Friday, April 30, 2010

They day I nearly burnt my house down

Ok, so maybe I'm being a little melodramatic, but not entirely.

Let me go back a couple years ago.
In one tiny year, my sister, my step-son/daughter-in-law and one of my closest friend's houses all burnt to the ground! It was tramatic seeing this happen over and over again, so I can't possibly imagine how bad it would be to actually live that.

This is why I have a fire phobia.

Let's be fair, who *doesn't* have a fire phobia?

So this past winter, I suddenly started tripping a breaker, which only slightly worried me as at that moment, Gene and a coworker were working on a truck outside and taxing my every last nerve watt.

But after they got it fixed, it kept doing it. Then it got worse. Then Gene was outside and SWORE he heard a huge pop.

Finally, we knew something was definitely up, and turned off the breaker. Then it snowed. And then some more. Before you knew it there was literally 4 feet of snow around my house.

In the meantime, I had exactly no outlets in my kitchen. Well, the stove, fridge, etc worked, but I couldn't run a toaster or a can opener. We finally figured out that one outlet on a different wall worked, but that was it. So it was home to a toaster, coffee pot, can opener, phone charger and two drill chargers.

It was ugly.

We called an electrician, and bless him, he came out on a Sunday even, although at this point we know it's not an emergency, he came anyway. He tested here, and there, and took some stuff apart, and stood in a snowbank.

What we determined was, it wasn't working.

Ya think?

The next step was to get into the wall and look at what was wrong with the wire, but there's 4 feet of snow up against my house right?

So we had to wait.
And wait.

And WAIT.

Then it rained.
then some more....

You get the picture.

Finally, mid APRIL, Gene takes a skil saw to my siding and cuts a chunk out. I'm totally ok with this because at some point, all the siding is going to go ANYWAY.

So look what we found:

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The best guess we have, is that a mousey got in our wall, and then peed on the wires, which I guess, is really a bad deal as it eats away and causes it to short out.

Stupid effin' mouse anyway!

Gene rewired the section that was bad, and I made a mental note that I'm probably going to get my house rewired the day that the siding comes off.

But I haven't dropped that bomb on Gene yet.

He still hasn't recovered from the 6 weekend process of replumbing the whole house last summer!

Let's look at the bright side tho. The above wire I cut up and used as a tether to keep my trash can from blowing away!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guess who's back! (aka, Lana says the word "coochie")

When I was birthin' Seth, back in 19-dickty-9, I was just barely an adult myself (younger than Seth is now! ACKKKK). I had zero clue what was going on.

Oh sure, I'd gone to Lamaze where the nice blond lady tells you that you just do some breathing and it won't hurt as much.

*she lied*

But in general, I didn't know the process. After all, I wasn't "seasoned" (I'm not a Duggar). I just kinda did what everyone told me what I was supposed to do.

"Go there."
"Put on this ugly assed robe"
"Lay on your left" (or was it my right?)
"Let me look at your coochie again"

You pretty much lose all modesty - you have no choice. That horrific, life altering moment (and not the good parts) kinda change you. That and eating soggy teething biskets and not brushing your hair for 4 days.

Anyway...

All I can remember at certain points of the delivery was *Leave. Me. Alone.* This includes nurses that wanna poke at your anything, doctors that come in during the last 35 seconds but mostly moms that walk in during your third good push.

I kinda imagine this is how she feels:

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She's persistant if nothing else.

And somewhat patient, I have a feeling it's not her first litter. Or flock, or clutch, or whatever the hell a Robin has.

Apparently, this is just the best spot EVER to make a nest. I was convinced that I would not see her again as I really pestered the nest last year taking pictures literally every other day. After a while I felt kinda guilty. However, she must not have been too angry because she came back for a second session in late summer.

Or maybe I'm just clueless and this is really just an offspring, or a cousin, or an intruder or one of the outcasts from "The Hills". Who knows.

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Regardless of the who, or the why, or the when, the little eggs come anyway. Isn't robin's egg blue, one of the prettiest colors on the planet? I can kinda see why Tiffany's made this the color of their boxes. (Since I took this photo, a fourth one has appeared. )


This really is a bad spot, and she seems very flighty.

*snort*
God I slay me sometimes.

You see, this pole is directly between my back door and my new chicken coop.


