Friday, January 27, 2012

Books Are Portable Magic

It's been said, 
"A house without books, is like a room without windows",
and I must say, I concur.
Eek!!! I have a room without windows.
I'm sad about that because I can't keep live plants in there.
I think every room needs a live plant.

If there is anything that bothers me, it's clutter and disorganization.
If there is any tangible object I am guilty of having too many of, it's by far, books!

As much as I love books, I know that buying them new
can do some serious damage to your pockets, if you know what I mean.
 And because of this knowledge, I tend to buy only used books as much as possible.
When I 'm not reading a book from the local library,
 I'm usually reading a book I bought at a local used book store.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as buying a product or object
and having gotten it at a "steal of a deal".
Really, it's one thing us women brag about at every chance we get!
But not only do we brag about our buy,
 we also love to share with others where we got it
so that they too, can go get the same great deal.

Kim Nance said, "Coloring outside the lines is a fine art." ,
We've all heard of walking to the beat of a different drum,
Taking the path less traveled by...
These are all good ways of describing just what lives in the heart of an entrepreneur.
Running a business takes courage, faith, time, and just good ole' fashioned hard work!
When I go into "My Sister's Store... Books & More", that is just what I see.
All of those things listed above and much, much more.
The store is filled with books, scarves, jewelry,
hand crafted boxes, furniture, and art of all kinds.

If you ever happen to be in the Travelers Rest, South Carolina area,
this is a store that must be seen.
The awesome thing about My Sisters Store is that nearly all the products found
 in the store are from local business owners.
Talented artists and creators from right here in our own back yard. 
If you aren't from around this area, then be sure and promote, support,
and encourage local talent in your area.

My Sisters Store is adorned with the talented craftiness of many different area jewelers.
These artists range in age from the beautiful minds of fresh young entrepreneurs
to the retired hands of those that still have the inextinguishable desire to create.

There are so many wonderful things here that must simply be seen and touched.
Hope you can visit this store sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quiet Instants

It finally stopped raining...

The ground was still soggy and we sunk deep into the earth with every step we took...
But it was worth it!

About two weeks ago, I found this incredible location,
and I've been wanting to dip my toes in and go test the waters.
But I kept coming up with reasons not to get out and go...
School, rain, house chores... the list goes on and on.
Excuse after excuse.

I woke up early this morning, had a few cups of coffee, had my quiet time,
 and looked out the vertical blinds through the glass of my calm and peaceful, living room.
 I saw a light, dense fog floating in the air...
the soft light radiating through the clouds...
as it was piercing between the branches of the swaying trees
and I knew I just had to get out and shoot.
Ah... I love mornings like this one.

However, sometimes (more than I would like) my mornings start like this:

 I awaken, heart ready for the early, quiet, and calm morning.
Suddenly, just as I sit down on the sofa
 with my favorite "blankie" and my first cup of coffee,
I hear the pitter patter of those sweet little feet
coming down the hardwood floors of the long hallway...
I cringe at the thought of trying to find a new "quiet time" for the day.
I know the importance of having just a few moments alone, 
to talk to the Lord about the day, and prepare myself in prayer.

With great joy and open arms, I savor these mornings of silence
and seek to receive this much needed time of balance and serenity.

"...Oh God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee, my soul thirsteth for Thee...
Because Thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee..."
Psalm 63

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Need To Knead

A few months ago, you may have heard me say with assurance, "I am NO baker!!!"
For the first year of our marriage I overcooked almost every cookie I ever touched.
But today, I can proudly say, things have changed, I am a baker!

I'm not sure how I became so mildly obsessed with the process
 of making my own bread, but a few weeks ago
 I discovered that it was something I enjoyed doing immensely.

So here I am, half a dozen pizzas, five Italian calazones, and four loaves of bread
(two white and two wheat) later, and I've decided I LOVE making bread!

One day several weeks ago, while at the library with my husband and kids,
I decided I would actually go pick a few books out for myself.
This is odd, because the books I usually check out are straight out of the juvenile section.
 (As a homeschool mommy, it's pretty much necessary.)

