Came across an interesting verse the other day while I was doing my BSF homework:

If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
1 Peter 4:15 NIV

Murderer, thief, any other kind of criminal … meddler.

Over Labor Day weekend, we took a trip down to Cannon Beach. It was somewhat of a last minute thing, but it was great to go relax by waves, sand, sun, and breeze. I think we finally convinced Spiky that playing in the sand is fun.
We left Sunday after church, taking the scenic route closer to the coast. We crossed into Oregon over the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which is probably the longest bridge our kids have been on so far. It was pretty impressive seeing it before we got on it from the Washington-side:
Astoria-Megler Bridge
When we got there, there were still lots of people outside enjoying bonfires. That first night, we probably heard more people than nature. Waking up Monday morning and getting to see this:
morning view
outside the window was great! After a quick breakfast, we played around with the sand and the waves. Well … we tried anyhow. Chops really enjoyed this, and the excitement of seeing lots of dogs and kites being flown. Spiky not so much:
spiky on beach1
It wasn’t until we were about to leave that he finally warmed up to the idea of beach and sand:

We will need to see about revisiting — our stay was not quite long enough!

Compared to how long it normally takes me to finish articles of clothing for my kids, this is relatively quick turnaround. I finished the car shirt (using Oliver + S’s sketchbook shirt pattern):
sketchbook shirt

Spiky hasn’t worn it yet, though I put it on him to see fit. He seems to like it (and why wouldn’t he with all the cars on it), which is good :). A few nit-picky things though. I could have done a better job of hemming it — could do with a lesson on how to properly achieve this with my machine. And I would like to find a better way to finish the edges (inside) — the way I currently do it feels a bit bulky. Otherwise pretty pleased with the outcome. Doubly so as this is the first time I’ve actually used the ladder/hidden stitch to invisibly finish an edge (instead of cheating and just edge-stitching); despite the manual labor involved it didn’t take too much time and I’m pleased with how much better the inside part of the collar turned out.
Perhaps I should start considering Halloween costumes now (unless the costumes from last year still fit and they would still wear them 🙂 ) …

A few weeks ago we had two birthday celebrations, one for our son and another for my mom. Both were just-family celebrations which was quite nice. First up, our mischievous little two-year-old!
like cake

He sure has changed quite a bit this last year! He now not only is able to walk, but he runs :). While this is not completely representative of his current running technique, it gives you a glimpse:

I just love how he swings his arms and quickly bumbles his way around in an attempt to run (especially to keep up with his sister). As was the case last year, he still despises pretty much every vegetable. His one typical concession is to eat broccoli. He’ll sometimes also eat some spinach and other (Chinese) leafy greens my mom cooks in an attempt to expand his (vegetable) horizon. He really loves The Sound of Music which he requests with a “kan do-re-mi!”:

He’s starting to get more words, more in English though some in Chinese. He is currently obsessed with birds (he only really knows crows, ducks, and hawks, so all birds fall in one of those categorization), cars and trucks (he exclaims “caa!” repeatedly when he sees one which can be tiresome when driving around, and also “tuck!” when he sees any large vehicle such as buses, trucks, vans, etc.). He also gets very excited about airplanes (to which he exclaims “ah-den!”). The funniest though is dogs: he will point at one and say “gǒu-gǒu” and try following, but if the dog is actually friendly enough to want to play, he becomes scared and starts crying.
We thought that he would know what to do with the candle now that he’s two, but alas he did not. There was a lot of blankly staring at the flickering flame while we tried to convince him to blow them out:
candles?!
For Mom’s birthday, we had my parents and brother over for an extended weekend. We started off with some grilling for dinner (yummy ahi tuna, and nicely smoked-seasoned steaks with greens from my parents’ garden as accompaniment). Chops wanted us to have the celebration dinner outside so she nicely helped set the table:
setting table
Mom had no problems blowing out the candles :). The kids wanted to be closer to the candles and cake. So we got a family picture together with the birthday “girl” and her cake:
family
The following day, we started the day off with some french toast and bacon breakfast then headed out to enjoy the nice, sunny weather by kayaking around the nearby lake. Everyone got to go out at least once, except for little Mr. Spiky. In the early evening, I managed to convince my Dad to go geocaching with me. We found Paws and Reflect and An Island Oasis together without much difficulty.
I like that we have some family nearby and that we’re able to celebrate birthdays together in this manner.

