Free Download - April 2013 Calendar for Your Desktop

It really doesn't feel like Spring and the grass is no where close to being as green as what's in the photo, but here is April's desktop calendar.

To download, click on the link at
Free April 2013 Calendar Download

I hope you have a great weekend and that April brings warmth and a regeneration of the land.


Flap Your Wings Like You Mean It

Monday's snow provided a great background for this male cardinal.

I recently read a photography article that listed a few techniques for getting sharper images - one was to have a contrasting background which allows your subject to pop. Normally when I shoot our bird feeder, the background grass is green (or recently, dead, dull winter brown). The white really makes him stand out. I happened to get lucky with him preening or flapping his wings.

The snow is almost gone now, thanks to ample sun (yay!) and slightly warmer temperatures. We are all looking forward to the start of spring!


Horse Wednesday - Flashback

I took new horsey photos yesterday, but haven't had time to get them off the camera. So today's Horse Wednesday is a throwback to almost a year ago - taken at the end of April, 2012.

Post Workout Snack

See how green and lush that grass is? I doubt it will be like that 4 weeks from now. Last year's spring came warm and early.

Some more eye candy from that day at the barn:

Pretty Eye


For more Horse Photos, check out Sherry's blog:
From All Directions

Also, Puna's Blog:
Life Signatures


After The Storm

The spring blizzard of 2013 didn't disappoint - over a foot of snow here - I estimated around 13" - fitting for the year twenty - thirteen, don't you think?

The irony of it all - the kids were just about to return to school after a week long spring break - only to have their spring break extended due to a snow storm. Oh, we'll remember this one, just like the big snow we received in 2007. Even with all the snow, I know we are fortunate to have a warm roof over our heads to shelter us.

After the storm, it took me an hour to clear off half the driveway.

After the storm, the sun came out and the snow started to melt.

Because of the storm, I did what my inner voice told me to do - I baked limoncello cupcakes:
#snowmageddon Limoncello Cupcakes
I think it's a nesting instinct - and my family didn't object.
Oh, I also baked pumpkin muffins today (no photo - sorry).

After the storm, I captured some pretty photos.

Weighted Down
textures from ShadowHouse Creations

And as much as the snow is slowing the approach of spring and the rebirth of the earth, I know it will happen in time, and the dogwood will no longer be covered with snow, but with green leaves and white blossoms.

textures from Nancy Claeys

Linked to Tuesday Muse and Tuesdays Around the World.


Hello Monday | Snowmageddon

Winter Can't Seem to Let Go #snow #waitingforspring
Winter Can't Seem to Let Go

hello snow, snow and more snow | over eight inches as of Sunday at 9pm and the snow is expected to continue until early Monday.

hello snow day | the first snow day of the year extends the kids' spring break an extra day. I guess I'm not ready for the morning chaos to start again, because I'm kind of glad.

hello ankle sprain | my daughter sprained her ankle during the opening soccer game on Saturday. I've learned that an ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments around the ankle and if things don't improve, we'll need to see an athletic trainer for further action. Another reason why school being cancelled tomorrow is a good thing - it's another day she can keep off her ankle.

hello new bible study | I fell behind in the last one, and I am committed to keeping up for the next eight weeks.

hello soccer photos | I've made a start to Saturday's collection, but need to stay on top of things.

hello good friday | I need to reflect more on the significance of this day.

hello easter sunday | celebrating the resurrection - awesomeness all around.

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Edited to add - snowfall totals for our area - just at a foot of snow. And here's a photo of our snowy house this morning.
Over a Foot of #Snow #snowmageddon #waitingforspring #chambana

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun


Barns Along the Prairie

Yesterday's soccer season kick off tournament required us to take a little drive through the country, along the prairie and through some small towns. I only captured some of the barns I spotted along the way because I wasn't quite prepared with my camera. It was early and the sky was overcast - I didn't think my camera would come in handy until we had passed by some cool scenes.

But here is a small collection of the barns I managed to snap photos of.


Linked to Mosaic Monday.

