Monday, December 28, 2009


Hoping everyone out in Blog-Land had a very Merry Christmas! As I have for the last couple years I went to Lake City/Branford to visit my Aunt and her family. But only after enjoying some webcam family time on Christmas Eve. For the last several years, now that we are all adults, we've drawn names. We play games, have trivia questions, and just have a good time chatting. When my niece was younger they used to drive to Maine for Christmas Day, so we always celebrated at our house on Christmas Eve. When they stopped going "up Nawth" we've kept up our end of the tradition. Gives you that extra day to relax, or spend time visiting.
It's certainly a little more challenging over the webcam, but we manage ok. So, without further ado here are some of my favorite holiday shots, in collage format to save space.

Above are several treats that I made to hand out to co-workers, and at the top is me, enjoying my morning coffee on Christmas Day.
To the right are a couple pictures of my Aunt's Norman Rockwell Stockbridge Village Set. Only part of the set is out, as she has limited space for it. I was able to capture this shot of a pretty male cardinal in her backyard too! The female stayed pretty well hidden, but I did see her. At top right is probably my favorite shot of all of them. My "happy accident" photo. :) At bottom left is my breakfast and my uncle's father.

It's been overcast and cold for the last several days. In this last group of photos we went for a drive the day after Christmas to several local springs, the water was very high in spots, so got some neat pics. Over by the Suwannee River we saw a tree full of turkey vultures, but the closer I got they all flew away. Still cool.

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year..

I put my Christmas Tree up last weekend, and it doesn't look too bad. I really need to remember to send some of my own ornaments to myself when I go back home. I like to keep it simple but so far I have only a few round (plastic) balls and some plastic twisty icicles. No glass here. At least not on the tree. One string of white lights, and a huge red bow for a topper.  I wish I could have a real tree, but I figure Mr Scout would be far too willing to try to climb it. He already tries to eat the needles off this one when he's feeling feisty. If I want to smell a pine tree, I just burn a nice Yankee Candle, and it's good enough for me!!

I've been playing the Christmas music, and trying to just enjoy the quiet time when I'm NOT at work. I joined a friend and her church to sing carols at a local nursing home, and it was a blast. Some of them never get any visitors, and especially at this time of the year that's so sad. We handed out candy canes and wished them all a Merry Christmas. Many of the residents sang along, when they could, and were very appreciative of us visiting.

Here are a couple photos of the tree. Ignore the junk behind it, I had to tear a few containers apart to find all my stuff. Today I've been wrapping presents and will be sending those off this week. It's a great day to be inside: it's pouring out, and just a very blah day. Once I'm done wrapping, I want to get some scrapping done. been too long, and since I cleaned off the table it's ready to be made messy again!

Hoping everyone has time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family!

Monday, December 07, 2009

2009 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concert

The TSO concert was just awesome. Every year it just grows and grows, in popularity, and how far they go with the pyro, lights, lazers, and most of all, the talent involved. Last year I only had my camera phone, and I still can't get them from the camera to the computer. I can still look at them, though. The band is very lenient with cameras, but I only brought my point & shoot and the little Bean as a back-up. If you go to YouTube, you will find plenty of video footage as well. This year was my 8th time seeing them in 9 years, starting way back in 2001. I curse the year 2006, when our company moved us from TX to FL over the  long Thanksgiving weekend. That is a travesty in its own right. Back then they always played FL in very early November and they had already passed through when I got here.
This year out came the camera, and while a friend & I enjoyed the sights and sounds, I happily clicked away. No flash, and not many close-ups, except for a few lucky captures. Really, you need the wide angle to see the whole spectacle. Maybe one day I'll sit up close, but mostly I'm enjoying watching the story unfold, with the added bonus of not having to crane my neck to see the stage. First group of pics: the stunning Anna Phoebe on electric (pink!) violin. And 2 regular shots of the stage, featuring lots of fire and lights.
For goodies I picked up a T-shirt, a beanie cap and of course the tour program for signing. Towards the end of the show Chris Caffery and Anna climb up onto a platform, get properly harnessed in and go for a little ride. This was the first year it was suspended from the ceiling instead of being raised from underneath. This was the only *good* close shot I got. Alex Skolnick on guitar. I love this  shot!!
This is another pic I got of Alex from in the signing line with the little Argus Bean camera. After we got our stuff signed we made our way down to the downtown area with the Landing Mall and find something open so we could get some supper...Chicago Pizza was the only decent place open, so we pigged out, and headed home to get some rest for our day of shopping on Friday. We went to the St John's Town Center, had lunch and margaritas at the Cheesecake Factory, hit up some of the big stores, got a few presents for me and others. Then it started to rain, so back home we went...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The last week or so....

