Free Download - June 2013 Desktop Calendar

Get a jump start on June with a calendar for your computer's desktop:




Nothing says June better than roses!

To download, click on the link at box.com:
Free Download - June 2013 Calendar

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Recipe | Chinese BBQ Pork

The company I work for is publishing a cookbook filled with employee submitted recipes. The proceeds from the sales will go to local food pantries. This will be its second volume - the first volume raised over $6000 back in 2010. The first volume featured recipes collected from the Boston area and Albuquerque employees; this volume has been expanded to include submissions from all North American sites which include Massachusetts, Louisiana, Texas, Michigan, New Mexico, Georgia and Illinois. With such wide breadth in locations, the cookbook is bound to be very diverse.

Of course, I have submitted a recipe - a family favorite and one that I make for work potlucks.

Chinese Style BBQ Pork
Chinese BBQ Pork

Notes: My mother made this for our family and there was never a formal recipe – just equal parts of stuff thrown in a pot with pork. The sauce is simply equal parts of the five ingredients listed, and may be doubled / tripled as needed. Any pork roast meat will do, but it should have some fat in it to taste good! Don’t use Pork loin as it is too lean.

Ingredients
2 lbs boneless Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt or Country Style Pork, cut into cubes

Sauce components: (Amounts may be increased as needed)
1/3 C Sugar
1/3 C Ketchup
1/3 C Soy Sauce (I use Kikkoman)
1/3 C Red Vinegar
1/3 C white wine or water

1 yellow onion, cut into big chunks
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
Some black pepper
Hot sauce (optional) – to taste

Instructions
Place all ingredients in a stock pot.
Bring to boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 3 hours, until the meat is nice and tender / falling apart and the liquids have reduced to a medium thick sauce.
Check and stir every now and then, especially towards the end. Add water to prevent all the liquid from evaporating and the sauce from burning. If the sauce seems too thin, uncover and boil off the excess liquid.
If you want, skim off the excess fat.
Serve over steamed rice with a side of steamed broccoli, or eat it on a bun!


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Horse or More Wednesday | Ivy and Mom

I promised more photos of the almost two month old foal, so here he is:

Wants to Play
His official name is "Ivy's Foolish Loper". His mom must be Ivy, and Loper refers to 'loping', a western riding term. And he's Foolish because he was born on April Fools Day! He is certainly a rambunctious little guy.

And Mom is never far away:
Just Hanging Out

For More Horse Photos, Denise at Autumn Sky Ranch posted last week about riding her horse under perfect, blue skies. If you have any horse themed posts, just mention it in the comments and I'll link to them in coming weeks.

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Iris and Peonies Blooming In My Garden

First - a purple and white iris - this is new to my garden - a neighbor down the street was having new landscaping installed and offered up soon to be replaced bearded iris to anyone who wanted them. She even dug these up for me! They bloomed on Friday and I was amazed by the color.

Ruffles

These Peonies aren't from my garden - they are from next door. Thankfully, my neighbors know I like to take pictures of things and I don't think they mind if I'm huddled on their porch with my camera. It's the light on these beauties that caught my eye.

Bright Pink

With all the rain we've received, the flowers are really showing off! I wonder what will bloom next.

Shared with Tuesday Muse at A Rural Journal.

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Hello Monday | Remembrance

Old Glory

Hello Memorial Day | Before it became Memorial Day, the last Monday in May was known as Decoration day. This holiday was born out of the Civil War as a day to remember those died in during the Civil War. Since then, it has been extended to honor all Americans who gave their lives serving their country. May we take time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Hello Abscess | Looks like I'm not the only one with a foot problem - Caesar has an abscess in his right hind hoof. We knew something was wrong, as he wouldn't trot well and my daughter hasn't been able to ride him for over a week because of it. Now we know - so each day he'll receive a thorough cleaning, foot soak, iodine treatment and hoof wrap. Sounds like he's at the nail salon getting a pedicure, right?

Hello Last Week of School | I know the kids are looking forward to the carefree days of no school, sleeping in and hanging out with their friends. My daughter just has to get through final exams. For me, the end of school means more relaxed mornings.

