Expeditions & Discoveries {Spring Walks}

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Hello, dears!

We’ve been going on exploratory walks around our farm almost every Sunday lately and it is SO much fun! Also I’ve taken SO many pictures! XD I seriously have way too many post ideas to keep up, so I’m going to combine a few walks into one post. Enjoy the virtual sunshine! 😀

On the first walk, we explored the woods beside Dad’s shop. Fern fiddleheads were unrolling everywhere and bright little violets popped up by tree roots covered in moss… ahh, I loved it. ❤ There were also carpets of mayapple plants, which I’d never seen before. Interesting.

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This was about a month ago, when leaves and buds were just starting to come out.

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Aren’t fiddleheads adorable? 😀

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HA HA for some reason this just looks really funny to me. XD It’s like the tree has a tiny nose. Maybe I should draw a face around it. 😛

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I LOVE MOSS. ❤

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Ooh, I really like this picture, particularly the lighting! The violet is a little blurry, but I love the golden light. I don’t exactly know how I got this one, but I do know I didn’t edit it.

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The roots are so neat, don’t you think?

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As you can see, the leaves were DEFINITELY not out yet.

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While walking back we saw a deep puddle that was literally TEEMING with tadpoles! There were hundreds if not a thousand. O.o I have never seen so many tadpoles in one place in my life!

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The puddle nearly dried up a while ago and left a lot of dead tadpoles in the sun, but it rained just in time to save the rest. 😛 I should go check them again… last time I saw them they looked pretty much like this:

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Next we have the walk in which we went down to our bigger stream and Carmen, Jeff, and Megan all swam even though they had regular clothes on and it wasn’t exactly hot. XD

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HA HA I love this. XD

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They seemed to be having a pretty good time, but I decided against joining them. 😛

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Wow, that was a short walk. Anyway, the next one is at our smaller pond. We got a canoe at the auction after we bought the new farm, but it kinda leaked. So Dad and the boys patched it up, we got oars, and ta-daa!

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This woods had some lovely beeches, and everything was SO GREEN!

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This tree was huge and gorgeous. ❤ We came back to this spot for my birthday and had a dessert picnic with chocolate pecan pie. 😀 Yep, it was DELICIOUS. And then Carmen and I worked on a fairy house in these roots because I’d told her I would. 🙂 It was fun, but got dark really quickly. (Also I don’t have any pictures of that night, sorry. :/ )

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We also want to make a fairy house here sometime. 🙂

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Now, onto the next walk! This is the most recent. Last Sunday, in fact. I think these flowers are called phlox, but whatever they are, they certainly made the side of the trail pretty! ❤

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I brought my sketchbook and some drawing utensils along but didn’t end up using them that much. I did get a little sketch done, though. (Also this picture was super hard to get, but I like how it turned out.)

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I’m fascinated with reflections and light and water, together or separate. 😀

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Mom and Carmen and I (and later Dad) wandered along the smaller creek that we call Little Runny. The air was hot and muggy, so the shade and water felt amazing.

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Mom found a few tulip-tree blooms and wanted me to take a picture of it for our house. I was quite happy to oblige, of course! 😀 Tulip-tree flowers are strange: green and orange and lily-shaped, with maple-like leaves. Certainly unique.

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Carmen wanted to show me a “swimming hole” she’d found, which wasn’t actually quite deep enough to swim in. XD

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While we were there, I saw a little water strider and the ripples it made looked neat, so obviously I had to take a picture. 😛

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Ooh, I love this one!

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This stretch of Little Runny has sand instead of rocks! The riverbed is a mixture of sand and mud, which feels so good to bare feet. There are also random sandbars scattered like tiny beaches by the creek. The first time I saw them I was really surprised that they weren’t manmade.

Anyway, Carmen and I decided to try and build a sandcastle on one of the “beaches.” I think it turned out pretty cute for only having our hands to work with. (Thanks to my mom for taking this picture!)

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(Heh heh, once I started using this filter it was hard to stop. Oops.) I love this picture too! Isn’t it so cute and aesthetic? It looks like a summer beach photo instead of a spring creek photo. 😛

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Maggie also came along with us. She loves to wade in the streams and puddles, even though she never swims in deep ponds and stuff. Isn’t she so cute?

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And now let me end with this cool, refreshing picture. 😀 I love the colors in this one!

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And there you have a small sampling of my many spring pictures. Going outside at this time of the year is quite dangerous for me if I intend the pictures for my blog because I JUST CAN’T. KEEP. UP. But you know, I think that’s rather a good problem to have. 😉

Do you always take an excessive amount of pictures in spring too? Which is your most photographed season? And do you have a favorite or favorites of these pictures? I’d love to hear!

Thanks so much for reading, dears, and have a lovely day! ❤

***Allison***

Honeybees & Spring Blossoms

Hello, dears! I was hoping to do a “Recent Art” post or maybe a post about the old letters, but unfortunately I don’t have enough time (or Wi-Fi) for either. But don’t worry, hopefully those will be next! Until then, I have some more spring-y pictures for you! I absolutely LOVE this photoshoot and I hope you will too. 🙂

There are a ton of redbuds at our new farm and the surrounding country. Sometimes the side of the woods looks pink with all the blossoms! We also have two gorgeous redbuds in the yard of the big house and the one especially just looked perfect this year… maybe it usually does? But this is the first year I’ve seen it, and it’s gorgeous. ❤

AHHH IT’S SO PRETTY.

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I got a few pictures with my macro lens. This one is one of my favorites from the whole shoot!

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It’s neat to see how complex the tiny blooms are close up.

