Friday, July 27, 2012

Point & Shoot as DSLR

I used to have a really great camera.
Well, I still have it, actually.
However, it's very sick and needs a check-up.
I would say that it's been like a doorstop for about a year.
Just, and I mean _just_ as I was learning more on how to take better pictures on it, it started doing odd sad.
It's a Canon Rebel with the lens it came, so sad!!
Truly, though, it's kinda sad that I waited so long to learn how to use it!!
It gave me 6 great years of service....and hopefully more when I get the chance to get it fixed!!

So, what's a girl to do when she see's beautiful photography all over the place taken with fancy cams?
She learns how to make do with her point and shoot, that's what she does!!

I have a Fuji Finepix F500EXR.
She's red and very pretty!!
I would say style over substance informed this decision.
What, I like red!!

I love the look of the blurry background.
Now, this camera comes with a setting for that buuuuutttttt it isn't consistent.
Or I'm using it improperly.

Either way.

But I was so excited to read this article the other day at Lil Blue Boo!!
I don't have a lot of flexibility on aperture, but I do have zoom!!
So, I got out my lil p & s and played around.

Here are a few of my very first shots....I'm kinda impressed with myself!! 
I didn't edit these at all except for the mark, cuz I know how popular my pics are!!

The two photos above were taken within minutes of each other.
I was using the zoom and focusing on the flowers and then on the suitcases.
I'm going to have to do this more because I don't really know why the light changed so much.
I really like them both, though!!

Then I went outside.
I wanted to try #2 from the article, Zoom and Distance.
It sort of worked with the grapes, but I couldn't find a good spot to really get any distance.
The roses, though!!
I'm so happy with how this turned out!!
I got exactly what I had hoped for!

~ * ~
I hope that I can learn more and more about creating pretty pictures without a fancy camera!
I'm sure it can be done, don't you?

Do you have a fancy camera?
Do you have a p & s?

Do you have tips to share??

~ * ~

Have a beautiful day!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Have Weird Rules

 So, I had told myself that I wouldn't write a post until I had finished the pillow I started in JUNE!!
I really like blogging so I thought that would be great motivation.
And it was!
Besides seeing the dang thing done I would get to share it, too!
Except, joining squares is not least as not as easy at I thought it would be.
As you can see from this first picture, they are joined and not very well.
But then I added the border and I was happy again!
I felt the border sorta took they eyes away from the gaping joins!!

Then, during one of my fabric store forays I found this pretty fabric in the remnants.
I only shop in the remnants department, btw!!
I didn't have this pillow in mind for it, but it worked out great!
I searched the web for an envelope pillow tutorial and found this:
I liked that she used one piece for the cover.
It was easy!!
I don't sew much at all so if I say it is easy, it truly is!! 
So I had the pretty fabric sewed into a cover!
Then it was time to attach the crocheted part.
(Back of the envelope pillow)
(I iron even less than I sew!!)

Sewing something to the top of an envelope pillow is foolishness!!
But hey, now I know and I'm telling you so you don't live my nightmare!!
For the future, I would use this envelope pillow tutorial that constructs the cover in 3 pieces like this:

But it is now finished and enjoying life in it's natural habitat!!


~ * ~

Have a lovely day!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

When Life Hands You Nutella - Bake Brownies!

Nutella and I have a special relationship.
I love it and it loves me!

It proved it's love by being given to me by a sweet lady at church.
She also gave us lemons...and I just realized the irony of the title!!
And, I didn't make lemonade!
Oh, how I amuse myself!!!
(at least someone is amused by me!!)

And what did I do with my free Nutella?
I made this bad boy you see below......
(and by bad I mean so darn good!!)

Those gorgeous swirls are brought to you by Nutella!!

Let's all have a moment of silence as we gaze upon the beauty.......

Okay, are you back with me??
Good!! :)

So, this recipe is so easy!
If you make brownies from a box, stop.
Just stop.
Right now.

Making brownies from scratch is almost as easy and so many millions times better!
There is a depth to the flavor of homemade brownies that you don't get from a box.

My standard brownie recipe is from the back of a package of C & H Dark Brown Sugar, called, appropriately, Brown Sugar Brownies.