Hello Trip Activity Planning and Final Preparations | I'm finalizing the various day trips for my upcoming trip to visit my sister in London. We have day trips planned to the Harry Potter Studios, Bristol, and Bath. In the city, the girls have to see Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly and I would love to visit Kew Gardens. Final preparations entail getting British pounds before we leave, buying gifts and figuring out what to pack!

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun

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Friday Flowers | Lilacs

I've been enjoying the fragrance of the lilacs that took forever to bloom this year.

Soft Pink

Growing up in Massachusetts, the lilacs normally didn't bloom until late May, around my birthday, so I always thought of them as my birthday flower. Back then, the standard, "old fashioned" lilacs were widely planted - you know, those tall, towering bushes on the side of the house, laden heavy with clusters of lavender flowers. Often though, the bushes would mature and rendered themselves too large for the space they were planted in - after all, a fully grown standard lilac spans 12 feet tall with a 10 feet spread. So many a mature lilac bush ended up being replaced with something smaller.

For our current home, I knew we didn't have space for such a large bush, so I opted for a more petite, dwarf Japanese variety, Miss Kim. Their only drawback is the small size of the florets.

Delicate

But they give off that same wonderful, lush fragrance. Maybe one day, I'll have a proper spot for a standard lilac. For now, I'll enjoy the delicate blooms and fragrance that says "Spring is Here".

Wishing those in the US a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Floral Love

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Horse or More Wednesday | Two Sides

His Dirty Side
My daughter calls this Caesar's dirty side because of the dirt on on his side. As a non-horsey person, I didn't notice. I did notice the tongue sticking out, but I guess that's not hard to miss!

His Clean Side
And apparently, this is his clean side.

Even though Caesar is officially half Appaloosa and half Quarter Horse, the Appaloosa is certainly dominant, from the white "blanket" on his hind quarters, to his stubby tail and non existent mane. It's time for him to get a mane buzz.

Last week, Sherry at From All Directions posted a photo of a new filly born at the barn.
And Denise at Autumn Sky Ranch posted photos of her life long love of horseback riding.

I wish you a wonderful Wednesday. Please continue to keep the folks in Oklahoma in your thoughts and prayers as they deal with the aftermath of the tornado from Monday.

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Behind The Scenes | Lightroom Edit

While the spotlight is on the band on stage, people behind the scenes allow their music to be enjoyed to its fullest.

Behind the Scenes
During Saturday's performance, the stage lost power twice, reducing the show to a dim whisper. The sound / tech guy above restored things within a minute and got the band rocking again.

Likewise, Lightroom is my behind the scenes partner who helps me adjust my images to reflect what I saw as I depressed the shutter. It is an invaluable tool.

Because I don't always get it right in the camera - as you can see in the image below.
Behind the Scenes SOOC
Yeah, under exposed. Auto White Balance didn't quite "get it right". It's especially tricky when shooting at night.

Fortunately, it didn't take much to fix it. Here are my simple edits in Lightroom's Develop Module:

Basically, a significant exposure increase, a highlights decrease (because the exposure increase caused the whites to be too bright) and a shadows increase.

I set a custom White Balance by using the eye dropper and clicking on a spot that should be mid gray / white. I chose the computer screen in the picture and was happy with the result.

In addition to Lightroom 4, I also use an old-old version of PhotoShop Elements (version 6, from 2008) when I want to work with adjustment layers. I find between the two programs, I have all I need. With Adobe moving some of their software offerings to a subscription basis, I am thinking about buying the latest boxed version of PSE so I'll be current. So far, Adobe has stated that their Lightroom product will remain as a standalone purchase.

What editing tools do you use?

Shared with Tuesday Muse at A Rural Journal.

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Hello Monday | It's Just Another Year

The New Flickr - Hot Off the Press

Hello Heat Wave and A/C | yup, we skipped spring and went straight to summer. It's been over 90 these last few days and the air conditioning is on. A few of my neighbors haven't succumbed to the heat - I see their windows wide open and wonder how they can stand it.

Hello Lilacs | You've finally bloomed and fill the air with your heady fragrance

Hello New Flickr | Wow - new look - I think I like it!

Hello Baby birds | A bird built a nest in our front door's hanging basket. This happened three years ago and the nest was abandoned. I surmised there was a new nest this season, as each time I opened the door, a bird would appear and fly away, but didn't dare peek in until last week. I saw three hungry mouths wanting to be fed. Since then, we have stopped using the front door. I still see momma and dad (the bird in the branches above) hanging around and flying around the door, so I'm hoping the babies are doing OK.

