Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Here we are - back to Monday again!
Libbi says good morning too.

She is fully recovered from her run in with a car over a week ago.  Thank goodness.

Today she is back on her own as I'm back at school for the day. Yep, it's that time of year again. I'm in my final countdown of summer vacation.

We have our welcome back breakfast this morning and then staff meetings this afternoon. I may put a little time in my classroom to prep for my students next week, but the rest of my week I plan on enjoying every moment I can.  

The Wonder Dog & I still have a few dock days to put in - it was so cold, rainy & overcast this last week, we didn't get over there once!

This past weekend was spent close to home.

I drove my MIL to South Bend on Friday afternoon to pick up my sister-in-law, who flew home for the weekend from Florida. It was a nice afternoon, a quick trip there & back!

Friday night I stopped at the local organic grocery store & picked up sushi for Dream Boy & chicken salad for moi. I am not a fan of fish, but he is. And yes, I've tried sushi, and no - I still don't like it.

Saturday was a wet, dreary, rainy & cool day. We were supposed to work the back to school carnival at church in the afternoon, but the weather was horrendous, so it was postponed to September 12.

I had a senior shoot scheduled for 4pm, but again, the radar and hour by hour forecast was not promising, so we rescheduled for later this week.

So Dream Boy & I headed into town & did a little shopping, some stuff I needed for my classroom and groceries we needed for home. We picked up fixings for dinner & headed home for the night.

Dream Boy offered to cook, so I let him. Love that man!

We settled in after dinner and pulled up a documentary on Amazon Prime called, "Holes In My Shoes." It's about a man named Jack Beers who grew up on the lower east side of New York. He was 94 when this documentary was filmed and he & his younger (86) brother told Jack's life story.


If you have not seen this film, you need to watch it. This man just blew our minds with all he has accomplished in his life and how he did it and the humble attitude he had of it all. 


Then we watched a movie, "If I Stay." I read the book last year & really like it and I must say the movie was very good as well. Sometimes they lose something when they make a movie from a book, but I think this one stayed fairly close to the story line.

Sunday we started our morning in church, as we do every week. We love our little church and really enjoy everyone we've come to know there. 

After church we headed downtown to our little Main Street Cafe & had breakfast and got caught up with Marlene & Michael - the staff there. They know us by name and make us feel right at home when we walk in the door.

We then headed home and Dream Boy joined up with his riding buddies & they took off for an afternoon ride while I prepped for a senior session later that afternoon.

I met up with my senior girl & her mom in downtown & we strolled the river walk and did some pictures before heading a little further into downtown to shoot at 2 new spots I had spied earlier this summer. 

It was great because there was virtually no one around, so we weren't fighting for an open spot or waiting for people to move.

We finished up there & then headed out to a local golf course that had an old barn on the property, along with some old rusted farm equipment & trucks. It was a very unique setting and they were so polite and welcoming in letting us shoot a few pictures there!

I headed home after we finished up there & picked up Dream Boy & we immediately went out to the local campground for supper with our friends & their family. What a great way to wrap up the weekend.

We ended it with a small bonfire before heading home around 9:30 so I could shower off the bug spray & get to bed at a decent time.

This back to school & alarm schtuff is going to cramp my style very quickly. 

But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

Have a great week everyone - I'll be back later with a catch up on my 365 project. 

Yes, I'm very proud to say that I have not yet missed a day. But, my prompts that I started with this project with will be ending today, so I need to get busy & continue my list by researching more. I am finding it helps me greatly to have a prompt a day or so before I'm to shoot it, so I don't feel like I'm just taking the photo to take the photo.

Thanks for stopping by this morning! And to all my faithful readers, thank you for your kind words when I see you or with the comments you leave on my post. I'm so glad you enjoy catching up on our life at My Happy Place.

Oh - & don't forget, tomorrow is the 1st of September, so be sure to join me on Instagram with "Feet First". Take a shot of where you are standing at any given time of the day & post it & tag it #feetfirst2015. It's a lot of fun to look back on you shots of feet first as the year goes on & see where you've been!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chicago Journey - Day 2

When I left you yesterday, we had just ordered our lunch from the Taco Truck, right?

We secured a bench in the park and dined on our tacos, salsa & chips all while people watching. The park filled up quickly as it was the business lunch hour as well & everyone was taking advantage of the beautiful summer day to sit outside & eat. Lots of brown baggers and lots of bought lunches, but the park was filled with the sound of chatter & laughter all around.

