Saturday, October 31, 2009


It started with the party.

I don't have many photos of the action because I lost my camera in the sea of 24 kids and their accompanying adults.
(a jellyfish and an angel - do they get any sweeter than this?!)

It was a wild rumpus for sure and the icing on the cake was our neighbor/ magician who put on a show for the kids and even stayed late into the night after we'd cleaned up still doing tricks for the little night owls of the gang.

My little Max the Wild Thing certainly got in to character while in costume... making mischief of one sort or another.

And on Halloween night the rain held off just long enough for the marina kids to take the water taxi into the historic neighborhoods...

... and make the rounds.

Even the grown ups got "treats" as neighbors were handing out glasses of wine!
The kids got so much candy so fast that Zach started saying, "No thank you" after about 3 blocks. Tail dragging in the rain puddles, we went home just before the downpour, tasted candies, and put the rest under his pillow for the Sugar Fairy.

Happy Halloween to all!

p.s. new post over at etsydotmom this morning!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Countdown T-Minus 1 Day

Halloween Lessons Learned:

~if it's not orange, it's not a pumpkin and won't carve as easily as a pumpkin. It's a gourd and requires power tools~

~trying a recipe from a Martha Stewart Living magazine in the boat oven results in the smoke detector going off~

~whoever thought combining kids and sharp tools and open flames was a relaxing family project didn't have kids~

~if you smash a small gourd against fiberglass both will end up with cracks~

~trying your own recipe in the boat oven results in the smoke detector going off. Ok, fine, maybe it's me and not the oven~

~don't leave glow sticks, scissors, and children alone in a room together. ever. ~

~dark chocolate and kombucha makes everything better~

~guinea pigs like pumpkin seeds~

~guinea pigs don't like being put inside of pumpkins~

~ducks like pumpkin seeds too but they're smart enough to swim away~

~vacuum cleaners break when they inhale large chunks of pumpkin~

~who cares about all that, it's almost Halloween, let's party!~

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Countdown T-Minus 2 Days

I was going to post about Zach's costume for Halloween. But when I tried to take photos of it, let alone photos with him actually in it, I was met with great protest. Apparently, it's a secret. But you won't tell, will you? So I'll just give you this hint...

The sweet and talented MamaKopp made this little fella, and let's just say Zach will bear a striking resemblance to him later this week (the little notebooks are from MamaRoots). Zach is not quite ready for the movie version, but he LOVES the book and can't wait until Friday and Saturday when the wild rumpus will start!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Countdown T-Minus 3 Days

It's for the kids.

Honest it is.

I don't have dark chocolate dripping from my chin.

I didn't "accidentally" break some pretzels that then HAD to be dipped and eaten so they wouldn't go to waste.

I have no idea what those sprinkles even taste like.


There's no chocolate on my keyboard either.

It's all about the Halloween party for the kids. Just doing my duty as mom.


At midnight.

p.s. I guess not having a TV I completely forgot about my own project :) All this week (Monday through Friday) on The Travel Channel watch for America Haunts at 8pm eastern.  That's the creepy yet fun reason I was traveling last month. Warning: show is not appropriate for little ones. Think 14+.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Countdown T-Minus 4 Days

This was the night of Halloween crafting. I wish I could present you with a tidy little check list of carefully planned goodies being churned out in a tidy craft room, but that's not my universe. Oh sure, we paw through the Martha Stewart Halloween issues and ooooo & ahhhhh at all of the fabulous set ups. But in our world, we wing it. Here's a little peak at what we decided to do this week to prepare for our party...

Zach wanted something to scare the ghosts away with...

And we found this fabulous idea for party favors over at Squirrel Acorns...


 And can anyone guess what we're doing here?

Finally some late night stamping with some Halloween prints Zach designed and I carved out...

While I was working on all of this with Zach, my sweet husband was tromping through the woods looking for our party decor... forget the party store, we're hitting the woods. Have I mentioned how much we love Halloween?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Countdown T-Minus 5 Days

Words can not express how we love Halloween aboard our boat. The Halloween love has been brewing and it's reaching a fever pitch as we prepare for our annual party for Z's little friends.

This weekend we went on the pumpkin hunt. Of course "the" pumpkin implies a single pumpkin. Oh no. That would be a lie. We harvested a gaggle of gourds. And though I love the classic, round, orange pumpkin, I have a weak spot for the ugly, gnarly, off color ones. Zach calls them zombie pumpkins - the grays and whites and ones covered with warts. The weirder the better, they all found a home with us.

