Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

April 30, 2012

The Long Way Home

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 5:46 pm
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The last full day of our cruise was a day at sea.  The ship departed Mexico Wednesday night around 10 pm, and all day Thursday was spent sailing back to Miami.  It was a day spent relaxing in the sun.

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I tried to take pictures of the sparkly water around me.  This is the shot that came out best:
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The previous night, we also found the last of the “towel animals” that cabin stewards often make.  Our towel creations were questionable as to what animal they were supposed to be, but they still amused us.  We found this fellow Wednesday night:
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I made a few modifications with one of my souvenir cups.
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I called him “Nessie.”

After our last dinner on board, our waiter for the week, Marlon, kindly posed for a picture with the girls.
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We pulled into Port in Miami early Friday morning.
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We had breakfast on the ship, then waited for debarkation.  The process of getting off the ship, claiming luggage and going through customs seemed to go rather smoothly.  It was the rest of our day that was not!

We considered looking into an excursion to pass the time before our 3:30 flight home, but none of the offerings seemed all that interesting to all four of us, and there was a concern about being back to the airport on time.   So, we prepared ourselves for waiting around in the airport for a long time.  In addition to the long wait in the airport, we had a long layover scheduled in Chicago and we were not scheduled to arrive back at our local airport until 12:40 am.

That day was made to feel even longer when we missed our flight, despite being in the airport about 5 hours ahead of time.  The gate printed on our boarding pass did not match the actual gate our flight left from.  While I realize now that it was apparently our responsibility to keep checking on gate numbers once we arrived at the airport, I was very disappointed in the customer service we received at the time we realized our error.  We were quite rudely re-directed to rebooking, where we were just barely booked on the next plane out, leaving 2 hours later.

Arrival in Chicago involved chasing all over the airport to find which gate our connection departed from, and then finding that flight was delayed an hour.

By the time we walked into our home in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I believe it was about 2:30am.  That was definitely  the long way home.  I swear I am not making this up, but as I drove the last half mile to our house, this song was on the radio:

With the exception of this very long day Friday (and into Saturday morning), this was a top-notch vacation for me.  How wonderful not to cook, clean, drive or make a more difficult decision than “what should I choose from the buffet?”  How awesome to experience the beauty of Key West and to spend time swimming in Mexico with one of the most intelligent mammals.  How perfect to have a vacation that contented each member of this family and hopefully created memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank you, Carnival Imagination!

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April 28, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things…

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 5:39 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m taking a little break from the story of my cruise vacation to bring you this month’s photo hunt results.  Well, it isn’t a complete break, as you are about to see, but this isn’t an “official” cruise post.  I’ve had lots of submissions for the hunt rolling in today, and I hope to get around to seeing them all this weekend.  As usual, if you had planned to participate in the hunt and just forgot, go ahead and take the rest of the weekend to finish it up!  It isn’t likely that I’ll get the wrap-up posted before Monday night anyway.

In the blurb that I saw in the pingback when Robin posted her photo hunt, she mentioned that people aren’t technically things, when all along I had planned to use a picture of my girls in this post.  She’s right, of course, so how about smiles on my girls?
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This is from the day we boarded our ship – I took this picture with my phone when my mom texted me saying that she’d love to see the looks on their faces.

Favorite food!  So hard to choose!  I love many kinds of food.  One of my dinners on board the ship was quite delicious and prompted me to take its photo, therefore it gets to be my favorite food for this post.
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Lobster tail and grilled shrimp!  Yummy!

As long as I am still taunting you with vacation photos, here’s another favorite:
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The sea.  I always long to be near it.  Whether it is the wild and cold Atlantic Ocean or the warm, turquoise Carribbean Sea, the smell of a salty breeze puts me in heaven.

For my other favorites, I needed to head to my archives.  To go along with that beautiful blue water, how about a lovely blue margarita?
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Margaritas are one of my favorite summertime drinks.  They aren’t always blue, depending on the ingredients I choose, but they are always delicious!

This next picture gets you a favorite sport and a favorite hobby all in one shot!
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I made this quilt square a couple years ago for the quilt of a retiring teacher at my school.  Just so happens she loves my favorite team too.  Quilting and baseball – there’s a combination I bet you never thought you’d see.

