Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Make your own baby food!

One of the awesome things about living in North Georgia in the Summer is getting fresh fruit and veggies here.

Thanks to our almost weekly visits to Jaemor Farms I have a freezer so full of baby food it could last us till spring.

I know generations of babies have been raised on prepackaged Gerber baby food, and I'm sure it's just fine, but since I'm a stay at home mom now with plenty of time to do things for my baby I love love LOVE to make my daughter's meals from scratch.

Honestly, I just don't appreciate the fact that I have NO IDEA when Gerber food is packaged, who handled it, how clean the machinery is, or how fresh the fruit was when it was processed.

Oh, and those little containers of prepackaged babyfood-

pound for pound they cost MORE than homemade organic food.

Also, I always find a special joy in walking through the rows of fresh veggies at the farm where they were grown, picking out the most beautiful apples, the most perfect peaches, the juiciest pears for my little Elsie.

(You don't get that feeling pulling plastic containers from a grocery store shelf.)

I try to make her food each day on the spot, but sadly, those pretty peaches don't stay pretty for long- so I have to prep them and put them in the freezer. (Elsie, sampling a home-made biscuit).

If you want to make babyfood for your little one too, it's extremely easy:

1st) Rinse your fruit and veggies VERY WELL.

2nd) Most fruits and veggies will need to be peeled- The skin contains most of the pesticides (unless you buy organic)

3rd) Some veggies need to be steamed before you can blend them- carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, etc... just steam them for a few minutes to soften them, but don't overcook them or you'll lose all the nutrients. Soft fruits like peaches, plums, apples, and avocados don't need to be steamed.

4th) Put them in the a blender (I use a Magic Bullet- not the Baby Bullet, mind you- but a regular blender will work just fine). Blend them until they're smooth.

5th)Pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze until hard

6th) Store the cubes in plastic ziplock bags or tupperware- make sure to label your babyfood very well- You'll need to mark what's in the bag, and the date you made it because once your freezer starts to fill up, it becomes harder to recall whether those orange cubes are carrots or sweet potatoes. If you're storing your food in tupperware, make sure to use a dry erase marker instead of a sharpie, so you can reuse your boxes. If you don't have a dry erase marker handy, a piece of masking tape works great as a label.

If you think I'm nuts, go try this:

Go buy a fresh peach and a container of peach babyfood.

Put the peach in a blender and taste it.

Tastes like a peach, right?

Now taste the factory-made baby-food.

What's it taste like?

Feet. That's what.

One more bonus- Always having frozen fruit around means you can toss a couple of your fruit cubes in the blender with some ice cream or fro-yo and you have a milkshake or smoothie!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I want to be cooler than tv...

I have about a bajillion irons in about a bajillion fires right now.

(That I work on exclusively during Elsie's two daily half hour naps. The second she closes her sleepy little eyes a whirlwind of work is unleashed in my studio.)

Here's a peek at one of the smaller projects I'm doing this week: Here, go ahead and have seconds...

Which one is your favorite?

Personally, if I'm going to wear a t-shirt, it might as well have a dinosaur on it.

Also, I can't get enough of this guy and his happy folky music:

I know you didn't just scroll on past that video.

Click it!

Watch it!

Learn the lyrics and sing it to your kids...

Especially when you're trying to get them to sleep so you can work on stuff that's way less important then them!

It will get stuck in your head and make you a slightly better person because of it's residence there!

--------------------------------------------------Post Edit---------------------------

I want to hold up my head with dignity, proud of a life where to give means more than to take.

I wanna be cooler than t.v. For all the kids that are wondering what they are going to be We can be stronger than bombs If you're singing along and you know that you really believe We can be richer than industry As long as we know that there's things that we don't really need We can speak louder than ignorance Cause we speak in silence every time our eyes meet.

Monday, August 22, 2011

You can take a different road to the same place.

