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How about a Friday Introduction?telling the story

Whenever anyone asked for an introduction I always laugh and say, “I’m Courtney, I’m a Taurus. I love holding hands and long walks in the rain”. Then I go to to say I’m a wife and mother. But what does that really tell anyone. I’m a wife to Michael. Ok. I’m married. Is it supposed to mean I have enough social skills or hygiene to attract a mate? And really, what does saying I have six children tell you other than my laundry pile is gigantic?

I’m married. I’m married to the love of not just this life, but all eternity. This man completes me. He is truly my better half. He is grounded. Incredibly smart, genius even. And he makes me so twitterpated… I know I know, hence the six kids right?

The first time we met it was a real Romeo and Juliet moment. No, seriously, I had to go out on the balcony and holler down to him because he couldn’t figure out how to get into my building. He may have been under the influence, lol. The second I let my guard down I was madly and fiercely in love with this man.

I’m a mama. I’m a mama bear to enough children to yield an infield for a baseball game, or so the checkout clerk at Costco recently told me. It means that I haven’t slept through the night in years. I am always behind on laundry. My volume of dishes is enough to make most grown adults cry. Oh, and I haven’t had a clean house since like 2005. I’ll try and clean it up before people come over for the first time, you know, to try and pretend this isn’t my real life, but after that first visit, if you pass the “no judgment” test, you’re welcome back and get to see life as it really happens. When I say, “Oh gosh, it doesn’t normally look like this, I’m so sorry” it really means, “holy shit, we cleaned it up good!” hahaha.

I became a mama at 20. I had no clue what I was doing. I wasn’t good with kids. Hell, I wasn’t good with people. I raised her and she raised me. 16 months later her brother came along and we became a team. Throw a few miscarriages in there and number three came along. She was a demon child. Didn’t sleep, fussy, mean as hell to her siblings, but oh she had a flair for all things sparkly, colorful, and gaudy. Another few miscarriages, an engineering degree, and a few months in the army later I found out I was pregnant with number four. When people say they have “no clue how it happened” and you laugh because you know exactly HOW it happened… yeah, that was number four. Only seriously, no clue how that happened. I was set to go back to army training in a few weeks and had to tell my command I was pregnant. Whoopsies. But it ends up the second best thing that ever happened to me. I stayed in for another year and a half, but I never finished my officer training and had to get out or become enlisted, I opted out. We threw caution to the wind and decided to transfer to Texas so Michael could add a physics degree to his engineering path. My work allowed me to be remote and fly back often, only we had another “how the heck did that happen” moment. The fun part of that was that it was so unexpected I had the job of breaking it to my husband. I made sure I took him out to a great restaurant, ordered him a bottle of wine, yes, bottle, and started with a speech about all the great things that had happened to us that we hadn’t exactly planned… and ended with number five. Number six, okay, we own that one, that was planned. Number seven… haha. Maybe! We’re not ruling out a 2018 baby.

What does that really mean? It means my heart, hands, and house are full of love, messes, clothes, and lots and lots of noise. It means that I have to multitask. It means that I can’t be at your beck and call. It means you may have to be patient with me. It means if I don’t write it down you can bet your ass it won’t happen. It means I am intolerant to drama and bullshit.

But if you can deal with the bits and pieces, and my half functioning brain, I’m incredibly loyal and giving. I make myself as available as I can be. And I always mean well. I always try and leave the world a little better than I found it.

So that’s my introduction… you can follow along on The Rusty Lens FB Page or over on IG.

Introduce yourself why dontcha?

Telling the Story | a blog series about the characters and stories captured in the wild by The Rusty Lens

If I were to tell you I had any serenity in the last month, it would be a blantant lie. We’ve been neck deep in remodeling, now currently without a functional kitchen sink. My teenagers are fighting like cats and dogs, and enough with the nipple twisting, my God! We finally had it. We had to play hooky from life. We ventured to the coast. It wasn’t exactly a serene trip, it never is when we shove 8 people in a car. But, since you can’t hear the noise, the bickering, and the constant threat of vomit. I bring you some serene photos.

