Photography Assignment 4
I struggled with this assignment; overthought was the culprit, I think. And a lack of parameters. My professor simply said "lines, textures, and patterns." There were specific guidelines, no do this, but don't do this...

I took tons of pictures most of which I tossed because I hated them. Even the ones I did submit I didn't love; thankfully, my teacher thought they were great.

I digress, I do really like the photo of Eve's braid.

Next assignment is "reflections and shadows." I'm sure am glad I have two weeks for that one!

Here are the photos I submitted.... remember it was lines, patterns, and textures:


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A vase full of fettuccine. Because, why should flowers be the only thing to occupy a vase?

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Simply a line of crayons. That pink one, she's such a rebel.

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Eve's beautiful hair, channeling a bit of the French that day.

*Post from yesterday: Tuesday Recipe - Mexican Rice and Beans (YUM!)
Camera Guide Blog-style Part One: The Rebel
Let us begin this bloggy style camera guide! My initial thought was to comprise all of the reviews into one post, but, because everyone did such a stellar job in their reviews I am going to post them one by one.

We are going to start with my very funny and entertaining friend Amanda from My not so extraordinary but always exciting life. Amanda shoots with a Canon Rebel; you should see the things this girl can do with her camera! Make sure you check out her blog and her photography site: Amanda Slakes Photography; she's got skills.

I now give the floor to Amanda....

I first entered into my love affair with cameras and photography when I was about 15. My dad let me use his 1970 something Minolta to mess around with and taught me everything that he knew about using it. When I was 20 I had a really great job and very little expenses. I bought a car and had money leftover... and I thought to myself that I should really get something I have wanted for a long time but haven't been able to justify.

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Enter: my very first digital camera.

It was a Canon Rebel 6.2 megapixel. It was one of the very first models and that was about 4 years ago.

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At first, I was totally bummed when a newer and better model came out only 3 months after my second biggest purchase ever. But then my completely resourceful and frugal side realized a few things. I do not need to have the BEST equipment in order to make myself cool. In fact, it would be cooler to be able to do amazing things with a "sub-par" model and do my very best to make my work look as good as a newer model.

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I am still working with the original Rebel and have actually started a photography business using only this camera. I have plans to upgrade to the Canon 5D very soon. In fact, maybe even this week! When I decided to be happy with what I had instead of wishing for something more, I made a promise to myself that if I were to buy a new model, I needed to have a legitimate list of reasons this current camera was limiting me.

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So here are my list of pros and cons about the Rebel (at least the model I have, the Rebels have gotten phenomenally more advanced in the last couple years and I would honestly recommend the purchase of one to anyone who is interested in learning more about photography and the more technical side to it.)

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Pros:

Cost - Honestly, I don't think you can find a more capable digital SLR for less. Right now, you can get the Rebel XTI or XSI for around $600. It's a nice chunk but seriously, when I bought mine, it was $1000!

Features - The Rebel models that are out now are so advanced from the last few years it's really ridiculous. There's always more to be had, but if you go to epinions.com and read the customer reviews. This model is a phenomenal option for an amateur photographer looking to learn more and has enough potential to carry you into the realm of professional if you want to!

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Cons:

My personal list of cons actually is very outdated since the fact remains that the upgrades over the years have actually taken care of what I don't like about my camera. But here they are anyways, my personal list of grievances against my camera ;)

- it only shoots 4 frames in a burst. And then it shuts down for about 15 seconds while it tries to write all that info on the card.

- I used a 4 gig card in it when I went to Mexico and before the card was even half-full the camera started wigging out and turning on and off because it didn't have the capability to handle that much info at once.

- I don't like the controls on the back and how they are set up (which is a canon thing, but I've gotten used to it, and the higher than Rebel models are laid out differently)

However, all these things aside, I truly love my camera. It has brought me so far and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to buy it 4 years ago.

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I hope you all enjoyed reading Amanda's review as much as I did. The Canon Rebel is a GREAT first digital SLR camera as you can clearly see from Amanda's description.

Next up is my friend Sarah; she has the Canon Rebel XT which was also my first camera. Look for Sarah's review to be posted soon!
Three just may be the ticket
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Cute cup. Yummy coffee.

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Cuter boy drinking the yummy coffee.


Two has been rough. Seriously. Judah's second year of life has felt like the longest year of my life.

You all know I am crazy in love with Judah, but whoa... that child has put me through my paces as a mother. He's not strong-willed. I know that much; but man oh man, is that boy stubborn.

Kind of like someone else I know.

That.... would be me.

There are some things that Judah has absolutely no convictions about. Then, there are other things that the child will not budge on. His conviction about that certain point, whether it be wearing his shoes on the right feet or saying the dinner prayer, runs deep. And he is willing to fight the battle necessary to follow through on what he believes.

Year two may have been really rough but I have a good feeling about three. I think year three is going to be a great time in Judah's life (optimism at it's finest!). I can already see the changes that this new, almost here, year is going to bring. I can see things clicking with him and it's exciting! He is starting to see that there are reasons why I tell him to do certain things; he is putting two and two together and coming up with four! It's amazing to see his face light up when the words I am saying actually make sense to him.
I get so excited with each victory he grabs hold of. I love seeing him get things. Yes, there are still plenty of tantrums and obstinate moments, especially on days like today where there was no nap. And, while there may not have been a nap, today was accident free, victorious potty training day! I'll take that over a nap any day of the week.


I can hardly wait to make Judah that strawberry birthday cake he asks for every night. And I sure am looking forward to seeing three slightly chubby fingers being held up when he is asked for his age.

T-minus 30 days....

*Post from 1 year ago today: Random bits of good news

*Post from 2 years ago today: A Driving Contradiction
Eliza - 10 months
I swore I wouldn't forget to put Eliza's ten month post up; I took pictures, I wrote paragraph after paragraph in my head... and then, I forgot. The tyranny of the urgent can be so all-encompassing. You know?

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Back to our Lu-Lu... Ten months! Can you believe it? I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that we are staring down the big "One." But, I try not to think about it so we're going to move on.

