Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Through the Macro Lens::Through the Keyhole

I took a picture of Steve looking at me through the keyhole (I live in a very old house with very cool keyholes :) The keyhole isn't as pronounced as I would have liked, but it is still a cool effect.

After seeing it, Jared and Matt both said at separate times, "That should be on the cover of a book." Maybe Steve should write the book that this pic is a cover for :)

Anyway, I plan on trying this effect again with another camera lens. I'll be sure to post any cool results. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

More with the Macro Lens::Portraits

I made a new blog header. I was going for "fun"; I created "busy", instead. Life, and especially Christmas, can be so like that, don't you think?! I might try for "simple", later. :)

Like I mentioned yesterday, Steve's friend Russ let me borrow his macro lens. I had heard that you can use a macro lens as a portrait lens too, so yesterday I tried that out:

I think it does a nice job! I like how the person's face stays in focus, but the stuff behind magically melts into a backdrop. I plan on playing with it some more today :)

How about you? Have you got anything fun planned for the day?

I hope that you have a terrific Monday, and really, do something nice for yourself! After such a long weekend, (for my American friends, anyway) getting back into routine might just be painful. Have some way to reward yourself :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Playing with Macros::The Cat

Steve borrowed a macro lens from a friend (thanks Russ!) for me to play with. He brought it home last night, so this morning I got up bright and early and took a few pics of cheerios, the cat, and a plant. The cheerios and the plant pics didn't turn out; I'll have to play some more with them, but I really liked a few that I took of the cat:

I'm off to try to get us to the church on time. Have a wonderfully restful day today :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Around the House

I have avoided "speaking" much on my blog as of late, because many of the voices in my head that are trying to get out are those of anger, fear, anxiety, and occasionally despair. I worry that what I will write will come out wrong and need to be defended, or perhaps it will be misunderstood altogether.

Things are not rosy at my house or in my mind. I am struggling with the idea that my brother Bill has stage 4 liver failure. He is struggling with it too. And neither of us - and the doctors aren't saying - are sure what it means to his life expectancy. We are looking for hope. We are seeking out a liver clinic that will take his insurance and provide us with information about whether he is a candidate for a liver transplant; I'll call a second clinic on Monday.

In the midst of all of the appointments and fear has come the Holiday Season. It has hit me recently that for 3 months out of the year we celebrate: family, home, friends, plenty, life, birth of Christ, excitement of Santa, wiping slates clean & starting again. A whirlwind of emotions come regularly with this season. Typically it has been fun, excitement, love, gratitude. This year, there are some others that are peppering it that are less fun, but just as real and present.

This year, I have missed my mom. She loved the holidays! Last year we went to her nursing home and ate Thanksgiving dinner with her. In every year since I got married at 19, I have invited my mom to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner (barring the years that I lived out of state - all 6 of them) and Santa has always left her stocking here for her. When she couldn't visit at our home, we'd take dinners & gifts to her. It is a tradition that I'm sorely missing this year.

This year, as I was cooking and preparing, I remembered that the first Thanksgiving I cooked in my home (at 19) my brother Bill and my mom were there. (As a side note: I hated cooking it and for Christmas we ate individual breast of chicken, stove top stuffing, and instant mashed potatoes. It took me a full year to get over it and try again. :)

Anyway, those are a few of the thoughts tumbling around inside of my head.

I wasn't going to write them and give them a voice, but after reading my blog book that Steve made for me a few years ago and seeing how great a resource it is for my family as journaling our journey, it needed to be said.

* * * * * * * * * * *

On a brighter note, I took some pics "around the house" last weekend that I haven't shared yet.

Last weekend it snowed while Aiden was here. When he woke up, we had him look out and see the snow. His reaction was exactly how I felt!!

Since it was cold and wet, I didn't want to go outside to take pics, instead I took pics of some things of interest inside the house :)

Thanksgiving decorations on top of a bookshelf in the living room:

Decorations on the other bookshelf in the living room. Most of the items here were gifts from friends and family:

As much as I complain about all of the projects that come with an older home, the arched doorways and other little things about this house really are so charming!

Today my sister & her husband and Steve & I are going to be working on the storage units that still house my mom's "stuff": various household items, pictures, and other memorabilia that she collected or saved and kept for us.

UPDATE: The one storage unit got completely cleaned out!! Yay for us! :)

I hope that you enjoy your weekend :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sunset at the Lake::November 23

This evening, Steve & I drove out to the lake. It was nice to walk and talk for awhile. Alone.

Yesterday was our 16th Wedding Anniversary. We didn't get to do much in the way of celebrating, since we were both feeling under the weather. And he had to work. Anyway, today he took the day off to go with Bill to his doctor's appt. I wasn't going to go, but I found it harder to stay home and wonder, so I went along. More about *that* later.

Anyway, back to the lake story. We walked around a bit and reminisced. It is nice to take a few quiet moments every now and then and remember the whens and whys and hows that made up the wedding in the first place.

And it is lots better, 16 years later, to know that the whys have just gotten deeper and stronger.

And here are some of the sights that we saw: (each pic will enlarge if clicked)

I'm off to make pies. Check on the bird and hope it's defrosted. Make some stuffing. And do all of the other little things that will make tomorrow a little easier.

