Friday, December 31, 2010

Hours to midnight

Hours to Midnight
by Chelsea Chamness

2010, goodbye my friend,
you left us rather fast.
Bittersweet is your retreat,
another year has past.

New days await as we create
new plans and goals and lists.
Full of steam and hopeful dreams
for a year of joy and bliss.
Fingers crossed as away we toss
what doesn't help us grow.
A farewell wave as we brave
the new year's ebb and flow.
As we embark on this new start
Remember all the smiles.
Friends around and love abound
Forget not the traveled miles.
Do not erase the hard days faced
throughout this recent year.
Learn and take from your mistakes
with optimistic cheer.
2010, goodbye my friend,
midnight is so close.
January first we'll be immersed
in a celebratory toast.

Happy New Years to everyone! ♥

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Life is Sweet

If you know me, you know I love to bake. I may not have mastered the skill of beautifully decorated cakes, or fancy French desserts, or even conquered the entire contents of Martha Stewart's Cupcake or Cookie cookbooks. But what I can and love to do is make desserts that taste good. Simple, yummy sweets that I can share with others. The holiday season gives me extra opportunities to don one of my cute aprons and measure, stir, mix, bake, decorate, eat, and my favorite part, passing them on to make someone's day a little bit sweeter.

This year I decorated a massive amount of sugar cookies in the shapes of ornaments, candy canes, trees and mittens. I made Aunt Carol's candy bar fudge - fudge topped with caramel, peanuts and melted chocolate. Homemade caramels dipped in semi-sweet chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt, chocolate dipped marshmallows, and toffee. Is your mouth watering? Because mine is!

As 2010 comes to a close, these are the sweet moments from the year that I never want to forget:
♥ The party to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of my transplant.
♥ The trip to LaPaz, Mexico with Brent's family.
♥ Entering my first ever photo contest and receiving 4 honorable mentions.
♥ Bryan and Risha's breathtaking Indian wedding at the Nixon library in Yorba Linda, CA
♥ My cousin Emily's high school graduation.
♥ Rediscovering my passion for photography, Shutter Sisters, and Project 365.
♥ Family reunion trip to Granby, CO.
♥ Giants & Dodgers game.
♥ John and Jocelyn's wedding at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, CA
♥ Brent and my 2 year anniversary.
♥ Tom Petty Concert.
♥ Jack Johnson Concert.
♥ Photo classes "Picture Fall" and "Picture the Holidays".
♥ PCRF Bid for the Kids fundraiser.
♥ Combined birthday celebration for me and my mom.
♥ So You Think You Can Dance live tour show, third year in a row!

{Day 23 Picture the Holidays - Life is Sweet}
Shoot a sweet treat today that you long to share or savor
Post inspired by Reverb 10

♥♥ What sweet moments do you want to remember
as we move forward into the new year?♥♥

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Calm After the Storm

After record rainfall for 6 days, Southern California has had a brief reprieve until another storm is expected to hit. As we received half of the annual rainfall during those 6 days, the news was dotted with stories of mudslides and floods in surrounding cities. I uncovered my rainboots, and my scarves and coats made a daily appearance.
In Del Mar for a bridal shower the Wednesday before Christmas, it was raining hard while we were inside for the party. But when it was over, we walked outside to the first break in the rain. Everything still soaking wet and decorated by water droplets, puddles just begging to be splashed through, and a quiet that comes only after such a storm. Animals emerge from their shelter, and nature takes a breath of fresh air as it can finally take a break from the incessant wetness. The air feels and smells cleaner, and people peek out of their houses wondering if it is finally safe to leave without an umbrella. Before life in Southern California returns to it's normal sunshine and easy living, this is the calm before the storm.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lights Galore

