All content on this site is my sole creative property and may not be reproduced. If you would like to feature, pin or otherwise refer to content of mine, thank you! Please clearly link back to 'A Nest for All Seasons' and only use up to two photographs. To purchase content, please e-mail me for rates and restrictions. Posts may contain affiliate links for trusted products. I receive a small percentage of sales when you purchase from these sites.
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30 August 2012

The Solution to all those half eaten pieces of fruit...

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I've had this problem for awhile now.  I've thought about solutions and nothing seemed to fit or work.  I felt wasteful.  The problem?  Fruit.

My boys love fruit (not the problem!!).  They also tend to not finish the fruit (the probelm!).  Oranges, apples, pears plums -- they like them all, but waste big portions of them all as well.  I can give the leftovers to the chickens, but we are talking expensive fruit.  I like the good apples (Honey Crisp!) and of course they always want them too.  Those apples cost a lot and we end up giving the cores to the chickens!   Don't even get me started on the gourmet pears the boys picked out at the grocery store last time....

In any case, I was chopping the leftovers off the core and tossing them in a bag for the chickens, when all the sudden it struck me...


Why hadn't I thought of this before?  All the fruit scraps, all the yogurt scraps, dried fruit leftovers and even some granola go into the bag.  The bag goes into the freezer.  Once it is full, the whole shebang goes in the blender and it is smoothie time!

The boys don't know where the ingredients for smoothies come from.  They just love them

They don't know where the leftovers from their half-eaten fruit goes.  They just wash their hands and move on to play with more trucks, trains, dirt and worms.

It's a win-win-win...

...except for the chickens...I bet they miss those gourmet pears....

24 August 2012

How to Take Better Photos of your CRAZY KIDS!

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*Any mama that has tried taking photos of their newborn baby, toddling toddler or impatient kiddo knows that it is not nearly as easy as you might think.  Those babies are not only squirmy and tiny and fragile, but they also are very picky about their location!   ...and those kids?  They can be STUBBORN!

*Portions of content previously published on Allenaim Photography 

While everyone would love to take their newborn to a professional photographer every few weeks to document their growth, financially it is impossible.  It is not impossible, however, to take quality photographs of your baby at home!  There are a few simple techniques that will help you get the best out of your camera and your newborn, toddler or kiddo.

1.  LIGHT

The key to any great photography is light.  Good photographers can work in any type of lighting, but if you ask them, 90% will tell you they prefer natural lighting.  The trick about natural lighting is that you don't want the sun to shine directly on your subject.  Ideally, you shoot in a bright, yet shady area, or you shoot on a cloudy day.  In any case, your baby will squint if the light is too bright, so harsh lighting and flashes are not your friend when it comes to photographing babies and children.


Try placing your child in a doorway, and have them turn their eyes toward the light, but not directly into the source.  For example, this little girl was told to stand in the doorway and look into the bright daylight (at the horsies actually....).  I was able to get her eyes to light up with the reflections, but the sun was off to her right and did not make her squint.

The photo below was taken on a shady porch with the little girl looking towards a bright sky.  The sun is off to her back left, so the sun does not make her squint, but the bright sky offers enough light and reflection for the photo.

READ MORE AFTER the BREAK!  (Grab some coffee!!!)

23 August 2012

Microwaving Soap, Molly Wood and Leonardo Dicaprio's PINFAIL

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Did you see the PINFAIL last night from Mrs. Priss? The one where she explained why her kitchen smelled like burnt soap? No? Click HERE.

Want to learn how to microwave soap without the explosions?  Check out my post today on Crafts Unleashed.  Learning how to "make" soap has never been easier :)


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Where else have I been lately?



...AND...


Don't miss a thing!  Follow along on Houzz or just follow the facebook page for updates!

(oh and don't forget to check out the one where Rose and Leo PINFAILED -- like seriously -- except they didn't have pinning on the Titanic...but you know what I mean.......PIN-FAAAAAAAIL)

22 August 2012

How to Save and Move Photoshop Action (.atn) Folders

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...because I couldn't find this anywhere on the Internet when I was trying to figure it out -- here is a cheatsheet for how to save and move .atn folders.   It is a very simple process, but took a while to figure out, so here is a cheat sheet for you!  If I am speaking another language to you, no worries!  You might be more interested in the FOODIE, GARDEN or DIY sections of the blog, yes?

If you landed here because you need some help moving around actions that you have created -- here you go!  I am working out of Photoshop CS5, but the same basic steps should work in most versions of PS.

