Friday, July 31, 2015


A while back I took a picture of my birth sister's dog and posted it on Facebook. That led to a conversation with my co-worker where I offered to photograph her dog. I'd love to photograph pets more, but it's hard (they don't like to sit still - go figure) so I wanted to get some practice in.

Georgie was a great little dog to take pictures of and I was happy to provide my co-worker with pictures of her dog. I encouraged her get in some of the pictures because I think it's important to have pictures with our pets (plus, I wanted to capture her wonderfully bright and fun outfit).

Thanks Georgie and Marne!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Project 52 - Back Light - Week 30


A couple years ago all Riley wanted to do was go outside. Now I feel like I have to force her. It's too hot, there are bugs, there's no TV... *sigh*

The other day I forced her outside and we blew bubbles and actually had fun so I decided to practice taking pictures of bubbles. But Riley loves to pop all the bubbles so I had a hard time getting a shot before she plowed through them. Oh well, she was having fun.

Instead I decided to try a new technique I read about when taking a picture with back light. I shoot in manual and use the in camera meter to determine my settings. I'll meter off the face, but when you have bright back light it makes the face dark even though your camera might be telling you it's right on. Take this straight out of camera picture for example...

Her face is way too dark for my liking. I read that you want to raise your exposure as high as you can without blowing out the face (take a picture and then check your screen viewer with the 'blinkies' on. Raise you exposure and as long as they aren't on the face you are good.) Your background will be blown out, but that's not so important. I tried it again and here's the result straight out of camera...

Better, right? I still need to do some tweaking to this process, but am really excited to have learned something new and useful. I then did some editing in Lightroom and Photoshop and ended up with this...

So the moral of the story is that you can't always trust your camera. Play around with your settings and don't give up when something doesn't turn out quite right. You'll get it eventually - it took me years to figure this out... and so glad I did.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Project 52 - River Walk - Week 29


I've learned one thing about myself this past week - I can't live with out Photoshop. I know, very dramatic of me, but I shoot in raw and Lightroom only takes my pictures part way to my vision. I just neeeeed Photoshop. I do.

Let's back up... husband did some upgrades to my computer so I could actually use the ram sitting on my computer. Basically, ram didn't work with my system, system now updated and I am no longer cursing at my computer for it's archaically slow speed. Once my computer was back together I start to put everything back in place and I could not find the code for my Photoshop CS3. More curses. My tech savvy nephew says he can help get me CS5.5, but after a week and a half I totally crack and sign up for a 30 day trial run of Photoshop CC. Unlike previous versions of Photoshop where you just buy the product, CC is on a monthly membership which I hate, but will probably succumb to.

At any rate, I finally got to finish editing my pictures from last week. On Monday I had the day off (because I had to work on Saturday) and decided to take full advantage. I got a massage, walked around the river in my old neighborhood (which I have a special love for), and then ate lunch at the Aster Cafe all by myself. Wonderful. I hate working Saturdays, but it sure is worth it when I spend my alternate day off like this.

 Oh, Nordeast, how I love you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Family Time

Jesse's brother and his family have been gone for over a week so I thought I better get around to summarizing the rest of their visit before I forget. As a reminder, Jesse's brother, Rich is married to Susee and they have two boys, Mason (16), and Cade (almost 14). Three years ago they moved to Luxembourg for Rich's job and we've been able to see them at least once a year (they visited us twice, we went there once). We hope that we can keep the visits up, but not sure that's sustainable. Jesse did commit to saving up to back there again, but it might be a couple years yet. They plan to stay in Luxembourg for at least another 7 years and just bought a house so they seem pretty committed to that. I wish they were closer, but I guess it's nice to know that we have a place to stay when we want to visit Europe. In fact, Jesse's already told his brother that they will be watching Riley while he and I take a train off to France or Germany the next time we visit. Glad he's planning ahead

Anyhoo, I already talked about our boating adventures over the 4th of July weekend. A weird thing happened about an hour after I got off the boat - I got sea sick and it lasted at least a week. I did some research and there's a thing called land sickness that happens for some people after they get off a boat and that it could last a week or even months. I still get a little off feeling from time to time, but it's mostly gone. Apparently, it can get subsequently worse with additional boat rides so now I'm scared of ever getting on a boat again. Nothing like feeling nauseous all week (and no, I'm not pregnant).

