Sunday, March 27, 2011

La Paz...

Hello, my name is Julie and I'm 40.
That sounds a little weird but it is, in fact, my new reality. I turned 40 last week. I'm not hung up on the age thing, really. Birthdays always make me feel somewhat reflective, especially with "milestone" birthdays. In general, my 30's were better than my 20's and I'm looking forward to my 40's being even better.
One of the best parts about my birthday this year was that I got to celebrate it in La Paz, Mexico. What a beautiful, relaxing, soulful place. We spent a week lounging by the pool, swimming with sea lions, exploring the beach, eating wonderful food and drinking wonderful tequila! Not a bad way to spend any week, but in particular a birthday week.
La Paz had a lot of texture. I was struck by the feeling of so many things there and how authentic it felt. Between the four of us there, we took hundreds of photos and some of my favorite highlight the textures. Here are just a few examples...
These are really completely random... a light fixture on our patio, a grass overhang on a bar, a park bench, some wall art, a candle and a light fixture. So pretty and each of them bring me right back. I'll have more vacation photos soon, but these were the first I wanted to play with!

Monday, March 7, 2011


We have just returned from a fun (surprise!) trip to Disneyland! This is the second time that we've surprised Alex with a trip and I think the surprise is just as much fun as the trip!
I captured a couple of highlights here, but there are of course many more stories to tell...

From top to bottom: Alex with the gorilla at The Rainforest Cafe, our first family character photo with Safari Mickey, the view from the gondola on the ferris wheel at California Adventure, Tigger with the boys, Alex breaking out of jail at Toon Town, Alex and the pirate, Alex and Donald, Alex chilling out on the giant Lego.
We had a really wonderful trip. Alex was brave enough to go on every ride. In fact, he became a total roller coaster fanatic! First with Space Mountain, then on California Screamin'. I believe that we went on those two rides a total of about 12 times! His reaction was so adorable. At the end of each ride, he would pump his fists and scream "Oh yeah!" "AWESOME!". Too cool.
Two years ago when we went to Disney Alex was still such a little guy. Now he seems much more like a boy. Quite bittersweet to be sure.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Me: The Abridged Version

Back in 2009, I took a class at Big Picture Classes called Me: The Abridged Version. The idea behind the class was to create an album, well, all about me. The concept is really cool, but for whatever reason, the project never really got off the ground. Until now. I decided to take advantage of my Layout-A-Day challenge to get going on it and so far, I'm really loving the process. It's pretty fun trying to come up with something that fits with each letter and I'm expecting a pretty special book when I'm done. I want to be able to share it altogether when it's done, but for now, here are my entries for A and B:
The toughest part is finding the right photo for the sentiment and, as you can see, sometimes creativity is the key. 

In other news, I did one of the scariest computer-related things ever the other day... I deleted my iPhoto Library from my iMac. My computer was running pretty slow for a while and my photos were taking up more than 50 GB of hard drive space (that's a little shy of 15,000 photos, in case you're wondering). I did a little research and copied the library to an external hard drive and then did nothing. It took a while, but I finally hit the delete button. 
My mom and dad had more than 100 photo albums in their home that recorded our lives. I'm sure that all my photos would take quite a few more albums than that and I'm so aware of how fragile it is, how fragile computers can be. Anyway, now they're all safe and sound on three different external hard drives, and I have a bit more room on my computer and hopefully it will more a little smoother.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Mt.Baker, originally uploaded by jashepler.
I have been keeping up daily with my LOAD challenge, but horrible at getting my layouts posted! I'll try to catch up soon, but wanted to get this layout up today. This is a few shots of Alex up at Mt. Baker where he and I are taking snowboarding lessons this year.

