Polka Dot Cottage

TWiP: Summer’s End

Posted August 30th, 2014 by

The Week in Pictures

The end of August. So bittersweet. The start of school is always a little bit exciting, but all of the little summery things we do have a tinge of possible finality about them: the last swim in the pool, the last icy treat at the coffee shop, the last opportunity for outdoor dining…

Of course, the weather remains lovely through September, so it’s entirely possible that many of these milestones are not “lasts” at all. It just feels that way with school looming on the horizon.

This week, one of my kids has been “vacationing” at his grandparents’ house, less than an hour from here, for a few days. The other of my kids landed on his other grandparents’ doorstep last night, even closer to home than his brother is. The husband and I took the opportunity for a date night last night, with both kids being otherwise engaged, and we spent much of it zipping around in a used car that we are test-driving. I go sign the paperwork in about an hour, assuming the few questions I have are answered to my satisfaction. Yay!

And that’s another bittersweet thing: leaving my old van behind in a strange parking lot, but getting to drive off in a newer, less mom’s-taxi-like vehicle. I’m bringing my camera, so there will be pictures, assuming I am not too inhibited to start snapping shots in the middle of the Chevy dealership…

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365, plus some everyday-life images I posted on Instagram during the previous week. (FYI, my daily photo project this year has changing monthly themes. August’s theme is “Soul” based on the exercises in Alessandra Cave’s new book Shooting With Soul.)

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


365: Soul 23/31 – Exercise 25: A Walk in Nature


Instagram: I may be over-blacking today. Not pictured (but also black): my fingernails and fitbit. A colorful accessory may be in order…

365: Soul 24/31 – Exercise 24: Milestones – We had a nice time celebrating Neil’s cousin’s 40th today. (And how convenient that it fit the photo theme, too.) Happy Birthday, Tracy! :-)


365: Soul 25/31 – Exercise 20: Good Mail – Does it still count as "mail" if it comes off the back of a FedEx Freight truck? I’m going to say yes. Neil’s book is here: amzn.to/1vHti4V


365: Soul 26/31 – Exercise 23: Play – The moral of this story is, "don’t leave boxes of your new book unattended in the family room." They belong to Ultraman, Godzilla, and My Little Pony now.


Instagram: Post-middle-school-orientation treats.

365: Soul 27/31 – Exercise 17: Capturing the Seasons – This sums up portions of our summer fairly well…


365: Soul 28/31 – Exercise 21: Work – My "office" moves around, depending on the time of year, what else is going on in the house, or just my mood. Today, this is where I am working.


Instagram: Shhh. Don’t tell my van, but it’s days are likely numbered. #testdriving

365: Soul 29/31 – Exercise 39: A Sound You Love – I’m in the process of buying a car, and this one can play mp3 cds – such a welcome change :-)

Instagram: Date night. A bag of pretzels, coffee ice cream and my sweetie (not pictured).

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Weekend Favorites

Posted August 29th, 2014 by

Well, shoot. It’s Labor Day Weekend here already and I am nowhere near finished with summer. Why can’t the summer last as long as that darned interminable winter always does? *sigh*

You may be happy to notice this week that I came across plenty of links to share (it’s about time, I know). And holy cow, did I ever come through on the Flickr photos! I found so many delicious images, I actually had too many for a mosaic! (the limit is 36.) I ended up making two mosaics and sticking them together in Photoshop.

On Flickr

The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week. Be sure to click on the titles below the mosaic, if you want to know more about the image or the photographer behind it.

(follow me on flickr)

Weekend Favorites at Polka Dot Cottage

1. bookmarks, 2. Eisbachsurfer und …, 3. Tenby Take Away, 4. Port of George Town, 5. Freiräume, 6. Kenmore Street, Chicago, 7. August 23 AbandonedWarehouses2, 8. Raindrops!, 9. vroom, 10. 6320 Charlee, 11. FO: Hoot, 12. Wabi-sabi Scarf: in progress, 13. I heart, 14. fall grass, 15. berry beautiful, 16. Wouldn’t be New England without a rainy day. #imonbowlnumber2 #chowdah, 17. first peek, 18. Into the Wild Blue, 19. peonies + alium, 20. blur on purpose, 21. Happy Friday, 22. Untitled, 23. Posto na Praia, 24. Untitled, 25. Necklace, 26. E com vocês o COR DE ROSA!!!, 27. Five pendants, 28. brazos bend park, 29. Bali beach, 30. Still life with fish for a friend, 31. Echinacea purpurea ‘Sonnenuntergang’, 32. LCA23022, 33. St. Charles MO train station, 34. Untitled, 35. Untitled, 36. Plums
37. Untitled, 38. Beach. Life. #vscocam #roadtrippin, 39. idlewild, August 2, 40. Daisy, 41. Pretty Pastel Style, 42. From our living room, 43. december light…, 44. colorful crochet blanket, 45. Crocheted blanket halfway done!, 46. another lovely blanket found at fleamarket..

