The Cherry Blossom Festival

…and more!

A couple of weeks ago, the City of Conyers had its annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Horse Park. My daughter was scheduled to dance in this event, and since the last spend-the-night with my niece had been cancelled due to sickness, we picked her up for the weekend and took her with us.

This was the first time I had ever attended the Cherry Blossom Festival. The Horse Park was filled with craft and food vendors as far as the eye could see. There were moonwalks and games and concerts. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we were ready to enjoy it.

My daughter had to be on stage 2, so we headed there first. It was all the way to the back, so we passed many a booth on the way there. Since she wasn’t scheduled to dance for a little while, my niece, my husband, and I headed back to browse the crafts. There were so many wonderful things. My niece, of course, wanted it all. The requests to purchase things were never-ending. She knew we weren’t going to buy her things, and that spurred her requests on even more just to aggravate us. We just laughed and did our best to keep up with her.

We wandered around for quite some time, and then it was time for my daughter to dance.

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Or so we thought. Actually, we still had to wait a few minutes. Since we had to wait, I went over to take photos of the cherry blossoms. My niece decided to follow, so I got some cute photos.

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Then she decided to go sit back down with her uncle, and she stole his glasses.

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Then it was time to watch some dancing. The girls danced beautifully.

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And that was all for our Cherry Blossom Festival experience this year, but that was certainly not the end of the weekend. My niece spent the night again, so the next day, we had a tea (coffee) party. With every tea party, we must have cookies, so we made some chocolate chip cookies. Being an aspiring little entrepreneur, she decided to open a cafe and sell those cookies.

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She was soon on the antique phone taking orders.

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She took an order for some cookies, and it was going to take 100,000,000 hours to fill the order. Of course, we were curious, so we did the math. It was going to take over 11,000 years to fill that order. I guess we’ll just have to leave a prime directive for future generations for that one.

Soon, we made it to actually consuming our coffee and cookies.

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And we were joined by some sock monkeys who came over for the party. Bogart and Noel were fun companions, and they loved the cookies.

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All too soon, our weekend came to a close, and my niece had to return home. The dreaded school monster awaited her the next day. Soon, however, we will get to celebrate her birthday, and what fun that will be!

The Sights and Sounds of Spring

Buzzzzz……

Can anyone guess what that sound is? Yep! A bee. I know spring is here when I step out the door and hear that beautiful sound. Honey bees and bumble bees fill the holly and hawthorn bushes next to the front door collecting nectar from some of the first blooms of spring. I have yet to find where those honey bees live, but I’m sure the honey is sweet.

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And what else says spring? As I sit here and type, Papa Bluebird perches atop the post on my patio guarding Mama¬†Bluebird¬†and her little blue eggs. So many of my little feathered friends have returned home to fill my backyard with song and fight the squirrels for the food in the feeders. When the weather is nice (which would not be today), I sit outside and listen and watch…and photograph of course. And this year, a mockingbird has made its nest in the holly bushes by the front door. I so love to watch the birds. I have photographed a few of my little feathered friends. So far…

Tufted Titmouse

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Cardinal

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Sparrow

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Scarlet Tanager (female)

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House Finch

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Chickadee

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Bluebird

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I hope to add to my bird collection this summer. I even have my Daddy’s old binoculars to aid in my bird watching.

And the flowers. Oh the flowers. So beautiful to behold and so sweet to smell.

Daffodils

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Peach Blossoms

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Cherry Blossoms

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Blueberry Blossoms

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Moonlight Broom Tree Blossoms

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Just to name a few. They fill the world with beauty and color.

I just love Spring. The world wakes up from its winter nap and says hello in such beautiful and amazing ways. So if you haven’t gone out to say hello back, I encourage you to do so. Wake up from Winter’s slumber, take Spring’s hand and go for a little stroll.

Chasing Trains

There’s just something mesmerizing about that low rumble and faint whistle in the distance. What kid doesn’t eagerly wait for that engine to pass, hoping to catch sight of the engineer waving back as he rolls by on the rails? In fact, even as adults we still find it fascinating and exciting.

