Shades of Blue

The weather this past week has been crazy - warm. Highs in the low 70's and lows in the 50's.

Really, too warm for mid-February. Too warm for March!

Now that we have warmer weather on the brain, here are some shades of Blue Hydrangeas.

Moody Blues

Moody Blues

Crepe Paper

Enjoy your Monday!

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Creating the Story - Importance of the Crop

I read a recent article on Street photography via PetaPixel on how to make better street photos.

The article reminded me of a photo I took last summer during an impromptu visit to New York City. We were walking around Central park, a bevy of people and activity all around us. We paused at the Bethesda Fountain, as it was clear to me it was a significant landmark in the park.
NY Minute
The photo above was taken with my "big camera". The shot is just "OK" in my opinion. What story does it tell? Like most summer afternoons, it was crowded at the fountain. Yawn, just another day...

As we explored the area around the fountain, I stumbled across what looked to be a wedding photo shoot. Or maybe it was a magazine photo shoot. I mused to myself "this feels special and unique to everything else I have seen today", and I quickly snapped a photo on my phone. I didn't have time to get out my big camera before the scene dissipated into the crowds. (It felt apparent that the bride wasn't happy with the throngs of people around.)

Here's the original photo I took of that scene:
Original Wedding Shoot
Yeah, not so impressive. I didn't get myself close enough to the scene, there's that woman to the right creating visual clutter, and the exposure is too dark. But instead of hitting the garbage can icon, I decided to crop it in. My focus was of the bride and her groom, patiently waiting in the wings and the archway framing the bride. I converted it to Black and White to play up the groom's silhouette as the original photo was too dark to get any details. I did these edits right in my phone, using the Instagram app.

The final edit:
Waiting in the wings
With all the extra "stuff" gone, the scene is focused and I want to know more about this couple's story.

Don't be afraid to crop away to bring emphasis to the story you want to tell.

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Running, Lately

This is for my family and friends on the East Coast who have been hammered with snow this past week.

We got a surprising amount of snow almost a week ago. Surprising because the two days leading up to the snow were quite warm and sunny.

I'm running in short sleeves! I'm wearing tights but could have gone with shorts that day.

Then the snow came last Wednesday, in big flakes that stick to everything and make the trails particularly beautiful:

I braved the icy highways to get to this particular forest preserve, but I knew the running experience would be worth the drive. I hadn't had an honest to goodness run in snow all season long. The snow wasn't easy to run through, but the scenery was fantastic, just like a snow globe.

B
The trail winds around these waterways that are normally hidden from view. The snow reveals all that you don't notice.

I hit the same trail on Thursday night, the snow illuminated by the silvery glow of the full moon. There's a local group that does these Full Moon Runs - I rarely participate, but each time I have gone, it's because there's snow on the ground.

By Sunday morning, all the snow had melted away, like it had never happened. I'm glad to have gotten out in it while it was still around.

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Vegetarian Chinese Dumplings

For Superbowl Sunday, I always make Chinese Dumplings. I've written about them before when the kids were young, then shared the full recipe three years ago.

This year, I experimented with a vegetarian filling. My son has been eating vegetarian for a few months and he loves dumplings, so I attempted to make them as close to the meat version.

To accomplish this, I used all the same ingredients as the traditional meat filling - shiitake mushrooms, green onion, spinach, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil - while substituting in seasoned tofu for the ground pork.

For the tofu, I marinated super-firm tofu cubes in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch. I recently found Nasoya Super Firm Sprouted tofu in the local market and it is perfect for replicating some of the texture of meat. After marinating them overnight, I pan fried them so that the cubes develop a crispy crust:
Tofu

The cubes are good for snacking on, too. Side note - use any marinade on the tofu cubes to change up the flavor. Some ideas - BBQ sauce, Chipotle sauce, Buffalo Wing Sauce.

I cut the tofu cubes into smaller pieces and added it to the other ingredients:
Veggie Dumplings
I also incorporated an egg into the mixture as a binder. Wrap and cook just like the meat version.

The finished dumpling:
Veggie Dumplings

They won the approval of my son, so I call that a success.

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February 2017 Desktop Calendar - Milkweed

I'm back again with a free desktop calendar download.

When I took this photo, I thought the hollowed out milkweed shell looked like a perfect little place for a small creature to make its home. Or a nice place to rest. I took the photo by the retention ponds in the neighborhood - there was no snow last year and there's no snow now. Even though the groundhog saw his shadow yesterday, it hasn't been too much of a winter here, so 6 more weeks of repeat doesn't seem so bad.



To download February's free calendar, click on the link from box.com:
February 2017 Calendar

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Kane The Thoroughbred

I wrote several months back that my daughter had decided to sell her Appaloosa horse, Caesar. At the time, she was trialing another horse, but we weren't sure this new horse, Kane, was the one. An examination with our vet identified some breathing issues with Kane, so I thought we would pass. As it turned out, even with his breathing issues, Kane is a good fit for Erica at this time.

Cross Country with Kane

Cross Country with Kane

He's a thoroughbred and quite larger than Caesar.
She's been working with him in Dressage. I believe this summer they will start to compete in various equestrian events.

Dressage Clinic

Dressage Clinic

I am happy to report that Caesar is doing well with his new family. Erica visited him over the holidays and although she mentioned he was looking a little chubby, that's actually good as he had always been on the skinny side.

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