Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Sale

My entire Shop is on Sale for 30% OFF Black Friday-Cyber Monday!  And, for the first time ever, I'm offering FREE Shipping (within the U.S.)!!  Sale ends Monday, November 28th, but you can enjoy FREE Shipping throughout the holiday season :)

Start shopping  here

Friday, November 11, 2011

First Snowfall

We woke to our first snowfall of the season yesterday morning!  Not too much, just a skiff really.  For those of you who may not know what a skiff is, there was just enough of the white stuff on the ground to know that it had snowed.  But, you could still see grass peeking through the snow, so there wasn't enough even for ground cover.

Our snow-capped lights looked like little mushrooms
Our  poor icy  pumpkin

To Savannah's disappointment, there wasn't enough for good sledding or snow angels.  That certainly didn't stop her from trying though...

She just wouldn't take no for an answer when it came to sledding.  I swear I have no idea where she gets her persistence from ;)

                                     Savannah trying to make her snow angel

I have to say, I wasn't really ready for winter to be here yet.  Even though I know that I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I realize that it can really snow just about anytime here.  Yoopers, those native to this Peninsula, often joke we only have two seasons up here: 1) snow and 2) bugs.  Savannah and her Daddy did take advantage of the one thing that this wet, little bit of snow was perfect for: building snowmen!!

Showing me her snowgirl's ears
Placing the final touches on the snowman

Father/ daughter discussion on the fine art of building snow people

Their finished product!

Although I wasn't mentally prepared for this stuff yet, I must admit there is always something special about that first snowfall, however little it may be.  A fresh, white blanket covering the landscape makes everything seem pure and beautiful.  The snow did remind me of just how excited I am to capture nature in all her icy and snowy glory to add to my winter portfolio.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Highlights

We had a fabulous Halloween this year, so I thought I would share the highlights! First, we started out by making autumn cut-out cookies.  My little helper and I made these tasty little morsels:

My little helper sure loved the sugar sprinkles!

Next, Savannah had a blast carving her first pumpkin!  Well, she really supervised my carving while she played with the seeds, guts, and pieces that I cut out.  It was great fun though, and those seeds sure were yummy after we toasted them :)

Our Jack-O-Lanterns

Finally, we went trick-or-treating with the cutest little Minnie Mouse ever!  OK, so I'm a little biased.  But, it sure was neat to see our little girl truly understand this holiday.  We went last year, but she really didn't get the concept.  This year she was all about it though.

You can see our Halloween clings on the window in this one.  Someone is really into grouping things right now ;)

How was your Halloween?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Giveaway on Facebook

Looking for "Liker" #200...I'm running a contest right now on my Facebook page. Lucky "Liker" #200 will win an 8x10 photo (with or without the mat) of her/his choice from My Shop!  With over 100 items to choose from in My Shop, my 200th Liker will have plenty to pick from.  Click on over to my page to see if your #200 today!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

You Know You Live in Black Bear Country When

The second bird feeder, in 7 months, you had was destroyed by some creature that must have been really hungry and strong.  Hungry because not all animals would attack both a seed feeder months ago (my super cute one that was green wrought iron shaped like a lantern that looked awesome hanging from a tree) and now a suet feeder.  Strong due to the complete crushing of the previously mentioned seed feeder, which I was too sad to photograph, and the cold, hard evidence of the broken chain left on the tree from the suet holder and this:

For days, I didn't even know where the suet and holder had been carried off to, but I had assumed it had been a tasty snack for one of our local black bears.  But, Jimmy found this near the trail leading into the woods from our backyard.  Guess we're all done feeding the birds :(

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Things We Do

I had gone out to shoot the moonrise a few weeks ago when it was a full moon.  I got there early in case the sunset was vivid too.  I stood there, shooting away, in the hot, humid weather wearing long pants and a hoodie, just sweating bullets.  Why was I so overdressed?  Anything to attempt to fend off the nasty biting flies that swarm the Lake Superior shoreline in such oppressive heat!  Bug spray doesn't seem to do the trick, so you just have to try to cover any exposed skin you can.  Ahhhh, the things we do to get the shots we want!  I think this one was well worth it...

Lake Superior Sunset over  the Porkies
Porcupine Mountains State Park at Union Bay

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Backyard Camp-Out

In just a few short weeks, we are going for our first camping trip of the season.  Yay!  I am very excited but also a bit apprehensive, as our last camping trip with Savannah didn't go so hot.

