Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011, I'm looking at you in my rearview mirror.

Since I may not blog before we enter 2012, these are the thoughts I am leaving as my last for this year of 2011. 

Dear 2011,

You kinda sucked a little bit.  But you also evolved and made me see things differently so thanks for that.  I met new people, rekindled old friendships, created new memories, gained self confidence and discovery, changed my outlook on life in some ways, and generally have a greater appreciation for what God has blessed me with.  My wish for 2012 is first and foremost, health and happiness for all of my friends and family.  2011 was a challenge for many of them, to say the least.  It saddens me to see people struggle, especially those who I care about so much.  So I often pray for strength not just for myself but for others as well.  I bid you a fond farewell and am hoping for a 2012 filled with smiles.

Love,
Nicole

With that being said, I need to give a shout out to someone special......my cousin Rachel.
 
Rachel Slick, you kicked 2011's ass. 

Rachel has continued to inspire me and reading her blog posts made me take a step back and really think about what is important and where to focus my energy when I was having bad days of my own.   I mean, dude... she had a double lung transplant.  A DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT!!!  Do you know anyone who has had this done and told by Hopkins it was probably the best transplant they've ever seen?  No.  (well, unless you know Rachel, haha).  I could go on and on but you should just read the blog, which is written by Rachel and her husband Jonny.  Seriously, go read it.  I also have to give a shout out to Rachel's sister Mary too.  Both are just the sweetest people you'll ever meet.  Every year I do the Great Strides walk for them to raise money to try and find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

So anyway, just a few days ago we had our annual family Christmas in Shippensburg, PA and it was the first time I'd seen Rachel since before she had her transplant (which was in February).  Rachel told me that some comments I had made to her through their blog and Facebook during her recovery really helped her and I didn't realize to what extent.  It made me feel so wonderful to have given any form of encouragement to someone who needed it.   It also goes to show you....you can't always tell if someone is having a tough day so don't hold back any kind words you might be thinking!  That person might appreciate them more than you think.

Here is a photo of Rachel and I from the family Christmas:


Rachel and Jonny

Group shot although a few couldn't make it that day and are missing :(


Merry Christmas everyone, and here's to a fabulous 2012

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Tannenbaum O Tannenbaum

I meant to make an entry pertaining to our family outing to the Christmas tree farm earlier than today but hey.  I'm here now.  So a few weeks ago we went to get our Christmas trees.  It is a tradition that we go as a family even though we don't all live in one house anymore.  People have their own different traditions, and this is one of ours.  It's always fun and I always take my camera (of course).  This year Lila came with us!  She had a great time and even made a new friend (human, not dog).  Everyone seems to love Lila and she draws many compliments.  One time I was out walking her and a woman driving by stopped her car just to tell me how pretty Lila is. 

It was a beautiful day and a good time was had by all.  Here are a few images from the day:


Lila and friend
Young love
Taken by my mom.  She snapped all kinds of shots while I cut my tree down.  At one point I looked up and she was laying on the ground snapping left and right shouting, "I'm into it!!!!!"  We had a laugh.
Also taken by my mom - post tree cutting.  My hair got caught in the branch.
Sprouting
Truckin'
Successful family tree outing!








Wednesday, December 7, 2011

there at the seaside, 5th of December

Tori Amos show recap:

It was awesome.
That's really all that needs to be said. 
There was no bag checking at the door so I had my camera inside the venue as I'd hoped.  I did not have my zoom lens so the images were from afar although we did have quite good seats. 

Great weather, great dinner with my great friend Mandee, and great show.  All around it was just....you guessed it.....GREAT!

Here are a few shots from the night:

Opening act whose name I don't know but his voice was very similar to Jeff Buckley's

Creative angle?  Yes.  Also, it helps to tilt your camera when people's heads are in your viewfinder and there's no way around it




Apollon Musag├Ęte Quartett - these guys were very impressive


We walked past the White House during the stroll from the Metro to the venue

Here is a video from the show of Tori playing Winter with the quartet.  I wish you could really appreciate how amazing this was in concert.  The video portrays it to a point, but hearing it in person was just so lovely.  For non Tori people, this song is played with strings on the studio album and this tour is the first time she has ever had strings play with her live.  So my excitement level was pretty elevated. 

