Happy New Year - January 2015 Desktop Calendar

It's New Year's Eve and I am ready for 2015, whatever it may bring.

To start off the New Year, I have January's calendar available for download:

We haven't seen any appreciable snow this season, quite the contrast from this time last year. I kind of miss that white fluffy stuff, and I'll have to settle for a virtual snow scene on my desktop instead. If you want to try your hand at creating your own photo calendar, check out this tutorial.

To Download this month's free desktop calendar, click on this link at Box.com:
Free January 2015 Calendar

Have a safe New Year's Eve and we'll catch you in 2015!


2015 Photo Calendar Preview and How To Create Your Own

Since 2009, I have been creating photo calendars to give away as gifts. Truthfully, I considered giving up the practice last year because I felt I didn't have sufficient material. But each December rolls around and my sister inevitably queries me on "when her new calendar would be arriving", which prompts me to open up my catalog of photos. The creative juices start flowing and within two hours, I've culled through, picked and created the upcoming year's calendar.

The process is very simple and I wrote up this Tutorial a couple years ago: How to Create a 4x6 Photo Calendar

The upcoming year's Calendar Templates can be found at Photoshop Elements Techniques, which is a great resource for all things PSE, including free brushes, textures and of course, 2015's Calendar Templates

Once I create the calendar files, I have a "proof" set printed at the local Walgreen's, where I make sure there are no spelling errors, that the dates aren't cut off (yes, that has happened) and the photos look good. Final adjustments are made before I upload to my normal photo finisher, MPIX.com.

Here is a sneak peak of 2015's calendar - January will be posted later this week for you to download and use on your computer desktop.

2015 Photo Calendar Sneak Peak

I hope everyone had a great Christmas - we had a great one here and are looking forward to the coming New Year.


Last Minute Gift Ideas - Shop Local, Shop Handmade

I admit to being a procrastinator, especially when it comes to the busy holidays. For example, I only last weekend (that would be a mere two weeks before Christmas) designed and ordered this year's Holiday card. So folks, don't expect an on time card from our family!

So, for those last minute shoppers who don't want to brave the mall this weekend, I'm suggesting you get out to a local market place for some unique, handmade gifts. Small artisan shops and vendors can be found even our small midwestern town - you might have to use social media or contact consignment shops to find them.

Some handmade treasures I've come across locally:

Beaded Wrap Bracelets
Today's Arm Candy #handmade
A friend of mine makes these and they can be found through etsy stores. The bracelet is flexible and wraps around the wrist four times for an instant layered look. The mixture of stones and crystals compliments casual and formal attire - I even wear mine to yoga practice.

Personalized charm necklaces
For A Special Friend
I found these simple necklaces at the local farmer's market. I'm not a "chunky" jewelry wearer (I rarely accessorize to begin with) and I love that the charms are small, interchangeable and personalized to the wearer. I gave the necklace above to a friend who moved away, bought a horse charmed one for my daughter and this one for me:
Capture Life

Handmade Soap, Specialty Syrup and Vintage Stuff
Made Fest Finds
I love handmade soap - they come in all sorts of fragrances from earthy to floral and are a great luxury to use. Real.Soaps are handmade in Chicago and also available via etsy. Your local natural store may also carry handmade soaps.

Sages Specialty Syrups are made in Indiana and the business owners frequent local farmer's markets. The syrup jazzes up the standard cocktail (mango ginger martini anyone?) or sparkling water or tea. I bought some spiced pumpkin syrup to mix into my fall coffee. You can find similar specialty syrups at your local foodie store.

Vintage camera - perfect for that sentimental photographer. I now own three vintage cameras - two of them, including the Kodak Duaflex pictured above still take film and one of these days I'm going to try make it work. For now, it's a nice conversation piece, along with my Brownie Hawkeye.

Local Designer Clothing - Chicago designer Kate VanAsten makes beautiful clothing at Wulfka. I found her at a local artisan fair and bought the beautiful Isis Dress. She also has skirts and shrugs available.

We're in the final stretch before Christmas, so good luck with the final days of shopping!


Begin Again

I willfully sat down last Saturday (maybe two Saturday's ago - I've lost track) and actually watched a full length movie at home. (those who know me realize this is quite a feat - I don't sit down for long periods of time at home, unless I'm napping) The movie that successfully captured my attention - Begin Again, a music centric story of a washed up, mid-life crisis record executive who reclaims his life while helping an indie singer-songwriter record music in the streets of New York.

Begin Again stars Keira Knightley as the singer, and yes, she actually sings in the movie. She plays Gretta, a songwriter who comes to New York with her singer boyfriend, who is on the cusp of commercial stardom. She finds herself on the outside as her partner (played by Adam Levine) is swept away by the music industry machine. Mark Ruffalo plays the record executive, a drunkard louse, who sees potential in Gretta's stripped down, acoustic songs.