Around the Web

I spend some time earlier in the week sharing my favorite crafty links through social media. And then I repeat them here on Fridays.

  • Coast Ripple blanket :: ta-dah! – a new crochet pattern from Attic24. Oh my goodness, do I ever love the colors in Lucy’s latest blanket! I keep thinking that my next blanket will be a ripple, and this photo-heavy show-and-tell does nothing to dissuade me. Lucy has written up the pattern for free, and has a kit available, too.
  • Learning Something New – an amazing firework photo from Jessica Claire. I’ve never seen a fireworks photo like this one. It’s pretty amazing, and now that she’s explained how to get it, I want someone to set off some fireworks around here!
  • on focus and what to do when you have "too many ideas" – a podcast episode from ELISE JOY by Elise Blaha Cripe. Sometimes I have so many ideas, I become paralyzed and act on NONE of them. Sound familiar? I enjoyed Elise’s latest podcast episode. She thinks aloud about this problem and offers a strategy or two to deal with it.
  • Learn more about your customers with new Pinterest Analytics – from Pinterest for Business. This is cool, if you have a small business. What did I learn? I learned it’s time for me to come up with a new knit or crochet pattern. Polka Dot Cottage’s most popular content is yarn-related.
  • 3 Steps to Quick & Easy Mason Jar Breakfasts – from Hello Healthy. I’m kind of a mason jar addict these days. I never drink out of a regular glass anymore. Here’s a formula for putting together a healthy breakfast in that trendy little jar.

Have a lovely last-Friday-of-the-summer!

Back to school – for YOU!

Posted August 28th, 2014 by

I’ve been seeing a lot of cool new online classes being offered in various places, and I thought I’d share a little roundup of the ones that are speaking to me. Maybe you’ll find something you’d like to take, as well!

First up are two classes I have signed up to take myself.

Let me start with Gatherings Through the Lens because this class actually starts TODAY!


Holly Clark is teaching this photography workshop at Big Picture Classes. It features four weeks of instruction aimed at helping you take more effective photos at all of life’s little events. This is a topic near and dear to my camera-carrying heart, so I’m very excited to be taking this class!

Workshops at Big Picture Classes all include a special gallery and classroom community that allows you to easily share with other members of the class if you want to. That’s been one of my favorite parts of previous BPC classes I have taken. The feedback of the instructor and your classmates is invaluable. Not to mention how inspiring it can be to see how others are interpreting the same set of instructions. It’s a very effective model, I think.

So, will I see you there? Click here for more information or to sign up.

Class number two is a crochet class: Professional Finishing for Perfect Crochet with Linda Permann.

(That graphic up there brings you to all of Craftsy’s crochet classes – so many great ones to choose from!)

I like Craftsy. It was through Linda’s Embellishments class there that I learned to crochet in the first place. This new class looks perfect for someone like me who is comfortable with the basic techniques and wants to take things a bit further. I signed up for this one as soon as it was announced, but I haven’t watched it yet. It seems like the perfect thing for a Fall afternoon, so I will probably dive in to it then.

My favorite thing about Craftsy classes? They are all self-paced by design, so I can watch whenever I have the time and the inclination.

Here are a few other workshops that have caught my eye (I haven’t taken any of these, but if I had unlimited funds, and unlimited time for taking classes, I totally would):

Like I said before, I love taking online classes. I am almost always in “learning mode” with any craft I undertake. In fact, when I stop being excited about trying new things, that is usually the point where I move on to some other creative pursuit for a while.

