Wednesday, June 30, 2010

53/365 Chimney Rock State Park

East of Asheville, NC, Chimney Rock State Park became our destination on our second full day in the area.

The park came up in every travel brochure and website we consulted -- and this kind of activity was right up our alley. We started the visit with a climb to the top of Chimney Rock (see a photo of the rock at the very bottom of this post), and what a climb it was! Being the hardy, brave souls that Mom and I are, we intended to climb the hundreds of steps to the top before we even entered the park. It's a good thing we had our minds set that way, because when we paid our entrance fee, we learned that the elevator to the top -- 26 stories -- was out of service. We certainly got our exercise that day. I made the photo at the top of this post from the top of Chimney Rock.

We took a slightly cooler hike after our descent, and we walked about .75 miles through the forest to Hickory Nut Falls.

It's one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. I admit I was a little envious of the kids frolicking in the water at the bottom! I could have followed suit, but the desire to keep my clothes relatively dry won that debate.

This Park is actually fairly famous. The last scene of The Last of the Mohicans was filmed at the top of Hickory Nut Falls, and a scene of Dirty Dancing was filmed at a lake nearby. (You know, the best place to do lifts, right?)

After we cooled off and rehydrated, we drove to Hendersonville, NC and back to downtown Asheville to check out some bead shops and fabric stores. We fell in love with the bead store we found in Hendersonville and came away thoroughly inspired. I expect you'll be seeing some photos of my upcoming bead projects in some future posts!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s and 1/320s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

52/365 Road trip!

Last week, I got my first week-long vacation in... let's see how long it's been... three years?

I've had vacations in the meantime, but they've been of the shorter variety. I ventured to Chicago for a long weekend last November, and I spent about five days in Colorado two summers ago. I crossed the pond and landed in England for a week in May, and I got a few days in New Orleans last year -- but both of those were business trips, so they don't count as vacation. I got nearly a week off from work to have laser eye surgery in late 2008, but that doesn't really count either, does it?

If my memory serves me, my last week-long vacation was a trip with my girlfriends to Florida in the summer of 2007 -- and that was before I started SightSalad.

Mom and I started a tradition following our trip to Colorado: we vowed that we would do a mother-daughter vacation every year from then on. This year's venture? A road trip to North Carolina and Tennessee!

We drove straight to Asheville, North Carolina. Neither of us had ever been to the lovely state of NC, but we'd heard mountains (or oceans) of positive reviews from friends and family. We chose Asheville for its location in the mountains and its reputation for being a haven of arts and crafts.

I'm happy to say that Asheville lived up to its beautiful reputation.

On our first full day in the area, we ventured to the historic Biltmore Village for some shopping and sight-seeing. Adjacent to the Biltmore Estate, it's a quaint village with brick-paved sidewalks and quality local shops. Our favorites were Yarn Paradise and Waechter's Fine Fabrics.

(And before you ask, no, we did not visit the Biltmore Estate. We'll check that out on another trip if they've reconsidered their ticket prices.)

In the (hot) afternoon, we met a friend at the North Carolina Arboretum and toured the manicured gardens. The company was great, but I have to say I think I would have enjoyed the Arboretum more on a cooler day. No fault of the Arboretum's, though! I'd like to revisit it earlier in the year, when more of the flowers are blooming.

The photos in this post are from the Arboretum. The top photo is of their Quilt Garden, and the bottom photo is a view from the overlook above that garden. The garden's block design changes every year.

Stay tuned for more posts from the trip in the days ahead!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 4:00 p.m.

Monday, June 28, 2010

51/365 A gorgeous bride

Another one of my girlfriends has left the Land of the Singles and entered the State of Matrimony this month.

Danielle and I became friends in college. We met our sophomore year, when she joined the sorority that I had pledged my freshman year. I remember her being fun and freely willing to let go and just be silly, which -- when mixed with a good head on her shoulders -- I find to be great qualities in a girlfriend.

We didn't become close friends until the next year, when we ended up as roommates in a suite of four. I had different sets of roommates every semester from sophomore year on, but when I look back on those years, my semester with Danielle (and our other two roommates) was my favorite setup. We all got along marvelously well, a group of girls that respected each other's space and knew when to turn down the volume on a weeknight (or quit hitting snooze).

And now? Danielle is back in Indianapolis after a few years in Tennessee, and it's great to have her back! She was a gorgeous bride, and the wedding was beautiful.

And how about that getaway car? Beats a limo, in my book!

