One of my goals for 2018 is to learn new techniques, improve myself in photography.  With recommendations from a group of friends, I joined in this journey with P52clicks.  It is a community where photographers all over the world encourage each other to learn

12-months • 12-techniques • 1-photo a week • 52-opportunities for growth • for the everyday photographer • a new year, a new artist.

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Our family secrets of summer fun in Houston

June is the beginning of summer in Texas.  Most of the school is out by June and summer activities began.   By all mean, I’m not an expert for summer fun.  I’m only doing this to give my kids some childhood memories, teach them how to care for others and just simply enjoy being a kid.  I hope our activities will give you some ideas to do with your kids.  Please do share what you do with your kids in the summer so we can learn and maybe do it in the next summer.  We still have two more months to go.  This is only June activities, I have so much more but I will save it for the end of the summer to compile all of our summer activities.

1- Involve in at least one sport event:

This year both of my older kids were involved in the summer swimming league so most of my Saturday is consumed around swimming meets until 3rd week of June.  They enjoyed swimming, meeting new friends, hanging out with old friends, school friends and just have fun all together.

20160506- IMG_7223 Swimming Team Summer 2016

2- Visit Hospitals especially children hospitals:

Early part June, we decided to go visit some folks in the hospital, the first person we met was Ashley Johnson.  She’s currently going to school in California and came home for the summer.  You can follow Ashley’s Journey here on instagram, Ashley’s Instagram.  She’s a very sweet young girl.  In our conversation, we found out that Ashley was also a swimmer who got the chance to see Michael Phelps when she was little.   She’s also a friend with our team coach so the kids actually enjoyed talking to her. This is something we will be doing throughout the summer after our summer road trip.  20160607-IMG_0489 Jonah Jaden Ashley Johnson

3-Enjoy nature: 

There are so many things and places are free around you.  Take a stroll around your neighborhood in the afternoon/early evening.  Let the kids go outside and shout out to natures.  It is healthy for them, it is good for them to appreciate little things in their life.

20160529-IMG_9902 ThienAn Anvy & Jaden

4- Some electronic time:

Although I’m not big with electronics, I would like to give them some electronic time so they can let loose and enjoy their own time, connect with friends from afar.20160529-IMG_9960 ThaiBinh

5. Library trips:

Go to the library, check out some books.  Let them open their mind with some imagination through readings.  The libraries usually have reading list recommended for all ages, you can find all kind of books for them to read during the summer.20160616-IMG_1502 VBS Decoration day

6- Volunteer:

Volunteer and involve in the community organizations, whether it is at church, nursing homes or at any food bank or anywhere that you are comfortable.  That’s when you get to meet people (interesting people), people from far away, people that you might never meet otherwise.  Open up their minds with the reality of world that there’s so much more than what they see.  This year we got to meet a young man who has traveled to US from France.  He’s one of the leaders for Vacation Bible School for our second baby.  A very nice caring young man.  20160623-IMG_1850 VBS 2016 at CTR B&W

 

I hope your family will have a fun and safe summer.

Signature

Bluebonnets of Texas

The updates of bluebonnets locations are at the end of this post.


So what’s the big thing in Texas during late March and the month of April?  Bluebonnets!!!

Bluebonnets (AKA Lupinus subcarnosus) are wild flowers which only grow in Texas.  As historian Jack Maguire put it “It’s not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat.”  He also affirmed “The bluebonnet to Texas is what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.”  Although it’s been told that it is illegal to pick the bluebonnets in Texas, it isn’t.  On March 7th, 1901 the Twenty-seventh Texas Legislature adopted the bluebonnet as the state flower.  In 1930s, the Texas Highway department began a landscaping and beautification program and due to this program’s efforts that the bluebonnets now grow along most major highways throughout the state extended all the way to Mexico.

Another flower that blooms at the same time with bluebonnets and compliment them so well is Indian Paintbrush (AKA Castilleja indivisa).  You can find these two flowers either grow blending amongst each other or in separate fields.  The vibrant orange color of Idian Paintbrush and the blue/white of bluebonnets make the drive in Texas beautiful during March and April.

While visiting the field of Bluebonnets, please keep in mind not to destroy these beautiful delicacies, many stories go around the bluebonnets and a lot of them are unpleasant.  A few things to keep in mind:

1- Do not pick or step on the bluebonnets: Some said it is illegal to pick the bluebonnets (however it isn’t) but it is also a nice courtesy to allow others enjoy the bit of nature in the beautiful spring of Texas who come after you.  It’s not first come first serve, it is let us all enjoy what nature provides us.

2- Do not trespass people’s private property: Jumping over someone’s fence is trespassing and IT IS ILLEGAL.  Please respect people’s wishes.  It is their private property, it is their bluebonnets they grow.  Having bluebonnets in their private property doesn’t warrant you access into their backyard/frontyard.

3- Be Safe: I have seen people just stop along the state highways or interstates so they can take out all of their kids for photos.  Please be sure to park in a place where cars are away from the high speed highways.  The little ones are quick and sometimes it only takes a few second for them to lose their mind and run off.  Please please be careful.

