Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Hope everyone's Christmas was wonderful and full of love, laughter and joy!

Thomas the kitty loves Christmas

We had a great time and still aren't done celebrating it. Another family dinner tonight. :)

I'll be back to blogging about all my random stuff soon: baby, horses, home decorations and some art projects I've been working on. (I'm really excited about how the nursery is coming along!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nursery "In Progress"

Alright, I'm keeping it real and showing the chaos. :)

Here's the messy "in progress" photo of our nursery. Yup, full chaotic glory! This is mid-action of my sorting/cleaning/washing/folding/unwrapping frenzy. (The rooms a mess, but isn't the pale pink pretty?)

A room full of baby stuff: hand-me-downs, presents, new purchases, stuff to be returned. Where to begin?!
I organized the changing table drawers while sitting on the exercise ball because I'm a full blown heffalump right now with my giant belly; my back and feet kill me if I stand for any purposeful length of time. Super annoying. So at least sitting on the ball while I cut tags off baby clothes and folded clean onesies helped alleviate some of the pain. 

Did I mention I probably spent a good two hours cutting freaking tags off things?

I swear some of the outfits and blankets come with close to a dozen of those white near-invisible plastic little tags. (Of course I'd cut one in half, lose the other half somewhere deep in a sleeve only to spend five minutes locating it imagining my future baby screaming in agony because I had left that one tiny plastic pokey fall into a sleeve never to be found.)

After tag cutting I was able to sort clothes by color and get them washed pretty quickly. Luckily I didn't destroy any of the cute clothes and all the super soft items like the Petunia Pickle Bottom blanket that my friend Kailyn gave us came out equally soft as before the wash.

Some of the piles of clothes waiting to be washed - whites, yellows and lots of Pink. I think my baby already owns more clothes than I do! ha ha.
This is the dresser we bought at Ikea that's going to be our changing table. I had a hard time picking out one - most that I liked were too long for the future house/new nursery room. But this one is still a decent size.
Pile of pinks waiting to be folded.
Pink pink everywhere
I've finally got all the clothes washed and put away. Now we just need to setup the bookcase, basket cubby, etc. and add all the decorative flair! Finally getting to the fun part! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nursery Plannin'

We've started setting up the nursery! Well, shopping for the nursery :)

I was trying to hold out and hoping we'd be in the new house, but considering Baby Girl will be here in 7 weeks, I've decided to just set it up in our current house. I couldn't wait any longer to start organizing all her clothes and feel relaxed and prepared. (To quote my husband: I'm in "full hufflepuff nesting mode". ha ha).

It's been really fun to plan and think about how I want the room setup. Its so neat to think about making a room that's functional but also girly and sweet and cute!

My design plan is to go with soft pinks and natural colors, white furniture, and of course classic Winnie-the-Pooh as my general theme.  (It's actually very surreal to actually think about having a little baby as part of our household and occupying that room. Its been our storage/guest bedroom/secret hoarder room for so long. Now it's about to be "my daughter's room". Feels weird to even say. I'm feelin the butterflies!)

I've been scouring pinterest and finding some great ideas (of course)! Like this changing table setup:

I love the storage the cubbies give! And ikea furniture is very affordable. Brilliant! I found these knobs on Amazon which I think would look darling on it, or any other dresser we end up choosing.

Check out the bright and fun nursery here:

{ via }

Love the rug! Love the elephant wicker basket! And I love the brightly colored dog on the bookshelf.

How awesome is this closet?

{ via }
Organized and cute!

And check out this nursery - love the pale colors, splashes of pink. And the chandelier!

{ via }
There are so many darling styles and fun setups to do!

After we get the furniture picked out and setup I'll have to figure out what sort of wall art I want around the room. Lots of ideas!

Besides the letter/name art which I've been seeing a lot of, I love the hanging mobile younghouselove did above their changing table. And I love the idea of framed poems or book art or quotes on the wall too.

