Sunday, December 29, 2013

Acquisitions and updates

First, I must say, sorry I don't post much any more.  Why?  Well, I have a pretty successful business (2 actually), I'm old and tired, I've been painting instead of blogging (which I find amazingly relaxing and more productive), I feel like I've run out of things to say sometimes, and lastly, I'm not sure much of anyone cares!  I'll update once in a while.  I swear.  The big stuff mostly, it's too mundane for me to post pictures of bees or snowflakes anymore.  I might paint them though!

So, we have some acquisitions in the house since I last posted.  Let me share:

Acquisition #1:
We  acquired this guy:

His name is Harley (I'll explain why in a min).  This was him when he was about 2 months old.  He's a boxer/black lab mix and an absolute pain in the ass. (As are most dogs) but he's sure sweet and loving when he's not chewing on your arm.
About a day before we got Harley, we got Harley.
Acquisition #2:
(I didn't take this photo)
We went to Harley to buy a hat.  Yes, a HAT.  We came out with a brand new 2013 Harley Wide Glide which looks close to this one in the pic.  That son-of-bitch salesman that sold us the first bike was there, and we get to talking.  I've learned a valuable lesson.  There's a LOT OF PLAY in a brand new vehicle.  Straight of the show room floor you can make great deals, especially at the end of the year.  We are the only people that have ever ridden this bike.  It had .1 mile on it when we took it for a test drive.  Needless to day, we started making ridiculous demands and they said yes to everything!  We ended up getting everything back we'd put into the first bike ($$) PLUS $20. LOL.  Seemed stupid NOT to buy the new bike and trade in the old one.
So, Gene said that he got a Harley, so I should get a Harley (dog) and that's how he got his name.  I maintain that my Harley will cost a lot more in the long run.
Acquisition #3:
I did the show at the Albrecht-Kemper museum in St. Joseph, MO again this fall and made a LOT OF STUFF.  I had some stuff left over so I thought I'd open an etsy shop to sell some of it.  It's been going GREAT.  Very happy with how it's turned out and I sold a lot for Christmas.  It's a good way to keep painting, get rid of a few things and make other people happy at the same time. :)
Acquisition #4:
Work space.  I thought I had taken a photo and put it on my computer, but alas, I probably deleted it.  I think I took like 10 photos in November total for myself.   I suck at stuff like that anymore I guess. :(  Just too busy taking photos for other people to enjoy taking photos for myself.  Anyway, we have rented a small space and are adding some drywall, etc to make it into some temporary work space for me to shoot in.  I'll be focusing on Couture Beauty Portraits, ala Sue Bryce.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I've been really sick the entire month of December and haven't been able to work on the space at all.  I'll share for SURE when we get it done.
Acquisition #5:
Not really an acquisition as of yet, but Gene is finishing up his first novelette that he'll be releasing on Amazon in the next few days.  He's been a writing machine lately.  I bought him a writing class this fall that lasted 7 weeks (one night a week) and it reignited his passion for writing.  He's written one full novel, several novelettes and a short story.  He's always been a great storyteller (he tells me the best stuff that happened to him when he was a kid that just makes me belly laugh, I'm trying to get him to write some of those stories down!).
I have worked on the cover for him for the book.  I painted it and then worked on it in photoshop.  Probably not my best work ever, but I think it helps tell the story. 
His stories lean towards murder mysteries/sci fi and he's improved greatly since he first started.  His instructor told him that he has incredible talented and that it would be a waste if he didn't do something with it.   Do I think we'll be millionaires?  Well, maybe, if anyone could it's him.  But in the meantime he's doing it for fun and keeping his day job!
I'll share the link when the book gets up!
I hope you enjoyed our update now that you know what's been going on in our lives.  I could promise to post more often, but I don't want to lie to you.  What I will say, is I'll try to post interesting things as they happen so you know we're not dead yet.
Happy New year!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Bedford Iowa, Maryville Missouri engagement portraits photos weddings flowers outdoors Totally overwhelmed.
Fer realz.

