Saturday, December 31, 2011

Great Moments of 2011

Some of my favorite times this year.  (only the ones I had pictures for!)

 Spa Day!

Legos at the Library

 Almond Croissants and Eastern Market

 Snowshoeing and Oakwoods

 Crosswinds Marsh

 Fourth of July at Marty's...

 ...With my friends
 Celtic Fest

 Celtic Fest

 Street Fair

 Greenfield Village

 Winery Day

 Renaissance Fest

 Tough Knight at Ren Fest


There are also so many moments not pictured, and exist as memories.

My Top Ten Reads of 2011

This was a difficult decision, but these are the best books I read in 2011, in no particular order:

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Honorable Mentions:

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Farm City by Novella Carpenter

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Down and Out

October is my favorite month- I love autumn, the brisk weather, the colorful leaves on the trees, pumpkins, apples, the end of the ban on soup in my home, Halloween.  But this year I missed October.  I am thankful Billy and I took an early trip to the orchard, or else I would have never gone this month. 

At the beginning of the month, Billy and I went to Mackinaw for a weekend trip.  It was the first time we had been away together since we had visited California two years ago, and we had a blast! The weather was chilly in the morning, but soon warmed up.  Our favorite part of the trip was exploring the Mill Creek Park, hiking around, talking to ranger people- and zip lining. The only part of our trip that was not so cool? The restaurants were terrible!!! The only food we ate that was any good was the pizza at Mama Mia's- we should have just eaten there the entire time. And our breakfast from the bakery was fine too, but they were just bagel sandwiches. So the food was the only drag on our trip.

However, a week after we got back, I got sick. For a month! I had bronchitis, strep throat, fevers, wheezing, cold, flu- it seemed I had it all!  I am starting to feel better now, just have some muscle weakness and fatigue, but I am assuming that is the result of being sick for four whole weeks.  I just can't believe that this whole month, all I did was work when I could, read (I read 20 books!), sleep, and watch tv.  Thank goodness I felt well enough to have people over for book club! That would have really been the clincher for a crappy October. At least now I can start to get back to my normal self. Just slowly, apparently.

November is off to a better start so far- Billy and I went to the Union Woodshop to celebrate our 11th anniversary.  I had read about it, and knew that Billy had been wanting pulled pork like he had when he was a kid, and I was hoping that the Woodshop would deliver. His mom grew up in North Carolina, and that was the taste he has been craving. After an hour drive there, we were excited to eat - then we walked in and were told that it was a 90 minute wait! We walked up and down the two block street, hoping to kill time, and wandered into the Union General, a store owned by the restaurant.  Billy bought us each pumpkin pie macarons, and they were fabulous, and I am now on a mission for him to reproduce them in our kitchen. We finally got a seat, and were happy we waited.  I had the macaroni and cheese, which was amazing. But I was happiest that Billy was in love with his meal.  He said it was perfect, just like the stuff he had eaten as a child.  We also had fun tasting the array of bbq sauces on the table. You will have to check out his blog to read his review.  We are making plans to go back soon.  I have heard the sweet potato black bean burrito is amazing as well. 

So, I am hoping that November can be a healthier, happier month.  It is off to a good start!  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

October Book Club- The Lake of Dead Languages

Hostess: Erin

Book: The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
Food: Corn Chowder, cheese and crackers, grape leaves, hummus and pita, and hot chocolate cookies 
Wine of the Night: Kate and Cassie
Month: October

I was so excited for this book club- October is my favorite month, and Carol Goodman is one of my favorite authors.  I couldn't wait to see what my friends thought of this book.  It kind of starts out slow, but slowly builds with the mystery, intrigue and drama.

This book is history repeating itself for poor Jane, the main character.  As a kid, she made friends with Lucy and Matt, who sucked her into their world of myth, legend, and Latin.  Lucy and Jane begin Heart Lake Academy together, and continue with their Latin studies and have a near obsession with their teacher, Domina Chambers. Ancient rituals are re-enacted, truths are learned, and people die  seeming suicides by drowning.  Years later, Jane returns to Heart Lake, this time as the Latin teacher herself, and the old patterns begin again, people are dying, and pages from Jane's old diary surface as well. What really happened back then, what is the real story behind the story?  

