not many hours

There really aren’t enough hours in the day!  So many things I want to do these days… shoot pictures, edit pictures, crochet, cross stitch, scrapbook, write a book, even play games, ha.  I don’t want to clean, but I have to make time for that, too.  And cooking.  I really don’t like to cook, either.  Then there’s the house we’re building, geez that’s a big job.  It’s really kinda getting to get old, honestly.  I know many other people have worked for years on a house so really we are doing pretty good but it’s really got us in a limbo.  Everything is so stressful because when I look around here, I get so overwhelmed.  Packing just really stresses me out.  I’m sure we’ll get through it just fine but just the thought of starting to pack stuff up just makes me want to crawl in a hole and pull it in after me.

I’m just not cut out for long term stress, I think.  Good thing I don’t have to plan any weddings these days.  I can handle other people’s weddings.  I’ll stress about them for about a week before and then during and maybe a bit after but I couldn’t handle six months to a year worrying about it!  Plus things are always harder when you have to factor in an unknown…

speaking of weddings…

Speaking of weddings, I am a wedding photographer.  I am a portrait photographer.  I am a photographer.

It has taken me a long time to actually say that.

I am a photographer.

For so long, when someone would ask me what I did, I would hesitate and beat around the bush.  I didn’t feel like I could say, “I’m a photographer,” and when I did, I felt really stupid saying it.  Like they would think, “oh a likely story,” or something similar.  I didn’t write down anything for “occupation” on medical forms or anything else I had to fill out, either.

My “likely story” probably goes like all others: first camera (110 film) when I was six, always the one with the 35mm film camera in high school, first real SLR later followed by crappy digital camera after crappy digital camera until I could finally get my first dSLR.  From there, “the rest is history” – learning and more learning, doing and more doing, and on until we get to the point where people started asking me to take pictures of their families, for pay, and I photographed my brother’s wedding in film.

But I wasn’t “a photographer.”

The story continues, people started asking me to photograph weddings and I did them, not really knowing what I was getting into, but loving it.  First a friend of a friend, then a sister-in-law, another sister-in-law, and yet another sister-in-law… I recruited a friend for the last two to second shoot and things went well so we started a business… not knowing what we were doing.  I trusted her and her “business degree” to take care of things on that end but boy, did I get screwed instead: three years later, I was guarding myself from being unjustifiably sued by her as I was only trying to get out of the “business.”

But I still wasn’t “a photographer.”

Even during that time when we had a business together, I felt strange telling people that was what I “did.”  Something about it never felt right, even though “we” – I – had lots of work and at times were/was very busy.  The professionalism just wasn’t there.  People would make comments at times about my partner, both on technical and professional aspects and I just felt like that took me down as well.

After I left, I didn’t intend to start my own business right away, I felt like I had some business-learning to do.  But in the time that I was already leaving my previous business, people were still soliciting me for work and I needed work.  So I had to take a crash course in business.

Only now, doing the business end correctly and finally being able to find my own style and make my own decisions, do I feel like a “real” photographer.

I feel like a photographer when I look over my photos and feel like it’s a job well done.

I feel like a photographer when I discover something new (to me) and can learn and explore that all at my own pace without having to teach someone else who won’t really take it to heart or give me crap because I upgraded some equipment.

I feel like a photographer when a mother of the bride tells me that my photos brought her to tears.

I feel like a photographer when I can make my own business decisions for myself.

I feel like a photographer every time a bride and groom – some of whom I’d only met for the first time hours before – hug me as I give my good-byes before leaving the reception.

I feel like a photographer when a dad tells me “the photos were freaking awesome” and that he wants to purchase all of the high-res digital images.

This is what I do, this is who I am.

I am a photographer.


Today is our 15th wedding anniversary.

Yes, I am that old.

Everyone tells me I am not “old” but my body does not believe them in the mornings.  I digress.

