Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain

My Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain

Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; Big balanced rock

Big Balanced Rock. Probably got this way from the upheaval of the Flood.


Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; Big balanced rock marker

Yesterday, I hiked Balanced Rock Trail. There’s a little balanced rock and a big one.

Hi Everyone!

Yesterday I took my little Nikon d7000 out when I was hiking on the Rainbow Mountain trails.

My purpose was 3-fold:

  1. Get exercise doing something fun–hiking
  2. Gather photos for a blogging about the trail
  3. Learn how to use my camera better

The exercise is pretty obvious.  I get a nice workout walking and climbing over the boulders on the upward steep.  It’s a wonderful time of year to hike because the temperatures are lower, so I don’t have to worry about the stifling humidity.

I just love taking photos for my blog.  I probably like that part of blogging more than writing.  Writing takes work.  Photographic people, landscapes, and old houses is just play.  I’d love to be a photographer for Nat’l Geographic or Southern Living.

Speaking of photography, it’s a wonderful time of year for taking photos on the trail.  The leaves are just now beginning to change, but the foliage is still pretty and lush for the most part.

My favorite part of photography is composition.  I’ve had enough art classes to be confident in my use of composition and color, but my DSLR camera still has been baffled.  I understand that the three major points of photography are aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.  However, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around aperture.  It seems so confusing that the lower the f-stop, the larger the aperture.  Yesterday, I took 3 pictures of the same object using 3 different f-stops (Sigma 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 lens):  22, 10, and 4.  Now, I think I get it.  An f-stop of 4 let in wayyyyyyyyy too much light.  22 left my shots underexposed, and 10 was just about right for clicking in the woods.

Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; Madison park bench

Park bench with “M” that stands for the town and county of Madison.


Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; forest leaves

Pretty leaves reflect God’s intricate design.


Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; Balanced Rock, boulder

Pretty forest berries. I don’t know if they are edible and don’t plan to find out.


Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; Tree with Rainbow Mountain Balanced Rock marker

These are poke berries. Now, I know these guys aren’t edible. You can boil the leaves, however, to make a poke berry salad.


Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; Second tree with Rainbow Mountain Balanced Rock marker

The leaves are just barely changing colors.


Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; View of Huntsville, Alabama

Pretty view toward Huntsville.


Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; View of Madison County



Photo Hike on Rainbow Mountain; Forest leaves


My Visual Journal

I’m loving this Visual Journal! I bought it at Hobby Lobby with a gift card that Mom and Dad gave me at Christmas.

Love it!


I’ve got a Journaling board on Pinterest where I collect ideas for the journal and the artwork therein.

I got this 100 Things that I Love idea from Liz Bernard, right here.


100 Things that I Love.

And I made this one from magazines and junk mail letters that I cut out and pasted together. I got the idea from Amy at Mod Podge Rocks!


Love Collage.

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest! If you like the ideas, please use them as you wish and link back to me.

Finding Willis… a Missing Person and an Amazing Reunion


The other day I made a quick stop at Wal-Mart in the small town of Athens, Alabama. Again, “small town” is relative. Huge compared to my home (unincorporated) town of Jachin, actually.

I stuck my eggs, sausage, sharp cheddar, and Pillsbury in the back seat. I had a craving for Mom’s Breakfast Casserole earlier. I’ll have to give you that recipe some time.

So, anyway, I opened the driver’s side car door and pivoted to sit down, but a small piece of paper on the pavement caught my eye.

It was folded in sixes and had writing on it. I nearly passed it up, but my curiosity got the better of me. What could be written on it?

I picked it up and opened the folds.

To my amusement, there was a pen and ink drawing of a man. The cartoon balloon introduced the man to me:

“I’m Willis M.”

It was a sketch of a muscular young man, wearing a hard hat, jeans, a pocketed t-shirt, and work boots. He had heavy brows and a dark beard.

Probably some guy who worked in a construction job of sorts. The word I’m didn’t have an appostrophe (I tend to really notice things like that), so the art was either done by someone who didn’t score good grades in English or he was too rushed to bother with grammar.

The back of the sheet had a hurried caricature of another guy. The balloon said, “Ho Ho I’m Santa Matt W.” It must have been done next because it was on the back of the paper and wasn’t done with the careful detail of the first drawing. (I’m using a lot of deductive skills here, dear Watson.)

Really, I was quite impressed with the artist’s work. So I had to share it with all of you. I also like Willis’ first and last name. It sounds like a great name for the guy in the drawing, but I don’t want to hurt the Willis’ and Matt’s privacy by publishing it online. I went to 411 and searched on the men’s names but had no luck.

The paper was so clean that I’m sure that it was dropped only that morning. I can imagine a couple of guys stopping at Walmart for sodas or to buy their lunch for the day. They are sitting in a utility truck, goofing off with the artist’s skills with a pen.

