Happy π Day!!

Hi Folks:

Happy Pi Day (3-14)! Today, devotees around the world dedicate themselves to the pursuit of all things irrational, and of course, really good desserts. BTW, if you want to know what the first 1,000,000 digits of π are, you can find that at the link.

As we have in previous years, we’re going to celebrate today with some pi(e). Since Marcia has grain sensitivities we’re going to forego the crust, and since we’ve already profiled Michael Smith’s wonderful Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart, we’re going to choose something equally savoury instead: shepherd’s pie. The recipe we’re using today comes from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen, here: Cast Iron Shepherd’s Pie.

NB: They did provide this recipe free for two days, but that period is now over. You can still view it by signing up for a free trial. That of course is up to you. As for us, it’s been so long since either of us have eaten ground beef we don’t remember the last time, but shepherd’s pie has been a comfort food recipe in both of our families for generations. We thought of using ground turkey instead, but we thought we’d go all out. We’re using organic corn instead of peas and while we usually replace potatoes with yams, we did find some lovely organic potatoes to use here. We’ll see how it goes!

Cast Iron Shepherd's Pie
Cast Iron Shepherd’s Pie

Okay, that’s it for now. Enjoy Pi Day, however you celebrate it! For more of our Pi Day posts (and recipes) click here.

Remember to hug the ones you love today. If you can’t hug a stranger, then at least offer them a smile. 🙂

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. While you’re wandering around the Cook’s Illustrated site, watch out for their Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!!

Happy Random Acts of Kindness Week!!

Hi Folks:

This is Day 3 of Random Acts of Kindness Week! Monday, being Family Day, of course we went out hugging. As mentioned in a previous post, 2020 marks our 11th calendar year of hugging locals and tourists alike – our 11th year begins officially on June 9, 2020 😉

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Hugging 2020: Bringing Vision

Hi Folks:

We’ve had so much rain this January that yesterday was our first opportunity to go out hugging this year. We’re not complaining – we’ll appreciate the water supply come summer – but it has put a damper (so to speak) on our hugging activities! Marcia has designated 2020 as a year of vision for her, and 2020 begins our 11th calendar year of sharing hugs with both locals and visitors to our fair city. So far we’ve shared hugs with people from (at least) 88 countries, and just yesterday we got to meet and share hugs with people from Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, Slovakia, U.S. and Venezuela! All of this within the space of an hour. It continues to amaze and delight us. We also had our first vehicle passenger hug for 2020, where a car pulls over, a passenger gets out, runs over for a hug, then dashes back to the car!

Many thanks for all of the smiles, waves, vehicle honks and special thanks to those who took a few moments out of their lives to share them with us. We offer but people have to come to us. We really appreciate it when you do!!

Hugs,
M&M

An Unusual Lightroom Problem… And Solution

Hi Folks:

Last fall we were at Hatley Gardens at Royal Roads University and (among other works) I made some bracketed images for building HDR panoramas. Unfortunately, due to a technical error (the nut behind the camera) I violated one of the basic tenets of making panoramas: always use manual exposure. As such, for one of my panorama images (made from two bracketed sets of exposures), the right group of images came out visibly lighter than the left. Compare the large Douglas fir in both images:

In current versions of Lightroom one can make HDR panoramas in one step, but in my older version I have to do this in two steps. No matter. The challenge was that when I joined the two HDR composites together, it was easy to see where the join between them is:

What to do? Fortunately, Lightroom has a built-in solution, although it’s not well known. In the Library module one selects the group of images involved (two in this case) and moves to the Develop module. Under Settings, about ½ way down the menu, click on Match Total Exposures. We did a blog post on this back several years ago (Match Total Exposures in Lightroom) if you want to know more. Basically the tool works only with the Exposure slider, and – using the most selected image as a baseline – adjusts the exposure of the other selected image(s) to match. In this case it turned down the exposure on the image on the right by ¾ stop:

Comparing the above two images you can see that they’re much more in line with each other. This time when I combined the two into a panorama the results were much more even:

Finally, after setting the white balance and pushing the image around a bit we come to the final output:

Japanese Garden, Royal Roads University

Okay, that’s it for now. Go out and make some photographs!

Hugs,
M&M

For Auld Lang Syne

Hi Folks: This is a re-post of one from six years ago. Unfortunately Google+ no longer exists, but we’ve left the link as it’s the only one we have to the original reference. May 2020 bring you all that you intend!!

Hugs,
M&M
_____

Hi Folks:

Many have heard at least the beginnings of the song ‘For Auld Lang Syne’, but not as many are familiar with the words or their meaning. We came across this ‘wee translation’ from Dolidh Young on Google+ and wanted to share it with you. Her post is here: https://plus.google.com/+DolidhYoung/posts/HuugfJV5sYX Continue Reading →

The Reindeer Take Victoria… Again!!

Mrs. Claus, Twinkles and Krinkles at Mayfair Mall
Mrs. Claus, Twinkles and Krinkles at Mayfair Mall

Hi Folks:

Well, as the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” And while there are many reasons to celebrate the Holiday Season, the transition from shorter days to longer and all that accompanies that, the truth is that this can also be a stressful time of year for many people. People get caught up in the too-short days, the not-enough time, and the hustle and bustle that’s being pushed upon them from all sides. And when they get pushed around too much, sometimes something very sad happens… They lose their smile somewhere along the way. 😪

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Happy Holidays!!

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Festivus, Solstice or Saturnalia, the arrival of Sinterklaas or Grandfather Frost, Hanukkah, Mawlid Un Nabi, Yalda, Pancha Ganapati, Bodhi Day, Kwanzaa or something entirely personal, we send you love. Create an amazing 2020!!

Hugs,
M&M

2020 Photo Calendars

Hi Folks:

This is the tenth year now that we’ve made our MS Word photo calendar templates available, and as with the past several years, we’ve also created a series of templates and calendar images you can use with Lightroom or other graphics software. As we’ve done before we’ve also added a full-page calendar option, below. 

I created a template in MS Word that allows people who don’t have Photoshop, Lightroom or the equivalent to make their own photo calendars, so we’ll cover that first; the Lightroom stuff is below that. I used MS Word 2016 to make the template and saved it as a .docx file. Basically it’s a series of tables, one for each month, that look something like this:

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It’s Our Birthday!

Botanical Beach

Botanical Beach (image by Marcia)

Hi Folks:

Well, it’s now been 10 (yes, ten!) years since our blog took its first breath, and we currently have 602 blog posts and 146 pages on our site. The posts cover poetry, photography, our hugging adventures (88 countries and counting!) and various other musings; our pages include some of our stories and free Adventures of Rainbow Mouse colouring pages to download and enjoy. We’ve shared some wonderful adventures with you through these and are looking forward to sharing more in the future! This blog is our gift to you, our readers, and we very much appreciate having you here with us.

Remember to hug someone you love today. Or a stranger. Or, preferably, both! 🙅‍♀️🙅‍♂️

M&M

P.S. The image above is a composite made from a sequence of 23 images Marcia made with her cell phone. Look for an upcoming blog post on image stacking in the (hopefully not too distant) future!

Happy Hallowe’en!!

Halloween YodaNever before have we seen a lighted, inflatable Yoda holding a Boo! bucket (at Bridgeman’s West Coast Eatery, in Port Renfrew, BC). Our lives are now complete. 🎃

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. In years past we’ve shared different pumpkin recipes for post-Hallowe’en enjoyment. We sadly don’t have any new recipes to add right now, but you can find our existing pumpkin-related posts here.