Happy Holidays!

via Harry Barker

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday 


Provence Inspired Holiday Mantle

 This year I decided to try something a little different
 on our big wooden mantle
 I ordered 2 dozen packages of lavender, 
that came wrapped in little kraft paper bundles 
and some dried vines with faux bittersweet berries
 I just sort of started working with the vines and then decided a base of some sort would look interesting too, so I added 3 vintage French bread baskets

 I was thinking of using glass balls which would have looked great too but I had a big basket of these old rag balls and guess what....?
 They looked really interesting 
and were really easy to tuck into little niches 
and spots all along the vines

 Using the lavender already wrapped like this actually saves a ton of time and mess.
I pretty much had the thing done and realized I was missing something...hummm

 Hey why not stick a few bread boards in behind the vines!
 The biggest challege was getting the balance right...but this arrangement is so free form that you can keep playing with it until you like how it looks
 I have to admit I started thinking of all sorts of things to add to this display but then thought it might start to look like a French flea market!

 It is kind of a messy project and there were little orange BB's of styrafoam everywhere not to mention lavender...but it smells wonderful!

 I really like those bread boards on the mantle...
those might just stay there after the Holidays
 I can't beleive there are just a few weeks
 left in  2011...where did this year go?

happy decorating!



Winter Flowers


 December is actually one of the few months in California where you can put away the clippers and the rakes and enjoy 
some "quite time" in the garden

 These are a few of the things that are still blooming...surprisingly!
There were even a few apples still left on the trees

 This is a rose called Tuscan Sun...one of my favorites

 The citrus trees are really coming on...especially the tangerines
 Our tangerines are the Satsuma variety and are delicious and seedless...
Tangarita anyone?
 The tree limbs are literally hanging to the ground 
we have so many tangerines

 The Mexican sage is still blooming and the lavenders are starting to pop out...but it will be a few more months before the big lavender bloom takes place

 The colors of orange and purple 
are my favorite to add to an arrangement

 and for some reason the burgundy of the smoke tree branches
 looks wonderful with this mix of things

 Winter is beautiful in so many ways 
and mother nature never fails us

hope you are having a
 happy and peaceful 


Creative Bloggers: Photography

 There are many things that make having a blog enjoyable,
but clearly one of the most rewarding is creating new friendships with people all over the world 
who share a common love  for beauty, design, creativity 
and use blogging to further that passion
 Such is the case with blogger: 

She was so kind to let me ask her a few questions about her work, how she sees what she photographs and how she creates her beautiful photographs:

1:  How long have you been interested in photography?

I had never done much with photography until I started my blog in January of 2010.  I realized that in order to have the kind of blog I wanted I would need to learn to take pictures so that I could use them in my posts.  As time went on and I had the chance to visit other blogs, especially Kate's blog "Chronicles of a Country Girl," I realized that taking pictures was a way for me to express myself in a way I had never really done before.  

 2:  Do you have a favorite subject or do you shoot what you see and think it may become a wonderful photo?

It's funny, once you start taking photos you kind of see the world through different eyes.  Everything really becomes a photo op if you love taking pictures.  Sometimes when I'm driving down the road the light will hit the trees and I will think, "geez, I wish I had my camera right now!"  So I wouldn't say that I have a favorite subject, I feel like I'm constantly finding new subject matter all the time! 
 3:  How has technology influenced your work?

Technology has definitely influenced my work.  My husband has had nice film cameras since before we met, and I never had any interest in trying to use them.  The truth is that I'm not a very patient person, I'm one of those people who isn't good about reading instruction manuals, so if I couldn't shoot digitally I don't think I would have pursued photography.  Being able to take lots of photos, especially when you are learning, without having to pay for processing has been a godsend for me.  I've shot 150 photos where only 10% of them turned out, and if I had been doing that on film I would be broke by now and very frustrated.  I also hated that with film you had to go somewhere to get your film processed and you had to wait to have it done...did I mention that I'm not very patient?! ;-)

