Saturday, February 27, 2010

Straight Out of the Camera Sunday

Join in the fun by participating in Murrieta 365 meme, Straight Out of the Camera Sunday. There are two rules: 1) photo must be taken by you, and 2) no tweaking, cropping allowed.

Snow in Central Texas on Tuesday. Dogs were full of energy.

I loved the way the setting sun danced off the clouds above this past Thursday evening.

Go here for more photos.

Until next time, God bless.

Cabbage From The Garden

As a first year veggie gardener, I've been trying a little of this and that to see what grows well for me , i.e., meaning that I'm not known for a green thumb. :D For winter crops, I planted a small space with broccoli and cabbage. The main reason for wanting to grow cabbage, as well as broccoli, is that I've read how both these vegetables may give extra protection against the growth of cancer cells. Here is an article that I just ran across today. I do not buy into all that is "thought," but if eating certain veggies or fruits give you an edge over cancer or other serious illnesses, bring it on. I'll include it in my diet if it is the least bit palatable, except Brussel sprouts. If there is a health benefit to that vegetable, I'll pass.

I've been holding off harvesting the cabbage since I could not forget seeing little, green worms turning the leaves into lace. Look, I'm a city girl through and through and only know to visit a grocery for fresh fruit and vegetables. But with this recall and that recall, I do not overly trust the grocery; hence, the garden. I'm also trying to overlook the fact that insects are around when growing your own. I abhor creepy, crawlie things.

Ten years ago I planted a tomato bush. One day I stopped to break off some suckers, etc. When I pulled my arm away from the bush it was covered with green horn worms. I freaked out. I never touched the bush again and it died. Last year was my first attempt in 10 years to grow tomatoes. It was a bad year for tomatoes for all, but rest assured, every time I was fiddling around the tomato bushes, I was on the lookout for green horned worms.

I'm doing a pot of pinto beans for dinner tonight. I've always seasoned my beans with ham or bacon but have sworn off pork for a variety of reasons. I'm trying to get a good flavor in the beans which is not happening at the moment. Hubby thought cole slaw would be good along with the beans which is why the cabbage was harvested. The cabbage made it through an ice storm in January and this week's snow.

When slicing the cabbage, I looked for dead green worms trapped between the leaves but nary a one was found. Seasoned gardeners are probably laughing their heads off at me. Instead of cole slaw, I mixed up an all-in-one dish of extra lean, ground round, onions, garlic, cabbage, carrots, and corn. The cabbage was very tasty and there are three cabbage heads yet to be harvested.

Spring is just around the corner. What are your gardening plans? Are you preparing your garden for Spring plantings? If so, veggies, flowers or combination? Will you be buying plants or start from seed?

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Brenda's Photo Challenge

Wood is the theme of this week's Brenda's Photo Challenge.

Handcrafted mesquite cross by a friend which hangs in my prayer closet.

Matches on hand in my prayer closet to light candles.

First attempt at a pattern cut from a used envelope for a tea cozy. Paper is made from wood fibers. I made a mistake in calculating the size; it should be almost twice the size it is here. Oh, the pattern sits on a wood desk top. :D

Click here for more photos.

Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yea! Snow! And, Lost Dogs

Yea! We got about 2-3 inches of snow today.

I took this around 7:30 to 8:00 AM, but it snowed most of the day.

Dog trot which encircles the house. lol

Never having seen snow, both dogs would not leave the porch until I walked off into the snow.

Maggie decided to eat it to see if she could figure out what was that white stuff. It was interesting watching them be leery of the snow and investigate.

Once both dogs decided that the white stuff was not going to eat them, the rough housing was on.

Maggie usually starts it.

They had a big time.

Maggie holds her own against Luc.

We looked out the window to see two lost dogs making a run at our cows. By the time I slipped into my yellow, rubber boots and was out the door, both dogs were standing in front of the yard gate, no doubt hoping it would magically open. They were very happy to see a human. This rescue mission turned out much better than the one in December because I did not get a broken bone and make a trip to the doctor. Fortunately, the Great Pyrenees had tags. The other one did not. I reached the owner who was scouring the area for her dogs. She was only 3-4 minutes away from my house.

She was amazed that her dogs had traveled so far from her house which is about 25 minutes from mine. We don't necessarily deal in miles around here but in minutes from one place to another. lol She mentioned that her dogs almost never leave their property, but probably in all the excitement of the snow they got off and could not smell their way back home because of the snow. Anyway, she and her son picked up the dogs and away they went.

