Tell Me More About . . . Maureen Wright, children’s book author

I remember the first time my son and I read a Maureen Wright book. It was “Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep,” the sweet story about a bear who is being reminded by Old Man Winter that he needs to sleep for the winter, but doesn’t seem to be able to hear him, so instead Big Bear ends up on a middle of the night adventure.

Each night we read it, we couldn’t only read it just once. My son would ask for it to be read again and again and it was one of the few books I didn’t mind repeating. The story is creative and catchy and the artwork by Will Hillenbrand is mesmerizing. Flash forward to now and there are now three Big Bear books and a collection of other books by Maureen that I now read to my 4-year-old daughter. Her current favorite is also Maureen’s best seller, “Sneezy the Snowman.”

What’s special about Maureen’s stories, beyond the fact they are a delight to read and the artwork is so stellar, is that they are written by someone who lives in the town my children and I now live in. Even though I’ve seen her often, either reading her book at the library, or selling her copies personally at local events, I still feel like I’m meeting a celebrity each time I see her, maybe because her stories have been such a part of the bonding time with my children.

I’m so thankful to Maureen for taking a few moments to answer some questions for this weeks Tell Me More About . . . feature and that I’m able to introduce her special books to my readers.

45095165_166161841001041_1170191499384586240_nCould you tell us a little bit about yourself, such as where you grew up, family, etc. ?

I grew up in Athens, PA. I met my husband, Don, at Main Elementary in Athens in fourth grade. We have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and three little grandsons We live in Athens Township in the old farmhouse his great-grandparents built in the 1880’s.

When did you realize you enjoyed writing?
I was in third grade when I knew I wanted to be a writer I was doing a writing homework assignment. I even remember where I was sitting in the house that I grew up in when this feeling came over me — an awareness that I loved to write.

 What made you decide to write books for children?

I loved reading books to my children when they were young It was my favorite thing to do with them.

What inspired you to write the Big Bear series?

I am a lot like Big Bear. We both usually think we are right and most of the time we are both wrong!

Which of your books seems to be the most popular among children?

“Sneezy the Snowman” is my best seller. I recently received a framed copy of the book from my publisher because it has sold over 100,000 copies. It was totally unexpected. At the time, I was waiting for my niece to mail me a picture frame. When I opened the package, I wondered, “Why did Anna put “Sneezy the Snowman” in the frame?” Then I read the plaque on the frame.

 What authors have inspired you over the years?

I have been inspired by any well-written rhyming book.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?

If I have a story I’m working on, I am excited to get out of bed in the morning to work on it. I read aloud my stories dozens and dozens of times to get the rhythm right. Whenever my cat Juanita hears me, she runs to my side and sits on the arm of the sofa. She is always the first one to hear my stories.

Do you have future projects coming up? Books or otherwise?

My next book is “Super Rooster to the Rescue” due out in August of 2020. Rob McClurkan is the illustrator. It will be my tenth picture book.

 Anything else you would like people to know about you or your books?

I love reading to children and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I was rejected by publishers for twenty years before an editor, Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish, took me under her wing. I will always be grateful to her for pulling my story out of “the slush pile.” (Unsolicited manuscripts on an editor’s desk.)


Do you know someone you think would be great for my Tell Me More About . . . feature? Maybe that someone is you! You, or the person you suggest, doesn’t need to be from my area to be featured. You can send any suggestions for features to lisahoweler@gmail.com or use the contact form at the top of the page.

Advertisements

Tell Me More About …. Tell Me More About features

My plan is for Monday’s to be for my “Tell Me More About. . .” feature. These posts are a chance to share about a variety of topics, from interviews with people, about places, activities, events, and concepts, for example. Since I didn’t have one lined up for this week, I thought I’d share a link to my past features and issue an invitation for you to suggest people, places, objects or events I can feature. Suggestions do not need to be local, as you will see from my past features. I love to feature artists and farmers and every day people who simply do everyday things. The sky really is the limit with Tell Me More About . . . With the main goal really being to widen all our horizons and highlight some of the more positive or interesting aspects of life.