One of my friends, after seeing some of my pictures, asked if I was intending to start a blog called “the determined urban gardener” :P. Since I do already have a blog and I have traditionally made mention of it in past years but have not yet done so, here’s a overview of what this year’s garden looks like.
Back in early April, I started some corn, acorn squash, swiss chard, and beets from seeds. I also acquired two types of cherry tomatoes, some beans and snow pea plants, as well as a pumpkin plant, and a small flat of swiss chard. To this, I added dwarf gray peas, painted lady pole beans, more beets (which I failed to properly transplant), music box sunflowers, bush yellow scallop squash as seed starts in early May. And then 🙂 … I also added two varieties of carrots (from seed), some lettuce plants, cauliflower (from seeds), as well as radish (from seeds) :D. Oh — and I decided to continue doing potatoes since I had some from last year, but decided to expand and get a secondary variety (different colors — I like colorful edibles).
While this all seems like a lot (which I suppose it sort of is), we’ve only really harvested some strawberry:
strawbeerries
snow peas:
snow peas
chard, lettuce, blueberries:
blueberries
and a couple of radishes:
radishes
so far. A lesson learned (since I moved where I tried planting lettuce this year from previous years): even though online sources say that lettuce will grow in the shade this isn’t completely true. Sure — it’ll grow. But it’s spindly and gangly and not very productive, so poo for that :(. I had such high hopes.
I suppose the thing that’s exciting for me is that the garden in the back currently looks like this:
backyard garden
with blueberries starting to ripen, acorn squash growing, potato plants starting to flower, cherry tomatoes forming, and the painted lady scarlet beans (as well as the normal kind of beans) are starting to bud! The front “garden” is not doing that shoddy either. The corn looks like there might actually be corn developing, I have a few orange blossoms (but given the previous experience of them blooming, I am not exactly expecting fruit … still smells super nice though!), Chops might actually get to have some little pumpkins as she requested :), and I’m hoping that the carrots planted will be bigger than the carrots I planted late last fall as a stab at “fall planting” which I unearthed prepping this year’s garden.
It’s fun having a vegetable/fruit garden! I think it encourages me to have our family eat more meals at home … and healthier ones at that to incorporate the harvest.

Since trying out gelato a number of years ago, I’ve always wanted to try and make it at home. My first attempt at it a few years back was rather unsuccessful though I’m not sure why. As a result, I’ve been hesitant to try again. BUT … this past Christmas, we got an ice-cream maker (this one) for Christmas and I had gotten The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto: Bold, Fresh Flavors to Make at Home (since I liked their Key Lime Graham Gelato Squares I found at the grocery store).
Given that the weather lately has been fairly hot (for Western WA), I decided to give the ice-cream maker a whirl … or two as the case was. The first recipe I tried was the pistachio gelato recipe.
pistachio gelato
I think I accidentally added just a touch too much almond extract (as it seemed to me to be on the verge of overpowering the signature flavor of pistachios) and I purposely left out the whole pistachios that it says to add at the end (since I’m not a big fan of nut chunks in my frozen treats). It turned out pretty well — even my husband who was skeptical about the flavor seems to be enjoying it.
One lesson I learned since the last time I made gelato is that it should be served at a slightly warmer temperature than traditional ice cream. This time, I made sure to pull it out of the freezer and let it sit for a few minutes before attempt to scoop and serve. This made it not only easier to scoop, but the texture more closely approximated the texture of gelato most recently tasted at a gelato place near where I work.
Then, because my husband requested a more “traditional” flavor and because we had a bunch of strawberries from the garden from last year sitting in the freezer, I decided to make some strawberry gelato as well. Plus, I had also decided to acquire these cute ice cream tubs and wanted to try them out :). The sugar content probably could have been reduced even further, but everyone in the family really enjoyed it as it was. Here it is in all its pretty pinkness, fresh out of the machine:
strawberry gelato
So glad to know that gelato making isn’t as intimidating as I feared and looking forward to trying out more gelato recipes and also maybe also some “regular” ice cream and sorbet/sorbetto recipes. Excited!! 🙂 🙂

Not only has it been quite long since the last time I posted a blog entry, but it’s also been a while since my last sewing project (which was an attempt at making a Hello Kitty pajama top for Chops for Christmas; unfortunately made it about 5 sizes too large it seems).
My newest project is the Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt. I did things a little differently this time. Instead of tracing the pattern from pattern paper to non-pattern paper before cutting out and using that as guide for cutting fabric pieces, I photo-copied the pieces. This wound up saving me a lot of time. I’ve worked on this on three separate nights so far, though the nights have been spaced apart. The first night of sewing yielded this:
progress1
After the second night, the collar was attached:
collar attached
And the state that it is in now:
nearly finished
I “just” need to finish the seams, hem the bottom and the sleeves and add buttons and buttonholes and then I’ll be done! I hope Spiky likes this!!