...Give or take a couple of days. Thanksgiving with the family was postponed slightly, so that my aunt could get over a nasty cold. So, on Thanksgiving I went for a ride up to Folkston, GA to check out the Folkston Funnel and get a few more pics of the area. I also managed to get lost in the Okeefenokee Swamp. Yeah, THAT was fun. Every. single. road. led to a locked gate. I turned the car around umpteen times, and went down some pretty narrow and overgrown roads. Finally, I found my way back to the road I came in by, and it was a private drive! The GPS told me that was the way in, too. Hmmmm.  On my way out I apologized, and she was very nice about it. Next time I go there, I will be sure to find a legal entrance! Talk about an adventure, and I didn't even get to see any 'gators. I did see a lot of turkey vultures circling over me, waiting... :)

On Friday I did a little "black friday" shopping. Some for me, some for others. Once the crowds got to be too much for me, I was done. Back home to relax, and pack a bag for the trip out to my aunt & uncle's. They live in the Lake City area, so I left about 7:30am saturday morning. I always stop at Starbucks on the way out, and since that particular morning was only in the upper 30's I got a yummy peppermint mocha. In between helping with table setting and making coffee I hung out in the backyard taking pics, and chatted with my aunt on the deck.
Soon, my cousin & her family arrived as well as my uncle's father, and we all settled in to eat. Had all the usual foods, and lots of dessert as well. It was delicious! On Sunday we had turkey sandwiches and soup. After lunch a bunch of us went for a short walk.
They also surprised me with an early birthday cake and gift! Sweet!! :)  Finally I knew it was time to head home, since I had get up for work on Monday morning...
Next up will be pics from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert I went to this past Thursday night... :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This week..

It has been crazy at work this week. So many different projects and things all going on at the same time. I'm so glad next week is a short work week. The whole crew will be in tomorrow, too, so I have to be in for 6am. meh.

Tonight I stopped by Panera Bread to grab supper since I heard one of their new soups is Mac & Cheese. Sure, It's not like mom makes, but hey, comfort food is comfort food. Especially when someone else makes it!

 And in keeping with that comfort theme, I stopped by Starbucks to get a yummy peppermint mocha. It was all delicious. All that was missing was my friend and some cushy chairs. :)

On Saturday I was able to hit the Arts market, and since the weather was so nice, I walked down to the Landing. There were local artists/students/kids doing chalk drawings along the mall. The Andrew Jackson Portrait was awesome, as were the others. In the bottom right you'll see a statue of Mr. Jackson, "for whom Jacksonville is named".

There was a man at the market who makes, sells and plays the didgeridoo. He makes them out of PVC.
A few weeks ago I came across this cutest camera. It's perfect for sneaking into concerts. It has a carabiner clip, and a decent enough resolution.
And well, it's orange. It's pretty much a known fact that if it's orange, I will probably buy it. I've tried it out a little bit in stores, and it works well enough, as long as it's held very still. I don't plan to make it my primary camera, but it's nice and easy to keep with me.

