At The Birdfeeder

I was watching the interaction at the bird feeder and realized that big Mr. Cardinal was having a hard time sharing with the smaller titmouses.

Can't we Share?

Every time a smaller bird would get close to him, he would flap his wings until the smaller bird flew off.
Bully at the Feeder

See, the little birds all get along with each other.
Peace and Quiet

They just don't realize what is watching them from the house.....
Checking out the Birds

Not that the cat is going anywhere in the cold and snow!

Just another day at the bird feeder.



Brian received his second "professional" (ie, paid) haircut this weekend.


We have a similar trimmer at home, but the stylists have much better "finishing" tools (to get the sides and back shaved).

The overall experience took 5 minutes, and we liked the results:
Ears Lowered


Mosaic Monday - Along the Winter Trail

I love running and there is something serene about running out in the winter while the snow is falling. Just the sound of your feet crunching the snow - so peaceful.

I discovered a new running trail in a friend's neighborhood. While I didn't take these pictures during my run (that would really something, lugging around a big camera while running), I drove back later in the day to capture some of what I saw.

It was no longer snowing so some of the 'snow globe magic' was no longer present, but I was able to take my time to enjoy the beauty around me.
Along the Winter Trail

I applied several Kim Klassen textures to the pictures of the grasses.

We are due for more snow on Tuesday so I expect this isn't the last snow pictures you will see featured this week.

I'm linking up to Mary at the Little Red House and Mosaic Monday. I hope your week is off to a wonderful start.



Inspired by a technique Sarah Ji shared on Shutter Sisters, I tried my hand at creating an image bathed in moonlight.

Taken after 10pm on a very chilly night when the full moon was out - minus 5 degF chilly, because a clear night in winter usually means high pressure and COLD temperatures.

Moonlit Snowscape

But don't worry - I took the picture from the warmth of my house. I set my camera on a chair, with an exposure of 1/4 second at f2.2. Something fun to try during the next full moon.


Friendship and Honors

I love the friendships I've cultivated through this and my photography blog. And when one of those friends honors me with a blog award, I'm even more grateful for relationships and inspiration found through this medium.

I've known Lee for several years now, and we've met in real life (and will get together later this year - so excited about that!). She's awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award. How cool is that! Backtracking through the other award recipients, I've been linked to some great new blogs - another bonus to the award.

For this award, I am to tell 8 things about myself and then pass the award on to 8 more people.

8 more things about me -
  1. I have to sleep with eye shades and ear plugs. And I still wake up when the toilet starts to fill randomly at night.
  2. I sing in the car every day on my way to and from work.
  3. I love to run in cold weather. Today, it was 32degF and I thought it was perfect. Any temperature between 30 and 50 is ideal.
  4. My family calls me the "kitchen nazi" because I am a control freak in the kitchen.
  5. I'm currently learning to use Lightroom to process my pictures. So far, I'm liking the process.
  6. We've lived in our current house for 8+ years - that's the longest time we've stayed in one place. And we don't expect to move for many years.
  7. I don't watch a lot of TV. When I graduated from college and moved into my first apartment, I didn't have a TV for over a year. Now with the internet, I would cancel our satellite TV service (but the other members of the family would certainly balk!).
  8. As much as I don't need TV, I need my internet! I think the longest time I was unplugged was 3 days. Big time withdrawal!

Now, this is the part of these awards that I always find so hard - passing on to 8 more people (like I know that many!).

OK, I'm stopping at 6 blogs..... but they are all great, so check them out!


Teen Age Friends and Trends

I understand that having a teen in the house means a transition in interests. Instead of the constant hum of Disney Channel, we now endure TLC (What Not to Wear, The Cake Boss and Say Yes to the Dress). Nancy Drew mysteries have been replaced by The Clique Series and best sellers like The Lovely Bones.

So imagine my surprise when Erica wanted to buy these:
Kissing Pillow Pets

Zoe The Zebra

Apparently all the rage among teens - the cuddly and soft Pillow Pets. Yes - glorified, over-sized stuffed animals, quite similar to the 100 stuffed animals I sold at last year's garage sale.

"But it's a pillow" Erica tells me. "And they are SO soft".

I acquiesce and let her buy two. She's named the horse "Casey" because he looks like her favorite horse at the Stable. And that's Zoe the Zebra [again, named by Erica]. I'm glad there's still a little bit of "kid" in that teen head.

