Photo Challenge: Eyes


The challengeAll photo challenges should be based around your children (pets welcome). Share a photo of some pretty eyes.
My example of “Eyes”:

What is it about sleeping children that can leave us staring for hours? Is it their peacefulness, quiet beauty or those beautiful eyelashes? Probably all of the above.

join in on The Paper Mamas Photo challenge HERE.
Happy Weekend!

Photographing my Kids


Over the years I'd come home from work and put my camera down, it would sit there until the next time I went off to work, to think of all those memories I let slip by, as a photojournalist I'd never let the moment happen without capturing it but when it came to switching hats and becoming a momtographer that proved to be a difficult process for me. The biggest challenge was finding the energy to pick up the camera on my days off, partly because my equipment was so big and well embarrassing to bring on the playground that I'd opt to leave it behind. It wasn't until I came across another mom blogger talking about her favorite lens that I began my months of research and saving. Back in January I made a resolution to photograph my children and not let any more moments slip away, I was going to make books too, no more memories lost on my computer I wanted tangible proof of our joys and sorrows and my new lens has proven to be the catalyst to the change I needed, I am thankful for my kids, our future and my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 which is the perfect everyday lens.

 Monday I'll show off my DIY camera bag project I've been working on that now holds my new awesome lens and be sure to stop by Under The Sycamore and see AshleyAnn's great photography with using her 24-70mm on her post today.

I'm so glad to have the opportunity to homeschool and capture the spark in Zen's eyes as he looking through his new favorite book BIG NATE, now just crossing my finger's this inspires him to learn to read.

ISO 100 f/3.2 1/500 using Canon 24-70mm







 Here's to curling up with a good book and some homemade pizza in the backyard on a sunny afternoon.


hammock: Anthropologie  2011
post editing done with Pioneer Woman's free photoshop actions HERE



DIY: Tie Dyed Eggs


This was a really fun and easy way to dye eggs. 

What you'll need:

100% silk ties
white cotton material
twine
twist ties
vinegar
water
heavy pot
eggs

We started by going to the local thrift store and picked up some 100% silk ties for 50 cents each.
Picked up a dozen large eggs. I already had twine, vinegar and scraps of white cotton material laying around so the total cost of this project was $5.

First we cut open the backs of the ties and removed the inside lining, then we cut a piece of tie big enough to wrap around the egg and fastened it with twine. Then wrapped white cotton material around that and secured with a twist tie. The eggs are uncooked at this point so be careful not to over tighten or crack them.
We then places them in a pan of water (just enough to cover the eggs) and add 1/4 cup vinegar  binging that to a boil for 20 minutes. 

Let cool and unwrapped the eggs.

This was the really fun part! It worked perfectly!
I did find the more contact the silk makes when you wrap it around the egg the more color that transfers onto the eggs. Any folds or air pockets will between the egg and the material will remain white in those spots.

The kids had a blast and I was extra excited over easy cleanup.




Lifeguard Duty


I consider my self our families official lifeguard, constantly watching, listening and rescuing them from impending death. I sleep with one eye open though I'm not sure if that's for their safety or mine. Even a casual walk down the street can result in blood and gore and I have officially banned crocs from them after the last fall, the're worse than slipping on a banana peel, did I mentioned that actually happened to us. The outside world is full of lurking danger; acorns, garbage cans(we walk into one almost weekly) cracks on the sidewalk and even wet grass can result in one of my kiddos taking a tumble that's before haven't we reach the end of our street. I don't know when or if I'll ever stop being on duty, add water into the mix and I might have to call for back up.


Spring Break is officially here and how nice it's been to have a week free of soccer, piano and school work. We're spending some quality time kicking off our shoes and hanging around with friends.




Link ups to Wordless(ish)(ful) Wednesdays:

Shutter Happy



I definitely don't fit in as a true soccer mom, I'm not there to scream for every move my kids makes, I don't keep score or have my own chair on the side lines, I don't even know the name of his team. sports is just not my thing. So as I sat there half attentive watching the game I realized I like soccer, well at least photographing it. Out of all the sports it's the most fun to take photos, the lighting is great, the kids are constantly in action and it's got great props to work with, even without a camera I managed to take snapped a few good moments with the ipod touch and am lovin' them, so if anything I'm a shutter happy soccer mom at best. Go team!