Another one of my favorites from the night was the Tubular Bells/God/Running Up That Hill medley. 

Another notch in my belt loop for Tori shows.  Next time around I think I'll have reached the baker's dozen. 











Sunday, December 4, 2011

you know that apple green ice cream can melt in your hands

It's Tori time. 

Tomorrow, that is.  At good old Constitution Hall in DC.  I've been there a number of times, mainly for a Tori show.  I anticipate fabulousness and know that I will not be disappointed.  I've seen a lot of shows over the years and if you ask me who captures the audience the most?  I'm sure you can guess what my answer is. 

Never have I been in a concert where it's so quiet, that in certain song moments you could hear a pin drop.  I've often just sat there mesmerized.  Seeing Tori is truly an experience.  In one show you can see her tear shit up, joke and laugh, and feel the raw emotion that just bleeds from her.  She's an odd one, no doubt, but she's one hell of a performer. 

Last week I finally got some framed art hung on the wall (the hanging courtesy of Michelle) and I decided to use that as the image for today.  This piece was what Tori signed the first time I met her.  I really didn't say much because it happened on a whim and I was a little starstruck.  I do recall thinking how tiny she was though....and her hands were warm, I remember that because it was cold outside.  I had on a long coat and upon meeting her she greeted me with her hands and I thought, "she's warm, tiny, angelic, and radiant". 



I am hoping to have returned from tomorrow's show with some images to share.  I hope the kind folks who work the doors at Constitution Hall don't pick through the giant lady purse seeking my camera as they have not in past years.  Keep your fingers crossed for me! 

The entry title today comes from one of my favorite Tori songs which is an old b-side and if interested, you can hear it here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baking has begun

I love to bake. 

The one baked good recipe I've made the most is hands down Vegan Banana Bread.  It's not your typical banana bread and I actually don't follow the recipe.  I've changed it a bunch of times to make it to my own taste.  It calls for margarine (not butter since it's vegan) but I use real butter.  When I bake, I have to use real butter.  I'm sorry, there's just no other way to do it.  So really, it's not even remotely vegan the way I make it, but the linked recipe is what I use for the base.  In the last dozen or so loaves, I've been adding Saigon Cinnamon and it seems to go over very well with people. 

Since I had 4 very ripe bananas, I decided to make two loaves tonight.  I've been meaning to start my holiday baking anyway so why not banana bread to kick it off and take a few photos while I'm at it?  At some point there may be a self portrait while doing Christmas baking wearing my special Christmas apron.  I have kind of a mini obsession with aprons and my mom got me a very pretty one a few years back that is meant to be worn this time of year. 

My apartment smells like a giant loaf of baked banana, also known as heaven.  On a side note, did you know that Paula Deen makes fudge with Velveeta?  It's true.  I own the cookbook.  The recipe calls for 1/2 pound of Velveeta, two sticks of butter, and two 16oz packages of confectioners sugar (and a few other ingredients).  But...seriously?  You may as well just eat this fudge while driving yourself to the hospital because you'll inevitably end up on a gurney one way or another.

Here's the bread makin' :






Happy December!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Butternut squash and a couple sunsets

I didn't take many photos on Thanksgiving, but I did get one of food.  Stuffing, butternut squash, turkey.  Foreground to background.  This was at my mom's house.  She makes this great butternut squash dish with dried cranberries, baby spinach and sauteed onions.  I'm not sure what else is in there, but it's good and that's what you see in this image.




After Thanksgiving, we had a couple very similar sunsets two days in a row.  The first one was on Black Friday.  This was in a library parking lot.  That small black spot is an airplane....



