DIY Captain Underpants Halloween costume

I have a draft of a post from July still waiting to be published. I have two birthday party posts yet to be shared. But right now I want to share this year’s Halloween costumes: superheroes!

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I don’t know how many years we have left of doing family costumes without any dissenters, so I was happy that Corban and Mara ended up on the same page with their costume selections: Flash and Wonder Woman (for a while it was looking like Princess Leia or Elsa were going to win out for Mara, but in the end she said she wanted “star underpants” — which, still, she did not get, but it was enough to convince her to join Corban in the Justice League).

This is Haddon’s first Halloween, so I had almost full control over his costume since he had no concept of the holiday. Going along with the superhero theme, Haddon’s pick was a no-brainer. I knew he’d actually be excited (and not just confused) to dress up as Captain Underpants. After the five of us saw the “Captain Underpants” movie this summer, he has had an affinity for running around the house in a diaper and cape shouting, “Captain Underpants! Tra-la-la!”

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My original ambitions were to make everyone’s costumes myself, but time got the better of me and we ended up ordering Mara’s and Corban’s on Amazon so we’d have them in time for some festivities two weekends before Halloween. I was actually really impressed with their costumes, considering they were both $20 or less. Here is the Wonder Woman costume and here is the Flash costume. I ended up sewing the Wonder Woman belt to the dress just to keep it in place (a tiny stitch just at the center of the waist, not all the way around), but otherwise they both worked just fine straight out of the package.

Captain Underpants seemed simple enough to make, and I also found the store-bought versions really creepy, so that was my project this year. Here’s what I did.

(Past DIY Halloween costumes: Berenstain Bears, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Peter Rabbit, a mouse)

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The bod

Nude long underwear is apparently difficult to find in toddler sizes (though for an older kid, this would be perfect) so instead I bought a white long-sleeve shirt, thick, cotton tights and a package of tan Rit dye.

This was my first experience dying clothing, and it was really simple to do on the stovetop, although the shirt ended up with some weird dark dots on it (not ideal but I don’t think it was too noticeable). I used the powder dye, so maybe the liquid dye would be more reliable? The color turned out darker than I was anticipating. It worked fine for Haddon’s skin tone, but for a fairer child you would probably not want to leave the clothing in the dye for the full amount of time.

The underpants

I drew lines with permanent marker on a pair of white underwear to match the look of Captain Underpants’ underwear.

The head

To achieve Captain Underpants’ bald-headed look I crocheted a simple skin-toned beanie for Haddon. This also was convenient because it ended up being fairly chilly for our trick-or-treating last night. Here’s the pattern I followed (via video). I am not a crocheter—I’ve crocheted two or three hats in the past but that’s it—yet this was simple enough to knock out in spare moments here and there over a few days.

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The cape

I bought this $6.99 red satin shawl and cut it in half (the other half became my Supergirl cape). If I owned a sewing machine, I would have hemmed the cut edge, but un-hemmed it survived trick-or-treating and a Halloween party with only a few stray strings. To make the cape fully authentic I drew seed-shaped black dots on it with a permanent marker.

That’s it! Totally doable, and Haddon loved his costume. You could also add a plunger as an accessory, but Haddon had enough work just carrying his candy bucket.

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Other Halloween notes:

At the last minute I decided to dress up as Supergirl—literally 10 minutes before trick-or-treating started I printed out a Supergirl logo and pinned it to a blue shirt, pinned the remaining red scarf into my collar for a cape and cut a strip of yellow fabric and tied it around my waist with a red skirt. Pure luck that I already had everything for that one.

Peter’s Clark Kent costume included woodworking safety goggles since he couldn’t locate any normal fake glasses in our house.

Haddon was my pumpkin-carving sidekick. He mainly enjoyed sticking his hands in the pumpkins and playing with the scooped-out seeds. I roasted the seeds to perfection this year (I’ve found the best route to success is soaking the seeds overnight in a bowl of water with lots of salt before roasting).

