Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Welcome Home Gypsy


Meet our newest family member, Gypsy. She's a Miniature American Shepard...aka Miniature Australian Shepard. She's perfect! My husband loves to do his research. I'm not going to say that he's obsessive...no, I won't say that...but seeing my sweet husband staying up late night after night on the computer looking at puppy pictures makes me love him more.

We were very particular in what we were looking for. Finding the right puppy for your family is very serious business. We have been thinking about this for months. My 9 year old son is a bit on the hyper side and his older brother is NOT. My daughters are a bit young to play the way Anthony wants to play...and, well, he's a boy. We needed a dog he could play fetch and Frisbee with in the back yard. We needed a dog that would have the energy to keep up with him. That was the first criteria.

Secondly, we have been wanting to get really involved in Agility Training ever since we went to a show and met the dogs and their people. We have training courses close by until we build our own. I am going to train Cricket my Coton - Zhu, but she isn't what you would consider high-energy. She is a companion dog and has been calm and easy from the day we brought her home. She's great at tricks and being by my side 24/7. She's more of a 1 person dog...mine:)


We also didn't want a dog that would be so big they would knock the girls over. I've had a Lab and they are wonderful, but they would be a bit big for my 3 and 4 year old girls. We do have a little bit of land for running, but we didn't want a big runner. We also didn't want a hunting dog that would be apt to run off on the scent of something. My husband has had Beagles. They are loving and sweet but once they want to chase they tend to go. Hunting dogs and gun dogs were out.

Next, our chickens and cats. I LOVE Terriers. They are fun and loving and crazy smart. They are also amazing killers when they want to be. Of course Cricket is also and she's not a Terrier. She can find and kill a mouse before the cats have a chance. She is great with the chickens though. I read too much about most Terriers having a hard time being part of the chicken and cat family.

link to when Gypsy meets the chickens on Yellow Hen House


 We don't mind the grooming, in fact we like it. My husband sits with Cricket every night and we found a great local groomer to take her to for the bells and whistles. That opened up more choices for us.

Back to the chickens for a second...if you read my blog and have ever seen my other blog Yellow Hen House then you know I LOVE my chickens.  My Dad has Border Collies and he bought them sheep. Australian Shepherds are also herding dogs that will round up the chickens. Voila...perfect match.

Why we found the Miniature Australian Shephards to be a perfect match for our family:

Great with the family and other pets including chickens.
Will play ball and Frisbee with my son - a LOT
The breed is on the top 5 of Agility Course Champions
Very Smart so we can start Obedience Training in a few weeks.
We love the herding type dogs like my Father's.
The mini size is perfect for us and won't take up the whole sofa
I'm home all day with the girls so she will get lots and lots of attention to be well trained.
The breed is healthy - (this knocked out a few other breeds that were in the running.)
Last but not least....look at that face!!!! Pure love!!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Just Praying for the Families

I never really speak of religion as I believe it is a private matter and we all have the freedom to believe in what works for each of us. However, it is in times like this when we see the news reports coming out of Newtown that we all go inside ourselves to our own faith.

We pray, we hold our own children closer, and we cry for those who have had their lives ripped apart by evil. But mostly, we must pray for love and healing. I've held my children and we have cried. We discussed our faith in being eternally connected to the universe and to each other. We hope that our tears, our pain that we feel for the families will help lessen the burden on their hearts. We pray that our love and hopes for their strength will help support them through this time. There are no other words except that the world shares in the loss and the pain.


Monday, December 10, 2012

NYC in One Day

Rockefeller Center Tree
 I have never seen so many people in one place doing nothing in my whole life! It was wonderful!  Scary, but wonderful. There was a time when we were leaving that I wasn't being moved by my own effort...simply pushed along in the crowd. I didn't like that, but strangely, my oldest son did. He is convinced he wants to live in NYC. He's the boy who doesn't like the crowd at the mall, but increase that 100 times and stick him in the city and he's in heaven. I don't get it. What I liked is that people were happy. We were all there to see the Christmas tree, how could there not be an overall atmosphere of cheer?
Brynt Park....LOVE it!!
We took a bus through the school with the money going to support the Fine Arts Boosters. I'd support that cause over any other with the school. They waste so much money yet don't support what, I believe, is the most important aspect of school...the HUMANities. Art, band, choir, drama....the stuff that makes us human. That being said, I would never take a tour bus again. Next time...we drive in to find a train. My husband and I are both sensitive to chemicals and you simply can't ride in close quarters with 60 people and not expect the bus to fill up with conflicting perfumes and third hand cigarette smoke. It was hard to breeth and I felt sick the whole 5 hours each way. I wish people would hold off on perfume when they know they will be in confined spaces.
 
My little monkey.

