Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

April 28, 2010

A Quilt Story

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:28 pm
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I hope I don’t alienate any male readers (Scott) (Friends from FB) that I may have acquired with this write-up, but I felt like sharing another interest of mine today besides photography.  While I haven’t had this hobby for nearly as long as I’ve loved taking photos, I find it quite satisfying; it’s quilting.  I really started my love affair with quilts back when I worked for Old Sturbridge Village  ( that could be another post entirely!  I have some stories I could tell!), because many of the houses displayed old-fashioned style quilts, and many of the women I worked with there were skilled quilters.  A dear friend of mine, Renae, who occasionally comments here on the blog and is a wonderful quilter in her own right, gave me the little push I needed to get going.  She supplied me with my first set of coordinated fabrics.  I don’t think she ever intended for me to use them all in one quilt, but that’s what I did!  I found a simple pattern for a small quilt, and this is what I created:

(Note to photographer friends: these photos are scanned from 4×6 prints, so the quality of the shots is only so-so)

Shortly after I began quilting, a baby shower was being thrown for the wife of a friend.  I took the opportunity to give my new-found hobby another try.  Again, keeping it simple, this was my next creation:

I realized as I was going through my quilt pictures that I’ve been doing this for 5 years now.  The baby that I made that quilt for turned 5 this month.

Quilting fever hit!  I wanted to make more and looked for excuses to create.  I made two end-of-the-school-year quilts for my daughters’ teachers:

(Both quilts looked alike, so I only pictured one daughter and teacher)

I had a difficult time giving up this next quilt to the person for whom I made it!  One of the women I worked with at OSV was adopting a 5-year-old boy.  I created this out of a combination of 4 quilt square patterns I found in a book of 501 squares.  I felt quite proud of the work I did here, and hoped it would find a place of honor in the room of the adopted child:

Quilts go with babies!  That often turned out to be my reason for creating quilts.  The next three quilts were made for friends having a baby:

That Red Sox bear quilt was one of the most difficult and time consuming one I ever undertook.  That baby turns 4 this summer, and I think I still haven’t made a quilt I found more difficult.

Memory quilts are another style I’ve found the occasion to make.  I made this one for my mother-in-law’s 75th birthday:

It has pictures of her children and grandchildren on it.  I found special fabric at Jo-Ann’s Fabric that you can feed through your printer in order to create those squares.  I used the same fabric to help create this quilt, which I made for my daughters’ (and my) dance studio’s 10th anniversary:

I’ve also made quilts as gifts for my family.  This was a table-runner for my sister, Jennifer:

And this was my best attempt at a Victorian “tea time” quilt for my mother:

After a few years, and a bit of confidence gained, I made a quilt for Renae’s daughter:

My most recent foray into quilting was for my older daughter’s 15th birthday, just 2 months ago.  It was the biggest quilt I’ve made to date, and I tried to choose fabric to match her personality.  Because of the size of this quilt, I took it to a professional to have the 3 layers of the quilt sewn together after I created the top and backing.  I brought my daughter with me to the quilter to choose the pattern for the sewing that was done on one of those amazing, computer driven quilt machines.  She found a pattern of shoes and purses and this was the result:

(Its hard to do much in my house without the animals getting involved!)

I’ve got more ideas for quilts forever floating around in my head, and people for which I’d like to make them.  Would you like to be on my list?  😉

April 26, 2010

I thought I’d share…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:01 pm


Cutie

Originally uploaded by osvchic

I was just looking through my Flickr photos when I came across this picture, which made me think of Tracy’s red squirrel shot from a few days ago, and I thought I’d share. I took this a couple of years ago on a camping trip in Myles Standish State Park in Plymouth, MA.  No, this squirrel was not a thief.  We had leftovers from breakfast that morning and enticed this cutie to hang around for some pictures!

April 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to me

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 6:39 pm
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I was treated to a lovely, relaxing day for my birthday today.  April 24th, in my memory, has generally been a typical, rainy, April sort of day, an “Eeyore” sort of a day, if you will.  Perhaps Tracy of Milkay Photography would be able to let us know if she agrees since it is a special day for her as well!  However, here in Western Mass, the day was about as beautiful as you could ask for in April: sunny and in the low 70’s. 

