I am still putting it all together (it's rather sad, really, when I think of the number of photography classes I've taken, and how little I've retained from them).
I did play around with some manual settings and got some rather nice photos of the yard:
The big aha moment came, however, in learning to play with white balance. I did as the tutorial suggested and took took the same photo over and again, using all of the pre-set balances. Then I set the balance using a piece of white paper (after navigating my camera's menu system to learn how to create my own pre-set balance) and took the photo again. I'll spare you ALL of the photos, but here are the photos taken on automatic and using a custom white balance.
Between Aperture Priority and White Balance, I feel like I have a whole new lease on digital photography! Yay!