Friday, April 29, 2011

It's not everyday a helicopter lands across the street

But last night, it was one of those days.

We all went out for a walk because the weather was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L yesterday. Just as we were on the home stretch, a helicopter flew over and looked as though it was about to land on top of our house! So we ran home and dashed out into the back yard to see if we could see where it landed. Here is where it landed:

In the parking lot across the street! You can barely see the propeller there behind the white truck. Let's move in for a closer look:

Thanks to my friend, Jess, for the use of her zoom lens for this shot! I don't know why, but we seem to be a little obsessed with airplanes and helicopters in this house. So when one lands across the street, we think it's a big deal.

And there it goes. There was a group of kids from school looking at it while it was on the ground. Obviously the purpose for it landing there. I guess I wasn't even aware that it was legal for them to land just anywhere!

This is completely unrelated to the helicopter but I love this shot and wanted to share it. I love the light and I love how both Eden and Lizzy are just getting ready to take off into a running frenzy. Lizzy did her laps around the yard, like the crazy maniac dog she is.

And then she got pooped out and had to rest on top of Pappa's project (which is replacing the cover on the flower bed).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

So, how does it taste?

Ok, so as promised, I am here to let you know how my jelly turned out. One word: AWESOME! I hate to toot my own horn, but considering I've never made jelly before AND I did my own thing to make it (quick and dirty, remember?), it turned out just great!

Here's what I did (in case anyone is interested in a very quick, very easy way to make super healthy homemeade jelly, with NO added sugar!):
Step 1: Empty a bag of frozen fruit (in this case, I used organic raspberries) into a small saucepan.
Step 2: Add a bit of water, like about half a cup. Just eyeball it.
Step 3: Bring to a boil. Crush berries in the pan with a fork or potato masher.
Step 4: Add half a packet of pectin (the no sugar added kind - find it in the canning section of the grocery store)
Step 5: Boil for a minute. Take pan off heat and sprinkle in some Steviva (or truvia - any granulated stevia sweetener). I didn't measure, but I would guess it was less than 1/4 of a cup.
Step 5: Funnel into glass jar.
I let my jars set out on the counter for about half an hour before putting them in the refrigerator. Just because I'm crazy like that.

It gelled up nicely and tastes fresh and wonderful! Healthy, homemade 15 minutes or less!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Raspberry jelly

I attempted a quick and dirty version of raspberry jelly today. I don't care if it's perfectly set or runny. I only made enough for me. I didn't use sugar, I used stevia and no sugar added pectin. So basically berries, water, pectin and stevia. All I want is to have some natural jelly (no sugar added) to eat now and then. You can't get that at the store. Sure, you can get 100% all fruit jelly but there will still be fruit juice concentrate in it. So you are still getting tons of sugar.

I don't know how this will taste, but what can go wrong with so little ingredients? I shouldn't say that. It's like an invitation for disaster. But, this is on such a small scale that I couldn't even classify it as a disaster if it went wrong.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on how the jelly turned out. In case anyone is interested in a good jelly recipe without the ton of sugar that usually goes along with it. =)

Sew done!

Well, I packed up all my sewing crap from the dining room table, because it was starting to become impossible to find the table, and got it all put away and clean for Easter Sunday. It's just more relaxing in a clean space. And it was good.

So what did I do last night? Well, I sat with my nightly cup of coffee and watched an episode of House Hunters International (my favorite) after dinner. Then I got up and paced around the house, like usual, looking for something to do. I ended up dragging all the sewing crap out again. Because I had fabric for a bag that I wanted to make for myself just calling out my name. So, I sewed the bag and went to bed at 9:30. Then I realized I wasn't tired and shouldn't I get up and make my wallet too? So I got up, sewed a wallet that matches my bag (with cool little credit card holders and everything) and went back to bed before 11:30.

So that's the bag. I made the handles extra long so I could use it as a purse.

And there is my wallet tucked inside all snuggly with my keys and sunglasses.

I am officially retiring from sewing now. Probably. Well, at least I'm not buying any more fabric for a while. I guess I still have a drawstring backpack that I want to make. Then I'll be done. No really, I will.

Oh, and just to show you, I finally put hair on Eden's doll. She doesn't want her to have a mouth I guess so she's done. I also made the dress. Eden picked out the fabric, she calls it her Easter dress. She wouldn't let me cut off the excess length so it's pretty long. It was just supposed to be a little bit on the bottom but whatever, it's her doll. I didn't have a pattern so I was quite surprised at how well it turned out. Nothing too impressive but that fabric isn't exactly super easy to work with.

