Sunday, October 28, 2012

Holiday Bazaar

Don't ask me how, but I did it. After a lot of time and hard work, I am ready for this weekend's holiday bazaar!

This isn't just a shameless plug for my forthcoming gig, it is an invitation for everyone to come out and peruse the handcrafted works and wares of more than 70 artisans from across the Rogue Valley and surrounding areas.

Though you may spend a bit more than you would for a similar item in a retail store, there is something to be said about buying locally. You many have more of an impact than you think!

For the occasion, I put together a little collage of a few of the things I have been doing in preparation throughout the past few months. The last photo features a new addition to my greeting card line. I am excited to be debuting two new greeting cards featuring scripture and hope to be adding more soon!

Start your holiday shopping in Medford at the First Church of the Nazarene on Friday, November 2 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, November 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $1.00 (Under 16 are free)

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Secret Obsession

I covet it.

I hide it; in my pocket, a coffee can, under my mattress, in the toilet bowl tank. I hide it because I want it to be mine, all mine.

I relish in the stillness of it.

I think, breathe, relax and if I am being perfectly honest, most times I fall asleep.

It's almost better than - dare I say - coffee? (A close second nonetheless)

What could be possibly be so fantastic you ask?


(Those of you with young children are vigorously nodding your heads in agreement.)

Quiet times, when all I hear are my own thoughts, the gentle humming of the air conditioner, the clock ticking and the occasional creaking of an aging house.

Often times, I feel called to sit in this quietness. Maybe it's after a long day, or sometimes just because there doesn't seem to be much "me" time anymore.

I am drawn to this quiet time. So much so that as I immersed myself in it tonight, the words for this post poured into my head and I had to pry myself off of the couch to get my thoughts down before I forgot them fell asleep.

It doesn't always last long, but I will take what I can get!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Big 3-0

For those of you who don't know, I just turned 30. It came, it went and now I am 30 years and one day old.

With age comes wisdom (allegedly) and more candles on the birthday cake. Always thinking like a photographer, I just had to take this opportunity to try something new and create a blog post at the same time!

Working with different kinds of lighting can be fun and candles are no exception, the more the better.

Using a tripod and a shutter release, I set my camera to f/14, 1/60 sec, ISO 3200 at 53 mm - and this is what I got...

So, the next time a birthday comes around in your family, give this technique a shot (pun intended)! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

DIY - Memory Jar

Do you remember those dioramas that you made from an old shoebox in elementary school? What if you could save memories for your children (or even yourself) in the same manner?

Trade out the shoebox for a glass jar, fill it with things collected from a vacation - and maybe even some pictures - and what you get is a 3D memory jar.

I can't claim this idea to be my own, although it is really a good one! Actually, I ran across this in the August issue of Parents magazine.

The timing of this find couldn't have been more perfect because our family had just spent the 4th of July camping, and as a part of our trip, we had my son do a nature-themed scavenger hunt. What started out as an idea just to keep him occupied and interested in a hike, turned out to be a great opportunity to create memories and also bring home some of what he found.

My son has a bit of the photographer gene, so as a part of his scavenger hunt, we asked him to take pictures of two of the items on his list. With those pics uploaded, I jumped over to PicMonkey (seriously the best free photo editing website!) and created a collage, adding words and a couple of graphics to the photos he took. (I thought it would be cute to put a © symbol and his name on the photos as well, because he did take them!) 

All you need is a clear glass jar, the magazine suggested using a pickle jar, but I only had a mason jar on hand, so that's what I used.

A few items is all you really need. I think less is more with something like this. Adding photos is a really nice touch. Especially if you have a lot of photos in mind, creating a collage is a nice way to incorporate all of them.

Lastly, I wanted to have more than one way to view the items, so I removed the lid, leaving the rim that goes with the mason jar. I cut a circle slightly larger than the mouth of the jar out of a plain ziplock baggie. With the plastic in place on top of the jar, I was able to still screw on the rim, creating a "sunroof" of sorts.

This was so much fun to create and I know that my son will enjoy collecting more memory jars for years to come!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Country Christmas Holiday Bazaar

The countdown is on - there are only three more months until the holiday bazaar season kicks off! I am thrilled to announce that I will be a vendor at the Country Christmas Holiday Bazaar at Medford First Church of the Nazarene! (

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but it is so exciting to look forward to being a part of such a popular event in the Rogue Valley.