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The Serenity Circle is a collaborative blog project sharing our serene photographs with you each month. Please continue on the journey and visit the next blog to complete the circle.

Click HERE and check out the fabulous Nadeen Flynn and see what she found this month.

  • July 19, 2017 - 10:01 am

    Serenity Project - July 2017 - Iris Nelson Photography - […] the circle to see what my wonderful and talented photography friend, Courtney Rust at “The Rusty Lens” is sharing this […]ReplyCancel

  • July 19, 2017 - 1:53 pm

    Wendy - Beautiful light in each of these images. Love them all, and the story behind the post this month too!ReplyCancel

  • August 8, 2017 - 5:33 pm

    Mabel - I love this place and you captured it so well. Going on trips with kids is never serene!ReplyCancel

  • August 9, 2017 - 1:58 pm

    Katie - I love all these pictures, but I really need to be in that next to last photo. Such a wonderful tree tunnel. : )ReplyCancel

point reyesWe have been remodeling for weeks. This weekend we had to take a pause for my husband to finish an assignment for his master’s class, but we were just so burnt out. We are constantly jumping from the frying pan to the fryer. And we just couldn’t shake the funk. I have had a backlog of places I want to visit so I picked one and off we went.

We had literally no idea what we were going to other than Point Reyes has a lighthouse and it’s on the coast. It also never occurred to us that it could be 35+ degrees cooler just one hour away. We knew something was wrong when we pulled into the parking lot and everyone was decked out in Patagonia jackets. And of course, this was the one time we cleaned our car before heading out so it was slim pickings which made for some good laughs. Thankfully, I never made it into any of the photographs, but there were people staring.

We popped into the visitor center to check in and see what we were in for. Something that I have gotten into a habit of as an adult is asking people what is there favorite thing. I do it with the wait staff at restaurants, I do it when we are visiting hotels, and I asked the Point Reyes Park Ranger what his favorite part of the park was. I asked what would be the best things to attempt with several small children who wouldn’t last too long on their feet. And of course, one mention of “elephant seals” and I was in! He said they were thinning out and wouldn’t be there much longer and then they wouldn’t return until next season.

So off we went armed with sheer will power, a healthy dose of suck it up, a pinch of “we’re from Alaska”, and a shark towel.

And we will be back again. We will so be back again. We will have lunch in the cutest little town. We will stop at a dairy farm. We will climb the hills and find the elk herd. We will picnic on the beach.  We will hike in the forests. Clearly, we loved Point Reyes National Park. And lucky for us it’s only an hour away. Before Bay Area traffic. Hah!

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After the Elephant Seal overlook we ventured over to the Point Reyes lifeboat station. Their motto, ye have to go out, ye don’t have to come in. This bay is beautiful, but with that intense fog it is not hard to see how many lives could be lost here.
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We were hoping for sea lions, but nada. There was one otter playing in the surf, but that was it. DSC_6291z

I told him under absolutely no condition could he smile.
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I kick myself for not taking a video of this, or taking the time to slow the shutter down. But we left all the kids in the car and ran the .4 miles to the lighthouse (which was closed) and I knew the clock was ticking before the littles would get upset in their carseats and the teens would let them loose. But the fog was coming through so fast it was both beautiful and haunting.
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So bummed I didn’t get to walk the 30 stories down (and up) to the lighthouse. lol.

Point Reyes

This beach totally had me until the shark bit. DSC_6396z-2
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Then we stepped into the city for a quick Chinese food supper. Everytime we see that Golden Gate it’s a little magical. DSC_6417z

DSC_6438zAnd then fog started rolling in for the evening.
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meal planThe Meal Plan and Exercise Plan.

