What Luck!

Do you know that feeling of joy mixed with luck when you drop the lid to something on the floor and it lands messy side up? Photography can produce that response too. Lately, an osprey is the source of those emotions for me. First time I spotted it was a few months back, while on a bike ride, on the beach path. Approaching the pier where I turn around to head back, I noticed a hulk on top of a light pole. It seemed larger than a seagull and piqued my inner birder.

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I approached the pier and stumbled upon a lifeguard talking with a group, who seemed as interested as I, about the bird. In this makeshift class I learned the bird in question was an osprey (also known as a sea hawk by the way). The lifeguard also mentioned seeing it fishing at times from his vantage point of the tower on the pier. The prospect of this natural phenomenon occurring right on these shores, in this city, in front of my eyes was thrilling. I watched it for a while, but it didn’t go fishing that day. I was regretting my decision to leave my DSLR at home but thinking of the mantra I have heard uttered so many times – the best camera is the one you have with you – I pulled out my phone to capture this sighting.

Fast forward a few months, same ride, with my DSLR this time. I see the same sized hulk on the pole again. Could it be? Yes, it is! An osprey!

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Marveling at my luck at finding the osprey while having my bigger camera in tow, I wait and watch the bird as intently as the bird focuses on the water.

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Suddenly it swoops from its perch and dives towards the surf.

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Jackpot! It arose with a fish in its talons. My luck at being on that pier for that exact moment elicits awe and giddiness. If only the osprey could know its impact by simply going about its daily life.

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It flew out of sight, continuing on past oblivious surfers.

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The next week, same ride, carrying DSLR with a bigger zoom lens this time, I spot it. The osprey is back again!

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It is a sunny day this time and the light coupled with the zoom lens provided the opportunity to capture more details in the eyes and feathers. I think it spotted me.

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The osprey’s presence brings people together in unexpected and pleasant ways. Seems as though pointing your camera towards the sky grabs the attention of others. Many have taken to asking questions and we end up swapping stories of our neighborhood birds. This day, it hung around for a bit staring at the water and preening before flying off into the distance swooping towards the water without catching anything.

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Sometimes we get caught up in our routines; returning to the same locations doing the same things, and there is comfort in that, but it can also feel monotonous. If we take time for awareness, we might notice that even the same places are different from day to day: the lighting, the people, the animals are some of the elements that combine and interact to create a freshness. If you keep an eye out, inspiration can strike at any moment. You may be lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, or maybe you always were and just didn’t notice it.

Sending thoughts and prayers to all impacted by the wildfires in California and gratitude  for the firefighters and first responders.

Stay safe,

Susan

 

The Weekend Dish – Easy Applesauce

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It’s apple season! I don’t know about you but this time of year finds me craving apples, in all their forms: raw, baked, pureed and pie too. Applesauce is a dish that is so much better prepared at home. Although, sometimes the convenience of the store bought variety wins out over the time it takes to prepare. But now that I have found this recipe, inspired by one of Julia Child’s recipes by the way, I have no excuse to buy applesauce instead of making from scratch, ever again! The apples don’t even need peeling and there’s no added sugar either. That’s a plus, plus in my book. There’s one more added bonus – your house will be filled with a glorious cinnamon scent.

I like to have a little fun (to me) photographing the patterns in foods, and apples also lend themselves as incredible subjects.

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The stars created when cutting apples laterally weren’t very prominent in these Fujis so I had some pattern creation fun.

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To the recipe:

Applesauce

  • 4 pounds of apples any combination, or all of one type, I used Fuji (since the skin is left on, I opted for organic) rinsed and cut into eighths, cut off the core and seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a large heavy pot with 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally – adding more water if seeming to get dry – until apples are soft and falling apart, 35-45 minutes. Uncover and let cool slightly.

Put cooked apples into a food processor or blender and whir until smooth. If it seems too dry, a bit of water can be added at this point as well.

There you go, ready to be enjoyed!

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I like it warm or cool and accompanied by meats, fish or oatmeal, even ice cream. It’s also great on Greek yogurt for breakfast.

Enjoy ~

Susan

 

 

 

Love Locked Up

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Love lock on London’s Millennium Footbridge

Love can drive people to do crazy things. This seems to be the same the world over. The similarities among different peoples often takes me by surprise. Wandering the streets of a city, ready for discovery, is one of my favorite ways for unravelling a place. So, upon noticing locks bearing names and dates on bridges and chains around many towns; my interest was piqued, which translates to a click of the shutter.

Love locks on bridges, and just about anywhere a lock can be affixed, is a phenomenon spreading across the world. This expression of love involves affixing a lock, usually with the couple’s name and a date on it, to a structure and throwing away the key. Therefore locking one’s love in place for eternity. A romantic sentiment, indeed!

Paris was the location of my first encounter, on the Pont des Arts bridge. Click!

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Back in 2008, the pedestrian bridge was just beginning to see the effects of the love spreading. Click! In for a closer look …

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The practice became so prolific the bridge was becoming compromised by the excess weight and the locks were removed in 2015 and replaced with Plexiglass panels. In 2017, Parisians came up with a clever use for the removed locks. They auctioned off some of the lock clusters using the proceeds to benefit migrant charities, which you can read more about in this article.

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Love locks can still be found in Paris, however. Click!

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Couples have gotten creative in expressing and immortalizing their love throughout the city.

 

Finding all sorts of places to lock their love for all time. Click, click!

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Even locks upon locks.

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The phenomenon isn’t unique to Paris. It is spreading around the world, to the dismay of some. Many cities have made an effort to discourage the practice due to the negative effect on the structures. I witnessed the spread while in London and Aguas Calientes, Peru.

