Sunday, November 9, 2014

Good-bye Blog Site

Hi everyone,

So, some of you already know that I've been working incredibly hard for the past couple weeks on setting up a new webpage.  What I didn't realize is that it doesn't link back to this little blog site, but instead, it imports everything from here over there and that becomes the new home site for this little space of mine.

So, it's with a little bit of sadness, that I say goodbye to this writing space.  If you've set up your account to follow me on here, make sure you head over to the new site and set it up to follow there, as this is technically my last post on this site!

So without any more ado, here is the new site, and this week's post (link below)!  Thanks for following!

New Blog and Post!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Photography 365 Project: (Days 297 - 305)

Friday, I remembered one of the many benefits of teaching piano after work almost every day:  You don't CLOCK WATCH.  Oh man, having nothing to do Friday evening other than hang out with awesome friends made the day just drag by.  Eventually the clock finally hit 3:55pm, and I was out of there!  My husband picked me up and we drove over to our friends' place and enjoyed snacks, hanging out, dinner, and then board games.  We stayed up way too late, though, to play that one last round, and I paid for it the next day since I'm still in the midst of a monster cold.

Saturday, I tried really hard to get up at 10:30, but there was just no way.  My cold was coming back with a vengeance.  I finally pulled myself out of bed just after lunch as I really wanted to go with Nick to the bank to pay down against our mortgage as November 1st is our anniversary payment date (the day we're allowed to pay extra without penalty).  We saved up all year, and even took a temporary loan from my dad in order to hit it hard and it was fun to watch the numbers drop down in a nice little chunk.

Afterwards, we had a chat about our no-buying-anything-for-a-month fast.  Nick was given a cash tip at a wedding he edited last weekend, and we talked about whether spending that would count in our fast or not.  We decided we were okay with it since it was an unexpected gift and not something that we would have put into our budget anyway.  We went off to the grocery store to pick up some treats:  a box of popsicles, a small bag of chips, and some drinks.  I don't think we have ever pondered so long over what to spend $20 on, haha.  We were truly thankful for the little treat!

Nick spent the remainder of the afternoon working on projects while I burrowed under a pile of blankets and waited for him.  When evening came, he joined me in my blanket fortress and we caught up on all our t.v. shows and even played a board game.  We are probably going to have to actually turn on the heat soon because living in our bed is not always practical!

Sunday, I was still feeling pretty sick so I stayed home and slept while Nick went to church.  He came home just in time to fetch me to run off to a friend's place for lunch.  We had a quick visit, helped them with some camera buying decisions, and then jumped in the car to head out to the valley for a funeral.  A close family friend of Nick's passed away, and since the whole family couldn't make it out, we went to represent the Froese clan.  We grabbed Nick's brother on the way, and made it just in time.  After the funeral, we headed over to Nick's Aunt and Uncle's place for dinner and stopped to chase some amazing light on the way.  We arrived back home around 8:30pm, and Nick had some emergency work to do until 9pm.  After which, we hung out for a couple hours, and then got to sleep to start another busy week.

Monday, I was finally feeling a lot better and covered the main class at work while my coworker took a desk day to man the phones.  I always get annoyed when I have to leave my cozy little desk, but then I remember that I actually really enjoy teaching and enjoy how fast the day goes by in the classroom once I'm there.  Monday, I was also feeling super antsy.  I'm excited for next year, and all the plans we have, and all the adventures we're going on.  2014 feels like it's limping along a little bit and I want it to be over already.  Let's just skip the monotony of Winter and the dreary cold rains.  Let's skip ahead to the new year with fresh unused vacation days, so many fun plans hatching in my mind already, and a gorgeous Summer ahead!  Let's wrap up this year of daily shooting, and branch out into new projects and fresh innovations.  I've never really been a "journey" person.  I'm all about the destination, and the winter blahs are not helping this!  I'm going to have to be even more intentional about observing the wonder in my everyday to get through this season.  Monday was also the last night we huddled in the cold before turning on the heat regularly, as illustrated by Nick's blanket photo here, ha!

Tuesday, was a long day.  I spent the morning helping with a project at a different work site, and the afternoon in a meeting.  I ducked out of the meeting early in order to catch the train home and teach a full load of 5 students.  Nick headed out to hang out with some guys while I taught, and came home around 9:30pm.  At which point, we quickly baked some cookies for guys' Life Group the next day as it was our turn to bring treats.  The good news:  I pre-made the dough and put it in the freezer weeks earlier.  The bad news:  I took out the roast beef instead of the cookie dough to thaw.  I would have finished the cookies way earlier if not for this sad fact.  So there we found ourselves, sitting on the floor at 10pm at night, willing the cookies to bake faster.  This photo is actually not that staged.  We really were sitting there like that, and I actually was holding my camera while we sat on the floor.  The only staged part was putting it on the counter behind us and grabbing the remote to fire it.  This is our real life.  In our pajamas.  Sitting on the floor.  Way too late at night.  Haha.

