Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Patriotic Celebration

(photo credit)

The Fourth of July is coming up soon, and for our country that’s a BIG deal.  The fourth is our Independence Day when we celebrate our nation’s freedom.  (I say that because there are a few non-Americans who actually read my blog) Sometimes I let it become all about the family picnics and fireworks, but not this year.

Flag&Bible Pictures, Images and Photos(photo credit)

Fortunately, for me and my community, I am able to participate in a Patriotic Celebration at my church that honors God, our military, and first responders (police, firefighters, EMS, and 911 operators).  Every year, we do a big choir number and have our military come forward to be honored.  This year’s arrangement includes a lot of songs about our flag and our freedom. 

American Flag Pictures, Images and Photos(Photo credit)

The video that is shown while we’re singing is incredible.  I can’t watch it without tearing up, so it’s a good thing I can’t see it while we’re singing!  Some of the images are of soldiers saying goodbye to family, some are of Arlington National Cemetery and all the white headstones, and some are of our flag.

image(photo credit)

One song in particular is titled “There She Stands.”  It’s about how, in the darkest moments in our nation’s history, someone has raised the flag high and given our enemy no victory over their attack. 

image(Our choir director has informed us that a WWII Veteran will be at our church on Sunday who was there to witness this one!  How amazing is that?!)

The moment that gets me the most is the one I witnessed in my own lifetime.


Images from September 11, 2001 will never leave me.  The moment I see a picture of the flag, twin towers, or the rubble, I turn to mush.  I am immediately transported back to that day and time and feel the sadness, disbelief and confusion all over again.  I can’t believe that it was 10 years ago already.

I hope I’m able to make it through the service on Sunday morning with no tears.  I’m sure that’s a long shot, since I’ve been tearing up at every practice we’ve had.  It’s so powerful.  I feel it’s a privilege to stand up on that stage and honor our military men and women as well as our police and fire fighters.  Political differences and frustrations aside, I thank every single one of them for the freedom I have living in this country. 

And I kinda love that images of our flag makes me teary. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Outdoor Photography

I wanted to share some of my photos from my outdoor photography class from last weekend’s Women in the Outdoors event. As always, please feel free to leave your critiques.  I’m still learning, and though I love playing around with Photoshop, I know it can be over used. And of course, there’s always setting up the picture in my camera that could be a problem.  So, feel free to leave your feedback – even if you’re not a photographer.  Anyone can tell if they like a photo or not.  (you can click on the image to make it bigger)


This next one I thought I would try a tilt shift effect on.  Tilt shift is when you make a real picture look like a miniature or model.  This picture is not the best set up for doing a really great tilt shift, but something about the grass and gravel under the chairs made me see it as a model.  What do you think?


I’m not sure I love the texture on the next one, but I love the picture of the muddy boot.  This was when I started feeling like the class nerd.  I went up to a perfect stranger and said “may I take a picture of  your boot?”  After the strange look, she said yes.  From then on, I was the dork with the camera, taking pictures between shooting bowling pins and riding ATVs.  Luckily, I didn’t know anyone and will probably never see them again.

Photography class


Who doesn’t love a good cowboy picture?

I’m still learning to take good pictures, and I’m always going to be learning how to edit well, but I’m definitely loving my new hobby.  Who knew that I would love taking pictures so much?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I’m a Woman in the Outdoors

Have you ever heard of Women in the Outdoors?


It’s part of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and it’s a day (or 3 days) of outdoor activities just for women.  Their goal in doing these events is to get more women involved in outdoor activities such as hunting, shooting, and camping.   At this particular event, there were 15 sessions we could choose from, but we only got to go to 4 of them. I wish I could have gone to all of them!  Well, maybe not the Boot Camp session.  Who needs to work out when you’re having a day of fun!  I ranked my top 10 sessions, and the ones I didn’t get to go to were Muzzleloader shooting, shotguns with clay pigeons, kayaking, archery, turkey hunting basics, bow fishing (where you hunt for fish with a bow and arrow) and repelling.  What I did get to go to was outdoor photography, bowling pin shoot, ATVing, and orienteering.  It was such a fun day!!

