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30 September 2010

MORE Alternative Artwork and Framing Ideas!

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 I've had a lot of interest (#1 on yahoo search...yeah!) in the alternative framing post I did way back when HERE.  I have to warn you the photography is not all that grand...don't be shocked :)  Anyway, I decided to do some more posts on alternative artwork and framing because it seems like many folks are looking for it!!

This is an example of a non-stretched canvas.  They are about 1/2 price of the stretched canvases and I like the casual look of it.  I simply folded and nailed this one to the wall, but you can certainly buy a cheap frame or find a cheap painting at a thrift store and nail the canvas to it yourself to save $30-40.



We recently moved and I had a bunch of leftover photos, frames, etc that no longer "fit" in the groupings I had in previous homes.  Some of them went into storage until I can use them properly again, but this grouping went together in a hallway based on the color scheme.  All of the photos and frames have a large amount of brown in them.  Many of the photos have a sepia overlay, and all of the frames are either a light blond wood or a beech colored wood.  The small canvas in the middle is color, but  the skin tone reflects the blond wood and the darker browns in the photo reflect the beech woods.  This canvas is placed near center because it is unique and pulls all of the colors in the grouping together.  The entire grouping makes a large rectangle, so it has form and it also serves to camouflage the ugly plastic light switch a bit.



This is a super easy and cheap way of framing kid's art.  My kids don't always have a long attention span to makes big pieces of art, but they are able to make many small pieces.  I cut card stock into pieces and had my son draw all of the various things we did at Hershey Park.  I limited the cardstock colors to 3 and the crayons to 3 colors as well.  The look is slightly random, but cohesive and we've got a great framed memory of our child's artwork as well as a great reminder of trips to the park.



I have kept footprints of my older boys in books, but with the youngest, I decided to make a little bit of cheap art with them.  I took a free piece of plywood and painted it with leftover neutral paint.  I painted my kiddos feet with white paint and *very carefully* placed the footprints on the board.  Every few months I make another set and watch his feet "grow".  It is attached to the wall with 6 simple decorative nailheads (maybe a penny apiece?)  So basically a free project...and yes, that is a baby sleeping there :)


Another option when  you are looking at wall after wall of blank space, but have little money for artwork, is shelving.   I actually picked up a bunch of these white shelves when they were on closeout clearance at Home Depot for a penny each.  (These deals are amazing by the way...when they are clearing out stock, you can sometimes by tons of stuff for next to nothing!)  To make the shelf display cohesive, I used kraft paper fro the dollar store to wrap books, sprayed a basket white (where I store baby meds), a free giveaway photo album and a 30 cent car from TJMaxx.  It was 30 cents because it was missing a wheel, so you can't play with it, but it works perfectly to sit on top of a book and look cute! :)


...the other option is to pull paint off the wall to make modern art...at least that's what my 2 year old things :)


In the basement I found a huge canvas... can you see it hiding along the wall back there?
Well, I didn't really like the 80's pastel paint artwork, so I painted it myself...hello birdie!
There were already art lights on the ceiling to display it - yay!


To the right is another little project I am working on.  The little brown squares are various sized canvases that I painted a basic khaki brown.  They will turn into something interesting before long...I am thinking of spray painting around the edges of various leaves for imprints...but we'll see...stay tuned!  i've also got a great project in store for a wall and a screen and another wall...oh and these great panels from IKEA that will go above our bed...more more more to come!

For more ideas, check out Pinterest HERE.  There are some beautiful, creative ideas on how to display your stuff!  If you would like to join Pinterest, just email me for a referral!

...and for more creative ideas, check out  My Romantic Home's SHOW and TELL!!

SEED GIVEAWAY!

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...because I have some seeds and am feeling generous... if you would like to join the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment or become a follower (or BOTH for two entries...)  There will be many seeds included...definitely some coneflower and butterfly bush and false indigo and many more!

...and because there are many things lookin' pretty, but not blooming per say...
 Imperator cylindrical ... otherwise known as Japanese Bloodgrass is looking lovely.  I only wish the name weren't so gruesome...
 Hello little bunnies!  I find these little guys moved around the garden by two special little guys.  I can only imagine what the thought process is behind their placement.