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Aguas Calientes, Peru

It has even spread to a bridge in my hometown. I think crazy or not this love thing isn’t going away any time soon.

Love ya~

Susan

 

 

 

Citrus and Sizzle

Today’s August Break 2015 prompt is “citrus” and the photo comes courtesy of Susan Greene, the other original Backyard Sisters. _MG_0380One stifling afternoon, Susan’s daughter wondered what would happen if you added jalapeño to lemonade. Her kitchen curiousity inspired this refreshing and slightly spicy, hot yet cold, beverage. It’s a wonderful anomaly, so delicious it earned a spot in the Backyard Sisters family cookbook. 

For the complete recipe, check out Susan’s post: The Weekend Dish, Jalapeño Lemonade.  For more “citrus” images from The August Break project, search #augustbreak2015 on Instagram, Facebook, and Flickr.

Cheers!

Talk About Going Off!

 By Susan Greene

Not since January of 1983 had the waves been as big as they were in the South Bay of Los Angeles county a couple of weekends ago. big surf redondo beach, CAA major rain storm brought a large swell with it, resulting in huge waves. On Saturday the 1st of March, the waves were so large and walled, or breaking without much chance of riding the face, that there weren’t any surfers in the water when I was there. But Sunday things changed.

surfer watching surf, Redondo Beach,CAThe waves were still large; so large they were crashing over the break wall in the harbor of Redondo Beach.

wave breaking over break wallThe surfer on the crest of the wave gives an idea of just how big those waves were.

big surf Redondo Beach, CAThe shape was better on Sunday.

surfer riding big waveYou could feel the waves’ energy in the air.

surfer riding big wave Redondo Beach, CAWatching the surfers riding the waves with their grace and athleticism is great fun.

surfer riding big wave, Redondo Beach, CAWhen one is in the barrel, it is always thrilling.

surfer riding big wave, Redondo Beach, CAThe beach was crowded with people coming out to see the show.

It’s good to be reminded of the beauty and power of nature every now and then.

~ Susan

Images Out a Window

northern california coast, big surRiding shotgun on a cross-country car trip provides the opportunity for being a witness to  a lot of scenery. I will ride with my camera on my lap gazing out the window when something will strike me. Depending on your time limits and companions’ patience, your chances of pulling over and taking a shot may be limited. I quickly learned, yelling “pull over so I can get a shot of that ____,” too many times will result in a loud groan response. Other times it’s just not feasible to pull over. So, instead of forcing another stop on begrudging backseat passengers or passing up on some of the shots I wanted, I will roll down the window and make them on the fly.

field of sunflowersIt’s not easy and many times they don’t turn out, so if it’s a subject I care strongly about capturing I will insist on pulling over. But, to me it’s worth taking that shot for the memory of a trip and re-visiting the road when at home.

hay rolls in fieldsThe novelty of the open spaces and rolling fields of the interior of the country inspires a sense of wonder in this shore girl.

farm house in fieldThese picturesque fields seem to go on forever.

rolling corn fields AmericaWhen we do stop and explore an area further, a through-a-window shooting opportunity can still be present.

South Dakota Chief Crazy Horse MonumentThe Chief Crazy Horse monument visit was such an opportunity for me. The statue of the Chief inside the museum with the view of the mountain project outside, through a nicely cleaned window, grabbed my imagination.

When shooting out the window of a moving car, a fast shutter speed is required to capture the scene without getting camera blur from the movement of the car. Steadying your camera against either your body or on the edge of the open window helps as well. The key thing is to have your camera in your lap and ready to go.

Always glad to be on the road,

~ Susan

The Weekend Dish – Avocado, Cilantro, Cashew Cups

Avocado, cilantro, cashew cupsInspired by the avocado egg rolls at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant, I headed to the kitchen to see what I could come up with to achieve similar flavors and textures at home. They are a mixture of crispy outside and creamy inside all dipped in a tangy and sweet sauce – a delicious treat. It takes great restraint to keep me from drinking the dipping sauce on it’s own. Wanting the crunchiness of the outside but not the greasiness and mess of frying, I decided to use wonton wrappers and bake them until crispy.

Avocado, cilantro, cashew cupsDipping the cups in the sauce could make it awkward to eat, so I opted to mix the dipping sauce and filling together and then place them in the cup, creating a two bite finger food, success! One of our seasonal family birthday celebration extravaganzas was the inaugural attempt of this recipe and it was a hit. I think you will find this handy appetizer a welcome guest at your next party too.

Avocado, Cilantro, Cashew Cups

  • 1 pkg of wonton wrappers
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced – it helps to have ripe but firm avocados
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Place the wonton wrappers in a mini muffin tin and press them in to the bottom and sides. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 9 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from oven and leave in pan until cooled. Meanwhile place the avocados, onion, cilantro and salt together in a medium bowl, being careful to keep the avocados in pieces rather than smashing. Set aside and prepare the sauce.

Sauce

  • 4 tsp white vinegar
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • juice of 1 lime

Mix these together in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds and stir until the honey is dissolved, set aside. In a food processor combine:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • pinch turmeric
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or less depending on your taste

Pulse until the cashews are chopped fine, add the vinegar honey mixture and olive oil and pulse until incorporated. Pour about half of this mixture, more or less depending on your taste, into the avocado onion mixture and stir until just mixed. Fill the cups and serve.

Makes 24 cups

Avocado, cilantro, cashew cups

This weekend finds us celebrating the winter birthdays of the family.

Cheers!

~ Susan