Archive | March 2012

The Niagara Of The South?

Smile, You’re on Jeffery Camera!

What? The Niagara of The South? Never heard of it? Me either, not until Jeff told me about it. Instead of seeing just rainbows in the water, you can also see moonbows. Yes, you heard it right, MOONBOWS.

Where is the phenomenon? Just over the state line from Tennessee into Corbin, Kentucky there is this really neat place called Cumberland Falls State Park. There’s hiking trails, cabins and camping as well as a beautiful viewing area of the falls.

The fact is, on a full moon night, there really is a moonbow in the falls! I know because I saw it! Photographing it has been a challenge, so for now, enjoy Cumberland Falls State Park from a sunny view!

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Whether looking at the Falls from the top or looking up at them from one of many viewpoints on the trail alongside the river, it is a beautiful sight as well as a beautiful sound! Waterfalls have always held a certain fascination for me that I just can’t explain. There’s something about the crashing water and the mist, the rainbows that pop out from just the right angle that are just so calming to me. And now…on a full moon, beautiful prisms of color will appear! I can tell you that the first moonbow that appeared left me speechless. I had never seen anything so spectacular in my life! There are no adjectives that would adequately describe just how beautiful a moonbow is.

You’ll want to get there early enough to get a great viewpoint because it gets crowded quickly. We tried to do timed exposures, but there were too many novice flash bulbs going off every second, so none of our timed exposures turned out. I suggest finding a quiet spot, possible further down the trail away from the crowds or maybe confirm with the park ranger when their slowest and least crowded nights are the best for serious photographers.

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I was actually surprised at how many people showed up the night we were there. Known as the “Niagara of the South,” the Cumberland Falls is a mere 125-foot curtain across the fast flowing Cumberland River.  Compared to THE FALLS – this beautiful gem of the South is no comparison! It may be the “Niagara of the South,” but it’s no Niagara!

 

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As young children, our parents made the trek to Niagara Falls, New York. Both of our families visited the famous honeymoon spot at a similar point in our childhood. I was just barely 6 years old, and oddly enough, Jeff was about 5-6 years of age when he went! Our families had not yet even met!

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Now, many years later as a married couple, we decided to take a “second honeymoon” to Niagara! We love road trips and this was just up our alley! Literally!

There’s just one thing I’d like to ask you to keep in mind if you decide to pack your bags and head for Niagara. Think about what time of year it is that you plan to arrive and spend your vacation!

We decided that the July 4th weekend would make a perfect long weekend trip. We could drive up in a short amount of time, spend a few days there and drive back and not have used more than just a couple of Jeff’s vacation days due to the holiday!

Yes, that was a wonderful idea! It was warm – so getting wet would not be a bad idea. We didn’t have to worry about packing parkas, gloves, boots, that de-icing stuff, ice scrapers and any other various winter items one would need…..

Honeymooners NIagara Falls 7-11

And as luck would have it, the newest Royal Couple was going to be there….we were vacationing with Wil & Kate…

…but wait! It was going to be a HOLIDAY weekend on both sides of the river!

Why didn’t any bells go off in our heads????? HOLIDAYS on both sides of the river, newlywed Royal Couple….

…..shouldn’t that mean……….MILLIONS of people???????

There were no bells, there were no whistles, there wasn’t even a beep! Imagine that!

We stopped at a little place that first night in Niagara and arranged for a tour to the Falls the next day. Once we realized our HUGE lapse in memory, parking at the Falls was out of the question! It was almost as much as a tank of gas…..because there’s no parking in just one spot and walking around all day! There’s a lot to park in at each of the different areas! The tour group had a large, off-site parking lot, air-conditioned buses, and a driver that knew how to get around quickly! Our tour guide turned out to be a loveable, grandpa-kind-of-guy named Carl who remembered us as Mr. & Mrs. Tennessee! Carl was adamant about being prompt and also knew how to make everyone laugh. We really enjoyed his presentation at each stop and enjoyed the views even more!

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Since the July day was so warm, our tour of the Caves In The Winds was a refreshing stop! I’ve been through a few storms, like hurricanes, but walking up to the Hurricane Deck is an experience I will never forget!

Let me just say that trying to stay dry is, at most, impossible! The DVD-cam was tucked up safe under my poncho for most of the walk. I only brought it out to capture a few moments of squealing and laughing, while the rest of the time we used Jeff’s trusty iPhone camera to capture some of the following shots! Enjoy!

