Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Growing things



Everything is growing, all of a sudden. Isn't it wonderful when you realize that? It happens to me every spring, without fail. You'd think I'd be used to it, but it still takes me by surprise when I look around and see green all around me. We have green in the house, thanks to the herb seeds the small Bears and I planted toward the end of February. The beige pot holds chives, the orange one basil. The little seedlings are growing quickly; the chives are beginning to look like unruly grass in their little pot. They smell just like chives already, which surprised me. I'd never grown them before. I thought they would need to mature before they got all chive-y, but nope - totally chive-y already. The basil has grown more slowly but it's getting there too.

The chicks are just over two weeks old now and growing by leaps and bounds. It's really quite incredible. They have wing- and tail-feathers now, and their peeps are changing to a different sound, sort of a cross between chirpy birdsong and guttural cooing. You can hear a very early form of clucking in it. They eat more every day. We should be able to move them to the coop in a few weeks, and I think they're going to love the extra space. They're doing well in their kitchen-corner brooder, still with the infrared light on them for warmth. They all have names now; thank you for the suggestions some of you offered. We went with sort of old-ladyish names that also reflect their looks, if that makes sense. So, without further ado, I give you...


GINGER (Buff Orpington) - she's fiesty and zippy, just like good, fresh ginger. Also, she has a strawberry-blond hue to her feathers, kind of gingery.


PENNY (Rhode Island Red) - she's the exact color of a new penny and she also seems to be the brightest of the bunch in terms of alertness - bright as a new penny.


BETTY (Barred Rock) - I was thinking along the lines of Betty Boop when I suggested her name. Black "hair," showy with those white markings, sweet but dim. Sorry, but it's the truth.

As an aside, I have to admit that naming them was vaguely stressful for me. I don't like naming things. It's a huge responsibility - one I don't particularly relish. Too much pressure. We initially planned to have numerous children, maybe four or five of them. In the end, due to various medical woes, we've just got the two. I'm grateful, of course. But sometimes I think about what I might have named the other two or three and I honestly can't come up with anything. It was hard enough coming up with two. We argued about it. It's probably the largest bone of contention we've ever had between us. In hindsight, I'm pretty sure they were each given the only name we could agree on for a boy or a girl. Thank goodness we had one of each; two of the same sex would surely have required one to be named "Hey, you."


Outside, things are growing too. This is my one lonely little daffodil in bloom so far. There is one other with a bud yet to open. These are bulbs the Bear planted the fall before this past one. I think his mother gave him a bag of bulbs but I'm actually not positive where they came from. So the mystery bulbs were planted, but nothing happened at all last spring. Not even green shoots. This spring, I was astonished to see shoots emerging in early February. The weeds in this bed are thriving, obviously, but let's just focus on the lovely daffodil instead...


These weren't easy to photograph but I'm intrigued by them. They are tulips I planted in a different bed this past fall. They're sprouting in such an unusual way, tightly furled like little rosebuds. The colors are dark grayish-green with a bit of red along the edges. The other tulips send up bright green, flat, leafy shoots, very different from these. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of tulips they are; they came from one of those variety bags of bulbs which are supposed to contain "up to 25 varieties," I think it said. I hope it's something really exotic, like those frilly, black tulips. Or the very dark, bloody red-purple ones.


I'm Neat-Rippling again. I had started a throw for my in-laws using this same yarn (Caron Simply Soft, one of my favorite low-priced, robust acrylics for blankets and winter clothing accessories). I was using a "vintage ripple" pattern I'd purchased on Ravelry which seems to be very popular among Ravelers. It was a nightmare for me, though. I just couldn't get to grips with the pattern. I gave myself a couple of months before calling it quits. I hate to quit projects. But I hate sobbing while crocheting even more. I frogged it and decided that the trusty Neat Ripple pattern from Attic 24 - which I've already made twice and enjoyed very much - was a better choice. Now I'm enjoying myself. I'm not doing random colors, which has also been nice because I find a planned scheme more relaxing. The colors you see above are, from the bottom: Persimmon, Light Country Peach, Off White and Bone. There will also be a green incorporated, a shade called Pistachio. I'm still working on the colorful circles to eventually become a flowers-in-the-snow blanket for the GB, but I needed a project I could pick up and put down easily, just for soothing, rhythmic hooky time. I love making the circles, but they're not as relaxing. I didn't always allow myself to have more than one project going at a time - it felt profligate, somehow. But lately I'm enjoying having a slow-burn (the circles) and a daily soother (the ripple).