I finished my lunch 1st, so I grabbed Lucy & headed up around the steps for a few shots of a bike rack that had caught my eye. I think because Dream Boy is so big into biking & I do some of my own, this rack just screamed at me.
So many bikes and so much character in each one! New, old & in between. I especially like the old milk crate strapped on the back of one to help carry all that important cargo to & from. 

I fully understand commuting in the big city by bike. After spending time in Seattle with S&D2, either public transportation or bikes is the way to go in the tangled masses of cars.

Oh & Dream Boy loves this pick - somehow I knew he would.  

Deanna & Sarah soon finished up & we cleaned up our bench & headed off in the direction of The Bean.

But we passed through another park on our way there where there were oodles of children playing in the Splash Park. It was the perfect way to spend their afternoon.
We again dawdled, just people watching and admiring the art surrounding us, whether it be the architecture of a building, sculptures....
or a girl refreshing her makeup before returning to work.
We finally tore ourselves away & headed around the corner to find The Bean!

As you can tell, it was packed around here, which is usually the case.

We headed in closer for the obligatory selfie, which we took with the 3 of us at once.
You can't see it here, but poor Sarah was getting crowded out by the woman to the right of her in this shot. She kept backing up & literally was pushing Sarah over as she kept moving closer to The Bean & her husband kept telling her to move. She was totally oblivious to her touching and pushing on Sarah.

We didn't last long around The Bean as the heat radiating off from it was crazy hot!

We left this world marvel and headed in the direction of the Chicago River to catch our Architectural Boat Tour.  We didn't have far to walk and just before we reached our destination we were overshadowed by this building.
The TRUMP building. The letters on the side of this are 2 stories tall! They told us on the tour that Donald Trump had every intention when he started designing this to make it the tallest building in Chicago, which meant it would tower over the Sears (I still call it the that) Tower and then would be the tallest building in the U.S. 

But the day Mr. Trump flew in to meet with his architecture's, was September 11, 2001. In light of what happened that day, he chose to make the building a bit shorter than the Sears Tower. In all honesty though, as we're on the boat making our way down the river & I'm listening to this, I can't understand what the difference would have made? After all, if you ever have the opportunity to take this tour, you will immediately know what I'm talking about. 

If Chicago were to be attacked, as New York was, the logical route would be to fly out over Lake Michigan & head straight into the city via the Chicago River. The Trump Building is the 1st building of stature that you see on the left side. 

Anyways, we headed off down the river and learned a whole lot about the buildings on either side of it. I was amazed at the history I learned that day.

I honestly couldn't tell you which building this is, but I was struck at the way the sun was peaking around the corner of this building.

It was literally one of the few pictures I took while on this tour.

I did enjoy hearing about Montgomery Ward and the park built in his honor. The buildings that his company had were massive along the river & fortunately are not standing empty, much like the original United States Post Office now is. We learned that Groupon is now in the Montgomery Ward building. 

Our tour ended after about 1 1/2 hours - and I highly recommend this particular one if you ever have the chance to take a tour on this river.

After we docked we headed back up to the street level and decided our day was complete and it was time to head back to the train station. Being that it was a 2 mile walk back & Deanna was becoming tired of walking, I pulled up my Uber app and called in an Uber. 

I felt so smart! We have used Uber in Seattle when we visit our kids, but this is the 1st time that I had used my app and took advantage of this form of transportation! 

Soon we were back at the train station and boarding for our ride back to Naperville!

One more day of fun awaited us on Wednesday - more on that next week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Photography Journey Into the Big City Continues

A few weeks ago, I went to the Chicago area to explore with my camera & a few other blogging/photography buddies.

I arrived at the home of my friend on Sunday & on Monday 4 of us met up together & explored the delightful little town of Geneva. If you haven't read that post, you can catch up on it here.

On Tuesday, 3 of us, caught the train at the Naperville station & set out to spend a day in the BIG city of Chicago!
Side note: I caught some slack about having a selfie stick, but (ahem), it did come in handy!

The train ride last maybe an hour, but with our chitchatting, it didn't seem to be near that long.

Upon arriving & emerging from the underground world of Chicago, we were greeted by a beautiful, sunny, clear day! 

After getting our bearings, we set off on foot to explore the streets as we headed towards Millennium Park.

