Sunday, January 31, 2010

12 - Fedora

This morning our church had an early dedication for our new adult ministry center. For the past year we've been revamping an old abandoned warehouse across the street. It's pretty exciting to see how much it's changed, and it'll be great to see it finished and in use - hopefully by March!

As you can see, Caleb and Jose are pretty excited about the center, too. Jose is one of our neighbors from our old block (2 blocks up from where we live now), and he rocks a fedora better than almost anyone else I know.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

11 - Small World

I don't know if you know... but Josh and I really love board games. And by really, I mean really. At our wedding, our tables didn't have numbers - they were themed after various board games. Our immediate families sat at the Killer Bunnies table. Our Philly friends were at the Arkham Horror table. Friends from my mom's job at an engineering company sat at the Power Grid table. I've also written a few reviews of some of our favorites, and plan on doing many more. 

So, I'm not kidding when I say we really love board games. We love to play together (it's not unusual for that to be one of our date night activities) and we also definitely love to play with friends. Because of fixing up our house and moving, it's been a couple months since we've had a big game night at our place (maybe 10-15 people with multiple games going). However, we've had a few people over here and there for some fun. Tonight, we got to introduce Katharine & Ted to Small World. 
Most of my time was spent actually playing the game (it's quite a good one), but I caught Ted studying the cheat sheet for tips on his Heroic Amazons. He took it very seriously, as you can tell. Katharine was having a bit more fun as she checked out her Wealthy Wizards.

Then we played a bit.

And, Jack decided to show that, true to its name, it's a small world - with room for one only (don't forget, our cats love small places/boxes)...

The tag line for Small World is great. When you first see it, you think it says, "It's a world of laughter, after all!"  Then you look closer, and see there's a blood red 'S' in front, so it actually reads, "It's a world of slaughter, after all!"  Hopefully I'll get to do a review of it soon. =) 

Friday, January 29, 2010

10 - Color

I may work in an elementary school. I may love it. And I just may get to color from time to time as part of my job.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

9 - Afternoon View

It's been a pretty long week. Not necessarily in the exhausting way, just the full way. I've been doing ok with keeping up with pictures, but today's photo comes at you compliments of my office chair. Because that's where I've been since early this morning and that's where I'll be for quite a few more hours. Then I'll go home and the natural light will be gone, photos will be harder, and I might be freaking out about not having anything posted (but just a little bit, don't worry). So, a picture has been taken. Here's the view from where I'm sitting. How about you?

Oh, and no, I haven't turned into a coffee drinker. It's just a mug of hot chocolate to get me through the afternoon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

8 - Traveler

Seen: Philadelphia, PA  (on the streets of University City)
Carrying: Williamsport, PA  (Valley Farms)
From: Maine  (Ride Safe)

I wonder where he's heading next?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

7 - Rainy Day at Hogwarts

Yesterday was a very, very rainy day in Philadelphia. From the moment my alarm went off, it was a struggle to get myself up and at it. I was so warm and cozy, snuggled beneath the cocoon of my covers. It was a day that called for sleeping in, getting up to a lazy breakfast of pancakes or crepes, making hot cocoa and curling up on the couch with a few good books, staying in pajamas all day long, making tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for a late lunch/early dinner, and then watching a movie of far-away fantasy as raindrops drip and ping against the windows and roof.

However, there's this thing called work...... meaning I couldn't do any of those rainy day activities. Not even the far-away fantastical movie, since we had a board meeting and I didn't get home until about 11pm. But, I did get to snap this shot from my office window. Our school was originally a church, built sometime in the late 1800s. The architecture is beautiful and I do indeed look out the window to this fairy-tale tower. It reminds me a bit of Hogwarts (I hope that's ok, given that it used to be a church), and, on a very rainy day when you'd rather be snuggled up at home, that makes things just a tiny bit better a just a tiny bit more magical.

Monday, January 25, 2010

6 - IKEA Puppetry

I don't know about you, but part of setting up any new house for me (since I've lived in 8 different places over the past 8 years) is taking an IKEA run. Or two. Or five. Let's face it - I just love IKEA. It's definitely one of my happy places.

So, we went to IKEA for a bookcase for the study, and as we were walking, one of Josh's friends called him. We paused for a moment, and happened to be beside a bin of blankets that also had this little friend thrown in. Some people might say he was lost... I personally think he was on an adventure of the grandest kind - because who wouldn't want to explore a place like IKEA?! Josh enjoyed taking the moment to have him say hello to me.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

5 - Tricked Ted

Last night, our friends/neighbors, Ted and Katharine, hosted a birthday bash in honor of Ted's upcoming 25th birthday (which is actually tomorrow - his golden birthday). A few highlights of the party included:
  • Phenomenal Indian food (compliments of Katharine)
  • The gift vase (donations "to" Ted for an organization in Haiti that he will be visiting next month on a trip with his law school)
  • A big batch of chai (made by me, but recipe credits (which is what it's all about) go to Devin and his Indian host parents)
  • Guests ranging from (at least) 7 different countries and spanning a good 4 decades (and you know some good conversation came from that)
But perhaps one of the most entertaining moments was when Katharine brought out the cupcakes and we sang to Ted... and he tried to blow out the candles. Poor Ted. He got tricked, and as you can see from this picture, he was quite (good-naturedly) upset about it. I think this was his 3rd go at the candles...

