Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pearl Plays PDX #7 - Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo

We went to ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo on Sunday night.  Honestly, the first time Jeremy and I attended ZooLights, it was miserable.  We didn't have kids at the time and went along with my sister and my niece.  There were so many people there that we had to park in a remote lot and be shuttled over, the line for the zoo train was hours long, and it was freezing cold.  That was about five years ago and I didn't ever want to go back to Zoolights after that night.
Pearl loves animals and all things Christmas-y so I knew she would think it was magical. We decided to give it another shot with our own kids this year.  I read the FAQ page on the Oregon Zoo website to find out tips on how to not relive that same experience.  I learned that it isn't as busy early in the season and weeknights are ideal if you have toddlers.  I also found out that although ZooLights technically "starts" at 5:00, they turn most of the lights on around 4:00.  You can buy ZooLights admission as early as 4:00 as well.
We decided to go on a Sunday night and arrived well before 5:00.  It was a really cold evening, but it was totally worth braving the weather.  The parking lot was barely half full.  We received our tickets (with no wait) and headed straight to the zoo train.  We only had to wait 15 minutes until we were on the train.  Both kids actually seemed to love the train experience.  I was a bit surprised by how quick the train ride was since I know people are willing to wait hours for it and you pay an extra $4 per person to take the train.  It was the highlight of the night for our kids though.
There are tons of booths where you can buy hot chocolate and other treats.  Carrying around a hot chocolate adds a bit to the magical experience and nearly everyone at the park had one in hand.
There are many more lights than I recall seeing five years ago as well.  The whole experience was much more fun seeing it through Pearl's eyes instead of our own grown up eyes the first time around.  I was also surprised by how many animals we were able to see because I don't recall any being out on our first visit.  Both kids enjoyed seeing the elephants.
We lasted for about an hour and a half.  We made it through the majority of the zoo and we stopped to see most of the animals that were available for viewing.  Axel was starting to get really upset about the cold weather though so we decided to call it a night.  On the way out of the park, one kid was crying because he was cold, and the other was crying because she was desperate to stay.  Pearl would have braved the weather for much longer to stick around if she could.  I bet Axel will enjoy it more next year, but we will definitely leave the baby with grandparents. 
Recommendations I have for those thinking of visiting ZooLights with toddlers include going as close to 4:00 as you can, not going on a Friday or Saturday night, attending early in December, and immediately getting in line for the train once you arrive.  I also strongly recommend over bundling yourself and your kids as the cold can get pretty difficult to overlook, especially for the youngest visitors. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

DIY Christmas Card Wall Display

Every year I end up doing a few DIY Christmas related projects.  I can't help myself.  This year, I wanted to come up with at least one project the kids could actually help with.  I attended the DIY Fair put on by Imago Dei Community here in Portland to help with ideas.  This wasn't one of the projects, but someone had made snowflakes in a few configurations with craft sticks as decor for the event.  That got my wheels turning and I went out to purchase my supplies.
I don't know about you, but I struggle with how to display all of the Christmas cards we receive from family and friends throughout the Holiday season.  In past years, I have tacked a string to the wall and punched holes in the cards to create a banner with them.  I thought if I made a snowflake large enough, I could use it to display all of our cards.  Plus, it's basically just craft sticks and glue so if one filled up, it wouldn't cost anything extra to make another.
I sat down with Pearl and Axel to glue the sticks together and make our snowflake.  The kids were over the project after about five minutes, but they loved playing with the craft sticks.  I ended up just letting them play while I finished the snowflake on my own.
I decided to paint the snowflake gold to match our Christmas cards from Tiny Prints.  I love how this liquid gold gilding looks on finished projects.  It's hard to tell from the photos, but it has a very pretty metallic look.  I applied it to the snowflake with a sponge brush in a well ventilated area because that stuff is strong.  Make sure you do the same.
After I put the snowflake on the wall, I started tucking my cards into the corners.  They stayed pretty well, but I decided to use paper clips to secure them as I know I will soon have many more cards to fit.
This was a super easy and cheap project, but it looks great in our living room and is a much more personal way of displaying cards than a banner on the wall.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I am Thankful For...Free Thanksgiving Printables

