For anyone that knows me, I worry about not capturing every single moment of their childhood. I used to carry around a big camera. I posed my kids to capture a moment ever so perfectly. And it was tough. I missed out on so much trying to make sure the angle was just right or I was capturing the scene perfectly. I carried tons of equipment on all our vacations. I fumbled to change my ISO, choose the right shutter speed and so much more.
Then one day, it hit me. I needed to give it all up. I had to give up the notion that I need to capture every single moment. I needed to enjoy the actual moment. It was time to take a step back and enjoy my kids, not move them so they were just right, but simply capture them for who they are. Don’t get me wrong, it took a bit of time to give up control.
This past weekend, we headed to Disney. I opted to leave my camera at home – both my p+s and my mkiii. Cringe. I think I even hyperventilated leaving the house a bit. I had pre-paid for the Disney photopass + had my trusty iPhone. I told myself to just go with it, enjoy it, and let someone else take the photos. That way, I’d actually be IN the photos … you know, that problem so many mothers have, taking the photos but not being in them.
And we had fun. We had a blast. I got my photos + they were real. Sure, they are not magazine worthy. But thirty years from now, my kids will still have the memories + some photos of us… being real, having fun, and enjoying the moment.
When you go on vacation, what do you bring? Your camera bag full of gear? Your point + shoot? Your iPhone (or any phone) only?
This is my first post here at the Creative Mama. I’m still maneuvering my way around. I am trying to find my voice. I hope to get to share a little about my life, my thoughts, my hopes and so much more. So for those that do not know me. Hi. I’m Courtney. I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I’m a teacher. I’m a photographer. I’m so happy to be here.
I’m talking a little class … because you know, at this time of year I have tons of free time! Ha ha ha ha!
Seriously though, I am taking this fabulous class by my friend Xanthe — Creating Time Capsules. Even though I have tons of photography clients and family commitments at this time of year, I know that in order to fuel my creative soul, I need to do something new and different. A few years ago I committed to a 365 project which completely changed my photography skills and the way I look at everyday life. Then I focused on self-portriature for a time, and I tried to embark on a 52-week self-portrait project this year, but struggled to stay committed.
Owning a creative business can quickly lead to times of burnout, or worse yet, a lack of inspiration. Often the only solution is diving into something new, and yet so many of us neglect the playful side of creativity, of working on a project solely for the joy of it. Last year I started offering classes through a local artist co-operative, and the most common comment I received from people was — “I’d love to take your class … if only I could find the time.” And here I had been, for many months, doing the same thing to myself.
So when Xanthe said she was running Creating Time Capsules again I knew it was just the right project for me. I’ve been wanting to attempt video shooting for the past year, but haven’t carved out the time. And if you knew me in person, you’d be shocked by that! Because yes, I was that bride — the one who was adamant that she did NOT want a videographer at her wedding. I was certain, with my relatives, there were things better left to memory (or better yet, forgotten!). But now I have kids, and as we mamas know, that changes everything. My kids are now all in elementary school, and I see them growing and changing at exponential rates. The baby years were precious and well captured by images. Somehow this time in their lives seems to crave something different, something more. This digital age of ours is calling out for a real-time look at them in action.
The thing I love about Xanthe’s approach to making these little movies of our lives, is they integrate still photographs along with video clips. As a photographer, that really appealed to me and is helping ease me into the process. Also, learning to edit video and only keep the things I really love was a big plus for this
control freak meticulous person. While I am just now jumping into shooting for my first video project, I do have a little taste of what I’ve learned to share. For the first project in the class we created a slide show with stop motion animation, to get us started. Enjoy!
How about you? What projects or classes do you have on the horizon to feed your creative soul? How will you jump back into joy and play? Maybe you are waiting for the new year, but I challenge you to start thinking about how you can get inspired.
I’ll be back again to share some more video goodness next month! And if you are interested in creating time capsules of your own, check out Xanthe’s classes. For those more in tune with something you can hold in your hands, she is offering a NEW type of time capsules class coming soon!
Hello, dear readers!
On this Thanksgiving Day, we wish you a wonderful holiday season in which you enjoy the things that matter most. And for those making latkes instead of mashed potatoes, Happy Hanukkah to you.
Thanks to Jessica of Daily Designables, we have a special gift for our readers- gorgeous holiday templates made especially for TCM readers plus a special Daily Designables membership offer for TCM readers.
Thank you for reading and being an important part of The Creative Mama family.
Safe travels and many blessings!
The Creative Mama Team
What is included in your complimentary gift package?
1. 4 Photoshop card templates: Create your own card or holiday images using any combination of these 4 elegant templates. Change the colors and text to suit your photos! There is a print version as well as web in case you just want to share your photos online instead of printing them.
2. Facebook timeline cover template: Dress up your Facebook cover for the holidays with this lovely minimal luxe design. Change the background color to suit your photo.
