This thankful heart

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In light of Lindy-Ann’s Christmas post last week, and my ingrained American tradition of waiting for all things Christmas until after Thanksgiving, I thought a post on thankfulness was in order. Funnily enough, my college buddy, Russ, was visiting last week and among all the lists of big topics we were processing together, gratitude was one them. We come from very different spiritual backgrounds, however we agreed that being thankful within any circumstance can truly change one’s perspective and help to live in present.

Being in the moment used to come a little easier for me. I reckon “adulting”, and definitely parenting, gets in the way, which is sad as it may be in this season when it is most critical that we bask in the moment and be thankful. Over the past few years I have attempted to join in daily thankfulness and gratitude challenges that tend to pop up this time of year.  I go strong for for the first week (if I’m lucky), but life gets busy and I forget…to be thankful. Can I get an amen?

That said, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, as I discuss thankful hearts with my boys, I start to overflow with gratitude. For the little things, like the way my youngest calls cuddles “huggles” and my oldest still calls me “Mom-Mom,” even though he is seven and a half. I am, of course, also thankful for the big things like productive days, a wonderful village of friends in our expat life, and the technology that keeps us connected to loved ones back home. I’m thankful for memories of family Thanksgivings and traditions, as we make new ones and participate in ‘friendsgivings.

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I have come to the conclusion that it really is heart and life changing to remain in a state of gratitude and have a thankful heart. To find the ‘silver lining’ in every situation and focus on it will help you through life’s storms peacefully, and maybe even with a smile on your face. To live life as abundantly as you can.

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Don’t worry, I won’t challenge you. Not in this post anyway. However, I would encourage you (as always) to try finding something to be thankful for. I will recommend One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp if you are seeking a way to train yourself to find the joy of your everyday life and discover the “miracle in the mundane” as Ann says.

Lastly, I am thankful for you, our readers and our community. Thankful that you allow us into your lives and let us help you grow in your creative journey. Lindy-Ann and I feel so abundantly blessed by your comments and your encouragement and hope that we can continue to inform, challenge, educate, and even make you laugh. That is what it’s all about for us: joy in the process as we grow together.

With a grateful heart –

kdg

 

