Saturday, June 29, 2013

Losing My Mind

Thanks so much for your encouraging words about my new paint color and our tiling project from our last post, I truly appreciate you all thinking we know what we are doing...because trust me, most of the time I haven't a clue!

So last night, while perusing the internet as I often do when I should be vacuuming or dusting, I found something that has kind of turned us on our heads.  I did a Google search for antique French oak...because I have in my head that when we add on our sunroom, that's what I want to use on the ceilings.  I know, I know, we aren't even planning a sunroom addition anytime soon, but a girl can dream can't she?!

Well, I found a great site that carries beautiful oak, but while I was on their homepage I noticed that they also carry tiles.  Do I need tiles...nope, remember my last post about how we were going to try and tackle the really hard tile job in our kitchen...but oh, the tiles on this site, well they called my name.  They practically sang to me and said, "You need me, you don't love those old tiles, they have forsaken you and been a pain in your hind parts for far too long, you love ME now!"

And the more I looked at them, the more the siren sounds called to me, and before I knew it I was sending the company that makes them an email and crossing my fingers that I wouldn't be broke or have to tell our son he couldn't finish college in order for me to use them!  And the truth of the matter is that Mr. Tide and I took a really hard look at the tiles we own (which we will use later in our bathroom remodel), and they are going to be REALLY hard to install in our kitchen, which is pretty much what every tile installer has said for 4 years.

So it's kismet I tell ya!  And because I can use them in another place, so they won't go to waste, and we can install the new tiles ourselves, because they are a much easier install...well I think we've made our decision.  So, barring the samples looking completely different than what they look like online, we have decided to go for it!

The other thing is that the original tiles, though gorgeous and hugely expensive, aren't singing to me anymore, they almost feel a little blah, at least for my kitchen anyway.  So I'm doing a total 180 and throwing caution to the wind and I have decided to embrace a little color where I once thought I just wanted mostly white.  

At first the new idea kind of made my stomach hurt a little, like, "what are you thinking, have you lost your mind?!"  But after visiting, writing, and photographing so many beautiful homes over the years, it's the homes where the owners go for it that have left the greatest lasting impression on me.

So sorry realtors if you're reading this, and chanting "resale, resale, resale," in your heads, I apologize but sometimes you just have to go out on that limb and take a chance, claim that space and make it your very own!  After all, isn't it the beautiful and unusual things in life that grab our attention and make us remember them?!

So today, while hanging out in the hammock, I spotted this Blue Grosbeak up in a tree.  We had always assumed it was an Indigo Bunting, but after finally getting some shots of it we realized that it's actually the Blue Grosbeak, which is said to be "uncommon" in our area and it truly is beautiful and memorable.  

I'm hoping my kitchen backsplash will be as beautiful and memorable once we get it installed, and I will share details of the tile just as soon as I get the samples and decide if they really are the ones!  Everything happens for a reason, so maybe that's why I never did get the other tile installed, but you can still call me crazy...just don't call me late for supper! ;-)

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bye Bye Blue

Six years ago, when we moved into this house, long before we even started our renovation, we had all of the walls painted.  For our bedroom I chose a bold blue, something beachy, with hints of green in it.

Originally I had picked a paint that was a much more mellow color, it was almost white with just a hint of blue/grey in it, but after seeing how well the bold color in our son's room turned out I changed my mind and went with this blue instead.  I had had a bold color in our bedroom in our last house which I loved, so I thought what the heck, it's only paint, and went for it.

After a few years I began to see this color all over the place and that's when my fond feelings for it faded.  I'm weird like that, and as soon as something becomes popular, well I tend to hate it and want to move on.  You know, kind of like when they play a really great song over, and over, and over on the radio...and that song you once loved just becomes annoying?

So, about 4 months ago I began the hunt for a new wall color...yeah, I have lived with a paint color I didn't like anymore for about 4 years and 4 months!  Just because I don't like it any longer doesn't mean I feel like changing it.  I used to not bat an eye at painting a whole room, but I did it for so many years, that now I just cringe at the thought of re-arranging furniture and clearing a room out to paint the walls.  I think a whole house renovation will do that to you, it sucks the remodeling/changing things up life right out of you!

But as much as I detest the idea of painting, I'm even more tired of staring at 3 different color paint swatches on my walls.  But I have finally settled on a color, and we even have the new paint, so there really are no more excuses I can use.

