Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mexico 2009

One simple word really captures our recent trip to Mexico for Christmas: FUN! Cabo is definitely a great place to go for a fun and laid back atmosphere. A perfect location for families (don't go during spring break, or so I have been told)!

We enjoyed so much of it, and so much of it we unexpectedly loved. The food was amazing, even not being huge fans of what they call Mexican food here in the PNW. We ate real Mexican which was fresh, mild, delicious. The big offering is shrimp and I ate a ton of it.

We spent most days going back and forth between the hotel pool at the Rose and the beach in front of the resort. It was all day outside, every day. We were usually the first ones in the pool in the morning!

In between, we did a few water activities like glass bottom boat, parasailing and jet skiing.

A wonderful surprise came right before our departure from Seattle. We found out that our dear friends would be coincidentally at the same resort as us. We spent a lot of time with them and re-connected after a few years. They are part of our family and the trip would not have been the same without them (and their frequent periods of babysitting) xoxox

Best of all was the time that we just spent together, without the usual bustle of the holidays. It was nice to avoid the crowds of Christmas, the dreary weather, the cooking. Just to have one another and 2 gifts for the kids on Christmas day. It really makes you appreciate the holidays more with what really matters.

The trip also had some moments for me that I will never forget. Due to my shopping habit :), I had the chance to talk with some of the local vendors who work on the beach. I didn't just buy from them, I asked them about their lives and their families. It was not rosy. They work very hard and long hours, and deal with many rude and cheap tourists all day long.

One in particular pulled on my heartstrings. 4 children who live in a small city far away and he works from 7 am to 3 am the next day for 3 months. Goes home with what he makes. Comes back again. We spoke several times, I shopped from him, and then he stopped opening his jewelry case when we would meet. We just talked about life for him and he would say "it's ok!" as he could see my sadness.

Dama snapped this picture on our last day in the rain:

Maybe I am just a sucker or a bleeding heart (I know I am the latter) but to see some of the tourists there overindulging in food on the beach, alcohol, the gigantic cruise ships coming in, fighting over beach chairs, haggling over pennies with these was disheartening at times. You certainly do gain perspective if you speak with some of the locals.

It was a beautiful trip and had a deeper meaning after we had left. I think the kids took something away from it as well...we talked about the fun and the reality from time to time.

Hopefully they will remember both forever.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tell us how you feel

In an attempt to raise compassionate and loving kids, I have been working on encouraging them to tell people how they feel about them without reservation. To make sure this did not backfire on me, I have been coaching them about "if you don't have anything nice, don't say it" as well. I could so totally see them telling someone they smell and then blaming me for it!

So, the pep talks have consisted of me telling them that if they love someone, or if someone is kind to them, to make sure they express how they feel to that person. Not to feel shy or embarrassed. That life is too short not to tell someone you care or appreciate them for who they are.

It all came to fruition in the supermarket, of all places. We make our bi-monthy trip there to get groceries and they have often asked to go to the same checker who has been their captive audience for quite some time. I tell this lady that the kids know she can't leave so they are in prime performance mode every time we see her. She humors them and chats with them and they soak it up. Here's how it went the last time we were there:

Checker: Hi guys! Great to see you again!
Elise: You know what? You are our favorite checker EVER!
Lucas: Yeah! We really like you!
Checker: Aw! that is so sweet! You made my day!

It was a proud mommy moment and one of those times you think you just may be doing it right.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Feelin' Hot Hot Hot!

I finally decided to try hot yoga as the studio near me was having a special I could not pass up. I went on Thursday morning while the kids were in school. I really was not sure what to expect but I couldn't get away from feeling like it might kill me. If the yoga didn't, then the heat might. But I followed all the preparation directions (hydrate before class, no food 2 hours beforehand).

The class I took was Bikram yoga which is a series of 26 set postures and 2 breathing exercises. It was hot in there, about 100 degrees or more, and the class lasted 90 minutes.

I really thought the heat would be an issue but it wasn't. Yes, I was hot and sweaty but it did feel good and a necessary environment for the exercise I was doing. I managed to do most of the postures, a couple of them I struggled with but didn't need to "rest". I am pretty sure that anyone can do this. I think a lot of people are fearful of trying because you might die, suffer, look like a dork etc. I used to feel the same way. But I am here to tell the story!

The positives: I liked the heat, loved the fact that there really is no room to think of anything else besides what you are doing at that moment. You really MUST focus and there is no room for negative thoughts. I also feel like it is the kind of exercise I can do in the morning. Rather than starting the day out pounding the pavement or heavy aerobic activity, it's nice to be in that warm room with the lights low.

