before and after

Recently I went to my doctor for a check-up.  While there, I noticed the lobby walls were bare.  I got this idea– what if I could display some of my portraits on these walls?  My doctor was just as enthusiastic about it as I was, and so, I got to work.  I selected photos from my gallery, trying to make sure that various ages and ethnicities were represented.  Once I got the okay from my doctor, I got the prints hung with Bob’s help.  (yes, I know, Bob the Builder…. )  I couldn’t believe how these portraits transformed the space.  From ho-hum to bright.  From sterile to warm and inviting.  What do you think?  I really love how it turned out!

Here’s what I saw when I came….



… and then Bob and I got to work.  (Can we fix it?  YES WE CAN!!)


Couldn’t help myself.



I chose to display my portraits on “Thin Prints”.  It’s a method of infusing the image onto a background and then finished with a beautiful luster sheen.  The image is fingerprint resistant, and it will last forever.  Not only that– you don’t have to worry about glass breaking, glare, matching frames, etc. etc.  These prints seem to float off the wall, with a thicker backing, and they look simply stunning.


And here’s what it looked like after we were all done.  (drumroll please…….)  TA-DA!!!



But that’s not all.  I also noticed that there was a corner by the check-in window that could use a little TLC.  The staff told me they’d tried hanging plants there, but never with any luck.  I said it’s better to keep patients alive and have plants dying than the other way around.  So, I suggested a floral wrapped canvas print.  This baby won’t need one bit of watering or fertilizer, and it’s always in bloom.  Check, and double check.



And that’s the before-and-after transformation.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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Jan - It’s lovely!

admin - Thanks, Jan!

Jeff - Looks great… Those thin prints really look good and liven up the room. Nice work!

admin - Thanks, hon… I couldn’t do any of this without your support!

Martha Helmuth - These prints add color and life the space. Nice job, Jen!

admin - Thanks, Mom– especially for all your behind-the-scenes coordinating to make it happen!

believe it or not, spring is coming…

With such cold temperatures around here, it’s hard to believe that spring will ever come.  Howling winds, freezing rain (what?) and — yes, even snow– has me desperate for warmer weather.  Recently our family took a day trip to a high school friend’s maple tree farm.  They have quite a large operation, and it’s been in the family for five generations!  I felt like we were going back in time, trudging back a long and muddy lane to get to the trees.  They tap over 200 maples (used to be 400, but they’re scaling back) on about 400 acres.  We got to help with the process from start to delicious, dripping, mouth-watering finish.   It was a reminder that nature always knows what to do, and when.  And, even though it feels like winter– the sap is running, and spring is on the way!





The trees stretched to the sky, with buckets hanging to catch the sap.  Erika, my friend that runs the operation with her family, told us we could taste the sap fresh from the tree if we wanted.  All the boys tried it– they said it tasted like cold, slightly sweetened water.


Larry, Erika’s dad, showed us how he taps the trees (drills) to get the sap in the first place.  Each year the tree needs to be drilled in a different spot, so it can heal from the last season.  After drilling, a spile is placed into the tree and a bucket hangs on that. You know when it’s time to start drilling by paying attention to the weather. When the nights are still at or below freezing, and the daytime temps go above freezing, it’s time.  This pattern of freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw is what starts the sap flowing in the trees. I don’t know who figured this out, but it’s fascinating to me!!


I told them to put us to work.  We wanted to learn all we could about the process, in case we ever try this with our trees on the new property someday.  We started by grabbing buckets, then trudging out to gather the sap.  The boys loved it!  I’m sure it would grow old if they had to do it on a daily basis for weeks on end, but that day they couldn’t wait to fill up the bucket, dump it into a barrel, and race out to collect more.


