Sunday, January 25, 2015

Birds on a Sunday afternoon

It’s been a mild Sunday here in Maryland and I think it just may be the calm before the storm. I spent the day getting the feeders ready, buying more bird seed and adding another feeder or two to the dogwood tree so that I could shoot pictures out the kitchen window. I was down to one old feeder out there and I hadn’t filled it until just last week. But I always keep the back patio feeders filled so it didn’t take long for the birds to arrive to the new ones.

These were all shot through my kitchen window, which faces west, using my Nikon D7000 and the 70-300mm lens. I chose manual mode to get the light just right. Unfortunately, in manual mode, the 70-300 lens doesn’t autofocus very well, so I had to resort to manual focus. And if you know anything about birds, they move fast.


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Not that I’m complaining, because I did manage to get several decent captures. But you shoulda seen the ones that got away . . .

Above: Carolina wren.


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This female cardinal sat and posed for a good 10 seconds or more.


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This little sucker, however, was jumping all over the place.

This is a tufted titmouse. Don’t you love the little blue feet?

And that dreamy bokeh in the background?

Bokeh is pronounced bow-kay or bow-keh and it refers to that lovely out-of-focus light and all the different shapes and colors you see in the background of photos taken with a digital camera. It is created by light and and the glass in your lens and distance and wind and focus. It's a Japanese term for the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photographic image.


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Even faster moving is the White-breasted nuthatch.

They like to walk along the branches upside down.


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The house finches, however, are content to sit and relax and have their photos taken.

They don’t mind, like the cardinals do, if they see me moving from the window.


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That’s the old feeder on the right. I bought a new double-suet feeder today, on the left.

It was half price at the feed store.


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When I was younger, I never would have believed that sitting by a window and photographing birds would have given me this much pleasure. I would have laughed long and hard had I been told this about myself. But then I got older and life slowed down a little more and now this is something quiet and simple that I can do on a weekend afternoon. And if I am lucky enough, I may even glean an image that is good enough to add to my etsy site for sale.


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Black-capped chickadee.

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For dinner, I’m making {this} and enjoying it with a nice salad. And for dessert, I’m heating up one of the pain au chocolate delicacies that I made for yesterday’s breakfast. Made up the recipe myself and you can get it {here}, on my old Picture A Day blog that I haven’t updated in years. Hey – one blog is enough.

And I’ll be watching a movie that came in the mail yesterday: This is Where I Leave You. I hope it makes me laugh. I could use a good laugh. Hell, we all could. Right?

Enjoy your Sunday. And to those in the path of the impending storm systems . . . be safe.


Your friend,

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Zee master bathroom

At the request of my sisters and several of you who read this blog, I’m posting pictures of the finished bathroom in the manor house where I live. I had said I would, but then recanted after deciding it was way too boring. But the pressure became too great, especially when so many of you said that you couldn’t wait to see the after pics. Ha!

The old bathroom leaked and I wasn’t able to use it since October. Prior to that, we never ever used the bathtub because the former tenants told us it leaked into the dining room. No matter, because we had another bathroom on the other side of the house. So that bathroom became our main shower area. But now I have a fully functioning bathroom. And the hot water finally works.


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The door you see leads to a very large linen closet (which had to be completely cleaned due to all of the demolition dust that accumulated in there).

Prior to this, everything below the chair rail was green tile. The tub was removed and a large shower stall was installed as well as a new toilet and a vanity.


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When the plumbers and carpenters were done, my son and I painted it ourselves.

I had thought of replacing that old medicine cabinet (it was gross) but because of Rehab Addict on HGTV, I decided to take it all apart  and clean and paint it. And I love how it turned out. The lamps are old but they kind of go with how the rest of the house looks. And they really didn’t need replacing.



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I actually enjoy painting, or rather I used to. I haven’t actually done it in years and had forgotten how tedious it really is. But I think we did a good enough job of it. The woodwork was all a kind of seasick green color and most of it took 3 coats to cover. Seriously tedious and so time-consuming, but also so worth it.


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This is a basic bathroom with no fancy frills. And I think it’s great.

The curtains came from a friend who was moving. The wall color is called Ancient Stone, a Behr paint color that I also saw on Rehab Addict. I have always painted with Behr and think it’s quite good.

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I didn’t take before photos but I did take a video after the plumbers fixed all the pipe and repaired the drain bed (whatever that is). I watch so many home improvement shows and one of them recommended taking a video after the workers leave. Just in case, you know. If I knew how to make still shots from the video, I would have done that. So for what it’s worth, the before bathroom is in the video below but please excuse the lengthy and boring zooming in on all the plumbing work. The day after I took it, the carpenters showed up and shored up the floor which was in pretty horrible condition as you will see.