I've determined that if I don't sleep for the next 3.2 months, I will be half way caught up with my life. On the flip side, creating some of the best work I've ever done.
Check out my facebook page for my latest stuff.  It seems it's the one place I can keep updated.

I'm learning to say no.

No, I don't need to make banana bread just because the bananas are going bad.
No, I don't need to keep a coffee mug just because I had it when I was 9.
No, I can't take on any more projects, jobs, dreams, money making ventures, etc.

I've hardly any time for myself anymore and I've come to hate summer because of it.  Which is pretty sad considering it's been an awesome summer.

In other news, my step son is moving in with us soon and that's really pushing my anxiety levels.  I've emptied the guest room.  Now cleaning Tanner's "empty" room (he's gone off to school and is staying in town).  My dining room is stacked to the hilt with crap I need to sell off this weekend.   I've said NO to selling antiques but I'm *this close* to just putting it in tubs in storage.  Which would be really bad news.  I'd leave it there another year for sure.

Oh, and I'm getting a studio.  Gotta remodel that in the process.
I'm thinking having Michael (step-son) here will be a good thing, maybe he'll be able to help out us old folks a bit.

So many things I'd love to share, but I have to get back to editing, you know, those dang brides want to see their photos!
How dare they!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

feeling hot hot hot

In the summer slug of it all.  Trying to keep up with all the photos everyone wants, and have some sort of life at the same time.  Blogs are being neglected!  However, I wanted to share this photo, pretty proud of how it turned out.  One of my families I've done all their photography for around 3-4 years now.  They love wacky out there sort of ideas, and their youngest (a senior this year) was no different.
This is a composite shot of three images (senior, chair on fire with background and dramatic sky).  Probably have around 2-3 hours worth of editing in it.  It's not *exactly* how I pictured it, but it's pretty close.  Had to learn a whole much of new things to make this photo look realistic.
I love conceptual work.  If I could shoot nothing but concepts the rest of my life I'd be a happy little bunny.
If you're needing any type of photography work, check out my website!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

OK, I'm alive

OK so that's the longest that I've ever gone without posting.  Thank you all for still checking in, and heck, I even appreciate the anonymous hang up call (pretty sure I know where that came from). lol.

I think I just needed a break from the blog for a while. I've been doing this for around 7 years now fairly regularly so I must have needed some free time to relax.  I've been trying to write a post for a month now.  Finally decided to just do it and get it done, because I'll have way too much to update everyone on if I don't.

Here's some of the things that's been going on in my life.

- Tanner Graduated from high school.  I know, right? 
Pretty proud of that kid.  He's not an honor roll kid, but he's a leader and being a leader will get you a long way in the world.  He was the head of the relay for life team for his entire work place (which is a big deal for an 18yo) and they keep talking to him about moving into a management position.  He could totally do it and make  career of it too - while going to college.
He also had his last prom.  It was the same day as his girlfriend's high school graduation, there was a bit of stress over the whole thing, but we all worked it out ok.
Because this happened.....
This happened.....
My little sister had her baby.  Her name is Bristol and she's probably the cutest baby in the world (mainly because she looks like me).  Whodathunk it?  My baby sister has her own baby.  She's a really good mom.
The irony of my baby graduating just days before she was born was not lost on me.
I've painted a couple things:

