Hello, friends! Things have been so busy around here. We just returned from an idyllic spring break in southern California where we soaked up some sunshine and took the kids to Disneyland for the first time. I realized just before we left that it was our first real family vacation; one that did not include family or friends (as wonderful as those both are). It was different to be just the four of us. And good. It was very good for our little family to have this time together.
Will summed it up nicely when he said: “Disneyland. Where parents make friends with their kids.” Awww.
In other news, I have started working part-time at Bolt Fabric Boutique, the best little fabric store in Portland! Stop in to say hello if you are local. I will also be contributing to the Bolt Neighborhood blog if you care to check out what’s going on over there.
On Sunday we made Gingerbread Boys. I loved this tradition so much when I was a kid. My mom would put a hole in the top of the head before baking and then we would thread a bit of ribbon through and hang the finished ones on the tree. I have done away with that part of the tradition but the rest lives on, especially since I use the same recipe my mom used way back then. We invited friends over to bake and decorate with us, so I doubled this recipe.
Puddinghead Gingerbread Boys
1/2 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 3.5 oz package butterscotch pudding mix 1 large egg 1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Cream butter and sugar. Add pudding mix. Add egg and mix well. Then add all dry ingredients. Roll out 1/8–1/4 inch thick, cut shapes and bake at 350° for 8–10 minutes. Decorate when cool.
Getting a tree always marks the official start of our Christmas season, and this year we did it in style by chopping our own! Before now, this seemd a little daunting because we thought the kids might not be able to tolerate being out in the cold and rain, (and we may not have been able to tolerate the whining and crying). But the weather lately has been delightfully dry and bright—and yesterday was especially so. We decided it would be a shame to waste such a gorgeous day at a tree-lot.
We went to Oxbow Rim Tree Farm, about a half hour’s drive from our house. They have a cafe there with treats and cider and cocoa, as well as a gift shop with the largest variety of ornaments I’ve ever seen in one place. At first I was a little bummed about there being so much commerce involved, but the kids loved it so I ended up loving it too. The fresh air felt amazing and the smell of the trees was wonderful. Lauren had a hilarious routine going where she’d say she found the perfect tree and when we all came running, she’d point to a stump. Brilliant. I though she was going to wet her pants from laughter.
After we loaded the tree on to the top of our car we went inside and the kids each chose an ornament. I probably took about 150 photos of ornaments. It was hard to stop.
My Dad makes knives. For years he has meticulously crafted these beautiful objects, mostly for fun and sometimes for profit. Kirk is the proud owner of one, as are other family members and family friends.
And now Will has his very own knife. It was a gift made especially for him on his 8th birthday last month. By special request and made to fit his smaller hands. From Grandpa to Grandson. To say Will was thrilled to receive it would be an understatement. He is very proud and enjoys telling people all about it. “My Grandpa made this knife for me. Get it? He didn’t buy it, he made it!”
I made reference in a recent post, to working on a special project with my Dad. It was this sheath, or scabbard (not sure what the difference is). Participating in this part of the gift made it that much more meaningful. And it was a blast! I learned a lot about leather working (and thus added to my ever-growing list of ‘things I want to make and do’, specifically this. But I digress!). More photos of the process and the finished but un-dyed product here.
I have been feeling really grateful to have this work of art in our home and will cherish it for many years to come. It really is a family treasure.
A note about safety: Will is never allowed to use the knife without close and proper adult supervision and we continue to teach him about about the correct way to use it. The knife is kept in a safe and secret place in mine and Kirk’s room so we always know when it’s out.
A final note: if you are interested in having a knife for yourself or someone you love, my Dad does take custom orders. We are working on getting a Big Cartel site up and running for him, but in the meantime you can let me know and I will put you in touch with him.
When Will was 7 weeks old, Kirk and I went to visit my parents in Utah for Thanksgiving. We spent a day window shopping in Park City and I saw this beautiful locket in an antique store there. I loved it. He secretly bought it. I forgot about it. Then he surprised me with it on Christmas morning. It is truly one of my most special belonging and I wear it all the time. I should update the photos inside since they are about three years old.