Saturday, September 3, 2011

Striped Gem

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i bought this jeweled looking piece of glass at A. C. Moore this past week hoping to take some totally cook shots with it. Let's just say I'm not super excited with what I was able to do. There are just too many imperfections in the glass and while it does make some cool distortions, it just doesn't sparkle. I cleaned this up with a few of The CoffeeShop Blog actions to smooth out any roughness and boost the color a bit and add a vignette to try to get the most out of this shot I could. At least i think the lines and color are pleasing.

Dinner was black beans, yellow rice, and chicken enchiladas:

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Yummy but I just took a rushed shot.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wet Hibiscus

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I have a flower water globe vase where you submerge a flower in water and it floats suspended in the water.  There is a plastic base within the black outer base at the bottom that has several holes in it so you can stick the stem(s) in the holes to hold the flower down.  You put the flower in upside down and then right the globe.  The plastic base might have uses outside of this vase too.  The flowers last in the water globe vase for several days looking quite fresh.

I'm not sure where you can buy these now, but I got mine originally at Gardner's Supply Company:

I haven't had great success in taking shots of flowers that are inside it, but the flowers sure are pretty when wet.

Yesterday I put a yellow hibiscus in the globe and took a few shots. I think I like this one the best since the stigmas have the water bubbles around it. I had to consult this page for Flower part diagrams and description to understand stamen vs. stigma:-)

The other two shots that I liked are:

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Hey, it's Friday and for us US folks it's a long weekend. TGIF! Well, I'm on call and the boys are away for the weekend but still!  I've got some fun planned anyway.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes

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Last night as a last minute idea, I decided we needed to do something with the russet potatoes I had.  Waa laa!  A quick Google search lead me to this recipe for au gratin potatoes.

Those that have cooked with me before know at least two things:
1. I always have helpers, and I love that!
2. I tend to deviate from the directions except when baking.  More is often better!

The kid were eager to get the potatoes ready.  I think this shot puts a whole new meaning on the concept of a man and his potatoes!

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We had a boo boo.  Johnny put the cheese on the potatoes without melting.  No problem.  Just put everything in the pot, melt, and then put everything in the baking dish.  I used bag of shredded fiesta cheese blend.  I think medium cheddar might be a better choice.  Add a little Italian bread crumbs on top and more grated cheese if you like.  I can also see where fried onions might be a good choice over the thinly sliced raw onions.  I think you could add squash or some other sliced veggie too.  Give it a try sometime and let me know what you think and how you change it up.

We served ours with country style steak:-)

Now what I want to know is what else can the boys and I core/peel/slice with our new Pampered Chef tool?!?

The Globe Is My World

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I stopped by The Garden Hut yesterday to buy some sunflower seeds and to take a few pictures.  I didn't have much time, but I picked 3 or 4 subjects to focus on and came away with a few shots that I liked.

I should have taken a shot of the whole mobile...silly me.  Basically, you are seeing one end of it balanced on a pole with something equally heavy on the other side.  It can spin in a circle kindof like the outstretched arms of a dancer.  It's pretty.  I saw the reflection of the flowers in it and moved around with the camera trying to get the best view possible.

I've doctored this quite a bit from the original:

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There's an Orton filter, an enhanced lens flare courtesy of Deviant Art brushes, some color adjustments and cloning to remove the parking lot light posts. A Color Burn brush was my main method of getting rid of the hazy part of the reflection by making just that area darker.

I've been trying to take a good shot of these flags all summer:

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I think this is the best one so far...

I also liked these flowers:

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And the top of this rustic garden bench:

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Back at home, this female summer tanager is often at my feeders and birdbath:

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What a treat!  This is the first year I've seen these guys in my yard and near my feeders.

And, this blue jay was standing pretty proud too:

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I wonder what photo ops will turn up today:-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Red Romance

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I fumbled back through my recent galleries in search of something not a butterfly and not a morning glory and not zipped up with vibrant color to post. That was a challenge... This is from a couple of weeks ago. I just, and I mean JUST, darkened the shadows, tilted it a smidge, and cropped to 8X10.