I’m in love with Real Plans and their recipes, it has changed how I meal plan forever. If you are a member you can search these by title in the program. You can read more about how this site works here. Because it generates my meals and shopping list I don’t have the excuse, “I don’t know what to make for dinner”. And I know everything it generates will be on my approved foods list.

My goals have been to make healthier meals and exercise regularly. I’m not perfect, I had a half a bite of a cookie that was left out on the counter this morning. I even dipped it in my coffee. But I’m trying. And I’m seeing results.

Here is my meal plan for the week. Note: The rest of family are not pescatarians, so I will go and add their meat meals on days where I know they won’t like what I’ve made. My husband, for instance, will not eat crab or fishy fish and there may have been a phase in my life a few years ago where I over did the sweet potatoes and coconut oil so he won’t touch those either. *eyeroll* Also. I am in a huge seaweed roll up phase right now. I ADORE sushi so this makes me feel like I’m eating it, minus the rice.

meal plan

My exercise routine has been to “run” three days a week using the Couch to 5K app. I’m in Week 2 right now so it’s still a run/walk routine. I have also implemented my old college workout that I got from The Big Book of Exercises. Aside from the Army, it was the fittest I have ever been and it was after having three children so I feel confident it works.

The best part is I’m only a few weeks in and I am seeing results already. I didn’t set out to drop thirty pounds my first month. And since I’m weight lifting I’m going to be looking less to weight and more to inches.

On my Plate is a series documenting my food and exercise journey to get healthy. This isn’t the journey to be a perfect size; this is a journey to be healthy and fit to enjoy more out of life. Sometimes it’s photos. Sometimes it’s a journal. Sometimes it’s meal planning and trying to get healthy food on the table for 8.

lost the fireI think it’s safe to say we’ve all seen it. You’re watching a photographer and they are just on fire. Their photos are amazing and you are sucked in totally inspired. And then there comes a point where you turn your head sideways and wonder what the hell happened. Okay, hmm. They must have had a bad week. Ok, they are going through a style change. Ok, they may have been drinking wine and editing. Omg I need to unfollow this photographer, this is awful.

And then you get to the point where you are wondering what the hell happened to this beloved photographer of yours. They are truly in a rut. And it’s visible from miles away.

And okay, sometimes that photographer is not exactly your best friend. Maybe even your frienemy. And sometimes you give a little snicker. Totally human. But how does this happen?

A few things happen. One. As you are finding yourself attracted to new photographer crushes you are probably working hard and you’re improving. So you’re closing the gap to begin with. Two. It is so hard to be “on” all the time. A little burnout is normal. Three. There comes a time when the choice is just to keep pushing through or quit and hide. And most of us aren’t quitters. So content gets posted even though it’s less than stellar.

There is also a little of four. That photographer truly doesn’t care anymore. They get such a following they could literally photograph poo and people would flock. Clearly this is a more rare case and I’ve never actually experienced anything like this myself. But I know it’s out there. Another variation is the photographer who worked hard and got the following early on and has been blinded by their own success, but the people stayed. And if you get a good following of good people, it doesn’t really matter what phase you’re in. Again, I can’t really relate, when I am sucking people are in “peace out” mode.

And then there are a few cases of five where the photographer really wasn’t on fire and you had your goggles on. But regardless. It happens.

I’ve watched several photographers go through this. And I’ve sat, in judgment, shaking my head saying, “damnnnn”. And now here I sit. I don’t pick up my camera. My work is so half-assed I think my 3 year old could “pray and spray” and hit more quality shots. And I’ve lost all my give a damn. It’s hot. I’m without power to half my house including my AC while we do some major electrical overhauling. I’m now without a sink from what I thought would be a few hour cabinet swap to a horror scene of mold and rotted floors that would take days to clear.

I am in the suck. And I am totally finding empathy for those that have gone before me.

And this isn’t my first rut. I’ve suffered through many ebbs and flows. And I find they tend to strike in the dead of summer because my body shuts down when it goes above 95 degrees. But this may be a more serious condition. I think this is a case of photography related IDGAF syndrome.