I thought I wanted a soft grey that had a lavender undertone, but once I put it on my walls, and even though this room gets a TON of light, it just looked muddy.  Instead, I ended up with a soft pale grey that looks almost white.  This from a girl who swore she would never want an all white room...well besides my kitchen.  Oh, and white walls are all the rage right forget what I said earlier about things being popular...blah, blah, blah.

But I think I'm going to like it.  It has enough grey to make it interesting, and it still looks nice against the bright white trim in there, so fingers crossed it will work.  But the blue won't all be gone from the room when it's finished because my ticking stripe duvet and new bolsters will make sure that the blue isn't really gone.

And in a separate act of craziness, Mr. Tide and I have decided to try and tackle our kitchen backsplash tile installation ourselves.  After having numerous installers come out and say it seemed too complicated, or wanting a fortune to do it, we've decided to just do it ourselves.  We've done tile work before, and after being so frustrated with not finding someone to do it I was actually looking at buying different, more simplistic tiles we could do ourselves.  But after pricing out new tiles that I would actually like, we thought what the heck...the worst that can happen is that we have to get all new tiles if we screw up, and we are thinking about doing that why not at least try!

I think this might actually drive me a little buggy before all is said and done!

To my Canadian readers, I wish you all a very lovely long weekend in celebration of Canada Day! :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Unlike the poignantly moving and, at the time, controversial film by the same name as my post title which came out when I was a toddler (1967), our dinner guest, or should I say breakfast guest, is of a feathered nature.

When I stepped out onto our patio today to take the dogs out, I heard the familiar cries of one of our resident eagles.  Each morning and night they fly back and forth from their perches on the river, to their nest somewhere way up the creek from us.  I'm used to hearing them call to one another and yell at the osprey who constantly badger them, but this time the calls seemed much closer than usual.

With my camera never far away, I went back inside and put my long lens on in hopes that I might catch a glimpse of him or her in a nearby tree.  As I was scanning the trees, looking among the leaves, I happened to glance to my left towards the field and this is what I saw.

There were also two vultures, and along with the eagle, they appeared to be having a dinner party of sorts on something that must have been killed by the tractor that mowed the fields next to us yesterday.

I snapped a few shots of the eagle in the field, and then quietly tried to get a little closer, to no avail.  Before I could even get down the steps of the patio, the eagle was off and running.  I was still hundreds of feet away, but the eagle was having no part of it all, so I backed off and went back on the patio still snapping as he flew off.

In the photo above you can see him or her with a tiny bit of field grass still hanging from his mouth.  This may have actually been a female since they are the larger of the two sexes in the eagle world.

As much as I love capturing their sheer power and beauty, I don't like disrupting their daily routines.  So I kept my distance, which meant most of the rest of my photos were of eagle butts.  I have to say though, that even from a rear view, they are pretty amazing creatures!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

You Learn Something New Every Day

I've seen these little guys when I have been out and about in the flower gardens, but I kind of always assumed they were in the bee, wasp, hornet family.

It turns out they are actually a form of moth known as Hummingbird Moths...who knew?!  Well some of you probably knew, but I sure didn't.

They are quite large, and are often mistaken for hummingbirds because they feed and behave much like their avian counterparts.

They use their nifty little proboscis, the long needle like thing that comes out of their mouth, to collect nectar.  It curls up, like a coiled rope or hose, when it's not drinking nectar.

I remember the word proboscis from biology and botany/zoology classes way back in college, but had shoved it from my memory until I looked up these cool creatures today.

Apparently Hummingbird Moths love clear sunny days, which it certainly is today, albeit a hot and humid one.  The image above is my favorite, because I love the whirling of his or her wings, it creates a cool effect.

So today I learned something new...that moths come in all shapes and sizes...including one that acts and looks like a hummingbird!  Nature never ceases to amaze me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hurry Up and Wait

Let me start off by saying, that I was so happy to see so many other blue hydrangea lovers from my last post!  The ones pictured in that post are not at my house sadly, but at the house our children are renting together.  They truly are beautiful and practically surround the house and little white shed, so I get to enjoy them even if they aren't in my own backyard!

But speaking of my backyard, there are some things I do get to enjoy right outside on my small patio.  Because we decided not to do a big garden, we have pots of veggies, herbs, and flowers out there for easy access to our kitchen.

