Saturday, January 30, 2010

For Mom

Meet my mom. Her name is Crissie and she is currently living and working in Cairo, Egypt, and blogging about her experiences. My favorite so far is her post about the police raid on the "Women's Only" car on the Cairo Metro. I know she'd love it if a few of you popped on over to her place and left some comment love.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Neither Wind, Nor Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow...

Lots of people ask me how I get my mail. I never really thought about it, but life on Mackinac is "different" from mainland life, so it doesn't surprise me that people are curious...

Mackinac Island's mail starts out like all other U.S. mail - at the Post Office, but that's where the similarities end. When my children send letters to their grandparents, those letters leave the Post Office and get a dray ride up to the airport,

where they wait on a cart,

until they are loaded into the plane
and flown to the mainland.

Once the plane lands in St. Ignace, the letters are picked up by a USPS truck and taken on the rest of their journey. Island mail often takes a bit longer to arrive than mail sent from the mainland, so we just make sure to give our bills an extra day or two to make it to their destination. Occasionally, in the winter when there is snow, sleet and freezing rain we may go several days without mail. In the 17 years that I've been here, I think the longest we've gone without mail (due to the plane's inability to fly in bad weather) was three days. It's not really a problem though - especially now that I have email!

As for getting our letters and packages, the island does not have home delivery; everyone has to go to the Post Office to pick up their mail. Luckily, my husband usually takes care of that chore.

However, UPS does deliver (thank goodness.) That's how I got these:

My new Ott lights! Joann's was having a 50% off sale and I had a free shipping coupon. I've only had them four days and now I can't imagine not having them - they're that good!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Me Likey

(Taken in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, in February 2008, from my second row seat!)

Anyone who has ever lived with me (and been scarred by my playing the same music over and over again) knows that I am a huge Barenaked Ladies fan. If you're not familiar with them you should know they're Canadian, they're men, and they are usually fully clothed. (My friend Michelle and I did get an accidental eye full once.) Anyway...

A while back BNL parted ways with their lead singer, Steven Page (the guy on the left,) and they just came out with their first single since he left the band. Go ahead and listen; I'll wait...

Apparently not all browsers support the widget above. If you don't see a box to play the song, click here to listen.

I'm on listen number 52 (or there abouts) and I like it. I was worried about whether or not I would like their music as much after Steve left the band since he had such an amazing voice, but now I am really looking forward to their next album (due out at the end of March.) I wonder if I can pre-order it yet though Amazon?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sewing Again

I picked up a bunch of adorable patterned tights (on sale) for my daughter over Christmas break only to realize that she only had two neutral skirts that would work with them. So this weekend I got to work on some new skirts.

This skirt is basically the same as this one, I just used the legs from an old pair of jeans (thank you Miranda) for the bottom instead of calico. My machine didn't like sewing through the gathered denim and the flat felled seams of the jeans - not one bit, but in the end I only ended up breaking one needle. I purposely left the hem unfinished so it would fray; for some reason I love the way frayed hems look on denim. I don't think the picture does this skirt justice. When she has it on, you can't see the lighter denim on the top - my daughter's shirts hang down low enough to cover it so it looks really cute.

While I was taking pictures of the skirt yesterday afternoon I noticed this little flower in my back yard. It brightened my day and I thought it might brighten yours, too.

We are losing snow fast on Mackinac. It's been in the 20s and 30s for the past week! It feels great but we are quickly seeing bare pavement which isn't so great when your main source of transportation is your snowmobile. But if I have to walk, I'll walk with a happy heart...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mystery Box

The last time I visited my grandma I saw this box sitting on the shelf in her closet. It peaked my curiosity because it had to be, like, forty years old - if not older.

Just look at the treasures I discovered inside:

Forty glorious years worth of buttons (and zippers and trim.) Don't you just love those big green jacket buttons? I do! Lucky, lucky me.

Thank you Grandma, thank you so much!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year's Fun

New Year's on Mackinac has been a tradition with my friends and me for a long time. Including the gatherings that occurred before I had my own place on the island, and subtracting the one year hubby and I were off the island just after we got married, this year marked my 20th Mackinac Island New Year's Eve celebration.

Usually everyone arrives on the ferry, well except for last year when some friends missed the boat. I just love that little tree on the bow.

