The Captain has Turned Off the seatbelt sign…

March At a Glance

March roared in like a lion, bringing high winds and roller-coaster temperatures ranging from lows in the 40’s to highs in the 80’s. Despite the winds, we have enjoyed being outside, tending the yard, washing windows, biking, and playing our new favorite sport with the strange name. We have also managed to complete a few indoor projects, including another closet decluttering (I just did this about 6 months ago) and a complete pantry overhaul.

We met with friends for lunch a few times, hosted family game night twice and even ventured out to dinner, where we chose an inside table. (How daring!)

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Cultivating a New Hobby

Wine Appreciation

Have you ever purchased a few bottles of wine at a great little winery, where you had a wonderful tasting experience, just to realize six months later when the shipment arrives, that you really don’t like the wine you purchased? Sadly, that has happened to me, more than once.

I enjoy drinking wine, but I know little to nothing about choosing a good wine. Once the bottle is open and I taste it, I either like it or I don’t. I tend to equate good or bad with the overall experience, and not necessarily with just the taste of the wine. The people I am with, the place I am in, the food I am eating and even the glass the wine is served in have a definite influence on whether or not I like a wine. So, what makes a wine good? Are all ‘good’ wines expensive? Do all good wines come from France, California, Germany? What kind of grapes make good wines? If it is highly rated will I like it? When is the right time to open the bottle I just purchased? At this point, there are more questions than answers.

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Shades of Gray – A black and White Story

When I think of black and white photography, I envision a photograph that was originally taken by using the black and white setting on my camera, or originally taken in color and processed by using a black and white filter. Either way, I consider light, contrast, subject, and composition to ensure a pleasing outcome as not all scenes lend themselves to black and white conversions. Most good black and white photos have varying shades of gray on a spectrum between black and white. As a general rule, but not always, the most interesting part of the photo will be where the contrast is greatest.

I took the photo above in New York City a few years ago. The image, which was applied to the side of a building like wallpaper simulating a trumpe-l’oeil, had some color; mostly faded shades of pink. You can tell it must have been there for a while, because the paper is peeling. The juxtaposition of the worn and tattered paper, to the sweetness of the image is what first caught my attention. The artist signature was not visible, and my internet search was unsuccessful, so I took the liberty of giving this piece a name – caged beauty. What would you name it?

I have included the following image, which is technically not a black and white, or a color pop, simply because I like it. If you have visited Montmartre in Paris, you have likely encountered the hordes of artists vying to create your likeness in charcoal. After studying a few artists, my daughter and I chose the one who eventually drew this portrait because of his attention to eyes. I watched quietly as the image came to life on canvas, observing his quick, precise movements; marveling at his talent as he captured the windows to her soul perfectly. Youth and beauty juxtaposed against his weathered, charcoal stained hand compelled me to take this photo. Although I love the finished portrait, this is the image that tells the story.

The flower below is a simple black and white conversion created in my Iphone. I took the photo in color, with my Lumix GX7 and transferred it to my phone to make the basic edit. It is a quick and easy way to see if I want to take it further with Photoshop or Nik. Personally, I like the color better, so I won’t be converting it.

Black and white images don’t have to be manufactured, and often happen quite naturally. In the four images below, the subject is white, and the background is black/gray. These are literally black and white images. I used Photoshop, and Snapseed (for the quill) to darken the background, brighten the white, and enhance texture within all four images. In three of the four, I enhanced the additional colors to add interest without stealing the show.

This post is linked to Second Wind Leisure Perspective – Sunday Stills Photo Challenge. Terri’s theme this week is Black and White. Anyone can participate, just go over to Terri’s blog and read the rules. While you are there, check out how others have interpreted the theme.

I am also linking up with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share, where people from all walks of life share their stories, passions, and everyday lives. This week she shares her thoughts on coping with the past year.

Treasure Hunting on Jekyll Island

There are two kinds of treasures in this world; those you hold in your hand, and those you hold in your heart. Jekyll Island, GA is where you can find both.

From January 1st, through the end of February, Jekyll Island is visited by thousands of treasure hunters. The marketing campaign was devised in 2002 to attract visitors to this island paradise and to encourage exploration of its natural beauty and history. The prize, should you be lucky enough to find one of the 250 treasures, is a one-of-a-kind, hand crafted glass globe, or float as they were referred to in the 1900’s by local fishermen. source Approximately 4 to 5 floats are hidden each day during the two month period.

The globes that are actually hidden are made of clear plastic and have instructions printed on a tag and tucked inside. Finders are asked to bring the clear globe to Visitors Center and redeem it for the real thing. The Visitor’s Center provides a map, of sorts, which defines where to look for treasure, and more importantly, where NOT to look, such as on private property, unmarked trails, and the local golf course. The annual treasure hunt is a pretty big deal, and there is even a FB Group (Jekyll Island Treasures Fan Club) dedicated to sharing information, including photos of winners and locations of where globes have been found.

hidden treasure with instructions

Malcolm and I have been visiting Jekyll Island for years, and while we don’t need an excuse beyond its natural beauty, we do enjoy the added excitement of the treasure hunt and February has become our favorite time to visit.

