31 July 2013

Happy Birthday...

...Harry Potter!

Harry Potter turned 33 years old today.  It's also J.K. Rowling's birthday.

Carus baked cupcakes to celebrate.

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(Happy B-Day Harry Potter!)

Blue velvet (because we didn't have red coloring) with purple cream cheese frosting (we really love that frosting recipe - easy and delicious) and blue lettering.

They are pretty darn good too!

Summer evening

Yesterday evening, we took the dogs to the dog park.  We haven't gone in a while since it's been hot and it wouldn't be good to have Leia running as hard as she runs when at the park.  From the moment we get there she is ready to chase her ball - and nothing else.

After she fetched about 20 times we walked over to the kid park and let them play a bit.  I had my camera with me and wandered off a bit to take pictures of the Queen Anne's lace (my favorite wildflowers).

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I also found some weed that went to seed.  Fluffy, fluffy seeds.  They looked lovely in the evening light.

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And heard a red-tailed hawk calling.  S/he flew almost directly over my head. From the series of pictures I got it almost looks like s/he grabbed something out of the air with it's right talon...?

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29 July 2013

Another one bites the dust

Looking back on the previous week it always feels like it went by so quickly. While in the middle of that week (or the current one), though, it doesn't really feel like that.

Not a whole lot is going on around here.  I'm working.  The kids are playing video games and reading and watching TV and occasionally bickering with each other.

Spider that was on the back porch.  I usually leave spiders alone as long as they stay outside because they eat bad bugs...and they're kind of cool to look at (thank you zoom lens).  This guy, though, didn't make it when I had Adam clean up the back porch.
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Just playing with the shaped bokeh kit Robert got me for my birthday this year.
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Light painting with some leftover sparklers.  The kids stood still and Robert went around them.  I wish the sparkler lasted long enough for me to get a second shot because Robert took direction better and you might have been able to see the kids faces.  I was testing out a process because.... I've officially been hired to photograph my first wedding and there is some hope that we can get a few light painting photos at the end of the day.  The wedding is in about 5 weeks - I'm nervous and so very excited.
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Still have a few roses left to photograph... unfortunately, they're on their way out.
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Garden haul for the day (Saturday). Harvested a few more potatoes (which we ate tonight and YUM) and some green beans.  I only have one more potato hill left, my red potato hill. Those are bush beans, which I get a few of each day, but the pole beans are going to start producing any day now.
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I cleaned out my closet a bit and pulled some clothes to give to Goodwill (we usually clean out closets before back to school shopping each year) and Carus tried on a few of my dresses.  The blue one fit her mostly - it was just a bit too long.  The pink one though needed to be clipped in the back.  I told her she could have hte blue one for her first school dance, and now she can't wait.
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I've been watching Doctor Who with the kids - introducing them for the first time (I know, I'm a bad mom for waiting hahaha).  We've started with the new series starting with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper and the 9th Doctor and Rose.
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Well, that's it for news around here.  See ya tomorrow... or probably more likely... next week.

23 July 2013

Another week down, another dollar earned

Or something.  I don't know.

Sometimes I just don't know what to use as a title so I write down the first second thing that pops into my head.

I'm in negotiations to photograph my first wedding.  YAY and EEP

It's an old coworker/friend that I messaged the other day after thinking of her and not hearing from her in awhile. Turns out she's getting married and hey, would I like to photograph it?  Funny how things happen sometimes.

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197/365 Flowers in my front garden.  I think they're called gladiolas.

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198/365 Bubble reflections.

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199/365 Neighbor's hydrangea

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200/365 Shasta daisy

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201/365 Potato tower harvest!  I got about 5 pounds, which isn't bad for only planting 5 or 6 potatoes.  I still have the small hills I planted in the garden to harvest.

In other gardening news, I have potato beetles (look like green lady bugs) on my green beans as well as these little bitty grasshopper looking things.  We don't want to use chemicals on the garden so chemical pesticide is out.  I'm trying a homemade pesticide - I minced up a bunch of garlic (about 8 cloves) and put that and 2 tbsp of cayenne pepper in a quart sized canning jar of water and let it brew in the sun for a few hours.  Then strained it into a squirt bottle at a 1:4 ratio (1 part spicy garlic broth to 4 parts water) and squirted it on the plants.  After one treatment things are better; those bugs were bugging out.  (Ha ha ha, I crack myself up.)  But there are still some that toughed it out/came back/new guys moved in so I'll have to do it again...and again...

And, as Robert found out, don't stand downwind of this stuff while it's being sprayed.  Not only does it have a strong garlic smell, it is a bit like pepper spray (hello cayenne pepper).