Even with feeling like my equilibrium was off, I still had a lot of fun and didn't let it get in the way. I even played foot golf which was something I'd never heard of before that week. For those that don't know about this activity it's basically soccer and golf wrapped into one. The course is on a golf course, but has slightly different start and end spots, but the same rules. We were a group of 10 and I'm sure we got in the way of the 'true' golfers. I imagine they are likely annoyed by foot golfers, but no one there yelled at us or anything so I don't think we pissed anyone off too much.

Riley didn't understand the concept, but had a blast and was so proud of all the 'goals' she was making. She kept up with us for the whole 9 holes without a single whine so the day was a big win. Plus, I beat Jesse by a couple points which I wasn't expecting at all.

The rest of the week was spent just hanging out either at our house or my in laws. They played a couple of Jesse's strategic type of board games and they humored my request to play with sparklers while I photographed them. On their final night in town we all gathered at my in laws for tacos and said our final good byes. Some extended family stopped by as well so I had to make sure that I took some pictures. This is probably the closest I've come to doing a real photo shoot - posing people and all.

The grandkids

Since I had the tripod and timer set up I used the opportunity to get a quick snap of my immediate family as well.

And that was it They left the next day and our lives went back to normal - almost too quiet not having them around. We sure do miss them and can't wait until next time.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Project 52 - Family Fun Night - Week 28


Riley's preschool has a Family Fun Night each summer which is usually outside, but due to rain we were relegated to the school cafeteria. It was a lot of fun, just like last year, but this time Riley didn't cling to me the entire time. She can get that way, but last year she was especially clingy.

This year she was initially reluctant to advance toward the dance floor until she was sure she saw one of her friends. Only two of her classmates showed up, but she did see some kids from her class last year (that are younger than her) and her favorite teacher ever who is also from her class last year.

Dancing, games, and all around fun was had. Many necklaces were 'caught' as the DJ was throwing them left and right. We brought a picnic dinner (Jimmy John Jones as Riley likes to call it) and an ice cream truck came at the end.

Riley and her friends, Greyson and Sarah, from her class won the 'toilet paper' contest which totally made their night. Greyson's mom was an awesome 'model' for this event.

Actually, I think the highlight of the night was when the DJ played I Like to Move it and Riley totally lost it like she was an awestruck teen at a New Kids on the Block concert in the 90's... screeching in a high pitch tone "I LOVE THIS SONG" over and over. The hysteria had reached it's peak with this one.

Side note: Riley caught me taking her picture and ran over to see what I captured, and then her friend came to see, and then some other kids all started running over to see the pictures. Lol. So vain, these kids.

This will be our last Family Fun Night at this school and most of her friends are heading off to different schools in the fall, but I'm sure we'll be participating in many more of these types of events at her new school with her new friends. I can't wait to see how these sorts of things excite her in the future.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Day in the Life - Summer 2015

It's time for another Day in the Life as hosted by My Life in Transition. I was going to do this earlier in the week, but we had our Luxembourg guests. They were actually featured in my Day in the Life two years ago when they visited, but I really wanted to capture a regular summer day.

Sunday, 7/12/15
Riley is 5 and a half
Jesse is 40 and I'm 43

10:24 pm - Saturday night I had planned to get to bed by 10:00, but realized I had some laundry I needed to switch out as I didn't want to leave wet clothes in the washer overnight.  I did some reading while waiting for the laundry and then slept pretty well with the normal couple wake ups over night.

1:37 - I wake up, go to bathroom, and fall right back to sleep.

4:10 - Up again. Same routine of bathroom and back to sleep.

6:31 - Wake up, but Riley's not up yet so I debate about trying to fall back asleep even though I got 8 hours of sleep. Jesse's already gone downstairs so I decide to grab my book The Big Burn  which is about a huge wildfire in Washington, Idaho and Montana in 1910. It talks a lot about Roosevelt's preservation of land which is interesting. I'm achy this morning and hope it's not going to get any worse.

6:44 - Riley's awake and yelling from her bedroom that "IT'S SIIIIIIX". I hop out of bed and go to her room where we hang out for a bit. She realizes it's a 'day in the life' since I have the camera with me and decides she's going to take some pictures for me.

Bad picture, but lolz on Riley's face. Is she scared? I think she's trying to smile.

Picture by Riley

Picture by Riley

6:54 - Riley heads downstairs to find her dad while I make beds and get dressed for the day. I'm meeting a friend for a walk at 9:00 and it's already a warm morning so I try to dress appropriately (it's supposed to be close to 90 this day). I decide to wear my uniform of capri's and layered tank tops from Old Navy. I have them in many colors and a couple different sizes and wear them all the time. I go with the red top since I have sparkly red toenails (from the 4th of July), but later realize no one will notice my awesome coordination skills since I put on socks and tennis shoes for my walk.

