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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Christmas Card

Years ago a family friend, Tom, sent us a Christmas card with a black and white photo on the front. It was a picture that was taken of his family Christmas tree when he was growing up. It's one of my favorite all time Christmas cards and the photo is so simple and beautiful. The tree was spindly and plain. That's what I love about it. Unwrapped presents lay under it. It reminds me of my childhood Christmases.

Tom's card was my inspiration for The Christmas Card still life photo. I thought about each year how we use to sit down with a cuppa something and pen our cards to family and friends. These days my husband 'writes' our Christmas letter on the computer and we email to most and mail to those without email. It's not as personal but we still reach out to our loved ones with news of the year. That's important to us.
Here is a close-up of the metal container I recently purchased at a craft fair. I fell in love with it's simplicity. Just like the tree. 


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Love Grows Wild

No photo to share today but instead a blog worth sharing. While cruising a Pinterest board I made a wonderful discovery for a DIY project. It led me to Love Grows Wild.

Back in the day I was more into DIY projects but have grown away from them over the years. OK, I just buy stuff instead. Easier. BUT this website has me excited about heading to the local hardware/lumber and craft stores for supplies.

Click on the Project Gallery tab for photos of some pretty amazing projects. The blog owner, Liz, has separated projects by three themes:
  • Home Projects
  • Crafts
  • Holidays & Seasons
A couple that caught my eye are How to Make Rope Letters and DIY Photo Clipboards .

I'd like to make the clipboards a different size and paint them distressed white. She also shows you how to distress by clicking on other projects.

It would be fun to make the word Wine or Chef out of rope for wall art. She says you have to make the words short so they don't sag and suggests tiny nails at key points in the letters when attaching them to the wall. You could probably even paint the rope. White or black maybe. Hmmm.... Lots of possibilities.

Oh, and recipes too! There are some vegetarian dishes as well. I'd love to try the Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo, 30 Minute Fresh Tomato Marinara, and Spicy Cilantro Shrimp with Honey Lime Dipping Sauce, with or without the sauce or substitute light sour cream. Yum.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Peaceful White

There is something so peaceful about the color white. When you go outside after a big snow, you know how quiet it is? That's what white is. A room filled with white is calming and refreshing at the same time.

The birch candle holder was made by my friend Sharon's husband for a garden club fundraising event. I love the texture and the way the bark peels, the color and feel of it.

A recent class assignment for My Still Sunday at was Shades of White and Still Side Light. My Still Sunday is not only about still life photography but also about the quiet and calm. When setting up and taking photos of still life I forget everything else except what's in front of me. I look through the view finder, adjust my position or elements in the scene, take a photo, repeat. It's just me, the camera and the elements. Simple, quiet, still. I love that.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Treasures From Grandfathers

I love photographing special treasures that mean something personally. The pocket watch belonged to my husband's Grandpa Lawrence. The slate board belonged to my Grandpa Proctor whom I never met. He used it as a schoolboy and his name is carved on the other side.
The vintage math book and key were among my mother's collection. She loved collecting 'old-timey' things. Since I was the only one in the family that expressed a keen interest in old things she would occasionally pass them my way when she was thinning out her cupboards. My favorite treasure she picked up at a garage sale was a vintage crib quilt that was hand pieced and quilted. She paid a dollar for it.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

New Purse Love

I belong to the Arlington Garden Club in Arlington, Washington. This is an amazing group of ladies and gentlemen but that's not what this is about. The club hosts an annual event each fall, the Holiday Garden Art and Crafts. We invite local vendors to sell their high quality handcrafted items. It was there that I found THE purse!

Karen Young of Frill handcrafted this to-die-for purse. It's made of Pendleton wool and the colors are so yummy. She took time to show me her many beautiful purses on display but I just couldn't take my eyes off this one. You can tell Karen takes great pride in her work because of the high quality and design. I will love this purse for many year to come. It makes me happy just to look at it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Autumn Bird Nest

Today was an extremely dark, wet and dreary day so I decided to cheer myself up by doing a little still life photography. Not the best lighting to work with by any means but doable.

This summer a mamma bird made the sweetest nest in my garden shed, completely protected from the elements. She laid three eggs. My husband and I were protective of the nest and made sure the cats wouldn't disturb it. The babies quickly grew strong and flew away. After the nest was removed I looked closely and found it had been constructed primarily from a coco fiber planter lining I had stashed away in the shed. It made for a very sturdy nest! I tucked it in among the flowers in my tall wooden planters on the front porch.

For this week's My Still Sunday Class on Kim Klassen's website the prompt was to photograph some of the nature gatherings from last week's class. Also, we were to shoot from the top looking down. I used a rustic table, also from the front porch, the nest, a Japanese maple branch, some branches with lichen, some weeds that had gone to seed and a bit of tea-stained cotton trim. I robbed a bird feather and three fake eggs from a couple of imitation bird nests I have around the house. Of course, this time of year birds aren't laying eggs and I wouldn't rob eggs from a nest anyway! I found just enough light to take the above photo.

I love how this turned out. And of course I returned the nest back to the front porch where it will find itself among evergreen branches I will add to the planter for the holidays.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It Started With A Brownie

I stopped by a local thrift store to see if I could find some props for photographing still life. I'm not a great treasure shopper as it usually involves careful observation and often digging to find that special something. Typically I'm a surface shopper and if I don't see 'it' right away I'm outta there.

