The longer days

I can feel spring getting closer.  The days are getting longer.  It is no longer dark at 4:30pm.  On a clear day, at 6:15 pm when we are getting out of swim practice, there is a smidge of natural light.  And even though I really do like winter, I like feeling and seeing the seasons turn.

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The sun shines through the windows and warms us a little inside.

DSC_0080 (And I can see how really dirty our windows are.)

DSC_0081 The bulbs that were lost under the piles of stuff… are blooming!

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The chairs outside are drying off at times.  Though the paint has chipped away a little, they still look the same beautiful blue we enjoyed last summer. They seem brighter these days, when the sun just feels as bright as can be.

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And that blue sky up above… makes everyone happy.  For all of our outdoor needs.

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A year out of this world

I can’t really imagine what it would mean or what it would take to be at the International Space Station (ISS).  Actually I can’t even imagine myself getting inside a space shuttle for any amount of time.  I don’t like being inclosed in a small space to begin with, but also, I am not that adventuresome.  It doesn’t sound like fun at any level.  But I am very glad there are other people who do it.  I enjoy the results from their work.

But if I were to be OK flying off this world into space, I don’t think I could spend 340 days in yet another small space, “floating” in space.  I don’t think I could spend 6 months up there, or a month even.  I don’t know what it takes to become an astronaut, but I know I don’t have any of those characteristics.  I guess, enjoying the view from up there and taking pictures…. yes, I could do that.  Probably.  Maybe.  For few hours.  I don’t know.  Maybe not.

This is one of the responses Astronaut Scott Kelly wrote about a typical day up in ISS:

I wake up at about 6:45 am. I work most of the day on different experiments, maintenance and operations of the space station. I exercise, and I end my workday at about 7:30 or 8 p.m. I go to sleep about a couple hours later.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the pictures Astronaut Scott Kelly  I posted some pictures back in August, and I can’t tire of seeing his pictures (on Facebook) with all the shapes, and colors… what a view it must be from up there.  I find it incredible.  Incredible nature, colors, shapes, incredible that he could stay up there for a whole year.

I am really hoping Mr. Kelly publishes a book with his images, because I’d be the first one in line to get it.  Most of his photos look surreal, many times like paintings, abstract lots of the time, it is just amazing what our Earth is all about.

Here, I, by no means, want to take credit for his work by posting his photos that I’ve copied from Mr. Scott Kelly’s posts.  I just want to make sure I can still enjoy them until he does publish his book… (wishful thinking, right?)

And of course, I want to celebrate the completion of his (their) mission.  On March 1 (just few days from now) he (and the Russian cosmonaut) will return to Earth.  He will finally return home to his family and friends.  He will be with his twin brother with whom they are doing scientific studies to see what gravity and being out of it for this prolonged time does to his body.  And as this article says, he’ll have few things to re-adjust to.  I’m hoping we can watch his last live interview from ISS tomorrow.  And of course, we’ll continue to watch and read more about what it has been like this past year for him and everyone at the ISS.

For now, I am celebrating his accomplishment, because I have enjoyed what he has shared with us online.  Videos, thoughts, and these amazing images.  (You can see Time’s pick of Scott Kelly’s best photos.) I am forever thankful for the chance to see our beautiful, wonderful Earth through his camera.

%22When you think of beautiful things. Don't forget Earth%22 Scott Kelly from ISS Feb 1 2016
“When you think of beautiful things, don’t forget the Earth” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. February 1, 2016. Year in Space.
Snow from ISS.
Snow from ISS.
304th day in orbit = 4864 round Earth from ISS January 2016 Scott Kelly
“304 th Day in orbit = 4864 Round Earth” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS.  January, 2016.  Year in Space.
Sands of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 2016.
Sands of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 2016.
Africa colors from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Africa colors from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Africa - from ISS Scott Kelly Jan 2016
Africa. By Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS.  January, 2016. Year in Space.
Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 11, 2016.
Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 11, 2016.

