around the house

Flattening the Curve

Like most of you, we are staying home, trying to avoid getting exposed, and only going outside for occasional walks or drives. We are getting into a routine of exercising at home, doing a few clean-out projects, planning and eating meals, keeping track of our supplies, communicating online and by phone with family and friends, watching the news (Lonnie), editing photos and doing genealogy, and streaming shows at night. This whole thing would be so much more difficult in the pre-internet age- there’s lots to be grateful for!


A New Find!

I have had a delightfully busy last few days; my Rapunzel group came to town and we had a wonderful time laughing and talking and eating and drinking and touring Prescott. Unbelievably, I did not take a single photo; there were so many cell phone photos being taken, it seemed like overkill to bring out my big camera.  Before our group toured downtown on Friday, my friend, Nevin, wanted to quickly look through some antique stores to see if she could find a Blue Ridge plate or cup to add to her huge collection.  It was she who got me started on my own collection about twenty years ago, and it was my friend, Joan, who gave me some pieces in a Blue Ridge pattern that I have had such a difficult time finding since then. Blue Ridge dishes (handpainted in the 1930s and 40’s  in Erwin, Tennessee) are usually in a flower pattern- and there are dozens of patterns.  The dishes that my friend, Joan gave me have a barn and an appletree- a much less common pattern called Weathervane and almost impossible to find.  A year or two ago, I had found a platter and was thrilled.

Saturday, I was not looking for myself- just going along with Nevin, when she spotted a whole set for six in the Weathervane pattern. I gasped in astonishment- and bought it on the spot.  Here is a peek into my china cabinet at my new acquisition:

What a perfect memento of a wonderful weekend with my longtime friends!

We’ve got FLOOR!


A casual visitor to my blog might think I’ve been traveling all summer (Jerome, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco), but those were actually just one day visits. Most of my summer has actually been taken up with the FLOOR.

The leak which required our original flooring to be have to be replaced happened in April, and it took until the middle of May to deal with the insurance company, have the cabinets repaired, and decide on the new floor. This could not all be accomplished before our family’s visit- so we had just concrete in the kitchen and dining room while they were here. After they left, we began the process of clearing off the bookshelves and closet floors etc. in preparation for the installation.  It sounds easier than it was, since ALL the floors (except bathrooms) were replaced.

And I am happy to report that the floor is IN!

I’ve spent very little time on photography this summer, alas. And my blog posts for the last 2-3 weeks were written and uploaded a couple weeks in advance to be published automatically by WordPress, due to the fact that our office was dismantled. Things are almost back to normal now, and I should actually have time to take and edit photos.

Can I have an AMEN?!?

Snow Capture

Last week’s snow even caught in the dried weeds on our covered front porch.


A Lensbaby Still

Next week I start an online Lensbaby class through Clickin Moms with Caroline Jensen! I’m beyond excited to learn from this Lensbaby guru (and also from some of the amazing photographers taking the class- Holy Cow!).  I’m taking it “study-along”, meaning I won’t get any feedback except from my classmates, but I will have access to all the class materials and can read the feedback Caroline gives the other students.  We’ve already been given “pre-assignments” well in advance of the class starting, so I already have started learning.

Because I’ll be so involved with the class, it is possible that I’ll be pretty behind in my still life assignments, unless I combine the two (which I may in fact).  But since I often use a lensbaby for my stills, I’m going to try to step outside of my comfort zone and practice outside and with people.

So here is a lensbaby still life of PEONIES (surprise, surprise!) and my chair.



Potting Bench?

Monday night I was inspired by a prompt in Kim Klassen’s Studio to create a still life potting bench . . . of sorts. . . inside. . . in my entry way.  I long ago let go of the idea that all still life photographers just come upon these beautiful vignettes in their houses- well, some do- but most often they are created or styled for the camera.  Since I was avoiding making dinner, I quickly gathered some pots and garden-y props to create a still life. I enjoyed it so much that I kept it up and took even more the next day.

Here is my first photo. If you’ve been to my house, you might recognize the antique dental cabinet.  I had to remove some of the liqueur glasses and little dishes in the cabinets, but missed a few (thank goodness for Photoshop!).  I also added some texture to rough it up a bit.

20150504-MMA_4640_melinda_anderson-EditAnd here are a few other shots from the next morning.  I took more time with these, using a tripod so I could slow my shutter to add more light (it has been dismal and rainy here). I used my lensbaby for the first one and edited them all with one of Kim’s presets for a dark and earthy look.

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Where Ideas Come From

20150420-MMA_3344_melinda_anderson-EditThe above image is the latest of my still life photos for The Studio- a continuation of the One Thing theme.  This time, my one thing is not the subject of my composition, but the background – my walls.   I thought it might be interesting to explain the evolution of the idea and execution of this image.  I’ve read that photographers find their inspiration everywhere- from nature, from music, from paintings, from the color palette in an advertisement- ANYWHERE.

