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Candle in the Night

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quarterly Top 5

I found this blog link-up while browsing and the linky finally opened today!  I've been super excited about it, I even put it on my calendar to remind myself to do it.  Basically, each quarter of the year, you get to pick your top five favorite photos of your kids (or pets) and post them on your blog.  Then, you link up at Amber's Articles and are entered for a chance to win some great prizes.  I don't so much care about the prizes, I was more excited about going through all my pictures and finding my five favorites!  It took some time, but I found about twelve favorites and then narrowed it down from there.  I hope you enjoy the photos and the stories that go with each!

This was taken the day before H's first birthday party.  I blew up 100 balloons for the occasion and at one point, they were all in the living room on the floor.  H loved it!  She carried them around and played with them.  I love this expression of pure glee!  

H thoroughly enjoyed her cake that her Aunt S made for her for her first birthday.  She started out carefully eating the icing flowers off the top, but with a little help, dug in and was eating it by the fist full!  
H LOVES her cousin.  I think if we would let her, she would hug and kiss him all day long!  Luckily, he's a tough little guy and can take it.  

There really is no story behind this picture.  I just love that stinky little smile!  She looks so grown up and darling and this is definitely one of my five favorites.  

H loves to be outside!  She loves walks, playing in the hose, playing in the dirt, and just being out there.  I just love how this picture shows that.  There is so much to see outside that I rarely catch her looking at the camera, but that's okay.  Some of the best pictures are ones where she's just doing what she does!  

If you'd like to participate in the Quarterly Top 5, click the link below!
Amber's Articles

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Beautiful Little Family...

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of going down to the Lake of the Ozarks with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew for the first time since he was born.  We had a great time visiting with relatives at a family reunion and when we were done, we took our traditional "Outside-the-Lake-House" photos.  We used to take them with the actual house in the background, but have since decided that the mustard yellow house was not the prettiest thing to have in the background.  Anyway, here is a before and after edited shot of my sister's beautiful little family.  I had several of these, but love this one with little E looking up at his daddy!  

This is the straight out of camera shot.

Here is the edited version.

I know many who post before and after shots just give a quick description of what they did, but I'm going to try to be a little more detailed for those of you who might be new to Photoshop.

I shot this photo in RAW on my Canon 40D.
In Photoshop Elements, I bumped up the blacks, contrast, clarity, and saturation slightly.
I opened it into editor mode and cropped it down.  
I then created two duplicate layers (Control J), and changed one to soft light and one to screen.  I lowered the opacity on both to around 30-40% and then flattened the image.  
I then created another duplicate layer, and made it a multiply layer.  
I selected the center of the with the elliptical selection tool with the feather set to 250.  I delete that selection and flattened the image again and was done!  

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flower Photography

Yesterday, I went out and took some pictures of some of the flowers in my yard.  Just want to share them with you all.  I'm linking up with some fellow photographer/bloggers with these photos too!

Linking this one up for Macro Friday.  I am not entirely experienced nor do I have great equipment for macro photography, but I love it and hope to learn more!

This one, I'm linking up for Foto Friday.  Her theme this time around was "broken" and I thought this fit well.  

I love, love, love this flower!  I can't remember the name of it right now, but I love it!  :)

I love how you can see the little yellow circle in the center in this photo so clearly.  I've always loved impatiens!   

If anyone can tell me what these little beauties are, I'll be extremely grateful!  My neighbor gave me a few of them a few years back and they've multiplied.  I'm so glad because I just LOVE them!  I think they're SO pretty!  Below is a close up of the flower.  

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Black and White Photography

I'm totally new to this blogger-linking-networking stuff, but I love to follow the link-ups and really would like to participate more.  So I'm linking up with The Long Road to China this week with some black and white photography.  I am taking one of my favorite pictures and showing several different ways to make it "black and white".  Let me know which way is your favorite!

Here is the original picture.

I love this picture.  This little guy fell asleep during the photography session and was just so peaceful!  

Basic Black and White
This is just plain old black and white...nothing special.  
Light Black and White
This is a lightened version.  One of my favorites to use for babies.  

High Contrast Black and White
Another one of my favorites.  Especially for weddings, seniors, and landscapes.
Okay, so it's not exactly black and white, but I love it!  It's an old fashioned look
without being the typical black and white.  

