Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 365 - Happy New Year

Cheers to all of you who have been following my blog adventure this year. I appreciate your support, feedback, advice and words of encouragement. All in all it's been a great year and I've learned a lot. However, I still have a lot more to learn so I have decided to continue taking pictures and blogging. I hope to try many new things and learn even more. Hopefully, I'll also meet more photographers along the way.
Hope you all had a wonderful 2010 and I wish you and yours all the best in 2011. Happy New Year! May 2011 bring you health, happiness and lots of great photos!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 364 - Mystery Macro

Played with my macro lens this evening. Peg found all kinds of things around the house for me to try. I took a couple of pics of the object above but I like this one best. What do you think it is? I'll give you a hint. It's not usually red but silver. I deflected part of the flash with my hand (high tech, eh?) and this is the colour I got. Do you need any other hints? Okay, I'll give you one more. This object is usually found in the kitchen. So....?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 363 - Sad Dexter Dog

Poor old Dexter has an upset tummy today and on top of that we cleaned his ears. This is him lying at the top of the stairs pouting. I couldn't resist capturing his sad little face. The good news is that his supper has stayed down and he's now contently snuggling on the couch with Erika (Christopher's girlfriend). I guess things are looking up for him.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 362 - Fellow Photographer

Had a lovely supper with Catherine and Julien this evening. We had a wonderful visit with them. We also got to hang out with L and A. They're both such sweet and charming children. The picture above is 'L' taking a picture of me taking a picture of him. He got his camera from his godmother Vanessa, who just happens to be an amazing photographer. Something tells me she'd me more than happy to take him out for a photo shoot or two if he decides to take up photography.

Day 361 - Making Room

With all the picture taking, the space on my computer's hard drive has slowly been getting smaller and smaller. I decided to go out and buy an external hard drive a couple of months ago. Today, I finally got to the task of moving my photos to the hard drive. I knew I had stored a lot of pictures on my computer over the last few years but I didn't realize just how much until completing this task. I was surprised when I looked at the info from my drive and realized I had used 105 Gb of space for my pictures. Needless to say, my computer's hard drive is a lot less crowded.
Now things are set up for the photos to come and since my external HD has 1TB of space I should be okay for awhile.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day 360 - Boxing Day Birds

Was doing some cleaning and organizing inside when I looked out the window and saw our flowering crab apple tree filled with birds. I quickly grabbed my camera, put on my boots and headed outside. I tried to be quiet but I was still too noisy. Just as I got close enough to the tree to 'shoot', the birds flew away. I was waiting quietly hoping they would return and my patience was rewarded. I managed to get some shots of the Bohemian Waxwings and some cute little Chickadees. As I was shooting the flock suddenly flew away. However, this time I was not the cause. I realized that the woodpecker now on the telephone pole was the culprit. He moved quickly so I didn't get a great shot but wanted to include him just the same. The experience was definitely more fun than going to the stores today and a lot less crowded.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 359 - New iPad Photo Toy

Found a new app for the iPad. It's called Photo Soft Box Pro. It was on sale for 99 cents and so far I think it's money well spent. There are a variety of different lights and effects and it's very friendly to use. I used the red light (four rectangles, looks like a window) effect on this picture. I turned off the all the lights except the one on my iPad. I also needed to use the tripod because of slow shutter speed. I still have some tweeking to do as I find the red of the tomato isn't uniform but I think it'll be a handy tool.

Day 358 - O Christmas Tree

Had a wonderful day with family and friends. Took some time out between visiting and eating to take some pictures of the decorated tree. Here are my three favourites. Any preferences out there? I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Stay safe and healthy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 357 - Give the gift of life

Christmas is a time of giving and we all have our different ways of giving. Yes, the most obvious may be gifts for loved ones but gifts can come in all shapes and sizes and can be given to people we don't even know. At school we have a food drive to help create Christmas hampers for those less fortunate than us. Some people donate money to various organizations. Well, today, I was reminded of another important gift and that is blood, the gift of life. I was at the neighbourhood mall getting a couple of last minute items and saw that there was a blood drive set up. I haven't donated since this summer and know that blood banks are often low at this time of year. I was surprised to find out that today was my 25th donation. The pin is pictured above (not the best picture but I was focused on the message.). When I got home I told Peg and she and her brother decided to go up to the mall and give as well. Many lives can be saved with just one pint of blood so if you can, take a moment and head to the nearest blood bank. I'm sure they'll be happy to see you and you can spend Christmas knowing you have given one of the best gifts ever to a stranger (or strangers) and his/her family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 356 Peanuts Christmas

