The End of February - Random Five

My Five Random Things for the End of February

  1. I ran a total of 117 miles in February. I think that is a record high for me, and all my runs were completed outside. I'm lucky to have several groups of people to run with, because I would never be able to gut it out alone.
  2. Looks like March will enter in like a Lion. Lots of snow predicted for Sunday, then more frigid temperatures.
  3. The Girl Scout Cookies I bought have been duly scarfed down by my teenaged children. I guess if I want some, I'll need to hide the box.
  4. I received a service advisory from Nikon this week concerning the D600 DSLR (the camera I use). In this advisory, Nikon partially acknowledges the issue with spots on the camera sensor, claiming the spots are caused by "dust" (eye-roll here - the most likely culprit is lubricant). Even though my camera was repaired in September, I plan to recheck the quality of my images for sensor spots. If you own a D600, Nikon will service and repair (replacing the shutter mechanism) for free, even if the warranty has expired.
  5. Friday's are really nice. There's morning yoga class (today's featured a killer sunrise), no child transport responsibilities (early band practice carpool) and I get to wear jeans to work (my self imposed casual Friday - in all honesty, I could wear jeans every day of the week - I choose to limit it to Fridays).

This week's random photo. We're starting to encounter daylight during the morning runs. I'll enjoy it for one more week before we're hit with a time change and plunged back into morning darkness.
Coming into The Light #run #road #sky #goodmorning #morningruns

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Throwback Thursday - Bereft

Approaching Storm

Where had I heard this wind before
Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
Holding open a restive door,
Looking down hill to a frothy shore?

Eroded

Summer was past and the day was past.
Sombre clouds in the west were massed.
Out on the porch's sagging floor,
Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
Blindly struck at my knee and missed.
Something sinister in the tone
Told me my secret must be known:
Misty Morning
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.

Bereft by Robert Frost



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Ironwood Book Club Recipes - Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies - These are so much healthier than those sugar-laden oatmeal breakfast bars you buy at the store. I could see myself eating one (or two) of these as a pre-run or after run snack, especially since they are very portable and chock full of fueling carbs.

Recipe shared by Trish. Trish is a sales director for Goldbug, a childrens' accessories company that designs, produces, and sells children’s socks, shoes, hats and swimwear.

Health Nut

Ingredients
2 medium ripe bananas, mushed
1 Cup uncooked quick oats
1/4 Cup chocolate chips
1/4 Cup dried cranberries
1/4 Cup chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation

  1. Combine mashed bananas and oats in a bowl. Fold in the remaining ingredients.
  2. Place by tablespoon on greased or foiled cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 350° for 15 minute

For more Book Club Recipes, click here: Ironwood Book Club Recipes

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More Flowers

Since we're apparently still in the grips of Winter's wrath, some flower photos to brighten your day.

Sunny Side Up

Bask in the Sun

We were so hopeful towards the end of last week - temperatures popped up into the mid 40's, much of the snow melted and our ears were greeted to the sing-song strains of birds chirping in trees. Needless to say, the snow and ice that rained from the sky Saturday night was not a welcome sight. And unfortunately, my weather channel app claims more is on its way - tonight.

OK, these make me feel better:
Three Amigos

Hoping you are staying warm!

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Random Thoughts This Friday

1. I'm kicking myself because I chose not to take a photograph this week - a beautiful run into the sunrise. I can still see it in my mind's eye. Next time, I won't hesitate.

2. Even if the air temperature is above freezing, that doesn't mean there isn't ice on the ground. On Wednesday, I slipped and fell on the ice for the second time this winter. Then I hit a patch of black ice on the way to work and nearly hit another car. Thankful the snow is really melting away now.

3. I read somewhere "you can't train a cat". So true - no matter how many times I squirt the cat with water from the spray bottle, he keeps jumping up on the kitchen table. The cat also likes to eat butter and cheese and I'm not quite diligent about covering that stuff up when it is out.

4. The Amaryllis I bought four years has sent up its annual bud. If I remember to water it, it might actually bloom this year (last year was a bit of a disaster - I didn't keep up with watering it and the cat knocked the flower stem down before it had any chance).