I'll leave you with tonight's sunset after I left work
and a quote:
“Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal.”
~Elbert Hubbard

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Jacksonville Sea & Sky Spectacular

This weekend was the Annual Sea & Sky Spectacular Air show at Jacksonville Beach. Every other year they alternate between the beach and NAS (naval air station) JAX. I've never been to the one at NAS, but this was my second time going to the one at the beach. In lieu of paying between $10-30 for parking, I chose to walk about a half mile or so, and use the free side of the road parking up the road a ways. I could have easily watched it from the beach near where I parked, but I wanted to get some food and enjoy some of the audio play-by-play. I probably should have taken notes on who some of the pilots were, or what planes I was watching, but the only ones I know by sight are those pesky Blue Angels. Oh, how loud they were! On the right are several shots of the different planes I saw. It was pretty windy, so there were no "wingwalkers" that I saw.

To the left are the best shots I got of the Blue Angels. There were several fly-bys that near gave me a heart attack. I'm surprised I don't have a sore neck from looking straight up much of the time as well. LOL

At right is the Johnsonville Brats 65 ft grill, and my Brat too. Yeah, the whole back of the semi truck was a grill!! very cool!

All in all it was a great day I'll see it again in 2 more years. :)
As always click on the photos for a closer look!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Long gone are the days when kids could run thru the streets, going house to house, taking candy from friends, family and strangers alike. There was always the one house with the lights out, but a large bowl right outside the door. Perhaps an older person not wanting to get up from the comfy chair every time the doorbell rang. One house gave out apples. These were promptly tossed into the woods on the way to the next house. We came up with our own costumes for the most part, with a little help from the adults, that I can remember. No store bought costumes for us! I can't even begin to guess the years of these photos, but judging by the furniture, it was long enough ago.

In the photo above I am Dracula, and my older sister was the Statue Of Liberty. The other 2 were our best friends growing up.

In the photo at left, I am Sherlock Holmes, I think. My sister is the Old lady on the floor. The other 2 kids in this photo were family friends that I only vaguely remember. That was the good thing about trick or treating in New England, just pile on more clothes under the costume and you'll be plenty warm! The more flannel the better.. The photo below is several years ago at work. I clearly remember the looks I got from other drivers as I was driving in and back home as well.

We moved to a small town when I got a little older, and out there they would close off the center of town to traffic and kids again were free to run in the street. The residents would donate bags of candy to the houses that did the distributing. In the Town Hall they had cider, cocoa and cookies to enjoy while warming up and resting. Obviously by then I was too old to go door to door, but my niece wasn't, and I would join them to hang out, and to see the kids costumes. My mom will probably demand that this get removed, but oh well! :) Again, no idea on the year. Late 80's, perhaps?

Happy Halloween!!
Now watching: Nightmare Before Christmas. best Halloween movie ever!

Friday, October 30, 2009

messing about..

Today was such a long day at work. We got in some long awaited product that needed to be packaged and stocked. We had extra help from another department, plus my normal crew. A few of us stayed til almost 8pm tonight, and I need to go back and finish it tomorrow morning. Glad to get it all done finally. I got them McDonald's for dinner for staying so late, too. Gotta love the dollar menu! :)

A couple of weeks ago I picked up an old Kodak Duaflex IV camera on Ebay to use for "Through the Viewfinder" Photography (AKA TtV). If you're not familiar with TtV, basically it's taking a photo through the viewfinder of an old camera, with another camera. Usually digital, but I'm sure any other camera would work. I've always loved the idea of a small display of old cameras anyway, so I'm gonna build towards that as well. There's a whole Flickr group devoted to this type of photography here, and if you're a photoshop user (which I'm not) there are also "actions" you can use to get the same effect. Not nearly as fun, though. I took a few photos looking out from the balcony and of the cat when I first got it,  which came out really badly. Last Sunday I took it to the beach.

