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I have this nifty new camera that I’m gung ho to practice with but no one in my family wants their photo taken.  What’s a girl to do?  Ask the neighbours if I can practice on them, that’s what.

Meet RL, a colourful character who LOVES to pose for the camera.  I had so much fun with this willing subject.

She strummed her guitar pillow with gusto for me

and finished her performance with a bold pose.

She had no problems donning a hat

or braving the elements for me.  The umbrella was her idea.  Love it!

She moved all over her multi-hued room for me.

When I was stumbling around for fresh ideas, she wasn’t.  She asked for this shot with the lipstick.

Now meet B, RL’s good friend.

She’s a happy lass who jumped at the chance to wear RL’s hot pink boa.

She didn’t mind putting on a hat for me either

or showing me her teenage crush.

She was so cute outside with the umbrella.

You know what the best part of this story is?  The girls had such a blast with this photo shoot that they’ve invited me back again next weekend for another one.  We’ve got some big ideas brewing for take # 2.  Oh…just for the record…I had a blast too and wouldn’t miss a chance for another session with these two.

It’s not often that I’m given a lot of time to myself.  Today was an exception.  The boys are at Pioneer Camp this weekend on a church retreat and DA is working his usual lengthy weekend hours.  The only thing on the agenda for me was to deliver Saturday’s newspapers, a task that only takes about three and a half hours.  The whole afternoon was open for me to do whatever I wanted to.

My first stop was the Festival of Trees at the Orillia Sqaure Mall.  I wish that I had had my camera with me.  If I did, you would be seeing picture after picture of gorgeously decorated trees and wreaths.  You can buy tickets to win them but it was enough for me to just gape in wonder at them for as long as I wanted to.  I don’t know who the Festival of Trees volunteers are but I do know that they are seriously talented at putting together beautiful Christmas trees and wreaths.  I can only wish that my own tree, hidden away in the basement this year, was so amazingly dressed.

Most of what went on the tree came from DA’s grandma’s stash that was handed down to us last year.  I can’t say that I’m particularly enamoured with red but I did have some fun trying to photograph some of the pretty ornaments we were given.

Next stop was a quick trip to Dollarama where I found more than I bargained for and got a surprise text from DA.  Turns out he’s getting off work a little early today and feels like cooking a special meal for the two of us.  Who could say “no” to that!  I used my Dollarama extras to set the stage for what I’m sure will be an amazing meal.

There are now glittery stars hanging from the chandelier

and black placemats highlighting our pretty place settings.

I also managed to squeeze in an outdoor foray with my camera.  It didn’t yield much.  It’s been raining here a lot lately and things are still very brown and dead looking.  I did find some beauty in the way the water collected and shone off this green groundcover.

All in all, it’s been a very relaxing and pleasant day and it isn’t even over yet.   I still have dining in style and an evening with my sweetie to look forward to.  Mine is a beautiful life.

I saved up A LOT of used dryer sheets to make this wreath.

The spent dryer sheets, which look a little like mulberry paper to me, are simply pinned to a used (and broken) styrofoam circle.  The candles are propped up with an old cookie tin turned upside down so the gold side shows on top.  I put a strand of Christmas beads in there too just to try and jazz it up a bit.  It makes a kind of fluffy centerpiece.

It doesn’t look half bad when you turn the lights down low.

I took my new camera outside yesterday, not because it was especially pretty out, but because the weather was reasonably warm and I wanted to practice with it.

What was green and verdant in July is now brown and not very picturesque.  November is not the best month to buy a new camera if you like taking nature shots.

The most interesting thing I found to shoot were these Goldenrod galls.

I didn’t know what they were initially.  My super smart husband informed me that they’re insect galls.  Together we found out that the gall I photographed is home to a Goldenrod fly larva.  Apparently the larva digs an escape tunnel in late fall or early winter so that it can emerge as an adult fly in the spring.  I will have to go back and see if any of the galls in the swampy part behind our house have tiny holes in them.  I’ve seen these things often but never realized that a miracle of nature was happening inside them.  Those little larva freeze over winter and yet transform into adulthood come spring.  How interesting.

It was so sunny and calm on Sunday, the shadows were mirror images in the flooded parts of the woods.

Shadows have a way of catching my eye.

Someone had plucked this lovely mushroom exposing its gorgeous gills (or lamellae if you really want to get technical).

There’s so little that really grabs my attention this time of year that I really have to look hard for stuff to photograph.  I’m not complaining about that.  The very act of looking for beauty where it’s not immediately evident is a good exercise in itself.  I always come away better for it.

