Sunday, September 27, 2009

Money Fixing and Cutting a Check--Scrapfest Style

Quite late last Saturday night, approaching 3 am, my sisters and I started re-arranging and organizing our "stuff" from Scrapfest before our trips home. Look at this haul of Rina's!

We had one partial bottle of wine between the 3 of us that we couldn't exactly pack for the trip. And no sippy cups! So that may have contributed to our packing "efforts." There's a lot of chaos involved in Scrapfest, including figuring out who owes whom what. Not to worry---MaryAnn has a detailed print-out!

And since we were at Scrapfest and had plenty of tools at our disposal, and new-found skills,there was no problem cutting a check!

(Actually, I think Rina should consider challenging Vince-the ShamWow! Creep with her info-mercial skills! She's better than he is at product demonstration!)

Well, then Rina realized we could further put our new skills to use. As I've mentioned, I've been in "de-clutter mode" (except, of course, for the new acquisitions of junk and crap at Crapf. . I mean, Scrapfest). And I'd inadvertently tore up a $5 bill that was in an envelope in Brian's waste paper basket. It was in my pocket.
Rina effected a marvelous repair of the 3 pieces of the $5 bill, sticking the ends together with her new tape-roller, and matting it against a lovely grey background with an adorable checker-board pattern of barbed wire:

If only we'd had some glitter glue with us! But how much can one reasonably pack? Now, I should have no problem bringing this legal tender to the bank and getting a new $5 bill for Brian. Or maybe he should just try to spend it as is.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend Work

Unfortunately, weekends are not always the relaxing, blissful times that we hope for. This may not look scary to you. . .

. . . . but it is to me!

Don't you just hate it when your loved ones are up on a ladder? I personally would never paint what needed to be painted if it were up to me; I know my impatient self, and would most likely do myself in, incorrectly positioning the ladder, and fall off it and become a paraplegic at my first attempt. I think there should be safety harnesses on ladders, that you can attach to the chimney or something. I had to go inside. . . .
Maria asked if the butterfly photos were taken with the D300s. . . . No, the D40. I didn't want to take the new camera to Mall of America in case I crashed my car and wrecked the camera. (?) But now I'm trying to push myself to only use the D300s. . .
Dianna's birthday is tomorrow (our time; she's already 21, India time. But the India time shouldn't count, because she has really lived 21 years yet until about 11:30 am India time)! If you haven't yet, and want to, please take a moment and wish my little one a happy 21st birthday on her blog Dianna turning 21 in India. And if you haven't read her blog post yet about the encounter with the transgender person and cultural confusion, you're in for an intriguing read!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Butterflies and Mice: Mall of America

While at the Mall of America for Scrapfest, my sisters and I discovered that there is a butterfly display in the amusement park in the center of the mall. Well, we rushed over with our cameras, paid the $5 entrance fee (unlike the free display at Como Park), and saw monarchs. Unfortunately, the display is only licensed for monarchs right now, but in four weeks will be licensed to display more species.

Pretty little critters, aren't they? But apparently, MOA is inhabited by other critters as well. I noticed the worker gathering up a pile of dead monarchs and asked her if this was a butterfly graveyard. She told me that the mall has a mouse problem; they've discovered that the exhibit has these tasty treats, and she didn't much mind when the mice were cleaning up the dead butterflies for her. But now they seem to have learned that the butterflies are "easy pickings" and are now snacking on the live butterflies. She said it's kind of an expensive meal for the mice. (Someone should think about THAT before issuing the license for all those other species!)
She also said there's lots of mice in the mall, that come out at night. Ewwwwww!!!!! Think about that next time you put your feet, with sandals on, on the floor in the movie theatre inthe mall, in the dark!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our PhotoWalk at Como Park

Part of our Scrapfest weekend included a "PhotoWalk" at Como Park. The beauty here is just stunning, and, as a photographer, it's important to remember to Stay Calm and Breathe!

More of the stunning beauty:

I also discovered how utterly dependent on my GPS I am now! Strangely, I managed to pull the power socket out of my dashboard, and the Subaru dealer near the Mall of America quickly got me in, removed part of the dashboard, and replaced it! I didn't want to drive the Venza to Minneapolis until Doug manages to get the first ding in it.
Thanks for checking Dianna's blog yesterday. She turns 21 in India on September 27th, with only one other person in the world from her school with her. If you have a chance, please stop by her blog and wish her a happy birthday! My Sweet Daughter Celebrating her 21st Birthday all alone in India

Monday, September 21, 2009

4th Annual Scrapfest with the Fam!

