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Sunday, 5 July 2020

Our Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Last weekend we packed our bags, loaded up our car, and did something we haven't done in an awfully long time. We went on vacation!

Like most of you we've been at home since early March, pretty much only venturing out to the supermarket or for walks around the neighborhood (and more recently a few mask clad trips to Denver Zoo and a Denver Selfie Museum which reopened with strict social distancing rules). 

We've missed a few planned trips in those months including Spring Break in Chicago, Ava's school trip to Washington DC (I'm most bummed about that one), and smaller weekend getaways that we'd planned here in Colorado before the weather warmed up too much. I had pretty much written off Summer when it came to travel, but then I saw that local friends had visited Yellowstone National Park a few weeks back and it was pretty much empty. I knew that the opportunity to visit one of our bucket list destinations without the crowds was probably not going to come up again any time soon, so right away I got online and booked a hotel. I can't tell you how excited I was making that booking after so long!

Now that we're in Colorado, Wyoming is just over an hour away from our home but we had been yet to head north across the border. Yellowstone National Park is located at the very top of the state, but at around an eight hour drive, it's an easy destination for a road trip from Boulder (or Denver). It's also an easy drive from cities in neighboring states including Idaho, Utah, Washington, Montana and Nebraska. When looking at the map I realized that my friend Lindsey, who lives in Spokane, Washington, was a similar distance away making Yellowstone the perfect meeting point for a catch up. A little last minute planning, and both our families were booked in for a trip to Wyoming!
Last Saturday we hit the road and headed to the idyllic mountain town of Jackson, where we based ourselves for our visit to Yellowstone National Park. Jackson is located about an hour away from the south entry of Yellowstone. It's a handy spot to use as a base, especially now while the hotels inside the national park are closed due to COVID. 


Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Our Visit to Denver Selfie Museum

Things are slowly opening up again here in Colorado which means that we've been able to get out and about a little - with masks and social distancing, of course.

Most attractions that have opened up again are mostly outside locations (National Parks, Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens...) but a few indoor locations have opened up with strict social distancing rules in place.

One such place that has opened and we visited recently was the Denver Selfie Museum.

Ok, I know... a selfie museum? It sounds a little, well, self indulgent and egotistical, but hear me out. Yes, the Denver Selfie Museum is a great place to take fun selfies (or pics of your kids in my case), but it's also a fun place to see some really cool immersive art. 

If you've been following Little Hiccups for a while you'll know that I'm a big fan of immersive art experiences, and the Denver Selfie Museum fits this description perfectly. It's smaller than Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, Camp Christmas, LMNL and other similar museums we've visited in the past, but that was part of the charm to me. We were able to see all of the displays in just over an hour making it a short, but sweet outing.

Now, you're probably wondering just how we managed to visit a museum while social distancing. Like most immersive art experiences, entry is only by timed ticket. With social distancing measures in place, only a small number of guests were allowed in at a time. It just so happened that visiting on a week day, we had the entire place to ourselves for much of our visit. When other guests did arrive we made sure to keep our distance and wore our masks when required. As an extra precaution, some of the hands on experiences were off limits. For example, the ball pit (which the kids were looking forward to) was understandably closed, and there were a few props that we were asked not to touch.

Ok, enough talking, let's look at some pictures...


Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Found! The Perfect Shoes for Backyard Adventures

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Critts

We're lucky to have quite a large backyard at our house here in Colorado, especially while we're all at home all day at the moment. The space we have means we've been able to put in lots of fun things for the kids including swings, a climbing structure and a trampoline. We've also been able to plant a veggie garden at home for the first time in almost a decade. 

Lola on swing
Lola in veggie garden
 
But, while our yard has plenty of room for all these things, there's one thing that's not so fun about it: the hard and lumpy ground! Our grass might look lush and green, but the clay soil underneath it is so hard and lumpy that it rather hurts to walk on without shoes. The landscaped areas of our yard aren't much better with either river rocks (which aren't all smooth), sharp and scratchy bark, or thick ground covering conifer plants. Heading out into the backyard to play or do a little gardening always means grabbing a pair of shoes first.