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202/365 Barb, Carus, and I went berry picking and I had more bowls than hands so for a bit I had a bowl hat.  We picked a few raspberries and much more blackberries.  I made a chocolate mayonnaise raspberry cake, and have frozen the blackberries for use in smoothies.

Getting out in the sun felt good, even though I didn't get enough sunscreen on my back and now have a sunburn. I spent a lot of time last week doing little to nothing trying to get my ankle better and I think I had a bit of cabin fever.  I love being home, but I also love doing things and going places. Sunday, when we went picking, my ankle was feeling pretty good and I wrapped it in an Ace bandage and took it easy.  It was a bit sore at the end of the day, but all in all not bad.  I'm trying not to get ahead of myself though...well further ahead of myself because I twisted my ankle just a teensy bit this evening going from my bedroom to the kitchen.  Don't ask me how because I don't even know. It's not bad, just reminding me that it's not 100% yet and I need to keep that in mind.

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203/365 A rose from my just cause bouquet from Robert. Taken with a macro filter.

16 July 2013

After dark

Late night garden watering because I didn't get to it before the sun went down.

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My potatoes are ready to harvest.  My green beans are doing really well and hopefully I'll be picking them soon.  And the tomatoes and cucumbers are still small.

Bad Becca

Standing on my feet for several hours making and canning spaghetti sauce was the final straw for my ankle.  Remember when I twisted my ankle during the LeakyCon 5K? I knew not resting it for 4 days was bad, but not resting for the next week and a half was also bad. I'm still having a lot of pain in my ankle and heel, and some light swelling. The bruising is gone and hasn't come back though, so there's that.

So Sunday I spent the day on the couch or in bed thankful for my full DVR folder, streaming Netflix, and my laptop with wi-fi. I iced my ankle off and on to help with swelling and Yoda kept me company. He apparently found resting his head on the ice pack comfortable.

14 July 2013

Last week

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A shot from my cake smash session last Sunday.  These babies are so stinking adorable!  They loved their cupcakes - and we enjoyed the leftover cupcakes.

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My hosta is blooming.  The leaves aren't looking that great though.  I have a few plant munching bugs this year and I don't use pesticides (because of my plant eating dog) so I just have to deal.  It's not too bad though.

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My dahlias in the front are blooming after taking so long to come up that I thought they didn't survive the winter.

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And my lavender bush is doing AMAZING! I don't think it has a lot of bugs that snack on it though so...

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My neighbor has a garden bed just over the fence full of wildflowers and these ones are tall enough that I can enjoy them over the fence.

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Friday we had a game night and played Blokus, a pretty fun and fairly easy game.  I was red, Adam green, Carus yellow and Robert blue, and because I usually win the game I got ganged up on and lost that round.

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Saturday I canned some spaghetti sauce since we've been out for about 2 months now.

06 July 2013

Pre photo shoot

187_365 07-06-13I have a photo shoot tomorrow with a friend and her twin 1-year-old babies.  We are doing a cake smash for their first birthday.

Carus and I made and decorated cupcakes today, as well as making dinner.  She was very helpful.  We made carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, recipe below.  Photo of the cupcakes is here, on Instagram.

And we put up the backdrop and decorated it.  Those streamers were not that cooperative and wanted to over twist or under twist and generally be a pain in the rear.  The stuffed puppy dog was the stand in for this test shot today, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  I cannot wait to get those two cuties in front of it and give them a cupcake.

I also got bubble soap thinking we can try some shots with bubbles too. Wanna take bets on whether working with babies will give me baby fever, or be a cure to baby fever?

CARROT CUPCAKES (Adapted from The Doctor's Dishes, Desserts, and Decor
Makes 20-22 cupcakes 

3 large eggs
1c dark brown sugar 
3/4c canola oil 
2c all purpose flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
Approx 1/2 tsp ground dry ginger 
3-1/2c grated carrots, packed

Preheat oven to 375F. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Beats eggs & sugar until thick and foamy, about 2 mins. Beat in oil gradually, beating after all oil is added for another minute. Sift in dry ingredients and mix until mixture is uniform. Fold in carrots. Spoon into cupcake liners, filling about 3/4 full. 

For domed top cupcakes:   Bake in the center of your oven at 375F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325F and bake until cake springs back when touched in the center, or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

SPICED CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (Adapted From The Doctor's Dishes, Desserts, and Decor)
Frosts 24-30 cupcakes

8 oz cream cheese, set out from fridge for about 15 minutes (Not quite room temp, but not cold either.)
1 stick butter, room temperature
4-6 cups powdered sugar 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine cream cheese and butter in a mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, alternating with vanilla extract. Add spices. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Beat frosting again and then frost cupcakes as desired.

