Monday, April 25, 2011

AlphaKids...a list

It's good timing.We're going to start school next week, the kids are starting to resent having to wear solid tops all the time, and I'm getting to the point that I should have enough variety of letters to start creating custom names for people who want to buy them!

So here's a list of numbers.

1. there are 460 pictures in my "AlphaKids" folder on the computer.

2. 93 of them are starred in Picasa.

3. 67 of them have been edited and made web-sized. That means at least those are good enough quality, in my opinion, to put on posters, thank-you notes, name posters, and anything else I think of creating.

4. 14: the number of families who have been involved.

5. 12 photo shoots to date (two or so more are in the works).

6. 1,308,372: the number of times I've wished we got a little more sun on a regular basis. We have had absolutely no sun in the past 8 days, for the three photo shoots I had scheduled for those days.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Loose Ends

I'm really hot-and-cold at this blogging thing. You think I'd have some sort of a routine after almost 6 years of blogging!

I set up a new blog for homeschooling. If you are interested in following our adventures, it's here. I left it more anonymous for some unknown reason...I kinda had the idea I'd be sharing it more publicly so thought I'd leave the kids' names out of things.

We went to an Amish farm on Tuesday evening to get raw milk. This is our second experience drinking it, but our first time getting it (we went together with a friend of mine, so we can split the travel in half. Makes the cost more reasonable). It was such a fun thing to see! The kids have been using Amish readers for awhile now, so it was fun to tell Jasmine on the way out that we were going to a farm like where Peter and Rachel live. I think it made the books more understandable for them both!

I spent yesterday morning making a serious mess in the kitchen. I separated out most of the cream from the milk when it had settled, and made butter. It's now in the freezer. I'm so proud!

I used 2 of the quarts to make Turkish-style yogurt. I've made it in the past, but the third or fourth time I tried to make it, I must not have let it boil long enough, so it never set. I was scared to try again!
But I decided I could do it, and eventually ended up with beautiful yogurt with far more flavor than the plain yogurt you get in the store.
I've gotten requests for the recipe, so here it is!

Turkish Yogurt
("starter" for yogurt is plain yogurt, either from the store or from a previous batch. Yogurt with more fat, and milk with more fat, will make thicker, creamier yogurt)
Boil milk on the stove, mixing frequently. (use 1 quart of milk with 1 tbsp "starter" yogurt; I doubled it). Take off the burner and let it cool until you can put your finger in and count to 10.

Put starter yogurt in a large bowl and blend it until smooth (I used a whisk). Slowly strain in a small amount of cooled milk and stir well. Gradually add in the rest of the milk (straining as you go; I just took off the skin on top and dumped it, but I'm sure there are more exact ways to do it. I went for "easy") and continue stirring.

Cover with plastic wrap or a plate, and wrap in a blanket or warm towel. Put someplace warm (I put it in the oven) and leave for 6 hours or overnight, until it has begun to ferment and thicken.
Put in the fridge and let it continue to thicken.

And you're done! That's it!

CharlaArts update: I got business cards yesterday! I love the way they came out.
And we just bought the domain There's nothing there yet so don't bother looking ;) But hopefully I can get something there soon! I've done another few AlphaKids gigs and am almost at the point where I can start offering to do custom names for people. I'm very excited about the possibilities!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Zoo

The zoo came here today.

Bekah and Hudson woke up at 6, holding hands to come get us up. So sweet. Too early, but so sweet.

Jasmine came down while we were eating breakfast, but it was too early for her. She demanded a blanket and went back to sleep on the couch.

So Hudson patiently waited for his presents (because he forgot that it was his birthday. I love two-year-olds!) until she woke up and Josh had his shower. He loves them.
 Especially this one.

Josh had to go to the chiropractor first thing this morning. he texted me that the truck from Lowe's was coming to deliver our fence.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the message. Until well after the fact.

The guy dropped off the fence. I signed for it. All was well and good.

Josh came home after stopping by the office, and a few minutes later his dad got here. They got right to work.

As did I. I had two photo shoots scheduled; one at 10 and one at 1:30.

So the house got tidied, the floor got swept so as not to kill my beautiful new white background paper, and I waited.
And waited.
and waited.

She forgot. So we rescheduled for afternoon, so I could use her daughter WITH the other kids coming. That works.

