New York Here I come!

This Shalom Peace Scrabble tile pendant from Poem Weave Designs is similar to the one I got my niece for her Bat Mitzvah. She has lots of unique Hebrew pieces and cards on her Etsy shop.

So the planning is done and the packing is almost completed too. I really hope this trip isn't cursed. So far it's been one problem after another, mostly of my husband's making. So I'm hoping that once I leave him behind and head into the city on my own the luck will turn.

Mike insisted he had to come back for the last day of school, which is just a half day of turning in grades and cleaning up his classroom. So he had to change his ticket since I'd already bought them before the last snow day. That was the only detail I left to him and boy did he screw it up royally. When he changed his return flight he actually canceled the departure flight and made it a one way ticket. I thought that they had really gauged us on the change fee but I didn't question it much.

Well, last night we were doing the on-line check in and we couldn't find any record of his ticket today since he had accidentally canceled it. They charged us another $275 for a ticket that we had already bought once. So for him to be there for less than 48 hours it's costing us almost $800 in tickets and fees. He has lodged a complaint that it shouldn't have been that easy for him to mess things up and that he was given no warning that he was canceling the flight but I doubt it will do a bit of good. Needless to say we will never be flying Continental again.

When I called my mom all upset she said, "Oh Paige you should know better. You never let them do anything important." She did teach me better I know but trust me it won't ever happen again. We have put it behind us and after 15 minutes of yelling and slamming doors we had moved on. That's the good thing about Mike and I. We really don't stay mad for long.

So send some positive energy my way as I try to move past my husband's silliness and enjoy my solo adventures.



A few months ago I bought a Groupon for a photography workshop from The St. Louis Photo Authority. I redeemed it this weekend for a 3 hour walking workshop called Cityscapes in downtown St. Louis. It was me and one other guy who was having back troubles so for the last half I had the full attention of two professional photographers. It was pretty amazing. After we walked and shot for over 2 hours we went to a coffee shot and they critiqued my work and answered all my questions.

The top shot is one I liked a lot. I set an artistic filter in Elements and then there is the original. You can see the old courthouse and the arch in the background but the focal point is the flower.

Edward Crim does mostly commercial and architectural work now, and his partner Don Love specializes in portrait photography. He told me the story of how he did his first wedding when he was 14 years old. I couldn't have asked for two better resources. Edward is starting a meetup to do walking tours once a month around the city. This will allow me to learn more from him for $10 a year, and I plan on taking Don's portrait workshop in his studio which will be a great learning experience.

I took the class because I thought it would help me be better prepared for my trip to New York City which it definitely did. I think the most important thing I took out of the class is the need to slow down and think more about my shots. I tend to shoot hundreds of shots and hope that a few good ones pop. It works for the most part but that means I have to wade through thousands of images and my work flow is getting out of control. Edward explained how he handles his work flow in Aperture on Apple and also showed me how to use Lightroom from Adobe, which I will definitely be investing in.

The biggest critique they had for me dealt with camera shake. Because I am constantly moving towards the next shot this is a real problem. As an amateur it's not a problem but if I want to sell my work it is an issue. Of course I need to get into the habit of bringing my tripod with me but that's not always realistic for me so I need to slow down and focus more.

They also got me thinking about exposure a lot more. If I want to go entirely manual I will need to learn to trust myself to set the exposure and not just take the camera's opinion. I'm going to experiment with a grey card and see if I'm able to figure it out. They also encouraged me to take the black and white photography class I was talking about as it will teach me about exposure and lightening as much if not more than a digital class.
This one was my favorite shot during the 15 minutes we had of good light.

This was their favorite shot of mine. It's of one statue through another statue at the City Gardens. There were about 3 of my shots that they actually said, "I missed that" which made me feel good. Here is their gear which they were dragging through the city. I definitely had lens envy. Especially the lens on the black tripod. It was 400 mm and you could literally see every detail through the viewfinder with crystal clarity.

I will probably be keeping my 55-250mm on my camera most of the time in the city. I would have relied more on my 18-87 mm if I hadn't gone to the class but after looking at my pictures with both I think the telephoto will be best for architecture. I will also have my lensbaby handy to try to get the unique perspective it gives. I'm not putting any pressure on myself for getting the perfect shot. I just want some nice picures that I can blow up to put on my walls.


The Obsessive Crocheter

A friend from work showed me this article in New York Magazine this month. Agata Oleksiak, the obsessive crocheter, essentially covered her entire apartment in crochet cozies. I don't know quite how she sleeps in that room since it kind of makes your eyes bleed but I love it. It is actually installed at the ­Christopher Henry Gallery in Nolita until May 28. I'm so disappointed since I will be in that neighborhood next week a few days after that. I would have loved to have seen it with my own eyes.I think I would like Olek. This is a quote from the article:
The gallery’s assistant director, ­Jason LeBlond, confirms what you might have speculated about Olek, who is rarely spotted not wearing a crocheted cardigan or collar: “There is no separation between her art and her life.”