Congrats, Danielle!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

Saturday, June 26, 2010

50/365 Lily season

I can hardly believe that the point in the spring/summer season has arrived when the lilies begin blooming. These big, showy flowers have always been one of my favorite varieties to photograph -- and this year is no different!

This is one of a series of day lilies growing by the pond at my parents' house. I like photographing it from this angle, because the surface of the pond in the background makes a great, solid backdrop for the bright orange flower.

Summer is here!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 100 at about 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

49/365 Indiana wine country

I don't ordinarily think of grapes being grown in Indiana, but I think that has more to do with my awareness rather than a statement about the land and climate. Exhibit A: My parents' grape vines are loaded with fruit this year.

Indianapolis Monthly actually published an article last year about the owner of Oliver Winery in Bloomington and his belief that Indiana is actually a great place to grow grapes and produce wine. I found the article to be really interesting, and it gave me some different insight into the ins and outs of cultivating grapes for wine.

Who knows, maybe Indiana is the next big wine region on the horizon!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

48/365 Responding with a proposal


It's amazing how those three little letters can turn into a such a large undertaking.

They stand for Request for Proposal. It's a common idea throughout the various business industries, but what I'm most familiar with is the way it works in the marketing business.

Say you're a company that either wants to switch marketing partners or simply start doing so. You can select your partner agency in a number of ways, but two of the most common ones involve 1) interviewing a handful or 2) sending out an RFP.

One of the larger insurance firms in Indiana recently went through this process. They created their RFP, which contained a series of questions and requests (What are your firm's operating policies and values? How do your account teams manage communication with your clients?), and they sent that to the top agencies in Indianapolis. We then chose to respond, so we had about a month to put together our proposal.

It can sound simple up front, but it often is a big project. You want to do your very best, because it's your opportunity to win a bit of new business. And as a creative marketing agency, we couldn't just type our response in a Word document and send it off. Instead, we chose to use our staff design talent and really dress it up.

By the time we were done, I'm guessing a dozen different people worked on this proposal. Now? We keep our fingers crossed and wait for the email that says we've made it through to the next round of selections.


Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/4 at ISO 1600

Sunday, June 20, 2010

47/365 Painting pottery

To celebrate my birthday with some of my girlfriends this year, we met for dinner in Broad Ripple and then walked across the street to the paint-your-own-pottery studio. This is probably my fifth time visiting here, and I always enjoy it.

Painting is not an art form I've ever had a big desire to pursue, but painting a ceramic item like this is a lot of fun. You go in, choose your base piece, choose your paint colors, and go to work! You can make it as simple or as complex as you like.

Through all my visits over the years, I've learned that for me, simple usually turns out better.

When something is abstract, there's not much you can criticize!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/4 at ISO 1250

Saturday, June 19, 2010

46/365 Cooking up some new recipes

I've been in a cooking mood lately. In my book, that's a really good mood to be in! The increasing availability of fresh produce certainly helps encourage that state of mind.

Some of my recent creations? My first quiche, for one -- I felt like fixing something new, had some eggs on hand, and wanted to use up some mushrooms and spinach. I found four or five quiche recipes and picked out what things I wanted -- no crust, various seasonings. And, voila! It turned out great, and I ended up with some to freeze for later, too.

Pictured here is a simple cucumber, tomato and goat-cheese feta salad that was a fantastic side dish. The next night I made portobello mushrooms "stuffed" with tomato, red pepper, and spinach.

If nothing else, it makes the kitchen smell fantastic. And now I'm ready to find some more new recipes!

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 640.

Friday, June 18, 2010

45/365 Stormy sunset

We've had some stormy weather recently, and one thing that produces are some gorgeous, dramatic skies. On this particular night, I was driving home and HAD to stop the car twice to get out and photograph these skies. It was absolutely breathtaking.

All you have to do is look through the weather-related tags on this blog to see how much I love this!

See here?
Weather posts
Sunset posts, which are particularly great when they follow stormy skies
Storm-specific posts
Sky posts in general

This is one of the things I love about spring and summer in the Midwest.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 9:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

44/365 Tart cherries

My family's little cherry tree has produced its annual offering of tart cherries. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to visit the tree and pluck off a few right there, but I'm counting on being able to enjoy part of the crisp made with the harvest!

