Wednesday, December 31, 2008

251:365 Last post of 2008 is a mystery

Anna: Happy New Year to everyone. I wish you all the best in 2009, and a fun filled celebration ringing it in.

For the last photo posted in 2008, I was inspired to make it a mystery photo.

Can you guess what this is?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

250:365 - Frosty window

Philippe: So the window was frozen shut this morning.. Only one thing to do :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

249:365 Making up for lost time - a bit

Anna: I hope that everyone had a really great Christmas. :-)

We haven't been taking a lot of pictures lately, so I wanted to make up for lost time with a few extra photos while the girls and I were at the museum today. Except that my battery died part way through. The camera had been left on the last time someone handled it, but I can't remember the last time it had been handled that's less than4 days ago. *L* Ah, well.

Full size photos available for viewing here.

It's really dark, but I like this shot. This is part of an antelope sculpture near the admissions desk.

I'm still learning how to use the various settings on the D70. I do wish we were allowed to bring in at least a monopod. It does make the challenge more interesting. I think this is one of the better shots I managed to get of this Barite, Chalcopyrite (from Dreislar, Germany) that I've managed to get.

I adore fine craftsmanship, and the Aboriginal Culture area has some amazing samples, like this silk embroidery on a hide cap. I just can't imagine doing such intricate work on hides!

Beautiful work.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

248:365 Merry Christmas

click on photo for full size

Anna: I don't expect we'll be posting anything for the next few days. We start our celebrating tomorrow night with Wigilia (well, a modified version of it... the menu is quite different).

Until then, I wish you all a fantastic Christmas or Hanukkah, and a healthy, happy and prosperous year in 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

247:365 So teenie...

Anna: So cute! So tiny! So... gone!

Not the greatest picture, but I just had to get a photo of the very last one of these. I'd picked up a little box of Mini Honey Manderin Oranges to try.

They went over very well. My elder daughter, thoughtful sweetheart that she is, saved the very last one for me. Plus, she saved the only one that had a leaf.

I took a photo of it next to the chestnut for size reference.

Then I ate it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

246:365 NOM-NOM-NOM

Anna: This weekend we made our Christmas tourtierre - a dozen of them. We cooked 12 pounds of meats for the filling last night, then did the pastry and assembled them today. It's a big job made easy, with lots of help from the girls. Even a friend of my daughter's helped out with the filling, yesterday.

Of course, once the first batch was cool enough, we had to try them out! It's the first time we've made them using boar meat in the blend.

They are a rousing success.

About these missed days...

Anna: Although we haven't been posting lately, I have been taking pictures - honest!

They're just being posted over here, instead.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

245:365 Gift basket and... it's a bit chilly out there.

Anna: I was about to put together a gift basket for some friends, busily taking off labels and price tags, when Harley decided to investigate.

No, Harley, it's not a new bed for you.

It's a bit chilly here right now. This is a screen capture from the Environment Canada Weather Office website.

For those of you in the US, the temperature is -13F with a wind chill of -33F.

It's actually warmed up a bit. It was -30C (-22F) with a windchill of up to -41C (-42F) this afternoon.

A good time to stay inside, working on my decorations. I'll be posting the newest stuff on Get Crafting when I'm done here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

244:365 - New additions

Philippe: We've got new toys.. I can't even call them Christmas presents since I got them strictly so I could photograph them :P

Monday, December 8, 2008

243:365 Double duty

Anna: We ended up at the museum again today - and left late enough that Philippe was even able to join us. A few of the photos today are here.

One of our favorite areas is The Bug Room. This is a Macleay's Spectre Stick.

We also had another pass through the temporary exhibit, Heights of Fashion; History of the Elevated Foot. This shoe with the filagree heel is one of my favorites.

Taking photos at the museum is a challenge. No tripods allowed. Most exhibits don't allow flash, which I wouldn't use at the museum anyhow. Even the areas that do allow flash don't allow external flash.

I had the macro lens on today, which is a notorious light hog to start with. I had the ISO at 500, but I don't like how grainy the photos get. I also played around with the various settings to try and compensate. A lot of the photos didn't turn out, and even the ones that did were quite dark. I played around with the curves to lighten all of them. I did a noise reduction on the stick bug, but not any of the others. I may not like the noise, but I like the faked out smoothness a noise reduction resulted in even less.

