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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Make it. Bake it.

Ready for the oven.

Wow - this week really got away from me. It went so fast, yet I feel like I've accomplished nothing.

Anyway, when we went to the craft store to pick up some felt for an Easter project, I spotted a display of stained glass kits for kids. Of all the crafts that have made a comeback over the last decade, two of my favorites really haven't made that "kitch to cool" transition:  latch hook and stained glass kits. I've mentioned before that I still love to do latch hooking, but I had completely forgotten about the stained glass kits. They were a big deal when I was growing up, and we made numerous ones that were then proudly displayed in the window pains of our front door. They were called "Makit Bakit." I remember we had a parrot, mushroom and a horse.

Making stained glass unicorn.

As soon as I saw it, I knew Lauren would want to make one. She handled the little glass pieces like a champ, and even used the tweezers to grab rogue pieces. Way to use those fine motor skills! Before you know it, she'll be performing open heart surgery. Hopefully she will remember to wash her hands first because I won't be in the operating room to remind her.

Stained glass unicorn.

Here's the finished product. Mr. Unicorn sure looks lonely hanging in his window by himself. I think we're going to have to make him some friends...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Memories of Spring.

 Purple muscari.

Just checked tomorrow's temps and saw lows in the 20's and highs in the 40's. That means back to wearing sweaters and boots for me.

So let's reminisce about spring. I found some muscari in our flowerbed that I had never seen there before. Could they perhaps be remnants from last year?

Don't bother me. I'm busy.

Caption:  Don't bother me. I'm busy.

Lauren and I have been working on some spring crafts, so to continue our spring theme, I'll share those once their finished.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Welcome, Spring.

Weeping cherry blossoms.

Hooray - it's time for my yearly spring entry! We've had such unseasonably warm weather that everything is in bloom now.

 White cherry blossoms.

I checked my photos from previous years, and we're about 10 days to 2 weeks ahead of schedule. I've taken similar photos of our weeping cherry tree at the tail end of March / beginning of April.

Sunlit fence post.

As a photographer, I can't tell you enough how nice it's been to have sunlight in the evenings!


Mark covets our neighbor's magnolia tree. It's already in full bloom. I sneaked across the street and took some photos of it.

Welcome spring.

And it wouldn't be spring without a photo of my favorite little wildflowers poking out happily from the grass. Mark was kind enough to save these for me when he was cutting the grass. I could have processed this one so it matched the others, but these really look their best in deep, vivid color.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Easy reading.

Easy reading.

Just had to share the love of my new Kindle. I adopted e-reading when Mark gave me the 1st generation iPad a couple of years ago for my birthday. At first, I didn't convert wholeheartedly. I'm a firm believer in buying used books. I love going to book sales and finding recent releases for a buck, but I hate paying cover prices for books. E-books are much cheaper than their hard copy counterparts, but still aren't really cost effective, especially when you factor in how easy it is to impulse buy with just a click of a button. On the other hand, I have to consider the fact that I no longer have to struggle with where to store all my books, so that just might be worth the extra expense.

Anyway, I really enjoy reading outside during the warm months, but it's difficult on the iPad because of the glare. The recent unseasonably warm weather turned my thoughts to reading in the en plein air, so I decided to get a Kindle. Lauren is now reading chapter books, so I also justified the purchase with the thought that she could use it too. In fact, a couple of months ago, I promised that I would buy her one of her own if she read 100 books (She's made it to 50 so far), but for now, she's content to use this one. Luckily, I found a barely used one on eBay last week for a steal. I still love my iPad, but the weight and the size of the Kindle makes it perfect for reading.

Looking out at the big, big world.

And here's a bonus photo of Kitty Coconut, just because.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Girl Scout Week Day 7: The Great Outdoors

 Leaf rubbings.

Yes, I realize that we skipped a day. Day 6 was "Friends and Family," but what I had planned fell through. I'm sure we'll figure out something to make up for it after the fact. After all, the Girl Scout Law begins with "I will do my best," and not "I will absolutely do under ant circumstance." ;)

Since it was warm enough to be a summer day, today's challenge was a snap. First, Lauren and I gathered leaves and tree bark from the yard and did some leaf rubbings.

