Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed

“For this week’s challenge, find the shadows. You can choose a literal interpretation and shoot an actual shadow or you can play with the light and the dark, and create a moody scene or capture your subject in a rich and interesting way.”

Jenn Hooks

I chose to play with light and dark……


{Early evening in autumn}


{Under the Christmas tree}


{Making a wish}

This post is inspired by the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed.  Many other talented bloggers have shared their interpretations of this Challenge here.

A Brief Study in Seasonal Contrast

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I spent several hours trimming and tidying up the yard, bushes, and flower beds.  While I worked, I had the opportunity to look closely at the remains of a luxurious growing season.  Perhaps you think there is nothing to see in a garden this time of year.  And, if you are looking for the vibrance and voluptuousness of summer, you would be right.  It is true that the plants I tucked in for a long winter’s nap were mere skeletons of their former glorious summer selves – dried out, brown, and brittle.

And yet….

These perennials displayed a spare, fragile grace that I found beautiful and moving in its own way.  So, smack in the middle of raking leaves and pulling weeds, I felt compelled to grab the camera and attempt to capture the fleeting and inherently sad loveliness I was seeing.  I’m sharing the best of the shots here along with some images from the summer.  It’s quite a contrast, don’t you agree?  Let me know what you think.

Coneflower (August)


Coneflower (November)





Lacecap Hydrangea (June)



Lacecap (November)





Tea Leaf Vibernum (September)



Tea Leaf Vibernum (November)





Mophead Hydrangea (June)



Mophead Hydrangea (November)





Fall Foliage Festival – Bedford, PA

This past weekend my husband and I ran away to the little town of Bedford, Pennsylvania for a few days.  Our destination was the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa for a bit of seriously overdue rest and relaxation.  We happened to be ahead of schedule and looking for something to do until check-in when we drove right into the middle of the Fall Foliage Festival, a street fair held in the middle of the historic downtown area.  Instead of grumbling about the traffic jam caused by the party, we decided to park the car and join the fun.

With white tents filled with arts and cratfts lining the streets, dried corn husks decorating every light post, live music playing from the small bandstand in the square, and the smell of freshly pressed apple cider lingering in the air, this little town obviously knew how to celebrate the arrival of autumn.









Some of our favorite finds included: artisanal soaps, balms, and candles made from honey, mustard made with banana peppers, reprinted vintage black and white photographs, pottery with saturated matte turquoise glazes, and local maple syrup.  And the food – my, my, my!  Dipped-while-you-wait gooey caramel apples, funnel cakes dusted with powdered sugar, fruit cobblers and apple dumplings served warm with melting vanilla ice cream.  Big piles of homemade potato chips called crock fries.  Fresh fudge and candied nuts. And, of course, deep fried everything.

We indulged in perogies with fried onions from Pittsburgh, a pumpkin whoopie pie the size of a compact disc, pecan tartlets, and fresh kettle corn.  (For the record, we only ate the perogies at the festival – I’m munching on the sweet/salty goodness of the kettle corn as I type.)  Apple cider was on our short list, too, but when we finally got around to standing in line at the tent, they were already sold out.


[ Freshly pressed apple cider ]


[ Giant whoopie pies called Gobs ]






[ A tiny antiques shop with a beautiful collection of early 20th century pottery ]

The town of Bedford has been nestled in the Allegheny mountains of western Pennsylvania for a long time.  Bedford County was established in 1771 and the county seat boasts the oldest county courthouse still in use in the state.  The old commercial buildings and homes in the historic district create quite the charming vibe.  With its antique stores, specialty shops, and unique museums (think the National Museum of the American Coverlet and Old Bedford Village), Bedford would be a temptation even without a Fall Foliage Festival.






[ We ate our perogies on the steps of this Post Office building ]


[ The Bedford County Courthouse ]


[ An art museum ]




If you’d like to visit this little piece of America, Bedford is located 102 miles east of Pittsburgh and 102 miles west of Harrisburg just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the Bedford exit.

What have you done to celebrate the arrival of Fall?

Finishing Strong

Ace, my youngest son, plays the upright bass.  This is good and bad.  The good is the beautifully deep and mellow sound that resonates from the bass’s belly whenever Ace applies himself to practicing (which isn’t nearly often enough).  The bad is the lugging of said ungainly instrument back and forth to school every Cycle Day 6 for lessons (which seems to happen entirely too often.)