Our crib arrived the other day. We went with the Bentley 4-in-1 crib which goes from crib, to toddler bed, to youth bed, to a full size headboard. A sort of grow-with-them, hope-you-don't-have-to-spend-anymore-money-cause kids-are-expensive-little-suckers approach. We'll see how we end up liking it.

Now we plan to hit Ikea and figure out a changing table setup and pick up a bookcase. (Its hard to really know exactly what to buy - because we're not sure of the dimensions of the nursery in the new house, so we can't get anything too big or too layout specific.) But after we get the furniture in, then the fun can begin! Decorating and styling and art making and organizing and sorting all the tiny little outfits and blankets and toys. I can't wait!

PS - How is my progress coming on Project-Organize-Before-Baby ? Pretty darn good! Pics soon too.

Quick update:

1. Purging old art supplies I haven't used, won't use. 80% done! Still have to go through painting supplies, but pens, misc scrapbook papers, pencils, art pads have all been purged. (Most obscure item I found - a 10 year old bottle of calligraphy ink that was completely dried up. Nice. Glad I hung on to that.) Results were one big box to goodwill and a big bag in the garbage. Can I get a WOOWOO?!

2. Organizing supplies into an easier to find/use system (who knows when I'll have time to paint after the baby. Need to make it as convenient as possible for when I do have time)
About 90% done here....WOO WOO. I didn't want to spend any money on new supplies (again, the same ol' frigging song about 'waiting for the new house and seeing how things will fit in there') but after some of the purging I was better able to combine some supplies.

3. Sort thru old photos, and organize them a little better than the mish-mash of shoeboxes I've got going on right now. Um, there's been no sorting. They are still mish-mash.

4. Cull and organize my photo file folders on my home computer and work computer. ha ha.

5. Back up photos to hard drive. Not even started. Sigh.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Packing Helper

I'm back from a very wonderful Thanksgiving - lots of food and fun and family. Hope everyone had a wonderful time too!

It actually ended up being a very productive Thanksgiving weekend with only a little bit of slothing around.

Since its looking more and more like we won't be moving before the baby, we've been trying to prepare for baby to come home at our current house, so we spent a good chunk of time clearing out the to-be nursery room, packing up crap, and organizing the boxes as best we could in our spare bedroom.

And as you can imagine we had a lot of "help" from our cats. Namely Thomas O'Malley. We dubbed him our Chief Packing Director since he was underfoot helping pretty much 90% of the time.

Here he is handling Quality Assurance of Packing Materials.

Soft enough to sleep in? Soft enough to use for packin! Approved!

And of course he was all over Box Load & Balance Analysis in the closet.

Marked fragile? Let's see about that.
Not to mention Cleaning & Safety Inspector.

COBWEBS?! Someone is fired!

And in typical Director fashion he made sure his Assistant Monkeys were on hand the entire time to be at his beck and call to really get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Lift me down He-Monkey, I am ready to move on to my next job of the day - sleeping.

No one helps with packing better than cats. ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baby Diaper Cake

Not much to blog about on the "Project Organization" front.....progress has been slow. Ugh.

How do you sort through photos without looking at them and getting all sentimental and nostalgic and taking hours to do it?

So instead of posting about my slim progress on that - I have to share some photos of my Mom's craftiness from the shower she hosted for me because I was so impressed with her handiwork!

(I've been very spoiled and had 2 showers thrown for me and have had so much fun and gotten so many wonderful items.  My friends at work are throwing me one tomorrow too! I can't believe how generous and supportive people have been.)

Here is the awesome diaper cake she made for me! I knew she was making one...she can't keep a secret at all, but I made her keep the theme a surprise. ha ha. It was so darned cute!
Not only was it super cute, but it was full of useful items too!

Little washclothes, socks, bows, bibs, spoons, bottle cleaners and over 240 diapers!
I don't know what I love more the little ballet socks, or the pink paw print socks - so adorable!
Grandma-to-be and the "cake" she made

I don't know the specifics of how she assembled it, but she said it was pretty easy. She said you just have to roll the diapers super tight and then use a bow or string to tie around them, and then stack the layers and stuff with the accessories.
She also made a really cute diaper caterpillar that was at the entrance. I love that his face has a pacifier in it!
Didn't she do a great job?! Thanks Mom!
Right now the majority of the gifts and baby items we received are packed up in boxes, waiting for the move. I can't wait to unpack and organize them! And then actually use them - January will be here soon!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Project Organize-Before-Baby!

