Cool Stuff I want to Win!

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Luckily Patty from Broken Teepee reminded me this morning that her giveaway has started for Corel Paint It, which I seriously want to win. You can see all the cool things she's done with it over on Priscilla's blog. It looks like so much fun to play with. You can turn pictures into watercolor paintings and other cool special effects. You can go over and enter to win here until June 9.

While I was entering this contest in every possible way I discovered that she also had 2 other giveaways going that I would totally love to win. She is giving away a $40 Gift Code to Right on the Walls to one lucky reader. She reviewed the very cool bird display at the top which you can read all about here. This giveaway ends June 1 so you need to enter soon if you are going to beat me to this one.

And finally you all know how much I love taking pictures and my favorite way to display them is to make photo books. Patty is also currently running a giveaway for a Custom Cover Photobook from CVSphoto.com/ You can enter to win this giveaway here which ends June 7.

So I think that about covers all the possible ways I can enter. I had better win at least one of them don't you think!

Happy Memorial Day!

Americana Patriotic Paper Mache Big Eye Bird with Primitive Flag

I hope that you all are enjoying your Memorial Day festivities, whatever that means to you. I have made my pasta salad and we will be heading over to my mother in law's soon for the requisite barbecue. I'm hoping that I won't do too much damage to my new diet with those irresistible cheesy potatoes.

I put together a treasury east, such a fun way to waste time, of some unique takes on Americana. You can check the entire list out here. Wouldn't it be cool if it made the front page. Of course it will never happen because Etsy would never put something up that was relevant but one can always dream.


Got my new shoes On!

I've talked before about my shoe issues. I have a strange compulsion to buy shoes but rarely wear anything other than my well worn Birkenstocks. After my broken ankle I went on a silly shopping expedition from my couch trying to find comfortable shoes that would fit my highly swollen foot, while still fitting on the good foot. This was a failed mission. I have been wearing my silver and brown birks for the past few months. The silver fit fine but the brown have a strap that cuts right at my most swollen part of the ankle, creating a bizarre bubble effect by the end of the day. I will refrain from showing you a picture for once!

I was briefly at the Warrenton Outlet Mall recently and wandered into the SAS Outlet, which stands for San Antonio Shoes. They are Handcrafted shoes made from the hands of Master Craftsmen all done with fine leather. I spotted the perfect solution to my problem. They are called The Cozy and totally live up to the name. They are so soft and felt like putting on an old friend from the first moment. The great thing about them is that they have Velcro which allows me to tighten or loosen the strap to a wide degree throughout the day as needed. I don't think they look any more old ladyish than my Birkenstocks. I can even feel good about the fact that they were handmade and can watch a video of how they are made on their website.

They also have some other styles and I might have to invest in a pair of their black shoes for the Fall. They weren't cheap but you get what you pay for. When you have foot pain you realize how important good shoes are even more strongly.


Southwest Dreaming!

So I was playing around during my lunch hour with the new treasury east on Etsy. This is their new method for curating treasuries which allows you to create a treasury at any time and it will stay active indefinitely. You can have as many treasuries active as you care to waste your time making and keeping filled. As I was doing my EC drops today I checked out the Etsy shops of the handmade bloggers I frequent and put together a Southwest themed list.

My vacation to New Mexico is less than a month away and I am getting super excited! I found some amazing items in rich colors of the Southwest including but not limited to turquoise and deep orange, two of my favorites. I tried to copy and paste it here but it came in with them one at a time. You can see it in all of its glory here, click on the items, and leave comments if you so choose.

Lenox Knit's Blog Buddies Southwest Theme

I also found some shops with great specials going on and I thought I'd share them with you:

Alterity Button Jewelry:
******Spring Special******

Three Fates Design:
FREE SHIPPING ON EVERYTHING. All sales go to help pay for Yoda's surgery and after care. Please stop by my blog for more info and updates.

Dax Designs Bead Art:
I've introduced FREE shipping to celebrate reaching 200 shop hearts this month.