My friend, Beth was the one who introduced me to WITO.  She went to a 3 day event and loved it.  I went to the next one that was close to me and that was back in October.  Beth wasn’t able to go to that one, but my friend Heather was.  We LOVED it!  We got to make a necklace –which isn’t very ‘outdoorsy’ but it does have a piece of deer antler on it – shoot a .22g shotgun and a .22 revolver (handgun), and practice our archery skills-of which I have none apparently.  (Heather was a sharp shooter with the bow and arrow.  She loved it!) 

This time, Heather wasn’t able to go, but Beth was, so the two of us took off on a rainy morning to enjoy the outdoors.  One of these days the three of us will get to go together.  That will be such a blast!

Women in the Outdoors, Johnstown, OH

Here are the pictures and details from my sessions this weekend.  I can’t tell you how much fun I had all day.

These are some of the photos I took during my outdoor photography class.  A photographer let us search out our own photos, then come back to upload what we shot onto her computer.  She gave us some good feedback that was pretty helpful.  These are some of the SOOC shots I took. 

P6110028P6110072Photography classPhotography class

The sportsman club that held this event was huge, so to get to some of our sessions, we got to hitch a ride on a hay wagon.  That was very thoughtful of them. 

Free rides to our sessions

This was my instructor for Bowling Pin Shoot.  She was amazing.  She is an NRA instructor of NRA instructors.  She knows her stuff!


I loved how she had visual aides for us to see how we were supposed to line up our gun sights.  So helpful!  In fact, it was so helpful that I made every shot!  That’s right! EVERY SHOT!  I actually missed once, but I had more bullets, so I got it with the next one. Just call me Annie Oakley!

Teaching us what the sights should look like

The object of Bowling Pin Shoot is to knock down all the pins in the fastest time.  Because our guns held more than 5 rounds, they set up those tiny little spinner targets on the ground.  See how tiny they are?  Yeah, I hit all three.  Yep.  Sharp Shooter!

I hit all 5 pins and 3 little spinners

I used a .22 semi automatic, .38 revolver, and a .9mm semi automatic.  If that makes sense to you, good for you.  If not, I can’t explain it.  I practiced saying that all day so I could go home and brag to my hunter-husband that I had a perfect shooting day. I don’t know what it all means, really.  I just know that I hit Every Target Every Time.  (too much bragging?  I’ll stop now)

Sharp Shooter!

My next session was ATVing.  I’ve never been on an ATV before.  I had no clue how those things worked.  I was scared to death to have full control of one with people around.  But the instructor was such a nice and patient man.  He helped me feel confident on the machines, and I ended up becoming quite the dare devil.

ATV class.downsize-2 copy

This is a shot of some women repelling.  It’s one of the sessions I did NOT take.  I’m okay with that.


My final session was Orienteering.  We learned how read maps and how to use one of those ‘fancy’ compasses with the little eye looky thing.  Rick has one, and I had no clue how to use it.  It’s quite simple, and it really works!

CompassesWe also measured how many steps we take in 100 feet.  I take around 43 or 44.  It was useful for what we were doing this day, but I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten why it’s useful in the wilderness.  But I do have this handy dandy chart that helps me remember my count. 

I take 43 steps in 100 ft.  It's good to know.

I had such a great time at this WITO event.  You should totally check it out to see if it’s ever in your area.  Both events I’ve been to have been such a fun time.  Everyone is so nice, the food is awesome, and the instructors are so helpful.  They had silent raffles and prize drawings in the afternoon.  (I was one number away from winning an all inclusive hunting trip to IL for my hubby.  grrrr!) 

