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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Memories, Dreams, and Reflections ~ 2015

I know it is has been a while since I last posted here.  Let's face it ... blogging takes time.  And I have just not taken the time to post anything.  Summer 2015 was incredibly busy with raising Monarchs.  And dealing with our house being hit by a car.  (More on that soon).  Then fall was incredibly busy with photo sessions and editing.  Then the holidays.  

And even now, when I typically have time to get caught up and work on projects that I didn't have time to do during the summer and fall, I have been blessed with more work opportunities.  A family session between Christmas and New Years and a wedding on New Year's Day.  I'm currently working my way through the wedding images and hope to have them finished up this weekend.  Especially since I need to report for jury duty selection on Monday morning.  Ugh.  Praying I don't get picked to be on a jury.

Anyway, I always like to participate in Ashley's Memories, Dreams, and Reflections recap each year, so I made a point to seek out the photos this year.  I will be honest and tell you that I took less photos of my family.  I had a tough time finding a photo for a few of the prompts.  Between butterflies and photographing clients, I apparently didn't pick my camera up as often as I would have liked.  I plan to change that also in 2016.

So here are my selections for 2015's memories, dreams, and reflections ...

01 Me
If you know me, then you know I hate selfies.  But I did want to share a pic of a new t-shirt that I bought last summer.  So this is me.  Kind of.  :)

{i love you}
02 i love you
Doug and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary in November.  I had Keira take some pictures of us while we were both dressed up before we went out to dinner.  However, none of them turned out very well.  So we tried again on Christmas Eve.

{still laughing}
03 still laughing
Since I realized that I hadn't taken many photos of my babies in a while, we set out one evening to remedy that.  Of course, the boys started getting silly.  Nick first, then Alex followed his lead.  I giggle every time I look at this photo.

{winter wonderland}
04 winter wonderland
Honey loves the snow.  Although this particular day it was super cold and windy and even she didn't want to stay out long.

05 birthday
Nick asked for cold, hard cash for his birthday.  So my sister-in-law made sure to make that happen.  :)

06 friends
My friend, Sharon, and I met on Facebook through a photo-a-day group.  When we discovered that we lived close-ish to each other, we decided to meet up.  First at Phipp's Conservatory then at the zoo.  We both love photography and both places are great for photographers.  We both love the polar bears at the zoo also, so this was a perfect place for us to hang out.

{i was inspired}
07 i was inspired
I have been raising Monarchs for 6 years now and I had yet to take a photo of a Mama laying eggs or a couple mating.  Well, this year I got both.  The mating pair was taken with my phone though, so I still need to get a good shot of that.

{spring fever}
08 spring fever
Nothing says spring like tulips.  

{travel or vacation}
09 travel or vacation
We didn't take a vacation this year but we did go on several day trips.  This is a phone pic from one of them.

{summer days}
10 summer days
Butterfly season started a little later than usual for us this year thanks to all the rain, but once it got started, it consumed my summer days.  And some of my fall days.  We raised and released 1,062 Monarch butterflies along with some Black Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails.  For a while there it was like a full-time job.  But one I wouldn't trade for anything.

{a day in my life}
11 a day in my life
These guys are always part of my days.

{all smiles}
12 all smiles
Kobe appears to be smiling for me.  I just love her!

{autumn harvest}
13 autumn harvest
Fall was such a busy time for me that I didn't seem to take many photos other than clients.  However, we did take a family day to go to Elk County to see the elk.  We came up empty in the morning but after lunch we were fortunate enough to see a few elk including this bull.

{family or home}
14 family or home
As I mentioned above our house got hit by a car in September.  I had planned to write a blog post about it (and I still might), but short story is the guy fell asleep at the wheel and our house ended up in his path.  This happened on a Saturday around 1:00 a.m.  The kicker is that we live about 100 feet off the road and up a hill.  Not a house that you would ever expect to get hit by a car.  This photo shows the wall that he took out.  Our homeowner's insurance had to cover the repairs since the driver didn't have insurance.  The house repairs just got finished on Tuesday.

15 celebrate
My in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year.  They didn't want any gifts, just a nice gathering of friends and family.  I offered to take pictures for them.  This photo is of Doug's two sisters, his parents, and him.  It had been a while since they had a family photo taken.

