Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Different Way of Thinking

My brain is always working, trying to figure out how to finance the sunroom I've always wanted, or how to buy the hot tub Mr. Tide and I would both enjoy slipping into after a long day of yard work.  So I'm always thinking about the next story I can write or the next photo shoot I can do.  I'm what you might call and expert schemer!

This can be frustrating at times, especially since the economy has had a major impact on print media.  Almost all publications have tightened up their belts in order to stay afloat, and as we all know, some of our beloved magazines could no longer keep all of the plates up in the air, and they went under.

I've been lucky, even though I could never pay the bills on my own with my writing and photography alone, I've been able to help at least a little.  Writers don't really make heaps of money, though I think that some people think they do...and no one wishes this was true more than me!

So about 6 months ago, I decided to pursue photography which is more lucrative, but the competition is even more fierce than that of a freelance writer, so I knew that it would be an uphill battle.  My goal was to maybe work for a few magazines in time, and to do some fine art photography with a little portrait work too.  People, like my friend Fifi O'Neill, and the editors at several other magazines have been SO good to me!  Fifi believed in me and gave me my first opportunity when I shot some bedding for Romantic Country, and then the Ekster Barn shoot, and for both of those assignments I will be forever thankful!

I know a lot of people look at Fifi and think, wow I wish I lived her life.  Trust me, she works like a dog, and way harder than I would ever want to.  She is constantly on the road and schlepping heavy furniture and accessories hither and yon to get the perfect shot, so I don't envy her, but I do admire her!!

Today, while sitting at my make-up mirror I began to think, something I always do, but today it was different.  Instead of thinking about what I "need" or "want" I began thinking about the way I think about things.

Last night Mr. Tide and I spent the whole evening just hanging out.  First we went out in the kayaks and  it was a perfect evening.  When we got back we went for a dip in the neighbors pool and that was wonderfully relaxing.  As we floated around in the pool we talked about how nice it would be to have our own pool...or that elusive hot tub.  And of course that conversation always gives way to our need for a truck, college tuition, and all of the other "stuff" that is a priority over the fun extraneous things we have to pay for in life.

So this morning as I revisited our "wouldn't it be nice to have" conversation from last night, it dawned on me...I've been looking at life the wrong way.  I've been out there trying to grab the brass ring when it's been sitting here in front of me the whole time.

Now if you think I'm going to wax poetic on appreciating everything I have, I hate to disappoint you because I'm not.  I do appreciate every single thing I have, most of all my family and their health and happiness, but there are still things I want.  Things like a hot tub that I know would do both Mr. Tide and me some good, so I need to figure out how to make those things happen and so far what I'm doing hasn't been working.

I have to face facts that editors aren't lining up to use my photos and the stories aren't going to get any more steady.  So what's a girl to do?  Well I sat down with our latest credit card bill and began formulating a plan.  We use our credit card to buy almost everything because we pay it off each month and we get cash back, so it makes sense to use it.

I have to admit that I was amazed, and frankly a bit appalled by our spending habits.  So I'm taking the reins, cutting the fat, and getting back to basics so that we can afford a few of the luxuries in life.  Our biggest area for cutting back...eating out!  So Panera, I love your Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, but for now we will have to just be once a month friends!  And Target, you know I adore your pretty kitchen products in lovely bottles, but you gotta go hun, since I'm the only one who admires you I can go with something a little less attractive.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and I "need" a hot tub, and a few new lenses, and a truck.  Not that those things are going to be bought with some simple cost cutting techniques, but every little bit helps, and in time I know I'll get all of those things.  But more importantly I hope to get my life back!

All of the time I spend contacting galleries to represent my work, sending off query letters to magazines, creating vignettes on my blog in hopes I'll catch someone's eye can now be spent on staying close to home, working in my yard, kayaking, and enjoying what I already have while saving money.

When I first stated my blog, I remember visiting another woman's blog and reading her post.  She was stopping her blog and in that post she wrote about how she wanted to get back to doing the things that inspired her to start her blog in the first her case it was running.  At the time I remember thinking, "what, give up your blog, but it's so much fun, why would you do that?"  Now I get it.

I'm not giving up my blog, I don't feel like I need to do something that extreme, but I will be making some changes.  I won't spend nearly as much time online, it just isn't good for me, and I won't take pictures because I think someone else might like them, I will take them because I like them.  I also won't browse stores, both online and in real life and think to myself, "oh that would be perfect for a blog post on _____________!"  

How many of us out there in blog land have spent money that could have been better used some place else in order to create a post that other people would like?!  If you haven't ever done that, well good for you, but I have, and I'm done now.  The question then your blog running you, or are you running your blog?!

