Winner! Winner! – Monday September 27, 2010

The random number generator at gave me the number


and the 16th comment happens to come from Elaine!

Congratulations, Elaine! Send me your mailing address and I will get your calendar out into the mail right away!

To the rest of you who participated, thanks so much for your input! Wish I could send each one of you a calendar! If I do get some printed this year, I will let you know how and where you can purchase them if you so desire.

Thanks, too, for all your kind and generous compliments. Seriously, I wasn’t digging for them!  I do appreciate your vote of confidence.  

Calendar Giveaway – Friday September 24, 2010

So, you want a free calendar? Good, because I need to do some marketing research and I thought this would be a good way to con bribe you into helping me. I’ve been rolling around in my head the idea of making a calendar. The biggest problem with this is making sure there’s a market for it. Getting a few printed is expensive and more than most if not all of us are willing to pay. Getting quantities produced is the way to go, but then finding retail places for them is the key.

They are, shall we say, a dated product and have an expiration date unlike many other printed products.

So here’s what I’m giving away:

1 – 11×17 (when opened up) calendar
featuring art by yours truly. It is professionally printed on thick cardstock, guaranteed not to curl.

sample 1

sample 2

I don’t like their month layout AT ALL, but they gave me no choice on these. Any bulk productions will be better than this, I promise.

And since the winner will get one free, you’re not allowed to complain. I may, however, protest loudly. har har

Some more images that are included:

page 4c.jpg

page 9.jpg

page 8.jpg

I did some editing on these that make them looks less like photographs and more like art. Here is a closeup of one of them:

sample 100%

and the full page:

page 8b.jpg

So, this is what you need to do to enter this giveway:

Tell me what you typically spend or are willing to spend on a calendar
(and if you are cheap like me, don’t be embarrased to admit you wait for free ones from the bank or get $2 ones from Big Lots that later end up curling so bad you promise you will always pay for better quality next time).


This contest will end on Sunday night, September 26, at midnight your time. A random drawing will choose the winner, which will be announced first thing Monday morning. If the winner can get me his/her address right away, I will get it out in the mail by Tuesday. So leave your entry and then check back on Monday morning.

You do not need to be a xanga member. My comments are set to allow “Anonymous” to leave comments as well. However, PLEASE leave at least your first name in the anonymous entry form or in your comment. Any comments left completely anonymous with no name will be subject to disqualification. (I love using big words.)

Thanks and have at it!


Topaz Samples – Monday September 13, 2010

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I was trying out some software that I was having lots of fun with. It has options for over-the-top editing that I won’t even bother showing you since it’s not my type.

The software is Topaz Adjust and it is a plug-in (works along side an editing program) that I use with PSP X2, which is the only editing software I use at this point.

Geneva mentioned seeing some before and after so here are a few:


topaz samples 13b.jpg


topaz samples 13.jpg


topaz samples 20b.jpg


topaz samples 20.jpg


topaz samples 23b.jpg


topaz samples 23.jpg


topaz samples 25b.jpg


topaz samples 25.jpg

topaz samples 29b.jpg


topaz samples 29.jpg

Here are some more afters that I didn’t post the befores.

topaz samples 18.jpg

topaz samples 19.jpg

topaz samples 14.jpg

topaz samples 16.jpg

topaz samples 15.jpg

topaz samples 10.jpg

 topaz samples 8.jpg


Back to Cooking

Seriously, I can’t quite remember the last time I cooked a full meal (except for dessert). I think it was close to a month ago. And I know you moms are freaking out about that. But not to worry, the grass isn’t usually greener on the others side and all that.  When you have two singles living in the house who work full time, and then the schedule had my sister out of town one weekend and then both of us another weekend, and another weekend we were involved with workings of a funeral, we just didn’t get too much cooking done.

I know I’ve had lots of sandwiches the last while and simple things like cracker soup. Does anyone besides my family know what that is?

