Monday, August 31, 2009

I Heart Faces: Before and After

This week's theme is a non-competitive one and offers us all a chance to explore how far we've come in our photography journey. I thought I'd tag along, although I risk exposing how little progress I've actually made :)

I have to start by saying that the I Heart Faces website has been a major motivator for me. I doubt that I'd have been so interested, or learned so much without that great resource. Thank you so much, Angie and Amy, for your hard work and imagination!

I first started getting really interested in photography when my son was born. That interest intensified when I started my blog, in the fall of that year. We traded in our old camera and cam-corder for a newer, nicer camera and off I went! I bought a few books and read them and struggled along for a good long while. Then I found Niecey's blog and then discovered her photography! And then she linked in to I Heart Faces one week, and WON! And a new obsession was born :)

This first photo was taken with our old point-n-shoot when Judah was just a few weeks old. It's still one of my favorite photos of the two of them. They're both looking straight into the camera and have great expressions. But if I had it to do over again today, I'd frame it very differently, try to get some better lighting and play around with some of the fun edits I've discovered on PSE.


The "after" one was hard for me to choose. I wanted to find a shot that shows me putting some of what I've learned into practice. The problem is, even though I may be thinking about all the right principles of photography at the time, it doesn't always show in the shot! Especially when shooting my squirmy, squirrelly kids! So instead of choosing just one shot, as the rules state, I thought I'd bend the rules a bit (it's not a competition this week, after all) and give you a few illustrations of what I've learned in action (remember to click on the picture to see the whole thing-- blogger crops them for me, and not very well!):

1) The rule of thirds. I've been getting better about framing and cropping shots with this in mind:


2) Try shooting from different heights to vary your perspective to add interest to a shot.


3) Close crops are my friend.


4) Coffeeshop Photo Actions are my Best Friend!


5) Capturing the ever-elusive bokeh can make your day!


Here's to more lessons learned in the next two years!! Won't you join me and all the other great folks at I Heart Faces? I'd love to have you follow along here by clicking the "Follow" button in the sidebar.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Photo Dump: Goin' To the Fair!

Though the weather outside was frightful



The fair was quite delightful!












Friday, August 28, 2009

On a lighter note...

Now that I'm thirty, and only have two kids, and don't ever, ever wear a denim jumper, can I still get away with this??


Or am I just too bourgeois? Keep in mind we don't own a mini van, our mower is the 1950s reel kind, and I have an herb garden. But no compost pile :(
Sorry about the picture quality. Apparently it's a lot harder than I thought to take a good picture of the back of your own head.

P.S. My face isn't dirty-- that's just this weird birthmark I have...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I do love me a good bargain!

For all you other bargain lovers out there, feast your eyes on $27 well-spent at Old Navy!

The above contains:

For Sofi
3 tank tops
1 sundress
1 pair yoga pants

For Judah
1 pair shorts
1 tank top
1 pair flashy red socks!

For J
1 pr smart linen trousers!

That's an average of $3 per item. Let me share with you that the clothing at our local Goodwill is marked between $2.50 and $3.00 an item. And these are brand-new and have a fairly good re-sale value! (because of the brand, I mean)

*grins self-satisfied-ly*

I love seasonal clearance at Old Navy.

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Ooo, guess what??

My bloggy friend, Dawn, is going to design a button for me to use on my Vacation Vlogging posts! And you guys get to pitch in! I need some ideas for a catchy title. So far the only thing I've come up with is "Herb of Grace Goes Roading". And then I wiki-ed it and found out that "roading" is not actually a word, so there goes that idea... I also though of "....Goes Walk-about", but I'm sooo not Australian, so that's a bit presumptuous. So here I stand, back at square one, waiting for help from all y'all

Speaking of 'help from all y'all', thanks so much for your input on the photo submission choice! It's so nice to have other opinions pitching in! I plan to put up a post in the next week some time with the "narrowed down" list and see what y'all think then.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oh yeah, those pictures I promised you...

... the ones of what mostly happened the day I tried to get bubble pictures? Here they are!





Just in case there are any lingering myths about the angelic nature of my children after posts like this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Help, please :)

In case you've not yet noticed, I love photography. I'm not real great at it, but I sure do enjoy it. And every year I enter this photography contest for amateurs. Of course, I've never won or anything, but I still enjoy entering and looking over all the other entries. The deadline for entering this year is fast approaching and I cannot decide what shot to enter! If you have a moment, would you click on "photography" in my tag cloud over the in the sidebar and look over some pics for me? And then comment on the post of the one you like? So I can make up my mind already??