In addition to handmade greeting cards and photo coasters, I will also be debuting numerous framed prints in various sizes!  Plus, there will be several cards, coasters and prints that are not listed in my Etsy shop.

This is a great bazaar, full to the brim with local, strictly handmade items - so mark your calendars: Friday & Saturday, November 2nd and 3rd. 

I hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Walking on Water

Knees in, sit back, arms straight, relax...just let the boat pull you.

This is the mantra I repeat to myself as I am bobbing up and down in the water behind our boat, skis strapped to my feet and tow rope in hand. As the water moves around me, I often struggle to keep my balance. Once I feel ready, I yell to the driver to start dragging me and then finally, when I have summoned up the gumption, I yell "hit it!" The driver, in this case, my husband, mashes the throttle forward, with me precariously following.

Sometimes I get up, sometimes I crash.

That's me! Not the greatest form, but I stayed up! I was
also skiing away from the sun, creating a
horrible shadow, but it masks the horrible face
I make when I am concentrating :)
If you were to ask my son about water skiing, he would say one of two things. 1) My mommy crashes when she skis; or 2) My daddy can walk on water! The latter of which prompts a discussion about Jesus and how he was able to walk on water by himself and that daddy needs some help. (Also, that mommy doesn't always crash!)

Don't we all need a little help sometimes?!

What I have gathered about my numerous attempts at mastering the art of waterskiing is that it takes a whole lot of trust in the person driving the boat in order to stay up. About the time you start to take matters into your own hands is when you crash. You have to let the boat pull you, it's as simple as that.

I started thinking about the similarities between waterskiing and our daily walk with God as Christians. This world is a crazy place, filled with many worldly things that can easily lead us down the wrong path, it's the water swirling around us, trying to keep us off balance. If God is driving force in our lives, we have to be able to give up our burdens and allow him to hit the throttle, and just pull us behind him. We have to allow him to carry those burdens and guide our lives.

Knees in, sit back, arms straight, in God, and he will take care of you.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Dog's Perspective - Photo Tip

Sometimes, the key to a great photograph is as simple as a new and different perspective. Thinking outside of the box allows you to grow as a photographer, and playing with the depth of field in your photographs is a great way to achieve this. 

My dog loves to go for rides in our boat, and loves watching us waterski even more. The dog fills the foreground of this photo, becomes the subject and gives the viewer context (his relationship to the skier blurred in the background). 

The fun about playing with depth of field is how the context of the photo changes when the focus is shifted to the skier, leaving the dog blurred. Now, had this blog post been in the back of my mind while shooting, which it wasn't, I would have taken a photo with the skier in focus to compare...

This whole shift in perspective lesson can totally be applied to life, but that's a post for another day!

Happy shooting!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Christmas in July?

I don't know where the concept of "Christmas in July" came from, other than I am pretty sure that retailers are working on their Black Friday advertisements right now.

(You won't be seeing me in any line at the crack of dawn, the stroke after midnight after Thanksgiving or any other God forsaken times, even if it means missing out on slashed prices on socks at Fred Meyer. There is not enough coffee in the world...)

In doing some research however, I discovered that in July of 1944, the U.S. Post Office, Army and Navy - as well as advertising agencies and greeting card companies - started a campaign to promote the early mailing of Christmas cards to troops serving overseas.

Now you know!

To say that the holiday season is right around the corner may seem like a long-shot, but it will be here before we know it. That being said, I want to share a few Christmas additions to my Etsy shop:

Because I am already in the Christmas spirit, enjoy 10-percent off your purchase of individual, sets of 3, 5 and 10 cards for the entire month of July!! It's as simple as entering the coupon code Summer10 at checkout. (This discount does not include custom orders)

I now have "Jingle Bells" stuck in my head...

Friday, June 29, 2012

I may be level headed, but...

I despise hanging shelves. Floating shelves to be exact. I may have a level head, so to speak, but I cannot - I repeat CANNOT - hang shelves level to save my life!

They do make this nifty little tool called a level, but I am pretty sure mine is broken and I have several cock-eyed shelves to prove it.

