February 27, 2010

and it's still snowing...

Did you think I had been eaten by wild dogs yesterday?  That I had been dragged off by the Abominable Snowman?  Did you worry that my skull was still not quite right?

Well, whether I ever will be (or ever fully was, for that matter) right in the head, the reason for my lack of posting yesterday was due to the snow.

                              (this is AFTER Champ shoveled the cars off)

THE SNOW SNOW SNOW!  We have over 30" inches and are still in a winter storm warning until tomorrow.  

That's OK though since being snowed in is what winter in Vermont is all about. 

I love the stillness and quiet.  The whiteness on the trees.  Even the power outages.  I know it means an abrupt disconnect to family, friends and bloggy buddies alike, but sometimes I need intervention like that- just not quite as long as it's been this go round!

 (the snow is higher than Bear -he's not thrilled about it.  And look- we finally have enough snow to make steps leading up to the sledding hill!)

We had a brief glimpse into electricity during the storm: Enough time to answer a few e-mails and comments, collect a bit more water and check in with family to start the "snow chain" that we were alive and fine up here in the North ;)

(lovely workers coming to fix the power after it FIRST went out.  Can you guess what caused it to blow?) 

For now we have power, but if you don't hear from me come Monday, well, you'll probably be able to guess whyI wish I could show you just how much snow has fallen and how gorgeous it looks, but it seems my depth perception fails to display on the photos I've taken (wish I could blame it on the concussion) so instead, let me show you how we've been living these past few days...
once we realized the power wasn't coming back any time soon, we moved the upright freezer outside in the hopes that it's contents would remain yeah, frozen.

Bear is doing his chore of filling all our buckets with snow to melt for drinking water (or at least he's doing his version of it).

I found the process a bit funny.  Champ didn't share my humor, nor did he appreciate my pause in the heavy lifting to take a picture. 
He said "less blogging, more lifting"!

We moved all the fridge stuff outside in coolers.  Nature saw fit to snow on the coolers and bury our Snow Cat...

             (poor Snow Cat trying so hard to measure the snow fall)

Bear decided that the empty fridge would make a nice display shelf for his vehicles

and Trot?

Trot seemed to long for the days when the bones and balls he had so carefully buried in the Fall wouldn't THEN be buried under 3 feet of snow.

I believe I am going to have to distract his thoughts towards other doggy obsessions, otherwise I will have a very sad pitt bull on my hands until Mud Season arrives.

I would like nothing better than to sit down and play further on my computer,spreading my hellos to the blogging community.  However, I supposed it is my Motherly duty while Champ is at work to shovel the driveway, collect wood for the fire and put a pot of soup on the stove so that if the power does go out again, I'll be prepared.  Laura Ingalls Wilder is suddenly my hero.

Chat on Monday, shall we?

February 24, 2010

Out of my mind

Why hello everyone, it's so good to be back!  I should warn you though that I am not all here... 

You see, yesterday, during the major snowstorm we are still having I decided to give myself a concussion.

Do I even begin to explain it here?  Eck, I think not.  Don't you worry though I will in due time;  it's just that it's so "Not Me Monday" worthy that I will bank the full story away until then. 

For now, know that I am OK, icing my head regularly, diligently woken up by Champ every 2 hours last night and avoiding reading any text as that tends to send my sensitive brain into a fit.  So (I am such an awful bloggy friend to say this!) I am following doctor's orders and postponing my reading of other's blogs and writing full posts on my blog until Friday.  

*sigh*  you do know I love you all, right? 

I really, really love you all and I promise to sprinkle love like 200% next week to all of you fellow bloggers out there and I'll send overwhelming happy thoughts to all of you dear non-bloggy readers, too!

So a few housekeeping items to take care of before I go:

Mom, Dad, Mom-in-law, Dad-in-law I'm fine, really :)

Welcome back Taylor!  I was so excited to see you are feeling better and back to posting.  Can't wait to catch up with you next week!

Fellow staff at Champ's school: Yup, that ambulance you all saw yesterday- totally for me.  Thank you again L for your wonderful balance of professionalism and friendship that helped to keep me calm.  The rescue squad is blessed to have you!

Ah yeah, co-workers at my non-profit, I totally owe ya one!  Any particular baked good request?