The recipe says 4-5 cups of powdered sugar, but we ended up using about 6-1/2 cups.  Probably because we're in Oregon and the humidity in the air.  I also wanted to be sure to have a frosting stiff enough to pipe onto the cupcakes.  I'd start with the 4 cups and increase by 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup until reaching desired consistency.

Also, I like pecans in my carrot cake and recommend adding them (about 3/4 cup of preferred chopped nut; pecan, walnut, almond).  However, I live with a bunch of buttheads that do not like nuts in their cake so I have to go without.

05 July 2013


I was brilliant when I decided to take more days off then just what I needed for LeakyCon.  Seriously, brilliant.  I did not expect LeakyCon to be so utterly exhausting.  It's been very nice to have this week to recover and get a few things done around the house.

I spent Monday running errands - library, dentist, grocery shopping - and doing laundry.

The kids didn't have cavities (WOO), but I had one (BOO).  I knew about it already so wasn't surprised.  I got REALLY lucky though, and didn't need a root canal.

The numbing of my gums left me with a crooked smile though.  I wasn't really planning on immortalizing this picture of me, for obvious reasons.  Unfortunately, it was the only photo I took that day.  It's my Elvis impression.

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Those four days of LeakyCon were so warm hot and sunny that the garden took off.  Well, mostly the weeds took off.  I spent about 30-45 minutes weeding Tuesday and got a pretty good sunburn on my back. I only got through weeding half of the garden too.  I found a slug; only one, that was hopefully the only one and the little bastard that's been eating my green bean plants. I flung him out of the garden with my garden shovel.  He hit a tree.  I have no sympathy.

Then as I went to weed around the green beans I was startled by a garden visitor.  He's the biggest frog (pretty sure he's a frog) I've seen around here.  I coaxed him into the bucket to bring him inside to show the kids and take a picture.  Cause that's what you do when you a) have kids and/or b) have a blog and/or c) like to take pictures.  Carus then helped me let him go under some bushes near my garden.  I would love for him to live in the garden.  He'll eat the bad bugs.  I haven't seen him since, but still hope he didn't go far.

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A photo of the flowers we have sitting on the counter (Carus's dance recital bouquet) that I was messing around with some Photoshop filters with.
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4th of July

We usually host friends and family for a BBQ, but Robert wasn't feeling it this year so it was just us.  We went to see Despicable Me 2 at the theater and giggled the whole time and then BBQ'd and hung out around here.  While Robert and Adam stayed home keeping the dogs company playing video games, Carus and I went down to her school where the local firefighters were hosting their 2nd 4th of July firework show.  Live music starts around 7:30 p.m. and then the fireworks, set off by the firefighters, starts at dark.  It was a lovely show that seemed to go on forever.  We got home around 11:30.  Leia, who doesn't like the booms, did okay curled up under her blanket in the crate we borrowed next to Robert.  If he left the room, she was right on his heels.
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Today we went out to the in-laws house.  Robert is building them a shed.  He and the kids went out a few weeks ago and with Adam's help Robert was able to build, set and level the base and put down the floor and then build and place one wall.
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Today Robert, Adam, and Alan built and placed two more walls.

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Robert helping Alan get the walls held up just so so that when he nails down the second wall, they are where they are supposed to be and level and all that good stuff.
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Adam holding up another spot, and Robert nailing it down and to the existing wall.
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Three walls up!
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The next day out will be to build the fourth wall with the door in it, and frame up the roof (and possibly start putting on the roof).  It's a 6 foot x 8 foot shed (compared to Robert's 8 x 12 shed).

I harvested some garlic this evening.  I got 31 heads.  And remember that HUGE one I showed you?  It's there on the end on the right side.  It's bigger in person - about the size of three "normal-sized" heads of garlic.
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I'm very glad I've had this vacation time.  I needed the break.  I feel caught up on my sleep, finished 2-1/2 books (3 by tomorrow morning), went to LeakyCon (seriously, I must find a way to go next year or maybe the year after), met some awesome people and did get some chores done around the house and garden so I feel productive too.  I think I'm ready to go back to work.

04 July 2013

More LeakyCon

The rest of the first day (and the second, third, and fourth days) was packed and exhausting.  Sooo much awesomeness that I just cannot write about it all.  We'd get up, get to the convention center and then go to as many lecture sessions/classes/group discussions/meetups as we could fit, then stumble home to crash and then get up and do it again the next day.

