Racing Stripes

We are having the convertible re-painted and checked out its progress at the garage.

They essentially disassemble the car, sand down the pieces, paint them, apply two coats of clear coat before reassembling. When it is done, it will look better than it did when it was new.

With Stripes of Light

I like the stripes of created by the lights running along the ceiling.

DSC_9448.jpg

When we get this car back, I pity the person who makes the first ding or scratch. I'm going to stay far away from it!

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Mosaic Monday - Rube Goldberg Machine and Competition

We spent Saturday morning with my son's 5th grade class at a Rube Goldberg competition. If you aren't familiar with the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine, it is a complex device with numerous steps which performs a simple task. If you played the Mousetrap board game, you've assembled a Rube Goldberg-type machine.

My son's class has been working on this machine for over a month and all the hard work of designing, testing, re-designing, re-testing, writing a technical report, designing brochures, T-shirts, and posters culminated in the local competition where they competed against 5 other machines.

The purpose - create a machine to open the cover and the first page of a book. The machine must also be designed around a theme, complete with a backstory.

Our class decided on a Medieval theme and built it as a large Castle, complete with moat, dragon, princess and brave prince. The machine itself used ramps, dominos, levers, a pendulum and a mouse trap to open the book and turn the page.

The Rube Goldberg Competition

Will Be Knocked Down

Aligning Up

We were pleased that the machine worked during the competition and the team took first place! They advance to a regional competition in two weeks.

Today's mosaic is linked to Mary at Mosaic Monday She has beautiful spring hyacinths featured today.

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Rube Goldberg Competition

We spent all Saturday morning with Brian's 5th grade class at a Rube Goldberg competition. If you aren't familiar with the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine, it is a complex device with numerous steps which performs a simple task. If you played the Mousetrap board game, you've assembled a Rube Goldberg-type machine.

My son's class has been working on this machine for over a month and all the hard work of designing, testing, re-designing, re-testing, writing a technical report, designing brochures, T-shirts, and posters culminated in the local competition where they competed against 5 other machines.

The purpose - create a machine to open the cover and the first page of a book. The machine must also be designed around a theme, complete with a backstory.

Our class decided on a Medieval theme and built it as a large Castle, complete with moat, dragon, princess and brave prince. The machine itself used ramps, dominos, levers, a pendulum and a mouse trap to open the book and turn the page.

Steps 3, 4, 5, 6

Setting Up the Machine

Steps 1 and 2

The competition included a Junk Wars theme:
Junk Yard Competition

And Alice in Wonderland:
Alice In Wonderland Theme
The remaining competitors: the Illini team, The Beach Team and The Jungle Team.

Here the kids are setting up right before their performance and judging:
Set up for Judging

The coolest part of the project - everyone in the class participated in the presentation. That's 24 kids to manage and herd!

Here's a quick clip of the machine in action - it goes fast, so pay attention.


The best part? The machine worked during the competition and our team won first place! Now they advance to the Regional competition in two weeks.

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After the Run

After the run.... I am out of breath
After the run.... my heart pounds
After the run.... I drip with sweat
After the run.... I feel accomplished
After the run.... I feel strong
After the run.... the endorphins kick in
And it was all worth it

After 7 Miles

Today, I am linking up to Paper Heart Camera's self portrait challenge, whose theme is nourish. I can't think of a better way to nourish my body and soul than with a long run.

Photography love...

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Snow Again

After a bit of spring-like weather, a blast of winter re-emerged last night, giving us several fresh inches of snow.

Fresh Snow

I pulled out the fisheye adapter for these shots - trying to distort the snow as much as I can!

Patio Pattern

Even Sammy wasn't happy with the snow:
Sniff the Air

The good thing - it's wet and the temperatures aren't too low. I'm hoping this will be the last Blast of Winter.

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Camera Phone Friday - Blast of Snow

As I wind down for the weekend, I thought I would start a new Friday series - Camera Phone Fridays - something easy and fun to start the weekend. When Friday rolls around, I don't want to spend a lot of time downloading / processing / uploading /linking and all that stuff related to getting a photo on to the blog. That's why I generally don't post anything on Fridays!

By using my camera phone (in my case, a 3G iPhone, really old by most camera phone standards) and various camera phone apps, I can easily capture something and have it uploaded to flickr, ready to be linked here.

I use the Hipstamatic and Instagram apps the most, and through this series, I plan to check out some others.

Today's pictures:
Snow blasted
Proof that winter is still with us, we got blasted with wet snow that stuck to everything. Pretty, yes. A welcome sight, no. Processed using Instagram's Hefe filter.

Cylinder
A lonely gas cylinder on the racks at work. Processed using Instagram's X-Pro filter

So I'll be here on Fridays with a new camera phone picture. If you care to join me, just add your link in the comments. TGIF!

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5th Grade Choral Concert

The first of several "lasts" as we enter the second half of the school year and Brian's final months in elementary school. Tonight - the last choral concert - a look at the history of black inspired music, from spiritual, to jazz, Motown and Hip Hop.

See - they are moving their hands around (singing It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got that Swing).
Ain't Mean a Thing If You Ain't Got that Swing
Except for Brian. That boy - he didn't even try to perform.

