Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Life Long Learning

I finally figured out how to hold my shutter open as long as I want. I kept it open about a minute in the photo above.

Can you believe this was a dark, dark night? The moon was throwing some light but nothing like it looks in the picture above. More like the one below.
The shutter was open about 30 seconds in this photo.

I want to try this on a starry, starry night. But the moon can't be out or it's too bright and I won't get any stars. The things I'm learning from photography. Pretty cool.

That's me. A life long learner. Here's some other things I'm learning:

I'm learning......it's okay to be wrong. It's better to be right but not the end of the world if I'm wrong. Which I am, frequently.

I'm learning.........to hold my tongue and not say the first thought that pops into my head. I still struggle with this one, though. It's hard to keep silent. But here's a quote I like:

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. ~attributed to George Eliot

I'm learning.......patience. Because it's important. Too many times I rushed through things, or around things, and totally missed moments. I'm learning to find joy in the moment.

And I'm learning.......to just do it. If I've always wanted to do something, why am I waiting? Hence, the photography class. And my writing.

So I'm starting my book NOW.

Gotta go. See ya.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bittersweet Beach Memories

Our weekend at the beach was bittersweet.

End of the summer. Off to college for P. Back to classes and school in a few days for J. and K.

None of that is good.

Well, except for the back to school in a few days part. That's really good.

K. needs direction, focus, something-to-do-because-she's-so-bored.
These two make me laugh.

He is wild, crazy, exuberant, loud, energized ALL the time and embodies joie-de-vivre. Look up the phrase in a french dictionary and you'll see J.'s picture right next to it.

P. is quiet, thoughtful, introspective, and calm. Most of all, calm. I don't think I've ever seen her get riled or ruffled.

He makes her laugh. She brings calm to his storm.

We're gonna miss you, P.
This, dear readers, is the most delicious, the most chocolatiest, the most tastiest hot fudge I have had since my childhood. No one makes good hot fudge anymore. That jarred stuff is blech. The squeeze bottle stuff is uck.

But this stuff? Lip smackin' good.

We went to dinner at Arnold's on Saturday and there was a fellow passing out samples of his own homemade hot fudge. He's the guy out on the Cape when you want a hot fudge sundae.

E. was standing in line with Sissy and her husband when the fudge guy went by with samples. She snagged one, ate it, and using sheer stealth, slinked back in line with us to sneak another one.

Wow. That was a lot of s words. What alliteration. That English degree is paying off dividends now, I tell you.

But, seriously, this fudge is GOOD. Go get some next time you're in the area.
We were minding our own business, playing on the beach, building sand castles and engineering dams when we looked down the beach and saw a bunch of banners blowing in the breeze.

Huh. There's a lot of b words. I'm on a roll.

What's a minding-your-own-business kind of girl to do? Why, she walks down the beach to get a closer look at the banners.

And discovers a wedding.

All eleven of us wandered over to the wedding area and waited for the bride. Luckily there were other beachgoers watching along with us. Or else we would have looked funny, standing on the side of the wedding area in our bathing suits. Carrying a camera.

Down the stairs came the bride, to all her guests humming the wedding march.

These people need music lessons. The wedding march morphed into something that ended suspiciously like the happy birthday song.

But she was happy. Her parents were happy. And her spectators were happy.
I left them a wedding present in the sand.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Beached

Seven hours.

That's how long it took us to get home from the beach yesterday.

It really takes three hours. But there were way too many people on the not-big-enough road leaving the beach.

And they all had the same thought we did. Hmmm, it's going to rain. We should leave early.

Next time I'm going to think, Hmmm, it's going to rain. We better stay late SINCE ALL THOSE OTHER PEOPLE WILL BE LEAVING EARLY.

Just finished looking at the thousand pictures I took this weekend. Not kidding.

One. thousand. pictures.

Way too tired to post much tonight.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday night knitting group

End of summer bash at knitting tonight.

Sigh.

Summer is almost over.

We get together outside of knitting a few times during the year and tonight was one of those nights. Sissy and I recently returned to knitting after being gone for five weeks to photography class. We got big hugs from the ladies we haven't seen in a while.

It's so nice to be missed. Even when they threaten to kick us out for missing so many classes. These ladies are serious about their knitting.