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There's a lot of activity between here and there and she's not fond of activity. It's so *refreshing* to hear a bird flap right in your ear as you pass by.

I'm kind of worried that they won't hatch as we are out there so much she is off the nest a lot. Having said that, It's not my fault she picked a lousy neighborhood! I mean really.

Have you SEEN the neighbors? Someone call the HOA!


No birds were harmed in the filming of this post. However, I did finally solve the mystery of why my socks always look grungy and filthy.


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PS. I apologize to my children that had to hear their mom use the word "Coochie"





---------- In other news ----------

Apparently I'm an accomplished liar.
(shuddup)

Not only are my chickens still in a playpen in my dining room (long story involving a husband and tar paper. Let's not go there), but also I am still washing dishes by hand. Let's just say, an entirely different person is going to install it for me.

I'm kinda hoping that person won't be me.

There's a reason why he's in the will

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Kinda pointless to have a 17" monitor when you only get to view about 8" of it. My perspective of the internet about 70% of the time.


Of course, how can I be annoyed at a face like this?

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Flowers just because

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"Why do people give each other flowers? To celebrate various important occasions, they're killing living creatures? Why restrict it to plants? 'Sweetheart, let's make up. Have this deceased squirrel.' "

~The Washington Post


Somehow, that quote just seemed "right".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Coop Progress

It's been a while since I updated you on the coop progress.

It's slow.

It won't stop raining every other day.

Argh.


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About a week and half ago, Gene climbed up on the roof and put down the sheathing. It was scary, the whole thing wobbled as we took the braces off. During this process, I got a LOT OF DIRT in my hair.

Yuck.



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We started putting the siding on, and Tanner has been helping with the process a lot. You can see the original color here, which is ugly and kinda fuschia pink. It was 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of burgandy.

In the end, I decided when I needed more paint to get 2 gallons of Kilz barn paint, with primer added. If you want a barn red ANYTHING, just buy this stuff. It's awesome.



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This was yesterday. We got the top row of siding on, but the door was not on yet. It's starting to actually look like something.

"Something" being the key word here.


No pic yet for today's work, as I was out at a shoot while Gene was working on the coop and Tanner was cooking dinner (I could get used to that!) Gene got the door framed in, and the door on. Did I mention that my chickens have a high end full view glass door? LOL. I'm going to etch the glass with a rooster and "Cease fire ranch" around it", so that the racoons can't just look in and say "i got my eye on you fatty".


Move in date is planned for TOMORROW (Wednesday afternoon).

And the heavenly music rains down from above and all is quiet again at the Cease Fire Ranch...

Moon Rise over the coop



Except for those ducks.
They won't shut up.

******

PS. I didn't catch it until today, but one of my photos was featured on Shutter Sisters One Word Project last week! Woot! Word of the month is "Hold".

Pretty cool considering that they literally get thousands of submissions a month!

Mah duck.

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And mah udder duck

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Their names?
Daisy, Doodles, Dexter and Dewy

So sweet!
I'm just hoping they warm up to me soon. They are kinda askeered of us.

Giving a pink slip...

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Hand washing dishes, YOU are on notice, because there's a new dog in town:

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*heart*


I believe that in all the years of my life, I've had a dishwasher a sum total of about 3 years.

Once when I was a kid we had a dishwasher, but my parents *said* they got rid of it because we fought over who was going to load/unload it. Looking back, I think it just probably broke down and we got the blame.... because really, who gives up a dishwasher?

Someone with 3 kids I guess :p


Then, about 10 years ago, when I was still with the ex, I had *had enough*. I hated doing dishes and it was obvious. There'd be 3-4 days worth sitting there waiting to be done. We got a tax return and I just proclaimed we were spending some money on a dishwasher.

Period.

And we did. The ex cut out a cabinet and hooked it up. The next couple days were spent on cleaning every single thing that would go in that dishwasher, including all the stuff that you keep on top of your cabinets for decoration. I remember the dishwasher becoming a turning point in keeping the kitchen much cleaner for me.

Then one day, a fork or something slid out the bottom of the basket and caught the heating element and pulled it out of it's track. The next load, it heated up and melted the bottom of the dishwasher putting a big hole in it.

We tried to fix it, but it was unrepairable, I was devastated. I went back to handwashing, but this time I did better at keeping on top of it.

