Category: Happy Things


For the next few days, a bunch of people I admire are getting together to learn about things I wish I knew, to talk about things I’d love to discuss, and to share ideas I wish I were creative enough to come up with.

The third annual Altitude Design Summit (nickname: Alt) officially kicks off tomorrow morning in Salt Lake City, but a quick glance at Twitter makes it clear that the fun has already begun.

Alt is a conference for design and lifestyle bloggers, and if you’ve never heard of it, this article will help bring you up to speed. At least nine bloggers I regularly follow are participating this year, along with others I’m familiar with and probably hundreds I’ve never heard of. I’m excited that Alt is finally underway — even though I’m not there. I can’t wait to be inspired by all the words and photos that the attendees will share with the rest of us who envy them.

I don’t know if any Alt attendees read my blog (maybe a couple?), but if you’re lucky enough to be at Alt, I hope you have as much fun as I think you’re having!

our first three daylilies

Our first three daylilies bloomed today. They’re such a welcome burst of color!

an illustrated grocery list

Taking a four-year-old to the grocery store does not rank high on my list of fun things to do. A few weeks ago, Hayden was {this close} to having a meltdown in the grocery store because I refused to buy him the fun five dollar toothbrush he grabbed off the rack. Never mind that we were there to buy ammo for the marshmallow shooter I was making for him.

So when he and I needed to pick up a few items at the grocery store before heading out of town the other weekend, I decided to try a creative approach. Before we went to the store, I wrote up a five-item grocery list — and since he can’t read yet, I illustrated it.

He figured out everything but the bottled water.

When we got to the store, I handed Hayden the list and put him in charge of making sure we got everything. I told him that we were only going to buy the items that were on our list, so every time he saw something else he wanted, we admired it and talked about it for a moment, and then I asked him if it was on the list.


“Sorry. Then I guess we can’t get it.” I added just a slight twinge of disappointment to my voice, as if the person prohibiting us from buying these things was someone other than me.

I had written the list in the order that we would find the items in the store, and with only five items on the list, the little shopping adventure was over pretty quickly. But we had fun while we were there, and it might have been my favorite grocery shopping trip ever… because I left the store with a smile on my face and a proud, happy little boy by my side.

Easter basket treasure hunt

This morning we gave our kids their Easter baskets, but instead of just handing them over, I made a treasure hunt with clues that led to the baskets of goodies. I wrote up about ten clues, including one that took them all the way to the end of the driveway to look inside the mailbox, and then tucked each clue inside a plastic Easter egg.

The middle clue pictured above was my favorite one. “I’m packing your extra pair of shoes, and your angry eyes… just in case.” Anybody know where the next egg with a clue was hidden? (Hint: it’s a quote from Toy Story 2.)

It was inside Mr. Potato Head! (That’s where Mrs. Potato Head packed her husband’s shoes and angry eyes.)

Also, that blue and green chevron fabric pictured above is now a dress for Magen. I didn’t start sewing it ’til yesterday, so I was relieved when I finished it up this afternoon. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a good picture of her in the dress tomorrow.

Happy Easter!

little spring celebration

Once upon a time, it was winter. And then it was spring. So we had a very little party to celebrate its arrival.

And now that spring is three weeks old, I’m finally getting around to sharing the ideas and pictures with you. The main focus of our party was a meal with a mystery menu. The foods were very normal (spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, etc.), but I made up a mystery menu in which each of the food items were renamed as some spring-themed item.

This was our menu:

And these are the translations:

bird’s nest = spaghetti
robin’s eggs = meatballs
flowers = cucumbers and carrots
trees = raw broccoli
butterflies = garlic bread cut to vaguely resemble butterflies
seeds = black olives
watering can = pink lemonade
rainbow = layered vanilla pudding

non-edible items
picnic blanket = napkin
rake = fork
shovel = spoon
trowel = knife

Cutting the cucumbers and the carrots to look like flowers was the most time-intensive step, so I was glad I didn’t have to make many of them. I just sliced the vegetables and then used a paring knife to cut out five wedges from each slice.

For dessert, I made a much brighter version of the rainbow layered vanilla pudding Magen and I made back in the fall.

Coming up with the food ideas was fun, but the decorations were my favorite part. The party was just for my family and my mother-in-law, so I didn’t do a ton of decorating, but no party is complete without some fun decor.

For starters, I bought a simple bouquet of alstroemeria for the center of the table and placed it in a blue canning jar.

