The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Christmas Eve Family Portrait Session

On December 14th I received a message from Jayme, one of Bob’s coworkers.  Jayme shared his sister-in-law’s Facebook Post with me, which read:

“Recently found out that my entire remaining family (27) will be together on Christmas Eve. We missed other opportunities for a complete family photo in the past and now have lost some. I am looking for someone willing to come and photograph our group on Christmas Eve. I understand how busy everyone is, but thought i would try. Recommendations Please.”

Jayme wrote to see if I would be interested in this photo assignment.

After asking Jayme a couple questions regarding the photo session, he gave me his sister-in-law Stephanie’s phone number.  After conversing with Stephanie, I agreed to photograph her family at 7:00 pm on Christmas Eve.

Munch_FamilyMunch Family
(Click on this image for a larger-size photo)

I photographed the family as a whole and then each individual family unit.  Stephanie had hoped that all 27 family members would be available for the family photo.  One individual, however, was not able to make it to the Christmas Eve festivities.

I am so glad that I agreed to conduct this photo session.  The Munch family was enjoyable to be around and fun to work with.

Merry Christmas!

Bob and I celebrated Christmas with Stacey and our granddaughters this morning.  Stacey, Harper and Juniper arrived around 8:45 am. I prepared Belgian waffles for breakfast. For toppings we had a choice of strawberries, apples, whipped topping, butter, and maple syrup. After breakfast, we opened Christmas gifts.  Everyone was happy with the gifts received.  What made me the most happy, though, was to spend the beginning of this holiday season with family.  I enjoyed our time together very much.

_LG25383Merry Christmas from our family to your family.

Neighborhood Walk

Yesterday’s blog post was about having cabin fever.  I wrote that I might go for a walk.

I did go for a walk in our neighborhood. I left our house around 2:00 pm, after dressing for the 20-degree temperature.

Dressed for 20-degree temperature

I almost didn’t go for a walk, when I discovered that my winter coat was not in the closet. My coat was in the car that was at Bob’s workplace. I took a deep breath and sifted through the closet, looking for a suitable substitute for my winter coat. I found a substitute, one of Bob’s old coats. I had to search for a neck scarf, as Bob’s coat didn’t cover my chest or neck area very well.

As stated earlier, I left the house around 2:00 pm. I walked to our friends’ shop, Slagle’s Speed and Sport. The shop is about a 0.40 mile walk from our house. I visited with our friends Debbie, Paul and Shawn but not for too long. I would get too warm inside, dressed as I was, and I didn’t want to remove my layers of clothing. Debbie, Paul and Shawn were busy too, and I didn’t want to hold them back from getting done what needed done. I walked back home, arriving there about 45 minutes after leaving.

Did the walk help alleviate my cabin fever? Yes, it did a little bit. I think today and Saturday will go a long way to eliminating my current bout of cabin fever. Today I have a beauty salon appointment, followed by a doctor’s appointment.  I will take care of a few errands too. We have outdoor plans for Saturday and for a short while on Sunday too.

One Vehicle Household And Cabin Fever

Last year on June 17th we became a one vehicle household…a two vehicle household, if you count the motorcycle.  Being a one vehicle household has its advantages and disadvantages.

The main advantages of being a one vehicle household are the obvious savings in registration, licensing, insurance, maintenance and fuel costs.

The main disadvantage of being a one vehicle household is the fact that one vehicle is being shared by all members of the family.  In my case the one vehicle is shared between my husband and myself.

My husband works; I don’t.  The fact that my husband works and I don’t is not a big deal during late spring, summer or early fall months.  He can (and often does) ride his motorcycle to work, or ride his bicycle to work or walk to work on nice days.   My husband’s workplace is about 3 miles from our home.  The car is left home in the garage often during non-winter months.  I am left without any transportation most of the winter.

I have cabin fever.  I have been housebound most days since the beginning of this month.  I am really feeling the cabin fever today.  If I had the car today, I would have driven to Betts Park, a local park located along the Allegheny River, or the local Audubon Nature Center.  It was so pretty earlier today.  There is a fresh blanket of snow on the ground; tree boughs bend with snow.  The sun was shining brightly; the sky was blue.  A winter wonderland calling to me.  I am sure that I would have captured many beautiful scenes with my camera.

