Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snowfall in the morning

It’s quiet here. And you know what? The old adage (from yesterday’s post) was correct. The red sky of yesterday’s morning meant some weather was coming and today I awoke to snow falling. It was just after 6 am and in my sleepy state, I thought of going to get the camera and getting some snowfall photos to use as textures but while I was thinking of it, I fell back asleep.

When I awoke just after 8, the snow had stopped. Here’s what I saw out the breakfast nook window. That shadow at the top center is a stuffed gingerbread man that my husband hung from the light fixture. I think it looks fun.

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After a cup of coffee, I changed the camera lens, bundled up and headed outside. My husband had already been out walking and he was still out there somewhere.

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After I took this photo, however, I noticed that something was wrong with the camera. My heart started to beat fast because to me, my camera is everything.

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“George,” I said. “Stand here and let me try to get this photo.” It didn’t work. I took the battery out, turned the camera off and on, and still this odd sound.

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I imagined myself losing the camera for up to a month after sending it to Nikon to have it worked on. I also imagined myself spending money I didn’t have to buy a D200. This won’t do, I thought. And besides, the camera is working in manual mode.

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I snapped a few more photos and eventually decided to use this one as a new header. I’d love to spruce up the blog somewhat, but not too much. Besides, I like subtlety when it comes to that.

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What I figured out in the end was that there was actually something wrong with the lens itself and not the camera. After coming inside and trying out the other lenses, I noticed that the autofocus on the kit lens, the 18-55 is not working properly. I think that’s what it is.

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I was thinking of doing a recap of the year, but really would rather work on a puzzle and finish the book I’m reading. It’s Time and Again, by Jack Finney. And next up is From Time to Time. Thanks again to Daryl for sending me these books. And speaking of Daryl, go to that link right now. I love today’s post, and it’s very appropriate for this time of year.

I’d like to thank all who come to visit this blog. When I began it two years ago, I had no idea how wonderful it would make me feel to be able to share my photography with those who stopped by here. I’ve made some wonderful new friends and am so thankful for that.

After I’d been blogging almost a year, I noticed that some people had “follower” widgets on their blogs, so I added one to mine as well. I see that I hit another milestone, so it’s time to have another giveaway. It will be a secret one and if you’ve read this far, here’s all you have to do to enter and what you’ll win if your number is chosen by either or my husband.


1. Answer this question: “What are you doing tonight on New Year’s Eve?”

2. Leave me a way to get in touch with you, either by leaving your e-mail address or making sure I can link to your e-mail somehow.


A standout print shipped directly from my pro lab. I love standout prints and posted about it {here}. I’ll leave this secret giveaway going until New Year’s Day at Noon (EST) and will post the winner in the early afternoon on January 1, 2010. Good luck to all!


UPDATE: Someone just wrote me to tell me that my cardinal photo was featured on The Pioneer Woman’s photography site. I added one photo to her Holiday Bokeh photo pool and was amazed at all the beautiful entries, knowing that it would be a chance in a million that she’d choose mine as one to highlight. So this is quite an honor for me. Thanks, tj for letting me know.

Sailor’s Warning

I woke up earlier than usual this morning, my room bathed in a crimson glow. Looking out my window, I saw that the sky looked incredible. I also knew that it takes only seconds for it to change and by the time I decided to get up, then get myself downstairs and the right lens on the camera, less than two minutes had passed and it had already changed to this orange and lavender color.

It really is beautiful, but I remembered the old adage: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”. This old saying is one I’ve always found to be true.

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A red sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. This indicates that a storm system may be moving to the east. If the morning sky is a deep fiery red, it means a high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain is on its way. (Excerpted from Fun Science Facts by the Library of Science).

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I came back upstairs and shot this photo from my bedroom window.

