Off the Deep End: Going Pond Swimming

Hello, dears!

This is a sad subject to talk about, but the truth is… we are in our last month of summer. *SNIIIIFF* As everyone knows, summer is for swimming, but as not everyone knows, we have sadly only gone swimming three times this year. The only pools we have are ponds and streams at our new farm, and one of those ponds is a mudhole while the other is usually covered in duckweed. Yay. However, we still managed to get wet and have fun!

So, in case you ever thought about going swimming in a pond or lake but simply didn’t know how to go about it, NEVER FEAR. I have gleaned much wisdom from the past three swimmings that I’m sure will come in handy. *nods gravely* XD XD XD Ahem. Continue reading

Macro Photography + Lens Review

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Hello, dears!

Well that was a rather unanticipated mini-hiatus, huh? I think this is the longest break from blogging I’ve taken in… I don’t know, a very long time. 😛 As usual, it was because of our agonizingly slow internet and hectic moving schedule. *sigh* Anyway, I won’t elaborate on my excuses anymore – must make the most of fast Wi-Fi while I have it! XD

Today I am excited to present a review of this Fotodiox Macro Extension Tube Kit, plus some close up pictures I got with it!

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I got the kit for Christmas but have only lately really learned how to use it. It definitely has its quirks and difficulties, but overall I LOVE it and I’ve had so much fun playing with it.

The kit comes with five pieces…

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only three of which are the actual extensions (the other two attach the extensions to the lens and camera body).

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The extensions are 28mm, 14 mm, and 7 mm: the higher the number, the more macro the photo will be. You can screw them on and off individually and in any combination. The pieces all seem very sturdy. It IS a little hard to screw the normal camera lens onto the respective attachment, but it works okay.

Here are some variations of… um macro-ness? XD

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The amazing thing about this kit is that it’s only $12.59 on Amazon! Isn’t that incredible? Considering how high lenses – or really anything DSLR related – usually cost, I think it’s a huge bargain.

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Now granted, it isn’t the easiest to use at first, as aforementioned, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty fun.

For one thing, you have to use manual mode. This isn’t a problem for me because I always do anyway, but it’s something to consider.

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You also have to manually focus the lens, by which I mean move your camera back and forth until you get just the right distance away from it that the subject is (mostly) in focus. This makes it practically impossible to get a clear picture of a moving subject or an object that’s spiky or generally not very flat, like these:

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Not surprisingly, the longer your lens extends, the closer up it gets. Also basically the closer up you get, the harder it is to take pictures. Because besides the things I just said, one, it will require pretty bright light (or high ISO/low shutter speed) to compensate for the zoom; and two, it will have a TINY f-stop/aperture, which means the portion of the picture in sharp focus is very small, like the first picture below.

(By the way, this EXTREMELY WEIRD thing is called a cedar apple – and no, it’s not edible. XD You should look them up – they’re so strange!)

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You can see how much more subject area is in focus when you use a 14mm versus a 28mm:

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And I believe this is just with the 7mm, although I’m not entirely sure what extensions I used for any of these pictures because it’s rather hard to keep track of. XD

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I prefer to use something like the 7mm + 14 mm instead of all three together. Even the 7 mm by itself is a lot of fun, though it isn’t super macro. However, you can still get some super neat photos with the full extension, it’s just a bit harder to work with:

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One thing I love about these extensions is how soft and dreamy they make the lighting. ❤ They’re also super good for bokeh, although this specific picture isn’t a great example of that…

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The colors are also usually quite vibrant, as you can see here. I didn’t edit this at all!

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And there you have it! I hope you guys found the review helpful and interesting. 🙂 Before I go I wanted to show you a few more macro photos I’ve taken recently. Enjoy!

Weeds are great for macro photography because they look a lot prettier closer up. 😉

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I also love how the extensions work with water drops! (Well let’s be honest – I just love water drop photography in general. XD)

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Another photography subject I love is eyes. ❤ I tried to get some shots of my own eyes, but it was pretty hard to do as a selfie. :[] Oh well, I think the blurry ones still actually look pretty!

