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Deep South



IMG_0341 It's pretty rare that all the elements come together for a outdoor boudoir session.  Weather, timing, a willing subject, and of course finding a secluded enough location to take the photos.  But Amanda and I set out on a beautiful warm fall day for a beautiful boudoir adventure.


Boudoir sessions are close to my heart.  They require a lot of trust, vulnerability, and openness.  When a subject relaxes during a boudoir session, it is a huge compliment.  But the main reason they are so close to my heart is that they are an amazing opportunity to show someone's true beauty, the kind that very few of us show to others.


So Amanda and I headed out on a hike, with a few outfits and a flower crown to make some magic happen.  Amanda is so beautiful and I think these images did a great job of capturing her.


My favorite images of the day however, are the ones that we took in the lake.  That's right you heard me.  This girl got in a lake, in Fall (with maybe a little persuasion from yours truly).



There is something about water that is just magical to me.  The first half of my life I grew up near the water and it still has a huge calling for me.  Lately, I have been very influenced by Michelle Gardella.  I love her work and think her River Stories series is absolutely stunning.


A tremendous thank you to Amanda for trusting me during our shoot.  For going with my crazy whims and being up for anything...even freezing cold lakes.  Especially lakes that are pretty gross at the bottom.  It was a great adventure and you are such a beautiful woman.  I hope the world can now see what I see.




It's the first day of spring and the flowers in my front beds are blooming.  This week they really just came up out of no where and opened up to the world.  I couldn't resist sharing them with you. As I mentioned in my post "I Spy Something..." my Mother helped me plant these flowers last fall.  It was really special to me to be able to spend that time with her.  Although I spent most of the time watching her plant these flowers since I was recovering from surgery, it was just nice to sit and catch up.  These days it's pretty rare that we get time together, just the two of us.  While we were together she told me a story about one of her fondest memories of me as a little girl.  She also told me how she told herself at that moment that she had better remember it.  While she said this I was thinking the same thing about watching her plant these flowers.  I thought to myself, you have to remember this, don't let this memory slip away.  And lucky for me, I have a beautiful reminder.  Each spring, when these flowers bloom, I'll think about that weekend with my Mom and how we planted these together.

Another memory that the flowers in our yard bring, is that of Speed Racer's Grandfather.  He planted most of these flowers, and since I've moved here I've tried very hard to maintain them.  But he must have used the front flower beds for annuals because they were empty before we planted bulbs in them.  Last night though, Speed Racer turned to me as we walked by them in twilight, and said "My Grandfather would have loved to see those flowers, they're really nice.  You did a wonderful job."  That meant the world to me.  When you move into a house that was owned by a family member it's hard to balance the "This is now your house" and the "This holds lots of memories."  So when I look out at my front yard and see the flowers, it just makes me smile.  I just look out and see Speed Racer's Grandfather, and his love for nature; my Mother and I, and the bond that we have; and our future...small little children picking flowers in the front yard.  These are the best parts of home ownership: dreaming, making memories, and keeping memories alive.



Factory Girl

A couple weekends ago, Speed Racer, Speed Racer's Dad, and I went on a little photo trip.  We were all in the mood to get out of the house and take some pictures, despite the bitter cold.  So we headed off and came across this cool factory.  It was creepy, musty, and had huge holes in the floor.  It would have been perfect for a horror film complete with scary scratching metal sound every time the wind blew. Ironically none of brought our tripods.  It was a sunny sunny day and we didn't think we'd be inside.  So some of my pictures didn't turn out, but some were fun anyway.  Also Speed Racer and I were sharing a camera, so some of these are his....and some I can't remember if they are mine or his.  I should have known better, I mean camera 101, ALWAYS HAVE YOUR CAMERA.  I got lured in because I love my husbands camera and it's one of those things, if I had brought mine, we would not have gone out.  Such is life.

This is one of Speed Racer's photos.  Great detail of the glass pipes.

Another of Speed Racer's and probably one of my favorites from the day!  I just love it.