Today was spent doing mundane chores in the morning and then a surprise early-afternoon appointment at my favorite hair salon. I say a surprise because I only called to see if they had anything for next week or the following, and was shocked to find that they had a cancellation so close to New Year’s Eve. First though, I had to make another visit to the dump to take all the recyclables. My husband packed the car and George hopped in for the ride. I wore my fashionable new Carhart vest to the dump then to the fancy pants salon.

Love that vest.

While at the salon, I sat in a chair along a row of other women who were having color done. The colorist to my left was talking to her client, telling her about her step-mother who she seemed to like. She was glad she married her dad but was saying what a kook she’d gone out with before she met him.

As I sat there, I realized that one of my friends was dating this very same kook. I finally excused myself and asked where this person was from, and what he looked like. And that confirmed it. Gah!

I drive half an hour to get to my hair salon, which is outside of Wilmington DE. Whouda thunk?

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So what are your plans for New Year’s? We’re just having a quiet one here.

To learn more about weather lore and proverbs visit the Fun Science Facts by the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Over the river and through the woods

We headed out early this morning on a trek to Lancaster County, where we planned on shopping for meat and vegetables. It’s a chore that was becoming overdue, as we hadn’t been in several months.

Today we bought lots of chicken, a turkey breast, some Italian sausage and some pork chops. We also got acorn squash, yams, onions, broccoli, giant mushrooms, Stayman Winesaps, grapefruits and some homegrown hemp oil that I hear is quite potent.

Ok. I was totally lying about that last item. But the produce section at Shady Maple is huge. And I love the great variety of vegetables sold there.

I brought the camera with me today, attaching the 70-300 lens, in the hopes that maybe I’d get a couple of decent shots through the car windows. The main problem with shooting from a car window, besides the clarity, is the fact that you’re in a moving vehicle and there’s going to be some blur. Another problem is that oftentimes you see something, and then suddenly you’re already going past it. So for what it’s worth, here are some photos I took along the way this morning.

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On the other side of the Welsh Mountain lies our destination: Shady Maple Farm Market in East Earl, PA.

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It was wicked cold today and the wind was whipping into a fury with gusts as high as 50 mph. These buggies have blankets inside for heat.

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I processed all of these photos using TRA’s Old Skool actions. Afterwards, for most of them, after flattening the image, I ran Pioneer Woman’s Fresh and Colorful action and lowered the opacity substantially.

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This young boy was driving a team of draft horses to spread manure this morning.

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I can really feel the cold looking at this one.

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I stood next to an Amish man in the shoe department at Good’s Store. In his cart was a pale blue shower curtain, a pair of leather work gloves and two bright blue camp chairs. I didn’t have a cart or I would gladly tell you what was in mine.

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I think the clothes are dry. Can you see them on the line?

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I could smell the familiar scent of manure and it actually smelled like home, like all the horse farms we'd lived on over the years. I’m not saying manure smells good. I’m just saying that it’s an old familiar scent. The scent of wood smoke was also in the air and I love how that smells.

After shopping, we went next door to Good’s Store, a sort of department store with a nice household goods section and a decent section for men’s work clothes, featuring my husband’s favorite brand: Carhart. He bought me a women’s Carhart vest in brown and I now look quite the fashionable country woman. Oh, yes. I may even take photos later, but I highly doubt it.

This afternoon we sat in the sun on the little porch in front of the house. It’s in a protected area, away from the wind which had begun to die down. It was really good to feel the sun on my face and we tossed a new toy back and forth to George.

Hope your day is a good one. Hello to all the new faces who come to visit and welcome back to those who have been visiting here on a regular basis. Always good to have you stop by for a bit.

Until tomorrow, my friends.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Winner announced in Blogging Anniversary Giveaway (sorry it’s late)

Congratulations to CAROLYN, number 14 and winner of my 2-Year Blogging Anniversary Giveaway. I’ve e-mailed her asking for her mailing address so that I can mail the framed print to her. (She’s chosen the walnut beaded frame).

Thanks to everyone for playing and here’s how ridiculously forgetful I am. You ready?