If you have a suggestion for the feature you can leave me a comment on this post or email me at lisahoweler@gmail.com or you can contact me via my contact form at the top of the page.

Here are the links to the series so far:

Tell Me More About . . . Mina Mimbu, photographer (feature photo is hers)

Tell Me More About  . . . Jason Wheeler, chef

Tell Me More About . . . Mark Bradley, farmer 

Tell Me More About . . .Niki Boon, photographer

Tell Me More About  . . . Maria Hoover, artist and mom

Tell Me More About  . . .  Engelbert Farms

Tell Me More About . . . Deb Frisk, homeschooling parent and mom

Tell Me More About  . . . Sven Berger, photographer

Tell Me More About . . . Lisa Hurst, writer

Tell Me More About . . . D’Vine Vineyard

 

Tell Me More About . . . D’Vine Vineyard

When Dave Page found himself interested in growing a vineyard on his property in Columbia Crossroads, Pa., he had no idea the plot of land that he’d set aside for growing grapes would become a sought-after wedding destination for brides and grooms.

When you step outside the front door of Dave and Denise Page’s home there is a four-acre field lined with 1,800 grapevines of eight different varietals of grapes. Off to one side of what Dave calls “D’Vine Vineyard” (incorporating he and Denise’s names) is a handmade wooden pergola with a swing where brides and grooms pause to have their photos taken on their wedding day. Across the road from the vineyard is a rustic barn, sprawling cornfields, and a mini orchard of apple, peach and plum trees. Behind the barn is a pond that looks like a painting and an empty field perfect for setting up tents and tables for wedding receptions or other celebrations.

DSC_2543

DSC_2557Dave owns a total of 120 acres, part of which he rents out to a neighboring farmer to grow corn.

Denise says it was their niece who unwittingly started the now thriving wedding venue business in 2014 by telling the Pages she thought their rustic barn and the former working farm would be the perfect location for her wedding.

Though puzzled by the interest in the barn, built in 1907 by Dave’s great-grandfather, Fred, the Pages agreed to the request and began to prepare the space for wedding guests. The barn hadn’t been a working barn since Dave sold the cows off in the 1980s and was only being used to store equipment and hay. The Pages would soon learn that vintage, rustic, old-fashioned, or whichever term you might want to use, were becoming popular themes among young, and even older, couples as they looked for wedding venues.

DSC_2589

Their nieces’ wedding was photographed by Danielle Barden, a well-known wedding photographer from Tioga County, Pa., who shared the photos on social media, Denise says. The photos went semi-viral and more requests for the location began to flow in. The vineyard, located about 40 miles South of the New York Finger Lakes region, has booked close to 50 weddings and events since that first wedding in 2014.

DSC_2562The Pages were pleasantly surprised by the attention but didn’t make plans to quit their day jobs to start a full-time venue or event location.

Instead, Dave still works as a classifier for the American Holstein Association and Denise is a full-time nurse. A full-time event venue and winery may come someday, but not until they both retire, says Denise. For now, the pair books weddings or other events for the weekends, in a space where the renters do most of the work, including setting up and tearing down. Their children Brandon and Denee and daughter-in-law Cheryl help the Page’s run the business.

Denise and Dave never expected their site to become such an attraction, they say. The land began as a dairy farm more than 100 years ago and is one of only a few century farms in Bradford County. Five generations of Dave’s family farmed the land.

The farm was passed to Dave in the 1970s by his grandparents, Max and Louise VanVeghten. The barn is all the original wood, having only a new roof put on a couple of times over the years and some of the floorboards have been replaced. An addition was added around the time Dave took over. Dave has now turned the bottom of the barn, and part of the addition, into an area to press and ferment the wine, as well as a small bar area to be used to serve guests refreshments. The wine press is locked off from guests during events, per state law.

