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  • Freedom...

    They thought they were happy cows.  A roof over their heads and food on their table.

    But now the know freedom...

    And they really are happy cows.

    Now their world is larger and their food is fresher.

    And they came over to visit their neighbor.

    Yep, happy cows indeed.

  • Life gets in the way...

    I miss blogging.  I think of it oftern...as in "I really should blog."  But then another day slips away.  I really do miss it though.  Even if nobody reads it.  I'm fine with that.  Kind of like a diary.  Nothing too exciting.  Just my life and all the moments in it.  

    So my goal for June 1st - actually it's June 2nd - see how that happens - is to make an effort to blog a little more.  Sessions, life, pictures.  Everyday moments and thoughts.  Dreams and desires.  

    Here goes...again.  {I know I've typed these words many times before.}

    Let's start with the 2 little blessings that make my heart burst every day.  When I see them I smile, from ear to ear.  They are just the sweetest things ever.

    Just a couple pictures from Memorial Day.  A little afternoon cookout at the farm.  Uncle Wiz (Eric) and Daddy went to Rural King to get the girls a pool and they loved it.  

    Adorable huh?

    And for the record...being a grandma (Lolli) is the best.   I know some of you think being a mom is the best....you just wait!!  It gets so much better.

  • This week...

    Fall on the farm is busy.  But it's a good busy.

    My favorite time of year.

    We started harvesting soybeans around the home farm.

    This means lots of cooking and bakin for me.

    The family gets hungry.

    Karlie requested no bake cookies.  I have been making these forever.  Love them.

    The end of a productive day!  Warms my heart to see all the machinery lined up and to know that we take care of this land as a family working together.  

    The ladies are always walking around looking for someone who will throw them a handful of cracked corn.  If no one will, they head out into the yard to look for some bugs.

    Karlie even got into the tractor this week.  So I got to watch the girls.  

    Tough job but someone has to do it.

    These two have made our family even better.  Love them so much.  

  • Baby Shower

    I just thought I would share a few images from Karlie's baby shower last week.

    It was a beautiful evening.  Thanks to all who helped make this celebration very special.

    Love you all.

    We played a fun "guess the names" game.

    Used vintage blocks, milk glass vases, Golden Books, pictures and flowers to decorate the room.

    Jen Lyle made the delicious cakes and cupcakes.  She is an amazing baker.  

    A few of my awesome girlfriends!!

    My sister and her beautiful girls!!

    Karlie and her helpers.

    She received so many gifts.  Truly blessed.  Everything will help when these precious girls come home.  We can hardly wait.

  • Our time at the cabin...

    Another 4th of July spent at the cabin.  So happy to have Karlie and Dusty with us this year but we sure missed Melissa.  Hopefully next year we will all be down there.  All will include two more!!  I can't wait.

    We relaxed, cooked out and just enjoyed each other's company.  

  • Our Friday..

    ....always starts with a walk to the farmers market.

    It's one of my favorite things to do on the island.

    Fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Fresh baked breads.  Organic pasta and honey.

    Everything is just so colorful.  

    We usually come home with bananas, red potatoes, pickles or olives, strawberries, spinach, and fresh baked scones.  

  • Beach Cottage Kitchen

    We have been loving the beach lifestyle for almost 2 months now.

    This years project was to overhaul our little beach kitchen.

    We figured out that cheap cabinets don't work in ground level cottages when a hurricane hits.  When Hurricane Charley hit in 2004 we got water and sludge.  Roger got it cleaned out right away but the water soaked into the particle board cabinets and, over the years, it started to fall apart.

    So this was the year to fix it.  YEA!!!

    We decided on open cabinets built with wood.  Roger drew up the designs and we got to work.

    Here they are drying in the garage after the staining/poly process.

    We decided on three seperate pieces just incase we get another storm.  Easy to pull out and clean around.

    Demo day - it didn't take too long.

    Next step..SHIPLAP!!!

    We had to fix the wainscotting on the walls so we just put up 1x8's.  I was instantly in love.

    I painted the boards a lovely shade of moss/sage green.  I also just wanted open shelving on the walls.  

    We really don't have too many kitchen items for the two of us.  We eat light or go out to eat so we decided to keep things minumum down here.

    Here's the finished product!!! 

    Isn't it so pretty.  

    I painted the fridge.  It was starting to rust on the bottom from the water but it still worked.  I figured if I painted it we could get a couple more years out of it.

    It was super easy to do.  I just sanded it down a little bit on all sides.  Then I just rolled on 3 coats of semi gloss enamel.  It dried really fast and we had it back in place later that afternoon.

    I didn't have an area for my laptop so we carved out a little nook for me.

    I really loved filling the shelves in with the necessities....

    ...and the fun stuff.

    I am beyond happy with the way it came out.  Everything a imagined.  

