Monday, February 20, 2012

Minnie Mouse + Lady Gaga = The Princess

I took The Princess to Disneyland for two days last week. This was her second trip, the first taking place when she was two years old. She had a blast! She was well-behaved and funny and fun to be with. All in all, it was a great trip. And then there's this:

She chose a hat. The Princess is such a diva!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-- Newborn Granddaughter

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Valentine for My Hillbilly

In honor of Valentine's Day (and for the Monday Listicle) I present: 10 Things I Love About My Hillbilly.

1. He spoils me rotten. If I want to take a trip, we take a trip. If I want to see a movie, we see a movie. If I want to go out to dinner, we go out to dinner. In return for all this spoiling, I do my best to spoil him back. He deserves it.

2. He takes care of me. The other day, he came in from another room and asked if I had used my inhaler because my breathing didn't sound good. He makes sure I take my vitamins. Mostly, he's there for me when I'm sad or worried. When I start acting stressed out, he'll pull me onto his lap and just hold me until I relax. Then he talks me through whatever is bothering me and lets me find the answers.

3. He doesn't tell me what to do. He asks, but he never tells.

4. He loves my children. He has been there for them during some difficult times. He instinctively knows just how much advice he can give without offending them. He knows when it's time to let me do the talking. He enjoys spending time with them as much as I do.

5. We don't have "His and Her" grandchildren. Our grandchildren are our grandchildren. Neither of us would have it any other way.

6. He makes me laugh. He likes to make me laugh, and I enjoy his sense of humor.

7. He makes me feel safe. I know he'll never hurt me, and he'll protect me from as much of the world as he possibly can.

8. He makes me beautiful. I felt old and ugly for many years before I met My Hillbilly. I had been led to believe that there was nothing attractive in me. He came along and saw nothing but beautiful. I believed him.

9. He's smart. He can do math in his head, y'all!! I never have to dumb down my vocabulary for him. He makes wise decisions. He sees and understands situations clearly and quickly.

10. He has the most beautiful, tender heart I've ever known. The man is 60 years old, and outdoorsy and rugged. He hunts and fishes. But he's not ashamed to cry. He is touched by the pain of others. He loves deeply.

Wow! I've gotten to 10, and I'm not nearly finished. After my first marriage ended, I read
a book by Neil Clark Warren that suggested making of a list, before you start dating, of 10 characteristics a partner must have. These are 10 non-negotiables that will help you recognize that someone is the person you can be compatible with the rest of your life. It didn't take me long to recognize that My Hillbilly had all 10 things on my list. Since then I've just found more and more to love about him.

We've never had a real argument in our 8 years of marriage. Mostly, we just focus on making one another happy. And it works. Because we are.

Still my favorite picture of us.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Focal length: How long is your focal?

Waaaay back in November I started sharing the lessons I've been learning about photography. I've been using several different books and doing different exercises.

In my first post we learned about selecting image size and quality in our camera settings.

Today, we're talking about focal length. Focal length is the distance from the optical center of the lens to the camera sensor. This distance is measured in millimeters, so that's what those lens lengths mean. You know, it's a 50mm lens or a 28-105mm zoom lens. So focal length literally refers to the length of the lens. A long lens has a higher number (focal length) than a short lens. The smaller the focal length, the wider the angle, so a lens with a focal length of 35 or less is considered a wide angle lens.

So what's the point of knowing that when I'm taking pictures? Using the wrong focal length can give me distorted pictures with curved lines that are supposed to be straight and big noses on small-nosed people.

Today's exercise is to take a picture of the same thing several different times. Start with the smallest focal length on your zoom lens. Stand where the object fills your viewfinder and take the picture. Change the focal length and move so that the object fills your viewfinder again. Do this from several spots. When you look at the pictures, notice the curvature of the lines. Look for any distortion.

I chose to use the kit lens that came with my camera, a Canon T3. The lens is a 18-55mm zoom lens. I started at 18mm.

Notice how much of the front of the car is taken up by the grill. This is the "big nose" effect. Do this to a person, and their nose looks enormous.

I backed up and changed the focal length to 24mm. The grill seems smaller, less rounded.