For some reason, I thought I was supposed to choose the winner around 9 PM and post it at 10 PM. Why? I have no idea. So this evening, after dinner, I am sitting here reading my post and see that what I wrote was that I would post at 10 AM today. Not 10 PM.

Yes, welcome to my life.

Anyway, we have a winner but I do regret to inform you that another number came up before Carolyn’s. This person had not included the e-mail address and this was one of the stipulations. I tried, in vain, to see if they’d commented before and if I had a copy of their e-mail address in my g-mail account. Nada. I couldn’t link to their blog because it was an Anonymous post. So please, in the future, include your e-mail address so I can contact you.

Winner-Random Winner-Carolyn

For those who didn’t win: I’ve got another Giveaway coming up. I noticed that I’m coming up on rounding another 100 followers and that’s reason enough to hold another Giveaway. So some time this week, or next . . . look for another prize to be offered on this blog.

Thanks to everyone for playing. Thanks also for your congratulatory comments. I wish I could afford to award more winners. Maybe I should get some advertising on this blog to help with the costs of prizes . . . I don’t know.

Until tomorrow, my friends

The best part of waking up (and it’s not too late for the Giveaway)

I have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with this time of year. It’s more of a love thing currently, so let’s forget the hate part and concentrate on the important stuff. You know, the little things that, combined together make life a little or a lot better.

When I was in the kitchen this morning, I was noticing all the little things that are the best part of waking up at the Casa de George. And it’s Dean and Deluca (and not Folger’s) in my cup, the Manhattan Blend (a gift from our son).

And well, here’s what I mean about the little stuff.

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It’s important to incorporate some butter into your holidays.

Trust me on this. Go ahead. You’ll walk it off.

And I think I am in love with Thomas’ English Muffins with Cranberry, a limited holiday edition that I’ve just discovered. I love those little nooks and crannies, some of which are filled with my favorite holiday fruit: cranberries.

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Our son got us a pair of mugs that I love.

I also love half and half in my coffee. This cup needs a tad bit more, however.

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Willow’s sugar cookies. And I did not eat these for breakfast.

I did have two of them for breakfast dessert, though.

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I took my plate and coffee into the living room so that I could check my mail. George came with me and I gave him one of his cookies.

These are George’s favorite dog yummies and are from the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company. The cookies on the right (what’s left of them) were a gift for his stocking from blogging buddy, Daryl. Come to think of it, I just noticed that the third book down was a gift from her to me. Loving this book btw, Daryl.

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On another note, it’s not too late to enter my 2-Year Blogging Anniversary Giveaway (see post below). Well, it is too late if you’re reading this past 9 PM (EST) on Monday, Dec. 28. But if you’re reading this sooner and you haven’t already entered, now is the time to do so.

Until later, my friends . . .

Hope your day is a good one.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Two-Year Blogging Anniversary Giveaway: Win this framed print!

Two years ago today, I sat down at my laptop and googled “how do I start a blog?”

And so it began. In fact, it all began with this post. I’ve posted nearly every day since then and have made countless friends, both online and IRL through this medium. To make matters even crazier, in July of 2008 I began my Picture A Day blog in which I feature (you guessed it) one picture a day.

To celebrate my two year anniversary at blogging, I’m offering readers a chance at winning this framed print. The print is 6 X 9, and comes in your choice of frame finish. It will be shipped directly to your home from my pro lab.

FrameBeadedWalnut FrameGoldAccent

Walnut Beaded Frame                                        Gold Accent Frame

FrameBronzeOrnate FrameBlackMetal

Bronze Ornate Frame                                       Black Metal Frame


There are only two rules. I like it when there’s very few rules.

One: Choose the frame you prefer.

Two: Leave me a way to contact you if you win.

That’s it! This contest is open to everyone, regardless of whether or not you are a follower of this blog. One entry per person, please. HOWEVER, if you post about the contest on your blog, you will get not just one but TWO extra entries. The catch is that you have to link back to your post (so I can see it).