Another not quite black and white.  Another one of my favorites!

Color Splash
I selected everything except for his outfit and turned it to black and white.
Makes for a fun photo!  
I think for this particular photo, I think the light black and white is my favorite.  What's yours?  


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rice Recipes

Well, one of the things on my list of 101 things to do is to find five new rice recipes.  Rice is cheap and filling and fairly healthy.  So yesterday, I went on a search for my first one.  I didn't really want anything with meat in it or anything that would be too heavy on the stomach because Brian and I really weren't feeling too well.  I searched and mixed and matched a few things.  What I ended up with was perfect!

Broccoli and Cheese with Rice
1 pkg frozen broccoli
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cook broccoli according to package instructions.  Drain.  Return to pan.
2.  Add soup and milk and mix until smooth.
3.  Mix in rice.
4.  Add cheese and stir just until melted throughout and serve!

Quick, easy, and delicious!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Becoming Selfless

This past Friday night, my husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary.  We left H with my parents, went out to eat, came home and relaxed for a while, went for a walk at McCoy Park, got ice cream, and played games.  Then we went to bed and slept with the knowledge that we could sleep as long as our hearts desired without being awakened by the cry of a baby.  Brian slept a little later than normal, but I was peacefully asleep until 8:30...MUCH later than normal!  I got up, dawdled around the house, took a nice, long shower, dried my hair, and made breakfast.  It really reminded me of Saturday mornings before H arrived.

H playing with her grandpa on her first overnight.

Then I started thinking about how my life has really changed in the last ten years or so.  Ten years ago, I was sixteen.  Still under my parent's authority, still living at home, still doing chores.  I thought I was independent, but I wasn't anywhere near.  I thought mostly of myself and it was that way through the first couple years of college.  I tried to do whatever I pleased while still making my parents happy, after all, I was living under their roof and they were paying for my college, car, gas, insurance, etc.  I should at least try to keep them happy.  There were times when I really did care, but mostly, I was a pretty selfish person.

Fast forward to the time I was twenty.  I went away to college.  At this point, my parents were still paying for everything, but I had gained such an appreciation for them.  I don't know what changed exactly except that I spent a lot of time growing up.  My relationships during that time helped me grow up and appreciate the wisdom of my parents.  I think more importantly, I learned to fully trust God with my future and rely on Him for all my needs.  Although I was more independent at this point, being able to stay out late, and get into all manner of mischief, I did not.  I had a respect for my parents, but beyond that, I had a respect for God and didn't want to experience the typical college life.  During my two years away at college, I continued to grow up.  I spent a lot of time in the scriptures and a lot of time growing with my church friends in understanding.  I did have a lot of fun in college, after all, many times, classes didn't start until noon, so we would stay up playing games until two in the morning and once in a while make a run off campus for smoothies around midnight.  But that is as out of control as my college years got.  I'm proud of the choices I made then, but I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that I still didn't really have any responsibilities.  Although I cared deeply for my family, I really didn't have anyone to worry about other than myself.

Two years later, at twenty-two, I was married.  I was ready to get married, so the responsibility of being a wife was not a shock to me and I loved it!  All of a sudden, there was someone else to think about all the time.  Someone else to consider when making plans and going about daily life.  It was quite a change, but since I had prepared myself, it was a welcome one.  There were now two people to consider.  Brian and I really enjoyed our first three years of marriage.  We went out, watched movies, played games, and just spent a lot of time together quite often.

After those three years, H made her arrival and boy did things change then!  Not only was there another person in the house, that person set her own agenda and there was no arguing!  Mealtimes, outings, bedtimes, everything revolved around her.  After a time, she did get on a schedule, but life still revolves around that schedule.  We try to be home, or at least headed home, early enough in the evening that it doesn't totally throw off bedtime.  If she's hungry, we drop everything and eat.  I schedule my daily activities around her naps.  And you know what?  I love it!  I love being a mom.  I feel like I'm so much better a person now that I so rarely think about myself.