The lights of the season are so enchanting. Lights on the tree. Hanukkah candles. Decorations on the outside and inside of houses. Snowmen and reindeer, candy canes and more. Growing up, one of my favorite traditions during the holidays was taking a drive through neighborhoods to ooh and ahh over the lights displays. This has not changed. To me, the lights are such an integral part of the season and as soon I start to see them displayed, the gears in my click from the last season to the next. Festive and beautiful, they have proved to be very fun photographic subjects!
{Day 10 Picture the Holidays - Twinkle Twinkle}
Twinkle lights, fantasy, wishing and whimsy - all part of the season.
Capture something that sparkles today.
{Day 11 Picture the Holidays - Shaping Up}
Pay attention to the shapes of things today...see if you can find
something that resembles something else today.
{Day 16 Picture the Holidays - The Season of Lights}
They call it the season of lights for a reason and there are
ample opportunities to shoot them.
{Day 17 Picture the Holidays - Warm Glow}
Capture the glow of a candle to signify what is meaningful in your life. Make a wish, set an intension, pray, meditate and shoot.
{Day 18 Picture the Holidays - Recharge}
Take a break when you need it, relax and take a deep breath.
Find what it is you need to recharge.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Season of Surprise

I love the element of surprise during the holiday season. Everyone hush-hush about the gifts, the look on someone's face when they open your gifts, the words and love we are graced with from loved ones, even the change in weather. This nonstop rain in southern California sure has been a surprise...a wonderful surprise!! I hope your December has been filled with surprises, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years....!
{Picture the Holidays - Day 9: It's a Sign}
Prompt: Signs can warn us, lead us, remind us or even state the obvious. What the signs really say is up to us! Capture those words around you today.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Beautifully Different

{Picture the Holidays - Day 8: Reflecting on the Season}
Prompt: Capture a Reflection today
Sugar cookies and icing from scratch...yum! And so fun and festive to decorate Christmas cookies. Does it look like real trees on a real lake? Ha :)

{Reverb 10 - Day 8: Beautifully Different}
Prompt: Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up.

I would have to say what makes me unique is my health history and the strength I have gained as a result. I am able to look at life through the lens of a second chance. Being diagnosed with Leukemia and having my teenage years ripped out from under my feet was so unexpected and seemingly impossible, but here I am today, 10 years later. I cannot imagine my life without that experience...lacking certain relationships, milestone events and the strength I carry with me day to day. I hope to use my story as a pathway for encouragement for current cancer patients, showing them that they too are beautifully different as a result of their battle. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, but this I feel is what makes me unique.


{Picture the Holidays - Day 7: Express Yourself}
How are you feeling today? What is your body saying? Your mind?
Now interpret those feelings into a photo.
Overflowing. I saw this fountain and it perfectly encapsulated my feelings. Overflowing with thoughts, ideas, creativity, and things to do!

{Reverb 10 - Day 7: Community}
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise in 2010?

I have found an incredible community through Shutter Sisters, an online community of women who share my love and passion for photographer. There are daily postings of inspiring photos and words, and encourages creativity, trying new photographic tricks and new ways of approaching a photo. I bought their book, an extension of what is shared on their blog, and they also led to me to find Project 365 - taking photos every day for one year. Everyone I have met has been so friendly, helpful and really given me that feeling of community. It led me to find Tracey Clark's online photo classes Picture Fall and Picture the Holidays. Stumbling upon this community is what reignited the flame for my love of photography, and really encouraged me to practice daily. I can truly say it has enriched my life, and I will continue involving myself in this community as we enter 2011.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Every Little Thing

{Picture the Holidays - Day 6: Every Little Thing}
Admire the tiny wonders around you.
Every day I am in awe of the beautiful details in nature. A drop of dew on a blade of grass. The gradation of color in the petal of a rose. The repetition, the starkness, the color, or lack thereof. The curls of the fern in front of the house are so beautiful, simple in shape yet complex in form. The beauty in nature can often be overlooked or taken for granted, but when fully appreciated, it is just one more little thing that makes life grand.

{Reverb 10 - Day 6: Make}
What was the last thing you made?

