August 31, 2014

catching up, in photos....

 the age when running water is the most. fun. ever.
 the itsy bitsy spider, crawled up the water spout......
 not many kids get to see things from this dizzying height
 A kind woman stopped by to let my daughter feed her horse. Is there any creature more beautiful?
 I love this face.
 and this one...
 a beautiful lunch spot.....
 A truth about many parents I know: We care for our children, often collapsing into bed, but then we'll snuggle up with our spouse/mate and look over photos of our kids from the day...even though we Just put them to bed.
 If they could talk, they'd all be telling the little girl to simply Look, the frick Up. They couldn't be clearer about their desire for free snacks. One guy even has his tongue out.
I know that the Autumn doesn't officially kick off until Sept. 22, but the Labour Day weekend always feels like the end of Summer. I hope you have had many highlights over your Summer. What were your favourite moments? xoxo

August 22, 2014

10 simple tips to improve your photographs.....

Hello friends! Since photography is one of my biggest passions, I thought I'd share a few tips I've learned over the years that can really help improve your photos. Happy shooting!

Leading lines: a pathway that is easy for the eyes to follow. It draws us into the photograph. Look for roadways, bridges, train tracks, shorelines, logs, anything that help create a feeling of depth.

Shoot the red. Our eyes are naturally drawn to red, that's why we have red lights, red stop signs and magazine covers will most often shoot models wearing red. Red immediately adds some interest to your photos. 
The Rule of thirds. When you are shooting a photograph, think of your photo as being divided into a 3x3 grid. Where those lines intersect, is where you want to photograph your subject. Photos feel more static when the subject is placed square in the middle.
Composition. Allow your subject to move. If I had zoomed in and photographed her on one step, it wouldn't have the same energy as leaving the entire staircase in. If your subject is facing to the right, leave some space in the direction they are looking. The space you allow your subject to move within is just as important as the subject you are shooting. 
Adjust your perspective. This is particularly effective when shooting children and animals. Get down to their level. For the photo above, I was lying down on the slide. Lie down next to your pets. Stand on a chair looking down at your baby. Change up your perspective so that you aren't always staring at your subjects straight on. 
Balance: The weight holding the balloons helps balance out the angle they are creating. Photos are also more balanced when shooting in odd numbers. You can create symmetry through asymmetry. Odd numbers help balance out the central subject. It's a principle you'll also see carried through in interior design. Three vases of varying heights, are more interesting visually than a pair of matching vases. 
Patterns: Look for repetitious patterns to create a strong visual impact. I think it is also very effective if you find a strong repetitious pattern with one outlier. For example, if you photographed a close up shot of a bowl of red m&ms and stuck one purple one in the mix. 
Re-think the traditional family portrait: Some of my favourite photographs of our family are close ups of our hands intertwined, or our bare feet all together on a sandy beach. You don't always have to lean in for the smartphone selfies to create beautiful family portraits. 
Natural light: If you are photographing anyone indoors, my biggest tip is to have them face a window.  The natural light is so much softer than any camera flash, and let me tell you, it works wonders for hiding any lines. Here's a simple indoor photo shoot tip for parents: Turn your sofa around, so that the back of it faces the window. Drape a white or solid coloured sheet over it. Have your child sit on the floor, facing the window, leaning against the back of the sofa. It'll look like you photographed them in a studio with the beautiful lighting and simple backdrop.
Get Candid: When I'm photographing my daughter, I'll often just snap random shots while she is playing. I'm way more likely to get a variety of interesting facial expressions in the photographs, truly capturing her spirit than if I stand her in front of me for a "say cheese" moment. 

The beautiful thing about digital photography is that you can practice, practice, practice. 
Remember the days of film where every photo counted? You never knew if you had something completely wrong until you waited a week, dropped a wad of cash,  and reviewed your photographs.  I once had a little point and shoot camera and an entire role of film had my finger in every shot. Here's me and my finger skiing, here's me and my finger at the Canucks game.....

Happy shooting!

August 19, 2014

checking in....

*I included this last photo because it's not everyday you see a mail box nicer than your own home.

Hello friends!! How have you been? Life has been busy, but I wanted to catch a breath and write to you with a big mug of tea in hand.
Are you trying to cram in any last minute plans as the Summer winds down? I definitely don't want to rush things because we've been having such a gorgeous stretch of weather, but I always love it when it is back to school time. Not that I'm in school. It's been a couple of years now since I graduated. And by couple, I mean decades. But I love school supplies. Lined paper, folders, pens, post its, are you kidding me? I'll be elbowing all those moms for 10 cent packages of paper, even though it's just for my own personal "in case I need to make lists" collection or catch up with old pen pals.

