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.

Summer Fun With My Camera

Summer is an amazing time to enjoy your favorite hobbies. Photography tops my list of favorites.

Summer started with a fabulous trip to Manchester, Vermont. I couldn’t resist shooting this early morning reflection in the swimming pool at Barrow’s House Inn.

As wonderful as summers are they are also busy with friends and family, just the way I like spending my free time. When Thursday mornings hit, my mind starts racing with anticipation of all the fun I have to look forward to with a weekend of friends and family playing on the Chesapeake Bay. I try to capture a few highlights of my summer weekends and those I love.

I caught this moment with my camera at sunset as my two sons, cousins and friends fished until the sun went down. This is what I would call a “full boat!”
Boating and fishing with my little sister and two sweet nieces. Sun and fun on the Chesapeake Bay.
Cousin love!
Another full boat of fun. If you haven’t fished or spent time on the Chesapeake Bay, I recommend you get here soon! This particular favorite fishing spot of my son’s is right off of Kent Island. I was hoping they would bring home some fish to fry.
Another fun activity on the water- tubing!
Summer isn’t alway filled with sunshine. Summer rain storms with a bit of cooler weather is always a nice break from the heat.
Annapolis, MD is a great destination to visit and is where I love to go on rainy days when I can’t be out on the water. Historic Annapolis doesn’t disappoint with its cute stores, restaurants, and bars.
Umbrellas in hand and window shopping with family in Annapolis.
Sister time!
Boat reflections are fun to shoot especially when there is a ripple in the water. A little abstract art here!

I hope all of you are enjoying your summer and spending time with family and those you love. Before owning a little place on the Chesapeake Bay, we would rent a home in Cape Charles, VA. It’s on the Chesapeake Bay too and is located at the southern tip of the Delmarva. Where ever you live, try and budget enough money to rent a place for you and your family to gather once a year for a weekend or even a week and make memories to last a life time! You and  your family will cherish these times for years to come. There is nothing that can replace good quality time with family and those you love.




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.


Spontaneous planned trips are the best and a perk to being an Empty Nester

The excitement of visiting Charleston, SC  and escaping the colder temperatures and rainy forecast was just what I needed to keep me hopeful that spring is almost here. Taking a spontaneous and last minute planned trip was just what I imagined empty-nesting to be about. I packed an overnight bag and traveled with my hubby to this magical city at a moments notice. I can so get use to this type of living and adventure!

I took  this image from the streets of Charleston but don’t think for a minute that I didn’t have my husband touring this way the very next day!
The colorful and historic homes are candy to my eyes. The shadows of the trees add a little extra on this early morning stroll.
The historic homes were painted in mostly pastels on this particular street. Each one distinctive and full of character.
Window-boxes decorated the facades adding even more color, charm, and character to the streets.
This window box is full of happiness and brings a smile to my face.
A friend recommended the crepes at “Queen Street Grocery.” The brie, ham and raspberry crepe was worth the trip alone! If you are visiting Charleston, don’t miss this spot for a cup of coffee, snack or meal.
I plan to return and visit more of the Churches of Charleston. This church was one of my favorites.
The coast was especially beautiful in the early morning just after sunrise.

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:

A Chance Encounter And A Little Photography Adventure

A picture of Laurie before meeting her and hearing about her DC family mission.

A little snow had fallen in the DC Metro area, it was the first snow of the season. The National Mall and Memorials were quiet with only a few people out and about. I took this photo when initially arriving at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a place I enjoy visiting especially on those mornings when there are no crowds. I was curious as to why this lady was out so early and seemed intent to find something or someone on the Memorial Wall.  I sparked up a conversation with her inquiring about her visit to the Memorial and what she was looking for so intently?

And so the story begins….  Lauri  was visiting DC from Oklahoma and was on a mission for her father. Her uncle had apparently died in the Vietnam War and she was the first family member to visit the wall and was in hopes of getting a rubbing of his name on paper for her dad. The task ended up much harder than expected since his name was listed higher than she could reach. I could see the disappointment on her face when she located her uncle’s name- way up high and even a ladder wouldn’t help her at this point. I asked if I could help in anyway and suggested she go to the top of the hill and see if she can lean over and reach his name and I could help her from below locate it. She gave me the column number and line he was etched on. Having come so far and braved the bitter cold, she was not giving up. Lauri quickly ran to the top of the hill but then abruptly stopped in her tracks. Once on the hill, she immediately noticed the sign stating “stay off the grass.” What would she do now? Well… she made a dash for it! I quickly counted the columns for her and then counted up each line to find her Uncle’s name.  “It’s right here,” I kept yelling as she kept re-positioning her pencil and paper until she was over his name. Within a minute or two she was done and off the grass before anyone of authority noticed. I have to say, I admired her determination and passion to get this meaningful rubbing for her father. She couldn’t quit smiling and it was obvious how pleased she was of herself- mission accomplished!

