Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Photography 365 Project: (Days 280 - 286)

Tuesday, October 7th, I started a new project at work and we had two days of orientation.  I'll be working at a different location every Tuesday and Wednesday from this month onward until, at the very least, next Summer, helping test new software for the hospitals.  I'm excited for both the change in task and also in scenery.  

When I got home and finished teaching, I played with a little off-camera flash and the fish tank.  Yes, more new additions.  I'm really terrible at keeping fish alive!  Thankfully they're relatively cheap to keep replacing and you don't get too attached to them.  

Wednesday, was the second day of project orientation at work, after which I headed out to a nearby city to teach lessons as I do every other Wednesday of the month.  When I was finished, Nick picked me up and dropped me off at home to get ready for girls' Life Group while he ran to pick up some Sushi.  I was hoping to sneak out of Life Group early to spend some time with him, but unfortunately didn't get to until quite late.  But it was so good to finally come home and lay in bed and watch some t.v. together.  It was worth missing out on sleep for.  We were missing each other a lot this week - to the point that he actually drove me an hour into work and then drove himself an hour back home again this morning just so we could have that time in the car together.

Thursday, was our first official day of not spending any money (except on business expenses) for a month.  We decided to raid our fridge and freezer instead of just running out to purchase something easy.  We came up with potatoes, which Nick cut into fries, and we also found a ton of ground beef (like 27 pounds) in our deep freeze.  Google and a can of soup stock resulted in some gravy, and I'm not 100% the feta cheese was still good as it's been in the back of the fridge for months, but it tasted fine to us.  It took an entire hour to make dinner (unheard of in our household), but by the end we had some version of home-made poutine (kind of), and it was actually really good!  It also served a dual purpose as lunch the next day :)

Friday, was our 5-year anniversary.  This was the one allowance in our month of no spending that we made for ourselves.  We were allowed to go and pick up some treats to make our own dinner as well as get some fresh produce to start the month off right.  We picked up some steak, shrimp, and bread, as well as the ingredients to make stuffed mushrooms.  We were tempted to eat out, but realized that 1. we both miss being home together, and 2. we could save more money by purchasing the food ourselves and having leftovers to make other meals with.  It only took us an hour to whip together everything.  I started carving out the mushrooms and making the filling straight away, while Nick chopped up some veggies and got them roasting in the oven.  Last we threw the steaks on the BBQ and then attempted to open the bottle of wine we had from earlier in the Summer which we were saving.  We don't drink wine very often, and we forget every. single. time. that we buy it that we don't own a corkscrew.  Seriously, every time!!

We tried a screw driver.  We tried pliers.  Eventually, what worked was ramming the cork down into the bottle with a pair of scissors, and yes, it splashed everywhere.  We do, however, own a bottle topper (is there a proper name for those things?) that Nick picked up from a wedding he did earlier this Fall.

Once the food was in place, and the mattress had been dragged out into the middle of the living room floor, we were ready to settle down for a night of movie watching.  Rather than rent, we texted a few friends and found some that had the movies we wanted to see.  We swung by their place earlier when we were picking up food and also scored the weekend's entertainment :).  I think we lasted 2/3rds of a DVD before we fell asleep, sadly.  However, we had scheduled off most of the next day for ourselves to remedy that!

Saturday, we slept in which, coupled with the early night, meant almost 11 hours for us!  Shortly after getting up, we dragged the mattress back into the living room to continue our movie watching while munching on leftovers from the night before.  It had poured through the night, but was bright and sunny all day.  We enjoyed the lovely sunshine through our windows while tucked away in our pajamas and blankets, which is my favourite kind of weekend.  Nick had to go out for a while in the evening to help with the bread ministry at our church, but he came home with free goodies as a result of it, which was perfect.  Only a few days into our month of fasting from consumerism, and we're already so thankful for the gifts we receive!  A whole bunch of cinnamon buns (which we were JUST talking about wanting that morning), and four loaves of bread - one for each week of the next month!  There are always leftovers that aren't needed when Nick is on this ministry, but we're extra thankful for them this month :)

Sunday, we headed out to Abbotsford to spend Thanksgiving which Nick's family.  We were blessed with a full day of family, games, editing time (for me), and a wonderful dinner. 

"Grandpa, look at Grandma."




"Steve, look at me!!"

"What do I gotta look at her for?  I know what she looks like.  I've been looking at her for over 50 years!"

Monday, was a holiday and my piano students that evening also cancelled their lessons due to some personal family commitments (They normally take lessons on the stats or else the Monday kids would miss way too many lessons throughout the year!).  Nick got up before me and drove out to Abbotsford to pick up his grandparents and was back to pick me up as well around 10:30am.  We took them on the scenic route to downtown and drove along the ocean for an hour or so up the coast  They wanted to take us out for lunch, so we stopped a couple hours away and enjoyed some Whitespot together before bringing them back home.  They, also unaware of our month-long fast from purchasing, gave us a basket of fresh apples, a few ziplock bags of dried fruit, and jars of canned peaches!  And so God continues to bless us even when we don't need it.  Amazing how many wonderful things that come into our lives almost daily that we take for granted most of the time.

