Articles by " admin"
30 Nov
2014

Black Christmas (Sponsored)

Black Friday gets its name for what color business ledgers turn with all the extra income accumulating from holiday shoppers, and in that same vein, we’re hoping to have a black Christmas here at home, which for us means keeping er…getting our finances under control and out of the red. Historically, Simon and I have always been pretty willy-nilly with budgeting (read: we’ve never actually used a budget), but this is the year we finally buckled down and have attempted to establish (and stick to) a plan we hope will not only help us feel more financially secure on a day-to-day basis but also allow us to shore up for future expenses, from fun stuff like vacations and home improvement projects to looming things like college tuition for two kids (aiiieee!). Read more >>

13 Nov
2014
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
By    12 Comments

I Never See You Anymore, It’s Like You’ve Gone Away

I won’t call it a blog hiatus because that feels much more structured and dignified than what actually happened, which is that I got swamped with work and also more-than-usually neurotic about the idea that if I’m going to publish something on the internet, it better mean something. I still believe that’s a worthy goal, if you have time for it (which I clearly don’t), but I’ve also come to accept that impossibly high standards can be the enemy of putting forth effort, at least to those of us impossible creatures who don’t like to even try things they’re not absolutely certain they’ll excel at. While this philosophy of living is sound when it comes to, say, climbing Everest without oxygen or eating one of everything on the McDonald’s menu in one sitting, it’s probably overkill for things like posting a few paragraphs and photos on your old forgotten weblog. I’ll be darned if it doesn’t feel as daunting, though. As Simon has pointed out to me over and over, he’s the type of person likely to believe he can do something he can’t, whereas I’m likely to believe I can’t do something I can. So while he’s running half marathons on zero training (and coming in under two hours if you subtract the mid-race poo), I’m sitting at my computer blinking my eyes in tandem with that cheeky winking cursor, waiting sometimes five whole minutes for inspiration to strike before dejectedly clicking away to something soothing.

Anyway, this is my attempt to get back in the saddle, worthiness be damned, and I might as well start off with photos from Halloween as a way of bookending my accidental absence, since last Halloween has stood in my mind as the point at which I fell out of the habit of Long-Form Online Oversharing (“l’fooing” for short), and it makes me sick to think of all that time lost. Here, then, is a photo of us on Halloween 2013 (alert! alert! baby in drag!)

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and here’s me and Fox on the same bridge a few weeks ago:

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If you can’t tell, he’s representing the Lollipop Guild and I’m dressed as a mother completely overwhelmed with the real-time nostalgia of having two kids simultaneously contained within the crushingly narrow timeframe of Halloween being EVERYTHING KIDS FIND AWESOME. I’m pretty sentimental as a matter of course, but the holidays just slay me like a samurai sword through warm butter. My heart’s already quivering in anticipation of Santa Claus and twinkle lights and twenty-four days of advent calendar activities (someone please keep all Shelf Elves out of my reach until the feeling passes or I’m in real danger), and although in these hand-to-mouth times I could compose a materialistic wish list that would fill a fat book, all I really want for Christmas is my blogging mojo back so I don’t miss capturing another year of this sweet little life we’ve made.

Here are a few more photos, just to get that media muscle moving again.

Pinkies up!
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Dat FACE.
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The one on the left is Fox’s own design. It reminds me of the alligator in Gerald’s room.
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He fits right in in Munchkinland.
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While we were trick-or-treating, we ran into a group of dads pulling a wagon with a cooler full of beer to share with other dads. Drink-or-treating FTW! (Fox is practicing his judgey face.)
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It’s true, parenthood does have its rewards.
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6 Nov
2014

Borax Crystal Snowflakes

This project was originally published in November 2013.

When you live somewhere it doesn’t snow, you have to take matters into your own hands.
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These two-ingredient crystal snowflakes will transform your house into a winter wonderland overnight.

What you’ll need:

–Borax laundry detergent booster (I found it in the laundry aisle at Target for $5)
–water
–pipe cleaners
–string
–pencil or chopstick

Step 1. Form your pipe cleaners into snowflake shapes. One long pipe cleaner can be cut into six pieces to make a simple star, or you can get fancier if you want. (Just remember that your snowflakes can’t be taller or wider than the container you’re going to pour your Borax solution into.)

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If you want to make long, straight icicles, that’s even easier. Just make sure you have a container tall enough that will hold the pipe cleaners without them touching the bottom.

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(When I found a pack of pipe cleaners in all those wintry blues and I swear I heard a choir of angels sing.)

Step 2. Use string to tie your snowflakes onto a pencil or chopstick–anything long enough to span the container you’re using.

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Step 3. Mix up a batch of Borax solution: 1/3 cup of Borax to 2 cups of boiling water. Stir the mixture until the Borax is dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 4. Submerge your pipe cleaner snowflakes in the Borax solution, making sure they don’t touch the sides or bottom of your container, or each other if you’re doing multiple snowflakes in one pot.

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Step 5. Now make like Ron Popiel and “Set it and forget it!” Carry on about your merry way, go to sleep, and when you wake up the next morning check out your awesome crystal snowflakes!

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These are a fun little science project, and kids will love that they’re not too fragile to touch and they’ll never melt away. If you’re doing an activity advent calendar, this is a perfect afterschool project. Older kids might want to experiment with different concentrations of Borax solution, leaving the pipe cleaners in the solution for different amounts of time, putting different materials in the solution and seeing what will crystallize (this is my current obsession), and seeing what happens if they try adding food coloring or glitter to the mix.

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When you’re done, these look brilliant on a Christmas tree or hanging along a window, and they also add an extra little something to gift wrapping.

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These are my favorite things right now. Well…these or the craft coming up for next week. I can’t wait to show you.