Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

I LOVE the golden hour. It is pretty much the only time I will shoot. I am a big fan of glowing soft light, I think it makes photographs more dynamic and visually intriguing.

Last month a friend of mine asked me to do family pictures for her. She had a patriotic theme in mind that sounded awesome, so I happily agreed. We had plans the next weekend to go to the pool together and she asked if we could do it after that. I told her that we should wait and do it in the evening before sunset (the golden hour), and although it was an awkward time of day for her, she deferred to my “expertise”

After I edited the photos and shared them with her she posted them on FB and got tons of great feedback. She told me that she raved about me to her friends and family and really appreciated the fact that I knew when the best time to take photos was, directed them in poses and the location of the shoot. <— I think all of those things, but especially the time of day, is what contributes to beautiful photos

This shot was her favorite (and mine)

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Backlit photos are difficult for me to shoot, and it’s something I’ve been continuing to work on. But I love how the light makes even simple poses and backdrops frame worthy photos

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

I would like to introduce Sir Lancelot, my furry companion when Jeremy is away.

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He is around 3 years old now, and I got him when he was a kitten.

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3 weeks old

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2 years old

Funny story about his name. When my BFF and I were in middle school we had this whole plan to go to college together and share an apartment (aka Camelot) and fill it with our cats (Sir Lancelot, King Arthur, etc.)

So when I finally got my own pet in college, I named him Sir Lancelot, even though we didn’t end up being roomies.

She got a cat too, and called him Sushi….way to ruin the dream, right?! 

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Sir Lancelot (aka Lance) and I have a love/hate relationship. 

I love cats. I am basically a crazy cat lady. I think they are the most adorable animals ever. Therefore I love Lance, because he is a fluffy cat.

However, Lance is kind of a Diva Asshole, and therefore there are many times during the day when I hate him. I hate Lance when he is meowing in my face at 6am wanting me to feed him. I hate him when he is laying on my arms when I am trying to use my computer. I hate him when he swats at me when I walk by. I hate him when he opens all the cupboards and bangs them at 3am. I hate when I have to pay extra pet rent and figure out how to transport a cat across county and pay for all those expenses.

It’s a good thing I really love cats, otherwise the hate list would outweigh the love lol. Which is how my husband feel, he just hates cats.

Although I am not looking forward to moving Lance from CA to WI when we PCS, I firmly believe in being a “forever” owner. Not a “until we PCS” or “until we have kids”. I recused Lance from the shelter and I intend on loving/hating him for the rest of his life.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

Yesterday I saw on a military wives page on FB that a girl had sewn in a patch on the back of her graduation sash to represent her husband who could no be there because of deployment.

My husband missed my college graduation 2 years ago because of a deployment as well, so I know she feels. I thought her idea was really sweet, and it had never occurred to me do something like that.

I remember missing my husband a lot at my graduation. Not just because it was 5 days away from his homecoming, but because he was a huge support for me during college.

Now, as I look forward to my Master’s graduation without my husband by my side, I again think about how big of a support he has been. Not only financially supporting me through college, but by always encouraging me and pushing me to accomplish my goals. He is always bragging about me to his friends and at work, and is so proud of all that I have accomplished with my schooling.

I remember feeling like there was an empty space the day that I graduated with my bachelors. Even though my parents and siblings where there, my husband wasn’t, and I anticipate feeling that way again in 2 weeks when I graduate. By incorporating something to represent him into my graduation garb, I thought it might be a way to fill that emptiness.

So I decided to put a photo of him in my graduation cap, much like I have seen deployed soldiers do with pictures of their spouses in their covers and helmets.

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Clearly I need a new portrait of my husband, it’s been 6 years since he graduated boot camp lol

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up (and Down) – Body Image

This weeks photo challenge was UP

So today while I was lying by the pool enjoying the 80* San Diego weather, I took this photo.

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Then I flipped my camera around and took a “down” photo. This is the photo that I want to talk about.

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For as long as I can remember I have wanted to lose weight. It has been on my mind since High School and continues today. I have never been significantly overweight or obese, but I have also never been “skinny”.

I have never felt comfortable being in a bikini, exposing my flaws the the world and comparing my body to the Victoria Secret models who advertise what my body “should” look like in a bikini.

I recently deleted all of the “fitspiration” facebook and Instagram pages I followed, because I found myself getting depressed by looking at them, rather than inspired. They would post the fruit they ate for lunch and I would feel like a fat cow for eating a bagel. Or they would post photos of the “ideal” body type, and I would find myself looking down at my own perfectly beautiful body and hating it for not looking like what it “ideally” should.

