29 July 2010

A bit o' the Irish in my day

When I was young we would take long road trips to upstate New York where my mother's family lives. It was an all day affair, in the big Caprice station wagon (with that seat that faced backwards) and many stops along the way. Once we arrived, we stayed a while and had large family cookouts.

You know, the kind where grandpa was outside grilling tons of meat and smoking out the neighbors; all the aunts brought salads and jell-o molds and so many other food stuffs the tables lined up in the garage were groaning under the weight.

After everyone was done eating, the adults would bring out the webbed lawn chairs and circle up to catch up and gossip. I'm pretty sure they didn't call it gossip (that's not very nice), but really, what else is it? The kids would run around the yard until we dropped. At this point my older brothers, cousins and I would look for four leaf clovers in the grass. Remember, before it was trendy to have high maintenance lawns, we had weeds and we liked it!

I learned there would always be one, if you were patient enough to find it. And when I found it, I learned to leave it there, happy to have the luck without ruining someone else's chance to find it too.

This week when I was out taking pictures I stopped to look for the clover and found a 5-leaf clover. I left it there and today had some very good luck at work. Glad to see some things never change.


28 July 2010

Happiness Wednesday

Here are my happiness thoughts for this week.

My friend Sue retired after a fabulous career and she is off to cheer for new adventures!

At the party, Marie and her youngest son (of four!!) are "cheesing" for the camera. Adorable!!

Here are more Wednesday Happiness thoughts...


27 July 2010

Trying to catch moving water - Shutter priority

Over on Pioneer Woman Assignments this week the topic was water. I realized the photos I had contained water as a secondary element. I had not gone out to try and understand my settings as they related to taking photos of moving water.

I chose not to look up information on this topic first, but to go out and shoot with many settings and see what I liked. Here's how my experience matched "suggested techniques" that I read about later:

Use shutter-priority setting - check.

Use a tripod - check.

Use a telephoto lens - check.

Go in the later afternoon/early evening to avoid sun glare - check.

Use a lower ISO with slow shutter speeds - umm, *cricket* *cricket*

Nope. Well, now I have something to work on next time!

I started by standing on this bridge and shooting over the sides. The lighting was off. BTW, there was a pretty thick canopy of trees over this stream, so I wasn't sure how to adjust for it.

Then I walked further down the trail and focused on the water falling through the tree limbs. Only later when I got home and zoomed in on the water did I see the writing on the tree next to it. I was a good 60-70 feet from this and cannot comprehend how someone got in there to write. Isn't it funny what you find later.

So then I went back closer to the stream and sat on the bottom of these stairs with my tripod.

Ohh, pretty, but boring.

Ohh, prettier, but too dark.

Ohh, I like this one. It's dreamy without being fake.

Now that I have some idea what the adjustments will do to the outcome of the photo, I will try a broader range of shutter speeds. I will try to find a larger water feature with a few more options. I hear there is a brand new walkway and trail on the larger river I cross everyday to work.

Later in the week I will post some of the lovely wild flowers I found as well. I couldn't resist more flowers!


26 July 2010

Pistacia Vera

This fabulous sweet shop was a recommendation from my cousin. When I was out trying to take artistic photos one afternoon, my cousin, one of the actual artists in my family strongly suggested I go check this out. First, he lives nearby so he's up with the great stuff in the neighborhood. Second, he runs, A LOT, and snags some treats on his way home some mornings, and Third, he understands my love of tea and biscuits.

They have a good assortment of cookies, cakes, biscuits, and candy. They also have a gluten-free menu, which I have been seeking out as a friend of mine is new to that eating/cooking style.

The have a small eating area inside and these lovely tables outside. There were a few patrons inside on the day I stopped by, so I didn't want to intrude and take photos. Okay, I wanted to, but I chose to let them have their tea time in peace.

I purchased this little gift box. It has both caramels with cashews and nougat with pistachios. Seriously, I could not have picked a better treat. I would also like to point out that I did not eat them all at once, but certainly would have liked to do just that!