The next sunset was the day after.  Friends Thanksgiving (otherwise known as Friendsgiving) was underway and someone pointed out the pink sky.  Obviously I grabbed the camera:


When I see a pink sunset, I always think of Tori Amos' album Under the Pink which happens to be my favorite.  I'll be seeing her live in one week so maybe Mother Nature is telling me to listen to that album in preparation for the show.   Now, if I can get the Nikon into that show, I would be ecstatic.  I guess in a week's time, I'll know.





Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Thanksgiving week already?

I don't know about you, but I feel like 5 minutes ago it was July and now Thanksgiving is only a few days away?  Time definitely flies as you get older, but I think sometimes the confusion as to the time of year has to do with how odd Maryland weather can be.

We generally have 4 very distinct seasons which is nice!  It doesn't normally start to really get cold until sometime in November.  However this year, on Halloween weekend we got snow.  It was Saturday October 29th and I woke up to cold, rainy weather which eventually turned into snow and sleet.  Yet today, November 20th, I wore flip flops and while I did have on a thin sweater, I didn't even need a jacket. 

Since Thanksgiving is here and the holidays are upon us (could the local radio stations at least wait until Black Friday to start the 24 hour Christmas music?), I decided to share a few images from Thanksgiving last year at my mom's house.  My mom does such a fabulous job with seasonal decor in the house.  She knows how to make a house feel like a home.  I took a few shots of her branches with strands of lights, and for good measure,  one of my mom and I (self taken per my usual) which happens to be one of my favorite pics of us.  The one thing I have gotten the most compliments over the years is my smile and I definitely get that from her.  Just one of many traits I could be blessed with from my mother. 

Not just at Thanksgiving, but all year there is always something to be thankful for. 











Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Library = Christmas

I go to the library on a regular basis.  Mainly because in a certain MD county, it is free to take out dvds and you get them for 3 days at a time.  Some items you get for 7 days, if it's a tv series rather than a film.  Between dvds, books AND cds, it's a good thing I carry around my Wilco tote bag for such needs.  It compacts into a ball and has a little pocket built into the bag itself so you can tuck the bag fabric in there.  

Anyway, yesterday I had items due so I quickly scanned all necessary sections for new items to check out.  In the way of music, I snagged the DCFC Codes and Keys album, Wye Oak (which I'm loving), and the newest Ryan Adams (which I'm not loving...it's a total snooze).  I also obtained a few books, one of which is The Help.  I have heard great things about the film but will not watch the film unless I've read the book.  Started reading it last night but apparently 11:30pm isn't a great time of day to begin a new book because I only got through the first paragraph and fell asleep. 

I haven't been shooting nearly enough images lately (shameful) and tonight I was determined to make an entry so you get to see what movies I checked out yesterday.  I put in The Other Guys last night and was excited since the back of it says, "The funniest Will Ferrell movie since Anchorman".  Yeah, that guy was incorrect.

Here is the dvd stack.  It's a pretty random assortment.  Tonight I think it's gonna be Trainspotting.  Seen it before but it's been awhile.  I remember it to be a bit disturbing, mainly the worst toilet in the world part and the baby in the crib scene.  I do recall never wanting to ever ever do heroin after seeing it the first time.  I will reassess after tonight.  (whether I enjoyed the movie that is, not whether I'd ever do heroin......obviously). 



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Music is my medicine

I decided after all the years of keeping concert ticket stubs, that I would make it into art to hang in my apartment.  It felt like I had a lot more than what actually appears in the 3 frames they fit into.  Of course, I know some stubs are misplaced because I know every show I've been to and after sorting through them I know what stubs are missing.  The ones missing in action are probably in another purse or wallet along with miscellaneous bobby pins, ballpoint pens, and lip balms.  Inevitably those are the items I find when I change a purse (which isn't that often because it's kind of a hassle). 

Initially my plan was to just make one large frame of the stubs, but then I thought better of that because multiple frames would be more random.  Plus I am going to incorporate the tour posters that have been rolled up in tubes for years into this large collection of wall art.  I would take a 'before' shot of the wall but...really?  It's a white wall. 

