Thursday, April 28, 2011

Special Times and Happy Places

Welcome to Friday Fave Five, Willow's Week in review.  I missed posting my faves last week.  And I really do mean that-- I missed the opportunity to share with others what I choose to focus on during the week--events and happenings for which I am grateful and thankful.  I was mostly offline, meandering around my home and wending my way south almost to the international border with Mexico.  But I'm back this week and linking to Susanne's blog to post my Friday Fave Fives.

1. Spring break:  two weeks.  Sitting in my favorite comfy chair reading several books, cup of coffee and knitting project nearby, for hours and hours: priceless!

2. Spending Easter Weekend in San Diego:  four hours driving in the car, some of it along the most beautiful coastline in the world.  Saturday afternoon baby shower for a friend and Sunday morning Easter service: priceless!

3. Walking on the beach: two hours.  Strolling with my girl and her dog:  priceless!

4. A train ride from San Diego: $32.  The views of the Pacific Ocean from the train windows:  priceless!

5. Friday we will be playing at the Happiest Place on Earth with #1 Son and his wife!  Receiving comp. tickets to Disneyland and California Adventure:  mega bucks.  Seeing my son for the first time in almost eight months: priceless!  (This explains why I may not get around in a timely manner to visit other participants in FFF, but I'll do my best.)

Happy Times and Happy Week!  Do you have anything fun planned?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Pleasant Surprise

Ok.  This has to be my BIG FIRST fave five this week.  Blogger allowed me to upload this photo:

I decided to try adding a photo tonight figuring, "What do I have to lose?  If I can't upload a photo, I'll click where directed to read up on my options."  Imagine my shock when the photo simply and easily uploaded! 

I love looking at this picture of the fishing boat which was cruising (do fishing boats cruise?) off the coast of Faria Beach State Park because it reminds me of all the wonderful sunny days I have spent at beaches around the world from Oregon and California to Florida to England to Indonesia.  And if you know me, you know I love the beach.

Secondly, blogger allowed me to upload this:

This is the Plain Vest from Pickles website's list of free patterns which I mentioned in a FFF post two weeks ago.  I chose to experiment with a second photo and added this vest because it makes me think excitedly about my plans for next week when I'll be spending a few days in that wonderful city of San Diego, visiting my daughter and son-in-law and attending the baby shower for their friends' new little girl who will be born soon and hopefully wear this little pink vest when she's about a year old.  Isn't it just the cutest thing?

Because I'm not one for pushing my luck, I think I'll stop with the uploading photos.  I have NO IDEA why these photos were allowed to be uploaded tonight.  But I'm not complaining.

Now then.  Third Fave Five.  Last week, The Professor commented that he was surprised that I had not mentioned an important event from our week.  I replied that I had hinted at it when I added the little phrase about selling a big item via Craig's List.  Well.  We bought a car and then sold our old one.  Truly, it should be a fave because I do love my newer Honda CR-V, my little Silver Bullet.  Better gas mileage.  21,000 miles.  Higher visibility.  And most important of all, our bike rack will fit on the back without sagging and scraping the pavement whenever we hit a low spot (once we get the hitch installed).  Maybe, just maybe, this will be the last car I ever have to purchase.  One can dream...

When I logged on to a clothing website yesterday to check sizing for a pair of slacks I wanted, I discovered to my great delight that the slacks are ON SALE for HALF PRICE right now!  And free shipping!  So I bought myself a pair of summer slacks.

Last, Spring Break!  Two weeks off!  That says it all.

That's my Fave Five for Willow's Week.   Did you have any fun and exciting surprises?  Do tell.  If you want, you can link to Susanne's blog HERE.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Week's Worth

Since I have not made any attempt to decide how I intend to handle the abrupt cessation of photo posting here at Willow's Cottage, this is another week of using only words to describe the happenings here in our very windy coastal community.  Thank you to all who left me information about how to alleviate the photo block issue.  I'm still evaluating my options.

1. I have the loveliest of neighbors!  On Tuesday, my neighbor who is also a wonderful friend (Hi M!) dropped by in the middle of her busy day and gave me an hour of her time to measure and pin four (4!) pairs of cropped pants.  I have a bad habit of purchasing cropped pants even though they are too long for me.  It's not really that they are too long, it's that I am too short.  Have other petite sized women noticed that cropped pants are still several inches too long, ending not at your calf but more like just above your ankle?  Anyway, Marvelous M used her dressmaking skills to keep me from looking quite as dowdy as I usually do in the summer.

2. Spring planting in our garden is progressing.  We've marked out some squares to attempt our version of a Square Foot Garden.  So far, we have planted six heirloom tomatoes, kale, (more) lettuce, spinach, (more) basil and (more) parsley.  In my opinion, you can't have too much parsley or basil in your garden.

