Posted on Jan 14th, 2011 by Allison (Family/Friends, Photography)

Emily and Marie are so cute. They’re fun, happy and smart. But their personalities are very different.

Marie (5) is affectionate, creative, loves imagination games and wants to be just like her big sister. Emily (7) is more serious, likes solitary activities like drawing or reading, worries about what people think of her. She hates it when people ask if they are twins – because she wants to be seen as ‘older.’

Marie likes to smile pretty in her photos. Emily likes to pull silly faces. Both girls are excellent at turning on the drama when they are unhappy :)

I am taking a lot of photos. And anytime Marie sees me taking one of Emily, she wants to be in it (which irritates Emily to no end). And even worse, Marie wants to HUG her in all the photos.

Emily had been thwarting hugs all day, much to Marie’s chagrin, so we all asked Emily to please just pose for one photo while Marie hugged her.

ME: Emily, the sooner you smile the sooner Marie will stop hugging you…

ME: Come on – give us a real smile!

ME: Nice! OK – just a couple more shots….

Emily, looking at her mom: Are we done yet?
ME: Just one more shot…

Emily disengages from the hug…. and Marie is crestfallen.

Marie tried again a few days later with a similar result….

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Costa Rica: Day 3

New year’s day was nice and relaxing. Friends of Brandon & Jennifer came by to visit and share what they’d learned about the process for gaining residency and the various hoop jumping necessary to prepare for the birth of the baby in June. The Engelhardts are really great people and we enjoyed some very interesting conversation. I’m glad I got to meet them.

I also took photos of them for their newborns birth announcement for their family in Holland.

And here are the lovely Pearce ladies in the garden.

We went out for an early dinner at a wonderful little open air restaurant just down the street – Monte Companas.

I experienced my first Costa Rican mixed fruit drink here – and it was delicious. This was peach, mango, papaya and starfruit. And I think it was only about $2.

I was lost looking at the menu (in Spanish), so just took Jen’s recommendation for a traditional Costa Rican meal – Arroz con pollo – rice with chicken. It was served with french fries (which seemed a bit odd) and steamed vegetables. It was very, very good – something I’d order again. I was so eager to eat it I forgot to snap a photo first. Sorry.

The food is only one of the great things about this restaurant. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere comfortable and inviting, and the prices very reasonable. They also have a playground for the girls (making it a great “date night” restaurant for Brandon & Jennifer), and an absolutely incredible view.

I give it 4 clams.

I’ll leave you with a couple of scenic photos I took on the way to dinner. You can click them to enlarge a bit. These were taken from the same place in the road – one shot to the southwest, the other to the southeast. Costa Rica is a beautiful country, isn’t it?

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Posted on Jan 4th, 2011 by Allison (Costa Rica, Photography, Travel)

OK, I’m a little late – but hey, I’m in Costa Rica :)

Day 2… New Year’s Eve
. We spent most the day at home relaxing. Except for Jen who cooked more authentic Costa Rican food for me to try. Here she is bringing me a plate of patacones – which are fried green plantains.

We dipped them in a black bean puree with Lizano sauce mixed in. Lizano is a staple condiment here – and I’m going to have to pick up a bottle to take home. Quite delicious.

We took some photos, read some books and blogs, meditated, listened to music, worked on Emily’s mermaid curtain craft.

My hair is a lions main needing to be tamed… the flat iron I brought is pretty much pointless though in this climate.

But do you like my new glasses?

Isn’t Brandon handsome?

I’m really liking his new beard.

We headed to town for a potential dinner out, but most everything was closed for the holiday.

The town was sure bustling, though. Looked like they had something big planned in the town center (park).

But we don’t really like crowds, so headed back home to enjoy the evening.

After a delicious burrito dinner, we gathered around on the floor to play our first game of Rory’s Story Cubes.

What a riot! I recommend this game for anyone who enjoys fun and creative play. Basic idea is you roll dice with pictures on them and make up stories based on what you roll. We were laughing ourselves silly, and only stopped because it was time for a movie… much to Marie’s chagrin, we opted for The Incredible Mr. Limpet. (She wanted to watch Robots)

Marie went to bed, but Emily wanted to stay up to watch the fireworks and ring in the new year with us. And ring it in we did. From the veranda, we have a panoramic view of a huge valley. It encompasses several cities – the largest of which is San Jose.

At midnight it began – and was an amazing spectacle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many fireworks at one time in my entire life. Even though we were far away from the action, we were awed at the sheer number of sparkling explosions which lasted for a good 30+ minutes.

