Friday, February 22, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Photos ~ Week 8 ~ Monochromatic

 Monochromatic  ~  consisting of one color

Sally's prompt for us this week
Monochromatic photos tell a story, evoke emotion and uncovers the soul with the simple contrast of one color. Monochromatic photos enable the viewer to see a deeper meaning behind what may be concealed by multiple colors.
This week look deeper through the lens to the story your photo captures and then process it to one color! Or be daring and shoot in B&W (monochrome).

 Faded photos.
Edges bent and even torn.
 Lying in a pile of memories
 tucked away in some long forgotten musty cardboard box.

Old friends.
Family gatherings.
 Momentous occasions.
Snippets of a life captured on film
 to be revisited time and again over the years.

 Heartwarming thoughts of times together.
  People and places once visited.
Stories told.
Dreams and secrets shared.
And food.
Hugs and laughter exchanged.

 Old times that take on a dreamlike quality
Living in our memory and our hearts
Forever revived with a simple photograph.

original photo before processing for monochromatic

This past week I had the opportunity to visit with my dear friend Carol and her hubby as they were in the process of cleaning out their other home to be sold.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch together followed by conversation and laughter back at her home by the fireplace all nice and toasty.
Before leaving, I spotted this amazing old school desk that Carol had used to create on and would not be making the trip to their townhouse.
The next day Carol contacted me to come and get the desk, knowing it was going to a good home where it would be loved and appreciated.
I wonder how many papers were corrected on this desk,
lessons planned, books and reports piled,
 how many gifts to teacher placed there in the morning,
a shiny apple perhaps, a flower from someones garden?
Then all the artwork and jewelry that Carol created sitting at this same desk.
Letters written, books and papers piled.
Now handed down to me to carry on the tradition.
Thank you sweet friend.
Be sure to visit The Studio Sublime for more monochromatic memories.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Photos - Week 7 ~ The Beauty of Flowers

 The Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sally's prompt for us this week was~
"A single flower with it's beauty has the ability to lift our spirits and bring a sense of happiness to our souls. The sheer sight of flowers can evoke feelings of excitement, positivity and enhance our well being.
This week take a moment to bring a little happiness to your soul and enhance your well being.
Take a moment to enjoy the beauty of flowers."

 I took these shots right before we left Florida to come home. They are of the purple passion flower vine that we planted along the fence behind our house about 10 months ago.
The vine has spanned the width of our property in that time  and you can tell by the tightness of the tendrils, it is a serious climber!
The blooms remind me of some underwater sea creature, as if it could just swim right away into that deep blue sky there.

I want you to know that these are not post processed in any way other than applying a frame to them and this first one is slightly cropped. The colors are that vivid.

 The outermost petals remind me a little of an upside down water lily.

Seeing as how we are having a very cold rain right now which is supposed to turn to sleet and snow as the day and night wear on, the sight of these flowers and that beautiful blue sky really do brighten my day today!

Go enjoy a walk through the virtual garden at The Studio Sublime and see what everyone has picked this week!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Photos - Week 6 ~ Feel The Love

Well, believe it or not it is already week 6 of Sally Russick's challenge to Focus on Life 52 weeks in photos and for this week Sally told us-

"Since love is in the air in February,
this week keep your heart open, breath in the air and feel the love, then capture it in a photo.
Feel the love that the universe is trying to show us everyday!"

 Ray and I left our place in Florida Tuesday morning and traveled straight through to get to these hugs and smiles impatiently awaiting us! Our daughter invited us to stop over to their house for dinner on our way home knowing we would be exhausted from the 13 1/2 hour trip , and she was right.
But as soon as we arrived at the door, we could hear our names being called " NANNY, POP-POP" and we were greeted with the best running and jumping hugs and kisses to revive us!
Thankfully, I had my little point and shoot in my purse and grabbed these shots.

This is just the best! It made leaving the 80* temps and sunshine to come home to the 30*'s and dreary gray a lot more bearable!

When we got to our house, as soon as we opened the porch door we were greeted again with lots of love!

Our cat Lunabelle is 11 1/2 yrs old so she stayed home in the care of our son while we were away and she has barely left our side since getting home.
In this shot she was sitting on the arm of my husband's chair but she wouldn't let my hand leave her, as I rubbed her neck she leaned further and further following my hand.

I got to feel the love a lot this week, in the pictures above but also in the goodbye hugs from my loving parents when we left Florida and then with our son and family and friends as we celebrated his 24th birthday with margaritas, mexican food and lots of chatter and laughter at a local restaurant and then back at his new place. 

I would like to end this post with a wish for the safety and well being of all of those in the path of this winter storm Nemo. We were fortunate to just receive several inches of rain and lots of wind and cold temps but I know those to the north of us have received much worse.
I hope you are all warm and safe and feeling the love!