Astronaut Scott Kelly posted on Tumblr the description of this sight in Africa and he titled it, Earth Art : Out of Africa.  Do go visit when you have few minutes, it is amazing.

Africa - Jan 26 2016 from ISS Scott Kelly
Africa. By Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS.  January 26, 2016. Year in Space.
Africa from ISS by Scott Kelly on day 321
Africa on day 321. By Astronaut Scott Kelly from ISS. 2016. Year in Space.
Japan on Day 322 from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 12, 2016.
Japan on Day 322 from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 12, 2016.
Blizzard 2016 from ISS - Scott Kelly
Blizzard 2016. By Astronaut Scott Kelly from ISS. Year in Space.
Polar vortex from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 14, 2016.
Polar vortex from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 14, 2016.
Colors of the Earth - Scott Kelly from ISS Feb 18 2016
“Colors of the Earth.” By Astronaut Scott Kelly, February 18, 2016 from ISS. Year in Space.
Flowers frown in Space by Scott Kelly ISS - Feb 2016
Flowers grown in space by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 2016. At ISS. Year in Space.
Iran from ISS - Scott Kelly
Iran. By Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. 2016. Year in Space.
Italy and the Alps from ISS by Scott Kelly - January 25 2016
Italy and the Alps from ISS. By Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS> January 25, 2016. Year in Space.
Morning Aurora in the PNW from ISS - Scott Kelly Jan 2016
Morning Aurora in the Pacific Northwest from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. January 2016. Year in Space.
Morning Aurorai from ISS - Scott Kelly
Morning Aurora from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. Winter 2016. Year in Space.
Mother Earth by Scott Kelly - Feb 18 2016
“Mother Earth” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. February 18, 2016. Year in Space.
Ho Chi Minh City from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 15, 2016.
Ho Chi Minh City from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 15, 2016.
Snowy foothills of Iran from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 22, 2016.
Snowy foothills of Iran from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 22, 2016.
Over a Shanghai night - Scott Kelly ISS Feb 8, 2016
“Over a Shangai Night” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. February 8, 2016. Year in Space.
Colors of Africa - Scott Kelly from ISS Feb 22 2016
“Colors of Africa” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. February 22, 2016. Year in Space.

One of the last interviews to both of the astronauts at the ISS before they return home after a year in space.  And this website a really fun one to check as well.   I am hopping we can watch live their return back to Earth.

Scott Kelly himself, at the International Space Station on February 13, 2016.
Scott Kelly himself, at the International Space Station on February 13, 2016.

Thank you Mr. Kelly for sharing these beautiful sights with the whole world while you watched us from up above.

Making : A Christmas quilt

For years, I’ve been wanting to make a Christmas quilt.  But by the time the decorating for Christmas arrives in our house, we are deep in activities.  Between birthday celebrations, swim meets, and all the making that we need to do for the craft fairs, it leaves little time for just sewing, sewing for us.  After the crafts are done, then I have the list of gifts I’d like to make for our family and friends.  So, there’s not much time until after the holidays.

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So this year, I decided to go ahead and get started, after all the holiday making was done.

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I had a pattern in mind, so it was a matter of picking the fabrics that I wanted to use for this quilt.  And started cutting.

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Started matching them up and sewing.

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Then the blocks.

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Now, the top is done.  I have the back for it (an old sheet) and and the fabric I want to use for the binding.  I’ll finish it after we are done with this next craft fair coming up.

In the kitchen

When I was in high school (in Chile) I came to Michigan (in the US) as an exchange student.  I lived in Michigan for a year and you might also want to know that I went to the same high school and had the same counselor than Madonna did!  I’m serious.

While there, I met a beautiful family and became good friends with their older daughter.  We are still friends (she even went to Chile to see me and meet my family few years later) and we keep in touch and makes me so happy to see her beautiful family in pictures (Thanks Facebook!) But wish I could see them all more.  Time has passed so fast.

