Friday Faves Edition 67

Friday Faves Edition 67

Friday Faves.

Say what?!

Here on a Friday…and with faves?

It can’t be!

Edition 67.

It’s true!

Recently, you’ve noticed that I’ve been doing more “what’s up lately” posts. That was because I didn’t necessarily have any faves to share, just some conversations that invited you to take a peek into my life.

While I don’t have tons of “faves” this week, I do have a few to share.

Eggplant Parmesan.

I hadn’t made any meals for a while that took effort required prep. This week I decided to make eggplant parmesan.

I had a recipe that my father-in-law gave me ages ago.

The recipe technically originated with my husband’s college roommate who was an Italian guy from New York.

I was extremely pleased with the tasty outcome.

Sadly, I woke up in the night in pain around the diaphragm region of my digestive system. It wasn’t the type of pain that any medicine I know can fix, so I just suffered through. Possible suspects are mozzarella cheese or eggplant (nightshade). I don’t think it was the parmesan cheese or the tomatoes because I eat those more often. Then again, maybe it wasn’t either because I ate some leftovers at lunch and think I was fine.

I will be making it again. However, if I have a repeat scenario, then I will truly need to determine if one of those foods need to be removed from my diet.

Do you eat eggplant? If so, what’s your favorite dish that includes it?

Mama’s Birthday.

If you missed it on Instagram, my mother’s birthday was Wednesday. Last year, I wrote about the genealogy portion of our first trip to Scotland . The year before that I wrote her a poem. This year I shared this photo of us at the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye in Scotland along with how much she teaches me about personal growth. It also reminded me that I still have so many photos and tales to share from our UK journey.

Photography.

I’ve been working a little more on editing my photos, but still haven’t fully settled back into my routines. I would like to make more forward progress on learning Lightroom and need to move it to “priority” status.

Grammarly.

I told you in my last “what’s up lately” post that I’d been working on Pinterest and old posts. Well, I finally decided to get Grammarly. I know some of you are thinking “hallelujah!” Actually, as I’m going through old posts (and I still have tons to go), there aren’t that many errors, but there are definitely some that slipped passed me.

It’s a massive pet peeve of mine when they slip past me too. I catch most errors in books that I read and wonder how a bestseller made it through the editor with an error. Now I know. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I publicly and sincerely apologize to all those editors I’ve judged in my mind.

Blog Traffic.

I’m also cleaning up some of the SEO because when I started this blog I had no knowledge about the inner working of the internet. I only knew how to spill my thoughts through my fingertips onto a keyboard. I’ve learned a lot since then, but I still don’t get that much traffic. Some days I’m okay with that. Other days I wonder if it’s me. Some days I think I don’t have a clue about marketing. Other days I think it’s because I don’t self-host.

Do you self-host? Do you have a way that you market your blog?

Reading Challenge.

While I was going through some old posts I came across the one about reading challenge that I did.

In it, I shared a 2018 reading challenge that I was going to participate in. To be honest, I kind of forgot about it. I have done lots of reading since then, it’s just that most didn’t qualify for the topics. I’ve decided to renew my efforts and finish it out before the end of the year.

In case you’ve forgotten about the challenge, here it is along with my reading so far.

The Details.

  • A classic you’ve been meaning to read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • A book recommended by someone with great taste The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 
  • A book in translation –The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • A book nominated for an award in 2018 – The Power by Naomi Alderman (after The Alchemist)
  • A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection
  • A book you can read in a dayThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A book that’s more than 500 pages – Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés Ph.D.
  • A book by a favorite author
  • A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller
  • A banned bookThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • A memoir, biography, or work of creative nonfiction The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion other than your own.  – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (next up)

I’m currently finishing Women Who Run With the Wolves which was recommended to me. Have you read it?

The Alchemist has been on my list for quite some time. I stumbled across Paulo Coelho once while looking for quotes. I almost bought a book of his poetry while at Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

Have you read anything good lately?

Exercise.

As I mentioned before, I’m settling back into my Pilates classes. Somebody mentioned to me that they needed to take something like that to relax (or something similar with the implication of it being mellow). And it probably is compared to the workouts they do.

However, I don’t find anything mellow about the class.

It is not cardio and so perhaps that is what lends to the perceived “mellow”.

For me, Pilates has transformed my entire body. Am I where I want to be? No. But I’m a heck of a lot stronger than I’ve ever been. And when I’m doing arm work, with my little three pound weights focusing on form and quality of movement, in front of the mirror, I am in awe of the muscle definition that wasn’t there just two years ago.

And it feels nice to be in awe and admire something about my body because I constantly fight with my own body image issues.

I do need to add in more cardio. I stopped running when I got busy…and I don’t love running. Sorry to all you runners out there, but I just don’t. However, I do like hiking. The rain appears to be finally leaving (at least for now) so I’m hoping to get out and hike over the weekend. We have also discussed going kayaking on the lake. Or taking the paddleboard if the water isn’t too cold.

What is your favorite form of exercise?

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Husband’s Birthday.

No matter what we end up doing over the weekend, I’m sure it’ll be fun because I’ll be spending time with my husband.

September is a big month for birthdays in our family and today is his.

Last year I shared a post about Houseboats of Amsterdam  as his gift. He’s still trying to convince me to live on a boat at some point. Most recently it was a sailboat! We’ve owned a small sailboat before, but we didn’t go far offshore. I told him that we should probably take a sailing cruise first to make sure I don’t get seasick!

How about you? Do you like boating? Sailing? Cruises?

How do you plan to spend your weekend?

I hope it’s filled with lots of laughter and fresh air.

And even though I’ve shared this quote recently, in light of my upcoming reading of Coelho, I share it again.

Plus, I absolutely love its message.

Sometimes I get confused on this journey and try to be what I think everyone thinks I should be, but there is great freedom in becoming who you were always meant to be.

Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. -Paulo Coelho

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

What's Up Lately Episode 003

What’s Up Lately Episode 003

What’s Up Lately.

Episode 003.

I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning waiting for the storms to roll in.

I hope that you’re having a lovely Sunday.

This past week has found me returning to some moments of self-care.

Pilates.

If you’ll recall from my last update, I was on the final push for decluttering and some deep cleaning. Since it includes scrubbing baseboards and mopping wood floors amongst other things, I ended up not going to my Pilates classes.

This week, not only did I attend Pilates, but after each class, I spent some time in the steam room. Over the summer, on the days that I was able to make it to Pilates, I was always in such a rush that I needed to leave directly after class. Taking the time to go to the steam room made me feel like I was finally making some time for myself.

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Hair.

It was also time for my six-week refresher on my cut and color.

I used to go sooo long between hair appointments because I felt guilty about taking time for myself and the cost involved in having my hair highlighted.

Around the first quarter of this year, I started booking my next appointment while I was there getting my hair done. This made all the difference. Now I show up every 6 weeks. I catch up with my hairdresser and leave there feeling beautiful.

Falafel.

