FRIDAY FLOWERS

May I present:
Camellia sasanqua

Isn’t she lovely? I don’t think this one has ever (in my four years in this house) bloomed this early in the season. But no matter. I am very pleased! She sits right out front for all the world to see and has many, many flowers and buds.
The bees seem quite happy to see her!

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My red dahlias.
No, I don’t know what they are except that they have come down in my family for many generations! I carried the tubers down here when we moved and they are, for the most part, doing well. They are not too happy about all the heat, but I try to plant them in partial shade. After languishing all summer and the leaves turning blotchy and yellow, they have come out of “summer shock” and are now flourishing. We should have another month or so of warm weather so I hope to have more bright spots throughout the garden!

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 And the white Japanese Anemones are always a favorite.

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Some pink anemones, a last lavender straggler and some wild chamomile make for a dainty and ethereal bouquet!

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 I know…I said I would be doing another post on our trip to Albuquerque and our hotel. But somehow I  think we are all (me included) travel-posted-out. I will do it eventually.  In the meantime, you can see some photos of our time out there over on my Flikr page. Hope you enjoy!

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TRAVEL: TO NEW MEXICO

A week ago we were off to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a short stay.
We have never been to the Southwest or the real desert (does Palm Springs count?) and have planned, and then cancelled, several trips out there. So this was it!

We stayed at Los Poblanos: Historic Inn & Organic Farm

I’m going to tell you all about this most wonderful….probably the very best….inn we have ever visited. But that will be later in the week. For today let me show you the hot air balloon photos I took. The Balloon Fiesta, an annual event in Albuquerque, was taking place all last week with thousands of hot air balloons and enthusiasts. No, we didn’t go for the event, but it was an added bonus to our trip!  In the morning you can see them slowly rising up all over town and in every direction. If one is near enough you hear the whoosh of the propane as they rise higher. It is spectacular!

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Across the lavender fields, looking east toward the Sandia Mountains

 

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The two landmark silos at Los Poblanos.

 

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Day 2 and even earlier in the morning…

 

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I love the contrasts here. I drove over to be near the balloon park and was amazed at how entirely different the light, and the balloons looked from here.

 

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Day 3

 

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This was looking west, toward the Rio Grande. Can you just see the moon?

 

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Sunset. Not bad.

 

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Take a look at their site: Los Poblanos. I’ll show you more later this week!

 

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SPENDING SOME TIME IN LONDON

 We were “based” in London and, while we didn’t have endless days to explore, we DID get around!

We chose just the right hotel:
The Rockwell Hotel

It was convenient (tube stop: Earl’s Court). There were many good restaurants within easy walking distance (see below.) Our room(s) were lovely and comfortable. The staff was wonderful and so helpful. The courtyard garden in the rear was a perfect place to have breakfast.
Our first three nights we opted for a large room with terrace and it was just the right decision. Lovely lovely. Then we checked out (for our night in Sissinghurst) and checked back in to a smaller double; then I checked out again and left to visit Julie and returned for one night in a single. The hotel staff was very accommodating in all these comings and goings!

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We had bought tickets to the Tate Modern exhibition of Matisse Cut-Outs
I had never been to the Tate Modern and am oh so glad I had bought tickets months ahead. Even the birch tree allée leading to the museum is wonderful; and the walk along the Thames Embankment is not to be missed. It was very low tide when we finally left the museum and lunch in the restaurant (that was a great Pimm’s Cup!) and the Sunday walk along the river was a great experience.

Needless to say, it is an exhibit to see.  And, if you missed it in London you can see it in New York where it opens this week, October 12 and continues through February 8, 2015.

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I also spent some time with another new friend,Doris, of
Diary of an Interior Novice

Doris is originally from Australia but she has settled permanently in London with her husband and young son. We met at the V&A: I had time to walk the galleries and have some lunch out in the garden area before meeting up with Doris who invited me to the
Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 Exhibition

We both loved looking at not only the historical evolution of the wedding dress, but also the details and textures and fabrics and designing of these ever-changing dresses. If you have a chance, I highly recommend the exhibit.

And now, on to food!

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A few places to recommend:

Côte Brasserie
Among many yummies we had was that crepe up on the left. Can I say to die for?