We are slowly progressing putting P’s bedroom together again.  On Thursday, DA laboured alone cutting and fitting the trim.  He did his best to clean up after his work but was a bit pressed for time so it still needed a fair bit of doing when I got home from work.  Tired as I was, I was eager to get at it.  I had a willing helper in P.  We vacuumed and scrubbed and then set about reassembling his bed.  P ran out of steam before I did but even my enthusiasm couldn’t keep me going.  Turns out I’m fighting some sort of bug that has sapped me of my strength.  Still, we are making progress.  Here’s the part of the room that could be photographed:

The boy now has a bed, a desk, a bedside “table” , a lamp and some hockey wall art to adorn his room.  There’s a partly assembled fish tank by his bed that will one day hold his pet snake.  He’s diligently saving for it and at the current rate it will only be a few more weeks before he can afford a ball python.  I’m not overly thrilled about it but it should fit in nicely in this very masculine looking bedroom.  As long as snakey stays in the very masculine looking bedroom, this mom should live to see this project finished.

I’ve been wanting to experiment with my new camera but it’s been difficult.  There are always more pressing things to do and the people I most want to immortalize are not exactly lining up for the process.  A couple of days ago, in a rare moment of quiet, I decided to try and capture some of my Christmas angels.  Indoor lighting has traditionally been a challenge for me.  There never seems to be enough of it to get good quality shots.

She’s so pretty I felt that she deserved a Piknik frame.  I’ve decided to go with red as my predominant colour this year and this angel certainly is red.

Here she is a little closer up with a slightly less bluish cast.  I’m still finding it difficult to get crisp shots in low light.  There is a way; I just haven’t stumbled on it yet.  As for the colours, it’s kind of nice to have a camera that can adjust them.  Emphasizing blue or gold in a shot can really change the feel of the picture.

I overexposed this shot but it gives this white angel a kind of dreamy feel.

I also took some shots of my fireplace mantel which is loaded with pretty things.  I really like these little birdies but I was a little off in my focus again.

I also like to add some height to my display.  These candlesticks do the job nicely.  It’s all very traditional in my living room but it seems to suit the feel of the place.  Again, the low lighting proved tricky and the shot didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped it would.

I had to wait four hours yesterday while my van got some much needed work done on it.  Even though I had just spent three hours pounding the sidewalks delivering papers, I decided to spend some of the time going for a walk.  I wound up at Home Hardware and found these pretty red star napkin rings in their bargain section.  They found a place in my heart and will grace our Christmas table this year.  I feel that I got the focus better in this shot.

I can’t ever take just one shot of anything.  That’s the beauty of having a digital camera.  You can go snap happy until you get a shot you’re happy with.  Again, I was pleased with the improved focus in this photo.  Practice makes perfect.

This decidedly different shot was taken by D.  He just couldn’t resist all the buttons on my new baby and pressed away.  I don’t know why, but there’s something about it that I really like.  Maybe I need to let him experiment a little more.

That’s it for now.  Hopefully, I’ll get outside sometime soon and find something I want to take a picture of.  It’s pretty challenging this time of year when everything is brown and dead looking.  Ah well, I trust it won’t be brown for much longer.  Sooner or later God will get his white paintbrush out and I’ll see how the Nikon d3000 likes that.

I want to enjoy my home.  I spend a lot of time there and it’s important to me that it’s a place I can live with.  I’m always tinkering trying to make things better.   I believe in working slavishly to try and get rooms that I like.  I’m still at the stage where I’m trying.  I expect that one day I’ll get to the place where I feel that I’m succeeding.

One of the hurdles to success is that I always feel compelled to work with what I have.  I won’t spend a dime if I think I have something from who knows where that I can make work somehow.  It’s kind of like a disease, I think, and I’m not sure it’s curable.

Here’s the zero dollar attempt at the main level bath:

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I had to step into the shower to get this stellar shot. (LOL!)

I lined my crazy collection of “silverware” art with various green paper (which I have a lot of) and some gift tags I got at the Dollar Store.  It sort of pulls them all together even if they are hung a little crookedly.  (I’ll try to fix that later.)  I then added some of our growing collection of nutcrackers to the mix.  We get a new one every year and I magic marker in the date on the bottom.  To simplify my life, I now buy the first one that goes for half price at Zeller’s.  They always pick one to go on sale in November.  I don’t know why we started this silly trend.  I think it’s because the boys find nutcrackers kind of cool.

