Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning everyone!

Wow - what a great weekend here in the Mitten!  

How often do you get to go to the beach, let alone play in Lake Michigan, at the end of September?

Welp - that's exactly what Dream Boy & I did this weekend.  

Sunday was our 35th wedding anniversary and it has been since we have gone away alone. We go on vacations, but it's to Seattle to see our kids, and we've gone to Florida, but it's been with friends. 

So I decided mid week that we were escaping together, all alone, and I booked the reservations and surprised him on Thursday night that we were heading out right after work on Friday.
There were plenty of people along the shoreline of Ludington State Park and every one was taking full advantage of this final gift of summer. 
Those blue skies and plenty of sunshine was just what we needed to relax and unwind. Even though the flies were driving us nuts, we managed to still have a beautiful day, walking the shoreline & playing in the surf.

We drove up to Ludington after work on Friday and on Saturday morning, we got up and rode our bikes downtown, which was just a few block away, and had breakfast.  Then we set off to explore some of the local sites.
This boat is retired, but it's brother, The Badger, is still in working order.  This is a car ferry that transports vehicles & their owners across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. I took this ferry, or one like it, across the lake with my mom, dad, grandma, grandpa & big sister once upon a time. 

I remember that it was a cold, rainy, dreary day & we were bored to tears in a very short time once the excitement of the trip wore off. 

We took off on our bikes and headed back to the motel to lock them up and then walked the quick 1/2 block over to the beach. We hung out on the pier for a bit, deciding what we were going to do the rest of the day.
It didn't take us long to head back, change & pack up & head out to the state park and stake our claim for the day.

After a gorgeous afternoon we drove back to the the motel and cleaned up - jumping back on our bikes and heading downtown to a local brew pub for a beer and an appetizer. 

We rode around the marina before dropping our bikes back off & grabbing my camera gear to head down to the pier to watch The Badger come back in & the sun set.

The sunsets in Michigan are amazing. 
And this seagull just HAD to be in the picture, it flew through my shot on more than one occasion.

But still, that sunset? 


So on Sunday we slept in and then drove home on the back roads, eating breakfast at a mom & pop place, finding the biggest cinnamon roll I've ever seen & bringing it back for D1, as she LOVES cinnamon rolls.

We stopped at an apple orchard & picked up a couple small bags of apples before heading home. We actually ended up at a small orchard close to home to pick our own apples. 

I love red & golden delicious right off the tree, the only time of year that I eat them. They have the best *snap* to them and the sweetest flavor when they are fresh from the tree.

We then picked some Melrose apples, which we were told were the biggest of all apples.

Crazy, right?

We got home in time to fix a wonderful little celebratory dinner, before snuggling in to catch up on Scandal.

Did I mention what an amazing weekend I had?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Oh what a weekend!  SO much fun packed into it.

Good morning everyone!

So, Friday - storms were forecasted for the night, so Dream Boy picked up dinner & brought it home after work.  We enjoyed a rotisserie chicken, potato salad, some fine wine & a relaxed time together before settling in for the night.

I got hooked on Scandal this summer & he is now hooked as well, so we snuggled in for a marathon while the storms brewed outside.

Saturday morning was quite cool & a bit overcast, so we had a lazy morning at home. Dream Boy was working on the cars & I was working on editing. About mid morning we both heard a loud crack & a bang.
Yep - this happened.

These trees are up on our top lot & have been dead for a few years. We've been trying to get them cut down, but it hasn't happened. Well, the wind took care of this one on Saturday morning.  Thankfully it hit the roof on our porch & only put a few minor holes in it. Dream Boy & I climbed up there and spent an hour or so cleaning it up & patching the roof. He also got part the part of the tree on the ground cut up with the chain saw, the bigger piece will get done this week.

We headed out later in the afternoon to meet up with friends and have a great night filled with tons of laughter & lots of memories.

They all made fun of my selfie stick....
(photo credit to JH)

But yet they all loved to play along when I got it out - see those clowns in the background?
Yeah - the 2 in the navy, not the 2 in the front! We were posing, they were making fun of the selfie stick coming out, yet when I looked at the pic later they sure jumped right into the fun!  Hahahahahahah!

It was a beautiful night downtown & we enjoyed our time to dine out on the patio - as did many others!

Sunday dawned very cold, only 43 degrees, but it was sunny & by the time we got out of church it had warmed up greatly.  Dream Boy & I headed to our favorite little cafe for breakfast before heading home, where he promptly jumped on his bike & I promptly jumped on the couch for a nap!

I had a photo shoot at 6:15 pm last night, right before & during the golden hour. It was again, a beautiful night & the senior was so sweet & beautiful.
It was the perfect night for a photo shoot. She so wanted summery dresses & I think she got one of the last great night to get them done, I think the evenings are going to be cooling down much quicker from here on out.

