Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Goals - July thru September

Well here it is the end of June already, half of 2014 is behind me. It's time to take a quick look back at what was on my April thru June goal list and also to see what I learned in the process.

Here is a recap of some of those goals and their results:

  • Continue printing my photographs for the walls

This got way laid for the moment due to a cosmetic, color scheme change which all began with the purchase of a new couch back in December.

  • Back Roads Adventures - getting out and exploring

I did one Back Roads Adventure in April which was an eye opening experience. I got about an hour from home, I stopped to take a photo of a weathered green shed in a field. I dug around in the back seat for my camera only to realize that my camera was still sitting on the dining room floor at home. 
Wind out of the sails moment. My heart was not in the rest of the adventure. I realized more than just forgetting my camera, I missed people being in my story. A lone venture was no longer fun.

  • Read More

I made a goal for myself to read 50 books over the course of 2014. I am at about 20 books so far for the year. I must pick up the pace a little in the second half of this year, or read shorter books :)

  • I have cute clothes, wear them other than just weekends

Let me just say Anthropologie is my new favorite store, and yes I wear this stuff during the week as well as the weekends.

  • Try some new recipes

I have been making a lot of new salads in June and I see this continuing all summer long.

July - September Goals

  • Finish the Living Room, Kitchen, Dining Room Project
  • Work through "A Sense of Place" class material
  • Finally get that on-line portfolio done
  • Update the look of my blog
  • Work on more iPhone Photography pieces
  • Move college daughter back to college for her final year

My list is a bit smaller this quarter, but hopefully very realistic. I have July to buckle down and get a lot done, because I know August will be busy with college daughter coming home and then moving her back to school.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Finding My Sense of Place

Sometime in your life you are going to take a class, whether it be in high school, college or on-line, you will think it sounds so interesting, and you can't wait to get started in it. Then it starts and it isn't anything like you imagined or what you had planned to do with the course material. Instantly the wind goes out of your sails and you are dead in the water.

This happened to me in Kat Sloma's on-line class "A Sense of Place" that I took early last year. The course material is amazing, but I went into it with my own preconceived ideas of what I wanted to do with it. When those ideas didn't match up with the weekly lessons and homework assignments, I shut down. I would half-heartedly read the weekly lessons, have a brief thought about doing the assignment, and then slip the printed lesson sheets into shiny plastic page protectors and lock them into my plain black 3-ring binder. I would then slip the binder back onto the shelf where it came from and go about my normal everyday life.

A year and a few months later I am very thankful that I dutifully printed those lessons and slipped them into those shiny plastic page protectors. I have found my "Sense of Place" and I am ready to finally tackle the course material.

My "place" has been right under my nose, or in this case three hours north of me, for the past twenty years. The Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan. The peninsula is just a bit north west of Traverse City.

The first time we came to the peninsula our daughter was a teething nine month old. We were camping a bit south of the peninsula in our pop-up camper. We took a day trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes area and as we came over a hill on M-109 amongst the sand and dune grass, I spied this barn...

and it was love at first sight. Something deep inside me fluttered and I knew that this was the place I wanted to be, for longer than just a vacation.  I still get the same feeling when I come over that hill,  twenty years after that first flutter.

We have returned to the peninsula many times over the years. I think one year I was here eight times over the course of the year, and yet it still wasn't enough. It doesn't matter if it is for a day, a week or 10 days, I never want to leave once I am here.

This year we spent two weeks on the peninsula in June. The longest continuous span yet. I thought this is it, this will be the test to see if I get bored with being here in the same place for so long. Two weeks and one day later (we managed to squeeze an extra day out of our cottage rental agent/friend Tammy) I can testify that I still didn't do even half the things that I wanted to do. First there are old favorites to visit and then we keep finding new places to explore as well. Two weeks gives you time to find lots of new places but not enough time to explore them all.

I am going to use my experiences and my photographs from our years of vacationing on the peninsula, I am going to take out that plain black binder and truly work through Kat's course material this time. I have found the right "place" for this class.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

Maybe deciding to grow my hair out at the beginning of the summer was not the best decision. Especially since the humidity has struck this week, and we all know what that does to curly hair. Yikes! While on vacation I could easily hide it under a hat. At home not so easy to hide.