The only page I still follow is This is Not a Diet – it’s your life, because she has such a wonderful way of inspiring people to love their body and strive for being the healthiest version of themselves, not someone else’s version.

She posted a link to an article last week and I was incredibly moved by it. In fact, it was what prompted me to delete all the fitness pages I was following because I realized how negatively it was effecting my self esteem.

“At what point did we find it applaudable to look at pictures of other people and say “instead of looking like me, I want to look like her.” Why don’t we balk at the suggestion in the magazines to cut out those pictures and paste them to our refrigerators? Pictures to remind us that instead of feeding ourselves, we should be punishing ourselves. Instead of eating what we want when we’re hungry, we should instead be perpetuating a cycle of shame, guilt and jealousy. You are not enough as you are, is the message. Or rather, you are too much as you are. Don’t eat again. Have a glass of water. Take a diet pill. Maybe have some carrot sticks. Work out instead. You don’t want to be stuck in that body of yours forever, do you? Who will love you? Certainly not yourself, that’s for sure….

….So the next time you stand in front of a mirror and sneer at your less than flat abs or get angry with yourself for having enjoyed a dessert, ask yourself why. Why is perfection so important? What does it matter and who does it matter to?

I am a size 12 and I am healthy. I do not look like a Victoria Secret model, and I probably never will. My body is not perfect, but I am satisfied with it and my husband loves it. That is all that should matter.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

This week’s Photo Challenge is Change.

Conveniently that topic lines up with a recent event in our life, the possibility of our first PCS!

Jeremy got selected for Recruiting Duty, and today he called me and explained to me that he was told to make a decision about it by Monday.

So we have to decide if we want to take it or not over the next 2 days.

There are pros and cons to both sides that I won’t really go into, because it’s personal and specific to our life, but I am every excited about the possibility of finally leaving CA — for the possibility of CHANGE!

I’ve lived my whole life in CA, and you would think once I married someone in the military I would get to see the world and travel. But not us, we’ve been in Southern California for almost 6 years!

If we do decide to take the orders, there is a high chance that we would get stationed in Wisconsin, which is where my husband is from and where all his family live.

Talk about change, San Diego to Wisconsin lol.

So stay tuned! Maybe on Monday I will write a post about how 2014 will mean our family moving from Beach Bums to Snow Bunnies!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

I missed last week, but here is this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge. The prompt is “color”, and one of the suggestions is to share a photo that you edited. I immediately knew what photo I wanted to share because I have been having a hard time deciding if I like it better in color or b&w!

I love photography, and I consider myself an amateur photographer. I have a good DSLR camera and editing software, but I’ve never taken a class other than an “Introduction to Photographer” class that lasted for 4 hours. I am mostly self taught from blogs online and practice with my friends and family.

I don’t charge people and I don’t consider myself a professional photographer by any means!

My friend had a baby last week and asked me to do newborn photos for her. I was so excited because I have only ever done couples. So I scoured Pinterest for inspiration and tips for newborn photography. I found a beautiful military inspired newborn shoot and decided to do my best to duplicate one of the photos.

Here is the result! Mom & Dad loved it 🙂 But I have yet to decide which edit I like better, color or b&w.

What’s ya’lls vote?

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Weekly Photo Challenge and Advocare Diet Review

This weeks photo challenge is “lunchtime”, which connects well to another post I had planned on sharing today. So that works out great!

Today for lunch I had Panda Express, because today is my cheat day after completing the 24 day Advocare challenge.

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I lost 6 pounds and 4 inches on the challenge (the average weight loss for women is 10 lbs., so I think I did a decent job).

I thought I would write a review of my experience, what I learned, what I liked, what I didn’t like, etc.

First off, I found it very hard to stick too. Mostly when it came to eating out. Jeremy and I normally go out with friends 2x a week, wether that be a BBQ at someones house or just meeting up for dinner. We also eat out together 2-3x a week, breakfast on Sundays, dinner on Friday, etc.

The diet basically boils down to fruit, vegetables, lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, etc.) and limited whole wheats, like brown rice, whole grain past and whole grain bread. (for a more exact description of the diet you can explore the Advocare website)

That doesn’t give a ton of options when you go to a BBQ at a friends house and they are providing the food.

So I did not stick to the diet 100%. I would say my average was about 80%

However, what I did learn, and will take a way from the experience, is that there are ways to eat the above mentioned foods in tasty ways. A few of my favorite recipes were turkey tacos (whole wheat tortilla topped with salsa), pineapple turkey burger (on a whole wheat bun) and sweet potato fries.