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Ahh, I really like this last one! Se the reflection of me holding the camera? It looks like my pupil is the lens. 😀

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OKAY OKAY I LOVE THESE NEXT ONES TOO EEP. I’ve always wanted to get a good picture of a cat’s eye, and I finally did! Ahh, the color and texture is just gorgeous. ❤

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Good thing Tom was sleepy or he would have moved around way too much. XD

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Hee hee, isn’t his nose cute?

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This is an ear, in case you were wondering. XD I actually like the softness of this picture too.

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I could go on, but this is a long post already, so we’ll stop here. XD *sigh* That was fun.

So tell me. Would you consider buying this extension kit? What was your favorite photo? Do you like taking close-ups, or do you prefer a different genre?

Thanks for reading, dears, and have a wonderful day! ❤

***Allison***

P. S. I was going to do photography tips in this post, but then I was like, “Clara has done such a good job saying what I would just repeat, so…” XD Click here to read a super helpful and beautiful post with lots of great photography tips! And follow her blog while you’re at it – IT’S ABSOLUTELY WONDERMOUS. ❤ 😉

If you DO happen to have any photography questions left over afterwards, by all means please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them, perhaps in a later post. 🙂

More Art :)

Halloo, my friends! I’ve been drawing a lot lately, so I decided to show you what I’ve been working on…

Like a random watercolor flower. XD

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I’m kinda proud of this quote because it took me like ten tries to get the lettering right. XD Well actually it isn’t really a quote because I made it up, but you know… 😛

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Hee hee! Isn’t this one funny? I made it for an Art Class assignment – art inspired by your favorite smell.

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A not too interesting but pretty landscape…

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Ugh, the sun was a bit harsh so there are way too many shadows on this picture, but oh well. This is a mixed media piece with tissues for the curtains and rug ( XD ), piano book pages for the sun rays, scrapbook paper for the bedcovers, and duct tape for the window. The rest is just drawing or watercolor.

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Another art assignment. 🙂 (Actually a lot of these are art assignments.) We were supposed to do Pop Art, so I did a gummy bear because we were eating them in class anyway. XD

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Random birds on a wire. 🙂

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Ooh, this is one of my favorites! I really like how the pattern turned out 3-D-ish.

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For some reason I felt like drawing mountains…

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And more mountains…

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I don’t really know why I drew this… XD

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This was a “Forced Perspective” piece for art class.

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Excuse my fingers. 😛

Weird cubism bird…

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I decided to include this even though I already posted about here for Art Lab. 😉 I think this is one of my favorite pieces of art I’ve ever done!

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Yikes, this is a terrible picture! Oh well, you get the point. I did a mixed media quote/hymn thingy. 🙂 I used tissue paper, book pages, buttons, paint, and even paper clips and corn kernels to make the flowers and leaves! XD

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I felt like drawing a girl. Not much other explanation. XD

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This is another of my very favorites! I really like the Zentangle/doodle type of art.

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It’s kind of hard to take a picture of the whole thing, so here’s just the head so you can see it a bit better. 🙂

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One reason why I like this so much is because it took FOREVER to make. XD Especially the mane – I made a herringbone pattern with a super fine-tip pen. It was fun, but quite time consuming. XD

Which do you see first, a face or two trees and a moon?

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I got inspiration from Pinterest for this one (and for some of these other art pieces too). I like how it turned out!

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That was fun. 🙂 As you can see, I rather like art! Do you? Which of those pictures was your favorite? What is your favorite art medium to use?

***Allison***

The Art Lab, Episode 23: How to Draw a Realistic Eye

I am so excited to show you guys this episode of Art Lab! As you may know, I absolutely love drawing and photographing eyes, so I thought this would be a fun post to do. 🙂

Art Inspiration:

The inspiration for today is this amazing tutorial (also shown below). The end result seriously looks like a photo, doesn’t it?

