28 February 2011

Dinner with the Pope - sort of...

This month for Ladies Night out, we headed to Buca di Beppo.  This is an Italian restaurant that serves family style, where each "small" serving 3 or "large" serving 5.   The weather and later dinner hour shifted the number of people who could make it, so it was a small but happy crowd.  We reserved the Pope's table.  This is a hoot!  It can seat up to18 people and has a Pope theme throughout the room.  The table itself has a lazy-susan on it, making sharing whatever you order that much more fun.  

The photo was taken by our very patient server - with a point and shoot, so the lighting and shiny things all over the walls played havoc with the exposure.  And contrary to her tired look, Baby A really did have fun with us!  We tried several versions of salad, could not pass up the roasted garlic cheesy bread, some of the ladies had lasagna - with leftovers, and of course, cannoli!

If you are looking for family Italian, this is good stuff.  And, if you are really adventurous, you can book the table in the kitchen where you can watch everything as it happens.  Apparently it is quite popular, but you don't get to eat with the Pope like we did.


27 February 2011

Sunday Creative and SOOC

Well, it's already dinner time and I am just now getting to my Sunday photo and post.  
I seem to have far more things to do than weekend to do them this time around.  I know you can relate.  
So today I am going to use a photo I took on Wednesday afternoon while waiting to meet up with my Ladies Night dinner folks.  It is near a local college and sets up on a hill.  I was trying to catch the sun, just before it set and as I came around the corner, I was able to catch this view.

It is straight out of the camera (with the watermark added of course).  More SOOC at Murrieta 365.

I am also joining The Sunday Creative this week at Madeline Bea.  This week's creative prompt is Ritual.  I have unconsciously started a ritual of looking for sunrises and sunsets to capture.  The potentially boring commutes are so much better when there is a chance I will see a stunning sunrise.  Also, even in the grayest of days - and we've had months of them by now - there is always a chance of a beautiful sunset.  If I catch one, I am a much happier person to be around.

As a side note, how much would you love this view at the end of every day?  Wow, great little neighborhood with really unique houses.  I had never been there before, but may go back to get a closer look in brighter light. 
I'll share my findings, of course!


25 February 2011

Weekend Fun

Here are some friends that have already returned to the ponds down the street.

The later afternoon light provided some nice reflections on the melting ice and water.

I have to imagine the one sitting there might be just a wee chilly!
There were easily a dozen or so in the area.  I guess they appreciated the 60 degrees last week too.

For more Camera Critters and Weekend Reflections:


Still winter

See those gray skies?  Yep, this guy going to get a little more work this weekend!

And just when I brought the shoes out again. 
Oh yes, that 2 days in the 60 degrees teased me and my hope for no more boots.

So far we have gotten more ice than snow, but the weather folks say some areas will get the most snow (in one storm) that they have had all season.  The good news, the temps are suppose to keep rising, so it should be a brief blanketing...please?! 


23 February 2011

Melting Hearts - Guest heart Thursday

When the piles of snow and ice finally started melting, 
I wandered around my yard, soaking up the sun and catching hearts along the way!

First, one in the grass...

then one in the snow pile by the bushes...

and then a little one in the melting ice by the mulch. 
Heck, I'm just so happy to see grass and mulch again, I'll take anything I can find!

I hope you have a heart or two in your day too.


21 February 2011

Barn Charm

Winter has made a reappearance in my neck of the woods.  We're hoping it's not a significant or long stay, but considering it is February, not really surprising either.  Here is a barn set back from the road a bit.  I realized after I was home and uploaded the photos that my focus was only on one section of the barn.  I'll have to catch that next time!  I think the setting sun colors and snow on the ground save the photo anyway.

More Tuesday fun:

19 February 2011

A special weekend event!

You know that nice lady that wrote this book?

I was lucky enough to meet her.  What a fun day!

I knew there would be a good turn out.  Our city had not made her last book tour and she is quite popular with the folks I know.  I looked forward to meeting new people, fellow bloggers, photography buffs and foodies.  The bookstore used a color card method for the line, so you didn't have to stand in line until your color was next.  This worked out well.  I was able to get a drink and hang in the cafe people watching.  Here's what transpired through the hours I was there.

