31 August 2010

Going Solo

For a couple days last week it finally cooled down to reasonable temperatures.  I took the opportunity to eat outside on the patio.  As I looked at the 10 foot pine tree in the back yard, I realized it had only one pine cone.

See?  One lonely little pine cone.

I was intrigued.  I don't remember a lot from botany class, certainly nothing about the number of pine cones on an average tree.   This little tree has struggled the past couple of years.  You can see a little of the brown needles from the heat and low water this summer.  Overall though, I never remember seeing a tree with only one cone.

I looked closer and saw that the ends of the branches had these little buds on them.  So the tree is still growing, in spite of the weather.  Maybe next year we'll get 2 pine cones!


30 August 2010

Did you ever wonder?

Have you ever been in a baseball or football stadium and looked up toward the press boxes?  You see all those people jammed inside, with cameras and computer monitors all around them.  And you think, what does it take to get that up and running?

Today, a few friends of mine were heading into a venue, so I tagged along. 

With my camera, of course.

Here's how they get all that technology in a small space.  They create a "catwalk" for the cabling.  Here it is down the inside hallway of the press boxes.

Yep, it goes on, and on, and on down the curved hallway.  That was my little adventure for the day.  BTW, it was nice and cool inside, which was quite a switch from the 93 degrees on the field.

Hope you have a great day,

28 August 2010

Space Station - SOOC Sunday

The past few nights the International Space Station has been visible for a few minutes each night.  The first night I tried to take some shots without using a tripod.  I did catch it, but it was a really wavy line.  Tonight I went out earlier, set up the tripod, got the remote shutter release ready, focused on where it had been the night before and waited.  And then saw it on the other side of the yard!  So I had to quickly readjust and just press the shutter.  You can see the brief movement at the beginning of the shot, but otherwise, not terrible.

For anyone who hasn't seen the space station in person, it moves quite quickly and you can see a bit of a flutter of lights coming from it, but it was hard to capture that with faster shutter speeds.

For more straight out of the camera Sunday,
please visit Murrieta 365.


27 August 2010

Five Question Friday

Mama M. hosts Five Question Friday over on her blog.  (Check it out for more answers) 

Here is my first time joining in:

1. How many pets do you have?  One cat, Molly.  Here she is in her favorite place.

2. If you could switch places with anyone in the world for one day, who would it be?
The Queen Of England, because then I would get to live here

and here 

3. What is your favorite money saving tip? 
Buy only what you LOVE, then have no regrets.  And use coupon stacking if possible!

4. What do you want your kids to be when they grow up?
Well, I don't have any kids, but if I did I would hope they would be happy, healthy, love reading as much as I do (because it takes you anywhere and every where),
and I would love for them to be adventurous, even with food!

5. What is your favorite quote?

"Courage is not the absence of fear, it is finding something more important than fear."


25 August 2010

Your Daily Dose of Cuteness

This is my sister's adorable family having fun at the ice cream shop.  Notice the really fair skin that runs in my family.  Oh, not everyone got the go-out-only-at-night pigment, but so far the baby is sporting it.  Another quirky part of this generation of babies is little peach fuzz hair for a while and then BAM, full head of hair.

BabyBelle is still waiting on a little more hair, so in the meantime she is a great sport about fun hats.

I think this pink number came from her aunt on the west coast.  She was last seen wearing it on the beach at Sanibel Island.

A new multi-pink with the flower as big as her head!  Thanks to Mama N. for providing the last 2 photos, BabyBelle seems good with small cameras or cell phone photos.

However, this is the look I get when I pull out the Nikon:

This is a hat she outgrew before really getting a chance to try it out.  She and I were sitting on the floor doing things when her dad walked by and plopped it on her head.  She did not know quite what to make of either the hat or the camera.

We're hoping that more events with the camera and people around might provide me with happier photos!  I caught the one in the beginning of the post because Daddy was funny and she never saw the camera.  Next week I get to head up to see them all and I'll let you know how successful I am with Baby photos.


24 August 2010

Shiny things!

My aunt and uncle live in northern Virginia.  As much as I enjoy flying to international locations, sometimes I prefer to drive through hill and dale and see what I can see.  So for this trip, one of the destinations was their town of Annandale and the surrounding landscape.  We checked out the local hangouts, the farmer's market, and the favorite places for foodies.

