The New Camera + Christmas Planned Early

Have you ever seen something with your own eyes that you wish you could capture and convey with the kind of vividness that so few cameras can grasp?

I do. All the time! Perhaps it’s because I foresee so many memories being made in the near future that I would love to treasure forever using something a little more powerful than my iPhone. With some big events and a special project coming up, I decided to start capturing those personal images with something that could also teach me a few lessons on photography. Ok, a LOT of new lessons. Like what ISO means. Yeesh.

After deciding that DSLR was too impractical and costly for the beginner that I am, and that the versatility of the point-and-shoot can be limited, I found out about the happy medium of a compact system camera. A great example of a compact system is the Sony NEX series. For budget-conscious rookies like me, the 3nl or a5000, made the most sense. It provides us a little room to grow as we could eventually experiment with different lenses. We are slowly, but surely learning more about it in our hands more than just reading about it.

Highly recommended by a survey done on several pro photog friends of mine (they are smart friends to have!), the 3nl/a5000 felt like the best choice for my needs.

We love it so far! So, what could we possibly be shooting with this camera that we can’t catch on our phones? Well here’s a list:

1. Family. Includes the pup, parents, siblings, and good friends.
2. Each other. I see how much we’ve changed and grown in the last eight (YES, EIGHT) years we’ve known one other that I would hate to miss a beat. Plus, I think we’ve gotten better-looking with age ūüėČ
3. Babies. When we start having mini-Ryan’s running around, it’s over. I’m snapping every move and freckle.
4. Our trips. We have a few in the works including a road trip to Disneyland!
5. My special Christmas gift project.

To elaborate on #5, I want to first warn you that this project is still in its infant stages of designing and planning. Any feedback or suggestions are welcome! For Christmas this year, I want to give my mother-in-law, and two sisters-in-law a Will family cookbook. All four of us married into the predominantly-male Will clan, but have offered so much rich history and flavor to the family tree. What I realized from my last trip to my parents’ home country of the Philippines is that you can literally eat your way through history. Ever morsel, ingredient and dish has a significance of where someone came
from and the experience they had there. To me, that’s the most amazing thing you can pass on to your children. History and food.

With the help of this handy camera and some lighting techniques, I hope to take photos of some delicious dishes that we as Will women create in the next few months. Everything from my mom-in-law’s grandmother’s trusty pie crust recipe that we all use now to the Navarro family favorite, a peach pie learned from a Navy wives club.

Combining all these great recipes into one book is something that would make a great gift one day to our children and grandchildren. A little piece of our generation, honoring past generations.

With the help from a designer friend who has an incredible portfolio, we’re coming up with a great book design. Something vintage, classic and timeless.



I can’t wait to share my progress! And of course, the final product. In the meantime, I look forward to also sharing some fun images that show how we view our life and the world around us, day by day.

‚̧ MW

 

Health Hiatus + Home Body’ing

Greetings friends! So sorry that we’ve been a little out of touch lately. Due to some health situations, we have been preoccupied with getting better.

For starters, unfortunately, our pup is scheduled to have knee surgery on July 18th. Due to some wrestling with bigger dogs, his ACL is at risk of tearing completely and his knee cap is a little out of place, causing some limping. After consulting three doctors, x-rays and lots of tests, we finally settled on a great doctor at the Lynnwood VCA per the recommendation of a trusted vet tech and beagle-mom.

It’s incredible how much you would do and sacrifice for the health of your baby. We’ve sold a few items and skimped on a few luxuries to save quite a bit of money for his surgery without going into debt. But with the surgery date approaching, part of me is in denial of how sad I’m going to be to see my little guy in recovery. His quality of life is at stake, so we are doing anything we can to make sure Elvis can have the best years of his life

So any prayers and support are welcome! And if you know of anyone in the PNW who is interested in a motorcycle, let us know! It would help us out a quite a bit ūüėČ


I also had some minor surgery myself, but without going into too much detail, I’m glad to be myself again and marching forward after a rough couple of months. ¬†In an effort to keep getting better–possibly even better than before–we decided to do a 10-day green cleanse, based on a book recommendation from a friend. If you’re ever curious about drinking yummy (like Ryan-approved yummy) green smoothies as your daily meals, check out the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by J.J. Smith. ¬†It made meal-prep super easy, the grocery list pretty short and efficient for a busy schedule, and it resulted in clean bodies and better sleep, something we both benefited from over the course of the cleanse. ¬†The nutritionist author did warn that social events were to be avoided in some cases. Getting hangry for the bad foods we crave is bound to happen, especially when you go out to dinner with the whole family. While everyone is eating burgers, pies, and drinking beautiful beers, you’re having to peck through rabbit food and praying the pre-made smoothie in your car isn’t getting warm.

