366 in 52 [2016] ~ Week Fifty-One

Just a couple of days until Christmas! I still get that little thrill of excitement about this holiday. Maybe it’s because Anna will always believe in Santa. Maybe it’s because my mom always made Christmas so magical. For the very first time in my adult life, I did my shopping just after Thanksgiving. I stuck to a budget. I even got most of the stocking stuffers early. I.am.ready. This week was so busy though… the kids got out of school last Friday; I did some holiday baking for a cookie exchange party on Saturday then went to my artist’s reception for Trees by myself Saturday night; looked for art in my backyard; Dominic had his Boy Scouts holiday party Monday night; Tuesday I took the kids to San Antonio so Dominic could see his counselor then took the kids to the humane society; I did some clothes shopping on Wednesday (my wardrobe is woefully small); and Thursday puttered around the house and did some macro shots of the tree. Feeling blessed and bountiful and grateful. <3

Day 351 ~ Christmas Baking Begins

Friday, December 16th, 2016

I was invited to a cookie exchange party on Saturday and I decided to bake my favorite cookie, the classic peanut butter cookie from the Joy of Cooking. The recipe calls for butter or shortening. I was curious about the difference in quality and taste, so last year, I tried baking half the batch with butter and half with shortening. The cookies made with shortening were denser, crumbly, and melted in my mouth, so I always used shortening now if given a choice. I also use organic peanut butter instead of Jif and the flavor is so so so good. I like watching a show on my iPad while I bake, so I put on my favorite… The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

New Braunfels Christmas cookie baking food photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/200 | ISO 500

Day 351 ~ Forking Yummy

Friday, December 16th, 2016

There is a National Geographic Your Shot challenge right now called Tastes Like Home. I wanted to capture the best part of baking peanut butter cookies… the pressing of the fork tines into the dough to make the criss-cross pattern on the top. They wouldn’t be peanut butter cookies without the hatch marks, now would they?

New Braunfels Christmas cookie baking food photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/3 | 1/200 | ISO 1600

Day 351 ~ Ready to Eat

Friday, December 16th, 2016

I bake on parchment paper on special baking sheets so the bottoms of the cookies never get brown. The back row gets a little browner than the rest but mostly they are cooked to golden perfection. The key is to slightly under-bake them by a minute or so… then the middles stay extra tender. Of course I had to try one cookie from each sheet!

New Braunfels Christmas cookie baking food photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/3 | 1/160 | ISO 2500

Day 352 ~ Proud Artist

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Saturday was a busy busy day. My cookie exchange party was early, then it was a whirlwind of lunch time and getting ready for the reception. Curtis was still sick with laryngitis and Dominic was supposed to ride on the Boy Scouts float in the very first ever New Braunfels Christmas parade. The boys ended up staying at home and I went solo to the reception. My image, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, was accepted into the juried exhibition, Trees, at the A Smith Gallery in Johnson City. Amanda, the gallery owner, said nearly 1400 images were submitted and the juror took 67 images for the show. It was a gorgeous exhibition. I had Kevin, Amanda’s partner, take a picture of me in front of my image. It is hard for me to accept an honor, I always minimize my successes, but I need to model for my children how to be proud of your own hard work. (FYI, there is a weird reflection hitting the glass on the frame that changed the lighting and color of the image.)

New Braunfels fine art self-portrait photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.8 | 1/250 | ISO 1000

Day 352 ~ Johnson City Wonderland

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

After the reception, I was just planning to head home. Amanda invited me to join them for dinner there in Johnson City, but I was lonesome for my family so I decided to head back. Curtis texted me that Cole, one of Dominic’s best friends, was spending the night and they were ordering pizza. When I first got to the gallery, it was still daylight out. But now… wow… the whole city was glowing with lights. I drove around the main square and got lots of shots of the courthouse which I thought was amazing… but then… holy cow! There was an entire city block glowing with wrapped trees just a few blocks away. This park was bustling with children and families and even photographers! Look closely at the people. <3

Johnson City street Christmas lights photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/100 | ISO 1000

Day 353 ~ Inside the Reflection

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

While I was at the gallery, Amanda said the next call for entry was going to be “Elsewhere.” That is wide open for interpretation. I started thinking back to some of the personal projects that I’ve started over the years. One of them is called Reflections and is mostly shot with mirrors… it’s about how the world through the reflection offers a different reality than the one in which we reside. I went searching for mirrors in my house and as I passed through my bedroom, I saw this puddle on our back patio. It was reflecting the light sconce on the stucco wall and the clear blue sky above. I love the lines and deep shadows in this composition.

