35 Before 35 Update

I didn’t do so hot this month…I blame it on all the travel.

1. Crochet something else besides blankets or scarves at least once a year

2. Do a photography challenge

3. Visit 5 cities I have never been to before (5/5)

  • We went to Broken Arrow, OK for a wedding. Donsies!

4. Tour at least one of the distilleries in the KY/TN area

5. Send at least 5 snail mail a month

  • Yep.

6. Become a “professional” photographer

  • My pictures were featured in a local magazine for the art auction that I did back in March. So exciting! I also did another newborn shoot a little while ago. So fun! Anyone have any photographer needs? I would love to help you out!
Glinn Photography

This kid had the best hand expressions. Loved capturing this little guy!

7. Run at least 10 races (any distance) (1/10)

8. Go camping with Tom

9. Pay for the car behind me in a drive through

10. See Tyrone Wells live as many times as possible

11. Tour Fort Defiance here in Clarksville

  • Done last month

12. Water ski with my dad

13. Do a 5K with my mom

14. Take a swing dance class with Tom

15. Read at least one fun book a month and one professional development book every three months

16. Take a pottery or stained glass class

17. Do one new recipe each month

  • I made another breakfast casserole. This one was so much better than my last attempt. I am not good at doing recipe posts so click here for the recipe. It was pretty good and lasted a long time since I froze half of it.

18. See both a Clemson and UCM football game live

19. Find a place to volunteer on a regular basis

20. Go hiking

21. Ride in a hot air balloon

22. Go to at least 20 “new to me” restaurants. (15/20)

  • We went to an ice cream place called Sparky’s in Columbia, MO this past weekend. They have the most random flavors of ice cream and make everything in house. Pretty decent!

23. Stay at a bed and breakfast

24. Spend a day without electronics (phone, t.v. and computer)

25. Have a Kentucky Derby themed 3oth birthday party.

26. Explore Nashville while we live here

27. Watch at least 10 movies that I have not seen before that won Best Picture at the Oscars and at least 20 documentaries (not necessarily Oscar winning) Movies (0/10); Documentaries (4/20)

28. Sew an item of clothing from scratch

29. Do a personal devotional/bible study on my own

30. Be a mascot for an event

31. Go on our honeymoon (preferably somewhere tropical)

32. Host an annual NCAA Basketball Tournament Championship game party

33. Go on a mission trip

34. Be on a recreation volleyball team

35. Become a mom

I know I still have a lot of time to chip away this list, so in reality I didn’t do so bad.

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Do you have any personal challenges that you are working on?

Homemade Photo Backdrop

I love looking for new unique ideas to infuse into my photography.

One of those ways is with backdrops.

I like simple and classic backdrops that aren’t going to distract from the subject, but instead add to it subtly.

I saw something like this on Pinterest, and Tom and I were sure we could make it.

We got lumber and the laminate at Lowes. We got a great deal on the laminate, and we were able to get the look exactly like I wanted.

I thought I got pictures of the building process, but I can’t seem to find them.

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We built a frame with basic 2X4s first. We wanted it to be fairly sturdy.

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We got the interlocking flooring. Once pieced together, we secured it to the base.

The back and bottom are two separate pieces. Tom made it so it can come apart for easy storing.

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There are two like this on the back. You just lift the screw up and you can take the two apart.

I really do like the sturdiness of this, but it can be a little bulky. I want to start looking for other vinyl flooring or paper that I could roll up. There is some great durable and thick fabric I have seen but it’s fairly pricey. This set up was really cheap to make since we found a lot of it on sale.

Here is some of my work with this backdrop.

Baby 4

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I was able to fit a family of four on it to do some indoor shots, but I will mostly use it for kids. I really want to focus eventually on infant/child photography and the size is perfect for that.

Combining Passions

I have really tried to be more positive with my work and find different ways to feel fulfilled with my current employment.

One of the ways I have done that is asking/seizing small opportunities to bring some of my outside hobbies into the work place.

I have talked about how I love bulletin boards which has allowed me to bring some creativity, even if in small doses to my job. I love love love cutting out and decorating boards. This is the elementary school major coming out in me. (That was about the only thing I liked about being an elementary school major, which is the reason why I promptly changed after the first semester to secondary education.)

Another hobby/passion of mine is photography. I have always been fascinated by capturing moments in time. Memories, glimpses of life, emotions, so much can be expressed in one shot.

I can still remember my parents getting me a camera when I was 5 that had the disposable flashbulbs. I took pictures of everything. I mean literally everything-flowers, vases, tables, bed spreads, dog hair, you name it I had a picture of it. I also cut off everyone’s head when I took their picture at this age.

(I promise I have improved from the head cutting off stage.)

I really started learning the art of photography in high school where I worked on the school publications. There I learned the technical things about composition, lighting, editing (although much has changed since then), and my favorite place -the dark room. We shot on manual film, and to me one of the greatest moments is to watch film develop right before your eyes. And you feel pretty cool taking the film of the reel in complete darkness.

I stayed away from photography as a major in college outwardly because I did not think that I could afford all the “stuff.” But inwardly, I didn’t think I could measure up in the digital age we were coming into. So I shied away and stuck to “point and shoots” that could fit in my back pocket.

Luckily, the art has recently come back full-force when Tom and I decided to take the plunge and invest in a wickedly nice set up (camera, lights, tripod, lenses, etc…). It has always been a dream of mine to open my own studio, and my hands down dream job would be to be a sports photographer. Slowly we are creating a base for this to occur, but that is another topic for another day.

So a passing comment at work about someone needing to be in charge of capturing a shot at the opening office BBQ turned into a wonderful opportunity for me to combine my passions.