I was planning to go buy diapers this afternoon, but the weather is really terrible so I chose to stay inside.  I have shamefully already started my Christmas crafting even before celebrating Thanksgiving later this week.  I did have a fun idea for little "I am thankful for" cards that Pearl could hand out at dinner.  This seemed like the best time to put them together.  The diapers can wait until tomorrow (no later though because our stock is low!).
Once I finished putting them together, Pearl had a good time telling me why she was thankful for all of her cousins.  I'm excited to hear her reasons for the rest of the family.  These would also be great to use as place cards if you were fancy enough to have assigned seating at your meal.
I thought I would share the "I am thankful for" cards with all of you here as free printables.  It is a fun activity to do with your kids and you might be surprised by what they say!  Please comment if you use them.  I would love to hear why your kids are thankful for their family members.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 3, 2014

DIY Print Shop Screen Printing Kit - Sponsored Post

**I received the DIY Print Shop Table Top Screen Printing Kit as compensation for this post.  All opinions in this post are completely my own and were not suggested by the sponsor.
Last week I attended a blogger event at Ryonet to learn about their company and the new DIY Print Shop Table Top Sceen Printing Kit they created in collaboration with Print Liberation.  I rarely attend events like this, but as I dabble in screen printing and already buy products from Ryonet, I thought it would be informative and helpful for me.  Also, they promised doughnuts.
It was a super fun morning learning about printing, products, and getting our hands dirty a bit.  I didn't expect them to take us through the whole process of printing, but Ryan and Josh showed us everything from start to finish.  I took a class at The Make House here in Portland about a year ago so this was a great refresher and I learned a bunch of tricks to make my printing life easier.
At the end of the event, I was lucky enough to take a DIY Table Top Screen Printing Kit home with me.  I am crazy excited about all that it contains.  This kit seriously has everything you need to get started with printing.  It even has hinges so you can set up your own DIY printing press which is something I did not have.  It has a bulb that will burn your screen in about 12 minutes.  The bulbs I purchased at Home Depot when I first started take 45 minutes.
I am convinced this is the most complete beginner screen printing kit on the market.  It certainly costs more than the Speedball Kit I started out with, but you also don't need to go out and buy extra stuff.  The products you receive are barely comparable between those two kits.  The squeegee with the Speedball kit is laughable compared to what you get with the DIY Table Top Kit.  The Speedball Kit doesn't come with an emulsion scoop coater, transparencies, an exposure bulb, light safe bulb, or degreaser that are all pretty much necessary for printing.  These all come standard in the DIY Table Top Kit.  Once you finally gather all of your supplies after buying a different kit, you will wish you went with the DIY Table Top Kit, I promise.  They even considered the details.  It comes with rubber gloves and adhesive to tack down the material you print on.
This is everything included in the kit:
You can get a comprehensive list of what all of these supplies are here.
I love all of the detail that went into designing the kit as well.  Look at how fun these bottles are:
I'm excited to get started with this kit and build a hinge press with it which will make things a lot easier when printing by myself.  You can also buy the kit in combination with Ryonet's Starter Hobby Press which is absolutely on my Christmas list this year after getting a change to play around with their presses.  I can't believe how affordable it is.
I've had a number of people ask me what they need to get started in printing and it's nice to finally have one link to send them to instead of a comprehensive list of supplies they have to gather on their own.  It makes printing feel so much more accessible to beginners.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Baby Girl!

Big news, friends.  I'm pregnant!  We held onto announcing this one for a while. I am 18 weeks along and we found out this week that we are having a baby girl.  Pearl knew it was a girl from the start and wouldn't even acknowledge the idea that the baby could be a boy.  We would have been very happy either way, but I'm so glad it worked out for Pearl.
I was extremely tired during the first trimester.  On my days at home with the kids, I couldn't resist also taking a nap during their nap time.  I'm glad that fatigue is finally behind me because napping at that time of day was really cutting into my productivity.
I know a lot of people think we are crazy to have three kids under 3.5 years old.  We probably are crazy, but we want our kids to be close in age.  It has been fun to watch Pearl and Axel build their friendship and we decided it was time to add another playmate to the mix.
We are so happy to have another fun little person join our family in March.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kitty Cat Birthday Party for Pearl