    Nothing fancy...just our little beach cottage.  Perfect for us!!

    Hope you enjoyed seeing the transformation.

  • Happy Memorial Day/Weekend in Pictures

    Thank you!!

    (found on pinterest-wouldn't link to source)

    It has been a beautiful weekend here on the farm.  I have spent most of it outside.  

    Mowing, weeding, and watering the flowers.  

    Cleaning the chicken coop and setting up the outside run.  The ladies love it out there now.

    I was going to start documenting the weekends with photos taken with my big girl camera but you know how that goes sometimes.  I didn't take the time to go in the house so I just grabbed my iphone.  Good enough.  Maybe next weekend.

    Last night I finally got all the work done and decided to sit and relax.

    The boys are fishing so Boone has been my constant companion.

    I am really and earlybird anymore.  Up by 5 most mornings.  This morning was glorious so I grabbed my coffee and devotional and headed out on the front porch.

    I truly love watching the world wake up.

    And look who is right by my side.  I love this sweet boy.

    Happy Memorial Day to all of you.  I hope you enjoy your day...whatever you have planned.

    xo!!

  • Country Roads

    Sometimes a break from your routine is the very thing you need.

    So I grabbed my camera and we hopped in the truck.

    No destination in mind.

    Just a couple hours of riding, seeing, sharing and dreaming.

    And some great images to remember it by.

  • Weekend in Pictures

    In my quest to use my big girl camera more often, I captured some images of my weekend.

    I really enjoy taking care of these funny little creatures.  

    They sure make me laugh.  

    Spent some time outdoors on Friday and Saturday cleaning up the yard.

    Cleaned off my scrapbook desk and layed out some supplies just in case I get my butt in gear and create something.

    Spruced up the house a little bit.

    Roger and I took a Sunday morning drive through the country with the dogs.

    I made some gluten free sandwich biscuits for Karlie and I.

    They are a good fill in when I am craving some bread.  We made open faced pulled pork sandwiches with them.  Yummy!

    What did you do this weekend?

  • Strength

    "A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey,

    but a woman of strength knows it is the journey where she will become strong."

    ~ unknown

    These images where shot at my son in law's cattle farm a couple of years ago.

    (Can't believe I hadn't posted them.) 

    I love that Karlie is right in there helping her man.

    Not afraid getting her boots dirty.  Not afraid of a big old bull.

    Not afraid of good, old fashioned, hard work.  

  • Homemade Peanut Butter

    I made homemade peanut butter!!

    Really I did.  

    Super easy folks.

    If you've got peanuts and a food processor you're good to go.

    I bought a bag of honey roasted peanuts at Trader Joe's.

    Put the whole bag in the food processor, added some coconut oil and sea salt and pressed start.

    Easy, peasy!!

    It is delicious.

    Spread some on toasted Ezekial 4:9 Sprouted Wheat and you've got a healthy snack.

    I think next time I will use half honey roasted peanuts and half regular peanuts.

    Give it a try.  Much better than Jif.  

    And I love my Jif.

  • Winter Wonderland

    As most of you know, I have been blessed to be spending the winter in Florida.

    So so lucky.

    I had to come home for a few days to finish our taxes and meet with the accountant.

    I am getting my taste of winter.

    I am going to try and enjoy it.

    I bundled up on Saturday and took a walk.  

    It really was beautiful.

  • Our little beach house

    While we are on the island we are living in a little one bedroom apartment on the ground floor of our house.  Roger's parents are living upstairs in the main living quarters.

    It is quite smaller than our farmhouse in Illinois, but I LOVE IT!!

    It fits in with my goals of simplifying.

    We have some updating to do, mainly just furniture, but that's the fun of it.

    This is what it looked like when we got here.

    Living/Kitchen area

    Dining

    Bedroom

    A small space.  But it is working well for us.

    Less to clean.

    Just the basics.

    We love it.

    We bought some new wicker furniture last week and It really made a difference.

    We have gotten water in this part of the house before during hurricanes, so we wanted wicker that would be easy to either put up on blocks or hose of if that ever happens again.

    Next up new tv...but I need to let the sting of the living room and porch furniture wear off before I take Roger shopping again.

    Have a wonderful day my friends.

  • Morning Walk

    One of my favorite activites while at the beach is taking a walk with my husband bright and early every morning.  

    We make a travel cup full of coffee and take off.

    This morning was warm but foggy.  

    The dew was dripping off my hair.

    I didn't take my camera or phone, but Roger had his.  When we got to Bowditch Park at the end of the island, we snapped a couple gorgeous shots.

    All taken with an iphone - no filter just fog.

    So blessed to be able to spend some time down here away from the cold Illinois winter.  

    I sure miss the kids, my family and friends but I am adjusting to island life and spending time with my husband.  

  • Hello 2014

    And hello to all of you.