I moved back and changed the focal length to 34mm. The front end definitely looks less bulbous.

I moved back last time and used my longest focal length, 55mm.

The moral of the story is that we don't want to use a wide-angled lens (shorter focal length) while standing too close to an object or a person. To make this even clearer, I made my Hillbilly smile for a couple shots.

See what I mean?

In the future, as we're taking pictures, we need to be aware of which focal length will give us the picture we want. I definitely want my Hillbilly to look like the lower picture.

Other posts in this series:

Amateur Photography Blogging
Getting to Know Your Camera
Changing Lenses

Pin It

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mama's Pie Crust Recipe

In my post "10 Things I CAN Do" I mentioned that I make THE WORLD'S GREATEST PIE CRUST. I know this is true because The Hillbilly tells me so. He also tells anyone else who will listen. He will also tell you he wasn't a big fan of pie before he tasted my pie crust. It IS THE WORLD'S GREATEST PIE  CRUST.  It's my mama's recipe. It's light, it's flaky, it tastes good. So after I bragged about it, Lisa at Grandma's Briefs said that I should share the recipe. So I will. Because I aim to please. I'm cool like that.

HOWEVER...this is not a recipe blog. Never was, never will be. Therefore, the recipe is at the mercy of my desire to write in a friendly, chatty kind of voice, and you,  my faithful readers will need to pick the important recipe stuff out of the friendly, chatty stuff. I know you can do that because you're very smart. So here we go.

It's really a simple recipe. First figure out how many crusts you are making. The pie in the picture up there is a two-crust pie. Some pies, pumpkin or pecan for example, take only one crust. And then you have to know how many pies you're making and how many crusts each pie needs, and then do a bunch of math, and that tells you how many crusts you're making. I'll let you figure that out on your own.

So for each crust that you're going to make, you need 1 cup of flour. I've made as many as four crusts at a time. More than that seems unwieldy.  So you put your flour in a big mixing bowl. Then you need some shortening.

This is the trickiest part of the recipe. You MUST use Crisco shortening. If you're not going to use Crisco shortening, then just put your flour back and quit reading this recipe. I won't have you using inferior shortening and then claiming that the recipe is no good and it's not really THE WORLD'S GREATEST PIE CRUST.

Now. You've got your flour in the bowl, you've gotten rid of that store brand shortening and have Crisco in front of you. For each cup of flour, add 1/2 cup of shortening. Then sprinkle in a little salt. Not much.

Now you're going to use your pastry cutter. If you don't have one, get one. If you don't know what one is, they look like one of these:

You use the pastry cutter to cut the shortening into little bits while mixing it with the flour. Keep cutting in the shortening until it's about the size of little peas. Then stop! The worst thing you can do is over-handle the dough.

Now you need to add water. I've read all sorts of nonsense about the importance of using ice water. I've never used ice water. I use whatever comes out of the tap. For each crust that you're making, you need 1/4 cup of water. Add the water slowly and mix with the flour/shortening. As you mix the dough it should pull away from the sides of the bowl and start sticking together.

Handling the dough as little as possible, divide it into the correct number of balls for your crusts. Roll each ball into a roughly circular shape on a floured cutting board until it is big enough to fit into your pie dish. Carefully place the crust into the dish and trim the edges. For a two-crust pie, put the filling into the pie and then roll out and add the top crust. Repeat for each crust you're making.

Okay. For those who insist on having a "real" recipe, here you go.

For each pie crust you need:
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of Crisco shortening
1/4 cup of water
a little bit of salt
 Try it out and please let me know how it works for you! Let me know if you have any questions too.

For my next post, I'll show you how to hula hoop! Won't that be exciting?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beautiful Bows!

 Meet Carly
When I get a chance to help someone out, I love to do so. If I can help several people out by helping them find each other, even better. So today I want to introduce you to my friend Carly. I've known Carly for...well...her whole life. I've known her dad since we were teenagers. She and my daughter are the same age. I did a long-term sub position for Carly's English teacher when she was a freshman. I'm pretty sure she'd just as soon I not talk about that. Also, I'm pretty certain she hated the fact that I knew her parents. Let's just say she wasn't a grown-up yet and leave it at that.

