365 Project: Days 18 – 24

I seem to be good for 5 pics a week so far.  I’d like to say that this current week will be better, but I already missed a pic yesterday.  Argh.  Moving on.

 

 

IMG_1254For my birthday, my sister gave me a “Dashboard Monk” that promises “Enlightenment on a Spring”.  I decided that, even though I drive the length of I-696 3+ times per week, my Dashboard Monk would be better suited atop my monitor at work.  As I was taping him to the monitor, I realized he’s sitting on top of a fortune cookie fortune saying “Patience is the key to joy.”  I guess this could be a statement about my job and getting through the day. (note:  iPhone camera photo).

 

 

_MG_6522Tuesday came and went without a picture, but my folks were in Ypsilanti for a few days and on Wednesday we met them in Hamtramck for dinner at our favorite Polish restaurant.  Its so hard to get them to pose for a picture when they’re not making funny faces, so I was pretty happy that I got this great shot of them.

(note:  Looking back on the workshop I took, I finally understand what the white balance adjustment can do.  Since I didn’t think to adjust it before I took this picture, I was able to adjust it in software afterward to remove some of the orange tones from the bad lighting in the restaurant.)

 

 

_MG_6541Signs of life.

I missed Thursday’s photo, but the sun came out on Friday and so did I.

 

 

_MG_6577Saturday – Kate and Roxy.

 

 

_MG_6591We finally got out for a ride on Sunday.  Unfortunately, we had to stick to the pavement because things around here are just plain ugly and gross.  It was a good ride with lots of sunshine, but still a bummer to be stuck on pavement.  I didn’t realize until Sunday just how sad I am that I missed winter this year due to injury/recovery.  Hopefully next year will be good snow and injury free!

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365 Project: Days 11 – 17

 

Looks like I made it 6 days this week – totally failed on Monday.  Not even sure how that happened.   Oh well .. getting better.

 

_MG_6432 I really thought I took this on Monday, but the date/timestamp says it was taken on Tuesday.  So I guess I took it on Tuesday.  Either way – I cooked dinner 2 days in a row.  Chicken Chili Verde  and the sauce was from the spaghetti that went with the chicken parmesan from the Amish market.

 

 

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On Wednesday we transferred 2 beers into “secondary” for aging.  And by we, I mean Nick.  I just took pictures.  This is our 4 tap keezer.  Also, this is my favorite picture of the week.  I took a similar one with the pantry door closed, but it was too bright.

 

 

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We had a meeting with our State Farm agent on Thursday and went to The Great Baraboo for dinner after.  Their pizza was amazing and their Porter was delicious.  I cheated here with an iPhone pic.  As my photographer uncle always says – the best camera is the one you have with you.  Also, its a terrible picture.  But it is a picture nonetheless.

_MG_6495 Starting the second mitten is the hardest part.  Once started, however, they fly off the needles.  Madeline Tosh Chunky.  Mmm.

 

 

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Walter.  Part Shar Pei.  Part Lab.  Complete goof.

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Before I had an iPAD, I bought comic books in Trade Paper Back (TPB) form.  Now, I buy most of my comics digitally.

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365 Project: Days 4-10

Old man Chilli

4) Chilli is 11 1/2 years old and has slowed down considerably in the past few months.  Chilli burned bright for 11 years.  He’s working on retirement now.

Cute Little Reader

5)  We had a meeting at my friend Kate’s house the other night.  Her littlest guy sat quietly and read “Grasshopper On The Road” for most of the meeting.  Precious.

Mmm.  Snack.

6) Ending my birthday evening with popcorn!  I decided to buy regular buttered popcorn (instead of low fat) from the Boy Scouts this year.  It was a fabulous decision.

Hello Ladies

7) Ladies Night at Macomb Bike & Fitness.

*FAIL*

8) Friday it snowed.  And then we went to the bar for a going away party.  And then we came home and the power went out, kind of, and then it was late and dark.  Ahem.

*FAIL*

9) Not nearly as good of an excuse today.  In fact, no excuse at all.  Lame.

Jill-n-Gabe

10)  Bad picture is better than no picture.  I struggle in low light.  That aside, we met Jill and Gabe in the D for a (belated) birthday dinner. Mercury Burger Bar.  Good stuff.  Good times.

