Clara and Nicolyn recently celebrated their 10th birthday. Yay! Their birthday treat of choice was a baked Alaska, which they had seen on a cooking show, and Jenelle was kind enough to make one. It had a cake layer, an ice cream layer, and a meringue layer. It is the first and most likely the last baked Alaska for the Vance family. But not the last birthday celebration!
On Saturday Clara and Nicolyn learned what it’s like to be hiker time travelers. Having finished their Saturday chores early, they got to go on a hike with Jonathan. Their destination was Coal Creek, which is a surprisingly peaceful park and hiking area in the middle of a major metropolitan area.
The hike was not only beautiful, but also historical. In the 19th century, a coal mine on this site produced many tons of coal for the young-but-booming city of Seattle. Although the Industrial Revolution has since moved elsewhere, there are signs along the trail of what things used to be like: foundations for a power plant and other buildings, an air shaft for one of the old mines, remains of a locomotive turntable, and other things.
What Clara and Nicolyn perhaps liked the most was being outside and enjoying the spring weather by looking for cool rocks, swatting dandelions, and bragging about their phone conversations with Sasquatch (he calls Clara to ask for recipes, she says).
The Little Women awoke this morning to find 5+ inches of snow on the ground, which is a real treat for a temperate place like suburban Seattle. Of course, under such circumstances, school could not go on. The kids all went outside to play in the snow, though Annika declared herself bored by 10 AM.
Clara and Nicolyn, however, made the most of the snow: playing snow dogs, eating snow, trying to sled on a “hill” that was not steep enough for sledding, and building snow things like this one:
The snow will soon disappear, but the memories will linger.
The Little Women are pleased to announce a new online museum where their readers and fans can see some of their finest works, many of which were previously available only in exclusive private collections (i.e., the living rooms of their relatives).
The exhibits will be updated periodically and are available here. Happy browsing!
The Seattle housing market may be cooling down, but the gingerbread market was warming up at the Vance house last night. The Little Women unleashed their creative talents on some blank gingerbread canvases from Ikea.
All of the houses now have a place of honor next to the Christmas tree.
This year they took a page from Henry Ford’s playbook and assembled the cards in an assembly line. They also adapted his philosophy on customer choice, namely, “Our friends and family can have any Christmas card they want, as long as it’s this one:”
In recent weeks Nicolyn has been honing her sewing skills. Here are two quilts that she made herself.
Last week the Little Women enjoyed an extended visit from some special guests on Jonathan’s side of the family: their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, and their nine cousins (plus Aunt Aubrey’s dog). As part of giving their visitors a taste of the Pacific Northwest, they reprised last summer’s hike in Wallace Falls State Park.
The 5.4-mile hike helped everyone sleep a little better that night. Hopefully the guests will come back for more hikes in the future.
And now for a very belated report about how the Little Women spent their Christmas break. The short answer is that they spent it in Germany, the place where Jonathan would gladly spend every Christmas.The week before Christmas they flew into Frankfurt, where they met up with Aunt Aubrey. (This is important because during the trip Aunt Aubrey introduced them to many life-changing activities, like taking selfies, posing for photos with statues, and doing facials in your hotel room.) Their short time in Frankfurt allowed them to visit Christmas markets in the old part of town and also see Mainz, the old stomping grounds of Johannes Gutenberg.
After a couple of days they took a train to Dresden, in the eastern part of Germany. Having previously spent Christmas in Dresden, the Little Women knew that a great Christmas market was waiting there for them, along with beautifully restored buildings. On Christmas Day they visited the historic and beautiful cities of Görlitz and Bautzen.
Once Christmas Day was over, the Little Women packed up their growing stash of holiday treats and took the train north to Berlin. While there was much to like about Berlin (what with the girls’ love for hip European capitals), their favorite part about the city was the fantastic breakfast that the hotel served every morning.
With December drawing to a close, they whisked back to Frankfurt to spend one more night there before flying home. When the plane touched down in Seattle, the Little Women had great Christmas memories, and Jenelle and Jonathan still had their sanity, so it must have been a fantastically successful trip.
More pictures are here.