Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The 365 Day Photography Challenge

vintage camera

Can you believe it's already October?! If you've been following my blog for a while you've probably noticed that I love collaborative creative challenges (post, post, post, post). Well, it's a new month and time for a new challenge. This time it's something on a scale I've never attempted before...a 365 day photography challenge! 

The Challenge

The goal is to choose an object, any object, and take a photograph of it every day for an entire year. 

I think it will be very challenging to create 365 interesting images of the same object (and to remember to take one everyday!). It sounds a little daunting, but hopefully participating with the group will help keep me on task. I'm interested to see if my photography skills will improve over the course of the year.

To help me decide on an object I set a few criteria:

1.  Non-Static 

For maximum interest, (for me and for the viewer), I don't want to use a static object. I want something that will change, or can be changed, over the course of the year.

2.  Easily Transportable

It needs to be something small and light that I can easily carry with me, as I'm anticipating quite a bit of travel over the next year.

3. Personal Representation

I want something that will convey some aspect of who I am as an individual.

3.  Humor

I love to make people smile, so I want to choose something that will have potential for humor.

Therefore, I've settled on using this artist's mannequin.

vintage camera, pumpkin, artist's mannequin

This little guy is a great source of amusement in my house. He sits on our computer desk and people are always arranging him in ridiculous poses. I already have quite a few ideas for shots. Don't worry, I won't be posting 365 pictures of him. I'll just give you an update a few times during the year of the most interesting shots.

The @Photography challenge@ event was created by one of my friends from high school, so I'm eager to support his endeavor. If you'd also like to participate, feel free to message me on Facebook and I'll send you an invite.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Autumn Traditions...Pumpkins

2 little pumpkins still on the vine

Hi there! Hope you had a lovely weekend. You've probably noticed that fall is my favorite time of year. Today I'd like to share one of my favorite seasonal traditions with you, visiting the pumpkin patch.

The Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin patch
On Saturday, my family spent the afternoon at our local patch. It's a beautiful farm where the pumpkins are grown without the use of pesticides. You take a hay ride to the field where you can then stroll at your own pace and pick as many as you'd like. 

My son had so much fun walking through the field, stepping over vines, and examining the pumpkins and gourds. He gathered an armful of gourds.   
pumpkin patch
We only had one significant emotional event when one of his gourds rolled off the wagon just as we were about to drive off! The driver kindly waited for him to retrieve it and soon all was well again.

Pumpkins and gourds make beautiful decor. They come in a wide range of sizes, colors, shapes, and textures. You'll just want to take a few steps to insure that they last through the season.

3 pumpkins

1. Inspect

When choosing pumpkins and gourds make sure that they are free of soft spots, dings, and dents. These are breeding grounds for bacteria and mold.

If you're picking your own, don't pull them off the vine as this will bruise the fruit and cause it to rot more quickly. Instead, use a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin or gourd from the vine, leaving a few inches of stem attached to the fruit.

2. Wash

Once you get your pumpkins and gourds home, wash them with warm soapy water to remove all dirt and dry completely with a soft towel.

3. Disinfect

Wipe them down thoroughly with a household disinfectant. This will help prevent mold growth.

4. Seal

Once disinfected and dried, coat the pumpkin with petroleum jelly and buff to a shine. The petroleum jelly will create a barrier and inhibit the growth of mold. This will also create the shiny effect you often see on pumpkins in magazine photos.

With as many tumbles as our gourds and pumpkins took, they probably won't last until Thanksgiving! But I hope these tips will help yours last through the fall. 

What are your favorite fall traditions?

Friday, September 26, 2014

My "Paint September" Contributions

After my last post about the #paintseptember artistic challenge, I thought you might like an update on what I've painting. I haven't had a chance to do as much painting this month as I'd hoped, but considering how busy my 9 month old is keeping me, it's a wonder I've been able to touch brush to canvas at all! 

acrylic on canvas

If you follow my social media accounts, you may already have seen the little mushroom. 

It's been about 16 years since I last painted with acrylics. I was amazed that most of my paint tubes were still good! My 8 year old son spotted some tiny 2" x 2" canvases at the craft store the other day and asked if we could buy some and paint together. He requested that I paint a mushroom for him. I thought that'd be a nice, simple design to start with to help get me back in the swing of painting with acrylics. I used to detest acrylics, but I'm really enjoying working with them on this tiny scale. Overall, I'm pleased with how it's progressing. 


The above image is my stylized interpretation of the hills behind my house. 

I've been watching the grass turn from green to golden with the cooler weather. The changing angle of the sun casts gorgeous long shadows. I sat outside with my watercolor pencils and paints and worked on this for a while. I wasn't at all pleased with how it was turning out, so thinking I couldn't make it any worse, I decided to have fun and experiment with adding a little colored pen work. I then softened and blended the ink with a wet paintbrush.

Have you been participating in #paintseptember or following it on social media? There's a lot of beautiful work being shared!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the lovely fall days! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge

If you've been following my blog for a while, you probably know that I'm on a mission to shop in a socially and environmentally conscious manner. I mentioned in my last post that I had signed up for the 20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge at the lifestyle blog Tortoise and Lady Grey. I always evaluate my wardrobe when the seasons change, so this seemed like the perfect time to take on this challenge. 

