November 29, 2015

Into the Mist-ic.........

Nothing is more soul fulfilling for me than time spent in beautiful parks with my family. We bundled up for a gorgeous misty waterfront walk this morning and came home to thaw out over mugs of delicious hot chocolate. That's my idea of perfection. I don't think anything creates a sense of adventure more for kids than time spent exploring outside. I saw a quote this morning from George Elliott that I just love: "We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it..."

November 23, 2015

entertaining made easy.....

This weekend we threw a birthday party for my wonderful aunt, who has the biggest heart of anyone I know - she is an exceptional human and I just love being in her company. I honestly never laugh so hard as I do when our relatives are all together. I get so pumped every time I know we're all going to be together. I thought I'd share a few simple things that I did to set up the party:

 I bought a flat of mason jars, a box of floating candles, and put fresh eucalyptus in the bottom. (I've also seen this done with fresh pine branches or cranberries). I put a cluster on the table and put the rest throughout the house. Easy Peasy.
 I made a Happy Birthday banner across the mantle, simply by cutting out pieces of white paper, and fastening each letter on to string with a good ol' clothes peg.
I used mini glass bottles throughout the house with fresh sprigs of eucalyptus and freesia. 
 We set up a self serve bar so guests could top up their drink of choice. 
You can never have enough flowers and candles.
This is one of my go-to cake recipes if you want the: Best chocolate cake.

For the food:

This slate tray, paired with a chalk pen, made for a great cheese plate -  you could just jot the name beside each delicious hunk of burning love cheese.

Let the kids eat first. It frees up more seating for the "grown up" dinner after.

This time of year, gingerbread decorating kits are a great group project to keep little kids busy.

Don't be shy to divvy up the dinner to save money. We had various people make a salad, bring appies, and garlic bread. I asked my friend Tammy for her lasagna recipe and she kindly offered, that if I bought the ingredients, she'd make them. I think I agreed to her plan as the words were literally coming out of her mouth. She is truly amazing. It was a Massive lifesaver to let me focus on set up, dessert, and appies.

For background music, we just put on the Indie Apartment Party playlist on Songza, but there approximately one bazillion playlists for you to choose from if that isn't your jam.

And of course, if your family is as liberal as mine, a hilarious post dinner game is: Cards Against Humanity.