We are still trying to eat closer to vegetarian. I was telling my husband about this wrap that I had in London where the main ingredient was falafel. Also, over the summer, I met a friend at a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant in Naples and had falafel. Then Joey was talking about falafel, so we looked it up and found that the same Mediterranean restaurant was in Roanoke.

It’s called Zoe’s Kitchen. We went to dinner there and had the Mediterranean Trio bowl with falafel. I knew that it would become my husband’s new favorite style of food to eat.

I was right.

I may try to recreate these “bowls” at home.

Have you tried falafel? Do you have any good Mediterranean recipes to share?

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Sunrise and Birthdays.

Wednesday was my birthday.

I wrote a post about turning 41. If you missed it, you can find it here.

It’s amazing how much difference a year can make. Last year, my family had just ridden out Hurricane Irma. I detailed the experience from my end in this post. At the time, I wasn’t sure if my mother would have any cell service to be able to get through for her traditional singing of “happy birthday” to me. She did end up finding a sliver of a signal and was able to sing to me.

This year, no storm was looming across Florida and she called to sing to me. She followed up with a gorgeous shot of the sunrise that was seen on her way to work.

 

 

German and Birthdays.

Big Mr. has decided that he would eventually like to visit Germany. In preparation for that, he has started to study German every day. He is using the DuoLingo app that I used during my month of working on Spanish.

He did call me to wish me a happy birthday. Then he followed up with a text in German. While I suspected what it might say given that it was my birthday, I do not know German. I ran it through Google translate.

Isn’t Google translate amazing?!

Birthday Dinner.

Originally, I thought I’d be sitting near the fields and reading a book while Miss Sunshine had soccer practice. However, the rain had left the fields saturated and practice was canceled. We decided to set reservations at this fancy Brazilian restaurant that overlooks part of town.

I’ve only had a martini once…a chocolate one at that…and I don’t think I liked it much. My husband had one (years ago…before I knew him) and didn’t think he liked it that much.

However, this restaurant felt like stepping back in time and we decided that it called for trying a martini. I opted for one that was called “sunburned” and he went for a classic. Mine was okay but definitely strong. I tasted his…and omg…it tasted like straight gin. We decided it was a fun to drink out of the fancy glass, but we probably won’t be ordering another one anytime soon.

Ancestry DNA.

Recently Ancestry.com had a sale on their DNA kits. We asked our teens if they’d like to take the test just for curiosity’s sake. They all did. Miss Sunshine’s came back last weekend and the boys came back on Thursday. Ancestry has an update where they refined the ethnicity due to more reference samples. Miss Sunshine just got in under the update and so we are able to see both estimates. Even though they arrived the same day, the boys were processed after hers and I can’t see what the estimate would have been under the old testing.

The results were not that surprising, but I have a variety of thoughts regarding the outcomes. Be on the lookout for a future post on that.

Photography.

I also found my way back to one of my loves this week.

Photography.

I began working on editing my photos once again. You may have seen some of them on Instagram.

This one is of Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence.

Our family normally vacations at Carolina Beach, which is just outside of Wilmington. North Carolina has obviously taken the brunt of the hurricane.

I spent part of this week gathering supplies for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. At one point, it was estimated that Roanoke could receive 10-20″ of rain. Our grounds are already completely saturated from prior rains.

The estimate has gone down as the storm has pushed westward. However, they are still expecting some flooding due to the rise of rivers and possible mudslides on the mountains.

I hope that you are not in the path of the storm and that the sun is shining brightly wherever you are.

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

Thoughts on turning the page...to 41.

Thoughts on turning the page…To 41

 

Birthday.

That’s right!

It’s my birthday!

I’m singin’ and dancin’ that out ya’ll!

Thoughts on being 40.

I had an amazing year of being 40.

I grew by leaps and bounds.

Pressing comfort zones both physically and mentally.

It really felt like a coming into my own.

Background.

If you are new to my journey. I’m the mother of an 18-year-old, a 17-year-old, and a soon to be 15-year-old. When I chose to become a stay-at-home mom at the birth of my oldest, I gave myself fully to that role. That is not to say I didn’t feel like a failure a million times along the way or that I didn’t make a million mistakes along the way.

Cause Lord knows that I sure did.

It just means that I didn’t take the time to discover who I was outside of that role. I guess some people might say that I lost myself. I don’t really see it that way. I made choices. And my choices were of fully immersed service to others (I am heavily Virgo, so no real surprise there. If you are interested in astrology, I can tell you that I’m also strongly Leo and Libra…so again, no surprise to my personality traits).

However, I saw the horizon looming where my teenagers would spread their wings and journey away from that daily need of me being involved in their lives. It began to be time to think about the next phase of my journey. What would that look like? What were my interests?

…and so I started this blog.

As a way to discover my interests. As a way to journal the journey. All the while trying to remember to also enjoy the now. To find that beauty that resides amongst the chaos.

Discovery.

I found photography. I found travel. I found yoga…and pilates. I found concern for the environment.

I found beauty in my strength.

But I also found beauty in my weakness.

I am a human. Just one among multiple billions. I am the same. And yet I am unique.

On Turning 41.

I chose the photo of me taken during my yoga challenge on day 18.

It represents so much of who I became over the course of turning 40.

Travel.

I am on the rooftop of Princes Street Suites (remember the views that I shared from there in this post?) in Edinburgh Scotland. This was my second visit to Scotland and only 13 months after my very first overseas trip (to Amsterdam and Paris).

Yoga and Pilates.

Boat pose, or navasana, requires core strength. It is also executed in my Pilates class when coming out of the rollover. Finding a fitness regime that I enjoy has been amazing for my health. Now I feel stronger than I have ever felt in the past.

Self Confidence.

Originally, I didn’t want to take this photo. Usually, the rooftop is rather quiet. However, this night there was a large group. “Creating a scene” makes me feel uncomfortable. But, my mother, ever the extrovert that she is, convinced me to get up there and “strike my pose” anyways. There was a time in my life when no matter how much my soul cried to just go ahead and do it, I would have still declined. So while it did take a little prodding, I was also listening to my instincts which really wanted this sunset as the backdrop for one of my favorite poses.

Here’s to 41.

While some people will say that it’s all downhill after 40 (and yes, I have heard this), I say it’s only just begun.

So here’s to 41…

Let’s see what the future holds!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Lessons Learned During a Fitness Challenge

Lessons Learned During A Month Long Fitness Challenge

On Turning 40.

As I approached 40, I knew that I wanted to do something memorable for myself. Leading up to it, I thought I might make a “40 before 40 list.” Then I thought I might make a “40 things I want to do while I’m 40.”

As fate…destiny…timing…would have it, I stumbled upon a site saying that a 30-day detox from alcohol would be a great thing as I headed toward Virgo season (I am a Virgo). So I decided to do it.

I was successful!

After adding alcohol back into my life (which was never daily…but back to the occasionally), I can see how I might change some of the “lessons learned from 30 days of no alcohol”. However, out of that experience, an idea for my 40th year was birthed.

