Sunday, February 11, 2018

Remodeling


They came to measure for our new kitchen countertops this past week.

This remodel has been five years in the making. First, we had to save the money so we could pay cash. Second, we were waiting for Scout to pass on, so that the remodeling wouldn't be hard on him. Third, we were trying to make up our minds how long we will live in this house yet, because that determined how much we would spend and how much we would remodel.


Well, the money is all there and then some. Scout crossed the rainbow bridge over a year ago. We have decided we will probably be here another five years or so. We have scaled back from a total gut job with a price tag of $50K to a much more reasonable refresh of under $15K.


The decisions have been made, the money has been paid, and the process has begun. We are keeping the oak cabinets and having them reconditioned. But I am getting quartz countertops, tile backsplash, and new laminate wide wood plank flooring.


When we first moved into this house over fourteen years ago, I thought this would finally be my dream kitchen - a farmhouse kitchen, with a large white farmhouse sink, granite countertops, natural stone backsplash, chef grade appliances, and dark wide-planked wood floors. Fourteen years ago, I enjoyed cooking much more than I do today.


It was our intention to replace these countertops much earlier than is actually happening. I have never liked them from the start. Too light, to textured, too chipped, too dated. But, once you start thinking about replacing one thing, you realize then you need to replace another thing, so we did the easiest thing - nothing. Well, nothing time is over and it is time for something, a lot of somethings.



As I waited for the countertop measurers to come, I began to really think about these countertops. How many friends and family have sat in these chairs over the years, sharing stories while meals were prepared. How many years of newspaper ink is ground into the countertop. How many meals I have produced here, always complaining about the bad lighting. The dog paws that have rested on the edge of the counter, Scout was a bad one for counter surfing. All these memories made me get out my camera and take some photographs to document our past. Our past with this kitchen, with these countertops, with these chairs. The good thing is that we have at least five years to make memories with the new kitchen.

End Notes

Glen and I finished our Whole 30 food challenge strong. And then right afterwards we went away for the weekend.




Other than wine, and trying a couple things that had been on the do not eat list for January, we found ourselves mostly sticking to our Whole 30 way of life. We are now exploring a mostly Paleo lifestyle.  The one downside of Whole 30 was the lack of a social life while on it, gatherings and fellowship involve food. We are happy to be able to dine out again, just trying to make smarter choices.


I briefly hit a brick wall with my 365 photography project this past week - Day 156. I really, really wanted to quit. I was uninspired, there was nothing to photograph anywhere. But then I thought - 155 days in, I can't quit. So I took a photograph of a dictionary page with the word light on it. It was boring, but somehow that light got in me, I picked up the camera the next day and started photographing my kitchen.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Soundtrack of Life


Coming of age signifies that moment in your life when you get to make at least some of your own decisions. Granted they are not always the best decisions, but that's part of the journey. I came of age during the 1980's. The decade of big glasses, big hair, tight leather pants, bandanas and jackets with upturned collars.

One of the decisions that I was finally be able to make was what music I wanted to listen to.  No longer did I have to listen to my mother's country western music in the car or on the home stereo. I had my own car, a rockin' four door Chevy Chevette, and I had my own portable tape player in my room.  I bought cassette tapes of some of my favorites bands that I heard on the local rock radio station, then I made mixed tapes so I could have all my favorite songs on one.


On my mixed tapes were some of the big hair bands: Def Lepard, Motley Crue, White Snake, the Scorpions and Bon Jovi.  But at heart I was a punk rocker, there were posters of Billy Idol all over my room. I would sit and listen to White Wedding and Dancing with Myself for hours.

At my own White Wedding in my coming of age season, we gave a small nod to traditional wedding songs, and were also overly kind and let my grandmother sing a special number (so glad that's on video tape, said with sarcastic voice), but we also played a ballad by a big hair Christian rock band called Styper. We may have only been eighteen and nineteen, but we knew what we wanted, and we were going to do it.


Quickly transitioning to a wife and full-time working adult, I hung up the black leather pants, and the chain belt that went with them. I threw away the hair mousse, the heavy kohl eyeliner. I folded the bandanas and tucked them into the back of a drawer. There were no longer hours on end to listen to my favorite music while doing homework. Instead it was go to work for eight hours, come home cook supper, walk the dog, do some laundry and collapse into bed exhausted. There was no music.


Music stayed nonexistent until the mid-90's and the birth of our daughter, Mallory. Like any good first time mother I wanted her to fall asleep to the sounds of lullabies. I am not blessed with a melodic voice, so I bought her a portable cassette player and found a couple wonderful lullaby tapes. The best one was by Nicolette Larson with a song on there called Mallory's song.