And another French restaurant just by Earl’s Court:
The Little French Restaurant
The advertised price is £12.50 for a 3 course meal and this is T R U E. Cash only. I had Coq au Vin and it was respectable; the salad had very fresh greens; and Creme Brûlée was tasty. No, not a 4star meal, but for  £12.50 I am not surprised it has become a neighborhood favorite!

And this was a very special Birthday Lunch:

Bar Boulud

Bar Boulud was our favorite! The staff was SO accommodating (we had to make last minute changes) and our light lunch was beyond good. For such a hyped name, this restaurant is almost down-home good and friendly. Highly recommend!

In general we found the food to be really good: much better than we expected, lots of variety in restaurants, and of course, the “tea everywhere” suited me perfectly.

 

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FRIDAY FLOWERS: HAVING FUN

It’s Friday again and I don’t have much time! But here is a small selection of shots I took in the garden today. You can see each flower “full size”, taken with my iPhone. Then I attached that little macro lens from Photojojo. Quite a difference, as you can see.
It is tricky. My hand is very steady…… and yet, I had to take many shots up close as most were blurred.

If you have tried this lens, I would love to hear your experiences with it. Like it or no?

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Loving my new find in dark crimson!

 

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Classic flower in a classic color…

 

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Yellow + Zinnia: what could be better?

I’ll be back on Monday with the final post in the
Mother/Daughter Travel series!

 

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USING THE PHOTOJOJO LENS SERIES

Raise your hand if you know about
Photojojo

Hmm. No, I didn’t think I would see many hands.
So let me tell you about this product.

Photojojo promotes itself as having
“The Most Awesome Photo Gifts and Gear for Photographers”;
the tag line says: “for iPad/Instagram/Android/IPodTouch/Vine Photographers.”

Since I have an iPhone, those are the products I was looking at. There are ALL sorts of accessories for iPhone photography, but their series of lenses is what has made news for the brand, and is what I purchased a month ago.

I bought this Wide Angle/Macro lens for $20.00. Since I don’t have a real macro lens for my Canon Rebel T3, I thought this would be great (not to mention fun and sort of cutting edge!)

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The site states:
“How it works: each set comes with an adhesive removable metal ring. The ring (or plate) sticks to the back of your phone, and the phone lens attaches magnetically. Snap it on and off in an instant!”

Yes, this is true. But it depends: depending on your model and make phone,you may need to use the ring,or you may need to use the strip. For me, with the iPhone 5 it was the strip. They provide a strip in both black and white so it can color coordinate with the back of your phone. For me it was black.

However, and this is a big H O W E V E R: you cannot use it with a case on your phone. No one stated this, as far as I could see. Now, my case (which I loved) was not easy to get on and off. A few nails would chip every time….not good. So there was no way to use this lens (or any other from Photojojo) unless I had a caseless phone. I went off to the mall in search of an easy on/off case and found a very pliable plastic/rubber one. It’s fine. but it’s not what I really want. Yes, I will keep it, and it’s worked well so far and yes, it’s easy to take off to use the lens.
That was a long explanation, wasn’t it?

Here is the lens attached to my phone. You can just see the black strip at the top of the phone.

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This is just how close you have to be to your subject. When they say Macro, they mean MACRO!

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You need to hold the lens about 1″, or closer, from your subject.

 

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But just look at what you get:

Close up

Kind of amazing, no? Look at that detail!

To give you some perspective here…compare the size of these tiny acorns to a regular lemon:

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And last, these are the best close up/macro shots I could get with my existing cameras and lenses. Not really good at all for macro.

 

Close Ups of Acorns

 Here are some random shots I took out in the garden:

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One of my favorites: leaves on our hotel terrace in London.

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What do I think about this Photojojo iPhone lens?

At first I was really thrown off by just how macro it is and how close you have to be to the subject. And, the case issue was a problem for me but one with which I have come to terms. I don’t use the lens all that much so I’m fine.

  • Recognize that this is going to take some time to get used to and master!
  • The least movement of your subject and all is a blur because it is SO macro. And with an iPhone, it can be difficult to hold it steady especially if you have the phone at arms length or not resting securely.
  • These lenses are very small! Beware. They would be very easy to lose or misplace.
  • Be ready to switch cases if you need to.

I haven’t really used the Wide Angle much so will be experimenting with that soon.

As in so many new technologies, the possibilities are endless! I have barely scratched the surface of the many fun ways to use this lens. Hey, for $20.00 it’s just plain fun….

 

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