Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Day at the Horse Park

I spent most of my Saturday working, but that work was made a little better since I was doing it at the Kentucky Horse Park, a truly wonderful place.  Acres of rolling green fields broken up by white fences and beautiful horses.  I feel lucky to get to hang out here occasionally.

I'm living (temporarily) in Kentucky for a work project which is nearing completion,  With today marking the end of August, I just have 6 weeks left here, and as much as I'm looking forward to moving home, I'm going to miss this beautiful part of the world.

I listened to this on my way to work today and was reminded why I love Arcade Fire

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Monday, August 30, 2010

I Heart Your Blog

Last week, the oh-so-talented (and funny) R. Montalban surprised me with an "I Heart Your Blog" award. R Montalban has the most fantastic adventures, an adorable little boy, a very handsome husband and I love checking up on her adventures every day, I always leave her blog with a smile on my face.  Along with the award she paid me perhaps the most beautiful compliment ever, I'm still blushing to be described as being like velvet.  I've also had a chance to check out the other blogs she mentioned, and I can say I'm honored to be mentioned along with them.  Thank you so much R Montalban for such a sweet award!

The hard part of receiving this award is picking just five blogs to pass it on to.  I'm a mad-blog-reader and have a long list of places I love to check in with so limiting it to just five is not easy.  I'm going to try and pick some of the newer blogs I've discovered.

  • First up is Caroline over at Constantly Evolving.  I discovered her blog mid-way through her project to photograph 30 Strangers.  I've been amazed by the beautiful portraits she's created and inspired by the courage it takes to walk up to a perfect stranger and ask to take his or her photo.  I keep hoping a little of her courage (and skills) will rub off on my just by reading her blog.
  • A Scottish gal, HazyDaisy, says she's taking an August Break on her blog, but still post at least one amazing photo every day.  If only all our breaks could be so productive!  
  • Suki is a beautiful photographer and nurse who posts the most amazing photos and consistently introduces me to amazing new songs and artist - which of course I LOVE!  Suki is German and not only manages to blog every day, she blogs in both German and English, and her posts are always thought provoking and lovely.
  • Gibknitty over at Urban Muser a NYC girl who takes and posts amazing photos of New York, the kind that make me want to book a trip there straight away.  She also happens to be a talented knitter and cook, two talents I'm completely lacking, but I love reading about her projects/meals and dreaming of a time I might accomplish something similar.
  • Finally, Kristine, from Blue Elephant Photography, who creates the most dreamy photos!  I love dropping in on her blog because I know I'll come away smiling and inspired.  
I could keep listing fantastic blogs for pages, but I'm the type who follows the rules, so I'll stop now, but with a note encouraging you to drop in on the blogs of these beautiful women, I promise you'll come away inspired.  

All this blog love (and the talented women involved) got me thinking about the two talented sisters who formed the core of Heart, here's one of my favorites of theirs:

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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Orient

I don't know about the other participants, but when I saw this weeks prompt I was afraid I was going to come up blank.  I toyed with going back to some of my photos from Asia, but after going that direction and cheating a bit last week, I was determined to come up a photo I'd actually taken this week for the prompt.

I did what had worked in the past and tried to keep my mind open, and eventually I found something.

As I walked through the park I noticed this bench under the tree.  Unlike nearly all the other benches in the park, it wasn't set up along the path facing in, so you could sit and watch the people.  Instead this bench was set far from the path and "oriented" towards the tree, with its back facing the path and main areas of the park.  I can imagine a person sitting there on the bench, staring in at the tree, meditating on life and love.   What a perfect place to ponder the direction of life.

If I were to sit on the bench for a while, I think I might be listening to this:

Did you see my weekly, Life's Soundtrack post over at Kim Klassen's Inspiration Studio?  If not, hop over and check it out.  We're discussing songs that take you back to your school years.

A big thank you to Kristine of Blue Elephant Photography (an AMAZING photographer) and Melanie (a VERY talented artist) from Ewe Hooo! for the awesome shout-outs on their blogs this week.  Their kind words had me blushing.  Thanks ladies.  If you are looking for new blogs to fill your reader, drop in on them, you'll find something you love. Pin It

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to be Alone

A few weeks ago Clare posted an amazing video, How to be Alone, on her blog.  In random moments I find myself thinking about it, how beautiful it was and how proud I am to say that I've managed to accomplish most of the suggestions found in it.

Don't get me wrong, I love being with people.  I enjoy meeting people and the conversations you have with people you've known for years and those you have with people you meet in line at the grocery store.  But there are times when being alone is a glorious gift.  I still need to work up the courage to go dancing alone, but it doesn't sound completely impossible after watching this a few time.

Do you enjoy alone time?  Have you ever dared the movie theatre on your own?  A cafe?

