Lightroom is Awesome!

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a workshop on Lightroom taught by Scott Jarvie.  I am just getting to know Scott through Jason; my brother-in-law, Jeremy and Twitter.  He is a well known wedding photographer in Utah and extremely generous in the sharing of his knowledge for amateurs like myself.  🙂

The workshop was free and hosted at East Bay Studios in Provo.  There were about 50 people in attendance and most of us were new to Lightroom.  In fact, several people downloaded the free, trial version of Lightroom right at the workshop.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my laptop with me so I was forced to write down my thoughts on paper and bring them home for future reference.  Scott did an awesome job teaching the basics.  He has a great sense of humor that made the time both instructional and entertaining.

I am really new to the photography stage and I am just beginning to understand the importance of a good photo processing program.  However, I like things to be simple.  Photoshop has always seemed extremely complicated to me.  After last night, I think I will be investing in Lightroom.  Scott briefly went over the whole of Lightroom and explained the 5 modules, but spent the majority of the time teaching us about the Library and Develop modules.  I found it all very user friendly and self-explanatory.  Scott told us in the beginning that he wanted to teach us the basics so that we would be able to go home and use that knowledge to solve our own problems.  He accomplished his goal.  I feel that I have a very good base to get started in editing my photos.

I was pleased that he took the time to explain some seemingly very basic things to the group that I didn’t have a very clear picture of, even though I am sure the majority of the people there already understood these concepts.  Things like, what exactly a preset is and the difference between a raw photo and a jpeg.   As I said earlier, I think Photoshop is complicated, but I was happy to learn that Lightroom can be used in conjunction with Photoshop should the need arise.  And I LOVE the ease and organization Lightroom provides to speed up and enhance work flow.

Half way through the night, everyone had the opportunity to pitch in for pizza and root beer floats.  The food was good and the conversation was even better.  I just want to thank Scott for his time and willingness to share his expertise and help us to learn what fun photography can be!  I also want to thank East Bay Studios for their hospitality!

Scott is teaching an intermediate workshop on Lightroom Thursday night at 7.  You can get all the info from Scott’s blog.  I am looking forward to attending and learning as much as I can from one of Utah’s most talented photographers!

Home-Made Butter: Worth it?

A couple nights ago, after the kids went to bed, Jason and I sat up reading for an hour or two.  I was reading one of my favorite novels and he was reading something a bit more practical.  His book was called “Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills.”  Now, those of you who know my husband know that this is a totally normal thing for him to be reading.  But he made a comment that there is a recipe in the book for home made butter.  And cream cheese.  It peeked my interest and made me curious.  So I decided to give it a try.  I had no idea how long it was going to take so I wasn’t really planning on trying it for a while.  You know, plan a day when I would have time and when I knew the kids would have other entertainments besides following my every footstep.  However, last week, as many know, we were home bound with my poor little Garion sick in bed with the flu.  What better time to experiment in the kitchen than when you can’t go anywhere.  Turns out, making butter is the easiest thing I have ever done in the kitchen.

The first thing I did was google a recipe for home made butter, made with the Kitchen Aid.  I have a great deal of respect for the women in the old days who use to churn it by hand, but I just don’t have that kind of time or motivation when we have been blessed with modern technology.  🙂  I found a recipe almost immediately on Recipezaar.  The exact link is http://www.recipezaar.com/Homemade-Butter-for-the-Kitchen-Aid-199638.  My next step, after reading the ridiculously simple instructions was to go to the store to buy whipping cream.  However, since Garion was still not really out of bed, I had Jason stop at the store on his way home.  After the kids went to bed, we made our butter.

Step One:  Pour whipping cream into Kitchen Aid with a couple granules kosher salt.  We bought a pint of cream, but only used half of it.)

Step Two: Turn on Medium to High speed.  (Take a nap.)

Step Three: After about fifteen minutes, the butter forms and separates from the buttermilk.  Turn off Kitchen Aid.  We got a bit more than 1/2 cup butter.  Which is also 4 oz or 1/4 pound.  About a rounded spoonful more.

*You can stop here if you want to.  Take your butter out and store in an air tight container.  However, we continued because I wanted to keep the buttermilk to make cinnamon rolls with.

Step Four: Squeeze butter in cheesecloth to remove the last of the buttermilk.  We got 1 cup of buttermilk.

Step Five: Enjoy!

The butter turned out pretty good.  It tastes like butter. 🙂  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was just normal butter.  I was proud of us and happy that we could make it and have it be every bit as good as what we can buy in the store.  I think next time I will add just a bit more salt.  I also think the butter would be better if we used farmers cream instead of the pasteurized stuff from the store.  But I will have to do some research to figure out where to get my hands on that kind of cream.  There are enough farmers in our area here that I am sure it can’t be too hard.