I got home & Dream Boy had dinner & a glass of wine waiting for me. How sweet is that? Love him - LOVE.HIM.

So here are again on another Monday - heading back into the work week. I have a crazy, busy schedule the next few weeks as I'm taking all the church directory pictures and have senior sessions booked until the end of October.

But I love it & am so grateful for the life God continues to bless me with. 

Have a beautiful day everyone & an even better week!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Self Examination Journey

I have stayed on task and have continued with my 365 Self Examination Journey.

With school starting back up, some days it has been a real challenge. Especially this week. Before school started, I did some research and continued my list of prompts to help get me through the month of September, but the last few days I strayed a bit.

I even entertained straying away from the self portrait format, but quickly pushed that idea out of my head. 

I know that in my photography I love taking photos of people - not still life. I continue to remind myself that I need to be comfortable on both sides of the camera to help my clients be comfortable too. I also remind myself that I want to stretch my techniques and abilities and since I'm always around - who better than myself to practice these on?
Top row (l-r): 
Day 30 - reflection. On a day of kayaking with a friend at her lake, I captured my reflection in the water off the end of the dock.
Day 31 - silhouette. Summer is winding down, and with the silhouette of my high school in the background, my Wonder Dog & I share a sunset.
Day 32 - soak.  Sitting in the backyard, trying to soak up the last of my summer break moments.

Middle row ~~~
Day 33 - air: Catching air as best I can while I work on my shutter speed techniques.
Day 34 - light & dark: Is anything ever clear focus in the dark?  With the only light being that from the basement window, I found myself in between the light of day & the dark of the depths.
Day 35 - pattern: shooting at ground level to capture the woven pattern in the porch rug.

Bottom row ~~~
Day 36 - labor: Today is Labor Day in the U.S.  I went into my classroom for about an hour to labor & put some finishing touches on my room in preparation for the 1st day of school tomorrow.
Top left:
Day 37 - indistinct:  Ever take a photo out of focus on purpose? I have only a couple of times & I love the soft, mysterious glow while still being able to capture the bond between a girl & her Wonder Dog.

Bottom left:
Day 38 - triumph: I heard the triumph in the squeals of the kiddo's as they played in the bounce house behind me at the church carnival.

Top right:
Day 39 - golden: I've spent a lot of time in my studio/office lately. So this shot is taken in the golden glow of my track lighting.

Middle right:
Day 40 - outstanding: I feel pretty outstanding that I've kept at my 365 project. I don't believe I've EVER made it this far before! 

Bottom right :
Day 41 - Sunkissed: The days are becoming shorter moment by moment. The golden hour is fast approaching, so my Wonder Dog & I spent a moment in the back yard, bare foot & enjoying the feeling of being sun kissed by the last rays of the day.

Wow - 41 days and I continue to move forward. I've got a crazy, busy schedule over the next few weeks as I'm taking our church directory photos and I've got several senior sessions booked into the middle of October, with a few more to still set up!

I'm not complaining at all - I'm actually loving it and I feel that taking the time each day to think about my 365 shot and working on new and old techniques is only helping me perfect my love of photography.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning!

Well I survived my 1st week of school.

It went so much more smoothly than it seems to have in the past few years & I am so grateful for that. My class sizes are fairly small, and that makes it much easier for me to handle everyone on a more personal basis.

Love it!

We kicked off a program this year that has been in the works behind the scenes for the last 1 1/2. It's a positive behavior incentive program - teachers/staff give student's "tickets" when they see them doing something positive for someone else or even for themselves. 

On Friday we had an assembly at the end of the day to formally introduce this program to the kids. 

And it was awesome. They were so responsive to it & it was a great way to end the start of our 1st week back.

They even posed for an "all school" photo:
The staff is in the front in the black t-shirts & the whole student body squeezed in for this shot. We plan to blow this up & display it prominently in the school.

We've had some pretty rough, negative years recently and it does this mama's heart good to finally see some spunk, fire and all around spirit in our building! I'm glad to see it coming back.

So ending off my day at school with this great assembly, I went home to wait for my Dream Boy to get home from work. 

When he arrived home, we loaded Daisy up and drove to a park & jumped on the trail with Daisy to ride into downtown for Art Hop. We rode about 4 1/4 miles, following the bike trail on in. Our 1st stop was at the MRC studio where I picked up a new sign.
It's perfect, isn't it??  I saw this & immediately fell in love with it because of what it says AND because it's painted by one of my favorite artists there, Jessica. She painted the pooping snowman I bought a couple years ago.  

Dream Boy & I wandered around town for a while, stopping at the local coffee house & grabbing coffee & a scrumptious little snack to tide us over until dinner later on. 

