While The Hubs Was Away

Hello World! I hope this finds you doing well. Hey, I’m posting a second post today. What’s up with that?

I suppose I’m in the mood to get caught up on things.

April 16th – 23rd

It’s that time of the year for new growth. And word is out that there are new baby egrets over at the nearby lake.

Which brings me to the reason our pond is still covered. This guy came for a visit last week, only to discover he was not able to reach the fish, thank you pond net for holding up.

It’s also a busy time in and around the pond.

The fish have spawned several times and I’m working double duty to keep the pond nice and clean. In the process, I think I’m getting a little extra vitamin D.

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Monday evening, the hubs called to see if I wanted to watch our show together. While we were worlds apart. Or so it seemed.

Note: If you are anyone that knows me well, you know I’m not a TV person. While I enjoy the shows we watch together, like survivor, Master Chef and Better Call Saul, I don’t bother turning on the TV when the hubs is away.

So on that particular night, he had to walk me thru instructions, just to get the TV on.

Once “we” (the me part of we) got to the right channel, we were all set to watch Better Call Saul.

The fun part was texting between commercials and even during the show. That was my favorite night, as he felt really close.

One day I picked roses from the garden. It makes me happy to bring the outdoors in.

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What makes my heart sing – Sometimes things grab our attention without trying to notice. Like this canister at the front of the store in the after Easter clearance sale. Several thoughts that ran thru my mind in like 1 second. 4 dollars and change? really? I love it! It’s cheerful and happy! For that price it’s ours. And so it was. Next year, I’ll have to make a cozy little spot for us to enjoy.

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One day the hubs sent a text…”How many pieces of fudge would you like?”

You see, he was in Ft Worth again, staying in the Stockyards next to the candy store where they sell my favorite fudge in the world. Of course not counting my mom’s fudge, her fudge is the best, but only made once a year. That’s another story for another time.

Back to the number of pieces I wanted. I responded “One piece baby, just one.” That was my fudge order.

Well fudge, I didn’t think another thing until he got home Friday afternoon with a couple of boxes of goodies. I wonder if he left enough fudge on the shelf for others. Obviously he was not concerned with sharing. That’s 8 huge pieces of fudge for me. Yeah, he’s not a fudge kinda guy, so it’s all mine.

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The best part about this fudge is, the decadence of peanut butter and chocolate in one smooth creamy bite. It is sure to satisfy the craziest of chocoholics.

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After the hubs busy week, we decided a laid back weekend was the ticket to rest up. We did enjoy a few dinners out, a quick stop at the ice cream store and a lot of relaxation.

And with that, my wish for you is a Happy New Week.

Blessings – Debbie

Fort Worth Stock Yards

Hello peeps!  How are you? Yes, I’m here! Has it really been over a year since I had something to say on the blog? I find that hard to believe.

The blog’s been on my mind, it seems daily. And the weight of all the things left unsaid seemed to push me further away. Like a mountain of stuff piling up, and  not knowing where to begin. Things like 3 weddings in 3 different states, memories of my grandma, gardening projects, monthly book club fun dates, painting birdhouses, our trip to Hoover Dam, Meteor Crater and the Grand Canyon and little things like ducks adopting our pond and the hubs and I named them Mack and Daisy and we became Certified Kansas City BBQ judges! And other stuff that I would find blog worthy.

But at some point, it’s good to know that it’s ok to start blogging right where I am. And not fret trying to get things in chronological order.

So for now, I would like to post an update from two weeks ago.

On Monday, April 3rd, our alarm rang at 3:15am. The hubs had a business trip to Fort Worth and we decided that I should go too. Our bags were packed the night before and we were up and at it and out the door in record time.

Fort Worth was our destination. In fact, we stayed at the Hyatt, right smack in the middle of the heartbeat of Fort Wort, the Fort Worth Stock Yards.

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While the hubs worked, I found plenty to do, just steps away from our room.

One of the things I was excited about was the cattle drive.

The Old West comes to life during the Fort Worth Herd’s twice-daily cattle drive. Genuine Texas cowhands drive a herd of Texas Longhorns down Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards National Historic District every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

On Tuesday afternoon, I arrived exceptionally early to experience the excitement on the street as people started to arrive.

I found a nice shaded bench on the sidewalk and found myself in my own little world enjoying the passing moments.

A little while later, I heard a sweet voice coming from a gal (Genevieve) who found a  place to sit on the bench next to me.

