Thursday, February 28, 2013

Theme Thursday: Happiness or Joy

50mm lens, ISO400, F1.8, Exp1/60th because that's the slowest speed for jittery hands.

I went looking for happiness today, but all I found was fine whine.  You get what you give, I suppose.

Hey, tomorrow is TGIM, or Thank God It's March!

One good thing about February,

ISO 400, F5, Exp1/250


 LAMBS!

The Chef took some of my people to the local 1800's farm to see "aminals!"

Of course, he had to custom white balance first.  I have a Canon Rebel EOS and to custom White Balance, FIRST you take a picture of something white.  Contrary to what I thought, you don't need to fill the frame with white, just the middle part.
Sunny 16: ISO400, F4, Exp1/4000

Before adjusting the white balance.  Pretty cool, huh?  Like the Hunger Games or something.  

Then he took this picture:



She's holding a receipt he found in his pocket.
First, he pressed that WB button and made sure the wierd dot above two wedges was selected for "Custom."
Then, he went to Menu, scrolled down to Custom White Balance and pressed Set.  The camera automatically selects the most recent picture (this one above) and asks to use the data.  Select yes.

The next pictures turned out a little differently.




So when I whipped out the camera this morning, I had to repeat those steps.


And when I chased Jill into the kitchen, I moved from tungsten light to flourescent light, and rather than switch the WB setting from custom to the parallel fluoroscent bulb-like lines, I customized the WB again.


I was hoping for a glimmer of joy, but my clementines must be sour or something.


This guy looks pretty joyful though.

I did auto correct him a little in PSE, otherwise you would see the perpetual gloom here.
Go see Cari and the others for actual joy, happiness, and rainbows.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What We're Reading Wednesday - Newberys!!!!


We enjoyed The Warrior Heir trilogy so much, I checked out The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima (also recommended by Seven Little Australians).  You can read a good summary here.

Contrary to what you might think, there are no demons in The Demon King. As I mentioned back in January, Demonai is the name of one of the Native American-ish clans struggling to balance power with the wizard race.

Our hero, Han, is definitely attracted to Digging Bird, noticing her legs, but that's about it. Princess Raisa enjoys spending time locking lips with young wizard, Micah.  At one point, both Raisa and Micah are consumed with uncontrollable passion.  Good thing her bodyguard noticed they were being controlled by magical items, before it was too late and she was "ruined" Lady Mary style.  Lots of kissing, but that's it.

I enjoyed the book, but silly me, I expected some kind of resolution by the end, when in actuality, The Demon King is only the beginning of a much bigger and longer tale.



Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage is about Miss Moses LoBeau and her unlikely foster parents, The Colonel and Miss Lana.  Moses, or Mo, was washed up on shore as an infant after a hurricane, hence the name.  In addition to her ongoing search for her upstream mother, she starts her own detective agency with her best friend to solve a murder, an old bank robbery's missing loot, and Miss Lana's kidnapping.  It's a wild adventure, filled with great characters.  Also, it was one of the Newbery nominees this year.


Another Newbery nominee, What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt was a little confusing.  The story begins in a far away galaxy.  There is an alien race, the Valorim, struggling under the crushing heel of a master villain and his alien minions, with loads of foreign vocabulary and big mouthful names.  It would have been VERY helpful at this point if I had noticed there was a GLOSSARY to help with all of that.  Doh.

Every other chapter alternates between the Valorim's struggle to save their knowledge and art, to the New England town where Tommy Pepper and his family live.  The Valorim put all of their knowledge into a necklace and send it away.  It ends up in Tommy Pepper's lunch box.

Tommy's fighting his own battles.  His little sister hasn't spoken since their mother died. Dad is struggling with grief and the local real estate company that wants to demolish their home to build condos.  And now, wearing the necklace, he's exhibiting some strange powers and attracting some very bad characters who know what the necklace is and want it for themselves.

I love Gary D. Schmidt, and I love everything he's written (especially Straw into Gold), (though I do think Okay for Now isn't suitable for kids).  This book was academically hard to handle though.  The vocabulary and names are very difficult, even for me, and I'm a member of the Rohirrim, plus I speak Elvish and can read the Black Speech of Mordor.  However, if I had known about the Glossary (smacks forehead)  I am certain I would have been much happier.


And The Newbery Medal went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  Based on the sad but true story of a gorilla that was kept in the same enclosure for twenty-seven years, in a mall, The One and Only Ivan is told from Ivan's point of view.  STOP HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ SPOILERS!

When his best friend Stella (an elephant) died of neglect, her last request was that Ivan not let the new baby elephant, Ruby, meet the same fate.  Ivan, who had given up hope of ever changing anything begins to live like a silverback again, which is to protect another.

Poignant and powerful.  Don't think this is a "All humans are bad." kind of book.   Even the animals recognize the difference between humans.  And the good ones win in the end.

For the Win.  Literally.  (Pun intended.)

Am I the only one who gets waaaay more excited about the Newberys than the Oscars? Thought so.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Woweee Kazowee!

Notice anything different about this blog today?

Yes, we have a header like real grown-up blogs do.

Special thanks to the Gifted One who created it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

7QT Feast of the Chair of Peter

1.

I still need to figure out how to make the text bigger and one hundred thousand other things.

2.  I'm not planning to edit my photos very often.  I just want to be able to do stuff like that, and like this.

Kudos to Cari Donaldson for talking me through my First Little Tikes Photoshop Collage.

3.  I was out until 10:30pm last night taking a 3 hour class called Making Sense of Your Camera.

mind.  blown.

I feel like I should delete everything I've ever written about photography.  Not that what I said isn't true, I just didn't have all of the facts.

I haven't posted an Architecture post for Theme Thursday this week, because every picture I took was super stinky.  Let's see what I can do now that I know the secrets of the photography universe (level 1).  I think I can do better.

This is like me with a camera.

4.  A few things I learned last night:

If your biggest print is going to be an 8x10, you only NEED 6 megapixels.  Total.

I used to think megapixels looked like this.

If you only need 6 megapixels, you never need to shoot in RAW.  The file will be huuuge and you will need 50 computers plus extra conversion software to convert the files to images.  Silly.

Sometimes, you can/should use a flash on a bright sunny day.  It will illuminate shadows, under baseball caps etc, and create "catchlights" in the eyes of the photographed.

There is a magic formula called Sunny 16 that works on bright sunny days.  It also works at night, when you're on the viewing deck of the Hancock shooting a city scape.

I NEED to buy some lens protector thingys for each of my lenses so I can throw away my lens caps and always be ready to take a photograph.  Also, photography instructors will call you a dork if you show up with your lens caps on.

5.  We Chicagoans are hard core.  We haven't had a snow day in years.  A few years ago, we got 11 inches in one night.  Our school was open bright and early.

