Our visits to Little House & Ingalls Homestead!

i have so much to tell you about the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota but let me begin with just this one photo of my feisty/deep/soulful/wild/introverted gracie girl.  on that day, she truly was laura ingalls straight out of the Little House on the Prairie stories.  visiting the place where laura wrote and grew up was gracie’s dream come true!
01so we just returned from a six week roadtrip driving from our home in washington to rochester, new york and back.  we had plenty of things booked along the way but the one thing i was looking forward to more than anything else was surprising gracie with some visits to the Little House on the Prairie homesites across the midwest!  we visited two.  aside from south dakota we also visited the homesite of the Little House in the Big Woods where the original log cabin was built.  it was destroyed long ago but in it’s place is an exact replica – you can see our photos from that at the bottom of this post!  disclaimer:  daily life is hard.  traveling with kids and living on the road is hard.  but days like this one are what make it all worth it.  (so i’m really soaking up every last beautiful memory of it and allowing the poop/pee/puke/sleepless travel memories to quietly lay low.)

so now about the Ingalls Homestead.  it’s a dream.  by far, this was the highlight of all the places we have visited on our family roadtrips over the years.  perhaps it was because we have become so invested in the stories of the ingalls and have read a good portion of laura’s books in the series.  as we were driving the 30+ hours one way we actually listened to two full audiobooks as a family (on the banks of plum creek & the long winter) so when we arrived at the homestead the kids were already pumped and in full character. gracie is of course laura.  clementine took on the character of mary.  mabel was baby carrie and brandon was jack, the dog.  on the day we went we were practically the only visitors… it was pure magic.  i can still almost feel the way the wind was blowing through my hair and whipping around the dresses of my girls as they ran across the prairie grass.

(i will tell you about each thing between the photos as you scroll down…)2.5 so the homestead is a large open space on the tallgrass prairie.  it is surrounded by wheat and corn fields for hundreds of miles and the buildings are original from the 1880′s- early 1900′s are all positioned around one big grassy space with plenty of room to run and play barefoot.  the barn above is where all the animals live… ponies, cows, kittens and the horses that pull the covered wagons.  this is about the middle of the homestead.  just beside that is Ma and Pa’s house… you can see the kids on their porch.  all of the buildings are open and the children are encouraged to play with and explore every part of the working original homestead so the kids’ imaginations were running wild, kind of like an authentic indoor/outdoor children’s museum (but with much more meaning and purpose).2 3

they have the covered wagon’s available to take you (with the kids assisting the horse driving) on a tour around around Pa’s farmland and up to the original one room schoolhouse where the Ingalls girls actually went to school.
4 5 the running free was their favorite part.  8.4 8.58 10.5 10 11 this little place that they are inside below is the “dugout home” (modeled after the house from On the Banks of Plum Creek).12 13 here is the hayroof barn.  the happiest place for our kids that they can remember.  it was just full of baby kittens and chickens!  they each just scooped up a kitten or two and sang and danced from one place to the next in the sunshine.  and yes, it really was as magical as i am making it sound.  14.5 14 15 16 can’t you just see the BLISS on their faces?!17 18 19 so the (very bumpy and peaceful) covered wagon ride took us to the Little Schoolhouse!20 everything is just as it was.  the desks even have some of the ingalls girls’ carvings in the wood.

21 22.5 22 24 this is quote and this photograph are my favorite.25 26 27 28 this is Ma’s garden.  the wild wind was blowing gracie’s hair as she smelled each plant and walked through the rows.  she was just FEELING it.  truly, feeling it.31 32 33.4 33.5 inside of Ma’s house!33 34 35.5 35 36they each took a sunset horseback ride.37 3840 this was the lookout tower.  Pa said he would look out from the top and say the the land they picked was “just right in every way”.41 42 this was really special!  they had a workshop for the kids to make rope and cornhusk dolls.43 44 45 just before we left to drive through the night, i asked gracie if her and i could have a little time just the two of us and for her to take me to her favorite place on the whole homestead.  she grabbed my hand and her book and we ran straight toward the hay roof barn with the kittens.  a baby calf had also just been born right inside (there to her left inside the barn door she was talking to it).  she grabbed a cat, fixed her hair, stood in the warmth of the sun and told me “okay i’m ready for my picture on the prairie”.  and then i cried happy tears.  this place brought her to life.  a side of her that was new to me and so very full of excitement and wonder.

our time there was incredibly special.

and here are the photos from our visit to the homesite of the Little House in the Big Woods in Pepin, Wisconsin.  it was so humble and simple and pretty much one big log room with a fireplace and a separation for sleeping quarters.  1 2 3 4 5 6 i saw my children bloom visiting these places.  and the best part is that it is still continuing.  they have been in Ingalls character a good portion of every day since we visited and now back home, they are already making plans with their “Pa” (as clementine now has renamed donny) to build their own kid-sized log cabin from our fallen wooden branches in the yard.  that’s the best part of traveling isn’t it?  that it excites and starts a fire inside you for something fresh, something with greater purpose, something deeper.  and that once you return home that you make it your own and put it into practice.  we are so very happy to be home but i know that we will revisit this special time in our minds and dreams in our journals for years to come.7

