Favorite Cookies

My all-time favorite cookies are chocolate chip. Especially with Guittard milk chocolate chips. I made some this weekend:


The very same day, I saw this on line:

Charles Schultz

Charles Schultz

Made me laugh.

I’m going to be in L.A. today, so won’t be able to answer comments. See you Friday!


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Travel Scan: Prague, Old Town Square

The photos below were taken from the tower at at the Old Town Hall in Prague.


Those beautifully colored buildings with amazing architectural details? Everywhere in Old Prague. Truly a stunning city. Would love to go back and shoot for days.


I had to turn the camera to take everything in. Sorry if it gives you vertigo. I’m not a fan of heights, but this tower didn’t bother me at all.

The statue depicts religious reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake for his beliefs. Hus opposed Vatican control of the church and later became a symbol of anti-Habsburg rule. The memorial was erected on July 6, 1915 to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.


As you can see, the square was a tiny bit crowded. We were there in July, peak tourist season, and the city was packed. It was OK in the early morning, but after that, wall-to-wall people. I’d like to see the city in the winter with snow and fewer tourists.
The large squares are umbrellas for outdoor cafes.

Seriously, if you get the chance, go see Prague. This city will not disappoint.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Nobel Hall


Stockholm’s City Hall. It houses Nobel Hall where they have the Nobel ceremonies, and was completed in 1923.
I took this shot of the exterior from the shuttle bus because I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to shoot it when we went in. I learned that lesson in St. Petersburg, big time.


The Blue Hall (Blå hallen) is the main hall and is best known for the annual Nobel Banquet after the Nobel Prize award ceremony. The walls were supposed to be done in blue mosaic tiles, but architect Ragnar Östberg changed his mind and used unfinished red bricks. For some reason the name stuck.


Up the stairs from the Blue Hall lies the Golden Hall (Gyllene Salen) named after the decorative mosaics made of more than 18 million tiles. The mosaics illustrate motifs from Swedish history. This is where they have the ball after the Nobel Banquet.


The mosaics were installed between 1921 and 1923 by the firm Puhl & Wagner in Berlin.


You may recognize the Eiffel Tower in this one.


Golden Hall is 144 feet (44 meters) high.


I have to say, it was pretty cool to see the gold lit up by sun streaming through the windows.


Details in the hall and a close-up of the mosaic tiles.


Gustav Vasa. The building was inaugurated on June 23, 1923, exactly 400 years after Vasa’s arrival in Stockholm. He was king from 1523 until 1560, and his grandson was responsible for building the Vasa ship.


As you can see, nearly everyone is gone. I took this on the fly to give an idea of the size of the hall.


Outside, a beautiful view. I believe that is the island of Riddarholmen and the Riddarholmskyrkan, the royal burial church since the 17th century.
I wish we’d had more time in Stockholm!

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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First Rose

I intended to blog about Stockholm today, but just didn’t have the time. I’m working on a collaboration with Flickr that’s exciting, but time-consuming. More on that later. Oh, I’m also teaching myself how to paint with watercolors. A little intimidating, but fun so far.

For now, the first rose of spring from our backyard:


Sooo happy this rosebush survived the fire.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Tropical Green

I have lived in Southern California for more than ten years, but I still get a kick out of seeing bananas and grapefruit growing outdoors. Especially in the winter:



Hope your week’s going well so far.


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Top 12 on Flickr

I noticed that a lot of bloggers did retrospectives right after New Year’s. I thought about doing that, but decided instead to look at my stats on Flickr to see what’s getting the most views. It gives me an idea of what will sell and what won’t. But not always. Sometimes I’ll spend a good deal of time setting up a shot, only to watch it fall flat. Or I’ll hesitate to put up a photo that I think is inferior and it does great. Other photographers have told me the same thing. Anyway, here are my top 12:

1. african_iris_web

2. hibiscus_web

3. sweden_cykel_web

4. beach_pair_web

5. quail_leaves_web

6. ALB_jesse_house_web

7. boy-toy_web

8. candy_web

9. yellow_heirloom_tomato_web

10. Tallinn_pink_roses2_web

11. petunias_basket_web

12. teaforthree_web

Incidentally, numbers 4, 7 and 10 were shot with the iPhone. The stats include everyone who views the photos, not just photographers on Flickr. When I posted the photo of Jesse’s place (number 6) Breaking Bad was still really huge, so there was a lot of curiosity. The popularity of number 7 is a total mystery. Maybe people are Googling “boy toy” expecting something different? ;)