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I managed to carve three of our five pumpkins (the kids lose interest after about 10 seconds so it ends up being my solo project). They got to choose the designs, though, and I’m sure you can guess who’s pumpkin is whose.

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All in all, it was another very fun Halloween, made even more special by getting to introduce Haddon to the holiday and share in his excitement.

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Berenstain Bears Halloween costumes

We did another full-fledged family costume this year for Halloween. Last year it was Jake and the Neverland Pirates. This year: Berenstain Bears (yes, that’s how it’s always been spelled).

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Corban discovered the Bear family thanks to the extensive collection of books my parents have from when I was a kid, and these past few months we have been compelled to read multiple Berenstain Bears books a day. You can’t get away with shortcuts with Corban either—he notices if you skip so much as a sentence.

This is a good thing, though: good moral lessons, childhood reminiscence, enjoyable storylines. Naturally, Corban draws connections between the Bear family and our own family of four. He is Brother Bear, Mara is Sister Bear.

So despite a new Star Wars obsession that has them plotting next year’s costumes already, they were excited to dress up as the Bear family for Halloween.

You can’t just go out and buy a Berenstain Bears costume (I looked and came up empty), so we had to get a little bit creative.

Thankfully, I came across this Etsy shop, which sells handmade embroidered Berenstain Bears masks. They only come in kids sizes, so they looked slightly off on Peter and me, but they were perfect for the kids. Without these masks the costumes would have been really obscure, especially since the Berenstain Bears are not normal-looking bears.

Brother Bear was the easiest: blue sweatpants and a red long-sleeve polo (found at Old Navy).

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Papa Bear was simple, too: Overalls and a yellow plaid shirt.

My original plan for Mama Bear was to buy a blue nightgown and paint white polka dots onto it, but upon realizing how expensive even the most basic long-sleeve nightgowns and dresses are (at least the ones that I could find), my mom offered to sew me a dress. She has years of sewing experience and has made many Halloween costumes throughout my life, and I’m grateful for her expertise and eagerness to help! She used blue polka-dot fleece fabric and modified a basic dress pattern, adding a white collar.

Sister Bear was my project. For her shirt, I just used fabric paint to paint pink polka dots onto an old long-sleeve shirt of Corban’s. I could have bought a pair of regular pink overalls, but Sister’s overalls are slightly different—they have scalloped straps and a straight line across the front and back (no bib). So after hunting around unsuccessfully, I got inspired by something I saw on how to turn an old pair of jeans into shorts overalls.

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I bought two pairs of pink fleece sweatpants (thank you, Walmart) and went to town. First, I cut two rectangles out of one leg of one of the pairs of pants in order to bring the waistline up to nearly chest-height. I sewed those two pieces together then sewed them to the waist of the other pair of pants.

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Unfolded:

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No hemming needed with fleece; yay!

For the straps, I put the newly modified pants on Mara, measured the length the straps should be and cut a scalloped pattern out of poster board.

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I took the other extra pant leg and cut along the seams to create two long rectangles of fabric. I folded each long rectangle in half lengthwise and cut the scalloped line out of the open side. Then I pinned the edges to prepare to sew them:

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I carefully sewed along the scalloped edge.

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Then I turned them inside out and ironed them flat (in the photo below, the top strap shows it before being turned inside out and the bottom one after).

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I sewed the front of the straps to the front of the pants, and my mom sewed snaps onto the inside of the back straps and back of the pants. The snaps ended up being unnecessary, though; Mara just pulled the straps up over her arms. I did end up pinning the shoulders of her shirt to the straps so they wouldn’t fall down (thanks to the double layers of fleece, you couldn’t see the pins).

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Oh, and the kids were super excited to wear these gorilla feet slippers we spotted at Walmart. They look enough like bear feet, I guess. They weren’t the easiest to walk in while trick-or-treating, though.

I also concocted some furry gloves for all of us by sewing some felt pieces to cheap cotton gloves to make it look like fur was coming out of our sleeves. If I were to do that again I would have hot-glued the felt…my quick hand-sewing job didn’t really hold up. Mara also refused to wear them, so there’s that.