Through the years, God has been teaching me to love without limits.  I'm able to put my whole self into raising this little child because He has prepared me every step of the way.  It was so nice to have a morning off, and sometimes I complain about the time H takes, but I wouldn't go back to life before H even if I had EVERY morning off!  Children are such a blessing.  They teach us so many things and what I realized Friday night that I've learned is selflessness.  Being selfless instead of selfish.  And what blessings we receive through the learning of that lesson!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sugar and Spice: Pumpkin Muffins

I have decided I would really like to blog more about the things I make.  As in...FOOD!!  :)  Today, I am making pumpkin muffins.  This is my sister's recipe that she adapted from a recipe she had.  This time around, I mildly adapted the same recipe due to the fact that I had no baking chips (chocolate, butterscotch, or otherwise).  What I did have was a semi-sweet chocolate baking bar.  I thought I'd just put it in the magic bullet and chop it into pieces.  What I ended up with was more like a fine powder with some chip-sized chunks.  I must say, they taste amazing.  I'm thinking it can't be a bad thing to have powdered chocolate floating throughout the muffins!

Here's the finished product...

Pumpkin Muffins

2 (15 oz) cans pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 c white sugar
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground ginger
chocolate chips (or cinnamon, peanut butter, butterscotch or anything other kind of chips!)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tins.  (you can also make bread in which case you would grease and flour three 7"x3" loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, egg, oil, and sugar until well blended.  (if you're going for the effect I had with the powdered chocolate, add it in to this mixture too!)  In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  Stir the dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until just blended.  Pour into muffin tins.

3. Bake 25-30 minutes (50 minutes for loaves) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Pretty muffin hint:  Use an ice cream scoop to fill your muffin tins.  This way, they all come out even and you don't have drips all over the tins.  I saw this on a morning news show where they were showcasing one of those cupcake companies and it seemed to work for me!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pregnancy Dreams

I've heard that you can have really strange dreams while pregnant.  I don't remember having them with H, but I'm sure having them with M!  Thought some of you might enjoy them.  :)

Strange Dream #1:
I'm at a HUGE garage sale.  It's the size of a large consignment sale, but is put on by one of my mom's homeschool friends.  Brian is with me and so are Mom and Michael.  Several things happened at the garage sale, but the really strange thing happened as we were leaving.  Michael had already gone outside and as we came out, we saw him walking down the road.  Follow by a truck.  Pulling a trailer.  With a GIANT BURRITO on it!!  It was a massive shell with a mountain of beans, rice and cheese.  This thing was the size of a house!  Crazy!!

Strange Dream #2:
I'm in labor with M.  We don't have time to go to the hospital, so we decide to call a midwife.  She comes to our home where we are going to have the baby.  This is all fine and good except that then, we go TO THE BASEMENT to have our baby!  If you haven't seen our basement, it's not an ideal (or clean) place to give birth!  I laid down on the floor and had the baby.
Then later, M was hungry, so I pulled out a jar of baby food and gave it to her.  She ate it just fine!  I realized I should probably be nursing her, but she liked the baby food, so we just kept doing that!  :)

I may add to these later, but those are my two fun dreams to share today!

Strange Dream #3:
Okay, so two nights ago, I had the strangest dream yet.  The details are a little gross, so I won't go into them.  I'm sure you can imagine.  In the dream, I was at a shower and was receiving a big box of diapers.  But instead of just giving them to me, they were being put IN MY BELLY!  It was very painful in the dream to have that big box of diapers in there along with the baby.  I was squirming and moaning.  I woke up and guess what?  I was in the middle of a terrible Braxton Hicks contraction.  It was hard at that point to relax and get through the contraction without pain, but it finally subsided.  Over the next hour, I had several other BH contractions, but I was awake for them, so they weren't as bad.  I must confess though that I was pretty scared to go back to sleep because I didn't want to be tensed up for another contraction and have it hurt that bad!  I think that is how I'll describe how my BH contractions feel from now on.  Like a box of diapers being shoved in your belly!

Strange Dream #4:
Last night, I had the best dream yet!  I was back at my old high school for some kind of event.  Ironically, I think it was a health fair or something like that.  But one of the teachers was serving snacks.  I don't know how my mind came up with this wonderful snack, but it did.  In my dream, I ate about five of them and now I want one for real!  This was a layered treat, kind of like s'mores.  

Here are the layers from the bottom to the top.  Chocolate graham cracker, brownie (the brownie layers were thin like they were either made in a large pan or cut in half), peanut butter, chocolate graham cracker, chocolate icing, brownie, and chocolate graham cracker.  Mmmmmm...