I’ll leave this contest up for 48 hours, beginning 9 AM (EST) Saturday, December 26. Winner will be announced Monday, December 28 at around 10 AM (EST). I will use the random integer method at to determine the winner.

Good luck to all!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This is what heaven must smell like

On December 23 of every year, you can find me in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies. I put on some Christmas music and my favorite apron and get to work. I have the same repertoire of recipes and every now and then, switch things up a bit.

This year, I baked a recipe I found on blogging buddy, Dlyn’s site and fell in love with the scent that was emanating from my oven. Oh.  My.  God.

Please meet my new favorite holiday cookie: Lemon Spice Brownies.

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These  bar cookies have a hint of cardamom and ginger and combined with the lemon and toasted walnuts, they made the whole house smell like heaven.

And then I put these little numbers in the oven. My son requested them and I was only too glad to oblige.

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These are Orange Iced Cranberry Cookies. I don’t remember where I acquired this recipe, probably from a friend years ago, but it’s one of our absolute favorites here at the Casa de George. Here it is just for you.


3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

  • Combine sugars, butter, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs.
  • Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  • Gently stir in cranberries and nuts. Don’t overmix.
  • Spoon by tablespoon 2” apart on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes until golden brown.
  • Let cool, then frost with icing (below).


2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. melted butter

1 tsp. orange zest

2-3 tbsp. orange juice

  • Combine all to spreading consistency.

~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

I’ll be taking a couple of days off from blogging to spend with my family and friends. Hope you have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you when I get back.


Monday, December 21, 2009

A Walk in the Snow with George

Good morning, my friends. Or afternoon, rather. It’s beautiful here in Maryland and this morning I took a walk with my favorite border collie. Then I came home and my husband was hanging the laundry on the line. We had our tea in the sunshine by the clothesline.

Would you care to join me?

I’ve done another slide show to share these photographs with you. For the accompanying music, please {click here} and open in a new tab or a new page and then return here and click play on the slide show. There are 31 photos.

School is on holiday break until after the New Year. So our last day was Friday. I have a huge amount of things to get done but I’m not going to worry about it. When I made this slide show, we were still snowed in. My husband and each took our own walks around the property this morning, both of us going out to the main road to see what we could see. We used our hiking poles to help give support in the snow and our good Sorel boots. Our driveway is a third of a mile long and goes through woods.

George absolutely loves this weather. He’s originally from Maine, you know. He bounds through the snow and has so much energy, it amazes us. Right now he is asleep at my feet and the plowman has just left. I’m glad that we can now get out the driveway, but in a way I liked the added feeling of isolation.

Hope you’re all doing well. Until next time, then . . .

PS ~ The music is from the soundtrack of ‘Love Actually’, which I think I just may watch tonight. It’s a good little holiday flick.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Slideshow of the Big Snow

Hello, my friends. We’ve been busy today, trying to dig out from the major snowstorm that dumped 17” on us yesterday. Combined with winds over 35 mph, we have some drifts here at the manor house that I’d love to just jump in. But we had work to do this morning.

Yesterday it snowed from 3 am to 6 pm and we’ve broken records here in Maryland.

First order of the day was to get all the exit doors open. Check.

Dig a path all around the house. And around the car. Check. Check.

Another path to the birdfeeders. Check.

Clean all the bathrooms. And the living room, dining room, and lots of other rooms. Um. Do I get points for starting?

I don’t have time to do a YouTube video and I like looking at pictures when there’s some music, don’t you? So let’s try this. What I’ll have you do is open the link below that will take you to YouTube and begin playing a holiday favorite of mine. It’s a Charlie Brown classic. So let’s see if this works, shall we?

First, right click on {this link} and open it up in another window. Then come back here.