I’ve sold you on this idea, I’m sure. But I swear it’s worth a try!

Also, with the recovery I’ve gone through, I was very thankful for getting spoiled by a great husband who has taken the “Honey-Do List” to a whole new level. ¬†Our cozy little home is getting a lot of love!

1. The Firepit

One afternoon, I looked at the excuse of a firepit that was there before, which is the view from our bedroom bay window. Not a fan of the lack of aesthetic appeal in our backyard, I mentioned doing a new firepit in passing. Fast forward a few weeks later and this pops up! Cost us about $200 for everything including chairs ($15 @ Lowe’s), blocks ($120 @ Lowe’s), sand (free from our sandpit), pebbles ($30 @ Bremerton’s Soil Factory), leveler+spray paint for perfect leveling and circle cutting ($20 @ Home Depot). Full blog post on this to come, authored by the one and only beard himself!

Add s’mores, string lights and Billie Holiday Pandora… and you have a summer evening with the Wills!

2. Front yard cleaning

From jungle…

to oasis!

3. Gardening. Y’all. I GARDEN now. Here’s my pretty rhubarb that makes for a delicious crisp.

So that’s it for now! Like I said earlier, Ryan will breakdown how to do a fancy firepit on a budget. We will also introduce some images from a new camera we purchased. Stay tuned!

‚̧ MW

Face-lifts and soul-lifts

Shores
It’s been a tough couple weeks, to say the least. Without going into much detail, just know we’re doing a lot better physically and emotionally thanks to the power of prayer with a heaping spoonful of hope and ice cream. Just in time for spring, we decided to do some cleaning, slight home improvements and take an impromptu trip in an effort to celebrate growth. It’s times like these that make me thankful that Ryan can be home for rebuilding. So much of my personal trip-ups in the past have been a solo battle, with my battle buddy being miles away or having to go to work. He’s proving his worth, so I’ll keep him around ūüėČ

We started with a trip to Ocean Shores, a small beach town a couple hours west of us here in Washington. Expecting rain all day, we decided to load up Elvis in the new car anyway and go.

Oh yeah! We bought a new car. After selling my trusty, but old ’98 Honda Civic, and being stuck with a gas hog of a Jeep, we decided to get something that will last us forever and save us a lot on fuel. So far so good!

…back to the beach. It rained the entire drive there, but as rain-lovers we relished in the Pacific Northwest green-ness of it all while listening to the Black Keys on Pandora. Us Wills are electric blues lovers no matter the weather.

After arriving in a place we haven’t been to in years, the sun came out. We got to do something special with our one and only baby and introduce him to an ocean beach. What I love about Elvis is how curious he is because of his hound dog blood, but also his sweet innocence. You can see that in a lot of young dogs, but there’s something about him that warms my heart. It makes me want to take him all over the world and explore the terrain of different places. If anything, he got a dose of how loved he is by Ryan and I. Adventures aren’t the same unless we bring Elvis along.
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We did some windy¬†kite-flying and running around, Ryan and I decided to walk around the shops in town before the rain would start coming in again. Simple times, good memories. Once the rain came, we drove around to see the empty beach houses whose residents were probably working away at home in preparation for a summer at Ocean Shores. We worked up an appetite and visited an old Will family favorite, Galway’s. Irish food and beer! Chowder, soda bread and Guiness… yum.

We picked up some ice cream, did some doughnuts on the beach before making the drive back home. It was kind of blessing to find time to do this on a weekend, after being so busy since Ryan’s schedule opened up Saturdays for us. Laughter, a bit of (happy) tears, and just getting our minds off the heavy stuff is what we needed to recharge and face reality with the best attitude.

As for the house, we managed to clear out some old furniture, get rid of tons of new clothes and do some painting! Again!

Our bedroom went from a dark red to a tropical blue, offset with grey, green and reddish oranges to bring out a Maui-like appeal that helps us fall asleep. We also picked up a couple of great flea market finds for the hallway and dining room and have decided that the green-thumb owners before left us too much work to maintain. So the plan is to clean up the front yard with some hired help. I’m a little too embarrassed to show you what it looks like right now!

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The bedroom with a fresh, tropical twist

The timing of our growth and change couldn’t come during a better season. Springtime is a good opportunity for us to refresh, restart and recharge for what’s ahead. I’m no marriage expert, but tackling some of these challenges together can be a challenge in it of itself, however, it’s always helped to remind each other that we have common goals to reach. We aren’t perfect at all on our own, let alone with each other. That’s why there are the good times with the bad, and the sickness with the health. The imperfection has been a gift.

