Tag Archive | photography

3 things Thursday

what better way to blog more than the old standby of three cool/good/interesting things from the week.  This week I’m thankful for;

  1. Police.   Waaaaay back on veterans day I promised that on On January 9th I would give the police their due on their day  I also took some time to message all the good people I know who are police.  Thankfully I’ve lived a life where police were never the bad guys.  Sure, I’ve been mad at speeding ticket but it wasn’t like I wasn’t actually speeding.  I do feel safer for the police and I don’t fear that they are out to get me.  I see our police doing their best to spread that opinion with cool things like safety camp and working in the schools and giving out coupons for ice cream when they see a kid biking with a helmet.  I’m in a town that thoroughly supports police, to the extent that the high school did a walkout when the town council was considering closing our local police and contracting with the county.   I get in my bubble that this is a good place and we are safe and while that is pretty true super sad stories like this officer that was shot this week happen way too often.  This officer had nothing but support from his community too and I hope he recovers but even in safe little towns bad things can happy and it is (literally) too close to home.

 

2. Sister Christmas.

Other years, because I don’t really love hauling gifts from MN to NY to open there to then haul back we have had 2nd Christmas and it is always fun.  We drove this year and the gifts do get smaller (and more electronic) as they age so most could make the trip, I thought I was in the clear but…  We have another mini tradition where we let the girls shop for each other and this year that got lost in the flu so we did it last week with an agreement that we would have “sister Christmas” this past weekend.  I love how well they know each other and what they would each like and the care that goes into choosing.  Personally, I love the gifts my sisters choose, they are always ‘right’ somehow even if it is nothing I knew I needed or wanted.  They had the best time with this mini Christmas both with the gifts themselves and the wrapping was even fun.  Niamh did the crazy classic of 5 layers + of wrapping, including packing tape for Zoe and to add to the fun, Fiona had an identical outer box and after Zoe was expecting the same BUT Niamh had wrapped an empty box that included a note that was directions to a different location.  It was awesome.

 

3. img_3539Last is an item that was part of my world for my entire childhood.  It was my grandmother’s’ whatnot’ and she acquired it when she purchased the house so its actual age is unknown but I’m guessing 150-200 years old.  For my growing up it was covered in crystal and I remember dusting it often.  When my grandparents downsized this lovely piece went with them but didn’t have such a prominent place in the house.  As old age and illness took over it became less used and dustier and eventually, after both grandparents were gone it became an item in the estate.  I never thought I would end up with it, but I did, and we brought it home from Christmas and I spent a good long time cleaning and then polishing and then assembling it.  I’m not sure what to put on it in our house but I’m looking forward to it being part of my kid’s memories too.  Oh, I might have said I inherited it because I cleaned it most (probably not true) but that put the idea in #3’s head that she would be cleaning it as often as possible to make a claim now…

 

Those are my 3 things – anyone else doing this challenge?  Even if you are not, take a second to thank a police officer today, it is their day.

Top 40

I turned the big Four-Oh on December 18 (1 week before Christmas) and I wanted to do something special.  The downside to birthdays close to Christmas is not the gifts like everyone immediately assumes, it is the attention sink of Christmas.  All time and energy are going toward the holiday and nobody has time or energy to do something ‘not’ Christmas that close.  *Including me* I also love the magic of Christmas and love making it special for my family so I also had no real energy to plan a party for myself and Lars, wonderful in many ways, is not a planner (and then I got the flu so I’m glad there wasn’t a party planned).

