Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day

I have to say that, after all the nice weather we've had thus far this spring, today's cool temps were a bit disappointing.  We tried, instead, to radiate the sunshine from within our hearts, celebrate Mother Earth, and renew our commitment to her.  Don't forget to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Recommendation: Do all of nature a favor and get your children to read Don't Squash That Bug!  Natalie Rompella, an author from our own state of Illinois, wrote this informative book (suited for grades 2-4).  The kids are going to LOVE the amazing photographs and they'll learn so much about the importance of insects in our world.  Wish this book had been around when our budding photographer, Lindsey, was little! She's always been interested in insects.  Check out some of Lindsey's award winning "bug shots" in the Featured Galleries on the Nichols Photography website,

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Colored Eggs, Chicks, & Chocolate

Happy Easter to all my peeps!  Hope each and every one of you had an amazing family day and got to participate (in some way) in an awesome Easter egg hunt.  Spring is in the air!

Please take a moment to review the Easter safety issues discussed in my post of March 26, 2009.

(Thanks to Jason for his whimsical artwork.)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Mike is teaching again!

Photoshop Tips and Tricks (at SIUE, Tuesdays, April 10-24, 6:30-8:30 p.m.)
If you're already familiar with the basics of the Photoshop program, you can join Mike in a class that will build on your skills.  Would you like to open eyes, swap faces, add or subtract people from your shots?  This is the class for you!  Learn to choose and use the correct tools for each photographic task, control color and contrast, even work with layer masks and blending modes.  Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be an exciting ride!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lights Out!

Our Glenwood Manor studio was dark tonight as lights went out all over the globe in solidarity for the 6th annual "Earth Hour."  The goal was to show the world that the smallest measures to conserve energy are a big step in the right direction for our planet.  In order to raise awareness regarding climate change, Internet giants Google and You Tube joined with the likes of Sydney's Opera House, the Colosseum and our own Lumiere Place Casino and NHL Blues in St. Louis.  Here's hoping that 2012's hour of inspiration will demonstrate its positive impact through an amazing increase in community involvement next year on Saturday, March 30, 2013.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wearin' O the Green

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my readers!  Hope everyone is wearing his or her "finest green" today.  I have a lengthy Irish branch in my family tree so I'll be eating green eggs for breakfast and step dancing to an Irish jig before the sun goes down.  In Catholic school we used to wear little jingle bells on our shoes for St. Patrick's Day but I cannot remember why.  Does anybody else remember that?  Chime in with a comment if you do.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book Launch

Lindsey and I attended a book launch this evening at the Blum House in Collinsville, IL.  Young adult fiction writer, Cole Gibsen, was there to sign her recently released book, Katana.  The ground floor rooms of the Victorian-era Queen Anne were bustling with excited book-lovers eager to get the author's signature inside the cover of her debut novel.  Because Katana references Japanese culture, two Geisha were present in authentic attire and make-up.  They gave an informative talk.  It was a grand evening and, hopefully, we will be able to convince the author to agree to an interview here on our blog.  Cross your fingers and keep checking back!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

So you've got a digital camera, now what?

Are your images too dark, too light, too blurry?  Help is here!  Mike is teaching Photography Essentials as part of the Community Learning classes at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Tuesday) and at Lewis and Clark Community College - N.O. Nelson Campus in Edwardsville (Wednesday).  Mike can demystify the aspects of your digital camera.  Come explore how your camera can give you the images you've always wanted.  (Classes are 6:30-8:30 p.m., March 14 - 28).

Friday, March 02, 2012

Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss

Theodore Geisel, we LOVE you!  Sincere thanks go to the man who has delighted children with his stories for generations and will continue to do so for generations to come!  He was born in 1904 so we're celebrating his 108th birthday.  As is fitting, March 2nd has been designated "Read Across America Day."  So, if you're an adult, pick up a Dr. Seuss book and read it to a child today -- a daughter, a son, a niece, a nephew, or a grandchild.  Why not kick it up a notch?  Volunteer to read to a school class or an after-school care group!  Green Eggs and Ham is a personal favorite!  That story offers an amazing opportunity for comic expression when read aloud.  I've never known a kid who didn't enjoy laughing at a grown-up!  Interesting factoids: 1) Twenty-seven different publishers rejected his first book.  2) He is said to have coined the word "nerd."  The first recorded instance of the word "nerd" is in Seuss' 1950 book, If I Ran the Zoo.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

