Archives for June 2012

Thursday Ten: The Apple Didn’t Fall Far edition

1. While I sit at my desk working today, my daughters will be doing a bake sale in conjunction with a local ice cream shop to raise money for animal shelters. I didn’t suggest it – hell, I didn’t even encourage it (my kitchen? It was a disaster when I got home yesterday) – but together with a friend, they came up with the idea to do a bake sale, not unlike my sale to raise funds for the Avon Walk. And then they came up with the idea to talk to the ice cream shop owners. The owners not only agreed to let the girls do the bake sale outside the shop, but offered to advertise it on their website. I think that’s pretty cool.

2. While the girls are doing good things, they still drive me bonkers home in the summer. It’s hard to come home after work to a messy house. My biggest kitchen pet peeve is dishes in the sink (really – it’s awful. Can’t stand it. Truly truly hate it). I remember hitting this point last summer too, where I wanted to lock the cupboards and only leave out paper plates and plastic utensils for use during the day so that at the end of the day, my sink would be blissfully empty. I think I just like the planet too much to do that, though.

3. Meanwhile, musically, my iTunes account is being a gigantic ball of suck and I have now become BFFs with Kyla at iTunes support trying to resolve it. Every suggested fix is time consuming and so I have yet to try her latest suggestion – all I know is that I have a lot of new music that iTunes WILL. NOT. LET. ME. PLAY. Jerkfaces.

4. Stuff like several songs from The Best Coast. And some of the new Grace Potter (okay, I was sort of wrong – there are a few standout songs, but… still… Not my favorite album from them).

5. One of my latest rituals is going for a long workout on Sunday mornings. A great workout – walking, running or a combo of both (though let’s be real, when I “run” it’s very “slow” because I’m “out of shape”). The scenery is beautiful and it’s a decent enough distance to clear my head and make me happy.
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6. It’s a good thing I’m getting great workouts on Sunday because the rest of the week? Not so much. Pffft. Summer makes things a little tougher.

7. Sunflowers make me smile.
you are my sunshine

8. Getting closer to the anniversary – or “puppiversary” of the day we first met our pup.Friday will mark two years since we first met him and waited to see which puppy would cross the grass to choose our family. That dog can be a big oven-mitt eating butthead, but he’s a good dog nonetheless.

9. June is almost over which means… summer is 1/3 over. Seeing as how this isn’t my favorite time of year, I’m kind of glad that it’s chugging along.

10. I want ice cream. That’s all.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

Last night on Twitter is when I first started seeing quite a lot of Nora Ephron quotes posted. You spend enough time on social media, you realize that when someone who isn’t talked about much is suddenly talked about excessively, they’ve either gone to jail for doing something really bizarre… or they’ve died.

I kind of wish Nora Ephron had just done something really bizarre.

Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash.

The writer of some of my favorite books and movies has passed away and while clearly I never knew her personally, I feel a loss in a way. Her characters, particularly the women, were easy to relate to (Sally, perhaps a little too much so) and were real. She had an uncanny knack for writing dialogue, and it was distinctive. Whether you’re watching “When Harry Met Sally” or “You’ve Got Mail” or “Sleepless in Seattle”… or whatever… you could peg that dialogue as Ephron dialogue. In a world where so many writers are trying to be someone else, to have a voice of your own that was both recognizable and yet accessible enough for so many to relate to is a rare and wonderful gift. Were her films award-winning caliber? Um, probably not. But you can’t deny the fun, light-hearted spirit.

You’re the worst kind: You’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.

I find that I’ve always known countless more women than men who have a near rabid love for “When Harry Met Sally” – it’s been one of my favorites for years. I loved the friendship between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, loved the evolution of their relationship from the time they first met in Chicago to his “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out” speech. That the movie is infinitely quotable was because of Ephron’s writing and her gift for creating characters that the viewers couldn’t help but love, even despite their flaws.

Oh but “Baby Fish Mouth” is sweeping the nation? I hear them talking.

I’ve found that in reading Ephron’s books, as well as seeing her movies, bits and pieces from various stories worked their ways into different pieces of work. The “two neuroses knowing they’re a perfect match” quote from Sleepless in Seattle? That was originally written in the novel, Heartburn, which was made into a movie in the late 80s and only real asset really was that Carly Simon “Coming Around Again” song which I still love because it reminds me of my childhood and my dad’s wife playing Carly and singing along and oh, that whole album conjures up memories. There was a syndicated columnist in Heartburn as well who I’m guessing shaped Greg Kinnear’s role in You’ve Got Mail (I could be wrong. I’m too tired to analyze).

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?

