Sunday, November 28, 2010

the elephant dinosaur in the room

small square

A family issue has given rise to a whole host of privacy issues when it comes to my blog. While still working out the delicate balance between sharing from the heart and keeping private things private, I wanted you to know more about why I've been so quiet... so I'm just going to stick with the basic facts. An order for protection was recently issued against my sister, barring her from any contact with her husband and their two young children for two years. Keep in mind, I still have a relationship with my brother-in-law and the children and very much want to honor their need for privacy and safety. It is a complicated and heartbreaking situation any way you look at it. And one that requires I post a little more thoughtfully.

Thanks for your patience and prayers.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

a little breathing room

thanksgiving day selfie

With Thanksgiving behind us, I'm feeling a little more wiggle room. We hosted for the first time and I loved all of the scents, sights, and sounds that came with it. I'm down to a handful of photo galleries to edit and then I'm OFF for the rest of the holiday season! Looking forward to spending quality time with those I love. Soaking in all that I'm thankful for. Taking care of things around the home. Helping others.

With the holiday season upon us, my thoughts have turned towards my word for 2011. I'm also gathering scrapbooking ideas for my annual Winter Weekend Scrapbooking Retreat which is right around the corner! Can't wait to spend time with the ladies :)

Speaking of 2011, here's the new new journaling tool I'd promised to share:

memory logbook

I LOVE IT SO MUCH! (You can learn more about it by clicking HERE.) I'm already gathering ideas for pages. Feeling inspired to jot down details of what is happening around me... even while things have been a bit hairy. Bittersweet moments like one that took place yesterday, during a visit with my father-in-law. He hasn't been doing well, a recent fall led to a broken bone in an area made vulnerable by the cancer. Our kids had their first visit with him yesterday. Grandpa reached for my youngest son and asked him to sit on the bed by his side. He just held Ren's hand for the longest time before telling him that he loved him.

It was a tender, emotion-filled moment that spoke volumes... reminding me how precious life is, how easy it is to take TIME for granted. As I've been reminded so many times this year, our most difficult days and seasons are dotted with treasured moments to be embraced. And embracing I am.

I hope you will, too.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

- Reinhold Niebuhr

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

a rant about ranting

tina shadow

Did you know that children who are subjected to constant yelling and screaming can experience serious damage? Whether the fighting is between spouses or anger is directed only at the children, that kind of atmosphere in a home is TOXIC to a child's mental health. From self-esteem issues to behavioral challenges, this 30-year study shows the distinct LASTING IMPRINT of angry outbursts on children.

A pretty sobering read.

I think we could all use some honing of our anger management skills in addition to learning how to effectively communicate with each other. As parents it is crucial we teach our children how to manage feelings of frustration and disappointment, that we become models of healthy behavior ourselves. (Big topic for a Sunday morning, I know.)

I'll be blogging more on this topic in the coming weeks, sharing resources and tips along the way. Stuff about parenting. And marriage. About being (or becoming) healthy from the inside-out. Because that's the stuff on my mind right now :)

In the meantime, pay attention to your voice and tone. The words that you choose when talking to or about anyone. What "fragrance" is radiating from your mouth? Your home? Is it more often sweet or rather something sour? THIS is a great book that offers a lot of insight on the topic.

I'll be back with more later :)

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

changing seasons

throwing leaves

It's amazing how much things can change in just a matter of weeks.

big snow

For those of you waiting on prizes, they'll be going out on Monday! (I apologize for the delay, we've had a number of things going on this week.)

Too, I have a new journaling tool I am very excited to share. I'm knee-deep in edits tonight so I'll be back with details later! Have a great night...

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Friday, November 12, 2010

ten questions


idea book

Earlier this week, I promised to also share some journaling helps. This prize drawing winner will receive a copy of the book, Ten Questions: A Simple Guide to Capturing Real Life in Albums. In addition to dozens of page layout ideas and sketches, you'll find a zillion journaling prompts written in batches of ten (ten questions about adoption, someone special, your great life, sports, etc.).


To enter the prize drawing, just add a comment to this post sharing something you struggle with when it comes to scrapbooking and/or journaling. What would you like help with? Are you looking for more time, inspirational page layout ideas, album or other organizing tips? If you're in a rut, what seems to be your biggest issue?