They aren't so crooked
you take a photo a just the right angle!
My life is often like my crooked shelves. At times, it can be a bit off level, and I try to improve on those things everyday. In terms of the shelves, I tried putting a taller item on the "low" end of the shelf in a desperate attempt to make it look like it's the same height as the other side.

It didn't work. But, I don't care, I am not putting more holes in my wall and I don't want to throw another drill across the room!

Ok, that was a bit of an exaggeration...

When it comes to the things in my life that aren't quite level however, I won't give up.  God has given me a heart to improve myself, so I will continue to put holes into the walls of the things of my life that need improvement until they seem level to me.


"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding;" - Proverbs 3:5

Friday, June 22, 2012

Black and White Photo Challenge

The Hollie Rogue

It's Friday, and that means it's The Hollie Rogue's weekly Photo Challenge. Today, black and white photography is the theme. Here's one of my favorite black and white photos:

It doesn't hurt that the subject is adorable!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Future Fathers

Father's Day is right around the corner and in thinking about what I should post to recognize everything they do, it occurred to me that I am raising two future fathers.

I feel like raising boys is a responsibility that I should not take lightly. Not only do I want to raise them to be good people who love God and will make a positive difference in this crazy world, I am acutely aware that I am raising boys who will someday become men.

A lot of emphasis seems to made about raising girls to be strong, confident, independent women. This makes sense, but I honestly believe that boys aren't raised in that same steadfast fashion, and I think that is a huge oversight.

My prayer for my boys is that they will grow up to be as respectful, loving, emotional, kind, generous - the list can go on - as their father. (Needless to say, I count myself lucky to have a husband who is all of these things and more.)

Respect, especially toward women, is a very important attribute that I want to instill in my boys. My husband whole heartedly agrees, but rolls his eyes a little at this pet peeve of mine; the phrase, "throws like a girl", is not allowed in my house. I will be the mom playing catch with her boys in the backyard, or catching for them while they practice pitching, thank you very much!

All kidding aside, it really is my heart's desire to raise these boys to be good men, and someday, excellent fathers.

Here's to hoping that I don't make them think that women are crazy along the way!

Friday, June 1, 2012


It's June and that means it's summer!  Let the camping, waterskiing and general fun-in-the-sun begin!

2 - Summer Collage
Visit my shop for various cards, prints and coasters featuring the photographs above.

P.S. - I will be debuting a coaster set of the ferris wheel in the next couple of weeks. It's such a whimsical piece and will surely be a source of conversation. Keep an eye of Facebook and I'll let you know when it's been listed!

Friday, April 27, 2012

DIY - Laundry Room Vinyl Decal Picture Frame

Laundry. It consumes most of our lives and seems to grow exponentially when we aren't looking. That being said, I honestly think we spend more time in our laundry rooms than we would like to admit. Why then, should those rooms not be aesthetically pleasing?

For instance, I have a sign in my laundry room - which by no means looks like something out of Better Homes and Gardens - that reads "Drop your pants here".

I have found that I really like laundry humor. It's dirty, but in a good way...

While perusing a local craft store, I came across vinyl decals. "Wash - Dry - Fold - Repeat" one decal read. Enter my "ah-ha" moment of adding photography to the laundry room using an image that I took of some weathered clothespins that had been left outside near a clothesline.

The vinyl decal, the photo and a floating picture frame - that I already had at home - lead to the following idea for sprucing up your laundry room.

How To:

1)   The trick with floating frames is trying find the center of the frame to place your photo. Now, by no means am I going to offer any advice as to how to find the center, as I am sure that I did it in the most backwards way possible. Although, you want to mark and adhere the photo onto the back piece of glass.

I did find that using a dry erase marker to make the marks on the glass works wonderfully, and comes off easily!

I may measure badly, but I did want to
take a picture of the tape measure ;)

2)   Use photo safe double stick tape to adhere the photo to the glass. (Again to the back piece of glass, and obviously this would be a good time to wipe off the marks)

3)   As for the decals, just follow the directions that come on the packaging. Tip: I did find that using a popsicle stick to press firmly against the bottom of the clear adhesive sheet as you are pulling it back helped to keep the vinyl on the glass. 