I got Hanna's doll's hair on also. She choose brown hair. I switched Emma's doll hair to the nice thick yarn too. The stuff I used first was really thin and didn't look very good. But it was all I had laying around the house. So all three "connies" are done. Rapunzel, StarBird Princess, and I can't remember what Hanna named hers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Egg Jelly Bean Bags

More crafts. Shocking, I know.

Here's a cute little Easter craft you can whip up with your little one in no time. I found the idea here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You can have this when you get back, mom

I gave mom her bag today. She liked it. And I made her a little wallet and coin purse too. Because I have nothing else to do am addicted to the stupid sewing machine. I've already broken a needle on the darn thing. Good Lord, somebody stop me!

Sorry mom, the cash is not included.

Mainly because I borrowed it from Emma for the purpose of the picture.

They aren't perfect, but they sure are quick and easy to make. Fun!

More Sewing

Not sure what is up with me but I went to the fabric store. Again.

I made this bag for my mom. But I was in too much of a rush and forgot to put the cute little pocket on the inside. Oh well. I can't even believe how quick and easy it is to make stuff like this. I might be hooked. The only thing I really dislike about the whole project is the blind stitching at the end. I really suck at it because I have little patience and skill for it. I'm sure it is something that would improve over time. And if I keep making these things, I'll have a lot of practice under my belt.

This is the fabric for my next one. I'll try not to forget the pocket this time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Picnic basket

Well, here it is, the finished picnic basket. I thought about putting a top on it or a button in the center, or something just to close it up but Emma didn't want me to. As an after thought, it would have been kinda cute to put a little lace trim around the edges. Maybe if I make another one I'll try it.

It's sort of weird how I've been so into sewing in the last week or two. Usually if things are missing a button or there is a hole in something, I enlist the help of my mother who has all the patience in the universe for that sort of thing. But just look at me, being all creative and stuff! Who'da thunk it?

Of course I will never compare to my uber talented sewing/quilting/purse making sister. She got all the crafting talent in the family.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

fabric basket

In my last post I talked about the picnic blanket I made for Emma and how I thought that I might try to make a picnic basket out of the leftover fabric. Well, I decided that I would try a practice run on a much smaller scale, just to see how badly I'd screw it up.

Turns out, I've got skills! I was able to make a small basket without much of a problem. So now I feel that I am ready to tackle the much larger picnic basket. The inner lining of the basket is made from felt so that's what helps it keep it's shape.

I will post a picture of my finished basket later. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Emma's picnic blanket

For some reason, not matter WHAT I tried to do to get this stupid photo to upload to the blog in the vertical manner in which it was taken, it ends up like this. Honest to God, I don't understand it and have been sprouting gray hairs for the last 15 minutes trying to figure it out. I've rotated it using other programs, saved it that way and it doesn't seem to matter, it still comes back to haunt me lying horizontally. Maybe it's sleepy.

UGH....anyway, this is a picture of a picnic blanket I am making for Emma. I have been promising to make her one for months now and since it's spring and picnic season is getting close (if the snow ever stops falling) I decided to start it. We go on LOTS of picnics in warmer months of the year. I actually had ordered a gingham checkered table cloth, thinking that we could just use that, but I decided I wanted something a little fluffier. I figured I was going to have to buy batting but imagine my delight when I stumbled across pre-quilted fabric! I mean, it's got the batting in it and everything! So all I had to do was sew the checkered fabric to the quilted fabric and done!

I am by no means a good sewer. I know the basics, I can stitch stuff and use a sewing machine but I've never bothered learning to read a pattern. And my lack of patience and the need to finish what I start no matter if it takes me 5 minutes or 12 hours, make my end results a lot less than perfect. But that's ok. This is just a kid's picnic blanket that will get all dirty outside anyway. The fact that I don't read patterns really makes things interesting sometimes. I have NO idea what I'm doing, I just sort of wing it and do what I think will work.

So all I have left to do is finish up the corner with a little hand stitching. At the fabric store the lady who was helping me asked if I was planning on making a picnic basket too. And I said that I was nowhere near that talented. She said "but sometimes we surprise ourselves". I thought that was very wise. Maybe I will attempt a picnic basket out of the left over fabric.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It was nice out yesterday. The girls were out playing on the driveway and I left the door to the garage open so I could listen to the sweet sounds of children laughing and having fun. Lizzy was chained up outside too. But unfortunately, she could stay outside because she starts barking at EVERYTHING.

This makes me sort of chuckle to myself because in one of  Andreas' attempts to convince me why a gigantic dog is better than a smaller dog, he said, "They don't bark all the time like those little yappers do. They have their size for intimidation, they don't need to bark." Wrong! Unless we just got a defective one.

So anyway, she was barking at people, dogs, wind, whatever it was and I brought her inside and continued roaming aimlessly about the house. Pretty soon I hear Hanna yell, "The garage door is open!"

