Fun & Simple ways to Capture the Christmas Spirit All Month Long

christmas cookies
Cookies are baked and ready to decorate!

Christmas is my favorite time of year. The lights, the sounds, the smells, the season seems to be all around us. From the Peppermint Mochas in every coffee shop to the twinkling lights in our neighborhoods, it is a time to rejoice and reflect on not only the passing of the current year, but the hope for the year yet to come. It’s a time for families to come together and celebrate.

It’s also the time of year that is easiest to forget why we celebrate Christmas. In between stressing over finding the perfect Christmas gift for our loved ones and decking the halls just right, we often forget that Christmas is also about families, being thankful for what we have and finding ways to spread the love of Christ to others. We are pulled in a million different directions all year-long. And if your family is anything like ours, we tend to be connected to electronics more than we connect to each other. It can be hard to pull the kids away from their phones and computers to spend time together as a family.

undefined-3
Teaching the kids how to make popcorn strings for the tree. (The birds also love this)

A couple of years ago we started a new family tradition, “25 Days of Christmas.” Starting December 1st, we have one activity a day to do as a family. It doesn’t have to be something big, but it has to be something that brings us together. Even something as simple as enjoying a cup of hot chocolate around the tree or visiting the community Train Garden, it’s a chance for us to reconnect as a family and to capture a little more of the holiday spirit. The kids enjoy having a new task to do every night and we have started a tradition that I hope they can pass on to their kids.

 

Take a look at some of our activities:

  1. Make paper snowflakes

  2. Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn

  3. Make a new Christmas decoration

  4. Go ice skating

  5. Make Christmas cards for the nursing home

  6. Make cookies

  7. Make gifts for teachers and friends

  8. Have a camp out in front of the Christmas tree

  9. Visit the Train Garden

  10. Go to 34th Street to see the Christmas lights if your in Baltimore. Or find a place that goes over the top with christmas lights.

  11. Go out for a Christmas treat

  12. Wrap Christmas gifts

  13. Celebrate the winter solstice by making solstice lanterns

  14. Make an ice wreath

  15. Do a service for someone in need

NOW YOUR TURN : )

See how many you can do and I challenge you to come up with some of your own.

Stay random!

Karen

Advertisements

I hope I don’t go to jail

img_0820
Beyond this sign might be your best photograph ever! 

Rules are made to keep us safe, but you have to know when not to follow them. If you always follow them you will never know the secret of what’s on the other side! In my life, the sweetest fruits have always been on the thinnest, most rule guarded branches. There have been times when I have been detained because stopping on the side of the road to photograph a bridge draws attention from the authorities; but so will scaling a building to capture an amazing sunset over the city.

 

Yesterday we went to a National Park that had so many rules on where you could go. I’m sure they are thinking about safety for the masses, but I’m not a mass. I am a person, a person who wants to show what’s on the other side of where you should be.

As a photographer, the best shots are always, without a doubt, in the places that are hard to reach or uncomfortable to get to. It’s like nature demands a test to get it’s treasure. Sometimes it’s a long walk in bramble bushes, boggy moors, bug infested swamps or smooth as silk rocks with a long drop down. Other times it may be a small ledge that holds the perfect shot if only you can repress your fear of heights to capture the sunset you’ve been after.

While I’m not suggesting we should be careless in our adventures, we only have one life and body. I am suggesting that sometimes you should take a chance and break the rules, color outside the lines, hop the guardrail to get that shot. You might be surprised at what you discover both in your art and within yourself.

Here are some of the photographs from yesterday. I will be uploading a montage video to my youtube channel. If you haven’t yet subscribed to my youtube channel please check it out and if you like short art videos, please consider subscribing CLICK HERE to visit my channel.

