Thursday, January 27, 2011



I like my life being full without it overflowing.

I like to have projects and activities without them being hectic and rushed.

I like to fit a lot in but I also love my down time.

In short I like Balance.

When there is Balance everyone is happy.

This week our lives have been busy mixed with quiet....just the way I like it.

Matt working on putting closets into the kids bedrooms in the new part of the house



Utilizing some of his MASSIVE tool collection....


Kids skyping their cousins in Australia under the supervision of George and Martha.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Putting Handmade to Work

IMG_0547 you already know how much of a fan I am of handmade things.

I like that there is a little piece of the person that made it in each handmade item.

It makes it personal...and special.

With that in mind, Matt, the kids and I sat down to work out how we can put our handmade to good work.

IMG_8626Every year we pick a family community service project to do together.  Last year we put together little Christmas gift bags for some children in remote villages in Guatemala. We sent them down with our local Bishop and some missionaries who gave them out to the kids.  My children really enjoyed seeing the fruits of their charity. And they decided that they wanted to do something like that again.
Guatemala 50th 102

So I sent out some emails to local charities here in Spokane asking if there was anything that they needed that we could make ourselves.  I got IMMEDIATE responses and a big YES from a number of charities asking for handmade blankets and quilts for babies and children.

The charities we will be helping provide support to low income pregnant women and parents with young children as well as serving as emergency and transitional shelters for homeless women and their children.  The work they do is invaluable in helping the vulnerable in our community so we are super excited to be able to lend them a hand.

We will take a number of months to complete our project. We are going to try and make as many quilts and blankets as we possibly can. So over the next few months I'll be posting updates on our project.  Putting our handmade to do some good work.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Case for Handmade


"That's the thing with handmade items. They still have the person's mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone. This is why everyone who eats a Whopper leaves a little more depressed than they were when they came in. Nobody cooked that burger."  

— Aimee Bender

There is an innate value in something that is handmade.

That someone took the time to plan and create it with their own hands.

Unfortunately the truth is that many things are cheaper to purchase already made than to buy the components and make it yourself from scratch. The cost of the yarn to knit yourself a scarf for example is often more than to buy a premade scarf at the store. Now don't get me wrong, sometimes that is great....I have absolutely no interest in making my own laptop, carpet or light fittings. I am happy and grateful to be able to buy these things from others who obviously have way more expertise and skill in manufacturing them.

But in other cases I think we lose something by not utilizing our own skills and talents. When I think back to my own childhood I realize that certain things I owned were almost exclusively homemade. My toys and those of my brothers were largely made by our Grandmother. She also made quilts and blankets for us, pottery and painted plates and dishes. She was the wife of a farmer and she lived in rural Australia so her creativity was often borne of necessity, but still those things she gave to us some 40 to 50 years ago still are used today by all our families and our children in turn. They have survived and are cared for and continue to bring joy to generations that my grandmother never met.

They are something of a legacy.

So I think about my own children. Whatever they need for their day to day lives can be bought.....clothes, shoes, food etc but do they have the skills to make these things themselves using their own 2 hands?
Just so they know they can. 
Just so those skills aren't lost to this and future generations of our family.
Just so.

We talked about this as the New Year approached and we decided that 2011 was going to be good time to tackle this to some small degree in our family. We are working on a couple of ideas that I will be sharing a little later, but our hope is that we will plant a seed that will grow a legacy....even if it is a little one.

"Good apprentices know that they are in the process of becoming masters and that as responsible artisans they must seek to improve upon the knowledge entrusted to them and go further." 

— William Coperthwaite (A Handmade Life)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Outside my window

Images from outside my window this morning.





Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Breakthrough....finally!


Today is a red letter day.

I almost wasn't going to post about it because I'm worried what was done today won't be repeatable.

It is something I have been trying to do for over a year now.

Trying and failing.

But in retrospect all that failure was probably building the groundwork for today's success.

I didn't even feel like going to the pool today but it was on my training schedule like it has been twice a week for months.
I reluctantly went, just like I had every time before.

Hoping for the best, expecting the worst.

Now just to be clear...I CAN swim.
I grew up in Australia, on the beach and had a backyard swimming pool throughout my entire childhood. So I could definitely swim but it was only once I started in triathlon I realized that I wasn't swimming with any degree of efficiency and after swimming only a hundred yards I would be gasping for breath and my arms felt like lead.

Bottom endurance and no technique.

So I have been spending a lot of time in the pool and with the guidance of Coach Scott, I have been trying to work on my technique but it was only today that it all fell into place.

