Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Walk in the Woods on an Autumn Afternoon.

Can't you just smell it? The autumn scents that are conveyed in these pics? So yummy.

Or do you feel the cool, musty breeze?

What does fall look, feel and smell like in your neck of the woods?



Monday, September 28, 2009

Motherhood ... Part 1 of ___.

I recently learned about a Mom who paid for her daughter's years and years of ice skating lessons by collecting 5 cent can/bottle deposits in her spare time. She scouted parks, dumpsters, etc. in order to gather up the funds she would need to help her daughter make it to the Olympics - her daughter's ultimate goal. And make it to the Olympics this girl did --- thanks to Mom.

That story is an example of what Motherhood means to me --- doing whatever it takes to help your child to be the best that he or she can be --- no matter the effort, the sacrifice, the humiliation (picking cans out of dumpsters), etc. --- as the rewards are well worth every effort made.

Now, please don't confuse my sentiments with those who put their childrens' needs so far ahead of their own, that they lose themselves in the process. That is not good for anybody, including the child ... and is not what I am suggesting here. But to make honest, loving, well-thought out, and well-managed efforts in order to do what is best for your child and your family ... that is the beauty of parenthood to me.

So - when I was recently sitting at our local Denny's Restaurant with my husband and child - and overheard a mother talking to her friend about why her latest man dumped her - because he didn't want to be with someone who had a child - and said child was sitting right there listening to the entire conversation - hearing her mother describe the burden of motherhood --- well, I just wanted to slap that mother. How dare she make her child feel like an imposition! Where is the parenting effort here? What made her think that this was an appropriate conversation for her child to hear? Did she think of her kid at all? Can people seriously be so self absorbed that they cannot manage to think about their own babies? I know that the answer is yes --- but it never ceases to baffle me.

Isaac is the greatest gift of my life. How could I not work every day to be worthy of such a wonderful gift? He is also the greatest gift that I can leave to this world. How could I not make sure to raise him up in love, self-confidence, and as much wisdom as I can impart? Most importantly, Isaac is his own greatest gift. How could I not remind him daily of how wonderful he is and how much brighter the world is for his presence? To insult him or dismiss him is unthinkable to me ... and to most of the wonderful mothers I share my life with.

Now look, I am not worthy of the "Mother-of-the-Year" award, I am certain --- (maybe a close runner up :) --- so I hope I am not coming off arrogant here. But darn it all --- there are ways to raise kids up in happiness and self-confidence --- and I am beginning to lose patience for those who don't seem to make the effort to do so. I seem to have eyes and ears for "bad" parenting lately. For some reason, I am seeing it everywhere --- and it pains me.

But then there are those who dumpster-dive to raise money for their child's skating lessons. Those Moms make me smile. They remind me that the greatest "occupation" in the world is that of a Parent. I love my job ... and "I shall try to be worthy of my post" (Quote from Disney's Peter Pan).

Please comment :)


P.S. I call this post "Part 1 of ___" because I have made some other Motherhood observations that I wish to share and discuss with you all.

P.P.S. My son starts private swimming lessons next week, and I am seriously considering doing some dumpster diving of my own. With all the fairs we have around here, should take me no time to score some funds for lessons :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mama Got a New Do :)

And I LOVE it. Kuddos to Kelli at Mastercuts in Bangor, ME. (Isaac likes it too :)




Thursday, September 24, 2009

Idle Hands Do Something With the Devil ... I think. I Just Can't Remember What.

Okay ... so my blogging schedule has been a little "whacked" lately ... I know. I am trying hard to stick to the schedule that I had previously proposed. But alas, I have never been one for structure ... so please give me some time.

Here is what has been consuming my attention lately ...

* Creating these buttons to sell at Gabe's Benefit Party. (They are so super cute in person and can be purchased in my shop as well.)

* Reading this book in every quiet moment I can find. Just finished it tonight and am begging for the next installment in this fantasy series.

* Photographing in this most gorgeous September weather. This being my new fave pic.

* Learning about all the really cool things I can do with my new IPhone. Soon it will be doing my laundry - I swear.

