>A pre-Valentine’s treat

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I may not be a Wolfgang Puck in the kitchen but these heart-shaped Belgian waffles made by truly yours are to die for.  
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>Spot the differences

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Can you spot the differences in the two photos below? Can you spot the similarities, is probably a better question.  
The top photo is the edited version of the photo below. Let me just say that no one blackmailed me to do this. But, no one paid me to do it either.  It’s also important to mention that I’m not a big fan of photo manipulation and prefer to keep photos as close to the original as possible. Even small cropping makes me cringe. So what happened here, you ask? Well, what started as wanting to remove a couple of bothersome branches turned into an obsession of cloning out every branch that wasn’t taken up by a bird.  And an hour later, here are the results of my hard labor.  So do you think it was worth my time and effort? I think so.
(Photo taken at Hubbard Park in Meriden)

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>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.

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>More Snow, Icicles and Tree Branches

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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

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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

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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

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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.
Mooo
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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>Tree branches

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View from my back yard. Can you locate the Tufted Titmous? (hint: a bird)

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>Christmas 2010

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Since I’ve been unfortunately ill for the Christmas holiday I’ve not taken many photos of the celebrations. At least, nothing worth sharing. And the worst part of it all, I missed out on the amazing Wigilia dishes due to lack of appetite. So, here’s my lame Christmas-related post instead.
I overhead this on the radio:
One in ten gifts received under the tree will be broken by the New Year.
More diamonds are sold around Christmas than any other time of the year.
Seven in ten dogs will receive a gift on Christmas from their owner.
Misiu taking his fifth nap of the day, few days before Christmas. (He’s awfully lazy this time of year.)

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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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