Seasons change…

I’m so ready for fall. For layered clothes. Beautiful fall foliage. For pumpkin seeds, warm apple cider, and bundling up in blankets!

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This spring and summer has been good, and we had a wonderful vacation with the Johnson gang. I’ve enjoyed this summer, but I’m just soooo ready for a change of pace.

Fall has always been my favorite season and I can’t hide my loyalty to the season much longer.
It is only in the past two weeks that I’ve begun complaining about things like the temperature, awful red bugs, or my fair skin being at risk. I’ve been pretty patient and even got into the spirit of it all by planting Vincas in our flower bed with Wesley. I photographed vbs at church and made new friends. I’m feeling more involved and connected with people from our small group. I’m praying that some of the connections I made will help lead me closer to a photography job in Dallas or rather more jobs for my own business. There are some exciting possibilities. I’m investigating them now that we have returned from vacation.I’ve taken lots of pictures in the past few months and gotten good practice using my new equipment and newly learned skills in PhotoShop.

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I continue to be on the look out for opportunities to serve at church and hope to continue meeting people and making connections God will use. I know He’ll provide something in HIS timing as far as jobs go. I am trying to learn to ignore what other people think or ignorantly assume my life may look like when I say I do photography and run an online vintage clothing store. They tend to treat me like it’s not a real job and that I’m lazy. Those people just don’t know the hard work that goes into both things. It’s patience that I am working on. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a wife and homemaker. But I don’t really want to be a mom for a good 3 or 4 years. And I think photography is something I may be able to continue even when I do start having children, but only time will tell. I pray that I become more motivated and find success with my photography business and etsy shop. I’m also not just praying about it. I’m doing hard work, learning a lot, and I have goals I’m working towards. Part of that includes taking lots of photos, editing lots of photos, looking at a lot of other websites for inspiration to decide what mine needs to look like, and making a business plan for my photography business. Most people don’t know how long all this takes to actually take off, or become successful or how dedicated and hard working you have to be to follow through and make these things happen.

I’d love to see myself gain more experience with photography and take a photography business class. My dream is to have a home photography studio. I am passionate about the idea of God using that gift He gave me to bless others. If I can bring Him glory through my photography then that is what I’d consider a successful career in that field. I could care less about the money because money isn’t what I’m after in life. I think for me it’s about loving well and hopefully letting my life be a reflection of God’s heart. I am not an idiot, and I understand that you need money to function. But I also am not craving it and seeking it for happiness. I see so many people going after careers and money as if that will fulfill them and they are just miserable. It’s sad to watch.

Another thing I’ve begun this summer is opening an etsy shop online and obviously running that from home. It’s a productive use of my free time whenever I’m done with my daily online job searching, general house keeping, and such. I even made my first sale!!!

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It wasn’t a huge deal, but it felt pretty exciting! I am considering trying to sell prints of my photography on there. I’ve seen many successful photography shops through etsy. My shop name is Mary’s Reliquaries (https://www.etsy.com/shop/MarysReliquaries) and boy was it hard to find a shop name that wasn’t already taken. Wes came up with it for me and when I realized it was free to use I quickly grabbed it up. It rhymes, is catchy, and will easily be inclusive of a variety of types of listings. I didn’t want to be stuck with a shop name specifically for just clothing in case I include my photography, art, or other vintage items in the future. For now there are mostly vintage clothing listings. I am sketching up ideas for a store dashboard /banner currently. Once I decide I like my design I’ll have Wes scan it in and use his wacom tablet to give it a watercolor font and graphic designer touch.

Wes even found the perfect summer candle that I’ve fallen in love with. I recommend you try it out. It’s a Mainstays candle and the scent is Peach & Mango. It’s such a party for the nostrils.
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But now I am ready to change seasons! Like, now. So how about I wake up and it’s fall??? (Yes, pleeeeease??? Amen)

Homemade Bagels

Wesley and I have been making homemade bagels since Januray 2014. We got a Kitchen Aid mixer from Mom & Dad Johnson as Christmas gift, and it has been the gift that keeps on giving! We are so thankful to have it and we use it pretty much every week. Having it made it a lot easier to attempt bagels because it eliminates kneading the dough by hand.

We use the same recipe Momma J uses to make the bagels but don’t do the last bit about making a rope and connecting it. Instead we use the Aunt Juli method and just poke a hole in the middle and spin it around to make the shape of the bagel. If you are going to give this recipe a try  I want to challenge you to be creative and try different toppings!

Here is a batch we did. It makes twelve and we half them. He takes them to work for breakfast and I enjoy mine at home with some hot tea. 🙂

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The need to document.

As long as I can remember, I have loved taking pictures.  I can remember going on family trips to Texas and Arkansas for family reunions where I’d beg to be in charge of using the disposable camera. I would look for candid moments between my aunts and uncles. I would notice the light, and if they needed to stand in a different position to keep from having distracting shadows on their faces. I would try to find great spots to take group shots, with the perfect lighting and beautiful outside scenery to make the photo extra special. I would cut out clippings from National Geographic or random magazines my Dad would bring home from the nursing home after discarding them every few months. I just loved everything about photography. How you can capture a completely raw and sincere moment between people if you don’t make them pose. How silly kids will act for you when the realize they are being watched and the joy you can capture in a split second while they run around doing crazy stunts and poses for you. I loved waking up early and hearing the stillness of the morning. God always seemed to speak to me through nature and seeing dust particles fly in the stream of light from the morning sun seemed to capture my little brain even at a young age. I remember the anticipation of those throw away cameras. Going to camp or on an adventure with a friend and waiting for your film to come back developed and full of memories. There has always been such an excitement for me when photography is involved and I’ve always had a love for documenting life.