I found myself, this morning, almost wishing that it had been Delia Ephron who had passed away instead and then I felt immediately awful because poor Delia’s only offense is that she never has written as well as her sister (Her latest novel sits on my kitchen counter, I’m about a third of the way through – and while I feel it was written as though she could envision making it into a movie, it feels like she wanted it to be somewhat of a female “Hangover”, but didn’t know how to execute it, so there’s a lion who sits in the middle of the bar who will never measure up to Mike Tyson’s lion in Hangover). The novel “Hanging Up” was decent, but unlike Nora’s stories, didn’t translate well to the screen and instead ended up being some weird mishmash with (of course) Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, and a third person who I can’t even remember and am too lazy to look up on IMDB. Had it been Delia, I’m not sure I’d have been as sad.

I suck as a human.

I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.

So, cheers to you Nora, wherever you may be. Thank you for the words and the entertainment and the memory and the characters that you created. They’ve embedded themselves in pop culture history, and more importantly, my goofy little heart.


Day 300

heart in the sand

Today is the 300th day of my fourth year of my 365 Project.

For those of you mathy types, that means that by the time today ends, I’ll have taken (without fail) at least 1395 photographs to define the past 1395 days of my life*. And you know, if you know me, that I don’t just take one photograph a day – that odds are at the end of any given day I will have a selection of shots from that day to choose from.

Some are works I am truly proud of. Some are just okay. And some are just purely placeholders for lack of any better moments.

A year ago this morning, I stood on a beach in Muskegon with friends following the June Love Drop in Michigan. I know this because when I look back on my picture of the day, it’s a picture of the shadows on the beach at the edge of the water. That made me look up other shots from that morning, including the one above.

I also know that three years ago today, my daughters and I filled up massive amounts of water balloons and had an epic water balloon fight that was over in minutes.

I cannot believe a project that I joined on a whim has become such a big part of my life. When I began all these days ago, I was armed with a point and shoot and an iPhone camera and no real idea if I could stick with the project or that I would enjoy it. I certainly didn’t realize that I would fall in love with photography and in the midst of this whole deal find something that I truly love to do and am passionate about – that I would find yet another way to embrace my creative side and to show people a bit of a slice of how my brain works and how I see the world around me.

And so I am relieved when I look through these slices of my life – relieved that I have these moments captured – that I am tied to my memories by more than fleeting thoughts. My photographs make those moments concrete for me once more instead of letting them vanish.

When each year is over, I put all my pictures together and I watch them set to music – it’s roughly 12 minutes – and I watch a year go by, frame by frame. I watch it and I smile and I hurt and I laugh and I feel because it’s all still there, right in front of me in pictures.

And I’m grateful for that. Even with the bad pictures. (They’re not all good, y’all)

We never really know what a year will bring. You kind of have a vague idea at the start – birthdays, big events, trips planned – but those little moments, and not so little moments, they sneak up on you. And you have to embrace those too.

And I do. Daily. One at a time. Photo by photo. Year after year.

A girl, her camera, and some whacked out Lightroom preset.


*So help me if my math is wrong and one of you corrects me, I just may cry. So don’t. Just…don’t.

Thursday Ten: Can’t Think Of A Witty Title edition

1. As I type, I’m listening to Usher’s latest album – one of two that have been filling my ears this week. The second is the new release from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – that one I’m still undecided about. Loved the first single, “Stars”, but at first listen, I’m not sure I love the feel of  this effort (“The Lion The Beast and The Beat”). It may take a few more listens.

2. I took this shot (this is sooc) outside of the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. I love these flowers – all the bright orange lighting up my surroundings makes me smile. These are my two favorite colors right here. Sometimes mother nature has the best color palette.
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3. In book club, no one had read the book so, we didn’t talk about it at all. Yeah, that means we talked about the book five less minutes than usual. It’s not so much about the book anyway – though we all (usually) read it anyway. The conversation is often interesting – and right now, since most of us have daughters around the same age, we spent a lot of time talking about tampons and puberty and having “the talk”. Fun times. (Hilarious. ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY HILARIOUS)

4. In the midst of life being…life… I have managed to continue to make time to keep capturing moments and life with my camera. It’s more difficult than I thought to get creative with images when I’m in the office most days. But it’s an effort that makes me happy when I manage to get a shot I love. I’m also still managing to do some fun portrait photography and that makes me tremendously happy.

5. Pumpkin has taken an interest in baking (sound familiar?). How am I ever gonna keep fitting into my clothes if both my kids are bakers?

6. I am forever grateful that I have been blessed with such amazing friends in my life. It’s a gift and I’m constantly amazed at the caliber of friendships I have, the people in my life. Even the comments on my moody post the other day lifted me so much – and that makes me smile. Sometimes (okay, lots of times) it makes me crazy that my friends are so far flung all over the world. I’d love to have ’em all here for awhile.