In no time, we became friends and exchanged stories about our passion for art, photography and travel. Turns out, she is traveling the entire lower 48. How awesome and impressive is that folks!?! We also exchanged blogs and emails.

She also encouraged me to get back to blogging. Many thanks to her, the blog is back sooner than expected.

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Every detail of the cattle drive—from the saddles and chaps to the boots and hats – is authentic and historically true.

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On Wednesday, the next day, I watched the cattle drive again.

“Here comes the parade!” Ha! I got such a chuckle out of the gal behind me when she uttered those words. I guess you could argue that it’s a parade of Longhorns.

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It was sweet to see the baby. His little horns are adorbs.

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And that’s a wrap on the cattle drive. Till next time…

At the Cow Wash – I love how the hubs came up with the name cow wash. This was located just behind our hotel.

They didn’t enjoy getting sprayed in the face.

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But didn’t seem to mind the rest of the wash.

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Who knew Longhorns got the full service?

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While in the Stockyards, it was nice to get out and stroll.

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While on my stroll, It was nice to take the time to enjoy the finer things. Like this furniture store (Rios) located in the heart of the Stock Yards.

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Southwest flare is pretty cool.

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The Texan swagger is on.

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A cool statue I shot one bright sunny day.

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The hubs and I enjoyed a nice BBQ brisket meal at one of our old favorite places.

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It was a must to take a picture where our daughter used to work. Just for old times sake.

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Another evening, we went to Rodeo Goat for burgers.

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Overall, the two of us got to enjoy some special things. Like our favorite fried chicken establishment, Babe’s Fried Chicken. We took a side tour of our old homestead, visited with our old neighbor in passing and enjoyed the time when we were able to do things together.

I was also blessed to visit with a good friend Jan over lunch one day. What a delight it was seeing her again, after 10 years. It’s a wonderful feeling when we are able to catch up with old friends. And able to pick right back up where we left off and not miss a beat. Does my heart good.

Our time in Fort Worth was a treasure, I gained a new friend Miss Genevieve, we were able to experience old favorite places and visit with old long lost friends. What a blessing after 10 years of separation to the place we once called home.

I have so much more to share, and look forward to posting again soon. I think it’s safe to say that I’m back and ever so happy to be here.

Blessings – Debbie

Mama said there’ll be days like this

There’ll be days like this my mama said. Such a smart lady my mama.

Some days beg for a little vent, a shoulder to cry on, someone to listen as we share little challenges, all in a day. That was yesterday and today we’re still without water.

First things first, we woke to no internet. Ok, no biggie, the hubs can get to it later.

Next, I noticed our sprinklers were not turning off and water was pooling.  This is the second ordeal with the sprinklers in the last week. Turns out we have a bad valve and we look to replace them over the weekend. But in the meantime, we have the water turned off for the entire household. Luckily we can turn it on for showers and such and then right back off it goes. I told the hubs this morning as he was getting dressed for the outdoors that it was as though he had to make a run for the well before he could shower this morning. And then it took me back to the days before me, when folks really did have to pump their water. And then I thought of how thankful I am that all we need to do is turn a knob for running water. It’s not so bad after all.

Note: this issue it unrelated to the broken/repaired pipe I shared last week.

So last evening, the hubs insisted we go out for dinner. It was a nice treat with all that was going on at home.

But folks, the shoe dropped once again after dinner. As the hubs went to start the car, it would not start. We both grinned, looked at each other and agreed that we were ready for the nonsense and day to end.

We were also delighted to have AAA to the rescue. They were by our side in less than 30 min., they came equipped with new batteries and provided the best service on the spot. And our car was good as new and back on the road within 45 min of our first call.

While the internet was down, I painted in Photoshop (yesterday). It’s the image that so inspired me to shoot the other day. I can’t express the amount of joy that comes from painting. And I can say it was good for the body and soul. Amen.

The first image on the left is a underpainting. Image in the middle is the next layer, what I refer to as intermediate strokes and the last image is referred to as detail strokes.

While the layers are far from finished, it gives an idea of the steps taken while in the process of putting the layers together as one.

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And with that, I shall continue to move forward. And feel grateful that we have so much to be thankful for. Even if we have a mound of dirty clothes in need of washing.

Blessings – Debbie

Good Bad and Ugly

Lately we’ve bumped into some good, bad and downright ugly situations. But first, I’ll start with the good. Actually the good part of this should be more like GREAT!