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MW

Working Woman

Before I get into this, I want to first express my appreciation for stay-at-home parents. The job you have is among the toughest in the world and I applaud some you for not only taking criticism, but making said critics eat their words when you are able to invest your time in your children and your home. Like any other job, many take advantage of the position you’re in and try to make you look bad. Stand strong and believe me when I say that my post isn’t directed to you. It’s directed to the people who seem to lack the basic quality of understanding and have nothing better to do than judge people who are different. People like me.

I get asked a lot why I work outside the home. Why I work full-time. Why I work an hour away. Why I can’t get laundry done more than a couple times a week. Why my husband has to¬†prep dinner some nights. Why I¬†have to spend¬†MY money on vacations.¬†Why. Why. WHY.

The people who ask me this do not typically work outside the home. They aren’t hands-on parents/homemakers and are easily distracted by other people’s business. Some don’t have a job that they operate FROM home (shout out to my photographer and entrepreneur friends who DO!). Yet they know so much about my circumstance and have established a distaste for what I have.

I could tell you about my upbringing, how my mother made it to America and SUCCEEDED on her own ambitions and work-ethic. I could tell you about my parents’ push to get my through college so that I had better options for work. I could also tell you how blessed I was to have a lot of my basic necessities as a kid simply because my parents worked to provide that for us.

But you knew that when you judged me, didn’t you?

I could tell you that I (gasp) actually love my job and that if I can pass the time being productive AND earn money, then jackpot! I could tell you that in this day of shaky health care plans, I am able to provide my husband, myself and our future children with the best providers in the North West. That when the VA failed my husband and countless other vets who gave their youth and vigor for shitty care and disregard, I can step in and make it all better.

Wait! You knew that. My bad.

Lastly, I could tell you that I have a retirement savings and a college savings for our future kids so that we could continue the cycle of giving our offspring what my parents gave us.

My desire to work doesn’t come without the consequences of not being able to be home and walk my dog on any sunny day. Not being able to try more new recipes to feed my family. I can’t even fold laundry without it being a big pile. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any¬†other way. With time management, I can walk my dog on a sunny weekend, properly prepare a list of ingredients to try¬†a new recipe, and watch a funny show with my husband as I fold laundry.

Being a breadwinner–not even the main one—as a woman somehow makes people question your relationship. I knew when the Beard and I decided to get married that it was clear what our roles were. No threatened womanhood or manhood here. But thank you for asking!

I’m not missing out. I’m soaking in every bit of our life together as best I can. After being apart from Ryan for SO long during his deployment, trips to the field, and school, we both learned that our time together is limited and precious. It’s worth to the work and separation.

I have to admit, for a while I wanted to stay at home after having kids. But who says I can’t strike a happy medium and balance something? Who says one way is better than the other anyway? We love the home and life we built together and the adventures we’ve been able to take around the world. None of this would be possible without my part and I am happy to contribute.

The reality is, we are ok. We will be ok. And it’s because of solid goals that our children won’t suffer in a home that is lacking in good work ethic and the appreciation for quality time.

So while you sit there and judge me, insinuating I’m a lackluster wife, dog-mother, homemaker or whatever job you don’t see me succeeding at, take a second and look at what you’re doing to us as women, as fellow human beings. Women’s rights didn’t stand for just working women, it stood for you too. Don’t shit on that civil movement by putting down one of your own in an effort to put yourself on a pedestal.

Your struggle is different than mine. Your success is different than mine. It would behoove you to understand that there is such thing is diversity and if what I’m going through interests you so much, then try it sometime. Until then, please show some respect. We need each other to break the stereotypes that malign us to begin with.

*DROP THE MIC*

Kenneth H. Will

grandpa

Kenneth H. Will was born and raised in Cleveland, served in the US Army during World War II in Europe, and returned home a decorated veteran.  He was the father of five, grandfather of 13, great-grandfather of 19.

But of the legacy he left, my favorite part was the impact he made on Ryan’s life. Ryan has had a lot of great figures he’s looked up to over the years from the church, the Army, his own father and brothers–but Grandpa was a special connection for him that he carried with him through childhood up through adulthood.

BA

I tried to make it a point to call Grandpa every other week or so to check on him and catch up as long as he could manage. No matter how weak in health he was getting due to the cancer, the man remembered the name of every single person in the family. And without fail, he would beam with pride about Ryan’s Army service.

Perhaps it was the shared appreciation for being a gunner during war, being with buddies outside the wire, and honoring their fallen brothers.  These days, we can all be so lucky to have past generations share memories with us as we become adults.