Katelyn, thank you again for the Sunshine Award.  I hope to be spreading Little Miss Sunshine rays again soon enough.  Congrats on your photo shoot with "A"!  I am so very proud of you :) 

I am thrilled that you have your computer back, 
Aimee!  How would I have carried on without your posts?  Personally thank your computer savy brother for me.
Oh wait!  I can't leave without a picture.  Let's see, how about this one of O and G

and to drive my point home, how about a little
XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO for all of you.  Love, TJ

February 22, 2010

How's your breathwork?

"Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?"   - Mary Oliver

I always feel that a good measure of how our weekend went down is by 

surveying the amount

 of joyful chaos

that occurs when friends come to visit.

"Breathing just a little and calling it a life?"

Not this weekend. 

This weekend was filled with glorious gulps of friendship. 

Hope you all experienced similar breath filled moments this weekend!  The project is almost done and I'll be back to regularly blogging and commenting by Wednesday...

...about that, I do not jest.

*comments have been turned off*

February 18, 2010

A material girl

I am taking a bit of a bloggy break to turn this


into something warm and cozy 

I'll be back next week, but in the meantime, no posting, no commenting for me.  It's all TJ's hands on deck until the project is f.i.n.i.s.h.e.d.

XOXO 'til then bloggy friends!

February 17, 2010

Just don't call it tomato sauce

I like cookbooks.  I have quite a few.  Actually it's to the point where I have begun to wean out ones I don't use because I am running out of shelf space.  Prime real estate shelf space for keepers like "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld.  

Are you familiar with this read?  Oh, has your book club done it?  

I received it as a gift and was surprised at how much I actually love the book.  It's premise is a guide to hiding fruits and vegetables inside unassuming cakes and chicken nuggets.  Bear and I don't need this kind of Tom Foolery, but Champ?  Yeah, I totally need to be deceptive with his veggies.

Jessica suggests having a freezer full of vegetable/fruit purees on hand to make recipe prep that much easier.  
I moved stuff around in my freezer so you could truly APPRECIATE the pile of COLOR that frozen purees provide.  Look how pretty!

If there's one tip from the book I'd pass on to you, I'd say follow the main theme and freeze some purees, especially if you are a member of a CSA as I am.  There's no waste or rotting of produce and I can use my purees throughout the year.  Plus, when my CSA has a surplus of squash, or kale or whatever else, I don't have to try and use it all right away.  The same concept can be applied to grocery store sales.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about gravy, not purees,  so POOF...


gravy it is.  Here's how to make a big 'ol batch of tomato gravy and hide tons of good for you veggies in it.

Good Gravy (as inspired by "Deceptively Delicious")
*makes a little over 3 quarts.  You can freeze leftovers* 

dump in to your crockpot:
- 2 28 oz cans tomato puree
- 1 quart canned tomatoes or a 28 oz can of tomatoes
- 1/4-1/2 C water (depending on a thin or thick gravy)
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1 chopped onion
- 2T brown sugar (optional)
-  salt to taste (about 1t)

that's the basic recipe.  Now to this add:

 - 2 T dried Italian herbs (I use herbs I've hung to dry from my garden, so the flavors are always changing.  Oregano, thyme, marjoram and sage are all good choices)
- 1T fresh chopped herbs (again, I use herbs I've frozen, so it constantly changes, parsley, chives and oregano are good choices)
- 1/2 C "green" puree (spinach, kale, bok choy etc)
- 1/2 -1C any veggies you have floating around (mushrooms, peppers, summer squash etc.  If I know Champ wouldn't eat it if he SEES it, I just puree it and then add it in, otherwise it's diced)

 Set the crockpot to low and ignore it for 6-8 hours.  once you are back on speaking terms with it, you will have a flavorful, mellowed, veggie-packed gravy.  Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve.  Mangia!

February 16, 2010

What's that noise?

Many of you came to my rescue a while back when I asked for some feedback on how to reduce noise in a photo.  In true awesome reader form, the answers you gave were so clear, and "doable" that I figured I should share the info with the rest of my bloggy friends.

Here' s the deal:  I am not a photography site, nor do I think I will ever become one especially since there are lots of amazing blogs on that topic out there (you'll meet some today).  I am however, a novice, let's say "picture taker", who is striving to use her point and shoot to the best of it's ability.  So I figure, any knowledge that I gain I should pass on to you, too.  That way there will be more beautiful pictures in the world even if they might not be considered "professional".  