We had really bad weather on Friday and Saturday, with lots of rain and wind. Sunday was gorgeous and we took a long family walk around the neighborhood in the afternoon. I usually start daily forced marches strolls with the small Bears in February, because the weather is so nice here in that month (March gets stormier). But this February with all the illness in the house, week after week, we didn't make it further than the backyard most days. Early March was similar with new colds and rougher weather. It was so nice to get out and I'm determined to revive the habit now.


Everything is greening up, including the trees. I adore this shade of bright yellow-green, the color of early leaves.


There were bees in all the blossoming trees up and down the streets. This is a small apple tree down the way from us, it was filled with buzzing when we walked by.


 A crabapple a couple of blocks away. Fewer bees present, but the scent was incredible.


Bears waited for me at the corner, because I like to stop and take pictures of every single thing (or so I am informed, by the smaller ones).


I want to lie under this apple tree all afternoon, staring up through snowy blossoms at the azure sky.


Interesting natural specimens were collected and taken home (the pine cone is now resting on the stones inside our courtyard; the dandelion and berries were discarded before we got back to our house, but everyone did have a chance to smell the dandelion, and everyone sneezed right after their chance).

We came home and watched The Music Man on DVD. We're on a musicals kick lately; last weekend was Bye Bye, Birdie (which I love) and the week before was Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang (which I tolerate). I cooked dinner, which was our Saint Patrick's Day meal. We had early because there's more time on Sunday. Do you do anything special for Saint Patrick's Day? We don't do much, but I make a special meal every year. Many years, I make corned beef but I don't like it myself. Actually, I hate corned beef. I only make it to be nice. I did so last year, so this time around I made a roasted chicken instead. I'm making soup in the slowcooker with the leftovers for tonight's dinner.


When I was buying the chicken, the cashier in Trader Joe's asked what it was for. I told her it was for the holiday and she said people in Ireland would be more likely to eat chicken than they would corned beef anyway, so I was making a good choice. I love Trader Joe's; everyone is super-nice and they tell you exactly what you want to hear.


I boiled a small cabbage and served it with butter, salt and pepper; it was devoured by my family. They love cabbage, even the children. I like it just fine, but I don't remember going nuts for it as a child the way they do. I also roasted potatoes together with carrots, which is one of my favorite side dishes, especially with roasted meat.


I had baked Irish soda bread earlier in the day. I shared the recipe last Saint Patrick's Day (look at me, linking to posts on my own blog from an entire year ago, like some kind of serious blogger). It's my favorite recipe and it always comes out beautifully. This loaf rose incredibly well because I just bought a new can of baking powder. It's amazing what fresh baking powder can do. Last year's loaf looks a bit paltry in comparison.


This year's Irish meal. It was delicious and hearty. I don't normally slather that much butter on my bread, but it's a tradition: I love lots of butter on my Irish soda bread. I think I need to do it just once more before this loaf is gone.

52 comments:

  1. I love the beginnings of Spring when everything is coming back to life. Everything looks so pretty. No leaves on any trees around here. There's some budding but no leaves yet. Can't wait though. Love this time of year.

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  2. You've taken some lovely photos. I especially love the blossom. Those Tulips do look intriguing don't they? Can't wait to see them when they bloom.
    Jill x

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  3. Some gorgeous photos - and such blue skies too.
    I agree about the crochet - a couple of projects is good. I always have a big project, and a portable one too, which I can pop in the car and get on with whilst I'm waiting for Matt, which doesn't need too much thought. But I also like something that is going to challenge me. Take care. x

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  4. Me too on the multiple hooky projects. Love,love love the chooks. Your blogging is blossoming too. Lovely photos. And I HATE corned beef. Chicken all the way .

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  5. Looks like spring is well under way there Jennifer. Your blossom looks stunning.