Random Creative:
May 2010 special: Take 15% off and get $1.00 shipping on any item tagged "turquoise." Refunds will be issued via Paypal. Please convo me if you don't see a turquoise item that suits your needs/preferences. I'm happy to create a custom listing for you with the same deal.

Happy Goat's Soap:
Shop Special:
~~~4oz BARS 3/$11~~~3oz BARS 3/$10~~~6oz BARS 3/$15~~~

Broken Teepee Designs:
FREE worldwide shipping is included

TiLT's creations:
Clearance sale going on now on all discontinued styles...


Happy Birthday Savannah

I am pretty much worthless this weekend. I'm not feeling good and basically slept the majority of the past 24 hours. My body obviously needed some chillax time. Since I really can't come up with anything interesting to say I will just leave you with some cute images of my niece Savannah who turned "free" today. That is how it sounds when she says it anyway.

The last shot is with her very best friend who lives next door. They are quite the team let me tell you.


Kate's Big Weekend

I survived my trip to Dallas although I have been absolutely exhausted all week and my foot is incredibly swollen but all in all it was quite worth it. This weekend was Kate's first communion and although I'm not a practising Catholic nor her actual Godmother it was important that I be there for her. I have become her de-facto Godmother as her actual one doesn't remember nor seem to care that she is. Angie now just say that I am both Jess and Kate's to make it easier.
Kate is probably the closest thing to a mini me that I will ever come without a daughter of my own. She looks a bit like me with her big blue eyes and long curly hair and her spirit is all Paige. She is a true free spirit and really doesn't care what anyone thinks of her which is rare in young girls. I don't think that I developed such a complete self awareness until I was at least 18 years old.

When my sister asked Kate if she wanted to wear a veil for her first communion Kate said that she wanted to wear a feather in her hair. Angie said that she might be one of the only girls without a veil and would that bother her, Kate said no why should it. She couldn't understand why it would matter if she was the only one that did her own thing. So she wore a big white feather which my Mom was concerned looked a bit too much like a boa but I thought was perfect.

She looked just like a little bride in her long white dress and perfectly curled hair. My mom got her a pearl necklace and I got her a cross bracelet with sparkly cross earrings from Sara Libbey Jewelry.

I'm so proud of the amazing and independent person she is becoming. It was painful to leave them again and I teared up thinking about all the little events I'm missing with them so far away but I'm glad to at least be there for the big ones. There is a possible light at the end of the tunnel as my brother in law just got a new job which has a possibility of them being able to move back to Missouri in a few years. I don't think it would be fair to the girls to uplift them again this soon but at least there is some hope now.


Random Updates

So I'm making a very quick jaunt down to Dallas for the weekend. It's Kate and Savannah's birthday week and Kate has her first communion this weekend also. I'm riding with my parents and Uncle Jack which should be quite an adventure. I love each of them dearly but being in a car with the 3 of them for 10 hours is clearly too much of a good thing. I'm very sure that they would say the same about me.

Mom and Jack will be staying for another week but Dad and I will be heading back on Monday. I got us a book to listen to on the way home called A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail which I thought Dad and I would both enjoy.

I ended up buying my telephoto lens off of e-bay as I discussed here. I had to let go of the idea of getting a 75-300mm with IS for under $300. I settled on the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Lens and I am actually pretty happy with it. It was a refurbished by Canon with a UV filter for a very good price. It has a great zoom and is incredibly lightweight. It is actually lighter than my 18-87mm. If I could do it all over again though I would definitely go for a single lens that covered all of that range like the Tamron AF 18-250mm. You live and learn and I'm happy with both of my lenses so I'm not going to complain.
The above shots were from last week, prior to the new lens, when I took Ani out for a little adventure. She was a bit scared of the old cemetery which I was surprised by. I think of it as a really cool place to photograph and forget about the creepy factor. When we were leaving and I was apologizing for making her uncomfortable she said, "sometimes I think you forget that I'm only nine Aunt Paige." I laughed and said that she was probably right. The other two shots are from driving around some back roads. The little orchard I caught right at the "golden hour" of dusk as my teacher calls it.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend. I'm sure I'll have some stories to tell from the trip when I get back.


Random Recipe

