Monday, January 28, 2013

Binge Watching

I love television.  Yes, I admit it.  One of the great things about television shows today is that you can pretty much watch them whenever and wherever you want.  Which is good for those of us who don't catch a show when it first begins airing or if we do not have access to the channel on which a certain show may be broadcast.

However, this can lead to binge watching.  Oh, yes I am prone to binge watching.  It's delightfully indulgent.  And, very addicting.  I could say it's one of my guilty pleasures except that I have a faulty guilt pump.

I have binge watched several shows.  I think one of the first was when I found Coupling on Netflix.  It's a saucy, silly British comedy that was a lot of fun.  I watched three seasons of it in a couple weeks one December when I was wrapping gifts.

The most addictive binge watch I've ever done was LOST.  I did not start watching LOST until half way through the third season.  I had a lot of friends and family who had watched it and actually had tried to watch it when it first came on television.  For some reason I just couldn't get into it until I got so curious about what people were talking about that I found the first two seasons online and watched them in two weeks.  

I had to buy the first half of the third season from iTunes and was ready to watch with the broadcasts by the time it came back on from the winter break in January.  The problem was at that point I was so used to watching each episode as I wanted that waiting a week between episodes was very difficult for a while.

Then a couple years ago I discovered The Tudors.  Johnathan Rhys Meyers .... YUMMY!  I got to see all of season one during the free week we got of Showtime in November.  I ended up renting seasons 1 and 2 from one of those extinct animals known as a local video store.  That one took me about two months to watch.

My most recent binge watch was Downton Abby.  Since I live in the U.S. I only had to catch up on two seasons of that.  It took me about a week because the seasons for that show are pretty short.  It's a great show about the early part of the 20th Century in England.  They are now showing the 3rd season on our PBS station here.  So, again, I got to watch two seasons as I saw fit and now I'm waiting a week between episodes.  I could go ahead and buy the DVD's of it as they are available, but watching as they are aired is less expensive.

Some other shows I've binge watched are Torchwood, Rosswell, American Horror Story, Heros and The Secret Circle.  I have begun to watch The Killing.  American Horror Story Asylum is up next.  My husband and I usually binge watch Survivor each season.  We hardly ever have time to really sit down and watch television together, so we record the whole season of Survivor and then find a day here and there to just watch as many episodes as possible.

Have you ever indulged in binge watching?  Do you have any other guilty pleasures you nourish?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Retro Camera

One of my favorite camera aps is Retro Camera by Urbian.  I have it installed on my phone and my tablet.  It was one of the first camera aps I installed on my first smart phone and I've been using it ever since.

It is not an elaborate ap.  It's not an editing ap.  It's a camera ap.  You take the pictures and it applies the given effect to the picture as it "develops" the photo.  There are five different cameras you can use and each one produces a different type of picture.  They are all square pictures and work great for sharing on picture sharing aps.  You can slide the cameras to select the one you want to use.

The first camera is the Barbl.  It shoots only in color. 

It shoots with low saturation in natural color tones. It has medium contrast.

Next in line is my favorite.  It's the Little Orange Box.  It shoots in color or black and white.

This camera uses high x-processing.  The color cast is red/purple.  It's contrast is high. You can change from color to black and white by pressing on the button that says colour.  

Then there is the Xolaroid.  It shoots in both color and black and white.  Like the Orange Box it has a button to help you switch between color and black and white modes.  The Xolaroid shoots like the old fashioned Polaroid cameras did.

This fun camera shoots in high X-processing with a blue/green tint.  It has a glossy look to it.  The pictures are given high contrast effect to the coloring.

For some real fun, you can chose the Pinhole Camera.  It's another one with the choice of color or black and white.  Just use the button to chose.

This cute little camera shoots in low saturation with a multi-color swirl color cast.  The contrast of the photos taken with Pinhole is medium to high.

Next up is the Fudge camera.  It is reminiscent of the old Brownie cameras.  It is the last one that will shoot in color or black and white.  Just tap the little red lever and you can change between those two settings.

The photos from this camera have low saturation and no color cast.  They have a medium contrast effect on them.

The last camera in the line up for this ap is the Hipsteroku.  It produces effects like those of Japanese toy cameras.  It will only shoot in color.

The Hipsteroku has medium saturation and intense color leaks in its photos.  The contrast of the photos produced by this camera is medium to high.

You can switch cameras by clicking on the little camera icon on each screen.  You can look at the pictures you've taken by clicking on the little picture icon.  They hang from a line like they would in a black room.

If you wish to see the Camera Facts sheet for each camera you just click on the "camera info" button for each camera.

This ap is so much fun to use that there have been times I've taken the same picture using all the cameras just to see the effects on the same subject.

So, if you like the "Retro" look of photos, give this ap a try.  It's free, even!