My two biggest problems with sticking to any kind of diet like this is 1) I have no willpower, and 2) I LIKE yummy-bad-for-me-food

I don’t think I will ever be one of those people who gets excited for a turkey burger, I would much rather eat Panda Express. And if you put both of those options in front of me, I will probably grab the Panda Express, I don’t have willpower.

So how do I lose the weight that I want to lose? Figure out something that works for my lifestyle and stick with it long term.

I will not be able to stick with a strict diet, I was amazed I made it at 80% for 24 days.

My plan now is to use what I learned as far as healthy eating habits, incorporate it into my daily life, give myself room to cheat a little, and make it a long-term lifestyle change.

When Jeremy and I go out to eat I don’t have to order the french toast with hash browns, I can have oatmeal and eggs. Every once in a while I can have a cheat day and order the pizza and Panda Express, but for the most part I have learned that there are healthier options at most restaurants that still taste pretty good.

And there are healthier options for me to cook at home, where my lack of willpower isn’t such an obstacle. I only buy healthy foods and try to cook at home most of the week, eliminating the temptation of bad foods.

The word “diet” is so negative. Just saying it makes me miserable. I want to live a healthier lifestyle, a lifestyle that I can actually accomplish and stick too long term, not just for 24 days or a few months. I recently found a FB page that I love called “This is not a diet – this is your life”, and I think her message is great!

I have 11 lbs to go until I reach my first goal weight and obtain a “healthy” BMI. Using what I learned from Advocare, I think that is a realistic possibility for me in the next 2-3 months.

I’m down 10 lbs. since I started this journey in January, it’s slow progress, but at least it’s in the right direction!

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighborhood

Here it is. San Diego, CA

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Unlike most military families, we have lived in San Diego County for my husband’s entire military career.

I moved down to San Diego in August 2007 to go to college at San Diego State. I lived on campus in the dorms…crazy experience, but one I think every freshman should have.

I then moved in with two of my friends from college to an apartment about 15 minutes north of campus. Jeremy was living in the barracks at Camp Pendleton about 45-60 minutes away and would come see me every weekend at my apartment. I lived in the living room of a 3-bedroom apartment with 3 other girls. Oh the joy of being a poor college student lol. I paid $450 and put up a curtain haha

After Jeremy and I got married we moved up to Escondido, about 1/2 way between my school and Camp Pendleton (the gray area at the very top left corner of the map). We lived there for 2 years until Jeremy got tired of the commute.

When I started graduate school we moved to Oceanside, where Camp Pendleton is located and I commuted the 60 minutes to San Diego State 2x a week for classes.

January 2012, Jeremy got order to MCAS Miramar (that’s the grey area on the center of the map). We were VERY lucky to be able to get a local duty station change so I could finish up graduate school. I don’t know what I would have done if they had sent him to another state with me being just 1/4 of the way through my 2-year program.

So here we are, coming up on 6 years of living in paradise.

I don’t want to settle down in San Diego, and I would not want to raise a family here, but I must say, it’s not a bad place to be stationed for a few years 🙂

I hear a lot of military spouses complaining about their duty station. Maybe I see things different because I chose to move to San Diego and wasn’t forced to because of my husband’s job, but I think in most cases a duty station is what you make of it. If you think it is going to suck, it will probably suck. But if you think it will be fun, and you try to find things you enjoy and take advantage of what is around you, then you will have a much better experience.

And when I hear fellow military wives complain about San Diego I can’t help by laugh. Your going to complain about living somewhere that people pay to come to on vacation?! Seriously?! I promise you, it could be MUCH worse.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

This weeks Weekly Photo Challenge is Forward.

There are many ways you could interpret this, I’ve chosen to blog about the next major event in my life that I am looking forward to: Graduation

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My undergraduate graduation, May 2011. San Diego State University

In 83 days I will be walking across the same stage that I walked across two years ago when I got my BA in Psychology.

On May 17th, I will finally have my Masters of Social Work, a goal I have been working towards for 6 years.

I love college and I love learning, but I will be a very happy woman when I have that degree in my hand and I can start my career.

I have been so lucky that Jeremy has supported me though college. I’m not sure I would have had the opportunity to go to graduate school without him. He supported me when I quit my job to pursue graduate school full time. He has always encouraged me and been my cheer leader when I’ve been swamped with papers and exams.

He missed my undergrad ceremony by 5 days when he was deployed to Afghanistan, but this year he will be up in the audience when I receive my diploma!