So see that pretty little seagull container in the pictures above?  Well it will be my last "me" purchase for awhile.  It came from one of my favorite stores, Traditions of Loveville, and I love it, but the truth is I didn't "need" it.  And I have 2 portrait shoots scheduled this week, so I'm getting "real" about what can and can't make me money as a photographer.  If the magazine editors start calling, well that would be great, but I can't sit here on the computer feeding a dream that may never materialize.  Instead, I will hone my craft whatever way I can knowing that it will all pay off in the long run.

And that hot tub will become a reality, just not right now.  But when it does...those jets will feel mighty good, kind of like finding my way a little bit this morning as I move into a new and different way of thinking!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bringing the Outside In

After I posted the dragonfly pictures and video yesterday, I started thinking about how we incorporate elements of nature into interior design and decor, jewelry, and all sorts of accessories, both for our homes and for our wardrobes.  And as I wandered around my house, I realized that my love of dragonflies extends far beyond my picture taking.

These are the pulls in my master bathroom.  I bought them 4 years ago at Lowes to dress up the all white vanity.   I never noticed it before, but their shadow casts a golden glow behind them when the sun hits them during the day, so pretty!

I love how designers will take something in nature and create a beautiful item for us to adorn ourselves or our homes with...

Like these earrings which I've had for years.  I wore them yesterday without even thinking about it since they are a favorite of mine.

Or this carved rock that sits on my back patio.  My in-laws gave it to me a few years ago, and I love the color and the dragonfly motif!

Apparently this little dragonfly sensed my love of his or her brethren...maybe it was the earrings?!

I even have dragonfly notecards.  This lovely set from Papyrus was a gift from my daughter.  I love how the gold foil accents the details of the dragonfly!

I'm also happy Jo, that you saw the post yesterday, but I'm sorry I made you cry! :-(  Please send me an email if you get the chance, I have a little something I would like to send you.

In other BIG news, be sure to pop by Karen from This Old House 2's blog for her Dog Days Bid & Bark Sale!

She has some great items for sale to try and raise money for a local Shelter Dogs & Puppies Adoption Event to be held in August!  You know how dogs are very near and dear to my heart, so I've donated one of my framed floral prints!

To purchase this print (which is framed in a distressed shabby chic frame and features one of my 8 x 10 white pitcher prints, the overall frame size is 17 1/2 wide by 15 1/2 tall), and to see all of the other great items up for sale, click HERE

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dream a Little Dream

I'm zooming around trying to get 2 stories done, and we have a contract on my parent's house...YAY!  So that means inspections and meeting with people to get everything nailed down, but we are so happy!  The people buying the house couldn't be more perfect, and I know my parents would be pleased, so you can't ask for more than that.  We've bought and sold a few houses in our time, so I try not to get too excited until everything is on the dotted line and we hand the keys over, so please say a little prayer for us that everything goes as smooth as silk.

Thanks so much for all of your wonderful comments on my last post about my not so pretty garage, it's good to know that I'm not alone!  And I apologize for not returning emails and comments, but I should be back on track after the holiday weekend.

Yesterday, I went down to the dock for a brief respite from everything else that is going on and like a good bloggy girl I took the camera with me.  I was pleasantly surprised by all of the sweet dragonflies that were having a grand time down by the water.  They are so fast, and their colors are just gorgeous!  I was able to capture a few types of blue ones (they had different patterns on their wings) and the brightest neon green ones, but the red ones eluded me...maybe next time!

I've put together a little video of these delicate creatures, who seemed to almost pose for me.  This video is dedicated to Jo...if you are reading this Jo, I hope these dragonflies will remind you of your husband and bring a smile to your face!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Do Ya Think About That

Today has been spent outside working on the yard.

Since my father died almost 4 years ago, we've been helping to take care of 3 houses and 3 yards.  The task has been split mostly between my sister "M" and her family and us, and let's just say that when you are taking care of that much land, things tend to get neglected somewhere.  Last summer my sister did all of the mowing at the other properties, including the farm which has 20 acres, and she is the most weary of all of us when it comes to doing weekly lawn maintenance.

This summer, we've been way behind on getting flowers planted and our front porch and back patio ready to go for the season.  We've had bigger fish to fry with getting my parent's house on the market and trying to tackle the grape vine that had taken over one section of our yard.

Grapevine is some very nasty stuff my friends, and we really needed to tackle removing it because it was killing everything in its path, including the trees!  So we yanked and pulled and ripped it from the poor little trees that were barely hanging on with their branches reaching straight up in an effort to escape the clasp of the vines.  You could almost hear them breath a sigh of relief as we removed the suffocating vines from their branches.  Once the vines were gone we could set about over seeding that part of the yard...just in time for the drought, our timing is always impeccable when it comes to this sort of thing!

