"Quit hanging on to the handrails... Let go. Surrender. Go for the ride of your life. Do it everyday"

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Pictures

I hardly ever write down New Year's resolutions, mostly because by about February they've all been blown.  I prefer to have New Year's goals - something to strive for but not get so caught up in having to do them.  On that note I did not have any resolutions for 2012, but went with the flow and ended up with some fun times this year.  Below is my list of Top 10 for 2012(in no particular order) and then my year in pictures and some "goals" for 2013.  At my heart I am a photographer and a traveler, so a year in pictures works a lot better for me then a huge blog post of words.  I hope you enjoy it and I hope that you will continue to join with me in 2013.

Top 10 for 2012
1.  Seeing the giant sequoia trees in California
2.  La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean - so beautiful
3.  The weddings that I was able to photograph(stressful but oh so fun)
4.  Hanging out with my husband on the shores of Lake Michigan
5.  Bike riding and seeing the beautiful fall colors with my son
6.  Spending time at the Omaha Zoo with my mom and son
7.  The gorgeous spring flowers that we had in March due to our lack of winter and early spring
8.  Being able to work with local youth at my church and to teach them about God
9.  Hanging out with new friends that became like family and welcoming a new little girl into that family
10.  The love of my family and friends
My Year in Pictures!
was about my son's birthday and eagles!

Such beautiful birds.
This was as close as we could get to wild eagles this year.  The people from St. Louis' World Bird Sanctuary did a great job talking to us about these beautiful birds.  Unfortunately because of our mild winter, eagle watching was not very good this year.  Even so we enjoyed our day trip to Eagle Days in Clarksville MO.
I had no pictures from February that I could post.  Apparently February was a go nowhere, do nothing, chill at home month haha.

 was all about the flowers and our early spring.
I love the mood of this picture.
Magnolia tree at a local park by us.  I loved being able to get out and capture the flowers.

Close up of a magnolia blossom.  So pretty!

was our trip to the Omaha Zoo and bridges 
The non-colored pencil shot of the bridge.
We stopped in Winterset Iowa to see the Bridges of Madison County and where John Wayne was born.  It was a beautiful spring day.
This was a cool looking jellyfish we saw at the zoo and aquarium

My son and I had some fun playing in the exhibits at the zoo, very hands on and fun for the kids

California here we come, Pacific Ocean and beaches!  And giant sequoias!
 I think I'm going to take a picture like this at all beaches I go to haha.  This was at La Jolla Beach close to Children's beach

 One of my absolute FAVORITE pictures of the year.  My son took it and I just love how he captured the waves crashing up behind me.  So Pacific Ocean and just awesome!

My son and I on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.  A kind stranger took this picture of us.  We had such fun climbing along the rocks and peering over the edge into the ocean.  I also just love the sea lions behind us.

Look at the size of those sequoia trees!  Such an amazing thing that God made for us to enjoy.  These are some of the largest and oldest trees in the entire world!!  We had a great stop at both Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks.  So excited to be able to add those to my list of National Parks that I want to visit!  It was so great that my dad could come with us.

I just love how this kind of shows you just how big these trees can get!  And the fact that they can grow and get enough nutrition in these groves is a testament to God as well.

was a stay at home month, VBS and local hanging out
The kids were collecting seashells(yes we have seashells haha) on the Mississippi River for our VBS science experiments.

A local, small waterfall at a cute little town park in Iowa

my husband and I got lost on the Michigan shoreline and fireworks!!

4th of July Fireworks over the Mississippi River

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore-Michigan.  The dunes were so huge and the water just so blue.  You could run down the dunes and then peer over the edge into the lake, just don't run too fast or you will end up in the lake haha.

Ludington Michigan sunset and lighthouse.  Just gorgeous colors!
was a return to school and a semi normal schedule
A pretty butterfly I spotted at a local butterfly garden

This was at the Villages of Van Buren in Iowa, which are a grouping of several cute small towns of German descent along the shores of the Missouri River

was a rodeo and walks through the park

Ok so call me crazy but I just like this picture with the way the sunlight is shining down.  I do.  My family has a tradition of log walking in the woods and that is what my brother, my son and myself were doing this day.