New Braunfels macro fine art photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/5 | 1/320 | ISO 1000

Day 353 ~ Back Patio Puddle

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Refocusing on the actual puddle instead of the light sconce completely changes the look and feel of this image. The lines and colors are still crisp and vibrant but now we can see the texture of the pavement and the debris in the water. I’m not sure which image I like better but they both speak to me in different ways and they both take me “elsewhere…”

New Braunfels macro fine art photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/5 | 1/320 | ISO 1000

Day 354 ~ Boy Scouts Holiday Party

Monday, December 19th, 2016

I spent most of Monday in bed with a severe headache but Curtis had a neighborhood board meeting to attend so I rallied and took Dominic to his holiday party for Boy Scouts. The troop brought pizza for everyone and parents brought desserts. The boys had such a good time. Every year they have a gift exchange with a limit of $10 on the gift and the gift has to be practical and relate to scouting. We got a headlamp (it was a fancy one that I found at JCPenney and was on sale for $9.99… score!). Each boy draws a number and gets to pick a gift from the middle of the circle. Once all the gifts are chosen and opened, the boy with the first number can keep his gift or exchange it for someone else’s. This process always gets loud and rowdy with lots of laughing.

New Braunfels boy child Boy Scouts photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/200 | ISO 2000

Day 354 ~ Tagging Along

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Mom offered to keep Anna but I decided to take her with us to Dominic’s holiday party. I think it’s good to expose her to different environments, yknow? She’s been a little anxious because of the holiday but mostly she’s done very well this year. She isn’t obsessed with Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy anymore… in fact, she hasn’t really replaced him with any other obsessions. This is the most stable I’ve seen her in a long, long time. I got her to smile for me but no eye contact (she’s actually looking just to my left). Busy environments like this party get her super distracted and on edge.

New Braunfels child girl special needs photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/200 | ISO 2000

Day 355 ~ Visit to the Humane Society

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Dominic had an appointment with Elva, his counselor at the Clarity Child Guidance Center, early Tuesday morning. Anna really wanted to come with us, so I asked Dominic if it was okay and he said yes. Unfortunately, Dominic was very tired (he’s been staying up very late playing Minecraft with Cole and Colby… actually it’s kinda cool… they found a website where you can host your own server for just $5 and they’ve been playing on it privately) and he nearly fell asleep a few times during the session. Since he’s feeling fairly happy at the moment ~ no school, no pressure, no homework ~ he didn’t really have much to discuss with Elva. Anna played Minion Rush on her phone and watched some animal videos to entertain herself while Dominic talked, then Elva chatted with me and Anna for a few minutes at the end of the session. Anna has been wanting to visit the Humane Society of the New Braunfels Area for a couple of weeks so I made a deal with her that we would go after the session. She was wide-eyed as soon as walked in the door!

New Braunfels child family girl special needs photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/200 | ISO 1250

Day 355 ~ Already a Volunteer

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

A couple of months ago, Dominic was working on a merit badge for Boy Scouts that required some volunteer hours. He and Curtis went to the HSNBA and did the volunteer registration and orientation. So Dominic is already a volunteer for this shelter. I wish it wasn’t 35 minutes away from our house but we will try to get him there to actually do some work soon. We first visited the dogs on the adoption side. It breaks my heart to see those beautiful animals with those soulful eyes looking up at us with hope in their hearts. Ugh. The ones with pit bull in them… I know they aren’t going to be adopted. Sweet sweet dogs. I wish I could take them all. We already have three dogs. I think if we adopt any more, we will be the crazy dog people. Dominic has always been drawn to cats more than dogs (I don’t know why… Curtis and I are both dog people!) so we spent a lot of time in the cat room. We were allowed to take the cats out of the cages one at a time and had to go wash our hands with soap and water in the bathroom in between cats so that we wouldn’t spread feline viruses between them. We got to hold two 10-week old kittens. OMG. They were soooo cute. One of them had the loudest purr box I’ve ever heard.

