Friday, August 31, 2012


When I first started pictures years ago in the fifth grade, I was taking pictures with 35mm film in a little Kodak Brownie camera similar to the one in this link.

Obviously, photography has come a long way since those early beginnings of my photography hobby. If you haven't been able to tell from my blog so far, I really love to take pictures.

Last year, I was able to purchase a 'real' camera. A Nikon D3100 with 2 lenses. What a treat this has been for me! I have been told that in order to really be creative in my photography ability, I need to learn how to shoot in manual mode. Manual mode? So intimidating!

So last week, with a day to spare, I was able to enroll in a photography class! This was the chance I was looking for. Of course, I could read through books and manuals to try to learn more on my own, but the instructor for this class will be giving us feedback on our photos.

Last night, we were given an assignment to take pictures of water with a slow shutter speed and in a fast shutter speed. Too bad we didn't have a trip to Yosemite planned over the next few days! :o)

So, the kids and I headed over to a place with a nice water feature. Here is what I was able to capture:

 1/250s, f/9.0, iso 250

 1/5s, f/29.0, iso 100
 1/250s, f/14.0, iso 100
 1/10s, f/25.0, iso 100
1/160s, f/9.0, iso 100
I cheated on the last photo. The first four photos here I did shoot in manual mode. However, the last one with the barn in the background, I did shoot it in landscape mode.
So, now to keep trying these settings out and wait for next week's homework assignment! :o)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our Backyard Beach Retreat!

As much as I would love to live on beach front property, at this point in our lives, I know it is not a possibility. So we created a beach retreat in our own backyard!
The inspiration for this was in a previous post, but we weren't quite finished with the project yet. We have been able to finish a couple of things up and I worked on a couple of decorative items, so now we have our backyard beach retreat to enjoy!

 I am going to love those red chairs during our cold and foggy winter mornings!
 I found quite a few ideas and pinned them on my Backyard and Garden board on Pinterest. Be sure to hope over there if you need some backyard inspiration!
Matthew spent quite a bit of time with the jigsaw cutting out this 'driftwood' sign for our beach.
As I mentioned in my previous post, a lot of the items we added to 'the beach' were already sitting around in the garage. With some paint and a few additions, we were able to creatively and somewhat frugally create a backyard retreat area that we will be able to enjoy for quite some time!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Birthday Day Trip

 Matthew's Birthday Morning Breakfast!
 Finishing up decorating the cake before leaving for our day trip
 Today's day trip destination...Winchester House
 Gingerbread Winchester House
 Cool old things on display
 The whole reason why Matthew wanted to come here for his birthday! Firearms Museum!
 Old advertisement
 I know they were wishing they could get through the glass and hold all those guns!
 We did go on the house tour, but they strictly forbid any photography inside the home. So I had to make do with just a couple of pictures outside the home. Many windows in the home were purchased from the Tiffany Class Company.
After our day trip, we headed home to prepare for a BBQ with our church college group and some friends to continue Matthew's birthday celebration.
 "Happy Birthday to you!"
It ended up being a great night to celebrate Matthew's 18th birthday!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Compassion Blog Month

Have you heard the news?
Join the Compassion Blogger Network
September is officially Blog Month at Compassion and there is a big goal! There is a goal to have more children sponsored via the Internet than any other September in history. I have committed to do my part to help spread the word about Compassion Blog Month and help more people make the decision to become Compassion Sponsors.
If you are a blogger and you sponsor a child with Compassion, you can join in the fun! Just click the "I'm Participating in Blog Month for Compassion" button. You won't regret it! :o)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Not Quite Back to School Day

 Our day started with a little bit of this...
 ...and a little bit of this.

You see, Matthew starts his first day of college tomorrow, and Kelsey and I will be starting our first day of our new homeschool year tomorrow. Since Matthew will be leaving quite early in the morning (and Kelsey is not an early morning person), we decided to have our special breakfast this morning to celebrate our upcoming school year.

After breakfast, we packed our lunch and headed out for Knight's Ferry. This destination has the longest covered bridge in California and is a great spot for pictures. Once we arrived, we started walking over toward the bridge and stopped briefly for these next two pictures.

 Kelsey, starting 7th grade

 Matthew, starting college!

 The bridge is always a great backdrop for pictures

 Not sure which one I like better of the two of them. This one or...
 ...this one. So hard to decide!

Matthew said I needed to be in a picture since I am usually always the photographer.

 I like to put the camera in burst mode and have the kids jump around.

 Kelsey usually jumps pretty high for these shots!

 Photo session was done, so it was time for lunch. Matthew was looking pretty serious, so...