This weekend we should be at the farm mowing and also tending to the yard up at my parent's house, but the big tractor is broke 'd broke, so that meant we could focus on our yard and our house for the entire weekend!  The mower part will arrive on Monday from a dealership about 2 hours north of us.  We were going to drive up to pick it up, but with the price of gas, the $12 shipping fee sounded just fine to us, so we'll have to wait until Monday to get the mower deck fixed.

This morning, Mr. Tide and I lingered in bed for about a half hour, and then reality set in and we got going on everything that needed to be done around here.

When we go about doing yard work, I have my priorities and he has his, and most of the time they mesh up pretty well.  Today's chores included weeding, watering, potting, digging, and beautifying the porch and patio.  By now, we usually have all of my favorite garden items out and about, but this year they have been tucked in the dark recesses of the garage waiting patiently.

While we were out weeding, a few of our neighbors came walking down the road.  We live on a private lane with only 5 houses, so these neighbors live just up the road a bit, though we really all consider ourselves part of the same neighborhood...without the actual "hood" part!

As they were coming down the road Mr. Tide decided he needed something from the garage aka the he%# hole!  I looked at him and said, "really?!, did you HAVE to open the door right then?!"  He knows the rules...the door stays closed, because what people can't see, can't hurt them! ;-)

Our garage is our dirty little secret, the kind that only your closest friends can know about.  When we moved here, we left behind a 5 bedroom home with an oversized 2 car garage that had attic space over the entire garage.  We even installed a door in our bedroom for easy access to our attic, so our garage was always neat and clean (relatively speaking) and we parked both our cars in there.

Ahh, those were the days my friends, when scorching heat, rain, sleet, and snow didn't phase us, because we rested comfortably in the knowledge that our cars were safe and comfy in their little garage.

This house on the other hand has NO attic and 3 bedrooms, are you getting the picture?  Sure we got rid of a lot of stuff when we moved, but not quite enough, so our garage has become the black hole where everything that doesn't fit inside ends up being smashed, jammed, and dumped into it!

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not OCD and need my paint cans to all face the same way or anything like that, and our recent cleaning spree did put a bit of a dent into the mess that is the garage, but we are talking major undertaking, so a dent "ain't" gonna cut it if you know what I mean!

So why worry about a few neighbors seeing our "dirty" laundry so to speak?!  Well these weren't just any neighbors.  Oh they are really nice people, and I'm guessing they could really care less, but they just happen to be the people in the neighborhood that have gorgeous homes and immaculate yards...and I'm betting garage floors that you can eat off of...yikes!  One of them even owns a local nursery, so maybe their lawn implements are all neatly lined up and color coded...I don't know, but I do know that that garage door of ours came down in a mighty big hurry...get my drift?!

Mr. Tide found all of this quite amusing, except for the dirty look I threw his way when he opened the door at a most inopportune time, according to moi!  He looked at me and said, "this is real life," and then asked, "are you not ready for real life?"...and I had to stop a moment and take that comment in to my heat seared brain.

I wondered if the Osprey and Eagles get freaked out when a neighbor bird flies over and sees that their nest is a complete mess?!  Or how about the spiders, do they talk about another spider's web if it's not perfectly symmetrical?  The truth is, we are all imperfect, whether it be a garage or whatever, but that's what makes us perfect!

Oh, and I love this quote!  "No one is perfect, that's why pencils have erasers!"

Below is my new anthem...and I'm betting this is how some of my neighbors would think about us if they could only see inside our garage!! ;-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chatty Cathy

When I was a little girl my parents bought me a Chatty Cathy doll.  I loved that doll and spent hours pulling the string that made her recite a handful of sayings.  Even though my name was spelled differently, and my parents often called me Katherine not Kathy or Kat, or Kath like my other family and friends, I just knew that that doll was made especially for me.

In case you haven't noticed, I talk a, I mean it, I talk a WHOLE lot!  Mr. Tide once told me that he thought I could talk to anyone...or anything for that matter, and he is right!

Today, Connie from Hartwood Roses met me in the town of La Plata, Maryland.  It's kind of halfway in between where she lives and where I live, with Connie having a little bit longer drive to get there.  We decided last week that we could both use a girls afternoon out and that as exhausted as she was from her daughter's wedding a few weekends ago, and as crazy as both of our schedules are that we needed a break from real life to chat it up.