After walking the dogs this morning, our friend Sherry came over with her dog Angel for a little doggie play date.  This was a cute picture of all 3 dogs that I managed to get with my older daughter looking on:
 

I received some fun things for gifts as well.  Some of the things included:

Special new sneaks

A new charm for my Pandora bracelet – the sneaks and this charm are from mom, who lives on Cape Cod.  This neat square charm actually has interesting designs on all 4 sides.

Hubby gave me this one, for my “bullish” Taurean ways!  Also from dear hubby, although not a surprise was this:

Its one of those “anti-gravity” recliners.  I spend a good amount of my summer sitting on my deck and reading, so this is the perfect spot for that!  I began my summer activities a bit early today and enjoyed the bountiful sunshine while seated here.

Right now, that same wonderful hubby, is cooking me a delicious steak dinner on the grill you see in the background of the first shot of this post.  See what I mean about not be able to ask for a much nicer day?

April 22, 2010

Dog Walk

Filed under: Walking the Dogs — Karma @ 3:53 pm
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I took my dogs for a walk on this lovely spring morning and took my camera with me.  Due to having two happy-to-be-walking dogs along with me, some of my photos are not as tack sharp as I would like them to be, but I thought I did okay for having approximately 130 pounds of dog in tow.  I use a “Y” shaped leash so that I only have to have one hand on a leash for the two of them, which left the other hand free for my camera.

Here’s Teddy(left) and Daphne(right), raring to go.  This shot is one of the not-so-sharp ones, but I liked the “action” shot of Teddy’s voluminous tail.

As I mentioned during Scott’s last challenge, I consider myself a townie.  There were only short periods of my life when I did not live here: previous to my parents buying our first home here, which we moved into when I was 3, and for 5 years after I graduated from high school, when my parents sold their house and moved out of town.  In 1992, I got married and moved back here.  That qualifies me as a townie, doesn’t it?  Reason I mention this is because, as many towns I’m sure do, Wilbraham has old neighborhoods and new ones, and my dog walk takes me through some of each.  By Wilbraham standards, I suppose my street should be considered relatively new.  The street and the houses on it were all built in the 1960’s; the town of Wilbraham was incorporated in 1763.  By my own life standards, however, I’d consider my neighborhood old.  Here’s my street:

A pretty average suburban neighborhood of ranch-style houses.

Up at the top of the street, we turn the corner on to a sidewalk of a fairly well-traveled, but still residential street.

The dogs and I walk this sidewalk, past the middle school in town where my younger daughter walks to and from school each day, and take a right on to this street:

This street is one of many “new” neighborhoods in town.  A lot of these developments have popped up on lands that used to be owned by family farms.  As is happening in many places today, these old family farms can no longer make it in today’s economy, so the descendents of the original farmers have sadly had to sell off land to developers who build streets of cookie-cutter “McMansions.”  The houses are all beautifully maintained with putting-green lawns and professionally landscaped yards.  There was a time when I envied the owners of this style of house and yard.  While I wouldn’t mind owning a home with more space and larger rooms than where I am now, I’m not interested in a huge house I can’t afford to heat with not much of a yard for my vegetable garden, my above-ground pool and space for kids and dogs to play.  The interesting thing about this McMansion neighborhood is that very close to these finely manicured lawns, you can turn down a little side street with no houses on it and find this:

A swamp where the only neighbors are peepers, quite loud peepers, which I shot video of on my cell phone about a month ago because they were so loud.  If I could figure out how to get that sound from my phone to this blog, I would do it so you could hear them.  At the end of this short swamp street, you turn the corner into another “old” neighborhood:

As you can see here, the fence is in need of repair, possibly the back porch too, and the lawn isn’t so perfectly maintained.  Its not a “poor” neighborhood, by any stretch of the imagination, but maybe just a more “blue collar” neighborhood:

Houses maybe a little smaller, some Capes, some smaller than my house.  But as I walk through this neighborhood, I can feel myself relax again.  It seems to be  the kind of place where you don’t worry about your kids being out riding their bikes and playing in the neighbor’s yard.  No one is going to be upset if you work on a car in the driveway or hang a clothesline in your backyard.  As lovely as the other neighborhood looks, I can’t help but feel people are watching as I walk my dogs to make darn sure that the dogs don’t step on their Chem-lawns.