And I'm like, "yeah, so?"

"She's going out! Lizzy is going outside!"

And then it hit me, the door to the garage was open and I forgot to close it when I let the beast in! OH SHIT! (sorry for the language, but in this situation, it was necessary)

Ok, there are a million and a half reasons why this is not good. Not good at all. Here's a small sample of them:

1) Eden's friend Kendal is outside playing with them and Kendal is just a tad afraid of Lizzy. She might not be except for the fact that we have to practically lay on Lizzy every time she is at our house to keep Lizzy from attacking her (with love of course). Whatever the reason, Lizzy gets incredibly excited to see Kendal. And Kendal is a little girl, Lizzy could easily plow her over, especially at the speed she must have been traveling once she realized she was free at last.

2) Not only was Kendal in danger of being tackled by the beast, but any child, adult, dog, what-have-you in the neighborhood was at risk. Dear Lord, save them!!

3) The running in a zig-zag haphazard pattern of a happily freed dog could prove devastating in the event that her path includes the road. Although, unless it was a semi, nothing is gonna to take her down.

4) She might be like "yellow dog" on that Chevy Chase movie Funny Farm - where it just keeps running and running and running....and just doesn't come back. Wait now, I'm trying to remember why this wasn't a good thing. Oh, I'm just kidding. Sort of.

Anyway, so when I get outside Kendal is running like the dickens for the neighbor's yard, Lizzy close behind. Eden dives on Lizzy, wraps her hands around her back end and hangs on for dear life trying to take her down. Although her 70lbs (or whatever she weighs) is not quite having much of an effect on that big furry booty. Lizzy is still zeroed in on Kendal, dragging Eden behind her like a sled.

Kendal is trying to shield herself with the neighbor's basketball hoop and I yell, "Lizzy!" She stops, looks at me and just takes off running again, as if to say, "Look Mom, I'm free, WEEEEEEEEE!" I'm chasing her, Eden's chasing her, Kendal is passed out on our neighbor's driveway.....Lizzy goes this way and that way and DANG, she's fast! Somehow, I was able to catch her and both Eden and I, grabbed her collar and dragged her inside. I still just can't believe nothing disastrous happened. The whole fiasco probably lasted 2 minutes. But WOW. Just knowing how hard it is to control her with a harness and leash when we take a walk, I was really ready for the worst.

And speaking of those harnesses, you know, they are suppose to squeeze them in the chest area to prevent them from pulling and jumping and things of that nature. I think it might have worked last year, for about 2 weeks. Now, I don't even think she notices. Pretty soon we are just going to have to tie her to the van and drive slowly around the neighborhood for her walks.

We should just have a sign on the door that says DOG ZONE. You know, similar to war zone? Because that's sort of what our poor house resembles. Pee stains, dog fur, chewed up furniture, disappearing's always interesting, that's for sure!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

don't obsess

Things inside the Arff Adventure have been a little slow these days. I usually go back and forth between my fitness blog and this blog and right now, most of my energy has been focused on the fitness side of things since I have a goal date that is fast approaching. Many people might not understand the importance of my silly little fitness goals but that's ok. Everyone has their own aspirations. Maybe it's the one thing I feel like I can actually control. It's frustrating and hard, like other things in life, but at the end of the day, my actions will make or break the outcome. That is the law of life, isn't it?

Now that mother nature has finally decided to unleash spring upon this part of the world, I will be outside with my camera a lot more and then I'll [hopefully] have some pictures to share of the new life sprouting up everywhere. And my kids. It wouldn't be complete without a set of pictures that show how utterly annoyed my children are of a lens in their faces. Actually, they have had quite a nice break since I haven't been very camera happy lately. I've been spending most of my time studying and learning the editing side of photography. I realize how much I over-process a lot of my pictures so I'm hoping to break that habit and see some nice results from that.

Other than studying, obsessing about eating a clean diet and working out daily (I'll admit it, I obsess in a slightly less than normal way), I also obsess about keeping my house clean. Although you'd never tell by looking at it. Because there are only 24 hours in a day, 5 people and an elephant (I mean dog - although who can tell the difference when looking at the piles on the lawn) and 3 floors to this house which seems gigantic when it's time to clean, I just can't keep up. Was that a run on sentence? What makes a run on sentence what it is? Just curious.

My point is, I have to pick and choose what activities/chores I do each day, because I can't do it all. And a lot of it is repetitive. Like, the need to vacuum. I vacuum almost daily. Have to. There is so much dog hair on everything. That makes it hard to catch up in itself. And I hate to be the woman who obsesses about having a clean house. Because, are my kids going to remember how clean the house was when they were growing up, or are they just going to remember a mother who was neurotic about trying to keep it clean and was crabby all the time as a result? Because I don't want to be THAT mom. Sure, I like having a clean house as much as the next person. It's more relaxing to walk around in a clean house than to look at chaos and mess everywhere. But I need to learn to find a balance. I am just so tired of obsessing. About everything. Why can't I just breathe? Why can't I just relax? Wow, I'm really having a moment of self awareness here, or whatever you want to call it.