* Getting past some ridiculous human drama in my life. Only caring about all the kids involved. Trying to stay away from the adults who make the poor decisions that these kids must cope with --- and spending as much quality time with said kids as possible.

* Driving my son to all his various fall activities ... and enjoying seeing him grow in so many new ways. Swimming, basketball and science classes. He does so well with all of them ... and brings tears to his Mama's eyes because he is so sweet and engaged with his teachers. coaches and classmates.

* Reconstructing the house so that we can get more bedrooms out of it (with excellent work by my industrious husband). More bedrooms for more kids, that is! If you haven't already heard, we are getting ready for adoption #2. Very exciting! (More details later).

* Wrapping up our fall 2009 Haitian Roots Fundraising Campaign. Still time to send a donation though!

* Crafting for the upcoming holiday season. Getting ready to set up at some upcoming craft fairs ... as well as building up stock in the shop.

* Helping a friend to move in to her new apartment.

* Sewing a Halloween costume for my boy. Pics to follow.

* and oh so much more ...

Life is good. But idle hands, well they aren't so good for anybody. So I do what I can to keep extra busy. What about you? What are you up to these days?



Tuesday, September 22, 2009


There is so much I want to say about GABE .... his amazing family .... his incredible personality ... his appreciation for life, love, and friends ... his debilitating bike accident ... his painstaking but valiant physical recovery efforts ... and the support that so many people have shown for him because he is one of those incredibly special people who really touches the lives of others. I want to talk about all of this. But, I don't feel qualified. So, instead, I will send you to his website: http://www.getbettergabe.com/ where you can hear from his parents, girlfriend, and friends regarding his recovery in California ... and the efforts that are being made to raise money to bring him home to Maine.

And I invite you to this rockin' celebration FOR and ABOUT Gabe:

For the collosal list of door prizes and raffle winnings, you have got to check this out! Now that is some serious Gabe love going on.

Halis and I will be there. Hoping to see some of you too. No need to be a friend of Gabe's already ... but no doubt you will be in the future after meeting those who love him. That is how I have come to love Gabe myself :)



Sunday, September 20, 2009

I <3 the Weekend!

I loved this weekend. Mostly because my house was filled with kids. And my husband (who was recently in California for longer than either one of us liked).

First, I took the plunge on Friday and bought myself an IPhone. Let me start out by saying that I have not owned a cell phone in a loooong time. So to go from nothing to carrying around a little hand-held computer/phone amped up to the max ... is quite a difference. I now don't know how I lived without it. I mean, I can "plug" into anything in the world in seconds. "Hey kids --- want to go the movies? Well, let me just press this little button on my IPhone screen and I can tell you what is playing --- where and when. I can also read you the reviews of the movie ... tell you how much the popcorn will cost ... and exactly how many miles it takes to get to said movie." Seriously.

"Then, while we are waiting in line for said movie, I can videotape your wisecracks..."

"Later, as soon as I finish videotaping your antics, I can instantly e-mail it to anyone in the world. YouTube included .... mwuuuuaahaahaaahaaaahaaaaaa."

Oh how I love hanging out with the kiddos. And how I love my new IPhone.

Also ... while we were away having our fun Mr. Daddy/Uncle Halis was busy building new walls in our home to prepare for .... (drum roll please )..... our next adoption! We are building bedrooms in an otherwise "open" home in order to get adoption approval again (separate bedrooms for the kids, etc.). Lots of changes in the house that make it more conventional ... something I normally don't like at all. But I will do whatever it takes to bring more babies into our family :)

(OK, so IPhone pics are not the greatest, but you get the idea...)

By the way, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a GREAT movie. Very funny, sweet and insightful. Perfect for the whole family to see together. I was laughing out loud so often that I lost track of all the funny parts (you know --- the parts that you all talk about as you leave the theatre). Definitely a movie I will buy on DVD.

We also spent some time at the park and two trips to Dunkin Donuts (not wanting to cook at home due to construction). Lots of fun ...

(more IPhone pics)

I hope you all had a great weekend ... full of laughs and love.

Chat with ya tomorrow ;)


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thrifty Thursday : 3 for $30 Sale in MY Shop : Now That's Being Thrifty!