Let me give you a quick review of my three lessons so far. Lesson #1: I was excited to learn, sore and maybe concussed by the time we left the mountain and so sore the next morning that I though I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. Literally it was the most pain I've ever caused myself. Lesson #2: I made it through one hour of my two hour lesson. When I came in my knee was swollen and totally bruised and my tailbone (still sore from the week prior when I started) was on fire. Luckily we had a week off due to weather. Lesson #3: I loved it! It was awesome... the snow was great, there was lots of powder, I stopped falling all the time. It was really perfect. I was ready to quit if it didn't go well. Lesson #3 was make it or break it and I'm so glad that I stuck with it for one more week!

Alex's story of snowboarding is a little more straightforward. Lesson #1: He loved it. Lesson #2: He loved it even more. Lesson #3: He loved it even more again. He loves the snow. He has a great attitude and never gives up. Whenever he falls, he just pops right back up. It's awesome.

I'm really glad that we're learning this together and I hope that we can continue to enjoy the mountain for quite a while.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I love Ted. No, there is not a new man in my life. If you haven't discovered Ted, their mission is simple: spreading ideas. They post videos of speakers that are inspiring, thought provoking, entertaining and simply worth the time. I was browsing and came across this video of a ukulele player. Sounds crazy, but take a couple of minutes and watch this. It's rare to see someone tackle anything with as much passion as this young man does his instrument.

I'll be back with more layouts tomorrow because seriously, how can I can compete with that?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

LOAD Day 5 & 6

I'm keeping up pretty well this round! One of the things I love about a challenge like Layout-A-Day is that it works to get my creative mind kick started. I start to have more ideas and often, the thing I started working on leads to lots of other ideas that I can work on.
Here is day 5:

Isn't he just the cutest? Our dear friend Matthew captured that awesome picture of Alex blowing out the candles on his cake and it was screaming to be highlighted!

Day 6:


This photo is pretty awful, but I grabbed a bunch of photos my mom took at her place and created a story. Alex is really very photogenic, so that's about all it takes to make a great page!

Friday, February 4, 2011

LOAD Day 4 ~ ChristmasCard

ChristmasCard, originally uploaded by jashepler.

Today's layout is basically the "gag reel" of my photo shoot of Alex for our Christmas card. I had the idea to wrap him up in lights like a Christmas tree. The execution didn't quite match what I had in my mind, but he had a lot of fun playing with the lights and I had a lot of fun playing with my camera. And, in the end, we ended up with a pretty cute picture for the card!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

LOAD Day 3 ~ This is Our Life

This is Our Life, originally uploaded by jashepler.

Today's entry was pretty simple. Just a few photos from our everyday life back in the fall of 2009. I really love to have photos like this included in our scrapbooks to remind us just how things were in real life!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

LOAD Day 2 ~ Family & Friends

Family & Friends, originally uploaded by jashepler.

Day two of Layout-A-Day (LOAD) finds me using this fun, huge photo that was taken at Alex's surprise birthday party this year. Here's the back story:
Alex had been asking and asking for a surprise birthday party. We tried to explain that if he knew it was coming that it wouldn't be a surprise, but he wasn't to be deterred. So, while we continued to plan a fun party with his friends at the Skagit Children's Museum, we were also planning a family party, only this one was to be a surprise!
We totally pulled it off! When we pulled up to Mom's house, we explained that she was having some friends over so we could only visit for a second. When everyone shouted SURPRISE!! it was perfect! He was definitely surprised.
He'd been playing with his camera all week and, when everyone started to disperse to take a little of the pressure off of him after the surprise, he had me call everyone back together so that we could take a family photo. I love that he wanted to do that! Clearly my love for the photo is rubbing off.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

LOAD - Day 1


Layout complete for day one! I got this idea on a blog I like to read, Life is in the Details. I love the idea of capturing a year like this on one page. I feel like I captured some of Alex's best looks and funny faces.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday night thoughts

I came here to write a post about my "one little word" and got completely distracted. Does that ever happen to you? First, I wanted to figure out how to change the little symbol up in the tool bar (also known as a "favicon"). I'd taken a class at Little Light Studio a while ago and it was part of the lesson that I just never got around to. Well, tonight I decided to give it a go. It was harder than I thought. An hour later, I had that taken care of and realized that I needed to add the most recent LOAD button to my side bar. That was a bit quicker.
So, now to the reason I came to post tonight, my word:

