Thursday, June 30, 2011

Orangevale Farmer's Market

I live in Orangevale, CA. It's one of those unincorporated backwaters of Sacramento County, stuck between the more prestigious zip codes of Fair Oaks, Roseville, and Folsom. Where they have new home developments, manicured lawns, and higher-end retail, we have horse property, farm animals, wild turkeys, dusty roads, and a bit of a reputation for being quirky. I kinda like that about it. We're close to everything but without the burden of having to host any of it. Of course, I'd rather be downtown in a big city, but that's a whole other conversation. As far as areas of Sacraghetto go, it's one of the better ones.

Recently, the local Dairy Queen (hub of Ovale, second only to WalMart, of course) decided to start a Farmer's Market. You know how these things go: you show up ready for some major fruit and veggie deliciousness and find one, lone dude peddling funny looking strawberries. Well, my parents showed up expecting more a couple of weeks ago, got talking with the owners, and hey-presto the Farmer's Market became fruits, veggies, and "crafts".

And that's how my parents wound up with a 10x10 outside Dairy Queen tonight, selling little bags and trinket-type things that they couldn't sell in previous retail ventures.

We turned it into family night. Burgers, fries and blizzards on the dusty pavement.








Yeah, we know how to have a good time around these here parts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I'm working on, that keeps me from blogging

A business plan for Memories by Michelle for 2012. Yes, 2012. There are a lot of components:
  • Pricing (how do I make money!? can I!?)
  • Market Positioning (who am I? where do I fall in the grand scheme of local photographers? how do I identify myself?)
  • Marketing strategy. Where are my 2012 clients coming from?
  • A new website. Flash or no flash? Simple and minimalistic or colorful and full of flair. The first will be cheaper, the latter will require thought, design $, AND programming $. Either way, I want it to reveal just as much about me and what it's like to work with me as it does about my photos themselves. Both are part of the experience.
  • A possible branding make-over (not losing the existing logo but expanding on it)
Editing photos - there have been a lot of sessions lately... yay! Oh, and blogging about them. Blog previews, FB previews... trying to be everywhere at once.

Scheduling new sessions - if you can believe it, I'm actually booking sessions for holiday cards. NO KIDDING. I also have my first wedding session this coming weekend in Lake Tahoe. Excited, scared, excited...

The "other" job. It's busy. We're launching a new product in August. I'm doing marketing, promotion, P.R., sales and training videos, online live trainings, technical writing, sales strategy... I need more heads and hands.

A vacation. I am just biting at the bit to see a softly sloping white-sand beach and a, calm, aquamarine sea. Oh, but the flights are SO expensive right now. I looked at Jamaica (of course) and 7 days for two adults and one kid is almost $12k - that's as much as our larger group of 4 adults and 1 infant paid in 2010!

So, personal blogging is taking a backseat. In fact, I need to swoop out of the office right now to run to Daisy's school. Changing gears to Mummy mode....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Welcome to my first foray into: Grab a beer and look at what I did last week

My friend, Kimberly, of the much-loved local blog, Yep, they are all mine, started this thingumajig several weeks back where she took pictures she had taken throughout her weekly shenanigans and posted them along with some fun and sarcastic comments about what she and her gaggle got up to. It was so much fun that it became a weekly thing. And then it became a linky-thing. And everyone has been doing it. Well, that is, everyone but me. 

(I know, this is where I say "I've been busy!"...yawn)

Well, last week I said "NO. MORE." No more will I be left out in the blogger cold. No more would I miss the opportunity to shamelessly cross-promote myself on the blogosphere. No more would... Ok, right, you get it. And I should get on with it.

So, quite literally, grab yourself a beer (or you beverage of choice - I know I have some mothers-to-be reading this and I don't want to be responsible for corrupting you and your fetus) and let's see what the hell I got up to last week. Which is still this week but, again, I digress on a technicality.


Daisy said: "I want to stay home today, Mumma."


I turned to Hubby and I think the look of panic on my face was plain. I had stayed home yesterday afternoon with her. Gulp. 

We lounged around in the house in our PJs and did the odd little thing here and there. Like wash laundry...


... and fold laundry. Which Daisy promptly hijacked, unfolded, and ran off with.



Predictably, we were out of the house by noon to Panera for lunch and to Safeway to buy some meat. You see, I had decided to give in to my inner domestic diva and cook my famous Winter Pot Roast.

Yes, in June. Had I forgot to mention that it was cold and rainy? Yes, in California.

Some of the ingredients, waiting for toddler naptime for me to attack them.


While all that was percolating and Daisy was napping, I had a glass of wine (or two, maybe three) and edited some photos. (I swear, the wine makes me more creative, not more careless. Promise!)


 And then, the final product. Yummy!



Ha! You didn't know I could cook, didya? I have such depths.


...looked like this...



No, I didn't move back to the U.K. There is the palm tree to prove it.

Daisy played outside in the rain in her sandbox. The benefits of "Nanny Day"



What a difference a day makes!


Frickin' Sacramento summers. They don't creep up on you, they jump out at you from behind a tree and say "BOOOOO!"

So, of course, there was ice cream instead of hot chocolate after school.


In fact, it was SO sunny that Ms. Daisy put on a pair of sunglasses.


You don't understand. Daisy DOES. NOT. put anything on the sacred shrine that is her head - hats, bows, pony-tail bands, or glasses. Thus is the testament to the sudden brightness of the afternoon.



Second morning in a row that I had to wake Daisy up, or we would have been late for school.
She's like her Dad in that she doesn't wake up quickly or easily. 



This is not anywhere near as kinky as it looks.

