I think I am...

Well it's that time of year again. That time of year when we all take a step back, a deep breath, and a good look at ourselves and what we've accomplished over the last year. Right?

So, in the spirit of the season, here are some things I have discovered about myself this past year.

I think I am...

...a yarn snob.

A couple of years ago, when I finally picked up crocheting for real, I was perfectly happy with acrylic, novelty, and other 'cheap' yarns. I blissfully crocheted away with said yarns for more than a year, perfectly content to do my yarn shopping at Michael's or Hancock or Hobby Lobby. And then...something happened. I don't know when it happened or how it happened. I think it may have been my introduction to knitty (which I blame on Stephanie because of these), but I suddenly realized that there was a whole big yarn world out there. And I HAD to explore it. I began by making a small order from kpixie. And then I visited one of my local yarn stores (LYS). And before I knew it, I didn't want to crochet or knit with those 'cheap' yarns anymore. I had to have the super soft cottons or the pretty wools. I even spent a pretty penny on hand spun and hand dyed yarns at the Kansas City Renaissance Faire.

One issue though. Since I am first a crocheter and second a knitter, I have run into several knitters with a bias against crocheters. This bias usually manifests itself at the LYS in a situation that goes a little something like this:

Seemingly friendly knitter: "Oh hi there! Blah blah blah. So what project are you working on?"

Me: "Well, I've been trying to finish these great crocheted mittens for a friend of mine."

SFK: "Oh." *with a poorly disguised look of disgust*

Wait. What just happened there. Why did Seemingly Friendly Knitter suddenly become Bitch With Needles? Why did that one word...crochet...turn her against me? I mean, we both work with yarn to create some sort of garment or accessory, or any number of other things. They are both challenging in their own respective ways.

My theory? It's because there are far more knitters that appreciate their yarn choice just as much or even MORE than their pattern choice. For some reason, and I've said this before, crocheters seem to have the most horrid taste when it comes to yarn type and color. And here to illustrate my point, we have the following pictures:

Are there really any words for this?

Does this make my butt look big?

Can anyone tell me what this is? No, it's not a 1970's wedding cake. That, my friends, is the most hideous child's sweater known to man.
Mammas don't let your babies grow up to dress like this

Ok, I don't even know what this is. Seriously. WHAT is this thing? The mystery almost distracts from the eye-gouging color choices. It frightens me.

Ok, so the color choices aren't awful on this (to be fair it's a variegated yarn) but....why?? Is the soap dispenser cold? Maybe embarrassed to be naked? Is there something offensive on its label?
Naked Soap

And last, but certainly not least, is this little...um...beauty? I will be making one for Steph. And she will be forced to wear it. That is all.
Sexy Turkey Hat

Crocheters of the world, PLEASE STOP! You are giving the few of us that have a decent sense of style and ability to combine natural colors a bad name! Seriously. And if you can't pick good colors, please at least pick a good pattern.

I think I am...

...obsessed with Photoshop.

Yeah. I know you are all SO surprised. But I can't help it. And it's only been within the last year that I've REALLY taken the time to play with the pictures more.

What's that? You want to see some before and afters? Hmm, well, I think I can do that.


...and after.


...and after.

We now interupt these regularly scheduled Christmas Tree pictures with...

Pandora before...

Pandora after...

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Christmas Tree pictures...


...and after.

And here's a fun one.



Heh. I should have waved.

I think I am...

...addicted to technology.

It's not that I've purchased a lot of new technology this year. Just that I've wanted it. I think the only thing I've actually purchased is this:

And only cause it was on sale. Well, and cause I wanted one.

As you all know, I want one of these.

And my next big purchase will be a new one of these:

Or possibly one of these:

Of course, that being said...can it really be considered an addiction if one can't actually satisfy said 'addiction'?

I think I am...

...turning this into a REALLY long post.

Hmm. Just think. That's five minutes of your life you can't get back.

I sincerely apologize. No really.


I *HEART* Photo Posts

However, I'm not too thrilled with blogger's ability to manipulate photos within the post. It's really starting to annoy me. Attempt #2 for this post:

Meet....our Christmas Tree. No seriously, it is. Can't you see the lovely evergreen needles and the pretty ornaments. I mean, just look at those lights!

You aren't buying this are you?

Alright alright...you caught me. It's our Christmas FICUS. The tree was somehow damaged in the basement between last Christmas and this Christmas. And we certainly can't not have a Christmas Tree!

*yes, I DO realize that was a double negative up there. If the grammar police come and get me...please send cakes with files baked in the middle. And coffee.