Hello Long Weekend | Memorial Day signifies the start of summer around here - the pools open and school is wrapping up.

Hello 46 | Yup, another year older for me. As I was telling my bloggy friend and fellow runner, Kyla, my mind certainly doesn't feel over forty, but my ligaments and tendons are starting to reveal that they are. I'm still nursing my right ankle, but hoping to getting back to running later on this week or next. Could it be that in my older age, I'm becoming more patient? I doubt it.

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun


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Saturday Night Dance Party

After my last post, I thought I'd post more photos of people dancing again to 80's music!

No, not more grainy, retro photos scanned from my college years but photos from our neighborhood's block party. The festivities last night didn't disappoint - the weather was perfect, we brought our lawn chairs and a couple of beers and the band provided the music, entertainment and memories from our high school and college years.

They are called The Brat Pack - they bring back all those killer songs from the 80s and sprinkle in some recent hits, too.

Case in point - the main singer is dressed up as Lady Gaga here:
Saturday Night Entertainment #thebratpack #80smusic

That was early in their three hour set, full of energy, numerous costume changes and great music.

It wasn't until darkness settled in that the crowd started to dance in earnest, though. Why is that?
Dance Party

Each band member has an 80s "alter ego" - these two are Lynn D Lauper and Brendan Goes to Hollywood. Kitschy, right? Just like the 80s.
130518_D600_1558.jpg

The bassist was my favorite - she was having a great time kicking it all night long.
Bass Power

They had a fabulous light show which is always fun (and a bit challenging) to photograph.
I Need Your Love Tonight

The Brat Pack plays all around Central Illinois and even our old stomping ground in Indiana. We hope the neighborhood gets them back next year!
Mesmerized

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The Soundtrack of My Life - College Party Scene

1989 Graduation Eve
Dancing Out, The Night Before Graduation - 1989 - And That's Not Me in the Photo ....

I admit it - my college years were lots of fun. And hard work. Lots of problem sets, long nights (I only pulled one all-nighter and that was towards the tail end of my senior year - I couldn't go through four years at MIT and not have pulled a least one all nighter - heck, they could refuse me my college diploma!), hard work and more hard work.

I know my parents read my blog (Hi Mom!), so of course I'm going to illiterate the long hours and hard work because I don't want them to feel all stressed our about my college years that were so long ago. I turned out OK regardless, so I guess it's OK for them to know now that I did have a good time at school, too.

In spite of the all the hard work, there were plenty of opportunities to socialize, party and DANCE. Things were quite loose back then - alcohol flowed freely and underage drinking was not frowned upon or policed. My perception of the situation - we were smart enough to get into MIT, we were probably responsible enough to have alcohol, regardless of the law. Remember, this was 1985 - the legal drinking age had just been raised from 18 to 21 in 1984, so there were old practices to change.

OK, this was not meant to be a blog post about drinking in college.... I did drink in college - there, I said it (sorry if I just blew anyone's perception of me). So I'm moving on to the music that defined my college party years, because that's really what differentiated those years.

Part One - The Classic Party Dance Music - stuff that's been out for years:

You Make Me Wanna (Shout) by the Isley Brothers
This classic dance song still delivers and brings people on to the dance floor. Even the moves have been passed down through the years (the hands up at "shout", shimmying down to the floor during the "a little bit softer now" bits, then back up on the "a little bit louder now" and general jumping all up and down).
Here's the Animal House version, performed by Otis Day and the Knights. I don't know what could scream College Party scene better. I know this makes you want to get up and dance.


The Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Did I see the Rocky Horror Picture Show in College? You bet - at the Harvard Square Theatre, where it played every Saturday at midnight. Yes, people dressed up and re-enacted the movie as it was happening on the screen. We threw toilet paper, brought squirt guns and danced in the aisles. Fun times.


Twist and Shout by the Beatles
This song was experiencing a bit of a renaissance after it was featured in the movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Does it still attract people to the dance floor now? Not sure, but it was always a crowd pleaser during my college years.