7. Whoa.

8. I had a substitute dental hygienist at my six month cleaning last week and the experience was every bit as gruesome as the words “substitute dental hygienist” might indicate. Thank god I am not one of those who is fearful of the dentist, because that would NOT have helped.

9. After a whole school year of somehow not knowing that Pumpkin had a classmate LIVING ON OUR STREET, we discovered at the end of the school year that yes! There’s another kid her age in the neighborhood. She and I wandered down the street the other day and she got to slip and slide with some of the kiddos and I spent a bit of time getting to know the moms. One of the women has lived on our street just as long as we have – and yet we’ve never met. I’ve lived in this house ten years if that gives you any indication of what an antisocial introvert I am. Very nice peeps, and the kids all had fun. Win.

10. I shouldn’t have cut my hair last month. It was just a few inches and no one noticed but me, but I really want my long hair back. It helps in the summer to weigh down ALL THE HUMIDITY FLUFF. I am grateful that there are so many frizz control products, but sometimes even the best of the best can’t fight Michigan’s humid weather. It’s about time for a ponytail.

It’s hard to fill this space here lately


When I started this blog, a friend called it “Plastic Sarah” – because this is where I often tried to keep things positive and light and never really touched on things that were bothering me or not right in my world or even remotely unpleasant. I think there have been times when I have taken a break from the norm and spewed a little here, but for the most part, yeah… I try to be positive.

I think there’s a lot to be said for putting on a happy face when you’re not feeling it. It makes me think of Ben Affleck in The Boiler Room (“It makes me think of Ben Affleck…” – words I never thought I’d say): “There’s an important phrase that we use here, and think it’s time that you all learned it. Act as if.”

Acting as if doesn’t really mean that everything’s perfect or that I really am feeling joyous and peppy, but it’s sure easier to feel hopeful and optimistic if I’m not mired in gloom – and frankly? I prefer hope. I prefer thinking that things will be better at some point, and when you’re looking for the bright side of every situation, you’re more likely to find it. That may sound disgustingly Pollyanna-like, but… I’ll accept that.

I took my kids to the beach the other day, and I’ll be writing about that soon. I’ve been listening to some new music, and I’m sure I’ll mention that at some point. I am not a fan of this 90°+ weather we’ve got going on and how the circumference of my frizzy hair gets bigger as the humidity rises… and you’ll be hearing about that until autumn.

But right now, finding the words to put here is a bit tough, and I’m trying.

And I’m trying with a smile on because that’s what I do.

Thursday Ten: Lemon Verbena is Disgusting edition

1. Yes, lemon verbena smells gross (what’s a verbena?) but the scent of it means that my house is CLEAN – at least until I finish all of these lemon-verbena products and I can get something that doesn’t have a cringe-worthy scent. I spent quite a bit of time the other night cleaning the house and trying to unclutter. The end result is that it looks quite a bit better and it feels less chaotic to my brain. I’m really trying to eliminate chaos where I can. With the kids being home with a sitter all day during the summer months, it gets messier than usual (ESPECIALLY THE KITCHEN!) – it’s hard to keep up with it.

2. My sister invited me to go out to dinner with her last night, and she arranged for our mom to watch my daughters and hers. It was nice – we ate tons of chips and salsa and talked. It really is nice that we can do that now – I was ten when she was born, and we shared a room. I remember when she learned to climb out of her crib and she’d come wake me up. It’s kind of nice that she’s a friend now – back then, I wouldn’t have thought that the age difference would allow it. Guess it’s hard to see it that way when you’re changing diapers!

3. Pumpkin’s favorite song of the summer so far seems to be Train’s “Drive By”. It seems that Train is contractually obligated to produce at least one hook-heavy radio-friendly tune every year. “Drive By” is this year’s “Hey Soul Sister.”

4. I am feeling the need to take advantage of the summer months in a way that I haven’t in a long time. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve never taken the girls to spend the day at the beach. Ever. Granted, I think I always figured that Pumpkin was just too young, but she’s nearly seven and I’m being ridiculous. This summer, I’ll take my daughters to the beach. Not sure what else – but surely there’s summery stuff to do that we haven’t been doing in years past. I think we need a summer to-do list.

5. I made dinner the other night (that’s not the part that is blog worthy. I make dinner frequently) and both kids liked it. They liked it enough to have seconds. THAT is the part that’s blog worthy. It was kind of a spicy dish too – so the fact that The Princess liked it so much kind of blew me away. So, I’ll definitely be filing that away in my brain to make again. Cooking is so much more rewarding when you’re not serving a meal to people who are turning their noses up at it.

