What I Learned in April

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 27, 2015

The end of another month is upon us!  Here are five things that I learned in April:

1. April is National Grilled Cheese Month. This was a great excuse to fix grilled cheese and tomato soup for my family!

2. That sometimes TV teaches you new words. I heard "collusion" twice in one night! Webster's 1828 gives the following definition for collusion "In law, a deceitful agreement or compact between two or more persons, for the one party to bring an action against the other." I've never heard of this word in my life, but one night I heard it in two different shows that we watched. (A Place to Call Home and The Twilight Zone)

via                                                                                                       via 

3. Dressage actually refers to English style equestrian events and not an event where the horse and rider are dressed up in costumes. I've lived 24 years thinking the exact opposite. Thankfully, my Mom cleared this up for me as we were sitting outside of a gas station last Monday

4. Essential oils are not as weird as I thought. Confession: I've had two warts on my hand for most of a year. Recently, I noticed another one. I have no idea where they came from, but they weren't going away. SOOO, my Mom (She's the best, I tell you!) pulled out her reference book and put together a blend. Needless to say, IT WORKED! 

via - Be sure to check out her SALE!

5. Rosemary is good for memory.  Like I said, maybe there really is something to essential oils! I haven't tested this one out yet. If the adage has been around since Shakespeare's time, it must be true!

PS - I happened upon the Blue Poppy etsy shop as I was looking for a graphic with Shakespeare's quote and found that they're having a pretty good sale! If you're looking for a quote to add to your gallery wall, check her out! 

What did you learn this month?

Did you already know about any of the things I learned?

You can also find me over at 
The Quiet Place talking about gratitude today!


Lens Revolution: Creating Depth

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

This week's assignment focuses on creating depth in our photos. Samantha pointed out four key ways to do this: include foreground, look for leading lines, shoot in portrait, and look for overlapping. 

I took my camera out into my backyard to get some shots, but then I remembered some really great shots I took on a vacation we took last summer! I'll save the backyard shots for another day.

With the exception of the very first picture in this post, all shots were taken with my Canon Rebel XTi which was equipped with the kit lens. The first shot was taken with my point and shoot camera which is a Canon SX110.

This week's assignment reminded me that including foreground is the most confusing way for me to create depth. Unless it gets in there on accident, the foreground generally looks like it should be cropped out in my shots! My favorite ways to create depth are to make sure the shot includes the mood of the sky or to use lines that show just what is really going on.

Some of these photos originally appeared in this post and I really can't pick a favorite!

Be sure to check Samantha's blog for the next assignment

The Lens Revolution at Through * For * By:

Week Three: Understanding Lighting (n/a)
Week Four: Tri-Pod Selfies (n/a)
Week Five: Composition 

Waste Basket Memories

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

June 4, 2014

"I've been going over things in my mind. I call them 'waste basket memories'....I thought I had put them out of my mind, but they're there and I can pull them up again." 

Like most of the conversations with Alice that stick out to me, I have no idea how this one got started. She was sitting in her chair and I was sitting in a chair facing her. All of a sudden, I started repeating the words in my mind as she was saying them because I didn't want to forget them.

At 91, Alice has all kinds of memories and now she has all kinds of time. These memories come to her mind from out of nowhere. Lately, I guess she's had reason to go over some of the less pleasant ones. I don't know if she's pulling them out on purpose or if things are reminding her of them, but the fact is, she calls them "waste basket memories" for a reason.

91 year old Alice is struggling with them a little bit, but 15 year old Alice and 23 year old Alice and 40 year old Alice all knew what to do with them. As the memories were made, she put them into the waste basket which was right where they belonged. Up until recently, most of those memories were all but forgotten. I'm sure she pulled some of them out every now and then, but it never did any good so she threw them right back away.

When Alice talks, I listen. We all have our fair share of memories that are better off forgotten. A day may come when we find ourselves with a lot of time to sit and stew, but I pray that we all remember Alice's words about waste basket memories. There's no going back to change or fix anything. Let's take the memories that belong in the waste basket and leave them right where they belong.

Just like Alice's memories, they'll still be in our minds, but let's hear the regret in her voice at 91 and learn to just let them be.

A Month of Saturdays: March

Monday, April 27, 2015

The four Saturdays of March were pretty fantastic! March gave us all kinds of weather here in the PNW. The flowers popped up to join in on the celebration, my friend Heidi had her baby, and the regular rhythms of life continued.