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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Restoring a French Château

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

I can’t remember how I found @chateaugudanes on Instagram, but I’m so glad I did. The photos are unbelievable. An Australian couple, Karina and Craig Waters, bought the Château de Gudanes in the Midi-Pyrénées in 2013. They’ve been restoring it ever since and are recording the progress on Instagram, Facebook and their blog chateaudegudanes.org.

Would you believe the architect was none other than Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who did the Petit Trianon in Versailles, the Hotel de Crillon and Place de la Concorde? Even in a state of decay, the place is gorgeous….

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

The château has 94 rooms (!) and was built in the mid 1700s.

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

This ceiling is one of the many treasures uncovered during the renovation process.

The following photos are enough to give me pause.

photo courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org

photo courtesy of chateaudegudanes.org



Evidently, the château was empty for years and the roof collapsed in four different places, causing extensive water damage and mold. A lot of the interior was inaccessible because of so much rubble. Definitely not for the fainthearted, but how amazing it will be when completed. Can’t wait to see that.

In case you’re interested, there will be a 15-day restoration workshop at the château this summer. Details on the blog. I so wish I had the time and money to do it.

Hope your weekend’s going well so far.


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Insta Mint

Have I mentioned that I love Instagram? I really do. In seconds, you can see falling snow in St. Petersburg, Russia, a sunset in Indonesia and a cool vintage Fiat on a London street. There are some incredible photographers there and I enjoy seeing how they adapt to the square format. Some put up photos taken with “real” cameras, but most use a smart phone. I mostly use my iPhone and occasionally, the iPad.

Anyway, there’s a group on Instagram called “Nothing is Ordinary,” and they ask for photos fitting a different theme each week. Last Friday the theme was “mint.” I have a vintage teacup and saucer in that hue, so I brewed a cup of tea, added a slice of lemon and took a few shots. This is the one I submitted to #MINTFRIDAY_NIO:


To my surprise, it was selected, along with three others in a lovely grid:


The administrator of the group did such a nice job combining photos, didn’t she? I really enjoyed being a part of it.

OK, great weekend, everyone!


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Vasa Museum

On our flight to Copenhagen, we were next to the nicest man from Sweden, a pilot for a different airline. When he found out we were going to visit Stockholm, he said we just had to see the Vasa Museum. Luckily, we had booked an excursion there.

The Vasa Museum opened in 1990 and is located on the island of Djurgården. It houses the only almost-fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628.

It is staggering, to say the least, to see this ship in person.


I didn’t have a wide-angle lens, so had to take many different shots from different angles. I think you get an idea of the size when you see how tiny the people look below. There were three floors for different vantage points, which I thought was brilliant.





The Vasa heeled over and sank in the Stockholm harbor after sailing less than a mile. Captain Söfring Hansson was arrested but released. Attempts to raise the ship continued into 1629 but without success.
In 1961, the Vasa was raised after 333 years.



The ship’s lack of stability was a factor in the sinking. The underwater part of the hull was too small and the ballast insufficient in relation to the rig and cannon. According to the website, the captain knew the ship was unstable and should have sailed with the lower gunports closed.


The stern castle. Isn’t it amazing that the wood carving survived? Or that anything survived all those years?

Over a hundred crewmen were on board, as well as women and children. The crew had permission to take family and guests along for the first part of the passage through the Archipelago. Not all perished, fortunately.




The bow.

Vasa has had certain parts that were missing or heavily damaged replaced. The replacement parts have not been treated or painted, but the lighting was so dim I couldn’t tell. Looking at the photos last night, I noticed the ropes look pretty new.



The last thing raised from the Vasa wreck site in 1967 was the ship’s longboat or Espingen.


A model of the Vasa. Three centuries under water. Mind-boggling.

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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Winter Coral

The coral trees are in bloom here now. I find them to be so cheery with their bright red-orange blossoms.


The trees are native to Brazil, but manage to thrive in California too.

Great weekend, everyone!


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