6. Last week, I went grocery shopping and while I was looking for the basil, I found oodles of fresh mint. I decided that mojitos sounded good. I made a great mint-infused simple syrup and then followed the directions I found online. The verdict? Meh. I’ve had better. But it was pretty.
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7. I shot my niece’s three-month portraits on Sunday evening. I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. Makes it a bazillion times easier because she’s so cute – but yep, pretty cute. Also, how is she three months old already? I remember waiting for my sister to go into labor!

8. I was going to write about how yesterday’s cooler weather was a relief from the hot weather we’d been having but I just went outside and it was miserable. So never mind.

9. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a real blog post here, and I feel like I should write something. I will. Soon. I’m sure you’ll be entertained BECAUSE I AM ENTERTAINING, DAMMIT.

10. I am fascinated by the differences when one common thing is photographed by so many. This happens often with landmarks – Golden Gate Bridge, Flatiron Building in New York, or even more locally to West Michigan, the red lighthouse building thing on the Holland Pier. It’s amazing that varying details – the angle, the perspective, the processing, the distance, the camera settings – can make the same thing look SO DIFFERENT. I was just looking at ferris wheel pictures the other day thinking this – all the same ferris wheel (by the way, if you ever want me to GET ON A FERRIS WHEEL, be prepared to work very hard to convince me. I hate them), but the images were all so different. Sure, some commonalities remain, but it’s amazing just how much you can make something your own when you capture it.
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Thursday Ten: Some Days Are Like That Even In Australia edition

1. Do y’all remember Alexander and his horrible, terrible no-good very bad day? It was a kids’ book (well… still is) and it was one of my favorites when I was younger. And you know, what it all boils down to in the end is that some days ARE like that – gum in the hair, can’t find your favorite jammies, not getting the prize out of the cereal box, not getting the window seat. Though it evolves and the scale and scope is different as you age, some days (weeks, months…) are just… like that sometimes. Even in Australia.

2. Tomorrow is the last day of school for the kiddos – and then I’ll have a second and fifth grader. They have both grown and changed and learned so much this year. I’m bummed that I’ll be missing so much of their summer, but, I think we’ll manage.

3. This week is the “give it to every single food craving you absolutely have because why not” (and because some days are like that, even in Australia). Burger and onion ring craving? Check. Tacos? Check. Peanut butter cups for breakfast? Check (And check. And, uh… check). I don’t normally eat this way and I’m not really planning to stay on this path – mostly because it just feels gross to eat so much garbage. BUT MY GOD IT IS SO YUMMY.

4. One of the most fun things about keeping a 365 photo project is getting to look back at where I was on this day, however many years ago. This is year four, so… I can look back a few years. On this day two years ago, I was on one of the most fun blogging trips ever – to Cincinnati to Proctor & Gamble for the Fabric Care University where I met Tim Gunn. A lot of cool things have come my way because of blogging – that’s been one of my favorite moments. Still. Even two years later. (Though I still think that it was a mistake to move Project Runway to Lifetime and it was better – way better – when it was on Bravo. Also, I think Mondo should have won his season.)

5. The Princess just kicked off summer practices for a new season of gymnastics and she’d been hoping to get to use a Nicki Minaj song for her floor routine. Instead… we’ll have a whole year of “Pumped Up Kicks.” Can you sense my excitement? (Ugh)

6. And speaking of music… I made it up until last week before hearing “Call Me Maybe”. I admit, I just don’t listen to the radio much – but the girls and I listened to the radio to and from Chicago last Sunday – and heard the song a few times. And then promptly got it stuck in my head.

7. I haven’t been doing a whole lot of reading lately – between life stuff and photo editing stuff – but when I do read, lately I’ve been catching a few pages of “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman to make sure it’s not too creepy for The Princess first before passing it on.

8. Did I just say photo-editing? This little dude was just over a week old when I photographed him last week. So precious. (But so tiring – newborns? So unpredictable and you take what you can get and try for some good shots. I was frustrated during the shoot – but am pretty pleased with the results overall)
before they're all ruined by walking and smells and stuff

9. Speaking of babies, I’ll be watching my niece Saturday when I take her to a family bridal shower my sister is unable to attend. How excited am I? I did have to promise my sister I wouldn’t let strange people hold her baby and that I wouldn’t put the baby on the floor of the hall. But… I think I’ll easily be able to hold up my end of the deal. Can’t wait. (I’m a pretty awesome aunt, just so you know)

10. In preparation for this bridal shower, I will spend extensive amounts of time tomorrow making massive quantities of bruschetta. I sure do hate cooking, but my bruschetta is legendary. I kind of look forward to the smell of fresh basil in the kitchen. Oooh, and garlic.