29 June 2011

Guest heart fun

Heart shapes on the two-toned green petals of this wonderful ground cover type plant. 

Hearts on the beautiful scrapbook paper and embellishments.  I helped a friend of mine with making a gift - geez it's a lot of work to do those books!

Hearts in my sushi!

More hearts at Guest Heart Thursday.

28 June 2011

Take a Chance Challenge - Book Review

This is another (brief) book review for the 12 month Take a Chance Challenge.  This choice fell under the category of Blogger's Choice - where a blogger has chosen it as a 'best read' book.  I found several bloggers have chosen it for a favorite read, so I thought it was time to read it myself.

 One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Published by Zondervan 2011

240 pages

Genre: Spirituality, Christian living

Available: Hardcover, eReaders, (I borrowed it from the library)

Brief description: The author describes her continued journey with God by sharing her life experiences, bible verses, a-ha moments, and joy she finds in counting her blessings.  She begins the book describing life altering events through her eyes as a very young child.  She explains how these events change the path of her family and how she finds her way back through gifts.  The gifts are every day things; a sunset, baby birds, her children running around the yard - not necessarily tangible things.  She brings the reader along through her moments of uncertainty as well as her moments of joy.  The book is presented in 11 chapters, each focusing on a theme she hopes to share and building on the points made previously.

My thoughts: I wanted to love this book, because so many people suggested it.  I love the idea of this book and felt the energy and passion for her experience through the many pages.  However, to me, she writes in a  stream of consciousness, as if you are in her head with her.  First her memories of her sister or how she met her husband, than a jump to a bible verse or spiritual reference, then back to working it all out in her head, but on paper.  I had to set it down for several days at a time and ponder it.  Maybe that was the point.  I was with her word for word through about the first third of the book.  Then I kept reading more to try and understand her point, even if I didn't catch every detail.

The important part of this book for me was counting your gifts from God everyday in some way.  They do not have to be large gestures, just something that reminds you that being here today is in itself, a gift.  Enjoy it, share it, rejoice in it and do something good with it.  So, in the spirit of 'counting my gifts', today's gifts were: getting a sunny day to clean out my car and make it sparkle again, making plans with my friends for a mini-vacation next week, and having delicious iced red tea as the sun sets.


26 June 2011

A morning macro

I was up early enough to catch the dew still on the grass one morning this week.  Although, to be honest, this is actually a weed that has sprouted in the garden at work.  I couldn't resist catching those perfect little drops shining in the bright morning sun.  I guess this is a reminder that God doesn't make mistakes, because even the weeds are beautiful.

And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you,
that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  (1 John 1:5)


24 June 2011

Playing in the sun

I've a had a few chances to go out and play with the sunshine and see how all of this rain has helped things grow.  Roses along the fence, sneaking through the split rail!

The wind picked up and showed me a surprise - red helicopter seeds!  I couldn't resist taking some photos of these beautiful trees with their special pods.

A garden planted by a team of folks all in one day.  They had the overgrown and old bushes pulled out, then designed this new layout and got to digging!  It is really starting to fill in now.

And holy cow, check out these hostas!

Just me, the camera, and some fun in the sun.

Have a good weekend. I'm headed out to look for some new scenic places to photograph.  I decided to enter some photos in the state fair this year...so some new ones wouldn't hurt!


22 June 2011

Wish I was here...

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I'll tak' the low (road)
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon'.
(Scottish song The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond based on poem by Andrew Lang)

Loch Lomond            


20 June 2011

How I spent my summer...so far

It was hot.

And sticky, and you could see the humidity in the air as it hung around the buildings downtown.

It looked like the weather folks were going to nail it this time about the afternoon storms.  Although, you don't really need a meteorologist to predict the weather in Cleveland, it changes so often you're bound to be right at some point in the day.

We'd come into the city after church and crossed the Father's Day inbound traffic for the baseball game.  Kids and Dads and all kinds of people sporting their best Tribe attire in red, white, and blue.  Caps, shorts, and shirtsleeves, with not a rain poncho to be seen.  Denial that weather would interrupt a perfect afternoon at the ballpark was part of surviving in Cleveland.

 We had a different destination this Sunday.  We were headed for the 3rd Annual Gulyas-Goulash cook-off (to raise money to restore a Hungarian cultural garden).  My BIL's family is a strong part of this community.  You see, I grew up with a last name that is 10 letters long and the consonants far outweigh the vowels.  The kind of name you just spell for people before you pronounce it for them.  I had friends with last names like Trivanovich, Schlatzer, and McCollough. 

So it's safe to say that supporting cultural festivals in is the blood - and when there is food to be had, more the better!

It was hosted outside of a downtown church.  This church was closed by the diocese a few years ago during the heart-wrenching consolidation efforts for economic reasons, but the longtime parishioners still hope they may get to return.