Then we split up, and I was in a tiny house, with no dishwasher or even room for one.

Later, Gene and I bought this house, and it HAD a dishwasher, that was a big paperweight. I just used it as a place to store my tupperware and that giant thermos that I had not cabinet big enough for.

Several times we talked about going and getting a dishwasher, but TWICE we were talked out of it by the guy at Home Depot. What the... ?

We had a tax return coming, and I suggested once again that we get a dishwasher. So while Gene was getting his doctor ordered tanning session (long story), I went to the local appliance place to where the salesman said, "Are you here looking because of the tax free holiday?"

and I said "Wha?"

He then proceeds to tell me that not only is the state offering a week tax free on some appliances, but the government is giving rebates when you recycle an old appliance.

Hello! I have one of those.
(but where will my tupperware go???)

To top it all off, they were on sale.

So last week, I bought the last appliance we need. I purdy and shiny new dishwasher. Yay! Gene gets it home, we start unwrapping, get the old one out of the hole. Which for the record, involved pulling up flooring, but to be honest, we thought ahead and didn't glue down 3 rows in front of the dishwasher because we knew we'd get a new one someday.

I are smrt.

My heart pounded, as the new one was pushed into the spot where the old one just came out and SUCCESS!! I was so worried it would be to big considering that we put new counters and new trim, and nothing ever seems to fit right here and I was NOT TEARING IT UP!

I then pulled out the 22 step instructions on hooking up the new one and said "let's take the day off and just hire that other guy to do it." and Gene said "Yay!" and we went antiquing instead.

Come tomorrow afternoon,
These beautiful, precious hands will never be wrinkled again.

I hope.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Notable Events

Warning:
If you are squeemish, there's a snake picture below.
I warned you cuz I'm nice. :p

******

A few things notable or not, have happened over the past few days:


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  • The weather sucked over the weekend. It hailed even for a bit. Rained almost the entire time, so it ruined our plan to finish the coop enough to get the chickens in it.

  • So we did the next best thing, we went antquing:
    Gene played along with the tie. Kinda.

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  • He also thinks that this guy looks like someone famous you know. Take a guess. (hint: he's a president)

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  • I have decided to try to give up diet coke again. I had quit once for several years, but took it up again, I don't remember why. I do believe that it is not healthy, and can cause problems that I don't want. Plus, just reducing it to one a day, has caused me to not have as much heartburn. Sweet! Water, you and I will be friends soon.

  • There's a cow living up the road that is skunk flavored. Not by scent, but by color. Complete with a stripe all the way down the back, to the tip of the tail.

    I want it.

  • Tanner went to St. Louis with his band over the weekend. He didn't take the expensive camera he bought for just such occasions. Does. Not. Compute.

    I had to pick him up at 1:30 in the morning. Actually, he txted me at 11 p.m. to say they just got to KC, and I said "screw that!" and went to bed. Unfortunately, so did he. He fell asleep on the bus so I didn't get any advance notice that he was near home.

    I appreciate the teachers hanging out with him an extra 20 min while I got into town to get him.

  • Guess who is back:

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  • I didn't think the robins would come back this year since I bugged them so much, but slowly they are rebuilding the nest.

  • We picked up our second Angel Food this weekend. Looks like some interesting stuff again. This time I bought a second set for Seth. Since he's 20 and living with several other guys. I figured he'd appreciate something besides Ramen and Mac and Cheese.

    He did.

  • Gene bought me some Paula Deen cookware a couple weeks ago. All of it... in turquoise, my new favorite color. He picked up the dutch oven that I REALLY wanted and we've used it twice. Dutch ovens are awesome stuff. Get one!

  • I spent a good chunk of my day working on paperwork and organizing the file cabinet. Something I've needed to do for like 3 years. Really. I'm not done but 80% there if you don't consider the box of files under Tanner's bed. I'm thinking about 90% of that will go in the trash since I obviously have not needed it for so long.

  • I found this in the trash pile the other day as I was trying to sort and get things thrown away/composted/burned:

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Scared me too!
Spiders are worse. I'm ok if I see it before it sees me.

  • I'm so tired still from last night, I'm feeding 4 ducks and 18 chickens and going to bed!

Tree Giveaway Winner!


