Today I’m sharing two ways to hand color black & white photos. Before I had a digital camera, I used to use black and white film every now and then when taking photographs of my children. I liked the old fashioned look of the photos, plus I thought there was more scope for imagination. One of my favorite things to do was to hand color a few elements back into the photo using Prismacolor pencils. They work well because they have a lot of beeswax in them and the color goes down smoothly on the matte paper. Here’s a buried treasure I recently uncovered:

hand colored black and white photo using prismacolors

The tricks for doing this were to print the photo on matte paper, then choose light spots in the photo to add color. The dark spots don’t show as well. It requires thinking about the photo in a different way, like choosing things that weren’t necessarily colored that way in the first place. In my photo, the boys’ shirts really were green and blue, but the parts that I colorized were the white parts, because they showed the color better than the grey would have showed color. The pink in the dress was light enough to color it in the same spots where it really was pink, and the bricks were colored all over, but the color doesn’t show on the darker parts of the bricks.

Here’s another photo I found. This one was printed on glossy paper. I thought it would be fun to try another way of hand coloring a photo, so I stitched this one with embroidery thread.

hand color black and white photo with embroidery thread

For this one, I chose the elements I wanted to colorize, then poked holes around them with a pin. I held it up to the window so you could see the holes better.

colorizing black and white photo with embroidery thread

Once I had pre-poked holes around each leaf and the rake I wanted to color, I used fall colors and backstitched around them. I didn’t tie off the ends of the thread, I just left about an inch hanging out the back.

hand color black and white photo with embroidery thread

These are fun ways to add more creativity to your photos. I think they’d be great gifts, too. Isn’t it funny that as technology gets more and more advanced, we still long for the simple, un-techy days as well? I certainly like a balance of both the old and the new in my life.

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Over the past year or so I’ve been in pursuit of healthiness. I knew I needed to do these things to be more healthy: reduce stress, improve my diet, and get better sleep while maintaining consistent exercise. All these things are interrelated. It turns out that sleep improves with a good diet, regular exercise and reduced stress. Reducing stress was a big undertaking and included many things, but that’s a post for another day. To improve my diet, I started reading blog posts, listening to podcasts, and talking to friends about the paleolithic diet. In case you don’t know, the paleolithic diet is really about eating unprocessed foods. What I learned about this lifestyle is that it incorporates not only eating, but all the things I needed to work on to improve my health. I slowly started adopting some of the tenets of paleo eating and saw my health improve in ways I hoped: I dropped pounds and eliminated my need to take pills in order to sleep. My health has also improved in ways I could never have guessed: my year-round allergies are gone and the bumps on the backs of my arms are almost completely gone. I never considered the allergies or the bumps a problem – I just thought it was my lot in life to have allergies and bumps. I didn’t take any allergy medicine this past year. Not once. That has never happened until now.

The thing I like most about this lifestyle is that it encourages you to do your own research and look at the science behind recommendations, then make an informed decision about what’s best for you and your family. For example, dairy is not on the list of paleo foods, but because I have been trained now to ask why it’s not on the list, I have been able to decide that I’ll keep it in our family’s diet. Because I’ve researched it, I am now buying more raw milk from pastured cows. When we have cheese, I try to get cheese made from raw milk. These are changes that make sense to me right now. The other thing I really like about this is that you are always growing in your knowledge, and what you believed was right last year might change as new scientific evidence comes to light. And that’s okay. Maybe next year we’ll be dairy free. Combining the research with the way my family feels when we follow the recommendations is a great way for me to make informed choices about what we eat.

That’s the reason you’ve seen so many food posts from me this past year. I’ve never been a great cook, or very interested in cooking until now. Here are a few things we’ve dined on lately:

Beef Heart Chili

beef heart chili - paleo

This chili was delicious. I made it on one of those days when everyone in our house had activities going on, so nobody ate at the same time. The chili was just sitting in the crockpot on the counter and people ate when they could. The next morning, there was only about one serving left of this dish that I originally thought would last two nights. The coolest thing? It was very nutrient dense. It was BEEF HEART CHILI. Yes, I gathered my courage to cut a beef heart into chunks that looked like stew meat, then combined it with grass fed ground beef to make this chili recipe from Robb Wolf’s blog. I have to admit that I’m proud of myself for getting over the whole “I don’t want to touch raw meat” thing. Have you ever prepared organ meat?

Apple Crisp

apple crisp - paleo

This is an apple crisp that I have made twice now. It’s yummy and has only a little maple syrup as sweetener. Of course, we added ice cream to ours, but you can skip that if that’s not your thing. I found the recipe here.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

ground lamb bell pepper

I shared this recipe for stuffed bell peppers over the summer, but we have had this using all different types of ground meat: lamb, beef, bison and pork, and also different colored peppers, depending what’s on sale that week. I topped this one with a little goat cheese.