3. DIY Holiday Gift Idea: Give someone you love an elegant and handmade gift without breaking the bank. There are two PSD templates included, one with the single design and one ’4-up’ so that you can print 4 to a sheet. Simply print the stationery at home and cut the 8.5 by 11 letter paper in half each way. Simple! For those who don’t use Photoshop, there is an editable PDF printable where you can change the text and print as well!
About Daily Designables:
Daily Designables is the newest online destination for unlimited Photoshop templates & overlays. I believe that the mom at home, bloggers, scrapbookers and photographers should ALL have access to quality design templates without breaking the bank! At Daily Designables, you can download unlimited Photoshop templates for a single LOW monthly price. You have instant access to all previous templates, AND I release a new template or overlay each weekday!
Special Offer just for TCM Readers!
Save 50% off the first month of premium membership to Daily Designables • Use Coupon Code: CreativeMamaHoliday • Re-bills monthly at regular price (currently $24.99) • Instant access to all downloads • New templates each weekday • Cancel anytime
Download your holiday gift here!
(If you love this beautiful gift package as much as we do,visit Daily Designables’ Facebook page and let Jessica know!)
photo by Craig Dugas
It started innocently enough—or, perhaps, more aptly, guiltily enough. A card-carrying vegetarian, I was a bit of an anomaly among my peers in that preparing meat, watching others eat meat—none of that bothered me. Walking into our local barbecue joint was actually a feast for my olfactory senses; I just opted not to think about how that aroma was achieved as I ordered my rather sad and seemingly only options of cornbread and mashed potatoes.
But one sweltering summer morning several years ago, I got the idea to engage my Crock-Pot that was all but collecting dust on my kitchen counter. It was too hot to cook; and, to be fair, I wasn’t especially fond of cooking. So, I looked online and found a foolproof recipe for chicken teriyaki that seemed to require only the nominal effort I was willing to put forth.
For the eight requisite cooking hours, my house smelled a lot like the bouquet I imagine must emanate from the heavens. Though inadvisable in Crock-Pot-cooking, I lifted the lid constantly; I basked in the scents and had some strange, delirious thoughts: Can I eat this? Should I eat this? I think I might eat this.
And then I contemplated something equally radical: Maybe cooking isn’t that bad after all.
After a few flirtations with just the sauce, I wound up eating the chicken teriyaki that night, and it was good. And within a week I transformed into the most egregious carnivore you ever did see.
But something else clicked, too, with the advent of eating meat: I realized I enjoyed cooking, loved it, actually. I savored every cooking magazine I could get, learned the difference between render and deglaze, the importance of mise en place, and why I needed to own a ricer. I started cooking for family, inviting them to our house several times a month to try out a new dish. I signed up for cooking classes.
And for the first time I learned that what I had always thought of as a hokey platitude–that in cooking love is truly the most important ingredient—is actually true. When you enjoy the process, think of the people for whom you are cooking while you’re preparing the food, and take your time, you can’t help but have dishes that occasionally bring people to their metaphorical knees.
On this Thanksgiving eve, I will be preparing sides dishes to complement my mother-in-law’s turkey, stuffing, gravy, and potatoes; and our combined efforts will feed our family. It doesn’t sound especially profound; yet I have learned these past few years that it, in fact, is. Incredibly profound.
My children watch the effort I extend when I prepare food, how I set the table, the care I take. And I know it’s all sinking in. They may not be foodies yet at ages nine, eight, and four, but they’re learning about food.
And they’re learning one of the most delectable ways we show our love.
I’d love to hear from you: What are you cooking for Thanksgiving? For whom?
Whether you are counting down to Thanksgiving Thursday and all of the hoopla that comes with the beginning of the holiday season, or hiding your head under a pillow in denial…the holidays are coming…and fast. Overwhelmed? Yeah, me too. A little.
Up until a couple of years ago, I did everything to make the holidays what I thought they should be…sparkly and bright, dozens of homemade cookies, a beautifully decorated home and extensive ‘to-do’ lists that never got done.
By the time the holidays actually arrived I was exhausted and ready for them to be over. Too worried about doing everything right, I missed the real gift of the holidays…being present.
Finally, a couple of years ago after yet another exhausting holiday season, I knew something needed to change. Who was I doing all this for? It certainly wasn’t me. I’m a fairly simple girl…I like a clean house, a homemade (not fancy) meal and the company of my loved ones. My children certainly didn’t need it, they are young and simply love time with their grandparents and cousins, along with the excitement of a few gifts under the tree. Somewhere along the line of magazines and Pinterest, I lost sight of doing things my own way.
So, the question became, how to get back to the simplicity I longed for? It was much easier than you’d think, and including my family in the changes made our holiday celebrations even more meaningful.
Here are a few of the things we have done to make our own holiday season more simplified. Find what works for you and your home, after all that’s what makes the holidays special.
Simplify Sit down on your own and make a list of all the things you do for the holidays. Looking it over, how much do you really WANT to do? How much NEEDS to be done? What can you eliminate from that list that will help you to feel more present during the holiday season? My guess is that maybe you don’t need to do as much as you think. Find your sweet spot, do what brings you peace and happiness when it comes to creating your celebration.
