Finding my Light & a Slice of Pie

PeachesTexture

(above image taken w/ 35mm @ f/2.0, ISO 100 @ 1/160 sec. Kim Klassen Texture ‘Chase’ applied)

As a photographer, the key to a good image is light. Without light, there is no image. Since my return to photography 4 years ago, I have been searching for my light. One of my goals in the ‘Be Still 52′ Still Life class I am taking, was to find my light. You see, here is Seattle the light isn’t terribly strong. It’s subtle and often moody. Like Ingmar Bergman light. Very film noir! But that’s not the light I want for my still life photography. Unfortunately we don’t have big windows in our home. We have a tiny little house with relatively small windows. We do have a studio space with a slider window, but then the light coming in isn’t strong enough for my taste. Outside is fine, except with our weather that isn’t always an option. I knew if I were going to be successful with Still Life, I would have to get comfortable with studio lighting. I’ve been working with the lights now for the last couple of years without a lot of success, until this last weekend. I spent the last 3 days in the studio working w/ the lights when I finally found it. I found my light! I worked with it over and over with consistent results. Looking forward to working on future ‘Be Still’ assignments with my light.

Pie

I have to thank my husband Brian for allowing me the time in the studio. He cooked all the meals this weekend, and made the most delicious Peach Crumble Pie (after I was finished photographing the peaches!) He found the recipe HERE. My oh, my was it ever delicious.

SlicePie

Having my light and pie too! I’m one lucky gal.

Have a great week everyone! xo

PS – linking up with Kim’s Texture Tuesday today. Hope you have a chance to stop by.

Oh, one last thing -

Here’s a few more images from my Garden Daily project :-)

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The Gift of Friendship

The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it. ~ Herbert H. Humphry

BarbCarol_web

Everyone we meet will not become a good friend – a lifelong friend. We will have acquaintances, people we know only in passing, those who are in our lives for a little while, and finally, if we are lucky, a few good friends. I have been blessed with a handful of true friends who have filled my heart with joy overflowing. Barbara Hurst is one of these. We met two years ago at Shutter Sisters Oasis, and for the both of us there was an immediate connection. As if we’ve always known each other, though we only just met. I know many of you have had that experience. Barb and I kept in contact via email and through online classes we share, and social media. We met again last year when I went to Arizona to see her and Terri Porter (another kindred spirit.) Another year passed and Barb presented me with the gift of time. She was visiting her son & grandchildren, but could come for dinner and spend the night.

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It was Brian’s first time meeting Barb. He instantly took to her and they talked photography for quite awhile. Brian prepared a lovely dinner for us and the weather cooperated beautifully.

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Ah, but the evening ended all too quickly and we all hit the sack. In the morning I found Barb outside, camera in hand, taking pictures. She told me that if she lived here she would be taking pictures in the garden every day. That thought has stayed with me. More on that…

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We had a simple breakfast and then Barb presented me with a beautiful package, and other gifts as well.

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I have to tell you, this package was so beautiful I didn’t want to open it! Eventually I did

Bell_web

Oh my goodness. I beautiful Paolo Soleri bell from Cosanti. Every time I hear this bell chime, I will think of Barb. She is now a permanent part of the garden. Her comment about taking pictures in the garden every day has made an impression on me. I love working in my garden, but taking pictures in it every day is something I’ve not done. Admittedly there are days I go out there, get the tasks done, and move on to the next thing. I let the “to do” list get in the way sometimes. A good friend has a way of reminding us that we are more than a “to do” list and that it is important to take time for ourselves, to nurture our creative spirit. So without saying these exact words, Barb reminded me of this. Thank you my friend. Here is a little collection of my Garden Daily efforts since Barb’s visit.

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Cherish your friends and take time for yourself. You are more than a “to do” list. Have a great day!

xo

ps – I’ve been away from the blog a little while due to a road trip and then catching up after the road trip. Will have images to share from that experience later. Take care!