Jason and I were also speculating on the cost comparison of home made butter to store bought butter.  One pint of cream will yield about 1/4 pound of butter and about 1 cup buttermilk.  At our local grocer right now you can get one pound or 16oz of Land O Lakes butter (on sale) for $1.99.  A quart of buttermilk at the store costs about $2.85.   So to buy one pound of store made butter and 2 cups of buttermilk you are spending about $4.85.  Our local grocer also has regular 10 for $10 sales where the whipping cream goes on sale, bu I can’t remember if it is the pints or the quarts that go on sale.  If you wait for the sale, and buy your cream at $1 per pint (if it is the pints that go on sale), then you can get a little more than 1/4 pound of butter  and 1 cup buttermilk for $1.  Which then equals 16 oz or 1 pound butter and 4 cups buttermilk for $4.  That is a pretty good deal.  A little more cost on the butter, but twice as much buttermilk and then your homemade bread (or cinnamon rolls in our case) are that much better!

Anyway, it is completely dependant on the sales on whipping cream, but if you can find the cream at the right price, it is worth making the butter.  It is so simple and really pretty fun!  The left over buttermilk is an added bonus.  Enjoy!

Influenza? For Real??

Let me start this post by saying that when I think of the flu, I think of a runny nose and headache, maybe a fever and stomach ache possibly diarrhea and anything else that can go wrong with our bodies from a virus.  How many times do people get the “flu” and it is actually influenza?  Hardly ever.  At least in my experience, never.  I have only know one person ever who had the “flu” and it actually turned out to be influenza.  Everyone else was sick, but it was a virus of some sort or other that we all call the “flu” because we don’t know what else to call it.  Now I know two people who had the flu and it turned out to be the real thing.  Who knew?

On Monday morning, Garion woke up and got ready for school.  I have taken to sleeping in until about 7:20 lately, so he is usually dressed and eating breakfast by the time I make it to the kitchen.  As was the case Monday morning.  But he didn’t look right.  His clothes matched and his hair was brushed, but something was off.  He was really pale and kind of slouched over his bowl of cinnamon toast crunch.  Which was almost untouched.  Totally weird!  I asked if he was okay and he sad his head hurt.  Unfortunately, I have a hard time believing Garion these days when he says he doesn’t feel good.  It has become one of his favorite excuses to get out of school work, chores or anything else he doesn’t want to do.  Kinda like the boy who cried wolf!  So, Monday morning I told him to finish his breakfast and that food in his stomach would probably help him feel better and he better hurry up about it so he isn’t late for school.  What made me stop and take notice was his immediate agreement to my statement in a dead like voice.  The agreement would have made me do a double take anyway, he never agrees with me lately.  But the dead voice was really something.  He is either turning into a really gifted actor, or he is really is sick.  I went with the sick theory.  I got out the thermometer and took his temperature.  Sure enough, he had a fever.  So his head ache and dizziness were legit.  He stayed home from school and slept.  Around 3 pm he woke up and his face was so red it looked like he had been out riding his bike in 100 degree weather.  His fever had spiked to 105.2!!  Needless to say, I took him to the doctor the next day.

If I had more then a few minutes of speculation in the doctors office, I could have really panicked!  She was very concerned about his high fever and was ready to take blood tests for appendicitis, x-rays for pneumonia and she was feeling his neck up and down for spinal meningitis.  Then, after all this, she says “before I order any tests, we will test for the flu.”  Does the flu and spinal meningitis even fit in the same category of illness?  I consider one a “Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning” illness and the other a “Quarantine, I might die!” illness.  I was very confused.  Luckily, they swabbed him for influenza and it was positive.  A test that usually takes 5-7 minutes to test positive was positive in less then 2.  I was relieved, to say the least.  But then reality hit.  The doctor says 5 days of of and on fever and he should stay home from school.  5 DAYS!!!  This was only Tuesday!  What am I suppose to do with 3 kids home all week?  And since we don’t want to spread influenza around the other kids can’t play with their friends either.  So there are 4 of us in the house without outside influence until Saturday.  If we get lucky and no one else gets sick, we can emerge victorious on Saturday, hopefully because we will all still be in one piece, and hug the beautiful outdoors!

Dentist Drama!

About one month ago, every person in our family had an opportunity to go to the dentist and have our bi-annual cleaning.  I have always hated the dentist.  Ever since I left home and got married, I have had one bad dentist after another.  I have had painful and bad fillings and really poor bed side manner.  But finally, after about 8 years of searching, we found a dentist with expertise, good bed side manner, and a gentle hand.  He is even good with the kids.  But after yesterday, if you didn’t know this about him and were sitting in the waiting room, you may question what you were doing there!!

