Posts Tagged ‘bloggy friends’

What I learned from attending my 1st photography conference.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

I’ve had many daydreams about attending a photography conference. There are tons of them all over the world. I’ve fantasized about spending a weekend away with photographer friends in a far away place doing nothing but shooting and talking photography. All.Day.Long.



Face Your Fears & Shoot in Manual

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Sarah is another fellow alum from the Meagan Francis writing classes I took a few months ago. She is one of the Sarahs of the popular Salt & Nectar blog. If you haven’t heard of it check it out right away. There is something for everyone and Sarah is doing big things in the blogosphere.

Her guest post is about overcoming fears of shooting in Manual mode and how I was part of her inspiration to do so. *tear* Seriously what’s better than that?

I own a Nikon D40x camera. A wonderful (and expensive) DSLR camera I owned for five (FIVE!) years before I took a single photo in manual mode.

I’m so ashamed. I can’t believe I’ve been treating my fantastic camera like a point and shoot for all this time. I took photography in college AND I got an A from a notoriously picky and difficult grader. I loved it. I took to it like a duck to water.

And then I promptly forgot everything I learned.

I made up for my handicap by buying more advanced technology and using it as a curse. But eventually I got increasingly frustrated by the pictures I wanted to take and the ones I was capable of taking.

So, how did I finally make the move?

Don’t worry. I’m not going to start talking ISO and aperature…mainly because I’m just barely beginning to understand it myself. What I am going to do is give you some tips for how I finally started learning about those words myself and finally rotated that little dial to M.

Be inspired. If I’m being honest, Veronica was a huge reason I was brave enough to try manual. I saw her gorgeous images and thought, “I want to do that!” More importantly, I was inspired by her honesty and how far she’d come in a short amount of time. It made it seem doable.

Find some great tutorials. I’m a big fan of My 3 Boybarian’s 31 Days to a Better Photo series. I know Veronica will soon be writing an ebook of her own on the subject. The web is chock-a-block full of amazing photographers who desperately want you to get in manual mode and succeed. Heck, just go on Pinterest and search “manual mode.” You’ll have a pinboard full in no time.

Buy a 50mm prime lens. I know! Everyone says it’s not about the equipment, it’s about the skill. And that is true…to an extent. But the truth is you’re going to get frustrated fast using a kit lens. A 50mm will make it so much easier and it’s not even that expensive…as lenses go anyway! I am so very, very glad I took Veronica’s advice on this.

Just do it. Of course, all these tips will get you a whole mess of nowhere if you don’t just dive in and start taking pictures manually. I can read the best photography book on the planet. Heck, I could have Me Ra Koh coaching me one on one but if I don’t hold that camera up to my eye and start trying it myself I’m never going to get anywhere. You’re pictures will look horrible…at first.

It’s not like you are learning on real film. Being scared to try something on a digital camera is about as crazy as you get. You might have to delete a hundred pictures but when you get that first perfect shot, you’ll be hooked. Promise.


~ Sarah Stewart Holland lives a big life with her husband and two boys in a tiny town in Kentucky. When not mourning the loss of The Oprah Winfrey Show or knitting, she blogs at Salt & Nectar.

Confessions of a Recovering Single Mom

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Cara is hilarious. Period. She is a former MBA wife I met on Twitter. She recently started her own blog and I can’t get enough of her fresh and unfiltered writing so I invited her to guest post.

This post was inspired and partly titled by my dear friend, and sometimes sanity coach, Mia Austin. She is the originator of the Recovering Single Mom Brand, and I am ever indebted to her for making me aware of this very serious problem, and for inspiring me to believe help is available.

I have four-year olds. Up until they were 3 years and 8 months old, I was a single mom. My husband and I accidentally conceived our fraternal twins, and for the most part, both didn’t want to rush into a relationship based ONLY upon the fact that we had children. We had both seen our fair share of relationships in our families and friend circles die for that very reason, and because we both loved our children too much to disappoint them, we both decided it was best to parent together but hold off on marriage until we both were certain we were ready. Even if that meant we didn’t end up married to one another. Luckily, we got it together, did marry one another, and I am currently 5 months recovering from being a Single Mom.