Stock up for birthdays, holidays, scrapbooking, sketching, homeschooling, etc... I am getting ready for craft show season and am offering this sale to you all before the pickings get slimmer (hopefully not - but the busy season is beginning).

I did just purchase a HUGE lot of vintage Golden Books on Ebay and plan on getting busy making those right away and *may* offer another sale later but there is a good chance that this is my last journal sale of the year. So, enjoy it while it lasts. Sale ends Sunday night at midnight Eastern Time.

I will be having a pin sale soon too! For those who want to give out pins on Halloween rather than candy :)


Monday, September 14, 2009

Fabric Shopping. So Not Necessary.

So, I am getting rid of almost every stitch of fabric that I have been hoarding for years, maybe even decades, in order to get ready for some serious home reconstruction (more about that to come later). I just have such a "thing" for both fabric and books. I am allowing myself to keep ONE bookshelf of fabric and ONE bookshelf of books. Period. And if you don't believe me, just check my Ebay items for sale and my Bookmooch account. (If you read this too late, then you may find all my goodies gone - but that doesn't mean I am lying - check the stats!).

With all this fabric purging going on, you would think that I would steer clear of any fabric shops. But alas, no. I am a sucker for surplus high-end fabrics at Mardens. I do an excellent job of not buying fabric anywhere else ... but when I can find some Michael Miller goodness for just $2.99 a yard ... I go weak in the knees. And Mardens does that to me without fail.

To be fair, I only bought a tiny bit of fabric this visit (and it has been nearly a year since my last visit to their local shop). I purchased just 1/4 yard of each of 6 fabrics that I thought would be cute to add to current projects.

Isaac is the one who picked out the Scooby Doo - just so you know. The alphabet fabric is just so sweet for adding to a pillow I have in mind. The half-eaten, screaming gingerbread men are just sick and crazy enough to be way cool in our house. Elvis - well - he is dreamy - and I have an idea in mind for him too. The mushrooms go great with some woodland fabric I have been meaning to turn into some bags. And the knitting skeleton ... well, that is just another one of those really sick - but tres cool - fabrics that speak to me. I think it will make its appearance on some bags I will soon be making for my Etsy shop.

Anyway, I certainly did not need to fabric shop this weekend. (I didn't need to eat that monster-sized whoopie pie either - but it sure felt good). Sometimes you just have to give in to your addictions just a little bit once in a while instead of giving in to them a lot a bit during a massive shopping (or eating) binge. If a person goes without entirely, they might go crazy, right? I don't want crazy. I just want a wee bit more fabric to love and transform.

Hope you all had a great weekend. I'll chat with you some more tomorrow :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bangor Car Show 2009.

I am having a blast of a time hanging out with my neice and nephew tonight ... (and Isaac of course). We all went to the Bangor Car Show today and I took many many pics of vehicles ... most of which whose names I have no idea of. But the above photo is my favorite ... because I tend to love faces way more than cars.

I will post the rest of the pics tomorrow via Flickr. Will share when done.

Hope you all are having a great weekend!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thrifty Thursday : Golden Books

I have always loved Golden Books. Being a Seventies child and all ... from a family who was living paycheck to paycheck for quite some time ... these little 50 cent books (5 cents at yard sales) were what my brother and I grew up on. Now, I make part of my "living" by altering these sweet books into journals.

As you can see, I do a lot of thrifting for these little treasures:

I get them from my local Goodwill, church thrift shops, yard sales, Ebay, etc. Sometimes folks will send me their old Goldens so that I can put them to good use. And often times my parents will scout for them all over Penobscot County. So, I have a bounty of these childhood treasures ... and love almost every one of them.

My particular favorite while growing up was this one:

Do you grow up on Golden Books? Which were your favorites? And where do you find them now?

For a great anthology on the history and collection of Golden Books, I recommend Golden Legacy. Check it out.

Enjoy your day,



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Dream of Sharks.