Last week when I was cooking one of our favorite pasta dishes I randomly decided to take pictures of the process. I can't even remember what cook book I found this recipe in but I do remember when I read the ingredients I thought this is so random it has to be good. It's a super fast fix and Mike literally licks his plate every time. It's actually healthy and has a very distinct and different taste which is surprisingly tasty. The ingredients:

Whole wheat spaghetti
Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
can of tuna
Olive oil
Tin of anchovies
Parmesan cheese

I usually throw in a can of black olives but I didn't have any on hand last week. First you prepare the spaghetti noodles. Once the water is boiling and I've added the spaghetti to the pot I will start the sauce. First I pour the contents of the tin of anchovies into a pan and cut them up into small pieces. When I first started making this I just used a third of the anchovies, then I moved to half and now I use the whole tin. Anchovies are an acquired taste but they are the key ingredient that take this sauce from ordinary to something special. I add some extra olive oil and once you can start to smell the anchovies I pour the undrained can of tomatoes into the pan.
This is when I would also usually add the black olives and as I like the black olive flavor I will use the juices in the bottom of the can. I let this simmer on medium heat until there is about 2 minutes left on the pasta timer and then I add the drained can of tuna. I usually add some Italian seasoning or fresh basil on hand.
I then pour this mixture onto the pasta and mix it up good. I sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and it's done.

I have been really slacking off with my diet and cooking lately. We've been eating out way too much and I've not gone to a weight watcher's meeting in over a year. I'm at my most unhealthy weight ever which is something I've struggled with most of my adult life. Mike is trying to get me motivated again because when we work together as a team we have been able to lose weight and be much healthier and happier together.


And now for some knitting

For class this week we are supposed to bring in our best 8 shots of the week. That is double what we normally do and forced me to do some serious work this weekend. I know it doesn't sound like much but when you know that they are going to be blown up to life size and analyzed it pushes you to do your best. I decided to do some shots of my knitting for fun and practice.

I haven't taken any product shots with my new camera yet and probably won't be doing too much for a little while. On-line scarf sales are non-existent in the summer months but I may try to get some things ready for the fall as time goes on. I feel much more confident in being able to get shots that really showcase my knitting now. I may try to set up a little studio in my basement with some lights I bought a long time ago but never figured out how to use. My teacher told me to diffuse them with cheese cloth to get that soft lightening effect.

I took these on my sun porch with a white standing board for science fair projects ($3.99) for the backdrop. I used a low aperture to get the shallow depth of field that gives them an artier effect. I always wanted to be able to do that with my old camera but now I finally have the proper equipment and knowledge to put it to use.

Mike and Ani both hate the mannequin head in the above shot (one of the few things they actually agree on). They say that she is cross eyed and creepy looking. I don't think that is so apparent in pictures but what do you think? She is handmade paper mache and I got her second hand for a very good price.
This one is a hat and scarf set that I really like. I used organic wool which is super soft and has a nice subdued color palette.


Carbon Neutral Blog!

carbon neutral coupons and shopping with kaufDA.de

I know I kind of missed the boat on celebrating Earth Day here but I want to share a few ways to make a change here. First I have seen a few posts recently about making your blog carbon neutral. I finally took the time to check out the site and decided to participate. I don't consider myself a particularly wasteful person in general and we make every effort to recycle and keep our consumer waste as low as possible. But if you think about it we all use power whether batteries on our laptop or electrical power on our desktop to keep our little blogs afloat. The mission of the German group My blog is Carbon Neutral is to plant a tree to neutralize the effects of every participating blog. Here is their mission from the website:
“My blog is carbon neutral” is an initiative, originally started in Germany by the “Make it green” programme, that has the goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We plant a tree for your blog and thereby neutralise your blog’s carbon footprint for the next 50 years! Everyone can make a small contribution to the environment. Every tree counts!
It's super easy. You just post the button on your sidebar, write a post about the movement, and e-mail them a link. They take care of planting the tree in Plumas National Forest in California. How cool is that.