I was never a huge fan of fresh cherries until I met a tart one, and I found them to be completely addicting and incomparable -- especially when I got to enjoy them standing right beside the tree. Now I'll get a batch of sweet cherries when they're ripe, but they don't hold a candle to the ones picked fresh off the tree.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

43/365 Smelling like yuccas

I'm sure the name "yucca" is derived from Latin or Greek, meaning something lovely, but nevertheless, I can't help but think, "What an unfortunate name." Unfortunate, to be named something that sounds like a rejection of food or reaction to something smelly: "Yuck."

I suppose that's probably why we liken things to "smelling like roses" instead of "smelling like yuccas."

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 6:00 p.m.

Monday, June 14, 2010

42/365 Attention to detail

Ah, the love between a man and his truck.

When it comes to detailing and cleaning a vehicle, I know of no one who does it better than my brother. And of course, he spends the most time on his own truck, this beautiful red Ford pickup.

For several years, he made extra money by detailing vehicles, and he had a rotation of regular customers because they knew he did such a great job. I've even hired him several times to detail my car, because that job is not at the top of my list of things I enjoy doing. I admittedly prefer to just go to the automatic car wash, run a vacuum through it, and clean the windows when they need it.

Chase, on the other hand, washes his truck in a series of perfected stages that I enjoy watching simply for the appreciation of his attention to detail.

I'll just stick to the basics.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 320 at about 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

41/365 A little bit of pampering

One of the things that seriously grosses me out are long, unpainted fingernails.

A little weird? Yep, I know.

I don't know where this started, but it's true. I'm a tad obsessive about having my hands and feet clean, so I'm sure that mental compulsion has just spilled over. The sight of long fingernails spurs thoughts of grime and bacteria hiding underneath... it gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.

So I generally keep my fingernails very short, which therefore means I rarely have them painted. Letting them grow long enough to make painting them worth it is a challenge. But to celebrate our birthdays, a girlfriend and I decided to treat ourselves to a professional manicure and pedicure (my first).

And that meant I needed to let my nails grow. Boy oh boy, did it drive me nuts! I painted them in the week beforehand to make myself stand it.

I made it, and I had a lot of fun getting that little treat of pampering. Unfortunately the paint started chipping after only two days (it shouldn't have), so I had to take it off.

Bummer that it was so expensive and didn't last longer. But hooray for the refreshing feeling of short, clean nails again!

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/30s, f/5 at ISO 500 using a tripod.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

40/365 Field of wildflowers

I took a little road trip with Mom to get this photo. She passed this place one day and immediately called me to let me know I had to photograph it.

The people at this house have planted yards and yards and yards of gorgeous wildflowers in the ditch in front of their house. It's an incredible sight, because this field of flowers stretches for at least 50 yards.

The flowers themselves are delicate, with just four tissue-paper petals overlapping in two layers. I'd love to know what they are.

And another bonus for them? No mowing the ditch!

Beautiful flowers + no mowing = win-win situation.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/160s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

39/365 Greener grass

Though I've never owned goats myself, I've always found them to be humorous animals. This is mostly due to their curious, intelligent, explorative nature.

It seems like whenever I pass a farm that has goats, there is always at least one animal standing on top of its shelter. They're known for being very skilled escape artists; if there is a weak spot in your fence, they'll find it and get out.

Some of them, like the one pictured here, are quite cute. I passed this guy on a walk, and he came right up to the fence to say hello. He quickly discovered that the grass on my side of the fence looked preferable to what he had, so he promptly stuck his head through a hole and got down on his knees to chow down.

It wasn't the head-through-the-fence that struck me, but the kneeling that made me laugh. Clever! I hope his lunch was worth the effort.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 11:00 a.m.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

38/365 How does my garden grow

I have a garden! Dad and I spent a beautiful afternoon getting it in, and I'm awfully excited about it. I made sure to get before and after photos, which you see here.

I had a small garden last year in a different location that didn't work out so well. From four tomato plants, I reaped about six tomatoes, and they were still attempting to ripen at Thanksgiving. And my cucumber plant's lone cucumber never did mature. The spot was too shady and the dirt in too poor condition. So this year: relocate!

Being surrounded by large maple trees, my yard is largely shaded. Great for the electricity bill, not so great for growing plants. So we chose to put the garden on the south side of my garage, in the one area of the backyard that gets some substantial sun.

The roof of the garage doesn't have gutters, so we also had to take that into consideration and put the plants outside of the drip line. We bought five bags of organic top soil, because we expected the soil to be in starved condition -- but, lo and behold, when we tilled it up, it looked fantastic! I have two bags of top soil left over that I'll have to share somewhere else in the yard.

