January 31, 2012

A Puppy Came to Stay …

for a couple days, that is.  There was running, there were brief moments of rest, there was more running, there was slobber flying.  There was much napping (for both dogs!) after puppy returned to his real home.

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January 29, 2012

True Beauty.

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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment,
such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is of great worth in God's sight.
1Peter 3:3-4


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January 25, 2012

Super Low Tide

made for a wider than usual playing field …

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Orange County Family Lifestyle Photographer

January 17, 2012

More Quiet Snippets ...

When he was nearly nine, I feared his spelling was always going to be atrocious and I despaired that he was never going to be a recreational reader...

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I. was. wrong.


Today he inhales books for fun and plays with letters just because he can. He regularly wipes me out at Bananagrams, and when I get hung up on Every Word (Kindle game), I hand it to him and he finds the missing words for me. I'm happy to say that I can still [usually] solve the Wheel of Fortune puzzles before he can (tho, sadly, that's only because I have some small familiarity with the people and song lyrics that he's never heard of).

ps. Isn't that the most awesome, ittiest-bittiest puzzle ever?!?

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January 16, 2012

Quiet Snippets of Life around Home ...

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The Teen, with his nose deep in C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity ... he has what he considers to be a full plate of academic courses this year. In fact, he often sighs and grumbles and whines and mumbles about how much he has to do and how very little time he has to do the things he wants to do, to remind us how overworked he is, just in case we should somehow forget.

But when this "Inklings" class became available, he couldn't resist adding it to his course load. Here is the teacher's course description:

"The fundamental goal of classical education is helping students learn to love all that is good, true, and beautiful. This vision for education, lost amidst the decadence and moral turpitude of our modern society, is being revived by Christians around the country. As may be well known, the inspiration and root for this revival is linked to the courage and love for the truth displayed by a few noble men at Oxford University in the mid-twentieth century. These few good men, affectionately referred to as the "Inklings" for their desire to share their writings, stood for the reasonability and beauty of the Christian faith at a university continually succumbing to the "myth of progress" and the separation of faith and reason. Their writings are Christian in the sense that they not only sermonize about faith, but also incarnate their ideas through powerful stories that illuminate goodness, truth, and beauty."

He'll be reading miscellaneous writings of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, George MacDonald, Charles Williams, W.H. Auden, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. I may not resist being able to read along ... ; afterall,as C.S. Lewis once said,
"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."


p.s. If you're in Orange County, and you have a high school student who may be interested in this evening class, there is still availability for a few more students. Feel free to email me (susan at susankellerphotography dot com) for further information.

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January 10, 2012

I love spunk.

And Harper Lee has it in spades. Her sole novel remains my uncontested favorite book of all time.

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Way back in the day, when a Richmond, VA school board in 1966 tried to ban To Kill a Mockingbird as "immoral literature", Lee showed her feistiness in a letter to the editor of the local paper:


“Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board's activities, and what I've heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read. Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that To Kill a Mockingbird spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is "immoral" has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink.

I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice."


Her feisty-ness also manifested itself publicly about a decade back when she got irritated by various ebay/booksellers making a profit from her [freely given] signatures in copies of TKAM. So she had a posting placed on Ebay [right alongside all these profiteering "rare" book sellers' postings] that made known that she was willing to sign, free of cost, any To Kill a Mockingbird purchased from her local bookstore. It was an invitation I didn't need to hear twice. :-)

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Btw, how lovely is that candid photo of Harper Lee? A little bit of trivia: Truman Capote is the photographer of that image. He and Nelle (Harper Lee) were childhood friends, and Capote was actually the inspiration for the character of Dill. This image only ran on the first couple print runs of the trade & book club editions of TKAM. My copy is from a book club edition that I found nearly 20 years ago on my mother-in-law's basement shelves, which I promptly begged to take home as my own. Thanks, Pat! - I still love it oodles!!

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January 9, 2012

latest books ...

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Miss Billy by Eleanor H. Porter - (the same author as Pollyanna & Just David). just a light, fun read. (btw, I used a free upload for Kindle)

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - Liked the story, despite needing to do some heavy-handed suspension of disbelief (which I'm always willing to do for good fiction - grin) and some minor skimming thru medical details. I would have liked to have seen some of the characters better "fleshed-out" & developed. (free Kindle upload/lending via my library)

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - ok, I'll admit this was a fun, quick read. But it was also shallow, completely implausible, and lacking mature writing. I was glad not to have spent money on it - got it free (for my Kindle) from Amazon's lending library.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - my book club's selection for December. intricate plot structure & multi-layered intriguing first person narrative. filled with unlikable character after unlikable character. this book left me scratching my head and wondering, "WHY is this considered a classic?" For that matter, I'm still scratching and wondering ... not my favorite. (another freebie upload for Kindle)

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - ('nuther Kindle freebie & this month's book club selection). probably Jane Austen's most light-hearted story, a gentle spoof of gothic novels of the day. doesn't displace P&P in my affections, nor will I probably ever reread this story; but, per Jane Austen norms, there were moments when I was laughing out loud ...

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick - clever, original narrative construction. two separate, but overlapping, stories. one advanced thru traditional medium of words, one advanced solely thru use of pencil drawings. I liked it. And immediately passed it off to my 12yo son. :-) Will likely soon read The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - despite the glorious title, this is a devastating, heart-wrenching story filled with quiet desperation. set against a backdrop of 40ish years of recent Afghani history. I will definitely be reading The Kite Runner, also.

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January 5, 2012

Family Albums: The Nitty Gritty

Today I have a big, long post over at I Heart Faces about my album-making process. I discuss what I do include in my albums, and - probably more importantly - what I don't include in my albums. I talk about organizational tips (setting up files, etc.) and timelines (ummm, start NOW!) and the products I use and love.

What I want to do here is list the specific products I use along with their links. I'm not paid to promote these companies; I just love their products and service and am happy to spread good word-of-mouth :-).

First up: (I know, this is "duh" for most of you; my love affair with Lightroom is NOT a secret) Adobe Lightroom

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Lightroom is my photographic everything. I can't fathom an easier way of organizing, finding, labeling, sorting, editing my photos.

2nd up: Lumapix's Fotofusion software

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I use Fotofusion to design my entire album. I've saved out pages from past albums as "templates", so a lot of my design is "drag & drop" easy. I love & use Fotofusion's auto-collage feature a LOT. Oh, and they have a totally free demo of their software available - you can try it before you buy it (which is always helpful!).  Of course, you don't have to have Fotofusion to make this happen; design work can be done in Photoshop/Elements, Lightroom (in the book module), or even in album-makers own software systems (MyPublisher all by itself is drag and drop easy).

And lastly, but not leastly: MyPublisher photo books

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I know there are about a gazillion awesome album companies out there.  But back in 2006, I made my first album with MyPublisher.  I've since made 6 more annual family albums with them. Simply a truly great product at an amazingly affordable price (wait for a sale - there's always a sale!). I can't recommend them highly enough.

So that's the inside scoop on my favorite album-making tools. Hope it's helpful!

In addition, here are the links to the album making articles (with tips & tricks & examples) I wrote for I Heart Faces:

Creating Your Own Family Albums
Photo Album Design Tips

Now go make an album!!  You'll thank yourself!

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