I love decorating with pumpkins on the boat and for the party because they are they ultimate biodegradable decor. When we're done we either eat them, or bring them to the woods for the critters to devour.

We'll be sharing our Halloween fun all week! And if you have some fun traditions to share, let's hear them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Blog

I am making a new tracks with a new blog... (in addition to this one)

Surf on over and check it out: Etsy Dot Mom

This little idea has been dancing around in my head for quite a while now, and I am finally putting it on the screen. Anyone who knows me in person knows that I am picky. I am picky about what our family eats, what we watch, and what we buy for our home. So I search... and I search... and I search. When I find just the right thing I get all excited about it and I want to share it with everyone.

Of course not everybody has the time or the desire to hunt for things on etsy or anywhere else when they're shopping for their family... so I hope to make it easier for you. If I own the item, I'll give you my real opinion on it. If it's just something I covet, I will tell you where to get it. And I hope to interview some of the talented craftspeople behind the products too.

What it all boils down to is spreading the love of handmade to as many people as I can reach. I want folks to know that there are alternatives to box stores. I want people to know how fabulous and creative the handmade community is. And I want to spread the love.

Jump in over there and let me know what you think and thank you!

Please continue to look after us

To me it was all an accident really. Of course my adult, logical mind immediately sequenced the events. We went on a nature walk and picked acorns off the ground. Loads and loads of acorns. We collected them in a basket and then left the basket in the cockpit. Then it rained. It rained and rained and rained for four days. Non-stop. So the acorns got wet and were all bundled together, still full of dirt and leaves, and nature did its thing. When we went to tidy up after the rains, we found many of the acorns had sprouted.

But apparently that's not what happened. "Mom, Totoro! Totoro was here, on OUR boat! And he made my acorns sprout! TOTORO!!!!!!!!!!!"

If you or your little ones in your life have never seen the movie My Neighbor Totoro... see it. Even for our family with no tv and very selective movies... Totoro has a place of honor on our boat and in our hearts.

And now in a jar, out in the cockpit our little oak garden is doing its thing. Nature. Magic. Or a little bit of both.

So to our seagoing Totoro I say, "please continue to look after us."

(one guess where these guys came from... yup, MamaRoots)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Morning People

My boy likes to sleep late. Like a teenager he sleeps. This is the way it's always been, just part of our family rhythm. Since he was a babe I have been at home with him, yet working when I had the chance. I managed 40 hour weeks when I needed to... just grabbing the free time during naps in the early days, plus after bed time for a few hours on week days, then adding in a weekend day if I needed to when my husband was home to wrangle the boy. We've always had a family bed, and he wouldn't stir until I stirred. And since I was up late and sleeping late, he got in to the habit of sleeping late too. The boy has never witnessed dawn.

Until yesterday.

He really wanted to see the Orionid meteor shower. And peak viewing was supposed to be about 5:30am. I explained to my boy, my sweet boy who has a very weak grasp on numbers and zero grasp on time, what it means to set an alarm and wake up at that hour. And he was still game. So we did. He jumped up joyfully at the sound of my cell phone alarm (we don't keep clocks, an old trick from the baby days) and was ready to go. We pulled on our fleece and dragged our quilt on deck and pointed our eyes towards Orion (which he can always find faster than me) and waited.

Not a word was exchanged. And not a meteor was sighted. After what seemed like quite a long time of sky watching, as the dawn light began to transform the world around us, my boy broke the silence.

"I think this would be a good time to go fishing," he declared. Somehow he knew in his bones, that the only reason to rise this early was to catch fish.

But neither of us was willing to emerge from the womb of the quilt. So we chatted about what we heard. He talked about the reflections on the water and how they distorted images. We heard a flock of geese in the distance and then watched them emerge in a V, heading south. He marveled that there was a world buzzing around us before the sun was even fully up.
So... this is that thing they call morning.

"It's time for coco now," he declared. And into the warm embrace of the boat we scurried.

That morning was not one for meteor sighting in our slice of the sky. But now my boy knows what morning is. Morning is for coco. Morning is for cuddles in a favorite quilt. Morning is for fishing. Morning is for morning people.

Sew, Look What I Made...

