Blast from the Past Friday! 12.18.09

This week has been somewhat of a blur, since I’ve been knee-deep in finishing up a complete re-design of my branding, which, among other things, brought with it html, css, ftp and numerous other 3- and 4-letter dirty words I don’t even want to mention. I’m a print designer by trade, but, knowing just enough about web design to get me in trouble, I always jump right in with both feet, and then rediscover along the way how much I actually don’t know about web design (and everything that goes along with it.)

Nonetheless, despite having a number of 3- and 4-letter conditions myself (ADHD, PMS, TMJ ring a bell?!? Not to mention OLD. That’s in, aged) I’ve managed once again to remain persistent (if not patient) and only let a few choice words escape my lips as I brought this whole project together and then uploaded it all, despite wanting to wait to relaunch on January 1. (Yep, impulsivity is another of my strong suits.)

In any case, I’d love any and all feedback on the new looks of the main website and, of course, of this blog. Feel free to let me know exactly what you think—I seem to be doing that myself in this picture as well: (I’m the little one with mad face, in case you hadn’t figured that out)

els_boot_italie 1

I believe we were in Italy on a boat from Piombino to Elba here, and from the looks of it, I wasn’t too happy about it. (Even though I love boats and being on the water.)

Seems things went no better the next year, when my grandmother came along:


Wise calm woman, I was the youngest of all her grandchildren, and she had probably seen it all before already.

I’m sure I made this same face this week while working on the website redesign, but I’ll bet I didn’t look half as cute now as I did when I was 4 or 5.

Anyway, have a great week everybody! I’ll finally be starting my Christmas shopping now!

Blast from the Past Friday! 12.11.09

Now that I’ve committed to posting this “Blast from the Past!” every Friday, I’ve noticed the week seems to fly by even faster than before. Not that that’s a bad thing—but, it’s made me more aware this week about that old cliché that the older you get, the faster time flies. How is it possible that 2010 is just around the corner?!?

In any case, let’s get on with this week’s FAVES! since none of us are getting any younger while we’re reading this blog:

BLOGS! The inspiration, laughter, business knowledge, advice, ideas, free stuff I get from reading blogs is just awesome. Thanks to all of you out there on the world wide web who make my life a little better, one blog at a time!

AMAZON.COM! I’m one of those people who, for years, went shopping on December 24th to buy all my Christmas presents to give that evening. Yes, I do have some issues with procrastination, but, beyond that, I just hate shopping with crowds and dealing with parking (though that was always way worse in California than it is here in Charleston.) In any case, what’s better than ordering everything online, from wishlists, and having it all delivered to your front door free? Win/win for everyone!

THE UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON! Through the sage advice of one of the (insanely great!) blogs I follow,,  I decided this week to gain control over my unwieldy email inbox that was still getting bombarded with emails from concert-ticket outlets in San Diego (moved away from there 2 1/2 years ago), bank offers from Holland (moved away from there 6 1/2 years ago), and various other services, retailers, and promotions I just wasn’t interested in anymore. Yes, for years I’ve been wasting the same precious 5-10 minutes a day deleting crap from my inbox I didn’t need. What’s that you say about a procrastination problem?

And, with the theme of time flying by this week, let’s slow it down to a turtle’s pace with this week’s Blast from the Past photo. Here I am in our backyard in Holland with my older brother, each of us holding our pet turtles. Yes, the tomboy in me manifested itself at an early age…


My dad, he of infinite wisdom, rationalized that we needed to help the turtles hibernate every winter by burying them in a shoebox in the dirt next to our house. In the cold. While it freezes all winter. Needless to say, when spring rolled around we would be heading off to buy new turtles again. In hindsight, I really wonder how many years this went on before dad realized our turtles didn’t need to hibernate.

Side note: I’m sure my brother will appreciate me posting this photo of him with his shorts/black socks combination, and wearing those vintage ’60s glasses. What can I say…he’s come a long way since then. Merry Christmas bro!