NIagara Falls Cave in the Winds 7-11

Did you notice the LARGE crowds?

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Does this LOOK refreshing? It IS! And the sound is deafening!!!

Lovebirds

But the most fun was getting soaked on the Maid of the Mist! This is where we get to see the Canadian side of the Falls. What a sight this is!

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Maid of the Mist Soaked 7-11

What a wonderful memories we have of “both” Niagara Falls! I highly recommend them both! We’re planning on going back during a different season one day….

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Smile! You’re on Jeffery Camera, it’s March 20, 2012!

We were married in April 2009 and for our honeymoon, we decided on a road trip that encompassed our nation’s Capital City, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, and Appomattox Court House. One of our first stops was in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’d always wanted to see Monticello, the home of our 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson. So, on the way to D.C., we stopped to see Mr. Jefferson’s home.

Our day was a rainy one. The fog sat heavily on the ground, hiding most of the views. Lucky for us, the rain let up for a while and we were able to walk the grounds of Monticello.  What a lovely place it is! I could almost imagine it all those years ago when Mr. Jefferson lived there!

Tulips are my favorite flower, which is why I chose a Spring wedding. I was able to carry them in my bouquet as well. Wouldn’t you know, walking around the grounds of Monticello I see beds and beds of beautiful flowers lining the walkways, including my wonderful tulips!

My super special new Hubby/ Hot Groom decided to take several photos of my favorite flower. As you will see, they turned out beautifully! We’ve begun framing our photography as art in our home. So, now we share them with you!

Enjoy while you tiptoe through the tulips…

Yellow Tulip 4-2009

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Are these not just some of the most beautiful tulips ever? I’ve been to Europe and saw the beautiful tulips there, but I enjoyed these every bit as much, if not more! (Could it be that it was because I was on a vacation with the Love of my life?)

We didn’t mind the misty rain at all. As a matter of fact, I think it made our photos that much better!

There were some varieties of tulips that I’d never seen up close and in person. So this walk around the garden – where Thomas Jefferson once strolled – was particularly delightful for me!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Every time I look at them my heart and soul is flooded with wonderful memories. And, I can almost smell them!

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This is one of my favorite shots of Monticello. The mist hanging around it, just hugging it, while the tulips stand at attention drinking in every drop of the rain! Simply breathtaking!

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I don’t know about you, but I could just “tiptoe through the tulips” all day! So, let’s keep strolling, okay?

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Wishing you and yours a very Happy First Day of Spring! May your days be as beautiful our stroll!

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Color My World Beautiful

Over seasons past, our little corner of the world has bloomed into something quite colorful each Spring and Summer. This year, things are a little off due to the super mild winter (can we say summer?) and lack of cold for the bulbs to rest for their normal time period. It is not yet officially Spring, but everything around us says it is! From my previous post, Spring Has Sprung Talbott Style, you saw a glimpse of those beautiful flowers that have already popped up!

Now, they are nearly gone, and there is not much left to share. One of the peach trees has some buds popping out and I’ve noticed that the lilacs have buds as well as many other plants. Just this week, I have repotted my aloe and planted some of my marigold seeds from last season in a pot on the deck. Dare I say it? My gardening season has begun!

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You know the two little munchkins are excited when we can open the doors and windows again! The fresh spring air is filled with pear blossom scent (choke, sputter, achoo on my part!) and the songs of birds fill the air. This is the time of year I keep the camera close by to catch everything I can!

I moved their normal “chair” to another window, but as you can see, that doesn’t stop them from taking a look at the action outside!

These two run from window to window and door to door to drink it all in. I sometimes take them out to enjoy the sunshine on the deck with me. However, because we have a coyote and fox that hangs around they are indoor pets. I don’t want to hand those two over as a “scrumptious kitty” dinner on a platter! Kacey and Ivan are hilarious to watch sometimes and if you keep looking, you’ll see what they get to watch!

Know that I am bound and determined to catch the ever elusive creature whom I have named Papa Cardinal. I’ve tried and tried to get a good shot of him on more than one occasion. He stands there and sings his little heart out and eats from the plate, but when I reach for my camera, he darts away. With a stroke of luck this morning, I caught the little bugger and boy is he GORGEOUS! Must be that stroke of Irish luck that’s working for me today?