30 Day Challenge.

Each month, beginning with my birth month of September, I have set a 30-day challenge. A challenge that pushes me. Whether that is to push me out of my comfort zones, a push to expand my knowledge, a push to manage my time better, or to push myself physically, all of them are attempted in order to grow.

With each challenge, I learn something about myself.

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March Challenge.

The March Challenge offered me lessons as well.

If you missed the March Challenge, it was to push myself further than I have from a physical standpoint. I did have an ulterior motive for a hard physical challenge. We were heading to Aruba at the end of the month and I planned to live in a bikini.

I decided on a double challenge of logging 10,000 steps per day and doing a plank challenge. The plank challenge started at 10 seconds, climbing 10 seconds per day, to a culmination of 5 minutes.

There were many, many days when I thought that I might not complete the plank part of the challenge.

However, ultimately, I was successful in the completion of both challenges!!

Caveats.

I have shared in past posts, that while I completed the majority of the plank in a forearm plank, there were also times when I would go to my hands (taking the pressure off of the core, but adding it to the shoulders). Also, I occasionally took my legs wider than my hips to form a different base. I focused on maintaining form during transitions because I have lower back and shoulder issues.

I share this information so that there is no misinterpretation of my approach to this challenge.

Lessons Learned.

This challenge offered many lessons.

Here are a few that I learned.

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Walk More.

  • Many average days don’t include 10,000 steps. While I don’t think steps are the full measure of physical health (for example, my Pilates classes don’t include many steps) you should still focus on moving more. I can get lost in writing or editing photos and spend hours without moving. Set a timer if you need a reminder…BUT GET UP AND MOVE.

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Avoid Injuries.

  • When you read about someone else’s journey with the plank challenge and they mention the fact that they ended up with friction burns…take heed! By day 26, my elbows were raw. On day 27, they were painful. Days 28-30, I got smart enough to lay my yoga mat on top of the carpet. I don’t know if using it from the beginning would have eliminated the burns, but it helped me make it to the end. If you do end up with friction burns, use a healing lotion!
  • Although I’ve stated it before, I will reiterate..No challenge is worth damaging injuries. There were days when I thought I’d have to throw in the towel because I didn’t think my shoulder and/or lower back would handle the length of the plank. I monitored it closely because I wasn’t willing to put myself at a significant risk for an injury that would have made my time in Aruba miserable.

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Push Yourself.

  • Your body is capable of so much more than you think! If you told me when I took this photo for my A work in progress post in February of 2017, that a year later I would be working on holding a 5-minute plank, I would have laughed…loudly. Although I had been practicing yoga for a few years, I had only been taking Pilates for about a month at that point. My journey with both of those has brought me so far, both physically and mentally. p.s.-I’m still a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

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Celebrate Your Victories.

  • It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments. You should celebrate your victories. I struggled with this on a physical challenge because I don’t want to seem narcissistic. Also, I have issues with body confidence and I struggled from the standpoint of sharing photos that showed off my accomplishment but also put my “perceived” flaws on display. I say “perceived” because I realize I’m harder on my physical appearance than I should be. This is an area that I am working on.
  • Which is why I put out photos on Instagram (even ones in a bikini…granted on the story and highlights only)…not to show off, but to teach myself that it’s okay to be proud of how far I’ve come, even if I’m not where I want to be.

Although some of you have already seen it, working on appreciating all that my body can do, is why I’m sharing the time-lapse of the final day of the plank challenge.

If you’ve missed my announcement for April’s challenge, you can find that here. You can also find what I’ve learned from prior challenges by clicking on the monthly link.

September

October

November

December

January

February

Have you ever discovered a strength in you that you didn’t know that you had?

Look closely at present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming. -Alice Walker

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 58

Friday Faves Edition 58

Friday.

It’s Friday! I hope you all have had an amazing week so far!!

The weather threw off my routines, but that’s okay.

Sometimes our lives need a little shake up so we don’t get stuck in our comfort zones.

Friday Faves.

I’m doing my weekly round-up of Friday Faves.

My agenda looks like a tornado struck it with things crossed out that didn’t get accomplished. However, I did manage to make notes about the things I did want to share!

Party.

First off, remember in last week’s faves when I gave you a sneak peek of the dress I planned to wear to the party on St. Patrick’s Day?

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The Dress.

If you follow my Instagram stories, then you’ve already gotten a glimpse of it. I put my favorite filter (Rio De Janeiro) because the sun was at its harshest when we left. The actual photo looks like I ran it through one of those pixellating filters because the glare off of my arm and leg is so intense.

Imagine my delight the next morning when I discovered that my mom had taken the original that I texted her and posted it on her Facebook (love you, mom!).

It probably wasn’t that bad, but I am notoriously particular and usually unhappy with how I look in photos. Good thing I’m usually behind the camera.

However, since I love ya’ll so much… I am sharing two photos, that while I don’t love them, I find them acceptable for public viewing.

Close Up.

I thought the dress had a very retro classic vibe, so I tried to channel Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy Onassis with my pearl necklace and earrings.

Full Length.

The dress is a Ralph Lauren and I found it at Macy’s.

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day and my dress was not green, I wore a jade ring. Originally, my “something borrowed” at my wedding, my mother-in-law gifted the ring to me a few years ago.

It was much chillier than I originally thought it would be so I brought along a white 3/4 sleeve Lily Pulitzer cardigan that I’ve owned forever. I draped it over my arm as we entered the party since I really expected to need it later in the evening.

We stopped at the bar to pick up a cocktail. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but the bartender was asking, so I went with a vodka cranberry. Can you guess where I’m going with this?

I told the hubby I’d like to put the cardigan down at the table before we mingled. Of course, we are passing people that I need to meet along the way to the table. Sure enough, the drink spilled on my cardigan. Not an EGADS! she spilled her drink. The cup just slightly shifted, dribbled over my hand, and onto my sweater.

I switched to vodka and pineapple juice after that.

We had a great evening. Lots of good conversations and food.

And the juice stain came out!

Soccer.

Miss Sunshine had a soccer game on Monday afternoon. They won the game and Miss Sunshine had an assist for their goal.

As a side note, I’m still very disappointed in how the Nikon is performing. When I return from Aruba, I will be getting a longer zoom lens for the Sony.

Aruba.

Speaking of Aruba…only one week! There wasn’t school on Wednesday due to snow. There was a 2-hour delay on Thursday due to snow.

It threw off my quiet time for posts, but I did manage to share some things I loved at the National Museum of Scotland, a Tree Series for Wordless Wednesday, and a Thursday Door post of St. Giles Cathedral.

Snow is forecast for Saturday.

I can’t wait to have my toes in the sand and not snow!