Oh yes, I put needle to thread and made something. A real thing. A useful thing. My most ambitious sewing to date has been pirate gnomes, which really our 11-year-old neighbor can do just as well. But I was inspired (like so many others) by Soulemama's recent book A Handmade Home, and picked what I thought was the easiest project for a crafting/ sewing neophyte. Behold, the felted sweater hat.

It's a little lopsided (Step 2 totally stumped me). I hand sewed it with embroidery thread (I don't have a machine and I don't know how to use one), so I actually might tear out the stitches and try again next rainy day. But the boy doesn't seem to mind. He picked out the sweaters at the thrift store he wanted to use, and he decided on the mushroom too (also a felted sweater piece), so he wears it with pride.

My dear husband laughed when he saw it. Not because he was trying to tease, but because he couldn't believe I made something, anyTHING. Most of my creating is in the writing/ video/ photography realm, so making something tangible was a big step.

Luckily I have people like the fabulous MamaRoots to turn to for handmade goodness. And Zach and I were both over the moon to win her Monster Monday giveaway! Be sure to drop in and leave a comment for the current monster giveaway, these are such fabulous little treasures.

p.s. Yes, the prints yesterday were raccoons. I can't wait to catch some Great Blue Heron tracks in plaster, they are huge! Happy tracking!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The wind has been howling from the north these days as the colder air marches in. On the Chesapeake Bay this also means extra low tides. The water literally blows out of the Bay in to the Atlantic ocean when the north wind works its charms. The boat rides low, the boarding ramp tilts, and the spits of sand around the marina expose all sorts of treasures.

Each morning Zach runs out to see who's been treading along the shore. A heron? A horseshoes crab? A dog?

I remembered reading in a book about casting tracks in plaster of paris (was it I Love Dirt?), so we gave it a try. We used basic plaster of paris from the craft store mixed with water. Then we cut out the bottom of a plastic cup to use as a frame around the print to hold the plaster in place while pouring.

We poured the plaster of paris over the print and waited a bit for it to dry.

Carefully pull it free, and voila!

It's so cool to have the sand stuck on to the casting. Can anyone guess what critter made this track? We hope to make some more as the wind and tides allow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ray of Sunshine

First my apologies for posting yet another book list on Friday. Not just another book list, but the same one!
I guess we need to take our collective noses out of the books for a bit and pay attention. It's been several days of non-stop, cold, blowing rain and we're all bouncing off the walls a bit. But a break in the downpour yesterday gave us an chance to seize the day and attend one of my all time favorite happenings in Washington, DC -- The Solar Decathlon.

I had the opportunity to do two one-hour documentaries on this competition in past years and I fell in love. The cliff notes: 20 university teams from around the globe have 7 days to build (after 2 years of planning) an entirely functioning solar house on the National Mall, then they "live" in it and are judged in 10 categories (hence the decathlon) to see who made the best house.
(taking recycling to the next level at the Cornell University "Silo House")

(Team Germany goes ultra-mod and ultra-powerful with a house clad entirely in photovoltaic tiles - they won the competition)

(The wide array of architectural styles is part of what makes walking the Solar Village so much fun. Iowa State kept their house in line with the rural vernacular of their university home town.)

The spirit and ingenuity of these college kids is nothing short of breath taking. These kids are the best and brightest, and not in that claw-your-way-to-the-top kind of way, but in the most wholesome-let's-change-the-world kind of way. The houses are not just homes with solar panels slapped on top. They are symphonies of design and sustainability played out on a national stage for all to enjoy.
 (Fun meets functional at the University of Kentucky. Here you see modern art.)

 (Then the same pieces become a chair. They can also become a table. All sustainable materials too.)

 (passive meets active solar at a stylish crossroad)

(the louvered shades above are actually photovoltaic cells, so they produce electricity while they let in or block out the direct sunlight)

 I can't do this competition justice here, but I encourage you to check out the web site and visit the Solar Village virtually. And if you find yourself in DC in 2 years, make a point to stop by. It's free!
(almost all of the teams design and build their own furniture, from the light fixtures to the patio loungers)

(This is one of the sliding exterior walls on the Virginia Tech house. 1400 pieces all at a precise angle determined by some algorithmic formula to let in light and shine it back out again at night. But mathematic genius aside, it just looks fabulous. )
Zach liked the Virginia Tech house best "because it had a pond" - actually a grey water recycling system.

But after 4 days cooped up with cold rain, I think the boy was just happy to be out and about.

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