I thoroughly enjoy the movie, bought the soundtrack and now share some of it with you. I love the melodies and lyrics, but mostly the simplicity of the performances - there's real joy seen here.

Lost Stars, performed by Keira Knightley

Please, don't see
Just a girl caught up in dreams
And fantasies

Please, see me
Reaching out for someone
I can't see

Take my hand
Let's see where we wake up tomorrow
Best laid plans
Sometimes are just a one night stand

I'll be damned
Cupid's demanding back it's arrow
So let's get drunk on our tears

And God, tell us the reason
Youth is wasted on the young
It's hunting season
And the lambs are on the run

Searching for meaning
But are we all lost stars
Trying to light up the dark

What does it take to Begin Again? Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom, other times you need to take a chance. Most importantly, you have to know yourself and "to thine self, be true".


Along My Run | 10 - November Contrasts

November is a month of contrasts - the leaves have peaked and by the end of the month, fall's glory is but a memory, replaced by a barren, skeletal landscape. We experienced a cornucopia of weather conditions - typical fall temperatures in the mid-30's, then a preview of winter with bitter temperatures, complete with single digit wind chills and a sprinkling of snow. To round out the month, the last day of November felt like Spring - a balmy 55 degrees.

Like I said, a month of contrasts.

November Runs - Contrasts
1. A year later and the way I run has changed me. Thank you for finding me that morning , 2. Peaking Canopy. Most of the Leaves are gone , 3. Passing Through, 4. Morning Haze. Even When It's Cloudy, a Rrun Makes Things Better, 5. Standing Still, before the Winds Picked up. Noted on my run - the Flock of geese overhead, in perfect V formation, the Hawk that flew by, the 20mph westerly wind between miles 7 and 9. Things that make you feel alive. , 6. Fading Away - I haven't run on this street in over two months, and it looks completely different now., 7. A Bit of Craziness -single digits. I even saw two other runners out there, so I'm not alone in my craziness. Wind was a killer., 8. Confessions of a Cold Weather Runner. Not shown - the double tights and long sleeve shirt I'm wearing., 9. Reaching Out For Someone I Can't See, 10. Brisk , 11. Take My Hand, Let's See Where We Wake Up Tomorrow , 12. November Blues -A warm and balmy morning - feels like spring! I'll take it - enjoyed my run in shorts and a tee shirt!

From a running standpoint, November served as a low-key, take things easy, run whatever feels good month. I cut back from running 4 days per week to 3 days, took more full rest days, added in more spinning classes and started a program with a personal trainer. I signed up with the personal trainer to address the strength imbalances I have between my left (weaker) and right sides, with the goal of preventing future injuries. I'm happy to report the Plantar fasciitis in my left foot is gone - I'm no longer running with tape or any arch support device.

November's Stats: 115 miles, 9:07 minute / mile average pace
Longest distance run: 13.2 miles one Saturday, even though we had originally planned to run 10 miles. We called it our virtual Half Marathon for November.

Hopefully, December won't pose too many foul weather challenges so I can finish up 2014 in good shape for 2015.

This month's running quotes, courtesy of great women runners:
I don't feel like myself unless I run. It's how I deal with sadness and happiness. I need it. It's like therapy.
– Kara Goucher

(I can totally relate)

A goal is just an awesome way to force growth on yourself.
– Deena Kastor

Running is not who I am; it's something I do; it's something I love.
– Lauren Fleshman

Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of.
– PattiSue Plummer

The things we love, have passion for, help us grow. What's your passion, what have you learned about yourself through that passion? My passions include running, photography and music. Embrace your passions each day - you won't regret it.


December 2014 Desktop Calendar - Free Download - Acadia Sunrise

If you ever visit Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, the sunrise atop Cadillac Mountain is a must-do "bucket list" activity. This location is purportedly the first place in the US to see the sunrise.

Adventurers, nostalgics and romantics make the cold, often snowy pilgrimage here on New Year's Day (hmmm, maybe a new "bucket list" item for me). I figured it would be fitting to have this close out 2014.

To Download this month's free desktop calendar, click on this link at Box.com:
December 2014 Calendar - Acadia - Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

To read more about Acadia National Park and my family's adventures there, head over to these links:
Long Pond Hike
Acadia Panoramics
Acadia Ocean Path
Afternoon Tea on Jordan Pond
Ocean Path to Thunder Hole
Biking the Carriage Trails at Acadia
4th of July Sunrise from the Top of Cadillac Mountain - Acadia National Park



Copyright Notice

All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of Shirley LeMay Photography and Shirley Behind the Lens (© 2005-2020). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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