 

View this post on Instagram

Apparently all I can manage at the moment are mirror selfies (and the same red jumper 🤤)– but this is a good thing! The wheels of change are turning! 🎡 In the morning I’ll be on the @thismorning sofa talking to @schofe and @hollywilloughby about my campaign to make upskirt photos a sexual offence in England & Wales. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ❌🤳👗🚫Tune in and lend your voice to the campaign with the hashtag #StopSkirtingTheIssue. 📱💻Whether it’s insta-stories, Twitter or a good old email to your MP this campaign needs you! DM if you would like a MP email/letter template! ✉️✔️ Then all you have to do is pop your name in and send! 📮♥️

A post shared by G I N A M A R T I N (@beaniegigi) on

Instagram.

I’ve shared before that I have a love/hate with Instagram. I love most of the people. Not so much a fan of the follow/unfollow crowd, but I guess that’s their way of marketing. The algorithm changes really bothered me.

Interaction.

However, recently I’ve tried to separate myself from caring about my number of likes and growth and to just focus on interacting with those that Instagram decides that I want to see. That means I try to add more IG stories and also watch more of them.

Upskirting.

All that to say, I found myself watching @beaniegigi’s story.

Here’s a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know, but once you do know, you must speak”.

How many of you have heard of “upskirting”?

Probably a lot of you.

Defined.

If you haven’t, it’s the case of somebody taking a photo up a woman’s skirt (or dress) without her permission.

I admit that I live in a bubble and I don’t find myself in many places where this might happen (public transport, concerts…etc).

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the paparazzi shots of celebrities taken from this angle. I was always mortified that anyone thought it was acceptable, but it never occurred to me that it was a “thing” happening to every day women (and girls).

It happened to Gina Martin at a concert. You can read her story in this Unilad article.

Legality.

Did you know that there are places where upskirting is not illegal? It isn’t considered illegal because voyeurism apparently only applies to private places and since there’s underwear it’s not considered lewd.

Making Change.

Gina is working to have the law changed in England and Wales to make upskirting illegal. A cursory look to see if it was illegal in the United States brought me to this Time magazine article where I discovered that it is illegal in Virginia. However, at the time of the article in 2016, it was not illegal everywhere.

I applaud Gina for taking a stand against harassment.

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Challenge.

I am still steadily progressing on the March Challenge, which is part of my #thisis40 year of monthly challenges. I do know what I’ll be doing for my April Challenge. Look for the announcement on Monday.

Walking.

It never ceases to amaze me how little I truly must walk in a day. Getting in 10,000 steps requires an effort on my part. However, basing fitness on steps doesn’t take into consideration that I take Pilates 3x a week and that doesn’t require much walking, but it’s hard!

Planks.

I have officially made it 23 days on the plank challenge segment of the monthly challenge. That is a 3 minute 50-second plank.

Modifications.

On day 20, I did need to switch it up to make it through. Instead of keeping my legs at hip width, I widened them to distribute the weight differently. I did that for about 10 seconds a couple of times over the course of the plank. On the following days, I also have moved from forearms to hands and back (though mostly on the forearm).

Opinion.

I am still forging ahead and hoping to nail the goal to completion. However, if I had it to do over again I would not have chosen this specific plank goal. I took on this goal because I will be wearing a bikini in Aruba. That’s the plain and simple fact. Judge if you will.

However, I feel like my abs get a much better workout from a Pilates routine. I can’t see my form during the course of the plank, but I don’t think I’m losing form. However, it’s my mid-back where I can feel the most change. Perhaps I’m losing the focus on maintaining those lower ab muscles while I’m just trying to push through to the end. I know Pilates breath work and incorporate that to get into those tiny muscles, but I feel the plank in my shoulders, back, and quads more than in the abs.

Puppy.

Yesterday was Maverick’s 1st birthday. He got a haircut last weekend and toys yesterday.

Ohhh…my baby is growing up!

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Long Exposure.

If you watched my IG stories on Wednesday, then you know that I had a crazy outing trying to capture some snow scenes. I’ve shared a few photos on Instagram and the one above will eventually be shared. I hadn’t worked with long exposure on the Sony yet. I only have one ND filter and it wasn’t really strong enough. However, I did manage to get a few shots that I was happy with (after sliding down the embankment of snow and dropping the tripod in the stream).

Music.

I heard this song on the way home from Pilates today and liked it. Nadia Ali is a Pakistani-American singer-songwriter. IRO is a Brooklyn based singer-songwriter. Sultan + Shepard is a Canadian electronic music duo that often does collaborations.

I hope you enjoy!

I’m off to finish prepping for Aruba. Oh…and for that snowstorm heading our way. I suspect my teens might want to eat and food flies off the shelves before a storm like an apocalyptic invasion is on its way.

Keep that smile shining.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 53

Friday.

How many of you are happy that it’s Friday?!

I debated not posting today because I’ve had a rough week and I feel like I just said that last week.

However, truth is truth.

And here I am.

Friday Faves.

With all my ups and downs for the week, there are still things to share as Friday Faves.

Pilates.

I managed to make it to Pilates each day that it is offered at my gym (MWF). My body feels stronger every day and I feel like Pilates is really making a difference. I don’t have any photos to share, but I’m considering having someone in the family snap some over the weekend so I can share how far I’ve come in my strength journey. I feel like it’s quite far considering most of the Pilates I do is body weight only and on occasion with a 3 pound weight maximum.

Aruba is in six weeks and I plan to feel confident in my swimsuit!

Appliances.

Remember how I told you two weeks ago that my microwave died and how appliances hate me? Well my stove has decided that it’s not sure it wants to do its job either. Sometimes when you push the bake button, the timer comes on instead. Both appliances are exactly 10 years old. Coincidence? I think not. Older appliances ran and ran and ran. Today…not so much.

Since I want them to match and am not a fan of feeling pressured into buying a big ticket item that isn’t exactly what I want, I went to a big box store and picked up a cheap countertop microwave. I know what you’re thinking. Well that seems wasteful. Ahhh….but I thought this through. Big Mr. heads off to college in the fall and Mr. D is a year behind. The little microwave will still have usage in our family.

Natural Wellness.

I mentioned that one of the teens has been sick. It wasn’t the flu. Yay. But it still means that I’m trying to keep anyone else in the house from catching it. I went to the health store because my friends rave about Sambucas, which is an elderberry syrup. Do you know that most of the shelf was empty?! I actually made an elderberry “syrup” a while back. However, I’ve never made something that needs reduced. I estimated the reduction improperly so it’s more liquid than syrup.

I think I’m going to start adding it to my smoothies (if I can remember).

Protein Powder.

Another thing I needed to pick up was some protein powder. I am still doing the mostly vegetarian thing. I find that a protein smoothie satisfies me more than eggs. I’m deliberately not sharing the protein powder I’m using because I’m still trying to decide if I like it. My old protein powder was Organic Rice Protein Powder. I’ve mentioned before how I cannot have canned whipped cream. It causes a tickle in my throat and a cough. Some restaurant/fast food milkshakes cause that as well. I noticed that the rice protein powder was possibly doing that as well. I say “possibly” because I can’t rule out that is it isn’t a random ingredient in the Almond Milk. However, Miss Sunshine has the same issue and says it’s the protein powder (she uses almond milk in her cereal with no issue…I only use it in smoothies). I wanted to try Pea Protein, but what they had is a blend.