March is Women's History Month

Ladies, it's time to celebrate!  Political campaigns are in full swing this year.  Moms, make sure you talk with your daughters about the suffragettes who paved the way for our right to vote.  Those of you with grown daughters may succeed in igniting an interest in them for politics or, at the very least, you may get them to happily research today's Presidential hopefuls.  Perhaps you would like to select a heroine each week in March and share her story with a young girl in your family, a Brownie or Girl Scout troop.  Let's give these outstanding women the recognition they deserve!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

What a gorgeous day!

65 degrees in early February!  I made good use of the unseasonably warm temps by getting out and about today (in short sleeves no less).  I had some genealogy work that had been on hold due to winter weather and today became the perfect opportunity to complete the on-site photographic documentation.  While I'm on the subject, I'd like to say that it's impossible to overestimate the importance of preserving family history.  If you have old photos that are in need of restoration, don't wait another minute!  The future generations will thank you!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Let Freedom Ring!

235 Independence Days have come and gone since our founding fathers voted for rebellion. They knew their world was ready for change and were willing to put their lives on the line in order to make that happen. Recommendation: Watch the movie, 1776. Warning to "most" of the guys out there -- it's a musical.
The movie was made in 1972, an era of change in our own lifetime.

What about you? Is there something in your world you feel needs changing? Are you ready to channel your rebellious spirit? And just how much are you willing to risk?

Enjoy your day and remember to give thanks for your ancestors who made freedom a reality!

(Thanks to my friend, Jason, for his artistic talents!)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Afterwords Books - Grand Opening!

On June 1st Afterwords Books in Edwardsville opened their doors to the St. Louis Metro East community. Here's the unique twist -- they trade in previously owned, gently used books available at "wallet pleasing" prices. In these economically trying times what book lover couldn't use that?

The entrepreneur-owner, LuAnn Locke, is eminently qualified. A self-described tenacious bookworm, she has studied poetry, literature, and creative writing on the way to attaining her B.A. in English from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

I felt privileged to be given a pre-opening tour of the redecorated interior. NICE! The atmosphere is warm and comfortable, the kid-centric corner and available changing table are welcome sights to parents, and the book-oriented decor is inspirationally creative. On Tuesdays and Thursdays complimentary tasty treats are offered to customers. Saturday story-time is always a big hit at eleven a.m. (Mom/Dad: post a reminder on your fridge)! And every day they are open is "deal day" since there are always free books in the sidewalk cart. Pinch me! I think I'm in bibliophile heaven!

I know many of you who follow my blog are true animal lovers and rescuers of unfortunate creatures. You should stop by and visit Truman Catpote, the shop's rescue cat. He often sits quietly in the window inviting passersby to enter. He recommends a good book and the relaxation of petting a furry friend to ease the tensions of the work-a-day-world. The staff is wonderful and I'm sure we can all agree that there's nothing better than to be greeted by a smiling face and helpful attitude as you start, plod through, or finish a long day.

Family owned and personal, this shop will undoubtedly be an asset to area book lovers. Visit their blog at

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Earth Day

April 22nd was the 41st anniversary of Earth Day. Woohooo! This year St. Louis celebrated by holding their 22nd Festival on Sunday, April 17th (held early this year due to Easter conflict). My family gathered in Forest Park on the Muny Grounds to rejoice over another "green" milestone with an estimated 30,000 supporters at the premier event in the Midwest. There was plenty to see and learn with live music, cultural performances, local food, and 300 vendors exhibiting their earth-friendly wares. The statistics collected after the Festival show that St. Louis now ranks as the third largest Earth Day celebration in the nation (following Dallas and New York City). How proud are we?

In the wake of the environmental disasters (Gulf spill, devastation in Japan, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.) education in environmental stewardship and sustainable practices has become paramount. Now it's time to start planning your random acts of green for the spring and summer. Peak your outdoor efforts while the weather cooperates and then perhaps fix your attention on activism. Take to heart the slogans "Earth Day Every Day" and "Be the Change." Make a personal plan, make green moves, and make it happen!