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Setting the Scene

One last arboretum post, but in this case I saved the best for last.  As I walked through the gardens I noticed a table covered in plants with a tea pot and cups.  I started looking closer and realized it was an entire Alice in Wonderland scene that had been set up in the garden.  Just looking at it made me happy!  I took a ton of pictures trying to find the perfect angle and to capture the whimsy of the scene.

My only complaint - I think they need a larger cheshire cat.

A little further down the path I was surprised by a scene that was even more fitting for a garden in Kentucky.  A chair with hat, gloves, gardening tools with a bottle of bourbon waiting for the tired gardener.

I felt like the arboretum gardeners had set the scene just for me.  

As I worked on what felt like an endless series of reports today, the Chris Martin/Michael Stipe version of "In the Sun" came on.  I found myself returning to the song several times.  It seemed to help me focus and relax, just like my weekend stroll through the arboretum did.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Arboretum - Macro Style

We may be in the dog days of summer, but I still managed to find some beautiful flowers at the arboretum. They may be a little faded and showing their age, but there is real beauty to be found.  I spent quite a bit of time capturing macro shots of some of my favorites.  Yellow roses are one of my favorite flowers, especially when they are a soft yellow and tipped with peach.

But I also love bright happy flowers like the one above.  I especially love the little flowers that make up the inside.

But my favorite one this trip, was this pink rose.  I love the darker dots which I'm sure some would consider damage, but to me, they are what makes this flower unique and beautiful.

Do you have a favorite flower? Do you prefer elegant roses, mysterious orchids or happy daisies?

Another old school song that made my playlist at the arboretum - Steve Earle's "Good-bye."

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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Last Weekend

With the knowledge that this was my last true weekend for a couple months (the project I'm working is heating up.)  I made a list of the things I wanted to do.  It was a short list, but I wanted to end the weekend knowing I'd made the most of it.  First up, catch up on a bit of sleep.   I accomplished this by sleeping in 'til 11 Saturday, something that is nearly unheard of for me.

Next up, some creative time.  I took my camera to one of my favorite places in Lexington, the Arboretum.  It felt so good to spend some time in the garden with nothing to worry about other than how to make a good photo.

Then it was time for a little pampering.  I hit my favorite manicure place for a pedicure and a catch up on the gossip magazines.  While there I put aside my lady-like soft pink toe nail polish and replaced it with sassy teal polish.  Just the thing to put a little zing in my step.

I fit in some of the normal weekend stuff too - things like laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping.  But I also made time to sit down with photoshop and finally figure out how to use textures (thanks to Kim K. for the great textures.) 

The arboretum called out for a little old school music, including Rickie Lee Jones:

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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Ethereal

This week's prompt quickly made me think of children or delicate flowers or lace but I wanted something a bit different.  So I began thinking about the first half of the definition - heavenly or celestial, which then took me to my amazing weekend in Thailand and the temples that literally covered Chiang Mai.

One of my favorites was this crumbling ruin, which is pretty much the opposite of anything delicate or dainty, and yet it was built with heavenly thoughts in mind.  It was built thousands of years ago and still stands (at least in part.)  In this very sold structure prayers and meditations were sent up for thousands of years.

While coming up with a picture was difficult for this week's assignment, the song was easy.  No one's voice is as ethereal as Alison Krauss'

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Excitement comes in threes

I had three reasons today to do a happy dance - and that constitutes a pretty great day.

It started this morning when Kim Klassen sent me a note telling my post had gone up over at Inspiration Studio.  I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be posting there each Thursday.  So, if you haven't already, pop over and check the blog out, I promise you'll come away inspired, Kim has put together a great group of bloggers, a group I'm honored (and floored) to be a part of.  If you missed her Inspiration Stay-cation two weeks ago, the good news is you can still participate.  Kim has put together an incredible, interactive ebook you can purchase and follow along at your own pace - and yes my very first guest post is included, I can't quite believe something I wrote is in a book, (Mrs. Burr, my favorite English teacher, would be so proud.)

Then, this afternoon I discovered that my cupcake photo I posted earlier this week was featured on Mortal Muses' Everyday Beauty page!   There are so many talented photographers participating at Mortal Muse, to think that my photo is included - wow what a rush.  And it is doubly sweet since the star of the photo (and the model for that matter) was made by my sister.

Finally, I stopped at Target on my way home this evening to pick up Ray LaMontagne's new CD - on sale for $7.99, that's less than you can get it on iTunes folks - so if you are a fan, head on over and pick it up.  Here's a sneak peak:

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A little mumbling going on

I spent an hour in the dentist chair last night, never a fun thing.  I came away with a mouth so numb that I'm pretty sure I was drooling when I stopped at the grocery store on the way home.  It's times like these I'm glad I live in an unfamiliar city where the chances of running into someone I know are practically nil.