In this case, my idea came from a movie.  We went to see The Woman in Gold with our friends, Debbie and Dale the other night. The movie was a fascinating true story of a woman (played by Helen Mirren) who sued the Austrian government to have them return her family’s paintings (by Gustav Klimt!) which had been stolen by the Nazis and were now “owned” by the Austrian government. No, this photo was not inspired by the Klimt paintings.

In one scene, as I remember, there was, in the background, a painting or photograph of a still life composed of a dry arrangement (wheat?) in front of a two-tone wall. I somehow noted it and then dreamed about trying to recreate that image, using my colorful Arizona walls. That was the beginning of the photograph above.  I took quite a few shots of these dried weeds and flowers in front of my bright walls, gradually moving away from the traditional still life I was envisioning to a textured black and white closeup image which is my favorite. All the photos were taken with my Lensbaby, which I’ve been practicing with every single day for the last 3 weeks.

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Saw this. . .

One of my favorite things about photography is how much I NOTICE now! And it’s contagious- even my husband notices more.  As much as I enjoy creating a still life, the most exciting part of photography for me is when I happen to catch a glimpse of beauty in the every day. Then the challenge is to somehow capture what I saw.  The other day, it was this reflection of a tiny bowl on the black surface of my dad’s dental cabinet.  The Edge 80 was on the camera, so that’s what I used.

20150407-MMA_3002_melinda_andersonI edited the photo in Lightroom, and then I took it into onOne’s Perfect Effects 8 for a couple finishing touches.  I realized recently that I have never really MASTERED this great program (and now there’s a newer version!), so I’ve been playing with it more lately.  I’ve even used it to add textures (you can import them from your hard drive or use the ones within the program).  For this image, I adjusted the color, added a bit of glow to emphasize the reflection, and then added a vignette.


Just Hangin’ Around

The latest Be Still-52 assignment was hanging bottles. Whaaat?  In Kim Klassen’s beautiful vintage home, she hung a bottle with a rose in it from a hook on a door- and it looked perfectly natural- and beautiful. I was running around, hanging my little medicine bottle everywhere- and ended up with a serious case of the giggles. Needless to say, this one did not come naturally to me.  I, perhaps, should have interpreted the challenge more loosely and come up with something more “me”, but, oh well,  I did have some fun with it.


I wonder what the neighbors thought of me hanging this bottle in a tree?

20150110-DSC_0872_melinda_anderson-EditIn case you are wondering, the first image was shot with the Lensbaby Edge 80; the one outside was with my 35mm lens.

Christmas Simple

20141221-DSC_7891_melinda_anderson 20141221-DSC_7882_melinda_anderson 20141221-DSC_7878_melinda_andersonI took the above photos in response to a new BeStill 52 assignment, which was a replay of the previous one- backlight, window, chair.  I went for a pretty minimal composition- and not very Christmas-y, I guess.  Sometimes, I just like things simple!


Christmas Details

I held off posting this today, because we were supposed to get 3-5 inches of snow last night and today- a perfect photo opportunity.  Unfortunately, all we’ve had is rain.

So here are some Christmas details- pinecones on a chair, a tree ornament, and. . . two photos of one of two little ceramic birds on a beautiful ceramic plate/tray, made by the talented Debbie!


Still Life in the Morning

The other morning, I was reading the paper and drinking coffee, when I noticed that the coffee cup and newspaper made a pleasing composition.  I started to pick up my iPhone, but then thought- Hmmm, if I pull the plant over a bit and get some strawberries it will look even better.  I quickly made an arrangement, snapped ONE photo, edited it in Snapseed, uploaded it to instagram, and then continued to drink my coffee and read the newspaper (and ate the strawberries . . .). If only I could have still life composition ideas come to me that easily all the time!

I was about halfway through my coffee, when I thought of getting out my Nikon and taking the photo again.  After all, one of the BeStill 52 prompts was cuppa.  I got out more strawberries and tried to duplicate my iPhone photo- trickier than it sounds, considering focal length, depth of field etc.

So here are some Sunday morning stills, quickly taken.  All have two layers of Kim’s grunge texture added.



And here is the original iPhone photo.

Photo Aug 31, 9 08 00 AMLinking up today with Texture Tuesday.

A Few Random Clicks

Jade plant

jade_layoutSome bottles and jars (note the wizard oil!)


Say cheese!

20140822-DSC_3171_melinda_andersonPhotography seems to run in the family. My earliest memories involve being wakened by the glare of strobe lights as my father filmed every moment of  Christmas morning (perhaps that’s why I avoid having my photo taken to this day). In his retirement years, he took college classes in photography and captured some wonderful photos of my children when they were little. Today’s photo includes his Nikon on the left and my first good camera, an Argus rangefinder (right), as well as a toy camera (middle) which I picked up in an antique store when Joan was visiting.  In the front are two issues of Kodakery magazine from the 1920’s, which I bought in an antique store a few months ago.

