Phone Photography Project!

Last year I took the Big Picture Classes Phone Photography Project and was immediately convinced of two things:

1. it was time to finally convert to an iPhone

2. your phone can do so much more than you thought.

 

Looking back on the photos I took at that time, I’m still impressed with myself.

Selection of Photos from Phone Photography Project 2013

Selection of Photos from Phone Photography Project 2013

And while I would love to take all of the credit, the truth is that the class – and the instructors – pushed me to think differently about how I capture the places and things I see every day.

This was especially meaningful last year, as we packed up our city life and moved to a small suburban town. It was bittersweet. And capturing those last moments – a summary of moments that reflect the years we spent in the city we grew to love – gave me the emotional time and space to say goodbye to adopted routines and favorite coffee shops with a gravity and finality. Of course, we still discuss moving back regularly…

Anyway.

When Big Picture Classes announced the second installment of the course – Phone Photography Project 2 – I was all in. The start date – July 17th – was a countdown on my calendar for weeks.

And now it is here.

And I’m SO excited!

If you are interested in this workshop (a workshop I can’t recommend enough!), there is still time to sign up here. Or, you can take the self-paced Phone Photography Project from 2013 here.

#BPCphonephotographyproject to follow along on Instagram. (also linked through my feed)

Later this week I’ll chime in with my favorite phone apps for editing your phone photos.

 

XOXO,

Julie

 

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Spring Forward

For several years Ali Edwards has started her year with a word. No resolutions or promises to break, just one little word to check back on for guidance or reflection. As she describes it, “You live with it. You invite it into your life. You let it speak to you. You might even follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.” This year is all about moving forward. So join me on this journey and let’s see where it takes us.

 

It’s been a while since I wrote about my one little word: Forward. But I assure you, it’s not because I lost interest. So much has changed these last few months…

One. For starters, it’s summer.

We are so happy it's summer!

We are so happy it’s summer!

Two. We’re very happy that it’s summer!

Three. My inlaws are back in town!

Meme and Pepe are back!

Meme and Pepe are back!

Four. So many projects have been done around the house!

Five. Our family is semi-officially growing in a weird, nontraditional – but awesome – way. (Eventually I’ll explain)

Cal and I at a school ice cream social

Cal and I at a school ice cream social

Six. We’re planning for a Happy Family Movement summer. With a bucket list. The kind of summer that we wanted to have last year, but couldn’t because we were too busy.

Seven. We’re eating better, experimenting with food, and having fun doing it.

Eat good food!

Eat good food!

Eight. We’re also growing some of that food.

Grow that food!

Grow that food! (these are potatoes)

Nine. We’re loving this life in ‘burbs.

Group photo after a family jog

Group photo after a family jog

Ten. I read a bunch of books.

Spring reading list

A selection of some of the books read this spring

 

More to come for June/July as we delve into summer vacation, warm weather, and getting happy.

 

XOXO,

Julie

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#100 Happy Days

#100HappyDays is a free photo documentation project designed to inspire people to start noticing what makes them happy every day, be happier, be thankful, be optimistic, and all sorts of good stuff. If there is one thing that all this life documentation has taught me, it’s that the small, everyday moments – routines, habits, meals – are the things that make up who you are. When we acknowledge and celebrate those small moments, we’re celebrating ourselves. You can learn more about the project by visiting the 100happydays.com website and sign up for free!

 

This is the fourth installment of #100HappyDays and I love this project.

100 Happy Days #4

100 Happy Days #4: Photos 28-36

 

It’s that perfect time in New England: warm enough to wear shorts, but not hot enough to stay out of the sun. Our garden is producing zucchini and strawberries each and every day. Usually that means Max eats the strawberries straight from the vine (even the unripened ones) and I steam/pan fry/grill the zucchini. We’re still in the honeymoon phase with zucchini, though I can tell it’s going to fade quickly with the pace the crop is growing…

I love the pace of this time of year. The excitement of  the end of the school year. The anticipation of vacation, reading books, adventures, and new things to come. Thoughts on the people you will meet, the friends you will grow closer with, the ease of being occupied but not overwhelmed. I look forward to these moments each year. And each year my mind bubbles with ideas on what we will do and how we will fit it all in. Which is why I’m working hard on our summer bucket list. While most of the ideas are there, I haven’t decided how to display it. But when I do, you will certainly see it.