The reflection is what I have trouble with...:

AHHHH, I love it! Mine looks more like a drawing and less like a photo, but I’m still quite pleased with how it turned out. 😀

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It was sooo much fun to draw! Today I’m going to show you a few tips and tricks I’ve learned from this and other tutorials and help you avoid some common mistakes. Now I am NOT saying I don’t make mistakes, because I do, and plenty of ’em! When you make a mistake you can’t fix, sometimes you just have to figure out what went wrong and start over. I know you’ve heard this about 2 billion times in your life, but seriously: if you want to get good at something, art included, just keep practicing! Sometimes you have to fail once or several times before you succeed.

Mistake #1: Eyelashes

Eyelashes can be incredibly hard to draw, am I right? They give me a lot of trouble sometimes. But here are some things to keep in mind that might help.

  • Most people’s eyelashes are not perfectly straight and thick like American Girl Doll eyelashes. It’s a sad fact of life, my friends. (Actually, maybe not so sad – that would be kind of creepy. XD ) Look in the mirror: eyelashes cross over each other and are often bunched together in little clusters.eye 11 (1280x853)
  • Lashes aren’t as thick and dark at the top as at the bottom. Press your pencil down hard when you start at the base of the eyelash and not as much as you curve the line upwards.
  • Peoples’ bottom set of eyelashes can actually be pretty long (or not, depending on the person). Draw them lighter and more sparsely than the top set. And again, they aren’t perfectly straight and thick. I think eyelashes in the bottom set cross over each other especially much. (Look at the “Art Inspiration” at the beginning of this post for an example.)

Mistake #2: The White of the Eye

Often people leave the white of the eye just that – blank white. But the truth is, your eyelid and eyelashes cast shadows on it, so it’s not perfectly white. Shade and smudge around the inner edges of your eye to make it really pop.

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Now that you know what to avoid, I wanted to do a little tutorial for you guys. I already showed you the super amazing, super realistic tutorial for the art inspiration, but it was a bit hard to follow, wasn’t it? This tutorial should be easier to follow, even if it’s not as amazing. 😉

Step 1: Draw the shape of the eye. It’s a rounded almond shape, wider or thinner depending on the person. Don’t forget to add a rounded triangle thingy for the tear duct.

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Step 2: Draw the iris, pupil, and highlight. (I just did a simple circle highlight for this tutorial.) Don’t draw the iris as a complete circle because you can’t see the whole iris in real life unless you’re opening your eye really wide. Sketch out the pupil until you find a satisfactory size – a too-small pupil can end up looking kind of weird.

Now add a curved line for the eyelid on top and another curved line at the bottom.

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Step 3: Every person’s iris is different, but for this tutorial I went with sort of a starburst pattern. It’s okay if it isn’t perfect because it’s not always perfect in real life! Add a bunch of irregular dark lines coming out from the pupil.

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Step 4: Color in the pupil the darkest you can and try to pull out the dark pigment into those lines surrounding it.

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Step 5: Ooh, this is an exciting step! Finish the iris by adding more dark, inward pointing lines around the outside of the iris. Shade the top of the iris darker – remember those shadows! I smudged the pencil a bit in the middle of the iris where the starburst was to blend everything together.

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Step 6: Woohoo, looking good! See what a difference those shadows make? Shade the top of the eye, the corners of the eye, and the tear duct. Smudge the pencil with your fingers to smooth out the shading.

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Step 7: Add the eyelashes, and ta-daa! For extra credit and realism, you can shade the skin around the eye too, which I didn’t show here. (Note: Oops, the eyelashes didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. I think I should have made them darker, longer, but not as close together. Remember what I was saying about making mistakes? Heh heh. XD Oh well, better luck next time!)

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And there you have it! I hope this post was helpful to all you wonderful artists out there. 🙂 Do you have any tips for drawing eyes to share with me and the other readers?

