Anyone else visiting their local county fairs this summer?

I hope  this annual past-time never leaves small town USA. It’s one of those happenings that no matter how many years have gone by, it feels like time has frozen when you go to the local small town county fair. I had a blast this summer evening at Queen Anne’s county fair in Maryland! I hope this annual past-time never leaves small town USA. This campground was filled with laughter, carnival lights, games and smiles.

All ages watching as livestock is being judged at the 4-H portion of this county fair.
This pint sized cowgirl displays her horse’s ribbons with pride on her stall.
Proudly displaying the Maryland State Flag on this barn stall door. A “penny” for this horse’s thoughts.
A girl and her horse…
A fair isn’t really a fair without carnival food. My favorite this year was by far the “Crab Cake” dinner hosted by a local civic group.
I couldn’t leave without a candied apple. What’s your favorite fair or carnival treat?

I’d love to hear about the fairs and carnivals you’ve visited this summer. If there is one you believe is a must, please let me know in the comment section and I may put it on my summer to do list for 2019.

Horses, Hats, and Smiles

The forecast was for rain but with a little luck and some prayers, the day was perfect. Yes, there were a few light showers but spirits, spring colors, hats, smiles, and cocktails brighten the day!

It’s hard to believe I’ve lived in Virginia and the DC area for over 20 years and this was the first time I went to enjoy and watch the Gold Cup Races. I know for a fact it won’t be my last. What events are you missing out on right in your backyard? Do a search for your city and countryside fairs, events, races, and wineries, then put them on a list and go!

Perfect countryside setting for these beautiful horses and colorful jockeys today.
Maybe a winner here.
Hats and more hats of all colors and sizes on display.
Picnic tailgating was full of color, flowers, sweet tea, and cocktails.
More Sangria please?
Gold Cup Mules and Mint Juleps.
More pickup trucks, hats and smiles.
Cocktails anyone?
Horse Race tailgating and all its prep.
Big smiles and big hats at the Gold Cup Races. I wonder how many big winners there were?
It wouldn’t be the South without a little Lilly Pulitzer.
This bright pink hat won the category of “most outrageous” hat.


An adventurous morning on the Chesapeake Bay with my camera.

Embracing life and finding what brings you joy might just lead you to more adventure, friendships, and learning more than you ever set out to find. Choose a time where you can just sit and brain-storm about what makes you happy and what hobbies or experiences can lead you to living a full life, one with purpose, intent, and a dash of adventure. Then go for it!

Tonging for Oysters at sunrise on the bay. Enjoying new experiences with my camera in hand.
Several boats were gathering at Kent Narrows working in pairs tonging, sorting, measuring size of oysters, and crating them to be sold to a shucking house.
Checking for size and viability of the oyster.
Keeping the oysters that are over 3″ from hinge to bill is the legal size for harvest.
Chesapeake Deadrise Boats at Kent Narrows getting settled to start tonging for Oysters.
I have a greater understanding now for the men and women working on the water – fishing, crabbing, and oystering. In addition to being hard work, seasonal work, and in often harsh climates (this morning temperatures were well below freezing) it’s also passionate work. The enjoyment of  seafood is now a much different experience for me- it’s one much more appreciated.
The Chesapeake Bay Deadrise Boat is the typical work-horse boat of the bay.
The stillness of the bay lends itself to some beautiful photography water reflections this morning.
Ripples in the water create interesting reflection images.

A reminder to buy local seafood whenever you can. Choosing to add sustainable, healthy protein to your plate supports local fisherman.
To learn more about tonging for oysters:

Why I Decided To Pick Up A Camera

Sounds of wind whipping outside and getting caught in the fireplace causing howling sounds echoed throughout my bedroom this morning. I must have been in a light sleep and on the verge of wakening because I woke up feeling rested with not even a yawn. I could have sworn I was smelling coffee brewing but it was just a figment of my imagine because I was by myself at the bay house this weekend and I hadn’t even to the kitchen yet. I guess I was so eager to have my first cup of coffee that my imagining it took hold. Coffee and everything else seems to taste better when I’m out on the Chesapeake Bay. I know that sounds crazy but it must be my state of mind when I’m able to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and daily life there. Anyway, I made myself a cup of hot, strong, black coffee with a tad bit of sweetner- just how I like it.