Find No. 2

I found my new cast iron pan. A 10" skillet with a glass lid. Can't wait to start using it.

Find No. 3

I found a couple new/old things for my pottery barn shelf. The record album cover $2 and the flower vase next to it $4. Now if I could just get the two shelves to work together I would be ever so happy.

Find No. 4

I found new hardware for the kitchen cabinets. We are going with the one of the left. Has the exact right feel to it.

Replacing these original ones....

Find No. 5

I found these stained glass windows...

and these church entrance doors when I did a tour of an old Lutheran church on Tuesday night. The church has been renovated into 22 apartments. Some of the apartments actually have the stained glass as their windows. So pretty.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds
Joining Tanya at Around Roanoke for Willy-Nilly Friday Five

Thursday, June 19, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

The end of vacation is upon us. Here are some random finds I found this second week of vacation.

Find No. 1

This week I found two old rotary style telephones. One inside an old historic Inn and one outside an old-time general store.

Find No. 2

This vacation is my first experience cooking with a cast iron skillet, and I loved using it. We are going to have to add one of these to our home cooking equipment.

Find No. 3

I found I have a very challenging family when it come to having their pictures taken. They both thought this was hilarious.

Find No. 4

I found gorgeous morning light on the front porch of an historic inn. I could easily live on this front porch and be completely happy.

Find No. 5

While out exploring and photographing some historic farmsteads one morning, I found this pair of lacy Victoria's Secret underwear on a piece of farm equipment. Hmmm....

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Rainy Morning on the Peninsula

I knew that the forecast for the day was for an 80% chance of rain and storms. This is my second day of being alone, although I am not really alone, the dogs are here. Granted they are sleeping soundly and obviously comfortable.

I had saved up some photo editing in the event of a rainy day. Since I work on my iMac at home, I had to work out an alternative solution while on vacation and using my laptop. Cleverly I  brought along my extra external hard drive where I can put put edited Lightroom photos, without messing up my main external hard drive and my Lightroom catalogue. I was all set to load photos from my first full SD card when I realized I didn't bring my card reader. Then I stopped and thought a moment, always a wise decision. I think my laptop has a SD slot. Sure enough, back in business. I started loading the first 319 photos.

I changed where I usually sit in this rented home away from home. Normally I sit with my back to the french doors and the view outside. I guess a creature of habit, sitting at the same place as I would at home. Today Riley was lying behind my usual chair so instead of making him move, I moved instead. The things we do for our dogs. I sat so I was looking out the french doors, down the lawn to the lake. A much better view than that of the kitchen.

I sit here surrounded by visible signs of vacation; a Yahtzee game, a deck of cards, a magazine on the Best of Midwest Travel, a completed library book and an in-process library book, as well as a cup of tea. I can easily get lost looking out the french doors watching the rain fall and the mist gather over the lake. Then I realized that is exactly what vacation is, doing what ever you want and enjoying every moment of it.

The only sounds I hear are the rain falling on the patio, the sound of the dryer running, I love having a washer and dryer in the cottage. The laundromat is to be avoided at all cost, although I do think there could be some good stories there, none the less, I prefer to be doing other things will my clothes are getting clean. The only other sound is the infernal ticking of the metal rustic lodge looking wall clock. The very same clock that I pull the battery out of in the middle of the night when I come downstairs to sleep, because I am either too hot upstairs or the dogs dry-mouth smacking is driving me crazy.

The rain has slowed for the moment, so it is a good time to take the dogs out for a potty break.

Back inside, I return to the table, begin my 3rd cup of tea for the morning and revisit my laptop and the photos I am suppose to be editing. The photo I am working on is one I took of Mallory as she stood at the end of the dock. Her idea, my camera, along with some photos on her iPhone for her. I am having a hard time deciding which one I like best of the eleven I have edited with a variety of presets. I think this is my favorite, at least for the moment.

All of a sudden I notice a movement out of the corner of my eye. There to the left in the yard is a graceful, long legged doe. She cautiously crosses the yard. Thankfully Scout doesn't see her, since he is now lying where Riley was earlier. The doe enters the woods and out of my sight, so I look down towards the lake and I see a mama duck floating past the dock with a half dozen or more ducklings following in a line behind her.