A little reminder that Christmas is about being with friends and family not having a fancy tree and lots of presents. I guess Linus was right when he answered Charlie Brown's question, "Doesn't anyone know what Christmas is about?" Here's his answer:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 355 - Christmas Gym Show

Peg, who is also the gym teacher at our school, always has such creative and fun ideas. This year she had the idea of having a Christmas Gym Show instead of a concert. It was a welcome change and the kids and adults had a wonderful time. The theme of the show was 'the power of play'. Each class demonstrated a game or activity played in the gym or outside. The activities included such things as jump rope, parachute, basketball, various tag games, high jump, snowball fight (paper snowballs only), and schlockey. As you might guess from the name and the picture, schlockey is a variant of hockey. It can be played indoors or outdoors. There are four players, two on each team, and as in hockey the goal is to get the puck into your opponent's goal. You can purchase the frames at various places but they're quite expensive. Luckily for us, we have a handy janitor who builds them for us and let's us use his old broom handles for sticks. If you're looking for a game kids can play outside during the winter you might want to check this one out.

Day 354 - Fudgerie

Stopped at the Fudgerie for our annual Christmas fudge gifts. It's a fun place to visit. The staff are extremely nice and helpful and they give samples when you enter, yummy! The place smells delicious and is tastefully decorated. There's a lot of history to the place. If you're interested check out their website. Unfortunately, the site does not come with samples.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 353 -You Know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Dexter?

As we were going through the Christmas decorations I found these antlers. We bought two pair for the dogs last year but didn't manage to get any pictures with them on. They were both slightly more cooperative this year. I managed to get a few inside but outside was a no go. Dexter doesn't look too impressed here and shortly after I snapped this picture he decided the photo session was over. Maybe I'll try some more during the holidays. I'd love to get some good ones to use as Christmas cards.

Day 352 - 1st Birthday Cake

Went to supper for Dylan's first birthday. He was a pretty tired boy but managed to eat his cake while making just enough mess to please his grandmothers. They were encouraging him to make as much mess as possible. I guess it's only fair that they got the job of bathing him afterward.
I used the mosaic filter in Photoshop. I find it gives it an interesting effect.

Day 351 - Family Traditions

Continued to work on the Christmas decorating this evening. One of the decorations we put up each year are Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus latch-hook projects. These were done by my mother almost 30 years ago. She had a stroke and couldn't knit as well as she used to so she decided to take up latch-hooking. My mom passed away 25 years ago at this time of the year. I am grateful to have these as part of our family tradition. Thanks Mom.

Day 350 - Icicles

I was at the Board office working today. I've noticed the line of icicles hanging from the side of the building a number of times. Each time I think, "I should take a picture of those." Today I decided it was time to stop saying and to just do it. So here they are.

Day 349 - Rudolph it's not

Today we made little candy cane reindeer for our PreK buddies. They're very easy and inexpensive to make and the little guys love getting edible gifts. We also made some Christmas cards. We'll give them to our buddies next Tuesday.
Students are also working on gifts of writing. They are to write a poem, letter or recipe for someone and present it to him/her for Christmas. It's a nice idea I got from Nancie Atwell's Lessons that Change Writers.

Day 348 - Let's play

Today after school some of our staff stayed at school and played Kinball. Kinball was started in Quebec and is a great cooperative sport. Those of you who know the game definitely noticed that the ball above is not the right size. Although it looks quite small, in reality it has a diameter of 64 inches. Anyway, we had a great time learning and playing the game. We took breaks for treats, beverages and snuggling babies. Catherine and Stephanie came to cheer and brought their little ones with them. Good fun, food, friends and babies, what more could we ask for?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 347 - Snowhorse?

Well, I've heard of a snowman, a snow fort and even a snow sculpture but this is the first time I've ever of a snow horse. We didn't get our anticipated snow day BUT the snow followed by rain made for fantastically sticky snow. Shelley O. teaches with me and was outside on recess duty today. She came in looking for a camera. She said she needed to take a picture of 'A' riding his snow horse. I changed the colour of the picture so we could see the horse. If you look closely, you'll see he even has a tail! Oh, the magic of a child's imagination!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 346 - Snow Day?