Part Two - Dance Music of the 80s:
Call it New Wave or pre-electronica, these songs defined the era:

Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Nothing transports me back faster to the dance floor than this pulsing electronica song.


Another similar electronica song, You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead or Alive

Of course, you have to spin around on the dance floor during the chorus.

New Sensation by INXS
This one is more rock than new wave, but it makes my list because I remember dancing to it - there's something about that opening guitar riff that gets people moving. And I'm pretty sure it's the song we're dancing to in the photo above.


I Want Your Sex by George Michael
Off his first solo album, Faith, this song's titillating subject and lyrics certainly raised eyebrows at the time. OK, it would raise eyebrows now, too. The risque subject coupled with electro pop made it fun to dance to.



What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy) - Information Society
More synth pop from the late 80s - you can't help but bop along with it - it's infectious!


I'm sure there are so many more great songs from that era - I'd love to hear what your college dance soundtrack sounded like - add yours in the comments and dance on!

Other Soundtrack of My Life Posts:
The Early Years
The Middle School Years,
High School Anthems
Love Songs
a Cappella Songs.
Classical, Jazz and Show Tunes

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Looking Out

looking out from the inside
looking out from the branches
i see you, but what do you see?

Lookout

does anything look "off" in this photo?
it was taken on Mother's Day,
yes, the branches are bare,
when all should be green....

while i'm certain the tree is dead,
i'm glad i at least got to see
the bird looking out,
not looking at me
and so we're going to pick out another tree
from the local nursery

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Horse Or More Wednesday - Knee Deep

All the rain we received in April (and May) has resulted in lots of green grass.

Knee Deep

The horses just eat it up (literally!).

And an update on the foal that was born about a month ago, who I thought had been moved to another stable - he and his mom are back! No recent photos, but I'm sure I'll get some this weekend.

You can check out more horse photos at Sherry's blog - From all Directions.

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Hello Monday | 15

Through Rose Colored Glasses #sun #clouds
Waiting at the Intersection So I Took a Photo of the Setting Sun - Through My Sunglasses

Hello Band Concert | It's hard to believe the students will be performing for the last time this school year. As usual, we are looking forward to all the performances (and especially the Jazz Band Performance). At the end of the concert, the 8th grade students will be acknowledged and presented with a certificate. They are closing up this chapter of life and heading to high school.

Hello Birthday | Hubby turns 46 on Friday!

Hello New Running Shoes | I calculated I've put at least 400 miles on my current pair and that might be the cause of my ankle issue (specifically, my posterior tibial tendonitis). I'm probably going to buy some kinesiology tape, too, so I can start running again. While I don't mind the pool, once a week is my limit.

Hello Neighborhood Picnic and Block Party | one of the perks of living in this neighborhood - we have a great community, a HOA that encourages involvement, and neighbors who care about each other. On tap this weekend - a picnic in the park and then a band block party. The band is an 80's Tribute band, so we are sure to hear lots of favorites. This is the first year the picnic and block party have been combined - the picnic has the tendency of drawing thunderstorms and severe weather - I hope that doesn't happen this time!

Hello Herb Plants | I need to buy new rosemary and basil plants - the sooner the better. Last year, I was late on the basil and I didn't get much of a harvest.

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun

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Friday Night Tulips

Yes, I lead such an exciting life. So exciting that on a Friday night, I'm sitting in the dining room, on the computer, posting photos of the tulips I took photos of this afternoon.

Center Flame

Bouquet

I'm also trying to keep the cat off the computer mouse. He likes to sit on it. Kind of makes working on the computer a little difficult.

And I'm listening to Sara Bareilles on my iPhone. I've found videos from her current acoustic tour on You Tube and yearn to see her again in concert.

Yeah, I'm singing along to the music - I can tonight without being accosted because it's just me and the cats in the house - ah, such freedom.

Can you stand the excitement?

Edged

Here's to hoping your Friday night is livelier than mine....

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Horse or More Wednesday - Working the Horses

One of the trainers at the stable, Bruce, is lunging his horse in the outdoor arena. Parts of this arena are dry enough to work the horses.

Lunging

Lunging allows a horse to be exercised without a rider on its back. A long "rope" or lunge line is attached to the horse's halter and a whip or hand commands are used to direct the horse's movement. The horse moves in a circle around person holding the lunge line - it is a way for the horse to be controlled by a rider not on his back.

