Tuesday, January 31, 2012

If you don't like the weather....

Give it ten minutes. Is there any place on earth that doesn't use that phrase to describe their weather?
This has been the winter that wasn't so far. Don't get me wrong, after 50+ years of living through Michigan winters, the charm of snow wears thin fairly quickly. I can still appreciate the beauty of giant flakes falling slowly to earth, but once they hit. Meh. Not so much.
But this January has been mostly dry and warm, and by warm I mean mid thirties to mid forties. Only a northern girl can appreciate those kind of temps as "warm"! Sunday saw the giant flakes falling softly and making a fluffy layer everywhere. Today, mid 50's weather turned everything into a delightfully balmy, but soupy mess.
I love how the snow shows up against the shed. I can see this will be the year of the great trim painting effort though. How can we love the chippy look in our homes so much when it looks this bad on a shed?
I'm rambling I know. I come home and putter. I haven't picked up the camera manual in at least 2 weeks. I can't get motivated to do much of anything this time of year. The doldrums of winter have set in and I look forward to wrapping myself in a blanket on the couch and dreaming the evening away.  Does the lack of sunshine affect you the same way?
One thing I know, January, with it's dark days and doldrum feeling is over. Tomorrow begins the shortest month of winter and then...Spring.
I. can't. wait.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I ♥ My Day Off

I meant to tell you all about the wonderful dinner we had with my niece last night. She flew in from New York, where she is attending culinary school, and baked a gorgeous and delicious Raspberry pistachio tart. I took lots of photos to share only to find this morning that the flash card for my camera was still in the computer from the last time I downloaded photos, so I have nothing to show you. I hate it when I do bone headed things like that. Sheesh. 
I have today off and  have decided to spend it doing some fun things I just haven't had time for until now. Making a Valentines banner with some felt and scraps was first on my list and  I was up bright and early at 5:30 a.m. to begin. I didn't mean to be up that early, but I find it nearly impossible to sleep in. So I grabbed a cup of coffee and got to work.
Coffee and crafting are a pretty perfect pairing at 5:30 a.m.  I had so much fun I plan to make a few more today, along with running some errands, catching up with all of you and maybe finding an old movie to watch. It's cold, it's grey, and I haven't had a day of indulgence for far too long.
What's your favorite way to do nothing?
Linking with

Friday, January 20, 2012

Little Pots of Sunshine

Hmmmm, I think I may be substituting the color yellow to make up for the sunshine I'm missing. Not that we haven't had sunshine, but when you work in an office all day you miss a great deal of it.
This sunshine courtesy of my sweet Lauren who knows her mother never met a flower she didn't love ♥
Baby daffodils in a sunny window fairly glow don't you think? And no, I didn't even bump the color up on these photos!
I dropped them into a milk glass container just the right size for a little pot of sunshine.
This is a quick post, I still have dinner to cook, and I may make cupcakes for work tomorrow. People who work a snowy Saturday deserve cupcakes don't they?
Just a few things to share and then it's off to the kitchen.

First, I had a few inquiries about what camera I use. I found a Sony a100 a couple years ago at a great price. I just use the lens it came with, but more lenses are on my wish list.

Secondly, I have had a few people ask about the lemon cookie recipe from the last post. I found it on Pinterest, you can find it here, although if I made it again I would try it with 1/2 the recommended vanilla and the other half lemon extract for a little more lemon ooomph.

And lastly, if you want to dig into photography a little more without waiting for me to find the time for the next installment you might be interested in my photography pin board on Pinterest. I have flipped through some of these sites and there is some really great information to be gleaned

That's it for now, I'm off to cook and clean and then probably try very hard not to fall asleep on the sofa at 8:30. Wish me luck:>)
This weekend will be spent catching up on all the blog reading I missed this week, which was considerable, and working on some projects.
What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Photography 01

