Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Craft Lollapalooza

photo courtesy of

Aren't these the cutest pumpkins? Now that cooler weather is on the way, I feel like crafting again.

I don't usually craft in the summer. Too hot, too humid, too sunny, too many other things to do outside the house. But in the fall? It's just right.

Call me Goldilocks.

photo courtesy of

And for all the scrapbookers out there, here's an easy wall art project.

Cheap, quick, and pretty.

That's my kind of crafting.

And it's not really just for scrapbookers. Anyone who can buy scrapbook paper can do this craft.

photo courtesy of

Aren't these the sweetest pillows EVER? They're called "Love Note" pillows and the tutorial is here.

I need to dig up some of the notes the Man has written me over the years.

And maybe the cute little sketches he draws on the calendar. Especially on our anniversary. They usually involve a stick figure Man, a stick figure me, and a heart.

photo courtesy of
I love this piece.

Only I want to do it with owls. I hope there's an owl paper punch. Or I'll have to use the bats.


I'm seeing owls everywhere. Are you? Isn't it funny how something just strikes your eye and then you see it everywhere? Or is it the other way around? Someone decides that owls are big this year and everyone else must agree, and they all start making owl stuff which I see everywhere.

Make sense?

Either way, owls are everywhere right now. I found a brown mercury glass owl a couple weeks ago and he now sits in my china cabinet/display case. And then I found some pretty cute owl fabric, in several colors, and bought pieces of that. Sissy was telling me about an owl project over at That Artist Woman's blog. Very adorable for the elementary set.

photo courtesy of

Finally, don't you just want to gobble these up?

How cute are these?!

Boy, I've got a busy weekend ahead of me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall Photos

I dragged K. outside tonight to shoot her in the leaves that have been coming down. She wasn't as enthusiastic as I'd thought.

Sure, Mom, I'd love to be a model for you. C'mon, let's go!


But she was a good sport and let me plop her into the leaves, spread her hair out a bit, climb up on the chair and shoot away. But she kept looking for bugs, convinced they were creeping and crawling their way towards her. I can't count how many times she peeked out the side of her eyes.


They're just little bugs.
I never remember what I say to her while I'm shooting. I just keep babbling until she either starts laughing, stops laughing, smiles sweetly, or stares straight at me.

I say whatever I have to to get the face I want. So sometimes I say things like, "Will you stop smiling? You're ruining my shot."

Which of course makes her laugh. And that's what I wanted her to do.
Although sometimes she does some random thing that makes me smile, like cover her face with her hands.

Hello? I'm trying to take some pictures here. Your face is kind of critical to that end.
Eventually I get the shot I wanted.

And we both smile.
You would think this was a long photo shoot by the yawn in the picture below.


It only lasted about fifteen minutes.
These are all SOOC. I haven't tweaked them yet in Photoshop.

Now I'm yawning. I'll do that tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'm not in Kansas anymore

When I opened my eyes this morning, the entire room was bathed in pink. I looked out the window, saw the world turned pinky-orange, jumped out of bed, grabbed my camera, and started shooting. It didn't last long, maybe ten minutes or so.

Just long enough for me to capture some cool colors.
The lighting was surreal. I felt like Dorothy, transported to another place. Because we sure weren't in Kansas anymore.

Not that I live in Kansas. I'm just saying.
The summer-flower has run to seed,
And yellow is the woodland bough;
And every leaf of bush and weed
Is tipt with autumn’s pencil now.

And I do love the varied hue,
And I do love the browning plain;
And I do love each scene to view,
That’s mark’d with beauties of her reign...

I love the year’s decline, and love
Through rustling yellow shades to range,
O’er stubble land, ’neath willow grove,
To pause upon each varied change...

-excerpts from "Autumn" by John Clare (1821)
So J. started his new job at a famous plastic brick maker corporation. Can you tell I'm being overly cautious about mentioning a brand name?


He's been a fan of these bricks since he was a little guy, leaving them all over the house for the Man and I to step on, vacuum up, toss out in fits of pique when they weren't cleaned up and put away playing with them on Christmas morning.

He was quivering with excitement when I got home from work. He couldn't wait to show me the purchases he made at the company store.

He did not make any money at work today since he turned around and bought several sets to give away to his cousins.

We reminded him that the point of employment was to bring money HOME.

