Tuesday, March 31, 2009

93/365 - My Sous Chef

Brian served as my Sous Chef this evening, cutting up the green onions for tonight's Pad Thai dinner. He also helped me trim the bean sprouts and chop some garlic.


For some reason, Brian really likes to eat raw green onion. So when he became bored working on the bean sprouts, he decided to cut up another green onion stalk and proceeded to eat it. That was all fine until he realized the green onion was quite pungent in taste and started to burn his mouth. He then spent the next 2 minutes or so scrambling to get a glass of water and gulping down several cups. Just some routine fun in the kitchen!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

91/365 - Spring Snow

We can add the re-emergence of snow to our lovely Spring-time weather.
I do feel fortunate that we didn't receive 4", like some of our neighbors, and it had all melted by the time we left church at noon.

Now that the obligatory "Snow in Spring" has occurred, can we bring on the real Spring weather?


Saturday, March 28, 2009

90/365 - BLT Pasta Bake

Erica's (current) favorite dish - pasta with bacon, leeks and tomato, in a cheese sauce. The recipe is from Rachel Ray's 365 - No Repeats cookbook.

It's a perfect comfort type food, and with today's "Spring" weather, very appropriate. Yeah, Spring today consisted of 20 mph whipping winds, 35 degree temperature and rain. Love that mid-west Spring weather.


Friday, March 27, 2009

89/365 - Car Wash

I succumbed to Scott's gentle suggestion that I take better care of the Corolla. I enlisted Brian to help me wash the car. I don't remember the last time I actually washed a car - it's probably been years!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

88/365 - Goofy Kids

Grandma concluded her visit with us this morning and she's on the plane back to NY. We really enjoyed her visit and can't wait for her to come back at Christmastime.

With Grandma gone, Kathleen came over this afternoon, and they all played Clue / Pirate dice. When I announced I was going to take a picture, they got all silly on me (not too surprising), grabbed Hannah and this is result:


They are getting ready to torture Hannah, for sure. And that's Brian's foot. This picture just makes me want to laugh!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Blog Layout

After a couple nights testing this new Blog Layout, I finally uploaded the tweaked template.

I am using the "Spain" Template from OurBlogTemplates. I did widen things out a little bit - this will allow my linked pictures from Flickr to display properly.

The Title Banner picture is from the North Coast of Mull, an Isle of Scotland. One of the most beautiful places I have had the privilege to visit back in 2007.

Hope you like the new layout. OurBlogTemplates has a wonderful assortment of Blog templates designed for Blogger, so if you want something like the Horizontal Link List or 3+ Multiple columns be sure to check them out.


87/365 - Harry Potter Clue

With Grandma visiting, we always play Clue.
How many versions do we have? At least 5 different versions! The nice thing is each version is played differently (unlike Monopoly, which only changes up the property names and icons).

So tonight's version is Harry Potter Clue. So far, Scott reigns as the HP Clue champ.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

86/365 - St Louis Arch

A trip to St Louis wouldn't be complete without a trip to the top of the Arch. This was Grandma's first trip to the top, and our 3rd time. Even after several trips up, it was still enjoyable.
The high winds added some thrills to the trip - you could feel the Arch moving with the wind gusts!

A Panoramic view of Downtown St Louis:
To get the full effect, click to access my flickr stream and select the bigger size. I used AutoStitch to create the panoramic from 4 different photos.

Shirley and Scott at 632 feet:

Looking up at the Arch:


Monday, March 23, 2009

85/365 - St Louis Zoo, Union station

On Monday we ventured to the St Louis Zoo. The last time we visited, we only saw a fraction of the exhibits - in the summer, the kids really melt in the humid St Louis sun. Today's spring weather was perfect.

The Humbolt penguins don't mind the warmer weather and enjoyed being outdoors.

The Emperor penguins thrive in cold temperatures. The exhibit is maintained at 40 degF and even at those cool temperatures, these guys gathered around the air conditioning vents.

After dinner on The Hill, we explored Union Station where Erica, Brian and Shirley jumped on the trampoline / bungee cord Power Jump.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

84/365 - City Museum Monstrocity

A visit to The City Museum in St. Louis elicits many emotions - wonder, awe, fear and determination. Labyrinths of tunnels, climbing structures, multi-leveled slides constructed of various materials dominate the eclectic and artistic facility. Perhaps the museum's most impressive feature - an enormous outdoor climbing structure called "The MonstroCity".

At first, we (the adults) let Brian (the most adventurous) climb and explore while we remained spectators.

But it didn't take long for the rest of us to join in the adventure of climbing up some wrought iron structure into gutted planes, wire cages and the like.

Brian and Scott maneuver across a wire tunnel to reach the 7 story high slide.