It was a fun Halloween weekend: costumed play date party Friday morning, adult party Friday night (my solo Mama Bear costume isn’t quite as cute without the rest of the fam…), pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating Sunday and a Halloween party for the kids at our gym this morning.

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Hard to believe we are entering November already!

Past years’ Halloween costumes: Pirate/Tinkerbell (2015) | Peter Rabbit/bumble bee (2014) | mouse/cat (2013) | lobster (2012)

9 lovely views from Seattle

I had the privilege of visiting Seattle for the first time this past week. It was for a food journalism conference, which is just about the greatest work-related reason to travel.

Of course the food and drink were excellent. The conference sessions were enlightening. I met some very charming and interesting people and got to spend time with my Seattle-based cousin and his wife.

But one unexpected highlight of the trip was this:

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Two wheels borrowed from my cousin that provided me free and fun transportation (and exercise to burn off some of the aforementioned food and drink) around a most bike-friendly city.

There is a lot of beauty in the Pacific Northwest, and between bike rides and conference events I packed in some memorable views in my four days there. Here are nine memorable views of and from Seattle.

  1. Magnolia Park

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After getting off the plane and catching up over dim sum with my cousin Spencer and his wife, Allison, we jumped on bikes and headed 7-8 miles north for some hiking. On our way up a particularly long and painful hill, we stopped for a break and were met with the above view of Puget Sound from Magnolia Park.

And turning to the left… hello, city.

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2. Discovery Park

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Our hiking destination was Discovery Park. It was a nice maybe 3-mile loop with a section along the beach and a section up into the rainforest. Pretty foliage and more lovely water views. With blue skies!

My awesome guides.

My awesome guides.

3. Gas Works Park

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On day two I ventured out on bike by myself to visit Gas Works Park. Above is the… gas works. But the real view is of the city, seen across Lake Union.

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See the Space Needle?

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The photos don’t really do it justice. You’re standing on the top of a very green hill with the city around you in every direction. The lake is quite active with boats and rowers.

4. Pike Place Market

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Pike Place Market is a far more impressive place than I realized. That’s another story, but I’m including it in my list of views because if you glance up out shop windows or in alleys you might be surprised to see something like this:

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There’s also the gum wall, which was completely cleaned off in November, but is back and once again quite a sight to see (and smell).

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5. Out my hotel window

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I enjoyed several sunrises and sunsets out this window at the Sheraton in downtown Seattle. But up 25 more floors was our conference room, which had this view of Elliott Bay that same night:

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(Corban’s earnest reaction when I showed him this picture: “Wow! Look at that construction!”)

6. Rooftop of an Amazon building

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Spencer took me up to the roof of one of many buildings owned by his employer, Amazon. Above is a view of Lake Union from the side opposite of Gas Works Park.

Another side of that rooftop looks out to the Space Needle.

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7. The Space Needle

Speaking of the Space Needle, that night we had a cocktail hour there followed by a food and drink tasting event at Chihuly Garden and Glass, just below.

Based on my knowledge of Seattle weather, I think this view from the bottom with blue skies above is probably noteworthy.

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The view from the top was spectacular. I was not expecting it to take my breath away like it did.

Here is downtown and Elliott Bay.

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Below is Lake Union again. Watching the traffic flow from this vantage point was mesmerizing.

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And on the other side… mountains.

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From inside the glass atrium where our dinner/tasting event was held, we had another nice view looking up through some Chihuly artwork to the Space Needle.

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8. Elliott Bay Trail

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The next morning, I was up early enough for a solo ride along the Elliott Bay Trail. Once I got past Pike Place Market and the cruise ship docks, the view was peaceful. We finally got some real Seattle weather—misty and gray. No complaints though.

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Their fall colors are quite a bit ahead of us here in Wisconsin, so this ombré wall was a treat along part of the ride.

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9. Woodinville/Chateau Ste. Michelle

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I only got a quick glance at winery-laden Woodinville as we headed into Chateau Ste. Michelle for a wine tasting dinner, but the scenery was lush. The grapes are all grown in eastern Washington, but this area 30 minutes outside Seattle is where many of Washington’s hundreds of wineries make the wine.

