Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A package from Shady Grove

Last week I was the lucky winner of a giveaway on Chris' blog. If you haven't been there before, you must visit. She posts beautiful pictures of the Wisconsin countryside, and shares her art and creations as well.

Chris is a quilter and stained glass artist, who makes the most unique and pretty quilt-block earrings. I've never seen anything like them before. So when I got lucky and won her giveaway, I took the chance to request one of her cute earrings.

On Friday last week I received the package in the mail, and it was pretty exciting.

Inside were the earrings I had requested, a card, and an extra snowflake ornament gift too! That was such a neat surprise. Here is her card, and the pretty snowflake. It's transparent glass, but in this picture the glass seems to have captured the sunlight in purple and green hues, making it all the more beautiful.

And here are the earrings that I am really excited to receive. Aren't they pretty?

Please take a moment to go check out Chris' blog and her two etsy stores where she sells beautiful quilt-block jewelery, embroidered handbags, gorgeous hand dyed fabric and more. Here is her card.

This is the first time I have won any give away. Thank you, Chris!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Howdy Du, Some Rain

Thanks to all of you who have sent rain thoughts my way. It worked!! It finally rained here after weeks and weeks of temperatures in the 100s. The rain started last evening and for a few minutes I just stood still and started at the wonder of it ...

* sheets and sheets of cooling rain drumming a steady rhythm on the roof
* steam rising from the thirsty tar road and pavement

* sun-scorched leaves of the tomato plants in our vegetable garden nodding in the rain

* fat cat staying close to my feet under the desk - he's the only one that's not happy

Here's the avocado plant with fresh raindrops. See how well it's doing!! :)

Last weekend I did my first duathlon: Howdy Du 2009. It was a 3 mile run, 17 mile bike ride and another 3 mile run. It was a hot and extremely humid day, but still a lot of fun. I finished in 2 hours and 9 minutes. The runs went well, but I really need to work on my cycling speed. In Austin everyone is into cycling - thanks to Lance Armstrong. We recently joined this group, and it's been a lot of fun so far.

The weekend's almost here ... enjoy it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Unexpected Visitor

We had an interesting visitor a few days ago. I happened to take a break late in the afternoon on this day and thought I'd see how hot it was outside. Stepping out onto the deck, I saw our fat cat sitting on the stones in the backyard, swatting at something. I chased him away, thinking he'd trapped yet another lizard. But on closer scrutiny, it turned out to be this:

Do you see it? It's right in the middle of the image, at the edge of the shade. Here's a closer look:

It was a gorgeous little Red-Striped Ribbon Snake. It's non-venomous, and likes to live in ponds and swamps. There's a creek a short distance from our backyard, so maybe this little one wandered away from there.

After I shooed our fat cat away, I ran inside to get my camera. But this little guy didn't budge at all. I don't know for how long our cat was terrorizing him there, for he sat completely still; a beautiful little model for my pictures.

Husband came home from work just about then and picked it up and relocated it to our vegetable patch. It did emit a foul-smelling odor in self-defense, but I'm sure it was safer within the fenced patch, away from the cats.

Hope it's cooler where you are than here. We've had 100+ degrees for the past 4 weeks straight. If you have lots of rain, do send us some.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I learned something new this July 4th. And that was how to photograph fireworks displays. I have joined a photo club here, where we have friendly "competitions" every other month. This month's theme is Fireworks.

I need to decide which of these photos to take to the competition - I can take a max of two. So here's where I need your opinion. Which two of these eight photos do you like most? Do tell me your first and second choice. I'll number and title them through this post.

(1) Harvest

(2) Dandelion

We watched the display at Ladybird Lake in downtown Austin this time. Maybe watched is not the right word, because I hardly saw the display. I was frantically working with my tripod and camera, changing lenses and trying to get at least a few good pictures.

(3) Feathers

By the time we got to Ladybird Lake, it was pretty packed with people. The neatest thing we saw was a whole bunch of people out on the lake in their canoes, lit up by the ambient light, paddling toward the area where the downtown skyline and fireworks display would be clearly visible. What a great idea! If I hadn't been in such a hurry to find a good spot and set my tripod up, I would've got a picture of them.

(4) Cotton Candy

(5) Sun Rays

Since we got there so late, I couldn't get a spot where I could photograph the lake and the skyline along with the fireworks. Even as we got close to the lake, the first few fireworks went off, and we hurriedly found a spot under a bridge where there were no other people. Because of this bad location, I could only hope to take close ups of the display, which is what I have here.

(6) Flower

(7) Purple Rays

While I still have a long way to go in getting this right, it was fun to learn how to do it. Next time I will go early and try to get some landscape along with the fireworks.

(8) Hibiscus

Hope you got to watch some great fireworks too. Have a great week, and do let me know your choices.