Few months into my stay here, I was at her house one day and she said that we should make brownies.  But we were heading out somewhere soon, and I thought we didn’t have enough time to make it.  Little did I know that cake mixes existed and that all you had to do was add water and an egg probably, and bake it and ta da!  As you can imagine, having always cooked from scratch (because it was the only way in Chile back then) this box thing seemed like magic.  Powder + Water = Magic!

Fast forward 30 years later.  Last year, we were at one of Lucas’s baseball games and someone brought brownies as a snack for the kids and when I said thanks to the mom she said something like “No problem, they are so easy to make from a box!”  Later that day, Siena asked what did she mean by saying “from a box.”  My food- sheltered kids didn’t know we could bake and make cookies from a box like that.  So Siena then went to the store and bought some boxes and made magic.  We had brownies short there after.

It reminded me of my experience with brownies in a box, almost at the same age, just 30 years earlier.

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And even though these rice crispies are not from a box, they almost fit in that same category because they are so easy.  This is the first time we’ve made them with marshmallow, you know the normal way, without all the natural substitutions I’ve always tried.  (But we used Trader Joe’s rice cereal.)

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Siena took those treats to her swim team, and also made these extra large “Hershey Kisses” for Mark and Lucas for Valentines with it.  DSC_0020 DSC_0019 They looked great and so fun to see, thinking they are XL Kisses!

DSC_0021 Continuing with the sweets, I made (on a different day) this Orange and Olive Oil Cake.  It was really good, though it felt a little heavy to me.  No one else complained though, they all gave it a 10!  (You see I have a score scale 1 to 10 (10 being the best food ever!) for all new foods I make.  Anything averaging over 8, I repeat.  I have too many cookbooks to choose from to repeat anything lower than that, foods they don’t like as much…. UNLESS I really liked it and no one else did, so I wait few months and do it again when they don’t remember and give it another try.  Don’t tell them, tricks of the cook…)

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I wonder if I can put a little less oil… not sure how it would work.  It is really good and very easy to make, a great special treat.  I think they voted is a keeper.

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And to celebrate Valentine’s Day I made a special stuffed French toast.  Also, not very light, but a good treat.  Mashed bananas on one slice of bread, Nutella on the other.  Closed them together and then dipped in egg and milk mixture (vanilla and cinnamon too) and then cooked on a pan for a couple of minutes.  Then transfer to the oven for 5-8 minutes.   The most important part now, get a cute kid in pj’s to sprinkle powder sugar and decorate with fruit (raspberries in this case.)  DSC_0026

Also a little much for breakfast in my opinion, but since it was more like brunch, it was more like a dessert.  And good for hungry kids.

I know, I really do know, that we ate other foods besides sweets.  There were salads, salmon, grits, beans, chicken, stew, meatloaf, potato leek soup… but no pictures to show.  Maybe next time.  Let’s see what comes up in photos next Kitchen post!

Last few weeks

It feels busy right now.  No excuses, no real reason other than having two active kids, and being a family of four, with lots of ideas and wants and needs and trying to enjoy our days. The last few weeks…

… we had our first trip to the emergency room with the kids.  Not bad for being parents for 13 years.  It was a corneal scratched that the doctor wanted to check after talking to advice nurse.  That’s not a thing you want to hear at 9:30pm “yeah… you should bring him now to have him checked”… (or at any time of the day !) A couple of hours in the hospital, some help/cleaning from the doctor, antibiotics and an early follow up ophthalmologist visit made our weekend a much busier one.  But with great relief, a very quick recovery and able to do all of our fun activities as hoped, cleared by the doctor.  Phew! Not bad outcome for an emergency visit. Thank goodness.

… we’ve had some sunshine and clear skies.  Beautiful, beautiful couple of days! Oh how I love this place of ours.

DSC_0193 Hills to the northeast, with the tip of the new bridge.

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Mt. Hood…. beautiful Mt Hood.

… have enjoyed seeing the kids talk and check their fitness gadget they recently purchased thanks to a present from their grandparents from Chile.   Both got a different kind, matching their personal needs.  One is waterproof, the other one didn’t have to be.  Now, we are learning how to read all the information we can get from it.