I've been trying to paint more for fun lately (obviously).  I also painted a set of Harry Potter wands which turned out pretty awesome, they are not scanned yet.  I probably will add them to an etsy and sell prints.  I'm saving every nickel I make from painting on a dream vacation.  I don't know where the location is yet, but when I get a few grand saved up, I'm out of here.  Most likely I'll come back with a tan in the process.
Speaking of painting, I signed up for an acrylic painting class for the summer.  Pretty excited about it.  I love hanging out with other creatives.
Speaking of Harry Potter, I have been reading a lot.  I finished all the HP books and now I'm half way through the Hunger Game's trilogy.  I have only wanted to slit my wrists about 6 times.  I'm crossing my fingers that it gets a little less depressing soon.  I keep dreaming I'm Katniss and the world is kicking my ass.
I think all this reading screens is blowing out my eyes.  I really need glasses but I've been in denial.  Plus I don't know how to shoot with glasses on.  I've been depending on the camera a lot to be in focus on it's own.  So far it's working.
While looking for photos for Tanner's graduation slideshow dvd I made him (which was really hard for me because I had no idea what I was doing), I found the first photo I took of the house:
I'm so amazed how different it looks now than it did back then so I thought I'd share with you what we do on almost every free weekend we have:
So many new things here that weren't there before like a whole new porch, brand new roof, the front door was switched with the window.   It's not done yet but it looks like a completely different house now.  I think the neighbors have finally decided that we're not white trash after all.
Fooled them! ;)
Right now we're lining the inside of the living room wall (facing the front of the house) with carsiding wood tongue and groove.  It's really pretty!  Eventually the house will be covered with log cabin siding so we're going with a rustic feel to everything we do in the house.
Honestly?  I regret wood floors.  My feet hurt all the time.
We have a really big, life altering event happening soon (can't tell right now until it's official).  I'm literally sitting here waiting for the phone to ring (they were supposed to call hours ago).  If all goes well, it will be one of my proudest moments of my life. 
I'm about half way through my wedding season and still booking for this year!  I will probably only take a couple more weddings and then consider myself full for the year.  I have no idea how those people do it that shoot 50+ a year!  It's going a lot faster than I thought it would.  Of course, I'm behind schedule on processing.  Working in two places is hard yo.  I'll get it all figured out somehow. 
Getting myself back into shape.  When Gene lost his job I stopped my nutrisystem program I was doing really well with.  I've gained back a bit but still down from before.  I HAVE to get healthy.  You know, typical reasons (besides my modeling career of course.)
Pretty sure I have gallstones.  Hold me.
The glass shop is doing well.  If he's not installing glass, he's out beating the streets drumming up business and making sales calls.  Failure is unlikely with him, and even then he'd go down with a major fight. Gene said the other day "I never thought I'd see numbers like this again."  That's a big deal for him.  He's turned into a fairly optimistic kind of guy.  He's definitely happier than he's ever been in his life, and it's not just about business either.
In a few days it will be our 5th anniversary.  I still haven't decided what I'd like to do special.  I really want to go somewhere - on a plane - far from home.  We'll see.  We are doing great.  I'm so lucky I met the love of my life.  I can't imagine anyone better suited for me than him.  We still treat each other like we're newlyweds and I don't see us changing that part of our lives.  We're pretty blessed.
OK, I that's all the updates I can think of at the moment.  I'm sure I'll think of 27 more 3 minutes after I hit "publish".  But maybe that will now give me an excuse to update at least once a week.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Good things come to those who wait.

Do you remember me telling you about this door?   I told Gene multiple times over the winter that we needed to install it early in the year because by the time summer came around it was gonna be hotter than a motha.

I think he agreed last summer with the deck was "lesson learned".  Don't put off tomorrow what you can do today.

So he unceremoniously picks up the phone and calls  his buddy Bobby about a week ago to ask him to come up over the weekend to help with the door project.  ARRGGHH... that means I'm going to have to get everything all spic and span for company.

Which worked out ok, because in the end Bobby couldn't make it.  That, however, didn't change our plans.  We decided to move foward without him and try to install it ourselves.  I've installed doors before (interior and exterior) and know that it's NOT an easy job to do, but felt confident it was something we could accomplish.

Saturday we got up early and started the process  The left you can see how it looks "before."  Not very pretty is it?  The window is going to become a big double door, and the old door, will become a smaller window.

We got as far as getting all the drywall ripped out on the inside, then went to town to look at door handles... only they didn't have what I wanted and the selection was really limited so that meant a trip to St. Joe to see what they had.

We found some nice ones, on sale, but by the the time we were done hemming and hawing over it, it was pretty much too late in the day to do anything else.  Which is a GOOD thing because it was pretty cold to have your house open to the world for most of the day.