I hope one of these classes grabs you, but if not, both sites have plenty of others to choose from. Craftsy has a fairly large selection of free classes, actually, so you can get a little taste of the way they do things (and learn something new at the same time) with no financial commitment whatsoever. Here’s the full list of Craftsy free mini classes to choose from.

Happy Learning!

(Full disclosure: the Craftsy and Big Picture Classes links are affiliate links, so I do get a small commission if you sign up for one of them. That’s not my motivation for writing this roundup, but I do appreciate the support!)


Posted August 27th, 2014 by

You know, I’d love to blog but I’ve been too busy bringing the young one to Middle School orientation…


hanging out with the kids in my parents’ pool…

Soul 27/31 - Exercise 17: Capturing the Seasons



and pretending we have more than just 7 days of summer left.

Priorities, people! :-)

TWiP: Primary Colors

Posted August 23rd, 2014 by

This Week in Pictures at Polka Dot Cottage

It’s funny. I look around Flickr and I am so drawn to the images with a faded, washed-out look to them. And sometimes I manage it in my own photography. In fact, I just spent the evening with my son at the park. He rode his scooter while I had a little photo shoot. And I pulled all of those images into Photoshop and gave them a bit of a faded, washed-out treatment, kind of like you would find in Instagram’s “Nashville” filter.

Still, as much as that look appeals to me in other people’s stuff, I find that I almost always prefer my own images to be vibrant and realistic. I think this week’s mosaic proves that, between the paper straws and the farmers’ market especially.

This week, we welcomed Neil home after a nine-day absence. He was in Ireland and England and we missed him. Also? I spent several days becoming increasingly aware of the impending end of summer and the fact that we have only been to the beach once. ONCE! Oh, the horror of it.

I’m trying not to think too hard about buying school supplies and getting forms sent in and such, but I must remind myself that some of these things really do need to be thought about now, particularly those that require appointments or are time-sensitive. Oh, I really, really do not want to think about the start of school just yet! Can’t I keep my head in the sand just a little while longer?

We’ve just gotten Aidan’s high school class schedule and bus assignment,and Eamonn has a middle school orientation in a few days, so I guess the answer to that question is no.


So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365, plus some everyday-life images I posted on Instagram during the previous week. (FYI, my daily photo project this year has changing monthly themes. August’s theme is “Soul” based on the exercises in Alessandra Cave’s new book Shooting With Soul.)

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


365: Soul 16/31 – Exercise 26: A Message from the Universe – We stayed at a local-ish hotel last night and outside our balcony was this billboard. Is this the message the universe thought it needed to send me? I guess I’ll scrap my plans to commit insurance fraud. Darn.


365: Soul 17/31 – Exercise 42 Simplicity – Besides being right for today’s exercise, this coffee cup is also a taste of things to come. I’m pretty sure mugs are going to feature prominently in my September photo-a-day project. I’m getting kind of tired of specific prompt-based photography. Looking forward to a month where the theme is really broad. Like "mugs" :-)


365: Soul 18/31 – Exercise 29: Head in the Clouds – For this one, I played around with a screw-on wide-angle converter lens (blurry areas on the edges courtesy of the "you get what you pay for" principle). The clouds were so huge yesterday, you really don’t get a sense for how wide an expanse of sky this was.

Instagram: Waiting :-)


365: Soul 19/31 – Exercise 43:4 Abundance – I have a bit of a paper straw problem.


Instagram: Welcome to my summer of too many carbs :-)

365: Soul 20/31 – Exercise 15: Errands – Time to replenish the husband’s drug supply.

Instagram: Neil has taken over the tv tonight (he’s [very] noisily blowing up aliens or some such thing). I’m carving out a bit of quiet with a cup of decaf, a little knitting, and a back episode of the Cast-On podcast.


365: Soul 21/31 – Exercise 31: Markets and Stalls – This exercise took me outside of my comfort zone. I am always so self-conscious bringing my camera to a public place. This farmers market is a very small one, so I figured I could go unnoticed if I brought my zoom lens and stood off to the side with it. I do think a couple of people saw me, but they didn’t ask me to stop, so mission accomplished.


365: Soul 22/31 – Exercise 38: Taste – I treated us to a new-to-us soda at supper tonight. It was ok, but it’s obvious my tastes have changed where soda is concerned, because I’d have been just as happy (maybe even happier) with ice water.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

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