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Goodbye.....


I am sad to report that we recently lost a beautiful, vibrant, independent, funny, sassy, opinionated and loving woman in our family, Mary Lee Martin-my grandma.

Luckily for me, I was able to visit with her and spend time with her talking and laughing several months before she passed.  And another time during her 90th birthday celebration.  She was ready, we think, to go be with Grandma Martin who had left for heaven 11 years ago.  So we are all happy, and sad at the same time.

She lived a long life, and most of that time she was independent living on her own.  The last few years were the only time she needed real help, and she had her gorgeous and generous daughters, my lovely aunts help her with the transition.

My grandma would have loved seeing everyone together, getting along.  Some of us, and I mean even some of us that do not live to far apart here in Florida had not seen each other in several years.  In her death she brought us together, if at least for one last time.  In her death I learned to bury past hurts and my pride and look beyond that-for which I hope it helps my relationship with her son, my father.

I am all for my own betterment and for the betterment of relationships that are here to stay, or for long term relationships.  I am all for learning and she taught me this.  I wish she was here to talk to though, and I have regrets for not calling and speaking to her more.

I have not fully cried yet, and I have not fully said goodbye yet.  I guess I will in my own time.  I tried hard to keep it together during my time with family as I didn't want to be a weepy mess if someone, like one of her children, needed me.  I hope she knew how much we all cared for her sweet self.

xoxo, Lela


with love, Lela
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GF 1WEEK


Hi! I've been GF for over a week now, and here are some things I've noticed:
  • sleeping better
  • less stiffness
  • less bloating
  • clearer brain
  • happiness (what?)
  • weight loss
Now, not a lot of weight loss but a bit.  It just feels different, I didn't really think about how it could change my life because I honestly didn't think the doc was right.  I just rolled my eyes and thought oh this is just a plain to get me on board with getting my thyroid checked.  Which I've decided to let him do anyway (he just doesn't know it yet) lol!

Some of my favorite GF stuff so far:
  • Udi's Hamburger Buns
Sorry, that's all I've tried so far, though I have bought a lot of stuff from www.vitacost.com to try, but give me a minute.

More to come,







Mmmmmm....honestly, I like this better than any other roll I've ever had in my entire life.
with love, Lela
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But I love Bread....


We all struggle with little pains, little uncomfortable things happening to our bodies as we age and as we grow (up).  I am not different then most.  I just suffer through it silently.  Thinking it's just part of life and part of how I am.  But here lately some of those symptoms seemed to be increasing in frequency and comfortableness.....
with love, Lela
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Nothing to see here.....


I seriously need to stay off social media.  I have a huge huge problem with shopping, lol!  I keep buying stuff that I simply do NOT need...but I am slightly obsessed.  Can someone please come take my credit card away STAT?

On the bright side, I did score some black Lula leggings, a black Carly dress &&& OMG - these two Randy's!


with love, Lela
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Lovely New Mattress & Stuff


For years now, I have been complaining about needing a new mattress.  But it always seemed like something we couldn't afford, or wouldn't afford more like it.  My back has increasingly given me problems making it not tolerable to sleep in on the weekends or on my Monday off work, sad but true.

As someone who likes their alone time, having a comfortable bed for me to retreat into really is a must-I had been forced to take refuge in my office that currently just has a kitchen chair (being used as a desk chair) and a not so comfortable futon.

Well, I finally broke down - reached deep down into my purse pockets & pulled out a new cooling gel, memory foam mattress.....I won't go on about the brand or anything - as I don't want this to be an add or a review - but I do want to point out that I have sleep wonderfully since I purchased this little beauty.  I can also say, that I purchased it at Wayfair!  Boom!

xoxo, Lela
with love, Lela
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I'm Not SHY!


The other day, stop me if I've blogged about this before - but the other day my husband was arguing with me about the fact that he didn't think I was introverted.  I've kind of always thought of myself as pretty introverted.....he was all like "well you are a photographer, and you go meet people all the time and talk to them, you're not shy at all....".......I am not a young doe ya'll....I am in fact a seasoned woman with lots and lots of experience living in my own skin...and I've learned a thing or two about talking to people, and trying to appear some what normal...though I don't often success - just ask the people I photography hahaha....

