Archive for category Personal

>The Szymanskas plus one take NYC

>Last weekend’s trip to NYC with the girls was nothing short of a blast.  The photos from the trip speak for themselves.

Check out the slideshow below and make sure to crank up the volume.

(Sidenote: All photos were taken with Viola’s Canon Powershot G12.)

Taking a train from New Haven to New York City.
Ticket? What ticket?
Grand Central Station
Dip your card? Hmmm. I’ve never seen such wording any card accepting machine before.
Subway performers putting on a break dancing show to Micheal Jackson’s hits.
Taking the Subway to Union Square for lunch and shopping.
Bundled up so warm, this guy fell asleep on the job.
A Gas Mask Bong?! I wouldn’t know anything about that.
Lunch at Cosi’s.
Barbecue chicken pizza was outstanding.
Viola and Marzena took the “come in from the cold” sign a little too seriously and made themselves feel right at home.
Shoe Department at Saks Fifth Avenue.
We stopped by Cafe SFA for late afternoon apps and drinks.
The next series of photos require some serious explanation. It’s not what it looks like.  It’s worse.
As Saks Fifth was closing down for the day and we were making our way out of the 8-story shopping center, Marzena noticed The Bridal Salon within the store was still open. And when we walked in, there was no one there.  The entire bridal salon with hundreds of designer wedding gowns at our disposal … Like OH, EM, GEE! 
Call us crazy but we wasted no time in grabbing a dress each and running to a fitting room.  Prancing around in expensive wedding gowns and taking photos seemed like a lot of fun at the time.  We feared someone would come in at any given moment and order us to stop this charade.  But no one came and we continued to try on dresses and loosing sense of time. We probably would have tried on every dress in the store if it wasn’t for the fact we suddenly got locked out of our fitting room.  Wearing just wedding gowns, and all of our belongings locked in another room we needed to get help.  Bernadette, the only smart one who didn’t participate in this dress-up, went to get help.  That’s when we realized there was no one around and the entire SFA store has been closed for 45 minutes.  Bernadette finally tracked down the store security who were already locking up the main doors.  The looks on their faces when they walked into the bridal salon and saw not one, not two, but three “brides” was priceless. They were confused and laughed and said they never seen anything like it.  Apparently, someone forgot to lock up the salon when they left home for the day. We changed back into our clothes and left the store with an exciting story and photos to remember it by. But I’m sure someone got in trouble the next day for leaving that door open.
Viola, Monika and Marzena
Party Bus on one of the streets of New York blasting lights and techno music and serving alcoholic drinks. We got home at 3 a.m.


>More Snow, Icicles and Tree Branches


After attending a recent seminar on snow and ice photography I have been eager to put my newly acquired skills to the test.  Luckily, or unluckily (depends on how you look at it) we’ve been having plenty of snow and ice here in the Northeast.  So, here’s another set of chilling photos.  
I promise to heat things up a bit with the next post.
Moon view from my roof.
Icicles drooping down from my deck.
Close-up of icicles outside my window.  
 The left icicle looks like it is … Nah, I won’t go there.
My icy deck furniture.
After today’s snowfall and freezing sleet, I now have an ice skating rink on my deck. 
And to prove just how hard the ice surface is I threw my 5-pound Yorkie on it.
(I’ll not be attempting to test the ice myself.)
And for the last series of photos are the tree branches.
I’m just fascinated by the look of leafless branches against the sky and I think they could make for good wall art.

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>Monster Icicles


Driving to the Ferry Park in Rocky Hill to take my dog for a walk the other day, I noticed an old railroad house growing monster icicles all around the roof.  These three to four feet long icicles created a spectacular sight so I went back home for my camera and captured these photos below.

Tapestry Rose is one-of-a-kind gift shop shop located on Meadow Road in Rocky Hill, next to an old railroad track bordering the Connecticut River.  
The building that houses Tapestry Rose is, in fact, the old railroad station.
Looks like a cake party.
These icicles could possibly kill if they fell on me. That’s why standing directly beneath them to take this shot wasn’t the best idea.

