Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I love the idea of wrapping presents in unique ways, of decorating them with beautiful bows and embellishments. This year, I was lucky to get them wrapped, period. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was short and seemed even shorter.

Anywho, I was wrapping presents this week and scribbling names directly on the paper using a big, fat, silver Sharpie. Then, it hit me. What if I could make labels from my art work? I scanned through my photos, trying this one and then that, until I settled on my newsprint angel girl. 

I opened PicMonkey and clicked on the create a collage tab. I uploaded my girl, chose the two photo collage, and placed PicMonkey 'paper' on the right side. Then I clicked on 'edit' to add the snowflake embellishments and the text. It was super easy, and I love how they look when printed.

It's Christmas Eve. I'm playing around a bit because my daughter has been in bed with the flu. It's been quiet around here with her cooped up sick. I'm hoping she'll get up for a while and open her one Christmas Eve gift and maybe watch a Christmas movie with me. She's feeling better, which is a big relief, but she's just not back to normal yet.

I know not everyone enjoys the holiday, but I hope you can experience serenity and peace as well as fun, love, and laughter.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I'm sitting in my studio office kind of hiding out. Hannah wanted to have a party for her 18th birthday.... Not a huge one, just a few friends and then some. I really have no idea who will show up; you know how word-of-mouth can make news of a party travel faster than you can say social media. But I'm thinking the turn-out will be okay because, face it, her parents are home.

Every party that teenagers her age have these days seem to take place in the absence of their parents. Hannah doesn't go to too many of them and has even driven up, parked, and after hearing from a friend came back home after hearing about the 'fun' they were having.

Funny girl, Hannah. She definitely takes after her dad's side of the family with her socializing. She enjoys her friends immensely. But at the same time, she takes after me a bit. She enjoys her friends in small numbers. She's already figured out that big parties don't always equate to big fun. 

So, anyway, here I sit on the night of her birth hidden away so-to-speak in my space. I have three hours to go until her official 'birthtime.' When she was little I would tell her all about the day she was born. We would read the diary entries I made during my pregnancy. For several years now, she's had friends over for the night, so the birth story hasn't been retold in a while. Maybe tomorrow night when we're settled in for the night. Yeah. That sounds like something worth doing again.

... in the time it's taken to create the collage, I've begun to hear chatter and laughter on the back deck. I think I'll go downstairs now.... :)

Happy 18th birthday to my girl! I hope this year brings much joy to your life.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Coming soon to a computer near you!

Can you tell that I'm pretty excited about launching my Etsy shop? Nervous, too. Really. I'm just a little bit worried about cards collecting dust.... That the money I spent getting real cards made may have been better spent on something else... like groceries :)

But I just felt that the time was right. I do a lot of dreaming when it comes to my art and photography, but I find that taking steps to actually DO something with my art and photography takes a little more effort. And commitment. And confidence. So, we'll see.

Opening date: January 1. You can mark that on your calendar!

Tomorrow is the last day of the semester at school. My students are finishing up benchmark exams, and I am ready to get to the whole holiday shabang-thing under way. I've ordered my Christmas cards (a bit late) and am getting the house finished up for Christmas AND for my daughter's 18th birthday. (Geez, when did that happen? 18?)

You should have heard me on my drive home today. I was singing  trying to sing along with Francesca Battistelli's "What Child is This?/First Noel." I can't even begin to tell you how many times I pushed the back button to hear it again. And again. Her voice is so pure... and the music in this, the drums, everything, is just beautiful. You can find more of her songs here, including her new release called "Strangely Dim." If you're like me with hundreds of plans and dreams swirling about, this song may be just what you need to hear right now.

P.S. Today is my sister, Traci's, birthday. She's pretty much my #1 fan (along with my other sister, Parris, and my sweet mother-in-law, Lurline) when it comes to my art and photography. Happy birthday, Traci!

Sunday, December 8, 2013


That's what I'm calling these little cards I had printed, and I have to tell you that I was practically dancing around the house when I saw that package on the counter. Thirty-six cards all 4"x4" in size.... complete with little Kraft envelopes. And all for my Etsy shop! 

I still have some work to do before the grand opening, but it's close. It's really, really close.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Love Knots

Cozy. That's what I'm looking for today. It's cold outside, at least the inside of my house is making me think that. Sometimes, I get all bundled up before heading out somewhere, only to find out that it's warmer outside than it is in my house. In the summer, that's a good thing. In late fall and winter, not so much!

