our garage in its black and mint glory for a year, plus or minus, in various stages of refinishing.  I sanded the top of the desk into submission with my orbital sander and did a light sanding on the rest of the painted wood before priming it with an oil based primer.  I like the look of the unpainted wood top and wanted to get down to bare wood again for staining.  The drawers had suffered from use and aren't in the greatest condition, but i didn't have time or patience to fill any of the imperfections with wood putty.  We'll just say that desk is a bit broken in.

The colors on the desk might look familiar, since they are the same colors I used for Jonas' play stove a year ago (which is getting lots of use these days).  I used some stain we had left over from staining his bedroom dresser.  The only thing I think I spent money on for this project were the new pulls.  Overall, I was pleased with the makeover and glad the trusty old desk will get more years of use.  

Monday
Mar092015

four 

Someone had a birthday.  We had started the countdown to this birthday many months ago with the gradual increase of the fraction that came after 3 ( 3 & 1/2,  3 & 2/3, 3 & 5/6 and so on).  So when the day finally rolled around and Jonas became officially 4 years old, we all felt a sense of accomplishment.  In the preschool world, 4 is a big deal.   Jonas has become much more talkative, even with folks we meet around the town, and he will not skip a beat in telling them his name, how it's spelled and that he is four, often without taking a breath.   This fast spree of words is often lost on the interested (or semi-interested) adult, but Jonas doesn't seem to mind.   Nick and I agree he is much more outgoing than we were at his age.  At his preschool, he usually keeps to himself and if he does engage with someone, it is much more likely to be another parent or teacher, rather than a peer.  Still, a few small friendships are forming and we sit back and try to sprinkle some water on them from time to time.  

As a present for this birthday, I made Jonas a collared shirt in a striking owl print I noticed at the fabric store a few months back.  Owls are one of the animals that interest Jonas from time to time and their quiet, observant behavior seemed a good match for his personality.  Furthermore, a 4 year old is one of the only people who can pull off a brightly patterned shirt with pearlized snaps.  And pairing it with car-printed corduroy pants -- genius!

The pattern is an Oliver + S classic, the Sketchbook Shirt.   The printed pattern comes with a shorts pattern as well that I hope to try out soon.  I made the shirt in a size 5 which is nearly too small for him already -- so I'm encouraging him to wear it often.   I used a few scraps of a chambray fabric as well to break up the pattern and give the shirt some added detail.   Everything came together amazingly well and I would definitely make another shirt from the pattern again.   

Here's looking at you -- big kid.   Happy Birthday, little owlet.  

Tuesday
Nov112014

Inky Little Honey

When I inherited two colors of yarn from another knitting project that didn't quite come to fruition, I wasn't quite sure what I would do with it myself.   I searched the patterns at Ravelry looking for something with the right gauge and yardage to fit my stash.  When I chanced upon the Little Honey pattern, I knew the striped ragalan sleeved sweater, with the little pockets, would be perfect.   I went all the way up to a size 6 for the pattern just to make sure it would last at least one season. 

Even though the sweater fits Jonas just right -- he doesn't care to wear it much, saying the sleeeves feel "rough".  However, at the same time he's hitting me up for a purple sweater, so I suppose I have my work cut out for me to find a nice soft yarn for my next project.  

I think the sweater looks adorable though and will still encourage him to wear it -- roughness and all.  

Tuesday
Nov112014

giraffe boy

Halloween snuck up on us quickly this year, probably due to the lovely warm October weather and the leaves changing later in the season than usual.   We were excited to see how Jonas would react to the festivities, especially trick-or-treating.  

Jonas decided early on he would be a giraffe this year for Halloween, which pleased me since the costume would be relatively easy to put together and because it is still a sweet, gentle creature and I'm not ready for my little boy to want to be a ninja or an action figure.  I was also lucky enough to find some nice giraffe print fabric which was soft and cuddly.   Generally, I re-made his bear costume from when he was 1 with some tweaks and using larger patterns (of course).   To design the ears, tufts and mane, I used felt and just winged it with the design and shape.  The tufts were the hardest to pull off and flopped over like the ears.   The mane is probably my favorite element of the hat.  We even visited the zoo the week of Halloween to check out the giraffes that live there and their lovely orange manes.  

The pants are made from the same pattern I've used before (Made by Rae's Parsely Pants) and have a rear seam that was perfect for inserting the tail.   Tails always seem to be the most fun part of an animal costume for a kid -- and Jonas still enjoys wearing his giraffe pants around town and shaking his tail.  