This is an 11 x 14 inch floating frame with an
8 x 10 inch photo.
As a smaller option, I do sell this image in my shop in the form of a handmade greeting card, which you could frame in a 5 x 7 inch frame and put in your laundry room as well!

Now, google laundry humor, and you can find fun sayings like: "Laundry today, or naked tomorrow!"

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Photo A Day Mom Challenge"

A big thank you to Inspired By Family and The Hollie Rogue for allowing me to contribute a prize to this great contest, just in time for Mother's Day!

Inspired by Family Magazine

I love having the opportunity to encourage my fellow photographers to capture those moments in their day-to-day lives that we all seem to take for granted from time to time. Not only does it give you motivation to take more photos, this opportunity can - and probably will - foster learning new techniques as well!

Without further a-do, here is a sneak-peak at what you could win:

Set of 4 Blank Greeting Cards
featuring my photography

So, take the plunge and try out this challenge. If nothing else, you will come away from it with a wonderful little slice of your life as a mom, in photos!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Photo of the Week

The only thing I can say is that it is becoming embarassing-ly clear that I have a little boy, given what he is doing in this photo, shot from my phone.

(Please take note of the magazine in hand, use your imagination as to where he could be - I mean, what is the best room in one's home to read a magazine? Remember, he's a boy who is currently potty training and his daddy is into cars - oh and note the black marker smeared across his face)...

This moment was so spontaneous, and he was so serious about the magazine, that I had to take a picture. Not to mention that his story behind needing the magazine was because he was looking for a new engine for our boat...

Whatever you say son, whatever you say.

Click on the image above to check
out other fun photos from moms
just like you and me!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Time keeps on slippin'...

There is something about having the windows in your house open, a fresh breeze blowing past your curtains, welcoming the sounds of birds and the sweet smells of Spring.

I'm not one of those people who could live, in let's say Southern California, with virtually one season that never seems to vary much. I once was talking to a friend who was living in San Diego at the time, and she was yearning to move back to Oregon, back to a place that experiences seasons. (Ah what a concept, four seasons each year, one fading right into another.)

The other night, when I managed to strain a back muscle while trying to roll over in bed - did I mention that I am very pregnant -  I found myself sitting on the couch at 4 a.m. listening to the hypnotic tick-tock of the wall clock. That sound always reminds me of being a little girl at my grandma's house listening to the tick-tock of the travel alarm clock in my room as I fell asleep. I loved the sound of it then, just as much as I do now.

My mind wandered while in that hypnotic-like state and I started thinking about how life just keeps on moving, whether we join it or not. Each second ticks by, followed by minutes, hours, days, get the idea, and sometimes we aren't ready to move along with those changes. But changes aren't unlike the changing of seasons - winter into spring, spring into summer, etc. - they are necessary and healthy.

I guess the point of my lost-in-thought-in-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning post today is to say that we should try not to take time for granted.

Take time to relax, take time to be busy doing the things you love, take time to cuddle. Take time to stop and just listen, to the chirping of birds or maybe the gentle tick-tock of a clock.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DIY - Turning a Photo Calendar Into a Scrapbook

It may be obvious given my chosen occupation that I like photography. Let me re-phrase that, LOVE it. That being said, I tend to go a little crazy when it comes to all things related to photography, and that includes creating keepsakes for my family.

In this digital age especially, nearly everyone owns a digital camera - and because of its ease of use and the vast amounts of images you can store on a computer or memory chip - I think people are taking more photos than ever.

I, for example, took somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 photos of my family in 2011. Knowing that there was no way that I was going to take the time to print that many photos and then put them in albums (out of the first five years of my marriage, only one of them is in an album) I decided to create a calendar full of photos. I figured this way I would be forced to choose only the photos that I really liked and that were memorable.

After the first year, I didn't quite know what to do with the calendar, but it was too special to just put in a box. Then I had an epiphany - these pages of photos would make the perfect scrapbook!


Because I have a Mac, it comes with iPhoto, a photo program that also allows the user to create calendars, photo books, etc. within the program. However, there are tons of websites out there where you can upload your photos and do the same thing. Two examples are Snapfish and MyPublisher.

Calendar Cover
Below are two examples of pages I created for the past two years. As you can imagine, there are a ton of different layouts and designs that you can use.

