I took a long weekend recently to visit my favorite seminary family. And of course, we had to do a family photoshoot!
We took the whole clan to the Arch. It was quite the learning experience for me as a photographer. Figuring out how to get the whole arch AND still be able to see everyone's faces was really a challenge. I think we got a few good ones and I will definitely be begging them to let me try again before they leave in a year.
For the first time in about 2 years it went really smoothly. Probably because all of the kiddos are old enough to "Stand Still, Look, Smile!" at the same time!
The kiddos were in especially good moods and played along when we tried different poses and ideas.
This series was absolutely too adorable not to share all of them! Between Matthias with his hands in his pockets and the girl giggly faces - I can't handle the cuteness!
And in an effort to get myself in the pictures more often, we got in one last picture with me, the kiddos and the Arch.
My friend Leigh does these great posts on her blog every month and recently started letting people link up their own so that we could all share the awesomeness! So, I thought I'd join in the fun and list the things I'm into these days. I'm hoping it will keep me accountable to a few things too - especially in regards to books. I've been a reading slacker these days and I want to change that! So, here goes! Books:
40 Day Journey with Madeleine L'Engle - this is a great devotional book that also has prompts for journaling and other ideas to inspire you. I've really enjoyed its format and getting to read little bits of L'Engle and have them related back to scripture. I will definitely be reading more of L'Engle's work soon!
Divergent: The first of a young adult series in the same genre of The Hunger Games. I'd been told about it by a few people but put it off because it just felt too much like a copycat when I first heard about it. But I had a nice long train ride a couple weekends ago, so I loaded it on my Kindle and started reading. Seven hours later I had finished it and downloaded the second book in the series. Absolutely addicting. BONUS: The book takes place in (future dystopian) Chicago and so they are filming the movie in my city!
Insurgent: The second book in the Divergent series. Just as good as the first. Look for my review of the third and final book in "What I'm Into: October 2013". I'll be standing in line for it.
World War Z: I saw the movie and had to buy the book. I just started reading it, so no review yet. But I am planning for my survival already!
Why, oh why did I wait so long to get rid of cable and get a Roku box? If you are considering it - just do it! I spend a third of the money and am never bored. Plus, I am more deliberate about what I watch now because I don't just flip channels. (I do still get the basic ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX via my television for free.)
Grey's Anatomy - I started watching good old Grey's from the beginning, not really intending to do a full re-watch of the series. But man this show is addicting! Its definitely had its ups and downs (remember that time crazy Izzie had a brain tumor and saw her dead fiancé?) but its still one of my favorite shows.
Dr. Who - Ok, I tried guys...and I will keep trying a little more...but I just haven't fallen in love with the Doctor and his time-traveling blue box. I've only watched about six episodes...so here is your chance to tell me I just have to stick it out a little longer.
So You Think You Can Dance: I've been trying to keep up with SYTYCD but this is actually the one show where my system really lets me down. If I am not home when it airs, I miss it completely because apparently FOX has it out for me and they don't make episodes available online until 30 DAYS after they air. What gives?? But I am loving it of course and just set a reminder on my phone to turn it on if I'm home on Tuesday nights.
The Fosters: I usually stay FAR, FAR away from any shows on television who try to portray social work (especially child welfare) in any kind of way. But the Fosters have surprised me in a good way so far! Its not stellar acting so far, but the characters and their issues are pretty believable. I'll give it at least a few more episodes and hope they don't descend into melodramatics. *fingers crossed* Movies: At Home:
The other fun thing about having my Roku (with Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus) is the number of movies I have access to in my home!
Pitch Perfect: I bought this as a digital download on Amazon. I'd seen it in the theaters, but I really could watch it over and over. As a former show choir kid, I just can't get enough of the whole thing. I can't wait for the sequel!
28 Days Later: I "rented" this on Amazon Prime. I watched this after seeing World War Z, so it was like two different ends of the zombie movie spectrum. It was less thrilling in general, but had some pretty tense moments. I'm sure I'd be more impressed if I'd seen it when it first came out in theaters.