I got married “young,” my friend K, who I have known for about 14 of these 15 years, says, “we were just babies.”  She got married a week shy of a year after us.  She and our other friend C have only known me as a married person.  In just 3 years, I will have been married for half my life.


And I wouldn’t change it.

Life hasn’t always been smooth sailing – really, if it is, you probably got problems.  Emotional ones.  Maybe mental.  Something.  Life happens, it has problems, that’s the way it is.  What’s that saying though?  Something about knowing you’re alive because of pain?  Or maybe it’s something about not knowing things are good unless you’ve experienced bad.  Who knows.  Who cares?  Point is, we’re still together and I don’t see an end.  I just really don’t.

Today we remember, tomorrow we will celebrate.  You know, when he has the day off work and all that jazz.  Because in 15 years, you also learn that it’s simply a marker, it is not a holy day we must worship.  Heck, about 3 years ago, we both totally forgot it was our anniversary until we were sitting there veggin’ in front of the TV and looked at one another and said, “did we forget something today?”  And that’s kind of really funny considering once when I was in the 2nd grade and my mom was washing my hair, I said, “wouldn’t it be cool to get married in the year 2000? You’d never forget how long you had been married.”  Mom informed me, “no, you never forget how long you’ve been married.” Well, Mom was wrong (just this one time, of course) because I rely on the year to remind me sometimes! I guess time flies when you’re having fun.

So tomorrow, we’ll have some fun and put it on the credit card.

Because, you know, I do love that man.  I couldn’t ask for better.


I had to visit the laundromat for the first time today.  Granted, I’ve been in them before.  You know, I scoped one out for a photo shoot, I had a photo shoot in it later, and I walked through the one in town before to visit the dry cleaners… that one time…

I have a whole new respect for people who have to do this junk on a daily basis.  Let’s just say this was not a happy, happy, joy, joy, ultimate, super, fun time by any means.  I have been blessed to have a washer and dryer set at home that are not only each as old as dirt, but I have a great guy who can fix them when they’re broken.  When I say “old as dirt,” I mean it, too.  We are one day away from being married for 15 years and we bought the set used for $150 when we got married. They were old then.  Actually, we’re on our second washer, a couple of years ago we bought a used one of the same type when ours finally bit the big one… only this one is even older.

But we’re really busy right now, so my darling one wasn’t able to look at the dryer – though it turned out he knew the problem without even looking at it, yes, be astounded.  So there was lots of laundry on the basement floor waiting to be washed, including the load of towels that was in the dryer for two days, just hoping to eventually dry.  The stupid thing just wasn’t getting hot, I hoped that letting them roll around in there for 48 hours would eventually do the trick.  Nope, just wasted electricity.

So in the morning I trekked it out.  I told the kids to fill two baskets with clothing items to wash and, “only a couple of towels, not more than that.”  I checked over the baskets and saw only clothing… until we got there and it turned out I had a whole basket’s worth of towels AND a soaking wet quilt.

Did I mention that we’ve also gotten tons of rain lately?  So much that our basement leaked so stuff was already wet.  How rude.

Also rude: children who do not listen to a danged thing you say.

Further rude: I forgot our laundry soap.

Extremely rude: I had hoped I could do two baskets worth for $4.  Right.  Lofty dreams, y’all!

I ended up cashing in a $20 that came from a Vera Bradley purse I sold the other day.  Sigh, that was supposed to be mad money!  Then I had children whining they wanted to play games, they wanted snacks, and I was just such a generous mom for sharing my quarters.  Little punks.  The one really knows how to be sarcastic… in a really mean way, too.

So five million quarters later, I managed to wash two loads of clothing and only a couple of towels – I made Kid 1 take the other basket full of wet towels and the quilt back to the car.  No way I was washing his blanket on my quarters after the way he acted!  I managed to dry them.  I managed to go nuts telling the kids to shut up, stop running, don’t play with the carts, quit fighting, stop climbing on the pinball machine, no you’re not getting a treat you ingrate, because you don’t know how to behave…

In the end, thank God my man was able to go out on his lunch break and buy the part for the dryer and install it tonight.  I have clothes in there I have to go check on now.

