Saturday, July 25, 2015

In Which My Blog Turns Ten

My blog is ten years old today! I've put together a little something to commemorate the event.

Ten most-viewed posts

It turns out that my most-viewed posts are the ones that are informative in some way, or end up getting linked from somewhere else.

Digi Dots
Eyes on Dr. Seuss
Typing Practice (ν•œκΈ€λ‘œ!)
Cream Pineapple Crochet Sweater
Giraffe Painting
Picture books on Kindle
Crochet sweater, red
Kindle(s) in the house
Time Capsule (High School Art)
Pineapple Crochet Shawl Sweater

Ten personal favorites

The Adventures of Mr. Penguin (a tale in Chinese characters)
My Daddy, by Kate, age 4. (Happy Birthday!)
Want a bag over your head?
little brother (and sister, too!)
Kate's Dragons
Kate's Rescue Mission (story by Kate)
Painting Fiona's Library
Mender of Soles
Grimmie the Wandering Wesen
Korea Calling

Ten random photos

Ten questions from friends

Do you still scrapbook?

I think the short answer would be "Not at this time." I still love playing with paper. And I do whip up the occasional digital layout, but it's been a while. I imagine that I will scrapbook again at some point. Not sure what form that will take.

Would you like to visit Korea again and what areas would you like to visit?

Absolutely! I'm saving up my opera painting money. So many places I want to go and friends I want to visit. I was entranced by this picture of Daewonsa temple. I need to go there. In the fall. I'm not sure how this will happen, since that's when the kids are in school. We'll figure it out when the time comes, I guess. I was actually planning a trip with my sister, but she changed her mind, so I shall have to find another travel buddy.

How did you get started doing art?

My parent bought me reams of tracing paper when I was little, and I traced everything in sight. I remember thinking, "If I can make it look like this, then I'll be a good artist." And I took a lot of art classes in high school.  Mostly just messed around with it a lot.   I still tend heavily toward realism, and I'm great at copying things, but not always so good with the free, expressive stuff. I'd like to work on that more.

What inspires you?

Visuals, I think.  I  love looking at things that other people have done.  I have a Mixed Media folder on my computer where I've been collecting things, and my Art Inspiration board on Pinterest.  I also find inspiration being outside.  And wool-gathering in the shower.

I have no clue why you lived in Canada for a while.

We were in Newfoundland for Doug's grad school for three years. Absolutely loved it. It's like nowhere else.

What's your fascination with language? I mean you always comment on how words are used and it makes me wonder.

Language is fascinating! (Hmmm.... might have something to do with my dad being an engineer. I have the picky gene.)

I wonder what you are doing with your art these days.

Painting for Tacoma Opera, pretty soon! And I have a couple other projects in mind. I want to try gelli printing on a skirt. And I may be ready to start that mural in the bathroom.

I've known you since our long ago dMarie days, when you lived in NL. I've watched your kids grow up, into adorable little people. My question concerns Andy, if you don't mind...I know you explained once about his 'disability', for lack of a better word, could you describe it again and how his progress is?

Andy has hyperlexia, which is often accompanied by autistic behaviors but not always (and sometimes they grow out of them, but not always). He figured out how to read on his own before he was three, and has always been fixated on letters and words. Verbally he does a lot of echolalia (repeating things that he's memorized) and not much synthesizing, though he does often find something contextually appropriate. (One time I was calling him to come over, and he said, "What is it, Mother? Why do you want us?" which he learned from He does chatter and sing a lot (he also has perfect pitch, we've discovered), and he's very affectionate and good-natured. He hardly ever refers to himself in the first person--if he wants something he'll say, "Do you want a ____?", though lately he's been coming up with more convoluted constructions like, "We have a pineapple juice!" And right now he's sitting on my lap reading everything that I'm typing.

Here's my question as a long time blogger myself, how often do you blog, and how do you keep your blog fresh? Do you shy away from revealing too much about yourself, or do you feel you're an open book?

I don't post as much as I used to. It's kind of shocking to go back to earlier years and see months where I was posting almost every day. I think back then blogging was more of a thing, and people would visit each others' blogs and comment more. Now we just post on Facebook and get immediate feedback. But I still like keeping my blog, and having the record. (And I don't post everything... some stuff doesn't need to be shared!)

What does success mean to you personally?

I had to think about this. I think for me feeling successful often involves outside validation. When I finish a set painting and get to see it used in a great performance, that feels like success. When Creating Keepsakes magazine called and said they wanted nine of my scrapbook layouts for their travel book, that felt like success. (Seriously... I was so excited I couldn't sleep for about three days.) I like being productive.  On the other hand I'm also a huge procrastinator. On a personal level, I suppose success as a mother will mean raising kids who are decent human beings and can perform the necessary tasks of life. We've got a long way to go on that.