My brother was in visiting and took Jonas out for some fun Halloween evening (I had to work) and Jonas quickly became hooked on trick-or-treating.  So much in fact, he made Nick take him out again to houses on our street when they returned from trick-or-treating in another neighborhood.   Yes, kids in Seattle do go out to the neighborhoods for trick-or-treating, but usually swarm to certain areas of town that are more conducive than our own poorly lighted, dead-end street.  In fact, the only trick-or-treater we had that evening was Jonas. Good thing he picked out candy he likes.  

Thursday
Sep112014

time on waldron

A few months ago, some good friends of ours decided to pack up their farm in Wisconsin and move back to the Northwest for a taste of life in the San Juan Islands of Washington.  Looking for a place where they could have a simple and sustainable lifestyle, they discovered Waldron Island, a small island north of Orcas Island.   Waldron isn't accessable by ferry and the community living on the island has eschewed opening the island to the type of tourism rife on the larger San Juan Islands.   Our friends visited Waldron mid-winter of this year and by April were living in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.  They people they had met on the island (some with young kids similar in age to their girls) were living the way they had envisioned, so they decided to give Waldron a try for a year.   Personally, we were excited to have them living back on the West coast and to get to visit them in their new home.  

We were fortunate enough to get a ride out to Waldron from the Orcas Island ferry dock from a neighbor of theirs who was making a run on his boat to Orcas to deliver some freshly pressed apple cider.   Soon after we delivered the cargo (and tangled with the marina owner who was unhappy about deliveries being made on his dock without permission) we were stepping out onto a sandy beach and being greeted by our friends.   This was the beach and house of the neighbor and we took a short trip down the dirt road to our friend's home.  

On the way, we dropped our things at our lodging -- a one room cabin that our friend Eric was the caretaker of.

The cabin was filled with light and looked out on the water and was a magical place to spend our evenings.  The owner of the cabin had been a woman named Bitte Baer who was a longtime resident of Waldron.  The families that inherited the cabin don't live on the island so we were lucky enough to inhabit it for our visit.

We spent most of our time at the other cabin our friends were renting.  Jamie cooked all of our meals on a wood burning stove, occasionally lamenting how difficult it was to cook certain items like rice.  I gained a serious appreciation for our electric stove at home, especially when craving a cup of tea.  The cabin was airy and cozy and you didn't really miss the electricity so much until the dark rolled in at night and it felt easier just to go to bed than to stay up and read by candlelight.

Our first full day on the island was spent helping another neighbor press apples into cider on his farm.  Many people on the island grow apples, some for export to other islands and famer's markets, others just for their own use.  The family we were helping used their orchard for their own use and canned the cider to drink all year long.  They were growing dozens of varieties of apples and pears and had some stories to tell about certain ones that grew well and others that didn't.  The kids enjoyed washing the fruit before the pressing and getting to have mugs of cider fresh off of the press.  

As for getting around on the island, we all biked and carried the kids in bike trailers.  This allowed us to navigate the island pretty well.  Waldron is about 4 miles across and has about 500 feet elevation gain on the Mountain road, so bikes are ideal modes of travel.  The roads are all dirt and not frequented by very many vehicles.  After the cider pressing we hopped on bikes and had a picnic at the schoolhouse.   The school on Waldron runs through 8th grade then graduates either move to a more populated island or to the mainland.  One of the familes we met was preparing to leave with their kids and move to Seattle so the girls could start high school.  I could only imagine the culture shock of starting high school in Seattle when one is accustomed to a small, island school.  

 We quietly passed the rest of our visit exploring the beaches and meeting residents of Waldron.  We were invited to dinner at the beach with Jamie and Eric's neighbor and their family.  Jonas and the other kids played "otter family" with some of the friends while we enjoyed visiting with locals and hearing about their experiences on Waldron and what brought them out to live on the island.  The weather was perfect and I could see the draw of wanting to live in a beautiful and remote place. 


The day before we left, we biked up to a Nature Conservancy trail that runs out to the bluff at Point Disney.  The bluff offers a great view of the islands and a chance to look down a very steep cliff.  

Our time on Waldron seemed special since we watched Jonas change into a more social and interactive kid during our visit.  He enjoyed creative play with the girls and talking with the adults.   He also overcame his adversity to beach sand and walked all morning barefoot on a rocky and sandy beach.   He climbed, biked, ran and hiked with joy and enthusiasm.   It is exciting to watch this area of his development.  

Whether our friends will settle on Waldron remains to be seen. We have a feeling that the first winter on the island will be a test of sorts.  They are moving into a more modern house, with a propane stove and solar power, which will be nice in the dark winter.   Nick and I agree that we are not island people ourselves and like the ability to roam and explore a greater geographic area.   Still, we were charmed by the beauty of Waldron and the simple pace of life that exisits there.  If Jamie and Eric do stay, we will certainly be back to visit.  Maybe this time with our Kayak in tow.