The last thing I made was personalized place cards for Thanksgiving. Using my favorite photos from Fall, I chose the photo I thought each person (9 total) would like best, added their name, then printed them onto cardstock. I then wrote a personalized message inside, letting each person know how thankful I am they are in my life. I got a lot of compliments, and they were a great way to actually make something with the massive amounts of photos I have!! I think this may become a yearly tradition.

Admiring the View

{Picture the Holidays - Day 5: The View From Here }
Get outside and capture what mother nature has dished up today.
Sometimes I feel like those of us living in California are frozen in time. While other areas of the country are experiencing a shift in the weather, drastically visible changes in the seasons, etc., the west coast is just trying to play catch up. While I was seeing other photographers' photos of snow and a visible shift toward winter, the leaves here in town were finally boasting vibrant colors and collecting in piles below the trees. I am not complaining by any means, on the contrary, I feel that I am that much more appreciative for the tiny changes I see, and it is exciting to seek them out!

{Reverb 10 - Day 5: Let Go}
What or whom did you let go of this year?
In November we were forced to put our cat Jazz to sleep to spare him from kidney failure after a full, happy 18 years. Although he was owned by my aunt/uncle/cousin, not me, Jazz was my cuddle buddy whenever I visited their house. He always remembered me, and as soon as I found a place to sit, he would be on my lap rubbing against my hand for attention. When I moved into their house 2 years ago, he spent countless hours keeping me company after my knee surgery, curled up in the crook of my arm always seeking and giving love. Letting go was the right thing to do, but we lost a member of our family. I miss the soft white fur, the purring against my chest, the loverubs against my hand, and the high-pitched meows. Goodbye, sweet sweet Jazz.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Cupcake and Solitude

To celebrate National Cupcake Day, I baked spice cupcakes with apple cider buttercream. I had the house to myself tonight, every once in awhile having alone time is just what I need, especially when things get a little hectic!
I hope you are able to take a little time out for just you today.

The Wonderful World

{Picture the Holidays - Day 4: You Hold the Key}
Don't let the craze get the best of you...pull out your magic remedy when you need it most.

A little solo holiday shopping not only calms me down, allowing me to let my mind wander as I browse the stores, but also love the feeling of carefully choosing special gifts for the people I care about!

{Reverb 10 - Day 4: Wonder}
How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Wonder - (noun) awe, admiration, fascination, surprise, astonishment, stupefaction, amazement, spectacle, beauty.

2010 is the year I dedicated myself to photography. Taking photos daily, I created a sense of wonder through my photos. By changing the way I look at every little detail around me, I was able to seek out expected and unexpected beauty everywhere, seeing how truly wonderful the world around us is.

Love is all you Need

{Picture the Holidays - Day 3: All You Need is Love}
Today focus on love. Feel it. Be it. Capture it. Share it.
It seems that love is all around during the holidays. We spend time with our loved ones, show how much we care, extend acts of kinds and generosity, and even spread love to those less fortunate whom we don't even know. If only we could show the love year 'round!

{Reverb 10 - Day 3: Moment}
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

I'm standing on the edge of the 60 ft. yacht in La Paz, Mexico. Cutting through the crystal clear aqua-colored water with dolphins playing in the waves alongside the boat. They dive in and out of the water, their dark grey skin as shiny as the water, the bright sun bounces off like glitter. The boat jumps up and down and I think how it's a good thing I took my motion sickness pills. I look up at the sky, not a cloud in sight, and then I close my eyes and breathe in the fresh, salty ocean air. These are the moments I feel lucky be alive, experiencing the beauty the world has to offer.


{Picture the Holidays - Day 2: Reframing the Season}
The frenzy of the season can often get the best of us, use a literal frame to capture a certain state of mind.
Reminding myself to simply put one foot in front of the other.

{Reverb 10 - Day 2: Writing}
What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing? And can you eliminate it?