In New York City, I somehow managed to live, work, and play for two years without making any real lasting friendships. I didn't know anyone who was

1) My age

2) Married

3) Enjoyed church more than clubbing.

All of which are pretty much pre-requisite for being a friend of mine, because, believe me,

who you surround yourself with matters.

It's kind of remarkable really- In NYC I encountered hundreds of people every day, but connected with no one.

Now that I'm back in GA it's completely flipped. I'm home almost all day every day, and I encounter less than a dozen people a week (not counting church) but almost each and every one of those people are near and dear to my heart.

If my house were to burn down while I went to the mailbox I could walk a mile in any direction and find a close friend or relative.

Coming back to Georgia has also given me a chance to reconnect with friends I haven't gotten to see since we left the country years ago. It's so great to rediscover old friends, and remember why I loved them so much!

Of course, there are the occasional grocery store run ins with folks I kind of wish would fall off the face of the Earth.

(Bless their hearts).

But the lady at the post office (Doris) knows my name, and I have to plan weekends well in advance to make sure I have enough time for every one to get together.

There are some people who, no matter how much time passes since we last spoke, I'll still want to be friends with.

With a very small group of people, I can pick right up where we left off.

Some people are just classic.

This is me and my friend Mrs B when she was still Miss J and I was Miss L circa 1997 at Skate Country. 14 years later we are still totallllly awesome.

And so are our kids!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Why I Do What I Do: PART2

He asked me why I paint

I didn't really know how to answer.

I could not paint?

Since I first picked up a brush the thought hadn't occurred to me.

Why do I paint?

I tried to come up with a coherent answer.

My mind went back to when I lived in St Maarten.

In a tiny apartment in Cupecoy.

My car got stolen, and it wasn't safe to walk anywhere after dark.

I paint because some Haitian guys stole my car?

Little boxes watercolors were cheap at Van Dorp.

I paint because a dutch art shop was having a sale?

Peter could study all night long and I wouldn't mind that we didn't have cable because those long quiet hours flew by when I was trying to get the shades just right.

I paint because my hands just naturally seemed to understand how to move the brush.

I paint because it's easy?

I paint because it's natural?

He could see me kind of floundering to give an answer, so he changed the question a little.

When you start a painting is it for someone in particular?

Do you paint for yourself or for others?


All me.

Little pieces of my soul are tucked away in the brushstrokes.

There's a story behind every canvas.

Each piece is a mile marker on this (literal) journey I've been on for years.

It's taken me abroad.

It's brought me home.

It's blown me to the city, and swept me to a small town.

Some mark miles of darkness and depression,

some joy and friendship



It's all there

for anyone to see

my story laid bare in cyan and chartreuse.

I do what I do because it's what I was made for.

-----------Post Edit-------------------------------

I plan to tell the very true stories behind the paintings here in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Why I do what I do.

"The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career. " — C.S. Lewis

I can't put my daughter in daycare.

Not won't.

Simply can't.

My head, my heart, my entire being rejects the idea.

Being away from Elsie for more than a couple hours actually causes me pain.

Physical pain.

I become so anxious that my stomach churns, my head hurts, and my chest aches. I know women all over the world drop their babies off every day on their way to work, but I can't. I guess I'm not as strong as them. or something.

That is why I'm determined to contribute to our family's finances without leaving my daughter for hours on a daily basis.

Right now, I've got a list of over 100 things that I intend to do to ensure this endeavor is a success.

I'm only on step 7.

Yikes, I've got a long way to go, and a lot of work ahead of me.

But it's worth it, if it means I never have to let that little lady out of my sight.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

How To: Make an awesome Etsy Banner

Having a great banner for your Etsy shop might not make your shop an instant success, but it definitely doesn't hurt to have one that's awesome.

Your banner is like the shirt your shop wears.

What is it saying about you?

Is it saying that you are awesome, unique, and clever?

Is it saying that you really don't give a dern?