Last night Tom Skilling predicted 7 to 9 inches of snow.  I passed many snow plows on my way home from camera class last night.

We got three inches.  wah-wah.

Today, all three of our schools are open.  No snow days for us warriors.

(I have to be all braggy swagger and bad a$$, because that's how I cope when I want to put my head down and weep.)

6.  I have a compulsion wherein everything (or nearly everything) I pin on Pinterest must become a reality in the near future.

With the exception of my "Basement Re-do" board, but that's the money's fault, not mine.

So when I pinned the Moist Whole Wheat Banana Bread recipe, it was because I already had a bunch of super ripe bananas and a bag of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat (outdated by 2 months).



It was the greatest banana bread ever.

It was so delicious, I invested in the mega-bag of whole wheat flour from Costcos.  Hit me with more awesome whole wheat recipes, preferably not the rising and kneading kind.  Gracias!

7.  I've got big plans for this ole blog.  There's a new header waiting to be mounted, lots of book reviews simmering in the background, a couple of giveaways lined up, and more and better photography!  Until then, I hope your weekend is a lot like this:

 
Go see Jen for more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What We're Reading Wednesday: Picture Books


I read about twenty thousand picture books a week to Jill.  Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little.  My library account shows that I have nearly 60 items checked out at this time.  Plus, I recently resurrected my vast collection of every Little Golden Book ever written to occupy lap time with Jill, because she is not going "night-night" (our word for nursing) anymore. Huzzah!  I am the only one who loathes the word, "weaning?"

Anywho, I read lots of picture books, many of which are perfectly lovely and delightful, but I am not really inspired to blog about most of them.  Here is one exception.

I am trying to teach Jill that there are other colors besides "peent." (pink)  Picture books about colors are ubiquitous but Edward Gibbs' I Spy with My Little Eye has to be hands down my favorite.  This oversized picture book combines color education with Jill's all-time favorite subject, ANIMALS!  Plus, every page has a hole in it, peeking at the next page, incorporating the next pages's illustation in a very cool way.  The end of the book has another hole for you to peek out of.  Jill uses it all the time and giggles like mad.  I love everything about this book, the illustrations, the colors, the peeky holes.  If you have a toddler, you will both enjoy this book.


I was asked a few weeks ago what Easter books would I recommend for the toddler set.  Honestly, I didn't know of anything besides the The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward, and I'm not a huge fan of that book anyway.  So, I started investigating and I've found two books about Easter that Jill and I really like.

Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco is the story of Babushka, wounded goose she finds in the snow, and the magnificent painted eggs she brings to the fair in Moskva each year.  While not specifically about the Paschal mystery, the illustrations show wonderful reproductions of the icons that Babuska has in her home.

For me, the most important thing about a picture book is the pictures.  Jill doesn't let me read all of the text everytime anyway.  Patricia Polacco's books have FABULOUS pictures.


Just look at that close up of Babushka.  See how the rich watercolor clothing contrasts with the detailed pencil drawn skin.  Yes, that's a mole next to her nose.  Can you just feel her soft wrinkly hands?  This is Art.

I was first introduced to Patricia Polacco when Edmund's tutor recommended her autobiographical story, Thank You Mr. Falker, because like Edmund, Ms. Polacco is dyslexic too.

I am puzzled by one thing in Rechenka's Eggs though.  If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have noticed that I pinned Hearthsong's Ukrainian Egg Making Kit to make my own psyanky eggs this year.  My kit has arrived and I got every book from the library on the topic to educate myself.  According to my research, one does not "paint" the eggs as Babushka does in the story, but like the creation of an icon, one "writes" the eggs.  By coating the egg in beeswax designs and repeatedly dyeing it in stronger and stronger colors, you (and hopefully I) can make eggs that look like these.



The Jesus Garden:  An Easter Legend by Antoinette Bosco is published by some of great ladies over at the Daughters of St. Paul. The Jesus Garden is the story of the cross and the resurrection.  On Easter Sunday, Jesus appears in the garden and transforms some of the trees and flowers because of how they grieved for him during his Passion.  It's a neat story about the garden, and gives religious meanings to plants that I had not known about.  Jill just wants to look at the bunnies and squirrels, but maybe when she's older she'll let me read the whole thing to her.

Do you know of any eggsellent (sorry, I just couldn't help myself) children's books for/about Easter?  Share with us in the comments!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Civil Rights Fiction for Kids


The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine is another bright star in the cluster of historical fiction books for kids that centers on the Civil Rights movement in this country.  This sub-genre has been an extremely popular setting in the publishing world for awhile now.  Anyone who wanted to do a homeschooling unit on the Civil Rights movement would have no problem finding novels to supplement or instruct.

Though it's not my all time favorite historical period, (that being WWII) the 50s and 60s in our Southern states was another epic time of good versus evil, a time of great challenges and risks to the downtrodden and their champions, black or white.

The Lions of Little Rock is about shy, taciturn, twelve year old Marlee.  She is the youngest of three children.    Sixth grade is beginning, her oldest brother is going away to college and her best friend, and only confidant, her sister, Judy is starting high school.  But then the city of Little Rock shuts down all of the high schools to stop de-segregation.  Judy can take correspondence courses via broadcast lessons on the TV, but she gets sent to Pine Bluff to live with her grandmother and attend school there.  

The author's note tells a lot about this "lost year" in Little Rock history where the public high schools remained closed all year.  Marlee's parents are both teachers.  Her father supports de-segregation, but her mother feels that the city (and perhaps she, herself) isn't ready yet.  There's a lot of political maneuvering to  get a private school open for white kids that's actually funded with the state's money.  And Marlee's parents disagree about whether or not they should teach at the new school.

Marlee makes a new friend, Liz.  Liz encourages Marlee to speak up more in class and convinces her to give half of their oral presentation for class.  On presentation day however, Liz does not show up for class.  She is actually black and has been "passing" as white to go to a better school.  Once her secret was discovered, Liz can no longer attend the white school, and now that she attends the black school, she is shunned by her classmates and teachers. 

Marlee and Liz, though forbidden, continue their friendship with secret phone calls and meeting at the Little Rock Zoo, which is across the street from Marlee's home.  They are disobedient in doing so.  Their actions have consequence, and both families are put in danger when the local bully, son of a Klansman, finds some old dynamite and plans to use it.  There is an explosion, it is scary, but not too much for your average 4th or 5th grader.

Marlee becomes more brave in her home life, joining the Little Rock Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools.  She and her family, together with their friends from the black community, campaign very hard to elect new school board members, to re-instate all of the school employees who were terminated because of their pro-segregation stance (including Marlee's father) and to open Little Rock's high schools.

Historical, political, poignant, and dangerous, The Lions of Little Rock is a great story of that time.  I can't give away any endings.  It's worth noting that The Lions of Little Rock does an excellent job focusing on a little explored piece of history (Little Rock's lost year) and the way blacks and whites worked together to better society.  


Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith is another novel that addresses the subject of "passing."  "Passing" is when a light-skinned black person would "pass" themselves off as white.  In Flygirl, Ida Mae Jones "passes" to attend the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program in 1941 Texas.  Though Ida Mae Jones is already an accomplished pilot, having learned on her father's crop duster, the WASP program is Whites Only.  

In Flygirl, I learned that "passing" involved severing all contact with your friends and family, lest you be discovered, while being very discreet in your new life.  It was risky and lonely.  



Another good title set in this time period is Yankee Girl by Mary Ann Rodman, which I reviewed back in 2008,


Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan, is the tale of a girl and her recently widowed mother who move to Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 to be near her father's family. When her art history instructor mother gives a guest presentation at the black college, they invoke the ire of the local racists.  I read this book a long time ago, and I remember that Sam's mother becomes romantically involved with a photo-journalist who ends up getting beaten to death after a voter registration drive.  Could be too scary/violent for young or sensitive readers.


A Friendship for Today by Patricia C. McKissack is set in Missouri, 1954.  Twelve year old Rosemary Patterson and her best friend J.J. are to be the first black students at their new school, since the Supreme Court closed the "colored" school.  J.J. ends up hospitalized with polio, and Rosemary is bullied and friendless until her greatest enemy, Grace, the poor white trash girl from a racist family becomes her friend.


The Watson's Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis combines humor with history.  I love the scene is the beginning of the novel where nine year old Kenny's older brother, Byron, practices his kissing techniques on the family car's side view mirror.  Unfortunately, kissing a mirror outside in winter in Flint, Michigan, means your lips get ripped off on the frozen glass. 

When Byron starts hanging out with wrong crowd, his parents decide to relocate him to his grandmother's house in Birmingham, Alabama.  While in Birmingham, Grandma's church is firebombed.  The scenes which follow could be disturbing for sensitive readers, you can read detailed descriptions of them here.

I'm sure this list is far from complete, so feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments please.

Friday, February 15, 2013

7QT First Friday in Lent

1.  Boring Whiny Summary of Everyone's Week



What a week!  Monday's papal announcement, Tuesday's paczkis, Wednesday's ashes and fasting, Thursday's Valentines...I'm exhausted!  Thank the Lord it's a three day weekend.

My SIL said yesterday that she loves Valentines Day because it means February is half over.  Amen, sistah.

2.  Easiest meatless meal ever, courtesy of Trader Joe's:


Lemon-Pepper Pappardelle with Tuna and Capers (great title.)

one 8 oz. package of lemon pepper pappardelle, cooked according to package directions
two 7 oz. can of tuna in olive oil, undrained  
lots of capers

Mix all ingredients.
The end.

All you have to do is boil pasta.  Open one can (The olive oil gets dumped in too.) and one jar and your done! 

I have made this in hotel rooms while on vacation.  It only serves 4 or 3 of my pasta-loving people, so I have to triple it.  You can only get lemon-pepper pappardelle at Trader Joe's, as far as I know.  The Chef has made it with regular pappardelle, a drained can of diced tomatoes, capers, olive oil and garlic and no tuna, because he's my pickiest eater.  He likes to complicate things.  I suppose you could complicate things too and add some fresh lemon juice and fresh Italian parsley.  But then, you'd have a bigger mess, too.  


Oh, you think you've seen this quick take before?  Perhaps you have.

3.  Ad for my husband's business.

Fr. Barron and the good folks at WOF (the Chef included) are almost ready to release Catholicism:  The New Evangelization.  Here's a taste:



4. Ad for someone else's business

Looking ahead to Easter, perhaps you'd like to purchase some of your Easter basket goodies at a fine online shop run by Catholics, who do not purchase products from China, but who are going out of business on February 28th.  Check out http://www.aquinasandmore.com/.  Most of their items are currently 20% off.

Child's Boxed Multi-Colored Rosary

I know a little girl who is probably going to get the wooden, non-toxic kiddie rosary, because the nice old man from daily Mass is tired of fixing our metal rosaries in exchange for cookies....or is he?

5. Bragging about my kids again.

Here is a trailer for the musical Lucy and Edmund are in.  If you watch it, (it's only 3 minutes) you will catch some of Lucy's vocal audition and at the very end you can see Edmund flip a fedora Neil Caffrey/White Collar style.  My kid's got moves.


6.  Photo filler


My 10 year old nephew made the above Valentines.  One is for me and one is for the Chef.  It would appear from looking at these that the Chef has more interests and hobbies than I do.  What the artist was trying to convey is that I am a women of style, and I accessorize well, whereas the Chef is a good skater and cook, and he loves big lamb shanks with a side of asparagus.  Obviously.

7.  One more photo filler.


I tried to get a picture of my very crabby Valentine, and she got photobombed by our dog.  He looks so much happier than she does.  He wasn't as happy when she covered him with Valentine stickers, but he's a good sport.

Go see Jen for more and better quick takes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Theme Thursday: Trees or Branches


Exp:1/1000, F5.7, ISO400

Today we are NOT going to talk about manual focus vs. autofocus, or how badly I need a tripod.

We are going to talk about ISO.

I don't know what it stands for, but it used to be the number that corresponded to the sensitivity of film to light.

I'm not using film anymore.  I heard Kodak made their last roll of Kodachrome.  So now, ISO refers to the sensitivity of the image sensor in your camera to light.  Frankly, I don't think I'd be fooling around so much on my huuuuuuge learning curve if I had to buy film and pay for developing all of my errors.

I have to make analogies for all of this scientific mumbo jumbo, so after mulling this over, I came to the conclusion that ISO is like skin tone.  The higher the ISO, the more SPF that film or image sensor would need if it were a person.

That doesn't make sense.  Yet.

Someone with 1600 ISO or above is very Irish, super white, never tans, only burns, maybe freckles and burns, but he only comes in two colors:  white or red.  He is VERY sensitive to light.

ISO1600

High ISOs are very good in low light settings, indoor sporting events, churches, museums, plays and other no-flash zones, and blowing out the candles shots. High ISOs don't do well in broad daylight.  High ISOs let you use faster shutter speeds and smaller apertures, like a tiny pale white Irish speed demon.

In addition to light sensitivity, high ISOs are noisier.  Like Irish people, or Gingers.  Noise or grain refers to the undesirable snowy tv effect on a bad digital image.  Wikipedia shows a good example.  I cannot read that definition though.  Super techy.

According to that link I've been using to learn as I go, "100 ISO is generally accepted as ‘normal’ and will give you lovely crisp shots (little noise/grain)."


ISO 100

A 100 ISO was too dark for this shot though.  Maybe because it was a cloudy day.  This tan ISO was too leathery to pick up what I needed to see.



