Tag Archive for: photography

Have you ever found yourself intimidated by fashion magazines filled with beautiful celebrities and models who are then photoshopped to remove every little imperfection? Or perhaps an Instagram account where the home is filled with natural light, dust-free, and no mislaid items anywhere?

I must admit that I don’t like to follow accounts like that as they promote an unrealistic view and leaves me feeling like something is wrong with me when I don’t look perfect and my house doesn’t either.

This type of unreal perfection extends to the garden too! Just between you and me, I’ve been to many gardens that are highlighted on social media and they never look quite as good in person.

Believe it or not, vegetables also fall into this unrealistic realm when shown in magazines and online. Articles filled with photographs of perfectly-sized vegetables without a speck of dirt on them can be intimidating to the average vegetable gardener.

dirty secrets of vegetable gardening

Well, I’m here to tell you the truth and reveal two dirty secrets of vegetable gardening with some assistance from my little helper. 

My granddaughter, Lily

This is my granddaughter Lily who loved to help me in the garden when she was little. She was always a willing helper when it came time to harvest vegetables from my garden.

Toward the end of spring, it was time to harvest the last head of broccoli, pick the carrots, pull the garlic, cut parsley, and harvest the first of our blackberries.

The Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening

This is what our harvest looked like. Not particularly photo-worthy for a magazine or social media, is it? But, this is the reality of what it looks like.

'secret' about vegetable gardening.

If you haven’t guessed the secret about vegetable gardening – it’s that it is DIRTY!

The Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening

Think about it – vegetables grow in the dirt.  They don’t come out clean.  In fact, it can take a while to clean the dirt away.

Lily was excited to help me clean the vegetables, so she would fill her ‘My Little Pony’ cup over and over and pour them over the carrots. 

 harvested vegetables leave

In fact, freshly harvested vegetables leave dirt behind on counters, floors too!

clean garden tools and spotless gloves

And those shiny, clean garden tools and spotless gloves? They don’t exist in a real garden.

Now, here is another secret of vegetable gardening…

The Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening

“Not all the vegetables are the same size and come out unblemished.”

The Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening

Here are four carrots that I harvested from the same garden.  As you can see, they are all different sizes.

The tiny ones, came from an area where I accidentally dropped a small pile of seeds. The large one was a result of an area in the garden that received too much water and the carrot was so big that it broke off as I attempted to pull it out.  

The Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening

Of course, any decent photo would display only the ‘normal-sized’ carrots – but that is not necessarily the truth of what a real garden harvest would look like.

Lily’s Tigger was excited to try some carrots.

crop of garlic

Here is another example. Our crop of garlic was bountiful. But, notice that there are not all uniform sizes.

crop of garlic

While the majority of the garlic harvest is made up of normal-sized garlic heads – there are some very small and some giant heads.

But of course, that is not what you see when people typically show off their garden harvest – especially when they are to be photographed.

– First, only the most attractive vegetables are shown – ones with no blemishes and uniform size. Second, all the dirt is removed. And finally, the decorative dish towels come out for an attractive background.   

The Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening

I have several decorative dish towels that have never seen a dish and I use them when I photograph vegetables, herbs, etc.

The Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening

Here is my ‘perfect’ garlic harvest. What is interesting is what you DON’T see. All of them are nicely shaped, roughly the same size, and most of the dirt is gone. This is NOT what they look like when they come in from the garden.

The Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening

So remember that vegetables aren’t perfectly clean, they may have blemishes and come in all sizes and shapes. So, when you harvest vegetables, don’t worry about perfect-looking vegetables. Remember, it’s the taste that matters!

My Secret Vegetable Gardening Tool…

sfvegfToday was spent driving from Wisconsin, over the Mississippi River into southeastern Minnesota.

Bridge over the Mississippi River toward Minnesota. *Cell phone + dirty windshield = grainy photo

Bridge over the Mississippi River toward Minnesota. *Cell phone + dirty windshield = grainy photo. 

Mississippi River

You know how people who haven’t lived near the ocean, find it fascinating when they get the chance to visit?

I think it is somewhat the same for me in regards to seeing the Mississippi River.  The immense size of the river is amazing.

This is the third time that I have seen the Mississippi River and it is still something that I always look forward to.

Winona, Minnesota

We arrived into the town of Winona, Minnesota – we drove up to Garvin Heights, where a path leads from the parking lot to a viewing point located over 500 ft. above the river and the city.

Mississippi River
Mississippi River

Isn’t it beautiful?

Mississippi River

Off in the distance, you can see the bridge that we drove over, which connects Wisconsin to Minnesota.

Mississippi River

My mother has been enjoying her first smartphone.  During our trip, she had taken multiple pictures of me taking photos of plants and/or scenery.  

Road Trip Day 7

It makes me feel happy and special at the same time 🙂

antiques

During the first part of our day, we spent some time shopping for antiques.

