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Friday, April 29, 2011

Light of my Life!

This week at Jessica Sprague, we given a creative assignment with the theme of "Light of My Life" and were challenged to use backlighting. Grace is definitely a light of my life! I don't know what I'd do without her.... she's an amazing girl (well, pre-teen). She had just got her hair cut and the sun was shining so beautiful today, it fit perfect with this week's creative challenge!

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Amish Letter from "V"

I got a letter in the mail today from my sweet Amish friend, "V". I am always so excited when I find one in the mailbox because I always know they will be so delightful! I haven't seen her since January and I really need to go see her in the next couple of weeks! I miss her. She is so precious to me! I thought I'd photograph her letter for you all to see her beautiful writing and the envelopes are always "sealed with love"! Enjoy!!!

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April 26, 2011

Dear Shannon,

"Rainy Greetings"

How are you? Hope great. I'm find to my knowing.

This Tuesday evening about 9:00 I decided I'll seat myself for a silent visit with you. :)

Wow, we sure have had lots of rain these days. But it sure greens up everything. Am sure it delays the farmers for their crops but sure can be thankful tht we didn't have any terrible storms like some areas.

We've been busy this spring so far helping other people with spring cleaning, etc., besides our own spring cleaning.

Sunday us girls and our cousins went on a cruise and had a hot dog roast in the evening. We also babysat little "M" on Sunday as East District Church had council meeting and that makes for a long day. So he was here and what a cute little guy he is.... his eyes are just turning kinda greenish or more hazel and he's had his first haircut at six months and he's now seven months and loves to come see his grandparents and his aunts. :) He gets around in his walker very well and acts so proud that he can run all over. :)

Well, it's bedtime so I'd better quit and hope to see you soon!

Love & Prayers,
A friend "V"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Portrait Photography

Thanks to my friend, Amy, for being a willing participant for me to practice portrait photography on. You are beautiful!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beautiful blossoms!

We have this beautiful tree right outside our front door that blooms these beautiful white blossoms every spring! And they don't last nearly long enough. Today we had some thunderstorms, tornado watches and lots of heavy rain... and afterwards, the raindrops on the blossoms were so sweet.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Walker!

I absolutely adore this kid! Meet Walker.... he is our friends Rick & Jamie's son. He looked so precious eating his blue push-up pop at the ballpark yesterday! I {heart} him!
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Butterflies!

I adore butterflies! Thought I'd share a couple more of my favorites from Frederik Meijer Gardens!
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Kalamazoo State Mental Hospital - Kalamazoo, Michigan

Apparently, what follows may be some forbidden photographs! Ooops! I'll tell you why in a second... But first, I have to tell you, I have such a fascination with state mental hospitals, especially the history of the treatment and the amazing Kirkbride architecture!!! So when Jeff and I went to Bell's on Saturday, I knew we were quite close to what is now called the Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital and I sweet-talked Jeff into driving that way so I could snap a few photos! From what I have read, almost all of the Kirkbride architecture was torn down at this facility and only a single water tower remains. The tower itself is very impressive, although you could only see the top. We assumed that it sets in the center of a courtyard surrounded by the hospital walls that you now see. So, I set off to find a picture of it online and sure enough I found a blog that linked to the Bing map of it. That beautiful tower is indeed nestled between all those brick walls. Anyways, then Jeff told me "You could have had your camera confiscated." and I, in a very confused voice" said "What in the world are you talking about?" Well this blog post mentions comments on a flickr photo saying it's apparently illegal to take photographs on the grounds of state psychiatric hospitals in the State of Michigan due to patient privacy, but the comments go on to say that you can indeed take photos but not of the patients. Really? Do you really have to tell someone that? I suppose some people do not have common sense when it comes to those things. So, is there a law or not? I did a Google search and tried to find it on the Michigan State government website, but didn't succeed. Anyways, I think I will call there and ask their take on it..... because there are two photos I can think of that I REALLY wanted but didn't get.... although I am not willing to knowingly break the law to get them. Ha! For now, I guess I will just treasure and appreciate the few photos I did get (even though it was extremely crappy weather)! Without further ado, the "forbidden" photographs.....

The front entrance with the water tower behind:
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Who visits for just 15 minutes? :) This sign was amazing and appeared to be very old. The black sign is tarnished and the white lettering is peeling.
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Go left to be admitted! :)
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Another view of the water tower:
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And I played around some PSE actions on this one.... kinda fun how it turned out. Almost eerie. Love the dirty sidewalk.
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Edited to add: The Kalamazoo Public Library has a local history section with some great photos of this hospital's history. You can view them here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bell's Brewery - Kalamazoo, Michigan

I love Oberon! It's a wonderful seasonal wheat beer that is made here in Michigan and sold from March through October. So it's VERY exciting when the end of March rolls around! :) Bell's brewery is only about an hour away in Kalamazoo, Michigan, so Jeff and I finally made a trip to visit it yesterday!! It was so much fun!! Bell's Brewery is in an amazing old building... so beautiful to photograph! According to the bartender, cameras are a very common site there! :)
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And then we decided to stop at one of our favorite brew pubs on the way back, Walldorff Brew Pub and Bistro, in Hastings, Michigan. They make a guacamole and hummus dip called guacahummus that is absolutely amazing! This, too, is in an old building. The bathrooms are downstairs and as you are going down the stairs, there are quotes painted all over the walls! I discovered a great one by Benjamin Franklin, so I had to go grab my camera to photograph it! :) I would say that Mr. Franklin is a very wise man! :)
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Friday, April 15, 2011

More Frederik Meijer Gardens

Love these little critters!
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And this makes me want to hike the desert!
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beautiful pink flowers!

