Welcome. This blog is my little home on the web. It's mostly about my favorite hobby, digital scrapbooking. You might also find some recipes, home decor projects, or parenting woes. But mostly digital scrapbooking.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Halloween Costume In Progress

Can you guess what he will be? Do you think he is excited?

Ahhhhh ... I love making Halloween costumes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

School Portraits

I'm a big fan of school portraits. They are so fun. I love the anticipation of seeing what you get. I love giving out little wallet sized pictures to everyone I know.

Miller's old school used Life Touch School Portraits, which I think is a big business that does portraits at lots of schools. Like a school portrait machine. His new school used a local photographer. Miller said this guy was fun and actually told jokes to get the kids to smile. I could tell the difference in the pictures - his smile looked like a real smile.

The photographer gave the option of purchasing the digital image on a CD with copyright release instead of a print package. The cost was just a little less than most of the print packages that he offered. I decided to go with that option to see how I liked it.

Did I like it? I have mixed feelings. The image he gave was unprocessed, so I was a little disappointed in that. I have to say there is something in having all the work done for you. But I do like that with the copyright release I can make whatever prints I want. I've already ordered some from my favorite print shop. With the added shipping cost, I probably paid a little more overall than if I had just selected a print package from the photographer. But the image is mine to do whatever I want.

I went ahead and scrapped a page with it.


There is something about opening that envelope to reveal that handful of prints, and you know that is all you get - whatever they look like - dorky smile, no smile, poor choice of clothing - what you see is what you get. And the prints that you bought - that is all you get too. All of that is the charm of the school photo. I have to say I kinda missed that. I'm not sure what I will choose next time - the prints or the digital image (I'm too frugal to do both). Luckily I have a whole year to think it over.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Better Bird Photograph

I gave up on photographing hummingbirds for a little while. My pictures were all looking the same, and I wasn't getting that bright iridescence in the feathers that I wanted.

Here is a cute one of a bird trying to get the nectar from the side of the feeder.

The other day, I thought: I should search on the internet for tips about photographing hummingbirds. It turns out you can find lots of articles about it. Some of the tips were surprising: like using flash (as many as 5 flashes at the same time) in the bright daylight to either freeze the wing motion or help bring out the colors.

There were other tips regarding props - like using a feeder, but closing off all but one of the holes so that you forced the birds to a known spot. Or strategically placing potted plants in the background to achieve a more natural looking environment.

And there were other tips like setting your camera to continuously focus while you have the shutter button depressed, or limiting your camera to focus just in the center of the field of view.

The thing that impressed me the most was the concept of the photographer setting up this deliberate environment, tweaking everything so it is just so ... but the photograph itself doesn't reveal any of that! I had mixed feelings about it - on the one hand it seemed very clever, and on the other it seemed like a dirty trick.

Anyway, I did try to play with my focus settings, and I did try to change things up a bit to better compose some of my pictures. Even if I didn't use a lot of the tips, at least I was out there trying again. The following pictures might not have the best exposure and focus, but I think better composure than some of my old ones.

 In the following two pictures I've stepped outside and am shooting back toward the window.

In these next two I've stepped to the side so that the trees are in the background as the birds approach the feeder. It's harder this way because sometimes the birds don't come if you are out there, especially, I've noticed, if you are wearing a black shirt. White clothing doesn't seem to bother them as much.

The following pictures I took from indoors, but I waited for a better time of the day - in the late afternoon when the sun provided a better light for catching those colors in the feathers.

This is the type of shot I've been wanting all along - with those bright colors showing up on the throat and the feathers clearly in focus. Still not the amazing picture that I really want, but getting there. I think one thing I could do to improve things is to remove that hanging plant. The camera likes to focus on those chains.

There has been a lot of action at the feeder lately, even multiple birds trying to feed at the same time. I've seen as many as four birds swooping and diving all around. Sometimes I think there might be two different birds who think they "own" the feeder.

I've noticed some patterns in the behavior of multiple birds at the feeder. If two birds approach the feeder at the same time, there is a good chance both will settle down and drink. Also, if one bird is already at the feeder and a second one approaches, there is a good chance that both will drink together. BUT if a bird is "guarding" the feeder from the tree about 30 feet away, he doesn't let anyone drink, so the feeder sits empty.

I'll end with this funny one. It's almost a throw-away shot, but this is what two swooping birds look like, if you are fast enough.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


From Wikipedia:  A falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa; "falafel" also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way.

Several weeks ago, the scientist talked the other two of us into trying a nearby falafel stand. We'd driven by it many times and saw that it was always very busy. It was obviously a local favorite.

I ate my first falafel and thought that it was ok. I could eat it again, but I would probably never actually request it myself.

And then about a week later I thought of the word falafel, and found myself craving one. Even though I hadn't really liked it. We went again to the falafel stand, and my second falafel was even better than the first one. I loved it! The bread was so soft and fresh. The "meat balls," as Miller calls them, were so scrumptious. The chopped pickle and cabbage were just a little bit tangy and delicious.

I now frequently find myself experiencing the falafel effect: I think the word falafel and then can't get it out of my mind.

I type these words at 9:30 am,  and I know that the falafel stand opens at 11. I will be there.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Money and Speech

I haven't blogged about it in a while, but I have been supporting the MayDay PAC in its effort to end the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, say that to limit political spending is to limit our free speech. I do actually see, and agree with, some of that reasoning - why shouldn't I (or any other person) be able to spend my money freely in the political realm, as a way to support my opinions, values, and beliefs? I get the idealism there.

However, from where I stand, I truly feel that MY free speech, and the free speech of the majority of people in this country, is completely drowned out by all the dollar bills that speak on behalf of a small wealthy minority.

