Mini Update

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(click collage to view the pictures larger)

From the top left corner over:

  1. Lauren (right) and I posing for a selfie one Bible study evening. She’s fun ๐Ÿ™‚ .
  2. Christmas cards! I got an order for a bunch this week that I filled today. They do look snazzy, even though I don’t have any ribbon so I had to use yarn ๐Ÿ˜‰
  3. It’s beginning to look a lot like . . . anytime but Christmas! The weather has been phenomenal this year! Not any snow yet, just 60+ degree days that bring tons of smiles, like the one I captured on my brother, Caleb’s, face.
  4. More Christmas cards! I feel like I’m made of them these days! ๐Ÿ˜›
  5. A frosty morning! I felt like I was walking in a world Elsa had touched with her lovely ice. So much beauty.
  6. Dead branches kissed by the sunlight.
  7. Another Christmas card. I’m guessing you know now what’s pretty much always on my mind.
  8. A bunch of Bath & Body Works goodies Sarah and I got for friends this Christmas!
  9. Elijah. He is up to trouble, as always. ๐Ÿ™‚ This was one of the only pictures I got of him this evening, because he is always. Moving. I can’t get a clear shot of him very well, but I’m happy with the ones I do get ๐Ÿ™‚

I have been . . .

  • listening to Jillian Edwards’ All My Christmases. I’ve reviewed it, here, and yet I’m still listening to it though I can lip sync all of the songs. Pretty much perfectly. My library holds haven’t come in yet (cue the tears), so the fresh Christmas music has been low.
  • reading The Brontรซ Plot by Katherine Reay. This was a fun read, if a little uneventful. I suppose it would make a good stress-relief read, but I have been enjoying thrillers lately. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • studying The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp for Advent. And loving it. Every day really challenges me and overwhelms me because it’s packed with the character of our God. Wow. This is a must-read Advent devotional.
  • playing piano and trying to make a point at practicing reading music more often. I’m fairly good at sight reading . . . but not nearly as good as my classically trained friends who make me look like the oddball! ๐Ÿ˜› I’m used to pretty much being able to play all the songs I like through improv, so reading music is . . . *hem* uncomfortable at times. But I’m trying! Give me some credit!
  • lettering a ton of Christmas presents. So many, in fact, that I think I’m going to take January off for lettering!
  • babysitting kids a lot! By “kids”, I mean “siblings”. They can be quite a handful, especially since there can be quite a few of them around at once! It’s taught me more and more about mothering, though, so hey. I can’t complain.
  • cutting a ton of Christmas cards. This is irony, considering I can’t really cut straight lines, even with a paper cutter, and yet here I am cutting 100+ Christmas cards, one at a time. Maybe I should just pay the extra money to get Staples to cut it on their supercool laser cutting machine that does it all at once. *drools* *sighs at grossness of drool*
  • feeling moody and happy all at once. Lately my head has been kinda running at a hundred miles an hour (which is a lot faster than my legs can go, even at their fastest), which creates sort of a fog. Which makes me very moody. I’m hoping I can get a grip on my life soon so my head stops running!
  • writing bits and pieces of a new novel. I’m excited about it! More details coming soon.
  • finishing Algebra 1!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!
  • talking and de-stressing (new word?) with my girl Petra. I got to see her this past weekend, and she hung out with me while I cut Christmas cards (big surprise there) and she folded them (like a boss, you guys!). I was tired, and she noticed (lol). But she was there for me and we talked cameras and ISO settings and auto focus. Thanks, Petra! You’re one of those girls who reduces stress, rather than add it. ๐Ÿ˜€
  • dreaming about getting a DSLR. I have big dreams, guys, and this is one of the biggest for me. But it also means I can’t really spend much money anymore. ๐Ÿ™ Bummer.
  • wasting time obsessing over the details of my Christmas cards. Wowzers.
  • singing a song I know of Revelation 7:10 and 12, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” I’ll embed the amazing song at the end of this post ๐Ÿ™‚
  • grinning because I met someone who finally speaks my tech language (that is, someone other than my dad!). She designs and prints t-shirts, and I’ve actually known her for a while, but we started talking dpi’s and vectors and Adobe Illustrator. It’s nice to know someone I see face-to-face actually gets this stuff, not just the countless people on Pinterest.
  • stalking this amazing blog, The Postman’s Knock. I love it and really want to learn modern calligraphy in the new year. When I can actually spend some money. *sighs*
  • laughing at the fact that I got one of my best friends the same thing she got me for Christmas ๐Ÿ™‚
  • eating lots of Christmas cookies that my baking-genius sister makes. ๐Ÿ™‚ Mmm…