Lately I've been having terrible insomnia and I just lay in bed my mind racing with everything I have to do before the baby and/or as part of moving.

Moving is one thing, but moving and setting up a barn, and setting up a nursery, not knowing what my physical limitations might be in the future and how much I'll be able to control freak manage help, and the list of everything we still have to do before the baby, before we can move my horse, before we can move us, before we can get renters in our current house - all of it is very overwhelming. Thus the insomnia. (And thus I'm falling asleep at 7pm on the couch not getting anything done only making the situation worse).

A little glimpse of last night at 1am:

So today, I've decided to snap out of it (voice of Cher from Moonstruck) and task-master some of this crap! I'm gonna kick-TO DO-ass and take names!

Initiate Project Organize B4 BABY!

I snagged a nice small notebook I've named "Big Book of Lists" and I'm writing all that crap down: To Buy for Baby, To Buy for New House, To Do at New House, To Do for Barn/Moving Mysti, To Do at Current House, To Do for Nursery, To Do Before Baby and To Do Before Maternity Leave !  And then bird by bird, gonna get it all done.

This week the big 2 on my list:

Get my office/art room organized so I don't cringe when I walk into it AND Get "the photo situation" under control.

Which means:

1. Purging old art supplies I haven't use, won't use. (I'll post some pictures of my hoarder paint area. Its not pretty)
2. Organizing supplies into an easier to find/use system (who knows when I'll have time to paint after the baby. Need to make it as convenient as possible for when I do have time)
3. Sort thru old photos, and organize them a little better than the mish-mash of shoeboxes I've got going on right now.
4. Cull and organize my photo file folders on my home computer and work computer. (I know my camera will be blowing up with new baby and home photos, and if I don't rein in the mess now, its only going to get worse.)
5. Back up photos to hard drive!

Bird-by-bird baby! It's gonna happen.

And then I'm going to sleep for hoursssssssssssssssssss......

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thank You Veterans

Today, I'm thinking of all US Veterans and hoping they feel honored and appreciated today. I think few people really understand the sacrifices they make - emotionally, physically, and mentally. I only know secondhand from the stories and experiences of the few veterans I know, but that's enough for me to say thank you. And so it's not just lip service when I say our country wouldn't be the same without their courage, dedication and sacrifice. 

(Its amazing to me that statisically they make up such a small percentage of our country's population. In 2010 less than 1% of our population in currently in uniform, and around 7% of our population are veterans. Interesting article here)

Today I'm especially thinking of:

 - My grandpa, Glen, who served in the Navy during WWII. When he speaks of the times he served and the bravery of his fellow sailors and marines, and the willingness and courage of his brothers and friends to sign up for war, it moves me deeply.

 - The love of my life, my husband Kevin, who served in Iraq. Baby, it seems just like a shadow of a memory sometimes and so long ago. But then days like today, when I lay down with you to take a nap and I hear your heartbeat, and feel your strong arms around me and feel so at peace and so happy, I'm reminded of how endless and terrible the nights were when you were gone. And how I would cry myself to sleep,  just wishing and praying to feel your arms around me again, and here you are back in my arms. I'm so thankful you're home.

 - My brother-in-law, Nate, who is currently serving in Afghanistan and his amazing wife Katie (my husband's sister). It's his second deployment and contrary to popular belief, that doesn't make it any easier for them, its just as hard if not harder! They both are holding on so strong, and so dedicated to each other thru this time apart, they make Kevin and I proud every day. We are thinking of you Nate and can't wait for you to come home safe and sound.

Thank you.

I know words like valor and dedication and honor aren't even enough to describe Veterans... so
I have no real words except, thank you all.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Card Crafting

I've been making "thank you" cards when I have spare time and I'm having a lot of fun - I'm a little less OCD about them compared to when I work on an actual scrapbook, so its a little more relaxing and I can craft-out while watching Gilmore Girls.

