February Photos Week 1… and possibly 2…

I hate to admit that I’ve gotten slightly off track with the photo challenge for the month of February.   At this point, I’ve had to pick and choose challenge themes from between two different web sites based on what would be the easiest topic for me on each day….  but I’m still participating and trying to get all caught up! For the first week of February: DSC_2796my view today – I, so badly wanted to catch some geese on the pond last month for the icy theme….  however; they were absent on that particular day.  So, instead, I caught these geese on the pond after coming home from grocery shopping and photographed them for “my view today.”  A few were coming in for a landing and ice skating across the surface! DSC_2824words – I immediately thought of Jodi Picoult – she’s one of my FAVORITE authors!!!  She and her daughter co-wrote a book called “Between the Lines” which I am currently reading.  This is a photograph of an excerpt from that book. DSC_2853hands – I was walking around the house looking for hand models when I saw Alex sitting on the couch playing “Flappy Bird” on the iPhone.  She just looked so peaceful and angelic, but the mission of the day was to photograph hands, so here ya go! DSC_288810 am – this is what 10:00 in the morning looks like when you sleep in on a weekday because the kids are out of school due to snow.  Many times, my 10am looks like the laundry room or my sewing machine; I love it when it looks like food!!! DSC_3000-2what makes me smile – most of the time, my three kiddos make me smile!  Obviously, there are times that I want to pull my hair out, but look at these little faces, how can you NOT smile when you look at them?!? DSC_1002 dinner – yummy bowl of chili for dinner this evening.  This pic was taken BEFORE I smothered it with fritos and cheese….  because by then, it was unrecognizable!   DSC_3105button – I love buttons and have no shortage of them….   Good old fashioned buttons!  A friend of my mother-in-law’s found out that I was making button jewelry, several years ago, and gave me a tin full of antique buttons that were her grandmother’s.  It was quite a gift!  In return, I made her a couple of button rings, one of which she wore on her wedding day! DSC_3126on my night stand – You’ll notice that I only photographed part of my night stand, the cleaner part of it…  hahaha!  I’ve got my bible and a photo of Gregg & I (on the day of our wedding vow renewal ceremony).  That’s all I really need, however; I tend to have a glass of water, several elastic hair bands, and usually a pair of nail clippers on the messier, un-photographed part.   DSC_3209daily routine – Every single day, gotta wash that hair, brush that hair. moisturize that face, put make up on that face, brush those teeth and later, brush those teeth again.  And, yes, that’s deodorant hiding in the top left corner of my photo – rest assured, I use it as well…  DSC_3285 childhood – when I first thought of “childhood”, I’ll be honest, I thought of my kids and their legos.  Legos, legos, legos all over my house, as far as the eye can see.  So, I went into the basement in search of a random pile of legos to photograph, but there were NONE to be found?!?!?!?!  Are you serious?  When did the kids actually start listening to me and start putting the legos away???  Craziness!  So, then I thought of my own childhood, and the first thing that popped into my mind was “Nancy Drew” – I was always reading, as a kid, and was always running around solving mysteries in my neighborhood.  I made detailed maps of the areas surrounding my house and named each one.  You ask my sister about the “Magical Tree Stump” at the end of the street or “The White Forest” that was around the block; she’ll tell you! DSC_3300And, because my kids were looking at a stack of old photos last night, from when I was younger, I’ve decided to post this photo as well for the theme “childhood”  – this is me at age 2.  I know, ADORABLE, right?!?  🙂DSC_3308pattern – I didn’t want to photograph a piece of patterned fabric or an actual thin, papery pattern used when cutting out pieces of fabric to make clothes.  Instead, I thought of sheet music with it’s patterns of notes and slurs!  I enjoy slurring notes on my cello, so much so, that now I have to force myself not to slur…  Got into trouble at my last two lessons for slurring.  Must follow the music as it is written…  or must I…?!?  😉

DSC_3693in your bag – it’s a mess…  I admit it!  I have little scraps of paper with meal ideas and ingredient lists written all over them.  Plus, I have tons of savings cards.  As long as I know where everything is, then it’s perfectly fine, right?

DSC_3738can’t go without – LIPSTICK!  I don’t do much to my hair, don’t like any makeup on or around my eyes, put on a little foundation in the morning to even out my skin tone, but I can’t leave the house without my lipstick!  Any shade of plum or brown will do just fine!1655695_10152226970171170_56577747_osweet –  some of my favorite sweet treats come from this cute little bakery, J. Rae’s – I love their sugar cookies, and their cheesecakes (with sugar cookie crust) AND their strawberry cupcakes – mmmmmm!  This was where I bought valentine sweet treats for my family this year for Valentine’s Day!

DSC_3790phone – this is my phone, plain and simple.  I went ahead and photographed it with the screen illuminated to add a little more oomph.

DSC_3806time – my favorite time of all time!  The Hubbs and I shout it, text it, email it, etc. to each other whenever we happen to catch it!

That takes care of two whole weeks worth of the photo challenge!?!  WOOHOO!  And, my blog has just informed me that I’m out of storage space in my media library…  something to do with WAY TOO MANY pictures uploaded here.  Grrrrr!!!

Happy to still be taking a ton of pics and happy to upload them to my blog!  Not entirely happy about my storage being full; will have to get that figured out ASAP…!  Have a happy Sunday!


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Valentine’s Secret Missions

For valentine’s day this year, I wanted to do something game-like for Gregg and the kids, since our family is huge into board games these days.  I eventually decided on creating Valentine’s Treasure Hunts… but I’m calling them Top Secret Missions because I like the idea of a spy-theme!

DSC_3229First thing in the morning, while the Hubbs was still trying to wake up, I was pretty hyper because I had kept these valentine’s plans a secret from everybody.  I had also been up for awhile already and had hidden all of the treasure hunt clues.  It was time for Gregg, and yes, I call him Beep Beep, to search for his!  I was like, “Good morning!  Time to wake up!  You want your valentine?  You have to find it!”

DSC_3224Clues for my Hubbs…DSC_3233Clues for the kiddos…

All of these clues were secured inside of sealed envelopes and hidden around the house and neighborhood!

Luckily, for Gregg, I didn’t make him leave the house to find his clues.  Also, luckily, I didn’t photograph his entire hunt because he was still in his jammies….  He was laughing through the entire thing!  He said that this was his favorite valentine’s day so far, that it was a lot of fun solving the riddles!  His prize was a board game, “Mice and Mystics” found in the garden tub in the master bathroom!

DSC_3246When the kids got home from school, I gave them their mission: to work together to solve the riddles and follow the clues in order to find their holiday goodies!  And, I did photograph their hunt!

Clue #1:  Start out on your Valentine Adventure by working together to find a total of 10 clues.  

Sometimes, I get tired and want to take a rest, but instead of heading straight to bed, sitting on the sofa would be best.  Find a soft sofa, on which to sit, and look for the second clue; it can be found behind a square pillow that is blue….!

DSC_3311Clue #2 – Grab your bikes and hit the sidewalk heading east.  When you arrive, you must leave your bike.  And, take a short hike.  Climb, climb, climb to find clue #3 in the place where Christian once got stuck (on a snowy day) in a tree….  It was too cold and windy to make the kids ride their bikes, so instead, we all hopped in the car!



Clue #3 – Wander back to the playground and dance like a fool.  The dancing is important because dancing is super cool.  And when you’re finished dancing, you should check the sign over by the pool.  You know the one, it has all the rules.


DSC_3330Clue #4 – Time to head back home!  You’re doing so well!  The next clue can be found on a stoop where strangers roam and push the bell.  It could be hidden or may be in plain sight, check the flower box or the welcome mat or the house numbers on the right.

DSC_3336DSC_3338DSC_3343Clue#5 – If you’re looking for your sixth clue now, then it’s obvious you work well as a team.  You’ll find the clue you’re looking for inside of a machine, in which all of our dirty laundry gets clean…  Hint:  you may need a tall kid to lift the white lid to look inside.

DSC_3344The kids grabbed their sixth clue out of the washing machine and exited the laundry room so fast that I wasn’t able to photograph that particular stop….  but they were on a roll, solving riddles left and right!

DSC_3345Clue #6 – Ready for Clue # Seven?!?  It’s not far away!  Shuffle out of the laundry room and say out loud “This is GROOVY!. “  Then look on the shelf for a super cool movie.  HINT:  The title of the movie you need to find rhymes with the word:  TANGO


DSC_3350Clue #7 – The eighth clue is waiting inside of a room where a young boy sleeps; inside of his room, a ton of toys he keeps…  There is orange paint and a clue on one of the walls; I sure hope you find it before the clue falls….


DSC_3353Clue #8 – Next up, you’ll go to the place of board games and dice ….  so many boxes….  lined up straight and nice!  Look between Mansions of Madness and Elder Sign for the second to last clue:  number nine.

DSC_3354DSC_3358Clue #9 – Here we go!  On to find clue #10, the last clue before finding your valentine treat!    Enclosed by a small door on a hinge, sometimes we take letters out, sometimes we put letters in.  You’ll find your next clue in a box out by the street!


DSC_3363DSC_3364DSC_3365Clue #10 – You’ve done such a great job!  This is clue # ten!  the envelopes you seek are on a row of keys in the room that belongs to Ben.  Go take a peek!~

DSC_3373The kids found a movie, some money, and sweet treats from J. Rae’s!!!DSC_3376They had as much fun as their dad participating in the Valentine’s Secret Missions!  I’m happy to say that this activity worked well for all ages, including the teenager…!

HAPPY Valentine’s Day to my family and friends and readers!  Hope you all had a lovely day filled with sappy love, chocolate, flowers, or board games – whatever strikes your fancy!

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Ben’s Tabletop Birthday

My oldest son turned THIRTEEN on January 31st….!!!!!  I have a teenager living in my house now – how did this happen?  I’m definitely feeling older thanks to those two words thirteen and teenager.  Funny thing is, Ben doesn’t feel any older because he has always felt and acted older than his true age.  It’s a running joke, in our family and with our friends, that Ben is a little 30-year old man trapped in a child’s body; he’ll tell you that he feels closer to 60 though…  So, when I think about Ben turning 13, I think, “Well, he still has 17 more years to go to catch up to his true age!”

For Ben’s “13 going on 30” birthday party, he wanted to invite his friends over to play board games – way to make his parents, especially his Board Gaming Dad, PROUD!!!

DSC_2541So, we typed up a cool Tabletop invitation, ordered this sweet Tabletop cake, and then walked into the office to choose what games to play from our family’s Tabletop game collection.  This was an easy peasy birthday party to plan!

A really epic note:  Gregg posted a photo of Ben’s Tabletop birthday cake on twitter, and Wil Wheaton (host/creator of Tabletop) re-tweeted the image AND wished Ben a happy birthday!  His exact message was:  “Happy birthday, Ben!  PLAY MORE GAMES!”  There was quite a bit of buzz surrounding that tweet online in the board gaming community – lots of “favorites,” lots of “shares” – even the creator of the Tabletop logo was excited to see his design on a cake!

DSC_2557To accompany the board gaming theme, I attempted to make some Scrabble tile candies.  They didn’t turn out as perfectly as I had envisioned, but I did the best with what I could find:an alphabet mold purchased from amazon, chocolate candy melts, white candy melts, and a marker with edible ink (which they only sold affordably in the color black) hence the mismatched colors on the tiles.  I wanted brown ink…

DSC_2550As long as I was able to spell these words, then I was fine!  Spelled out “Happy Tabletop Birthday, Benjamin” and then threw in a couple of extra words as well.  The kids at the party were more than happy to snack on the less than perfect candy tiles.  It’s all good!

DSC_2596Ben started off his party with a couple rounds of  “Zombie Dice” while waiting for everyone to arrive.  The boys LOVED this game!!!  They were rolling dice to see who could accumulate 13 brains first, which seems easy enough, except that there are gun shot wound dice to worry about (3 gun shot wounds in one round and you are dead….).  So, the boys were rolling and exclaiming and cringing and laughing and trying to decide whether or not to take a chance rolling again.  It was hilarious to watch!  THEN, the girls, Tatyanna and Abby, showed up and they were much calmer and practical about the brain collecting venture; they kicked some dice rolling behind!  Go Abby!

DSC_2586As soon as the group started playing “Once Upon a Time,” which is one of Ben’s favorite games because you get to weave a crazy, random story from start to finish (based on the cards in your hand and a whole LOT of imagination), then I started to back away so that the kids could have their fun.  I had previously explained to everyone when they arrived that I’m in the habit of photographing EVERYTHING, that photography is a passion and a hobby of mine.  They just smiled and said, “Yep!” because apparently, Ben had already filled them in at school.  🙂

DSC_2626The game “Quelf” was played next; a definite party game!  You must obey the cards, and the cards make you do and say crazy things….  I learned my lesson about this game, after playing it with my family, and ended up having to smell my daughter’s feet twice…  not my favorite…  but the kids thoroughly enjoyed!

DSC_2611Ben truly wanted to play board games ALL night long, and while his friends did a great job participating, they were starting to get a little antsy sitting at the table.  We took a break to open presents, and I was so surprised and impressed that Ben’s friends knew him so well; he received an Imagine Dragons CD, a sketch book with charcoal pencils, a Game Stop gift card, Pokemon cards and GUM (if you know Ben then you know that he’s obsessed with chewing gum).  They even did a great job picking out birthday cards and personalizing them.  I think it was during this portion of the party that I realized these kids really are growing up, becoming self-sufficient, becoming independent!

DSC_2598I mean look at this evidence – a very adult looking moustache….

DSC_2607and my youngest was sporting quite a thick moustache as well!

Ben’s friends kept calling Christian “Mini-Ben” and “Ben Jr.” because they thought that the boys look so much alike.  Christian was eating up all of the attention; he was definitely showing off for the older crowd – it was so funny!

DSC_2739After the dance party, after the pizza, after another dice rolling game, it was time for some yummy CAKE!  It took everything in my power NOT to dig into that cake the night before the party….  and now that I’m looking at pictures of it, I’m craving more cake…

DSC_2742This boy had zero problem blowing out all THIRTEEN of his candles in one fell swoop!

DSC_2613I think that Ben’s first teen party went really well.  He laughed so hard and almost lost his voice from talking/yelling over his lively group of friends.  He just looked like he was having a really good time.

And, with that, the Bolinger’s are done with kid’s birthdays all the way until November – hahaha!!!!  Happy to have such a wonderful, caring, smart, responsible THIRTEEN year old!  HAPPY Birthday, Bean Bean!!!










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Be a SUPER Hero…!

When you think of a super hero, who comes to mind?  Superman?  Batman?  Wolverine? These characters fight crime and save humanity in really big, noticeable ways.  But who else can be a super hero?  What does it take? DSC_1636 Super (above and beyond the norm) + Hero (a person of distinguished courage, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities) = a Super Hero!!!

In my estimation, we can all try to be real life heroes in our own communities by encouraging others, setting a good example, and helping those in need.  Craft Hope has partnered with Enchanted Makeovers to make super hero capes for children who are living in shelters in the United States; to inspire each of those children to BE a SUPER hero, to BE the change in their own lives and in their own communities! DSC_2338This is yet another wonderful project from the Craft Hope community that has gone straight to my heart!  It has been a pleasure designing emblems, sewing capes, cutting out masks, and putting all of the pieces together.   My house has been a colorful explosion of shiny costume satin and fuzzy sheets of felt for the past two months!

And, while sitting at my sewing machine with this rainbow of shimmering fabric cascading all over the dining room table, I believe that the Lord laid it on my heart to donate these capes locally – to provide for the children right here in Wichita.

So, after chatting with my Crafty Ladies, from church, we all wholeheartedly agreed to make the capes and then donate them to our local shelters. DSC_2344We designed, and cut, and glued, and fused…. DSC_2352We sewed and sewed and sewed and sewed… DSC_2354 We coordinated masks and made ties and gave each cape finishing touches! DSC_2351There was so much fun, love, and creativity flowing during our Tuesday night craft sessions, as well as a little bit of chaos too..!  You should’ve seen us on the night of our deadline – there were stations set up and everyone was working at the speed of light!  It was humorous watching various ladies running around with capes in various stages of doneness, from the sewing station to the emblem station to the tying station and to the mask station.  Capes got separated from their masks.  Who has my emblem?  What colors of ties do we have left? LOL! DSC_2348Rest assured, we pulled everything together and ended up with a box full of awesomely unique outfits for some awesomely unique future heroes! DSC_2448 DSC_2449 DSC_2452 DSC_2447 DSC_2464My hope is that these capes will allow our local homeless children to use their imaginations, to have fun & play, to just enjoy being children for a while!  Plus, I pray that each cape will be infused with The Father’s love, so that whoever ends up wearing them may feel His strength, peace, and courage in their times of need.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

DSC_2366A HUGE THANK YOU & GIGANTIC HUGS to my Crafty Ladies:  Nancy G., Laurie M., Robyn B., Judy D., and Cindy H.!!!!  Thank you for bringing supplies, creativity, fellowship, flexibility, and fun to this project!  Looking forward to making another batch of capes very soon!

If you feel like doing something Super today, think about how you can serve others.  How can you encourage someone?  How can you pray for them?  Or how can you help someone in need?  What good deed can you do to provide an example, so that others may follow?  Sometimes, the simplest kindness, the simplest action can make such a BIG difference, can start to change the world, can make you a Hero in your community!  Do what YOU CAN to BE the CHANGE!

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Finishing Up the Photo Challenge (for January)

This blog post finishes up the photo challenge for January!  I had a lot of fun with it! Having a “photo mission” each day, brainstorming with the Hubbs, and trying to be creative with the themes has been exciting, and so I have decided to keep on snapping… I’ll continue to post my challenge pics here on the blog on a weekly basis.  Without further adieu, the rest of my January captures:

DSC_1926a noise – this was Gregg’s idea to catch guitar strings in motion to signify a noise!!!  He plucked guitar strings while I messed around with shutter speed….  The first and fourth string are in motion; hopefully this translated as well as we intended?!?

DSC_1945accessory – one of my favorite accessories is this button ring that I made (back in my button jewelry phase of life) with antique buttons found at the antique mall.  I love the floral accent on this button AND the fact that it’s 3D with a mirrored background!  I still wear this ring often!

DSC_2018on my plate – pretty easy, not too crazy, photographing something on my plate….  this was lunch with the Hubbs at Avivo Pizzeria. 

DSC_2079in my town – another obvious photograph…  because when I think of what makes Wichita unique I immediately think of the Keeper of the Plains.  So, I tried to add a fun element to a town staple by playing with the angle of it…  


making – I love making things!!!  What did I happen to make on this day?!?  Dah-dah-dah-DAH, Peanut Butter Cup Cookies – YUM!!!

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laugh – this photo theme was pretty easy because my children are goofballs….!  I honestly can’t remember what the topic of conversation was on this particular day, but it had them giggling bunches, hence the photo collage since I couldn’t post just one pic.


salty – I think we can all agree that this photo theme has been thoroughly satisfied by the posting of this pic….  😉20140127_130016

broken – Gregg and I happened to notice this broken window while driving by a Pei Wei restaurant, and stopped by so that I could photograph it for the “broken” theme.  I absolutely love the shatter pattern that looks like an amazing glass spider web!  


something on me – selfie with a tiger mask on….  I’m still very heavily working on super hero capes, soooooo….  it just seemed natural to take a sewing break and try on the merchandise.  The tiger mask is one of my faves, right next to the owl.


together – why was this photo one of the most difficult to get so far…???  WHY???  I finally walked into the Hubb’s office with my phone and said, “This photo is happening right now whether you like it or not!  Smile!” and there you have it; a blurry, black and white rendition of together.  Since I really wanted to showcase “together” with a kick-butt pic of me and my Hubbs, I think there was too much pressure to get the perfect pic in the amount of time allotted that particular day….  the time limitations of the challenge begin to make me sweat…

DSC_2494a game – EASY, SUPER EASY, aka  A Perfect Theme for the Bolinger Family, here we have a nice game of Qwirkle on a Thursday night, which was Ben’s choice for the evening because it was his birthday!  HAPPY 13th Birthday, Bean Bean!  