Here are a couple shots of some framed stubs.  Plus one of me with Pete Yorn.



epic

That little blue ticket is what got me my spot 1st in line to get the Tori Amos tickets for the Aug 8, 1998 show.  Remember when people used to actually go to a Ticketmaster location and wait in line?  Well, the night before tickets went on sale people were able to go get their little blue ticket which would hold their place in line the next day.  You can see that being 1st in line paid off because I got 2nd row center.  Also notice how inexpensive that ticket was.  $29.50 plus $3.50 service charge.  In less than a month I'll be seeing Tori again but the ticket cost twice as much as it was in 98. 

311 Halloween show last year.  I wish I had gotten an actual ticket rather than the piece of paper.

Pete Yorn signed my ticket

Then we took a picture.  I don't recall him being as short as he looks there.  I believe he was halfway perched upon a barstool.

The only time I saw Pearl Jam.  If you don't include Tibetan Freedom.









Thursday, November 3, 2011

Drive in drive out

I used to just drive around all the time and have fun getting lost seeing whatever came across my path.  This was before I was so into photography, but I have a lot of neat memories from some of those drives.  One time I was with an old friend, Adam.  I think it was 1997 or 1998.  We were just cruising around listening to probably either 311 or Pearl Jam.  We ended up somewhere in Pennsylvania.  It was in the summer time.  We'd been driving for awhile and out of nowhere on this country road, we had to stop because there was a river that had overflown up onto the road.  It was literally impassable.  We got out for a minute to just look it over and then thought....hmm, well I guess we aren't going that way anymore!

I could never understand how people don't like driving around on a nice day, windows open, music up.  Man, that's heaven.

So tonight I was on my way someplace and stopped to take a few shots of the sunset.  I'm glad I have my camera with me all the time now.  You never know what you might see and think, "damn I wish I had my camera".  Not that this is by any means an A+ sunset photo, but it struck me so..I stopped to take it. 

I'm reminded that I should just drive around with no purpose a little more often.  If anyone ever wants to join me, I have a stellar music collection to be played in the car.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My dog is cooler than yours

It's a chilly Sunday morning here and it looked like Lila was in need of some warmth.  So I broke out the Hello Kitty blanket.  It used to be mine but once it became a little tattered, Lila inherited it. 

I should mention that no dog has ever made me laugh so much out loud like she does.  If you have heard someone say dogs are just people with fur coats it's totally true.  Lila has the neatest quirks and while sometimes she drives me nuts, I would be so lonely without her! 

Back to the blanket....so, I tell her to sit on her bed which she does, and I position the blanket on her.  She will pretty much stay where and when I tell her to and allow me to take a picture.  If I send Christmas cards this year, those on my list will probably open the envelope to see Lila donning some sort of holiday accessory while sitting pretty for my Nikon.

So here she is with a casually draped fleece blanket.  Since I took the photo, she has dragged the blanket to the middle of the living room floor and brought along a few Ugg boots for snuggling purposes.

This.....is why my dog is cooler than yours.

Friday, October 28, 2011

From the window

Taken from my living room window the other day.  The tiny dot at the top of the power line photo is an airplane passing by.  I always wonder where people are traveling to and from when I see planes in the sky.

This is Halloween weekend and the weather forecast has snow in it for tomorrow.  Really, Maryland?  How about let's keep that at a halt for now?  The fall colored leaves are still on the trees.  It's not time yet for the white stuff by any stretch of the imagination.  I didn't really want to be cold in my awesome 80's aerobic instructor costume but I'll manage.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Outtake - wind and long hair. It's not a good combination.

Here's one image from my day trip to OC.  As you can see, not ideal conditions for photo taking.  It's basically a tornado of hair. 

Good times!

More later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

OC in October

Here are a few images from my day trip to Ocean City last Saturday...

Seacrets flag

Boardwalk toward the inlet

Fat Cats - every summer my sister and I sit and watch this guy do airbrushing

Rides

Natty!

Dad observing the Corvettes

Corvette parade