Eliza is my little heart; she is beautiful and funny; she is adventurous, determined, independent yet she needs plenty of snuggles, and hugs, and kisses. She likes to strike out on her own but don't even think about going too far because every few minutes she's going to need a love re-fill. Hugs, hugs, hugs. That's the name of her game. She nestles her head under my neck and fills up the love tank. For both of us.

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Eliza is a permanent fixture on my hip; we cook, we clean, we fold laundry, we walk, we talk, we eat, we shop... everything is done with her on my hip. I am an expert at working one-handed. I don't mind a bit; she's the perfect hip partner.

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Okay, for the stats:

One tooth with another well on it's way.

Standing almost on her own

Pulls up on everything whether it's stable or not.

Climbs the stairs

Eats everything under the sun

Wearing twelve month clothing

A crawling fool

Happy as a clam.

And so are we because she's our girl.

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*Post from 1 year ago (yesterday): Our Free Day

*Post from 2 years ago today: Family Photos
An Ending...
You know what they say.... All good things must come to an end.

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Of money and potty training....
Here's a little background to the decision that lead to the removal of diapers from my house....

Daniel and I did a little (read: BIG) switch-a-roo in our budget; we upped our tithe, I got an allowance (I still giggle when I think about having MY OWN MONEY!), we cut out some unnecessary expenditures (netflix), and we cut our grocery money (to include household expenses) down from four hundred dollars a month to three hundred dollars a month.

At first I panicked about the decrease in grocery money, but then the resourceful, courageous, rise to the challenge part of me, well, rose to the challenge.

Because of all the change, we are now able to save two hundred more dollars per month on top of what we were already saving. And each month we will turn that two hundred dollars into Euros. It's good not to have all your eggs in one basket, or so they say.

How did I go from diapers to Euros??

That's how my mind works. It's a wild ride, I tell ya.

Anyways...

Three days ago I ran out of diapers for both kids (I buy one box of the same size for both kids to share.). Amazingly, I didn't panic. Instead I pulled out the cloth diapers for Eliza and the underwear for Judah. I just couldn't go to the store. It was going to be too much hassle. And, following some deep thought while standing at my kitchen sink washing dishes, I decided that I could go fully cloth.

Was I crazy? I was up to my ears in laundry that day yet I decided to make more. Lots more.

Um, yeah. Cah-razy.

I have had tons of people tell me to just wait 'til Judah was ready to potty train; I have told myself to just wait until Judah was ready to potty train. But, my budget said: POTTY TRAIN THE CHILD!

So, I am.

It's going so doggone good!

Yes, Judah has had accidents. What potty training two year old hasn't? He says: "Mama! I have to go potty!" as the pee is running down his leg. That's how he rolls. So, I have to be preventative in my measures. This means that every two minutes I am grilling my boy child about the state of his bladder. And hauling that cute, little green toilet everywhere we go in the house.

Oh, and letting him run around buck naked. What boy doesn't love that?!

He hasn't had any "it" accidents yet. But, being the realist that I am, I know there will be. Yuck.

I bought training pants at Walmart today, and those vinyl covers too. Those are for bedtime and naptime. I just can not buy pullups. If I do, the potty training will screech to a halt. Pronto. So, it's cloth, cloth, cloth on my boy's cute booty.

Speaking of cloth... I have three cloth diapers for Eliza. Three.

One. Two. Three.

My washing machine runs constantly. The whole three thing been working fine but a little tiring for me. A constant rotation of diaper covers... white, pink, and green. White, pink, and green. Good thing I love saving money. I may have to buy one more cloth diaper just so I don't lose my mind.

Ha! Too late for that.

Can we talk about the hack job Daniel and I did to our monthly grocery budget for just one more minute... ?

I have found it to be amazing that I feel like I have more now than I did when there was that additional one hundred dollars in my grocery budget. I may be spending less money on food but it sure doesn't feel like it. I have been using everything wisely. Every bit of food I buy is accounted for. That is such a change for me. I am the type that likes to buy in bulk, I like having lots of food stashed everywhere - freezers, cupboards, my pantry, etc. The problem was that I would stash and forget; or I would stash and not use it because I wanted to save it. Now, I buy food and use it. If I need some of the chicken I shredded and froze for a later time, I use it. The cans of organic tomatoes the commissary was selling for fifty cents that I stocked up on... I'm using them. Normally I would keep them stashed. This new way of living makes a whole lot more sense. And it's less stressful for some strange reason.

Suffice to say, God is blessing us. It is amazing how when we trust Him to provide and give him the opportunity to provide... He does just that. Our cup overflows!

Now, I must get back to potty training my son. Oh, and to the cute pink diaper cover... It's your turn for a whirl in the dryer, my friend.

*Post from 1 year ago today: Respect

*Post from 2 years ago today: Alright, alright, alright
I have news you can use!
Okay, so this isn't the news, that's down a few paragraphs. Bear with me...

Last night in photography class I received my marks for the first graded assignment I turned in. I was nervous walking up to get my paper back! I haven't received a grade from a teacher in ten years. That's a long time!

Here is my paper...

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Whoo-hoo!

I was thrilled and relieved!

Here are the other two pictures I submitted last night:

picture 1

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picture 2

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The third picture is in this post.

Next week our assignment is "Patterns and Lines." You can bet the creative gears in my mind are whirling!

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS!


Speaking of photography and cameras...

Okay, so we weren't talking cameras but roll with it...

I am putting together an informal camera buying guide for YOU! I recruited a bunch of my friends who have some really awesome cameras, together we are going to help you figure out which camera is right for you.

Should you be in the market, that is.

I'm super excited about this! Look for the guide to be posted early next week; it should be pretty fantastic and very helpful. I'm going to (fingers crossed. HTML and I aren't really friends.) make the guide into a link on my sidebar so that it will be easily accessible anytime you want to refer back to it.

Doing my happy dance now...!