And what a difference a day makes. Yesterday, we enjoyed a sunny afternoon and the warmest temperatures all month long - almost 50 degF. Right now, we are under a winter (hold on, isn't it Spring?) storm warning - there's at least 6 inches of heavy snow on the ground already and the snow isn't expected to wane until tomorrow morning! The kids are scheduled to go back to school tomorrow, but I'm betting on a snow day....

edited to add - it's official - snow day tomorrow!


Horse Wednesday - Flying Through the Air

Yes, another Wednesday, another series of horse photos. So I'm going with it and declaring Wednesday is Horse Wednesday.

We went out to the stable yesterday, just to let the horses out in the pasture to run around and stretch their legs on this sunny day. Cody, the quarter horse here, immediately took off running. He's enjoying it so much, his eyes are closed.

Run Like The Wind

The way Cody's mane is flying through the wind reminds me of the Ranger Fuels Horse logo from the local Road Ranger gas station.

I can't display photos of Cody without his best bud, Caesar. Plus my daughter would wonder why I didn't post photos of her horse.

Round the Corner

I know there are other horse lovers out there (Sherry and Puna?). I would enjoy seeing your horse photos, too!


I Have A Song to Sing

Table for Three
I used two textures and added in the text. The original is below.

For Texture Tuesday and Tuesday Muse.

Table for Three

I added a fresh batch of sunflower seeds to the feeder out back and voila - visitors! I have yet to order another feeder to be positioned closer to the house, but we enjoy the birds none the less - they are a harbinger of spring.


Hello Monday | Spring Break

Red at Night, Sailor's Delight
Last Thursday's Setting Sun

hello stress free mornings | no need to cajole the kids to get out of bed. OK - just the boy - some mornings are a mad dash out the door after multiple attempts to get him up.

hello soccer tournament | the first games of the season. I'm the official team photographer and I'll get to put the new lens to work.

hello Charlotte Martin | I've been intrigued by a new song used in yoga class, "Every Time It Rains", and thought the artist was Tori Amos. After a quick internet search, I discovered artist Charlotte Martin, who happens to hail from our flat prairie land. Another piano playing chanteuse, her music is amazing - have a listen below.

hello the official start of spring | it just doesn't feel like it! For Spring Break most of our friends are in Florida or California. I remember last year's spring break - it was so warm and sunny here - not the case this year....

hello march madness | I coordinate the office pool, so let the posturing begin!

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun


It's Me | Dichotomy

Dichotomy - A division into opposing parts.

So I bring a set of opposing themed selfies - warm and cold, sun kissed and snow bound.

First, the warm, sun kissed photos - an all too distant memory from a month ago:

Lobby Reflections

Attempted Yoga on the Beach

And our current, snow bound and grey state.

Stretching after this Morning's Run

Hoping for some more sunny and warm selfie opportunities - soon!


Having an Afternoon Snack

Afternoon Snack

Wednesday's blog posts have turned into "Wednesday's Horse Photo". But with all lack of sun, there hasn't been much to inspire me. So we take photos of the horse instead.

Linked to Wordless Wednesday and Wordful Wednesday. If I could find a Horse Wednesday meme, it would be linked there, too!


Hello Monday | 10

Wide Open Spaces #prairie #sky
Late Winter Sunset on the Prairie

hello morning darkness | this week is always the hardest, because I prefer light in the morning.

hello short school week | while not "officially" the start of spring break, it may as well be. We aren't going anywhere this year and probably won't again until the kids are out of school. We've learned that spring break week for High school athletes participating in spring sports means practice week that you shouldn't miss.

hello foam roller | my IT Band is causing some lateral pain in my left knee again. I was able to run fine on Saturday, but really want to increase my weekly miles. So I'll stretch and roll, roll and stretch so more.

hello spanish flash cards | we use them to help my son study. He was struggling but since we've been drilling him for 20 minutes each night, his grades have vastly improved. As a side benefit, I now know how to say "he has a hairy back" in Spanish [yeah, could come in handy some day....].

hello pre march maddness | the league tournaments tip off on Thursday so there will be plenty of basketball to keep track of.

