Wintry Wishes

xo JA2

She’s Crafty


Alice participated in the Student Craft and Food Fair at her school yesterday, featuring kids selling their kid make creations. This sort of event is right up this girl’s alley. She spent hours preparing for the sale making dog treats, pinecone bird feeders, and signs. All day she asked over and over about when the sale was going to start. Alice sold out of dog treats first followed by the bird feeders before the event was even over. She’s got big plans for her earnings and it should be a very Merry Christmas for Pearl!




The craft fair was a fun success and those kids were stoked! They proudly displayed their wares, making deals, and dropping prices. There were lots of cool kid crafted treasures. Slime was a popular product. We came home with goodies, a stocking for Pearl, earrings, and ornaments. It took some work but those students were full of pride at creating and vending their homemade wares. And of course there were moms, dads, grandparents and the like behind the scenes!


This girl is a true entrepreneur. She begs us on the daily to let her have sales in the driveway and has been bringing ‘Pet Watcher’ posters everywhere we go to spread the word out about her latest business plan. The lady at the movie rental place (yeah, don’t be jealous, McCall has one) even let her tape her poster prominently in the window next to McPaws, oh happy day.


But her enthusiasm is contagious and we’re all too happy to support it (within reason, let’s hope we don’t get a bunch of calls…or any).


Jared put together this video of Alice explaining how to make pinecone bird feeders so everyone can get in on the fun! I apologize in advance for the videographer skills, I’m sure I’ll have opportunities for more practice.

And if you’re interested in making your own dog treats, here’s the recipe we used from our trusty Ultimate Kid Connection book.



Alice and Pearl both approve these tasty treats!

Hobin Remodel – Part 1

Note: This post was a long time coming and seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t start it…until now. And for those of you who don’t already know our “story”, check it out! We moved from what we considered a busy life to deliberately slow things down near the mountains that we love. Although, when we began this project we had no idea that years later, we’d actually live, full-time, in this very home.    

The Exterior:

This time of year, seven years ago, we acquired our own piece of McCall with the purchase of the Hobin (Home + Cabin). At the time, we were working and living in Boise but spent much of our time, especially winters, in and around this area.

The house we ended up buying wasn’t at all the dream cabin we imagined. Our friend and realtor, Shelly DeMoss, showed us the listing multiple times before we actually looked inside. After remodeling our home in Boise, we definitely were not looking for another project. But finally we decided that the price, location, and size might be right for us. And once the process was complete…we were beyond excited to have our own place in McCall!

The Hopkins Family (circa 2010)

The place was ugly. There’s no other way to describe the worn out and faded siding and crumbling brick entry. But the inside was nice and totally livable, especially for a cabin. That winter we spent powder days at Brundage and evenings shoveling snow from the garage to the front door. It didn’t take long to realize this part of the house  needed help.



After an epic first winter, we tackled the exterior the following summer starting with the siding.


We put corrugated metal along the base of the house primarily for protection from snow but also because we liked the look. The wood siding along the top ended up being in decent shape so we reused as much of the original material as possible.

The summer of 2011 wound down and we got the news of our lives. We found out we  would welcome a baby in the spring! We already planned to remodel the roofline by adding gables and extending the roof between the entry and garage, so that phase began that fall.

We contracted our friend Clint (Capital Construction) to help with the project. He and his dog Max stayed with us some of the time during the project. It was a bit concerning, at least for me, when fall set in. Jeff and his crew from Owyhee Roofing, installed the roof in the cold and snow!

And so, by early November the bulk of the remodel was complete. Just a few finishing touches we happily put off until the following summer.


Jared and Clint also took down a lodgepole to make room between the front and side driveway.

Fast forward a few months…and voila! A brand new daughter!

Luckily, we spent most of that summer at the Hobin. So, we finished up the exterior and recruited friends to help plant trees and shrubs in the yard. I must say, it felt pretty good when a few McCall locals stopped to tell us how nice the place looked!

Mathias and Hopkins…getting it done!


And the Hobin as it looks now!

photo bomber!

* stay tuned for Part 2: The Interior

Foster Fam

Ron, Hermione, and little Harry

Alice’s dream came true recently when McPaws contacted us to foster kittens. She’s literally trained for this and takes the role very seriously. We’d been on the list for a while, but pretty much forgot about fostering once school started.

Then the ‘Harry Potter’ kittens entered our home and our hearts. Harry, Hermione, and Ron..two fluffy and one tiny guy with white paws (Alice’s fave). We found out after the first week of watching them we had the names mixed up on the males. It’s hard not to call the little guy Ron still.

Pretty neat to watch these kitties grow and change in just a few short weeks. Even sweeter to watch Alice tend to them. She makes sure they are all safe and accounted for and even fancied up their dwelling with artwork. Pearl (our McPaws rescue dog!) LOVES the kittens. She licks them, acts as a jungle gym, and keeps track of them too. Right now they have each other and they pretty much wrestle and chase, snuggle and snooze, and of course eat voraciously filling the small cat box everyday. That part is getting old.


Foster programs are just one component of animal rescue but essentially the role of a foster family is to protect and encourage normal growth and development of very young  animals. The goal is to place well-adjusted, healthy companion pets with loving homes.

It’s been an experience. And even though they’re naughty and Jared’s allergies are going crazy, we’d probably do it again.

If you’ve been considering a kitty, look no further. These kittens are fearless and unbearably cute. They love dogs and people and will make great cats. Ron (who we called Harry) is ready for adoption now and these two littles will be soon.