Wednesday, I was back working at the project site for the day, but finished my assignments way earlier than the rest of the group, so was told to just sit tight.  I used the time to write some of this blog and the rest of the time to research some piano music online for a student.  I got home, and quickly taught 2 students before getting Nick to drop me back off at the skytrain, so I could go all the way back downtown for a meeting with a wedding company I was hoping to second shoot for next Summer.  Four and a half hours of commuting later (2 trips to downtown and back), I was finally back home with Nick and ready for bed!  And, in addition, I had been added to the team of the wedding company, so that meeting was definitely worth the trip all the way back down town in the evening!

Thursday, was a nice quiet day at work since we had cancelled class and moved it to Friday.  I enjoyed some time back in my little corner catching up on stuff and meeting my good friend for coffee.  No, I didn't break our no-buying deal.  I used free coffee coupons I'd been saving from McDonald's for the last few months :).  Afterwards, I headed home to teach a couple students and settled down to "rest" for the evening while Nick caught up on projects.  I say "rest" because I decided to download the templates to start building our own website.  I thought it was going to be easy.  I was so, so wrong....

Friday, we slept in a couple hours and then headed out for Nick's wisdom teeth surgery.  I had taken a special leave from work as Nick wasn't supposed to be unsupervised for the remainder of that day or evening.  I finally got him home in the early afternoon after picking up his prescriptions from the Drug Store.  We napped on and off together for the rest of the day, waking up to make sure he was taking his pain meds and rinsing the blood out of his mouth occasionally.  Nick doesn't nap - ever.  I love naps.  This day worked out quite well for me ;).  No Halloween fireworks or adventures for us, though, unfortunately.

Saturday, we had set aside as a stay-at-home date day just for us - no work allowed!  We've been planning this day since late August, and were excited it was finally here.  Nick was mostly his usual self again as we trudged out to the couch in our pajamas to settle in for the rest of the day.  We made porridge for lunch and put on Netflix.  Nick painted some models to relax, and I "thought" I would relax by continuing to work on our website while we watched t.v.  This website has been, and still is, one of the more frustrating learning curves I've been through in a while!  I'm taking a break from it right now actually to write this blog post, but then I'll be back at it again for most of the night I'm sure!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

One Month Without - 3 Weeks In

Okay, so we're officially three weeks into our month of no purchases.  Since a month has slightly more than four weeks, we actually have 10 days left.  We're done on November 9th.  I'm trying hard to think of what to update on since week three was pretty similar to week two.  We did, however, make a tiny splurge when Nick was given a small cash tip at a wedding.  We decided we would use that to pick up a small bag of chips, some drinks, and some popsicles.  The amount of time that went into deciding what exactly we would spend that $20 on was humorous.  Other than that, we've been really good and haven't purchased anything other that business expenses.

I think what stands out the most to us is that we still think, "Oh let's go pick up...", almost daily when we go past a store.  It's interesting that the mere sight of a store almost instantly triggers us to shift into a consumerism mind-set.  We don't even NEED what we're thinking of picking up!  It's just stuff that would be nice.  I'm wondering how long we would have to go before we stopped doing that.  We've  also settled into a bit of a meal routine.  A big pot of beans, red sauce, and ground beef with random stuff thrown in is made once a week.  This usually serves us for multiple dinners and multiple lunches as I make a REALLY big batch at a time.  I wasn't a fan of week two's stew, but am loving week three's chili!

Another thing that stands out to me, personally, as the meal instigator is HOW MUCH FOOD we have in our house.  Seriously, we still have enough meat in the freezer to last months.  Literally.  We haven't even come close to using up our fresh produce.  Since we bought oranges and really hard apples, and have been keeping them in the fridge, they're doing just fine.  I'm also surprised at just WHAT I'm finding in the corners of our cupboards.  I meant to take the container of cookie dough out of the freezer to defrost and, instead, I realized the next day that I had taken out an identical container of sliced roast beef.  I didn't even know we had sliced roast beef in the freezer.  Next, I was lining up all our jams and preserves on a shelf to show Nick the ridiculous amount that we have, and suddenly discovered that one of them was pesto.  We LOVE pesto!  If we knew that was in there, it wouldn't have lasted this long.  I can't believe we live in society, in a community, in a house that has so much food that we forget even about really good stuff we have.  I kid you not - we could go another month easily without hurting.  We don't stock pile.  Heck, we don't usually even cook!  This is just the stuff that has accumulated over the weeks, months, and years.  I can tell you one thing - when our month is up, I have a very small grocery list of things we're missing (coffee, peanut butter, etc.).  However, I'm not going to run and stock up on everything.  My eyes have been opened to a lot of meal possibilities that I'm going to work on eating through first before I pick up too much else.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Photography 365 Project: (Days 287 - 296)