But enough of my breezy opener. Life had a few hiccups last week. There was one day in particular last week, which was one of the most stressful I've had in months. My dad had a surgical procedure on his heart called an Ablation and after a day or two at home, had a reaction to the procedure (heart started racing, shortness of breath and gained 11 pounds of water weight in a few short days) and had to be taken to emergency. He was then transported by ambulance to VGH so that they could run dye through his body to verify if there were blockages to his heart. If they found any, they'd have to perform bypass surgery right then and there. While Dad was getting his tests done,  Mom had to get her latest CT scan results to see how the cancer was growing. In my Dad's absence, I held her hand and could tell you, I was sick to my stomach waiting for the doctor to come in the room. Suddenly I felt like I had to be the parent, and I was petrified to the core, but I put on a brave face for Mom.
The results: the tumours are still stable so she gets a reprieve from Chemo for a few months. We leaned on one another and cried happy tears. I said,  "What do you want to do to celebrate!! I still have babysitting, we can go out!"  Her response? "Well, I do need a few things at Costco." And so life goes on.
 Then mom's phone rang, dad's scan was clear and they were transporting him back to our local hospital. We all celebrated in dad's hospital room that night and dad said it best, "it's been a really good day for our family." (My hubby also was in another hospital that day, having cysts removed from his head, that proved to be harmless). It was a three hospital day - we were definitely getting our money's worth of BC's medical care that day. During it all, I was thinking, we have all of these days where life just ticks along, and we get comfortable in the daily regimen of work/fitness/chores....but every so often, life throws you these days to challenge all that you know - that rock you to your core - where you're suddenly in the thick of Life, capital L. I was so grateful for the results we received that day, and know I won't always be so lucky. But I choose to stay focussed on the moment I'm in because nobody knows what lies ahead. They say our lives are marked by 10 defining moments where you've learned the most about life (and yourself) through your response to them. And when I say "they say" I may or may not mean Dr. Phil. But I digress.......
Looking back, what would be some of your life defining moments? Are they major events? Are they little events that somehow changed the course of your life? I'd love to ask my friends this question because I'm fascinated by the differences in everyone's lists.
Please feel free to leave comments below if you'd like to share some of your moments.

August 13, 2014

the weekend, in images.....

Hello friends! I hope you have been well. It has been a very busy week, I'll update you more on that soon! But it is late, and I have to rise early, so here are a few images from our little getaway to Parksville this past weekend. It really is an awesome place to take the family.

 One of the most amazing kites I've seen. It was mesmerizing.

Rathtrevor Beach - definitely a highlight from the trip.
 When the tide is out, Rathrevor's beautiful soft sand stretches out forever, well, obviously not forever, but you know what I mean. It's stunning. You can do a lot of baywatch running. 

Sand sculptors working their magic at the sandcastle competition. It put ours a little to shame, although, not to brag, but we did have a moat, as all good sand sculptures do. I don't see one here, just sayin'. 
 Our friends watched our little gal, giving the hubby & I an hour to run together through Rathtrevor Provincial Park. It was one of the most stunning spots I've ever ran - with trails weaving through the woods and along the waterfront. 
 The playground at Parksville Community Park is one of the biggest I've seen. It was a huge hit with the kiddos. 
 I'm already planning the wedding.
Morningstar Farm, one of my favourite spots to visit because they just let you walk around this amazing, working farm. We saw cows that were only two days old and got to feed goats, sheep and bunnies. Hey, maybe they were secretly putting us to work.

 tending to their property.

Heading home on the closest thing we have come to a cruise ship - good ol BC Ferries. 

August 7, 2014


Today's gratitude list pretty much writes itself.

  • My Dad pulling through his heart surgery. It was a lot longer than we anticipated and hearing his groggy voice was the best sound ever. I am also extremely grateful my team let me leave work early to be with my mom at the hospital. I'd also like to give a shout out to my Aunty Ann, who just might be the most amazing support system I have ever known/witnessed. She stayed with my mom from the early hours of the morning and was cooking with her at 9pm when I checked in. I love her to bits.
  • My hubby. 15 years married today and 20 years together. Marrying him is, without a shadow of a doubt, the single best decision I've ever made. Life is a beautiful adventure when travelled with your best friend. 
  • My friends. Supportive. Lovely. Ever so thoughtful with their kind calls/texts/check ins on dad. My friend Tricia showed up at my doorstep, with a giant, beautiful bouquet of flowers, blowing me away with her generosity. You know how people have a thing - hers is taking thoughtfulness to a whole new level. Craig and I often ask ourselves, what would Tricia do in this situation? Because we know it makes us better people.

August 6, 2014

silver linings

Wednesday, Aug. 6
Today I dashed home from work, gulped down dinner and whisked my little gal to the beach to catch the Snowbirds put on a spectacular show. By Snowbirds, I'm not referring to the senior citizens lining the beach. I'm talking about these guys. There were several moments where I was holding my breath, in awe of their precision, jaw dropping skills and artistry. A few times I got choked up, completely caught up in the beauty of it all.