Sunday morning we didn't mess around.  Got up and started ripping things out including all the insulation, windows, studs etc.

I went to town to run errands and I came home to a big hole in my house!  Boo kitty always wants to help.

Pretty much committed at this point.  Don't mind my messy house, it's deconstructed if you haven't noticed.

Here is the door all crated up.  It's huge and takes 4 people to move the crate.  Not much I can do with it with my bum shoulder and old lady hip.

Cutting out the center support was really scary.  I kept worrying my house was gonna fall in or something. LOL.  I did talk Gene into putting in a big header over the door.  We hadn't planned it that way but we both were happy in the long run we did it.

{Insert pictures of us installing door}
{Insert lots of cussing}

I tend not to take a lot of photos when I'm wanting to kick something down the steps.  If it weren't so heavy I might have.  We were both pretty frustrated with installing it.   It took some creative adjustments (and luck) and we finally got it.  It's not perfect, but that's why god made trim work.

The almost finished product.  The view on the left will eventually have a wide stair steps leading up to the deck.  I've always wanted a big wide set of steps, I think they're pretty.  On the right you can see how pretty the decking is going up to the house now.

We still have to add all the trim, and we'll be adding some outdoor light fixtures on both sides of the doors. 

Gene will be doing the electrical.  Heaven help us. LOL.
Actually, he's done work before and did a really good job so I trust he'll do a good job.  The electricity has to be rerouted over the door as it used to go under the window.

Old door.
New door.

I think we made the right choice.

And here is the new handles.  I only cried once doing this.   Nope, it wasn't hard to do, actually you can put the handles on in less than 10 min.  I, however, screwed up and there's now a hole in the wrong spot.  You can't see it on the outside, but you can on the inside.  I broke into tears and Gene handled it better than I did. 


lol.  I'll fix it, and then I'll hyperfocus on it for as long as I live here.

Anyway, so I had to buy 2 door handles, and the one on the left doesn't have the guts in it so it doesn't actually work.  That includes the deadbolt.  Tell me if it's weird to have a deadbolt on the left that doesn't work.  I'll have to try to find a cover plate of some sorts otherwise, which I'm having a hard time doing.

On the right is the pretty stained glass.  I really like it, but now I'm worried a little bit about privacy and people being able to see inside night/day.  Do you have windows doors with big windows?  How do you handle privacy?  I really hate to put a curtain on it and cover it up after spending all that money on it!

This project I would put on a difficulty scale of 3.5 out of 5 chickens.  (poor half chicken). If the only power tool you've ever run is a kitchenaid, then I suggest you hire it out.  Having said that, you can learn all of this!!  I have found that home improvement shows are very educational and what you don't know for sure, there's someone on Youtube that is teaching you how to do it so do new things!

When finished, we'll have about $1000-$1100 into this project.
If we would have hired the whole thing out, we would be out around $3500-$4000.

Savings of $2400-$3000!!

Learn to do some of these things on your own my friends.  You'll have such an enormouse amount of pride in what you do, and at the same time, you'll build lots of free value in your home.

Sweat equity baby. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

First world problems

I've gotten to the point in my career where I can spend 500 bucks, get a very small box and there's not a damn fun thing in it.  Yawn.  New camera means higher megapixels, which means more cards to fill (and it has dual slots) and a bag to hold it in.  My old camera will be Gene's camera - which now means I need another flash.
I'm pretty sure I'd rather have a new lens.
Or nail polish.
Oh who am I kidding, I'd rather have a Harry Potter wand and my own owl.  Yes I'm lame.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A new ride

A few months ago, at the beginning of winter, I reported that Tanner purchased a new kayak.  A couple weeks ago, said kayak *finally* made it on the water.  I, being mommy of the year (always), drove 15 miles just to take a few pics.
Which he didn't like because they weren't senior picture-y enough.
Damn ingrate.
In other news, his other ride suffered.  He was driving down Main Street in stop and go traffic.  He stopped, but the girl behind him didn't so the old Jeep's tail in got bashed in.  He's now trying to sell it so he can combine that money with his insurance money and buy something else - which he's been shopping for since about 12 minutes after he got the Jeep and realized it wasn't a 2013 model.
He keeps showing me pictures of mustangs and corvettes.
Yeah good luck with that kid.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Our new adventure!!