“Here ya go,” says the artist. “You can keep it.”

“Yeah, man, it looks just like me,” answers Willis. He opens the door to go inside the store and carelessly stuffs it in his rear pocket, accidentally pulling it back out along with his hand. The square of paper flutters, un-noticed, to the ground.

I can think of lots of story plots about Willis. And it may aven be crucial that I post this.

For example.

Willis’ family has been searching for him. His father is very ill, but Willis and his dad have been estranged for years. Willis’ sister in Canada sees this blog. It’s her beloved brother, long lost. Sister responds to my blog, “Please tell me where you found the drawing. We’ve got to be in touch with Willis!”

I tell her. They hire a private detective and send him to Athens. He finds Willis.

Yay, I saved the day. Kismet and all that. The story ends up on the Today Show… They even bring Katie Couric back to do an exclusive interview of me, my new artist buddy, Matt, and Willis. I meet Matt Lauer and Ann Curry (is she still on the show?). Al Roker gives me a big hug. Woo-hoo, I’m the hero. I get a book contract…

Oops. I forgot.

It’s not all about me, right?

It’s really about Willis finding his way back to his family in Canada. Also, Willis’ father gets well because seeing his son is a balm to his health. And Willis is reunited with his fiancée, and our book deal helps them to build their starter dream house. Willis gets me to help him with his English grammar. It’s all so wonderful. All because I found the line drawing of Matt and Willis in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Athens, Alabama.

Small Shops and Antiques

Painting on one of the old historical buildings.

Painting on one of the old historical buildings.

Maybe you’ve read my blogs about my parent’s store, “Jachin Grocery.” We basically sold everything that the big box stores sell but on a smaller scale. When Dad would come in from closing each day, Mom often would ask, “How was business?”

Well, her habit rubbed off on me. I sometimes ask store managers about how business is going at their small stores. I really like the little ones to succeed. It’s a lot of hard work to try to make a profit, and it’s more than a 40-hour a week job.

So today I am going to post about some of the unique antique stores, boutiques, and the local restaurant that I visited in Cullman last Saturday.

Abandoned doorway.

Abandoned doorway.

Vintage West.

Vintage West.


While walking around on 3rd Street, I discovered The Shops at 3rd Street Promenade, which is housed in a restored hundred-year-old building. Replete with a tiled ceiling and exposed bricks, this unique shop is run by a very nice young couple, Steve and Stacie C. They sell everything from jewelry to furniture to home decor. My favorite piece was a small sign painted on tin that said Faith in lots of different colors. (May have been with acrylic paint.) fPromenade2


I was getting really hungry, so Steve recommended that I try a yummy deli that had been featured in Southern Living magazine. It was called “Rumors Deli and Coffee House,” and it was soooooooo good! No one likes a coffee house better than I, I’m sure. I highly recommend the Aloha Combo for $7.99. It consists of honey ham, provolone & parmesan cheese, mustard, mayo, onions, pineapple, green peppers on an onion bun, and their own Aloha sauce.

M-m-m, it was so good.

Aloha, y’all!

Belly full, I then discovered Cullman’s warehouse district, a long row of small boutique-like shops such as Vintage West

I spent a lot of time in Handbags & Gladrags, a women’s clothing store at 106 1st Ave NE. The lady was just so nice. We talked for a long while, and I took lots of pictures because the store décor was so creative. Not to mention their clothes and accessories. The lady placed my purchase in one of their gift bags. (I had bought a cool, boho chic cardigan made from a t-shirt-like fabric.) The bow on the gift bag was made from torn tissue paper. The lady gave me a demo of how to make it, and I’ll share it with you. If you go, be sure to pet the store cat, Alley, who went missing for a few days before being found.

Handbags & Gladrags with Alley the cat.

Handbags & Gladrags with Alley the cat.

Roses to pin on your clothes.

Roses to pin on your clothes.



I forgot to mention, before I even really got into Cullman, I saw an “Estate Sale” sign. I had to go check it out. I scored two nice, wooden bar stools for $20. Yay! I needed them for my counter, which has been begging me for bar stools ever since we built the house. Now Princess Buttercup can sit there while she eats an after-school snack and chats with me.

I’ve got a question, Everyone. What should I do with them? Here are the options:
1. Paint them bright green for a pop of color.
2. Go conservative and stain the wood a dark brown…or, really, I like the idea of a bright green wood stain.
3. Paint or stain them a dark gray-blue to match my dishes and the hanging lamp over the counter.

Would love to have your feed-back, Everyone!


Directions for Handbags & Gladrags Bow:

1.  Tear off small pieces of tissue paper.

2.  Layer paper at interesting angles.

3.  Staple center.

4.  Scrunch layers to hide staple.

5.  Fluff out and tape/glue on bag.