Category Archives: Travel | living simply

Last week Mark stayed home and held down the fort so that I could travel to Hornby Island for a women’s photography retreat.  What a treat to meet and be inspired by these great women and to eat the amazing healthy meals we all took turns making!  I slept like a baby and woke up each morning earlier than I ever do at home (I don’t usually do mornings!) waking up to bright sunshine on my face and an incredible view of the ocean. Here a few photos of some of the talented women I met.  We had the chance to play a little with our cameras and take some portraits in this amazing setting amongst the wildflowers and ocean.  First is Berkley, then Jennifer and her little Tess, Michelle (with a photobomb by Nicki!) and Emily.  One of the highlights during our stay was a trip to the pottery studio belonging to Heinz Laffin.  Alanna and I were there a little before the rest of the group arrived and loved watching him work and hearing 84 year old Heinz tell us stories about how he came to be on Hornby some 40 years ago, about his family, his craft, and even the sad story about his chickens who were all killed by a mink shortly before our visit to his studio.  After that is Kelsey, Alanna, then Jesse’s photos on the rocks at the beach at almost 32 weeks and expecting her first baby. Emily’s styled portrait on the beach was a lot of fun – she and Jesse put together a crown from seaweed and some treasures found along the beach. Someone found a starfish which was also added to her head piece.  Then Nicky at dusk on the beach, and Laureen. The last image is of our kind host Jennifer who has the gift to make every person she meets feel valued and welcome…and she sure can jump!

xox Elizabeth

P.S.  Everything went perfectly well at home.  Mark even took care of both Summer and Willow overnight while their mommy ran her first full marathon!

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  • Jennifer ArmstrongMay 16, 2013 - 7:27 pm

    LOVE these, elizabeth. You captured everyone so beautifully & the feel of our time together.ReplyCancel

  • Nicky MallyonMay 17, 2013 - 2:54 am

    These photos are beautiful. I particularly like the photo bombing one ;).ReplyCancel

  • Michelle WellsMay 22, 2013 - 7:44 pm

    Oh my gosh. Your photos so made me smile and brought back wonderful memories. So Beautiful. 🙂ReplyCancel

Before we started wedding photography Mark & I used to shoot for the fun of it – landscapes, macro, our kids, and anything we thought was beautiful or interesting.  Mark & I met at a photo club (geeky, I know!) and took some darkroom classes together, we bonded and became friends over photo talk back in the day (not so long ago) when you shot slides and tried to nail the exposure every single time, or you played in the darkroom for hours to get a single perfect print.  With slides and in the darkroom there was no photoshop to “save” you, no raw files, no lightroom, and no actions, just the pure simplicity of taking photographs, where the light, the composition, and the art of it mattered.  We were obsessed, and in the process we fell in love with photography and with each other.

Which brings me to a couple of weeks ago when we had a week off.  We decided to take a road trip.  We went with no real destination in mind, just to head South in search of sunnier skies. We took it slow, stopped whenever we felt like it, stayed in whatever dinky motel we could find in whatever little town we happened to be in.  We listened to music, we talked about serious things and about nothing at all, we sat for hours without taking, and we got sunburned through the windshield of the car watching miles and miles go by outside.  If we were inspired we took photos, just for us.  No pressure, no deadline, just for fun.

Heaven.

It’s good to be home, feeling refreshed and ready for the start of this season.  We are dying to photograph every sweet little baby, every family, and every single one of our weddings.  All of these moments that we are so, so fortunate to capture…it is good to remember why we do it in the first place, and to know that we are doing what we love and it’s still fun!

Here’s a little of what we saw.  We stumbled on The BLM Wild Horse Corrals near Burns, Oregon. These wild horses are in captivity waiting to be relocated and for adoption.  A controversial subject.  One day we will take a trip just to see wild horses in all their gorgeousness and free.   http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/burns/wildhorse/corral.php. http://www.lvrj.com/news/wild-horses-preservation-program-flies-out-of-control-135817523.html

The Badlands of Oregon

The Painted Hills.  We got there at dusk.  It was magical although not the best light for photos.  We’ll be back someday when we have more time and find the magic light!