As I am participating in a 365 Journey & have been using prompts this month from Susannah Conway's #AugustBreak2015 on Instagram. The prompt for this particular day was edge & while I didn't end up using this shot, it is a great capture of my friend Deanna. It truly shows her loving personality!
With no real agenda in our mind, we were free to stop & admire & shoot whatever fell into our path. 

A beautiful building caught Sarah's eye as we were looking down a side street at the Chicago Board of Trades Building. 

The building was "The Rookery" and as we were standing outside the entrance, a gentlemen told us that we really needed to go inside and see the architecture of this building.

He also informed us that this is where they plan on shooting the movie with Leonardo Dicaprio in it, "The Devil In The White City".
Okay - can you believe the woman standing on the stairs behind Sarah does this all day long? She is "the keeper of the stairs", meaning, she does not allow anyone with out authorization beyond this point.

Not being drawn to architecture and the such, I admired the beautiful ceilings & lighting, but didn't capture many photos, as I was more enamored by watching the people moving about. 

As we exited the building, we were all instantly drawn to the 2 food trucks across the street. They appeared to be together due to the paint color & style of their trucks, but at the same time, they were 2 totally different trucks!
Oh the charm of these 2 trucks, but this donut truck is what everyone seemed to be drawn too.

Not to mention - it sold DONUTS! Who can resist donuts?
Me. I resisted the urge to purchase a donut. It was hard, believe me, but I did resist!
Our journey continued on in the shadows of the buildings along the way and we found ourselves in the middle of a Farmer's Market.  

I followed this woman around because I was drawn to her hat & her dress, her whole style intrigued me. But I could only see her from behind. At last, she walked around this vendors booth and stopped, turning to face me. 

As she engaged the vendor in a Q&A session, I was able to capture her look of confusion as she seemed to ask for directions from the colorfully dressed man.
What do you supposed they were talking about? She approached this vendor very slowly, as though she was afraid to ask any questions, but when she finally did, he became very attentive to her.

I think Deanna thought Sarah & I got lost, but the 2 of us finally emerged from the depths of the market & we continued on our journey until we  emerged onto Michigan Ave and were greeted by the Lion in front of Art Institute of Chicago.

I failed to capture the Lion, because I was enamored with this guitar player~~
 Can you read his sign?

"At least its not January."

A street performer with a sense of humor, I love it!

So we continued to push on down the street, moving along with all the others like a school of fish. I believe everyone had the same destination in mind as we did.

The Bean.

But just prior to reaching the infamous Millennium Park, we side stepped into a smaller park. At 1st we thought it was a short cut and a way to avoid the crowd, but we fell into another world all its own.

There were these gentlemen, possibly waiting for their wives who were somewhere shopping or just sitting together to shoot the breeze for the morning as they do on a regular basis?
But the generation gap is so apparent in this set of 4. The 2 younger people appear to be "bookends", absorbed in their technology and unable/unwilling to communicate with those of an older generation.

While the gentleman on the left actually appears to be posing for me as I take their photo. 

On the other side of the park was a group of children led by 3 women. They had chosen the steps to eat their lunch. A little in the sun, a little in the shade. As they wrapped up their lunches, their teacher began giving directions for them.

As is usual, their is always one who is lost in their own little world, not paying attention to what they should be, but to what their imagination wants them too.
I identify greatly with the little girl on the left - I tend to drift off into my own world as well quite frequently.

We decided before heading any further, we would take full advantage of the food trucks parked just on the other side of the park.
The Taco Truck!

This vendor was so sweet and so attentive to his patrons. His food was amazingly delicious and it filled each of our bellies to their fullest!

After finishing our lunches, we headed in the direction of The Bean.

But, you'll have to come back tomorrow for the rest of our Chicago adventure, because now that I've looked at all these food trucks and talked about them, my tummy is getting quite rumbly.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Well good morning all!

Here I am - back to share some special time with you over a cup of coffee, or tea, or juice or whatever helps you jump start your morning.

I realize it's late, but hey, I'm milking my summer vacation time as much as possible as the time is going to be gone all to soon before I need to head back into the classroom.

Although, the temps are very cool this morning & I'm wondering how many more summer days we have left? It's 59F out - burr. That's pretty chilly for an August morning!

We had a splendid weekend, with a lot packed in. Friday night we just hung out at the 'ol homestead, making some hot dogs & home fries on the grill & kicking back on the patio to enjoy our little feast.