Then the fun begins.
This year it included snowmobiling, bird watching*,



and taking apart a flat screen TV.

Let me tell you, it doesn't take long for six sets of hands to tear down a television. You should have seen them; "I'm taking this piece home... Mom, can I take this home?" I was thrilled to see the girls right in there with screwdrivers holding their own amongst the four older boys. I'm always impressed at how our nine kids (ages three through fifteen) get along so well.

*Keith, the botanist of the group, told us that by looking at the tips of the tail feathers he could tell this owl was less than one year old. Keith didn't hear it hoot so he couldn't tell if it was a male or a female.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Painting With Light

One of my favorite New Year's projects this year was painting with light. (Thank you oh Craft King, a.k.a. "The Hubby.") Imagine six kids, ten glow sticks, and my camera on a tripod in our living room after dark. Add in a little creativity and 10 second exposures, and you've got at least two hours of fun.

It was great to watch the creativity just ooze out of the kids - and to see their strategies change as they saw each image they created. Six kids was probably a few too many to be practical as it was hard for everyone to get a chance to experiment with their ideas, but they still had a good time...

After the kids went to bed, the adults had to get in on the fun. Mrs. Rose, my third grade teacher, would not have been pleased with our cursive!

Next time you're out shopping you should pick up a few glow sticks (check out the sporting goods section.) At about $1.00 each, the fun was well worth the cost!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mama's Got a New Set of Wheels

As of this morning the ferry is frozen in and can't get out of the St. Ignace harbor, and Arnold Line has called it quits for the season. So now this little airplane will be my lifeline to the mainland...

The plane holds the pilot, five passengers, and their stuff. When Great Lakes Air hauls UPS and the mail they remove some or all of the seats to make more room for all of the freight. Round trip airfare is $50.00, except kids and pets fly free as long as they fit on your lap. I wonder how long my kids will fit? Some how I probably won't be able to get away with holding a 12 year-old on my lap.

For a small plane, it sure can hold a bunch of stuff. Last year freight cost $2.50 per box or tub. I don't usually haul dog food or other heavy items on the plane because those are charged by the pound. I can't imagine what the cost would be for those 50 pound bags we buy. Luckily, before the boat quit, I laid in enough pet food to get us through the winter. (Hopefully!)

I just can't imagine living on Mackinac Island without that little plane...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More Holiday Crafts

Aren't those cards the coolest thing ever? I think so. The snowflakes were poked into a thin acrylic sheet and then lit with a LED. The cards were a great school project; lessons in rotational symmetry, measurement and electric circuits all rolled into one. You'll find the tutorial here.

I know the kids really enjoyed making these. Despite the fact that they each had to bring in $3.00 to cover the costs of the acrylic, the battery and the LED, my students are already asking if we can make them again next year.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking Forward

The New Year always makes me think of Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables. She said, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it," and I really like that. I like the idea of a clean slate; like the new year is blank page in a book just full of possibilities. Should I write in it? Doodle? Or use it for origami? Ah... so many choices.

I'd like to make a few changes in my life and today seems like perfect day to start, don't you think? One change I'm going to make is having a happy heart. What I mean is, to do everything I have to do (but might not want to do) with a happy heart - a positive attitude, a smile on my face, and putting in my best effort. I'm also going to be better at keeping the house picked up and asking my husband to help me. I tend to get upset with him for not doing anything while I don't ask him to do anything. And he is willing to help, I just don't ask him to. I expect him to just know that I need help and then get irritated with him when he doesn't. Definitely something I need to improve on. So, this year I'll be happy, in a clean house, with a grouchy husband. (Just kidding, honey.) I'll just have to work on keeping his heart happy, too...

I've also got some exciting things on the horizon for 2010. I'll turn 40 this year, and while I'm not really excited about it, I think I'll live through it - everybody else seems to. I just don't feel 40, you know? More exciting is that two shops downtown have approached me about my mittens. One shop wants to sell them, while the other wants to sell the pattern. I've been honest with both of them that I'm not sure I can produce enough to keep them stocked all summer, but both owners insisted they'd take what I can provide. So now I am a thrifting mad woman, buying sweaters by the duffel bag full. My husband tells me that I have a problem; last night he informed me that he's organizing an intervention...