This morning, as my husband woke me for the day with a kiss and a cuddle, I slowly opened my eyes, looked up at him with a smile and said, "Hey babe ........ I got to see sharks." With a sweet, knowing grin he replied,"That is great babe." Just about every morning that he wakes me, I tell him a line or two about the dream I was just in the midst of having. And today's dream was a favorite. I got to see sharks.

I have always been absolutely fascinated by sharks. My earliest memories of my childhood library was of searching out the shark books --- then sneaking off to a corner with a pile of them to read in secret. My Mom has always had a major phobia of sharks, the ocean, and nearly anything water related. So, to read about sharks with admiration was a very guilty pleasure. I enjoyed reading about their breeding habits, the crushing power of their jaws, the crazy contents that have been found in their stomachs, etc. I knew that one day I would become a Marine Biologist and would one day swim among these animals. And though my love for sharks waned a bit when I discovered Killer Whales, they were always in my thoughts.

At 18, I took scuba diving lessons. I was fresh out of high school and not yet committed to college, so I took other steps to prepare me for Marine Biology and my future adventures with sharks. I did wonderfully in my scuba classes. I aced every underwater exercise and written exam. However, it was those very sharks that I loved and admired that kept me from completing my open water training. I tried. And to be fair, perhaps my head cold was to blame ... but when we took the boat out to open water to complete our underwater exercises in the bitter cold Atlantic ... I failed. Though I did have a sinus issue that kept me from being able to go down as deep underwater as my classmates (pressure issues) ... I also had the voice of my mother in my head ... who that very morning had told me that she hoped I would fail so that I wouldn't get killed by sharks while diving in the future. And that voice was LOUD. So, when my instructor told me to swim to shore to take some Sudafed so that I could try again later ... all I could think about was those sharks that might possibly be swimming just underneath me --- waiting to snatch me as I swam back to shore. Moms' words have tons of power. I never did try again. That was my last diving experience ... and my greatest regret.

I still think of sharks often ... with a mix of admiration and fear. I have continued to read about them over the years and try never to miss a Discovery Channel Shark Week. Then one day, out of the blue, I received an e-mail from the Humane Society of America titled "Help End Brutal Shark Killing in Maine". As I read it, I discovered that there would be a Downeast Maine Shark Tournament at the Camp Ellis Pier in Saco, Maine on August 28-29. The Humane Society wanted me to protest such an event ... but I was too fascinated by the prospect of seeing sharks up close ... and wanted to take the family out to watch these fisherman bring their trophy sharks up to the pier. Sure, killing sharks is not ideal to me. But my curiosity was too hard to resist and Halis, Isaac and I planned to attend (I am sure this is not what the HSUS had in mind when it sent me that e-mail). But --- sadly --- we were unable to attend after all. Halis had conflicting plans and I was not about to hang out on an ocean pier with a 4-year old by myself (3 hours from home to boot). Needless to say perhaps, but it really bothered me that I couldn't go. I am hoping for next year ... and I am telling myself that sharks are fish ... I eat fish ... so seeing dead sharks won't trouble me anymore than seeing the dead Salmon on my dinner plate.

This past weekend I had on opportunity to visit Belfast, Maine again (just 45 min from home). My Dad, Isaac and I went to the working pier there with the intention of collecting some seashells. BUT the ocean called to me ... as it usually does ... so - dressed in blue jeans and a fairly "dressy" top ... I dove right into the water and swam among the boats pictured in the above photo. Dad and Isaac stayed on shore while I swam, floated and chatted with seagulls perched upon various boats and rocks. Oh how I loved it. And then just as I was beginning to feel a bit more adventurous ... I thought of that LOUD voice again ... the voice of my mother ... and I thought of those sharks that she swears are always in waiting to eat me. I tried to fight that voice. I swear I did. But it is powerful ... and I quickly (and reluctantly) swam back to shore ... KNOWING that one day I would defeat that voice. One day I will frolic in the ocean for as long as I want ... without worry or fear ... without defeating voices. I am almost as sure that one day I will also finish my open water scuba exam. Halis believes it at least.

Perhaps my next underwater adventure will be to go out on one of these Maine shark cage trips. I'll be sure to bring lots of Klonopin and maybe a dose or two of Valium. That should keep Mom's voice away.

