Friday, July 29, 2011

The Wall.

The goal for these boards is to have one place where our whole family can know what's up for the week, what we're eating, and read messages, quotes, etc, that will change randomly.  I thought it would be fun since Grace and Patie are both more than able to read "anything" now, and Lily is working on it, so I thought they'd like the idea.  They really do- they've been really into it, which makes me happy and glad I went for it.

Also, I had the idea that I could take a snapshot of the board every week, for archiving.  I think it will be fun to look back on.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


One of my goals to finish by the end of the summer was to paint this dresser blue.  Well, it's been a goal to paint it for a long, long time.  But I made it a priority to FINALLY finish it before school starts.

I went back and forth on the new color for a while- between a deep, burned orange and blue.  Any friend I asked said they liked it as-is.  I really like this color too, but couldn't make peace with it with my current curtains, which are a taupe/olive faux silk.  I really, really liked those as-is.  At first when I painted the dresser, I'd thought those drapes would go to my bedroom, but then that went a different direction, and I really like them where they are so....the dresser needed to change.  It wasn't a glaring problem, or I would have done this, say....2 years ago.

So, the back and forth, and then I saw this and this, and my mind was SET on the blue-  I like this blue, but have almost nothing in that color, and it will really pop well with the types of colors I typically have out.  It's interesting, but not crazy.  Seasonless.

So.... to finish it quickly, and cheaply, and try out the new shade, I used spray paint- Krylon Oxford Blue in Satin finish.  (I've spray painted before with good, lasting results.)  The entire project took three hours (including all the drying times between coats) from start of dismantling the dresser and contents, to putting the stuff back in.  This is my kind of hands-on project.

The only thing I would do differently is not apply the clear coat afterwards, which dries unevenly, no matter what I do, any time I use it.  Apparently it doesn't reliably do what it's supposed to do, or, I am doing it wrong, despite following directions.  The paint looked best before I clear coated it- but since taking these shots, I "sanded" the clear coat down a bit with paper towels and that actually helped a ton.

This is what the dresser looked like originally, when I saved it from the trash.

This is how it looked yesterday...

And three hours later....

We keep useful and ugly things inside, like a drawer full of DVDs, a drawer full of kids' games, and a drawer full of Wii remotes and games, etc.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dining Room

I've been aiming to change up my dining room wall for a long time.

I wanted to add a large-scale chalkboard, and begin extending the gallery wall in our living room into the dining room- just the beginning stage- so it can grow and evolve over time.

You can see what used to be on this wall here at Pinterest.

And you can see this pin board for the things that inspired me as I decided what to do with the projects I've done lately, as well as the after-shots.

I ended up with this (please excuse the non-artistic wide angle shots from my point and shoot that you are about to see....)

In the future, I can write all kids of things up there- quotes, a menu, notes and messages, whatever.  I like that there are two and they are divided- I can use them as one, or do two different things.

See, I'm wanting the wall from the Living Room to flow into the Dining Room, with room to grow and evolve over time, eventually rising higher and bridging the gap above the doorway up the vault...

I also didn't want to spend any money on these projects I've been doing.  Other than the chalk boards, so far so good.

This is my Mom's rolling pin, which she barely used, but I have fond memories of it (and pie crust) when I was young.  I used my picture-hanging kit and attached a claw hood to the back of it so it's secure on the wall.  Originally I didn't know how I'd display it, then I saw this and had a lightbulb/why didn't I think of that moment.

This is the platter my Mom always put turkey on at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I thought I'd write messages etc. on it with glass markers (which I originally have for this).

I purchased the vinyl chalkboard panels here, and Jim put them up for me last weekend.  They stay where you put them, clean off with ease, and create very little dust because they're softer than a regular chalkboard.  I highly recommend them.

And that is all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Yesterday I sorted through all the recipes from my Mom's recipe box...

And placed some of the more interesting/treasured ones here in our kitchen.

I will not mince words.  My mother was a terrible cook. 

But she was surrounded by generations of wonderful cooks- and incredibly good recipes. 


Monday, July 25, 2011

Funnels of Cake

While I was sorting through my Mom's recipes, I found this old photocopy and thought, "Hey, that's really simple."

Not 10 minutes later, we had these...

Extremely simple- not that we'll be making them often- whew!