Merry Christmas, everybody! Have a great week!

Psst! My Christmas cards are still available, here!

Back To School

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Micah and I. The two of us are obsessed with selfies.

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Working on my latest lettering project. Not saying what it is yet! ๐Ÿ™‚

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See this schedule? I love this thing! It not only has a time schedule for the day, but to-do lists on the sides and extra space. I found a template on Pinterest, but took it into Inkscape and made it my own. Still, creds to ScaredSquirrel.com.

We started school yesterday. I can’t say I am upset about getting into a schedule again, although it’s always a rough transition for me. There’s something about getting things done, though, that’s addicting. I have my daily schedules/to-do lists all printed up and filled out, my binder decorated with the printable from this postย on the front and this one on the back, and my notebooks all set aside, ready to go.

On 9.9.15:ย My first cross-country meet is this Saturday. I’m nervous, but I know that once I start running, I’ll be fine . . . if I don’t start up too fast and kill myself.

On 9.12.15:ย So I loved the race! It’s so hard to explain (trust me, people, there will be a cross-country runner in a novel sometime!) the feelings I had throughout the whole race. Like, when I started, I was so nervous I could cry. The last time I had nerves like that was the first day of summer camp this year (I get really homesick), and so I was not happy to be feeling those emotions again! But once I got started, things started looking up. Mile 2 was the best mile, mostly because I started passing people :D. Then, in mile 3, the last 200 meters . . . ugh. Let’s just say I wanted to collapse on the ground, but I still had about two football fields (length wise) to go! Overall, I’m pumped for next Saturday, and I’ve got a feeling cross-country will become an addiction.

And here’s the deal: I amย seriouslyย behind on the photography challenge posts. Lauren and I are done with week 5 (floral), and almost week 6 (micro). We’re beginning week 7 (meaningful reminders). I will try to get weeks 5 and 6 posted at some point, but just to let you know, we haven’t given up, and Iย remember that you’re still here. ๐Ÿ™‚

Music Review: The Unmaking

featured image creds nicholenordeman.com.

I have to start with a disclaimer on how biased this review will be. Nichole Nordeman’s music has impressed me ever since I could understand the things she was talking about in her songs. (more…)

Never Forget

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It’s 9/11. The anniversary always rolls around before I realize it…not that I remember the actual event (I wasn’t even one yet!), but I still shake my head in disbelief at the numbers.

The number of deaths.

The number of degrees Fahrenheit the fires rose to.

The number of planes.

The number of feet the towers were before they came crashing down.

The number of families left behind.

I will never forget.

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Photographer Interview: Petra Grace

Hey everyone! I’m excited to launch another guest post with one of my dear friends from cross-country, Petra! She’s been a huge blessing in my life, and I just recently realized that she’s a lovely photographer, too! I couldn’t let the opportunity to have her here pass me by, so today she’s joining us to share some tips that will blow your world.

Hey Petra! I’m really glad to have you here today. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog, Petra Grace Photography?

Thank you for having me, Aliyah! Well, I’m a fifteen year old sophomore and the oldest of my family. I’ve always loved photography, but it wasn’t until recently that I got very serious about it.100_3396 (2)
Last year around this time, I began blogging my photography experiences. It was very fun, but it wasn’t very serious (my pictures weren’t all that good).

Your blog revolves primarily around photography. What or who inspired you to pick up photography?