The thing is, I tend to do a lot of the chatting, and Connie, the saint that she is, does a lot of nodding and squeezes in a word edgewise every now and then.  She knows that when I'm under lots of stress, like I am right now with trying to sell my parent's house, on deadline for stories, and the fact that my mother in law had hip replacement surgery (that thankfully went off without a hitch), that I will be even more frazzled and even more chatty than usual, but that never seems to bother her...hence the "saint" designation on her part!

After lunch at Panera, we headed to Waldorf Pottery, which is located just north of La Plata in an area known as White Plains, Maryland.

I hadn't been here for awhile, years in fact, and once we got out of the car I wondered why the heck it had taken me so long to come back.

They had gorgeous plants, not the droopy, sickly looking plants you sometimes find at a nursery, but the kind you want to fill up the back of your truck with and hurry home to plant them.

And it's not just the plants that are wonderful, but the vast array of statuary and garden ornaments that they carry.  Around every turn there was something new and interesting to help you create any sort of garden you might want, from a zen garden to a more traditional formal garden.

Connie and I both agreed that we aren't really water feature people, but she and I were both enamored by several of the pretty options they had available.   They had one fountain in particular that I didn't get a shot of that was so unusual and calming, we both loved it!  I also liked this little frog that was hanging out in a small pond underneath a huge white crepe myrtle tree where he could stand watch over the water lilies.

And speaking of water lilies, I nearly lost my footing while taking this photo but thankfully I didn't or I would have fallen face first ie. camera first into the pond.  This was the point in the visit that Connie reminded me why I should have purchased the extended warranty on my camera!  She speaks from experience since she stepped on her last camera...yikes!

I loved how organized all of the plants were, and the variety they had was really amazing. 

I fell in love with this fern, known as a foxtail fern.  Isn't it so unusual looking?!  It was like a fuzzy aloe plant or like Connie said "an asparagus fern from Mars."  At least I think that's what she said because I was probably still talking at the time...

Here's a little more info on the foxtail fern.

I wish I had a nice wall to display some outdoor art on, like this happy go lucky sun!

And if you need a pot, well never fear, Waldorf Pottery has plenty.  Green ones...

Red and orange ones that reminded me of roasted chili peppers...

Bold blue ones...

And earthy glazed ones that ranged from golden brown to turquoise.

At one point we rounded a corner and found this!  A hardy Hibiscus that had blooms the size of dinner plates!  The bloom pictured above was about 10 inches in diameter!  Connie had just mentioned how I should get some "swamp" hibiscus to plant down near the water at my house, something she said that loves to have its feet wet.  It was then that we saw these beauties that do love having their feet wet and will come back year after year, even in my zone!

When I showed Mr. Tide the picture he asked why I didn't buy some.  I told him I would go back to get a few but didn't purchase any today because it would have had to sit in the car and bake while Connie and I hit a few other stores.

It was a scorcher today and while I looked like a drowned rat with hair like the wicked witch of the west...Connie looked like she had been sitting under a large shade tree all day sipping mint juleps!  I don't know how that girl does it, but she never looks tired, or sweaty!

We lingered in the shaded container section of the pottery for a bit to escape the heat.

They also had some lovely ironwork throughout the pottery and I found a trellis that I loved, but Connie assured me that it wouldn't work for my beautiful New Dawn rose that I bought from her last fall, so I will wait and look for a larger one that will give my rose plenty of room to stretch and grow!

After browsing around outside, we moved inside where it was nice and cool to look at the gift area of the pottery.  Connie found a few things to take home, and I'm sure she will show everyone those items in an upcoming post. 


Just as there were lots of things outside I wanted to bring home, the same was true for the inside shop.  I love the metal dragonfly bench you see at the top of the photo.

My mother in law collects stones, and these, which featured phrases and words on them, would be so pretty by themselves or in a grouping.  I love the one that said "Marry Me," wouldn't that be a wonderful way to propose?  To go hand and hand down the beach skipping stones together and then to have your fiance pull a stone with Marry Me on it from their pocket to pop the romantic!

There were lots of pops of aqua and blue throughout the store, and you all know how I love aqua and beach inspired colors!

And see that birdcage in the top right of the picture?  It was huge, but in my head I was planning an entire conservatory around it!

Also in my imaginary conservatory would be a set of these chairs and a marble topped potting table.

And I forget the name of this plant, but the conservatory would be filled with beautiful and unusual flowers all year round.  And I would invite Connie (who I referred to as an Heirloom Rose Farmer today) to come to my house and have a cup of tea and I could talk, and talk, and talk!

If you are ever near White Plains, Maryland, I strongly suggest that you stop by Waldorf Pottery, but just be forewarned, you will want one of almost everything!

And if you want some beautiful heirloom or historic roses from a certain awesome rose "farmer" who will let you blather on for hours, then go here!  Thanks Connie for a wonderful afternoon!