One answer is to move my birthday celebration to a more dead spot on the calendar but that brings back the issue of planning a party for myself, that just feels odd.  So my answer this year is to do ‘something special’ with my top 40 friends and family.  The ‘rules’ are that it has to be for my birthday, not just that we happen to be out after an event and sharing a meal or something, social time is great but the intention for birthday is a key element.   Also, no double counting, even if some of the same people are there they don’t count again.  I like this system because while I have an odd internal issue with throwing a big party for myself, I have zero issues telling a friend “hey, lets go do a XYZ for my birthday” and personally planning the activity and date and they come and say ‘happy birthday!” and we go from there.  I’m equally open to a friend inviting me to something for my birthday quest.  This also gives me the freedom to celebrate my birthday with all my favorite people at times that work for each individual and I can see people from all over and include them in the birthday quest because my timeline is long.

So far the plan is working well and I’m excited to keep rolling with it.

My first celebration was the weekend before my birthday and the serious top people in my life attended.  1. Lars, 2. Vacation Mom 3, 4, and 5 were my kids.  We had a great little dinner party in my beautiful front room with candles and the Christmas tree and a lovely lamb meal.

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only took the one picture, Lars is blurry but he is in a lot of the others too.

The second celebration included Lars again but featured our friends Lou and Lisa; for my 40 count, they are #6 and #7.  We went to a very nice French restaurant that we had been to before.  They had a crazy day with plumbing issues but I really appreciated that they came out per plan. (plus after their day they needed a glass of wine).  Side bonus of this celebration was a fun kid party where #1 watched their kids who are very good friends with #2 and #3 so everyone was a winner.

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pre dinner, we didn’t just drink wine (but I’m not opposed to wine events)

The third celebration was in NY with my family.  The restaurant was a comedy of errors but we all had a good time anyway.  My BiL is in restaurant management so his running commentary of ALL the things they did wrong was hilarious.  We common people notice some wrong things like a long wait or getting the wrong check but he noticed dozens of little things.  I think he (semi) secretly reveled in their ineptitude because the owner is someone he is not a big fan of.  For my count; I add my parents, #8,#9 without whom my birthday would not have ever happened.  My two sisters #10, #11 who I wish I lived closer to but maybe someday … and their husbands who are cool enough guys to count as friends/family and are #12 and #13.

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getting 8 in a picture isn’t easy

#14 is a high school friend who I have a fun relationship with basically centered around phone games and technology.  He also shares his working life in NYC and I share my mellow country life with him.  It is fun to have someone in your life for basically 30 years.  We did a perfect for us birthday event; we went and played the Wizards Unite phone game from 10pm to midnight.  Lars and my mom came too (but don’t count per the rules) but having a team of 4 playing together was truly fun.

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two professors, an Auror and a magizooligest

#15 is on reserve for Miss Math.  We were both sick and she did actually come visit but we did not have birthday intentions.  We had planned on going out but neither of us was up for it SO she has a reserved spot because she BELONGS in my top 40 and whether we get together in the spring if she can visit or maybe we can watch a movie or read the same book in our respective houses and then talk about it we will figure it out.  Miss Math is one of my oldest friends and we have talked basically every week (or more frequently) for 30 years.

**no photo because we used our time to chat and blow our noses**

#16 is my designer friend who drove up from NJ to see us.  She arrived with a bottle of champaign to celebrate 40 and we did the visit thing.  Seeing her is always fun, she is full of energy and creative ideas and I always want to do something more after we visit.  We have pretty different lives now but there is still plenty of common ground and I’m glad she made the drive.

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birthday mimosas!

Not bad for having the flu on my real birthday.  So! friends of mine, let’s do something for my 40th birthday!  I’m open to most things, the gift of your time is all I ask, and this is going to be a fun challenge for the year.  Someone asked if I know 40 people and my answer is “Absolutely” I’ve been really lucky to consistently meet awesome people over my 40 years and I’m pretty good at keeping in touch so I still have friends I’m in contact with from elementary school, middle/high school, college, my first job in MN, SCA over a lifetime in 3 kingdoms plus the international event of Pennsic, recent friends made through kids, PTO, school board and other causes.  I would likewise count some internet friends because some of my online-only relationships are pretty fabulous and have persisted for years.  Maybe I’ll make it part of my quest to have a birthday event with someone from every category in my life…. let’s make that a stretch goal.  Regardless every one will get documented here and I hope to have the best epic odyssey of a 40th year.