In 2011, soon after we got married, Ryan started expressing to me how much his grandfather meant to him. After just losing my own grandmother that year, we decided to fly to Cleveland to see him and the rest of the Will family in the area. It had been my first time seeing all of them and Ryan’s first time since he was a teenager. We then visited the following year after finding out Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, and¬†again (PTL) for his 90th birthday that summer. That was the last time we saw him, but it was when he was in good spirits, surrounded by his whole family. We couldn’t have asked for a better goodbye. I was told that Gramp thought about every single one of us in his dreams and we would like to think he thought of us when he passed in his sleep.

The whole family made it to Cleveland again last month to pay final respects to the patriarch who brought us all together. The wild and diverse dynamic of the family is precisely what has made it strong, and it was a blessing to not only see this again, but to know that I’m part of it as well.

Military honors for a true hero. We will miss you grandpa!

Memorial

Bronze star

Old house

WE WON THE ‘SHIP!

The Beard and I grew up as Seattle Seahawk fans. While my heart really leans towards the Mariners, it wasn’t hard to share that love for all Seattle sports. There’s something about the youth of our teams, the presence it has in our small city, yet large state that really gets people excited. It’s also a reason for thousands of others across the nation to hate us.

Here are 12 reasons to make love, not war, with the Seattle Seahawks and the city they hail from:

1. This whole country gets crap weather all the damn time. Except for here. You complain about the rain? It actually rains less here than it does in some parts of the east coast and Arizona. It’s delightful here even when it’s a bit gray.

2. Our QB loves Jesus.

3. We shut up the media. QUICK.

4. Our guys are the babies! Third youngest team to win the Super Bowl.

6. Skittles.

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7. You love to hate Golden Tate!

8. Navy and lime green is the best color combo in the NFL. Admit it.

9. Pete Carroll is the second oldest coach in the NFL, but you’d never know it.

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10. Our guys know how to play in any kind of weather.

11. Best instagrams in the NFL

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12. And finally, after personally being in DC for Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, it still didn’t even hold a candle to the Seahawks Victory parade.

Here’s a photo of the Beard and I at the Celebrate 48 parade:

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Venturing in Vitamix

I fell for it.

A couple months ago, we got a little bit of extra money and wound up at Costco hungry. Don’t ever go to Costco hungry.¬† The annoying demo salesperson of the day was a rep from Vitamix.¬† Not one to pass up on free samples, we had some sorbet sweetened with agave. It had frozen berries and bananas, so The Beard was thoroughly satisfied. As for me? I was left a little skeptic. And if you know me, this is when the rapid fire questions begin…

“Why pay this much for a Vitamix when my Oster is doing just fine for $40?”
“What makes this better than a BlendTec or a Ninja or any other blender out there?”
“What’s the warranty include?”
“Where is it made? What parts come from China?”

I’m a huge advocate for healthy lifestyle changes. But when the lifestyle change is $500, I have to step back and consider every single detail.¬† Mr. Demo-man sold me because not only did he woo our taste buds, but he helped me check off everything on my list of requirements for kitchen appliances. It also helped that at least two customers, not paid by Vitamix, came up during the demo, gauged my apprehension, and told me personally that it’s the best thing they every bought. One father of four has had his for 15 years and still makes his kids spinach smoothies on a regular basis. His younger son nodded his head in delight. Oh, to be a crunchy parent with children willing to eat greens! My dream!

After reeling back from picturing my future with a simple machine, my last question was “What color do you have?” And I made the best purchase that night.

I call him Vinny, the 6300. A la your typical gym rat meathead who can pack a punch and take orders from the boss (me):

6300-black-rglam

We got him in platinum and it’s been a dream ever since.¬†So I may have fell for the blender trend, but to be honest, I like having a machine that can make yummy soups AND ice cream that’s healthy and tasty enough for The Beard and myself.

Instead of boring you with all the healthy things pulverized veggies can do for you, I thought I’d share a yummy breakfast/post-workout recipe that tastes like a peanut butter milkshake. I’ll be sure to share recipes of other concoctions in the future as well!

Booty Werk Shake (Thanks, T-Pain)
– 1 Cup coconut milk. So Delicious is my favorite brand and Costco sells them in sets of six!
Р1 TBS peanut butter
– 1 tsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 banana
– 1 scoop of Nutrition 53 Lean 1 protein powder. Groupon find for the win!*
– 2 handfuls of spinach
– 1 handful of ice for a cold slushy texture

*Some of you health nuts might cringe at ADDING protein powder to this mess, but a scoop of this lean stuff is just enough to give me the boost I need with doing T25 everyday. I also can’t waste a scoop by adding it to lame ol’ water!