Gee, thanks :)

Ethiopian Recipes: Alicha Wat

This lentil dish is the wat I make most often. To the best of my understanding, adding chicken or hard-boiled eggs to this dish would turn it into Doro Wat, but I usually make Tibs to accompany this instead. Guess what recipe I'll be posting next time??? :)

To make this dish really authentic, you need to find red lentils. Not green, yellow or the normal brown kind. The taste and texture of red lentils is completely different from any of those others. However, that being said, if you are desperate, and don't know what the good stuff tastes like, brown lentils will be fine.

Rinse your lentils, cover with water and simmer until softened. Add more water as needed.

Chop tomato, onion (lots of onion!), press several garlic cloves and chop up some fresh gingeroot. Throw it all into a saucepan and add a little water or olive oil. Cook until onions are tender.

Add cooked lentils to veggies. Add spices. Here's the deal with the spices. I pretty much add whatever combination sounds good to me at the time. Sacrilege, I know. Sometimes I keep it simple with just a little cardamom. Sometimes I go all out and add tumeric, cardamom, and this cool mustard Mina gave me (not regular Walmart dry mustard, believe me.) And I often stir in a little of the niter kibbeh when it's done cooking. Oh yeah, and the chili. Ahhh, the chili. I have no idea what kind it is-- but it's yuuuummy. I almost always add that. It's more like cayenne than mexican chili powder like you'd use for tacos, in case you're looking for a substitute. And, of course, salt to taste.

After you add the spices, go ahead and cook a few more minutes to give them some time to settle in. Serve and enjoy!

Tip: be sure to keep adding water as needed. You want a stew-like consistency in the end.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Supercool Giveaway...

.. at Mama Kat's, which I will not win, because I never win giveaways, but at least you can't say I don't try!

She's giving away a bloggy makeover, from this talented designer!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not in the club anymore...

I am the eldest of five children. My parents home schooled me from Kindergarten through high school and part of college. Two of my best friends are number four and five out of seven home schooled kids. That was a pretty average size family among our circle of friends. One Herculean mother had fifteen and still counting, last time I checked. Her oldest is my brother's age and her youngest is recently out of diapers. They home school, too. This could be us:

I grew up reciting Psalm 127:3, right along side John 3:16 and the Ten Commandments. From the time I first knew to talk about it, I always said I wanted to have an even dozen kids. I modified that in adulthood to being satisfied with four. Two of each, please. I imagined how it would be... the happy chaos, the laughter, the family adventures, instant community--just add water and stir... I was full of careless arrogance towards women who had small families, assuming selfishness or mis-placed priorities on their part. It was Us and Them, and I was glad to be in the Us Club.

Fast-forward 20-odd years and I'm having this conversation with a woman visiting our church:

Her: Oh we're just visiting this morning. We've been member at HBC for a long time, but things are changing there...doctrinal stuff... and there just aren't many large families any more... I have five boys... we home school...

(me; thinking "oh great! A kindred soul! let's get to know each other)

Her: And your kids....?

me: This is Judah, and Sofi's away over there somewhere...

Her: Just the two?


(me; awkwardly realizing that I'm one of those "not many large families anymore" from her old church)

*sound of heart breaking*

Me: mumble, mumble, mumble, fade away....

There's just no way to bring up in casual conversation that I consider myself the mother of three, arguably four, that I love children, that the Lord just had a different plan for our lives than we did, that I would gladly welcome her beautifully rowdy family of young men into my home any time. That I'm not One of Them, despite my regulation two children, one of each, conveniently spaced so as not to have two in diapers at the same time. I'm One of Us. Just... different.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Two Women, Two Toddlers and a Drama Queen

The countdown has started! In just 14 days, we begin F. Road Trip 09--The Long Journey East. I know you think I'm about to warn you of my absence during that time, but au contrair, my dear reader. As the true blogger that I am, I could not pass up this opportunity for (what I am sure will be) a rich source of blogging material. I intend to bring you regular updates from every Starbucks we stop in along the way. Or wherever I can find the neccessary wifi.

And to make it even better, I intend to vlog! Yes, that's right! Herb of Grace, the blog, is going cutting-edge-21st-century on you! I will be live vlogging our journey across this great country.

Mom, I hear you groaning about your dial-up and how you won't be able to watch the vids and all, but take heart. I will do my best to include some written accounts as well, for the less techie among us.

First, to pique your interest, I want to share with you our itinerary!


Each of those little blue flaggies is an overnight stop, and that blank bit is 'cause we don't know where we'll stop along in there, 'cause it's West Virginia, for pete's sake.

Now, to make it even more fun for y'all and for us, won't you chime in? What should we see and do along the way? Have you been to any of these places? Do you have any favorites spots along our route? What do you want us to check out for ya? What do you want to hear about on the Vacation Vlog? Got any good tips for traveling with kids? (besides the Benadryl thing, Laurie...)

And does anyone want to help me design a cool header to display during our road trip vlogging days? Pretty please? I'll put in a good word for you and you can think of it as free advertising! You can email me...