Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmakkah. My attempts at a hannakah elf were unsuccessful. Seems fitting for the final holiday 'costume' of the year (and ever).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday card demystified

Well here it is, our holiday card. Merry Christmakkah. I'm sure you have all received them in the mail by now, dear readers. A few people have asked me how I did it, so it seemed like a good blog post. I feel a bit like the wizard of oz behind the curtain here, but let's give it a whirl. First I should say that this is my first attempt at illustration and I am pretty happy with how it turned out. Originally we were going to have our friend Carla do it because she has done a bunch of cool ones. The more Steve and I talked about it, we thought it would be fun to do it ourselves. I had seen some cool cards online so I kind of took the style from there.

Step 1 was to take a picture. We took a bunch with a tripod and a wireless shutter release in our basement.

I printed out the picture and then traced it with a pencil on a light table. Then I scanned it in and then 'drew' it again in Photoshop using the pencil drawing as a guide.

Here's a screen capture in Photoshop. I won't go into any specifics about what I did in photoshop since probably no one cares and it would take too long to explain.

Here's a rough draft. Seemed like it needed more and Harriet's leggings were distracting, Steve needs some eyebrows and my necklace looks like something Betty Rubble would wear.

So I found some side views of our breeds of chickens on google and 'drew' those also. I doubled up on the chickens eating and only made one and then reversed it and changed the color and the comb a bit. Persephone and the barred rock took me longer than doing the three of us.

Here are my two attempts at the barred rock. I liked the one on the right a lot better.

Well there you have it. It probably took me about 10-15 hours, despite knowing photoshop pretty well. Illustrating was a bit of a learning curve, but I could probably do it twice as fast next time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Last weekend my work sponsored the Holidazzle parade, so my coworkers and I took to the streets in illuminated costumes. I always kind of boo-hoo the holidazzle parade because it is the same thing every year for the last 20 years, but you know what? It was pretty fun. I have been in it many times in years past, but never as a character on a float. Let me tell you, it was pretty great! I was Princess Jasmine on the Aladdin float. No heavy battery pack to lug around your waist as you walk, just stand on that float, wave and smile while people wave frantically at you and call out your character's name and you make their night. A real ego boost.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December Link of the Month

We're in the hunt for an antique armoire. We reached out to some friends regarding antiques to help us find a price point we were comfortable with. This website was helful for finding out how to use the Internet to research the value of your antiques and collectibles.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Best of the worst pictures, not sure how many more of these we can do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Here are a few things that I have made lately. This summer was a bit unproductive craft-wise, but colder days and more indoor time is upon us. The necklace on right was inspired by african necklaces, with their many stands and bright colors. As for the one on the left, I got the pendant at the Detriot Lakes flea market (my only purchase this year) and had to work hard for it. I picked through many small bags of jewelry to find this. I like how giant it is and also the bold yellow and black. The lady claimed it was sterling silver and I had a good laugh at that.

I have knit countless hats for countless babies, but none for Harriet. So here it is, her first homemade hat from me. The first of many, I'm sure. It's an eggplant, although at this angle it looks a bit like a grape.

Here are some new pillows for the family room (although I didn't make the striped one, it's from Ikea). We have had the same two ugly pillows on this couch for years and it was time to recover them and add some new ones. All have zippers for easy cleaning. It's a very informal room so I didn't really worry about matching them too closely. They have mostly been used for making forts lately.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ink Link

After taking a letterpress class at the MN center for a book arts a few years ago, I have loved letterpress. On Friday, my coworker friends Leah and Allie and I went to this letterpress event at the U of M. It was sponsored by the Hamilton woodtype museum in hopes to pique everyone's interest enough for them to make the 6 hour drive to check it out. The museum is a building that is 2 city blocks long. My interest is piqued, looked awesome. The event was also put on by the graphic design program to show students, graduates and friends the newly acquired presses and also just to mingle, I guess.

They had everything all set up for everyone to reduce chaos since there were probably 100 people there in two small rooms.

Here is the press all set up, inked and ready to go for the boxing image, which is below on the left. Then the guy put the paper down and I cranked the press. Not a lot of skill or creativity needed on my part, but still fun. Other presses you could do all different color inks yourself.

A few of the things I made above and below. Some are letterpress and some are screenprinting.

Juxtaposed presses.

Some rejects that were provided by the wood type museum. I took a few and will find something to do with them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Garden wrap up

Picture above is from our neighbor to the north's side of the fence. She has this beautiful trees with interesting circular leaves. They looked better than ever this year, perhaps due to the removal of the giant hackberry tree last fall.

Well a fairly good growing year again this year. We still have a bunch of tomatoes that are ripening, although most end up all pruney and unappealing looking so we have been feeding them to the chickens. Our gazillion tomato plants really came through, despite other gardeners having a bad year. We planted way too many grape and cherry tomato plants, but it worked out ok. Lots of salads.

We had good luck with the carrots. I forgot to take pictures, but they were all different colors and pretty. I chopped them up and put them in the oven with a little dried thyme and olive oil and they were quite good. Harriet loved them.

The basil plants worked out well as they have in the past. This year though Steve read the recipe and it said that I needed to freeze the basil and olive oil and then when we are ready to eat the pesto that's when I mixed up the nuts and cheese. I always wondered why it had a strange consistency. That'll teach me to read the directions... well actually probably not.

Despite the rabbits nibbling off branches from the honey crisp tree over the winter because of the high snow, there were tons of apples from the tree's second year. I love that tree.

Peas-- total fail. Numerous variables, so no idea what went wrong. Won't do those again.