Until then, I dream of sharks. Happily.


Monday, September 7, 2009


If I were living on a stranded island and could eat only one food ... I would request Pesto. Seriously. Yes, it is that strange colored green stuff shown in the above photo. And yes, I have been known to eat it by the spoonful.

My favorite part of the harvest season is making up batches and batches of this sauce. Sadly, my husband doesn't share the same affinity for it ... frankly, he thinks it stinks something awful (this coming from a guy who hates the smell of cinnamon too - I mean - can he even be trusted?). I on the other hand think the smell is heavenly.

So - for those of you who have yet to try this sauce I am going to give you the basics so that you can whip a batch this week and let me know what you think. Here is the thing ... there is a "recipe" for Pesto sauce but I never use it. Making Pesto is all about personal taste. And I have not met two seasoned pesto makers who make it alike. So, for those wanting a recipe from which to start, here it is:

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe:


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced

Special equipment needed:

A food processor


1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup.

OK --- Now that you know the recipe --- here is what I do --- I take huge bunches of fresh basil (sometimes mixed with parsley and/or spinach leaves), handfuls of walnuts, freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, spoonfuls of garlic, and as much olive oil as seems necessary --- and then I just stuff that all into my food processor and give it a whirl for as long as it takes to make sauce (adding additional olive oil as needed). I then take a taste every once in a while and see what I may want more of in order for it to be to my liking.

And that's it. It comes out different every time. And I love it every time. Holy Yum.

I use pesto sauce on pasta, toast, vegetables, pizza, etc.

So, let me know how you make it --- or whether you love or hate it --- etc. Would love to hear some new uses for Pesto and/or different ways of making it.




P.S. By the way --- it keeps for a long while in the fridge and can also be frozen to enjoy during the months leading up to next harvest season.

P.P.S. The winner of our Toy Story Giveaway is Tara Rison! Congrats. And thank you all for the great Toy Story movie lines. I will be hosting another giveaway soon.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A T-Shirt For the Good of All.

Ok ... so maybe a T-shirt can't save the world ... BUT purchasing the following tee comes with some major benefits:

First, you can spread the word about the importance of reading to children.

Secondly, you can buy something handmade in the USA.

Thirdly, you can look super cool ... as you have to admit ... this is a cool looking shirt.

BUT MOSTLY ... you can support the shirt-makers (The Watsons) in their quest to adopt a child from Ethiopia. 100% of the proceeds goes to their adoption fund.

All for just $20! Click here to order.

As most of you know, my son was adopted from Haiti over 3 years ago. We know first hand how expensive this endeavor can be ... so we do what we can to help others to grow their own families as well. Soon, we will be fundraising for son #2 ... but until then, we are happy to help fund raise for other adoptive families. Please consider making a purchase of one of their high quality t-shirts or maybe sending them a few dollars through Paypal (see their adoption website).

Thanks for any help you can provide to any adoptive family. It is a difficult but wonderful journey ... and these parents and their waiting children need all the help they can get. And frankly, sometimes, especially in international adoptions ... you may be helping to save the very life of a child. Is there anything greater?



Friday, September 4, 2009

Funny Friday: Milkman vs. Mailman.


Have a Wonderful Labor Day Weekend --- chock full of rest and relaxation.

Love, Jodi

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What Happens At Grandma's - Stays at Grandma's.

Yes, what happens at Grandma's --- stays at Grandma's --- except that one most always be careful for the paparazzi! I caught you Isaac.

If I were to begin my new "bloggy schedule" ... today would be Thrifty Thursday. So --- I will get out of this one easily by suggesting that hey ... what better way for some thrifty fun than to break out the make-up bag and start coloring some faces. Good times on the cheap.

Enjoy your day.

P.S. And for some other thrifty finds ... check out this GIVEAWAY on my new friend's blog. Look familar?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Seeking Structure.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with "structure." That is not to say that I don't get things done - I do. Maybe I even get too much done. My mind is always roaming ... I never sleep ... and I am always starting on new ventures in crafting, photography, homeschooling, business, blogging, charity, family projects, farm additions, etc. I have this one life (so far as I know) and I want to fill it with everything that interests me --- all the time. And for the most part, my lack of "structure" suits me. It keeps me jumping from venture to venture without worry for failure ... because I know that my mind works in a circular direction ... and that I will always come back to the places that I have "left off".