So what does introverted mean?  Well according to google it means: shy, reserved, withdrawn, reticent, different, retiring, quiet, introspective, inward-looking, self-absorbed, contemplative, thoughtful, meditative, reflective......well hell that's me in a nut shell, minus the self-absorbed part - right?  I'm not, right?  Well, maybe a little...

After careful and thoughtful thinking, and talking....I was able to get a "well maybe you are a little introverted" out of him....what I am hoping is-it will help him realize why I refused to do some things, or complain about having to do some things, mainly social things - not not limited to that.

It's not that I would just rather be at home all the time, it's that I would rather just be around my small circle or alone most of the time.  I enjoy being alone.  I don't want to live on an island alone or be totally isolated but I do enjoy the time I get to myself, and I long for it.  I long for the quiet, time I can reflect and just do whatever the hell I want to do.

Ahhh.....ain't it great?


with love, Lela
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Life is Flying


At my age, should I be sitting around (figuratively speaking) thinking about all the things I've missed out on and maybe how I didn't live up to my potential?  Isn't this something you start to think of in the Winter of your life, not the Fall?  I have been feeling rather depressed lately about so many things.......like
  • should I have gone to college
  • should I apply for another job, so I move up the chain
  • why didn't I go to the elementary school to have lunch with Weston when he asked me so many times, for the sake of not waiting to ask for the time off work
  • why did I yell at my kids and make them feel like shit for bringing home a bad grade or a report card that wasn't great
  • Did I ever have a flat stomach
  • Should I have closed my photography business down..
the list goes on and on.....

I miss so much about my kids, I miss them so much (Teresa & Gavin).  I wish they lived closer, so I could visit with them & get to know them as adults.  Talk to them more, why don't I call them more-why don't I like talking on the phone!?  Can't I just do it for them?

I look at pictures of them, and I just want to go back in time.  Be a softer mother, and maybe not so strict.  Maybe have not been so selfish for my quiet time, and let there be more ciaos (I have still not learned to live without my quiet time).

I want to be a better version of myself.  Am I already that, does that change every day regardless.  I just don't know.

I want to buy a house, get a new car...enjoy finer things in life.  I feel like I am on a wheel, like a hamster in a cage getting absolutely no place.  There is never enough money, never enough time - but then I don't change that either.

I get to retire in five years.  Is that when my life really starts?  Or have I already missed it.  I don't understand why I am so sad and creeped out lately about death.  Why am I even thinking about it?  Is that normal?

I just don't know the answer to these questions, and everything seem so random and hard to grasp for me these days.  I cannot even go grocery shopping without loosing my train of thought if I am with the other kids.  I snap at them, they get offended.  Is it me, is it them?  What can I do?

Maybe I need a vacation.  Maybe I need to meditate.  Maybe I just need a knock in the head.  
with love, Lela
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Can I have a FREE Tattoo Please?


I just have to rant for a second, I was going to post it on facebook - but alas, I don't think some people on my friends list would appreciate it since I am certain they've done what I am about to complain about before....and would really just either take offence or try to argue with me and I am not really into that right this moment.

So, Facebook - it has all these Word of Mouth pages, and I am on a few from my town, and towns around me.  Every day people are posting needing to buy things, and people are giving recommendations.  The one thing that I found that is a trend with these pages (and maybe it's the age group of individuals that are likely on these pages) is that people are seeking something for nothing.  For example, here are a few from the past few weeks - taken from different pages:

  • "looking for a house to rent with 3 bedrooms at least 2 baths, need to bring my 6 dogs, fenced yard, would love to have a pool for $500 or less"
  • "looking for a tattoo artist for cheap"
  • "need a family photographer to do 2 family session at a reasonable price or free (you could use as as models).
  • "I need a good paying job, don't have much experience"
  • "Looking for a free kitten, preferably male"
  • "Anyone giving away free sessions this fall"
I could go on and on.....but it basically is just a bunch of shit - people wanting something for nothing.  People want a good wage, a fare wage, I get that.  I want a fare wage too, and I own a small business.  I want to be paid a fare wage too, that is reasonable.  What is a reasonable price for photography?  I have noticed that most people who accept free and seek out free, are not so willing to do the same in return.  I have done countless free sessions for friends to just turn around and have to pay top dollar for their services.  What comes around, in this day in age, doesn't go around.  And I should probably stop giving away my services for free-that is true.  I don't to change my behavior because someone else isn't as generous as me.  I just wish I could get on facebook and not see people pandering and begging for shit for free or cheap & just shell out what a product is worth.

Maybe I expect to much from my peers.  That is on me I guess.

Rant over.
with love, Lela
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I'm Tired


I am tired.  We all hear that phrase a lot don't we?  "Good morning, how are you?" "Tired, how about yourself?", "I am pretty tried myself, thanks for asking".....which is the small talk of the office.

I feel like I wake up tired and go to bed tired.  I look tired, I feel tired and I behave tired.

I am also tired of things.  I am tired of how this society is treating each other (and thinking it's okay), I am tired of my children always messing up our house, I am tired that I get so pissed at them for messing up (and not cleaning up) our house.  I am tired of the weather here in Florida, the relentless heat and rain, the horrible storms & terrifying hurricanes and I am certainly tired of the bugs (mainly spiders).

I am tired of being jealous of certain people.  I am tired of wanting things I can't have.  I am tired of people making promises and then breaking them.  I am tired of feeling alone, I am tired of feeling like I am never alone (figure that one out would ya).  I am tired of not being able to give my children everything they want (and need at times) but financially and emotionally.

I am tired of my oldest kids living so far away from me.  I am tired of not having enough time with my family.  I am tired of missing out on things I should be present for, both physically and emotionally.  I am tired of missing the old days.  I am tired of thinking of when I'll have old people days.  I am tired of thinking about dying.  I am tired of thinking about taxes, bills, grocery shopping and what I should be cooking for dinner.  I am tired of family and friends, who should give a shit but don't.  I am tired of being one of those people as well.

I am tired of feeling like an outsider.  I am tired of being a weirdo.  I am tired of being fat and having parts of my body ache that I feel is directly associated with that.  I am tired of being to tired to work out, and tired of being to lazy to work out (if we're being honest).  I am tired of not giving a shit.  I am tired of giving to much of a shit.

I am tired of never being satisfied with myself, or the people around me.  I am tired of being so fucking impatient.  I am tired of being someone who jumps to conclusions, because I am tired of being hurt.  I am kind of tired of being so forgiving, and definitely tired of not being 100% forgiving enough to some people.

I am tired of wishing people would do the right thing.  I am tired of my long commute to work.  I am tired of all the shitty drivers that are on the roads during my long commute to work.  I am tired of the shitty parking at my work.  I am tired of shopping at Walmart.  I am tired of there not being a Trader Joe's in my hometown.  I am tired of over priced haircuts and milk.  I am tired of coffee not being free, hell I am tired of wine not being free.

I am tired of writing this blog post.

I am so tired, but mostly I am tired of being do damn tired.
with love, Lela
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RBF


Better known as "Resting Bitch Face"
I'll just leave you with this image, and that thought!
with love, Lela
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Who Knew?


So today I was looking through all the different logos & blog templates I had purchased over the years on Etsy.  As I was scrolling through, I came across this logo design that I purchased and had customized with my name.  Gave me chills to see this, considering it was purchased in 2010!  Olivia "Grayce" was born three years later.  I had nothing to do with naming her, neither did her father.  So this just blew me away.  Further proof that her and I, we were meant to be together.  Come hell or high water.
with love, Lela
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DD, and I don't mean Dunkin'Donuts


So yesterday was your typical day, I got up, I went to work & I came home.  Nothing crazy, the only difference is Miss O has been sick lately and so she stayed home with me on Monday & then dad the rest of the week.  Well I guess, at some point our little darling decided to sneak off and do something naughty.....picture this....