It usually rains on Cycle Day 6.  By the time I get the bass and Ace tucked away in school and climb back into the car, I am drenched.  (I challenge anyone to carry an umbrella and an upright bass at the same time.)  To my complete amazement, it didn’t rain a single drop the last time the bass went to school.  Instead, the morning was graced with moody clouds, shy sunshine, and muted autumn colors.  It was so lovely, I took the long way home just to revel in the subdued beauty a little longer.  Driving past the harvested fields, the farm stands piled high with pumpkins and chrysanthemums, and the trees tipped with ochre and rust, I suddenly realized just how deep into fall we’ve progressed and how quickly 2012 is fading away.

With only ten weeks left in the year and the holidays barreling down on me like a runaway train, I’m feeling the need to refocus my efforts on some goals I made earlier in the year.  Burn out and a lack of enthusiasm is interfering with my progress.  I also have a few short-term new goals I’d like to complete before 2013 rolls around.  I’m sharing my goals here on Whimsey Pie because writing the list down provides an accountability I don’t have if I just keep the ideas in my head.  Don’t expect anything overly ambitious.  Most of these eleventh hour aspirations are just little things that offer some focus to my fragmented and harried life.

Last Ditch Efforts for 2012

  1. Finish the 50/50 Reading Challenge.  Do I need to offer an explanation?  I didn’t think so. (But you can check out the details here if you’d like.)  I’m just 13 books and 13 movies away from the Finish Line.  I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can……
  2. Finish reading through the Bible.  In January, I began a year-long Bible reading program.  It has been an incredible experience so far but I’m about three weeks behind schedule.  It’s going to take some effort and dedicated reading time, but I should be able to catch up; I’ve been farther behind than this before.  I plan to use the Bible as one of my 50/50 Reading Challenge books when I’m done.  Bonus!
  3. Walk 90 miles.  This sounds ambitious, but it really isn’tIt’s just 3 miles a day, 3 days a week for ten weeks.  I’ve been walking as a form of exercise for years so I’m not really trying to develop a new habit.  I’ve just been a sloth lately (I keep blaming it on my busy schedule) and I’m rather sick of myself.  We’ve been enjoying sublime fall weather around here and I’m completely missing it!  It’s time to start putting one foot in front of the other for better health and a fresh attitude.
  4. Begin the process of applying to two Master’s degree programs.  The ultimate goal here is to begin a Master’s program in the fall of 2013.  I need to apply first and the application process requires some leg work (letters of reference, transcripts, letters of intent, essay questions, etc.).  So that I don’t become overwhelmed, I’ll take baby steps – fill out applications, approach individuals about writing references, and begin the essay.  There now. That should be a solid start toward my next (and last) significant educational goal.
  5. Memorize one Christmas solo to play on the piano.  Studies by experts who know infinitely more than I do on the topic say that this type of activity will help to protect my brain from all sorts of dementia and memory loss.  I consider this a very good thing.  However, it is not the main reason this goal made my list.  Memorizing a difficult song will challenge my skills as a piano player and give me an excuse to play for uninterrupted chunks of time – something I love to do and rarely have the chance.  The hard part will be choosing the song.  How about “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”?
  6. Participate in a service project with my family.  I want each of my kids to develop a servant’s heart.  That can’t happen when we are rushing from one self-centered activity to the next.  Even though I haven’t completely fleshed out this goal, we ARE going to take a day and give freely of our time and energy to an organization that serves people in need.  Hopefully we can take the experience and turn it into a regular habit.
  7. Clean and organize the kitchen.  With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, baking will soon be kicking into high gear at the Whimsey home.  It would be so wonderful to have fresh spices, baking soda and powder, and plenty of parchment paper on hand.  Being able to easily locate measuring spoons, scoops, and spatulas would be quite nice too.  And a clean oven?  Heaven.  I won’t sugar coat it – the kitchen needs some major TLC – but the tidy rewards will be worth every ounce of sweat.  I can almost smell those delicious spice cookies.

Well, now, so much for nothing too ambitious.  LOL!  The gauntlet has been thrown down, though, and I’m taking up the challenge.  Wish me luck!  Better yet, pray for me!

Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish before the end of the year?