There's still lots of silliness between teen friends, too:
Slapped Silly

As the two of them get ready to play volleyball in the snow:
Smiling at Jen


Team Up Thursday - Comfort

I hope you are comfortable and cozy this Thursday morning as Lee and I team up with Comfort.

Nothing says "comfort" better than a steamy mug of tea, especially with the cold, snowy winter we've been having. In fact, as I type up this blog post, I am enjoying my own mug of tea.

When I received Lee's picture, I decided to shoot a picture of my colorful scarf to offset the predominant neutral tones of the teapot.

Team Up Thursday - Comfort

On Thursday, Lee Curie and I create a diptych based on a theme. You can view the other great diptychs at the Team Up Thursday Flickr group.


Stems of Glass

I took this picture when the winter sun started its afternoon descent one recent Sunday - just barely illuminating our collection of [cheap] wine glasses.



Past Its Prime

But still beautiful.

Past Its Prime

End of the Tulips

Beauty at every stage - even when wilting, curling and falling apart.


Scenes from the Weekend

Technically, more than the weekend -
Thursday night - a full moon with snow means a cool exposure of the backyard:
Moonlit Pond

Friday - it's retro day at Middle school.
Retro Outfit

Saturday -
It's cold outside and snowy, but I managed a 3 mile run after a Cage Fitness class. Running while the snow is falling is so peaceful.
Jogging Trail

The tulips are starting to fade -
End of the Tulips

I finished up the last of the photos from July's Italy trip. The pictures from Florence (Firenze) may be found here, on Flickr.

Sunday - The cats make a little bit of a fuss while watching the birds outside. They won't go outside, though - it's too cold!
In the Kitchen
Focused on Birds Outside

Erica enjoyed dumplings for lunch (leftovers from last night's takeout)
Dumplings for Lunch

Hope you had a great (and warm) weekend!


Mosaic Monday - Scenes from Florence

I finally finished up the very last of my pictures from Italy. Yes, the trip I took back in July. At least it's done now [and I can start on the Blurb Book].

We only spent one day there, so we visited the Duomo, waiting an hour to climb the stairs up to the top of the Duomo's Dome - totally worth the wait and effort. The views from the top are amazing. We also walked to the Piazza Della Signoria, adjacent to the Uffizi, checking out the Marketplace along the way and the replica of the statue of David.

Scenes from Florence

I'm linking up to Mary at Little Red House and Mosaic Monday. There are a wonderful assortment of mosaics there today.


January 10-19, 2011

It’s already the third week of January, the snow is falling (yet again) and tomorrow the temperatures will drop below zero. Welcome to winter on the prairie. Even the birds have to deal with the snow and ice.

Across the Snow
Taken outside the orthodontist office on Monday, January 10th – Brian had a retainer check up (he needs to wear it more, so we’ll have to monitor that a little more).

Later that evening, Sammy got up high above the refrigerator in the kitchen. He and Hannah were playing a bit of “tag”:
Looking Down

Up High

Fast forward a couple of days, and we’ve got 6” of fresh snow on the ground, and Scott bought these from the store:
It's a Throwback
Just what the kids need – caffeine and real sugar!

That night, I made some crepes for Erica:
Poured Out

On Friday, I hosted book club at the house. What a busy day! So busy that I didn’t take pictures, but my friend, Kellie (who is doing her own Project 365 this year) did:

I made rum cake (of course) and we discussed The Happiness Project (my selection).
Leftover Rum Cake

On Saturday, January 15, I took Erica to the mall – she needed new jeans [the ones she bought in the fall are “too cold” – that’s because they have holes in them – that’s why buying jeans with holes in them is really not the best idea…..].

Apparently, Aeropostale has been surpassed by the America Eagle store:
Scenes from the Mall

And later, Sammy decided to snuggle on her lap.

There’s no shortage of cat games tonight:
Took the Bait

On Sunday, I decided to take my own advice concerning finding photographic inspiration during the winter months and bought a bouquet of tulips to photograph.
Bouquet 2

And instead of wasting time playing Angry Birds (seriously, I need a 12 step addiction program), I wasted time photographing stemware:

I promised Erica I would hang her new window blinds today. Out come the power tools – the Makita drill set I bought Scott for Christmas in 2009.
Messing with the Power Tools

It’s a great drill (not too big) so I quickly completed this project.

