Typing Test

I saw this at Lee and Sherry's blogs, thought I would compare my typing skills with theirs. (Lee tested at 65 and Sherry at 60)

Well, they rock compared to my measly 35 words / minute. I even took the test twice and ended up in the same ball park.....

35 words


Try it - it's fun and good practice!


6 Random Things

I've been tagged by Lee!

The Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you (Lee).
2. Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading).
3. List 6 random things about yourself.
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up!

OK, I had a complete "brain freeze" (maybe writer's block or 'random block') and since I work better with direction, I first looked up the definition of Random:

lacking any definite plan or order or purpose; governed by or depending on chance

I still wasn't getting any ideas, so I Googled "6 Random questions", and yes, there is a Blog that poses Random Questions. I think I can work with that......

1) What is your middle name? Before I got married, "Ann". When I got married, I changed it to my maiden name, "Chang".

2) What is the last song / album you downloaded? I don't normally download songs, but will if a CD version is not available. So the last stuff I downloaded was a collection of Sara Bareilles songs, the acoustic versions. (And it is great)

3) In your opinion, what is the best novel ever written? Wow, that's a hard one. If one considers it as such, the Bible(most of the OT stuff is really good novel material). Gee, I don't know! How about those Harry Potter books? Very creative. My daughter, Erica would answer "The Twilight Series". (She's jaded....)

4) If you had a girl baby tomorrow and you got to name her without any input from anyone else, what would you choose? I like the names Lauren and Erin.

5)Name one TV show that you hate. Just one?? Most reality shows on E! Serious garbage there.....

6) Do you like opera? Answering in a general sense, yes, as I consider opera to be a variation of classical music, which I do enjoy.

Whew, that was harder than I thought.
I'm going to tag.....Andrea, Sherry, Nadya, Lisa, Lita and Jayne!


Spooky Fun on the Ghost Train

Take a ride on the Monticello Ghost Train - if you dare....

We planned to ride the Ghost Train last night, timing things just right amongst the rain and the crowds. Two extra riders dared to join us on our perilous journey through Camp Creek Hollow and Cemetery Road - friends Kathleen and George.

Arriving a little early to catch the first ride, we milled around the concession area, taking in the cute ghost themed treats:

The First train rolls in:

While waiting, you can sense the anticipation of terror:

Which was warranted:

Once we boarded the train, the skies opened up and started to pour down rain, but we settled in our seats.

The conductor stops letting people into our car.

George doesn't look scared at all:

Who wrote that?

At the end of the ride, the girls agreed it was great, spooky fun:


Friday Fill Ins

I saw this at Lee's Blog, and it looked like fun.

1. Right now, I'm feeling happy that Friday evening is finally here, but disappointed that the shipment of Monin syrups I use in my coffee has been delayed until next week.
2. Right here, Right now is where I want to be. Live in the present, I say. (oh, I know why that popped in my head - they are song lyrics from the song from Jesus Jones)
3. How does one take those beautiful pictures I see on Flickr, pbase and dpreview? (oh, I know - lots of patience, time and PhotoShop....)
4. My daily routine and rhythm of the days keeps me on track.
5. Please don't track in mud from the outside! And Hannah the cat needs to stop clawing the couch!
6. My family fills me with joy. So does everyday beauty found in nature. If I can capture that beauty on my camera, even better.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to getting spooked on the Ghost Train, tomorrow my plans include picking out Halloween Costumes and Sunday, I want to relax, but I probably won't have time to.


Here Today, Gone before Halloween

Yes, I am referring that big pile of candy I was coerced into purchasing today.

Normally, I wait until the last possible moment to purchase the Halloween candy, because it has the tendency to "disappear" well before October 31st. Scott and the kids made a list of the candy they wanted. If I hadn't purchased the confections today, they would have gone out themselves (and paid more for the stuff).

Already tonight, I have used the promise of candy as a bribe to drink more milk. I have threatened to hide the candy because the kids are begging for more (I have hidden the treats effectively in the past, but they might turn the house upside down this year to find it).

My stance - if we run out before next Friday, Scott can make another candy run. I'm done.

Side notes - The KitKat assortment was a nice find - special flavors - double chocolate, white chocolate, halloween (orange and brown). Cool.