 

Americano with soy please

I love my family and spending time with them but there is something about jumping in the car and going somewhere by yourself, even if it is just for a cup of coffee and watching the water. I love to go down to watch the water. When I was a kid I would do it often. Maybe as a way to destress, or maybe I just like the hypnotic effect of rolling water. In any case it was short but fun. Then I got to do my second favorite thing sing badly in my car. : )

I need to learn video editing for my job, so I thought it would be a good time to film a short movie about my coffee date with the water : ) Hope you watch it and have a happy Thanksgiving-eve (not really sure it’s a thing, but oh well)

-Stay Random

Dom

8 hours of freedom!

When the boss man says you have to use your vacation time. Use it, or lose it.

Part of the problem is I love to work! I’m professionally a web and graphic designer for an educational company. I find a lot of love for the projects I work on, so typically at the end of the year I have amassed a chink of time that needs to be spent by January 1, or else I will lose it. So this week I’m off. Because my wife is working and the kids are in school I am totally free for 8 hours. 🎉🎉

Yesterday I wanted to go out and art something but the winds and cold temperatures kept me in the house. However today, the winds are gone and its adventure time.

While I’m not sure what exactly I will be doing. I know it does involve the following:

  • 🏋🏻‍♀️ working out
  • ☕️ having an overpriced coffee somewhere
  • 🚿 showering
  • 📷 taking pictures

So I guess it’s time to carpe denim (seize the jeans) and get to it. 🙂 Maybe I will visit this spot again. Until later, Stay Random. : )

 

Adventure day was cancelled so…

Today was kind of a bust. I started off with great intentions! I found an awesome waterfall that was only about an hours drive from Baltimore. But sadly, the cold front has brought pretty massive winds. : ( When life hands you lemons, grab the gin and tonic and do something else!

Instead of taking pictures I thought I would catch up on all the little micro projects I have floating around. I am part of a band called Chili, Chips and Cheese. We’re a parody group that takes songs and add chili lyrics to them. Click here if you want to listen. We’re recording a Christmas cd for fun, so I had to record a new song. I also wanted to play video games. Lastly, I couldn’t help wanting to spend time staring at the clouds because they looked awesome. I can’t believe i actually finished all of them in an entire afternoon!

Because no one in their right mind would watch a 8 hour video I sped it up. : )

Am I cool enough for color? 🤔

For the longest time I only uploaded black and white images to my Instagram account. I have a deep love for monochromatic images that started when I rolled my film and developed my pictures in a small dark room.

One major reason I love to capture black and white is it allows me to just focus on the subject I am trying to convey. I also find it easier to focus on balance, contrast, textures and emotion.

I love color 🏳️‍🌈 as well. More and more I find myself keeping my images chromatic and at times even dipping my big toe in the ocean of HDR, for images that are rich with saturation. Maybe one day my gallery will be mostly color.  🙂 Until then, I hope you like some of my iPhoneography using black and white.

Stay Random,

Dom

 

What do you call a nun in a blender?

Twisted Sister! Hahahaha. Ok so I think this proves that at my age I’m still immature at times. Well maybe I’m not immature but rather simple. But hey, simple can be pretty fun! 

Here are just some simple high contrast black and white pics from my walk to my car. I love vibrant colors but sometimes I just need good ole simple black and white. 

And if your wondering, I love Hipstamatic iPhone app. I love using different lens and filter combinations. If you don’t have it give it a try 🙂 What camera app do you use a lot? 

I can’t believe photographers get paid for this


As a photographer and digital artists I get to come up with some neat ideas every once in a while. I wish I would of thought of some of these. Can you imagine the look on the models face when they found out that the shoot would involve things like putting an octopus 🐙 on your head. 😂 I wonder if the we’re like “wait, you want me to do what?”. 