Friends George, Drew and Matthew are all smiles. Yes, they all sang and moved their arms:
Classmates

Oh well, I'll always remember this concert as the one where Brian just stood there...

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Team Up Thursday - Cloudy With a Chance of......

What does that theme mean to you? My first thoughts turned to the sky and what kind of weather we might get (unfortunately, more SNOW is in the forecast tonight - ugghhh!).

Lee was thinking about the Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, so she sent me a picture of some yummy veggies. I didn't think they would match the sky photo I took in the morning, so I substituted some chocolate, going for an "opposites" feel to today's pairing.

Team Up Thursday - Chance of Veggies and Candy

[Normally I don't change the photo planned in the diptych, but I felt this pairing matched better and really, there's no right or wrong on how we approach creative venture, wacky themes and all!]

Do you want to Team up? Check out Megan's or Melody's blogs to get the scoop. And check out the other Teams in the Flickr Group.

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IR Treatment

When I upgraded my trusty D70 back in 2009, I considered converting it to an IR (infrared) camera. I never did it, and now with the advancements in post processing, IR effects can be mimicked with Lightroom or PhotoShop.

IR Treatment

Still, the prospect of creating the effect directly in the camera interests me, so who knows, one of these days I may send my camera into Life Pixel.

Any thoughts out there on IR photography?

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Back To Italy - Portofino

It's President's Day and we are lucky to have the day off. We slept in a bit, enjoyed lunch at the sushi restaurant and settled in for an afternoon on the couch because it's raining outside [not that I am complaining - I'm glad the rain isn't snow or ice].

I've actually spent most of the afternoon working on my Blurb Book from our Italy Trip and so I've been re-living the great times we had. And the beautiful houses, the azure water, the lush landscapes, the wine.....

Rows of Boats and Houses - Faded

Reminds Me of Hannah

Portofino Marina

Edited to add - the top photo was edited using the Pioneer Woman's Soft and Faded Action for PSE. The other two may have been enhanced a bit using her Boost Action.

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Into the Great Unknown

The question, "Oh, My, what have we gotten ourselves INTO?" crosses my mind quite frequently today. That, and "Are we really going to DO THIS?".

THIS:
Is Caesar In Our Future?

It looks like we are going to become horse owners. Yikes. Writing that out scares me to death. But look how happy she is:
With Caesar

The lesson barn Erica has been with for the last 5 years is closing and as a result, they are selling all the lesson horses and slowly ceasing operations. We learned of the news two Fridays ago, and since then, Erica has been researching what it would take to buy one of the horses. Her first choice, Casey, was sold in one day. Then she started looking for horses on the internet (something I wasn't comfortable with at all). Finally, she said she wanted Caesar, a gentle Appaloosa from the lesson barn. Better yet, a boarding stall became open at the boarding farm one mile from the lesson barn, where her friend will be boarding another one of the lesson horses. We checked it out yesterday and put a deposit down on the spot.

So I guess it is inevitable. We don't know what we've gotten ourselves into, but I'm sure it will be a great adventure.

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Making Crepes

I have been delinquent in several of my "cooking" themed posts - I took the pictures, but never created the actual posts.

So today, a little bit of catch up - our favorite "pancake" - crepes.

The recipe - (I have it memorized now)

3 Eggs
1 1/4 C Milk
1/4 C Melted Butter
Pinch of salt
1 C flour

Beat eggs together, add milk and melted butter. Mix in salt. Whisk in the flour. The batter will be thin.

The Batter

Heat up a skillet pan and when it is hot, add a thin layer of oil.

Pour about 1/4C of the batter on to the skillet, picking up the skillet and rotating it to spread the batter around the bottom of the pan in a thin layer.

Cook until the top of batter looks dry. Then flip the crepe over:
Poured Out

Yes, nice and golden on top. Wait until the steam stops coming out of the crepe, and it should be done.
The Edge

Serve with jelly, jam or even ricotta cheese mixed with the jam.
Crepe Condiment

Or plain, with confectioner's sugar sprinkled on top. This is the way my daughter likes it.
Folded

Yummy! And easier to make than you think!
Eaten

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50-50-50 Challenge and Mosaic Monday

Yesterday, I participated in a 50-50-50 Challenge.
The premise of the challenge - 50 Pictures, using a 50mm lens, on Day 50 of the year.
You guessed it - yesterday was Day 50 of this year.

I had been using my 50mm lens pretty exclusively until two weeks ago when I needed a lens with a little more reach. You know what happens when a lens goes on the camera - it tends to stay on the camera! So I pulled out the 50mm lens again.

As a matter of full disclosure, I actually only yielded 34 "decent" pictures yesterday. I actually grew a little weary of trying to figure out "what I would take a picture of next". I figure 34 pictures is fine.

For Mosaic Monday, I picked five pictures from the collection:
Mosiac Monday - Transitions
What started out as a chilly morning warmed up to a very nice, almost spring like day. Most of the snow that covered the area just a week ago has melted and small signs of spring are in the air.