The view inside at our dinner was fabulous—or at least the food and wine was! It was the perfect end to my trip.

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After that I was off to the airport for a miserable red-eye home. But these two faces that greeted my sleep-deprived face made me grin more than any sweeping sight from the previous days.

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It was good to be gone and it’s good to be home.

*Side rant: WordPress really degrades the image quality once I hit publish!

Eight years ago today

Eight years ago was one of the happiest days of my life.

August 30, 2008, I married Peter.

The day was a celebration of our love. We were two youngsters unprepared and immature, but committing to life side by side.

The day was also a celebration of all the love in our lives from family and friends. The atmosphere felt magical. It was the perfect party.

So permit me a little trip down memory lane as I look back on photos from our wedding day. We’ve changed and grown in so many ways over the past eight years, but these pictures bring me right back to day one.

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On eulogizing

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Last year on this day I flipped my planner open to a new week and was overcome with an unexpected wave of sadness. I had put Nana’s photo sticker on her birthday immediately after receiving the planner for Christmas, not realizing she wouldn’t live to see her 92nd birthday. In fact, she died little more than a week after I placed that sticker there.

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My last hug goodbye from Nana, Christmas Day a week before she died.

Her death marked the end of a generation on my mom’s side. After her funeral, I visited the house she and my grandfather had shared for 57 years—the house my mom grew up in and I spent much of my childhood at—and just walked the rooms and cried.

That part of my life now feels like another era, encased in gold and far away from the world I live in now. It’s an emotional moment to realize a huge, unchanging part of your life is now a closed chapter, never to be visited again.

That’s not to say losing her wasn’t a great loss on its own. She was a special woman, the kindest person I’ve ever known. I miss her dearly.

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I had the privilege of giving her eulogy. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I knew I could and I should, so I did.

I was a ball of nerves writing it (fact-checking, trying to sharpen fuzzy memories) and wasn’t sure how I would manage to deliver it coherently. But I’m glad I stretched myself and went through with it. Preparing for the eulogy helped me grieve by reminding me of all the joy Nana and I shared and what a full and happy life she led. It actually gave me a great sense of comfort during that sad time.

One thing that helped was that for her 90th birthday I had written Nana a letter recalling fond memories and sharing how much I loved her. I had already told her how special she was; now I just had to share those thoughts with everyone else.

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A drawing from a sketchbook I had as a kid: Nana surrounded by things I associated with her (the bottom left is a jar of Flinstones vitamins, ha!)

So two takeaways here: if you’re in a position to give a eulogy for someone you love, you’ll have to push through the discomfort and the feeling that your words will be inadequate (they will be, but that’s OK). It will be worth it, and may even be good for your grief.

Second, don’t wait for the eulogy to express your love and share your fond memories. Your loved ones would love to hear that from you today!

So on what would have been Claire Fredenburg’s 93rd birthday, here are a few photos of the sweet, affectionate, creative, fun woman I was blessed to call Nana.

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With her mom (Mary) and sister, Eve (right).

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Love this photo and wish I could ask her about it!

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Nana loved to write rhyming poems for any occasion (she even put clever rhyming captions  on an entire family photo album). This one was published in a Carson Pirie Scott employee book of some sort (she retired from there after a lengthy career).

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Dancing during the “who’s been married the longest” dance at our wedding.

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Killing the dance floor with me at my sister’s wedding, exactly four years ago tomorrow.

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My top 5 favorite podcasts of 2015

2015 was a year of creative energy for me. I can pinpoint more than a handful of moments when I felt inspired to do or create in very exciting and diverse ways. These moments stand out as personal highlights of the past year, moments I’ve been bursting with enthusiasm, awe and new perspective.

Music, painting, handwriting, food, hiking, photography, sewing, journalism, Gospel understanding… these are all areas I explored or grew in last year with much excitement. One theme stands out in a huge way: storytelling.