One of the things we have growing in big containers are tomatoes.  We have two varieties, Arkansas Traveler, an heirloom variety, and Big Beef, pictured above.  The big beef set fruit awhile ago, but they still haven't started to turn red yet.

The Arkansas Travelers are also coming along nicely, and may actually ripen first since they are a smaller variety than the Big Beef.  Anyone who has ever grown tomatoes can vouch for the fact that once you see tomatoes on the vine you have to just resign yourself to waiting.   It's very much a hurry up and wait kind of thing, where you nearly have to threaten each tomato before it will begin to change color and fully ripen.  Many a gardener/farmer has needed to have cross words with tomatoes in order for them to reach maturity and be ready to eat.  Right now I'm doing a sort of casual ignoring of them in hopes they will turn red and be ready for a BLT sandwich, but if I have to, I will bring out the big guns and threaten them.  ;-)

Two things that require no coaxing are mint pictured above...

And lemon balm...these two are prolific producers who often become pests in the garden.  I don't mind if they spill over the patio and decide to establish themselves in our yard, but some people hate that they will take over a space given the chance.

Here is the mint making a break for it over the side of the patio.

We also planted some "spicy" oregano this year.  It seems like ordinary oregano to me, but if they want to give it a fancy name, that's fine by me.  It is yummy, and I love taking snippets of it and adding it to some of my dishes.

The oregano will pair nicely with my tomatoes to make a yummy gluten free lasagna when the time comes.

And here is a little color to mix with the green herb and tomato plants.  I have a large planter filled with pink verbena and hot pink geraniums.  Both are really striking in color and give the patio a pop of color, while giving the bees a little treat too.

You can't tell from these photos, but these planters are all pretty large, and take up one whole corner of the patio.  With the steady rain we've had all spring and summer, everything is lush and beautiful at the moment.

I made a little deal with mother nature this year to think only good thoughts about frequent rain, and she seems to have accepted the deal and has been very generous with her watering...including a big storm this evening that gave everything a thorough soaking.

I hope mother nature has been kind to you wherever you live, and let's all think really hard about my tomatoes ripening so that I won't have to hurry up and wait much longer!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ode to Summer

Oh Summer, I love you so!

With your warm breezes, beautiful sunsets, and billowy blue blossoms.

I am giddy with the scent of freshly mown grass, honeysuckle, and sweet magnolia.

You bathe me in warm sunlight, let me run barefooted, tease me with the flickering of lightning bugs, and replenish me with sweet watermelon.

If only you could last a little longer...

Happy Summer!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Patience has never been my strong suit, but photography has taught me to slow down...well a little anyway.  Sometimes you can't rush a photo, you just have to wait and let it present itself.  And then if you want to turn it into something special, that requires even more patience.

I can spend hours waiting for a bird to come into position (and I have the bug bites to prove it!), and hours more fiddling with that image in post processing.  In the end I have to answer to myself, translating the finished piece I see in my head into something I like on my computer screen, and ultimately onto paper or canvas.  I am often my own worst critic, but that's ok, because it pushes me to try harder, reach farther, and most decidedly, be patient.

And if photography isn't the catalyst for my new found virtue...well my computer would be the other thing which often tests my patience.  The last few days it has been having hiccups, locking up, and just generally being a pill about things.  I've had a stern talking with it though, so I'm hoping it will sit up and fly right, much like the beautiful hummingbird above! ;-)

I hope you all are having a wonderful week and that no one is trying your patience.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Oh Deer

What a crazy week last week was!  Lots of social events going on, a huge storm that blew through with lots of damage...thankfully only big branches down at my house, lots of work stuff (yard, house, and regular 'ole work), and then Father's Day with a big meal and homemade gluten free chocolate cake...yum!

Today was spent resting and feeling a little like I'd been hit by a bus, but hey, that's how life is sometimes.  I have loads of emails to return, but my laundry is all caught up, and my yard is kind of, sort of looking pretty weed free, so life is good.

I wonder if Ms. Deer, pictured above, has weeks where she feels a little harried?  I have seen her with a set of twin fawns, so I'm betting she would say yes.  I wonder what deer say when they have been going at break neck speed for a few days...probably not "oh dear," or even "oh deer," but they might! ;-)

Enjoy your week, and I hope it's a calm one!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Eyes Have It

They say that black faced dogs are the hardest to photograph...that the eyes of the dog often get lost among their black fur.

I would have to agree that dark faced dogs are more difficult to capture, because the expressiveness of their eyes is more easily hidden, but I love the contrast between dark eyes and dark fur.

And when you do capture those eyes...well you may just melt!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mrs. Hummingbird

Well, the rain finally let up yesterday afternoon, and the sun was happy to make a comeback...we were happy to see it back too.

I decided to step outside and do a little more hummingbird hunting with my long lens, and I was not disappointed when a beautiful female hummer decided to show up to the feeder.  I'm so glad you liked the other images, and thank you for your kind words!

Not to be forgotten, Mr. Hummingbird showed up too and even gave me a wave hello! ;-)

I think this might be a mating pair, and I don't think this is the same male as in my last post because his throat feathers were far less dramatic than those of the other male.

Just like with the bluebirds, I never tire of seeing the beautifully colored feathers of hummingbirds, and these are her true increasing the saturation necessary.  Their feathers are iridescent, luminous, and simply brilliant, it's no wonder people have tried to capture these colors for years and bring them into their homes...Mother Nature is quite the color expert!

And here she is...Mrs. Hummingbird...she reminds me of that quote...

"Though she be but little, she is fierce!"   ~William Shakespeare ~

Happy Sunday!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Before and After

The hummingbirds are back, and we finally put our feeder out yesterday.  We relocated it to a more convenient place for me to take pictures, and even though it's been raining cats and dogs today, I was able to get in a few shots, so I thought I would share a few before and after images.

As an added benefit of relocating the feeder, I can now stand inside to take my pictures, and the hummingbirds seem to also love the proximity of the feeder to our tomato cages.  As you can see in each of these photos, this little guy was not worried about the rain at all, and was simply enjoying his new found perch.

Because I edit each of my pictures, I thought it might be fun to show you the "before" and "after" shots so that you can see what I do.  Sometimes I do a lot of post processing, mostly on shots that I want to look more like paintings, but a lot of the time I just tweak things so that they look more the way I want them to.

The shot above is a before shot, and even though I like the way it looked straight out of the camera, which it is above, except for cropping, I still wanted to put my touch on it.

So here is the after shot.  I used a texture on it which darkened the background ever so slightly, and I also bumped up the contrast, but just a hair, so that his head feathers would pop a little bit more than in the first image.

I also left some of the texture on the breast feathers, but removed it completely from the head.  I liked that the texture warmed him just just a little and made his breast feathers a bit more golden brown.  I could have done this by changing the warmth too, but I didn't want the effect on the whole bird, just on his body, so using a texture was the way to go.

Above is a before of him grabbing raindrops on his long tongue as they fell, which was pretty cool to watch!  In this one, I mostly just removed one or two errant raindrops which seemed distracting to me.  See the one on the far left of the image and then there is one below his tiny feet.

If the light had been better I could have maybe gotten some cool bokeh with the raindrops, but my depth of field was so small that only a few showed up, which ended up looking like smudges to out they went.

Here, you can see the after shot, which saved in a smaller size for some reasion, but you can see that the drops have been removed.  And once again I increased the contrast just a smidge and de-noised it just a bit to remove the graininess in the background which was caused by my high ISO.  And boosting the contrast slightly makes the hummingbirds stand out a little bit more from the background.  Simple changes, but ones I feel are worth taking the time to make.

You can see that he had his feathers a bit ruffled from the rain, and he spent a lot of time shaking off the water but I couldn't get a good action shot since the light was so low.

In this shot, besides cropping it down, the only editing I did was to convert it to black and white which you can see below.

I love the drama that black and white can lend to an changes the whole feeling and look of a photo.

So there you have it, my before and after hummingbird collection! :)  Of course I always try and shoot the best possible shot each and every time, but I also think that tweaking your images can not only be fun, but it can also take an image and make it look the way you saw it in your head...well at least in my head anyway!

I hope you all enjoy your weekend, and if you are in the path of TS Andrea, like we are, I hope you stay dry and don't experience any flooding!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Roses and Seashells

If you were ever to visit my home you would be sure to find two things...

Roses (when they are blooming)...and Seashells (all year long).

Some things just go together, don't you agree?! :)