We've had quite a few lost dogs appear over the years, and I am always glad that we can help get them back home.

Until next time, God bless.

Photography Challenge

I've run across a neat photography challenge: The Pioneer Woman's Photography Assignments. The theme is "Share Your Dog Portraits"; one entry per day. BTW, I follow this woman and she is a hoot.

It is easy. Go to the blog address, click on the link provided, join Flickr if not a member, join the group, upload your photos, click on photo file, send email to the group, and voila, the photo appears in the group.

This is my favorite photo of Luc which was sent today.

This my favorite photo of Maggie which will be sent tomorrow.

Join in the fun and there are prizes!

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, February 22, 2010

From Close-Up to Macro

I am so excited because I finally learned how to turn a photo taken in the close-up mode into a macro. Ever since I've been doing a blog, I've been trying to get a macro result with the camera I had. I did okay with my previous camera, a Nikon Coolpix 4300, but many times the photo would be out of focus and blurry. Sometimes the photo was what I wanted but could not figure out how it was done. I got a new camera, a Canon Rebel Xsi, with a kit lens but kept running into the same problem.

I started with this photo. I got as close as I could yet still keep the photo sharp. I wanted a closer shot, but the camera would not snap the picture. If using a manual focus, it was blurry. So how did I get the two photos below?

It was so simple that I can't believe I've never tried it. I cut out this section of the photo, pasted it into a new image and resized the photo 150 percent. All photos are jpeg optimized for faster loading to your computer.

This one is resized at 200 percent. One was saved as "asample150" and the other "asample200." The photos are so close that I had to look at the file name because I could not tell apart with certainty.

Here is the second example. This is the original photo.

This one was copied, pasted as a new image, and resized at 150 percent.

I've taken four or five 6-week courses on graphics software programs for photography, and yet I've never found out how to enlarge a particular spot in a photograph. One of two things must have happened: 1) the course did not include an exercise for doing it, or 2) I forgot. However, since I've taken several courses for two different programs, I'm inclined to think this one aspect was not addressed. I may have tried it at some time but the photo was probably blurred or had the bmp look. However, no more.

If you are wanting to do the same and have had trouble, simply cut out or copy the part you want, paste as a new image, and resize 100-200 percent. I am using Coral Paint Shop Pro X2.

Until next time, God bless.

The Springs Are Running

Alleluia! The springs are filled with water.

We took a walk to the back of our property today and it is thrilling to see water in the creek, at last. Our creek has been dry for about two years, maybe longer.

Even though it is still February with snow being forecast for Wednesday, this wildflower is letting us know that Spring is just around the corner.

On the way down to the back, we looked over to see that our neighbor's pond is overflowing. The overflow runs towards our property, goes underground, then reappears to feed our creek. I first saw ripples in the pond, but before I could get the cap off the camera, two wet dogs came running up to me for a treat. The dogs know of a ravine where the fence does not go to the bottom, ducked under to our neighbor's property, found the water, took a swim, and returned to us just as we could see the pond.

High banks are on both sides of the creek. You cannot see the creek as you walk towards it, but we heard the water gurgling!

Looking down the creek.

I'm standing in line with the first photo but had walked up the hillside. We do not have the natural beauty that so many areas of the country has so it is a matter of acquiring a taste, or appreciation if you will, for our scenery. But, you know, it is Texas and it is ours. I am so grateful that we've had the opportunity to live outside a city. I thank God everyday for my good fortune.

When you see those clumps of grass, you know water is nearby, either above ground somewhere close or water is running underground.

Found a good deer track impression. Pay attention to the little pebbles because those sit atop solid sheets of rock or caliche which makes for paying close attention to where one steps when walking down or up the hillside.

Our house sits on top of a hill. Hubby is making his way up the first ledge, the steepest, and I am standing on the second one.

These are the next three ledges with a total of ten ledges from the bottom of the property to where our house stands.

It was a great walk. Hubby has been sick for a little over a week so walking back up from the creek is our test as to how he is recovering. lol We really should do this walk at least three or four times a week. It gets you into shape. The main reason we do not is we have to be extra careful in the walk down because it is so slippery. More than once our shoes have skidded on the pebbles only to land on our bottoms. Overall, though, the sun is out and the air very cool. I feel so rejuvenated.

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Straight Out of the Camera Sunday

Straight Out of the Camera Sunday is the meme brainchild of Murrieta 365. Anyone can join in. There are two rules: 1) the photo must have been taken by you, and 2) no tweaking, cropping allowed.