It’s just been everywhere for me this year, an appreciation and love for good storytelling and all the many ways stories are told. I’ve studied it, I’ve thought about it, I’ve been taught about it, I’ve practiced it, I’ve come across it, it’s come across me.

One of my favorite places to go for exceptional storytelling is my podcasts app on my phone. It’s no news that 2015 was the year of the podcast—the medium simply exploded. Podcasting is the new blogging and I have no complaints about that.

The art of audio storytelling is so rich. It has given me daily inspiration and fascination in the past year (thanks to a handy cord my in-laws gave me as a Christmas gift last year that lets me plug my phone into my car speakers and listen to podcasts on my commute). I’ve learned so much from my favorite podcasts and been absolutely captivated by many episodes in 2015.

So as I look back on my favorite feeds, here is a list of my top podcasts and episodes of the year. I could gush about all of them and recommend almost every episode, but I narrowed it down to some favorites.

Mystery Show

This podcast is only slightly about mysteries. It’s mostly about people. In each episode, Starlee Kine takes you on an adventure with twists, turns and fascinating conversations. There are only six episodes so far, so you might as well listen to all of them, but my top three are:

Radiolab

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich turn science into story with Radiolab. Although it’s clear that from their perspective, science/evolution/nature are the ruling forces in the world, there are many moments when listening that I so clearly see and marvel at God (they don’t see it that way, but the evidence speaks for itself). This year I feel like the episodes have been hit or miss, but when they hit, they are out of the park. Here are my favorite episodes of the year (admittedly, they are the less-sciency ones):

  • Sight Unseen. I cried walking in to work. This was one of the most moving pieces of radio I’ve heard.
  • The Rhino Hunter. This is the kind of journalism I wish every media outlet would do. It tells a story the headlines do not. Fascinating exploration of the topic of hunting and conservation.
  • La Mancha Screwjob. This was so much fun to listen to. Another peek into a culture I never think about: professional wrestling.
  • Smile My Ass. Another fun episode, about “Candid Camera.”
  • BONUS: Three episodes from 2014 are some of my favorite podcast episodes ever so I have to recommend them: Hello (talking with dolphins), Outside Westgate (the Kenyan mall terrorist attack) and Juicervose (autism).

Reply All

Reply All is a self-proclaimed show about the Internet. It took a while to hook me—I don’t think the storytelling is as gifted as with NPR podcasts, but the stories they uncover are just as interesting. It’s one I always look forward to listening to.

Invisibilia

This quickly became my favorite when it was new. It’s similar to Radiolab, but with awesome female hosts. One episode from its first season stuck with me the most:

This American Life

Just incredible storytelling. Almost never disappoints. Here are a few standouts:

  • Put a Bow on It. Multiple “Hamilton” references, plus it’s just fun.
  • Abdi and the Golden Ticket. So many times I’ve been transported across the globe by a podcast. Excellent example here.
  • NUMMI 2015. I heard bits and pieces of the original NUMMI episode (about a GM and Toyota partnership) back in 2010 and it’s always stuck with me. Still fascinating.
  • Same Bed Different Dreams. Part of it’s about North Korea. Enough said.
  • BONUS: The Radio Drama Episode from 2014 is freaking amazing. It was my first exposure to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work (“Hamilton”) and I still sing the songs in my head.

Honorable mentions go to TED Radio Hour, which always inspires or teaches, and Death, Sex and Money, which I’ve just started to listen to. Oh, and, of course, Serial, but I don’t need to tell you about that one.

What are your favorite podcasts?

 

Kidventures: NEWaukee Night Market

Food, music, art, shopping, “activities” (as I sold it to Corban)… the NEWaukee Night Market is a free open air market that sets up one Wednesday a month from June through September on West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.

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Half our Wednesday evenings are spent with our church Community Group, so it never worked out for us to go last summer. But last month, the market finally fell on a Wednesday we were free, so I marked my calendar well in advance for it.