DSC_2592

Last year Dave also turned one of the old stalls into a changing room for the bride and her bridal party, complete with full-length mirrors, outlets for hairdryers and curling irons and even an old barber chair where hair stylists can prepare the bridal party members’ hair.

Dave added the deck to the back of the barn around the time of the first wedding.

Until he retires, Dave spends any free time he has testing wines, experimenting and sharing the results with a select few. He’s happy to show friends and family the wine bladder presses, the bulk milk tanks that he’s transformed to hold the wine, and the barrels where the wine ages, he says.

But for now he’s only making what he calls practice wine.

“We have a license in holding but we don’t bottle,” according to Denise. “We make wine for our own use. In the future probably we will do festivals.”

To learn more about booking D’Vine Vineyard visit their website at https://dvinevineyardandwinery.com/ or follow them on Facebook.

DSC_2569

Tell Me More About . . . Lisa Hurst, writer

Lisa Hurst is the author of a year long devotional she updates each week at 365 Days in the Presence. 

She also kindly wrote a guest post for this blog last year about victory.

Currently living in Athens, Pa., Lisa is a Southern girl (even if she is living in the North at the moment because, as “they” say, “you can take the girl out of the South but you can’t take the South out of the girl.”). She is the mom of four children and works from home in her and her husband’s business. She is a musician, worship leader, writer, and a strong woman of God.

Thank you, Lisa for letting me feature you on this installment of Tell Me More About…

000015__DSC9221Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am from Arkansas. The South has roots deep down inside my heart. In the same breath I am content and flourishing here in PA, while longing for the comforts of “home”. There is such beauty here, don’t get me wrong, but I think most people love their home state most. We all look forward to being able to move back there one day.

My husband and I run Hurst Consulting INC (HCI). We are blessed to be able to work side by side. When we were first married we discovered that we could work well together in a business setting, so deciding to have this business was not a big stretch for us, relationally speaking. We have 4 kids, Noah, Naomi, Micah, and Hannah. We adore them. I really love watching different personalities develop.

What fills your days?

My days are full. Ha ha. After I take the kids to school, I am either volunteering at school, working with Chris, writing, or planning and singing worship. It feels like this is the busiest my life has ever been, but it’s also the most satisfying. I love leading worship. It’s my first love.

000002__DSC9067---CopyHow did you become interested in writing? You are also a talented musician. How did you become involved in music and what inspires your musical passion? How do you use your talent?

Some of my earliest memories involve making up songs and humming tunes. Music has always moved me in a deep, deep place. After graduating High School, I went on to college and earned a Bachelors in Music with emphasis on vocal performance. That is where I really began to walk into my primary calling as a worship leader. The ups and downs of life almost took me over during the college years, and worship became an escape. Now, I take great pleasure in leading others into the Presence of the Lord through worship. I lead worship in several different venues, with a variety of age groups. I guess you could say my days are full of worship.

I began to write during college. When I hit rock bottom and began to search out what it meant to walk with Jesus, I got a devotional that also had a journaling section. That was the best decision ever. Writing became a release to me. Now writing is like a conversation. I talk to God, He talks to me. I just love it!

000001__DSC9062---CopyShortly after I married Chris, God began to tell me He wanted me to be a writer. I said, “You’re gonna have to make that happen. I have no idea where to start.” So, the last 13 years have been a journey toward developing as a writer and taking one small step of obedience after another. Writing 365 Days in the Presence devotional is one of those steps. As 2017 was nearing its end, I began to ask God for a word for my life in 2018.

Every year I ask Him for a word, and every year He gives one and I spend the next year watching that word develop in my life. But this time when I asked He said, “365 days in the Presence”. And I would say, “Ok. Now, what’s Your word for 2018?”. Once again, I heard, “365 Days in the Presence”. Then I saw in a snapshot, that He wanted me to commit to writing a devotional and publishing it weekly through 2018. I agreed and immediately after I went public with the idea, He spoke my word for 2018 to me. How cool is that? He wanted me to first obey a new calling, then He released a sweet word for my year.

What inspires you beyond your writing?