ISO200 but sunny
The sun peeked out.  I was constantly hitting that WB button, the one that stands for White Balance, and clicking back and forth between the cloud and the sun.  

Here's the same shot below but better:



still ISO 200


I'm not sure why this one looks so much better than the one above.  Maybe because this one had the correct white balance and the sun in the above one took me off guard.  This could be the winner.

ISO400


Here is a slight more sensitive ISO400.  Susan's looking a little pale, but you can't see all of the bags under her eyes.  She''s just recovered from the stomach flu at this time, and I think that this shot looked the most like reality.  Whether or not that's the goal of photography is up for debate.

ISO800


I wanted to test all of my ISOs, just to be sure.  Yep, ISO800 is like a daywalker. According to Urban Dictionary,
The Daywalker is a Ginger that does not burn in direct sunlight. Hated by true Gingers, the Daywalker can sustain extended periods in sunlight and even has traces of a soul. Because they are still part Ginger, freckles may or may not be present.Ben, the Daywalker, went out during the day to buy his Ginger sister a sunlight umbrella, so she wouldn't have to take night classes.

Somewhat sensitive to light, ISO800 is probably great on really overcast day, or indoors in a normally lit environment.

In summary,

High ISO = High Sensitivity to Light = Faster Shutter Speed Ability (action shots) = Smaller Aperture (or light hole) enabling you to take nice photos in low light.

Everything I read on the web when I google "benefits of tiny aperture" mentions something called "depth of field."  I took a 4 hour photography class called "Getting to Know Your DSLR"  two years ago.  I was in waaaay over my head, as most of the participants were professional photographers who had recently switched to DLSR from old school fancy cameras.  Would you believe the  instructor kept using his photos from BILLBOARDS in his presentation?  I took pages and pages of notes, and on every page I wrote "DOF" several times.  DOF is depth of field.  

I still don't know what it is or how to use it.  I'll figure it out, maybe not by next week.  But, I'll let you in on the big secret in layman's terms when I do.  Belt sizes, SPF, light holes, it's what I do.  It's the only way it makes sense to me in my head.   

Friday, February 8, 2013

7QT Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita

1.


Today is St. Josephine Bakhita's Feast Day!  She is the patron saint of Baby J.  Speaking of Baby J, I'm starting to call her Jill on this here blog.  As in Jill Pole, also of Narnia fame.  She's the star of The Silver Chair.  Should she have been a boy, we'd be calling her Eustace, who remains one of my all-time favorite Narnia characters.

I've been asked, twice or thrice, if I really named my kids after the Narnia kids, and the answer is no.  I just don't want college admissions counselors googling Peter's real name and reading my post about how he got busted for smoking a cigar on the March for Life, or how after he broke his arm the inside of his cast smelled like cologne and butt.  I'm making a gesture to protect their privacy.

2.  Today is also Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday!



How I love Laura.  She gave me my phobia of mice, my love of ham, her sister Mary's belief that blondes are loved more than brunettes, and my love of children's literature.

We had a fabulous trip to her Rocky Ridge home in Mansfield, Missouri a few years ago.  You should totally go to there someday.  I thought I blogged about our trip once upon a time, but I cannot find it.  Upcoming post idea!  Spoiler alert:  Almanzo had several older and younger sibs who were never even mentioned in Farmer Boy!  Some of whom were already married and had children of their own.

3.  Etsy Catholic



Have you liked them on Facebook yet?  Catholic artists making Catholic art.  You can find some beautiful stuff there, like my mom's friend's shop of handmade Holy Communion dresses, personalized Christening blankets, and more.  Embroidered Heirlooms.  Gorgeous stuff.


4.  My favorite app for iPhone.



Spelling is especially difficult for my dyslexic student.  Time for studying when the tutoring is over and the homework is done is hard to find.  I did a search for an iPhone app and I found A+ Spelling.

Anyone can enter the words and record them, then Edmund can study in the car or anywhere.  There are some different kinds of activities like Unscramble and Ace It and Practice Tests.  Extra bonus:  if he forgets to bring home the words to study the night before the test, I've already got them in my phone.

The recording of the words is the fun part in our opinion.  I used to do it, clearly enunciating the syllables etc.  Then I started letting Edmund record the words himself.  Next thing I knew, he was using goofy voices and accents.  Now, Jill can say some of those words, so she lisps some of the list for us, like "berries"  or "dresses."

5.  I lied.  This is my favorite app for iPhone.


With the RunPee app, I know exactly when to use the restroom at the movie theater.  The app tells you when the lamest parts of the movie are, how long they are, and what you miss while you're gone.

I've used this app for years.  Also, the app gives great cues about when to leave.  For instance, during Les Miserables, the app told me to watch for the scene where Marius asks Eponine to find Cosette for him, then he goes to the cafe and meets with the revolutionaries.  I had five minutes and I was going to miss the Red and Black song which is reprised several more times so no biggie.  When I got up at the point in the movie, it was interesting to see how many other movie goers were using the same app.  Total:  one, which  is fine by me, because I don't want to wait in line during my RunPee break.

6.   A Flu Take, skip if you're squeamish.

I should never have mocked the Puke Fates on Sunday.  I set myself up big time by stocking up on clear gatorade, saltines, and Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup.  I even prepped my stomach by only eating ice cream on Wednesday.  But I was a day too soon.



Wednesday night, starved for nutrition I made Baked Kale Chips, which I've had before and love(d).
My love affair with Baked Kale Chips has come to a tragic ending.

Everyone has been hit except one.  I'm praying that the girl who just got her braces off, the girl who missed her appointment to get her retainer yesterday because there was a blizzard, the girl who has to be at the orthodontist at 9am tomorrow, the girl who is taking a boy to the Turnabout Dance tomorrow night, either gets sick right now!  Or waits until Sunday.  St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.

7.  Cari over at Clan Donaldson keeps inspiring me to do things I never thought I could do.
Let's start with her Virtual 5K last August.  I don't do running, but I did sign up for that Boot Camp class and have been going twice a week for six months.  You might not think that's a big deal, but I have never been physically active, due to Exercised Induced Asthma, Exercise Induced Hunger, Exercise Induced Fatigue and Chronic Clutz Syndrome.  But now, you should see my shoulder definition!

And now Cari's doing these Theme Thursday photography link ups.  As you can tell, I don't do a lot of photography.  I prefer downloaded internet pics which is probably illegal.

I'm still growing into my "big girl camera."  But I started doing the link-ups and writing my step-by-step foibles, and then she done gone and made one of her quick takes about me, so tit for tat.  Or an eye for an eye.  She's forcing me out of my comfort zone again with this photography stuff.

Next thing you know, she'll have me making my own pizza, or memes, or who knows what could happen next on this train of glee and terror, but mostly glee.

* I am not watching that video she put in her quick takes.  I learned my lesson yesterday when I looked up Downton Abbey spoilers.  Just say No.