I'll post more pictures I as get them processed (we took over 180 pictures over our 3 day trip).


Saturday, March 21, 2009

83/365 - DVD Release

We didn't stay up until midnight last night to obtain our copy, but we made a special trip to the Wal-Mart to pick up a copy this afternoon. Two screenings so far since.


Friday, March 20, 2009

82/365 - By the Window

For Project 365, I have been taking a self portrait for the past 4 or 5 Friday's. Being behind the camera all the time usually means I am not in any of the pictures. And while I really don't like having my picture taken, I realize having a record of me (aging more every day!) is just as important as pictures of my kids.

So here you go - I'm relaxing with a strawberry banana smoothie after work.

Today was a little cooler (high of 50 deg F), but still plenty of sun. With daylight savings time, we can enjoy more of the bright sun after getting home.


Blog Adjustments

Since launching my second blog and posting all of my Project 365 pictures there, I feel the content of this blog has been less about our family (it's original intent). So I have decided to incorporate more of my Project 365 pictures to this Blog and use Behind the Lens to house my photography endeavors - techniques, photo challenges and creative post processing experiments.

Most likely, my daily pictures will be split between the two blogs, so be sure to check both of them out.

I also plan to change out this blog template. I like the general layout, but I think it is time for a CHANGE. Yeah, color me crazy today.


Friday Fill Ins #116

Brian says "talk to the foot"

1. Why do we have to be exposed to the constant drone of doomsday news? Some good news has got to be around the corner.

2. Working out, photographing the daily stuff and driving slower are now habits.

3. I have a winning March Madness Bracket. Really.

4. I had never heard the phrase "talk to the hand" and it struck me as very disrespectful. My kids don't use the phrase (they tend to make a joke out of it - like "talk to the foot", then they fall over laughing)

5. It would be nice if the kids would hang up their coats the way I always do.

6. How was I to know these tween years would be so challenging. I know, the real fun is just about to start.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to actually getting some scrapping done (after 3 or 4 weeks without creating anything), tomorrow my plans include running 11 miles and Sunday, I want to enjoy our trip to St Louis!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Start of March Madness

My picks for the 2009 NCAA Tournament:

And since I know you can't read that, here's my Final Four, Champion Game and overall winner:

Final Four: Louisville, UConn, Villanova, and North Carolina
Final Two: UConn and North Carolina
Winner: North Carolina

The funny thing? Scott has the same exact picks. And we make our picks in complete secrecy. I guess marriage makes you think the same.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

More pictures - Illinois Expo, Krannert Art Museum

I posted on my photography blog some pictures from the day's visit to the Naturally Illinois Expo and Krannert Art Museum. Here are the rest of today's pictures:

Row of unearthed fossils

Brian inspects his fossil

George and his fossil

Henry shows me his fossil

Walking through the Krannert Museum

I love the curves of the main exhibit hall

Early African art


Eerie Silence

Lee over at the LINARstudio posted today about this morning's silence she found un-nerving. She finally found the whereabouts of her children which broke the silence.

Her post was parallel to my morning's experience.
Complete silence here in my house.

Silence? How?

Simple - I was alone

- no Scott (in Indy at the Big 10 Tourney with Dave G)
- no kids (both sleeping over at friends)

Just me and the cats.

Heavy silence.

I admit - it was rather eerie and lonely.


Special Award!

My kind Blog friend, the lovely Sherry in California, has awarded me with the "When Life Gives You Lemons" Award. Sherry - I am so honored to receive this award! I love how Sherry's Faith shines through her Blog and how transparent she is to the world. She is always an inspiration and I hope to meet her in person one day!

The essence of the Lemonade Award:

Post the logo on your blog.

Nominate blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.

Link to the nominees within your blog post.

Notify the recipients of the award by commenting on their blog.

Share the love and link back to the person from whom you received your award.

I'm going to nominate

Traci, who recently challenged us to find beauty and love in every day life.

, who has a wonderful eye when it comes to taking pictures. She shares something to inspire me every day.

I hope you check out these ladies' great blogs and remember to choose to be thankful for those lemons.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Fill Ins #115

Today's view from Brian's Room. The orange things are goldfish swimming around.

1. When I look to the left, I see the Family Room. Normally, one of the kids (that includes Scott) is playing Mario Kart Wii on the TV.

2. Brian's Bedroom is the room that has the best view in my home. That's because his room overlooks the fish pond.

3. Let it work it's way out.

4. Dirty Deeds done dirt cheap! (Now I have a song wedgie in my head)

5. Jury Duty is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share. I've never been called to Jury Duty. Scott served as the foreman on a jury once.