I call it extreme knitting.
B. hosted our gala event and she went over and above tonight. She declared the theme to be Arabic since she's partly Arabic and sent out menu requests earlier in the week. I made a delicious couscous salad that I had at my friend M.'s house last week.

We ate stuffed grape leaves, meat pies, tabouleh, couscous, chicken in yogurt sauce, and baklava.

We also had peperonata, an Italian tomato-pepper dish, brought by the Queen who just happens to be Italian.

And watermelon, brought by one of the Irish women in the group. She's not from Ireland, but her heritage is Irish. She tries to knit with kelly green yarn. We stop her every time. Hideous color. Don't ask me what watermelon has to do with the Irish.

Geesh, these people don't get the whole theme idea at all.
We made pomegranate martinis and laughed and talked while B. put together the meat pies. We teased her hubby - he wouldn't act as our bartender. I don't know why he didn't want to hang out with eight women, chattering and poking fun at each other.
This knitting group rivals any support group ever.

We share worries and frustrations, we talk about our kids and husbands, we laugh, and sometimes we cry.

We've lost husbands, sent kids off to college, welcomed new babies, moved households, and changed jobs and through it all has been the constant of Wednesday night knitting.
I never knew what I was missing until I found these women.

Thanks, ladies. You're the man.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What to Post? What to Post?

Some days I have no idea what's coming out when I sit down to post.

This is one of those days.

And I struggled to find a pic to take for my year long pic-of-the-day project.

And I woke up late.

So Miz PG and I walked this morning. Late. Because I didn't wake up until 5 minutes after I was supposed to pick her up.

Ooops. Gotta call Miz PG and see if she still wants to walk. We're on a tight schedule, us two. We have to get to work on time.

Rats. She wants to walk. I was kind of hoping she'd say, no, you stay snuggled in bed and get an extra hour of sleep. you need it.

Instead she made me get up. And walk.

Drat. I almost had a morning off. Foiled again, Batman.
So I wasn't really awake when I got home. I needed coffee.

Big coffee. Better use my super jumbo Orla Kiely mug. And time to grab my camera because that glorious morning light is here again. There's some pretty sunflares coming off the mug. It makes it look magical and fairy-ish, don't you think? No? Click on the pic to enlarge it. Then it will look fairy-ish.

Don't these photos look like old Polaroids? I love that look. I know, all you crackphone iPhone users have that nifty cool shake it app. But I don't.

I have to do it the old fashioned way. With my ultra modern DSLR.

Ha.

So that's my post today. And my pic of the day.

A sleep deprived, coffee-swilling, amateur photographer recreating pictures from the 70s.

Great post.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Paper Chase

Nope.

No pics today.

No sirree, Bob.

I cleaned my bedroom. There is NO way I'm posting before pics so I can't post after pics either.

Let me just say, the more I cleaned, the messier it got.

It started with "Hoarders : Buried Alive" last night. I'm kind of obsessed with that show right now. It's like a watching a train wreck. You don't want to look but you just can't help it. Anyway, I was watching that show and finding myself cleaning out small pockets of clutter during the commercials.

Huh. Subliminal messaging. Sneaky.

It wasn't near enough cleaning, though, so when I woke up this morning I took a good look at my bedroom and eeeeeeeeek!

The closet looked like a hoarder's closet. I grabbed some garbage bags and out it went.

And guess what? I'm not a hoarder.

But I am inundated with paper - mail, copies of recipes, magazines, catalogs and the thousands of pieces of paper that I get from every company I've ever done business with. Even ones I don't do any business with. Of course it doesn't help that K. is getting slammed with hundreds of college mailings.

I.am.not.exaggerating.

My house is overrun with paper.

Where's a mouse when you need one?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend at Nan's

I got to spend the weekend with my grandmother.

She's a ticket. She still walks fairly well. She cooks, she does dishes. And she's a fierce crocheter.

Is that a word?

She loves to crochet and has made many, many afghans. I think we all have one like this.