I was originally thinking it was a nice way to personalize thank you cards, and I could also save some money seeing as I have lots of scrapbook paper leftover and just a pack of white stock cards isn't too pricey.

That was until I went into Ben Franklin's "just to get maybe a few sheets of baby-themed paper and a few extra embellishments to fancy it up"; I left with $50 worth of paper, glitter, glitter ribbons, sparkles, glue, ink, and candles. Oops. Note to self - avoid craft stores until our house closes and I'm no longer supposed to be on a spending freeze.

But I was really glad I went because I found the cutest Classic Winnie-the-Pooh scrapbook papers; as we are doing Classic Winnie the Pooh for our nursery theme, I thought I could think of some brilliant way to use it. It was like $1.50 a sheet, so instead of buying just five sheets of the ones I liked - I bought the entire set of a dozen different papers for $18. Craft hoarder logic: "Its a deal, I'm saving money!" ha ha.

Was thinking I could add baby's initials, or a picture of her, or 3-D out the characters in a shadowbox for the nursery with a pooh-quote. I'll have to decide once we actually get her room up! (You can't tell here, but there are slight sparkles/glitters in the flowers and trees. Its redonk and I love it!)

I thought hubby would be annoyed at me for wasting $20 on a set of paper but when I showed him he thought it was adorable and will look great. Love a man that can appreciate Winnie-the-Pooh. ;)

A photo from our trip to Disneyland 10 years ago....Winnie-the-Pooh dorks even then! 
(Man this photo makes me feel old now..its from over a DECADE ago!) 

Here are some of the cards I made. I snagged the Pooh and Piglet stamps on ebay. And I used this nifty acrylic stamp where you put letters on it for the "Thanks". It worked pretty well except I kept pressing too hard and getting the edges of the stamp pressing ink everywhere. Irk!

This one was my favorite. Not only because it was sparkly and pink and girly and kinda vintage with the background faded paper - but because I didn't smudge any of the stamp edges with the Piglet and Pooh stamps like I did on the others. ha ha. 
I kinda wanted to keep this one for myself, cause I thought it was so cute. But I sent it out to my Aunt Rachelle who also likes things that are pink and vintagey and knew she would appreciate the dazzle as much as I did.
I only made about 30, and need to make some more because I've run out already.
I plan to make some more this weekend - but only with the supplies I have left, no more craft-store trips! ;) Good plan, right?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Some Pics from the Missing Weeks

Normally I am a camera hound - especially in the summer - where with our Seattle weather we have only so many nice sunny days before the gray comes back. But due to my alien-parasite zombie sickness morning-sickness I barely snapped any, which of course I'm regretting. But I did get a few on some of my better days, here's what I did in the missing weeks.
A pic of my beautiful horse from August. She got really sun bleached this summer and turned so red.

Blackberry picking and pies! (Mostly my hubby picking while I sat in the grass eating the berries. ha ha. The only food I could stomach for about 3 months was fruit.)

Obviously I need to get better at food photography...this looks surprisingly unappetizing.
But I blame the ugly counter tops.

More pretty pictures of my biggest four-legged baby....

And my second biggest fur-baby...look at that marshmallow pudding belly!
Thomas O'Malley taking a nap with me on the couch
One of Mysti's pasture mates - Hooch. He is the cutest mustang and a better model than my girl. He's always willing to pose (and I don't have to make many weird sounds to catch his attention unlike my pig who is always more interested in grazing than looking at the camera).

Sick of horse photos yet? Impossible, right? ;)  Another pic of Mysti with buddies Hooch and Chex.

Possibly one of the best afternoons ever! My Mom dog-sat a 10-week old Scottish Terrier named Bazil. He was the CUTEST. THING. EVER. I pretty much hyperventilated as soon as I walked in the door and saw his stubby little legs and weasel body come bounding over to me.
I've never seen a Scotty dog as a puppy before...only as full grown dogs. It felt magical, like seeing a baby mermaid or something.  