Peace, at last

Hello friends! Have you ever had an unwelcomed house guest? I'm not talking about an old college friend that asks to crash over, and fast forward two weeks, is still showing up to your table for breakfast. I'm talking about rodents. What does this sunset picture have to do with rodents, you ask? Nothing. But I can't look at a picture of a mouse without flinching. Not yet, anyways.
After we got back from our trip to Hawaii, we noticed mouse droppings on our mantle and in certain areas on the floor. We cleaned everything up and set up traps. At first we got humane traps, that are like cute little mouse homes, where they can go in, but can't get out. If you find any inside, you simply open up the little hatch and let them run free in the wild. Well, we didn't have any luck with these. We elevated our game to real traps, and were completely and utterly discouraged when we woke up one morning to find the food gone from the traps, the traps snapped, but nothing inside. One morning we actually found mouse poop on top of a trap. Oh the message was clear: F. U. Accompanied by "na na na na na, you'll never catch me!"
With copious amounts of exasperation, we called in the pest expert.
He said that based on what he saw in our home, there was likely only one mouse on the premises.
He showed us possible entry points to seal up, and laced our home with heavy duty traps.
I found the whole process quite stressful. I'd lay in bed and with every noise I'd flinch. Was that a trap? Is there something dead downstairs? Should I just toss the mouse the keys now and say, "enjoy the home, it's yours?"
One morning, before work, my husband was having his tea. He heard some scurrying noise in our liquor cabinet - god damn lush mouse.
He literally carried the cabinet outside, opened it up, and the mouse raced out across our yard.
My husband excitedly called me at work to pass on the good news. "He's gone. He's finally gone."
I felt like running around my office high fiving people. This was HUGE. It had been a trying few weeks up until that point, sealing off so many parts of our home, closing doors and taping the bottoms with duct tape, doing everything we could to keep him away.
I couldn't believe that we were finally at peace.
But then a few days later, I saw poop on the mantle again. But this time it was different looking poop. I had become a bit of an expert. It was a new guest.
I don't know if word had gotten out that our air bnb for rodents had an opening, but we had a new tenant.
I noticed scratch marks on the exterior of my laundry room cabinet - which is high above the counter top.  As soon as I saw it, I thought, good god, what can reach that height?!? When I opened it up, I saw a bag of cat foot in there  - an obvious attraction for whatever was trying to claw its way in.
I promptly tossed out the bag of food and we sealed up every point of into the laundry room.
Then, while I was getting ready for bed, my hubby said, "I need your help downstairs, we have a situation."
Oh dear god.
This is where I should tell you that my version of help, is pretty much standing with a broom in one hand, a bucket in another, and hopping quickly from one foot to the other repeatedly saying, "oh my god, oh my god."
My husband said, "there's something under our fridge."
We created a funnel from our fridge to our back door, by propping up a carpet sideways, in hopes that the mouse would just run through the passageway to our back door.
My husband shook a broom under the fridge and we were underway. The rodent ran, as perfectly planned, down the passageway, then leapt (along with my heart) - over the top and into the living room.
And I shit you not, my husband said, "He's up there!" and pointed to the top, the very top, of our book case. You could hear the song go, duh duh DUH!!!! I had no idea that they could leap so high. I did everything in my power not to soil myself.
We created another pathway to coax it outside. As planned, the critter ran at high speed, stood on the threshold of the doorway,but then got a feel of the cool crisp outdoor air and leapt over our kitchen counter and scurried behind our dishwasher.
The expletives that came out of our mouths were nothing short of stunning combinations.
We pulled back the dishwasher and nothing. It was houdini's rat cousin. We boarded up (and by we, I mean Craig), every inch of wall space behind the dishwasher. The pest expert returned and told us that we had sealed the house so well, that we had virtually trapped the juvenille rat in our living space.
He set up more traps in our furnace room and when we got home from work - Whammo!!!! Kapowee!!! (split screen of me cracking open champagne.)
I hate killing any creature, but we had literally given him numerous humane chances to escape.
We feel like our home is finally ours again, we haven't had any signs of their return since. We haven't gotten lazy - we still make sure we empty the dog's food dish every night, make sure her bag of food is secured in tupperware and have sealed up every soffit vent along the roofline (a key entry point for rodents) with mesh. We still set traps in the furnace room, still search daily to see if there are any more signs of rodent droppings(hey, everyone needs a hobby), and sometimes when the house creaks, I still sit up in a cold sweat wondering if they are back...but so far so good. Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a god damned mouse.

October 28, 2015

the journey home....

Our trip to Maui, that I chatted about on yesterday's post, was one of our all time favourite getaways. But from the moment we left our beautiful time in paradise, everything seemed to go sideways.
Our flight was scheduled to land in Bellingham. The flight attendant standing at the front of the plane announced that there may be issues with the weather on route to our destination, and the other flight attendant quickly grabbed the intercom from the back of the plane and said, "there won't be any issues." Now I don't know much about flight attendant training, but you'd think there'd be some notion of a united front.
The plane started to prepare for landing, and on the descent, we suddenly sped up and swooped back up into the air. The pilot got on the speaker system and announced, "that is what we call a failed landing." Ok. My nails instantly shot up into my mouth in preparation for serious gnawing.
He told us visibility was severely limited and there was low lying cloud cover on the runway.
But, here we go again. After the second failed landing, my hand shot across the aisle to my husband's and the passenger seated next to me started praying. I honestly thought, well, at least my last two weeks were some of the best I've had, if this is how we're going to go out.
The pilot said he would try the south end of the terminal to see if there was better visibility.
He said he had clearance and would try to land in about 5 minutes.
Thirty minutes later we were still circling. I leaned over to my husband and asked, like he had some super hearing linking him to the cockpit, just what in sam hill was going on. (Ok, maybe those weren't my exact words.) He said, well, now my worry is that we'll run out of fuel. Gad Zukes!!!