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  6. So much to comment on in this happy, springy post. I loved very bit of it, from your chicks, to your crochet, ( I use Caron's Simply Soft a lot too), to the walk, to the dinner. We still have bare trees and not much growing here but I have faith. It WILL happen. :-)
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  7. Loved seeing your pretty blooming trees - we still have a ways to go, but it's a sunny day today, so I have hope. P.S. The Music Man is a favorite of mine - especially to see on stage :-)

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  8. Aw such sweet little chicks, I love the names you've chosen! Your Springy photos are lovely, the blossom against that bright blue sky are amazing. xx

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  9. Everything's growing here too, it's wonderful. I drove along a road with so many different magnolia trees today, they were stunning. Interesting to hear how chivey the little chives are. A bit like micro-greens maybe, which are supposed to be very intense as well. Your chickies are doing well, I love the names. We don't celebrate St Patrick's Day here. I really like the picture of the bears waiting for you while you take photos. A similar thing happens here, although I always feel like I'm snapping really quickly and running to keep up. Enjoy the rest of your week Jennifer. CJ xx

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  10. Hey Jennifer,

    Your chicks are adorable, especially Betty. Iwandered around my garden this afternoon, and noticed that the early Tulips are in bud. It's a wonderful feeling. There are pollinators everywhere too. Your pictures are so beautiful, especially the blossom. My family are long suffering bystanders to my mania for photography too! Your St Patricks Day meal looks lovely. I always thought that 17th March was an excuse for a vast quantity of alcohol....(not by me you understand)

    Have a great week Jennifer. I hope you have had your fill of germs and bugs. We have been hit by colds and coughs here. I am soldiering on ;)

    Leanne xx

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  11. Wow Jennifer what a busy week. I have really enjoyed another peek into your family life. I haven't doen a ripple yet but I would like to make a ripple scarf. Jo x

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  12. I think Hey you is a cracking name for a second child of any kind. We seriously contemplated changing the childrens names to One of three, Two of three and Three of three when they were all under 5 and sleep (and common sense) was a distant memory. I'm glad we left them, though. The exam certificates would read like a shipping order from Amazon.
    The chicks are SOOOOOO cute! Almost spring, almost spring!! Wish we had more blue skies here.

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  13. I love all the pictures of Spring, thos chicks are getting so big, I wonder if they are in pre-puberty due to their voice changes. Now I have that song, "Oh, you Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang, Chittiy Chitty Bang Bang we love you. " in my head.
    Hugs to you my friend,
    Meredith

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  14. I love all the signs of Spring in this post. The flowers on the trees are so cheerful! You picked just the right names for the chicks. :) And, your supper looks wonderful.

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  15. Your new chicks are looking very healthy and growing by leaps and bounds.. Loved seeing all your budding flowers especially those Tulips. I look forward to seeing them blooms. Your Irish Meal looked sooooooooooooo very delicious. you are a great cook. Hugs Judy

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  16. I love that photograph of the blossom against the sky. Absolutely stunning! Your St Patrick's Day meal looked delicious. We don't really celebrate that here ...St Patrick's Day coincided with Holi festival (Hindu festival of colours) this year and so my daughter celebrated that at nursery (as part of learning about world faiths) by getting covered in paint....probably preferably to a preschooler inbibing large quantities of Guinness (what usually happens here for St Patricks day)! xx

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  17. Oh my goodness! You have covered everything in this charming post! Your seedling photos remind me of eggshells lined up in my mother's sunny kitchen windowsill with little sprouts thriving inside - always a first hint of spring!
    Your chickens are adorable and very well named! They will produce well for you because they are loved, I just know it!
    The blossoms are magical. Just wish we had them here too instead of 2 feet of snow still covering the yard!

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  18. Looks like you are experiencing the full-blooms & intoxicating aromas in your area, too! The chicks are so cute and will hopefully be providing breakfast food before you know it!

    I had to laugh when you were talking about names and how difficult it was to choose names for just two children. It was the same for us -- well, more difficult for my hubby than me, but keeping him happy about the names was a big issue. He was very adamant about not making our son a "Jr.," but we did give him hubby's middle name as his middle name and he has done the same for his son. By coincidence, the middle name was my grandmother's maiden name -- oh what tangled webs we weave with family connections, but I love it!