Happy Days!

XOXO,

Julie

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This place that I love

small tidal pool on a natural bedrock jetty. great swimming spot, but mostly i love to sit there and think.

A small tidal pool on a natural bedrock jetty. Great swimming spot, but I love to sit there and think (meditate).

There is this place that I love. It’s half a day’s drive from here. And if you went there, you would think it was nice, but not special. Not as special as I think it is. Because most of its magic comes from years of memories of others. Some of those memories are mine. Many of them are my mother’s and her mother’s and their friends.

And each year that we travel there, during each brief visit, we are transfixed. Set in place.

You see, time stops there. It reduces to a pace so slow that you can count a thousand moments as the second hand passes each minute, each hour. And time empties itself into more time. Night comes. Morning comes. And each time of day is magical.

That is my happy place.

Pink clover

Pink clover

 

We were last there in 2012 during our “baby-moon”. It was our last hurrah before Max entered our lives and shook it all up. So we drove. A lot. We saw places and things we wouldn’t be able to see for a long time. We lingered. We brunched. And we savored each moment as its own unique point in time.

Belly photo

Belly photo. It was a very large belly!

We watched the sun rise from the deck of our bedroom.

Sun rise in Nova Scotia

Sun rise in Nova Scotia.

We explored.

The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

We drove A LOT.

Driving the cabot trail

Driving The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

We hiked.

Cape Breton, NS

Our Family with one on the way. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

We appreciated old things.

Boat at Historic Village, Nova Scotia

Boat at Historic Village, Nova Scotia

And we can’t wait to go back!

Chris + Julie at the red sand beaches of PEI

Chris + Julie at the red sand beaches of PEI

So this summer, thanks to my mother’s persistent convincing, we are going back. And I’m counting the moments until we leave.

The photos you see were taken in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Provinces, Canada. And there is so much more to show you.

 

XOXO,

Julie

 

 

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A place for the garden tools

Our house came with plenty of strange nooks and scrapped-together cabinets in which to hide everything you own, but the functionality was sorely lacking. Tool storage is a great example of this, but – of course – so are many of the projects we have shown so far: the pantry, built-in bookcase, etc..

One of my arguments for delaying the purchase of a house (I love the city and still miss it daily) was that we would have to buy all the stuff to maintain a house – a lawnmower, shovels, paint supplies, building materials, rakes, and the list goes on. Somehow, this – along with visions of graduate school – was enough to deter Chris from pushing to purchase a home before we were settled. Though, I’ll be honest, what I really wanted was to get married before we bought a house.. but that’s a story for another day. ;)

We designed a small backyard shed complete with shingles and a roof, but the volume of work, the permitting requirements, and the cost made it out of our reach for this year. Still, with a 2-car garage that barely holds two cars, a necessity during the winter when on-street parking is banned, we knew we would need a place to store our yard stuff.

And that’s when Chris had a brilliant idea (I’m usually the idea person, so this is a big deal people!): we would build it under the ugly stairs that lead to the second floor apartment.

Storage shed Step 1: remove lattice and make a slanted roof

Storage shed Step 1: remove lattice, set the support beams, and install a slanted roof

Of course, when Chris and his dad get going on something, they don’t stop until they’re done. And within a couple hours we had a wonderful, functional space to store our garden tools out of sight and out of the weather.

Chris and Max building the doors

Chris and Max building the shed doors

the final product

the final product

Storage Shed Complete!

Storage Shed Complete!

Using scrap wood from other projects and items we had around the house, the entire project cost was less than $150. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon!

It still needs some organization – like hooks and space savers for the tools and another roof, door, and shelving to store the pots – but it’s substantially improved from where it was.

If I had to offer a lesson, it would be to think differently and get creative with storage. Maximize the closet space without reworking your entire space. Sometimes small projects are better, especially for your pocket.