{let's do it again}
16 lets do it again
Can't wait for butterfly season to start again this year!

{i miss you}
17 i miss you
Kobe is so much fun to play with at the zoo.  It has been a few months since I visited her and I miss her.  Must get back to the zoo soon!

18 beautiful
Keira participated in a princess day at a local banquet hall.  All the "princesses" (and the "queen") looked so beautiful.  Keira is 2nd from the left, beside Mary Ellen, the owner of The Gathering Spot, and the host of the princess day.

{dress up}
19 dress up
We're pretty much past the days of dressing up (for play anyway).  However, they do still have a fun costume party at youth group.  Keira dressed up as a Geisha girl.

20 macro1

20 macro2
Thanks to my macro lens and my stalking this Black Swallowtail egg, I was able to capture the tiny caterpillar hatching out of its egg and then turning around and eating the egg casing (the baby caterpillar's first meal).

21 holidays
My babies on Christmas Eve.

{my favorite}
22 my favorite
It is really hard to pick one photo as a favorite, but I'm pretty happy with this one.  A Black Swallowtail (one of my babies perhaps) depositing an egg on my parsley plant.  They are super quick, so I was excited to capture her.

{don't ever change}
23 dont ever change
Silly, funny, loving, helpful.  I hope he never changes.

{just because}
24 just because
I love her!  :)

{hopes and dreams}
25 hopes and dreams
Of course, I have lots of hopes and dreams.  For my family, our home, my business.  But I had to pick just one photo, so my hope is to help the Monarch population even more this year by raising LOTS more butterflies.  If you've never raised one, you should give it a try.  But be warned, you will be hooked.  :)

If you made it this far, congratulations!  And thank you!

Be sure to stop over to Ashley's and see her gorgeous pictures!

I hope to be back to blogging soon.  In the meantime, wishing you a blessed and Happy 2016!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Faith of Our Fathers ~ DVD Review and Giveaway

Taking the entries from the blog and Facebook, the winner of this DVD is Lindsey!  Congratulations, Lindsey!  I'll get your DVD out to you soon.  Thank you to everyone for entering!


Hello there!  Just popping in to share about a great movie I had the pleasure to watch recently ... Faith of Our Fathers.  And just in time for Veteran's Day.

About the movie:
John Paul and Wayne are two young men in search of their fathers.  Problem is...their fathers have been dead for 25 years.  Eddie and Steven are two young men in search of their sons...whom they've never met.  In 1969, Eddie and Steven are with their squad deep in the jungle of Vietnam on a five-day mission to retrieve fallen comrades.  They write letters to their wives, often mentioning their love for their sons, one, who is an infant and one yet to be born.  In 1994, John Paul and Wayne go on a five day road trip to the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC to see their fathers' names.  Along the way, reading those letters, they begin to get an understanding of who their fathers were and how they died.  Trials and mishaps, both funny and sad, complicate the road trip for the boys.  The horrors of war and the testing of faith manifest themselves for the young men in Vietnam.  Ultimately, in parallel stories - 25 years apart - the fathers and sons are bound together forever.  

Runtime: 96 minutes
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13 (for brief war violence)

Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Downes, David A.R. White, Rebecca St. James, Si Robertson, Candace Cameron Bure, Scott Whyte, and Sean McGowan.

Special Features of the DVD:
-The Heart of Faith of Our Fathers
-Honoring Father's Day
-Commemorating Memorial Day
-Si Robertson Interview
-Stephen Baldwin Interview

My thoughts:
This movie is a MUST SEE!  It has mystery, drama, humor, and a great story line.  It caught my interest from the very beginning.   I laughed out loud several times.  I may have even cried once or twice.  Or three times.  :)  The story really touched my heart.  I hope you will buy it, rent it, stream it, whatever, and see what I mean.

One of my readers has an opportunity to win their very own copy of this DVD movie.  Just leave a comment on this post.  Easy peasy!  Winner will be chosen randomly on Monday, November 16, and announced at the top of this post.  So be sure to check back to see if you are the winner!

Thank you for stopping by!