This time was different. My mission was to purposefully scour and slowly take in all the details. I found some sweet little white ceramic containers and a couple of softly aged white woven cotton towels. Among a stack of worn out cameras I spied an amazing, yet very dusty and neglected vintage Brownie camera. It had seen better days but I could see potential for a still life photograph.

The camera is a No. 2 Folding Autograpic Brownie made by Eastman Kodak. From the serial number I discovered it's from the early to mid 1920's. They stopped making this model camera in 1926. It took me about an hour of careful cleaning as it had layers of dust and grime covering it and some pieces were fragile and flaking. 

From YouTube I found out details such as where the film was loaded and how to adjust the aperture and shutter speed. There is a flap on the back that opens so you could write on the photograph, thus the name Autographic Brownie. The stylus used to 'sign' the photos is typically missing but mine is rusted to the holder. Bonus!

Today I photographed a still life with the Brownie as the star. The blurred photograph in the background includes my mom (second from the right) who was born in 1919 and her older sister (second from the left) taken in the early 20's. They are pictured with their cousins. The pen, doily and old book were my mother's. The wash table they are sitting on belonged to my husband's grandmother. 

This still life makes me feel nostalgic and reminds me how much I miss having my mother to talk to. She would have loved this.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Green Smoothie Love

OK, so this is an older photo. From 2013. But it speaks of my love for green smoothies. I have one for breakfast almost daily and sometimes for lunch too. The smoothie pictured was made using my Cuisinart blender and it did a pretty decent job. But I have since upgraded to a Vitamix, a purchase I will never regret. It makes the best and smoothest smoothies :-)

A resource I recommend to everyone for green smoothie recipes and other smoothie inspiration is Tracy Russell's website 
I've used her many recipes and 'ice cream' made with frozen bananas and frozen fruit (amazing treat!). I don't use smoothies for weight loss but love them for nutrition, taste and convenience. Over the past couple years I've pretty much relied on my own standby formula but occasionally go to Tracy's website for some variation when I feel like making something new. Here is my basic recipe:

Tina's Basic Smoothie
1 banana
1 orange OR 1 pear (core removed)
1 to 2 cups frozen fruit, partially thawed in the microwave
1 large handful of either spinach or kale (2-3 leaves if not chopped) - I alternate my greens
1 T flax seed, ground OR 2 T Chia seeds (ground or soaked) OR 2 T Goji Berries (soaked)
1/2 tsp. vanilla, almond or other flavoring
Cinnamon to taste (I love it so use a lot!)
Almond milk (I make my own) - just enough to make it loose and whirl easily

Add all to a blender just until smooth. Don't over-blend.

Extra smoothie advice:

Sweetness: Using ripe bananas and pears makes for a sweeter smoothie. If you want more sweetness add pineapple or dates.

Frozen Fruit: I buy frozen fruit in big bags from Costco (my favorite store!). They have a wonderful variety and good prices. Purchase bags of blueberries, strawberries, peaches, cherries, mixed berries (love!!), tropical mix, mangos, pineapple and whatever else they come up with. Mix and match! Thawing or partially thawing frozen fruits in the microwave helps bring out their flavor.

Spinach/Kale: I buy pre-washed spinach in big containers. Kale can be purchased in a bunch or chopped in a bag. If you're using a less powerful blender it's best to strip the leafy part off the stalk and use that. Or break it off just below the green. Wash whole kale.

Nutritious Additions: Flax seed, Chia seeds and Goji berries all add a nutritional punch so I alternate them in my smoothies. I own a small inexpensive electric grinder which works perfect for grinding whole flax seeds (don't buy pre-ground) and Chia seeds. Sometimes I soak Chia seeds in approx. 1/4 cup warm water to fluff them up instead of grinding. Soak about 5 minutes. It's hard to push those little buggers into the water so grinding is usually easier. Warning - If you don't soak the Chias they tend to thicken smoothies so add a little more almond milk or water. Goji berries are soaked in just enough water to cover them. Again, about 5 minutes and they also tend to thicken smoothies. Use the water you soak them in as well. If your smoothie thickens on you before you finish simply grab a spoon and 'eat' it.

Almond Milk: Ultimate Smoothies website shows how to make your own almond milk. I have to admit I haven't tried it with a less powerful blender but the Vitamix handles the job easily. I like knowing that the only ingredients in my almond milk are almonds, water and vanilla.

Organic: Use organic whenever possible.

Blender: If using a lower powered blender make sure to cut your ingredients into smaller pieces. You may have to stop the blender occasionally to stir it up so it blends better. Also, using the pulse feature is helpful.

Not all green smoothies are green. If you add dark fruit such as cherries or mixed berries you could end up with dark purple or even a brownish color smoothie. They all taste good :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Starting Over

Time to start fresh.

I'm taking a new direction with an ALL NEW Me Discovery!

We all occasionally need to take a breather from the old and start over. I've erased all the old posts from my 'old' Me Discovery blog. It's content will now be about things that make my heart sing and finding wonder and joy in the everyday. You know, that feel good stuff!

I've been discovering all sorts of wonderful new treasures on the internet that I plan to share along the way. Old hobbies are being revisited and current ones are being reinvented. I'll post info about these as well as photos. And I promise to keep things short and sweet.
Still life photography has recently become a new interest. After taking a still life photography class online from Kim Klassen I fell in love with the art. It's new to me so I need to practice, practice, practice.

The beautiful dahlia arrangement came to me as winner in a raffle at our last garden club meeting. A very special long time member donated the American Beauty complete with flag and greens. I knew it had to be my first attempt at still life. The flower has since faded but will be kept alive in my memory with a little help from this photo.

Dream big,