Stevia.

Not only is it a blend of many proteins, but it has stevia. Almost every powder I looked at has stevia (my old powder didn’t). I know people in the wellness world seem to love stevia. I do not. It overpowers every single drink in which it’s found. Occasionally, I want something other than water or unsweet iced tea and I’ll try a flavored drink. I don’t know why I do it, because any time stevia is on the label it makes my tastebuds and stomach cringe as I drink it.

The positive side to the powder is that I think I’m not having a reaction to it, but I’m not fully sure. I’ve started incorporating spinach into the smoothie for health reasons, but also to try to cut through the taste of stevia. If you know of any protein powder that doesn’t use stevia, let me know! FYI: I use vanilla. I might be willing to go plain, but while I like chocolate, I dislike it as a drink.

Valentine’s Day.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that this week was Valentine’s Day. This is one holiday where I refuse to buy in to the heavy commercialization of it. Maybe I’m jaded. I did update my cover photo on Facebook to the photo above that I took one summer in Carolina Beach and changed my profile picture to the hubby and me. That was about it. We watched a movie at home. I talked about it in yesterday’s post.

Olympics.

We’ve also been watching some of the Olympics. We watched Shaun White win the Gold. I also like watching figure skating. I don’t understand curling and don’t know if I want to understand it. The skiing is usually quite amazing too, although I haven’t seen as much of that.

What is your favorite sport to watch in the Winter Olympics?

Photography.

Besides my normal daily stuff and some not so normal daily stuff, I worked on editing some of my photography. One of my favorite recent photography outings was capturing the fog. I shared a fog series in my Wordless Wednesday post.

I loved the way the colors looked in those photos. The juxtaposition of the grass and the fog. The elements (trees and fences) that I chose as the subject. I just felt like it worked together. Something I don’t always feel in a photo session.

These two photos are some more from that session. They are ones that I was still debating whether or not I captured them exactly as I had envisioned.

The tree trunk in the first photo has these white lines into the bark. These are massive trees so the differentiation was striking. In the second photo, I really wanted to capture looking through the fencepost without losing the fact that it was a fencepost you were looking along. I had some trouble getting the depth of field and focus area exactly how I wanted, but there is still something I find intriguing about the photo.

What is you opinion? Do you prefer one over the other?

Instagram.

As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I struggle with separating the fact that my self worth or creative skills are not directly tied to how many people “like” a photo. I am rarely on Facebook or Twitter, even if I have things that automatically post there (Blog and Instagram posts).

Instagram was my first love because I love photography. The people were (and are) welcoming. Then with the algorithm change, my numbers dropped substantially and I began to question whether I wanted to spend time there. However, I do love the people that I’ve built relationships with on that platform.

And so I stay.

My Instagram feed will never feel fully curated no matter how hard I try. But recently I’ve decided to try to make it feel somewhat more cohesive by posting 3 photos (to keep with the grid) from the same area and those three photos will probably be edited in a similar way. I started with a set of fog shots and today will be day #3 of Amsterdam shots. The love locks photo above I decided on as my tribute to Valentine’s Day.

Do you like the Instagram platform? Any other social media platforms?

Reading.

My blind date with a book turned out to be great. If you missed that in Edition 51 of Friday Faves, the book was Random Harvest. I couldn’t put it down and have already finished it. Now I am halfway through The Great Gatsby, which puts me at a distinct advantage for my February Challenge. I’ve checked out The Color Purple and The Picture of Dorian Gray. We’ll see how far I make it!

Are you reading anything good right now?

Music.

I didn’t have as much time this week to look for “new to me” music to share, but this song came up on my recommended through YouTube and I really liked it. The band is named Banners and the singer is Michael Joseph Nelson, who is a musician out of Liverpool.

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend and beautiful week.

Offer up a smile to a stranger. You never know who might need it.

Be the type of person who leaves a mark, not a scar. -Unknown

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 51

Friday Faves Edition 51

Friday.

I’m not sure how many different ways there are to say, “Hooray, it’s Friday!”. However, I keep trying.

This week, I used google translate to give me a little help. If google got it wrong, comment the correction.

  • Hurra, es Viernes (Spanish)
  • Hurra, es ist Freitag (German)
  • Hourra, c’est Vendredi (French)
  • Hoera, het is Vrijdag (Dutch)
  • Hooray, o le aso Laititi (Samoan)
  • Hooray, tá sé Dé hAoine (Irish)
  • Evviva, é Venerdì (Italian)
  • Hooray, is e Dihaoine a th ‘ann (Scottish Gaelic)

Friday Faves. Edition 51.

I can’t believe that this is edition 51 of Friday Faves. That’s so close to an entire year of coming here a recapping my faves of the week.

So let’s get to it!

Family Date.

Since my sons are 16 and almost 18, they are rarely home. Between work and friends, they like to be on the go. The hubby and I realized that we were seeing less and less of them and yet are moving closer and closer to the day that they fly the nest (one is a Junior and the other is a Senior in high school). We decided the best way to remedy the situation was to implement a family date.

A family date will now happen at least twice a month. We all like to go out to eat, so that became the best choice for us. I know that meals around the family dinner table are promoted for this quality time. It’s not like we don’t ever have those. We just find that when we eat out, the teens are less distracted by wanting to move on from the table. Also everybody becomes fully involved in the conversations. Plus, I don’t have to cook and the diversity of the palates of five people can be easily satisfied.

This past Saturday was our first “official” family date. While we left it open for the boys to bring along their girlfriends, it ended up with just the five of us. We decided on Mellow Mushroom. Mellow Mushroom is a pizza chain found mostly along the East Coast of the United States. We dined at one in Asheville, NC many years ago. It was big news when they opened here in Roanoke in October of 2016. I hadn’t been to this location before because Miss Sunshine is not a pizza fan. However, she did go here with a friend and said their pizza was good. The teens all got pizza. The hubby and I got veggie calzones. They were much larger that I anticipated, so I ended up eating the other half for dinner.

All in all it was “first date” success.

 

Fog.

Sunday, the fog rolled in. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture some photos. I’m still processing and editing them, but I did get one up on Instagram.

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Early Mornings.

Monday, I shared about my recycling journey so far. It was a major house cleaning day. One of my least favorite jobs to do. Weekdays are always filled with way too many early mornings.

Superlatives.

One of the things that I didn’t share last week was that Miss Sunshine had been nominated for an 8th grade yearbook superlative. If you aren’t familiar with superlatives, they are usually “best smile”, “most likely to succeed”, etc. and the nominees were high school Seniors. At some point, they found their way to middle school yearbooks, where 8th graders are nominated since they are the BMOC.

I don’t know all the superlatives chosen, but there were some I hadn’t heard of. Miss Sunshine was nominated for one of those. “Most likely to become a female activist.” She wasn’t sure what it meant since all of her friends were saying it meant she was most likely to become a feminist. I knew that wasn’t the case, but we looked up the definition of an activist, which is “a person who campaigns to bring about political of social change”. So, yes, a feminist is an activist, but not all activists are feminists (which should have been particularly obvious since superlatives have a male counterpart.

