Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Afternoon of Apples



IMG_7467 IMG_7459 IMG_7460   IMG_7463 IMG_7464 IMG_7465 IMG_7466


And thus ended 40 pounds of organic apples from Eastern Washington. I loaded the apple peeler thingy. Ming Wai operated the crank. Siu Jeun dumped the apples into the biggest post I own…and taste tested every other apple for freshness. Because he’s just a giver like that.  IMG_7483

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Outdoor Sort of a Birthday

When my daughter, Ming Wai, turned four a few weeks ago, I was sort of torn. On the one hand, I am simply not the type of person to spend triple digits on a color-coordinated, catered, entertainment filled birthday bash for a kid who can’t read, and whose favorite game is Kick the Box Until it Falls Apart. On the other hand, it seemed a shame to give up a perfectly good excuse to eat cupcakes with our friends.


So, I compromised.


We met up with a few friends, and a few cousins, at a local park just behind our house. I loaded a birthday banner, some cupcakes, and some snacks into the stroller, and away we went!


It turned out to be quite a chilly, foggy morning, but we all had a really great time I think. And I was right about Ming Wai – she’s thrilled if there’s cupcakes, and over the MOON if someone will sing to her before she eats it.


I didn’t want to tell people NOT to bring gifts, since I knew she was looking forward to them, but I was really REALLY hoping this wasn’t going to turn into a big Plastic Love Fest. (You know what I’m talking about, right? One girl has a birthday party, and all the other girls bring her inexpensive plastic toys, which are broken or lost within a week. Unfortunately, this means that you must reciprocate when the other girls have their birthday parties. Or that seems to be the trend anyhow.) That was what I was worried about. And it wasn’t what happened! Ming Wai’s friends have brilliant mommies, and they all brought thoughtful, useful handmade gifts.



It was an absolutely lovely little playdate in the park!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the Eyes of a LoLo


The other day, I was playing around with the camera, and decided to take pictures of eyeballs. (Yes, really.) I hear, quite often, that Ming Wai and I have the same color eyes. I think they’re just a tad different. (Her eye color, however, is identical to my mother’s.)


What do you think?


(Ming Wai)


(Aunt LoLo) (*sob* When did I lose my smooth skin?!)


(Siu Jeun. He’s got Dad’s eyes. ;-))

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Garage Sale Chair

Don’t you just love it when things just sort of work out? A few weeks ago, our neighborhood held its annual Everybody Have a Garage Sale day. It wasn’t as busy as some other neighborhood-wide Garage Sale Days I’ve been to, but we found some rather lovely things to take home! My favorites, though, were from a house just up the street. I think the woman had been culling through every thrift store in a 50 mile radius to gather everything up for her sale. Which doesn’t make sense, but there you go. Maybe she really likes to sell stuff! (Case in point: I found a Club aluminum covered roaster pan, in a beautiful robins egg blue. It’s vintage, and gorgeous, and had a Goodwill sticker on it: $9.99. She sold it to me for $5, no bartering needed.)


My other find there? This.


We found the perfect chair for our front room. It’s got very traditional lines, and a grey Asian print. Love it! It’s exactly what we were looking for. The front of the house is…difficult. I have huge, chunky “rustic” dining furniture, along with all of our art we brought back from China. So, if China had a Western style lodge…in the suburban Pacific Northwest, I suppose this is what it would look like! (Eh?!)IMG_7356 


Other chairs we’d looked at, new, were between $200 and $2,000. (I didn’t say we looked seriously at all those chairs. Just that they crossed our path!)


This beauty only set us back $20. Perfect!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Put that Pet to Work!

What do the goldfishes dream ?

(Photo from Flickr, here.)


I had dinner with a group of old high school buddies last weekend. We had an absolutely fabulous time, and sat around the dining table for four hours eating jambalaya, chocolate pots and guzzling virgin Mint Juleps.


Our hostess was quite the domestic goddess, and has filled her apartment with beautiful things, and her balconies with beautiful plants. On her counter, I spied one lovely little goldfish, in a small simple bowl. When I asked about him, she replied that his name was Umm, and he was named by her two year old niece. He was also a rather productive member of the household. How? His tank water!


Apparently, the day he was bought went something like this:

Kate: Can I have a goldfish?

Clerk: Umm…yes? How many do you want?

Kate: How many can I have?

Clerk: *confused* How big is your tank?

Kate: *holding hands about nine inches apart*

Clerk: Ma’am, you can have one.

Kate: Oh, ok. Uhh…if I want to take water out of his tank, and replace it, how much water can I take at once?

