Friday, January 29, 2016

Creating on a Winter's Afternoon.

Kim and I spent the afternoon earlier this week setting up a variety of styled tea still life vignettes.

Two of my favorite things at once! There is nothing better than spending a winter's afternoon, camera in hand, surrounded by tea and cookies.

Unless . . . you add in time in Photoshop, playing with one of the stills you made. Photography, tea and cookies plus Photoshop . . . makes for a the perfect afternoon.

Here are a few with out Photoshop magic:
Another one of mine . . .

And one of Kim's . . .

Have a wonderful week end!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Looking forward to Spring

I don't know about you, but every January I start to long for spring.

 On Boxing Day I'm in a fever of impatience, wanting my tree down right now, loading empty laundry baskets with anything Christmasy, ready to make a clean sweep.

 Master Gardener or not, I deliberately stop watering my poinsettias so I can throw them away as quickly as possible without guilt. Which I can. Because they're dead. Even though I killed them. On purpose. (Yes indeed. That's how my brain works.)

By New Years Day my house is usually bare of seasonal decor. I love to decorate for the seasons and somehow I never seem to do 'winter'. I go from fall to Christmas, skip winter altogether and go straight to spring.

The ultimate denial.

By the end of January I'm chomping at the bit, aching for the sight of fresh flowers. When I can't stand it for even one more day, I'll treat myself to an inexpensive bundle of flowers, which I will spread out into an assortment of tiny vases so there will be something pretty all over the house.

 Then it's February and time for the grocery store primulas. I love to work them into a spring vignette. Because, if I still lived in B.C., it would be spring . . . at least, that's what my sister Lisa tells me when I'm moaning about another winter snowstorm and she assures me that the snowdrops are already poking their heads up everywhere she looks . . .

 She's a mean one alright . . .  ;D

 By late February (and sometimes even before) the tulips/daffodils I'd forced back in the fall start to bloom and it's just magical. There is nothing like enjoying the blooms of your own tulips and daffodils. I'm not sure why I find them so much more satisfying than those I buy at the store, but they are.

 March is hardcore seeding. I could watch those seedlings pop up all day long if I didn't have to keep us in clean underwear and toilet paper . . .


In April, seedlings get transplanted into bigger pots and moved into the greenhouse. Oh the thrill of a greenhouse in April.

Ah spring, it's almost as fun to anticipate as it is to live it.

Almost . . . 

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Friday, January 22, 2016

On a Sister Adventure.

My youngest sister Sabrina came to visit me last week. It's the first time she's been up here for a sister visit. She came on her own and got to enjoy sleeping in and having the entire bed to herself. A real luxury when she usually shares the bed with her husband, adorable little munchkin and their two dogs!

The weather wasn't as cooperative as I'd hoped. It stayed in the minus 20C range for most of her visit. This meant no shopping on Whyte Ave, no visit to the Ice Castle and no long rambles through the river valley with Jada. (I guess she's just going to have to come back when it warms up! ;D)

 I knew I wanted to take her on a visit to the Duchess Bake Shop. It's the perfect adventure for the daughter's of a baker. After the 6 month check up with my melanoma doctor (a good one!), we bundled up and headed out. We found a good parking spot and shivered our way over to the Duchess . . . who are closed on Mondays!


Luckily for us, Edmonton is full of great restaurants, so I took her to another one of my favourites: The Dish Bistro. They never disappoint. Yum!

Sabrina enjoyed a hearty bowl of their daily soup and I had my current favourite, Chicken and Waffles. Fried chicken on a Cheddar and green onion buttermilk waffle with a grainy mustard maple syrup. Yummy, yummy, yummy.

The bonus for me, is that I can only eat half, which means I get to take the rest home for lunch the next day . . . Double yum!

Don't you love if when you can share an adventure with your sister? I know I do!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Flying . . .

Around this time of the year, after a cold snap or two, I start to feel a little cooped up.

 I stay inside as much as humanly possible because I'm a big baby when it comes to cold weather. If it weren't for Jada and the need for groceries, I'd probably stay holed up in my comfy little home for 4 or 5 months of the year!