She'll be 94 in September. We share the same birthday - isn't that the coolest thing ever? I love having the same birthday as my grandmother.
I wandered around her house looking for things that made me think of my childhood. We spent a lot of time at her house when I was young. When I think of her house, I think of Twinkies and Table Talk pies. Bingo and card games. Swimming in the pool and family picnics. I think of baseball games and football games, turkey and stuffing, Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday. But most of all, I think of the love.

The picture above is my grandparent's wedding day. I love listening to her tell stories of when they were younger. There are stories about moonshine and sheriffs and dancing. About family feuds and scandals and nicknames, like Chewy and Chickie and Cookie.

Really. I'm not making this stuff up.This weekend happened last minute. K. was at the beach with my dad and uncle, my niece M. and my sister. And the Man and J. went fishing and working so I was going to be home by myself. Well, my mother-in-law was home, too, but she keeps busy. Extremely busy. Believe me, it would have been like being alone.

I decided to visit my grandmother. I love spur of the moment visits. We didn't do much, just hung out and talked and looked at old photos. Like the one above, of my great-grandmother and my great-grandfather.
Eating breakfast this morning, I saw her silhouette on the wall behind the table. It was a perfect silhouette of her.

I love this picture.

But I love the next picture even more.
Nan and me.

There's a lot of love in these hands. And these hearts.

I love you, Nan.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oldies but Goodies

I find it fascinating that women can talk non-stop for four plus hours and not run out of things to say. I can't talk to the Man for four plus minutes without running out of things to say.

Actually, I could talk longer, he just can't listen that long.

Some old friends from high school gathered at my friend M.'s house for dinner tonight. My word, did we laugh. And laugh. Oh, and then we laughed some more.

There were five us together. We were supposed to be ten of us, but five couldn't make it. That's too bad for them because we had a great time visiting with each other, catching up on everyone's life and kids and husbands and jobs.
Then we got to the good stuff, like internet security and crackbook facebook with our children. And how we want to throw away our computers because they're so unsafe.

Yet, if it weren't for crackbook facebook, we wouldn't have gotten together. Ironic, huh?

Do as I say and not as I do, kids.

Because I said so.

Oops, sorry, I digress. Every now and then all those parenting cliches come trotting out.
M.'s son, J., made the bruschetta and the pesto that was in the wee little basil boats on top of the mozzarella. What a clever young man. The little boats were his idea. I think I'm going to steal it. They were so adorable. And taste delicious.

By the way, J., I want your pesto recipe.

There's something wrong with getting a recipe from a teenage boy, don't you think? What, exactly, does that say about my cooking?
We ended the night with brownies, again made by J., and fruit salad and chocolate chip cheesecake bars.

Wow.

What a great food night.

And what a great friend night.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Middle Aged Flowers

I just can't do it.

I can't throw flowers out until they are falling apart. As in, petals in a pile on the table, or counter, or windowsill, or wherever they are.
One day they look fine. Full of life. Peppy. Happy. Cheery.

The next day, they droop a bit. That's when I start to feel bad for them. They are in the middle age of their life. You can't just throw things out when they hit middle age.

They still have value.

They are still pretty.
And then the next time I look, they are plain old sad. Their little bodies get lower and lower until, poof.

Petals on the metal, or wood in the case of my table.

I hate throwing them out, but I'm oh-so-appreciative of the joy they brought me while they lived.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pretty Ladies Dancing in a Line

I learned a lot from the photography class I took. I learned about lighting, and metering, and white balance, and ISO.
There was sunshine, glorious sunshine, on Saturday morning when I stepped outside. I ran back in and grabbed my camera.

I loved the bright green color of the day lilies that were waiting on the porch for the Man to plant. My lovely sister-in-law brought them to us on their way to vacation.

So I practiced changing settings and learned how to bring out background color. See how the red of the barn is much brighter in the bottom picture? Too bad I can't remember what I did.

I think I better practice more.
While the sun was still shining, I was inside cleaning and straightening up. I found some forgotten treasure - miniature wedding dresses I found at a dollar store a few months ago. I tucked them away for who knows what and promptly forgot about them.

But, as treasures often do, they showed up in a most unexpected place.

Right where I left them, stuffed in a bag on the side of my dresser. Oops.
With that bright blue sky in the background, and the deep green of the trees behind the house, it was a perfect setting to shoot these pictures.