 Planters full of pansies

Later in the day, Mark wanted to visit the nursery. It's so odd to have such warm weather and not have any green in sight! So it was a nice to see these planters filled with pansies.

 Pansies as far as the eye can see.

 They were really bursting with color!

 Purple pansy.

And that concludes Girl Scout Week 2012. Our troop has plenty of activities planned, so I'll be sharing more Girl Scout adventures in the coming months.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Girl Scout Week Day 5: Innovative and Savvy.

 Leprechaun trap.

Today we killed two birds with one stone. Lauren had a school assignment to build a leprechaun trap which also fit into the Girl Scout Week theme of innovation. She decorated the box with rainbows and pots of gold while Daddy helped her assemble it.

 In my bed.

It's been awhile since we've heard from Kitty Coconut. She's been with us for over a month now and has really settled into her home. She spends most of her time during the day in Lauren's room, but in the evening she likes to explore the house. Her favorite things are drinking water from the tub faucet and sitting on your chest.

Window seat.

Today's challenge was "a nice place to sit." I'll say...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Girl Scout Week Day 4: Embrace Health and Safety

I'm gonna let it shine.

This is probably not the type of photo you would expect for today's theme. Lauren has been outside running around with her friends since we arrived home, so we haven't had a chance to formally "embrace health and safety." However, I can assure you that she completed at least 20 minutes of exercise which was one of the suggested activities.

As for me, I guess I always wear my seat belt. Especially when riding in a convertible.

(Actually, this photo was for the daily challenge. The topic was "sparkling." I had something completely different in mind, but it didn't work out. I even made a special trip to the store to get the prop that I needed. I will just have to save it for another time. 

However, all was not lost! I figured out how to make my 50mm lens produce a flare. So cool!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Girl Scout Week Day 3: Explore the World.

 Ooo...look at it!

For today's activity, we decided to do a science project. Mark got into the act and brought home some dry ice so that we could study its properties.

Dry Ice Happy Fun Time!

Lauren got a big kick out of it and asked if we could have dry ice happy fun time everyday.

 Marcus vs. Dry Ice

Marcus was not sure what to think of it...

Going in for a better look.

...but curiosity got the better of him, like it usually does.

 Past Daisy's bedtime.

It was past Daisy's bedtime, so she really wasn't impressed...

 Suspicious of the ballon.

...even though you can use it to blow up balloons! 

I also did some experimenting on my own with my camera lenses. Today's challenge was "words."

 There's no place like...

Here I used a 50mm telephoto lens...

 Where thou art - that -

...and here I used my new 11-16mm wide angle lens. I think I had it set to 11mm. There's a bit of a learning curve with wide angle lenses. When used effectively, they can take some really breathtaking shots, so I'm going to keep practicing with it as much as I can.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Girl Scout Week Day 2: Live By the Girl Scout Law

 Girl Scouts 100th Birthday:  Manuals and guides.

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

One hundred years ago today, Juliette Gordon Low held the very first Girl Scout meeting in Savannah, Georgia. At that first gathering, the girls were taught the Girl Scout Laws (although slightly different than what we follow today), how to tie knots, and some of the requirements of the Tenderfoot badge. They played a game of tennis and enjoyed a snack. By the following week, 108 girls had registered as members.

By 1918, there were 8,400 Girl Scouts and 1,314 officers registered.

By 1921, there were 88,000 Girl Scouts and 7,350 officers registered.

In 2012, there are 3.2 million Girl Scouts registered.

To say Juliette, or Daisy as her friends called her, knew a good thing when she saw it, is an understatement. Her accomplishment is so far reaching, it's really hard to fathom. Today, Girl Scouts as an organization is fighting to remain relevant in a culture where girls have so many choices, but the irony of it is that those choices are available to girls in part because of the success of Girl Scouts.

 Girl Scouts 100th Birthday:  Camping gear.