I’m so glad I did! It was energizing to see that area of downtown–not “bad,” but relatively lifeless for being in the heart of downtown–made vibrant by Milwaukeeans out on a beautiful weeknight enjoying a curated sampling of local culture.

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Had we not had Corban and Mara with us, I would have loved to peruse all the booths of local makers. From what I saw, it was like a classy craft fair, with people selling handmade items that appeal to modern taste.

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Instead, we said hi to Peter’s co-workers at the Pick ‘N’ Save nacho bar (only $1), ate fancy tacos, roasted marshmallows, danced to music, watched an ice sculptor and a painter at work and stumbled upon an outdoor story time hosted by the Milwaukee Public Library.

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I love events like this that are friendly to any age.

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There are two more Night Markets this summer: Wednesday, Aug. 19 and Sept. 16.

This was on my big list of summer fun. See the full list here.

Homemade Strawberry Coconut Lime Popsicles

We’ve been steadily checking items off our big list of summer fun. Today, since the weather was a bit meh and I was feeling estranged from our house, we stayed home and finally got around to making popsicles.

These recipes all sound fancy and fantastic, but it was 7:30 a.m. and I had two tiny helpers, so a real recipe wasn’t going to happen. Here’s what we improvised instead.

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Strawberry Coconut Lime Popsicles
Makes about 8 popsicles

1 can coconut milk
10-15 frozen strawberries
Juice of 1/2 lime
Maple syrup, to taste
Unsweetened, shredded coconut

Do not shake the can of coconut milk before opening. Open and skim off the layer of cream from the top (reserve for another use — like coconut whipped cream!). Add about half the remaining coconut milk, frozen strawberries, lime juice and maple syrup to a blender and blend until smooth, adding more coconut milk if needed. Add a handful of unsweetened coconut flakes and pulse until combined.

Sprinkle a pinch of coconut flakes in the bottom of each popsicle mold and fill each mold with the puree. Insert the popsicle sticks and freeze until hard, about 4 hours. For us, that meant lunchtime!

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Great success!

They aren’t too sweet, but were a huge treat to the kids. Mara mowed hers down to a stump then traded me for the remaining half of my popsicle. Nice move, little one.

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My progress on 100 life goals

I officially have less than one year left in my 20s. This feels big. But also inevitable. And right, I suppose. I mean, I have two kids. I’ll fit right in when I hit my 30s. (I’m certainly not rushing it though!)

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My 29th birthday was one of the best. It fell on Friday, one of my usual days off work. It included doughnuts (hello, National Doughnut Day), a hike with a friend and her kids (Wehr Nature Center — on my big list of summer fun), a massage at The Pfister in the afternoon and dinner with  Peter at Ardent that night. The whole day felt like a mini-vacation.

One of eight (actually more like 10) courses at Ardent. Escargot with garlic puree and parsley cracker, among other things.

One of eight (actually more like 10) courses at Ardent. Escargot with garlic puree, fennel puree, parsley crisp, etc.

30 seems like such a milestone year, and one that people often use as a deadline to accomplish a set of goals. I love hearing about “30 before 30” lists, but I think my 20s have been pretty epic on their own, so I wasn’t planning on tackling one myself.

Then a few weeks ago I came across a list of 100 life goals I wrote my senior year of high school. It was for an assignment in religion class, to simply write down 100 things, large or small, attainable or bold, you want to do in your lifetime. It’s certainly a good picture of what my priorities and passions were at age 17 (six of them related to the musical “Rent”).

I thought it would be fun to assess, roughly 11 years later, how many of those goals I’ve accomplished, how many I still think I have a shot at and how many I no longer have any interest in pursuing (there are quite a few!).

As it turns out, I’ve only solidly accomplished 19 on the list — 20 if I stretch it a tiny bit (which I am). More if I stretch quite a bit (but I won’t). So…

My version of 30 before 30

I’m going to pick out 10 more from my list of 100 goals to try to knock out in the next year. Then I will have completed 30 of my 100 goals by age 30.

Here’s a breakdown of my list. Some of them are truly embarrassing.

