Sticking Around

Another week, another snowfall! This time, instead of melting away quickly, the snow stuck around for four days, and more impressively, adorned the tree branches for three full days. That is an anomaly for this area - normally we receive a snowfall, the wind picks up and the snow is blown off every branch and horizontal surface. This time, the snow started off wet, stuck to everything and then the temperatures fell precipitously to the single digits, flash-freezing the snow to everything.

The icy snow - Defying gravity on day one (Thursday)
Shower Down

From the pine trees in the back yard:


Friday morning greeted us with brilliant sunshine but sub-zero temperatures without the windchill. I took this from the kitchen, looking at those same pines.
#chambana #nofilter #wintersbeauty

Saturday morning I headed to the forest preserve with friends, hopeful for a winter wonderland. I wasn't disappointed.

Doesn’t Get Much Better #outinthewoods #snowglobe #champaignforests #shirleyhikes #winterwonderland

We hiked through the powdery snow, caught some wildlife and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.
Couples Who Hike

Well Camouflaged

It's all so fleeting - on Sunday, warmer air coupled with the sun melted the snow off the trees. Today the rain is washing away the remnants. My philosophy - get out and enjoy it while you still can.


Unexpected Snow

Past performance drives future expectations and this year's mild winter has lulled us into forgetting that snow normally falls in February. Too often, the media plays up snow's impending arrival with panicked fervor, creating undue hype. Why must every inch of snow require a winter storm warning? It's only snow and not much snow. So when big flakes started falling Friday evening, unannounced, it was met with delight that often accompanies a surprise.
That sense of delight spilled over into Saturday morning, when awaking to the white and bright landscape. Fluffy, flocked branches flanked the roads.
February Snow #shirleylemay

I had to be in town to set up Saturday's scheduled club run and since I'm not running, I walked while the runners ran. I headed to the trails that follow the water ways, nestled away from the main streets. Here, pristine paths begged to be explored.

February Snow #shirleylemay

The only disappointment of the weekend - thick cloud cover precluded the viewing of the full Snow moon Saturday night. Had clear skies prevailed, I planned to venture to the forest preserve for a night hike lit by moonlight. Hopefully next month...


February 2020 Calendar Download - Yellow Rose

It's time for a photo calendar download for the month of February.
Last winter, to brighten up the gloom of the cold, my group of friends created these lovely floral arrangements. I love fresh flowers in winter - they signal possibility of the coming spring. They are a simple luxury that we can enjoy all month long.

To download February's calendar, click on this link from
Link --> February Calendar 2020 - Yellow Rose


20 Recipes in 2020 - Zucchini Puffs

My close friends and I recently made a list of goals for 2020. Not resolutions, but items we would like to accomplish in 2020. The list is supposed to be 20 items long, and while not a requirement, an element of "20" is encouraged. For example, one might set a goal to read 20 books in 2020. One of my 2020 goals is to compile 20 Recipes with photos into the start of a Recipe book. I plan to use the Blurb publishing platform and their Cookbook template.

To get organized, I've gone through my Lightroom catalog and keyworded all my food / recipe-centric photos and exported them to a single folder. I've been recording the recipes on my iPhone's Notes app. Now to marry up the photos and recipes in Bookwright.

I've used the blog in the past to record recipes and photos, so I plan to do the same with the 20 Recipes in 2020.
First up, Zucchini Puffs

These are based on a recipe from Tasty - their Zucchini Tots, meant to be a healthier version of potato based Tater Tots. I adjusted the recipe since I don't eat bread and the original recipe calls for breadcrumbs.

Here is my version of Zucchini Puffs:
1 large zucchini, grated
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 T olive oil
1 T coconut flour
1/4 C almond flour
3/4 C shredded cheese. I use a Mexican cheese blend
1 egg

Mix onion, garlic and oil in a large glass bowl. Micro cook for 30-40 seconds to soften the onion and garlic.

Shred zucchini onto a thin towel. I use a "flour sack kitchen towel" that I bought from the grocery store. Wring out the excess water from the shredded zucchini. The towel is very thin and allows the water to pass through easily. Could also use a cheese cloth. It is important to get the zucchini as dry as possible.

Add the zucchini and remaining ingredients to the bowl with onion garlic and mix.

Form bite sized logs, like tater tot size onto a metal baking sheet. I line my sheet with a silicone Silpat Mat which is non stick. Could also use parchment.
Zucchini Puffs

Bake at 425 degF for 15 minutes, then flip the puffs over and bake another 5-10 minutes. They should be golden brown.

Baked Zucchini Puffs

Notes: I use almond flour / coconut flour as a sub for breadcrumbs in the original Tasty recipe. The coconut flour absorbs moisture and helps the puffs stay firm.