At Frederik Meijer Gardens:
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Outside my front door - budding hyacinth.... true sign of spring!
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I can't believe he's almost 15!

Michael actually let me take a picture of him... he does NOT like his picture taken so this is a huge gift! I told him I wanted to practice focusing on his eyes (thus no smile) and he let me! :) I must say... he's turning into a mighty handsome young man!
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Super Thingmaker

You probably know by now, I love vintage things and reminiscing about the past. As a child, I remembered seeing a box up on a shelf that used to scare the poo outta me but I couldn't specifically remember what it was. In fact, I thought it was a game because it was on a shelf with other games. A few months ago, my sister, Sheena, and I were talking about some of the things we absolutely loved as a child. This is when we thought about the Super Thingmaker and Sheena told me that dad still had his!!! I then looked it up online and as soon as I saw the box, I knew instantly that the crazy fanged, one-eyed man on this box was the exact freaky thing that I remembered from so long ago! So, I asked Sheena to photograph dad's Super Thingmaker for me.... I can't believe dad still has most of the pieces and it's in such good condition!! I can't wait to see it with my own eyes again when we go back to Minnesota this summer! There were still pieces in the box that he had made way back then.... probably 30 years ago! I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do!

The box.... the exact box I laid my poor little frightened eyes on! See how scary he is??????
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A peek inside... Wow, huh?
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My dad's name made out of Picadoos
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A faux cut and stitches on Sheena's hand! :)
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Frederik Meijer Gardens Butterflies

I absolutely love seeing the butterflies at the annual FMG Butterfly Exhibit! It had been years since we've gone for school field trips (although it was Jeff's first time) so we decided to take the kids there last Friday morning. That place was a zoo so we didn't spend nearly as much time there as we wanted and I wasn't really able to photograph like I wanted to. I have a bunch of photos to go through yet, but here are a couple....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brownie & Cocoa too!

Not sure I really like this picture... I was playing with light settings, so I might take another one. But anyways, here's my Brownie!

And my other find yesterday was a vintage Hershey's cocoa tin. I remember these as a child, having to pry the lid off with spoon.... which was exactly what I did this morning! I knew this tin felt heavy but never did I imagine it being completely full. I'm pretty sure it's expired... :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What a beauty....

....too bad it was $375! Quite a bit over my budget for a vintage camera! :) It was on a beautiful wood tripod and everything! My heart pitter-pattered.
This vintage scrapbook was pretty sweet too!Grace and I had a great time antiquing today in Shipshewana, Indiana! I found an awesome Brownie camera and Hershey's cocoa tin (pictures to come)!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Book Report: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter GardenWinter Garden by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Winter Garden…. Wow. I cannot stop thinking about this book. I have had Kristin Hannah books on my to-be-read list for quite some time but never read one. On the recommendation of several people, I finally picked up Winter Garden. My only disappointment is that I didn’t read it earlier. While I kind-of felt the book started off slowly, I soon realized that all the detail and establishing family dynamics and characters was absolutely necessary. After about 100 pages or so, I found myself not able to put the book down and by the end, I was absolutely captivated. Last Saturday night, I laid reading in my bed and knew that I wouldn’t be going to sleep until I finished. At midnight, I laid there with tears streaming down my face, soaking my pillow on both sides of my head, while I finished this unforgettable story. It was probably at least another hour or so before I was able to fall asleep because I could not stop thinking about the story and the characters.

I am hugely fascinated and do a ton of reading on WWII and the holocaust but not once have I read anything from the Russian perspective. I found the history and siege on Leningrad heart-wrenching but absolutely amazing. During this time, men were required to leave their families to fight in the war which left behind the women and children. What these women and children went through was absolutely devastating. They lived on little food, cold winter conditions…. Many didn’t survive. This story is about a lady named Anya who grew up in Leningrad during this awful time. She now lives in America with her husband, Evan, and two daughters, Meredith and Nina. Anya, a very cold and almost rude lady, has been telling her daughters a fairy tale, which essentially is an abbreviated, watered-down version of her true life story. Anya spends a lot of time in her winter garden where it is frigid cold, which doesn’t seem to phase Anya. When Evan falls ill, he makes a dying wish and makes Nina promise to get Anya to tell them the entire fairytale…. all the way to the end. The book goes back and forth between modern day and Anya’s life back in Leningrad…… all the way to the end of the stories.

Although you may have to push through the first part of the book, you won’t be disappointed to read this, especially if you are a fan of WWII and/or historical-focused fiction. Lately, I have been reading some great books….. and it takes a lot for me to rate high enough to be a favorite, but this book is definitely made that list.

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