After settling more often than I'd like to admit on banners that really weren't very good (they were always blurry, or dull, poor quality, cookie cutter, hard to read, or infested with termites.) I think I've finally found a formula to make one that's just right (at least for me), and easily changed with the seasons or what have you.

And so I present to you

How I Made My Awesome Etsy Banner

First and foremost, keep in mind is that your banner is short and fat. It's supposed to be 760 x 100 pixels, but don't worry about that right now. I like to draw my banner out by hand. This is what my rough sketch looked like:

2) Next, I ran it through the scanner.

3) Time to croppity crop crop.

Now Etsy says to make it 760 x 100 pixels. Now I say phooey on this because EVERY SINGLE TIME I've ever uploaded a banner of this size it has been blurry and degraded, no matter how high res the original was. So, this is the absolute most important thing you can do:

Crop your image to 1140 x 150 pixels.

Do it!

Your mom called me and said it was ok.

This will keep your image from getting blurry & degraded. There is nothing worse than spending hours creating what you think is the perfect banner only to find that it looks nothing like the masterpiece you worked so hard on, after you've uploaded it.

Step 3) Once you've got your sketch cropped, open it up with your favorite photo editing software- I prefer paint.net but you can use whatever you're comfortable with.

Next, crank the contrast alllllll the way up.

Crank the brightness as far up as you can without losing too much quality.

Crank the contrast alll the way up AGAIN.

At this point you should have a pretty clean line drawing.

You can use this as your banner if you like black and white or you can use the "fill" tool to color your image in.

My banner is just a mish-mosh of the swirls that are in a lot of my paintings behind my store name, so I saved a copy of the black and white image, and now whenever I want to make a theme change, I can just recolor it. Come Christmas time, I can turn the banner red and green, or go patriotic for the fourth of July.

Hurrah for simple and easy customization!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Doing The New Banner Boogie

What do you think of my new shop banner?

I know it's just an ink sketch, but I plan to buy a little canvas and get my monotone swirl on with this basic design concept.

This works for now, though and I feel like it's better than my old one- it always made me a little sad, because it featured a painting I made a while back that I really loved... that I sold.


(and sigh.)

I was really tempted to leave the old banner up, and put off installing the new one until I had a more polished piece, but like my catalyst agent buddy warns, I don't want to

ruin good with perfect.

----------------------------------Post Edit-----------------------------------------

Elsie took an extra long nap this afternoon, so I got a little editing done.

This is a slightly more finished version:

What do you think?

Writing this counts as action!

If you look to the right side of the screen, you'll see a list called

"Blogs I Actually Read".

A more accurate title would be

Blogs I Can't Wait To Read

because the second one of these is updated I can't help but pounce on their site. Long time followers of this here lil old blog may (or may not) notice that there have been some changes to that list recently.

For one, I removed the Blog of Paul Kyser. After two years of hoping his link would read "Updated yesterday" I finally had to give up. After confirming the death of the blog with the author himself, of course, just to make aaaaaabbbbsolutely certain that the day after I deleted my link and never ever ever went back there ever again, that he does, in fact, have no intention whatsoever of writing there again in the near future.

Also, you'll notice a few additions- there's the blog of my good friend, Elsie's fairy godmother, Skye. Her blog is called Life Is A Carnival. It doesn't always get updated often, but when it does, it's always worth the read. (Elsie looks pretty comfy on Skye's lap. Little Awesome looks like he's about to grab some baby toes!)

And then there's her husband, Da Godfatha, (That's an ItalianAmerican accent there- did you get it?) with his better business blog, aptly titled

A Better Way of Business | Showing businesses and people a better way. I think the name says it all. Yesterday, we had our first meeting about how to get my business going. really going. So now I have about 100 hours of homework, which I'll try to squeeze into Elsie's two nap times a day. I think if I really follow his advice I can turn "Oh wow! I got a sale today" into "Oh wow! I got soooo many sales today!"