Look at the stumpy widdle legs and his giant noggin!!! (Yes I high-octave babytalked to him the entire afternoon.)

My brother Drew holding Bazil. Look at his floppy ears and giant fat paws. His paws were warm and thick and spongy like soft taters and smelled like Fritos. Mmmm, puppy paws!
Just about every picture I took was a blur - he was a little fireball of energy.

I would have loved to have taken him home....he was so darned cute. I can't wait until the day we can own a dog.
In September as I was starting to feel a little better, hubby took me camping to Kalaloch, part of Olympic National Park. He camped there every year as a kid and it holds such special memories for him, so it was really neat to retrace his footsteps with him and explore the area.

Even though the weather wasn't great, I really liked the misty, moodiness of the beach.

The camping wasn't too bad. Not the best night of sleep being 5 months pregnant sleeping on the ground, but it was fun to rough it and enjoy the campfire.

It was a really romantic trip and I'm so glad we were able to get away for the weekend - away from house buying and baby-prepping stress.

We try to snap one of these anytime we travel to a beach. Forgot the year though - dang.

Nerd alert. Yes I do things like this to my husband: "Look at that cool tree! Run over there and pose with it!" I can only imagine what I'll do to my kid in the future. ha ha.
Some more horsey photos...
Hooch looking handsome

Mysti in the sun
And finally a pic of one of the ink drawings I've done lately. I've got a few dog drawings commissions for Christmas which I'm excited about. 

And finally, the house we have an offer on. I don't want to show any photos until its a done deal - can't jinx it! - but its the house I mentioned months ago. Its a pretty-close to perfect setup for us. The house isn't super huge or very unique or super amazing....but the location, the acreage, the horse setup, the shop setup - it would just fit our lifestyle so well.
Hopefully we will hear soon when our "close" date is. We are still pending...and have been pending for months. Ugh. To quote my Aunt Deeann, "Why is it called a short sale when every one I hear about takes so friggin long. Should be called a long sale! Or pain-in-my-butt sale!" ha ha.
Fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

And the winner for longest blog hiatus is......


Last post was back in June....eerp. (Please ignore that my last post was also declaring that I was back after a blogging absence. ha ha. This time I mean it. No seriously.)

So why the absence? And what happened in the missing weeks, er, months?


The summer got pretty crazy and busy, especially with house-buying drama, but the main thing that took over life was this:

A Baby Girl on the way!

We were thrilled to find out that I was pregnant......but I was not so thrilled for the misery and sickness that followed. It wasn't morning sickness, it was all-day sickness.

It was like the worst hangover + the stomach flu + terrible jetlag + some good ol' Victorian fainting spells + emo tween moodiness. I feel really bad for my friends and family who had to enjoy my...sparkling personality during those months. (Sorry guys. Especially my husband.)

 It was a slog just to get through each day and I literally did the bare minimum with my horse and at home. I mostly was a zombie. Who cried a lot.

I wasn't really prepared for just how much it would suck all energy and abilities and any personality out of me. And so blogging got pushed back as "something I'll do when I'm feeling more like myself". Thus the crazy long absence. :)

But I'm finally feeling great! (Well as great as one can feel with a cauliflower pressing into my guts getting in the way).And there's been so much happening that I've been itching to blog and even though I feel like a dork for trying to re-start blogging after such a long absence, I figured I might as well just dive back in - cause I have lots of things pending on the horizon that I'm excited to geek out about.

And not just baby stuff, this isn't going to be an all-baby all-the-time blog. But I got lots of art stuff and home projects and barn projects on the horizon (hello, Possible New House!).

So as in quick nutshell update:

*Baby Girl - name to be decided still - is due at the end of January.

*We have an offer on a house - a short sale - that we are pending on. We HOPE to be in before the end of January. Fingers crossed. More on that after we get things finalized. (It's been 3 months so far since our final accepted offer....could this process be any more stressful and frustrating? Anyone else had experiences with short sales that have lasted this long? Blergh!)