A winner will be chosen tomorrow! (BTW, prizes will be sent out after all of the winners have been chosen in case you win multiple drawings.)

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welcome winter



With a rumored SIX INCHES of snow on the way, I thought a winter-themed pack would be fitting. To enter, just add a comment to this post sharing one winter survival tip. What do you do to make it through? How do you try to bring a little sunshine and warmth into your day when it is lacking outside? A winner will be chosen in the morning!

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

more holiday inspiration


holiday cheer stickers

Our next prize drawing will be for the Holiday Cheer sticker pack pictured above. To enter the drawing, add a comment to this post sharing at least *one thing* that you do to savor the holiday season.

If you're having trouble really enjoying the holiday season with all the hubbub, perhaps this will help:


The book is called, "Unplug the Christmas Machine" and it is AWESOME. I usually pull it out this time of year to help me to stay focused on what the season really means to me. The winner will receive a copy of this book as well!

TWO PRIZES! My kinda prize drawing.

A winner will be chosen sometime tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

one of my favorite places to window monitor shop


gingerbread stars

Our next prize comes from Vosges Chocolate. And while I don't have a photo of the actual prize, you can click HERE to see the Gingerbread Toffee in all of it's chocolate-covered goodness. Mind you, I haven't sampled the prize yet myself but anything from Vosges promises to be the best tastebud explosion EVER. To enter the drawing, just add a comment to this post sharing a special treat you look forward to during the holidays (mmmmmmmm... Tilly's coconut balls.....); a winner will be chosen sometime tonight!

(BTW, the yummy gingerbread stars pictured above are from Aldi - a hazelnut & almond cinnamon gingerbread. As delicious as they are cute!)

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Monday, November 8, 2010

inspiration for the holidays


very merry paper pack

I'll be giving away this holiday paper pack to one of you! (Note: These are 12" papers and giant diecut shapes.) To enter the drawing, just add a comment to this post sharing *one thing* you are looking forward to this holiday season. A winner will be posted tomorrow!

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2nd prize drawing is for my 2nd favorite photography book


This one is HUGELY inspirational with all sorts of photo challenges and exercises that are for everyone (not just photographers). While the "things" book is my favorite of the series, there is also a "places" and "people" version. For purposes of this drawing, I'll be giving away a copy of Photo Idea Index: Things by Jim Krause to one lucky winner.

my 2nd favorite book

To enter the drawing, just add a comment to this post sharing something (book, website, blog, magazine, etc.) that inspires you creatively. A winner will be chosen (and posted) later this evening!

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And the winner of Expressive Photography is...

the tutu session

Crystal said...
What is your fav lense for taking portraits? Love the pics of gman, he is getting so big!
November 7, 2010 8:42 PM

And now, the answers to your photography questions :)

Lori was asking about aperature settings and wanted to know how to make her subject really pop.

She's referring to depth of field. A shallow DOF creates an image much like this:


Where the subject is really in focus and set apart from the background. While there are a couple of ways to achieve this sort of image, a great deal will depend on your camera (or for DSLR users, the lens). The first and easiest thing to do is simply move closer to your subject. Really close. Experiment with moving close physically while messing around a bit with the zoom on your camera to see if you can achieve shallow depth of field. (Play with different backgrounds as well.)

For DSLR camera users (and higher end point-and-shoot models), the key is the APERTURE setting on your camera. [This is sometimes referred to as the f-stop. On DSLR cameras this number is tied directly to the type of lens you are using.] The most important thing to remember is the LOWER your f-number, the more shallow your depth of field (i.e. the more your subject will pop). Lighting can greatly affect this effect as well - the key is to experiment, experiment, and experiment some more!

Is there a way to take decent photos on a windy day?

Wind can be a huge pain, especially when your subjects have long hair. I simply try to to get it working for my subject as best I can (i.e. with the wind coming from the side or in front of them, just how I like my light).

What kind of camera do you use?

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

What program do you use to edit your photos?

Corel Paint Shop Pro

Do you use a flash or natural light when shooting indoors?

I only use natural light unless it's dark outside and there is very little available lighting indoors. When I use a flash, it's an external flash unit. (I'd say 99.9% of the images on my blog been taken WITHOUT FLASH.)

My question is regarding lenses. I am looking for a good 'everyday' lens for my Canon camera that would work for most general situations. I love your photography and would love to know what lenses you love.