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The look kind of like slippers with huge bows on top or something. XD

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There were absolutely a ton of bees buzzing around the blossoms, which was a bit, um, scary, especially when I used my macro lens and stuck my camera inches away from my subject. O.o But no worries, I didn’t get stung. 🙂 I think they were too focused on the nectar.

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Their wings are so delicate!

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Heh heh, this guy looked a lot less delicate than the rest of the bees.

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You can see the pollen sac super well in this one.

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I don’t know why there’s a spot in the middle of its “fur,” but I thought it was interesting.

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I love how you can see the bee getting ready to land in this one!

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The 50mm lens I have makes such amazing bokeh. ❤

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I tried to crop this, but it ruined the nice composition, so I didn’t after all. Oh well. 🙂

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And we’ll end with these two pictures. I don’t know WHAT happened with this photo, but I think it looks kind of neat? Too bad I didn’t get a clearer picture of the bird, though. :/

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Ahh, so pretty, don’t you think? ❤ I can’t WAIT to move in!

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And that’s all for now! Thanks for reading, dears, and I hope you enjoyed the photos! Do you have redbuds or other blooming trees where you live? What’s your favorite part about spring?

***Allison***

P. S. Speaking of photography, you guys should check out Kalea’s blog! She has some beautiful spring photography on there as well as a review of the macro lens I used for part of this post. 🙂 (Also if you’d like to see my macro lens review, click here.)

Macro Photography + Lens Review

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Hello, dears!

Well that was a rather unanticipated mini-hiatus, huh? I think this is the longest break from blogging I’ve taken in… I don’t know, a very long time. 😛 As usual, it was because of our agonizingly slow internet and hectic moving schedule. *sigh* Anyway, I won’t elaborate on my excuses anymore – must make the most of fast Wi-Fi while I have it! XD

Today I am excited to present a review of this Fotodiox Macro Extension Tube Kit, plus some close up pictures I got with it!

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I got the kit for Christmas but have only lately really learned how to use it. It definitely has its quirks and difficulties, but overall I LOVE it and I’ve had so much fun playing with it.

The kit comes with five pieces…

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only three of which are the actual extensions (the other two attach the extensions to the lens and camera body).

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The extensions are 28mm, 14 mm, and 7 mm: the higher the number, the more macro the photo will be. You can screw them on and off individually and in any combination. The pieces all seem very sturdy. It IS a little hard to screw the normal camera lens onto the respective attachment, but it works okay.

Here are some variations of… um macro-ness? XD

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The amazing thing about this kit is that it’s only $12.59 on Amazon! Isn’t that incredible? Considering how high lenses – or really anything DSLR related – usually cost, I think it’s a huge bargain.

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Now granted, it isn’t the easiest to use at first, as aforementioned, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty fun.

For one thing, you have to use manual mode. This isn’t a problem for me because I always do anyway, but it’s something to consider.

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You also have to manually focus the lens, by which I mean move your camera back and forth until you get just the right distance away from it that the subject is (mostly) in focus. This makes it practically impossible to get a clear picture of a moving subject or an object that’s spiky or generally not very flat, like these:

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Not surprisingly, the longer your lens extends, the closer up it gets. Also basically the closer up you get, the harder it is to take pictures. Because besides the things I just said, one, it will require pretty bright light (or high ISO/low shutter speed) to compensate for the zoom; and two, it will have a TINY f-stop/aperture, which means the portion of the picture in sharp focus is very small, like the first picture below.

(By the way, this EXTREMELY WEIRD thing is called a cedar apple – and no, it’s not edible. XD You should look them up – they’re so strange!)

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You can see how much more subject area is in focus when you use a 14mm versus a 28mm:

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And I believe this is just with the 7mm, although I’m not entirely sure what extensions I used for any of these pictures because it’s rather hard to keep track of. XD

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I prefer to use something like the 7mm + 14 mm instead of all three together. Even the 7 mm by itself is a lot of fun, though it isn’t super macro. However, you can still get some super neat photos with the full extension, it’s just a bit harder to work with:

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One thing I love about these extensions is how soft and dreamy they make the lighting. ❤ They’re also super good for bokeh, although this specific picture isn’t a great example of that…

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The colors are also usually quite vibrant, as you can see here. I didn’t edit this at all!

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And there you have it! I hope you guys found the review helpful and interesting. 🙂 Before I go I wanted to show you a few more macro photos I’ve taken recently. Enjoy!

Weeds are great for macro photography because they look a lot prettier closer up. 😉

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I also love how the extensions work with water drops! (Well let’s be honest – I just love water drop photography in general. XD)

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Another photography subject I love is eyes. ❤ I tried to get some shots of my own eyes, but it was pretty hard to do as a selfie. :[] Oh well, I think the blurry ones still actually look pretty!

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Ahh, I really like this last one! Se the reflection of me holding the camera? It looks like my pupil is the lens. 😀

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OKAY OKAY I LOVE THESE NEXT ONES TOO EEP. I’ve always wanted to get a good picture of a cat’s eye, and I finally did! Ahh, the color and texture is just gorgeous. ❤

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Good thing Tom was sleepy or he would have moved around way too much. XD

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Hee hee, isn’t his nose cute?

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This is an ear, in case you were wondering. XD I actually like the softness of this picture too.

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I could go on, but this is a long post already, so we’ll stop here. XD *sigh* That was fun.

So tell me. Would you consider buying this extension kit? What was your favorite photo? Do you like taking close-ups, or do you prefer a different genre?