… I really liked this short video explaining dyslexia.

… during (another) doctor’s visit for the kids last week, I asked them to measure me as well, and Siena and I are the same height if she’s barefoot and I wear my shoes.  I guess, it’s official, she’s taller than me now.

… Siena got some cute socks from her uncle from Chile, sent directly from China.  By the way… have you’ve seen this video of the panda in the snow and this one of pandas playing?

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… Lucas had his first two wins in basketball.  They played well, and most importantly they had fun.

… he also had his baseball try out.  Worried with his scratched eye, we thought he’d have to miss it.  But thank goodness for kids’ quick recovery and amazing bodies, he was given a good to go, and was able to participate and see where he places.  All is good.

… we had a swim meet that we all enjoyed watching and celebrating and getting ready for a bigger meet (State Championship) next week.

… liked this article about unschooling.

… we like this billboard.  It makes us smile every time we go by…

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… Siena is checking every day her new Etsy shop, managing visits and hoping a sale will come through.  Lots of talking about what looks good, what words we should put, how to describe her pieces, how to better serve costumers and what people would like best.

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(I am also trying to figure out how to put the Etsy banner/logo on the side of the blog here, to be able to link it straight to our Etsy shop, but I can’t figure it out.  We have lots to learn! Yes I do.)

… the kids got to spend a couple of days with some special borrowed grandparents.  They are so nice, they always talk great things about our kids and how they all play so well and have so much fun out in their farm. We feel lucky to have them and have the chance to spend time with them at their place.

… and while the kids were at the farm, I got to have a whole day to myself, and a morning.  What can one do with all that time to one self?  A trip to the library.  A stop for chai, checked out a paper/craft store around the corner (with nothing in mind, just to look), a stop at a very nice store next to it, and drinking my tea by myself in the quiet of the house.  A rare thing around here.  Not sure I’d like to have it every day, but I certainly enjoyed it this time.  Good for a change.  I think it was good for everyone.

… we are getting ready for the first spring craft/art show.

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… we are having fun learning about Africa and Jane Goodall and chimpanzees and geography.  Lots to learn about, with such a big theme.  Sometimes that is easier because we can choose whatever we’d like to focus on, but there are so many options that some times that’s harder.

… the flowers are starting to appear.  Which makes me think, we don’t have much of a chance to get some snow anymore.  I think I’ll be OK about it.

Spring?

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The rhubarb is one of the first vegetable, plant appearing in our garden.  This plant is from some friends who gave it to us long, long time ago.  18 years?  They lived here in Portland for few years, we became friends, they had kids and they moved back East.  When they left Portland, we had our house and they gave us their rhubarb.  Three plants.  One of them is very strong.  The other two, I transferred them last year to this new spot.  I think this is a better place already.  (Thank you Lisa!)

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Is Spring really coming?  I know, it always seems too early when the first flowers start to bloom.  Seeing in the news all the snow falling in the rest of the country, seems that purple crocuses shouldn’t be flowering just yet. DSC_0045

The rosemary is also starting to bloom, but it is a little hardier. DSC_0046 DSC_0047

It is these delicate petals that make me wonder about spring.

DSC_0037 DSC_0039 DSC_0041Is February Purple Flower Month then? Or maybe (most likely) we like purple so we have only early blooming flowers that are purple. (Probably this last one is truer.)  But I guess I wouldn’t mind the first one either…. so Happy Purple Flower Month to you all!

Making : Hot pads

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A good friend of ours had her birthday this month, and even though she said she doesn’t have a birthday this year, we gave her a non-birthday present.

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They went to France few months ago so I thought I’d make her some pot holders with the Paris fabric I have from the quilts I made for Lucas and Siena (a post on that coming up) and the one I made for us.DSC_0004 copy

I sewed the strips together and added a bottom strip, to make it a little bigger, since the frame of those postcard-type fabric, wasn’t big enough.  I layered the top and the bottom with cotton batting and insulated lining (Insul-Bright.)