Linking up with Friday Finds today.

Kim Klassen dot Com




One Year Ago Today

One year ago today we had our first look at the house that would become our Arizona home!


July 3, 2013 found us looking for a house to buy in Arizona after having bravely sold our California home without knowing for sure where we were going.  We were pretty sure Prescott was the place- we had good friends here, we were were looking for a small town and a simpler lifestyle- but we needed to find the right house! Our realtor wasn’t much help, but our friend Debbie found a house just listed online that seemed to fulfill our requirements (one story, 4 bedrooms, open floor plan, easy maintenance). We got the realtor to get us in- and the rest is history! I knew it was the place when we walked in the door- it just felt like home. We ended up making an offer, but lost out to another buyer. Dejected, we drove back to California without having bought a house and talked about renting until we found the right one.  A few weeks later, the other buyer’s deal fell through, and we got in the car to drive back to Arizona to visit the house again and make an offer. On August 24, we moved in!

Back in California, I spotted this table runner at Pier 1 and bought it for our Arizona home.  I love the Southwest colors and how it looks it with my Trader Joe’s sunflower bouquet.


I took these shots for Be Still 52, Week 7, a lesson on depth of field and a softly focused background.





Hot, Dry, and Windy

Yes, I’m talking about the weather here in Prescott!

Dozens of these (very photogenic) little things blow up to my front door every day.


And now we seem to have a mini- tumbleweed on the front porch settee.

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Bring on the monsoon- we need rain!



I was uninspired yesterday, but was in a photography mood.  I had been intending to photograph some huge leaves that came in a Trader Joe’s bouquet, so set them out and started shooting. When it was time to edit, nothing really appealed to me.  I ended up merging two photos and adding a Flypaper texture to create the image below.  It is nothing like the leafy, green, backlit shot I envisioned, but I like the contrasting shades and textures.


The second photo practically begged to be taken! I was planning to do a photoshoot with an old milk bottle on my dining table (and I sorta did. . .).  But for the first time in this Arizona house, I was captivated by the light! I love the contrast of the light and shadow as the late afternoon/early evening light came pouring through in the sliding glass door. This is why I love photography- it’s those unexpected moments!


Happy With Apps

I’ve become a mad collector of photo apps for my iPhone- it’s amazing how many there are! I think I need to stop until I fully understand the ones I have.


I took a shot of this starfish on my bathroom counter. In Snapseed (my go-to app that I mostly DO understand), I cropped it to a square, sharpened it a bit, converted it to black and white and added a vintage filter, which added some warm tones.  I then added a texture in Mextures and the text in Phonto.  Pretty simple!

I’m linking up with Barb’s App- Happy Wednesday!

Keeping With The Times


My friend and fellow photographer, Carol (, and I have been talking about the use of negative space in our images.  In looking through some still-life photos I took Saturday, I found one that definitely has negative space- more than I usually use in my photos. This was taken in my current home studio- the hall bathroom- that’s a shower curtain in the background!






The Brothers Again

We’re still missing our sweet grandsons a lot!  We’re so grateful for the wonderful visit we had and are already planning our next trip to Yellowstone to visit them. We’ve received two phone calls from 3 year old Henry (one unknown to his mother!), which lets us know he’s still thinking of us.



This old washboard has been with us at every house we’ve owned- always sitting in the garage.  I think we bought it at a garage sale or maybe an antique store and intended to hang it in a laundry room.  I have it by the fireplace in this house, but think we might actually hang it this time.


Edited in Perfect Effects 8


One of the things I love about our new house is our living room/mancave.  We no longer have a formal living room, but instead have an open floor plan with a “great room” (we never call it that)- where we sit by the fire in the evening and watch TV.  It’s designed for comfort and warmth, with recliner couches, a fireplace with a gas log, and a TV. I have added flowers and some decorative touches to dilute its mancave-ness; it suits me as well as the male members of the family.

This photo shows my gerberas in front of a lantern (with a battery operated candle in case of power outages). You can see fireplace bokeh in the background.

25Jan2014-1699-EditTextured with ecru by Kim Klassen.

Little Visitor

This little bird stayed at our sliding glass door for the longest time; I’m not sure if he could see in or was studying his reflection. Eventually, another came around, and they both flew off.

Waiting to see which of my friends will tell me what kind of bird it is. . .


Textured with several textures from Kim Klassen’s waterfront collection.

Lumpy (and bumpy)

I’m having one of those uninspired days today, so I went to Flickr again for inspiration.  One of the challenges was lumpy, so I photographed one of the sea shells my father brought back from the South Pacific during World War II.  I obsessed for awhile over whether this shell was bumpy and not lumpy– but ultimately am just calling it lumpy for the challenge.  Say those two words long enough and they don’t sound like real words anyway!