Accomplished

1. Study abroad — Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2006

2. Get rush tickets for the touring production of “Rent” — St. Louis

3. Work in a coffee shop

4. Go snowboarding — took a lesson; after half a day still couldn’t make it down the bunny hill without falling

5. Live in the city–any city — Buenos Aires and Milwaukee

6. Throw the best birthday parties for my kids — probably too soon, but counting it anyway

7. Participate in Relay for Life again — shortly after meeting Peter he walked laps around Stankowski Field with me at 2 a.m.

8. Scrapbook the rest of my senior year

9. Learn to crochet or knit — both!

10. Never stop writing — don’t think I could

11. Sing my children to sleep

12. Plant and cultivate a vegetable garden

13. Drink coffee but never become addicted to it — starting to become debatable whether I’m addicted

14. Get to know the person sitting next to me on an airplane

15. Take a photojournalism class

16. Sail on Lake Michigan

17. TP someone’s house — I know this happened at some point in college. Maybe we TP’d our own house? What a terrible life goal!

18. Get a massage

19. Write letters home by snail mail during college

20. Be in the audience of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno — I was in the audience of The Late Show with David Letterman (far inferior, in my opinion) but I’m counting it anyway

To accomplish before age 30

21. Sleep under the stars

22. Keep in touch with Mr. Stracco — high school AP English teacher

23. Help paint a mural

24. Write a song and perform it

25. Run a mile in under 7 minutes

26. Do the splits — if it’s gonna happen, I suppose it’d better happen soon.

27. Take guitar lessons

28. Go to a Reel Big Fish concert — hmm… looks like they will be in Madison this month.

29. See a concert at the House of Blues

30. Watch all of my friends’ favorite movies at least once — I need to decide who will be counted in this elite group considered “all of my friends”

31. (an extra one just in case) Raft down the Colorado river — we are going to Colorado this summer so this could be a possibility

Sort of accomplished

32. Win a photo contest — I was a finalist in one in college

33. Never buy another greeting card; only make them — technically I have bought a card or two over the years, but I still make 95% of them (not counting blank notecards)

34. See “Wicked” on Broadway with Idina Menzel — saw it in Chicago and Milwaukee, but no Broadway/Idina

35. Run a 5K or another race once a year until I’m 75 — I think I may have missed a year or two

36. Be an anchor for the NBC news — I reported for the NBC affiliate in college, but never anchored

37. Always have lip gloss with me — I do usually have some sort of lip balm. You have to understand this absurd goal in the context that I was a lip gloss addict in high school.

38. Have my own column in a newspaper — My grandma Nana used to call my Journal Sentinel cooking blog my “column.”

39. Stay in close touch with my high school best friends — I’m saying “sort-of” to it because while we do keep in touch, it’s probably not the closeness that I anticipated at age 17 when they were my world. This is normal, since none of them live in the same state as me, but I do treasure their friendships and aspire to grow closer to them rather than further apart.

40. Build a house with Habitat for Humanity — I helped paint the interior of a Habitat house…

41. Decorate a house on my own — I mean… yeah-ish, but our house still has a ways to go.

42. Celebrate Crazy Sweater Day every Dec. 5 — this is a holiday I invented when I was 16. I was a crusader for it in college, but it’s sort of slipped into oblivion.

43. Have at least three children — two down…

44. Plant and cultivate a flower garden — I’ve planted flowers in our yard before. I wouldn’t say I’ve cultivated them.

45. Work in the restaurant industry — I worked at a bagel shop and a sandwich shop in college, but I was thinking sit-down restaurant when I wrote the goal.

46. Get published in a magazine before age 20 — I interned for Time Out Buenos Aires for a few weeks before my 20th birthday, but wasn’t published till months later.