For my final favorite, you knew I’d have to include a flower picture didn’t you?  Some of my favorites are not in bloom yet this year, so I chose a picture from last year:
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I just love bearded irises.  When they are in bloom, I see them each time I pull into or out of my driveway.  Sometimes, when one of my daughters is in the car with me, I screech “IRISES” in a silly voice, just because I can’t help my silly self.

I guess this time around I can’t participate in my bonus shot, since technically my whole post is my bonus!  I’m really enjoying the favorites I’ve seen so far, and I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the posts.  Keep ’em coming!

April 25, 2012

Off the Florida Keys…

… there’s a place called Cozumel.  Okay, I paraphrase.   That’s from the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo”, yet another song that invaded my head during the cruise.  And Cozumel is waaaaayyyyyy off the keys.  435 miles to be exact, but I’ve been using lyrics for my post titles this week in keeping with my cruise soundtrack idea and I didn’t have a song that exactly fit our visit to Mexico, so I tweaked!

It was a cloudy but warm day when we arrived at Puerto Maya, the Cozumel port where our ship docked.
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I thought this picture of the ship in port gave a nice perspective of the size of the ship since you can see people disembarking in the shot.

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We met our guides who took us to one of the highlights of this trip for me, swimming with a dolphin at Chankannaub Park.  Hubby wasn’t interested in participating in this activity, so lucky for me he was able to stand on the dock and take plenty of pictures.  I’ve put a sampling of this wonderful experience into a slideshow for you:

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The girls and I were absolutely delighted with “Frida” our 17-year-old female dolphin who entertained us and swam with us for about an hour.  If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to have this experience, don’t hesitate!  Do it!

After our swim with Frida and her trainer, we had time to explore Chankannaub Park.  It seemed relatively quiet, perhaps due to the cloudy skies, but I was able to wander around peacefully and take some more photos.

Tropical flowers:
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a very noisy bird I’d love some help identifying:
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And a lovely beach I could have easily been convinced to spend some time relaxing on if rain showers didn’t seem to be threatening:
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After our delightful visit to Chankannaub, we did some souvenir (and tequila!) shopping in Puerta Maya before our return to the ship.  Meghan even tried bargaining down a few prices on some of her purchases!

Cozumel was the last stop before our return to Miami after a full day at sea on Thursday.  I’m sure I’ll be back later this week to wrap up our trip.

Don’t forget to work on your Favorites Photo Hunt!

April 23, 2012

It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere…

That seems to be a theme around Key West, which was our first stop on our cruise.  Jimmy Buffett, I think, spent several years living in Key West.  His orginal  “Margaritavilla Cafe” is in Key West and the slogan “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” appears in many places.  Our stop in Key West was brief, but there was plenty of time to get a feel for the beauty and make some fun discoveries about this southernmost piece of the continental USA.  He actually originally recorded this song with Alan Jackson in Key West:

I even bought a sparkly t-shirt with that written on it.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Our boat docked early in Key West, and most folks had breakfast while in port, except for the person who fell victim to the southern version of a sea gull (not sure what their official name is):
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This person was silly enough to put her breakfast down at an outside table, then go back to the buffet for a beverage.  Those of us in view of the windows saw the gull help itself to pancakes, sausage and anything else on that plate!

While waiting for my family to be ready to go ashore in Key West, I took some pictures of the beautiful port.

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Once we were ashore, this was the first time I was able to get the full wide view of our ship.

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We spent some time scouring the shops for souvenirs,

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enjoying the tropical warmth and flowers,
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learning facts that were new to me,
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(Did you know that US Route 1 travels up the entire east coast of this country? I’ve travelled on it in Maine. I had no idea it continued all the way through the Keys!)

and visiting the southernmost point of the continental U.S.A.
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There were a lot of tourists standing in line here to have their picture taken with this monument; I opted not to, and instead stood on this jetty just around the corner:
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This house is the southernmost home in the USA (they make a big deal about this “southernmost” business in Key West!)
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There was some unusual “artwork” in Key West too:
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We made one more fun stop on this island:

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Yes that’s Sarah being a really good sport for her mom!
Since this post is already so photo-heavy, I thought I’d put a few of my favorites from the conservatory into a slideshow. Interestingly, the birds were more cooperative this day than the butterflies!

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I hope you enjoyed your visit to Key West!  I definitely did!

