January 26, 2015

Moments with Mutts

Because of my dogs, I'm committed to finding animal inspiration in the day to day moments.  What animals inspire you? Share your stories and links in the comments!   

= that's one way to walk a dog
 a festive way to name things
Animal Shelter photography
if Roger Ebert called it the best, then perhaps it is


January 22, 2015

Strange words like New Paltz and Esbat

This scene from the New York thruway greeted me at a rest stop.  In our teeny tiny VW car loaded to the hills with dogs and kids and clothes I dug around for my camera.

I tell you, New Paltz, New York had me screech to a halt that evening and look around.  For the following few days my mantra was "if there is beauty found even at a New York rest stop, then life can't be that hard to handle."  And no offense to you, New York rest stops, but I've never previously found you to be so gorgeous.  I'll be looking harder from here on out.

Anyway, that sunset was helpful to my journey because once again, the theme is TEETH.  I'm not even gonna link here, but if you've read here or know me, you know of "the teeth saga".  These particular rounds involve extended visits to Pennsylvania for certain treatments.  Not the worst gig, not the best.  What's something in your life that you need a happy sunset for?  I'll share mine or better yet, head on up to New Paltz, New York if you have the time.

Extra traveling means we are adjusting our home life accordingly. This week we completed our family winter celebrations- they've kind of lingered around incomplete due to house guests, travel, Champ being gone for grad. class... any number of reasons.  It was high time to gather together as a family and complete them, especially since in my mind if we aren't in sync as a family then our life is spinning at way too high a frequency.

  The boys created pinecone birdfeeders to put on our "After Christmas Tree".  We threw handfuls of goodies all around the backyard for our winter critters.  They seemed pleased with our efforts...

The Boxing Day piggy bank was tallied and gingerbread houses smashed.  The house smashing is a ritual initiated by Bear last year.  It doesn't have any significance except that it also uses a hammer, and makes Bear rather proud that he came up with his own tradition.  For those reasons and the fact that it is a method of clean-up, I willingly keep it on the docket.  Ha!

We finished up our mega winter celebration by acknowledging this month's Wolf Moon.  I have much respect for Wicca rituals in that they center so firmly on nature and it's elements.  Sure I'm Catholic, but there's lots of mutual ground within our beliefs!  I loosely follow Esbat ceremonies to help with establishing our own monthly traditions centered around nature and God.

As wolves live in packs, January's moon is a time for celebrating family.  I read (I have this in book form, but it's photocopied and I have no idea of the author) that a simple activity to do is create a family apple wreath, so we sliced up 2 red delicious, sprinkled them with cinnamon, and put them in the dehydrator overnight.  The next day I hung them on a wire and we prayed:

Apples of love, plucked from the tree
secure this family's harmony
bind it fast and make it true
thus remembering God loves you.

For the remainder of the month this apple wreath will be front and center at our dining room table.  To remind us of God's love, love for family, and love for...skillful dentists.

January 21, 2015

Boy Bakery

Scrambled eggs are a fine way to introduce a newbie to cooking- a real step-up from boiling water (the classic adult version of introduction).  Simple ingredients, but attention is needed to get those eggs just so.  Bear's been there, done that.  I've since moved him on to larger kitchen tasks because well, if I'm being honest with you, that boy is not allowed to leave the nest until he has proved his worth as a cook.  No child of mine will flounder around each meal with rice-a-roni or pizza take-out; here we start cooking lessons early.

 Notice those flour tracks?  That's a sign of another little cook who's been in my kitchen recently.  This particular short chef is still in the early phases of cookery: that's code for HE'S MESSY.

In an attempt to make chocolate chip cookies together, Ace was put in charge of dumping the ingredients I gave him into the mixer. That involved a learning curve but he did try to return the flour into the mixing bowl, hence all the little finger trails.  Turning the mixer on was an experience in and of itself.  You can predict what happened (I expected it to happen even after coaching him because I have a newbie cook on my hands who is also an independent thinker): more flour and baking powder tenaciously scooped from the counter, added back in to the mixing bowl.