Slow down and enjoy your weekend everybody! (Cooper does this all too well…love how his chicken leg is sticking out in the back)


Blast from the Past Friday! 12.04.09

Welcome back for another installment of Blast from the Past Friday! As you may have noticed, last week there was no blog entry, so let’s get on with an extra long post this week to make up for last week’s missing post due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

First up, my faves of this week:

SCARVES! I am loving wearing my scarves again now that the weather has turned a bit cooler around here. Though I tend to go for the more “natural” colors (read: brown, and any variation on that theme) I think I might need to venture into bringing some pizazz into my wardrobe with some other colors. Yes, I did just say “pizazz.” In other news: I am now craving pizza.

ASTRONOMICAL HIGH TIDES! During really high tides, especially around a full moon, the marsh behind our house floods with about a foot of water, and before long, there are white and blue herons fishing the waters right past our property line. The best part? I can see this all from my home office window. Yay for nature, and yay for working from home!

Nay for having the backyard flood at least once a year: (photo taken with my iPhone December 1, so please pardon the quality.)


CHRISTMAS MUSIC! Much as I like to deny it, there is a place in my heart for Christmas music. In particular, I really love my Christmas albums by Sarah McLachlan (Wintersong), Diana Krall (Christmas Songs), Straight No Chaser (Holiday Spirits), Josh Groban (Noel), Dave Brubeck (A Dave Brubeck Christmas), Gloria Estefan (Christmas Through Your Eyes) and, what list would be complete without the Charlie Brown Christmas album? I’m just noticing my iTunes Christmas playlist has 346 songs in it…if I start playing it now, I might get through all songs by Christmas.

And speaking of Christmas, this brings us right into our Blast from the Past! (See how I segued right into our next topic? That journalism degree didn’t go to waste after all.)

Growing up in Holland we celebrated Christmas, but, for kids the REAL deal was “Sinterklaas,” who delivered presents on December 5th. Unlike Santa Claus, who comes from the North Pole in his sleigh pulled by reindeer, our Sinterklaas arrives on a boat from Spain, and rides his horse from rooftop to rooftop, dropping the presents down the chimney with help from his “Zwarte Pieten.” (His black helpers, which today causes some politically correct fall-out, but is generally accepted as tradition; growing up, I always believed the “zwarte pieten” were only black because they slid down the chimneys to deliver the presents; this was constantly reinforced in my mind by the obviously white people in black makeup who made up the “zwarte pieten” seen on tv.)

In the week leading up to December 5th, we put our carrot-filled (for the horse!) shoes in front of the fireplace (or probably by the front door, since most homes in Holland don’t have fireplaces) in the hopes of finding some chocolate coins, marzipan animals, or “potatoes” (marzipan balls rolled in cacao) in our shoes.


These are my wooden shoes from when I was little, filled to the brim with goodies we bought at World Market earlier this week.

Someone was a bit perturbed by the fact that a) the goodies in the shoes weren’t for him, and, b) my camera was focused on something other than his mug:


And, in case you think “nobody actually wears wooden shoes!”, here’s me at age 3 or 4, showing off these very same well-worn wooden shoes (along with that lovely pleather dress that appears to be about 3 inches too short):


If you’ve made it this far in the post, thanks for reading, and have a great weekend! I’m planning on polishing off all those yummy goodies in my shoes and eating some other Dutch goodies to celebrate Sinterklaas!

December 9, 2009 - 3:40 pm

claire - holy cow that last photo is adorable! i love the shot of the shoes/dog/tree–so festive! you just totally inspired me to get my holiday decorations up…

December 1, 2012 - 6:06 pm

Beth Houghland Zink - Awww…your sockies fell down. Sweet pic, Els.

