Friday, January 29, 2010

300/365 300th Post of Year 2

Believe it or not, today's photo is the 300th of this project! And that means only 65 more to go before a successful second round of Project 365.

I have to say, the second year is tougher than the first! I have to consciously work to not just rephotograph all the subjects I did the first year. Gotta make them different. I suppose that's kind of the point, though, right?

Ready for a round up of the best of the last 100 days?

214/365 Golden leaves -- Wow, remember what it was like to actually have some color outside? This photo makes me long for winter to be over!

216/265 Portobello mushroom -- Macro fan that I am, I love the texture in this photo. And it makes me hungry.

239/365 A rainy day in Chicago -- A beautiful end to a long day spent dodging in and out of stores on a marathon shopping trip.

240/365 A lovely walk around Chicago -- I can now mark a visit to the Cloud Gate off my photographer's bucket list.

276/365 Chilly morning -- This one is for Mom. She mentioned that she hadn't really seen this angle of the pond before, so she liked it.

279/365 Frosty morning -- Apparently we had a couple beautiful mornings fall quite close to each other. I love thick frost like this, especially when the sun hits it. Everything just sparkles.

290/365 First footprints -- My first really noticeable use of my new wide-angle lens.

296/365 Life is rough -- I choose this photo just because it warms my heart and makes me smile.

And what about the photo that goes in this post? These are an "after" shot of the new pendant lights that Dad installed in my living room. The old ones were rather ugly, 1970s throwback, brushed gold cones on the ceiling. Ick.

What's next in the final 65 days of this year? Look for week-long themes, helping me with inspiration in the final stretch!

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/80s, f/4 at ISO 200

Thursday, January 28, 2010

299/365 All in a day's work

When it comes to learning something new, I often find that it helps me to watch someone in action doing [insert task/activity here].

Last week I got to watch a photographer and videographer in action on a commercial photo shoot. Unfortunately, that meant standing outside in mid-January in Indiana all morning (it took at least two hours inside before I could actually feel my toes again), but I still found it interesting and valuable.

We moved to several locations during the shoot, both inside and outside. And part of the outside shoot involved driving on the interstate, going at least 60 mph, with the videographer hanging out the sunroof and back window of the jeep.

I didn't envy him that -- but only because that January wind was seriously cold. He was totally game, though, and confident in what he was doing.

I haven't seen the video footage yet, but I bet it's great!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 250 at about 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

298/365 Ginger

The latest unusual item in my organic produce bin: ginger.

I've never had fresh ginger on hand, so I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with it. I've done some research online for ideas, and it seems as though the most common uses are in tea, stir fries, and desserts.

From what I read, it's a pain to peel -- but people who love it tackle the process anyway.

How do you like to use fresh ginger?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

297/365 Unusual inheritance

This has to be one of the oddest inheritances I've seen yet.

It's a mount of a Longhorn steer. As in cow. And it's a shoulder-mount, meaning the entire neck is mounted, all the way to the shoulders. It's huge, and it's not an animal you see stuffed very often.

Luckily, I'm not the person who inherited it -- Chase is. A very good friend of his, a mentor for many years, passed away unexpectedly before Christmas. In the process of sorting through this man's earthly possessions, this mounted steer somehow got passed to Chase.

He likes it, for both the novelty and the emotional tie to his friend. Until Chase finds a wall suitable for display, this head is sitting on the floor, staring straight upward to the ceiling.

It's an odd sight.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

296/365 Life is rough

Life's rough for this dog, can't you tell?

This is his, "Wow, what a hard day. I'm so happy to be chilling on the couch that I'm going to lay belly-up with my feet in the air" mode.

You know he's really relaxed when his head is hanging off the front of the couch, resting on the footstool. He rests his back feet on the back of the couch or Mom's lap, and his front feet hang limply vertical.

Makes me happy (and envious) just looking at the picture.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 1250

Monday, January 25, 2010

295/365 Macro autopsy

Thinking imaginatively like a team member on CSI, I'd call this a photo of an autopsy.

An autopsy of a garage door opener remote.

Well, I don't know if I can really call it an autopsy when I wasn't actually trying to figure out why it died -- but I opened it up post-death, so let's call it that.

I don't care what made it die, I just care that it did. In the process of dying, the opener experienced some seizures that worsened with the progression of its illness (it would only open about 12", then jerk to a halt, light flashing). And that was just plain inconvenient.

