Friday, December 4, 2009


Well, it's another late post - but better late than never. Here are some photos from Cece's Belt test. She is taking karate at Tiger Martial Arts on Portsmouth Blvd. They are not associated with any of the other schools and I'm not even sure if they are certified, but I do know that Cece loves it. Here's a photo I took right after she earned her yellow belt. She is holding the board of wood that she broke with a kick.

Dirk and I were not excited about karate, this was all Cece's idea. She decided she wanted to try it last June and we didn't think it was a good idea to discourage her. We signed her up for a one month trial. She has been going for a little over 6 months and is doing so well. She is stronger, more confident and very serious.

See, very serious - but I can still get her to smile.

Another good kick from belt testing night.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Well, it's a bit late - but here are a few Halloween photos. Cece wanted to be a witch so we went to Joanns' and she picked out the pattern, the fabric and all the trim. Here's a photo from her party at school.

Here's a photo from the front of the house - notice the new house color and how it just clashes with Cece's wig.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer is over . . .

We came home from a month of semi-vacation in New York and school is here, today is the first day. Cece was so excited, she woke up at 3 am and then at 4 am and again at 5:30 just chomping at the bit to get ready. She even wanted to stage her leaving for school photo. She decided it would be best by the front door with her bookbag and her book report in a bag and an extra red book (the book because she thought it would look better).

I took these photos with our new Sony Cybershot. We had to buy a new camera because both Canon Powershots stopped working. The new Sony received great reviews on CNET and seems like a great camera, but the photos just seem not crisp - not blurry, but like airbrushed or something.

We also took our homemade kayak for its maiden voyage this past Friday. These photos were taken with a disposable camera that truly inspired us to get out and buy the Sony Cybershot. I forgot how annoying it is to not be able to see a preview of your shot on the LCD and how much trouble it is to go and get your film developed. So here's the Yost kayak on the Subaru.

Now for the first test, will it float? Actually, it did and the boat was completely dry inside. I got to try paddling the kayak first. It was so fast compared to the blue banana, our inflatable. It did seem really tippy as I paddled, but I don't really have much experience in any other kayak.

Dirk also took a turn. He had some trouble getting in, but once his legs were stretched out, it looked like he fit. One problem is the foot braces, we placed them so I would use the uppermost setting and he would use the last setting. I was very comfortable, but he felt like he needed more room. I guess that is what you get when you share a kayak with someone a foot taller than you.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A few weekends ago we went paddling around the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. There were herons everywhere!! We even saw a shark feeding and thrasher in the shallow water. When we paddled up to it, it seemed to be about 6 feet long when compared with our 15 foot kayak. We didn't get any photos of it.

It was amazing to see them flying.

We saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree near its nest.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We decided to spend Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend kayaking at Munden Point Park in Virginia Beach. The weather said 10% chance of showers, but it drizzled for most of the time we were out. We put in at the canoe dock and paddled to the right. Cece finally decided to be more than just a passenger - such concentration.

We paddled in and out of cypress filled inlets much like Horn Point. It was very nice and very quiet. There were wild irises blooming all along the waterline.

We also saw some yellow primrose. I love that it grows in the smallest amount of dirt just nestled between the tree roots.

This turtle let us get so close. I know turtles aren't that unique, but to see creatures in their natural habitat feels like you are being let in on a secret that no one else takes the time to notice.

A kayak update. It's framed - twice. For a more detatiled update check MyKayakDiary.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Now when someone asks me what I do for a living - I can say boat builder. Well that might be an exaggeration, but I did start the construction of a skin on frame kayak. My husband found offset tables and tons of photos on Yostwerks, all for free.

I did have some difficulty finding someone with painfully explicit instructions, everyone just assumes you know what you're doing. So I thought I would document how a beginner did it without a kit or any real solid, step-by-step instructions. You can find all my mistakes at MyKayakDiary if you're interested.

I have drawn and cut out my cross sections and my husband has already found a mistake. One of the cut outs for the gunwhale on cross section 5 is too big. Luckily I walked into the garage and found my husband had glued a block in and now it's fixed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My daughter's school has an auction every year to raise money for extras. This year they decided each grade should donate a basket to the event. Most grades pooled their money and purchased a big ticket item like a camera or a game boy, first grade did not. People just sent in random gift certificates with no particular theme in mind. Mostly, parents sent in restaurant gift cards so the only common thread was go out and have a good time. Here's the finished basket.

I love it. I know it's not really a basket, but it's just so cute. An entire paper kitchen, even down to the milk in the refrigerator. My daughter loved it, here are her Calico Critters enjoying breakfast. Very interesting that the groom is reading while the bride is having a conversation.

It wasn't very hard to make the kitchen, just very time consuming. Each item had to be cut out, scored, folded, and then glued - but it was so worth it. I sandwiched shirt cardboard between the inside and outside walls and the floor for a better structure and I decided to leave the roof off because there wasn't enough light in the room.

This kitchen was a free pdf from this great website Paper Museum with all these different paper items to print out and put together. The website is in Japanese, but the pictures are pretty self-explanatory. There are so many rooms to print out and if you click on the icons in the left menu, like the fork or the bus, there are even more things to print out and put together! Very exciting if you are me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This weekend we decided to go back to Horn Point because we had such a good time last weekend. We didn't see fish jumping everywhere, we saw a few - but nothing like last week. We chose to paddle left and up through Muddy Creek.