BUT --- I do crave structure. Always have. And since lack-of-structure seems to work for me --- I am not certain why.

So, here is my "structure-situation" as it pertains to this blog. I want to give it a schedule of sorts --- something for readers to rely on. I have seen other blogs do this effectively and wonder whether it can work here.

First, the premise of this blog maybe somewhat vague --- but the content contained within is meant to assist & inspire every reader to create their unique, authentic, HANDMADE LIFE. And by handmade, I don't necessarily mean "arts & crafts" ... more along the lines of YOU are the CREATOR of your life (with the assistance of your maker :) . And it is my contention that trying to live YOUR MOST AUTHENTIC LIFE may require any number of the following:

* living outside the "box" a.k.a. the "norm" - avoiding society's pressures on what our lives should be

* getting back to basics - living more simply

* creating abundance all around you in whatever forms you wish

* finding & creating supportive communities of people who live lives by their own design as well

* nurturing ourselves and our families so that we may each live our best life - in support of one another

* expressing ourselves through various forms of art, music and sports

* supporting others in their unique ventures - and learning from their triumphs and setbacks

* sharing our talents (& generosity) with the world

* teaching our children to think outside the box as well - nurturing everything they are and want to become

* creating our own home-based, creative economies - supporting the trades of others while extending our own talents for profit as well

* appreciating all that we are, all that we have --- and all the beauty that others bring into our lives

* seeking out and nurturing our spiritual growth --- collectively or separately

* working to fulfill our every dream & desire

How is that for starters?

Those are the things I think about when I share on this blog. These are the avenues in which I hope to better explore and share. However, I feel a nudge to incorporate some structure to the presentation of the notions expressed above. For example, could each day of the week speak to a different way in which to live "This Handmade Life"?

Would a schedule similar to the following be a way in which to reign in my thoughts / shares / etc? Would it be welcome by my readers? What do you think:

Make-it Monday
(tutorials, recipes, crafts, etc for creating your own)

Thoughtful Tuesday

(reflections on life, parenting, farming, etc)

Wordless Wednesday
(sharing photographs or art to inspire - my own & that of others)

Thrifty Thursday
(frugal ideas, thrifty finds, ways to create something from nothing, etc)

Funny Friday
(videos & stories to make you smile and or crack up laughing)

Shopping Saturday
(sales pitches & reviews for products made by others who are creating their own home-based, environmentally friendly businesses to support their own Handmade Lives)

Inspirational Sunday
(stories, photographs & videos to inspire your own spiritual path)

And as for ways to give to your greater community (and thus give more to yourself than you could have previously imagined) ... I long ago created a website called Give to Begin to Live that will be associated with this blog. I have yet to "put it out into the Universe" ... but please feel free to check it out (please start by reading the Mission Statement") and let me know what you think - or better yet - what you would like to add to it.

Pretty wordy post - I know. Perhaps some pretty lofty ideas too. But I Believe. And I would like to see this blog become a base for some real lively discussion on many of the ideas I have presented ... as well as a place for people to come to for inspiration and sharing.

Please let me know what you think via Blog Comments.

Thank you so much for being part of this blog ... and of my life :)



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Around the Farm.

It is a small farm - no doubt. Just 16 acres ... littered with all manner of wild fauna ... 2 goats, 16 chickens, some dogs and some cats. But we get our eggs and milk in this way. And the future may hold other farming ventures here on this fertile land ... just 2 miles from the city's shopping center. Till then, we are more than content with the life we have here. Simple ... yet just minutes from the chaos and entertainments of the city. A strange set of circumstances brought us here ... but now we can't imagine being anywhere else.

I recently met a guy up here from my hometown area of Nashua, NH. He was just passing through and asked me "So, what are you doing up here?" I replied, "Loving every minute of it." And I do ... at least most of the time.

I thought for today I'd share some of the pictures that I took around our place this weekend. Enjoy: