February 22, 2011

I love computers

Computer is in the shop. 

Keep your fingers crossed that the problem is fixable and inexpensive so I can continue to chit chat with all of you soon :)!!!

PS: I have this weird issue with publishing posts without pictures on my blog, so I dug up these delectable "First Valentine's Day" shots of Bear off of this borrowed computer.  

Land sakes he looks so little!!!!

February 16, 2011

You Capture: Warmth

Judging from the rhythmic dripping of melting icicles outside my window, indeed, there may be a warm up going on!

Another clue winter is possibly breaking? 

I actually saw the furry outlines of the cows on the way to work.  Not the moving snow sculptures I typically mistake them for.

The cows who, with the warm up, don't need to constantly huddle together for heat, nor travel in a mammalian snow plow pack to get anywhere in their pasture. 

Poor dears. 

Mmmm, warmth is synonymous to "hot bath" for me.  Usually involving a form of lavender something or other (and of course a book, but don't we all haul a good read into the tub with us if we plan on staying for a while?).

Everyone has their favorite winter outerwear for warmth.  Well, mine happens to be an awesome, orange patterned down vest.  It never fails to keep me cozy.


You know the drill... head on over to "I Should Be Folding Laundry" if you aren't ready to face the cold yet.

February 15, 2011

Loving on Neat Image

Love Love Love to all of you out there!  I'm still in a bit of the Valentine's Day mood, so today I'm sharing two of my recent loves.

 I adore decorating with coffee filter cut out things.  They are so quick to make and they turn out quite cute AND stylish. 

Look at my little cupid hard at work painting coffee filter hearts for a garland we were making.

My other love is especially of interest to my camera laden friends.

You all know I take my pictures with a little, quite amazing point and shoot camera (details at the bottom of this blog).  I am saving up for my dream DSLR camera and in the meantime, I try to make myself as smart as I can about all things point and shoot.

A while back, I began using the free software, NoiseWare Community, to take the noise, or blurry, grainy stuff, out of my photos.  It's a great program!  It was super easy to navigate and I used it often.

The only thing was, that as my photography taking began to increase, I found that Noiseware wasn't quite meeting my needs anymore.  I could only process one photo at a time which was an issue when I was pressed for time to begin with and since I ran just about every picture I took through the program.

What's a Canon Powershot gal to do?!

After a little research I discovered

Neat Image! It was just the upgrade I needed!  For $29.90 I downloaded the program and got right to work.  This program also runs filters for noise reduction (as well as sharpness) and it's super easy to use, as well.

The best part?  I can queue up to 50 pictures at a time to be filtered and then go off to do other things while the job is being processed.  AWESOME!   

If you're curious, go check the site out.  There are a few different programs available and you might fine one that perfectly suits your needs. 

So in summary: for coffee filter kid hearts and noise reduction programs I've got nothin' but love!

February 14, 2011

And how do you feel about today?

Just this morning I was saying to Champ, you know, I like Valentine's Day now way better than I did when we were dating.

I mean, not that I didn't love the candy part of it, but I was never a roses kind of girl nor expensive jewelry.  Loud, sparkly jewelry yes, but pieces I need to be responsible about?  Nuh uh! 

I also would always get into a sort of panic attack right before February 14th because what the heck does one get the boyfriend?!  Girls, at least on this holiday, seem so much easier.

And then there was the whole contingency of friends I knew who were going through breakups or swearing off their boyfriend/girlfriend smack in the middle of this holiday of, um, LOVE.  I'd feel a bit uncomfortable even mentioning "Champ" and "Valentine's Day" and dare I say it "Love" whenever I was in their company.

So back to 2011, I suddenly really really like Valentine's Day. 

Bear and I have spent the week painting and cutting and stamping hearts all over the place in shades of pinks, purples and reds.

There are still presents, only smaller and mainly for Bear.  This year we got him a few locally made candies and two books I felt he NEEDED just NEEDED to have added to the bookcase:

 Ollie's Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow because I just love love her work and this is a great introduction to the author for Bear.  The story is about a little boy who gets his first pair of skis and they lead him on a magical adventure where he meets Jack Frost and King Winter among others.  Imagination and sports?  Why that's right up Bear's alley!

 The other book is "Life Story" by Virginia Burton.  A great story that's set up like a play, it explains Earth Science and the story of the world in a way that little ones like Bear can understand.  I will tell you that this is not an "easy" read per say, but then even the easiest life history texts still need to have a little meat to 'em, right?!