I chose grace after thinking about some things that I want to accomplish this year and how I want to approach my life this year.
I want to have a more graceful home (less stuff, more organized)
I want want to live a bit more gracefully (be a bit more mindful in my actions and with my time)
I want to grace my life with my presence (be intentional with my decisions)
I want to be more graceful in my relationships (less stubborn, more consistent)

I'm a month in and can report that I have remained mindful of my word and my intentions. I see it showing up in little ways (being a little more quick to pick up after dinner, cleaning out that nagging end table drawer, asking more questions). I think it will be a good fit and am anxious to see how the year progresses.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I'm so excited that it's time for Layout-A-Day again! Last February was my first go at LOAD and was hooked right away. I love the instant support group, the creative nudge and I was lucky enough to win the big prize my first time out so that was super fun! This will be my fourth challenge. I can't wait to get started.
As I get ready, I wanted to share a couple of thought about how I get ready and how I overcome obstacles and how I make the most of LOAD.

1) Make a list.

This is what I have so far. I like to have a plan going in. For some reason, I'm not a good prompt follower. Once in a while a prompt will align with something a layout I have in mind and that works, too. Most of the time, I have quite a few layouts planned that are from classes I've taken and not finished (there are three this month). A also have a monthly review album and if I'm not caught up, those layouts go on here as well. I finished November this week, so it's already crossed off the list!

2) Allow for spontaneity.
Last year, this layout wasn't on my to-do list, but we had a great day at the pumpkin patch with some friends and some awesome photos to go with it. How could I not include them? When I'm in the "LOAD mode" I go with whatever feels right. I try to put things on my list that have been on my mind or that are stories I've wanted to tell for a while, but creatively, I think it's important to do what moves you.

3) Live in the moment.

Both of these layouts I did with photos I took the same day. In the first case, my husband and I had taken a weekend away and did a little hiking. I didn't want to skip a day and we had some great photos from our hike. While he was in the shower getting ready for dinner, I put together this simple digital layout.
The second layout is of the day we moved my mom. My dad died a little over a year ago which prompted this move. The day was much more emotional than I thought it would be. I put together this layout as I was processing through those feelings and it made a difference for me.

4) Be easy on yourself.
You may miss a layout. That is OK. The second time around I got so sick that I didn't even want to be on the computer and I missed about three or four days. The third time around, life got in the way. While it's rewarding to complete the whole challenge, every layout you complete is one that may not have gotten done if you weren't part of the challenge. Celebrate what you do accomplish.

5) Be active on Flickr
I know that it can take additional time, but the layout that get posted in the gallery are so inspiring. Make a comment! Celebrate the layouts you love. I try to go through at least the 10 or so layouts that were posted before mine and often more than that. I love to read the comments on my layouts so I try to comment generously.

That's it! Have fun and I can't wait to see you! If I've sparked some interest, check out Layout a Day with Lain Ehmann.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Four Random Things...

Well, since it's the fourth, and I haven't been doing a super great job of keeping up my minimum posting schedule of once per week, here goes nothing!

1) We went to Seattle last week and visited Harry Potter: The Exhibition. If you have any Harry Potter fans in the house, it's totally worth going. I read all the books as they came out and our seven year old son is a big fan so we really dug it. You get to see all sorts of props from the movies; costumes, wands, the beds from the Gryffindor dorm, Hagrid's hut. Super cool. The only bummer... no photography allowed. WHAT?!

2) The exhibition was at the Science Center which is at the Seattle Center. Photos were allowed outside and it was gorgeous:

3) We spent another New Year's Eve at a good friend's home and this year marked the third since Mark and I've been together that I've seen him awake at midnight on December 31st. Happy New Year to all!

4) I'm participating along with Ali Edwards (and hundreds of others!) in One Little Word at Big Picture Classes. I've got my word chosen and will post about that soon!