I love to write. The expression "a photo is worth a thousand words" is true in many ways, yes...often times a photo needs nothing but itself to tell a story or coerce emotion from the viewer. But I often enjoy the way words can compliment a photo and vice-versa. I have always been able to express myself better through writing over speaking, and I love the feeling of the flow of thoughts as they move from my mind onto the page. Pen & paper or tap-tap-tapping on the computer keys, it doesn't matter. I would love to write down every thought, the ways I occupy my time, and a book of my life story. But things get in the way. To-do lists, appointments, feelings of exhaustion or lack of motivation. Days and events that seem so huge and important at the time can easily be forgotten as the weeks so quickly slip away. Using writing to forever document these moments and my feelings are important in remember the journey of my life. This has been a tough couple of years, but things will improve-they have to-and I will regain the state I wish my life to be in. But when I am there, it is important to remember the journey, how far I have come. I feel like I am building a brick wall. Layering my experience and my feelings on top of each other, adding the good and the bad, reinforcing the weak spots, and in the end, I will have a strong wall. I would not be who I am today without my past. I would not be as strong in facing my current medical issues had I never faced the diagnosis of cancer and the treatment that followed. Those days seemed near impossible at the time, as do some of my days during these past two years. But just as I overcame those challenges, I will also face the current roadblocks. I am using my writing as a way to remind myself of these, and to also remind myself there are many, many wonderful things and experiences now amongst the tough ones. My incredible family, the unfailing love of my boyfriend, the newfound passion and joy from my photography...


During December I am taking on two creative challenges. After enjoying Tracey Clark's Picture Fall photo class so much, I am taking her Picture the Holidays class. The second is Reverb 10, in their words it is a way to "Reflect on this year and manifest what's next."

{Picture the Holidays - Day 1: Holding onto Gratitude}
Take a few minutes to focus on some of the things you are grateful for.
Hugs and kisses. I wanted this photo to represent love...feeling grateful for all the love and support in my life. Even though Thanksgiving is behind us, but I am taking the full holiday season to celebrate and appreciate all that I am so lucky to have.

{Reverb 10 - Day 1: One Word}
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you are choosing that word. Now imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

To describe this year in one word I would have to say shift. A shift in my passions and what are important to me. Shifting from feeling completely hopeless and defeated from my back pain and inability to control things, to realizing there is light ahead. A shift in my dreams and what I want in life.

One year from today I hope my word will be embrace. I hope I am able to embrace what it is I want in life and make it happen. Embrace my dreams and make them reality. Embrace the things I am unable to change and accept them for what they are.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pearl and Buns

The weather is changing. We may not have the snow and ice and rain the rest of the country is facing, but the drop in temperature is calling for scarves, boots and coats. Meet Grandma Pearl and Buns the French Bulldog, both greeting the weather in style.
My grandma Pearl is 90 years old going on 30. She is never seen without her rings, bracelets and necklace upon necklace. She has an entire closet bigger than my bedroom, filled with beautiful clothes and jewelry. A New York native, she was steeped in fashion and still exudes elegance and style.
This is Buns. While out Christmas shopping I made a stop at the Pannikin, a local coffee and tea house for a latte. Sitting outside with owner Lance, Buns looked so cute and elegant with the fur collar.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hello December!

December is here, and I am welcoming the holiday spirit in all its glory. Decorating the house always gets me into the mood for Christmas, and makes it feel official. The homey smell of pine. The twinkle of lights. Snowmen, Santas, and snow creatures. Bows, snowflakes, presents and wreaths.

Hello, December!

And now I can check an item off my holiday to-do list!

December "To-Do" List

I had so much fun checking items off my Fall To-Do list that I decided to try for a December/Holiday version. Here is what I have:

Decorate the house
Bake Chex Mix
Decorate sugar cookies
Make fudge
Try a new cookie recipe
Cut paper snowflakes
Wrap as many presents as possible!
Buy a new scarf
Listen to Christmas music (in small doses)
Watch Christmas movies
Drink a peppermint mocha
Drive through neighborhoods to see Christmas decorations
Attend the Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights for the first time
Pick out a Christmas Tree
Complete Tracey Clark's "Picture the Holidays" class

What are some things on your lists?
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