Most everyone loves a nice sunset picture, and though some may tire of seeing them clog an Instagram feed on a summer night, I do not. The sky is an ever-changing and ever-commanding force of life and presence. I never tire of that. I think if you get bored of a bright orange sky, then you need to re-assess your excitement scale.
I was in Northern California recently, and the first night I was there, the sky was quite welcoming. I ran to the nearest hill and took pictures of the clouds until it got dark out. Here are some tips when capturing a sunset:
1. Underexpose the sunset. When you underexpose the picture, it will make the colors look more intense; the photo will be more dramatic overall. You can do this by using manual mode on your camera, and then selecting a fast shutter speed – or you can shoot with the camera in “aperture priority.”
2. The horizon line does not belong in the middle. A good general rule in photography, is to put the horizon on the bottom third of the photo if the sunset is the point of interest, and on the top third of the photo if … >> find out more...
If you’ve never visited one America’s national parks, you have been missing out on all kinds of wonderful things. Really. You should get on it, pronto. Especially if you have kids; they’ll remember it for a lifetime. We journeyed up the road to Yellowstone, our nearest national park, last weekend and captured this direct quote from my 8 year old: “Yellowstone is the coolest place on earth!” And he’s been to Disney World, folks.
We happen to live within a 2 hour drive of 2 of the country’s greatest gems: Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. And easily within a days drive of at least half a dozen others: Zion, Arches, Mount Ranier, and Glacier to name but a few. I think that each one harbors it’s own very special kind of magic, from red rock desert to bursting geysers and mineral pools, to dense coastal forest, to jagged snow peaked mountains. I’ve fallen in love each time, in each place, over and over again.
Whether you like to enjoy the scenery from your car, or get up close and personal on a gorgeous hike or canoe trip, or learn fascinating new things from a park … >> find out more...
If you haven’t made your own jam before, you’re really missing out! Nothing store-bought can compare to the look and taste of homemade freezer jam. And it’s crazy simple. Really. And you know what else? My top secret fool-proof recipe comes straight from inside the little box of pectin. It hasn’t failed me yet! Follow along and you’ll be licking your own glittering spoonful of summery super-sweetness in no time.
A few tips to begin with: use fresh, ripe in-season fruit that has been thoroughly rinsed. I’m using strawberries in this example, but raspberries, blueberries and apricots also work beautifully. You can use any strawberries you like, but I’m convinced that the small-ish imperfect ones like you find at the farm stand have a truer strawberry flavor than the gigantic kind you often find in grocery stores, and result in a better jam. If you prefer less sweetness, opt for low-sugar pectin and follow those instructions for tasty results. I simply prefer the look, texture and taste of the original.
Ingredients for this strawberry freezer jam:
4 cups of strawberries, rinsed and hulled (about 2-3 pints)
4 cups of sugar
1 box of regular pectin
3/4 cup water
Mash your… >> find out more...
For my big vacation this summer my family and extended family rented a beach house. When things get a little too fiery and dry in Utah, it’s oh so nice to head to the coast. There is a cozy little beach about an hour north of San Francisco, called “Stinson,” with sand dollars, lemon trees, and low-flying clouds. It’s positively dreamy.
There are rows and rows of houses for rent, each pierced with big windows and protected by little wooden panels, all washed-over with salty air. You can rent a house on the beach, or around the lagoon; I prefer the lagoon. We rent paddle boards and kayaks for early-morning glides in the diamond-shaped inlet. Good times, my friends. The best kind.
It sounds too dreamy to be true, and it almost is, but if you don’t mind a windy drive and a bit of summer splurging, then Stinson is a very touchable reality. As John Burroughs said, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order” and Stinson does indeed soothe, heal, and pop my senses back into place. All that Pacific coast air, the sand and the waves…it’s … >> find out more...
It’s no secret that traditionally, a functional but cute camera bag has been hard to find. Until, that is, my rock star friend Maile created Epiphanie Bags, a line of gorgeous camera bags, because the need was there (big time) and she’s a genius.
I’ve owned an Epiphanie camera bag for over 5 years and I love everything about it. It’s stylish and utilitarian, and sometimes I use it for a purse without even taking my camera anywhere because that’s how much I love it.
