DIY Holiday Gift Ideas Under Five Dollars

This year I've decided to try and make as many holiday gifts as possible. Over the next few weeks I will be posting the things we've made:
** Spoiler Alert** 
If you're someone we know 'in real life' reading on may cause you to see your present prior to actually getting it.  

The monkeys mixed up cement- We bought a bag at the hardware store for under three dollars 

 I used recycled cookie tins to pour the cement in- then we used glass beads I bought in the craft section of a big box store for under three dollars

 One of these Stepping Stones is for our neighbor and we added their doggies paw prints and wrote his name.

We actually have a bunch of Stepping Stones in our yard that we've made as Father's Day gifts with the kids hand prints- They are great for walk ways, in gardens, in front of BBQ's and we have some around our pool equipment area- 


Marble Drop With Triple Vortex

I guess the marble drop is becoming an annual event- Here is the one we made last year.
This year the monkeys had the genius idea of using these cones, which I have no idea where they got- 
I suppose it would be easy to make them using paper- They loved the anticipation of waiting for the marble to fall and thus the game engaged them for longer. 
We made this marble drop using the cones, recycled egg cartons, gift wrapping cardboard tubes and lots of tape. Egg cartons were numbers at the bottom and points assigned to each cup- 

We have a large mirror which they used- last year they used a window door- makes the tape removal less damaging- 
Do your monkeys love to make marble drops? 


California Academy Of Science

The only place on the planet where you can explore an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum under one living roof.

The Rainforests Of The World is a climate controlled sphere within the building. 
Visitors enter at the base of the rainforest and continue upwards.
The floor of the rainforest displays animals found there- snakes, insects, lizards, spiders etc. 

As you move upwards you see the animals that live in the canopy- free flying birds and butterflies-

From the top of the sphere an elevator takes you to the base- where the aquarium and over 2,000 reef fish dart about the Technicolored forest of coral. 

 There is a really cool area where visitors are able to touch and examine marine life through a microscope  which transmits the images on a TV screen above. 

I thought this exhibit was pretty cool:

The living roof houses over two and a half acres of native California plants: 

The natural history museum houses African penguins which the monkeys loved- they had a 'show' where they fed the penguins which was a highlight. 

The planetarium had a great show narrated by Jodi Foster- I have not been to a planetarium since I was in HS seeing Led Zeppelin laser shows- not any less trippy and made me a bit dizzy. 

What is your favorite Natural History Museum? 
Did you see laser shows at the planetarium? 


Shelter Cove

In the 1920's, when they built the Coast Highway in northern California, engineers decided that a stretch of the coast, from northern Mendocino County- through Humboldt County, was too rugged to make a road.  
Thus, an expanse of magnificent coast line soon became isolated and hard to get to- this is now referred to as the 'Lost Coast'.
There is a small community called Shelter Cove which is located about 45 minutes away from Garberville in southern Humboldt County.  

We spent a lovely day watching the Harbor Seals and Sea Lions (above Dr. J is taking photos of them on the rock beyond).  We spotted many different types of birds, sea otters, hermit crabs, fish, and even an eel. 

In the several hours we spent at the beach picnicking and exploring the tide pools we only saw two other people- it was beautiful and serene- I am so glad they left this small part of the California coast undeveloped.  

Have you ever visited the Lost Coast?
What is the most secluded beach you have been to? 


Redwood Forests

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to visit Redwood Forests- There are several state parks in Northern California where old growth trees are preserved- These trees are the oldest trees IN THE WORLD.
'Majestic' does not even do it justice.  
The four of us walked among these giants and many times would just exclaim- 'These are the oldest trees in the world'.  The feeling of the life within these trees is palpable.
We visited Humboldt County Redwood State Park- Our journey began at Founders Grove- 
The greatest accumulation of plant mass ever recorded on earth is here- This area has seven times the biomass (living and dead organic material) of that found in a tropical rainforest.  
An ancient forest is defined as having: 
Trees of all ages, many layers of canopy, large standing dead trees, large downed logs, trees over 200 years old. 
A long time ago, fossil records show that redwoods grew naturally in various parts of North America- due to climate change they naturally grow in just a narrow strip- 40 miles wide and 450 miles long- along the West coast from southern Oregon to southern California.
Redwoods are so big that they actually live in three climatic zones at once- The base of each tree is in one set of climatic conditions, the stem in an other and the crown in yet another.  

This tree is the famous Dyerville Giant- 
Approximately 1600 years old- The Dyerville Giant was the largest recorded tree recognized by the American Foresters Association.
It was hit by lightning and fell on March 24th, 1991-
It is two feet taller than Niagara Falls or comparable to a 30 story building.
Weights over 1,000,000 pounds.
Here is a tree that was hit by lightning and the burn marks are still visible.
We also hiked at Rockefeller Forest where Giant Tree is located-

There are two types of needles on the forest floor-
The needles that come from the tops of the trees have tight scale like spikes which reduce evaporation surfaces for the drier conditions found in that climate zone. 
The needles growing lower on the tree have broader and flatter surface to catch more sunlight. 

We saw a lot of different wildlife in the forest-
These slugs were like nothing I had ever seen before!
Redwood Sorrel

Have you ever been to see the Redwoods?
Do you love the smell of a forest? 


New Twist On A Regular

The uniform I wear consists of a scarf.  I love my big pashmina's and wear them fall through winter.
I didn't realize how boring my scarf wearing was until I saw this video- My usual is the European Loop- or Wrap when I wear it indoors- What is your 'usual'?

In my sister in law's words- she is so frikin cute I could eat her-
I am going to try the Infinity and the Braid such great looks.
Which knots are you excited to try?


this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember


Umbrella Coat

We live in the desert but I've had my share of run-in's with rain.  Growing up in Toronto, one of the worst weather issues is when it is 'freezing cold' but just above freezing, so when it rains it sticks in slushy clumps.  
I never understood umbrellas- after going through the effort of holding it- I always end up wet anyway.
When I saw this article about the Umbrella Coat I thought it is genius- 

The hood of this jacket, designed by Greek designer Athanasia Leivaditou, converts into a clever 'hands free' umbrella.  There are pull strings, similar to a sweatshirt hood, that prevent the hood from popping inside out- another hazard of umbrellas.  
The innovation does not stop there- in case of a monsoon or major down pour- your rain coat can convert into a full length jumper! 
Would you wear this?
Do you like rain?


Artist: Jesus Bravo

Jesus Bravo's exhibit: Abstract Works is a collaboration of mixed media collage with  found objects art.   
His large canvases are thought provoking and require a degree of dissection to isolate contemporary and past corporate logos, capitalist imagery and American propaganda.  

Collage is a major component of Mr. Bravo's work, a medium I find particularly interesting as there is always the chance of seeing familiar design in a refreshing context.

Many of his works have a dark ominous, look and feel to them, yet when taken in detail are nonthreatening 'found items'- such as candy wrappers and bingo cards.  
I enjoy his use of painted lace as a metaphoric veiling of symbols, representative of money, corporations and perhaps greed.

From the Artist Statement: 
"This body of work is not representational and does not  adhere to a formal constructive methodology...I feel the viewer can be rewarded by ultimately drawing a personal critique...of exploration, self awareness and discovery."

Do you enjoy collage art?

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