Carly is a grown-up now. She has a masters degree, which is more than I have, and some really sweet little ones. Her youngest is a sweet girl named Kenzie. And this is where bringing you together comes in.
What a doll!

Did you know that little girls look adorable in big beautiful bows? I'm sure you did. Well, Carly makes and sells absolutely gorgeous bows! And don't tell her I said so, but she doesn't charge nearly enough.

The really cool thing is that she will custom make a bow for you to match any outfit. Just send her a picture.
Blue Green
Polka Dots!

Carly learned to make bows from her sister. She discovered that she really enjoys it. She describes it as "therapeutic," just going into her bow room after the children are in bed and creating. Soon friends began to ask her if she could make bows for their little girls. At first Carly wasn't sure she  could handle  a business with 3 kids and a job, so she decided to wait until she was on a break from work.

As soon as she started her Facebook page, KenzieOlivia Couture, she was flooded with orders! She's really having fun with it and enjoying getting to know new people. Why aren't you one of those new people?

Carly makes bows on stretchy headbands or on clips. She doesn't make them just for little girls. Big girls like them too!
Clip added to a hat

School colors
There are so many gorgeous pictures that I had a terrible time picking which ones to post. So here's what you do. Head on over to KenzieOliviaCouture and see for yourself. You will love what you see! And here are a few more just in case you're not convinced. But of course you're convinced!

A box of bows used as party favors

Blue flower
Geen/white with a jewel
Ok. I really have to stop. This is only about half of what I  downloaded in order to show you. Just get over there and see for yourself. Then order something at her ridiculously low prices!

Tag! I'm it!

My good friend Ado over at The Momalog did me the considerable honor (?) of tagging me in her recent post. Now I'm required to  answer her 11 questions, tag 11 more bloggers, and ask them 11 new questions. Trust me, if I didn't totally love Ado, I'd just ignore this and write another post about annoying teenagers. (And no one can annoy teenagers like I can!)

So first, here are Ado's 11 questions and my answers.
1. If you met your favorite movie star and could say whatever you wanted to him or her in 140 characters or less, what would it be? (And who is the movie star?)
I'm not sure I have a favorite movie star. Let me get back to you on that. {Okay, I finished the entire rest of this post, and I still don't have a favorite movie star. I used to be hot for Tom Selleck, but that was when he was a TV star and hadn't made any movies, but then he abandoned me and married Jillie Mack, and it's just never been the same since then.}

What’s your dream? My dream is to have my family all around me. We've got a great big mansion we drive by all the time. I'd love to buy that and move all my children and grandchildren in with me. It's big enough for everyone to have their privacy, and the grandkids could come visit any time they wanted.

Ever had a scary parenting moment? One time Alyssa had pneumonia. Her fever was over 104 that night. We put her in the tub to cool her down. In the morning I packed her into the car and started driving to the doctor's office, 30 miles away. The day was so foggy  I couldn't see the traffic lights until I was in the middle of the intersection. I hadn't gone far before I decided to go to the nearest urgent care center instead of trying to get to our doctor. Scary day! Just one of many, really.
Something besides your children that you are proud of. I'm pretty proud of myself for finishing my education. I went back to college when I was 30 years old and my youngest child started kindergarten. I finished my degree and my teaching credential with straight A's for all the work done after my return. Unfortunately, my first 2 years (ages 18-20) weren't as excellent, so my final GPA doesn't look so great.

What’s your favorite book? Why? If I can only choose one, it has to be the Bible because it meets all my needs; it's a self-help book as well as a fascinating story. Beyond that there are just so many. I still love the Anne of Green Gables series. I like Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility by Austen.

What’s in your fridge? Lots of Pepsi Throwback for me and Dr. Pepper for the Hillbilly. Milk, your usual condiments, Gatorade, lactobacillus acidophilus, eggs, cheese, and cookie dough.

Do you make your bed every day? Do your kids make theirs? Why/why not? The Hillbilly works nights, so when I leave for work, he's just been to bed for a couple hours, so no. He wouldn't appreciate it. The kids? Neither of them live here, but I doubt it.
What’s your best kid’s riddle or joke? How do you put an elephant in a car? Open the door, put the elephant in, and close the door. How do you put a giraffe in a car? Open the door, take the elephant out, put the giraffe in, and close the door.