    I took a little blog vacation.  I seem to do that a lot lately.

    Well I do hope to change that in 2014.  

    2014

    It's so hard to believe.

    What do I hope the new year holds...health, happiness, love, peace, joy, forgiveness...

    I could go on and on.

    I found this image on pinterest the other day and it is ME RIGHT NOW.

    I look forward to sharing this year with all of you.

    Happy New Year my friends.

  • Images

    A random post today.

    Just some images that have caught my eye on Tumblr.

    Although they are kind of the same thing, Tumblr has a different feel to it.  

    Just another way to feed my need for visual stimulation.

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    Beautiful images that for one reason or another made me stop scrolling through and really look at them.  They are all so calming to me.  They make me smile.  They are all so simple in their spirit.

    This push towards a simpler way of life just keeps presenting itself to me.  Over and over every day.  I believe 2104 will look and feel and be different.  And I am ready for it.

  • Happy Birthday Eric

    My baby is 22.

    How does that happen?

    He just said to me this morning that he was perfectly happy being 21.

    Time sure flies.

    This young man has blessed me in a million ways.

    I am SO PROUD to be his momma!!

    Happy birthday my handsome boy!!  

    I love you!!

    {sorry about the bad pix.  all pictures are in albums and i just took pix of them with my phone.}

  • I'm trying...

    ..to get caught up with all my editing.

    ..to get a jump start on my year end book work for the farm.

    ..to clear out more of the clutter from my house.

    ..to connect with all my fall clients to get their orders placed before I leave for a sunnier state.

    ..to wrap my mind around the holiday season that is right around the corner.

    And in doing all of this, I have once again dropped out of the blogging, instagram, facebook world.

    So...

    I'm trying to be better. 

    I will focus.

    I will connect.

    Because I miss all of you.

  • Peace

    The sea.

    Calms my soul and brings me peace.

    The sights, sounds, and smells are a part of me.

    I love it here!!

    I am lucky enough to be spending a few days here and photographing a senior session.

    Work and play.

    It goes together well here.

  • Something to think about...

    I have spoken here about my desire to simplify.

    I have been focusing on what is truly important in my life.

    I have been weeding out the junk, both physically and mentally.

    I have been taking truckloads to Goodwill.  It is a freeing feeling.

    The more I take, the more I want to find some more to take.

    I have started reading a few blogs on simplifying.  One of them is Allison Vesterfelt's Learning To Live With Less.

    One of here recent posts was about the things you can't live without.  It really got me thinking.

    A few years ago my list would have been pretty long.  I loved the treasure I found at flea markets and sales.  Decorations for inside and out.  Collections of vintage dishes. They made me happy.  Tons of scrapbook supplies that I needed to document our life.

    Today, my list is much shorter.  Sure I still like the furniture and vintage pieces in my home, but do I need them...no.  Yes, I still like to scrapbook and need some paper and tools for the hobby, but do I need cabinets full....no.  

    I have already weeded out a lot of these things, that are just things.  I can live without them.

    So what is my list of things I can't live without?

     My family

    Bible

    My camera

    Computer/cell phone

    Family photos

    Wallet

    House/Vehicle

    There you go.  Pretty simple.  My basics.  

    I realize that this list could change at anytime, but right now this is where I am.

    So think about it?

    What can't you live without?  Share with me if you want.

  • Harvest

    We are smack dab in the middle of our favorite time of year.

    We have worked hard for this.

    It's our life and our livelihood.

    To look out the front window yesterday and see my whole family in the field just made me so proud.

    That's my husband in the combine.  Karlie in the tractor and grain cart and Eric in the grain truck.

    Dusty is out there too in another truck.

    Not quite sure what that pose is.  

    Maybe some ancient ritual to bring on a safe, bountiful harvest.

    Goofball!

    Roger says Karlie is the best grain cart operator.  

    He loves having her out there with him and Eric.

    And just so you don't think I am doing nothing while they are working hard....

    I keep the corn dryer running, make lunches, watch dogs, grocery shop, make dinner, take pictures, run errands and generally fill in any gaps.

    Roger calls me Elmer - as in the glue that holds it all together.

    Awwww.

  • For others...

    Life is busy here right now.

    Harvesting and photography sessions.

    Lunches and dinners to make.

    A yard to mow every couple of days.

    But it is important for me to take time away from my busy schedule to think of other people.

    Saturday morning I attended a charity walk to benefit a local Women's Learning Center.

    Connecting with others.

    Helping a great cause.

    Walking and sharing with a wonderful woman.

    It started my day off the right way.

    Not thinking of me and all I need to do...but thinking of someone else and what they hope to do.

  • Good Morning Monday

    It's a beautiful fall morning.

    Sun is shining and there is a crispness in the air.

    We have begun harvesting soybeans.