Thanks for reading, dears, and have a wonderful day! ❤

***Allison***

P. S. I was going to do photography tips in this post, but then I was like, “Clara has done such a good job saying what I would just repeat, so…” XD Click here to read a super helpful and beautiful post with lots of great photography tips! And follow her blog while you’re at it – IT’S ABSOLUTELY WONDERMOUS. ❤ 😉

If you DO happen to have any photography questions left over afterwards, by all means please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them, perhaps in a later post. 🙂

Poems {Third Edition}

Hello, my friends!

I’ve been collecting some poems in a draft for a while now, and today I thought it’s about time to share them. 😉 I quite enjoy writing poems, and I’m so glad that you guys have enjoyed reading them so far! Hopefully that trend shall continue. 😛

Ahem, shall we begin?

poem 1

moon hammock

the moon through

bare black branches

becomes a lacy hammock,

spun with delicate glowing threads,

and suspended from stars.

cradled inside,

the man in the moon

watches the people below

hurrying and worrying

about their day,

and smiles softly.

for he knows how big a problem is

in a universe

millions and millions of miles wide.

he looks at the stars and knows –

not big at all.

 

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home

we’re back again,

back to our memory foam house

that remembers how we sat

and laid our heads

and walked the floors

and made the beds.

it welcomes us back again,

back into the old nooks and

comfortable crannies.

we slip back into

the familiar grooves,

take our old places

in hearts and homes,

and smile the smile of

back again.

we were trying to carve out

new places for ourselves,

new dips in new pillows,

new ruts in new roads,

new places in new hearts,

but carving is hard work,

you know.

so for now we snap

back into place

like a seven-piece puzzle,

and breathe a sigh of relief.

we’re home again.

 

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wildflower

they called her

brown-eyed Susan.

she was a wildflower,

her beauty fresh and pure

as sun rays and raindrops, with

wind-blown hair

and dewdrop eyes,

poppy petal lips

and a bright daisy smile.

she lit up her meadow

and spread her heart wide.

but wildflowers stay

only for a season

and then they

f a  d   e      a    w     a      y.

 

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first world problems

this page won’t load,

the internet is slow,

and my tv only covers half the wall.

they’re out of organic,

i ate too much,

and i had to make that crust from scratch.

my purse must weigh ten pounds in coins,

they only take cash,

but no one has change for a $100 bill.

i have nothing to do but sleep,

but there’s not enough time in the day,

and i need to get away from all this stress.

maybe i’ll go to africa.

 

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roses

once i wandered through

an old abandoned house

whose bones had broken long ago.

and in the cellar,

hanging in the dark,

i found roses.

they were tied to the ancient rafters

with brittle, yellowed thread,

fragrant with the soft, crumbling scent

of nostalgia.

i touched a faded petal and wondered

how something so old and fragile

could still be beautiful.

and i wished

to grow older

with all the grace of

dying roses.

poem 6

the voiceless

we are the voiceless;

hear our silent cry.

our eyes have never opened,

our ears have never heard,

our lips have never spoken,

but if we could, we would say…

why do the ones who gave us life,

bring us death?

what have we done

that we should die?

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people say,

the color of your skin

doesn’t matter –

it is who you are inside.

but does your size matter?

if your heart is too small,

perhaps it does not matter

what it holds,

if it will never get a chance

to tell.

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we are the voiceless;

hear our silent cry:

we are innocent.

you cannot prove us guilty,

but we still die –

helpless.

hopeless.

voiceless.

**********

*sniff* Why is it so satisfying to write sad poems? :’) What do you think – do you like writing sad or happy poems/stories best? Which do you like reading best? Regardless, I hope you enjoyed these and I’d love to know which poem was your favorite!

Also, before you go, could I ask a favor of you? I have sooo many post ideas and not enough time (and data XD) to post them, so would you help me choose which ones to post first?

 

Thank you so much for your feedback, dear readers. ♥ Have a simply lovely day. 🙂

***Allison***

~ Etcetera #2 ~

Good gracious, guys, my unposted pictures are backed up all the way to October. XD So as you can see, it’s high time for another random photography/thoughts/etc. post! Enjoy the bits and pieces. 🙂 (And warning: this is going to be a VERY long post.)

Flowers + Butterflies

I love this next picture! The flower and colors are so incredibly bright and cheery. 🙂

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At the new farm we’re kind of in the middle of nowhere and at the end of the line, so it’s really hard to get Internet. You can get it, but it’s quite expensive past a certain monthly amount of data – and we already used that up, halfway through the month! O.o And even worse, the things that use it up the fastest are watching videos online and BLOGGING. HELP. XD Thankfully after you use up the data you still have Internet… it’s just really, REALLY slow. Like barely-moving slow. -_- Hooray.

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I was excited to be able to get decent pictures of a monarch butterfly because they’re pretty rare around here!

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I just finished reading Emma for school. Anyone else read it? I don’t know if I like it or not. It’s definitely very well-written, but it’s also rather boring  – life in the 17th century seems to consist of going to dinner parties and getting married?

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A bunch of other butterflies and moths and bugs came to the zinnia patch as well. 😀

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Guess what? You know how I mentioned we might turn the Cedar House into an Airbnb? Well if we do, and we probably will, my parents are thinking they’ll let me be in charge of it! I am SO excited. That means I’ll get to decorate it, clean it, and add all sorts of fun touches for the customers – eek! 🙂

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I think I found a new favorite word – to say, at least: verisimiltudinous. ISN’T IT GREAT? XD

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Carmen got a cat laser toy for her birthday and Tom (one of our cats) LOVES it. Mom says she feels sorry for him because there’s not actually anything to catch. XD

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Fall Forests & Fields

I took these pictures at my grandparents’ woods which are lovely and gold in the autumn. And the light… ♥

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Ahh, mushrooms. I love taking pictures of them and drawing them, but I don’t like eating them, heh heh. I used to absolutely despise them but I don’t mind them as much now – at least raw is okay.