XOXO,

Julie

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#100 Happy Days

#100HappyDays is a free photo documentation project designed to inspire people to start noticing what makes them happy every day, be happier, be thankful, be optimistic, and all sorts of good stuff. If there is one thing that all this life documentation has taught me, it’s that the small, everyday moments – routines, habits, meals – are the things that make up who you are. When we acknowledge and celebrate those small moments, we’re celebrating ourselves. You can learn more about the project by visiting the 100happydays.com website and sign up for free!

 

This is the third installment of #100HappyDays and I love this project.

100 Happy Days #3

100 Happy Days #3: Photos 19-27

We’ve been working a lot this last week: pruning the roses, fixing the door, weeding the garden, replacing our bed, cleaning our patio, and even trying new recipes. So, naturally,  that glass of my favorite Rose (wine) on a warm summer evening was very well received.

We ate dinner outside that night – casually, without occasion – for the first time. It was beautiful. So beautiful that I offered to clean up while Chris started Max’s bath time, just so I cold linger. And I loved that moment. I lived in that moment and for that moment. I was fully present. I was relaxed. And I was renewed.

A moment to reflect

A moment of reflection in a quiet space

Everyone needs moments like that. To reflect, to appreciate, to be mindful and present. So I encourage you to take your gratuitous moment – however brief – when it happens.

 

XOXO,

Julie

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Inspiration Monday

I’m working on a selfie project. I  know what you’re thinking: UGH. SELFIES.

<insert I’m-so-above-that insult here>

Selfies. Let’s face it: there is a contentious, generational divide between the teens/twenty-somethings that overshare them and the baby boomers who loathe the very mention of “self.” As a member of a generation in between them, I see both sides.

I was raised in a world where “selfish” was one of the worst insults you could say to someone. And while I agree that each of us needs to consider how our interests, motivations, and decisions affect the world – and the people – around us, I just don’t believe that being selfish is all that bad. Furthermore, being “selfish” has nothing to do with taking a selfie – or 100 hundred selfies, for that matter – a day.

Selection of photos from my selfie challenge.

Selection of photos from my selfie challenge.

In previous posts “take a picture of it” and the recent “100 Happy Days”, I mention that photos are a great way to gauge how you are feeling. If you’re feeling insecure, sad, stressed, unhappy, it shows up in a picture. And the kind of picture I’m referring to is a selfie. The prospect is a little scary, right?

It shouldn’t be.

All of this is just an introduction to this video about selfies, which is beautiful and inspiring and absolutely worth the 8 minutes it takes to watch.

I hope watching the video will convince you – as it has convinced me – that it’s okay to take pictures of ourselves. That we should take pictures of ourselves. That we should look at ourselves, be introspective, and come out loving what we see.

Because when you love yourself, that’s everything.

That’s the key to being a good person, a good friend, a good neighbor, a good coworker. It’s a better world when we’re happy. When we’re all happy. And that has to come from you.

More on this as the project evolves. You’ve been warned.

;)

 

XOXO,

Julie

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From our Garden

When I started some tomato, cucumber, and squash seeds this year, I didn’t expect much from them. In years past we started seeds in early March and it always felt like it took months for them to grow large enough to plant in the garden. So when I finally purchased the seeds, the soil, and acquired containers (egg cartons) to start them, it was already mid-April. Disappointed at the very late start, I was convinced we had missed the opportunity to garden this year.

The seeds grew quickly on our sunny porch

April 18, they were planted. By the April 27, they were little plants! The seeds grew quickly on our sunny porch!

So when the seeds sprouted and grew into little plants in just 9 days, I felt this motherly urgency to get that darn garden bed built already, Chris! The plants NEED it! Hurry!

Giant Holly Bush

Early May: This giant holly bush was sacrificed in our pursuit of home gardening. A worthy sacrifice.

And, to my surprise, Chris did it. He transformed the yard from an ugly, overgrown mess underneath a massive holly bush to raised bed garden in just one Saturday afternoon.

