Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Texture Tuesday and Prompt Addicts Animals

Today was Texture Tuesday at Kim Klassen's website with a theme of "in the garden".  I fell in love with textures when I participated in my first Picture class with Tracey Clark.  Someone posted a picture that had textures and I was immediately hooked.  Since then, I have collected many of Kim's textures as well as others that are free on flickr (an on-line website to post photos).  I love using textures, they can turn an ordinary photo into a thing of beauty.  It took a bit of getting used to adding the textures, adjusting the opacity, choosing the one that enhances the photo, and does not distract.  I look at some early ones and cringe, but then again, as with everything in life, practise improves the process. 

This week I am the guest prompter for our flickr group, The Prompt Addicts.  Each week we receive a prompt (a theme for the week) on Sunday, thru the week we post our photos that fit the weekly prompt.   Last week, Claudia (one of our group leaders) decided to add "best of show" to the week.  We now vote on the top 5 photos of the week, which I think has upped the ante a bit and encouraged our members to add their best to the group pool.  At the end of the week, 5 people are awarded a "best of show" on line certificate.  I have gotten a little off-track with explaining all of this...but this week my prompt is animals.  We have had everything from flowers to babies to vintage but not animals.  It's been fun.  I love animals and I have loved capturing the images that I have posted this week.  The racoon, the llama, the fox and the bunny all were shot at a small local zoo.  We could get fairly close to the animals, but some were in cages with such thick screening you could not shoot thru, all you got were shots of fencing.  grrrr.  They had a baby barn owl and a baby owl that were sooo cute, but alas no pictures. 

I titled this one "Fox Hole" not original but appropriate....

These little guys are right here in the neighborhood.  Two Canada Geese families had babies a week or so ago, one had 2 goslings, the other had 3.  Aren't their cute little fuzzy butts cute??  Actually, don't tell them, but I think their butts are quite big.  All I have ever see them do is eat, eat, eat, sometimes they are laying down eating....no wonder their butts are so big.  These babies grow so fast, before you know it they will be as big as their parents. With all the rain, the grass is especially nice and green and I am sure tasty, thus the rate of growth. 

This poor llama has some serious dental issues.  Get me some Crest White Strips, please!!

This little sweetheart posed so nicely for me.  This is the way I like to see bunnies, caged, that way they are not eating my garden.  We have a hawk family nesting on top of the water tower in our neighborhood, so we may not have any bunnies this year or mice....yea!!!!

"All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it." ~ Samuel Butler

Until next time,

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

We spent the afternoon at Lisa's again today, eventho we were just there yesterday for the big graduation.  We usually spend holidays together whether at our home or Lisa's & Sam's.  Lisa loves to entertain, loves to cook, and I must say and not just because she is my daughter, she is a wonderful cook.  She is about as big as a minute (unlike her Mom) and many times she doesn't eat the food that she prepares....how can she do that??  Wish I knew her secret, maybe I would be as big as a minute too....I am more like an hour.  Today's weather was perfect summertime weather, warm, breezy and bright sunshine, a perfect Memorial Day for all the outdoor celebrations.  The above photo is Lisa's white clemantis that blooms so beautifully at this time of the year.  With that purple center and those beautiful stamens that look like little spider legs it is a stunner. 

The first corn of the summer was quite tasty.  Can hardly wait for the corn here to ripen and be available at all the local farmer's markets, it will be a bit of a wait since the corn has barely begun it's rise toward the sky and we need to keep our fingers crossed that it will be as high as an elephants eye by the 4th of July.  With all the rain and cool weather we have had here this spring, we will be mighty lucky to have corn by August. 

Another summer favorite is fruit salad with watermelon, cantelope, strawberries, kiwi, and grapes, doesn't that just scream summer?  It was as good as it looks.  And it's convenient to serve in the empty hollowed out watermelon. 

Fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil picked right from the garden, red onion and a splash of balsamic vinegar, what is more perfect than that.  Spending the day with our family, eating delicious food, and remembering all who have died protecting our country's freedoms is a day I will remember. 