My mumbling attempts to talk on the phone reminded me of a band I've been meaning to write a post about: Mumford & Son (get it mumbling to Mumford?  maybe the gave me something a little stronger than I realized.)

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wild Animals?

I had forgotten how much fun it can be to go to the zoo!  We had perfect weather in Salt Lake last week as we headed off to see the animals.

The little ones started the day in the stroller, but with excitement all around, that didn't last long.

This photo almost ended up as my entry for last week's Sunday Creative Challenge - raw.  We had BBQ Turkey last weekend and I couldn't help but think that this was the true definition of raw, but it felt a bit morbid and I missed the deadline.

I love peacocks - the gorgeous colors.  I secretly want to decorate a room on a peacock theme.

Our favorite stop was the elephants - because of the newest arrival.  Isn't she cute?

A good time was had by all.

I've been loving this song, "Animal" from Utah band - Neon Trees.  Isn't it nice that Utah music is starting to mean more than the Osmonds?

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Very Dora Birthday

My clever and talented sister N organized an adorable birthday party for my niece.  It was her first friend party, and my sister made it perfect.  Miss M may just be the biggest Dora fan ever, so the theme was a given.  From the decorations to the hand drawn map (way to go T) to guide the kids through the activities to the perfect cupcakes the party was a big hit.

I'm so glad I got home in time to share in the fun.

I've been looking for a chance to share a little Leona Naess, so here goes:

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Monday, August 16, 2010

A Perfect Pair

I spent a glorious long weekend at home with my family, it was just what I needed to get me through the next couple of busy months, until I get to move home again.  I'm not exaggerating when I say I spent the most time with my niece Miss M.  She's decided she quite likes me, and I love her like crazy, so we became a pair, it was rare for one of us to be without the other.

We managed to fit in two birthday parties, a visit to the zoo and the aquarium and yet still found time to play the games I loaded to my iPhone just for her.  As we'd sit together I found myself singing the new Sugarland song, "Stuck Like Glue" not only is it a great song, it was the perfect fit for me and Miss M this weekend (and hopefully for many days into the future.)

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Friday, August 13, 2010

New Experiences

If, like me, you like to spend time pouring over home decor blogs, you've no doubt seen La Dolce Vita.  Such a beautiful blog, I found so many house dreams there, if only I had unlimited time and money.  In addition to lovely home decor there is a weekly quote that almost always brightens my day.  A few weeks ago a quote by Lawrence K. Fish was featured:

Find life experiences and swallow them whole.
Meet many people.
Go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys.
Try everything.
Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.

Isn't it gorgeous advice, imagine if we lived every day this way?

I picked up a new album on iTunes last week from a fellow Utah girl - Mindy Gledhill.  I'm loving it.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

A New Discovery

For music this week I've been busy checking out the artists and songs that were recommended last week on my guest post at Kim Klassen's Stay-cation site, including an artists I've never heard of before:  Ellie Goulding.  She's great and I have no idea how I've missed out on her music before now.

I've found other great new songs and artists thanks to the fellow music lovers who posted comments.  What about you?  Any new musical discoveries lately? Pin It

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homeward Bound

Miss M's 2nd Birthday

I'm a very happy girl today.

I'm headed home for a long weekend with my family.

It does feel like I was just there (because I was) but I'm looking forward to going back again, this time for a happier occasion - Miss M's 3rd birthday.  She's my favorite little girl, and while I know I'm biased, I think she's pretty incredible.  Her mom reports that she's come to the airport enough times now to pick me up that when she sees an airplane she asks if it is "Jamie's oar-o-plane."   In other news, we finally got her to say a few words to me on the phone - a major accomplishment, since all past attempts were made up of her demanding to talk to me, getting the phone and standing there silent, then handing the phone to her mom and then running to hide.  I am the very definition of a proud Auntie.

This song from my favorite new artist is perfect for today:

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dirty Secret

I spent some time over the weekend indulging in a guilty pleasure, watching episodes of "Dirty Jobs."  It's one of my favorite time wasters, and while it has been known to seriously gross me out at times, there is something about Mike Rowe that pulls me into the show and keeps me coming back for more.  Maybe if it is his voice - which is so incredible I find myself even enjoying Ford commercials.  Maybe it is fearless attitude - it seems like he'll try anything.  Maybe because even my worst day at work can't measure up to the jobs he tries.  Maybe it is just the fact that it involves very little thought on my part and yet isn't quite as embarrassing to admit to enjoying as some of the other reality shows out there.

Am I the only one out there who has a bit of a crush on Mike Rowe?  Have you ever wasted several hours on episodes of "Dirty Jobs?"

Speaking of crushes, after all these years I still have one on Bono.