And in case you're wondering, no, he couldn't actually blow them out. Katharine got a few to stay out on her first attempt, which only infuriated Ted more (again, good-naturedly), so he ended up going over to the sink and sending the trickster candles to a very watery death.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

4 - Jack in the Box

So, remember how the launch date for this project was a bit delayed due to waiting for internet at our house? It was supposed to start this past Tuesday... but, after many failed attempts, numerous calls to tech support, and three visits by Verizon people out to our house, we finally got it up and running about 11pm last night. Which means that this morning, Josh and I, who haven't had consistent internet at our house for about 3 months, have been sitting in the study, him on the desktop, me on the laptop. We've been catching up on news, social networking (because we both all-but-disappeared), organizing documents, and just hanging out.

Now, there's this thing that happens in our house... wherever we are, there our cats must be, also. Our cats (or kittens as I refer to them, though they're both fully grown at this point) are not your typical felines. They play fetch, follow us around everywhere, come when we call, love each other to death (they're constantly curled up with each other, and if they're not in the same room we think something's wrong), and are so friendly that we have to warn first-time visitors to our house that they'll likely get a number of lap visits during their time in our home.

Since we've been in the study all morning, naturally, so have Jack (short for Captain Jack Sparrow) and Mizu. Our kittens also have a great fondness for being in boxes and resting on top of the radiator. So, for the past two hours, they've been doing both. First Mizu got in, then she got out and Jack got in, then they switched again (Mizu's still in there - Jack is right next to her on the radiator). Here are a few shots of our beloved little kittens...

Jack first (since the title is "Jack in the Box", after all):

Now Mizu:

Man, it's ridiculous how much I love these two - I will readily admit it. They are so our children. =)

Friday, January 22, 2010

3 - Treasure Down the Drain

I have a confession to make: I don't think I'm going to end up posting all of my photos on the exact date they were taken... but I do think I'll be posting them within 24 hours of taking them. Make sense?

Basically, I'm really excited to post and will probably generally try to post in the morning. It's just part of my semi-obsessive planning personality. So, some photos will actually be taken the day of, but some may be within 24 hours (I actually took this one yesterday afternoon). But, it's 24 hours. Still technically a day. So I'm calling it ok.

I found this during my very late lunch walk yesterday (about 2:45pm). Treasure, simply tumbling down the drain...

P.S. Thanks for the support so far for Jacob's Haiti project... he's willing to work on this for some time to come! They make great presents, too - wouldn't you want to receive a gift and know that it was a part of something much bigger - that it was having a significant impact in people's lives? =)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2 - Hats & Scarves for Haiti

My little brother, Jacob, is working on a pretty cool project. He's currently knitting hats and scarves, then selling them and donating all the proceeds towards Haiti relief efforts. Since Sunday, he's raised $625! But, it gets better. He's donating all the money to the LCMS World Relief fund, and the donation will be matched by Thrivent Financial: $1 for every $2 he puts in.
So, $625 + $312 = $937 for Haiti. 

But, it gets even better yet! He is currently taking orders (hat, scarf, color, length, etc), and he is shipping across the US. Which means you, too, can help! Oh, and did I mention that he's a freshmen in high school?! 

Today's photos are a compilation of pictures of the scarf Jacob made for me as one of my Christmas presents (and yes, I did take them all). He also made scarves for each of my sisters, my mom, my aunt, my cousin, and my grandparents... and we all love them.

It's all very quality work, and the material he uses is super soft and toasty warm! I always get compliments when I wear it - which has been quite a bit since Christmas...

Some of you may know this, but I actually spent portions of two summers ('02 and '03) doing mission work in Port-au-Prince. We worked with Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and our main projects were running VBS for the kids, doing construction on the church/school (which has now sustained major damage), setting up a feeding program ($30 feeds a school child for an entire year), and building relationships and encouraging our Haitian friends as they work tirelessly to help their people.  

The churches in Haiti have long been the main "relief workers", and quite honestly, I believe that they are the ones who are in the best position to help from this point on. Obviously, the majority of the pastors and workers are Haitian, and they are established and recognized organizations. Beyond that, the pastors and church members know the people, know the neighborhoods, know the greatest needs, and know what needs to happen in the future. Giving through LCMS will provide tremendous resources that will be very well used - for immediate relief and sustainable recovery and rebuilding efforts.