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Speaking of food, I’m not a picky eater, but I think two of my least favorite foods are black walnuts and goat cheese. They both taste so pungent and strange, and I think goat cheese tastes like goats smell. SORRY. BUT IT DOES.

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This one kind of looks like an art prompt, doesn’t it?

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I took this picture when we were having a Nature Study on hickory trees with our friends and went to search for hickory nuts afterward. I LOVE the lighting. 🙂

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I rather like how you can see two pictures at once here.

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Bittersweet berries are beautiful! There’s a huge vine of it up the hill from our (current) house.

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My friend and I randomly did a photoshoot after church one day when I had my camera along anyway. I won’t put the pictures of her on here in case she doesn’t want me to, but here’s one of the pictures she took of me. 🙂

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The maple tree outside our church is AMAZING in the fall!

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Ooh yes, I really like this one. I edited it quite a lot to make the chopper and wagon into silhouettes, but I love how it turned out!

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Here’s a kind of similar picture. I took this right before we went on the nature walk: one of us spotted a deer on the hill and it walked right along the top so you could see its silhouette. Doesn’t it look neat?

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My siblings put colored lights around the trampoline a while back and they look AMAZING at night! And as bokeh and light painting photos. 🙂

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I’ve also been reading a phenomenal book called Extreme Devotion. It’s a daily devotional, but I’m just reading it as a normal book because it’s composed of many short, very inspiring stories from Voice of the Martrys. One of my favorite quotes from it so far is this:

God, I do not ask You to make my life easy; I do ask You to make me strong.

– From a Jewish child, in a note found in the rubble of a Jewish ghetto in Poland after it was bombed by the Nazis

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AHH THIS PICTURE. Doesn’t it look so warm and bright and sunny? ♥ It makes me happy just to look at it. Actually lots of things make me happy just to look at them. 😛

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Have you ever exploded Ivory soap? If you haven’t you should – it is SO fun! All you have to do is take a bar of Ivory soap (only the Ivory brand will work) and microwave it for a while until you see it start puffing up like a marshmallow. It’s so weird and neat. I did this one day with Carmen when she was bored. 😉

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And now let us end with a picture of three of our adorable bunnies. 😀 ♥ I haven’t posted much about them lately, huh? Probably because we don’t take many pictures of them in the winter when it’s cold and gray. Hopefully I can do another photoshoot soon, when it warms up. 🙂

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And there you have it! One long and random post. XD I finally cleaned up at least SOME of the leftover pictures, which feels great. I still have plenty left, though, so be on the lookout for another Etcetera post soon!

Which picture or topic was your favorite? Do you have the same problem of taking too many photos to keep up with? Are you enjoying winter or ready for it to be over?

 ***Allison***

~ Hello, 2018 ~

It is 2018. IT IS 2018!

Surprisingly, it feels right to say that. I’m usually amazed that the next year has come so fast, and I sort of am this year as well, but it doesn’t feel as weird as usual. 2018 doesn’t seem that strange to type or write, it feels good.

But before I delve into this new year, I wanted to recap the last. So here you go! 2017 in review.

Guys this has been quite the year…

~ Highlights of 2017 ~

  • We bought a new farm.
  • I started a new Etsy shop.
  • I reached over 3,000 followers on my blog.
  • I started my last year of school!
  • I took hundreds (probably over a thousand) photos, and better learned how to use my DSLR. You can find a lot of my favorite pictures from this year here, here, and here.)
  • I made so much art.
  • I (and my friends, of course) deepened friendships both in real life and through blogging. ♥ I especially enjoyed getting to know my blogging friends better – you guys are the BEST, and I love emailing/commenting/writing to you and reading your amazing posts!
  • My siblings and I raised and sold adorable baby bunnies.
  • My family went on trips to Assateague, Chincoteague, and Amelia Island. 😀
  • I played piano for church!
  • We went camping with family.
  • We creamed 150 quarts of corn. O.o
  • We watched the solar eclipse!
  • And so many more memories. ♥

I learned a lot this year, and I feel like God grew me as well (although not in size – I think I’m about done growing now XD). More and more often I found myself stepping back from the moment and seeing the big picture and the small blessings, and realizing that almost every worry loses its urgency and importance in light of eternity.

Ahem. Anyway, before we move on to the goals/resolutions, we must have the obligatory stats, right? XD

~ 2017 Stats ~

stats 2017

  • Views: 50,174
  • Visitors: 16,171
  • Likes: 10,656
  • Comments: 8,958
  • Total Posts (over all years): 456

~ Popular Posts from 2017 ~

So those are some of you guys’ favorite posts… here are some of my favorite posts. Actually these are just the posts with some of my favorite photos from 2017 in them. 😉

~ Best Photography Posts of 2017 ~

  • Summer 2017: basically summer memories + a selection of summer’s best pictures.

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  • Bunnies in Autumn: One of my very favorite photoshoots of the entire year! EEEE THEY’RE SO CUTE!

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~ Resolutions ~

And now for last year’s goals… Let’s see how I did.

  • Meet at least one more of my blogger friends. Sort of not really? I got to video chat with one of my friends, which was SO fun, and I saw pictures/videos of many others, but sadly I did not meet any in real life. :/ Oh well, there’s always next year!
  • Grow my Etsy shopIf I was talking about my clay Etsy shop… not exactly. If you’re talking about my new art Etsy shop, yes! (Since I have two sales compared to zero when I started. XD) I think this year was sort of a practice run and I’m looking forward to digging deeper into this business in the coming year.
  • Start a Bible journal and keep it going throughout the year. Check! So far I’m in 1 Samuel, and I’ve hand lettered my favorite verse from all the chapters I’ve read so far. I cannot WAIT to see all the journals when I’m done, and I’m definitely going to continue this goal into 2018.

