Bokeh Christmas Tree

I found the heart bokeh filter I made last year - it was in one of my several camera gear "boxes", kind of my junk drawers for camera stuff I don't want to store in the big bag. But I found it nonetheless:

The Heart Filter

We placed the tree in a different spot this year and I couldn't fit the entire tree in thee frame without hitting a wall. So I used the reflection in the window instead to get this shot:

Bokeh Tree 2011

I would love to figure out how to make smaller bokeh orbs, but for now, this will do.

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The Rest of the Thanksgiving Weekend

It's tradition for our family to pick out the Christmas Tree the day after Thanksgiving. I guess that's officially "Black Friday", but we don't participate in the early morning "door buster deals" anymore. I used to get up at 5am to hit a couple stores, but I learned I didn't like the crowds or waiting in line. Plus, we pretty much do all of our shopping online.

So back to the tree - it always seems that the weather is nice and sunny and this year was no different. We always go to the same store and we normally pick out a Balsam Fir tree. This year, the kids wanted something different - a Scotch pine tree. I always take a picture at the store, with the chosen tree:

The Sun's Not in Their Eyes

So I can look back and see how much the kids have grown - here's the picture from 2008:
DSC_6815a

Once we pick out the tree, we wander around the store because there's so much pretty stuff to look at.
Pink Explosion

Blushed

Another tradition associated with our tree picking adventure is the tree almost falling off the top of the truck. It never fails - we have to stop two or three times on the journey home (a whopping 4 mile trip) to re-secure the tree. Well, this year hubby got smart and put the tree inside the truck instead.
New Tree Strategy - It Won't Fall Off The Car on the Way Home

So the tree is up and I hope to take some new "tree bokeh" photos in the coming weeks, like I did last year.

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In the Garden

I spent Thanksgiving afternoon cleaning up the yard - when the temperatures are above 50 degF, and you've stuffed yourself with turkey, it's good to get out and moving around.

I also found some nice things to photograph in the garden:

The thyme that has survived the recent frosts. I used some in today's meal. There's nothing better than fresh herbs.
Thyme

Sam, the Siamese, on the prowl.
Hunter Siamese cat
On the Prowl

He looks all intense, but he was chasing a leaf. Then he went inside and took a nap. Oh, to be a cat!
I hope you have a relaxing Saturday!

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Camera Phone Friday - Recital Hall

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of performing in a beautiful concert hall on campus.

Smith Hall #uiuc


Inside, on the large stage, the acoustics are so wonderful, I couldn't even imagine such a beautiful sound coming out of my instrument. I almost lost my place in the music as I became lost in the melody swirling around me.
The Stage is Set #uiuc #chambana


The details on the ceiling - reliefs of lyres, horns and other musical elements - designed specifically for the love of music.
Grand Hall #uiuc #architecture


I managed to play without getting too nervous - for this recital, I played Schubert's Violin Sonata, D 574 in A Major, Massenet's Meditation from Thais and the Bach Double Concerto, which was performed with a group.

Time to Play #violin

I hope I get to play there again.

Today's photos taken with my iPhone 4s.
life rearranged


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Thanksgiving Dinner

We eat Thanksgiving Dinner at 11:30am - it's something that Scott's family always did growing up, something we adopted in ours. Growing up in Massachusetts, we always had a High School football game to attend in the morning, so Thanksgiving Dinner was in the afternoon.

I like the 11:30am meal - we don't eat a large breakfast, are hungry for the Thanksgiving Feast. Then leftovers all afternoon.
The bonus this year - the kids didn't even wake until 11:00, so they got up and were hungry for turkey.

Popped and Ready to Eat Turkey Thanksgiving
I have a love/hate relationship with these pop up thingies - for many years, they never worked for me - dry turkey resulted. So I bought an instant read thermometer, and the things start popping - always about 20 minutes before I think they are supposed to pop. Once the turkey is done, it never fails - the kitchen erupts into chaos, the carefully planned timing out the window, the once clean sink fills with bowls, pot and pans.

But the food gets to the table
Carved Up

The cats circle the table, knowing they're going to get some special food.
Table Setting

But not before we scoop them up for family pictures.
Take One

The Family

Time to eat leftovers - Again, I wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving Cactus

Or maybe it's a Christmas Cactus that is, like the rest of the world, skipping over Thanksgiving and bombarding us with "Ho Ho Ho" and "50% off door buster deals for Black Friday".

Upper View

OK, it's just a plant that decided to bloom and doesn't have ulterior motives.

But it does look a bit Christmassy...
First Bloom

I'm linking up with Deb Duty this Turkey Day:


I wish all the folks in the US a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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My Eyes, Corrected

Over a year ago, I posted this photo about my eyes:
Weekly Gratitude - Eyes

Yesterday, I finally took the plunge, went under a laser and had my vision corrected.

Less than 24 hours since the "procedure" (my hubby won't let me say the word "surgery") and I am completely amazed by the result.

How bad was my eyesight? My last corrective lens prescription was -8.0 diopters in the left eye and -8.5 in the right eye. Can you say "blind as a bat"? Legally blind, it concerned me that if I were ever in a situation where I lost my glasses / contacts, I would be completely debilitated. To me, this was the deciding factor.