The winner of the earth day tree is #4 from the top of comments... Jen!
Jen, email me your address and your tree will be sent off to you asap.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Apparently, you CAN make a purse out of a sow's ear.

We have this accent wall in our house. We call it the accent wall because it's painted a darker shade of green than the rest of the house so it kind of pops. We've been here nearly 3 years and I want just the *perfect* things to put on this wall.

I took an old window and painted it, behind each pane I put photos of our family, and beside it put the name "CEASE" in huge letters. It pretty much stayed that way for over a year.

I had a junky little table there and it had become the landing spot for Gene's bowl of change, drill bits, chargers, etc. I had pretty much had enough. I've really been looking for the *perfect* accent table.

It needed to be:
1. Not too deep
2. Less than 39" wide
3. Have at least one big drawer.

It was difficult, and every time I found something I really liked, it was way more than I wanted to spend. Which was exactly $0.00

I was at Nebraska Furniture Mart (I don't know why, I really don't like that place much), and saw this beautiful silver dresser and said WANT! Then I looked at the price tag and dropped it like my arm was on fire.

It was $600.

Oh hell to the no!

I knew I could do this cheaper.

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When Gene moved in, he needed a dresser. We found one at a garage sale for $40. He packed it with t-shirts and socks and we went on with our lives.

Then we moved, and got a bigger bedroom, and I got a big high boy, which I LOVE, and he got my old dresser.

I realized, that we didn't *need* this second dresser, and by golly, it fit in this spot perfectly!



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My sister and I both think that spray paint is the best invention EVER. It'll take anything dirt ugly and make it fairly *not* dirty ugly with 3 good coats.

I bought 2 cans of brushed nickel spray paint (and paid way more than I ever would for spray paint), took off the hardware and went to town!

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The knobs are so pretty, and my husband *insisted* on them, not me. And yes, they are pink and no they don't go with a darn thing in my house, but he insisted he liked those best, so to appease him and let him think he has some say, I bought them.

*grin*

I purchased the knobs at Hobby Lobby, which now has a huge selection of knobs, pulls and hooks. They put them on sale half price frequently and we got a great deal on them. They are glass with lots of trapped bubbles.

I was going to replace all the hardware, and then I realized that after I painted it, you would still be able to see where the old hardware had been, so I just sprayed it too and put it back on. That saved me a fortune as there are a lot of pulls on that dresser!

The bottom drawer will actually end up having electricity to it (I'm putting a hole in the back and running a power strip in there), for Gene's chargers (he has many for work). They will be hidden and no longer sitting on my kitchen counter *arrrgh!*

Cost for this project:
$10.00 - Spray paint
$18.00 - 4 knobs (on sale)
$0.00 - glass top eventually if my husband will ever cut me one!! (he's a glass man)

$28.00 total - $68 if you count the original cost of the dresser. I didn't make it to zero, but pretty darn close!

Savings = $532.00!!

Share with me any of your refurb projects! I love to see old things made new again!

PS. Don't forget to enter our tree giveaway. Still taking entries until Monday!

Tips for Momtographers - Fixing a blechy photo

04-23-jeep

Yesterday, I ran to town to pick up some newspapers, and on my way back, I decided that I was going to go on an explore. I knew I was going to be having a difficult discussion with a state government official shortly, and I wanted to blow off steam and guarantee a good day.

I explored some back roads near my home that I'd never been on before (pics soon), and discovered this beautiful little spot, on the crest of a hill, miles from town.

I turned to leave and saw the jeep nestled in some trees and thought *awesome pic*. *click* What was baffling me was that the display showed the photo kind of dark, and had been most of the day, but often in bright outdoor light it will look that way until I get it home and download it onto the desktop and see it looks great.

No such luck this time.

I hadn't caught that I had changed the settings on my metering causing my photos to look much darker than usual. That's fixed now, but in the meantime, I had some cool photos that were mediocre at best. They needed fixed.

04-23-jeep2

A few minutes in a couple of programs and I took a photo that you might normally delete and turned it into something that (imo) is magazine worthy.

I decided I should show you how I did it.

Keep in mind, I use 2 antiquated programs, and no actions or presets. I know I should, but I'm cheap and this works for me so it's what I do!


I start buy opening the photo in an old version of Photoshop Elements.

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I love the "fill flash" option, and add around 20% light.