Still working on Riley's room, but getting close to being done. I'll be adding a picture above her bed.

Up late the night before means a big pile of books next to her bed.

7:00 - I head downstairs and eat breakfast while Riley and Jesse are in the basement. I start laundry and clean up around the house. I do all my morning eye stuff except for the warm compress (two different eye drops and a lid cleanse). Riley and Jesse come upstairs and he sets her up with breakfast while I look up how to get to Como. I know how to get there, but it's been close to a year so I totally second guess myself. When I look at the directions it's exactly how I remember, but now I can drive there confidently.

Free paper that's mostly ads.

7:53 - Go play 'pretend' with Riley and some magnetic Frozen toys. It's my least favorite type of play, but I try to put some effort into it since I will be gone for a couple hours this morning. However, it doesn't last long when I realize I have to do a couple more things before leaving like brushing my teeth, getting ice water, etc. I then get Riley dressed as she and Jesse are going to go to the gym and run some errands. She asks for a dress and requests a hand me down that's pretty stained. Whatever.

Lucy likes to play with us too.

8:33 - I drive to St Paul for a walk around Lake Como. It takes me a half hour to get there, but, even with construction detours, it's an easy drive today - this isn't always so. I meet Jennifer in front of the pavilion and we loop the lake twice. It's already hot and Jennifer likes to walk at super speed. I should have asked to take a break, but even with drinking lots of ice water, I overheat and get a headache that lasts most of the day. I was afraid this would happen especially with waking achy (sometimes it's a sign that I won't feel well later), but was hopeful that I could just enjoy a walk without repercussions. This is also why I don't make a ton of plans, because I never know how I might feel. Anyhoo, it was good to see Jen. We work at the same company and used to be on the same team, but not anymore so we don't get to connect that often. We catch up on our recent vacations and her pregnancy.

10:08 - Walk done. We decide to high five instead of hug because it's just too hot and we are both too sweaty. Feeling gross. I drive home and see that Jesse and Riley are finishing up an early lunch - although it's pretty common for Jesse to eat his lunch around 10:30 because he's weird like that. I also eat some food. I'm hungry and food often helps with my headaches so I eat yogurt with granola, but I really want to take a bath in frozen yogurt instead

Riley shows me a picture she made for me at the gym. It's rolled up and tied with a purple string like it's a present. So sweet, that girl. She also shows me the fly swatter she and her dad picked up while a fly proceeds to buzz around our house. I get her set up with a snack about 20 minutes after she ate her lunch because she says she's still hungry.

And then I eat some more food because I, too, am hungry. I grab a leftover salad from two days prior. It has seared tuna in it and it's not until after I eat it all that I wonder if it was a smart idea to eat two day old raw tuna. In the end I was fine so all was good. I peruse the internet and watch a short video about a guy who quit the job he loved to ride his bike through South America. He talks about his motivation being that so many people state that they wished they worked less and lived more. He also notes that the monotony of a job doesn't challenge our brains. Wish I could quit my job and go on an adventure.

11:33 - Well overdue for a shower so I take a luke warm shower followed by a cold burst on my still aching head. I get out of the shower and get dressed in my 'uniform' of capri's and tank tops, but this time I switch to pink. I'm not kidding that I wear this pretty much all summer.

12:04 - It's laundry day so I fold some clean towels and then head to the basement where I find Jesse has introduced Riley to a Mario Brother's game which they are playing together. It's cute to see her working the controller and them chasing each other on the screen. I decide to watch while sitting in the massage chair behind them, but a few minutes later Jesse announces that he's going to buy brats at Byerly's. We're going to a BBQ later so I ask if he's getting any side dishes. "No", he replies so I tell him he has to wait for me as I am going with. I think he's crazy not to get side dishes, but I think he only ends up eating brats at the BBQ. Weird.

12:25 - Off to Byerly's where I get a Caesar salad and smoked salmon and some grapes and Jesse picks out some brats.

1:08 - Home and hungry. I warm up some Tuscan Kale soup. Kind of a weird food day as we've all eaten multiple times already. We make this soup about every other week as we love it so much. We add a little more carrots, extra can of beans, and some real shredded chicken on top of the recipe linked above.