When you finish a day of shooting guns, cooking in dutch ovens, shooting a bow and arrow, and running around on an ATV, you can’t help but want to be in the outdoors all the time.  You should really check it out and go to an event near you.  Who knows, it might awaken the inner Annie Oakley or Tred Barta in you. (preferably with fewer swear words)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Foto Friday–Action

I’m going to make this short and sweet.  At least I’m going to try to make this short and sweet.  Sometimes I can ramble for a looooong time before I catch myself.  I’ll get right to the picture today.


This is one of my nephews.  He and his brother play Upwards basketball every year, and I try to make it to at least one game of theirs if I can. 

I love that this shot expresses his personality to a tee. While everyone around him is moving, he is standing still.  If there is a way for this boy to do something opposite of how everyone else does it, he’ll find it. He’ll probably do it well, and possibly better than anyone else can do it, but he’ll do it in his own sweet time.     He’s a lot like his mother.  Love you, Sister!


I liked this black and white edit using a Paint the Moon action.  I think it looks like a yearbook or newspaper picture.

In honour (I’m feeling British right now) of my find-a-different-way-to-look-at-things nephew, I thought I’d try a funky look to this photo as well.  It’s not one that I’d hang on my wall, but I think it’s kind of fun for this action shot.


As always, please head over to Kim’s blog at Mom Tried It and check out the other action shots for today. 

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Craft Out of Necessity

My husband rides his bicycle into work each morning.  Wait, let me go back and reword that.  My husband USED to ride his bicycle into work each morning.  He USED to park in a free parking lot about a mile from his downtown office building.  He USED to ride a paved trail that lead him right to his workplace.  He USED to save our family $80 a month by doing this.  Enter: Winter Weather and Spring (and Summer) rains.  Now, he’s not so much riding his bicycle as he is taking it in the back of his truck every morning and parking in the garage by his office building. 

Now that summer is here, he’s trying to get himself back into the habit of riding in again.  Though I love that riding in to work saves us money, I don’t so much love the grease-stained pant legs that have become a part of every pair of pants the man owns.  I should have come up with this craft last year.

I decided it was time to make him some pant cuffs to wrap around his pant legs that will keep them from flapping into the bike chain.  I looked through my stash of fabric, found the ‘manliest’ color I could find, and bought some Velcro.  Except for the one Velcro tab I had to remove after stitching on the wrong side of the cuff, it was a very easy and quick project.  If I can do it, anyone can!

Here’s the stuff I used.  Light blue isn’t all that manly perhaps, but it does match all his blue shirts he wears to the office. 


Cut two strips of fabric oh, about 4 inches wide. I didn’t really measure much of anything, but I did have him wrap my fabric around his leg initially so knew at least how long it had to be.  I think it was around 12.5 inches or so that he needed around his leg, so I cut them about 16 inches long.  You can never go back if it’s too short!


Iron and sew them into two strips that look like this.  No biggie.  I did two rows of straight stitches to make them more secure.


Then, sew Velcro along the ends.  But not like this picture shows.  Put the Velcro tabs on opposite sides! Can you believe this is the second one I did?  I did the first one perfectly, then I got careless.  I had to rip out the stitches from the second cuff I did.  Ripping stitches is not fun.  Don’t be like me.


WHALAA!  A bike-pant-leg-cuff thingy!  P6040007

Now, if you REALLY want to be like me, have the wearer try it on and realize you made it WAY too long.  Then go back and cut out the middle and sew the two pieces back together for a shorter cuff.   


I made two, but Rick tells me he only needs one.  That’s fine.  Now I have an extra in case he forgets or looses the first.  I hope this helps with the stains.  Though, I’m not sure I’ll see the benefits until we buy new pants.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Color Learning Activity

I read a lot of blogs.  A.LOT of blogs.  Many of them have activities to do with young children.  I watch what those women do with their children and think “I could totally do that!” and then I don’t do it.

Poor Jack.

So, today, I’m starting a new schedule for us.  I’m adding more learning activities into his daily routine.  I should have already been doing this, but I’m a lazy mother, so I haven’t yet.