Parenting through the 90's brought lots of classic Disney films on VHS,  mornings of Barney the Dinosaur, and The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round stuck in my head.

When Mallory outgrew Barney, music faded away again.

Late elementary school and we found something we all liked - Christian rock. We went to concerts, big outdoors festivals, listened in the car, on the computer. Eventually though we progressed, and Christian rock did not.


College years and Mallory's own coming of age. She brought home her own sounds, influenced by others. It was new and exciting indie artists like Josh Garrels, Death Cab for Cuties, The Black Keys, and Bon Iver. It was a whole new season of music again.


Over the last six years, I have drifted in and out of songs, playing some like Adele's Hello time and time again, and then leaving them completely to obsess over podcasts or audio books. But this new filmmaking adventure has brought me back to music; new artists to explore, new music sharing sites, all so I can find that perfect soundtrack for my life.

End Notes

These are some of the artists I enjoy listening to at the moment: Lord Huron, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Lumineers, Jake Bugg. Interestingly, almost all my artists have a haunting quality to their voices.

Pandora Radio is a great way to find new to you artists.

I have been using Soundstripe for the music for my films, endless choices.

My new car came with Sirius XM radio free for the first four months. I don't plan to renew once the free period is over, but I have been loving the 1940's station, and the big band sound.

I am an eclectic mix.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Winter Walk at the Beach


I wasn't going to do the homework assignment for this week's Make Films class. Slo-mo, that wasn't my shooting style, and I saw no need for it. Part of this attitude was influenced by the fact that it is winter and so far I have only been shooting inside. There is nothing I could do inside that would need slow motion. Also, Findley and I were working on our next film, and I wanted to put my available time into that.

Tuesday afternoon I watched the class videos, and Xanthe said something that changed my mind. She said, even if it isn't your style or you don't see a need for slo-mo, make the film, watch how things move, learn from it. Point taken. Still I had no idea what I was going to shoot. Then I watched her inspiration films, and had a thought. What if I took you all on a photo walk with me. I have shown you photographs for years of the state park near my house with the big red lighthouse, what if I actually took you on a filmed walk of it.

Thursday morning was clear and still, even if it was only 29 degrees. I loaded up my gear: two dslr cameras, a tripod, a poetry book, my iPhone mount that fits in the hot shoe of my dslr, and my phone. It was fairly early and cold, so there weren't many people around, but the glassy stillness of the water was perfect.

Let's go on a walk...



Xanthe was right. I did learn a lot from filming this. I thought a lot about movement, and found delightful surprises when I was editing it all together. Little nuances that I will bring into future films.

This entire film was shot on my new iPhone 8 Plus. I have been talking about upgrading for the last year. In the last couple of weeks I have been doing lots of research, mostly comparing which would be the best to use in film making. The decision was between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. Yes, there is a price difference between the two, but I also budget for a new phone every two years, and it has been three years since my last phone. What it ultimately came down to was how it felt in my hand, and the iPhone 8 Plus felt right.

Only three weeks into the Make Films class, and I already feel I have learned and grown so much.

End Notes

Glen and I have three days to go on our Whole 30 food cleanse. The first week seemed like an eternity, the last three weeks have passed in a blur. I would definitely do this again, it may become a January tradition. 

In researching slo-mo ideas on Pinterest, I came across this YouTube channel. It's all about photographing and filming on your mobile device. These guys are young, hip, and funny.

Have a great week!



Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mornings with Fin


Most of you will know this face, either from here on my blog or if you follow me on Instagram, and especially if you follow me on Flickr. He has become easy prey for my 365 photography project this winter. If you haven't met him before, this is Findley, my grand puppy. Although he isn't much of a puppy anymore, since he will be turning two in one short month.

I take care of Findley a couple days a week to help break up his monotony while my daughter works. Plus it helps satisfy my dog itch, a least for the moment.

The one problem with these adorable photographs is that you only see one facet of Fin's character. But trust me, there is so much more to Fin, he really is Mr. Personality, and has been from the beginning.

To showcase his true nature, Fin and I have been working on a short film for the past couple of weeks.

Have a watch...
 

This also happens to fulfill the homework assignment for Week 2 of Xanthe's Make Films e-course.

Three years ago, I tried to take a year long Xanthe film course. I never made it past the first month. I realize now why I failed; I was too new into the journey, I was trying to find out who I was. I wasn't confident enough to stand up and do the assignments my own way, I thought I had to do them like everybody else, but I wasn't like everybody else, so I gave up.

Now at the start of 2018, I know who I am, I know my style, I know what I like and what I don't like. I am hungry to learn more, to take who I am and express it in the truest way.

This course is also teaching me why I struggle with sitting down and writing a story, I need a visual story. It's the same story just told in a different way, with a lot less sitting.