The Performance - Exposing for The Stage

The house lights dim and the audience stifles in anticipation with whispered and hushed murmurs. Maybe the stage is hidden by a thick, velvet curtain waiting to open. Maybe the stage is open, revealing a darkened outline of instruments and props. This stage waits, expectant of the life and energy of music; the percussive sounds and artistry about to fill the space, straight to the hearts of the audience.

Such is the atmosphere of the live performance. The performer outputs a rendition of their song, dance. Sometimes better than the last time, sometimes not, but each performance is perfect and imperfect, each unique. Sometimes the performer wonders how he or she could create such beautiful sound even as the music is being created. That’s when you as the performer get back all that you give.

One of my "goals" is to take the time and effort (because I'm old and would rather spend my evenings curled up on the couch with my cat) to get out and enjoy more live music, theatre and dance performances. Back in November, we attended a concert by the a cappella group, Straight No Chaser and their policy on photography allowed me to use my DSLR freely.


From a photographer’s perspective, getting the correct exposure is challenging with the often dark edges of the stage and bright spotlights. These extremes confuse the automatic matrix metering so I always flip to spot metering or manual exposure, erring on the side of under exposing. I look for the silhouettes, the light gradients that create depth on the stage. And try to capture the artist in their element - the essence where the purity of sound fills their soul.

And when the lighting falls flat, convert to black and white!

Lights and Song

The best part of the night? When they reverted back to "Old School" a cappella - no mics, no beat boxing, just lush harmonies.
Closing Time

What was the last live performance you enjoyed? Any events on the horizon? We now have tickets to catch violinist Rachel Barton Pine, performing the Barber Violin Concerto (a fave of mine) with the local CU Symphony Orchestra


2009 to 2019 Retrospective

Here we are, on the cusp of not just another year but a new decade. There seems to be a lot of retrospection going on amidst social media to commemorate this transition. I don't recall the same amount of scrutiny ten years ago when we fell into the "Twenty-Tens". And perusing my blog archives, there is no hoop-la surrounding this date ten years ago.

But I do notice some trends.

In 2009, I purchased my first iPhone, the iPhone 3G. I started taking more photos with that iPhone. Instagram didn't exist (I looked it up - initially released in October 2010 - I posted my first Instagram photo on December 30, 2010). I'm not sure when the Facebook iPhone App was released (can't find a definitive answer on the web). Since 2009, the explosion and usage of mobile phones (and the mobile phone camera) drove an influx of social media and photo sharing apps. People (myself included) document their daily lives via the camera on their mobile phone. And so rises the interest in seeing what we looked like in 2009 compared to 2019. And having digital photos dating back to 1999 (yes, I had my film negatives scanned starting in 1999), I can oblige.

December, 2009, we took our first family cruise to the Bahamas and spent the Christmas holiday with my parents in Florida.

LaoLao and LaoYeh

The photo used for 2009's holiday card:

And here we are in 2019's holiday card:
Family 2019

My extended family, from our trip to Hilton head in August:
Family Reunion

We've all gotten older, my kids are all grown up and fortunately, we all enjoy good health. I don't blog as much as I did in 2009 (I logged over 600 blog posts that year - yikes!) and I don't take my DSLR out except for special occasions. I feel like these trends may change in 2020. I feel like I could take my DSLR out more, and I feel like I could write / blog more. I know I can spend less time on social media.

For even more fun, here's the family photo we used for 1999's holiday card. This was the first year I sent out a family holiday card. I still have it (and the subsequent years').
Family photo 1999

Here's wishing everyone a great new year with continued blessings into 2020 and the next decade.


Golden and Frosty December

December blessed us with many sunny days, lifting our spirits as we enter the shortest days of the season.

Since I am presently unable to run, I've been hiking out at the forest preserve instead, and bringing my camera along.

I was lucky this morning as a light sheen of frost tipped the prairie grasses.


Bedazzle frost

All this "slowing down" allowed me to discover new single track trails carved off the beaten path. I learned that local outdoor enthusiasts, keen on maintaining the health of the forest, worked to clear the area of invasive trees and shrub and in the process, created these new trails and built rustic bridges across the waterway that meanders through the property.

Stream Crossing

I'm finding lovely woodland elements to fill my camera's frame.
On the Shelf fungus

And getting my fill of the outdoors, complete with some of that white fluffy stuff.
The Winter Solstice #getoutside #wintersolstice2019 #trails #snow

So long to December, the Year 2019 and the Decade 2010's! I await the new year and decade with continued optimism and thankfulness.



Copyright Notice

All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of Shirley LeMay Photography and Shirley Behind the Lens (© 2005-2014). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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