Have a little peak at my handsome friend, Papa Cardinal! Isn’t he just beautiful? He’s got his mouthful of seeds, too! That’s something I like to see!031

I just love the beautiful reds and black of the Cardinal. Once Mama Cardinal starts to come around, I hope to capture her beautiful self as well! And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get the little ones this year, too! At this moment, Papa Cardinal is perched on top of my crepe myrtle and is singing his little heart out! What a lovely sight he is from here.

But not to be out done, the other bird friends have started hanging around too. Could it be that it’s because I remembered to fill up their plates yesterday? Ha! I did! And I cleaned out their water bowl, filling it with fresh water. But I think the rain storm last night filled it up to overflowing!

Shortly after Papa Cardinal went on his way, another one of his friends stopped by to sing a good morning song to me. I couldn’t believe my luck! So I grabbed the camera and just waited to catch a great pose. And you know what? I got it! See for yourself!

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This one looks like a young Mockingbird. He still has some baby tufts but his song was beautiful! Unlike some of our other feathered friends, Mr. MB didn’t dance around. He preferred to stay front and center and perform for me. I had the best seat in the house!

He just sang and sang for a full 5 minutes before stuffing his mouth full of seed and flying off to join his friends in our fir tree.

Lucky for me, the cats were pre-occupied with some goings on at another window and didn’t scare him off!

This morning started off quite foggy, but the sun has peeked through and burned most of it off. I hope you enjoy some of the other friends who stopped by to sing for me!

 

A Black-Capped Chickadee also stopped by to have some breakfast. I haven’t seen one in such a long time!

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And now for some color from the past! These are photos of our garden from Spring/Summer 2010 and 2011. I can’t wait for these to bloom again this year!

Azaela Spring 2011   Iris Spring 2011

Yellow Iris Spring 2011

Lilac Spring 2011Rose Spring 2011

Hydrangea Summer 2010

Yellow Lily Spring 2011

Peony Spring 2011

Needless to say, the flowers in my garden are absolutely beautiful and I cannot take credit for planting them, because they were here long before I was. I just try to feebly maintain them and hope they last for many years to come!

I am in the process of mapping out my vegetable garden for this season and look forward to charting its progress in the future!

Until next time….keep a song in your heart and take the time to stop and smell the flowers!

Blackberry Fields Forever

When it comes to fruit, it is really hard to find one that I don’t like. And when it comes to Sunday mornings, more often than not, pancakes made from scratch and fresh fruit is the menu choice of the day! Growing up, my dad and mom used to make pancakes for Sunday morning breakfast every now and then. Boy, were they delicious! I never dreamed I would one day own a home that would have blackberry bushes! It took a year, but the harvest was unbelievable! And I never had to plant them! These berries came from my bachelorette pad which we now refer to lovingly as our “other house.” To preserve them, I froze a batch of them and now have them whenever I feel like having one!

Years ago, I quit using box mixes and started learning to make my pancakes from scratch. That way, I can control what goes in and more importantly, what doesn’t go into my dishes! Let’s get cooking!

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I don’t measure much once I have mastered a recipe. So to make things easier, I have taken a recipe that I started with that is very good. If you’ve never done this, it’s a great start and as you get this recipe mastered, you can play with it and change it.

The original recipe is as follows:

4 tbsp SACO Buttermilk Blend

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 c. water

2 tbsp. oil

Sift dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl. Add beaten egg, water and oil. Beat just until batter is smooth. Don’t overbeat! A few lumps in the batter will be fine. Set aside your batter for just a few minutes. Using a non-stick spray, drop by small ladle-full or by tablespoonful onto a heated skillet, turning once lightly browned. Stack and butter.

Now here is what I’ve done with the recipe:

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Cyn’s Pancakes (except for the flour, please keep in mind my measurements are approximate)

3 tbsp. SACO Buttermilk Blend

1 tbsp. raw wheat germ

1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 c. soy flour

1/4 tsp. stevia extract powder

1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 egg

1 c. organic soy milk

2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (I love vanilla!)

Sift together all the dry ingredients and add beaten egg, milk and vanilla. Beat just until batter is smooth. Do not overbeat! This recipe makes about 10 pancakes. Just double or adjust for servings needed.

While watching a cooking show which featured homemade syrup, I decided to try it. The first couple of tries, it wasn’t the correct consistency. I’m still working on perfecting the syrup, but here is the recipe:008

1 c. sugar (I used dark brown sugar)

1 c. water

bring to a boil, let cool, serve while warm

You can add your favorite fruits, extract flavorings, like vanilla, and/or a dash of cream to vary the flavors.

By the time our breakfast was ready, the blackberries had thawed and were ready to eat.