Same place next year on April 22nd. Mark it on your calendar. Come out and join in solidarity with like-minded individuals. See you there!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Best in Show!

Merriment and dancing have commenced here at the studio! Congrats to Lindsey! Her entry, The Princess and the Pea, was awarded "Best in Show" at the Southern Illinois Art League's Spring competition. And yes, there IS a pea at the bottom of those pillows! Our resident Master Photographer, Craftsman, CPP, Assoc. Fellow is truly talented and has mad camera skills. Sure, we're prejudiced, but she certainly proves her photographic abilities time and time again! Lindsey, you rock!

Thanks to our princess-model, Zoe, and her companion, Sylvia Sharockman.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Love Your Pet!

Thanks to our model, Leo Valentine, and his companions, Natalie and Marc Luther.

This is the 7th annual Love Your Pet Day (always held on the 20th of Feb.). It is fitting that it follows closely after Valentine's Day. After all, our furry friends do love us unconditionally. It's a good idea for pet owners to celebrate Love Your Pet Day by doing something special. Pamper your best friend with a new toy or let go of a daily task to give your pet some extra time today. Clean the fish aquarium, hamster, or rabbit cage. Don't forget the many potential pets that wait patiently in rescue shelters. If you don't have a pet this would be a good opportunity to visit your local shelter and perhaps see if a very special companion has been waiting for you. Don't forget that donations of food and litter are always appreciated.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

She's Done It Again!

Lindsey has given us yet another reason to celebrate! The Associated Professional Photographers of Illinois have awarded her with an Associate Fellowship Degree.This degree is earned through service to the professional state association and is represented by a "Land of Lincoln" gold medallion worn on a black and silver ribbon. Lindsey, we're so proud of you!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sad News

As often happens in life, joy and sorrow can follow each other closely. We have experienced a great sadness today. My brother, William, has passed away. He was my baby brother and joined our family when I was only 3 years old, so I have the privilege of saying that I was his very first friend in this world. Even though he sometimes filled the stereotypical role of the little sibling tormentor, I did my best to give him unconditional love through a life that turned out to be all too short for a well-respected and much-loved man.

His was a life filled with achievement. He reveled in knowledge, earned multiple degrees, and passed on to others everything he learned. He loved his work and excelled at it. To him, I think teaching was not only a profession but also a mission. And in his passing he has taught again -- about the value of each human life and what really matters.

We'll look back on the yesterdays that we shared with him and remember the unique, intangible ways that he touched our lives. Ways that cannot be defined by words. We are thankful for all the special moments he has left us; because it is through those that my brother will continue to live on, within our hearts and our minds.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wedding Bells

This has been a HAPPY day in the Nichols family. Our very own Ms. Lindsey, photographer extraordinaire, has married the love of her life. Congrats to Lindsey and Frank!

They couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. The weather was perfect at the chapel in picturesque New Town, with soft blue skies and temps as warm as the love that surrounded the bridal couple. Family and friends gathered close as the vows were spoken in a ceremony that reflected a very unique relationship. Lindsey spent her day on the "other side" of the camera, which took some getting used to, but she mastered the role of bride as she masters her art, with wisdom and grace. The reception showed subtle signs of photographic themes -- the photo booth was a big hit! The party rocked into the morning hours.

Join us in welcoming Frank into the family and wishing the newlyweds the best that life has to offer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What a Writer Reads

Nubs: The True Story of
a Mutt, a Marine, & a Miracle

by Major Brian Dennis
Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery
48 pages

This is a wonderful picture book for children. Nubs details the rescue of an Iraqi mutt by an American marine. This is a truly heartwarming story, refreshing in its ability to transcend global and political borders. It offers a great opportunity for a shared experience between a parent and child that will open a dialogue about compassion and caring. It speaks to the souls of all dog lovers and, in a special way, to those who have taken a rescue dog into their life.

That's my five cents worth. I give Nubs a tail wagging "five nickels rating."

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th!

This is a day for family picnics and the wearing of red, white, and blue. Happy 4th, everyone, get out there and celebrate! But before the fireworks begin, take a moment to give a silent "thanks" to those who fought in the Revolutionary War in order to secure freedom for this nation.