Monday, November 21, 2011

Wholesome and Economical Groceries

This is what our shopping cart looks like these days.  The cashier thought it must be some sort of project or experiment; she said people don't usually buy that much produce.  Laughing, I told her this is just what we are eatting.  The boys picked out lots of fruit, but buried in the back are potatoes, lettuce, spinach, radishes, onion, etc.  

Does it cost more?  We're still trying to decide.  Organic does raise the price, but all in all for the same amount of money we would have paid for a case of Mountain Dew we can now buy a fresh pineapple. This particular trip was under $100 at Price Chopper and my shopping cart was overflowing with a variety of tasty foods.  

Want to include more produce for your family?  Lay it out with a variety of colors like the fruit bowl below and you'll entice people to munch healthy things before they even know it. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Black, Black, Black

Black is not my favorite color of glass, but once I started working with it I became intrigued with subtle differences in the glass. Here's five kinds of black glass made into crosses.  My intent was to make one or two black glass crosses (bottom left is already sold), yet it was interesting to see the difference the glass can make in how the cross turns out: elegant, modern, funky, or classic. 

I don't wear too much black, but the black crosses go really nice with my fall sweaters and jackets.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Creative Play

My youngest son loves his stuffed animal birds that make the same bird call as their live counterparts.  (Now if only we could remember the names of the birds we could then identify birds when they come chirping in our yard...) 

One day, he asked to borrow a camera so he could take photos of his beloved birds in a tree out back.  He and his brother spent quite a bit of time positioning them in a tree and photographing them from different angles.  I love it!

During the dog days of summer the boys took a bunch of thick black paper clips and made their own creations.  They would clip them together in different ways to make monsters, men, vehicles, get the idea.  They keep surprising me with all the new things they come with to use the clips.  

Finally, the best form of play of all, running around in the rain.  Priceless.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zeal Mandala

Zeal Mandala

Several years ago I created a series of circular designs, or mandalas, as a part of a healing-creative-prayerful time.  During the week I was working on each mandala the books I would read, the people I talked to, and the shows I watched all reinforced the theme of that particular mandala.  It was really uncanny.  That's why each mandala is like a powerful nonverbal prayer to me.  In my heart, I know creating each of the designs was part of my healing, and I still treasure them.  

One of the odder mandala names was "Zeal" not a word we normally use.  The dictionary defines it as: great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.

Last month, as we were scheduling my husband for chemo, this particular mandala popped up on my computer screen.  Now, to be fair, I have thousands of photos that occasionally pop up because I can't figure out how to make them go away.  Regardless, when I saw that bright little mandala icon it warmed me heart.  So much so, that I printed off a copy to put on the fridge.  I thought "Zeal" was kinda a funny prayer for chemotherapy, but since I wasn't really looking forward to the love-of-my-life going through it, I guessed I could use some enthusiasm.

Wow, what changes a month can bring!  Within days of putting up that mandala my husband, Shawn, decided he was NOT going to go the chemo or radiation route, instead he was going on a 100% Plant Based Diet.  Suddenly "Zeal" was an excellent affirmative prayer to have on my fridge.  Every time I have to plan a meal, make a lunch, or find something to feed the kids from our new diet, there it is to cheer me on.
Release Mandala
Several weeks later, my youngest son brought me another mandala print-out.  He doesn't know how he did it - he was really doing his Spanish, but somehow it printed.  This had never happened before, and I looked on it almost as a gift from above. The name of the freeform mandala is "Release".  Which I, unknowingly at the time when I created it, gave to a woman whose husband had cancer.  This comes full circle to me.  Zeal and enthusiasm for what we can do, and then release the rest.  We can do this.

I'll be happy to share my process for making mandalas in a future post if there's any interest so let me know if you want a tutorial...or if you just want to color one in, you can print them for free for personal use off my website  I have 30 different prayer mandalas I created in the series available there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Building Raised Beds

The best time to build a raised bed is Autumn if you want to layer materials that will need to decompose over the winter.  I know August is a little early...but we had the time and nice weather so the boys went to work on our raised beds.  Now I'll have time to work on them this fall!
7 yo loved watching how Papa was cutting

The raised beds are 4'x10' (the recommended width so it can be weeded easily).  We decided for beds to be 10 feet long with a walkway in-between.  This allows for a sitting spot during weeding, and the crosswalk provides a way to get to the other side without walking all the way around.  

Each boy took turns holding boards and drilling some, too.