The motor itself limped along for a while with the aid of a little medication (WD-40), but eventually, it was just too far gone. We couldn't save it.

So it was replaced with a bright, shiny, new, younger version and I opened up the remote to see what its guts looked like.

Life's rough, huh?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Sunday, January 24, 2010

294/365 Veteran seashells

Collecting shells is one of my favorite activities during beach vacations.

The shells in this photo are a little different -- they weren't collected by me, but rather my grandfather when he was stationed abroad during World War II. He sent them in a couple small cardboard boxes back here to his family, and we unearthed those boxes, fully intact, when we were sorting through some of my grandmother's old belongings. Inside one of the boxes he had even tucked a one-sheet newsletter describing some of the latest current events at the time.

I emptied the boxes into a small glass cylinder and now display them on a shelf in a bookcase -- a bookcase he built for me.

Amazing how some things can come around full circle, isn't it?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800

Friday, January 22, 2010

293/365 Addiction

I admit it, I have an addiction.

It's an addiction to library books. It rooted itself in my life years ago, when I was a small child. And now? The Balance of the World doesn't feel right unless I have at least three library books at home, waiting to be read.

At least I can recognize my addiction. (Then remedy it by making a trip to the library!)

I recently got down to just one book on hand. On my subsequent stop, I came out with a stack of four new books and was immediately able to breathe a relaxing sigh of relief when I got home.

Seven books seemed to be the magic number when I was a kid. That meant one book a day for a week, after which we might be able to make a trip back to exchange them. The limit was placed on me by Mom (wisely), and to this day, I still can't help but keep that number in mind when I'm starting to become voracious.

Any more than that feels really crazy.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800

Thursday, January 21, 2010

292/365 Third time around

When I like a movie, I'll watch it at least three times. The first time through, you focus on following the story. The second time, you pick up foreshadowing and character clues. The third time, you really notice details and gain more of an appreciation of the vision of the director, writer, and crew.

I recently took my third tour of a client's facility, and in many ways, it was like watching a movie for the third time. Even though I knew what was going on, that familiarity allowed me to ask more questions, pay attention to smaller details, and enhance my understanding of what they do.

When it comes to a client relationship, that understanding is definitely important.

Plus, it's fun to see new coworkers don lab coats and massive safety goggles. It's almost like an initiation.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 indoors under fluorescent lighting

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

291/365 Unknown geode

I have no idea where this came from.

I know it's a slice of a lovely geode, but I can't for the life of me remember where or how I got it.

It's a purchased piece, not one found by the roadside, so I either bought it for myself or it was a gift. It's a slice about 1/3" thick, with the outside edge in its rough natural state, and its blue cross section has been polished smooth. The whole rock is about the size of a coaster.

Wherever it came from, I like it!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/30s, f/2.8 at ISO 800

Monday, January 18, 2010

290/365 First footprints

I recently subscribed to a new blog in my Reader called "1000 Awesome Things." And the blog is definitely awesome.

Each day, the author posts a simple, usually everyday thing that is awesome -- usually something that we all like but rarely think about consciously. For example: when your windshield washers match the beat of the song you're listening to; walking on grass with bare feet; finding hidden compartments in things you already own; and when the dog's really excited you're back home. Today's was "Making the first footprint in fresh snow." Definitely awesome!

I didn't get the honor of making the first footprints in this photo above, but I liked finding them anyways. I like those simple trails, when they're uninterrupted, and you can see the beginning and end clearly.

I also like seeing animals' tracks and trying to decipher what kind of animal made them. Dog, squirrel, deer, rabbit.

Also awesome: getting the first real photo with a new lens and really being able to tell it's different. Awesome!

Camera: Canon 40D with 24mm wide angle lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 at about 5:45 p.m.

Friday, January 15, 2010

289/365 All in moderation

When we were kids, my parents referred to alcoholic beverages as "yuck drinks" to dissuade us from being interested.

If I asked to try a sip of her "yuck drink," Mom would say, "Okay, but you're not going to like it." And sure enough, it worked -- I didn't.

As an older teenager, the primary force that kept me from drinking with friends was the crippling fear (and surefire knowledge) that Mom Would Find Out. Sure, most kids fear getting caught. But my mom was seemingly inhuman in her ability to sniff out wrongdoing, with "sniff" being a key word.