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." - John F. Kennedy

Until next time,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Graduation Sunday

Picked up my first batch of cherries at the grocery this morning while shopping for ingredients to make my potato salad.  Today is Brie's graduation from highschool and afterward we are celebrating with a party at "the gymn" with food & fun.  All of my grandchildren and my children and my son-in-law and my husband all love my potato salad and whenever there is a party with food they request that I bring my potato salad.  Today was a little bittersweet as I peeled and cut-up all the ingredients I thought of my Mom and how much she loved my potato salad.  The last time I made it she was right next to me in the kitchen helping me peel the potatoes, so not only did the onions make me cry, but the thought of her and how much I still miss her also brought tears to my eyes.  So yes, life is like a bowl of cherries, there is a little bit of sour (missing her) but there is a whole lot of sweetness in my memories. 

This morning when I looked out the kitchen window to the backyard, I had a nice surprise.  My mystery plant had bloomed and what a gorgeous bloom it is.  I knew by the shape of the plant and the leaves that it was an iris, but until this AM I had no idea what color it would be.  Again, I still do not remember buying it or planting it, but after 2 years the mystery has revealed itself.  It has at least 4 blooms on one stalk so the enjoyment should continue for awhile.  All the iris' are in bloom now and my head turns from one beautiful specimen to the next....blue, white, light purple, dark purple, deep red, peach, yellow the colors seem to be endless.  I am seeing all these while I am driving....one of these days my looking is going to cause me some trouble. 

This beauty is in my friend, Catherine's front yard.  I had never seen a peach iris until I saw hers.  She said she would share with me when it grew large enough to divide.  Extra doses of Miracle Grow please. 

This lovely lives next door in Nancy's garden.  I do believe these were in her Mother's garden that she shared with her daughter.  Now Nancy gets to enjoy them and so do I. 

After graduation, it was picture time with the graduate.  These 2 lovelies are my daughter, Lisa and my granddaughter, Brie.  Brie is the one in the cap & gown....just in case you were wondering. 

The graduate with her brother, Brandon and her sister, Bailey.  Again, Brie is the one in the cap & gown.  All 3 of them graduated from the same highschool, which sometimes is a rarity among families.

The family....Hilary (the new daughter-in-law), Brandon (the brother, married to the new daughter-in-law), Sam (the Dad with the hat???) Brie (the one in the cap & gown, but I guess you know that by now) Lisa (the Mom) and Bailey (the sister).  It was a happy, happy day.  Now, off to eat the potato salad.

"I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known."  ~Author Unknown

Until next time......

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Little Bit on Thursday

Next week I am starting a new Tracey Clark Picture class, Picture Color.  Each morning I will receive an email from Tracey with a prompt for the day for each of the 30 days in June.  Since the name of the class is Picture Color my assumption is that each day we will focus on a particular color.  This is the 6th Picture Class I have taken from Tracey, loving each and every one.  Improving my photography skills, meeting some wonderful women, and just down right having a fun time thru these classes.  So if this sounds like something you would be interested in, go to http://www.bigpictureclasses.com/ and register.  I guarantee you will have a great time.   

OK, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol are both now over.  I was giddy when Kym and Hines won the Miraball Trophy on Dancing with the Stars,  altho I would not have been disappointed if any of the top 3 would have won.  American Idol had a fantastic final show, bringing the top 12 back for some great numbers, stars galore, and I gotta admit that Steven Tyler still has it.  Not a big surprise when Scotty won, he had been a fan fav since week 1.  Just wonder if he will become a big star, or fade away like so many of the other idol winners have.  He certainly seemed to be a super nice young man. 

"Creativity is God's gift to you, what you do with it is your gift to God"   Bob Moawad

Until next time.....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's the Little Things

We woke up this morning to thunder, lightning, and heavy rains.  I so wanted to just turn my back to the window, snuggle up and go back to sleep.  But today was the 1st day with the WOW ladies at Barnes & Noble and I sure didn't want to miss it eventho the bed was really calling my name.  I have a sleeping problem, which I will probably whine about now and in the future, and I was sooo tempted to crawl back in bed because sleep had finally come after a rather long night without. 