That's right, photography 01, because I still don't know enough about photography for it to be 101.  I have been playing with the manual, and even chatted online with the live tech support. I don't suggest you do that unless you have the manual in front of you (in which case why do you need tech support?) or you know what all the knobs and whistles are called.  I don't know what he had me doing, but it was completely different than what the manual told me.
Another tip, write down what the settings were before you change them. I didn't think to do that and had a moment of panic when after diddling with the settings all my photos came out black!
I still have a lot to learn, but I thought I would share what I have learned so far.
I can change the settings.
That is huge. Maybe not for those of you who are brave and confident, but for a technophobe who never met a manual that inspired more than a glance as she tossed it in a drawer somewhere, it's like mankind's first step on the moon. Seriously.
So here it is, my first foray into settings.  As luck would have it, my day off was met with rain and clouds. Dreary is really what I needed and it's what I got. So I shoved the table next to a north facing window and got busy. Lemon cookies were the subject, and I plan to reward my brave foray into photography with a few cookies and some coffee as soon as this post is done! This first shot was taken with the Auto setting. It's pretty dark, but I think that even with the settings changed in the following photos, they were all still dark enough that they needed editing. I didn't edit until the end so you could compare the settings untouched.
 This next photo was taken in manual mode with an iso of 400. Clearly, automatic does a pretty good job of adjusting for light on it's own.
 The iso was bumped up to 800 on this photo and you can clearly see the difference. Although, to me, the photo taken on Auto still looks a bit brighter. Don't you think?
 And on this photo I bumped the iso all the way to 1600.  I can see a difference but not as much as I thought there would be.
And finally, this is the iso 1600 photo after brightening it up in editing. I can see that the higher number does make it a bit grainier.
 This is the iso 400 photo after editing to make it brighter.  I like it better. It's clearer, the colors are more true. I clearly still have a lot to learn.  But it is these side by side comparisons that help me see the differences in the settings.  There are so many things to change and so many combinations! White balance, focus, I even found a setting to make the photos more vivid, I may try that next. 
The most important thing is, I have finally taken a step toward learning more about my camera and how it works. Will I still shoot on Auto a lot? probably. I think it does a fine job in good light. Most of the photos we post were shot on auto right? And I have seen some beautiful photos. But for when the conditions aren't great, winter, rainy days, dark rooms, I want to be able to compensate and still post a gorgeous picture. Anyone else out there pulling out the manual for the first time? Lets learn together! I have pinned some tutorials on a Photography board in pinterest. I'll be looking for tips and tricks online and occasionally posting what I find.  I hope it's an encouragement for someone else who is afraid of the settings to step out and try something too! From one amateur to another, maybe we can figure this out:>)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I've started a little cupcake paper collection, Michael's dollar bin is a favorite place for pretty papers, cheap and far cuter than what you can get at the grocery store. In the jar is the only way I'll be admiring these beauties for a while. Ahem. Still, they're a colorful touch on the counter and they leave me dreaming of spring with their bright florals and ruby red strawberries and cheery dots.
I finally found my camera manual just this morning. I've made a little list of areas in the house that need to be purged and the first place on my list, there were the manuals. Proof that cleaning and organizing can be beneficial:>) Tomorrow I'll sit down and start going through the basics. Time to really begin to understand what I'm doing when I point the lens at something!  How about you? Are you tackling anything new this month?

Monday, January 2, 2012

"In my dream, the Angel shrugged and said, "If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination." And then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand."
 A new year always feels kind of like that quote to me, like the possibilities are endless, like the world in my hand.  What difference can a day really make? We throw away an old calendar and replace it with a new one. Blank boxes with numbers but what has really changed? Our attitude? Our outlook? Is that all it really takes to leave the old behind and start new?  Whatever the reason, it is always as if the weight of the old year falls magically away at the stroke of twelve and the slate is wiped clean.
Would that it could be that way each day at the stroke of midnight!
The fluff and clutter, (lovely and welcome as it is on December 1!), has been swept away and the house feels fresher than ever. The red geranium that I couldn't bear to throw on the compost, is blooming better than it did last summer. The brilliant red and green a subtle reminder of the past season, but so fresh and glowing in the scant winter sunshine that it can't help but make me feel more like spring than anything else.
I'm on the mend, still getting over my cold but back to work and feeling better daily. Thank you all for your kind words and wishes :>)
We did go to our friends wedding on New Years Eve. We toasted and kissed the new year in with the happy couple and it was beautiful.
I had to show you their favor boxes.  Darling little chocolate robed cheesecake bites baked by none other than my talented husband at the request of the bride. Five hundred little one inch morsels were baked, cut and dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with tiny edible silver stars. Divine, if I do say so myself. That man has a thousand talents and he's all mine!
I am determined this month to spend some evenings watching the dvd that came with my DSLR camera and finally get a clue about how to use the settings rather than shooting on auto all the time. The darkest part of the year seems like the perfect time to practice don't you think? And since I'm now at work all day during the best light, if I don't learn soon, this blog is doomed to dismal photos 'til spring!  Anyone else out there who has no idea what the settings are for? If I'm teachable, I'll try to share in the simplest way possible what I learn. Maybe I can help someone else!
I'm off to the mall now, I need a new calendar!