Great in the sense –

  • Weekend dates are wonderful!
  • We’ve had a hankering to try this new restaurant in town and we finally got around to going.
  • They have ribs on the menu. (I love ribs, really good ribs)
  • They advertise fall off the bone ribs.
  • I’ve been searching for really good ribs since our move to So Cal a little over 6 years ago.
  • I need look no further for my rib fix. Finger licking good, let me tell you. We’ll be back!
  • The hubs had their filet and from what he said, it was really good too.

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The Good – Another wonderful thing this past week was the girls book club get together. It was our first meeting of 2016. We had such a wonderful time discussing the book – Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The bad – We had quite the storm over the weekend. Wind, rain, power outages in the area for up to 6 hours. Our friends, a mile or so up the road, brought some important frozen goods over that evening. Luckily our power, powered thru the storm.

The Good – During the storm, the hubs and I did a little more binge watching of the old but new to us show Downton Abbey. Love that show! Where have we been? We are caught up thru season 4 already.

During the stormy and ever so windy night, I thought the wind was going to literally carry us away. The hubs slept right thru it.

The Good – The morning after, we woke to pretty sunny skies with a little sprinkling of hail left over from our storm.

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The Good – A pretty red rose in the garden for the “love month”.

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The Ugly – Late yesterday afternoon I noticed a bit of a waterfall on the upper terrace. I quickly sent the hubs a message saying that it did not look like a sprinkler gusher, but close. I then made my way up the terrace and quickly took this shot with the cell phone and sent it to the hubs saying “we have a problem”. Then he gave direction for me to turn off the water main.

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The Good in the midst of Ugly – In true hero fashion, the hubs came home and saved the day! And we had running water once again last night.

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The Ugly – The “root” of the problem. It’s pretty crazy the amount of trouble roots can cause. We plan to have more roots removed and new pipe put in the ground.

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Life is not always roses and sunshine. But it’s what we make of it thru the storm.

Blessings – Debbie

Happy New Year

Much has happened between now and the time I last posted.

I feel like I’ve been sick for way too long. From dealing with muscle issues in my back for a couple of months to catching a cold on Christmas night. It finally feels good to have the old me back.

A big Happy New Year shout out from our home to yours!

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Little reminders from the last couple of months.

This friendly reminder was shot at the salon. A nice reminder that shows how they love to treat their customers.

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A nice reminder of my love for putting all things Christmas up on the day after Halloween. Better known as November 1st. It makes perfect sense to enjoy those evenings when the time change hits and makes the world dark before it should.

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The best reminder of family. We traveled to see family for thanksgiving. What a special treat to have my two siblings, all nieces and nephews. Our nephew and his new bride. Our nephew and his fiancé, mom and dad and my grandma. Talk about great memories with family, it doesn’t get any better.

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A reminder as I was getting ready to have my bookclub friends over to discuss our 2016 schedule.

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A reminder of the morning beverages for the girls.

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And a little reminder of the fruit bowl and other morning snacks (brownies and biscotti) on the dining room table. Following our morning meeting, we girls headed to Olive Garden for a wonderful lunch and more fellowship.

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A reminder of the hubs amazing smoked brisket over his 2 week Christmas holiday. Loved spending those two weeks together around home sweet home.

While I don’t have a photo of the amazing chili he made with the brisket leftovers, I will never forget how wonderful it was. I rank it as the best chili ever made.

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I don’t have a reminder picture of the fish we purchased for our pond, but I’ll never forget that wonderful experience with the hubs over Christmas. If you are reading this, My Love, Thank You!

A reminder of carolers on Christmas day.

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A pretty reminder of where we sat enjoying our Christmas dinner. The view of ice-skating beneath the palm trees with an ocean view, what a delight.

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A beautiful reminder of how we stayed until nearly sunset. We savored desert and slowly ever so slowly sipping my coffee while visiting with the hubs and taking in the view.

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Approximately 2 hours after our Christmas dinner, I told the hubs “I feel a sore throat coming on”. And on the morning of December 26th, I woke  to a sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy head sort of cold. The sort of cold where the hubs dropped everything and took care of me. After the 1st week, I told the hubs, “This feels like a 3 week cold”. Turns out, it was a 3 week cold.

A reminder of how pretty it was one morning as the sun came up. Especially since it rained the day before. A reminder of how the hubs made me promise to stay inside while I was sick. A reminder of my view from the sofa where I sat feeling miserable from my cold that morning. A reminder that I obeyed and took this image from inside the house. Thank you for taking care of me, My Love. And bringing medicine to me when I did not feel like moving. You’re the BEST!

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Our New Years Reminder – I was still sick, but we watched the ball drop at Times Square, per usual. We kissed, yes, the hubs kisses me, even when I’m sick. And wished each other a Happy New Year. And chose to get an early start on sleep that night. No staying up for us until the New Year on the west coast, when we can watch it ring in on the east coast.

While I only have a few reminders in picture form, I’m thankful for the blessings of family, love and feeling back to my old self again.

Happy New Year!

Blessings – Debbie

Oh Summer You Went So Fast

Dear summer of 2015, thank you for your bountiful blessings.

We were so excited about our grape-vine this year, that we picked up two more vines and planted them. Unfortunately, around picking time, there were no grapes left for us. Lesson learned, we will cover them with a net to keep the birds away next time.

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And our little pumpkin patch flourished with more pumpkins than we could use this autumn. Unfortunately, we just ended up tossing them as we planted a little too early this year. Lessons learned…

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Fresh summer California berries deserve a standing ovation. Amen…

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July 10th – An exciting day! Our solar panels were delivered. A big shout out for solar energy, oh happy day! We are so thrilled to have that done.

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Enjoyed our Sweet 16 Anniversary. Feeling blessed and so very happy to spend life with My Love. It truly has been a great adventure.

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Mid August – Taking pictures lately? That’s the question my photographer friend asked while we were out having some girl time. No was the reply. No was her reply too. We think it has to do with the overload from school that put us both over the edge. However, we both still love our camera and in no way are we putting it on the shelf. Just taking a little breather. Here’s an image of roses I brought in from the garden. Made me so very happy…

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August 31 – Spent hours by the waterfall = My favorite place to chill. The activity in and around the pond = priceless.

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I love a garden with flowers and fish. I’m thankful each day to have both. Love our Shubunkin pumpkins as I fondly call them. This guy was wondering when I would stop shooting and feed him.

Threw a paint filter on this in Photoshop, because I thought it needed a little something somethin.

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A little early September morning blessing from the garden.

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Loving my babies! It has to be one of my favorite spots to visit.

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Yes, we have watermelon! And I must say, it is some of the best melon ever. It continues to produce and we’ve enjoyed it daily for weeks.

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One of the great blessings of the week is – I have the hubs home taking a little vacation with me. Loving this time together around Home Sweet Home.

Back to celebrating his time off. Happy Day! And Happy Catching up on the Blog… Well as much catching up as I plan to do. I know there are things I missed like special dates and such, but I’m calling it quits and caught up. And feeling blessed.

Happy Day and Blessings – Debbie

Springtime in CA 2015

I know, it’s autumn, but I plan to do some spring catching up on the blog. I can’t seem to move forward without catching up. It’s time.

I’m still here. Kicking it and loving life.

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In late March, I picked this little vase of goodies from the garden. In hopes to help my sick hubby to feel better. They certainly brightened the space…

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Early April – I painted this image with the help of my Wacom and Photoshop.

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Happy Easter! We spent the afternoon with friends watching our Red Birds on Opening Day.

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A true Cardinal fan and our host.

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Bring on the Cardinal color…

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The beautiful hostess – Everything was positively delecious!

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Children – Loved taking images of them in and around the pool.

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Bashful – Image taken right after her first bite of dinner…But those eyes and expression…LOVE!

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The big boys and girls had it made…

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My Red Bird Fan! And my number 1 Hero.

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Another early April painting. This is an underpainting (Layer 2) taking on a little shape.

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Finished painting.

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A little shot of my kitchen window garden with a fresh rose from the garden.

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A rose as it begins to drift away. I just love the color!

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April 16 – My somebody special on his way to work to present to the customer. I’m happy his meetings went well…

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Mid April evening in the garden – Enjoying the last drop of light…

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Late April – Amaryllis in bloom.

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End of April – We joined Costco! Now that is an event worth noting. It had been 12 years since we enjoyed the benefits of being customers of Costco.

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End of April – It’s the time of year when the dragonflies return. They come in all sorts of colors during the season. Here’s a female laying her eggs.