If I ever see the inside of another laundromat again… well, it had better be for a photo session!

Hello world!

blah, blah, blah.

This is now Val’s world, it’s party time. Excellent.


I was looking for some files on a computer and came across some really old stuff. We’re talking files from 2006 and 2007 that I thought I had deleted long ago. So long that I didn’t even know what the folder name meant. They served their purpose at the time and it’s been many years since I thought about the people they were about. I had to look up my scrapbook files to find this out, even, apparently it’s been almost 3 years since I thought of these people when I could swear that I saw one of them, in New Orleans in the same hotel we were staying at. If it wasn’t him, it had to be his identical twin – the guy even acted like he was trying to avoid being seen by us, he was clearly uncomfortable but by the time I did my double-take, he was gone. As a side note, that also means it’s been almost 3 years since I scrapbooked anything. I miss scrapbooking.

Opening that first unknown file brought back all the memories. I remember these two people and their friends, who a couple of months later I realized were actually fake personas, being very nasty to me, and going through these files confirmed what I remember as truth. They said some very horrible and untrue things to and about me “behind my back,” and not just me but others in my life, including young innocent children. Things that were made to appear as if they were in self defense of horrible things I had supposedly done (which, of course, I hadn’t). What kind of person does that?

Maybe it’s just me, but the good people in my life – my husband, my parents, etc. – they have always known when someone is toxic before I have. It was no different for these people. If you’re ever unsure what to think of someone, just ask your closest friends and family, someone near to you who doesn’t have a bias. It’s like that nonsense I had with my ex business partner about 2 years ago, everyone knew what a toxic person she was before I did but it wasn’t until things were over that most people started saying anything. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re out of that, she was nuts.” I couldn’t fit to count on my two hands how much I heard that in those coming months. Likewise, my husband knew how toxic this couple was and he was hesitant to spend time with them, but he did it for me.

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, because it is so true.

Alone tonight with my thoughts and I miss what we had before the fallouts. We had so much in common, but having things in common isn’t enough to sustain a friendship. You have to both be, oh I don’t know, sane? It’s hard to maintain a friendship with someone who is completely self-centered, it just won’t last. In the end, those things always die off.

Yes, I did my passive aggressive part. Sure, it was the truth, but sometimes the truth doesn’t need to be put out there, sometimes we should keep it to ourselves. And even if you delete it later, it was still out there. That’s the only thing I did that I regret.

Maybe some day we’ll run into each other and maybe things will be different. Of course, the chances of that are nil but it’s nice to think about… sometimes… rarely… when you find files you thought you deleted. :D

amazon echo

Ok so I love tech-y stuff but I’m not usually one to jump on bandwagons and go out and purchase the brand new thing. But Amazon knows me too well and I guess I’m just that awesome of a customer since I’d rather purchase stuff there on my Prime membership than get my butt and the kids and whatever out in the cold or heat and endure Walmart. But I digress. Anyway, some time ago I had an invitation to give the Amazon Echo a try and being a Prime member I only paid $99. I kinda forgot about it because it was some sort of pre-order thing but it came today (though if I recall, it’s even earlier than the date it said it would be). I had thought that something like this would be perfect for the main room in the house we are building though we’re not in it yet, I figured why not hook it up and give it a try?

This thing is awesome!

It was so easy to set up, I just had to take a few seconds to get the app on my phone and install it then pretty much just put in my wi-fi password. The phone found the Echo with it only having power, no buttons to push or anything.

I thought I’d try it out with a few questions and it was spot on and quick. The voice even sounds more human than my Google phone or Siri does. I asked it, “Alexa, when is sunset on January 18?” (This after trying, “when is sunset tonight?”) Echo answered that sunset on Sunday, January 18, 2015 is at 503pm. The photographer in me is going to use that A LOT.

We’ve done “Alexa, tell me a joke” a few times and it’s delivered a few funny one-liners.