I use real, un-salted, sweet cream butter or a vegetarian variety, Earth Balance Spread atop the pancakes. Add a few of the thawed blackberries and finish with the homemade syrup. Mmmmm! So good!

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Bon Appetite! Until next time….

Smile, You’re On Jeffery Camera – It’s Friday, March 9th, 2012!

 

Jeff and I recently decided to take a weekend trip over the state line into North Carolina and spend a couple of days in Lake Lure. This is the lovely area where they filmed the famous water scene where Baby practices her dance lifts with Johnny. From the day the movie first opened, I was a big fan of Patrick Swayze and his movie, Dirty Dancing. I was a young teenager, totally mesmerized by the beat of the music and the story of young love. It was the 80s and what a decade it was!

If you’ve never taken a drive from East Tennessee into western North Carolina, this is a must-do on your Bucket List. Summer or Fall, this is a gorgeous drive worth taking. There are many wonderful stops along the way to take breath-taking photos, so bring the camera and extra batteries! Because you will need it!

Lake Lure is just a short drive from Asheville and is right next to Chimney Rock. It’s very easy to find and a wonderful day trip if you don’t want to stay over-night. But once you are there, you’ll want to slowly take it all in. It is simply one of the most peaceful, cute little towns I’ve been in!

On the way, we decided to take a short detour and drive through Asheville. This wonderful city has beautiful architecture on every block. There are wonderful restaurants to enjoy and of course, not too far away is the infamous Biltmore Estate and Winery.

Ashville Church B&W

We found this quaint church on a quiet little street coming into town. It was such a beautiful day, that we had to stop and catch the shadows. After spending a few hours just taking in the views of the city, we headed on to our intended destination: Lake Lure.

Lake Lure Marina

The Town of Lake Lure was established by Dr. Lucius Morse. Poor health brought Dr. Morse to the area and from that the idea of a resort community with a lake was born. Dr. Morse’s wife, Elizabeth was given the honor of naming the lake.  But it wasn’t until September 1926 that the dam was completed and the creation of the Lake could begin. I am sure they never imagined that this picturesque area would be made famous by a movie nearly 60 years later!Lake Lure Walkway

This nice boardwalk is around the Lake’s edge. This is one boardwalk that I am sure gets a lot of traffic! It is wide enough for 2 to walk side-by-side and there will still be room for those coming from the opposite direction. There is a playground near the beach area of the Lake as well. Not only can you enjoy summer activities, but now, during the Fall, there is now the Dirty Dancing Festival! We arrived a week too early to take in any of the festival last year.  This year the festival will be held August 17-19, 2012.

Esmeralda Inn

While we didn’t stay at the Historic Lake Lure Inn (which I would like to do sometime) we found a wonderful place just down the road in Chimney Rock. We chose to stay at the delightfully rustic Esmeralda Inn. During my conversation with the helpful person at the front desk, we learned that the floor in the lobby of this Inn is the actual floor that Baby and Johnny danced on in the scenes where he taught her to dance!

Needless to say, we had a wonderful mini-vacation and recommend this little corner of heaven if you’re looking for a place to unwind and relax! HAPPY WEEKEND!!!

Spring Has Sprung Talbott Style!

It has been one crazy winter this year, if you can call it that! We’ve not had a decent snowfall yet! Last year through out the month of January, we were dealing with a lot of ice and snowfall. While it was COLD, it was nice to have the changes of the seasons. And that is something I really love.  However, I am thankful to be able to avoid driving in all the ice!

Just this week, we got a beautiful surprise burst of color around the yard! A few of the early bulbs have bloomed and it is so pretty spread throughout the yard amongst all the “dead” plants.

Here are a couple views of the daffodils and the beautiful little blue flowers (which I’ve not figured out their name) have have popped out!

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These are the only daffodil variety that has come up so far, so I got really excited and took a few more shots of them. I hope you like them!

(And yes, I’m learning how to use our {Jeff’s} camera!)

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But being the foodie that I am, these make me think of breakfast! You know, a wonderful fresh egg to go with some tasty whole wheat toast (homemade, of course!) and seasonal fruit…..ah, but then I digress!

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Since blue is one of my favorite colors, when these little beauties pop up each Spring, they bring a special smile to my face. I thought they were crocus, but I’m really not sure. I’m making the plans to re-do the garden beds and incorporate the perennials with my herbs and vegetables…..

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That’s the little rainbow of color around our yard… Happy Spring!