getting in the mood

FOL_Dark and Moody_June Focus

i’m getting in the mood…photographically speaking that it is!

this dark and moody style of photography has become a favorite of mine, and today at focusing on life i am sharing tips for achieving this effect in your photos.

hope you all had a wonderful memorial day weekend.  happy tuesday friends!

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100 days of summer magic


summer magic.

it’s what everyone is selling.  from commercials on tv to ads in magazine.  it’s in every country music video and on everyone’s social media feeds.

even though, technically speaking, summer is still a few weeks away…unofficially, summer starts this weekend.   and l if you count labor day as the unofficial end of summer, that means that summer lasts for 100 days.

i’ve been thinking a lot about summer – or more accurately how not to live a replay of last summer.  and even though everyone talks a big game about summer magic – it looks so easy – i have found the opposite to be true.  while on the outside it might appear to be effortless, in my experience, summer magic starts on the inside.  in my heart.

over the course of the past month or so, i’ve been thinking about what summer magic has looked like in my own life.  and this provided a huge key, because what i realized is that this notion of summer magic, for me anyway, has a strong element of nostalgia attached to it.  so right away, i can see that this sentimental wistfulness has already sort of clouded my judgement.

looking ahead to this summer, i knew i needed to get a little more specific if i wanted to have summer magic in the way my life is right now.  so i started  breaking down what was it about those previous experiences that conjures up these feelings and i found that there were a few commons threads.

common thread #1 – freedom

the last day of school…as a kid it was the best day the year.  three glorious months to sleep in and spend my days watching ‘love boat’ and ‘brady bunch’ reruns.   afternoons at the city pool.  riding bikes, playing with friends, staying out past dark only to come with dirty feet and tangled hair. and then later, with my own child, i lived for the last day of school and freedom from the tyranny of flash card and homework packets.  weekends that weren’t devoted to activities and actually getting to sleep in on saturdays.

more recently however, summer meant that my girl would be coming home from college.  even if it wasn’t for three months, i at least had a few weeks at a time to have her at home.  and now that she’s graduated and working, the best i can hope for is a few weekends here and there.  and that kind of leaves me with a lump in my throat.  it was sort of my undoing last year.

so what does freedom look like now?   how can i capture this feeling of being free from a schedule when there is still work to go to, laundry to fold, and groceries to buy.  is it possible for me to have an afternoon with nothing to do but watch tv or lay by the pool?   can i spend an evening outside without worrying about what needs to be done inside?

when it comes to freedom, the question really becomes, how can i assert my independence from my to-do list?

so here’s the good news.  i am the boss of my to-do list.  i get to choose (to some degree) what goes on it and it’s up to me to enforce it. this is an ongoing struggle for me, but i am up for the challenge.  because this is how i get freedom back in my life.

common thread #2 – adventure

as a kid, my family didn’t take ‘vacations’ in the traditional sense of the work.  but rather, every summer, my parents would take some time off to go to missouri to spend time with family.  and often, my little brother and i would stay for a week with either my grandparents (on my dad’s side) or with my great-grandmother (my mom’s side).  as i recall – it was always exciting…my mom would get home from work friday afternoon and get everything together for the car ride.  my dad would get home later in the evening and we pack up in the car and head down the highway.  driving at night, we would pass through all of the familiar landmarks with a feeling of excitement and expectation.

depending on where we stayed, there was always something to explore.  with my grandparents we would accompany my grandpa to the grocery store and look for his particular favorite brand of bologna.  then come home and watch as he would cut it into thick slices and pull off the red ring of casing in one motion.  and at granny’s house, there was always something to explore on her farm.  i loved inspecting her collection of salt & pepper shakers in the corner cabinet of her dining room.  and it was always fun riding in the car with her as she sped down the down dusty, gravel roads on the way to ‘town’.

once i married tripp, adventure took on a entirely new meaning – my husband’s wanderlust and love of travel has taken us to some amazing places.  it’s that same feeling of excitement and expectation.  seeing something new and enjoying new experiences.

but i’m wondering, is it possible to experience this same feeling of excitement and anticipation all summer and not just the days and weeks leading up to vacation?

the question is…how can i incorporate a sense of adventure in my ordinary days? 

once again, the good news here is that summer (out of all the seasons) offers a myriad of ways to get out of the rut i often find myself in.  to say yes to evenings out with girlfriends.  to grab tripp’s hand and head down to the wine bar down the street and enjoy a cocktail while sitting on the patio.  or even something as adventurous as trying a new recipe or a new restaurant.  there is adventure to be found at home, sometimes it just looks a little different.

common thread #3 – connection

i specifically recall one evening as a kid – i might have been 5 or 6 – i was outside in the front yard with my parents and little brother.  it was the golden hour…of course (when all magical things are possible).  my dad had finished mowing and was enjoying a cold beer on the porch.  it was hot…sticky.  at one point, while i was practicing my cartwheels, my mom proudly proceeds to share that, when she was younger, she could do a front handspring.  then she backs up, takes a running start and, to everyone’s amazement, she leapt and flipped and landed and stood up with a huge grin. i’m smiling now as i type this… it was the sweetest thing.

as an adult with my own child, i loved summer evenings in our neighborhood.  i loved watching the kids play out front.  i loved how all of the adults would congregate in someone’s driveway.  little, impromptu gatherings of lawn chairs, grabbing beers out of someone’s fridge.  savoring these magical childhood moments.

notice that in both of these scenarios, there was no screen involved.   i didn’t take a million pictures of it.  i didn’t blog about it or share it on instagram.  but even without any photographic evidence, it does’t matter….it was real.  all of these moments live in my head – my HEART.

so the question for me is, how can i stay connected to what is real? 