The Negatives: Hot yoga isn't cheap. I got a great intro deal but the drop in fee is $17 and it's $99 a month unlimited. So it's not something I will be doing long term. I am also not sure it's enough for me. I will see how it goes but I am suspecting I would have to supplement with cardio as well.

I went back again this morning. It took some convincing of myself to get out of bed early but I knew I needed to go. I just want to encourage everyone to try it once! Most studios have good deals for newcomers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Picture and Ephemera Wall Hanging make a creative project for a loved one this holiday season! let me walk you through something way easy and cool. Let's call it a "Creative Jules Canvas" :)

Start out with a large canvas of your size choosing. The one pictured above is a 12x24", perfect for the space I was using it. I got this one on sale for $7. Paint the base canvas with your choice of acrylic paint. Mine only needed one coat, and it dried quickly! Love it when things are easy.

You will also need various more canvases of your choice. Mine range from 2"x2" to 5x5 inch.
These were about $2 each, again on sale.

I decided to do mine all in black and white so I printed up pics in b/w. It would be stunning in color too!

Print a few sizes, and even some in wallet sizes for those small canvases.

Next you will adhere those pictures on the canvases. Some I painted, some I left white. Some canvases have photos and some did not.

I wanted lots of dimension on my canvas so I stacked little ones onto corners of the bigger ones. I used Tombow adhesive, let it dry a bit before sticking it together and prop it up with another canvas while it dries. Hot glue gun would be great too!

You'll want to embellish or "cutify" it, as I like to say. I cut things out using my Cricut. Words, flowers, initials. I used glitter paper and cut out shapes. Your imagination is yours to explore!

Total time? About 2.5 hours.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Currently Crafting

Lots of projects on the books this week, including a fun rag garland:

Also an advent calendar and a wall hanging in the works. Tutorials to come!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This and That

Popping in to update you all on life in the homestead!

E: She lost her first tooth yesterday! She was over the moon excited. We were standing in line at Sbux and she noticed it was really hanging by a thread and she reached in to pull it out. She skipped all the way to Daddy to tell him the big news!

Teacher conference went well with for her. Her teacher enjoys having her and said "she knows the answer before anyone else in the class". Any concerns that I had about her and one of her best friends being in the same class were erased. It seems they have both branched out and made lots of friends but are still very close and work well together.

L: We've been working on "responsibility" and being less careless after he dropped something on the screen of Daddy's laptop and destroyed it (accidentally). Then the same day, played soccer in the entryway and broke the glass on one of my frames! He is a bit of a klutz!

His teacher conference also went well! He is doing well in all subjects and excelling in PE :) Just like his Mum! His teacher mentioned his great writing and the fact that she has had to stop him from stylizing his printing. I jokingly mentioned my dismay, as an artistic person, and she apologized for stifling him ;) He has even been attempting to write in cursive now as well.

Ok, enough bragging :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teacher Gift

Teacher conferences are coming up next week. I am going to take a little something to each teacher because I am a major suck up like that. Just kidding....because I appreciate the teachers!

Here is a quick and easy gift that I am giving to one teacher because she never has supplies like elastics at the ready.

I found this box at Ben Franklin. Any little box will do, but one with sections works best. Paint all over in chosen color. Keep in mind you will want to co-ordinate it with the paper you choose.

Cut out paper to cover front and back. I just traced around it and cut it inside the line just a touch.

Glue both pieces on. Make sure you cover the paper in glue or you will deal with lifting and bubbles. Use a brayer if you need to make it flat.

Next, I distressed the edges with some sandpaper and inked it with brown ink. A little distressing goes a long way!

Finally, embellish as you wish! I used the trifecta: ribbon, flowers and bling!

Fill it up with elastic bands, assorted clips and staple. Wrap with cello and VOILA!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Increase Your Cooking Skills

I had an impromptu dinner guest last week and was so happy to have her stay! It was really the first time in my life that I had already started cooking and someone was going to stay and eat what I was preparing without any planning ahead on my part. Ack! Makes me sweat just thinking about it.

It made me even more nervous because this was the night I had decided to just kind of throw something together. I had no recipe and was feeling ambitious. I had all the right elements and I just wanted to try and throw them together using skills I have learned over the past couple of years. I have been subscribing to Everyday Food magazine for about that amount of time and it really has increased my knowledge and skill when it comes to cooking. I highly recommend it if you want to learn some basic skills that will help you create healthy and delicious meals.

