Lover of nature, color, art, life, adventure. Choosing to find beauty. I hope you can find inspiration and joy while you're here.


Watercolor Magic- Turning a Favorite Bad Photo Into Art

So, my dreamguy has a favorite photo of me and our daughter wading in the Great Salt Lake. He took it on his crappy old flip phone from far away, but he said he loves how dreamy it looks, and was quite smitten by the moment:

I thought the photo was a bust until he mentioned that it would make a good watercolor painting. Best. Idea. Ever. It made so much sense to me and I'm glad he said something about it! So, in one of our mama-daughter painting sessions, I took a stab at recreating the photo in watercolors while the wee one painted "angels holding hands and flying around dancing" as we listened to some Grand Canyon Suite and Best of Bread on the record player.

This painting went pretty quickly, and now it's hanging up in our front room. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, and the best part is, we all agree it's much better than the photo. It turns out that watercolor = magic.

Do you have a favorite photo that you think would make a great sketch or painting? It's fun to imagine pictures in different forms of media because each exudes a unique feeling.


Baby Photo Shoot

Our recent addition to the extended family is quiet and calm. (Finally! We needed one of those!) I had the pleasure of documenting her tiny little self at one week old:

Ahhh, all that thick gorgeous hair! And those bright knowing eyes. Don't you just know an old soul when you see one? We're going to be good buddies, this little girl and I. The timing (aka lighting) wasn't ideal, but we did our best with what we had. The bitty potato was awake the whole time and was a little on the squirmy side, but I managed to get a few good ones in.

It can be tricky to photograph babies: the acne, the sausage link splotchy skin, the lack of control over bodily functions, the wailing and flailing...but, so worth it! Any advice on taking newborn photos?


Some Quick Phone Tips: Taking Photos of Kids

My sister has three crazy littles that run around like the wild and beautiful creatures they were born to be. It makes it a little hard to take nice photos of them, though, so she recently asked me how in the heck I get nice photos of my kid on my phone. She said she likes to take lots of pictures of her kids but they move around a lot (I can attest this is true), so she wanted to know a few tips for how to take a not blurry photo using her iPhone.

Every kid moves at different speeds, and I'm no expert on phones, but I'm a pretty decent picture taker, so I'm sharing this in hopes that it might help someone else. These are the tips I gave my sister:


First, because you don't have a lot of settings you can adjust, you need to make sure you have good lighting. Even indoors can be too dark if you aren't by a window or something. You want as much light (natural is best) as possible. Information for your photo is stored in the form of light, so the more light you have in a picture, the more information is it storing, so it can contain more details


Another trick I use on my phone is to tap the screen where my subject is. It puts a little box around the place I tapped which tells my phone that is the subject on my screen that I want to focus on. The square will lock in on your subject even if you move around a bit, so it might also follow moving subjects to an extent.. Your phone should automatically adjust the focus to be on the subject with the yellow box around it.


Another thing that might be useful to know is that your phone takes a picture when your finger lifts from the shutter button, not the instant you push the button. I know it's only like a second of a difference but if you know how that works it could help you understand how to better time your photos.


Another thing to consider is that the more zoomed in you are, the more pixelated or blurry your photo will be. Try to keep your camera zoomed out as much as possible. You can always crop your photo to be smaller or more zoomed in later, but if you don't take a large photo to begin with, you don't have a lot of info stored in your picture and can't zoom in without compromising your details.


The last thing I do is edit and adjust my pictures. I can change color, brightness, contrast, saturation, focus's how I turn my ok pictures into magical ones. I use Instagram for editing the photos before I post them but there are hundreds of photo editing apps at your disposal. You can also edit your phone photos on your computer. I edit my other digital photos in Photoshop, but your computer should have at least one basic photo editing program that came with the software. Editing photos makes your pictures look professional, for sure.


I didn't share this with my sis, but taking multiple photos will allow for mistakes and blurry photos. Not every picture is going to be blur-free, even for professional and well-seasoned phone photographers, but if you take 10 shots instead of 1, the chances of having a non-blurry photo seem to be a little higher.

Those are the thoughts I shared with my sister at least. Did you find them helpful? Do you have any other phone tip wisdom that someone trying to capture moving kids might find helpful?


Word of the Year 2015

The word that picked me for 2015 is a tiny little two-letter gal with a lot of fire behind her:

Boom. I'm excited to explore this word more this year. After last year's break to refocus my energies, this word is just what I need. I realized last autumn that I was lacking in that extra motivation I usually rely on, so I'm hoping that my new WOTY will boost it a bit.

So far, I know I need to focus on JUST DO, DO GOOD, and DO IT ANYWAY.

I'm hoping to spend less time thinking (the fretful kind) and more time just doing things. I'm a thinker by nature which means I spend at least 3/4 of my time thinking a project through and maybe 1/4 of my time executing it. That ratio has got to change.

I'm hoping to keep focused on good wholesome things and choosing to do the best possible thing. I want to maintain what I've worked on this year by ensuring I don't just do good things, but given the choice between two good things, also picking the best one. I need my actions to continue to support intentional and meaningful consequences.

I'm hoping to accept the fact that doing things instead of just planning them means I will make mistakes, and I'm okay with that. No more excuses, but lots more action. (Yikes! This one is hard for me!)

I'm also keeping my heart open to other lessons I can learn throughout the year because I am sure there are many more aspects of this WOTY that will add to my perspective. In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed to happen, just like it does every year.

Last year, the word I chose was peace, and you can read my honest thoughts here if you'd like to see how it went for me in 2014. Other words I've picked in the past are change, savor, and fresh. I love how the word is ingrained in my heart by the end of the year and is a living, growing part of who I am constantly becoming.

Even though I've been doing this for the last five years, lots of other amazing people have similar practices that they've been doing for just as long (or longer!). For more thoughts behind the purpose of adopting a word for a whole year, check out Ali Edward's One Little Word (she also has a workshop to help guide your thoughts during this undertaking, which I've never used it but I'm sure is great), or Elise Blaha Cripe, or Liz Lamoreux, or a growing handful of some of my friends and family who have found their own ways to make this a meaningful addition to their lives. Maybe you have close friends or family who have a similar tradition.

So what say you? Do you have a word? If so, what is it and what are you hoping to gain from it?


So Grateful Today

Grateful today for family who got home safely from holiday travels, for a new Christmas-eve addition to the bitty cousin line-up, for cozy warm homes in the bleak midwinter, for toddlers who know how to sing "In the Bleak Midwinter," and for Christmas giftcards to Appleby's (because who wants to cook the week after Christmas, anyways?!)

What are you grateful for today?