Focus on Life

I’m starting the new year with a year long weekly photograph challenge called Focus on Life and hosted by Sally Russick.  Focus on Life is certainly what I need this year in more ways than just photographs.  This week’s challenge is:  The minimalist photograph – capture an image using a single subject.

I couldn’t decide between my two, so I’m posting them both.  Ironic that in a challenge titled Focus on Life, my actual focus is on death.  Which do you like best?

watch blog

The Watch? or

rose blog

The Rose?

Blooming White

I was looking about the yard today and noticed that most plants blooming were blooming white.  Grabbed my camera because I knew I had a post for my friend Lori’s May Flower challenge.  I participated last year if you count doing one post on the very last day.  Day 17 – so I have lots more chances this year.

See how many of my white blooms you can identify with only a photo and a little hint.  Answers will be at the end of the post — I don’t want anyone overwhelmed with curiosity.

aa.  a common summer garden plant.

bb.  when these bloom, you know it’s Derby time.

cc.  blooms before her big sister.

dd.  love the leaves in my scrambled eggs.

ee.  a old fashioned favorite from the viburnum family.

ff.  you may have sucked on the bloom for nectar as a child.

gg.  goes well with strawberries.

hh. makes a yummy cobbler.

ii.  unless you’re looking for fence posts, this is the only time of the year this tree is attractive.

Wow, don’t I have a lot of white in my yard.  I wonder if nature starts us out with white to get us ready for the dazzling colors of summer.

Here are the answers:

a. Geranium  b. Azalea  c. Sweetbay Magnolia  d. Common Thyme  e. Snowball bush  f. Honeysuckle  g. Rhubarb  h. Blackberry  i. Honey Locust

How many did you get?

Slow Start

I’m off to a slow start into my year of whipping myself into the best sixty-four I can be.  Yoga most everyday is my start.  This yoga DVD is an old standby for me: A.M. & P.M. Yoga – Conditioning For Weight Loss.  It became my favorite yoga workout back before DVD’s when you could only get it on VHS.  I’ve tried other routines, but keep coming back to this one.  It has two routines on it, but I only like the A.M.

Since the end of tax season, I’ve felt like a slug.  Last week I started feeling a spark of life in myself.  I think the yoga is helping.

Herbs

I planted my herbs!   Each year I fill a couple of pots with my favorite herbs and then enjoy them all summer long.  Too much neglect last year (and a hot, dry summer) killed my faithful perennials – rosemary, sage, thyme and tarragon.  I had to plant new ones.  In addition to the perennials, I fill in with several annuals.  You just can’t have too much parsley and basil.  This particular pot is right outside my front door, so it’s easy picking when I’m cooking.

heart

I love my herbs.  And it seems that my herbs love me too.  This heart within a hickory nut must have been buried by a squirrel, and was a nice surprise.

Planting a few pots with herbs doesn’t seem like much of a feat, but I can’t tell you how many little pots over the years have wasted away and died without being planted.  I love the planning and the purchasing of supplies.  It’s the execution stage that stops me.  Maybe I’m lazy or a procrastinator extraordinaire.  And the wanting things perfect malady which of course is just another form of procrastination.

Here’s what happens.  Say I want to organize my pantry.  First is a shopping trip to get all of the supplies needed which always includes containers and labels and whatever is new.   Back home, the job seems overwhelming, and I’m tired from all that shopping.  Where do I start?  I know the solution will come to me, and of course if I’m organizing, I want it perfect.  So, I put it off.  Now I have a messy pantry and a stack of new containers/labels/etc.  Crazy isn’t it.  I should have just jumped in and made some improvement!

Sadly this applies to most everything I do in my life, including this 64th year of improvement.  I have already been tempted by e-courses, books, journals, DVD’s, magazines, organizational systems for my plan, and on and on and on.  And of course, I MUST have some of this stuff — it’s totally ingrained.  Next blog post will be what items I’ve decided are essential.  Stay tuned.

Crazy Sexy Kitchen

I have been flipping and dreaming through Kris Carr’s new cookbook since it was published.  Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution is not only filled with yummy, healthy dishes, but the plating is elegant and the photography is beautiful.  Have I mentioned that food photography is something I want to study?  Add that to my ever growing list.  If you’re not familiar with Kris Carr, check her out here.

My daughter, Stefanie has been a vegetarian for over twelve years and is now mostly vegan.  When she came to visit, I pulled out the Kris Carr cookbook, and we, along with my son Matt (omnivore), went to work.

crab cakes

Hearts-of-palm style Crab Cakes with Remoulade.  I have been salivating over this recipe.  I love crab cakes, but worry about that “bottom feeder” thing.  I love hearts of palm.  And next to bearnaise sauce, remoulade is my favorite.  We couldn’t go wrong with this recipe.   It was definitely a winner!  Check it out on page 151.  Even if you don’t make the crab cakes, the sauce is worth it as a healthier version of remoulade.  As for the photography, I’m not happy with the parsley placement.  When everyone is ready to eat, staging takes a backseat.  And who knew smearing sauce is so difficult?

beets

Isn’t this a gorgeous dish!  Beetroot Ravioli with cashew cream cheese, page 193.  Not only is this delight vegan, but it’s also raw.  All this wonderful color must be good for you.  I had my doubts about making cream cheese from cashews.  Yet is was very tasty, and even more so the next day.  Red stained fingers were the only downside to eating this recipe.  Probably a small price for the health benefits.  By the way, that’s shaved raw asparagus tossed with olive oil and lemon juice on the side.

I could eat this way every day.  So, what stops me?  One is simply the learning curve of new recipes and new ingredients.  I can’t say time, because these recipes usually take no longer than the conventional versions.  Although I could open a package of cream cheese quicker than I could soak cashews and grind them.  But the biggest deterrent to healthy eating for me?

eggs

Anyone recognize these fellows?  They are “in season” right now.

 

Salisbury Cathedral

I fell in love with Salisbury Cathedral long before I saw it in person.  If you haven’t read Ken’s Follett’s book, The Pillars of the Earth, then you have a good read awaiting you.  The Pillars of the Earth is like a Gone with the Wind set in medieval times.  It takes you back in time to the 1200’s when the Salisbury Cathedral was built; and it takes you back with lots of drama.

My first trip to Salisbury Cathedral was in 2003.  We spent a week in a flat on St. Ann’s Street just a block or so from the Cathedral Close.  This November we spent another week on St. Ann’s Street even closer to the Cathedral.  There have also been several day trips to visit between 2003 and now.  Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of this Cathedral.  But I never tire of it.

It was built in just 38 years (1220-1258) and therefore is unique in that it is of one architectural style, early English Gothic.  An amazing feat!

The spire (tallest in the United Kingdom) and tower were added fifty years later.  In 2003, my daughter and I were visiting Old Sarum several miles outside of town.  We missed the last bus back to town, but were able to find our way back to St. Ann’s Street guided by the towering spire, just like it guided the pilgrims for centuries.

As you walk through the cloister, calm fills your soul.  It’s is my favorite place.

I’m fascinated with doors, and this is a great one.  So much to see at the Cathedral without even stepping inside.  However, I’ve never been able to capture on camera what awaits you inside.  You’ll just have to see it for yourself.