Just a cool looking spiderweb I took for a Photo Scavenger Hunt I was doing.

Rodeo time!  I enjoy watching the cowboys handle those broncs and bulls or get thrown haha.  Fun!
fall colors galore, a trip up Great River Road and a wedding
Minehaha State Park in Minneapolis, MN
Minehaha State Park in Minneapolis Minnesota.  We had a great time bike riding around the park and taking pictures with all the gorgeous fall colors that we saw.  But it was quite the experience, let me tell you.
Pikes Peak State Park in Iowa, a beautiful park and a fun hiking trail

A wedding that I did in October.  Beautiful! 
some weddings and the last of the fall colors
wedding decorations

last of the fall colors

more wedding decorations
all about the Christmas lights!
I like to go to different places to see Christmas lights, this year it was in East Peoria.  Very cool light drive thru

This was the Enchanted Forest in Iowa, a walk thru light display in a town park
So there you have it, my 2012 in pictures!  We had some great times this year and got to do some neat things.  I'm hoping our next year will be even better!!  A quick list of "goals" for next year.
2013 Goals List
 - I want to be a traveler each month to a new spot, even if it's just around town
- To spend more quality time with my husband and son
- Learn a little self defense
- Take my first solo road trip(I have this goal every year and still haven't done it yet)  I go places with just my son and I, but never by myself(at least not any kind of distance - driving up to visit family in the city doesn't count :)!)
- I have a few trips in mind that I want to go on
- Continue refining and practicing my photography
- Try to get more involved in blogging and meeting new people through that
- More weddings and professional photography!!
Have a safe New Year and a blessed 2013!! 
This post is linked to Photo Friday on Delicious Baby

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Road Trip Tale: Meeting a Fellow Great River Road Traveler

I think I will say this everytime I have one of these tales.  I absolutely LOVE the great people I meet while traveling solo or semi-solo.  So many people that make my life richer and of which I would be less blessed had I not met them.  This tale goes back to my October Fall Colors trip up Great River Road. 

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness

5 Ways to Get You Into a Thankfulness Mood

Tucked in between Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle of the craziness of life.  It's hard to get excited about a holiday that doesn't have crazy costumes or presents and the Christmas season just keeps starting earlier and earlier.  I even saw Christmas stuff all mixed up with Halloween decorations this year.  Somehow nativity scenes standing next to witch and sorcerer costumes just strikes me as wrong.  It's too bad to because Thanksgiving is what a celebration should be.  Lots and lots of delicious food and talking about how thankful you are for the good things in your life.  I know the craziness that comes with the shopping, food preparation and cooking can be so stressful.  It seems like you just don't get a chance to sit and enjoy the day. 

My challenge to you is to figure out some way to sit and be still and be thankful for what you do have, sometime during this month.  Below is a list of 5 ideas to help you get started.  Not all of these are the sitting down kind of ideas because honestly I don't do that very well.  The idea though is to focus your thoughts on thankfulness and not stress.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wanderlust Wednesday - Minehaha State Park

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Children's Beach - La Jolla California

I LOVE the California coastline.  It's so different from the east coast, so much wilder and less tame.  It calls to me, the wild untameness of it.  On my trip in May to California I drove along the coastline from San Diego on up to just north of LA.  I wish I could have gone further, but time was not with me.  Even so, I was able to see some of that marvelous untameness. 

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wanderlust Wednesday - Missouri Ozarks

This was a picture that was taken in the Missouri Ozarks at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.  It's a natural spring and it had such beautiful water coloring to it.  The water was just crystal clear.  You can see in the picture the plants and such that were under the water.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Road Trip Tale - Albino Squirrel

Have you ever seen an albino squirrel before?  I never would have thought I would see one because I think albino animals just have a very high mortality rate.  But on our most recent road trip up to Minneapolis via the Great River Road, my son spotted one at Minehaha Park in Minneapolis.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wanderlust Wedneday - Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park, found in south western Colorado, not too far from Durango Colorado is a fascinating place to go and see.  This is a National Park, not based on it's unique and beautiful natural places, but for it's historical importance.  One of the few National Parks to do this.  Check out more of my trips by clicking on the picture.