I leave this neighborhood and head back up to the sidewalk of the well-traveled street, and walk back toward my neighbor’s lovely flowering tree.

I love this tree.  I’m not sure what kind it is.  Flowering dogwood, perhaps? (Let me know in the comments if you know what it is).  Its not only beautiful now in springtime, but in the fall it turns a gorgeous shade of red.

And then I am home sweet home again:

I just realized I forgot to crop the newspaper out of the shot.  I suppose its appropriate concerning the title of this post.  Those of us who walk dogs know well what those nice, long, orange bags are good for!  ( I didn’ take a picture of that!)

April 18, 2010

What’s Blooming – April Edition

Filed under: What's Blooming — Karma @ 5:59 pm
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I enjoy having something in bloom in my yard for as long as New England weather will allow.  I hope to feature this post catagory at least once a month, possibly more often.  Due to some unusually high temperatures earlier this month (80’s and 90’s degrees F), some things are a bit further along in my yard than they would usually be in April. Most folks in this part of western Massachuesetts normally have daffodils in bloom near the beginning of April.  I generally lament that I don’t get to see mine until the last week of April due to their being planted on the north side of my house, which doesn’t warm up very quickly.  Last weekend, before Jennifer and I headed to Cape Cod, I noticed a couple of my daffodils had just opened – April 10th: certainly a record for my yard!  Today’s partly cloudy sky turned out to be a good time to photograph the majority of my daffodils, now blooming.




My rhododendron bush is also fully in bloom and alive with the sound of buzzing bumble bees.  (How do you like that for alliteration?)

 

One of my “pride and joys” of my flower garden is my bleeding heart plant.  Once it starts growing in spring, it goes quickly and starts setting out delicate little heart-shaped blooms.  Right now it is only at about half the size it will reach this growing season, but it already has an abundant amount of the flowers I love.

I’ll feature a shot of the whole plant in a future edition of “What’s Blooming” when it is more mature and stunning in appearance.

Also unusually early this year, the lilacs are begining to bloom.  They are just starting, but normally I don’t see fully open lilacs until May.  I just love the fragrance of these cheerful flowers.  I have them planted all along my driveway, near the entrance to my house, on the corner of the house as you head toward the backyard, and even one in a somewhat shadowy corner of my backyard that tends to bloom a bit later than the others.  I’ll have more shots of these in May, but here’s one showing the promise of what is to come.

While I was outside, I decided to grab my Raynox, my Gorillapod and my CCRRFD and try a few macros on the flowers in bloom.  With the Raynox, a gentle breeze can look like a 50 mph wind when you are trying to focus.  I battled the gentle breeze in strange and uncomfortable positions trying to get some half-way decent shots.  Here’s what I came up with that I was willing to post.

This is the edge of a rhododendron petal:

 The top edge of one of the bleeding hearts:

And the bottom “dangly part” of a bleeding heart.

Hopefully, Mother Nature will allow me to have many more beautiful blooms to share with you this spring and summer.

April 16, 2010

End of the Bunny Watch :-(

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:01 pm

I’ve given it a few days to make sure, but it seems the bunny watch is over.

While I was away for the weekend visiting mom, hubby grabbed this picture of the bunnies with his iPhone.  I did what I could to try to color-corrrect it in PSE, but its just aw-ight.  Was it our friend Scott Thomas who said the best camera is the camera you have with you?

On Monday, I went out to check on our tenants myself, and took the picture I shared with you earlier in the week of the gang with their eyes all open:

On Tuesday, I was surprised to see this when I went to see how they were doing:

No bunnies!  Oh no!  I hoped something hadn’t happened to them. I was guessing back when I first found the bunnies that they were only a day or two old after I found more information about them on the House Rabbit Society.  Tuesday was day 12 of the bunny watch, so I was thinking they were only about 2 weeks old at this point.  The HRS said they usually didn’t start leaving the nest until about 3 weeks old, and normally stayed with their family group until 4 to 5 weeks old, returning to the nest to sleep at night.   I looked around but didn’t see hide nor “hare” of them.   My older daughter took a look with a flashlight under our deck and spied this:

One little bunny, all alone!  And that was the last I’ve seen of our little brood of bunnies.  If this little family group is still returning to their nest among my raspberry bushes, I’ve seen no evidence of it.  Good-bye little ones!  It was fun knowing you for the short time you were here.  I hope you are doing well and you are more than welcome to return and eat the dandelions in my lawn this summer!

April 13, 2010

Fun with Macro

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:50 pm
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This week the Pioneer Woman is having a macro-photography challenge.  Two Christmas’s ago, I received a very cool gift: a Raynox dcr-250 macro lens  for my Olympus camera.  I haven’t made the big leap to a DSLR yet, but I’m happy so far with my “step up” from a point-and-shoot.  It has an adapter tube that allows me to attach a few lenses, similarly to a DSLR.  I also have a very nice telephoto lens for it.  Anyway, it took some doing for me to figure out how to get that tack sharp focus with my macro lens.  It took patience, help from internet friends, usually a tripod, and often a funky device I learned how to make on Flickr: the CCRRFD.  Ms. Hut over at the IvoryHut also was very helpful with advice.  Anyway, because of P’Dub’s photo assignment, I thought I’d share a few of the cool shots I’ve been able to manage with my Raynox.  Not all of the photos are in brilliant focus, but I’m pretty happy with the results!  The first two shots here are the ones that I submitted to P’Dub:

The above is one blossom of baby’s breath, reflected in my granite countertop.

This one shows grains of sand on the side of my daughter’s pail last summer at the beach.

I think this is a pretty cool shot- snowflakes that had just landed on my snow shovel:

KD over at A Half Hour a Day inspired me one summer afternoon after I read this post, to create this:

And, if I remember correctly, I think that my header here on this blog is actually a section of a photo I took with the Raynox last summer!  I just loved the shape of those dahlia petals.

I haven’t gotten around to trying any new shots with the Raynox yet this year, but spring has finally arrived here in New England.  I think I’ll do some more work and try to perfect some macro shots when the flowers are blooming and the bugs are buzzing.  I’d certainly welcome comments about your experiences with macro photography and any tips you’d like to share to help me improve!

April 12, 2010

Mini-Bunny Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 4:00 pm

Their eyes are open!!

I was away for the weekend visiting my mom, so I missed taking pictures this weekend.  Hubby managed to grab a shot with his iPhone at some point over the weekend, so I’ll probably still have close to a week’s worth of pictures to share by the weekend.  My sister and I, along with my daughters, spent a sunny, cool weekend on Cape Cod.  I, unfortunately, left my camera in my mom’s house instead of taking it along with me, but my sister remembered hers on Sunday.  I’m hoping she’ll have a new post up over at her place soon!

ETA: After a comment from Jennifer, I realized it must look as though the picture posted here is the one from hubby’s iPhone.  It’s not – I took that shot myself when I came home.  Sorry for any confusion!

April 8, 2010

Baby Bunny Watch, Week 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:55 pm

Last Friday, I had the day off from work and the weather was absolutely beautful.  We’ve been enjoying some record highs for temperatures here in Western Mass. for almost a week now.  I decided to do some yard work.  I began clearing away the thatch and leaves from around my deck in order to plant some seeds that can handle the still chilly nights of spring in New England.  While I was raking, something gray squirmed near my feet.  I was surprised and thought perhaps a mouse, or maybe a mole had been disturbed by my raking.  What I actually disturbed was a nest of three baby bunnies.

   I felt so bad for disturbing their spot, I immediately stopped raking in that area and covered the bunnies back up.  My squeek of surprise got my husband’s attention, who immediately came to find out what I had discovered.  We started to worry about the dogs, our young collie in particular.  Luckily hubby had purchased an inexpensive fence for our small strawberry patch that he hadn’t put up yet and used it to fashion a blockade around the nest.  I decided to embark upon “Bunny Watch 2010” for as long as the little critters hang around for me to take their photo.  The photo above was actually taken on Saturday, which was Day 2 – I didn’t think to grab a  picture the day that I discovered them.