So HERE is our Christmas Tree. It came pre-installed with lights and those cute ornaments. It's ginormous. It must be almost a foot and a half tall.

These are Jeanine's pretty birthday flowers. Do you think her birthday gets forgotten this close to Christmas? No WAY! This lady knows how to work it! As a result, we have eaten out three, count them three, times this week for lunch. Don't let her fool you, all three times were for her birthday. Would I lie?

Next is evidence of the project I've been working on for over a week. I thought I was disorganized. Twenty five years of a terribly designed key system means a TON of work for me. Ok, so maybe I'm slightly obsessive with these types of things.

What's that you say? You want to get a closer view? Well OK! I think I had a dream that looked something like this...

Ok, what else can we find?

Hey! What is that?

It looks kind of like a light fixture cover...

Yep. It's definitely a light fixture cover. What is that inside? Leaves? Let's get closer...

Wait a second. Those aren't leaves! Oh my!....it's a graveyard!

I know you're just dying to take a closer look!

*Please don't hate me for this. I really did find this fascinating.
I swear I am not doing this to torture any of you bug haters out there.
Well, not totally at least...

Woah! Would you look at that! See that little stripy moth there in the center. I thought he was pretty...

Well hello there Mr. Beetle! Or should I say...Mr. Beetle's Butt. I mean really. How rude.

Ooooh. Check out those iridescent wings!

Aren't you glad I showed all of those to you! It's ok. You can thank me later.


Who the...?

I think someone is using my pens. On the sly. I, admittedly, am a bit of a pen-aholic. And I have certain pens I like to use on a daily basis. Others sit unused on my desk for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. Three of these pens are now empty.


And on a completely unrelated note...which of the above photographs do you like better? I have an unnatural obsession for lens flares, so I'm automatically partial to the one on the left... I almost didn't post the other one because it didn't really appeal to me, but then thought I was possibly biased by the lens flare one. And what the heck do I know anyway. Yes yes, I know they're only empty ink cartridges and not very interesting...but work with me here people!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this is what a full cartridge looks like.

But back to the problem of people using my pens...maybe I have an office gnome that is related to my spoon gnome.


This was going to be my "My Thanksgiving" post...

...but it's a little late. So it's going to be more of a "here are a couple of cool photos" or "why I need a fast lens" post instead.

Hope you don't mind. And if you do, in the words of The Amazing Stephanie, "Suck it up". (yes Steph, you can have that title forever and ever)

I was very blessed this year to be welcomed by The Wonderful Kristen (I'm all about titles today) and her family for Thanksgiving this year.

Here is example #1 for "why I need a fast lens". I hate flash. Hateithateithateithateit. But notice the fuzzy focus in this picture. How disappointing! Le sigh. Anyway, this picture really captured the mood of the whole weekend. FUN!

Example #2 for "why I need a fast lens". See the motion blur? My shutter has to be so slow to get these photos! Please ignore the bad focus too. The depth of field makes focusing SO difficult! (yes, this post will be rife with excuses...get used to it!) Heh. Anyway, what you see here is the family tradition of stealing the bits of turkey while it's being carved. Watch your fingers!

So the first decent shot in this post was taken by Kristen. I was helping unload a truck bed full of wood and decided it would be SO much more fun to ride than walk! She kindly shot this picture of me laughing my butt off.

Oh how I love my zoom lens!! There are some lovely bird feeders right outside 'the conservatory' at the house. I spent almost an hour one morning photographing the birds. This little guy looked like he was just waiting for me to take his picture.

Again with the zoom lens. And I SO did NOT mess with this in Photoshop! I did not! I DID NOT!! Everyone knows that when you photograph a cardinal the background is automatically black and white.

We spent an afternoon at the Festival of Trees. Doesn't this one look like it's glowing from the inside out!?

Again at the Festival of Trees. Kristen, you're such a natural! :)

Example #4 for "why I need a fast lens". The kids were so much fun to photograph, but how frustrating is it when you figure out your focus was just that smidge off? YARG! Still a cute photo...

This last photo did not come from my Thanksgiving weekend. But I wanted to include it since I love it so much. I happened across this rainbow while leaving work the other evening. It wasn't raining...it just looked like there was enough moisture in the clouds to set this thing off. Too bad it was already fading by the time I got my camera out.


Oh...oh my goodness...

There are no words for this.


A bonfire isn't a bonfire...

...when there's no one to share it with.

This is a wonderfully blurry picture (hey, I didn't have my camera with me...only my phone) of the burn pile I spent several hours watching yesterday. Faire site needed some clean-up and what is the best way to get rid of evidence...er...trash? That's right! Burn it! But back to the blurry picture. I think it looks like lava. What do you think? Maybe if I had gotten closer, it REALLY would have looked like an erupting mountain! I couldn't get any closer though...that sucker was HOT!

