Monday, March 27, 2023

Playing Catch Up

Thankfully the sewing room doesn't aggravate my shoulder, I was able to get in a solid afternoon of stitching time with no discomfort.  Since it's been about a week and half since any real stitching happened, it took me a bit to sort out where I was on things. The SAHRR is over for this year, but since it's up on the design wall in bits and pieces it was the easiest project to just jump back into.  

Center birds made using "Feathers"
by Margot Languedoc Designs from The Pattern Basket


The flying geese borders from week 4 are now completed and attached.  The spacer strips are cut, so that's the next step.  There are seven more square in a square blocks to make before assembly of the week 5 border can happen. Grad Girl asked if this quilt had a home.  It's intended for My Guy, but she may well talk him out of it.  We'll see.  

Last week was spring break here and in Texas. Grad Girl had some time off so we went to visit for a long weekend. We lived southeast of Houston for 8 years, so College Station isn't that far from some of our old haunts. Old Baylor Park was one of common stops when we were out photographing bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush in the spring.  One of my favorite photos of Grad Girl and My Guy was taken there.  I convinced them both to pose near the same tree for an updated version. 

The 20 years between these photos has just flown by.  We had a good visit. I'll share some of the wildflower photos later. As nice as some of them are, the photo on the right is my favorite from this trip.  

My Guy suggested that I try raising the monitor screen to see if that helps with my shoulder issues.  I'm trying that this morning to see how it works, but I'll still limit my computer time to about an hour.  If that works, I'll try for longer tomorrow.  

Linking up with Monday Design Wall and Patchwork & Quilts.  

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Stitching Stuff: Week 12 of 2023

Sorry that this week's linky party is just a bit late, I'm still trying to figure out how to be on the computer and not hurt afterwards, so my timing wasn't the best this week.  So thank you for your patience.  

Thankfully my back seems to have healed, but I'm still fighting shoulder issues. So long as I limit my computer time, I don't hurt, but go over an hour or so and I'll hurt for most of the day.  The shoulder has kept me out of the sewing room this week as well, so my metrics for the week are pretty dismal.  

  • 15 minute days/week = 1/7 days
  • 15 minute days/March = 12/25 days
  • 15 minute days/2023 = 64/84
  • Success rate = 76.19%

I'm still on track with my goal to stitch at least 75% of the days in 2023, but just barely.  The only bright side is that I've had more time to play with my photography lessons.  I was able to get into the sewing room yesterday for a bit and not hurt. I'm hoping for a bit more pain free time today.  I'm really behind on blog reading and I miss seeing what everyone is up to.  I've tried different computer set ups to make things more ergonomic and that has helped but not solved the problem. So for now I'm going to ration computer time and see how that works.  

Hopefully you had a much more successful week on the stitching front than I did.  

1. Gretchen
2. Karen
3. Julie in GA
4. DonnaleeQ
5. maggie f
6. Melisa- Pinker n' Punkin Quilting
7. Quilting Gail
8. Ivani
9. Janice - Jannimary
10. Amanda
11. Celine
12. kris@SewSunshine

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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Week 63 Photo Challenge: A Car

We suspended the challenge for a week because two of us had a hard time getting a photo for the last challenge card. 

Cars are everywhere, but how do you get an interesting shot?  Even after a second week, I was scrambling around last night trying to figure out a picture for today. 

Kate: A visit to Lego Land

I finally decided to go with a toy car. This is one of Grad Girl's many Lego sets (we have a whole city set up on the bookcases in the living room).  I'm in the process of disassembling these sets as part of my decluttering efforts.  But maybe I shouldn't be in such a hurry. They've been the subject of several challenge photos over the last couple of years.  

My Guy went with you don't see that car every day. 

My Guy: Presidential limousine

We visited the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station last week. It's not every day you see a Presidential limousine. We enjoyed the visit, but it really put our history knowledge to the test. We did a lot of "Oh yeah, I forgot that happened then" during our viewing of the exhibits.   

Grad Girl went with a completely different perspective on a car. 

Grad Girl: From the Kid's Perspective

This has been Grad Girl's view from the back seat for 24 years. When she was a toddler, we made a lot of long drives from south Texas to Missouri.  As part of the entertainment (so we could get a little farther down the road), we would often hand her one of our point and shoot cameras. There were usually a fair number of little feet photos, but there were also sure to be a few shots like this on the card too.   

The challenge for this week should produce some really fun photos.