Then I said, “Alexa, play me some Elvis Presley,” and I was in heaven…

Opening the app on my phone again showed me the last thing I said to it and it asked me if it heard me correctly (it had). This is something my Google phone would be wise to take note of. Ahem.

Only thing I’ve had to do so far was to change my zip code in the settings of the app. We’re usually incorrectly tagged as the one Echo had grabbed, probably from cell towers??

It sounds great, I can’t wait to have it in the new house.

six months gone

Today marked the 6th month anniversary of her disappearance. I still can’t believe it. It’s still so unreal, it’s not really happening. I’ve had to turn off a lot of emotions or I’d be losing it all the time. K still points out her picture in the missing posters when she sees one. Sometimes she gets excited as if it means they found her. K doesn’t understand, but how can you expect a 5 year old to comprehend this when adults don’t get it either? I’ve even had little mini arguments about this with her – there’s a few ladies at church who have the same hair color and sometimes K insists that it’s her. I don’t like breaking the heart of a kid but we also can’t have her thinking these ladies are her, she was addressing one as such and that breaks everyone’s heart.

And the nasty people are still out there. I don’t understand why the internet makes people think that they can just say whatever they want to, no matter who they might hurt. These jerks don’t know the family or the friends yet they speak as if the ideas they have formed in their twisted little heads are true. They don’t see the husband losing too much weight because he’s still too upset to eat, having aged an extra 10 years. They don’t see friends who are holding back the tears because her name has popped into their heads for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t see that by trying to hurt the person they are assuming is guilty, they are hurting hundreds of other people, too. Nah, who am I kidding? Sure they see that. They just don’t care.

Maybe this is why I woke up ill today. I couldn’t face the day. I slept it away.

Six months.

I just can’t.

my tips for Jamberry Nails

JamberryYes, I know in the last post I said MLMs must die, and I totally meant that. However, I bought some of these Jamberry Nail stickers to support my friend who was getting started and it turned out that I actually really like them. (Though I must apologize for the crappy pictures, just because I’m a photographer doesn’t mean I’m above using my cell phone in a dark room at night and throwing everything into a quick collage.)

I always liked to paint my nails but was never any good at it. Like seriously, my right hand would look like a 2 year old painted it. And I’d always chip my polish within 12 hours. Even the one time I had a manicure done, for my wedding, it was starting to look crappy by the ceremony. So I just never did it, if my nails were ever painted, it was for something special and because someone else did it for me.

Fast forward to earlier this year when my friend joined Jamberry. I’d heard of it before but had just brushed it off but since it was my friend, I decided to give it a try. I love these things now – if you do it right, you’ll have nice pretty nails for about 2 weeks and as long as you remove them right, you won’t have torn up nails afterward (that was actually a lesson I learned the hard way). So here are my tips for getting these things on your nails…

You’ll need:

Jamberry stickers (duh)
Rubbing alcohol
Q-tip or cotton balls
Scotch tape
Pen that can write on tape
Nail scissors
Nail clippers
Cuticle pusher
Hair dryer or other quick heat source

I know, it totally sounds like a lot of stuff, and it is. I think it’s more than they tell you that you need in the directions, but I promise, the extra time is worth the results.

So first things first, clean hands, clean nails. What I do next is cut off 1/4 of my sticker sheet. This works for me perfectly, unless I mess one up and have to throw it away, because I only do 9 nails. “Whyever for,” you ask in horror. Because I’m a terror on these nails, remember? I’m right handed and my right pointer finger is always busted down as far as it can be busted. Split, uneven, whatever. I’m rough on it so it never can recover and therefore, I paint that nail to match and, of course, every few days I gotta do it again. But I’m getting somewhat good at painting that one nail, I have to tell ya. Anyway, so I will get 4 uses out of a whole sheet if I don’t make any major mistakes (because I refuse to do my toes, but that’s another story).