No — we did not travel for a full six months. Nothing close to that, but we have been on a number of road trips in this time duration and just never got around to sharing some photo highlights from them. So here goes …
Back in April, we went to the Tulip festival. Chops in particular enjoyed it. In her class at daycare, they’d been learning about flowers (hyacinths, tulips, etc.). Sprinkles were in the forecast, but fortunately for us, it remained relatively dry the whole time we were in the fields enjoying the tulips and daffodils:
Chops with tulips
We found some nice strangers to take a rare family photo for us:

and concluded the day with a stop at the Snow Goose stand where we enjoyed some rather large ice-cream cones:
ice cream!
… that was the kid-sized cone!
In May, we acquired a larger vehicle and decided to go on a overnight road trip over Memorial Day Weekend. Here we (the kids) are about to get on our way!
Memorial Road Trip start
The trip consisted of going from Washington state, through Oregon to Idaho. The goal was to see Shoshone Falls, which we successfully achieved:
Shoshone Falls
The next trip we made after that was to Portland when Dan’s sister was able to come out to visit us. Apparently we picked a rather interesting weekend to visit and picked just the right place to stay at — we got to see (from afar) the Naked Bike Ride Race:

We also made the obligatory stop at Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls
before returning via Leavensworth, WA (which for some reason I don’t see photos of …).
In late June, friends of ours invited us to Coyle for a weekend. It was the first time for Spiky to ride a ferry. While there, Chops was excited by all the starfish she got to see (and hold) as well as a very long, very red, highly unusual worm:
orangish starfish chops holding starfish awesome worm purplish starfish
This trip was doubly exciting for Chops since it was our first time as a family going on a trip involving sleeping bags and tents. Despite the novelty, both kids actually did a fairly decent job of sleeping.
The last one in the “series” is more a field trip than a full-on trip. We went to Remlinger Farms with our small group.
Here are some of the kids:
kids at remlinger farm
Chops really enjoyed all the things with wheels!
Pretend-driving the tractor:
driving tractor
Riding the “train” through the park:
train riding
Going on an imaginary carriage ride with her friend:
carriage ride
And driving mommy around in an old-style car:
driving
She also got to ride a horse for the first time:
horse riding
Can’t say that it was as exciting for Spiky … ;).

This year’s pear yield was nothing to sneeze at. Now that I know how much two trees can produce without any fertilization, I’ll have to make sure to prune, thin, and fertilize in the future for even better yield (from perspective of size and quality). This is the amount of pears we had harvested in our house at one point (with some fruit remaining in the trees):
pears
That was with consuming some, and making a small batch of pear cider:
pear cider
and pear sauce:
pear sauce
I’m really glad that the kids seem to enjoy eating pears, both fresh and as “sauce”. This was the first time I undertook canning. It wasn’t until after I made the cider, and first two batches of pear sauce that I decided to look up what people do with “extra” pears. It’s rather unfortunate that I didn’t find the recipe for pear jelly until this time. I went ahead and made a third batch of pear sauce and followed this recipe for making pear jelly utilizing the peel and cores (the first two batches of pear “sauce” actually had skins attached). I really love the amber color of the end product:
pear jelly
There is still a goodly quantity of fresh pears, in addition to two pints + 12 half-pints of canned pear sauce, plus nine 4-oz containers of canned vanilla pear jelly. Hooray for pears!!

Our little one is sure developing quite the personality. While he still shows no interest in walking, he’s been experimenting with standing hands-free for brief periods of time (including while in a high-chair). I’m optimistically hoping that it’ll be fun once he starts walking 🙂 (and that he does so before he is 18 months old).
On the other hand, it appears he is attempting to skip on to acquiring other life skills, such as wiping his face with a napkin, blowing his nose, and putting his own socks on. None of these attempts are very successful for the time being, and I will need to get photo/video evidence, but they are entertaining to watch.
One of the things he does that cracks me up is his modified peek-a-boo routine. Observe the following video:

Despite a reluctance to transition to being a biped, he enjoys moving around. One game he likes playing is sneaking upstairs when we aren’t paying attention (there are 15 steps between the two levels), or semi “racing” us up the stairs. Another thing he enjoys doing is playing with the sound system, even knowing full well that he isn’t supposed to do so:
up to no good
Can’t believe he’s inching ever closer to being 18 months old!!