Friday, October 10, 2014

5 Years: An Anniversary Post

It's amazing how 5 years can feel like forever and an instant all at once.  It's amazing how when you feel like you can't love someone any more than you already do, but you find yourself more in love every year.  No one told me marriage would be this wonderful.  It was supposed to be a challenge.  It was supposed to be hard.  Very rarely it is, and the first couple years were a huge learning curve, but for the most part it's absolutely wonderful and I can't imagine my life without Nick.

We've done a lot in 5 years.  We've lived in three places.  600 square feet with a crazy landlord and the massive "L-shaped" desk Nick just had to have above all else!  417 square feet underneath rambunctious children.  And now our actual purchased home.  Oh, the photographer in me is going to be dying over the quality of 70% of the images in today's post.  Please know that we didn't own a real camera for the first 2/3rds of our marriage, lol!

We've changed careers 4 times between the two of us.  We've bought our first car, our first home, our first fridge.  (Sorry, but buying and owning appliances was really weird for us.  For the first 6 months of owning our place, we would walk into the kitchen, point at a random appliance, and say, "That's actually ours!").  We've been so poor that we've literally lived on beans, and recycled cans from my office's garbage for the extra spending money.  And we've been so well off that we've been able to invest a lot of money into gear, travel, and starting our own company.  We've been to San Diego once and Mexico twice.  We've even gone on an almost month-long road trip all across North America.  And we've been through way too many fish.  (I apparently suck at taking care of living things).

Nick, you introduced me to a lot of firsts:  First time renting a camp ground and pitching a tent.  First time picking out a live Christmas tree.  (Thank goodness our strata bylaws put a stop to that nonsense!  Haha).  You also took me on my first roller coaster (and subsequently probably my last!).  You introduced me to berry picking.  You even convinced me to like Nutella somewhat, and I think I've managed to give you at least an appreciation for Clamato juice ;).  We went on our first road trip with no destination together (other than driving sea to sea!).  I even played my first Euro-game with you the day we met, and many more since then :).  At least I can say that Disney Land on our honeymoon was YOUR first and not mine.

We've grown in who we are as people.  We've found a church home and joined in a number of ministries.  We've learned to trust God in huge ways.  God, we don't have any money for groceries this month.  God, we think You're calling us to quit our jobs and start over from scratch.  We've learned to hear Him more and better.  I'm even learning to trust Him which is a huge step from 5 years ago when I trusted no one at all.

This post was actually harder than I thought to write because my heart feels like it's just bursting with love and memories for this man I'm married to.  I feel like I'm the most blessed girl on earth to have been given him.  Nick Froese, I love you.  I love who you are and who you are becoming.  I don't love the fact that you still don't wipe the counters down when you're done in the kitchen, but hey, we're only 5 years in.  We'll keep working on that ;).

Here's hoping for another 50 years with you by my side and more memories and adventures than I can count!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Need vs. Want: One Month Without

We had an interesting question at our Life Group last night:  "How do you determine what is a need in your life versus what is a 'want.'"  I feel like we answered the question quickly.  Too quickly.   We need food.  We need water.  We don't need the latest renovations on our home.  We don't need the newest iteration of the iPhone.  It was of course followed up with the question of what are we going to do with this knowledge?  The obvious answer is, keep our perspectives right!  And then we moved on to the remainder of the study.  But I couldn't let it go in my heart or my head.  It stirred something deeper up inside me.

Ironically, when I got home Nick was updating our budget and announced how well we were doing this Fall with all the projects lined up.  This got me thinking even more about this need vs. want thing.  A couple weeks ago I cleaned up this blog and hid most of the older posts.  I was kind of annoying 5 years ago, and I didn't want it up here, lol.  Also, I didn't want all my old, crappy photos cluttering up what I'm gradually morphing into a personal / business blog.  However, while I was archiving old posts, I stumbled across memories from our first few years of marriage.  The time I dug a record amount of pop cans out of the office's garbage and we treated ourselves to Tim Horton's coffees, and then won a free one and were over the moon.  The time we had only $32 a week for groceries and God provided $1,000 worth of free groceries to us.  The times we did without.  The times we celebrated the little that we had.  The times we didn't take for granted all of the wonderful things that are ours in a first-world country.

And then I had an idea, which I pitched to Nick and convinced him to go along with.  For one month, starting today, we are not going to purchase anything extra.  We can fill the car with gas when it runs out.  I can renew my bus pass in a couple weeks.  We're going to buy a little treat for our anniversary dinner this Friday and pick up some fresh produce so we don't contract scurvy while pulling this off.  Other than that, Nick is contributing to a kick-starter campaign that needs to be completed this week and I had already planned to pay for a portfolio review mid-October.  But that's it.  (Oh, and for nutritional reasons only, I did agree to reconsider the not buying extra groceries in a couple weeks if we truly have no fruit or vegetables in the house, but given the state of our freezers, I think we'll be just fine).

