October Words

Like the savory aroma of homemade soup on the stove, certain words make me hungry for the fall season.  I call them my October words.  Here are a few of them:  colored leaves, apple cider, sweaters, plaid, pumpkins, fall festivals, blessings, juicy apples, acorns, pine cones, hay bales, crisp weather, pumpkin pie with whip cream, fuzzy slippers, freshly baked cookies, and flickering candles.


” Crisp Fall”

Recently, I saw this quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald,  “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

“Autumn, the year’s last lovliest smile.”  Unsure who penned those words, but I like them.

“Autumn Smile”

Warm colors of red, orange, and gold seem cozy now that summer’s heat is a memory.  Anne, the main character in Lucy Montgomery’s book, Anne of Green Gables, said of October, ” I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  I agree with Anne.  October is a wonderful month.

“Basket of Apples”

What are your “October words?”  If you would like to see more seasonal images, check out my website at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.  Thank you for taking “A Second Look”.

Taste and See

I just returned home from the natural candy store.  Yes, I am referring to the local produce market.

Surrounded by the vast array of colors, shapes, and textures my creative spirit goes into overdrive. Unfortunately, on more than one occasion, this has resulted in more fresh fruits and vegetables than we can store and eat before it spoils!   I did better this morning.  Bought just the right amount, although I confess I wanted one of everything in sight!  Some of my friends just look at me and shake their heads when I tell them how the beauty at the produce store excites me.


Taste and See

“Use glass, mirrors, and other reflective surfaces for a fun way to experiment when taking pictures.”  For day seventeen in the Photo101 course sponsored by WordPress, I chose to use a mirror underneath this pear.  This image also illustrates my love of macro photography.

The green background is a piece of burlap fabric.  A shallow depth of field directs the eye to the star of this image, a beautiful pear.  A few drops of water slowly roll down to the mirror.

Growing up there were certain foods I didn’t like, sometimes because of the look or smell.  It did not matter how often my family told me it was delicious.  Not until I actually tasted the food, was I was convinced it was good.  Psalm 34:8 reminds me that I personally can taste and see God’s goodness when I take initiative to investigate Him and open my heart to Him.

Thanks for taking “A Second Look”  Look for more images of fruits and vegetables at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.  Cherries, blueberries, apples, pumpkins, gourds and strawberries are on display there now.  

I am Always Looking for a Picture

As a photographer, I am always looking for pictures in the world around me.  It has become a habit, which keeps my mind very busy!  My luggage is never light as it should be on a trip.  I cannot stand the idea of missing a wonderful image because I left part of my gear at home.

Here it was a sweeping scene with a strong horizontal line and beautiful colors.  This sunset was captured leaving Bowen’s Island, near Charleston, South Carolina.

Sunset, Bowen Island, near Charleston, South Carolina

Sunset, Bowen Island, near Charleston, South Carolina

Two days before, it was the intimate details of a butterfly on a green curling leaf at Boone Hall Plantation, also near Charleston, South Carolina.  The curled leaf tip near the top of the image pulls my eye back to the butterfly at the bottom.

Butterfly Encounter at Boone Hall Plantation, near Charleston, South Carolina

Butterfly Encounter at Boone Hall Plantation, near Charleston, South Carolina

The challenge for Day Eight in the course Photo101 was to photograph the natural world and leading lines.  This was a pleasure for me!  There is always something new to see, a new image to capture.  I love being a photographer!

See numerous images of the natural world at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.  Thanks for taking “A Second Look.”

Not Your Grandmother’s Quilt

No, my grandmother’s quilts did not look like these!  A friend and I saw creativity, beauty and humor expressed in delightful ways by very talented women this past weekend at the Quilt Fever 2015.  This event was presented by the Florida Cabin Fever Quilters Guild, Inc.

Fabric, buttons, and thread brought together, and sewn into amazing, yes, breathtaking art.  No two were alike.  There was something for everyone’s taste.  My favorites did not run toward the traditional (there certainly were some beautiful ones), but to ones with vibrant, jewel tone colors.  What an extravagant feast for the eyes and for the soul!


 Embellished with buttons.


Can you count the endless circles?  Do not know the name of the quilting artist of this beautiful, fun one.


 This one was displayed by a vendor.

My young grandsons would love this one above or the one below.

Dogs I Have Known

“Dogs I Have Known” by Marilyn Clayton, Belle Isle, FL


This exotic one was a small quilted wall hanging.  What colors!  Such detail!  Talented woman!


You could purchase and make this kit with a butterfly theme.  No, I am not a quilter, just an admirer.

Autumn Memories

“Autumn Memories” by Ellyn Intemann, Orlando, FL

This was just a portion of a larger quilt.  As a cat lover, this one appealed to me.

Buttoned Down Stars

“Buttoned Down Stars” by Kate Elliot, Casselberry, FL

This was one of my two favorites.  I returned to it several times.  The photo does not do it justice.  The colors were brilliant.  Each time I looked at it I saw something new.  Really good art beckons you to look and look and look again.

Ray Steve and Josie

“Ray, Steve and Josie” by Ann Turley, Fallbrook, CA

I rounded the corner and came upon these three giraffes.  I laughed out loud immediately and then laughed some more.  I have beautiful things in my home, but not anything that makes me laugh every time I see it.  Do you have things that cause laughter to just bubble up in your soul?   A few minutes later, another woman came around the corner and saw this quilt.  Her reaction?   Spontaneous, out loud laughter!  This was my second favorite.

My grandmother’s quilts were made by hand, not machine like most of these.  Times were hard.  Fabric choices were limited. Quilts were made to be pretty, but more than anything they meant the difference in getting some sleep on a very, very cold winter night. They were their own special form of art.

Thanks for taking a second look.  http://www.stephaniehalstead.com

Favorite Love Story

Our-Love-StoryForget the Hallmark movies.

Listen to others in your life tell their story of love.

Enjoy the smiles on the faces of those in love.

Celebrate with the bride and groom who just got married!

Celebrate with the bride and groom who have been married for many years!

My favorite love story?

Mine of course!

I bet yours is your favorite, too.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


83 Degree Christmas Songs?

"Christmas-Plaid". Photo of Christmas ornaments on silk. Christmas songs.I tried today, I really did.

“Frosty the Snowman”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Sleigh Bells” . . . I really tried to sing those Christmas songs with enthusiasm.  It just didn’t work!  Eighty-three degrees today here in Florida!

Enjoying macro photos of Christmas tree decorations is fun, not matter what the temperature is.

If Only_____, Then _____ ?

If only _________ then _________.   How would you fill in the blanks?

We spend much energy trying to fit in and be accepted.  If others were to discover who we really are, we might be rejected.  Often we try to be someone or something we are not.  When we exchange who we are for a false image, we present a dim, out of focus, dull photograph of who God created us to be.

This photo does not showcase a colorful fall panorama view.  It is just a simple vine with a few leaves.  Initially, when I shot this image, I found myself saying “If only I was up north where the leaves change color and there are forests full of beautiful fall leaves, then I could shoot a great fall image.”  This woody vine pictured here is NOT poison ivy.  Is is the Virginia Creeper.  Some say it is invasive.  Others say it is ornamental.

It is what it is, a vine with colorful leaves, a snapshot of beauty in the midst of a field of barren trees; a reminder to  look at the beauty God has created and put in my path, right now.  It is a reminder to be what God has created me to be, not a second rate imitation of someone else.

What is the “if only _____, then ______, in your life today?