The Challenge

  • The challenge consists of a daily email for 20 days. 
  • Each email contains a tip or task designed to help you navigate sustainable fashion issues like:
    • clothes sourcing
    • how we wear and use our clothing
    • our relationship to shopping and our role in consumerism
    • what to do with clothing we no longer wear
  • There's no pressure to keep up. Just work at your own pace. However, the emails are easy to keep up with and not too time consuming. 

I'm on day seven of the challenge. Over the past week I've...

1. Rated my sustainable fashion knowledge level.

On a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 means you know a little about sustainable fashion and 5 means you know a lot, I rated myself a 2. I think I understand the core concepts of sustainable fashion, but the issues are complex and multifaceted, so there's still a lot to learn. It will be interesting to see if that number changes by the end or stays the same.

2. Considered my relationship with fashion.

When I was in college, my approach to fashion was quantity over quality. My closet was always overflowing with garments. However, I did most of my shopping at thrift stores, so there was still an element of sustainability. When I finally had a job and could afford to buy new, my approach quickly become quality over quantity. I got tired of having to replace pieces after just a couple of wears due to poor workmanship and materials. I became a bargain shopper in order to afford quality labels. The problem was, I often bought things on impulse because they were such a great price. They ended up sitting in my closet unworn.
Now I just want to purchase pieces that will last for many years in terms of quality AND style.

3. Evaluated my wardrobe habits.

When it comes to dressing, I'm a creature of habit. I'm not working right now, so my life is very casual. I'm super busy though, so I need to be able to put together an outfit without a lot of thought. I want my clothes to coordinate and be interchangeable. I think a minimalist wardrobe would be perfect for my current lifestyle.

4. Edited my wardrobe.

Every season I go through my closet and mercilessly edit out the pieces that haven't been worn in a year or need to be repaired. This weekend I separated all garments into piles labeled Keep, Give, or Store. The pieces in the Keep pile fit well and are ones that I love. The Give pieces went to friends or the charity shop. The Store pieces are ones that I still wear, but that are out of season. I placed them in hanging canvas garment bags with cedar squares and hung them up until spring. 

5. Restyled old favorites.

This has been the most fun part of the challenge so far. I went through my mountain of magazines and cut out inspiration looks for similar things in my closet. The pieces in the photos are from several seasons ago. I used to keep binders of magazine clippings for each year. I flipped through some from a few years ago and noticed that trends seem to be cyclical. That's where shopping carefully is key. If you shop smart, you're pieces will still be in style year after year.

  • In month's issue of Harper's Bazaar, I found the inspiration for the above look. I used pieces from my existing wardrobe to put together the outfit. It's had to tell from the photo, but the coat from the magazine is almost identical to mine. 

  • This metallic knit was an impulse buy from several years ago. I've worn it a few times, but when I saw the metallic mesh fabrics on this page I immediately reached for my knit. I also dug out these Pamela Love rings from a few seasons ago. They seem to fit the "Game of Thrones" theme of the magazine page.  

Although I've learned a lot on my own over the past few months and have a pretty good grasp of the core concepts of sustainable fashion (see this post), I feel there is still much room for improvement. I hope this challenge will give me a better understanding of the issues and help me be more efficient with my shopping strategies.

If the 20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge sounds like something you'd like to participate in, head on over to Tortoise and Lady Grey and sign up. It's a lot of fun!  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Transitioning for Fall

A sign that the seasons are changing...a milkweed pod releasing its seeds.

Hi there! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Autumn doesn't officially start until tomorrow, but it’s been in the air for some time. For me, this past weekend was all about transitioning for fall.


When autumn arrives in Wyoming, we know winter will quickly follow. We always try to get out and enjoy every second of the beautiful weather. Saturday my family spent the afternoon exploring a nature area close to our home.
If the weather and water would have been a little warmer, I would have tried out the swing.

The trees are just starting to change color and to drop their leaves. I was able to take some lovely photos. It was so fun to explore the wooded area with my son and see him delight in the hidden nooks.

The trees formed a natural doorway or bower. 


I started evaluating my wardrobe for the 20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge. My wardrobe desperately needs an overall, so this seemed like the perfect time to start the challenge. I’m finally tackling the towering stack of unread fashion magazines and tearing out looks to use as outfit inspiration for items that I already have in my closet. My goal for this season is to plan my wardrobe carefully and shop strategically. I’ll tell you more about the Challenge and how I’m doing with it in an upcoming post.

I won't need to buy a new handbag this season!

House and Home

I have a long list "Finish Before Winter" projects. Two of these two handmade, mid century dressers have finally made their way to the top. I picked them up last spring and they'be been taking up precious real estate in my garage ever since. 

I have two of these dressers. They need some TLC, but they have a lot potential.

I thought they’d be perfect for my two little boys’ rooms. I finally started refinishing them yesterday. So far, I’ve sanded and primed them. Now I just have to decide on a color scheme and design. I've pinned lots of inspiration pieces on a Pinterest board. Below are a few of my favorites. Which do you like best?

Top Left--Hems and Haws
Top Right--Country Living
Lower Left--Apartment Therapy Main
Lower Right--Decoist