*Post from 1 year ago today: Tuesday Recipe - Taco Bake
Holy Dishes, Batman
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Do you think I spent a bit of time at my sink on Monday night? Oh yeah, baby. It was because I spent the entire day working in my kitchen. I made eight pans of cinnamon rolls, cream cheese frosting, crust for a pot pie, the actual chicken pot pie, Chex mix, a huge amount of chicken broth, and the same amount of beef broth.

Whew.

It was a long day. But so fulfilling. I love being productive in my kitchen.

Today? Not much different than Monday was. Tomorrow? Laundry. I have a massive amount. How does that happen? It feels like I am washing enough clothes to outfit an army.

This evening I have been intensely working on my photo editing. I have to turn in my assignment of twenty-five pictures tomorrow in class. I don't know if all twenty-five need to be edited but I'm doing it just in case.

I'm not allowed to photograph my kids so the suggestion of Eliza's chubby cheeks as my subject, while brilliant, couldn't happen. I chose cinnamon rolls instead. I really enjoy photographing food, I just wish I had better lighting in my kitchen. The light is totally pathetic and it really holds me back.

Do you want to see one of the three pictures I am submitting? I should clarify: I had to take twenty-five pictures, I am required to submit three. But, the entire twenty-five pictures have to be available should my teacher want to see them.

Here is my favorite picture - I call it "the aftermath"

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Pretty cool, huh? I think so. I may frame it and hang it in my kitchen.

Wish me luck for tomorrow night! (Should I survive the laundry pile, that is. Perhaps I should have you wish me luck for that instead!)

*Post from 1 year ago today: Daddy Time
Infant Loss
I've never been one to shy away from the tough stuff; this post isn't fluffy puppies, sunshine, and rainbows. But it is a post about a subject that affects pretty much all of us, men and women. At some point in our lives the odds are very good that will be confronted with someone who has lost a baby; either by miscarriage or later for another reason; I would think that some of this would even apply to the woman who struggles with the grief of infertility.

What do you say to that person?

What do you not say to that person?

We have great potential for our words to give love or to cause even greater grief. I need to know how to talk with someone who has experienced loss so I turned to Susie from Be Strong and Courageous.

Susie has a son named Joshua; He was born with an encephalocele, which is a neural tube defect. He opposed the odds with intense strength! Oh, they were stacked against him, but he was not afraid! He lived for nine weeks and four days!

Susie knows the torturous grief of losing a child, she knows the depths a mother's heart can go in sorrow; she has experienced botched (good) attempts at comfort from those of us who just don't know what to say. Susie is here today to walk us through the sometimes very tricky process of talking to a woman (or man) experiencing loss.

Welcome Susie!



When a friend experiences loss

“I’ve just miscarried this weekend,” said my friend. Her face was pale; she looked as though she had cried all weekend too. This was their first pregnancy, and it was over before morning sickness could even subside. There I stood, with my burgeoning five month belly, with a pale, tear stricken face as well. I’d just discovered my son, Joshua Matthew, had a defect. My midwife told me he’d probably only live few minutes, maybe hours. Our situations were different, but we were both grieving for a child.

What do you say? What can you say? Your girlfriend calls and says, “We lost the baby.” Or worse, you say, “So, you feeling okay?” checking in on the friend who has horrible morning sickness, and she says, “I’m not pregnant anymore.” You’re struck with this odd guilt – maybe you have healthy children, or you’ve never had a miscarriage, or you feel badly that you even asked. That guilt is normal, it’s part of our DNA. It’s probably a version of sympathy.

But that doesn’t answer the question of “What do you say?”.

What’s most important to remember is you are not going to provide comfort. Nothing you say or do will fix this situation. You can’t bring the baby back, you can’t make the last few days go away. And that’s okay. It is not your responsibility or privilege to provide any comfort. That’s not meant to be condescending, but there’s not a lot you can offer at a time like this.

Always remember that every woman is different, and while we’d like formula for what to say or do, it will need to be adapted for the situation and the persons involved. In terms of a miscarriage, a mother may still be experiencing pain and is most likely still bleeding in the days following a miscarriage. She probably won’t want to get out of the house.

As uncomfortable as you may feel, let her talk. She may not want to talk, and please respect that. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re getting “full-force counseling” when you don’t want it, or having someone pry at the situation when you’re not ready to talk. But I’ve found relief in telling people about my son. I’ve found relief in talking about his birth, his death, and his time with us. Talking helps. It may be hard for you to listen. You may feel very awkward, as though you shouldn’t be listening. But if she thinks you are the person to talk to – take it as a compliment. She trusts you. And don’t go spreading what she said as prayer request. It’s gossip. And hearing her child’s death as gossip will rip her in two.

Good responses:

“I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m praying for you.”

This is the safest response. It may sound trite, but it’s safe. You aren’t going to offend anyone with that.

“We’re thinking of you. Can I bring you a meal tomorrow night?”

Meals are always welcomed, but keep in mind that other people may bring food as well. If the meal you bring (or muffins, biscuits, cookies) can be frozen or refrigerated for a few days, all the better. It can be more than a mom can take to have to think about meal plans when she’s in grief.

“I’m so sorry. Can we take the kids for a little while, or would you like them close by.”

This may be a relief for her. Perhaps she doesn’t want to cry in front of her children. However, very often a mother who has lost a child does not want her other children out of her sight. Please respect this. Her paranoia about losing another child is very real. While she may be overwhelmed at the moment, having you take her kids to the park may be too much for her to handle. Feel it out, and be respectful of her answers.

Not-so-hot responses:

“Are you okay?”

What you mean is, “Is your miscarriage causing you physical pain?”, but to the Mommy, it sounds like, “Does this matter to you?” Of course she’s not okay. She just lost her baby. Life will never be the same again. She thought she was invincible, and she’s just discovered she can’t protect her children like she wants to. It’s really easy to say it. I’ll admit it’s slipped out of my mouth before.

“Oh, I lost a baby once too. It gets better.”

It may seem illogical, but in my grief, I enjoyed missing Joshua because I could be his Momma that way. I was still the closest to him. I could miss him like no one else could. It was my way of honoring him – and still is.

“It’s a good thing you have your daughter then, isn’t it?”