  This rose is trying to attack...the dew's lovely though, right?





 Barrels certainly don't bloom, but they sometimes are pretty...this one will get thrown out soon, (hello sharp rusty edges!) but for now, it can bask in the sun.

Yes, I understand bittersweet is a noxious weed and I didn't plant it, but it is here (in abundance), so I might as well appreciate it right?  I think it's kind of gorgeous...and to tell the truth I've always wanted to plant it, but totally scared of the garden police...SO I'm glad it is here.


However glad I am of its presence, I would prefer it not take over, so when the berries are ripe and turn orange, they will be making lots of pretty bittersweet decorations.  There will be mass pruning and many free decorations :)  Stay tuned for photos :)

Here are some orange berries...I also found that when I cut the branches with yellow berries, the yellow skin peeled back to show off orange berries as well. 



I also found poison ivy among the bittersweet.  My arm did not appreciate it.  I did learn however, once and for all, what poison ivy looks like.  3 LEAVES and they look like an arrow about to attack you!  On trees, they have hairy roots and there are little black dots (of the poison oil) all over them.   I didn't react all that badly, but it is pretty stupid of me to learn what it looks like AFTER the fact.  Anyway, a fully informative poison ivy post to come...betcha can't WAIT!




....momma and baby ant just chillin...

29 September 2010

Argiope bruennichi aka...scary looking spider...

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...so Wikipedia says she is great for the garden and relatively harmless...


She definitely doesn't look harmless.  She is quite harmful to the men in her life though.  She eats them :)  They wait on the edges of her web until her jaw is weak from molting, then mate with her.  She sometimes ends up being strong enough to eat them anyway.  She's a feisty one!


I've seen several of these around our garden, or perhaps one is very very quick at moving around because they've been in the front and back yard spinning away. The web is really beautiful with a very white zigzag going down the middle (wikipedia says it strengthens the web).  You can see it in this photo...





She's just a little creepy, right?

22 September 2010

Am I just a chubby mommy?

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So I've been wanting to do a post to link you to Jodie.  She is the most honest blogger and reminds me of me in so many ways.  It is amazing to me that she is able to share so much of herself, and I wish I could be as open and honest as her...

Anyway, I wanted to link you to THIS POST and find more posts of other bloggers sharing from the heart, but Jodie posted a VIDEO BLOG that I couldn't help but share as well.

You must check out her blog...she can curse and talk about God in the same post and it makes sense and it is nothing but honest. 

I think when churches say "life is messy" and "we want to meet you where you are"...I think this is what they are going for.  People being honest about their life, their circumstances and their frustrations.  I don't think church usually gets it right, but I think Jodie does.

13 September 2010

Were the vultures honoring the dead?

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Have you eaten your breakfast yet?  You might not want to read this post if you've recently chowed down...you'll see why...

On the way to school today, we passed a bunch of turkeys in the field and the kids missed it, so I turned around and came back to look at them.  When we did I realized, they were not turkeys, but turkey vultures and there was a dead deer on the side of the road.  While that is fairly commonplace, the weird thing was the vultures were all standing 10-20 feet away from the (non-eaten) deer with their wings raised staring at it.  WEIRD.  can I just tell you how creepy this sight was on a foggy morning?  shudder...

Imagine a bunch of these in a field of fog circled around a deer...

Photo credit:  http://kadalodi.baranee.net/?p=237

Anyway, dropped Stu off and came back and there were still some vultures with their wings up and one right next to the deer.  I had to google it....this is what I found...

Basically, it is called the HORALTIC POSE and they do it fairly often.  Theories involve drying their wings (it has been raining) and feeling the wind currents.  There is no definitive answer yet though.  Could it be they honor the dead?  just wondering...

I didn't have a camera or phone (I'm sorry DH!) along to take a photo, but if you are interested, there is a decent photo at this website.

For those of you like me that are interested in more info...read below...and for true nerds...here is a GREAT SITE with lots of vulture watching info...