We only have 8 cards left. We will be sorry to see the end of this challenge, it's been a lot of fun for all of us.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Photo Play #5: Photographing the Familiar

I've been off the computer and out of the sewing room for about a week now in an effort to get my shoulder and back lined out.  Both are improving. I'm hoping to get in a bit of sewing time this afternoon, just as I'm getting in a bit of computer time this morning. I'm starting with a photography post as I've done a lot more of that recently. I'm hoping to get back to the quilting posts on Sunday.  Fingers crossed that there are no ill effects from this morning's computer time and this afternoon's sewing sessions. 

I'm still a bit behind on posting how the photography improvement program is going.  The photos in this post are from mid-February.  These photos were all taken with a Canon 70D with a Tamron 18-400 telephoto lens.  The photos haven't been edited other than to reduce the file size. 

By this point I'd been on each major trail in town once.  It was still winter here at that point, still pretty brown. What would there be to photograph that I hadn't seen before?  You do have to look and take advantage of chance to find new images. 

I noticed the lichens in this photo when I got close to the trunk to take a photo of the branches against the sky.  The colors and textures are really interesting.  Rather than brown there's black, grey, orange, yellow and white.  The textures and colors made this one of my favorite photos from this walk.

One thing I noticed as February passed was the presence of more birds.  My walks in January were mostly silent.  There were two crows who were being pretty vocal about something during this walk.  Crows aren't beautiful birds, but I pulled this photo out of the days shots because it was the best out of 5 photos. All of which were in focus and reasonably composed. That was a big contrast to my robin photos from January, where only two or three out of about 40 shots were actually in focus.  Turning on the lens stabilization and getting the shutter speed right really made a big difference. 


Yes this photo was taken on the same walk as the crow photo. What happened to that blue sky? Within minutes of the crow photo, the clouds moved in.  I also shot with a slower shutter speed and smaller aperture, so less light. I really like the atmosphere of this shot.  It's more dramatic, almost threatening.  This is my favorite shot in this post.  


Most of my walks include at least one shot of tree branches.  I love the patterns these branches make against the blue sky. That is one part of winter here in Oklahoma that I like, the sky is so blue since it's so dry here (no water particles to muddy the light).  


By the end of the week, there were some trees starting to bloom.  This tree is on a different part of the walking path, but I was so thrilled to see these early buds. Unfortunately, it was windy that day and none of my close ups were really in focus.  The telephoto lens only goes so far. Still, that blue, blue sky works for me every time.  

Taking the time to learn the controls on my camera is starting to pay off.  More in focus wildlife photographs, better ability to capture the scene how I want it to look by manipulating the light getting to the sensor.  Learning to really look is still hard and even harder is to slow down and think rather then just point the camera and press the shutter.  I'm getting better, but it's still not second nature yet to think if the camera settings are going to give me the best shot.  

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Stitching Stuff: Week 11 of 2023

My stitching week hasn't been very productive.  My shoulder and back have not improved. I've stayed off the computer and out of the sewing room for most of the week as instructed.  That's resulted in me finding other activities that are contributing to the problem. I'm hoping to get a handle on both issues sooner rather than later.  I miss my sewing room as you can see from this week's stats. 

  • 15 minute days/week = 3/7 days
  • 15 minute days/March = 11/19 days
  • 15 minute days/ 2023 = 63/78 days
  • Success rate = 80.77%
Fingers crossed that I can find and eliminate the triggers that are causing these physical issues. I miss my sewing room.  

How did you do at finding time to stitch?  

1. Gretchen
2. Karen
3. Julie in GA
4. Ivani
5. DonnaleeQ
6. Andre
7. Quilting Gail
8. Shasta @ High Road
9. Amanda
10. Carol Andrews

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Stay at Home Round Robin: Not Quite a Finish

I had really hoped to make more progress on the Stay at Home Round Robin project this week, but I continue to have issues with both my shoulder and my back.  I've been instructed to stay out of the sewing room and minimize my computer time.  So here's where my version of the SAHRR stands as of today.

Center birds were made using "Feathers"
by Margot Languedoc Designs from The Pattern Basket.

Borders 1, 2 and 3 are complete. border 4 is almost there.  There are elements of borders 5 and 6 completed.  Here's the EQ version.

I'm excited to finish this project. It's been fun working with each one of the design elements.  I'll definitely be playing along next year, though I really need to seriously downsize my project for next year.  Even a throw sized quilt is tough in 7 weeks.  