Happy drawing! 😀

***Allison***

P. S. If you want to see another fun tutorial for drawing eyes, be sure to check out Anika’s post here! Her tutorial is super easy to follow (unlike mine maybe, heh heh) and shows you how to draw pretty, colorful eyes with pen and watercolors. I especially love all the expressions she did with the eyes at the end. XD 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Photography

I absolutely love Clara’s random photography posts, so I thought I would try to do a similar kind since I have plenty of random photos anyway. 🙂 I hope you enjoy!

Random Topic #1: Spring

I was about to say that spring is on the way, but then again, it’s 29 degrees outside, so… XD But the daffodils are blooming and the grass is getting green, so you at least THINK spring is here until you go outside.

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Ohhhh pictures like this make me happy with the golden sunshine on the green, green grass. So pretty!

Random Topic #2: Bonfire Days

I already wrote a post about a huge bonfire we had recently, but there were a few extra bonfire-related photos I didn’t show.

The fire was so hot that we couldn’t get close enough to roast hot dogs, so my grandaddy though of an ingenious solution! He hauled out some long, hollow metal poles and stuck the roasting sticks in the end. That way you could move them around from a safe distance. XD My uncle and brother, not to be outdone, just got up close to the fire and shielded themselves by putting their jackets over their heads. It was quite the hilarious scene, but it worked!

Oh, and we also cooked potatoes, but the photo of that was terrible, so I decided to leave it out. 😉 But that’s a really fun thing to do at a bonfire: wrap a few potatoes in aluminum foil, poke some holes in them with a fork, and bury them in hot coals from the fire. Apparently we left ours in a bit too long, because they had a nice thick shell of blackened potato around the edges ( XD XD ), but they were quite tasty in the middle! Hee hee!

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Isn’t this picture so funny? XD

Megan and I took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. That was confusing. XD

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Aww, Maggie dear!

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Another fun thing we did was play with glow sticks. We started by tossing them around out in the field, and discovered that if the person carrying the glow stick ran far enough into the darkness, the glow stick really looked like it was floating when they waved it around. It was so weird. After that, we cracked some of them open and drew on our hands. XD Probably NOT the wisest idea, because there is actually a tube of glass inside glow sticks that cracks too when you break it. So yeah, maybe not a good thing to “try at home”… but it was fun while it lasted! XD And it looked really weird – like you were glowing from the inside out.

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Random Topic #3: Eyes

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I really like photographing and drawing eyes. I think they’re fascinating, and extra beautiful up close! I had fun editing these photos.

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Ohhh my goodness I love this photo so much! This is my friend’s eye, which I edited to look bluer than it really is. (But it is still so beautiful in real life!)

Eh, the pictures of my eye aren’t nearly as pretty, but I like all the different rings of color. 🙂 My eyes are definitely brown from a distance, but colorful up close.

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This is a fun angle! It makes my eyelashes look super long, hehe. O.o XD

Random Topic #4: A Beauteous Sunset

Even if you haven’t been following my blog for very long, you might know that I also have a weakness for sunsets. XD I love how they’re all different, but all glorious (well, most of them)! I took these pictures at my grandparent’s house. The sunset was quite unique that night – the clouds looked like a washboard or something!

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I edited this one (as you can tell).

Random Topic #5: Yummy Lemon Pies

Mom found this delicious recipe in the latest edition of “The Magnolia Journal” magazine. I tried it out, and it was pretty yummy and VERY rich. 🙂 One thing that we noticed is it could use a little bit more lemon juice next time. I didn’t fill the 2/3 cups super full since I was squeezing real lemons and I wanted to have an extra lemon for garnish.

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I am quite happy with how the editing turned out on these photos. They still aren’t anything extraordinary, but they sure are better than this: *shudder* I did lots of different things, but some of the main ones were cooling the temperature of the photo, boosting highlights, and using the fancy focus and miniature effects.