I am only going to focus on the answers to my noise question today, but from here on out I will occasionally post other photography issues. That way, you will eventually meet ALL the lovely people who continue to help me become a better picture taker photographer.

...oh camera of mine!

I asked here how to get noise, or fuzziness, out of my close-up shots.  Many of you suggested allowing as much natural light as possible whether that be outside or indoors close to windows.

Lena (who has an adorable son!) suggested turning on the flash and laying a piece of 1 ply tissue over it to soften the harsh light. 

-She also uses a program called NeatImage (standalone and plugin for Photoshop) and reports it does smart blurring out of the noise.

- My friend Becky suggested that if you increase shutter speed then you could alter the aperture, thus letting more natural light in.  

- She also surprised me by saying that if you have a camera with removable lens, you can invert the lens to make it macro.  Just hold it up to the camera body and shoot away.  I am going to attempt to do this using an old film lens of mine and my point and shoot.  Who knows?!!

Caroline, who describes herself as a "baby photographer and photography editor", but is more like "awesome photography goddess" to me sent a few tips:

- pushing the zoom out of optical and in to digital always creates noise. Try watching the zoom meter and stop before it jumps into digital, or even better if you can turn off the digital zoom then do.

- Use the macro mode and move in closer

- Always BE as close as you can and use minimal zoom with a point and shoot

- set you ISO to it's lowest setting and shoot in portrait mode. This will open up the aperture (like the pupil of the eye) to let more light in. The camera may well warn you of camera shake and suggest you turn the flash on. This is so it can keep a faster shutter speed and get a tac-sharp picture. If you don't want to use flash you are going to need a VERY steady hand, especially indoors, but your pictures may also be a little dark because of the low ISO.

- Try using portrait mode OUTSIDE in good light, close up and see if you still gets lots of noise

- if all else fails get a copy of the free shareware: 'noiseware - community edition' and run your close ups through it  

See what I mean, I have the best readers ever!!!  I plan on incorporating these tips into my photo taking.  In fact, I've already done the tissue trick with rave results and I am now using Noiseware...

Check these out (originals on the left, edited on the right):



I was impressed.  Champ's arm did seem to become a bit feminine with the adjustments, but over all I LOVE it.  

Thanks again to all those who shared and I wish you all a photographic day!

February 14, 2010

Not Me Monday

Hello all!   Hope everyone had a LOVEly Valentine's day.  Let's start this week with a rousing "Not Me" shall we?


It's a caged Bear!  The boy was not so smitten with the dog cage that he spent more time in it than the actual visiting dog did.  I mean, who would let their child do such a thing?  Although  Eddie was just fine with the fact that Bear preferred the cage since it mean he had a reason to sit on the couch.


My computer recently developed a strange series of marks on the front of it.  I do not have a clue who could have drawn them.  Why it could not be the work of a young household member since that member absolutely understands and respects the NO TRESPASSING signs around his Mama's work space.

Are you all familiar with this product:

Well, not me, nope no way!   NOT EVEN IN A BLUE MOON would Bear take this thick balm and spread it all over his hair at nap time.  That boy knows he is expected to sleep during his nap, NOT smear that all over...


Furthermore, don't you even think for a second that my son would disobey me when he is to be napping.  He would never get so distracted during his nap time (yet remain so stealthily quiet, the little bugger) that it would lead to this scene of disarray:


 Why? Well because that would mean he figured out how to open his closet and create a makeshift stool which allowed him to reach a generally out of reach drawer.  Once reaching said drawer it would imply that Bear was able to open the drawer, remove his medical supply kit, unzip it and strew it's contents all over the bed.  I tell ya, it was not me who found that scene one day.  Nope, not me at all.

My spilling of the beans is brought to you courtesy of Mckmama.  Head over to her blog and hear what others are NOT doing.  And since you seem a little concerned: Bear was fine and none of the things he got in to would have severely hurt him or his health (well, except for the scissors I suppose).  The room is now baby toddler proofed again.

A note for you...




My lovely, lovable readers!

February 12, 2010

Apron wearing 101


A few posts back, I mentioned Bear wears an apron for certain activities.  If you memory serves you well, you might also recall he wore an apron and not much else in that post.  

Well, I'm here today to tell you that yes aprons are the norm in our house and apron wearing in the buff? Not so much. 