You can check out all the other 2023 SAHRR quilts over at Quilting Gail's.  There are some very creative projects this year.  

Monday, March 13, 2023

Working Towards a Finish

The last three or four weeks haven't been especially conductive to sewing room time. First the shoulder and then my back issues required me to reduce my activities, including stitching. Consequently I'm not where I'd like to be on the Stay at Home Round Robin.  The final parade is up today at Quilting Gail's.  We have till next Monday to link up which is good because my version is still in lots of pieces.  

Border 3 with the hourglass blocks is assembled.  The corresponding spacer border has also been added.  

Border 4's flying geese are all made and are slowly being sewn together.  One border has been stitched to the top, three more to go.  

All the paper piecing templates have been printed for border 5's square in a square blocks.  These are the last 2 green squares I'll need, but I still need to sort through the blue scraps to find centers for ten more blocks.  

These windmill blocks take a lot of assembly. There's one more in pieces over at the sewing machine.  I still have a lot more of these to make.  

My plan is to keep working on these bits and pieces.  I'm hoping of  to link up with the final parade later this week with all but border 6 completed.  We'll see how that goes. 

Linking up with Design Wall Monday and Patchwork & Quilts today.  

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Stitching Stuff: Week 10 of 2023

Did you over sleep this morning?  It's the first morning of Daylight Savings Time.  We tend to take the time changes in stride, I know many aren't so thrilled with the biannual disruption to their schedules. I'm looking forward to additional daylight at the end of the day, I tend to sew more in the evening if the sun is up.  

This wasn't the greatest week on the stitching front.  I'm not sure if I've just reached "that age" or if all my efforts to get fitter backfired. Just as my shoulder was just about back to normal, I managed to wrench my back.  Wednesday wasn't fun at all, but by today, things seem to lining out again.  But there were a couple of days where sitting any length of time just wasn't happening.  

  • 15 minute days/week = 5/7 days
  • 15 minute days/March = 8/11 days
  • 15 minute days/2023 = 60/70 days
  • Success rate = 85.71%
Sometimes life happens and you just have to go with the flow. I'm hoping this is it for being side lined by aches and pains.  

How did your stitchy week work out? 

1. Gretchen
2. Julie in GA
3. Karen
4. Michelle
5. DonnaleeQ
6. Melisa- Pinker n' Punkin Quilting
7. Jennifer in Indy
8. Janice - Jannimary
9. Amanda
10. Carol Andrews

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Saturday, March 11, 2023

Week 62 Photo Challenge: Refections

The challenge card for this week could be interpreted many different ways. 

It certainly produced some interesting photos from the three of us. 

Kate: Celestial Reflections

Moonlight or Sunlight?  To capture the reflections on the water of either of these celestial bodies requires pushing the camera to the extreme. Either slow shutter speed, large aperture or faster shutter speed with a small aperture.  Either way, I had to play with the settings a lot to get an image that was in focus and properly exposed.  

My Guy has cool reflections from nature, but he went with a more upscale subject for his image.  

My Guy: Reflections and Refractions

These I love the gold and red in these glasses.  My Guy captured not only his own reflection, but reflections of other items in the china cabinet and some cool refractions as well. It's definitely an unexpected image.  He has such cool ideas for his photos.  

Grad Girl's photo this week has a bit of a creepy vibe. 

Grad Girl: Alien Lab?

My first response was, wow it looks like an alien lab from one of those sci-fi pictures.  The way the top of the apparatus merges with Grad Girl's head gave me the impression of an alien life form (That statement is probably not going to go over well with Grad Girl, but she knows her mom is a bit out there sometimes. Hopefully, she'll forgive me.)  At any rate, I think it's a cool photo.  

This week's challenge seems pretty straight forward. 

It should be fun to see what mischief we get into trying to get images for this card.  

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Photo Play #4: Losing the Point and Shoot Habit

Retirement is odd. For someone who's worked since she was 16, it's been a bit of an adjustment to not have on my schedule "go to work".  Luckily I knew the importance of getting a new schedule in place. It's easy to just drift if you don't think through how you want to spend your time. One of other items that needed more attention was my exercise program, that has been pretty much nonexistent since the Pandemic.  So three days a week I take my camera out on a walk. It's a nice synergy, some days it's the desire to get photos that gets me going, other days it's the "you really need to get your walk in" that has kept the habit going even when I'd rather not.  