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365 Project: Days 1-3

A couple of years ago, I bought a DSLR camera body on eBay and have been sporadically taking pictures without any real idea how to use my camera, and no real understanding of principles of photography or how to take photographs.  Not surprisingly, I ended up disappointed with the majority of my pictures, and eventually lost motivation to use the “big” camera.

For Christmas this year, though, Santa found a deal on Living Social for a Basic DSLR 6-hour Photography workshop and signed me up.  The workshop was a few weeks ago and it far exceeded my expectations.  Among the basics like, understanding what aperture is, when and why I’d want to change it, and how to do so on my own DSLR camera – I also now have a reason to take pictures – practice.

I realized that the only way I’m going to improve is to take pictures for the purpose of leaning photography.  I’ve always taken pictures for the purpose of documentation and memories – and I always will – but to improve those pictures, I need to do some homework.

In that vein, I now have a goal of using my “big” camera daily.  I have a goal of posting 1 picture per day in this space.  Most likely, I will post a week’s worth of pictures in one blog post – but each picture will be taken on the day it represents.  I use Aperture by Apple to manage my photos and will do some basic touchup (exposure, cropping, straightening) before posting some (most) photos.  I’ll try to note changes if I remember them when I post.  Otherwise, just know they may be slightly edited.

All that is to say – here are the first of the 365 pictures I intend to post here this year.  I started on Friday, 2/15, so there are only 3 pictures for last week.  There should be 7 next week.

 

365 Pictures:  Days 1 – 3

Rays_WW_2013_Bander

1) Friday – Feb 15, 2013 – Day 1 at Ray’s MTB Women’s Weekend.  Women only on Friday until 4pm.

Rays_WW_2013_SkatePark

 2) Saturday – Feb 16, 2013 – Day 2 at Ray’s MTB.  Amazing  BMX rider in the SkatePark.  (photo editing note:  This picture has been cropped)

Chicken_Noodle_Soup

3) Sunday – Feb 17, 2013 – Last night’s dinner in progress – homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.

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Still learning

For as many years as I’ve been biking, I’ve struggled to keep up. Nick and I started mountain biking together in 2003, and while I picked up quickly on the technical side of the sport, I was slow.  Nick was fast and just got faster. In fact, everyone I knew got faster, while I stayed at the back of the pack. Eventually I just started thinking of myself as the anchor and set out to ride in the back.

I made moderate improvements along the way – but still I was walking hills, at the back of the pack, constantly frustrated.  Over time, my rides got shorter and what little endurance I had, slowly disappeared.

Group rides became less fun for everyone.

In 2010, I lost some weight over the winter and decided to start running. It was spring and Nick was starting to train for Lumberjack, and I wanted an exercise alternative to dirt-road-slogfests.  Running offered the change of scenery I needed, and the cross training made me a tiny bit stronger on the bike.   The next winter-into-spring, I trained for a half marathon. That is when running gave me a change in perspective.

I had a ‘light bulb moment’ when driving home from a long run one day. I’d never riden a bike for much more than an hour without stopping. Sure, I’d done longer rides, but with lots of rest stops.  That day, though, I’d run for 2+ hours without ever slowing to a walk – let alone stopping. That was a turning point for me (this is where my husband rolls his eyes in the ‘I tried to tell you this for years’ sort of way) – because I realized that I was the only thing holding myself back from being a better biker.  Sure, I still needed to improve my physical strength, but I had to really improve my mental strength if I actually wanted results.  Running taught me that I can endure far more physically than I’d thought possible.

So I started pushing myself harder on the bike. I have been learning to not just endure, but embrace the pain and suffering that comes with pushing hard. The payoff is huge.  I am often still at the back of the pack, but becoming less of an anchor.

I’m still not good at it – pushing myself. But there are a few rides I’ve done over the past  year or so, that I consider “defining” rides. Personal accomplishments on these rides fueled me mentally to keep pushing harder.

(I hope to write about these in more detail soon)

Ore to Shore 2011, with Kristi

Barry Roubaix 2012

Vasa Singletrack – July 2012, with Nick

CRPT – Riverbends – Stony – October 2012, with Nick and Steve

The last ride on this list, CRPT – Riverbends – Stony, was completely unplanned and unexpected.  I pushed myself harder than I ever have and still can’t believe what I did that day.  Its what inspired me to start writing again.

Stay tuned ..

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Bread!

A few weeks ago, I made my first loaves of bread.

It turned out pretty good, but I thought maybe a bit dense.  It didn’t seem to rise as well as I’d hoped.

