Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This changes everything! (....about hemming jeans)

Or maybe it doesn't.  But I'm excited.

If you read social media (or even just "media"), you may have noticed a trend.  There are countless stories, articles, and posts that have titles proclaiming "This changes everything!" or "I will never look at X the same way again!" or "Here's a life hack!" etc. etc. etc.  Sometimes I read this click bait.  Once you get into the article, it's often a trick or a shortcut for a completely unnecessary task.  It doesn't change everything.  It feels like the (social) media is fibbing.

I'm not fibbing....this will change the way you hem jeans!  For real.  Seriously.

Those of you who know me in the real world know that I'm of average height but I have short legs.  I have a long torso (like a ballet dancer...ha!).  When I buy jeans, unless I can find long-torsoed petite jeans, they are usually too long.  (Just by way of explanation - the petite jeans have to be long-torsoed or they sit scandalously low on my backside.) 

I'm frugal and somewhat lazy so usually I just roll up my jeans or hem them using the "fold under" method.  Hemming by folding the excess under and sewing isn't a great method for jeans for a couple of reasons:  denim is thick and it stresses out my sewing machine needles; and the bottoms of jeans that you buy at the store usually have a nice contrast thread and "weathered" look - if you hem by folding under you lose these features and they look home-hemmed.

I have newish jeans that needed to be hemmed and I really like them so I was considering taking them to the tailor.  Before I did I googled hemming jeans and found a number of blog posts about how to hem jeans and save the look of the bottom edge.  My favourite post is this one:  http://rileynoehren.blogspot.com/2010/01/tutorial-how-to-hem-jeans-like-pro.html.  I followed her method and my jeans look great!  Start to finish it took under half an hour.  That includes: trying on the jeans with 2 pairs of shoes; triple checking my math; and reading her blog post.  I will be much quicker next time.

The finished product.  They just look like jeans...right??

I won't go over the details of the method (you can click the link) but here are a couple of comments.  My jeans are boot cut, therefore I had to stretch one layer of fabric to get the  side seams to meet up. She mentions this in her post and I think it's brilliant!  I wish I'd thought of it before hemming my last couple of skirts. 

If you read the method, the "stitch in the ditch" step tacks up the excess.  Tacking up the excess creates a bit of a cuff  inside the bottom of the leg.  Most of the other bloggers don't tack up the excess but trim it using various methods to prevent fray.  I tacked the bottoms because I didn't have much excess (4 cm in all) and the cuff is not an issue.  If the excess were any larger, I definitely would trim it.  


Zoo Day

Monday was a holiday from school for Martin Luther King day.  Unfortunately my husband (and husbands in general) did not seem to also have a holiday from work.

A couple of friends and I decided to take our kids to the zoo.  In total we had 3 mothers, 7 boys, and 2 girls.  It was a big crowd but we had loads of fun.

We arrived at the zoo a few minutes before it opened and it was already busy.  The parking lot was filling up as well.  Inside the zoo we wandered through the primates path and past the big cats and bears before it got really busy.  Around 11:00 a.m. we took the kids to the zoo playground and the place was heaving with kids.  We decided to let the kids stop at the swap shop before heading out.  

At the swap shop, kids can bring in items they find in nature to trade for points.  They then use those points to "purchase" other natural items.  My boys brought in some spiky seed pods and leaves from our front lawn.  Points are assigned for unique items and for the amount of knowledge that the child has about the item.  If they have done some research they get even more points!

We didn't know what the seed pods were but the are interesting and unique.  Overall the boys were awarded 30 points.  They used those points to buy some lovely seashells.  They are now saving up for a 200-500 point turtle shell!

We left the zoo and picked up a picnic lunch from our cars.  The parking lot was full and people were trolling for spots.  We caused a bit of false hope because we looked like we planned to leave when we were really just getting our stuff from the cars.

Then we walked over to the Japanese garden for a quiet picnic and a walk around the meditation trail.

When we went back to our cars to leave the parking lot was a madhouse.  I couldn't even get out of my space because of a car waiting to get in - it would not move over so I could pull out for fear of losing the space!   We drove home, exhausted, for naps.  It was a lovely day!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Arboretum - January Walking Challenge

The Houston Arboretum set a walking challenge for this January.  If you walk a particular trail in the Arboretum 8 times this month and log your walks on FaceBook or at the front desk, you get a reward - a free membership and a class (yoga or tai chi).  I finished my walks last week! 

I've had a lot of fun during the walking challenge.  The best part for me is that I never walked alone.  I have enough friends walking the challenge that I was able to meet up with someone for every walk.

I plan to keep walking at the Arboretum, but I will try different trails.  The Outer Loop is the designated trail for the challenge and to me it's the least inspiring trail in the park.  It  passes close to the roadway and a train track so it's a bit noisy as well.

Also at the Arboretum, last weekend Little Boy attended a class about hibernation.  They got to see a hedgehog eat!  He was very excited.  My husband went with him and noted that Little Boy behaves differently in a classroom setting than he does at home.  He participated, followed the rules, and co-operated.  Hmmmm.....I need to channel some of his classroom energy for home!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Yum!

It's been a delicious week at our house!  Let me show you....