To commemorate Valentine's Day, Champ and I plan to go grocery shopping tonight and perhaps stop by the Dump with our recycling.  And that sweet readers, is perfectly romantic to me.
Finally, with my new outlook on the holiday, I feel no guilt telling my single, or slightly angry at Cupid friends that in all honesty, I DO like to talk about love.  My heart is happy and I want to make other people's hearts feel the same.  I say to them, If you are Ok with that, then go on and tell me why Love bites because I can be sympathetic even while I am loving.  

That usually solves any awkwardness and sometimes they even go so far as to share their Valentine's Day chocolates with me.  Sometimes.

February 10, 2011

You Capture: Cold

Thankfully I like the cold and snow (most days), otherwise living in Vermont would be a small problem to say the least.

Better still, it's easier to embrace the chill and bitter white when encouraged to photograph it.  So maybe I owe "You Capture" a thanks?  Maybe.  But I'm not fully sold on the whole yanking off gloves to snap shots of icy things.

  Fingers getting a bit cold.

Fingers feel like icicles.

Wait, I still have fingers?  This is when I decided to warm up the cold a little bit...

Ahh, that's better.  Cold, but with a hearty dose of warm love from Grammy.


Still not sure about an out and out "Thank You" to You Capture, but I will admit it got me to put down my cocoa and pick up my camera this week!!

Got your parka on?  Good!  Head here for more cold weather photography.

February 08, 2011

A creative way to use your pasta machine...

...or rolling pin for that matter, but it wouldn't have made quite as good a blog title.

Anyway.  Either kitchen tool you choose to use will make delightfully perfect crackers which is the food gossip I'd like to share with you today.

Now I may sound cracked up out of my mind suggesting you make homemade crackers, but hear me out...

Homemade crackers are:

way cheaper than store bought

easy to make in bulk amounts and store well
can be tweaked to anyone's tastes or dietary needs


aren't half as time consuming to make as you are thinking right now, so stop!

My favorite recipe comes from MaryJanes Farm It's simple, adjustable and makes about 3 dozen crackers that keep seemingly forever in a tin.

Basic Farmhouse Crackers

1 1/2 C flour                          3/4 t salt
1 1/2 t cream of tartar           1/4 C oil
3/4 t baking soda                  1/2 C water
1 egg                                    2 t sugar
1 t balsamic vinegar               1/4 C toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350* and wipe your baking sheets with oil.  Combine flour, cream of tartar, salt and baking soda and mix well. 

(this is where I have the most fun- get a little crazy with your flours!  Look at all the types I threw in this time.)

 Add oil and stir until mixture is crumbly.  Then add water and stir until dough forms.  Roll out dough on a floured surface (or use a pasta machine!) until it is quite thin.

Brush dough with a whisked mixture of egg, sugar and vinegar then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cut, tear or use cookie cutters to shape the crackers as you please, transfer to baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes until browned.

field notes: Oven time varies depending on the thickness of your crackers.  If your crackers eventually do go stale, just freshen them up for a few moments in a 250* oven.  Try all different kinds of combinations of seeds, liquids and herbs!

And if these Farmhouse Crackers sound yummy to you, then you should definitely check out these gingerbread crackers, too!

February 03, 2011

You Capture: for you - a red poem

A guest book is red.

This washcloth is too.

Bear's slippers are sweet

and so are you!!


for more photography (not necessarily as poetic, but guaranteed to be red!) go here.

February 02, 2011

Composting during Candlemas

Maybe it's not considered cool to compost- 

in the winter.


In New England
In snow arriving in bulk New England.

But it's what we do here on our 2 acre patch of homespun land (I never was one to care about what the cool crowd thinks anyway).

Despite the whole nutrients in the soil, organisms breaking down matter, warmth needed for the process thing, the compost pile still thrives in winter.  It's just that it's "breakdown" is mainly caused by crows, deer, weasel looking things and the occasional domestic dog.  Ah yes. 

It's a nice balance really: between the feeders with seeds and grain on the far side of the house and the fruit and vegetable remains on the opposite side of our abode, we ensure that Mother Nature's animals are filling their food pyramid quotas.

Good thing because heaven knows in this kind of weather, they're gonna need to keep their energy levels up!  

PS:  Happy Groundhog's Day AND Candlemas (the whole weather predicting thing is what unites the two celebrations).  Share in the festivities by visiting Phil, lighting candles all around and eating crepes and hot cocoa!  Also, is it obvious I didn't snap these pictures today?  Thought so.

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