One day we went to Old Alexandria.  It is a very pedestrian friendly environment with plenty to see, do, and eat.  We walked through an area that included converted industrial spaces that now house work and retail spaces for artists.  Fantastic!  Nearby, there was a jewelry store with a polish artist (that alone made me go in) that had all kinds of creations made with amber.  My brother-in-law always jokes that sparkles and shiny things are my downfall.  This was no exception.  She had many items with yellow amber containing inclusions.  I love that each of these pieces are history all by themselves.  She had a smaller amount of red amber, and these pieces had faceted amber in them.

I was in love.

The fact that is was a large piece and looked spectacular on my hand, even with my summer tourist apparel, sealed the deal.

While in Alexandria, we took a boat ride up the Potomac to Georgetown and back.  I highly recommend this at least one time.  Even salty D.C folks can get a different perspective of the capital from there.  We walked up to a tea shop, because how could we not?  Also, we stopped at a cute Virginia tourist store.  Sometimes you just have to take it all in and play along.

To finish our trip and in keeping with our approach to eating our way through northern Virgina, we ate at Taverna Cretekou.  We all had different dinners and desserts and they were delicious.  We sat out on the patio with Greek music playing and fairy lights wound through the ironwork and trees.  A very enjoyable meal all around.

If you are in the capital district and can take a side trip, Old Alexandria is worth your time.  And don't forget to look for the sparkly/shiny things too!


22 August 2010

Macro Monday - 100 things

Today is Lisa's Chaos 100th Macro Monday.  The challenge was 100 things in the photo.

I went with 100 holes in the webbed area of my Nike's.

Thanks for stopping by.

Travel story time tomorrow...


21 August 2010

Playing in the Summer Sun

In the spring I have some ducks that nest somewhere in or near my yard.  They sun themselves on my patio and the cat sits in the window wondering what the heck they are doing out there.  As the summer progresses, they rejoin the others by some ponds down the road.  Here are some trying to beat the heat.

Aren't we all?!

These guys were very interested in something under the water.  I watched them for a while, but never did see what was so fascinating. They eventually just paddled further into the lake.

This one was just taking a quiet stroll across the pond.  It was really hot this day, if that water wasn't such a scary green, I might have joined him!

Happy Weekend,

19 August 2010

Floating Leaf

I was walking along the edge of a river when I noticed this leaf suspended in the middle of the path.  It was held by a spider web from the canopy of tree branches and leaves above.  I took at least a dozen photos of it, trying to get the focus, lighting, and background just right so you could see it floating.

Recently I read an article about "moving your feet" when taking photos.  In essence, trying to see multiple ways to compose the photo by moving around the subject or scene.  I think this was a great example.


18 August 2010

The night lights

 Last night I had to go to the airport to pick up some friends of mine.  They were flying in from an international trip via Chicago-O'Hare airport.  Now, we all know the chances of that flight being on time were null.  So, I picked up a book, my keys, and my bag with the camera, of course!

I parked my car in the McDonald's parking lot because it was conveniently located on this curve in the roadway.  It was later on a weeknight, so the traffic was light.

I was playing with 6-13 second shutter speeds.

And because I didn't want to scream "lady with an nice camera over here" in the night, I set the camera on my dash instead of using a tripod.  I had aimed the car toward the traffic, shut off the radio and engine to avoid vibration, and used my handy wireless remote on the shutter release.

Here you can see the headlights of the cars, and an orange light that was on top of the transport bus, but really no vehicles.  It's kind of surreal.

Here the light is intensified when I use black and white contrast.  I like seeing the starlight effect on the street lamp as well.

This is the modern art I created when I used a 13 second shutter speed and intentionally rocked the camera a little bit!  The thicker white at the bottom are headlights, the other colors are the street lights and reflections off the colored street signs in the area.

I have to tell you, even though it was beginner use of photographic "night vision" for me, it was probably the most fun I've ever had waiting at the airport!

Hopefully this weekend I will be able to get some more evening and night photos.  Last weekend it rained at the key times, but we needed the rain so badly I'm not even sad about missing them.

Hope you have a good day,

16 August 2010

Gotta Wear Shades Challenge - I Heart Faces

I joined the I Heart Faces community to learn more about photography, as this is what these fine folks are all about!  This week's challenge is Gotta Wear Shades.

(For those of you reading along, you have seen this before, sorry.  I just thought it was a great entry!)


A little peace for your Monday

If your Mondays are anything like mine, you could probably use a peaceful stroll through a quiet path right about now. 

Pretend with me...


14 August 2010

SOOC Sunday

I was headed into a park when I saw a few fallen logs near the entrance to a tree lined path.  It seems I find the most interesting things when I am out looking for something else altogether.  It makes it fun!

