306/365 - Halloween Eve

It was cold, but sunny. I finished Brian's mummy costume at 4:30, with 30 minutes to spare. But he wasn't too keen on the head wrapping. Drama ensued. We ended up taping the bottom part of his "mask" to the wrapping on top of his head. You know how long that scotch tape lasts? Not very long. Brian and George went down the street and back before Brian decided he wanted to "change" into another costume - he wanted to put a brown sack on his head! I said no and that was the end of the night.

I managed to capture a couple shots of the boys in their costumes, before the drama started:
Trio of Scary Boys

And the others were having a great time trick or treating:
Trick or Treat

We spent the rest of the night watching Coraline and Transformers.

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POTD - Just Say ARRGGH!

Normally, I try to post a SOOC shot on Saturdays, but with it being Halloween, I found it hard not to "play" with today's fun shots. Shooting at dusk also posed some challenges, with the dark costumes and setting sun. Adjustments were inevitable.

I almost didn't recognize my neighbor, Jeff. He even bonded one of his teeth with a gold overlay (sorry, no picture of that!):

Jeff Says Arrggg!

I applied a texture and Gradient layer.

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POTD - Record Rainfall

After the short glimpse of blue sky and sun yesterday morning, the clouds moved in and the raindrops fell. And pounded the ground. At over 8" of rain reported for the month of October, we are on track to surpass the wettest October on record.

This means water everywhere - in the fields, the drainage ditches, and the walkways:
Record Rainfall in October

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305/365 - Text Usage

So Erica's phone is now 2 weeks old, and I received the first bill, which outlined her usage the first 4 days she had it. Not one to burn up the phone minutes (9 minutes used), but get a look at her texting activity:

Text Usage

That's right - 1153 texts - in the first 4 days! Oh.... ehm.... geee!

That's why we got the unlimited texting.

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POTD - Two Exposures Blended

A common challenge with capturing the sky and earth - expose for the sky and the earth is too dark. Expose for the earth and the sky is blown. My overall post processing skills are basic to say the least - I don't own Photoshop or Lightroom.

Fortunately, I do have PSE 6 and access to the wealth of information that is the Internet and I was able to blend two exposures, using a tutorial from the Luminous Landscape.

The original exposure, exposed for the sky:
Original

I adjusted the exposure to +1.0EV using Nikon ViewNX (One of the many benefits of shooting in RAW):
Exposed for road

I followed the tutorial, using the Layer Mask approach. I had to introduce in a Layer Mask manually, using this video tutorial from Renee Pearson. Even with PSE, the technique was really easy.

The result of blending the two exposures:
Short Lived Blue Sky Blended

Then I played a bit by adding a radial gradient adjustment layer, with the linear burn blending mode.
Short Lived Blue Sky

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304/365 - Short Lived Blue Skies

I loved the look of the sky and clouds on the way to work. I felt optimistic that the rest of the day would full of sunshine. But the clouds and rains came. Luckily, I have a capture of the morning's sky.

Short Lived Blue Sky Blended

And the picture is a blended composite of two exposures - my first! Read more about how I did it on my Photography Blog.

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Wednesday Mornings - A Hint of Blue

I thought the sun would burn through the clouds to give us some blue sky today, but all we got was a tiny glimpse this morning.

A Little Blue Sky

I've started to post Morning-themed pictures on Wednesday. If you want to join me, just add a comment and link.

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303/365 - Essential Cooking Condiments

Another grey, dreary day here, so I thought I would take a picture of my cooking essentials - these are the sauces, oils and spices I use most frequently.

Essential Condiments

I'm actually missing several key items - Rice Vinegars (seasoned and unseasoned), Worcestershire sauce and Fish Sauce - so the bottles are [relatively] spread out.

My collection has changed over the years (Fish sauce and Chipotle Tabasco are new additions), so it will be interesting to see what my cupboard will hold next year. I know my old standbys will still be there - Kikkoman soy sauce, EVOO, Balsamic vinegar, just to name a few.

What does your Condiment /Spice Collection look like (I need another picture to capture the spices!).