So anyway, I found myself standing there in the corner
of the non-fiction section of the library, with a pile of books on bread making.

I still have them... I keep re-checking them.
So, if you are attempting to get books regarding bread making
 from the Greenville County Library System,
and you're having trouble finding them, it's my fault.
I'm having trouble letting go...

The photo above is my first batch of whole wheat bread.
This bread happens to be my very favorite!

My favorite book so far on bread making is called
The Bread Book by Betsy Oppenneer.
I absolutely love this book.
There are 200 recipes that go from "minimal and simple" to "unique and difficult".
I'm a minimal girl myself.
 But I am hoping to try a few more of the more interesting recipes in the future.

I also read another book that was pretty key for my first time ever making bread.
A very good book to learn all the basic information of bread making was
Bread Made Easy : A Bakers First Bread Book by Beth Hensperger.

I don't have a bread machine, and I have never used anything
 but a fork, a whisk, a wooden spoon, and some good ole' fashion elbow grease
 for baking my breads, so I'm proof that anyone can do this. It's really very simple.
Shoot, I don't even have any bread pans, I am using a meatloaf pan because that's all I have.
(The bread needs to be a bit taller as compared to a store bought loaf,
but the taste is "out of this world" better!!!)


That's a new word I made up for homemade bread.

My husband came home from lunch yesterday and said,
"You're making calazones? Wow! You're adventurous!"
I'm having so much fun with my new found hobby of bread making.
What kinds of adventurous things are you baking?
Do share.

Pen Pals & Hand Made Stuff

There is just something very special about handmade things.
A friend of mine gave me this sweet crocheted headband a few weeks ago
 that was hand crafted by her sister.
Now, I don't know her sister, and her sister doesn't know me, but I love that headband,
and I proudly tell everyone that it is hand made every time the girls wear it.

Once, I tried to crochet a scarf...
It was a major epic fail!
Thank heaven for crafty crocheters,
 because I certainly wasn't blessed with that talent!
These sweet handmade accessories can be found here, at

 I may not be a very crafty person but I do like to make things.
 I think all of us women were made to create, and use our hands, in some way or another.
This year, I decided we would make our own Valentines Day cards.

Work in progress!

Our family is connected with other fabulous homeschooling families
 through various get together groups in our area. 
One of the things we participate in is Pen Pal writing.
 As for now, only two out of three of the girls are writing.
(Our youngest girl's handwriting skills are coming along rather slowly.)

In this day and time, with e-mail, Facebook, and all the other ways of virtual connection,
 handwriting is becoming a lost art.
I've even heard that some of the school systems aren't even teaching cursive handwriting anymore.
I guess this is because everything is being done on computers,
 and since PCs don't type in cursive, there doesn't seem to be a need for it anymore.

I'll be teaching cursive at Davis academy, I can guarantee that.
(Or, at least giving it a go... ha.)

Anyway, I know how much I enjoy getting hand written letters in the mail from friends and family
 (it's nice to get those, rather than junk mail and bills, right?).
I was so excited to have the opportunity to participate in this wonderful program.
The girls get terribly excited about getting those letters in the mail every couple of weeks.

Pen Pal writing also gives us a chance to practice our writing skills
and we use it as part of our writing assignments for class.

All the kids who participate in this program
are developing friendships that could possibly last a lifetime!

I'm simple, so the cards are simple too. Pretty basic stuff. Another DIY that my six year old could probably do.

 I sort of ran out of color ink, of course!, right before the card making process began.
So the card looks sort of like it's been "photoshopped" in soft tones... not really so.
Oh well! I think the card looks okay and I've only started the first one,
and plan on replacing my ink cartridges before we complete the others.

Items: Scissors, glue stick, glitter stickers, grosgrain ribbon, and a printed 4x6 photo on index card paper.

I will use this one as an example for the kids to go by
and we will make these a couple of weeks before Valentines Day
 as an art project one day at school.
Or maybe even on a chilly, winter, bored, Saturday afternoon.
The girls are always looking for something to keep them busy.
They like crafty stuff.