Soon the pilot announced that we wouldn't be able to land and were headed for Seattle.
As soon as he said this, a woman at the back of the plane started to scream at how the "effing airline is an effing joke and how she is never flying this effing airline again, and that they could just eff off." But, she spiced up the language a bit. Well, the guy in front of her said, "Hey, why don't you keep your swearing to yourself, no one wants to hear all of that right now." And she quickly said to her son, "some people just don't know when to mind their own effing business." And another guy across the aisle shouted, "when you talk that loudly, you make it all of our business." At which point her son, who  looked like his business card would read Hells Angel CEO stood up and stared them down.
I immediately patted myself on the back that for the first time in life, I hadn't stuck my nose in that situation because that was one stare I wouldn't want to be the recipient of.
As soon as the plane touched down in Seattle, a little after 1 a.m., everyone ran up to the airline counter demanding action. The airline rep promptly noted that since it was a weather issue, they would not be putting people up in hotels.
People started freaking out. They were shouting out ludicrous snippets of information. "I heard they won't be able to get us to Bellingham until 10 pm Saturday!! "I heard that there is no transportation that exists in the night!!" It's funny how stress affects people differently. When things calmed down, they started to form groups and planned to share rental cars to Bellingham. All I knew was that I had an exhausted toddler, who was crying, and the thought of renting a car in the middle of the night and driving was just not going to happen. When the crowd dispersed, I asked the airline rep if she could just suggest a hotel close by that I could stay in, and she leaned across the counter and whispered, "I know you are travelling with a little one, so I'll comp you a room." She was my polyester wearing fairy godmother. Because we would be flying out the next day with the same airline, they just said not to worry about our luggage. We waited outside shivering, in our flimsy Hawaiian clothes, waiting for the hotel shuttle. I'm so glad I decided to pack my carry on bag with toddler activity books instead of coats. I called the hotel to see why it was taking so long, and she said, he should be there any moment. We waited some more and then when I asked how much longer, she said, "oh, it looks like he hasn't left yet." What in sam hill was going on with this day?!? We promptly flagged down a cab, who tried to explain to me that there were free shuttles to the hotel. But I told him we had been waiting forever for those shuttles and were freezing, so he said, "okay, get in." Then, he drove around and told us he didn't actually know where it was. Thank god for GPS and our right for selective tipping.
By the time we got the hotel, we had roughly 5 hours before we had to be back at the airport. I had stupidly packed all of my toiletries in my suitcase (which was still at the airport), which meant I had no glasses and had to sleep in my contacts at the hotel. My right eyeball was a giant red infected bulge that required a visit to a doctor and subsequently to a specialist as soon as we got home.
So, as you can see, this trip had two very distinct parts.

Me, in Hawaii.                                And out of Hawaii.

October 27, 2015

Maui Love

Aloha Friends! I hope you've had a lovely few weeks! We had a much needed getaway in Maui. It's been over four years since we've had more than a weekend away together as a family, so we were over the moon to have 10 spectacular days together in paradise. Here's a few moments from our trip: 

 Kaanapali Beach - view from the Sheraton Hotel. I'd love to say this was our room, but it was just the first place we stopped when we arrived on the island - we were starving - surprisingly the complimentary airplane peanuts didn't go too far. 
 Kimo Restaurant in Lahaina  - Incredible seafood. My fish was crusted in coconut - we were fancy that day. 
 The magical backdrop of Banyan trees. (I actually packed a variety of shorts/tshirts/sundresses for my daughter for this trip, but she insisted on wearing this dress everytime we went out because it made her feel special. So although the photos make it look like we did everything in one day, it's really her repeated dress selection).