I tried to use photos that corresponded with that
particular month and/or season.

Sometimes, simplicity says it all. 
Here's some of the nitty gritty:

First, I cut each page from the binding. The photo portion of this calendar measured 10 x 13 inches, so in order to fit my pages into a scrapbook sleeve, I had to do some trimming (the standard scrapbook album uses 12 x 12 inch pages). Therefore, I had to take 1/2 inch off of both sides of the page to make it fit into the sleeve.

This is so simple, it's ridiculous. Lastly, I inserted the trimmed page into the plastic sleeve...

...and added some textured scrapbook paper to compliment the collage.  It can be this simplistic, or you can go to town and add the usual scrapbooking suspects like lettering, stickers and things of that nature. Honestly though, for those of us who lead busy lives, leaving it this way may be the only way it will get done!

Monday, March 26, 2012

There's No Such Thing As Perfect Timing

We thought we were so smart. A few months into our second pregnancy, my husband and I relished in the fact that we had timed this pregnancy perfectly. By the time the baby would be born, our son would be three, well on his way to being potty trained (if not already there) and we would have oh so few issues - because he'd be three.

Did I mention that we thought that we had timed this perfectly?

Anyone reading this who has more than one child is rolling with laughter right about now (as is my mom, even though I am an only child) and as it turns out, I am relatively sure that God is having Himself a pretty good chuckle right now too.

You see, the past few months have been a very somber reminder in my house that we are not in control and as much as we make plans and hastily hope that they are the right plans, ultimately, we are not the ones holding the blueprint.

I realize that this revelation isn't a new one. However, as I sit here in the pitch dark of my living room - eyeballing the hallway to make sure that my son doesn't get out of bed for the ump-tenth time tonight - there seems only to be light coming from my laptop monitor, while in truth there is endless light coming from another source in our home.

That source is Jesus Christ.

Truth be told, He has put a tremendous amount of light in my son. I have had to remind myself countless times recently that there is more to my son than the occasional temper tantrum and the absolute refusal to go to bed when I ask him to. I am truly convinced that he has the heart of a servant. In fact he has a huge heart. He is always concerned about the well-being of others above himself (yes even at his age), he is always eager to help you or ask you if you would like a snack too and this age has also brought him the ability to tell you randomly that he loves you before he offers you a kiss.

Needless to say, there is no perfect timing when it comes to bringing children into this world - they come in God's time only - and I find myself humbled (and a bit humiliated) for even thinking that just because my son didn't go through the "terrible twos" didn't mean that he wasn't going to have challenges at some point. (Insert God's sense of humor that it happens when I am eight months pregnant and new to being a stay-at-home-mom!)

So, here we go. There are merely two months until our new addition enters our family and I have come to terms with the fact (at least for the time being) that this isn't going to easy, but one thing is certain, it will be perfectly imperfect and that is fine with me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why Do I Blog?

You can call me a blogging beginner. I just started this journey a couple of months ago, but I have already discovered a network of people who have similar interests, many of whom have taken the same leave-your- day-job-for something-you-love plunge!

I was one of those people who loved school, even college. I actually enjoyed writing 30 page research papers. (Call me a nerd, it's OK!) While I was in college, I took a newspaper journalism class and found that that was something that I hated! Only facts, in the same who, what, when, where, why and how format- each and every time. I discovered that it wasn't my thing. 

It wasn't until I took an intern position at a magazine that I truly found my passion for writing and the kind of writing that I enjoy the most. I like to call it "creative non-fiction" and blogging has given me an awesome opportunity to write about anything I want, anytime I want, and share it with my friends and the whoever else in the world wants to read about it. (Color me flattered that you want to read what I write, by the way!)

In addition to writing, I am a photographer and love to share that creative work as well, and the two have proved to be a fulfilling combination in my life. Blogging for me isn't about standing up on my soap box about social issues, though I sometimes talk about subjects that are of social concern. For me it is the opportunity to gather around the virtual water cooler and share.

And share I will continue to do. Come join me!

DIY - What Not to Do

What started out as a "brilliant idea" recently turned into a what-not-to-do. An FYI, I come from a relatively long line of DIY women and this gene is not lost on me. 