What's your favorite photo/camera ap?

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I love snow!  It's so beautiful and simplistic, yet ornate in it's construction.  The stillness and quiet that seems to accompany the falling of a snow just makes me smile.  I know a lot of people don't like it because they have to drive in it.  But, to me that is just part of it.  It's kind of like accepting that you're going to have sand in your britches from spending a day on the beach.

When I was growing up we used to get A LOT of snow during our winter months.  I have great memories of digging tunnels through the mounds that piled up on either side of our driveway from my dad shoveling and/or snow blowing to get the snow off the driveway.  We'd make forts and have snow ball wars.

The subdivision I grew up in backed up to a large corn field.  It had several big hills and we'd go sledding back there in those fields when the snow got deep enough.  Having great sledding hills right across the street from my house was cool.

It was not the only place to go sledding, though.  The city park that was just a mile from my house has a spot in it called Bum's Hallow.  It's actually hallow in the middle of hills.  You can sled from any direction and there were natural ramps made by bumps in the hills.  It was a very busy place when it snowed.

Now we don't get hardly any snow at all.  The boundaries of "civilization" around where I live have expanded.  There is this thing they call and "industrial bubble" over our part of the world that has an effect on how the weather progresses through our area.  We are not close enough to the mountains or have a large plain area to the west of us like Kansas City does, so basically the weather loses it's "umpf" by the time it gets to us or is pushed south.  The middle of the state tends to take the velocity out of most of the weather systems so they are not strong enough to break through the bubble here and either just die off or get diverted.  

I find it sad because my kids have never gotten to really play in the snow like I did as a child.  They have some and even this year they did get to make a snowman.  It was very small and used up ALL the snow that was in the yard, but yet it was a snowman.  I wish we could build snowmen like my dad made when I was growing up.  They were taller than him. Somewhere there used to be a picture of one of those snowmen, but I cannot find it.  I do, however have a picture of the snowman my kids made just a couple weeks ago.

It's still just January, so I guess we still have some time to hopefully get a big snow, but if the past several years are any indication in our weather trends, it's not likely to happen.  I just really miss our big time snow falls.

Is there anything you miss from your childhood?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Treasures from the Heart

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am participating in a photo a day challenge through Instagram.  One of the recent prompts was "two."  I actually wracked my brain and searched and searched for subject matter for this prompt.  Finally, close to bedtime, I realized I have two rings I wear everyday.  Yes, it was a "Well, hello, DUH" moment, but hey we all have those.  So, I went and placed my rings in my light box and took a picture of them.  I have had both rings for quite a while now.

The garnet birthstone ring I've had the longest.  It was a birthday gift from my husband before we were even engaged.  He gave it to me on my 23rd birthday.  We'd been dating for about 5 1/2 years when he gave me this ring.  I still had one semester of college left to complete before I graduated.  This ring is indicative of the thought my husband has ALWAYS put into gifts for me.  He was so worried I would not like it but it was perfect, exactly what I would have picked out for myself.  It has several scratches and the stone needs to be buffed, but I still love this ring so much because I know the love that went into buying it.  Since I just recently celebrated my birthday, that ring is now 21 years old.

The other ring is my engagement ring/wedding band set.  My husband and I shopped for this together because he refused to pick it out for me.  We shopped a jewelry store that sells the diamonds separate from the settings.  They even gave us a little class on the qualities of diamonds and let us look at them with one of those monocle thingies.  So, my engagement ring was made just for me.  

I didn't want anything elaborate for a wedding band since my engagement ring was sparkly enough on it's own.  The shape of my engagement ring made it really difficult for it to fit against a plain gold band.  So, the jewelry store literally built my band onto my engagement ring so it wraps around it.  It is soldered onto my engagement ring so that it's all together.  

I am still very much in love with my bridal set and the memory of us shopping together for it is a very special one.  In February it will be 18 years since I got my engagement ring.  My husband proposed on Valentine's Day.  But, when it was time to have the wedding band put on it I had to give it up until our wedding day.  We got married in November and we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this past November.  

These two rings are really my most prized material possessions, not just because of their bling, but because of what they represent and symbolize.  So many years of love and friendship are linked to these two small pieces of jewelry that sometimes it overwhelms me to think about it, because with all the years added together, we have been together for 26 1/2 years.  I can see all our memories and our future in both rings.

What material possession do you treasure most?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Purple Jam

I love technology.  It is great fun!  This little purple guy I got for my birthday (Jan. 11).  It's a small Bluetooth speaker to use with my tablet that I got for Christmas.  It's amazing.  It will carry sound from my tablet up to 30 feet away.  I've been having such a "blast" with it.

I had one of our local rock radio stations broad casting from my tablet when I first tried this little marvel out.  As you can see Izzy was very confused by it.  She really could not figure it out.