All the pretty horses 
Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby.
When you wake, you shall have,
All the pretty little ponies.
Blacks and bays, dapples and greys,
Go to sleepy you little baby,
Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby.
Daddy’s boy Mama’s joy
Go to Slumberland my baby
When you wake, you shall have,
All the pretty little ponies.
Hush your cries
Close your eyes
Dream of pretty little ponies
Hush a bye don’t you cry
Go to sleep my little baby
Darkness falls and man calls
Go to sleep my little baby
When you wake, you shall have,
All the pretty little ponies.
Up and down round and round
Dream of pretty little horses
Hush a bye don’t you cry
Go to sleep my little baby
Go to sleep my little baby.
Meaning: originally sung by an African American slave who could not take care of her baby because she was too busy taking care of her master’s child. She would sing this song to her master’s child (Lacy 1986, p. 76). Originally, the lyrics were “birds and butterflies, peck at his eyes” but were changed to “birds and butterflies, flutter ’round his eyes” to make the lullaby less violent for younger children. This theory is backed by the reference to “wee little lamby…cried for her mammy” as slaves were often forcibly separated from their own families in order to serve their owners. This verse is in a very different emotional tenor to the rest of the lullaby, suggesting a particular significance. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_Pretty_Horses_(lullaby)
Multnomah Falls
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  • MichelleMarch 30, 2012 - 6:59 pm

    Love the pics and the write-up mom.ReplyCancel

  • Kristy KlaassenMarch 30, 2012 - 8:56 pm

    These are wonderful. What a truly marvelous vacation – so relaxing and inspirational.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie IngramMarch 30, 2012 - 11:05 pm

    This is the song I sing to. Elise every night , I didn’t know all the words though so thank you:-) For the beautiful pictures and the e s ngs history. Such a pleasure to see your pictures, as alwaysReplyCancel

  • whitealbumMarch 31, 2012 - 9:42 pm

    That is so cool Steph! It’s a sweet lullaby and it’s interesting to know the meaning of it.ReplyCancel

  • angela hubbardApril 2, 2012 - 12:58 am

    these are wonderful!ReplyCancel

“As it has always been, Paris is a million different things to a million people”. (the Lonely Planet)

To us it was late nights and long mornings, cafes, bookstores, street markets, lovers, art, history, culture…This is the longest post I have ever blogged and still these are only a few of the photos we came home with after visiting Paris for a few days last summer. In my daydreams sometimes I live in the Latin Quarter in Paris in an old apartment with tall ceilings and hanging plants.  If you’ve spent time in Paris you will know why, there’s just something about Paris.

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undefinedShakespeare & Co. bookstore

(above left) Les Editeurs
We had burgers at the Cafe where the film Amelie was filmed


The Moulin Rouge

McDonald’s in Paris! (and live Jazz at the Huchette)undefinedundefinedundefinedundefined

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undefinedWhat is more romantic than sailing boats at the Jardin the Luxembourg?undefinedundefined…and always lovers on the Seine

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Montmartre and Notre Dame


Le Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and night along the Seine

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  • Alyssa SchroederJuly 19, 2011 - 11:45 pm

    What a photographer’s dream! I love all the images of the couples. So sweet 🙂ReplyCancel

  • angela hubbardJuly 19, 2011 - 11:52 pm

    J’adore!!! tres belle! xoReplyCancel

  • MichelleJuly 20, 2011 - 12:24 am

    Amazing!ReplyCancel

  • andreaJuly 23, 2011 - 1:21 am

    Fabulous post, brought tears to my eyes. This is my Paris. Everything I know it will be when I travel there.ReplyCancel

  • LynnJuly 23, 2011 - 2:29 am

    This post brought back so many memories! Beautiful, evocative images. Our fav city in the world!ReplyCancel

If there is one place in Italy that made the greatest impression on us I would have to say it was The Sassi of Matera.  Matera is at the crook of the heel of the boot when you look at a map of Italy.

After we left the Amalfi Coast we decided to go south, away from the beaten path, and explore a little.  Up to this point everywhere we had been in Italy there was always the safety of a mass of tourists around.  It was a beautiful bright morning and the beginning of another hot sunny day while we waited for our bus and it wasn’t long before we noticed that almost everyone was getting on the north-bound buses and no tourists other than the two of us were heading south.

We boarded our bus.  Pretty soon the landscape became dry and bare and outside the bus window we passed by worn-down apartments and ugly industrial towns, even worse, as we went further south the intense heat became almost unbearable.  It’s all ok though, right?  We love adventure and now this felt like one!

A few hours later we reached our bus stop to board the next bus heading east.  All of a sudden we were in the middle of nowhere and no one we met spoke English.  The signs around us meant nothing to us, all we had to go by was our Lonely Planet, somehow through sign language, by sheer luck, and because of the kind and generous people we met along the way we ended up on the right bus.  (Here you can repeat the same story several times over.  Each time we panic a little, then breathe deeply, wipe the sweat off, grab our backpacks and somehow find a way to communicate and end up on the right train/bus).

When we finally arrived in Matera, sweaty and tired, it was getting near evening and to our Canadian eyes the area looked, hmmm…well, “rough”.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to use a pay phone in Italy but even making a simple phone call here was a huge challenge for Mark and I, but we worked it out.  When a few minutes later Vincenzo, the owner of our B & B picked us up at the bus stop  it was a huge relief and we could finally relax.