The anticipated storm has arrived in Quebec. It's snowing and VERY windy. The above picture was taken from our back door. You see our neighbour's house and the street in front of them. You may notice that the windows are covered with snow. It's a real, snuggle up with a good book and stay inside day. Peg and I were hoping that maybe tomorrow would be a snow day - no school! Unfortunately, the snow is supposed to turn to rain soon so chances are we'll be at school tomorrow. The drive in will take longer and the kids will be trapped inside all day but I'm sure we'll find a way to have fun just the same. But . . . just maybe we'll have a snow day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 345 - Christmas Cookies

Well, Christmas is officially close. I know this because we bought our tree today AND we did the Christmas baking. Peg and I (well, I assisted) made nuts and bolts, gingersnaps, chocolate almond bark, butter tarts, shortbread cookies and the festive cherry pecan cookies pictured above. A busy and productive day with delicious results. I've included the recipe for the cherry pecan cookies (also called candied fruit slices) below in case you'd like to try making some. I warn you, they are definitely NOT low calorie. Enjoy!

Candied Fruit Slices (Cherry Pecan Cookies)
Cream 1 cup of butter. Add 1 cup sifted icing sugar, creaming well.
Blend in 1 egg and 1 tsp of vanilla.
Add 2 1/4 cups of flour (sifted).
Stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cut pecans and 2 cups of cut green and red cherries.
Chill for one hour.
Divide dough in thirds. Shape each third into 12 inch rolls.
Chill for at least 3 hours.
Cut into evenly thin slices.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet (Trust me. You don't need to grease it.) and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until edges are delicately brown. (approximately 13 - 15 minutes)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 344 - Through a Young Photographer's Eyes

The deadline for getting pictures for our Quebec Roots project is quickly approaching. Since the students chose to write about Walk Around the World they need pictures to go with the theme. We have some fall photos but due to yucky weather we haven't had the chance to get any winter ones. Today was a bit cool but overcast and a PERFECT photo day. I just finished uploading over 200 photos onto my computer and some of them are amazing. With the ones from previous photo shoots I have just over 400 photos. From those 400 plus photos I have to choose 25 to send to the photographer next week. I guess I'll be looking at some photos this weekend.
Although I saw many great pictures today this photo above stood out for me because it's a photo of a young photographer taken by another young photographer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 343 - Winter Waves and Waffles

We've stored our swing beside the shed for the winter. While I was outside with the dogs this afternoon I noticed the accumulation of snow on the bench had created some interesting designs. From one angle it looks like waves and from another waffles. Hence, winter waves and waffles.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 342 - Snowstorm on Everest

Stopped at school to pick up Peg. While she was in a meeting I walked around looking for some photo opportunities. I went in the backyard and was drawn to the top corner of the school. The snow is banked up and the light on the roof was shining. The wind caused the snow to blow. Hence, creating a 'snowstorm' on Everest (the school not the mountain :-) ). The contrast of the dark blue sky really brought out the snow. I like the movement and the blueness of the sky.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 341 - Zoob Dino

One of our teachers has recently purchased a set of Zoob for his students. It's a big hit with students, boys and girls, who need to keep their hands moving and their imaginations working. The kids made all kinds of creatures and I was invited to take some pictures. I found this dinosaur particularly interesting. When I was talking with their teacher about this new manipulative he said that the only problem was once the students created something they didn't want to take it apart. However, I'm sure once a new idea comes into their minds they'll willing take the old apart to make room for the new.
Once again, I played with two pictures in photoshop. I'm learning but have room for improvement. What I want to learn how to do now is manipulate the lighting/shadows so that the mixture of the two pictures looks more realistic.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 340 - Fish Friend

Had a great time with our PreK buddies today. One group worked on Christmas wreaths while the other group finished up safari animal masks. When the masks were done each student, big and small, were given an animal puppet. Mrs. C. put music on and the students walked around the room moving the animals to the rhythm. Everyone seemed to have a good time and when the activity was over some students didn't seem to want to give their puppets up. I caught 'M' daydreaming while his fish appeared to be looking at him.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 339 - Early Morning Paw Prints

Peg took this picture early this morning. The dogs decided they needed to go outside NOW and it was only 5 am. Peg noticed the paw prints in the fresh snow so she snapped a few shots. Of course, I was still snoozing in bed oblivious to all the action. I like that we can see the prints and the spaces between the wood slats.