I love this book, I love reading about old rituals and rights and pretentious boarding schools filled with intellectuals. I love all that mythology and folklore and legend.  I also realized that all the books I have chosen involved drowning - Remembering Blue, The Problem with Murmur Lee, The Lake of Dead Languages- strange! 

The characters in the book had Latin names.  When I took Latin in high school (four years!) we did not have Latin names, although that would have been cool.  Latin was one of my favorite classes in school - I took Latin and French in high school, and I did have a French name - Catherine. Anyway, I decided it would be cool to give the book club members Latin names.  So :  After discarding three names, one being Melona, the goddess of bees, for Chrissy, I decided on Persephone.  This is probably my favorite myth, and I thought it applied to Chrissy for two reasons- one, her names mean rebirth, and Persephone is a rebirth myth, and second, because when Persephone returns from the underworld, she brings with her spring, returning the world to life and warmth and new beginnings.  I know that Chrissy hates winter, and loves when winter recedes becoming the warm days of spring.  For Jennifer, who reminds me of an earth mother, I chose Vesta, the goddess of hearth and home.  For Jill, another summer lover and winter hater, I picked Aestas, the goddess of summer, and for Mary, I chose Carmenta, the goddess of childbirth and prophecy, as Mary is both pregnant and a little psychic! Kelly, lover of romance novels, I picked Aphrodite (and another name as well), and for Alyssa, my friend who is very careful and thoughtful of her words and actions, I chose Providentia, who is the goddess of forethought.  I had my husband choose my name, and he picked Luna, goddess of the moon.  It was actually harder than I thought - you can tell by looking at the types of gods and goddesses worshiped what was most important to ancient Romans- harvest, childbirth and death. 

I had a great time this book club, as always really.  I highly recommend this book to everyone, and most of her other books too. 

November book club is Jill's, and the book she has chosen is The Gargoyle.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Red Like Autumn Fires {52 Photos Project}

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.
~ Emily Bronte

Of every season, fall is my favorite.

52 Photos Project

Sunday, October 9, 2011

September Book Club- Breakfast at Tiffany's

Hostess: Mary
Book: Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
Food:giant four cheese party pizza, caramel apple pie, double chocolate cookies
Wine of the Night: Red Bicyclette
Month: September

Who knew this book was by Truman Capote! I sure didn't. The only other book I have read by Capote is In Cold Blood, which is certainly much different than Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Although, while not a murderer, Holly Golightly was not that nice of a person in my opinion! Jill and I have both only read the book, and neither of us cared for her at all.  I was shocked since the movie and the character seem so beloved.  Jennifer and Kelly have both seen the movie and read the book, and Jennifer reasoned that the reason Holly Golightly is probably so well liked is because she was played by the adorable and charming Audrey Hepburn. For me, this really did explain why such a terrible character could be so well liked.  In the book, she has no charm or finesse, she just seems like a selfish, self indulgent gold digger without a conscience.  Nope, I just didn't like her.  I will have to watch the movie one of these days to see how it compares.

I love my book club, and all the people in it.  This month was a little different - many of us had started new jobs or just gone back to work.  And one of us is pregnant, started a new job, and is remodeling her house to make room for the new baby.  So Kelly volunteered the use of her house the day before book club, and a plethora of wine, and Jill provided the food, to alleviate any stress on Mary, who was very grateful! 

Mary had requested we all bring a list of the weirdest names we have ever heard - and Jennifer was the clear winner for having heard the oddest names! My personal favorite is Marijuana. (as an odd name) I was the only nerd to have actually written them down.   

This was another fun night!

October book club is my choice, and I decided on The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman, one of my favorites!  I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why I started..

 People ask me sometimes what got me interested in photography, what inspired me to learn more about it and graduate to a better camera.  For me, the interest all began when I started volunteering at the animal shelter in my city.  I had attended an animal rescue group meeting, and the woman in charge of pound volunteers asked for someone to photograph the animals available and post them on petfinder to be adopted.  I thought this was a good place to start volunteering, a slow introduction.

I immediately loved it- and I quickly learned that the better the picture, the more likely it was their profile would be looked at, which in turn made it more likely the animal would be adopted, the ultimate goal. 