From the soccer field to a kitchen full of hungry kids, If your anything like me and can burn rice three times in a row or accidental make pudding instead of fudge or your pancakes are flatter than crepes there's a this great article from Cooklight  with all the ins and outs of kitchen mistakes or well disasters in my case and how to avoid them.

 I'm really hopeful there won't be any more green egg salad sandwiches this Easter.








Photo Challenge: Green

The challengeAll photo challenges should be based around your children (pets are always welcome). Share a photo of the little one with green somewhere in the photo.



I love, love, love this photo it's like The Addams Family meets Ren and Stimpy. 
The weirdest part is Pepper was totally into wearing her goggles or doggles as the kiddos call them.

Check out Chelsey's blog and her adorable photos of their dog, I wonder if the bow tie comes in pink?



let sleeping dogs lie


Meet Goldilocks, she's a bit a a trouble maker at her petite size, at night I find her hopping bed to bed looking for the one that's just right to snuggle with. 
 
Luna and Streams beds are too high, Eco's to wiggly, but Zen's bed is just right.



I usually only let the kiddos sleep with her until I go to bed then it's off her own sleeping spot till the morning.  But this was to cute to pass up, Zen had tucked himself and Pepper in with Blankie, I almost didn't want to wake her.
 


I am Soccer Mom


It has begun, thousands of local Mom's gather on the soccer fields every Saturday cheering, screaming and completely exhausted. I prefer soccer over any other team sport I love that it involves a lot of running and they get to be a part of a team, I don't love that we're either going to practice or a game 5 days a week and like it or NOT I have become a total soccer mom.





Did I mention how early we have to get up on Saturdays?



Wordless(ish) Wednesdays Link ups:



Slip Sliding Away


I'm always amazed at how many hours kids can play on a bounce house if you let them. 
Now if I could only just figure out how to redirect that energy and excitement for good like cleaning their room or walking the dog or putting their dirty dished in the sink everyday life might be more fun. Maybe get some of those moon walking boots and we can bounce around the house cleaning, first let's start with their feet.... nearly white carpet is not my friend.



My kids don't have to try and be different, it comes naturally.




Chelsea over at The Paper Mama talked about pinning responsibly, you're welcome to pin anything on our blog just remember to give create and I'll do the same! Just Right-click if you want to grab this pin for your blog!

and

I can't wait to share my redesigned lego bracelet with everyone and a special story to go with later this week!


Photo Challenge: The Happy Hand

The Paper Mama challenge Share a photo with a hand in it.

My example of “Hand”:



This is what my son does when you ask him to paint a picture of flowers.


 
I could go into a whole bunch of hand puns but I'll refrain.
It's a busy couple of days here kicking it off Zen and Stream have their first soccer games , a funeral for Luna's pet fish,  the Arts and Crafts Festival, a birthday party, of course work, I might just need a few more helping hands. (did you really think I could let a good pun go?)


Happy St. Patty's Day Weekend!!!!


Link up:

Loquat JAMboree


I just have to start off saying this has to be the best jam ever! I don't even really like jam but I could eat this everyday, the kiddos gave it two sticky thumbs up too!
 Did you know loquats can have up to 5 seeds inside their tiny fruit but the more seeds the less flesh to eat.





Making Loquat Jam:

It should be done in the first 24 hours after they're picked, the fruit bruises so easily that the turn brown within hours. So I made my jam right after picking.



     Directions:

    • Start by washing off the loquats
    • peel the skins off and taking all the seeds out
    • after the flesh is separated use a food processor to chop it into tiny pieces 
    • be sure to measure how many cups of flesh you have
    • place the minced loquats in a pan adding just enough water to cover them
    •  cook over medium heat at a slow boil for 2-3 hours
    • adding in 1/2 cup of sugar per 1 cup minced loquat add 1/4 of a cup of agave nectar after it comes to a rolling boil (if you don't have it just use sugar)
    • the jam will be ready when it turns a dark pink to red color
    • place in sterilized glass jar 
    • let cool then serve




    It took the majority of the morning to make my first batch of jam out of all those loquats we picked yesterday. I don't think there's an inch of the kitchen that isn't stick or covered in sugar and I've already spotted a few sugar ants making their way in, this warm whether has just brought all sorts of bugs and critters out months earlier than I'm use to battling them.


    I don't think we've ever had mosquitoes during flu season that's like a double whammy. But who can complain too much when the sun is shining through the windows and the annual Arts and Crafts Festival is this weekend, my favorite time of year!


    I spotted Zen on this blog as I was looking for local photos, I've never seen this photo it was taken at the Marietta Johnson School or Organic Education as they celebrated his 6th birthday, what cute birthday hats they made with Ms. Suzanne in art class that day!



    Happy Weekend!

    What's in a name???

    I went for it and changed our blog name, we'll still be post regularly as we ramble through our days here in southern utopia. Happy Blogging!

    Loquats Lovin'

    Have you ever heard of them? Neither have I until they showed up in our backyard 2 weeks ago, now the kids are plucking them off like crazy and I'm google Loquat recipes. We even stop along our walk yesterday under a Loquat tree? bush? to cool down and eat some. They are sooooo juicy and really good. I must thank my friend for introducing these sweet treats that would have otherwise rotted away in the corner of our yard cause this Yankee wouldn't have know one if it hit me in the face.



    Fun Loquat facts:

    • Loquat syrup is used in Chinese medicine for soothing the throat and is a popular ingredient for cough drops
    • The Loquat is easy to grow in subtropical to mild temperate climates where it is often grown as an ornamental tree, and second for its delicious fruit. 
    • The loquat is a large evergreen shrub or small tree with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow 20 to 30 ft. high
    • In California there are few pests that bother loquats.
    • Harvest time in California is from March to June
    • The loquat is comparable to the apple in many aspects, with a high sugar, acid and pectin content.






    Loquat Jam 

    Wash, remove seeds, and blossom ends from whole ripe fruit. Run through food chopper and measure pulp. Barely cover with cold water. Cook until tender and deep red.

    Add 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of loquat pulp. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal with sterilized lids. It is best to cook small batches of no more than 5 cups of fruit pulp in one kettle.







    Loquat Cobbler 

    It's sooo yummy!
    Pure heaven served warm topped
    with vanilla bean ice cream.
     

    Ingredients
    Filling
      2 lbs loquats, seeded and quartered
      7 TBS Sugar
      1 TB All Purpose Flour
      1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1 1/2 teaspoons Lemon or Orange          Juice, fresh squeezed 
    Topping
      3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
      3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
      1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      3 teaspoons sugar (reserved)
      1/2 cup Buttermilk well shaken
      3 TBS Cold unsalted butter cut into bits 

    Make Filling 
    Toss all filling ingredients together in a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate
    and let stand until juicy, about 30 minutes.
    Preheat oven to 400°F. 


    Make Topping 
    Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl.
    Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.
    Stir in buttermilk with a fork just until combined (do not over mix).

    Drop rounded tablespoons of dough over filling,
    leaving spaces in between
    to allow topping to expand.
    Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.
    Bake cobbler in middle of oven until fruit is tender
    and topping is golden, about 30 minutes.
    Cool slightly, about 15 minutes, and serve warm. 








    Loquat Sauce for Ice Cream 
    Combine 2 cups juice from blanched loquats with 2 cups sugar. (see Blanching above) Bring to boil, cook over medium heat until syrup spins a 2-inch thread when dropped from a spoon (230 degrees to 234 degrees Farenheit on candy thermometer), about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Add 2 cups peeled, halved, seeded loquats. Chill, then serve over ice cream. Makes about 3 cups sauce.



    recipes via HERE




     

    Who knew there were so many different kinds.Wonder which ones we have? 

    I'll guess either Big Jim or the Victory.

     

     