The first Saturday of March called for lots of time outside. My sister begged me to play speedminton and I'm so glad she did. Before long, we paused for ice cream and some reading on the back patio.

March 14 called for driving all over hill and dale. We went to do some shopping, had a quick lunch at McDonald's, and then went to visit my friend Heidi and her brand new baby in the hospital. The day was long and tiring, but it was one of the best!

The third weekend was a bit of a doozy. My sister was gone at a 4-H thing and I found myself at home with a brother who had editing projects to work on and a Mom who was perfectly content to sit at the kitchen table reading, studying, and working on lesson plans. It was too cold to be outside, so I watched far too many episodes of A Place To Call Home. Thankfully, they agreed to join me for chili cheese dogs that night! :)

The last weekend picked right back up again. I did a bunch of spring cleaning outside and inside. My favorite project was the deep cleaning that happened in my room. I vacuumed and dusted and cleaned the windows and got rid of every piece of clutter. I had to take a couple of pictures of my desk area to celebrate!

See what I mean? March was pretty fantastic!

What's your favorite way to spend a Saturday?

What show do you find yourself watching multiple episodes of at a time?

Buried Secrets

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I have a handful of favorite authors. I watch for their books to be released so that I am sure not to miss anything. When I was offered a review copy of Irene Hannon's latest release, I didn't even have to stop to think about accepting! Hannon's books are always suspenseful and I never tire of the plots that she weaves together.

"Buried Secrets" is a book that will keep you guessing. Just when I thought I had something figured out, a new detail would surface and I was forced to think things through once more. I don't want to give any spoilers, so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you that "Buried Secrets" will not disappoint.

I enjoyed the way that plot unfolded even though it seemed like it was a little slow going at first. This is one of those books that flashes back and forth a little bit. The main characters face a pretty typical dilemma, but Hannon takes off as soon as the ground work is laid. You'll find yourself excited to keep reading!

You should know that this is the very first book in a new series! If you haven't read Hannon before, this might be a good book to start with because it will give you something to look forward to. I think it would make an especially good summer read!

Grab your copy here.

 Have you read any of Irene Hannon's books before?

What's the newest release you've read?

*I received a review copy from the publisher and all thoughts are my own honest opinion.

Lens Revolution: Composition

Friday, April 24, 2015

I got some really great shots for Samantha's latest Lens Revolution assignment! Composition is the element of photography that allows the most freedom. I love playing around with it and trying to figure out why photographers chose the set up that they did.

The challenge this week was to play around with four types of shots. I went outside to my favorite little tree because it happens to be showing off right now. These were taken on a cloudless day with my Canon Rebel XTi equipped with a 55-250mm zoom lens.

Let me know which shot is your favorite!

I've always known that I tend to take shots according to the "rules". My pictures are usually composed according to the rule of thirds and I like to zoom in so that I leave very little negative space. As a blogger, negative space comes in handy when creating graphics. I've really wanted to work on that style simply because it doesn't come naturally to me.

This week's challenge forced me to play with negative space. I'm pretty sure that that last shot is my absolute favorite.  I learned more about my style and also got to go through about 50 shots to see what I feel works and what just doesn't work for me. 

Be sure to check out Samantha's blog for the next assignment

The Lens Revolution at Through * For * By:

Week Three: Understanding Lighting (n/a)
Week Four: Tri-Pod Selfies (n/a)


Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 22, 2015

The last few weeks have been FULL in the best way. I have so many things to share with all of you.     I've been working in the flower beds (weed patrol), reading so many good books (The Book Thief, The Giver, The Island of Dr. Libris, and The Eyre Affair), spring cleaning, and discovering new things on tv (Life With Elizabeth and Mr. and Mrs. Murder). I got to go to my friend Heidi's house three times over the last month and her daughter spent five days at our house. CYT classes have started up again. It's spring and life is moving at exactly one million miles an hour.

My sister will be 17 a week from tomorrow! She continues to amaze me with who she is becoming. She wants sheet music, Sue Thomas on DVD, a palomino, and peace in her life. That girl reminds me so much of myself at 17. Every day is bursting at the seams with places to be and jobs to be done. She's trying to figure out where she is going in this life and how she'll get there. The uncertainties overwhelm her at times, but then she stops and realizes that it's all going to be okay. 