Aprons are an important aspect of the Montessori education because they clearly represent when an activity is beginning and ending.  Bear knows that when he and I put on our aprons in the kitchen we are going to get down to business.  He also knows that when we take them off, the activity has ended and we will be transitioning to something else. 

The kindergarten teacher in me likes to keep transitions as smooth as possible!


Bear also has an apron that he uses during arts and crafts or while using his tools to help Champ with a project.  These aprons don't necessarily keep Bear clean (I have yet to figure out why that is since you or I would wear an apron for that reason), but they do easily signal to Bear what we will be doing when I ask him to put one on.  Even better, it lets me know his intentions if I see him reaching for an apron of his on his own.

I'll admit, I was skeptical of the whole apron thing before we started, but now it's almost second nature.  Bear has his aprons, I have mine and we both do our important work around the house; developing his practical life skills as we go.

February 11, 2010

You Capture: work


Today's You Capture's subject is work.  Quite honestly, I am much more excited to check out what others have posted for this than I am to complete my own.  I just wasn't feeling any of the "work" photos.

C'est la vie I suppose.

However, after you've muddled along through here with me, be sure to head over to I Should Be Folding Laundry to get a good dose of beautiful, work related photography!

Yeah, so about my work.  I was going to post some pictures of the ultimate job: Mama, or even, Wife, but I figured since you already know I hold those jobs,  I'd let you in on my other lesser known areas of employment.

Come on in...

I work part time in this fun place for a non-profit substance abuse prevention coallition.  Basically, my organization provides a wide array of programs and activities to the community centered around substance abuse prevention.  We serve families, individuals, and my favorite- YOUTH! 

When I first started here, I worked in the After School Program.  The year I became pregnant I served them as an Ameri Corps VISTA.  One of the coolest things about where I work is the fact that they are so deeply committed to the Ameri-Corps program. 

Another cool thing?  I love my co-workers

and Bear does too.

My other part time gig involves this: 

A camera.
I work as a hostess for a local public access tv station.  It is the best job for me: I get to talk with people and I get paid for it!  That's crazy since I am happy to talk to people, all day every day for free (shhh, don't tell my producer!).

My program showcases the people, places and things that make where I live so wonderful.

and speaking of wonderful (nice transition, TJ)...

whether I'm working at the office or in the studio, more often than not, Bear is right there beside me.

and that, That is truly wonderful.

February 10, 2010

Punjabi Prime

It's the simple pleasures in life, right? 

Which is why, once again, I just want to say how darn cool all of you are!  Thank you to everyone who recently signed on as a follower or subscriber to my blog and much love to you lurkers, too: I think you are all fabulous!

I just checked to see if I was following all MY bloggy followers and I hit a few glitches.  So if you are over there in my fun little follower box and you want, but don't have, Bear's face following along on your blog, please please please let me know! Just leave a comment so I can follow back to your blog or drop me an e-mail.

Now, about Punjabi Prime.  Unlike the hair treatment    I did with J in this post, today is going to be all about vibrant, red hennaSince henna is a plant, it changes depending on the climate and season where it's grown.  "Punjabi Prime" is simply the label for this particular crop of henna.

Ready for some magic?

First off, I notice that my hair's gotten a bit drabby and dull.  Also, I notice that I really should style my hair more often.

I take out my packet of Punjabi Prime henna that I ordered from my favorite henna shop and I add enough lemon juice to it to make a "yogurt like consistency".  There's no science behind this, I just add until it looks right.

 I also add about 1T cardamom just because I like the smell.

When it looks like this

I put it in a warm place (by the wood stove) for 12 hours to do it's thing.  I usually do it at night and then henna         the following morning.

The next steps are the same as was with J.  I smear a bit of coconut oil around my hairline and then begin to apply the henna with a paintbrush, slathering it on like mud from root to tip. 

 I eventually look like this - 
and then I keep it on for a little over 2 hours and go about my business, usually with a shopping bag over my head to catch any drips.  And because, you see that is the stylish thing to do when using henna. 

The final step is to rinse it all out, shower as normal, style and voila... (I pulled my hair apart there so you could see the root- it will blend in to the overall color within 48 hours)


or even better...
Henna is so wild to me: I love to tell people I use henna when asked about my "beautiful hair color".  Are you a bit curious?  Check out Henna for Hair to learn more and be amazed.

*disclaimer* I promise you all these photos are SOOC and shot in the same place with the same light.  I've done no editing at all.
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