I have spoken in the past about conversations Miss Sunshine and I have had surrounding feminism. I believe that women are and should be treated as equal, but I don’t think that any agenda is furthered by the bashing of males. It doesn’t accomplish anything other than spewing hatred while claiming tolerance. I find this to be the case in many social conversations, which is why I mostly avoid them.

Trains.

Anyway! Miss Sunshine won the nomination. My heart is quite proud. I think it’s an excellent superlative. Hopefully she does change the world. She had to be taken in to school early on Tuesday for photos (which didn’t happen, but that’s a different story). On my way home, I got held up by the train crossing. I’m never first in line, so I took the opportunity to grab a picture.

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Riverdance.

Wednesday, the hubby and I had tickets to see Riverdance. I was so excited!! We saw it live when we were dating. I got all dressed up (a rarity), put on makeup (even rarer), and even put on fake eyelashes (for the first time). The lighting wasn’t good, but we still snapped a few selfies.

No photos were allowed during the performance. There were those who chose to ignore it. The lights from their phones was rude, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. There are those who will answer a phone in the library and carry on a full conversation. I’m talking about people of all ages…even some old enough to be my grandparents.  I’m still questioning when this became acceptable.

But I digress. If you can see the show, you definitely should. My hands hurt the next day from clapping so much. It was phenomenal!! I can’t rave about it enough!!

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Classic Novel.

Speaking of libraries…I have started on my February Challenge. I’m about 1/4 of the way through my first classic novel, Pride and Prejudice. I’m really enjoying it. It still seems strange to me the formal way that people spoke to each other. Even amongst girlfriends. I wonder if they really spoke that way or if that was only in writing. I suspect the former.

We went to the library last night and once again they are having “Blind Date with a Book”. I love surprises and couldn’t pass it up. I chose this one because it said “heartwarming classic”. That meant that it should qualify for my challenge. The book ended up being Random Harvest by James Hilton. I had not heard of it before and looked it up. Apparently, it was made into a film not too long after it was written. That film is considered a classic. I suppose that makes the book a classic as well. It will be my next read.

Microwave.

My microwave died. Appliances hate me. Don’t believe me? Read some of my older posts. They definitely hate me. End of Story.

Pilates.

I went to Pilates today. I don’t do Pilates on a Reformer. It is at my gym and is considered mat pilates. We sometimes use a small or large ball, light weights, therabands, and/or rings. Each instructor has a different style. What are the odds that after reading this article, questioning the benefit of burpees, that a day or two later I’d be doing them for the first time in a Pilates class? I will say that there was an option of stepping back with one leg a time to a plank and then walking it in and standing. The exercise wasn’t done nearly as fast as in some higher intensity classes. I appreciated the harder workout because “beach season” is coming. I just thought the coincidence was strange.

Music.

Also when I went to the gym, I heard a familiar song playing on the speakers. It was because I shared the song (by Tom Walker) in Edition 38 of Friday Faves. Today’s song is by Mondo Cozmo. The singer is from Philadelphia and is now based in L.A.

I hope you have an amazing week.

See the light in other and treat them as if that's all you see -Dr Wayne Dyer

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves edition 43

Friday Faves – Edition 43

Friday Faves.

This week has felt productive. I can’t put my finger on the why, but I feel like I am on a path forward… not standing still, or worse, moving backward.

As I move toward the end of the year…and closer to the 2 year mark of this blog, I am reviewing the posts that people are interested in reading and those that fall into the “perhaps not so much”. I’m reflecting on how I see things moving forward. I signed up for a trial of Tailwind because I keep reading about how Pinterest is so many people’s source of traffic. I’ve still yet to see that prove valid even though I actually have quite a few monthly viewers to my Pinterest page. So I’m guessing there are things on my part that I should be tweaking and learning. That’s what I’ve been doing in my downtime.

Not that I have much of that!

On Tuesday, I shared that over the weekend we traveled to a Christmas Tree Farm to choose our tree this year.

Christmas Tree

We tend to keep our tree in its natural state and enhance it with some lights and our collection of ornaments. The bottom is intentionally bare this year because we weren’t sure how Maverick (our 65 pound Goldendoodle puppy) would react. So far, he has made no attempts to touch it. I was surprised as he eats every stick and tree branch that he can in the yard. I assume it’s because he knows that he can’t touch the peace lilies that sit beside the fireplace, and therefore realizes a tree inside is a no-no to touch.

Many of our ornaments have deep sentimental meaning to us. Some are handmade, some adorned with photos of my three children who are now teenagers, one on the cusp of adulthood.

I am slowly capturing photos of those ornaments that I hold dear to share in a future post.

This ornament holds no special endearment. What used to be a set of six bulbs has dwindled down to two, the others meeting their demise on tile or wooden floors. The bulb is covered in glitter, yet opaque. I always hang it in front of a light so that its color can shine through. I loved the snowflake design even though I kept a home in Florida for the first fourteen years of home ownership.

Now, we are expecting snow tonight. In fact, there are flurries outside as we speak. I watched Maverick’s eyes grow large when he saw it coming down.I feel a sense of newfound wonder as I watch someone ( a dog in this case) see something for the first time.

I still recall the first time that I saw snow as a person grown enough to remember. I was 21 and in the mountains of Georgia. I looked out the window and was pretty sure it was snow. But if I were incorrect, then I would be disappointed. So instead, I said to the hubby… “look, it’s raining ice”. He told me that it was indeed snow and I was so excited! Perhaps he had a moment of newfound wonder through my eyes?

I have been consistent with my December Challenge. I have shared a moment of gratitude from the prompt each day on my Instagram Story. I am also taking photos with my Sony Alpha that fall under the prompt, as well as journaling each evening about more moments of gratitude based on the prompt.

I’ll probable compile a synopsis of my month of gratitude in my review of how the challenge went.

Today is day 8, and the prompt is self-love.

I had to spend some time with this one. I have had plenty of struggles over the years learning to be at peace with and love myself.

 

When I was younger, I wanted to be petite. I wondered why I looked like the Jolly Green Giant next to my mother or had shoulders as broad as a linebacker (I’m exaggerating of course, but I thought that as a teen). These big hands that fit into no warm gloves and feet that would make a sasquatch proud. These are the thoughts I fought. We often want what we aren’t.

I was certain that I must have Scandinavian DNA. If you’ve read about my results from Ancestry.com then you know that my results were only 5% Scandinavian. I’m still not convinced that my 79% Great Britain and 10% Ireland/Scotland/Wales isn’t rooted in Scandinavian ancestry. Have you ever read Celtic mythology? The Tuatha Dé Danann (and similar in the Mabinogion) were gods who came in ships from the sky (clouds) and were fair-skinned with red or blonde hair. I’ve read an account that supposed that just as Troy was found to be an actual place, perhaps the Tuatha Dé Danann were Vikings who sailed through the mist on their ships.  However, I do believe in magic and they could have been magic as well. Maybe that’s why I find a strong desire to visit the standing stones in Scotland. Hmmm?

But back to self love.

I grew babies in my womb. Babies that have grown and grown. Babies that have my shoulders, hands, and feet and it has helped me to love my own more. But the journey towards self-love is a continual process.

Meditation has definitely worked in helping me draw deeper into that space. But also yoga and pilates. They have shown me that my body is strong. That my body is capable of doing so much more than I thought it could. I realize my form could be better in the photo (that’s what happens on a 10 second timer), but I can actually do side plank crunches (yes, at some point I have to do them from my elbow because my shoulders can only handle so much work in a session). That is something that I never dreamed I’d be doing.

I grow to love myself more each day.

My other fave of the week is that my L.L. Bean boots FINALLY came in! The first pair I ordered were too small and so I had to send them back to be exchanged. My sasquatch feet range between a 9-10 in a woman’s shoe, mostly being 9.5. Bean boots are known for running large and it said that if you were a 1/2 size to size down 1 to 2 sizes depending on whether or not you planned to wear thick socks. I do not plan to wear thick socks because I own a pair of Sorel and a pair of Eddie Bauer snow boots that I wear to be able to capture photos like the one below:

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I just wanted a cute waterproof boot to wear instead of always needing to opt for my tall Hunter boots.

Anyways, I ordered an 8 because I could fit my feet in Miss Sunshine’s size 7. But nope! I needed a 9. Keep that in mind if you do ever order a pair. I love that they include a card that lets you know who hand stitched your boots.

This week as I hunted “new to me” songs on Youtube, I came across this Swedish Indie Band, Mountains of the Moon. I hope you enjoy their sound. I did!

I hope that you have a beautiful weekend.

I’m off to watch the snow as it flurries down outside my window. I think I’ll make a cup of tea and settle in with some Middlemarch.

I hope that you catch a glimpse of the world through new eyes.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves edition 42

Friday Faves – Edition 42

They say that time waits for no one.

I see the evidence of this every day. I wonder where my hours have gone and yet I know that they’ve been full. I wonder how it came to be Friday already. Then I wonder how we have arrived at December 1st. The end of 2017 looming near.

I watch as the number climbs each Friday when I type in the edition line. I marvel at the fact that for 42 weeks, I have shown up to this day to reflect on the highlights of the week. I am in awe of those who show up to read about this glimpse into my life.

So welcome to Edition 42!

After taking off so much time from the gym around Thanksgiving, this week made me recognize my absence.

I could feel every bit of those push-ups and plié squats from Pilates. Not to mention that my abs ached every time I laughed or coughed. I was pleased to see that my 3 mile run was still strong (strong for only having tried running for the past 3 months). It’s all relative! Yesterday, my body needed a rest from the strenuous. Instead, I took Maverick on a walk through the neighborhood. I live toward the bottom of the hill (mountain?) and the loop we took was a steep climb. That cold air gets my lungs every time, but it was good to mix it up.

Today, I headed back to Pilates.

When I stepped up my gym time, I realized I didn’t have quite enough clothes. I usually dress in neutrals, but I just loved these leggings. They make me feel happy as the winter is beginning to set in here in Virginia.

Amongst my crazy week, I discovered that an important document had obviously been misfiled in my paperwork. I knew that it wasn’t “lost” (as in, needing replaced), but I spent hours digging through my files to find it. That digging led me to realize that it is once again time begin purging. Some of the files that I was digging through had no reason to be saved. They weren’t important and they brought me no joy. What they really did was suck up my time, being in the way as I searched for the document.

As I was nearing the end of my files, I came upon the small file of items I’ve saved from middle school through early college. Mostly poetry and some stories. But I also stumbled upon this drawing.

I only took art for one year. 8th grade. I was 12. I asked not to be placed in art because I had no natural skills and was the type of perfectionist who cared more about my grades. Somehow I still was placed into the class. And I loved it. I remember having the hardest time with this drawing. Trying to wrap my mind around how to place the ruler in order to create the perspective of distance. While there are many flaws evident in the end result, I was proud of this piece. I loved the concept of perspective. When I saw this drawing, it made me think about how I am very conscious of perspective in the composition of my photography. I don’t always properly execute my vision, but I am always considering it.

And do you know what else I found in this folder?

The document that I was seeking.

This was not the folder that it ever should have been placed in. I believe in synchronicity. Perhaps it was to find this drawing and reflect. There are also three other pieces that may have been the synchronistic moment. Or perhaps they all were meant to be found. One of which was a letter from my grandmother, dated Wed, July 29 (1998) and written at 4:30 in the morning after she had  awoken from a dream about some of the issues surrounding my life at the time. They are words of deep guidance and wisdom and a treasure each time I stumble upon them and see how far my journey has come.

Perspective is an interesting thing. Sometimes things are not as we think they are. Take the next drawing for example.

Big Mr. loves to draw. I am always impressed by his skills. Sometimes I wonder if his teachers are as well since they end up with his drawings and doodles on the papers he turns in. Yes, that is a Physics sheet. However, he’s made it to his Senior year in high school without one complaint.

But about perspective…what do you see when you look at this drawing?

Likely, you see a bull’s skull with shapes and designs. Which it is. When he first showed me this drawing on his phone, I thought it was a dancer. I thought that was somewhat strange as he typically draws mountains and trees and such. I thought it was very abstract and wondered why he made the head so small. I thought the horns were uplifted arms and circles around the jaws were indicating a twirling movement. I told him I thought it was nice, which I did (albeit not his normal style). When the hubby came home and said he liked it (in a enthused way) I was surprised. I was even more shocked when he told me that his best friend wanted to use it as a tattoo! The next day when he asked if I liked that drawing of the bull… I was like “huh?” and then it clicked and all made sense.

Perspective is very important.

Today is December 1st. Today is the day that I begin my December Challenge. I can’t say that I’m too disappointed to see the end of the November Challenge, but I’ll address my thoughts on that challenge next week.

The prompt for today is beauty.

While it’s likely I won’t address the prompt each day, today being the first day, I thought I would. For the prompt, I chose to take photos this morning. I will probably also journal about more topics of beauty and gratitude this evening.

But for now:

I am grateful for the beauty in nature.

As the fall turns to winter, I have to look harder for the beauty. Not yet the blanket of beautiful white snow, but past the vibrancy of fall colors. But if you look, it can be found.

The leaf above was on a patch of moss in my backyard. Directly in the center. The only leaf fully on the moss. The other leaves are on the hard clay surrounding this patch of moss. I was reminded of a quote that I recently read:

In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike. -Paolo Coelho

 

I have a penchant for trees and for the way light plays across nature as the sun begins its ascent higher into the sky. I love this group of trees in my front yard. They are all separate and yet bound together. They make me think of family. Each person having their own identity and yet a cohesion and bonding that holds it all together.


