Photography Tips & Tricks

Hi and Happy Friday! It's kind of weird not to have a Photography Friday post ready but that was a good journey I took myself on. I'm no pro at photography but I will tell you that after a year of having my DSLR, a year of practicing, a year of pinning like crazy and a year of studying I feel like I learned a great deal. 

I don't know about you but when I got my Canon Rebel I was super duper excited and also super intimidated. I had heard a lot of photography terminology: aperture, ISO, manual mode, shutter speed and lots of other secrets to being a great photographer. It was a bit overwhelming but I assure you, you can learn too! Today's post is to hopefully encourage anyone out there who is starting on their photography journey. If you are a great photographer, please comment and share some more tips with everyone. 

Learning Photography

1. Pinterest -  I'm telling you Pinterest was my bff. I pinned a ton of stuff and started reading all about shooting in manual mode. For a few months I didn't understand the lingo or grasp all the new concepts but I knew if I kept reading it would eventually click. Guess what? It finally did! I've tried to organize my Pinterest into several boards where they will be of use to others. 

Photography - Manual and Cameras - This board is to help you start understanding photography terminology as well as helping you grasp the basics of manual mode. 
Photography - Great Shots - This board is to fill you with ideas of different poses and to help get those creative juices flowing. 
Photography - iPhone & IG - I love taking pictures with my phone and this board is all about iPhone and Instagram.
Photography - Editing- This is my newest board as I am trying to learn Lightroom. I'm hoping to gain tips and tricks to better my editing skills. 

2. Classes - I snagged a class on Groupon for Flying Photo School. I took Digital 102 and this class got me shooting in manual mode! The video tutorials were short and sweet but also helped me grasp the concept. Everything you learn is available to print, which is a bonus! I highly recommend taking a class of some sort. It helped me stay accountable and really taught me manual mode. 

3. Click it up a Notch - I'll forever be grateful to Amanda for introducing me to this website. Click it up a Notch has practical and easy to understand tutorials. She is the first person that explained ISO to me where I understood it and she used bumble bees as an explanation. You can see that post here

Taking Photographs

1. Lighting - The main thing I learned through the last year and through my 20 week photography challenge is to get good lighting! I can't stress that enough. I used to take food pictures on my table under florescent lighting and I now haul a big white photography box over to my window and take pictures there. It has made a night and day difference. 

2. Practice - I know this an obvious one but really make time to practice. Go on a walk and take pictures. If you baked some killer good cookies take a few minutes and photograph them. Practice really does make perfect. 

3. Don't always shoot in manual - I know! If you are a photographer you probably want to jump through the screen and tell me how wrong I am. HOWEVER, when you are new to manual mode the last thing you want to miss is capturing a moment, and trust me, I've done it! Sometimes Dave and I would be hiking and I'd be too busy trying to fix my settings that I would miss something. Put it on auto and then if you have time go back to manual. 

4. Auto then manual - Sometimes it's just flat out difficult to get the great shot I want in manual mode. What do I do? Well, if I am in the mountains I turn my dial over to the 'landscape' setting, look through the view finder and see what the auto settings are. I'll snap a quick picture in auto and then go back to manual mode and try to replicate the settings I saw. Often times the auto mode gives me an idea of that one element I'm missing and I can then fix it in manual mode and my shots will turn out really good.

Here is where YOU come in! 
What helped you start on your photography journey? 
What tips do you have for someone starting out? 


Zero Dop Running Shoes – My transition & are they for you?

If someone would of told me a few years back that I’d be transitioning to a minimalist running shoe I would have quickly dismissed the idea entirely. I have been evaluated for running shoes and knew exactly which ones I needed, and trust me, minimalist shoes were never a suggestion by the running stores. However, that has all changed and today I wanted to answer some frequently asked questions as well as how I transitioned.

What are zero drop shoes?
"Zero Drop is simply a 1:1 ratio—meaning that the heel & forefoot are the same distance off the ground (there is no ‘drop’ from heel to toe). If your heel needed to be elevated off the ground above your toes, you would’ve been born this way!  Zero Drop takes the concept of a natural approach to running and eliminates the heel elevation in footwear." (source) Another great article defining zero drop can be found here.