Tuesday, October 14th, I tried to shoot a bit more deliberately.  I've been preparing an application for the last half a year or so and had a friend review it for me before submission this month.  Turns out I have a bit more work to do, so I threw out a bunch of images and am starting to slowly replace them one at a time.  This is requiring me to think a little bit more before I fire off the shutter button - at least when I'm caring to.  Let's be honest, we're almost at day 300 of consecutive shooting and I could use a creativity break soon!

Wednesday, I fired a quick test shot through the car window on a rainy drive to Life Group, and I actually really liked it, and then couldn't duplicate it again when I tried as we were already moving away from that section of the street, so I just went with it :)

Thursday, I portioned out all the remaining fresh fruit into three bowls for the next three weeks since we were wrapping up week one of our One Month Without (buying anything).  So far, it's been working well and I don't think we're in any danger of running out of fresh produce soon!

Friday, I had a new friend coming over in the evening before teaching piano, so I made some cookies.  We were originally supposed to meet at Starbucks, but then I realized that wouldn't work with our month-long fast from consumerism.  Thus, I whipped together a quick recipe that was given to me as a wedding gift and is still my no. 1 go-to recipe (thanks, Jenna, if you're reading this!!).  I realized the eggs were already half gone, and it would be our turn to bring treats to Life Group before our buying ban was lifted, so I did a full batch and froze the extra cookie balls for a quick fix later in the month.

Saturday, you would think I'd have something more interesting for a daily since I was out at the church most of the afternoon.  Nick was at a wedding, but I was on the worship team, so we practiced from 2pm - 5pm, and then played for the Saturday night service.  Afterwards, I came home and sat on the bed in the empty house and didn't really move so much after that resulting in this uninspired shot :P

Sunday, we were up nice and early (for us on a weekend), and headed in to catch both the early service and the last service at church.  I was on piano, and Nick was filming the sermon, so while I was sitting down, he was up and vice versa.  

Nick had been feeling a bit sick all weekend and, as a result, neither of us had gotten any decent sleep.  So after church, I grabbed a quick nap before checking on the weather and heading out to do a family photo shoot.  You can check out more pics HERE, but this one was my personal favourite :).  We had a wonderful dinner and hang out with the family afterwards, but got home a bit late for a weeknight.  Sure enough, around midnight, I knew I had caught whatever it was that Nick had, and called in sick for the next day.

Monday, I woke up and realized that calling in sick was a very good decision as it had hit me full force by that point.  I promptly went back to sleep for the majority of the day.  In the evening, I received an email from a wedding client this Summer asking me if I had checked my mail lately.  I promptly did, and found a wonderful movie date for Nick and myself!  What a great surprise and how sweet are these clients?

Tuesday, I was not feeling any better and had, had a terrible sleep (less than 3 hours I think).  However, I really needed to be at work that day as we were going over a lot of new information, so I dragged myself downtown and huddled in a corner for the day to try to infect as few people as possible.  I also had a fairly heavy teaching load that night on top of it.  By the evening, I was looking for some homemade remedies and hitting the sack.  

Wednesday, I woke up around 3am, and called in sick again for the second time this week.  Wednesday was probably the roughest day.  In a 31-hour period I made myself be awake for 4 hours of it, but that's about it.  Nick brought me some lemon water and soup before heading off to Life Group solo.  I was sound asleep before they even began.  

Thursday, I was feeling on the mend again after so much rest, and headed into work with a jar of honey and bottle of lemon juice in my bag.  (No buying cough drops this month!).  I mostly stayed in my corner and away from people.  Thankfully it was a slower day to just pick away at emails and such as my coworker covered our one class.  I was feeling a bit sicker that evening again after another heavier load of teaching piano, but then decided to rest up.  We had a chicken in the crockpot all day, so we whipped up some mashed potatoes and asparagus (still left over from the anniversary dinner on the 10th!), and then watched a couple shows together.  I didn't get a ton of sleep, but enough that I can say I'm pretty sure the worst of this cold is over.  Or at least it should be since we have a pretty relaxing weekend ahead.  I needed to think of a photo, and my brain was still in a bit of a sick haze, so I grabbed a jacket and ran downstairs to take a picture of our neighbour's decorations as, even though I personally dislike Halloween, I think they're pretty cute.

