Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hail the Red Admiral; National Photo Month, Day 31

The admirable red admiral (say that three times, fast), closes out National Photo Month and my 31 days of posting photographs.

This shot was enhanced with PicMonkey's daguerreotype feature and the addition of Kim Klassen's "Be Still" texture. I like the simplicity of the sepia. It puts more of a focus on the shadow.

It's fitting to end a photo month with the admiral, as I can honestly say I've never before had so many of this handsome butterfly visit my garden spaces in a single season. Every day has brought several of the admiral into the yard--often in playful pairs that dart around chasing each other in a game of cat and mouse.

It's been great fun sharing photographs with you during National Photo Month. Thanks for following along.

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Botanical Beauty; National Photo Month, Day 29

During this National Photo Month, my own landscape has taken front and center on several occasions. Today, I'm featuring some of the natural beauty that can be found at Lauritzen Gardens, our local botanical garden.

My work team recently spent a day at the gardens with a business meeting in the morning and a fun photography activity in the afternoon. These are some of the photos I took on that gorgeous day.

In the Model Railroad Garden, electric trains snake through the natural setting and run amongst buildings and other structures that are constructed of all-natural materials. The structures all represent landmarks around our community. Trains have a rich history here, as Omaha was the starting point of the first transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific Railroad.

If you're ever visiting Omaha, or even just passing through, a visit to Lauritzen Gardens would be time well spent.

Make it a great day!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fireflies and Fungus; National Photo Month, Day 28

Found this growing in my garden this morning. No shrinking violet, it measures more than three inches across.

Fungi have always made me think of the Beatrix Potter tales. Can't you just imagine some of her little critter creations taking shelter under the canopy of this great umbrella?

Did you know that before Beatrix Potter wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit, she was a mycologist--a person who studies fungi? She illustrated her scientific findings in hundreds of drawings and watercolors, which are now on exhibit in the Armitt Museum in Ambleside, England.

To add to the magic of this unusually warm month of May, THE FIREFLIES HAVE ARRIVED!

For the past two nights, several of them have danced in the darkness, putting on a nice glow show along the edge of the woods in our back yard.

Oh, how I love the magic of firefly nights.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's What's for Dinner; National Photo Month, Day 27

A basketful of goodness.

We're getting together with some friends this evening. They're grilling brats and we're bringing a side dish. Aren't the ingredients pretty? They're certainly delicious.

Below is my own recipe and I change it up depending on what tomatoes are available. Tonight, the salad will be embellished with garlic scapes we picked up at the farmer's market today. Garlic scapes are the tops of the garlic plants that must be removed for the bulb to grow. They're only available a couple of weeks of each growing season.

As you may gather from the photo, I'm also throwing in a yellow tomato for color and a bit different flavor. These yellow beauties have been available at the farmer's market for the past couple of weeks. They have a very old-fashioned, robust flavor.

Ann's Tomato Delight
8 small variety tomatoes (Flavorinos, plum, small Roma), sliced thin
4-6 green or candy apple onions sliced
2Tbs olive oil (I use Sicilian flavored)
1Tbs chopped fresh basil
2Tbs bleu cheese (optional)
Sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together and chill half an hour or more before serving.

 I serve this over baby arugula fresh from my container garden. Yum.
Bon Apetit.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vintage Apron Love; National Photo Month, Day 26

Show me a vintage apron and I'm instantly transported to my grandmother's farm kitchen on a hot summer day.

Eggs to boil.
Bacon to fry.
Bread to knead.
Butter to churn.
Fresh vegetables to clean.
Pies to bake.

My first sewing project in Home Ec was an apron. I still have it. I still wear it. The fabric is thin and worn through in spots. I've patched it more than once.

These sweet aprons are among those I've collected from estate sales, garage sales and thrift stores over the years. They're all handmade--with love, most likely.

I'm working hard to get an Etsy store up and running--hopefully within the next few weeks. You just might see some of these lovely ladies--and others--offered there.

Make it a great day!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Spring on the Wane; National Photo Month, Day 25

The spring garden is fading into oblivion. It's a bittersweet time. With the majority of my garden spaces in partial to heavy shade, spring--before the heavy tree canopy is fully formed--brings the biggest pop of color to our slice of the world.

Over the coming days, our view will slip into a canvas that showcases the spectrum of greens, lightly dotted with pale lavender, soft pink, cream and white and a border of taxi-cab yellow (Stella d'Oro). Hostas, fern and coral bells lend good leafy color, but the magnificent, colorful blooms found in sunny spots won't be found here.

To wrap up springtime sensations, here are the last of my most colorful blooms.

Try as I might, I couldn't get close enough to this cute hummingbird to get a good shot of it. He was a skittish little guy. This is enlarged (almost to oblivion), but you can get a sense of it.

Hallelujah! This dainty little fern-leaf peony finally bloomed--after about five years. My husband fell in love with it--when it had no bloom on it--on a trip to the garden shop. He brought it home and planted it. Each year, it teased us with one stinkin' little bud that never opened. Each year, the bud just shriveled up and died on the plant. At last, this year, that one stinkin' little bud bloomed. It was a small bloom. About three inches across. But, that's a step in the right direction.


Make it a great day!

Linking to:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Good-bye, Dear Maple; National Photo Month, Day 24

This isn't a very good photo of the enormous maple tree that has stood between our house and our neighbors' for far more years than either family has lived here. It's not a good tree photo because this is a cropped version of one of my garden spots. I didn't expect to need a photo of this big, old beauty today.

But, when I returned home from work today, here's what was left of the maple, which, admittedly, had become an accident waiting to happen. The neighbors finally gave in to reason and reluctantly had the tree removed.

Age had taken its toll on the grand specimen. Parts of it had become hollow. It would have only been a matter of time before a large portion of it came down on the neighbors' car or house. In 1997, we had a heavy October snow--before the leaves had turned and fallen. Following the storm, the city looked like a tornado had roared through, with trees downed and limbs twisted and mangled and piled as high as rooftops. We were without electricity for nine days and our acre took a couple of weeks to clear.

The big maple lost some large and significant limbs then. Subsequent storms continued to strip away parts of its frame.

Losing a tree that has been a part of our scenery for the 23 years we've lived here is tough. This evening we stood with our neighbor and reflected on the life and demise of a significant part of our landscape.

As the neighbor girls played in the sawdust, I was reminded that when our children were little we had a professional photo taken of the three of them in front of that then-sturdy maple. It had not yet lost one of its major trunks in that '97 storm.

It provided dense shade on the east side of our property. But, as the sun rose behind it every morning, the rays streamed through it, creating an ethereal setting.

Everything in nature evolves. Without the maple, that side of our yard and garden will get significantly more morning sun. As I look ahead, I envision, in that part of the yard, more color in what has always been a shade garden. We'll miss you, dear maple, but the future looks bright (and more colorful).

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thin As a Reed; National Photo Month, Day 23

Such a pretty pop of lime green on these eye-catching water plants. Not sure what they are, but they remind me of reeds.

Like the royal guard, they stand tall along the edge of a soothing water feature in our local botanical gardens. Someday soon, I'll post more photos from my recent visit to the gardens.

Stand tall and make it a great day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mulberry Stains to Abstract Art; National Photo Month, Day 22

Walking with a colleague recently, we came across some serious mulberry stains on the sidewalk.

"Looks a bit like abstract art," he said.

Sure did. I snapped the photo above for the heck of it. It could definitely pass for abstract art in its original, unedited form. The splashes of bird doo-doo add some interest, don't you think?

So, here's what it looks like after I doctored it up in PicMonkey.

Abstract art isn't really my taste, but I can imagine this hanging on someone else's wall.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cool Blues; National Photo Month, Day 20

Old-fashioned bachelor buttons. An instant step back in time to:

Grandma's garden
On hot summer days

Chasing butterflies and
mystical fireflies

Brewed iced tea and
fresh radish sandwiches

Tire swings, teeter totters,
skipping rope and hopscotch

Windows thrown wide open,
Laundry on the line

Mornings in the kitchen
Evenings on the porch

Make it a great day!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Perfect Imperfection; National Photo Month, Day 19

Aging is all about perspective. When I look in the mirror each morning, my attitude toward aging just isn't that positive.

But, take a lovely garden finial such as this one, and aging takes on a whole new perspective.

I found this concrete finial at an estate sale. I imagine it was still sitting there, lonely and overlooked, because it had a wounded foot and was cloaked in moss on one side. For some, those characteristics might have been viewed as flaws. Really?

I don't think so! To me, chips and moss are beauty marks.

Make it a great day!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Playing Around; National Photo Month, Day 18

This pretty, peachy iris just showed up on my garden doorstep this spring. She wasn't expected. Certainly wasn't invited. She just turned up, stayed and blossomed into a beautiful lady.

I've never had a "volunteer" iris before. This one has been quite a treat. Somewhere between a peach and a tan color, she adds a hue to the back garden that I believe is only possible with iris.

Today I introduced my son to the PicMonkey editing tool and had some fun playing around with Iris to demonstrate some of its features. Here are some of the results:

Make it a great day!