I visited friends in Charlotte, NC in late March. The weather was beautiful, so we went for a morning hike around Lake Wylie in McDowell Nature Center and Preserve.
In the afternoon, my friend gave me a brief walking tour of uptown Charlotte. We relaxed in a quiet literary-themed pocket park called The Green. I enjoyed the book sculptures and colorful mosaic stools.
Speaking of mosaics, the Firebird sculpture in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is a sparkling mosaic wonder, reflecting bits and pieces of everything around it.
The little one has broken a lot of crayons over the last couple of years, and I’ve been collecting the crayon fragments because I figured we could eventually do something cool with them. This melted crayon craft project was just our speed, and our funky multi-colored crayons made great gifts for the kiddo’s friends.
After peeling the paper off of the broken crayons, we put the crayon pieces in a mini muffin pan and baked them at 170°F until they were completely melted (24 minutes). Then we removed the muffin pan from the oven, and decided to quickly stir one of the new melty crayons (a mixture of purple, blue, and pink) to make a special new shade of purple. We left the other crayons alone for a marbled look. Then we put the muffin pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. Next I inverted the pan and the new crayons all came out easily.
Our special purple swirled crayon broke when it came out of the pan, so it’s possible that our stirring before freezing affected that crayon’s structural integrity, but it turned out really pretty. A few of the other crayons broke later on, but that’s not so bad because these crayons are actually easier to draw with when they are broken in half. Overall, this was a fun recycling project to do with a three-year-old!
It should come as no surprise that Loveland, Colorado, the “sweetheart city,” is really into Valentine’s Day. Around this time of year, there are charming red wooden hearts with personalized dedications posted on all of the light poles on the main street. And the Fire and Ice Festival is celebrated all over downtown Loveland on a weekend near Valentine’s Day. We enjoyed the festival’s great live music, carousel, carnival games, kettle corn, and of course, ice sculptures.
There was also an awesome community art project that came together throughout the festival. People painted individual smallish sections of a huge mural and the finished sections were mounted on the side of a building, creating a beautiful, funky image of Mona Lisa in Loveland. What a cool idea!
The internet seems to be full of people hosting over-the-top Pinterest-perfect Halloween parties for their kiddos. I just don’t have that kind of time or motivation, but we hosted a lovely little party for a bunch of two-year-olds just the same. Here’s how it went down.
We scheduled the party for mid-morning since toddlers are generally least prone to melt-downs at that time of day. We also roll with a pretty healthy-eating group of families (and I didn’t want a house full of sugared up toddlers), so we kept the party food Halloween-appropriate yet simple and healthyish. I made pumpkin mini muffins, orange and black fruit (cantaloupe chunks and blackberries), and ghost toast!
The ghost toast was just bread cut into ghost shapes with my trusty ghost-shaped cookie cutter, topped with cream cheese and flax seeds for the eyes and mouths.
For drinks we had apple cider and water.
The kids weren’t old enough for complicated games and activities, so we spread out paper, Halloween stickers, crayons, and some Halloween pictures to color on a coffee table. At another table we set up a foam pumpkin decorating area.
And perhaps the most fun activity was provided by Mother Nature – a sunny day and leaf piles to play in!
I didn’t publish a single post in 2014! I’m sorry, little blog, but being a working mom is exhausting (and also not the topic of this blog, so enough about that). But in the last few months I’ve taken more photos of things that aren’t my family, and even experimented in the kitchen a bit. So let’s prepare for a small blogging comeback in 2015!
For me, the highlights of our cross-country drive were Pittsburgh and St. Louis. I’ve blogged a few times before about my love for Pittsburgh, but I’d never been to St. Louis before. I was really excited to see the Gateway Arch, which is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, and is an awesome example of architecture and engineering in the 1960s.
Obviously the arch is huge, but I never fully appreciated its scale before seeing it in person. The top of the arch looks so sleek that I never expected there to be enough room inside for a tram to carry passengers to the top, where they can get out and enjoy views of St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
After visiting the arch, we had a fantastic lunch at PW Pizza. You can get gluten-free crust and vegan cheese on any pizza, so we had a “Popeye and Olive Oil” pizza (cleverly named: roasted garlic olive oil, spinach, roasted red pepper) with those substitutions and vegan sausage on half of the pizza. Best lunch of our road trip!
As we prepare to leave Nova Scotia next week, I’ve been reflecting on some of the things that I will miss. It’s been a great three and a half years here!
- deer, foxes, and random cats in the yard
- fuzzy baby ducks in and around the pond during the spring
- the smell and sound of the ocean
- sunrises over the ocean
- sunsets over the lake
- twinkling lights across the harbour
- all the wildflowers in our yard
- cozy weekends with the woodstove
- the tennis court down the street
- foghorns (although I won’t miss them keeping me awake at night)
- Bulk Barn (more about my love for Bulk Barn here)
- walking to the Public Gardens from work
- the Halifax Farmers Market, especially my favorite vendor, The Kind Cookie
- loonies and toonies, and colored bills covered with cool artwork
- Mary’s Place Cafe
- Indochine’s bubble tea smoothies
- the prominence of Lebanese food
- my gastroenterologist
- considerate drivers
- the lovely painted utility boxes all over the area