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Ugh. 😦

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Random Topic #6: Party Food

While we’re on the topic of food… XD

This has been a while – my little sister’s birthday was the middle of January, heh heh. XD But anyway, better late than never, right? My mom always makes us a custom cake, and my sister chose a fox. Mom saw this great idea for a coconut fox cake on Pinterest, and it turned out adorable! She also made fox cupcakes, but I didn’t get pictures of those.

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For my sister’s birthday supper she chose bananas as one of her sides. 😀 I had fun playing around with banana “tattoos” to make them more special 😛 It’s actually really simple: just poke holes in the peel with a toothpick, and soon the holes will darken by themselves. So fun!

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Ugh, sorry about the bad lighting. :/

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Random Topic #7: Uh… I’m Not Sure What to Call This…

Heh heh. I just had two lonely pictures leftover, which I took on the day of the rabbit photoshoot. So here they are!

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Well that was rather anti-climatic. XD

 

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Well, that’s about it, folks! So what do you think? Do you like this kind of post? What was your favorite random topic?

Thanks for reading!

***Allison***

Bunny Swap

I have some adorable news for you…

We got a new bunny! 😀 And we sold another bunny, which I realized I had never even posted about. O.o First, the “old” bunny. We got Pippin on the day we found Willow’s babies, so I guess he was kind of overshadowed in all the excitement, poor thing. He is a New Zealand/Silver Fox mix, and we got him to breed with Diamond, Lily, and Olaf (yes, Olaf is a girl XD ).

Sorry Pippin, I didn’t take many pictures of you. :/

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 I love this picture of his eye! You can see the reflection so clearly!

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He loves to poke his nose into Snickers’ cage. XD

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So why did we sell him? Well I didn’t think we needed him in the first place because we couldn’t sell his babies for as much money as we could with Snickers and Willow. But Megan and my brother Jeff both really wanted to get him, so we did. 😉 Once we got Snickers, we decided to sell him to help pay for Snickers – and also because that would be too many bunnies to keep at once!

Why did we get Snickers? Some of you know that he used to be my friend Mallory’s bunny, but she decided to sell him since she didn’t play with him much anymore. 😦 We bought him to breed with Willow because that was quite a success last time, and also possibly to breed with Clemmie. And also because he is ADORABLE! See what I mean?

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SUCH CHUBBY CHEEKS! 😀

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So squishy! 😀 Is your cuteness meter filled yet?

*Happy sigh* I love bunnies. ♥

***Allison***

P. S. Speaking of bunnies, did you know that Clemmie hurt her eye? One of the bunnies (we don’t know which one) bit her close to her eye, and now she probably won’t be able to see out of it anymore. *SNIFF* Poor Clemmie. 😦

P. P. S. On a happier note, Rebekah wrote an amazing chapter for WordCrafters! You can read it on the WordCrafters 2 page here. The story is getting so exciting!

Casey the Cute

The other day I felt like taking pictures of Casey, so I did. I took a lot of pictures. (Somehow that seems to be a recurring theme… XD )And since I know how much my dear readers like pet pictures, it follows from simple logic that I should post a few of the aforementioned pictures on my blog.

Sooo… I present…

CASEY THE CUTE!

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AWWW!

 

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My cousin said Casey was praying. XD

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Aww! Casey sleeps in the weirdest places. XD She sleeping on top of our computer desk in this picture. (By the way, that black thing with numbers on it is our Weather Center. 😉 )
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I love this picture! I just kind of got it by accident.

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Casey acts like a dog sometimes. She loves to be around people, and she eats almost anything! XD She apparently loves corncobs that someone unwisely put on the floor for her to eat. XD

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Her eyes… ♥

 

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I love how cats eyes look from the side – like glass marbles.
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Selfie! XD
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It looks like Casey is dreaming of ballerina cats.

Do you agree with me? Is she not ADORABLE?!