I'm lucky to live in a town that has a walking trail that covers most of our community. I have several places to start my walk, so it's not the same scenery every day.  I'm still playing catch up on posting my photos from my practice sessions.  The photos in this post are from early February, when it was really cold (no, it wasn't easy even with both goals to convince myself to get out).  All photos taken with a Canon 70D with a 18-400 Tamron telephoto lens. The photos have not been photoshopped other than to reduce the file size. This is what the images look like out of the camera. 

I was able to get a number of shots of this blue heron walking on the frozen lake. I was thrilled to get something mostly in focus with a decent framing.  But the colors are a bit washed out.  At that time of year and time of day, the lake is slightly backlit. I realized that at the time, but wasn't sure how to make the adjustments needed to get a better photo. I'd really been treating my DSLR as a big, expensive point and shoot.  I didn't really understand any of the modes or settings. It's been a while since the need to make adjustments like aperture or shutter speed manually.  After this walk I found a copy of the book The Canon 70D for Dummies.  I'm slowly working my way through that book as well (more stories on how that's working or not working in later posts). 

One of the challenges of walking during winter in Oklahoma is that everything is brown.  So anything of color along these walking trails usually ends up in a photo.  

The contrast between the copper and the green in this dying leaf was the focus of this photo.  If my photography has any leanings, it's definitely macro photography. I love to study things close up, the textures, colors and patterns are fascinating.  

The red leaf against the brown of the creek caught my eye.  I had to change my angle and crop in camera to avoid showing the not so nice parts of the stream. This was number 8 out of 9 shots, so it took a bit to get the right settings and angle.  My Guy says a lot of my photos look like backgrounds for ads. I'm not sure what you'd advertise with this one.  

The walking path has tunnels that allow you to walk under some of the busier streets in town.  Of course any kind of surface like that draws the graffiti artists. This shot is slightly underexposed, but I like the look of it versus the perfectly exposed shot. I suppose it has more atmosphere?  This version shows the textures much better than the properly exposed photo.  

The most important thing I learned from this set of photos was the importance of understanding your camera's controls. I've had to relearn aperture rules (large f stop, small aperture, more depth of field). I know how to adjust my shutter speed, which helps reduce camera shake and motion blur in some instances. I still have a ways to go on the camera settings and learning how to apply all the optical relationships to getting better photos. So it's not just seeing, there is a pretty big technical component too.    

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

To Do List for the Week of 3/7/2023

We've had a beautiful few days, it actually felt like spring.  But that's over and we'll be back to colder temps and rain for the next few days. It will be good sewing room weather.  I skipped my all day sewing session on Sunday because it was too pretty to stay inside.  Consequently, I didn't get as far on last week's to do list as I had planned.  

To Do List for 2/28/2023

1. SAHRR: Finish Border 3, make progress on 4,5, and 6 - progress
2. Wild and Goosey: Make one block ✔
3. Chilhowie: Continue as leader and ender ✔

Check marks on two out of three, with progress on the third isn't a bad week. The final parade for the SAHRR is next Monday, so I'm going to stick to pretty much the same list for this week in hopes of being almost finished by the time that linky party goes live (more realistically, before it closes).  

To Do List for 3/7/2023

1. SAHRR (Quilting Gail): Work on border blocks and assembly

I picked a more complicated pinwheel block, so I'll have to work diligently to get enough of these made to finish the 6th border.  There's been good progress on the other borders.  I really doubt I have the top finished by the 13th, but I'm going to give it my best shot. 

2.  Wild and Goosey (Bonnie Hunter): Make one green block

I've got the fabrics picked out for the 8th green block.  These little blocks don't take long, but they can't be chain pieced because of the paper piecing part, not all the seams go out to the edge of the block.

3. Chilhowie (Bonnie Hunter): Continue assembling blocks as leaders and enders. 

Assembly of the third block is in progress.  I've cut more purple squares so those are ready to go once I start the block border.  

That's my list for this week. Since it's supposed to rain so much this week, I'm hoping that means I'll have more time to stitch each afternoon.  We'll see how that works out.  Linking up with The Quilt Schmilt: for the Love of Fabric for this week's To Do List.  

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Stay At Home Round Robin: Week 6

The last prompt for the SAHRR was posted by Quilting Gail last Monday.  Borders 1 and 2 are done, I'm still working on 3, 4, 5 and 6.  I did decide on what the final border will look like.  I'm not a fan of the typical 4 patch pinwheel blocks. Not sure why, they just don't appeal to me. So I typed pinwheel into the search function of EQ and found another pinwheel block that I did like. 