A. Make sure you are out of "button mode". 

This is the button mode on your actions palette:


This is not:


To get there, click the little button in the top right hand corner and simply click "button mode" on and off.  

B.  Make a folder in your actions palette (click the folder button on the bottom of the actions palette) and drag your actions into the folder from their location on the palette.

C. Highlight the actions folder by clicking on it.

D. Click the top right drop down menu and click "save actions".

E. Save the actions on your desktop or create a new folder anywhere on your computer. 

F. Upload the action file to mediafire or another media sharing site from your desktop and start sharing your actions with your friends!

Questions?  Just ask!

20 August 2012

Carrot Seed Confetti

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In Jeremiah 29, God says a few things to the Israelites living in exile...

4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

That is what I heard this morning and that is what I understood this night.

It all started this morning, on the way to church, we made our usual WalMart stop. Stock up on everything we need that won't get ruined sitting in the parking lot for an hour while we're at church. Today, it was mainly cleaning supplies. Soap, laundry detergent, more soap, more laundry stuff. We had been chatting on the way to church about "prepping" -- having backups in case the power goes out for a few days, a few weeks, a few months. So instead of one box of washing soda -- I bought three. Instead of the normal sized bottle of soap, I got a massive one. We don't want to be crazy, but prepared couldn't hurt.

So with prepping on my mind, we dropped off the babies and headed into church. The sermon? Jermiah 29. ...but the sermon wasn't on “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". Nope today was on the even better "plant a garden" section of that chapter. Can you imagine how happy I was sitting in my little chair at church -- all excited because clearly this was one sermon I had already mastered. I find more joy in the garden than perhaps anyone I know...

Of course, the sermon wasn't just about building gardens, but my mind fixated on "making a home, building a garden and having lots of babies" -- OH and prepping. For 60 minutes my thoughts flitted from Jeremiah's words to the exiled to stacking cans of tuna and stocking up on hydrogen peroxide. I can't imagine God was terribly pleased with the bouncing betty thoughts, but perhaps He doesn't much care as long as his point gets across.

So later that day, my son and I decide to go out. I've still got prepping on my mind, and anyone who has ever studied prepping for 2 seconds knows that seeds are a numero uno place to start. So I was on a mission. I had already planted some mid-season seeds the day before to capitalize on the cool temps that should roll in in a few months, but now I wanted more. I wanted extra to grow -- extra to save "just in case" == just a little extra to prepare. So we bought beans and mesclun and spinach and beets. Red bought carrots. He wanted a variety for each of his brothers and every few seconds in the store he would bring up another pack and try to convince me that we really, really needed this kind. "Look it has really long roots and it super shiny and this one would be perfect for my brother!". I talked him down to 2 packets and we made our way to the checkout. That was that and there was no big deal to it.  ...and I was starting to get a headache...

Then we went to a movie. Of course the movie had to be "The Lorax". Heavy on environmentalist agendas and light on adult humor, I felt like I was in church again. The evil men cutting down all the trees felt a bit too preachy, but so it goes.  ...and my head is pounding...maybe some chicken noodle soup will help?

The real sermon came once we arrived home. The kids were settled, Alex was working, so I escaped into the garden for a few minutes. I grabbed my seeds and started planting a few. You see, we've been in a drought here for the past few weeks (months?).  We haven't had nearly enough rain and everything was starting to rip at the seams a little bit. Our water treatment system starts showing signs of stress when the well gets low and the well has been very, very low. The filters clog up easily. The water starts to reek of iron and sulfur. My ice maker broke because the lines were to full of junk befre the water made its way to the filter. The pool is getting so low that the pump can't function properly and we were cutting back on our water usage so much it was starting to hurt (just a little). There was a self-imposed moratorium on watering plants, so I bid adiu to the radishes and crossed my fingers for the tomatoes. Laundry started to pile up and we started using those hideous paper plates to cut back on washing dishes. We were fine, but we were starting to feel the pain of a water shortage. We needed some rain. God obliged and we had a little sputtering of rain yesterday. The next few days had percentages in the 40's and 50's, so I thought now is the time to sow those mid-season seeds. Maybe they will have a fighting chance.


So there I was planting seeds, herding in the chickens, checking the growth of those pumpkin vines and I notice that the sky is still overcast. Maybe we'll get a little bit more rain tonight...wouldn't that be amazing?