Posted in Art, Gardening, Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Garden Update – The Courtyard Is Open!

WelcomeMat

There was a bit of clean up that occurred. Wish I had taken a “before” shot to share with you. Big difference! The concrete welcome mat above occasionally needs its lettering repainted. This was one of those years.

Painting

It’s easy enough to do, but takes about an hour and my body is on the ground to do it.

Hydrange

I had planted this climbing hydrangea 5 years ago when I established the courtyard, but I’ve never had blooms on it before. In fact, I had a plant tag on it that said “Bloomis Notimous”! I need to make a new tag now!

Astilbe

I have planted a couple of new things like this lovely Astilbe x Arendsii ‘Fanal’, and

Spanish Lavender

Lavandula Stoechas ‘Mulberry Ruffles’. I just love the intense color of this.

Salvia

To fill out one of the containers I also added this lovely Salvia Summer Jewel. I hope it will inspire it’s pot mate, a honeysuckle that is not doing so great right now :-(

Entrance

So here’s the view at the entrance to the courtyard.

Midway

And this is the view about a third of the way up.

strawberries

At the mid-point I have a berry bed with blueberries and these strawberries growing in it. This picture was actually taken about a month ago. We’ve since had some berries – or should I say the squirrels have had some berries!

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Overall I have to say the garden seems to be thriving.

Has summer exploded in your garden yet?

Have a beautiful day.

xo

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60 Laps Around The Sun

CarolBaby

Last Sunday I officially turned 60. I received a lot of well wishes with birthday cards and phone calls. One comment I heard a lot was that this was an “important” birthday. Though it has been an incredible journey so far, I don’t really feel this year is any more important than any other year.

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When I reflect on my life, what I feel is that each and every year, every month, every day, and this moment are all important.

MeNow

Savour all your moments. They are a part of who you are.

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Learning to be still

Since intention of this blog is to share what is going on in my little world, thought it was about time to do this post. I have been participating in online photography classes for 2 1/2 years now. It all started when I was going through chemo. It has been a rewarding experience, learned a lot, and most importantly have met some beautiful people in the process. This year I’m participating in a class called Be Still 52, with Kim Klassen. She is the person I took my first online class from and she continues to inspire. Be Still is a year-long course with a class each week. It focuses on Still Life photography, but because its Kim, it is of course much more than than. I am in week 4 and thought I’d share this week’s lesson with you. We were asked to explore points of focus, move around, try different angles, and different processing techniques. One of my goals for this class is to define/refine my own sense of style. To that end, the above picture is my favorite point of view. I like looking in, cropping the image tight, with a shallow depth of field. My intent is for the viewer’s eye to move into the image. The image was taken 105 macro @ f/4.5, ISO 200 @ 1/160 sec.  I also applied Kim’s preset ‘like a dream’ while processing.

I am of course exploring other points of view and processing techniques such as these:

All three of these images are taken from above, looking down. It’s a great point of view to really study elements in an image. The top left I focused on a bit of the flower blossoms. Taken w/ 35 @ f/3.5, ISO 200 @ 1/250 sec. I used Kim’s preset ‘olden days’. I like the vintage feel that preset gave the image.

The bottom left I moved things around slightly, and focused on more of the flower blossoms. Taken w/ 35 @ f/3.5, ISO 200, 1/320 sec. No preset or texture was applied.

The image on the right I focused on the book. Taken w/ 35 @ f/3.5, ISO 200 @ 1/320 sec. I also applied Kim’s ‘waterfront1′ texture – but removing the texture from the tea, book, and flowers.

So much to learn but I am enjoying the process and the camaraderie with my fellow sister photographers. I am truly grateful.

Have you taken any online classes? What has been your experience? Thanks for stopping by.

xo

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Operation Dinner Out

As the days get longer and the temperature rises, we in the Pacific Northwest like to take our dinners outside.