I had to laugh when D and P told me it was kind of weird peeing with four little guys staring at them.  I hadn’t thought of that.  They’re only in my range of vision when I enter the bathroom.  Decorating is a matter of perspective.  What was quaint to me was weird to them.

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Everyone is liking this cute Christmas addition.  I had to ditch two houseplants this year and didn’t know what to do with the pots.  Stacked and turned upside down they seemed to make a perfect stool for DA’s Christmas Kermit.  You can’t help but smile when you see this dapper fellow on the stairway.  So far, all perspectives agree.

Everywhere I go it’s starting to look a lot like Christmas.  I’m liking it.  Though the weather has been fantastic as of late, I’m finding the lack of colour a bit dreary.  Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to the reds and purples and turquoises of all those ornaments out there.  Since it’s my day off and it was a little drizzly outside and I have some Christmas stuff that I picked up last year after Christmas, I had some fun and started Christmasfying the house.

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My orange dining room got a red tablecloth added to it.  I really like red and orange together.  I also like that my new camera is more truthful than my old one.  My dining room really is this colourful.  I plopped a creamy cake plate on all that joyous red and topped it with a wreath I put together last year from Goodwill bits and some of the many candles I’ve had for years and haven’t lit.

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It makes a festive centerpiece.  Can you tell I’ve been lighting the candles?  Leave me a note saying something like, “Good for you!”.

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Here’s our candlelit meal.  I really like eating by candlelight, even if it’s just the boys and me.

I took the red idea and carried it to the living room.

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It could use a little more but already it’s looking more perky and less subdued.  Looking at this picture, I have to admit that I’m sorely tempted to paint that brick surround and replace that brassy fireplace with something that isn’t so…hmmm…brassy?  I love the artichoke heart walls, the creamy furniture and the brown accents and I can live with the punchy reds for the next few months but that pinkish brick and that goldish fireplace look wrong.  I’m not going to bother though.  Never in a million years will I convince my husband.  Can you believe that when I moved into this home the walls in this room were purple?  I’m not talking eggplant here, I’m talking more like magenta.  Yeah, that had to go.  Anyhoo…I digress.

Christmas.  It’s coming.  When it does, I’ll be ready for it.

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Yup.  That’s me.  This is what I look like when I’m having fun.  I’m a plain Jane wearing a sweater that exaggerates my hips but with that camera in my hand and some changes to my home to take pictures of, I’m happy as a clam.  I haven’t at all figured out how to best use my new camera but I’m going snap happy everywhere my children aren’t trying to learn its secrets and enjoying every minute of it.

 

 

 

This is my new baby, a Nikon D3000 dSLR, photographed by my aging one, a Sony Cybershot 7.2.

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And here is my old camera photographed by the new one:

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There’s quite a difference between the two.

I admit that neither of these shots is amazing.  The old Sony can’t handle indoor lighting and the new Nikon has an inexperienced person as its owner.  I’m looking forward to playing with my new toy and getting to know it a bit better.  It’s a steep uphill learning curve but I believe that the view from the top will be worth the effort of getting there.

 

I have a friend here who is into making cards.  I haven’t seen any of her designs yet but I thought I’d try my hand at making a card for her.  She’s walking a difficult road, one that is all too familiar to me.  A little over a year and a half ago, her husband died of cancer treatment complications.  She is now raising their four year old son on her own.  It’s hard.

I found a quote on-line that was the inspiration for my card.  I really wanted to find a great picture to go with the quote but as hard as I looked, I just couldn’t find what I was looking for.  Frustrated and disappointed, I sat down and drew out my own design from my head.  I NEVER do this.  I thoroughly expected to get even more frustrated and disappointed but somehow I turned out a drawing that I kind of liked.

Here’s the front of the card with inspirational quote on it:

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Here’s the part of the design that I like the best:

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Hands are tricky to draw.  I was very pleased with how this hand turned out.

Here’s a terrible picture of the inside of the card:

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Trials have a way of shaping us, don’t they?  It’s encouraging to know that God is taking the ordinary and using circumstances, even tough ones, to make us extraordinary.

Here’s what’s on the back of the card:

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This little piece of art is not a rendition of some other piece of art.  It’s all my own.

I’m grateful for my artistic talent but at times it seems like the most useless talent ever.  I don’t want some portfolio stuffed with artwork that just sits on a shelf.  I’d rather fan the gift and hope that it can be used to encourage and bless others.  This card is an attempt at that.  Let’s hope that it does what it’s intended to do.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.