I find this fascinating...
Behavior:
The Turkey Vulture is gentle and non-aggressive.  Turkey Vultures roost in large community groups, breaking away to forage independently during the day.  These unique birds have a variety of interesting habits:
  The Horaltic Pose
Turkey Vultures are often seen standing in a spread-winged stance.  This is called the "horaltic pose."  The stance is believed to serve multiple functions:   Drying the wings, Warming the body, and Baking off bacteria. 
  Why the Turkey Vulture Vomits
The turkey vulture has few natural predators.  Its primary form of defense is vomiting.  The birds do not "projectile vomit," as many would claim.  They simply cough up a lump of semi-digested meat.  This foul smelling substance deters most creatures intent on raiding a vulture nest.  It will also sting if the offending animal is close enough to get the vomit in its face or eyes. 
In some cases, the vulture must rid its crop of a heavy, undigested meal in order to lift off and flee from a potential predator.  In this case, the regurgitated material has not yet been digested.  Most predators will give up pursuit of the vulture in favor of this free edible offering. 
  Why the Turkey Vulture Urinates on its Legs
The turkey vulture often directs its urine right onto its legs.  This serves two very important purposes.  In the summertime, wetting the legs cools the vulture, as the urine evaporates.  (The vulture cannot sweat like us).  In addition, this urine contains strong acids from the vulture's digestive system, which kill any bacteria that may remain on the bird's legs from stepping in its meal.
 
This information and MORE is taken from the vulture society.  Visit the site for full information HERE!  

12 September 2010

Picnics!

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This summer we've been going on lots of picnics!  They are a bit ore work, but we love them :)  We even packed up a little picnic in the backyard a few days ago...Mexican pizza wasn't the best idea for a picnic, but you live you learn, right?  One of our early picnics this year was with our cousin Amy who was in Hershey for a short 10 weeks.  Here is what we had... 


...a homegrown salad with nasturtiums and boiled eggs hanging out in a pot of bunny tails.  The nasturtium flowers and leaves were a little bitter for my taste, as were the lettuce leaves.  I think I need to be a bit more vicious early in spring when they are babies and make salads then.  Pretty though!

(A note on the bunny tails...they grew very easily and were beautiful until it got hot.  They dried up a bit and got straggly, but if they were in the ground they might have performed better?  Next year I think we'll try them in the ground instead of the pot...the kids liked them!)


Here was our main dish...a chilled grilled fish (sounds like a Dr. Suess book!) on top of a tortellini salad.  It was dressed simply with olive oil, lemon juice and herbs.  the main herb was my favorite, dill, and sadly I have run out of it.  For awhile, we were putting dill on everything...fish, pasta, potato salad, etc etc etc.  ...and then the little spice bottle ran out and I thought it would be easy to replace it.  Wrong!  The only dill I can find is a tiny jar in the grocery store for $5!  So next year, dill is definitely on the list of herbs to grow and dry.  Maybe we'll even try it inside this winter in a pot?

Speaking of next year...I'm thinking asparagus, strawberries (they are in the ground now...crossing my fingers they overwinter), LOTS of tomatoes, pumpkins and watermelons along with a new bush of lemon balm and St. John's Wort for rice packs....and DILL!

This was actually a leftover from another picnic meal that I brought along.  It was a spicy peanut noodle dish from scratch.  The noodles were udon noodles I had leftover and needed to use up.  We thought it was quite yummy!   Recently I tried a "Taste of Thai" Peanut sauce ix with rice noodles to make a similar dish.  I was trying to make a family sized version of this:
well...Smart ones is better...MUCH better.  The rice noodles were gummy (due to my inexperience) and the mix was tasteless and kind of gross.  I definitely don't recommend it, but I DO heartily recommend the smart one Thai noodles meal...YUMMY!


Finally, we had blue corn chips with this homemade relish.  I had some fresh chives and mint to use, so I mixed it with sour cream, corn, some paprika, chopped poblanos and hot pepper seeds.  Reminiscent of chipotle's corn salsa, but not nearly as good :) 

What is your favorite picnic dish?  Any experiments that failed?  Anything that really worked well?  I am looking for a guest blogger to do a picnic post...let me know if you are game!!