My plan was to start writing first thing this morning and not just starting but staying put until I actually have finished writing a post. But the weather outside, even with the rain, was pulling me outdoors. So after just writing a few sentences, I headed outside in the wind, the rain, and cold. I wanted to awaken my senses, my soul a bit and actually feel alive with the wind and rain on me. I’ve mentioned before how much I love weather. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t run out the door every time it rains to get soaked, just every now and then, I want to be in the midst of it. This early Saturday morning is one of those times. One of the reasons I came out to our little place on the Chesapeake Bay is because we haven’t been out here to winterize the place since the weather changed. I know it’s already January and two small snows are already behind us but the last few months have been hectic. There’s not that much to do but the outside furniture, kayaks, and canoe all need put in our shed until spring. Since I wasn’t sure about the weather for the rest of the day, I felt now was as good of a time as any to load up the shed with our things. This way I was able to accomplish a task too.

A few of the things needing to be put away until Spring.

I’m hoping to get most of my chores done and write this post so I can venture into town and enjoy some photography. Taking pictures has been a hobby of mine for only a few short years. I’ll never forget the moment I realized I HAD to learn to take good photos, images that would really mean something for years to come. It was in early 2012. It was never anything I had thought of before. I didn’t grow up as that young kid with a natural and creative talent in the making. I never felt a creative juice inside of me until my deepest emotions and vulnerabilities were stirred and tested in late 2011. Though I didn’t take many spontaneous pictures of my family and friends, I did make sure we had yearly photos done as a family. I wasn’t totally absent in this area, I just never captured the day to day moments, the real essence of my kids in action in addition to the posed ones. But I wasn’t going to let more days or months go by without learning and making the time to do this.

I picked up my  point and shoot camera and started taking pictures especially of my oldest son, who had just been diagnosed with serious illness. This was a devastating and life changing event for him and all of us, this was the moment I knew I “had” to capture as many moments of him as possible. I remember when the thought  “I don’t have pictures of him,” at least not many capturing those expressions that I loved so much! You know the ones, where your child has that distinctive cute expression on their face? Those special nuances that make your child them. These were the expressions and moments that I wanted so dearly to never forget and have them as my children became older and maybe would grow out of some of the expressions. The thought at this moment of not having these images took my breath away, I actually thought my heart was going to stop beating. I felt panicked, fearful and full of regret that I didn’t have more images of both my boys. Tears would not stop running and thoughts of this wouldn’t even take a pause in my mind. What have I done or better stated not done? I immediately knew, I wasn’t going to miss out on capturing as many of these future moments as I could. Of course, because life and kids are so unpredictable, I never thought that they wouldn’t actually want their pictures taken at any given moment, at least not by me!  It was at times truly annoying but I wasn’t going to give into this totally. We were going to have to find some compromise.

So, this is why I picked up a camera and starting shooting photography. Initially, I was so disappointed in my pictures. Who thought snapping a good picture would not be easy or wouldn’t turn out like I had imagined the photo to end up looking? After trying on my own for over a year, I decided to google “learning photography in DC” and there it was, a workshop coming my way by Bryan Peterson. I had no idea who this was but the timing was right and it would be an entire 2 days. I figured I’d probably learn everything I needed to in these two days to take awesome pictures. I realize now, that I was crazy to think that was possible. But of course, at that time, I didn’t know why anyone would ever use any of the camera knobs other that keeping it on “automatic” mode. I didn’t know why there were different gadgets on the camera and really didn’t care to know until I showed up for this class. This workshop opened my eyes to the real skill and talent it takes to learn to capture incredible images. The reality that I wasn’t going to walk away in two days and take incredible photos was a bit disappointing to say the least, but at this point I’m vested in learning. I upgraded my old point and shoot camera to a Canon DSLR and started taking pictures whenever I had the opportunity.

FYI-Anyone starting the journey of learning photography should really look up Bryan Peterson and consider either an online class by him or taking a weekend workshop.

I can’t wait to share with you the rest of my journey to learning photography in upcoming posts. I can’t forget to mention, the friendships I’ve developed because of photography. This is probably my most exciting, time-consuming, expensive but also rewarding hobby I have. What hobbies brighten up your day and challenge you?  One of the perks to being a midster and empty-nester is the ability to make time for hobbies in addition to having the wisdom to know how important hobbies are for our overall wellbeing. They can also lead to unforgettable adventures, which has been my experience since picking up a camera. It gives me a perfect excuse to go explore and experience life and watch it unfold around me. How are your hobbies contributing to living your best life now?

On one of my many photography adventures so far. This was on a trip with photographer friends at Smith Island, MD.