First, I ordered a hot tea, because although it was a sunny day, we hadn't been able to keep the 60 degrees from earlier in the week.  The tween working the counter asked if I wanted to add a shot of espresso to my tea.  Huh, what?  Why would I want to ruin good tea like that? No thanks.  She didn't seem to understand my horror at her question.  I grabbed a small table with my back to the wall and facing the ever increasing number of people.  I had already purchased my book and gotten my color-coded card, so I was good for a while.  There were college students working on their laptops, friends with the books waiting like me, and other bookstore patrons who hadn't anticipated quite that many people on a Saturday.  Guess they missed the monster "book signing" signs out front.  

After about 20 minutes a woman sat down at the adjacent table with wedding planning books.  Then, a cute young couple joined her to chat about their wedding. She was the planner and by golly she was going to plan.  I can't tell you how many times they said "simple, short" and how many times she wanted to plug in just one more thing.  Finally, after what felt to me like an excruciating amount of time, they got her to see simple and short and went on their way.  

Next, a mother and her adult daughter sat down.  The daughter mentioned, a few times, how she had told her mother they should have come earlier.  They had already sold out of the PW recipe book (really B&N, really?) and the mother had wanted one.  So, they got out the iPhone app and reserved a book at another location.  Dad, being the fantastic guy that he was drove to the next location, bought the book and brought it back for the signing.  What a guy.  Everyone was happy, well except maybe Dad who realized it would still be a couple hours before they reached the front of the line.

I asked a few folks if they wanted to join me on my day at the bookstore for the signing.  My friend Abbie came along for the fun - well, after she escaped work in the afternoon.  About 4 ladies sat down on the other side of our table in the cafe section.  They had their stack of books and their colored cards, they were 2 groups ahead of us.  We were estimating how long until we stood in line, chatting about the other folks in the store, joking about our current addiction to Angry Birds (an app for smartphones and ipads), and commenting on the nice selection of cameras around the joint.  Of course I had lugged my Nikon to the event, but then again, I do that a lot.  About 30 minutes after they got in line, we saw the nice 4 ladies again.  They waved as they went by us, still sitting in the cafe.

A couple interesting observations, if you didn't know if was a PW book signing, you might have mistakenly thought it was a Vera Bradley convention.  I am not kidding, they were everywhere.  All colors, sizes, styles, it was better that looking online and trying to decide what you wanted.  There they were, in living color.  Also, but completely unrelated, there was a small group of Amish women.  Hmm, I'm not really sure how blogging fits into the Amish lifestyle.  The only thing we could think of (because of course we chatted about it at the table) was that some PW recipes are very home style and could definitely fit into Amish life.

 I'm so glad Pioneer Woman could make it out our way (and that the weather was on our side, it's a toss up in February).  Great times had by all. 

Until next time!


18 February 2011

New Scotland Yard

This is a photo from my 2005 trip in London.  Sure, I hit the usual tourist places and some lesser known haunts, but going to Scotland Yard was kind of a kick for me.  As you can see, it was a bright warm day - not your average weather.  I love the reflection of the city off the glass building and barriers.  There is also a slight reflection of the rotating sign off the granite wall to the right.  This is a straight out of the camera shot.


For more reflections:

For more SOOC on Sunday:

17 February 2011

Hearts Thursday

This week there were many hearts to be found.  This is a century home I pass most days on my way home from work.  It is all brick and is quite large in the back.  The house has 7 fireplaces to keep them warm (or to try and keep the inside air from escaping up the chimney, depending on how you look at it.)

They do a great job of decorating for all occasions, so I wasn't surprised to see hearts and red lights hanging from all the trees, the door frame and the mailbox.  It was really too cute.  Good for them celebrating everyday!

For more hearts:


15 February 2011

Tuesday Barn Charm

A couple really big barns on a working farm.  I'm about 1/4 mile from these buildings and they still look huge.
I love how these prompts from other blogs and photographers have gotten me out and about and seeing things I may have otherwise just passed by.  What a neat gift it has been for me.