One of these days, I'll figure it out.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

242:365 Rally for Canada

Anna: My elder daughter and I joined over 500 people from all political stripes at our local Rally for Canada. Aside from 2 people with signs counter-protesting, this was a rally in support or our elected government and against a coalition attempting to unseat our PM. This past Thursday, there was a pro-coalition rally at this location that drew a reported 300 people, while a student lead pro-federal government rally of about 200 people was held in another part of the city.

(I've made my first attempt to upload video to flickr with the rest of today's photos. Actually, the second one is still uploading as I write this. They'll be here, when it's done.)

If nothing else, these political shenanigans are getting people involved who've never been political active before. Interestingly, current polls show that if an election were held right now, our current government would win with a record majority vote of 46%, while 61% say that they think our current government, with our current PM, is the best to lead our country right now. It seems to me the coalition attempt has alienated a LOT of people. I imagine, whenever our next election is held, we'll have a much greater than 59.1% voter turn out!

Note to visitors from outside Canada: We don't vote directly for our PM. We vote for representatives in our ridings, and currently there are 5 parties eligable at the federal level, though one is only in Quebec. The party that has the most elected representatives, out of a total of 308, wins the election. The leader of that party becomes PM. Our PM wears three hats - s/he is an MP, plus leader of their party (elected as party leader by registered members of that party), and finally, Prime Minister. The only people who get to vote directly for the PM - as their Member of Parliament - are those that live in his/her riding. Our PM has a riding in Calgary, where a reported 2000 - 3000 people showed up for their Rally for Canada.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

241:365 The gift of cuteness

Anna: Now that the tree is up, we've made the effort to train Harley not to attack the decorations (Tiger is already well trained).

Going under the tree and being all cute and stuff, on the other hand, is perfectly acceptable. :-D

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

240:365 This one's alive...

Anna: My elder daughter and I headed to the Royal Alberta Museum today. While going through some of the dioramas of local wildlife, I completely missed that this one was slightly different.

It was alive. It was so still, I thought at first that it was another display.

There was another snake nearby, but it was hidden in a little cubbyhole.

There was also a new temporary display that allowed photos called Height of Fashion, featuring shoes, particularly high heels, though they did have a couple of flats on display. I was able to get a few acceptable shots, which I put up here.

All of the photos I took today had to have a fair amount of adjusting. The museum doesn't allow tripods or monopods. I increased my ISO to 500, but I didn't want to go any higher, as I dislike the noise levels at higher ISO's. So they all needed to be brightened quite a bit, and I did a noise reduction on a few as well.

Monday, December 1, 2008

239:365 LED

Anna: We're about to head out for a potluck park day, but I wanted to post this before we left. After several days of an empty tree and a spray bottle to train the kitten to stay away, we finally put on the lights. I couldn't resist playing with the shutter priority.

I find it interesting that the camera picks up the flicker of LED lights.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

238:365 Light in motion

Anna: Philippe and I worked together to get some light and motion shots. Some turned out rather well. :-)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

237:365 Polychaete

Anna: I'm in the process of getting photos ready for the craft blog, and this is one of them. I finished the garland I was making at about 3am. I curled it up and stuck it in the tree (which is still undecorated as we train the kitten to stay away from it) for the girls to find in the morning.

When I got up this morning, I found it like this. My elder daughter thought it looked like a polychaete (poly-keet) worm of some sort. So she stuck on buttons for eyes and some ribbon for a tongue.

Not that polychaete have recognizable eyes or tongues.

I love my girls' sense of humour.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

236:365 up to 20% free

Anna: The girls and I were at the Italian grocery store again today, and we stumbled upon these.

Transilvania Puffs.

up to 20% free, it says. Free of what, it doesn't say at all...

Lightly Salted
No Preservatives

Not Fried. Low Fat.

And no flavour. LOL

They look like packing foam. When my elder daughter was about 3 years old, a company we dealt with switched to "environmentally friendly" packing foam made of wheat. Just wheat. No other ingredients. They looked kinda like this, except pale golden brown instead of yellow. When I opened the box with our order, the wheat smell wafted out, making the whole house smell like bread.

This stuff has no smell that I can determine.

The box with the wheat packing foam came with a slip of paper explaining the change and going on about how this stuff was so much better for the environment, and that it was even edible. Which was good, since I soon found my 3 yr old daughter sitting in the middle of it, gleefully eating them by the handful. They actually tasted quite good.