My handsome husband<3
this is my BABY boy....at 13
The best Christmas souvenir! Portraits of both my boys. Amazing!
I really wanted real NYC diner food...but the meal would have been over $80..for burgers.
Our new tradition..Angelo's Pizza every time...57th St. 2 blocks from Central Park.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sparkling Christmas Tree Ornaments


My girls love glitter. They could put glitter on everything if I let them. For these ornaments I cut half circles out of card stock and glued them into a cone. I glued ribbon with a small knot in it on the inside of the cone for hanging.  I did the prep work a head of time to keep everyone happy once we sat down to the craft table. My girls are 3 and 4 years old. My 4 year old is very good with her hands, but I still find that it keeps her interest more if I do the prep work when there is drying time involved. 

Once the cones are done I hand them over to the girls and let them do all they want to them. They painted white glue all over the outside of the cone and then held it over the glitter bowl.




 To add a bit more bling they added some sequence with dabs of glue around the ornament. Once they dry they can go right on to the tree or to a Grandma:)





This is how my Coton de Teluer and our kitten sleep all the time now. They are the best of friends.
3 of my babies

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tortilla Pizzas + Kids = Fun






 Sometimes simply adding one extra kid to the mix makes for a party. It’s true, when you get used to having more than three kids in your house you hardly notice a few extras. I never thought I’d say that since I was still convinced I’d never have children up until my early thirties. My Peace Corps plans have long been shelved and now I’m letting my kids bring in reinforcements for sleep-over’s. Yes Mom..it’s really me.
 
  I saw these pizzas in a kids cook book and any time I can NOT do the cooking is a happy day. We just used regular tortillas and spaghetti sauce. I’m not the greatest planner when I go to the grocery store, so they were lucky to get sauce. I always keep a bag of shredded mozzarella in the freezer because honestly, my family will eat almost anything I make as long as it has cheese on it. The rest just depends on what I dig out of the refrigerator. I cooked up some breakfast sausage and sliced it, cut up some peppers I had cut up and froze, olives, red onion, and mushrooms. The little ones only use the cheese, so the rest was pretty much bonus.

The kids had a good time making them and taking ownership over their meals. A salad on the side and paper plates makes for an easy meal.

Sorry Cricket....pizza isn't for dogs...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Paper Sparkle Flower



My beautiful Moon Princess and her sparkle flower


My little Moon Princess really loved this craft. I wasn’t sure if she would be able to finish it on her own, but I only showed her how to fold the paper for two folds. We work with paper folding and weaving a good bit so she did take to it quickly. 

We used a piece of construction paper and folded it from the shorter side with accordion folds. Now that we know how to make fans around here I’m finding them all over. This included a permission slip for one of my sons…I found it just in time. The field trip went off without a hitch.

Here’s the step by step:

Fold paper accordion style with about half inch wide folds.


Once the whole sheet is folded hold together and fold in the center so that the two ends meet.



Cut that open end with one angle or a curve to your liking.



Use clear tape to cover the inside fold where it matches up to the other half. Tape just that one open fold to the other.


Carefully open the fanned end of the flower. This gave me some trouble and you just have to be gentle with it but not afraid to pull it open.


Tape the other two ends together to complete the circle. I also added a line of glue from a glue stick to try to keep the inside together. 


We cut out a circle of other paper and covered it with glitter for the center. We like glitter around here! I ended up just rolling a piece of masking tape up and double sticking it to the circle and the center of the fanned circle. 


This was great for a 4 year old who likes folding. I had to pull it open and secure the outside seam for her. The rest she was able to do on her own. It has too high of difficulty for my 3 year old. She enjoyed making glitter circles though. We used all those glitter circles to make some spiral hanging ornaments.   

Just give the baby glue, a paint brush, and a cup full of glitter. That’s all they need. Hey, it all vacuums up eventually:) 
This baby LOVES glitter!


This is how you get kids to eat vegies!



Why I love Broccoli

My garden is now a skeleton of a memory. The days of fresh tomato salad no longer leave any hint of impression on my taste buds that have grown weary of the tasteless excuses of store bought tomatoes I’ve been subjecting them to.  I am now left to count the days to starting my seedlings once again with dreams of bountiful harvests next year. I have saved my heirloom seeds and they sit on their alter waiting for the winter to pass.  

They will eat the whole plant!
Alas, my garden does not sit barren even on these cold upstate days and frigid nights. I’m inspired by the tenacity of the broccoli plants that hold on to the crisp air and reach as far as they can towards the distant sun. I can always count on many months of enjoyment from the seeds I save over each year. I’m not a good gardener. I don’t claim to be. However, I’ve found that my short comings bring surprising blessings. The broccoli is an example.  


 
They don't even mind the strawberries are gone for now.
Did you know that if you ignore your garden long enough, broccoli has such a will to survive that beautiful yellow flowers will sprout from each delicate floret? I didn’t know this, mostly because until I started this adventure I didn’t know anything about vegetables except how to order them as a side dish.  The tiny yellow flowers are so pretty dusted over the top of a red tomato salad that I’m always glad for my mistakes. My daughters are overjoyed with the concept of flowers you can eat…and perhaps grow into a flower yourself..

If you ignore your garden even longer you will be granted long green seed pods. Ignore them even longer and the stalk turns brown and VOILA you have seeds for the next year. Sometimes I convince myself that I’ve meant to do this…you know, me, the homesteading seed saver.
 