DSC 5569 from Kate Young on Vimeo.

Today was the first time I took a shower in this bathroom since I moved here in 2008. I actually accidentally headed into the other bathroom and had to stop myself. I am so happy to have a fully functioning master bath. Yay!

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Waterlogue love

I am loving the new app that I downloaded for the iPhone. It changes your photos into watercolors and I’ve been playing with it all week. I’m sure my love will die down soon and I’ll get back to my true love (my real camera) soon. But for now, here’s a few photos I’ve taken.



Coming up the driveway after work today.



I love coming home to the old manor house on the hill.



Scenes from the school where I work. The cupola on the top of the building and the old bell from the school’s former site which is now housed in one of the courtyards.



Portraits are a little more tricky. Here are a few of my co-workers. Left to right: Priscilla being the car line diva that she is. (That’s our Head of School, Christine, in the background in her red slacks). Rich, our business manager in the center. And Amy, our middle-school head. Makin’ some copies. I bet they’re mid-term exams.



The view from my desk.

The blue sign on the top of the mailboxes says, “Keep Calm and Stay Awesome”.



And speaking of awesome . . . my George.

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The Waterlogue app is 2.99 and is available for iPhone only. And it’s super fun.

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In other news, I am still not done with the painting in the bathroom. It’s the trim that’s taking so long. (That and the fact that my son doesn’t get as excited to paint as his mother does). But my goal is to have everything finished by the end of the weekend.  This includes cleaning out the linen closet which is attached to the bathroom. It’s covered in dust from the construction. And it’s a huge job. But hey – I have a bathroom that works!

Until next time ~

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Don’t think twice it’s alright

It’s Saturday night and I’m having a swinging time. I worked hard all day and am enjoying a glass of wine and watching Property Brothers on HGTV. Swinging, I tell ya.

Between my son and I, we got the walls done in the new bathroom. Tomorrow we do the trim. Yes, I should have taken before photos but it had been two months since it was used; it had no water and I couldn’t clean it, so it was gross. I did take a movie with my DSLR after the plumbers fixed the leak and while it was all torn apart, so I can use that as a base. And I’ll show you photos of the finished product.

I also got all of the Christmas stuff away, which is a huge relief. I didn’t think I put that much out (and I didn’t) but when it was all gathered together and ready to pack away, it looked like a lot. In between chores, I played with a new app that I downloaded on my work cell phone, which is an iPhone. It’s called Waterlogue and I actually paid a few dollars for it, but it’s so worth it. It takes your cell phone photo and turns it into a painting. There are about a dozen different styles to choose from and it’s just so much fun.

Here’s some examples ~


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This is probably my favorite. After I got the house back together and cleaned in the living room, I put back my floral arrangement in the front window. The curtain on the left looks like a different color only because the light was coming in on that side. But I think it looks really pretty.


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I took this one last night at a restaurant in town. I went with my friend (and boss), Christine and we met up with a bunch of her friends. Scored a seat at the sofa right in front of the fire. And the owner sent over these fabulous appetizers. This is a photo of Christine’s French onion soup and her glass of hard cider. The glass was full so I don’t know why it looks like it isn’t, but still kind of cool.


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George outside this morning, hopeful for a game of fetch. I was wrapped in a blanket and my winter coat and everything I needed to keep warm. But at 12 degrees, my coffee went cold so I came inside.


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I took a picture of the sun coming up before going in, though.


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And looking East.



I am not a fan of selfies, and this one is kind of weird. But I’m brave and putting it out there.

Because this app is just too cool.


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Last night was fun. We went to a gallery across the street before going to the restaurant/bar to meet her friends. At the bar, one of the couple’s sons was about to go on the stage to perform. He did a fabulous rendition of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright. And you know what? It all felt right.

Hope your weekend’s are going well. I’ve got a Netflix movie on tap that just arrived in my mailbox today. It’s an oldie so this will be interesting: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore with Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson and a very young Jodie Foster. Should be interesting . . .

Sorry I haven’t done anything about that Giveaway yet. I promise that it’s still happening though. I just need to find more photos for my etsy site and there are lots to go through ~

Thanks for stopping by.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sweet light

When I let George out at 6 am, it was gently snowing. Our school follows the county when it comes to weather-related closings, and the call usually always comes in at 6 am. I assumed school was a go, because we weren’t really supposed to get much anyway. However, as I was walking out the door an hour later, the call came through. School was closed.