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A few weeks ago, we traveled out to Perry to set up a booth at the Peaches to Beaches yard sale. On the way, we stopped in Juliette to eat at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Yes, the same one featured in the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”. It was a cute little town right beside the railroad tracks. We wandered around, and I took lots of photos. Many were of the cats that hang out on the porch of the Whistle Stop. I also got a few of the tracks and the corn mill between the tracks and the water. Unfortunately, these were among the pictures I lost. However, I now have an excuse to go back out there soon.

On the way home, we drove back out to Juliette. I wanted to wait for a train to go by and get some good pictures. We waited and waited, but no train came by. On the way out of Juliette, we took a wrong turn. Or maybe it was a right turn, because as we circled back around, we saw it…the train!

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Now, my husband’s grandfather was quite the train hobbyist. He built models, and he even had a train car that he and Grandma rode down the railroad tracks with a club they were in. He also helped open and run the train museum in East Point. His father also worked for the railroad. So, as you can imagine, my husband’s childhood was filled with trains.

I have my history with trains as well. I grew up with my grandmother’s stories of her father who worked for the railroad out in Montana.

So, with our shared fascination with trains, it only makes sense that we would decide to take off and chase this one. What fun! He drove and followed the tracks, and I kept my eye out for the train. The goal was to get ahead of it and watch it at a crossing. Did we succeed? Indeed we did! We headed it off and made it to a railroad crossing on a backroad in the middle of nowhere. We pulled off the side of the road and eagerly awaited.

Just as I was beginning to get antsy and believe we had missed the train, the lights came on, the bell sounded, and the crossing arm lowered.

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The train came rumbling around in just a few minutes. And to our delight, the engineer waved as he went by. Our daughter watched as she stood in the middle of the road in front of the crossing arm, and I took as many pictures as I could get. And these were not lost! They were safe on my SD card, so you get to enjoy the fruits of our Great Locomotive Chase (a movie we are most familiar with by the way).

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Lights! Camera!…Back in Actio

Well, in my blogging absence, I have certainly not been idle. One of my recent projects has been to create some lighting. I just love DIY, and from my resources online and a few creative ideas of my own, I have been able to create some light diffusers and a light box with which to work.

The light diffusers turned out awesome! All I needed was some scrap cardboard from my ever-increasing supply, some duct tape, aluminum foil, Pellon interfacing fabric, and a couple of clamp on shop lights from Home Depot. From my research online, purchasing these lights and diffusers would have cost around $100. With DIY, I think I spent less than $50 for the two lights, diffusers, and the creation of the light box. It may not be as pretty as the cute little kits, but the functionality far surpasses what I have accomplished with the cute little kits in the past.

Oh, what is that? You want to see photos of my handiwork? Why sure!

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Ok. So maybe it’s not that impressive. It does, however, provide some great lighting. The first thing I tried it out on was my daughter’s baby doll that was passed down to her from her great-grandmother.

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And then, of course, Molly decided she wanted to get in on the action. And I think Angel (the baby doll) had a few words of wisdom to pass down to the pup.

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Then the Holly Hobby doll decided she wanted some tea party pics, but she fell asleep before I could get a good one.

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Then I got a photo of my favorite carousel figurine and my tea cup.

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A few days later, I was working on my weekly photo challenge. The challenge was “Less is More.” The extra challenge was to get a high key photo. After looking up the how to of getting a high key photo, I headed to my studio and built my light box. I got it built and then spent quite some time in the studio playing with lighting and taking “high key” photos.

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I found that you can make just about anything interesting with this technique.

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And then I thought of a really good combination for a photo puzzle. Can you guess what it means?

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Then last week I had a chance to use my new toys for a product shoot. A friend asked me to take some photos of some of the dishes in her restaurant for the new menu. I’m going to show you my favorite one, so get ready to drool.

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It smells and tastes as good as it looks! Trust me!

And thus concludes the story of my new lights and light box.