The clothespins are a tad bit big. Okay, they're REALLY big but that's all I had.

Must get some small clothespins.
The wind was blowing nicely, lifting up and tossing around. These ladies were dancing and swaying and having a wonderful time with their girlies.
I just love these pretty ladies. They're so fancy and free.
I practiced changing ISO to bring out the blue skies.

Wow.

That worked rather well, I think, don't you?

But the dresses are a bit dark. Hmmmmmm.

That's a bit better. The dresses are lightening up some.
Oh, much better. As the Man would say, "Now we're cooking with gas."

The sky is still bright blue but the dresses are oh-so-white.
There it is.

My best shot of the day.

Blue sky, little bit of green at the bottom, and pristine white dresses dancing on the line.

I think I may use this to make some wedding cards. What do you think?
Tired at the end of the shoot, they hang on the line - no wind, no dancing. Time to get packed away for another day.

K. pointed this shot out to me. She has a good eye. And it's something the photography instructor talked about when we discussed composition.

If something looks good from the front, turn around and see what's happening behind you. If there is a gorgeous sunset right before your eyes, there are gorgeous colors being reflected off stuff behind you.

And if I had listened to her, I would have turned around and seen these shadows on the ground, right behind me.

Thanks, K., for reminding me to turn around.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Visitors


My niece, M., is visiting for the week. We're very excited.

Now we have an excuse to shop. And make cupcakes.

She's a very quiet young lady and you hardly even know she's here. The very best kind of guest.

We love having her.

Plus, she has a good sense of humor. She laughs at us.
I took these pics of her last year.

I can't wait to take more this year. I think she looks like a model. She's got long skinny legs and a very straight posture.

If she gets famous someday, she better remember her auntie. I called it first.

Walking Hazards

We have some adventures during our walks, Miz PG and I.

Remember I told you that our usual walk is around and about in the town cemetery? It's pretty quiet and keeps us off the streets. There's some c-r-a-z-y drivers out there and I don't want to be a statistic so I feel safer walking off the streets. The pictures in today's post come from the walk Miz PG and I do every morning. The cemetery is surrounded by corn fields and dairy farms and is absolutely one of the prettiest spots in town to walk.

Hence, we walk in the cemetery. Most of the time it's the same. Three circuits around the perimeter, some whining, maybe a little begging ("Are we done yet? Pleeeeeeease, can we be done?") and finally the three laps are over and we're back in the car heading home.

Every now and then something happens to break up the monotony. One day we were visited by the state police. He wanted to let us know that a car had been stolen from the cemetery and we should be alert as we walked around. Needless to say, we walked PDQ that day and headed home ASAP.

You'd think I work for the federal government with all that alphabet soup I'm flinging around.

Another day, way (and I mean waaaaaay) in the back recesses of the cemetery, there was a white van with no windows parked off the roadway, kind of tucked into a huge tree of unknown species.

(Miz PG and I have been trying to figure out what this tree is since we've been walking, over three years now. We're no closer than the day we started wondering. It has huge leaves and looks very prehistoric. That's about as good a description as I can give. If you could identify it for us, we'd appreciate it.)

We avoided that van and walked PDQ, looking over our shoulders, until the van finally started up and drove off. But we were ready to run that day. Except we don't run. We are easy pickings, I tell you.

We gotta practice running.
And then we had today. We were walking back to the car and I noticed a hole in the ground, right where a gravestone used to be - one of the type that rests flush with the ground, in the first row of the section. I peered into it to see if it was a sinkhole and could only see some white concrete stuff at the bottom of the 18" deep hole. No gravestone. Miz PG couldn't see around me and she wanted to know what was down there. She could have asked me.

What does she do?

She steps into the hole. Yup, right into the hole.

I screamed at her to get out of the hole.

Why? she asks, very perky and kind of Pollyanna-ish.

Because, I said, in every horror movie ever made, someone steps into a hole and gets sucked away, never to be seen again. And the poor schmuck friend with her is left to battle the monster that comes out of nowhere and usually ends up in a bad way.

So get out of the hole right now. Because if you get sucked away, I'm outta here.

She jumped out.