It was a beautiful night, not to hot or to cold - it was perfect! We jumped back on Daisy and headed back to the truck before dark. 

We ended up stopping at the local grocery store & picking up something to fix at home for dinner, where we snuggled in & watched a movie. 

Saturday dawned a little on the cloudy side and cold. I mean, real cold. In the low 50s cold. 

I'm so not ready for this yet.

Dream Boy went off for his Saturday morning coffee ride & I slept in. Just what I needed after a week back at school & trying to get into the swing of the early mornings again.

When he got home we headed into church for our yearly back to school carnival.  It was supposed to be 2 weeks earlier, but we had a very rainy day, so they pushed it back to the 12th. 

Dream Boy was in charge of the bounce house for a while and then took over the bucket/ball game. Remember Bozo the Clown & the game he played where the little kiddo had to toss the ball into the bucket to win a prize? Well, that's the game Dream Boy ran. He made sure everyone walked away with a prize. 

Sunday morning dawned even colder than Saturday - it was in the upper 40s!  Crazy!

Dream Boy took off early for an organized ride in a local town through the vineyards and I headed off a little later for church.  

I did a little shopping after church for an anniversary gift for S&D1 and a birthday present for me!

I got home early and changed into some comfy clothes before grabbing my book & heading out to the patio. LtWD joined me & I stretched out on the lounge chair, promptly falling asleep! I think I'm fighting my yearly back to school cold, it just came on a little earlier than it normally does.  

Dream Boy came home soon & settled into the other lounge chair & took a nice Sunday afternoon snooze as well.

We spent the rest of the day at home, I'm trying to finish up my current senior sessions before I start church directory pictures next weekend. I'm booked into the middle of October between church and seniors and I'm loving it!

So today - it's back to school and continuing to get used to the "new" normal again. 

It's also a day of celebration as S&D1 are celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary! I can't believe that 2 years have already passed since that awesome day.

Happy anniversary Chad & Melissa!  We love you both & are so proud of the marriage you 2 are building together. May God bless you with many more years!

Thanks for stopping by - come back again!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


I'm still here! I just took a little break to enjoy the last weekend of summer before heading back to school yesterday.

Even Dream Boy asked me Monday night where my Monday Morning Coffee was? I told him I'm enjoying the holiday - "labor" free. 

Except, I went to the store to pick up a few things for my classroom & went into school for about an hour to put a few finishing touches on my room before the kids came on Tuesday morning.

It was a wonderful weekend of doing lots & lots of nothing but what we wanted. 

Honestly. We hung around the 'ol homestead pretty much all weekend, not doing a whole lot.

Friday I had a senior shoot in the late afternoon and when I got home, Dream Boy & I just spent a quiet evening at home.

Saturday was a steamy one & I worked inside most of the day finishing up editing on a few senior shoots, placing orders for their proof books, ordering studio props for our upcoming church directory shoot and reading.

Dream Boy & I headed out for a hot date night on Saturday night ----- we went grocery shopping!

I know - I know, we really know how to rock out a date night, right?

But with heading back to school this week, I needed lunch stuff and we were heading out on the lake with S&D1 on Sunday and having a cook out on Monday with friends, so we needed to stock up.

We got home & fixed dinner and settled in to watch Scandal. I got hooked on it earlier this summer & Dream Boy finally started watching it with me, so we're catching up on it before the new season starts.

Sunday was even steamier than Saturday, so after church we loaded up the cooler with lunch & drinks & met the kiddo's at their boat. We spend a wonderful afternoon on the lake, just lazing around & soaking up the sun - dipping into the lake often.

Monday was a holiday here in the States, so there was no work for us. Dream Boy headed off on a bike ride in the morning while I ran a few errands, went into school & put up my finishing touches & then came home.

Later in the afternoon we packed up the picnic basket again & headed over to our friends for a Low Country Boil. 

Oh what a yummy dinner. A combination of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn on the cob & an extra special addition this time - crab legs! We had 20 people and no one left hungry, that's for sure. I love dinners like this - potluck, where everyone brings something to share & its amazing that no one dish is duplicated. 

I brought a gallon jug of white sangria and 2 loaves of Poppy seed cheesy bread and pretty much came home empty handed. I may have had a glass or 2 of sangria left over, but I kind of took care of that last night.  :)

So Tuesday was back to school! 

I woke up with the chickens to make sure I had enough time to not only take my Self Examination Photo for my 365 project, but also my traditionally back to school photo.  Ha - 2 birds with one stone!

Yes, since my boys are grown & gone, I have continued the tradition of back to school photos by taking my own.  I am, after all, going back to school for the year - right?
My day went pretty good - extremely busy though! So much to do to get the kids started and on their way and so much to cram into a 1/2 day of school.

So today, our first full day, is gonna be jam packed with a to do list that will probably grow as the day goes on.