Ten favorite things about blogging

Okay, I don't have ten favorite things about blogging. But I do have one particular favorite thing--being able to back-date posts. I have stuff from June that I'm still planning to post but haven't gotten around to yet. I didn't know about this feature at first, so I would often be posting things dated months after they actually happened. This way I can create a post long after the fact and still have it show up in the correct place in the timeline. Is that cheating? (Best chance of something actually getting posted would be within a day or two after it happens. Odds decrease significantly after that. But I do get around to the important stuff, eventually!)

My least favorite thing is that stupid image verification on the comment form, where you have to prove you're not a robot by choosing the salad, or the pizza, or some such tomfoolery.  I always thought the word capcha was annoying, but this is way worse.  If anyone knows how to get rid of it, let me know!

Me and my favorite ten-year-old!  


In ten years of blogging, we've been through births, weddings, funerals, moves, and milestones. I've made over 1,000 posts, and who-knows-how-many photos. I've enjoyed all the comments from friends and the exchange of ideas, but most of all I love having this record, being able to go back and look at our earlier selves, or read to Kate something funny that she said when she was little, or enjoy her cute artwork. It's been a good ride

In closing, I will direct you to my Ten Long Years post, in which Doug wrote something very sweet for our tenth anniversary.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Painting Party

We had  friends over for a painting party!  When Sara and kids dropped us off last week, they came in for a bit and Melody saw my painting stuff.  So we made some plans. 

I (being uncharacteristically on top of things) made some challa, and since the girls were painting at the kitchen table we got out one of our little Korean tables and sat on the floor in the living room and had challa with butter and cheese.

It was time for the baby to go home for a nap, but Melody wanted to stay, so I said we would bring her home later. We brought some toys out to the living room--our wooden train tracks, and the Schleich animals, and our wooden castle. None of these things have been played with for a very long time, so it was good to see them getting some use again. Kate and Melody seem to have a similar make-believe-play style.

Once there was more room at the table, I got out a painting that I've been working on, to make a few minor tweaks. (It might be done now-- not sure yet.) Melody kind of popped back and forth between painting with me and playing with Kate.

A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Day Downtown

At the top of this fountain is Theater Square, where we had a picnic lunch. (Photo by geomorph--I didn't have my camera with me.) When Kate saw it, she squealed, "A water feature!" And later, as she was gazing out over the railing eating her sandwich, she said, "I know who owns the castle--it's the pigeons!"

We went downtown with my friend Sara and two of her girls (I navigated and didn't botch it up too badly).  We parked across from Freighthouse Square and rode the LINK, went to the Children's Museum for a while, ate our lunch in the square, and  enjoyed all the fountains.  (I had to keep pulling Andy away from them--his idea of enjoying fountains is more, shall we say,  immersive.)  It was a lovely day for a walkabout.  And while waiting to cross the street we ran into Noel Koran of Tacoma Opera, who told me that they've got me down for all three shows this season.  A great day indeed.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bagging Blossoms

My tomato plants are huge and happy, seven weeks after transplanting. Every morning I get up and take a shower, and then I have a few minutes to go out and visit my plants before it's time to get the kids up.  Especially since it's been so hot lately, I love going out early while it's still cool, tying up stems and pinching suckers.

Originally I was planning to keep each plant down to three stems, but that didn't last long. I felt like the smaller-fruited varieties could stand to produce more, and those potato-leaf types can be really sneaky with their suckers. So things have gotten a bit unruly.   I have been supplementing the trellis with stakes.

Several people have asked me what those white things on the tomato plants are. I've bagged some of the blossoms.  Tomatoes will self-pollenize, but cross-pollination does happen. If you plan to save seeds and and want to make sure of getting the variety you want, bagging is a way to isolate the blossoms and avoid surprises.  You put the bags on before the blossoms open, and leave them in place till they've finished setting fruit. (And then mark the truss before you take off the bag, so you don't lose track of it!)  I used wedding favor bags from Michaels.

It does feel a little weird to put bags over your tomato buds.  I couldn't help thinking, "But what if this doesn't work?"  Once the flowers opened I would go out and jiggle them every day, to help them pollinate.  Some of them are still a bit behind, but others have set just fine.  I should be taking this bag off soon. 

Blondkopfchen grows huge, crowded clusters. There are probably 200 blossoms on this thing.  ( I did not try bagging anything on this one!)

Chocolate Cherry blossoms, trying to escape over the neighbor's fence.

Pollinator hard at work.

We've got a ways to go before anything is ripe, but I do have lots of little baby tomatoes.  They are so cute. 

We're hoping to have lots to eat and lots to give away!  Tomato party!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Smile! It's Father's Day!

Attempting to get a picture of Doug and the kids after church. This can be tricky!

"Give Daddy a big kiss!"


Kate says, "He's funny!  And he's my dad!"  High praise.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

No Event Parking

The U.S. Open golf tournament has been happening at Chambers Bay, and these signs are all over our neighborhood. On the whole we haven't been affected that much--they've been busing people in from park-and-ride spots as far away as the Puyallup fairgrounds, so traffic has been kept down to a manageable level. A lot of people left town for the week to avoid the anticipated chaos.

Chambers Bay has been closed to the public for a while, in preparation. We're all looking forward to having it back again. (It's going to take a while to get it back the way it was--I hear they paved the lower meadow.)