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POTD - Concrete Bench [Black and White]

I'm attempting to get back on track with the 2Peas Photography themes, but this week's theme of Black and White seems so counter intuitive to the riot of color that Fall displays. But I do need to work on my B&W conversions, so here is tonight's attempt:

The original:
Concrete Bench

Converted using a preset in PSE, with two textures:
Concrete Bench B&W

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302/365 - Fallen Leaves

Not too interesting today - just the leaves that have fallen off the tree in front of my violin teacher's house. With the rain and wind, the leaves seem to be past their peak already. Really, too early.

Fallen

Leaves in the Grass

I really like how the leaves form a perfect circle around its tree trunk. This is especially prominent with younger trees planted by themselves. No picture, just an observation - I bet if you look for them, you'll see the circle of leaves, too.

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301/365 - Halloween Fun

The Halloween activities are gearing up - Brian has carved one pumpkin and started on another. Our lit pumpkin has made its way to the foyer, and we enjoyed our first batch of roasted pumpkin seeds tonight. We've been Boo'd twice and Boo'd our friend's house.

Halloween Fun

I think the fun is just beginning!

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Best Shot Monday - Sunday's Sunrise

A follow up to yesterday's Sunrise Barometer picture.

After catching a glimpse of the impending sunrise, I went outside and briskly walked to the outer edge of the subdivision (I knew I didn't have much time), where the main road and cornfields provide a less obstructed view of the magenta tinged sky.

I didn't walk fast enough, because this was taken about 10 yards from the main road, and I could tell by the light that the sun had already peeked out.
The Sun Peeks Out

Along the sidewalk, a few minutes later:
Just after the Sunrise

Join the others at Tracey Clark's Best Shot Monday.

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POTD - Sunrise Barometer

The bathroom window serves as early indicator of the impending sunrise. I could tell by the colors, this morning's would be beautiful:
Impending Sunrise

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300/365 - Mummy Costume Help

Brian wants to be a Mummy this year, and insisted that I "make" him a Mummy costume. Note - I do not like to sew. I think this is a trait passed down from my mother, because she hates sewing, too. I remember growing up and attempting to use the sewing machine - the bobbin thread would break constantly.

I do own a sewing machine. In fact, I wanted one and for my 26th birthday, Scott bought me a very nice Singer machine. I used it several times to make blankets, quilts, pillows, some window treatments (straight stitching, you know). I thought I would grow to like it. But sewing takes time and patience, (I'm short on the patience side), so I now accept that I am just not a seamstress type of person.

OK, back to the Mummy Costume - I bought a white T shirt and an off-white flat sheet. We ripped the flat sheet into strips and I am now wrapping and "stitching" it to the T shirt. I'll do the same with some white pants. Note that I am "stitching" by using this great invention for us non-sewers - Stitch Witch. My friend and talented seamstress, Sara, gave me the Stitch Witch. Isn't she great?

Mummy Costume Help

So far, I am pleased with the results. Of course, I'll have to take a picture of the finished product - I have until Saturday night!

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299/365 - Neighborhood Picnic

Back after a two year hiatus - our subdivision Fall picnic, this year with a DJ, smoked pulled pork, a fire pit and a porta potty! (These details are very important!).

You can't tell from the pictures, but the weather this morning had us wondering if the picnic was going to be canceled - whipping wind, remnant rain drops and COLD. But Lisa, the main organizer, sent out an email, indicating "The Picnic Will Go On" and offering up their garage as a warming shelter.

Fortunately, the skies cleared, the winds subsided and we were blessed with a gorgeous fall afternoon. Perfect for football, croquet and smores:
Pick up Football

Wicket and Ball

Smor's Time

Thank you, Lisa for planning such a great event!

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SOOC Saturday - Today's Run

I hit this road around the 3.5 mile mark. I love it because in the summer the trees keep me cool and in the fall I am treated with a gorgeous view. In the winter? Well, let's just say that the branches provide some interest, and generally, this leg is sheltered from that wicked prairie wind.

The View on My Saturday Run

[I didn't take the picture during my run - I went back an hour later - but the view was just as beautiful].

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298/365 - Ghost Train 2009

Our annual ride on the Ghost Train. Another cold, almost raining night, with lots of wind. We brought friends Mel, Kathleen and George with us.

We waited inside the snack tent before boarding the train:
Waiting for the Ghost Train

After the train ride, we walked through the Haunted Box Car.