I'm telling you, we gotta find a new place to walk.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Knitting Fail

I bought some yarn a while ago that I absolutely fell in love with. It's a lace weight yarn, with lots of deep, rich jewel colors variegated throughout and it came with several patterns to try.

So I tried the first one I liked.

Fail.

They only gave half the pattern. I got so confused I brought it to my knitting teacher. She couldn't figure it out either.

Not doing that one. Glad I only wasted a week on it.

Yay.

Pattern two.

Fail.

I had this one on the needles three different times. I kept messing it up. It was awfully lacey and I kept miscounting and missing the pattern. Because the pattern read something like this:

Row 1: K2, yo, k7, yo, K4, continue in this fashion till end of row
Row 2: purl all stitches
Row 3: K3, yo, k5, yo, K2, yo, K3, continue in this fashion til end of row

Follow this pattern, increasing as necessary to keep the pattern going.

Huh?

What is this?

What pattern? I don't see a pattern here. I see a bunch of knotted holes.

Double fail. I only wasted three weeks trying to figure this thing out. Tonight, I threw out the patterns and went to Ravelry and found this pattern. It's much easier to knit than those other patterns.

Geeesh. You can't even call those things patterns.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Girlie Craft Day

Whew. It has been a busy, crazy, can't-find-a-minute-t0-sit-and-blog kind of week.

We had cousins in town for the weekend. Every minute was spent doing something.

A good something.

The guys took the little girlies to the park to play and then they all laid down on the grass and watched the planes go over. That's great fun for a two year old.

The big girlies, aka me, Sissy and cousin T., had a craft day. We each brought a craft (or two or three) and the supplies to share and made fun stuff.
We made serving trays and coasters courtesy of cousin T. These were the easiest crafts EVER. And they look very cute.

She brought wooden trays, tiles, acrylic paints, Mod Podge, and scrapbook paper. We painted our trays and let them dry in the sun.

They dried very quickly, like as soon as we applied the paint. That was okay for the paint but not for the Mod Podge. We had to put the paper on very quickly and place it just so. There wasn't but a second or two to shift the paper if you put it on crooked.

Which I did. Ooops.

Well, that's why my tray looks like a handmade item. And the hands that made it, weren't so quick.

I love it anyway.

But next time, I'm not doing this craft in the hot, hot sun on a hot, hot day. Nope. This is an indoor or cool, cloudy day craft.

We put more Mod Podge over the paper, sprayed it with a coat of sealant and il est fait.

C'est bon.
The coasters were made the same way, except without the paint.

Mod Podge over the surface of the tile, apply a 4" square piece of scrapbook paper, more Mod Podge, spray some sealant, sticky foam buttons for the bottom and you're good to go.

These would make excellent hostess gifts, me thinks.
The last craft of the day were dishtowels, ala Anthropologie-style. Sissy found a great tutorial on how to make these here.

We had lots of ideas for the embroidery section. I really loved the bird in the birdcage so I did that one. Sissy embroidered a pink daisy with a long, whimsical stem and cousin T. used some of the flowers from the fabric.
These are SO UNBELIEVABLY CUTE. I need to shout this from the rooftops.

The cuteness factor will drive me to make these over and over and over again. The possibilities are endless. I'm going to have French tea towels with little Eiffel Towers on them, and daisy tea towels with honeybees on them, and more birds, this time sitting on branches - really, the list is endless.

And I won't have to spend $24 at Anthropologie for a tea towel. That's a good thing.
After that, we ran out time. We had to stop and get ready for our backyard barbecue with the guys.

So we didn't get to do my crafts. Pooh. I had good ones, too.

Next time, since we're already planning another one.
We all had brunch together on Sunday morning and waved off the cousins as they drove out.

*Sigh of contentment. What a nice weekend visit.

Here's a yummy breakfast casserole recipe for you:

Blueberry French Toast Casserole

Small loaf of french bread, cut into 1/2" slices
3 eggs
3 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs vanilla
2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
6 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Grease a 9"x13" pan, put french bread slices in pan. In a bowl, add egg, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in milk and pour over bread to coat. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, heat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and cut in butter. Put blueberries on french toast and then the crumble topping. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

I got this recipe from some people at church. We have it on Easter morning after sunrise service. Can you say d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s?

Because it is. Enjoy.