It's made of untreated wood because you don't want to use treated wood for food you are eating.  It's 12" lumber because you want your raised bed to be deep enough to really work.   This will also make it easier to weed.  My least favorite gardening job.
First box almost done; it just needs corner reinforcements
Here they are in place 
Now that the frames are built I can lay down a layer of cardboard, and then start the "Lasagna Gardening": layers of compost, manure, soil, and shredded newspaper. Ideally, we want those things heaped up out of the frame 18-24" in a few months so that when it settles we'll have a nice 12" of growing medium for next year.  We'll see.  
Of course they have to use them as a balance beam...for now

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome to my Studio

Soldering Station
Welcome to my art/glass studio...feel free to take a look around.  On the left, I have lots of art books on the shelves, with baskets to hold supplies.  The bulletin board holds inspirations and ideas.  The file cabinets hold more books and supplies, while the wood creates on top hold some glass and finished pieces.  (Notice the lovely yellowed foam picked up at a garage sale for the cushioning...)

I'm left handed, so I really wanted the soldering iron to be on my left and away from any potential visits from the boys.
My long table with light box on the end
This rocking chair has since moved upstairs, but I really miss it for my muses.  On the left is my wonderful, best garage-sale-find-ever, old wooden table.  It's something like 10 feet long...I love it.  On the right, is my cutting station, in the middle is a bare work area, and on the left (closest to the door) is the light box I built into it.  Well, I really had my husband cut it out for me, but you get the idea.

The grinder (the red machine by the window) has a splash guard around it I created to keep down on the glass dust it sprays in a radius around it. 

All in all, I love going into my own creative space - whether I'm puttering around, developing new ideas, or working frantically to get something done by a deadline.  This sunny yellow room always brings me joy.  In fact, I think I'll head there now...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blackberry Smoothie Recipes

Did you know blackberries cover up the green of kale or spinach in a smoothie?  It tinges the whole smoothie a dark purple.  Pretty handy as we try to increase veggies in the boys' diet.

Blackberry Yogurt Smoothie (lighter color)
1 c. blackberries
1-2 bananas
1 c. any yogurt
1/2 c. rice milk
2 small pieces of kale with stems removed

Dairy Free Blackberry Smoothie (darker color)
1 c. blackberries
1 banana
1 c. rice milk
1 small piece of kale with stem removed

Put in a high powered blender and blend.  If you don't have a high powered blender you can use a regular one, it just may not be as smooth.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blackberry Picking

The boys are awesome berry pickers!

Luckily, there is a blackberry farm down the street, and every year we go pick our own blackberries.  While the kids eat some berries raw, the berries also make great smoothies and jam.  Blackberries grow wild around here, but those have thorns on them.  

Homemade contraption the farmer made to hold  the bucket using hose and hanger wire
We've gotten a break from the temps in the 100s and it was beautiful weather for picking blackberries.  Although my youngest was not fond of the bugs, he was able to entertain himself by taking some pictures.  (The good news is that the blackberry farm doesn't spray their blackberries...the bad news is the bugs know this.)  There were kids whining a few aisles over, and it made me even prouder of my boys and the great picking they did.
Day 1: We ate up the berries in the box on the left

Monday, August 8, 2011

100% Plant Based Diet

summer bonanza of local fruit and veggies
No doubt spurred on because he has breast cancer and knows he is fighting for his life, my husband has made the monumental decision to entirely change the way he eats.  Starting immediately.  Frankly, I had never thought it possible that Mr. Frozen Pizza and Ice Cream would become...Mr. 100% Plant Based Diet. 

Some people may call this way of eating vegetarian or vegan, but my husband prefers to proudly state he is on a "100% plant based diet".  Last week we watched a video called "Eating" that does an excellent job outlining the ill effects of an animal based diet, and the power of a plant based diet to rebuild the immune system.  Since then we've also watched a surprisingly uplifting film on Netflix called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", too.  

Our dinner that first night was oatmeal.  Not very well rounded, but hey, at least he wasn't putting toxins in his body.  I quickly scrounged up a lunch for him for the next day...I believe it was a lettuce and tomato salad with Italian dressing along with Wasa crackers and PB for a snack.
Our new breakfast of choice
For five years, I've been on a low-fat diet because of my MS like symptoms, and so we do regularly eat vegetarian meals each week.  Also, for one year we've been doing dairy free for my middle son who has asthma.  His Naturopathic Physician gave us many great dairy free alternatives and that helped with that transition a lot.  So we've had some experience changing the way we eat, but this definitely notches it up a level, or two, or three...  

Bye bye junk food cereal...
Our whole family is going 100% plant based for our health.  My husband, Shawn, needs to heal from cancer, I need to heal from MS-like stuff, ds1 has bad eczema and dyslexia, ds2 asthma, and ds3 is developing allergies.   ALL of these things can be affected by diet.  Wow.  And wouldn't it be nice to lose some weight and not get sick all the time.   

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Hidden Blessing

Playing "Conquest of the Empire"
I'm a firm believer every situation brings an opportunity for good.  It doesn't make the situation good by any means, but life "is what it is" and if you make the most of it...well, at a minimum it's more endurable.  

Each person has their own "Caesar" and empire to build
While Shawn recovered from surgery he played several board games with the boys to regain his stamina.  This was a blessing for the boys, as well as Shawn,  who all enjoy playing strategy games.  

These games also expose the boys to geography and history.  My 7yo ds can't wait to begin our studies of Ancient History this fall.  He already loves Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome because of the games he's played, books he's read, and documentaries he's watched. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tolstroy and the Purple Chair

I never read Tolstroy, but I have read "Tolstroy and the Purple Chair" by Nina Sankovitch.  This counts as high culture, right?  By chance, I even read the book while sitting on my own purple fold-up chair at a swim meet.  It didn't occur to me until I returned to my chair from watching ds race and saw my copy of "Tolstroy and the Purple Chair" sitting on MY purple chair. 
Purple Chair #1
Already a blogger on her website,, Nina made a commitment to read an entire book everyday for a year.  She also blogged about each book daily.  Gotta love that tenacity.  As the mother of three boys myself, I also really appreciated the time dedication this required.

As I read this book, I was trying to take my mind off my husband's possible breast cancer.  I didn't know it when I first picked up the book, but the author was grieving the loss of her sister to cancer throughout the book.  While this didn't help me take my mind off dh, it did assure me the comfort of "escaping" into a good book.  He does have breast cancer, but we're both reading a lot of books this summer while he's recovering from surgery. Right now, I'm waiting for a book on health and healing to come in from Amazon.
Purple Chair #2
On a lighter note - can you believe I have TWO purple chairs?  My childhood rocking chair is also painted purple.  Honestly, I think the purple chair is what attracted me to the book in the first place.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Framed Crystals?

Mom and I teamed up to create these...suncatchers?  light catchers?  Framed amulets or hanging crystals?  Please comment and let me know what you think they should be called.  We're starting to add them to my etsy shop...but we still don't know what to call them.

Several years ago my mom started embellishing crystal prisms with well selected additional crystal, stone, and glass beads.  For example, the one on the bottom is the "Purple Bears" one she gifted me with featuring little purple bear beads.  It's lovely, but it would seem to get overlooked in of my house. That's when I decided to frame it, and the combo really is breathtaking if I do say so myself.  I took it in to show Mom at work, and her co-workers all stopped to stare as well.  
First one posted on etsy...called a framed amulet?
"It" is the perfect combo of her amulets and my stained glass.  Of course, it could be called a suncatcher, but it's not the traditional type at all.  So how to convey the difference the open space and hanging crystals in the middle makes?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Morning Surprise

It's not often I go out and sit down in my front garden, but it's a good place to take pictures of my crosses for Etsy.  So while I was out there this morning taking pictures, I looked up and really "saw" my catmint, echinacea, and daisies towering over me.  Wow!  From down there they are looking good.  

From the street, the daisies are too tall since I split them last year and apparently did not put them in the ground as low as they were before.  Now I'll need to split the echinacea, and raise them up, or lower the daisies.  Luckily, neither can be done in this heat.  So I can sit back and enjoy.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Ozark Vacation

Inside our Rustic Log Cabin
For vacation I wanted the kids to experience the Ozarks like I did when I was kid.   While some things always change, the essentials can remain the same.  I remember camping, staying in a cabin, and staying at a lodge.  After much research I picked this air conditioned "rustic" log cabin for our abode.  The a/c was for my husband, but the pioneer type cabin was for me and the boys.  We've been reading the Little House on the Prairie series and I thought they'd get a real kick out of an authentic cabin.

I loved sitting out on the porch in the morning and at the end of the day.
We were "down in a holler".  In fact, we could hear Silver Dollar City's evening show across the way.  The trip up the hill to the bathroom was strenuous and inconvenient, but lovely.  Luckily, there was enough honest to goodness woods around us you could just go around behind the cabin if you were so inclined.  The boys loved it.

Our cabin didn't come with a kitchenette, but we ate a continental breakfast at the picnic table, and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows in the fire pit.  (By the third night my husband was done with hot dogs).  We did have sandwich makings and plenty of snacks for alternatives.

The pool had way to much chlorine - it actually bleached the boys swim trunks out.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  When I talked to them about it at the front desk she said they check it everyday, but I think they maintained it at too high a level.  The boys got a few chlorine skin burns too.
After a full day of Silver Dollar City and swimming the boys would spend a long time around the campfire.  The first day our ds gathered sticks for us.

This raccoon scared the heck out of me one day when I came back to the cabin by myself, I walked in and took a swig of my soda pop - and there was an animal in the rafters right above me...My heart skipped a beat until I realized it was fake.
The wasp I killed the day before in our cabin was all too real.
My morning view

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stained Glass Horse

The pieces are in place!
Working on a "cartoon", fitting the pieces together one at a time
The pieces moved onto my light table after the initial cutting.  Normally kept together in order, this time I just moved them onto the light table in a hurry.

Sometimes working in stained glass is like doing a jigsaw puzzle.  Except I get to put numbers on the pieces, and I can cut the pieces to fit.  Here's a horse named Star taking shape in stained glass.