I feel that I must end with a very important note from your sponsor.  DO NOT DO THIS ALONE.  For reals people, as a fellow photographer I understand taking risks to get fun, cool, new, exciting shots.  However, as a former rescue squad volunteer, these shots are not worth your life.  So let's roll over the basics.  When shooting urban terrain whether it's at night or abandoned places, always have a buddy.  Do you have your buddy?  Second, always tell someone who is not with your buddy or your group where you are and around what time you will be back.  I am very serious about this.  It takes one false step to fall down a hole, break a leg, have no reception, and no one know where you are.  So be responsible so that you can have fun and everyone else can enjoy your future photos too!



I Spy Something...

GREEN!!! Back in October my mother and I spent some time planting bulbs in my front flower beds.   And by my mother and I, I mean, my mother.  This was during the time that I had my tonsils removed, so I was in recovery.  I had a very important job though...I pointed where the flowers should go...yeah...important.  But I digress.  So all through the winter, I was worried they wouldn't come up, and the beds looked all tucked and cozy but well...brown. See Exhibit A.  You really can't tell much is going on there.  But if you look really reeeeally close... can spy some green.

And maybe even a few buds coming up...

And then this is the point where I go, "hmmm I can't remember what type of flowers I planted...hmmm."

But the more I look, the more I see! They're everywhere.  This winter has been a long one and I am so ready for spring to say hello.

In our other bed there is even a tinsy tiny bit of color.  Just a wee bit.

Just enough to remind me that spring will be here soon.  I don't have long to wait.



Mann Again

As I have mentioned in previous posts (see Mann: Keeping Inspired) and will likely  mention in posts to come, I'm a big fan of Sally Mann.  I love the rough quality of her work and at the same time the mystery of it.  I particularly love her wet plate photography series like Deep South, and her newest series Proud Flesh. Her latest series Proud Flesh is done in the same wet plate style, although unlike many wet plate photographers, Mann prefers her glass negative to be imperfect, as well as her camera for that matter.  Proud Flesh is a series of portraits of her husband Larry, whom she has been married to for 40 years.  The series not only reflects on the closeness and intimacy between Larry and Sally, but of the deterioration of Larry's body from Muscular dystrophy.  The result is a heart wrenching series, that is honest and intimate, and will bring tears to your eyes.

I highly recommend checking out the link below to NPR's interview and a video of Sally Mann with her husband Larry.  There is also a HBO documentary on Mann titled What Remains.

Sally Mann: Proud Flesh




If you have never been to the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN then you are missing out.  Not only do they have a fabulous new penguin exhibit, but it's my favorite place in the world to just watch the jelly fish.  They are so relaxing and just the tank. Here are a few of my favorite shots.



There's a Monster on our porch...

It's black, it's shiny, it's BIG, and it creates amazing delicious food.  Meet our new grill.  With a lot of help from a few elves, Mrs. Claus was able to surprise Speed Racer with this beautiful monstrosity...he didn't even see it coming. As I lugged Christmas presents up the stairs from the lower garage, having just arrived home from a lovely Christmas at my parents house, I heard a cry from upstairs.  "What's this??!"

"What's what??" I asked, trying really hard not to grin like a Cheshire cat.

"There's a big box in our''s...a grill??"

It's not often I get to truly truly blindside Speed Racer and I was enjoying every minute of it.  I began to grin remembering how he had "seen" the box of his decoy present (a poster tube, inevitably containing a rather cool poster, but pretty obvious) and had bragged for days before that he knew what it was.

He kept just looking at me, then looking at the grill, then looking at me.  After several more gapes, and silences as he let it sink in, I explained my evil plan and how many of our family members had been involved.

So last night, after setting it up the night before, Speed Racer treated me to a feast on his new grill.  And I have to admit folks, he showed me up.  It was AMAZING.  I may have to change "Dish-o-the-Week" to "Speed Racer's Grill of the Week."  I rather like the idea.

The New York Strips marinating...

Mushrooms filled with red pepper, mozzarella, and garlic filled green olives.

That's the love of my life right there.

The smell was out of this world I tell you.

The button on my jeans just popped at the mere memory.