Today is Pearl's 3rd birthday!  We had a party for her over the weekend so all of our family could come.  Pearl requested a kitty cat theme for her party after attending her cousin Tucker's turtle party.  She was convinced her party needed an animal theme.  She also decided to have "strawberry cake".  I'm not positive of where that idea came from.  My guess is it had something to do with the Strawberry Shortcake coloring book she recently received from a cousin.
Pearl has been pretty fickle about making decisions lately.  I tried to buy her a Halloween costume a few days back and she changed her mind on what she wanted to be four times within a ten minute time period.  She currently wants to be Kristoff from Frozen and shockingly enough, I can't seem to find a Kristoff costume anywhere.  She decided on the kitty cat theme and strawberry cake well over a month ago and continuously stuck with it so I was determined to make it a reality.
I like making silly party posters in Illustrator and Photoshop.  I know those programs well and it's a lot easier for me than painstakingly crafting decorations with two kids who are desperate to play with anything that's in my hand.  I hate using stock photos from the internet though, especially when I want to share my final product on this blog.  I definitely did not intend to have a cat photo shoot either because basically, I'm not crazy.
My final cat photo gathering solution was to ask my friends on Instagram if I could use their photos.  I essentially crowd sourced my cat images.  I set up a hashtag on Instagram and asked people to use that hashtag on photos they were fine with me using.  I also had a bunch of friends tell me I could use any of their Instagram photos and a few even e-mailed theirs to me.  I ended up with plenty of cats to choose from.  I also received tons of help on cat related puns to use via my Instagram account.
I spent no extra money on decorations for this party.  I already had paper and ink for the posters.  The little bit of crafting I did do involved yarn that I already had in my craft supplies.  For the yarn ball decorations, I just wrapped yarn around a few plastic balls that belong to my kids.  That awesome Berkley Illustration cat print usually resides in our hallway, but I moved it to the mantle because it fit the theme so well.
We had lots of fun!  Some of our guests even chose to wear cat related clothing.  Pearl loved it and the rest of the kids seemed to have a great time as well.

If you are curious about the strawberry cake, I used this recipe.  The frosting was ridiculously good.  The cake was very dense so I would want to modify the recipe if I made it again.

Monday, August 25, 2014

This is 30

My friend Margaret Jacobsen took this photo of me right around my 30th birthday.  I consider it my official year 30 portrait.
I am 30 years old.  I have only been 30 for a little over one month, but I can tell you that being this age is much different than I expected it would be years ago.  To someone in their teens, 30 is SO OLD.  I still kind of think it sounds old, but it doesn't feel old.  I don't feel like a grown-up.  I'm not sure when that will settle in.  I already have two kids and I thought it would come by this point.
What I do feel is confidence.  I'm much more confident than I have ever been in my life.  I feel comfortable in my work and no longer have a high stress level when branching out to work on projects that are new.  My last three freelance jobs came to me, I didn't seek them out.  It is great to be at a point where opportunities are coming my way and I'm not having to awkwardly attempt to sell myself on limited merit.
I am also much more confident as a parent.  Taking the kids to the grocery store by myself isn't a big deal anymore.  If Pearl decides to throw a fit in the middle of Ikea, it barely phases me.  I don't worry about what people around me are going to think of my parenting as a result of the situation.  Kids are unpredictable, and even the calmest ones have their moments.  I also generally don't care as much about what people think which is quite liberating.
With young kids, I still don't have a lot of freedom to take much time for myself.  I have so many things that I would like to do.  I want to work-out regularly, read more, and build more quality relationships with friends.  I want to become more involved when it comes to social justice, make more art, and find my niche within my church.  I'm making steps to do some of these things now.  And as my kids age, I will have more time for myself.  When I look ahead to 40, I now think it sounds pretty exciting.  I wonder how many of these things I will be able to accomplish by then and what other twists and turns my life will take in that time.
Aging is scary.  I see my grandparents as their bodies and minds are deteriorating.  My parents are beginning to have health issues as well.  It is frightening to know that is eventually on the horizon for me, too (if I'm lucky enough to make it to old age).  But, at this point, I am able to recognize all of the amazing things that come along with getting older.  With age, I am learning more about who I am and sensing that I am capable of so many more things.