Today I am grateful for:
  • Running into friends on the beach and enjoying the Snowbirds show together.
  • Being given a free lunch at work today - an extremely delicious veggie burger. Fixins too, you ask? Oh there were plenty o' fixins.
  • Colouring with my little girl and having her lean over and whisper, "I love you mommy." 

Tuesday, August 5th:
Today's gratitude toppers were:

  • Forcing myself to get off my butt and go running with our group, and feeling like one million dollars after it all. I stress the word after it all because during the run, there were definitely moments that if I had a wallet on me, I would have hailed a cab.
  • Dressing up in party dresses and dancing around the living room with my favourite redhead.
  • Comedic minds like these. I have nothing but respect and time for people with quick wit.

August 5, 2014

the weekend round images.....

Hello friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend full of lots of laughter. I know this daily gratitude list I'm doing for August might come off as a bit corny (or a lot), but I really believe that it is good for the soul to see the beautiful moments (big and small) that set your days apart. You are what you think, and if you look for the best parts of your day, you'll be tuned into what is going right in your life, putting yourself in a positive mindset. It really does work. 

Monday, Aug. 4
Today is my hubby's birthday and B.C. Day. I was so thrilled that even though we were State-side this morning, we made it back home in time to celebrate BC Day dinner with the crew. 
Today I am grateful for:
  • Our daughter sleeping in until 8, which felt as luxurious as the King sized bed we were snuggled in. Why don't I own one of those again?!? I'm pretty sure my hubby is taller than most "Kings" of yore, so why don't we sleep in giant beds like those rich midgets did?
  • My hubby. He is the funniest, most grounded and least selfish person I've ever met. It's a fantastic combination. I don't need his birthday to remind me of this. I just feel particularly grateful that this birthday boy is married to me.
  • Seeing the children of our friends, sprouting up before my eyes - some even past me! Fifteen and 6'3"already? How is this happening? Magic beans? Wheaties? Great genetics?

Sunday, Aug. 3:
On Sunday, we went on a mini getaway. We spent the morning in Fairhaven and the afternoon/evening in Old Bellingham, two communities that I just adore in Washington. Fairhaven has an old charm about it with brick buildings, bookstores, great restaurants and little boutique shops. It's the perfect place to stroll and browse, if those are two of your favourite pastimes. 
 Bellingham has a young vibrant feel with craft breweries, coffee shops, bakeries, hip restaurants and funky stores. Both towns are extremely walkable. Even though it's a short drive from home, we booked a hotel with a pool and fully immersed ourselves in our mini holiday. I always feel so refreshed after our little getaways because I really savour our quality time together where we get to see new sights and carve out our own adventures. (Added bonus, I'm not looking at all of the housework that needs to be done.) Two places I highly recommend stopping in at are: Mallard Ice Cream, where the ice cream is handmade and comes in a wild variety of flavours. When we were there, flavours like sour cream, tumeric, olive oil, were a few of the offerings. I totally wussied out from the bizarre flavours and stuck to Lemon Cheesecake, but it was de-lish I tell you! Another favourite find was the Boundary Bay Brewery - probably the best family friendly restaurant I've experienced. While we were waiting for our patio table, they let us order a beer in the beer garden below, where there's a play area for the kids. We were literally sitting beside her in the play area, sipping a delicious cold beer. Civilized much? The place was packed with tables full of locals for their trivia night. It was such a great, vibrant setting. It's the first time we've been to a restaurant where our little gal didn't want to leave. She met so many local kids and was having so much fun playing, that we were forced to sit back and enjoy another delicious beer. Honestly, when you don't have it in your budget to do a giant trip, sometimes these little breaks from your routine are the next best thing to feel revived and recharged.

So, for my gratitude list, the three toppers from this day were:
  • Encountering no border wait, in spite of the fact it was a long weekend. The day before people had sat in two hour line ups, so we were prepared for the worst. 
  • Swimming at our hotel, which, in spite of the fact it was advertised as 2.5 stars, was gorgeous, clean and new inside.
  • Loving the community feel at the Boundary Bay Brewery. Sitting next to the playground, watching our daughter have the best time, while we got to relax and chat with some of the hippie locals. I loved everything about this place.
Saturday, Aug. 2
Saturdays' gratitude was easy:

  • Having breakfast and a stroll through the woods with my two favourite gals in the world
  • Making homemade turkey burgers for the first time in my life and LOVING how delicious they are. (Hint, you can serve them with Tzatziki on lettuce if you want to skip the bun)
  • Having a wonderful catch up with two of our oldest & dearest friends: Tam & John.