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Isn’t it great how you can fit a lot of fun into a very short amount of time if you have to? Well that’s what I did last month when I visited my sister in Petaluma. One of the things we did was a quick trip for some wine tasting at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma. The wine was heavenly, the facility beautiful, and the one-on-one time with my sister glorious. Jacuzzi Family Vineyards is connected to Green String Farm, whose photos I shared earlier this week, and to Cline Cellars. Because we were short on time, we only went to Jacuzzi, but I had been to Cline before and I loved it! Both places are great stops if you’re ever in Sonoma. Like Green String Farm, they use sustainable farming practices. I really love that. And wine. Here are my photos from that quick visit.

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

Isn’t this place beautiful? It’s also right across the street from Cline Cellars. I love that kind of convenience. Next time I’ll hit both places.

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine tasting

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A few weeks ago I got to visit my sister in Petaluma, CA. While I was there, we went to her favorite farm stand. I adore the idea of eating locally grown food whenever it’s possible and so does my sister. Green String Farm was fully stocked with gorgeous tomatoes and produce galore. They even had homemade bread and pastured meats! It was my kind of place. They also have a great intern program there, which teaches all about sustainable farming practices. That makes me like this place even more. If you are ever near there (like in Sonoma wine country) stop by this farm stand for a snack. One of the farm owners is also part of Cline Cellars. Having your hands in wine and farming, well that sounds like a really good life to me! Here are some of my photos from our visit:

Green String Farm

Green String Farm

Green String Farm

Green String Farm

Green String Farm

Green String Farm

Green String Farm

Green String Farm

And this is the bruschetta my sister made with the gorgeous tomatoes and bread we bought that day. It was amazing.

Green String Farm

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We recently went to California for a family wedding. One of the first things our 15 year old son said when he learned about the trip was that he couldn’t wait to see the rock lawns in Grandma’s neighborhood. I thought this was a strange thing for him to say…until I connected the dots. He is responsible for mowing the lawn every week at our house in Missouri. It’s not his favorite thing to do. So, while we were visiting, we drove through the retirement community where Grandma lives and looked at all those beautiful, low maintenance rock lawns, that look the same week after week. No mowing required. Growing up in this town, I remember when this neighborhood was new. As kids, we thought the rock lawns were hilarious. It’s funny how time changes things. Now I can see the benefit of having a rock lawn in a climate where the summer days get over 100 degrees and drought is a normal status. I can see the benefit of having a rock lawn if you aren’t able to care for your own lawn or if sweltering outdoors isn’t your cup of tea. The rock lawns are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, mixed in with the regular lawned houses. They use a lot of cactus plants and other elements that don’t require a lot of care.

neighborhood rock lawns

rock lawn

rock lawn

rock lawn

rock lawn

rock lawn

rock lawn

rock lawn

rock lawn

rock lawn

rock lawn

I like how the design of these lawns takes advantage of different sizes of rocks, like this one:

rock lawn

And this house wasn’t in the retirement community, it was at the beach! This one is probably my favorite one because it’s a tiny house and a great location.

rock lawn

There you have it: perfect lawns in the eyes of a 15 year old boy who would rather not mow. Me? I think we’ll keep our grass lawn. But then, I don’t have to mow it. Ask me again in three years.

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Here’s a quick project I did a few weeks ago. See this white top? Well, you can probably tell by how wrinkled it is that it came from the back of my drawer. I didn’t wear it very much because the elastic around the waist didn’t look good on me. Whether it was too tight or not tight enough, I just didn’t like where it sat on my middle. One day, I wanted to wear a white tank top but didn’t have any clean, so I decided to make this one wearable.

white tank top for fringe project

I cut off the elastic band at the bottom. Then I cut the fringe, making the strips about two inches long, because I didn’t want the fringe to start higher than the waistband on my shorts. I’ve seen some fringed tops that look cute where some torso skin shows, but that didn’t feel like an age appropriate look for me. :)

cut fringe on tank top

I sprayed the top with a water bottle to get it damp and threw it in the dryer for a few minutes. That took out the wrinkles and helped the fringe roll nicely. Then I wore it. The end.

fringed tank top DIY

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This DIY Party Banner is something I made before our daughter left for Spain last week. I put it up before the “family dinner” when we had our in-town family over to send her off the week she was leaving. I think it might have to stay up until she comes home.

vaya con dios party banner

To make this, I started by choosing festive colors of felt. I decided on the words to use, then I cut three felt squares into triangles, one for each word. The words mean “Go with God.” I read that in Spain, this is something you might hear from a priest in church, but I thought it was an appropriate message from us, too. Next I cut letters out of felt, sewed them onto the triangles, then sewed the triangles to a blue ribbon. I tied the ribbon to our curtain rod. It was a very simple and quick project and could be customized for any party.

vaya con dios banner

vaya con dios party banner

vaya con dios party banner in window

I also updated the wall art in our house that I change every now and then. I keep the same red polka dot background and create art with felt. Buen viaje means bon voyage in Spanish. For this, I cut the letters out of felt and sewed them onto the rectangle shaped piece of felt. I used spray tack so it just sticks to the red polka dot fabric. I peel it off when I’m ready to change it out.

buen viaje wall art

If you want to see some of the other art I’ve used in this frame, look here, here, here, and here.

buen viaje wall art

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I have a huge fondness for airport hellos. That’s a phrase I’ve coined that refers to the greetings one gives or receives at airports. Airport hellos certainly make my list of favorite things, as you can see by one of my Thanksgiving posts about things I’m grateful for:

giving thanks for airport hellos traditions and seasons

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about airport hellos.