Go See Jen for more, and better.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Theme Thursday: Happiness or Joy

50mm lens, ISO400, F1.8, Exp1/60th because that's the slowest speed for jittery hands.

I went looking for happiness today, but all I found was fine whine.  You get what you give, I suppose.

Hey, tomorrow is TGIM, or Thank God It's March!

One good thing about February,

ISO 400, F5, Exp1/250


 LAMBS!

The Chef took some of my people to the local 1800's farm to see "aminals!"

Of course, he had to custom white balance first.  I have a Canon Rebel EOS and to custom White Balance, FIRST you take a picture of something white.  Contrary to what I thought, you don't need to fill the frame with white, just the middle part.
Sunny 16: ISO400, F4, Exp1/4000

Before adjusting the white balance.  Pretty cool, huh?  Like the Hunger Games or something.  

Then he took this picture:



She's holding a receipt he found in his pocket.
First, he pressed that WB button and made sure the wierd dot above two wedges was selected for "Custom."
Then, he went to Menu, scrolled down to Custom White Balance and pressed Set.  The camera automatically selects the most recent picture (this one above) and asks to use the data.  Select yes.

The next pictures turned out a little differently.




So when I whipped out the camera this morning, I had to repeat those steps.


And when I chased Jill into the kitchen, I moved from tungsten light to flourescent light, and rather than switch the WB setting from custom to the parallel fluoroscent bulb-like lines, I customized the WB again.


I was hoping for a glimmer of joy, but my clementines must be sour or something.


This guy looks pretty joyful though.

I did auto correct him a little in PSE, otherwise you would see the perpetual gloom here.
Go see Cari and the others for actual joy, happiness, and rainbows.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What We're Reading Wednesday - Newberys!!!!


We enjoyed The Warrior Heir trilogy so much, I checked out The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima (also recommended by Seven Little Australians).  You can read a good summary here.

Contrary to what you might think, there are no demons in The Demon King. As I mentioned back in January, Demonai is the name of one of the Native American-ish clans struggling to balance power with the wizard race.

Our hero, Han, is definitely attracted to Digging Bird, noticing her legs, but that's about it. Princess Raisa enjoys spending time locking lips with young wizard, Micah.  At one point, both Raisa and Micah are consumed with uncontrollable passion.  Good thing her bodyguard noticed they were being controlled by magical items, before it was too late and she was "ruined" Lady Mary style.  Lots of kissing, but that's it.

I enjoyed the book, but silly me, I expected some kind of resolution by the end, when in actuality, The Demon King is only the beginning of a much bigger and longer tale.



Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage is about Miss Moses LoBeau and her unlikely foster parents, The Colonel and Miss Lana.  Moses, or Mo, was washed up on shore as an infant after a hurricane, hence the name.  In addition to her ongoing search for her upstream mother, she starts her own detective agency with her best friend to solve a murder, an old bank robbery's missing loot, and Miss Lana's kidnapping.  It's a wild adventure, filled with great characters.  Also, it was one of the Newbery nominees this year.


Another Newbery nominee, What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt was a little confusing.  The story begins in a far away galaxy.  There is an alien race, the Valorim, struggling under the crushing heel of a master villain and his alien minions, with loads of foreign vocabulary and big mouthful names.  It would have been VERY helpful at this point if I had noticed there was a GLOSSARY to help with all of that.  Doh.

Every other chapter alternates between the Valorim's struggle to save their knowledge and art, to the New England town where Tommy Pepper and his family live.  The Valorim put all of their knowledge into a necklace and send it away.  It ends up in Tommy Pepper's lunch box.

Tommy's fighting his own battles.  His little sister hasn't spoken since their mother died. Dad is struggling with grief and the local real estate company that wants to demolish their home to build condos.  And now, wearing the necklace, he's exhibiting some strange powers and attracting some very bad characters who know what the necklace is and want it for themselves.

I love Gary D. Schmidt, and I love everything he's written (especially Straw into Gold), (though I do think Okay for Now isn't suitable for kids).  This book was academically hard to handle though.  The vocabulary and names are very difficult, even for me, and I'm a member of the Rohirrim, plus I speak Elvish and can read the Black Speech of Mordor.  However, if I had known about the Glossary (smacks forehead)  I am certain I would have been much happier.


And The Newbery Medal went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  Based on the sad but true story of a gorilla that was kept in the same enclosure for twenty-seven years, in a mall, The One and Only Ivan is told from Ivan's point of view.  STOP HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ SPOILERS!

When his best friend Stella (an elephant) died of neglect, her last request was that Ivan not let the new baby elephant, Ruby, meet the same fate.  Ivan, who had given up hope of ever changing anything begins to live like a silverback again, which is to protect another.

Poignant and powerful.  Don't think this is a "All humans are bad." kind of book.   Even the animals recognize the difference between humans.  And the good ones win in the end.

For the Win.  Literally.  (Pun intended.)

Am I the only one who gets waaaay more excited about the Newberys than the Oscars? Thought so.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Woweee Kazowee!

Notice anything different about this blog today?

Yes, we have a header like real grown-up blogs do.

Special thanks to the Gifted One who created it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

7QT Feast of the Chair of Peter

1.

I still need to figure out how to make the text bigger and one hundred thousand other things.

2.  I'm not planning to edit my photos very often.  I just want to be able to do stuff like that, and like this.

Kudos to Cari Donaldson for talking me through my First Little Tikes Photoshop Collage.

3.  I was out until 10:30pm last night taking a 3 hour class called Making Sense of Your Camera.

mind.  blown.

I feel like I should delete everything I've ever written about photography.  Not that what I said isn't true, I just didn't have all of the facts.

I haven't posted an Architecture post for Theme Thursday this week, because every picture I took was super stinky.  Let's see what I can do now that I know the secrets of the photography universe (level 1).  I think I can do better.

This is like me with a camera.

4.  A few things I learned last night:

If your biggest print is going to be an 8x10, you only NEED 6 megapixels.  Total.

I used to think megapixels looked like this.

If you only need 6 megapixels, you never need to shoot in RAW.  The file will be huuuge and you will need 50 computers plus extra conversion software to convert the files to images.  Silly.

Sometimes, you can/should use a flash on a bright sunny day.  It will illuminate shadows, under baseball caps etc, and create "catchlights" in the eyes of the photographed.

There is a magic formula called Sunny 16 that works on bright sunny days.  It also works at night, when you're on the viewing deck of the Hancock shooting a city scape.

I NEED to buy some lens protector thingys for each of my lenses so I can throw away my lens caps and always be ready to take a photograph.  Also, photography instructors will call you a dork if you show up with your lens caps on.

5.  We Chicagoans are hard core.  We haven't had a snow day in years.  A few years ago, we got 11 inches in one night.  Our school was open bright and early.

Last night Tom Skilling predicted 7 to 9 inches of snow.  I passed many snow plows on my way home from camera class last night.