Well, here's an update on how it's going.  I woke up and within 20 minutes I thought, "Oh, I need to pick up a pack of glitter from the dollar store for a photo idea... oh wait, no."  That's right.  I lasted 20 waking minutes before planning to buy something.  I think this will be really good for us, and I'm excited to learn to appreciate the little things again and be thankful for what we have.  When a coworker tossed me a free granola bar this morning I was already extra thankful for it because of this.  I may be less thankful when we run out of coffee next week, but I think that's the point.  It's not supposed to be easy!  And that pack of glitter?  I'm going to get it, but I'm going to do it the way I would have three years ago.  I already picked $0.65 of pop cans out of the office's garbage bin today.  I should have enough to buy it in another 2-3 weeks.  And guess what?  I'll be thankful for it!  Really, really, thankful.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Photography 365 Project: (Days 271 - 279)

Sunday, September 28th, I enjoyed a nice sleep in after getting up so early the previous day to accompany my dad to the shooting range.  Nick was an absolute sweet heart and let me rest while he prepared scrambled eggs with avocado, bacon, sliced salami, fruit, and toast for us with jam he brought home as a wedding favour from one of this season's many gigs:

Monday is currently my lightest teaching day as I have a gap before my students and am finished by 7:15.  So I sorted all the laundry and stripped the linens for Nick to throw in before I taught, and then we picked it up afterwards.  There are benefits to shared laundry - one being you can do an entire month's worth in one go!

Tuesday, Nick had to pick up some footage from downtown so I got a rare ride to work in the car with him (as he usually works locally and I transit to the office).  Being in the car means I get to sleep in 20 minutes later, spend time with Nick, AND don't have to shuffle from bus to bus in the morning rains.  It was a win all around for me!  Plus, I was really happy to have the extra time with Nick as it was a crazy editing week for him and we were like ships passing each other in the night for the majority of this week.

Wednesday night is Life Group night, and once a month it's guys' night.  However, Nick was absolutely slammed with work so we had a quick "chicken wings out of a box" dinner and he settled in to edit all evening.  It's a good thing chicken wings are pretty much my favourite food in the entire world because we eat them a lot!

Thursday my package arrived!  I sold my first canvas to a client (the small one on the left), and I also ordered one for the big empty space in our hallway as I had a Groupon and the price was amazing.  Nick picked our Grand Canyon photo, which will forever remind me of our Great Adventure from sea to sea!

Friday I came home from work, quickly taught one piano student, and then jumped in the car with Nick to head back downtown to enjoy dinner and board games with some friends of ours.  We've been trying to set up a time to get together with them for months and finally pulled it off!

Saturday, I shot a wedding for a local company and finished around 6pm.  Nick's wedding was scheduled to go until almost midnight and with his many all-night edits this week, I really hadn't seen him much besides at our friends' the night before.  Thus, I decided to head over and work on my laptop beside him while he edited.  I also scored a sweet meal out of the deal :).  During a lull, I pulled him outside to help me take this shot for my daily as I didn't have any tripod or remote gear with me.

If you're wondering how we did it with no tripod or remote, we just took turns taking a photo of the other person, and then I cut Nick out and pasted him into my photo afterwards:

Sunday, I had an engagement shoot to do with a friend of mine who asked me to second shoot with him.  I really wasn't in the mood to do two shoots back-to-back, but it ended up being a ton of fun!  I also got WAY more comfortable with off-camera lighting and used it for a number of the shots, which has been a goal of mine recently.  You can see more from this shoot here if you like :).  Afterwards, I met up with Nick downtown as we both had some file transferring to do, and then we headed off to a friend's 30th surprise birthday party.

Monday came a bit too early after such a late night at the birthday party, but thankfully it was a peaceful day at the office.  I met Nick at the train station on the way home where I handed him my bus pass so he could head back downtown for the evening, and I took the car from him to do my teaching.  The rest of the night I've just been catching up on editing, blogging, and emailing, and am about to pack it in and finally relax here as it's after 10:00pm already.  Netflix is calling me, so I'll leave you with my last daily, which brings me completely up to date again:

And because I have a bunch of photog friends that read this blog, I've been trying to include a bit more background behind some of my photos.  This one started out pretty lame.  I wanted to take a picture of Nick's missing jacket because it sucks that he's not home tonight or tomorrow night, and I'm gone the following night, too.  But when I went to take the shot initially, it seemed flat and boring.  I tried to hold open the hall door with my foot to let some directional light in, but even then it wasn't isolating the single hook the way I wanted.  My solution?  A cereal box with my flash inside it to fire out some directional light, which I just held in my left hand while taking the shot with my right hand:

Salima & Alym e-shoot

When my friend Clint first asked me if I wanted to second shoot an engagement session with him it seemed like an awesome idea.  Until I also got booked for a wedding the previous day.  I'm not a fan of back-to-back shoots on a weekend when I already work 5 days a week, plus evenings on top of that.  However, I'm so glad I did it.  The weather was gorgeous; the couple was lovely; and I got way more proficient using my off-camera flash.