For more lovely barns:


13 February 2011

Speaking...and listening

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. 
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, 
I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
-Revelation 3:20 

Yes, it really is just that easy.  Listen, hear and open the door.
This is not my church, but one I drive by regularly.  I had stopped on an autumn day to get pumpkins and to take some afternoon sun photos of the piles of orange.  I love how the phrase is in big bold letters on the building, clearly visible from the street.  It's almost as if to say, God is still talking to you, even if you aren't going to come inside today.  It's okay, just keep listening and keep opening the door.


12 February 2011

Stepping into time

This is a whole new challenge for me this week.  The Red Dress Club hosts a weekly 'red writing hood' prompt and then you write a short story.  This week's prompt asked you to begin your piece with the words, "I could never have imagined" and end it with "Then the whole world shifted."

I could have never imagined I would voluntarily be boarding a train at 7am on a Saturday.  But there I was, bag slung across my body, hopping on and seeking out a seat with a table.  The train from Lancaster to Glasgow runs frequently, but I didn't want to have to fight the crowds later in the morning.  I had brought a book and an iPod, but wasn't too interested in either so early.  My camera stayed stowed for the time being.  This portion of the journey was more about observation than documentation.

About 20 minutes into the trip, a man about my own age boarded and sat across and diagonal from me. He had a messenger bag and seemed to be quickly involved in some academic endeavor or other.  I recognized that look, the ability to immediately zone out of your surroundings and cram all the necessary information into your brain before your final destination.

We arrived in Glasgow and I was struck by the contradictions throughout the city.  As I traveled by bus and on foot, the periods of historic growth and decline were undeniable.  There were industrial areas, with tenement housing and barely recognizable shipyards.  The end of continuous decades of war had left scars in the way of significant loss of industry, jobs and support of families.  I walked on passed the centuries old churchyard on the hill and into the streets lined with Georgian-era stone houses and mansions now developed into office buildings.  I turned the corner and was transported into the Victorian times, where the people really learned how to spend money.  I visited the People's Palace and with eyes to the dark sky, headed toward the 'newest area' of the city, the section the leaders and local economists hoped would revitalize the city.

As I strolled within the pedestrian walkways, I was shocked by the crush of people trying to get to the high end stores, the variety of street entertainers, and the tourists trying to see every last thing.  I saw how the influence of the 21st century had all but erased the stunning history of the city, and the whole world shifted.

Also linking up today to Jan and Straight out of the camera Sunday.  See more SOOC photos here.

11 February 2011

SkyWatch Friday

(A priority)  F25  1/1600  1600

I caught this very brief winter sun on a Sunday afternoon.  
I think it was the gift of the day...well, maybe of the week,
considering how seldom it appears these days!

Happy Weekend!


10 February 2011

Random Hearts Thursday

I was inspired to look for hearts by a prompt at Random Hearts and Inger-M at A Picture in Time who finds amazing hearts in the coolest places.  So, when I finally found this in our ice storm the other night, it made my week!!

It's not a perfect heart, but it's beautiful in my eyes anyway.
Pop over to Random Hearts to see more.


09 February 2011

A nice addition to my week

Ashley over at Until the Stars Align gave me this nice award.  I wanted to answer the 10 questions that came along with it.  Most of my posts are less about me and more about where I go and what I find, so this will be new for me.

The 10 Questions:

1. Why did you create this blog?
I bought a new camera in 2010 and wanted somewhere to put all my photo attempts.  Also, I like to travel and share what I see with friends and family.  I have also added some things along the way, like recipes I have tried, crafts I have made, and just recently books I have read.
2. What kinds of blogs do you follow?
So many kinds!  I like to learn from photography blogs and really, the art out there is amazing.  I read cooking, crochet and paper crafting blogs to find a couple new things to try now and again. (BTW, if anyone has good links for beginner crochet ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments).  And I read Mommy blogs (and adoption blogs) because I love to see every day celebrated through children.

3. Favorite make-up brand?
Bare Minerals for most; Cover Girl for lipstick. 

4. Favorite clothing brand?
Chicos - it's a women's boutique-like chain.  They have really good travel clothing.  Packs well, washes well, wears like a dream and isn't heavy (so I have more bag weight available for the trip back and for the stuff I buy on holiday).

