Wednesday, May 30, 2018

So. Much. Rain.

It has been raining almost non-stop here in western North Carolina for two weeks now.  Last night on our local news they said we have received the equivalent of six months worth of rain (based on yearly averages) since this started. 

We’re under numerous flood advisories and warnings, some of which are extended through Saturday morning.  Surrounding counties have been hit worse than we have so far, especially with landslides.  Several roads are closed.  More rain is expected tonight, tomorrow, and Friday.

Our house and neighborhood are fine so far.  The yard is soggy, and the sump pump has been working non-stop, but that’s it.  It does seem likely that we’ll have to take the slightly longer way to work tomorrow, though.

I took this picture yesterday morning on the way to work while I was stopped at a red light.

I took this picture this morning on the way to work while I was stopped at a red light. 

As you can see, the water is much higher in the second picture, just 24 hours later.  I wasn’t able to get pictures, but it was higher when I came home for lunch, and even higher when I came home for the day.  Based on the amount of rain we’ve had this evening, I highly doubt that section of road will be open tomorrow morning.

Our chances for rain start to go down significantly on Saturday, and there are even a few sunny days in our forecast for next week.  I am definitely ready for some sunshine!

How’s your weather?  Are you getting desperate for some sunshine?

Monday, May 28, 2018

Fun With Photo Editing

I freely admit to being one of the least technologically savvy people on the planet.  It’s also no secret that things sometimes go pretty wrong for me with my phone.  So it really shouldn’t surprise me that I just discovered a feature on the phone, three years after I got it.

Better late than never, right?

My big, happy discovery over the long weekend has been that I can edit pictures on my phone.  It’s actually pretty simple to do, and once the changes are made, it saves the edited photos in a separate album.

It has rained incessantly for the vast majority of the weekend.  There are lots of flood advisories, and a neighboring county even had a voluntary evacuation in some areas.  So I’ve spent most of my time inside over the weekend.  That gave me lots of time to play with some of the editing features on the phone.  I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve had fun trying different things on different pictures.

I love how much you can change a picture just by adjusting the lighting or color.

Here’s the original picture I took of a tree in a park about two months ago:

This is the tree in documentary style:

To begin with, I thought documentary style was just another name for black and white, but it does actually look a little different when you choose the black and white option.  Here it is in black and white:

Next  I played around with the saturation.  This is the tree with the saturation maxed out.  I like how bright and vivid it makes the colors.  I think the grass is absolutely gorgeous in this version of the picture.

While I was experimenting with maxing things out, I decided to play around with the warmth.  I think it makes the picture look like it was possibly taken during the fall rather than the spring.  It just has a very autumn look to me.

Next I played around with the fill light.  I adjusted the light to make it light and bright.  I think this version of the picture definitely looks like it was taken during the spring.   I think it makes it look like it was taken earlier in the day, and on a brighter day.

I tried the option to have the picture as a negative too.  It's usually not one of my favorite options, but it's nice to know I can do it if I want to.

Last of all, I decided to try the picture out in sepia.  I usually really like the sepia finish.  I like how it makes pictures look old.  I liked it for the tree, but it wasn't one of my favorites.  I think this particular picture just loses something when it's not in color.

I think my favorite version of this picture is the one with the saturation maxed out.  I like the vivid colors, and I think for this particular picture it really adds something.  The version with the fill light adjusted is a close second.  Again, I think that has a fair amount to do with this actual picture.  It makes the tree look bright and airy; very springy.

Even though I don't think they were the best versions for this particular picture, I love having the sepia, documentary, and black and white options.  I want to do some experimenting with some of my pictures from Charleston, SC in those finishes.

The negative and the one with the warmth maxed out were my least favorite versions of this picture.  The negative finish isn't usually one of my favorites, so that wasn't a surprise.  I did think I would like the warmer version better than I do though.  I think my biggest issue is that it took a spring picture and made it look like a fall picture.  I prefer spring to fall, so it makes sense that I wouldn't like the fall version as much.

Do you have a favorite version of the picture?  What about a least favorite?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

These peanut butter rice crispy treats are so good!  I’ve been meaning to share the recipe here for a while now, but they’re so good they never last very long, so it took some time to get pictures of them.  Everyone loves them.  I’ve added them to the list of treats I take to people at Christmas, and they’ve been really popular. 

They’re incredibly simple to make, which is good, because they’re the kind of thing you’ll want to make over and over again.  They’re not baked, which makes them a nice addition to my list of Christmas treats since oven space is at a premium then.  It’s also nice to have a dessert that doesn’t require the oven during the hot weather, so these are a great treat pretty much all year. 

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats:

6 cups rice crispy cereal (It’s perfectly fine to use a store brand; I usually use the Aldi brand.)