This was actually said to me by an elder at my church. Had I known him better (I had just met him a few minutes before) I might have said something other than a tentative “Yeah…”. This comment made me so angry. I wanted to hit him. Having one, when I’m supposed to have two, stinks.

“He’s with the angels now.” Or “He’s in a better place.”

When a mother has lost her child – whether it’s a miscarriage, a stillbirth, an early infant death, or an older child - and you say, “He’s in a better place”, or “It gets better” her response inside is, “He belongs with me. I’m a good mother, I took care of him. And I don’t want it to get better, because I want to miss him.”

“Well, you’re young. You can have another.”

A mother never wants to hear that she can have another. Perhaps it’s true. Perhaps she’ll get pregnant easily. Perhaps that child will be just fine. But it’s not comforting. I was at a funeral for a little girl who lived 6 minutes when I was only 11 years old. Her mother said, “Please don’t say ‘You can have another one’, because I wanted her.”

A close relative that I love said that one to me. That hurt. I didn’t know how to respond!

“Here are some Bible verses about grief.”

Bible verses are great. But please be careful. The day we lost Joshua, my husband said to me, “If anyone comes near me with a Bible right now, I think I’ll scream!” It wasn’t that we didn’t trust God, or believe in Him, or know that He had an ultimate purpose. But when you’re in grief, sometimes reading Scripture by the page doesn’t help. Perhaps for some people it will, but not for us. We wanted to hold Joshua, to look at his things, look at his pictures. We took our daughter to the park, we went shopping. We needed air.

I think the only thing I can say conclusively is that less is more. I know that for myself, the more I say, the worse it gets. The more my mouth flaps, the more ridiculous and less encouraging I am.

“I’m so sorry.” Keep it short and simple, until you feel more comfortable offering more, and until the person is ready to hear more. That may be months. Give her time.


Thank you, Susie.

You can visit Susie and read Joshua's whole amazing and miraculous story at Be Strong and Courageous.
Post and Pre...
I bet you can guess what we did this weekend....

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Bright and early (bright and early mountain time, that is) look for a guest post by Susie from Be Strong and Courageous. The topic: What to say and what not to say to a woman who has experienced infant loss.

Come back tomorrow to read Susie's excellent post.

*Posts from 1 year ago today: Who would have thought and So far today...
Judah and the Haircut Fiasco
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It was rough but not nearly as rough as the last two years of cutting Judah's hair. Those years were enough to make me want to curl up in a ball in my bed under the covers; the screaming and thrashing and torture and voice loss was a complete nightmare. I hated cutting Judah's hair. Hated it. The only way we could all survive was to shave his hair off because that meant another six, maybe eight if we were lucky, weeks before we had to repeat the torture session.

And then it happened. A miracle. The haircut before this one was unfolding the way they always did: Judah screaming so loudly that he would, within a minute or two start to lose his voice, Daniel attempting to talk him down, and me trying desperately to cut the boys hair so it could all be over. But then, a few minutes in to the cut.... he laughed. It started out little but then it grew louder and longer. Daniel and I just looked at each other, incredulous. Judah was laughing and saying: "It tickles, Mama!"

Uh, come again??

Where was the screaming boy?

Daniel and I immediately rolled with it though we were in complete shock; I must say it was the best haircut ever. Judah laughed the whole way through. Daniel and I could not believe what our ears were hearing but boy, oh boy were we ever thankful.

Ever since that hair cut Judah would ask if he could get his hair tickled again. It was the weirdest thing to hear him ask for a haircut! When it finally came time for another haircut he was so excited. Until the clippers made their buzzing sound. Then he started to freak out; Daniel was able to talk him down and he got back to the happy boy he had been before. I think we may have turned a corner! This is exciting stuff.

I never know what to expect with my Judah. He's the child that's going to keep me dancing around on the tips of my toes. But, I do know this one thing: when it comes time for Judah to be a father, he is going to be amazing. He is incredible with Eliza. And I really mean that. He allows her to body slam him, get her fingers all up in his face, and climb all over him. He just laughs. He doesn't push her away or yell at her. He loves on her all day long. He blows my mind with his kindness. Every day he talks about getting big enough to be a daddy. It makes my heart so happy to hear him talk like that.

But, let's not rush things, okay.

*Post from 1 year ago today: The View From Here
VBlog: Talking about World Food Day
So, I thought I would talk with you all about World Food Day. Forgive the camera shake and movement. It's hard to take a video of yourself with a baby on your hip! And no, I didn't almost bounce her off of my hip, though it does look that way. Spontaneous, unedited video is the best! I love the realness of it!



If you want to leave suggestions on how we can help contribute to the elimination of hunger in our local communities and even our world (any upstanding organizations), leave the info in the comments section of the..... uh, BLOG, Andrea! It's a BLOG. (Ha!)
Miss Eliza Dove and Linzer Cookies
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Good Morning!

How are you all doing? I'm doing okay; tired, wishing I could lay in bed and watch the world slowly brighten outside my window, but I can't.
Thursday is the new Wednesday, for me anyways. By Thursday I am just whupped and ready for the week to be over.

Today I am going to implement an approach that I use once in awhile. I am going to pretend that I am FULL of energy and ready to go! Sometimes doing this fools my frame of mind into actually being that way.

I'm feeling very optimistic that it's going to work today. And this is a great thing because I have lots to do - cleaning, laundry (laundry, laundry, laundry), vacuuming and mopping, obsessively checking Eliza's mouth to see if tooth number two popped through yet, baking something, making turkey burgers for dinner, and all the other urgencies that find their way into my day.

But, before I start in on all that I wanted to share some of yesterday (the part where the term "blinding headache" wasn't a reality) with you...

I had some one on one time in the morning with Eliza so I did a little experiment; I love watching her explore the world around her, seeing what captures her attention. I put her up on my old (antique??) trunk; the trunk was in front of a window, next to a hanging plant, and had a vase of roses sitting on it. I was interested to see what she would do, what she would go for first. I had my camera ready, of course.
For awhile she just sat in front of me and clapped her chubby hands together. We sang Patty Cakes and I tickled her every now and then just to hear her laugh.