I have had the honor of working alongside a great friend Aimée Howell at weddings, and have picked up many tips along the way. The thing I love about her photography is that, aside from the traditional family group shot which everyone needs at a wedding, she always finds unique approach to capturing each couple at the weddings she photographs. She gets a feel for who the people are, and what they value in life. She ends up really telling a story of their love and has a plethora of beautiful images to show from their special day by the end of the night. She always goes above and beyond, usually ending in her clients feeling like they want to be one of Aimée’s best buds, because she’s so down to earth with them. She is so easy to talk to and has such a unique eye when it comes to documenting the true essence of her clients.  I feel like just getting to go along on weddings with her has helped shape me into a better person and photographer. There were weddings where I was able to be a second photographer at the receptions, and just paying attention to the light and what lens  she would need next made me learn a great deal. I’m forever grateful for my friendship with her and the time I was able to spend being her sidekick. http://aimeehowell.com/

I feel like my taste in photography really hasn’t changed too much from when I was younger. Typically I don’t like posed pictures, but I do think sometimes they are necessary.  The pictures I am usually drawn to are candid and raw. The people in the picture are completely unaware that there is a photographer snapping pics of them, but just simply living life. I also really enjoy pictures of nature, and what my surroundings look like. For instance, I usually pick up flowers or leaves and press them to do art with them, or simply because I find them beautiful. On that same note, taking a picture to document it brings me a lot of happiness. Getting to go back and see how the light hit that leaf and made it translucent makes me soooo happy. To others that might seem like a waste of time or a boring thing to photograph, but I suppose God just made me the kind of person that takes pleasure from the simple things in life.

One pet peeve I have these days with photography is people using instagram and adding eight billion filters to make  their already amateur snapshot  look “professional”. Most of the time it takes away from the quality of the image, and it really bothers me. Since getting a smart phone (Windows to be exact) I have been guilty of using my phone to take a snap shot, and usually I don’t use any kind of filter because I know the quality of the picture is already pretty low. I don’t mean to sound condescending towards those that use instagram on the reg, but I just have to be honest about  the idea of instagram filters making the picture look better.

Here are a few examples of some pictures I have taken recently.

Christin Lowery Sharp on her wedding day. Drying her hair in the window because she was running late. I’ve always enjoyed pictures with long flowing hair blowing in the wind. This one makes me especially happy because it shows how things don’t always go as planned on the wedding day, but if you just roll with it instead of letting it stress you out it can make for some unique memories.

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This image of the moonlight over the barn where Colby and Christin Sharp had their reception is so deep and rich.

Later I found out the moon did exactly what they had hoped it would do that night, and I was glad I got a picture of it for them.

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This sweet girl was just standing there drinking a Dr. Pepper, but the light is what makes me love this image. Just a hot Louisiana evening, and sweet little kid enjoying a cold DP.

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This picture is of my husband, Wesley, holding our great-nephew for the first time. His yawn was so precious and delicate.

He was so tiny and beautiful and holding him for the first time will be a cherished memory for me, always.

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This sweet girl is so photogenic it’s ridiculous. She’s my sister-in-law’s sister’s daughter,haha. It will be really incredible to watch her grow up.

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And lastly, to prove I don’t think posed pictures are the devil…here is a family photo of my brother Matt’s family. Those kids are all such dolls, and I’m proud to be their Aunt.

Trying it out. Feb 22, 2012

I’m not the best with words, but I value when others attempt at sharing things on their heart. I suppose I will attempt sharing my heart from time to time on here.

There are a lot of things changing around me right now. This year I will experience change in many ways that I never have before. I must admit that I’m excited to see God at work in my life and see where he takes me. Knowing that I get to share my life with Wes is so exciting to me. To be able to serve others along side my best friend makes my heart swell up with joy. I’m so thankful that God allowed our friendship to develop for over 4.5 years into something so full of life. I imagine God watching Wes and I from above through the years and smiling because he knew that all the things we were going through were allowing us to build trust and love. Neither of us really catching His plan until it was time. God is amazing at timing..at everything. And we are SO lost without Him.

Sometimes change looks sad and so it can begin to feel like it’s a negative thing, but time and time again I am reminded that change can be an amazing thing, too. He uses EVERYTHING. He needs to be our EVERYTHING.

I want to glorify my Father with the change in my life. With each new leaf I know there is a blessing from God and a lesson to be had. My job is to stay hopeful and trust in HIM above all else.

Before my relationship with Wes and before all the desires of my heart I must put God first. I must be pursuing Him. When I lose that focus I start to wonder… why am I struggling right now???  (stupid me) Duh, I need to work on my relationship with God. For me to be able to fully give myself to others and let God use me; I’ve got to be working on my relationship with God first. Without God I am giving them me, and my love isn’t good enough. My love is nothing without God. With all this change happening I feel like it’s vital to stay in tune with God. It’s so easy to get discouraged because change can be very stressful; even in the midst of knowing God is at work.

I pray for my friends and family who are all experiencing a lot of change and will continue to in the months ahead.