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Finding Noah

For over 2,000 years, man has been searching for the final resting place of Noah's Ark.  Though there have been many attempts, few have been able to fully explore the one place specifically noted in the Bible: Mount Ararat.  Located in Eastern Turkey, Agri Dagh or "The Painful Mountain" is the tallest mountain in the region and lies in the very center of a centuries old, geo-politically unstable hot spot.  With constant threats of deadly rock slides, hidden crevasses, and glacial ice falls, the Kurdish Rebel held mountain poses great risk to any explorer, let alone those performing a thorough scientific investigation.  

Join director/producer Brent Baum and the FINDING NOAH film crew as they follow an expedition of intrepid explorers on a perilous trek up to Mt. Ararat's desolate summit.  There, using state of the art technology and real-time satellite imagery, this team of archeologists, scientists and professional mountaineers will begin a grid work of exploration unlike any before, hoping to finally resolve the age-old question:  did Noah and his Ark actually exist?  

Shot in never-before filmed locations in the harshest of conditions, this unprecedented feature-length documentary shows just how far men are willing to go to discover the truth.  Narrated by Academy Award nominee Gary Sinise, FINDING NOAH is more than a quest for answers, it is a testament of the human spirit, where belief and the need for exploration transcend risk and limitation.  

WOW!  This documentary film was eye-opening for me!  I was not aware that so many people have been searching for Noah's Ark for so long.  Amazing people who risk their lives in search of the truth.

The footage in this film is great.  Breathtaking views.  Spectacular skylines.  As a photographer, I was in awe of the beauty.  

And all of this is coming to a theater near you for one night only.  Thursday, October 8. Check the link above to see if it will be playing near you.  And if it is, be sure to go see it!  I bet the spectacular views look even more amazing on a big screen.  :)

If you do go see it, I would love to hear about it!  Comment on this post your thoughts of the film. 


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

90 Minutes in Heaven ~ Review and Giveaway

A True Story of Death and Life

The true story that sold over 7 million copies is now a major motion picture!

Pastor Don Piper died January 18, 1989 when a semi-tractor truck crushed his car.  Declared dead by the first rescue workers to arrive on the scene, Don's body lay under a tarp for the next 90 minutes.  Don's soul, meanwhile, was experiencing love, joy, and life like he'd never known before.  Don was in Heaven.  

When another pastor's prayers helped bring Don back to life, he became a living miracle! Yet this is one miracle Don wished never happened.  Heaven's bliss was replaced by excruciating pain and emotional turmoil.  With the support and prayers of his beloved Eva, their three kids, and friends near and far, Don clings to his faith in God and fights to regain a semblance of his previous life.  The Piper family's incredible true story of perseverance and overcoming the challenges of life - and death - will bring hope and encouragement to all who see it. 

After given the opportunity to watch the opening scene of the movie, I can't wait to go see it! In the meantime, I was also given the opportunity to read the book.  While I haven't gotten through the whole book, what I have read so far has definitely kept my interest.  I look forward to picking it up and reading more.

About the movie presented by Giving Films:
Releases in theaters everywhere September 11, 2015
Rating: PG-13 (for intense accident and injury images) 
Starring Hayden Christensen (Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith), Kate Bosworth (Remember The Titans, Blue Crush) Michael W. Smith, Fred Thompson, Dwight Yoakam, and Jason Kennedy, 90 Minutes In Heaven is based on the inspiring New York Times best-selling book that has sold 7 million copies.  

About Giving Films:
Giving Films is passionate about sharing hope-filled movies and donating ALL of their profits to charities and ministries who serve those in need.  Beginning with their first film, 90 Minutes In Heaven, Giving Films is allowing all of us to be a part of making a difference.  Anytime you go to a Giving Films movie in theaters, visit http://www.givingfilms.com and select which charities you want to receive the profits from your ticket.  Their charitable organizations are Christian Alliance for Orphans, Faith Bridge Foster Care, Hire Heroes USA, Hope International, LifeWater, Street Grace, and World Vision. 

I hope you will go see the movie!  But in the meantime you have a chance to win your own copy of the book.  Just leave a comment on this post.  That's it!  Easy peasy!  Last day to enter is Tuesday, September 15.  Winner will be chosen and announced at the top of this post on Wednesday, September 16.