So, when I found a pin on Pinterest about making seeded paper, I got that familiar spark of enthusiasm, excitement, and I am pretty sure that look in my eyes that says that this could be the next big thing for me to add to my shop!

Essentially, seeded paper is good 'ole paper with flower seeds embedded in it. The recipient can then tear up the card after they receive it, hopefully read what you write first, then plant the paper and flowers will soon follow. It's the perfect "gift that keeps on giving". Hence my initial enthusiasm. 

Much to my dismay, I think I added way too much water when I "blended" my paper. It was taking forever to dry, so I put it aside...

...and kind of forgot about it...

I am fairly certain that the paper is not supposed to sprout before it gets to its recipient.

I wanted SEEDED paper not CHIA PET paper!!!

Like my mom said, at least she's not the only one this kind of thing happens to. Which, by the way, happens to everyone! (That's my story and I am sticking to it)
Needless to say, any future attempts at making seeded photo greeting cards will be done with pre-made seeded paper.

Winston Churchill said it best, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

I am confident that, eventually, failure will lead to success. Let's hope in a "rags-to-riches" sort of way!

Monday, March 12, 2012


The world - via Justin Timberlake - tells us to bring "sexy back," but yesterday my pastor - via the Bible -   encouraged me and his congregation to bring kindness back.

It is such a small, simple request, but yet one that has the ability to speak volumes when given the chance.

Recently, I read a story about a woman who was attempting to hail a cab outside of her New York City office building. As if that wasn't hard enough in and of itself, she was doing so with a broken leg and a set of crutches, making it nearly impossible.  Seeing the trouble the woman was having, television host Hoda Kotb, came to the woman's aid, hailing her a cab and giving the cab driver the money to take the woman wherever she needed to go.

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." 
            - Aesop (Greek fable writer)

This may seem like a random post, but for whatever reason, when my pastor mentioned the phrase "bring kindness back", I immediately thought of the Justin Timberlake song and couldn't help but chuckle to myself right there in the pews.

I laugh because it's such a random connection, but I think the underlying message is very important.  We all struggle with the messages that the world sends us and, Christian or not, we really may not want to follow the world's lead. And that is OK.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another..." Ephesians 4:32

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ode to the Self-Portrait

Don't ask me why I choose to torture myself and take my own maternity photos, aka "belly shots" - no not the kind that involve jello - but I do, and I am at it again.

Something about being a photographer lures me into thinking that I can take just as good of photos of myself as anyone else can. Ego, coupled with frugality, has taken me down the self-portrait path yet again. I have to admit though, by sheer luck, my maternity photos with my first pregnancy turned out really well, so I have convinced myself that I can do it again. Here's a shot from the first time around:

My first pregnancy at 35 weeks
with our dog. 
There were a couple of aspects of this photo shoot that were a gamble. First, I was in our bathroom with very little space to do much of anything and secondly, I was using film, pretty much making educated guesses on my camera settings and hoping like heck that the photos turned out!  

Much to my chagrin, they turned out better than I had expected.

Photo Tips:

Search your house high and low, near and wide for good light. At the time, we had a large frosted-glass window in our bathroom and I waited for the afternoon sun to filter through it to take the photos. That's the tip part, the luck part is that because of the lighting situation, it ended up blacking out the shower door, which believe it or not, is directly behind me.  

Invest in a tri-pod for this very reason. I would also recommend getting a small, what I am going to refer to as "counter-top", tri-pod. I see these in most all electronic departments and most come with flexible legs so that you can manipulate them in order to get just the right angle for your shot. 

Most cameras come with a self-timer, and that's all that I used here. On higher-end cameras you can also add a shutter-release. This eliminates the need for you to push the button and run like a mad woman, position yourself just right and hope you get there before your time is up!  (The latter can be quite comical and I have a family "portrait" that illustrates this perfectly - although, I don't know if it qualifies as a portrait when one member of the family is only half-way in the photo.)

I'm not done with my photos yet, but here is what I like the best so far with this pregnancy:

Silhouette at 28 weeks.

For a little bit of inspiration, I googled maternity photos and then added them to my Pinterest account to keep track of them. Check them out!

As you may be able to tell by now, I am a do-it-myself kind of girl. I throughly enjoy the creative process of having an idea, in this case inspiration for a photo, and seeing it through to the end. The process is very satisfying. 