Raised bed garden

Early May: Raised bed garden, just waiting for some soil… pleeeeaaasssee!

I started to think it was possible.

On May 18, just one month after I started the seeds in an egg carton, they were in the ground in our new garden.

Garden is done, seeds are in!

May 18: Garden is done, seeds are in!

Hooray, little plants!

And in the month since we first planted those little plants, a lot has changed.

Max "helps" weed the garden

June 18: Max “helps” weed the garden

look how much it has grown!

June 18: look how much it has grown!

I am amazed that in just two months, in Massachusetts, a tiny seed can grow from an idea into a plant that produces food. TWO MONTHS! Two months and the first zucchini are nearly ready to be harvested. Two months and fresh basil, parsley, and mint are no longer on my grocery list. Two months and – just – wow!

Nature is amazing, guys. I am overjoyed and delighted. I love gardening so much! And after months convincing myself not to be disappointed if we only grew a few container plants, having three separate garden beds producing more food than we can possibly eat in a summer, I’m beside myself with happiness.

Can you spot the zucchini?

Can you spot the zucchini?

Next week I’ll share two of my favorite summer grain salads (a perfect side for grilled food), which I make mostly from ingredients pulled straight from our garden.

Happy summer, everyone!

 

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#100 Happy Days

#100HappyDays is a free photo documentation project designed to inspire people to start noticing what makes them happy every day, be happier, be thankful, be optimistic, and all sorts of good stuff. If there is one thing that all this life documentation has taught me, it’s that the small, everyday moments – routines, habits, meals – are the things that make up who you are. When we acknowledge and celebrate those small moments, we’re celebrating ourselves. You can learn more about the project by visiting the 100happydays.com website and sign up for free!

 

This is the second set of photos from this project and I love it.

100 Happy Days #2: Photos 10-18

100 Happy Days #2: Photos 10-18

Our interest in food has given way to a focus on decorating the house, as small, useful projects are completed. Even as I look at these pictures, I see details that are now different: Chris finished the shed next to our garden and the built-in book shelf has been rearranged at least three times since that photo.

Our little corner of the world is dynamic. And I love that.

***

I’ve also been working on me, which is not an easy task when life is emotionally demanding. To help myself work through it, I’ve been taking selfies.

I know what you’re thinking: UGH. Selfies. Bleh. But hear me out…

It’s hard to take a good selfie when you’re feeling stressed/insecure/unhappy. And recently I found myself in just that kind of spot: every picture I took, every mirror I looked in, I saw an image of myself that I didn’t like. It wasn’t my physical features that bothered me. It was how I saw myself. It was the stress you could see in my eyes, my frazzled hair, my lowered brow, down-turned lips, and sour expression.

This feeling didn’t arrive on its own. There is shit happening all around me, people, and I am diligently trudging through it. Still, it wears me down.

So I took a few days to work on me. And I’m still working on me. And in the process, I have built up my self confidence. And I can use that little seed of confidence to progress, to move FORWARD. Because, frankly, I don’t have time to wallow. No days off.

Move on.

Move up.

Move forward.

So the next time you feel stressed, or sad, or grumpy, I dare you to try it. You might find that you have some work to do.

Get snapping!

For my developing thesis on selfies, read this post called take a picture of it. This is just the beginning, people!

 

XOXO,
Julie

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Inspiration Monday

Some days you have the strength to address the challenges life throws at you. And some days you need encouragement. I have had a string of days where encouragement was needed, and – fortunately – this came across my desk.

“An entire sea of water cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship.”

And, I thought: YES! That is exactly what I need to hear. The quote struck me so much that I have it taped to my computer. It is an affirmation that I remind myself of daily.

by tom keifer

Quote by Tom Keifer. Picture was taken in Boston Harbor during a whale watch (which I highly recommend).

 

Don’t allow the negative ether in your life to bring you down. Stay positive. Have some wine. Address it. Celebrate the accomplishment. And MOVE ON. You can’t control your environment, you can only make choices for how you respond to that environment. Work through the challenges you are faced. And know that tomorrow is another day.

Happy Monday!

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