I'm ba-a-ack! (Did you miss me?) I just got back last night from the 4th Annual Scrapfest with my sisters at Mall of America. Happily, this year, I did not manage to drench myself in gasoline and have to buy new clothes before I got there! (If you missed that post, just search "scrapfest" in the search bar in the upper left of this blog.)

Thought you might like to see the photo set-up for those "I was at Scrapfest" type photos. Each year, we get one, and you get a magazine with it; I always choose the photography magazine. This year, the line was quite small, so I asked the photographer to also take a shot with my camera, and she glanced at the tiny line, and willingly obliged:

And although we have a brother named "Bob", this is not OUR Bob, but SpongeBob. (Like, you might not know that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Some thoughts about this year's Scrapfest:

It's absolutely wonderful to get to spend this time with my sisters; where else can you stay up until 3 am, laughing hysterically?

Every year, the quality of Scrapfest deteriorates further. More and more, we're questioning paying for the Crop Around Town events: We could find a table to scrap at much less expensively than this, and the "gifts" in the drawings are truly the dregs of the scrapping world. It's pretty transparent that oddball little scrapping supplies that wouldn't even sell on the clearance racks are the "prizes" at the Cropping events. Why pay money to "win" this stuff that's destined for recycling or the thrift store; we couldn't even give it away at the Cropping event! (Maybe we should have snuck it into someone else's bag when they weren't looking!) We've decided to create our own version of Crop Around Town next year, and spend the money on supplies that we choose ourselves.

And combining Scrapbooking with our own version of a Photowalk just really adds to the pleasure of it all!

One other thing, if you're still with me. . . . it you want to read a most intriguing blog post of cross-cultural confusion, read Dianna's blog post. Dianna is doing a semester abroad program in India right now. 109 Days in India

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Cool to be Related to Artists!

I've been saving this shot, wanting to make it special, to wait until deep into winter when there's no hope of venturing outside, and using my external flash and Nikon 105mm macro lens. But I just wanted to play with both my new camera, the D300s, and an "old" lens, a 35mm lens that only focused manually on the D40. I really did not do manual focus well; once I found out I have the beginnings of cataracts, I decided to blame this for the difficulty!

But I really wanted to use the 35mm lens and I'm delighted that it works in auto-focus with the D300s.

My nephew, John, is impressively creative! He graduated in 2007 and gave out these as gifts at his graduation party. It's a lucky bamboo, amid an arrangement of rocks. But check out that pretty glass bead; he MADE it!!!!!!

I'm definitely going to photograph this again in the winter when hopefully I know more of what I'm doing!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sacreligious First Photos with the Nikon D300s

The Nikon D300s deserves more than this!--photos with a flash, shot in jpeg, of chaos, and SOOC!

But it was fun!

We're in the middle of windows, and I've been painting the trim, and Maria is SO right: "if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want some milk. . . "
After I painted the trim, I thought I might as well touch up the cabinets and. . . .

. . . and I'm exhausted! Also, I've been getting ready for the Great, the Grand, the Most Equisite. . . . Mall of America Scrapfest with two of my sisters. This usually involves a great deal of trying to figure out what stuff to bring with me in terms of scrapbook paper, tools, photos, etc. . .And then I get lost in the old, sweet, photos of my children and the early years of my and Doug's lives together. And then there's the wild Mexico photos of Brian and Dianna with me last May. . .

I haven't figured out how to do my usual shooting in Raw mode, and apparently my current ACR is not supported for the D300s (again, if you give a mouse a cookie!) . . . but I really like editing first in ACR, before photoshop, so I'll have to figure this out gradually.

I don't think I'll have time to learn much about the D300s for a week or so, although the Nikon digitutor does a nice job of explaining some of the features, and the D300s actually has a clearly written owners manual. I'm really excited about the 51 focal points and live view mode! And I played a little with the active D-lighting before painting the trim started calling my name again. Apparently there's even bracketing in D-lighting, as well as exposure bracketing, all things I kept hearing and reading about but would skip over, thinking, "well, the D40 doesn't have that."

Oh, and one other detail. The denture cleaner under the sink? It's not because I have dentures! It's because I use it to really get the toothpaste out of the little green shot glasses we use to hold everyone's toothbrushes, and keep them far away from each other so they don't co-mingle scandalously.

Friday, September 11, 2009

More Window Snafus . . . and a new arrival

Oops. Shouldn't there be a "Measure Twice; Cut Once" code for window installers? It's just really not a good thing when the measurements for the windows are a little off. 4 inches each!