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>Fresh Apple


I’ve been on the market for a new computer for several months now. My four-year-old Dell laptop wasn’t keeping up with my demands anymore and it was so slow, it was slowing me down!  Since I haven’t moved my laptop off my desk in over a year I’ve realized I’d be better off buying a more powerful all-one-desktop instead.  But the big question I was faced with was whether I should buy a PC or a Mac.  I’ve basically been a content PC user for fifteen years.  And never having really used an apple computer before, I was very apprehensive about buying one now.  I was mostly concerned about being unfamiliar with its operating platform and having to learn it from scratch.  
After an extensive research on both systems I learned that a PC is a better option for gamers or programmers.  Mac, on the other hand is considered to be the hands-down winner for any type of professional editing or graphic production software. 
In the end my choice was clear and iMac was the victor.
I have owned my new iMac for three days now and I proudly admit I am very happy with my choice.
Besides the fact that it took me five minutes to find the power button (it’s hidden on the back of the screen) I’m already very comfortable using it.  
Mac and I just clicked. It’s like I have known it all my life.  Like we’re are sole mates or something.

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>White Winter


I was really excited for the snowstorm today. I woke up at 6:30 am and was euphoric when I looked outside the window. Everything was covered in thick sheet of snow and it was still snowing heavily.  I could not wait to take a scenic drive around and photograph this winter wonderland. But when I went outside to shovel out my car, I stopped dead in my tracks, figuratively and literally. My car was completely buried except for the windshield wipers that were barely sticking out from underneath the snow.  With just a small snow brush in hand and no shovel, I realized I stood no chance at getting out especially since the the plow truck dumped a three-foot pile of snow behind my car.  Determined, I decided to take that scenic drive on foot. So, I walked a mile and a half and back, stopping to take photos at a nearby farm and the Dinosaur State Park.  Not the photos I had in mind but I didn’t want my efforts to go unseen. So, here they are …
The red arrow is pointing to my car buried somewhere underneath the snow.
Neighbors desnowing their cars.
My snow-covered neighborhood.
Maya, the Siberian Husky is in her element when it snows.
She loves to jump in the snowbanks and catch snowballs with her teeth.
Watching her owners desnowing their car.
The roads were empty except for an occasional plow truck.
A snow-covered house along Gilbert Street in Rocky Hill.
A herd of cows walking towards me, mooo-ing.
Farm truck.
Dinosaur State Park’s dome snowed in.
I thought this little bird has frozen to death as he sat motionless in the snow but it turns out he was just chilling.

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>It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas …

>Preparations for Christmas Eve supper (Wigilia) are underway at the Szymanska household. There are twelve traditional Polish dishes to be made by Friday and four sets of hands diligently working together. First on the list are uszka, (meaning “little ears” in Polish) small dumplings filled with mushrooms and served with red borscht.

The company of my sisters and mom as we sit around the table preparing the food makes this one of my favorite times during the holidays.

Making a list and checking it twice. (A list of 12 dishes is always at hand.)
Mom and Viola making uszka; spreading the mushroom stuffing on each square of dough.
Then the dough is closed at opposite corners to create little ears.
(An army of little ears are waiting to be boiled.)
Things always come out better with my lucky apron on.
Also made is Bigos (stew of cabbage and meat) with kielbasa and plums. Here, it’s being cooked the second time over. It will hit the stove one more time (for total of three times) before it reaches it’s wonderful Wigilia flavor.
And of course, a homemade piernik (gingerbread) is a must during the Christmas holiday.

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>TwinA Premiere

>I wish blogging was more time efficient. There are quite a few steps that goes into each blog post: take photos, download photos to computer, edit photos, upload photos to file sharing website, link photos to blog, enter text and finally publish post.  Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging. I just wish there was a way to skip some of those steps.

And this brings me to my new blog: TwinA from allows me to post right from my phone directly to the blog with a push of ONE button. How convenient is that?! Well, so convenient that I’m more likely to blog whatever, whenever.  Although, TwinA blog is not a replacement of TwiinGallery blog by any means, it’s still a fun way to get my blogging fix.

So, check it out!

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>Happy Birthday to Me!

>Taking my new wheels for a late afternoon drive.  Photos taken somewhere in the Rocky Hill Meadows …

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>Teary Eye Exam

>Couple of days ago I went for an eye exam to a mall optician. I was a few minutes early for my 5 o’clock appointment but was informed the doctor was running 20 minutes late. So I took a seat in an empty waiting room and pulled out my iPhone.  My phone is a good time-killer so I usually don’t mind waiting.  I opened the iBooks app to an ebook I had recently purchased and began to read.

I didn’t even finish reading the first page, when a little girl came into the waiting room. I looked at her as she sat a few chairs over and smiled at me. I smiled back and kept on reading my ebook.

But I felt her eyes starring in my direction so I glanced at her again. This time she said, “Hi.”

“Hello,” I replied and the little girl immediately jumped two seats next to me.