5. Our Book Club will be discussing The Husband's Secret on Saturday - I am hosting and I am sure there will be a good discussion. I [actually] read the book, enjoyed it and then thought about the secrets I've withheld from my family (plenty with the kids) and husband (I'm sure there may be one or two).

And this week's random photo - snapped as I took an alternate route to work this week. Sometimes change gives you a new perspective.
Prairiescape #snow #barn

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In the Snow Globe

It feels like we're in a perpetual snow globe - yesterday, the precipitation that fell from the sky included huge snow flakes, granular hail, freezing rain and some actual rain. There was lightening and thunder, too.

While I am admittedly tired of the snow, slush, and all the cold we've endured this winter, I couldn't help but marvel at the pretty, soft flakes falling from the sky as I drove around town. I decided to stop and go for an impromptu photo walk along one of the numerous trails that weave alongside the local slough.

Scrolls

I run with a group on Sunday mornings, and we often take this trail. It winds along the water's edge, away from the road traffic and keeps us sheltered from the wind - I often want to stop and capture it, but that would interrupt the flow of the run. Today was a perfect time to capture its essence.

The Running Trail #snow #snowglobe
Winter's Calm
Alternate

To the Right

Shared with Tuesdays Around the World. Hoping this is the last snow of the season, but I'm not holding my breath!

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Ironwood Book Club Recipes - Clafoutis

The first of several recipes shared by my book club friends.

Clafoutis is a traditional French dessert. This dessert can be combined with chocolate, almonds and fruits such as blueberries, cherries, and plums. This dessert can be paired with coffee or tea.
Clafoutis

Submitted by Hee Jung, who is a professor at our local university.

Ingredients

Fruits (pick one):
    6-8 ounces blueberries (fresh)
    12 oz cherries (frozen or fresh, seeds removed)
    1 lb plums (cut in half, seeds removed)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk (2% works)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Butter, for the Dutch oven or ovenproof dish
Powder sugar (for dusting).
Whipped cream (for serving)

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 5-quart Dutch oven (or ovenproof baking dish). Spread the fruits evenly over the bottom (for plums, bake for 5 min).
  3. In a separate bowl, briefly mix the mild and vanilla extract. Set it aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy using electric mixer such as Kitchen Aid.
  5. Add the flour into the fluffy egg/sugar mixture a little at a time and mix gently.
  6. To the fluffy egg/sugar/flour mixture, pour the milk/vanilla extract, and whisk lightly.
  7. Pour the batter into the Dutch oven (or ovenproof dish) containing the fruits.
  8. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden-brown. Cool it for 5 min.
  9. Dust with powder sugar and serve immediately with whipped cream.

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Throwback Thursday - Windsor Castle

Last week's training session brought back memories of the last time I ran the class, way back in January, 2008, in the decidedly "cooler" location of Wales, UK. Friend Mark had just started in the role of IT Project manager for the system we were training on and the training torch was being passed from cohort number three, Anthony. Each training session brings along with it interesting travel adventures that serve as great fodder when reminiscing.

When Mark visited last week, I walked him through my LightRoom work flow and re-edited some photos I took from that 2008 trip. We both agreed that my new edit of Windsor Castle surpasses my 2008 edit when I was using Nikon View NX.

Windsor Castle

I wrote up a detailed blog post on our visit to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge, which may be read here: Visit to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge, 2008.

Here's another throwback photo from that visit - the training group participants. It's always fun to go back in the past.


I've been [slowly] going through my previous years' photos and incorporating them into my Lightroom catalog. This is quite a task as I have digital photos spanning back from 2003 and only started using Lightroom in 2011. Hopefully, I'll be able to incorporate more Throwback posts here in the blog.

Have a great Thursday!

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Still Life

It's that time of year - when the long winter becomes a weight, heavy and dark on many people's souls. I can tell the days are getting longer, but the cold, the bitter cold just lingers and I yearn for some rays of warmth to divert my mind. It's the only time of year I buy flowers and I seek out the harbinger of the coming spring - the tulip.