Once butterfly season (< -- click here to see what I'm talking about) is over I'm hoping to have more time to finish reading this book.  And to read a few other books that are on my list.  :)

Thank you for your time!  Don't forget to comment in order to be entered to win your own copy of this book!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Poor Neglected Blog

I took an unexpected hiatus from blogging.  These lovelies have been keeping me very busy lately.

Monarch male

Monarch female

Monarch caterpillar

Monarch female

Monarch laying egg

This male has a unique coloration on his wing.
Unique Monarch Male Butterfly

We are looking at possibly raising over 1,000 Monarchs this year.  If all the caterpillars/eggs that we found make it to butterflydom.  :)

Our local newspaper interviewed me last week and the article was in the weekend paper.  That was exciting!  I don't know if you will be able to read the article.  I took pictures of it with my phone.  But here it is.  We got a whole page and then some!!!

Butler Eagle1

Butler Eagle2

In addition to Monarchs, we also have Black Swallowtails.

Pretty Black Swallowtail girls

Black Swallowtail - female

Black Swallowtail male

I love the different markings of these two caterpillars.
Black Swallowtail caterpillars

And we have some Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars.  They will go into chrysalis, spend the winter with us, and emerge next spring.  Something to look forward to!  The caterpillars are brown, then green, then turn yellow or orange right before they pupate.  This one was ready to form its chrysalis when I took its picture.

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar

It is now in chrysalis.  I will share a photo of it someday.  :)

Gotta run.  Feeding so many caterpillars takes A LOT of time.

Linking with Tamar today.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Patterns of Evidence ~ Exodus ~ DVD Review and Giveaway

Congratulations to Sam, the winner of this DVD!


Recently I was given the opportunity to preview the DVD Patterns of Evidence.  However, due to being super busy with the photography business and butterfly raising, I set it aside and forgot about it.  :(  So today's review is brought to you by my teenage daughter, Keira, who graciously agreed to help me out with it.

About Patterns of Evidence Exodus:
For more than 50 years, the vast majority of the world's most prominent archaeologists and historians have proclaimed that there is no hard evidence to support the Exodus story found in the Bible.  In fact, they say that the archaeological record is completely opposed to the Bible's account.  This view of extreme skepticism has spread from academia to the world.  The case against the Exodus appears to be so strong that even some religious leaders are labeling this ancient account as historical fiction.  Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney begins with the questions, "Is the Bible just a myth, or did the archaeologists get it wrong?"  He decides to tackle this issue wit a deliberate scientific approach.   After examining the details in the biblical text, he journeys across the globe to search for patterns of evidence firsthand.  The result is the most in-depth archaeological investigation into the Exodus from Egypt ever captured on film.   This scientific documentary's goal is to communicate the TRUTH of the Bible and help equip believers with defending their faith and the Bible.  

The DVD features stunning animations and a cast including narrator, Kevin Sorbo (God's Not Dead, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys), interviews with leading archaeologists including Israel Finkelstein, Kent Weeks, and David Rohl, and guest appearances by Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres. 

Released on DVD August 4, 2015 
Run Time:  119 minutes
Special Features:  Cast Profiles & 17 Extra Interviews
      Behind the Music
      From Film to Book
      Additional Books and Resources
      Host a Patterns of Evidence Movie Event
Genre:  Documentary 
Rating:  NR 

And Keira's review on the film:
I very much enjoyed this take on the history of the Exodus of the Israelites as slaves from Egypt to Canaan and finally as an independent nation. The director/filmmaker Timothy Mahoney was an excellent guide into this view; his determination to prove his faith and the archaeological evidence he was able to uncover were just tremendous. 

The most interesting point that he made in the film, in my opinion, were the claims against the credibility of the chronological timeline of the Egyptians. His view that the timeline was warped a few centuries was a mind-boggling claim that he supported with the alignment of the biblical, the Canaanite, and all the other cultural timelines that depended on the Egyptian’s events in history by cutting out unnecessary time in the Egyptian Dark Age after the New Kingdom period. So many scholars and historians who study this particular time in history say there is no evidence to support the actuality of the Exodus because of this warped sense of time in the last Dark Age after Egypt’s New Kingdom. But through the biblical timeline, Mahoney shows the series of events in Egyptian history. 

This film shows the different views of many different archaeologists and historians who both support and oppose such an Exodus in the Egyptian and Israeli history. 