Today, I tried again.  This time, I substituted white bread flour for the white all-purpose called for in the recipe.  Also, I only used 2 1/2 cups of the white flour.  Both times I used my KitchenAid stand mixer for the kneading.

Also, I had an unopened jar of yeast in my fridge that had a “sell by” date of March, 2011.  It was still sealed, so I decided to try it anyway.  It was fine.  My bread rose MUCH better than last time.  The first rise only took 45 minutes (whereas last time I let it go for an hour and it still didn’t rise like today’s bread did).

The result?  Amazing.  This bread is so much lighter and fluffier.  The flavor seems brighter and sweeter.  I’m smitten.  And since I got the process down from ~3 hours to ~2 hours, I think I’ll be making much more of my own bread from now on.

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What’s in my lunch?

Yesterday I bought my lunch (Fatoosh salad with Feta:  mmmmmmm) because I woke up late, was in a hurry and ran out the door without even thinking about lunch.

Today was better, but I was again running late-ish and figured I’d just buy lunch again.  But, then then my conscience got the better of me when I remembered that there were a few individual portioned containers of chili in the basement freezer.

Whenever we make chili or soup, we try to make enough to freeze the leftovers for a quick dinner. Whenever possible, I’ll also freeze some in smaller portions for quick lunch options. This chili has been in the freezer since October and there are still a few containers of it left. So, looks like I need to eat more chili and then make more chili. These are tasks I can handle.

Review of today’s lunch:
Yum. A mix of stew beef and ground sausage makes for some delicious chili.

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What’s in my lunch?

When my schedule allows, I work from home on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Often, I’ll meet the husband for lunch out someplace, but sometimes I just stay home and forage the kitchen and pantry.

There’s nothing super exciting in the fridge right now, and I’m trying to keep the calories low these days, so today I cooked up a pot of Mrs. Grass.

Review of today’s lunch:

While not very exciting, Mrs. Grass is very tasty soup.  I never had it until after I was married and terribly sick, and hubby cooked some up for me.  It is really the best “instant” soup I’ve had.  I had the homestyle vegetable noodle variety today and it was not much different than the plan noodle soup, which I think I generally prefer.

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What’s in my lunch?

Yesterday I grabbed a container of yogurt, some granola, an orange and a banana. I ate the yogurt with granola, but not the fruit. Bad.

Today, I woke up late, but managed to pull together a salad. The lettuce was a bit old, but it is still editble, and I had some things pre-chopped to toss in, and spent just a few minutes cutting up some bits of onion and grape tomatoes.

Ingredients in today’s salad:
Romaine Lettuce
Red Bell Pepper
Carrots
Grape Tomatoes
Red Onion
Cheddar Cheese
Garlic Buttery Croutons
Blue Cheese Italian Vinaigrette

Review of today’s salad:

Delicious. I really like the dressing a lot.

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Craig Lake State Park

Location and access:

Michigamme, MI

Access via Craig Lake Road (marked as Megellan; Craig Lake State Park sign at intersection) from US-41.  Access is narrow dirt road, but well graded.


View Larger Map

 

Land Owner/Entry Fee:

Michigan State Park – requires Passport

Facilities:

Small dirt parking lot with gated 1/4 mile 2-track trail to access site.  The portage is very well graded, downhill from the parking lot.

Outhouse, picnic tables, firepits, recycle and trash at access site.

Other Resources:

MDNR – Craig Lake State Park

Hunts’ Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Canoe and Kayak rentals

Swimming:

The water is very dark brown/red, but very pleasant to swim in.  We stopped at one of the campsites, beached and swam, also at the picnic area near the access site.

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The water was very refreshing, but the it was pretty mucky on the bottom.  Also, the water is so dark, you can’t really see the big rocks – so, I suggest caution if “diving under”.

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Description and thoughts:

Craig Lake State Park includes 3 lake systems and a network of trails that make it possible to portage from lake to lake.  We paddled along the shoreline of Craig Lake, keeping the mainland to our left.  We were out for about 3 hours, including a stop to swim.  Our pace was pretty slow and mellow, so it could be done much quicker with more focused and consistent paddling.

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There are some islands that you can paddle up to, some are sandy and seem to have picnic areas.

We all agreed that the lake is just stunningly beautiful and it was definitely worth the portage for the drop-in.

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Equipment:

Old Town Loon 12′ Kayak

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Time of year:

Early August, 2011

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