I have been waiting for many moons to get the announcement that designer/calligrapher Melissa Esplin of Isly blog fame had launched her online calligraphy course, finally that day has arrived! Unfortunately, the launch comes at a time when my budget is of the pauper variety, but the course is a work at your own pace not a set time so when I come into my riches (or get some more clients) I will be all over this. I think the price is very reasonable considering a one session calligraphy class could run you about the same amount.  I have tried my hand several times at calligraphy via kits I own Emilie Friday’s (darling and lot’s of info) and just because it was completely fabulous (and affordable) I picked up Linnea Carta’s kit.  It seems I have become a bit of a calligraphy kit/course collector. With any new skill you can’t expect to be perfect at it over night, if you are I am not happy (a wee bit jealous) and we shouldn’t talk for awhile. I have found that my time to practice my lettering is nearly nil and when I do I am convinced I am doing it wrong and will have embedded bad form for the rest of my hand lettering life span; I have issues, true. You my friend may not be as neurotic in which case I highly recommend looking into this course. From experience with the kits I know that I would have loved the opportunity to watch someone create the letters thus improving my own form.  I am thinking this course would be just the impetuous I need to get moving in the hand lettering department. You?


Shelter co. is a pop up lodging service and is completely and utterly the most brilliant idea ever. Okay, I suppose the invention of the wheel, electricity and running water are up there but this is just plain creativity at its best.  What’s a pop up lodging service? Imagine you had a big event coming up and you want to merge your great taste with the great outdoors with a heaping tablespoon of amazing company but had no idea where to start?  Call Shelter Co. Personally I am chomping at the bit to host an in-person photography class and doesn’t this situation seem ideal? A blogger meet-up would be grand, even though I despise the name blogger, when will I figure out a better word? Suggestions? I digress, contact Shelter Co. for your next ‘glamping’ adventure/event, by the looks of it you won’t be disappointed.  For those that want to eschew sleeping under the stars I found this relatively inexpensive teepee you could set-up in your livingroom!


One of the dishes I made from our extreme strawberry haul was a salad. A salad may sound boring, but I promise you this one is anything but.  It has the nice contrasty flavors of sweet + savory and just enough tang to make your taste buds sing.  My husband and I cook pretty much every night around here, it’s never run of the mill slinging hash, nope, it’s more like Iron chef (my husband and I are very cooking competitive with eachother).  I have so wanted to share about 8,000 meals with you that I think you should try but I have a hard time since I don’t cook via a recipe so I don’t really know how to translate the vague measurements that I concoct.  A salad I figure is easy enough to ‘wing’.  In sharing with you my version it just may get you inspired to riff on your own. Many salads with strawberries are made with spinach, it’s because these two flavors blend together so seamlessly. I personally can’t eat too much spinach it makes my teethe feel gritty no matter how much I wash it. My salad was mixed baby greens and did contain some spinach, but not enough to make my mouth feel weird. I added organic bleu cheese crumbles, walnuts and of course the strawberries; at this point we are almost done! I always make my own salad dressing, if I knew of a bottled version that tasted like homemade I would be on top of it, but I don’t so I go the extra distance.  I mixed 2 parts olive oil to one part balsamic vinegar, I added some Maldon salt (my secret cooking weapon), fresh pepper and a smidge of Dijon mustard. With a fork I mix until all ingredients are thoroughly bound. I usually would add some lemon to this mix, but I opted to squeeze a quarter of lemon directly on my salad (I love tangy) and then I added the dressing. Done and done. To change this up you could sub the bleu cheese for a feta, or goat cheese and the same goes for the the walnuts for almonds or pecans, this whole cooking bit has tons of creative possibilities. The salad is a beauty and tastes as good as it looks, it’s sure to impress you and your guests (but maybe not your husband, he may or may not want something that involves more sustenance and may think that this dish doesn’t sound as appetizing to him as it does to you).  Enjoy!


This is the beginning of my husband’s long anticipated birthday canoe trip.  I shot this with my Iphone, it’s the only shot I got as shortly after this was taken, we were heading fast to the middle of the lake instead of staying toward the outer banks (as suggested), this guys wife accidentally tipped the canoe over. She was dressed in what she assumed was a proper canoeing outfit–cute straw hat to ward off evil UV rays on her delicate visage, a navy and white striped shirt, chambray shorts, her new leather sandals and her ever present aviator sunglasses. For the record, not the best outfit to wear for a first time ‘canoe-er.’ Dripping wet to the core and the Iphone nowhere in sight she slumped out of the lake. In her defense the wind was at full throttle which wouldn’t have made for a relaxing canoe trip anyway. We opted on trying the canoeing another day. The husband was duly disappointed, but the hero that he is, he found the wifey’s Iphone and saved the day. To make up for the loss the wifey suggested berry picking, because as everyone knows picking berries is as relaxing and as exhilarating as floating on a canoe in the middle of an idyllic setting. The husband, always one to try to be agreeable quickly chirped, “Awesome, I’ve always wanted to do manual labor on my birthday.” So off to pick berries they went.
In typical husband fashion, he took to picking berries like it was an Olympic sport. It’s obvious that he was a natural at berry picking, how was it obvious? The picking bounty came to roughly 7 pounds. Wifey had no idea what she would ever be able to do with 7 pounds of strawberries, but it was an experience indeed. To be continued…


I finally developed a few rolls of film from the vintage Canon film camera I bought at a yard sale in L.A. ($20 w/lenses and lots of film!) I don’t know why it took me so long, okay, I think it was one part laziness, two parts brokeness and a good old fashioned dollop of procrastination–the normal reasons for my not doing something.  I had read in Jonathan Canlas book ‘Film is not dead’ to develop your first rolls of film at Walgreen’s until you get the hang of it.  I ordered CD’s not prints it was $7/each roll but I also had $5 coupons (score) they came with miniature contact sheets and real negatives! Here’s some things I learned– 1) Ask the photo person to allow you to write the type of film you used on the envelope. I had a few rolls of film, all different (they came with my yard sale purchase). I say to do this so if you loved the results of one of the films you developed you can remember what you shot with and use that type of film again.  I liked a lot of the results and have no clue what I used. 2)  Request that they can scan at a higher resolution and larger size.  All my photos were scanned for 3″ x 5″ prints which is not great.  These images above are pretty much straight out of camera. I took them into Photoshop so I could view them larger and a lot of them had a line across them which I am assuming was where the Walgreen’s machine had scratched my negatives–gasp.  Good thing these were test shots and good thing Photoshop has a clone tool to remove rouge scratches. I am really thrilled with the images, they have an authentic nostalgic feel to them with a ton of grainy goodness. I can not believe how many had good exposure. I almost always either over or under expose (even with a proper exposure reading) with my digital camera.  I will pipe up next week about how to expose for film (it’s easier than you might think).  
I need to run, that handsome fella in the photo above is having a birthday tomorrow and I am trying to figure out a good, not too expensive gift for him.  We are going on a canoe ride in the morning which should be both thrilling and terrifying.  I have never been on a lake before, let alone in a canoe! Have a great weekend and thank you to everyone that has been playing along with my contest I am so excited to start ordering the live samples.

P.S. These photos are from our backyard! 

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