Unfortunately, this is not an easy task!!  Have you ever tried to photograph a cat that has been cooped in a cage for days?  They really do not want to hold still for a photo.  They would rather try and jump up on cages, run around checking things out, smell plants, etc. It is pretty tricky and challenging to photograph cats! Dogs are so easy in comparison.  They just stand there and let you take their pic.  For the most part.  Sometimes you get that dog who wants to leap straight up in the air, or constantly has their nose to the ground sniffing and smelling.  It usually takes me two hours a week to photograph the animals in the pound, and that is with an assistant to control the animal or make sure it doesn't run away.  If I don't have an assistant, the photos are not as good, since the animal has to stay in a cage.  Which means it is less likely to get looked at, and so on.  I usually leave with 300 some photos, that needed to be sorted through and edited- then uploaded online to two different adoption sites.  This all takes hours - but it is all worth it when an animal is adopted. :)  We recently had a cat come in as a stray, and the picture was online not even 24 hours before the owners saw her and came to get her.  They had been looking a whole month, and they said when they saw the photo, they knew it was her- that I had captured her personality.

I urge anyone who is interested in photography, whether they are pros or just beginners, to check with your local shelters and rescues, to see if they need any assistance with photos for Petfinder.  It is a great opportunity for you and for the animals!!  And if you need a photo challenge, just wait until you start taking pictures of shelter cats!

This is another good article about photography and animal rescue.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Along the Fence Line {52 Photos Project}

I have a thing for wrought iron- I love wrought iron fences, gates. It is delicate and beautiful, yet sturdy and strong.  

52 Photos Project

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

August Book Club - The Story of the Eye

 Hostess: Alyssa

Book: Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille
Food:Leek and Jalapeno Salmon, french bread with goat cheese and pear (and jalapenos on half), cake
Wine of the Night: Lula B.
Month: August

Never let it be said that we are a timid and tame book club- we are bold and unafraid.  Alyssa told us that this was a book that could never be unread, and she was right- once this book is in your head, it is there forever.

This book is pretty controversial, and I don't recommend it to everyone.  Read about it first before picking it up.  It did spark a lively book club discussion though!  Everything in the book is memorable, and there is never a dull moment.  To me, I feel the book is about hedonism and freedom, even when that freedom borders and crosses into deviance - sexual and social.  The author explains in the back of the book some of his motivations for the book; I would love to know more, and plan to research even more deeply into the reasoning behind it.

We had a special book club this month- we were officially congratulating Mary on her pregnancy! I know that I am hoping she has a girl and names her Erin- what a great name. ;)  Alyssa bought a special cake for Mary, that we all got to enjoy. I should have skipped the cake, after the million pieces of bread with goat cheese and pear that I ate.  I could eat that everyday, it was so good!

Next month (September) is Mary's pick, and we are reading Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. 

Most Perfect Fruit {52 Photos Project}

"Whisky and apples go together. Fix me a drink, darling. Then you can read me a story yourself." 
(from Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1958)

The photo prompt for this week was the color red.  For me, in autumn, red means two things- changing leaves and apples.  I personally love apples, I think they are the world's most perfect fruit.  Satisfyingly crunchy, healthy, filling, easy to eat with one hand while driving or reading.  Perfect.  Although I have never had apples and whisky. 

Part of the 52 Photos Project.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Joy Pockets

~ morning bike ride
~ bonfire with friends on a cool evening
~ early trip to the apple orchard
~ 7 adoptions in one night at the shelter!
~ surprise invitations to breakfast and dinner 
~ listening to the rain at night as I fall asleep
~ book club
~ goat cheese, pears and toasted bread
~ staying in pajamas late in the morning on the weekend

joy pockets

Joy Pockets is brought to us by Bohemian Twilight, to help us find the joyful moments in our lives.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some Peace and Quiet {52 Photos Prompt}

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;

~ William Wordsworth

This week's photo prompt was about where we go to find peace, quiet, solace in our lives.  My house is not that peaceful most of the time, too many intrusions that I can't figure out how to ignore or quell.  But I am working on it.  Sometimes I head to the library, and find a return to calm among the quiet stacks.  Most of the time, my husband and I take a walk in the woods. Our favorite is Oakwoods Metropark near our home; the staff there is so friendly, and we know the trails there by heart.  I find that just a short walk through these woods resets me, and I am ready to take on the world again.  I try to see in Nature what is ours, and not let the world be too much with us..