I also wanted to let you know about another easy way to be a little more green. The Energy Efficient NOW website has a great offer right now to receive two
free Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Lightbulbs! "These low-consumption lightbulbs are environmentally friendly, using only 25% of the electricity consumed by incandescent (traditional) lightbulbs. Save the environment and save big money on your electrical bill at the same time (Approximately 30$ per bulb - We're saving you 60$ in addition to the cost of the lightbulbs!)"

Their website is full of information on ways to save energy in your household or business. Mike and I have replaced most of our lightbulbs with CFL but there are a few in the basement that we can now change when we get the free ones in the mail.


Obsess Much?

Ever since my photography class last week I've been absolutely obsessing about having the proper equipment for our trip to New Mexico in June. Our teacher was telling us all the different types of lenses we should have, when to use them, and everything else that is a must for an aspiring photographer. I went home and immediately bought a few things that I could afford right away including a travel tripod called the Tiffen Voyager and a filter set for my main lens which includes an (UV) Filter, Circular Polarizer, and 812 Warming Filter with a Pouch. I have a nice tripod that a friend gave me which I use for photographing my knitting but I needed one that is lightweight and that I could carry with me. Mike said that I'm going overboard which is probably true but if we can afford it why not.

She also told me that I must have a telephoto lens which I am now searching frantically for something I can justify buying. I don't want to spend much more than $200 after just buying 2 lenses not too long ago as I discussed here. This means that I will have to buy a used lens which doesn't worry me too terribly much since my teacher says she buys used all the time and most people treat their lenses like their babies. I've been stalking e-bay to try and find one in in the 75-300mm range which should be fine for me right now. I'm well aware that I will probably be replacing it in a year when I can afford to buy one for $500-600, which I'm finding to be the price range of decent lenses.

I just hate waiting for an e-bay auction to draw to a close. There are a few of them that I've been obsessively stalking. One has 2 days left and the other 7. If I don't win one of those I'm afraid I will have to lower my expectations and either buy one without Image Stabilization or a smaller range.

I don't exactly know where this photography bug is leading but I feel the need to follow the passion wherever it takes me. One of the biggest advantages of being childless is that we have the time and some disposable income to spend on our flights of fancy. The pictures above were taken with my favorite little lens the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 last week at St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery.


Camera Regrets

Remind me to never listen to Mike again. He convinced me to leave my good camera at home last night and to just bring my Point and Shoot. I was kicking myself the whole time that I wasn't able to capture the randomness of the night. We went down to 2720 Cherokee in South City to see a friend's folk band play. It's a warehouse type venue with large art installations everywhere and lots of interesting people that would have made cool shots if I'd had the proper equipment.

Upstairs there was a fashion show going on when we got there for Vixen's Wardrobe, a St. Louis based designer who makes very urban and flashy clothes. There were lots of bright colors and I could have gotten some great shots if I'd had my fast camera. The purple dress was my favorite from the show, although to be honest I was definitely not the target market for her collection. It was funny to see the hippies wander in from the downstairs, and I got annoyed when some of them were eating up the food that the designers had obviously put out for the potential buyers.

It was supposedly The River City Buskers last show together so we figured we had better get out and see them before it was too late and we were not disappointed. Mike went to high school with Ryan Spearman and we've been to a solo show of his before and really enjoy his folksy sound. You could tell that the group had been together for many years and really enjoyed playing with each other. I'm sure it will be hard for them to let go of that comradery but life does get in the way. Ryan is the only person I know that actually makes a living off of his music but I know it can't be easy as you reach a certain age to keep living the dream. This is the only halfway decent shot I got of Ryan and it's really grainy because I had to have the ISO so high.

The one thing I will say is that I was a little bit grateful that I didn't have my good camera as were were walking to our car over a block away after midnight in a not so nice part of town. But I sure would like to see what pictures I would have gotten if I'd had my good camera cause I'm pretty sure it would have been worth that few moments of unease.

(c) Lenox Knits, 2009|Created by NSD