Admittedly, I have relapses probably once a month. I override their father with at least one form of discipline every 30 days or so. I excuse them from something he had them do, and blatantly undermine his authority, because I didn’t feel what he did was best, and probably didn’t understand why it was even a good idea to do it in the first place. Every time I send him to the store I have a “GEEZ I should have just gone MYSELF!” moment. And what I most suffer from is the tendency to FLIP OUT monumentally when anyone praises his effort as a father. But right now, I am telling you I will overcome…

Recently I was upset because my husband reprimanded our son for spilling a drink and not telling us. Wait…why? Well, because my son spilled a drink my husband left out on the brand new dining room table all night. Doesn’t he notice me diligently cleaning up every single solitary dish we own nightly? Doesn’t he see me make the effort to rid our space of cups of anything because no matter how cute that little pie faced girl from Signs was, leaving cups of liquid around preschoolers is begging for disaster? NO ONE WANTS TO SWING AWAY, M. NIGHT SHAMALYAN; WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH PAPER TOWELS FOR THAT. Instead of being happy that my husband was correcting a poor behavior we were having trouble with, I was mad that the guy couldn’t put a cup away. Don’t question my priorities though, you would be mad too. Maybe.


I like doing things MY WAY. Usher Raymond my way. What I say goes…and I’m in control. *busts into a body flex* I wouldn’t say I was controlling, but I know my husband would. In fact, when I was having trouble writing this, he laughed at me about how the only time I am not controlling is when it’s in direct comparison to other people…like Kim Jong IL, and Fidel Castro.

Usher My Way

But, let’s be honest, being a mom is about having some sort of control. The likelihood that you can control your children and their needs is slim, so you should have a handle on at least, oh; I don’t know…EVERYTHING ELSE. And I did. I fed, bathed, clothed, and cared for my household my way. I had to. No one else was there to do so, because of circumstances that I could have sat around crying about, but I didn’t. I got a grip and starting to maintain a safe and happy home for my twins. We created a life that worked for us, and I was in charge of it. Fast forward to the present though, and relinquishing that control gets a bit tough.

The funny thing is, most of the stories I could complain about here, as a recovering single mom, could very well be called “Things Wives Complain About”. The only difference is the back story. I was often told as a single mother, during tough times, that having a husband wasn’t some magic band-aid that fixed all my single mom problems. In a lot of situations a man might just have added to the chaos, or frustration because of the added opinion, stress, or just the addition of another human to the mix. But you don’t really listen to that when you’re alone and feeling struggly (yes, struggly. Don’t judge my grammar).

When you’re a single mom, you think of a husband as a magical, mythical being riding in on a noble steed in the sunset. Like Fabio, or Harry Potter. You think to yourself “…Goodness, self. If I only had a husband I wouldn’t have (insert problem here).” That just isn’t true. One of my favorite posts on this very blog is about NOT praising husbands for rudimentary things that they should do just because they are husbands and fathers. The big difference is women who are married have always had the extra set of hands, opinions and chaos. I learned how to move without all that weight, and now that I’ve gained it, and am having trouble adjusting my wardrobe.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, my husband is a great dad. He always has done absolutely the BEST he knew to do in every situation concerning our children. We lived 6 hours away from one another for the bulk of the time I was raising them, so obviously our relationship could have been poor and totally strained. We had our ups and downs, but really, on the whole worked well together as parents. That doesn’t mean everything was perfect, but “deadbeat dad” was NEVER a thought with the guy.

The problem is we live in a society that praises men but expects from women. When I was raising my children ALONE no one was giving me the raised glass, and congratulating me for being their mom. Now that we live together though, he gets props for being a dad ALL THE TIME. Even though it gets irritating, I have to constantly remind myself hey, it could be worse. He could be getting no props and you could still be parenting alone.

And that my friends, is why I am still a RECOVERING Single Mom. The spirit of the head honcho is still burning deep within me. When I am totally cured, I am definitely going to go ahead and write a 12 step program. And NO ONE better EVER try to improvise or add steps….just kidding.

Cara is a 28 year old Recovering Single Mom living in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and ridiculously adorable 4 year old twins. New to the blogging world Cara is a SAHM that can usually be found reading books, blowing bubbles, or singing along to the Fresh Beat Band in her kitchen.

Making work at home work (even with little ones)

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

I’m really excited to introduce you to Doña. We met while taking one of Meagan Francis’ writing classes and have been online friends since. She is a super smart and talented mom who knows what it’s like to juggle motherhood with writing while making it work. Doña was kind enough to share some tips with us on making it all work. 

make work at home work


Are you struggling to balance your writing and your family?  Your blog and your babies?

Trying to work at home when you have little ones certainly presents some special challenges.  But with some straightforward planning and boundary-setting, you can manage running a business and running a family without damaging or neglecting either.

Have Dedicated Work Hours

We all need schedules.  Babies need nap and bedtimes at regular times, and your brain needs to know when to turn off the parenting switches and turn on the working ones.