We got a lot of hops, although I think I picked them too late. I gave them to one of my coworkers so I guess we will wait to hear if anything happened with them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Halloween update 14 days late

I know, I know, no one cares about halloween anymore in mid November, but I'll post these anyways. Above Lauren, Lachlan and Harriet at the Wattson's annual pumpkin party.

Hide and go seek with the giant pumpkin at the zoo.

Mr and Mrs Skeletor.

Just when we thought we would have to carry on our pumpkin carving tradition without Jonny who was away at college... he returns to keep up the (10 year?) streak. It was great to have him home.

A happy chicken at the zoo.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trivial pursuit card, Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly, Operation, Checkers

Board games costumes

The group dwindled a bit this year, but we are back at it after a year off. We went to a couple of parties and had a great time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This week marks three years in our house. Each year we always intend to make a fall display on the front steps, but the fall just slips away from us. Well, here it is... finally. Might take another three years to do it again.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The new Mr and Mrs Laughlin
Jon and Lauren had a great ceremony and reception at a Chicago production studio. They adapted the blank white studio space to reflect their fun style just like their wedding materials. The previous weekend we had a chance to get breakfast and spend some time with them while they still had wedding plans to iron out. It was wonderful to see them so happy and relaxed at their wedding a week later.

Did I say relaxed? Ha. It was a fun wedding reception complete with stations of different food that allowed for lots of mingling with the guests. Jon made sure some solid beers choices were available, and the night ended with sliders and mini Chicago hot dogs. I knew several folks from high school and a good group of Jon's Chicago mates as I attended his bachelor party back in August.

My friend Chris's daughter Sophia and Harriet had a chance to meet earlier in the day before our final wedding. They were nice enough to stand still for a moment for this snapshot. During the wedding, our friend Emily stayed with Harriet at our hotel. We really appreciated it.

This is a photo I took on the way from Minneapolis to Chicago. If Harriet had known we weren't going to be returning home for a week, she probably wouldn't be smiling. We're very appreciative to all the friends and family that helped us make the trip possible. Christina and I are happy we could take part in two great wedding celebrations. We're all overjoyed to be home!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Chicago Part 2

On our way back to Chicago we decided to stop at the Chicago Botanical Gardens north of the city. We both haven't been back since we got engaged here almost 4 years ago. A trip down memory lane for us. It was a bit of a chilly day, but Harriet slept most of the time in the carrier so we had no complaints. The fall colors were just starting and there were a bunch of events going on like a bulb sale and a harvest festival.

You know it's fall when you see gourds.

What a pretty backdrop. This had potential to be a cute picture, guess not though.

An interesting way to train an apple tree. Very European.

From there we headed to our hotel in downtown. Overall we didn't much time to do too much, but I was able to go out and walk around Michigan Avenue during nap time time on Saturday and then we went over to Millennium Park, which was just a few blocks away.

This is kind of a where is Waldo. Do you see us?

The obligatory picture in front of the kidney bean sculpture.

One final post to come from the trip about the third, and final, wedding in three week marathon. To summarize the trip, it was a hard one for us with some highlights sprinkled in. We felt honored to be invited to our friends' intimate weddings and enjoyed celebrating with them. We saw some interesting things, visited friends and family and tried to maximize our time as best we could given weather, naps, attention spans and bedtime. Going in we knew it wouldn't be easy, but I don't think we could have quite anticipated the enormous toll the trip would take on Harriet and in turn, us. We are happy to be home in our own beds and back to our regular routine.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Marshy Mayville

To kill some time in between the weddings, for the next few days we headed to Mayville, WI, a sleepy town somewhere in the lower portion of the state. We stayed in a lovely, historic inn in 'downtown'. The main attraction in the area is the Horicon marsh nearby, which is one of the largest freshwater marshes in the US. An Everglades of the north, if you will. We took a guided boat tour to see the wildlife and vegetation. Unfortunately for us, 85% of the birds had already migrated, but oh well, can't win 'em all. It was still scenic and we learned quite a bit about the area, preservation, etc.

I include this photo to illustrate Harriet's mood during our stay in Mayville, and well, basically the entire rest of the trip. I'm not going to sugar coat it, she was miserable. Ten days away was too much for this homesick kid. That or she missed Jacque. Hard to know.

Trails around the marsh while we visited the education center.

Day two we headed over to a nearby town, Theresa (the H is counter intuitively pronounced, so it's like THER-esa) to a cheese making factory. I know it seems cliche to visit a cheese factory in WI, but entertainment options were, uh, limited. This is a third generation business and they make the cheese twice daily in the morning.

We also went to a local apple orchard as a diversion, but because there had been so much rain, the majority of it was closed. Above, a rare moment when she wasn't crying, but note that she isn't smiling either.

After our stay in Mayville, we headed to Steve's hometown to visit with family for a few days, but didn't take many pictures. Below is a photo of Harriet and Grandma Laeh enjoying a meal together.

On Friday we headed back to Chicago for wedding #2.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Chicago Part 1

We began on excursion by staying with our friends Pat and Jacque in their Wicker Park condo. We spent the weekend walking around the neighborhood, going to a local park and hanging out inside due to rain. Jacque graciously offered to babysit twice, once so we could go tour pat's office and again while we went to the wedding. The two of them seemed to get along famously. Pat and Jacque have two bulldogs, Bloke and Raleigh, who were really gentle giants, despite their tough looking exterior. Harriet was a bit scared of them at first, but quickly warmed up to them and the three crawled all around together. We didn't take too many pictures this weekend, but here are a few from Pat's work. They just moved into a new office overlooking Lake Michigan and it was pretty cool.

The floors were painted in a tattoo-esque style.

Romper room for brainstorming.