Why run in zero drop / minmalist shoes?
People say minimalist shoes are like running barefoot. It strengthens your muscles and allows you to run real. To be honest, that is not the reason I switched over but I’ll address that further in the post. I will tell you that I feel stronger because of running in zero drop shoes. 

Why I switched to zero drop shoes?
The whole reason I switched over to zero drop shoes was because I started doing crossfit again. In crossfit you do a lot of movements that require you to be on your heels (think below parallel squats and a lot of lifting). Many running shoes are built to push you quickly from your heels to your toes, mimicking most runner’s form. Crossfit wasn’t impossible but it was harder to stay on my heels and so I purchased my first pair of minimal shoes.

What I purchased?
I purchased a NewBalance minimalist shoe with a vibram sole. The minute I tried them on they felt super duper amazing and almost like a house slipper! They were so comfortable! I'm sad to say I can't find that exact shoe anymore! If I did I'd buy another pair (or two). They do make similar ones that work well! I also love this shoes because the sides of the shoe tongue are attached so it stays in place. Having a shoe tongue slide to the side is a huge pet peeve of mine so having a shoe with one that stays in place is amazing!
How I switched?
Slowly! Switching to a minimalist shoe is a process. Because there isn’t a lot of cushion all those tiny muscles in your legs get a workout like they have never gotten before. Looking back I probably should have started much slower.

I began by wearing them to crossfit, which definitely worked all the small muscles! I then would wear them to hike with Dave and sometimes I would wear them when I ran errands. I’ll be completely honest and tell you my feet hurt and I thought something was wrong but, after a month or two, all those little muscles were stronger and it worked great for me.

From crossfit to running in zero drops
I never really planned to run in zero drops until that day when I put my running shoes back on and I felt weighted down. My feet felt so heavy and my shoes felt HUGE compared to my minimalist shoes. I randomly decided to throw on my NewBalance shoes and out the door I went … for a 4 mile run. I don’t recommend that at all! I have a sensitive spot on the left / back part of my heel now and I know it’s because I went out and killed 4 miles in a minimalist shoes. You need to do short runs to start out.

How to transition properly
Definitely not like I did!
If you are wanting to run in minimalist shoes I’d recommend the following:
-wear them around your house for an hour or two each day for a couple of weeks then
-run errands in them (you’ll actually be walking but you get my point) for a couple of weeks then
-run : when you feel ready to run in them start in small increments. Run .25 miles in them and then go back to your old shoes. Your muscles will still get a workout from those short runs. On your next run complete .50 miles in the minimalist shoe, then .75 and up. If your feet get too sore decrease your mileage until you feel ready. Basically you need to listen to your body. 

Who should run in minimalist shoes?
I'm not a doctor and this is solely my opinion. I think people who have been running a while  and who want a more ‘natural’ feel would be great candidates for running in a minimalist shoe. I don’t think zero drop shoes are for everyone. If you are just starting to run I’d recommend going to a running store and getting evaluated for a shoe that offers great support. Once you have a good base mileage built up then I think it would be great to transition. I also know some people have health issues and their doctors don’t recommend the zero drop (think severe knee issues). Make sure it is for you and be safe about your transition.

What I run in now?
After my ankle became sensitive I decided to look into lots of options for zero drop shoes. I still wanted a minimalist shoe but one that provided a little more support and a teeny bit of cushion. I ended up purchasing a pair of SKORA Forms and really enjoy them. The forms are the shoes I'm wearing in the picture at the top of this post. 

I’ll be doing a review on the SKORA shoes as well as offering a discount code next week! If you are thinking about buying a pair of minimalist shoes I highly recommend SKORA (+ you will get a discount). Also, If you are thinking about switching over to a minimalist shoe feel free to ask me any question, anytime! You can ask in the comments below or e-mail me as well.

Here are my questions for you:

-What are you thoughts on zero drop / minimalist running? I know people have a vast array of thoughts on it and I’d love to hear yours.
-What shoe do you run in and why?


Strawberry & Blueberry Yogurt Smoothies {+ A GIVEAWAY}

Today I want to share with you a quick and easy smoothie recipe. I don't normally drink milk or eat yogurt unless it is in cereal, a latte or a smoothie. When Stonyfield offered me some organic greek yogurt to try out I initially declined because I couldn't see myself eating a caramel yogurt. Stonfyfield assured me that they had a variety of flavors, even plain, which is what I usually get. I told them I'd give it a try and share my thoughts with you all.