 

Here are locations of the bluebonnet sightings 2016 as of April 13:

  • Highway 281 & CO Rd 103
  • We highly recommend ‪#‎FM1431‬ west of ‪#‎MarbleFalls‬ to ‪#‎Kingsland‬ and on to ‪#‎Highway29‬.
  • Kyle, TX on fm 1626 by Plum Creek division
  • Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival
  • We highly recommend ‪#‎FM965‬ north of ‪#‎EnchantedRock‬ State Park in the ‪#‎TexasHillCountry‬.
  • Eleanor Tinsley Park on Allen parkway, Houston, TX
  • Hwy I-20 and Wheatland Rd (DFW)
  • Terry Hershey park in Houston (it might not be available this week)
  • #‎Killeen‬ Peeps! Y’all still got bluebonnets on Stan Schlueter Loop
  • Texas Hill Country: HW 16 between Goldthwaite and Fredericksburg, HW 71 between Llano and Brady, CR501 between Pontotoc and Lometa, and CR574 west from Goldthwaite.
  • Texas Hill Country: If you’re in the ‪#‎TexasHillCountry‬ and looking for a ‪#‎bluebonnet‬ field instead of roadside bluebonnets, ‪#‎TurkeyBend‬ Recreation Area off ‪#‎Fm1431‬ is a sweet, little field.
  • Mansfield Tx in the Lone Star Exit
  • For those in the ‪#‎Brenham‬ area trying to avoid the crowds, give this area a try. It’s outside the Bellville area, SW of the Brenham area, FM 2754 at 159 (159 runs between Bellville & Industry)
  • In Ennis, TX off of the Bluebonnet Trail off of Union Hill Road
  • Tigerpoint Road and FM389
  • behind Philips Veterinary Hospital
    5375 US-290, Brenham, TX 77833
  • Along Legacy Dr near Dallas Parkway
  • Pace Bend Park
  • Round Rock
  • Hope y’all enjoy, I will try to update the list one more time in the coming week.

 

Thoughts behind this blurred image…

20160315-IMG_4243 2016 Spring Break WM

Ever since I learned photography, I have always been taught to get the images as sharped as I can.  The best images presented by the best photographers are always very sharped.  So over the time, improving this skill has always been my top priority.  Today I would like to present to you an image that’s captured by a technique that normally general publics do not approve because it might appear as an error or a technical issue.  It is not just the foreground or the background being blurred, the entire photo is blurred.

This image was captured with intentionally blurred (AKA OOF = out of focus), it’s a technique that I have watched and learned through the photos captured by Shannon Kathleen Photography.  I have been following her for awhile and all of her intentional blurred photos have a fun inspirational story behind it.  The more I read about these blurred photographs, the more I was intrigued by this technique.  This photo was taken a few weeks back when I was standing from a far observing the kiddos running around and played at the pond.  In my mind, I wanted this image to be in my brain forever and ever.  I immediately thought of Shannon and her intentionally blurred technique.  Although in real life, everything is sharp and nice, but I wanted this photo to be blurred representing what I saw as a memory, a beautiful memory  of my precious little ones with some mysterious sensation.  It was what my mind experienced at the time the frame was taken.  I felt so excited to be able to put this image into a photograph, a memory that only I can understand and belongs to just only me.

Today, I’m excited to find out that this photo was featured at Reflections – Capturing Life in ART – photography/forum.

Thank you so much for the feature.

 

Happy Birthday to my mother.

Today is my mother’s birthday, it’ll be her last year to be 70s.  She lost her mother at 7 years old, then her father to the Communist at 17 when he was captured and imprisoned during 1954 when the North and South Vietnam was split into two.  She immigrated into the South along with her siblings and ended up bouncing around until she met my father.  As a special force soldier during war time, my father was often away from home so she took care of all of us.  By the time I came along (the youngest), my older siblings were old enough to take care of me; therefore my mother spent most of her time working in trading.  She taught me how to work hard, no matter what always dress like a million bucks, be strong, be patient and be honest in all situation.  Up until this day, I have these values instilled in me in all the paths that I have taken through life.  She took care of us since the day we were born and still does because taking care of us is all she knows and does best.  I love her to the moon and back.

We celebrated her birthday on Easter Sunday since my brother and his family were in town.  Although my mother doesn’t have any desire for entertainments, she’s always eager be part of the fun in all occasion.  The grandkids suggested that we do a fun photoshoot instead of traditional posed ones.  I’m always ready for the challenge of course.  Here’s what we ended up doing, enjoy!!!

 

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Signs of Spring, Sign of new life

Each year I look forward to Spring season to see the blooms and greenery.  This year for some reason, my roses do not come out, my flowers do not bloom at all.  Finally I see some late sign of the season with this Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii).  It is a species of Euphorbia native to Madagascar.  I love the brightly colored bracts and how strong they look although the flowers are small and inconspicuous.  This will be added onto my favorite list.

20160325-IMG_4455  Nature WM

DIY upcycle ladder

Hi y’all!

This is my first time to truly blog something I did.  I’m very inspired by Ana White and many other ladies who design their deco, wood projects around the house so here it is my first piece.  I got this old ladder from a garage sale for almost a year ago, it was $5 so I thought it was a steal.  It has been sitting in the garage (at my brother’s house) ever since I bought it.  I finally have time and an idea of what to do with it.  With the help of my “carpenter”, I was able to create three pieces serve as functional deco in my house.

(1) The first one is a stool to place a plant by the stairs.  This is the top part of the ladder that was cut out.  I sanded off then gave it a fresh paint coat and distress it with sand paper to give it a vintage look.  The pre sanding was a bit work because the ladder had a lot of paint coats on it… I think because the previous owner used it to paint so it is quite messy.  All in all, this first part is done.  I’m quite please with it.

The other two pieces are coming soon, I can’t wait to share them with you… To be continued.

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