Dapple Design Shop will be CLOSED FOR CHRISTMAS from December 10, 2016 to January 4, 2017.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge: Christmas

Our community goes all in for street decorations and I'm lucky enough to live just a block off the village centre where the lights are brightest.  

Miss S -- aged two and half this Christmas -- is in rapture.  We make every possible excuse to walk down Goldstream, and excuses are easy to come by as that's the logical route to the library, the playground, the grocery store and the fabric store.  

 Now that I've wet your appetite for lovely Christmas light street scenes, I have to confess that my camera has spent far too much time alone at home.  I'm hoping to bring it along and catch twilight as the lights come on one of these days, but you'll have to content yourself with day time photos taken under grey skies.

Linking to Donna's Personal Photo Challenge.  Please visit the other participants as I'm sure their Christmas scenes will get you in the spirit.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Cold and Sunny

It's finally turned cold here -- and beautifully bright and sunny.  There's frost in the mornings and I've revived my winter ritual of sitting in front of the pellet stove in the mornings with a cup of coffee.  Ah, the little pleasures!

Other little pleasures:  fresh air and a glimpse of the world through a toddler's eyes.  We've been collecting sticks lately.

This deck of this boardwalk was slick with frost in the shady spots but thawed and dried instantly when the sun hit it.

Miss S's older cousin sometimes visits for the morning, so we had company on this walk.  The girls got their gum boots wet in the lake then sat side by side on the dock for a snack of oranges and almonds.  There are some very sweet pictures of them together, but I try not to post other people's children here.

I'd be interested to know what others do with photos of other people, especially kids.  Do you get permission, completely avoid posting them, or just go for it?

Finally, I have finally posted these new placemats in the shop.  It took longer than expected to finish them off, but here they are.  I think they're perfect for winter -- not overtly Christmas-y, but filled with mountains and forests and woodland critters in cool snowy colours.  

Thanks for visiting, and please remember to leave me a comment if you have thoughts on the photo issue.

Friday, 7 November 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge: Trees

The vibrant fall colours that I was hoping to show you never materialized.  As more and more leaves skitter ahead of me down the sidewalk, I'm beginning to realize that they aren't coming; they've passed us by completely this year.  In exchange for those reds and oranges, we've enjoyed a warm autumn.  No frost yet.  Cherry tomatoes and zucchini are still ripening in my garden (in November).  The days are shorter, yet wool coats languish in the back of the closet while we enjoy more than our share of sunny Sunday afternoons.

Taken with my Nickon 1 J2:  Aperture Priority,  f/10,  1/100 sec,  ISO 200

I took these photos on one of those unexpectedly sunny weekends.   What started as a family walk turned into a family frolic.  We chased each other around tree trunks and twirled until we fell over.  We collected acorns and dueled with sticks.  The silliness that a two-year-old brings out is amazing.

Taken with my Nickon 1 J2:  Aperture Priority,  f/10,  1/125 sec,  ISO 200.

I even took some pictures.  for these first two I was experimenting with sun stars and perspectives on those long tree shadows.  These Garry Oak trees have already dropped most of their leaves and I like their bare, linear look.  The black and white treatment accentuates this.

Taken with my Nickon 1 J2:  Aperture Priority,  f/10,  1/125 sec,  ISO 200

Finally, looking straight up into the sky.  I especially like the bits of sunlight on the centre tree.

Challenges during this photo shoot had to do, for the most part, with doing two things at once.  Let's just say that camera settings for trees against bright sky are very different from those for family silliness among falling shadows.  I was going back and forth, wishing for more efficient controls, and not always getting it right.  Oh well.  The fun far outweighed the camera frustration.

Linking to Donna's Personal Photo Challenge, and looking forward to seeing everyone else's trees.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Stitching on a Rainy Saturday

And the rain rain rain came down down down.  Not in torrents, but persistently as it does here on the coast.  This afternoon Miss S is sleeping, Hubby is performing surgery on the wood stove and I'm curled up with some hand stitching -- at least I will be in a minute, when this post is done and the kettle has boiled for tea.

First, I thought I'd share a few of my many works in progress.

In the sewing room I'm working, slowly but surely, on a new set of table linens for the Dapple shop.  I absolutely love this combination of fabrics.  Grey and pastel.  Mountains and waves.

Miss S sometimes sits on my lap while I do this type of sewing, helping by pulling the pins out when I tell her it's time and meticulously storing them away in the pin cushion.

But in the evenings I've been parked in the living room with my hand work.  These leaves are a bit of scrap bag fun.  I wanted to doodle stitch -- no project in mind.  If you look closely, you'll note that my embroidery skills needed dusting off.   I might chalk this piece up to practice and return it to the scrap bag.  It was fun.

