Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cozy and Snuggly

It's official- fall has turned to winter and I couldn't be happier. I find something extremely comforting in a gentle snowfall and gray sky. Of course there's the car that's frozen shut, the wet feet, and gale force winds, but I do love it so...

In an attempt to ring in this cozy time of year, I'm burning one of my favorite Yankee tarts; Harvest Home. There's something so soothing in the scent.

Yesterday afternoon I stopped at a tiny, quaint antique shop along Patriot Street. Every morning on my way to work the pretty little Christmas tree perched in the storefront window seems to smile at me, beckoning me into a world of ancient treasures. Once inside, I was greeted with the smells of Christmas; pine, cranberry, clove, and cinnamon. Just breathing in the holiday yumminess took me back to the days of living at 862. My mom and dad always made the holidays so magical. Being in the shop emerged as a true delight. I enjoyed conversation with the nicest lady who shared in my love of other people's trinkets. We spent a good deal of time discussing the stories that the different pieces of furniture might tell. It's always refreshing to meet someone who isn't in a rush; someone who is truly enjoying being lost in the midst of a shopping adventure.

The above photos were taken this afternoon around 4:30. Obviously, Dott Avenue has been transformed into a violently shaken snow globe. Welcome to the 'hood, Jack Frost!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sweet Treats

I don't think I'll ever grow up. Just like a little kid, I made a deal with myself: if I was good at the doctor, I would get a treat. If you know me well, you know I'll do about anything for a morsel of delightful decadence.

Luckily the doctor I was visiting happened to be located in the booming metropolis of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I couldn't have been more pleased, as this afforded me the rare opportunity to partake in many of my favorite hobbies: shopping, trying on shoes, enjoying a long drive, and people watching at Starbucks.

Walking in to the yuppie-ish style coffee house instantly calmed me and was the perfect reward for my stellar behavior at the doc. I must say, coffee serves as a much bigger reward than the smiley stickers and cheap-o treasure chest treats of my youth. Perhaps being an adult has its "perks" after all.

Other than the warm aromas wafting through the air, a beautiful chalk-drawn sign toyed with my eyes. Hooray!-The pumpkin spice latte has made its annual appearance. I'm already looking forward to my all-time favorite...a gingerbread latte, but until then, the pumpkin spice will surely warm me up and pacify my coffee craving.

While placing my order, my eyes wondered to the pastry case, full of enormous, calorie packed, sugar-glazed goodies. Unable to avoid the yumminess tempting me from behind perfectly sparkling glass, I gave into my sweet tooth and ordered a dreamy vanilla bean scone. Just for the record, it was so heavenly that it should probably deemed illegal.

During my shopping adventure, I purchased my first official Christmas present of the holiday season. I adore present giving, but only when I know the person on the receiving end is appreciative. I have a feeling that this one will be a hit.

Allow me to leave you with the amazing quote that graced my Starbucks cup:

"Because true conservatives are pessimists, they are happier than liberals, for three reasons. First, pessimists are rarely surprised. Second, when they are wrong they are delighted to be so. Third, pessimists do not put their faith in princes – in government. They understand that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. Happiness is an activity; it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness."
~ George F. Will
Pulitzer Prize–winning author and columnist

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Still Life

Photography class came to a close this evening. As a culminating activity, we were assigned to bring numerous objects to class in an attempt to create a still life photo. Interestingly enough, the pieces I chose were all shinny and gave off a tricky reflection. Learning how to manipulate the reflection, play with light, and even use it to an artistic advantage emerged as a true photographic experience.

I enjoyed learning about others through the different artifacts they brought to class. Once we were given this assignment, I immediately knew what I wanted to use. The teapot speaks of my love for warm beverages and cuddle sessions; the daisy tops my favorite flower chart, and is actually the top of a perfume bottle; the necklace has proven itself rather lucky, as I wore it for my job interviews in both Fairfax and Berlin; and the small glass bottle demonstrates my love of tiny, delicate things.

I'm lonely tonight.... my Chad-o is at the Penguin game and I'm here with a sleeping puppy. It's great he's off having fun with friends, but I miss him. Hurry home, Turbo!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Simple Deilghts

While roaming in a daze through Wal-Mart today, I was roused from my lathargic state by the high pitched, excited squeel of a little girl. "Mommy! I want to go to Christmas!" she said, as she stared in awe at the glistening display of trees, ornaments, bows, lawn ornaments, and wrapping paper.

There's something so authentic about the innocence of children during the holidays. Even though I'm all grown up, I still get a giddy, yippie-skippie feeling when I see the first signs of Christmas popping up in shopping marts. As a matter of fact, my mom and I were just talking about the new Christmas cookie recipes that we want to try. It's hard to believe that Halloween hasn't even arrived, yet Mr. Clause is already knocking on the door. Trick-or-Santa?