Found these sweet glitter stickers at Walmart.
 Can't wait to see the finished product made by the girls!
What kind of awesome crafty talents have you been gifted with?
Share them with your kids and share them with us!
We need all the ideas we can get!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Lesson From Moses and Jonah

 There are dozens of great homeschooling blogs out there
 and perhaps that's why I rarely write about our adventures.
 It's not that this part of our life isn't exciting or important.
On the contrary, (behind my growing relationship with the Lord,
and then my relationship with my husband,)
 educating our kids is one of the most important, and most exciting aspects of our lives.

 I have, in the past, written on a few occasions about various field trip adventures,
and a little about some of the books and curriculum
that we have used over the past year and a half.
 But the past few weeks I've been doing some self evaluation in all areas of my life,
 including and especially in the area of homeschooling.

What have we really accomplished the last two years?
Will we continue to homeschool next year and for years to come?
What about "socialization"?
Has it really been worth it?

These are just a few questions many home educating families face.
 From within themselves and also from the outside (family, friends, etc.).

I have been asked, "Do you enjoy homeschooling your kids?"
Well, as any honest homeschool mother would answer,
 "It depends on what day you ask me!".
That's sort of a joke. Sort of.
Of course, like with anything else, some days are better than others.
I am pretty certain any honest teacher, in any school,
in any country would give you the same answer.
Most of the time, yes, I enjoy teaching my children.

The first book I ever read regarding homeschooling said,
 "Give it at least a year, and see where you are after that".
A year later, I liked the results, and I liked how far we had come,
even though there were hardships, to us, it was well worth the struggles.
Our story isn't about the struggles, it's about the victories!

Yes, there were times when two incomes would have been better than one.
Yes, there were times when I thought, "public schools aren't that bad".
Yes, there were times I wanted to run to the bathroom, turn off the light, hide, and cry.
Wait a minute, I did do that last one! Seriously. I did. More than once.

Let's just address the public school comment first,
 because I can hear the gasping and see the finger shaking's right now.

I do not think public schools are evil and destroying
 the lives of many families around the world.

Let me share with you why we chose to homeschool our girls.
Before my firstborn was even a thought in my head,
God placed a tug on my heart for homeschooling.
It was something I had heard, or something I had read.
Somehow, I just couldn't shake the idea of it.
I, like many others, had a preconceived notion in my mind of what
a "homeschooling family" looked like.
And, quite honestly, I ran from the idea immediately... in my mind.
I was in no way "qualified" to teach my children, and just simply wouldn't have the time for it.
Yes, I had a college degree (nursing major)
and I was pretty well rounded when it came to education.
 I knew plenty about the human body and a little about medicine.
But still, I wasn't sure about any of the other stuff.
I began to think of all the reasons why I shouldn't do it.

Remember when God told Moses to go to Egypt and set His people free?
Moses said, "But God, I don't speak well. I can't do this...
But God, I am just an average person, nothing special.
Why would you choose me?"

I was doing the same thing that Moses did.
I was making excuses. Experiencing self doubt.

Remember when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh?
Jonah ran away from God. He was disobedient.
He got on the wrong boat going to the wrong city.
God sent a massive storm and really rocked that boat in order to get Jonah to listen to Him.
Next thing Jonah knows, he's in the belly of a giant fish.
This ain't some little children's bible story.... This was for real.
I just simply couldn't imagine.

I knew one thing, I didn't want to be disobedient
or run away from God's chosen path for our lives.
I just needed to trust that He was going to provide for our family
and that He was going to guide my words and steps all along the way.
I needed to understand, it wasn't me, it was Him.
This isn't always easy.

When the storms and challenges come, and they did (and still do), I just have to remind myself,
"If it's for Your glory, then I'll take it as it comes.
I'll trust it's in Your love. If it's for Your glory then it must be for Your good."
When the day isn't going as planned, and I just don't understand why she isn't getting it,
 I have to remember, "He will make this trial a blessing".

So, what have we accomplished thus far in our journey of home education?
Well, we have accomplished plenty as far as secular education goes.
Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Science, History... It's all good.
But one of the most important events that could ever happen for a parent,
happened this year during the middle of a regular school day.
Our six year old, firstborn daughter, accepted Jesus as her personal saviour.