This is what is called the Tower House and it is one of many, many ruins from a group of native Americans called the Pueblo people.  It is a fascinating place to walk around and to see how these people lived from about AD 600-1300.  These are some of the best preserved ruins.  Most of the ruins are viewable only with a ranger guided tour, but a few are open for self-guided tours.  You can check the schedule here

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flame Cupcakes

I don't consider this blog to be a foodie blog in anyway, nor do I write about the different recipes that I try and post them, normally.  But today is not a normal day (well I'm not a normal person anyway, so this should be no big surprise haha).  Today I share with you my first recipe post.
I have this obsession with cupcakes.  I scour the blogs trying to find cool, new cupcake recipes.  I guess it is because they are so much easier to share then cake is and I really LOVE cake, but I really can't eat a lot of cake (ok so I can, but my hips and thighs tell me no) so I have to share.  Lucky for me I have found several ways in which to share my obsession.  One of these ways is through my Youth Group at church.  I teach 4th-7th graders every Wednesday night and guess what?  They all like food!  Especially since I have a lot of boys and those of you who have boys know exactly what I am talking about :)  Yay!  Cupcakes to the rescue!
This Wednesday we are going to be talking about Moses and the Burning Bush and I was trying to figure out what snack I could bring specifically pertaining to that.  My mind immediately went to fire and flames, which brought me to... Flame Cupcakes!

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome Fall!

Today is the first day of fall.  Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year.  It's the season of crisp, cool nights, hoodies and jeans, football, beautifully sunny days wih the bluest skies of the year.  It's the time of year for hot apple cider with a close friend.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wanderlust Wednesday - Grand Canyon

Yep I know I am a day late.  I had planned to get this posted yesterday, but it just didn't happen.  One word I use to describe the Grand Canyon and it is AWE!! 

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lacey Keosauqua State Park

My birthday was this past weekend and it was a fun-filled, jam-packed weekend.  I think I did something everyday from about Thursday on until Tuesday.  I am just so blessed to have family and friends that want to celebrate my birthday with me.  This year I felt on the old side, I have to admit.  Life is just moving way too fast for me.  I've been trying to slow it down, but it just doesn't work haha.  I did stop to enjoy nature on Saturday though.  We were walking thru the woods and the sunlight was just hitting these spiderwebs beautifully, to where they were just glittering.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fall Photo Scavenger Hunt Picture 1

Fall is coming!  Don't forget to check out my Fall Photo Scavenger Hunt, find me on Pinterest and let me know you are interested so I can add you to my board so I can see your pictures.  Looking forward to a fun scavenger hunt this fall season.  I was able to post my first picture of the scavenger hunt today.
Butterfly in a park

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fall Photo Scavenger Hunt

Yep, it is almost fall here in the midwest and I can't wait!  Yes I know we still have several warm, summery days ahead of us, but it's coming, soon!  In fact The Foliage Network, which tracks where you can catch fall foliage had it's first post today.  I am hoping to be able to get out and about with my camera several times this season to catch the color.  To help me with that, I am so excited to show you all my Fall Photo Scavenger Hunt!!  This is to help you get some ideas about how to capture those fall colors and to hopefully challenge some of you (and myself) to get out and play with those cameras!  High end cameras, point and shoot, cell phone cameras, it doesn't matter.  I want to see them all :)!

I did a scavenger hunt similar to this in May, you can read about that one here.  My Fall one will be very similar to that one with one BIG difference.  Instead of only giving you a month to go out and take those shots, I am giving you until the day after Thanksgiving to do it.  That should hopefully help people to feel less overwhelmed and have more fun.  Also it will cover just about the entire Fall Season.  I am so excited and I hope you will join me. 