This weekend marked the beginning of dinners Al Fresco for us. Brian cooked the most delicious Red Snapper – oven-poached with fennel & orange. The recipe is from one of my favorite professional chefs, Caprial Pence. Her recipe calls for halibut, but really any white fish will do. You can find that recipe HERE.

Eating outside, we have a tendency to linger a bit longer over dinner, taking a bite of food, savoring the flavors, and breathing in the fresh air. I’m sorry to say that while eating inside, Brian often has his phone with him, checking work email from time to time. It’s the downside to running your own business out of the home. Hard to get away from it. But, when we’re outside, Brian uses his phone for another activity…

taking pictures of clouds. Awesome!

To celebrate our first Al Fresco dinner of the season, I made us a Raspberry Sherbet. Make with buttermilk following THIS recipe. So good. The buttermilk offered a smooth texture without making the sherbet too rich.

All in all, a great first dinner out. Looking forward to many more!

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

xo

Posted in Cooking, Inspirational, iPhoneography, photography | 4 Comments

Herb Garden Makeover

We have a three-tiered garden area at the top of our driveway. The very top bed is where our Espaliered Apple tree lives. The other two beds are for herbs. We both love to cook so having fresh herbs growing on the property is a blessing. In the summer, besides using herbs in the usual cooking fare, I also like to make Rosemary Lemonade and Lemon Verbena Sorbet (recipes at the end.) Needless to say, herbs play a significant role in our kitchen. So, when I went to clean out the herb beds this January, I was broken hearted at my discovery.

As you can see from the photo I took in January, the beds were quite a mess. However, what you can’t see is that the soil had gotten so heavy that it was no longer providing adequate drainage for the herbs. Their roots rotted and most of these herbs had to be pulled. I took a soil sample and some of the rotted roots to my local nursery to ask them what went wrong and what I could do.

Turns out the peat moss and steer manure I used many years ago to amend, enrich, and lighten the soil had become heavy over the years. The nursery man informed me that current wisdom suggests using a mixture of chicken manure with fine bark dust. Great. So, out came all the plants, in went 12 bags of ‘chicken & chips’ and I double dug it all in. 3 days of back breaking work and I was ready for new plants. I also decided to give the garden a new look, with a new sign and new plant tags. Brian helped me by cutting out the wood for the sign. I used flat black paint, 4 coats front and back, to coat the board. Then, instead of hand painting the letters, I designed the text, sent it to a Graphic Communications Company and had exterior vinyl transfer made. I’m really pleased with the results.

So far the new plants are doing quite well so am hopeful to have some healthy herbs to trim for use in the kitchen very soon.

If you enjoy herbs, you might like to try one of these recipes this summer. Bon Appetit!

Rosemary Lemonade

1/2 Cup sugar, 6 Cups water, 6 – 4-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary, 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (meyer lemons work well here too)

To make the syrup: Bring sugar & 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rosemary springs, cover, and remove from heat. Let the syrup steep for at least 30 minutes.

To make the lemonade: Strain the syrup into a pitcher & discard the rosemary sprigs. Stir in 1/2 cup lemon juice & remaining 4 cups water. Taste and add more lemon juice to taste. Serve chilled.

Lemon Verbena Sorbet

1 Cup gently packed lemon verbena leaves, 1 Cup superfine sugar, 1/4 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 Cups cold water

Grind the lemon verbena leaves and sugar together in a food processor until the mixture turns into a bright green paste, about 30 seconds; stop to scrape down sides as necessary. Add lemon juice & process for 15 seconds longer, then add the water. Strain the resulting liquid through a fine sieve to remove any bits of leave. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend.

xo

Posted in Cooking, Educational, Gardening, Inspirational | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

New life & a leap of faith

Of course I knew the baby Chickadees had hatched. I’ve been watching mamma fly back and forth getting food for the youngins for weeks now, and every day their chirping was getting louder and louder so it was only a matter of time before they would leave the nest. Yesterday turned out to be that day and for the first time I not only had the privilege of witnessing it, I actually got a few pictures as well.

I was fascinated at how the mother gets the birds to leave the nest. She nourishes them with some food, letting them eat a bit, but then she flies off with the rest. Basically letting her baby know that if they want more, they will have to come out and get it!

This process went on for an hour or more, mamma coaxing out each one. I had counted 10 so far, but then there was this one, which turned out to be the last one out of the nest.

Momma brought him a bit to eat, having to reach in a bit more with him than the others.

He was clearly apprehensive. He kept sticking his head out, trying to conquer his fear, but then backed away. After he looked down, he really seemed frightened.

So mamma brought a little more food for him…does she look a little frustrated here to you?! Well, it finally worked this time.

He stuck his whole body out and leaped! Here is our little guy sitting on the branch. So cute!

In order to fly we must first nourish our soul, which often requires a leap of faith :-)

Hope your week has been splendid.

xo

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And Now We Rest

Spent the weekend working in the garden until I could no longer stand straight.

It’s all worth it though. Things are coming together. Isn’t the birdhouse above the cutest thing? Brian made it with a roof deep enough so that I could plant sedums. About 1/2 hour after I put the house in the garden, a little chickadee moved right in. Brian said it is proof that it is indeed a renter’s market!

Hope you all had a grand weekend.

xo

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The week that flew by

My dearest friend Jana came over for lunch last Monday. We’ve known each other for at least 27 (maybe 28) years. Our sons were taking karate lessons at the nearby Dojo. All the other mothers dropped their kids and went off, shopping, whatever. Jana & I stayed. We did handwork. She did counted cross stitch and I was quilting. I don’t know who struck up a conversation first but at some point she said “I could never quilt”, to which I replied “anyone who could create images with thread run through square holes in cloth could definitely quilt.” She taught me how to cross stitch and I taught her how to quilt… and  a friendship was born.

She’s lived near and far and now she is near again. We try to get together once a month or so. We’ve laughed together, cried together, and held each other close. I am a better person because of her. After her visit, as often happens, I was filled with energy so decided to repaint the front bathroom. Brian was out of town so seemed like perfect timing.

It had been 8 or 9 years since the bathroom had a fresh coat of paint so it was time. The ceiling and trim were painted in an off-white color called ‘in deep thought’ and the walls were painted in a light honey-yellow color called ‘honeymoon’. What a wonderful job it must be to have the responsibility to name colors. Am I the only one who often picks a color based on its name? So inspirational! While first coats were drying I decided I’d better get started on making a cake for Brian’s birthday.

Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Cake with Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Sauce. We ran across this recipe at a restaurant called Mustards in Napa Valley, CA.  The food is awesome and we even had the opportunity to meet the owner/chef Cindy Pawlcyn, who is as down to earth as it gets. Brian was home for his birthday, and we spent the evening celebrating with candles of course,

3 candles, our tradition for adult birthdays; one candle for the past, one for the present, and one for the future.

Brian loves this kind of personal attention and I think I got myself out of the doghouse for not getting him an Easter basket this year ;-)

I continue to be amazed at how well many plants are doing in the garden in spite of my lack of attention like this lovely clematis

and this Lilac, growing on a bush that was given to me by my mother-in-law 25 or so years ago

As I sit here in my little nest, I realize that many of my dreams have already hatched and are thriving; dear friends, a life companion who is loving and supportive, a home and garden that provides a touchstone to what is truly important. I am blessed. And grateful.

PS – Many thanks to my big sister Linda, not only for your phone call today, but for your continued support and love. I admire you so much. Also to my son, Dave, who gave me a call today… so good to hear your voice. I love you so much. Hope the chili recipe you were working on came out to your liking!

Hoping everyone takes a moment this week to stop and take notice of this lovely time in your life. It all goes by so fast…

xo

Posted in Gardening, Inspirational, photography, Uncategorized | 6 Comments