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Then she noticed the plant; she felt the leaves, they touched her head and she cringed. She tugged on the plant a bit, mama said "no pulling," so she moved on. What fun is a plant if you can't yank on it?

The rose vase was next; what exciting textures it had! She ran her fingers over it, feeling the glass, just taking it all in. She pretty much ignored the bright red roses which I thought was interesting. I thought for sure she'd pull at the petals.

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She tried to grab the vase but knocked it over. I didn't mind; the roses were nearly all gone past so it didn't bother me. When the vase fell over, pretty rose petals scattered everywhere. A perfect photo opportunity, in my opinion.

Roses petals and baby hands suit each other so well.

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We played in the petals for awhile, enjoying their softness and bright color. I managed to get a nice picture of Eliza's pretty bracelet, but then it was back to work.

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I was making Linzer cookies, hoping they would work for my photo project.

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I'm thinking along the lines of not. I didn't have the right tools, and the way that I tried to make them, with different sized heart-shaped cut outs, didn't work. I had to improvise so much that I don't think that I can call them Linzers anymore.

We shall see how creative I can get with non-Linzer cookie stacks today.

Have a happy day, friends!

*Post from 1 year ago today: Three Belly Shots and Eve and her little leaf friend

*Post from 2 years ago today: Judah chowin' down an apple
Gingersnap Cookies
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I made these Gingersnap cookies this afternoon, only a half a batch because that was all the butter I had on hand. (You do understand I was in a tizzy because I was out of butter. This does not happen to me!)

Once they were all made I decided to try a cookie out; I only do this on rare occasions, but since I was sending some to go along with Eve's teacher's dinner, I figured I'd take one for the team and make sure they were fit for consumption.

I took a bite and then promptly melted into the floor in a puddle of love. I proposed on the spot; Mr. Gingersnap accepted, we are getting married immediatly.

These cookies are the perfect blend of soft and chewy; when you add in the ultimate Fall flavors of ginger, clove, and cinnamon, you have perfection in tan. Really, you need to make these; your life will not be complete until you do.

I must include little bits of FYI-ness because I can not follow a recipe word for word. I just can't. I've tried. I should seek counseling but I'm too busy inhaling Gingersnap cookies to be bothered with it.

Anyways, the FYIs...

When I made the cookies I upped the cloves, cinnamon, and ginger a 1/4 teaspoon each simply because I love that burst of flavor. I didn't add the butterscotch chips in because we don't choose to eat the sugar they are made with, and because the cookies don't need a thing, except if you're feeling fancy you could sprinkle some Turbinado sugar on top.

Oh, one more thing... I creamed the livin' daylights out of the butter/sugar mixture; doing that seems to help make a prettier cookie. I'm nothing if not technical.

Happy Gingersnap cookie making!

Labels:

VBlog: How to make Chicken Broth
Well, hello very first Vblog ever!

You'd think I am a full blooded Italian with all the hand waving that went on. I'm not. I don't even have a drop of Italian in me. Maybe the Lebanese wave their hands around a lot?? Anyways... Below the video I am including all the details I forgot, as well as a written recipe for the broth.




Sorry about the florescent light thing. It was either have them on or not see me; it was a dark and stormy day, yesterday.

Details:

I used an 8 quart pot, filled 3/4 of the way with filtered water.

After I assembled all the ingredients into the pot, I brought it to a boil and then reduced it to a low simmer for what ended up being 4 hours. It was only that long because I forgot about it. Two hours would have been fine since my chicken was already cooked.

I tried to pretty much leave it alone but I'm a compulsive stirrer. I just can't help myself!

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This is the broth about 2 hours into the cooking.

Recipe:

1 cooked chicken carcass with meat taken off (or a bunch of bones from a cut up chicken would be fine too)

6 or so quarts water

4-6 carrots chunked up

1 heart of celery chunked up

7 cloves garlic

2 sprigs fresh Rosemary or 1 Tablespoon (more if you like the flavor)

4 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1 Tablespoon dried

1 Tablespoon salt (you can also do less if you want, waiting until the end to add it)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 Tablespoon dried Sage (or 5 or 5 fresh leaves)

1 Tablespoon Onion Powder

After the broth is cooked and cooled, if you you weren't using a pot with an insert like I was, you'll need to strain the broth. After you do that, divide it up into quart size Ziploc - 2 cups each- don't forget to mark them! Stick those in your freezer and you have convenient, cheap, delicious chicken broth.

Enjoy!!

*Post from 1 year ago today: She's Baaack!

Labels:

New Poll
**Update: Come back tomorrow for a Vblog on the finer points of making chicken broth!!


I put a new poll up... finally! This one closes on the 27th of October. Happy voting!


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This.... is super cute, but not good.
What was I up to today?
A lot.

I was in my kitchen all day long. And, since it's my favorite place to be in the whole house, I was a happy girl.

It felt good to accomplish so much, though I did not appreciate the loads of dishes this evening. But even that was okay, I get some of my best thinking done standing in front of the sink.

I knew that today was going to be rainy, dark, and cool, which to me is perfect for cooking and baking. And since we go to church on Friday night, I had the entire day laid out in front of me. I made my plans for today, Friday morning; I made sure I got everything I needed, at the store yesterday so there wouldn't be any surprises today. And it actually worked! Miracles, miracles.

So, what did I make, you ask?

Deeeep breath....

I made: Strawberry Lemon Cream scones. In place of the cranberries I used cut-up strawberries tossed in flour, and I used lemon peel in place of the orange peel. I bless the person who created the microplane. LOVE that tool.

A double batch of banana bread (holy tons of banana bread, man!! I was not prepared.) Oh yes, you better believe I added in chocolate chips.

I made two roasted sticky chickens. I needed the meat for the White bean Chicken Chili (used dried navy beans - cooked those today too.)

White Bean Chicken Chili... this was too good for words. I used salsa verde, in case you wanted to make this - it is so much simpler and faster making it that way!

Brown rice for an accompaniment to the mouth-watering chili.

