Happy New Year



Traditions | Apple Picking

Tradition is defined as “a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on this way.” Traditions give you something to look forward to, something to look back on and something to pass on to your family as it grows. And however deep rooted they are, traditions keep you grounded.

But they have to start somewhere.


Being a military family for twenty-five years has meant that our traditions are less with external friends and family and more with “just” us. Our family of five has many traditions but they are mostly ours. However, for the past five years, we have gone apple picking with our neighbors and friends, the Rios family. We had been living here for about a year on what would become my husband’s last duty assignment in the Air Force when Kathryn (Rios) first suggested we go. Still quite unfamiliar with the area and having few friends, we were thrilled at the chance for exploration and social interaction. We accepted the invitation, not realizing then that this simple act would become our annual tradition. And it is a tradition that we look forward to every year.


Our first year, we picked at Stribling Orchard in Virginia. We wandered through rows and rows of apples while the kids were just thrilled to use the apple picker poles offered. The views at Stribling were beautiful. And at the time we went, it was not crowded which made for a quaint experience.

The next two years, we picked at Larriland Farm in Maryland. No fruit picking poles, but the trees are dwarf so you don’t really need them. Larriland often still has apples to be picked when some of the others are all picked out, and we tend to get busy this time of year with kids’ activities and school, so it is challenging to find a date that works for both our families. In addition to apples, Larriland has other fruits and veggies available for picking at the same time, so we load up on things like broccoli, tomatoes, and kale. One year we were even early enough to get some of the last raspberries.

Larriland Farms also has these cool wheelbarrows that occupy the kids.

In 2015, we ventured somewhere different and picked at Marker-Miller Orchard in Winchester, Virginia. Marker-Miller has a cute country store with rocking chairs out front to enjoy a rest after walking through the rows of apple trees. And again, no picking poles, but dwarf trees instead. I did not take many pictures this year. But Marker-Miller is worth the trip as well. There is a playground next to the country store, and they also have hay rides and the cow train. In addition, at last check, you can bring your pets on leash to apple pick with you; just keep them out of the country store.


This year, we procrastinated again, and decided to head back to Larriland Farms. We really wanted to make it to Hartland Orchard but by the time we could nail down a date, their apples had been picked and the selection was few (side note as of this posting, Hartland is a cash or check only business). Hopefully next year Hartland.

Larriland Farms was the busiest we had seen it thus far. It was a beautiful day after some particularly cold ones and that meant the people were out in droves. Even still, we had a wonderful time and loaded up on apples, tomatoes and broccoli. We even bought apple fritters, which they make and sell on the premises. I highly recommend them.

My husband always has to juggle the apples. The first year this brought great entertainment to the kiddos, but now, they don’t even notice.

Over the years, the kids have grown, and some were not always with us as they outgrew hanging out with mom and dad, and some had conflicting commitments. And while some have grown apart, some have grown closer as well. Jayde and Isa, in the picture above with the apples on their heads, have become best friends. And this is now a tradition they have started: a picture must be taken with an apple on their heads every time we go apple picking. In addition, we consider the Rios family to be of our family as we have also grown closer over the years.


The Rios family over the years:





Our family (minus our oldest who left for college just before we moved to Virginia and has since graduated, Woohoo!):




And one year, at Marker-Miller Orchard, we even got a group shot!



This tradition has rooted us in the Northern Virginia area. Now that my husband has retired from the Air Force, we will be staying put here for several years to come and I hope to continue this tradition as long as we can.



Pick Your Own Fruits & Vegetables and Farm Market at Larriland Farm


Polished Silver

Bohemian Style | Fall Portraits

This Fall, style is all about the avant-garde look of Bohemia. Create soft silhouettes by letting your neutral fabrics flow. Lighter denim with rips, but not too many. Baggy, feminine tops with prints of flowers. Scarves and head bands. Turquoise necklaces. Boots with feminine heels. Chukkas for men. 

Just remember not to go overboard and compete with mother nature. After all, Fall Portraits are about the vibrant colors of the leaves, so don’t have so much going on with your clothing that people can’t see the beauty around you.BOHEMIA

Here are some examples:

Pinterest, Women – http://www.pinterest.com/annabelledurbin/bohemian-style/

Pinterest, Men –  http://www.pinterest.com/explore/bohemian-men/

Bohemian Fashion- http://www.collegefashion.net/fashion-tips/boho-fashion-essentials/

Ralph Lauren Bohemian – http://url.ie/uood

Wednesday Rewind | Every Picture Tells a Story

Beauty Can Be Found Anywhere

My herb garden is doing quite well this year, even though the terrible winter freeze killed off the rosemary. The chives were blooming so beautifully I had to snap a few shots. Beauty really can be found anywhere!

Chives In Bloom

D.C. Cherry Blossoms 2014

I had the opportunity to visit D.C. during peak season again this year, for both daytime and sunrise! It is always such a beautiful trip when the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, and even though it can be extremely crowded, the trip is always worth it.

For my daytime excursion I brought only my macro zoom lens as I did not feel like bringing my entire lens arsenal while I walked around D.C. with some friends. And since it is my favorite lens it is often the one I choose when I limit myself to one.

CherryBlossom2014 UpClosenadPersonal


The following shot was actually my favorite shot from the day. As we were heading back to the car, I saw the cyclist stop under the tree from across the street and I snapped a few frames. There was an additional person in the shot that I edited out because it threw off the balance.


And of course, the traditional monument shot; which I waited to take for several minutes while the three paddle boaters got in the right position, and the fourth left my frame.



Sunrise attracts lots of photographers and they all want to be in the same spot; I needed to get there much earlier to stake my claim on some real estate. I have filed that info in my lessons learned folder. Since I did not have the best vantage point, I did not stick around long, but did manage to get a couple of keepers. The first one is just before the sun came up and the air was still quite cool, hence the blue cast. The second one required a flash which I did not bring, so I will have to be happy with just a silhouette, which I am. It really was great just being there!

LincolnMemorial SunriseMonument

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