Completing the rubbing of her uncle’s name (a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country) on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Later I was thinking about all the families whose relatives and loved ones are etched on these granite panels making up the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. There has to be an easier way to receive a rubbing of their loved ones name. They had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and their families should be able to receive this in honor of them. So I started researching the topic of  the Vietnam Veterans Memorial name rubbings.  Right there  in a google search was the link to a form to request the rubbing and have it sent to a family member. If you have a family member or know of a friend who has a loved one etched in this Memorial, think about requesting a rubbing. What a beautiful gift it would be. The form can can be found here:

A reflection of the Washington Monument in the distance on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.



Snow, Bomb-Cyclone, Beginning of a New year.

So far, this year is off to a real cold one! The bomb-cyclone of January 2018 hit a bit east of DC leaving the metro-area with under 2” of snow, but with wicked winds, and frigid cold temperatures. The worst of the storm was on the Delmarva peninsula and upward to the Northeast US. I was so tempted to head out that way and stay at our vacation home on the Chesapeake Bay and watch this storm play out but obligations here in Arlington kept me put. If another storm heads our way, I’m bee-lining it to the Chesapeake Bay in hopes to listen to the snow thunder once again.

I admit I’m a bit of a weather junkie, loving all of it! I love the anticipation of a good storm and watching it play out on the other side of my windows. As soon as it is safe to venture out, I’m in it! It awakens me, feeling the rain fall, the splashing of the puddles on my boots, the wind on my face, the snow on my skin, all of it awakens my soul. It is one of those moments that gives me the feeling of “living” not just “existing.” I grabbed my camera in the early morning of the storm as it started to pass on by and went exploring the city.

Snow blowing furiously at National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC.
The Lincoln Memorial and the frozen snow covered Reflecting Pool.
Only a few brave souls out in the snow. Not the usual hustle and bustle of a DC Thursday morning.


Holiday lights are lit to enjoy!

I’ve been a little annoyed at the time change and earlier nightfall this month. How about you? I’m trying to remind myself it is short lived and there are some advantages to an early dark sky. With the holidays here, one advantage of the early night sky is  enjoying the brilliancy of holiday lights all around us starting around 5:30pm. Whether you are running around in the city browsing, shopping, heading  home or enjoying a festival of lights with family or friends, be sure to make the most of all this color and sparkle since it only happens once year. Now go explore and enjoy the spirit of the holidays!

Silhouettes in Holiday Lights.
Squirrels at play
Meadowlark Garden Winter Light Festival
Silhouettes in Christmas Lights

Somerset, here I come!

The Barronville Bridge, Circa 1880 was the first on our stop.

A  friend of mine emailed a group text to several photographer enthusiasts, including me, suggesting a trip to Somerset, PA to photograph the covered bridges at the peak of Autumn color. Some of my best days over the past couple of years have been spent with these fun and energetic friends. We have explored the world around us, ventured into waters unknown to us, laughing until we almost pee, and have spent late nights attempting to solve the world’s problems since our teenage and young adult kids will no longer let us help solve theirs. No way was I  going to miss out on a weekend of fun with these ladies.

The beauty of the bridge could be seen both inside and out.

The most organized of the group, emailed each of us a map with directions to each old covered bridge weeks before we ventured out. A couple of us offered to drive including me since admittedly it seemed to be one of the easiest chores. Hotel reservations were secured from another in the group,  LA (nickname) who always seems to enjoy the finer things in life, leading us to believe lodging would be nothing short of acceptable. A week or so prior to this outing, she stated that one small motel chain appeared to be the only one area since it was the one that popped up in her Google search. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most pleasant of stays, to the point I won’t comment anymore about this except to say, this Somerset highway exit seemed to be a hub for truckers, hookers and several hotel chains. If you ever decide to visit this particular highway exit,spend a few minutes exploring all lodging options first. As I’m still burying thoughts about the one-night stay, LA has since spent time at the luxury resort, Fogo Island Inn, leaving any thoughts of the questionable motel far in her distance.

Dairy Farm in Somerset County, PA.

The beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside and the undeniable charm of the historic covered bridges soon proved to be worth the weekend trip. Unexpected adventures came with the day, as would be expected from these fearless and adventurous women. I don’t think any of us have met a stranger. We are all too quick to pull into picturesque working farms to take images or accompany fisherman, crabbers or clammers photographing their hard day’s work.

Photography is something I picked up just a few years ago and now with my nest empty, I have the time to go explore with my camera. What hobbies are you interested in? Don’t hold back, pick one and try it out. Now’s the time for you to live your best life now!


About me


I’m Mary-Anne, and this is my blog, sharing how I am seriously attempting to live my life with intention. I’m a wife and mother of two young adult boys, living in the Metro Washington, DC area. Professionally, I’m a nurse and passionate about making sure all children in school with disabilities or chronic illnesses have the accommodations they need to thrive, despite their challenges.  When I’m not at work,  I love exploring the world both near and far, photographing and writing about life and things that inspire me. My best days are those spent with family, friends, and creating moments in the day that make both myself and others smile. Living in these middle years known as midlife, fuels my desire to live life to the fullest, making sure each day is with purpose, intent and a dash of adventure!