If you're with me on Instagram, you've already heard the story about the quilts in the photo above. You heard how I was always nosing around in antique stores looking for old quilts. I didn't mind a little wear and tear because that's what made them special to me.The two on the bottom of the stack came from my mother-in-law's yard sale before I joined the family. Freebies and in wonderful condition. The one second from the top was an antique store find, and the one on the very top is extra special because I actually got to meet the person who made it.

He was Uncle Olen on Craig's side of the family. He pieced quilts in his older age sitting with his wife in their small apartment in Atlanta. He made two for Hannah when she was a baby. One with pink tones and one with blue because I didn't want to know whether we were having a boy or a girl. And he made this top one for us.

The quilts remind me of childhood years at my grandmother's house on my father's side. I didn't spend too many nights there, but I do remember being deep in the middle of quilts on a cold winter night in their white frame house. The quilts laying heavy on my body but keeping the cold out.

They remind me of a poem I read with my students each year.... "My Mother Pieced Quilts"
and of Alice Walker's masterful story.... "Everyday use." Mama and Maggie might not think my displays are necessary, but I think they would be glad to know that the quilts have seen a lot of use. Everyday use. If not now than at least in the past.

It's getting close to the anniversary of my mother's death. December 11. She didn't quilt, but she did spend hours and hours making clothes for her three girls. Easter dresses, school clothes, even when I was grown, she would make clothes for me. So, although she didn't piece quilts, she sewed and with every tiny stitch a little love was added.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I posted this photo on Instagram last week, and my sister asked if I had taken it at her house. Yes, I had. I hang on to the photos on my phone for a very long time. When I get bored, I'll scroll through the photos to see if one inspires me to play for a while. I'm not sure which apps I used on this one, but I loved how it turned out. With a few apps and cropping tools, it's easy to give a photo a whole new look.

If you thought you heard me sigh around 4:30 this evening, you probably did. That was when I walked out of the school and got into my car. I headed home for a week's vacation, and I am ready for it to begin.

I'd love to get into the attic and pull down all of the Christmas decorations this week. I want to have them ready as soon as the turkey and dressing have been eaten and the dishes washed and put away. Christmas is coming quickly this year.

Between attic exploration, eating delicious food, and getting ready to decorate, I'll be grading essays, too. While I enjoy seeing how my students progress with their writing, part of me thinks that teaching history or science might be a bit easier, at least when it comes to grading.

It's also time to see a few movies. Hannah and I saw Gravity last weekend. I always wanted to be an astronaut, but getting stranded in space would be scary to say the least. If you saw the movie, did you notice Sandra Bullock's toned self? Hmmm. I'm thinking it may be time to start exercising again. The Hunger Games movie comes out tonight, so that one's on my list. And The Book Thief. I read that book several years ago and wrote about it here. I definitely want to see the movie now.

There's nothing like having a few days off to relax and enjoy yourself. I'm definitely getting ready to do just that. I hope you have a great weekend and week, too!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jo-Ann and Tim and Me

I was in Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store the other day when I came across this printed material. It mimics the look of scrapbook paper, and is, in fact, a Tim Holtz product. (If you peruse the scrapbook and craft aisles much at all, you're sure to see inks and all kinds of other goodies Holtz has created for us artsy-types. Well, when I saw it, I literally stopped in my tracks. I'm not sure if any "oohs" or "ahhs" escaped my lips, but I'm sure if someone were nearby they would have heard that sharp intake of breath when I first spotted the fabric.

So, yes, I bought some. Just a little bit from two different bolts of cloth. I had been looking for a bird of some kind for one of my mixed-media girls and decided then that I would create my own. I know it looks a bit amateurish, but that's okay. I like the look of uneven stitches. There's no doubt when someone sees my bird that it was hand made. I'm good with that.

I haven't finished the canvas yet, but I hope to soon. Right now I've got a little pumpkin-carving to do and some candy to stay out of.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Inspiration and a Card for Kelly

This river is not too far from my home. When people drive over the bridge, you can usually see their heads turning left, then right, to catch a glimpse of the view. Sometimes I walk down to the river to see it and take pictures. Today, I was a little on the lazy side. I drove down and parked not too far away. I was glad I did. It was cold! My hands were freezing by the time I got back into my car and cranked up the heat.