So as I start walking back towards the house, I feel a drop. You know that feeling -- it can kind of feel like impending doom. That first little droplet of rain hits your forehead or your shoulder or your wrist and you know it is coming. The next drop comes a little quicker and before long there is a tap, tap, tap on the top of your head and you know if you don't run you are going to be in for it. Today that impending doom felt like joy. A tiny droplet of joy, and then a little more and then a TAP TAP TAP on my forehead -- this is going to be a DOWNPOUR!


We raced to cover the pool, close up the garage, get the chickens settled and the boys rushed back inside. At that second the rain really began. The downpour gushed down onto our thirsty earth and I stepped out into it. I took a few steps and looked up into the deluge and all the sudden I remembered that I had more seeds. There is no more perfect time to sow seeds then when the rains are coming down, hammering them into contact with the soil and loosening up those tough outer membranes. Add lightning raining down candy tablets of nitrogen and the plants seem to wiggle in joy when a summer rainstorm comes their way.

I finished seeding the packets I had, finished moving bucket after bucket after bucket to catch those precious drops of water, spun a few circles in the yard, opened my mouth to catc the drops like snow and called myself crazy a time or two. I knew I should probably get inside -- that thunder was getting close -- but I wasn't done yet. I had saved those carrot packets for the boys, but there was something about this storm that was just perfect for planting carrot seeds. You see, carrot seeds are pretty tiny and they are hard to plant without bunching them. The rain? It helps. So I ran up to the house, grabbed a pack and took 2/3 of the seeds out. (I couldn't take them all or what kind of awful mother would I be, but I needed to take most.) I ran to the garden, slipping and sliding in the mud (THE MUD!) and ground to a halt when I reached that freshly cleared plot of soil for the carrots. I should have sprinkled them into rows, letting the rain pound them down and start urging them out of dormancy, but I was too joyful. I couldn't just plant them responsibly. This storm called for carrot seed confetti. So up they went, thrown high into the air and SPLAT onto the ground one by one by one.  Little tokens of joy raining down onto a little patch of earth in our Pennsylvania yard and a crazy lady giggling like a kid.  Good thing the vegetable garden in in the back yard.

I've never heard carrot seed confetti to rid anyone of a headache before, but I must tell you it worked. Something about running around in that rainstorm, finding joy in the long-needed and long anticipated waters from Heaven, and throwing those carrot seeds in the air with all the joy of a 2 year old. There is something about that basic kind of joy that can take away a little headache. There is something about that basic kind of primitive joy that can make life worth living. I'm no preacher, but I think that is what God meant when he told those Israelites in exile to buckle down and build homes, plant gardens and multiply. You may not want to be here, but this is your home, so you need to find your joy here. 

I'm not in exile, and I don't want anything to change about the life we live here. We are happy and content. ...but I too often forget that primitive joy. Throwing carrot seeds into a summer rainstorm can be a stupid childish crazy person act or it can be a totally sane little act of joy. This is our home, we have built our garden here and I have found my joy here.



17 August 2012

CLASSY Gazing Balls

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The trick is that the balls need to HIDE (that sounds dirty, but it is not really at all...keep reading...)

You've all heard of gazing balls right...those weird bright shiny things in tacky front yards all across America...you thought you would never ever stoop to the level of buying one. They are hideous. Ugly. Garrish - ICK.

Well yes, me too. ...but then I was reading a book (please don't ask me which one...I speed read about 20 a week from the library! ACK!) and the book was discussing how wonderful gazing balls were. The author talking about how magical it is to "gaze" into the reflective surface and see various parts of the garden from different angles.

I started thinking...(and thus continues my inner dialogue - prepare yourself...)

I really love mirrors in my home. I love the way a mirror can provide a "picture in a picture" and highlight decor in another room. I like the additional challenge of making every sightline "work" from room to room. Perhaps I would like gazing balls?

NO - NO NO NO NO NO! They are tacky! They are ugly! They are HIDEOUS!

Ok, but what if I were to make a CLASSY gazing ball...

NO - NO NO NO NO NO! They are tacky! They are ugly! They are HIDEOUS!

...but what if I were to use those old bowling balls and a reflective paint in a soothing natural color???

OK - FINE...but only for the blog...only for a DIY post to show people that might want them in their garden, but there is NO WAY they are staying.

Well...a few months later and guess what I still want for my garden? Classy Balls.

