3.31.2012

Tomorrow Begins National Poetry Month

I started a tradition a few years ago of honoring National Poetry Month each April. In past years I have posted original poetry, favorite poems, new poems, and anthologies and poets I have grown to love. I can never say enough about how reading, appreciating, and writing poetry helps each of us understand our world in a different way. It creates an opportunity for more concise writing with a focus on the choice and sound of specific words. Poetry brings back memories of a teacher reading a certain verse, standing in front of the room reciting a poem, or wrtiing a love poem to a sweetheart. The words put is in another place, another season, another time. On the eve of this special month I am sharing this favorite of mine by Edna St. Vincent Millay. In a poetry workshop by my friend Marti, she encouraged us to listen for the sounds in poems. Take time to read this aloud. Enjoy!


 


Counting-Out Rhyme


 Silver bark of beech, and sallow


Bark of yellow birch and yellow


Twig of willow.


 


Stripe of green in moosewood maple,


Color seen in leaf of apple,


Bark of popple.


 


Wood of popple pale as moonbeam,


Wood of oak for yoke and barn-beam


Wood of  hornbeam.


 


Silver bark of beech, and hollow


Stem of elder, tall and yellow


Twig of willow.


 


-Edna St. Vincent Millay


3.28.2012

Words: Handle With Care

Life has been busy. The rituals I enjoy have been put aside. I haven't been able to take many pictures or do writing. In a few days I will be on spring break and look forward to filling long days with creative ventures. To get me motivated tonight I read and reread some poetry on words. Anne Sexon's poem always returns as a favorite.


Words by Anne Sexton


Be careful of words, 
even the miraculous ones. 
For the miraculous we do our best, 
sometimes they swarm like insects 
and leave not a sting but a kiss. 
They can be as good as fingers. 
They can be as trusty as the rock 
you stick your bottom on. 
But they can be both daisies and bruises.



Yet I am in love with words. 
They are doves falling out of the ceiling. 
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap. 
They are the trees, the legs of summer, 
and the sun, its passionate face.



Yet often they fail me. 
I have so much I want to say, 
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc. 
But the words aren't good enough, 
the wrong ones kiss me. 
Sometimes I fly like an eagle 
but with the wings of a wren.



But I try to take care 
and be gentle to them. 
Words and eggs must be handled with care. 
Once broken they are impossible 
things to repair. 


3.25.2012

Flowers Whisper Beauty


"Flowers whisper "Beauty!" to the world, even as they fade, wilt, fall."  ~Dr. SunWolf


3.17.2012

Transforming Winter Dreams into Summer's Magic

"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic. "


~Adrienne Cook


Here is a collection of some of my favorite green images.


3.11.2012

Food Photography, Presentation and Lemon Brownies

I have always loved to post recipes on my blog. I often felt the need to add a photo with any food post. Some of my first food photos were really bad. I didn't pay much attention to anything except snapping a photo either before it went in the oven or before somebody dished it up. Horrible backgrounds showed up in a few. Other photos reminded me I needed to clean off my stove. There were even some that showed dust around my house. Imagine!


Other bloggers inspired me to take better food photos. There is beauty in fresh vegetables on a plate, strawberries in a basket, warm bread on a cutting board. I paid attention to how these bloggers photographed their food while I was copying and pasting favorite recipes. I also began reading more about how to photograph food along the way.


I pay attention to presentation when I set a table, arrange flowers, and decorate a room. I didn't pay that much attention with food photos. I began to pay attention to the dishes I put food on, the angle of the food, and how the presentation was around the food. 


Any of my success came from good old fashioned practice. There is always food around in the garden, on the counter, or in the frig ready to be prepared. I have even had success with the produce department at my local store. Food is food. It is colorful, full of textures, and holds up well unless it is ice cream. In a future post I will share some of my favorite sources for food photography tips and advice.