 Best fish tacos from our trip: Lahaina Luna Cafe. (And I thoroughly researched the fish tacos across Maui. Thoroughly.)
 Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice. It was absolutely delicious. It looks like a snow cone but it is creamier and more flavourful, like ice cream. I am still stumped as to why it isn't called Shaved Ice instead of Shave delicious, yet oh so grammatically challenging at the same time......
 Our gorgeous morning walk along the Kaanapali waterfront. There are beautiful waterfront homes lining the boardwalk. My husband and I found that one of our new favourite bits from the trip was the word Lanai (a home's outdoor patio).  "Excuse me, were you just out on the Lanai? Did you see my fiance out there? I think my fiance was on the Lanai. Have you met my fiance?"
 We were lucky enough to see rainbows wherever we went, which made me feel like my mom was right there with us.
Sunset swim in Kihei. The sun drops right out of the sky at 6 pm, but it takes a beautiful final bow.

A gorgeous walk along the waterfront in Wailea. As you can tell from the warning sign below, we literally took our lives in our hands on this walk. Possibility of Crime!! Judging by the picture are old mobsters waiting in the hedges, ready to shove unsuspecting pedestrians off the cliffs? 

 Paia - a groovy little hippie town where celebs like Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson have homes.
  Sunset along Kamaole III beach in Kihei.  There aren't any lights lining the streets, so from 6 pm onwards, everything is pitch black. I think that's why everyone is up and outside by 7 am, to get the most from the daylight. I love how active the community is. I made sure I applauded them all as they ran by. 

The gorgeous Iao Valley State Park. It only takes about half an hour to walk around, and you want to get there early, because parking is limited and line-ups form quickly.
My favourite moment in Maui was snorkelling along Keawakapu beach. It is a lesser known beach, and quickly became one of our favourites - it wasn't as touristy as some of the other local beaches, and has gentle waves for our daughter and incredible snorkelling. I was all alone snorkelling over a beautiful coral reef, when all of a sudden two beautiful sea turtles swam around me. I slowly followed them, transfixed by their fluid movement. It was one of those times of life where I just felt like the luckiest person to be sharing their space.
The drive up to the Maui Winery is a stunner. My husband said it's the most fun he's ever had driving because of the way the road takes so many quick twists and turns. When this photo was taken on the lush winery grounds, the mist was rolling over the hills, giving it a real dreamlike feeling.

There are two very definitive parts to this trip. These photos encapsulate Part One- the trip itself - which we agreed was one of our favourites (second only to our African adventure) - we had mini adventures everyday, laughed our butts off, were off our phones the whole time, and started and ended each day with a swim. It was blissful togetherness.

Tomorrow I will bring to you Part II -The Journey Home:  24 hours of grossness


October 12, 2015


Thankful for falling asleep every night holding hands with my favourite person. Thankful for having this daughter who is my life's greatest gift - whose very presence elevated my heart off the ground this year, when I didn't think it was possible. Thankful for my legion of friends who are spectacular as individuals and unstoppable as a village of healers: every check in, every shared laugh, every delicious meal together, every new adventure was momentous. Thankful to my relatives who sat with us, day in, day out, in hospitals, in appointments, in hospice, in grief. They are the most beautiful collection of souls, and I am privileged to be part of this family. I am thankful for nature and its ability to transcend my spirits to dizzying heights. I am thankful for my health and for each day that I get to share with my loves. I am thankful that I measure my wealth in the quality of my relationships instead of my bank account, and that I will always be overwhelmingly rich because of the people I surround myself with. I am thankful for the staggering grief I feel because it reminds me every day of the depth of love I shared with my mom. I am thankful for every morning my daughter wakes me up with a stuffed animal to hug. I am thankful for every memory that visits me like an old friend. I am thankful for every brilliant book that I can't put down, for every song that motivates me to move, for every talented comedian who just gets it, for the first cup of coffee in the morning, for netflix. I am thankful for it all. The good, the bad and the ugly because all of it is life. And if it was always great, we wouldn't really appreciate it. Trust me, I've never been more thankful than I have this year because I've never been more motivated to seek out gratitude. Thank you to each person who takes a moment to read this blog - sincerely. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.
Thank you. xoxo

images from the week.....

I get just as excited to see her little friends as she does because I know we always have tremendous days together. xo