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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Goals

I shared with you back at the beginning of January that I was honoring Amber at the Starfish Blog by making a big resolution for each month this year.  I also made myself a list of goals for each month as well, and they're listed and crossed off on the side bar of my blog.

Spring Clean the Entire House

My January resolution was to spring clean the entire house.  Clean out cobwebs, wipe down baseboards, vacuum under furniture, weed out, give away, straighten, and re-organize each and every interior room in the house.  I did it.  There were many, many trips to Goodwill.

And lots of opportunities to give items to people who would use them and appreciate them.
I bought Thomas a Hawaiian shirt at Goodwill this summer and saw an old winter-y wreath that I had donated.  I saw a lady looking at it and when I went to check out, I saw her at another check out counter purchasing it for $2.  Love that.
I didn't overtax the 3 boys in the house this year in my Spring Clean mode - but David was a big help in cleaning out storage closets, and the boys helped with their rooms and playroom.

I've shared all the details on how I thoroughly Spring Clean the house in these posts - 2011, 2010, here, and here.
I still tackle a room/day using my calendar approach to keeping the house from descending into madness.  I explained that process in this post.  To this day that is one of the most commonly Googled topics that brings people to my blog.

This year was not nearly as tough to spring clean as years past. 
I'm sure it's because I'm doing a little each month on each room, which makes "Spring" Cleaning sooo much easier.

Done - now I can look forward to February with a new list of goals and a new Monthly Resolution.

Add New Classes/Workouts to My Fitness Schedule
Looking forward to tackling this one next month.
Happy February!  My birthday month and one month closer to Spring Break!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Downton Abbey Clip, Great Weekend, and This Just Pinned

I love Downton Abbey!
Here's a great clip of Dame Maggie Smith (Professor MacGonagall!) as the Dowager Countess. 

If you're reading this in email or a Reader, you may have to click on the blog link to go to the website.

 I'm two rooms away from finishing my Spring Cleaning!  I'm so anxious to finish up but these two rooms require Thomas and he's super busy.  I need to get a couple of hours with him to finish up!

Random Pins (from Pinterest) this last week or so....

I want this puppy sooooo badly...

I'd love to make something like this...

I'm totally making these for the boys on Groundhog Day

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Brennan's 10th Birthday

As we left Brennan's birthday party yesterday he said "Well, that's that.  I'm 10."
Yes, he is officially 10 now.

I'd like you to notice how many days he's wearing this same light blue Swim Meet t-shirt.
I swear he has a closet full of clothes.

Brennan announced a couple of weeks before Christmas that he wanted a 3DS for Christmas.
My shopping was long done so we explained that if he wanted to go in with us on this gift, we'd get it for him for his birthday. 
Within 2 weeks he had earned $90 and handed it over so we could go shopping.
I surprised him that night with the 3DS we'd put aside.  Birthday came early.

Day 1 - swim shirt

Brennan's actual birthday morning (Day 2)

On his big day I happened to be scheduled to be at school, leading a literature circle in his class.
His classmates were so good to him. It's a really good group of kids and they are very protective and loving towards Brennan.

Many of the kids made him homemade birthday cards, including this great big one of Kirby (one of his favorite Nintendo characters).  He was so touched.  He told everyone who called that evening that he received "practically billions of cards from his friends".  It really meant a lot.

He opened his family presents that night and the family went to Johnny Carino's for Italian (Brennan's favorite).

Mario poster from Thomas.

A couple of days later Brennan received a camera from Grandma and Grandpa and he was sooo excited!  (So was Thomas apparently)

Almost as fun was the bubble wrap it came in.

For his party, Brennan chose to go to the skating rink.
It ended up being a great place to have a party.
We invited his friends and his class.  We had a lot of fun.

Day 3

The skating rink brought back lots of great memories.
They even did a couples skate, a backwards only skate, the cha-cha slide, and the limbo!

We really struggle with the "no gifts" policy.
I put a note in each invitation that gifts were not necessary and we just hoped the friend could come to the party.

But, as you see, not a single person followed that suggestion.

I think it's partly because kids love to give gifts, and they love to see what the birthday kid receives.
But really, how do you stop the madness?

A great group of kids. 
Thanks for celebrating Brennan's big day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Final Lightscoop Post

Last Lightscoop post, I promise. 
You can read more about this DSLR add-on in these two posts here and here.

As I was taking Brennan's birthday photo today in our foyer with low light, I was struck by the difference the Light Scoop made.

On Manual (per instructions) with Lightscoop

Manual with no flash (the way I normally take low light photos)

Automatic with flash (the way most people take indoor photos)

I think this might be the best series I've taken in all 3 ways that shows the difference between the 3 normal settings.  I certainly feel better about taking indoor low-light photos now with the Lightscoop.

Again, I have been compensated in no way for my multiple Lightscoop posts.  All opinions are mine.

Double Digits!

Happy 10th birthday to our tree-hugger 10 year old!

(Taken in California in July 2010)

Brennan wakes up cheerful and talkative each morning.
He is really funny with his dry humor.

A year ago I had a wart on my finger that I was trying to get off.
He made this post-it note and would stick it on my back when I wasn't looking.
It would then wind up in his backpack or in his bed so he found it at funny times.
I would then find it stuck on our bedroom door or in my purse.

The wart is long-gone by the way.

Brennan loves math, economics, anything Nintendo or Mario related, environmental awareness, music, and is trying to learn Japanese (so he can go to Japan and work for Nintendo one day of course).

He's about 75 lbs and 4'7".

And a big happy birthday to his cousin Natalie who celebrates her 8th birthday today!
It's so much fun having Birthday Cousins!

Happy Birthday, Brennan!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lightscoop Love pt.2

Awhile back I shared that I got a Lightscoop for my Nikon for Christmas.  I've been playing with it and am finding that it makes a huge difference - especially with indoor, low-light photo ops.

I was waiting for one of our Wine Club nights to play with it because usually those photos don't turn out well.  Here are some examples. 

In each case the Lightscoop photo is on the left and regular no flash is on the middle and right.

The middle and right ones are really yellow-y, and the closer up I took these photos, the grainier they got.  But the one on the left was super crisp and had truer colors.

Again, the Lightscoop photo on the left is crisper, and has truer colors than the other two.

And even with lower light - the one on the left is a better representation of true skin color and less yellow-y.

When cooking the last month I took several samples of
Left - Lightscoop
Middle - No flash
Right - Flash

The one on the left is crisper and has fewer blow-out issues.

The one on the left with Lightscoop is quite bright but it seems to have truer colors.

The middle one is too dark (no flash) but the one on the right with the flash blows out the white.

The Lightscoop one on the left is the truest colors - it's amazing how different the cutting board looks in each photo!

My examples may not offer the best evidence, but I feel like I've got a much better handle on how to take better indoor photos.  I'm crossing this off my January goals list!

Connoisseurs - Chardonnays

Our sweet friends, Roger and Jan, opened their home for our Connoisseurs group this past weekend so we could sample Chardonnays.  As always with this group, we had a wonderful evening!

Jan and Roger set out quite the spread.  I love party food!  Everything was just delicious.

Here's just a small sampling of the great food...

And the great people...

We set up to start the sampling.

We had ten Chardonnays to sample - both unoaked and "oaked".

And the winners were...

#1 - Cakebread Cellars 2010
#2 - Kim Crawford Unoaked 2006
#3 - Simi 2009

Our hosts were the big winners so they presented the second and third place winners with gifts.

I don't usually drink white wines but was surprised with the Chardonnays. 
There were 3 or 4 from this group that I liked - especially #1 above. 

It was really great to get together and try some new wines with a great group of people.