Tonight there was thawed sirloin steaks so I decided to make a real meal for a change. We don’t often buy steak and roasts but my parents had 2 steers butchered this summer and we were able to get meat for a very good price. But since I don’t cook sirloins very often and just enough to know they can be chewy, I googled some recipe suggestions and a simmered version sounded good. The only thing was, it called for meat, onions, canned mushrooms and water. No seasonings mentioned but that’s not a problem. I thought some greens would be a nice addition so I bought a bag of turnip greens washed, chopped and ready to cook. Cheater.

Steak supper 2.jpg

I also bought boneless ham hock to add to it for flavoring.

Steak supper 1.jpg

Here it is before I started cooking it.

Steak supper 3.jpg

Meanwhile I trimmed the fat off the sirloin and started pan frying it in a little olive oil. I sprinkled them liberally with season salt and Morton’s seasoning blend, Nature’s Seasoning.

Steak supper 4.jpg

After I flipped them, I threw in sliced onion. We love onion so the more the deliciouser.

Steak supper 5.jpg

Added more Nature’s Seasoning and then added 3 or so cups of water and about 1/2 red cooking wine. [Edited to add: that’s supposed to be 1/2 c. red cooking wine, lest anyone is sure that my problem below was from the bottle.  ]

Steak supper 6.jpg

I covered this and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the stove the greens had greatly shrunk, as they are wont to do.

Steak supper 9.jpg

We interrupt this cooking post to bring you a commercial.

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Steak supper 7.jpg

The jar that preserves your sanity by preserving your preserves.
(I would never make it very far in marketing.)

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These jars got filled too full with applesauce last fall and instead of the jars cracking, the tops just popped off, rings and all. The lid was so bowed it hardly stayed in the ring. I’m assuming, though, that the applesauce was slow enough in freezing that it didn’t give the jars any concern.

Meanwhile, back on the stove, I added the mushrooms to the steak and onions to simmer a while. We like mushrooms as much as we like onions. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve typed “garlic” for a very long time on this site. Probably months. Not that we haven’t used any. I think I’ve canned over 50 pints of dill pickles and pickled okra this year. I am finished for this year. I gave some of the okra away as birthday gifts. So glad my friends don’t think I’m strange.

Anyway, about the mushrooms, we don’t buy the fresh ones very often but it is nice to use them while they are still very fresh and white.

Steak supper 8.jpg

I kind of only like the small white ones the best. Looking at portabellas kind of gives me the heebie jeebies, whatever they are.

steak supper 10.jpg

After simmering for about 15 minutes without the lid, there was nice rich au jus so I dipped the meat and veggies out and started making a little gravy. It was lumpier than wanted it so I poured it into a jar to blenderize it and just as I was lifting the heavy iron skillet over the jar, I bumped it and it went crashing to the floor.

No, I’m serious. I bet you didn’t see that coming!! I didn’t either, neither did my skirt or shirt, or kitchen cabinets for that matter.

Steak supper 11.jpg

Talk about a perfect mess!!! Sticky and there went my delicious au jus!

After I cleaned it up I had to make a roux with flour and oil and then added cream and milk. I didn’t even have beef broth or bouillon to add to it.

And mostly all’s well that ends well. It was good, just had a different flavor than I was hoping and my floor had some extras cleaned up from it.

Steak supper 12.jpg

And it still needed more salt. Mercy how one can add salt to things. And we’re not even salt freaks. We probably make it less salty than a lot of people.

steak supper 13.jpg

Imagine a glass of freshly brewed iced tea to go with it.


More Lake HDR

Another summer evening rain. As Murphy’s Law would have it, as soon as I arrived at the lake, it started sprinkling. If you see any spots on this photo, it’s the sun glinting off the raindrops.

hdr lake 10.jpg


I have many shots of these cypress trees. It is always hard to make them standout from the green background behind them. And now it appears that the county must have sprayed the weeds since they were dying along edge. I guess that just adds another color to the pic.

hdr lake 8.jpg

This next one is one of my favorite HDRs. I’m not often at the right place at the right time to get the sun coming out from the clouds quite like this. It was taken behind our church. I was able to get 5 shots to combine into one. The only thing I wish you could see more off is the pond beyond the gate.

hdr lake 9.jpg

If you’re tired of HDR, raise your hand! I see your hand in the back there. I will try to abstain from posting any for a while.