I pinned this recipe yesterday on Pineterst and thought lemon would be a nice switch from chocolate for brownies. What a yummy Sunday evening treat. These would be delicious with fresh spring strawberries. I tracked the original source to the blog listed below. I only used half the glaze becasue I didn't want them too sweet. Give them a try!


Lemon Brownies











Source: Marilyn (DanaIN, Cooking Forum)
adapted by http://theresalwaysthyme.blogspot.com

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 cup (2 sticks) butter; room temperature 
4 eggs 
juice from 1/2 lemon 
zest from 1 lemon 
1 cup powdered sugar 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
additional lemon zest for garnish 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom only of a 9X13X2-inch baking dish with Parchment paper and spray with Pam. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt; add butter. Stir together eggs, juice from 1/2 lemon and zest from 1 lemon; stir into batter and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When brownies are cool prepare glaze by stirring together powdered sugar and 2 tablespoon lemon juice; drizzle over brownies and sprinkle with additional lemon zest. 




 


 


Food Photography, Presentation and Lemon Brownies

I have always loved to post recipes on my blog. I often felt the need to add a photo with any food post. Some of my first food photos were really bad. I didn't pay much attention to anything except snapping a photo either before it went in the oven or before somebody dished it up. Horrible backgrounds showed up in a few. Other photos reminded me I needed to clean off my stove. There were even some that showed dust around my house. Imagine!


Other bloggers inspired me to take better food photos. There is beauty in fresh vegetables on a plate, strawberries in a basket, warm bread on a cutting board. I paid attention to how these bloggers photographed their food while I was copying and pasting favorite recipes. I also began reading more about how to photograph food along the way.


I pay attention to presentation when I set a table, arrange flowers, and decorate a room. I didn't pay that much attention with food photos. I began to pay attention to the dishes I put food on, the angle of the food, and how the presentation was around the food. 


Any of my success came from good old fashioned practice. There is always food around in the garden, on the counter, or in the frig ready to be prepared. I have even had success with the produce department at my local store. Food is food. It is colorful, full of textures, and holds up well unless it is ice cream. In a future post I will share some of my favorite sources for food photography tips and advice.



I pinned this recipe yesterday on Pineterst and thought lemon would be a nice switch from chocolate for brownies. What a yummy Sunday evening treat. These would be delicious with fresh spring strawberries. I tracked the original source to the blog listed below. I only used half the glaze becasue I didn't want them too sweet. Give them a try!


Lemon Brownies











Source: Marilyn (DanaIN, Cooking Forum)
adapted by http://theresalwaysthyme.blogspot.com

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 cup (2 sticks) butter; room temperature 
4 eggs 
juice from 1/2 lemon 
zest from 1 lemon 
1 cup powdered sugar 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
additional lemon zest for garnish 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom only of a 9X13X2-inch baking dish with Parchment paper and spray with Pam. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt; add butter. Stir together eggs, juice from 1/2 lemon and zest from 1 lemon; stir into batter and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When brownies are cool prepare glaze by stirring together powdered sugar and 2 tablespoon lemon juice; drizzle over brownies and sprinkle with additional lemon zest. 




 


 


3.09.2012

It Begins With A Subject

Photography has long been a passion of mine. I was bitten by the photography bug much more when I got my first digital camera. I took tons of pictures with my film camera, but I never really practiced close up shots or different angles. Who could afford the film?


 I don't think it requires a high end camera to get good pictures. It begins with a subject. Whether the person behind the camera focuses on children's faces, dogs, trees, roses, or sunsets , he can practice the craft by photographing the subject in different ways with different settings. My brother does much of his photography in black and white, but often moves between color and black and white using the same subject.


I wish I had children around more often. My students are not at the age that they want to pose with hands folded, or looking down,or being pensive. They all want to make silly faces, put their arms around each other, and yell funny words. When I am around other children I can practice posing, expression, and light in different settings. That doesn't happen very often.


I have hundreds of photos of my pets, but often they are just lucky shots. Nothing can be too planned with a red heeler, or an energetic kitten named Grayson. My dog Annie is too shy most of the time to look at the camera and a few of the cats walk off in disgust. 