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It's flat, so I increase the contrast. I don't go too crazy because I know some of the steps down the road will help with the contrast too.



IMG_1046e

I want all that green to pop, so I increase the saturation about 30%



IMG_1046f

I then add some vignetting around the edges so it looks like it's nestled in the woods.



Now I save the file, and open it in Paint Shop Pro. Version I use is Ollllllld, however, it is a beloved version and some say one of the best ones ever made, and I agree so I keep using it.

IMG_1046g

I create a new layer and add an orange color over the whole image 35% opacity.




IMG_1046h

Then lastly, in the layer properties, I set it to "overlay". It mergest the 2 layers together, gives it a tiny bit of a yellowish cast and makes the light just pop.

It's about 7-8 steps, but it literally takes me 2 minutes to do this.

If you don't want to invest hundreds of dollars on Photoshop, you can try elements, it's around $100. Or, you can go on ebay and search for the software of a version that might be a year or two older than what the current version is. I have saved hundreds this way.

Lastly, there's a free program available called Gimp that is supposed to be similar to Photoshop, but is FREE. I have never used it myself so I can not give you a review, but I have seen some very talented photographers create some amazing stuff with it.

My best advice? Make a copy of your original photo and just play and see what all the buttons do. Control+z (undo) will fix pretty much everything you screw up!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day friends! Let's celebrate!

Happy Earth day friends
{I truly had to resist the urge to put a chicken photo here}



Something really awesome happened a couple days ago. I had been outside, trying to work on the concrete on the chicken coop (that's not the awesome part. That's the sucky part) and when I came inside, there was a message on my answering machine.

It was from a reporter from the St. Joseph News Press (which is a town about 45 minutes from me). You see, Ken, the reporter, was working on an article for Earth Day and wanted to do a story about me and my nature photography.

Of course I said yes.
Duh.

So I tried to vacuum up as much chicken dust as i could, and I moved the ducks to the dining room table, and the chickens rolled to the dining room in their playpen.

Man chickens kick up a lot of pine shavings. My vacuum is full!

First Ken came yesterday and he's a really neat person. Very much a newspaper guy. Did I ever mention I used to work in a newspaper? There were 7-8 Kens there all the time so it was like visiting with an old friend. Right as he left, the photographer showed up, and I actually ended up spending more time with him than Ken. We talked about motorcycles and cameras. He has gear that makes me drool.

But we've talked about how you don't need expensive gear right!?
Right? :(

That's what I keep trying to tell myself anyway.

Sooo... Today is earth day, and the article came out. I got up at 7:45 to 5 text messages from my husband telling me I was front page news.
Above the fold.

He's very excited.
I am too. ;)


So anyway, If you've read here long enough, you know that I try to celebrate Earth Day like other holidays too. Only there's no gift wrap cuz dude, that wouldn't be earth friendly would it?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a certified tree hugger, although I do hug my trees when they actually live. Sadly a few trees are not getting hugs this year. Each year I set one or two small goals for myself that makes the earth a little bit better place than it was before. One year I started recycling, then I set a goal to plant more trees (15 trees later...), I also started a small compost pile (very recently!), and I use reusuable bags - when I remember them. grrr.

This year I'm going to do a few simple things. First, I'm going to actually USE that compost and get my beds really going around the house. It's a slow process but we're getting there. I'm still wondering how I will save my flowers from free range chickens, but that's another post for another day.

I also am going to take better care of me, because well, I'm part of this earth too and by golly everyone is stuck looking at me, I should do my best to give everyone a better view. This might entail me venturing into the organic section of the grocery store.

I'm going to try to travel less (not drive to town every stinkin day).

And lastly, I'm going to help you celebrate too.
Wha?

Yep, I'm going to give you something!!

Yay free stuff!!

Last year for Earth Day, I gave away a tree, and this year I'm going to do it again! I'm going to give away to one person that comments a Royal Empress Tree. They are quite entertaining and supposed to be fast growing. Last year, one of mine was growing an inch a day!

I picked this tree because it's hardy in most zones, but you should check out the map to make sure it works for you. If it doesn't we can always send it to your mother in law as a mother's day gift. SWEET.

To enter, you must follow these rules:
1. Leave a comment and tell me your plans for the weekend.
2. Enter only once. I'll know. Trust me. Violations will get konked with a sock full of rocks.
3. Come back and see if you were a winner!

Winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Monday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meet my Roo

Hercules the Hercu-chicken



This is Hercules, my rooster.

I was hell bent on naming him Rocky ala "Chicken Run" (love that movie) but sometimes critters have a way of naming themselves.

When we bought the chicks, we had the chicken whisperer sex the chickens for us and we told him we wanted two roosters. It didn't take us long to figure out for sure, that ONE rooster is in the bunch. (maybe two... we'll find out soon!)

Anyway, he quickly outgrew everyone else and was double their size. We started calling him Hercu-chicken and it just sort of went from there. Hence, Hercules. He's already protective of the girls. I ran the vacuum the other day and the girls all ran to the corner, but Hercules ran over and puffed up to the vacuum.

I can't keep the rest of the chickens straight. So we just call them "chick chick" or "HUSH!!"

Did I mention I'm really excited for them to go outside to their coop?

In related news, the ducks got upgraded. I have felt so guilty they are living in nothing but a tub and they are WAY TOO BIG for it. So I emptied the wading pool I bought them and it's sitting on my dining room table surrounded by boxes.

(Don't worry, it's not like I actually eat there!)

They don't know what to think of it.

Come to think of it, me neither.

Oh... btw,

Post #750. Go me.

News tomorrow! I'll share as early as possible. BTW, here's a hint.... tomorrow is Earth Day.

Warning: Worst picture of me ever. You were warned.

Yesterday, I had to pick my hubs up early from work for a doctors appt in Kansas City. This is something he has to do every couple months, and I HAVE to go because I have to pick him up from work.

It's ok, we actually like each other enough that we want to spend time together.

Weird isn't it?

When I was in St. Louis, I found out that Gene had gone to KC (well I knew he was going) but I found out that he took the top off the jeep for the first time. I was annoyed because I wanted to ride with the top down.

Then I remembered that I don't like my hair flying around when I just roll down the window and got over it.

Well, anyway, so when I went to pick him up yesterday, he suggested that we take the top off.

I made an important check - Yes, I DO have a hairband.
I'm in.


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He really is happier than he looks.

See:
(look at him, not me)


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OMG
I have a huge egg head.
And you can see straight up my nose and tell what color my brain is.

But the reflection off my glasses is cool so I'll show you anway. Plus my husband is happy and smiling.


I have not had a car that had a moon roof or convertible or ANYTHING like that since high school. (not factoring in the ex's jeep) It was a '77 Cougar with a moon roof and was the coolest ever! Plus it was like 900 feet long and really could haul ass.

Anyway, it was fun seeing the world from this new perspective that I had not seen in quite a while.

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Here's a sunset shot.
If you didn't know better you'd think we were sitting in a boat off the coast of some tropical island watching the sunset.

In reality, we're on 229 on the south side of St. Joseph, MO.

You have to be from St. Joseph, Mo to really get a big chuckle out of that.

Alas, it was cold, we reminded ourselves that it was still April and put the top back on.


Random flowering tree


Completely unrelated:
Doctors offices usually have some nice landscaping.

The short list of wants

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Yesterday, as I was getting up early from my duck alarm, I went to grab my shopping list as I was heading out the door and it made me laugh out loud.

It kinda summed up my life in 3 short "wants".

Please God, Send me milk. I'm hungry.
Please God, get some duck food, they are going insane and I'm a bad duck mom and forgot.
Please God, Send me a powerball ticket and send my worries away.

Actually, a powerball ticket would probably send me a whole new set of worries. But it hasn't stopped me from buying a couple.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Have you hugged your feathered friend (pest) today?

Bird commentary


Every time I go outside, there's always a few birds hanging out on this light pole. Squawking away, making social commentary on every move I make.

"You're doing it wrong!"
"You're not moving fast enough."
"That is the ugliest shirt ever."

It's like a mean sister-in-law or mother-in-law (that I don't have!!!) that follows you around *all. the. time.*

In other bird news, the chickens went on another field trip yesterday. All 18 of them. I even left them alone for a while. They loved it. Loved it so much that I had a rogue chicken that wouldn't come inside. I had to wait for Gene to get home to help me wrangle it. I'm going to brand it and name it "KFC".