Rural bride weddings inspiration blog rustic vintage outdoors midwest bride grooms

We are proud to announce our new adventure!

I've been thinking for a long time about creating a blog that's inspirational for brides like the ones we find in towns around America just like my town (Maryville, MO). As I have shot so many weddings here, I realized that there's probably a lot more brides taking the VFW or the community gym and turning it into a "ballroom" than there are "ballroom brides".

I find them inspirational because they have taken something very rough around the edges and created something incredibly beautiful in the process. It was then, that I knew that there were other brides struggling with the same issues. That's why was created - to bring all those people together.

I hope you'll visit the blog and visit it often. Please put it in your feed burner or your bookmarks. We're still doing a bit of work on the site here and there, but we're 90% there. This is what has consumed my life lately!

Right now we're having a special giveaway. If you like our facebook page, you're entered to win a DIY Bride book! Please join us and invite your friends too!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Workin' for "the man"

And sadly, I think at this point, "the man" is just me.

I've gotten really busy... driving to a secondary location to "work" has been good in ways, annoying in others - we haven't worked out all the kinks yet but I kind of like my little "apartment in the city" as we call it.

One thing that I realized was becoming a problem was keeping track of all the things in my life that needed toting back and forth.  Calendars (multiple ones for different projects), notebooks with project ideas, my kindle, phones, etc etc.  God forbid I want to carry something extra like an actual book.  You know, I don't think carrying your work stuff in a Wal-mart bag is really all that professional.  Ya think?

I finally deduced that I needed something and pulled out my old leather planner.

I used it one day and realized it was still too small.

So, I caved and bought a briefcase. I'm now "the man".  I feel like a traveling salesman ready to sell you a brand new Fuller Brush.  Sometimes I even put a sandwich in there.

Can I interest you in a low rate mortage?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Toy Triumph

About 15 years ago, I was at a pretty different place in my life.
We (my ex and I) were having a rough go of it.  We were pretty broke to say the least. If I could do things different (I probably wouldn't because where I am now is because where I was then), I would probably think a little wiser about money.
But it ended up being a good thing because being really scared teaches you something.  It teaches you where you don't want to be.
We got into a debt repayment program and avoided a bankruptcy which is always a good thing.  After a couple years things started to turn around about the same time we needed a car. We nervously went out and applied for a car loan on a Dodge Neon and got it.
I loved that car.  For me it symbolized that things can be fixed, things could get better.  It was triumph over a low period in my life and damn I was so proud of that car.  So much so that I still own it and can't bear to part with it although I've not driven it in 3 years.
I won't pretend like my life was great.  That I was rolling in cash.  It was just a Neon after all.  A couple years later, I was on my own and finished paying off that car by myself.  Another triumph - I could do it without help if I needed to!
Along comes Gene.  We live our lives and slowly pay off old bills, buy a house, buy a car (more car than I ever dreamed I could have - triumph), start businesses that we always dreamed of starting, remodel a house, etc etc etc.
A few years ago, I was following one of my favorite photographers blog and I loved her photos.  I wanted to see what her equipment cost her because I wanted to take beautiful photos too.
What I found really discouraged me.  Her camera was $2000, her lenses were over $1000 each and I felt really dejected.  I would never be able to afford that!  I wasn't going to be able to be a great photographer. 
What I did do though, was I bought the best that cash could afford me, which was a used Canon 30D which at the time cost me around $300.  I remember my heart pounding as I hit the "buy" button on that camera.  I'd never bought anything so extravagant for myself ever.  Every year or so, I would upgrade my equipment to the best I could afford at the time (always used) and give Gene my old camera, then sell off the 3rd wheel.
About 2-3 years ago I stopped buying equipment (I was getting by ok) and started saving for a studio to be built.
I had outgrown my 5D classic.  I actually outgrew it not long after I got it.  I think if you're constantly pushing your camera to it's limits, that it forces you to grow and be creative.
"This church is made of walnut, there's 3 windows and 4 light bulbs.  How am I going to make this work?"  That usually meant that I would have "artistically" grainy photos and Gene wouldn't have any back up shots (the 50D couldn't handle it).
Life circumstances change.  Sometimes on a path that you didn't plan but ends up being for the best.   We ended up downtown Maryville with a glass shop and a photography office (no studio ... yet anyway).
I'd outgrown the camera and was looking to upgrade.  I decided to step over the markii and go straight to the markiii which fixed a lot of issues they'd had with the markii.  In shopping, I found that new was only a few hundred bucks more than used.  Why buy used when I could get brand new with a warranty for just a tiny bit more?
And just like that I did it.  No fanfare, no pounding heart.  Click.  Done.