This weekend proved to be full of simple delights: time with friends, late night conversation with Chris and Kami, good times rocking out to High Maintenance, Sunday morning lazies, and even a jog. It seems that Sunday night has quickly crept up on me again....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Star Puffs

While out walking the other day, I came across these leftover dandelions. Capturing them in the autumn breeze proved quite a challenge, but it was enjoyable to watch them come to life and take on new perspectives as I played with the camera settings.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nectar of the Gods

There's this little place called the Summit Diner that Chad-o and I frequent quite often. The other day we were indulging in some vegetable soup and sandwiches when a quirky little sign caught my attention. It read: Coffee- Do Stupid Things Faster With More Energy. Too funny! Being a slave to the highly caffeinated, warm, rich beverage, the sign hit a nerve with me.

I'm always looking for a reason to partake in this small pleasure. I don't know if it's that I enjoy holding a piping hot mug or if the smell reminds me of my mom's kitchen, but either way, coffee has a calming effect on me. Crazy, isn't it? Most people use it to perk themselves up, where I, on the other hand, find it relaxing and comforting.

Greta, thanks for the adorable picture that popped up in my mailbox today. You instantly brought a smile to my face and made me miss our coffee, cookie, and talking time more than ever. I miss you and our good times at Saratoga.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Perfect Scenery

I love living in the Laurel Highlands. This time of year affords such beautiful views and all-around amazing foliage. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to take a few photo walks, and even embarked on a "photography field trip" with my new picture taking friends. It really amazes me at how much can be done with a camera.

While on our field trip at Kooser State Park, we bumped into the nicest fisherman. As it turns out, he was a professional photographer from New York who worked for the New York Daily News and was previously embedded with the US Army in Iraq. While there, he was responsible for creating the Kodak moments that all of us back in the USA get to observe. Anyway, he was kind enough to get out his equipment and let us play around with it. His lenses were absolutely stunning....

What a wonderful weekend it turned out to be. Chad-o and I ventured to J-town where we indulged in the delicious chips and salsa at Chili's and saw the movie, "Body of Lies." I highly recommend it. Our Saturday was full of odds and ends, Charlie got a fur cut, and I went shopping for my stained glass supplies. I chose an odd, brownish, amber color of glass to make my lamp. I enjoy the natural look more than the bright colors. We then ate out (again) and capped the evening with some drinks and wine at the Tavern.

Weekend, why must you go so fast?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hobbies and Firsts

Tonight I had the wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating experience of photography class. I'm enjoying listening to someone else do the talking. Teaching is a true delight, but it's still nice to sit on the other side of the desk every now and then.

I was pleased to find that the rest of the class found my photos interesting. Having the opportunity to have a group of people quietly and gently comment and praise me resulted in an amazingly enlightening experience. Just like the children I teach, I found pleasure in hearing that I did something well.

Also, on Tuesday I began my stained glass class. Who would have thought that glass cutting would be so cathartic? I look forward to making my first project- a lampshade! I'll try and post some photos as I work on my masterpiece.

Looking back, I wish I would have taken more time for myself to be creative. I noticed a calm presence in myself within the last week, and I truly believe it's a direct result of allowing my creative juices to flow in new directions. Plus, learning something out of my usual realm has caused me to view the world around me with a fresh set of eyes.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Munchkin is Spooked

Once upon a time, long, long ago, a wise sage said there's always more than meets the eye. Honestly, when it comes to photography, the old saying couldn't be more true. After my class the other night, I emerged with an overwhelming urge to divide and conquer the world of picture taking. However, I've been so caught up in the world of f-numbers, aperture, and shutter speed that I haven't been able to get much else done. I'm sorry dirty laundry and dusty nightstand....

I managed to take some photos of Charlie. I must mention that she hates the camera, and the innocent look in the above photo is basically a pleading with God. I can here her mantra, "Please Lord, make mama put that scary machine away."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Welcome Autumn

Simply put, I love this time of year. The leaves are just beginning to change, mums are now gracing the porches of many homes, and pumpkins are popping up everywhere. Autumn brings about the cozy feeling I always search out. A true lover of warm apple cider, the smell of cinnamon, and jeans/sweaters #1 fan; I couldn't be happier. May the leaves start falling!

With the days getting shorter and the nights colder, I'll be forced to say good-bye to my evening walks, flower tending, and general time outside. Therefore I decided to take up some new hobbies. I've always been interested in photography and recently, a brand new Nikon camera magically appeared in my bed. I was, and am, beyond thrilled and signed up to take a photography class. I have high aspirations for myself....let's hope I'm successful. I have this image of using a modern approach and not following the typical rules of portrait taking. Wish me luck.

Also, when signing up for my photography class, I came across a stained glass class. I've been having a huge urge to purchase a Tiffany lamp, but now I have the opportunity to make my own. I'm beyond excited. Who knows...maybe I'll be opening my own workshop soon and you can come shop in my gallery. Try to hide your excitement.....

For now, I'm off to finish the Oreo brownies for Ava's 3rd birthday. I'd love to be 3 again, if for no other reason than to eat these brownies without the guilt of an exercise slave.
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