So much fun, in fact, that I've jumped into another little project.  Felt appliques and a little embroidery.  It's quick and simple.  Cozy work.  I have a vague plan of making a enough of these for a bunting-style garland.  

And that is what I'm planning to curl up with right now.  Happy weekend to you.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


This fall has been so gloriously warm, so summer-like, that I'm only now catching the feelings of fall.  The comforting hug of sweaters and scarves.  The damp smell of the forest.  The shiver of joy when rain falls hard on the roof at night.

I'm rediscovering my favorite walking trails.  They're less busy during the day now, the domain of dog-walkers and mothers with pre-schoolers.  Kids and pets.  They get us outside rain or shine.

Boardwalks are damp, the light oblique.

Everything grows green again.  Even the puddles.

I play naturalist with Miss S, walking at toddler speed and noticing everything.  Translucent mushrooms erupt from tree trunks.  Why have I not noticed them before?

Banana slugs abound, another sign of the season.  Watch them.  Poke them.  Photograph them.  The world is full of wonders.  

What have you been enjoying lately?

Friday, 10 October 2014

Still Life

I had a wonderful time with this month's Photo Challenge on still life.  I'm eager to show you my pictures and tell you all about them, so let's jump right in.

Aperture Priority setting     Shutter: 1/250     f/5.6     ISO 100

Tomatoes.  They're rolling in from the garden -- beautiful and sweet and so photogenic.  For this photo shoot I dragged the dining room table close to the patio door and threw a blanket over one of those tri-fold science fair booths for a background.  It was a sunny morning and the tomatoes are in direct sunlight while the backdrop is not.  Can you believe that the backdrop is actually a white blanket?  I didn't expect it to look so dark, but I like the effect.  The tomatoes certainly stand out.  Looking at my pictures now, I wish I had played a little more with depth of field.    The glare is disappointing too, but overall, I'm happy with this one.

Aperture Priority setting     Shutter: 1/100     f/7.1     ISO 200

Confession:  My enthusiasm for this particular challenge on still life photography is strongly driven by my Etsy shop.  Good pictures are everything when you sell your handiwork online and I still don't have a product photo set up and I'm truly happy with.  This is one of my crochet baskets.

Getting enough natural light is a huge challenge; I'm far too dependent on the weather.  For this photo, I took my cardboard science fair backdrop and a white table cloth outside to the patio table.  It was mid-morning, a sunny day but not in the sun.

The first thing I notice here is that outside at this time of day the light is soft and less directional.  It doesn't make for a very dramatic photo, but it does show my product well.  I think I'll experiment further with the outdoor option.  As long as the rain holds off, that is.

Manual setting     Shutter:  1/30    f/6.3    ISO 500

Finally, a small Hydrangea bloom from my front garden.  It's another simple composition, but I had several experiments in mind.  For starters, I wanted to try using a paper backdrop like several of Donna's recommended articles suggested.  I've always used fabric simply because that's what I have, but it wrinkles.

The set up for this shoot included a meter stick stuck through a roll of kraft paper and balanced between two bar stools.  I pulled the paper down and taped it to the front of my daughter's colouring table (just the right height).  I moved the whole works around a couple of times (note the wrinkled paper) and landed up beside the family room window.  

Then -- drum roll, please -- I switched my camera to manual.  For the first time.  I don't have much to say about that as I didn't really know what I was doing.  See the results for yourself.

Several of Donna's recommended articles waxed eloquent on how controlled still life photography is, how leisurely and drawn out the process can be.  I had to laugh.  Clearly those photographers did not have two-year-old helpers.  Miss S was involved, to some degree, with all of these photo shoots.  She especially likes climbing up on a chair beside the tripod and pushing the button.  Leisurely, no.  Fun, always.

A big thank you to Donna for hosting this Personal Photo Challenge and to all the other participants for joining and visiting.  I'm excited to see what you've done.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Cat Feet

The fog came in on little cat feet, just like in that poem that we all studied in middle school.  It came in while I was looking the other way, collecting clam shells and watching seagulls bob and fish on the inside of the breakwater.   Early fall yellows reflected.

Then, a fog horn bellowed at my back.  It reverberated across the lagoon, stirring up the gulls with its forceful melancholy.  Other ships in the straight answered in their own voices, and the first cottony wisps of mist floated overhead.

I crossed the breakwater and looked out to sea.  There was nothing -- only fog and the lapping tide.  

The fog came
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg

Friday, 3 October 2014

This Moment

This is what I get when I ask her to smile.