He assured us that he was straight with this fact. And then detailed out all the purchases he planned on making tomorrow.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Word of the Week #2

Word of the Week : Imperfect


(you'll need to click on the pic so you can read the passage)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Milk and Weeds

The Man and I had dinner with M. and M., some good friends, a few nights ago. Their son, J., made a delicious Buffalo Chicken dip.

Lots of heat.


Let's just say when I made it a last night for my company, I cut the heat a wee bit. Since my lips were still burning from Thursday night.

J. is fifteen. His plan was to make it hot enough that the older folks wouldn't like it. Then he'd have it all to himself.


He underestimated the old folks. Our taste buds aren't as strong as they used to be, so the heat ain't botherin' us, J.

How do you like that fancy vernacular?
So we enjoyed a leisurely dinner, lots of good conversation, and laughter, and then got to see some pretty terrific pics that J. took while he was on a snowboarding trip out West.

K. was supposed to come with us but she got sick, poor girl, and had to stay home, asleep on the couch. So J. was left with all the older people and he was doing his best to entertain us. Which he did pretty well. He's a funny guy.

While we were cleaning up, I noticed a glass milk bottle in M.'s refrigerator. She buys it from a local farm at the farmer's market every Saturday morning.
They poured me a glass to try and it was lip-smackin' good.

The skim milk.

Lip. Smackin'.Good.

I got the details from M. on where to get this milk and filed it away under "Milk : Yummy" in my little brain for later.

So late Saturday morning, as I'm pouring a cup of coffee (still in my p.j.'s) and K. (still in her p.j.'s) is heating up a pop tart, I happened to glance out the window and see a strange vehicle in our driveway.

Only my brain isn't really processing this information as quickly as it should, because it wasn't until I saw a strange man walking up the steps to the back porch that it reconnected all the connectors and started firing, "Man, Man, Man!" followed by "Run away, run away, run away!"

I yelped "Man!" and K. and I flew out of the room. But not before the stranger saw us.

It was M., dropping off some milk they had just bought at the farmer's market.

You know, our friend M.

Someone we shouldn't run away from, except we were still in our nightwear.

Ack. Can I ever not look like an idiot?

Luckily, he's a good sport and when I saw him later in the day and explained why we ran away from him, he understood.

I think.
The Man and I had to pick up Mom today. She was visiting my SIL last week and today was meet halfway day and get Mom.

While we were waiting for them at the appointed McD.'s, I saw a field of wildflowers (okay, weeds) next door and wandered over to snap a few pics.


But they're so pretty, aren't they?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caramel Apple Dessert

It was my turn for snack tonight at knitting class tonight. Knitting class is at 6:00 p.m. I found out at about 4:00 p.m., on my way out the door to a haircut appointment.


How could this have snuck up on me? Oh yeah, I wasn't at knitting last week because I had a cold. Or the flu. Whatever it was kept me in bed, or on the couch, or nestled into my rocking chair for three days. So I didn't go to knitting. And didn't get a reminder that it was my turn for snack next week.

Good thing I emailed everyone this morning and asked, "Who's got snack tonight?"

They thought I was joking.

I had to come up with a snack I could prepare in about fifteen minutes since that was all the time I had by the time I got home.

I remembered this yummy fall recipe from a friend.

So easy. So fast. So yummy.

Caramel Apple Dessert

3 Gala apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese
1- 16 oz. tub of T. Marzetti's Caramel Apple Dip
Granola, maybe a cup or so

Soften the cream cheese and spread it into the bottom of a serving dish. Layer the chopped apples on top of the cream cheese. Spread the caramel apple dip over the apples. Cover the dip with the granola.

Serve room temperature so the cream cheese stays soft.

*I use granola with raisins. I like this combination with the apples and caramel.

Serves about 8.

Sorry for the crummy picture. I only had my point and shoot with me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ranting and Raving

Thank you, Mr. Rude Man, for letting that door close in my face as I was walking into the polling place today.

I hate that.

Totally putting aside chivalry and men holding doors open for women (which is so over, I don't even remember this happening recently), what about common courtesy and basic decency?

Don't you glance behind you when you walk through a door to see if there's someone there? I saw him turn a bit, so he must have sensed me coming up behind him. And there was highly reflective glass on the doors. For Pete's sake, I could see his face clearly.

How did he miss me?

Oh, I get it. I'm not young. I'm not twenty. I'm not a model.

I'm invisible.

Well, I'm not going to let him ruin my day. I'm going home to watch Hawaii 5-O again.