If you’re down and out, here is a reliable go to list of ways I try and kick the funk.

  • Shut down the negativity. Too much drama or watching people who are on fire will depress me and sink me further into the hole.
  • Shoot at golden hour. This is a pretty fool proof way to get at least one decent photo
  • Visit pretty places, cross ones off the bucket list
  • Revisit the easy go to shots.
  • Throw on a macro and find some pretty gardens
  • Find the light. It’s there. Even in my shit hole dark cave fixer upper sinkless house, there are still pockets of light that can be found. Window light is always friendly.
  • Look for lines. It’s a great way to get the eye back into looking for composition
  • Shoot film. Film makes me slow down and think. I’m a fairly frugal (read: cheap-ass) individual so I make sure those 1$ a frame shots are worth it.
  • Make an inspiration list. Things I want to shoot. Things to look for.
  • Try something different. Anything, take a risk. Take a shot that I almost didn’t take.
  • Put down the camera and enjoy something else. Maybe it’s a good movie or a good book. Maybe it’s a new craft and getting some projects knocked out.
  • Enjoy life. My family and my family’s happiness is my number one inspiration and motivator in life.

If you’re in the trenches, good luck! Here was my recent trip to the watershed to shake the funk.

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slow zebraI have always been a poor runner. I can sprint short distances, but even the 110-meter hurdles I ran in high school felt like a long distance. And then there was that time I joined the army and man do they love to run. Me? Yeah, I tried. I tried hard. But that was never worth anything when it came to our runs. My CO used to come up behind me and I could hear him, I knew it was coming. I would roll my eyes and there it was, “I’m a lion. I’m a lion and I’m after the slow zebra. Gonna get me a slow zebra. Slow zebras get eaten.”

While that may be true for a zebra on the Sahara, on a running track doing loop after loop the only thing that I was going to be eaten by were the fire ants in the stretching areas.

But nonetheless, it was annoying. It was even more annoying because he had the opportunity to do. Because I was slower than the best. I could improve. I made huge improvements. I went from not even being able to run a mile to running several in less than ten weeks. And then I was able to run faster and faster. But no matter what, my fastest was never even close to best, and frankly, it never will be. Because I am just average. I am average at just about everything.

But what does being average mean? It means I’m probably not going to win awards. It means I’m not going to win medals. But it doesn’t mean I can’t do it. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. And it damn sure doesn’t mean I can’t do it, enjoy it, and make improvements. It just means that I have to work a little harder to arrive at the same place. And folks, that’s what builds my character, lol.

Okay fine, most days. On occasion, I will bitch about this to high heaven.

But really, I only know one way to work and that is to hustle.

 

That one time we bought a fixer upper and began a renovation project.

house to home

We moved to California from Texas. We came from a 3600 sq ft 6 bedroom home on a nice size lot that bordered a park and only had one neighbor. And we had just remodeled it too, so we had come from brand new flooring and countertops, lovely bright natural light… and my favorite, the big garden tub. We knew we would be downsizing, and we wanted to! We knew we would have to make a few compromises because the bay area housing market is insane.

To be honest, the most compromises we found ourselves making weren’t specifically about cost. Although obviously more money would have bought more options. It was the low inventory. I would search daily, multiple times a day to wait for a new listing, and sometimes it would be days before a new one would come on. After three months we realized we didn’t want to wait any longer to be picky.

Enter the lava rock house.

Wait, let’s get a visual to go with this.14a6000d5e61ac14199d4eca4ee241d4l-m2xd-w1020_h770_q80

Actually now that I’m looking at this, I think they did a great job with the photo. lol. This room is dark. It’s SO dark. And it feels like you’re living in a cave. But, you know, plus side is for our PE class the kids just scale up and down the wall.

The house is smaller, 1800 sq ft, but it’s got a great simple floor plan that really works well for us.

