Monday, 17 October 2016

P is for Places: An ABC of Travel

It's no secret that we are a family of travelers. There's nothing I love more than packing our bags, hopping on a plane and finding ourselves in a new location, with new and exciting things for the kids to discover. Sure, travelling with kids can be stressful at times, but what we gain from the experience makes it all worth it.

Travel really is such a great way to educate kids about the world. It gives them the chance to learn about different cultures, different environments, different foods... But that education doesn't have to begin and end with the travel itself. My kids love to learn about places that we'll be visiting before our trip even begins. We read books, watch documentaries, and search the internet to learn about where we'll be going. Not only do the kids learn something new, but so to do I.

Once we're back home from a trip, the learning doesn't stop. We still read about the places we've visited, we look through our photos, and we talk about what we've seen and experienced. I often make photo books of our vacations and it got me thinking about how else we can use our travel experiences for education. Then it occurred to me... An ABC book of all the places we've been! 

I've always loved the idea of making an ABC book featuring my own photos of items/people/places that the girls are familiar with. Considering that we love travel so much, an ABC book of places was the perfect fit. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Orange & Green Karate Belts

My two karate kids, Ava and Lola, had another belt test yesterday and I'm happy to say that they both passed. Hooray! Ava is now a green belt and Lola is an orange belt. These kids are accruing karate belts faster than I ever imagined.

The girls and their classmates did such a good job. Everyone passed the test and we now have three green belts and three orange belts in the class. The test was held in the park where we meet for classes. There were quite a few other people around but the kids were so good at staying focused and weren't bothered by all the people watching them or the kids and dogs playing nearby. As you can see, it was quite late in the day so the sun was starting to set as the test progressed. It made for the most beautiful light.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Hoes Down Harvest Festival 2016

Last weekend we left the city and headed to Fully Belly Farm in Yolo County for the annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. This was our third time attending the festival and it was just as much fun as it was in previous years. Even better - it wasn't scorching hot like it has been in the past! And it wasn't stormy overnight like last year, so camping out was a little more comfortable. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Stop Motion Animation Fun with Goldfish

Between swim team and karate classes, my girls are generally pretty busy after school. Weekends, however, are a different story. I like to keep weekends free from regular activities so we can be free to do whatever we want without having to work around a schedule. We tend to spend a lot of our weekend time just hanging around at home relaxing. It's nice to have a little down time after such a busy week, but at the same time it can get a little, well... boring! To keep the kids from heading straight to the tv I like to have a few activities up my sleeve to keep them busy. Simple things like painting, coloring, building with Lego, playing board games, or making puzzles generally go down pretty well, but sometimes they want to do something a little bit different.

A while back we visited the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco and the girls made their own animated movies. They had a blast making their little movies and have been asking if they can make their own at home. Stop motion animation is actually really easy to make at home with just a few items: a camera (or smart phone/tablet), a tripod, a background, and small items to be the star of the show. You can really use anything: toy animals, dolls, building blocks, toy cars... even food! We decided to go down the food route and made Lola's animation with one of her favorite snacks. Goldfish crackers!

Goldfish crackers are a big hit in our home when it comes to snack time so we've always got a pack or two in the pantry. They're oh so moreish and the whole family loves them. With their smiley little faces, Lola decided that Goldfish would make the perfect characters for her animation. Well, that, and it gave her a fantastic excuse to them afterwards!

Here's a look at how we made our animation...

Friday, 30 September 2016

Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle

Ok... so when I started writing this post it was Thursday, and National Coffee Day, the holiest of all the food holidays - expect for maybe National Donut Day which is filled of holes. Ha! See what I did there?

Anyway, National Coffee Day seemed like the perfect day to share our visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Or at least, it would have been had I finished writing this post on the actual day. Of course, now it's no longer Thursday, so National Coffee Day is sadly a thing of the past, but hey, I'm only a few hours late so let's just pretend!

Today it's National Coffee Day (shh... we're pretending, remember?) so what better day to share our visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle over Summer. I know, I know... a post about a Starbucks store doesn't sound all that interesting, but trust me; this isn't your regular Starbucks. This is swanky Starbucks. The fancy Starbucks. A Starbucks for true lovers of coffee. Scroll through the photos below and you'll see that not only does this Starbucks look nothing like a regular Starbucks, there's something different about the people too. Not a single person is sitting in front of a computer - well, apart from the guy controlling the coffee roasting machine, but we're not counting him. The customers are engaging in conversation. They're taking time to enjoy their coffee. They're watching the roasting and brewing processes. This is not a Starbucks to grab a paper cup of coffee in order to make use of the free wifi for hours - don't get me started on how much that very American practice still drives me crazy. This Starbucks is a destination. Oh, and look at the cups... they're ceramic. They're glass. They're not paper and they don't have names spelled strangely on the side in Sharpie. Of course, they do have paper cups for take out though, but they're fancier paper cups!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Monterey County for Families

Monterey and the Big Sur Coastline is one of my favorite places for a weekend getaway from the Bay Area. It's a relatively short drive down the coast, yet it feels a world away from home.

The world class Monterey Bay Aquarium is definitely the biggest draw card for our family of sea life loving kiddos, but the beaches and the stunning coastal views are enough to make Monterey County a great destination on their own.

Here's a look at some of our favorite destinations in Monterey County for families...

Monday, 19 September 2016

Roadworks Festival 2016

This weekend Mathilde and I spent an afternoon in the city at one of our favorite annual festivals.

Each year, San Francisco Center for the Book hosts the Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival. It's a fun day full of printing and book binding activities with a market place for local print makers to sell their artwork. The highlight of the festival is the steamroller printing. A vintage steamroller rolls over a carefully place linoleum block, paper and layer of blankets to produce amazing prints. It's such a fun and novel way to produce prints.

This year, there was not one steamroller at the festival like previous years, but two. Double the steamroller fun! One steamroller was used to produce the large 3' x 3' prints as per usual, and another was used to print smaller prints to order, four at a time. This meant that there was twice as much steamroller action, something that Mathilde was pretty excited about.

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