Here are the tricks:

#1 Please don't pay full price...that takes all the fun out of it. Use an old bowling ball and some reflective, exterior spray paint and voila.

#2 HIDE the balls. I think most of the tackiness comes from weird, random balls sticking out up high in the middle of the garden. Balls weren't meant to be on display. They were meant to be surprises tucked into the foliage of plants (Sorry that sounds so hideously dirty...)

#3 Use a color that is bright and reflective, but natural. Purple isn't really the most natural color unless you are placing the ball in a purple smokebush. (Hmmm...that's a good idea...) Try brownish golds, burnt blues and deep greens.

#4 Gazing balls look great low when the foliage is low and look great up high when the foliage is up high.


SO. Are you convinced? I am. I can't believe it. I love these hideous things.

I love the way the garden expands when I look into them. I also love how skinny I look when I look into them. I love the glint and glimmer from behind a coleus that opens up into a whole new world when you look a little closer.

So give in...find a cheap bowling ball and experiment with placement...

just please - PLEASE do not place a bright pink ball on a pedestal in your front yard for all to see. It loses the mystery and suddenly has become all sorts of NOT CLASSY.

15 August 2012

Homemade Hummus for Dummies

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Remember those homemade chapatis last week?  They were delicious, but you can't eat them bare.  Try topping them off with today's hummus recipe for a healthful and flavorful lunch!

Adapted from: " Vegan World Fusion Cuisine"
Nicole's Notes in Italics

Homemade Hummus
3 C Garbanzo beans aka Chickpeas, cooked and well drained (I used canned)
3/4 C Tahini, roasted is optional (The oil usually separates from the sesame seeds. I find that stirring with a chopstick will return it to a creamy consistency.)
1/4 C Lemon juice, fresh or bottled
3 TB Shoyu (This is a particularly brewed soy sauce, I usually have Tamari in my pantry, but was out that day so I just doubled the sea salt content.  Amy:  I just use good old soy sauce! )
1 Tb Olive oil
2 tsp Cumin powder
1 1/2 tsp Garlic minced ( I substituted garlic powder because my fresh garlic was out.)
3/4 tsp Sea salt
3/4 Black pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
Optional 1 Rstd Red pepper ( in a 400 degree oven or over a flame)

Amy:  When I make this recipe it is on the fly and I don't follow the recipe exactly.  I simply throw the chickpeas, tahini, soy sauce, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in the blender and WHOOSH let it go.  That is the "Hummus for Dummies" way to do it and it tastes great, but Nicole's version (above) tastes even better :)

Place pepper, if using, in a food processor with lemon juice, soy sauce, and olive oil and process until well blended. Add garbanzo beans and remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Want the whole cookbook?  I purchased "More with Less" last month and now "Vegan World Fusion Cuisine" is on the list.  I thank Nicole for the dent in my wallet from recent cookbook purchases :)

You can buy yours on Amazon or simply check out your local book sales!  Here are a few of the most used cookbooks hanging out in my cookbook cupboard:



14 August 2012

Male and Female Vine Blossoms

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Are you growing pumpkins this year?
Watermelon?  Squash?  Any type of large vining edible?
Have you looked inside the flowers?
That's where the magic is...


That picture up there?  That is a female flower.  The one below is a male.  See the difference?
She's loaded inside while he is kind of a single long stamen.  (How's that for innuendo....)


Each vine produces a bunch of males before it even wastes time setting the precious female flower 
and the real surprise of that female is actually outside the petals...


Have you ever looked behind the flowers?  
Females have a little mini pumpkin or squash that when fertilized, grows huge and orange (or green or blue or white) 
and ripens to a perfectly roastable, carveable, edible fruit.


The males?  Nadda.


So take a walk around your veggie garden, or be a little curious the next time you visit the pumpkin patch.  

Can you identify the males and the females?
Do you see the baby fruits developing?
Pretty fascinating, don't you think?



13 August 2012

Where did all the eggs go?

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There is something a little disconcerting about raising chickens, but having no idea where they are leaving the eggs. 
 Seriously -- it makes you feel like you forgot to wear underpants under your jeans or something.


So typically, the chicken laid their eggs in their nesting boxes, but for a couple days the chicks had rule of the roost during the day and the chickens weren't allowed in. They rebelled and found their own nesting box, but they didn't feel the need to let me know where it was. I finally came out one afternoon to hear a chicken squawking on top of the compost pile and gasp! -- there were a few eggs.