It's a quiet weekend here. My husband took a friend to a college football game. He likes to indoctrinate people to his way of thinking when it comes to football. My daughter was up early for the ACT. And other than my little trip to the river this morning, I've been pretty quiet, too. There's plenty to do around here; I just haven't quite gotten into the mood to get things done.

Several blogs have been inspiring me lately. One is Jennifer Belthoff's blog, Giggling in the Rain. In this post, her poem asks those of us who consider ourselves writers, artists, or photographers if we are "living it." Since I'm also a teacher, it's difficult to live that life 100% of the time, but I'm trying. Yes, I'm a writer; I've been a writer for as long as I can remember. And although I enjoy photography and creating art, I don't feel comfortable calling myself a photographer or an artist. Not yet. After reading her poem though, I feel a little closer to claiming one of those.

More inspiration comes from Caroline Manrique, a photographer whom I have followed for years. Her beautiful photographs are like eye candy, and her posts dig deep making me stop and think a little deeper myself. She is also posting inspirational photos and quotes on Tumblr. I know some of you know Caroline, but if you haven't visited her before, you're missing a good thing.

After visiting Caroline's Tumblr, I decided to create something for another blogger who is going through a difficult time. I searched around for a quote until I found this one. It spoke to me, and I hope it will reassure her that time does heal our wounds and that we never lose the memories and love we have for our mothers.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I love autumn months.
I love the slight chill in the air,
the smell of burning wood
and the sight of golden leaves 
littering the ground.
I love long sleeve t-shirts
made of soft cotton
and socks and real shoes.
Not those flipflops
that scream of

I love hot chocolate
with mini marshmallows
floating on top
and sweet potato casserole
with its marshmallow topping darkened
by the warmth of the oven.

I love hearing the crunch of leaves
as I walk through the woods
and seeing how they swirl and dance
in the breeze as they
pirouette to the earth.
there are leaves
with kamikazi attitudes.
Darting toward
my windshield
with reckless abandon.

I love early nightfall
and how it practically demands
that I settle in early for the night.
With lights shining through windows
and dogs curled up at my feet.
 Food baking in the oven
steam rising off the river.

Colorful world
at my fingertips

Friday, October 11, 2013

I Met Him and ...

he stole my heart
It was this little fella
at the fair
who did it.

It was during the fireworks display
when the loud noises were scaring him.
He nestled down into the hay
to get away from the sounds.
 My daughter nearly cried.
 I talked to him and said
everything would be alright.

Yep. I'm the crazy lady
with the camera
who talks to
At the fair.

Friday, October 4, 2013


It's been a week, and I have to say that I am ready for this weekend. Teaching can be so taxing sometimes. Dealing with all of the different personalities that come with the kids we teach.... Managing paperwork, planning lessons, grading papers, meeting with teachers about the kids we teach. Yep, it's time for the weekend!

Funny how certain students can work their way into your heart though. They don't even have to be the sweetest, best, or brightest, it's just something about them that makes you want to see them succeed. Not just in middle school but in life.

I have one student now who wants to become a counselor, and I can so see her in that role. Unfortunately, she has a long road ahead of her because, from what I can tell, there will be little family involvement and encouragement to get there. It's going to take her own intrinsic motivation and determination - perseverance - to make it.

Another student is the embodiment to me of the book, "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys." This particular student has helped roof houses and wants to work in a field that requires physical labor. He wants to go home at the end of the day with that feeling of accomplishment you get when you work hard and have something to show for it. So, of course, I have him reading poems and discussing theme and figurative language.

He was a little late getting an essay turned in and had to finish it today during a time set aside for completing make-up work. He was working in another classroom, and I had two students in my room whom I don't teach and who are anything but motivated. I finally told one guy (who had been looking at the partially-completed page of a late history assignment for at least an hour) that sometimes we just have to do things we don't want to do. And that it will happen when he gets a job, too. Enter my "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys" kid with essay in hand.

"I'm finished," he said as he waved the paper in front of me.

"Great!" I said. "Now, I want you to be honest. Was this something that you WANTED to do? That you just couldn't wait to jump into?"

"No, Mrs. Johnson, I did NOT want to do this."

"But you did it anyway," I said.

"Yes, I did."

Note to guy looking at the partially-completed page of the history assignment for the 65th minute. "Chevy" finished his work, and he didn't actually want to do it.


