Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Wishing you a holiday season that's bright and beautiful, and full of joy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday Wings

Time to share some recent winged wonders! Hummingbirds are gone for now, and I miss them. I still have photos of them to process, so you may see some photos soon. We have so many other birds to watch here, and it's been wonderful. Lots of photographic challenges, too:-)

Red-tailed Hawk
A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) who was actually out in the middle of the road eating roadkill rabbit. There were a pair, and I think they were taking turns flying in and eating. I think they were eating it there because they didn't kill it, so perhaps didn't know how to carry it off the road (just a guess). Made for a cool sighting, though. Can't believe the way s/he was able to perch here!

Pine Siskin
This is a little Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus). We've put up thistle feeders for the first time ever, and have attracted lots of these little cuties. They're just about as fierce as the hummingbirds, though, always squabbling and fast movers. However, they really don't like leaving the thistle, so I can get pretty close with my camera.

White-crowned Sparrow
A female White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) atop sagebrush.

From this summer, a Northern White Skipper (Heliopetes ericetorum).

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Not a great shot, but this was taken through a window on a dark, rainy/snowy day. Believe s/he is a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) who landed in the tree for a breather.

West Coast Lady Butterfly
Finally, this is the last butterfly that I photographed this year, a West Coast Lady (Vanessa annabella). I was so surprised to spot her, because I hadn't known these beauties were in Utah, too. Maybe she followed us from Cali;-)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Sharing - Art - Nancy's Sculptures

border collie dog sculpture
I don't do this nearly often enough, however, part of this blog is supposed to be about art so here we go:-) Today, I wanted to share some of my mom's (Nancy's) recent sculptures because, well, they're just so darn amazing to me! Yeah, I'm her daughter and biggest fan, but just ask her, and she'll tell you I'm her worst critic. I'm a bit... ummm... shall we say anal? ;-) Oh well - I do it with my own art, too. I know there's no such thing as perfect, but doesn't stop me from trying.

The first sculpture I'm sharing is a custom dog that she just finished. She did this for Wendy and Charley, the owners of Critter Corner. They recently made space for some of Nancy's pieces in their shop. So, as a thank you, she did this sculpture of their 14-year-old Border Collie, Katy. We delivered it yesterday, and they seemed thrilled with it and the likeness. Even Katy gave a sniff of approval:-) I'm including a couple of the photos it was based from.

This next piece is the first regular horse my mom has done. It's a Gypsy Vanner foal. She's done carousel horses before, but this little one is more 3-D and realistic.

gypsy vanner foal, horse sculptureOh, and this cutie is the first little girl that she's done:

girl and puppyThe last two are boxes that she's done recently - these are wonderful for storing lightweight keepsakes! I know, because I have my own:-)

barn owl sculpture
cheetah sculptureI'm always in awe that these pieces started out as a lump of clay! That, and it would seem no subject is off limits for my mom. If you happen to be interested in a custom sculpture of your own, give us a holler:-) You can also find out more about the non-custom pieces above by clicking on the photos. Hope you enjoyed this art stroll, and stay tuned for more art and photos to come!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Southwest Splendor - Fall Foliage

When you think of autumn colors, you probably don't think of the high desert Southwest. However, we get some gorgeous fall foliage here! I love photographing the leaves as the sun shines through them. I also love that it gives me a chance to do more abstract photography, which is a definite change for me. Most of all, I just love fall, and the changing of the seasons:-) Hope you enjoy this little leaf journey.

P.S. The last photo is a visitor that we've had around the property recently - a truly awe-inspiring sight! The photo was taken through a window angled down through slats into the shade, but I think you'll get an idea of the beauty...

yellow fall leaves

north rim, grand canyon
Taken at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was our first time visiting, absolutely gorgeous and amazing even though it wasn't the best photo time.

desert gray fox

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Best Apple Pie Ever!

