Rainy Day At The Como Zoo Conservatory

Rainy Day At The Como Zoo Conservatory
Over the weekend we took a trip to the Como Zoo Conservatory.  I had been wanting to go for awhile, and the fact that it was raining didn’t stop me.  I really wanted to visit the conservatory, and a short trip through the Japanese Gardens could easily be done with some umbrellas.

Princess tried to climb into the fountain.  She LOVES playing in water.  Thankfully we caught her before she jumped in!

There were a lot of prom kids getting portraits taken all over the place.  There was also a bride and a groom in the sunken gardens, so we decided to come back so we wouldn’t be in their way.  
The sunken gardens are very beautiful.  They’re also full of lilies, which I’m allergic to.  I had my face mask so I could walk through without getting a migraine, but the smell seemed to bother Cat too.  Sadly, I think she might have inherited an allergy from me after all.  Thankfully, lilies are one of the easier allergens to avoid.  The worst thing is that she’ll have a rough time at funerals.  Thankfully, many people have red eyes and runny noses there, so she won’t be out of place.

The North Garden is my favorite.  It’s full of edible plants!  Depending on the time of year, you might even be able to spot something familiar growing.  I love peeking carefully through the leaves to see what treasures they hold.  The vanilla seemed to be overtaking the wall by the door.  Nate and I were amazed at how big it was!  We bought two cuttings of it from the gift shop in hopes of growing our own.
Cupcake was not a fan of this room.  She said it smelled like cat pee.  To be honest, it does smell a little when you first walk in, but then you get used to it.

We had a lot of fun at the Como Zoo Conservatory.  It was a lot more fun than being cooped up inside, at home, in the rain.  I kind of wish I had a beautiful indoor garden like the ones at Como, but I bet it takes a very large team and a lot of money to keep it looking as beautiful as it does.  I think I’m happy settling for a visit once a year and a few clippings of vanilla to take home with us.

Have you been to the Como Zoo Conservatory?  What is your favorite part?

52 Project, Week 12: Reflection

52 Project, Week 12: Reflection

It was a foggy morning as I dropped Mr. Awesome off at school.  Princess and I ran home to grab my camera and went out looking for some awesome scenery.  We weren’t disappointed!

The world was clouded in a beautiful thick white haze.  The river was so misty that I could barely see the water beyond the shore.  Princess and I listened as a train crossed the bridge, so close, yet nearly invisible to us.  We continued to drive along the river, stopping at different spots in awe of the world, so different from its usual stark clarity.

As the fog began to dissipate, I pulled into a parking lot by a little lake.  The sun was weakly shining through the clouds.  I was worried it would burn off the vapor before I had a chance to hop from the car.  I think it worked in my favor.  If the fog had been thicker, I wouldn’t have been able to see the far trees.

Dictionary.com defines the word reflection as this:

1.the act of reflecting, as in casting back a light or heat, mirroring, or giving back or showing an image; the state of being reflected in this way.

2.an image; representation; counterpart.

3.a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.

4.a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.

5.an unfavorable remark or observation.

6.the casting of some imputation or reproach.

For this challenge, I chose the first definition.  I thought options 3 and 4 would also work well for this challenge.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled my whole life with negative thoughts.  When I was little, I watched the movie Pollyanna and her positive attitude changed my life.  There are a few different instances where she is with adults who are very negative, worn down with life and have given up on positivity.  Despite their negative outlook, Pollyanna tells them about how she plays a glad game.  She strove to find something positive in everything.

Whenever I find myself stuck in a negative rut, I try to find something positive.  I tell my children also “Find something positive in every bad situation.”  I don’t know that they get it yet, but maybe renting Pollyanna from the library will impress positivity upon them as it did me.

I hope you are having a wonderful week.  Are you able to find something positive in negative situations?