We got three inches.  wah-wah.

Today, all three of our schools are open.  No snow days for us warriors.

(I have to be all braggy swagger and bad a$$, because that's how I cope when I want to put my head down and weep.)

6.  I have a compulsion wherein everything (or nearly everything) I pin on Pinterest must become a reality in the near future.

With the exception of my "Basement Re-do" board, but that's the money's fault, not mine.

So when I pinned the Moist Whole Wheat Banana Bread recipe, it was because I already had a bunch of super ripe bananas and a bag of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat (outdated by 2 months).



It was the greatest banana bread ever.

It was so delicious, I invested in the mega-bag of whole wheat flour from Costcos.  Hit me with more awesome whole wheat recipes, preferably not the rising and kneading kind.  Gracias!

7.  I've got big plans for this ole blog.  There's a new header waiting to be mounted, lots of book reviews simmering in the background, a couple of giveaways lined up, and more and better photography!  Until then, I hope your weekend is a lot like this:

 
Go see Jen for more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What We're Reading Wednesday: Picture Books


I read about twenty thousand picture books a week to Jill.  Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little.  My library account shows that I have nearly 60 items checked out at this time.  Plus, I recently resurrected my vast collection of every Little Golden Book ever written to occupy lap time with Jill, because she is not going "night-night" (our word for nursing) anymore. Huzzah!  I am the only one who loathes the word, "weaning?"

Anywho, I read lots of picture books, many of which are perfectly lovely and delightful, but I am not really inspired to blog about most of them.  Here is one exception.

I am trying to teach Jill that there are other colors besides "peent." (pink)  Picture books about colors are ubiquitous but Edward Gibbs' I Spy with My Little Eye has to be hands down my favorite.  This oversized picture book combines color education with Jill's all-time favorite subject, ANIMALS!  Plus, every page has a hole in it, peeking at the next page, incorporating the next pages's illustation in a very cool way.  The end of the book has another hole for you to peek out of.  Jill uses it all the time and giggles like mad.  I love everything about this book, the illustrations, the colors, the peeky holes.  If you have a toddler, you will both enjoy this book.


I was asked a few weeks ago what Easter books would I recommend for the toddler set.  Honestly, I didn't know of anything besides the The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward, and I'm not a huge fan of that book anyway.  So, I started investigating and I've found two books about Easter that Jill and I really like.

Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco is the story of Babushka, wounded goose she finds in the snow, and the magnificent painted eggs she brings to the fair in Moskva each year.  While not specifically about the Paschal mystery, the illustrations show wonderful reproductions of the icons that Babuska has in her home.

For me, the most important thing about a picture book is the pictures.  Jill doesn't let me read all of the text everytime anyway.  Patricia Polacco's books have FABULOUS pictures.


Just look at that close up of Babushka.  See how the rich watercolor clothing contrasts with the detailed pencil drawn skin.  Yes, that's a mole next to her nose.  Can you just feel her soft wrinkly hands?  This is Art.

I was first introduced to Patricia Polacco when Edmund's tutor recommended her autobiographical story, Thank You Mr. Falker, because like Edmund, Ms. Polacco is dyslexic too.

I am puzzled by one thing in Rechenka's Eggs though.  If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have noticed that I pinned Hearthsong's Ukrainian Egg Making Kit to make my own psyanky eggs this year.  My kit has arrived and I got every book from the library on the topic to educate myself.  According to my research, one does not "paint" the eggs as Babushka does in the story, but like the creation of an icon, one "writes" the eggs.  By coating the egg in beeswax designs and repeatedly dyeing it in stronger and stronger colors, you (and hopefully I) can make eggs that look like these.



The Jesus Garden:  An Easter Legend by Antoinette Bosco is published by some of great ladies over at the Daughters of St. Paul. The Jesus Garden is the story of the cross and the resurrection.  On Easter Sunday, Jesus appears in the garden and transforms some of the trees and flowers because of how they grieved for him during his Passion.  It's a neat story about the garden, and gives religious meanings to plants that I had not known about.  Jill just wants to look at the bunnies and squirrels, but maybe when she's older she'll let me read the whole thing to her.

Do you know of any eggsellent (sorry, I just couldn't help myself) children's books for/about Easter?  Share with us in the comments!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Civil Rights Fiction for Kids


The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine is another bright star in the cluster of historical fiction books for kids that centers on the Civil Rights movement in this country.  This sub-genre has been an extremely popular setting in the publishing world for awhile now.  Anyone who wanted to do a homeschooling unit on the Civil Rights movement would have no problem finding novels to supplement or instruct.

Though it's not my all time favorite historical period, (that being WWII) the 50s and 60s in our Southern states was another epic time of good versus evil, a time of great challenges and risks to the downtrodden and their champions, black or white.

The Lions of Little Rock is about shy, taciturn, twelve year old Marlee.  She is the youngest of three children.    Sixth grade is beginning, her oldest brother is going away to college and her best friend, and only confidant, her sister, Judy is starting high school.  But then the city of Little Rock shuts down all of the high schools to stop de-segregation.  Judy can take correspondence courses via broadcast lessons on the TV, but she gets sent to Pine Bluff to live with her grandmother and attend school there.  

The author's note tells a lot about this "lost year" in Little Rock history where the public high schools remained closed all year.  Marlee's parents are both teachers.  Her father supports de-segregation, but her mother feels that the city (and perhaps she, herself) isn't ready yet.  There's a lot of political maneuvering to  get a private school open for white kids that's actually funded with the state's money.  And Marlee's parents disagree about whether or not they should teach at the new school.

Marlee makes a new friend, Liz.  Liz encourages Marlee to speak up more in class and convinces her to give half of their oral presentation for class.  On presentation day however, Liz does not show up for class.  She is actually black and has been "passing" as white to go to a better school.  Once her secret was discovered, Liz can no longer attend the white school, and now that she attends the black school, she is shunned by her classmates and teachers. 

Marlee and Liz, though forbidden, continue their friendship with secret phone calls and meeting at the Little Rock Zoo, which is across the street from Marlee's home.  They are disobedient in doing so.  Their actions have consequence, and both families are put in danger when the local bully, son of a Klansman, finds some old dynamite and plans to use it.  There is an explosion, it is scary, but not too much for your average 4th or 5th grader.

Marlee becomes more brave in her home life, joining the Little Rock Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools.  She and her family, together with their friends from the black community, campaign very hard to elect new school board members, to re-instate all of the school employees who were terminated because of their pro-segregation stance (including Marlee's father) and to open Little Rock's high schools.

Historical, political, poignant, and dangerous, The Lions of Little Rock is a great story of that time.  I can't give away any endings.  It's worth noting that The Lions of Little Rock does an excellent job focusing on a little explored piece of history (Little Rock's lost year) and the way blacks and whites worked together to better society.  


Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith is another novel that addresses the subject of "passing."  "Passing" is when a light-skinned black person would "pass" themselves off as white.  In Flygirl, Ida Mae Jones "passes" to attend the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program in 1941 Texas.  Though Ida Mae Jones is already an accomplished pilot, having learned on her father's crop duster, the WASP program is Whites Only.  

In Flygirl, I learned that "passing" involved severing all contact with your friends and family, lest you be discovered, while being very discreet in your new life.  It was risky and lonely.  



Another good title set in this time period is Yankee Girl by Mary Ann Rodman, which I reviewed back in 2008,


Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan, is the tale of a girl and her recently widowed mother who move to Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 to be near her father's family. When her art history instructor mother gives a guest presentation at the black college, they invoke the ire of the local racists.  I read this book a long time ago, and I remember that Sam's mother becomes romantically involved with a photo-journalist who ends up getting beaten to death after a voter registration drive.  Could be too scary/violent for young or sensitive readers.


A Friendship for Today by Patricia C. McKissack is set in Missouri, 1954.  Twelve year old Rosemary Patterson and her best friend J.J. are to be the first black students at their new school, since the Supreme Court closed the "colored" school.  J.J. ends up hospitalized with polio, and Rosemary is bullied and friendless until her greatest enemy, Grace, the poor white trash girl from a racist family becomes her friend.


The Watson's Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis combines humor with history.  I love the scene is the beginning of the novel where nine year old Kenny's older brother, Byron, practices his kissing techniques on the family car's side view mirror.  Unfortunately, kissing a mirror outside in winter in Flint, Michigan, means your lips get ripped off on the frozen glass. 

When Byron starts hanging out with wrong crowd, his parents decide to relocate him to his grandmother's house in Birmingham, Alabama.  While in Birmingham, Grandma's church is firebombed.  The scenes which follow could be disturbing for sensitive readers, you can read detailed descriptions of them here.

I'm sure this list is far from complete, so feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments please.

Friday, February 15, 2013

7QT First Friday in Lent

1.  Boring Whiny Summary of Everyone's Week



What a week!  Monday's papal announcement, Tuesday's paczkis, Wednesday's ashes and fasting, Thursday's Valentines...I'm exhausted!  Thank the Lord it's a three day weekend.

My SIL said yesterday that she loves Valentines Day because it means February is half over.  Amen, sistah.

2.  Easiest meatless meal ever, courtesy of Trader Joe's:


Lemon-Pepper Pappardelle with Tuna and Capers (great title.)

one 8 oz. package of lemon pepper pappardelle, cooked according to package directions
two 7 oz. can of tuna in olive oil, undrained  
lots of capers

Mix all ingredients.
The end.

All you have to do is boil pasta.  Open one can (The olive oil gets dumped in too.) and one jar and your done! 

I have made this in hotel rooms while on vacation.  It only serves 4 or 3 of my pasta-loving people, so I have to triple it.  You can only get lemon-pepper pappardelle at Trader Joe's, as far as I know.  The Chef has made it with regular pappardelle, a drained can of diced tomatoes, capers, olive oil and garlic and no tuna, because he's my pickiest eater.  He likes to complicate things.  I suppose you could complicate things too and add some fresh lemon juice and fresh Italian parsley.  But then, you'd have a bigger mess, too.  


Oh, you think you've seen this quick take before?  Perhaps you have.

3.  Ad for my husband's business.

Fr. Barron and the good folks at WOF (the Chef included) are almost ready to release Catholicism:  The New Evangelization.  Here's a taste:



4. Ad for someone else's business

Looking ahead to Easter, perhaps you'd like to purchase some of your Easter basket goodies at a fine online shop run by Catholics, who do not purchase products from China, but who are going out of business on February 28th.  Check out http://www.aquinasandmore.com/.  Most of their items are currently 20% off.

Child's Boxed Multi-Colored Rosary

I know a little girl who is probably going to get the wooden, non-toxic kiddie rosary, because the nice old man from daily Mass is tired of fixing our metal rosaries in exchange for cookies....or is he?

5. Bragging about my kids again.

Here is a trailer for the musical Lucy and Edmund are in.  If you watch it, (it's only 3 minutes) you will catch some of Lucy's vocal audition and at the very end you can see Edmund flip a fedora Neil Caffrey/White Collar style.  My kid's got moves.


6.  Photo filler


My 10 year old nephew made the above Valentines.  One is for me and one is for the Chef.  It would appear from looking at these that the Chef has more interests and hobbies than I do.  What the artist was trying to convey is that I am a women of style, and I accessorize well, whereas the Chef is a good skater and cook, and he loves big lamb shanks with a side of asparagus.  Obviously.

7.  One more photo filler.


I tried to get a picture of my very crabby Valentine, and she got photobombed by our dog.  He looks so much happier than she does.  He wasn't as happy when she covered him with Valentine stickers, but he's a good sport.

Go see Jen for more and better quick takes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Theme Thursday: Trees or Branches


Exp:1/1000, F5.7, ISO400

Today we are NOT going to talk about manual focus vs. autofocus, or how badly I need a tripod.

We are going to talk about ISO.

I don't know what it stands for, but it used to be the number that corresponded to the sensitivity of film to light.

I'm not using film anymore.  I heard Kodak made their last roll of Kodachrome.  So now, ISO refers to the sensitivity of the image sensor in your camera to light.  Frankly, I don't think I'd be fooling around so much on my huuuuuuge learning curve if I had to buy film and pay for developing all of my errors.

I have to make analogies for all of this scientific mumbo jumbo, so after mulling this over, I came to the conclusion that ISO is like skin tone.  The higher the ISO, the more SPF that film or image sensor would need if it were a person.

That doesn't make sense.  Yet.

Someone with 1600 ISO or above is very Irish, super white, never tans, only burns, maybe freckles and burns, but he only comes in two colors:  white or red.  He is VERY sensitive to light.

ISO1600

High ISOs are very good in low light settings, indoor sporting events, churches, museums, plays and other no-flash zones, and blowing out the candles shots. High ISOs don't do well in broad daylight.  High ISOs let you use faster shutter speeds and smaller apertures, like a tiny pale white Irish speed demon.

In addition to light sensitivity, high ISOs are noisier.  Like Irish people, or Gingers.  Noise or grain refers to the undesirable snowy tv effect on a bad digital image.  Wikipedia shows a good example.  I cannot read that definition though.  Super techy.

According to that link I've been using to learn as I go, "100 ISO is generally accepted as ‘normal’ and will give you lovely crisp shots (little noise/grain)."


ISO 100

A 100 ISO was too dark for this shot though.  Maybe because it was a cloudy day.  This tan ISO was too leathery to pick up what I needed to see.



ISO200 but sunny
The sun peeked out.  I was constantly hitting that WB button, the one that stands for White Balance, and clicking back and forth between the cloud and the sun.  