We have five or six different types of lilies in our garden.  These large, white ones are by far the grandest.  The first one bloomed this morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sioux Falls Photography Workshop

I'm jazzed to announce that The Ransom Church will host my next three-part workshop on August 27, at the new Ransom building, 700 N Main, Uptown Sioux Falls.  All session fees are tax-deductible and will be used to support Jim and I as we travel to Zambia in the fall with Poetice.  Read more about my experiences in Africa here.

These classes are valuable, fun, and interactive.  They are full of incredibly useful information and tons of inspiration- in a relaxed environment that is never intimidating. 

I work with natural light only, and almost exclusively use examples from my everyday life in my classes.  These classes are geared toward everyday photographers who want to be creatively inspired and technically equipped to take excellent shots in everyday life, without purchasing extra equipment or software.  This isn't a workshop for aspiring professionals, nor is it a class for people who want to learn how to use Photoshop (though I commonly answer editing-related questions in class).  These classes are about getting excellence in your straight-out-of-camera shots, and that is extremely important to me.

Anyone who has ever taken a class or workshop with me has access to ask questions via email, skype, or phone at any time in the future- and I mean that.  This is just a starting point.  As you go and apply these skills in your real life, you'll have questions, and I'm here to help.  Past students really do take me up on this.  You can too.

Workshop Details:

When: Saturday, August 27
WhereThe Ransom Church in Sioux Falls, SD (700 N Main, Uptown)

This workshop will be held in three parts.  You may book a spot in one, two, or all three sessions. 

Session 1: DSLR Basics, Session Begins at Noon, DSLR Camera Required

Learn the core basics to understanding your DSLR camera, how it functions, and how to gain control to begin using it to it's full potential. Grow in confidence and skill with this hands-on informative class. This class is appropriate for anyone with a DSLR who does not yet shoot in Manual mode with confidence.  If possible, bring your camera's manual for reference along with your DSLR. 

Session 2: Basic Photography, Session begins at 1:45, All Cameras Welcome

Almost everything that makes a photograph great happens before you click the shutter.  We will cover the technical and creative basics you'll need to take great photographs with any camera. Bring your camera, and the manual, if possible.

Session 3:  Natural Light and Portraiture, Session Begins at 3:30, All Cameras Welcome

We'll learn the basics of portraiture and learn how to harness and maximize available light in your photographs. Bring your camera to practice your skills, and learn how to take better pictures of the people in your life. Model provided.

Participation in the Basic Photography session in tandem with this class is highly recommended.

Ready to book a spot?

To save a place in one, two, or all three sessions, contact Lissa at The Ransom Church Office.  You can reach Lissa at 605.988.4853 or email her at Suggested donation is a minimum of $25 per session, and all donations are tax deductible.

If you live in the Sioux Falls area, or know someone that does, would you please let your friends know about the workshop by sending them this link

You can share the details on Facebook by visiting this page. 

Feel free to email me with any questions at

Thank You!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


No lie, I've returned to watch this video from last year well over a dozen times- I keep finding reasons to show it to new people.  It's one of the best things I've ever seen on variety television- You cannot watch this and not smile. 

And they did it AGAIN! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Baptism 7.11

Hey everyone-  I have a really busy couple of weeks, so my blog will be hit or miss until August. 

We did have an amazing night last night celebrating several baptisms with our friends at The Ransom.  Wanted to post these before I left.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Something Gray on a Sunny Day.

Have a great weekend, everyone.  I don't know about you, but I plan to stay up late tonight, eat a lazy breakfast with my family (blueberry scones and lots of coffee), swim, read, see friends, pick flowers, get things done, get nothing done, go on a date, grill food in the hot sun, and sit on the edge of my seat in an icy cold movie theatre.  Peace out.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I thought it was full
But it was halfway to the top
Love is an ocean tryin' to fill this tiny cup
Under bright sun and stars
We crash into the sand
All that I knew, I am having to learn again

And it's taken me over
Taken me over
And the heart I thought was full was halfway

The postman's comin'
Got your face pressed to the glass
Paper and boxes like a circus rambling past
Through heavy eyes
There's a close view of the trees
A new life coming everybody wants to see

And it's taken me over
Taken me over
And the heart I thought was full was halfway

Strong winds and tidal waves
Out of the harbor into the wake

I thought it was full
But it was halfway to the top
Love is an ocean and I am a tiny cup

And it's taken me over
Taken me over
And the heart I thought was full was halfway

-Sandra McCracken, Halfway

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Upcoming Rapid City Workshop

Hey everyone!