I know some of you are saying “go for a walk in your neighborhood”.  I might just do that, after I publish this post.  Perhaps a walk in the neighborhood will reduce the claustrophobic feeling I have being housebound.   I know a neighborhood walk, though, will not eliminate my desire to be able to leave the confines of my neighborhood.  A walk in the neighborhood reveals nothing new.  It is the same ole, same ole stuff I can see any day.  A walk in the neighborhood gets boring after a time.

No, this is not a plea for a second car.  I like the advantages of being a one vehicle household.   What I need to be willing to do is to get up, get dressed and take Bob into work on nice, winter days.  Bob goes into work early, though, like 5:30am or earlier.  It is going to take a lot of will power for me to leave the house that early in the morning.


The 2017-2018 Winter Season … So Far

We saw our first snowfall of the 2017-2018 winter season on November 1.

DB011861Our first snowfall, on November 1st, was only a dusting.

On November 10 it snowed again.

Bob mowed our lawn the day before, a good decision on his part.
The snowfall of November 10th was a bit more than a dusting.

Along comes Tuesday, December 12th.  A lake effect snow warning was in effect from 7:00 am until 1:00 pm Wednesday.  We live a little more than an hour’s drive southeast of Lake Erie.  When we have lake effect snow warnings, our snow comes to us as it crosses over Lake Erie.  Heavy lake effect snow was expected, with total snow accumulations of 8 to 12 inches.  Some places in Warren County could see as much as 16 inches of snow.  Sometimes, with lake effect snow, we get a little bit of snow.  Sometimes we get dumped on.  It all depends on the wind direction off the lake.  The lake effect snows that have been hitting us since yesterday morning have resulted in lots of snow.

_LG25331I took this photograph from our bathroom window, looking across our back yard.
This is the amount of snow that was on the ground shortly before 9:30 am on December 12th.

_LG25333I took this photograph from one of our living room windows,
looking across our driveway into our neighbor’s side yard.
This is the amount of snow that was on the ground shortly before 9:30 am on December 12th.

Around the same time I stood on our front porch and took another picture, looking east away from our house.

_LG25334Note the snow on top of my solar lighthouse.  Our street is snow covered.
This photograph was taken shortly before 9:30 am on December 12th.

Later in the day the sun came out for a short time.

_LG25336The sun is out right now, as I am typing this.
I took this picture at 12:40 pm on December 12th.
Our back yard today looks similar to this picture, only with lots more snow.

It snowed during the night.  It snowed a lot during the night!

_LG25339Snow accumulation on December 13th at approximately 9:30 am

_LG25338Look at the amount of snow sitting on the snowman’s head!

The bird seed in the green feeder is being eaten.  Birds have not been eating it, though.  I haven’t seen one bird come to these feeders.  There are deer tracks all around the feeders.  We have yet to see the deer at the feeders.

One last photograph of the snow on the ground so far.

_LG25342I took this photograph from one of our living room windows around 9:40 am today.
My viewpoint is looking across our driveway to our neighbor’s side and back yard.

The snow has stopped falling for the time being.  The sun still shines.  It is a winter wonderland outside.  A chilly winter wonderland, though, as it is only 20 degrees.  At least it has warmed up from the 14 degrees it was, when I awakened this morning!

A Winter Weather Advisory was issued earlier today, which is in effect from 6:00 pm this evening until 8:00 am Thursday.  Another 2 to 4 inches of snowfall is expected for late today and tonight.


Day 2 Thanksgiving 2017

Yesterday’s blog post detailed how Bob and I spent Thanksgiving Day.  Today’s blog post is about our drive back home from Niagara Falls.

We crossed over the Rainbow Bridge from Canada into New York.  Our first stop was in Niagara Falls, but not at the falls.  We stopped at the Old Stone Chimney.