I've been thinking a lot about where my photography journey is taking me lately. As I've gotten more and more into photography I've been spending less and less time knitting and getting ready for craft shows. I don't know why I can't do both but I have a hard time being super passionate about more than one thing at a time. I will start focusing on building up my scarf inventory so that I can do at least a few shows this fall after I finish the baby blanket I'm working on for a colleague. But it just doesn't hold the same thrill that it did in the beginning.

I really wish that I could find a photography mentor to help me explore my options and learn some new skills. A student I was working with a few months ago put the idea into my head. He said that he had been lucky to have a mentor that helped him along his photography path. I was almost hoping that he would offer to help me but in my professional capacity I can''t approach him myself. I am thinking about joining the St. Louis Camera Club and will try to make it to some of their workshops. Perhaps I can meet someone there who could take me under their wing.

I'm also thinking about taking a real class here at the college but unfortunately the only one I could do in the Fall is for Black and White Photography using 35mm. This could be fun too but I don't know how practical it would be in this digital age.

I really enjoy doing portraits as you can see from the above shots of my nieces. I have no formal training but I've read a lot of books and taken a beginning photography workshop which helped me learn about composition. I really need to learn more about lighting and photoshop as well as upgrade my equipment before I could actually charge anyone for portrait work but it is something I'm thinking about in the back of my mind.

We have a screened in porch that is rarely used which I could convert into a studio if I decide to go in that direction as well as plenty of parks that I could use for natural light work in the area. I really don't think I will be quiting my job anytime soon but if I could make some money on the side doing something I love how cool would that be?


Tip of the Hat!

A month or so ago the girls had a very quick trip to the farm for Spring Break. I got to see them for a few hours. I had just gotten my new favorite lens, the Lensbaby 2.0 that week. I got it on e-bay for a only $50 which was a great deal. I really want the Composer but it cost more like $250 so I had to be satisfied with the older model for now.

The lensbaby gives that cool bokah effect with a sharp sweet spot, which is manually set with the lens. You squeeze the lens until you get the sweet spot where you want it. The nice thing about the composer is that you can lock the lens in place instead of holding it there while you shoot. It definitely has a learning curve which is why these relatively good shots I got the first time I shot with it are some of my favorites.

I'm really thinking about changing the name of the blog to Lenox Knits and Pics. I know that the focus has totally changed from my knitting ventures to more photo centric, which is one of the main reasons I had trouble getting myself over my blogger's block. I felt like the blog had no real focus and I was unsure of how to move forward. I'm still unsure but I realize that is not as important as simply going forward. I figure things will come back into focus if I just keep working at it, just like the Lensbaby!
The girls were having fun modeling for me in Nana's old hats. I have a lot more shots with my new lens that I will probably share later this week.


Before & After

I mentioned that I had been making some positive changes in my long absence from blogging. I thought I would elaborate on that today. My weight had gotten to my highest point ever by the end of last year. I was miserable and tired all the time. I was completely desperate for something to change. My Mom introduced me to a woman she volunteered with who is an HCG consultant. Mike and I talked with her for a long time. It was primarily him she had to convince because I was ready to try anything at that point.

So, on January 1 I started my HCG journey. For those of you that think it's taking the easy way out I strongly disagree. Yes, you lose weight fast but it's definitely not easy. I had hunger at times, annoying rashes, weakness, occasional headaches, and nightmarish periods for the past 4 months but I've also lost almost 60 pounds in that time. HCG is certainly not for everyone, and if you just have 20 pounds to lose I wouldn't even think about it. But if you are like me and you have over 100 extra pounds that you are dragging around it is a very effective way to get things under control fast.

There are risks but gastric surgery has a lot more, which I was starting to think was my only option to get off of this roller coaster ride. I have at least 2 more cycles to do to finish losing the rest of my weight but I'm going to take the summer off to just maintain. I also need to prove to myself that I can keep it off and that I have control over what I put in my mouth. I'm hoping that by the end of the year I will have lost 100 pounds but I will keep you updated about my progress come the fall.
The top shot is from last week when I finished my second cycle in a new outfit, although not much of a departure. The second shot is after my first cycle when I lost over 30 pounds in 40 days. This bottom shot is my before picture. Before shots are always unhappy which wasn't that difficult for me at the time. I can't believe how puffy and swollen my face was looking back. It was only a few months ago that I was seeing that face in the mirror every morning.


Creative Kate

I just wanted to brag on my niece Kate for just a moment. She received 3rd place for 3rd graders in all of the Fort Worth Catholic schools for her poster above. The theme was "Being disciples of Christ". In her poster there is a little girl carrying a pink box of donations up to a Daycare.

Kate is truly a creative spirit. She takes whatever assignment she has and makes it her own. I particularly love this poster she sent my Mom of the 10 plagues of Egypt. She added some humor and emotional poignancy to this somewhat odd assignment. I like how she put a band aid on the Egyptian with boils. Seriously, who makes a 9 year old draw a picture of the death of all first born, but Kate did it with gusto. She was not happy with how her livestock depiction came out so please don't judge her for that.

I am missing the girls a lot this spring. They will be coming for several weeks over the summer but it's so hard not seeing them for months at a time. I miss Kate's random and over the top impressions and her ability to make me laugh for hours with her stories and voices. Mike calls her a little Amy Sedaris which is kind of true but in a good way.

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