Oh, the lava rock wasn’t enough for you? Check out my wet bar!wet bar

Okay, back to the point. It’s dated. It needs some remodeling both to bring it up to market value, and to make the fit and function work better for our large family.

So. Phase I

  • Remove wet bar
  • Remove lava rock wall
  • Remove carpet
  • Install hardwood
  • Knock down dining room dividing wall
  • New kitchen cabinets
  • New kitchen counters
  • Demo built in closet blocking door way
  • Add new built ins along the fireplace.
  • Close in family room wall, add door, make it fourth bedroom

Not an agressive plan at all considering we want it done the first three months in the house.

Except for, oh wait, the second we did a visual inspection in the attic we found out that BOTH walls we we want to demo are load bearing and will need to be rerouted before we can pull them down. Ok. Four months into the house.

The biggest change will be in our kitchen. We are knocking down the divider wall and adding an island.

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I’m most excited about this transformation because I was able to design a kitchen from scratch. We cook a lot. And we have a large family so we run to Costco the way most people hit the grocery store so we needed some high functioning storage. I splurged in a few places to make the cabinetry work best for us as well as adding some things I have always wanted, like a pull out trash can.

I’ll be honest. It wasn’t love at first sight. But, as we’ve moved into the space and I’ve gotten to know it better, it is definitely a deep love. I love the smaller footprint. I love the neighborhood and neighbors. I love the backyard. I love how I can sit at my desk and see all of our living spaces. We are going to make lots of memories in this home. I’m just hoping not too many more are being made amidst this renovation chaos. So far only two of us have driven nails up into our feet. lol.

Keep checking back as we work through the renovation and make our house our home, you know, otherwise affectionately named “the five year plan”.

Every time I think of writing a gear post I think of that Capitol One commercial, “What’s in your wallet?”. Don’t ask why… but I always like knowing what photographer’s pick for their everyday gear so… here is mine.

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The answer to what’s in my bag is going to depend:

  • Where am I going?
  • How long will I be there?
  • What will I be photographing?

The short answer is that I have a lot of children. Gone are the days where I can pack my bag with 15 lbs of gear and shoot all day long. I have also stopped shooting traditional portraits and aim more for a documentary/lifestyle look. But I also shoot a lot of nature and macro. If I’m going somewhere specific I’ll take all that into consideration. Or if I’m going to have a stroller and can tuck the bag away and not have to worry about the weight or long term carry. And it will depend on what lenses I have been using most often, I like to rotate through all of the lenses and make sure they are all getting use, it helps me stay creative, but each lens has so

When it comes to everyday gear, the combo I sport most often these days is:

35mm photosThe 35mm (photos pictured above) is quite possibly my most versatile lens, it really covers a lot of ground and it fits well with my style. It also helps that it’s a smaller lens and fits easily in a bag. If I know I want to get a lot of the scene in the frame, or if I want to change it up, I’ll grab the 24mm.

105mm photos

The 105mm (photos pictured above) is also a workhorse, it is my go to for capturing details, close ups, macro images, but it also has some great compression and bokeh, it really makes a great portrait lens.

Looking for a camera bag? I may have a collection amassed while trying to find THE goldilocks bag.

food

This is my food story for the week. It’s the longest rambling post I’ve written. But it’s real. I won’t blame you if you never come back. Hah!

Let me preface this by saying food prep is a bit bizarre for us right now. We are in the middle of kitchen remodeling and I am without a stove. So all hot meals are limited to the microwave or the instant pot. I am getting very creative over here.

Prepping and planning is key. I have discovered if I don’t have a plan I end up going too long without eating and the crash and binge on something I shouldn’t.

Day One | ACV before copious amounts of coffee. Tried a new SILK dairy-free creamer. It’s awful. Thank God I bought the small carton. For breakfast, I had a make ahead chia pudding with fruit, chia seeds, hemp hearts, coconut milk. I’m not going to lie and say it’s amazing, but it’s edible, and I find that it keeps me really full.