Education Photographer. (Yeah? I think it works.)

I have become the office picture lady. We have many more than a “shot” on hand now of our office activities. They may have gotten more than they bargained for by letting me run with this.

It has been really fun to find a way to be more involved outside of my spreadsheets and emails. And I am developing my photography all the same. (There has been somewhat of a learning curve going to a completely digital system.)

We just had our annual Wheelchair Basketball game, and I was giddy to be on the sidelines clicking away. This may be my favorite photographer moment I have had ever to date. It was cathartic for several reasons.

  1. I had that sports photography going.
  2. Basketball is my favorite sport.
  3. Working with this population is always a humbling experience for me. I felt honored to hear their stories and capture their strength and determination.
  4. It was the moment that I realized that I was going to do just fine here. I felt energy again; it was like electricity running through my veins. I was pumped to be doing what I am doing. I finally thought, “This isn’t so bad. I’m not so awful at this transition.” Part-time failure freak out over with.

Boom. It feels good to feel needed.

These are just a few of the several hundred shots I sifted through.

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One of my favorite shots of the night.

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I had so much fun.

So I would tell everyone who may be struggling to find small ways to find joy again. You will quickly see how that joy will flood over into other things.

Fight For It

It’s a Monday after a holiday weekend. So like most, I sit here reflecting on the amazing down time that I had and dream that it wasn’t over. My newsfeed this morning was littered with all the witty “I hate Mondays” commentary.

So to recap our 4th of July.

It was not full of BBQ, beer, red/white/blue ribbons, or personal fireworks.

It was full of rain…all weekend long.

Don’t feel sad; we managed to make the most of it. We had a great relaxing weekend being free of work and responsibilities. And seriously what is better than actually being able to sleep in and be lazy on wet and rainy days?

Fort Campbell had a 4 day long carnival event, which we did attend on the 4th in the brief parting of the clouds before they canceled the firework show. It was really cool to see all the families tredge through the mud to celebrate what our families have gone through to ensure freedom for our nation.

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We did not ride any rides because after working at an amusement park for 6 years (this is where Tom and I met btw), I am pretty skeptical of any ride that can be packaged into a trailer as a traveling show. And don’t get me started on my nightmares of Ferris wheels. Plus it cost money, and we were being cheap.

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I also worked games for 2 years, so I cannot wait until we have kids so we can win them useless toys. After working 8 hour shifts for 2 summers, you learn a few tricks of the trade. We just don’t have a need for the game stuff now.

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We were not too cheap however for my ICEE obsession. I L.O.V.E ICEES.

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We love that we are lucky to be together to celebrate our independence! I think about all those families who cannot say the same. (Special shout out to our buddy Andrew Martin and his lovely family! We can’t wait to celebrate with you when you get home! And also to the Landis family, you all are in my thoughts and prayers regularly!)

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The night of the fourth we ended up watching from our backyard some of our neighbors shoot off their own fireworks.

Grace did not seem to mind her first firework display.

And yes we made an outside bed for Grace to be comfortable watching the show.

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They had rescheduled the fireworks for Friday. But it rained all evening so we didn’t really want to pack up to go across the base. So we watched in the rain from a parking lot right by our house in our Jeep. Nothing more American than being barefoot in a mud covered Jeep watching fireworks I guess.

All in all it was a good holiday for us, and we cannot forget the sacrifices that are made to grant the freedoms we hold so dear.

Talking with my husband about how the fireworks sounded like war and his FB statuses for the day gave me a lot to reflect on, and I hope they do for you too.

“Today and every day, ask yourself two questions. Who sacrificed their life so that I could have mine? What am I doing to make myself worthy of that sacrifice?”

“Remember that rights aren’t something you are entitled to. Rights are something we have to fight for. Nothing in this world is free.”

Nothing like a national holiday to make you think about your priorities eh?

It’s ironic  (don’t you think) that those who give up so much of their own freedoms are the ones that are making sure you and I have ours?

Now on to our home improvement project of the week.

We created these shelves so that we could have some flexibility on changing the deco in our house without the hassle of measuring and putting in new holes in the wall. Since we live in on-base housing, we are trying to leave as little damage as possible.

Shelves are pretty expensive if you want to buy more than one of these at the store, and you cannot get them in a very long size. I think the cheapest we were able to find was like $30ish bucks for one that was like a foot long. So Tom volunteered to make them for us. For 8 shelves, it was around $75 for us doing it this way. (If you are able to find ones cheaper than this, share with the world please!)

Basically you pick the size shelf you want from the wood selection. We chose a couple different sizes because of the what we had planned to put on the shelf, so we had 1X2s and 1X3s.

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Then we picked out simple decorative molding to make the face of the shelf. You can make it relatively inexpensive depending on the molding you pick, or just not getting molding and just using the base wood only.

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Tom did all the handiwork. It seems pretty simple from watching him. He made all 8 of them in an afternoon.

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This is before he stained them all.

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Then he added wall hangers/hooks on the back to make them more secure on the wall.

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Then was the long process of measuring out the locations on the wall. This included a stud finder, tape measure, level, T-square, and Tom’s persistence for perfection.

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Here they are empty.

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And here is our new photo wall. I am working on getting some new photos, and it will be so easy to add. I can just move them around until I feel like I have the layout I like. Until the next day when I want to move them around again.

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And then this is our photography wall. We are really into collecting old camera gear and wanted a way to display it!

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They turned out fabulous. They really make the room complete now! Pardon my crocheting mess in the corner…

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I hope you all enjoyed your Monday as much as one can after a freedom celebration weekend!