If you're not up for a roadtrip to one these shops, good news! They deliver. Happy tea time!


25 July 2010


The last few days I've taken a trip down memory lane, both literally and figuratively. Instead of taking photos this week, I've been compiling some that span decades. A friend of mine and one-time boss is retiring. After an impressive career, she has opted to retire and enjoy a new way of life, instead of looking for the second career. We applaud her!!

I asked friends to send me photos that brought back fond memories. I received a variety, which was perfect. Some were old enough that it took a few minutes to figure out the cast of characters in the shot. Others were hilarious reminders of the hair and fashion of the 80's and 90's, and some were a single snapshot that brought on a whole host of laughter.

Many of Sue's friends and former collegues (and some current ones) traveled in from across the country to surprise her (a miraculous feat I tell you) and show her how much impact she has had on them. These folks that were once very young and green graduate students are now Directors, Deans, and VP's in colleges and universities all over America. In essence, they are shaping the future leaders and the less than six degrees of separation comes back to Sue. How lucky we all are to have known and learned from her.

Sue is the kind of boss who is clear, supportive, educational, and ethical. And when I say ethical, I mean it. When Jesus was a teen, he might have asked, What Would Sue Do (WWSD)?

Hooray for Sue and her new adventures! We will miss having her close by, but are looking forward to vacationing in the south and joining in on those adventures when we can.


22 July 2010

Appreciating quiet perfection

I was out enjoying this fabulous weather and ignoring the heat when I came across this very unique garden. I thought the plant in the middle looked more like a water plant than one you would see in a soil garden.

The lighter colored ground cover seems to be the "water" surrounding the taller plants. Similar to the quilts I posted a few weeks back, that were different due to their materials or use of texture, these plants want to defy my cookie-cutter image of garden.

I loved them.

Also, I loved the sunny day that let me get these shots straight out of the camera. Sometimes God just hints at perfection and lets me find it all by myself.


21 July 2010

Taste of Summer continues - Graeters

Graeters Ice Cream started in Cincinnati, Ohio and luckily for us all has grown and spread into the mid-west. They still use the "french pot process" which means they make it 2 gallons at a time, not a monster batch. It is a heavier or thicker ice cream, which makes it very creamy and dreamy!

The inside of most of their stores still have the traditional ice cream shop look, with plenty of seating and air conditioning - heaven!

Some also have some fantastic outdoor hard scape spaces with patios or decks and in this location a nice pond. Pretend you don't see the road in the background. Except for rush hour, it really isn't that busy and the store sits far enough back that you don't hear the flow of traffic. Sometimes there are duck families here too.

One super fabulous bonus is that this company will either pack or ship you their ridiculously good treats.

I know what you're thinking, that would be messy. But No! They pack the containers in dry ice and they last solid for 24 hours. Graeters was once on Oprah's favorite things list.

More importantly, my good friend Anissa (aka, Who-knew-I'd-be-mother-of-two-boys) thinks this is one of the best things on earth. Just to show you how much she likes Graeters, when both of her children were born, I shipped her ice cream. No, nothing cute or relaxing or other typical congratulations gift, Graeters won!

After all of that talk of ice cream, what did I get? Watermelon sorbet.

I couldn't resist. It was cool and refreshing and the perfect thing to counteract the day the weatherman called "not quite as warm" and it was 89 degrees. They have all sorts of treats, I'd recommend stopping by.

BTW, I used my ever trusty 7 year-old Sony digital camera for these shots. While I normally toss the Nikon in my purse or bag, today I had way too many errands to carry it all over creation. The Sony has traveled through many a country with me, so as a backup, it still gets put to work on occasion.


19 July 2010

Look at that Baby Face!

At least a dozen of my co-workers have had babies in the last 18 months and there are 3 more on the way (that we know of). This cutie, Baby A is going to start doing some kind of modeling, we hope. So, at the last minute her Mama wanted some new snaps.

I've never done any portraits before, in fact, not that many people pictures at all. And since it still felt close to the surface of the sun outside, we had to improvise with indoor space and lighting.