We didn't do much else, just enjoyed our night of leisure actually. 

Saturday Dream Boy took off in the morning for his coffee ride and I worked on a editing some of a recent senior session. My calendar is booked into September  and I love it! 

I had a baby shower to attend on Saturday afternoon for D1's sister. She is having a boy and is due on Dream Boy's birthday in November! What fun to see all the little baby boy stuff again. I had to leave early though, as I had another senior session scheduled.

This one was in a new location for me, so I picked up Dream Boy, who was tagging along, and we headed to the other side of the county! The girl I was shooting runs cross country for her high school and she knew exactly where we wanted her pictures taken at - at the land preserve where she trains! 

We walked through the woods & walked some more, but she brought us to a wide open, huge expanse of a field, complete with waving grass, 2 loan trees smack dab in the middle and clusters of wild flowers all around!


She climbed a tree in her dress and high top Converse sneakers, she changed in the make shift dressing room of a blanket that her mom & sister held up, she wore a beautiful dress of ivory lace and then she changed again into her cross country jersey & shorts. 

We really had a lot of fun & once she started to loosen up, she had some clever ideas for poses. We spent about 2 hours in this glorious location before she felt we had captured all that she wanted. 

Dream Boy acted as my "grip", not quite my "key grip", as he hadn't scouted out the location prior to the shoot. But he carried my extra equipment, held my reflector when needed and kept the mom & sister of my subject occupied while I did my work.

After completing our session, we headed over to visit my MIL. We had wanted to take her to dinner, but she declined, as it is very hard for her to sit for long periods of time. So we had a nice visit out on the patio where her 2 pups could romp in the yard & she could get up & move around as needed.

Leaving her house, we headed into town & ended up at the Old Dog Tavern for dinner - where we feasted on a yummy spinach salad, a small pizza & beverages. Beer for him, wine for me.

We headed home after that and snuggled in for a few hours of a Law & Order marathon. It seems no matter how often we watch these reruns, we never see the same one twice!

Sunday morning we headed off to church and enjoyed a morning of fellowship & worship with our friends. Love our little church - it's small in comparison to so many, but it's BIG on the love, laughter & friendship that fills it.

We got home from church in time for Dream Boy to take another ride and I worked on some more editing - I had 3 senior shoots in the last week. He got home just as it started to rain! He took a shower, grabbed some lunch & then we headed back into town for the last of the free summer concerts.

It ended up being held inside the Methodist Church by the park as it was a downpour at the time of the concert. The church was standing room only & the concert was amazing! 

We listened to the Navy Cruiser Band from Washington D.C. Yes, this is a band of 6 musicians & 2 singers from the U.S. Navy & they were phenomenal! I don't even know how long the concert went for, but I enjoyed every minute of it. They played Chicago, sang Cindy Lauper, performed James Brown and many more, but ended the show with of course, patriotic songs from al branches of our armed services.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear them - go. You will not regret it!

After the concert was over, we went out for pizza (yes, again), but I love pizza & we were also in the company of friends from church which makes it even more fun! The sun had come out, but the temps had started to drop, hence the reason it is so chilly this morning.

So there was my weekend. Another one for the books, but another one filled with some amazing memories.

Well - I must be off. I have 3 senior sessions to edit this week and a video to get done for school before Wednesday, as freshman orientation is that night!

Thank you for spending some time with me this morning. Be sure to check back as I'll continue my Chicago trip & update you as well, on my 365 journey!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Photography Journey to Chicago

Last week I had the pleasure to start my summer break in Chicago, staying with a fellow blogger/photography buddy. We were joined by another of our peers for the week as well.

I set out on Sunday afternoon and spent the next 4 days in the company of 2 delightful ladies. On Monday we were joined by a 3rd blogging/photography friend for the day as we explored the little town of Geneva.
Why yes, I have a selfie stick and I use it. And on this particular day, even though you can't see the beautiful geraniums in front of us & I made everyone squeeze behind them & stand in the bushes for this shot, it was the one & only shot of the 4 of us together that was taken all day!

We roamed the streets of this quaint little town with a very knowledgeable tour guide from Texas!  She is actually the beautiful soul on the far left in this shot. She joined us for the day as she was in Chicago visiting with her mom for 2 weeks. She grew up in this area & knew a lot about the town.
The spice shop - a place that fills your senses with amazing aromas! We wandered around inside taking pictures and then headed out, but were all instantly drawn to the reflections in the windows.

