A Gypsy Princess

“Stop trying to get it right. Just take the picture.” ~ Sally Mann

Because I am often taking pictures for other people I try to remember the various rules of photography…proper exposure, good light, composition and the rule of thirds, etc.

I want, and aim to try, to capture clean bright images that show a connection between the subjects. With family pictures I like for my pictures to tell stories that reflect the relationships between husband and wife, parent and child or brother and sister. With senior portraits I want to somehow reflect, at least in some of the images, the idea of one journey coming to a close while another is beginning.

Sometimes though I just want moody pictures. I want to move outside of my typical and explore a little. I want to not worry about the rules so much. I want to stop trying to get it right and just take the picture. And occasionally the results are exactly what I want and what I like to call “Pictures My Mother Doesn’t Understand.” A little darker, plenty of grain and just different from what I normally shoot. (For the record my mother is one of my biggest fans and rarely asks anymore if I’ve run out of color film when she sees something in black and white 🙂

Once again Sarah was a willing participant in my shenanigans last month when I got a wild hair to do some experimenting and we ended up with a series of images that I stuck with the pretentious artsy name, Gypsy Princess.

Photography has held my interest all of these years because it’s so versatile…so much can change from one image or session to the next depending on location, timing, subject…a hundred different variables. It’s so fun to me.

Test Kitchen # 80 ~ Oreo Bars

Pinterest is flooded, I mean flood-ed, with gobs of recipes of every imaginable kind of rice krispie treat combination…milky way rice krispie treats, peanut butter cup rice krispie treats, salted caramel, cake batter, cookie butter and even a red velvet version.

And I am just not even tempted because…well, I don’t like rice krispie treats. I don’t enjoy the flavor or the texture. So normally I just scroll by those recipes if they pop up on my pinterest page.

But then I saw this recipe for a rebooted version that uses oreo cookies instead of rice krispies and suddenly my aversion disappeared. I made some slight changes based on what I had on hand (I used mini marshmallows and did not top mine with additional Oreos. I also don’t have a microwave so I made mine on the stove top)

Oreo_dessert_cookie_bars

Because I am me I was trying it out for the first when friends were coming over and instead of doubling the recipe I made two batches, one with regular oreos and one with golden oreos. I preferred the golden ones but the chocolate ones went fast.

What you’ll need:
1 package of Oreos, crumbled
1/2 stick of butter
5 cups of marshmallows
What you’ll do:
Melt the butter in a large stock pot.
Stir in marshmallows and continue stirring until completely melted.
Add in crushed cookies and mix completely.
Spread into a parchment paper lined 8×8 dish and press into an even layer.
Allow them to cool completely before cutting into squares.

They’re pretty tasty and keep well if you store them in an air tight container…if you have any left.

Oreo_cookie_bar_treats

This recipe came from one of my new favorite blogs so click on over and check out the tasty goodness from Kleinworth & Co.

My Dad

For as long as I can remember my Dad has always worked with his hands.

Blunt with wide palms and thick fingers he could coax wood into beautiful pieces of furniture, trim out a room, or make the most amazing kitchen cabinets.

He would tinker with our cars and keep them running far longer than should have been reasonably expected.

For a time when I was about Claire’s age he made these beautiful air brushed stained glass windows.

He’s refinished guns until the wood has a soft and satin gleam.

He’s carved knives that are perfectly weighted and balanced and to hear people say it, sharp enough to cut your hand off.

His hands are one of the first things I picture about my Dad.

They’ve always been constant…steady and strong, sure in their work.

And safe.

There was never a time growing up that I was afraid. Not of someone hurting me. Not of trying something new because I knew he was always there, those strong steady hands ready to catch me if I failed, helping figure out what went wrong.

Those hands have been there all of my life pointing me to the path of Truth…to the way of the cross.

His birthday is today. Physically, his hands move a little slower and they may not be quite as steady as they used to be but he’s still creating beautiful things from chunks of wood.

We talk a lot in our home and church about beauty, about being imitators of God by taking something and transforming it into something else. Recently, the kids were over visiting their PawPaw and Nana and Abby and Claire came home with these beautiful wooden boxes he had made.

It gives me a great deal of joy to see my girls using something their PawPaw made…Claire keeps various treasures in hers and Abby found that hers is the perfect place to keep her ipod.

They will always have these tangible reminders of the faithfulness of their PawPaw in the same way that I have memories of countless times in the workshop with him.

Happy birthday, Pop! We wish you much happiness and love celebrating this day. Thank you for the strength and steadiness of hand and heart that reaches from through out my life into the lives of your grandchildren.

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments.
Psalm 78:4-7 

Pinterest Test Kitchen #79 ~ Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Fruit salad is a staple in our house during the summer months.

Strawberries, kiwi, peaches, plums, nectarines, blueberries…all sorts of yummy goodness. Mostly I just chop it and toss it all together…nothing fancy.

Having a balsamic glaze with cucumbers is nothing new but I wasn’t sure how it would go with strawberries. I was intrigued though, when I saw this yummy recipe for a strawberry cucumber salad with a honey balsamic glaze and had to try it the same day. Since we were having friends over I figured it would give me a good test group to try it out on. Most of us really liked it but a couple of friends couldn’t move past the mixing of the veggie and the fruit in the same dish.

Personally I loved the way the cucumbers and strawberries complimented each other and the glaze was the perfect tangy touch. Definitely a keeper recipe!

What you’ll need:
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced (I left thin streaks of peel to add some color and texture.)
1 pint of strawberries, sliced in circles
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TBS honey

What you’ll do:
Mix together the balsamic vinegar and honey, set aside.
Alternate layers of cucumbers and strawberries along the salad bowl, moving in a circular pattern. 
(You’ll be filling the bowl from the outside in, not bottom to top.)
Pour the balsamic vinegar and honey over the cucumbers and strawberries.
You can eat it right away or let it chill in the refrigerator while the flavors have a chance to mingle and get to know each other. 

Super easy and really tasty…give it a try!

Sharing with Titus2Tuesday

Keeping Level

I’ve been doing the April autism posts for several years now and for some reason I am finding it difficult to do this year.

Partly because Sam is in that age range where parenting is more difficult than ever before. What children at this stage need is far less tangible than the needs of the toddler and young childhood years. Autism just adds a little extra something something to the equation.

When you first enter the world of autism everything is slightly skewed and off center. Things are sort of out of focus and it takes a minute to adjust. You begin to find your balance as the fog of diagnosis and research and information lifts. Slowly but surely you begin to find your way…to make your way…through a world where things are almost the same but not quite and a wrong step has pretty serious consequences.

It’s hit and miss and trial and error. But because they’re smaller it is easier to see what they need so you can at least have an idea of what they need from you.

Speech therapy? Check.

Occupational therapy? Check.

Special diet? Check.

Move on to medication? Check.

But we’re not in that stage anymore. We’ve done those things.

So now what? What’s next?

But the world is almost silent in response. See, until the 90’s autism was considered a relatively rare thing. Then in the early 00’s it was not only more common to hear the term autism spectrum disorder it seemed we were experiencing an epidemic. (This is generally attributed to better diagnostic categories and awareness of autism in general.) And now, all of those children who were part of that first wave are coming of age and research on autism and the teen years is practically non existent. We are the research.

And let me tell you, we’re clueless. When Sam was younger I could write a blog post about going gluten free or how we handled sensory issues. But the issues as a teenager are less concrete and so are the answers.

I’d rather forge ahead on our own though, honestly. Our world view and perspective is a totally different shape than where most of the specialist and experts are coming from. What they consider typical teenage behavior and rebellion is not a paradigm we share. Not for our neurotypical teens much less our autistic teenage son.

Oh, I’ll keep reading everything that comes my way and I will sort and sift and mine the nuggets that are beneficial to us. But it will be sorted and sifted through our paradigm…a world view that is Biblical and the same for all of us. Because we may need to adapt and relate to Sam differently but God doesn’t. That’s our standard. It’s where we find our balance and keep our thinking straight.

We’ll constantly slow him down and make him do and redo his written work because no matter how much he wants to “just get it over with” so he can play with Legos we want him to learn the truth that we only offer our best efforts and work because we want to honor God with everything we do.

We’ll work to help Sam find, establish and use a filter between his brain and his mouth because God says that our words and the way we say them mean something.

We’ll continue to insist that he show kindness and respectfulness to everyone because, just like him, they are made in the image of God. And that means we have to help him understand what disrespect is because he simply doesn’t get it.

We’ll keep drawing him back to understand “doing unto others” because empathy is not something that always comes easily to him.

We will continue to raise him as we raise his sisters…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.

To do anything less would be to despise the gift that he is to us, to our family, to our church, and to our community.

Now for a Sam funny:

He has an amazing knack for inserting his own lyrics into almost any song and still maintaining the original song’s melody and pitch. So right now I want you to think of Queen’s classic “We Are The Champions”. Got it in your head? Good. Now instead of the words, “…no time for losers…” I want you to hear, “…no time for play time…” It was his anthem the other morning when he had to pick up his room instead of playing before school.

And, yes it was stuck in my head almost the entire day.

A Throw Back Thursday Post In Which I am Amazed By How Quickly My Children Have Grown Up

Seriously, they were babies yesterday! Now I have a grown child juggling work and making college plans, another with her learner’s permit and…and…and…

I’m a little horrified with the post processing job that includes a fuzzy pink vignette on the edges but she looked so pretty on her 13th birthday.

Still has the same sweet smile…

Look at his smile! So contagious.

At twelve years old she stands eye to eye with me now.

Her first, and quite possibly her only, camping trip.

I had no idea what life would bring when I held each one of them in my arms as newborns but these memories of days that have passed cause my breath to catch and heart to squeeze.  And there are days when I wonder why He gave me five when I fill so insufficient for even one.

But mine they are and He shows me each and every day that He is more than sufficient for us all.

At The Library

January, it seems, was a good month for me to do various personal shoots.

I love that. Being able to envision something and then working to carry it out. You’d be surprised at how much goes into making that happen…finding the right time, the right subject (which really sometimes means bribing convincing a particular child to go along with my bright ideas) and the right location, outfits, etc. A separate personal project is almost ready after literally months of work with four or five different sessions with the girls. It’s so close to being ready and I cannot wait to share it when it’s ready!

Back to January though. Sometimes I am wanting to try out a new location or different way of post processing and these particular pictures covered both of those bases. Sarah, my child who does not enjoy drawing undo attention to herself, was actually a willing participant. She drug my mother along though and I think that helped.

The main library in downtown Pensacola went through some major rehab work a few years ago. It’s beautiful and since I often find myself shooting downtown, wanted to practice shooting inside in case I ever need an indoor location.

Oscar Wilde said, “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” So even though the main part of the library was super busy we had fun in the children’s section revisiting some old friends from Sarah’s childhood.

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“Of all the things which man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful, and worthy are the things we call books.” ~Thomas Carlyle