My mother loves antiques and I like to find old pieces that I can use as planters in my garden.  In the Midwest and Eastern regions of the US, antiques are a lot less expensive then in the west – so we like to take advantage of nice antique stores when we can.

I found a large, old coffee pot (the kind they would use in a chuck wagon for a lot of people) that I plan on using for a flower planter in my smaller vegetable garden.

You may be wondering how I am going to get my coffee pot home.  Well, that leads to a tradition that my mother and I started during our first road trip 3 years ago.  We wait until the last day of our trip and then go to a local UPS store and send our souvenirs home.  It makes our life much simpler and we have less to carry in our suitcases.

Another grainy cell phone photo taken through the windshield

Another grainy cell phone photo taken through the windshield. 

As we headed toward the southeastern corner of Minnesota, we found ourselves alone on country highways for long lengths of time.

Road Trip Day 7

Not that I’m complaining about the absence of vehicles.  I’m sure that after spending a day or two at home that I’ll be wishing for fewer cars on the road.

Road Trip Day 7

The weather during our trip has been very nice.  There was some rain, which fell during the night, so it did not affect our activities.

Lanesboro, Minnesota

Our day’s journey ended in Lanesboro, Minnesota, which has been the recipient of the Great American Main Street Award.  Lanesboro, is located close to Amish communities and we have seen some Amish folk during our travels today.

The main street is lined with historic buildings that have been transformed into trendy shops and eateries.

Unlike many Amish communities that I’ve visited in the past, Lanesboro has upscale, trendy shops, which I really enjoyed visiting, instead of shops stocked full of Amish souvenirs.

old antique

A few of the shops had a combination of both new and old things, like this old antique that was transformed into a planter.

dish planted with real grass

This shop had an interesting planter with a galvanized pipe with flowers sitting in a dish planted with real grass.

wooden boxes

A variety of succulents were displayed with old, wooden boxes.

plants and antiques

This alleyway was filled with plants and antiques, which I love.

rhubarb

One interesting observation about our travels this day is the popularity of rhubarb.

It was planted along the main street.

Rhubarb ice cream

Rhubarb ice cream was also available in many of the shops.

I bet you didn’t know that rhubarb was so popular did you?

Rhubarb ice cream

I admit that I didn’t try the rhubarb ice cream flavor.  I went for salted caramel crunch – yum!

Road Trip Day 7

Remember the cheese curds that I tried on day 5 of our road trip?  They are everywhere.  I usually see them offered fried.

As our trip draws towards its end, here are a few observations in contrast to living in California and Arizona (places that I’ve lived).

– In almost every restaurant, Coke products aren’t offered – Pepsi is the drink of choice.

– In all of our driving, we have only seen one highway patrol car (in CA and AZ you often see one every few minutes).

– Starbucks is a huge favorite of my mother and during our road trips, we usually make at least one stop there each day.  On this trip, we have hardly seen any Starbucks stores.  But, there have been quite a few other coffee shops, including independent ones.

Tomorrow, we will fly home in the evening from Minneapolis.  My husband has been wonderful taking care of the kids and house while I’ve been gone.

But, I’m not sure about what he has been feeding the kids…

Road Trip Day 7

My 12-year-old son posted this picture of his dinner the other night, which consists of french fries, cheddar cheese and bacon.

I protested the lack of vegetables, which my husband responded to by saying, “We each had 4 mini-carrots to round our dinner.”  He then went on further to say, “And we had vegetables on our pizza for lunch.”

I told my kids that I have quite a few dinners planned when I get home that will have lots of ‘greens’ in them.

*Tomorrow, we will spend the day in Minneapolis and I’m looking forward to visiting my friend and fellow garden blogger, Amy of Get Busy Gardening.  I can’t wait to see her and her garden.  I’ll be sure to share my visit with you!

Photo Shoot

Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time having my picture taken.

I must admit, that I don’t like having my picture taken much.  I end up feeling self-conscious and start thinking about how ‘weird’ my expression must look (which is why I didn’t mind posing for the photo, above 😉

Unfortunately, I did need some photos for articles and my other blog that I write for.  I had put it off for a long time.  But I needed to get my kids annual photos taken AND I had obtained the services of a very talented, up and coming photographer for their photos.  So, it made sense for me to get my pictures done at the same time.

You may be wondering what photographer I was able to engage.  Well, I am blessed that my youngest sister, Grace, is a fabulous photographer.

She takes photos for other families and for some businesses as well.  She also posts great pictures on her blog FinleyandOliver.com

At this point, I should mention that we haven’t gotten our kids pictures taken at school for a long time.  I got tired of their ‘fake’ smiles, messy hair and the fact that they looked nothing like their normal selves.  So, I have taken ‘school’ pictures of them every year.

This year was going to be the best because my sister was going to take their pictures instead of me…

Photo Shoot

I love this photo of my three youngest.  This will be the photo we give to the grandmas for Christmas.

They each had their picture taken separately and it was so fun to see my sister in action – she is so good posing the kids and making them feel relaxed.