By lunch, my dairy free was over. I am pretty sure that they serve dairy free creamer in hell. And I made it until 1 pm, so that was a huge success in my book. And let’s face it, I didn’t really have intentions to give up cheese.

food sesame shrimp saladLunch was a sesame ginger salad with cheese, eggs, shrimp, and garbanzo beans for protein and kale and chards for greens. Of course, I had to make the shrimp twice because I turned around and Campbell had eaten every one. And I had even made a double batch knowing they would want some.

To keep salads fun and tasty I bought several types of greens and about five dressings. I’m sure not all of them are healthy per say, but this is about establishing long-term healthy habits not restricting anything good and tasteful and thus for killing my will to live.

Supper: Glass Noodles and a  yogurt parfait for dessert

Water intake: 32 oz. Enough to make me have to get up in the middle of the night like a 70-year-old man.

Exercise for the day. 2-mile walk with the hubs.

Day Two | I took the morning light and just had a cup of chamomile tea. After that settled, I had three cups of coffee, lol. Then a bland chia pudding for breakfast. Note to self. Coconut milk, chia, and frozen fruit are not flavorful. Either smash the berries next time or add additional stuff. I threw some granola on top and that made it way better.

In the name of transparency, Colton brought home a pack of sour mike and ikes from Walgreens, and I couldn’t help myself. I had two. But in my defense, he broke the cardinal rule I gave him which was, “don’t bring it in the house.” To punish him I announced loudly that he hand candy and five siblings flocked immediately.

food mango shrimp saladLunch: spinach mango shrimp salad with poached egg

I had needed a meal by the time I got home. I was so hungry. I threw together some Greek Nachos from my new favorite cookbook, Love Real Food. I love that her recipes are super easy to make swap outs. My body is starting to be onto me. I’m starting to crave sugar.

Supper was an adaptation of the Greek Nachos from lunch. We called them Naan’chos. lol. We cut up naan in wedges and piled all sorts of stuff on,

Dessert was a yogurt parfait with lots of fresh fruit.

Exercise: 2-mile walk

Water: 28 oz. Whoops

Day Three | I’m getting discouraged. I feel full, so I’m not really feeling like I’m dieting. But my husband lost another pound. He’s down about 18 pounds. And he eats chicken melts and Philly cheesesteak all day long. I feel like lacing his food with lard. Wanker.

Breakfast: Disgruntled Coffee and hippy dippy waffles that tasted like shit and drowned in fresh fruit so I wouldn’t notice.

Hrrumpf.

Lunch: Naanchos that I ate while breastfeeding one handed and stuffing my face like a savage so we could make a showing of a play. And it was right in front of our large picture window through which all of our neighbors could see. No shame.

Supper: Tuna Poke and a small California roll. This is a big step up from the 18 million rolls I would normally order.

Water: enough to make me risk kidney failure in the middle of the night for refusing to get up

Exercise: Weight training and 2.5-mile walk

Day Four | Here’s a perfect example of where failing to plan is planning to fail. I didn’t prep breakfast. The doorbell rang before 9 am. It’s summer. And there are 31 kids on our street. So. Taco Bell breakfast for the win. 500 calories of disgusting fatty deliciousness. I’m pretty sure everything in that burrito was squeezed out of a processed food packaged and slathered with easy cheese.

Easy Ramen with broccoli for lunch. I desperately need a stove. This is starting to wear on me.

I should note, I am a pescatarian. Basically I’m a vegetarian except for seafood, and apparently, parmesan cheese which turns out is actually not vegetarian at all. Mind blown. My husband, on the other hand, is a true Texan. He is totally okay with killing and butchering his own food. I cry at every Disney movie that includes the death of an animal. We are different. My husband has a special name for my vegetarian food that’s probably inappropriate, so I’m leaving it out.

food granola ballsToday I tried making some true hipster protein granola ball shit (Recipe adapted from Love Real Food: Granola balls). I mean literally, the color and consistently was exactly that of baby poo, my fault, I added dates. So there I am in the kitchen hurrying to roll it in the coconut shavings before he sees what the hell I’m about to serve him. They were really delicious.