69 more days to go!!  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lauwers Family Shoot

This past weekend, I had the privilege of capturing the Lauwers' family photos.  As it got closer to the end of little W's nap time, we kept a wary eye on the skies.  Thankfully, while it remained overcast, the rains were held at bay until we had just wrapped up the shoot!

This cute little guy had SO. MUCH. ENERGY.  He didn't have much time to look at the camera or even to hold still.  We let him have the run of it for the most part, and just captured him being him :).  He did, however, LOVE to look at my reflector, which is something I guess!  A few little tickles from daddy, got us one solid smiling photo right out of the gate, but he got wise to that trick pretty darn fast.

We walked him over to the park, and pretty much kept him moving the entire time (or rather, he kept US moving).  We would occasionally try for an "everyone smile and look at the camera together photo", but for the most part, he wasn't having it!

As the time for us to wrap the shoot drew near, he finally tuckered slightly and his energy levels waned.  We had booked an hour and a half to make sure we didn't force him to comply too much and ruin the natural shots, but then he just started being too cute to end it.  He stopped to admire flowers with mom for more than 5 seconds.  He even plopped himself down in the grass and happily made faces for almost 2 solid minutes!

We got mom and dad down with him, while he happily ripped up handful after handful of grass.  I told them to just keep looking at me and smiling because eventually little W would look up and I'd be ready.  It took a LOT of shots, but he finally glanced up for all of 1 second and I caught him in the act ;).  And then, for the last family "all together" shot on the steps, we resorted to bribing him with candy ;)

We grabbed a couple more candids to wrap up the shoot, and then headed inside where we all enjoyed a great dinner together and an evening of catching up :).  

Thanks to my wonderful husband for helping me out by carrying all my stuff, entertaining little W while I did some mom/dad shots, and also being a second camera to help me capture all the extra moments!

One Month Without - Half Way

So today marks almost the half-way point in our One Month Without (buying anything) challenge.  There's been a lot of reactions as people find out what we're doing.  I've had people question my motives, my resolve, and my sanity.  I've had people feel inspired and write to tell me how their lives were being impacted in small ways as well.  I've had people totally get it and people completely not get it at all.  I've been encouraged by responses, and I've been mortified at other reactions that indicate just how far removed our culture is from being able to distinguish between a need and a want.  (No, seriously, you don't NEED coffee every single day.  It is okay to run out and not immediately buy more.  And with our schedules, I think I might classify as an expert opinion on the topic of caffeine consumption).  But I didn't do any of this for anyone else.   I did it for me.  For us.  For my heart.

The first week we didn't feel a lack of anything.  We were fed Thanksgiving dinner by family.  We had stocked up on fresh produce, and enjoyed a nice anniversary steak dinner.  Week two was when the beginnings of that lack started to creep in.  We ran out of coffee.  We ate beans and rice for lunch three days in a row.  (Not because we didn't have better food, but because I'm mixing up "good" meals with less exciting ones to make sure we always have options).  I rationed our fresh fruit into three big bowls to make sure we didn't eat it all at once and neglect the canned/frozen stuff.  I made cookie dough to freeze for when it's our turn to bring snacks to Life Group at the end of the month because the eggs were more than half gone already.  (Thinking that far ahead in terms of food hurts my head).  We had a brief scare when we thought we were on our last bar of soap before I found two more hiding under the sink in a forgotten corner.  (Seriously, so many good things and blessings hiding out of my sight every day).  I got sick, and couldn't run out and buy cough drops, so instead made my own remedy with hot water, lemon juice, and honey.  Week two was when we actually had to be inconvenienced.  There was at least one occasion where Nick said to me, "Laura, don't you think that constitutes a need?"  And I replied with, "only in a first world country".   But we made it through the week and were only slightly inconvenienced.

Week two is also when I started to live in a daily, conscious awareness of the goodness we have as I watched it diminish more and more without instantly being replenished.  I'm not an overly emotional person (unless you count passion, because it takes very little to set me off on some cause or another), but week two is when I sat in my kitchen preparing a meal of beans and rice for the next day and subsequent lunches and it hit me.  As I made what Nick called "poor people food" or "big family food", I paused and looked around.  There were left over shrimp frying on the stove in butter from our anniversary dinner, and a marinaded steak awaiting the BBQ (also left over from our anniversary dinner) about to be cut in two to share.  There I was sitting researching good bean recipes on my Macbook while Nick stood in the corner of the kitchen surfing the internet on his iPad.  As we sat there with our name-brand electronics preparing an amazing dinner, I looked over at the pot of beans and rice I knew we would be eating for the next few days.  And it hit me.  I didn't cry, but I almost did.  How friggin' blessed are we?  How wonderful to be together, preparing a delicious meal, in our home.  Things I would have taken for granted or simply said, "Yes, of course I'm thankful for all this."  But that pot of beans and rice stood out in stark contrast begging me to really FEEL the thankfulness.