Speaking of Sunday, it was Jeanne & my 7th "Scrap Your Day", adapted from Shimelle's project of the same name. The theme this month was reflections. Once we can get together and do our layouts, we'll have a post to share on that, as well. so my teaser shot is this one.
Oh, Scout asked if I could post his picture anyway.

As always click on the photos to see them in more detail.
Looking forward to a quiet scrappy weekend at home. After last weekends adventures, I think I shall stay right here. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scrap Your Day #6

September 25th was Jeanne & my 6th month of Shimelle's Scrap Your Day, and we even got to hang out for a bit! We had dinner at the Bluebonnet Diner with the ladies from the bookstore we all worked at before it closed in 2005. I'm so glad we all kept in touch! I talked about the fabulous Scrod dinner I enjoyed in this post. After dinner Jeanne & I headed over to Barnes & Noble to sit & relax while reading a big stack of mags, and enjoying an after dinner coffee.

For the early part of the day I went to Easthampton, MA to see the bears of bearfest 2009. The display was only up for another couple of weeks, and I didn't quite see all of them, but I definitely enjoyed the ones I did see.
I tried to share as many Bears on the layout as I could!

As always click on the photos to see them larger.
More photos to be shared soon!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

today's photos..

It was a chilly start to the day, but once the sun came out it was very nice. I headed to St Augustine for the morning, and had a lot of photo oportunities. I heard at least 3 or 4 foreign languages as well: Italian, Spanish and French..and those were just the ones I recognized!

As the sun was coming up over the very heavy cloud on the horizon, the fog/mist started to lift on the river. This ship just screamed Pirates to me, dunno why. Maybe it was the way the sails hung, or the fog, or both! :)

I had lunch in this small Spanish Bakery: an Empanada, a roll, a cookie, and a can of lemonade for $5.50! It was delicious, too. After I was done there I picked up a birthday present for a dear friend. *hehe*
While walking down the street I heard some accordian music, and got a quick photo of the one man band! We tried to get someone to take our pic for me, but the gentleman we asked refused, so I just took it myself.

On the way home I stopped at the beach quick, and it was very windy and cold. I almost got killed by a kite crashing down near me. And for some ungodly reason, there was a surfing contest going on! BRRRR!
I thought about walking on the pier, but not with the way that wind was blowing. My ears were near frozen.

Back home I went to do some laundry and feed the Master and myself some dinner.

Friday, October 16, 2009

(Last) Sunday Drive

Saint Mary's to be exact. I wasn't planning on going anywhere last Sunday, but the roads beckoned. And I always listen. Since I usually go either West to the Lake City area  to see family, or South to St Augustine, this time I went North. I'm always on the hunt for a good nature preserve or state park. I love walking along raised wooden walkways, or sandy paths to see what kind of wildlife there is out there. I never fail to see at least a hundred lizards, or egrets wading. I was on my way to check out the Crooked River State Park when I passed the Tabby Sugar Ruins. I stopped there to wander about the old grounds and take lots of photos. There were a few people that arrived just before me, and they left after only a few minutes. I never did make it to the State park, but I'm sure I will soon enough. I think the Submarine Museum would be a neat place to see as well.

This weekend I want to try and go see "where the wild things are". Even though I don't ever remember reading it or having it read to me, it looks like a fun, cute, sad movie. Saw this display in the window at Barnes & Noble last night.

The weekend plans are still a mystery....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Something Like Normalcy..

Hooray! I actually managed to visit the Riverside Arts Market yesterday. Parking was a challenge due to Toyota and their awesome Farm to Table promotion. They paired local farms with local restaurants and in addition to offering (delicious) foodie samples, and promoting the Hybrid models in their automotive line, you could also take a test drive. They handed out passports at the entrance to the market and as you got samples, they stamped it. Once you got at least 3 stamps (I had 7) you could get a free herb. I waited until I was ready to leave so I didn't have to carry it, and chose a nice basil.