New Braunfels boy child photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/200 | ISO 1250

Day 355 ~ Reading About Ginger

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Anna was a little more nervous than I thought she would be so I had her read some of the information about each cat. The one on the end was named Ginger. She wasn’t very friendly so we didn’t get her out to play. I did get Anna to hold one of the kittens and she did great until the kitten climbed up her chest and walked around on her shoulder. It was pretty funny. I wish I had gotten a photo of that but I was focused on keeping the kitten safe. When it was time to leave though, oh boy. Anna did not want to go. Just by the front door there is a room with windows that contained five puppies. They were hound mixes about 2-3 months old and they were romping and playing and being generally the cutest things you ever saw in your life. Anna wanted to hold one. The sign said they were too young to handle and she got really obstinate. I tried every trick I could to gently coax her out of the building and she just refused. Then she sat down on the bench and got angry. This is one of those moments that really test you as a parent. In some ways, she was being a typical small child… but she is the size of an adult. I can’t just pick her up and move her. At one point, I actually walked out of the building to put my purse in the car hoping that she would follow. Sometimes that works. It didn’t this time. I stayed outside for a minute taking some deep breaths… she so easily absorbs whatever energy you put into her… and I didn’t want to go back inside angry. Even though she had promised me she could handle this visit, Anna was locked into that place that logic cannot find. When I went back inside, Dominic was sitting beside her, gently hugging her from the side and talking calmly with her. It melted me and I immediately softened my approach. I was sympathetic with her and said how hard it must be to not get to hold a puppy. We talked for a few more minutes then she finally acquiesced and came out to the car. Dominic was an integral part of that redirection. I’m so glad he understands her and is willing to help her when I’m overwhelmed. We have told him many, many times that it’s not his job to do this, that we are the parents, but he always insists on helping her when she’s really lost. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

New Braunfels child girl special needs photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/200 | ISO 1250

Day 356 ~ The Dreaded Dressing Room Mirror

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

I don’t own a lot of clothes and I’ve always detested clothes shopping. I had PT Wednesday afternoon and decided after therapy I would pop into JCPenney and get a new lightweight sweater. (T-shirts and sweatshirts comprise most of my wardrobe.) I must’ve pulled 16 items into that dressing room with me and I ended up buying two things. Ugh. I hate shopping.

New Braunfels self-portrait photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/200 | ISO 1250

Day 357 ~ Christmas Tree Sparkles

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

We didn’t have a lot going on Thursday so I thought some macro plus Christmas tree might be fun. I should’ve used a tripod but I can usually get pretty good results going handheld at 1/80sec for the shutter speed. I have four red glittered butterflies that clip onto the tree. They are large and sparkly and eye-catching. I wanted to capture the bokeh of the red glitter and I got my grandmother’s clear glass bead garland in the shot too. So pretty!

New Braunfels macro Christmas tree photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/4.5 | 1/80 | ISO 2500

Day 357 ~ Pine Cone Ornament

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Years ago, when Anna was a toddler, she would take ornaments off the tree, put them in her mouth, then smash them on the floor. She would also mouth the lights. That year we replaced all breakable ornaments with plastic ones. This red pine cone looks like glass but it is made of plastic. And the hook that holds it is also plastic. Even though these ornaments are unbreakable, they are actually very pretty and reflect the light nicely.

New Braunfels macro Christmas tree photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/4.5 | 1/80 | ISO 2500

Day 357 ~ Snow Covered

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

When we first moved into our house here in River Chase in 2014, I splurged and bought two new ornaments for our tree. I wanted to get gold, silver, and cream to match our house. This is the first of those fancy ornaments… it’s a large, snow covered, silver ornament that just looks fancy.

New Braunfels macro Christmas tree photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/4.5 | 1/80 | ISO 1600

Day 357 ~ Sequined Snowflake

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

This is the second ornament I purchased for our new home… it’s also very fancy! I like the the sequins that anchor the snowflake to the gold ball. Every time I look at these two ornaments, I think back to our first Christmas here a couple of years ago. The newness of the house hadn’t worn off yet so that memory brings that little bit of wonder and excitement to mind.

New Braunfels macro Christmas tree photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/4.5 | 1/80 | ISO 1600

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and this is the last week of 2016. As you reflect back on the year, grieve those you lost, think about how you’ve grown and changed, celebrate your successes, but most importantly, love and cherish your family and friends. When people are angry and ugly, that’s when they need love the most. Being alone is hard, so reach out to someone who is by themselves. Forgive. Move on. Let go. Accept. Be in the moment. Have an attitude of gratitude. I hope everyone enjoys Christmas and Hanukkah. If you read this, then know that I cherish you! Thanks for looking and Merry Christmas!

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