Still on the list

47. Finish all the books I haven’t finished reading this year [senior year of high school]

48. Organize all my photos and keepsakes

49. Find and keep a pen pal

50. Sew a quilt

51. Invent a secret recipe for delicious brownies

52. Pass said recipe down to my children and grandchildren

53. Donate an item to the Benet auction [my high school’s annual fundraiser]

54. Ride in a hot air balloon

55. Participate in a triathlon

56. Start a business selling handmade greeting cards

57. Learn all the constellations

58. Teach all the constellations to someone I care about

59. Model for a catalogue — hahaha, but who knows…

60. Go scuba diving

61. Call in to a radio show and get on the air — I kind of don’t want to ever do this, but again, who knows…

62. Teach

63. Direct children’s theatre

64. Visit Riano, Italy, where my grandfather was born

65. Meet at least one original Broadway cast member of “Rent”

66. Accompany someone on piano

67. Be in a commercial

68. Make a beautiful scrapbook for each of my children and present it to them when they graduate high school

69. Photograph my way across Europe — hmmm how much of Europe would this entail?

70. Go camping in the Boundary Waters again

71. Raise a baby chick from egg to adulthood

72. Voice a cartoon character

Um, no

73. Play intramural Frisbee in college — I played pickup games, does that count?

74. Go to Mass each Sunday in college

75. Drive aimlessly around the country without a plan or a map — this no longer sounds fun to me

76. Own a bookshop — bad financial decision

77. Play Belle in a stage production of “Beauty and the Beast” — I wish

78. Rescue an injured wild animal and nurse it back to health — cliche

79. Become fluent in another language (Spanish or Italian) — I think that ship has sailed

80. Run for a political position

81. Be the editor-in-chief of COSMOGirl! magazine — I adored Atoosa

82. Fly an airplane

83. Publish my journals

84. Audition for “Rent”

85. Work on a political campaign

86. Never live in a house with white walls — white is in! None of our walls are white though.

Just good advice

87. Show my family I appreciate them through my actions

88. Be known for my generosity more than anything else

89. Always remember what it’s like to be a kid

90. Wake up early during the summer

91. Never spoil my kids but spoil my grandkids

92. Be able to say, “I am fairly agile. I can bend and not break, or I can break and take it with a smile.” — The Ataris Dashboard Confessional anyone? I still love these lyrics.

93. Marry my soul mate and stay married forever

94. Never miss an opportunity because of laziness

95. Listen more than I talk

Ridiculous

96. Talk to Todd, the Starbucks employee at Barnes and Noble — ???

97. Capture the majesty of a gothic cathedral in words

98. Put a flower on Jonathan Larson’s grave — he’s the creator of “Rent”

99. Get back the roll of film confiscated from me when I saw “Rent” tonight

100. Maintain my undefeated chess record — I had played one game when I wrote this list

101. Have something I say become a famous quote

102. Burn incense and write poetry on the roof of an apartment with a view of the lit up city of San Francisco at night — LOL. This does sound nice, though.

103. Give a homeless person the last, crumpled ten dollar bill from my pocket — dramatic much?

104. Meet someone from the “Rent” message boards — major LOLs

Conclusions after typing up and reading this list:

-I guess it was 104 goals.

-Can you tell I like(d) performing?

-Can you tell I’m right-brained?

-This pretty much sums me up at age 17.

So the countdown begins! I’ll keep you posted as I hopefully cross off the next 10 goals from the list before my next birthday.

Kidventures: Family Kite Festival

We’ve checked a few small things off our summer to-do list so far. Hit up the New Berlin farmers market, went to one of Peter’s softball games, bought tickets for SummerStage, booked a massage (for my birthday tomorrow afternoon!). A few other things are plotted out.

Fly kites at the lakefront was on the list, and the other weekend we did the next best thing: watched other people fly kites at the Family Kite Festival.

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It was a gorgeous morning to be at Lake Michigan, in part because there wasn’t much wind. Probably not exactly what the kite festival organizers were hoping for.

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But we were able to enjoy the sun and water.

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And a gigantic bubble machine!

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Corban took hold of my DSLR camera (with the strap around his neck) and shot some photos.

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I took some photos myself as we sauntered around.

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And by late morning, the wind started to pick up a bit, and the sky began to fill with kites.

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We left just as the crowds and wind were picking up, but it was still a perfect Milwaukee spring morning.