    I'm going to have to share some of my "beginner" crochet projects one of these day. So far, I am keeping it super simple. Every time I try something a bit difficult or more elaborate, I get frustrated & rip it all out. I've been very pleased and surprised with some YouTube video tutorials that have helped a lot. I do really love the process.

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  19. Your photos are heavenly as always! This time of year is so wonderful, with new life appearing everywhere... your chooks are adorable - they are so cute and awkward at that stage, aren't they? We raised some buff sussex under our broody silkie and they were wonderful - just amazing how quickly they went from tiny chick to pullet. Your St. Patrick's Day feast looks scrummy :) xx

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  20. Beautiful photo's Jennifer, it's lovely to see how much the chicks have grown they are so cute, I love your ripple the colours are lovely, I like to plan my colours too, then you know exactly what you are doing and you can just get on and do it. :)

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  21. Oh the rippling looks great. Looks like your spring has definitely arrived. Your chicks are so cute x

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  22. Wow everything is growing and comming to life, looks like you have been having some nice times lately.

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  23. One of my favourite meals of all time is soda bread, well buttered, eaten with sweet fresh raspberries. Who needs jam!

    Looks to me like your human chicks are growing as well as your cute feathered ones!

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  24. Thanks for a delightful post, Jennifer! I laughed out loud at several appropriate spots. Then I thought, " did I just send Jennifer a note telling her I had been especially thinking of her and hoping she is having happy days?" And I realized I had been worrying about you a little bit. I looked back and saw that was my last comment to you. This post put my worry to rest. Please thank your long suffering Bears for enduring a [forced march] with lots of your gorgeous photo taking. My girls cooked corned beef and cabbage for dinner last night...I dislike the way the house smells during the cooking. I aired out the house today :) Your baked chicken idea was brilliant! I love the colors of your new ripple! xx

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  25. Your meal looks amazing! I will have to try that soda bread recipe!! And your photos of all of your blooms and happenings from your walk are GORGEOUS!!! Such a stunning blue sky that sets the most amazing backdrop! And I must say that your sweet girls and their names are just perfect! How cute are they?!?! Your blooms made me happy! Here is to a great week! Nicole xoxo

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  26. Those blooms pictures are gorgeous! I caaan't wait to see some spring growth! We still have snow here, but we are enjoying some sunshine! :)

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  27. Love watching things grow! One of my favourite things to do!

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  28. QUE ADELANTADA ESTA LA PRIMAVERA!!!
    AQUI NO ESTA TAN FLORIDO.
    SALUDITOS

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  29. I love the names you've chosen for your chicks, they suit them perfectly. We don't celebrate St Patrick's Day in any way, your meal looks delicious and well done to your children for eating their veggies, it was always a chore getting my two to eat them when they were younger and they're still not keen on them now.

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  30. The chicks are so cute! I tried growing chives last year and was suprised by how chivey they smelled as soon as they sprouted too :)
    The yarn you're using for your ripple is very pretty. I've not tried Caron Simply Soft but I would love to!
    Have a wonderful day xx

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  31. Such a lovely spring inspired post Jennifer!...It's magical watching everything come to life again, isn't it?...My goodness your little chicks are just beautiful and I love the colours in your crochet...very pretty x
    Happy Wednesday,
    Susan x

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  32. I love your fledgling chicks, Jennifer. Aren't they growing fast?

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  33. Lovely packed post full of lots of interesting things! Its great to see signs of life everywhere, i love the fresh bright green of the leaves too, and your photos of blossom and trees with the sky are lovely.
    Its magic when seeds sown start to germinate - the basil should do well, i grew a pot last spring and it is still alive on my windowsill this spring, albeit somewhat died back, there are still leaves for cooking.
    The chicks are gorgeous! Perfect names for them too. It must be exciting for you all to have seen them grow and develop.
    Have a great week Jennifer!
    Gill xx

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  34. I could just tuck in to your St Patricks day lunch, looks so tasty. Your little chicks are beyond cute, I like there names x

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  35. We never do anything for St Patrick's Day but after seeing your meal I'm thinking we should. Pubs and bars are always busy with people drinking pints and pints of Guinness (stout) but I don't know anyone who cooks a meal. Love your blossom photos - don't your local streets look pretty with all those trees in blossom, just gorgeous. x

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  36. Your chicks are all growing up - both the animal and the human variety! I love the Neat Ripple pattern (whenever I see it I want to learn how to crochet). And look at all those blossoms and all that blue sky. Sigh...

