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Ladies Book Club

8 Dec

It’s been fairly transformative to be a part of this neighborhood, women-only, book club since this summer.

The last book we read was My Life in France by Julia Child — though written by her great-grandnephew. Who is a fantastic writer. He made me fall in love with Julia. WWJD: my new motto.

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Julia married “late” in life, but to a fantastic man who whisked her off to Paris where she learned to love food and become an expert cook and then an international bestseller and beloved TV star.

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Paul Child: photographer, wine lover, graphic designer,  and lover of the world.

Julia and Paul Child

And a new dear friend Hannah, among others, brought her to us, and then threw us a dinner party with all Julia recipes — it was all Julia, all night! A beautiful night in a beautiful home with beautiful people.

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And our goody bag was a fondue package which I shared with Dave and friends at a game night later in the week.

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Sharing just makes everything better.

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Piano Time

11 Aug

I bought a piano the day before my 31st birthday. This was not a mid-life crisis.

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It is pure magic.

This piano, who has yet to secure an official name, fills the house with music. David plays into the night. I practice during the day. Walt and even Petra, the cat, play when they want to. That’s the beauty of a piano, it sounds good no matter what is going on. Well, except Petra always plays a sound of doom forte and scares us. But when the player knows what he or she is doing, all you can do as an observer it to enjoy.

David used to play as a child, and even being 20 years rusty, he’s good. I am enjoying the book I bought myself to teach me how to play. It is all very mathematical and complex to do two different things with your hands at once.

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I saw this on FB the other day and chuckled.

It is a life-long dream of mine to learn to play the piano. I used to practice the cello. I love the sound, but I never wanted to play it like I do the piano. I hope that will keep me motivated enough to get good!

Contests

31 May

I remember as a kid winning a modem from an AJC contest. Tell us why a modem will be right for you! and a few weeks later one came in the mail. I thought that was pretty cool. I pretty much haven’t won anything since, except a piece of carry on luggage at my high school graduation party that my college cat peed in and ruined.

Until this month. AGL Resources, where Dave works, has an 811 Photobomb contest every year to promote calling 811 before you dig to protect utility lines. I submitted these two photos.

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Planting bulbs in the garden!

D. Johnston - 811 Photocontest Pirate
I love that I got my friend to dress up like a pirate.

And I won Dave an extra paid vacation day this year! Right about the time that we heard we had won, I got an email from VRBO about a summer vacation contest. I thought, why not try again, especially since it has to feature your child, and my child is adorable! So we’ll see if this video will work its charms and win us the grand prize!

When I was a newborn, my parents posed with me for a midwifery advertisement, even though she had an uneventful but short medicated labor. I assume we had a good time for that photoshoot in all our 80’s glory.

I love convincing my friends to let me photograph them.

11 Jan

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking photographs of our new, great friends Katye and Alex. We met them at Morningside and they have quickly become a staple in our life. They are funny, fun, and smart and we’re eerily similar!

It was really fun going out with them to take photos because they didn’t mind when I had to fiddle with my camera even though it was freezing out, and they had fun posing for me. I absolutely love the results!

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Beautiful mommy-to-be.

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I love taking photographs in winter light.

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Fan favorites.

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Puppy Love.

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Instead of going to a park, we took pictures in front of the very cool Coca-Cola wall art in Virginia Highlands… it’s like an urban nature scene!

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Joyful.

The Annual MamaJohnston Christmas Card

6 Jan

Front

Every year I love sending out a Christmas card. I love picking out the photos to use (and the taking of the photos!), designing the card, hand addressing and stamping over 200 cards during a time of year when everything is hectic anyway — and joyful of course! And I really love how I spend all year reading books so I can create an annual recommended reading list, and I hear back from a lot of people about that idea!