Rye bread. Completely delicious. I make it the quick way - skipping the whole letting it rise for four hours thing. Seriously! Who has that kind of time?! Not me. My batch made thirty rolls and one loaf.

Chicken broth, from the roasted chickens. Only a small batch, enough for the chili, but I am going to use the two chicken carcasses to make TONS of it tomorrow, after I take the meat off, of course. Roasted sticky chicken makes the absolute BEST broth in the world. Don't even think about doubting me, it's the truth!

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That was a lot of food that I created today! But, it was fun, and satisfying, and my house smelled good all day long.

Tomorrow is suppose to be the same weather as today so who knows what I shall create! Maybe nothing, I don't think I have fully recovered from nearly getting lost underneath the loads of dishes I had to wash! And yes, I do have a dishwasher but I never, ever use it. I'm a hand-washer. So, I should stop complaining, right?

Oh, and you'll be happy to know... No more knife run-ins!! That was just the cherry on the top of my delicious day.

Anyone want to come over for a breakfast of strawberry scones and banana bread washed down with some piping hot chocolate raspberry coffee? My only stipulation is... you have to like kids. They come with the territory.
Shame on me!
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I know, it's terrible of me to whip out my camera in Eliza's time of desperate need. But, it was so stinkin' hilarious to see her stuck, doing the splits, that I just couldn't let this one go. She wasn't hurt but she was seriously ticked off. Wow.

I've gotten my due recompense, never fear. I have cut myself twice with a serrated knife (two different knives), in just over twelve hours, on the same hand but different fingers, thankfully (as if there is something to be thankful for! I guess not cutting my finger(s) off would be one thing...).

Let me give you a little golden nugget of wisdom.... DON'T CUT YOURSELF WITH A SERRATED KNIFE!! It hurts like the dickens.

I was so mad with the first cut; I was in a hurry (what else is new); I was doing twenty-five things at once, I reached for a spoon in the clean dish drainer and the cake/brownie cutting thingy jumped right in front of my hand and sliced my thumb. It did it on purpose, I just know it. I nearly lost it!

Cut number two...

This morning I was flying low. Seriously, you probably couldn't even see me clearly, should you have looked, I am quite sure I was blurry because of the speed I was working at. I was trying to get us out the door so we could meet bloggy friends, Michelle and Eden down in Roswell for the Buddy Walk, which was in support of Michelle's daughter, Kayla.

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(We made it by the way)

Anyways, I was at the sink reaching for something, again in the clean dishes, when the cheese knife jumped in front of my hand and sliced my middle finger open. GLORY! I did lose it that time. I was livid! And bleeding. And, worst of all, I had to stop and deal with another cut finger.

Let's just say: Serrated knives are on my black list. We are not friends. I'm sure we will not be on speaking terms any time soon.

And you can bet your bottom dollar I was super duper careful about reaching into the dish drainer this evening. Stupid knives. My fingers hurt.

I solemnly swear, no more pictures of Eliza doing the splits...

*Post from 1 year ago today: Chicken Cordon bleu
(A Tuesday recipe)
My Most Disgusting Moment as a Mother... Yet
It happened one bright, sunshiny morning last week; I was in high gear, working to get everyone out the door and into the van and on the way to school by 7:40 a.m. This is no easy task when you have three children under 5. I was doing my fair share of throwing around orders:

"Eve... shoes on!"

"Are your teeth brushed?!"

"Judah! EAT, pleeeease."

I went to get Eliza out of her bed; usually getting her up is my last thing to accomplish before loading up the van with little bodies, a backpack, and some sort of small plastic wild animal that growls loudly at me from a chubby boy hand.

This particular morning Eliza had a precious gift for me in her diaper. I had no idea of what magnitude, though. Which, in hindsight, was very unfortunate.

I shoo-ed Judah down to get his shoes on, in my head willing him to get them on the correct feet (Please, God). I laid Eliza down and unsnapped her pj's; I grabbed a couple of wipes out of the box so I could be ready...

Sometimes, two wipes just won't cut the mustard. This was one of those times. "It" (I hate the "P" word. Sorry, you'll have to be okay with "it") was everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE.

I don't know why this sort of thing can't happen on a morning when I have it all together and things are running like a well-oiled machine! Oh, right, because that never happens!! There's always something, isn't there?

I panicked a little after seeing what I was going to have to overcome in the booty cleaning department. I grabbed some more wipes and as I did Eliza (my first child to do this) put her hand in "it!" I gasped and said "NO! Lize!" The child smiled at me. I'm holding the bottom half of her body up so the top half doesn't get covered, I'm holding wipes in the other had, so I'm pretty much helpless. And then she does the unthinkable...

She stuck her hand IN HER MOUTH!

Oh, yes she did.

I yelled "NO! That's NOT food! Well, actually it is but NOT THAT KIND OF FOOD!"

At that point my priorities shifted greatly. It was get that mouth and those hands clean RIGHT NOW.

Which I did, somehow.

My friends, it was ugly. I don't know how I did it without getting "it" everywhere that "it" already wasn't. Sometimes (more like daily) I wonder why mothers can't have a third arm, because I know for a fact I could really use one.

We mothers, we're good, aren't we! We are the ones that OVERCOME great odds!

Sorry for the ick factor. Life stuff, remember?

*Post from 1 year ago today: A Recipe is Forthcoming

(includes a link to my "perfect for staving off the stomach bug" smoothie recipe)
The Girl vs. The Cheese Puff...
My Eliza Dove is a girl after my own heart. I do love a good cheese puff, and apparently, so does she.

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One of the great things about going to the ABQ (Albuquerque) is that I shop (SHOOOOOP) at The Whole Foods Market; it's there that I stock up on cheese puffs. Such a treat! We enjoy them sparingly to make them last as long as possible. Someday, someday I will live in the same city as a Whole Foods.

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Being Authentic
I was putting away a book this morning, it was called Being an Authentic Christian. It made me smile to see that title because authenticity has been on my heart for awhile now. One of the reasons I have been thinking about it is because of this blog.