Here's the same shot below but better:



still ISO 200


I'm not sure why this one looks so much better than the one above.  Maybe because this one had the correct white balance and the sun in the above one took me off guard.  This could be the winner.

ISO400


Here is a slight more sensitive ISO400.  Susan's looking a little pale, but you can't see all of the bags under her eyes.  She''s just recovered from the stomach flu at this time, and I think that this shot looked the most like reality.  Whether or not that's the goal of photography is up for debate.

ISO800


I wanted to test all of my ISOs, just to be sure.  Yep, ISO800 is like a daywalker. According to Urban Dictionary,
The Daywalker is a Ginger that does not burn in direct sunlight. Hated by true Gingers, the Daywalker can sustain extended periods in sunlight and even has traces of a soul. Because they are still part Ginger, freckles may or may not be present.Ben, the Daywalker, went out during the day to buy his Ginger sister a sunlight umbrella, so she wouldn't have to take night classes.

Somewhat sensitive to light, ISO800 is probably great on really overcast day, or indoors in a normally lit environment.

In summary,

High ISO = High Sensitivity to Light = Faster Shutter Speed Ability (action shots) = Smaller Aperture (or light hole) enabling you to take nice photos in low light.

Everything I read on the web when I google "benefits of tiny aperture" mentions something called "depth of field."  I took a 4 hour photography class called "Getting to Know Your DSLR"  two years ago.  I was in waaaay over my head, as most of the participants were professional photographers who had recently switched to DLSR from old school fancy cameras.  Would you believe the  instructor kept using his photos from BILLBOARDS in his presentation?  I took pages and pages of notes, and on every page I wrote "DOF" several times.  DOF is depth of field.  

I still don't know what it is or how to use it.  I'll figure it out, maybe not by next week.  But, I'll let you in on the big secret in layman's terms when I do.  Belt sizes, SPF, light holes, it's what I do.  It's the only way it makes sense to me in my head.   

Friday, February 8, 2013

7QT Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita

1.


Today is St. Josephine Bakhita's Feast Day!  She is the patron saint of Baby J.  Speaking of Baby J, I'm starting to call her Jill on this here blog.  As in Jill Pole, also of Narnia fame.  She's the star of The Silver Chair.  Should she have been a boy, we'd be calling her Eustace, who remains one of my all-time favorite Narnia characters.

I've been asked, twice or thrice, if I really named my kids after the Narnia kids, and the answer is no.  I just don't want college admissions counselors googling Peter's real name and reading my post about how he got busted for smoking a cigar on the March for Life, or how after he broke his arm the inside of his cast smelled like cologne and butt.  I'm making a gesture to protect their privacy.

2.  Today is also Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday!



How I love Laura.  She gave me my phobia of mice, my love of ham, her sister Mary's belief that blondes are loved more than brunettes, and my love of children's literature.

We had a fabulous trip to her Rocky Ridge home in Mansfield, Missouri a few years ago.  You should totally go to there someday.  I thought I blogged about our trip once upon a time, but I cannot find it.  Upcoming post idea!  Spoiler alert:  Almanzo had several older and younger sibs who were never even mentioned in Farmer Boy!  Some of whom were already married and had children of their own.

3.  Etsy Catholic



Have you liked them on Facebook yet?  Catholic artists making Catholic art.  You can find some beautiful stuff there, like my mom's friend's shop of handmade Holy Communion dresses, personalized Christening blankets, and more.  Embroidered Heirlooms.  Gorgeous stuff.


4.  My favorite app for iPhone.



Spelling is especially difficult for my dyslexic student.  Time for studying when the tutoring is over and the homework is done is hard to find.  I did a search for an iPhone app and I found A+ Spelling.

Anyone can enter the words and record them, then Edmund can study in the car or anywhere.  There are some different kinds of activities like Unscramble and Ace It and Practice Tests.  Extra bonus:  if he forgets to bring home the words to study the night before the test, I've already got them in my phone.

The recording of the words is the fun part in our opinion.  I used to do it, clearly enunciating the syllables etc.  Then I started letting Edmund record the words himself.  Next thing I knew, he was using goofy voices and accents.  Now, Jill can say some of those words, so she lisps some of the list for us, like "berries"  or "dresses."

5.  I lied.  This is my favorite app for iPhone.


With the RunPee app, I know exactly when to use the restroom at the movie theater.  The app tells you when the lamest parts of the movie are, how long they are, and what you miss while you're gone.

I've used this app for years.  Also, the app gives great cues about when to leave.  For instance, during Les Miserables, the app told me to watch for the scene where Marius asks Eponine to find Cosette for him, then he goes to the cafe and meets with the revolutionaries.  I had five minutes and I was going to miss the Red and Black song which is reprised several more times so no biggie.  When I got up at the point in the movie, it was interesting to see how many other movie goers were using the same app.  Total:  one, which  is fine by me, because I don't want to wait in line during my RunPee break.

6.   A Flu Take, skip if you're squeamish.

I should never have mocked the Puke Fates on Sunday.  I set myself up big time by stocking up on clear gatorade, saltines, and Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup.  I even prepped my stomach by only eating ice cream on Wednesday.  But I was a day too soon.



Wednesday night, starved for nutrition I made Baked Kale Chips, which I've had before and love(d).
My love affair with Baked Kale Chips has come to a tragic ending.

Everyone has been hit except one.  I'm praying that the girl who just got her braces off, the girl who missed her appointment to get her retainer yesterday because there was a blizzard, the girl who has to be at the orthodontist at 9am tomorrow, the girl who is taking a boy to the Turnabout Dance tomorrow night, either gets sick right now!  Or waits until Sunday.  St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.

7.  Cari over at Clan Donaldson keeps inspiring me to do things I never thought I could do.
Let's start with her Virtual 5K last August.  I don't do running, but I did sign up for that Boot Camp class and have been going twice a week for six months.  You might not think that's a big deal, but I have never been physically active, due to Exercised Induced Asthma, Exercise Induced Hunger, Exercise Induced Fatigue and Chronic Clutz Syndrome.  But now, you should see my shoulder definition!

And now Cari's doing these Theme Thursday photography link ups.  As you can tell, I don't do a lot of photography.  I prefer downloaded internet pics which is probably illegal.

I'm still growing into my "big girl camera."  But I started doing the link-ups and writing my step-by-step foibles, and then she done gone and made one of her quick takes about me, so tit for tat.  Or an eye for an eye.  She's forcing me out of my comfort zone again with this photography stuff.

Next thing you know, she'll have me making my own pizza, or memes, or who knows what could happen next on this train of glee and terror, but mostly glee.

* I am not watching that video she put in her quick takes.  I learned my lesson yesterday when I looked up Downton Abbey spoilers.  Just say No.

Go See Jen for more, and better.