About Me

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I love Jesus. I love my family. I love photography. I love books. I love thinking. Probably in that order. I have a wonderful husband, five beautiful daughters, a house, and a camera. I enjoy spending time talking to my husband, playing with my girls, redecorating my house and shooting things with my camera. In my spare time, I sleep.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My 'top 5's': 2010 reading

Monica at Pixel Perfect recently posted her top 10 book list for 2010.  I love to read and I adore books so I thought to myself...that's a good idea.  While most of her books were Christian nonfiction...most of my reading list consisted of light-hearted Christian fiction.  Although I have certainly read my share of secular fiction this year as well and a few nonfiction.  I just get bored with non-fiction books really quickly and they take me way longer to read.  On the other hand, I can breeze through a fiction book in a day or two. So far this year I've completed 45 books and am working on number 46.  (You can see my complete list on the sidebar.)  Not quite as lengthy a list as last year but considering I added a child and began homeschooling, I think I did pretty well!

I would say that the top 5 books that I would recommend to others would be:  (All lists are in no particular order.)
-'Saving Alice' by David Lewis
-'The Penny' by Joyce Meyers & Deborah Bradford
-'False Witness' by Randy Singer (Almost like a christian John Grisham...I got a advance reading copy so it isn't even quite out yet but an excellent book.)
-'A Great & Terrible Beauty' by Libba Bray (Secular author...a bit unsettling but it hooked me.)
-'The Total Money Makeover' by Dave Ramsey (Lifechanging...everybody needs to familiarize themselves with the Ramsey makeover!)
The 5 books that I most enjoyed were:
- 'The Edge of Recall' by Kristen Heitzmann
-'Saving Alice' by David Lewis
-'The Still of the Night' by Kristen Heitzmann
-'The Measure of a Lady' by Deenne Gist
-'Letter Perfect' by Cathy Marie Hake (I really enjoy christian historical girl fiction.  WhatcanIsay?)
And the 5 books that were most influential on me were: 
-'The Total Money Makeover' by Dave Ramsey
-'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury (A classic...)
-'A Great & Terrible Beauty' by Libba Bray
-'Five Love Languages' by Gary Chapman (My top two are 'words of affirmation' and 'physical touch'. fyi. )
-'Saving Alice' by David Lewis (Hmm...made all three lists, but I wouldn't necessarily call it my favorite...Very interesting read, however.  Pick it up.)
The 5 authors I read most this year:
-Kristen Heitzmann (4)--Found her this year and LOVE her.  Have 4 more of her books on my shelf waiting their turn!  Her writing is a nice mix of faith, intrigue & romance.
-Hannah Alexander (3)--A husband/wife writing team.  Also a faith/intrigue style.
-Deeanne Gist (2)--christian historical romance
-Cathy Marie Hake (2)--christian historical romance
-Karen Kingsbury (2)--specializes in heartfelt tearjerkers

There you go...hope I gave the other readers out there some books to consider.  Now...what books and/or authors would you recommend for my 2011 list?  I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Oh...and if you are a bibliophile like me, you may want to sign yourself up with Bookmooch.  I ADORE this site.  Trading books with people around the world for FREE!  It's a great community.  :)

Happy reading, bloggy world!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mama M: Holiday Gift Guide Blog Hop--Gifts for Gram


I wanted to share with the blog hoppers over at Mama M's My Little Life the successful gift I've gotten for my grandparents several years running. (I think they've come to expect it now.)  I make them custom calendars at Snapfish.  Not only do they feature adorable (if I do say so myself) photos of my girls (their "favorite" great-granddaughters *wink*) but I also custom fill each calendar with photos marking all the birthdays and anniversaries of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  It is a neat and personal gift that they get to enjoy & appreciate all year long. And they have told me again and again how much they love it!  So...there you go.


Oh and by the way...if you like my idea...Snapfish is having a deal on those calendars through Dec. 15th.  Using code MERRY1215--get 3 for the price of 1!  Just sayin'...

Groupon Deal: ScanDigital

So this weekend Russ started the project of finishing our basement sheetrocking the walls and adding outlets on the outside walls and so I needed to clean up some down there and came across all our VHS tapes.  Since VCR's are nearly extinct and ours is no longer attached to a television I decided that we may as well get them out of the house.  They are pretty much useless.  But I also came across old family videos.  I can't get rid of those...but I currently can't enjoy them.   We actually have several tapes of home video of Eden as a baby that I would love to have on my computer or dvd. 