Don't be afraid that it's Martha. Trust me. Most of the recipes are on one page, 4-6 steps, 6-12 ingredients. Lots of fresh and seasonal items. It will help you to eat outside the box and not use boxed stuff to cook. You will quickly learn how to make your own dressings, sauces to put on top of meat and poultry, what to do with different vegetables you have seen at the grocery store.

One section I particularly like is where they give you a recipe for something basic (like grilled veggies) and then show you 3-4 ways to use those (in a salad, to top a pizza, side dish). Everything I have ever cooked has been very tasty and healthy, not to mention easy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Japan Job Update

Just thought I would update everyone on the Japan job situation.

D did not get the job. Just before the interview, he was made aware that should he get the job, he would be working with a company that is in direct competition with the company he worked for in Japan. Being the typical loyal Japanese worker that he is, this was very conflicting.

When he left his company in Japan to pursue our lives here in the US, he told me he would always remain loyal to that company as they had put a lot into developing him and his career. So, during the interview, he mentioned he would not work with this other company.

We found out yesterday that they hired someone else and were told that they wanted to hire him but could not find a way to make it work because of the statement he made.

He isn't disappointed. I think he feels pretty at peace with it and I am darn happy :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009


This morning on the news, they showed President Obama at Dover Airforce Base in the middle of the night where he attended the return of 18 servicemen killed in the war.

I mentioned how much I admire the President and the kids watched the footage. Of course, this led to questions.

These days I have to be pretty careful with them watching the news. They used to be pretty oblivious and didn't pay attention but now they catch things and ask lots of questions. I don't want them seeing too much. I don't want them to see all the killing, the abductions and things that they don't need to know about.

But I have felt for quite some time that I want them to know about the war so I have slowly been telling them things here and there.

Let me tell you, this is not an easy discussion! We spoke about freedom and how most countries in the world are free but that some are not. We spoke about the different beliefs and lifestyles that people have around the world. I explained that not all countries understand each other and that causes fear. Which causes some countries to react with fear and try to protect themselves.

So I got through Part 1 of the discussion. The rest gets so complicated! I want them to know that there are other alternatives to war. I want them to respect the sacrifices that the military make regardless of my disagreement with the war.

Sensitive territory!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Feeling the need to document this so I don't forget when it happened :)

Ellie is on her own 2 wheels on her bike now! Off went the training wheels. At first she just used the neighbors driveway, but yesterday we went for a bike ride and she made it all the way around the block twice with a couple of pit stops.

Lucas is just over the moon for her and is ready to race! He was so encouraging and was riding right next to her saying "You're doing great!" and "keep it up!". I am so happy she has a big brother!

Seeing Daddy running next to her with Baxter, and Lucas riding along full of encouragement? It put tears in my eyes. These are the moments I love.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's on the menu?

The fun part about shopping the farmer's markets is having to use what is in season at the time. My last purchase involved a lot of root veggies. Two huge bunches of carrots covered in dirt, beets, parsnips. Parsnips? What do I do with these things?

I loved them. I pre-steamed them then popped them in the oven with some butter and brown sugar and roasted until the started to caramelize. Yeah, they were good but I was the only one who loved them.

Look at this lovely bunch of scallions.

I sliced up a bunch and put them on top of salmon with soy sauce, lemon juice, sake and a bit of butter and baked. 375 for about 20 mins. Yeah, the kids had nuggets that night :)

We are trying to make a lifestyle change in eating more local and less processed. We have always been pretty good and plow through fresh items in our house quickly but also have our standby snacks in a box. Meals in our house have always been fresh and homemade but it's the snacks and treats that are a hard habit to kick.

I am also considering buying a half cow. This may not happen until next year but is on the list of things I will be doing. My Mum offered me her chest freezer so it will definitely be doable.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


It's so true. People told me this all the time and I found it hard to believe. But it is true!

"You will get busier when your kids start school".

This has really hit home this year for me. I always looked forward to the day they were both in school and I could live the life of luxury, eating bon bons and watching soaps. Ok, maybe not the soaps part but yes to the bon bons.

Today I e-mailed Elise's teacher about helping out in class. I have been helping in Lucas' class and signed up for some party coordinating for Ellie but she wants me in the classroom too. When I told the teacher when I was available, it was 90 mins on one day and 2 hours on another. That's all. That was all the free time I had! How the heck am I supposed to fit in bon bons?