Day 338 - But...I'm comfortable

As some of you may remember, I've posted a picture of Dexter sitting on the couch watching television which is quite a feat for a blind dog. He's done this since he was quite young and I've always thought it was cute even if Peg didn't. Well, recently he's discovered that lying on the couch is even more comfortable than sitting. I have to admit I didn't discourage this either because he's so cute and he'd warm me up if I was sitting beside him. Peg decided not to fight it and put a blanket on the couch so at least he wouldn't be directly on the fabric. So, Dexter is now allowed to snuggle on the couch but quickly gives up his spot when the two of us sit on the couch.

Day 337 - African Drums and Dance

On Friday we had a YAK activity for the students. Students who managed to speak English and get less than 7 YAK tickets were invited to attend the activity. In the morning each group of younger students learned a traditional African song and dance. The older students also learned a song BUT they got to play it on the drums. In the afternoon the groups presented what they had learned to the other students and staff. It was a great learning experience and the kids had a wonderful time. It was fun to watch their faces as they were playing, dancing and listening. The photo above captures one of the instructors teaching my students the rhythm they needed to play.

Day 336 - More Medieval

As part of the Medieval theme, students were to come up with a name for themselves as knights, princes or princesses. They had to use their title, their name and one of their qualities or something they like in their royal name. Their parents helped them come up with the names and then students created a portrait to go with the name. Above, from left to right, you have Sir Nat Hard Worker, Sir Rowan Knows Everything and Sir Willy Master of Power (William showed his muscles when he presented his portrait.). It seems I only captured the boys but I also know there were Lady Moyra of Kinderland, Princess Chloe of Chocolate Kingdom and of course Lady Peg of Bread.

Day 335 Medieval Games

As you probably guessed, I played with these photos in Photoshop. Kindergarten at our school just finished up a Medieval theme. To celebrate the ending of the theme Peg organized Medieval Games in the gym. They catapulted mini marshmallows, did jousting on scooter boards, had a chivalry relay and the group seen above were playing battlefield tag. The students rotated through stations in their costumes and had a wonderful time. Peg took the pictures for me and when I saw this one I felt that it really needed a different background. Oh, the things we can do with imagination and technology!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 334 - Burnt

Another busy day. We had a staff meeting after school, ate supper, walked the dogs in the rain and then put on dry pj's. As I was changing I realized I had yet to take a picture today. I brought my camera downstairs and started hunting for possibilities. I bypassed the dogs snuggled up together and decided to try capturing the ashes in the wood stove. I figured they were as burnt as I was feeling.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 333 - Sleepy Visitors

I'm cheating a little as these pictures are from yesterday. I took them after I'd already posted for the day but these two are such cuties that I couldn't resist including their pics in my blog. Our friends, Catherine and Stephanie, joined us for lunch yesterday and brought their two little ones with them. Although they were both having a sleepy Sunday they were very well behaved. Little 'A' is above trying to stay awake while her mom sings "Ba Ba Black Sheep" to her. As hard as she may have tried to stay away she just couldn't keep those little eyelids open. Handsome 'A' managed to keep those beautiful green eyes (Yes Philip they are green.) open a while longer but gave in just before leaving.
It was nice to visit with friends and snuggle with the little ones. Hopefully, we'll be able to get together again sometime soon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 332 - Opening the books

Although the last week has been busy it's also been lots of fun and in its own way, relaxing. I've had a bit of a break from correcting and prep. However, it's now Sunday and with Monday just around the corner it's time to open the school books once again and get back to work. Thankfully, I have lunch with friends and a Grey Cup game to mix in with the work.

Day 331 - Snowy Firsts

The forecasted 1 cm of snow seemed to have multiplied. Added to the accumulation of yesterday it made enough for snowshoeing. Only November 27th and we headed out to the farm and put on our snowshoes for the first time this winter. We tracked through the fluffy snow as more flakes dropped from the sky and the dogs romped around the field. They wore their coats for the first time but the extra weight didn't seem to slow them down at all. They had a great time breaking trail, stepping on the back of our snowshoes and catching snowballs. It's days like today that make icy roads and shoveling worthwhile.