Joining SouleMama and others in a Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tomatoes and More

I started pulling out the tomato plants this week.  I'm always a bit sad to turn so viciously on the same plants that I tucked into fresh soil a few short months ago.  Since May I've been trimming and tying, watering and wishing over these plants.  Now they're chopped up small, wilting on the compost pile.  There's not a lot of room for nostalgia in the veggie garden.  Besides, the tomatoes were good this year and I still have plenty of them.  They're mounded high in all my biggest mixing bowls and serving platters -- beautiful red and green -- waiting (not very patiently) for attention.

The cherry tomato plants, in the warmth and shelter of the eve, soldier on.  Little Miss has no idea that they too will succumb to the changing season.  She knows how to pick only the red ones and eats them out of hand like candy.

We ventured outside with a mixing bowl (I found an empty one) and basked in the sun.  There's been enough rain lately that we remember to bask when the opportunity comes.  I filled the bowl.  Little Miss filled her tummy.  The shadows were long and the spiders where out, both signs of fading summer.  

Then Little Miss had an idea:  a picnic.  Why not.  Dealing with tomatoes is hard work.  A blanket, some lunch and a glorious fall day add up to the perfect picnic.

What have you been up to?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Another Busy, Sunny Day

The sun is streaming in through the windows.  Hubby is industriously chopping tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, doing his bit to keep the mound of tomatoes on the counter in check.  This is the mound.  I can't help showing it off a bit:  45 pounds of backyard garden goodness with more to come.

I've been taking advantage of the bright afternoon to take a bite out of my own mound -- all the handmade Christmas goodies that I've been making for the Dapple Design Shop.  Here's your very first sneak peak.

Yes, my Cloth Gift Bags are back for another season.  They're reusable, easy on the planet, and oh-so-pretty.  I'll be listing these very soon, so keep your eyes open.

Today I'm linking up with Angela at Pretty Little Inspirations.  Please drop by and visit a few of the online shops joining her link party.

Friday, 19 September 2014


Two weeks ago I spent the morning here.  I was comfortable in shorts, sporting a sun hat and sand between my toes.

The heady days of summer are not quite over, but they're losing interest in us, looking away more often.  Then back.  Then away.

Today I don a sweater in the morning but shed it two hours later.  I watch the garden, exhausted from it's season in the sun, droop and begin to yellow, even as the harvest rolls in.  We're caught between, lingering in one season and looking toward another.

Friday, 12 September 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge: Movement

This month's Photo Challenge is all about controlling shutter speed to capture a sense of movement in a photo.  This is all very new and very intriguing to me, so after pouring over Donna's suggested reading I found my camera's Shutter Priority setting and took my favorite moving target to the beach. 

Experiment #1:  Freeze Motion.  
She's just learned to jump and was more than willing to practice in front of the camera.  Here she is in mid-air.  It was a bright day and the picture is overexposed, but the alternative would have been to adjust the exposure compensation and lose that lovely smile to the shadows.  I've been contending with that little conundrum all summer and seeing faces always seems to win.  

Shutter: 1/640  Aperture: 4.5  ISO: 100

Experiment #2:  Blurred Motion.  
It takes 20 minutes walking along a forest trail to access this particular beach.  It's a beautiful walk and a lovely beach -- well worth the effort -- but a certain amount of prioritizing is necessary.  On this day, towels, snacks, bucket and shovel won out over the tripod.  I took this picture by steadying the camera atop a backpack frame.  The objective here was to use a slower shutter speed to blur the waves a little to create a softer image.  I included a bit of bare sand in the foreground for contrast.  When I compare this shot to others taken at the same time at faster shutter speeds, I'm not sure it made much of a difference.  I'm sure a tripod would have helped.  It was also a very still day.  Maybe the effect would work better with more wave action.

Shutter: 1/60  Aperture: 16  ISO: 100

Experiment #3:  Panning.  
Minimal success here too.  I think lack of practice is the main issue and I know what to do about that.  Looking at this picture, I also wonder if the background is too simple -- too horizontal -- to blur properly.  Thoughts, anyone?  At very least, I had a good time directing Little Miss's energies.  Though this picture doesn't look how I hoped it would (with a blurred background streaking past a crisp little girl) it certainly gives a sense of motion.  She's running like the wind.

Shutter: 1/80  Aperture: 16  ISO: 100

finally, A Word of Explanation
This is my first post in quite a while.  I stepped back in an effort to do one thing well rather than many things half way.  It's working too.  My Etsy shop is thriving.  But I miss a few things about this blog, so I'm back in a sort-of-kind-of way.  I'll post when I feel like it and you might see a little more about my shop.  At very least, I'll do this Photo Challenge because I enjoy it so much.

Joining, for the first time in a while, Donna's Personal Photo Challenge.