It's going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of not watching t.v., and maybe a little help/patience from Dr A, but more than anything, like Ivan says, it's going to take


---------------------Post Edit------------------------------------

If you're reading this and you have a blog, leave a comment and we can link to each others' blog- building an encouraging community is on my list of actions I'm working on!

----------------Post post edit---------------------------------

If you don't like hearing me talk about businessy stuff and only like the baby stuff b/i/s. They've really got me pumped about getting this art show on the road. Also, don't worry, I plan to keep this blog mostly cute and cuddly and keep 99% of the art stuff elsewhere.

Friday, July 29, 2011

LoveAboveAll now has a Facebook Fan page!

LoveAboveAll is about seeking out what/who/where you love. It's about putting that love first, above all else.
LoveAboveAll began in May of 2008 when artist La Sha Ackerman realized she had more art than she could possibly hang. The call to create is a passionate love which refuses to relent. It is a hurricane of the brain that leaves behind a trail of beauty, exalting that which is most loved in life- beauty, travel, friends, music, and the magic in every day life. And labradors. Cause they're awesome.
LoveAboveAll is the studio name of Georgia native, former ex-patriot, chronic traveler, wife, baby-maker, book-reader, harp-player, painter, Jesus-follower, and tomato-grower La Sha Ackerman. Click here to become a fan!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grandpa Claus Brought Christmas in July

This is what a lucky little girl looks like: If you were to describe Santa to Elsie, she would probably be all, "dude, I totally know that guy! We eat dinner together once a week, and he never minds when I drool on him- he's my grandpa!"

(If she could talk, that is).

Last week my parents took the tiny Miss A on a toy shopping spree, which resulted in her getting pretty much one of everything marked "6 months+".

Her little world has never been so musical and bright.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Two Tacky Mamas #1

Long ago

In a galaxy far far away

Two uniquely fashionable women tried on hideous clothes,

laughed till they almost peed their (high-water parachute) pants,

strategized how to improve said hideous clothes,

and talked about starting a blog on the topic

(which, for the time being, will just be incorporated into this here old blog I've been writing for years)

And so, without further ado, I bring you the very first installment of

Two Tacky Mamas

Episode #1: The Case of the 1990's Maternity Dress of Horror

Mrs A pulled thousands of feet of velvet trimmed denim from a box of hand-me-downs.

"Holy-mother-of-all-PTA-moms!" Mama D exclaimed.

At first glance it seemed as if Mrs A was holding a denim bed sheet, but if you stood back a few feet and let your eyes carefully refocus, it became apparent that the king-size bed sheet was in fact a dress.

A maternity dress.

From the 90's.

It was a sartorial black hole capable of completely sucking you in,

and crushing you with such copious denim,

and a velvet collar,

and velvet cuffs,

oh my.

Mrs A took a deep breath, wrestled the beast to the ground, and cut off the menacing crushed velvet bits-

veritably chopping the the sleeves in half.

Then, in order to give her ankles some breathing room, she cut off about a thousand inches of fabric, to give the creature that now more closely resembled a dress a more fashionable hem-line.

Next, where once lived a massive heavy black velvet collar, now was just a savage raw cut, which Mrs A neatly turned rolled and hemmed.

The same treatment went to the fray-full sawed off sleeves, which were then folded to above the elbow.

Then the tiny princess woke up from her tiny nap, signaling the end of Mrs A's crafty time, and the beginning of dinner time. So Mrs A donned the now streamlined carcass of the 90's nightmare and enjoyed some time grilling on the deck.

And they all lived (and dressed) happily ever after.

-----------Post Edit-------------------------------

If you'd like to see The Ackermans in some photos that are actually decent for a change, go here, 'Like' Swell Studio's page and then vote for us by Liking the pic of us you see there. Since either Dr or Mrs A are almost always the one behind the camera, there are virtually no good pictures of them together with tiny miss A, so winning this would be a real treat!

-------------------Post Post Edit----------------------------

Your turn Mama D!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The past five months

I haven't really been writing for the past five months.

