Friday, May 29, 2009
So this is how it will go: I will post a pointer or TIP on Friday's about taking better pictures, a few examples from my own photograhs and possibly related articles etc. I will not be talking about aperture or shutter speed much, because not everyone HAS those fancy schmancy cameras and I don't believe you NEED those fancy schmancy cameras to take well done photographs (though don't ask me to give mine up! hehe) What I am saying is: Good photographs are doable at ANY level, even with a disposable camera!
Those girls who are participating~try and utilize/practice that tip or pointer the following week as you take photos. Have your Mom evaluate or you can blog it and let me know---and I'll check it out too. Anyone who wants to participate is welcome. Anyone who doesn't want to participate but is still interested in coming on Fridays, cool.
I have been very non-commital in the past to "themes" as far as this blog goes, finding it hard to be boxed in, but the way I figure it, I don't have too many pointers to share so I'll be done in a few weeks anyway! ;-)
Anyone who knows more about photography than I do, bear with me. Any professional photographers out there-don't bother coming on Fridays, it will only cause me great embarrassment. Everyone else? I know nothing. Just remember that.
OK. Disclaimer typed: check!
To kick off Foto Friday, I will suggest something that this very minute could begin to affect the quality of your photographs, if you let it.
Tip #1: BEWARE of your BACKGROUND
When you are taking a photograph, you become so intent upon the subject (the main focus of the photograph) that sometimes, people forget to look around at the rest of the frame (the entire part being photographed). You may think that this isn't that big of a deal but it really truly is.
It's a general rule to have uncluttered a background as possible. Sometimes you can effectively use a background to create feelings of clutter, if that is what you are going for, but often times-the LESS your eye is drawn to the background, the better.
If you are in a cluttered area of your home or a not-very-photogenic spot on a street corner or something, a very simple fix is to zoom in. Fill up the frame with just the SUBJECT and get as little of the background in as possible. (Ever wonder why I like close-ups so much?!)
Sometimes, it just requires a little shift in perspective. The above and below photos are taken at the same spot in the yard~the tree swing. You can see that the first shot is more appealing than the second. This is, in part, due to the fact that the background is uncluttered and clean in the first photo. The second photo has a tire in the background for herbs, chickens everywhere and our neighbors turquoise house in the distance. Not nearly as effective a photograph, if I do say so myself. All I would have had to do was ask them to turn around in the seat and shoot from the other side and the feel would have changed dramatically.
This week, be conscious of the BACKGROUND of your photograph and before you snap it, adjust yourself (by moving) or your camera (by zooming in) so as to create the least amount of distractions in your photograph. Let that subject stand out!
Andrew is trying to eat my arm and Adele' is interested only in the passing cars.
Oh good. Adele' is looking--and so is Andrew, albeit a bit sheepishly...but now Corynn happens to BLINK. Ah yes---the mid-blink shot. You KNOW we needed one of those.
Another car passes to enrapture Bunkin, and by now Andrew is feeling on the outside what I am feeling on the inside.
Maybe some other time.....
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I am my own worst enemy and I choose, daily, to beat myself up about the way that I look because---I could be thinner! I could be petite! I could be prettier! WHY aren't I prettier?!?
Of course, the truth of the matter is that beauty comes from within and I know this fact. God sees our hearts. But I think that to accept this fact and still have an ungrateful heart about our physical appearances, we are still missing the ball. Actually, we are way out in left field.
Today NEEDS to be about appearances. Because a change of heart needs to take place, and attitude needs adjusting.
Today I am going to thank God for what I have always considered curses, and THANKING Him is what should have been done a long time ago.
When I brush my incredibly thin (and thinning) hair...I thank God that God has spared me from disease that would make it ALL fall out.
As I turn away from those hideous stretchmarks....I will thank God that my womb has been filled because its emptiness would have been mourned my whole life.
As I struggle to find shirts that will fit and flatter such an OVERWHELMINGLY large bust....I will thank God that I have two breasts. My Oma lost hers after several bouts of cancer.
When I see women whose head fit in the crook of her husbands arm or pine for the sweetness of a tiptoe kiss, I will thank God for my 6 foot tall frame that allows me to rub toes AND noses with Mattie. At the same time.
When I pinch the rolls that somehow have lingered in my mid-section, I will remember that my children love to snuggle and always tell me "I'm tozy" Perhaps those rolls help me to be cozy?
When I slather aloe on my sunburned skin while I try to keep from staring at the much-coveted "TAN PEOPLE", I will be thankful that I have children who have their fathers' skin! :-)
When I feel ready to complain about my widely spread eyes, I will remember that God made them extra sparkly to compensate.