Our Must-Have Photography Accessories

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Many of our tutorials or blog posts are inspired by mentoring conversations and workshops sessions we have with our DGRCP community of photographers. One topic that arises almost every time is “what are our ‘must-have’ accessories”. Lindy-Ann and I can only speak to the items we have used ourselves in the field, so this list is not all encompassing. That said, if you don’t see a brand or item on here that you love, share it with us! Our goal is to help others get the most out of their photography journey and build community, so we are always open to hear from you and about your experiences!
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1. UV filter There are several types of filters out there, but this specific recommendations is for protecting your lens. I have firsthand experience of when a UV filter protected my lens during traveling when I opened my bag and the filter was cracked, but my lens was safe. Filters are dependent on the diameter of your lens and there are several good brands out there, with prices range from $15-100 depending on the quality of the glass. The downside to any filter is that it is one more piece of glass for your image to go through, which can possibly degrade it. However, weighed against the potential for scratching your lens, I would use still use it.
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2. Lens pens – this is a great gift for photographers! Throw them in your bag or car and pull them out whenever you see a smudge or dust spec on your lens. They are a awesome!
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3. Flash Sadly, the kit flashes that most cameras come with have ruined many a photograph. We all have to shoot in low light settings at some point and an off-camera flash (also referred to as a “speed light”) is a huge improvement on your kit flash, with the ability to bounce light off the wall or ceilings to add diffused light to your subject. There are good third party alternatives to the main camera manufacturers that are quality products and less expensive for the novice or hobbyist photographer. That said, I highly recommend looking at your brand specifically (ie. Canon or Nikon) as the camera and flash will be able communicate well and the TTL (auto settings) will be better paired.
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4. Camera bag This is one of those subjective accessories. It is highly dependent on your style and specific needs. There is a great market of stylish bags that don’t even look like camera bags! I have had two Kelly Moore bags and I love them, plus their customer service is fantastic. Lindy-Ann has Epiphanie. One of our manly photog friends loves his ONA bag.
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5. Straps Ask any photographer and they will tell you that the strap that comes with your camera is not very forgiving and can cut into your shoulder as you wear it. I recommend getting a softer, padded, and more stylish one. They even make infinity scarf options that are soft and look great! I really like the patterns and styles from Mod Straps, another brand we really dig.
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6. Tripod There is a tripod for every possible need and use! When selecting a tripod, it is important to consider your budget, your goals (capturing yourself in the images, night photography, etc), and read reviews. Here is a link two great articles listing their recommendations: The Wire Cutter and The Shot Kit.  A gorilla pod is great for traveling, light, and malleable, I just used it over the weekend camping for a shot of our whole group! I also have a  Zomei that I use for most tasks. It is sturdy and can change from tri to monopod easily.
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7. SD cards  Using a dSLR, you will definitely need at least one of these. From personal experience it is important to have backups, so let’s say you need at least two! I recommend Sandisk or Lexar brands and you can purchase these almost anywhere. It is important to note that if you are shooting in jpgs (not RAW) the lower storage may work for you. That said, in addition to the quantity of the images the memory on the card is capable of storing, I would consider the speed of capture (looks like: 95MB/S). If your card’s writing speed is slow it will cause you to miss the in-between shots and won’t be able to keep up if you’re especially trigger happy.  I personally use 32MB and 64MB cards with high speeds of capture.
We hope this helps you as you consider your equipment needs. Just remember it is never the equipment, or the stylish accessories, that makes the photographer, it is about you and your unique perspective. Get out there and snap away friends!
Stay tuned as Lindy-Ann kicks off our new “what’s in your bag” video series, where we, and our photog friends, will share what we carry to and fro living the photog life!
Cheers,
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The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley

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A few months ago Katie and I wrote up a review on Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley, we mentioned in that post how she is the designer and creator of The Simplified Planner. Since we read her book, Katie and I both were itching to get our hands on one of them. That itch has been scratched. In South Africa our school year went from January to December, it took some getting used to when the kids started school here and the new year went from September to June. To help that, I opted for this version of The Simplified Planner the academic year, going from August 2017 to July 2018.

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The Simplified Planner comes in 4 different designs, I chose the floral print. Katie went with the Gold Dot.

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I ordered it on Amazon and it arrived last night, one week into the first school term. (See why I need an organiser). It came in a very strong, high quality, easy to open, navy blue packaging box. I will keep this for future travel to add extra protection to my planner in suit cases. The planner itself was covered in bubble wrap and an extra layer of plastic. They made sure no water or dust could get in anywhere with this packaging. And I love  the attention to detail, even in shipping!

Emily has also included a handy little start up brochure for people like me who need a little extra beginner’s encouragement.

As a self taught designer she combined her love for design with her passion for helping others simplify their lives to produce something that is not only useful, but it is beautiful and intentional too. I love her use of colour on different pages, her space allocation for things like meal planning… (Something I have also only recently starting doing and oh my gosh has it been life changing).

Possibly one of my favourite features is her sticker page. I’m a sucker for extra detail splashed with fun.

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She has recently launched her Yearly planners as well going from January to December, for all our SA readers, those not in the school aged season of life, or if you just prefer yearly planners – there’s a beautifully designed option for you too.

Much like Katie’s post about starting fresh this fall and setting your intentions, I hope this has encouraged you to get organised and prepare yourselves for the year ahead. One thing Emily stresses, which both Katie and I are trying to implement more and more, is the power of saying “No.” To intentionally save blank space in your schedules for down time, family time, or just a little time-out time. These quiet moments are just as important, but we need to be intentional about it – especially in our ‘Always On’ society.

