Thursday, December 30, 2010

Most intruiging...

 To round out this year, I had planned on doing something wonderful, about my top favorite posts from the past year, but since most of them are on my side bar, it seemed redundant. Instead, I decided to throw you some really crazy stuff.  Are you ready?  Are you sure?  Okay, my top five most intriguing people of 2010....

Number five:  
 This blog has never been, nor will it ever be a place for politics.  But regardless where you fall, you can't deny that Sarah Palin is a kick-hiney woman.  I love watching her show on Alaska.  She is completely fearless, and I totally admire her for that, as well as the fact that she loves being out-of-doors, and so do I! 

Also, I love the fact that I'm not the only woman who puts lipgloss on, when I hike. 

Speaking of people who like to be outdoors and hike... my number four most intriguing person of 2010 is the wife of Bear Grylls, Shara. 
Because I'm the mother of JJ, I know all about Bear Grylls, and I even follow him on twitter and facebook.  In case you don't, all you really need to know is that he's about the coolest guy on earth.  He jumps out of planes and shows you how to survive in case you're ever stranded somewhere.  However, he eats the most disgusting things while in survival mode.  I 've even seen him drink the liquid from camel dung before.  Which is why his wife intrigues me.  She must be quite a woman.
Of course, he does have a lovely British accent....
And truly knows how to rock a bright colored puffy coat.  Still, I think she must be pretty amazing.
 Speaking of people with lovely accents... my number three most intriguing people award (this is starting to get fun) goes to Kate Middleton. 
 I pick her because she wears the most darling hats that no one in the real world gets a chance to wear, and she is elegant a classy.  I would have tea with her in a heartbeat!
Of course, he's not so bad either.  I can't wait for their big day!
 If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how I feel about Matt Damon.  He easily makes my most intriguing category and comes in at number two.  I will always adore him because of the Jason Bourne trilogy, which my man gave to me last Valentine's day.  He's so likable, and I bet he'd be a ton of fun at a BBQ. 
I loved his character in the new movie, True Grit.  The fact that I only get to see about one movie-theatre movie a year might have had something to do with me loving this movie.  Or it might have been the fact that when I do get to see that one movie, I love it when it's not full of awful language or scenes that make me cringe.
Which leads me to my number one slot. The group, "Committed."  I fell madly in love with the show, "Sing Off," because Glee so badly let me down this season by pushing every hot button known to man and making me wish I'd never said I liked it last season.  (Which sadly, I don't anymore, just so we're clear.)  I like shows that I can watch with my children, and this one was a good one.  I loved watching the entire show, but the group, "Committed"  truly won my heart.  What a neat group of guys.  I hope they do well this year.  (I also hope that "Sing Off" doesn't decide to depart from it's fun-loving themes to tackle hard core, questionable issues in the upcoming seasons.) 

And there you have it.  My top five.  What are your top five most intriguing personalities of the past year? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

(365) Photography project

I've researched a little and asked around, about the idea of posting a photo a day, (365 project) for an entire year.  After that, I decided in order to keep my own sanity, I'd post a photo on this blog every day, and put (365) in my title, as well as number my photos for each day.
 I'll still continue to post regular posts, a few times a week like I have been, (and include my daily photo at the bottom or within each post, making note of it) but on all the other days, I will simply post a photo for the day.  At the end of the year, I'll figure out what to do with them.  (Perhaps some amazingly techy-blog person will be able to help me get this blog the way I want it,and show me a great way to organize them.)

I would love to participate in a group to keep me on track, get occasional assignments and glean inspiration, but I couldn't find anything like that, so I'm just doing it my way.  I begin on January 1st.  (Doesn't the face I'm making in this one crack you up?  I guess I make this weird squinchy face when I shoot.  Thought you'd enjoy that.)
 See?  I'm doing the squinchy face here too. 

If you want to join in, you're more than welcome!  Simple as that.  We shall see what we can do! (If you join in, be sure and let me know occasionally.  I always love seeing the world through another person's lens.)

Snap happy, y'all!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I love....