I've been a little busy.

These past five months have been

the most exhausting

the messiest

the snuggliest

the loudest

the kissiest

The happiest months of my life!

The Best Thing In The World:

The best thing in the world is

holding you in my arms

when you smile in your sleep

how you laugh when I tickle your tummy

the way you smell when I kiss you goodnight

how happy you are when you bounce in your jumperoo

watching you sleep in your little swing a few feet away while I write this

The best thing in the world is:


Monday, February 07, 2011

On and on and on

Dear Little Daughter of Mine,

You have the best of everything waiting for you:

a super loving family

the coolest of baby toys

the gentlest pets

a closet full of the cutest clothes

hand-stitched quilts and hello kitties

and everything else a little girl could ask for.

So come on out whenever you're ready cause your due date has come and gone, and I can't wait to hold you in my arms.



P.S. If you ever wonder if your dad loves you- know this: he read the instructions. For you, the knowing-it-all-est man alive followed all the directions in the manual for putting together your things to make absolutely certain he put everything together just right to protect your tiny toes and fingers. That's looooove.

Friday, February 04, 2011

On Names

Almost none of my paintings have proper names, so I end up referring to them by the subject followed by the medium, but this one has a name

 (because Peter named it): 

The Creepy Tree I don't really think it's that creepy though. I suppose if I'd used a different color scheme it would have conveyed an entirely different sentiment while still expressing a complicated/solitary subject.

 ------------------------Post Edit/ more hormone induced crankiness------------------

If a pregnant woman tells you what she has decided will definitely be her child's name, please, for the love of all that is rolly, DON"T proceed to tell her about everyone you know with the same name, what you think of all those name-sharing folks, every possible nickname and how you think it should be spelled.   Sure, outwardly the pregnant woman might smile and nod and say "how interesting" but inside she is a bear and you are a hiker with a backpack full of granola and honey.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

On the phone

I recently googled "What I wish someone had told me before I went into labor" hoping to find some nugget of knowledge that would help me in some way. Unfortunately, all I found was trivia that, well, lets face it, the moms who'd written really SHOULD have already known. Come on, people- you have 9 months to read up on this stuff!

Something I would like to share with the general pregnant population is this:

Turn off your cell phone,

because, in your last week your phone will look like this: and every message/ call will be the exact same, and you will want to, but not be able to, say the exact same things over and over and over:

Hiiii! Have you had the baby yet? 

Nope, not yet

How are you feeling?

Awesome, thanks! (aside from the excruciating back pain, swollen feet, nausea, headaches and insomnia)

What did your doctor say?

She'll be born when she's ready. (Actually, that's a summation of a twenty minute conversation about my cervix).

Anything I can do to help out?

Nope, we're completely ready, when she is. (But feel free to come over and cook dinner without judging me for wearing the hideous pineapple print housedress I bought in the caribbean for about the millionth day in a row.)

Well, make sure you call me when you go into labor!

Absolutely! (Because I definitely want to be annoyed when I'm trying to have a baby).


So, really, the bottom line is, turn off your cell phone during the last week of pregnancy. You'll avoid a whole bunch of aggravation, and you won't feel compelled to return the gazillion missed calls/ messages because really, the people who call during that last week can be split into two groups: and those who really need to talk to you will find other ways that doesn't involve driving you crazy.

----------------------POST EDIT-------------------------

 I don't know if this is how it is for everyone, but Pregnancy week #40 finds me exhausted, in pain, swollen from head to toes, and just generally super duper cranky. Why do so many people want to chat with such a miserable creature? 

Monday, January 31, 2011

On 127 Hours

This past weekend I went with The Ackerkids to see 127 Hours- the true story about Aron Ralston, the hiker who had to cut off his arm to save his life.

I have to admit to liking it much more than I thought I would.

To me, it served as reminder of the strength of the human spirit.