the answer to that is easy… step away to the computer and put the phone down.  put some boundaries in place. let go of the fear of missing out. let go of the hustle and comparison trap that often (for me) accompanies too much time on social media.  find the balance between enjoying the connections to the people i love and  the connection i enjoy through my creative outlets.  my guess is that this, like everything else, will take some practice.

freedom.  adventure.  connection.  more often than not, they are captured in tiny moments.  from seeing my girl get up on skis for the first time to watching the sun sink below the horizon over the ocean.  summer magic is real.

summer magic is feels like gliding through the water during sunset boat rides.  summer magic smells like honeysuckle and sunscreen.  it sounds like fireworks echoing off the bluffs at the lake and the chorus of frogs and locusts in my front yard.  summer magic tastes like watermelon and it looks like the freckles on my daughter’s nose.

summer magic is real.

so to that end, this summer i plan to step away from my blog a bit more – not altogether, but definitely not strive to post a certain number days a week.  so if you don’t hear from me, just know that i am trying to stay connected to my life.  and i wholeheartedly wish the same for you.

my friends, summer is here.  summer magic is real.  and we have 100 days to find and enjoy it.

we can do this.

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around here

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around here, my hydrangeas are blooming.  i have two different styles…one that leans to blue or pink depending on the soil conditions.  and one that is “white”…a misnomer really…because if you look closely, the individual petals have the sweetest, palest pink blush to them with a just a dab of chartreuse just to keep things interesting.

around here, hydrangeas are a delightful consolation to peony season being so short.  they remind me of the ebb and flow in the garden.  the seasons of flowers…but especially those times between blooms….the in-between seasons.

around here, i am using my new cast-iron skillet like a boss!  a birthday gift from my parents, i’ve made pancakes with it (so good!).  and a couple of night’s ago i used it to make my world famous ‘clean out the refrigerator’ pasta.  it’s tripp’s least favorite thing i make…with the exception of maybe risotto.  think i’ll make some biscuits and gravy in it this weekend just to keep my ‘southern girl’ street cred.

around here, we are transitioning towards summer.  although the lack of sunshine lately would indicate the opposite.  but it’s something about the quality of the light and shadow.   and the thick, moist air.  a change in the landscape for sure.  and i’m thinking about summer…thinking of ways to avoid a repeat of last summer….thinking about magic and how to keep it.  how to make it.

around here i am enjoying the first day of some much needed, very much appreciated paid time off (my three favorite words in the english language!).  it’s been a “full” couple of months and i’m going to use this time to breathe and recharge.  i am envisioning slow, quiet mornings and lots of afternoon garden walkabouts. also lots of coffee drinking and wine sipping.  i might also use this time to get to the bottom of the desk in my office.  #yeahright #goodluckwiththat

around here, although i have been somewhat hit or miss lately, i am so grateful for this space…my tiny little corner of the inter webs.  for a million reasons, but mostly because it helps me to focus on the good in my ordinary life.  the beautiful.  the magical.  the little things that bring me so much happiness.  and as always, i am profoundly and eternally grateful for letting me share it with you.

happy friday friends!!

love, kelly


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fighting back against the busy

it’s that dreaded “B” word….



but recently my friend aeleen (@prariegirlstudio) shared some wise words that have given me a positive shift in my perspective. and today i am at focusing on life sharing some how i have reclaimed my days so that i don’t feel like a slave to my to-do list.  it has also helped me to avoid becoming that other dreaded “B” word….the one that rhymes with witch.  😉

happy tuesday friends!

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her not-so-empty bedroom

this back bedroom was actually her room when we first moved into this house over ten years ago.

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tripp and i were hoping to make the transition as painless as possible, so we basically recreated her bedroom from our old house in the ‘burbs into this room.  we painted it the same color of warm beige and arranged her daybed in the same basic position.  then we unpacked her pottery barn kids bedding and tried to make it feel like home…or at least as much as a new house can feel like home.

a few months later, kelsey asked if she could move into the bedroom on the front of the house.  she liked the carpet and the coziness of the smaller room.  so we happily obliged and took the opportunity to redecorate to suit her evolving teenager tastes.  then redorcorated again a few years later.  which is how it stayed until she graduated from college.

after graduation, we moved all of kelsey’s bedroom furniture to the house she shares with her roommate.  we accepted a hand-me-down bed from tripp’s mom, just so kelsey would have place to sleep when she came home.  but other than that, my girl’s room was just an empty shell.

a couple of months ago, we finally had the last bit of wood floors refinished upstairs.  when it was time to move all of the furniture back in place, i decided to put my office in kelsey’s old bedroom.  this served a couple of functions…1) more room for my stuff (mother of the year!) and 2) having her room in the back bedroom would give kelsey more room and privacy.

once we got the bed and the chest put back in, i hung a few pictures and added a few other accessories (including a darling nightstand i bought at vintage market days).  even though i know it isn’t exactly kelsey’s more modern style, i still think it feels homey.

my girl came home this past weekend to visit and gave it a big thumbs up.  although it was a little unfamiliar, she found it to be very cozy and comfortable.  which made my momma heart really happy.  but when she left to go home yesterday, i went upstairs and sat on the edge of her bed, wiping back a few tears.  it’s still sometimes hard when she leaves.

my daughter doesn’t live here anymore.

this is much harder to say and to type than you might imagine.  

her permanent address is the one she shares with her roommate.  but she will always have a room in my house.  this will be the room that she will someday share with her husband when they come visit.  this will be the room that she will someday (a long way down the road…ahem) bring her own child(ren) to.  even if it’s not in this exact house, my daughter’s room will always be ready and waiting for her whenever she needs it.

so even though my daughter’s room isn’t currently occupied, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is empty.  but rather it’s here…ready for whatever comes next…wherever her journey leads her.

peace, kelly

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