Due to the heavy traffic and hard time I had parking, I stopped at one of the little parks nearby to see what was hanging out in the "pond", and kill some time. I saw a roseate spoonbill, among other water fowl types. There was also a "Pet Blessing" going on, seen in the photo in the lower left. Lots of furry pets about.

Out in the St John's River the fish were really jumping. Several boats stopped to watch, and there was a few people at the rails watching as well, probably wishing they were out fishing. :)

After all those healthy samples, I had what I'd been craving for a couple weeks, a beignet and an iced coffee. Yum!
At left is my dessert, the plant wagon and the stamped passport. The dish is pickled beets with goat cheese. And like all the other samples before it, it was delicious.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Vacation, Days 10 & 11

Well, Saturday the 26th was my last full day of vacation. I started the day with my mom at Bruegger's Bagels in Downtown Northampton. After I enjoyed my asiago cheese bagel with veggie cream cheese and a large hot coffee, we headed to the farmers market across the road. It was a chilly but sunny morning. Lots of mums, winter root veggies, pumpkins, gourds and even a few indoor plants for sale. This frog is around the corner from the market.

After the farmer's market we went to the Holyoke mall. I picked up a few fall shirts at JC Penney. We had lunch at 99's (she loves that place!!), I'll eat wherever. I had a yummy shrimp and pasta dish. On the way home we stopped at a small farm stand/gift shop. The llama wasn't too happy, but I took his picture anyway. The Tasty Top was along the ride home from the mall. It has been there for as long as I can remember.

Sunday, I finished my packing, and packed a small box to be mailed back home to FL. There is still stuff in the attic there to go thru, and I always think I'll get more done, but only manage to spread it all out, look thru it, then box it back up. I did separate the tag sale items from keep items in the spare room, so when they have a tag sale, they won't have to worry about selling anything that might have been something I wanted: *cough*huge stack of Duran Duran memorabilia*cough*
Thankfully, the majority of the rain had finally left the Atlanta area for the flight home. What a drenching they had. We did circle atlanta for a bit, for one reason or another and when I looked out my window I saw this sight.
Anyhoo, That ends the vacation blogging for now. I will eventually share more Boston photos, as well as any scrappy pages made.

So for now I think I'll relax in this comfy Adirondack chair, and hope the llama can't spit this far!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Vacation, Days 8 & 9

On to Thursday & Friday of my vacation week. Work has been busy this week, and I haven't done anything more than coming home and just crashing. Hopefully next week I will be more used to getting up early. I definitely plan on going to the Riverside Arts Market on Saturday. The St John's Town Center was calling my name tonight, but I worked a way longer day than I usually do on Friday, so maybe I'll just go tomorrow after the market. Save a little gas that way, too!

Anyhoo.. On (vacation) Thursday, the 24th I didn't do much more than rest and veg around the house. I played with the dogs some in the backyard, and fooled around on the computer, burning cd's of the pics from Boston to give Jeanne on Friday. We share our vacation shots for scrapping, and so that we have pics of ourselves out and about. I took all of 10 pics on Thursday. I went out to lunch with my mom, we went to Webster's Fish Hook, and I had a scrod sandwich with tomato and melty cheese on it. It was very good! On my way downtown, I grabbed a couple quick photos of the bits of foliage that I was able to catch. There are a few areas around my parent's house that change much earlier than usual.

Friday, the 25th was our "Scrap Your Day" day. She reminded me when we met at The Bluebonnet Restaurant to have supper with a few of our former co-workers from a local bookstore we all worked at several years ago, before it closed. I'm so glad we've all kept in touch! Dinner was delicious, Jeanne & I both chose stuffed scrod, with a yummy butternut squash and roasted red potatoes. I believe I ate more seafood on this vacation than I normally eat in a year! Photos from SYD will appear in a later post when we have a chance to collaborate our efforts. But I think I can post this little tease. I can't wait to show the rest!! I'm glad I took these photos, or I would have have a very sad scrap your day!!