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52 Project, Week 11: Art

52 Project, Week 11: Art

Art can be so many different things!  There are thousands of different mediums and styles of art!  Choosing one form was incredibly difficult.  I am an artist, but I also enjoy the art of others.

The decision of making art of my own or finding a way to honor another person’s art was only mildly difficult.  I decided that since this was a mother/child project, it would be fun to make our own art.  We’ve always wanted to paint on canvases and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  The whole family headed to Walmart where we picked up a few essentials.  Paint, canvases for the children and some paint brushes.   We also had a small pack of puzzles in our stash of art supplies from our local dollar store.  My own little canvas was also from the dollar store.

Each of the children enjoyed creating a masterpiece on their little canvases. Watching them create makes my heart happy.  In addition, I get to enjoy their beautiful art for years to come.

I decided to create an ombre blue base for my canvas project.  I started out by using the original shade of blue on the very bottom of the canvas.  Then I mixed the blue and white and added another stripe, I continued to add white and paint another stripe until the canvas was done.

After I let the canvas thoroughly dry, I moved onto the next step, glitter!  I found an image of an anchor online.  I printed it off and Cat cut it out for me to create a stencil.  Cat pressed the paper to the canvas and I painted the glue into the anchor shaped opening.  I heavily sprinkled the glitter onto the glue.  Cat removed the stencil.  We shook off the extra glitter onto a sheet of paper and poured the extra glitter back into its container.  I bought some spray adhesive that I’m going to use to keep the glitter from falling off.  Hopefully, this will keep it pretty for years to come!

What is your favorite way to create art?  Do you have a recent project to share with us?

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52 Project, Week 10: Mother/Daughter

52 Project, Week 10: Mother/Daughter

Since this is a mother/daughter* project, it seemed obvious that there should be a mother daughter portrait for one of the challenges.  Though this photography project is mostly for Cat and me, I have invited all of the kids with us when we go out on our adventures.  Often, the other children get to jump in for a few portraits or get a chance to hold the camera.

The images of Cat and Me were both taken by Cupcake.  Cat and I both took portraits with the other kids and took turns being the photographer.  I’ve shared a few favorites and funny ones.  Life with 4 children is never boring!  Hahaha!

Some of these images were taken in my studio as a last photo shoot before closing my in-home studio.  The other ones are a walk we took on a warm day after the Sunday meeting.  Since it was so warm, there were a lot of other families out enjoying the warmer weather.  One family was kind enough to stop and take a portrait of all of us together, a rare treat.

I enjoy taking portraits with my children so that I am not an invisible part of their lives, in pictures anyway.  Too often I am the one taking a picture and not in it.  I’ve been trying to change this and ask other people to take a picture of me.

As a photographer, I see a lot of Mom’s since they’re the ones bringing the children in for photo shoots.  I usually ask the Mothers to jump in for a few portraits.  Some Moms are happy to jump in, excited to share in the moment.  Most Moms are shy and hesitant, slightly uncomfortable with the idea of being the center of attention.  Some Moms outright refuse to be in the portrait.

I’ve heard a lot of excuses over the years.  They’re heartbreaking to hear.
“I don’t have any makeup on.”
“I don’t look good.”
“I’m not dressed up.”
“I’m too fat.”
“I’m ugly.”
Usually, these are said with an outright honest and panicked frankness.  Some are said with a laugh to diffuse the tension.  All are said directly in front of their children.

Years ago I read an article that talked about how self-image was created in children.  It mentioned how children’s first role models are their parents.  What children hear their Mother’s say about themselves, becomes the inner voice of our children.  If we talk negatively about ourselves on a regular basis, our children hear that and internalize it.  If we talk positively about ourselves, we set a good example of confidence and self-love.

Our children look at us with love and adoration.  They don’t see our imperfections as imperfections.  They might or might not notice that our hair is messy, we don’t have makeup on, our clothes might be a size too small or too large or dirty from a hard day’s work.  They might or might not see the extra weight or lack of weight.  They might or might not see our wrinkles and grey hair.  To them, this is all part of a person they love very much.  To them, these things are all beautiful and fun.  Children see the INNER beauty shine through these beautiful characteristics that make us who we are. Children are not naturally judgemental.