Lucky for us, Jason and I escaped the dentist with no cavities.  However, Garion and Kayla were not so lucky.  We try to get them to brush well!  We have tried to teach them and guide them in good dental hygiene.  But it is like talking to a blank wall sometimes.  🙂  Not all the time, but apparently more often then we thought, they are skimping on their brushing.  We kept telling them their teeth would fall out if they didn’t brush well enough.  Maybe we should have told them the truth though.  It is almost more scary.  It could have gone something like this.

“Garion and Kayla, if you don’t brush well, then you will get cavities in your teeth.  If that happens, then we have to take you to the dentist who is going to take x-rays by putting really uncomfortable square thingys in your mouth in a whole bunch of weird positions that keep you from closing your mouth without getting poked painfully in the jaw.  Then after they look at the x-rays and find all your cavities they are going to have to fill them.  Only they won’t fill them right away.  They will make you an appointment to come back in a week or two and then leave you to your imagination, dreams and horrible anticipation for all that time until it is time to go back.  On the anticipated day, you drive to the dentist (hopefully on a full stomach because you won’t be able to eat or feel or taste anything for several hours afterward), and they lay you back in the chair and put a nice orange mask on your face.  This is the gas that is suppose to help you relax.  I works wonders until they pick up the long and incredibly torturous looking syringe that they plan on shoving into your mouth.  When you heart is beating so fast you think you are going to have a heart attack, they stick it in your mouth and tell you not to move while they jam it into your gums and wiggle it around.  All the while, pulling on your lip like they want to take it off your face.  Once they are done with the shot, they leave you alone for awhile so you can get your heart back under control and wait for half of your face to go numb.  Then they come back with big smiles and tell you to open wide again so they can drill.  That’s right kids!  They pick up a drill like the one daddy uses to put holes in the walls and they put holes in your teeth to get rid of the cavities.  Once the cavity is gone, they fill the hole with some weird stuff that looks like tooth, only it isn’t and tell you to have a nice day.  And by the way, please be sure you don’t eat anything or you might just bite your tongue off since you can’t feel it.”

I think that is the story I will go with when it comes time for Brynn to go to the dentist.  Maybe she will listen to me.  Kayla refused to let me help her brush until after her dentist experience.  Now she practically begs me to help her brush every night!  And Garion brushes for a full 2 minutes or longer now if he can spare the time.  Kayla had 2 cavities and they had to be filled on different days because they were on opposite sides of her mouth.  She had both filled before Garion went in for his appointment.  I was really proud of her!  She didn’t want me next to her so I waited out in the waiting room with Brynn and watched a movie.  She didn’t cry or whine or whimper or scream or anything.  She did fabulously.  Both times.  Although, with her increase in brushing, I am sure she doesn’t want to repeat the experience. 🙂

Garion was a completely different experience.  The funny thing here is that he has had one other cavity filled in the past.  He was in and out of there the same as Kayla.  No tears or fears and I don’t even think he knew they drilled on his teeth.  They just “tickled” the cavity away. 🙂  This time, he either figured out what was happening ahead of time, or has out grown the silly terminology the dentist uses to put kids at ease.  Again, Brynn and I were in the waiting room watching a movie while Garion was taken back to the room.  About 5 or 10 minutes later, I started to hear the screaming.  Not just one scream, but several.  After about 40 seconds of non stop screaming I decided to go see what was happening.  I didn’t want Garion to be in pain, but I was more worried about the dentist.  We have always taught Garion that it it okay to defend yourself if someone else wants to hurt you.  I wasn’t sure if he would apply this lesson to the dentist with the torture syringe.  I got to the room just as the dentist was finishing and in time to hear him tell Garion that if he grabs his hands (the dentists hands) then he can’t hold the shot steady and it huts more.  Turns out the assistant had to restrain him for most of the injection.  I retreated back to the waiting room so the dentist wouldn’t feel like I was going to hang over his shoulder.  He gave me a look like I was the one at fault here!  Pshahh!!  I am not the one shoving needles in peoples mouths!  Anyway.  The rest of the appointment went pretty well.  I only heard him one other time as the dentist started to drill.  Not as loud and definitely not as long.  Then it was over.  He had a numb mouth probably until bedtime with a birthday party to go to in the  meantime.

And we are dentist free for 6 more months.  In one year, we take Brynn for the first time.  I wonder if she will be the quiet type or the screaming type?  I am sure I will be surprised.  I certainly was with the other two! 🙂