Good Job

My daughter's horse, for some reason, refuses to be lunged. He just stands there, and if he does get going, he trots for a bit then stops. We've even had the trainer try it and Caesar is pretty stubborn in this regard. Oh well, maybe he prefers to be ridden instead.

And some more from the stable - this cow cracks me up.

Thinks I Have a Treat

I'm safe behind a fence and although I'm sure they wouldn't hurt a fly, those horns are very intimidating. He was trotting towards me, maybe because he thought I had a treat for him to eat.

If you want to see some more horse themed photos, head over to Sherry's Blog - From all Directions.

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Patience

It's been over a year since this orchid plant last bloomed.

After a Long Wait

While orchids don't require a whole lot of attention, I think I forgot to water it for a long time and it wasn't happy with me because of that. I now make a point to get water to it weekly and started feeding it regularly.

I'm glad I patiently waited for it to get back on its feet. These blooms should last for months. I won't take them for granted.

Textured using Kim Klassen's May and Nancy Claeys' Sakura.

Shared with Texture Tuesday, Tuesday Muse and Communal Global.

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Hello Monday | End of Spring Sports Season

2013 Seniors
A Mosaic Featuring the Senior Soccer Players

Hello Senior Soccer Players | I've trying to get a group photo of these young ladies - this afternoon is my last chance as the photo is needed for Senior Night on Wednesday.

Hello Last Soccer Game | It feels like the season just started! The JV team's last game is on Wednesday.

Hello Iron Man 3D at the new IMAX theatre
| the inaugural show for the first IMAX theatre in town. There are only two multiplexes in our little college town. Both have been renovating / constructing IMAX screens, but the theatre on the north side of town decided to handle their renovation by completely demolishing their existing building and has been closed since March. That leaves one movie theatre in town, one new IMAX debuting the Iron Man 3 movie. Can you say massive crowds? We are hoping to avoid the crowds by going on Thursday....

Hello Pool | I've decided to take a week off from running - my right ankle hurts and probably needs some time to heal. I'm going to swim instead.

Hello Girls Only Weekend | The Boys of the house are going to St. Louis this weekend - they are going to see the Cardinals play the Rockies. Who knows what we'll do.... pedicures? Shopping? Catching up on Downton Abby? Whatever it is, I'm sure we won't be watching ESPN.

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun

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Has Spring Finally Sprung?

I am amazed at how late the spring flowers are around here. It really looks like early April or even late March, but here we are at May 5 and these are just starting to bloom.

Fragrant Viburnum:
Viburnum

Chives:
Chives

Pink Blossoms on a plant in my neighbor's yard. I have no idea what they are, but the blooms are small, pink and pretty.
Pink Spires

Happy Spring (Finally!!)
Spring Has Sprung

Sharing with Mary and Mosaic Monday

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Two Spring Sunsets

I love sunsets and we seem to get great ones here in the spring, like the one I captured last night at the stable.

Spring Sunset

But what really says "spring" is the emerging of farm equipment. That means spring plantings. And that same sunset is reflected in the window of this John Deere tractor:
Sunset on the Farm #johndeere #reflection

Sharing with Mary and her Thursday Inspiration where this week's theme is Spring. I'm sure my interpretation of Spring is a little different today!

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Free Download - May 2013 Calendar

Happy May!

It actually feels like spring today - the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming (unfortunately, this includes the dandelions, which have popped up in force, out of nowhere), and the temperatures are going to be in the high 70's!

Celebrating the beginning of May and the end of the coldest April we have had in years, here is May's free desktop calendar:



To download, click on the link at box.com:
Free May 2013 Calendar Download

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Horse And More Wednesday - Empty Stall

Well, not completely empty - the barn cats have taken up residence in the stall where the foal and his momma once occupied.

Empty Stall, Except for the Cats

Notice I stated "where the foal and his momma once occupied".

Sigh, the little baby and his momma are gone. I guess their stay at the stable was for the purpose of bringing the little one into this world and now they have gone back to where the baby will be trained up.

Even though they are gone, I am glad to have been graced by their presence, if only for a fleeting moment. Maybe our paths will cross again.

If you would like to share a photo, please link up below. Your photo does not need to be horse themed.

Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday.



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