Now for the nitty gritty. I’m, like, totally OCD about this. When I first tried the Jamberry, they didn’t fit my nails, like, at all, (you can probably tell from the image which time was my first) and I ended up ripping them off a week later. Remember, DO NOT DO THAT. Learn from my mistake, people. But I learned something… Now if they fit your nails at the nail bed, that’s great, but mine are more square than rounded, so it results in lots of trimming. The easiest way to do this is to take a piece of the Scotch tape and put it over your nail. Trace on the inside with the pen (of course) to mark the outer edge of your nail. You don’t have to be real stringent on this but get it somewhat right, ok? Gently remove tape, especially if you have managed to find the ultra industrial never leaving your finger it’s so sticky tape. But do you see where I’m going with this? That’s right, now put the tape on the back of the Jamberry sheet with the outline of your nail inside one of the stickers, line it up the best you can. Now push back your cuticles a bit with your pusher, shape them all pretty-like.

Oh, and while we’re here, results with patterns like this are not guaranteed. I personally haven’t tried them. I prefer stripes and chevrons (omg, chevron, squee) and polka dots, etc. aka REPEATING patterns. If I tried this with a design like that or this one, I’d probably end up losing too much of the design to make it pretty. However, this one should be ok (and I’d really like to get it in the near future).

And I just totally LOL-ed now that I realized all of the pics I used have Chevron nails. I swear that’s not all I wear!! Anyway, back to the post…

Now that you’ve got your tape on your sheet, cut out the nail sticker following the inside of your lines. This is important. It will make the sticker slightly smaller than you measured your nail. You don’t want them on your skin or getting skin oils, peeling them up before you’re ready. I often use my tweezers to do the peeling apart of sticker and backing but sometimes it doesn’t work and I have to use a fingernail, but don’t be touching all over your sticker, mkay?

You also need to rub some alcohol on your nail. Do this either before or after you peel the sticker, do it only each nail at a time, do not do all of them then do all of the stickers. I learned that the hard way, too. The alcohol is basically taking all of the oils from your nail that might stop the Jam from sticking well. If you do it too early, well they just won’t stick as well. Or at least I have had the best results when doing them one at a time. This will also remove all the sticky from your fingernail left by that dollar store tape.

Now holding your Jam in your tweezers, put it in the path of the hair dryer on hot for about 5-8 seconds. Then, making sure the alcohol has dried on your nail, put the sticker on. Especially with my larger nails, I find it easiest to match the bottom center of the sticker to the bottom center of my nail and stick there, gently bringing it down towards the end of the nail. Then, after removing the tweezers, pressing at center then sliding my finger to either side to press those.

Then, assuming the sticker is in place where you want it, press as hard as your finger will let you without screams of pain. Seriously, press hard and hold. When you can’t take that any longer, apply some more hair dryer heat then press again. Sometimes I mess up a bit on my measurements. If you’re too long on the sides, just be sure to trim those with the nail scissors before applying that serious pressure and heat.

Chances are your sticker is too long for your nail. Oh, did I mention that you should not trim nails before starting? Well, I’m telling you now. Now that you’ve gotten this far, trim your nail to how you would like it. This isn’t a required step, of course, but I find that it works best for me. I will usually trim the Jam first as it sticks off my fingernail then later go back and trim all nails when I’m done. I find that they stick better this way. Then, after trimming your nail, file down. Sweep the file at an angle, moving from your hand toward the tip of your finger as you move forward. Imagine it on a microscopic level. You want that Jam to be slightly slightly shorter than your nail. If they’re absolutely even or, heaven forbid, the Jam is longer than your nail, you’re going to have a better chance of catching it on something and starting a peel off.

The ones I am wearing now, I have had on for over a week, probably 8 or even 9 days now (about the time I started this bloody post) and none of them are peeling on me at all. I do have a little bubble on the tip of my left thumb… I always have a little bubble in this same spot on my same thumb, I honestly can’t figure that one out. But it’s so small, it’s really unnoticeable and it’s not caused any problems.