Will I miss the blur? I mimicked my uncorrected eyesight in this photo, looking outside at a tree and the cul de sac from inside the house:
My Previous View

So far I haven't. I can see rather clearly and each hour, the haze that was present after the procedure continues to fade.

I had to take a picture to remember this event - a not so flattering but real picture of me this morning, before I was allowed to remove the "ski goggles" required post procedure.

Post Eye Correction

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful for my eyes and the technology that restored my vision.

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Like A Crimson Rain

Most of the trees have shed their leaves now and the last three days have been cloudy, windy and downright gloomy. There's a dampness in the air that almost smells like that "s" word. You know, "snow". Fortunately, it's physically too warm for snow right now. But I can tell that white stuff is just around the corner....

Even with the gloom, I was able to find pretty crimson leaves, still holding on to the dogwood tree.

Soft Crimson Rain

I added Kim Klassen's Pheobe texture, in the soft light blending mode.
kimklassencafe




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Morning Frost

Silver white sparkles
Sugar crystals dust the grass and leaves
Nature's Jewelry


On the Ground

Sugared

Linked to Macro Monday.

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Camera Phone Friday - Under the Lights

I normally don't attend local sporting events, but somehow I found myself at two events this week.

First, a football game Saturday afternoon - and it was a perfect fall afternoon for football.
Classic Football Weather #fall #chambana

The temperatures cooled off as twilight descended upon the field and the lights came on.
Twilight Descends #chambana #Illini
The fans were feeling the cold reality that the home team wasn't going to win.

But the stadium looks pretty with all the lights on.
Under the Lights

And leaving the game, we were entertained by this quartet of very talented drummers.
Drumroll Please #chambana #streetperformers

The second event - a basketball game on a cold, brisk night. But we were inside so it was OK.
Like a Spaceship #chambana
I thought the arena was cool looking - all illuminated like a spaceship.

And this time, the home team won.


All photos taken on my iPhone4s, Square photos adjusted using Instagram.
life rearranged

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Pond's Edge

I drove back to the pond I ran past last week during my 11 miles on 11.11.11 - I wanted to take more time to capture it on my "big camera".

There are so many textures and colors present, I doubt I've done it justice.

Mid Fall

The Banks

Sparse

Dried

I must remember to go back in the spring and summer.
Linked to This or That Thursday.

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It's the Cat's Meow

Just playing with my macro lens. I love that even with a chocolate face, Sam's whiskers are white. It's a great contrast.

The Cat's Meow

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Warm and Sweet

There's nothing better on a cold November evening than a hot, steamy cup of hot chocolate.

Stirred

Especially when there's a hint of peppermint in it.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Yum.
Extra Creamy

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11 Miles on 11.11.11

11.11.11 - a unique date that everyone wants to document. Last week I got the hair brained idea to run 11 miles on 11.11.11, and take a photo at each mile. If I had really been planning, I would have timed it so I finished up at 11:11 on 11.11.11, but I was just happy to make it through the 11 miles.

I used my Run Keeper iPhone app to notify me at each mile and it was my intent to stop, look around and take a picture at that moment. Sounded good on paper, but I'll admit that if I didn't like the current vista, I chose to continue running until I found something interesting to capture. I also mapped out a route I wasn't familiar with in order to "be surprised" by the scenery.

So come along with me for a virtual eleven miles on this 11.11.11:

Along the first mile:
Mile One #11/11/11 #11miles #running
I'll admit I stopped when I came upon this scene - it was too beautiful to pass up.

Around Mile 2.3:
Mile Two #11miles #11/11/11 #running

Mile 3, running in the park:
Mile Three #running #11/11/11 #11miles

Mile 4:
Mile Four #11miles #11/11/11 #running #chambana

Mile 5, I followed the trail that winds along a small stream:
Mile Five #11miles #11/11/11 #running #chambana

Mile 6, now I'm on the road that leads to the Middle and High Schools:
Mile Six #11/11/11 #11miles #running #chambana

Mile 7, along the back side of the Middle and High Schools. We are lucky the schools were built around several parks.
Mile Seven #11miles #11/11/11 #running

At Mile 8.5, I was tempted to just stop and get a bagel. Instead, I ate a gel pack.
Tempted to Stop after Eight and a Half Miles #11miles #11/11/11 #running #chambana

Around Mile 9, I was running along a busy street, but I saw these pretty flowers growing on the side road:
Spotted at Mile Nine #11miles #11/11/11 #running

It's Mile 10 and that bench looks inviting.
Mile Ten Bench #11miles #11/11/11 #running

I purposely finished up in the park that flanks one of the subdivision in our city. The trees, although past their prime are still pretty.
The Finish - Eleven Miles #11miles #11/11/11 #running

I treated myself to a nice pumpkin pie latte - a nice warm way to finish up my run.
Post Run Treat

And here's the entire route, courtesy of RunKeeper. The gray dots represent where I paused the app to take the pictures above.
11 Miles on 11/11/11
I really liked the route, although I learned that I prefer running in the parks and on side streets instead of the busy main roads. I guess that's not too big of a surprise.

A post on Veteran's Day wouldn't be complete without a note of gratitude to those who have served in our Armed Forces that keep our Country free. I am truly grateful for all of our Veterans. You make it possible for me to run in the streets safely.

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