The table was also adorned with these little place cards that I made. The flowers were made out of regular printer paper that I painted with watercolors and then cut out with those cheap scissors that make fun edges. Other place cards had flowers with other colors (pink, yellow, blue).

On the sliding glass doors, I hung ten little accordion-folded paper flowers that I made from two sheets of scrapbook paper.

And finally, I hung some crepe-paper streamers from an exposed beam.

Happy Spring!


One chair.

Two chairs.

Red chair.

Blue chair.

And… perspective.

In early December I was poking around the Museum of Modern Art’s online store, when I saw a game that looked quirky and fun. It’s called Chairs, and you play it by taking turns stacking up one chair at a time while only one of the chairs remains on the table or floor. The goal is to NOT make chairs fall, and the person with the least amount of points (i.e., least number of chairs knocked down) after a specified number of rounds is the winner.

I had never heard of it before, and probably wouldn’t have bought it for myself, but it was the perfect kind of thing to put on my Christmas list. I was quite happy to unwrap a tin full of 24 chairs during a Christmas gift exchange this past weekend, and the game has proven to be fun to play with both adults and kids.

Don’t you think that first red chair I showed you looks like something you could buy at IKEA?

mini Christmas notepad

The supplies for the advent calendar I made were still sitting on my desk last evening, so before I put them away, I decided to make another fun little project with some of the same materials.

Cute + easy + quick + fun + useful + free = a sweet, simple mini notepad!

I cut some white printer paper into 15 little squares (measuring 2.75″), and then cut two squares of cardstock kraft paper to the same dimensions. I sandwiched the white paper between the covers and stapled it all together with three staples across the top. I then glued a piece of ribbon onto the top to hide the staples and used a marker to write a few words from a fun Christmas tune.

I can’t wait to use this one up so I can make another one. The possibilities are endless!

shadows on the wall

As an adult, I’ve always waited until the Sunday after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music and put up Christmas decorations. This year I started playing Christmas music a week and a half before Thanksgiving, but as far as decorating goes, this year was no exception.

This afternoon I dragged out all of our Christmas decorations and starting making our house in the woods as cozy as possible. We won’t get our Christmas tree until Saturday, so for now, this miniature version will have to suffice. I love white Christmas lights, but tonight I especially love the shadows on the wall…

rest stop

On the way to my cousin’s house in upstate New York last evening, we stopped at a rest stop to use the facilities and get something to eat. While Tim and I were standing in line at Roy Rogers, I noticed the diversity of our fellow travelers, and mentioned to Tim that there was a whole episode of This American Life about a rest stop. (This American Life is my favorite radio show.)

After a moment, I told Tim that I thought maybe the rest stop they featured was in New York somewhere, so I pulled out my iPhone and fired up the This American Life app. Sure enough, the rest stop featured on the show was along the New York State Thruway. I’m not sure why I remembered that. Lucky guess!

As we returned to the highway with our roast beef sandwiches in hand, I pulled out my iPhone and went onto the This American Life website to read the full description of the episode, hoping to find out which rest stop had been featured.

It was the Plattekill Travel Plaza — the rest stop we had just left! What are the chances that of all the thousands of rest stops in the country, the one featured on This American Life is the one we were standing in when I was talking about it?!

So as we were heading home on the New York State Thruway tonight, we listened to the episode via the This American Life app on my iPhone, even though I had already heard it before. It’s called Rest Stop, and it’s a great way to spend an hour of travel time.

an exciting sighting

This afternoon I was sitting at a stoplight on my way home from running errands when I looked up and saw a sundog. A sundog is a little colored spot in the sky, and while it isn’t rare, it’s not something I see every day. Then another sundog over to the left caught my eye.

And then… I saw the halo that connected the two sundogs and perfectly surrounded the bright sun.

I pulled out my camera — and the traffic light turned green. I ended up driving about a mile before I could find a good place to stop and take a couple pictures. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but this is what I came home with.

When I googled “halo with sundogs,” practically all of the images I found showed snow on the ground, but I saw “my” halo with sundogs on a sunny November afternoon in Pennsylvania with not a snowflake in sight.

Because the sun was so bright, it was almost impossible to tell how much of the halo I was able to capture with my camera until I got home and downloaded the photos. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t take a few more pictures, because at the top of the halo, I saw what looked like the beginning of another arc in the opposite direction, but I barely captured that in my photo. According to what I learned on Wikipedia, I think it was an upper tangent arc.

So exciting!