Friday, January 30, 2009

Red, White and Blue

Camera Critters


I don’t expect to see Bluebirds in the winter, so imagine my surprise when I found a whole posse of them in a park in Red Wing, Minnesota.


So bright! I figured their colors would dull for the winter like Goldfinches do.



I think they look beautiful against the snow! What a fun surprise. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lightbox Tutorial

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek


Winter is the perfect time to take pictures inside. So, let’s make a light box. Above are some of the supplies you’ll need to make the frame. PVC pipe and connectors, PVC Cement, something to cut the pipe with, Plexiglas. You’ll also need fabric to wrap around it, to create your backdrop and lights.


I won’t go into lengths, as you will want to decide what size you want your box to be. We made ours 2’x4’ and at least 2’ tall. You can tell by the pictures we did this in the fall so I really don’t remember our exact dimensions.


A pipe cutter is so easy to use! I totally recommend figuring one into your project.


We cut some PVC pipe in short pieces to use on the ends. Then used some cement (glue) on it, as well as. . .


putting glue inside the connector.


Then we pushed them together tightly. The cement dries pretty quickly.


We then put cement on the exposed end of pipe. . .


. . .and a corner connector.


Then squished them tightly together.


And twisted them into proper alignment quickly, before the glue set.


This is how it should look when you’re done. Then you just repeat the above steps on the other end of the corner connector.


And you should have this. You will need eight of these, or four, depending on how you want to do things.


Cute the pipe in the length you want for the height of your lightbox and glue into the T connectors.


Now we have four corners started.


We used cross connectors in place of the T connectors for the other end because we are putting legs on ours, You can do this to keep it elevated slightly or just use the T connectors again to keep in flat.


Here’s one completed corner.


After you cut four pipes to your width, and four to length and glue them all together then it will look like this.


Now it’s time to cut the Plexiglas. We placed the frame on the Plexiglas and marked the corners so we could notch them out.


All of the upright pipes will need to be marked for cutting out.


Since we think it would be easier to cut the openings square instead of rounded Dennis used a square to reshape the cut lines.


Now we’re ready to cut.


You can use a dremel to make your cuts.


This particular tool is used for cutting sheetrock/drywall around electrical boxes.


Or you can use a jigsaw.


The Plexiglas we chose is too thick to cut with a box knife.


I venture to say, this is the hardest part of the whole project.


Then pop the Plexiglas into the bottom of your frame. Now it’s probably safe to remove the blue protective film. You can slide different fabrics under for different items you may want to photograph. The color will show through the Plexiglas.

You need a light weight white fabric (I love white flag fabric) to encase it in so your lights can shine through it. I haven’t gotten around to sewing ours yet so I can’t show you those steps. We just have our fabric draped around it and the clamps from the lights are holding it on. It works, so I haven’t made time to finish it up.

Because of the open connectors on the bottom you can cut pipe lengths to make legs for the light box and just use T and corner connectors (like on the top) to give your legs feet.

Clear as mud?

Added:  Someone asked about seeing photos in it, you've already seen many but I know that all the photos in this post were taken inside the light box.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wait, no, weight!


I have just been so stressed out lately that I haven’t been very chatty. I’m hoping to turn that around. I’m sure part of my mood has to do with our ‘wonderful’ weather that seems to drag out forever. Do you realize that we (Wisconsin) see only white for 5-7 months of the year? Ouch!


So you could say I have felt a lot like this scruffy little bluebird. Aside from the weather, I have family members who have been let go from their jobs, or had to take a pay cut. In fact, my husband had to take a pay cut, and it’s one we will feel. The only good part of that is that we have been saving money on food lately.


January 6th, about 3 weeks ago, we (my husband, daughter and I) signed up for our Community Weight Race. Our team name is ‘Fat Chance’. Now Britney, just had a baby so, of course she has a little to lose. My husband and I have gradually added on pounds over the last 6 years.


Weight is not something I like to talk about and you still won’t see me talking about it constantly, but occasionally I’ll let you know how I’m doing. It’s a big sore spot embarrassment for me. I weighed 125 when I met my husband 7 years ago and when I got diagnosed with cancer 3 years ago I weighed significantly more. Through chemo I would gain and lose and I think that’s pretty normal. After chemo I went back to how I had been before plus a few more pounds and I understand that ‘chubbiness’ is a side effect of the type of chemo I had.