Yesterday I was still feeling quite vibrant and made this:

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I liked how the two side views of the wings combined to make one larger open winged looking butterfly. That and the in your face color;-) I was on a roll with the Heat Map 2.0 filter in Picnik.

We were at Chick-fil-A last night for family night again. We ran into another family from the elementary school that we met at open house last week. The family has a child in Joey's class and in Johnny's class, and the boys were delighted. The cow tried to put Johnny in the trash can again:

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and I got this nice shot of Joey and his friend:

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Funky Glory

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This is in PSE 7 with the original fixed layer and a metal texture layer on top and the metal texture layer as a Difference layer.

I took the original of this shot a week or so ago and always intended to come back and try to do something more with it.  Here's a fixed up but close to the original shot where I cropped to 8X10 and cloned out a bit of misc. greenery near the bottom:

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I liked that cleaner view but it didn't grab me, so I started playing around.  Besides the funky green 70s version inspired by listening to The Delfonics - Didn't I (Blow Your Mind):

I also produced a few other versions.  This one has a Timeless quality I think:

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And here's what I envision as a bold and hip print ad style:

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And even a gritty almost dirty view:

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Even an artsy sketch style view:

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With just a few minutes and a little creativity, you can take one photo and produce several versions each with it's own expressive feeling and potential audience and purpose.  What mood are you in today?  Me, I'm still singing to The Delfonics.

As a side note, I read last night that Nick Ashford of Ashford and Simpson passed away.  Very sad and a real loss to music.  Although you might not immediately know the name if you aren't a Motown fan, you know the tunes for sure!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail at Yates Mill

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I was so excited to find a lantana bush in the parking lot at Yates Mill that had a swallowtail on it. And, a very cooperative swallowtail I might add. I had several wide open wing shots to choose from and a couple of other poses that I really liked too.

Last night Joey and Johnny were looking over my shoulder, and Joey wanted to put some filters on one of the butterfly pictures and experiment. OK. Here's a collage showing the best side view and several different ways we processed it:

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Collage from Yates Mill:

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We also attended a pool birthday party for one of Johnny's classmates yesterday. Fun! Luke enjoyed Krispy Creme donuts instead of a birthday cake. Yum! Here's a collage of the best birthday boy shots that I got:

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It's not safe to invite me to your child's birthday party unless it's OK for me to take pictures:-)

Joey on the water slide:

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Cute Johnny smile:

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The boys got haircuts last night, so the next round of pics will show much shorter hair. I think I took off at least an inch!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Apple Crisp

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A month of so ago, I ordered the Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer from my friend Patricia who had a Pampered Chef party.  I'd always wanted one having seen one demoed in person years ago at another party. Although not inexpensive by any means, I decided that this was the party/year to get it.  As with many things, it takes me a bit to get the time to read about them and set them up.  But with hurricane Irene giving us yucky weather, yesterday seemed like the day to sort it out.  8 screws to set up the platform wasn't too bad and then watching a video on YouTube gave me a good demo on top of the hand written instructions on just how to 'make it work'.  I had two eager helpers ready to test the first apple.  Success!  Wow!  Ooooh  Aaaah!

Here's a video of Johnny with the first apple:

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And just to prove that boys and men of all ages love their gadgets:

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Hard to say what was more fun.  Turning the crank fast or watching the peel spaghetti get created or lifting the apple spirals and playing with them (clean hands of course).

A few things to note.  If you have a table that you can attach the apple peeler corer too, that may actually be better than buying the fancy base. As you can see in the video, Johnny had trouble holding the base still...trouble he would not have had on a table.

Besides peeling and coring, this things slices too.  The slices might be a tad thin for some pies, but worked just fine in my apple crisp.

I did thoroughly wash and dry the apples first.

Mushy apples don't work anywhere near as well.

Hungry for apple pie?  ;-)

Irene update:
Irene ended up going just far enough East of Raleigh to spare us too much trouble.  I have lots of large chunks of leaves down in my yard and a few small limbs.  When I walked Blaze, I started picking up.  We lost power twice but just for a few minutes so no impact short of startling the kids.  We did have a few gusts of wind that caused me to hold my breath, but nothing that had me white knuckled for any real amount of time.  We've seen much worse and my heart goes out to those who were truly affected by the storm.