It's nearly fall break. (Did you hear that sigh?) We have three days of testing and shortened class periods. Three mornings of not being in my own classroom but on the 7th-grade hall (gasp!). And then, then fall break.

*sigh* I'm ready for that.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Learning, Growing

I have a confession. When I went on that photo walk in a cemetery not long ago, I used my program modes on my camera instead of shooting manually. I was a bit embarrassed because everyone else talked f-stop and aperture. I just chose portrait, landscape, or sports mode and shot away. Actually bumbling through a conversation because I didn't want to admit that I was clueless about those things.

In fact, my automatic, portrait, and sports modes on my camera have been three of my best friends. They have rarely failed me although I know, deep in my heart, that my photographs could be better if I would learn how to use my manual settings. So guess what? I signed up for a class. And I'm already learning.

Now my f-stop is my new best friend, and I tend to like it on the lowest setting. That's what I used to create this photo of my bobbin jar.

There's still so much to learn, but at least I'm tackling it head on this time. And not hiding behind my easy buttons.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hello Fall

Fall has not yet arrived here temperature-wise even though the calendar says it has. I decided to go ahead and welcome it with open arms anyway in hopes that my enthusiasm will make a difference. I love cooler weather. I love seeing the leaves change colors and dance their way from tree top to pine-laden black top. I love that slight nip in the air. Not so cold that you have to bundle up, but just enough to make you settle into your jackets and sweaters with cozy comfort. I love a fire place and an outside marshmallow roast. Football games and brisk morning walks.

Speaking of walks, I decided against using the Elliptical machine this weekend even though it pretty much guarantees a 600+ calorie loss. Instead I opted to walk to the river. My reward, I convinced myself, was the opportunity to photograph the water and sky without having to park in someone's driveway or risk a car coming up behind mine as I scoot to the edge of the bridge. That reward at least took care of the first half of the trip. Trudging home I decided that getting to look through my photos would be my reward for making it back. I had purposefully left my glasses at home.

Did I tell you that my neighborhood is full of very steep and very long hills? Which is why I took this photo.

It may not look all that steep here, but it is. Believe me. And the bad thing is that when you're standing at the bottom of the hill looking up, all you have to do is turn around to see another hill just as steep and even longer on the other side. 

I can't tell you how many times I've considered sitting down and waiting for someone to come by and give me a lift. I've imagined myself going back and forth between the two hills and never reaching the top of either one. And the best plan I've come up with involves a helicopter hovering overhead and sending down a ladder for me to climb up.

But when all is said and done, my mama always told me not to accept rides from strangers, so waiting for a ride is out of the question. Going up and down each side hoping I'll gain momentum like on a carnival ride won't work. There's no generator or electricity to keep me going. And the helicopter.... That's.Not.Happening. 

What it takes to climb that hill is to put one foot in front of the other. And then do it again and again until I reach the top. 

As I made my way up, step after step, it occurred to me that reaching the top of that hill is a metaphor for everything that happens to us in life. There's usually not going to be an easy way out. That's for sure. What it takes, without any ifs, ands, or buts, is to just do it. So I did.

I hope you reach the top of whatever hill you're trying to climb. And that you're hills aren't falling too close together.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day Trippin'

My daughter had moving-up day to commemorate this as her senior year of high school. It's been so much fun watching her grow up, but it's still bittersweet to know that she will be in college next year and that she won't be my little bird in a nest much longer.

If you have a daughter, I'm sure you know how challenging it is at times to find a dress that you both can agree on. This blue/green number received the okay from both of us, and a resourceful young man helped her tighten up her new shoes by punching an extra hole in the strap. These are two of her best friends....

We were planning on taking a short road trip this past weekend, and I had already decided that I would ride in the backseat with Hannah, so her uncle could sit up front with my husband. I couldn't help but think about Hannah and her best friend jamming out in the backseat on our way to the beach each summer. Usually, they're sharing one set of ear buds. I didn't say anything, but I nearly jumped out of my seat when she offered me an ear bud and said, "See if you like this song."