Bless my husband's heart. He has held flowers, let me use his hands, face, and back in numerous poses, but he doesn't really want to be the main subject of my photos.



I raise flowers in my garden and love to create bouquets. This is the subject that has been successful for me in practicing photography. Flowers provide color, composition, and light depending on where I move them, arrange them or style them. I have been known to carry a bouquet of flowers out in freezing weather to get better light.


Choose a subject that is readily available to you most of the time then shoot away. Using my subject of flowers  gives me a perfect excuse to buy grocery store bouquets in the middle of winter.



3.08.2012

It Begins with Words


Whether I am teaching writing or immersing myself in the craft, I have learned one very important lesson. What works for you may not work for me. 


Experienced writers often give out advice which includes where they write, what paper they use, what pen works best, and where their ideas come from.  Along comes a person who wants to spend more time with the written word, but doesn't know where to start. An experienced writer has shared all that works. It seems so daunting. "Oh dear....that room didn't work. Legal pads are better than a journal. What do you mean a red Bic pen?" 


I want to let you in on a  little secret. It begins with words. It doesn't matter where you are, what you are wearing, what you are drinking, or what color of ink you are using. It begins with words. 


Get the words down. With my own students I have an exercise called word spill. "Write down everything that comes to mind when I say............."Myself it is just beginning the words and writing until I can't think of anything else to say.  Whether thinking quietly first about the words helps, do it. For some it is brainstorming. Others read others' words to get inspired. It begins with words. Do what works for you.


I believe there are many writers that have much to say, but aren't writing because of being afraid it may not be done right.  Insecurity creeps in because they don't know the rules of the writing club. There is much to share, much to say, but  the person is crippled with writer's block.  


Guess what? There are no rules. You can't be wrong. That is why I love writing so much. I can do it anywhere, any time, any place. I can save it, rip it up, delete it, or publish it. I can put it here on my blog or share it with my students. They are my words. I put them all together and arranged them to suit me. I own them. 


Remember, it begins with the words. Oh... and you don't have to use an old typewriter!


What writing rituals work for you?


What holds you back when you have something you want to write?


What advice do you have for other writers?


 


 


Gather Up Winter

As the end of spring I often find myself gathering up dead leaves from spent tulips while trying not to pull up the bulbs. Gathering in summer could be flowers for a bouqet, bugs off of roses, deadheads off of geraniums, or fruit off a tree in the orchard. Autumn is the queen gathering season. Leaves are gathered, the last tomatoes before the frost, eggs before the chickens begin molting, and the last of the garden vegetables. 


 



What do we gather up in winter? The last of the holly that was in the pot for decoration? The Christmas lights that still haven't come down? The little items that were dropped and lost in the snow during the long winter months perhaps?



I do gather photos. Winter photos are a challenge. The days are darker. Snow sometimes doesn't look very pretty. As my husband loves to say, " You see one snow covered fencepost...you've seen them all." I gathered a collection of my favorite winter photos as spring looms in the horizon. 



3.06.2012

One Word Project: Gather


Gather is the One Word Project choice for this month at Shutter Sisters. Gather is a good word for any day. I always feel like I am gathering. I am gathering student papers, laundry, photos from online files, stuff for an photo outing, new ideas, books to read, and so much more. One of my next projects will be to gather photos and sort them in some organized fashion. In preparing for this huge project I began revisiting, revising, and redoing files on my laptop. I found a few of my favorite foodie photos to share today. The one above makes me yearn for gathering the harvest of late summer.


I can just smell the fall fruit from the orchard.


Here is my favorite salad to serve at a family dinner: Sarah's Autumn Red Salad.


An image of a refreshing huckleberry martini as we celebrated Mom's birthday in the Peacock Room.



I love to prepare and photograph warm, hardy breakfast dishes.


3.04.2012

March Came in Like a Lamb

Our March left the lion behind. We have had sunshine, temperatures above fifty degrees, and blue skies. How heavely. 



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