Head on over and maybe even decide to join in the challenge, the year is young, at The Studio Sublime and feel the love!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Photos - Week 5 ~ Capture A Heart

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for all of their heartfelt comments over the first 4 weeks of these prompts. I am diligently working my way through all of the posts that I have missed and commenting on each one as I think that is one of the best parts of being in a hop like this, getting to  know everyone on a deeper level, taking the time to really connect ( remember my word for the year?) I find there is so much more to be gained by doing so than simply fullfilling my prompt for the week.
I have also begun to respond to comments left here on this blog in the comment section as there are quite a few that come through as noreply comment @ blogger so you can read my responses right here instead of individual emails.

Now on to week 5, can it really be 5 weeks already???

 Sally's prompt for week 5 in her own words-

"Have you ever taken a moment to notice all the hearts that come into your life everyday? From candy hearts, patterns on clothes, a paper heart you make yourself or heart shaped spirals made from the ornate rod iron fencing that you may or may not have ever noticed on your walk around the neighborhood, hearts are hidding everywhere. This week pay attention to your surroundings, think outside the box and capture a heart! "

It is strawberry season in Florida where we are still visiting and something I love to do is make strawberry jam when they are at their peak of freshness.
Part of my word for the year to reconnect is to reconnect with ALL  things I love and canning is one of them and something I had gotten away from save for a few batches of jam here or there each year.

As I was hulling the strawberries for a batch this week, I pulled back the green leaves and was getting ready to cut when the sight of this heart stopped me in my tracks!
 So this is my found heart for this week.

You can click here to go see how everyone else captured a heart this week!

A lot of people who have never made homemade jam shy away thinking it is a lot of work but it is really very simple and very gratifying.
I personally use Sure Jell and Certo in my recipes and before the holidays discovered that if you go to
and type sure jell or certo in the search box, no less than 179 recipes pop up.
Chocolate Raspberry Spread,   Wine Jelly,   Strawberry Pineapple,    Pineapple Jam, & Cherry Almond  all of which have gotten rave reviews.

 It doesn't take a lot of fancy equipment and supplies to make jam.
Start with firm fresh fruit when possible. For strawberries, wash and hull and drain in a colander. 
I use a blender but depending how fine you like the fruit in your jam, you can even just crush the fruit by hand. I like mine smooth with tiny bits of fruit, not large pieces.
Measure fruit and sugar, for this recipe it takes 5 cups of pureed fruit and 7 cups of sugar. I also made the lower sugar version which takes 6 cups of fruit and 4 cups of sugar.

 Dump the fruit in the stock pot, add a tablespoon of butter to reduce foaming, dump one box of sure jell in, stir and put on medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to boil which only takes a couple of minutes.
 When it hits a boil, dump all the sugar in and stir rapidly to prevent scorching and continue to stir until it reaches a full rolling boil again. Stir for one full minute and then remove from heat.
Now what I haven't shown you here is that I have washed my jelly jars and placed them in a pan in the oven on 200* to stay hot until i am ready to fill them.  I also have a small pot of water on the stove  which when it came to a boil I turned the burner off and put the jar lids and bands in to sit until ready to use. I also have my pressure canner pot ( just because it is the largest one I have here, but you can even use another stock pot) filled with water on a simmer until ready on the back burner.
And since it is a rather quick process at this point, i don't have a photo of the funnel and filling the jars, but you just take your jars out of the oven and using the funnel, one by one fill the jars with the hot jam to within an 1/8" of the top, place a flat lid and a band on each jar, hand tighten and place in the water bath in your large pot.  Make sure the water is covering the tops of the jars by an inch or 2.
 Bring water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, ( no lid) then remove jars and let cool on the counter.
As they cool you will hear the satisfying "POP" of the lids as they vacuum seal down.
The process is pretty much the same for each jam recipe, any variances will be in the ingredients.
It may seem complicated but the whole process only takes about a 1/2 hour start to finish ( once the fruit is hulled) I actually prefer to make several batches, even different ones once I have everything out and going. While the batch is in the water bath I clean up and gather the ingredients for the next batch and start over.
It is a great activity to do with kids as it goes quickly and they have something very tangible to enjoy at the end and feel a great sense of accomplishment.
 Shown L-R, strawberry pineapple,  regular strawberry and low sugar strawberry. You can tell the low sugar version is much more fruit dense and less sugar.
 This however is the full sugar version :) on a piece of sourdough toast
But the sweetest thing of all was being able to spend the time with my Mom in the kitchen, working together we made 6 batches in 4 hours.
Love you Mom.

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