We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

What's more amazing to me, than his acurrately assessing the situation as do (cut off his arm) or die and taking the extreme measures he did, was his life after the accident.

You should go see the movie to see what I mean, but trust,

it's joyous.

-------------------------Post Edit-----------------------------

A lot of times when I see a movie and it has cussing in it, I think "Was that really neccessary?" Because a lot of movies could be enjoyed by younger audiences if only the language weren't so vulgar. But after watching 127 Hours I can't help but think that if it were the true story of La Sha Ackerman being stuck under a rock for almost a week that it would have waaaay more expletives. Seriously, you'd only be able to show it in movie theaters in Las Vegas after 11:00.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Stuff On My Husband

In a lot of homes The Man gets the best seat in the house.

In our home Dr A. apparently is the best seat in the house. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Napping and Nesting

Last year I was living in NYC and went to work in a foot of snow.

This year I'm living in Georgia and four measly inches of the white stuff has had everyone snowed in.

Even if you have the gumption to crank up your four wheel drive and get out on the completely unplowed and unsalted roads, there is nowhere to go because everything is closed.

It has been awesome having a few days to enjoy just spending time with my husband and indulging the increasingly overwhelming nesting instinct.

Never before have I felt the need to use every single attachment that came with my vacuum cleaner; but suddenly I find it imperative that all intake and outtake vents in the house be vacuumed thoroughly, all ceiling corners be inspected and deemed spider web-less,  and you know that super skinny attachment?

You can use it to get all the dust out from the area UNDER the television.

 I know Dr A., lover of glass topped desks and 90 degree angles, is certainly enjoying this new trend, even if it does mean being asked to heft heavy things all over the house. 

 On the flip side, though, being trapped in the house for four days straight with an extremely pregnant lady exposes him to all sorts of things he'd probably be able to avoid if only he were at work. 

For example I can't hide my narcolepsy from him if he's going to be home all day.

Since I only get about 3 hours of sleep during the night these days due to constantly being woken up by the extreme urge to pee combined with a routine of 4 am nausea and just a general running wild of the mind when everything is still and quiet, I find taking a hundred little naps during the day essential to normal functioning.

(Don't ask me how I get through work days. It generally involves a lot of tongue-biting and by the end of the day an inability to see straight).

Lately my routine has become sort of...

Wake up, eat breakfast, nap, take a shower, nap, check e-mails and Etsy sales, nap, wash laundry, nap, start folding the newly cleaned laundry but then fall asleep on the couch sitting up with the tv on because the clothes are warm and smell good and unintentionally spend the rest of the day there, until someone calls or rings the door bell or until a tiny uterus dwelling creature decides its time to give the old bladder a kick.

 Also, since we've both been home... together... all day... for days now, when normally neither of us would be here, our house has taken up a new motto. Actually I guess it's more of a mantra, since it's less of a credo and just something that has become a repeated statement within our household micro-society: 

"I was going to eat that!"  

Whether it's the lone orange straggling in the produce drawer or the bottom of a jar of mayo- nothing is exempt as a cause to exert the decree of an intention of being consumed by one or (usually) both parties.

Let's hope tomorrow is sunny!  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meditation and Creation: Week 37

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. ~ Psalm 139:13-16



Before I sit down in front of the easel 

before I ever open a tube of paint 

before I even buy the sheet of canvas

I know what I'm going to create.

I can close my eyes and see it.



Often times the painting takes turns and twists along the road to completion and becomes something different than I had intended, but paint never touches brush until it has a destination.

 As the day that I'll get to meet my daughter draws nearer and nearer I can close my eyes and imagine what she'll look like- this ultimate creation of my life- and speculate on what personality traits she may inherit, but ultimately, her finished and framed life is as much a mystery to me as it will be to her. The best I can hope for is to nurture the joy that revealing the mysteries can bring. From the day she discovers her tiny little toes to the day she discovers her true love and beyond; what she uses this pre-ordained canvas for will be incredibly, and uniquely, her own to reveal.