Of course, I accidentally pulled her ear bud out a few times in my enthusiasm.... I posted this same photo of us on Instagram. I crack up every time I look at it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I have a thing for ribbon. If I even see a glimpse of ribbon in a store, I tend to make a beeline straight to it, which is exactly how this pretty green thing made its way into my buggy not too long ago. I don't always have anything in particular in mind to do with ribbon that I buy. I can just rest assured that there will be some reason to use it at some point before I die. Luckily, the ribbon didn't have to be placed in cold storage to protect it from the natural process of aging. I came up with a way to use the ribbon to create a little bit of joy.

My mentor at the school where I work retired this past year and handed down to me a beautiful 'school' wreath for my classroom door. My room is committed to a blue and green color scheme, so the ribbon is about to be put to work as I give the wreath a little bit of a blue/green makeover. I'll post a picture soon to show you how it turns out.

In the meantime, how are you creating your own joy?


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dig in!

Those are pretty good words to live by, don't you think? Sometimes we want to forget the 'work hard' part. We want things to come easily. Who doesn't? But it's when you dig in and work hard that you can get the most joy out of your accomplishments.

A big thank you to Ashlyn at Triple Thread for letting me put words with her photo. I wrote about her back in February and continue to be impressed with her photography, writing, and independent spirit. 

So go on, let your hair down. Dig in to something you're passionate about!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Brave and Strong

I'm sitting here nearly three weeks into the school year reliving a bit of my summer break. With school back in session, it's no surprise that playing with my camera gets put on the back burner. (I know it shouldn't, but there IS only so much time in one day.)

These photos were taken during our trip to Michigan. (Yes, the same trip that the last several posts of pictures came from!) I'm just wondering though what it is about lighthouses that captures our attention and makes us point our cameras toward them. They just seem so brave and stalwart holding their own against the forces of nature, lighting the way to safety for sailors young and old.

I loved this one just off Mackinac Island. It looks much more like a house to me. Wouldn't it be neat to stay in one overnight or even live in one full time?

And the white one below is in Frankfort. The pier takes you right to it. It was a little spooky walking out there at night. There are no rails along the edge, so it seemed like it would be so easy to fall right over.

 Some people actually jump off the edge though. It looked fun, but I decided not to risk life or limb for a t-shirt that says 'I cleared the pier.' There were lots of big rocks below and a metal ladder to climb up afterward. 

So how are things going with you? Have you or your family jumped right back into the school year, or do you still have a few weeks before big yellow starts to roll?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Johnsons 7 - Mice 0

It may have been while we were in Michigan, but at some point recently, a few mice decided they would call the Johnson residence home. I saw the signs right after we got back as I was cleaning out a closet in the kitchen. That's when I found the condo they had built during our absence. I'm telling you, these mice must have graduated from Georgia Tech or MIT. Their home had a nice overhang and was decorated with beads out of our craft drawer. 

I have a difficult time killing any living, breathing thing, so with mixed feelings, we set out sticky traps (they're very inhumane by the way) and poison (also inhumane). We caught two, but my husband decided to use a broom to shoo another two out the door (very humane). Johnsons 2 - Mice 2.

Hmmmm. That was effective.

Flash forward: My new floor is in place, and my closets are pristine with new paint and flooring. 

More mice. More traps. One more mouse. Stuck. However, he managed to drag the trap under the closet door and into the middle of the floor. (Now that was a nice view first thing in the morning!) My husband placed him in a plastic bag, I guess hoping for a quicker death (we really, really hate this stuff), and left him outside. When he got home in the afternoon, the bag had been eaten through and Mighty Mouse had come unstuck and had escaped. Johnsons 2 - Mice 3.

By now, I'm imagining a pretty creepy infestation. (What are dogs for, by the way, if they can't scare a few tiny, big-eared house mice away?) Back to our bag of tricks. Sticky pads, those break-your-neck traps, and poison. We catch two more. Johnsons 4 - Mouse 1.

And then, the most amazing thing I've ever seen. (Yes, gross, but still amazing....) I walk into the kitchen one morning, and this tiny little mouse is swimming laps in my dogs' water bowl. Seriously! (It's a big, square bowl that does look a bit like a mouse-sized swimming pool.) No, I didn't get a picture or video. I was too freaked out by the whole thing to even go there. What I did was yell for my husband.

I've decided that the mice think our home is the Hilton. I'm expecting to find one lounging under a lamp one day as if she's sunning herself outdoors. 

Suffice it to say, at last count it's Johnsons 7 - Mice 0. This hotel is closed!