This was a good TV show.

Really good.

I used to sneak out of my bedroom and sit at the end of the hallway peeking down into the living room to watch this show. When one of my parents would get up from their chair, I scurried back into my bedroom and jumped into bed so they wouldn't know I was up.

Oops, the cat is out of the bag. Good thing my dad doesn't read my blog. Then he'd know I wasn't the sweet, obedient child he always thought I was.

But I really loved this show. I wanted to marry Steve McGarrett. Not Jack Lord, just Steve McGarrett.

I was nine.

Guess what? LOVE the new one even more.

If you haven't seen it, you can catch it on Monday nights on CBS at 10:00 pm. At least, that's where I found it last night. The characters are fantastic together, the banter made me laugh out loud, and there was enough shoot 'em up action to satisfy my nineteen year old son.

Of course, I'm a married woman now and can't marry Steve McGarrett.


That was a big sigh of relief from the Man. I think.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Word a Week Project

So P. and I were skyping last week - don't I sound so hip and with it...look at me throwing around words like skyping - and talking photography stuff and I kind of bullied her into doing her own pic a day project.

She's such a good photographer with a fantastic, artistic eye that it's a downright shame for her not to do a project like this. And share it with the rest of us.

Hint, hint, P.

Anyway, after I semi-talked her into trying it, Really, just take at least one picture every day. You don't have to do anything with them, just take them.

Yeah, right. Like I'm going to let her get away with not sharing them.

Uh-uh. No way, no how is she NOT sharing these photos.

Er, oops, did I say that in my outside voice? If you're reading this, P., just joshin' with you. Really, you don' t HAVE to share them. But if you wanted to, the world would be a prettier place for it.

Anyway, to take the long way around the barn and make a short story long, I had an idea for another photo project as soon as we stopped skyping. And this one we can do together.

We're doing a word a week project. We pick one word for the week, try to take pictures defining this word and we'll post our best shot on Mondays.

She agreed to do it.

So here's the word for the week : HELPING



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Family Reunion

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.
-- George Moore

We had a marvelous, I say, a simply marvelous, day for our family reunion on Saturday. Bright, sunny, blue skies with little puffy white sheep clouds bobbing along the horizon. Seagulls overhead, waves crashing below us and kids laughing all around us made for a simply marvelous day.

Do you think we had a good time?

My mom's family has a reunion every year. My middle sissy started it about ten years ago and we've kept it going every year. We all take turns hosting it, sometimes at someone's home and sometimes at a location near their home.

This year was my cousin S. and his wife L.'s turn to host. So we jumped in the car and headed to Gloucester.

Er. I mean Glawstah, for all you Bostonians. I forget you don't have the letter r in your alphabet.
This year there were 23 of us. Some couldn't make it because of other commitments, like college and barbershop quartet shows. But the 23 of us that were there had some fun.

We brought grills, and salads, and appetizers, and drinks, and desserts, and games, and lots of happy-ness at the thought of being outside on such a marvelous fall day.

Just a little crisp ZING to the air, sweatshirts were definitely welcome as the sun started to go down.

The seagulls got very friendly when they realized we were full of food at our picnic tables. My aunt J. remembered a story about my mom -

Your mom and I took C. (sissy) to Rockport and had a snack on the beach. Your mom decided to feed the seagulls. And she was having a good time until they started to fly in from everywhere! She looked at me and said, "Gee, maybe I shouldn't have fed them." Then we ran away."

I love hearing stories about my mom.

That's what reunions are for.

Telling family stories.

Remembering those who have gone on before us.
Lots of wish making going on.

I blew on one too. I hope my wish comes true.
Thanks, sissy, for starting this reunion stuff. It's a good thing.

We cannot destroy kindred: our chains stretch a little sometimes, but they never break. ~Marquise de Sévigné

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Firemen's Fair and Foggy Mornings

Okay. I'm working on mastering the Mac format. Obviously it's taking me a little while since I haven't had time to blog lately.

I finally found something I don't like about the Mac - iPhoto. It's stinks at photo management. I definitely need something else to do this.

My photos are all over the place. Where, I'm not quite sure. They seem to be sorted by date but not easy to find when I'm trying to open in CS5 or upload to blogger.

Blech. I don't like iPhoto.

But I do like my kids in the pic above. This was their birthday present to me. A photo shoot. I played around with it in Photoshop a little bit, trying to give it a nostalgic look.