As I got dressed I wondered how many other ladies would feel the same as I and crawl back into bed, not coming to B&N.   There were 7 of us which made for lively discussions and lots of laughter.  The empty container is just one of the pleasures I find on these Wednesdays....B&N Tiramisu, but the most pleasure is the spirit of sisterhood that encompasses our group.   We have decided to pick a theme to focus on for the week, we began the summer with Random Acts of Kindness RAK, given and received.  We shared thoughts, but something that stood out for me was those acts that we do that no-one knows about....another word for it is integrity.  Doing something because you know it's right, not because you have to, but because you want to.  We are continuing again this week with RAK because, as one of the lady's said, "it makes you think about doing for others."  PS....I tried to pay for the car behind me in the drive-thru at McDonald's and I totally confused the cashier, the transaction got so messed up that she had to call for a manager to straighten it out.  I may have been nice to the person behind me, but I sure played havoc on the poor cashier.  Have you given or received a RAK lately??

Little things make me happy.   Putting a cup of cold coffee in the microwave to reheat and being able to touch the cup handle without it burning to the point of blisters on the fingers.  Why is it that some cups that are "microwavable" come out with their handles so freakin' hot and others are just fine??  hummm, one of the mysteries of life. 

Finding something as cute as this kitty cat topiary really makes me happy.  I don't know who thinks up things like this, but they must have a cute gene in them.  It totally brightens my day.  What brightens your day? 

And finally, roses, they make me really happy, especially one as beautiful as this.  This is NOT in my garden, I don't do well with roses except for the kind that requires very little tending.  This was taken at our local garden center.  Whenever I visit I always come home with a plant or a flower or a cute little something from their gift shop and always several great images on my camera.  Have a happy day.

Until next time.....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

I am sitting here, laptop on, TV on, watching American Idol a little disappointed with the two that are remaining.  Don't get me wrong I like both Scotty and Lauren, how could you not like these two cute kids, but I was so hoping Hailey would have been in the finals, only to make it a little more interesting.  I was not a fan of Hailey, but she really came on strong towards the end.  I think both she and James will do just fine without winning American Idol.  Well, time will tell what country performer will win. 

And then as soon as this is over, Dancing with the Stars is on....oh my such suspense in one night, how can I take all this?  Go Kym and Hines...!!!

 Oh Hip Hip Hooray....Hines & Kym are the new champions of Dancing with the Stars!!!  He just seems like such a nice guy and Kym is so gracious and BEAUTIFUL!!  I am happy!!

Blueberries....now nobody will debate the fact these sweet little fruits are 1) delicious and 2) good for you, right?  Well, believe it or not they came from Wendy's....yeah Wendy's the fast food, hamburger, chili, Wendy's.  A few months back they introduced some new salads and I have to admit they are really tasty, all made with fresh greens & their newest one with strawberries & blueberries, grilled chicken and a yummy fat free (yeah fat free) raspberry dressing.   So the moral to this story is....you CAN eat healthy at a fast food restaurant. 

A Perennial Geranium

I love this little flower.  I have several different species of this wonderful flower planted in my garden some are light pink, some are bright pink and some of them are this wonderful purplish/blue.  Most all bloom in the spring/early summer but Roxanne blooms ALL summer.  And they are very reliable coming back every year to bloom again and again and again.  

An early blooming Clematis

Another garden favorite and again I have several different varieties of these in my garden, ranging from light purple, dark purple, and white...small blooms and large blooms all climbers.  Stay tuned for more pictures of this gorgeous climbing flower.  

Ever-blooming begonia

Another garden fav.  Not a perennial, but a must have for pots in the shade.  And it does non-stop blooming all summer long.  Spectacular colors....!!!!

The red, red rose

Nothing says garden like a beautiful red rose.  This is NOT in my garden, I wish, but I don't have enough full sun to grow beautiful roses like this.  I shot this lovely at our local garden center, added a Kim Klassen texture and entered it in Kim's Texture Tuesday.  

Today I read some very good advice on shooting with your dslr from Elizabeth Halford, a professional photographer.  "I think it’s really important to understand the settings on your camera and how they work and why, but we can get so hung up on technicalities that we forget our first love: creating images. In my estimation, whether you shoot in raw or jpg, auto or manual, the only real ‘no no’ is missing your shot because you were fiddling with buttons and settings. Learn your craft, but don’t be ashamed of your methods. If they work, they work. No one ever looked at a famous painting and worried about the brand of paint that was used or said, “yeah, but you see that brush stroke there? Not a very advanced technique.” Just love photography and get your shot no matter what." 