Monday's: I am starting to teach swim lessons at the Y. I will be shadowing a trainer for a while and then deciding if it's for me, and the Y deciding if I am for them!

Tuesdays: Gym day....not negotiable

Wednesdays: volunteer at Lucas' class

Thursdays: open

Friday, El is off school.

I never thought being a SAHM would be so busy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Eat Well, Live Well

Went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday. We have been doing this more often for our fruits and vegetables. I notice a huge difference in the quality of what we are buying. This weekend, I bought varied fall vegetables, asian pears, cherry tomatoes of all types (my plants have slowed down considerably). We tried something called a ground cherry....cross between a tomatillo and a strawberry. Very interesting:

Here is a recipe I use all the time and it's very easy, healthy and versatile. Roasting vegetables is something I always wanted to do well and I think I have finally nailed it!

I used the vegetables from the market: small red new potatoes, butternut squash, red onion, purple potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, carrots, sweet potato.

Cut into bite sized pieces. Then you throw them all in a big bowl, toss with olive oil, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and 3 or 4 smashed garlic cloves.

Spread it all out on a pan lined with parchment paper and roast at 450 degrees for about 50 mins.

I normally use this is a side dish but you can also puree into a soup, top a pizza or get creative!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cool new item

My creatively challenged friend pointed me in the direction of this neat stuff called chalkboard oilcloth. Lots of cool possibilities here!
Fun for kids over the table, tags for gifts, sew a patch on a t-shirt and let kids express them selves!


I spent a fortune on my bed this week. It had to be done though. Since the weather is cooling off, the pleasure of a cozy bed starts taking priority.

Lucas climbed into the bed this morning and the resulting "oooooo's" and "ahhhhhhhhh's" told me I did it right! It looks so pretty too.

Here is the bedding set:

And the high thread count sheet set (in that dusty blue):

And the luxury blanket:

And a nice foofy mattress pad. Mix all of that in with my electric pad that goes under it all? Bliss.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Received a new photo of Prisca in the mail this past week. I was not expecting one as it seems like just yesterday I got a new one.

She looks great! She writes to me about once a month and her drawing has really come along. She is still not writing the letters but has someone write them for her. She is so expressive in her letters, often talking about her gratefulness that we are sponsoring her and how she wants to meet someday.

Her clothes have changed since we first started sponsoring her. In her initial photo , she had plain clothes on, but in the last two pictures they have been more colorful and cleaner. I know they provide clothing for her as a Christmas gift from us.

She has moved up in her class in her academics which makes me happy. She is just starting to talk about her lifelong goals.

If you have not considered it, please think about sponsoring a child. You will never regret it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hall of Fame Weekend

It was a nice weekend up at Whistler! The highlight was, of course, the induction into the Hall of Fame for my Mum, who had dedicated herself to the sport of swimming for 31 years. Her speech was great! I am very proud of your accomplishment Mum!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


An almost 7 year quest has come to a very happy end in our household this week. I have kept it a closely guarded secret for the last few weeks and only told 2 people before it was official.

Last night we had some good friends over for dinner. Some of you who read this will know them, our next door neighbors Paige and Mario and little Noah. I made a special dinner, all Japanese food because it was a special night and they appreciate good Japanese food. I even had a glass of wine :)

Half way through dinner, Dama and I asked Mario if he would be Lucas' Godfather. He proudly accepted.

I have known Mario for 3 years now and have come to know him best in the past year or so. I have watched as he took a special interest in Lucas. Always listening to his stories, letting him "help" in the garden even when he wasn't really "helping", talking to Lucas about issues that have come up (fighting with his sister etc), and just plain playing with him in the cul de sac. I have always felt like Mario had a soft spot for Lucas and Lucas has made it very clear about his love for Mario.

Plus it helps to have Godfather who is a Harley dude.

It just feels really good....7 years of looking for someone that I knew would care for Lucas and it's finally official.

After they left, I gave Dama and big hug and told him how glad I was and how now we are stuck with Mario for life ;P Had to get a swipe in there!

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Lifetime of Loving Dogs

It all started with Angus, our beagle/basset/spaniel mix. A true companion and wonderful dog to grow up with. Then on to Oliver, my golden sweetheart who was the love of our lives and who Dama took care of when we were engaged in Ollie's final days. Then the gentle giants of Emma and Rockford, 2 bull mastiffs with so much love to give. We have always had dogs in our lives, and when we haven't, there was something missing.

The road to the first Hakamada dog was a long process. When we got married, we knew eventually we would have a dog and never imagined it would be 10 years later.

