246/365 - The End of the Whipped Cream

What happens when you buy the whipped cream that comes in a can? Lots of whipped cream "shots" (you know what I am talking about), and an occasional mess.

End of the Whipped Cream

The mess occurred towards the end of the can, when just a tiny bit of the whipping cream remained in the container, and Brian, not leaning his head back far enough, let all the propellant out, with no accompanying whipping cream. Then all this un-whipped stuff came oozing out of the can. Fortunately, he was outside when this happened, so the mess was minimized. And I will think twice (no, three times) before buying another can of whipping cream. Because it always causes chaos.

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Best Shot Monday - Spanish Peaks

Taken from "Engagement Rock" along the Stonewall during our trip to Colorado. This was our last hike up Stonewall, and I forgot to download the picture until yesterday - it was a pleasant surprise.

If you look carefully, you can see our friends, Pete, Allison and their two children on another Stonewall rock (you may have to go to the full res version).

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Click here to see the other Best Shot Monday entries and have a great Monday!

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245/365 - Tainted Hairbrush

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My styling brush -I added a texture to make it look "tainted"

The kids decided it would be "fun" to put some "stuff" on the hairbrush I use to blow dry my hair with. They sprayed some Tag [you know - that body spray for men] on it, then glopped on some Dep gel and finally added a bit of shaving cream. The culprits spread on the gel and shaving cream in a way that I couldn't ascertain there was anything "wrong" with my brush.

Until I used it to dry / curl my hair. Which brought out all the scents of the gel, Tag and shaving cream. Then the heat of the hairdryer (I use the hottest setting) reacted with all that "stuff" to form what can only be described as a toxic burnt offgas. Something the EPA would have a problem with. Of course, the smell lingered in my hair all day long. Eww and double Eww.

I took action by cleaning the brush. No more residue. All is well again (until the kids get into something else).

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244/365 - Convertible Weather

Sunny, cotton ball clouds, low 70s. Perfect for driving the convertible, which I did - to the grocery store.

Convertible weather

I took the picture while stopped at a light by the County Market, blindly, with my iPhone.

Hoping for more days like this - the windows in the house are open, the cool breeze flowing through the rooms. Nothing better!

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POTD - Crop Circles? [shapes]

We are trying to determine the cause of the crop circle in my next door neighbor's yard. Freaky. And in reality, it's half on our lawn. It showed up while we were on vacation in Colorado.

Crop Circles?

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POTD - Veggie Still Life [shapes]

Veggies compliments of my co-workers.
I love the color and shape of eggplants. And I'm the only one in the family who will eat them, so I get to choose how to fix them. I'm thinking some Baba Ganoush. Yum.

Veggie Still Life

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243/365 - Hannah's Treat

The risk associated with serving fish for dinner - you never know what Hannah will do.
Tonight? Brian didn't eat all of his fish and the next thing we know, Hannah is up on the kitchen table, eating the Tilapia. The only other time she's done this was the time we served clam chowder.

Since she already "touched" the fish, we let her have some more.

Playing with the food
Why do they always play with the food first?

Just eat the fish
The constant sniffing.
We finally flaked the fish and she ate it.
No more special treats for Hannah - we don't want her to get any more spoiled!

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242/365 - Newest Book in the House

I read this one back in June for book club and it comes highly recommended. Erica needed several new books for her English and Language Arts class, so she is reading this one (even though I recommended it). I went out and bought it yesterday.

Great read

The best part? The sequel is due out on September 1st - that's next week. I am hoping an electronic version will be available for my Barnes and Noble Reader on my iPhone. Just because I want to read something current on it.

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POTD - Rock Lean-To [shapes]

The rocks form a triangle lean-to. The leaning rock features several petroglyphs.

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241/365 - Jury Duty, Days 2 - 4

Jury Duties
The handbook given to the Jury Pool on Monday - lots of good information in this little pamphlet and certainly qualifies as "reading material".

Day 2 summary - I spent 3 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon waiting. The 3 hours in the morning were worse than waiting in an airport - at least in an airport, people come and go, and there is stuff to buy. We waited in the holding room. I finished reading my magazines and started in on a book, but I grew tired of reading. In the afternoon, jury selection started for a 1st degree murder trial. You can imagine the seriousness of such a trial, so the jury selection progressed at a slow pace. I was one of the "lucky 7" whose number was never called, so I wasn't even considered for this jury. But I sat in the courtroom the entire afternoon.

Day 3 - I was a little smarter this morning and brought my laptop with me (yes, they allow them, although there is no internet connectivity) - I worked on photos from Colorado until we were called again for jury selection. This time, my number was called, I was asked several questions and I was accepted on a jury who would listen to a criminal case for "Armed Violence".

The trial started in the afternoon. I learned that "Armed violence" consisted of two separate charges - (1) possession of a control substance (drugs) while (2) carrying a weapon (a gun). We heard testimony from three police officers, a forensic chemist and the defendant. We were discharged for the day before closing arguments were made.