Now, putting on a pair of shoes to walk out to the trampoline or swings wouldn't be too much of a problem if my kids wore flip flops or some other sort of easy to slide on shoes that we could keep by the back door. Nope, not my kids! Neither Lola or Mathilde will wear flip flops, even for just walking out to the trampoline. They want to wear something covered which means they always end up wearing their regular shoes - and that means putting socks on first too because they refuse to wear shoes without socks. 

When it comes to slip on options for my kids, I hadn't had much luck finding anything that worked for them. Crocs seem like a good idea, but they're incredibly wide and never stay on. I usually wear clogs when I go out into the backyard, but the hard soles aren't so comfy for little feet. Plus my kids usually struggle to keep their feet in clog-like shoes unless there's a back - and then they want socks. 

I finally found a solution when I came across Critts.  

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Visiting Boulder's Iris Farm

The first official week of Summer Break and we had our first official outing of the season - and our first time out exploring in god only knows how long!

Now that the weather has warmed up, things are looking very much like Spring (or Summer) here in the Boulder Valley. Trees that were bare just a month ago are green, lawns and grass areas are lush, and every second garden in our neighborhood is filled with colorful flowers. The two most common flowers here seem to be irises in a range of colors, and vivid orange poppies. And when I say these flowers are common, I mean they are everywhere.

I've never lived in a place where everyone seems to plant the same flowers in their garden so it got me wondering about just why these two flowers are everywhere. Sure, they're pretty, but there are lots of other pretty flowers out there too. They obviously grow well here, but that still wasn't really the answer I was looking for. After digging a little deeper I learned about Boulder's history with irises and a small flower farm right in the city.

Long's Gardens is a small flower farm located on Broadway in a neighborhood full of houses, recreation centers and parks. Not really where you'd expect to find a farm, but it has been there ever since 1905. For much of that time Long's Gardens has been growing a variety of irises, providing beautiful blooming plants to the Boulder Valley.


Long's Gardens is a private property, but they open their farm up to the public during the flowering season, from April to June. Most years, they offer "u-dig" sales during this time, with customers able to choose their own iris plants from the field, dig them up to purchase, and grow them at home. Kind of like the flower equivalent of apple picking! This year, due to COVID, Long's Gardens is not offering their "u-dig" or direct sales from their office. Their iris fields are still open to the public for viewing only, and that's what we did yesterday.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Four Days in Austin, Texas

Vacations...

Don't they feel like such a long time away now that we've been sheltering at home for almost two months? Instead of pining for the missed vacations that we were supposed to take during this time (a family trip to Chicago, weekend trips around Colorado, and a school trip to Washington DC for Ava) I've decided to take a look back at some of our past vacations and share them here on the blog. As inspiration for when we can start travelling again - and also because I've been meaning to share them for such a long time!

Today I'm starting with a trip that was exactly one year ago. This time last year we were on vacation in Austin, Texas. It was our first visit to Texas and we had a blast. Austin is a great city to visit with or without kids. There are sprawling parks, stunning architecture, plenty of interesting wildlife, lots of great shops and restaurants, interesting historical sites, natural wonders, and my favorite, lots of street art. You know I'm a sucker for a good mural! Sure, it was hot, humid and there were bugs and pollen everywhere, but Austin's charm and quirkiness made up for that. Well, for four days. I'm not sure I could handle the weather much longer than that!

I'll be sharing some more detailed posts about the places we visited, but for now, here's a look at our four days in Austin...


Last April I attended the Mom 2.0 conference in Austin. Seeing as it was a city (and state) we were yet to visit we decided to tack a family vacation onto the end of the conference. Kim and the girls flew to join me on the Friday evening and we made an extra long weekend out of it, flying home the following Tuesday evening.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Pikachu Marshmallows

At Mathilde's little Pokémon birthday party last weekend we made Pikachu marshmallows. They're super easy to make, taste yummy, and the kids really enjoyed making them. 