SO at this point, if you want to, you could apply more heat and/or pressure, you know, if you’re not confident in your skillz.

I think that’s it. Just remember to follow directions for removal. Something I’ll do in another week or so. My last several applications have honestly been removed not because they were coming up or ripping or curling or anything, but because either 1. my nails grew out enough that it annoyed me, and 2. I just plain got sick of seeing whatever it was on my nails. I even helped my husband build a portable recycled wood wall for my photography business today, not a scratch. I might have some serious dirt under my nails but the Jams are still going strong! I also have to manually wash dishes in this house (gag). You get the drift.

Have fun, ladies!!

this MLM stuff has GOT to stop

You know, MLM – Multi-level Marketing. Those legal pyramid schemes where you sell things to the consumer and move up in the company not only by doing this but moreso by recruiting other people to sell, so then the salesperson makes money off the consumer and those “under” them in the company. And the real ones winning are those at the very top.


Tupperware, Avon, Mary Kay, Origami Owl, Premiere Jewelry, Pampered Chef, Jewelry in Candles, Jamberry, In a Pickle, Pink Zebra, Nu Skin, ViSalus, Amway, Herbalife, Candle lite, Thirty-One Gifts, Discovery Toys, Juice Plus, DoTerra Oils, Usborn, Scentsy, Rodan Fields, Perfectly Posh, Younique…

And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head!

Yes, I admit to selling Origami Owl but I gotta tell you, I did two parties – my sister and my cousin – and then really sold nothing else. I got into it over 2 years ago to be able to buy gifts wholesale. At the end of the year they will be kicking me out for inactivity. I haven’t sold anything to anyone besides myself since last Christmas, a year or almost a year ago now. I never pushed it on my friends – in the beginning I posted a little bit but I’ve always been a horrible salesperson so my attitude was, “don’t want it, ok no problem, doesn’t bother me!”

I’ve also promoted, however slightly, a few friends in their ventures. Yes you can make money at it, if you got the go and know how. That was not me.

But I gotta tell you, these are driving me stinking insane.

A couple of weeks ago I did a little school fair, promoting my photography. We were in the gym, most of us and out of about 20 vendors, only 3 of us were not MLM. No joke. There were even three MLM companies represented that were new to me and I can’t remember the company names so they did not make the list above! Two were jewelry and one was home decor. The other companies in the gym with me that were not MLM were a young woman making cross bracelets (she did the most business of anyone) and an older couple selling handmade doll clothing.

And it’s not just things like that but the parties, omg the parties. They do not stop! I will be invited to a home party on a weekly basis, NO JOKE. And most invites are on Facebook only – probably 90% which means I only get a paper invite for 10% of home parties. AND then there’s the ONLINE only parties, I will be invited to at least two of those a week on Facebook, this is not an exaggeration.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not made of money. I am getting to the point where I am going to put people on the so handy Facebook list for “ignore all event invites.” Some of these people do not get it and I don’t say anything because they are my friends and acquaintances but no, I do not want to be invited to all of the online parties you do three times a week for cheap crap you sell expensively. And I feel weird declining online only parties – those usually last at least 5-7 days so it’s not like you can be like, ohhh that’s at the same time as blah blah blah, sorry I can’t make it. Declining week long events kinda makes me feel like I’m being a jerk. I rarely go to the home parties, usually only if a close friend or family member is holding them though to be honest, most of the time I’m actually truly and honestly busy. They’re never on convenient days/times for me.

It’s just really gone way beyond what is acceptable here. And most of them are not truly a unique product that you can’t get elsewhere. There are other make ups, toys, false lashes, purses, candles, essential oils, jewelry, nail wraps, plastic containers, etc., that you can get elsewhere and for a lot cheaper, so it’s really hard to justify a purchase unless I see something that I just can’t find anywhere else and that, of course, I “can’t” live without – or can give to someone else who can’t live without it.

Ahhhhhh the madness, I tell you, the madness!!