“Can I play with your phone?” she asked politely.

Before I had a chance to answer ‘yes,’ she took the phone from my hand, exited my ebook and started to flip through my iPhone apps.

“Do you have any games?,” she asked continuing to search my phone.

“No, I don’t. Sorry.”

I saw how disappointed she was and thought of jumping into the App Store (on the phone) and downloading her some kind of a free game.

But then her eyes lit up when she spotted the camera app. She clicked on it and started to snap random photos. Of the floor, walls, me …

I was amazed at how easily she maneuvered through my phone. And I doubt she had one like that or one at all for that matter. I mean she was very young.

“What’s your name?” I asked.


“How old are you?,” I continued.

“I’m four but I’ll be five on my birthday.”

I smiled at her response.

“And when is your birthday?”

She gave me an answer in her childish voice that I didn’t understand but pretended like I did.

Then her mom came over and apologized for Jessica.

“I’m sorry. She’s like that with everybody’s phone.”

“It’s OK. I don’t mind,” I said.

Then the mom left to look at the eye glasses and Jessica continued to play with my phone.

“What’s your dog’s name?” she asked assuming I have a dog.

“Misiu. He’s a little dog.”

“Where’s your mom?” she continued questioning.

“She’s at home.”

“Where’s your dad?”

I paused for a while  … Actually thinking about where he was at this very moment.

“My dad … He’s sleeping,” I said in a shaky voice.

I felt my eyes fill up with tears. She didn’t seem to notice as she was too busy now flipping through the photo gallery on my phone.

Just then the doctor peeked into the waiting room and called me in.

“Well, I have to go now,” I said, taking my phone back.

Walking to the exam room I glanced at my phone to turn it off and I paused in shock. Out of over 1,000 photos (and videos) on my phone, she happened to click on the one of my dad.  It was one I took of him last September; a quick shot (of him smiling) for the phone contacts. 

My tears now began to run down my cheeks.

And because posts are always better with a photo, here’s one of my window on Sunday evening. 
This photo reflects how I feel every time I think about my dad. And I think of him every day.

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>Twins Days Roundup

>Twins Days is the largest annual gathering of twins in the world. It takes place in a town of Twinsburg, Ohio and it’s open to all multiples; twins, triplets, quads, identical and fraternal, young and old.  Twins Days, Inc. was founded in 1976 and it’s mission is to provide a vehicle for celebrating the uniqueness of twins and other multiples.

Twins Days packs an array of exciting activities for the two-day festival.  There’s a Double Take parade, golf tournament, twins contests, twins talent show, twins research, 5K race, wiener roast, raffle, twins group photo, fireworks display and much more.  And when the sun goes down, adult twins get together for karaoke and dancing, followed by an after party, and an after-after party.

We, meaning Viola and I have known about such festival for few years and always wanted to attend.  Luckily, this year we were finally able to go. We have enjoyed our time in Twinsburg and the festival so much that we plan on making this event an annual destination in the years to come!

Souvenir from the Twins Days Festival: photo pin.

How many pairs of twins can you spot in this photograph?
Putting a pin on the map.
These identical triplets were a sensation even at Twins Days festival where triplets are less common. From left, Becca, Emily and Molly.
Violet (left) and I with twins contest winners of “Least Alike Females 5-6 yrs old.”
Fraternal twins showing off matching tattoos.

The tattoos of course means TWIN in Hebrew.
From left, first, second and third place winners in the “Most Alike Females in 25-29 yrs.” category.
Marco and Miguel came to the festival from Miami.
Every year numerous research companies gather at the Twins Days Festival grounds to perform tests on twins.  Participating is entirely voluntary and nominal compensation is usually offered for participation in a project — possibly a bag of goodies, or a small amount of money.
Biometrics research such as finger prints, voice, hand geometry, face and iris study to help improve Biometrics recognition system and fraud alerts.
Inside the Biometric Research Tent: After my photos are taken, the technician tries to align Violet’s face with mine. The computer image on the right is the combination of both our faces.  All our key facial features; the eyes, nose and the mouth line up almost perfectly.
Violet and I participated in several different research projects.  If was a fun to learn about our similarities and differences while contributing to research.
Below we’re having 3D Photographic Images taken for research on the similarities and differences in skin aging.
Our names and photos might possibly be published in a magazine like these twins who previously participated in the study.
We also participated in Monell Senses Center’s taste and smell test.
Monika during the taste and smell test where tasting alcoholic content was involved. Swallowing was not allowed. 😉