I thought the new growth of white on the dead wood was beautiful, not only for the fungus itself, but for the idea of a whole new life coming from and old one.

I'm also happy it photographed so nicely.  I might try it in straight B&W another day to compare.  For more SOCC Sunday photos, please click on the link.


13 August 2010

A trip to my kitchen - Harvest Time!

I am lucky enough to work at a place where all kinds of research is completed. I do not have the attention span for that type of work, but I'm intrigued by what is found by those who do. One type of research is agricultural, meaning there are all kinds of farms.

And happiness is when the harvest starts coming in and they bring us goodies to eat! We received corn a couple weeks ago, and we hope to see more. Remember when the corn was like this? This week they brought us zucchini and we've been discussing recipes ever since. You'll notice the tags on the zucchini, they represent what part of the field it came from. These are also organic, bonus.

The farms also donate large portions of the produce to local food banks, and of course use some to feed the animals over the winter months.

Here is a recipe from my friend Anna. Although my copy is a scanned one, you can see all the love and stuff from the many times it has been used in the past.

Here is the freshness coming out when I trimmed off the ends before shredding. I used a box grater with the big holes to shred. I like to see and taste the little bits in my bread and muffins. Surprisingly, it only took one of the zucchinis to get 2 cups for the recipe.

This means I have 3 more to use over the weekend and freeze for later!!

Here is the end result, well minus the ones we already ate. I cooked them for less time that the recipe suggested because I used muffins tins and a larger bread pan. They are delicious!

I hope you have some fresh eats in your future too.


11 August 2010

Summer Ice Cream Tour - Jeni's!

When Jeni first started her business, it was located in an urban market area, catering to unique clients. She uses fresh and local ingredients, adjusting flavors with the seasons.

My brother and his family raved about it and he would make a special trip to get their favorites, even when they lived in another county!

She has expanded her business to other city and suburban locations, but has kept the fresh and local a core value. And we love her for it.

I know if looks like the F is missing on this freezer, but no, it's just quirky that way.

The shops are all of bit different, depending on the space available. They have a list of regular menu items, current seasonal items, and the "small batches". These smaller batches are flavors they are testing out. Some stay, some go - so if you like it, buy extra to take home!

You can see one of the friendly folks working there making waffle cones. I don't know if these folks have titles, you know, like the 'Sandwich artists' at Subway. I just think anyone responsible for something this delicious should have a good title.

One of the best perks of Jeni's is the 1/2 scoop option. You can get 2, 3, or 4 half scoops and try all kinds of flavors in one visit. Of course, they do give out samples too, but really half scoops are so much better.

I had Riesling Poached Pear, which was dreamy, a little sweet, and smooth. My second flavor (which is hiding more at the bottom) Queen City Cayenne, chocolate with a kick!

If you are feeling the need to try out these specialty flavors, Jeni will ship them right to your front door - even in this heat! Go here and start your new addiction.


10 August 2010

Ruby Tuesday

I've had the opportunity to see Wicked several times and to celebrate the most recent viewing with friends, I am joining in on Ruby Tuesday!

Here is an early spring photo (before all this heat rolled in), where the red bud is struggling up through a sea of green.

Be sure to click on the button or link above to visit Mary and others.

More Summer Ice Cream tour tomorrow!


09 August 2010

Macro Monday

Here is a shot of a chain link fence, really close. :)

I was out in the woods when I came upon a path to a ball field. It was late evening and the field was empty. It gave me a chance to get angles and shots I would have otherwise missed. It was complete luck, but I really like how it looks B&W.

For more photos, click on the Macro Monday button and see the skill out there.


08 August 2010

Sassy Sunday Snapshots

Today I was excited to attend the Mad Hatter Tea Party (bridal shower) for a friend of mine. Everyone pulled out a party hat to celebrate.

We all had fabulous tea (mine was Jasmine and I will be seeking out a tin of that this week at the Asian market). There was also a delicious assortment of finger sandwiches, fruit, and cakes.

The flower girl (and bride's niece) had an assortment of hats throughout the event. Here is one of them. It says Princess, so appropriate.

More family and fantastic hats!

Here are friends having fun and sporting their hats.

BTW, here's what a photo looks like when my settings were for the bride sitting relatively still and not for the friends who were laughing and moving around! Oh well! These were more about capturing the day than winning a photo contest. I like to think you can see the happiness in the blur of movement. :)

Happy Day,