Sunday, January 31, 2010

Let it Snow!

We had a fabulous weekend of glorious snow. It snowed all day on Saturday and when it was all finished I would say we had about a foot of snow. Snow is not something we normally get to experience so we were all happy about it. I took a slew of photos and I must say the 'brushing up of the photography skills' that I did this week paid off. I was very happy with the results. Finally I have conquered getting a correct exposure. Woo Hoo! So here are my favorite photos of the last few days... the rest are over on Flickr ( you can click on the photos on the right side - yeah... over there..)

Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse happy that the snow has ended & the sun is shining again

Tucker and Ellie
Tucker and Ellie having fun in the snow

Has anyone seen a snow plow?
View from my house - no snow plows so far - don't expect to see one till Monday

Blue Jays
My favorite photo of the weekend!

Our house
Our house in the blizzard :)

Our chocolate masterpiece!
The girls and I made a cake Saturday while the snow fell

Ms Thang
Sweet Ellie enjoying the snow today (Emma has a sore throat and stayed in)

Snowy Angel
Snowy garden angel

Snowball girl

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Designs & Deer

Working in the studio this week on new designs AND brushing up on my photography skills.... So enjoying life right now and the relaxed pace of it all. letters
In the middle of designing a new line of letters for notecards....Ellie has been assisting me and we both aren't too crazy about the 'B'. Loving the 'G' and the 'H' though.

Momma and the kids
We had a before sundown visit from the deer last night. They were very cautious being out so early. love, love, love them!

QUESTION: I have a new LCD widescreen monitor so I like to fill the screen with images now... do you think they are too big? Would smaller images be better or is this size OK? I know there are lurkers out there as there are over 100 different people viewing this blog each day - so chime in... I would love to know what you think.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

apeture, dof, bokkeh....


Pulled out the photography books this weekend hoping to brush up on some new skills. I am always so envious when I see gorgeous, sharp, colorful photos online. Practice makes perfect so I will be practicing all week. I think my main problem is achieving the sharpness... maybe it's my lens... (maybe it's me!) I rented a 50mm lens from that should be here this week. I am sure the girls will be so annoyed with me asking them to be my test subjects. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I ♥ Faces Challenge 'We Are Family'

This week at I Heart Faces the challenge is to portray your family. One of my favorite photos from our time at St. Jude in Memphis is the one below. We faced Ellie's cancer as a united front and leaned on each other to get through. We stayed strong, determined and positive and in the end we arrived on the other side, better for all that we had endured.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tunes I am rocking out to

Thought I would share one of my playlists... Lady Gaga is strangely becoming a new favorite. Who knew! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010


The heartbreak in Haiti is certainly hard to watch. I am grateful though that out of tragedy, people go to their knees. Praying, donating, feeling the pain of others and wanting to help. Trials arise in our life. Some big and some small but it's what we do at that moment that can turn heartbreak, loss and pain into something positive. God is that constant. He didn't do any of this but He is there to pick up the pieces and help us find our way.

I was watching TV and someone asked 'Where was God? Why did he let this happen?' I know God can stop something like this in a second but that is not always part of his plan. We as a people have free will and bad things do happen. People turn to God in a tragedy and they seek what really can heal them. He doesn't always intervene to stop our pain and suffering but He is there with us to comfort us as we go through it. That comfort means everything. When your heart is with Jesus, I really believe things will turn out for the best. I don't understand why some suffer more than others but Jesus greatly suffered for us and shed His blood for us so we could have eternal life. When our friend Wendy suffered so much in the final weeks of her life, I kept thinking that she was more Christlike than ever before.

As I perused the images on of the earthquake, this image stood out to me. The hope that this one photo gives. When all else is lost, Jesus will remain strong and vigilant forever by your side. Continuing to pray for the people of Haiti.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Homemade treats for the birds

Blue Bird

The Bluebirds have been arriving in flocks to the feeders since it has been so cold. Last year Ellie and I made them up a batch of 'Zick Dough' which is a homemade suet recipe that Julie Zickefoose came up with. The birds love love loved it last year so we decided to make some more today. It's really simple to do. Here are the ingredients

  • 1 cup lard
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups corn meal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup bird seed

Over a low heat melt together the lard and peanut butter. Once melted, stir in all the other ingredients. Pour it out on wax paper and pop it in the fridge until it is hard. See, isn’t that easy? You can then break off pieces and put them in a dish or in a tree or even just right out on the railing. The fat and protein will help keep these guys going in the cold weather and you get to see how many different birds enjoy the suet. For us the suet lovers are the Bluebirds, Wrens, Mockingbirds and Downy woodpeckers.

All the ingredients for Zick Dough

All mixed up and ready to be cooled.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Oh Grumble

The phone rang this morning at 5am. It was dark so it really could have been 3 am in my sleep filled mind. Steve got up and said 'Hello'. I am thinking that someone has died and I am sitting up now staring at him. He doesn't say anything, he just walks over to the window and looks out through the blind slats. Now I am thinking a neighbors house is on fire. He hangs up and sits down. I am all like 'what...who was that...why didn't you say anything...?' He gets back under the covers and tells me that the girls have a 2 hour delay for school. Are you kidding me, they call us for that and they call at 5am? Who's up at 5am? As I turned off the 6:30 'go wake up Emma alarm' and tried to go back to sleep I kept thinking how funny it is that we say 'Hello' to an automated voice. Steve sounded so concerned when he answered this morning and that made it even funnier. The positive side of being awakened at 5am was that we all could sleep in for an extra hour. woo hoo! Oh and by the way, we didn't have any snow...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Technology has nothing on me... bring it!