So what is my New Year’s resolution for 2018? Well, it ties in to one of the most important things I’ve learned this year: I can’t do it.

You know on Disney movies how they’re always like, “Believe in yourself”? That’s true, to a point… but only to a point. I’m not saying self-doubt is good or you should hate yourself – not at all! That’s way too far in the other direction.

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BUT. The thing is, I’m a pretty poor thing to believe in. I’m broken and fallen and weak, and so are we all. But even though I know that, sometimes I forget, and think that I know best instead of God.

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Considering moving and selling the farm and other things that are out of my control has shown me that I just can’t do this on my own. I’m not big enough, not strong enough to change the weather or the timing of plans or… well, anything.

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But see, this is not depressing or sad for me – it’s a relief. Because even though I can’t do it, God can – and he will. Why would I want to believe in myself and my weakness, when I can believe in God and his strength? I wouldn’t. I don’t.

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So one of my “New Year’s resolutions” is to believe less in myself and more in God. I’ll have to put it into practice to even complete it, because I certainly can’t do that on my own!

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So yeah. Those are my thoughts (and some pictures) from this past year.

summer

I can’t wait to see what God will do next year. Eeep, it’s so exciting just thinking about it! Happy New Year’s, guys. I hope it’s the best one so far.

Bring it on, 2018. I can’t do this… but God can.

***Allison***

~Etcetera~

Guys, I have SO many extra photos. And that happens pretty much all the time. So I decided to make a new little series: these “Etcetera” posts will have random photography as well as recent life, thoughts… etc. XD (kind of like monthly wrap-ups, but different). I hope you enjoy reading them!

Now, where to begin? I have SO much to cover. Aha, Maggie is a good subject to start with.

Maggie

I was trying to take a picture of Maggie’s eye but she kept MOVING. XD I did get this one good one, though:

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I also got some other, less close-up shots of her. I just love all of Maggie’s expressions, hee hee. It looks like she’s saying, “Aww, you shouldn’t have,” don’t you think?

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Such a pretty pup. ♥

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It looks like she’s praying. 😛

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Dad just finished combining (harvesting corn) for the year. WOOHOO! Now maybe we can jump in the grain bins

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Mini Sister’s Photoshoot

Speaking of fields, Megan and I (and Maggie) did a little mini photoshoot in the soybean field while it was golden green and brown. Isn’t the lighting AMAZING?

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If you guys like my photography/lifestyle posts, you should totally check out Emmaline Figura’s blogs, Lucillian Photography and Crystal Ice Studio! Her photography is AMAZING – she deserves so many more followers!

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I love this picture, but it sure took a while to clone out the soybean that so rudely butted in front of Megan’s chin. XD Humph, I shouldn’t have said that. Now you’re all probably inspecting Megan’s chin…

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Megan got a few pictures of me but most of them didn’t turn out or I had a weird expression, heh heh. This is probably the best one. Still have a weird expression. XD

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Guess what? My younger brother and I were driving to piano lessons today, and when we got there we found that one of my car’s tires was completely flat. O.o But guess what again? My brother changed it himself, while I was having my lesson! I really want to learn stuff like that – I’m much better at art than mechanics. XD

Sunset Bokeh

The sunset did capture well on my camera, but it did make for some neat silhouettes and bokeh!

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Singing hymns is one of my favorite things at our church. The congregation sings beautifully, and it’s glorious when we do an a capella verse. ♥ I like singing for things like that, but not enough to take voice lessons or anything. I usually just hum and whistle at home. 🙂

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Do you guys have any special plans for Thanksgiving? We’re having three different celebrations because we have a rather large extended family. 😉 Are you traveling? We aren’t – most of our family lives quite close by. But if you are, here’s a tip: salty snacks like chips really take carsickness away. Well, I mean they help if you eat them. They won’t do much good just sitting there by your seat.

Flowers

Dad and the kids always pick out a hanging flower basket for Mom for Mother’s Day, and it lasted all the way into late fall this year! Isn’t it pretty?

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Ugh, I have to write a 15-30 page research paper for school. *Long sigh* At least we’re taking this week off for Thanksgiving!

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We also have a rose bush (well more like a rose vine) by our door, and it’s a weird mix of knockout-type roses and “real” roses, as we like to call them. There are usually only a few “real” roses a year and this was one of them. ♥

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To find the rose you must first get past the thorns. To find the rainbow you must first walk through the storm. Bad things make the good more beautiful. And always remember, my dear, there is beauty even in brokenness.

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GUYS. LOOK AT THIS PHOTO! I just pressed the button and the moth behind just happened to fly in at the right moment. I LOVE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

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Pretty butterflies + pretty zinnias – my photobombing car = a mildly pretty picture.

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The Big Apple

We have one very old apple tree that usually produces nothing but food for worms. XD However, this year it actually grew real apples and they were DELICIOUS! I don’t know what kind they were, but they were stupendous. And I found this one extremely large apple – see? (The one on the right is a more normal-size one.)

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It weighed 15 OUNCES. ALMOST A POUND.

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Golden Garden

These might be some of my favorite pictures ever! I just love the golden lighting so, so much, especially with the golden tones of the flowers. ♥

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Sometimes I feel wise and knowledgeable, and then I wonder if that simply means I still have so much to learn. I guess that happens when you’re a teenager, huh? 😛

(Side note: I rather dislike the word “teenager” for some reason. Don’t exactly know why.) 