Day 330 - Gracious Greeter

Yesterday I was in the role of the presenter. Today, I get to be a participant at the QPAT (Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers) conference. It's a chance for the English teachers of Quebec to learn about new ideas, projects and materials that are available. There is a variety of short workshops throughout the day as well as a showcase room full of teacher goodies. Companies carrying educational material come to the conference and display their material. Teachers can purchase items at the conference or pick up a catalogue.
It's a big event and the Palais des Congres in Montreal is set up to welcome thousands of teachers. To make sure that we don't get lost on our way to the conference there are greeters set up at different points. The gracious greeter above has been doing this job for quite a few years. We see him every year we go and each time we see him he's wearing a smile and guiding people with a cheerful voice. It's refreshing to see such enthusiasm in his greeting whether it's the first person of the day or the 500th. I just can't help but smile when I see him so I thought I'd share that smile with you.

Day 329 - Shiny Art

In Montreal today giving a SMARTboard workshop at the Palais des Congres in Montreal. Each time I'm in the building I admire the piece of art hanging in the lobby near the escalators. To be honest, I've never taken the time to look up the name of the art piece or its artist. The piece consists of little metal pieces, slighty bent, hanging from the ceiling. When you see it as a whole it looks like a flock of shiny birds. I was kind of in a rush so I didn't take off my zoom lens to get that shot. Guess I'll need to do that next time I visit. I'll have to take the time to find out more about the art piece as well. Anyway, I really like this piece because of its shininess as well as the colours reflected in the metal. The lines in various directions give the feeling of movement. For me it shows how a very simple concept can be beautiful.

Day 328 - YUCK!

I've been fighting a cold for the last week. Now, there are definitely a lot worse things than having a cold and I can't complain because I don't get them often. I can be tough and put up with the stuffy nose and sore throat but I dread the moment when the coughing starts. Not because it hurts or keeps me awake but because it means I have to take cough syrup and I HATE cough medicine. As soon as I pick up the bottle I start making faces and dreading the moment the yucky stuff hits my mouth. Heck, just writing about it is causing a reaction so I'll stop here. Stay healthy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 327 - Looking inward and outward

Kids and teachers are tired and anxious for portfolio presentations to be done. It's an interesting process that allows both teachers and students to look inward and reflect on their progress. However, it can be stressful for some. Of course the weather's not helping lift spirits. We had snow and freezing rain yesterday and then it rained ALL day today. Kids were 'locked' inside once again and the school yard now looks like one big old gray slushy. I took this pic just before leaving school. It was 4:30 and already DARK. This is what the staffroom window looked like from the inside, looking outward....big sigh. But...the sun will come out tomorrow...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 326 - Look way up and I'll call Rusty

If you are a Canadian and of a certain age, you would recognize the title of this shot as being the opener from a popular children's show called "The Friendly Giant." The giraffe's name was Jerome and his trusty side-kick was a rooster named Rusty. This fellow was made by one of our Pre-K students as a decoration for the upcoming Scholastic Book Fair. The theme this year is "safari". Each class contributes decorations to liven up the atmosphere of the sale. The kids are definitely looking up to the fun ahead at the fair.

Day 325 - First Snowman

While putting the finishing touches on our winter garage, we noticed that our wee neighbours (Alice - 2 1/2 and Marie Laurence 1 1/2) had built their first snowman of the year. We kind of giggled as this icy fellow is the same size as they are. Maybe not a spectacular photo but a spectacular "first" for the young ladies!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 324 - Happiness is . . .

With the busy week and the early sunsets we haven't been out to the farm for a week. We made it out there this afternoon and as you can see from Dexter's rapturous face, he was thrilled! The two of them raced around, wrestled, only stopping now and again for a little snow snack. They are now snuggled up on their beds snoozing; probably dreaming of their next winter romp.

Day 323 - In the name of Science

One of our Grade 4 classes was working on simple machines today. Their first task was to create a catapult to launch marshmallows at their teacher. They had to figure out the technique that would get their marshmallow to the target. Miss C. reminded her students that safety must come first as she placed on her own safety goggles. The kids had a great time and were quite innovative. Luckily for Miss C., none of them hit their mark but they got pretty close. Those who achieved the most distance and accuracy demonstrated their technique for the other students. The experiment was followed by a discussion of the 3 classes of levers and then they built various simple machines with Lego kits. It's a hands-on learning experience I'm sure they won't soon forget.