If you are interested in helping Haiti by purchasing one of Jacob's hats and/or scarves, please leave a comment, email me, or contact Jacob directly at:
hatsandscarvesforhaiti (at) gmail (dot) com

Sorry for spelling it out - it's to try and block spammers (they're pretty awful these days). Checks can be made out to "LCMS World Relief" and are 100% tax-deductible. Thank you for your support!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1 - Home

So, I have to admit. Yesterday I started getting really nervous. I was thinking about how I'm starting this new project, and it's all about photography and art and creative expression, and whatever my first photo is, it should be impressive, right? Or super meaningful. Or deeply thought-provoking. Or amazingly beautiful. Or... or... or...  The doubts just started piling up, thick and fast.

But then, I took a step back, and remembered that this is just the beginning. I'm just starting out. And this is meant to be an exciting, creative, uplifting project filled with lots of freedom and lots of fun. I'm sure there will be times when I plan out posts in advance, but there will be many times when I don't. I'm sure I'll have some great photos, but there will also probably be many ordinary ones. And that's how life tends to be, too. Up and down, in and out, hit and miss. It's what you do with it all that matters, right? I've always liked the quote from Thomas Edison when asked how it felt to "fail" 1,000 times as he worked to invent the light bulb:

"You misunderstand. I did not fail 1,000 times. I successfully
found 1,000 ways that the light bulb would not work."

I just need to relax, give myself some breathing room, and go enjoy it.  So, with that said, here's photo #1 - a view of our new house and block. Ours is the first full porch you see, with Josh sticking his head out the door and the paneling still out front, leaning against the rail. (Our neighbor, Jose, who lives on our old block (meaning 2 blocks away) insists he's going to take it and use it.) Oh, and yup, today's trash day, too - there's not normally that much trash lying around!  =)

Welcome to Hunting Park!  

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Introducing.... Miah!!

About a week ago as I was starting to get this project into motion, I was talking with one of my dear friends and old college roommates, Miah. I was sharing my ideas for this, and she decided to jump in on it with me! Miah is one of the most encouraging people I know and I am SO EXCITED to have her doing this project with me!

Miah currently resides in Dallas, but she has literally traveled the world over. She came back from 2 years in China just in time for my wedding (well, it was Josh's, too, but you know what I mean), and I have small tokens of her world's travels scattered throughout my life: a bag/purse from Tanzania, artwork from China, a beautiful bright orange scarf from Europe (which I'm actually wearing right now!)... amongst other things! As she has traveled the world, Miah has taken pictures, journaled, and blogged (when able, of course). She's also done some journalism work writing travel tips and advice, but I'm so excited that she's going to be digging into her photojournalistic side this time around.

It will be great to have someone to hold me "accountable" and work to stay on track with, but who also gets the giving grace side of things, too. I'm excited to come up with various themes, and see what pops up on each of our sites. (We may use the themes from the actual 365 Project site, or just come up with our own. Feel free to send your ideas along, too!) If you ever want to join in on the project with your own site, we'd love it! You can even just join in for a day, a week, a month... you get the picture. =)

Miah's going to be posting her photos at Miahruth's Blog, so be sure to check out her photos each day, too!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Details

So, you might have noticed that even though I wrote my first entry and shared about this blog a few days ago, there aren't any photos up yet. And it's supposed to be a blog where I put up a photo a day. Seems kind of fishy, doesn't it?

Well, here's the official update.

Since Josh and I have lived in our new house approximately two weeks now, we're still getting ourselves all situated and oriented and unpacked and dealing with important new homeowner issues like "WHY DO WE HAVE A $540 GAS BILL?!" (Over at that other site I blog on sometimes.)

Needless to say, we don't have internet access at our house yet. When we do get service, it's because some neighbor doesn't have a protected account, so we mooch off of them for about 5 minutes, and then the connection's gone. And nonexistent/highly unreliable internet connectivity makes for a very difficult time when attempting to upload pictures. Know what I mean?

But there's good news! We've received our supplies from Verizon, and they're coming out to hook us up on Tuesday. So, I think this coming Wednesday, January 20th, sounds like a perfect launch date. (I'm a little bit of a numbers nerd, and I like to start things on nice dates. And January 20th is a nice date. Just in case you were wondering.)

Hope to see you then!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Beginning

So, it all starts here!

Welcome to my 365 Project - a year of taking photos each and every day.

