Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fantasy Art: Woodland Fantasy

I completed the first composite art piece in my Woodland Fantasy Series. This piece is titled 'The Summons'. I chose this name because Mother Nature is calling her sprites, Autumn, Summer and Spring to join her in awaiting the coming of Winter. This art piece combines four different photographs. Because this artwork will be printed in an 11x14 print I am showing both the full image and a zoom so you can get a better idea how it will look printed. When you click on each they will show larger and the zooms will show as they will print.

The Summons 1
Original composite photograph no special image or digital effects added.
Photographic Print with no special effects
Zoom of center section so you can see what it will look like printed.
Although I do love the way it turned out, I couldn't resist adding a few special effects. The only problem is now I am not sure which I want to print first.

The Summons 2
For this one I applied special effects to deepen the tone and give it more of a painted look.
Full image

Zoom of The Summons 2

The Summons 3
 Here I was going for an even greater fantasy feel.
It is really hard to see the beauty of this one at such a reduced size.

Zoom of The Summons 3, click to enlarge and see this as it will appear printed.

I would love to hear what you think of this art piece and which you like best.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Art, Improving the Quality of Life

I am sharing this post both here and on my Sioux Falls Photo blog.

It is widely accepted that art enriches both the lives of the artist and the lives of those that are exposed to the art.
  • Imagine if you would slipping away from the noise of the city and the demands of everyday life to spend a long lunch in quiet solitude, meditating or just contemplating the beauty around you. 
  • Imagine the sense of accomplishment in learning a new skill. 
  • Imagine the joy and laughter that can be found in listening to a musical or theatrical performance. 
  • Imagine the pride and boost in self esteem of a child returning from their first time at camp. 
Music, poetry/literature, visual and preforming arts all provide both the artist and the individual exposed to the art with a means of emotional release and enrichment, which in turn improves the overall quality of life for both. 

As one of the top 100 places to live (according to RelocateAmerica) and 2nd on Forbes' list of best places for business and careers Sioux Falls obviously understands that lives are enriched through exposure to all forms of artistic endeavors.  A cursory look at the many cultural and artistic attractions makes it is easy to see the community's drive for artistic excellence. Yet since the closing of the Horse Barn Arts Center earlier this year venues for emerging artists are virtually non existent.

To meet this need The Retreat at Pointer's Ridge a non-profit arts organization is proposing the development of the regions first artist's retreat. "The Retreat at Pointer's Ridge offers a unique gathering place designed to stimulate imagination for individuals and organizations seeking to improve outcomes in life, health and commerce through artistic expression" *
This river creates one border of the property
Today I had the privilege of touring the proposed site for the retreat which is located less than fifteen minutes north of Sioux Falls. It was very exciting to see the potential this site has to offer. Nestled in a wooded area adjacent to the river this location offers a peaceful setting away from the distractions of the city in which to pursue and develop artistic talents. This former Jaycee Camp although overgrown and run down still holds a great amount of charm, beauty and potential.
Here is the A-frame and a view of the cabins, behind which are the woods.
With the renovation of the existing facilities the retreat will have eight cabins for overnight stays, an A-frame with loft and a large central lodge with fireplace, piano, restrooms, showers and a commercial kitchen as well as other amenities. In addition to these some of the improvements they hope to add are a contemplation garden, hiking trails, outdoor fire pit and playground.
Just past the cabins and to the right of the central meeting hall is this small playground area

Although they look small the cabins will easily sleep 4 to 6 campers
These photos show only a small portion of the 23 acre site which sits on a gently slopping hillside. I was happy to hear that there are plans to restore the many wall panels in the main lodge which contain artwork by staff and visitors from the 30 years it was in operation by the Jaycee's. Unfortunately I didn't take my tripod with me so the photos I took inside the lodge were blurry.  To learn more about the vision and plans for the artist's retreat please visit The Retreat at Pointer's Ridge on Facebook.