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun


For Today - The March Edition

Outside my window…the sun is shining and melting the snow left from Wednesday’s storm. Hopefully, that was the last blast of winter.

I am thankful ….the days are getting longer. We “spring forward” to Daylight Savings Time this weekend, and while folks will be extra tired and grumpy for a week, the extra daylight at the end of the day is nice.

From the kitchen… Last night, I made my friend’s Taco Soup recipe and it was a big hit. A huge pot of it – all gone. I’m going to heat up something easy tonight. I’ve cooked every night this past week and need a break.

I am wearing… Skinny jeans with knee high brown boots and a lime green polo under an aqua sweater. I was going for spring like colors.

I am creating … nothing right now, but I need to get started on the first two months of our 2013 Blurb Photo book.

I am going… to pick up the girl from soccer practice and then take her to the Prairie Land Feed Store so she can pick out new reins to replace the ones she broke last night. I hope I can get out of that store without spending over $50, but when it comes to horse gear, that’s a challenge.

I am readingWild by Cheryl Strayed – her account of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail alone. I admire her guts, perseverance and will to make such a journey, but I am finding her character to be a tiny bit annoying.

I am hoping… my IT Band will stop bothering my knee. Yes, I probably overwork it and need to stretch and roll it more…

I am listening to …. Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris, featuring Florence Welch.

Around the house… chaos reigns, as usual! I still haven’t removed the Christmas Wreath from the front door. OK, I think I can change that out this weekend!

One of my favorite thingsMerrell Captiva High boots I bought a couple weeks back, that I am wearing today. I got compliments on them while out at lunch today.

A few plans for the rest of the week… tonight is book club night and we will be discussing Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (it’s a great read). Tomorrow morning is the official kick off to the soccer season with a parents’ meeting and girls’ fitness test. Add in some running and normal errands and the weekend will be gone in a flash.

A picture to share:
Waiting for Lunch #mosaictile #tuscola
At lunch today - the old time candy shoppe in town - wearing those boots I mentioned above.

Have a great weekend!


Let's Roll

I think this one is perfect for Wordless Wednesday.....

Rolling and Watching

Oh Wait - They had an audience, too....
We Wanna Play Too

Have a great Wednesday - we're digging out from our weekly snowstorm and still waiting on Spring....

Linked to Wordless Wednesday and Wordful Wednesday


The Soundtrack of My Life | Classical, Jazz and Showtunes

Oh, it’s been too long since my last Soundtrack of My Life Post.
Let’s see – I’ve posted about the Early Years, The Middle School Years, High School Anthems, Love Songs and a Cappella Songs. It’s time for Jazz, Classical and Show Tunes!

I know it may seem odd to have a selection of Jazz, Classical and Show Tunes, but [one] being a violinist, I played in many orchestras and pit orchestras for musicals, [two] I sang in Jazz Choir and [three] I dated a guy in my high school Jazz Band.

Classical Music – I’ve blogged about some of these selections before, but I have to include them again...

Gustav Holst’s Jupiter from The Planets Suite
It brings back so many memories - in high school, I was fortunate enough to be a member of the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the same Eiji Oue in the video. This was the last piece we performed during our finale concert of a tour in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. I vividly recall that emotional last performance - I was a senior and it would be the last time I performed in an orchestra - the music starting at 3:00 still bring chills down my spine. Eiji's love of music hasn't ebbed over the years - he was as animated 25 years ago as he is now [and he hasn't aged, either].

Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man
This piece is written for brass and percussion only - french horns, trumpets, trombones and tympani - so each time it was performed, I could close my eyes and just listen. It was another selection from the orchestral tour in Yugoslavia. For one of our concerts in the coastal resort of Dubrovnik, the brass section performed it a top of a castle in Dubrovnik, way above the orchestra and audience. I still recall watching the trumpets and horns interact with the tympani on the ground. So very powerful.