And while I'm on a rant... I'm officially tired of the 6:30 a.m. duck alarm clock. They are in my living room, and when Gene gets up for work, they squawk their heads off wanting fed and watered. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. *insert disgusted look*

So this morning I was up by 7:45 and went to town to buy more duck food. Which reminds me, I really need to get up and do my errands early as there was barely a soul out there.

I totally get the saying "up with the chickens" now... only chickens = ducks.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Struck by a rainbow. Twice

Yesterday, we were all outside, working in the sun, not too hot, not too cool. The sun was shining brightly, and I needed my sunglasses. To be fair, I ALWAYS need my sunglasses, but that's besides the point.

Gene was on top of the coop putting on the coop roof. Of course, this involves a lot of me standing on the ground, holding things and throwing things repeatedly until they actually make it up onto the roof.

Also what it entails, is me actually looking up. A lot.

Then I just caught it perfectly. The coop framing was blocking the sun, but not what was around the sun. It was a perfectly round rainbow all the way around the sun!! It's faint, and photos don't show it quite as bright as it was in real life, but it's there!

Sundog Day 1

{Maryville, Missouri 2 p.m., Sunday, April 18}

"A sun dog or sundog (scientific name parhelion, plural parhelia, from Greek parēlion, (παρήλιον), παρά(beside) + ήλιος(sun), "beside the sun"; also called a mock sun) is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun. (formed by ice crystals)

"Sundogs may appear as a colored patch of light to the left or right of the sun, 22° distant and at the same distance above the horizon as the sun, and in ice halos. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Sundogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low."


Apparently they are quite rare, and to find one is a quite a coup.

So what kind of luck does it bring me, if I see it again the next day?

sundog Day 2

{Maryville, Missouri 12 p.m., Monday, April 19}

Powerball ticket, here I come!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review - Angel Food Ministries

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I wanted to tell you about a program, that you may have never heard of. It's called Angel Food Ministries.

Here's an excerpt from their website:
"Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. The program began in 1994 with 34 families in Monroe, Georgia (between Atlanta and Athens), and has grown to serve hundreds of thousands of families every month across 44 states. Angel Food Ministries crosses denominational lines and has spread the good news of the gospel of Christ through salvation tracts that are placed in each food order.

Blessings by the box
Angel Food is available in a quantity that can fit into a medium-sized box at $30 per unit. Each month's menu is different than the previous month and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60. Comparison shopping has been done across the country in various communities using a wide range of retail grocery stores and has resulted in the same food items costing from between $42 and $78.

Generally, one unit of food assists in feeding a family of four for about one week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The food is all the same high quality one could purchase at a grocery store. There are no second-hand items, no damaged or out-dated goods, no dented cans without labels, no day-old breads and no produce that is almost too ripe.

Also offered are specialty boxes such as steaks, chicken and pork. Many participants in this bonus program appreciate the expanded choices. Additionally, there is no limit to the number of units or bonus foods an individual can receive, and there are no applications to complete or qualifications to which participants must adhere. Angel Food Ministries also participates in the U.S. Food Stamp program, using the Off-Line Food Stamp Voucher system.

It's both a Bargain and a Blessing!"



I'd heard of this many years ago, and had never taken the time to try it out. You don't have to be on assistance, or poor. Anyone can participate. However, if you are having a hard time, this would be a good way to help make ends meet.

About a month ago, I went to the website again for the 20th time, and saw that they now did online ordering. This was a great option (it costs just a little bit more to do it this way to help defray costs), as it would otherwise mean 2 trips to a special location and I just would never remember twice!

I decided to buy the basic signature pack and we picked it up. I wanted to see how long it would last us (a family of three) and for $30, it fed us supper every single night (and a few lunches for Gene) for over a week. Honestly, we could easily spend this out in a mediocre restaurant for one meal!

There was nothing in it that did not taste good (ok, there was a frozen dinner that I should have doctored up a bit with some extra pasta), everything was very fresh tasting, and we even found a couple things we liked enough that we would start buying them in the store ourselves.

If you are having a hard go at life, and need a little extra wiggle room, $30 might feed you (an individual) for an entire month - not including breakfast items. If you are not having a hard go at life, but are on a budget, or would rather just save your money, then this program might be for you too.