I use to be a daydreamer, creating elaborate stories in my head. This helped to make the boredom of my receptionist job tolerable. I would often carry these daydreams into my sleep, my imagination working on its own while I slept. But then motherhood and sleepless nights replaced deep sleep, and I was too tired during the day to daydream anyway. Eventually, if you stop using your imagination, it goes into hibernation. But it can be reawakened, you just have to start using it again, and that is what making films is allowing me to do - use my imagination again.

I love taking a subject or theme and creating the scenes to go with it. I love editing in iMovie. I love the challenge of finding the perfect music to accompany the film. I love how the films capture the essence of people/dogs and places, so much more than a still photograph can. I am also amazed at how much I can say in a one minute film clip.

Well, it's time to start working on my next film, I have some ideas floating around in my head. Stay tuned...

End Notes

My husband I have completed twenty days of our month of Whole 30. I would say by mid-way through week two it became so much easier. There are still a lot of eggs, and a lot of dishes to wash each meal, but it's worth it. All my clothes are fitting looser, and the tight yoga pants are now the only yoga pants that stay up nice and snug. I still miss my chai lattes, and a bit of sweetness in my drinks. I don't miss melty cheese or bread (too much). We definitely are never hungry.

I just completed day 140 of my 365 Photography Project. January has been a little tough with all the cold and snow. I miss being outside.

Also, if you missed it on Instagram here is my Make Films homework/completed film for Week One. 



Fin is starting to demand a higher salary. I guess I will be going back to the Pet Store for some more biscuits.

Have a great week.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Scene & Story - December 2017


I took this photograph on a particularly cold and snowy day in December. I had been to the gym early and stopped at the grocery store on the way home for a few necessities. I was over by the almond butter and bread when I saw the brightly lit case of fresh(ish) muffins next to the deli counter. I needed something for my 365 Photography project anyway, so why not. Even for "freshish" it was delicious.

Yesterday, when I started thinking about writing this post, I wanted to jump through the screen and devour that double chocolate muffin with those large chunks of granulated, crispy sugar on top. It is best that I don't even begin to describe the chai latte that is in the muted shades of green, blue, and rust hand thrown mug from my favorite potter in Leland, Michigan. Because if I start to think about HOW much I am missing my chai lattes, I will go upstairs and make one right now.

Why this suffering? My husband and I are doing the Whole 30 Lifestyle change in January. If you have never heard about Whole 30 you can check out information here. Basically it is an elimination diet, and a gut reset diet for 30 days. No dairy, no gluten, no alcohol, and no sugar. You don't realize how many things have sugar in them, until you start reading labels.

So, what can you eat? Eggs...lots and lots of eggs. Can I say at Day 6, I am tired of eggs. But you can also eat meat, almost all vegetables and all fruit.

The good thing is that there are so many recipes out there for Whole 30. I think this "diet" has been around for a few years now. Manufacturer's are catching on that this is a niche market, and creating products that are Whole 30 compliant. There is even No Sugar bacon out there now, thank heavens, but you have to get to the grocery store early to get it, because every other Whole 30 participant wants the bacon too.

So, why are we torturing ourselves like this? First, after the holidays and all the sugar, we needed a reset. But also to figure out what might be causing some intestinal issues my husband has been having for the past couple of years, we are pretty sure it boils down to food triggers. Once the 30 days are over, we will slowly reintroduce foods, and note how our bodies react to them. When the food triggers have been figured out, we can then eliminate them all together, or chose when we want to pay the price and have something.

Like I said we are only six days in, and haven't reached the rewarding days yet. We have been through the craving days, the crabby days, the mental fog days, but we are nearing the end of them, so we keep going, taking it one sugarless day at a time, one egg at a time.

Interested in recipes? Check out my Pinterest board of saved recipes here.

End Notes

Adding a new section to share some things that I am working on...


  1. To torture myself further, I signed up for a food photography class last week, this is the class. After all, it is January and it is winter, I have to find something to photograph inside, and if I can make eggs look good, maybe I will like them more.
  2. Xanthe Berkeley's Make Films class starts this week, so excited. I have already started working on my next film - A Day in the Life of Findley. If you missed my first film, you can view it here.
  3. We painted our bedroom over the holidays, it only took us a year since we started talking about it. So proud of ourselves though, we got all my photographs hung on the wall the next day, this never happens. 
  4. The kitchen project will be starting soon. Went and picked out countertops, backsplash and flooring last week. 

The End

This is the last Scene & Story Link-Up. Lee and I want to thank every one who joined us in 2017, sharing your stories and your favorite photographs. I feel like we learned a lot about you all through your stories, and hopefully you learned a little about us too. My wish is that you keep taking photographs and thinking about the stories surrounding them, continuing to share them somewhere. 



Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Haunting Tour


"By resisting the beginner's mind, you make yourself more prone to repeat yourself than to create something new. The attempt to avoid failure, in other words, makes failure more likely."                                                                 ~ Ed Catmull - Creativity, Inc. 

On December 27, 2017, I embraced the beginner's mind. I signed up for Xanthe Berkeley's Make Films class that starts January 9, 2018.

I gave myself plenty of time to think about the class, almost a whole month, and I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I knew that I was making the right decision.

In preparation, I took this class on how to use iMovie so that I had some clue what I was doing before the class starts. I know that Xanthe will teach us on iMovie, but sometimes I get so hung up on the technical stuff that I never get to the creating part.

Thanks to that easy to follow class and a trip to Traverse City a couple of weeks ago with my husband; him for work, me for pleasure, I visited the insane asylum with my iPhone and shot some clips to put together into a short little video.



This captures a sense of the buildings that captivate me, more so than a still photograph or even a series of stills could ever do. You feel the eeriness of the broken windows, the tattered curtains blowing in the breeze, the warning signs.

I think I failed in my previous film making attempts for two reasons:

  1. I was already pretty good at photography, so I figured I should be pretty good at making films as well. When I wasn't, I viewed it as failure and quit, and went back to what I was good at.
  2. I invested money to learn, but I didn't invest time to learn.
Pride and impatience, two things that don't belong in the world, and especially in the creative world. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reflections On A Reclaimed Year


The end of the year, such a busy, chaotic season, but I always make time to reflect. It helps me to see how far (hopefully) I have come creatively, things I liked and things I didn't and what I learned from them. Also things I want to pursue further in the year ahead, and things that it is finally time to let go off.

Personal Projects


I have half-heartedly dabbled in personal photography projects before, never lasting long enough to learn what I needed to learn from them. Early in the year, I took a class taught by Pam Korman called The Personal Project You Already Shot. The only personal project that I had enough images of to put together for this class was my self-portraiture. The class was awesome! I finally, finally started printing my images with regularity - I did 8 X 10's so I could lay them out to sequence them for the project. It is helpful to have the physical images to move around. I completed the class, made a book from Blurb, and learned a lot along the way. Is it my finest work ever? No. But I started and I finished, there is a lot to be said for that. I plan to work on more personal projects in 2018, I like the non-rushed feeling of them.


Starting in June, I decided to do some #30dayprojects for the summer, picking one word to focus on and use for inspiration in my photography each month. June's word was flowers. I photographed my own gardens, flowers at local gardens and the farmers market, and then the meadow at a nearby county park.

The Meadow became my personal project for 2017. Starting in late June, I went almost weekly to photograph at sunrise.

I honestly don't remember what July and August's words were.

The Meadow


The meadow taught me so much.

It taught me discipline and joy.

It taught me a love for sunrises and that magic golden light. It taught me to love my tripod, at least on location. It taught me to love my 55-250mm zoom lens, before the meadow I used the 55-250mm maybe once a year. One week I forgot that lens, that taught me something too, I was very uninspired without it. Every lens has a purpose, I just needed to find it.

I loved watching and capturing the changes from week to week.

A paved loop trail lies in the middle of the meadow, I discovered so much by walking both directions of the loop.

I am sure there will be a few visits to the meadow next year, I can't imagine not.

The Blog


Almost six years of blogging, and still I have more to say, more to share, more people to connect with. Each year my blog sees a slow but steady rise in readership, which always amazes me.

The blog posts I enjoy writing most are on sharing what I have learned about photography, either through classes, trial and error, or something I have read.  I also love sharing my travels, whether they are day adventures, solo adventures, date days, or family vacations. All of these are planned again for 2018.

Photography Conference

Photo Credit: Glen Huizenga


I went to my first photography conference combining it with vacation. We had a great time on vacation, and I learned a lot at the conference and met some really talented photographers. I also learned I can play with the rest of the group, I am good enough.

My husband and I also attended a iPhone photography workshop, it was nice to do it together, and see how different our styles are, which is a good thing. I can see us doing more of this in the future.

Words


I developed a love of reading poetry this year thanks to Laurie Wagner and her 27 Days of Wild Writing course. I can see poetry playing a bigger part in my projects in 2018.

I am still doing my daily Morning Pages. At the end of September, I started my fourth year. Each morning I also read the entry from the year before. It is good to read how far, or sometimes not, I have come.

I have definitely felt a stronger pull towards photography this year than writing.

Photographic Style



I have really honed my photographic style this year. I would say it is most prevalent in my iPhone photography and processing. My obsession with leading lines and paths continues.

2018


I am excited to explore 2018 and see what awaits me.