I’ve had my children mention my “imperfections” to me as something they adore.
“Mommy, your tummy is nice and fluffy”
“Mommy, why do you put makeup on?  You look prettier without it.”
And my favorite…
“Mommy, I love you!”
They see the extra hugs and cuddles should they have a nightmare.  They see the smile when they look over for approval.  They hear my encouragement, my teaching, my singing, my laughter, and my love.  They see me making them meals and washing their clothes with a positive attitude.  They notice the good and not the bad.

Over the years, I’ve made a point to say positive things about myself in front of my children.  If I should look in the mirror and not like what I see, I make sure to say something positive out loud.  Instead of criticizing myself over my “imperfections”, I say “Look at my beeeautiful body!”  I usually say it in a silly voice with a little wiggle.  My children laugh and smile.  Instead of feeling down about myself, I too feel better and happier with who I am.

Seeing myself in pictures is not always easy.  I can see the things that make me look older as glaring reminders that I’m no longer young.  I resist the urge to edit these away with my awesome photo editing skills.  I don’t want my children to look back and see a perfectly retouched and unrealistic Mom.  I want them to see me as I am.  Hopefully, someday when they’re older, should they struggle with the same negative thoughts, they might look at a picture of me at their age and see that I’m not perfect either and hopefully it will make them feel better.

Do you hop in portraits with your children?  Do you have any pictures of you and your mother?

*Although this is a mother/daughter project, anyone can join in.  This can be a father/son, father/daughter, mother/son or other project.  If you don’t have a child, you can use your parent.  If you are away from your parent or child, you could use this as an opportunity to photograph what the parent/child relationship means to you.

Here are a few silly outtakes of our photo shoot.

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52 Project, Week 9: Ice/Snow/Frost

52 Project, Week 9: Ice/Snow/Frost

One of my favorite things about living in Minnesota is the winter season.  I prefer the cold air over hot any day of the week.  I love wearing boots, instead of flip-flops, I prefer sweaters over camisoles, I love cuddling under warm blankets with those I love.  In winter, you won’t find insects, although there might be a ladybug hiding in a warm corner.  The best thing about winter though is the beauty that transforms the landscape.

Ice, snow, and frost are so different from one another.  They all share the fact that they are created from frozen water, but visually, they are unique.  Unlike many of these photography challenges, ice, snow, and frost are limited to a single season and the mercy of the weather.  Unfortunately, we had a very late start to the winter season, unusually warm temperatures all season long and an early spring.  Trying to capture the images for this challenge were hit or miss.


Frost is a fascinating creation to behold.  It dances and skates across the surface of anything it touches as though fairies were playing in the night.  It decorates grass, branches, windows, and anything left outside with a sparkly white layer of crystallized glitter.  Seeing a frost covered world, lit by the morning sun is a rare treat, better than a frosted cookie or cake.  It is a breathtaking sight to behold.  Frost is short lived and hard to capture, but I have great fun trying.


I love snow.  I love how it falls, soft as feathers, beautiful and white, dancing through the air.  I love its fluffy blankets spread across the ground and piled upon every surface.  I love how it glitters in the sunlight as though diamonds were crushed and sprinkled upon the surface.  It brightens the night with a soft, ethereal glow.  Snow transforms the entire world into a new place, almost unimaginable from its warm state.


My children’s favorite activity this winter was ice skating   The weather was so warm that we had a very short ice skating season, but we still managed to get out a couple of times.  Although I wasn’t photographing them specifically for this photography challenge, I thought it would be fun to share a video of them learning to ice skate.

What is your favorite thing about ice, snow or frost?  Do you love getting out there and enjoying winter activities with your family?

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