 

*Honorable mention for the list has to go to my Ny friend, who also reads this, who I ended up sitting next to in church on Christmas Eve.  Given we were there for Jesus’s birthday it certainly couldn’t be for my birthday but it was such a great extra for my visit it had to have a mention.  Sometimes you work hard to have plans fall through, sometimes you have a friend land in the seat next to you unexpectedly.  I have known her since 1st grade so if we can make a birthday thing work then I could get that fairly rare category because my class was only 11 kids.

 

Christmas traditions, old and new

So proof people read because I got quite a few calls about my last post.  Good to know that I normally keep the bar high for positive writing.  In reality like everyone, my ups and downs are pretty on par with most, I just usually keep it off the record. Thank you to those who took a second to check on me though, it was just what I needed.

Anyway!

Christmas time is its own type of magic and we are keeping up with our traditions even while we add in new ones or let some drift away.

This year we have 4 countdowns to Christmas;  Like other years, Santa’s beard is trimmed daily and each day is basically a positive and selfless item and so far so good.  On ‘write a nice note for someone’ day I was gifted with some super sweet notes.  I don’t have a picture this year but Santa is colored with style and his hat is a work of art (literally)

Two new count downs join the group.  My mom sent a classic advent pop open calendar with a little candy and line from the Christmas story in each.  Our post office got a little aggressive so all the candy actually fell out so it now lives in a tin and the fun is opening the door and reading the passage.  #3 noticed that they all had ‘some guys name and some numbers’ at the bottom and I filled her in on how the Bible works.  She then decided to read the bible.  She will not be discouraged and the copy we have (that nobody knows where it came from) actually has pronunciation guides so it is not all that hard to read, except you know, for how hard it is to read.  It is an odd outcome but I don’t mind if she reads.

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she will not skip ahead…

Mom’s contribution was in semi reaction to my dad deciding that his daughters would enjoy a tea advent calendar.  I don’t know about my sisters but I certainly enjoy it.  The kids open the tea but after dinner, I make a little pot of interesting tea and we all have a little cup.  Most have been really really good and overall I enjoy the process.  On tea tastes like forest sweepings but 1 out of 10 isn’t bad.  #3 likes all of them, #2 likes the ‘normal’ tea that happened to be one of the days and #1 has enjoyed a few and not liked a few.  I’ve liked them all (except that one, pine needles are not for drinking).

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The 4th countdown is the one that I remember best from my growing up, the 4 Sundays of Advent.  It is a short little lighting of the candle and saying of prayer and singing a song but we follow it with a family dinner and all the kids love it.  Of course, there was negotiations about who would lite what candle but they mostly worked it out and it is a nice part of our weekend.  If all goes well, the 4th Sunday will be celebrated in Sayville this year.

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There are a few things that have drifted.  We don’t read Christmas books out loud anymore.  In some ways, the tea took the spot but our bedtime has changed and they just don’t read with us anymore.  It is a little sad but I’m overall glad they can all read solo and usually choose to (even the bible sometimes).  We also won’t have the opportunity to celebrate Hannaka because we will be gone during the 8 nights.  I’m sure we could find a way in NY but really it was about sharing that evening with our friend.

Finally, a Christmas event that accidentally started last year persists.  In an odd hybrid of Scandinavian culture that surrounds us here, and, the semi detestable elf on the shelf the Tonte’s we made last year have started moving around the house and even brought gifts on the 1st of December.  They are undeniably adorable and they are NOT watching us for Santa nor do they get into trouble in the night.  They simply move about and create a magic moment every afternoon when they race inside to see where they moved to during the day.  They are a good addition and a very low-stress magic maker.