 They are cute. But they eat my food.
And poop. And tinkle.
(Photo from the Internet)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mosaic Monday: Planted

I'm not great as a gardener. Other than African violets, there are few plants and flowers that I can grow well. I did tempt fate this year by buying a type of philodendron for my classroom. I bought new potting soil and re-potted the plant, so it would have room to grow. I took it to school as it if were show-and-tell day. I watered it nervously on Friday before I left hoping that its leaves wouldn't be yellowed by the time I returned on Monday. As I poured water over it bit by bit, I wished the plant could sputter 'that's enough' when I'd given it the right amount. Instead, I guessed, which doesn't seem anywhere near scientific enough at all.

All that to say that I love flowering plants. I found all of these when we were on Mackinac Island this summer. Flowers at nearly every storefront and hanging from baskets along the street.

You really can't be in a bad mood when there are flowers everywhere. 

I'm hoping that my new plant will have positive effects in my classroom, too. It's supposed to purify the air, provide more oxygen, and sharpen my students' focus. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty psyched about sharing the load with Phil this year. If he can sharpen their focus, I promise to give them some ELA and reading to focus on.

I'm joining Mary at Little Red House for this week's Mosaic Monday. If you'd like to see more, just click on over.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's About Time

You can thank me later. I just deleted a whole post about how I'm not (NOT) going to work ten and a half hour days any more. Of course it took many words and sentences to get my point across, but I finally decided that a sentence or two would be quite enough.

These are a few more photos from my trip to Michigan this summer. I just loved the flowers blooming everywhere and those glass bottles in the window. Even those flowers that had hit their peak and were fading were beautiful to me.

For us, the calendar and temperature may still be in summer mode, but we're back in school already. This summer break had to be the shortest one ever. I could have used a few more weeks (or even a few more days) of down time. I'm already feeling a little bit like that droopy sunflower.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Renovate, Resuscitate

Oh, boy, have I been busy this past week. Not that I had actually planned to get into the whole home remodeling business. It's just that when you give a girl new flooring, she'll have to paint the baseboards and trim. And if she paints the baseboards and trim, she'll also want to paint the walls (and try nine sample colors in the process). And if she paints the baseboards and trim and walls in the kitchen, she'll want to paint the baseboards and trim in other rooms, too. And then she'll start painting doors and shelves and even the dogs if they didn't scurry out of her way quick enough.

So, now, I need some resuscitating. And being here, with you, is how I chose to resuscitate myself. 

Did I say already how much I enjoyed the quaintness of Mackinac Island? Oh, the bikes! They don't allow cars on the island, so visitors have four choices: walk, ride bikes, ride horses, or take a horse-drawn trolley tour. Needless to say, there are plenty of opportunities to photograph bikes. I just wish I could have moved them a little to the left or right, or closed a door behind one. That kind of thing.

After seeing so many bikes,
I really, really want one of my own.
With a basket.
And flowers.
Just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I Thought of Cheryl and Pushed On

Have you read the memoir, "Wild," by Cheryl Strayed? It's about her quest to hike the Pacific Coast Trail - by herself - when she was in her 20s. She planned the trip pretty well. She had packed resupply boxes and left them with a friend to mail to towns along the way. She packed PLENTY of gear in her monster backpack. But in reality, she wasn't prepared for such a daunting task. Challenges pursued her relentlessly, yet she kept putting one foot in front of the other as she tried to reach her goal.

I haven't done anything quite that challenging, but I did have to pull from the book last Sunday when my husband and I went kayaking on a lake. Silly me did not wear sunscreen; I thought the chance of rain would keep the sky cloudy. And while we had a little head wind on our way to the other side of the lake, the tail wind I was expecting wasn't there when we made our return trip back to the dock. 

It was a big lake.
And I was hot.
And my arms were tired as I paddled my way across the lake.

That was when I thought about Cheryl Strayed and how she tackled that trail. Sometimes you have to dig deep and sometimes you have to dig even deeper to get where you're going. You have to quiet the voice in your head - you know, the negative one that tries to tell you that something is too hard or difficult to accomplish. Instead, you have to tell yourself that this, too, can be done.

My challenge was rowing across a lake. I got sunburned. Nothing else. But it still helped to think about Cheryl and how she propelled herself forward day after day.

If you haven't read 'Wild,' you might want to give it a look. You won't want the journey to end. I promise.