Are you back yet? Sorry to do it this way. Now, with the music playing in the other window, click the play button on the slide show above. There’s 21 photos. Hope you enjoy.

Back to cleaning for me. Gah!

Until next time, then . . .

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winner announced in secret giveaway

Congratulations to Deb of Maine, who won the drawing in the secret giveaway I had a couple of posts down. You’re the winner of a beautiful key fob or key chain of your choice. Please write me at with your address and your choice of fob.

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Rather than use the random integer, I asked my husband to choose a number between 1 and 73 and he said ‘25’ immediately. So I went with that. Unfortunately, I can’t prove this so believe me when I tell you I’ll never do you no wrong.

The snow storm has abated, leaving us with drifts over 2-feet in some areas. This is a view out the front door at nightfall. I couldn’t get the door all the way open due to the snow, so I stuck the camera out the door with one hand and shot this. The sky looks lavender, doesn’t it?

More pics of the snow to come tomorrow morning. Congrats again to Deb and thanks to everyone for giving me feedback on the holiday cards. Loved some of your suggestions.

Until tomorrow, then . . .

And to Rachel Lynn, I’ll put your little gift in the mail, too. As soon as I can dig out of here. Sorry it’s taken me so long.

Through my window on a snowy Saturday morning

At 8 o’clock this morning, something soft and furry came to wake me. George was so excited, he and his damp little paws jumped into bed with me. (He’s usually not allowed on the bed).

Do you remember what it felt like as a child, to awaken to a world of white? Well, that’s how I feel this morning. It’s wicked out there, though! The snow’s been coming down since around 3 am and now is blowing sideways. The birdfeeders were filled yesterday in preparation for the big storm and we’ve already refilled them once.

And when I say we, I’m using the term loosely. I’m still in my pajamas, but my husband and George have been up since around 6 and have already taken a big walk around the property.

I’ll head out later on but for now am content to just take pictures from the windows of the manor house on the hill.

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This is from the kitchen window.

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The dining room window.

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The living room window.

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The breakfast nook window. Please try to contain your excitement. It’s just that it doesn’t snow all that much where I live, so to us this is a treat.

That’s a flock of red-winged blackbirds on the dogwood tree.

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The wind is really blowing.

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And from where I sit, my world looks beautiful to me.

From where I sit in the living room, I just had a cup of fresh coffee delivered to me in one of my favorite mugs. The lights of the tree my husband created for me are glowing and the pine-scented candle is lit. George is asleep at my feet and scattered around him are a half dozen of his favorite toys.

And life is pretty ok.

Hope all is well with you out there.

I’ll announce the winner of the giveaway early this evening. Until then, my friends . . .

Friday, December 18, 2009

What I’ve been doing for hours

This evening, after I accomplished my goal of wrapping gifts for a few of my co-workers, I sat down at the computer and haven’t moved much since. I’ve been playing around in Photoshop designing holiday cards.

It’s what I do for fun.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll have them printed and offer them for sale next year. Or give them away as gifts. Here, I’ll show you what I was working on.

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I like the night sky in this one.

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There’s just something about the sky at night, isn’t there?

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This one’s sort of traditional.

The thing about this photograph is that I took it on a very warm August day. Doesn’t it look like December, though?

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I really like this one a lot. I love those squiggles of Joy St. Claire’s free holiday textures. Although the edge is a little too dark for my taste, at least in this photograph, I got my typeface exactly as I wanted it.

I think.

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This one will have the words inside. And I’m not sure I’m loving this last one. But for now, it can hang with the gang.

So that’s what I’m up to tonight.

And if you’ve read this far, you deserve to be entered to win a prize. Surprise! Leave me a comment telling me which was your favorite card and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win one of the key fobs from this post. I don’t know what they’re called, key chains, key fobs. So go ahead, leave a comment, and just tell me which card do you like the best?

I’ll use the to choose a winner an will announce this Saturday (December 19) in the early evening.

Until then, my friends . . .