Enter the Haunted Box Car

And I learned one of the limits of photography without using a flash. Even at ISO 3200, a picture taken basically in the dark is going to look like a grainy mess. But for tonight's activities, the grain and off-color works.

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POTD - Early Morning Work Day

I had to go into work early this morning, before sunrise. I don't get to see the plant lit up by the lights that often. Of course, this is mainly the parking lot, taken from the comfort (and dryness) of my car.

Early Morning

I applied a Gradient Map Fill layer and selectively erased some of the layer mask to let some of the color portions show through.

Another capture, this time with an Aperture of F22, Shutter speed of 5 seconds. I focused on the tall light post. Yeah, it's blurry, but I liked the bokeh caused by the lights' reflection on the rain-spotted window.
Early Morning Rain Bokeh

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Seesh - Mole/Mol Day


My husband forwarded an email from another co-worker, stating that today is Mole/Mol day, with the following information from The National Mole Day Foundation

Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 10^23), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry. Mole Day was created as a way to foster interest in chemistry. Schools throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Mole Day with various activities related to chemistry and/or moles.
For a given molecule, one mole is a mass (in grams) whose number is equal to the atomic mass of the molecule. For example, the water molecule has an atomic mass of 18, therefore one mole of water weighs 18 grams. An atom of neon has an atomic mass of 20, therefore one mole of neon weighs 20 grams. In general, one mole of any substance contains Avogadro's Number of molecules or atoms of that substance. This relationship was first discovered by Amadeo Avogadro (1776-1858) and he received credit for this after his death.


So, based on my geeky Chemistry background, I replied back to my dear hubby:

Mol day should really be held on June 2, and observed at 10:23 instead.

But I know that most schools are already out on June 2, so this is their way of making it relavent.
And in Europe, they probably think it should be held on the 6th of February.
And it should be Mol day, not Mole day. I think of the rodents when I see the word Mole.

I believe I have spent way too much time on this topic.....

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297/65 - A New Favorite

Toaster Strudel - that's the family's new favorite breakfast item, thanks to the sale at the grocery store last week.

Toaster Strudel Favorite

I bought a single package, which was scarfed up by Tuesday morning (because Toaster Strudel is not limited to breakfast - it serves as a tasty desert after dinner). And since Brian was home Tuesday due to an illness, I had to go out and buy two more packages (at the normal price, I might add).

The kids and Scott are addicted. I need to find them in bulk!

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POTD - Afternoon Illumination

The sun streams through the foyer window and into the Dining Room, where it illuminates the set of mosaic glass candles.

Illuminated Glass

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296/365 - Tae Kwon Do Testing

It's been several months since Brian has participated in Tae Kwon Do testing. He continues to attend classes twice a week, but due to vacation and other activities, hasn't met the requirements to test towards his next Black Belt ranking.

He should have tested yesterday with his class, but since he was sick, he tested with the advanced color belt class tonight. Here he is, the only red helmeted kid in a sea of black:
Lined Up for Testing in Color

Brian performed two Black Belt forms in front of the entire class and audience, solo:
Double Knife Hand Low

He makes me so proud!

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Wednesday Morning - Teapot

Cooler weather beckons the teapot around here. I don't get to enjoy tea often enough, as my mainstay is coffee. Somehow, this morning, it felt like a Tea day.

How About a Spot of Tea?

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POTD - Aluminum Broken Down

Some cool pieces of aluminum, after exposure to acid.

Aluminum Doesn't Mix with Acid

Don't try this at home, kids!

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295/365 - Little Buggers

I am sure everyone in Central Illinois will appreciate my post about the swarms of Asian beetles that have emerged as a result of the warm weather. They are crawling everywhere!
My friend (and back door neighbor), Kellie, started renovations on their house today. I thought - great - they get to work in nice weather. But when the workers removed their sliding glass door, Kellie informed me that all those bugs migrated inside. She ended up Dust-Busting them up. (yuck)

So, here is my artsy rendering of one of the guys crawling up the window screen. Yes, it looks like a lady bug. But it is not.
Little Buggers

In un-related events, Brian stayed home from school today due to a slight fever, sore throat and headache. I think he's fine now.

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294/365 - Indian Summer

What a contrast from last week - clear skies, bright sun and warm breezes. Indian Summer has arrived, and the kids took advantage of the nice weather to hang outside.