_LG25239Old Stone Chimney

The Old Stone Chimney is a masonry chimney, which was built as part of a two-story barracks on the site of the French “Fort du Portage,” or “Fort Little Niagara,” by Daniel de Joncaire in 1750.  The Chimney has been repurposed several times since by British and American interests and relocated three times (1902,1942 and 2015).  The Old Stone Chimney is currently located between the Niagara River and the Robert Moses Parkway east of the Adams Slip along the bike path on the river. We have passed by it several times driving to and from Niagara Falls.  This was the first time that we stopped at the Old Stone Chimney.  What a beautiful location!  Standing in front of the Old Stone Chimney, the skyline of Niagara Falls Canada can be seen in the background.

As we did on Thanksgiving Day, we chose not to cross over Grand Island. Our route home took us down the east side of the Niagara River through Tonawanda. We made a couple stops in North Tonawanda. Our first stop was at Fisherman’s Park, where we visited two memorials: a U.S. Marine Corps Memorial  and a U.S. Navy Seabee Veterans Memorial.

_LG25243U.S. Marine Corps Memorial

The next four photographs are pictures of the U.S. Navy Seabee Veterans Memorial.




_LG25247This sculpture is what caught my eye on Thanksgiving Day, as we drove by the park.

It was 11:00 am, when we departed Fishermans Park.

We found the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, but it would not open for another hour.  We hope to visit the museum another time, perhaps with our granddaughters.

Our last stop in North Tonawanda was at the East Hill Foundation.

East Hill Foundation
The lighthouse caught my eye, as we drove through North Tonawanda on Thanksgiving Day.

20171124_161720720_iOSThe gate was locked, so I took pictures through the fence.

20171124_161839931_iOSEast Hill Foundation sits alongside Niagara River.

From North Tonawanda we followed I-290, I-90 and Route 219 through Ellicottville, NY.  We stopped in Springville at Ponderosa for lunch. It had been a while since we ate at Ponderosa, as we do not have that restaurant near to our home.  The buffet food selections were extensive. Everything we ate was delicious, especially the stuffed peppers. I went back for seconds of the stuffed peppers.

We were back on the road at 12:45 pm.

We drove through Ellicottville to Allegany State Park, where we made one photo stop.  We stopped at Bridal Falls.

It’s a short (~.25 mile) hike to Bridal Falls from the Program Site 62 sign on ASP Route 1.

Bob found these memorial stones near Bridal Falls.

20171124_190419064_iOSOne last parting shot of Bridal Falls

It was around 4:30 pm, when we returned home.  What a wonderful Thanksgiving mini vacation we had!  I hope that your Thanksgiving holiday, was as nice as ours!

Thanksgiving 2017

Based on posts that I have seen on my Facebook news feed, Bob and I spent Thanksgiving Day differently than most of our Facebook friends and family.

We spent Thanksgiving Day in Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada).

We departed home on Thanksgiving Day at 8:00 am.

Our first stop was in Jamestown NY at Bob Evans restaurant. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Bob ordered a Border Scramble Omelet.  I ordered a Farmer’s Choice Breakfast. A woman stopped by our table, shortly before we were done eating, and gave us a $3.00 off coupon. How nice!

We were back on the road at 9:05 am.

We took a different route to Niagara Falls. Instead of driving over Grand Island, we came up the east side of the Niagara River through Tonawanda NY. I noted a few points of interest as we drove through Tonawanda: the East Hill Foundation, the Herschel Carrousel Museum, a U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, and a U.S. Navy Seabees Memorial. We returned home via the same route.  Please keep an eye out for a subsequent blog post about our stop in Tonawanda.

We arrived at Niagara Falls, NY around 11:30 am. Having time to kill before we would be able to check into the Embassy Suites hotel, we stopped at Niagara Falls State Park. We have an NY State Park Empire pass card that provides free admission into NY state parks. We did not need the pass card, as admission was free at Niagara Falls State Park both on Thanksgiving Day and on Black Friday. We took a brisk walk to Prospect Point, where we enjoyed an overlook of the falls. Our walk was brisk because it was a bit nippy outside!  It did feel good, though, getting out of the car after the 2 1/2 hour drive from Jamestown.