Our story should end here but really, this is where our real adventure of discovering this ancient town started.

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Unless you go there (and you should!) you can only imagine what it felt like as Vincenzo drove us right into the heart of the Sassi.  We hadn’t realized that we would be sleeping right in the middle of the ancient stone city and when he stopped there and we got out of the car we could hardly believe it!  A twisted town made of light-coloured-rocks with thousands of natural caves, some empty, inhabited only by noisy birds and hawks, and others used as homes, hotels and restaurants. This was our first sight of the Sassi in Matera, one of the first human settlements in Italy and as Vincenzo puts it ‘kind of an open-air history textbook’.  The Sassi are “houses” or caves dug into the rock itself.  In the 1950s, the government of Italy forcefully relocated most of the malaria ridden population of the Sassi because of  health concerns and extreme poverty but recently the town was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site and it is slowly being repopulated and opened up for tourism.  Vincenzo and Carla are some of the trail blazers of Matera and run “La Dulce Vita”.  They are a kind, sweet French-Italian couple who passionately fell in love with Matera’s Sassi. During our stay they made us feel welcome, safe and completely at home in our room built right into the rock!

To start off, you should see the photos of our sweet B&B.  Ours is, the one on the left; pretty, comfortable and also naturally air conditioned!    The one on the right is an abandoned cave,  little freaky but also super cool!  (Please, please LIKE La Dolce Vita on Facebook, share their Page and if you happen to go, stay there!  V + C are sweet, kind and awesome!  You can see their website at www.ladolcevitamatera.it/en/ )

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The back and front door of La Dolce Vita.

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And once we ventured outside…we walked and walked and followed every stairway and every path until I had blisters (even between my toes) we just could not stop!

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We could have walked for hours (and we did!) and always a crook in the road, another corner to explore…undefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined
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Matera at night was eerie… and beautiful, and we could tell so many more stories.  Someday, I hope we’ll go back.

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If you’re interested here’s more information about Matera I found online.

“Matera is one of the most interesting, unusual and memorable tourist destinations in Italy. In the remote southern region of Basilicata (also called Lucania), still little-visited by foreign travellers, it is a town famous for its extensive cave-dwelling districts, the sassi.

The caves of Matera had been inhabited for centuries; some humble and some smarter residences, but by the early twentieth-century the area was a by-word for poverty. Until the 1950s hundreds of families were still living crowded into cave-houses here. The squalor and malaria-ridden conditions became a national scandal and finally the cave residents were moved – by law – to modern buildings on the plateau above. By the 1980s the abandoned caves of Matera were no longer scandalous, but fascinating reminders of the past. A few rather more well-to-do residents moved back and renovated old cave houses. In 1993 the town was made a UNESCO World Heritage site, for being “the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem”. And ever since, Matera has become steadily more popular as an off-the-beaten-track tourist destination. More and more old cave-houses are being converted into comfortable modern dwellings, into hotels, B&Bs and restaurants.

And one more link: http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0411/the_ancient_stones_of_matera_italy.shtml


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  • MichelleJuly 5, 2011 - 3:14 pm

    Amazing! I hope I make it there one day.ReplyCancel

  • shannonJuly 5, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    Wow, awesome guys..thanks for sharing FINALLY.. What an amazing place.definately a photographers dream.ReplyCancel

  • Odette PortelliAugust 24, 2012 - 7:15 pm

    The first time I visited Matera was in the year 1875, i was part of Maltese youths who took part in a work camp in the Sassi of Matera, visited again in 1988, & am going back again in September, really looking foward to returning again! Really love this place.ReplyCancel

  • Odette PortelliAugust 24, 2012 - 7:17 pm

    Sorry made a mistake! obviously the first time i went to Matera was in 1975!ReplyCancel

  • VarutDecember 19, 2015 - 7:02 am

    I spent several days in Matera last October and loved it. We steyad in a hotel in the Sassi and it was lovely. I was curious about the caves that I could see across the river gorge; did you climb down in to any? I look forward to more posts about your time there. Basilicata is beautiful and I hope to explore it further in the future.ReplyCancel

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A few weeks ago we had the chance to visit a beautiful vacation rental condo in the heart of Victoria, B. C.   The decor has a West Coast theme and the condo was decorated with large canvases and prints of  images from our trips to Masset (see the blog posts HERE and HERE) and Ucluelet (HERE).  We really do live in a beautiful province!

The condo’s location couldn’t be better.  It’s just steps away from Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the Empress Hotel.  If you’re looking for a great place to stay next time you’re in Victoria we highly recommend it.  You can find out more HERE.  www.vrbo.com/314954

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