Our Service Unit, the Shaler Area Girl Scouts, assembled an awesome display of Girl Scout memorabilia at our local library. Here's some vintage camping gear.

Girl Scouts 100th Birthday:  Sit upon.

This one goes out to Mel C - SIT-UPON!!!

Girl Scouts 100th Birthday:  Brownie uniform.

Here's my favorite - check out those uniforms back in 1965. I WOULD TOTALLY WEAR THE LEADER UNIFORMS! I might have to track one down in time for Halloween. And isn't the Brownie uniform adorable? I so wish they still wore the beanies (They are still available through the Girl Scout store, but I've never actually seen a scout wearing one). In fact, Lauren has already deemed her Daisy tunic uncool and wants a Brownie sash ASAP. Thankfully, she'll be bridging to Brownies during the summer, so she'll only have to endure her current uniform for a few more months. How fast they learn...

Lastly, I wanted to share an article that appeared in our local paper a few weeks back that features some of the wonderful ladies in our Service Unit. We are very fortunate to have access to their knowledge and experience. Judy Becki, who is featured in the article, was instrumental in helping my co-leader and I start up our troop last year. We couldn't have done it without her.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Girl Scout Week Day 1: Girl Scout Sunday

 Happy 100th Birthday Girl Scouts!

Today marks the beginning of the annual Girl Scout Week. This year is extra special because Girl Scouts are celebrating their 100th birthday. Ever since the 25 Days of Christmas, I've been wanting to do another photo project, so what a better way to celebrate!

At our last meeting, I challenged my troop to do an activity each day that shows the spirit of Girl Scouting. Since almost the beginning, scouts have participated in day-of-the week program activities, like homemaking, community service, health and safety. The themes have changed over the years, but the spirit has remained the same. If a scout completes at least one activity each day, they'll earn a special "Happy Birthday Girl Scouts!" patch.

The first day of Girl Scout Week always begins with Girl Scout Sunday, which focuses is faith and duty to serve others. Lauren chose to go through her huge library of books and pick out ones to donate and give to her cousins Noah and Jacob. We're also planning to make a get well card for our neighbor who was among the injured when a man opened fire in the lobby of Western Psychiatric Institute on Friday. Thankfully, she's expected to recover.

Lots more to come tomorrow and the rest of the week!

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Classic line-up.

Can you believe it's March already? Next week at this time, we'll even be turning the clocks ahead! This winter was practically painless! I'm already beginning to get spring fever and spent a lot of time this week planning activities for the next 6 months. Baseball games, Broadway shows, soccer, birthday parties, parades, camping trips - so much going on!

For today's challenge, I chose "classic" as the topic. I had a really hard time settling on a concept that was just right, so I ended up with three photos. As a side note, I had planned to take a shot of my beloved eight track player, but to my horror and dismay, I could not find any of my 8 tracks. You see, I am a control freak when it comes to stuff. I can tell you the location of anything within our house at anytime. For example, say you needed a button that featured Jon Bon Jovi and Ritchie Sambora. I could produce one for you in minutes because I know that my jean jacket button collection from high school is sitting in a decorative keepsake box inside the closet of our spare room.

Anyway, my 8 tracks were not in the drawer where they had been stored for years, and I have no recollection of where I put them. I couldn't have possibly tossed them out after saving them all these years, but I don't have so much as even a vague idea where they are. And I'm very disconcerted by that. This must be what a psychics feel like when they lose the sight. Hopefully, they will turn up someday because you never know when I'm going to want to listen to some Seals and Croft or Juice Newton.

Moving on to Plan B. I had the idea to recreate Bruce Springsteen's classic "Born in the USA" pose. In order to make this happen, I had to find a model. The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Me: Are you in a good mood, or a bad mood?

Mark: Why?

Me: Because I want to know if now would be a good time to ask you if I can take a picture of your butt.

Working class uniform.

I think he only conceded because I was really twitchy after the 8-track incident.

Classic duel between good and evil.

 And lastly, here is the classic duel between good and evil, as depicted by classic Star Wars figures.