Clerk: *more confused*

Kate: Like, can I take out half of his water and replace it? Two thirds?

Clerk: *blank stare*

Kate: See, I want it for my plants…



Eventually, she figured out that she could leave the fish in a small bowl of water while she removed the rest of the water, and then refill the tank with that bowl of water, plus fresh rested water from the tap. (She leaves the new water in a pitcher for a few days, to let the chemicals come out, before she puts it into the fish tank.)


The old fish water is then put into her watering can and used to water her gorgeous houseplants that week. Apparently, plants love nitrogen-rich fish water, and goldfish are particularly prolific in the poop department…resulting in particularly fantastic and nitrogen-rich water. Who knew?!


Now? You do. And I bet you can guess who’s going to go buy a goldfish soon…


(And hey! Christmas is coming! Go get your kids a pet that is USEFUL!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How NOT to Help a Potted Lemon Tree

A few months ago, my husband and I were doing some Yard Plant shopping together. As I strolled through aisles and aisles of perennials and annuals, my husband called across the square, “Honey! You have to come smell this!” It was a Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree, and it smelled amazing. Best part?  It was half off. So, for a meager $30 we brought the thing home.


It had a rough start at our house. First off, the stress of the move caused the tree to throw most of its fruit. Two months later, we went on vacation and left the tree to fend for itself. During the hottest week of the summer. Oops. When we got back, I gave it a good long drink. The tree threw all of its fruit, and half of its leaves for good measure.


Determined to do better, I studied the plant. The roots were beginning to show through the soil on the top. Surely, this was a sign of bad parenting, right? I dug around in the garage and came up with a bag of MiracleGrow moisture managing soil, a third full. My mother swears by this stuff, and dumps bags of it into her large garden every year, with spectacular results. I scooped out handfuls of the rich, black soil and lovingly patted it into the pot, covering up the (obviously inferior) soil the nursery had given this poor tree. It looked like a mixture of sand and sawdust, and held water like a sieve. No wonder my tree couldn’t keep its fruit! It was dying of thirst!


You know where this is going, right?


A few weeks later, as our pathetic Seattle Summer began to come to a close, I took pity in our citrus-y friend, and brought it indoors. My bathroom has a large (opaque) West-facing window next to the tub…and the tub is rarely used. I thought it would be a perfect home-away-from-home for the tree, to weather out the cold, dreary winter.


Then I noticed the bugs.


Shortly after that, it was the mold.



I think it was a mixture of fruit flies and fungus gnats. Or maybe the fruit flies were just interlopers, lured away from the kitchen (and its own infestation) by the Gnat Shindig going on in our bathroom? I did research. And then some more. And then I pondered. And then I realized what had happened.


First off, Meyer Lemon trees need sandy, well-drained soil. So that awful sandy soil the tree came with? Was perfect. Fungus gnats, on the other hand, need moist soil. Which, obviously, the MiracleGrow was. Oh, and fungus, of which we apparently had an abundance. Someone, on a forum somewhere, suggested that sprinkling cinnamon on the soil would kill the fungus, and thus starve out the fungus gnats.


Perhaps I’m not patient enough, but all I ended up with was a cinnamon scented bathroom that seemed to say Hi! I’m your consolation prize! Enjoy your gnats! It did smell lovely, though.


After much more pondering, I decided surgery was in order. I lugged the tree back down the stairs and out the back door. I pulled out my gardening gloves, and got to work scooping out all of the MiracleGrow soil, right back down to the sandy soil. Roots showing and all. (Oh, and as it turns out, the soil on a Meyer Lemon tree should just BARELY cover the roots. Otherwise your trunk will rot. Bet you didn’t know THAT, did you??!) That dirt was then put into the compost “Death Star” to aid in the decomposition endeavors, and the tree was put into the garage next to a South-facing window. In isolation, if you will. 


It has been a week now, and there is not a gnat, fruit fly or any other winged beasty in sight.


Hindsight is 20/20, right?? *sigh*

Friday, October 8, 2010

Single Dad Laughing: Memoirs of a Bullied Kid

Single Dad Laughing: Memoirs of a Bullied Kid

Everybody. Go read this. Now. I'll wait. (It's long, and seems rambling, but it's SO important.)


I don't have a lot to add. Anybody who's ever been bullied, ever given birth to a child in the past 18 years, or ever worked with children needs to read this. It's important.

I have two children, who I adore. Neither one is old enough to join the education system yet. I do work with school aged children, though, as a piano teacher. You can bet that I will be taking the time to really talk to the kids. To tell them how great they're doing. To let them know how much I enjoy teaching them.

We have to do our part. And we have to do it today.