This particular forum lends itself to a lack of authenticity. It's easy for one to let the world see only the good things. It's something I think most all bloggers struggle with. I know I have struggled in this area on my blog. But, certainly not on purpose, mind you. It's simply in my nature to keep things on the upbeat. I am not one of those people who just naturally let's it all hang out. That isn't me. I am more private, careful who I talk to about what. But, my most important reason is that I don't find joy or even relief in pouring out all my ick, my troubles, my worries, my issues on masses of people who have enough of their own; people who may not necessarily want to hear about my crappy day.

But, in saying that, I do want to become more transparent with you all (I desperately wanted to write y'all right there! It's all I hear down here so it's starting to infiltrate my vocabulary) it is important to me that you get to see the real deal here on this blog. And you have been getting that - the real Andrea - but only in part; I want to give you the other part of me. The one that struggles with motherhood, the one that is wading through this thing called marriage, the one that wonders if I am becoming the woman I really want to be, the one who is figuring out boundaries and all that comes along with that; you know life stuff.

Don't expect me to start whining about my bad day or complaining about friends or my children, or even telling you all the gory details (though I will tell you some if you really want to know!). Like I said before, it's not me to act in that manner. But, what I want you to know is this: I am not perfect and I don't have it all together; I am human, just like you.

And I want you to know me.

So, here's to blog authenticity... it won't always be pretty but it will be real. Yo.

*Post from 1 year ago today: Apple Picking and I am Pregnant Yet Again
Photography Class Pictures: Depth of Focus
Tonight I turned in the second assignment for my photography class. Can you believe, I was even more nervous this assignment than I was last time?! I was so nervous, my stomach felt like it had more knots in it than Eve's hair does in the morning! And that is pretty hard to top, I'll have you know.
Thankfully, I did great! My teacher loved my three pictures and didn't have a bad word to say about any of them. Phew!

Our assignment for this week was to portray depth of focus (or field). We needed to have two pictures with shallow depth of focus (subject is in focus but everything else is not) and one picture with greater depth of focus (pretty much everything is in focus).

Here are my pictures... I know, you've already seen the flamingo one but be nice and pretend you haven't. Okay! (Hear that in the voice of Bill Engvall, please.)


These two are shallow depth of focus:

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This one is greater depth of focus:

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My next assignment is to take twenty-five pictures of a single subject matter, turning in the best three. The hardest part is going to be figuring out what to shoot as my subject matter! I'd best get my creative juices flowing.... I think eating some chocolate will help.

*Post from 2 years ago today: Welcome Home Daddy!
Fashion Forward?
Ten years ago I inhaled make-up. The art of making up my face was serious business for me. Yes on fun and funky eyeliner, no on foundation of any kind, yes to seriously well done eyeliner, no to dark lipstick, and yes, please to mascara. Oh, I loved it all and still do, quite honestly.

My main focus was eyeshadow; I was all about the bold, bright colors - the more intense the better. I had a rainbow for an eyeshadow collection; I never wore the same color two days in a row. For my wedding I wore bright yellow and green eyeshadow.... Traditional? I don't think so. I've never felt a real bond with the traditional pastels. I find them too limp and lifeless for my tastes. But, that's just me! Thank God for creating the rainbow, where in it we can all find our happy place color.

My favorite color eyeshadow was a deep, intense jade green. I loved that eyeshadow paired with a bright, shimmery granny smith apple green. Gorgeous!

Today I saw an online ad for L'Oreal HiP high intensity pigments; bright colors of eyeshadow, eyeliner, lip gloss and the like. I was somewhat taken aback. The colors and intensity I have loved and been wearing for ten years are finally "in?"
Look, I know I wasn't the first to wear bright, beautiful eyeshadow colors, but to think that just now they are becoming trendy and hip? This makes me wonder if I was fashion-forward or simply weird. Or perhaps it was neither. It could be that I was just totally awesome and it took ten years for the rest of the fashion world to catch on!

Kidding!

I don't know as I would ever buy a L'Oreal brand of eyeshadow, I am more of a Face Stockholm or Nars or CARGO or Urban Decay kind of girl. Regardless, I have to say it is good to see that making a statement with make-up is trickling down from the fashionistas (I am not including myself in this because I am so not one nor do I want to be.) to the every day, normal woman (this is me except I have a touch of rock n 'roll and a generous dab of sass) who happens to like beautiful colors.

But, should one delve into the bold and bright, moderation is the key. Moderation. This is crucially important and not something to forget. Otherwise, you may end up looking like a clown who got kicked out of the circus. And that is never, ever a good look. You'd scare the children.

What are you... bold, bright, and intense like me? Or do you rarely stray from the taupes?

Oh, and don't forget to tell me your favorite brand of make-up and why. I am very interested to know!

*Post from 2 years ago: One Team, One Fight

*Post from 1 year ago: Afternoon at the Cemetery
What a weekend!
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Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire! What a weekend!

My parents have been out of the country, doing missions work, since July. On their return trip home they flew into Albuquerque so we could spend the weekend together. Eve and Judah were ecstatic! Eliza was on the fence; she just stared at my mom, with an unreadable expression, pretty much the whole weekend. Once in awhile she would crack a smile but mostly she just stared.

Yesterday we all headed back into Albuquerque to SHOP (!!!) and drop my parents off at the airport. Yesterday was calm, beautiful, peaceful and wonderful (if you don't count the huge funnel cloud we saw forming, causing me to nearly have a heart attack!), but today... you all wouldn't believe how much we fit into this day. It was insane! So much shopping, errands, playing outside, an airport run, even a trip to the zoo.

We ended up only having thirty minutes to spend at the zoo. It seemed a little crazy to spend fifteen dollars for a half of an hour, but it was really important to me that we keep our word and take the kids to the zoo like we promised.
Daniel literally ran those kids around the zoo, checking out as much as they could in the time we had. It was hilarious; Eve was breathless, Daniel said. I didn't participate in the running, instead Eliza and I hung out and took pictures. Or tried to. It was super bright out, which isn't at all good for picture taking. But, I just couldn't resist those napping flamingos.

After the zoo trip we had to rush back home because Daniel had a class to go to this evening. After he left it was dinner, baths, and bed for the kids. Phew! I am pretty much exhausted from it all. But, can I tell you how happy I am to have food and all the stuff I am use to! I walked into Costco this morning and just breathed in the smell. It was so lovely; I have been missing the comforts I use to have.

I'd like to say it is good to be home but really, truthfully, I'd rather still be in the ABQ. I love it here and I love it there. If only the two worlds could collide...

*Post from 2 years ago: Not my first post
(This was the blog's first post!! Daniel started this blog, did you know that? Happy two years to us!)

*Post from 1 year ago today: Judah
Free Flowers
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I am a bit obsessed with fresh flowers. I love them; I love the way they brighten up a room and bring a freshness and a vibrancy to my home. But, I hate to spend actual cash on flowers; they just don't last long enough to justify the money. In fact, I have told Daniel... don't buy me cut flowers (not really meaning it completely, I am a woman after all.), I'd rather have a hanging plant that will stay alive. Well, for at least as long as I remember to water it.

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Living in New Mexico has been a wild experience for me in the flower department. Roses abound here; every yard seems to have some sort of rose bush in it. And the roses themselves, their blooming season is long! As in, they are currently blooming with no indication they will be slowing up any time soon. Which is just fine by me. Because I can do this:

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It thrills me to no end to be able to fill vase upon vase with gorgeous, sweet smelling roses. And, the best part is, they're all free. One of the reasons we picked this house was because there is a large number of well established rose bushes on our property. I fully enjoy them outside and in.

It just so happens that a lot of the houses around here are empty and I would feel so badly if their beautiful roses went to waste. It's simply my duty, as a responsible citizen, to cut those roses and give them a good home. I would feel terrible if their beauty went unappreciated.

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I have to admit, it does feel weird to be cutting and enjoying roses in October. It just doesn't seem as though it should be. I'm a true northern girl; for 26 years, when October rolled around, I was wearing sweaters and coats, waiting for the first snow fall, enjoying hot apple cider in a big mug, and complaining about the cold weather. Instead, this year I am cutting beautiful roses, wearing shorts, and leaving my windows open, hoping for a cool breeze.

And enjoying every second of it.

How about you? What are you up to come October? Pumpkins, apple cider, sweaters? Or, perhaps, you're like me... wearing shorts, using air conditioning, and your trees still have leaves.

And, should you have a choice, which would you prefer?

*Post from 1 year ago today: Playing in the leaves

Catching up - from 1 year ago yesterday: Pumpkin Roll Recipe and Eight loaves of bread (Here is the recipe for my bread)
It's Confession Time
I subscribe to the theory: A place for everything and everything in it's place. And, generally speaking, I am a strict follower. I like neat, clean, and tidy. I like straight lines and baskets containing their respective items; I tell my children to pick up before they get more stuff out. I don't do clutter, I don't do piles, I don't do tons of toys (Tarrah can attest to this - she has witnessed, first hand, my crazy minimalist toy approach). I keep a clean house, for the most part.

But, there is one area where I suck.

Wanna know?

Of course you do, I would too if I were you.

My freezer. And, again, Tarrah has witnessed the terrible, chaotic, messiness of my freezer. Surprisingly, she still loves me.

For some strange reason I just can not keep that bad boy organized.

This is how it happens: I'm cooking or baking and I'm in "the zone"... I throw stuff in there every which way so I can keep on going, you know what I'm talking about, right? Well, eventually it turns into a death trap; you know the kind where you have to open the door slowly lest a pound of frozen hamburger falls on your foot and you end up limply around in great pain for a week.

Not that that has ever happened to me or anything.

I've been pondering how I can overcome this awful part of my housekeeping. And just this past weekend I had a revolutionary idea on how to kick my messy freezer habit.

Wanna hear it?

Of course you do, and even if you don't, I'm telling ya anyways. Okay...

It's called the "Organized Messy" approach.

Catchy, don't you think?

Picture example:

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Okay, bad picture but you get the idea. I have the left bottom tub filled with my flours, grains (rice, oatmeal, barley...), yeast, coconut, and the like. The right bottom tub is meat. The top left crate-thingy (10 cents at a garage sale) is chock FULL of spices - labeled and somewhat organized. The top right thingy is fruits and vegetables. On the door shelf is my stash of chocolate.

I was well pleased with my revolutionary idea of the "organized messy" approach. It's not too high of a bar to try to reach and maintain; it allows for the messy - throw things in there so I can keep on truckin'- part of me, yet it keeps my food organized well enough so I can find things quick, and without having to dig around and start growling because I can't find the chocolate chips and have to make something entirely different because I never found them ('til I cleaned out the freezer) - not that that has ever to me happened either.

Anyways... just wanted to get that off my chest. I wish I had thought to take a picture of my freezer before I cleaned it out. It was appalling. But, unfortunately, I wasn't thinking about a blog post with my freezer as the star.

Shocking.

*Post from 1 year ago today: On Marriage
Those Baby Blues...
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Daniel says Eliza looks like Judah here but all I see is Eve as a baby.

The outfit Eliza has on was my most favorite of Eve's outfits as a baby. The color, the sprinkling of flowers, the softness... Today, as I put this outfit on Eliza, I could see the fading of the material but it made me love it all the more; it's still my favorite outfit even five years later. And the way it brings out Eliza's baby blues just blows me away. I didn't touch the color of her eyes in this picture - they are naturally that beautiful.

I'm liking this hand-me-down thing, it's bringing back such wonderful memories. And you know how much I love memories...

*Post from 1 year ago today: A Baby or a Basketball?

(Apparently, it was a baby. A baby girl with beautiful blue eyes.)
What to do, What to do...?
What do you do?

Do you buy something from every child that comes to your door with a fundraiser magazine? Do you only buy from your friend's children. Do you say flat out no to all of them?

Just my curious mind at work here.

I'm certain I am not the only one that wonders these things... So, tell me what your approach is to the fundraising monster!

*Post from 1 year ago today: The curls that were not meant to be
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