You should totally adopt one! (or any other sweet cat or dog from your local shelter 😉




Party of Three

Lordy, Lordy…


This milestone birthday called for a weekend long celebration and a party in the woods. Fishing, four-wheel, and cruising the backcountry on the Trail 90…the perfect way to celebrate our man and welcome fall.


Happy Birthday, we love you.



And just like that…

…she’s in kindergarten.



Summer Road Trip…to Bellingham, WA!


We set off from Boise for our annual road trip! Bound for Gig Harbor, Alice and Noble would stay and enjoy some quality cousin time while Jared and I head North to Bellingham to celebrate 20 years together (12 years married).

1st leg: BOI to Yakima, WA

We opted to break up the drive and camp near Yakima. It was hot and the campground was …eh, so we went to Cowiche Canyon Kitchen & Icehouse for an early dinner. I love using Yelp to find good, local places to eat when traveling.

IMG_7616Then, back to camp where we set-up, rode bikes, found some feral kittens, played games (Noble is a master at Slamwich), and “camped”.


2nd leg: Yakima to The Gig


Jackson Bridge over the Tacoma Narrows is the landmark that tells us we’re getting close to Gig Harbor, WA. We have some ‘cousin combos’ in our family and Cooper’s matching cousin is Alice. They look like siblings but protest any stranger who says so. We enjoyed some backyard fun, relaxation, and a boat ride through Gig Harbor and under the Narrows bridge. The view of Mount Rainier, sunshine and sand dollars, and kids daring to jump into the ocean, all highlights from a perfect afternoon on the water.

Cooper and Alice

3rd leg: Gig Harbor to B-Ham

Jared and I bid farewell to the cousin crew and set off with our mountain bikes for Bellingham. We met up with cousin Ned (who’s not really our cousin) and Amanda who graciously welcomed us with a fine dinner overlooking Bellingham Bay (from their porch!). After dinner, we walked through the dark woods to Lake Padden, at sunset!


Ned recruited his teacher team (plus 10 yr old Rudy!) to show us their favorite mountain bike trails at Galbraith and Chuckanut mountains. Bellingham’s trails = epic single-track with natural and man-made features through beautiful coastal forests.

And no road trip is complete until you find the best places to eat and drink. Bellingham did not disappoint and again, having local input made it easier to sample and taste what B-Ham has to offer.


We stayed in a cute little old Airbnb house in the Lettered Streets neighborhood where we could see the bay, hear the trains, and get a feel for what it might feel like to live here. We even took a short ferry ride to Lummi Island for a romantic little bike tour! Bellingham is beautiful.



4th leg: Back to the Gig

We took a different route back to Gig Harbor via the Coupeville to Port Townsend ferry (another great suggestion from B-Ham locals). The drive across Deception Pass, which separates Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, was breathtaking. If you ever venture in these parts, stop at Butcher and Baker Provisions in Port Gamble for a bite.



Upon our return to The Gig, we found that everyone very much enjoyed their stay in Washington yet it was time to pack up and return home to Idaho.

Cooper’s new bike…and his summer begins!

5th leg: The home stretch

A long drive, good playlists, Podcasts, naps, and another pit-stop in Yakima got us home…to Boise at least. Here we said goodnight to Noble, rested up, and hit highway 55 for home the next day.

Road trips…worth it…every time.

Girl and Pearl


Happy 4th of July!



Haven Hot Springs!

There’s a hot spring in the family!


An exciting new adventure is unfolding in the rugged hills along the South Fork Payette River. Lisa and Ray are the proud new owners of Haven Hot Springs in Lowman, Idaho.  The Chambers family is packing up and moving…to run a hot spring! And not just a hot spring, the property includes a cafe, one-pump gas station with garage, hotel rooms with private soaking tubs, RV spots, and a large, mineral rich, warm water pool.


not pictured: Seiji!





It’s sure to be quite the endeavor but this Idaho gem is pretty special and full of potential. Situated on a corner at milepost 76 on highway 21, Stanley and the Sawtooth’s are only  an hour up the way. It’s worth the time to check the place out.

Molly, Alice and I stayed a night to see if we could lend a hand. Molly measured the space and dispensed valuable tips. I popped up ‘ol Hawk Eye and set up camp. We fed and entertained cousins, rearranged the kitchen and snooped around the place. IMG_2776


babes in a booth


hummingbird viewing window

Lisa and Ray are plunging in and day by day they will add more character to this Idaho experience. It’s morel season in a burn zone and the summer promises to buzz in the path of the great American eclipse. Let their adventure begin!




High Five!


Hard to believe that just last year, Alice was learning to ride a bike. Harder still to believe she’s been the center of our world for only five years. Looking back it seems we’ve been pushing the bike life on her from the start. And so far, she doesn’t mind a bit.

Jared came up with a bike rodeo theme for Alice’s fifth birthday party. Her friends and classmates showed up with their bikes and trikes ready for some fun. They decorated  their wheels with bells, lights, and streamers before the biker gang paraded down the street for some biking games. Jared had an obstacle course ready and waiting, complete with custom teeter totter and rumble strips! There was drag racing and even a game called ‘Stop on Alice’s Face’. It may have looked a bit hectic but those kids ride like champs.

Alice, you have grown up so much this last year. You are clever and kind, funny and curious. Our lives are better because of you. Keep on being exactly who you are. May you always be surrounded by people who love you. Happy Birthday my love.

High 5!

P.S. I know you keep saying you want one of three things for your birthday: a mouse, a fish, or a bird. Sorry lovey. You’ve got Pearl!