Wow!  I can't wait to get time to sit down and watch this DVD myself after reading Keira's thoughts.  And I'm thinking I should have her do more reviews for me in the future.  :)

For more information about the film, check out:

Twitter:  @PattofEvidence

Official Website:  http://patternsofevidence.com

Official Website to Purchase:  http://shop.patternsofevidence.com

Blog featuring interviews with director Tim Mahoney and an article by Anne Graham Lotz:  http://patternsofevidence.tumblr.com

And now for the fun part: giveaway time!

In order to enter to win, just leave a comment on this post letting me know what fun stuff you have done/are doing this summer.  Easy peasy!  Last day to enter is Tuesday, August 11.  I will randomly pick a winner and announce it here at the top of this post on Wednesday, August 12.  If you don't follow my blog and wish to be notified if you win, please leave an email address in your comment.  I promise not to SPAM you.  No time for that!  :)

Lastly, the legal stuff:
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weekly Summary ~ 7/5/15 - 7/11/15

Spent the week prepping for a Monarch presentation on Saturday.  I presented to the Christian Women's Artistic Connection group and a few guests.  They are a great group of ladies that get together every couple months to learn a new art.  Monarchs aren't art, but the ladies wanted to learn about them, so they asked me to present.  And we made a few greeting cards that I designed.  Nothing fancy.  

Did okay keeping up with my photo a day challenge.  I used a couple recent archive photos this week.  It happens.  :)

{July 5: Begins with "W"}
July 5: Begins with "W"
And soggy. 
And gross. 
Those are the words you can use to describe our month of June. So. much. rain! 16 out of the 30 days in June had measurable rain and I suspect there were a few sprinkles thrown in there during those other 14 days. Now that July is here the weather seems to be shaping up some. Still some rain but this weekend was super nice! We actually had several nice days in a row. Yay!
Anyway this photo was taken a couple weeks ago right after we had a heavy rainfall. The sun came out and made everything sparkle. And since I needed to take advantage of the little sunshine we were getting, I walked around outside with my camera. Our tiger lilies were blooming and looked so pretty glistening in the sun.

{July 6: Rule of Thirds}
July 6: Rule of Thirds
This photo was chosen as one of the Top Shots of the day! WOOT!

{July 7: Vanishing Point}
July 7: Vanishing Point
When the sun is dipping below the horizon - nearly at its vanishing point - marking the end of another day. Hope to see it again tomorrow!

{July 8: Bedtime}
July 8: Bedtime
Keira obviously stayed up past her bedtime. Or else that was a very uninteresting book. Maybe a little of both.  :)

{July 9: Alphaphotography}
July 9: Alphaphotography
You know I had to figure out a way to include one of my Monarch caterpillars into a prompt somehow, right? Don't ask how many tries it took to get him to stay in the shape of a C for me.  :)

{July 10: Just Another Day}
July 10: Just another day
Just another day of searching milkweed looking for Monarch eggs and/or caterpillars and finding none. frown emoticon I did see lots of blossoms though and several other butterflies, moths, and skippers. I will search again tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

{July 11: Technology}
July 11: Technology
Thanks to technology, I was able to photograph and instantly share the photo of this super cool-looking caterpillar I found this evening. Ah, smart phones.  :)
It is a Promethea Moth caterpillar. The first I have ever found.

Linking with Tamar:

On Monday I met with Sherry to discuss the details of my Monarch presentation.  We met at Panera and were able to sit outside - it was so nice!
I had a couple things rescheduled due to weather and emergencies.  A family photo session was supposed to happen on Tuesday morning but the rain interfered once again.  And on Thursday I was to meet with my friend, Sharon, about the upcoming wedding she was helping me photograph, but she needed to make an emergency trip to the vet
Saturday I did my Monarch presentation to the CWAC ladies.  I was a little nervous because I was so used to talking to kids about Monarchs.  But I told them they were my guinea pigs for an upcoming talk to a garden club.  :)  Everything went very well and they all enjoyed my presentation.
Saturday afternoon I stopped by a graduation party of one of my senior photo clients.  Her mom and I have become friends and they invited me to her graduation party.  It was a nice time and another beautiful day.  We had so much rain in June, it was great to have nice weather finally.