It was last summer, and she was just under 2.  I thought she would just adore camping, since she loves being outside and often cries when it's time to come back inside.  She did love camping as much as I thought she would, but I had drastically underestimated how unrelaxing a camping trip with a toddler would be for Mommy & Daddy.  See, toddlers don't really get the concept of a campsite with invisible boundaries.  I mean, really.  Why would you stay on or even near your campsite when, instead, you could run wildly across other campsites and in the road?  I mean how else could you get back to the playground??  There is no need, in a toddlers mind, to worry about little things like large pick-up trucks pulling 30 ft. trailers that can't possibly stop on a dime.  The other campers and oncoming traffic never bothered Savannah, but they terrified me!

This memory is precisely the reason that I wanted to do a practice camping trip in our backyard.  You know, set up the tent in the back yard, maybe have a campfire, and just spend the night snuggled up in our sleeping bags right out our back door. That way we can easily bail if something something goes really awry.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have recently moved, again, so finding our tent and all our camping gear was a bit of a challenge.  But, I managed to find it all, and I decided to try to put the tent up with Savannah's help.  Yes, I know, I am just asking for things to go wrong.  But, she is really into this whole tent thing, so I am sure that I can pull this off.

I don't let the gray skies outside scare me too much, but I double check the radar to see that the storm that is coming still looks a good distance away.  (Yes, another sign I should wait, but I like a challenge and I'm a bit of a determined girl.  Once I get a notion in my head to do something, it's hard to convince me otherwise.)  So we get all our our tent parts outside just in time to hear the roll of thunder in the distance.  That probably should have been my final hint to bag this backyard camp-out for now, but I marched on anyway.

I did manage to quickly get the tent up, with Savannah my stake helper.  I raised the tent just in time for the rain to fall.  I secured Savannah inside so she would stay mostly dry while I struggled to get the rain fly on. Now, it's a bit tricky for a 5'2" woman to fling a huge piece of fabric, bearing many clips to get caught on things, to the apex of a large dome tent that stands over 6 ft. tall at the center.

I got soaked in the process, but I did it!  Just in time to see Savannah coming out of the little Pet Den that juts off the back of the tent.

I coaxed her back into the tent and finally joined her to rest a bit.  Before I could relax, I needed to zip back up that silly Pet Den, which our dog hated by the way.  First to zip, then to rip.  I was backing my way out of the mini-tunnel into the main area when I apparently got too close to a stress point in the tent.  Rrrrriiippp!!!  Not a good sound.  Yes, a gaping rip in our tent in the middle of a thunderstorm!  Lightning fast (sorry, I couldn't resist this pun), I run through any quick fixes I can think of, and here was my solution:

It's not pretty, but hey, it worked!  It actually kept the inside mostly dry during the brief downpour.  (Notice all the rain droplets.)  Crisis averted!!  The really funny thing is that, despite all my challenges to get the blasted tent up and keep it dry, we  still haven't done our backyard camp-out.  Our poor binder clip clad tent still sits quietly in our backyard waiting to be camped in...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brand New Prints in My Shop

Last night, I listed some prints for sale in my shop that are available to purchase for first time!  These are photos that were shot earlier this spring and summer, and here they are:




 These prints, and everything else in my shop, is on SALE!  Take 25% off everything in my shop during my Celebrate Summer Sale.  Just click on the mini version of My Shop to the right to browse my entire inventory and save!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sailed on a Mini-Cruise

Jimmy and I decided that we would try to make the trek back to see our families for the 4th of July Holiday.  That holiday has always been special for the Newkirk family, as they have typically spent the entire day together partaking in all the local festivities.  Everyone would gather up their lawn chairs, baby strollers, & blankets and sit along with the rest of the crowds congregated along Ludington Avenue in downtown Ludington, MI.  Following the parade, they would head back to Gramma & Grampa's for a potluck picnic lunch filled with delicious morsels.  The remainder of the afternoon would be spent watching the kids play and everyone else would chat, nap, eat more, and the like.  Once evening hit, it was time to make our way to the Lake Michigan shore to wait for dusk when we could all marvel at the fabulous fireworks display.

This was my first year attempting to shoot fireworks.  This was part of the fab firework display Ludington  put on.

For years, either Jimmy or I would have to miss some, if not all, of the festivities, due to our positions as Park Rangers.  For those of you who aren't into parks or camping, the 4th of July Holiday is generally one of the top 3 busiest times of the whole season at any given park.  So, we were not only guaranteed to work during that weekend, but we would probably also be putting in some overtime depending on the volume of traffic at the park or whichever incident was bound to happen.