Of course this block requires 8 HSTs, all at 1.5" to end up with a 4" finished block.  I can't seem to make anything easier, more complicated just seems to appeal to me more.  I've only got one of these blocks made, but there are several other versions in various stages of completion over at the sewing machine.  

Here's all the bits and pieces of my SAHRR up on the design wall.

The hourglass blocks are all finished, and two of the sides have been sewn on to the top. The remaining two sides are being sewn together.  I'll need to add spacer borders of the background fabric before assembling all the flying geese to make border 4.  It looks like more flying geese than I'll need, but once they are sewn together they should shrink to fit the spacer borders. There are few more to make to have enough for the bottom border.  I've got one border of the square in a square blocks finished  and started on the blocks needed for border 6.  The final SAHRR parade is March 13th. Hopefully I'll have a mostly assembled top by then. There are still a lot of blocks left to make to have a finished set of borders.   

Linking up with Quilting Gail for SAHRR Round 6, Monday Design Wall and Patchwork & Quilts

Stitching Stuff: Week 9 of 2023

This week was much better than last week.  The shoulder is healing, though I still have to watch how long I'm on the computer even with the more ergonomic set up. So long as I take breaks and stretch, sitting at the sewing machine doesn't seem to cause me any issues. The last time I had a big flair up with the shoulder, I did some research and found a new sewing table that was a lot more ergonomic than the old desk I'd been using.  It was definitely a smart move. 

My stitching week wasn't perfect. We had some appointments on Wednesday and I just didn't make it to the sewing room that day. 

  • 15 minute days/week = 6/7 days
  • 15 minute days/Feb = 25/28 days
  • 15 minute days/Mar = 3/4 days
  • 15 minute days/2023 = 55/63
  • Success rate = 87.30%

Two months into 2023 and I'm still on track with my goal to stitch at least 75% of the year. This is my 12th year of tracking my stitching time (wow, time flies!) and my average stitching time over that time period is 76.5%.  My best year was 92.9%, but that meant being being really, really focused on getting the time in.  It took some of the fun out of being in the sewing room.  I've tried to correlate my stitching time with finishes, fabric usage, etc. There is no consistent correlation.  So if I sew more days than I don't, it's good.  

How are you doing on getting in your stitching time? 


1. Gretchen
2. DonnaleeQ
3. Ivani
4. Shasta @ High Road
5. Lyndsey
6. Janice
7. Frederique
8. Quilting Gail
9. Melisa- Pinker n' Punkin Quilting
10. Susan in TN
11. Carol @QuiltSchmilt

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Saturday, March 4, 2023

Week 61 Photo Challenge: Hair

The challenge card for last week was a pretty easy to find subject.

The hardest part of this photo challenge for My Guy and I was to figure out how to get good picture of our own hair. Why we didn't photograph each other's, I'm not sure.  It certainly led to some interesting ways to hold a camera and take a shot.  

Kate: Does She or Doesn't She?

It wasn't easy to take a photo using the mirror and avoid getting my hand in the shot too. I had to use my left hand to hold the camera. I'm right handed. That this photo was mostly in focus is a miracle. My photo reminded me of a very successful ad campaign. Do you remember those commercials and magazine ads? 

I'm not sure how My Guy got his shot, he didn't use a mirror. I'm positive he doesn't have eyes in the back of his head contrary to what Grad Girl believed when she was little. 

My Guy: Ponytail

My Guy chose to photograph what he commonly calls his Covid curls.  When not contained in a ponytail, his hair is quite curly and wavy. He does have really pretty hair.  I'm not sure how he got the camera back there to get this shot.  I'll have to have him show me, he had to have used his left hand. Like me he's right handed.  He did say that it wasn't an easy photo to get. 

This isn't the photo that Grad Girl sent me last night as her submission for this week. I'm using (abusing?) my power as the author of this blog to post a photo she sent me earlier this week that I think is much cuter.  

Grad Girl: Cute, but Angry Hairball

Queenie is never happy to see Grad Girl getting ready to leave for school and work. I don't know if she thinks that sitting on her shirt will make her stay home or not.  At any rate she's still a cutie even if she's complaining (which per Grad Girl's comment she was being very vocal about something at that moment).  

This week's challenge should be interesting. There are several interpretations you could go with. 

I have some thoughts, I'm sure My Guy does as well.  Should be another interesting week on the photography front.  