Have a yummy Thanksgiving, and like I was reminded by the SAHMsisters yeserday, gobble 'til ya wobble. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Something Old, Something New

My sister, some of our children, and I were cleaning out my mom's storage unit when I came across some blouses that she had loved and worn on special occasions when I was a young girl. I remember her standing and ironing them... and I think even scorching one as she was given some unexpected news from a brother once... It is funny how a "thing" can bring back so many memories.

Anyway, I wanted to keep them, but not just put them away in a drawer somewhere to take out and remember her, then I remembered wallhangings that SouleMama & my friend April have made, and after calling April and asking her how she made hers, I made these:

And hung them up in the bathroom as a group:

I want to make a few smaller ones with the smaller designs on the shirts and fill in the big spaces with them.

It is a nice way to remember my mom :)

They are super easy to make, and though I don't have pics for a tutorial, I'll just verbally tell you what I did.

1) get an embroidery hoop. You can find them at craft stores.
2) put the material in the hoop (You loosen and tighten the hoop with the little screw thingy on it. I like to make that part the top of the decoration.)
3) tighten the screw so that the frame is tight against your material.
4) gently pull the material taut.
5) cut the material around the hoop, leaving about 1/4 inch extra all the way around.
6) using a hot glue gun, tack the material down on the inside of the hoop.
7) Voila! Finis!

You can hang them on straight pins nailed into the wall since they are so light. Enjoy!

Have a super terrific day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Birthday to Amber & Bill!! And a pic of Matt :)

Yesterday we celebrated Bill's (my oldest brother - he lives with us :) birthday. Since we never officially celebrated Amber's birthday, Bill thought it would be a good idea to combine the two. (And he isn't much for attention, so I think he liked the diversion, too ;)

I think their pictures are cute :) Since the pics were taken after dark, and the only light was the house lights (and the cake's candles. I love the soft glow it leaves on their faces :), the ISO had to be turned way up to 800 and the aperature was on about 4.5, if I remember right. The shutter speed was super slow, so it caused blurring if anything moved. How I love the pic of Bill looking at Amber! The blurring behind him and even Amber's own fuzziness makes it look like time stood still for Bill at that one moment, and even though the rest of us kept going, he was super focused on the moment. (you can see it better by clicking on the pic and enlarging it)

It is funny how different shots evoke different feelings and different stories. :)

This next pic was taken this morning of Matt:

He had come up to me to talk about something, and the lighting was amazing. It was another of those "hold still & let me grab my camera" moments. It makes me happy.:) (Thanks for letting me take a pic, Matt, even though you didn't really want me to -Doesn't he have GREAT eyes??)

Such a great family I have! I'm so thankful that the share their lives with me :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Small Moments...

We took Michael to see Santa last night. I love going to the local grocery's Holiday Open House, kind of a kick off to the holidays. No lines to see Santa is a great way to start off the busiest time of the year :)

And today, Amber read just about every board book in our house to Aiden. He was a happy boy :)

Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Talking Ourselves Down

This came from a journal entry I found from Sept 27, 2010:
I have instances where I feel like life is so out of control that it will never be better. That my house will never be as perfect as I want. That those endless projects will never be completed, that life as I know it at its worst is how it always is and always will be. Do you ever have those moments too?

Sometimes those moments are reminiscent of a person on top of a building threatening to jump. Obviously there life feels so out of control, so unmanageable, that only ending it all seems to be the fix. Instead of it being a physical jump, a physical ending it all, the lack of control sets off dominoes that lead us to the conclusion that things will never be better.

If left unchecked, these feelings will lead to depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, but instead, let’s figure out a way to make the unmanageable seem, and ultimately become, manageable.

One way is to write down the stressers, take the emotion out of them, and look at them very rationally. Then we can set priorities, attainable goals, and a schedule to help us attain order to the chaos.

Much of life is simply making order of chaos. When you organize files, clean a closet, or simply clean out a drawer, chaos is organized and we feel settled and calm.

Nothing is too big to achieve, even though it might seem that way in the beginning. One important thing to remember is that perfection is an illusion; let go of it. Don’t be afraid of failure, but just be happy with your best. As you simply do your best with what you’ve got, you’ll be amazed at how much you really can accomplish.
Have a super-great weekend!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Self Portrait in Snow

Well, kind of. I'm not much of a snow person, so I like to *look* at the snow without actually being in it :)

After the pic was taken, a load of snow fell off of the roof of the car.... and I had the window opened. So, I opened the car door and brushed the snow out... and more snow fell in. *I* can be the Three Stooges all by myself! I did finally get the snow all out... eventually. My idea of taking a cute picture in the snow without *being* in the snow backfired. :/

I hope that you have a warm & dry weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Pics of my Ghouls and Boys

I took pics of my kids and grandbaby on Halloween and thought I'd show you their scary (and adorable) little selves.

Early in the afternoon, Karen and I took Aiden, AKA: Tigger, out to do a photo shoot in his costume. After trying to take pics by the animals (which he LOVED, but rarely let us see his cute little face) and in the middle of leaves (which he didn't like at all) and failing, I got a brilliant idea: take him to the trampoline. After all, Tiggers bounce:

(view this as you would a slide show story. He was happy at first, got frustrated by his hat, managed to get it off and be so pleased with himself, we put it back on: FOILED AGAIN!, and then he played for a little bit with it on. :)

And the rest of the crew: (From left to right: Assassin's Creed character (Jared), Skeleton Pirate (Matthew), Skeleton Monster (Emily), Himself (Joshua), Rock Star (Karen))

And my cute little Punkin, Michael :)

I hope that you all had a wonderful Halloween, too! :)