I spent my lunch hour working on a self-portrait for my 52-week photo project.

I was going to work out or read a book but then I realized this was my last real alone time of the entire week to get this done. As it goes, it was a flippin' good workout. The number of times I had to run from the bed to the camera, squat down, prep, and run back, was ludicrous. Yes, I do have a remote shutter release button but it's not wireless and the wire did not stretch far enough. I could have switched to my 24-70 lens, which would have helped me get closer but, meh, I like my nifty-50 better.

Here is one one of the better ones I didn't decide to use.
You'll see the final picture on the Memories by Michelle blog on Monday.


How much "airbrushing" did I do? I tried not to do a lot, although I confess to fixing the dimple that runs along the top of my nose (I may not be vain but I am human!) I basically wanted the pics to be pretty raw because "self-portrait", to me at least, kind of demands that you reveal something intimate about yourself. And in reality, this is how I look on any given day working from home. Of course, I don't spend all day laying on my bed reading (I WISH) but the vampire book is pretty true-to-life if I could/did!

Photo shoot in the a.m. and then nut burgers with mum and Daisy at Sunrise Drive In, in Fair Oaks.
FINALLY, a sunny weekend.


And we have come full circle.

To see all the other folks who grabbed a beer, head on over to Yep, they are all mine.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Brit Bits Part Three: The Big Sheep

That's right, I said "Sheep", not "Sleep'.

The thing I can almost GUARANTEE you don't know about England (unless of course, you live there) is that there is SO MUCH TO DO if you have children. And, being it's a fairly small country (750 miles approximately from top to bottom and, on average, about 125 miles wide), wherever you're at there is always something close by.

One of the most ingrained memories from my childhood was summertime Sunday day trips with my parents. We would jump in the car and start driving, usually with no particular destination in mind. We would ALWAYS find something to do - a pretty village to explore, a summer fair, a castle, a stately home, a steam railway, a Roman ruin, an amusement park, a model village (haha, you've never heard of these have you?) a zoo, a safari or wildlife park, a petting farm... I could go on-and-on...

Most of these activities are relatively low cost and cater to a broad variety of age groups, so there is something for Granny, something for you 13 year old, and something for your toddler.

The Great British Day Out is really something I have missed. I was literally ACHING to share it with Daisy and Hubby.

When we arrived at Trimstone Manor, I immediately grabbed a ton of tourist brochures and set about determining where our first port-of-call would be. It was a difficult task, weeding through everything close by that I thought Daisy would enjoy - and of course, if we were willing to drive more than 90 minutes, there was even more I could have come up with. But given we'd already subjected the poor thing to a 24 hour travel day, I was looking closer-to-home.


You can click the link to learn more about everything this theme park offers but basically it is a young child's fun zone, themed loosely around sheep and farms. I expected it to be an hour visit, maybe two, but we spent ALL DAY there. Daisy had a blast.

There were sheep to pet and feed, up close and personal.



There were fun little rides for Missy to mess around with





And most importantly, there were the bouncing cushions.



... which were even more attractive for being surrounded by a sand pit (sorry yanks, we don't have sand "boxes" in the UK.) Daisy LOVES sand. Or, at least, she does now. We could have done with that enthusiasm a year ago when we were in Jamaica.


It wasn't entirely clear if she loved the pillows or the sand best but it was her favorite spot in the park.

The frustrating thing, however, was watching all the other kids of the same or similar age bouncing around merrily on their own, while Daisy WHINED for me (or, when I forcefully abdicated responsibility, my Mum or husband) to go with her, hold her hand, or pick her up. Hence, it turned into my mission to get Daisy to bounce solo by the time we went home to the U.S. because it really sucks to be the only adult not enjoying a nice sit down while your kid runs off and happily joins in with the other kids.


(Clingyness and whinyness, as we well know, are on the top of my list of mummy no-nos. I just don't do them. Period.)

Just when you're ready to write your kid off as scared of her own shadow and completely unadventurous (yes, I jest... slightly) we head into the awesome indoor play area for lunch and some more fun.

Inside there was this really tall slide. You know, the kind with all the bumps and where you need to sit in a little mat to get from top to bottom? I looked at it and thought: NEVER. But I asked Daisy anyway. She said she would go with me. And so we did, me fully anticipating that we would get to the top and she would balk at the ride down, monkeying on me and screaming blue murder.

But she didn't.


And she went with Daddy too!



And, just like that, my faith in her was restored all over again.

She even went in the ball pit. (Albeit, with Daddy in tow - the only adult in the ball pit.)


If your kid is the sort of kid that naturally runs off to run, jump, climb, slide, swing, or explore, this may not seem like a big thing to you. But Daisy is not like that. Her first word is usually "no" (please, no commentary from my friends - I get the irony) and she is a tad cautious, generally speaking. As an only child, I worry she doesn't have a sibling egging her on and so she'll sit back and not try stuff. This is my BIGGEST parental fear, in fact; that she will let opportunities and experiences pass her by. I know, I gotta let it go a little bit because she is who she is but it doesn't mean to say I can't be happy when I see her try new things and jump in feet-first!

And so BIG SHEEP was a success. I always knew one of the main reasons I wanted to have a kid was to share things with him/her, to look at the world afresh through his/her eyes but I never realized just how amazingly fun and heart-fulfilling it would be to actually do it!

We were only on Day 2 and already the trip was turning out to be everything I hoped it would be, and more.

Tomorrow: Watermouth Castle where there was this....


and where we communed with gnomes.

(Hey, I said there was a lot to do, I didn't say some of it wasn't bizarre!)

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