I'm trying to get a feel for the close up mode with my new camera, a Canon Rebel Xsi, and the EF 18-55mm IS lens. So far, I've not taken what I think is a good macro; but before I purchase another lens, I need to know a lot more about lenses, what the numbers mean, what can be expected with various f stops, etc., than I do. :D

I like the way this one turned out.

I would have liked to have had the flower fill the shot. Back to more research and the instruction booklet. And, I may do an online photography class.

Click here for more photos.

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Whoop, Whoop

Today was my first walk with the dogs since my ill-fated Luc excursion in December and in which I ended up with a cracked ankle. Hubby generally does the walk but decided to take his place this morning.

The dogs are wearing e-collars because Maggie has a habit of visiting neighbors and disappears for several hours at a time. Luc wears an e-collar because every once in a while he cannot resist running the cows. A white cow is so afraid of him that she has jumped over a neighbor's fence several times to get away. And, Luc is greatly interested in new born calves which is not good. Luc is powerful and fast, like a sprinter; and, frankly, we cannot be sure that he would not harm a new born calf if he caught it.

Both dogs think that whatever is outside the yard fence from rabbits to deer is fair game. When they jump a deer, Luc stretches out from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail, gets low to the ground, and turns on all the power he possesses in an effort to catch it. The same applies to jack rabbits. To the best of my knowledge Luc has never caught a deer or a jack rabbit. He did catch a cotton tail rabbit once and it was not a pretty sight. Maggie runs almost like she is on air and is a long-distant or marathon runner. She yelps when she is after something; not a sound from Luc because he is all business.

We rarely use the e-collars to call them back. All I have to do is yell, "whoop, whoop," and they come running for a treat. A good part of the time I do not even have to call Luc back because he likes to keep track of where I am as well as run back for extra treats. Luc, being a Lab, always has food at the forefront of his mind, then second is a ball, of course. Also, the dogs know the collars are on even though it is rarely used. When Maggie's collar is off, she tries to slip away unoticed and Luc goes straight for the cows. When the collars are on, Maggie stays in sight and Luc does not pay attention to the cows. No collars, they are naughty; with collars, they stay in line.

Just checking on you. Oh, btw, would you please get a treat ready?

Whoop, whoop and here they come.

These were taken with a Canon Rebel Xsi in the sports mode. Just hold down the button and the camera keeps clicking. It is almost like using a video camera.

There were many stops and investigations along the way today. Also, Luc was extra busy remarking his territory. Something or a lot of somethings had the audacity to travel in his domain.

Nothing escapes the nose and I am always curious as to what they are smelling. I sometimes walk over to where the dogs are investigating to see if I can spot a track. If I could find the extra money, I would do wildlife cameras around the property. Maybe one of these days when I do the garage sale I've been talking about for the past six years, it will produce most of the funds to set up a couple of cameras. Now, THAT would really be interesting.

Until next time, God bless.

Skywatch Friday

Looks pretty gray and misty, doesn't it? But, this is our sky today in Central Texas.

Yesterday was overcast but cleared just enough to give this sunset.

For more skies around the world, click here.

Until next time, God bless.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Texas Sunset

Yesterday was a magnificent sunny day which ended with this sunset.

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Hat Cache

I recently discovered we have a hat cache around this house. Most of these are readily accessible; some reside on the upper shelf in a closet. But as I was writing this blog entry, it occurred to me to do an arrangement of hats on a short wall in the computer room. It just might look good; then again, it might not.

This is my favorite hat to grab before going out the door to do gardening, yard work, walking the dogs, or doing any kind of work outside. I call it my bush hat.

These I grab on bad hair days when I have to run a quick errand into Dripping or Austin.

I love the black, floppy, felt hat but do not wear it very often. I think I'll change that. The straw is for wearing in the summer when going to the farmers' market.

The fur hat is for those extra cold days when a lot of outside walking is to be done. The red cowboy hat has only been worn once of twice, but it will not be thrown away. The small straw hat looks great with any kind of outfit. I wore it with everything when I did not have much hair after the chemo. The big straw hat is for going to Fredericksburg Trade Days in the summer.

A few more baseball hats for bad hair days when I cannot find the others.

Thought I'd throw in a few of hubby's hats. Not sure how he decides which one to wear except the orange Texas hat which is always worn during football season. :D

When we owned a fitness center in Austin, hubby always wore this hat. Everyone loved it and he received many compliments on it. It has a special place in our living area -- hangs on a kitchen cabinet that faces out into the living area.

Do you have a cache? If so, what is it? Is it on display somewhere in your house?

Until next time, God bless.