1 stick of butter

1 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows

½ cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup crunchy peanut butter

Combine butter, marshmallows, creamy peanut butter, and crunchy peanut butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.

Stir often.  Keep stirring often, until everything is melted.

Pour rice crispy cereal into a large mixing bowl.  Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal.  Mix well, making sure all of the cereal is thoroughly coated with the peanut butter mixture.  You’ll need to work fairly quickly so it doesn’t start to set before all of the cereal is coated.

Once everything is well mixed, place the mixture in a 9 x 13 dish, spreading it around evenly.

At this point, you can technically dig in if you just can’t stand to wait.  However, it won’t slice nicely unless you wait for a couple of hours.  If you’re eating it at home, and you don’t care how it looks, go for it.  If it needs to be sliced, and you want it to look nice, you’ll need to wait a couple of hours for it to set completely before you slice it. 


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thrifty Thursday - The Decluttr Edition

One of the things I want to do this year is finally get the clutter in our house under control.   We’ve been making much more of an effort not to bring in things we don’t really need, and to get rid of things we aren’t using.

However, books are a major weakness for both of us.  Nick and I are both readers, but we don’t read the same things.  I mostly read fiction, and a few biographies.  I also have an addiction to cookbooks.  Nick mostly reads non-fiction.  He enjoys reading textbooks as well.  We’re both suckers for a good book sale, which our library has yearly.  Needless to say, the book situation in our house was getting out of control.

Movies are another weakness of ours.  When we were first together we didn’t have cable (still don’t) or any streaming service, but we did have a Blockbuster membership.  We usually bought a few movies a month.  The used ones were always pretty cheap, and we’re both homebodies.  A quiet evening on the couch with a good movie makes us both really happy.  We’d also each get several movies a year as Christmas gifts, so our movie collection has grown quite a bit.

We decided it was time to seriously cull the books and movies.  It was that or get more shelves, which we don’t really have room for.  We each went through our books and pulled out the ones we’ve read and won’t realistically read again.  We also pulled a few that had been given to us that we didn’t have much interest in reading. 

We also went through all of the movies, and grouped them by type.  We pulled the ones that we’re highly unlikely to watch again.  We pulled a few that only one of us like.  Nick got rid of a few horror movies, and I got rid of a few romantic comedy movies. 

By the time we were finished we had amassed a large pile of books and movies.  We were also able to fit the things we kept on our shelves. 

One of my coworkers is beginning to downsize, and told me about Decluttr.  It’s a site where you can sell your books, movies, CDs, and some tech gadgets online.  You can download an app to scan bar codes (I didn’t because there wasn’t room on my phone) or you can manually enter the numbers (I did that, and it’s really not hard).  The site tells you right away if it’s something they’re buying, and what they’re paying for it. 

It works kind of like reverse online shopping.  You scan or enter all of your barcodes, and it puts everything they’ll accept in a cart.  Once you’re finished with that, you process your order.  They pay the shipping, you just print out a packing list, shipping label, package it all up, and send it to them.  We opted to be paid via Paypal since I already had an account, and we received the money in less than a week both times.  We’ve done two shipments to Declutttr.  The first time we received exactly the amount quoted.  The second time we received about twenty cents less than the amount quoted due to a quality issue.  They didn’t specify which item, but I really didn’t think such a small amount was a big deal. 

Selling books and movies to Decluttr is about the fastest and easiest way we’ve found to get rid of the ones we don’t want anymore.  A few thrift stores in our area won’t take them anymore, and it’s kind of a hassle to drive around to different thrift stores dropping different things off.  I like one stop shopping, etc.  I suspect if we had been willing to invest the time we might have been able to sell at least some of the books and movies for more on Amazon or Ebay, but I didn’t really want to take the time to take and upload pictures, and create listings for dozens of books and movies.  For us the goal was more to get rid of things and reduce clutter than to make money.  We did earn enough from our Decluttr payments for dinner out, and to buy our favorite sauces from the restaurant to use at home, so that was definitely a nice perk. 

In case you’re wondering, Howard has not been deemed clutter in need of being shipped off to Decluttr.  Pictures of boxes of movies and books or bookshelves are pretty boring, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share Howard’s latest meerkat picture with you.  I think he’s adorable in it.

So what about you?  Do the books and movies get out of control at your house?  Do you have a system in place for limiting the amount of books and movies you own?  Have you sold books and movies online?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

More Peonies

The peonies I shared with you last month have long since wilted.  They never seem to last very long, but the peonies on the shady side of the house have bloomed since then.

We’ve had torrential rain for most of the past week, but they seem to be holding on. 

The pink ones grow right next to the house, on the shady side. 

Everything on that side blooms about a month later than everything on the sunny side of the house.  I like the fact that it's spaced out like that.  I'll take coming home to this for as long as I can.