I am inspired by many things, but one thing I love more than most is watching kids and teens learn to hear from God. I wish I had been taught to hear and worship at that age, so it brings me great pleasure and encouragement to lead them into His presence. Kids can hear so easily. It’s truly humbling to listen to how God speaks so gently to their hearts.

000009__DSC9141.jpgWhat is the best part of being a Mom and home-based business owner?

The best part of being a mom and home-based business owner is the flexibility. Being mom is my first calling and priority. Working from home allows me the luxury of helping at school, and dropping off and picking up my kids from school. I like to encourage and pray with them in the mornings on the way to school, and I like being the one they process their day with on the way home from school. That is important and sacred time.

In a final note, I would say that one of the most important things I’ve discovered about being a wife and mother is, I must keep growing and “becoming” even while I’m taking care of everyone else. In other words, I can’t use being a mom as an excuse to not be continually walking with and being changed by God. In fact, I’ve watched my husband’s love for me increase the closer I walk with Jesus, and my kids act more stable and secure when I’m in constant communion with Him and ministering as He leads.

If you know a person, place, book or event that should be highlighted through a Tell Me More About feature let me know in the comments or at lisahoweler@gmail.com

Tell Me More About: Sven Berger, photographer

I’m so excited to welcome Sven Berger to my Tell Me More About. . . feature. Sven is a favorite photographer of mine who I first discovered on Flickr. He captures beautiful, whimsical images of his children and life in Germany. He is from Dresden, Germany where he lives with his three children and wife. His images have a magical, mysterious quality about them and I have to explore each inch of the frame when I see them. After seeing what’s in his camera bag I admit I’m jealous of his equipment. That 70-300? Sigh. I need to find a way to get one of those! 

Thank you for letting me feature you, Sven!

Tell us a little bit about you. Your background, where your from, etc.

I am a married photographer and father of three kids. Born in 1972, I grew up in Dresden, East Germany. My love for photography started early, when I was at school. I studied to become an IT professional. But after the birth of my first child photography became a passion for me again, as I tried to capture every second of the passing time. I am passionate about documenting real life moments and I am a long time contributor for Getty Images and specialize in people photography.  
 

How did you become interested in photography?

I was interested as a child in photography … at that time it was the film camera. I was using my SLR EXA1b camera but sold it after the reunion of Germany. With the birth of my first child I knew I had to take pictures – a lot of pictures – so bought my first digital camera – my Fuji FinePix E900. But I noticed very quickly that I need a DSLR  so thaf started my love affair with Canon.

What’s in your camera bag? 

Canon – still Canon. I am using my Canon 6D, most of the time with my 70-200 2.8L lens. It’s perfect when you want to capture children.  

What are your favorite subjects to photograph? 

I love to take photos of people – from the newborn age on up. I love to capture the daily moments and sometimes I do some fine art shoots. I am not a landscape photographer. I just started food photography too, something that  I really love.

What interests do you have beyond photography?

 I love nature. I love to be out there and I love music. I was born in 1972 so I am a fan of the 80s and a big fan of Depeche Mode.

What inspires you? In photography and in life.

In photography I got my inspiration from other photographers. There are so many awesome and great artists out there. It is such a great opportunity for us these days – we are able to got so much information and there is so much inspiration out there.  In life I got a lot of inspiration from many great persons in Germany just like Vera Birkenbihl, Wolf-Dieter Storl and Christian Bischoff. I am trying to have my very own opinion.

What advice do you have for other photographers or artists?

Find your way and don’t stop walking or moving forward. Do it and you will have fun and success.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

I adore Sally Manns work, Tytia Habing, Alain Laboile, Niki Boon, Cris Stephens. Yes all great black and white artists… and I know I forgot many.

Oh and I love the older work of Elena Shumilova and the magic which is Megan Loeks able to create. 