It's 8pm, bedtime!  Our little sweet heart is sitting in her room watching "her shows" when I walk into her room and immediately smell....you guessed it POOP!  She doesn't pay me much attention until I say "why does it stink in here, it smells like Poop Olivia!"  She looks up at me, faking being confused and says not a word.  Billy is behind me, and quickly says - "I don't smell anything, what are you talking about".....I continued to grill the girl about the smell in her room when she finally says she doesn't want us to be mad at her.....now, this obviously has old poop that happened earlier in the day, and I quickly decided I was done - this one I was leaving dad to figure out, find and deal with.....which he did.

Turns out, our princess decided to poop into a pot that goes to her kiddie kitchen and store it under her bed, out of sight - but not out of smell - good Lord did that room stink!  I guess after the ordeal, of cleaning up the pan and searching for more of her little devils donuts he decided that the smell must have leaked into her skin & decided to give her another bath.  I just sat in my recliner - trying not to laugh as he confusingly questions her on why she would do that.....lol!

When he finally was done, and came out of her room I asked him "Well, did you finally smell it then dear?" to which he gives me the "fuck you Lela" look that he's famous for!

xoxo, L
with love, Lela
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AHS Season 7



So, the much anticipated American Horror Story/Cult came out this week, and I of course watched it-as I had planned all along-even though there was so much hype on facebook/twitter & other social media outlets regarding how it was going to be a bashing against the POTUS.

I really only watch TV to escape from the real life, and I didn't want to watch a show bashing him, or the left.  I just wanted to escape from the every day bullshit.  This show did provide it, it wasn't what I thought it was going to be from reading the shit I mentioned earlier.  Sure there is a darker message, and sure there are some controversial conversations and moments that gave me pause - but I'm interested, and a little hooked as I have always been when I start a new season of AHS.

Enjoy you felling AHS fans, enjoy!

xoxo, Lela
with love, Lela
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Round Two?


Well, I decided to join WW again since I did, in fact, loose 27 pounds while following the plan.  Once I jumped off the plan the weight jumped back on my ass - or should I say belly.  Gosh!  I miss being able to move around easily and that is what I found when I had that weight off.  I can't deal with the weight I am now, it's to uncomfortable.  Time to get back on track and really focus on myself & making myself feel and look better - even if it's just 27 pounds or 127 pounds lost.  The number isn't the issue-it's how I feel and the ease I'd like to have in my movements and my body.

I was going to wait until Monday to start - but honestly there is no time like the present and so I've done it, I am back on the plan.  I am back into investing in myself.....I have a closet full of really pretty tops that will thank me for it - because they'll stay in my closet & they'll fit me again, and they can show their pretty faces to the world :)

I don't hate myself, and I don't hate being fat or fat people.  I just hate the way I feel.  Now having said that, wish me luck!  Everyone knows I suck at sticking to anything.....but I am going to try to have a little more faith in myself.....

xoxo, Lela
with love, Lela
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Sexy Selfies & Social Media


For years and years now, since I started really getting into photography I have struggled to find a muse - just someone I can keep my skills sharpened in both photography and editing.  I have found several girls along the way (ladies) but they have moved away or the dreaded grown up and started having their own life....pish....so I have relied upon myself to "model" for me from time to time, when things got desperate.  The problem is, taking selfies with a professional camera can prove to be a challenge.

Sure I can set up the camera on a tripod and use a wireless remote or a timer, but the challenge isn't that - it's finding the right flattering angle for the look I am going for.  This is something the tripod doesn't really allow for - not easily at least.  Sure I can do some weird yoga pose with my tripod but it just never seems to work out like I want it to for one reason or another.

Earlier in the year, I bought a white lace dress - totally lace off Amazon for under $20.  The entire dress is sheer as you can imagine and rather sexy.  My goal was to talk someone into wearing it and us doing a fake wedding in it.  Those plans never did develop past the buying of the dress & finding the model stage.  And so the dress just sits in my office - waiting.