However, this may be my new go-to recipe, with or without Nutella.
This one has only regular sugar so really, we need both in case we find ourselves in dire need of brownies on and we find ourselves out of one of the sugars!
See, I think ahead like that so you don't have to!! 

Without further ado - The Recipe -

Nutella Swirl Brownies
1/2 cup butter
4 oz. (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4-1/2 cup Nutella
Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick spray. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over medium heat, stirring until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale; beat in the chocolate mixture, vanilla and salt. Add flour and beat on low speed or stir just until blended.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Heat the Nutella for about 20 seconds in a small bowl in the microwave, just enough to soften it enough to swirl over the batter. Drop by the spoonful over the batter, swirling it a bit with the spoon or the tip of a knife. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until just set and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Makes 16 brownies.

It says it makes 16 brownies.
That's a typo - it makes one huge brownie!!
(And there's the reason I joined Weight Watcher's yesterday......sigh......)

The Link:

I shared this recipe on Facebook and my cousin messaged me that he made them for his coworkers and they loved them!!
I love that!!!

If you make them please let me know what you think!!

~ * ~

I hope you have a beautiful Independence Day
And, if you are reading outside the states, have a lovely Wednesday!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wants v. Needs

I don't need these........

And while that is true of quite a few things I buy, I _really_ don't _need_ these.

However, if you define "need" as "if I don't buy them someone else will and really, will they love them as I do?"
Then, I suppose I do need them!!

The one I truly love is the one on the right with the neato backyard bbq theme.
Lobster, anyone?

My husband liked the VanGogh and the Pennsylvania tray I justified because one of my dads is from Pittsburgh.
Not that he wants or needs a metal tray with the state on it...but it made me feel better about buying it.

And yes, it's all about me!!
I'm glad we are all up to speed on that point!!

So, tell me!!
What do you buy at thrift stores that you don't need but just have to have???

~ * ~

Have a lovely day!!!!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Found It!

Ever lose your momentum or mojo for a favorite hobby?
I sure did and it was so depressing!
I love to crochet and was so discouraged over the last few months as I just wasn't feeling motivated.
I knew I wanted to try something new and I knew I didn't want to make more scarves yet nothing was grabbing my attention.
I love granny squares and would gaze at beautiful blankets, cute sweaters, funky bags on the internet and still I wasn't finding that "it" project.
I would start things just to crochet but with no grand plan I had no staying power.
And then, I figured it out...I realized I needed paper!
I needed a book or two to sit with, turn pages and have on my lap as I worked with yarn.
As much I love technology, I love books more!

So I got on Amazon and did some soul searching.
I knew I wanted something on granny squares and I also wanted to learn some new stitches.
After reading reviews and going back and forth I procured these babies!!
"The Granny Square Book" is incredible!
So much creativity in one little book!
There are 75 patterns but you would swear there are twice that!
The color example pictures are perfect and the pattern is given in diagram and writing.
In the front are the usual basics and tips on joining.
And, in the back, are some neat projects.
I made one square with some scraps just to see one and decided I loved the colors so much I am making a pillow for the bed!   
It's hip to be a square!
I even learned to make a popcorn stitch!
I found this ironic.
Just a few days before the books arrived I was online and had found a cute flower to try.
It used a popcorn stitch and I gave up on it because "dropping" the last stitch and going back to the first one and joining them together was just too much!
"Dropping" is for knitting, I thought!!!
Ha, jokes on me!!
I learned it and I like it!!
It's getting there!!
I can't wait to be done and behold a pillow cover that I made!!! 
The sexy close up!!
As for the other book, Crochet Stitches, A Visual Encyclopedia, it is wonderfully full of crochet!
It also has color pics, diagrams and written directions.
I can't even explain it so I will let Amazon do it:

"This visual encyclopedia features step-by-step instructions for 300 gorgeous crochet stitch patterns, from basic stitches to cables, lace, textured stitches, mesh and filet crochet, fans and shells, clusters, puffs, bobbles, spike stitches, colorwork, and more. Each pattern is accompanied by a full-color photo and a chart. Every crocheter needs a book like this on her shelf—the content is timeless and will have a place next to the crochet hooks for many years to come."

I know, right??????