My primary lens at the moment is the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8. It's pretty heavy for an everyday lens, for that I tend to lean towards my Canon EF 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS. I also love the Canon EF 50mm 1.4 USM. These are my main lenses.

What is your favorite lens for taking portraits?

My favorite portrait lens has to be the Canon EF 50mm 1.4 USM.

Thanks for taking part in the prize drawing and for all of the great questions! The key to taking better pictures is practice. Getting to know your camera. And getting to know the light.

Happy Snapping!

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

welcome to my 2010 virtual open house & sale!



In case you missed the details, today is Day 1 of my annual open house and sale! (Click HERE to get the full scoop.) I thought we'd begin with an inspirational prize drawing.


My FAVORITE new photography book. It's all about capturing moments. Things that grab your heart. Details.


Everything I aspire to see when looking through the lens, whether be for clients or my own life. If you're looking for a fresh approach to photography, you don't want to miss out on this prize drawing! To enter, just add a comment to this post sharing any questions you might have regarding photography. A winner will be chosen (and posted) Monday morning!

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Friday, November 5, 2010

2010 Virtual Open House & Sale

bright idea

Believe it or not, this will be my 10th Annual Open House. (Boy, does time fly!) Last year I came up with the idea of hosting it virtually, even tackling the "Albums on Parade" by way of Mr. Linky. Making up for our Gift Buffet was a whole nother issue... that's where multiple prize drawings came in.

I thought I'd give it another try this year. But we're going to open it up a teeny bit to include prizes for all sorts of photo enthusiasts - not just the scrapbooking kind. So in addition to scrapbooking supplies, digital enhancements, and journaling aids there will also be prizes that help you take better pictures. And prizes that help you display those pictures. Prizes that INSPIRE you to take more pictures and prizes you can munch on while looking through your pictures.

In addition to all of that fun stuff, I'll be offering a 20% discount on all CM products for all orders placed by phone or email next week. (With an extra 10% to those attending the December Winter Weekend Scrapbooking Retreat for a total 30% off!)

So be sure to stop by [the blog] and check things out Sunday, November 7-Saturday, November 13, 2010. And enter prize drawings by posting comments. And hopefully win a treat or two :)

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

cupcakes & scrapbooking

Ingenious blog post titles, I know.

Took my favorite mother-in-law out for a belated birthday lunch at my favorite cupcake place this week.


So she could experience the awesome goodness known as Cupcake herself.


I'm pretty sure it was a hit.

selfie w/alice

We had a great lunch, nice visit, and had a chance to check out Art & Architecture next door. Interestingly enough, one of the attorneys I used to work for was related to the owner. Though very familiar with the business, I had never actually stepped foot into the place. Until Tuesday, that is :) Whether you are looking to restore an old home or add character to a current remodel, this is the place to check out.

Too, now that we've entered the month of November I just wanted to remind everyone of the next faithbooking crop. It will take place next Saturday, November 13, 2010 from 9:00 am-4:00 pm at Hosanna! in Lakeville. Your hostess will be Cindy B. This will be our first crop under the new format, which means you will need to bring a snack to share and plan ahead for your product needs (i.e. I will not be there with treats or supplies). It would also be very helpful if you could let me know ASAP if you plan to attend so I can have everything ready to go for Cindy next week. If you have any questions, let me know!

The kids are home another two days this week. This is on top of the two they were home last week. And the one the week before. Needless to say that has had a great impact on my sanity work day. I'm off to go make lunch before plowing my way through a zillion edits. Have a super day!

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they call it... road kill

bunnies stand

I stole this lovely costume idea from my friend Rebecca.

dead bunnies

My boys really got into it :)

We're still recovering from the night of fun. This is how my living room has looked most of the week.

livingroom floor

If you look closely, you might even notice signs of heavy sugar consumption:

candy blur

And as I promised, a picture of my pumpkin:


Though we didn't have as many treak-or-treaters as last year, the cider and candy bars were still flowing 'til the wee hours (9:00 pm). I even had a helper this time which made it ohsomuch more fun. (Thanks Lynn!!!!!)

Here are a few more pics from our evening, including one of my favorite costumed family (you might remember them from last year as "breakfast"):


monopoly man

fire family

And that would be the water's SURFACE TENSION Kristen is holding out. Gotta love the scientist in her :)

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