April 22, 2012

Cruise with me, baby…

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 5:06 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Where to begin, where to begin?  I’ve got so much to tell you about from the past week I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts into possible recognizable blog posts.

Should I just start at the beginning and work my way through the week?  That seems what a logical, sensible type of blogger would do.  I’m not often known for my logic and sensibilities however.

I could try to come up with a theme for each post – flowers, birds, etc – but I doubt I could be that organized.

I had this idea to try to create a very cool slideshow with all the music that has been playing through my head since Monday.  Even if I could do it, I imagine I wouldn’t be able to share it easily on this blog.

The part about the music playing through my head is real.  My sister and I had this joke or game between us while we were growing up called, “Lyrics for any occasion” because it seemed one of us could always come up with a song to suit almost any situation.  While four sleepy-eyed travellers sat in our local airport very early Monday morning awaiting our flight to the city where we would board our ship, I called this song up on YouTube on my phone just to try to amuse and wake up my daughters:

And so began my own game of “Lyrics for any occasion” for the duration of our cruise.  I wrote the songs down as they popped into my head on a piece of Carnival notepad paper, sure that I could work these songs into my blog posts to help give you the full picture of where my head was at for the week.  I don’t, however, wish to jam up your browsers with piles of YouTube videos when you try to read my blog.  Like I said, I’m still figuring out just how to present my posts.  Maybe I’ll pop a few particularly apropos videos at the end of my posts and scatter a few lines of lyrics throughout.

Hmm, my wordcount reads 341 at this point and I still haven’t shared a single picture. I should remedy that.  How about a look around our ship, the Carnival Imagination?  That seems like as good a place as any to get started.
This is “the Atruim”; it is what you see when you first board the ship and it is in the middle of everything, with elevators to take you everywhere:
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The Lido and Promenade decks where you’ll find the pool, bars, food, hot tubs, and music:
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The Serenity Lounge, where only folks over 21 are allowed – the place to go when you need to get away from all the “happy” children:
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The Dynasty Lounge, one of several places to relax and see a show:
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Lounge near the Spirit Dining Room, where we had dinner each night:
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(Hmmm… I think I know those people… 😉 )

Carnival Water Works, the on-board mini-waterpark:
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Our little stateroom, where we spent little time:
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In just about every place on this ship, it was always possible to get one of these:
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The drink of the day in the souvenir cup! I, er, lost count, *hic*, of how many of these I had  😉

It was a fabulous week of relaxing, eating but not cooking, traveling but not driving, exploring and discovering.  I’ve got much more to share with you, so I hope you’ll be back to read more during the week.

April 15, 2012

Tomorrow, tomorrow….

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 10:56 am
Tags: , , ,

….I love ya, tomorrow….
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big toy

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old looking boat

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Wood Island Light

Gee, what do you suppose is on my mind today?

Tomorrow is the big day.  We have a 6am flight for Miami tomorrow morning.  We should arrive in Miami around 9am.  I don’t know how long we will have to spend hanging out at the Miami airport before our transfer to the pier.  The Carnival website says embarkation can begin at noon.

Our itinerary for the week:

Monday: sail from Miami at 4pm

Tuesday: Arrive in Key West 7:30 am, depart 2pm

Wednesday: Arrive in Cozumel, Mexico 1pm, depart 10pm

Thursday: Fun day at Sea

Friday: arrive back in Miami, 8 am.

I hope 6GB is enough photo memory for me, LOL!  I have a 4GB and a 2GB card – what do you think?

By the way, our college visit yesterday was an excellent one.

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Meghan and I both loved Worcester Polytechnic Institute – WPI as it is commonly referred to.  It has a small-school feel within a medium-sized city in a nice suburban setting.  It is far enough from home to merit living on campus, but close enough to come home whenever she wants.  The programs offered and the philosophy of the school are right in line with what Meghan thinks she’d like to study and what we, as parents, would like to see her have.

This will be my last blog post until my return.  I hope you have a wonderful week,  and I look forward to sharing with you when I get home!

April 13, 2012

A Week of Ups and Downs

I’ve been away from the blogosphere a bit again this week and there’s a blog post inside me just bursting to get out.  This post may be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, like my week has been, so strap in for a bumpy ride!

