Thursday Thoughts #8

Thursday Thoughts

I’m posting a second Thursday Thoughts this month because there’s just so much going on!

We’ve been in our new house a little over a month now – and we’re getting closer to calling it home. We downsized when we moved to Ohio. I know, sounds crazy when we added a family member! With an older house we have much less storage space inside the home – but there’s a shed in the backyard and an add-on at the back of the garage where all of our extra furniture is housed in while here. Funnily enough I have a smaller kitchen, but more cupboard space. A very small amount of counter space though means the dishes pile up quickly; I’m still working on how to efficiently do my food prep. One thing I haven’t figured out is the lighting. The light fixtures, while new, have covers on them and provide a very yellow glow. I’ve been utilizing the covered back porch to get natural light and take my food outside to photograph. I’m not so sure foodgawker likes seeing grass in the background of my photos – it’s been a struggle to have images accepted on their site again. So, it’s back to square one with food photography. I do have a photobox that I might just have to become more proficient in using. If anyone has any tips please let me know!

IMG_0245We signed the lease for this house sight-unseen while still in Florida. We were hoping to avoid our belongings being placed in storage by having a door-to-door move. Unfortunately, our personal plans of a week’s vacation along the way meant that wouldn’t be possible. When we arrived, the house was smaller than we anticipated (the storage room I mentioned was included in the square footage, but it’s not a livable space). The photographs of the property that we saw online were accurate though, which was comforting. We were nervous this house wouldn’t work for us, but with creative use of space we’re happy with our new home. What is meant to be the dining room is our living room with couch, tv, and small table to eat on and the living room doubles as Stuart’s office and my craft space. The backyard is beautiful, too. The sink in the kitchen is underneath a window that looks into the yard and I love it!

I do love our neighborhood, and better yet, our neighbors! We always said we were “bad neighbors” in Florida. We’d always do the kind “wave hello” driving through the neighborhood and on our walks, occasionally we stopped to converse with the family on the corner. We vowed to be better neighbors when we moved and so far our neighbors have made that possible. Our next door neighbors stopped by to welcome us with fresh tomatoes from their garden. (You may have seen the photos on Instagram)

I’ve always heard that nothing can compare to homegrown tomatoes. That statement is absolutely correct. I don’t eat tomatoes plain – but these I could with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Perfectly firm yet juicy and full of fresh flavor. I wanted to do these tomatoes justice – by not heating them! – and prepared two meals with them. We did BLTs that hit the spot and I created a tomato blueberry “salsa” to top grilled honey balsamic chicken which we ate over a bed of wild rice (photographed below).

Tomato Blueberry Salsa

Hawaii: The Big Island: Mauna Kea

After every trip, my father would always ask, “What was your favorite part?” It’s never an easy question to answer.  I cheated in my response after this vacation… I have a favorite activity and a favorite experience. I’ve already covered my favorite activity, it is now time for my favorite experience.

On Saturday night we decided to drive up to Mauna Kea. The summit of Mauna Kea is the home to the world’s largest astronomical observatory. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano and the highest point in Hawaii reaching 13,796 ft above sea level. Reaching the summit requires acclimation at the Onizuka Visitor Information Station for 30 minutes; the center is at an altitude of 9300 feet. We stopped at the visitor’s station as rental cars are not allowed on Summit Rd. If you want to see the observatory and the summit you can pay for an excursion.

Summit RoadTo get to the Onizuka Center, take Saddle Road and turn onto Summit Road and climb 2500 feet in 6 miles. It was so fun to drive through “fog” which wasn’t fog in the typical context, you’re actually driving through the clouds you were staring up at only moments ago from sea level! Once making it through the “fog” the sky is completely clear.

We hiked a little ways across from the visitor’s station to watch the sunset from above the clouds. Even before the sun started to set we were cold. I packed jeans and jackets, but I’d never thought to pack gloves on a trip to Hawaii! The best dollar spent was for a cup of hot chocolate at the Onizuka Center. We hunkered down from the wind behind a pile of rocks and watched the most spectacular sunset while we ate our sandwiches. (When hikes are on the agenda, I like to make a stop at the grocery store and pick up deli meat, cheese, bread and snacks to always have food on hand while we’re out.)

Sunset above the Clouds

I typically watch a sunset from the beach and love watching the sun disappear into the water, but watching the sunset from above the clouds was equally, if not more, stunning. As the colors in the sky continued to shift the clouds began to emulate waves and the rays of remaining sunshine illuminating the neighboring clouds like lava. Stuart titled our sunset photos “The Lava of the Sky”.

...wish I may, wish I might...
…wish I may, wish I might…

In the down time between setting sun and total darkness we went back to the car to warm up! But not before snapping a picture of the first star of the night.

Photography is a new hobby of ours and we were anxious to try and snap a few photos of the night sky. And we weren’t the only ones with tripods handy. Our novice skill set yielded only one non-solid-black photo. I had to do some editing, and you may have to tilt your computer screen to see it but here’s what we could capture. The sky was so clear that I saw the smallest of stars that go undetected on the mainland. The Onizuka Center has a free star-gazing program during which they show a documentary and provide opportunities to look through telescopes. 

Night Sky