Man, it was really goin' there for a while. Of course, I didn't think to take a picture of it until everyone else had moved on to different jobs and I was left watching the fire. By this point, it was almost out. I was wishing I had marshmallows.

Oh, and the giant stump there in the middle? Yeah, it's still in the ground. And boy did that thing stay solid! Apparently we're going to have to try a different removal method.


My car is so embarrassed

I was rummaging around in my glove box the other night looking for...actually, I don't remember what I was looking for. But it was quite dark and I might have been driving.

I glanced over the next morning and saw this piece of tissue hanging out. How embarrassing for my car.

Do you think the other cars are trying to signal mine that there is something hanging out of its glove box?


Regional Quirks

Ok St. Louis. I have to know. What is it with your Halloween traditions?

I went over to a friend's house last night and we sat out in the front yard with the fire pit, drank some beer, and handed out candy. But something wasn't quite right... Where I grew up the kids spent at least a month thinking about what they were going to be on Halloween and when the day came they all got dressed up, visited every house in the neighborhood, said 'trick or treat', got their candy and left. Boy is it different here.

First of all, I was shocked at how many kids either weren't dressed up at all or really hadn't made much of an effort. I saw plenty of young teenage girls in pajama pants, a few polyester 'tattered' robes (you've seen 'em, they're standard Halloween issue), and quite a few that were dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt with a meager attempt at 'scary' face makeup. The only ones that really had costumes to speak of were the youngest kids since their parents dressed them up.

Another thing that threw me was the 'trick FOR a treat'. The first time my friend asked a kid if he had a joke, I really didn't think much of it. But after the next five or six, I was beginning to see a pattern. I finally asked about it and was informed that "of course every kid has to tell a joke or do something for the candy". We never had to jump through hoops to get our candy. And correct me if I'm wrong but it's Trick OR Treat, is it not? I was taught that it went something more like this. When I say 'trick or treat', I'm telling you that you have a choice. You can give me a treat, or I can play a trick on you.

I don't know. I guess I've found several things about St. Louis that are different from the West Coast. This is just another in a long line of regional differences. See, diversity is fun!



So for this year's Halloween post, you will all be treated to a picture of something my co-worker and I received from our boss towards the beginning of the month. I was trying to describe them to Steph today, but they're seriously too hideous for words. Heck, even pictures don't really do them justice.

Alright, I apologize for the terrible picture. I only had a moment to sneak in a photo before someone was going to ask me what I was doing. Anyway...

They're hats. Yes. I said hats. The orange one is mine, and yes, that's a veil. The purple one with the GIANT spider on it is my co-worker's.

And we were expected to actually wear them! AND NOT JUST TODAY!

Have you seen those pictures of pets that people put hats on? The ones where the expression of the animal says something to the effect of "when you aren't looking, I will poop in your shoe!"? Have you seen those. Had I been forced to wear this...that would have been my expression.


Because I was challenged...

I'm not going to say who challenged me, or really that it was even a personal challenge.

All I'll say is that you DON'T have to be a professional to enjoy playing around with Photoshop.

Oh, and that you don't even have to have the expensive version to have some fun. These are all done with the FREE Photoshop LimitedEdition software.

So, on to the before's and after's. You don't have to like them the way I do...but I'm of course interested in what you DO like. So have at it. I had fun playing around with them anyway.

Here is the before...

And the after!

Now I'm sure that some will say that I 'popped' the green a little too much. But I kid you not, it was really that green! It just happened to be lower light than my camera likes under all that canopy.

Here is another.


And After.

So, I may have taken a bit more liberty with this one. I really wanted to see how much I could punch up the violet/blue. But look at how much sharper it is! (I did not use any kind of Unsharp Mask with this, it was all done with color balance, saturation, and brightness/contrast)



Photoshop layers were utilized with this photo. So, there was a little more technique to it than just adjusting levels and color balance/saturation. But it was still done in less than half an hour. And if I were to actually print this out, I would probably bring the blue back down a little more. But I was trying to make a point...

Last one.



Yep, I got a little more creative with this one. I don't know why I wanted to highlight the yellow dresses...but it seemed appropriate with the color balance a bit to the sepia side. I was having fun.

Which brings me to my point. You don't have to be a professional to use Photoshop. Obviously, in a professionals hands these would look even better. My photos turn out better than they would if I didn't go in and change a few things. Have fun with it people! Let the creativity show!