I had originally planned to make the Pikachu marshmallows in advance to serve up as a party food (as I had done for Ava's Pokémon themed 10th birthday party years ago) but then I figured that seeing as we were at home with access to a kitchen, it would be fun to make them as a party activity. And I was right! It was fun!


These little Pikachus are super simple to make and only need a few ingredients.

Here's how we made them...

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Mathilde's 6th Birthday

Last Friday Mathilde turned six. 

Given that we're all sheltering at home, a party with her classmates and friends was unfortunately out of the picture. But that didn't mean that there was no party at all. Originally I didn't think we'd do anything right now and save the party for over Summer when (fingers crossed) we can start seeing friends again. But a few days before her birthday Mathilde started talking about all the fun things she was looking forward to doing at her party. It occurred to me that there was no reason to cancel or postpone her party at all. Instead of celebrating with friends, we celebrated with just the five of us. 

Because we were busy with school at home on Friday we celebrated Mathilde's birthday with a small party on Saturday. It worked out quite well as Friday was rainy on and off, but Saturday had glorious weather.


Sunday, 26 April 2020

National Parks Week

This past week has been National Parks Week here in the US.

While we haven't been able to get out and about to explore any of our favorite parks, they have been on my mind. So today I thought I'd share the National Parks that we have visited so far. Some of these have been sprawling parks filled with majestic landscapes while others have been historic parks showcasing important moments from America's past.


Here's a look at the National Parks we have visited by state...

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Environmentally Friendly Products for Earth Day - and Every Day!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you shop through these links, however it will not cost you any extra. Thanks for your support!

Today is Earth Day!

Mathilde has been learning about helping the environment in her school work today and that's got me thinking about the things we do around our home (and out and about) to help mother nature. Recycling, shopping with reusable bags, using refillable water bottles, cleaning with environmentally friendly products, walking or biking instead of driving, getting our milk delivered in reusable glass bottles direct from the dairy... There are so many easy actions that we can take to do our part to protect the earth.

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite products that we use (or have used in the past) to do our part in helping the environment. As always, click the product name to shop!

Here's a look...

Around the home

There are so many small changes you can make at home to be more environmentally friendly. Planting a water wise garden, turning lights off when you leave a room, hang washing out to dry, turning the water off while you brush teeth, installing water saving shower roses and toilets, recycling and composting, switching over to energy efficient light bulbs, washing laundry with cold water...

Below are some products that we use around the home to lower our carbon footprint. I hang most of our washing out to dry rather than putting it in the dryer, and this handy clothes line holds a surprising large amount of washing. It also folds up quite compact for storage. When it comes to cleaning I like to use products that are available in refill packs to cut down on waste. Reusable paper towels and dishcloths are handy too. Reusable silicone bags are a great alternative to single use plastics when it comes to storing food. When it's not possible to bring a reusable lunch bag home I like to use compostable paper bags to cut down on waste. Speaking of waste, we've cut down on soda bottles by using a soda stream machine at home. It also encourages us to drink more water.


🌳 Leifheit Pegasus Clothes Drying Rack
🌳 If You Care Compostable Food Waste Bags
🌳 Stasher Half Gallon Size Reusable Silicone Bag
🌳 Method Dish Soap Refill
🌳 General Electric LED Light Bulb
🌳 Seedling by Grove Reusable paper Towel
🌳 Lunchskins Compostable/Recyclable Paper Sandwich Bags
🌳 If You Care Reusable Paper Towels
🌳 Seventh Generation All Purpose Cleaning Spray
🌳 Soda Stream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker

Out and About

Doing your part for the environment can be just as easy when you're out and about as when you're at home. Pack a refillable water bottle so you won't need to purchase bottled water. Ditch the wasteful ziplock bags and pack snacks in washable silicone or fabric snack bags. These are great for dog treats when you're out walking your pup too. Speaking of walking dogs, don't forget the compostable pet waste bags! Much better for the environment than regular plastic bags. The dog snacks I've shared here are environmentally friendly too as they're made from food that would otherwise go to waste. The best way to do your part for Mother Earth when out and about is to ditch the car! If you're going too far to walk think about riding a scooter (it cuts our walk to school in half!) or riding a bike. A cargo bike is a great idea for lugging kids, shopping and other cargo. I had the older version of the bike pictured below and it was a great way to get around town with the kids.


