Month : September 2013

six years of smith.

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As promised, after my extra-long five year post last September, I’m keeping it short and sweet this year. The celebration includes heading downtown for brunch at a favorite spot, then to the nursery to get a new tree for our backyard (they’re developing the open land behind us…nooooo!). No frills Sunday celebration. Perfect.

I’m a happy wife living a happy life. Cheers to the next six and many more!

refocus.

In the coming few weeks I’ll post here from time to time, but my energy and excitement is all focused on this new life step

I’m in the midst of shooting ten portfolio-building sessions in the coming few weeks, and between shoots I’m working on a web site, marketing material for new and potential clients, taking more classes, scouting locations, shopping for props and equipment, and editing, posting, and delivering photographs to sweet families like this one who’ve trusted me with their time to capture some moments.

ClickSmith Photography | Des Moines, Iowa

 

It’s exciting and happening faster than I would have planned, but I’m more than happy to roll with the pace. Just know that for the near future, my focus (pun intended) is on this little journey and wherever it leads me. I’d love it if you’d follow along with me here. 🙂

Hello Yum | Bestowed Box

When Bestowed contacted me to ask if I’d like to try and review one of the company’s monthly subscription boxes, I couldn’t hit “reply” quickly enough to say yes. I had seen advertisements for the company and while I’m a fan of subscription boxes, I hadn’t yet tried one for any of the natural/healthy snacks that are out there. I’m always on the hunt for new healthy snack and meal ideas, and the more “ready to eat” options I can learn about, the better. And a company whose mission is to help teach people to eat better is right up my alley.

Bestowed boxes

The first thing that struck me about the box when it arrived was the weight – this thing was literally loaded with goodies. Some were from brands I’d seen in the health section and others were new to me. I design for a food ingredients group through my day job, so I found myself scrutinizing the labels perhaps a bit more than a typical consumer, but was impressed to see lots of familiar labeling I’ve worked with before including Certified Vegan, USDA Organic, and Non-GMO Project Verified. Here’s the rundown of the contents and some notes on my favorites:

Bestowed-August-2013-Box

 

Lundberg Family Farms Santa Fe Barbecue Rice Chips. My box arrived right at lunchtime in our office. My coworker and I took these down, well, instantly. I don’t have a need to go gluten-free, but for no other reason than switching it up, I liked the nuttier taste of a rice based chip than a corn or potato one. The flavor was delish – I do love a BBQ chip!

Living Healthy World Flax & Chia Stick. I recently discovered chia and have been adding seeds to my cereal and yogurts, and drinking kombucha with chia floating in it (I know, sounds weird, but YUM). I also regularly make homemade protein bars for Page and me using milled flax. I’d use this product in either application – it was really fresh (no clumps!) and I liked the convenient grab-and-go packaging. I added some to my yogurt with a touch of cereal at the office one morning – very yummy.

Mighty Leaf Sunburst Green Iced Tea Pouch. I made a pitcher of this for the weekend and it didn’t hang around long. Very refreshing with the heat we’ve been having, but I’m lazy when it comes to my iced tea and for convenience alone, would probably keep buying the pre-brewed jugs from the store (we’re mildly addicted to our Trader Joes tea).

Cascadian Farm Crunchy Oats & Honey Granola Bar. I know some people don’t like these super-crunchy bars because they ARE messier, but they are my favorite kind! Reminds me of the Nature Valley ones I’ve been eating since I was a kid, but the healthier/organic kind! This served as a quick breakfast one morning last week and got me to lunchtime with no problem!

Miracle Noodle Angel Hair Noodles and Nakano Seasoned Rice Vinegar. I haven’t used these yet, but I expect them to be some of my favorites in the box. I often make a dinner that uses both of these items, a veggie and steak stir-fry. I always start with a rice vinegar when I’m cooking meat in my wok, along with a little sesame oil. I did taste a little of the vinegar out of the bottle and was pleased that it tasted fresh and very flavorful (some can be more on the bland side). I have bought these ZERO CALORIE (!) noodles before, not understanding that they expire, well, more quickly than regular pasta. 🙂 I love any noodle and especially one with a fraction of the calories!