More picnics to come...stay tuned!

Too many thoughts...

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...do you ever have so many thoughts you can't blog fast enough???

I think sometimes my husband thinks I might have too many thoughts :)

08 September 2010

What to buy at Target...

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Did anybody see THIS POST on Yahoo news this morning?  I just HAD to chime in :)  Target is one of my favorite places to be with three babies in tow and clearly the author was not a true Targerite because they missed some very important key Target YAYS!

1.  Most importantly, they did not emphasise the 75% off endcaps and those wonderful little red stickers that go down in price slowly...At 30%, items usually stay in place, at 50% they might move to the endcap, but at 75% off they are definitely there.  We go "clearancing" down the endcaps and bulk up on things we use all the time like pantry items, towels, kid's clothing and sometimes even clocks :)  (see HERE)

2.  The target brand diapers are the best quality for the lowest price.  I've used them all and have very poopy little boys... (see Yesterday's post)  Luvs don't seem to "hold" as much and seem stiffer and less comfy.  I use Pampers for N-2 because I LOVE the Swaddlers and it is worth the price, but for any other age, it is Target ALL the way.  They recently raised their prices about a dollar, but they are still the best buy/quality combo in my book.  Wait for sale days (they are $1.50 cheaper than normal) and stock up.  Sales tend to be every 2-3 weeks on diapers.

3.  Plastic wrap...NOBODY does it better than Target brand.  It is just a tiny bit not as sticky as GLAD, but about $1-2 cheaper depending on sales.  The plastic rips off wonderfully from the package and doesn't get tangled.  I like most of the Target brand cleaning supplies.  For name brand suppliers, I stick mainly to Tide for Laundry, Oxyclean truly does get the stains out better, and anything that has an *important* (sticks with you) scent can't be imitated well enough (Jergen's Almond lotion is NOT the same when in Target brand form, nor are the candles as good as Yankee).  Otherwise, anything Target brand is a great buy and better quality than other store brands.  I use their dishwashing detergent religiously.

4.  The clothing rocks my socks.  It has been mentioned before, but the clothing brands are fantastic.  the Liz Lange maternity wear KILLS Motherhood quality.  It goes on and on and on...but the best part...those fantastic clothes also go down to 75% off :)  If you haven't checked out the menswear and men's accessories on clearance, you are missing out for your hubby!  Men don't troll the clearances as much as women, so there are often great deals back there. 

5.  The dollar section has fun, seasonal toys that are cheap and breakable...but unlike the dollar store, they go to 75% off...which means...25 CENTS per toy.  I stock up on sale days and keep the toys hidden.  when the kiddos need some new fun or they break the exact same toy, a new one comes out of hiding.

6.  You can do the Target loop.  It takes as little as 7 minutes or as long as 2 hours.  The loop starts with stopping for cheap popcorn if the kids are behaving and letting them munch as we travel through the store.  Then check out the dollar section for clearances.  If there are none, keep moving or the kiddos will want cheapo breakable stuff.

Then the clothing is optional.  If you have happy children and the store is empty, they can hide in the racks, make faces in the mirrors, play color and number games pointing at shirts and YOU can find cheap clothing.  Then loop through lingerie looking for cute pjs and panties on sale, downt he endcap aisle of the shoes to look for clearances and then straight into baby land.  Often, we just waltz right through babyland, but sales on clothes can stop us.  The same baby games work here except they can also measure themselves on the height chart and the shoe chart and look at baby toys.

Finally, the true endcaps start.  There are 4 in a normal Target.  I start a half loop through the end of stationary and skip movies and cds.  They aren't usually on sale and there are much cheaper ways of buying entertainment than buying the cd or dvd.  I then go up through kitchen, loop around through housewares and finally TOYS!  This is the reward for good babies...they can go up and down the aisles and look at toys and usually they end up standing transfixed in front of the giant green dinosaur inside a plastic cage.