From the outside, as shown above, to shooting from the inside one of my friends as she shot the reflection from the outside. 
While inside taking this shot, one of the shop clerks asked me why we were all taking pictures of their "stuff"? She asked if we were in a class & I explained that we were all fellow bloggers and photographers who had met online & were meeting up from around the country for a day together of exploring.

She was amazed that we had met up online and were actually carrying our friendship beyond the confines of a computer & meeting in real life. The reality of how small our world is became very evident to her at that moment!
This my friends, is a tree made out of chocolate. 

The All Chocolate Kitchen is found in the heart of Geneva.

It is amazing & smells heavenly & your love of chocolate can be fulfilled in many different & enticing ways here. We all enjoyed a bit of gelato while comparing cameras & techniques.

The tree?  Yes, it is made of chocolate and the fairies found around it are all made out of spun sugar.

We ended out day with this special treat, which I feel, was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Next up - a day in downtown Chicago...........

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning everyone!

Did you have a nice weekend?  Mine was very laid back - I mean v.e.r.y. laid back.

Just what I needed.

Friday night Dream Boy & I headed into the local organic grocery store, Earth Fare, and picked up our dinner.  They have a scrumptious deli & he is love with their sushi. 

Not me. Sushi? 

Please. I'd almost rather eat liver, but since that will never happen, then the sushi won't either.

We headed back home & settled in to watch a movie together & just veg. And that is exactly what we did. 

Saturday found Dream Boy off on his bike ride in the morning & me in my studio finishing up with editing on a senior shoot.  I completed it & then finalized my order. I started using WHCC about a month ago & I don't know why I've waited so long to use them?  (no, I'm not being compensated by them for this little plug)

There service has been amazing, their customer service is spot on, emailing me back almost immediately if I have any questions and the packaging is the best. Everything is sent in a box - NO envelopes, so nothing can get curled up & crammed into my mailbox. 

But personally - I look forward to the sucker in each order. It's a nice little touch!

Okay, where was I?

Oh yea - Saturday.  I had another senior session in the afternoon. It was very hot, but thankfully the humidity levels were not too high. 

I am booked into September with senior sessions every weekend & a few in between. 

I like it.
The glare off the side walk behind me is very evident in his glasses, but his smile is so big here and we were just warming up!

After my shoot I headed home & Dream Boy had worked a little more on Daisy, cleaning her up & oiling the chain. My goodness, he has almost all the rust on her completely gone & she shines so bright!

We jumped on her and headed down to the Nina's for fajita night. We dined outside on the patio and filled our bellies to their max.  Afterward, we jumped back on Daisy & rather than heading to the ice cream shop, we went for a ride around town on our bicycle built for two!

So fun.

Sunday morning, as we do every week, we headed off to church for refueling of our hearts & minds. 

I love our little church. It doesn't matter what age you are, what color you are, or what your background may be, our church truly envelopes everyone for who they are at that very moment. It amazes me every week to watch the interaction & the love that is felt within our congregation.

After church we headed home & even though it was hotter than hot, Dream Boy set off on another bike ride - so I jumped (rather wiggled & squeezed) into my swim suit & headed over to the dock without my Wonder Dog this time.

It has been over 2 weeks since I've been able to get out & kayak - so I left her home & that is exactly what I did. I paddled 3.5 miles around the lake, this time heading back through the channel to explore the new bridge for the island livers. It is fantastic! It is high enough that I can paddle right under it & not have to duck or be freaked out by what may be hidden in the rafters above me!

The lake was pretty rough in spots, as it was windy & there were a lot of boats out. I had to really pay attention to the water & the way the waves were rolling, so I didn't end up rolling over! But it was so nice to get back out in my little green monster.
What perfect Sunday afternoon.

I also completed 2 more days of my 365 self examination journey.  Following the August Break 2015 prompts to help give me direction, I'm finding it easier to have these prompts ahead of time.
Day 13 - Fire

I had this vision in my mind since I had read the prompt earlier in the week. So I spent a lot of time on Saturday night studying up on how to shoot sparkler writing.

I shot this very late Saturday night - but counted it as my Sunday shot because I wasn't sure about the weather for late Sunday night.

As I work through this 365, I want to broaden my knowledge of photography and of my camera. With these shots, I knew I had to have my shutter speed set for a looooooooong exposure & I needed my trip-pod.  But I learned that in order for me to be visible in the shot, I also needed to have my flash set at rear curtain sync mode.

What the wha??? 

I love my camera, but know that I am still limited with some of its abilities, but until I can afford to upgrade once more - I need to work it out with what I have. So I pulled out the manual - yes, Deanna, the manual - and I read. I read tutorials online specific to my camera model and then I started working through the camera prompts to find what I needed.

I set up in the hallway & shut all the bedroom & bathroom doors. I stood at the end of the hallway with a flashlight & practiced & practiced & practiced, learning to count out the time that my shutter speed was set at so that I knew just how long I needed to continue my writing.

It finally became dark enough and I headed outside. Dream Boy had gone out earlier & fogged the backyard as the mosquitoes were awful! So thankful for that.

I used my remote & set myself up in the shot. Dream Boy stood by the camera to watch the shot in the screen as well. 

It only took me 3 shots to get what I was working towards! 

Yes - a lot more practice is needed, writing backwards with a sparker is not easy. But I have a lot of sparklers left over from the wedding to play with for a while!

So - anyways...........I'm so glad you stopped by today! I am still on summer vacation and enjoying myself to the fullest. 

Today is my big sister & brother-in-law's 36th wedding anniversary - so I want to wish them the greatest day ever and pray that they are continued to be blessed with many more years of love, good health & happiness together!

Have a wonderful Monday everyone - thanks for stopping by & spending a little time with me!

Friday, August 14, 2015

365 Journey of Self Examination

It's Friday & I am chillin in my jammies still at 11am. 

After a trip to Chicago this past week to meet up with some photography/blogging friends, this girl is taking it easy today. I have plenty to do, a session to finish editing & order, gear to check for a senior shoot tomorrow & mailings to put together.

So, I'm taking it easy today and it truly helps that so far it's an overcast kind of day & I'm not distracted by the sun shining through the windows, calling me to come outside & play.

My journey has continued through this week, and truly it was fun working on daily prompts, as my photog buddies were working theirs as well.

I got home yesterday around 1pm, after stopping to have lunch with my Dream Boy! I picked him up at work right at noon and we headed to the Root Beer Stand to sit in the car & dine on chili cheese dogs & root beer. We had a great time catching up on each other's weeks and just being together. 

I missed him so.

As I walked in the door, their was my beautiful girl, Libbi, awaiting me. She came to me, tail wagging and crying because she was so happy to see me. I sat myself down on the step and she immediately sat right in front of me & nudged me with her head for a hug, and then another and yet another hug, as she kept nudging me. Then she promptly sat down on me and waited for her belly rub.

What a wonderful welcome home! I quickly unpacked and then took her to the dock for an hour or so to unwind.

Now - back to my 365 journey.....
Day 8 - breakfast. 

A beautiful morning on the porch with my 2 friends, eating a bowl of blueberries & granola, along with a cup of coffee in a sweet green polka dotted mug, all while planning out our days adventure.

We picked up another blogger/photographer from Texas, Kim, who was in town visiting her mom. 

So fun to meet up in real life and get to know each other, but yet it seems as though we've known each other forever through our blogs, Instagram and Facebook.
Day 9 - Edge. 

We took the train into the city (Chicago) today and wandered along Adams Street, heading for The Bean & then on to an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River.

After leaving The Bean, which by the way - it was SO hot standing around this giant reflective orb that we didn't stay too long - I found an edge to stop & ponder what we had discovered that day already & what further adventures awaited us!
Day 10 - yellow.  

On Wednesday, we ventured into a famous Chicago cemetery called Graceland. While I had never heard of it, both Deanna & Sarah had & were anxious to explore the grounds.

This cemetery is the final resting place of many prominent people who contributed to the history of Chicago. 

Here I am resting along side the angel who is guarding over the final resting place of William Kimball & his wife, as the yellow rays of sunshine reflect upon my face.

William Kimball was from Maine originally & made his fortune in real estate. Before the panic of 1857, he moved to Chicago & acquired a music store.  In 1879 he began building pianos & organs & by 1882, because he was so successful, he went into full-scale production.  Kimball Ave in Chicago is named for him.

There - now you've had your history lesson for today.

You're welcome.
Day 11 - Last Year.  

After arriving home from my Chicago adventure & before heading to the dock with the Wonder Dog, I pulled out a photo I took almost a year to the day & shot this photo. 

Last year, I managed to capture the Wonder Dog in her favorite position, rolling & groaning & reminding me once again - don't forget to play!
Day 12 - favorite smell.

Next to the smell of the ocean & suntan lotion, this has to be one of my all time favorite smells. 

Fresh from the garden cantaloupe and cucumbers. Ahhh, it is such a soft, sweet scent, yet the cucumber adds a fresh little kick into this combination of aromas.

These are scents that definitely say summer to me.

So for now, I am on to the next item on my list - finalizing a senior shoot & getting it ordered by the end of this afternoon.

I can do this!

Monday, August 10, 2015

My Journey Continues with Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning everyone!

I am writing for the cutest blue bedroom in Naperville, IL today! I have come here to spend a few days with some fellow bloggers/photographers.

So I'm sharing coffee today with the ladies. Actually, Sarah's having tea, but we won't hold that against her. 

What a fun weekend it was! Friday night Dream Boy got home from work, did a quick change & we loaded up Daisy - our bicycle built for 2 - and headed into town. We parked in our church parking lot & then rode Daisy into downtown for the Art Hop!

We rode down the main street and then headed over to our favorite little Italian restaurant and had pizza while dining on the outdoor patio. It was so much fun - next time we'll be able to ride further, we just weren't sure how well Daisy would do on our 1st ride.

Saturday was a hang around the house getting things done kind of day. I spent most of it finalizing a senior packet and trying to finish a senior shoot as well.  Didn't quite get it done - but almost there!

Sunday we headed to church in the morning and enjoyed a wonderful service. One of the littles that Dream Boy was in charge of during vacation Bible school a few weeks ago was in church & he came running right over to us, just bursting with excitement to see Mr. Steve! It was so sweet to see him again.

After church we headed home where I packed up my bags & then my car before heading to Chicago to spend a few days with some fellow bloggers/photographers. 

LtWD was hoping I was taking her with me ~~~ what do you think?
But I didn't - she stayed home with her poppa.

My daily journey of a 365 continues.....
Day 5 - 5 facts about me.  I wanted you to see this shot as I see in real life. Without my glasses (fact #1), the world is pretty blurry to me from afar.  Fact #2 - I utilize my computer a lot. Fact #3 - a camera is never far from my hands. Fact #4 - I love the beach, as the pillow beside me states "beach life is best" and Fact #5 - my life is centered around Christ.
Day 6 - Smooth.  I love coffee in the morning, especially SmOoTh, black & strong! The only way to drink it in my book!
Day 7 - Earth.  On Sunday, I found myself in the car heading off to explore another part of "Mother Earth" with a few friends, camera's in hand and ready to make some new memories.

So today - we are doing just that.  Heading off to Geneva, IL to explore. We will be picking up a 4th fellow blogger/photographer who is here from Texas visiting her parents. It will be my 1st time meeting Kim and I can't wait!

This world of blogging has made Mother Earth seem that much smaller!

Have a great day everyone! 

Friday, August 7, 2015


I began a journey this week. I've walked this path before, but have never succeeded in completing it.

But I feel a new sense of accomplishment with this one. I feel that I will make it to the end.  

Will it be easy? No. It will force me to think outside of the box, quite often I'm afraid. But that is also a part of the journey I am looking forward too. To push myself to learn more about my photography and myself as I travel this path.

It is a 365 project. A project that is forcing me (man that sounds harsh), a project that is pushing my mind and creativity to really explore the depths of photography and where I can take it. I strive and yearn to be better at my craft and I really feel this is the time and the right path to take to work towards that.

I've decided with my 365 that I will use myself as my model. I will somehow be in the picture, rather than behind the lens. I have started out my using the August Break 2015 list from Susannah Conway to help me with prompts. I have a journal that I am keeping track of this list and other ideas that come to mind, along with journaling every day about the shot I took and what I was thinking, what I was trying to achieve and what I learned about myself and my photography that day by taking that specific shot.

So - my Instagram and Facebook pages will most likely be blowing up with these shots of moi, so please excuse the over abundance of my presence on your feed. I am truly not being vain, but instead, working harder at learning my craft and bettering my abilities with it.

Day 1 - Skin
I'm learning to be comfortable in my own skin. To step out of the box when it comes to who I am and not apologize for it.

Day 2 - Number
I'm 54. I'm learning to just be who I am and to love the life I've got and live it to the fullest.

Day 3 - Citrus
Summer days with a bit of whimsy in this shot. Treating myself to a bit of a facial with some lime slices (learn to wipe your eyes before opening them) and laughing out loud at this crazy shoot, even though I am home alone with only my Wonder Dog as an audience.

Day 4 - Notebook
This is a small portion of my notebook collection. You might say that I am a bit of a hoarder and have a problem. But believe you me - everyone of these is filled with thoughts, ideas, daily reflections, art journaling, doodling and much more. 

Someday my ancestors will look upon these and understand where their "crazy" came from.  LOL!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Coffee Time

Good morning!

Whoa - what did you think of that storm last night???

Insane!  This baby stretched across the whole state of Michigan, west to east & started at the north end & went the full length of the state! Some of the pics I saw online were amazing of the shelf clouds.

It started to blow into our area a little after 10pm. Dream Boy was outside with LtWD & came to the door & said I needed to come out & watch the lightening show.  

Whoa! We are surrounded by trees. So to watch the lightening through them was amazing. 

But then, the winds really began to pick up.  I mean, lets bend the trees to the ground kind of winds. I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore. We watched the tops of the trees twisting and bending & quickly headed inside, but only after we brought in the flag, the umbrella & LtWD's pool.  

Fortunately we never lost power, but some 90,000 people have. I'm grateful as this is our last week of summer school and the kids can't afford anytime off, whatsoever!

Okay - so the rest of my weekend? It was beautiful really. 

Friday afternoon I was eating lunch Al Fresco with the pooch and S#1 texts me & says, "wanna join us on the boat?" 

Well - what mama is gonna say no to her son & daughter-in-law? Especially with an invitation like that?
Even though there were white caps on the lake at times, it was a gorgeous afternoon and I really enjoyed my time with the kids.

Saturday dawned to clear blue skies and nothing but sunshine.

I started my morning at my cousin's funeral. Breaks my heart. She was only 46 and has 20 years old twin sons and a 15 year old daughter. She was diagnosed with breast cancer over 10 years ago and it has been a very long battle for her. But the service was beautiful and a wonderful tribute to who Crisi was.

I arrived home shortly after lunch and sat outside with the Wonder Dog to just decompress & wait for Dream Boy. He was at a golf outing for some family friends who lost their son 4 years ago in a car accident where a drunk driver hit their son's car from behind going almost 100 mph. Both of our boys played soccer with him either in travel or college and S2 roomed with JB's younger brother in college. The golf outing was to raise funds for the scholarship established in JB's name at Hope College.

Well, he soon arrived home and we talked for a while before working on some projects we both had going. His was to changed the inner tubes & tires on the tandem bike we recently acquired. Mine was working on editing a senior shoot. 

Around 5:30 or so we headed out for some dinner. We headed to the north end of the lake that is 5 minutes from our house and had pizza & beer at a local little restaurant across the street from the lake. We sat out on the patio & had one of the best pizza's we've had in a long time! Maybe it was the atmosphere, the lake, the patio, the summer night, I don't know - but it was just so relaxing.
And being that it was the 1st of August, I had to get a shot of us with our feet planted on said patio for my IG muse, #feetfirst2015.  

You should join me! If you're on InstaGram - on the 1st day of every month, take a shot or two or three or however many you want to show where your feet are planted on that day. Tag it #feetfirst2015 and see all the other's who have joined in as well! 

I love going back through the pics and seeing where I've been each month that year - especially when I look at my shot in February with the snow swirling around my UGGs and to this shot of my bare piggies in my Sanuks Yoga slings.

Sunday we went to church and then out for breakfast/lunch. It was so hot! The whole day was like that - it actually hit 92 degrees. We spent most of our day just putzing around the house, well, DB did. I took a nap. We were even able to sit out on the patio and enjoy it for quite a while. Since the winds were so strong the mosquitoes weren't able to land and stick. It was heavenly spending time reading outside!

So today - back to summer school, but for the last week this year!

Sunday I will be heading to Chicago-land to meet up with 2 blogging buddies for a few days, so I'm not sure if I'll be here for coffee next Monday!?!??  I will do my best to, but if not, I'll be back with stories of my adventures in Chi-town.

Have a wonderful week everyone!