Ah, my boys from Boston!  Their week mirrors mine somewhat.  The Boston Red Sox are off to a rocky start again this year.  Current win-loss record is 2-5.  But what a win today was!  They were back home in Boston for the first game at Fenway Park this season.
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(my archival photo from a game I attended in 2010)

They trampled the Tampa Bay Rays 12-2.  I know you don’t come here to read about sports, but I’m just making a connection here, so stick with me if you can.  They won only one game on their road trip, and we fans were feeling pretty low.  They returned home to Boston today and pulled off a colossal win against a big rival.  I may be speaking for myself here, but I’m feeling much better about my favorite team’s chances.

I began my week with my regular Monday blues.  This week at work was probably going to feel like a long one with the promise of our spring break upcoming.  As the week progressed, I started feeling more hopeful.  Then yesterday, SLAM! I had one of the worst days at work I’ve ever had.  But I got up and faced the day again today and was rewarded with assurances.  I came home to an awesome baseball game, and the knowledge that our big vacation is only days away.

I also came home to some new blooms I’d like to share with you.
More daffs:
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The rhodo-azalea that had seemed locked in mid-bud is starting to come around:
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And would you believe the bleeding hearts are beginning to bloom?

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I only have these white ones so far, there’s no sign of buds on the pink yet.  I’m sure these were a case of plants being fooled by the abnormally warm weather last month.

Another new arrival in my yard:
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Can you tell what that is?  I apologize for the poor focus, but I had to work pretty hard to bring you this picture.  We’ve got baby bunnies again!  That fuzzy oval in the top third of the shot is a bunny ear.  My daughter made the actual discovery a few days ago when she noticed the large pile of mama-bunny fur (the blurry pile in the foreground of that picture) well ensconced in the center of our raspberry bushes.  The little buns are burrowed fairly deep in the ground, so getting a recognizable shot was nearly impossible.  We had a frost last night, so I’m sure mama bunny knew what she was doing tucking them in that way.  From what I could see of those adorable little ears moving around, I think there are three little ones.

Those bunnies reminded me that I yet again I missed my blogoversary.  Those of you who have been reading from the beginning may remember that baby bunnies were the subject of my first few posts back when I started this blog in April of 2010.  April 6th was the actual blogoversary.  For those who may be interested in such things, I’ve had 28,623 views since my blog began, and my busiest day was February 28, 2012 with 201 views.  That was the day I posted the February Photo Hunt Wrap-Up.  My most commented upon post was the October Photo Hunt announcement. That was the “idiomatic” photo hunt that folks really seemed to enjoy.

I can tell you that I’ve really enjoyed bringing you my photos and stories for the last two years, and I’m so happy to have become part of a blog community.  As you can see from my blog’s numbers, I’m no super power blogger, but I’m really grateful for you, my faithful readers.

So this up-and-down week ends on a high note: a big Red Sox win, the end of the work week, and our cruise only days away!  We are off on another college visit tomorrow, and I have packing to do, so I don’t know how much time I’ll be spending in the blogosphere this weekend, but please know I’ll be thinking of you and hoping to do some blog-catching up in my spare time.  If we are friends on Facebook, I’ll probably post some pictures from my phone from the cruise while we are still in American waters.  Think I’ll be going a little photo-crazy this coming week?

Oh, and don’t forget to be working on this month’s photo hunt too! Show me your favorites – and maybe one of mine! 😉

April 7, 2012

Down by the banks of the river Charles

Our family spent the day in Boston yesterday, and I had the song that those lyrics come from playing through my head for most of the day.  Can you name the song without Googling it?  Think about it while you read my post.  I’ll include a YouTube video with the answer at the end.

Our original purpose for yesterday’s visit was a campus tour of Boston University.  Expecting heavy traffic for our drive in, I roused my troops early from bed on that non-school day to give us plenty of time to work our way to the “T” station (how locals refer to the public train/subway system) just outside our state capital.  We arrived with surprising ease and little traffic, finding ourselves at our location, the BU admissions office with time to spare.
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I took the opportunity to look around at my exact location and, of course, take some pictures.

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Before arriving at BU, I hadn’t realized just how close to the Charles River the campus is.  I peeked around the corner from admissions to discover it right across busy Storrow Drive.  ( I thought I took a picture at this point to show you, but I didn’t find one. Hmmm… maybe I accidentally deleted? Or maybe I really didn’t take one)

One of my favorite spots in Boston is also within walking distance….