Find a schedule that fits your life (around school and activity schedules) and your rhythms (are you an early bird or a night owl?) and then do your best to stick to it.  Things will come up and kids will get sick, so sometimes you may find yourself squeezing work into unusual times when your schedule gets shaken up or you have a deadline approaching.

Be willing to be flexible, but get back to a regular routine as soon as you can.

Take Yourself – And Your Time – Seriously

Train your family that when you are working you are unavailable to solve problems, lend an ear, or provide a taxi ride. If you treat your work hours seriously, it will help your family learn to respect them, too.  Promise yourself you will focus during your work time and give yourself permission not to work outside of that.  It will be easier for your kids — and you, too! — to know that when you shut the office door (even if the office is your bedroom) you are unavailable to be mom for a while.

Get Help

From the outside it may look like successful work-at-home moms are managing to do it all, but the truth is they nearly always have help.  That help may be a work-at-home partner, a babysitter, a cleaner or a mother’s helper. Identify which areas of your life can be best delegated to someone else and get comfortable asking for what you need.

Know Your Goals

The best way to get where you want to go is to know where you want to go.  Brainstorm big goals for your business.  How much do you want to make this year? How many clients or readers do you want to gain?  Now break that into smaller goals to help you get there.  How many clients must you gain each month to get to your annual goal? What kind of marketing is needed to snag them?  How many guest posts should you write?

Break that list down further to what you can accomplish in a week, a day, an hour.  When you are ready to work, pull out your lists and you will know exactly what you need to do next without spinning your wheels and wasting your precious time. Being clear about your goals will also make it easy to say no to tasks and time-eaters that will not help you achieve them.

Lose the Distractions

Research shows our brains cannot focus on multiple tasks at once.  Multi-tasking just means doing more things, slower. When you have limited working hours, efficiency is critical. Strive for what Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, calls “single-tasking.” First, turn off all distractions like the internet, the phone’s ringer, and (if you can) turn over the baby monitor to someone else. Identify the next task you need to do toward your goals and do only that. When that is done, begin the next task.

make work at home work

You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you focus on one thing, and only one thing, at a time.




Doña Bumgarner traded in a career running huge projects at Apple with engineers who called her The Mom for a freelance writing business at home with the toddler who calls her Mama.  She blogs at Aubergine and lives in Santa Cruz, CA. 



Moving Week & What’s Happening

Monday, May 7th, 2012

It hasn’t been long but I’ve missed you guys! I guess blogging has finally become a serious habit because I feel…off. I haven’t written much lately since we are moving this week. Thursday morning at 4:00 a.m. my family and I will embark upon our longest road trip yet. Ten hours together in our SUV as we head from Ithaca, New York to Indianapolis, Indiana. We are all very excited.

The kids are used to long trips in the car and my husband and I hope that our super early departure will ensure that the kids stay asleep for at least half the trip. Cross your fingers for us and feel free to leave your road trip tricks in the comments below.

I’m documenting our trip for my blog, a super awesome photography project I’ll share later this month, and some cute travel journals I am starting for the kids. I’ll try to pop in here and there to check in but have some great guest posts lined up for this week.

There are a ton of things I want to share with you but since I *know* Cameron will be up soon I’ll be brief.

Time for some blog-cleaning and mind clearing:

  • Sign up for my monthly newsletter. I promise it will be awesome. I am working on a free e-book for subscribers (hint: it’s photography related and addresses many of the questions I receive from friend and readers). I hope to send the first newsletter in June and am working hard to make it sparkle. Just for you.
  • I bought some film for my Polaroid camera. The first two shots were overexposed since I didn’t shield them from the sunlight quickly enough. I was unable to take any more pictures. I have no idea what’s wrong and haven’t had the time to investigate. I really hope I am able to figure it out because the film and filter weren’t cheap but more importantly I was super excited. Grr.
  • We had another playdate with my photographer friend Amanda. It was a vintage theme stylized shoot and it was awesome. Preston loves Amanda’s son and wanted to say goodbye before our summer trip to Indiana. It was a great day.
  • I am back in the swing of things with my ice cream maker! I love that thing. Do you have one? Any favorite recipes?
  • My first photography session went well. My client was a classmate of my husband’s and his wife They bid on a session with me during the school’s annual auction. It was super flattering and I couldn’t wait to work with them. Our shoot took place ay Buttermilk Falls during the golden hour on Saturday. I learned a ton and will definitely have more to share.
  • My e-course obsession continues. Obviously I’m a filthy, awful liar who can’t keep promises to herself but whatever, at least I’m learning and not out spray painting buildings during my free time. Right? RIGHT!
  • I drank too much coffee today. Can you tell?
  • OH, we toured my husband’s professor’s vineyard on Sunday and WOW it was gorgeous. We sipped on a few wines, enjoyed lunch at the professor’s home, drove around the lake, and had crazy amounts of fun.
  • Thanks for all the comments and emails. I hope to get caught up during the car ride on Thursday. You guys are awesome xo
keuka lake vineyard

keuka lake vineyard

keuka lake vineyard

toddler girl smiling

toddler boy slide

Happy Monday.