I now have six lovely plants growing in my garden: two Better Boy tomatoes, one cherry tomato, one cucumber, one red pepper, and one jalapeno. Add three marigolds for bug control, and voila! Six plants doesn't sound like much, but with a good location and plenty of room to stretch out, I expect they'll produce plenty of fresh vegetables for me.

I also didn't want to get in over my head this first year. If all goes well this year, look out 2011!

Camera: Canon 40D
Before photo: 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 11:00 a.m.
After photo: 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 at about 5:30 p.m.

Monday, June 7, 2010

37/365 A trip to the playground

The swing set was always one of my favorite playground features as a kid.

Chase and I had a swing set in our backyard while we were growing up, and we each had "our" swings. If you used the other person's swing, not only did you risk getting kicked out of it, it just felt wrong. The world was situated incorrectly, and the airflow felt different.

I drove to a school near my house to get this photo. It was after hours and after school had let out for the summer, so the playground was empty.

One thing I noticed about these swings -- something different from the ones I remember -- is that the chains are covered. They've been dipped in a plastic coating, eliminating the finger-pinching and hair-entangling links.

While eliminating this kind of hazard is probably a good thing, and I'm sure it eliminates some crying trips to the nurse, I can't help but be struck by some eye-rolling nostalgia. Do we really have to remove every possible danger for our kids now? Does every surface have to be padded and smooth?

I'm sure a parent somewhere sued a school or swing manufacturer for millions of dollars in damages when their child pinched his finger or caught her hair in a swing's chain. Then all swings were probably removed, the chains coated in plastic, and reinstalled. It's a little sad.

Nevertheless, after I photographed these swings -- padded chains and all -- I did set my camera down and swing for a few moments myself.

And I enjoyed it.

Camera: Canon 40D with 24mm wide-angle lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 160 at about 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

36/365 Cooky neighbors

Come nightfall, one house in my neighborhood stands out. During the day, it masquerades as an ordinary ranch-style house nestled in a well-established neighborhood.

But when the sun sets, it looks like a small airport.

These neighbors have accent lighting focused on every. Single. Tree. And Bush. And Rock. And window around the house. Seriously. Their electricity bill must be astronomical. The patriarch of the family has also boasted about their highly sophisticated video security system.

And all that makes me wonder is: what the heck do you have in there? Because while the house is very nice, it's nothing special, or large, or fancy. It's just an ordinary home. An ordinary home that doesn't normally require that kind of security.

The mystery-novel reader in me wonders what's going on behind those closed doors.

Camera: Canon 40D, 10 seconds, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 9:30 p.m.

Friday, June 4, 2010

35/365 Vintage sewing patterns

Vintage sewing patterns. Aren't these fantastic?

It's a bit like looking at the costume design for an episode of Mad Men, except these patterns are actually from the 1940s. House coats. Fancy aprons. Dresses. And mens' boxer shorts.

Mom is sorting through stacks of patterns like these and is selling them on eBay. I'm acting as her photographer, and these four were striking enough that I had to share them here!

Take a close look at the man the illustrator sketched on the mens' pattern. (You can click on the image to enlarge it further.) Remind you of someone? Clark Gable, perhaps? And also notice he's wearing loafers and has a cigarette in his hand.

So, if you've ever wondered what Clark Gable's boxers look like, they feature a wide, slimming waistband with a three-button closure.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/4 at ISO 640 in natural light by a window

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

34/365 Decked out in pink from head to toe

I'll be attending my second wedding in three months in a couple weeks, so that means the time leading up to it is spent celebrating and sending this gal off into the land of the marrieds!

That, of course, includes a bachelorette party. And what bachelorette party is complete without a tiara and a sash? 

Danielle, the bride-to-be, was a great sport. She wore that tiara and sash all night, as well as a pink feather boa, pink and red Mardi Gras beads, and a blinking pin -- all of which matched her pink dress. She also wielded a pinching device that incited some amusing moments throughout the evening.

Danielle, what fun we had celebrating with you!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

33/365 Free parking

On the list of Life's Awesome Things (much in the spirit of the blog of a similar name), here's one to add: getting a metered parking space at a time when it's free!

I've been taking dance classes in downtown Indianapolis, and the parking meters are free after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. I generally arrive around 6:30, just after that time begins.

Free parking has almost become like free shipping to me: I'm a sucker for it and will go out of my way to get it! And if you have to be in the right place at the right time to get it, it's even sweeter.

Do you feel the same way? When it comes to retail offers, what can't you resist? Free shipping? Buy one get one free? Free gift?

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 6:30 p.m. under cloudy skies