Then my package of my first thank-you notes arrived. I was thrilled!
Until I saw that I had ordered the wrong thing. I now have 125 "thank you" photos with envelopes. If anyone would like to buy some for...I don't me. I wrote to the company, heard that it was my mistake, and sadly ordered the right thing. *sigh*

I started to pull out ingredients to make cuppycakes for Hudson, but we didn't have cocoa. So the ingredients continue to sit on the counter. Mom would be appalled. 

We had a yummy lunch (bagels and cream cheese!) and Josh and his dad went back out to work. The kids wanted to play out there too, and came back in when the kids got here for pictures.

We took a ton of pictures. There was much giggling.

No, it was far more than giggling. They were new best friends.

So we let them play until the second family came. They actually came back quite willingly and got right to work.
And there was even more giggling and more pictures taken.

The kids said goodbye, our kids went back outside and ran. and ran. and ran.

Hudson finally came inside and asked me to take off his sneakers and wanted a snack. He fell asleep on my shoulder, tortilla in hand.

Bekah managed to finish her tortilla before she, too, succumbed to the beauty of an afternoon nap.

It's now 5:45.
There are no cupcakes in or out of the oven. There is no pizza crust rising. Josh and his dad are still hard at work on the fence. I have 18 different letters, all waiting to be cropped and edited, and eventually extracted. I did the starting steps on three and stopped out of complete exhaustion. I have between 5 and 10 more sessions in the works, so I can't let myself get behind or they'll never make it out of Picasa. And all I do in Picasa is flip through galleries. So that won't do!

I think it's going to be a night for Ted's Hot Dogs and some cupcakes from Wegmans.
Once the naps are over, that is!

P.S. The fence is complete. The naps, however, aren't. Hopefully they'll wake up when Josh says "Ted's!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Tomorrow is Hudson's birthday. I will have a two-year-old in the house again. For the third time, in this house.

I love the two year stage.

I love watching their language explode.

I love watching them learn to jump.

I love that he's already gotten the "no"s out of his system. He hasn't gotten to the "why"s yet ,but they only lasted a couple weeks for Bekah so I'm hopeful that it won't take him long to get past that as well.

I love that he's becoming friends with his sisters.

I love that he's starting to show his opinions. Unfortunately that does involve being heartbroken when he doesn't get his way, but he's learning.

I can't believe it's been two years since I was in labor with him. Since I first saw his perfect face.
(he looked just like Bekah, but looked very much like a boy from the very beginning. I never tested this, but always thought I could put him in a dress as a newborn and he's still look like a boy!)

I can't wait to see what this year brings. He's filled a void I didn't know I had. He's completed our family. He's shown me a whole new aspect of life. I'm so thankful. So in love.

Happy birthday, Hudson!!

Phase II

Today began Phase II of my Alpha Kids project.

I put Thank You Cards in the store. I'm SO excited about how they came out, and I can see more projects like this coming down the pike.
And today I had two girls come over to do more letter pictures. Yes, I have a full alphabet at this point, but I'm hoping to do custom posters of kids' names, which means I need between three and four of each letter to really make that work. So I'm taking advantage of my new white paper and the schools' spring breaks and getting kids I couldn't otherwise see: kids who aren't homeschooled!! Funny. I kinda forget those exist!!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Busy week!

I've had a lot of fun this week. I'm putting more time into my etsy store, trying to see if I can start drumming up some business. I won't post large sizes of all the things I've put in the store because it's all pictures you've seen before, but you can go check it out if you're interested. Feel free to tell other people you know about me, too!

What would you like to see me add to the store? any particular picture, or a type of product (more greeting cards, different sized pictures/posters, or something else entirely)? I'd love to add things that people want to buy, rather than just what I like! I'm not my target market, after all.

We had company last night. It was fun that Bekah warmed up to them and read them stories (they were blown away hearing her read. I was so proud of her!) I'm so glad she warms up to people in small groups, because I want other people to see just how precious she is!

And now a brief list:

The Kids' Favorite movies at the moment:
Jasmine: Hans Christian Andersen
Bekah: Toy Story 3
Hudson: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella

How's that for short??? ;) Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Down-side to birthdays

I love birthdays. Love celebrating them. Love time with family. Love cake and presents. Don't mind turning a year older.
The thing I'm not so fond of, at least in my case this time, is that Monday is my day to do all the laundry and general cleaning. But I didn't yesterday, so now I feel like it's Monday when it's also Tuesday, or grocery day.
But. I did do something fun yesterday, that turned into something fun today: I made posters for myself and ordered them, and should be getting them in a couple days.
The other is a 20x30 version of my Alpha Kids picture. I can't wait to see these on my walls!!