Meanwhile, my friend Alice turned 91 two weeks ago. I've been trying to spend more time with her because I know how much it means to her and I don't know how much longer we'll have. On my visit last week, she brought up what she called "waste basket memories". I've been going over her words in my mind and I'm looking forward to writing about them here. 

Life and blogging can be strange. Sometimes the balance is easy and comes naturally. Other times, it seems like we're forced to choose between the two. You know how it goes. Here's to not waiting 20 days before I post again! :)

What have you been up to?

What did you get for your 17th birthday? 

The Reason Why

Friday, April 03, 2015

January 25, 2015

"...for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me [Jesus Christ] and have believed that I came from God." John 16:27

I've been going through the book of John over the last few days. Today, that verse in chapter 16 stopped me in my tracks. I've read over it countless times, but on Good Friday 2015, I realized that Jesus Christ made clear the REASON for God's love. 

Scripture tells us that the fulness of God dwelt in the person of Jesus. That's what made Him THE Christ. Everyone did not believe that. That's what made them gather together with shouts of, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" 

Sometimes I wonder what that day was like... What did those who DID believe go home thinking? What was it like for the sky to go dark and for the earth to quake? Were there people IN the temple? How far away could the voice of Christ be heard?

Today, Christians throughout the world are remembering the day their Savior died. We are contemplating what He did and looking forward to celebrating what came next in just a few days. That Friday was good because it was a day that the glory of God was on display. Nearly two thousand years later, we haven't forgotten. 

May we praise God for making Himself known to us. May we praise Christ for taking the wrath of God that we deserve for our sin. May we praise the Holy Spirit for teaching us what He received from Christ. As we love Christ and have believed that He came from God, may we know that that is the reason for the Father's love for us. 

We go by the name "Christian" for a reason....On this, the day He died, may we pause to ponder yet another facet of exactly what He accomplished.  

Lens Revolution: Understanding ISO

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Samantha's Lens Revolution is a chance for me to challenge myself and to learn more about what makes for a great photo.  

When I found out that this week's challenge would involve ISO, I decided to take my gear outside! I chose a shady spot where the early morning sun was coming over my shoulder from behind me. I used my Canon Rebel XTi, a 50mm lens, and my brother's tripod. 

In each shot, the aperture was 1.8 and the shutter speed was 1/1000*, the only thing I changed was the ISO.


ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600 

When I first got my DLSR, ISO was the first thing I learned about. It is the element of photography that I have the deepest understanding of. Basically, the more light that is available the better. The better the lighting, the lower the ISO and the cripser your image is going to be. If the light is poor, you're going to need to have a higher ISO.

The toughest part about this week's assignemnt was NOT messing with the shutter speed! I've gotten used to shooting in all kinds of light conditions. The secret to creating good photos is choosing the right ISO and then complementing it with the best shutter speed. I mess with the shutter speed without even thinking about it. *It turns out, the shots with an ISO of 800 and 1600 actually have a shutter speed of 1/4000. Oops!  

And this guy gets to make an appearance because he really wanted to be in the pictures! He followed me all around the yard while I was wandering around deciding what I should shoot.

Which of these pictures do you like the most?

Have you ever taken part in a photography class or challenge?

What element of photography comes easiest for you?

The Lens Revolution at Through * For * By:

Week One: Understanding Aperture and Shutter Speed

Be sure to check out Samantha's blog for next week's assignment!

Currently: April 2015

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

March 29, 2015
You guys, I went all out and spring cleaned my room on Saturday! The closet is jam packed and there is still a corner of papers and books and STUFF that needs to be dealt with. BUT, for the most part, everything is SPARKLY and CLEAN. I also cleaned up my cutting garden and sorted out all my gardening tools and seeds. It was a productive day which got me in the mood for a few more projects!

Let's hit the pause button on all of that to link up with Jenna and Anne! I'm currently:

Wearing: Gardening gloves. Dressing for spring is always soooo confusing because you never know what the weather is going to do. The one thing that IS predictable is the time I will be spending in the garden!

Sipping: Mostly water. I've been craving chocolate malts a lot and I did have one of those!

Wishlisting: Another trip south. :)

Writing: More guest posts than usual these days. It's a good kind of pressure! Be sure to visit my latest post over at The Quiet Place. :)

Exploring: Calligraphy and 18 Hour Sourdough Bread making.

What are you up to?