A few assumptions can be made about the airport hello. First, the person who has traveled has gone to great effort to get to you. This must mean they love you. You probably love them, too, or you wouldn’t take the time to meet them at the airport. Second, you can assume that there has been a separation, whether it’s been a day or years. The third assumption would be that reuniting has been anticipated for some time. The person who shows up at the airport to greet you recognizes what a gift you are, and they want to soak up every moment of goodness that comes from seeing you.

Some of my favorite airport hellos have included four or five days in a row of people we love arriving for our wedding over twenty years ago. I felt loved back then, but now that I fully understand how big an effort it is to get a whole family across the country, I’m humbled. If you did this for us, thank you! It has stuck with me over all these years and I might be even more grateful now than I was back then. It was an amazing gift you gave us and I remember your presence more than I remember your presents. (For the record, I know that driving out of town to a wedding is a big effort, too, so thanks to all of you who drove as well.)

Some more airport hellos I’ve loved include the ones that happened when Brian would get back from a business trip when our kids were young. We would wait at the airport until his flight arrived, then as the kids spotted him walking through security they would run through the airport screaming “Daddy!” and leap into his arms. You can’t help but feel blessed when you are a part of this scene.

I love watching other people’s airport hellos almost as much as being a part of my own. Almost, but not quite. Seeing military personnel swarmed by family members as they clear the security gate is one of the coolest things ever. If you haven’t ever made it a point to observe other people’s airport hellos while you are at the airport, you should. It gives you a glimpse of the best of humanity. The joy that radiates from these people is contagious. You can practically feel the warmth from their greetings.

I’m reflecting on the airport hello today because I have an airport goodbye to get through this week. Our daughter is leaving for Spain. She is going to live with a family and be their au pair. She will get to travel while she is there and see a part of the world that is new to her. It’s an adventure she has dreamed about for a long time and our whole family is excited for her. The thing about airport hellos is that they are balanced out by airport goodbyes. You can’t have one without the other.  So, this week especially, I’m purposely focusing on the airport hello, and knowing that we will get one of these with our sweet girl when she gets home from her travels, filled with stories of new people and new places. Buen viaje, Maddie!

family photo

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Have you ever purchased a watermelon only to discover it was a bit mushy? Well, that happened to me recently. Instead of throwing out the chunks of watermelon that nobody would eat, I decided to create a watermelon cocktail.

watermelon cocktails

It was simple, really. I cut the watermelon into pieces and put them in a bowl, like I usually do for convenient snacking. When I realized they were not being consumed because they were too mushy, I used the bottom of a milk glass to smash them even more, releasing the juice. I strained the juice and saved it in a glass jar until I was ready to make the drinks.

For this drink I used equal parts of watermelon juice and LaCroix sparkling water over ice, with about a shot of vodka. I am guessing on the measurements – I just eyeballed them. I topped it off with some fresh mint from my yard.

watermelon cocktails

We ended up with a refreshing, light drink that wasn’t too sweet. If you like sweet drinks, you could add some sugar, but I liked it the way it was.

watermelon cocktails

I’m voting this another winning combination: Not wasting food and Creating a yummy summer cocktail. I hate throwing out unused produce, so this was a great solution. I need to get better at this kind of thing. How have you reduced waste when it comes to produce?

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This is the next post in my raw milk adventures. When I went back to the same farmer from my raw milk butter post and told her how much I loved it, she suggested that I try making raw milk ice cream next. It doesn’t take much for me to be on board with an ice cream project, so I bought another gallon of raw milk and headed home to look for a good recipe. There is a fair amount of controversy about raw milk and the risks/rewards associated with consuming it. After doing my own research, I am comfortable serving it to my family, but be sure you do your own research before you decide what’s best for your own family.

raw milk label Daisy Belle

homemade raw milk ice cream

Since I’ve been trying to eat as few processed foods as possible, I looked for recipes that used minimally processed ingredients. There were several recipes out there, but none that fit perfectly with my ingredient requirements and also what I had on hand. When I improvise in the kitchen, my family gets nervous. Even though that’s exactly what I did here, they ate every bite, so I guess it worked.

Betsy’s Raw Milk Ice Cream

4 cups raw milk (include as much cream as possible)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup

Whisk together the milk and the eggs. Add the vanilla and maple syrup and whisk everything so it’s mixed well. Follow ice cream maker directions.

homemade raw milk ice cream

homemade raw milk ice cream

To get as much cream as possible in your milk, let it separate before you pour your four cups off the top of the gallon. I think mine ended up being a little more than half cream, and the rest milk. Once everything was whisked together, I put it in my ice cream maker and followed the regular instructions.

The ice cream had a little different texture than what we normally make. It was less smooth. The taste was fabulous. We added strawberries the first night. The second night, after a day in the freezer, the ice cream looked like it had separated, so we just mixed it up before serving with blueberries. It was good the second night, too. I will definitely be making this again.

homemade raw milk ice cream with strawberries

What do you make with raw milk? Share in the comments!

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