Providentially this morning one of the Groupon online deals was for $100 worth of video digitalization (or photo scanning) at the price of $40.  I was psyched.  The problem is they need to sell at least 20 in order for the deal to be on and so far I am one of only 3 people.  So...I am encouraging you all to grab this deal too if you have old videos that you'd like to preserve or boxes of photos that need scanned.  I think they even do slides!  So take advantage of this deal today and/or pass it on!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Before & After: Christmas Girl Framed

Before (SOOC):

After (edit):

My process:
I took these two photos.  Opened them in Paint Shop Pro9.  Upped the contrast & lowered the brightness on the first photo.  Copied & pasted it as a new layer on the second photo.  Erased out the background.  Merged image.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Helping spread awareness...

Recently a huge portion of my friends on Facebook have been changing their profile pictures to that of a classic cartoon with the following message:   "Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB till Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against CHILD ABUSE. Copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same."   My first thought was, 'How is changing my profile picture going to prevent child abuse?"   Same goes for all those people who "like" the group "Turn Facebook Pink For 1 Week."  Seriously, what good is that going to do?   But I get it.  That isn't the point.  The purpose of such campaigns is to raise awareness.

I am kind of a cynical person.  I'm not necessarily proud of that but...it is what it is.  As such I have a lot of societal pet peeves.  And one of them happens to be the trend of  "spreading awareness."  I think people already are "aware" that millions of women are diagnosed with breast cancer.  I think people are already "aware" that thousands of woman & children are abused every day.  I think it is pretty impossible that people are unaware of the fact that we live in a world in which we are surrounded by evils--disease, abuse, war, corruption, depression, death, general badness.  I am quite aware of it.  Yet, so what? Are we doing anything about it?  Do we care? I don't think so.

I think awareness campaigns are a joke.  They are a way of making people feel like they are doing something good without causing any real change.  And for many of us...they breed cynics like me because of our lack of FAITH in the systems that are promoting them. 

Now don't get me wrong...I know all the arguments for awareness.  And I agree with the sentiments behind some of them.  I agree with the idea of spreading knowledge.  Without knowledge there won't be change.  I think that it is important that people know the truth about things.  People need to spread TRUTH. (Although what that means has become awfully fuzzy to some people these days.)  And I agree with the idea of fostering & showing support to those dealing with these hardships.  Without support many individuals are left feeling hopeless and unloved.  People need to spread HOPE.  People need to spread LOVE.  But awareness?  Pshh.  What good does that do.  

We don't need to spread awareness.  (Especially with silly things like facebook profile pictures--which from a practical sense are totally useless.)  What we need to spread is TRUTH, FAITH, HOPE & LOVE.  These are things that can affect real change and make a real difference.  If people spread TRUTH than people may start having FAITH again in our ability to actually make a difference.  And if people had FAITH that a difference was or could be made then those who suffer would begin to have real HOPE that they wouldn't have to suffer forever.  And if people got involved and had the truth, faith & hope then people would again begin to show real compassion, charity and LOVE.  And it is really the lack of LOVE that is tearing our society apart...certainly not the lack of awareness.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."  (1 Peter 4:8)

And I say this as a person who really struggles in this area.  In many ways I have tried to avoid getting too close to any suffering so I can avoid the overwhelming sense of hurt that these situations cause my heart...because I don't want to feel compelled to do something because I don't think I can really do any good anyway.  I guess you could say that my cynical heart suffers from a serious HOPE deficiency.  At least when it comes to the ways of the world.

"A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save." Psalm 33:17

"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." (Psalm 31:34)

I suppose this really says something about my current spiritual condition.  I know the ultimate TRUTH, and I have the ultimate FAITH which produces the ultimate HOPE but I so easily let myself be bogged down by the LIES, TREACHERY & DESPAIR of the world and it blinds me to what living in Christ's authority really means.  

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."  (1 Corinthians13: 12-13)

I guess what I'm saying is that it may be fun to post a picture of Strawberry Shortcake on Facebook and to show others that you are morally against abuse...but don't forget that this is not the same as really helping those who really suffer.  And I pray that I, too,  may learn to view the world with more compassion and to become acutely AWARE of how powerful my position and HOPE in the LORD JESUS CHRIST really is.

Photo Freak: "Sepia"

Aurora at Photo Freak is having another fun photo contest...this time with the theme "Sepia"  I enjoy converting to sepia to give a photo a more timeless artistic quality.  Therefore I have TONS that I love... making it super hard to pick one for this but I think I finally decided on this photo of Eden from last year sporting her butterfly wings...

I just love this picture.  It's great in color too! 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Before & After: Mistletoe

On Thanksgiving I did an experiment with my family and this is one of the things I ended up with...

Before (SOOC):

After (Edit):

You can see more of my "Thanksgiving Experiment" on my photography blog.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010