    Orange-fleshed Varieties

    Big Jim
    Originated in San Diego, Calif. by Jim Neitzel. Large, roundish to oblong fruit, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Skin pale orange-yellow, medium-thick, easy to peel. Flesh orange-yellow, very sweet but with some acidity, of excellent flavor. Ripens midseason, March to April. Tree vigorous, upright, highly productive.
    Early Red
    Originated by C. P. Taft in 1909. Medium-large, pear-shaped fruit, borne in compact clusters. Skin orange-red with white dots, tough, acid. Flesh orange very juicy, sweet, of fair to excellent flavor. Seeds usually 2 or 3. Ripens very early, late January or early February in California.
    Gold Nugget (Thales, Placentia)
    Large, round to oblong-obovate fruit. Skin yellow-orange to orange, not thick, tender. Flesh orange-colored, juicy, firm and meaty. Flavor sweet, somewhat reminiscent of apricot, quality good. Seeds 4 or 5, the seed cavity not large. Ripens late. Fruits borne only a few to a cluster, keep and ship well. Tree vigorous, upright, self-fertile.
    Mogi
    Selected from numerous seedlings planted at Mogi, Japan. Small, elliptical fruit, weight 40-50 grams. Skin light yellow. Flesh relatively sweet. Ripens in early spring. Tree cold-sensitive, self-fertile. Constitutes 60% of the Japanese crop of loquats.
    Mrs. Cooksey
    New Zealand cultivar. Large fruit, up to 1-1/2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Yellow flesh of very good flavor.
    Strawberry
    Medium-sized fruit with yellow flesh. Named for the strawberry-like flavor detected by some tasters.
    Tanaka
    Named after Dr. Yoshio Tanaka. Very large fruit, usually obovoid, weight 2 to 3 ounces. Skin orange-yellow, attractive. Flesh firm, rich orange, aromatic, slightly acidic to sweet, of excellent flavor. Seeds 2 to 4. Ripens very late, the beginning of May in California. Keeps unusually long, if left for a week it wrinkles and dries but does not rot. Tree vigorous and productive.
    Wolfe
    Originated in Homestead, Florida by Carl W. Campbell. Fruit obovoid to slightly pyriform. Skin yellow, relatively thick. Flesh juicy, firm, flavor excellent. Seeds usually 1 to 3. Ripens in winter and early spring, several days later than Advance. Suitable for all purposes, but excellent for cooking. Tree to 25 feet tall. Blooms during fall and early winter.

    White-fleshed Varieties

    Advance
    Medium to large, pear-shaped to eliptic-round fruit, deep yellow in color, borne in large, compact clusters. Skin downy, thick and tough. Flesh whitish, translucent, melting and very juicy. Flavor subacid, very pleasant, quality good. Ripens in midseason. Seeds commonly 4 or 5, the seed cavity not large. Tree is a natural dwarf, height 5 feet. Highly resistant to fire blight. Self-infertile, pollinate with Gold Nugget.
    Benlehr
    Originated as a seedling on the property of Charles E. Benlehr of Encinitas, Calif. Medium-sized oval to oblong fruit, 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches long. Skin thin, peels very well. Flesh white and juicy, flavor sweet, quality excellent. Seeds 3 or 4.
    Champagne
    Fruit medium to large, oval to pyriform. Fruit cluster large, loose. Skin deep yellow in color with a grayish bloom, thick, tough, somewhat astringent. Flesh whitish, translucent, melting and very juicy. Flavor mildly subacid, sprightly and pleasant, quality very good. Ripens late. Seeds 3 or 4, seed cavity not large. Perishable, good for preserving. Tree self-infertile, prolific.
    Herd's Mammoth
    Fruit large, long and slightly tapering at the stem end. Flesh yellow orange with white to cream-colored flesh, good quality. Ripens earlier than Victory. Subject to black spot.
    Victory (Chatsworth Victory)
    Large, oval fruit. Skin yellow to orange, becoming amber on the side exposed to the sun. Flesh white to cream-colored, juicy and sweet. Ripens in midseason to occasionally early. The most popular cultivar in Western Australia.
    Vista White
    Small to medium-sized, roundish fruit with blunt calyx end. Skin light yellow. Flesh pure white, very high in sugar content. Ripens 1 to 3 weeks later than Gold Nugget. Excellent for dessert.

    Picked Off in Mississippi


    It's a bird, it's a plane.........



    No, it's another episode of American Picker's, Picked Off!

    It's a show where amateur pickers run around a flea market with $100 in their pocket, the best pickers moves on to the next round of picking and after 4 rounds the winning team earns $10,000!

    Were definitely going to get on the telly this time. Remember when we saw them a few weeks ago HERE and got that awesome 50's school desk, this time we scored a clarinet for 10 bucks and I think a lot of air time!


    It's top secret though and should air in June or July on the History channel.


    Have the Republican Primaries come through your state yet? 

    Alabama's was yesterday and Santorum won, sorry Mitt and Newt and all the RP supporters it was a tight race.

    This Wednesday's  link ups to :





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