Then, it was my turn…  

Photo Shoot

My sister knows me so well – especially all my ‘quirks’ and hang-ups and the fact that I don’t feel all that comfortable as the sole subject in a picture.  So, she kept talking to me while I was posing – making me feel much more comfortable.

my sister great photography skills

My sister’s dog, Soda Pop, came over to visit while we were taking pictures.  (Soda is the daughter of my dog, Missy.)

I had brought some props over from my garden.  An old watering can that I planted annuals in, an antique blue bottle with cosmos from my garden and some gardening tools.

my sister great photography skills

At this point, I was getting more comfortable and we were almost finished; when my sister said, “We need to get a picture of you holding a chicken.”

So, she rushed off to find her friendliest chicken, “Francie”, who is a ‘naked-neck’ chicken.

my sister great photography skills

my sister’s great photography skills

I think Francie did better then I did posing for this picture 😉

I am so thankful for my sister’s great photography skills and her ability to work with a ‘difficult’ subject (me).  I might just schedule another photo shoot next year 🙂

When you get the opportunity to ‘get away’ for a few days – do you take it?

You would assume that most of us would reply with a resounding “YES!”

Well, unfortunately there are sometimes that you have to say “No”.  

Every year, my husband heads up to Northern Arizona for a conference.  And each time, he invites me to go with him.

Now, it isn’t that I didn’t want to go – but life has a habit of getting in the way of “getting away from it all”. 

But not this year!  I was determined to go.  So last week, we headed up to Payson, which is a small mountain town just 1 1/2 hours away.

Northern Arizona

Northern Arizona

While my husband was busy at his conference – I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the scenery around me…

Northern Arizona

Most of my photo-taking opportunities occurred at sunset.

Northern Arizona

I love how the sun makes the clouds look rosy, don’t you?

Northern Arizona

Besides the beautiful skies, I enjoyed the cooler temperatures.

Northern Arizona

We spent two nights and days.  It really was a wonderful time and a welcome ‘getaway’ from the daily stresses of life.

Get Away...

As we drove down the mountain towards home, I was refreshed and ready for the week to come.

Life is now officially crazy again because the kids have begun school.  (Our school district has 8 week summers and extended fall and spring breaks).

You know what?  Every year it seems that I have to buy more school supplies then the year before.

**I finally came to that realization on Monday after I had made three separate trips to Walmart and then one to Staples.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer and have had the opportunity to get away 🙂

Route 66 and Blue Corn

Field trip

Field trip

I enjoy photographing the beauty that surrounds me, especially plants and landscapes.

My youngest sister, is a very good photographer and her focus is usually people.

And then there is my nephew, Kenny, (son of my other sister), who likes to photograph both nature and people.

So what do you do with three family photographers?  Go on a field trip to our local riparian preserve.

Even in winter, it is a beautiful place to visit…

Field trip

In addition to my sister and nephew, my son Kai and my other nephew, Josh came along.

Of course, they soon set off to explore on their own…

Field trip

Now, the rest of us got our cameras out and started taking pictures.

My focus was trying to capture photos of the many hummingbirds who make their home in the riparian preserve year round.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

What fascinates me about hummingbird photos, is that although the photos above are of the same hummingbird; you can only see the bright color when the sun is shining directly on the feathers of their throat.

While I was taking pictures of hummingbirds, my sister wanted to practice taking pictures, so she was taking pictures of me, taking pictures.

field trip

I must admit that I feel a bit uncomfortable posing for pictures.  But it wasn’t too bad because I didn’t have to pose.

My nephew has a very good eye for both landscape and people shots.

Sunlight and Purple Prickly Pear Spines

Sunlight and Purple Prickly Pear Spines

Great White Heron

Great White Heron

field trip

My nephew also caught me in the midst of taking pictures of three mallard ducks.

field trip

I know that mallard ducks are quite common, but I have always liked them and their beautiful colors.  I even used to have a pet mallard duck when I was young.

field trip

A curious goose was hoping we had some bread crumbs to share.

field trip

Another photo from my nephew, highlights the babbling brook that winds its way through the preserve.

Across one of the lakes, we spotted the boys who were visiting some of the ducks…

field trip

Soon, the sun was beginning to set and I had to get home to make dinner.

So we started making our way back to the parking lot.

field trip

On our way, I spotted some Canadian geese flying back for the night to one of the lakes.

field trip

Kai had a little help over the muddy spots on the path…

field trip

As we neared the entrance, my sister asked me to pose for a picture – did I mention that I really don’t like posing for pictures?  I feel so self-conscious and am worried that I have lipstick on my teeth or that I will look so ‘fake’ in the photo.

field trip

My nephew took this photo and I must confess that I cropped out the bottom part because he didn’t push “the skinny button” on his camera.

Okay, I realize cameras don’t have “skinny” buttons, but I certainly wish they did, don’t you?

field trip

We had a wonderful time.

I hope you did too 🙂