 

***Allison***

Life on the Farm + BIBPC

I thought I’d do a little post about what’s been going on around the farm lately. Heh heh, it kind of turned out to be a big post, but anyway…

The main thing that Dad has been doing is harvesting corn. Some of the corn grew almost 15 feet tall this year! That’s really tall, even for corn.

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Ahh, so peaceful.
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Dad uses a GPS system to plant his corn in nice straight rows.

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The corn harvester (or chopper, as we call it) is on the left.

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For Nature Study this week we learned about corn. Even though I already knew a lot about how it looked, it was neat to learn the reasons behind corn’s appearance. Here are a few fun facts:

  • If you break a corncob in half, supposedly there will always be an even number of kernels around the circumference!
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    Corn stalks look kind of like bamboo, with little “joints” at intervals. These joints are called “nodes” and they help strengthen the stalk while still keeping it elastic enough to survive strong winds.

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    Corn has the parts of a flower, even though you can’t see any pretty blossoms. The tassels are the stamen, and the silk is actually the pistil. Pollen falls from the tassels through the silk (yes, each piece of silk is actually a tiny tube!) to pollinate the seeds (corn kernels).

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    There is one piece of silk for each kernel! If a corncob isn’t fully filled out, it’s because the kernel wasn’t pollinated correctly.

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    When it’s really dry, the leaves of the corn roll up to preserve moisture.

Here are the two corn pages in my nature notebook:

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Wow. How amazing is the attention to detail God has shown in this seemingly simple plant?!

So there’s your mini nature study for today. 😉

Now for BIBPC. This is the poster I made to get extra points. 😉

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And this is my entry! The category was “Shiny.”

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Story Behind the Photo: I took this picture of Violet, a barn cat, several months ago. She has super pretty green eyes! They’re also shiny (well, obviously), so you can see the reflection of me and my siblings on the other side of the wire.

These are some edits I made just for fun:

The original picture edited:

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The cropped picture edited:

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I LOVE THIS PICTURE!

 

 

I enjoyed BIBPC, Megan! Thanks for hosting it. 🙂

My my, this was quite a long post. XD Thanks for reading!

Did you learn anything new about corn or how we harvest it? Do you do Nature Study in your school/homeschool?

***Allison***

P. S. I’m sure you all know that today is the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11/01. Please take time to remember the heroes of that terrible day and to pray for those who lost loved ones . ♥♥♥

Photography Prompt #2

Hey, guys! Clara alerted me to the very important fact that this is National Photography Day. Of course I had to do something for such a day. So instead of a planned recipe post (which I think you’re going to like, girls and book lovers), I’m going to do a photography prompt to get your creative juices flowing. If you have a camera, this is the day to use it! XD

Photography Prompt 2

Here is that bubble picture that I’ve put on my blog I-don’t-know-how-many-times. XD

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Look at these reflections! I’ve never quite figured out what the reflections were…
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I was so excited when I got this almost-perfect reflection of a Canadian goose at our pond.

 

 

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Water is a really fun reflective thing. Especially mountain lakes, or ponds at sunset.

 

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This is a picture of my Dad’s eye. You can see the reflection of my camera lens and finger poised to click the button. You can even see the scene from our window! (I think there’s the cornfield and the leaves of a walnut tree.)

 

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I just took this one recently. You can see a distorted reflection of our house and me sitting awkwardly on the steps holding the sprinkler between my knees. XD
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I really love this one! I took this picture of my friend on our Amelia Island vacation. I edited it (if you haven’t noticed) to make her hair and the reflection in the sunglasses stand out.

 

Which was your favorite reflections photo? Are you going to “celebrate” National Photography Day? Do you think you’ll use this prompt?

***Allison***

P. S. The baby bunnies are one week old! They are also THE CUTEST THINGS THAT EVER LIVED OH MY GOODNESS HELP! Don’t worry, I’ve been taking lots of pictures. 😉

P. P. S. You only have two days left to do the garden guessing game!