We entered Canada via the Rainbow Bridge.  There was light traffic at the border crossing, so we arrived in Canada very quickly.

After a short drive up Clifton Hill and Lundy’s Lane (when we found it), we made our way to the Embassy Suites hotel.  We arrived there at 1:00 pm. Check-in time is at 4:00 pm. Our room was ready, so we were able to check in immediately. Our room was located on the 19th floor, with a view of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. Being a Hilton Honors member has its advantages. We received two bottles of water upon check in.  At the tour desk we purchased two 24-hour WEGO passes at a cost of CA$7.50/ea.  The WEGO bus service is an excellent choice for transportation, while in Niagara Falls.

What a great afternoon / early evening we have had. Using our WEGO passes we rode to Casino Niagara, arriving there around 3:40 pm. We enjoyed Thanksgiving Day dinner (turkey & trimmings) at the Market Buffet, located at Casino Niagara. Our hotel package included several perks. One of the perks was a $30.00 off coupon for dinner for two at The Keg Steakhouse. We opted not to eat at the Keg Steakhouse. It cost us the same, or perhaps even less,to eat at the Market Buffet than it would have cost us at the Keg Steakhouse. Another perk was free slot play. We used CA$25 free slot play at Casino Niagara.  We didn’t gain any money, but we didn’t lose any either! We walked from Casino Niagara to Table Rock, stopping often to take pictures of the illuminated falls and some of the Winter Festival of Lights displays.  Please enjoy the Smilebox slideshow that I created of photographs taken during our walk.

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At 6:15 pm we watched a short fireworks display over Horseshoe Falls.

If the video does not appear in your browser, please click here for the direct link.  In addition, please click on HD for best video quality.

We returned to our hotel, via the WEGO shuttle bus. Soon after returning to the hotel we hung out for a short time at the hotel bar. Bob ordered a double rye whiskey, and I ordered a Diet Cola. Both of our drinks were complimentary, another hotel package perk.  At one point in time I reached for my glass to get a drink of Diet Cola.  It wasn’t Diet Cola, though, that entered my mouth.  I wasn’t paying attention and picked up Bob’s glass accidentally.  Yuck! Yuck!  I do not like rye whiskey, not at all!

At 8:10 pm we watched a second fireworks display from our Fallsview room. I didn’t capture any photographs of the fireworks.  I did, however, capture a couple photographs of the Falls illumination.

_LG25233American Falls
(as seen from Embassy Suites hotel, Room 1901)

_LG25236American and Horseshoe Falls
(as seen from Embassy Suites hotel, Room 1901)

We went to bed around 10:00 pm and awakened too early the next day.  It was 4:00 am.  Neither of us could get back to sleep, so we got up.  We read our hometown newspaper on line, checked out some Black Friday online sales (no purchase made), and skimmed through Facebook news feed.  At 5:00 am we returned to bed and slept until 7:00 am.

We awakened in time to see the sunrise over Horseshoe Falls.

Soon after getting up, we went to the 9th floor for a hot, complimentary breakfast.  Our food selections included made-to-order omelets, scrambled eggs, bakery items, pancakes, potatoes, sausage, ham, a variety of juices and other hot and cold beverages.

After breakfast, we relaxed in our room for about an hour. Then we packed up our stuff to check out. We waited for over 20 minutes for an elevator. It seemed like the elevators were passing right by our floor. I finally called the hotel operator. I didn’t even get to finish my statement to her that several of us had been waiting for an elevator on the 19th floor before she told me that she would send an elevator to us. Within a minute an elevator stopped at our floor.  The elevator was packed, but Bob and I and two more adults and two children (with our luggage) managed to squeeze in.

Before leaving Canada we drove around Dufferin Islands, where we saw several Winter Festival of Lights displays.





Perhaps Bob and I will have an opportunity to return to Niagara Falls before the Winter Festival of Lights ends to see the displays lit up.  The festival ends January 31, 2018.

We crossed over the Rainbow Bridge into New York.

Please keep an eye out for my next blog post about our drive back home.



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