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I thought they turned out pretty cute, so I made some for us too.

DSC_0001 I used the rest of the frames I had and used the left over strips I had from the kids’ quilts.

DSC_0004 So they were all different, but look similar I think.

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I stitched it around the seams so the batting doesn’t move around, so a very simple quilt. And instead of binding I sewed the pieces inside out, and then turned it (making sure I sewed a ribbon for hanging them), and top stitched all the way around the edge to close the opening where I turned it right side out.

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Pretty simple after all and it’s always fun to have something just made in the kitchen, that we use every day, and reminds us of our adventures.

Making : linen for my bed

I love natural fibers.  Wool, cotton, silk…. but linen… oh…. linen.  I do love it so much.

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A while back I made a linen quilt, with all recycled clothes and tablecloths I found in thrift stores.   DSC_0039-small

I made another quilt with all sorts of linens, most of them cotton, but some linen as well.

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I’ve also made Prayer Flags with a recycled linen curtain.

A bag to carry my paints and brushes, and a roll for the brushes.

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I can’t pass a piece of clothing large enough that I could disassemble with enough large pieces for something, and a pretty color.  Or a tablecloth with holes, that has a bige enough piece.  All goes.  Because I am sure we can find another way to use it, somehow, sometime.

I love recycling it, it is a fabric that gets better with use.  Softer and nicer.

I have also found new pieces of linen at the thrift store, that I couldn’t pass up.  I turned them into two aprons for me. They were recycled pieces I guess, but they were just fabric waiting to be sewn into something.

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But last week, I bought new linen from the store.  What?  I know.  They had some linen sheets on super sale and it was the perfect wedding anniversary present…. right?

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I’ve always wanted to have linen sheets, but couldn’t really afford them. I know they last forever, but spending that amount of money at once, it’s hard for me. So when I saw their linen sale, I decided to go for it.

We only use a fitted sheet and then a duvet on top.  So I bought four sheets.  I sewed two of them together to make a duvet cover.  And then I bought the cheapest sheet they had (I think it was full size) so I could make pillow cases too.  I bought two different colors.

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I used the border of the sheet, for the border of the pillow cases, so I wouldn’t have to hem them.  I did them both differently.  The light gray one, I used it inside out, because I liked how the trim looked a little more noticeable. So they are both a little different, but can’t really tell.  I can, and I like that little secret.

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We had a gray (cotton) fitted sheet that matches really well with the new cover and pillows, soft how I like it (I am very tactile as you can see.)  So now I have my new linen bedding and I am loving it.  It almost feels like I’ve been sleeping better.

Making : Vintage Sheet Quilt

As I am trying to organize my pictures from last year (trying to make a photo book, inspired by my post few weeks ago, inspired by SouleMama’s post, I’ve realized there are many projects and things I didn’t post last year.

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I did take a long break from blogging last year (about six months) and it felt so good to not have to spend as much time in the computer.  But I’ve realized there were lots of pictures in folders that I never looked at.

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I’ve been saving all those old (vintage) sheets I’ve found in garage sales and thrift stores for years.  I’ve thought about using them to make pajama pants (something like these), or maybe bags (envelopes or for grocery bags), or napkins, flags or buntings, hot pads, or pillows, bias tape, tunic or an apron, or curtains (in our bedroom we need something to cover our closet, which is of a funny shape, and the extra heavy door fell down almost 20 years ago)  or any of the exciting projects you can find on Pinterest.

DSC_0323 copy I decided to start with a quilt.  Like a summer-ish quilt.

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I also made one for my mom, that I didn’t take a picture of.  They turned out pretty cute I think. DSC_0327 copy

I don’t want to forget those months of no posts, in the hopes that somehow this online journaling, will be part of “a thing” .  Not sure what exactly that thing would be but I am hoping it will turn into something so my family can remember these growing and learning years.

I don’t know if there is a correlation between me not blogging all those months and all the projects I did and finished. Maybe.