    It's not off to a really smooth start, but hopefully that luck changes today.

    Looking forward to the new month. 

    I love October.

    Lot's of sessions scheduled and a travel session at the end of the month.  

    Also I have decided that October is my month to really start simplifying.

    So much to do.

    Thanks for stopping by my friends.  Have a wonderful day.

  • Time away...

    It refreshes my soul.

    Allows me to slow down and refocus.

    A few days at the cabin and I will be ready to dive right into both harvest season and a busy photography calendar.

    I am so lucky to have this slice of heaven to escape to.

    I brought movies and books.

    I loaded up the computer so I can get a little work done.

    And I threw in the running shoes for a little daily workout.

    I am blessed.

  • simplify

    Lately I have been hearing a voice telling me to simplify.

    I have yet to fully place all these thoughts into a plan that makes sense to me but I can't stop my mind from going in that direction.

    Does it mean getting rid of the clutter in my mind and focusing on what's truly important?

    Am I meant to donate all I have and live in a tiny house?

    Do these thoughts come with age?

    Is this our next step?

    I don't know yet but I am listening to that voice.

  • Book Club

    I have always loved to read.  There is nothing like emmersing yourself in the life of someone else.  Traveling to different times and locations.  It seems for a while I was not reading like I should.  I was spending too much time on the computer - blogs, pinterest, facebook.  While I do love to visit these sites, I have discovered that reading fills my soul like nothing else.  I am happier when I read.  Taking time for myself.  Slowing down.  Putting "to do" lists and everyday tasks aside for a little while is good for my heart, mind and soul.

    Here are a few books that I have just finished and recommend to you.

    Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews

    I was just introduced to her books last year.  I love them.  Always look forward to a new one.  Fun characters - some a little quirky.  A little bit of intrique and a whole lot of fun.  The main character in Ladies Night is a blogger!!  How fun is that.  I think all of you will really enjoy this book.  I know I did. Perfect for a summer read.

    Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

    I read her other book Saving CeeCee Honeycut and LOVED it.  Every single page.  If you haven't read that book, put it on your list to.  Looking for Me is a lovely story with pages full of rich characters.  Part of it is also set in Charleston, SC which made me happy.  Teddi has a love for antiques and a little shop to sell her treasures.  She also has some saddness in her life that she is trying to live with as well as get to the bottom of.  I think I read this book in one day at the cabin - no joke.  Very good.

    Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer

    This is the first book by this author that I have ever read.  Let me tell you, I will definitely be reading more of her.  Queen Elizabeth Wake - Queenie - is a chef who is fired from her job in the big city and has to go back to her hometown to figure out her next step.  She is not really happy to be there.  She has always dreamed of city life - not her small town roots.  Again, great characters and a fun little story.  Another perfect summer read.  

    So there you have it.  Three great books for you summer beach bag.  Heart-warming, funny and bound to keep you entertained.  I hope you enjoy them.  Let me know if you read them and any thoughts you may have.  

    And if you have a great book for me to read, let me know.  I am always ready to add another book to my ever growing stack.  

  • Change

    Change is good.  I really like change.  It doesn't frighten me.  It challenges me.  

    There has been a little change in my life recently and I am embracing it.  Nothing major but a blip on the screen nontheless.

    When my husband and I dream about our future, it includes spending more time at our cabin during the summer months and more time in Florida in the winter.  I dream of splitting my photography business between Illinois and Florida.  Family sessions on the beach.  The perfect job.   

    My husband held a elected position with our township.  It was a 4 year term and he chose to run again for 4 more years.  Unfortunately he was not re-elected which I think was harder for me than him.  He is fine with it, actually relieved.  

    Our dream is now becoming a reality.  We are already discussing when we are leaving in December to head for the beach.  I am not sure I can stay all winter.  I will miss my kids terribly, but Southwest is a great airline and I know how to book tickets.  My husband says he will never see another snowflake.  We'll see.

    I am excited.  I love Florida.  I love spending each morning on the beach watching the world wake up.  The sights and sounds of the sea speak to me.  

    And with that change comes another....my studio was split with another renter who had it before me.  Sharing the space was great and sharing the rent is better.  She however is not going to keep it anymore and I cannot see paying the full price.  I just don't use it that much.  As much as I loved shooting in it all winter, I would much rather be shooting outside.  So my dream studio will be no more as of June 1st.  It's ok, really.  I have a great space in my house that I can use and with not being around in the winter next year it just doesn't make sense.  I will miss it but like I said before "I like change."

    And this new site.  Another change.  Simple.  Everything in one place.  I like that.  

    So thank you for being a part of my journey so far and I look forward to what lies ahead for me and hope you continue to follow along....

    And, if you are in the Ft. Myers area of Florida this winter and would like photos taken...I'M YOUR GIRL!!

    xo!