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Friday, June 30, 2017

July Instagram Challenge

June is coming to a close, which means it is time for a new Instagram challenge. For July, let's find some Summer Fun to photograph! Use the hashtag #MTSummerFunInstagram2017 to tag your photos. Remember that the interpretation of the prompts is entirely up to you---just shoot a picture each day and post it to Instagram. If you need to miss a day or switch them up to fit your calendar, no problem, just jump in wherever you can.  If you would like to download a copy of the prompts to your phone for easy access, just click on the photo below and then save (I tag mine as a Favorite).

Remember to check out the hashtag from time to time so that you can meet new friends and find a bit of inspiration.  I'd love to know you if you are playing along, so send me a comment either here or on my Instagram if you are new.

P. S.  If you would like to learn/practice some techniques to improve your phone photography, be sure to refer to my March series on Picture Practice. (just type in Picture Practice in the search box for all of the posts)
Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sunflowers for Days

If you follow my Instagram, you know that the Sunflower fields I've made several trips out to the sunflower fields lately. The first trip was an impromptu trip with Callie and the boys. We are both trying to get back in our running routine, and weekend runs are essential for that. I've been wanting to join a local group, the SMR (Saturday Morning Run) group, but have been a bit intimidated by the speed and experience within the group. Instead, Callie proposed that we run down to the Farmer's Market where Jordan would meet us with the boys. Ron wanted to run as well, but needed a different route so as to stay within close range of his truck since he was on call, so, he dropped us off near the parkway and we ran the 4.5 miles to the Market.  It was hot and we were slow, but it was good to be outdoors and moving.
After seeing a display of honeybees making honey, Toddler D decided he wanted to spend his 2 quarters on honey. Of course, Mama and Daddy had to supplement it a little bit, but he found a tiny bear full of honey to bring home.
After doing a little bit of shopping and a little bit of eating downtown (yummy strawberry nutella crepes!!!), we made the decision to just head on up to the fields before it got any hotter. All I had with me was my iPhone for photos, and we certainly weren't dressed for photos, but we headed out there nonetheless.

Please be gentle with us----iPhone photography + Sweaty hair and clothes from running = Interesting photos.

Many of the flowers were not yet blooming, but we did find a few patches where we could explore and take photos.
Most of these farms produce cotton and soy beans (and occasionally corn) during the growing season, and as a child, I have fond memories of visiting a friend's farm and riding in the giant trailers filled with cotton--it was like riding on a cloud! 
I love that they now invite the public to come out to enjoy the beauty of sunflowers for no other reason than to make people happy!
(Toddler D has that "cheese" face down, doesn't he?)
It was incredibly hot, so we loaded the boys into the stroller and walked down to the tiny store in Gilliam where we purchased ice pops before going home. I have to say--those were the most refreshing 10 cent pops ever!

A Splendid Sampler Quilt

Last year, I heard about The Splendid Sampler quilt-along, and had intentions of joining the group, but never was able to get started. This year, though, I'm going to give it a try. There are 1-2 blocks per week, with options to add bonus blocks from time to time. By this time next year, I should have at least 52 blocks completed, maybe more! I purchased the book on Amazon and it contains patterns for 100 different blocks. Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson pick a couple of blocks for each week from their book.
This year's projects began a couple of weeks ago and so far, I'm on track! Hooray! I am using fabrics from my under-the-bed stash, along with a few more prints to round out the collection.

Here is block number one, "Hearts A'Flutter."
Block number two is called "Wings". I'm not wild about my fabric selections on this particular block, and the corners don't meet too well, but I am hoping that I will like it better when it is among all the other ones. If not, I can always go back and make another one.
Block number 3 is called "+ Love".  I like its simplicity.
From time to time, patterns for bonus blocks are posted. These are optional and there in case you want to mix things up a bit or need more blocks for your particular project.  This first one is called "A Little Friendship". Again, I have a lot to learn about making everything line up correctly, but eventually I will get it.
Here's a quick little bonus block I did this morning.
My favorite block so far has been "Early Bird". I got really confused at first because there were so many pieces and so few directions. The directions in the book called for paper piecing and I had not idea what that was. I ended up throwing away my first attempt.
The creator of the block, Joan Ford, posted some alternate directions using traditional quilting techniques, so I gave it another try with much more success.
Yesterday, I decided to go back and try my hand at paper piecing to make the block "Mini Glory"I watched a short video about it first and then jumped right in. It is challenging, but I kind of loved the process.  Basically, you stitch together all of the pieces on the back of a piece of paper that has the pattern printed. Doing it like this creates sharp accurate lines, which are very satisfying!
The four corners of the block used this method and then were stitched to other squares to complete the block.  It got a little wonky when I stitched it to the other pieces, and I'm not wild about my fabric choices (too busy), but the paper piecing itself worked out great!
Stay tuned to see as I post from time to time about my progress. At this point, I'm not sure exactly how they will all come together, but I am thinking about using a white border around each block will be a nice way to frame them since they have so much color within.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

In The Garden: A Tunnel Book

I recently made a book. A couple of months ago, I enrolled in the "tunnel book "class taught by Kelly Hoernig over on Jeanne Oliver Designs and then awaited the beginning of the course. Last week, I finally was able to have time to look at the videos and get started.  Kelly is a wonderful teacher and it was So. Much. Fun!!!

The first step was to apply gesso to my pages on both sides and then let it dry. That was the hardest part for me because I am not very patient when it comes to waiting for things to dry. Next, I painted the pages with a wash of color. We used acrylic paints, which I am not as familiar with except for craft projects, so the background ended up quite a bit darker and more intense than I had envisioned at first.

After binding the pages together, I traced the patterns onto each page and then carefully cut out the openings with my exacto knife.

This was pretty fun, because the book was really starting to take shape and I loved the view into the book.

Next came the painting part. I did a little bit at a time, following her wonderful instructions, but made a few of my own modifications, the main one being the addition of a tiny ladybug on most of the pages.  
Why don't you take a peek inside yourself?
I loved the process and am planning on making another book soon (the gesso is drying as I type). This time, I'm going to try to create my own scenes and hopefully it will be worthy of sharing when I am finished.
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Senior Pics

Ron's youngest son, Tyler, graduated from high school last weekend. When his dad and I first began dating, he was about the same height as Callie, but now is about as tall as Ron. Tyler is such an awesome teenager----I love being with him!!!  So, when he asked if I would shoot some senior pictures for him, I was happy to help him out. I am in no way a professional photographer, but I felt like we would be able to get a few shots of him that he would like, in places he picked out.

Ron and I went down for a very quick visit (he work is crazy right now and he can't take any time off) the second weekend of May. Knowing that the lighting would be best in the morning, we picked up Tyler and headed off to various locations of his choosing.  Here are some of my favorites from the day.
Guess where he is planning to go to school next year???
 Such a pleasure to take your pictures, Tyler and can't wait to see what in store for you next year!!! We love you!!

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