Epidural or au naturel? Two babies, no drugs.

Ask your kids what they like about you and what bugs them about you and write it verbatim here.
Alyssa: I like that you have a sense of humor and you respect me and treat me like an intelligent adult. I refuse to tell you anything that bugs me about you because you're too sensitive and whatever I say will hurt your feelings. Wait, maybe that IS what bugs me. :P
 {I'd just like to say here that I was not aware treating a grown human being as anything other than an intelligent adult was even an option. If I had known...okay, nothing would have changed.}

Ben: I like your smile and your sense of humor. I am bugged by your occasional clutter buginess.
{Isn't that cute?  He said "occasional."  How diplomatic.}

Do you have any advice for Snooki? (-:  First, I have to say that I am the only human in the country who has never watched Jersey Shore. Well, I don't think the Hillbilly has either. Nevertheless, I am still culturally aware and have some idea who Snooki is. So my advice to Snooki and all her friends there on the shore is to be sure and wear sunscreen. Skin cancer kills.

Now it’s my turn to tag 11 others and give them 11 questions to answer. But first…

The Rules:

  • You must post these rules.
  • Each person must post 11 things about herself on their blog.
  • Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  • Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post.
  • Let each blogger know that you have tagged them.

I’m tagging these fabulous bloggers:

Alyssa at Near Normalcy
Lance at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog
Farrah at the Three Under
 Kristin at What She Said
Iris at The Bearded Iris
Brianne at Don't Forget the Small Stuff
KDWald at mutterschwester
Lisa at Grandma's Briefs
The Magnificent Mr. Carlos (aka my nephew Charlie)
Natalie at Mama Track
Kate at And Then Kate

Here are their questions:
1. How and when did you start blogging?
2. What are your greatest hopes for your children?
3. What stands between you and achieving your dreams?
4. Whom do you try to model your life after?
5. What career would you like to have if you couldn't have the one you do now?
6. Describe yourself/ your personality using a metaphor.
7. Who should play your part in the movie about your life?
8. It's your last meal on earth, and you can have whatever you want. What is it?
9. What's the most wonderful thing about your spouse/significant other?
10. What's the funniest thing you've seen or heard today?
11. What's your worst bad habit?
And go!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wicked English Teacher Wednesday -- February

I've decided that Wicked English Teacher Wednesday should be a monthly feature because there are plenty of irritating grammar mistakes out there, but I should try not to be wicked too often, or you'll quit coming around. You know I love you and would hate for you to quit coming around; I'd be very lonely blogging without you. So the first Wednesday of every month, I will let my Wicked English Teacher self take over and rant about the errors I see everywhere I go.


I found this hilarious more than irritating, to tell the truth. I was reading a product review for a stand mixer. The reviewer complained that the attachments didn't "reach the middle of the bowel." A reader pointed out, "If you want a mixer to reach the center of your BOWEL you are going to need a lot longer handle"

It would have to be a pretty flexible handle too.

A blogger mentioned that something should be "avoided like the plaque."  I wasn't aware that plaques should be avoided. Is there a reason for this? Have plaques been found to cause cancer? Has there been a rash of plaques leaping off of walls and attacking innocent bystanders? Is there a new gang initiation that I should be telling everyone about on Facebook? Are gang members whacking people with plaques? Are they plaque whackers? Perhaps the writer meant this as a dental hygiene reminder. That certainly makes more sense than plaque whackers. Although, I'm afraid that if we all avoided this something with the dedication we use in flossing, there might not be as much avoiding as the writer might have expected. It is a puzzlement.

Avoid the Plaque!

Just Plain Ignorance?

There's a billboard around here that claims that riding the train is like paying ".50¢ per gallon" for gasoline. Now, I'm an English teacher, not a math teacher, but I understand decimals. The intent of the billboard (I looked online) was to say fifty cents. What it does say is one half a cent. This bugs me every time I drive by. Every. Single. Time.

 So that's this month's English teacher rant. What have you seen lately that makes you want to whack someone with a plaque?