 I love:
ice water with lemon wedges
polka dots
wearing black
striped socks
old books
feather pillows
galvanized metal
taking photographs
moments with my savior
overnights away
white Christmas lights
cowgirl boots
new lip gloss
chippy paint
watching the tide come in
getting all dressed up
white blankets
boxwood shrubs
white candles
sea salted dark chocolate
giggling with girlfriends
sipping iced tea
wrapping gifts
clean sheets
date nights with my man
red barns
sea shells
standing in church with my family
baking cookies
painted toenails
good quotes
pink tulips
surprises in the mailbox
spontaneous hugs from my children
blogging... and

What are the things you love?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reflections for the in-between week...

 I've always loved New Years Eve.  I've always hated New Years Eve.  And usually, I've felt both emotions at the exact same time. The main thing I hate, is that nine times out of ten, we don't do a whole lot to ring it in.  And yet I love being on the cusp of a new beginning. I'm always so convinced that I'm going to do something really great, but I can't usually come up with anything very great to actually commit to. This year, however, I'm starting it out a little bit differently. 

Besides the fact that our entire existence feels completely different than it did this time last year, I've got a plan!  There are a few things that I'm hoping to change of course, because if we just give up and quit trying to better ourselves, we may as well all quit and go home. 
I also want to accomplish some new things, and jump back in to a few things I stopped doing last year.  I want to complete something I began in the Fall.  I want to take a photography class.  (I can't wait, Amy!) I want to take and post a photo all 365 days of the year.  (Isn't there some sort of blog club for that sort of thing?  Anyone?) I want to start swimming again, because I miss it terribly.  I want to memorize a bible verse every two weeks, with Beth Moore.  I want to give until it hurts, because I still don't know what that feels like. I want to start up an Etsy store, though I have no clue what I'd like to make and sell and the entire idea has me freaked out of my mind with paralyzing fear.  I hate fear. 
The biggest thing I want to do this year, that I have never actually been able to do, is simply be.  You know... like in the moment?  Just be. I make way too many plans to ever "be."  But I want that to stop.  I want to appreciate and enjoy each and every moment I've got breath to breathe.  It seems so simple.  I always complicate the simple, so this will truly be a year-long challenge.  (I also plan-and I hope I can stick it out, to let this coffee table remain this color.  I told you I painted it a misty blue.  It still wasn't quite right, but until Christmas decorations were put away it was hard to define what color it should be. The other night, I went hunting through our old paint cans, and I found this color.  It is the paint I used to cover my wood Adirondack chairs.  It's called Dried Thyme by Sherwin-Williams and I felt a familiar tickle in the center of my heart as soon as the paint started sliding across my brush.  Everything about it felt right.  So I'd like to be content with that, and realize that all of life doesn't rotate around material items.  Like Adrain would gently remind me, "moth and rust.") 
Here's to 2011.  A chance to be.  

What are your plans and feelings about the upcoming year? I dearly want to hear from you guys on this. 

Even the lurkers! (grin.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

The day is winding down, and I got to spend some time paging through all the photos I took, so I figured it was the perfect time to post a few of them here.  I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas!  Ours has been completely wonderful.  We've had family breeze in and out, some fun moments of celebration, and plenty of reflection on the birth of Jesus. 
We hosted a cookie party with Adrain's family and played games.  Such fun!  And I must say, a cookie party is probably about the least amount of stress a person can have when hosting a party!  I might throw one every year from now on!
About an hour before everyone came, I had a fun idea for a chips and dip holder, using a galvanized bucket.  It turned out so cute. 
And on Christmas morning, we celebrated the birth of Jesus.  As an aside, I think we have all developed an addiction to the sparkling cranberry juice at Trader Joe's.  (We went through three whole bottles of it over the weekend!)
 We had a relaxed and festive Christmas breakfast of donuts.  We like to take our time and savor the moment, talk about what Christmas means to us, and reflect a little bit.  There's something sweet about doing this first thing in the morning, before we do anything else. 
A little toast to Christmas.  Clink!
 Of course, the flurry begins shortly thereafter, ribbons and tags getting yanked off, wrapping paper flying through the air.  It's all just as it should be, with excited little ones.   
 As the day wears on, we share our favorite treasures with each other.  Of course, I look around, and see all of mine under the same roof.  I feel overwhelmingly blessed...
I remember what Christmas was like for me, as a child.  I don't remember all the work my Mama put into the day, but I do remember seamless gatherings of friends and family.  I don't remember her ever being stressed out, but I remember that it was always fun for us kids. I hope my children remember it the same way.  