What if I had quit, given in, given up?
Souls are on the line.
"I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in truth",
wrote the apostle John in Third John 4.
Amen and Amen!

Now, we love our church family, but we would never delegate
 to the church, the responsibility of teaching our children God's Word.
This is our parental responsibility.
Our call as a parent is to teach our kids right from wrong.
We do this by reading what God's word says to us.
Children learn best through story telling.
They relate to the characters and somehow this person in His word becomes a real person.
I can honestly say that Bible is one of my very favorite subjects here at Davis Academy.
 I love that we can connect with our girls on a very personal level
and really get to the heart of homeschooling during Bible study.

I am not telling you this out of pride, but rather, I am sharing an important lesson I have learned.
You see, I used to neglect Bible as a subject of study.
It's easy to do with the pressures of society,
pushing children to be smarter, faster, better, all the time.
However, leaving this vital subject out of our daily schedule, I learned rather quickly,
was not only not helping us, but it was holding us back.

If I could recommend one book about homeschooling.
I like this book because it addresses both parental roles of Homeschooling: Father and Mother.
I believe that God has delegated this authority and responsibility to my husband and myself.

Will we continue to homeschool?

The answer is quite simple.
"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
 knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
I Corinthians 15: 58

Our life is but a vapor... Make every day count!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Display On A Budget

I know, and have to admit, anyone can do this DIY greeting card display.
Actually, I'm not even sure this would fit in the category of a true DIY.
I mean this is something my six year old can do.
So easy, so simple, so perfect for me...
 the "not-so-much do it yourself er",
 who also happens to be on a pretty tight budget.

All it takes is a few thumbtacks, and a little bit of yarn,
or really any kind of ribbon would work just fine.

I've become a huge fan of the thumbtack.
 They come a lot fancier than these ones. And some people even create their own.
Recently, I put up a cork board in my office/work space where I keep my daily calender,
and at least fourteen post-its with positive little messages and reminders.
How I ever lived without it, I am unsure.

This is simple stuff.
1. Place a pin in the wall at the place the display will begin.

2. The next step would be to cut the yarn/ribbon.
Size will depend upon the space used for the display.
I used 3 strings of yarn cut at about three feet in length
(the wall that was used for our display is really long).

3. Tie a knot on both ends leaving a small loop to hang from the pin.

Most of the cards could be draped over the line,
 but the photo greeting cards I simply attached with a paperclip.
A smaller clothespin would be very cute as well.

This was the final result.

This long hallway, has had bare white walls since the day we moved in.
I have been wanting to fill that wall with photographs but, 
well... I just keep finding other things to do with my time.

The cards will be left up for another week.
 These days, I walk a little slower down that long hall,
and often stop to look at the photo cards.
 When I do, I think of all my friends and family,
and how thankful I am to have them in my life.
I'm thinking, I may keep it up a bit longer and use it as an art display
 for the kids colorful and beautiful masterpieces.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Ones That Got Away

As I went through my photos from the past year for my previous post,
I found a few images that I either didn't remember or had forgotten about.
These are images from my second session ever.
As I discovered them, I recalled the day we shot these images...

It was a very sweaty, sticky, and just a downright smouldering HOT day.
Those kids were real troopers. Bless their hearts. (That's a southern "swear"...hehehe.)
They smiled and laughed and had fun even under those extreme circumstances.
It was two hours later, at the end of the shoot,
 that I asked sweet Ry to put those big boxing gloves on and pose for the shutter.

The boxing gloves belong to Mr. Takamine. He hadn't worn them in years.
But he and I, back before we were married, used to study Kickboxing and Kung Fu together
at this really awesome little dojo back in Tennessee.
I thought those over sized boxing gloves would be just darling on a little boy.
I was right. They were. At least I think so.
(Then again, I tend to have an emotional connection to all my clients,
and any image of them. <tear>)
It's always a great little treasure to discover images that have been passed by or forgotten.
You know the ones... the ones that somehow got away.

Year End Photo Reflection

I love entering a new year.
This means I get to step back, look at myself, and get brutally honest.
How can I improve my photography, and how can I take it to the next level,
 in order to make sure my clients are getting the very best.