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

101 Things To Do In 1001 Days

This has probably been the hardest blog to write and the one I've worked on the longest.  For about 8 months, I've had a file on my computer called 101 Things To Do In 1001 Days.  I have been adding things to it and taking things off (like starting on another baby...done!) during that time and have FINALLY completed my list!  I'm really excited about this because it gives me some goals, some motivation, and puts some pressure on me to do things that I want to do!  These are in no particular order and I do hope to blog about each as they are completed.  So without further adieu, my list of 101 Things To Do In 1001 Days!

Go camping with the girls.
Visit at least three Independence historical sites. (0/3)
Take H fishing.
Visit Jamesport.
Compile our genealogy (within reason).
Go to the Zoo.
Go to five state parks. (0/5)
Go to a different park five days out of a week. (0/5)
Go ice skating.
Go to a pumpkin patch and/or corn maze.
Visit a museum.
Make a list of 25 free things to do in the KC area and do them (some may already be included here).
Get a new (or new to us) couch.
Go on a vacation with friends.
Go to Burr Oaks Nature Park.
Go to a musical or play.
Read a book by a different author every two months for a year. (0/6)
Teach Ellie 5 new tricks. (0/5)
Learn to play five hymns on the piano well. (0/5)
Tutor an elementary student.
Learn to change a car tire.
Don’t complain about anything for a week.
Get a massage.
Stop biting my nails.
Get a pedicure at least once a year.
Learn to shoot a gun.
Visit a flea market.
Get a perm.
Get contacts.
Put away $5 for every goal completed.
Use the money saved to do something super fun!
Complete Project 365.
Do a photography project to add to my portfolio.
Take pictures of a couple on the plaza.
Take pictures of some of Independence’s attractions.
Take a photography class (online, in person, or through videos) and use the skills I learn to shoot a session.
Go to a neighborhood meeting and get involved.
Get to know two of my neighbors. (0/2)
Send out Christmas cards.
Take flowers to someone who needs cheering up.
Write and send seven postcards. (0/7)
Spiritual/Getting Involved
Read scripture daily.
Participate in a pro-life activity at an abortion clinic.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank.
Volunteer at a pregnancy crisis center or for Missouri Right to Life.
Memorize five new scriptures. (0/5)
Identify 100 things I’m thankful for.
Be active in a political campaign.
Health and Fitness
Take a nap every day for a week.
Give up fast food for a month.
Exercise daily for two weeks.
Get a free trial at a gym and use it.
Take a one month photojournal of H.
Take a one month photojournal of M.
Start a continual scrapbook for both girls.
Make a H's First Year scrapbook.
Make a M's First Year scrapbook. 
Take H to Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.
Take the girls to Kaleidoscope.
Write an ABC book for H and M.
Make a quiet book for the girls to use at church.
Make room darkening curtains for H's and M's   rooms. 
Make H a pillowcase dress.
Paint and hang M's name letters.
Food and Cooking
Try a new recipe each month for a year.
Go to a farmer’s market.
Eat according to the Word of Wisdom for two weeks (and possibly beyond).
Make two different kinds of good ice cream in the summer.
Learn to can fruits and veggies.
Make a strawberry pie.
Learn to make five new meals that include rice.
Use the fondue pot.
Eat at Fritz’s.
Crafts, Sewing, and Projects
Learn to knit.
Finish crocheting a blanket.
Finish my wedding scrapbook.
Sew at least one article of clothing for each member of my family. 
Sand and re-finish the kitchen table (or get a new table)
Finish the cedar chest.
Paint three paintings.
Complete three crochet projects besides the blanket.
Write a children’s book.
Make my own laundry detergent.
Grow a veggie garden.
Plant seeds in pots and take care of them so they grow.
Make the raised garden beds self-sustaining. 
Figure out and fix the hill.
Plant a tree.
Get ALL the poison ivy out of our yard for good!
Learn how to trim the apple tree (and get Brian to do it).
Clear out the fence between us and our neighbors.
Successfully keep a house plant alive.
Have more plants growing successfully in pots so they can move with me.
Plant blueberries.
Grow pansies.
Organize my craft studio in the basement.
Get all the stuff stored in the basement organized and labeled in totes.