Way past time to update my blog, so thought I'd share a favorite recipe. This is the best apple pie! It's not a claim I make lightly, and it's not my recipe, so I can't take credit. I found this recipe years ago in Country magazine (looked it up to see, and it's from 1994). It is sooooooo delicious! Very bad, but yummy:-) I'm no Martha Stewart, as you can see from my crust, and it's not necessarily the prettiest pie, but looks are deceiving. The heavy whipping cream takes this apple pie to the next level. If you're not a sugar junkie, you could reduce some of the sugar in the filling; as you can see it's a lot. Otherwise, follow the recipe, and you're in for a treat!

apple pie
German Apple Pie

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 cups sliced peeled tart apples
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Whipped cream, optional

In a small bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in the shortening until crumbly. Add vanilla. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Roll out pastry to fit a 9-in. pie plate. Transfer pastry to pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond edge of pie plate; flute edges.
For filling, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon; sprinkle 3 tablespoons into crust. Layer with half of the apples; sprinkle with half of the remaining sugar mixture. Repeat layers. Pour cream over all.
Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° bake for 55-60 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Yield: 8 servings.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Little Happiness

How To Be Happy
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.

Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everything, and everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.

Don't take yourself too seriously. Don't think that somehow you should be protected from misfortune that befalls other people.

You can't please everybody. Don't let criticism worry you.

Don't let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself.

Do the things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.

Never borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than real ones.

Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish jealousy, enmity, grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.

Have many interests. If you can't travel, read about new places.

Don't hold post-mortems. Don't spend your time brooding over sorrows or mistakes. Don't be one who never gets over things.

Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.

Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.


Saw this on a forum today, and liked it so much, I thought I’d post it here with a photo of this morning’s sunrise:-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Wings - Finally!

Rufous Hummingbird
"Uplift!" - Rufous Hummingbird

Time flies;-) I will be a better blogger, I will be a better blogger... I do have some new photos to share of an old subject for me - hummingbirds! We finally have enough hummingbirds coming to our feeders here that I've been able to start photographing them again. Good thing, because I am seriously out of practice. We have Black-chinneds and Rufous here. The Rufous have just started coming through (and upsetting everyone because they really are the feistiest), while the Black-chinneds were the first to arrive after our feeders went up. Maybe it's the out of practice thing, but to me, they both seem to be faster than the Anna's. We had some Black-chinneds and a few Rufous in Cali, but I rarely caught them with my camera. So, I'm determined to get them now. I really want the Bc's full throat flash - that purple is my favorite color! In the meantime, here are some shots from the past week, and I hope you enjoy them:-) I'm so happy to have my favorite subject back!

Rufous Hummingbird photograph
"Tough Guy"

"Ready to Rumble!" - Rufous vs. Black-chinned (they never quit fighting!)

male Black-chinned Hummingbird
"Incoming!" - male Black-chinned, see that purple?!

female Black-chinned Hummingbird picture
"Hover" - female Black-chinned

Rufous Hummingbird photo
"Attack Mode!" - one very feisty Rufous!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Wings

I have several recent sightings from different locales to share. I swear, I spent more time trying to id everyone than I did editing the photos, lol! I am still not positive on every identification, so if anyone has corrections, please leave a comment. My eyes are going buggy... ;-)

Hunt's Bumble Bee, bombus huntii
"Hang Tight" - Hunt's Bumble Bee (Bombus huntii), spotted in the Johnson Canyon area of southern Utah.

Checkered White Butterfly
"Spotted" - I think this is a Checkered White Butterfly (Pontia protodice), the markings seemed closer than the Western White. Also spotted in Johnson Canyon, and I think s/he was a bit weary.

"Like a Rock" - My guess is Western Tailed-Blue (Cupido amyntula) on this little cutie. Spotted in northern Arizona near Jacob Lake, so about 8,000' elevation.

Small Wood Nymph, Cercyonis oetus
"Woodland Nymph" - Small Wood Nymph (Cercyonis oetus), also seen near Jacob Lake. There were lots of these little ones flitting around, almost impossible to catch, but one finally landed and stayed for a minute - yay!