Her sense of smell is ridiculously good. So good and so sensitive that I wasn't able to wear much perfume because it gave her a headache.

I just knew that if I was even in the vicinity of a keg she'd smell it on me. Even if I never touched a drop, just being in the presence of it would trigger the bloodhound instinct.

And then I'd be on house arrest until I turned 25.

With that in mind, I didn't turn into much of a partier. Even though I'm now fully legal (and have been for some time), I still feel a little odd having a drink in the presence of Mom and Dad.

Not many forces are more powerful than a parent, are they?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Thursday, January 14, 2010

288/365 Hand-dipped ice cream

Ice cream is one of my simple, favorite desserts.

And boy, do I love it in a fresh waffle cone. Real, no-holds-barred ice cream in a big waffle cone. I don't even want to think about the amount of fat and calories in that, but it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

A good scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone has somehow become one of those treats that I seem to only get -- and allow myself to have -- on vacation. And I only go on vacation about once a year.

When I think back on one of my favorite family vacations as a kid, a trip to Yellowstone, I can remember a great fresh frozen yogurt store that we visited. (I also remember getting swarmed by monster mosquitoes right outside the shop.) It had a wood-frame screened door, and they gave you the option to add your own mix-ins to your cone.

Also, I think back on a trip to Florida with my girlfriends a few years ago. I remember getting a hand-dipped scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone on one rainy afternoon when our trip to the beach was cut short. Next door was a tacky souvenir shop where we wandered through the aisles and laughed about some of the crazy wares. And took funny photos, of course.

Why in the world are those dessert shops so memorable to me? Well, it would make sense that part of it isn't just the treat of the ice cream indulgence, but the fact that I savored it in the company of people I love.

Because I can't even tell you what flavor I had.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

287/365 When life gives you snow...

... make snow angels!

The 4+ inches of snow that we received last week piled up beautifully. It made commuting to and from work a bit of an adventure, but it made everything but the roads look like a postcard.

Some of my colleagues took a quick (seriously, five minutes) break from work to go outside and make snow angels together. I was dressed too nicely, so I stayed inside -- but I had to go to the window and get a photo.

Someone on the ground captured some video, too. Looks like a lot of fun.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

286/365 Pre-snow rush

Everyone seemed to be interested in making french toast at home last week, because this was the scene in the grocery store on Wednesday evening.

What got them in the mood? 4-5 inches of snow predicted for the next day. That inevitably causes people to make a run on the bread, milk and egg aisles. Whenever they hear "accumulating snow," they assume they're going to be snowed in for days, unable to venture out of their homes. So they need bread, milk and eggs.

Yes, yes, I was at the grocery store, too. But I was out of some of my lunch and breakfast fixings for the next day, so I needed to go, regardless. Honestly.

What else struck me as funny in this aisle? Most of the remaining stock that hadn't been wiped out was whole wheat bread and whole grain varieties. The healthier stuff.

Luckily for me, I actually found a bread variety that I've been looking for for some time. Hungry Girl has been raving about Arnold's Sandwich Thins for the past year, but I've never seen them on my weekly grocery runs. It was only because the surrounding stock/clutter had been removed that I saw these on the shelf at Marsh, just waiting for me.

I guess it was meant to be, don't you think?

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

Monday, January 11, 2010

285/365 Break out the dancing shoes

I'm going to start January 2010 with a new challenge:  learning to dance the Lindy Hop.

It's a variation of swing dancing that started in the 1920s and 1930s. I've never tried it before, but I'm going to jump in with both feet and try a Level 2 class. I have plenty of dance experience, including swing, so I'm feeling confident about my ability to pick it up.

Curious about what a really advanced Lindy looks like? Check this out:

Oh. My. Goodness.

I've got new shoes (the picture above) and a new year. Let's give this a go!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Friday, January 8, 2010

284/365 Laundry room prep

I've lived in my house since mid-July 2009, but it was only this week that I got a washer and dryer.

The laundry room had to be remodeled / reconfigured for safety reasons, and the resulting space that was available for the washer and dryer became extremely small. An ordinary sized unit, let alone side-by-side units, would not fit.

The search has been a bit complicated. We finally found a Whirlpool combination washer/dryer (like you'd find in an apartment, where the dryer is above the washer) that would fit, both for width and depth.