That's when I start looking through my photo library, dreaming about those beautiful warm days in the sun. I took this image last summer while on a long overdue weekend away with my friend Joyce. (Still to be blogged about. Ahem.)

We gazed at these boats from the deck of a paddle wheeler, the sun hot on our faces, small breeze ruffling our hair, while kids wove in and out of the crowds, looking for the best vantage point, the most adventurous going so far as to climb on benches and hang joyously over the rail.

Watching the boats fly across the water with my dear friend at my side, camera at the ready, the loud splash and swoosh of the paddles in the background  . . . 

Life just doesn't get much better than that does it?

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Finding Joy.

 I'm not one to choose a word for the year, I tend to choose a text instead. The word 'Joy' has been in my mind since last fall for some reason, and it goes so well with my text, that I'm going to have a word and a text this year.

I've had the same text since my surgery three years ago. I read it before I do my regular bible reading, I have it posted on my pin board beside my computer and I finally decided to memorize it as well.

Phillipians 4: 4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
It can be hard these days though, can't it? Not to be anxious about anything? To trust that God will always work everything out for good? I know I can really struggle with this some days.

Everyday we are assaulted with doom and gloom. Terrorism, the economy, the environment . . . the news and Facebook is filled with terrible things going on day after day. Our right to live our lives according to God's will seem to be under attack from every direction. Standing up and speaking about what's right, with love, has become nearly impossible. Seldom are we allowed to get past the first sentence in a conversation  on controversial topics. You either believe wholeheartedly in the 'enlightened' ideology of the day or you are an intolerant, religious bigot filled with hatred for your fellow man. The world no longer seems to accept the idea that we can agree to disagree respectfully, and still love and care about each other. That can make you hesitant to connect with people you meet.

How do we go about finding joy in all this? How do we 'Rejoice always.'?

I find my direction in verses 8 and 9. I work hard at filling up with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. I don't always succeed mind you. I'll click that link in Facebook on some topic of the day and foolishly read the comments only to be horrified at the hatred coming from people on both sides of the issue. I'll watch the news for a half an hour and come away feeling as though there is no good left in the world.

But it's not true . . .

There are so many beautiful things in the world around us. So many loving, caring people. The trick is to look at that and not at what the media continually sends our way. After the attack in Paris someone posted a meme on Facebook with the words of Mr. Roger's mother . . .

That's what I look for these days. And those people are everywhere.

But what about finding joy in your day to day life? What do you do on the days you couldn't help watching the news or clicking that link on Facebook? How do you rejoice when someone you love is sick, when you're not sure where the money's coming from for your baby's formula, or the dog threw up on your brand new carpet for the third time that week?

The bible and prayer are our first lines of defense of course. Maybe you have favorite passages marked for just these times. Mine is the passage from Philippians. But it doesn't stop there.  The next thing is to do something. Something to remind yourself of the beauty God put in our world. Some people like to write down all the things they have to be thankful for. A reminder that there are many, many things that we often overlook. They can be as tiny as frosty drops of water on a fuzzy leaf, to as large as an unexpected raise in pay when you had been helplessly watching your bank balance fall farther and farther in the red for months on end.

Holly bought me a wonderful edition of Ann Voskamp's book 'One Thousand Gifts' right after my surgery. Ann talks about how writing down all the gifts she came across in her day today life changed her perspective over time.

I tried that as well, but, as much as I love words, I couldn't seem to keep it up. For me, photography is how I see and share what brings me joy. I love macro photography because it brings the astounding detail and care God put into the natural word into sharp focus. Still life allows me to craft a beautiful moment, using what's at hand. It makes me look hard for the beauty in things. I will look at the items from every angle, moving things from here to there, searching out the best light, losing myself in that peaceful moment. 

Photography for me has become one for the biggest ways I search everyday for those things we are called to fill our lives with in Philippians 4:8. 

 What's wonderful about it, is that I'm able to share it, to add to the 'lovely' in the world rather than the 'doom and gloom'. 