3. I received a birthday book!  My sister-in-law and I share, among the many many other enjoyments we have in common, a love of all words written by Madeleine L'Engle.  The latest volume she sent me is Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art.  And tucked in to it was a bookmark painted with an original watercolor lavender spring violet which she created especially for me!

4. Isn't it FUN when to find a forgotten book on your bookshelf?  As I was dusting a shelf last Saturday, I noticed little blue book titled The Church of the East; it is actually an edited and condensed version of the very large two volume tome titled Nestorian Missionary Enterprise by John Stewart (published 1928). I know when and where we purchased the book as it was part of a homeschool curriculum, but I had no memory that we still owned it. (Here is where I confess to having lately developed a deep and insatiable interest in Christian Church history.)  Immediately I pulled it off the shelf and placed it lovingly and excitedly on the TOP of  my stack of 'I am planning to read this really soon' books.

5. Last, and certainly not least, because anything chocolate ranks quite high on my list of loves, I have been indulging my cocoa cravings with Trader Joe's (Vegan) 72% Swiss Dark Chocolate bar.  Do you shop at TJ's?  It's the 3.5 oz bar wrapped in the bright green cardboard.  On the back, it states, "Best before 03.03.2012".  I don't think I need to worry about the expiration date because this chocolate will not be around that long.

There were many more little and large events that could have made my Fave Five list (like a major Craig's List sale and a quick stop at the local garden nursery for some pink petunias), but I think these five are certainly a week's worth of blessings.  I'd love to hear about your week!  You can link up at Susanne's blog Living To Tell The Story or just leave a comment here.

Editor's note:  you may recall that I mentioned a book review I was planning to post.  If you are interested in reading a review of LowCostHighImpact Photography by blogger Steve Johnson, scroll down to the next post which I published last Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Low Cost High Impact Photography--a Review

Are you the photographer who uses a point and shoot camera and thinks that you need a fancy-shmancy professional camera to take really great photos? Do you want to learn how to maximize your skills with your current camera without spending any more money than the cost of a new e-book? Then Low Cost High Impact Photography by Steve Johnson is the book for you!

Low Cost High Impact Photography was self published in digital form. I appreciate that because I can sit anywhere I have my laptop computer, pull up the book and reread just the section I want to remind myself about such as how to maximize lighting to take a night photo. Because he was an artist before he became a photographer, Steve's way of looking through the camera lens is different from any other professional photographers I've encountered. He doesn't take himself or other professionals too seriously and that is refreshing. In addition, Steve is very approachable. When I didn't understand a term he used in the book, I emailed him and he responded very quickly with a simple and direct explanation. How many authors do you know who would do that? Please understand that the lack of understanding was not his fault but that I am a newbie to photography. Self published books better encourage relationships between author and reader.

The book is composed of three main sections besides the introduction and conclusion, Equipment, Technique and Aesthetics. In the Equipment section, Steve discusses not just cameras but also the very few other items a photographer might need to take stellar photos. The Technique chapters appealed to me less but I think that's because I just need to move my learning curve up a bit to appreciate what he's written. After reading the Aesthetics section, I gained a different perspective on what is 'beauty'.

The Low Cost part of this book is what impressed me most. Steve has given me the confidence that I don't have to spend bundles of cash to take really great photos. There are many money saving ideas scattered throughout the book. Reading Low Cost High Impact Photography made me want to grab my camera and practice everything all at once and take pictures of everything immediately which of course was not possible or a good idea. But having been exposed to these ideas and new ways of looking at objects has given me months of learning and experimentation to look forward to. Scattered among the more than 100 pages are tidbits of everyday wisdom, Steve-style. My favorite was "Good photography is about removing the nonessential clutter". Maybe that's obvious to most people, but it really resonated with me. What is the most important part of good composition? I'm not going to tell you. You'll have to read the book to find out. But I'm going to begin thinking about it every time I point my camera at a subject and click that button. It's exciting to realize that I have so much more to learn about photography, and it's not going to cost me any more cash than I've already spent on my camera and a few basic companion pieces.

At the end of Low Cost High Impact Photography, Steve includes what he calls Photo Essays, some real life examples of his own work, and tells the stories of how, where and when he took the photos. In simple story telling fashion, he explains the photographic and creative processes. Is every photo museum quality? No. Are they all really good photos of images that he enjoyed photographing? Yes! And that's what I love. Low Cost High Impact Photography is a book written by a real guy named Steve Johnson about taking real photos for real people who also take real pictures.

You can purchase Low Cost High Impact Photography on Steve's website/blog

I want to let you know that I am not making any income from writing this review other than happily receiving my copy of the book without cost.  Just tell him that Willow sent you.