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May 2nd – Boxing party was held at our house! The hubs and his buddy putting the brisket on the smoker early that morning. And the sad thing, this is the only shot I have from that glorious afternoon and evening with friends. But the memories are priceless…

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Our dear friend gifted us with the beautiful flag (made and painted by her) that proudly waves over our front door.

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The heron has landed – I figured a shot was appropriate before yelling at him. Sometimes they are persistent around the fish pond. But my yelling and screaming at them seems to do the trick.

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In early May, I had the gardener transplant this tree. I really hoped to keep it alive. Unfortunately, it did not like the new home.

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Springtime dilemma is when a girl can’t figure out what color she wants.

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One of my May dates to Red Lobster with my love = Time well spent.

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Another May Date with the hubs at the Cheesecake Factory. Just love this composition at the hostess desk…

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An early morning capture of the dragonfly on a net.

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And a bee pollenating…

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A little capture of the hubs boots at the back door – a nice reminder he was busy in the garden.

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My Christmas wish for 2015 came early. As in May early for my birthday! I had told the hubs (months ago – Jan/Feb this year) when I spied this arbor that I would like it for Christmas. Not only did he remember. But he surprised me with this a week before my birthday.

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Up on the hill at the top of the winding stair path is where I wanted it. And so it was…

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On the morning of my birthday, the hubs knew right where to place the special card for me.

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When a statue is larger than life – Sometimes it’s the little things that need to be captured. Just bummed my cell is the only camera I had with me on that May evening night. But a great evening and dinner along the San Diego Harbor with the hubs and a friend.

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May 31st is the day we picked this big guy from the garden – Indeed we kept it on the vine too long, but we grilled it for dinner anyway. The skin was obviously tough but the inside was tender and good.

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One last image – rosebuds in the garden.

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And that my friends takes us thru the month of May, 2015.

Blessings – Debbie

8/52 – Perspective

Hey peeps, I can’t believe another week has disappeared. I must say, this weekly project has me in tune with just how short the year really is. I mean, really, we’re into the 8th week already? Can’t be…

My project this week is perspective.

From my point of view, as I looked out the back window yesterday morning. It was 67° indoors with an expected high of 70°. But I was chilled as I watched the 5 tier waterfall.

The recent foam gathering at the base, made me feel a little more chilled. I stood watching with a shiver. But it’s all about perspective.

Then I proceeded outdoors to breathe in the cool fresh air, soak in the sunshine and rolled up my sleeves to do a bit of gardening.

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I’m in love with my year round Valentine. That’s the way I see him, my everyday valentine. While we don’t subscribe to buying gifts or cards on valentine’s day (it’s not our “thing”), we do believe in celebrating year round.

Over the weekend, while shopping at the local nursery for our star jasmine, I spied this succulent. I was smitten at first sight. And he picked up three of the most beautiful plants for me, just because.

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It was such a joy finding a new home for the plants. I believe this is the crusula capitella campfire, native to Africa.

I’ve already taken a few samples from the plants to see if I can start some new ones on my own. That right there is how smitten I am over these beauties.

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin – This was my read for book club this week. A story about our American hero, Charles Lindbergh. The kidnapping and brutal murder of their son Charles Lindbergh Jr. And the story of his loving wife Anne, written from her point of view.

While we finished our book club gathering today, I came home feeling exhausted, as if I had had a really good cry. Yes, it was that good, as our discussion was filled with passion or compelling emotion from each of our perspectives. Now I’m hungry for a good biography of Charles Lindberg.

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From my perspective, our roses are such cheerful, bright, happy flowers.

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The many colors have my undivided attention.

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Each one different and beautiful in its own way.

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From my perspective, this is a really good week.

P.S. I got a ride in my neighbors convertible “Benz” today. What a perfect day for a sweet ride.

Blessings – Debbie

7/52 – Pastel

Hey friends, I’m on a roll today! How about you? I hope things are well.

It’s time I get my weekly project finished early. I’m pretty excited about that.

So when pastel was given as our inspiration this week, all I could think about were the lovely roses in the garden.

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So today I took several images to show some of the pretty pastel colors in the backyard.

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This was such a fun assignment!

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This week is filled with all sorts of fun stuff:

  • I’ve been playing in the dirt.
  • Digging and planting new plants in one of our little cleared out areas in the backyard. Pictures to come when I finish that little project.
  • The roses were fertilized over the weekend. They are leafing out so nice this year and the buds are getting ready to pop!
  • I find it difficult to be indoors when all I want to do is enjoy the pretty outdoors.
  • The hubs and I enjoyed a fire in the fire-pit over the weekend.
  • Visited with our next door neighbors on the patio and then went over to their place and enjoyed a bit more afternoon patio sitting and visiting.
  • I’m excited about my lunch date with the hubs today.
  • And looking forward to my friend coming over tomorrow for coffee and a visit on the patio.