Bekah was pouting yesterday and looked really cute, so I grabbed my camera. The pout quickly changed (my actual goal in the camera-grab) and I got some sweet shots. My favorite, one of my new favorites of her, fit in well for this week's challenge of "emotions" (is "shy" an emotion?)

I have some fun ideas for a photo shoot today, but first I should make some lunch after I change the laundry again. Time to get back off the couch!

Monday, April 04, 2011


It's my birthday!
I love birthdays. So here's a list!

1. My birthday is lovely double digits (4-4-77. Yeah, I'm 34). This is my 5th double-digit celebration...4-4-11 is pretty cool too! I hope there are a bunch of babies who come today who can enjoy the same joy I have :)

2. There's no snow. That's wonderful news. There's about a 60% chance of snow on my birthday (just pulled that number out of the air because research on the topic sounds boring) so I'm relieved when there's no snow.

3. Jasmine and Bekah went with Josh on Saturday to pick out my birthday presents from them. Jasmine thought clothes would be good...specifically pants. Josh nixed that, but said shirts would work. So they each chose a shirt from Old Navy. I'll have them take pictures later today, when my flash batteries are charged back up.

4. Josh took me to a romantic comedy ("Just Go With It") and then to Salvatore's for dinner. The best part was that they put us in the same table that we ate at on the night he was planning to propose (but couldn't because the ring wasn't ready until the next day).

5. The girls also chose their cards for me. Jasmine picked out "the best one they had," which she chose for the front, but the inside was good enough to make me cry. She's such a sweetheart!

6. I got an email this morning that I almost classified as spam. But it wasn't! It was from, and it was an email I had written to myself in 6/08. It was great! I had a precious Jasmine story in there:

My favorite Jasmine story right now happened about a week ago: she fell out of bed in the middle of the night, and said "excuse me! help?!" so Josh helped her back up. A few minutes later she fell out again, and said, "not again!!"

 7. I'm having a good birthday. Hudson just fell asleep leaning on my arm. I love his snuggles.

8. Trying to decide what I want for lunch...

9. Happy Double-Digit Day!

Friday, April 01, 2011

a list

I need to get through the next hour and a half before Josh can get home. But I'm so fried. It's been quite a week. (not a bad week, just quite a week. A long one)

So I'm going to write a list. because Pioneer Woman did and lists are my favorite thing that involves a computer keyboard.

1. I love baby toes. Hudson's still count. He likes it when I kiss them.

2. I'm not so fond of toes after about age 2.

3. I'm a big fan of shoes. I think because it covers up bigger-than-two-year-old feet.

4. I've just wasted another 10 minutes since I started this post by looking on Flickr to see if I'd gotten any comments on my pictures. Good thing I did...I had!! I have fans :D

5. well, maybe not fans. but people (people I don't know) who like my pictures.

6. Is it time for Josh to come home yet?

7. Actually it's good that it's not time yet, because dinner isn't started yet. Cheddar Chicken is on the menu for tonight. Yum.

8. We discovered this week that Olive Garden is outrageous without gift cards.

9. But that's okay, because we also found out their food gives Josh a headache (i.e. MSG), so we won't be going back.

10. which is fine, because we've discovered the fun of and groupon.

11. which is how Josh afforded to make reservations for Salvatore's this weekend.

12. I like birthdays. I'm not afraid of turning 34. Shocked, but not afraid.

13. I hate April Fool's Day. I do like that it's April, though. I'm so thankful that Josh doesn't do tricks. I'm too gullible and would be terrified and mistrusting all day long.

14. Which would mean I was miserable to be around.

15. so that's good.

16. and I think that's the official sign that I'm done.

Bekah Day: a success

We had a lovely day yesterday, in spite of the utter lack of sunshine.

And it's good that Bekah Day was yesterday and not today, because this morning Hudson chopped off a chunk of Bekah's hair. He's enjoying learning how to use scissors, and though I don't let him have them unless I'm in the room, Jasmine's figured out how to get to them and then leaves them sitting out when she's done. (yeah, that's it. I'll blame Jasmine).

I'm sure our awesome hairdresser will be able to remedy it, but it's still not what I wanted to see!