I know it's not technically New Year's anymore, but this project is a part of one of my resolutions for this year. Actually, I don't really feel comfortable calling what I did this year "resolutions"... they're more like goals and hopes that have come out of an intense period of quiet reflection. And they're not absolute courses with a regimented plan that I must follow. It's more that I've decided upon some paths that interest me, and that I'll follow as I can, allowing myself to amble leisurely as well as run, and extending forgiveness and gentleness to myself when I need it.

Last year (2009) was a pretty rock-bottom year for me in terms of creative outlets. And by that, I mean that I basically didn't have any - and didn't feel like I had the energy or time to create them. As someone who has always had ways to express myself creatively, especially through theatre, music, writing, and photography, I felt pretty dreary about the rest of life without those outlets. I was just down in the dumps. Funny how it all connects, isn't it? Granted, there were other issues that contributed to my despair, but I think a large part of my weariness last year (because my heart was just plain tired) was that I didn't have any way to process the "other stuff" going on. It just kept building up, and building up, and building up.... and then dragging, and dragging, and dragging me down.

But that's going to change.

For a few years now I've been wanting a digital SLR camera (DSLR). And by wanting, I mean drooling over. I had started saving up for one, but then I got married... and you know how that works. Suddenly "your" money isn't really yours anymore, and, well, there are more important and pressing things that that money gets to be used for. Like food. And rent. And toilet paper.

But! My dream came true last August when Josh (my husband) got my family and a few friends to all pitch in together for my "birthday" gift (it was also our anniversary gift and his own birthday present - he's so good to me) and they all gave me my first DSLR. I love it!

However, this is where that "no creative outlets in 2009" comes into play.

I LOVE my camera and take it practically everywhere. But since I received it, I've really only taken pictures for those somewhat "special" kinds of events... someone coming to visit, birthday parties, holiday gatherings with family, bridal showers, etc. While those are obviously pretty fun, I haven't spent as much time as I'd like intentionally working to become a better photographer. I'm often simply working to get the best shot I can - perhaps playing it safe with what I'm pretty sure will work, as opposed to fiddling with various camera settings or experimenting with the lighting. There really hasn't been much risk taking, and without risks, you don't really discover much. Instead of creating, it's been more just doing.

Enter this project.

Back in December I entered myself as an applicant for the SOAR! Scholarship. The Scholarship is intended to help women get their photography business off the ground by providing intense coaching, mentoring, equipment, and tools. (You can see my video here - I'm #235 on page 3 of the 2009 Applicants.) While I didn't receive one of this year's three scholarships, it really got me thinking about some of the "What ifs?" in my life. For the first time in a long time, I started thinking about possibilities I'd said no to, and tapping into some of my dreams, and wondering what might happen if I actually said yes to some of those.

While I am, of course, disappointed that I wasn't a recipient, I know that I don't have to worry, either. The timing is all in God's hands. Creating my video and submiting my application got me thinking specifically about what photography means to me, and how it can be manifested in my life NOW - as a creative outlet, as a source of joy, and as a way of giving to others, too. Even though I'm still working in education full-time, even though I've committed to living and working in the inner-city, even though there are a number of other things that "kept" me from doing this before... how can I use this gift to serve others, and also be built up myself right now? Thinking through those thoughts, submitting my video, and receiving a HUGE outpouring of support from family and friends has really given me a big push in getting out the door. I'm not quite sure where I'm going or how I'll get there, but I at least want to get started on the journey.

The 365 Project is actually an international project/organization that people usually start on January 1st and post directly to the 365 Project site. But I'm starting it now and I'm doing it a little differently by just posting directly to this blog. The idea and goal is to take and post at least one photo each day. I could probably get quite technical and legalistic and ALWAYS! WANT! TO POST! EXACTLY! ON! TIME!, but I'm going to let myself relax a little bit, do my best to stay on schedule, and just keep going when I fall behind (this is where that grace and gentleness come in). I have no idea what I'll be photographing... especially since I work during the day when it's actually light outside. But I guess I'll just have to get creative, maybe start taking some walks after lunch, and just find what I find.

Regardless of the exact details, I know one thing for sure: it's time for me to take the next step with photography. More importantly, it's time for me to allow myself to be creative again, and to play. Maybe I'll go fast, maybe I'll go slow, and maybe I'll do my typical sprint-walk style. But really, I just need to GO. I need to run and to discover, to laugh and to fall, to crawl and to cry, to climb and to soar. I need to return to a place where I give myself the freedom to explore these great gifts God's given me, to revel in the challenges of growing and changing and expressing, and to dance in the hard and wonderful beauty of life. 

I simply need to give this dream a try and see what happens.

So, thank you deeply for the support you've given me so far (since many of you reading this were those who knew about the SOAR! Scholarship), and I invite you to join in on the rest of this journey and see where it goes!

If you're interested in joining in with your own 365 Project, just leave a comment with a link to your blog, or email me and let me know!

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