    I read a bit about wild rabbits online after discovering these three adorable siblings.  I found out the mother rabbit only spends about 5 minutes, twice a day nursing her babies and then leaves them alone the rest of the time in an attempt to not draw predators attention to her young.  The site also said that as long as the bunnies are quiet during the day, it is likely they are being taken care of and not hungry or orphaned.  They are born with little fur and closed eyes.  Coats develop in about a week and eyes open in 6-10 days.  I’m guessing our little crew here was only a day or two old at the time I found them.

Day 3 of Bunny Watch:

More fur, seeminly overnight!  Can you see that sweet face with the pink nose to the left of that shot?

Day 4:

Longer fur and cute fuzzy ears!

Day 5:

Cuddly siblings gaining weight and getting bigger.

Day 6:

On this day, we were surprised to find only two babies in the nest.  I was worried.  Had a predator taken one? But if that was the case wouldn’t they all be gone?  Was the mother moving them to a new location because she realized they had been discovered? my husband wondered.  Didn’t seem likely to me she’d be moving them in broad daylight, if that was the case.  Had the still blind baby taken a little adventure on his or her own?  I hoped not.  I searched the area around the nest and found the missing baby tucked away by himself near my garden hose, about 4 or 5 feet away from the nest.  With garden gloves in place, the little escapee was safely returned to its siblings.  I pieced together what must have happened.  My overly curious collie, Teddy,

had been working his way under the hastily installed fencing to go and investigate the bunnies.  He didn’t hurt them, mostly just stood and stared at them the couple of times I caught him over there, but I can imagine it wouldn’t be difficult to spook a tiny, blind, days-old bunny!  Hubby added pieces of my daughters’ old plastic playhouse walls around the little plastic fence in an attempt to quell Teddy’s curiosity.

Today was day 7 of  Bunny Watch.  Three bigger, chubbier, cute bundles of fuzz remain content in their collie-protected home:

April 6, 2010

Why a Blog?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 7:55 pm

    Here it is.  My first attempt at a blog.  I don’t know if I will keep this up or lose interest or really get into it.  It’s an experiment, I suppose.  I think the main reason I will be doing this is photography.  I first started participating in online photo challenges at a site called Shrew’s Daily Shutters.  Ms. Shrew hasn’t posted in a long time.  I’m hoping that will change!  Then I got interested in another great photographer’s blog and photo challenges, Scott’s over at Views Infinitum.  Scott has a great way to participate in his challenges.  Rather than sending him your pictures, you post a link in his comment section.  Not only do you get to look at other folk’s cool photos, you find interesting blogs you might never have seen otherwise.  During his last photo assignment, I posted all of my shots here.  While Picasa Web Albums is a very useful site, which I will continue to use, it doesn’t seem to be very user friendly as far as encouraging folks to make comments, and that’s what I really enjoy about sharing photography.  I love reading comments about what people like, but even more so, how to improve.  Two years ago I did a project that many digital photographers have done : Project 365.  In this project, you make yourself take at least one photo every day.  Doesn’t sound all that difficult, but for me it was.  Finding something new and interesting to shoot every day was quite the challenge.  When I did that, I posted my shots on Flickr .  Flickr, however, is limiting unless you are willing to part with some cash annually.  Flickr will only show your latest 200 photos unless you pay their annual fee.  I personally don’t care to shell out for something that is available elsewhere for free, but I do miss the interaction of the built-in community of photographers on Flickr.  So, it is my hope that through this blog, I might be able to have the opportunity to interact with others who may share my interest.  I will always welcome constructive criticism even though photography is but a hobby for me.  Maybe more than a hobby – ask my family about my obsessive-compulsive need to keep photo albums!  (You can ask one member of my family right here on WordPress at Bread and Putter)  Yes, “old-fashioned” prints stored in an actual book taking up space in my house.  I’ll be married 18 years this June; I have nearly that many photo albums lurking in this house.

   So, like I said, photography will be my main reason for doing this blog, but I may decide to post now and then on other things that interest me such as : my family and the trials of raising two teenaged daughters, my dogs, the Boston Red Sox, quilting, cooking experiments (although that’s really my sister’s thing) or any other thoughts that pop into my mind. 

   I will work on jazzing this blog up over the next few days, weeks, months – who knows?