In order to repair the kitchen windows (which had been mercilessly assaulted by the diabolical Cedar Waxwings), we had to replace the casing for the windows. Because of this, we had the rather new (2 years old) windows removed from the kitchen, and the plan was to put them in Doug's office. See the beautiful, new, kitchen windows! I'm excited that I'll be able to easily pull out the screen and photograph our yard, and no longer have the screen in the shots.

So far, so good. The office windows were then removed. . .

And the kitchen windows were 4" too big for the holes left in the office! While I was at work, Doug and the window installer decided that they had to do something (before the predicted rain tonight). So they decided to go to Lowes and pick up 2 more windows for the office, and put the former kitchen windows in Dianna's room!

And they dared to go where no man has ever gone before (not really)! They braved the hall to Dianna's room, the doorway, and managed to get one window into her room! The other kitchen window wouldn't fit in her 2nd window opening, either, so we have one homeless window now.

AND, at last, although expected this past Tuesday, my new camera arrived and I was able to pick it up at Best Buy an hour ago! The battery is now being charged up; I hope I can remember, or figure out, what kind of custom settings to use on it, and get the correct ACR files downloaded for this!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chaos Rains

. . . or reigns. I figured if it was going to look like this outside, I was just going to sit in my car awhile. . . .

. . . and wait it out. Besides, I'm a bit bummed out. I spent the labor day weekend decluttering (and more days besides that!)

. . . but this is what I came home to from work. The entry to my daughter's bedroom (it's not her fault; she's in India!)

And this is merely a tiny portion of the rest of the CHAOS in nearly every other room of the house.
OK, in all fairness, I have to tell you that we're having new windows installed (partly to repair the damage left by the Evil Cedar Waxwings), and it's only half-way completed. So my husband HAD to move his un-decluttered stuff that he's been promising to sort for most of the 20th century (and more) into areas that I had decluttered for hours and hours and hours and . . .

. . . . but I need to be patient. It'll get put back together. (And sorted threw. Or I'm throwing it out!!!!!!!)

And besides, my scrapbook stuff is still in clutter-state. (And my new camera that was suppose to be here on Tuesday hasn't come in yet. )

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hell's Kitchen & Hunter S. Thompson

These are a couple of photos from our visit to Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis back in August.
Duh! A light bulb went on during this visit; I'd posted before, separately in two posts, about Hell's kitchen and their delicious peanut butter, and about Hunter S. Thompson. And there was something hauntingly familiar about the artwork on the walls of Hell's Kitchen. . . .

This time, I read through the back of the menu and realized that the illustrator for Hunter Thompson did the art work for Hell's Kitchen!!! Uh, oh. Some of my worlds are merging together in most bizarre ways!

And this most creepy photo is actually that of a very charming, sweet, innocent-looking girl, in the bathroom of Hell's Kitchen---until you walk past it! It's actually a hollogram, and changes into this creepezoid. . . and it photographs! (I should have also photographed the sweet version, but how long can you hang out in a bathroom with a camera before you get in trouble??? In Minneapolis, no less.)

And speaking of cameras. . . exciting news! I've longed to move beyong the limitations of my D40, with 6.1 MP and 3 focal points. Recently I realized that my USAA credit card had been accumulating reward points. LOTS of reward points over the years! Best Buy had a 10% off coupon this past weekend. Tomorrow I should be heading to BB to pick up my new Nikon D300s! (I hope I eventually get brave enough to take it out of the box!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Is it Perverted to be in Love with your Geraniums?

Because I AM in love with them! Coming home from work, It's like a "kiss" from home as I walk up my front steps. I'm really glad I filled 3 long planters, and they're overflowing with these beauties right now! They're the Welcoming Committee! (along with Doug & Bonnie.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ugly Tomatoes, Beets & a Few Carrots at the Farmer's Market

Definitely not a relaxing weekend; we're deep into decluttering. . . but we did manage a quick visit to the Farmer's Market this morning.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gardening Goodness & My Salsa Taster

Doug grew these tomatoes, onions and cilantro in our garden. And we're actually getting to harvest them now! It looks like we're going to be over-flowing in tomatoes this year, and it's been a long wait before anything ripened! (I forgot to include the little green spicy peppers as well.)

These years, because of the fears of West Nile virus, and increased spraying for mosquitoes, we can actually venture into the yard without being airlifted off the ground by the flying beasts!
(I kid you not! Just ask my sister, MaryAnn, and her visit to us one July.)

And here's the salsa. . .

. . . and the wrinkle-shirted taster:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009