There are so many times that someone waits for "13 o'clock". You know, that mysterious time when everything is "right". I have heard it many times and have done the same. "We need to wait until the timing is right". Or "we have to do x and Y before we can do this". This is what happened with getting a family dog.

All the while we thought long and hard about breeds, what we will do when we go on vacation, the walks, the feeding, the vet bills, the mess, the grooming, the heartbreak when they go. But it never swayed us. Having a dog was just a dream we always wanted to fulfill.

The time finally came when everything seemed right and that's when Baxter came along.

And he is the dream we have waited for. He honestly has changed life for us in so many ways. The puppy days were so much work. I remember early on Googling "how old when a puppy settles down". He wore me out, night and day. I often wondered why I had done this to myself.

Why? Because now he is a Hakamada. He is truly part of the family. He has given us so many moments of fun and happiness. He fits in like a glove. He loves the kids and they love him. They take responsibility for him and he is teaching them. They know the love that we have always had for our pets. He craves being with the kids, whether it is on the couch during a movie or when they hide in the tall grass at the dog park and he tracks them down. I am so happy we have given them the gift of Baxter.

Life just would not be the same without him.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

For My Crafting Sisters

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. . . .Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty. . ."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Camping '09

We had a great overnight camp trip in a new location for us: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. It was our first time to camp her and we found these campsites when we were on our way to a hike a few weeks back. I have to say, this was the most perfect site for us that we have ever camped at.

The beautiful trees covered with moss, nice big site, huge flat tent pad.

And at the foot of our site was this little creek, easily accessible for the kids to play and hunt for cool rocks!

The creek led to the Stillaguamish River and a small beach area with a calm and safe place for the kids to swim. They loved it! Brrrrrrr.......

There was lots of time by the campfire too. We did all of our cooking over the fire. Everything always tastes so much better that way! We had steak, Dama made curry, garlic bread, grilled veggies.

And Jiffy Pop of course.

We finally got to use the doggie door on the tent since it was our first camping trip with Baxter. He loved the freedom but wasn't sure what to think when it got dark and we weren't going home! He had a restful night in the tent, curled up next to me all night. It was so nice to see him enjoying camping with the kids.

We will definitely be coming back here. The area is so gorgeous and less than an hour and a half from us. The ice caves hike is also 20 minutes up the road and that is breathtaking. Pacific Northwesterners, make sure you make a visit here!

Friday, August 14, 2009


Hard to believe that summer is coming to an end in 3 short weeks. The kids will be headed back to school and the days will become cooler (yeah). This summer so far has been a lot of fun. A lot more relaxing than I had planned on but I am ok with that.

We have done a lot outdoors as evidenced by the kids' sun kissed skin and new collection of freckles. Me? I am still white as white can be :) Backyard pool, neighbor's cool inflatable slide pool, endless doggie park trips (our second home), hiking.

Friends have been a big part of our summer. Trying to get in as many playdates as we can, playing with old friends, and making new ones. I am amazed at how many calls come in for the kids. It warms my heart to know their friends love them as much as we love their friends.

Swim classes every week. The kids are improving by leaps and bounds and can't get enough of the water.

My first year of veggie gardening. Quite proud of myself! Green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, basil. I want to expand my garden for next year. No more little pots, I am thinking big plots!

Dama working less. Getting home in the early evenings has been great. Lots of time in the evenings to go on bike rides, to the park, play games, practice Japanese.

It has been a lovely summer!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 3, 2009

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Craft Club Musings

Whenever we pick a hostess for Craft Club, I notice the stress of that person picking a project. I understand the feeling now of picking a project for Craft Club.

The first month, I hostessed and it was an easy pick to make the photo stars. Now that I am on my second rotation, it is a bit harder and the pressure is on!

I have 2 things in mind. The first one is a very COOL project that incorporates paper, ephemera, flowers, bling and all sorts of neat things. The second project is more of my talent, what I am good at and what people often ask me "how do you make that?"

The problem here is that #1 is guaranteed to please everyone but not necessarily MY talent. #2 is something that I know a few people will not be interested in but it is something that I am good at.

Invites will be going out after the holiday weekend so I can have this internal struggle all weekend :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Summer is just about upon us and I am sure there will be a ton of memories and pictures to document. So here I am!

We have all been very well and keeping busy. Lots of playing outside already and time with friends.

I am looking forward to re-connecting with everyone via my blog.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Related Posts with Thumbnails