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One day they helped the tree feel loved before we got time to decorate

We have the tree up and trimmed, decorations around and about, Santa has been visited, town tree has been officially lit and I am nearing the end of shopping.  We have a plan for hand made gifts and they are in process.  Each year we do different things so hard to say ‘tradition’ quite but this year the girls are taking the lead on projects they want.  I’m glad to see the craft gene expressing itself! This weekend we will be doing the majority because next week we are busy every night of the week and heading off to NY on Friday.

Time to finish up and make the tea then chase 3 good girls into bed.

December

Hey, November got crazy, I did finish the shed but it was a marathon!  I had tons of help and it was like a party, I can see how barn-raising used to be a community affair.  We did get the snow, as expected, and the weather just kept on for the entire long weekend.  However, it was not that cold so for me, that was really good.  Sure there was snow on the ground but my fingers and toes were cozy in normal layers so the finishing bits got done.  On Thanksgiving day I pulled out the ladder and air nailer and finished the roof tarp properly.  Then we installed the door.  It may have been what I was most worried about and in the end, it was the absolute easiest!  We had everything going for us;

  • High-quality Anderson door that was well built and had fewer steps for installing than my doorbell
  • We built the opening to match the door so we didn’t need to adjust anything
  • everything was square to start!  that was a big surprise to us all but it shows that being careful at the start pays off in the end.

The only snafu was the cat stepping in the silicon gel and we wasted a little time laughing at the cat (and googling if it was toxic) (it was not).  The thing was heavy but between 3 adults we shoved it in and that was more or less that.  It makes the shed look like a real building, I’m very pleased.

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roof tarp secure, door installed.  (Lars’s look of concern is not about the door)

Thanksgiving afternoon, post-construction projects, progressed as holiday normal.  Friends came over, the table was set with cheer, food was cooked and consumed and everyone had a good time.  I went to bed happy, and, for the first time in weeks, I slept well because I had ZERO crazy deadline projects on my mind.

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Our crew this year

The kids had off from Wednesday through the weekend, but, it was very crappy weather with snow, freezing rain, more snow interspersed with random decent weather.  This is NOT GOOD for going places but the kids really did have a great time playing in the snow around the house.  I can’t express in words how good it feels for them to decide to put on snow gear and go out and play.  They play nicely for ages.  It sounds dumb but it makes my heart full and happy, I hope I always remember this.

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they ended up with 3 snow people and a fort started in the front yard

There was a vague plan to go get a Christmas tree ‘from the wild’ but the weather just wasn’t on our side so we went with our traditional visit to the Home Depot to pick a tree ‘from the not wild’.  It is still a fun little trip and I love the tree we picked.  The Home Depot must have extra jolly criteria for working the tree lot because like last year, the people who helped us were fun and happy and made the experience more than transactional.

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“helping….”

In the past I’ve stressed about the ‘holiday card picture’ and over the past years, I’ve realized that I do better trying all year to get good pictures and then one low-stress fast fun photo if the opportunity arises.  The perfect opportunity presented itself on Sunday – we had been unpacking the decorations and found all the assorted shirts so everyone put one on, also found were the assorted Santa hats.  The day moved on and there was a break in the weather so everyone ran outside with boots, hats, scarfs and no other changes to outfit or hair or makeup and we took about 15 pictures in under 5 minutes and it worked great.  I have two great shots and zero crabby kids.

The balance of this week has been all about putting the house back together post project and 5 days of lazy vacation life.  I finished our Christmas card today and its at the printer and this weekend santa comes to our town to light the tree so I’m working on decorations and gift ideas too.

It is a different type of busy, Christmas still has its stresses and I create my own extra for wanting to do ‘all the things’ but it is a fun busy.  Who knows how long the particular magic of Santa will last but I plan on enjoying it all.

 

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Did I mention we got a cat?

I don’t think I did….

Hey, we got a cat!  He is much bigger than our dog.