Honestly, I think that I was born with an interest in photography ๐Ÿ˜‰

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When my family first got a point-and-shoot camera (something like 6 years ago), I was the one who used it the most. I loved fiddling with the settings and seeing the different results. Last summer, my parents gave me the option of taking a photography class. When they asked me, I think that my reaction was along the lines of, “ARE YOU SERIOUS? OHMYGOODNESS, THANK YOU!!” I went into the first class, not really knowing what to expect.

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My teacher was amazing. I can hardly put it into words. She made the classes fun and interactive, but she also seemed to build the skill level every time that we met. She also spent a lot of time outside of class answering my questions and mentoring me on the side. I would definitely say that my teacher was a big part of the beginning inspiration.

What do you absolutely adore about photography?

The thing that I love most about photography is the depth of what it captures. One millisecond of all of eternity… And you’ve got it frozen in time. Photography is about capturing the moment, and expressing yourself.

DSCF7344 (2)God has created a moving picture for us to live in; much prettier than anything we could capture (and try to recreate) with a camera. God is in everything beautiful. And when we capture something beautiful on camera… It’s really hard to put into words.

When is your favorite time of year/time of day to shoot? When is your LEAST favorite time of year/time of day to shoot?

I don’t have a favorite time of day to shoot. They all work beautifully for me.

DSCF7281 (2)Ah, the age-old question. I love every time of the year, I really do. However, I would have to say that my favorite time of the year to shoot is autumn.

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Not only is the scenery beautiful, but it doesn’t take that much effort to just go out and do it (you’ll understand what I mean in the next sentence, or so). My least favorite time of year is winter. I’m not hating on winter, believe me. It just takes a lot of extra effort to get good pictures. Between the gazillion layers of clothes, the foggy lenses, and numb fingers… It just takes more time. However, the tradeoff is the pictures that you get in the end. Winter pictures are gorgeous.

What area of photography is your favorite (i.e. landscape, macro/plants, portrait, etc.)?

This is a tough question. Recently, I’ve been doing more landscape/plants/outdoorsy type of things. But I LOVE doing portraits. I would have to say that portraits are definitely my favorite.

DSCF7161 (2)Flowers are great, but you can’t really ask them questions about their family.

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And they never laugh at my jokes, which is a little bit discouraging.

Is there an inspiring bit of advice were you given as a beginning photographer that you’d like to pass on to us?

One thing that my teacher told me time and time again is to just keep practicing. Practice makes perfect, as the old saying goes. And in this instance, it’s true. The only way to improve your pictures is to practice your techniques.

What’s the #1 mistake you’ve made in photography that you’d like to steer us away from?

Without a doubt, comparison. You should never compare your photos with somebody else’s. One thing that almost crippled me at the beginning of my journey was comparing my pictures. Look at other photographers’ pictures. They can be very inspiring. But don’t compare their apples to your oranges. I say that because no photographer uses the same techniques.

DSC_2739 (2)Everybody is different in the way that they approach things. Starting out, your pictures aren’t going to look like the pictures of an experienced wedding photographer. Chances are, they have totally different gear and years of practice.

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Use great photos to set your standards high, don’t use them to tear your spirit down.

What kinds of cameras have you used and what kind do you recommend?

I have had different experience with different cameras. Honestly, I don’t really care what the camera is. I adore my camera, but I’m not married to one brand. I began on cheap point-and-shoot cameras, then I stepped up to a film DSLR, my next one was a really nice point and shoot, and then I found a really good deal on a digital DSLR. My camera is Nikon brand and I do like it, but I haven’t really had experience with other brands. There is a really good resource that I found, which makes buying a camera 100% less stressful: http://www.keh.com This website features and sells gently used gear for amazing prices. I was shocked at the good deals that I found. I was able to purchase my body camera for around $70.00 and a new lens for another $70.00.

If you could take pictures of any place in the world, where would it be?

This is a great question. All of the places that first came to my mind are in Europe. I’m just going to say Europe ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you for having me on your blog, Aliyah! This has been fun!

My note: wasn’t that one of the best interviews in the world?! Give her a big hand, all of you. She did fantastic.