Not only would this dress be great for a fake wedding - but it would also be great for a boudoir session due to the sheerness of the fabric and the cut of the dress.  So one late afternoon, while I was at the house alone I slipped the dress on and took a few iPhone selfies.  Now mind you, my face isn't in these images - but they actually turned out way better then I imagined they would.  I actually like them & would love to share them on social media - but maybe that would be weird seeing how my parents and other extended family members are on social media.

Oh the dilemma.  I mean, my husbands family is on social media as well as other people that I may not want judging me for my photo selection.  But I also am part of a social media group that celebrates the woman's body especially and more importantly the woman's body that isn't "perfect" by social standards - someone that has weight on them - someone fat, like me.  And in these pictures, I do not feel fat, I feel sexy & beautiful!

I feel like maybe this is my direction, my new direction in life.  Doing documentary family sessions and life-style boudoir sessions.  My passions are being realized more so after quitting on my business - how odd is that, but that is another point entirely.

What would you do?

xoxo, Lela
with love, Lela
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Sissy


The other day, when I was at my dads house - we were having a typical visit-nothing major, just talking to each other about normal things.  I had brought Olivia with me, because Savannah was visiting and I thought the girls would enjoy spending a little time together.  Before we arrived, Olivia and I had stopped by the lake to take her four year old photos & when we arrived, the girls saw each other & Savannah asked if Olivia could swim.  We changed the girls into bathing suits and let them have at it, and while they were swimming - my dad, myself & my step mom were doing what I started the blog post saying - talking about nothing.

Olivia is getting onto Savannah while we are conversing, saying "stop that Savannah" and "you're getting the pool all dirty" "stop spraying me with the hose".....and my dad blurts out "Olivia is kind of a sissy isn't she?".  At that moment, I went from being average in my feelings about being there talking to him to just pissed off.  It never fails that every, single, time I visit this man, he has to some how put down or talk down to or about my children.  I don't understand it, I really don't.  Perhaps he feels my sister's children are some how superior to mine because they don't mind getting dirty or having water sprayed into their eyes, I have no idea.  But seriously, my daughter is a sissy because she didn't want someone to throw dirt in her face, spray the water hose into her eyes or swim in a muddy pool?

Olivia is the youngest, and so I have heard this shit from him since 1990.  And by writing this blog post I am not saying that any of my siblings children are superior or inferior to my own.  I am only stating my feelings as I have listened to this as I said before, a long ass time.  And I won't repeat on my blog at this moment, the stupid inaccurate remarks he used to say was "wrong" with my first two born children.

I would also like to state, for the record - I do not think if you like to be clean this doesn't make you a sissy!

Oh and then there is this:

sis·sy
ˈsisē/
informal
noun
  1. 1.
    a person regarded as effeminate or cowardly.
    synonyms:cowardweaklingmilksopnamby-pambybabywimpMore
adjective
  1. 1.
    feeble and cowardly.
    synonyms:effeminateeffeteunmanly
    "sissy manners"
with love, Lela
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Introducing-My New Logo!


For those of you that know me, and maybe even those that don't even know me that well but have come back and forth to my blog/website from time to time, especially here lately can see that I have flipped back and forth on both blog design/layout and logo styles.  I love watercolor, I love fancy hand drawn lettering, I love florals and vines and things of that nature - but I am also simple, and I can be comfortable with just black and white....so without further ado and explanation-I finally, and I mean it this time, settled on a logo design I am comfortable with.  My blog/facebook & other social media outlets have housed this logo/design for several weeks now and I haven't freaked out and thought of anything cuter or that I wanted more just yet-so maybe this one will stick for a while!  Fingers crossed.....



with love, Lela
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Happy Four


This little sweet face is turning four years old in two days, that's right FOUR YEARS OLD!  Can you believe it?  I just love her so much, she really is a joy!  I cannot wait to celebrate with her and the family.  We don't have anything major planned - but what we do have planned promises to be fun and filled with lots of hugs, kisses & love.....



