November 29, 2015

Into the Mist-ic.........

Nothing is more soul fulfilling for me than time spent in beautiful parks with my family. We bundled up for a gorgeous misty waterfront walk this morning and came home to thaw out over mugs of delicious hot chocolate. That's my idea of perfection. I don't think anything creates a sense of adventure more for kids than time spent exploring outside. I saw a quote this morning from George Elliott that I just love: "We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it..."

November 23, 2015

entertaining made easy.....

This weekend we threw a birthday party for my wonderful aunt, who has the biggest heart of anyone I know - she is an exceptional human and I just love being in her company. I honestly never laugh so hard as I do when our relatives are all together. I get so pumped every time I know we're all going to be together. I thought I'd share a few simple things that I did to set up the party:

 I bought a flat of mason jars, a box of floating candles, and put fresh eucalyptus in the bottom. (I've also seen this done with fresh pine branches or cranberries). I put a cluster on the table and put the rest throughout the house. Easy Peasy.
 I made a Happy Birthday banner across the mantle, simply by cutting out pieces of white paper, and fastening each letter on to string with a good ol' clothes peg.
I used mini glass bottles throughout the house with fresh sprigs of eucalyptus and freesia. 
 We set up a self serve bar so guests could top up their drink of choice. 
You can never have enough flowers and candles.
This is one of my go-to cake recipes if you want the: Best chocolate cake.

For the food:

This slate tray, paired with a chalk pen, made for a great cheese plate -  you could just jot the name beside each delicious hunk of burning love cheese.

Let the kids eat first. It frees up more seating for the "grown up" dinner after.

This time of year, gingerbread decorating kits are a great group project to keep little kids busy.

Don't be shy to divvy up the dinner to save money. We had various people make a salad, bring appies, and garlic bread. I asked my friend Tammy for her lasagna recipe and she kindly offered, that if I bought the ingredients, she'd make them. I think I agreed to her plan as the words were literally coming out of her mouth. She is truly amazing. It was a Massive lifesaver to let me focus on set up, dessert, and appies.

For background music, we just put on the Indie Apartment Party playlist on Songza, but there approximately one bazillion playlists for you to choose from if that isn't your jam.

And of course, if your family is as liberal as mine, a hilarious post dinner game is: Cards Against Humanity.


Peace, at last

Hello friends! Have you ever had an unwelcomed house guest? I'm not talking about an old college friend that asks to crash over, and fast forward two weeks, is still showing up to your table for breakfast. I'm talking about rodents. What does this sunset picture have to do with rodents, you ask? Nothing. But I can't look at a picture of a mouse without flinching. Not yet, anyways.
After we got back from our trip to Hawaii, we noticed mouse droppings on our mantle and in certain areas on the floor. We cleaned everything up and set up traps. At first we got humane traps, that are like cute little mouse homes, where they can go in, but can't get out. If you find any inside, you simply open up the little hatch and let them run free in the wild. Well, we didn't have any luck with these. We elevated our game to real traps, and were completely and utterly discouraged when we woke up one morning to find the food gone from the traps, the traps snapped, but nothing inside. One morning we actually found mouse poop on top of a trap. Oh the message was clear: F. U. Accompanied by "na na na na na, you'll never catch me!"
With copious amounts of exasperation, we called in the pest expert.
He said that based on what he saw in our home, there was likely only one mouse on the premises.
He showed us possible entry points to seal up, and laced our home with heavy duty traps.
I found the whole process quite stressful. I'd lay in bed and with every noise I'd flinch. Was that a trap? Is there something dead downstairs? Should I just toss the mouse the keys now and say, "enjoy the home, it's yours?"
One morning, before work, my husband was having his tea. He heard some scurrying noise in our liquor cabinet - god damn lush mouse.
He literally carried the cabinet outside, opened it up, and the mouse raced out across our yard.
My husband excitedly called me at work to pass on the good news. "He's gone. He's finally gone."
I felt like running around my office high fiving people. This was HUGE. It had been a trying few weeks up until that point, sealing off so many parts of our home, closing doors and taping the bottoms with duct tape, doing everything we could to keep him away.
I couldn't believe that we were finally at peace.
But then a few days later, I saw poop on the mantle again. But this time it was different looking poop. I had become a bit of an expert. It was a new guest.
I don't know if word had gotten out that our air bnb for rodents had an opening, but we had a new tenant.
I noticed scratch marks on the exterior of my laundry room cabinet - which is high above the counter top.  As soon as I saw it, I thought, good god, what can reach that height?!? When I opened it up, I saw a bag of cat foot in there  - an obvious attraction for whatever was trying to claw its way in.
I promptly tossed out the bag of food and we sealed up every point of into the laundry room.
Then, while I was getting ready for bed, my hubby said, "I need your help downstairs, we have a situation."
Oh dear god.
This is where I should tell you that my version of help, is pretty much standing with a broom in one hand, a bucket in another, and hopping quickly from one foot to the other repeatedly saying, "oh my god, oh my god."
My husband said, "there's something under our fridge."
We created a funnel from our fridge to our back door, by propping up a carpet sideways, in hopes that the mouse would just run through the passageway to our back door.
My husband shook a broom under the fridge and we were underway. The rodent ran, as perfectly planned, down the passageway, then leapt (along with my heart) - over the top and into the living room.
And I shit you not, my husband said, "He's up there!" and pointed to the top, the very top, of our book case. You could hear the song go, duh duh DUH!!!! I had no idea that they could leap so high. I did everything in my power not to soil myself.
We created another pathway to coax it outside. As planned, the critter ran at high speed, stood on the threshold of the doorway,but then got a feel of the cool crisp outdoor air and leapt over our kitchen counter and scurried behind our dishwasher.
The expletives that came out of our mouths were nothing short of stunning combinations.
We pulled back the dishwasher and nothing. It was houdini's rat cousin. We boarded up (and by we, I mean Craig), every inch of wall space behind the dishwasher. The pest expert returned and told us that we had sealed the house so well, that we had virtually trapped the juvenille rat in our living space.
He set up more traps in our furnace room and when we got home from work - Whammo!!!! Kapowee!!! (split screen of me cracking open champagne.)
I hate killing any creature, but we had literally given him numerous humane chances to escape.
We feel like our home is finally ours again, we haven't had any signs of their return since. We haven't gotten lazy - we still make sure we empty the dog's food dish every night, make sure her bag of food is secured in tupperware and have sealed up every soffit vent along the roofline (a key entry point for rodents) with mesh. We still set traps in the furnace room, still search daily to see if there are any more signs of rodent droppings(hey, everyone needs a hobby), and sometimes when the house creaks, I still sit up in a cold sweat wondering if they are back...but so far so good. Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a god damned mouse.