Also, Emma is going to start kindergarten in the fall. And this has been another source of, not stress, but concern. I know her preschool teacher says she thinks she will do just fine without a second year of preschool but it worries me sometimes. I don't want to make a mistake that will affect her entire future. I don't want to see her struggle. So, we've been buying beginning reading books and helping her out. Because, while I know she probably won't be reading by the time she enters kindergarten, I want to make sure she has the best start she can. And all the help we can give her between now and then is a plus. Hopefully she will be able to recognize some important sight words and have a solid understanding of all the letters and sounds. She already knows her letters but we will continue to work on sounds.

Eden went to two years of preschool and it really seemed to help her. She almost seems bored with school work because it's so easy for her. I think she's missed one spelling word the entire year. And once she started reading, she just took off. Even her teachers were amazed at how fast she excelled. I don't know if that's due to the extra year of preschool or if that is just Eden. But it makes me wonder, especially now when it is time to make a choice for Emma.

And as I type this she is sitting on the couch with her new books that I picked up last night, waiting for me. So I will see you later blogland!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Connie doll"

We have been talking about making home made dolls for about a week now. Today we finally tackled the project. All three of my girls and I, in the kitchen sewing dolls, all day. This is what Emma's doll, "Star Bird Princess" (as she has named her) looks like. Except now she has a mouth. I love how her button eyes are different sizes. It makes her whimsical.

Eden and Hanna's dolls look similar except they don't have hair quite yet. I didn't have enough yarn for that laying around.

Not too bad considering we just whipped them up out of an old flannel sheet. Tomorrow the girls want to make brand new clothes for them.

Eden got this book from her Grammy about a little girl wanting a "Connie" doll so badly but her mother didn't like the way they looked so she wouldn't buy her one. Frustrated, the little girl decides to make her own doll.

I'm proud of my girls. They did a lot of the work themselves. Especially Hanna. Even though she begged me all day to do the hard parts, I thought it was important that she tried on her own so that she could learn. And they did a very good job.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pee cleaning party anyone?

Not sure why, but while I was gone taking Eden to dance practice, our dog decided to pee on the carpet in the den. This is something she hasn't done in a reeeeeally long time. Not since before we had the carpets cleaned last November.

Anyway, I was a sweet wife and stopped to buy my dear husband a chocolate extreme blizzard at DQ on my way back. I was so excited to see his face when I handed over the surprise but instead of noticing the delicious sweet treat in my hand he came over to me, grabbed me and pulled me into the living room saying, "You have to come with me in here for a minute." Of course my mind whirled through a thousand possibilities of what could possibly be wrong within a milisecond causing me to panic slightly. Also I was irritated at this mysterious news that was stealing my ice cream thunder. But he said, "Lizzy peed on the carpet but I want to explain something to you before you see it because nothing will prepare you for the disaster you will see." And I thought, what on earth could be so horrible. She's peed on our carpet like a million times.

So he tells me that he catches her peeing, grabs her by the collar and takes her the shortest distance to the patio door, thinking she'd quit peeing in the process. But she didn't quit. And the shortest distance to the patio door happens to be carpeted, unlike the other way around, which is all tile. Bad news, everyone. Not only that, but he decided he wanted to bind the pee (or soak it up) while he was working on scrubbing it so he sprinkled flour on it. Well, the flour/pee mixture makes a lovely paste, let me tell you. He tells me all this because he knows me. And he knows if he just lets me see it first, I'll freak out. This gives me a chance to imagine the worst before I actually see it and then it won't be so bad.

It was kind of comical actually. Here is this skinny twirly whimsical line of pee running from one end of the den to the other, coated in flour. Ah, yes. Dog ownership. I can't believe she did this to my carpet after I took her for a lovely walk this afternoon. I risk my life every time I take on that task because it doesn't seem to matter how much I can bench press, that dog is freakishly strong. I'm afraid one day she'll just decide to take of after a squirrel with her leash flapping in the wind behind hand still in the loop.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fun food

Eden thinks it's just as important that Lizzy enjoy her dinner as much as everyone else. So she made Lizzy some fun food. How cute!

And this is Lizzy eating off the floor. Sometimes, she doesn't eat her food right away so the kids like to hand feed her. Sometimes they will let her eat right from their hands and sometimes they just dump it on the floor in front of her. Spoiled dog!