I am SO glad that I can crochet contentedly once again!!
Come to think of it, I bet my family is, too!!!

Do you lose your mojo?
How do you get it back?

~ * ~

Have a lovely day!!!!

~ * ~


Liz Marie Blog

Friday, June 22, 2012

Food - Out and In

We had another birthday this week!
This time it was my niece turning 19.
I remember the day she was born....and it feels so recent!
Mixed emotions on these birthdays the kiddos have!!

The birthday girl picked her current favorite place, Stacked.
I think I had heard of it before but didn't realize it was so local to us.
There are three locations and we are near the one on Cerritos.
What makes it interesting is that you place your order on an Ipad.
No wonder the youngin's like it so much!!

The atmosphere is lively and fun!
The "thing' here, other than the Ipad ordering, is that you can "stack" whatever you want on your salad, burger or mac & cheese (stacked mac!).  
Even dessert!
You can either start from scratch or modify something off the menu.
Don't go here if you are feeling....iffy!! 

I have to say that I was a little concerned that the place was all about the gimmick and the food would be just okay.  
But, I was happily wrong!!
The food was really, really good!!!
I hope we go back soon!!
1. Ipad ordering. 2. Wall decor. 3. Sign outside. 4. Inside facing the entrance (loved the colorful windows!) 5. (middle) The entrance and other side of the colorful windows!

And in gardening news!!
My delightful husband has cleverly solved my strawberry problem!!
You see, while I love homegrown strawberries, we never grew enough to really make it satisfying.
Going out to the garden and finding one ripe strawberry at a time was lame.
Solution: Plant more!!
So simple!!

And, so wonderful!!
He's a peach!!

Our grapes are back with gusto, too!!
I suspect we are not people who should have so many grapes.
These established vines of concord grapes (I'm pretty sure that's what these are because they taste like grape jam!) know what they are doing and we, sadly, do not.

This year I hope to figure it out.
They aren't really eating grapes....I mean, you can eat them, but they have seeds and while they taste like grape jam they also taste a bit like wine.
I truly have no problem with wine, believe me!!
I just don't think they are our preference when eating grapes.
I've heard the term "table grapes" before and I think we have here are not those!

I'm not a make-jam-and-save-it-for-later kind of girl but after that, what does one do with grapes?
I hope we can figure it out!! 
1. Our garden gate. 2. (below) Ripe strawberry. 3. (top right) Some grapes. 4. Strawberries planted with geraniums. 5. Sunflower.

~  *  ~

Have a lovely weekend!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Intentionally Quiet Day

I don't know about you, but I am constantly around sound.
I readily admit to a radio or music, depending on the day and my mood!
I love radio because I can have it on, fill my ears (and mind) and still be moving.

My son likes to play video games and as our home is small and he plays in the living room, those sounds are sometimes added in.

But today I woke up and really noticed the birds outside the window.
It sounded so pretty and sweet I knew today had to be about listening to the sounds around me.
The natural sounds of my life, unfiltered and free!

I do this from time to time and yet, always forget how calming it is.
No radio sounds, very little game sounds.....ahhhhhh, so relaxing!!
And it's as if time moves a little slower.

So, what did I hear?
Lots of pretty bird songs, chickens cooing, my kiddos baking a cake, airplanes overhead (small ones only, the usual military landings we get living close to a base were conspicuously absent today) and then one of my favorite sounds - The Goodyear Blimp!! 

Ever since I was little the blimp has been a very exciting happening!
Night times were the best as it usually had a light show going on it's sides!
But, even in the day, that low, distinctive buzzing is enough to get me out of my seat and run outside to check it out!

It doesn't get out much anymore and we usually only see it during baseball season because we are in it's path from it's home to Angel Stadium.
Is it baseball season?
I don't know...
Maybe there was a game?

Anyway, because our home was so quiet I actually heard that familiar sound!!
I got myself outside and took a few photos.
The June gloom was still burning off so it's not a very clear shot.
I love it!!

And, the cake was yummy!!!

I hope by writing this I will remember to do this more and not fall into my usual habit of radio.
I feel so at peace here at the end of the day and I know it is because I was able to concentrate on my life going on around me.
Lovey sounds they are, too!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Do you have quiet days?
Or are you already wise to them and live that way??