Posted in our adventures, our family adventures, our life on the road, road trips | 28 Comments

Workshop announcement: at OUR house: Oct. 1-2

workshop announcement!!!  registration is currently open for: a wildflowers workshop this october 1-2 here on our homestead in bellingham, washington!  and it will be a glorious time of year with our apple orchard full of apples.  the workshop will begin at 9am on wednesday, october 1st and end at about 3pm on thursday, october 2nd.


my hope for the workshop: for each woman who attends be challenged as a photographer, a creator, a business person and most importantly, an artist! i want each attendee to remember the simple and passion-driven reason they fell in love with photography and to inspire their creative spirit in fresh ways as well as give practical tools to run their business from the heart.  so often in this profession, we start out loving the art of making pictures and then all the beauty of the journey gets lost in trying to make it work as a business. i want to share my journey, be an open book to you… i am a believer in raw honesty and that is exactly how i teach. it is a beautiful few days and i truly believe that every woman that attends leaves changed, encouraged, and equipped to grow their business and images into the wonderland they envision in their minds.

the investment: this workshop will be $1400 per attendee.   this total cost will cover:  all instruction and education over the course of our time together, meals during the workshop teaching, and my workshop book i have written specifically for attendees in addition to other things.  the workshop fee does not include travel or lodging.  however, we facilitate the private forum for attendees to get to know one another prior to the workshop to arrange sharing these expenses.  we recommend flying into bellingham airport as it is very close to us, however seattle airport is only two hours south of us and it’s a beautiful drive along the washington coast heading up to us here!  to register, we require a nonrefundable 50% retainer to reserve your spot – paid by paypal below (this intimate at-home workshop will cap at 12 women total), and the remaining 50% is due one month prior to the workshop.

what is covered in the workshop: two portrait sessions with instruction given start to finish (one family session and one couple session), the sharing of how i dive deeper into the stories and passions of my clients to create unique photo shoots that speak to the heart, how to set boundaries, effective policies and how to “balance it all” – business, workflow, time management, family, relationships and still keep your sanity. inspiration for staying fresh and setting yourself apart from other photographers. how to best utilize your existing space and tips on finding great hidden gems of locations. how to get creative with the way you shoot with capturing sun flare and finding dreamy light to produce sun-saturated imagery. raw workflow demonstration in lightroom and photoshop and my start to finish post production technique. strategies for setting rates for your business and how to stick firm to them. i cover strategic marketing techniques on how to attract and book your target clientele. how to pose children, families and couples in a comfortable “un-posey” way. how to develop lasting relationships with local business owners and how to get your work displayed in creative locations. we do lots of creative and inspirational challenges to help attendees discover their own personal photographic style. the client planning consultation, how to create storyboards, the complete client interaction process.  you leave with hundreds of images taken to add to your portfolio. the attendees develop life-long relationships with each other, it is so beautiful! all of my previous workshop attendees have kept in touch and call upon each other with personal and business struggles over the years. i love that i get to facilitate such a valuable experience… it is such a blessing!

are you asking “is this workshop for me?” well, let’s see… first, you must be a woman. second, you must be a photographer! you are not required to currently have a photography business, however the majority of our attendees do and i cover quite a bit of crucial business related information. you must be shooting in manual mode and have a good grasp on your equipment. our typical attendees are either in the beginning of their photography careers or have been shooting for quite a while are experiencing serious burn out. i like to teach my workshops in such a way that no matter what level of shooter you are, that the depths of the information can grow you from wherever you are at. lastly, you must be open for change. i am not a shy teacher. i will challenge you. my goal is to really yank on your heart strings. be ready.

also, here are just a few links to blog posts by recent workshop attendees that have been thoughtful enough to share their experiences to give you an idea of the workshops:  http://brittanychandlerphotography.com/wildflowers-workshop-pt-1/   http://kaylacolemanphotography.com/?p=268   http://taylorwhithamphotography.com/2013/12/wildflowers-workshop-moonshine-hill/

how to register: to register, we require a 50% non-refundable initial payment to hold your workshop space which can be paid by paypal – you will click the “pay now” button below. once you have paid, your spot is saved!  then you must email us directly at joy@wildflowersphotos.com so that we can have you complete the full personal registration form just so we can really get to know you, add you to your private workshop group and get the excitement rolling!  we do expect this workshop to fill quickly and once we have reached our capacity of 12 women for the workshop we will remove the paypal link below so that you know that registration is closed.  so if the link is still visible below, we still have room for you!

**REGISTER HERE!!  click the link below to pay your retainer & register using paypal:



excited to meet you!!

Posted in Workshops | 2 Comments

mother. wife. believer. artist. farmer. writer. dreamer.



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