I was really happy to read that since I tend to be a lazy photographer.  I usually shoot in Aperature Priority Mode since I always like the "fuzzy" background.  I feel like I get more good shots than if I continually "fiddle" with the settings....like Elizabeth said, don't be ashamed of your methods.  Do what works for you. 

Until next time....

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's Monday Babies

A couple of weeks ago our Prompt Addicts group, a group of ladies on flickr that is a spin-off of all the Big Picture classes with Tracey Clarke we all participated in together and couldn't bear to stop, weekly theme was babies.  (Wow, that was a long sentence, hope you kept up) Some of the women in our group have babies or have grandbabies or about to become new grandmothers to grandbabies, anyway, the theme for the week was babies.  Now we were not restricted to human babies, we could photograph baby anything.  Since I have no babies, am not a grandmother to any babies I had to look elsewhere for my photo shots of babies.  That week I prowled our neighborhood ponds looking, looking for baby ducks, or baby anything.  Like everything else around here this spring, even the babies were late in coming.  Yesterday, camera in hand, I walked across the street to the pond and lo and behold there were baby goslings.  Two sets of Mom & Pop Canada geese (I have no idea how to puralize that) had babies.  One Mom & Pop had 2 little goslings, another had three.  They seem to hang out together, probably swapping baby stories, but when I came anywhere near, Mom & Pop would scurry their babies into the water away from me and my camera.  Lucky me I lugged along my Tamron 200-500mm zoom lens so I was able to get really close, without getting really close.  The sweet shot above was taken just after these 3 little darlings had been hurried away from the big bad human and as you can see, the one in the middle still had a piece of grass hanging from his little mouth/beak, probably whinning because he wasn't finished eating that yummy grass.

Now isn't this just about the cutest thing you have ever seen??  I have such mixed emotions when I see this cute little bunny.  Yes, he is cute, cute....but he does bad, bad things to the garden.  See that little blade of grass in his mouth, that could very well be my roses, my clematis, my hostas, my .... So as much as I think he is adorable, I really would like him to be adorable in someone else's yard. 

Another cutie patootie that has the sweetest little face, but can really play havoc in the garden.  If you have any of these in your yard you know they have this little high pitched squeek and  as soon as Toby hears that, oh boy, the chase is on.  Toby, never wins, but he gets an A for effort and he never, ever quits trying. 

Until next time.....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Brie's Day

Saturday, May 21, 2011 (the day the world was supposed to end but DID NOT) Brie, our granddaughter prepared for her Senior Prom.  She looked absolutely stunning in a blue dress with sequins and a peacock feather pattern.  Brie is not a girlie girl...she doesn't get dressed up too often but today was her day.  Her mother had tears in her eyes as Brie walked into the room.  Her last child graduating from highschool, my last grandchild.  Oh my how time flies.  The young man is Ryan, her beau for over a year.  Ryan is wonderful to Brie, there is love in his eyes whenever he is around her.

The back of the dress was so unique, revealing, but not too, too much.  It passed her father's inspection and met with Mom's approval, so she was good to go.  Check out those dangle bracelets. 

The flowers were sweet and somebody finally came up with a terrific idea....magnets on the men's flowers, no more struggling with the pin and either stabbing yourself or him in the process.  Now why didn't I think of that??!!

Love the headband that so perfectly matched her dress.....

Sam, the Dad even had blue on....don't think that was planned at all...but see the resemblance (check the teeth, no question who her Dad is) 

Happy, happy happy

Brie and her PopPop....isn't that sweet and full of love!!

The cutest couple there, I am sure!!

It was too hard to pick one picture of them together, I had to post several....I think I took over 200 photos, thank goodness for digital.  OMG remember the days, not really that long ago, when you would take maybe 20-40 pictures (I think a roll was 20) and hope and pray that you had a couple that turned out well and were scrapbook and frame worthy?  Cutting out the coupon for developing and waiting days before they came back developed, holding your breath as you opened the envelope and rifling  thru the stack even before you got out of the store.  We are darn near instant gratification with digital.  No wonder I don't have patience for anything, progress has ruined me. 

AHHH....young love

Just spoke with my daughter, Lisa and Brie had checked in with the parents to report that the Prom was a huge success.  Happy memories were made last night that will not be forgotten.  Do you remember your Senior Prom??

Until next time....