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  37. Pure inspiration! You and your sweet family are pure delight!
    Everyone, including your chicks are thriving!! Love it!
    Jemma

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  38. A lovely, homely post. I like seeing what you have been doing, making and cooking :) Your chicks are perfectly named! Love the pretty crochet, I use Lucy's neat ripple pattern too, it's so nice and clear to follow. Loved seeing those gorgeous blossoms against the blue sky....one of my favourite things!
    Helen xox

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  39. Your neighbourhood looks almost animated from the beautifully bursting flowering trees! Just looking at the clusters in the background evokes instant feelings of happiness. Inside, things are growing wonderfully well, too, I see. Your Irish dinner is the perfect celebration for St. Patrick's Day, looks and sounds absolutely delish, and very cozy comfy!

    Poppy

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  40. How incredibly lovely! The vibrancy, the joy, and the sense of new life that swirls though these early springtime images is almost magical. We're no where near that point here yet, but if the last of the snow finally wants to vanish, hopefully we will be soon. I can hardly wait and sincerely feel even more excited for it having seen how gorgeous it was for you guys.

    Big hugs & many heartfelt thanks for your wonderfully nice comment on yesterday's post,
    ♥ Jessica

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  41. I like how spring suddenly appears. I especially love when it shows up unexpectedly along the concrete freeway without first getting approval from the "highway beautification engineer". Your photos are lovely and your chickies, so adorable. Perfect names! Thanks to your posts, I now enjoy roasting my vegetables. The kids love it. Perhaps I will try boiled cabbage :)

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  42. Those wee chicks are just so darling! I enjoyed this post very much, thank you...lots of beautiful things growing around you.
    Marianne x

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  43. Spring is just great, isn't it? The suddenness of all the growth appearing surprises me every year, too. I need to go outside more and take pictures, I so love to look at your photos Jennifer, it makes me want to take more myself. Cx

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  44. I can't wait until I start seeing my lilies poke out of the ground - the first signs of life here every spring. You're about a month ahead of us. Your chicks are so darling! Love their names. :-) I'm with you on the corned beef - don't like it. The exception is kosher corned beef from a Jewish deli - piled high on rye bread with mustard. Only way I'll eat it. The closest Jewish deli is an hour's drive though, and not in an area we normally travel to, so we might eat it about twice/year. I love cabbage, too...didn't as a kid though. Your meal looks very yummy.

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  45. Your chicks are so cute!!! I made lamb stew for St. Patrick's day this year. It turned out really well, my family loves lamb. I am more than ready for spring, it snowed here on Friday, we have had a cold winter here :)

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  46. Jennifer, as always lovely photos! I laughed at the forced marches..Oh my goodness made my day! Lol. Your Irish meal looks delicious! -And your little chicks, so sweet. :) I hope you're having a wonderful week.

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  47. Hi Jennifer,

    Lovely photos and how beautiful the blue sky is and the daffodils are - really looks like Spring is there.
    It must be fun to watch the chickens grow - remember doing this as a child when my family used to have chickens.
    Your chicken looks good - we had the usual chicken roast on Sunday night and for Saint Patricks day I made bangers and mash with an onion gravy which was good.

    Happy week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  48. The little chicks are coming on a treat and I like their names too! Lovely fresh growth happening and it's so lovely always to see the trees in blossom, thank you for sharing your lovely pics Jennifer and your sweet family news! Hugs, Joy xo

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  49. The chicks are precious and each one so different. I love the names you have picked for them. My family thinks I take way too many pictures, too. The one of them waiting for you is lovely. Have a wonderful weekend. Tammy

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  50. Your chookies are adorable!!! So lovely to see Spring arrive to your part of the world x

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  51. Great pictures... And I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who takes pictures of everything. :)

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  52. HI :) I love your blog!
    Can you tell me what camera you use to photograph everything? Thank you!

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