Why do I love growing organic vegetables right outside of my front door? See those two little picky eating girls munching on broccoli? It gives me one of those “good mama” moments when my kids see our garden as the “snacking place”. 

Joy is a pile of leaves on a crisp day!

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Did It!!! I opened an Etsy Shop







I know it's not much yet, but I wanted to take the first step. I need motivation. I have a million ideas and projects started in my studio but now that it's getting cold I thought it was a perfect time to start off with these. I keep trying to get my husband to wear a scarf..because I like the idea of him wearing something I make with love to keep him warm...such a romantic notion anyway. The man would freeze before he wore a scarf:( I've tried. It's time I give up but I love making these. I have bamboo knitting needles and I find that if I knit all winter and take my flax seed oil pills I can keep my fingers from becoming too tight. Am I actually getting this old???? Arggg.

Now that it's official and I did all the filling stuff out to get a shop I will be able to focus more. I'm like that. It's that first step that really gets me sometimes. Anyone else have that problem?

I have looming student loans...so I figure every bit sure helps. This Etsy Shop is dedicated to my 7+ years in college to make me a "highly qualified" housewife. (that's teacher talk for jumping through hoops)

Here's my shop")               http://www.etsy.com/shop/LifeAsWeGrow


I LOVE this yarn!

I listed them for $12 because that was the low end of any others that I saw and I'm just starting out. I would love to hear comments about this since I'm just learning. They are long at 60"-68" because I like to really wrap them around my face. I won't be making many of these because I have my hands full around here, but I do have indoor soccer practice once a week. That's my "me-time". I sit on a cold, hard gym floor and knit. Hey, it's something. I can't complain.

Have a great day!  Julie



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Retro Pen Holder


 Spoiler Alert......beep beep...Spoiler Alert....... (some in our family MAY be getting these for Christmas)

We are making all our gifts this year. I'm putting the kiddos to work and bribing them with a hidden bag of Dum Dums on my craft shelf. Hey it works:) Even the boys will do anything for a simple lolly pop when you deprive them enough. Really..that's true and those that know me know I'm serious.


I like the Progresso soup cans because they open with a pull tab and don't have sharp edges...but what ever works for you. My 13 year old son eats soup for breakfast.....he decided he doesn't like cereal this semester...OK then...



I made these when I was a kid and I always loved the cork look. We used to use wine bottles.....always had them laying around..:) I made a few bottle lamps "back in the day" by drilling holes in the bottom and buying a light bulb kit. I should do that again now that I think of it.

That's just masking tape. There aren't a lot of instructions with this. I would remind you though that the cool texture look is better when there are more ripped sides of the tape. My youngest can't rip the masking tape yet. She did want to do it herself though...no help here please! So I ripped pieces of tape and as she went I kept her fully stocked on the top of the can. That allowed her to do it herself. My 9 year old son really enjoyed this. It's harder to find crafts for my boys, so anytime I "can" I love it. (giggle...yes, I crack myself up..)

My son especially loved the shoe polish. I like the kind with the sponge on top. Don't worry...there was no mess with this. You can't complain about that! Once the polish dried we used glue to secure strips of material onto the top and bottom. The material was folded in on the top and bottom and covered the bottom completely to keep it softer on the table. For this one we used a dinosaur print...because this is a very "manly" pen holder. My daughters choose to not use the shoe polish but used paint instead. (pink...go figure)

These can be nicely embellished with ribbon, bows, glued on beads....girl it up or boy it down...either way they can make very nice gifts. I'll talk more about our Christmas plans in my next few posts..but it's all homemade and all about family. I don't want to see Christmas sales starting November 1st...arg.....where is the spirit in that??? That's it Mr. Mega Retail....we aren't spending any money this year!


Cute, useful, versatile...final cost...$0.25 for masking tape for the center + scraps. Value of teaching kids to spend time making something for someone they love....$100,000,000.
What do you think?  We are always looking for ideas.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

One World Concert


His Holiness The Dalai Lama (from the cheap seats)
Outside the arena at Syracuse University - People EVERYWHERE:)


I was so blessed and so excited to be able to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama in person. My husband and I have every book I can get my hands on, listened to him many times, and we re-watch the documentaries on NetFlix. To see him in person was special and one of my dreams come true.

Just to be in the same building as The Dalai Lama and to feel his energy was AMAZING!  I walked away with a feeling that my personal happiness is important. Happiness of the individual changes the world. When you are happy and living the way you should be with kind-hardheartedness then you treat others with that kindness and you help them find their own happiness. A happier family leads to a happier community..to a kinder world. Never belittle the importance of the individual.Kind-hardheartedness is indeed contiguous.

He has such a pure and child-like laugh that it lifts your soul to hear him. His wisdom and kindness permeated the arena and it was something that can only be understood when you are in that moment. He also spoke about the mind-body-spirit connection and how our thoughts create disease. It motivated my husband a bit to get back to his meditation practice and it helped motivate me to keep the kids on schedule with their yoga DVD's.  It takes effort. Happiness is the most worthwhile aspiration any of us can have when we realize it leads to a better world for all.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy life:)