Kid-friendly science with Grandpa

We made a quick trip to Wisconsin last month for my dad’s 60th birthday and one of the highlights was a visit to his lab. Jax was thrilled to help with some experiments and is still talking about them. My dad also gave us some ideas of experiments we can do ourselves with common household staples, so the fun continues!

Animal GalleryLooking at a very large crab on display in the halls of the biology building.


Experiment #1: Dry Ice. What happens to it in water? Is the smokey stuff hot or cold?IMG_5695

Adding warm water made even more vapor.



IMG_5638Watching the stirring machine.

Jax left the lab with his very own flask and a couple of plastic test tubes. Here are some experiments we’ve been able to do right here in our kitchen:

Fizzy Whizzy!: Add vinegar to baking soda and watch what happens.
Which one floats?: Pour olive oil into a flask and then add water. Which liquid is on top? Put the top on, flip it over, and see if it stays that way. This was a huge hit, and got Jax thinking about other liquids to try. He is thinking like a scientist!

This board on Pinterest has many more exciting and elaborate experiments to try, too.


Blog changes

Hello, old friend!

I’ve finally made some long-overdue changes to the blog: I first started CraftyRachel after quickly coming up with a descriptive title for what I was up to: crafting of various kinds (including stuff for our wedding, and then a baby, and then a dissertation…) But I had always hoped to come up with something a tad less literal. Putting together a bunch of stuff to sell at a friend’s craft show last month finally gave me a deadline and an incentive to make a change and sort of re-brand myself. After a lot of brainstorming, one image kept returning: a color wheel. It’s bright and bold and unending and varying and unified and full of possibility. Since “colorwheel” was not available, I went with the French (roue de couleur), which was. Both the and sites take you to the same root site,

Oil Pastels

I have ornaments and menorahs and kites to talk about. And of course news from the little boys in my life, Jax and Ben. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

~ Rachel

Kendra + Jared

We just got back from a week in Ohio having fun at many wedding festivities in honor of my brother-in-law Jared and new sister-in-law Kendra! Now it’s back to the madness of teaching summer school and those final dissertation revisions/edits/additions/rewrites (did I mention I am submitting it to my committee in about a month? and defending in mid-September?!) But let’s relive some of that wedding fun in pictures now, shall we?

Rehearsal Dinner:

Wedding Day:


Bike, Bike, Bike

Jax walks up to the garage (door closed), points and says “bike….biiiiike…” until we open it up and bring out the tricycle. He is big enough to reach the pedals, but doesn’t quite understand the mechanism yet. No matter, he has a blast!

It may be the best $5 we’ve spent at a tag sale.

Happy Monday!

Celebrating a 2-month birthday in Vancouver

We have been enjoying Vancouver – it’s a fun and beautiful city, and this afternoon we’re heading for the mountains at Whistler for a ski weekend. Jax has a brand new snowsuit for the occasion, which makes an appearance at the end of the slideshow. Even though today is not Canadian Thanksgiving, we’re bringing pumpkin pie for the holiday. and hot chocolate. and popcorn. and wine. Can’t wait!

Here’s a link to the better resolution version of the slideshow. (Great for throwing on your iPods and iPhones family!)

Some Things About Me

I’m it! I’ve been tagged by Andrea to complete the sentences below. Betcha didn’t know all of these things about me.

1. My uncle once: barbecued with an apron on but no shirt.

2. Never in my life: will I go sky-diving.

3. When I was five: I went to Culver City Presbyterian Nursery School in Los Angeles.

4. High school was: at first stressful, and then lots of fun.

5. I will never forget: the smell of the Manhattan air on September 11.

6. Once I met: Dee Snider

7. Thereā??s this girl I know: who will do any favor you ask.

8. Once, at a bar: I saw Monica Lewinsky hanging out with some girlfriends.

9. By noon, Iā??m usually: finished with tutoring and craving Thai food.

10. Last night: Seth and I had the most delicious seafood meal. (We’re trying to squeeze in some “dates.”)

11. If only I had: the money to pay off my friends’ and sisters’ student loans.

12. Next time I go to church: will probably be the next time we visit my best friend, Grace (who also happens to be a pastor).

13. What worries me most: is that something will happen to me or Seth.

14. When I turn my head left I see: a blank wall (we need some art in here).

15. When I turn my head right I see: Seth blogging at his desk with his beloved 30″ monitor.

16. You know Iā??m lying when: I say I liked the pizza even though it had anchovies on it.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is: my Cyndi Lauper tape.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare Iā??d be: hmmm…the Bard’s editor? I don’t think I’m suicidal or dramatic enough to make the cut.

19. By this time next year: our baby will be learning how to walk and talk.

20. A better name for me would be: Dr. Rachel; I’m working on that.

21. I have a hard time understanding: how hating people will get you into heaven.

22. If I ever go back to school, Iā??ll: become a lawyer.

23. You know I like you if: I’ve told you about this blog.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be: Seth.

25. Take my advice, never: try to hail a cab between 4:30 and 5pm. A black hole sucks them all up during those 30 minutes.

26. My ideal breakfast is: a cinnamon raisin bagel with plain cream cheese.

27. A song I love but do not have is: “You’ve got a friend” by James Taylor

28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest you: go for a walk or ride along Lake Michigan.

29. Why wonā??t people: say “excuse me?”

30. If you spend a night at my house: you’ll be sleeping on the floor because our hide-a-bed couch still hasn’t been delivered.

31. Iā??d stop my wedding for: a hurricane.

32. The world could do without: PVC.

33. Iā??d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: the belly of a tarantula.

34. My favourite blonde(s) is/are: Grace, my grandma, my cousin Charleen.

35. Paper clips are more useful than: ball-point pens, because you can take out your iPhone SIM card with a bent paper clip.

36. If I do anything well itā??s: organizing small spaces

37. And by the way: I tag Grace!

Cavity-Free Gingerbread House

Interactive Gingerbread House

What do you think about my gingerbread house? I made it with allsort‘s “Home Sweet Home” interactive gingerbread house program. It’s a fun way to participate in the age-old Christmas tradition without the guilt of eating it all up (or letting all that candy go to waste)! Designed for kids, but surprisingly addictive for adults, too.

Check it out here.