The other aspect of technology that I love about today's digital photography is the ability to manipulate images using programs such as Photoshop.  These programs allow people like me to take an ordinary photo and hopefully turn it into something extraordinary, even if the only thing you do is crop it.  Some people get all wound up about using textures or actions on photos, but I just think that's silly.  Since the evolution of photography there have been people manipulating photographs to get the best possible image, even Ansel Adams is believed to have merged multiple images to create his masterpieces, it just took him much longer since he had to do it all in a dark room.  I think that if technology helps you realize your artistic vision then I say go for it! 
 4:  Do you have  other "artistic passions" besides photography

My friends and family would love this question, because they know that I have been all over the map with various "artistic passions," over the years.  I have gone through painting phases, knitting phases, arts and crafts phases, but they were all short lived and not very well executed.  Writing, which some consider an art form, and photography are the only ones that seem to have lasted for more than a few months with me.  But I believe we are all artistic in some way, and I think that society is what makes people believe they aren't artistic.  My children had a not so nice art teacher in elementary school who only encouraged the best kids, I think that is such a shame.  We like to pigeonhole people at a very early age, so I think sometimes our artistic tendencies and passions get buried along the way.  I think that artistic passions are just dreams, and if you can dream it you can do it, even if your friends, a teacher, or family think otherwise, you should always try and follow your dreams anyway.
 5.   What are the things that you think make a photo really outstanding?

This is such a great question, and so hard to answer.  I think what makes a really good photograph is the way it makes someone else feel.  I have posted photos on my blog that I thought were just so so, and then someone will leave a comment telling me how much it touched them or reminded them of something .  I think that is what photography is all about, it's a way for us to save a moment in time, or to remind the viewer of something and conjure up a memory.  Just look at how we treasure family photos, carefully displaying them in our homes, and handing them down from generation to generation.  It's clear that they help connect us to our past and give us a sense of history to pass along to future generations.

I also think that people hold back on taking photos if they don't have the right equipment or if they don't think they have what it takes to get what they "think" is a good photo.  I won't lie, having good tools is part of the equation, and I've been fortunate to purchase better equipment as I've gotten more into photography, but there are still photos I took with my old Rebel that look better than those taken with my 5D Mark II.  And there are some people out there taking amazing photos with their cell phones, so just go out and shoot and don't get caught up in the techno mumbo jumbo of it all.
   6.  Has blogging helped in any way with your photography

Blogging is the main thing that has helped me with my photography.  It forces me to take pictures, and the more you shoot the better you get.  Hardly a day has gone by in the last year that I haven't taken at least one picture.  Blogging has also forced me to slow down and try new things with my camera and in Photoshop.  When you take new pictures almost every day you get bored with doing things the same way over and over, and that's a good thing.  It makes you want to try different settings, different techniques for processing your photos, and that's how you learn, by the simple act of doing.

The other way blogging has helped me is that it has opened me up to other people's blogs where I find inspiration all the time!  Through blogging, I have found so many other wonderful blogs...cooking, design, lifestyle, photography, gardening, all sorts of blogs with beautiful photos on them.  The same way that people stare at a room in a magazine and take in every detail in hopes of recreating that beautiful room, I do that but with photographs I see on other people's blogs.  And just like in the home and design world of blogging, photography blogs are full of useful info and really wonderful people.  There is a wealth of information out there, and for someone who is self taught like me, it's been an amazing resource.

 Kat had so many different stores that accompanied these amazing photos, all of which were so interesting:

Here is what she said about the photo below:

 I took this photo in Heidelberg, Germany.  To me it is so quintessentially European, and I loved that the bike was pink while the shutters were yellow.  I desaturated the image to give it a vintage feel, like it could be from the 1940s or 50s

I would love for you to check out her blog and her amazing portfolio!

You might  just find that perfect Holiday gift for someone

But in any case you will be inspired 
and will probably think of using your camera in a new and creative way!

Thanks again for stopping by.....

smile for the birdie
; 0 )