My faves - Almond Joys, Whoppers
Scott's faves - Charms Blow Pops, Butterfingers
Erica's faves - KitKats, Charms Blow Pops
Brian's faves - Reeses, KitKats

I hope it lasts for 10 days, but I also wouldn't bet money on it.


Niagara Falls Layout

I don't post layouts that often (in fact, this is a first), but Feeling Scrappy laid out a Challenge last Friday, so here is my layout from that challenge:

I think the bottom Left still needs "something". Like those cool Ghost letters, spelling out "FALLS" in big letters. I like the ones Lee used in her Engarde Layout. I may need to do some on-line shopping soon....

Edited to add the technical details:
Paper: CM Vintage Monochromatic Pack (blue), MME Bohemia Backyard (brown), CTMH Playful Flourishes stamps, White Daisy Pigment ink, CTMH Legendary Moments, Atomic Caps Alphabet.


12 on October 12

Whew, Sundays can be quite busy for us and today was no exception.

Breakfast consisted of Apple cider donuts from Curtis Orchard, a wonderful, local orchard. I could go on and on about my childhood memories of apple picking in the fall, but I am kind of tired now and really want to get this post completed...... When I purchased the donuts yesterday, they were piping hot - fresh off the donut fryer. They are still delicious this morning, especially with apple cider.

Sunday means church for us and today I help teach Brian's Sunday school class. We are covering the story of Sarah and Hagar from Genesis, Chapter 16 - you can see the beginning of the chapter here.

One of the activities during Sunday school was using glue and glitter to reveal a saying.

I know you can read the first word "Beer", but before you think "my gosh, what kind of church do you attend??", the whole phrase is "Beer Lahai Roi", translated to "the God who sees me". [Side funny here - when we asked the class if they knew what the words on the worksheet meant, one of the students (the Worship Minister's son) said "I know what ONE of the words is!" with great exuberance.]

After church, we have lunch and I drive Erica to the stables for her Sunday afternoon job of preparing horses for classes. In my rush, I forgot my camera.

I had several bills and kids' folders to go through, preparing for the coming week.

The weather is crazy - just too hot for mid-October. I hate to do it, but the air conditioning has been running the past two afternoons. Hopefully, it will cool off by Tuesday.

One of Scott's recent purchases - one of those mini basketball hoop games for the basement. He recently purged the basement of older bulky toys that the kids have outgrown(anyone need a play kitchen?) to make room for these more grown up toys. Scott's high score on the basketball hoop is 85 and he makes sure the others in the household know that fact. So Brian, along with friend W try their hand at breaking that record. Even teaming up, they didn't get close.

Mid October means it harvest time.

I'll confess - I took this picture yesterday, but I knew I wouldn't have time Sunday afternoon to bike out to the field. But it still looked the same today as it did yesterday....

I made a small batch of basil pesto as part of dinner. I still have two big plants in the garden, and with the hot temperatures, they are still growing. I expect next weekend I'll have to drag out the full size food processor and make enough pesto to last through next year.

The basil in the sink:

Ah, chopped with garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Yum.

Sunday evenings bring some weekly chores - cleaning out Peanut's cage, for example. Peanut is enjoying his fresh bedding.

Scott watched football in the afternoon, was happy to see the Colts win over the Ravens and now is settling down to watch New England and San Diego. It's not going so well for the Pats....

And after cleaning up dinner, getting the kids showered up and ready for bed, I enjoyed a nice little drink - just what I needed after my busy day.


Family Pictures

I dragged the family out to campus this evening to put them through the torture of family pictures. Of course, Erica didn't want to go. Brian just wanted to goof off. Typical family dynamics.

My original plan was to take pictures along the row of trees in the Arboretum, just as I done so last Friday. But I recalled there was a pond nestled by the Japan House, and thought that might be nice. The setting met all of Erica's requirements - not another person around to "watch" and cause her embarrassment. Brian enjoyed throwing stuff into the pond. Everyone was happy.

Just the pond and trees:

Some of the outtakes (testing fill flash settings and Brian sporting a goofy smile).

The final version, after I cloned out the "GEPeople" writing on Erica's T-shirt (I couldn't convince her to change into another T-shirt)

Family pictures - step one in the creation of this season's Holiday Cards (and probably the biggest hurdle to overcome).