Day 4 - We resumed the trial with evidence submission and closing arguments. Without going into details, the defense argued that while the defendant admitted to possession of crack cocaine, the gun that was found on the jacket he was wearing was not his, nor did he "willingly possess" the gun. He had simply donned the jacket, using it as a blanket in the back seat of a car. Three of the jurors could not reconcile his claims, and struggled with the "willing possession" of the gun. And I could see their point. However, in reading the definition of the charges, "possession" of the firearm was not written. The definition clearly omitted "possession" - only "carrying a weapon" was written in the definition of the charges. With this information, the jury passed a "guilty" verdict.

This was my first jury service and I really gained an appreciation for the judges, the lawyers, the police, the court system and the overall judicial process. Nothing is ever 100% clear cut. Your best bet is to avoid getting into trouble in the first place, and this includes hanging out with the right crowd.

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POTD: Purple Flowers [shapes]

Round purple wildflowers in Colorado:
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240/365 - Soccer Practice

The girls' second soccer practice - Erica decided to start playing this fall, at the encouragement of her BFF, Kathleen. I hope she enjoys it and continues in future years.

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Practicing dribbling against Kathleen:
Foot work

She even looks like she is having a good time!

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Best Shot Monday - Hummingbird

We saw so many hummingbirds at during our stay in Colorado - the Ranch puts out several feeders around the Lodge and the little birds are not shy - they flit and buzz around your ears if you are close to the feeders.
They also fight with each other, claiming their territory around the feeders. We tried to explain to them that there was plenty of nectar for everyone and they could drink more if they didn't fight with each other.
They didn't listen.

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239/365 - Jury Duty, Day 1

I have been summoned to serve my civic duty - a week of potential jury duty. There's never a guarantee that I will actually serve on jury - it's all potential, a function of the cases being tried, the nature of the trials and the number of people in the jury pool. I guess the more precise description is I have been summoned to serve time in the Jury Pool.

All of the action occurs at the county courthouse:
Courthouse
This is a place where cell phones are banned and the Jury pool sits in a waiting room for many hours, waiting for a potential trial to need jurors.

I arrived at 9:30 and read every page, every inch of the current People Magazine (courtesy of Jill - what a lifesaver!). Around 10:00, we go through an orientation - where to park, what to wear, what to expect in the court room, what our juror number is (I'm number 21). At 10:30, a list of potential jurors is called out - these folks need to come back at 1:30. My number is on the list.

I come back and the smaller group is led upstairs to the court rooms. Jury selection starts - 12 random numbers are called and the perspective jurors are seated in the jury box. Each person is asked several questions (name, occupation, do you know any lawyers, policemen, have you been victim of a crime, etc) by the judge and the two lawyers. Either lawyer may dismiss a potential juror, and when this happens, another number is called to fill that spot and the process starts all over again.

My number was never called. I sat in the courtroom, and listened for the 2 hours it took to select the 12 jurors and 2 alternates. While interesting at first, the process does get a little bit repetitive and boring.

I get to go back tomorrow morning for more waiting. I need to make sure I bring more reading material.

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238/365 - Routine

A week has transpired since we got back from vacation, and it only now seems like we are back into the routine of "everyday" life. No traipsing out to buy school supplies, school clothes, soccer equipment, you know - all of those "once every year" events.

The fridge is finally re-stocked with food and I cooked a "real meal" (roast chicken and potatoes - yum!). Laundry is under control. We are ready for the upcoming week.

Hannah has resumed her routine as well - finding the most comfortable spot in the house - the clean laundry, of course!

Comfy Spot

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237/365 - Garage Sale

On any given Saturday, starting in April through October (except when the Illini have a home game), throngs of people participate in this activity called the garage sale. The process always proves to be entertaining - the wheeling and dealing, the people encountered, the things they buy (or don't buy).

Today's garage sale was no different - we had beautiful weather (cool, crisp and sunny) and large crowds. We sold the fish aquariums, the hamster cage, the Cozy Coupe and the play kitchen. I gave away the metal patio chairs.

Any given Saturday in summer

One man tried to bargain down one of Erica's jackets from the Gap. Only worn once, it was in perfect condition and I was asking $3. He wanted to pay $1. I said no. He kept on saying "one dollar", and I would reply "three". He got the picture and put it back. It later sold for $3.

As in previous years, Will ran the bake sale, selling cookies, brownies and lemonade. Henry helped out a bit (and Will did pay him for his services):
Bake sale Henry

A busy, yet fun day for all.

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POTD - Bar NI [ABCs]

The official brand of the Bar NI Ranch.

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236/365 - Garage Sale Rainbow

Weird title, I know. It's just that the rainbow appeared as we were setting up for tomorrow's neighborhood garage sale.
Garage sale Rainbow

Hopefully, that means we'll have a good crowd tomorrow - a crowd to pick through all of this stuff:
Garage sale plunder

Even the beloved kitchen set that the kids have outgrown (sniff):
Single pot

I'm always so sentimental setting up for garage sales. But I'm always so happy at the end of it, when everything is gone.