🌳 Baggu Reusable Shopping Bag
🌳 Hydroflask 32oz Wide Mouth Water Bottle
🌳 Hydroflask 12oz Kids' Wide Mouth Water Bottle
🌳 Micro Kickboard Scooter
🌳 Lunchskins Zipper Set
🌳 Shameless Pets Dog Treats
🌳 Stasher Snack Size Reusable Silicone Bag
🌳 Yuba Mundo Lux Cargo Bike
🌳 Earth Rated Compostable Pet Waste Bag

Personal Care Items

Caring for the environment and caring for our bodies can go hand in hand. There are lots of great health and beauty products that are environmentally friendly, from products that cut down on wasteful packaging, products made from organic and sustainable ingredients, and products that replace single use alternatives. When it comes to washing hair, shampoo and conditioner bars are a great choice as they avoid wasteful packaging. You can store them in a soap holder and they're handy for travel too as they take up little space. Washing hair less regularly cuts down on water use, which is a plus for the environment, but it can lead to oily hair. Dry shampoo is a great option here but make sure to avoid an aerosol product. Removing makeup can be quite wasteful if you're using make up remover wipes or even cotton balls. I like to use the Make Up Eraser wash cloth to cut down on waste. I have no idea how it works, but it successfully removes even water proof mascara with just water! Periods can be pretty tough on the environment (and your wallet) when it comes to buying pads and tampons regularly. Period pants and menstrual cups are reusable options that create far less waste, save money in the long run, and can be a healthier choice with less risk of toxic shock syndrome than tampons. If you've got a baby in your family, or one on the way, consider switching to cloths diapers. They're a much better choice for the environment and they're substantially cheaper in the long term than buying disposable diapers. I used BumGenius diapers for both Lola and Mathilde, and they even went on to be used by a friend's baby after Mathilde no longer needed them. If you're not up for the extra washing, there are cloth diaper services available in most cities. They do all the dirty work for you and deliver clean diapers. To be honest though, I really didn't find cloth diapers to be much more work than disposables. Speaking of diapers, ditch the wasteful single use wipes and get yourself some snuggly soft bamboo or cotton wipes. I used the same ones for both Lola and Mathilde, and years later they still get used as face washers. You can simply use them with warm water to clean little bottoms or with a gentle cleansing spray. I used Tubby Todd Baby Fresh Spray for Mathilde. If you're nursing, consider using washable nursing pads instead of disposable. I found Bamboobies to be both comfortable and absorbent.


🌳 Acure Dry Shampoo
🌳 Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads
🌳 Thinx Period Underwear
🌳 Make Up Eraser
🌳 Sustain Menstrual Cup
🌳 Soapbox Shampoo Bar
🌳 Thinx (BTWN) Period Underwear for Teens & Tweens
🌳 Lush Solid Shampoos
🌳 Lush Solid Conditioner
🌳 Lush Bubble Bath Bar
🌳 Charlie Banana Reusable Organic Cotton Wipes
🌳 Tubby Todd Baby Fresh Spray
🌳 BumGenius Cloth Diaper

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Easter 2020

Did you celebrate Easter this past weekend? Was it very different from your usual Easter celebrations?

Our Easter certainly was very different for us, and not because of the Coronavirus. As I shared in my previous post, we always celebrate Easter at home by ourselves, so there was no difference in that respect. What was different, however, was that we had a white Easter! Yep - it snowed here in Colorado! It was quite a lot of snow too and it continued all through Sunday and most of Monday.

The snow didn't stop us from celebrating though. In fact, an Easter egg hunt in the snow was much more entertaining than our usual Easter egg hunts. The kids loved it and I have to say that I did too.