Dirk's parents were in town for the weekend and they came with us.

It was so completely different than all the inlets around Big Bend. Instead of tall grasses and reeds with muddy banks, we were surrounded by huge cypress trees. It was amazing that the landscape changed so much.

The cypress tree roots grew out of the water like drip sand castles.

We even saw little turles warming themselves in the sun.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our second family kayak trip. Kayaking has always been Dirk's hobby, something I thought I could tolerate and be with him while he enjoyed it. After 2 trips I think it's fun. It's relaxing and nothing happens very quickly so it's not very stressful. But anyway, we drove out to the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge and put in at the Horn Point Kayak Launch. We paddled to the left and hugged the coastline to Big Bend.

We saw giant carp everywhere. They were between 1 and 2 feet long and so active. We found them mostly in the shallows amongst the reeds. The reeds were amazing, they were about 5 or 6 feet tall and as the wind blew through them - they made music.

We also saw long nose gar - very prehistoric looking. Cece stood up to get a better look.

This turtle popped his head up for a moment, but then the carp circled and jumped him.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The maiden voyage of the blue banana. We took the inflatable kayak for our first family kayak trip on Saturday. To be honest, it was surprisingly uneventful. No one fell in and there were no meltdowns - a comlpete success in my book. Cece spent most of the trip lounging in the middle.

Dirk found this amazing website called Kayak Virginia Beach. This individual has completely catalogued all the local launch sites with tons of photos. After much reading, we chose to put in at Bennetts Creek Park in Sufflok, VA and the paddle out about an hour and a half. We left the beach at low tide, so we could see all of the fiddler crabs along the shoreline. We saw great blue herons and egrets. Here's an egret standing in the mud.

We also saw an osprey's nest. The female was in the nest, presumably protecting her eggs, and the male was circling to warn us.

Friday, April 17, 2009

We love papier mache. It is so neat to be able to create 3 dimensional objects out of just cardboard and masking tape. We even made a fourth creation, an apatosaurus for Cece's school play. Her teacher sent home a popsicle stick with the instructions to create a puppet. I am fairly certain that this is not what she had in mind but it was Cece's idea, not mine. Here's Cece feeding her apatosaurus some cilantro out on the sun porch.

Now it's time to paint all of the creations. Cece did most of the painting, but she did let me help just a little.

So, here's the crew. They have been painted and decorated with shells and jewels, justing waiting for more friends to join them.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Inspired by Middleburg, a great Etsy shop, we decided to create papier mache sculptures. After some research with Google, we found that there really aren't very specific instructions for creating sculptures. We decided to make our armatures (as some people call them) out of Q-tips, cottonballs, thin cardboard, toiletpaper tubes and lots and lots and lots of masking tape.

Cece decided to make a fairy and a princess and I made a mermaid. After our armatures were done, we set about to make the paste. I mixed about 3 cups of flour to an equal amount of water. What a mess, maybe next time we should do this in the garage.

After about 4 or 6 layers, our girls were done. The princess never got covered - but there's always next time. Now we just have to wait for them to dry.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The evolution of a sewing frame. I have wanted to sew books with raised supports for awhile. After buying Keith Smith's third volume, I decided to build the frame he described. Here is a photo of it - not so impressed. Granted, I did not follow the instructions exactly, but still I thought I could do better for just a few dollars more.
Here is the next try. I removed the wooden crossbar and replaced it with a turnbuckle from Home Depot. Then I suspended eye bolts through the channel down the center of the turnbuckle. I used wing nuts so I could adjust the tension of the supports. I had a problem with the length of the channel in the turnbuckle - too short, but that's the largest one I could find. Also, I cut an elliptical curve so the edge of the book would line up with the suspended eye bolts.
I needed to find something with a longer channel. I couldn't find a larger turnbuckle so I decided to try and find something else. It took some time walking up and down the aisles at the hardware store, but I finally found what I was looking for. I tried some U-bolts connected to some threaded rod with threaded metal couplings. All in all, 2 U-bolts, 4 couplings and some threaded rod cost less than $8. The whole sewing frame cost less than $10. Now let's see what I can sew.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My daughter's Sunday School is having a Purim sculpture contest. The instructions said that all sculptures should be made from only recyclables. After a quick Google search for trash art, we found these really neat shadow sculptures. So after much discussion, some imagination and about 20 glue sticks for the hot glue gun, here's what we ended up with.

What do you think? Can you see Queen Esther in the shadows? I think we should have built her in separate planes, but Cece wouldn't go for it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Our new kayak arrived in the mail, a giant blue inflatable banana! It's a 15 foot long, tandem seat kayak that the three of us can all use together - but I don't plan on paddling much. It's called the Trinity II and it's made by the AIRE kayak company, but only available online through

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Well, it's happened. Cece asked me to make her a spring dress to wear to school and she wore it. I'm shocked. My mom will be comlpetely and utterly amazed.

I actually had this secret sense of pride to see her wearing something I made. I make things all the time. I make books, sew blankets, and even bake my own bread, but I made a dress. A dress is so useful and practical and this one even has a little cranberry pom pom trim around the bottom. Of course Cece had total design control. She chose the design, the fabric and the trim. I don't think she would have had it any other way.

My daughter wants me to make more dresses, she even has the fabric picked out. I made this dress from a pattern I purchased from an Esty shop called LittleDresses.