Tchaikovsky's Symphony #5, Movement 2, Andante Cantabile that features a fabulous French horn solo. It is such a romantic piece.

My Classical list wouldn't be complete without some outright violin solos:

Beethoven's Romance number 2 in F Major - my first "advanced" solo piece. I still enjoy playing it now.

Franck Violin Sonata - I especially like the first movement, which is simply gorgeous.

Next - Show Tunes

Any song from West Side Story, but specifically The Quintet and Something's Coming. Leonard Bernstein is pure genius. Side note - I had the opportunity to play one concert in 1983 under his conductor's baton as we played Copeland's Lincoln Portrait. It was amazing.

I Could Have Danced All Night
and On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady. The context of the songs are full of wonder and new found love - Eliza, who just experienced a magical night and Freddy Eynsford-Hill who just met Eliza and pines for her outside her home.

I Get a Kick out of You from Anything Goes. (Sorry, I couldn't find a suitable YouTube Video)

Finally, Jazz Tunes

Four Brothers, a classic jazz standard composed by Jimmy Giuffre and performed by the Woody Herman Orchestra. It's a mainstay of any high school jazz band.

I also like the vocal version, but sometimes old school is the best.

Route 66, another classic jazz piece, rooted in Americana, whose lyrics take you on a tour from Chicago to LA. I particularly like The Manhattan Transfer Version:

Misty, another horn solo piece that my high school jazz band played. Instead of featuring a fugel horn, we had a french horn player on the solo, which is pretty unusual. The fugel horn is in the video.

Any of Linda Ronstadt's versions of torch songs from her What's New / Lush Life albums, performed with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. I remember how different these recordings were from the Top 40 stuff on the radio in the 80's. It was a breath of fresh air for this music geek. The video below is Linda singing Someone to Watch Over Me.

Whew, that's a lot of music for one post. Next time, I'll keep it shorter. I'll be moving into the college years and partying down!


Hello Monday | 09

As Pretty as You Are, I Hope The Frosty Mornings Pass Soon

hello more winter weather | I hope this is the last blast.

hello soccer practices | every week day after school. There is an upside - I don't have to leave early to pick her up at 3:30 anymore.

hello ISAT tests | I'm not a fan of standardized testing but hopefully it will prepare my son for those college tests like the SAT or ACT. Thank goodness this is his second to last time with them.

hello morning sun | maybe I'll get a morning run in this week, because next week it will be dark again.

hello daylight savings time | yes, I enjoy the later sunsets. No, I don't like the time change that causes everyone to be grumpy for a week.

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun

edited to add a photo of this morning's sunrise. You know the saying, "Red in the Morning, Sailor's Warning".... the snow is on its way.

IG version


Like Joseph with A Fancy Robe

This winter has been rough even on the horses - Caesar caught a nasty cough three weeks ago that finally cleared up enough for my daughter to ride him. Today they had a strenuous riding lesson, and Caesar must have really worked hard because he was quite sweaty at the end of the hour. The girls found a colorful towel to wipe him down and cool him down slowly. With the towel wrapped around his head, they thought Caesar looked a bit like Joseph from the Old Testament - with his colorful robe.

Caesar as Joseph with His Fancy Robe
What do you think? A slight resemblance at all? As a side note - she has gotten in the habit of borrowing my clothes. The aqua top is mine, but hey, it's OK - I think the color looks great on her.

While we were in the stable area, Caesar had a little treat which some of the others wanted:
Hay or Horse?

I couldn't help but take photos of this pretty one:
Looking Out
He's looking a little shaggy with some horse "stubble". Once the weather gets warmer, everyone, including Caesar, will get a nice mane and whisker trim.

I took the above photos with my newest toy, the Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 VR lens. This lens replaces the 70-300mm lens I sold back in October. I originally wanted the 70-200 f/2.8, but this new model is lighter and smaller.
I'm Totally Lucky and Spoiled #nikon

The lighting conditions in the stable are less than ideal, but I got decent results. I'm looking forward to practicing on more subjects.

Shared with Simple Things Sunday.



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