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And would you look at all that bokeh? AHHHHH.

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This picture seems relaxing, like you can feel the sun and hear the breeze through the willow branches. 🙂 I can sort of remember planting this willow tree, even though it’s quite a good sized tree now – it’s a curly willow so it grew SUPER fast.

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This isn’t really a garden, but it’s golden. Even dust is beautiful when the sun shines through it.

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I think cameras can make anything beautiful. In fact, here’s a challenge: find three things you think are ugly and try to take a beautiful picture of them.

Etcetera

We also have two black and two English walnut trees in our yard. I strongly dislike the bitter taste of black walnuts, but English walnuts taste great! (They’re the kind you get in stores.) We don’t usually shell these though, because it’s a lot of work for not much result. Have you tried black walnuts?

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This is rather random, but I wanted to take a picture of a begonia blossom from my grandmother’s hanging flower pot because I noticed the beautiful, intricate curlicues in the center of the blossoms. I love the little things like this. 🙂

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I got a picture of my youngest brother pressure-washing one of the wagons. 🙂 His birthday was today, actually! The frame was supposed to be transparent but it’s showing up black here…? I hope it works once I publish the post, but I’m doubtful.

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I like the way shadows look on this barn. 🙂

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And now we have come to the end of this post. Wow, Allison, what a moving conclusion. *clap, clap*

ANYWAY, I hope you enjoyed reading this gathering of orphaned thoughts and photos. 😛 I know it was an enormous post, but I’m only half-sorry because phew, I now have a large chunk of my random photos squared away. XD I don’t think Etcetera posts will usually be this long, though, if I do them in the future. Which category/picture/random thingy was your favorite? Do you think Etcetera posts would make a good series or are they too random and scattered (because I would kind of agree with you on that XD)?

Have a wonderful day, dears, and thanks so much for reading. ♥

***Allison***

3,000 Followers! {Part 1: THANK YOU +Blogging Tips}

GUYS. I NOW HAVE OVER 3,000 FOLLOWERS.

AHHHH HELP I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? WHAT EVEN- Okay, breathe, Allison. Caaaalm yourself.

Ahem. I’m good now.

I honestly don’t know where to start… I guess with the obvious: THANK YOU! You guys make my day so many days with your sweet comments and hilarious chats in the comment section, and I love reading and commenting on your lovely posts too. ♥

I’m really, really glad I started blogging. For me, blogging isn’t a frustrating, stressful chore – it’s something I love to do! So much so, in fact, that I usually don’t have trouble thinking of things to post or posting often enough – the harder thing is not letting blogging take over my life. XD

My favorite part about blogging is, by far, the people. I love chatting with and getting to know you guys through comments, long emails and even longer handwritten letters (my record is 17 pages XD). I have met so many incredible people in these 3+ years that I am proud to call my friends (truly they are, even if I’ve never met them in real life): Charis, Aria, ClaraK. A., Sassafras, Enni, Josie… I could go on and on, but I won’t overwhelm you with links. XD AHH I keep thinking of more people! Anyway, you know who you are: ♥♥♥.

The point is, I’ve absolutely loved blogging so far, and I have you guys to thank for that. ♥ SO THANK YOU. AGAIN.

Alright, now that we’re past the sentimental stuff, let’s get to the other part of the post. 🙂 You may have noticed that the title said something about a Part 1. That’s because…

I’M DOING A GIVEAWAY!

AND A BIG ONE TOO. I’m sooo excited for it and I think you guys will be too, but since it’s going to take quite a while to get the post up and I still haven’t gotten one of the things I ordered, I’m going to do the giveaway post next. In the meantime, I’ll post some hopefully helpful blogging tips and tricks I picked up from my approximately three years of blogging. Yeah, I know, I’m an expert, a veritable blogging veteran. You know I’m being sarcastic, right?

Nope, I’m not a professional blogger and I’m definitely not a famous one or anything, but I guess if you 3,000 of guys liked my blog enough to click follow, I’ve got to be doing something right. Hmm, now to figure out what it is… XD But seriously, what is my trick? I don’t really have one over-arching Blogging Truth actually, except maybe that I try to write posts I would love to read, but maybe these 15 little bits of advice will help. I dunno, let’s give it a try.

 