* Excerpt from The Retreat at Pointer's Ridge mission statement.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Family Recipes: Mango Salsa

In all my talk of preserving special family memories I almost forgot one of the greatest treasures that are passed down from one generation to the next. RECIPES!

I would like to write out the recipes for dishes that were taught to me by my Grandmother and my Papi, but there is a problem. I was taught to make the dishes by taste and not with exact amounts of different ingredients. So Today I am going to try to share with you the recipe for Mango Salsa my Papi taught me to make. If you try it let me know how you like it.


Fresh ingredients make the best salsa. Here is a list of what I used today:
3 Roma tomatoes
3 Habanero peppers
3 Serrano medium sized peppers
1 Red Fresno pepper
( These peppers are all hot and will make a fiery hot salsa, you can use milder peppers for a milder salsa. Click here for a visual guide for peppers)
1 ripe Mango
1 Medium yellow onion
2 8oz cans tomato sauce
12 oz apple juice (My Papi uses beer, water or fruit juice it just depends on his mood and what is available)
Cilantro (about 1 inch diameter hand full, with 3/4 of the stems removed)
Cumin (about 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons)
Garlic (fresh is preferred but I was out so I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder)
Salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Finely dice or chop the onion and peppers and place in large mixing bowl. You can do this in a food processor or blender or use a vegetable chopper. I prefer my salsa chunky so use the vegetable chopper as it doesn't chop as fine as the others. DO NOT hold and chop the peppers as they will cause your skin to burn.

Peal and cut mango into small chunks. Place tomato sauce, apple juice (or other liquid) and the mango chunks in blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Add Cilantro, cumin, garlic salt and half of the chopped peppers. Process again until smooth, then pour back into large mixing bowl with the remainder of the chopped onion and peppers. For chunky salsa, finely chop the tomatoes and add them to the salsa. If you prefer smooth salsa add the chopped tomatoes in to the blender at the same time as the spices. Ladle salsa into jars and chill. 

Walla! Mango Salsa!
Sorry this picture isn't to great, taken with my cell phone
Does your family pass down special recipes?
Has your family put together their own recipe book?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Self Empowerment Through Inspirational Quotes


I was looking for an inspirational saying for today and came across this quote on a  great blog. One of my personal sayings is 'hold on to hope, for in hope anything is possible'.  I believe self empowerment is vital to individual fulfillment and happiness, and the Warrior Mind Coach definitely understands how to achieve self empowerment. The blog post not only contains 40 great inspirational quotes like the one featured here but goes into detail on how they can be used to promote self empowerment.

May your hopes be realized and then some.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Woodland Fantasy Project

Today turned out to be the perfect day to shoot the photos for my woodland fantasy project. I want to thank Mother Nature and her woodland sprites, Spring, Summer and Autumn for letting me photograph them. Here is a sneak peak at some of the photos for the project.



Oh I can't forget a big thank you to little K for being such a good sport!
I am anxious to get to work sorting through the 800 photographs for just the right ones to create the woodland fantasy multiplicities.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview: Anna Deskins, Childrens Book Author

Today I would like to share with you an interview with Anna Deskins, who is the author of a newly released children's book.

Book Cover 'The Adventures of Smitty'
Nita: Anna your children's book, The Adventures of Smitty looks magically. Tell us a little about it and what do you think makes it so special.

Anna: It's the story of a magical island of little creatures called Smilies and the mischievous little main character, Smitty. He's such a naughty boy. Haha!  All the moms and kids I've shared it with have been giving me such a wonderful reaction. I cannot believe it.  I have to tell you how excited I am to finally have a life-long dream come true. Writing The Adventures of Smitty was really about finding a story that I would want to read to my children at night. It has to be exciting but not scary so that my two daughters can go to sleep.  Basically, I was looking for that perfect blend to read to my kids at night and decided, "Why not try writing my own?"

We've had a lot of changes in our life recently, so I want to make sure that when I put my daughters to sleep that they feel safe.  I have short chapters because I know how busy we moms are but if you can just sacrifice 5 minutes at night reading to your kids, it makes a world of difference.  Your kids will never forget it. And although we're running around the whirlwind of life, our kids grow up so fast, and that time that we'd rather finish watching what happened in our favorite soap opera instead of reading to our kids will never come again.  I hope that The Adventures of Smitty and books like it help moms do exactly that.


Nita: I love the idea that this week your book is only 99 cents. Being recently divorced, can you tell us how have you been able to continue writing while at the same time going through such a major change?

Anna: Yes, it is by far one of the most challenging points in my life. To see a marriage you thought would last forever to not last forever was difficult for the two of us. I really learned a lot about myself and most importantly, it's brought me closer to my daughters.  I think that's what really motivated me to finish this children's book no matter what. When you're going through changes in your life like this, you need something to hold on to. There's a part of you that wants to prove that you can make it, that you will be a success even if it's not with the partner you originally imagined building a life with.  I had to keep writing, for my kids. I want to show them that they have to keep strong, no matter what.

We as women, as moms really need to stick together to support each other and our dreams. We're living in an age when I think we're finally realizing, although we want love, the men in our life aren't the answer to everything. We have to stand up on our own two feet and keep going. True love will happen, but until then, we have to keep moving forward. Our children depend on us and we depend on us.


Nita: In addition to being a children's book author, you're also a small business owner. How do you juggle taking care of two daughters and at the same time running a business?

Anna: Yes, I am a fashion designer and have a retail store. Any type of creativity is what I'm passionate about. That's why writing The Adventures of Smitty was so important to me.  Let me tell you, running a small business in today's economy isn't easy especially when raising two girls at the same time. But somehow, it seems someone's watching over me because my dreams are coming true no matter what. To have that many moms glowing about my children's book, means so much to me. And I know my girls are proud.

Nita: When do you ever have time to write?

Anna: You mean, in between laundry, running a business, chasing my girls around the house, cleaning the house, and flying back and forth from Miami to New York? Haha? That's one thing I've learned, when you really want to do something, you find a way.  Things fall into place if you just go for it and that's what I want to encourage all the moms who are reading this right now. Whatever your goal is, you can do it. Don't let the challenges in your personal life stop you from going for your dreams.  Just go for it and it's almost magical how things fall into place.


Nita: Where can we get a copy of "The Adventures of Smitty"?

Anna: Right now, it's available online by going to: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/94655 You can also visit my website:http://www.AnnaDeskins.com where you can read more about my writing process, my recommendations for other books and my own adventures in Mommyhood.

I'm so grateful for your support and the support I'm getting from so many wonderful moms who dream of writing children's books one day too.  Writing The Adventures of Smitty has been such an emotional experience for me, a true journey as I was going through so many changes while writing it.  It's truly been a blessing in my life.  It, along with my daughters, and that guy upstairs have really pulled me through a challenging time.

Nita: Anna, thank you for sharing a bit about yourself and your book with us. I am looking forward to reading The Adventures of Smitty and wish the best for you and your girls. To all with little kids and grand-kids I hope you will check out Anna's book. If we can support a fellow mom by getting a copy of The Adventures of Smitty today, and inspire the children in our lives to love reading how great is that?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Preserving Vacation Memories

I am a photo junky, that is right I can never seem to get enough of taking photos. This does at times present a dilemma. Especially when it comes to deciding which vacation photos will get printed and which will only be preserved digitally. Sorting through all the photos can take a bit of time, but it is a great opportunity to relive fun family adventures.

Last month we took two fun mini vacations. During our one day trip to the zoo I took over 300 photos and my daughter took another 200. I posted just a few of the photos in my Test Run post.  Using eighteen of our favorite photos from the trip I put together this memory photo to hang on the family memory wall.


Each of the kids will pick out up to twenty five of their favorite photos so that we can do memory photos for them to put in their scrapbooks.