Leap into spring…even if it feels like winter.

Friday, April 6th, 2012

The freakishly unseasonable temperatures we experienced during Spring Break have ruined me. The temperature is in the 40-50 degree range which is normally quite balmy to this native New Englander but now seems frigid. I *hate* it. These seasonable temperatures and the strong winds accompanying them have me in a funk.

Over it. I got a taste of Spring and I’d like it back. Immediately.

We were fortunate enough to bask in some sunshine this week. I think the shot below is a winner. It’s proof that it is in fact spring and warmer weather is near.



I am so excited to be a sponsor of the Leap into Spring! photo challenge hosted by Bumbles & Light, Project Alicia, & Live and Love Out Loud. If you’ve never participated in one of their challenges you HAVE to check it out. They have creative prompts, fantastic discounts, and giveaways. Not to mention the countless gorgeous photographs for you to look over.

Get shooting and go enter. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got.

a note to my fellow little guys

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Tuesday afternoon my husband and I were on our way to a park a few towns away when I noticed an unusual email in my usually standard inbox. I saw what appeared to be a message from a casting agent’s office in New York City office. I can’t see too well without my glasses so I assumed it was some sort of crafty spam and enjoyed myself at the park.

I decided to mention the email to my husband and made him read it. An agency stumbled upon this post and thought it was funny. They are looking to cast funny mom types for an upcoming pilot for a major television network. She asked if I would be interested in auditioning and if so to give her a call that afternoon.
WHAT!?! Me? No freaking way. This is the Nigerians getting back at me for trying to exchange their winning gazillion dollar lottery ticket for a picture I drew of a spider. No freaking way. So I immediately ordered a fur coat (Ima be a TV star dontchaknow) and gave the agency a call at my husband’s urging.

See, my husband is worried that I have abandoned all my previous ambitions for a life of internet caterwauling and rabble rousing WHICH is partially true. He seemed pretty psyched at the prospect of me doing something noninternet-y with my life in the near future.

I called. She was SO nice. I could tell she really took the time to read my blog and get to know me and I was impressed. I do impress easily like when those monkeys play the maracas on the Fresh Beat Band but I mean REALLY impressed. It is always nice to hear from a total stranger that they enjoy your work (I use the word work loosely because some people don’t agree that calling Caillou a douche is a job).

I auditioned via Skype. I was so nervous I cannot even tell you. I thanked my lucky stars that I had been a pageant contestant and model as a child (its finally paying off!) because those interview skills and the few auditions I went on were the only thing that helped me get through it. I’ve been nervous a million times in my life but this was totally different. A random and unexpected bit of good fortune fell in my lap and I did not want to mess it up.

I did my best and now I wait. I’m not expecting to land the role and I’m not holding my breath. Not because I wouldn’t love to give something like that a try but because I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. I have no reason to be disappointed. All is fantastic and I’m just happy that someone out there got a laugh from my writing; and took the time to reach out to me and offer my a chance at something so ridiculously incredible that it is beyond the scope of my comprehension.

Life is good.


I wasn’t going to share this experience because obviously nothing has come of it yet and there isn’t much to tell but then I realized something.

I know a lot of you out there write, create, photograph, or whatever with the hopes that someday you will be more than the little guy. Someday someone will notice and reward your efforts. There are times when it feels like you are wasting your energy and soul on something no one appreciates.

Don’t quit.

Someone appreciates it. Someone is laughing, crying (in a good way), or loving everything you do. Keep going. Keep your head up when that list comes out and you aren’t on it, don’t give up hope when no one leaves a comment, forget about the “big” guys.

Focus on you.

Do *your* best even if you think no one is watching.

Someone is.

One day it will pay off. If you think you’ve made it only to lose that special opportunity as it was finally within your grasp, hold on a little longer.

You’re closer.

Don’t quit. Someone thinks what you are doing is great.

And you should too.