The song that I’ve chosen this week I was certain that I’d shared before. So certain that I had to go through my archives to check, but didn’t see it (guess I need a better note system for song sharing).  The singer is Leo Stannard out of Leceister in England.

I hope that you have a peaceful weekend and perhaps you’ll find a new way to see something. We will be heading out to find our Christmas tree and begin to create this year’s December memories.

 

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves - Edition 40

Friday Faves – Edition 40

Friday.

Today is Edition 40 of my Friday Faves. I feel like I should have a celebration or something. Edition 40 during my year of being 40. Seems special… right?!

Anyway, just know that I’m doing a happy dance to mark my excitement.

I know that might make it seems like my faves this week will be something phenomenal. But, no… it was just a week.

In fact, I have no idea how this day came so fast. Each day I had to remind myself which day of the week it was because I was certain it was really the one before.

When I shared my faves in last Friday’s post, I told you that Miss Sunshine and I were heading down to Greensboro, North Carolina for her final fall soccer tournament. In true teenager fashion, 10 minutes before we were going to head out the door, she discovered that her undershirt (because it was going to super cold!) was at the bottom of her soccer bag and smelled. We ran it through a quick wash and then got it mostly dry and hung it in the car for the drive down. We weren’t really on a timeline. It just gets dark and 5:30 pm and I prefer to travel to parts unknown in the daylight. 3/4 of the drive in daylight wasn’t horrid because the directions were pretty easy.

After checking in to the hotel, Miss Sunshine and I went to eat at Logan’s Roadhouse. I don’t know if you have these where you are, but it’s a chain. There are barrels of peanuts around and pails of them on your table. The shells are thrown to the ground.

This place would be a horror to anyone with a peanut allergy. Luckily, we don’t have that problem. We had a nice steak dinner while Miss Sunshine regaled me with ideas for an invention she must think up as part of an essay to apply to a specialized high school around these parts.

Her first game the next morning was delayed due to the earlier games needing to start later… because there was FROST on the ground. That game was tie. The later game they won 11-0. They needed to keep it a shut out from a point system, but as the score climbed, the players were moved around to positions they don’t often play in order to not humiliate the other team. Sunday was an 8 am game. Ugghhh… This meant that I got up at 5:45 am. I don’t even do that during the week. We watched the sun rise over the highway on the drive to the fields. They won that game 8-0. This meant they would head into the championship against the team that they had tied the previous day.

And they came out the victors!

They won the game 1-0. I’m not going to delve in too deep about the poor sportsmanship shown by the other team during the game. I will say that in the 7 years that Miss Sunshine has played soccer, I have never seen a player stand there at kick at another player’s ankles while they are waiting for a throw-in. Which happened right in front of the sideline. You get injured in soccer. I get that. Miss Sunshine had a nasty bruise on her inner lower leg. I have no problem with that. It’s the unfortunate mishap when two people are both going for the ball. I do have issue with the dirty, sometimes dangerous moves that were happening. The center ref did not have control of the field and we’re lucky none of the girls were seriously injured. And in true poor sportsmanship fashion, the other team did not even attend the medaling ceremony to collect their medals.

But enough about that!

Here’s how I entertain myself while I try to stay warm in the car during her warm-ups.

Aren’t Snapchat filters so much fun! I felt just like a sleepy bear needing to hibernate for the winter. But I did get to pull out that cashmere scarf that I bought in Scotland! FYI- if you haven’t been around the blog long enough to have read about my trip to Scotland, the scarf was Made in Scotland. You have to see those words on the tag to know that it was actually made there. I’m glad somebody gave me the heads up about that before I traveled there.

So…speaking of filters.

Miss Sunshine had a presentation to do in Spanish today. It required photos of the family. This is the one I chose of me. The hubby took this shot while we were at lunch at Mabry Mill. The lighting was harsh and showed how badly my face needed some lotion or some makeup (and maybe 20 years taken off). I did let her take in a selfie of the hubby and me that wasn’t edited, but this wasn’t going up on a Powerpoint in front of the class without some editing.

I don’t often talk about my editing because each photo is different. Some are edited, some are not. Some a little, some a lot. I don’t have Lightroom yet.  That’s next on my list, but my laptop is almost out of space so I need to migrate my photo library to an external hard drive and I get scared about losing my photos in the process

I thought that just for fun I’d tell you how I edited this photo of me.

First of all, here are the settings for the Sony Alpha 7 II:  ISO 250 | 28 mm | f/4.5.

It was shot on Aperture Priority. I was the one who chose the depth of field. I’m a fan of shallow depth.

Right now I just have the Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 mm OSS lens. I want to add a 50 mm f/1.8 so that I can have an even shallower depth. The issue is that the Sony lens costs 3x more than a Nikon or Canon one. You can buy adapter rings for those lenses to fit…so it’s just a matter or deciding which route to go.

But back to the editing.

I edited this photo in the Snapseed App on my phone. Sometimes I also use the VSCO app or A Color Story app for certain things, but I predominately use Snapseed.

Miss Sunshine needed to get this into her Powerpoint, so I needed to edit quickly. I’ve never used the “looks” part of Snapseed, but I checked out Smooth. It made me look fake. I did not want that (heck, I left all those forehead wrinkles that show up when I raise my eyebrows. Ok… they sort of stay there even when my eyebrows are in a normal position. 36 years in the Florida sun with fair skin will do that. Add four more years of dry, cold Virginia winters…and…yeah). The portrait “look” was a more realistic filter so that was what I used. Under Curves, I added U01. I liked how it added a tone reminiscent of an 80’s film photograph. Then it was time to tune the image and make it a little more unique than just laying filters on it. Here’s what I chose: brightness +4, contrast +2, saturation +7, ambiance +5. I actually start from the bottom of this list and work my way up, adjusting to my preference. Sometimes I may work with highlights and lowlights after that, but not always.

And there you have it!

snapseed-249

I picked up a new journal this week. Not because I needed one, but because I thought it was pretty. Sometimes you just need pretty. I haven’t decided what I want to fill its lines with. Will it be a story? Will it be lists? Will it be thoughts?

Big Mr. applied to his first college and is working on a few other applications. Mr. D becomes a solo driver tomorrow. Each of those things makes me realize how close we are moving to them flying from the nest.

As I think about the leaves that are now falling from the trees, I recognize a new season approaching.

Both in the weather and in my life.


The song I chose this week is by the Australian, Xavier Rudd.

I made the executive decision this week to push my 5k goal into the spring. The cold and I don’t get along and I want to enjoy my first race.

This presents a training issue. I gave up my yoga classes to run…and I miss them. I don’t want to give up my Pilates classes either, so I’ll have to rethink my schedule.

As I sat today, in day 48 of meditation, I realized that I often make my life more complex than it needs to be.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. It’ll be my first without a soccer game, but Miss Sunshine has to finish up a project for Science so I’ll likely be around the house. Sounds like a good time for some book reading. I need to make some headway on Middlemarch.

In any given moment we have two option: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. - Abraham Maslow

Let your light shine!

Amy