You can find Sven’s work at

www.svenberger.de

www.facebook.com/svenbergerfotografie

www.instagram.com/svenbergerfotografie

www.flickr.com/svenbergerfotografie

Tell me more about . . . Maria Hoover, artist and teacher

Maria Hoover is a mom, an artist, and a teacher from Stevensville,  Pa. She is the owner of Art on A Mission as well as the art teacher at North Rome Christian School, North Rome, Pa. Her business is a paint party business, where she teaches even those who don’t consider themselves artists how to paint and get in touch with their artistic side.

She has also been one of my best friend’s since seventh grade when we connected over a certain popular boy band from the late 80s/early 90s. 

Thank you, Maria for being part of this week’s Tell Me More About . . . feature

Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up in small town, Northeast Pennsylvania in a family of 7 counting my parents. I married my best friend in May of 2006 and bought a house the next month. Nine months later we welcomed our only child to this world. Being a wife and mom are the best things that have ever happened to me, daily it brings challenges, but it’s my best sense of security I can feel from another human. Although my full security rests in my God. Growing my relationship with Him is my biggest interest. He has brought me from places I never realized I was in, until He opened my eyes to His Love. I owe Him my life of service, and serving Him is my daily goal. I also love to cook, garden, and paint.

How did you become interested in art?

I have always drawn from a very young age, but my interest came when I was in elementary school art class. My teachers had always encouraged me, and complimented me on my ability. In first or second grade I decided I wanted to be an art teacher. Art was my favorite subject all through high school, I took as many art classes I could. After graduation I began working, and left behind my love of art. Getting an apartment, working, cleaning, a boyfriend, pets, shopping. That all stepped into my life and my art took a backseat.

 

For years I didn’t touch an art medium. The most a drew was maybe a doodle here or there while I was on the phone. I let the business of life take over and I lost who I was as a person in all of the demands of life. After I had my son, I was able to be home with him, and I started day dreaming about the enjoyment I had when I would ART. The relaxing effects it would have on me. The satisfaction of creating something that was pleasing to the eye. It was the one thing in my life I was proud of my self for, yet even a couple more years went by before I began to create again.

 

When Isaiah was 2, I started him with crayons and watercolors. it was a favorite thing for us to do together. He would scribble, I would draw basic pictures, teaching him colors and shapes. As he grew we began to make crafts and our mediums went from crayons to fingerprint and markers. Still in the basics of it all, the God that I had just made room for in my life just four years earlier was slowly returning a love that I had left behind. Because He had a much bigger plan for it than I knew.

How did you become an art teacher?

As I said earlier, in elementary school I wanted to become an art teacher – a preschool art teacher. In my innocence I didn’t realize preschool kids didn’t need an art teacher, but they mainly had one teacher that did everything with them. As I approached 11th grade, I daydreamed about going to an art college, but with lack of funding, not knowing anything about grants and a fear to leave my family, I quickly dismissed college.. And with a family who lacked in the encouragement I never pursued it even as I grew older.

At one point my mother said, “I wish you would have went to college for your art.” Because of my personality, I took that as “I am a disappointment” so art took an extreme back burner. After the summer off following graduation, I stepped into the work force. I worked at restaurants, and our local meat packing plant. There is where I met my husband. For six years art was forgotten.

And then, with the passing of my mother, depression, working, dating, and so many things that made my life busy, I honestly forgot who I was. Then I had a meeting with a God who revealed to me that I had a purpose, and that I am loved. Then came marriage and a baby in a baby carriage, and still no art. But God had sparked a longing in my heart. I started daydreaming now and then, about having my own studio, about painting or drawing but still no ART.

We began attending a church just before we got married. Six years after I began attending, I was helping with vacation Bible school, and quickly became the artist of the production. It was great! I helped others draw and paint backdrops, I created trees out of paper. For 4 years I helped transform our church every summer into another world. As people began to see my ability, one family in particular, had three girls that attended a Christian school and the oldest girl told me one day that I should come teach at their school, that they needed an art teacher. At the time I laughed it off. In my insecurity I told myself I couldn’t teach art. I didn’t go to school for teaching. I only remembered how much I loved art. How could I possibly be an art teacher?