This year, we clocked about 60 miles on our bikes while riding on an island that is less than 7 miles long. With over 25 miles of bike trails, biking is the best way to experience the treasure hunt, and the island. The main trail takes you past the historic district, where you will see the famed Jekyll Island Club, which opened in 1888. Its magnificent Live Oak trees, a croquet lawn and several restored cottages, add to the splendor of the grounds and remind us of the elite group who developed this island as their personal sanctuary.

The island was purchased by the state of Georgia in 1948 and the Jekyll Island Club, remained unused and eventually fell into disrepair. It re-opened as a hotel in 1987, and has been the central focus of the historic district since that time. Like most historic hotels, the rooms are small, but the shared spaces and multiple porches are perfect for gathering or being alone. The Crane Cottage (pictured below) is a popular wedding venue. Several other cottages on the grounds have been restored and can be toured.

Trolley Tours Available Daily

Back on the bike path now and rounding the north end of the island you’ll see the fishing pier, marsh trail, Driftwood beach, Great Dunes park and a series of stunning beaches. At the center of Beach Village is the Westin hotel, where Malcolm and I like to exit the paved trail and ride on the sand to Andrews Beach, which is on the Southwest end of the island. It’s a pretty easy ride at low tide, but you will need to pay attention and exit via one of the dune walk-overs before Andrews Beach if the water is rising. We learned this from personal experience! My one regret from this miss-adventure is that I didn’t take any photos of us navigating around the incoming water and fallen trees that blocked our path.

We did not find an island treasure this year, but we did bring home a deeper understanding of what makes Jekyll Island so special and why it compels us to return. This is a peaceful, virtually unspoiled barrier island that celebrates and protects its history and environment. It delights the senses and uplifts the soul. Those are its true treasures.

Jekyll Island has an interesting history that dates back to 1500 BC – too much to share in a post about a treasure hunt. I do hope you will take a look at the timeline here to learn more about this beautiful island.

Shared with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share here.

Getting To Know You

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve made up a game called Yes, this is True to help you get to know me a little better. I’d like to know more about you too, so please leave a few truths about yourself in the comments.

My Idea of a good Valentine’s Day Celebration

Truths About Me

  1. I was born in Florida and have never lived anywhere else
  2. My husband is my best friend (I know we all say that, but it is true)
  3. I eat red meat at least two times per week
  4. If I was inclined to have a pet, it would likely be a cat (that doesn’t shed)
  5. I am/was an ordained Deacon in the Presbyterian church
  6. I created a publishing center for children in a public elementary school
  7. I served as PTA President for two years at my daughter’s Elementary School
  8. I am a self-proclaimed domestic goddess and love home decorating, entertaining, re-decorating…crafting, sewing, floral design, and tablescapes
  9. I value authenticity and individualism in my friendships and on-line connections
  10. I was a swim coach for tykes and toddlers
  11. I think of myself as being creative
  12. I value education and life-long-learning
  13. I have a ‘Potty Mouth’
  14. I was an original founder of my community Women’s Club (now in its 17th year)
  15. I wrote a journal writing workshop in 1996 and conducted sessions several weeks per year for 2 years
  16. I jumped out of an airplane, once and would definitely do it again
  17. I love zip-lines, aerial obstacle courses, paddle boards, kayaks and outdoor adventures in general
  18. I once won an upgrade to a Celebrity Suite on a cruise ship while playing Bingo
  19. I was a member of the Miami Ski Club for several years
  20. I know how to use a variety of power tools
  21. I kept a daily journal for nearly 30 years – they are all boring as hell
  22. I am most comfortable in jeans, a tee-shirt and flip flops
  23. I prefer natural nails
  24. I hate small talk
  25. I will call ‘bulls**t when I hear it (even if I know there will be consequences)
  26. I once owned a horse named Rocky
  27. I don’t have any tattoos and only my ears are pierced
  28. I don’t like dark chocolate
  29. If I were a fruit, I’d be a Pineapple – prickly on the outside but sweet on the inside
  30. I can’t tolerate people who smoke cigarettes, but I will take a puff or two of a very nice cigar
  31. My favorite sweet treat is vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce
  32. Everyone knows my favorite color is blue
  33. I am an eternal optimist

Happy Valentine’s Day

Your Turn

Please share (in the comments) at least 5 things about yourself that I can’t get from reading your blog. Or better yet, write your own list of ‘truths’ and link back to this post so we can all get to know each other better.

Linked to Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share. You can find her over at Natalie the Explorer, where she is busy building a life, and a wonderful blogging community.

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