Friday, January 29, 2010

Lilies and a Metaphor

Brett gave me a beautiful bouquet for our anniversary yesterday.

It is full of beautiful lilies and gerbera daisies with plenty of buds that have yet to open, so I will be able to enjoy it for a while. 

As I looked at the bouquet, I realized that it is a lot like our marriage.  Beautiful in the moment...

With lots of great things to come in the future...

Thanks for four amazing years Brett!  I can't wait for the many more to come! ♥

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Scenes from the Desert

When I drove out of our little gated community on Monday, I saw this:

It seems that our pounding of rain left us with some snow on the mountains.  I knew there were more pictures to be had, so I drove a couple short miles up the road to the Tonto National Forest to see if I could get a better view from there.

I was able to get a great up-close shot of Red Mountain, which I also see when I pull out of our drive, and some pretty foliage.


I really like the vintage look of this one...

...and the "old west" look of this shot here:

But, it still wasn't what I was looking for.  I wanted to see those beautiful snowy mountains, so I drove on up the road a bit.

It was at this point in my journey that I began to think that The Eagles were sounding an awful lot like Hootie and the Blowfish.  About 60 seconds later I realized that my Eagles CD had changed to my Hootie and the Blowfish CD and suddenly my world made sense again.  In the midst of this, I found the shot I was looking for:

There's something really beautiful about the contrast between the desert and the snow-capped mountains.

Up close, things are even prettier: 

And for my wonderful Grandmother, who says that I do not blog enough pictures of myself, this one is for you:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

We're Gonna Need an Ark

Did I ever mention that Brett & I are living in a lakefront community?


Well that's because we aren't... but this scene says differently:

The park down the street is totally underwater.  The freeways are all underwater.  I think Brett might have to swim to work tomorrow. 

I hear things are not much better in So Cal. 

We have nothing but more strong storms headed our way.  I checked the hourly weather forecast and the strong storms just keep going...

and going...

and going...

and going...

I stocked up on all of the necessary supplies (food, water, crafting stuff, etc.) so that I can just hunker down and stay home and not go anywhere until the world outside stops blowing away. 

It sounds like a good plan to me. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Blog!

This officially marks my blog's 200th post!

Thanks to all of you for reading it!

~Amy  :) 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tell me all your secrets and I'll tell you most of mine...

I get asked all the time what kind of camera/equipment I take my pictures with.  This is happening more and more as more people are taking the plunge and diving into the digital SLR world.  To answer the question, I have one of these:

It's a Nikon D-80 with the 18-135mm lens.  Barring a few exceptions, it is the camera that takes all of the pictures on my blog.  One obvious exception being the above picture of a D-80 because, well, that would be complicated.  The camera is awesome, and the 18-135mm lens does pretty much everything I could want a lens to do.

I love it as if it were my own child. 

I also recently got one of these:

Just for those times that my 18-135mm lens doesn't do absolutely everything I want it to do.

Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly adventurous, I will use these to enhance my portrait photography:

Ah, the magic of reflector discs.  They can really make a difference.  I love the way they eliminate harsh shadows and cast such wonderful light.

This picture would have been a mess without them.  Just be sure to bring a crew to hold them up if it is an especially windy day.

My Nikon Speedlight is a source of frustration for me.  I can work it 80% of the time, but that extra 20% makes me nervous, especially when you are taking pictures at an important event. 

My on camera flash actually does most of what I want it to do, with the exception of low-light situations, which is why I really need to figure out how to work my Speedlite.  It's one of my shortcomings and I'm working on it.

I really like my Lowepro camera bag, but if I had it to do over again, I would definitely go with the two-strap version.

Wearing a heavy camera + all of the aforementioned equipment on one shoulder gets a little taxing about an hour into your adventure.  Especially when you don't even get to pick which shoulder.  Just something to consider.

I am at this point a totally dedicated Nikon lover.  I confess that I almost bought a Canon Digital Rebel XTi, and then at the very last minute changed my mind.  I'm so glad I did.  I would encourage you to think about not just what camera you like, but also what camera manufacturer you like.  As you make a significant investment in your equipment, you are not going to want to switch brands and suddenly have none of your gear work with your new camera.  Again, just something to think about. 

I do not pretend in any way to be any sort of expert on cameras or equipment or photography.  However, this guy is:  Ken Rockwell.  I would recommend forgetting everything I say and just doing whatever he says.  And if you do what I say, you can't say I didn't warn you. 

My Social Disconnect

The powers-that-be over at Facebook temporarily suspended my account for 24 hours.  Let me tell you, it was a long 24 hours.

Long story short, some spammers got a hold of my account (somehow) and Facebook had to deactivate it for security reasons.

Commence mild panic attack.

I didn't realize how addicted I actually am to this thing until it was taken away from me.  Facebook allows me to stay connected with pretty much every person I know on a daily basis.  I don't even have phone numbers or e-mail for a lot of these people.  Who needs 'em?  We've got Facebook.

So, after a long 24 hours without up-to-the-minute contact with my peeps, this was a refreshing sight to see this morning:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tortellini Soup

We have a problem in our house where I love soup and could eat it every day of the week.  Brett unfortunately does not care for soup, so it's always a challenge to come up with soup recipes that he will actually enjoy.  Lucky for us, this is one of them:

Tortellini Soup

The Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 cups water
2 extra-large vegetarian vegetable bouillon cubes
2 1/2 cups dried cheese filled tortellini
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

The Rules:
1.  In a 4-quart dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add celery, carrot, onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender.

2.  Stir in water and bouillon cubes.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low; stir in tortellini.  Cover; simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tortellini are tender.

3.  Stir in parsley, nutmeg and pepper.  Sprinkle individual servings with cheese if desired. 

The Dish:
Makes 5 servings.  280 calories per serving, 10 g total fat, 11 g protein. 

Recipe from Betty Crocker Easy Everyday Vegetarian.  Sorry folks, I don't get much credit for this one.  

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wise Words Worth Passing Along

Here are some wise words to kick off the week.  I came across this on another friend's blog and felt it was worthy of sharing:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument.? Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone..
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ''In five years, will this matter?".
26. Always choose life.
27. Forgive everyone everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
29. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
32. Believe in miracles.
33. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
34. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
35. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
36. Your children get only one childhood.
37. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
38. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere..
39. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
40. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
41. The best is yet to come.
42. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
43. Yield.
44. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Day Hike

Travis and Alex have come to visit us over the New Year's weekend.  On New Year's Day we headed out for a hike to a wind cave in one of the nearby mountains. 

It looked quite manageable from a distance, but the trail actually became more steep and rugged than we had anticipated.

At least the desert scenery was pretty along the way. 

After much walking and relatively little falling, we reached the wind cave at the top of the mountain. 

And of course, we have the photographic evidence to prove it. 

I would definitely do this hike again, but maybe next time will be after a little bit more training on the elliptical. 
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