6. If you have any grievances, feel free to voice them, but please, don't just complain - try to provide a solution.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sleeping well after this morning's 10 miler, tomorrow my plans include running 4-5 miles, grocery shopping and laundry and Sunday, I want to get the house straightened up! You know, that sounds SO boring! I need to get out more!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

12 on March 12

I'm a tad bit late with this month's installment of 12 on 12, but I was taking pictures until 8pm, and that's almost bedtime for us here! To make up for it, I have two additional pictures.

With Daylight Savings in effect, we now get to watch the sunrise while getting ready for school and work. It was warm last week, but cold settled back in a couple of days ago causing the condensation on the windows.

Taking the on-ramp to the Interstate to work. With the clouds today, a faint rainbow formed a halo around the sun - very beautiful. I wasn't able to take a picture, even though I pulled in a rest stop along the highway - the halo came and went. But I enjoyed it for 7 miles down the road.

Stopped to get gas. I can't complain about the prices!

But filling up the SUV in these temperatures with a 15 mph wind wasn't fun!

After work, I visited our library's Book Mobile, which stops in our neighborhood. Unfortunately, it was decided to discontinue to the Book Mobile Operation at the end of May due to operational costs. I am very sad to see it go - it provides a wonderful service for busy people and home bound folks who can't get out to the Main Library.

My favorite section of the book mobile - the cookbooks!

Look what came in the mail - a new toy for Shirley. Can you guess what it is?

A remote control for my camera! I had a lot of fun playing with it.

Brian doing his math homework. Notice the piece of pie next to the homework - we purchased two pies for Erica to bring to school tomorrow. See, March 14th is Pi day (get it? 3/14 - 3.14 = Pi, the constant used to determine the area and circumference of a circle? Yeah, I know I am a geek!). Our mistake - purchasing the pies two days before they were needed. Both pies have been eaten, so I have to go out to buy another on tonight.

Look! A Robin! A sure sign of spring. We consider ourselves lucky not to have any snow on the ground at this time!

Tonight is Family Math and Science Night at Brian's school. His teacher, Ms. O, sponsored math games in her classroom. We played Multiplication Baseball (Brian whupped my tushie - he has his multiplication facts down!)

And we inspected Brian's desk - very neat and tidy!

Ms. O's class schedule for tomorrow was already posted:

The Humane Society brought in several displays, including two bunnies and these dog collars. Brian and Drew had a blast putting them on:

We finally left the school around 8pm - then we drove to the store to buy that pie. This one was a peach pie. I'm sure the 6th graders will have fun with Pi day tomorrow.


Monday, March 09, 2009

PD the Beagle

Image from google images, www.pet-breeds.com

Every now and then, you experience a series of events that make you realize things work themselves out, even under bad circumstances. No, I am not talking about the economy, the recession, my family or my pitiful boring life. I am talking about the stray dog that appeared at our workplace last Wednesday, shivering cold, scared and hurt in his back legs.

As I work for a chemical company, our manufacturing facility sits amidst the vast acres of cornfields, about 5 miles outside of town. To have a visibly traumatized dog show up at the front door is unusual. The first employee to arrive Wednesday morning found the shivering beagle in the bushes and brought him in, giving him refuge in the warm office area. He simply lay on a blanket fashioned out of a work uniform, shaking when others appeared to take a look-see. News of this gentle dog spread quickly, prompting a trip to the grocery store to purchase dog food, and an official naming of the beagle – “PD”, the initials for “Plant Dog”.

There were concerns that PD had been injured by a car or had been “dropped off” in the country, and several employees were reluctant to take him to the local county animal shelter, fearful that he might be destroyed. We determined PD to be at least 10 years old, but well taken care of, baring the issues with his hind legs.

One employee was coerced in transporting PD to a neighboring county’s animal shelter, where he would not be euthanized. Jeff reluctantly agreed, but in leaving late that evening, did not make it to the shelter in time. Jeff brought PD home, where his youngest son, seven year old Jack, immediately bonded with PD. PD spent the night in Jack’s room, and the next day, Jack spent hours reading books to PD.

At work we all became immersed with what might be PD’s fate – would Jeff’s family take him in? Another employee’s wife wanted to adopt PD – would Jim allow it? So much of the hallway conversation Thursday centered around the cute stray beagle instead of routine work topics (like slow orders, slow production rates, you know, the really depressing stuff during a recession).

Jeff was adamant about getting PD to the animal shelter Thursday night. He even left work at 3pm in order to ensure he had enough time. Imagine our surprise Friday when we learned PD was back at the office. Jim’s wife had arranged to take PD to the local vet school. Earlier that morning, Jack had to say goodbye to PD – they took their picture together – then Jack ran back upstairs to his room.