This is a friendly reminder to all my Rapid City peeps that you can still get a spot at the upcoming three-part photography workshop on July 23. 

Workshop Details:

When: Saturday, July 23

Where: Fountain Springs Community Church in Rapid City.  The classes will be held in the church office.  Visit the FSCC website here for directions.

This workshop will be held in three parts. You may book a spot in one, two, or all three sessions. 

Cost: You've missed the early registration deadline, but, don't worry!  You can still get in with a
 $35 minimum donation to Poetice per session, at the doorAll donations are tax deductible and support Jim and I as we travel to Zambia in the fall.  See below for information on how to RSVP.

These classes are perfect for everyday people who want to learn how to improve their photography skills in a fun, relaxed environment.  The DSLR Basics session focuses on the technical information you'll need to gain control of your DSLR and to get out of AUTO Mode.  The Creative Basics and Natural Light and Portraiture sessions are appropriate for anyone with a camera.  Each session contains unique content, without overlaps in information.

Yes, the deadline for early registration has passed, but you can still RSVP by emailing me ( to let us know which sessions you'll be attending, and you can make your donation at the door on the 23rd. About half of the spots are still available in each of the three sessions. If you know someone who might like to join us, pass it on! 

Catch you on the West Side....


The Hostas

My Aunt Reta was 2 years older than my Mom, and they were very close.

When Reta graduated from high school, she waited for Mary to graduate too, and they went to beauty school together, lived together.

They got married in the same year, and shared a wedding dress. 
Reta wore it first in March, then my Mom in June. 

Then they both had baby boys together.

Fourteen years later, in their mid thirties, they both bad baby girls together. 
Growing up playing with my cousin Stephanie, exactly my age, it never occurred to me how unusual it was that they could pull that off, but they did.

They had hundreds of long phone conversations.

We took trips together, spending summer time at each other's houses.

My Mom regarded Reta as her sister, and her best friend, her whole life.

I have vivid, fond memories of  them together in the summer, bare feet up on the back deck, ice cold wine coolers in hand, laughing out loud.

When Reta got cancer, my Mom got cancer too.

Reta passed away just after her 67th birthday, in January.  Mom was devastated.  And then she passed away just before her 65th birthday, just five months behind her sister.  Reta never knew my Mom had cancer.  She couldn't bear to tell her.  The last time they saw each other, I was there.  We knew Reta didn't have long, but it was unbelievable, because she just seemed unsinkable.
As Reta hugged my Mom goodbye, she said, "I'll be waiting for ya!".  My Dad was able to tell that story several times last week.

The first summer of Reta's treatments, she gave my Mom some hostas and a few other flowers from her garden, things my Mom didn't already have (they both loved to garden).  I actually photographed some of these hostas without knowing it while I was at Reta's last summer- you can see them here

About a month ago, Mom walked through her garden with Jim, giving us some of those hostas for our own house.

Now I walk out my front door and see these hostas that Reta gave my Mom and my Mom gave to us, and, it's bittersweet.  But they are beautiful, and they'll stick around year after year, and I'm grateful.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So Close.

In all it's simplicity, it communicates SO MUCH.  Best movie poster. Ever.

We won't be able to see it right away, but, you can bet these Potter-Nerds will get there.

Poison and Wine

You only know what I want you to
I know everything you don't want me to
Your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine
You think your dreams are the same as mine

Oh I don't love you but I always will
I don't love you but I always will
I don't love you but I always will
I always will

I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back
The less I give the more I get back
Your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I don't have a choice but I still choose you...

-Poison and Wine, The Civil Wars

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bella's Dragonfly

Bella caught a little something this morning.*

Mortally wounded, it couldn't fly.  But it was very much still alive.  So of course we took turns holding it, carefully inspecting it. 

Then we put it back in the garden, with it's 500 offspring (see previous post).

Hopefully it will eat a few more mosquitoes before it dies...

*Absolutely no comments on the condition of our deck allowed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Got a Lot of These

The Fourth

Well, I went for slow and shaky shutter speeds.  Not at all like I said I would.  I was feeling tired, reflective.  It fits.

The Fourth of July was always a tradition for our family.  It was my mom's birthday, and it's not a holiday when we'd have to travel from one family's house to another, so for the most part, we were together for the fourth, every year.

This year, we all left my mom's visitation, grabbed food, and waited for the sun to go down.  She would have been 65 this year.

This is my brother Matt-  all three of my brothers love lighting things on fire, but, fireworks were always especially Matt's thing.