Timer: You can find this one on Netflix. Its a darling little movie that poses an interesting question: What would you do if you knew exactly when you would meet your soul mate? In the (not too distant) future, a watch-like device can be implanted in your wrist and once activated it will begin to countdown until the moment you will meet your soul mate. The movie follows a few characters, all with different timelines and ways of handling the wait. It also touches on the question: if you had the choice, would you want to know how long you were going to wait? Would you even get the implant? A very cute romantic comedy with a twist - highly recommend!
42 - I don't know why, but I just love baseball movies. And "42" does not disappoint. I laughed, I cried, I was inspired. Go grab it on DVD the minute its out.
Man of Steel - I wish I could tell you I loved it...but I found it a little slow and the actions scenes got a little monotonous. I like a good comic book movie and I like action - but I just wasn't that engaged. Sorry Superman!
Great Gatsby - My high school English teacher should be proud of how excited I was to see this movie. (And how much symbolism I remembered.) Gatsby + Baz Luhrmann = Perfect and Amazing.
World War Z - The absolute most thrilling movie I have seen in years. I was on the edge of my seat and barely breathed for two hours. I was not expecting that level of excitement from a big budget, Brad Pitt movie. (Not that I don't love me some Brad Pitt!) I came into the zombie genre late - only getting into The Walking Dead in the middle of season three - but I'm totally hooked now. We all better hope that the zombie apocalypse looks more like the "walkers" and less like these WWZ speed demons! If you like action (and Brad Pitt) - go see this immediately. Even if you aren't that big a fan of zombies, you are sure to enjoy it.
On the Web:
Examining Adoption Ethics by Jen Hatmaker
These were actually written in May, but they continue to be the best things I've read online in a very long time. If you are at all involved with adoption or "orphan care" please find the time to read this series in its entirety.
I love Pinterest but I often go in waves of really browsing through all the content. But I recently got on a chalk board kick (because of a project that you'll see on the blog soon!) and created a whole new board on Pinterest for it. Tutorials on fancy lettering, quotes I like, and interesting ideas for future photoshoots. You can check it out on my Chalk It Up board. Best Day of June:
Spending a fun day downtown at a spa with my girlfriends. Manicures, pedicures, Champaign, cupcakes, and a delicious lunch. Does it get much better than that really?
"Juicing" has been quite the new fad these days and I've read a lot about it since I was diagnosed with cancer. There are a lot of people who swear by its positive effects on pretty much everything. While generally skeptical on anything that seems to be promoted as a "cure all", I was pretty impressed by the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead". (Sounds gross - but is a really cool film.) Plus, while I'm pretty good at eating my veggies, I'm actually pretty terrible about getting in fruits. And fruits are full of all kinds of health promoting nutrients. So, I thought I'd give it a whirl.
So, I borrowed a friend's Breville Juice Fountain and bought a boatload of fruits and veggies. (Lucky for me, I live in a place with lots of great produce markets. So I got all of this for under $35!)
Then I got down to prepping and juicing! Some of the mixes made some very pretty rainbows of color in the juicer.
I love watching it all get chopped up, spun out, and turn into tasty juices!
These are some of my favorite combinations:
So refreshing! Like something that should have a little alcohol thrown in too!
Light and perfect for a hot day. I think I'll be making this a lot this summer.
So delicious. Kind of like pie filling. YUM.
I know the idea of Kale turns a lot of people off - but this is one of my faves. A yummy morning drink starts the day off right.
Another rich and filling combo. I'm not much of a blueberry fan but its great with the grapes and mint.
Most of my information, instructions, helpful hints and recipes came from this website. It has lots of juice cleanse plans, complete with shopping lists to make it simple to know what to buy. I tried a three day cleanse, but just couldn't handle not eating at all. I did pretty well with eating only one meal and substituting the rest with juice through the day. I am planning to stick with trying to have a fresh juice at least once a day. I think its a great way to get in those essential nutrients and they taste so great! Give it a try - I'd be happy to pass along more recipes or pointers!
I've been doing lots of DIY projects this spring! Some have been Pinterest inspired, some are just from my own ideas. This project was mostly my own doing - I had been scouting Craigslist for patio sets with the hopes of having a place to relax with my dogs this summer. I'd seen LOTS of out dated, grungy, and faded sets. Most of which were really too big for my space anyway.
But then I came across this little gem..
As soon as I saw this gal, I was in love. It was a little whimsical and seemed just the right size for my small patio. But I could tell from the picture and the listing that it was pretty rusty. So, I decided to give spray paint a try. I'd been itching to spray paint a few projects but was nervous about it too. Spray paint seems kind of... I don't know...messy? I envisioned spray paint everywhere. And I was kind of right! Especially since I was spraying something full of holes!
But overall, it was pretty simple. Two cans of this pretty color:
( Satin - Lagoon)
And another can of this one:
(Satin - Aqua)
I also bought a drop cloth and did all of my spray painting out in the yard so that I didn't have to worry about anything nearby getting sprayed. I tried to keep my coats thin and even. I left a full 48 hours between the two coats so that it would dry thoroughly. Overall it worked well - except that the wind was somewhat breezy both days that I was painting and that made it tricky to get the spray to go the direction I wanted it to spray!
And I love the end result!
Here's the before and after:
Craigslist Patio Set: $50
3 Cans of Spray Paint: $12
Drop Cloth: $4
Pretty Patio? Priceless
Once I add some sheer curtains (there is a deck above my patio) this little spot is going to be a great summer oasis. If anyone wants to come over, I'll have drinks ready!
I'm really not much of a "macro" photographer. I prefer faces and interaction with my subjects. But over Memorial Day weekend, I walked out of my back door and the leafy bases of the Tiger Lilies that grow in my back yard were covered in dew drops. They glittered and sparkled. It looked like my plants had been bedazzled! I grabbed my camera and a relatively new lens to try to capture all the prettiness. Even though I'm pretty impressed by the way the pictures turned out, it didn't even come close to seeing them in person.
As opposed to last year's experience, this year's NOCC Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer was nothing but pure joy.
Joy to be healthy, joy to be surrounded by friends and loved ones, joy to be running. (Yes, that's right I love running. Its official.) This day was almost exactly 18 months since my diagnosis. It is unbelievable to think about where I am now, in comparison to where I thought I'd be given the news I initially received. I just couldn't be more lucky BLESSED.
Team Lucky Girl
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Mini "teams" from different parts of my life
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Julia leading the kiddos in some warm up exercises
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My littlest supporters
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And the runners were off!
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Running inside the ball park was so cool!
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A few more fun outtakes after the race.
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I also got to put my handprint on the Survivor's Banner - and one of my fellow survivors Lorelei!
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And while the above should demonstrate this without me having to say it, I'll say it anyway. None of the past 18 months would be worth anything if not for these people above (and a few who couldn't be there in person). My health, my life, nothing would be worth it if I didn't get to share it with such wonderful people. I love you all so much.
Along with my recent radio interview, I was also chosen to promote the NOCC Walk/Run to Break the Silence about Ovarian Cancer on television. I was so excited to be chosen and more than a little nervous to be on LIVE television. Luckily, my bestie Melanie came along to help calm my nerves and make sure my bangs and lipstick were in place!
We got to the ABC 7 studio bright and early, signed in and then we were led to the "green room".
I finished getting ready (trying to play it cool with professional TV people coming in and out of the room!)
We took part in the tradition of signing the green room walls - there were some pretty cool signatures and messages written all over.
Then we took some pictures!
Melanie and me
Melanie, Me, and Ginger Zee!
Then it was time to get my microphone on and get on stage with Stacey Baca!
Melanie was able to watch from just off stage and get some great behind the scenes shots!
Before I knew it, the segment was over! I took a few deep breaths, because I had pretty much been holding it since the camera started rolling! Knowing there were no "second takes" was nerve wreaking.
Stacey took a few pictures with Liz and I before rushing off to her next segment. She is so nice and made the whole exprience super easy and fun.
And then as we left the main stage we realized we were walking through some of the other sets used by ABC! This one is clearly for cooking segments.
I was excited to be on the Windy City Live set!
And Melanie and I got to sit at the WCL host desk - don't we look like naturals?? Who wants to give us our own show?
We took a few more pictures outside the studio, in front of the observation windows.
We were so busy posing that we didn't notice the camera guy sneak up behind us and start filming!
All in all, it was a very fun experience and I think I held my own pretty well. You can decide for yourself by checking out the video here: