Focus on Life 2014

So a New Year dawns, and once again Sally Russick is inspiring us to Focus on Life by capturing evocative images...

I'm looking forward to meeting new people who have joined, along with those of us who participated last year. It was a wonderful weekly gathering :)

So let's get cracking!


Week 1: The Minimalist Photograph ~ Capture an image using a single subject

This is my favourite fruit at this time of year, but it looks so blah and rather unappetizing in black and white - minimalist in the extreme!

So, here it is in colour - YUM...


Week 2: Silhouette

I'm hoping by next week to have a new camera...
Our poor, old thing really doesn't cope with low light or back-lit subjects, which you kind of need to capture a silhouette!
So here's today's fuzzy dawn :)
And here's others' less-fuzzy pictures...

Week 3: Black and white photo of you

Well, it had to happen sometime... *sigh*

Sally does like us to share a self-portrait.

But this time, at least it's black and white, which can be more flattering :)

So, I've cheated a little - I took the one photo of me that I do like (taken by a dear friend a couple of years ago), and I've cropped it a tad and made it b&w.

If you really want to, you can see the colour version on my About page...

Week 4: Word(s)

This is My Word(s) for 2014... 

I have this image as my screensaver, so I see it every morning when I turn on my laptop :-)

At the moment, I understand it to mean I write/postspeak as truthfully, and mindfully, as I can... to be honest and open... to 'make known' as much as I feel prompted/able to share...

I expect other aspects of My Word to make themselves known as the year progresses, as has happened in previous years :-)

And can I Make Known (sorry!) to you  my exciting plan for 13 Giveaways??

Just click the button in the right sidebar to go to the Giveaway post, or click here. You can leave a comment there or email me using the Contact Form, and I'll put your name in the virtual hat. 

This is the first item I'm giving away - there's more info about it here 


Week 5: Get outside!

Ho hum... this past week really hasn't encouraged embracing Nature here in the UK - wet, cold, grey, the odd snow flurry!

All I managed was to snap this from the car on my way to hydrotherapy on Wednesday - the only time I've stepped out the door this week **bbrrrrrr**


Week 6: Quiet calm

Now this is my kind of prompt - thanks Sally!
For this week's photo assignment we will focus on the quiet calm of the world 
as it re-energizes around us.

(Photo edited using Picasa's Lomo-ish tool.)

There's something about the village church, grazing horses and the subtle, muted palette of early Spring that instantly calms me... 

You wouldn't know looking at this image that so many parts of the UK are being battered by 100 mph winds and terrible floods... Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected...

small stone...
The horses know they are on holy ground,
Bowing their heads, giving thanks,
For green shoots, and dry fields.

Week 7: Capture a collage of love

Ah, Valentine's Day - a real non-event in our house... Refuse to buy into the whole rom-com culture!

But we do try and practise love every day :D

So here's my collage of things I love... 

I just let Picasa choose the placements, but it's interesting to see the difference between landscape and portrait collages using the same 20 images!

Do feel free to click on them to enlarge

Can't wait to see all your Collages of Love xx

Week 8: Capture colour

Throughout February, Sally's been trying to dispel cabin fever... so this week's prompt reads:

For the last week in February, we will be focusing on something that can snap me out of cabin fever and hopefully you too! Bring on the colour! Capture colour in all its vivid brilliance!

I was going to photograph some paints/crayons, but then this arrived in the post yesterday from the very lovely Lynn

I just adore her doodle birds, and look what's inside

A riot of colour with postcards, envelopes and even stamps! What a sweetheart :)

There is nothing better to chase away cabin fever than receiving unexpected gifties from blogfriends full of thoughtfulness and colourful creations!

Week 9: Macro photo

How can it be March already???

But it is, and this month's Focus on Life topic is Checking Out - interesting...

And this week, 'we are going to get up close and really check things out!' 

Trouble is, once you start taking macro shots, it's hard to know when to stop - textures and colours are so interesting up close...


Week 10: The big picture

This week's prompt was to take a wide angle shot...

As the only place I've ventured this week has been the hospital - Monday for botox shots in my paralyzed arm, Wednesday for hydrotherapy - and the weather has been blah - grey, wet and cold! - there have been few opportunities to take photos :(

But I did snap this at first light yesterday...

Now, this is the view I choose to focus on whenever I look out the back of the house. I imagine we live in a forest surrounded by tall trees...

But this is the reality - this is the big picture *sigh*


Week 11: Beauty all around

I totally agree with Sally's sentiment to 'enjoy the beauty that abounds in our world', but we've seen little sun in our part of the UK, and any natural beauty has been shrouded in very chilly mist and fog...

I can barely see my beloved pine trees in the distance...

But a neighbour's tree does have a certain ethereal beauty shrouded in mist...

Hopefully, you've had sun where you live, and as we all know, Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder...

Week 14: Morning

April's focus will be on capturing Moments, and this week's it's Morning...

Two things I must have in my mornings are my one mug of the day of real, fresh ground coffee

Nothing tastes better!

And my first glass of water and lemon - I aim for at least 8 glasses a day, but the first always tastes the best :)

I've missed a couple of weeks with a very bad cold, and today will be very short and sweet, as my dear friend gets married this afternoon... another friend is arriving later to stay for the weekend to attend the wedding, so it will be later in the week before I can visit your blogs - sorry!

Week 15: A moment of focus

April's topic is Moments, and this week is 'Allowing yourself to focus on one moment, one subject...'

And mine had to be my beloved magnolia! It took a battering from the wind and rain last weekend, but after I managed to capture these...

I think this bloom looks like a lotus in this shot, which I lightened a little...

And this is my favourite - I just held the camera over the upright bloom and snapped! I have not edited this one at all - it was just perfect as it was, and it smelled divine :-)

These blooms don't exit anymore... casualties of the wind and rain :(

But here's a pic of the happy couple from last Saturday. I've known Tina since Brownies (over 40 years ago!), and she always said she's never marry... Paul is a very lucky chap - and I think knows it :-D

And the storms held off till after the wedding - the rain hit as we journeyed home...


Focus on Life Week 16: A moment best captured in B&W

I was so excited to get a good picture of this month's Full Moon - my old camera couldn't cope with low-light! 

This honestly is a black and white photo - really no difference from the colour version, except the wisp of cloud below the moon had a slight yellow tinge :-)

Can't wait to see all your B&W moments...

Focus on Life Week 17: Evening moments

Every night before I get into bed, I put on, or hold, one of these special objects and give thanks for the day...

And before I turn out the light, I look at these two angels over our bed, and ask them to watch over us all...

These are ultra-special, sacred moments at the end of each and every day, and I wouldn't miss them for the world...

Focus on Life Week 18: In your hands

May's Topic is In, At and About - intriguing...

But this week's prompt stumped me for a while, as I only have one functioning hand, and that's for operating the camera!

But I realized my stroke-affected hand can hold some things...

... I can slip in a ribbon and hold my birthday balloon!

You can also see the gorgeous bunting Johanna made - it will hang over the entrance to the dining room every day as I celebrate all year long :)

And here's some more birthday photos - I had a wonderful day and thank you for all your birthday wishes!!!
Coffee and cake with Sue, who spoilt me rotten

Family dinner - Sam (18), Nick (hubby), Jon (brother), Esther (16), Dad, me

Our gorgeous kids
My handsome baby bro


Focus on Life Week 19: Good things inside

'This is a good prompt to think outside the box...' 

I'm sure Sally is right, but I'm afraid I'm still low on energy from my week-long birthday celebrations AND tomorrow a dear friend comes from the US to stay for 2 weeks, so my thinking is neither in or outside any box - it's all over the place!!

So the best I can muster is this...

Inside these boxes are beautiful birthday gifts from dear, dear friends - I edited the photo in Picasa's sketch mode, and rather like the effect...

The expresso cup candle is jasmine and nutmeg - yum, and smells divine! And the two Kelly Rae Roberts pretties - a 'Friends' poem-angel and a 'Believe' vanilla candle. Good things inside, indeed! 

Focus on Life Week 24: Have fun!!

Hello again!

I've missed a few weeks having fun with my friend B visiting from the US in May, then I was sick :-(

This week has been full of doctors' appointments (sigh), but I did have lots of fun making this month's Full Moon Dreamboard - see the post below :-)

But back to FoL...

Here's a photo I took on our wedding anniversary back in April, and I've had fun playing with different Picasa filters...

This duotone is my favourite effect - a tad 60s Popart...

Enjoy your weekend xx

Focus on Life Week 25: Be colourful!!

It's been a fun, busy week...

A dear blogfriend, whom I've known online for about 10 years but never met, came to stay for a few days while she's in the UK researching her grandparents' story.

Here's the lovely Kate making colourful art on Thursday...