But when I do need a purse to hold a camera, my Epiphanie bag is my go-to. I use it as my personal item on any flight I take across the world because it fits just right under the seat and holds all my essentials, (including my super precious camera).
Maile (the creator of Epiphanie) recently re-designed all her bags, this time using 100% leather. And you guys, the bags are gorgeous.
I’m personally torn between the Chelsea and the Catalina. But I’m definitely not averse to the Florence either.
I’ll take one of each, please. In every color.
So if you’re in the market for a new … >> find out more...
This week’s Petit Elefant Quote of the Week is a good one. A summery, ocean-y, happy one. Are you liking this series? I am, because I’ll tell you what: I have an obsessively huge repository of good quotes taking up notebook after notebook and one entire Pinterest board. For reals.
If you’re just getting started, we’re on week 6 of the new inspiring quote series. If you’re interested in catching up, here are links to week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, and week 5 of the Petit Elefant Quote of the Week.
This week’s Petit Elefant Quote of the Week is from one of my favorite writers, poets, of all time, e.e. cummings. Do you know his work? It makes me feel floaty and ethereal, in the very best kind of way. And Mister Cummings talks a lot about things that make me happy, like the ocean, and roses, and babies. You know, the simple but happy pleasures in life.
Petit Elefant Quote of the Week
for whatever we lose
(like a you or a me),
it’s always our self
we find in the sea.
– e.e. cummings –
… >> find out more...
With the contouring craze taking over the makeup scene, it feels like we’ve gotten far far away from some of the basics. What about the day-t0-day makeup that everyday women wear to work or run errands? Contouring is not very realistic for the typical lifestyle, so it’s important to master your face makeup in a way that fits your everyday routine. For this look, you only need four products: concealer, foundation, bronzer, and blush. Let’s walk through each step!
Step 1: Concealer
Start by applying a concealer under your eyes and onto any dark spots or blemishes. I like to apply the product with the applicator and then blend with my fingers. Here I’m using bareMinerals Stroke of Light in Luminous 2.
Step 2: Foundation
Choosing your foundation really depends on your type of skin and your preference. I typically have dry, sensitive skin so I like a liquid rather than a powder. I also like something that’s good for my skin and can hydrate it at the same time. I rely on bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream in Suede for my everyday foundation. I apply a few swipes on each section of my face and blend with their super … >> find out more...
I know most of you readers are gearing up for Independence Day. And I’m thinking of you right now. I love living in a country other than the one I’m from. I’ve made my home in S. Africa even though it’s not the land of my birth. There’s no doubt it has made me a richer person as I’ve navigated cultural blunders and learned that not everyone thinks the way my American brain thinks. What a shock! However, when it comes to certain holidays my American roots go deep, and everything within me has to celebrate. Fourth of July, Independence Day, is one of those holidays.
Until I was an adult, I never realized how big of a deal Fourth of July was to me. My dad was on the local fire department crew, and every year the fire department put on a fireworks show for our little town. The festivities, though, started long before it got dark enough for fireworks. I remember going up to the ballpark mid morning and spending the whole day there playing on the playground, trying my feet at the three legged races, and even participating in watermelon seed spitting just so I could savor … >> find out more...
Look no further for the perfect dessert to share with your favorite people this Fourth of July weekend. This Mixed Berry Trifle is no-bake, festive, and of course, totally delicious. It’s always one of the first to disappear at summer barbecues and parties. I’m using the term “trifle” a bit loosely, since traditionally trifle involves fancy lady finger cookies, but it’s close enough and sounds legit.
You can make this in a large clear glass dish, or as individual servings in small glasses or goblets. If you are taking your dish elsewhere, assembling it in clear plastic party cups make for easy transport and fun presentation. Either way, clear serving dishes show off the colorful layers and textures.
Strawberries, rinsed, hulled and patted dry
Blueberries, rinsed and mostly dry
Raspberries, rinsed and mostly dry
2 Pound cake loaves from the bakery
*Vanilla Custard or Pudding, prepared ahead
*Homemade or from a box–either will work just fine. I often opt for the box, despite my preference for the real thing, because my kitchen is crazy hot in the summer and I try to avoid my stove and oven whenever possible. Also, I like to add a dash of almond … >> find out more...