Can you take a guess at what I’m looking forward to? Well, the time change! That = a lot more outdoor activity during the evening hours. And that makes me so very happy!

Blessings – Debbie

A Three Day Weekend

It’s the hubs Friday off work week. And this long weekend is just a little extra special. It’s the weekend after the long holiday, festivities and company. It’s a time we find ourselves getting back into the groove embracing our New Year. I love it!

The hubs had a few workers out to the house over the last couple of days. He’s getting a few bids on a job we would like to start this year.

We had the best date yesterday afternoon at the local plant nursery, followed with dinner and Cold-stone for our sweet tooth.

Fresh California avocados, cilantro, tomato, onion, lime juice and salt – it’s what the hubs asked if I would whip up on this glorious afternoon.

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His wish is my command and guacamole was served.

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So I got a poinsettia as a hostess gift this year. And the plant does not like me. No matter how much love I give, it’s obvious I’m doing it all wrong. I think I’ll stick with my roses that flourish.

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But the very tippy top of the poinsettia is still so bright and cheerful. After reading (online) the care that goes into keeping these beauties year after year, I think I’ll pass. Or perhaps I’ll just stick it in the ground around May and see what happens.

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As for the rest of our weekend, I think we’re booked to relax and enjoy the time together.

I hope you’re having a glorious day and weekend.

Blessings – Debbie

A Simple Day

I went to bed around 7:30 (with a splitting headache) last evening. And woke (headache free) to the aroma of this amazing goodness. Love My Love! He finished adding more spices and thickened it after this shot.

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Here it is, the first Saturday of the year and the sun has already set. Makes me wish time would stand still for just a moment longer.

As with the time, we just keep moving right along. We managed to get a few more things crossed off the list over the last couple of days. I had my eye Dr/exam this morning, found a new pair of frames (they’re a little bigger, providing a bit more room for the progressives YAY), and the hubs got a fresh haircut.

And we had the best beef stew for lunch and dinner. Boy was that yummy!

I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying this brand new year.

Blessings – Debbie

Happy New Year

I’m still here!

Whew tho, I have a lot of catching up to do over the last couple of months. So I’ll try to make it as brief as possible.

November was pretty packed, as I was learning a lot (in school) about using the paintbrush and tools in Photoshop. That’s when things began to fall off my plate. Like the blog, unfortunately.

And things were added to my plate.

I joined the girls for a day trip up to Rogers Gardens. It was great way to step away from my school work. It was the best distraction and just what I needed to kick off the Christmas season.

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After my much needed day away, it was time to refocus on school work. The image below is one of the two paintings I finished in Photoshop.

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Then Thanksgiving rolled around. We dined at the Hotel Del.

The view from our table.

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Everything was cooked to perfection.

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After dinner, we watched some ice skating beneath the blue sky and palm trees.

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And we took a selfie to remember the day.

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Then it was time to plan for our annual Christmas party. Hors d’Oeuvres, dinner, white elephant gift exchange, and a bonfire with s’mores – those were the highlights of the party. But it was our friends that made the party so special. If I remember correctly, we had 14 guests in all.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take that many  pictures. But the Starbucks mug with gift card was a big hit.

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By this time, the month of December was in full swing. And the churn of my busy schedule kept right on churning.

We had a lot of rain and I found that to calm my nerves as I planned my next and final school project. I had to give a speech. There was a lot of planning and the hubs helped out so much with my powerpoint presentation. He’s the BEST! Then I rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed some more. Finally the day came (mid December) and I was ready to present to the class my evolution and passion for art From Crayons to Photography.

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And then, as time marched on, we only had one weekend to do our annual Christmas newsletter. I was inspired after all the rain to take an image of our ornament in a puddle. Turns out, we liked it so much that we made it our 2014 Christmas card. The only regret, we did not have a lot of time to review our newsletter and we found some type o’s. For shame!

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Finally, we got to relax while the December dust settled. And I found the time to put my nose in a book called Delicious by Ruth Reichl. What a great read!