I shot some video and have edited it down to a little over a minute for you. Please note that this video is only of the San Jose portion (and only part of San Jose) – I didn’t have a wide enough angled lens to capture the entire valley. Enjoy!

How did you ring in the new year?

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Posted on Dec 31st, 2009 by Allison (Family/Friends, Photography, Travel)

Christmas morning with Marie and EmilySanta delivered me to Salt Lake on his sleigh this year.

At least I think that’s what happened – I went to bed in Seattle and woke up Christmas morning in Salt Lake.

A bow on the door led Emily and Marie to open it and see what Santa had brought. It made for a fun surprise.

The camera is not my friend first thing in the morning.

Jennifer prepared a fabulous meal (I have no idea how she keeps the kitchen totally clean the entire time she prepares the meal… I’m thinking it must be magic.)

Brandon expressed his anticipation for his move to Costa Rica by donning a tropical shirt. They are becoming ‘Location Independent‘ and moving there in less than a week – you can read about why and how they are doing it on his blog.

jen-meal Brandon is ready to go to Costa Rica

Ashley and family joined us for dinner and visiting for the rest of the day (and I didn’t take any pics!). But the girls had a blast together. And I got nauseous when I attempted to play Mario Cart with them.

Kennedy on Christmas DayI joined Ashley and family for the next couple of days. Kennedy opened her gifts from me on Christmas night. Justin had to work a graveyard shift at the hospital, so after Kennedy went to bed, Ashley and I stayed up for hours and played on their new Wii. I suck at Super Mario Brothers, but at least I didn’t get nauseous. And I bowled pretty good…. Wii is fun.

Oh – did I mention that it’s been FREEZING here? Not as cold as forecast (3 degrees at night) but still pretty damn cold. These are the frost crystals that form on Ashley’s kitchen window. Cool, huh?

A frosty window

Cool Frost CrystalsIt snowed a bit and I slid all over the road – even in a 4 wheel drive Tahoe. OK, not all over the road – just down the hill, but even so I did NOT enjoy it. But I had to venture out to have a meal at Cafe Rio

And the Salt Lake Valley inversion has been horrible. I am finally seeing a little sunshine today! I hope it lasts…

But the frost crystals – very cool.

And to finish up, a few more pics of the granddaughters….
Marie the snow angelEmily hugs her snowman


Tonight, I’ll be helping out with Ashley and Justin’s New Years Eve party.

How was your Christmas? What are you doing for New years?

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Posted on Aug 18th, 2009 by Allison (Funny Stuff, Photography)

I’ve been extremely neglectful of my blog. I’m sorry. I actually have several titillating articles started, but haven’t had the time or energy to complete them yet.

Just returned today from a trip to Utah where I visited with family and took photos of a wedding and a bridal shoot…. once I recover I promise to regale you with fascinating tales of intrigue, valor and humor. Maybe not. How about I just promise to write something soon.

Flower GirlIn the meantime, I will leave you with a Kennedyism that had me in tears, along with a picture of the bride.

Ashley, Kennedy and I were in the car, Ashley and I chatting away. Kennedy interrupts with:

K: “Mom…. Mom?…. ”
A: “Yes, Kennedy?”
K: “Mom, do you know how hot you are?”
A: (Ashley and I exchange amused glances)… “Um, no – how hot am I?”
K: You’re as hot as a CORNDOG! You’re SO HOT!

She provides constant entertainment…..

And here’s the lovely bride – Ashley Creger Roberts:
Ashley Creger Roberts

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Posted on Jul 5th, 2009 by Allison (Family/Friends, Photography)

Shaun, Darren & Jordan What started out as a rather ordinary day turned into a very enjoyable holiday celebration.

My neighbor, Darren (in the center), who happens to be a chef, invited me up for a delicious barbeque late afternoon. I enjoyed meeting his his nephew (just moved from NY to attend college) & his friend Jordan.

David I also got to meet and become friends with David, a friend of Darren’s visiting from Chicago.

David is a landscape designer and we started talking plants and gardens right away… and didn’t stop for most of the night. We plant nerds tend to bond quickly.

We made the drive into Seattle for fireworks over Lake Union…. and, after driving up and down nearly every street, were amazingly lucky to find a parking spot just a couple of blocks from our vantage point above the freeway.

It was a beautiful night and we were gifted with an incredible sunset prior to the fireworks show.

Sunset at lake union

I found what I hoped would be a prime spot for photographing the fireworks and set up my tripod. Darren & David found a less crowded viewing area, so I socialized and discussed classical music with Steve, a local resident. We were surrounded by a very international crowd – I heard several languages being spoken, including Russian, Japanese, French, and what I believe was Farsi.