I do run into frustration with this approach to life and there are times when I really need to just hand the reigns over to someone who knows what they are doing. 

To illustrate this quandry, I have an upcoming post that involves a tangled mess of yarn, a crochet hook and a not-so-happy hooker - no not that kind - that makes this point perfectly! 

In the meantime, be creative however you see fit, even if you're the only one who appreciates the outcome!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

DIY - Family Photo Collage Frame

What started out as a simple way to fill a space left on the wall of my son's room - after we took down his crib and put up his "big boy" bed one year ago - turned into filling a different kind of spiritual space.

When the crib came down, I had to hang something on the wall above his bed because the gap between the wooden letters spelling out his name, and the top of the bed was too much for me to handle.

In a devine moment of inspiration, I decided to print photos of my son's family members from both sides of our family and put them into a collage picture frame.  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough room for aunts and uncles, but we did squeeze in a space for his cousins, since he loves them so much.

There are four generations represented in this frame, and one has since passed, which makes me even more appreciative that pictures were taken when they were, because regardless of whether or not they are still here;

"Family is forever."

Trust me, I am not delusional. We all have moments when we aren't the biggest fan of someone(s) in our family for whatever reason, but honestly, they are forever and my husband and I really want to make that impression on our children.

The truly inspirational part of this story has nothing to do with simply hanging a picture frame, our son created that all on his own. 

It started as him standing on his bed and pointing to each photo and telling us who was in it.  Soon, it became a quiz of sorts and we would ask him where someone was and he would jump up, climb onto his bed and point to them.  At one point, he even asked where his youngest cousin was. (She had just been born - which reminds me, her picture still isn't in the frame!)

Family collage. If you want to add in more people, just use
a larger frame. The more the merrier!
Photo tip:

Try to take multi-generational photos when you can. Trust me, it will be worth it later on. Also, when creating a collage try to throw in some black and white or sepia-toned images amongst the color photos. Doing so breaks up the monotony of color photos, not to mention, some photos just look better without color.

Speaking of families, sometime soon I intend on creating a multi-generational family gallery on our hallway wall. Once, I do I will share that with you as well. You think I like pictures now, well I LOVE old pictures, and have some big ideas on what to do with them!

This project is so simple yet, at least for our family, it ended up meaning so much more than we had ever intended or imagined. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

When saying a little says it all

Is everyone a storyteller?  Larry Smith, editor of the online web publication Smith Magazine, thought so and in an attempt to encourage aspiring writers - and anyone for that matter - he issued a challenge for his readers to share their stories in six words.

Six. Not a paragraph, a page, an article or a full-length novel. Just six words.

What started out as a one-month contest in 2006, spawned into an out-pouring of honest, and often inspiring, six-word stories that continues to this day. I have to say, if you can't relate to at least one of them, you are not human. (Check out the website, the link is above. They even make t-shirts!)

I happened to learn about these "Six-word Memoirs" while flipping through the pages of the February issue of Magazine. There, covering six-pages (kinda ironic don't ya think?) are stories from their readers, of which I was slightly disappointed that none of them mentioned faith or God. Regardless, they were humorous, telling and inspiring none the less. The one that popped off the page for me came from a 22-year-old. It said, "Life gives lemons, but no juicer." Very true.

To say that coming up with only six words is a challenge for me is the understatement of the century, as I tend to want to be witty, clever, insightful, poetic and thought-provoking with everything that I write, and I always have been.

This isn't to say that I think highly of myself, or have any far-fetched and lofty words to describe my story, and those words would probably never come close to filling the pages of a book. However, I think in every storyteller, there tends to be a desire to express more than what is necessary.

So, six words it is. Without further a-do, and after much brow-furrowing, hand exercises and knuckle-popping, here it goes:
"God made me with a purpose."

Phew. That was much easier than anticipated. (P.S. - He made you with a purpose too!)

Now, as I embark on this "new chapter" of my life, the question of my purpose begs me to answer it, and I will - eventually.

For now, I will be pacified knowing that even if I don't know my exact purpose at this exact moment, it does exist, and God has given me this opportunity to to take time to define it. That is good enough for me.