*My amazing Hubby is a workaholic maniac working 80+ hour weeks, doing overtime every possible chance so we can afford the new house and all the move-in costs.

*I'm no longer riding due to the pregnancy so my horse is getting fatter each day. (Kinda like her mom. ha!) And our cats are loving each box we bring home for packing - jungle gym time.

*Life is good :)

~ K.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm back, sorry!

I dropped off the face of the earth there for awhile. I'm new to blogging, and realize this is a quick way to lose the few two followers I have (hi friends!), so please accept my apologies for just vanishing.

I've had a turbulent few weeks of good and bad happenings, plus I was slammed with finishing up some family portraits, some more house buying drama (oh-vey is right!), and on top of that feeling super crappy and sick and just needed to sleep for endless hours.

I didn't mean to forget my burgeoning little blog - which is supposed to be my nice encouraging angel on my shoulder: be creative! make art! share cool happy things! - but I had to sort of shut down and just deal with some of the stuff going on and ignore my then pestering little blog "why haven't you painted?! What's going with the scrapbook stuff? Where's that finished drawing?"

But I'm back now. :)

And to catch up my house-saga followers - we killed the deal on the house. Sigh. Cry. Sniff. And then the bank came back with an offer that was exactly what we were looking for, BUT we still walked away. Ultimately I decided that is was too far of a commute to not have horse riding trails accessible from the property. Tough decision to make, and was something I just had to go with my gut on. Luckily I have the most understanding horse-husband in the world, so he stood by my choice 100%.

So we are back to house hunting.......(and omg, we did find something else PERFECT. And I mean perfect in every way - amazing barn in perfect shape, access to horse trails, exactly what we wanted in a house, I had butterflies looking at it. We were going to make an offer, ONLY to find out it had a $20,000 lien on it that we would have to pay on top of the asking price. And while we've been scrimping and saving, we don't have that kinda cash to just drop on a lien. Eeek. Now would be a really good time to win the lottery. So we had to say goodbye. Back to looking.)

That's all for now...but I'm going to post my final picmonkey tip soon (people makeovers! yay!) and show you some drawings I've been starting.

Happy Monday.

~ K

look at those pearly whites!
PS - I'd like to thank my small brained horse for breaking through the wire fence last night resulting in several small cuts and lacerations on her legs. Her herd-bound-ness is getting ridiculous. (Its a good thing you're cute and make me laugh, cause you sure are a pain in my rear sometimes!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cool Recipe: Low Cal Veggie Soup!

Its Wednesday and I'm just now getting back to my blog. I've been knee-deep in yardwork, pressure washing, packing and cooking. And then I was feeling really under the weather on Monday, so I took a sick day yesterday and caught up on some much needed zzzzzz's. Feeling tops now.

I plan to finish my PicMonkey tips this week - stay tuned for that!

But first I wanted to share a super easy, healthy recipe I love: Vegetable Soup!

I make a big batch of this - I freeze half for the future, and then eat the rest of the half during the week when I'm super busy and don't have time to cook. It's low calorie, so you can eat a huge bowl full (or two) and feel pretty satiated.

One knife, one cutting board, one pot and whatever veggies you have on hand!

1. Vegetables needed: celery, carrots, cabbage, green onions, cilantro*, bell pepper, zucchini (or squash), corn and green beans. Broccoli also works good. So basically any and every vegetable you can like. ;)   (I use canned green beans and frozen corn, because that's what I had on hand, but fresh work great too).

Other ingredients needed: chicken or veggie broth (or bouillon cubes) red chili peppers, one packet of Lipton Soup Secrets (chicken noodle), salt and pepper, garlic, and the secret spectacular ingredient: Sriracha Chili Sauce. (*Sriracha Sauce and Cilantro are the two must have ingredients. If you don't like them, then you probably won't like this recipe).

2. Slice the squash/zuchinni and celery into medium sized chunks. I use about half a bunch of celery, and one squash. I slice thickly, cause I don't like the soup to be too soggy doggy.

3. Slice the green onions including the white ends and the green ends. (Don't you like my official cooking terminology) and rough chop a huge handful of cilantro. Or two handfuls. Depends upon how much you like it. I could eat it raw, so I add a lot.