And then the fun began! This was probably the most artistic fireworks display I’ve ever seen…. simply breathtaking. Here are a few of the 300 pictures I took…

Fireworks and Lake union

So what did you do for the holiday? See any great fireworks?

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Posted on Apr 11th, 2009 by Allison (Photography)

I love flowering trees…. 

Lane lined with pink trees

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Posted on Mar 26th, 2009 by Allison (Photography, Travel)

OK, back to Kauai for a post or two.

There is a wide variety of landscape on Kauai – farmland, forest, beach, mountain, rocky cliffs, red dirt….

Jungle in KauaiAnd even though we know it’s the tropics, it is always quite surprising each time we come upon areas that are “jungle.”   

One of my favorite jungle spots is on the north side of the island, along the stretch of road just south (west?) of Kalihiwai bridge.   The picture to the left was taken right next to the road, on one of those famous “Kristin, stop here!” excursions… 

On this one, I believe she actually tried to (jokingly??) enlist the help of a local cop to get me to come back to the car…. didn’t work : )

Tree Tunnel near PoipuOh, there is a more famous stretch of road on the south side of the island (shown here on the right) – actually known as “Tree Tunnel.”  And it is rather impressive, especially since it has had a chance to fill back in a bit after Hurricane Iniki in 1992.   Man, that hurricane wreaked havoc on the island…  

CHICKENS!!!!   (inside joke)

But even though Tree Tunnel is more famous, it simply can’t compare to the tree canopy covering the highway on the north shore.  This stretch of road simply takes my breath away every time I see it.

There is even a beautiful waterfall right along side the road. Nowhere to park nearby, so we roll down the windows to see and hear it each time we pass. Next trip I think we should commit to park and make the trek down the road on foot to walk across the bridge and take pictures.

Canopy of trees on Kauai north shore

The day was rather overcast, and it is hard to see how dense and green the jungle is without some sunlight filtering through – but these giant vines growing up the grees are beautiful and impressive.  Thanks again, Kris, for humoring me and my camera…

Kauai Jungle

And this last picture is from the jungle area near Ke’e beach at the end of the road on the north shore.  When Ashley and I stepped into this forest, it was an incredibly surreal, unnatural looking green.  I’m not sure this picture can even capture how green it was – felt like we’d just stepped into the emerald city and even we were green.  

Green jungle at Ke’e

Of course Ashley tried swinging on a couple of those vines, but it didn’t work…

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Posted on Mar 16th, 2009 by Allison (In the Garden, Photography, Travel)

Pink HibiscusKauai is known as the Garden Isle – for good reason.

Here are some of the beautiful (and sometimes strange) flora we have encountered…

A flaming hisbiscusHibiscus is everywhere. Peach colored, double hibiscus

I love Bouganvilla… particularly this salmony/pink color. But the deep fuschsia is awe inpiring as well.

Bouganvilla creates fantastic bursts of color along the roadside, climbing walls, pruned into trees, arching over walkways.


PlumeriaPlumeria is just coming into season. We continue our quest to find pink plumeria blooming on a low enough branch to photograph…

Pink Plumeria

I LOVED this funky looking blossom below… we found a tree covered in them. I believe it is called Ohi’a Lehua.

It looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book, doesn’t it?

ohia lehua blossom, aka funky dr. seuss plantAlong with a bottle brush tree.

(weird, huh?) Another dr. seuss plant

This tree looked like it was covered with big yellow rananuculus.

rananuculus tree

Pink gingerThere are many red ginger plants around, but I prefer the pink.

An orchid growing in a plumeria tree.

Orchid in a tree

Interesting blue flowerI love blue flowers…

Blue lotus

Little pink flowers

OK, enough for tonight. Tomorrow is our last day in paradise….

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Posted on Mar 11th, 2009 by Allison (Photography, Travel)

This sleek lizard looked pretty cool poised on his leaf.


And on every one of my last four trips to Kauai I have tried to capture a good photo of these adorable cardinals. They are SOOO cute, make us very happy each time they appear – and they always show up in pairs. Always. Today, I finally got my first good pic of the Red-Crested Cardinal.

Red Crested Cardinal - Kauai

MustafaAnd why did I even bother to bring a hair straightener?

I should have known that 15 minutes in Kauai would turn my once sleek hair into an unmanageable lions mane.

Just call me Mufasa (Ashley did…)

I’m exhausted… so more tomorrow.

Be sure to check out Kristin’s blog for details of our lei making.

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