 The thought crossed my mind often in the next few months. “I couldn’t be an art teacher”, became “Could I be an art teacher?”. The school year began with Isaiah started kindergarten, and I was babysitting while he was at school at the same Christian school. As I continued to question if I could even be an art teacher, God was positioning me to do just that. I was offered a job driving the very school van that took Isaiah to and from school. I accepted it, opening up the entire day at the very school I was delivering kids to every day. Not long after I took on that job as a school van driver, I also accepted the position of art teacher at North Rome, and here I am 5 years later, doing the exact thing I said I could never do.

That’s what happens when God has a plan for you, and you don’t believe it.

What medium do I enjoy the most, and why?

 I enjoy every medium I have been able to experience.. Watercolor and pen and ink together are a favorite but I would have to say acrylic paint has to be my most favorite right now. I had never got to work with it too much until recently, and I have found it challenging, yet the finished product is beautiful. I have learned so many new techniques, and love teaching it to my students.

What other activities do you enjoy?

I think my favorite pass time is being with Quentin and Isaiah doing something fun. We have recently began kayaking together, and we enjoy it so much. I also like gardening. It’s so rewarding when the flowers are full and beautiful, and the vegetables are part of your dinner table, (if you have been able to ward off the weeds.) I also like entertaining, having friends and family over, campfires and fellowship.

 

How important is art to a child’s education?

 I believe art is essential to a child’s education. Especially those children who express themselves with the product of their hands. Art comes in so many forms and every one of them are essential. I think when a person does not have the ability to Art, rather it be drawing, painting, sculpting, constructing, photography, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, theater,..they loose who they really are and then are unable to live out their purpose God has created them for.

___

All images by Lisa R. Howeler and some of them are available for sale at Lightstock or Cavan.

To submit ideas for a Tell Me More About … feature email lisa at lisahoweler@gmail.com or use the contact form under Info at the top of the page. People featured in Tell Me More About are from various walks of life, backgrounds and jobs because we all have a story to tell. 

 

Tell Me More About . . . Niki Boon, photographer

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and honored that Niki Boon, one of my favorite photographers, is on my blog today sharing her photography journey and some of her amazingly breathtaking black and white images. She took the world by storm a couple of years ago when her images of her children simply being children in rural New Zealand went viral. Her images capture a universal view of childhood that so many can relate to. I know for me, looking at them not only makes them think of my own childhood with fondness, but also strive to create a similarly relaxed and free childhood for my own children. I’m completely drawn into Niki’s world, maybe because she chooses all her images to be showcased in black and white and my focus is on what is happening in the image, versus the distractions of color. In addition to the black and white magic of her images, she also uses layering in so many of her images, which add outstanding depth to the story. Thank you to Niki for finding time in her busy schedule of raising her wild and free children and showcasing her beautiful art to tell me and my blog readers a bit about her journey.

 Images by    Niki Boo  n  Used with permission by the artist.
Images by Niki Boo n  Used with permission by the artist.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Niki?

I grew up on a farm in the north island of New Zealand, one of five children in our family. I trained as a physiotherapist at university , and spent a glorious 4-years traveling and working overseas, eventually drawn back to my roots and the country I was born into. I was happy to be home , knowing that this is exactly the place I want to bring up my four wild and free children.

With my husband, we live on a 10 acre property with goats, sheep, chickens, ducks and a dog, small vineyard and surrounded by hills, bush , rivers, and wild coast line – all ours to explore.

We made the decision to educate our children at home , and it has been quite the journey so far.

How did you become interested in photography?
 

My interest in photography started when I traveled and worked overseas after graduating from university

My first lesson in black and white photography was back when I first picked up an SLR camera in my late 20’s. Whilst I was living in England I enrolled in a weekend  dark room course, where I spent a glorious two, cold wintery days locked in a tiny room with four others learning how to process and print black and white film.

I fell totally under the spell of the wonder of creating my own prints from scratch. I remember, so well, the endless winter weekend I spent in the darkroom immersed in the magic of it all…. the absolute best way to spend a cold and bleak northern English winter.