So, Republican leaders out there, I have a question for you. How am I supposed to look at the current situation and FEEL: my vote no longer matters, and yet TELL MYSELF: I'm OK with that?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jane Eyre Times Four

I recently got lured back to Netflix with their offer to take another free month trial. I found that they have several Jane Eyre movies available in their streaming service. Miller and I watched three of them over the course of a week while the scientist was away. By now, I'm sure Miller wishes he'd never heard of Mr. Rochester.

I originally discovered Jane Eyre through the PBS Masterpiece version that I'll post at the end of this list. I read the book back when Miller was a baby, and I enjoyed it. Jane had a lot of bad things happen to her, and she was often treated unfairly. But she always remained a kind and forgiving person, and she never compromised her morals. She never came across to me as a very religious person, and yet she always conducted herself in a very Godly manner. I've always thought that she simply saw the value in doing things God's way, from a logical analysis of it. I find that refreshing.

This was the first Netflix Jane Eyre I watched:

It was made in 1996 and is 116 minutes long. I didn't particularly like this one. It was unmemorable. In fact, I abandoned it about 3/4 through. Later, though, I went back and watched the end.  This Jane was a bit too un-animated for my taste, and Mr. Rochester was a bit too mean and rude. I felt their affection for each other was not believable. And there were some serious plot changes that really bothered me, particularly in the third section of the story. They completely changed the Saint John character and wove him in to the story in a different way. Dumb!

This was the second Netflix Jane Eyre I watched:
It was made in 2011 and is 121 minutes long. Again, this Jane seems to go through life in some kind of comatose state showing little emotion. I don't like that. Her falling in love with Mr. Rochester just wasn't believable. However, I did enjoy some of the conversations between the two of them. This Mr. Rochester was again very rude, but you definitely get a sense of him being intrigued by Jane, if not actually loving her. Again, they changed the Saint John part of the story. That seems to be a commonality in shorter enactments of the story: to leave out large sections of the third part. The ending of this movie was absurdly abrupt (WHAT? That's the end??), with no sense of how their lives play out.

Edit: I re-watched this one, and realized that the Saint-John character was actually pretty faithful to the book - they just rearranged and put his part of the story at the beginning (!)

Here was the third Netflix Jane Eyre I watched.

This one was from 1983 and is a series with 11 half-hour episodes. I definitely prefer the series or mini series format, as they can include much more of the story and stay more faithful to the text. This Jane Eyre was a lot more lively than the previous two. I liked that, but it seemed to go a little too far - she was downright bubbly at times. This version would be my second favorite, although it did seem long. And I also have to say it felt very dated.

And finally, my favorite version of Jane Eyre, which I also recently watched again, but not on Netflix:

This one is a 2-part mini series from 2006. It is about 4 hours long. This one is pretty faithful to the book and includes much of the third part of the story. Mr. Rochester is severe but also endearing. Jane is reserved but shows emotion. Their developing love is believable. I really love this version. It is my favorite, and I have watched it many times, and I will watch it many more times I'm sure.

It was really interesting to watch so many versions back to back - to see the things they had in common and which things were different. I am reading the book again right now. I'm almost to the wedding. I like the book because it is told in first person, so you have a sense that eventually everything is going to work out for Jane.

This might sound like a strange comparison, but I've always thought that Sookie Stackhouse was a modern (if urban fantastical) version of Jane Eyre. They were both orphans, both different from their peers and often treated unkindly. Yet both were good people who always did what they thought was right, even knowing that doing so would cause them pain and trouble. And in the end they are both rewarded in the lives they lead. Just what I like in a good read.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Same Template Used Twice In One Day!

When a template is awesome, you can use it multiple times in one day and still feel like each page is a unique and inspired creation. Let me prove that to you.

A family outing to the coast. We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium again to see the cephalopod exhibit. A cephalopod is an animal with its "head region" and its "foot region" directly attached to each other.
Project Care by Valorie Wibbens; Autumn Frost and This Carefree Day by Sahlin Studio
Bold Double Templates 2 by Scrapping with Liz; Glitter Paper by Two Shutter Sisters

And we explored the tide pools, climbed big rocks, stacked small rocks, ate fish and watched the sun go down.
Hoppy by Valorie Wibbens; Sweet Storytelling and Life's a Beach AddOn by Sahlin Studio
Bold Double Templates 2 by Scrapping with Liz; Wired Alpha by creashens


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sometimes I Don't Like Nature

When we first moved into our new home, I didn't have a hummingbird feeder, but I did still have my old seed feeder and some birdseed. Here are some of the birds I saw. There were finches (just like at our old home), and a new-to-me bird I call "the black headed bird" (I think it might be a Dark-eyed Junco). There was one more dirty brown bird that was very shy and hopped along the ground. I never got a picture of that one.

After a few days I discovered (to my delight, initially) that squirrels like birdseed too. I even put out seed in a dish so the squirrels could easily get to it (as if they need any help!).

And then ... after a few days ... I discovered that squirrels poop everywhere, and apparently they poop constantly, because how else could you explain all the poops all over my porch?? Squirrels will also bite/tear holes into any closed bags of birdseed that you happen to leave outside, even if it is sealed and has never been opened and is on a high shelf. So, I no longer like squirrels. I am still debating if I want to put the bird seed out again.

Some of the squirrels here are black. I was quite taken aback the first time I saw one, but I guess they are a normal variant. They are mischievous looking things. And perhaps a little bit evil.

This is the tree squirrel that I'm used to seeing: the gray/brown ones. They are cuter, in my opinion, and they never pooped on my old porch and I had bird seed out there for months at a time.

Down with black squirrels!