Yes, a perfect rainy morning on the peninsula.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Winery Writings

It feels so good to be writing again. How have I let myself become so busy that I have not had any time to do something that I love so much. This must change, starting now.

I am companionless for the next couple of days. Glen has gone back down state to work, by his own choice I will add. Mallory is back at her interning duties of making copies, filling trail maps, and delivering ranger lead event schedules to various locations around Sleeping Bear Dunes. Being companionless for a short time is not an unwelcome event, I am free to explore at my own pace. I am not holding anyone up as I take photos and talk to random strangers. I find talking to fellow travelers and locals one of the most enriching components of vacation.

I chose to begin my adventure at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, or in other words the decaying parts of the Northern Michigan Asylum. I don't think that I will ever get enough of this place. I could wander it every week and find something new to photograph. Even though the day is sunny and bright, the shadows cast by the buildings allow for some haunting shots of the boarded up entranceways and glimpses of rust, decay and the damage done by vandals.

After being inside a couple of these buildings last week Friday when we did the Guided Historic Building and Tunnel Tour, I have a new appreciation for all of the work involved in the restoration process of these buildings.

As I rounded the backside of these architectural marvels, I noticed a small, brown, furry creature scamper down the side of the hill that is behind the buildings. I saw where it went and I knew that it couldn't escape that area without me seeing it, so I set out to see who the furry creature might be. I approached the corner of the building where I had seen it go and as I rounded it there stood a darling baby fawn sniffing around one of the outside door frames. Where was this precious baby's mama? Then I remembered the pitiful cry that I had heard coming from the top of the hill earlier, it must have been this fawn crying for it's mother. I gently slid to the ground to watch the sweet darling. It had scampered into the bushes next to the door when it saw me. I tried so hard to get a photo of it, but the little one was doing a good job of hiding. As I moved a little closer it scooted to the far back corner of the buildings where it quickly laid down under some bushes. I left the sweet fawn and continued walking around the rest of the unrestored buildings.

A quick stop at the car to shed the Paisleys, the Paisley were essential for walking around the buildings as there is a lot of broken glass and knee high weeds near the buildings. My feet happily strapped into my Chaco sandals, I set off to wander around the restored and in-process of restoration buildings. This is something that I have not done before, since it is usually raining or snowing when we come here.

As I made my way towards the front of the restored buildings, I stopped to watch some construction workers at a building that is in process. As I turned away from the construction scene I was stopped by an older gentleman pushing his elderly aunt. They were out enjoying the beautiful blue skies and sunshine, soaking up Vitamin D. They had stopped to watch the construction workers as well. As I turned the gentleman says to me "It is amazing all the machinery they need today to do what they did by hand back when this place was built in the late 1800's."

As I chatted with the gentleman and his aunt, I discovered that they both grew up here in Traverse City and both remember coming here to the asylum for field trips when there were patients still here. Kind of a scary field trip in my mind. The gentleman recounted a time he came here for a field trip and one of the boys in his class, that one boy who always had to be first for everything, he was the first one in the door of the asylum and was greeted by a female patient coming out of her room completely naked with her arms spread wide for an embrace. Needless to say after that the boy was less inclined to be first in line.

The gentleman told me when he was in his 20's he moved to Detroit to work in the automobile industry. After six years there he couldn't take it anymore and moved back to Traverse City, he missed it too much.

The gentleman also let me know that on Thursday nights from 6-8 p.m. down on the big lawn under the white dining tents they have live music and you can get a burger as big as a salad plate, chips and a pop for $5. A very good deal in his mind. Well if Thursday didn't happen to be my birthday, not quite what I am desiring for my birthday dinner, we might have had to check this event out. Of course, next week would be a better week to go, the live entertainment is an Elvis Impersonator.

It was time to get his aunt back so we parted ways with a wish to each other to enjoy the rest of the day. I finished wandering the front of the buildings and returned to my car.

It was fast approaching the noon hour and I was starting to get hungry. I thought I would unload my camera, grab my purse and wander over to the winery Left Foot Charley which was right across the street. I remembered that they had small plate samplers of meats and cheeses and I could purchase a glass of wine. The perfect lunch.

I wandered into the winery, the only person present at the moment was the girl behind the tasting bar. I asked about their small plates. She pulled out their "Munchies Menu".  I ordered the Ploughman Lunch, a little bit of everything; meat, cheese, bread and fruit. I also ordered a glass of their Kerner Wine. She recommended I take my glass of wine out to the patio. She would bring the Ploughman out  as soon as she prepared it.

I chose a black metal patio table in the shade. I set my wine down and took a couple of shots of it with my phone. I pulled out my notebook and pen and began my summer version of the Coffee Shop Chronicles, the Winery Writings. Perfect for summer don't you think?

The Ploughman arrived, the presentation was perfect, and it is all about the presentation. The cheeses are from the famous Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, a place that is on my bucket list for Glen and I to go to. The cheeses were heavenly, the bread and slices of salami and prosciutto divine. I texted a photo to Glen, his day at work probably wasn't looking too good after that.

After I finished my delightful plate and my even more delightful glass of wine, I tried to write some more, but the little crawly bugs that had been on the table now decided to crawl on me. Time to pack up, return my wine glass to the girl behind the counter and continue on.

I decided to go back to the spot where I had seen the fawn and take a few shots of the area with my phone. As I peered into the corner where I had last seen the precious little one, I saw an ear flick and I knew the baby was still there. It breaks my heart to know this little one is all alone. I really hope that mama is nearby.

Well all good adventures must come to an end eventually. I returned to the car, and drove off in the direction of the grocery store.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I am so impressed with the National Park Service. When a kid sends in a Flat Stanley, or in this case a Flat Ranger, as part of a summer project, the NPS takes the time to send somebody out to someplace beautiful in the park and have the Flat Ranger's picture taken. Here beautiful Lake Michigan is in the background, as well as North Manitou Island. Yes, that is my hand assisting in the Flat Ranger photo taking.

Find No. 2

I think there is a conspiracy among rental cottage owners. Make sure there are NO sharp knives for the renters to use. They might hurt themselves and then the cottage owners might be held liable. Do you know how hard it is to cut a lime with a VERY dull knife?

Find No. 3

I found this bowl here at the cottage and have fallen in love with it. Do you think anyone will notice if it goes missing at the end of next week? By the way the salad in the bowl is the start of a Quinoa Chickpea and Avocado Salad.

Find No. 4

I have a confession to make, I really prefer to take photos on vacation with my iPhone as opposed to using my dSLR. First of all, it is convenient and works well with my joy of photographing random things. Second, the instant gratification. I can take a photo do a little editing and then send it right off to Instagram, or add it to my photo stream, so I can post to my blog while away. Third, I LOVE the apps and filters that I can use on the iPhone. Take for instance this photo....

becomes this...

I love the app. DistressedFX, one of my favorites. I like the moody landscapes I can create with it.

Find No. 5

I found this burger - Black Bean Pesto Burger - I have been thinking about this burger for two years now, ever since I had a bite of my husband's last time we were here in the summer. And yes, it was worth the wait, so good. 

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Dock

The dock has become my sanctuary. My place to go to be still.

A place to listen to the world around me, and yet there is no need for me to be an active part in any of it.

The dock isn't fancy, no benches or chairs to sit on. Instead I bring down the pink and white checkered blanket that I found tucked away in a hall closet. I lay it out as a cushion of sorts between me and the hard man-made white plastic rectangles of the dock. It isn't very comfortable, but then neither is the hard, clear plexiglass of the tanning bed that I willingly submit myself to during the long, cold, dreary months of winter. Submitting myself just so I can get some Vitamin D and a little color, so why wouldn't I do the same here on the dock. Here I am getting Vitamin D, warmth, some natural golden color, as well as a refreshing breeze and time to be still. Time to close my eyes and just listen. 

I hear the sound of a lawn mower some dozen cottages away. I don't mind the sound, it is the sound of summer.

At the moment there is one Sunfish sail boat on the water, as well as, a couple of fishing boats. Most K-12 schools just finished classes this week, so the lake is quiet yet, not filled with Sea Doos and small speed boats pulling screaming teenagers on over inflated inner tubes. Next weekend may be a different story, so for now I will enjoy the moment.

As I lay here the sounds of birds calling and chirping are plentiful. There is one call that is quite fascinating to my husband, it sounds like someone whistling. There are waterfowl nearby as well, a pair of Mallards float near the shore and lying at the end of the dock to my right is an unusual looking and sounding duck. I will have to bring my binoculars out with me next time so I can figure out who this unusual guy is. 

The best sound of all though is the sound of the water gently lapping against the shore. So peaceful, so soothing. A sound that gently pulls you in and before you know it an hour has passed. A little vacation nap with time to be still.

Joining Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary

Thursday, June 5, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I found this vintage pencil sharpener last week at my favorite antique mall. I am in love...the best $10 I ever spent.

Find No. 2

The kitchen repainting is coming along nicely, although I found it took me all day to get it done, so much cutting in. I would rather roll! I do love the color though.

Find No. 3

I took the house phone off when I painted and I found I didn't really miss it. Nobody ever calls us on it except telemarketers. If somebody wants to talk to me they call my cell phone. Maybe after vacation it will go away permanently.

Find No. 4

This is what you will find on my nightstand this week. I stocked up at the library on Tuesday. We are leaving for a two week of vacation and I plan on reading a lot.

Find No. 5

I found my poppies are just starting to come out, so I wanted to capture one before we left since they might be done before we get back home. In reality this poppy is very red, but I love the softer more desaturated look here.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Box of Treasures - Photo Heart Connection ~ May

Recently my daughter and I were cleaning and organizing our storage room. You know the storage room, everybody has one. It is that space where all the stuff you don't know what to do with winds up. Ours is also truly a storage space. It holds our daughter's vast American Girl Doll collection and her assorted pieces of Playmobile. Items that we would never get rid of, keeping them instead for her future children.

I had planned on working on this project this past winter, except that the storage room is barely heated. The thought of wearing my down winter coat to tackle the project did not seem appealing.

So on a recent rainy day, that didn't turn out to be so rainy, we made the storage room our project. The process went so much faster with the two of us, and since many of the items are hers it was better for her to decide to keep, donate or pitch instead of me.

As I started on the far back corner of the room, I came across this box.

I knew it contained some items of my Great-Aunt Viola's. After she passed away, it was my dad and his siblings' responsibility to clean out her house and sell it. My aunt had never married and had outlived all her siblings.

All the great nieces and nephews could pick out things that meant something to us. I chose my treasures from her attic, a place I loved to explore whenever I was at her house. The door to her attic was at the end of her living room. You knew the door led to a magical place. The dark wood four panel door was narrower and shorter than a normal door and the ornate metal door knob was half the size of a regular door knob. When you opened the door you were immediately greeted by a flight of steep, narrow wooden stairs. The kind that creaked with each carefully placed foot. As you looked up the stairs you were greeted by a hazy light from two bare lightbulbs, the air swirling with dust motes. Yes, a magical place indeed.

After my Aunt Viola passed, I chose to keep the extraordinary treasures from her attic that I had played with when I was a child. I have the old vintage Walt Disney and Lassie coloring books that I colored in every time I visited. I have an old wooden seal pull toy, and an old electric plug-in view finder with many disks of 1950's vacation destinations.

For the life of me though I could not remember what was in this box. I brought it upstairs to our dining room table and opened it.

I remember the blue and red yoyo. I played with it all the time, although I was never that good at it. I remember playing Bingo with my aunt using these wooden Bingo pieces, but where were the rest of them and where were the Bingo cards? The rest of the contents of the box were a mystery to me. A Flinch card game? I have never even heard of Flinch. A Pinochle deck and lots of dice.

As I looked through these mystery pieces, I was rewarded with a wonderful surprise. Inside the lid of the Pinochle game, in my aunt's hand writing was a tally of sorts, along with some rules for the game.  I have many wonderful memories of my great aunt so to find something with her handwriting on it was very precious to me, and makes a great photo-heart connection.

Joining Kat:

Joining Heather: