Outdoor Plants and Flowers

Took the Olympus to the front yard. The setting was on Shutter Priority Mode. Minor editing were done in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Columbine.

Pine cone from the giant pine tree in the yard. The tree is starting to brown at the top. I hope it’s not a sign that it’s dying.

This is a ground covering flower called a Vinca. They grow so fast and wildly. I want to get rid of them completely but husband wants to keep them.

Aspen.

The peony is stuck inside the branches of a huge bush. When we first landscaped the yard, the bush was tiny so I thought I could fit a peony plant there. Ten years later and there’s no room for it to grow. I’m planning to take it out and plant it in an open area. It used to bloom so beautifully.

Maple.

The giant bush. Its leaves are tiny now but come summer and fall and this thing becomes a beast. I happen to really like this bush. Just wish the peony wasn’t stuck inside it.

I believe these are morning glories. Not sure what the little periwinkle colored flowers are called but they are so pretty.

And last, a lavender my sister gave me for Mother’s Day. It’s inside the house now but I might transfer it outside. Can you see the spider web between the two flowers? We just had a spider egg sac open in the backyard and watched the babies fly off (like in Charlotte’s Web). Some sneaked inside the house and made the plants their home. I think they’re safe so I’m not worried. You’d think I’d be more scared of spiders since I was bitten pretty badly by a Brown Recluse years ago. There are other bugs I’m more scared off, but we won’t go there.

Olympus PEN E-PL8 Mirrorless Camera

I purchased this camera on Amazon for $280. The original price was $600. The sale is still going on so if you have extra cash hanging around and want a small camera that can do big things, grab it before it’s gone.

I’m not being paid for talking about this camera. I’m just excited. It’s small and stylish. It’s an older camera but it’s still works wonderfully. The newest one is a PL10 and closer to $700.

I’ve been eying mirrorless cameras for some time now but never really needed another camera. I did some heavy research on other mirrorless and because of the price, I went with the Olympus.

Pros: It’s lightweight and takes pretty decent pictures. It’s not meant for pro photography but more so for stuff like blogging and YouTube vlogs. It’s also a good camera to take on trips because it’s light and small so it’s easy to carry around.

Cons: Not a big fan of the WiFi. It doesn’t work properly so I’m finding myself having to use the USB cord to upload to my computer. One reason why I went with this camera was because I wanted the WiFi but I guess I’ll have to try another camera with better connection. I searched everywhere for answers to the issue but there doesn’t seem to be any.

I’ll be sharing photos from this camera soon.

Winter Snow

Yesterday, we were hit with a sort of blizzard. But, like most winters here, they never last. School was delayed for the kids this morning due to the icy roads. Just before noon, most the snow and ice had melted.

Teddy gets excited when she sees snow. She only comes inside after she’s had her fun. Oh, and also because she knows there’s a treat waiting for her.

 

A Quick Hike at Castlewood Canyon State Park

Last Friday, husband’s planned hike to a 14-er didn’t work out, so instead, he and I went to Castlewood Canyon to do a simple hike, something I could handle. It was beautiful with the changing colors of the leaves. Where I’m looking toward in the photo was once a damn built in 1890. The dam broke in 1933 causing a disastrous flood. Now it’s land for homes and pasture for cows. Last time we visited we saw the broken dam, but this time we took a different route, a more scenic route, to appreciate the beauty and peacefulness of the land.

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Graduation

Over the weekend I graduated with my Master’s degree. I never thought I’d ever get here so I’m pretty thrilled. I started my program in the fall of 2009 and then took a hiatus in the summer of 2010. I had wanted to return but family life was more of a priority at the time. Last summer, the university called me to tell me that if I wasn’t planning on continuing my degree, they would purge my file and I would have to reapply if I wanted to continue later. This would mean I would need to retake some classes. I had put so much time and effort into getting into the university that I didn’t know if I could do that again so I told them I’d continue now. The other thing was that I had wanted to continue a few years back but when I had looked at my program, I thought it had been discontinued. I told them my concern and they said it wasn’t discontinued. It was just under a different name.

At graduation, I learned that I was graduating with honors. I was surprised. I thought I had a B in one of my earlier classes in 2009, but it turns out, I didn’t. I had one A- but the rest were A’s. I know, this is such a small thing but it feels great for me because it was my goal to ace all my classes. In my undergraduate degree, I had so much going on that as hard as I tried to bring my grades up, it just wasn’t possible. So, I am very proud of myself that given the time and opportunity, I’m able to do exactly what I set out to accomplish.

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Below, I tried to mimic a photo taken in May 2009 when my husband graduated with his Doctorate. The little girl (who’s not so little anymore, but still is) is my youngest.

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Our Trip to Florida

Happy New Year! Time is flying by. I can’t believe it’s already the middle of February. Husband and I have been watching the Olympics and I couldn’t believe that four years ago was the winter Olympics in Sochi. It felt like it was just yesterday when that happened.

My oldest daughter competed at a national competiton in Florida last week. We went as a family to cheer the team. This was her first time with her school team so she was nervous. She flew in with her team and stayed with the team at a hotel near Disney World.  Husband, our 10-year-old, and I stayed at a different hotel. After competition was over, oldest daughter went with her team to the theme parks in Disney World.  The three of us went to Sea World since we’ve already gone to Disney World a few years back and wanted to try something different.

First two photos were taken by pros.

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They placed 11th nationally out of 15 teams that made finals. There were over 14K high schools nationwide that participated. I saw a team from Korea, but didn’t know what that was all about. I’m guessing there was an international competition going on at the same time.

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A couple of views of the main stage. It was a live event on the ESPN channel. The group performing in the photo below isn’t my daughter’s school but is a school just a few miles from where we live. That was the angle of the stage from where we sat when we watched the competition. When our daughter’s team performed, we got to go up front by the pro-photographers. I only recorded because we were purchasing the pro photos already.

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The competition took place at the ESPN Center in Disney World. I was amazed at how big this area was. In the photo below, the shadow in the bottom left is my 10-year-old’s. She took our photo. 🙂

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Hiking

This was my first hike this year. This was a really easy hike. The landscape was mainly flat so I did’t get much workout in, which is fine for now since it’s been awhile. The views were beautiful and very green.

We laid down a couple of rocks for Kat, the girl who passed away in May from suicide, who was the dance friend of my daughter.  We also scattered some wild flowers that was given at her memorial at the top of the hill we climbed to.  Maybe we’ll visit this place again in a couple of years and see if the flowers survived.

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Dance Performance Photos

Earlier this month my girls performed their last dance recital. They’ve moved on to other activities as mentioned in a previous post. This was a bittersweet performance not only because my daughters won’t be dancing anymore (my oldest just loves ballet and lyrical), but also because a girl at the dance studio committed suicide and it came as a shock to everyone. She was only fourteen years old. She was a beautiful girl with a kind heart. It’s heartbreaking that no one saw her internal pain.  My oldest daughter was a good friend to her and she is having a hard time dealing with the loss. The last group photo (the 9th photo) below of my oldest daughter and the other dancers was a tribute dance to the girl.

These are photos from rehearsal since we’re not allowed to take photos on the actual day of performance.

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Goals Completed in 2016

Twenty-sixteen went by fast.  I now have a feeling technology makes life move faster.  Not literally, of course, but just the time spent on the Internet on social media, blogs, and smartphones takes up almost every minute of our lives.  I’m happy to say that I was still able to accomplish 2 of my 5 goals set earlier in the year.  The ones I accomplished were:

1. Read 40 books.  Favorite out of the 40 was The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.  To see all 40 books I read, click here.

2. Wrote 50K words toward my novel.  I actually put down ‘finish my novel’ but I felt that 50K words was a lot so I’m going with that. 🙂

The other 3 were: organize the study (which I tried but didn’t finish), eat a lot less junk food/carbs and more fruits/veggies (I tired too but those carbs are hard to get rid of), and draw a lot.  I think I painted more than drew/sketch but I really wanted to just draw with a pencil/pen and maybe color pencils.  I was only able to turn out about 6 and they were just sketches while I was doing other things on the computer, except the bottom right, which was drawn in my Midori.

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There was one thing I did accomplish that wasn’t included on my goals list and that was to knit.  Out of nowhere, I had this urge to learn to knit so I went for it.  I was afraid I wouldn’t finish because it was really boring once I got the knitting started but I’m glad I kept with it because it’s a great feeling seeing this knitted scarf and knowing I made it.  You can see the beginning of it here.

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Tonight and tomorrow and maybe all week next week, I’ll be honing down the goals I want to accomplish for 2017.  I have a very general idea what I’d like to accomplish, but I’d like to be more specific and so I think that’s what I’ll spend some time doing.

Happy New Year!