Wordless Wednesday - From Despair.com

Shamelessly copying from Martha, some work related favorites from despair.com:


Feeling Scrappy? Check out their New Site!

Fellow Scrapper and Blogger, Jayne runs a wonderful Scrapbook education, inspiration and challenge site, Feeling Scrappy. They have revamped their site and I am looking forward to participating in some of the upcoming Challenges. Just what I need to keep motivated.

Here is the link to the new Feeling Scrappy Website. So check it out!

Feeling Scrappy


18 years old today!

I bought my first car 18 years ago today. Namely a copy cat of the popular Miata, my Mercury Capri has stood the test of time and is still with us, continuing to provide a fun ride with decent gas mileage.

Over her 18 years, "Cappy" (as named by Scott 18 years ago) has been to New York, West Virginia, Indiana and Illinois. She survived running over a deer while going 65 mph and being hit in the rear left panel by a truck.

After going into semi retirement in 1997 (the year Erica was born and the SUV was purchased) Cappy has stayed in such good condition because of the care Scott bestows upon her - he has fixed the headlights, replaced the cruise control servo motor and replaced the radiator. With the high gas prices, we drive her quite a bit during the spring, summer and fall months.

Today was no exception - a perfect day for a convertible ride.

Other than the peeling paint on the bumper, she looks pretty good for an 18 year old:

And the mileage:

So Happy Birthday to Cappy - we plan to keep you for several more years.


Which New Camera?

The D300?

Or the D90?

After 4 1/2 years with my trusty D70, I am feeling the inexorable pull towards a new DSLR camera body. It's down to the newly released D90 and the (almost) year old D300 - which one to choose?? This is a heavily discussed topic as witnessed on the dpreview.com discussion forums, and a constant topic between me and my friend Mark, who owns a D70s.

Here is a list of general advantages of the D300 over the D90:
- Better build quality and weather sealing
- Higher frames per second
- More focus points (51 vs 11)

A list of general advantages of the D90 over the D300:
- More lightweight, compact camera body
- HD video recording capability
- $500 less than the D300

As a part of my impromptu vacation day, I went to the Best Buy, fully expecting to put my hands on the D90. But I didn't expect that I would put my hands on the D300 - I was totally surprised they had a D300 on display. Heck, they even had a D700 on display (I didn't even pick it up - cannot afford to go there).

So, some comments after handling both cameras:

  • The D300 really isn't that much bigger or heavier than the D90. I am accustomed to big, heavy lenses which probably balance better on the D300 body.
  • The D90 felt a bit "plasticky" to me - perhaps because the grip isn't rubberized like my D70. It felt a little cheap.
  • I felt more at home with the camera controls on the D90 - they are similar to what is on the D70. The camera sales guy (who actually knew how to operate the camera) helped me with the D300 controls.
  • I wouldn't use the HD Video recording functionality on the D90, so that feature won't factor into my decision.
Before I walked into the store, I was leaning towards the D300....and after holding both cameras (they let me put my 24-70mm lens on the D300 body)....I am still leaning towards the D300. My main concern was the size and weight of the D300, and now I know that won't be an issue.

Now, to save up the $ for the darn thing (here's hoping that the prices continues to drop and that Nikon will offer up a Rebate just in time for the holidays......)


Impromptu Vacation Day

Back on Sept 12, I had planned to take a vacation day, as Scott was scheduled to play in golf outing and, heck, if he got to take the day off for something fun, I was going to also. But rainy weather forced the postponement of Scott's golf outing and we all went to work. I realized earlier this week that the golf outing was rescheduled to today. So yesterday I decided to take an impromptu vacation day.

My goal - visit the various scenic places I have read about, driven by, but never had the opportunity to stop and visit.
My first destination - the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden in Mahomet.

I bet this is fabulous when the water lilies are in bloom.

I liked the red bridge - most of the time, they are painted green or brown.

In addition to the large pond, there are several smaller water features nestled in the formal garden area:

Even though the summer plants are past their prime, many autumn plants are hitting their peak and the leaves are starting to turn.

Cool markings on a rock:

After a nice lunch at Panera, I drove to the Japan House / Arboretum / Hartley gardens on campus.

At the Japan house:

Rows of Aspens line the grounds of the arboretum:

I couldn't ask for a nicer day for my impromptu day off.



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