She was fantastic to work with and happy to boot! I'll admit being at her home with the dog nearby to entertain her probably went a long way to getting the smiley shots and having her be relaxed enough to move around comfortably.

We did have one serious moment. I think she was laughing and bumped her head slightly on the TV stand behind her. Yup, that's what's under the makeshift "backdrop". Hey, I told you we had to improvise!

While I realize these are miles from professional, I was extremely happy with a first try, limited lighting, space and experience.

Also, after I returned home and was reviewing everything, I noticed I had forgotten to adjust one of the settings from my outdoor landscape photo shooting the day before. This accounts for the "soft" focus in most of the photos. Although, I like to see it as a nice attempt at a filter for that cute baby look.

Ok, so it's a stretch. At least I learned to check all the settings next time.

This was me playing with the photos and coloring. I do not have Photoshop yet, but am trying to learn what type of edits are available.


17 July 2010

German Village (part 2) Cute and Quaint

The more northern section of German Village has smaller homes packed tightly together in an adorable look. They make the most of what that have.

Lots of nice color and I love the hammock on the wee porch.

Here is a perfectly manicured side "garden".

A lot of flags hanging along the homes, in the front and side.

Hopefully you can see some of the brick streets in the photos as well. It was actually a busy time of day when I was out in the scorching heat taking these shots. The roads are well traveled, and bumpy!

Some sided houses along one section breaks up all the brick and stone in the neighborhood.

One of my favorites, I could move right in.

Of course the owners might mind...


16 July 2010

German Village (part 1)

Just south of the glass and silver of the cityscape, you find this charming little section called German Village. The area was settled in the mid 1800's and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The village is actually a couple different areas, some with larger houses like these and some with smaller quaint ones, which I'll post tomorrow.

The larger ones line the streets surrounding a beautiful park. It has nice green spaces, ponds, a rec center, and a beautiful garden maintained by the community. I love the garden at this house. Some people would think it was professionally maintained, but knowing the area, I bet the home owners are out there regularly with their clippers.

These homes are most often made of brick and stone. There are a variety of styles, mirroring the period when they were built. This one is for sale, if you're feeling the urge to move. The view out of the front windows is the lovely pond area of the park.

This one is actually a little more modern than most, but still manages to fit into the village well.

And yes, these are single family homes. I love these two. I think I could be happy in either, but I would probably need some help keeping them clean!


14 July 2010

The missed photos

It has rained about 2 1/2 inches in the last couple days. On my way into the office this morning I noticed clusters of mushrooms that had popped up all over the mulch. They were very beautiful, in the wee hours of the morning.

I thought, I should really get these photos now...but proceeded in to the office and didn't take the shots. When I returned in the afternoon, following the grounds crew and 87 degree temps, this was all that was left.

I was very sad.

So, I have learned to take the time to take the photo. It may not be there later.

Hmm, kind of a lesson for life in general I think.


13 July 2010

Summer ice cream tour - Whit's Frozen Custard

My friend Sue and I visited Whit's Frozen Custard in this little town. I have learned there are now more locations, one quite near my house, which makes me very happy.

They have vanilla and chocolate everyday, and then a special flavor that changes. This day the special flavor was Buckeye (peanut butter and chocolate chip). It was fabulous. Sue also mentioned it's a favorite of the company, as they have it often.

Well, kudos to them for understanding good business and providing what the people like!

This is the cute sign on the threshold going into the little shop.

And I mean little shop! There is room to order at the counter, room for a freezer which stocks pints and quarts of ice cream, and then 2 itty bitty seating areas up against the picture windows looking out into the town. On this day they were taken by families with kids loving their treat.

Don't you love the look on the clerk's face, the "are really taking a picture of us?" Yep.

Ok, now here is where you expected to find the photo of the Buckeye ice cream treat we bought, right? Yep, it should go right here. However, we were so into eating our treat, I forgot to take a picture for you. Ooops, sorry, it won't happen again.

In fact, to make things better, I'll take another trip to Whit's and get more ice cream...you know, to make it up to you.

Happy Eats!