Can you guess the place I’m talking about before you scroll down….

I bet you know…

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Yup, Fenway Park.  The boys will be back in town for the home opener this coming Friday.

After an unfortunately disappointing campus tour that left Meghan even more uncertain about her feelings about the school, we headed for lunch and another ride on the T, to the Boston Museum of Science.  This was Meghan’s request.

At the museum, I was taken in by the gorgeous views of the Charles River from the museum’s gigantic picture windows.
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View of the picture windows with the perpetual motion machine:

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We didn’t have the time or energy to get to all of the museum’s great exhibits (we missed the Omni theater, the planetarium and the butterfly garden), but we did stroll through the new live gecko area.

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Feeling rather tired after hours of walking (the tour, the museum, back and forth to the T) the four of us gathered to decide how to wind up our day.  Starting to feel a little hungry and facing the ride home, we decided to head for the famous Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market to find some dinner.  Tucked in an underground store in the marketplace we found a great little place called the Zuma Tex-Mex Grill.  Far from fancy, this restaurant had truly delicious food.  Hubby and I shared some of the best jalepeno poppers I’ve ever eaten.  I had a tender and flavorful fajita-style steak sandwich.  Hubby loved his burrito, and the girls were happy with their meals as well.

Exhausted and satisfied, we happily hopped on our last T ride of the day – uncrowded with seats for all four of us- and made our way back to the T-station, followed by a 75-minute drive home from the station to dogs elated to see us.

Did you figure out the song without cheating?

April 5, 2012

Poking Around

Filed under: What's Blooming — Karma @ 9:32 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

It happened today!  My first daffy bloomed!
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My lastest-blooming-in-the-neighborhood daffodils started to bloom today.  There’s yet more proof of the crazy mild winter we had.

I found myself in the unusual position of having an unrushed period of time to myself this afternoon.  There’s no school tomorrow, the girls were at their respective activities, the temperature was relatively mild, and the sun was shining at a lovely angle in the sky.  I finally poked around my yard and neighborhood, camera in hand.  Here’s some of what I found, in addition to the daffodil:
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Lilac buds

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The “rhodo-azalea” still waiting to bloom

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The neighbor’s forsythia, alight in the sunshine
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I’m not sure what type of flowering tree this is (dogwood maybe?) but I loved the way the blooms looked against the blue sky:
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To avoid being too photo-heavy in one post, I narrowed down to 7 shots from the 38 that I took this afternoon!  It felt really nice to be outside with some of my favorite subjects again.

We are off on an adventure in Boston on our day off from school tomorrow.  I hope to have some fun pictures to share with you this weekend.  I hope you’ll be enjoying a long weekend too!

April 1, 2012

Favorites Photography – April Photo Hunt

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 5:00 am
Tags: , ,

Macro mosaic
Did you know it has been a year since I started creating my photo hunts?  In February of last year, I posted a link to another blog’s photo hunt.  The idea seemed popular and I was encouraged to make my own lists.  In April of 2011, I presented my first list.  I’ve struggled with finding ideas to keep it interesting over the last year.  By far the most popular hunt was October’s Idiomatic Hunt.  All who participated really stepped up with their creativity.  I’m thinking the openness of the possibilities for that hunt are what got so many of you interested, and so, I’m posting this month’s hunt with a similar openness.  I have two objectives in this month’s choice: 1) to give you a creative spark and 2) to find out more about you!

For this month’s photo hunt, please photograph at least four (more than four are most welcome) of your favorite things (and I’m not talking about brown paper packages tied up with string!)

Suggestions (but not limitations!):

  • food
  • drink
  • flower or plant
  • color
  • animal
  • vacation spot
  • hobby (other than photography or blogging!)
  • space to relax at home
  • sport

BONUS/CHALLENGE: How well do you think you know me?  How much have you been reading over the last two years?  Take a picture of something you believe to be a favorite of mine!  My archives are listed by month over to the right in a drop down menu if you need a little help! 😉

As usual, new photos are preferred, but if you have some favorite shots in your archives that you’d love to use, please feel free.  April 28th is the due date for this hunt.  Please leave a link to your post in the comments of this post.  I’d be ever so grateful if you’d help spread the word!  Thanks very much and have fun!