And to keep it real, I did have a least favorite item — the seaweed snacks. I’ll just leave it as a simple, “no thank you.” 😉

My husband, Page, the less health-food-prone of the two of us, did immediately call dibs on the Reboot supplements, which are more his thing than mine. The packaging was especially cool on these, with a seam separating the water from the dissolving powder, all in one packet. The purpose of the supplement is to combat oxidative stress, and you can drink right from the packet, on the go. (Perfect for after workouts!)

Aside from the items themselves, there was a booklet detailing all of the contents, along with recipes for ways to use them, and coupons along with suggestions for places to buy more of an item I liked. Especially with items I wasn’t certain what to do with, the booklet was especially helpful.

If you’re curious to try this subscription for yourself, you can receive $5 off your first box with code: 5OFFBESTOWED03. Just click their logo below to be taken to their site. Thanks to Bestowed for the opportunity to try a box!

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new and exciting

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I’ve been interested in photography for the longest time. At an early age, I would set up “studios” in our basement to photograph my bossed-around brothers willing subjects against such riveting backgrounds as wrinkled bed sheets and hastily-hung blankets. I dug and dug for examples of these artistic gems last weekend while home at my parents’ house, but the next best thing I could find was this page from a middle school autobiography project, detailing that I want to run my own photography studio when I’m older:

8th grade autobio

In college, I had my first exposure to some real photography classes as part of my journalism degree. I was more into the layout/design career path, not taking photographs, but I still have fond memories of the early exposure (pun intended) to shooting in manual mode and developing film in the darkroom.

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When my first job out of college centered around the scrapbooking industry, the interest in photography took on a new level, and I was rarely without my point-and-shoot capturing some over-flashed, poorly composed (but still recorded!) moments of my twenties. (PS – I reallllly liked dramatic tilt, can you tell? — That would be Lake Michigan in the background – and apparently there’s a tidal wave happening.)

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Two years ago, I finally bit the bullet and with birthday cash from family to help me, I purchased my first “real” camera, which I didn’t take out of Auto mode for a whole year. But all the while, I was following photography blogs, subscribing to newsletters, and taking a class here and there. In the shot above (party prep for my first Oscar party!) I was clearly still getting the hang of tack sharp focus.

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Photography excited me and scared me all at once. It was overwhelming to simultaneously think about aperture and shutter speed and ISO and lighting conditions and exposure…and that was without anyone in front of the lens to direct or pose at the same time. I worked on a LOT of still life shots over the following months — controlling the scene and the subject while figuring out all the other mechanics. The last of these to learn was clearly white balance…as seen in the yellow cast birthday cake slice (Happy birthday, Lulu – 2011!) shot above.

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I’m not usually a self-doubter, but in this case, I wondered if I could ever really get the hang of this. I decided to just start by learning more and more so I could get a better self-assessment. I took more classes at a local shop, purchased online video training, joined webinars, and read, read, read every book or blog I could find. And slowly, but surely, things started to click.

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I started taking impromptu shots of friends and family and putting them on facebook. A couple friends asked me to take family pictures for them. I was still very focused on getting all the camera settings right and not very good at doing any amount of directing or carrying on conversation with the people in the shots to make them feel comfortable while doing so. But I was thrilled for the practice, and fell in love with the fact that I got to be an observer of awesome moments between the people I was shooting. It wasn’t long before I realized I may have more practicing to do, but I was in love with photographing people.

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Love aside, the fact remained that I was quickly becoming aware of the mounting investment I was making in the equipment and the time it takes to shoot and edit each session. And yet with every round of photos I did for friends and family, I wanted to do “just one more” to further practice before making anything “official”.

After several “just one mores”, I finally feel confident and consistent enough, and like I’ve found my style, to start making this a bit more than a hobby. 🙂

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A huge THANK YOU to the encouraging friends and family who’ve helped me get this rolling! I’m excited for this new endeavor more than any other project I’ve taken on. For anyone interested, please visit me over at my facebook page (website coming soon!).

currently.

Sometimes, you need to step outside,

get some air,

and remind yourself of who you are

and where you want to be.

[gossip girl]