 ...Kelsey did her best to get a smile out of her brother! :o)

 After lunch, we drove over to the Ghirardelli Outlet for ice cream sundaes. Gotta have a special treat for the 'first' day of school, right? :o) 

Once we got home and the mail arrived, I was so excited to see what arrived! This is my Gussy Sews pouch made with fabric from Tanzania! When Maggie and her husband traveled to Tanzania with Compassion a few months ago, she brought back fabric and made pouches from the fabric. A portion of the profit from the sale of these pouches will be used to help sponsor a child with Compassion. How could I not buy one of these pouches? :o)

So tomorrow starts a new adventure for us...Matthew off to college, and Kelsey being my only student. I am looking forward to what God has in store for this new chapter in our life!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It all started with...

...a picture I saw in the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens.
Source: via Yvonne on Pinterest

The article had a sub-heading which stated, "Enjoy summer afternoons in a dreamy garden escape built on a budget with repurposed materials." So I started adding some fun, creative ideas to my Backyard and Garden board on Pinterest to see if we could make this 'retreat' a reality.

We had quite a few things on our side already to get this project underway: 1. we already have an existing outside structure, 2. we had a couple of closet doors living in the garage taking up space, and 3. we had a couple of shutters, also in the garage taking up space.

So we purchased a few items to get started on this project: 1. paint for the structure and spray paint for a couple of other items, 2. small crates to be used as shelving, 3. a light fixture (from the Re-store Store) for candles, and 4. an outdoor rug.

Matthew was able to paint some of the items this week. Then this morning, Kev and Kelsey painted the structure.

 We added the doors to one corner

 I painted the doors while...

 ...Kev painted the shutters.

 Here is the light fixture we will be adding.

 Found this cute table for $10 at Hobby Lobby!

 Crates added to the doors for shelving

 One view of what we have put together so far

And another view

At this point, we need to put up the light fixture (which we will just be using with candles), purchase a couple of adirondack chairs, and lay down the carpet. Then just add a couple more decorative items and we will have a nice 'beachy' area in our backyard. Kev even said I should find some ocean tunes on iTunes to play while I am back here reading my Bible in the morning. Then I can pretend I am at the beach, definitely like this idea!

I will be sure to post pictures of the finished area once we have everything in place. So what project have you tackled at home this summer?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Compassion Bloggers

When I started by blog years ago, it was a fun way to share about our daily happenings, especially with my parents living out of state. But over the past year, I have been able to use my blog to share about how much I love Compassion International! As a homeschooling mom, this gives me a way to help share with others a way they can be more involved with making a difference in the life of a child, even from their own home. One day, I pray that I will have a chance to visit one of our sponsored kids. But for now, I can be on a 'mission field' from my own home, sharing the love of Jesus with children in other countries.

Do you like to blog about Compassion? If you do, you can join a team of other Compassion Bloggers. As a Compassion Blogger, we receive assignments periodically to share on our blogs. These topics range help each one of us learn more about these Compassion kids and the world they live in. You can also read about the trips that some of the Compassion Bloggers have been able to go on to visit Compassion kids and projects.
Compassion Bloggers Peru Trip 2012

I know I am looking forward to reading the posts from this upcoming trip to Peru. Won't you consider becoming a Compassion Blogger today?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Day Trip: San Francisco Zoo

We have had quite the busy summer! Matthew working at the orchard, helping with VBS, trip to Colorado, homeschool conference, busy, busy, busy! So busy, in fact, that we have hardly made a dent in our 'day trips we would like to go on this summer' list. So last week, we were able to cross off one more location on our list...our destination...

...San Francisco Zoo. I can't even remember the last time we visited here. I don't believe Kelsey had ever been here before, that is how long ago it has been!

It was much cooler here than it has been at home. Driving 2 hours west from home can really make a difference in the temperature, which makes heading to the coast in the summer a nice break from our the hot days we have in the valley.

They did not pose for this picture willingly. :o)

On the other hand, this picture was not posed. I love how much they enjoy spending time together. I pray they continue to have such a great relationship!

We can usually see penguins when we visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but this was a treat to see so many of them here. The two penguins toward the top did not move the whole time. It was almost like they were guarding the whole flock!

Mr. Polar Bear was just getting ready for a swim. I am sure even though it was a pleasant day for us, he was feeling a little warm.

Real or not real? I seriously thought this koala was fake! Since they are nocturnal animals, every single one of the koalas were sleeping, no twitching, no snoring, no movement at all. Maybe we need to go back at night to see them moving around. They sure were cute though.

I really like to take close up pictures of the many flowers I find on our outings. It might be fun to put together a journal of all the flowers I find, maybe figure out what type of flowers they are too.

Since the entrance to the park is right across the street from the beach, I couldn't just drive away without getting at least one picture of the ocean. I love hearing the ocean waves.

As we were leaving the city, we ran across a fairly new National Park. Apparently, this area was part of a large salt water swimming facility back in the late 1800's. The original building is no longer there, but you can see the foundation below by the ocean. Since there are hiking trails in the area, we will have to go back for a visit here on another outing.

Have you had a chance to go on some summer day trips in your area?