This stuff ... doesn't. Taste, that is. It has no taste. It's like eating air.

The ingredients are: degerminated corn meal, canola oil, and salt.

"This product is made under very high pressure, from degerminated (fatless) yellow corn meal. Not fried. No preservatives or additives." That part is repeated in French, Polish, what might be Italian, Russian, and something that looks similar to Polish, but isn't.

The funny thing is, on the nutritional facts label, the highest percentage is for sodium (18%).

But with a name like Transilvania Puffs, I had to get it at least once! Transylvania, by the way, is supposed to be spelled with a y. Or maybe that's just in English?

No where on the package does it say where they are actually made. There's a website. I have no idea what language it's in.

Well... we can at least say that we tried it...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

235:365 It's cozy in here...

Anna: As I was putting the buttons on my daughter's coat, Harley started burrowing like crazy, wanting to get in. So I let her.

This is what I had watching me while I tried to attach the buttons. LOL

Other photos here.

I've finished the coat and will be posting photos and details on my Get Crafting blog shortly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

234:365 - Park day

Philippe: Playing with the white balance on the camera. Starting to discover that 'auto' sucks. :P

Monday, November 24, 2008

233:365 - Aperture priority vs Manual settings

Philippe: I took the camera out this morning for some basic morning shots on my way to work. I usually shoot aperture priority, but I have to say the camera lied on that setting.

At F8 with a four second exposure, I was seeing what the sky actually looked like. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

231 and 232:365 From the Top and Bilingual Teapot

Anna: I did take photos yesterday. I even uploaded them. I just never got around to posting them. I've got a bunch of new photos loaded at my flickr account, too. Here's a couple for yesterday and today.

Our apartment complex is made up of two 19 floor towers that are joined up to the 4th floor. Several floors are secure, accessible only if they're programmed onto your keycard, with a scanner in the elevators. Ours is one of the secure floors, so whenever we order in, we have to go to the lobby because the delivery person can't get to our floor. The 19th floors are penthouse suites, which are also secure floors.

So when someone from one of the penthouse suites had a garage sale this weekend, it was a rare chance to actually go onto the 19th floor and see what they looked like. (Plus, we got a sweet deal on some shelves...) The penthouse suite was really nice but, nicest of all, they let me go onto their patio facing the river to take photos. They had a larger patio on the other side too, with a hot tub and mini-putt, but the view faced downtown and wasn't as nice as this one. Beside the patio where I took this photo are bay windows in the living room (with fireplace) overlooking the river. Gorgeous.

Now for today's photo...
I've always been a tea drinker, and now my girls are, too. We use coffee mugs to drink from, because they're bigger. Which means that, with a 6 cup teapot being the biggest I could find, there was never enough tea for seconds. We'd have to boil more water for another pot.

When we were living in Richmond, BC, I'd seen a huge teapot in a specialty store that I considered buying for my parents. I didn't think I'd need one for myself! I never saw another one that large until about 2 years ago, at the Second Cup in our library branch. So when Philippe asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, I told him that that's what I wanted. He managed to buy the very last one. It's a 14 cup pot, though our kettle only fits 12 cups, so we've never actually filled it. It gets pretty much daily use. I love it!

The funny thing is that, being left handed, I never noticed that it had the word "tea" in English on the other side until I'd had it for some time. I'd just thought we had a French teapot. LOL

The mug is there to give a bit of perspective on the size, but also because it's one of my favourite mugs. I bought a pair nearly 20 years ago from a mail order company that specialized in dragon stuff. The company doesn't seem to be around anymore; at least not in the same form. The last time I looked, they sold furniture, instead. So I'm really careful not to break them, since I've no idea where I'd find any more.

Friday, November 21, 2008

230:365 More yum!

Anna: With all the running around today, stopping at the Italian grocery store was a real treat. I gave the girls a budget and told them they could buy whatever they wanted with it this time, too. Between the three of us, here are a few of the new things we picked up.

In the back on the left is a different type of squid ink pasta my elder daughter chose. The colorful pasta next to it is called gnoccini - that was a joint selection. The bottle is a type of extra virgin olive oil I hadn't tried yet, and the bowl of candies is something my younger daughter picked up, though it's one of my favorite candies. Cream Fudge (chocolate, in this case, though I actually prefer the non-chocolate version), hand made in Poland. It's hard to find, and a real luxury purchase.