52 Photos Project

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Joy Pockets

joy pockets

                                           Joy Pockets is brought to us by Bohemian Twilight
to help us remember the joyful moments of our week.

~ Spending a little unexpected time with this red headed whirling dervish

~  making dinner with my husband

~ a day out with my mom, just the two of us

~ two long timers at the shelter getting adopted

~ going back to work and catching up with my work friends

~ morning coffee made with fresh ground beans

~ using butternut squash right from our garden

~ finding vacation photos I thought were gone

~ completing some projects that have long been on my list

~ a cat on my lap while I type

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Black Eyed Susan {52 Photos Prompt}

One of the few times I like yellow - in flowers.

52 Photos Project

Monday, August 29, 2011

What's Cooking?

So yesterday while I was planning out our meals for the week, I realized I am played out on everything I have been eating.  Feeling uninspired, I inquired on Facebook about what good things everyone else has been eating lately.  And I got some awesome new ideas!

My friend Jennifer makes homemade personal pizzas on wheat crust with farm fresh veggies; my other friend Jennifer makes potato and pea enchiladas! How amazing do both of those sound! I also heard suggestions of pierogis, Sweet Kapusta sauerkraut, which I have never eaten, split pea soup with garlic, smoked salmon and cucumbers, quorn potpie, pasta, which I will substitute with spaghetti squash - now I have a few more yummy ideas for dinner in the next week or two!

Just in case anyone is interested, I chose a suggestion a friend made earlier to me, Carrot-Ginger soup from Eat, Live, Run; spaghetti squash with pasta sauce, and smoked salmon and veggies for this week.  Next week I am going with the personal pizzas and potato and pea enchiladas so far.

How about you, what have you been eating good these days?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Michigan Living

Billy and I have had some extra time to spend together these past four days, and it has been wonderful.  This summer has been so busy, that we neglected to have time just together.

Thursday we went to the Detroit Zoo Summer Zoomance, which is a special adults only event in the evening.  They have adult beverages for sale as well.  It was our second time attending, and both times were so much fun!  I learned that seals have many vision problems, like cataracts, and can go blind early on.  We met up with our friends Leah and Dan, shared many laughs and had a fabulous dinner out.

Saturday we visited a local winery, Sandhill Crane.  We love to go there and just sit on the wide, low slung porch tasting all 35 of their wines, and just relaxing and hanging out.  You can sample every wine on their list for $5, but if you buy a bottle, that is waived.  We of course bought three bottles. It is a just a slow day, a good time.  Later in the evening we stopped by a friends house, where we talked and talked and laughed.

This morning we spur of the moment jumped on our bikes first thing, and biked to our downtown area and just sat outside enjoying the beautiful morning and a cup of coffee.  It was like being a tourist in our own town, and I think we are going to make this a tradition.  It was a nice calming way to begin the day - the sky was blue, the breeze was comfortable, the sounds of the morning were church bells, and then later, we could hear the choirs singing - where we were sitting was kind of a church triangle, we were surrounded by churches on three sides.

The bike ride took me back to when my mom used to ride around with me on the back- we would ride everywhere like that.  My mom was a daredevil , and occasionally would yell back at me over her shoulder  to hold on, as she would go flying down a giant hill at top speed.  It was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time!

I had a great few days- and all right here within 90 miles of my home, or closer! Sometimes you just need to look around.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Joy Pockets

Finding joy in the small moments

~ Detroit Zoo Summer Zoomance
~ time with husband
~ gazpacho and panzanella
~ walks with Penny
~ yoga
~ winery
~ buying a stack of books at 50% off
~helped a few of our shelter cats and dogs, including my favorite Bailey, find homes!

Bailey has been adopted!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Man at the Water {52 Photos Project}

I took this photo at my friends wedding in Northern Michigan- this is one of my friends watching the sunset.

Linked as part of the 52 Photos Project.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Joy Moments

 Finding joy in the small moments

~ old houses and garden gnomes
~ corn chowder
~ Trader Joe's
~ art shows
~ dining out with family and friends
~ jazz music in the heat
~ cute new shoes
~ two movies in one week
~ iced latte
~ friends who help work on old trucks