Meh. I'm going to keep playing.

Of course, I have to learn Photoshop better. But that's a story for another day.

Our local fire department has a fair and a parade every fall.

The Man and I walked around for an hour or so at the end of the evening while waiting for K. and her friend to finish riding the rides and eating the fried dough and hanging with their friends. We ran into another friend and hung out with him for a while, commiserating with one another over the things we do for our children.

Like go to fairs and eat fried dough.

It's a rough life.

The next day was the parade.

And since it happened to be my birthday, I like to think there was a parade for my birthday. Everyone should have a parade for their birthday, don't you think?

There were about a million fire engines in the parade from all over the state. And about a million firemen and firewomen marching. It was a great chance to publicly thank these people for their very needed service.

K. had to march, too. She's in color guard with the high school band. She was an absolute wreck about dropping her flag. I was a wreck about her dropping her costume. The pants were a tad big in the waist. I had visions of her twirling away and her pants slowly sliding down to her ankles.

Whew. That didn't happen. She brought safety pins. What a clever girl.

And she didn't drop her flag.

I'm a sucker for leather carrying things, like this pail hanging off the back end of a very old fire engine. Wouldn't you love to have one of these pails?


I'm sensing a tag sale hunt coming up.

Totally random, and having nothing to do with the firemen's fair and parade, was the surreal fog this morning.

Miz PG and I were on our way to the cemetery to walk and I kept stopping the car to take pictures. She laughed and said I was sabotaging our walk. We got there. Eventually.

But I carried my small pocket camera with me the whole time.

You never know what's going to appear out of the fog.

Two more friends out for a morning walk!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Doorstep Surprises

Look what I found on my doorstep yesterday. My new camera bag.

Oh my. I love this bag.

I wanted a bag that didn't shout "tourist" when I'm walking around NYC being a tourist. This bag definitely does not look like a camera bag. But inside, that's another story. It's all about the camera. Lots of padded compartments and places for all kinds of things. I can fit four lenses, a flash, my camera, my lens cleaning stuff, and I still have tons of room left over for handbag stuff too.

It really is the cat's meow. But don't tell J., the dog, I said that. He's ignoring me already. He doesn't need more ammunition to be affronted. See him in those pictures? He won't even look at me. He knows when I'm taking pictures and purposely turns his head. I think the kids have been talking to him.
And that lining. That gorgeous lining. It reminds me of fabric Anthropologie would use in their nifty bags. I'm trying to figure out how to walk around with the lining showing but then my stuff falls out.

Rats. That's self-defeating.

I guess it will have to be my little secret. And now yours. So if you see me walking around with my bag, you'll know what the lining looks like.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh, boy, I am so sucked into Photoshop land. I've used Elements before but now I'm trying to learn CS5.


That's some powerful photo editing software, as well as a bunch of other stuff I've never even heard of.


Oh well, might as well jump in and test the waters.

So I was playing around with a picture I took last week at a local laundromat. I posted a color washed version of it a few days ago. Tonight I tried some other things and came out with the version above.

I kind of like it.

I think I'm going to have a gallery wrap done from Adorama. I saw these on my friend G.'s blog and fell in love with them.

I'm into the retro look right now. I think I'm trying to re-live my childhood. I'm looking for re-runs of Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley on television.

And the Waltons. I loved that show. It's late, I'm rambling, time to go to bed.

Good night, John-boy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Apple of My Eye

Here's K. being reflected in our new computer. The old one gave up the ghost, kicked the bucket, went to the big p.c. playground in the sky. I had to restart it three times on Sunday. Three times in about 30 minutes. I think that's a bit much, don't you?

Our poor old computer was 14 years old. I think that's about 1568 years in computer life. The Apple guy couldn't believe it when I told him.

We had the Geek Squad out four times the last time it quit on us. They ended up wiping the hard drive and reinstalling everything, er, rather I had to reinstall everything but the operating system. I didn't want to go through that again. Because of a stinky, messy virus.

Yup, the virus did us in. Froze us out completely. Big red flashing box screaming "WARNING" every few seconds or so. Blech. Made me want to toss my cookies. So, when it started freezing up again, despite the bajillion pieces of anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-everything we had on it, I decided to go Apple.

I really wanted anti-virus protection for the iMac. The Apple guy looked at me quizzically, like I was speaking a foreign language. Apparently, Apples don't get viruses.

Gulp. Really? No anti-virus software needed?