There were portable tents and tables set up in a circle with more than a dozen kinds of homemade goulash.  Even in the heat, it was fabulous.  Each person was given a numbered list, to be checked off as you got a "taster" bowl from that chef.

 One of my favorites must have been others' favorite as well, because they had quite a crowd going!

There were tables with checker board tablecloths set up under every available tree.  Some folks had brought patio umbrellas while others wore sunhats.  Because we weren't right off the lake, the breezes were few and far between.  The crowd had many mature members, but also the occasional child or two, usually found closer to the pastry tent than the goulash!

After tasting as many as you could, before they ran out, you marked your favorite number on the back of the ballot and placed it in the kettle. 

Because of course, where else would you collect ballots for goulash but a kettle?

They had a one-man band with his tricked out accordion and high tech electronic back up music.  I don't know his name, but he was quite good.  My baby niece would be the first to tell you, because she was out there dancing right along with the polka-wanna-be's here.  And she clapped after every song!

Just as the kettles were being tipped to ladle out the very last bowls, the announcement came that a storm was about 30 minutes out.  I pulled out my smartphone and checked the weather channel radar map.  The array of colors close to the GPS pindrop on the map made me think 30 minutes was a generous estimate!  We cleaned up the tables, gathered up our belongings, did the 'family goodbye' - you know, where everyone has to say good bye to each person as if they won't see them any time soon...(like tomorrow), and headed to the car.

I'd made it about 2 miles out of town, starting my road trip home before the deluge hit.  It didn't last the whole trip home, but it did make me thankful for light Sunday traffic on the highways.  If you get a chance to pop into a cultural festival this summer or fall I highly recommend it.  Not only could you learn and see new things, and have some great eats, but you support the families that built our cities and towns into the diverse-rich communities they still are today.


17 June 2011

Which one of these...

Remember the Sesame Street "which one of these is not like the other"?

That's all I can think when I see my daisies out front!

One of the plants just seems to be overachieving this summer.  
They are also home to some very busy bees.

They were buzzing all around, not the least bit concerned about me or my camera phone.


16 June 2011

Thankful Thursday - Summer

About 4 years ago I met my friend StarryNews.  She and I were part of a travel abroad summer in the UK.  It was fabulous.  When we returned she introduced me to many of her friends and one of their great traditions.  They try to get together weekly and have a theme potluck.  This is a good idea for fun any time, but when it's with people who can actually cook, it's fantastic!

To celebrate summer and perfect weather, we ate in V&G's backyard.  This is the view of the adjacent lake.  It's a relaxing dinner setting.  On this day, they also had a tent set up, so the one little one at the dinner loved getting to eat in her special place.

Tonight's theme was tropical.  So, we had tropical chicken lettuce wraps, coconut rice, and fruit salad.  In keeping with summer, all were cold dishes.

 D. and her little rugrat brought this YUMMY Asian mango pudding with coconut ice cream (made with coconut milk, not dairy).  I absolutely need to find this in the store to complete my summer stock in the freezer.

And what would a summer dinner be without a camp fire and s'mores?  For the gluten free among us, StarryNews and I can attest that using chocolate to hold the marshmallow is just as yummy as graham crackers!

Linking for the first time to Thankful Thursdays (at Black Tag Diaries), because I am thankful to have good food, good friends, and good times!


Thankful Thursdays Button

14 June 2011

Red Barn in the Burbs

This barn and it's cute little side buildings, is one of a handful left on this street.  It is located a couple miles from the sister's house and over the last 20 years, the suburbs have sprouted up all around it. 

All of the buildings and the wonderful yard around them are extremely well cared for, almost as if they know the importance of showing a little history to the newer neighbors.

(Kim's new Mayzee texture used in these photos.)

More beautiful barns at Barn Charm.
More wonderful textures at Texture Tuesday.


12 June 2011

Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. 
It does not demand its own way. 
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance ... Love will last forever!

-1 Corinthians 13:4–8a (NLT)

Some friends of mine finally made it down the aisle this weekend.  I couldn't be happier for them!  Individually they are two of the best people I've ever known.  Finding each other and coming together in marriage is a blessing they truly deserve.


10 June 2011

Nap time

My family bought me a new iPhone for my birthday and my friend J. got me an iTunes gift card.  A perfect combination!  So I've downloaded a few fun photo apps to take pictures and edit them right on the phone.

I thought I would test some of the settings on my willing model, Molly.  You'll note she's napping in most of these photos, her main past time.  This one is from the Camera+ app.  I upped the lighting, tweaked the color a tad, and used the polaroid frame.

Here she was sleeping on my lap, with one ear tucked under.  I originally took this using the Instagram app, but then tweaked it more in the Camera+ app.  I like the older photo, white edge frame.

This one uses the black edge frame and the antique coloring.  Also, Molly was wondering just why I interrupted her snooze!

This one is from Instagram as well.  I used the 'Earlybird' color and rounded corners option.  I like it how it focuses on the face. 