  1. Running out of space for your pictures? THIS IS A BLOG-SAVER. If your WordPress media space is running out (or already has) when you try to upload your pictures, never fear, my dears! I have come to rescue you. 😛 Simply start a random new blog (like blogtouploadpics.wordpress.com or something), and upload your photos to there. Publish the post, and then just copy and paste the photos from the random blog into the actual post you’re working on. That’s what I’ve been doing for quite a while now and it really works! It’s a little more time consuming than normal, but honestly I don’t think about it much anymore. Also, it’s a good idea to resize your photos before putting them on any blog. They upload much faster and take up a ton less space.DSC_3280 (1280x853)
  2. Benefit your readers. Your goal is to leave the reader with something more than they came with – it can be practical knowledge, inspiration, or even a smile on their face, but make it something.  You have to earn your reader’s patronage, so to speak. Write posts that you want to read, and most likely, your readers will like them too! Another part of this point is posting long enough posts. If you post, like, one picture (like I used to, *cringe*), it’s hardly worth the time for you or your reader.DSC_3330 (1280x853)
  3. Use proper spelling and grammar. This is so important that you’ve probably already heard it about a million times and wonder why I even bother. But seriously, if a blog post goes like this: “hi guys so here i am again sorry for not posting in so long i don’t know what to post lol srsly tho i need ideas anyway i just came back from a exiting day of school yea lol it was great (not) ok bye,” it is VERY unlikely that I’ll follow it, unless the content is superb. But honestly, if the writing is like that, chances are, their content isn’t going to be that great either. See, using proper spelling and grammar shows that you put time and effort into your blog posts, and readers appreciate that. Bad grammar is like having messy hair and wearing sloppy clothes – it just doesn’t make a good impression.DSC_3264 (1280x853)
  4. Your blog design is important. We’ve all heard not to judge a book by its cover, but we do anyway, right? Same with blogs. If you have an ugly background or a cluttered theme, it distracts readers from your post and really just lowers your blog-quality in general. Besides, it’s much more fun to own a clean, pretty website on which to show off your posts. You can use PicMonkey.com, Canva.com, or other online graphic design websites to create headers, buttons, etc. If you’re not into design, there are plenty of bloggers who would be happy to help (like my sister Megan)! This is something I still need to work on. What do you think, should I update my blog design? I think that might be a good idea…DSC_3335 (1280x853)
  5. Skip the apology posts. I know you feel bad for not posting, and that’s definitely understandable, but you really don’t have to do a whole post about how you’re such a bad blogger and then end up by saying you still don’t know what to post. Readers don’t want to read a whole post of “I’m sorry,” they want you to just go ahead and post some good content! Also, here’s a secret: most of the time no one notices your absence, especially if they already follow, like, a hundred other blogs. As hard as it might seem, the blogosphere will survive just fine for a few days, weeks, or months, without you (or me). *Gasp*
  6. You don’t have to have a schedule. This kind of ties into the last point. You don’t have to force yourself to post, say, three times a week, especially if you don’t have anything to post. If you don’t have anything to post, don’t post! (And see tip #10.) Unless you’re a professional blogger who blogs as a job, you don’t have to have a blog schedule. Now true, it’s good to post regularly. Readers likely will lose interest if you post for two days in a row, then next month, then once a week for three weeks, then a year from then… yeah, try to keep your posting pretty consistent, but don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t get around to posting as soon as you’d hoped.DSC_3334 (1280x853)
  7. Thou shall not steal. Plagiarism is a pretty big no-no with bloggers. Do not take content from another blog without asking them first, and even then, be sure to add a link back to the original author. Especially don’t take pictures or writing from someone else and then pass it off as your own work. It’s fine to use pictures from free photo websites like unsplash.com without linking back, but I like to add a link anyway on the rare occasions I use them, just so people know I didn’t take those amazingly perfect pictures myself. XDDSC_3265 (1280x853)
  8. Use lots of photos. Photos are great attention-grabbers. Readers are much more likely to just skim the post if it’s all a huge chunk of writing with no photos in sight to give their eyes a break from all the words. Besides, photos also add beauty and originality to your blog and make wonderful posts on their own. After all, you have the opportunity to take pictures that no one else can! And here’s another little secret: photography posts are probably my favorite kind to read. 😀DSC_3331 (1280x853)
  9. Format your writing. This goes along with the last point. Headings and paragraphs break your writing into manageable chunks that are just more pleasing to a reader’s eye. If you don’t, people are more likely to think, “Wow, I still have to read all that?” and to just skim through. Make use of (but don’t overuse) the Enter key, and use different font sizes, bolding, or italics to separate your writing into slightly more bite-sized pieces rather than an enormous mouthful.DSC_3263 (1280x853)
  10. Don’t beg for followers. Guys, this is honestly a pet peeve of mine. XD Please, please do not beg people to follow your blog. It’s not very considerate of the other person because it’s really hard for them to say no without sounding rude, even if they’d rather not follow your blog. Besides, you might end up with a whole bunch of followers, but none who really like your posts, so what’s the use? I’m not saying you’re a bad person if you do this – in fact, I’ve found at least one of my favorite blogs/bloggers this way – but in general it’s just better blogging etiquette to ask people if they could check out your blog rather than demanding they follow it.DSC_3329 (1280x853)
  11. Make worthwhile posts. Good content is (obviously) the most important thing for your blog. But what does “good content” mean? Unfortunately, I can’t say, because it differs with each reader’s preference. BUT, I think it involves keeping tags, challenges, interviews, and other kinds of abstract posts to a minimum, while focusing on actual, concrete content, like photography, DIY, writing, practical advice, lifestyle, etc. Basically, try to keep your posts original. Tags can be fun to read, but if that’s all you post, they get old really fast. Plus, anyone and everyone can (and does) post tags. Be unique! Post something that not everyone can – post about crafts you’ve made, photos you’ve taken, recipes you love, even your life. DSC_3261 (1280x853)
  12. Don’t know what to post? Look through your recent pictures (this almost always helps me). Post some of your recent writing. Check your stats to see what your most popular posts are, and make more of those. Look at your favorite blogs for inspiration. But if you still don’t know what to post, don’t post. It’s better to post a little less often than to post poor quality posts about nothing.
  13. Format your links. Okay, this is a very minor point, but it rather annoys me. XD When you add a link, check the “Open link in a new window/tab” box. That way when you click on it, it will open a new tab on your computer and you can still see the post you’re reading on your previous tab. So you don’t have to click the back arrow multiple times to get back to the post you were on. I know, such a hardship. XDDSC_3261 (1280x853)
  14. Want more blog traffic? One of the main ways to do this is to comment on other people’s blogs. But be sincere. Please don’t comment just for the purpose of getting the person to check out your blog. If all you provide in a comment is a link to your blog, I’ll most likely delete it. There are so many wonderful people to “meet” out there. Go find someone who loves the same things you do, and chances are, they’ll be interested in your blog too! Also, blog buttons act like mini advertisements for your blog, which is a great way to spread yourself around. Visit my buttons page for more details.
  15. Have fun. This is important. Have fun with your blog and be yourself! Don’t feel like you have to follow a certain formula or blog calendar to be a good blogger. If you have fun writing your posts and let that authentic joy shine through your writing, readers will appreciate that. In fact, maybe that’s my secret. Maybe you guys enjoy my blog (or at least seem to) because I so enjoy writing it. Whatever the reason, I’m so grateful you do read my blog. I couldn’t do it without you. ♥

So there you have it. Fifteen hopefully helpful tips on how to improve your blog, along with some chrysanthemum pictures I took recently. 🙂

And that’s it for today, folks! Thanks for reading (and following)! Did you enjoy this post? Did you find my tips helpful? What are YOUR tips for blogging? Also, are you looking forward to my giveaway? I’M SO EXCITED.