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235/365 - First Day of School

And where did the summer go? Perhaps we were fooled because July was so cool (and thoroughly enjoyable). Maybe we spent too many (is there such a thing?) weeks traveling about. All I know is the summer flew by and here are my kids, ready to take on another school year.

My 7th grader:
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And my "baby", now in the 4th grade:
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POTD - Signs [ABCs]

Two paths diverged in the woods. I took a picture of the sign.

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Really, we did hike up to the top of Bart's pass which can be accessed via either path.

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POTD - Can you see an "H"? [ABCs]

Passing through one of the vast meadows, the fence keeps the Bar NI horses somewhat contained (some still manage to jump the fences though). The two Spanish peaks can be seen in the far distance.

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234/365 - Storm Front

The last day of summer vacation and it rains.

This storm front passed through our area as I was taking Erica to horse riding lessons. Rather ominous looking, it dumped lots of rain before moving east. The horse stable even lost power during Erica's lesson.

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Forecast for the first day of school - sunny, of course.

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POTD - Appaloosa, Brook and Colorado [ABCs]

A is for Appaloosa.

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Sampson was the first horse we saw as we drove into the Bar NI Ranch. He looks like he's got some "attitude", but he is the sweetest, gentlest horse. Brian rode him all week long and misses him now that we are back home.

B is for Babbling Brook.
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Duling Stream winds through the mountain and down by the lodge, providing us with its musical babbling.

C is for Colorado.
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Our first visit to Colorado.

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On the Road [Landscapes]

We were on the road last week, visiting Colorado. One of my favorite "taken from the car" shots as we drove through Kansas:

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And that's not the typical corn we see in Illinois - it is a lot shorter, but it looks mature, as the stalks have tasseled.

Will post more landscapes as I sift through the big stack of photos I took last week.

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232/365 - Back to Reality - School Supplies

School starts on Thursday and we are so ill prepared. No supplies, no new clothes, no food in the house.

Today, we focused on the school supplies:
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231/365 - Travel and Momentos

Yesterday, we made it to Topeka, KS and found a nice Hampton Inn to stay the night (the kids love the Hampton Inn - they love the nice bathrooms, the great pool and the queen size beds with duvet covers). I managed to book the room while we were driving on I-70, using my highly functional iPhone (I was happy I had service again, after a week of being off-line).

Even in the comfort of the Hampton Inn, I couldn't help but compare the present scenery with the scenery from a mere 10 hours before - breathtaking mountains, unspoiled nature vs. the electronic billboard viewable from the hotel room, which toggled between ads for the car dealer, the realty company and a restaurant. Guess which I prefer?

We left Topeka early and arrived back home around 3pm, giving us enough time to get laundry started and order pizza for dinner.

The kids declared - "We miss Sampson" and I agreed that I missed the mountains and horses, but we had wonderful memories and momentos:
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230/365 - So Long, Farewell

As a last parting activity, we watched the horses come down from the meadow this morning. They came booking down the hill, and a couple horses bucked. I stationed myself near a big tree, and I hid behind it as one of the horses spotted me and ran in my direction. [human vs horse - the horse will win]

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Ben and Binet rounded up the horses this morning - we think they did a great job.
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I haven't dabbled that much in B&W and simply used a preset in PSE. The colored version showed some noise, but with the B&W, I thought it gave the picture an old fashioned feel. [now, to figure out how to convert it to sepia - that's my next trick]

We said goodbye to our gracious hosts - 090815DSC_1342_5x7
Teresa, Bob, Stephanie, Tiffany and Ben.

We drove away, leaving the Culebra range behind, onward through desolate Eastern Colorado and into Kansas.

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229/365 - Colorado Wildflowers and Family pictures

This morning brought more rain (it rained a little bit yesterday) and cloudy skies.
Erica and Scott still mounted up on the horses for a trail ride, Brian hung out in the Lodge and I went for a run in the soft rain - I took the loop from the Lodge, along the Stonewall, out to Rt 12 and around the main Ranch drive.

Along my run, I spotted several photo-ops. Once I completed the loop, I picked up my camera and set out again, this time stopping to take pictures.

Wildflowers:
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The entrance off Rt 12, with the Stonewall Gap in the background:
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Fence and grasses:
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After lunch, the skies cleared up so it was family picture time - I set up the tripod and self timer against the backdrop of the beautiful Stonewall and Spanish peak.
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And the requisite silly pose:
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Tomorrow we head back to Illinois. We had a great time here and hope to come back in future years.

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228/365 - Morning Hike

We've been instructed not to venture outside before the sunrise and after sunset due to the potential to encounter bears and mountain lions. But this morning, Teresa offered to take "whoever was willing to get up for a pre-dawn hike" up to Bart's Point. All the adults staying in the lodge got up at 5:45 for the opportunity to watch the sunrise while on the mountain.

It was well worth the early morning power hike:
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From this vantage point, you can see the stables below and over the Stonewall to the lake:
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A happy couple picture:
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The Lodge adults - Marta, Christine, Scott, Shirley, Pete and Allison
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Our group with Teresa (thanks to Marta for taking the picture):
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