Cheers!

la

Tutorial: Website to App on the iPhone

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Happy #TutorialTuesday everyone! Today I’m sharing one of my favorite tricks on the iPhone. I have to give a shout out to our school’s Director of Technology, Brian, for teaching it to me after I inquired about a school app. I was hoping to simplify the process of getting onto our parent portal and this tip did the trick!

Let me know if you find it as handy as I do!

Cheers,
kdg

Book Review: Grace, Not Perfection – embracing simplicity, celebrating joy

A dear friend of mine came back from her December holidays and planted this book proudly on my living room table and said,“It’s beautifully designed and she’s so inspiring I just know you’ll love it.” Thanks, Viv, you were so right!

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Once upon a time, I enjoyed an amazing career in advertising for many years, traveling to countries such as Mozambique, Romania, Spain, and Lebanon to name a few. Then 3 months after getting married, I fell pregnant with my first child. I had never planned on becoming a house wife! I had never even taken Home Ec at school! After a good dose of humble pie and a whole heap of life lessons, this book was such a welcome read for me. It put into words so many of the things I have felt and faced living this new creative mom life path.

“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home” – Harold B. Lee

Shortly after Viv shared the book with me, Katie was sharing her hurting, over committed, overwhelmed, and stressed out heart with me, and I told her she needed to read this book. It took her a few months (and more than a few nudges), but she finally ordered it. I just knew that Emily’s story, her way with words, and the gorgeous, clean design would speak to her, as it did for me.

The author, Emily Ley, is a designer, wife and mom of 3 little ones. With degrees in English, Marketing, and Public Relations, she launched her own brand in 2008. In 2011 Emily created The Simplified Planner® for busy working moms like herself and has grown from strength to strength with global success.

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Along with practical tools and tips on how to simplify your life, Emily shares her testimony. Through the stories she weaves so eloquently, the reader can see that her strength and wisdom come from her Christian faith and upbringing. It is essential to her overcoming the battle for perfection and turning her focus to gratitude and grace. It is authentic and honest, not pushy, and we believe most readers will appreciate her openness, Christian or not.

There are so many great quotes that resonated with both of us throughout the book. Some that inspired us to declutter and set priorities, and others that reaffirmed us. It is truly a wonderful book that motivates, challenges, and loves on the reader.

Here are some take aways that spoke to us and influenced us for the better:

• Perfect doesn’t always equal worthy.

• Give yourself permission to slow down.

• Fiercely guard the pages of your calendar.

• It’s ok to say NO, not just is it ok, it is very necessary.

• Make sure you are taking time for yourself so that you can pour out sweet water to your people.

• Decluttering and organizing your life will make room for more joy.

• Don’t miss the joys hidden between the grand moments in life.

• Free your hands. Lock the phone in the drawer. Everything else can wait. 

• Home days are as important as playdates.

• Eliminate distractions, especially the digital ones; they are time-suckers. Turn off notifications and check your email when you want to, and try keeping your social media app out of site.

• Grace and gratitude go hand in hand.

• Mommy guilt is a liar and comparison steals joy.

“Mommy guilt. It’s an epidemic. The working mom, the part-time mom, the stay-at-home mom, the super-mom, the room mom, the traditional mom, the modern mom, the helicopter mom, the tiger mom. No one is immune when mommy guilt rears it’s ugly head to whisper the lie that we’re somehow failing our children.” – Emily Ley

We have both recommended this book to the moms we know looking for balance, more joy, and ultimately grace in their mess. Each of them receiving it with the same gratitude that we did. Feeling liberated in knowing that WE ARE ENOUGH! 

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“Ultimately simplifying allows us to slow down enough to savor this life” – Emily Ley

So in the spirit of simplifying and pursing joy, let’s agree to not rush these days away – our kids are growing up so fast as it is. Let’s take the time to appreciate the little things, find the joy between the grand moments, pursue our calling, and a be present in each season of life. Seek Grace, not perfection.

We both highly recommend this book, so when you give it a read, tell us what you think. Did it change your perspective or inspire you?

happy reading,

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