Our dear neighbors brought the most delectable plate of homemade yumminess over on Christmas Eve. What a treat!

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Soon it was time to celebrate Christmas.

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The hubs and I, along with our friend went back to the Hotel Del for Christmas dinner.

The image below was taken on our stroll along the pacific after dinner.

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I kicked my shoes off to enjoy the soft sand between my toes.

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And to check out this sandcastle.

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A close up – it truly was a marvelous work of art, all the way around.

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Our friend came back to the house to spend the late afternoon and early evening visiting.  And we watched The Christmas Story together.

Then, the hubs and I found ourselves alone and made a mad dash for jammies!

Our Christmas picture later that evening.

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On the day after Christmas, we decided it was time to put all the decorations away for another year. It actually took 1.5 days to get everything put away, cleaned up and back to normal.

The only thing resembling Christmas, are the candy-canes tucked in the bud vase.

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I’m ready for the New Year. And ready to add more things to my plate. Like family/company coming from Alaska this weekend and the blog and other things of importance.

Until next time – Happy New Year and many blessings to you this year…

Blessings – Debbie

Playing Hooky

Wow, this has to be a first.

But it feels so good. Not something I would normally feel good about. But I do! And I’m oh so happy.

So the week started with this scene on campus when I arrived. The power on campus went out approx. 8 min before I arrived. Then we heard the campus was closed for afternoon classes. What did our cool photog class do? Carry on with class in the dark. Cause that’s how we roll.

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Painting in Photoshop – So, my next and last assignment for the semester is learning to paint in Photoshop.

We have two images to paint and one has to be a face. Hmmm… AND he does not want it looking like a photo. He wants to see where the brush has been. I have a lot to learn.

Currently, I’m studying brushes and angles, how to hold the Wacom tool for great technique and a whole bunch of other goodies. I’ll just say this “There is no possible way to achieve this with a mouse, impossible.”

I say all that to say, our professor signed our class up and paid for us to take 5 online classes in the next four weeks. Just one of the lessons is 8 hours. In the last two days I have devoted 16 hours learning how to paint and I’m not even two hours into the first of 5 online lessons. *Sigh* But, I’m  having so much fun!

I’ll say it takes me a while to follow the leader…When the instructor (online class) makes a stroke with a certain brush – I hit the pause, hop into Photoshop, reach for the Wacom tool, grab that brush (in Photoshop) and give it a try too… For me, That’s the way I learn, I can’t just sit thru a lecture and recall those steps at the end. If I follow along, I’m likely to remember when I’m off painting on my own.

I learned how to start the underpainting process this week.

The image on the left is the original image I took with my camera. The image on the right is my first spin for this lesson. I’m not so sure this is going to be one of my final images, as for now, it’s all about learning the ropes.

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That being said, I told the hubs last evening that I’m playing hooky “in school” for the rest of the week. While I love what I’m learning, I’m one of those people who can juggle so much, before something has to fall off the plate and the hubs comes first (I was on the computer ’til 9:45 last evening). Then I promised the hubs that there will be no more Photoshop going on in the evenings. Not that he complained – But he did ask in a chipper voice “where’s my wife?” – He’s the best!

And this morning as we were getting around for the day. I gleefully announced “I’m going on a field-trip with the girls (our neighbors) this week and playing hooky! The hubs said “why don’t you come meet me for lunch?” Now I have a lunch date this week and a field trip. Priorities people – I feel so guilty, but oh so good. Don’t judge.

And oh so happy I have the Christmas tree project behind me. Cause I have a feeling this is going to be one crazy fun ride in school this month. HOLD ON!

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“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy – Thank You doesn’t seem enough for our heroes and she-roes…Happy “Belated” Veterans Day!

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And a Very Happy Wednesday to you!

Blessings – Debbie

Dear September

You went way too fast! And I did not get my act together to keep up. However, I’m back to recover some of little things in life last month.

Catfish – Our latest edition in May. They (we have two) were about 2″ + when we got them, now they are approximately 9″ – Finally I got a shot this month – These guys love to hide under rocks and come out of hiding for breakfast – The perk = we don’t have “fry” this year – While the fish did spawn, the catfish took care of all the eggs. Nice edition if you were to ask me.

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September school assignment – The lesson called to shoot 6 different categories in the Urban Environment with a total of 42 images. Then select two of our favorite images to print out on 11 x 17 for critique. And hand in the other 40 images compacted on two 8.5 x 11 contact sheets.