5. Indispensable makeup product?
Cover Girl outlast lipstick.  Lasts for hours - which is good because I only want to do it once a day if I can get away with it.

6. Favorite color?
This depends on the day and mood I am in.  I  can usually narrow it to red - for vibrant days and sage green for calm days.

7. Favorite perfume?
In the real world, a few different ones from Bath and Body.  If I were looking at a gift, I wouldn't turn down Chanel.

8. Favorite film(s)?
Miracle on 34th Street and Sound of Music.

9. What country would you like to visit and why?
I am looking forward to Norway and Iceland down the road.  Switzerland and Japan make the list too.  I love to learn other cultures and try to blend in.  Clearly, I do it better in some than others.  I remember when I was in Spain long enough to dream in Spanish.  It was so surreal to think in a second language, not just translate continuously in my head.

10. Would you rather forget to put mascara on one eye or forget blush on one side of your face?
Well, considering how little I function in the morning, I have probably done both at one time or another.  I suppose mascara would be less obvious.  
Hope you enjoy this cute list.  Thanks again to Ashley!

08 February 2011

Travel Expo

My friend Susan had some free tickets to a nearby travel expo a few weeks ago.  
We were happy to go ponder potential travel destinations and look for any new ideas.  
While we were there, Samantha Brown (from the travel channel) was there talking.  Hoards of people were all standing around, so the photo I took from the way back with my little point and shoot wasn't too good.  She is one of my favorite travelers to watch (along with Burt Wolfe and Rick Steeves) and she seems quite nice.

Exotic locales?  Hmm, something to think about.

I would love to head back to Europe, London is the home of my heart.  Also, I would like to do a tea house tour at some point. I have met the loveliest people in tea shops across the world.
Norway is on my list for a couple years from now.  I have friends with family there and it will be their year to travel.  I hope to hop on their plans so they can show me around and I can take all kinds of stunning snaps.

After the expo, we went to a local Cuban diner.  This place has a good menu and yummy specials, not to mention some serious 70's kitch on the walls, and ceilings and every available nook and cranny.  One main wall is painted this vibrant blue with celestial bodies of all sorts.

The opposite side has the collection of 70's clocks.  Do you remember these?  We had one, it was by the entrance to the house...a few years back.  I don't know what happened to it when we moved houses during my high school years.  Perhaps it's in one of those boxes you didn't even realize didn't get unpacked.  Or it found a new home elsewhere.

We both had wonderful meals and enjoyed the ambiance of the diner.  For a Sunday afternoon out, it was quite the popular place to be.  Off to go through all my travel catalogs now, so that when I see that tax return I can start dreaming a bit more!


06 February 2011

Macro Monday - Happy Monday

These are some mini candles I pulled out the other day during the last storm.  Luckily, my power only blinked off briefly, unlike some other folks around town.  I pulled out all my candles and put on the fireplace, just in case.  I have to tell you, the house did smell good with the scented candles going!

Also wanted to join with Allie Photography today.  Her prompt this week is Black and White.  I thought I would use a favorite from my archives - one that was from a mostly white day!


05 February 2011

Because I need some color

Because it's been snowing for months 
Because I need to see something other than white in my photos
Because I miss spending long stretches of time outside with my camera
Because I am looking forward to spring and summer
And because roses make me happy!

Pretend with me that it won't be below zero temps again next week...


04 February 2011

SkyWatch Friday

My friend Joanna is the guest photographer for this Friday (she doesn't have a blog, so I thought I'd share).  She took this on top of a hospital with her iPhone.  Luckily, she was just visiting the area, not traveling in the MedFlight!

For other great skies around the world:

Happy Friday!


02 February 2011

Watery Wednesday - Black and White Wednesday

A bonus post today, because the weather provided some interesting "water" photos.

A small bush out front, trying to ride out this rough winter.

Icicles hanging all over the house...and they started falling off en masse about 3am. Yup, that kept me up a while. 
I'm sure many a house across the U.S. has this look right now.

This is what all the trees and bushes (and drive lanes and roadways) look like in my neighborhood right now.  We're expecting a bit more snow, you know for color, and 40mph winds to top off the whole event.  I cheated and took these with a flash, because it was a little too chilly to set up the tripod last night!