The girls headed back to school on Monday. We were all ready for normal schedules and routines to be back in place. Both my girls are such social creatures, especially Ellie, that getting out of the house and back amongst their peers is something they were ready for after two weeks of school break. I must admit, I was itching to get them out of the house too... is that really horrible to admit? I am kidding for the most part but boy the quiet and stillness of a house with no children is something to treasure on some days.

I have needed to have that quiet concentration time too because I purchased a new computer for the studio with the Windows 7 operating system. I give credit to Microsoft because this system is much more user friendly and a nice change from Windows XP, the operating system I was using prior to this one...but (there's always a but...) with the joy of new technology comes the pain and frustration of favorite programs that no longer work and lots of transferring, uploading, downloading and looking for software to reinstall. I don't consider myself one that dislikes change. For the most part I embrace moving onward and upward, I am hip that way, but when my very cherished Illustrator program can no longer survive in the high paced world of Windows 7, I am ready to pull the plug and go back to the safe and accepting world of Windows XP. I decided I couldn't bring myself to do that and I had to figure out a way to make it all work that was convenient for me. I didn't want to physically relocate to use another computer. I needed the perfect solution. I needed a shared system. Well, nothing is totally perfect but the solution I came up with is pretty close. Long story short, I have connected my two computers with a special cable that allows them to share a monitor, mouse and keyboard and I can toggle from one system to the other and use my beloved programs once again. There's still a learning curve but I am working out the kinks baby!

In other exciting news, Ellie finally learned how to tie shoes! Really? She's seven...what's the rush? This has been something that has been driving me crazy because all her shoes are velcro or straps or slip ons. They hardly make any children shoes with laces anymore - have you noticed that?? Tonight I told her you are not going to bed until you learn how to tie. After a few tries, she did it and we celebrated and danced and shared hi-fives! Alright, well I think that is enough exciting news for you to handle in one day, don't want to overload you!

Friday, January 1, 2010

It’s a New Year!


Another year has come and gone. A year that we were so grateful to have with our girls. Another year that cancer stayed away and that my friends makes it a fabulous year!. We prayed last night for a healthy 2010 for all of us, especially Ellie. We will get on with the daily living of life and continue to appreciate each day. We are so thankful.

We had a pretty amazing 2009. We saw the face of Jesus and felt His presence so deeply. He gave us a miracle for Ellie on that day in early May when that concerning tumor that had imaged up for cancer on the PET scan and on the MRI just a day earlier was gone. All Dr. Boop saw in that area when he opened Ellie up was healthy brain. No scientific explanation but those that believe know that God can do anything if it is part of His will. I truly believe Ellie will stay cancer free and as we say every day, ‘God did not create cancer and it has no place in my body’. Thank you Jesus for your healing and for the peace that only you can provide. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

Sadly we also experienced a year of heart breaking losses. Many friends that we have made over the last two years went to heaven. If we did not have our new and strong faith in God, we would be consumed with anger and bitterness. But I know in my heart where everyone went. It is a truth I am so very grateful to have. It brings great comfort when the heaviness of missing and longing and questioning begins. I realized this year that there are things I have no control over and that difficult turns in the road of life are going to be a reality. What I do have control over is how I handle these turns, the ones that I cannot control. Asking God for guidance and for strength and for a positive outcome and relying on myself as well to find the positive is how I make it through. I had a great deal of guilt over the year as well. With so many children passing away and Ellie seemingly beating her cancer, I questioned why. I cannot question why. I just need to be thankful and trust. I found a quote that puts it all into the right perspective - "Inside the will of God there is no failure. Outside the will of God there is no success." Again, I have learned to let go of the control and I try each day to accept and appreciate that day…not to look into the future and worry about what could be. It’s a lesson I have to keep teaching myself but I understand that this is the only way. For all those that passed onto the next life, we will never forget you. You have helped us to see the light.

We had a lot of fun over the last year too. We visited Disney World, spent time frolicking on the beach in Cape Cod, explored underground caverns and saw bears, birds, deer and new life around each corner in the mountains of Virginia. We splashed in the waters of VA Beach and visited friends and family in Connecticut and South Carolina. We walked the city streets of New York all decorated for Christmas and visited our home away from home in Memphis. We went to concerts, movies, and school functions. We continued to support St. Jude and raise awareness for pediatric cancer. We adopted a new kitten that we all fell in love with. We enjoyed nature everywhere we went. We saw Emma’s braces come off after several years revealing a beautiful smile. We witnessed Ellie bounce back from the harsh cancer treatments her body endured. We were grateful for the continued advancement of our careers and and for coming home to a supportive community of friends. We spent time at home and loved being here. We laughed a lot, prayed more and shed tears for our pain and the pain of others. That all sums up living and boy are we glad to be in the game of life. 2010 we are ready for you. One day at a time.