When I went to the grocery store in Woodward (being the small town it is) they only had a few options, and they did not have plain yogurt. I grabbed the mixed fruit and blueberry yogurt and decided to give them a try. I even ate a spoonful of the blueberry yogurt before I put it in my smoothie and I'll have to admit it was pretty good. 

The smoothie was not only super good but super healthy too, which is always a plus! This smoothie recipe isn't as thick as normal smoothies. So, if you prefer it that way just omit the milk and add more berries and ice. 

1 container of blueberry greek yogurt (approximately 5oz.)
handful of strawberries
1/4 c. milk
1 T. honey
4-6 ice cubes

*blend it all until it's nice and smooth

Stonyfield has given me some coupons to share with you. Two readers will receive three Stonfyfield coupons for free yogurts. All you have to do is leave a comment via rafflecopter and you'll have a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is your favorite smoothie recipe? 


Life Lately #17

This was my last week babysitting sweet Isaac. Watching him this past year was an answer to prayer as I was looking for some work with purpose. I'll miss him but am thankful I'll see him this summer. 

My friends came to visit Woodward! I always love when people come to visit me and it makes me feel super loved. I took them out to visit my husbands job (he is a PA at a prison) and we had to stop and take some fun pictures about hitch hikers. We also had coffee with whipped cream, quiche and good laughs. 

We travel to Wichita just about every weekend. I always love it when my brother-in-law lures my husband into cooking us dinner. It's fun! We had gourmet breakfast burritos and they were delish!

Dave and I took Static and went to a local park in Wichita. We walked a bunch and it felt good to just be outdoors. 

Smoothies! I've had green, pink and orange smoothies. Stay tuned because tomorrow I'm sharing a really good recipe and I'll have some free coupons for yogurt. 

Dave, Ryan, Static and I are in Colorado today at the Great Sand Dunes. Sometimes the mountains just call my name. There is something majestic and peaceful about seeing 14,000 foot tall mountains and sleeping under the stars. I'll be sharing pictures via instagram and would love to have you follow along.

I'm offering a 25% discount on all my advertising packages through TODAY. June is going to be a great month on this blog and I'd love to get to know you more and help you grow your blog.

I'm still reading through Proverbs. It's been good. What are you studying from the Word lately? 

I hope you each are having a great Memorial Day weekend! 
What are your plans for this weekend? 


Photography Friday Week 20 - My Hometown: Wichita, Kansas

WEEK 20! I can hardly believe 20 weeks have gone by! I just want to say a huge THANKS if you have read my posts, commented, and linked up. Also I really appreciate the great feedback and suggestions on my photos. I can definitely tell that it has helped me in my photography journey. This is the first photography post where I used Lightroom to edit. I'm still learning but am enjoying it so far. 

Wichita. Kansas. When I hear those two words my heart gets the instant ‘home’ feeling. Wichita is where I lived a majority of my life. It’s where my parents are. It’s where my sister, granny, nephew and many other family members reside. It’s where Dave and I met … at the age of 9. It’s where I have so many fond memories. It’s where I travel home to most weekends. It’s home!

Today I’m so happy to share with you some pictures from my hometown. I even got up at 6:30am one weekend to take these pictures and it was wonderful, probably my most favorite photo shoot yet! The morning was quiet, there weren’t lots of people out and I, of course, ended up at a coffee shop where I had some good java and spent some time in the Word.

This first group of pictures were taken downtown. If you want more history on the Keeper of the Plains check it out here

College Hill - My favorite area of Wichita

If you are looking for some amazing coffee in the Wichita are you need to head over to Reverie Coffee Roasters. They roast their beans in house and can really make a delicious cup of coffee. I normally put a lot of sugar in my lattes but these are so good I only add a teeny bit. Another great thing about Reveries is that they have a pay it forward board. You pay for a coffee of your choice, the barista will write it on a coffee sleeve and then pin it to a board. Anyone can come in and take a free coffee off the board. If you are in the Wichita area you need to go visit! 

Where is home for you? 
What is your hometown like?
Do you have a favorite picture from my post? Any suggestions? recommendations?

If you have a photography post ready please put it in the comment section and I'll stop by and see your lovely photos.

                                               Sunshine to the Square Inch

PS  - I'm offering 25% off all advertisements through the weekend! wahoo! Use code WEEKEND. 