This year, however, is a bit bittersweet for me after last year. In 2013 I sent out our cards and one of my friends sent back a very cute card about The 12 Southern Days of Christmas with a note inside and I thought, “Oh gosh I really should invite him over for dinner since we haven’t seen him since Walter was born and that’s way too long” but I didn’t get around to it for three weeks and then I got a call from a mutual friend saying that our professor had killed himself. And now he will never know how much I regret not turning around instantaneously to send him a quick email saying “Yes, I want to see you!”

At his funeral I heard another friend say that she had gotten a surprise Christmas card from him as well, and I can’t help thinking that he was saying goodbye or maybe even reaching out one last time and all of us failed him.

So I will continue sending out the yearly Johnston holiday card, because I love snail mail and take every opportunity to share a bit of paper now and again with friends, but I will always think of the professor when I do so. I hope he sees all my 2014 and beyond cards from that peaceful afterlife we call heaven.

And they lived happily ever after

5 Jan

A couple months ago we had the pleasure of celebrating my in-laws 40th wedding anniversary. They are truly an inspiration for all married couples out there. They are happy and they work hard and spend their time traveling around the world. It seems like nothing will stop them on their adventures! I was able to participate in the most fun ways I know… graphic design and scrapbooking. Jan and I made a photo guestbook for the party at Piedmont Driving Club (in the same room where Dave and I had our rehearsal dinner!). Jan gathered the pictures, organized them by year, and labeled them. I spent about 24 hours straight, only stopping to eat and sleep, making the book because there was a Shutterfly coupon expiring the next day and the party was only about 3 weeks away at that point. So time was of the essence. It turned out beautifully, and so many people signed it, it was wonderful. It is truly a treasure to look through.

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The cute little sign I made.

wine labels for 40th I also made personalized wine label stickers, since everyone likes getting wine and this adds an intimate touch to an easy gift. That’s them on their honeymoon trip to Jamaica. So cute!

Before the 40th anniversary party at PDC Walter looked handsome.

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IMG_20141025_131016560_HDR And cousins got to play together!

It was a great weekend spent with family and friends. Thank you to my in-laws for being such generous, kind-hearted people!

Dec 2013-Nov 2014 040-2 We dress up nice!

For Christmas

28 Dec

Truth be told I missed going to service at our church on Christmas Eve, but besides that this has been the best Christmas I’ve had in a long time, and they’re usually pretty good. For the last 11 years (of adulthood) I’ve either been in Europe celebrating Christmas or at home attending lots of family and friend gatherings (usually with out of town visitors too since so many people I met in various schools around Atlanta have inevitably moved out of town again but everyone always comes back in town over the holidays). I like to be social, but it is very hard to party all day every day and still get the work done that I usually need to, take full-time care of my child, and do all the extra Christmas stuff I like to do: make and send Christmas cards, get a unique gift for each person on my gift list, decorate, etc., and also take care of our house well enough to sell it! Don’t look now; it’s still trashed from the present extravaganza this week.

Our biggest wish for 2015: we are trying to move to the suburbs. My/our dream is happening! Space! Schools for Walt (if homeschooling doesn’t work)! A fenced in yard! Plenty of craft space (that one’s for me). Great garage for all of Dave’s tools. We just have to sell our house first, by March 7th. And we’d prefer to not lose a ton of money now that the economy is doing pretty well again. I think. I guess that depends on which news source you listen to.

I had fun this year making gifts for family. Mostly paintings and other framed work.

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Dave’s family had this sign growing up in their cabin at Lake Rabun.
So I made a painting of it (the original is wooden) to give to his sister.

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I love established signs, so I decided to make my own. I made copies for siblings with appropriate states (or in one case Germany), names, and dates.

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My favorite! A garden of grandchildren hand prints for Nini!

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This was another awesome painting I did for my newest nephew. I love it and plan on making more to sell on Etsy. When I open that Etsy shop I’ve been planning to do for the past year. Maybe 2015 will be my lucky year when everything on my to-do list gets done!

Today was the last day that family was in town, which is sad, especially since work starts back again tomorrow. I can’t say enough how much more I like David being around all week with me and Walter rather than at the office. It’s just been a joy to celebrate the holidays with the many people that I love.