We always jump the gun down here in Maryland and since this was our first snow fall of the season, rather than calling for a 2-hour delay at 6 am, the county decided to wait and then to call off school. Unfortunately, many of our teachers and most of our families were already either on buses or en-route to school when the call came in. I went in anyway with my boss who lives in the neighborhood next door to me. We got a lot done in the quiet of the day and left early.

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I came home and after checking on the progress of the master bathroom, I got changed and settled down to watch TV. Because I’m lazy like that. And my new favorite show was on: Rehab Addict on HGTV. I absolutely love this show that transforms older homes to their former glory. Nicole Curtis rocks, and I wish I had her mad skilz when it comes to carpentry and just about everything.

After that, I switched to the Food Network where Ina Garten and guest host, Giada De Laurentiis, were cooking and having a swell old time togher. I think I fell asleep after that because I remember dreaming of mascarpone and lemon gnocchi.

When I woke up, the light had changed and I bundled up, grabbed the camera, and George and I took a little walk.


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And captured all of these images with the sweet light. I don’t know, maybe you get tired of always seeing photos of the property here. Maybe I should branch out a little more.

Or maybe I can do whatever I want.


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I can’t remember the last time I napped during the day.

Oh, wait.

It was last week when my back was hurting.


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I love bare branches and pretty skies behind them.


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And I still can’t believe it took me six years to finally paint the front door.


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We only had 3 inches of snow but it’s gotten really cold and it’s supposed to get even colder as the week wears on.


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The jumble of sticks you see in the center of this photo is my bird feeding station. I am not using my husband’s squirrel defeating wire anymore and have posts up for the feeders. They surround two big stumps my husband put there to hold up large branches for birds to perch on. It makes photographing them easier because they have something to perch on. There used to be a lot more branches, but they all crashed down after last winter’s epic snowfalls and I just can’t put them back together like he had them.


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And then it got dark and I made angel hair pasta with meat sauce for dinner.

And now I am full.

Exciting, aren’t I?

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Don’t answer that . . .

Friday, January 2, 2015

This morning

I woke early and got out of bed. I’ve had the plumbers and/or carpenters here since Monday and they arrive early. I mean 8:00 early. And there’s no way I want to be caught in bed, because what they are doing is the master bathroom in my bedroom. This bathroom has never been right, but there is going to be no complaining about it here because I’m thankful to be in this place. This particular bathroom has been out of commission for over two months since the water has been shut off due to a leak. So the entire bathroom has been gutted and today I am one day closer to having it finished.

I like to sit on the porch out front in the early morning while I have my coffee. It was warmer out there yesterday because of the sun, but today it’s hidden behind clouds.


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Still beautiful, though.

And so peaceful.


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George is ever hopeful that I will throw sticks to him. And when I say sticks, I mean tree limbs.

And I am not going to be throwing tree limbs.

(although my back is feeling much better this morning)


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Sometimes I dream while I’m out here.

Everyone needs a dream to call their own.


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And in case you begin to wonder why I rarely post photos of my cat, Miss Blackie, on this blog . . . well, it’s because she is one uncooperative puss. I was sitting quietly, sipping my delicious cup of 8 O’Clock coffee, and she was sitting quietly on the top step. I know this cat, though. And I knew that as soon as I reached for the camera, she would be off. What her aversion to it is, I do not know. But I am a bird photographer. And I know how to move slowly while sitting still, yet . . .

She up and left anyway. Hence the blurry shot of her scampering down the steps.

In the spring, I swear . . . I am renting a spray washer and cleaning these brick steps.


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And she plops down on the bottom step with her back to me.

I am under my blanket and in a coat. I have on a scarf and my fingerless gloves.


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George is a natural poser.


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He doesn’t seem to mind the camera at all.

Seems to enjoy it, actually.


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And life is good.


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Last night, I made {these pork chops} and served them with mashed potatoes, and steamed carrots & peas. They are super duper simple to make. My son ate three of them, he liked them so much. They really are quite delicious.

I have one more adjustment (this morning) at the chiropractor. It has really been helping.

My goal for the weekend is to get {my etsy site} updated. I don’t really have a lot of items for sale anymore and it could really use a bit more. After I do this, I plan to host a giveaway of one of my prints. It’s the least I can do to thank you for your continued visits and your support. So look for that to come ~

Until next time, my friends . . .

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