Now, my schedule is wide open, Jimmy does still work for the park system, but we also live 500 miles away from Ludington.  Luckily, the 4th fell on Monday this year, which happens to be Jimmy's scheduled day off along with Tuesday.  We started to brainstorm any possible way that we could make it downstate to join our families for the Holiday.  We explored a few possibilities, but we finally decided that a Mini-Cruise on the Lake Michigan Carferry, the S.S. Badger, was the best way for us to travel. Any way you slice it, the trip was going to take a minimum of 9 hours to complete.  Driving  to Manitowoc, WI, to catch the Badger would mean only about 5 hours for Savannah to be strapped into her car seat.  (Those of you with antsy little ones know that these sorts of things really factor into your travel plans.)  From there, the remaining 4 hours of our journey could be spent at our leisure meandering about the ship, stargazing from the top deck, playing in the Kid's Port, or simply trying to catch a nap.

Given our time constraints and the boat's sailing schedule, we would have to leave Manitowoc at 1:55a.m. on Monday the 4th and return on the 8:30p.m. boat departing Ludington Tuesday the 5th.  Yes, that's there and back within 48 hours, hence the Mini-Cruise.  Yes, we are most certainly insane to even consider it, but it has some stellar perks.  First, you save huge by returning in such a short time-frame.  Second, Savannah would think it was super awesome to travel by ship, so she would be so good, right?  Third, and most important to me, I figured these crazy travel hours might just give me a chance at shooting the sunrise into Ludington and sunset departing.  Sign us up!!!

The Ludington coastline at sunrise.  Big Point Sable, Ludington State Park (a place near and dear to my heart), is that tiny light at the shore's edge.  

Left: Ship's wake and sunrise.  Right: Sailing between the pier heads, the North Pierhead Light.

Approaching the Dock to view sunrise over downtown Ludington. I love the clock tower (near center) in this light!

We had a great sail across Lake Michigan, and I thoroughly enjoyed arriving to the lovely light of a warm sunrise.  I do have to admit, though, that trying to shoot photos in the lower light conditions of a sunrise or a sunset can be a bit tricky at times.  But, shooting sunrise from a moving that's a challenge!

We truly enjoyed our time with family and friends.  Sure we were a bit bleary eyed and zombie-like at times, but it was worth the effort. Jimmy and I agreed, and I am positive Savannah would too, that we would try such a crazy trek again.  The fireworks were fabulous, as always, but poor little Savannah wouldn't know, since she slept through the whole thing!  While we were waiting for the fireworks to begin, I nabbed this striking shot of the Badger during its special sunset cruise along the lake shore, just for the Holiday.

S.S. Badger during its sunset cruise for the 4th of July
Just a few more photos from our return trip to Manitowoc to follow...

Savannah and I on the return trip (She's still learning how to smile on cue.)

Time to set sail again...My Mom bids us farewell.

The North Pierhead again with the sunset and a storm front as a backdrop. Below: a closer look at the storm.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Planting Some Roots

I am finally starting to feel like I can begin planting some roots.  See, I have moved around quite a bit during my nearly 36 years on this planet.  This seemingly rootless existence has included 9 moves just within the past 6 years that my husband, Jimmy, and I have been married. The constant shuffling about finally came to an end this past January (1/11/11 to be exact, I thought even the date was a good sign).  That was the day the we moved into our lovely new house in the Western End of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, read remote location, in a tiny town called White Pine.  This marked an end to constant moving, rentals, and never really knowing where to call home.

It was during all this moving about that I realized that throughout all the change there were a few constants: my adoration for 1) Nature, 2) Art, & of course 3) my incredibly supportive Husband.  I have been artistic in one form or another for as long as I can remember.  But, it was during my 10 season tour as a Michigan State Park Ranger that I was compelled to capture Nature's beauty around me through photography.  

So, I have easily been snapping away for 10 years or more, but I would say that I really got serious about it last year.  2010 also marked my first Art Festival, The Wild Blueberry Festival in Paradise, MI,  and my online presence with my photos.  I still consider myself to be very early on in my photographic journey, and I certainly could not have done this alone.

  As I have already mentioned, Jimmy has been my rock and greatest cheerleader. Savannah, my very smart and creative, but not-so-patient 2 1/2 year old, does show a genuine interest in all of Mommy's pictures.  I don't think there are many kids her age out there who know what a Trillium is, but she does thanks to her attentiveness during my shoots!  

This also marks my very first blog, so I hope everyone enjoys it!  Thanks for taking your time to read my story and hopefully you'll decide to follow me on the journey.