Over the last 2 ½ years since stopping chemo I have wanted to lose, you may remember my anger at my oncologists for not caring more about my weight, but I knew at first I just needed to try to stay healthy and as long as I felt good, I was semi-content. Last year, I decided to try some SlimQuick, I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for this weight loss pill, and after day two of taking the medicine I felt horrible! I mean really bad, so I stopped taking them (felt discouraged and nursed myself back to health over the next few days) and my family encouraged me again to just be content that I was cancer free and to leave my weight alone.


But, this time I decided to try things a little differently. I don’t think my body can handle any weight loss drugs, so I set out to just try watching what I eat. For me that means counting my calories. I have read that the lowest a woman should go is 1200 calories a day, so I aim for that. My daily average is 1170 calories. How do I know this? Well I have been keeping a calorie journal. I found that there are several online, but I’m using My Calorie Counter. I love it and it helps me a lot!  A lot of foods are already there but you can add in your own as well.  Most chain restaurants have their nutritional information on their website so you can scope it out before you go.  And I just found another great site for nutritional information.


I have found I love salad and I don’t mind the fat free dressing, I can dip my fork in the dressing then stab some salad and cut even more calories without sacrificing the taste. We still have our pizza day on Sundays, we just eat less of it. McDonald’s Bacon Ranch Salad with grilled chicken is to die for! Just substitute half of a packet of Tangy Honey Mustard for the Ranch Dressing. I haven’t really had any cravings, not even chocolate. But I do still allow myself a couple of tall Mocha Frappaccinos (no whip – 200 calories) a week, much better than my 11-15 grande fraps I was having.

Oh! I almost forgot, I drink water now. I never drank water before and now I am up to drinking 8-9 glasses a day, the first week I just tried to get 2-3 a day down, that was plenty, but now I actually don’t mind it. Of course, I’ve added in exercise and know that as I lose it will be easier to do more. I’ve only made one bad choice, which I wrote about but never published, so I’ll add it here. I wrote this on January 9th:

Thanx, but I’ll pass

I decided to try Women's Ultra Mega Active Vitapak from GNC today. I took the pack about 11 am, I did not read the fine print about taking with food, I did eat about an hour later. By 2:30 my tummy wasn't feeling too well, but I figured things would all work out.

I felt very full. About 4:30 we went to get some movies and I started feeling a little worse so, as Dennis checked out, I went to sit in the car. Within a couple blocks of our house I was feeling kinda wonky. Not really dizzy but weird, and I felt a little nauseous. Pardon my giving of possibly too much information, but I thought I needed to use the restroom so I sat down, discovered no that I was going to throw up, grabbed the pitcher I rinse the dogs with and promptly vomited.

The next thing I remember I heard moaning, rather loud moaning and I wondered who was moaning then I realized it was me and I got quieter, then stopped. I opened my left eye and saw the beige rug that is next to the bathtub, I opened the other eye and saw the baseboard trim. I apparently did a face plant – ouch! I pushed myself up a little and discovered blood.

I thought I had given myself a bloody nose and I yelled, “Dennis!”, he was right outside the door (he had heard me fall) and came in immediately and helped me get up and clean up. We discovered the blood was coming from a gash in my lip. (I now have a lovely scar)

The vitapak is the only thing I did different today so I think the two are related. This is only the second time in my life I have ever passed out! The first was when I was a preteen and that time I saw black splotches then went limp and lost vision but could still hear. I felt it coming. This time I was up one moment and down the next, with no memory of the in between – scary!

I guess I really can't take anything for weight loss.  It bites that I have to do it all on my own.  But I'm terrified of passing out again.


I weighed in yesterday and have lost 11 pounds, so it’s working! Soon, I’ll look like this slim,sleek fellow. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mum on Macro Monday ;)

Macro Monday is easy to play, snap a macro (or any close-up) photo, post it on your blog and come back here and sign Mr Linky. Don't forget to visit each other. :)







Hope you don’t mind a splash of color in January!