She had fun playing with my big box of crayons, and I've added a colourful border to the pic :-)
She's now visiting other online friends before she returns to the US next week - a short, but very sweet, visit!!

Focus on Life Week 26: Free space...

Oh my - it really is the midpoint in the year-long journey through Focus on Life - how did that happen??

But I love that Sally has given us free licence to photo anything this week :)

This morning (Friday), I woke at 5 am to the sound of gentle rain...

I made my morning coffee, opened the patio doors and just sat... I wish I could share with you the fresh, green smells, the soft patter of the raindrops on the wooden furniture, the excited chatter of the birds...

It really was a little piece of heaven :-)

The perfect way to sit and reflect on the months that have passed, and wonder what the next six months will bring...

Focus on Life Week 29: Celebrate sweetness!

Sorry, I've missed a couple of weeks - terrible internet connection *sigh*

So I'm hoping it stays around long enough for me to post this....

My dear friend, Jane came for coffee - it was her 50th birthday the other week, so I surprised her with a candle in her flapjack :-) 

The perfect subject for this week's theme!

This was in her birthday parcel, if you're curious :-)

Focus on Life Week 30: Celebrate YOU by documenting a moment of life

I don't know if it was the fact Sally used the word 'document' in this week's prompt, but this is me documenting addresses from my old address book onto new cards which are kept in a gorgeous East of India wooden box - with a little help from my wee angel :)

Even though handwriting's still a challenge, who doesn't like receiving REAL mail??

And if anyone in the group would like a note from England, just drop me an email using the Contact Form - let's celebrate keeping in touch by documenting moments of our lives in real letters and cards!!

Focus on Life Week 31: Outside the box

Another week, a new month - eeeek! Where is 2014 disappearing to??

August's theme is Outside, and this week it's 'Outside the box'. So here are my crayons outside their box (tin!)

I had great fun making the photo more retro and 'HDR-ish' - whatever that is!! It's a fun option in Picasa which tweaks the colours, as far as I can tell...

PS To those lovely peeps who got in touch, your notes from England will soon be winging their way onto your doormats/mailboxes :-)

PPS To those who celebrate - Happy Lammas!!

Focus on Life Week 32: Fresh air

Summer in England continues to be sunny and dry (great for the ripening crops!), and thankfully the temperatures have dropped a tad, and occasionally there have been actual breezes (gosh!)

So I did as Sally suggested - I got outside in the fresh air on my scooter...

... can't wait for these blackberries to ripen - hubby makes delicious jam :-)

PS Autumn must be just around the corner - this started on TV this week - hooray!!

Focus on Life Week 33: The view of above

The theme for August is Outside, so here's a view of above as I pause under a neighbour's apple tree that hangs over the pathway into town.

Just sooooo tempting...


Focus on Life Week 34: About the ground

To quote Sally: 'This week draw your focus about the ground you may be surprised at what you find'.

So I draw your attention to this wee churchyard...

There are no surprises here for us - it's the church where my parents married, where I was christened, where hubby and I were married, and where our first baby rests...

She would have been 21 tomorrow, can you believe??
Never known, Always loved, my lovely...


Focus on Life Week 35: Lazy days of summer

A day trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last Sunday...

An iconic Henry Moore sculpture sitting among the sheep...

A mighty oak...

Moore's Reclining Woman

A Barbara Hepworth icon...

A truly. massively impressive piece by Ursula von Rydingsvard...


Focus on Life Week 36: A door

Already another month... *sigh*

September's topic is Simplicity - a worthy theme amid the back-to-school, full-autumn-schedule busyness...

The door to a restaurant in town - it's just a shame the bargain store opposite is reflected in the glass... 

But it's a beautiful, original Art Nouveau door - you can just make out the lovely etched flowers in the four mini panels at the top...

Focus on Life Week 37: A window

Playing with gel pens to create a stained glass window postcard...


Focus on Life Week 38: One

Following September's theme of SimplicitySally's prompt this week was simple: 'Capture a photograph with only one subject'.

A simply perfect rose - no need to edit/tweak the photo at all!


Focus on Life Week 39: Hands

While sorting out a cupboard the other week, I found some of my old school books...

This was in my Art sketchbook... The teacher has commented 'well drawn' and initialled it.

And to prove how long ago it was, look at this in the same sketchbook - a real blast from the past!!

And yes, I did have the movie poster on my wall and the soundtrack album (12" vinyl, of course)... Ah, Tony Manero, you stole my 15-year-old heart ;-)

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