Maybe we are crazy.  Maybe it's silly to make yourself eat beans when you have better stuff in the freezer that you're saving for later simply because you refuse to purchase groceries.  But if this is crazy, then I like it.  I LIKE being truly thankful for my meals.   I like not taking for granted the fact that I can dig under the counter and find multiple bars of soap I didn't even know were there.  And maybe I'm also crazy for being a little sad that this fast from consumerism is already almost half done.  I don't want to go back to reality where I stop so acutely noticing God in the little things.

My perception is changing.  My prayer priorities are changing.  My heart is changing.  I pray that it continues to change over the next couple of weeks in a real, and deep, and permanent way.  God, may we never have so much that we stop regularly looking to You with hope and gratitude in our hearts.  May we never have so much that it owns our attention and steals it from You.  May we never have so much that we forget that we actually have much, much more than enough.

PS:  And lest you think I am mature or holy or any such silly notions for praying such a prayer, please know it scares the pants off of me to pray something like that.  But, some things have to be said, even if you're scared to say them.

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.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ordinary Days and Adventures

I think I post about "adventures" a lot.  I call them adventures because I'm pretty easily amused and even going to the grocery store counts as an adventure to me.  An adventure, in my mind, is anything that is different or out of the ordinary.  Anything that isn't working or sleeping.  But in my eagerness to glaze over the "every day" because it seems boring to me, my life may seem more exciting than it actually is.  Or maybe not.  Maybe you are all just thinking, "Geeze, Laura, it's a trip to the grocery store.  It's really not as exciting as you think it is!"

Regardless, yesterday was a pretty ordinary day.  I woke up before dawn (silly winter sun schedule), and headed off to the office.  It was my colleague's turn to teach the class that day, so I settled in at my desk to provide user support.  I answered the phone as it rang, and I stayed on top of our inbox.  It was a fairly slow day, so I even had time to catch up on some personal stuff - like trying to see if my credit card, employee ID, and bus pass made their way to transit's lost-and-found from last week or if they really were stolen.

After work, I headed home to one of my light teaching days.  My heaviest loads are mid-week, so Monday and Friday are a little less packed.  I had 45 minutes before I needed to leave to teach my first student, so I tackled the things I have been avoiding the most on my to-do list.  I grabbed the pile of dirty clothes that needed some stain removing attention before they went in the laundry and pulled up a stool to the sink.  45 minutes later, I had gotten a little carried away and had four loads piled three feet high in baskets for Nick to help me take down to the laundry room on the first floor of our apartment complex.  Somehow it ended up being a strip-the-entire-bedroom-and-washroom-of-all-linens day.

While Nick took care of starting that, I ran out the door and drove up the hill to teach a couple little girls piano.  I was back home again shortly after 7:10pm, and transferred the laundry over to the dryers before heading upstairs to spend the next hour sweeping, washing the floors, dusting, rotating the dishwasher, and cleaning the washroom.  At this point it was after 8pm, but that still seemed super early to me because normally I would just be finishing teaching, so I felt miles ahead of the game!

I briefly considered making something for dinner, but decided against it.  I grabbed up my boots and hoodie and announced I was "going on a food finding adventure!" to Nick who was editing away like a mad man in the office.  See, the other benefit of making everything sound fun is that people want to do it with you.  Next thing I knew, we were both heading out the door to pick up some sushi and drinks for the evening.  When we returned home, we grabbed the last of the laundry and had it put away in record time.  By shortly before 9:30pm we managed to be all settled down in our freshly washed bedding and clean house with sushi in hand and enjoyed an episode of House.  By then it was approaching 10:30 and Nick still had almost 4 hours of editing to do, so he headed back to the spare room/office until the wee hours of the morning whereas I got almost a "normal person" amount of sleep that night!

Okay, well... maybe it wasn't a completely ordinary day in that I didn't stay up too late, work too long, and consume take-out burgers.  However, it was a day full of ordinary things.  Ordinary things that I don't normally easily have time for.  And thus, I loved it.  So I guess by my definition of adventure - Monday was a pretty decent one ;).  Yes, I just called cleaning my house an adventure.  I told you I was easily amused!