What are your six words?  I really want to see what you come up with! Please post them in the comments below...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A dog and his boy

Recently, I ran across a quote that I knew I had to remember. It is a simple concept, and one very true in my house:

"Every dog needs a boy." 

This quote inspired me to re-vamp a picture frame that I have hanging next to the back door. The frame has three hooks and it has been used as a convenient place to hang the dog's leash.  All this time, I only had one photo of the dog gazing out at a pasture of cows, but I had never put anything in the two spots flanking that photo.  To say that this looked extremely tacky is putting it mildly, unless seeing the heads of the screws on the backboard of the frame is considered art.

I decided that this would make for a simple project that is both practical and thought provoking. I'll bet some of you have similar inspiration in your house too!

Before I get into the step-by-step, I want to say something about the photo, here's what I have in the frame now:

At the time, these two stared out the front window often. 
Photo tip:  There is a trick to photographing subjects that are "back-lit".  Your camera, on an automatic setting, will want to meter off of main light source - which is coming from outside in this case - and will underexpose your subjects.  If you have a simple point-and-shoot camera, the best thing you can do is make sure that your flash is on and fires when you take the photo. That way, your subjects will be properly exposed and the background will end up slightly over-exposed, which is fine. 

If you have a manual setting on your camera, or an SLR camera, set the Tv (shutter speed priority setting) to 1/100 second and pop your flash, so that it fires as well.  This does the trick! 

You would kick yourself if you missed this kind of "Kodak" moment when it presented itself, so practice taking pictures of your kids, pets, anyone who is willing, with the window directly behind them. (In daylight of course, it won't work the same at night!)

After I found this quote, I knew what to do with those two empty openings. I split the quote in half, hand-writing one half on one piece of textured scrapbook paper and the other half on the opposite piece using a thin-tip black marker.

Now onto the frame. Here is the super-simple photo tutorial:

Textured scrapbook paper. (Paper cutters are a life saver!)

Paper alone was too bland, so I found some thin ribbon
and added it to the bottom of both pieces of  paper.

I simply attached it on the back side with transparent tape.

"Every dog needs a boy."

There you have it!  I can't believe I hadn't thought of this sooner, but I think it was one of things that required a little bit of inspiration to come up with the perfect use for something that I already had. 

Here's to inspiration!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A new chapter....

Welcome! My name is Leslie and this is my first, futile attempt at blogging! (wish me luck)  The timing for the start of this blog was divinely timed to say the least. I just quit my job of 8 years to begin a new, much more fulfilling, career as a stay-at-home-mom of a 3-year-old and a baby who is on the way.

I want this blog to be a shared experience with all of you, both in terms of the normal, sometimes mundane things we all go through everyday, but also with regard to capturing those moments with the photos we take along the way.

"Sometimes you never will know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory." - unknown

I plan on writing about those things that I find interesting, the humorous adventures I experience with my family and of course, about photography.

As I embark on this new chapter in my life, I am filled with inspiration and also fear. However, I know that everything happens for a reason and that this transition is full of purpose for me to discover along the way.

A little about my story: 

I am married to an amazing man, who also happens to be my best friend. We're going on 5 years of marriage (or what he affectionately refers to as "legalized slavery") and he has been the partner of my dreams, even if he can't seem to throw away trash in the kitchen garbage can.

Together, my husband and I have two children; a 3-year-old who arguably has the best personality that I have ever witnessed in a toddler and a baby on the way. We are so incredibly blessed with our son and I am sure those blessings will multiple even more with our new addition. Boy or girl? Call us old-fashioned, but we prefer to wait for the big moment to know. (No oober pre-baby planning for me!)

In mid-2011, I was inspired to start a business utilizing my love of photography -- I have a degree in photojournalism -- and any other creative skills I could muster up. Thus enters my Etsy shop, Any Occasion Photography, I started out making blank greeting cards featuring my photos, but have since decided to branch out and offer prints and photo gifts as well.

My desire to own a business began eons ago, and I find even the most mundane details about the process exciting!  (lame, I know) With an Etsy shop established, I moved onto the ever-evolving land of Facebook,, and now, this blog!

I sincerely hope that this space will be a place where you can kick back with a cup of coffee, tea, 6-pump sugar free soy latte (to each his own) and enjoy life's moments together.


"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..."  - Ephesians 3:20