Erica caught some rays while reading:
Sun Bathing

The boys ran amok, catching bugs - they caught a "Huge Assassin Bug". I took their word for it.

Hannah chased after the buzzing lady bugs.

The kids opened up the windows, even though it was only 68degF outside. It felt so much warmer.
Open Windows

The great thing? This is just the start of several Indian Summer days. We are going to enjoy every bit of it!

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Best Shot Monday - Lovely Fall

I couldn't decide between the two pictures, so I am posting both

Underneath the canopy of changing leaves:
Under the Canopy

Yellow leaves from another tree in the parking lot - with leaves so yellow that it stuck out like a sore thumb and drew me to it.
Yellow Leaves

Check out the other Best Shot Monday Entries here, and share yours today.

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293/365 - Fall Glory

I went back to the soccer fields this afternoon, this time armed with my big camera. Today's ample sun and cloudless skies rendered today a quintessential Fall day.

Smells like Fall

The 20 minutes I spent among the trees did wonders for my mood and made me happy the rest of the day - there must be endorphins in those leaves!

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POTD - Red Leaves

Finally, a beautiful, sunny Fall day. I drove out to the local community college where the kids play soccer - plenty of trees around the parking lot.

Red Maple

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POTD - Pine Center

With the wind, it has been a challenge trying to capture decent pictures of the turning leaves. So I tried my hand at some pine bough centers. I figure if the stores have Christmas trees out for purchase already, I can take a picture of something that resembles a little bit of the impending holidays.

Pine Bough Center

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292/365 - Soccer and Fall Morning

No pictures of the soccer game today. I didn't bring my "real" camera because at 8:00, the day was shaping up as a repeat of the past 4 days - cloudy, cold and dreary. The sun came out around 8:45, giving us a little respite from the cold. Barely.
Spectators

At the half, Erica's team was down, 1-2. I decided to take a brisk walk around the fields to get warm and wished that I had my other camera. I took this picture of the just turning trees. Although it is blurry, I kind of like it because it looks old (like a blurry picture from the 80s).
Fall morning

Erica's team came back from their deficit to win the game 4-2! The girls were all muddy and wet, but happy they had won.

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291/365 - Ushering in a New Era

Of endless phone calls and numerous text messages.

Erica got her first cell phone today, after months and months of pleading. I was prepared to sign her up back in July, but we had an agreement that she reneged on, and the agreement stated that she would have to wait until the end of the first school semester, which ended today.

Erica knew the exact phone she wanted, so we visited the Verizon store and within 20 minutes, she was off, adding her friends to the contacts list. Once she initially texted her friends, the phone continued to buzz and beep as they all started texting her back. Goodness!

So here she is, "the last person in her class to get a cell phone", now a fully functional seventh grader.
Getting Aquainted

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Friday Fill-Ins for This Gloomy Friday

I don't think we've seen the sun since Monday. You'll notice that theme throughout today's Friday Fill-Ins.....

1. So are we going to get some sun soon? The clouds and rain are starting to take their toll!

2. The unknown is what's up ahead. Just be ready for the ride!

3. I love to sing and create beautiful music.

4. The gloomy weather has put me in mood of some sorts. I think I need to employ some retail therapy to perk me up.

5. I walk a fine line between organization and utter chaos. Yesterday’s Baby Blues comic strip illustrates our morning routine perfectly.
Typical Morning here, too

6. Being happy with what you have is the true elixir of life!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to our book club’s lively discussions, tomorrow my plans include soccer game watching and Sunday, I want to enjoy the day!

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290/365 - Fall Meds

It never fails - as soon as the weather turns cooler, my allergies and asthma kick up. During the summer months, the asthma is under control enough where I don't need take any prescription medication, but I had to call in my refill today.

Fall = Asthma Time

Another annual event - the migration of Rascal the cat from her chair to the top of the bed at night - she starts sleeping in the crook of my arm. I know that can't be good for my asthma, but I can't deny my fluffy cat.

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POTD - Persistent

With the lack of sun, cold temperatures, and shorter days, the signs of Fall are all around us. The leaves, tinged in hues of red, orange and yellow, float towards the ground. So imagine my surprise when I came across this blooming salvia in the garden today.

Persistent

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