I want to try to use these apps more often.  I have been happy with the photos and video from the phone, even with it's itty bitty lens.  I've read several blogs by photographers using phone cameras and point and shoots exclusively.  They have amazing photographs.  I'd like to take on the challenge of getting some really neat shots with this tool once in a while.

If you have an favorites apps you can't live without, do share!


08 June 2011

Honor Flight

The World War II Memorial in Washington DC took a very long time and lots of commitment to finally finish.  Unfortunately, that means many of the folks it honors, are in poor health or otherwise may have trouble getting to see it on their own.

To help assist in this endeavor, Honor Flight was born.  I learned about it from one of my co-workers who regularly helps out on these trips.  In our area, Southwest Airlines will charter a flight solely for this purpose and take the veterans and helpers to and from the city to DC and back in the same day. 

To raise money to keep the program going, this partial miniature replica was built.  It was built on a trailer, so it can be moved around and used in parades.  It is quite impressive on its own.

It is always touching to see how these flights are received when they land at the airport in DC and then again when they come home.  I love that the news media continues to show us these flights, because it is very meaningful to the people involved and their families.

If you look closely, you will see the "Kilroy is here" engraving, just like on the real memorial.

If you are interested in seeing the memorial, or helping out with Honor Flights in your part of the U.S., click on the links above for more information.


07 June 2011

The second creek

Today's memory prompt from The Red Dress Club is something from childhood.

I thought I would go back to when my brothers and I were running around outside, a lot.  I think one of the few things that helped my parents keep their sanity with 4 children, is our love of the outdoors.

"Go outside and play!"

This was a phrase my mother would say, or exclaim, or utter with exhaustion on a regular basis growing up.  You see, my two older brothers and I were all born within about three years of each other.  Yep, that's a lot of diapers all at once.  Seven years later, when we were pretty self sufficient, my baby sister came along.  So now my parents had a handful of noisy children and a baby who needed a nap.

So out we would go.  Sunny days, rainy afternoons (on the porch or in the garage), summer nights, even snow days - we had the appropriate gear for everything.  A few of our favorite destinations were in the woods beyond our back yard.  They seemed to go on forever, but at that time it was probably about a mile and a half.  To us, it was just about to heaven.

There were two creeks.  The first creek was barely noticeable, unless we'd had a really good rain.  Even with my shorter legs, I could easy jump the creek and get through the woods with boys (my brothers were always quite long-legged).  This creek was just out of sight of the house, but within hollering range of the end of the back yard.  Some days that was the limit of how far we were allowed to play.  If it was getting dark, it looked like a storm was rolling in, or Mom just wanted to know she could call us back at will.

Then there was the second creek.  It took a trek to get back to this creek and it was worth every step.  It was big and bold (to us little rugrats) and it had tadpoles!  There were also gigantic blackberry bushes.  We would bring our sand pails and fill them until our arms got tired.  It only took one or two berry picking sessions to remember to wear longs sleeves for that adventure. 

But the funniest thing that I remember from all of those years ago, is the path through the woods back to the creeks.  I can still picture it in my mind.  At the beginning of each spring, the path was a little overgrown, so we would walk it over and over again to stamp it down.  All the kids on our street knew the way to the second creek.  That's what we always called it, the second creek.  We never needed a fancy name for it, no directions on how to get there, we just knew.  After the quick path from the yard to the first creek, which was pretty open and obvious, you had to go up a little hill and through a series of snaking curves.  I'm sure it was not the most efficient way to the second creek, but it was the one we used every single year.  There were no artificial markings, just tree layouts and fallen wood to show us the way.  I always listed for the rushing water, and gauged just how much further it was to the creek.  It was easier after rain, and sometimes in the late summer I remember thinking it took much longer to get to the creek.  Really, it was because the creek was smaller and quieter, not overflowing the floodplains anymore.  Oh, and it was hot and sticky by then.

We moved out of that house on Sunset Drive when I was in high school and although we only moved a few streets over, there were no more woods or creeks.  I'm sure the four boys that ended up living in that first house carried on the tradition of playing in the creeks, until "progress" caused the the second creek to be transformed into a housing development.  It doesn't matter, because in my mind there will always be that wooded path to the second creek.


04 June 2011

SOOC Roses

This is part of the rose park I visited earlier this week.  In the middle is a fountain, and you can see a few other folks strolling through the paths, enjoying the multitude of rose varieties.

I think peach and orange are my favorite color of rose, although really, they are all so beautiful in their own way.

Some buds/blossoms were individual, while others bloomed in bunches.  I really liked the contrast of the pink against the bright blue sky.

Several of them were two toned, this was 2 layers of purple, while the ones below were red on one side of the petal and white on the other.

Throughout the park, there are labels for each type of rose and for whom it was named.  
All of these photos are straight out of the camera (a bit of cropping, and 1 watermark on this last one).