DSC_2524icy – and then, as if just in time for this photo challenge theme, it iced on the 31st of January!!!  A victorious squeal pierces the sky as tiny pieces of ice cover the streets of Wichita….

That’s a wrap for this month!  Hope you are enjoying looking at these pics as much as I’m enjoying taking them; realistically, probably not, but let’s just pretend, ok?!?

It has been a HAPPY January, and I’ve been HAPPY to photograph my way right through the month!  Woot!  😀

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Photo Challenge Week Three

Going strong on week three of the photo-a-day challenge!!!  It took me a little while to get used to taking photographs according to the themes, but now I look forward to it, so much so, that I’m toying with the idea of attempting the 365 day challenge instead.  I’ll finish up with January and keep right on clicking…  into February…  all the way through December 2014….  What do you think?!


A building – my Monday schedule doesn’t bring me into contact with many buildings, so it was either this or the grocery store…  I actually think that our Wichita YMCA buildings are pretty awesome, so here ya go!


Everyday I – drink a Dr. Pepper, or two, or three…  which is why I have to spend time at the “building” photographed above…!


Shiny – shiny costume satin in shiny, happy colors!!!  I like the word shiny!


Bundle – my Hubbs chose this bundled item to be photographed in the produce department at the store, a bundle o’ asparagus!  I was looking for carrots (because they’re orange, yo!), but alas, they were all bundled up in plastic wrap, which did NOT a pretty picture make.


Glass – my most handsome Hubbs showcasing his Google Glass – fun play on words with my subject matter here!  Bet you were expecting some votive candle holders or decorative mercury glass, weren’t you?!?  😉


Black and white – my mind immediately went to “I’ll take a photo at some point today and make it black and white.” The subject matter was so broad with that idea that I almost didn’t take a photo at all….  Until my little cutie started acting goofy on the couch.  This will work just fine!


Entertainment- card games and board games are the Bolinger Family’s MAIN source of entertainment around the house, aside from movies – we also LOVE movies!  Playing a game of Monster Fluxx with our friends from Kansas City last night; fun times!!!

Bye bye, week three – movin’ on!

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Photo Challenge Week Two

The photo challenges continues on for the second week of January!


Outdoors – all I know is that I didn’t want to step foot outdoors on this beyond freezing day of negative degree weather…..  so Maddie volunteered….!  


In between – at lunch with the Hubbs, broke open my fortune cookie, and received a great fortune in between those cookie halves!


Looking up – I kept looking up at the sky, the ceiling, the trees looking for inspiration for this theme.  When Alex got home from school and looked up at me, my photo choice for the day was obvious!


Delicate – I immediately thought of a spider web, but it’s winter here, so webs aren’t readily available for photography….  chose to photograph feathers instead with all of their very fine, intricate strands.


Dark – of course, my mind would zone in on chocolate!  Although, I didn’t have authentic dark chocolate in the house, so I settled for this interesting, cracked piece of baker’s chocolate – do NOT nibble on this stuff, even in jest….  it is horrible on it’s own, gotta mix it up into a beautiful batch of brownies!

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Open – the Hubbs suggested photographing “Open” signs, so he drove me around town until I settled on these three!  So glad that he supports my photographic endeavors!


Artwork – saw this piece of artwork as I was leaving the zoo this afternoon, and bonus, there are fun shadows and word play on it at this time of day too!  The piece is called “Nature’s Grand Design” by Chet Hockman.  From the plaque, “The equiangular spiral is a special shape that is part of nature’s grand design.  It is based on Fibonacci’s sequence, a series of numbers in which each number is the sum of the preceeding two numbers – 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21.  This spiral is found in horns, tusks, leaves, and shells.  Even the curve of your teeth fits the equiangular spiral.”

And that was my photographic adventure for week two!  Stay tuned….

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