I made Irish Soda Bread using the recipe from the Paul Hollywood's Bread book.  Irish Soda Bread is easy to make - it doesn't require many ingredients, it doesn't require the proofing and rising of regular bread, and it doesn't require kneading.   It looks impressive in a rustic way when you serve it.  It has a traditional bread flavour, not the sweet fluffy bread that is available in the grocery stores today.  The kids love it slathered in butter (who wouldn't?).







 The Soda Bread is nice dunked in soup and I made vegetable soup so that I could dunk at lunch!

The kids were complaining about boring after school snacks.  I can't really blame them....I usually just feed them fruit.  I put a bit more effort in and we had a muffin platter and cookies.

Do you like my Mickey Mouse muffins?  I bought the muffin form at Disneyland.  I wish I had bought 2!


Last night we went to see friends for dinner and had Korean BBQ.  We cooked our meat at the table and ate it in lettuce wraps with pickled and spicy cabbage. My friend's daughter made a really nice potato salad with new potatoes as well.



We brought dessert.  I made an apple pie and a cinnamon coffee cake.  We picked up vanilla ice cream to accompany the pie.




Today for lunch we had pita pizzas.  So easy!


We rounded out the weekend with ribs and corn bread.  Yum!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Snakes!

I took Baby Boy to the Arboretum for Tyke Hike today and the topic was snakes.  My favourite.....right....

He loves snakes!  He enjoyed the story and when the naturalist brought out a live snake to pet he eagerly pet him and then asked for another turn!  He brought home pieces of snake skin to show his brothers.

While I don't share his enthusiasm I'm proud of him....

Friday, January 9, 2015

Pengu

Tonight we did something different.  We took the kids swimming to Pengu Swim School (http://www.penguswimschool.com).  

When we drove up I was a bit worried.  Pengu is a tiny building in a mostly-residential neighbourhood, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It is bigger inside than it looked from the outside and the space is incredibly well thought-out.  The changing rooms are all for families (i.e. there is no "mens" and "ladies") and they are designed to look like individual beach cabanas.  The blowdryers are set into a surf-board bar.  There is also a play area for siblings and a viewing gallery for parents waiting through swimming lessons.  It's a really cute facility!

The pool is heated to 90 Degrees Fahrenheit (very warm) and it was lovely - I didn't miss the shock of jumping into a chilly pool.  The pool is well-stocked with toys including: foam canoes; floating mats; a foam car; and an airplane.  The kids had a great time and didn't want to leave.  Big Boy mastered the canoe and Baby Boy drifted around like royalty on a float mat.  Little Boy practiced jumping in with his usual flair.

The showers at Pengu are next to the pool in a public bank, beside a "pool use only" washroom.  They are out in the open and I think it would be odd to wash your hair at the pool.

We had a great time on our swimming outing and the cost was very fair - $15 for our whole family.  I'd love to go back!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Little Boy

Little Boy said some interesting things today....one not so good...and one that was really sweet.

The "Not-so-Good" (A.K.A. "The Bad")

For his birthday, Little Boy got a "computer" - it's a laptop toy with games that help him learn his letters and other skills (he only plays the letter games right now).  His access to this computer is limited and therefore it is his most precious reward.  

Today during his hard-earned playtime Little Boy was playing a game where the computer says a letter and he has to move the mouse (painfully slowly) to the letter block on the screen and click it (even more slowly).  He nearly always knows the letter but his mouse control slows him down and the game often grades his answer as "incorrect" because he takes too long to answer as he is fumbling toward the correct letter and trying to depress the top of the mouse.  I hate to say this, but it reminds me of my dad trying to use a mouse.

Anyways.

He was playing the game today and had a frustrating experience with 2 or 3 questions in a row.  Then he got one right.  He let out an ecstatic cheer of "yo b*tches!".  Very loudly.

I didn't think I heard him correctly so I asked him to repeat what he said.  He did.  And it was that.  

So I asked him where he heard that.  He told me his friend at school says it all the time.  I explained it was a very bad word and that he must not say it again.  Then I asked who says it at school.  I should have asked that first because he clammed up and wouldn't tell me.....he didn't want to rat his friend out.  Then I tried guessing which friend it was and he "Spartacus-ed" me and said it was each of them as I named them.  Such a loyal friend.

Throughout this whole thing I got the giggles and had to struggle for a straight face....it was hilariously inappropriate.  I'm guessing that someone's parents or older siblings have been watching some interesting movies or television programmes with one of his classmates in the room.......maybe Breaking Bad?  or some other show?

The Sweet

One of my friends and Little Boy have a special bond.  She has been a constant presence in his life because we have had similar moving patterns and he sees her as an extension of our family.  He is completely comfortable (maybe too comfortable) in her home and likes to spend time with her.  She dotes on him and he loves the attention.

He wanted to get her a present for Christmas that was only from him.  I took him to the shop (because he didn't want to make something) and he picked out a figurine that was sold with the Christmas ornaments.  The figurine is an auntie bear with a nephew bear on her knee sharing a plate of cookies.  He picked this figurine because it reminded him of hanging out with her.

We didn't see her over Christmas and today I managed to finally give her the gift.  She opened it and she was touched.  Later in the afternoon (right after the above incident) she called him to thank him for the gift.

I could only hear his side of the conversation but it was sweet.  He explained that he thought she would like the ornament and offered to get her another gift.  After he hung up the phone he was so proud that he had selected a gift that she liked and that she had put it out in her house.  Such a lovely boy!