For now…

Murphy’s Law and Silver Linings

Wow! It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything. I’ve started to write quite a few times, but that thing called life gets in the way. In fact, I feel like I’ve been recovering from one disaster after another since the beginning of the year. Murphy’s Law has dominated, and anything that can go wrong has gone wrong. However, every cloud has a silver lining.

On Christmas day, I hurt my thumb. It was a severe strain, and you think that would be easy enough to recover from. However, I think it would have been easier to recover from a break than a sprain. After three months of therapy and a ridiculous medical expense to pay, my thumb still hurts. I am able to type again, which was nearly impossible wearing the brace, and I can almost open jars by myself again without much pain, but I still have some healing to do. I’m not letting it stop me though. I’m determined to get back to writing and photographing.

Therapy took a big chunk out of my schedule that I wasn’t expecting. Between driving to and from, the therapy itself, and the frequent lunch dates with my husband (insert smiley here), I didn’t have much time left for the many other things I needed to do. So I scrambled to get things done, and unfortunately blogging was low on the priority list. Then, just as therapy ended and I was ready to get back blogging, I awoke to a flooded garage.

Now, I know what you’re probably picturing, but it really was an interesting discovery. My studio and workshop resides in the garage, and a little more than half of the garage floor is covered in a burgundy colored foam flooring that locks together like a puzzle. At this point in the story, the workshop was not quite organized like I would have liked. In fact, my husband and I had spent some time browsing Home Depot that very week looking for shelving units to organize my creative work space. Well, I stepped into the workshop to do a little work, and as I stepped, barefoot as is usually the case at home, I kept noticing that water was seeping up between the squares of flooring. My first thought, of course, was that the rain had managed to blow in under the garage door. When I knelt down to retrieve something from under a table, I realized that that there might be quite a bit more water than I realized when the knee of my jeans became completely soaked with water. I began to feel around and realized that there was enough water that I needed to get some things out of there and get the flooring up. I called my son in for help, and we began to move things. As we picked up the flooring near the wall, I discovered that the water was not rainwater after all. It was flowing from the wall. And on the other side of the wall…the kitchen sink. Into the kitchen I went, and I pulled things from under the sink and discovered that the pipe had a steady drip. When I called my husband, he knew immediately what was leaking and told me what to turn off. It was leaking from the valve to the outside spigot, and it had been leaking for about two days. Thankfully, the flooring protected all of my supplies and equipment, so no damage there. After cleaning up and my living room being filled with half of the garage for two days, I set out to purchase those handy-dandy shelving units to get everything organized…and off the floor, in case of a similar incident in the future. Needless to say, between repairs and organizing, that entire week was shot. The silver lining however, my work space is now happy and organized.

This, however, was not the end. Come Friday, Murphy’s law was at it again. My darling cat, Butterscotch, decided to take to sleeping on my laptop. I guess he was doing this because the laptop was warm. Anyway, he jumped up there and CRASH! My external hard drive with all of my photos fell to the floor. I got up and plugged it into the computer and immediately received the “fatal error” message. Oh no! I texted my computer genius friend and got the hard drive to him straight away. It was to no avail, however. My darling cat had destroyed it. I scrambled to my social websites and cloud storage sites to retrieve the lost photos, and of course, I cried quite a bit. Then, last weekend, as I was cleaning up my laptop of unneeded files, we discovered that my husband had backed up most of the information on the hard drive back in the fall onto his profile on the laptop. We found the treasured pictures from our trip to Missouri and many of the original files for most of my photos. The only thing that is missing now…2014 Christmas photos and trip to Gatlinburg and a trip to the Whistle Stop Cafe. Those had not gotten backed up anywhere yet. So, the loss was not nearly as devastating as I had imagined, and I am back up and running…and taking new photos.

Now I am mostly healed from injuries, organized, and back to work. Hopefully, I will not go so long without blogging in the future, so stay tuned! The weather is good, spring is here, and travels are in the planning. I’ve also got a few festivals I’ll be attending in the near future, so I plan to tell you all about them!