The six different categories – 1. Bench where people come and go – 2. Absence of people 3. Twilight 4. Collection of things (anything) 5. Non sequitur, something that looks out of place 6. Nature and manmade blended together

One of my favorite images printed on 11 x 17 and mated it for critique in class. Category = Bench

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The second image I used for my final urban assignment. Category = Twilight

On a good note – the professor was so thrilled with our work that it was all hung in the school gallery.

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What my contact sheets for the assignment (printed on 8.5 x 11) look like…

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Next…. I still don’t have my grade, but I hope it’s a good one.

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Guess who thought it necessary to be there with me, as he did not want me alone out there on my urban assignment…Makes my heart smile…

He’s the BEST!

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Friendship – Lunch with friends at the beach, is always a good idea. It’s times like this that I kick myself for not having my camera. But ever so thankful for the trusty cell phone.

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Fresh cool air – sipping soda beachside with friends – enjoying the visit – more than a girl could ask on a summer day.

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Truly a glorious day to remember…

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Happy Fish and Cloudy Water – We’ve had the pond guy out a couple of times to try to help us figure out why we can’t seem to get the clarity back. Turns out, I’m cleaning it TOO MUCH and backwashing TOO MUCH. Jokingly he said, this is not a pool, it’s a pond. And you need to allow the algae to grow on the sides to develop a good ecosystem.  And he said “don’t touch it ’til I come back the end of the month.” On a good note, the fish are happy and the water ph is just dandy. But the clarity we are used to seeing is just not there. My bad.

The get this thing clean and backwash mentality is hard to let go, but I must.

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New Frames – The hubs is up for new frames. The supposedly really nice frames he picked up the last time continue to have a screw loose ALL. THE. TIME.

We’ve shopped a few places and took a pic the last place we visited over the weekend. Now to go back to the other place to compare notes with the other frames we liked.

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While I still love my frames, it’s a growing concern that I could use bigger frames do to wearing progressives and the need for a little more room to see. Totally not something I’m thrilled about.

But I think I found something that may fill the order next year. I think…

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October Class Assignment – I spent the last couple of weeks in september working on images that could be used for my upcoming assignment. Images were not to be taken in direct sunlight.

I was quite fond of the bubble I captured as it was moving down the waterfall over the stem of the leaf.

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But this image captured days later caused my heart to sing. Getting ready to print this guy and mat it next week.

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I must say, this semester has brought a lot of doubt. Doubt on the days we have a solid 3 hour lecture.

And I come home feeling discouraged that I’m unable to carry out the task. And when I tell the hubs all about it, a tear or two may trickle down my cheek. And he listens, while the look on his face tells me that he wished he could make it all better. And that’s what makes everything better.

And it’s weeks like this (in class) when we’ve had a solid 3 hour lab, that things begin to sink in. Somehow when we as students get to sit at the computer and begin to work on our assignments, ask questions and put to use what we’re learning, the process kicks in.  And somehow I’m able to grasp what he was saying all along during those lectures.

And now I could practically do the assignment with my eyes closed. And I smile and say, it wasn’t that bad after all.

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Cheers to learning new things!

And may I remember that it’s alright if I don’t come home from school knowing everything the professor finished lecturing about. Somethings take time to process.

On a Happy Note – Happy October! Puts me in the holiday spirit already. Yup, I’m one of the crazies that love to blend Pumpkin, Thanksgiving and Christmas all into one.

Blessings – Debbie

Mango Salsa

Vine ripe tomatoes from our garden, help to kick this recipe up a notch. I can’t get over how new tomatoes and blossoms continue on our plants. I wonder how much longer they’ll bear fruit?

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After washing our sun ripened tomatoes, I selected the larger beefsteak tomatoes for the salsa.

Then we seed the tomatoes. Totally worth this step, if you were to ask us.

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When all the components are tossed together, we celebrate another batch of salsa!

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Mango Salsa Recipe

  • 3-1/3 cup diced tomatoes
  • 2-1/2 cup diced mango
  • 3/4 cup diced onion – Give or take
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro – chopped “I just eyeball what looks like 3/4 cups then chop it up. Obviously, after it’s all chopped, it shrinks to about 1/4 cup?
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic minced

Stir and enjoy!

We like to refrigerate ours overnight for the flavors to infuse. So it’s just chillin’. Should be just right in the next day or so.

Happy September 1st!

Blessings – Debbie