Poor Jack.

Today, I came up with an activity off the cuff.  (which is a nicer way to say “I pulled it out of my you-know-where”) Jack already knows his colors very well.  He sometimes mixes up pink and purple, but other than that, he’s got all his colors down pat.  So, I decided to start with an activity where I knew he’d have success right away.

I traced a roll of masking tape onto plain white drawing-pad paper.  Then I had him color each circle (which I also asked him to name for me since I knew he knew it) a different color.  I handed him a crayon and told him which circle to color.  Next time I would let him pick which circle to color, but I was moving things right along today.


After he colored each circle a different color, I put the paper on the living room/play room floor and said, “Now go find a red toy and put it on the red circle.”  He did!  He did the same for all of the colors.  It was pretty quick, but he did have to go searching a bit for a few of the colors.

P6060143then looked for a toy of each color and put it in the circle...

I cleared the paper, and asked him to find another red toy for the red circle.  You could tell by the look in his eye that he wanted to use the same toy he’d already used, but I’d put the toys in my lap so they were ‘out of play’ for this round.  He found a new round of toys without much trouble at all.

He did it a few times for me.

We did it a third time, which I could tell was the last round for him.  When he put a plane down on the red circle (for it’s red wheels), the plane wouldn’t stay on the circle.  Jack said It kept flying away. 

That plane  off to the left wouldn't stay on the paper Jack says. It was cute.

He was so proud of himself and what he was able to accomplish.  I only had to help him find one toy through all the rounds.

He was pretty proud of himself for finding all the colors.

I think he’s going to love his new learning activities thrown in throughout his days.  Now, Mommy has to learn to plan ahead.  It’s like writing lesson plans all over again!  AAAAAHHHHH!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Please Don’t Read This Post!

I want to tell you to disregard this post, because it’s about a giveaway that I want to win.  If I blog about Rachel’s giveaway, I get another chance to win.  And I WANT TO WIN this giveaway.  If you go to Dreaming of the Country and see how fabulous this giveaway is, you’re liable to take away my chance to win.  So, please, PLEASE disregard this post.

I don’t want you to go here and see for yourself the most beautiful bag that I want to win.  I don’t want you to enter as many times as you can.  I don’t even want you to still be reading this post about the best giveaway ever!

So, just disregard this quick note.  M’kay?  Thanks!

*Did I mention that Rachel lives in Aberystwyth, Wales?  And I’ve been there before.  And she’s awesome enough to allow us “foreigners” to enter her giveaway?  And she’s just plane awesome anyway?  But don’t let that make you go read her awesome blog.  Really.  Just wait until after the giveaway, then go see how cool she is.  'M’Kay?  Thanks.

Foto Friday–FOOD

What a great topic for Foto Friday.  I love food.  You can tell by my picture.  I love food A LOT.

I love sugar most of all.  Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish are two of my favorites.  One of my friends on our Girls Trip 2011 brought candy for our gift bags.  I love her!  She brought Sprees and a sour patch type gummie bear.  I did my friend duty to collect anyone’s extra candy that they may not have wanted.  Who knew that there are people in this world who don’t like sugar!?

As I was editing this shot, I couldn’t figure out which picture I liked best, so I decided to put them both up.  One shows how bright and vivid the colors of the candies are, and the other one is just a cool processed shot with a new texture.  I have been corrupted by Kim at Mom Tried It, because she keeps sending me links to actions and textures for Photoshop.  I love her!!  It’s so fun to play around with my picture editing now.  It’s even more fun to have someone to go through this learning and experimenting process with. 

Here ‘ya go.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Enjoy some sugar! I’m sure I will at some point.


Oh, and a big THANK YOU to Kim for featuring my picture on her blog today.  She liked my train track picture from last week’s Foto Friday, so she featured it on her post today.  That makes me feel like a real photographer or something!!  Thanks so much, Kim.  I’m the Photoshop junkie I am because of you!


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