As I was playing around with my technology, the buzzer to my dryer went off.  Hmmm, not sure I like that technology.  :-P   So I just took the speaker with me to the bedroom when I was folding clothes.  No need to pick up the tablet or anything else.  I could just keep listening uninterrupted as I went to another room.

Gosh, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities.  I can carry it to the kitchen and listen when I'm making supper.  It can go to the basement with me when I'm hanging Michael's shirts.  When I'm doing my hair and make-up I can put it on the counter top in the bathroom.  I can take it outside and put it on the picnic table when I'm doing stuff in the back yard.

Heck, my phone has Bluetooth, also.  This summer when the kids and I got to parks and such we can listen to it from my phone.  It's so much easier than carrying a radio or something similar.

Oh, and it came in a jar!  It's so cute.  Actually, when I first opened the package it was in on my birthday, I was confused.  It said Jam on the jar it came in and I had to really look at the name of the speaker to understand that I was not really getting jam for my birthday.  Ok, yes I am being a bit silly here.

The thing is technology never ceases to amaze me.  It's a wonder that is so fun to explore and I am grateful I live during a period of time when it develops so quickly.  It's hard for me to decide what is my favorite part of it all.  What technology do you enjoy?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The BEST Breed of the Pack

Left: Izzy (born 5/11/11); Right: Livvy (born 5/19/11), Inset: Abby (5/25/97 - 7/29/10)

Anyone that knows anything about me knows that I am obsessed with Scottish Terriers.  This is an obsession I blame totally and completely on my father.  When I was three years old he brought home our first dog and he was a Scottie Dog.  My mom named him Lord McDuff.  We called him Mackey.  He was an amazing dog.  We all loved him so much.  We had him for almost 11 years.  He died of cancer right before his 11th birthday and it was hard on all of us.  My dad and I used to always fight over who got to be the "Mackey Dog" when we played Monopoly.  

We had a few other dogs after Mackey and although I loved them all, none of them could hold a torch to Mackey.  So, I decided at a young age that I would have another Scottish Terrier when I grew up.  When my husband and I were dating and in the process of talking marriage, I made it clear that when we got a dog it would be a Scottie.  This was a big change for him as he grew up with miniature poodles.  

He was quite cute about it all because when we got to the point where it was time to get a dog after we'd been married for about two years he started doing research on Scotties.  He bought a book and read it.  This is huge because he's not a reader.  He also was scouring the newspapers looking for a breeder.  It was my husband that found the breeder we got our first wee lass.  

You see Scottish Terriers are not for everyone.  They are very stubborn and full of attitude.  They will do anything you want as long as they think it is their idea.  But, they are fiercely loyal and extremely protective of their humans.  Some say they are not good around children, but all four Scotties, I've had have been great with children.  They are like any other breed, it depends on the dog and how they are brought up.  The thing is with a Scottie, you do not own him/her.  He/she owns you.  And, they will train you.  

Scotties were originally bred to be vermin dogs.  They love to chase down all sorts of smallish animals.  Squirrels are especially fun to chase and pity the prey that actually gets caught.  Scottish Terriers have large, extremely strong jaws that lock.  They have a death shake to rival a crocodile.  Very few toys last long around a Scottie.  

Since they were bred to catch vermin, they are diggers.  Some you cannot break of this habit, but others can eventually be trained to not dig, mostly.  Either way if there is a mole or other animal that they think they can get to by digging, they will dig a hole and they are expert excavators.  They may have short legs, but those legs are powerful and strong and can dig a hole faster than you would think. It's actually very amusing to watch a Scottie dig after a vermin.

My husband and I brought our first Scottie home in July of 1997.  Her name was Lady Abigale.  We called her Abby, Abbadog, Abba dabba doo, etc.  She was our baby as we did not have any children yet.  Our daughter was actually born just two days after Abby's 2nd birthday.  And Abby was smitten with Michaela the minute we brought her home from the hospital.  Although, Daddy was Abby's favorite human.  

Abby gave us 13 amazing, wonderful, loving, fun years.  She died of cancer just about two weeks after the 13th anniversary of us bringing her home.  Our kids had never known the world without Abby and it was extremely hard on our family when we lost her.  Our house felt so empty after she died and it was so quiet.  Our Abby was an expert Arroooo rooooer.  That is a type of howling (sort of) bark that is unique to Scotties.  My Mackey dog that I grew up with did it, too.  But, not all Scotties do do it.

We waited a year after Abby left us before we brought a new Scottie home.  I had to do a lot of online research for a good breeder because the people we had gotten Abby from had died.  After much ado about trying to find a wheaten (white) Scottie and a black Scottie, we ended up getting in contact with a breeder in southern Missouri and another breeder in the middle of Wisconsin.