***Allison***

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Bunnies in Autumn

EXTREME CUTENESS ALERT: If you are not able to cope with impossibly adorable animals, perhaps you should skip this post.

Okay, everyone’s still here. Good. BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO CUTE TO MISS, EEP! This is definitely my favorite bunny photoshoot I’ve ever done and it turned out gorgeous, if I do say so myself! 😀 Special thanks to my sister Megan who posed and calmed the bunnies throughout this traumatizing time of sitting on white foamboard and being bombarded by flowers and shot by cameras.

And now let’s just get to the pictures. I CAN’T WAIT ANY LONGER. (Actually I can wait long enough to give you a warning that there will probably be a lot of caps in this post. Obviously.)

Let’s start with the one and only Olaf. Olaf’s prop was a rosebud from our bush, and it was perfect! Also sorry for all the weird different shades of white in the backgrounds. The original pictures were rather bluish and they were hard to adjust properly since Olaf’s a different color of white. :/ Anyway, just ignore that part and hopefully enjoy them anyway.

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Wait. That… wasn’t a rabbit. Oh well.

I dub thee, Princess Olaf. (Yes, Olaf is a girl. We thought she was a boy and had already named her by the time we figured out that the seller had given us the wrong one. XD)

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BWAHAHAHA isn’t this picture hilarious? Olaf kept winking for some reason.

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AGAIN WITH THE WINK.

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Ugh the white is so off on this one but I love it otherwise! Isn’t it so pretty?

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And now for my dear fluffy Willow. She actually had recently gotten a trim when I took these pictures so she’s not as fluffy as normal. Also Willow gets more pictures because I didn’t need to edit them as much, heh heh. AND BECAUSE SHE’S FLUFFY.

Here we have a behind-the-scenes picture. My little sister Carmen also wanted to help (but just briefly), and poor Willow was a bit befuddled with all the chaos, I think. We chose marigolds because they’re pretty, but I think they may actually be poisonous to rabbits? I’m not sure. Anyway, we made sure she didn’t so much as nibble one, and she’s still alive to tell the story.

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I’m pretty sure that’s an orange teardrop of stress on her cheek.

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Good JOB, Willow! You stayed!

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HA HA. I don’t even know what her expression is but it’s funny.

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THIS. IS. HILARIOUS. It looks like she’s directing a plane coming in for landing or helping someone try to parallel park. “Okay a little to the right. Nope, your other right. There, you got it. Keep on a-coming, beep, beep, beep.”

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We actually did get some good photos in the midst of all the funny ones, though! While it may look like she sat there innocently staring at me, she did not. She took every chance to meander away from where she was supposed to be in hopes of greener grass. (But this grass is pretty green, so…)

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Ha ha, she looks like a scared little fluffy pancake. But a cute one. ♥

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Aww, so sweet! That’s it, your getting the hang of it now, Willow!

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Mmpf, maybe not. SOOOORRY.

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Aww I love this one! Isn’t it so beautiful and adorable? You are a lovely Queen of Summer, Willow.

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Next we have Diamond. I think she’s very noble-looking and handsomely beautiful, don’t you? I love the colors in these pictures!

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Whoops, I think I over-edited this one…

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Next we went to the soybean field, which is mostly featured in these pictures as a yellow glow.

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I LOVE this one!

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Ha ha, her dewlap. XD (A dewlap is the big floppy thingy around their neck that some adult female rabbits have. It’s normal, don’t worry. 😉 )

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Now for Snickers. GUYS, HIS CHUBBY CHEEKS HELP ME. Is he not the cutest?

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AHHH THIS PICTURE THOUGH.

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I LOVE HIS SQUISHY FACE.

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And lastly but not leastly, a picture of the three compadres, Diamond, Olaf, and Lily. They are similar breeds (Diamond’s a Silver Fox and the other two are New Zealands), but they’re different colors, which makes for a lovely group shot. (And again I have kind of a weird white balance thing going on. Sorry ’bout that!)

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Lily: Let me just move up a little bit so you can see me better. Is this a good angle?

Olaf: Mmph. You’re squishing me.

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In which three frightened rabbits cower under the… oh, it’s just a camera.

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HA HA WHAT IS UP WITH THE WINKING AGAIN, OLAF?! XD It cracks me up.

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And that’s about it! I took tons more photos than that but those were the best. What did you think, guys? Guys? Oh dear, perhaps that was a little too much cuteness for one post…

If anyone survived, which bunny’s shoot was your favorite?

Thanks so much for reading, my dears, and have a wonderful day!

***Allison***

P. S. OOPS. Nearly forgot about the Caption It contest! Here’s the photo:

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And my favorite caption was by Zielle.

Maggie: Wait, wait, I think I got it! I can wink!
Allison: That’s blinking, Maggie.

HA HA IT’S PERFECT! Thanks, Zielle, and everyone else who participated! I loved reading your captions.