A Walk on the Fourth

Let's rewind for a bit and go back to July 4th weekend.  I took a bunch of photos that weekend, but of course I was too busy editing and sharing Hawaii photos to think about them, until now!  Our fourth of July weekend was very laid back, mainly because my back was still bothering me.  But I was also getting antsy from spending most of my evenings resting indoors so I was dying to get out of the house and do something.  Antoine and I decided to go to French Park and take a long, slow walk with Cheese...
I really don't know who likes French Park more, us or Cheese!  It's such a great park.

I love when Cheese gets a burst of energy and goes nuts!  It's so much fun to watch him run around!
Haha, this just makes me smile!
And just like that, the energy is gone!
After his running spree Cheese proceeded to pull Antoine over into the shade of a tree and plop down for a while.  Poor guy!

I'm not going to go on and on about how much I love this place, because that's already a widely known fact in these parts.  But there's just something about a walk in the woods when you've been laid up in the house for a couple weeks that brings you back to life...even if it does leave you a little sore in the end.  I have some more French Park photos and July 4th weekend photos to share next weekend.  Until then, happy Friday and have a great weekend!


Petal Explosion

Every year I eagerly look forward to the summer for a variety of reason, blueberry picking, hikes in French Park, bike rides with Antoine, etc.  But I also really look forward to summertime because it is when our Rose of Sharon tree erupts with flowers.  Sometime in April the leaves begin to grow, then in late May the buds start to form.  Then usually by the end of June or the beginning of July the buds start to blossom with big, pale pink flowers.  It's a petal explosion and I love it!  And so do the bees (which just makes me love it even more!).  What I love most about the tree is that it flowers pretty much all summer!  New blossoms just keep blooming throughout July and August!  It's a constantly source of beauty and pollen.  We even say a hummingbird feeding on the tree the other day, which I had never seen before!

I also took a quick detour to our back porch to snap some photos of our pretty lavender we have growing in a pot...

Late in the day is usually when the bees really come out...and we know how I like taking pictures of flowers and bees!  What can I say, it makes me happy for some reason.
A beetle joining in on the fun.

I was also looking forward to sharing these photos because they were all shot manually.  I have a bad habit of shooting in automatic or one of the preset modes out of convenience, but I'm really trying to get away from that and expand my skills.  Since I'm self-taught it's been a constant struggle with that lazy part of myself  to branch out and experiment...but I know it'll make me better in the long run, even if it takes more time and energy.  I still think there are times when automatic is the way to go and I will admit that I will almost always have my lens on auto-focus, because I don't trust my eyes and it takes me forever.  But in times like these when it's the weekend and I'm just playing around...why not!  Well, except that I look like a crazy person standing in my front yard in front of a tree for 45 minutes taking pictures of flowers.  The neighbors will just have to get used to it! 


Happy Graduate!

All they way back in mid-May my sister, Michelle, graduated from Xavier University (my own alma mater)!  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to share the photos I took of this momentous occasion, you know what with planning a secret wedding and all, so I wanted to share them now since I am beyond proud of my big sis!

Here's the thing you need to know about my sister...she's kind of amazing!!  She's been a travel agent for like 22 years now (can you guess where I got my passion for travel from?!) and an awesome one at that.  Before I moved to Cincinnati in 2003, Michelle was not only working full-time as a travel agent but also part time at a local pub.  Then she opened her own tea house, The Tea Cozy Cottage, where she served high tea two weekends a month (all the while still doing the travel agent thing), until December 2011.  And throughout all of this she was taking classes part time at Xavier.  We were actually lucky enough to take a couple classes together while I was going to school there, which was pretty cool...even if she drove me a bit crazy sometimes!  And on May 17th she finally graduated with her Associates degree!  It was such a big accomplishment that has been many years in the making and I couldn't be more proud of her, her never-ending energy, and her admirable drive and passion!
 See the adorable red-head in the middle who looks so excited...that'd be my seester!
Family and friends ready to cheer on Michelle.
 Oh, seester, you are so adorable!
  Making her way up to the stage!
 Do you think she's excited!?!
 It's time!

After graduation we had a little party for Michelle at Swaim Park in Montgomery.  Antoine and I had this sweet banner printed for the party...
 Amanda and Aaron being adorable!
And a moment later...hahahahaha!  I have no words.
  Michelle posing with our mom and dad.  And yes, she did wear her cap and gown for the rest of the party and I think most of the day!
 Christian and the happy graduate!
Swaim Park.
 The best friend bunch, back together again!  I love these ladies so much!

We definitely had a good time celebrating my sis and her big accomplishment!  As you can tell from the photos she was all smiles, all day (though that's her most of the time)!  Then the following day, over breakfast, Antoine and I told my parents, sister, and brother-in-law that we were eloping in Hawaii!!  That's right, they had no clue until the weekend before we left for Hawaii!  Antoine and I had been nervous all weekend (and for a long while before, to be honest) and when Sunday came around we were relieved that no one was upset and everyone was just happy for us!  So, all in all, it was a pretty eventful weekend!