Carus posed with as many costumed people as possible.  The opening ceremony was brilliantly written, performed, and funny.  I took video of the final number of the opening ceremony.  Again, the quality of my video skills is lacking and it's also crooked (didn't look crooked when I was filming) but hey, I have video.  See it here.  (They uploaded a MUCH better quality video, here.)

We met up with friends (me, Carus, Bethany, and Jen)
Post 5K 7dayers meetup. #LeakyCon #latergram

Met the author of Eleanor and Park, an awesome book (and was too starstruck to ask for a picture or autograph, but did get this button).
Gotbutton bling from an awesome author. Next, want an autograph from her. #LeakyCon #latergram

Got more button bling.  Fangirl is Rainbow Rowell's third book that I'm excitedly waiting for the release of, as well as a Hufflepuff pin and Doctor Who 10 and a Doctor Who 11 "Bow Ties are Cool" pins.
More button bling. #Fangirl #LeakyCon #latergram

We met another awesome person, a friend of Bethany's, and posed with Vladimir Snape (I told you about him yesterday). And then went to more discussions/sessions/etc.
@Vladimirsnape #LeakyCon #latergram

Carus and I were part of the attempt to break the World Record of most people in one room wearing fake moustaches.  Prelim numbers were that 2,225 people participating and that breaks the previous number of 1500.
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Carus playing Quidditch.  She played two rounds - one where she was a chaser (the one that throws the ball through the hoops) and one where she was the seeker (who catches the snitch) and she caught the snitch (and I got it on video, which is here).  (Rules/how to play the game can be found here with the International Quidditch Association ("Yes, that's a thing.  No, we cannot fly. Yet."))
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I'll continue uploading pictures (I'm about halfway through now) to this set on Flickr. And here is the slideshow:

Anyone want to sponsor me going to LeakyCon next year?  It's in Orlando, FL and I would LOVE to go! I might even take the rest of the family along.  You know, if they're nice.

02 July 2013


Oh, my.  Where to start?!

The conference kicked off with a 5K run/walk.  Carus and I participated, and walked it.  A friend with a distance tracking app on her phone said it was actually more like a 6K.  It was hot and muggy and I twisted my ankle halfway through (and continued to walk on it - a lot - for 4 days, which was probably not a good idea, but I wasn't missing anything I didn't have to miss).  Everyone we met were extremely friendly and kind.  There were amazing costumes and dedicated cosplayers.

Near the end of the 5K 6K, when we were hot and sweaty (did I mention how muggy it was Thursday; like 90% humidity) and ready to be done we came across a few dementors.  They were there to encourage us rather than suck out the energy; though it was a little disappointing they didn't provide a few cold spots.

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Carus, being awesome on the walk with me.

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I didn't know Portland had a Lover's Bridge (like Paris's Lover's Bridge).  Pretty cool if you ask me.
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Fittie 5K slideshow:

These images can be seen on Flickr.  More LeakyCon photos on Flickr, here.

Last days of 7days

Dude, the LeakyCon conference was amazing AH.MAZ.ING. and crazy and busy and exhausting and exhilarating and the absolute greatest. I'm going to work on getting caught up with posts this week and show as many photos as possible. I'm so glad I have this second half of vacation to recover from my first half.

Day 5

me - I made snitch ornaments and boxed a few up for my friends that were coming up for LeakyCon.
177:365 7days5  Snitch ornaments

Carus - her nails all done up for LeakyCon.
7 day day 5

Day 6

me - Got home after a very long first day at LeakyCon and Robert gave me my birthday present cause he sucks at waiting for the actual day. I'm okay with this, mostly. (I get presents early so yay, but don't get presents on my birthday so boo.)
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Carus -  Carus meeting Professor Snape (Vladimir Snape) for the first time of the weekend.  (Not Alan Rickman, who plays Snape in the movies, but a rather convincing doppelganger and good Snape impersonator.)
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Day 7

me - Oops, I blinked.
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Photo the result of me screwing around after drinking most of my birthday drink, a blue Hawaiian. (No, I was not drunk, or even tipsy. I was feeling good and happy and goofy.)
Blue Hawaiian, my birthday drink.

Carus - Seen at LeakyCon.  Those people are AWESOME! There were a few of these post-its of "Peeves wuz here" posted throughout the convention center where the conference was held.  Some of the other signs posted around (some for Sherlock and some for Doctor Who) were just as awesome. You'll see those later.*
"Peeves wuz here" #LeakyCon #latergram Carus 7days 7

*If you can't wait for me to get LeakyCon posts up, check out the set on Flickr

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