Sit Down with the Kids We held a family meeting and decided together what we enjoyed most about the holidays. Identify your traditions, you might just be surprised by what your kids say…I certainly was. Family time, a backyard football game, the duck blind on Black Friday, our neighborhood hot cocoa stand, reading Christmas stories, a craft or two and church on Christmas Eve all topped their lists. We also narrowed down the list of Christmas cookies made to 2 or 3 of our most favorite.
The Gift of Experience Do you buy gifts for a long list of extended family? Cousins, nieces and nephews? Up until a few years ago we did the same. Then I had the thought, why not give the gift of experiences instead? We are fortunate enough to have most of our extended family fairly close by, so this wasn’t a stretch. Instead of gifts we get together a week or two before Christmas and do an activity. Oh the fun! Each year a different family plans what we’ll do and makes all the arrangements. We’ve gone bowling, had ‘Just Dance’ competitions, decorated gingerbread houses and sugar cookies, had a pizza party and drank hot cocoa while riding around the city looking at Christmas lights. The memories created have been a far greater gift than I could’ve ever given any of my nieces and nephews.
Think Beyond Your Home Are there people in your community that are in need? Of course there are. Sometimes the best dose of holiday perspective comes from helping others. Each Christmas Day my parents deliver gifts to families for the Goodfellows in their community. It was a tradition they started when my brother and I were children. I remember as a child realizing for the first time that not everyone had the beautiful holidays I was accustomed to, it was a very good lesson.
All this said, I still have my moments of craziness as we move from the end of November to the height of December celebrating. Like it or not, that’s part of the season too. It just doesn’t need to be the dominating tone. Remember to breathe and be present…for that is the real gift of the holiday season.
Welcome to “LOVED IT!”- a new feature on The Creative Mama! Every other weekend, one of our team members will share a few links that she has found inspiring with the hopes that you will too!
Ginger Unzueta Photography
This photo speaks to me of the peace and beauty to be found in the stillness of nature. I can feel the sunshine warm my face and the blades of grass prickle my toes. Photographer Ginger Unzueta is a master at capturing the wonder in everyday moments, and I especially love how light plays a starring role in her black and white images.
Speaking of photography, it’s that time of year, isn’t it? Family pictures are being taken for holiday cards and gifts. I am happy to report that my family will be getting our first update in… (cringe…) 5 years! (Yes, my kindergartner was a bald baby in the last one!) I am clinging tightly to the advice of Teresa Porter who wrote “So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed…” as I build up the courage to be in front of the lens. (This is the video version.) If I later post our updated picture, you will know I have embraced her words.
“Hey, not all real women have curves,” by Kristen Hedges tackles another side of the body image conflict. Both articles actually tell the same story– feeling insecure about their appearance and longing to be appreciated just as they are. Tell your friend, sister, mother, daughter, and neighbor how beautiful she is. Because she is… and so are you.
I impressed all the ladies at a recent luncheon when I made Baked Bree’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake. One pumpkin lover commented that it was the best of both the cake and pie worlds put together. I agree! And it might even be foolproof, because not wanting to make a trip to the store for more; I cheated on the amount of cream cheese used.
And finally, has anyone read The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon yet? I can’t wait to read this new addition to my favorite light mystery series The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency.
Last month I spent 31 days blogging about positive thinking– not because I’m especially good at it, but because it was a habit that I lacked and hoped to cultivate. This recent quest to think more positively has helped prepare me for the Thanksgiving holiday, because what I learned through study and introspection is that having a positive attitude truly rests on ONE thing– being grateful.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. –Melody Beattie
My circumstances don’t need to change in order for me to be happy. I simply get to choose happiness by recognizing my many blessings and resting in the knowledge that what I have truly is “enough, and more.”
With Thanksgiving (in in the USA) being just a few days away, I want to share a simple, gratitude expressing family tradition that I enjoyed as a child. Now, my kids can’t wait to ”stuff the turkey” when we travel to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. A brown paper grocery bag becomes the turkey when a picture of a turkey is pasted on one panel. On Thanksgiving Day the bag sits in a prominent place with blank slips of paper and pencils beside it. As guests gather, they are invited to anonymously list several things they are thankful for on the paper provided and then “stuff the turkey” with those paper strips. An older sibling or adult may help young children record their thankfulness.
Later in the day, (“pie time” works well for us) family and friends gather and pass the brown bag around. Each person randomly draws a few slips of paper and then takes turns reading them for all to hear. It if fun to silently guess who wrote what, and a feeling of gratitude abounds during the sharing of the many blessings the group enjoys.
“Stuff the turkey” is a tradition that takes very little preparation, and is easy to repeat year after year. It especially lends itself well to large gatherings or groups in which not all guests are familiar with each other.
I wish you creative mamas a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with positive thoughts and overflowing turkeys!