This sign is on the next block up from our house. I went out to take a pic of the one just around the corner, and discovered that the signboard was gone. Maybe someone snagged it for a souvenir?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Conduit Trellis Frames

We got our trellis frames up!  I spent the longest time trying to figure out how to do these, and it turned out to be super easy.

We used electrical conduit (EMT).  It turns out that 1/2" conduit will fit inside 3/4" conduit, so we have 1/2" bars across the top with bends that fit into the 3/4" uprights, which fit into the 1" PVC pipe bolted to the sides of the boxes.  No connectors needed. 

I thought we were going to have to do some complicated measuring and calculating to get the bends the right distance apart, but then I found this video.  You just make one bend, figure out where the outside of the leg on the second bend needs to be, mark it, and line that up with the star point on the bender.  I was able to do it all myself (with a little help from Doug to hold the first leg perpendicular to the ground while I bent the second one up to match).  Snap!  It was really fun how quickly they went together.  (We did end up having to buy our own bender, so hey, if anyone needs any conduit bent, let me know!)

I got this netting, which turned out to be just barely long enough for our four boxes. It's fastened to the frames with zip ties. 

One month after transplanting. We're having a  warm summer and the plants are loving it.  If they keep growing at this rate they're going to max out those trellises before the end of the season.  (That's lettuce and basil in there too.  Yum!)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Trek Flag (and the Really Big Stamp)

Our stake is doing Trek this year (pioneer reenactment, complete with handcarts), and I was asked to help make a flag.  They had the logo ready, and wanted it blown up and transferred onto fabric.  I was pretty much given free rein in exactly how this was to be accomplished, so I decided to break out the craft foam and make a stamp.  I've done a lot of these but never one of quite this magnitude before.  It's about 18 inches high.

I traced the design onto craft foam and then spent a day cutting out all the pieces.  (Andy was a little too interested in the letters and kept putting them back in the negative cut-out.)  I got a big piece of clear plastic (Hobby Lobby has them in the stained glass section), and glued the pieces to that.  I wanted a clear background so I could place the stamp more accurately, and re-align if I needed to stamp the image more than once.

Today I cleared off the kitchen table and did the stamping.  It's on two pieces of fabric so they can be sewn together back-to-back for a double-sided flag. I applied acrylic paint to the stamp with a brayer, positioned it on the fabric, and hand-pressed it all over. 

On the second side, I mixed some Golden Open Medium with the paint, and it came out a lot darker.  So then I went back and printed the first side again.  (Good thing I had that clear background--I was able to line it up just fine.)

The verdict: it won't replace silk screening, but if you're going for that printed flour sack look, it works pretty well!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Kate on Optimism

"Half empty is better than half full. You know why? Because half full means you press the button on the soda machine and fill up your cup half way, and then you only have half a cup of soda to drink. But half empty means you press the button on the soda machine and fill up your cup all the way, and then you DRINK HALF OF IT!"

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Garden Boxes

We have garden boxes! I've been planning these since last year. It's been quite an involved process, figuring out what we needed and collecting materials and getting everything put together.

Our first box (upside down). I got the corner posts drilled by two people in our ward who have drill presses (Brother Hill let me operate it myself, which was kind of fun.)

Dean Simmons came over one Saturday morning and spent a few hours helping us assemble boxes. HUGE help. (I was short on washers, so we didn't quite get everything together, but I was able to finish most of it on my own after this.)

Once the boxes were put together, I had to dig out the spots for them. I found an old Douglas Fir stump just below ground level. It was very rotten and soft, so I just hacked it with the shovel and got a lot of it out. (Hacking stumps is fun--it's therapeutic!)

Digging the spot for the last box.   Our best sun is along the south edge of the yard, right by the neighbor's driveway.  (We left the Red Hot Poker plant in the middle, because we like it.)

Two cubic yards of garden soil in our driveway. (On a cool and misty Garbage Day morning.) We didn't actually need the full two yards but they wouldn't deliver less than that. I got the 50/50 garden soil mix from McClain Soil Supply.  I did find a lot of foreign bits of shredded plasticky stuff in the dirt, and even a couple of pieces of broken glass, so I can't really vouch for the overall quality, but the plants do seem happy with it.

First plant in the ground!

Our four boxes all in a row, with tomato plants. Yay!  Big job.   I learned some things, and got to use power tools.  Lots of hard work, lots of two-shower days.    The white pipes on the sides are to hold trellis frames.  I haven't gotten those made yet.  (I need to find someone who can bend EMT conduit to specified dimensions.)

I was hoping to have this all done by the beginning of May, but hey, it's done, and we'll have it for next year.  And it's awesome. 

Baby pictures!  The Chocolate Cherry had me worried for a bit (it kept going droopy), but it has rallied nicely.  All plants are happy and growing well. 

I won't be able to grow twelve tomato plants every year, because of soil rotation needs, but we're just going crazy with them this year.  We may have tomatoes before August.  Can't wait!