Here are a few photographs I took on my little kayaking adventure. (Oh, and while kayaking in a lake keeps the whole put-in, take-out car puzzle simple, I will never again take the flow of a river for granted!)

He was taking a photograph, too

His view:

I think he's developing quite an eye for this!


Friday, July 19, 2013


We thought we would be escaping the heat when we flew to Michigan this past week, but instead I guess some of it sneaked into my suitcase and hopped out the minute we landed. Other than that minor little flaw, I have to tell you that this past week was a perfect near-end to my summer. 

Our first stop was Mackinac Island. It was a photographer's dream if you like taking pictures of bikes. Oh, and sailboats.

While we were there, we got to see the cousins.

Hannah likes to think of them as her little brothers. I think she would hide them in her suitcase and bring them home with her if they would fit.

We're home now, so that means sifting through the photos, unpacking, and (yikes) even painting my kitchen next week. And catching up with blogs. It seems like it's been forever!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Spy....

Remember playing "I Spy?" when you were a kid? My daughter and I would play that game every time we ate at a local 'home-style' restaurant when she was little. With heaps of vegetables on our plates, we would take turns saying "I spy something.... " until the other one guessed it. 

The other day, I spied a cluster of Black-Eyed Susans basking in the golden sunshine.

 And last year I spied this sunflower doing the same thing!

What have you spied lately?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sometimes It Takes More Than Willpower.

Sometimes it takes common sense.

I say that because today I was super stubborn and wasn't going to go down without a fight. I had big plans. I was going to take the kayak out to the lake by myself. I managed to haul it up to the top of the Escape and connect one of the straps to secure it. I was feeling pretty good by then. But the other strap just would not work even though I messed with it and fussed with it and fussed at it.

In the shade or in the house. Click. It worked.
In the hot sun where the Escape was parked. Nada. Zip. 

Early on, my husband called and suggested that I just put the kayak in the back of the SUV and let it hang out of the back window. No. I was not going to give up. I liked those jazzy straps, and I didn't want those straps to get the best of me. I wanted to win.

So I kept at it. For two.long.hours.

I finally texted my husband and told him I had five more minutes of patience. After that, I was through. And that's when he pulled into the driveway.

I showed him what a great job I had done on that first strap. It was perfect. It had clicked into place and the back of the kayak was secure. And then I showed him the other one. Slack. Listless. Not performing adequately at all.

And then I watched common sense take over. He moved the back seats out of the way, took the kayak off the roof of the car and slid it through the back window. 

Just like that. Within minutes. My battle was won. Not by sheer willpower and stubborn determination. Nope. By common sense.

Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos summed it up pretty well for me....

"If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution to a problem you're trying to solve." 

I met that wall today, so thanks, Jeff (and hubby). I'll try to remember that.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Finding Peace

I hijacked my daughter's iPad and played with the drawing app. (I've decided to gift her with a stylus as soon as I can.)

I finally had to give up on drawing her eyes open with just my fingertip. After many do-overs, I had to settle for this expression. When I looked back at it, I decided that she looked content. And it got me to thinking.... Feeling content with one's life has got to be one of the greatest joys we can hope for.

So, I hope you find your peace today... that you soak up a giant amount of contentment. It may be easy to grab hold of, or you may have to dig deep to find it. But I hope you experience it in spite of what life throws at you sometimes.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Here's a great question

for procrastinators or for anyone else who is a little timid about jumping into something new....

Sometimes when I hear that question, I shrug my shoulders, not yet ready to jump in. At other times, it plants itself a little more firmly in my mind and gives me a glimpse of what could happen if I actually immerse myself into all of the potentiality that exists. If I actually give my ideas the wings they need to fly.

At other times, it nudges me in another way. Like, 'If I don't fold the clothes now, when will I?' or 'If I don't cook dinner now, when will we finally sit down to eat?' (Which is very helpful when you're a procrastinator or are busy editing photos on your iPhone.... just sayin'.)

This photo is one I took last year when we were in Jamaica. It was dusk, and this one guy was about to venture into the ocean.... He had been waiting all week for the conditions to be safe enough, and that night, they were.

My husband joined him for this adventure. 

I stayed on shore. To take pictures. The ocean was a little too dark and creepy for me by then.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Recycled...

this 4th of July card because I still have
a baby bird nesting on my front porch. 

And that's okay this year.