In calling around to arrange for PD’s care, the local animal shelter learned of PD and sent a worker over. Reports of a missing male beagle had reached the shelter, and they suspected PD was that missing beagle. PD left the site around noon on Friday, having earned the compassion of so many of us at work.

We learned today that PD reunited with his owner – a young boy, who, during PD’s time away, kept a nightly watch and vigil for his missing beagle. Jeff has decided to get Jack a beagle puppy for his 8th birthday in June.

And we were all grateful that things worked out for PD, who seemed to have many odds against him last Wednesday. Something we should remember during these tough times.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Last Early Morning Sun for Now.....

This morning's sunrise at the plant, around 6:45am

This is what we'll miss starting Sunday morning - with the time change back to Daylight Savings Time, it will be dark at 7:00am, with the sun starting to rise a little around 7:20. The one benefit - I'll get to watch the sun rise as I drive the kids to school / work. I also know the morning darkness is only temporary, and we get that extra daylight in the evening.

I'll have to remember that on Monday when I'm stumbling out of bed, half asleep.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Guest Photographer - Brian

I was photographing the Lemonade cookies for today's Project 365 photo when Brian declared he wanted to take a picture, too. He arranged the cookies on the table and played around with the camera's zoom before taking the picture. I helped a tiny little bit - I stabilized the heavy lens to minimize camera shake. Oh, and I did straighten the photo in PhotoShop. That's about it.

Brian snapped two pictures, but he decided he liked this one the best.

It was a fun experience - I think we might have a budding photographer in our midst!

On slightly related topic - part of our Girl Scout cookies were delivered today. I ordered from 2 girls, so did Scott. So far we have 14 boxes, with at least 5 more boxes to come. The majority in this household favors the Peanut Butter Patties, then Thin Mints, followed by Shortbreads. For me, Lemonade cookies eclipsed the Shortbreads and Thin Mints last year. I feel fortunate the kids don't care for them.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

More Sara Bareilles - Video Links from the Concert

I am always amazed what you can find on youtube.

Two video links from the concert I attended Sunday night.

First, Sara's rendition of Umbrella. Yeah, I sang along (well, I think I sang along to all the songs I knew):

And Gravity:


Monday, March 02, 2009

Sara Bareilles Concert

Image by Cody Bralts

A not so quick post on the amazing, amazing Sara Bareilles concert I attended last night at the U of I Foellinger Auditorium. If you are a Sara B fan, you MUST see her live. If you can't see her live, then buy her Live at the Filmore DVD to get a flavor of her live performances. I think she sounds better in a live venue, less constrained musically, and her voice, it is just amazing.

On her Gravity tour, Sara is playing small, intimate venues, and apparently, the 1750 seat Foellinger Auditorium is much larger than most of the other venues. But I don't think that mattered - Sara and her band chit-chatted with the audience and each other, giving the accoustic show a very personal feel. Sara did share that once this tour wrapped up, she will head back into the recording studio (yay!).

A quick run down of the concert / songs she sang:

  • A song about the end of the tour? I hadn't heard the song before. Sara on piano. Edited to add: after some research, found out the song was "Undertow", from her Careful Confessions CD (that you can't seem to get anymore hoping they will re-release the whole thing or add the songs to the next album)
  • Fairtale - Sara on piano
  • Sara brought out the members of the band - they performed One Sweet Love, with Sara on the ukelale (Ingrid Michaelson influence here - ref Winter Song).
  • Sara shared her U2 - Bono moment and to commemorate, performed a cover of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. I thought it was funny.
  • With Sara back at the piano, the band launched into my favorite song of the night, Come Around Soon, which segued into Vegas.
  • The greatest departure of the night was a jazzy rendition of Bottle It Up. No quaint "Love, Love, Love" introduction here. It sounded like a new song until about 2/3rds into the song. Just goes to show you Sara isn't some manufactured pop princess.
  • New song, upbeat Gonna Get Over You
  • Many the Miles, which she encouraged the audience to sing along.
  • Love Song (probably the song performed with the least amount of departure from the studio recording - she probably hates this song.)
  • Her initial set closed with a cover - of all things - Umbrella by Rhiana, with Sara playing ukelale again. I didn't even recognize the song until the chorus! A little cheeky but fun.
  • Of course, she sang two encores - first, a cover of Bruce Springsteen's I'm on Fire. She performed this as a duet with Tony Lucca, the guitarist who opened for her.
  • Finally, her last song and tour's namesake - Gravity. A perfect song to end the evening's concert.
I took some pictures, many came out blurry, but I'll try to see what I can make them into. I wasn't really allowed to bring my "professional camera" into the event, so I was discreet about taking pictures. Instead, I enjoyed the performance.


Copyright Notice

All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of SLPhotography and shirley319 (© 2009, 2010). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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