1:33 - Lol. Riley asks for some food so I set her up with some grapes. I do some stuff around the house, sit in front of the computer a bit, and pack our bags for our BBQ. Jesse is into gaming and one of his gamer friends is in town from California. They are all meeting at Oak Hill, a park by our house, to BBQ. There are a couple playgrounds and a splash pad there so I make sure to grab Riley and my bathing suits. I almost decide to bring my board shorts instead, but decide I better try them on as I've gained weight lately... and thank God I did, because there was no way I could wear those. Gah, not sure what caused the weight gain, but everything I own is tight or no longer fits. I prep the salad and put everything in a bag except the grapes which were still wet from washing.

Side note: Gamers all have gaming names so I have to try and keep straight the game name with the real name. For instance, Jesse is known as "Soy" although his game name is usually "Powered by Soy". Yeah, I never thought I would marry a gamer, but at least he's not one of those that forgets about hygiene and social skills and that sort of stuff.

1:50 - Riley's now watching a little TV so I tell her that if she needs anything to ask her dad as I am going to take a nap. I feel like crap and am hoping the nap resets me a little for our BBQ at 3:00. I have a hard time relaxing when I get into bed and worry that the pain in my head will keep me from being able to sleep.

2:33 - I hear Jesse walk up the stairs and grab socks out of the dresser. Bummed that I am awake so soon, but know I was out as I came too with drool on my cheek. Just keeping it classy over here.

I get up and see that Jesse has finished packing up the grapes and put all the food in a cooler - except for the brats which he's cooking up. He didn't feel like getting charcoal and cooking at the park so he's doing this instead.

2:56 - Off to the park and we're the first to arrive. All the shelter's are taken, but we find a couple picnic tables in the shade near a grill and set up. Riley and I go up to the park and then return when a couple people show up. Later we go to the splash pad where Riley runs through some water... as in, she lets her face and head get wet. Someone has switched my kid. Hopefully, this carries over to Monday when she goes to her first swim lesson.


There were at least twice as many people that showed up.

We go back to the tables where more people have arrived. I introduce myself to some people as Jesse isn't doing it, we grab some food and then go back to the splash pad where Riley continues to amaze me by playing with the previously, highly avoided water cannons and even gets close to the tipping water buckets and almost runs under one. Wish I captured a picture of her embracing all this water. (I only took pictures when she was around the 'safe' water area). We go back to the group and play corn hole, Frisbee, and go swinging again before heading home. It was a scorcher this day, but the splash pad provided a huge relief.

6:05 - We head home were we all take showers. Riley gets in with me and then cries when I rinse of her face with the shower head. What happened to the kid who was just running all over the splash pad getting her face wet?

Riley plays a little more "wifi" with her dad and then we head up for bedtime a little after 7:00. I read her a book and then we play a new "game" in picking out her other books to read. We usually just pick them out, but I have her give me a letter and I select the book based on the letter she's given me.

7:18 - Usually, we're not done reading a book together until at least 7:30 or later, but we finish up early. I move a decorative pillow from Riley's bed and she squeaks to get it back. She does a lot of this squeaky stuff and we are often working with her to use real words or sentences and her manners. This is one of those times that I make her ask for the pillow and it's more of a struggle than usual to do so. I can tell she's beat, but she does say "mommy, can I please have the blue pillow" so I give it to her, tell her I love her and good night and I head downstairs. I go straight to the laundry room and swap loads and when I come up from the basement, Jesse is coming down from Riley's room. Apparently, she started crying as soon as I left the room. Jesse had no idea why, but I think she was super tired and me pushing her to speak and not squeak sent her over the edge. She's quiet the rest of the night so I think she crashed early (for some reason the night before she was up until at least 10:30 even though we put her to bed at 7:30).

Telling me a story

Perhaps already crying here? This is how I left her. 

7:36 - I make myself a snack since I am still hungry and decide to watch Olive Kittridge while starting to write up this post. I watch part 3 and 4 (the last parts) of the mini series and would recommend it to others. I only get to about 10:00 am on my Day in the Life before my brain starts to tucker out. My head is feeling way better, but I can get pretty foggy headed during and after a migraine day.

9:39 - I've done my nighttime ritual including 3 different prescription eye drops (that I'm not sure are really helping my dry eye issues). I skip the step of a warm compress as I've failed to do that all week. I'll get back on schedule tomorrow, I swear. I go upstairs where Jesse is already in bed reading. I grab my book and check my Fitbit. 13,901 steps! That's way more than a usual day and I can feel it too.

10:02 - I have something in my right eye that's bothering me and after about 5 minutes of reading with one eye I come to my senses and decide to go to bed. I sleep good again (two wake ups - one of which was a noisy storm, but crashed right away after waking), and wake up migraine free. Yay!