We were not able to find a wheaten Scottie, but we ended up with the most beautiful brindle girl from southern Missouri and a gorgeous black Scottie girl from Wisconsin.  We drove down to southern Missouri on the 3rd of July 2011, spent the night in Springfield and then drove to Willow Springs to get our Princess Isobel, whom we call Izzy.  So on the 4th of July we came home with our brindle girl.

Twelve days later we (with Izzy in tow) drove 9 hours to the middle of Wisconsin and spent the night before getting up and driving to Weyauwega to get our Countess Olivia whom we call Livvy.  By the first anniversary of the loss of Abby, we had two new puppy girls.  

We have had them a year and a half now and they are such a joy to us.  Izzy is our floppy, go lucky, clumbsy big girl.  Her paws are HUGE, and she is big for a Scottie.  She has the most beautiful brindle markings, especially right after she's been groomed.  She is all about playing.  She wants to play 24/7.  The times that she does slow down she wants to sleep on someone or something.  She loves her Pooh pillow especially if she cannot get on top of a human.

Livvy is our prissy, uptight little girl.  She is beautiful and loves to give kisses.  She'll play with her humans if Izzy isn't around to butt in.  She is our cuddler, but DO NOT touch her paws.  She gets very grouchy about anyone messing with her feet.  She is our dainty eater and can be a bully to Izzy when it comes to flip chips or antlers.

Izzy is a bull in a china shop.  Livvy is dignified and indignant.  Izzy gobbles her food down and expects more.  Livvy would prefer to graze all day, but can't because if her dish is left down, Izzy will eat what Livvy leaves behind.  They both race out the back door after squirrels, rabbits, etc.

Our house is so full of life and joy with them both.  They are stubborn and hard to get inside once they are outside.  They demand to be fed, loved, played with, etc WHEN THEY WANT, and not on our timeline.  They both get so excited when one of us comes home, they can hardly stand it.  Livvy has to have kisses from Mommy when I get home.  Her tail wags like crazy.  Izzy only wags her tail when she's really really excited or happy.  

Through my love of Scottish Terriers I have met some amazing people and made some great friends.  One of those friends helps to run St. Louis Scottish Terrier Rescue.  Through her we've been able to participate in some really fun events with our Scotties.  Scottish Terrier lovers are a breed of their own.   Our love of the breed unites us.

All of this is why I love Scottish Terriers.  They are the best breed of the pack.  What is your favorite breed of dog?  Why?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Finding Part of Myself

I have been feeling really down lately and have not really known why.  Then, this morning I read an article online about what it means to be an "everyday photographer."  The article described me exactly. Part of it was talking about how an "everyday photographer" never leaves the house without their camera and I've been neglecting mine.  It also talks about how we want to preserve all of life's moments and that other people wonder if something is wrong with us when we do not have our cameras.  Yup, that's my world.

So, in essence I realized that I've been feeling low because I've not spent much time with my camera in almost a month.  I've been taking pictures with my cellphone and my tablet and that has helped some, but I need time with my actual camera, too.  I need time to express my creativity with all three devices.

All of this means, I've also neglected my 365 project which really depresses me even more.  This is why one of my resolutions is to post to it faithfully.  And, one of the reasons I've not posted here since Tuesday is because I don't have any pictures from my CAMERA that I like.  So, again I am using one I took with my cellphone and edited with iPiccy.  This picture is part of the daily photo challenge that Fat Mum Slim posts each month.  I usually post mine to Instagram.  The prompt was "the view from here."  I took advantage of a rare two seconds I had to sit at my desk while my students were occupied with a science video.

I guess part of my resolutions has also become to read more about photography as well.  I really want to immerse myself as much as I can in photography.  Knowing now why I've been feeling low helps me realize how much passion I really have for this art form.  So, it's time to really embrace that passion.

What is the passion that is an important part of who you are outside of family and friends?


You can find links to the places I mentioned in this post in my links section on my blog page.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day 1

A new year, a new day, a new beginning; that's what I am considering this post.  It is now 2013 and I am half way through my 20th year of teaching.  My oldest child is 13 1/2.  For most of my life writing has been a big part of who I am as well as taking pictures.  I have also blogged quite a bit in the past several years, but it's always been kind of haphazzard.  Now, I am planning for it to become a bit more serious.

I usually do not make New Year's Resolutions because I know myself too well.  However, this year is different.  There are things that are really important to me that I want to accomplish, so I have more than one resolution.  They are:

  • To blog regularly here as a way to express my view of the world in pictures and words
    • at least twice a week for now
  • To be faithful in posting to my 365 project
  • To read my bible verse that comes to my email inbox every day instead of just archiving most of them
So, here's to a productive, happy and fun 2013!

Do you make resolutions?  Why or why not?