"Bitty Blues" - Arctic Blue (Plebejus glandon) is my closest guess for this pair. I'm not certain, but I'm basing it on the wing marks. Spotted up in Cedar Breaks National Park, elevation 10,350'!

Bombus nevadensis, Nevada Bumblebee
"Look Out Bee-low!" - I believe this is a Nevada Bumble Bee (Bombus nevadensis), also spotted at Cedar Breaks. Still have to id the flower, which I think is a type of penstemon. However, I'm saving the flowers for another day, so keep an eye out:-)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Snake

I tell you, there's nothing like an unexpected sighting, especially when it happens right outside your door! I had mentioned to my mom that she should toss the fresh corn husks from our dinner out for the critters here. She went out the back door, tossed one over the railing, and the wind took it down. She happened to look where it landed, and realized she'd hit this snake with it, lol! He froze, she called me, and we stood on the deck trying to determine what sort of snake it was, since half of him was under sagebrush. After some minutes, he finally moved, and we could see he was safe (well, except to all the little critters who are coming to get the seed). I believe he's a Great Basin Gopher Snake. He slithered off, I went inside, but then thought I'd check one more time, and was lucky enough to catch him again. Had one chance at a sunlight shot, which is the last one here.

It may sound strange, but it was an honor to watch him in his stillness. I've written about snakes here before, Snake Medicine, and was quite happy to have one show up in my life again:-) And while the idea of him hunting the little creatures who come here for seed isn't as appealing, I feel it's all part of the circle of life, and he needs to eat, too.

gopher snake
Great Basin Gopher Snake
gopher snake face

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Wings and Others

Sharing some photos taken today in our "backyard" today. The internet went down for a while, so I escaped outside:-) We have a lot of birds and little critters coming through, but some of them are so fast, they've been a real challenge to photograph. I thought hummingbirds were hard! The birds hadn't been coming to our newly placed feeder, so we started putting some seed on the ground. As you can imagine, everyone has been enjoying it, and we're enjoying watching the activity!

male house finch
A very handsome male House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) who even sang for a bit.

female house finch
Mrs. House Finch, who didn't mind my presence that much - the finches were the calmest visitors.

A Juniper Titmouse (Baeolophus griseus) before s/he flew down to the seed. These little birds are so cute, make such an assortment of noises, and move so darn fast! By the time my camera focuses, they're usually somewhere else.

jumiper titmouse
This is the same Juniper Titmouse - can't believe I actually caught him/her so close!

Now it's a good thing these next two little critters are so darn cute. They've been eating my newly planted container plants, and once they've discovered they like something, nothing seems to deter them. I only use organic methods, and right now my garden smells like an Italian restaurant with all the powdered garlic and other spices. Whether or not I get any tomatoes will remain to be seen - I'll have to try to find some netting or something. Like I said, it's a good thing these guys are adorable and so entertaining to watch:-)

uinta chipmunk
Uinta Chipmunk? (Neotamias umbrinus)

white tailed antelope squirrel
White-tailed Antelope Squirrel (Ammospermophilus leucurus)

Still have some more subjects I'm trying to get good photos of, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Evolution of a Sunset

No Wednesday Wings this week, but I wanted to share a recent sunset with you. I'm so happy to see the gorgeous sunsets and cloud formations here in southern Utah again! I can't tell you how much I appreciate them. Not only that, but I also have an addiction to photographing the skies here. I haven't done much landscape photography, but something about the clouds and cliffs here compels me to keep trying to capture them through my lens. This sunset was last Sunday. I was outside a little early for it, but was fascinated by the clouds. I had a feeling there might be a good sunset, and didn't want to miss it. So, this is the evolution of that sunset. From start to finish, it was only 26 minutes - some of the most dramatic color changes were only three minutes apart. Mother Nature paints really fast:-) Hope you enjoy!

southern utah clouds

southwest sunset
southern utah sunset