To top it all off, they asked if we had any concerns or prayer needs, which caught us off guard, but shouldn't have considering we were doing our pick up in a church. So if you need a little help in that department too, I'm sure they will be happy to oblige, but I'm pretty certain they would do that whether you bought anything or not.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saint Louey

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If you ever get the chance, and you've never been, you really should take some time to visit St. Louis.

I'll never forget the first time I ever went. Thinking back, I'm surprised I was in my early twenties before I ever made it. I was a new mom and Seth (now 20) was just a little baby. We'd made a weekend road trip to Hannibal and down to St. Louis.

It was kind of magical.

Now I know what you're thinking, not many people put the words "St. Louis" and "Magical" together, but if you'd have been there, you would have too. The weather was crazy beautiful, and it was springtime.

We were down on the riverfront, and the breeze was blowing just perfect, the sky was clear, the jazz music was wafting down from the clubs a couple blocks away and just like a perfect movie, there were many couples, dressed in their prom wear with floor length gowns and tuxedos, walking the waterfront.

So St. Louis isn't ALWAYS like that, but if I had a time to pick to visit, it would be this time of year.

We got lucky.

It started out innocent enough. Amber and I decided to go to the restaurant area of downtown to walk around, look at some shops, eat a meal and possibly have some drinks. I'd take my camera and get some great pics in the process.

about 4 photos in, my camera died. (the pic above was the last one).

Seems someone didn't follow their OWN RULE, and print out the travel checklist that I *always* use for reasons just like this. No idea why, I just didn't think of it. The result was, I didn't have a back up battery.

Of course, this sets me off kilter and I become a little hyperfocused on fixing the problem. I mean, I'm a photographer, a blogger, and I'm in a town I've not been to for years... oh, and my sister ASKED me to take photos for her, and I forgot the damn battery.

I felt bad.

Then I felt bad I was ruining Amber's evening.

Then I vented on Facebook.

Finally, I tracked down a best buy, borrowed a truck, and we made it there with 20 minutes to spare. Then we shared an appetizer at Applebees and had a vent session. There was a little recovery.

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I was really fascinated with the repetition and design of the parking garage that was our view from the hotel room.

I'd like to show you a fancier view, but that's as good as it got.

So I call it "art" and move on.

Sunday was the hair show, but Monday was the arch. We hopped a cab and was there in just a few minutes. It really is as cool as it looks.

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I've been inside before, but Amber had not, and I don't believe mom had either. Those tiny squares you see at the top? Those are the windows you'll be looking out of when you get to the top.


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On the way in, we ran into a sweet couple. She was holding an actual DSLR so I knew she wouldn't look at my camera like a monkey looking at a football. She can stand upright, she knows to hold it to your eye, and she can find the button. Good enough!

We asked her to take our photo together, and then we took theirs.

We get to talking, and find out that she's there for the convention too and we end up going to the top at the same time.




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When you go, you'll ride in a little capsule kind of like this. 5 people fit in there, so if you are clausterphobic (I am) this ride might not be for you. We were ok, only 3 of us were in ours.




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Plus I'm really more scared of heights.

Why do I like going up there again?

Anyway, this is the St. Louis view from the top. Monday was opening day at Cardinals stadium, there were little red ants everywhere!

*I still love you Mark McGwire!* (somewhere in my photo stash I know I have a good shot of Big Mac's butt from 1999. Sorry, he has a nice butt. Well, he did anyway)



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It's 630 feet at the top, which did you know, is higher than the statue of liberty? I've never seen the Liberty, so knowing this, I don't know if I'd be nearly as impressed!

The arch was built the year I was born, and we had some relatives that came to visit years ago. They brought along a vintage 8mm reel and we watched movies that included the arch being built, and me as a wee baby.

You're right. It was weird.



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On the way out, someone noticed that the walls were covered with vintage looking maps with business signs. There were several hairdresser pics and we had a good laugh about it and decided on photo op with our new friend!


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You also MUST visit the cute little Mercantile shop under the arch (there's a tiny town under that thing!) It had old time feel goods and I even bought some Osceola Cheese. You just can't shake that stuff!

Amber found a bottle of "Hair wash" and we mourned for all the split ends there were in 1874.


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*and we pray*



I'd like to visit again. It was a quick trip and I found out that Tanner has never been to the top. He goes again soon and I will squash him like a bug if he doesn't ride up.

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Tanner you are warned.

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