Friday, March 3, 2023

PHD in 2023: February Update

February wasn't the best month on the stitching front. My shoulder issues sidelined me for about a week. I'm finding that there are still schedule disruptions, outside appointments, and other errands that intrude on my days.  That's OK we have stuff that needs to get done and I'm grateful that we can take care of those things now.  But it does cut into my stitching time and probably will for a bit. We delayed a lot of repair work because it was hard for us to get off work. At some point we'll get caught up on the backlog and then it shouldn't be a routine occurrence.  

All that to say there's been no change in my PHD status. 

So that's not all bad, at least there have been no new projects started in February.  Plus, there has been good progress on several projects this month.

Wild and Goosey (Bonnie Hunter, from Addicted to Scraps) saw the construction of the first additional blocks since 2020. 

Only three blocks were added last month, but any progress is good progress. Fingers crossed I do better on that front this month. (There is an error in both layouts in the photo, but I didn't have room on the small design wall to lay it out perfectly.)

Some of the Melodic Mystery blocks (Meadow Mist Designs) have been sewn into row. 

I'm hoping to get back to this project later in March. 

The Chilhowie mystery (Bonnie Hunter 2022 mystery) is my current leader and enders project.  

More purple squares need to be cut, but other than that, the third block is ready to be constructed.  

Most of my stitching time in February has been focused on the 2023 Stay At Home Round Robin (Quilting Gail) project. 

I've not kept up, but there are pieces of each border either up on the design wall or stacked by the sewing machine.  I've really enjoyed playing along with this project. It's been fun to design a border for each prompt.  I'm ready to sign up for next year's version, but maybe not do a full sized quilt.  That takes a lot of stitching time. 

On the downer side there was no progress on Unity,  Rhododendron, Macaron Mysteries or Diatom in March.  Hopefully those will return to the rotation once the SAHRR is over.  

Linking up with Quilting Gail who seems to have a magic touch with finishing quilts. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Photo Play #3: Practice, Practice, Practice

One of my retirement "projects" besides decluttering the house is to learn to take better photos.  My Guy was an avid photographer before we met, he's the one that introduced me to photography as a hobby. I bought my first SLR camera from a pawn shop just before we got married because one of his favorite things was and still is to go somewhere to hike and take photos. It's not that I take bad photos, but I'd like to develop better vision and composition skills. Like anything else that takes practice.  (All photos taken with a Canon 70D with a 18-400 Tamron telephoto lens)

One of the photo practices was to have My Guy bring me three unrelated items to photograph together.  He's been really supportive of my photography efforts, so he really bought into the challenge part.  This is what he brought me.

A mandolin, a bike pump, and an empty can of black olives. He certainly picked an interesting combination of items. How do you get a "good" photo of these together? I took a total of 40 photos of these three items in every conceivable arrangement with various camera settings. The last part of the challenge is to pick your favorite from the set of photos. Here's what I ended up with.

Is it a great photo? No, but it was the one that had the best aesthetics. I learned a lot from those 40 photos and that's the point. You have to practice to retain the knowledge, so I tried to do that over the next week.

Is this photo upside down?  No it's a reflection, but it's hard to tell that at first glance.  You have to look really closely to see the ripples on the surface of the pond.  I almost walked by this pond, it's not very scenic.  Using the telephoto lens, I was able to isolate just the reflection part of the pond and eliminate the grubby parts.  

The day this photo was taken I was struggling with focus and camera shake. Birds are hard to photograph unless you have a really long lens because they are so skittish. Fully extended the Tamron telephoto lens can be hard to hold steady, so I had to work on that. I also wasn't using the best camera settings to help my efforts here.  This birdie wasn't too concerned about me so I was able to get reasonably close. I probably took 20 photos of the robins in the part of the woods, this is the only one that's not blurry.  I really like how the red orange of the robins belly is echoed by the color of the leaves on the ground.  

The last photo was taken at the Dallas aquarium during the trip in January to meet up with Grad Girl.

There are probably 30 photos on my card of the flamingos. They have such vivid feathers and that's what I was after. This is my last shot as I was walking away.  The look in the flamingo's eye has such intensity. It wasn't the shot I was going for and was a shot I almost didn't take, but it's the one I kept coming back to when I reviewed the photos. 

What did I take away from the process of taking these photos?  You have to look to see.  Keep trying, you only need one good shot.  What you intend to photograph may not make the most interesting photograph, take that last shot even if it's not what you wanted.