with love, Lela
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The Space Between


The other day, I was talking to Olivia and she said "mama did you know I have a gap in my teeth?" and as I was looking at her when she asked me this question, she was frowning.....I said, "well yes" and she said "why didn't you tell me?"....I wasn't really sure how to respond to her question so I just said "why do you ask?" and she said that a girl at daycare told her she had a gap in her teeth and it made her feel bad......even at the age of 3 they can feel insecure about their appearance....we then proceeded to have a long conversation about all the wonderful things about her (inside and out) and she forgot about that gap...

with love, Lela
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Grocery Review


After a quick conversation with my sister Jessica, I decided to do a blog post on my favorite things that our family likes to purchase.

Trader Joe's

Frozen

  • Roasted potatoes, peppers & onions
  • Shredded Potatoes
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • French Fries
  • Riced Cauliflower
  • Fire Roasted Bell Peppers & Onions
  • Zucchini Fries
  • Veggie Fried Rice
  • Tuna Burgers
  • Salmon Burgers
  • Maui Maui Burgers
Breads
  • Lavish Bread
Cold Storage
  • Lite Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salted Butter
  • Chicken Thighs (boneless/skinless)
  • Hummus
  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Baby Brussels Sprouts
Pantry
  • Raw Almonds
  • Organic Chicken Stock
  • Organic Beef Stock

Publix

Frozen
  • Chicken Tenders (raw/frozen)
  • Chicken Breasts (raw/frozen)
  • Orange Rouche


(THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS)

with love, Lela
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O & the Santa Fe River


There are those rare moments when this beautiful face allows me the special privilege to photograph her.  These moment come and go so quickly too, as she is easily distracted by everything around her fresh set of three year old eyes.  I love watching her develop as a child, learning all about live and all about her surroundings.  This day, we stopped at the river to snap a few of her in her new outfit, one of which she was very proud of.  I wanted to get some of her in her new dress - but she was over it pretty quickly & just wanted to go swimming - so off we set to find a "better place" to swim (another boat ramp) lol




with love, Lela
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O at the B


Sweet Olivia at Neptune Beach (Jacksonville Florida) earlier in the week.  This photo screams SUMMER VIBES!  I captured this photo of her while visiting my sister in Jacksonville a few weeks prior to vacation.  You know, I have to set the mood for the two weeks I'll be off work!  I hope everyone is enjoying their summer vacations!


with love, Lela
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Summer Time Vibes


So I did a little shopping....can't wait to get these items!  And now, time to clean out the closet ;) to make some room!

Please tell me I am not the only person that cleans out their closet every time they get a new outfit? LOL










with love, Lela
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She & I | Blog Refocus


As I've said before-this blog was originally created just to get "stuff off my chest" and to capture moments in time, I wanted to remember forever-without putting on facebook or instagram, an online journal if you will.

I have a horrible memory, and I do want to remember my joys & pains.  I want to look back on them and reflect on my personal growth.  I also want it to be in the universe that I existed, even in my own small way.  It has been my intention, as well - to start blogging more specifically gearing towards my life as a mother and more specifically a bonus mom to Olivia.  Because, she & I have a beautiful story to tell.

with love, Lela
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Lily Modeling


I put out a facebook cry for help recently, asking for some people to volunteer themselves or maybe their children to model for me.  I had several responses, and this Sunday I was able to meet up with my first model volunteer.

We decided to do our camera test at the river right about sundown.  We just walked the bank and I just asked her to act natural while I shot.  I wanted to see what her level of comfort was & how she'd photograph.  Our next session will be guided with pose ideas, because she did beautifully & is very very photogenic.  Don't you think (this is just a quick teaser) you can see more on my art facebook page @lelajohnson.art or wait for my blog post on www.lelajohnson.com :D


with love, Lela
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Miss O


I have created my very own LightRoom Preset.  The first of it's kind.  Meant to be moody, warm, film like & just a tad hazy!  I love it! And I love HER!






















with love, Lela
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