Stay Random 🙂

Crocheting, from granny squares to amigurumi : ) (Guest post)

Crafting is something that I discovered at an early age and have developed over time. For me, crocheting has strong familial significance. My grandmother was my first teacher, showing me the most basic stitches. When I entered my teenage years, my mom took up the mantle, teaching me the more difficult stitches. This crafting time became very meaningful to me, because it was something special that my mom and I could share together. In between my crazy soccer schedule and her work schedule, we established “Melrose Mondays” (hello, 90’s!) We would order pizza, take up our projects, and watch the drama unfold between Amanda, Michael, and Kimberly. This was a time to grow my craft, to learn techniques and experiment with designs, and most importantly, to bond with my mom. We talked, laughed, shared our struggles, discussed my latest crushes, and really connected in this creative space.
Over the years I also expanded my craftwork to the art of cross-stitch and latch hook. And if I didn’t have a current yarn project, I would seek out something new to create, some new craft. Whether it be baking, cake decorating, or making party decorations, I was always trying to make something beautiful. Dom and I laugh about the fact that whenever we see something inspired, our initial reaction is not “Oh, let’s buy this,” but rather, “How can we make this?” Pinterest serves as both a blessing and a curse for the creative mind. There are so many wonderful ideas and projects, it’s hard to keep my board from getting full! There are so many more pinned ideas than I could ever make, or than my bank account could ever afford. We really should buy stock in Michael’s J

People often ask me why I don’t sell my art- and craftwork on Etsy. I’m sure I could, but for me it’s not about selling my pieces to make money. The value in my artwork centers on how much joy I might bring to someone through giving them something handmade, with love. There is nothing better than seeing the excitement of our kids when I present them with something I’ve just made, or when I see them show something to their friends and proudly announce that their mom made it for them. Crafting is more than just a hobby for me. When you can do something that you love and that also brings happiness to someone else, that is the ultimate reward. There is something thrilling about seeing an idea come to life. Taking something that starts as the seed of an idea in my head or a new pattern in my hands, and watching it grow into a finished project that I can hold and see, is something that few people can say that they have experienced. The sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing the final creation keeps me motivated to move on to my next project.

Now that I’m an adult and a mother of my own, I get to share my gifts with my kids. It is my hope and belief that they feel the same sense of joy I do when they complete a really cool project. I’m happy to do my part in making sure that the passion for crafting stays alive with each passing generation. By sharing your passion for crafting with your children, you can help instill in them a love of art as well as an appreciation for making things oneself. Yes, it is easier to go to the store and buy what you want, but think about how much fun you could be missing out on. Think about how many opportunities there are to build these lasting memories with your kids.As I have done, I want my kids to look back one day and be grateful for the time that we spent together and the memories we created. That’s precious time that you can’t get back.
What kind of things were you taught as a child that you still do or want to pass down? I’d love to hear your stories

Until then, Stay random

The truth about modern falconry

I’m sitting outside today watching the hawks soar overhead. Seeing them makes me reflect fondly on some of the birds that I have had the pleasure to work with in the past.

So, what is falconry? N.A.F.A. says it best… 

Falconry can be defined as the taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor. This ancient art is a very demanding endeavor, requiring a serious dedication of time and energy from the falconer. On November 16, 2010 the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added falconry to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity.

To me, falconry is a way to have a relationship with a raptor and be permitted to interact with and help in its natural instinct to hunt.  In return for this incredible privilege, a falconer will help train the bird of prey to be a better hunter, will help improve the survival rate of these birds out in the wild, and raise awareness in order to get laws to be passed to protect their habitat and keep them healthy.

I love being a falconer! Being able to work with a bird of prey is amazing, as long as you remember they’re wild animals and never pets. While it takes time to build trust, your rewards are amazing! You’re an active part of the hunt, finding the game, flushing it out into the open then gathering the spoils of the hunt.

 So what does the hawk get out of the deal?

Longer life – 90% of the juvenile hawks die in their first year, and many hawks barely make it to 6 years of age in the wild. However, hawks kept as hunting partners can live 20 – 30 years.  And believe it or not, hawks aren’t hunting pros, so in the time spent with the hunter the hawk will be able to hone its skills while still being fed a proper diet and given medical treatment.

This season I will not be flying a new bird. Sad to say, but I have some other things to do this winter and hawking requires full time dedication. So until next season! (maybe with a new falcon)

Stay Random