And it arrived this week! Until now, the space has just been an empty square with the dryer hose hanging out of the wall.

Check another item off the to-do list.

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 320

Thursday, January 7, 2010

283/365 Stand mixer heaven

When it comes to baking, there's nothing that makes me happier than being able to mix the ingredients in a KitchenAid stand mixer. It makes life so much easier (not to mention cleaner).

It has the perfectly sized bowl. It has several speed settings. It allows for hands-free mixing. It comes in a beautiful rainbow of colors. It does cookie dough, cake batter, bread dough, meringue... just about anything under the sun.

I don't personally have one, but Mom's is readily accessible for me. For the last several weeks, every time the word "cookie" comes up in conversation, Dad has started begging for peanut butter cookies.

I finally broke down and made some chocolate chip peanut butter cookies for him. But only because I got to use the stand mixer.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/15s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

282/365 Test of trivia

I love this version of Trivial Pursuit. It's the Millennium Edition, and because of that, my age doesn't place me at as much of a disadvantage as when I play the original classic version. In the original master set, all of the popular culture events, scientific facts, and sports milestones happened prior to about 1982.

If you hadn't yet become a human being at that point in time, (and assuming you're not a quiz bowl master) it makes answering those questions a little more difficult.

I recently gave the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? game a try and felt it paled in comparison to Trivial Pursuit. Nevertheless, I love trying new board games.

It's always hard to beat a classic.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 500

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

281/365 Caramelized onions

Does this picture make your eyes water just looking at it?

Mom made caramelized onions in the crock pot one day last week, and it called for three pounds of sliced onions. My tear ducts responded and I primarily stayed out of the kitchen. I don't know how she did it.

I did get close enough for an action shot of her working. The reviews of the end result were very positive, so here's the recipe for you:

Caramelized Onions in the Crock Pot

3 pounds Vidalia oninons, or other sweet onions (4 to 5 onions, 3 to 4 inches in diameter), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick to 1/4-inch-thick slices
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)

Place the onions and butter in the insert of the slow cooker, cover, and cook on LOW for 12 to 14 hours, until the onions are deep brown and very soft. It's almost impossible to overcook these; make sure to let the onions cook until they are mahogany colored.

Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 cups
Cooking Time: 12 to 14 hours on LOW
Slow Cooker Size: 4 quart

Author: Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody
Source: Epicurious, Feb 2001

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 500

Monday, January 4, 2010

280/365 Outsmarted by the sprinting dog

Buster -- like many other dogs, I understand -- likes to come tearing into the house after he's gotten wet outside.

It's a ritual, and he does it every time. The rainier/wetter it is, the faster he sprints. He'll do it when it's snowy, too, since he's started melting by the time he gets inside.

I wanted to capture this sprint in a blur of motion for this photo, thinking he'd be going so fast that he'd ignore me, but he was too smart for me. I laid flat on the floor, at his level, camera at the ready. But, perceptive being that he is, he saw me right away and slowed his entrance. He knew I was onto him.

In fact, I believe he thought I was waiting to grab him and dry him off (it's been known to happen), so he cautiously trotted by and gave me a wide berth. He kept his eye on both Mom and me, maintaining a distance of about five feet for a solid 5-10 minutes.

Outsmarted by the dog.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/50s, f/3.5 at ISO 1600

Sunday, January 3, 2010

279/365 Frosty morning

If you live in a perpetually warm climate, you're missing out on mornings like this.

With a blanket of snow already on the ground, you wake up to brilliant sunshine and a thick coat of frost on every outdoor surface. Yes, it's a pain if you have to scrape your windows -- but the sparkle of the sunshine glinting off of everything is just gorgeous.

This kind of frost and light makes everything appear artful and delicate. These are the kind of mornings I like in winter.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s, f/8 at ISO 100 at about 9:00 a.m.

278/365 Staying warm

These girls are smart. They realize that the weather has turned frigid over the last few days, and when they see someone coming to open their warm stalls and give them fresh hay, they don't waste time.

At this time of year, you don't even have to call their names to get them to come in. It's as though they're waiting for you all day long, so they immediately head to the barn if they're out.

The wind has been especially harsh lately, so they've been sticking close to the barn, using it for a wind break. I don't blame them. I've been staying inside by the fire myself.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 4:00 p.m.