Thursday, January 29, 2009

No, We're Not in Kansas

Dorothy and Toto must be close by
For me, some things beg to be photographed. Like this tree.

It was late afternoon and my daughters and I were headed to Lake Martin to take a few pics before the sun went down. Late afternoon is my favorite time of day because of the beautiful glow that the sun casts on everything as it makes its way down to the horizon.

As we drove by a field that we have driven by numerous times, I noticed this tree. Perhaps it stood out because it is apparently dead, as opposed to those trees around it. All I know is that it seemed to reach out to me, like those trees that come to life in the Wizard of Oz. So I pulled off the highway as much as possible, turned on the safety flashers, and got out of the car. I took what photos I could without getting run over by oncoming traffic. My adventure was cut short when the puppy that lived across the highway decided to come after me. I was afraid he would enter the highway and get hit by a car, so I got him home safely, got back into the car and headed for the lake.

I've processed the photo a bit to give the tree the prominence it deserves. Judging by the vines that cover it, it may be host to wisteria or trumpet vines in the Spring. I'll definitely be visiting it again.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Polka Dot Baby Shower Cake

I was asked to make a cake to match the shower invitations, which were light blue with a polka dot border in blue, green, yellow, and white. My plans were to frost the cake then add circle fondant appliqués. But I've learned that simple graphic design means the slightest imperfections are magnified. So, rather than struggle to achieve a perfect coat of frosting, I frosted the cake as smoothly as I could and I covered it in pale blue fondant. I then mixed the other colors to match the dots on the card. I cut the dots using a cookie cutter. They looked perfect...until I tried picking them up. They kept stretching out of shape. So I let them sit a while until they stiffened a bit, then I gently lifted them and placed them on the cake.

I intended to create concentric rows of dots, but the diminishing circumference meant that the dots didn't align properly. So I went with a single row around the top of the cake. I cut a large circle of white fondant for the center plaque and mixed some frosting and piping gel with blue color to pipe the personalized message.

The cake itself was three 10-inch rounds made using the white almond sour cream recipe, but instead of using white cake mix, I used French vanilla. It tasted wonderful. I filled the layers with Bavarian cream filling. I frosted the cake with white butter cream frosting. The fondant was vanilla flavored.

I was told that everyone thought the cake looked great and was delicious.
Blue Green Yellow Polka Dot Cake
Blue Green Yellow Polka Dot Cake

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly...

Snowy Egret on a Blustery Winter's Day

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,
I gotta love one man 'til I die,
So I can't help lovin' dat man of mine.

Excerpt from the song "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" by Jerome Kearn; lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, from the 1927 musical Show Boat!.

When visiting Lake Martin and surrounding areas, it's apparent that Mother Nature is always busy at work, even during the winter months. There's always something to be seen at the lake. Even on the coldest of days, fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly.

Here are some my favorite photographs taken during January, 2009.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Facebook Photo Shootout #1

I joined the Photo Shootout group on Facebook.

It's a group that Keith Thibodeaux started. Basically it's a friendly photo competition that works kind of like Iron Chef. On the scheduled date and time a "secret ingredient" will be announced. You then have 24 hours to shoot photos that somehow incorporate that secret ingredient.

The premier event began today at 7:00 a.m. CST. The secret ingredient was "reflection". It was fun to look around the house and think of ways to capture the reflection theme.

These are the four pictures I posted.



Dieting Can Be Fun!

Dieting Can Be Fun!

Verboten. South Beach Diet: Phase One.

Verboten.  South Beach Diet Phase One.

Dieting makes me grumpy.

Dieting makes me grumpy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Learning to use a new camera can be daunting. I've found that the person who is the most patient and willing to sit still while I fidget with different settings!

I also enjoy experimenting with Picnik's post-processing techniques. So I shot a few pics of myself in the mirror and had some fun.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January One With Nature

A good start to the new year.

January 1, 2009. The first day of the new year. I decided to spend it being one with nature.

I arrived at Lake Martin at around 1:00. Since it's a new year, I wanted to try something new - see the lake on foot. So I parked my car at the boat launch and headed down the road, traveling counterclockwise around the lake.

For those of you not familiar with the lake, you should know that you can drive around part of the lake, but much of the lake is off limits to motorized vehicles. But you can walk around the entire lake since it is surrounded by a levee, topped by a footpath. I walked it in a little under four hours. You can probably walk it in much less time if you walk fast and don't stop to enjoy the wildlife along the way.

At first, it was quite sunny. Saw a few turtles out sunning. Of course there were great white herons and anhingas out and about, as well as lots of beautiful cardinals and tiny, little yellow bellied birds that suffer from severe ADHD so I couldn't get any pics. A terrific flock of wood ducks was surveying the scene before landing in the lake not far from me. Saw a little blue heron at a distance. Oh, and a green-headed mallard took flight. Wish I had seen him before he took off.

Met up with a few people along the way, including someone I worked with about 10 years ago. Visited a bit with a friend who actually lives on Rookery Road. The day became overcast around 3:00 so by the time I reached the area where I usually see gators, there were none to be found. And, unfortunately, no pretty sunset to speak of.

I have to say that this was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable days that I've had in my life. Sometimes it's good to be alone.

Happy New Year!

Map of the Lake