Spinach - Recipes to help incoorporate more greens

When I read that spinach was the ingredient for cooks in the kitchen I got super excited! I love spinach. In fact I love most greens and I also love vegetables more than fruit! I don’t know if the cooks in the spinach (ha ha! I automatically wrote spinach instead of kitchen and I'm leaving it) really got into my head or what but I’m telling ya Dave and I have had a lot of spinach lately.

There is no way in the land of spinach that I could just give you one recipe. So, I’m giving you several! Don’t worry. They are short and sweet.  Some are borrowed recipes and some I just threw together with ingredients I had in my kitchen. Oh and you should know, I’m not one to measure. If you think a recipe sounds like it needs more bacon than what I added, then heck, add more bacon and so on and so forth.

spinach recipes

This okra is sooooo good! I’ve made a couple ginormous bowls and eaten it for lunch! Plus you get a ton of greens and vegetables in your diet! Do you like okra?

ingredients¼ onion diced | 3  diced green onions | 4 pieces of bacon chopped | 1 ½ c. sliced okra |          2 handfuls of spinach
directions: cook bacon on medium-low heat until almost done | add diced onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes | add okra, add green onion and sauté for 5 minutes | add the spinach and stir for 1 minutes | the spinach will cook very quickly

If I'm going to eat a salad I usually load it with a ton of spinach. Spinach salads are so tasty because you really can just add whatever tasty ingredients sound good to you. I'll also tell you that if you add some tender meat and/or fruit to your salad you won't need dressing. It's that good! What's your favorite salad? 

ingredients: spinach | chicken | strawberries | almonds | minced onion
                      spinach | chicken | tomatoes | lentils
                      spinach | chicken | avocadoes | black beans | tomatoes | cilantro | lime
                      spinach | chicken | mangoes 
ingreidents (for the chicken):  ½ onion diced | 1 garlic clove minced | 2 chicken breasts | 1 ½  c. chicken broth or stock
directions (for the chicken): heat some oil in a pan on medium low and add the diced onions and garlic | sauté for a few minutes and then add the chicken and let it brown | add 1/4 c. chicken broth/stock and let it simmer down to a nice golden brown | repeat the browning and broth process until the chicken is super tender | shred chicken


My good friend Kirsten told me about green smoothies and I always cringed at the idea of putting spinach into my smoothie until I actually gave it a try. Green smoothies are delicious! A secret to smoothies is to freeze your fruit before hand. That way it's nice and cold and you won't have to add ice. 

ingredients: 1 banana | ½ c. pineapple | 2T. greek yogurt | 1 c. orange juice | a splash of coconut water | 2 handfuls of spinach
directions: blend and chug it down

If you are making a quiche throw a couple handfuls of spinach. You can’t really taste it and it’s an added health benefit.

ingredients: pie crust | 8 eggs | 4 pieces of cooked bacon | green onion | shredded cheese | 3 handfuls of spinach | splash of heavy whipping cream
directions: place pie crust in pie dish | in a separate bowl whip together your eggs and cream and set aside | put spinach, bacon, green onion and cheese inside crust | pour egg mixture over | bake at 375 for approximately 30 minutes or until done. 

I made this kale citrus salad from the Pioneer Woman. I thought it was pretty good but I’m sad to say my husband didn’t love it. It’s full of kale and spinach and everything wonderful but apparently not everyone can eat raw kale and love it like I do. I never knew! If you try this recipe I’d go light on the jalapeño. Our mouths were on FIRE. 

Oh and lastly I asked my FB friends what their favorite spinach recipes were and I got a ton of awesome recipes so I'm passing them on:
spinach, feta & mushroom quiche | chicken and spinach stuffed shells | spinach with lemon and butter | creamy spinach soup | spinach quesadillas | spinach and egg muffins | ground beef, spinach, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese mixed together and stuffed into large shells with pasta sauce poured over the top | spinach frittata | spinach omelets with cheese | lentils folded into yogurt, spinach and basil | 

That did not end up being short and sweet like I promised but that's ok! I loved writing all those recipes out and I hope you try some of them out.

What's your favorite dish with spinach? 
Do you like spinach?
Do you love greens? 

Linking up today with Elah Tree for Cooks in the Kitchen and with Nicole for Treat Yo Self