Back in April, when we spent a lot of time at softball, I was thinking to myself (in my head) “I think we are ready for a cat, maybe for Zoe’s birthday…” and not 10 minutes later one of the softball dads said “hey Kate, want a kitten?”.  That is how cats come into your life – like the mind readers they are.  Apparently, his office cat had kittens and they needed homes and while never having talked about cats and in fact bringing a dog to many softball games – he offered me a kitten.

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our first picture of him in June

It worked out nicely.

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when Prima was bigger by a hair back in July

We debated names briefly and decided on Sorbet, like the frozen treat.  We usually call him Sur-bee or “cat”.  He is a bit bold, he will jump onto tables and counters but he does know it is bad because if he sees you he jumps down with a guilty look.

He is a bit standoffish.  Absolutely friendly and you can pick him up and hold him and carry him around but he seldom chooses to come to sit on a person.  Prima does get territorial about her people so maybe they have an agreement.

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growing growing growing

He loves dog food and given he is 3x the size of the dog we have to defend Prima’s food.  We thought we would need to keep Prima out of his food so we always fed him up on his cat tree.  He still eats there although it is proof that cats can levitate because only about half of him fits up there now.

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  we might need a bigger tree

At just over 6 months old he has proven a very good mouse catcher (and bird and vole).  He patrols the garage and the field around the house and drives #1 crazy about not coming home by dark but he does turn up around 8:30 daily if he isn’t in already

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look at this giant thing

Overall the pets get along, they play fight and chase and even snuggle but most usually they are just in the general vicinity of each other since they both like to sleep half the day.  He does like to groom Prima and she will stand there and let him lick all her muddy paws clean after romping in the yard

 

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captive grooming

He is a very good cat, he is chill and tolerates the kids picking him up and while he does try to eat our food (and Prima’s) nothing out of the ordinary for a cat.  We just need to be more careful about our bacon.  He is a good addition to our house.

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sleeping pets.  Wish they didn’t love MY bed but they are cute

Eket 2 drawer cabinet

First things first, if you came here because you are having trouble with your Eket, ME TOO.  I found ZERO people who had this issue so maybe it was just me, because, every other post was a glowing review about how simple and easy it is.  I agree, the frame is quite easy but this two-drawer cabinet has gliders that are, as standard for Ikea, genius yet inscrutable instructions.  I installed mine in what I thought was an absolute following of the directions but nope, I did it upsidedown and backward.

The key is getting the right and left sorted, so note carefully the grove and then what set of holes is closer to the ‘top’ when the keyholes are oriented correctly per picture.  I suppose that is what the pointing finger is trying to say but seriously Ikea, just use a word or two.73a050e9-1db7-48c9-9c14-3cd2eeb4d367-28320-00000ff69d78f7f4_file

Once that was done it was cake.  As easy as everyone says for sure.

Personally, I had another minor dilemma because originally I was just going to get the drawers and mount them just below the shelf, but, then the 4 cube was in the clearance section for a price that was too good to pass up.  I didn’t pay attention to the fact that it stacked up to exactly the same hight as the shelf.

Decision time, remove the shelf or go back to plan A and find a new home for the cube.  Lars preferred the potential of 4 new cubbies so we broke out the bolt cutters and trimmed out the shelf we no longer needed.  I did actually keep the bit to the left of the drawers, you can’t really see it but all I needed to do was move one support and it was stable so that was worth the effort.

As you can see, the eket is the perfect depth for a closet system.  Everything else is ClosetMaid standard and often other furniture stick out too far or are too far back.  This looks slightly proud because of our floor molding but that is ok by me because I can push the top unit back slightly so it has better balance when the drawers are out.

If you were wondering, Lars required his own drawer for accessories and these are very good because they are shallow so you don’t stack too much in there.  They also have the fun ‘pop open’ hardware so no knobs to worry about.

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I think this improves our closet nicely, other then the frustration of putting it together 2x, I like it a lot.

 

ps. I also like the series because the name reminds me of my friend Ekat.