The next stop was the sugaring house.  This was my favorite part.  As we approached the building, we could smell firewood burning, and see the smoke rising into the cold air.  Once inside, it was cozy, warm, steamy, and smelled faintly of caramel corn.  They have an evaporator that they stoke with wood, and then it boils down the sap into syrup.  Long ago folks used to have to stir it constantly to keep it from burning.  Now, this machine keeps the liquid moving all on its own.  We could hear the gurgling, boiling sap, and see how it went from clear (in one bin) to light amber (in the final bin).  Erika and her husband Tom patiently explained things, answered our gazillion many questions, and you could see their eyes light up with their passion for syrup-making.  Now, enough words.  Let’s step inside the sugarhouse…


Did you know that it takes 40 gallons of tree sap to make just ONE gallon of syrup??  That’s what those milk jugs and syrup bottle are all about in the photo up above.  Just goes to show you how much work and time it takes to get something so delicious for the end result!  And, speaking of delicious, we ended our hard work and time together with a reward of pancakes and (you guessed it) maple syrup.  These cakes were cooked on a cast-iron griddle over an open flame.  I think the combination of that and working up such an appetite made these the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted.  The boys wolfed them down like they hadn’t eaten for days.



If you all ever get a chance to go and visit the Yoder Sugar Bush, do it!  It’s a wonderful chance to get out into nature and see how something you eat ever gets to your table.  Thanks, Tom and Erika (and all the Yoder clan) for letting us join you for the day.  It was an experience we’ll never forget!

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Jewel Yoder - WOW! What an experience! That is so awesome that you guys could experience that. I would love to check it out when Jaydon is older.

admin - Yes, Jewel, it was so much fun for all of us. Your boys would love it– I highly recommend!

i heart faces photo challenge: framed

This is my first time trying this… entering a submission over at one of my favorite photography websites, I Heart Faces.  They have monthly contests that feature a particular theme.  The thing I love about it is that they welcome photographers of all levels, and have all kinds of helpful tips.  This month’s theme is “Framed”.  The photo I’m submitting is one of my favorites.  On this particular photo shoot, Sam was constantly on the go– so typical for a little boy his age.  I remember he loved coming through this pretend tunnel in the trees, trying to find me on the other side.  Precious!



If you want to see more contest entries, head on over to I Heart Faces and see all the gorgeous submissions!


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Sharon Graham - This is such a beautiful picture! So sweet.
~Sharon @Sharon the Moments

i will do what i can

Coke can on asphalt

I picked up a Coke can today.
Lying on the pavement
Forgotten, crushed, tossed aside, still half-full.

I saw it on the way into the pharmacy.

When I came out, it was still there.
Bright, shiny, red,
Contrasting against the dull, lifeless, cold asphalt.

Why bother?
Who cares?

My dear friend’s son is
Dying of cancer.
So many people I love in
Broken relationships,
Trying to pick up the pieces.

What is the point of picking up a can
That I’m sure no one cares about?

I decide to take it home.
Drain it, pull off the tab to donate to Riley
And then into the recycle bin it goes.

I can’t pick up all the pieces.
I can’t make the angry, raging tumors disappear.

But I am able to pick up one can.

I will, in this moment,
Choose beauty over barrenness.
Choose to do something small
Rather than sit back, wishing for something big
That may never come.

I will choose hope.

I will choose to care.


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Jan Landis - Wish there was a “like” button!

linden at six months

This is one of my baby packagers, and I’m so glad I get to see this little sweetheart every few months!  It’s so special to watch babies grow and document their milestones.  Linden is one laidback bambino.  Seriously, the dude is so content!  His big brother Layton is so much fun, too.  Whenever I’m there Layton shows me his latest creation, costume, or entrepreneurial enterprise.  The mom and dad are both amazing artists, so, um, no pressure, right?!?  But they’re so down-to-earth that I feel like we can just shoot the breeze.  Honestly, I just love hanging out with this family!  Enjoy these chubby little legs, the sweet toes, and the beautiful big eyes on this munchkin… <sigh>  He melts my heart every time.

baby portraits


And I just love capturing the bond between Baby and Momma…


family portraits


… and of course we can’t forget about Big Brother Layton:  Protector, Buddy, Entertainer, Helper.


children portraits


Happy Friday, everyone!

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