I LOVE change!
Many people do not enjoy it.
 They get in a comfort zone and stay there.
I enjoy comfort also. Who doesn't?
But even more than comfort, I love a shift, a change of scenery...
I am easily bored with staleness and actually thrive on change.

So, as I seek out ways to alter, modify, and improve,
 I will go forward with images of past that will shine on in my heart forever.
Here are a few images from the year 2011 that I have truly enjoyed capturing.
And along the way I have developed friendships with people that will last a lifetime.
To all my clients from 2011, I love you all and I have been totally honored
 to capture those amazing and quickly fleeting instants in your life!

The picture above I think is my one of my favorites of the year. A lady bug release in a beautiful garden.
 I shot this image at our local science center while on a field trip
with our daughters and other homeschooling friends.
While this image may mean nothing to many,
 it holds a very special memory that will last eternally in my mind,
as, it represents God's amazing grace, love of family, and my passion for photography.


I have a very special friend who has a farm, and on this farm she has some chickens.
They were one of my favorite things to shoot this past year.
Aside from being pretty cool little animals, they turned out to be very pretty in photos.
I was excited and happy to capture these gorgeous creatures at Bramble Fox Farms,
and I am looking forward to seeing her business grow into a dream come true.


The images below are snapshots of my last and most recent session of the year, a one year birthday shoot.
This little baby girl and I share the same birthday, and I feel a special connection to her and her mother.
This little girl was such a pleasure to capture.
I loved seeing her thoughtful and happy personality shine through
as we spent a frigid December morning celebrating our special day.


Below are the images of our daughters that I shot for our 2011-2012 school year.
This image was inspired by the combination of several very different images
 that I was glad to come across on pinterest.
Davis Academy is going strong as we continue our second full year of education.


Taylor, the beautiful and talented senior from Tennessee.
This client came through word of mouth from another senior session also shot in Kingsport, TN.
Taylor was a pleasure to photograph.
I never knew Taylor before this session, but I am so totally honored to work with her,
and am looking forward to seeing her bright future become successful in every way!


Below are a few shots from my first wedding shoot ever.
Oh my goodness! This was SO much fun!
Brandon and Sarah are a great couple who I enjoyed getting to know
and I loved photographing their very special day.
There was a wonderful energy and lots of laughing during this shoot.
I would love, love, love to do a few more weddings in the future.
One of my favorite sessions this year!


This was my first baby session ever.
Every time I think of baby images I think of my dear friend, our family photographer,
Tracie has been sort of a mentor and most assuredly a wonderful and patient role model
 for myself as a mother, photographer, and friend.
I have much respect for baby photographers, as this field of photography
 takes a very special soft and tender spirit.


I am so glad to have met and become friends with this family.  
These girls are so precious!
I feel the mother of these three little girls and I have a kindred spirit.
Her children are as wonderfully sweet as her amazing chocolate.
I have added the link below.
 Night Owl Chocolate is a bean to bar chocolate maker,
handcrafted locally here in Greenville, SC.
Her chocolate is amazing!


I loved this sister session!
This session was shot in Bristol, VA, on an absolutely gorgeous day.
I will never forget this photo shoot, for the time we spent during this session was very special to me, and these sisters have a very, very special place in my heart forever.


The session below was a family from Greer, SC.
I have known these awesome children for about seven or eight years now.
I have watched them grow and my heart is filled with love for them and hope for their future.
I am so happy to know this loving family and honored to have captured these moments.


Gator fan and future Paleontologist, Sophie is one of the brightest,
most darling little ones that I know.
She is a free spirit and her shyness and spunk fills my heart
 with joy every time I look at these images.


My very, very first session ever. I shot this senior session of Jessica in Kingsport, TN.
Jessica has a beautiful soul, heart and spirit.
I am looking forward to seeing all that God has in store for her future.

These are just a few of the images I have taken this year.
There is a quote by one of the worlds best photographers that says,
"Your first 10,000 photos are your worst".
I am fairly certain I have surpassed that number, but I am never finished learning.
I will continue to learn in and love this art for the rest of life.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
Psalm 119:105