Today I choose to live a life of gratitude.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
It's raining cats and dogs here. And was yesterday. And will be tomorrow. And, come to think of it, the day after that.
This rain is preventing me from finishing off the top layer of the garden(s) which makes me simultaneously happy and sad.
Sad, because I'd like to get this garden planted already.
Happy, because every muscle in my body is throbbing and crying out for mercy from working in the garden the last few days.
So, you'll have to wait for the next installment of the Lasagna garden update until I actually get to finish the layers.
In the meantime, I might as well get caught up a bit on the piles of files that need to be blogged before they drown me completely.
The last thunder and lighting storm we had, last week, we made ourselves some Thundercakes after reading the book, which were actually just blueberry zucchini breads NAMED thundercakes. We also made some raindrops, using mini muffin tins.
I post this photo not because I want to highlight my much-too thick waste (I'm WORKIN' on it already) but rather, to remember forever that my boy props himself up on those shelves every.single.time.I.am.cooking.
Always ready to help, he is my kitchen sidekick. And I LOVE that about him.
"If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it." ~David Sobel
We went to a State Park the last day we could before it officially opened and began charging admission. A State Park that had this funny little creek you have to DRIVE over. It really was crazy crazy.
Panda splashed and splashed me---even when I laughingly said Stop! STOOPPPPPP!
SO I did what any good mother would do. I doused him good.
He didn'y like it so much.
It was, by far, the best playground I've ever been to.
Miss Adele' felt gypped because she was confined to the picnic blanket.
"Mama~can't *I* do something fun too?!?"
Sometimes I think these kids need a bit of showing how to have fun. So I showed them that climbing up the rope teepee wasn't the ONLY thing you could do with it. OR the most fun.
Hanging upside down definitely wins out on the fun factor.
Until you get a blood rush to your head.
My sister and her chilluns'. She is often my accomplice on days I need an excursion.
This day, since both our hubby's were not coming home that night, we waited until evening to get together, so Samantha and Wayne could do something fun after school too.
I don't know which photo I like best of them, I can't choose.
But I *HAD* to include this last one because of Samantha's face. She looks like she is mad, but she was .0002 seconds away from gobbling up Christiana's hand and so every time I look at this picture, I crack up. Too funny.
But I guess you had to be there.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Otherwise entitled: Longest Title for Blog Post in the World
Memorial Day means lots of things for lots of people. I can practically smell the charcoal burning away and taste the lemonade after a sweaty volleyball game. It's true, Memorial Day is a great day for picnics but from where we are from, it means something more too.
Memorial Day is THE weekend to get your garden in. You start your indoor seeds on St. Patties and you dig in the dirt on Memorial Day. Sounds fun, don't you think?
Well.....compared to volleyball and swimming pools? Not really.
BUT~ it gives something more than fun. It gives accomplishment---and lots of goodies to be enjoyed for the rest of the year. So, I guess the fun factor gets trumped for today.
Let's talk gardening, shall we?!?!
I love gardening but I am a major novice. Self taught up to this point through reading and experimentation, I know nothing at all. Never the less, I am documenting here the gardening process we are going through so that I can look back and tweak it later. Learn from it. and REMEMBER it all.
In the six years we've been married I have had four gardens all of which were about 6x8 or so. Not too big, but considering I didn't know the first thing about anything, it was a good way to start. My first year married, that teeny tiny garden allowed me to dunk my pinky toe in the waters of growing things and eventually forced me to teach myself how to can as well. So, little though they were, they had big results in my life. It's been downhill ever since.
I have self-started many of the seeds indoors. (a first)
I have SEVEN beds with which I am working. HUGE, for me. (A BIG first)
I am growing more than tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and jalapenos. (Another first)
I have plans for adding height to my garden, crop rotation, companion-planting, AND heirloom seed saving. (ALL new to me)
Finally, I am doing it all, the LASAGNA way. (never done before)
Ever heard of Lasagna Gardening?
I started reading up on the garden scene this winter, when I was pining away for something green and living to come into my life. I soaked up so much information from all the books that soon, I was leaking it all back out through my nostrils. Totally saturated was I in the newness and wonder of it all. Gardening is pretty cool, if you ask me. Even though I know I have about 20 more years to actually LEARN and REMEMBER everything I had just read.
Lasagna gardening is NOT making a garden full of tomatoes, basil, onions, etc. (When I first heard of it, that is what I thought!) Rather, it is a process of making a raised garden bed by using layers of organic material and planting in that just as you lasagna is created by making layers.
This method is awesome for people who don't own tillers (me, myself and I), are planting on top of creek stones (yup, that's me too) and for people who despise weeding (hand raised here). It's also awesome for the ever-important skill of use-whatcha-got.
Why the no-till method? Actually, tilling rotates the soil and unearths the weed seeds hiding out under the soil and gives them the light they need to grow. Eek. That's not cool. I guess not having a tiller is not so bad after all.
Why doesn't it matter where the garden is? Because it is essentially making a garden from the ground UP not from the grass down. Lasagna works well even in container gardening, if you use the same principles.
Why the weeding bit? The very first layer used for your garden is cardboard (or newspapers), which essentially buries weeds with no hope of survival. Yipppeee! The cardboard/newspaper then breaks down and enriches the soil, making a better quality soil to work with and eliminating back breaking weeding. (That's the plan)
Use-whatcha-got, eh? Yup. Lasagna gardening is a great way to use what you have around. You can make a layer of your garden out of all your summers grass clippings. A wonderful layer to enrich the soil is fallen leaves in Autumn. It even puts to good use your old newspapers! Composting garden scraps, too, is using what you already have to work with you.
I think USE-WHATCHA-GOT syndrome is a sickness that needs to be spread around a bit.
Here are some of the resources I ODed on this winter. You may find them helpful, as well. After all. It ISN'T too late to garden and it is NEVER too late to learn!
- The Vegetable Gardener's Bible: Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions by Edward C. Smith
- Burpee : The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener : A Guide to Growing Your Garden Organically by Karan Davis Cutler
Everything that has been spoken up until this point has been promised in written format, but I don't have experience with the success yet, since REMEMBER, this is my first time ever Lasagna gardening. At the end of the season, we shall see if this method is as fool proof and amazing as it seems....
Now, on to the photos.
The very first thing to do (DUH!) is select a spot. Make sure it's sunny and relatively flat, but that's about all you need.
I chose the only sunny/relatively flat piece of ground that was close enough to be watered without hiking millions of miles with heavy water buckets sploshing their excess on your legs every morning and night. It isn't a pleasant feeling, having soggy sneakers. Ask me how I know.
THIS spot is idyllic. A perfect view from our patio, sandwiched between the apple tree and the creek. Oh yes, beautiful beautiful. Never mind that under all the three years worth of neglected, overgrown weeds there is only river rock. With LASAGNA gardening, that is not supposed to be a problem!
Here the boys are measuring out the length of garden. (Who ever said a three year old is too small to help out?!?) Lasagna gardening is not the cheapest form of gardening ever (after all, in order to have layers you have to have supplies!) but I am ever thankful for the great abundance of provisions we have right here at our disposal. This property was a DUMP (and still is, in parts) that we have had the irritation to have to clean up. and YET. I can't tell you how much JUNK we have picked up and used, saving us LOTS of moola. One man's junk is another mans treasure.
Prime Example: Broken down corn crib buried under weeds = absolutely free, sturdy garden fencing! Not to mention, the split rails (which were piled up under a bunch of sheet metal) to put the fencing up! Anyone who has ever gone to price fencing knows that this "junk" alone has saved us hundreds (that we didn't have anyway). Praise God.
Since this is our first year here, and since this property was abandoned for a few years prior to us moving in~ the whole property was left to go wild. And it did, and did well. Those lucky few who are starting a nice garden on a nice lawn wouldn't have this problem, but in order for our cardboard to lay flat, we had some serious weeding to do.
A brush hog would have been JUST the ticket for that project. Only thing is~ we don't have one of those either. (BTW, the skidsteer was a kind loan for the day) Matt, being the strong, hard worker that he is~ did it the old fashioned way.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed the view.
I just love to see Matt's bulging arm veins and swollen forearms. Oh yes, it's one of my favorite things to do.
But seriously, how can a man have arms that tan already? I mean, sheesh. I won't get near that tan by the end of summer and one good Saturday does that to HIM? SO unfair.
Next stop: The LAYERS
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The warmer weather has drawn us outside often and I'll admit, we've become lackadaisical in our schooling.
Makes me thankful for the seasons~winter being wonderful for settling in and working because---do you really want to be outside anyway?!? Not I said the fly.
Seems as though we have consistently taken a day off throughout the week for a fun day. Let's call it a..... field trip day! hehe
Often times, we meet up with my sister and her kiddos.
Iron Kettle Farm is somewhat local and fun for everyone. And, oh yeah, free. That spells a good time in my book.