Monday morning, Martin Luther King Jr. day, and the kids have the day off. I guess I have the “morning off” too, as I don’t have to drag the kids out of bed and drive them to school. Instead, I leisurely prepared for the day and played around with my iPhone camera and the Hipstamatic app:

Tuesday – kids are back to school. I have violin lessons in the afternoon – starting the 2nd movement of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto – very pretty. Later that night, Brian and I sweat things out at Cage Fitness Class.

Wednesday morning and I’m still taking photos of the tulips.
Open Blooms

The kids persuaded me to get them sandwiches from Panera on Wednesday night. Wow, the Christmas lights are still up in the Olde Farm Shops.
Christmas Lights in January

But I have to admit, they are kind of festive….


Team Up Thursday - Sweet

I love this week's diptych - I love the light in both pictures and the different perspectives - Lee's at table level and mine from above.

Team Up Thursday - Sweet

Looks good enough to eat! And in our case, the rum cake is all gone. I wonder if Lee still has M&M's at her house. I feel a trip to the vending machine coming later today....

On Thursday, Lee and I create a diptych based on a theme. You can view the other great diptychs at the Team Up Thursday Flickr group. You can join in, too - grab a partner and join the Flickr Group!


More Tulips

I finally got the tulip pictures off my camera. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Peak Inside
Simply illuminated from above with incandescent lights (aka the lights above the kitchen table).

Illuminated by natural light through the sliding glass window.

Both pictures taken with a 50mm lens. I've been using this lens exclusively for a month now.


Tulips, Hipstamatic and Instagram Apps

Last Thursday, Melody, who hosts Team Up Thursday asked the question of how to stay inspired during these winter months.

I replied that I buy myself flowers that I love and I photograph them.

That response prompted me to buy a small bouquet of tulips on Sunday. They were relatively cheap ($5 for the 8 stems) and so far have brought me joy. [Even my daughter remarked about how pretty they were]

Yes, I have photos on the big camera, but today I'm posting some photos I took with my iPhone.

Taken with the Hipstamatic App, sporting the John S "lens" and Kodot "film", a favorite combination of mine:
A Winter's Morning
I love this app - so many cool effects and vintage looks.

The Instagram App is another one of my favorites, which allows you to add effects after the picture is taken:
The best thing about this app - it's free!

I guess another way to stay inspired is to use these fun apps!
I hope you find some fun inspiration today!


iHeartFaces - Winter Wonderland

This week's photo challenge at iHeartFaces is Winter Wonderland, and I couldn't help but submit this photo of my son playing in the huge mound of snow in our front yard last month:

Caught in the Act

That big pile melted right before the New Year, but has since been replaced with a fresh, new pile. Somehow, though, the kids haven't been playing in it - they must be waiting for spring!


Making Tracks

Some of the nice things about a light dusting of snow -

   Everything is covered in what looks like powdered sugar.
   It's not enough to interfere with your commute to school or work or wherever you may be going.
   The delicate little bird foot prints show up in it:

Across the Snow


Memories of Nanchang, JiangXi Provence, China

Taken back in 2006 when I had the great opportunity to travel to China for work. Two weeks in Nanchang, the capital of the JiangXi Provence.

Taken on the canal overlooking the GanJiang River, early in the morning, before the rush of traffic clogs the road.


And part of the Tengwang Pavillion:

Nanchang certainly isn't one of the top tourist stops when visiting China, but it certainly represents more of the "real China" - a typical city with industrial roots and a role in the Chinese Revolution. Back in 2006, I looked up some more information around this online and found this entry in Wikipedia:

The Nanchang Uprising (Nánchāng Qǐyì) (August 1, 1927) was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War. Communist forces in Nanchang rebelled under the leadership of He Long and Zhou Enlai attempting to seize control of the city after the end of the first Kuomintang-Communist alliance.
Other important leaders are Zhu De, Ye Ting, Liu Bocheng.
Communist forces occupied Nanchang successfully and escaped from the siege of Kuomintang forces at August 5, withdrawing to the Jinggang Mountains of
western Jiangxi. The day of August 1st is later regarded as the anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. It is regarded as the first gun against KMT.

If you visited my blog prior to 2011, my blog header image was a panoramic of the city, taken on top of the Shengjin Pagoda:
From shirley - behind the lens



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