Yesterday it came.  My brand new markiii.  It's the first pro camera I've ever had that was brand new.

When it got here, I was a little teary-eyed.  Not because it was an exciting new toy (ok maybe a little of that) but because it was a little like that Dodge Neon 13 years ago. 

I did that.  I can do it.  I didn't need any help.
Dammit, I think I'm successful.

Rarely do I feel proud of myself - most creatives are that way.  We all think we suck.  But I've afforded myself a day or two to feel proud of myself and wonder ahead.  Can things get better?  What might be the next great thing that can happen if we stay on this track? 

Live is already really great right now, so at this point, it's all gravy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Office bathroom mini remodel

Our building where our office is located years ago used to be a car lot/gas station.  What I've found over the years, is that when a place is build, designed and ran by men, it's mostly utilitarian.

Which makes fluffy pretty things harder for us girls.

Our bathroom at the shop looked exactly like it had been occupied by men for a really, *really* long time.  Brick walls, painted concrete floor (that's pretty beat up) and a mirror hung by a 6'5" man.

We decided (meaning *I* decided) it had to be updated.

The bakers rack was just there to hold things temporarily, but it was turning into months and months.  It wobbled (the floor is slanted) and it didn't hold much.  Plus what you could see was out there for the world.  I was really embarassed when someone had to use the bathroom.

Here you can see how bad the floor is.  It had been painted numerous times which just chips and looks worse and worse. 

The sink is very ugly... of course... and to make it worse there's a bulletin board over it.
Well, glad you asked.  It's because when they were tracking down the water issues a bunch of MEN decided to beat a hole in the wall to try to find some pipes.  Which they didn't even use in the repair.  *sigh*  It made for a huge mess and I guess someone thought putting a bulletin board there was a great idea.

We threw down a floor (linoleum that we already owned), bought a couple base cabinets and an upper, bought stock counter top (only had to cut off an inch) and added our small fridge in the center.

We bought this mirror at a garage sale last summer for $3.00.   We put a board over the hole and painted it the same color as the wall then hung the mirror on it and the piece that stuck out, we put a paper towel holder on it like it was supposed to be there.

Oh the opposite wall, I hung mirrors that I spray painted.  I find these mirrors at garage sales for $1-$3 and just pop out the mirror and spray paint it.  Super cheap and really cute.  I'll probably had a couple small canvases here too.

We still have to stain/varnish the cabinets and add some more artwork to be cute, but in the meantime it's pretty darn acceptable.

This remodel was under $500.  I could have done it cheaper but I just wanted it done instead of messing with it for a long time.  The base cabinets are not anchored to the wall so if we ever leave we can take them all with us.  The uppers we used 2 holes that were already in the wall so we did no more damage (no one cares anyway), and we can take it down and take it with us too.

We'd be like the beverly hillbillies, carrying around our bathroom on the top of our jeep.

I keep telling Gene that it's only one shower stall away from being our apartment in "the city".  Really, that's Gene's shot across the bow.  He better be nice or it's HIS apartment in the city.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Flowers will soon be here

Here's hoping for spring soon, but in the meantime, here's some "wintertime flowers".

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