I never really focused on it again too much until we decided to educate our children alternatively at home. I knew I wanted to document our days , but I felt that my photography skills were limited , so I put a lot of late nights into researching how to improve my craft. I have taken the long journey of learning how to process an image digitally and the endless search for finding a process that I can love as much as I did my film prints from years ago

 

What’s in your camera bag?

 

Up until 2 months ago I shot with a canon 5d mkiii with a 35mm lens. But my canon has been absolutely hammered and taken a lot of places I am sure were not good for it ..and bits are falling of it , and malfunctioning all over the place.. so I recently invested in an Fuji XT2 ( with a 28mm (eqiv) lens which I hope to get .. which I am still building some sort of relationship with.

How do you manage to capture such authentic images with your children?
 

I think my kids are just used to having a camera around them .. they just carry on , they are usually so absorbed in their games , the just get on with it… It is really them that create the pictures , they are the authentic and creative ones, me.. I am just the one that happens to have the camera.

 

Did your sudden popularity in the photographyworld take you by surprise?

 

Yeah .. for sure … It was at the suggestion of a friend that I entered a few competitions one year , I didn’t expect to gain places in them, so that was an interesting and exciting time. I was asked to do an interview with an American website on the back of one of  the competitions outcomes and from there, the pictures somehow went viral, with a lot of the websites having never had communication or approval from me at all. It was a crazy time for me. I just went with it to be honest and waited till it all passed and now, well there are still a few interview requests, but they few and far between , and I haven’t entered any competitions for quite a while now. I think that time was just fleeting for me.

How has the extra attention changed life for you? Good and bad? More good than bad? Or maybe not bad at all?

It was a crazy time for sure .. but as I said above, it eventually settled down and after a few weeks I was back to the place I was before . Although having said that , it has opened doors to experiences, opportunities and challenges that I may not have had without the exposure . I have been asked to speak at a couple of conferences, a challenge that I took up (despite being petrified about public speaking) , I have also recently been asked to exhibit a few pictures at a photography festival , which is also very exciting.

I hope to  keep taking pictures and documenting a childhood, and will continue to do it for as long as the kids are OK with it. If something else comes of it – books , or exhibition etc.I would love to entertain that.

But basically, at home, I am still Mum- still make the dinners and lunches, fold the washing , work daily logistics of kids extra-curricular activities, wrangle animals, and moderate sibling squabbles and when I have time , take a few photos. Nothing changed there.

What inspires you?
 

I think my inspiration is predominantly the kids. I am fascinated with who they are, the things they get up to, and how they see and exist in the world.

I am inspired by so many photographers. I am ever so slowly building up a small photobook collection with artists I have been inspired by. I think I am drawn to documentary photographers more than any other genre. I am inspired by their art , but also their passion and drive for their stories and their subjects. Eugene Richards is a photographer who’s work I look at over and over.Being outdoors is a big motivator for me too.

 

What advice do you have for other photographers?

It’s not very original … but there is a piece of advice I  read a couple of years ago from a photographer I am inspired by, who said … if things get tricky with your picture taking ” get out there and shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot through the block, even if what you are shooting is uninspiring. Just keep shooting.”

Find more of Niki’s work at:

Facebook

 

Website

 

Instagram

Tell Me More About . . . Mina Mimbu, artist and photographer

What a thrill for me to feature Mina Mimbu this week! Her work is captivating and catapults the viewer into another world. 

Mina was born and raised in Japan until 14, then moved to beautiful New Zealand.  She has two boys, two and one, who are often the subjects of her work.

“They’ve been keeping me very busy!” she says.

Thank you to Mina for participating!

How did you become interested in photography?
I always loved photography since I was young, but I started taking it seriously after my first boy was born. Like most of ‘momtographers,’ I wanted to document my children growing up.