Our delicious delicious meal, AND one of our awesome Christmas presents this year...

awesome beer glasses.

Now with my stomach rumbling, I'm going to have to go start dinner.  If only we had more steak.



Winter Wonderland

I woke up this morning to freezing rain, super icy conditions, and almost busted my bum when I decided to "test" the road.  It's still pretty gross out there and since I live on a back road, it's taking a little while to clear up.  So while I enjoy my hot coco and snuggle with my kitties, I thought you might enjoy the beautiful sunrise that I experienced yesterday morning.



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Dish-o-the-Week: Awesome Chicken Tortilla Soup

I don't know where you are today, but where I am, it's snowing.  And it's COLD.  I don't like the cold, in fact I really don't like winter all that much.  I'm more of a beach and sun kinda gal.  But all complaining aside, I do love a day where I can curl up with a good bowl of soup.  And this soup my friends, is awesome. This recipe was given to me by my friend and fellow blogger, Renee.  For adventures of motherhood, money and everything else, you can check out her blog HERE.  One of the things I love most about this recipe is that it's all to taste.  If you like your soup with a kick, just add more...if you're a little more on the mild side (ahem, certain members of my family) then just leave it out or add less.

What you need:

1 lb. diced chicken breast

1 each of onion, red pepper, yellow pepper and jalapeno (I used dried jalapeno) cut into long strips.

28 oz of Fire Roasted Canned Tomatoes (Mine was just regular crushed tomatoes because my grocery store did not have the fire roasted.  BUT if you can find the fire roasted it is definitely worth it for the flavor.  Also depending on what consistency you like it's up to you if you want crushed, whole, diced...whatever floats your tomato boat).

32 oz of Chicken Broth

Coriander, Chili Powder, Garlic, and Thyme

Shredded Cheese, Sour Cream, Avacado, and Tortilla Chips for the Fixin's.  Fixin's are very important.

First, cube and saute the chicken in a large stock pot.  Then cut the onion and peppers, and add to the pot.  Saute until the veggies are tender.  Next add seasonings to taste.  For this I started with a teaspoon of each and then added as I liked it.  I think I ended up with 4 tsp of garlic, because garlic is da-bomb.  I also added some cilantro, paprika, and pepper.  Then Speed Racer came in and added several tablespoons of hot sauce...he loves his with some kick.

Stir in tomatoes and chicken broth, and let simmer until soup reaches desired temp.

While your soup is simmering, get your fixin's ready.  Do not go without the avocado, I believe very firmly that the avocado makes it.  I'll know if you eat this without avocado...I'm and Santa.  Think about it.

Finally, FINALLY!  Ladle this deliciousness into bowls.  I like to put my cheese and tortilla chips in the bottom of the bowl so it gets all gooey quick.  Then top it with the sour cream and avocado.

And there you have it, Chicken Tortilla Soup for a chilly night.  Hope this warms you up!

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As the holiday season rushes at me with hurricane wind force, I find myself a little dazed.  I woke up the other morning completely stunned that it was November.  Wasn't it just May?  Wasn't it just sunny?  Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays.  I love getting together with family, decorations, food, and of course we have discussed my addiction to presents.  But right now when all the planning lies ahead, it's a bit overwhelming. I started this tradition about two years ago and I really find it a joy.  I keep a white board in my kitchen, so I can list, plan, put up recipes, figure out menus, etc to my hearts content.  But from now until Thanksgiving, and possibly until Christmas, I work on filling it with things I am thankful for.  A lot of times Speed Racer and I fill this out together, just adding something here and there as it strikes us.  It helps me refocus on what is important and how blessed we are for every little thing in our lives.  I challenge you to create your own thankful list, whether it's on a white board, pieces of scrap paper, or even toilet paper...just as long as you're keeping track.  Try to put up one thing everyday, even on the bad days.  You'll be amazed how it changes your mood when you look at the board at the end.

P.S. Please excuse the plaid wallpaper.  I am thankful that we are about 90% wallpaper free at this point in our house...I'm going to get you kitchen and bathroom wallpaper, just you wait.

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