But I'm not complaining. I really wasn't ready to go back, but I do admit that I really enjoyed seeing the kids again & the enthusiasm that they have to be back & get into a routine again was a little catching.

Just a little......

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

365 Journey

I have gotten a little behind in posting my 365 journey. At least on my blog. I've done real well with keeping up with it on my Instagram though.

But now with school starting up in a week, I will need to be more selective of my time & how I use it, so I'm not sure that I'll post daily on IG either, but I will continue with weekly updates on my blog of my adventure in this journey of my life for one year.

I love having the daily prompts and now that #AugustBreak2015 is complete, I am finding myself other sources of inspiration for prompts. I love having a list of prompts in advance as it is helping me think through my shots. I have started a private board for myself on Pinterest to remind myself of ideas and techniques I want to strive for and try & master.

I am determined to work on this self portrait journey as I have found that people are what I love to shoot. I get bored with landscapes and still life. 

Don't get me wrong - I love the shots that others take of these meme's, but I can't find the joy in it. I am drawn to people, and that is why I am using myself as a model. 

I don't have to schedule a time with someone, I can work this shot on my time. It is also a way to push myself & experiment with what I can do with my photography before I try it on others. It's also a way to become comfortable with me. 

We are our own worst critics when it comes to ourselves, am I right? I love where I am in life and who I share it with, but looking at myself in photos is the one thing I struggle with. I have come to realize that if I am not comfortable in front of the camera, how can I completely convince someone else who is also "camera shy" to relax and feel good about themselves?

So.......on with this journey.
Starting from the top left and moving right.

Day 15.  Prompt::Reading. I can be a real book worm and it can drive Dream Boy nuts sometimes when I get absorbed in a book & can't/won't put it down. As I set this shot up, I had the vision of one of my favorite childhood books, "Caps For Sale". 

Do you remember this story? Do you remember how he stacked all the caps on his head as he walked around trying to sell his caps?

Day 16.  Prompt::Look Up. Not everyone can say they have a rock wall in their backyard to climb!

Day 17.  Prompt::Sweet Delights. Between my big sister and our neighbor, our counter top has been a sweet delight of their garden harvest! Nothing better than a sweet, ripe, straight off the vine tomato in the summer.

Day 18.  Prompt::Two.  Dream Boy & I purchased "Daisy" earlier this summer. A bicycle built for two. We've had a few adventures on her & look forward to even more this fall.

Row 2 (l-r):

Day 19.  Prompt::Real Life. This is first thing in the morning, straight out of bed. No make up, no shower, no hair combing, nada-zilch-zero. This is as real as it gets people!

Day 20.  Prompt::Curves. My Wonder Dog & I snuggling up on in the curves of our favorite chaise lounge which is in my office.

Day 21.  Prompt::Water.  I am a water bug, have always been. My mom couldn't get me out of the pool, lake or sprinkler and I am still drawn to water. That's why I love my Wonder Dog so much, she is ALWAYS ready to head to the dock.

Day 22.  Prompt::In The Distance.  Reading, again with the reading. But it doesn't get better than a summer's day, sitting on the patio, with the puffy white clouds in the distance.

Row 3(l-r):

Day 23.  Prompt::Green.  The local farmer's stand has fresh veggies and flowers almost all summer long. The green stems on this bouquet are a reminder to me that summer will soon be over & these are some of the last of the beautiful blooms.

Day 24.  Prompt::Door.  Our back door straight into the kitchen. This door has welcomed many a friend, family member and holds the key to so many memories. 

Day 25.  Prompt::Favorite Recipe.  My mom's chocolate pie has always been my absolute favorite and it doesn't get any better than HER recipe written in her beautiful script.

Day 26.  Prompt::In My Bag.  We have an organic grocery store in town now with an awesome deli. One of our favorite things to do is grab dinner from there on a Friday night. Dream Boy gets sushi & I get some sort of delicious salad.
Day 27.  Prompt::Listen.  It was a rainy day that was pretty much spent inside. But at one point, I went outside to just listen to the falling rain.
Day 28.  Prompt::smile.  In my backyard there is an overwhelming abundance of these black eyed susan's. It's what I see every time I look out the kitchen/dining room window. It always makes me smile. 

Day 29.  Prompt::August Was.  In my opinion, August was way too short. But I packed a whole lot of fun into what few weeks I had off before heading back to school full time for the year. And spending my afternoon on the dock with my Wonder Dog was one of the best!

So here we are in September! 

Today is my oldest son's birthday - he's 28. How the heck did this happen?

I will continue on with my journey and working more at my craft and skills. Stepping beyond just taking a photo, but actually capturing what my eye sees as I look around this world I live in with awe and with my artistic mind.

I hope you will continue to follow along on my journey.