I took the kids with me to the pool and I had a half hour to do my workout. Usually I'll swim about 250 yards then have to stop to get my breath back...then another 200 or so and so it hass been going.  But today I got in and swam......I swam 1200 yards without stopping, keeping my heart rate low and without even getting close to running out of breath. By the end of my workout I felt I could have just kept going.

I was so excited that I almost grabbed the hairy, shirtless 400lb man swimming in the next lane and hugged him....ALMOST.

I just hope today's workout was not an apparition. I have another date with the pool on Saturday, (as usual) so I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Menagerie

Meet the new additions to our menagerie.

George and Martha....

Definitely not....


Ahhhh...that's them. Aren't they cute.

George is the green one....Martha is blue.

We're working on training them so they can be out of the cage during the day and only in the cage at night. At the moment they are sitting on the back of my chair as we do homeschool.

There was a lot of discussion yesterday about getting a new pet....a gerbil,a hamster, guinea pig or even a mouse. But my aversion to all rodent-like creatures led us to a bird. Two actually.

So we are hoping George and Martha like their new home. Not sure if Beau the dog is happy about it but I'm sure he can learn to share.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Busy Little Hands

busy hands

Little hands have been busy around here lately....

Making simple machines in science


Homemade rice filled handwarmers


Sewing a bag from scratch.


Piecing together a new quilt


Ok...that last one was big hands...but you get the idea!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Eagle Watching


Matt took us to Coeur d'Alene today to see the Bald Eagles.

Over the winter months the eagles come to CDA to feed off the spawning salmon. You can read more about it here .


It was cold and snowing....and totally worth it.

Armed with our cameras and binoculars we watched these majestic birds soar.

They take my breath away.  They really are just the most beautiful creatures.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My New Favorite Kids Book


This is hot property in our house at the moment.

"The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick

One child finished the book in less than a day....the next one grabbed it straight away and started reading. I had to wait for my turn.
Visually it really is a beautiful book. It's full of gorgeous illustrations.



And the story unfolds much like a movie.
It's charming and totally captivating.
My new favorite kids book.

At Our House Last Night.....


Colonial Night.

No lights...only candles

No computers, ipods or t.v

Just the 5 of us.

Talking.  Reading. Eating.  Laughing.  In the candlelight.


Pilgrims again for one night. Nearly.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Resolutions

I'm not telling.
I made a list of resolutions but I have decided to keep them to myself.
Weird huh!
But there is a little logic mixed in with the crazy. You see, I am a list maker and follower. Sometimes to the point that it completely stifles my spontaneity. I think putting my resolutions"out there" may make me a slave to them.  It may cause me to overlook other opportunities that may come may way and worse I might just feel like I'm going through the motions....doing things just so I can tick them off my list.

Do you sense I have list could be right.

I am prepared to share the contents of my list if I do actually tick any of them off....Oh wait....number one on my list was:

1 - Take a Polar Bear Plunge.

Check....did that yesterday. See, I can share. friend Michelle has made an awesome list of 111 things she wants to do in 2011. So skip on over there if you want to see a person without "list issues".

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Starting the New Year Off with a Splash


Nothing like starting the New Year off with a splash.

To herald in the New Year I joined some of my teammates from Team Blaze and ran the Hangover Handicap 5 Mile Race this morning. It was c-c-cold. My car said minus 1 degrees F which is about minus 20 degrees C. But after the first mile or so I warmed up and it was just breathtaking running around Lake Coeur d'Alene. 

After the race we headed over to Sanders beach to join all my other crazy friends to do the Polar Bear Plunge in Lake CDA.  Yes...that's right.  Plunging into a frigid lake. Hold on...lets back up....let me just give you a little background here first.

Doing a polar plunge is on my bucket list.  When I found out there was one at CDA on Jan 1st I figured "why not".  I mentioned it to some friends here and there.  Most thought I was crazy....but to my surprise a number of my friends got onboard with the whole idea and agreed to join in.  So fun...its always better to do something ridiculous with company. 


So I met Matt, the kids( yes they were eager to join in too) and all our friends at Sanders beach and prepared to plunge. Did I mention that it was a teensy bit cold????



I was actually surprised to see so many people there. These Pacific Northwesterners are a tough lot.  Snow all over the beach and icy water won't stop them. Then there was a countdown...( and a polar bear in a boat).....and in we all plunged ....all 19 of us.

{This series of pictures really makes me laugh - you can see how cold it was just from looking at the expressions on peoples faces}






Got the year off to a great far 2011 is looking gooood.