One of my favourite thoughts about this is from Lucy Maud Montgomery's book 'Anne of Avonlea': 

 "I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people know more. . .though I know that is the noblest ambition. . .but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me. . .to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born."

So here's a little extra 'lovely' to finish off your week, and I'd love to know what you do to find joy in your everyday. Do you stop your housework and cross stitch for an hour? Make cookies? Write stories? Read to your grand-kids? Rub your husband's back? Set a pretty table? I'd love to hear what you do to ofset the doom and gloom that surrounds us these days.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Getting Ready for Company

Don't you love the way this bee is doing his job? He's got work to do and he does it! No halfhearted effort here . . . it's all or nothing!

That's how I need to do things today! My youngest sister is coming for a first ever visit this Thursday and I have a lot to do to get ready . . . Rooms to tidy, bathrooms to scrub, kitchens to dig out . . . (the kids had to break out the paper plates when they came over for dinner yesterday.)

There's the baking and the fluffing of the guest bedroom (or in my case the studio turned into a guest bedroom) and I may even satisfy my craving for fresh flowers with a trip to the floral wholesaler.

Then there are adventures to plan. Sabrina's never been to Edmonton so everything's fresh and new for her. The Duchess is a must do of course, and the Mall, but I can't quite decide where else to go, she isn't a gardener like me . . .

Duchess Bake Shop

All you Edmontonians . . . What are your favorite adventures in the city? Help me make a fabulous list!

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Looking Forward to Spring.

I don't know about you, but not long after Christmas the itch for spring sets in. I enjoy the somewhat slower pace that comes with a Canadian winter (when it gets dark by 4:30 or 5:00 o'clock in the evening, all I really want to do is read a good book) but the gardener in me starts getting restless not long after the winter solstice.

With so many new hobbies and projects in the works this year, I had decided I would keep my gardening efforts very low key. I dismantled the shelves in the greenhouse and I'm still in the process of turning it into a tiny, natural light studio where I can take still life and product photography images all year. (My house doesn't get a lot of light in the winter.) I took the lights off of my seedling shelves and filled them with props . . .

In short  . . . I was sensible.

What I forgot in all this, was the fact that . . . well   . . . I'm not all that sensible when it comes to doing the things I love, especially when life is in need of a little extra joy.

I had a challenging day yesterday. The withdrawal symptoms from the medication I've been on for the lingering nerve pain after my bout with shingles in October aren't great. I decided it was time to do something fun. And today that meant something that would allow me to look forward to spring . . . and gardening.

I had a bag of tulip bulbs I had forgotten about down in my cold room and I knew just what to do. Thankfully, I hadn't gotten so sensible that I had purged all my gardening things. I made a quick trip the garden shed for my planting tray and some 6" pots, the kitchen for coffee filters and the greenhouse for a small bag of potting soil.

I was going to force my tulips, which would give me blooms inside long before I'd see any outside.

I'm late with this. I really should have done it in October sometime but, I had shingles, it was the last thing on my mind, so you work with what you have. Even though the bulbs aren't in top shape they are still firm and have begun to grow . . .

Time to garden!


There is nothing like playing in the dirt and imagining how pretty these are going to look to cheer me up!

Once the pots have been thouroghly watered and let sit over night, they will go into a dark, cool place until green starts poking up. Then they come out and go onto a sunny cool ledge. In this case the windowsill in Henry's man cave . . .

Shhhh . . . don't tell him!

The bonus to forcing this many pots of bulbs is that I can give them away as gifts. I get just as much joy giving them away, as I do keeping them.

What do you like to do to cheer yourself up when you feel a little 'blue'?

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Oh those Baby Lips!

Is there anything better than tiny baby fingers, or tiny baby toes, or those 'melt your heart' little baby lips?

I always feel like the worst kind of meanie when, after taking a lot of time to settle these sweet little ones to sleep in one position, I take a few photos and then move them around to a whole new pose! It just seems wrong somehow . . .  Too many years of trying to settle my own fussy babies I suppose. ;D

Alina came in with her mom just before Christmas. Isn't she adorable?

I do love a newborn baby . . .

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