To see the entire collection of photos I took for the 50-50-50 Challenge, here is the link to the Set on Flickr: To get a glimpse of the other participant's photos, you can also check out the 50-50-50 Flickr Group.


Mosaic Monday is Hosted by Mary at this Little Red House. You can check out the other mosaics there.

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Bring In the Railcars

Every 3 weeks or so, I am scheduled to go to work early to perform safety reviews of the jobs scheduled for the day. I find these reviews interesting because I get to see parts of the plant I normally don't see.

Friday, I was sent up to the top floor of one of our production units and was treated to a bird's eye view of the surrounding area.

Bring In the Railcars

Another beautiful morning on the prairie. Just a week ago, all this area was covered in snow and ice. With the warmer temperatures, the snow is just about gone.

Edited to add: this was the sunrise I viewed on the way into work for my early shift:
Sunrise

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Team Up Thursday - Books

It's Thursday and we're back with a diptych of Books.

When I think of Books, I automatically see a stack of thick books with titles embossed on the binding for everyone to see. We didn't get any of that this week!

Team Up Thursday - Books

I love how Lee elegantly featured one book in her picture, although The Kirtsy Book is a compilation of many mini-topics. So a stack of books in one big book.
And I arranged a stack of books, but not traditional ones - these are my violin music books, some from my childhood, some from my current violin studies, and three different editions of Beethoven's Romance in F Major. [my favorite piece when I was in high school]

On Thursday, Lee Curie and I create a diptych based on a theme. You can view the other great diptychs at the Team Up Thursday Flickr group.

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The Piano - Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The family piano is leaving our home and going south to my sister's house. We don't play it enough and my sister's boys are planning to take piano lessons.

I sat down and played it Tuesday afternoon. If only I had more time to practice.

The Piano

My sister will be receiving this classic book (it will be in the piano bench).
Book Collection

On Wednesday afternoon, the piano movers came, wrapped it up and took it away.
All Wrapped Up

Leaving a big hole in the former piano room.
Where The Piano Used to Be
I admit I miss the piano, but it will be used more at my sister's house.

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The Piano

We said goodbye to the grand piano today, its departure leaving a gaping, empty space in the former "Piano Room". But it's staying in the family, going to my sister's place in North Carolina, where it will be played more frequently than in our home.

Still, its presence will be missed, at least by me. I spent some time yesterday playing some old familiar pieces.

Favorite Beethoven Sonata

Keys

And who can forget the beginner book my youngest sister used when she was 5 years old. Yes, it's ragged and worn, but we still have it (and it's on its way to North Carolina with the rest of the music).

Beginner Book

Finally, a piano quote I found on the internet:

“One man gets nothing but discord out of a piano; another gets harmony. No one claims the piano is at fault. Life is about the same. The discord is there, and the harmony is there. Study to play it correctly, and it will give forth the beauty; play it falsely, and it will give forth the ugliness. Life is not at fault.”

I hope my sister's boys find the harmony in the piano.

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Colors of Love

I love hues of pink with white. And they are 50% off today at the local Walgreens.
Colors of Love

I told my co-worker Pieter that I would replenish the candy dispenser in his office. Now I have the appropriate goods!

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Saturday Morning

This is how we spent last Saturday morning, before Auntie Teresa arrived:

I woke up early to pick up Brian from the all-night lock in at church. The sunrise coincided with my drive out to church:
Sunrise

A lock in means minimal sleep for all involved and a morning nap:
Tired

I worked out at a Cage Fitness class and then hit the road for a nice run in the glistening snow. I tried out another portion of the trail in the neighborhood:
Mile 3
The local neighborhood association must take care of this trail because most of the sidewalks in town are still covered in snow and ice. I greatly appreciate it!

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Roses

A Pair

The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.

Happy Valentine's Day

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Special Visitor and Dinner

[A bit of a cross-post between this and my photography blog - sorry if you've read both posts]

I learned a week ago that my sister, Teresa, would be traveling to Chicago for work and planned to drive down to visit us! She arrived Saturday afternoon.

The photo taking started almost immediately.
Smile for the Camera

Brian took this picture, using my big camera.
Hanging Out
[Hand held at 1/40second exposure time! That's a steady hand!]

I planned to make pasta, but the kids suggested we try out the local sushi/fusion place.

We walked into the restaurant and were transported out of the midwest. We faced an industrial scene with waves of neon and pulsating music. Oh, and the obligatory fish tank in every Asian restaurant, but without the koi:
Neon Fish Tank

The wasabi is so pretty, piped into flowers:
What's For Dinner

We ordered three sushi rolls as an appetizer. I had to fend off the hungry masses for an additional 10 seconds to get this shot. They only gave me one try.
Three Out of Six
The carnivores also known as my family inhaled the three dishes in less than 2 minutes. Seriously. Poof! All gone.

So we did what any normal sushi loving group does - order more! We ended up consuming 6 sushi rolls between the 5 of us. Again, just as appetizers!

Because after the sushi came the main courses. Since it is a "fusion" type of restaurant, I ordered a very non-Asian duck dish.
The Main Course

Needless to say, we had lots of leftovers to enjoy for Sunday lunch.

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