Go to the link here to download a printable copy of the Fall Photo Scavenger Hunt for you to keep on hand.  Don't forget to...
A.  Join Pinterest if you have not already done so.
B.  Go to MY Pinterest page here and Follow Me
C.  Let me know who you are so I can Follow YOU and allow you to "pin" your pictures to the Fall Photo Scavenger Hunt board.
D.  Have LOTS and LOTS of fun getting those beautiful Fall pictures!
E.  Like my page on Facebook so you can follow me and the others.

I really want to have this be as interactive as possible so please join with me.  Everything is for free and there are no catches that I am aware of on Pinterest or Facebook.  Remember if you do not believe in or like the Halloween ideas or don't get Fall in your area (sadness) then just change them out with your own ideas.  Just make sure to let us know when you "post" or "pin".

Go Out And Have Some Fun!!!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Puppy Tails - I'm Supposed to Share... Really?

So some of you know that I also raise Siberian Huskies, as one of the many, many hats that I wear, haha.  I could probably fill many, many posts with stories from my puppies and all their crazy and cute antics.  I wrote one about my boy Nanook here awhile back, and today I am going to tell a cute story about the two puppies that I have left from my last litter.  Here they are in all their adorableness...
In this shot, taken a couple of weeks ago, they are fighting over something.  They are ALWAYS fighting over something, haha, as the following story will show.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wanderlust Wednesday - Oak Creek Canyon Arizona

I love to travel America's byways and I try to look for scenic routes on any trips that I take whether they be mini-trips or more major road trips.  One of the more breathtaking scenic routes is Oak Creek Canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff, closer to the Sedona side.

This is actually a very short route, only around 30 miles but the ride is breathtaking!  You descend about 2000 feet in those 30 miles. The drive is exceptionally curvy so you need to be very careful about your speed and if you are the unlucky one who is driving, be careful your eyes don't stray too often towards the sights.  I did not see too many areas where you could pull off so just enjoy the ride.  We were there in August, (awfully hot), so hiking was not on the top of our list, but do make sure that you stop at Sliding Rock State Park.  There is a naturally occuring rock slide that you and the kiddos can slide down to cool off on a blistering hot day.  Cars were lined up along side the road and the lines were horrid when we were there, so we didn't stop.  We couldn't even find a place to park haha.  Although sometimes I wish we had.  I bet the drive in the fall would be gorgeous!  This drive is ranked one of the top for sure in the state of Arizona and one of the top in our nation so it is well worth the drive and a "must see" if you are ever in the area.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

End of Summer Woes.... Not Necessarily...

Summer is coming to an end around these parts.  My son will be starting back at school on Monday, which means I can get back to what I do.  I had great plans this summer of blogging and writing, but my plans didn't work out so well.  Are your summers crazy???  Or is it just mine??  I always run out of time way too soon.  As summer comes to a close, our days of doing this....
La Jolla Beach, California

Or this...

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Friday, June 15, 2012

A Traveling Tribute to My Dad

Father's Day is coming up and while I was planning on attempting to post some of my California pictures I realized that I needed to do a tribute to the guy in my life who led me to my love of travel and my wanderlust. 

We have been a traveling family for as long as I can remember.  My brother and I used to take off in the summer in our grandparents camper and travel all around the midwest.  There are stories from my grandfather about criss crossing the USA via railroad and my dad hitchhiking cross country.  I hope to continue the trend with a cross country drive someday.  My father's own love of traveling, encouraged me to embrace my own love of traveling and I haven't looked back. 
My dad in the Badlands circa 1970's maybe
Somewhere there is a picture of my brother Chad at this same spot and I hope to get a picture of my son there and one of me as well.  Traveling is one of the ways we can connect as a family.  Traveling bonds our family together because it is a way to get away from it all and just enjoy each other without all the distractions. 
Dad and I in Black Hills, SD around 1991
My husband farms so being able to "get away" from work is important because his job is really at our house so it is hard to walk away from that in the evening.  I remember my dad telling me how important it is to travel as a family together and I try to do that every year.  This year my son and I went to visit my dad out in California and we were able to spend some time traveling together.
Dad and I at Sequoia National Park - May 2012
Thank you dad for your gift (maybe curse haha) of traveling.  I hope to be able to spend many more traveling times together with you dad.  Love you!
Dad posing in Colorado

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