 His focus was laser, his attention full on.  We pushed through the minor stumbling blocks and eventually arrived at a finished product which was completely edible- Ace can attest to that.  The pride on his face when serving those cookies to his family?  That made it so worth the flour covering every.single.surface. of my kitchen.  Also my hair, his jeans, the dogs...

A while later, Bear sauntered into the kitchen looking for a way to flaunt his mad kitchen skillz.  I was still rinsing King Arthur All Purpose flour off of Trot, so I set him up with a task I had chosen to abandon, "Pipe words onto this cake." I said, proceeding to carve the phrase out with a toothpick and outline the beginning of each word for him.  The I went back to scrubbing cookie batter off of Trot's back.

Hmmm, think I figured out the lesson from my kitchen today, even if it might be a weeeeeee bit longer until Ace is also at this stage.

Here's to flour turning into hardened glue with the addition of water- it forced me to pass a cake project on to my eldest.  I had no hope left for it, and yet he turned it into something all his own.

Gang, hope and patience are our words for the week, ok?

January 16, 2015

Moments with Mutts: canine house guests

Because of my dogs, I'm committed to finding animal inspiration in the day to day moments.  What animals inspire you? Share your stories and links in the comments!   
Trot and Huckle have had some canine friends sleeping over for the past few weeks.  I feel my heart lift happily when using that term "friends" because Huckle does not always want to be immediate friends with every dog he meets.  Each dog is an individual; I respect and try to honor the difficult times he mostly has with other dogs, but man oh man... once Huckle gets over his initial hump, he practically grins floppy ear to floppy ear to have new playmates.

Our human friends are moving into a new house and while that project finished up they stayed with us.  Two friends, one baby, and two dogs- Kaia and Hyde.  It has been a wonderful riot to be under one roof together!  Photos this week reflect it.

- this article because look!  The editor wasn't scared to use pit bull photos to help promote wellness.

- Chowder.  Because honesty in adoption is the way to go.  May someone in this world find perfection in his needs!

- Literally every goat in the world (Thanks for this, L!)

- We've been doing this in the afternoons and so far, each and every seem to lead to our compost area...

They are looking at the one who dared leave my photography line-up...

He should be between Hyde and Huckle!

January 13, 2015

Because Bear had JISP, here's a photography tip...

listen, my current computer set-up looks like that there.  A decent enough computer that is trying to roll over but really shouldn't, so I keep it chugging along with tweezers and a gifted jar of sugar scrub. My battery charger never really worked from the start and now it practically revolts some days with pieces falling out or in to the computer.  Tweezers come in handy for such a malady, but the alarming amount of time it takes!  I practice patience over and over and over again with this computer: just ask that scrub up there, carefully placed to ensure the cord holds steady while eternally charging up the computer.  This is not to be taken as a complaint.  My computer, like many other things I own, just needs a little more care and attention to get going.  I only tell you this so you can understand posts like tonight- ones that cut and run to an entirely different topic because suddenly time's run out to post what was initially intended.  Oh readers, I'm not feeding you fluff!  I would still have posted this!  Just.not.tonight.

Bear did have JISP today which is a really cool thing they do here in most of New England.  It means that one day per week during snow season, students have half days of school and then spend the remainder of the day honing their skills on ski slopes, crosscountry trails, or ice rinks.  Mostly volunteer led and supported by the local ski resorts, it's an amazing opportunity for kids... Bear is one of them. As we get more accustomed to our new Tuesday afternoon routine, I'm sure I'll be posting an update or two from the slopes.

Now for the photography tip! I read about it in the same I Heart Faces article as that last tip of mine came from.  Really, it's more a pass it down the alley kind of thing than a tip straight from me to you.  Anway, it's cool.  Take a picture of lights with your DSLR camera in focus...

 Mundane.  Now, flip that little switch on the lens you're using from "AF" (auto focus), to "MF" (manual focus) and take the picture again...

Waaaay more awesome.  Since this technique is mostly just letting your camera go out of focus before taking a picture, apply that to whatever type of camera you own and go to town hunting down lights.

Such a random little tidbit, but one with serious quick impact, right?!

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