4. Dice a bell pepper up - any color works. I used red because they were on sale. :) Peel and dice a few carrots. I do about 3-4.

5. Slice-n-dice half a cabbage head. I cut out the stem a bit cause its so thick, and then I just hack at the cabbage (in half, then in half, and so on) until I have a giant mound of 1-2" chunky pieces. This is my favorite part, I feel like Ratatouille, showing off with my mad knife skills. (Not really, but its pretty hard to mess up cutting cabbage).

6. Throw all the chopped fresh veggies in a pot. Add a small handful of frozen corn and a can of green beans (drained). Then add broth to the pot until the veggies are covered. Or you can use water and a bouillon cube or two. I usely do a can of broth, a can of water, a can of broth, a can of water until its full. (Depending upon how many veggies you use - this could be 4-8 cans of broth.) You could do all broth for a stronger flavor if you like.

7. Add the packet of lipton soup secrets. This adds some flavor and a few noodles. I tried it with two packets once and it was too noodley for my taste.

8. Add red chili pepper flakes - a few if you're a spice wuss, or a couple shakes if you like the heat.

9. Add a few strong shakes of pepper, some garlic salt. (You can also add a dash of cumin.)

10. Grab your Sriracha Sauce. Say hello to it. Thank it for being the best thing ever - next to cilantro and Grandma's homemade bread. Make sure you say it with an Antonio Bandera's accent: Ssssssssss-raw-CHA!

11. Squeeze a little Sriracha into the soup. Add more if you are spicy like that. (Or keep it light so you don't kill your husband, and just add more to your individual bowl later)

12. Bring to a boil. Medium boil for about 10 minutes until its looking all steamy and bubbly and smells good. Then simmer for another 10 minutes (you can test it here and see how soft the veggies are. If you can gently pierce a squash, call it done.)

If you put lots of Sriracha in it, serve with a kleenex so you can blow your nose as your sinuses will be super clear soon. ;)

To make it a little more filling, you could add beans or pasta - but keep in mind that would increase the calories.

That's my easy veggie soup! If you make it, let me know if you like it. (I realize my instructions aren't very specific - so if you have questions let me know)

Happy Cooking!

~ K.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Seven: Home

Seven things I'm thankful for this Sunday:

1. Memorial Day is tomorrow, so I can't help but think of all the soldiers who so bravely gave their lives for our country. I'm thankful everyday to live in this great country, and thankful for the generations of men and women who have served our country.

A passage that really moved me, from the book Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose, was a letter that one of the soldiers (David Kenyon Webster) wrote home: "stop worrying about me. I joined the parachutists to fight. I intend to fight. If necessary, I shall die fighting, but don't worry about this because no war can be won without young men dying. Those things which are precious are saved only by sacrifice." 

That last line gave me goosebumps. Their sacrifices are not forgotten.

2. I'm thankful to have a healthy (knock on wood), and wonderful horse. I had a great relaxing ride today. Haven't ridden in 2 weeks and sometimes she can be a little wild when we get back into riding, but she was really good!

3. Our new pressure washer! We picked it up on sale this weekend and I powerwashed our house and steps yesterday and it looked brand new. I was so excited. And I didn't even mind the constant mist of cold, dirty water spraying me the whole time - because it was over 70 degrees outside.

4. My husband finally having the weekend off from work - and he spends it changing the oil in my car, going with me to the barn, and doing a million house projects. As I sit here at the computer, drinking my tea, writing on this blog - I can see my man out there mowing the lawn....definitely thankful he's doing that. ha ha. And I'm feeling guilty for not helping him.