I even made a blended mushroom lasagne, with a silky herb cream sauce.  It was amazing if you're a fan of mushrooms.  Perfect for a special occasion. The hoodlums were not fans. 
It was a labor-intensive three pot dish.  Which means it will be for special occasions only...
On Christmas Eve, we always get dressed up, go to our candlelight service, and once back home, we watch The Nativity Story.  Then I proceed to cry all my make up off, and we put the kids to bed.  It's a good tradition. 

There's always plenty of twirling in the new Christmas outfit.
And there's always plenty of play time with presents. 
This year, there was a lot of jewelry making, thanks to Grandma. 
And plenty of smiling.  Smiling's our favorite.

By the end of the day, I must confess that I'm always a little ready to put all the decorations away.  I know, there's a name for people like me.  (giggle) 
I really hope your Christmas weekend has been special.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cameras and cookies and parties, Oh MY!

This is likely going to be my last post until after Christmas, so I wanted to make it a full one!  First of all, I'd just like to say that children are like boxes of chocolates.  Ya never know what you're gonna get.  Today, while decorating cookies with Ava, she furrowed her little brow and asked, "Mama, how do you know when you find the one?"  I blinked.  "Um.  As in a husband?"  She nodded, her little pony tail bouncing, "Yeah, I mean how am I going to know if I meet the right person?"  This discussion lasted for approximately the next five hours.  Just kidding. 
 Later, JJ wandered into the kitchen, where cookie baking was winding down and pushed an older photograph in front of my face.  "Mama, can you tell me what your real hair color is?  Because you have blonde hair in this one, and I can't really remember what it is..." (For the record, it's pretty close to my real color right now. I think.  Mostly.)  Hoodlums. 
 I got twelve different email inquiries about my camera from my last post, so I thought I'd talk about it for a few minutes since y'all are getting ready to take a zillion photos.  First though, please know that I'm not an expert at all.  (Professional photographers avert your eyes please.)  I'm so new to the whole thing that I find myself staring blankly at people when they ask me an intelligent question, showing my utter lack of knowledge.  I'm going to score some photography lessons with an amazing and talented woman next month and I can not wait!  But in the meantime, the photos don't cease.
 The question I get asked all the time is what kind of camera am I using and what type of lens.  I just mentioned it about two posts back, but I'm using a Canon XS.  It came with a kit lens and I use that most of the time.  I did, however, just get an early Christmas present of a 50mm lens and I am in heaven.  Most of the photos taken in this post were taken with that lens. 
The things I've found that matter to me (and may not matter to you, but I'm sharing them anyway) are:
1) Natural light.  (The flash is the devil.  Just kidding.  But not really.) I position myself so that every photo I take is in the  best position I can get it in.  Sometimes that means not shooting a photo until the following day if it's of an object and not a moment.  I never use a flash. 
2) Angle.  I love fun angles.  I like things that are artistic and I suppose that translates somewhat to photography.  I bend in weird positions, crouch down, get under, squeeze between things and generally act like a weirdo with a camera, but if it gets me a neat shot, I don't care. 
3) A good lens that you know how to manipulate.  I'm still working on that one, but I've been really happy with my kit lens, and my new lens has actually taught me a lot.  I have a lot of movers and shakers, so I like to lower my F stop to between 2.0 and 4.0 when I'm indoors.  I keep my ISO around 400-800 when inside, so my photos don't appear too grainy, and I shoot in AV mode a lot because I like it.  If those things aren't working, I mess with them until they are, nudging things up or down, and I don't give up and go home.  I shoot, look, delete, and try again. (Thanks LeAnna, that was the best tip ever!)  I generally keep the white balance in auto mode, unless I'm outside and it's super sunny or cloudy, in which case I change it.
We've been doing a ton of getting ready for fun gatherings around here.  Martha Stewart showed a cute idea which I immediately set out to copy.  These swizzle sticks were created by snipping off a piece of garland,  and hot gluing it to the end of a skewer.  (I cut all my skewers in half so they would be the right height.)
I also made these cute napkin rings out of wood "berries" from a garland I cut up.  I just strung them on some twine and how cute did they turn out!?  (Oh, and I've been getting a lot of questions about my collages.  I created them in Picnik.)
And with that, I leave you with the photo we chose for our Christmas card!  You guys mean so much to me. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!