You would think I would have learned my lesson, but no. I still kept the chicks and chickens separate and the chickens decided to play a little game of hide and seek with the eggs again.


Once again, I heard some culcking and sqauwking -- this time from this clump of grass. I don't know why I didn't look earlier. These are the very grasses that I cut down and line the nesting boxes with each fall. Of course the chickens would gravitate towards them...


Turns out they were good girls - laying eggs all along -- and now I just know where :)



A little muddy, but no worse for wear, the eggs had been perfectly safe all along. 
 I've solved the mystery of the disappearing chicken eggs and I feel like I have panties on again. 
Mission accomplished.

10 August 2012

[Gathered]. 6 ------------------------------> Zucchini

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It is still the heart of summertimes here in Pennsylvania and for us -- that means zucchini!  Some people have tomatoes and sweet corn to brag upon, but us?  We are up to our ears in summer squash - FROM ONE PLANT.  Every day one or two more squash are plucked from the plant and it just keeps growing and growing and growing!  I've made and frozen muffins upon muffins of zucchini batter, we've eaten them raw, fried, roasted and dried (zucchini chips!) and there is still zuchhini waiting on the counter to be used.  Somehow.

 Any advice? No?  You have zucchini too?

Here is a piece of advice for YOU.  Next year?  
Don't plant 13 zucchini plants -- or even 3 -- or even 2.  

One - just one! -  is enough to provide a bounty of nutritious squash for the entire summer.


In the meantime, I'll keep gathering those veggies and hoping they keep eating them up...


...and we'll be waiting for that strawberry popcorn to ripen up for a change of pace...

What are you gathering this week?

THAT Woman....

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http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PiV9bHRg94A/UB_Z_XpEJGI/AAAAAAAAPB8/V-JV8SPRWCI/s1600/superwoman.jpg

A reminder from Bonni and Jacqueline...go visit them :)



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This policy is valid from 08 August 2012

All photographs and text on this site are my sole creative property and may not be reproduced. If you would like to feature, pin or otherwise refer to a project or photo of mine, thank you! Please clearly link back to 'A Nest for All Seasons' and only use up to two photographs. To purchase content, please e-mail me for rates and restrictions.

DO NOT use my content and/or photographs as your content on your site without my express permission. It is stealing.

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09 August 2012

Hey guess what?!

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That's right!!
I'll be speaking this year in Vegas (VEGAS!) at Blogalicious -- will you be there?!?

07 August 2012

Crock Pot Caramel

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After seeing this pin a few weeks ago, I thought it might make a good candidate for the PINFAIL board, but surprise of surprises, it worked! 


The result is not the slick, creamy caramel you can create on the stove top, rather it is a sweet, clumpy, gooey concoction.  Good news?  It is idiot proof.  Simply place the cans in a crock pot (and yes you DO need a dish under the can to keep rust stains off the crock pot) and set it for 8 hours.  The water will begin to boil towards the end and after popping the top off the can, you'll have a version of caramel.


 I decided to try the full fat version vs. the fat free version to see if there was a noticeable difference and there definitely was.  The only problem is that I didn't run my experiment at all scientifically, so sadly I don't know for sure which is which.  I am pretty certain that the full fat version is the darker colored caramel on the right because it tasted much, much better and held together better.  I'll have to experiment more to know for sure :)  Of course, the full conclusion of the experiment is that both versions work!


So from PINFAIL to PINTASTIC, this little trick is absolutely worth a try!!

06 August 2012

[Collected]. --------------------> Harrs Auction House

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Glass salad bowls and serving bowls, ribbed, ridged and speckled.  The sweetest white sugar bowl,  the innocent milk bottle and debaucharous Bourbon bottle -- all in the same box. Not to mention the platters, the brilliant green piggy bank, the fruit bowl and the stuff we threw away. All in a box. All for a buck. One dollar and I have contentedly filled that gatherer need.  Better than Target, yes?

Truth in fact though, I spent more than a dollar.  I spent $7.95 and walked away with that box full of fun new treasures, a bunch of printer cartridges and a new bench seat/ toy chest for the boys.  Quite a haul for less than a Hamilton, don't you think?

The problem??  I need not hoard, so I need to start giving things away on my new dishware -- eggs anyone? Zucchini muffins? Who wants some garden greens??


Now I know (I KNOW) I spotted some bloggers and blog addicts at Dillsburg this past weekend -- so spill the beans!  Were you there?  Did you outbid me?  What did you score?

What have you collected lately?

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