The white ones were planted in front of the house, with roses and several other bushes.  I don't think whoever planted them realized how much everything would grow over time, so it's a little wild and tangled.  I kind of like the way all of the different colors and flowers are packed in.  The roses over there shade the white peonies some, so they bloom later too.

I normally prefer more colorful flowers, but I think these are absolutely gorgeous.  The petals just seem so creamy and perfect.  And I love how vivid the green leaves are against them.

Can you tell I have a thing for peonies? 

Now if it would just stop raining so we could spend some time outside enjoying them!

Do you have any late bloomers? 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

My Blogging Buddy

Most of my blogging seems to be done from the couch.  It’s comfortable, and offers fewer distractions than other locations.  And I usually blog at night, after dinner, after the dishes are done, when things are settling down for the night. 

Caroline is a very affectionate kitty, and seems to believe that couch time is Caroline Cuddle Time, so she usually helps me blog.  She likes to sprawl out on my lap, the pillows, and the laptop.  I think she looks super cute, even if she does seem to think my topics are pretty snooze worthy.  And Caroline cuddles are always welcome.

Do you have a blogging buddy?  When and where do you do most of your blogging?

Monday, May 7, 2018

We Have More Blooms

I think it’s finally safe to say that the warm weather is here to stay.  The days have consistently been sunny and warm, and it seems like something new blooms every day.  I love this time of year!  Here’s what’s blooming now:

The lavender petunia I bought at the plant sale at the community college.  It has more than doubled in size and blooms.

One of the snapdragons from last year.  These don't usually come back for me, so I'm pretty excited to see it making a return.  And I love the coral color.

The azalea bush on the side of the house.  Most of the azalea blooms are withering now, but this one is always a late bloomer, so it's going strong right now.

And a closeup of the azaleas.

This rosebush.  We bought it on clearance a few years ago.  It was sad and sickly, and we weren't sure it would make it.  It was puny for a year, but now it's doing well.

And a closeup of a rose.

There were several bushes planted in front of our house when we bought it.  I didn't care for most of them, so have been slowly replacing them with bushes I do like, which basically means flowering bushes.  This yellow rose bush is one of the replacements.  I like yellow roses, and I think the yellow looks nice in front of the blue house.  It was pretty small when I bought it, one gallon I think.  It makes me happy to see it growing.

And a closeup of a yellow rose.

Can you guess what my favorite season is?  What about you?  Do you love spring?  Are the flowers blooming where you are?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Mini Naan Pizzas

We found these mini garlic naan at Sam’s Club last week.  We seem to always find something not on our list that we just have to try whenever we shop there.  This time it worked out really well.

We’ve been making more of an effort to eat at home rather than going out to eat, especially when it’s just because we’re in a hurry, tired, or haven’t planned something.  We’re trying to treat going out to eat as more of an event, and less of a necessary thing.  That means sometimes we need something really fast and easy at home.  Because sometimes it’s just one of those days; it’s late, we’re tired, the kitchen is already a mess, we have a million other things to do, etc.  Fast and easy wins the day.

These mini naan pizzas are fast, easy, and delicious.  They’re about the fastest option I’ve found for pizza since the naan is already cooked and you’re really only melting cheese.  They’re pretty similar to the Summer Vegetable Pizza I’ve shared before, but don’t involve the refrigerated crust.  We have also made our own crust using the bread machine, but that process takes about an hour, so isn’t the best option when we need something in a hurry. 

Using the mini naan is great not only because it’s fast, but it’s also super easy to customize them to individual tastes.  I hate mushrooms, but Nick loves them.  I love onions, but Nick prefers not having them on his pizza.  I made two mini pizzas for each of us, and it was perfect for dinner. 

I just used the ingredients we had on hand, and didn’t measure anything, so I don’t have an exact recipe.  I think it would be pretty hard to mess these up, though, and the possibilities are almost endless, depending on the vegetables you enjoy and have on hand.

For these I used a lone squash that was lingering from last week’s produce box, a tomato, some kale from the produce box, a handful of mushrooms, part of a red onion that was left over from another meal, shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, olive oil, two garlic cloves, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Combine the garlic cloves, pressed, in about a tablespoon of olive oil (I just estimated the amount, and it was perfect for four mini pizzas) with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning, and brush over the naan. 

Sprinkle a little cheese over that.

Top with thinly sliced vegetables.  If you’re using kale I recommend putting it on first to keep it from getting too crispy on top.  Sprinkle the vegetables with a little salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

Sprinkle some more cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, basically until your cheese is nice and melted and your vegetables are starting to get tender.

Enjoy, while congratulating yourself on having pizza that was faster, cheaper, and healthier than delivery would have been.