Here's a look at our Easter Sunday...

Thursday, 9 April 2020

How we Celebrate Easter at Home

Easter is coming up this Sunday. Are you ready for it?

I've been seeing a lot of discussion on social media about how to celebrate this holiday while sheltering in place. Parents wondering if the Easter Bunny should still visit. How can they make the holiday special for their kids while staying home. Maybe, Easter should just be cancelled altogether.

I have to admit that these discussions have left me a little confused. Sure, we can't meet up with other people, but apart from that how is Easter any different this year? As expats with no extended family in the same country (or hemisphere) our Easters are always celebrated at home with just our immediate family. To me, this is our normal, so Easter this year will be no different than any other year. In fact, this is also how I remember my family celebrating Easter growing up - although my Grandma did come and stay with us for Easter each year. Given that "normal" is different for everyone, I did a little digging and discovered that for many people Easter is celebrated with extended family and friends, as well as with community events. Without these events and the ability to visit family a lot of people are stumped on what to do to make Easter special.

Seeing as Easter at home is normal for us, I thought I'd share some of the ways that we make it a special day for the kid. As we're not religious most of what we do revolves around the Easter bunny and chocolate.


Here's a look at what we usually do for Easter Sunday...

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Quick & Easy Meals: Tuna Mornay

With so many people looking for economical meals that can be made from pantry staples at the moment, I thought today would be a good day to share one of my go to meals for the family: Tuna Mornay. Now, if you're Australian, you're probably pretty familiar with tuna mornay. It's one of those meals that you rarely see on a menu, but every family has their own recipe.

Tuna mornay was a regular meal growing up and it is a regular meal for my family too. My kids love it and would happily eat it several times a week - which they usually end up doing as there are always left overs. If you're not Australian, there's a good chance that you have no idea what tuna mornay is. I just presumed it was a recipe known around the world until I moved to the US and discovered that my American friends had no idea what it was. I then figured it must be a commonwealth thing, but unlike most Australian foods that are actually really British, it turns out that my British friends aren't familiar with tuna mornay either. Nor are my German, Italian and Russian friends. Only my Australian friends seem to be familiar with it, and they all claim that their family's recipe is the best. But they're lying, because my Mum's recipe is the best!

You're in luck, because today I'm sharing my Mum's tuna mornay recipe with you. It's a recipe that I've thought about sharing here many times over the years, but never have for two reasons. First of all, it's one of those recipes that I've been making for so long that I actually don't have a recipe. The ingredients always stay the same, but I just wing it when it comes to the amounts. My Mum has always done the same, so when she gave me the recipe years ago, it was just a list of ingredients. Sharing my recipe here meant paying attention to the amounts I use, and I never think of that until after I've made it! The other reason I've never shared my tuna mornay recipe is that as delicious as it tastes, it's not a particularly photogenic food! You'll see! It's definitely one of those "tastes much better than it looks" meals!


Here's what you'll need:
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
2 9oz tins chunk tuna in water (in brine is better if you can find it)
1 tin corn (drained) or 1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar works best but I used a Mexican blend here)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups pasta (I like penne or spriali)


Friday, 27 March 2020

25 Kid Friendly San Francisco Bay Area Hikes

Ever since we moved from California to Colorado I've been dreaming of going back. I miss our life in the San Francisco Bay Area so much, but right now I'm grateful that here in Colorado we have a house and a yard, with plenty of space to spread out. In the Bay Area we'd be finding ourselves on lock down in a two bedroom apartment with no outdoor space of our own, which, as much as I want to move back, isn't particularly appealing right now.

For those of you who find yourself in that same position I'm sharing my favorite hikes in and around San Francisco. They're all kid friendly and area great way to get out and get a little exercise without traveling too far from home. As always, click the bold and underlined title for more information.

Please make sure to follow any and all Shelter in Place orders before heading out for a hike. Keep at least 6 feet away from other hikers and don't forget to pack the hand sanitzer. While parks are currently open this may change, so make sure to check online first.

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