What’s in your camera bag?
I don’t carry a camera bag! I really wish I could, but I have to carry a large nappy (diaper for Americans) bag instead! My favorite gear is my Sony a7r2, 24-70 mm F2.8 and 85 mm f1.4, which I use most of the time to shoot my children. I have to carry a heavy bag and hold my kids so I love mirrorless cameras because they are really small and light weight.

How do you come up with the amazing images you create? What inspires you?
Children are my biggest inspiration. I believe they see a world differently than us adults.
I think the world to them is much bigger, brighter and more colorful, and full of wonder and excitement. I want to see it, capture it, and create an art of how they are seeing the world. I want people to see the world of childhood through my images. I hope my photographs make people feel something.I hope they make people wonder and dream.

What advice do you have for other photographers or digital artists?
Enjoy shooting! There are no rules in art. Experiment! I used to get caught up with reaches and followers and likes on social media and it was affecting my confidence. But then I realized I am not shooting for numbers. I shoot because that’s what I love doing. I am grateful for social media as I have had amazing opportunities and made wonderful friendships. But it isn’t everything. Don’t equate the value of yourself with how many reaches and likes you have. Just keep enjoying shooting!!!

 

Learn more about Mina and her work on her Facebook page, Instagram and website.
 

Tell me more about . . . Jason Wheeler, chef

This is the first in a series called “Tell Me More About .  . .”  where I feature local, and sometimes non-local, people of interest or simply interesting subjects

This week I’ve asked local chef Jason Wheeler to share a bit about himself for my blog readers.

Jason Wheeler is the Chef at The Greenhouse Market & Cafe in Sayre.  He lives in Elmira, NY with his wife, Sara, and  their two kids, Ethan and Evelyn, as well as their two new kittens, Bruticus and Yoshi.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jason

I was born in Elmira but raised in Eden Prairie, MN.

I have my bachelor of arts from Mansfield in Spanish Language.

How did you end up co-owning a restaurant?

The plan was to enter the world of international business after graduating from college, but my father had recently retired and decided to open a bakery cafe, so into the new family business I dove.

I began as a server until it became my turn to fill in as cook.  I was 23 and didn’t even know how to make a grilled ham and cheese but I watched a lot of Food Network, read a lot of cookbooks, and took a second job cooking on the same line as a classically trained chef and an instructor at a culinary school. They watched me cook, I asked a million questions, and really learned a lot.

Now more than 10 years later and I am chef at a farm to table restaurant that has an on site hydroponic greenhouse in which I grow as much produce as possilble for our kitchen 12 months out of the year. We have established a network of 15 local farms & suppliers that provide us with the freshest food in the area. Our restaurant has been accredited by the Culinary Institute of America as an approved internship site for their students to spend their requisite time cutting their teeth prior to graduation. We are also the undefeated People’s Choice Champion two years running at the Tioga Downs Casino’s annual burger contest. We are changing the food culture and reminding people that the best food really is grown close to home.

What is the best part of owning your own farm-to-table restaurant?

I would have to say that the most rewarding aspect of having this type of restaurant is harvesting fresh produce and carrying it through the dining room and immediately cooking with it.

Well, actually, receiving deliveries in the back door and having the person that raised and grew the food hand it directly to me and look me in the eye is pretty rewarding, encouraging, and inspiring all in one.

This is how things used to be done.

It’s just better for the community!

The money we would be mailing off to {a national food distribution company} is staying local and helping to boost our own shared economy.

Actually, now that I think of it, the absolute most rewarding part of having this type of restaurant is seeing my children eat healthier and take a genuine interest in eating real food. Our 7 year old daughter in particular helps mix the nutrients and test their saturation, then test their PH level.

She helps prune and maintain the plants in the greenhouse as well as their harvesting. She loves to help me in the kitchen and help my Dad in the bakery.

Seeing her grow up with a genuine interest in food is magical. (for too long she was a chicken nugget, tater tot, and hot dog gal…)


You can learn more about  The Greenhouse Market and Cafe on their website, Facebook page, or Instagram.  All images for this post were taken by and copyrighted by Lisa R. Howeler