Okay. But I'm really not sure about this.

So, I'm skipping along in the land of Apple. It's a narrow path right now, until I get comfortable with the environment, but I think it's going to be wonderful.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Random Thoughts and Apple Crisp

The Man and I took a walk around the block tonight.

Crisper, cooler air makes me want to move more. Hot, sticky, humid air makes me want to lie on the couch, in front of a fan, and sleep. We've had a summer of hot, sticky, humid days and I am ready to move on.

I can't wait for fall this year.
The apples are ready and I'm opening my cookbooks. It's time to start up the oven. Geesh, I sound so prairie woman-ish. Start up the oven? All I do is push a button, for Pete's sake.

I've always used this recipe from Susan Branch. This page in the cookbook is splattered with apple juice and bits of brown sugar. It's very, very, very lip-smacking delicious. I make it as many times as I can until I can't fit into my jeans anymore. Then I stop.

Apple Crisp
(from Susan Branch's Heart of the Home)

About 4 medium, peeled, sliced, tart apples (Granny Smith)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup softened butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a square baking pan. Place the apple slices in pan. Mix remaining ingredients and sprinkle over apples. Bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown.
Trying out my new circular polarizer filter. Check out how blue the sky is and how red the barn is.

I love this filter. My photography instructor said I would.
Another possible location for senior photos. Big wooden staircase leading up to some gorgeous stained glass windows at the landing before the stairs split on both sides and go up another flight.

I think K. is going to have the most number of senior photos EVER.

But I'm hoping all this detective work pays off and I can use these locations for paying customers.

Just building my portfolio right now and K. is my victim subject.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beautiful Girl

First day of school.

Books to be covered. Friends in all her classes. Upperclassman.

These are all good things.
I remember that first day of school excitement.

Fresh starts. Endless possibilities. New crushes.

Anything could happen. And if often did.
I love this picture. I see the the woman she's going to become.

Her seriousness about her task. Her playful smile. Her patient indulgence as I snap away.

All grown up now. Well, sort of. We've still got her for a couple more years.

But they're going fast.
What a beautiful young woman.

And she's all mine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The summer of sweet sixteen

Seven sweet sixteen parties in two weeks. That's what the end of our summer has been like. That is a totally ridiculous number of parties.

K. has a much better social life than I do. But that's okay. Seven parties in two weeks would do me in. I can't be out that much. I'm old, for Pete's sake. Well, not really, but it feels that way by ten o'clock at night.

She's had a great time. But the party's over now. School starts tomorrow. Whew. Time to get off the merry-go-round and back to work. Or as my dad used to say, "You better buckle down this year."

I don't even know what that meant. So I don't think I ever did it.
K. had one book to read all summer. That's it.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A pretty decent classic, out of all the junk good things, they make you read in high school.

All summer, I tell you. And she starts it on Sunday. School starts on Thursday. Needless to say, there were some raised voices in my house when I found she hadn't even started the book yet. And no, K., the preface doesn't really count.
So I leave for work on Tuesday morning and K. informs me she's on page 36. In two days, she's read 36 pages. Oooh, boy, this is going to get ugly.

36 pages?!, I might have shouted.

Mooooooom, I'll get it done, was the response.


Off to work I go, throwing the book onto her bed at 8:30 am and telling her to start reading right now, missy, if you want to go to that pool party tonight.
At 4:00 pm, I call her.

What page are you on? I ask.

Um, I'm almost done with it, she mumbles.

Really? So what page are you on? I ask again.

Moooom, I have to go. I have to get ready for my meeting tonight and then the party. She tries to rush me off the phone.

But I've been around the block a time or two and there is NO way I'm letting her off the phone until I have an answer to my question.

WHAT PAGE ARE YOU ON? Said in my very firm, no-nonsense you-better-answer-this-question-right-now-young-lady-if-you-know-what's-good-for-you voice.

Gulp. Page 42, she squeaks out.

Dead silence. Then I ask very softly, Six pages? You've read six pages in seven and a half hours?

You know I'm a slow reader, Mom. Don't worry, I'll have it finished.

Slow reader? Slow reader? This is the girl who read Breaking Dawn in two days, gosh Pete. She's not a slow reader.

So K. didn't get to go to the pool party. It was rough but it had to be done. And you know what? She's got that book finished tonight.

That's my girl.
These photos are possibilities for a senior high school photo shoot. Well, not the laundromat. I just liked that picture. What do you think?