Jewels
Velvet

Nothing comes close to its grace, color and delicate beauty, inside and out.

Inner Thoughts

Brighten my day and night.

Brighten The Evening

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Workin' It

With last week's busy work week behind me, I am now playing catch up with all the daily tasks I didn't get to complete. Although presenting training material to a group of adults was tiring, I now miss the group setting and interaction as I sit in my (thankfully warm) office analyzing data as always.

I took a few photos during last week's session, mainly during the breakout exercises and the evening events. I normally don't fill the role of "event photographer" at work, but in this case, my camera was already out in use by my co-worker/friend, Mark. Mark executed last week's training session with me and is also photography hobbyist. His visit from out of town was an opportunity to check out some of my lenses.

If the weather had been nice, we would have embarked on a proper "photowalk" around town, but the classroom was definitely warmer.

Two of the gentlemen from Mexico, who had never seen snow until last week. Juan, on the right, never stopped smiling the entire time he was here.
Explain It

Hard At Work

We don't spend all our time in the classroom - evening events allow the participants to relax and get to know each other better.
Relaxed

Garden Setting In Winter

The group attended the local NCAA Basketball game - amidst a snowstorm - and had a great time, even though the home team lost.

Who knows, our small prairie town may become the "destination of choice" for future training sessions. We delivered unique experiences (big snow, possibility for tornadoes), collegiate sporting events, good restaurants, and lovely prairie sunsets.

End of Day 1

Note - non watermarked photos in this post were taken by others

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Busy Week Randomness

I'm finishing up a busy work week - I ran a training session for 15 people, which included 9 out of town visitors. Here are my random observations from the week.

1. Who knew standing in front of a group for 6 hours and talking could be so exhausting? While I didn't talk for 6 hours straight, it felt like 8 hours. And I have presented this same training class before - the last time was in 2008. Maybe I'm just getting old.

2. Every opportunity to travel is an opportunity to experience new things - make the most out of it. Three of the attendees traveled here from Tampico, Mexico. I'm sure the flat prairie of Illinois has never made their "must visit" list. But these three embraced the opportunity. Always smiling, they didn't complain about the cold and windy conditions. They had never seen snow before. That is, until Tuesday, when it started falling from the sky. All three ran outside and took photos in the snow. I watched as one of them built a snowman in the parking lot. Even though the big storm caused a disturbance to the session, I'm glad our visitors got to experience something special that they won't soon forget.

3. Meeting face to face reaps benefits that can't be measured in bottom line dollars. Travel dollars in our industry are hard to come by at the individual contributor / engineering level. I was floored when two team members were given approval to travel here from Europe. While we've talked and "met" over numerous teleconferences over the years, it was great to finally meet in person.

4. A last minute change in plans doesn't always spell disaster. I'll admit to being a bit of a control freak - I like to have things well planned. When Tuesday's snow storm became eminent, we had to change plans and reschedule Wednesday's session. It all worked out in the end, perhaps for the better.

5. Running in freshly fallen snow rocks. I've probably mentioned that before, but I got a reminder of that experience on Wednesday morning.

This week's photo - a hotel atrium - we moved our training session to this location due to the storm. It was much nicer than the 70's era conference room we were originally scheduled to use.
Baubles

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On Creativity

You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
-Maya Angelou
Creativity

Friend Jill created this huge work of art, using colorful hand prints created by all the students at our elementary school. Creativity begets creativity, inspires goodness and beauty.

Love of Art

Children express creativity so easily - it flows freely and naturally. So why is it as an adult, it feels so hard to be creative? That creativity is only possible by artists? It's a lie - we are all inherently creative - we just need to find it inside.

Hands On

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Fog in Black and White

Photos from yesterday's rain and fog.

Into the Woods #UIUC #Arboretum #Illinois

Vanishing #UIUC #Arboretum #Illinois

Driving back from a campus event, the fog surrounding the Arboretum grounds caught my eye. I pulled into the empty parking lot and held a five minute photo shoot.

Welcome to February in the never-ending winter of 2014.

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