5. Mike's Hard Lemonade - the new Strawberry lemonade flavor. OMG so good.

6. That I got carded while buying Mike's Hard Lemonade. Woot woot. I know they have to card everybody, but this soon-to-be-thirty-year-old is going to pretend its cause I look soooo young. ;)

7. And finally....the thing I'm most thankful this week: we are back on track and getting the house! After some serious thinking, consulting with people who's advice we really believe in, and after some financial figurin' out- we are going to finance some of the cost to get city water and so we're able to get the house!! I'm soooo excited, and so thankful that it worked out. I can hardly stand it. (Good thing I am now seriously busy and have a million things to do before we move and to get our current home ready to rent - otherwise the next month would drag by.) We are just waiting for papers to be signed, rates to be locked, and then for closing. Yippppeeee.

What a week!!

~ K

Friday, May 25, 2012

Photo Editing: Round 2 - Landscape

Round 2 of fun photo editing with my new favorite program PicMonkey!

I snapped this photo of an abandoned school house on our roadtrip home from Idaho. I love finding old abandoned houses so I was very happy when hubby allowed a short detour to go poke around and for me to snap some photos.  I thought it would make a perfect subject to show some of the fun styles to use with Landscapes.

Photo Straight out of the camera:

First things I always do: crop it. In this case I wanted my car out of the photo, and I wanted the building less centered so it looked a little better compositionally.

The next thing I did was I used the "clone" tool to erase the tire and the utility poles in the background and just simplify this photo. (If I wanted to spend more time, I would also get rid of all the graffiti on the building). 
blech, eyesores

Totally optional - but it is a neat feature of PicMonkey (not quite as advanced as Elements, but it does the job especially for a simple clone job like this one).

Its a fairly easy to use tool - you just define the size and source, and define how close you want the clone tool. Then you drag it and will basically copy whatever your source tool is on. The closer the clone is to the source the better.

Doesn't it look better without the extra busyness from the poles and tire?

Option 1 - Slight Improvements
I used the Color Saturation tool and increased it slightly - just to make it look a little more vivid and richer.  Then I adjusted the Exposure, I increased the shadows to make it more dramatic, and slightly increased the highlights and brightness to make it more vivid and brighter.
A little better than the original shot.

Option 2 - Ol' Timey Rustic Feel

I wanted something kinda rustic and old looking. First I used the Daguerreotype effect (the Shiro option - its more brown/nature tones), and adjusted the fade so it wasn't so overwhelming.

Then I used Film Stock (Velvia option - its the most natural looking) and adjusted the fade so it was kinda subtle. Then finally I used the Urbane effect - one of my favorites, makes everything very rich, but I adjusted the fade pretty low because I didn't want too much of a dark edge (which this effect has).

I love this final look - think it would be pretty cool hanging up.
 Option 3 - Light and Bright Pioneer Washed Out style
 Starting with the cropped, color saturated photo, I first used the Intrepid effect at full strength (another effect I love). Then I used Cross Process (with Red, to keep the colors warm) but faded it out quite a bit. Then Dusk, a lovely soft beautiful effect, like the name implies - but it really weakens contrast and darkens it, so then I adjust the brightness and contrast slightly in Exposure after that.

Maybe I like this one even better......its peaceful.

Option 4 - More Dramatic/End of Days/Grittier style

I used Tranquil effect first, about half strength. Its the sedative of effects and just calms everything down.
Then I used Holga, which turns up the volume and adds some grit and darkness, with it slightly faded out but with the blur higher (that's what does the edge effects).

Then I used Film Stock (with Tri-x option, its black and white) - slightly decreased.

Finally I used the Cinerama effect. And just to get it a little better - I went an played around with the Exposure to get it a little brighter and more vivid. Then I realized it was looking a little too brown and sepia-like, so I went into Colors and decreased the temperature slightly.

It sounds like a lot of steps - but this process only took maybe 5 minutes, and that was mostly playing around with the fade levels of the various effects until it looked right.

a little more stylized and interesting (I think) than just plain black and white

So that's four fun ways to beef up a landscape photo. :)

I hope you'll try some of them out and see what you like - there are so many options! And of course, even using just one of the effects works great too (you don't have to layer multiple like I do above).
Happy photo editing!

~ K.

*Please note I do not work for PicMonkey, nor am I paid to endorse them. I'm just a nerd who loves getting artsy fartsy with photos and spreading the fun.*
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