Finally, there is the food.  If I am in a hurry, I go down the back of the store and look for the clearance endcap picking up anything we use all the time whether it is 30, 50 or 75% off.  Groceries 30% off is usually a great price.  Then, I check the freezers.  Frozen food obviously can't be on an end cap (unless you are in a supertarget in which case there IS a frozen endcap), so it is often overlooked by less practiced Targerites.  Sometimes Target staff will put all the frozen clearance together, but often the clearances are sprinkled through the freezers.  I pick up anything we like on clearance.  I've saved bundles here.  Frozen veggies for 40 cents anyone?? Kids get to pick out their favorites "yogies" and find the milk.  This usually keeps them occupied long enough for me to browse the clearances.

If everyone is still hanging on, we'll go down the front aisle and look for the toiletries and bulk endcaps.  Sometimes there are great deals.  More often than not, there is nothing great here, so we'll skip it if the kids are melting. If there are great deals, swoop them up, they won't last long.

So dear yahoo, take that...Target is still the queen...:)

(Yes, I'm a bit obsessed, but I have saved bundles!)

07 September 2010

How good are G diapers? ...and rocking the leg warmers!

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If you read my blog, you might remember THIS POST... I linked to my blogger pal Shawna who did a full investigative report on G DIAPERS.   They are the new trend in non-landfill filling diapers - yay!  If you missed Shawna's post, just CLICK HERE.  She actually has a video of how to use the diapers - very informative and like Shawna - very cool!

SO...I always feel guilty about the amount of diapers we use and have thought about going the cloth route, especially after Shawna's post, but could never wrap my head around the price vs. the benefit.  The starter kit is like $26 at Babies R US and the smallish box of replacement inserts are about $15.  (Compared to the biggish box of disposables for $13 @ Target...)  ...but I wanted to try them at least...SO...

I went to a couple garage sales with my little redhead babe last weekend and guess what I found?  NEW G Diapers..the super cute one on the front page of their website and this lovely light yellow one as well.


The box came with inserts as well...and yes...I only paid $1...worth the price, yes?? :)


The box says the diapers are flushable, but I was a bit scared about flushing it, so it went in the trash...probably about 2/3 the size of a normal diaper.  The company says the wet only diapers can be composted, so that I feel like I could do.  The problem is...very few of my boy's diapers are wet only.  I know TMI...but seriously, the go poopy A LOT.  Like a lot a lot.  I asked Alex yesterday if maybe we should try to get them to stop pooping so much.  He laughed.  ...and said that it was probably quite healthy for them to poop 6 times a day considering the amount of food they eat.  I agree...sadly...because I am changing a WHOLE bunch of those poopy diaps.

To prove my point...I tried one of the diapers this morning and within 20 minutes, one insert had already been pooped in and changed.  I am quite sure the inserts will be gone by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.  The expense of changing diapers constantly prohibits buying the "flushable" inserts on a regular basis.  I also am not willing to trust these diapers overnight quite yet.  BUT I do think I will try stuffing them with a traditional cloth diaper every now and again.


There are a few times where I think these will come in very handy.  #1...when the kiddos get a rash I think that these soft cotton "inserts" (as I will use them) will be better on their little bums.  #2 ...when we do the "oh - no!  someone just pooped and there are no more diapers in the house!  who is going to run to the store?  It would be nice to have a cloth backup.  and #3...perhaps if we ever (a LONG while from now) have a nice little girl that doesn't eat wiggle and poo as much as my crazy boys...they might work very nicely for her.  So for now, no lifestyle change (I am very sorry earth....I compost and recycle, but honestly cannot give up disposable diapers right now), but a fun try nonetheless.  AND a super cute photo op as well in his cute new diapers...take it away bebe Lincoln~!!



...VERY nice Bum shot :)


By the way, check out those AMAZING leg warmers from dear friend Amy!  They are SO perfect for our little crawler!  Check out that AMAZING little baby standing up as well...(I'm a bit biased, but super proud of baby athlete number 3).  However, I am a bit sad about this swift mobility...this child is knocking things down at a rapid pace.  (Grandmothers, please don't worry, I am chasing his constantly and have moved unsafe things out of reach...)


Thanks again for my lovely leg warmers Amy :)

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