Supper: Cobb Salad with fake crab meat

Exercise: 2-mile walk

Day Five | This is a double dose of coffee day. Baths were needed before my made ahead chia pudding breakfast. I should note, I’m anemic so I need to find ways to get more iron out of my day. Chia works awesome so I add it to a lot of things.

Exercise: 1.98 mile walk/run from the Couch to 5K app. Completed Day One!

Lunch: Awesome Tuna Nicoise Salad! I used sundried tomatoes instead of fresh because I was out.

Supper: I was supposed to go to the store, but I was painting and working on electrical all day. Poke Bowl.

Water: 64 oz. Doing better at this.

Day Six | Breakfast: coffee and dried fruit. I need to go to costco, I was in a hurry, I ate handfuls of dried pineapple so I could avoid the cardinal rule: Never go to Costco hungry. Breakfast and lunch were also tears and dried fruit. It was a rough morning.

food salmon for dinner

Supper: I HAVE A STOVE! Salmon and artichokes with hollandaise sauce. I know, I know hollandaise is pretty much the unhealthiest thing in existence. But I survived today off dried pineapple and cashews. And there was a green veggie served, that has to count for something. My husband and I bought a vintage Julia Child cookbook and we wanted to start a Date Night where we get in the kitchen. 2.5 hours and 5 recipes later, I realized that we used up 2 POUNDS of butter. lol. GAH. Luckily I didn’t consume all that.

Exercise: 1-mile walk. And Costco. That has to count for exercise.

Water: My Coffee had water. I had a lot of coffee.

Day Seven | OMG! A week! I made it! I meant to measure myself, I know weight is not the best indicator. Especially after Julia Child night and the salty butter that had me drink at least 80 oz of water. lol. I’d rather weigh myself in a few days.

Breakfast: a handful of dried pineapple. I’m pretty sure it has sugar in it, but it’s in Thai. So I’m ruling Thai sugar shouldn’t count.

Exercise: Couch to 5K Day 2! Broke the 2-mile mark and broke my 11-minute mile pace.

Lunch: Leftover salmon with capers with poached eggs and artichoke hearts

Supper: scallops, cauliflower mac & cheese, and steamed snap peas. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but the cauliflower was better than any pasta version I have ever had.  The meat eaters in my house opted to skip this delicious dish and grill burgers. I may or may not have considered hitting him in the head with a plate. By him, I mean my husband. I hope he likes burgers because now I’m making vegetarian the rest of the week. Asshole.

fresh food

Recap, otherwise known as TLDR; Week One started slowly. I greatly reduced my carb and refined sugar intake, and I increased my protein, iron, and veggie intake, for me this is a huge win. I’m not going to say I drank a lot more water, but I was seen on occasion to drink water that wasn’t coffee flavored, that’s a win. I began an exercise routine of Couch to 5K and strength training on alternating days. I do feel better. I’m making it longer through the day without feeling exhausted. But I can’t say I look any different. It’s only been a week. This is a long process.

At the end of the week I had the biggest discovery of all! My friend turned me on to https://realplans.com/?AFFID=288433Real Apps. Seriously, my meal planning will never be the same. I wrote more about it here.

On my Plate is a series documenting my food and exercise journey to get healthy. This isn’t the journey to be a perfect size; this is a journey to be healthy and fit to enjoy more out of life. Sometimes it’s photos. Sometimes it’s a journal. Sometimes it’s meal planning and trying to get healthy food on the table for 8.

project life systemThanks to Project Life I am caught up on printing photos for the first time in ten years.

And it was so easy. How easy? I set aside 2-3 hours this week and I finished 5 months of photos. And now my family has a gorgeous album of photos and journaling to pour through.