In the front, starting at the left, is a glass of goat's milk. My elder daughter chose that and she likes it. Being lactose intolerant, this is a milk she can actually drink, I think. The tea in the POM glass is sweetened with the honey from the jar next to it - another choice from my elder daughter. She loves her tea, especially sweetened with honey. This honey, however, includes a piece of honeycomb. It has a very different flavour. Intense, yet somehow mild, and not as overwhelmingly sweet as other honeys. The Tres Stella cheese is a lovely, mild semi-soft cheese with a texture like mozarella. And finally, the black olive pate, which is a brand we haven't tried yet.

Here's a closer look at the honey. Very nice!

Since I didn't have time to cook supper, but had plenty of ham left over from yesterday, I'm currently enjoying one of the best ham and cheese sandwiches I've ever eaten.

Gosh, I love this little grocery store.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

229:365 Mystery photo - golden beads

Anna: Philippe took this one and I just had to post it as a mystery pic. Click on it for full size. Can you guess what it is?

Hint: It's actually kinda gross. LOL

update: For those who were interested in seeing the finished sweater I was working on and posted photos of previously, I've now got photos up on my craft blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

228:365 - Cat-atonic

Couldn't resist :P

The cat wasn't moving, and I'm kinda house-bound today so it all worked out. P.

Monday, November 17, 2008

227:365 Clowning around

Anna: When I asked for suggestions on what to take pictures of in the light box, our younger daughter brought out her clown doll.

Is it just me, or is that a less than friendly expression on the doll's face? LOL

Sunday, November 16, 2008

226:365 Making up for missed days...

Anna: Since I didn't post for the last three days, here's three photos (though I guess I should really post four, to include today's as well. *L*)

Quick question, though - is anyone else having troubles posting photos from their flickr account onto blogger? For the past while, the photos have been showing up in the blogger text window at full size, no matter what size I select on the blogger uploader. I have to manually re-size them to make them reasonable. It doesn't happen when I uploaded directly from our computer to blogger, though. Anyone having this happen?

Anyhow... today, I built a new lightbox. Our old version got a bit too unstable after a while (it was just doweling and hockey tape). This time, I used the instructions from here.

It's a lot smaller than the old one, and I was actually able to put it on a higher serfuce. Much easier on the back!! LOL

I decided to play using the macro lens and try out different settings. This is a trinket box that belongs to my elder daughter, with the lid slightly open at the back. I took it on shutter priority and a 3 second exposure. The box was a lot darker than I expected it to be - the sides are just white paper, but it blocks the light a lot more than I thought it would.

Another item from my daughter. This is a prayer box pendant, measuring about 1/4 inch square on the sides. I've got the lid slightly propped open with the clasp. I ended up using my camera's remote to take all of these.

This is a Bhuddist meditation crystal Philippe got for me many years ago. I figured it would just disappear on the white background I was using earlier, so I put in a cloth. I had to manually focus with this, though. Auto focus just couldn't find a place to settle.

All of these can be seen in larger sizes here.

We also headed out and got photos of the downtown Bright Lights display, which you can see here. The main display is in a park. When I get photos of those, I'll be adding them to the same set.

Philippe: Single subject, though three shots this time; playing with white balance.. Since I can't get the ##^$! script to work, the temps are 2500k, 4000k and auto-white balance.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

225:365 - eye

Just not sure what to say to this one.. The iris is just this side of gross for detail-level :P

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

224:365 Lest We Forget

Anna: After the official ceremonies were done downtown, we headed over to the memorial in front of City Hall. The wreaths laid during the ceremonies were already cleared away, leaving only small, personal mementos like this one.

During our time in the area, we saw a steady stream of people going by. Most stopped for at least a few moments, looking at the monument. Others stayed for several minutes. Pretty much everyone took off their poppies and left them at the base.

More photos, including our first real snowfall this year, are here. The snow is already melting away, dampening the mementos and poppies.

Philippe: While we were taking pics, two kids came over and acquired poppies for themselves; they then proceeded to pick up the poppies that had fallen onto the ground and putting them back on to the monument.

Monday, November 10, 2008

223:365 So close!

Anna: We were at the park today and saw a whole family of muskrats swimming around in the lake. I was standing right at the concrete edge when this one came over and settled on a rock, right at my feet!

So cute and fun to watch.

You can see more of today's photos here.

Philippe.... 1 cloudy day + 1 cold butt from sitting and waiting = :