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27 February 2015

Find ALL the 5 Minute Photoshoots in One Spot!

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Got 5 minutes?

You CAN get a good photograph (or two!  or three!) of your kids.  Here are all the 5 minute 
photoshoots from the Nest, from infant to baby to kids to the whole family with a self-timer.  Enjoy!

5 Minute Photoshoot for Infants

5 Minute Photoshoot for Babies - 6 WEEKS

5 Minute Photoshoot for Babies - 6 MONTHS

5 Minute Photoshoot for Christmas Cards

5 Minute Photoshoot with Older, Active Children

5 Minute Photoshoot with a Preschooler

How to Photograph Your Family with a Self Timer

How to Survive a Photoshoot with Kids

The 5 Minute Photoshoot in the SNOW

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13 February 2015

Wild strawberries, false strawberries and "real strawberries"

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So this weekend there is supposed to be a massive snowstorm and windstorm and POOR BOSTON.  I am stocking up on water and milk and candles and books, but in the meantime, let's think SPRING, shall we?  In particular, let's think strawberries :)  The common queen of jams, strawberry just screams summer, but I want to focus on strawberries in the spring.

The REAL DEAL in my garden

Have you ever seen plants that look like these in the lawn or crawling around in your flower beds?  Chances are they are not your garden variety strawberry,  You either have real wild strawberries (a species of Fragaria), or False strawberry (Duchesnia indica). They will look very similar. Real Fragaria strawberries have a wonderful flavor, but are very delicate when ripe and squish oh so easily. Duchesnia fruits are dry and flavorless. I would NOT recommend eating the Duchesnia; one website ( ) claims that it is highly poisonous, although I can't find another reference on that. I've tasted (but not eaten them) and didn't get sick, I suppose you could do that to see what kind you have. A safer way to tell -- Duchesnia has yellow flowers whereas Fragaria has white.

Commercial strawberries are so big because they are triploid. That is, they have 3 sets of chromosomes, whereas most plants and animals have 2 sets. In the instance of the strawberry, this gets translated into bigger fruit that lasts a lot longer. It does, however, seem to sacrifice flavor. Real wild strawberries have a more intense flavor. Also, because the commercial strawberries are triploid, they are sterile and the seeds can't germinate (notice you've never seen strawberry seeds for sale!) Bananas are like this too. Being triploid, their seeds are sterile and therefore tiny. Natural bananas have seeds the size of peppercorns! This isn't the case for strawberries though.

OK - so if you have REAL wild strawberries, you CAN try to cultivate them, but only to increase their yield. I don't know how much disturbance they will take, though. If it were me, I'd just try to encourage them in place by keeping the area relatively weed-free and watered during drought. Not sure if they would stand transplanting to the garden, but you could try it with a few of them to see if they take off.  How to propagate?  Those little runners (the red stem-like guys in the first photo) will do it for you if you let them.  The "mother" strawberry plant sends out those runners, they attach and root in the ground nearby and before you know it, a baby plant is born.  Move those baby plants where you want them and voila!  Strawberry field!

OK - perhaps not that successful, but certainly a few new plants :)

Now hunker up for those chilling winds and snows and THINK OF STRAWBERRIES!

09 February 2015

One Hundred Things ::: The Failure Bowls

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Sometimes something in your everyday reminds you of something good. Other times, it is failure.  Both can be good for your soul.

Once upon a time, I thought I could open a storefront.  My blog was growing,  I was crafting a lot and the natural progression was to rent a small booth at a local flea market to sell all this "STUFF" I was making.  Well, long story short, it flopped.  My underestimation of the value of Saturday mornings at ease in my life and the store owners overestimation of the amount of traffic that went by my small, hole-in-the-wall storefront made a bad combination.  I knew 3 months in that this was not going to work.  We lost money -- not a ton -- but enough to be painful.  I learned a few lessons though.

1.  Weekends are gold.  They should not be given up.  Cling tightly to them while the babies are little.
2.  Physical stores are a LOT more demanding than anything online.  I should have known this.  Now I do.
3.  When your day job is going great, keep trucking.  It doesn't need to be anything more or better.
4.  People want to DO crafts, not BUY crafts.  That is why little crafty stores are a dime a dozen and go in
and out of business like lighting, while Michaels is stalwart.  Embrace that and show them how.  Remember the blog?  Stick with that.

There are more lessons, mostly involving street smarts and people wading, but those above are the main ones.  
There is one great thing that came out of my short foray into store ownership.  These bowls.

They were on super clearance one day at Target, so I snatched them up for the store, thinking they would be great on a couple shelves for small things.  They were great for small things, but they continued holding those small things because no one wanted to BUY THEM!  Ah well.  It turns out these bowls are fabulous at holding peas and carrots too.

They sit stacked in one of my everyday cabinets and there is at least one in the dishwasher, in the microwave or in the fridge holding leftovers at any given time.  They are the perfect size for a frozen bag of veggies and those sides are just high enough so that peas don't go rolling across the floor when they are spooned out.  

The best thing about these bowls?

(middle shelf -- far right)

Everytime I look at them I think of my failure.  I remember that no matter how good my blog is doing, how much I am earning for my writing and whose hand I have shook that I have failed.  I was a complete and utter failure and that is good to remember when I start to think of myself more highly than I ought.  For isn't that the base of the human condition?  To remember that we began as sewer rats in our hearts and only by the painful sanding down of all the failures can God make us into anything better.  These bowls remind me that I am only the sanded, not the sandee and that's a good lesson from our everyday peas and carrots.

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