Let me share more about my system because it took me awhile to figure out what worked for me. For about two years I just bought more stuff thinking that it would just magically happen. I came from the old world of scrapbooking and I just didn’t have time for it anymore and now I had double the children.

I start in Lightroom where I have my photos organized by month. I use the collection feature to make a gallery of images from the month I want to print. I am highly selective. This is where you will save or lose the most amount of time right here. I don’t print all the photos. I print the ones that tell our story. I print the ones that refresh my memories. I do include my favorites, but I don’t just pick a photo because it’s pretty. I also try not to pick many in a series, I try and pick the one that represents it best. If I do grab a series I will likely shrink it down so it doesn’t take a ton of space. I allow for four two-page spreads for each month. Sometimes I will use less, and sometimes there will be special events like a birthday or trip that deserve their own spread. For January 2017 I used six spreads as we did a cross country road trip and I wanted to include more of the travel photos. I am going to voice my inner Pirates of the Carribean, these aren’t rules they are merely guidelines. You do you.

create collection in lightroom for project life

collection project life

After I have a collection I rate my photos. A typical spread for me consists of 7-8 4×6 size photos or spots and 8 3×4 photos spots. I stick to the Project Life A protector design because it works well for a number of horizontal photos I have. I will rate the photos I want larger higher and give them more attention. Then I will break up the other photos which I usually put two to a 3×4 slot which makes them 2×3 inches. I use premade templates that I designed to work with my system, but also my printer. My printer has an offset so you will see my templates are not perfectly centered (or else I would offer them to you). I insert them into the print templates and hit the print button and save them to a foldergallery selection project life

I then go to my digital card section and find appropriate ones for the photos I’m working with. I see how much “design” space I have, or room for journaling, select the cards and add them to the collection I’m working with. I add them to the right templates and print them to a folder as well.

journal cards for project life

print screen for project life

I open all the saved files in Photoshop. For two reasons. One, I can add text to them, but I also have an action that resizes everything and sends it to my printer as a 4×6 and then closes the files that have printed. When my journaling cards open I can add a text box and include my journaling. I love handwritten journaling, however, mine is barely legible so it makes a distraction.
title card for project life

If you’re a visual person, I create a quick and rough video of my process.

Project Life via LR from The Rusty Lens on Vimeo.

I print using a Canon Pixma  5520 Printer which I don’t think is available, but there are many comparable ones and Kirkland 4×6 Photo Paper, it’s a quality I like, but it’s also very economical which I love. I like to print at home so I can make changes and work on a spread all at once. But you could easily send your prints off to a lab of your choice.

project life print your photos

I use a Fiskars paper trimmer, and make the cuts that are necessary and then slide them in.DSC_6095z

If I have any remaining spots I look for something to fill them, or else. Bam. Done. 21 photos for this spread while maintaining plenty of white space and avoiding the look of just a photo album. DSC_6101z

On the following pages I will add more detailed journaling about our month and the events and appointments we had.

Are you new to this and want to get started? The best recommendation I have is to start with Becky Higgin’s Project life Core Kit. It is a binder, page protectors, and a core kit of cards.

This is how I started and it definitely helped me get a better grasp of it.

The only downside to the project life core kits is that you get lots of duplicate cards, so if you don’t think you will use the cards repeatedly then you have a few options. You can buy the digital version. My favorite collections are the everyday edition and the Project 52 Fresh edition. Follow Becky Higgins, the creator of Project life and keep your eye out for sales!

I have also signed up for a monthly kit over at The Lily Pad so that I get monthly or seasonal cards and refresh my stash without spending a ton of money or creating clutter in my home.

project life with lightroom

  • July 2, 2017 - 6:40 am

    Gretchen Willis - Hey. When you say you go to your digital card section what does that mean? Are those the templates you designed? Or is it something else you purchased?ReplyCancel

    • July 5, 2017 - 8:25 pm

      admin - The “digital card section” is in my Lightroom catalog where I keep all my digital version cards so I can look through them easily to pick them for print.ReplyCancel