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Monday, August 9, 2010


A few weeks ago I came across poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien for his "Lord of the Rings" books.  I haven't been able to get it out of my head.  Each line seems to call out to a different aspect of my personality, a different challenge that day, or a different emotion I struggle with. I've probably spent the most time thinking about the second line - not all those who wander are lost.  I feel like a wander at times, and I this line reminds me that as different as my life is, it is a choice and one that has been rewarding.  When bouts of homesickness hit - I need this reminder.

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.

When I was a teenager there was a country singer who played a concert in my high school - since I'm from a very small town a concert is a pretty big deal.  Of course we all bought his music - and one of my favorites had to have been based on this poem.  I remember listen to this song in my room, with the lights out, letting the music flow over me, it was so sad.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

The Sunday Creative - Shapely

I'm amazed at how hard it was to get back on tack with the weekly challenge after missing a week.  I struggled to come up with a concept, nothing seemed right.  So at work yesterday I wandered around the office looking for anything shapely, figuring I would grab some quick photos at lunch.  I'm not blown away by anything I captured, but I loved the discipline it took to keep working at it, trying different items, different angles and later different processing.

I think a big part of challenges isn't to come up with something perfect every time, but to keep trying.  To experiment - and sometimes to fail.  I feel comfortable at work talking about how some of the most important lessons I've every learned are because I've made a mistake - but why is it when it comes to being creative those mistakes and failures seem so much more personal?  My goal - to go a bit easier on myself and just keep trying, how else am I going to improve.

That being said  - her is my take at this week's prompt - shapely:

Heard this band, Atomic Toxic Event,  on the radio this morning - and thought they sounded new and fresh, have you heard of them yet?   I think after a day or two spent with more mellow music I needed something a little strong to kick off the weekend.

Thank you all for your support and kind words on my guest posting gig, it was so much fun!
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Concert Extras

Two of my top five concert experiences have been at wineries - there is something about the beautiful setting that makes the music even sweeter - even if the weather doesn't always cooperate.  A few years ago I saw The Corrs at a winery in Washington State where the rain poured until minutes before the concert started.  Still it was worth being damp.  Here in Kentucky, for the Mary Chapin Carpenter concert, the problem was extreme heat, and yet it was worth a little sweat.

Before the concert I wandered a bit to capture a few photos.  What a beautiful setting, I'm going to watch their concert line-up, I wouldn't mind going back again.

We fell a bit in love with the opening act, a new artist out of Nashville, who coincidently grew up on a winery, Ruth Collins.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guest Posting

I'm guest posting today at Kim Klassen's Inspiration Stay-cation - you should have seen my happy dance when I received her email asking me to contribute - I was beyond honored. She asked me to write about music and how it inspires, one of my favorite topics. I also shared a bucket load of music, so if you are looking for something new to listen to this week, hop on over and check out my recommendations.

Here's a sneak peek - a song I posted here a while back as a quick aside because I liked it and it fit the theme of my post. Since then I've fallen completely in love with the song and think it deserves more attention.  How can you listen to this song and not fall a bit in love.

If you are visiting from Kim's site - a very warm welcome.  I hope you stay a while and find even more music to inspire you.

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Dream Concert

A couple of weeks ago one of my musical dreams came true, I got to see Mary Chapin Carpenter in concert.  I've never been shy about my love of her music so when a friend mentioned she was playing at a local winery in a few weeks I started asking around until I found someone else interested in seeing the show.

Let's just say it was well worth the money.  She played a good mix of new and old music and I was reminded yet again why she is one of my favorites.  She writes intelligent, literate songs that speak to my soul.

Here's one of my favorites:

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Greatest Mistake

I saw this quote a few weeks ago on one of my favorite blogs, Smart Pretty Awkward and haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you will make one."  
Elbert Hubbard

I can't help but think of all those times when I've been paralyzed, so afraid I'd make a mistake that I couldn't move forward.  Sometimes over something really silly like what color to paint a wall, other times over more important things like what job to take or what city to move to.  But with the benefit of hindsight I can say I don't regret the choices I've made (even those that didn't work out so well, because at least I learned a lesson.)  What I really regret are the opportunities I've missed because I was too afraid to make the choice.

Have you heard the new song from Sara Bareilles yet?  I'm kind of in love with it.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

A New Crush

I have a new musical crush.

I had a lazy weekend thanks to a pesky cold, so I used Hulu to catch up on a little TV, including the latest episode of "Friday Night Lights."  I heard a gorgeously haunting song that I had to track down by a guy named Dan Auerbach called "When the Night Comes."

I found myself digging through YouTube looking for more and my crush is starting to bloom into full blown love.  He fits in well with some of my other great loves: Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, Alexi Murdoch and The Avett Brothers.  Check him out, I think you'll be glad you did.

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