December 1, 2012 - 6:20 pm

Els Sipkes - Ha! Thanks Beth. Those scratchy, itchy, fall-down socks used to be the bane of my existence 😉 I actually used to put rubber bands around them to keep them from falling down. Maybe the cut-off of blood supply from that is why I turned out the way I did 😉

December 1, 2012 - 7:03 pm

Janis Newton - Oh my….how cute! I’m so happy I know the history of the shoes. Priceless!

December 29, 2012 - 5:18 am

Joy Lynne Erickson - How stinking cute is that??? Thanks for sharing for us to see :)

Blast from the Past Friday! 11.20.09

Happy Friday!, and welcome to a new regular feature on my blog, “Blast from the Past Fridays,” in which I upload some old dorky/funny/glamorous (well, that probably won’t happen) photo of myself, accompanied by a short story that hopefully has some relevance to the photo, and maybe also to what’s happening in the current week.

I read a lot of blogs. A lot, of blogs. Mostly photography blogs, but also quite a few others. What I’ve realized, though, is that while I really enjoy reading and looking at the work of blog authors, I really get a kick out of getting to know the authors a little better when they choose to reveal a personal detail or story about themselves. I just feel I develop a better sense of a business by knowing a bit more about the person behind it.

And so, for you, my lovely blog readers (and yes, I am talking to all 3 of you here), I will blathely reveal actual personal details about my life, each and every Friday, until I run out of stories, or, until my readership falls below the “0” threshold, at which point I will have to resort to hunting down all of your email addresses and spamming the heck out of you. Just kidding. Sort of.

Anyway…to get us started on our very first trip down memory lane together, I will begin with the intro portion of “Blast from the Past Fridays,” which is called “What’s Happening Today.” Well, it’s not really called that. It doesn’t really have a name. It will just be a little review of what I’ve found remarkable about the current week, whether that be music, photography, people, books, current events…whatever.

So let’s get started, shall we?

This week:

I’ve been listening to John Mayer’s “Battle Studies” non-stop since I bought it Tuesday. Non-stop. It’s great music to work to, ride the stationary bike to, to have playing in the background while making dinner. Just. Really. Great.

Seth Godin’s gift set of 5 books (no longer available…sorry!) arrived this week, and though I’ve just gotten started in Purple Cow, I’m already sensing a shift in how I am thinking about my branding. (Gosh, is this why I’ve suddenly come up with this new feature on my blog?!?!?) Follow him on Twitter (@ThisIsSethsBlog), on his blog, read his books!

Two photography books came out this week that I cannot wait to dig into: David DuChemin’s “Vision Mongers” and Chris Orwig’s “Visual Poetry.” Love both these guys, the way they write, and, in Chris’ case, his awesome video tutorial on Lightroom (I think he has more, but this is the only one I’ve actually seen.) I’m really hoping to find both of these books beneath the tree next month (or heck, I’d REALLY love to have them this week!)

Which brings me to the Blast of the Past portion of the blog today:

I attended the webinar given by Chris Orwig this week for his new book, Visual Poetry. He showed a lot of his own photos (many of which I’d also seen used in his Lightroom tutorial,) and seeing all his California surf (and surfer) photos really made me nostalgic for a past life (more than 15 years ago) in which I made the waters of Southern California unsafe on my bodyboard.


Bodyboarding was a daily passion of mine; early dawn sessions before my college classes, late evening sessions until well past sunset, winter sessions in cold water, summer sessions (in not much warmer water). I have some really great memories of surfing the beaches of San Diego for years, but I guess my quintessential bodyboarding memory is paddling out at (well, actually, within 25 yards of) the infamous North Shore Pipeline, on an epic 15- to 20-foot day (also known as a knee-slapper day to local Hawaiian surfers.) Let’s just say I’m happy to have gotten back to shore alive that day after bobbing out there on my bodyboard for what seemed like hours, just waiting for a small enough wave (turned out to be about a 15-foot face, no exaggeration) to catch back into shore. I will never forget what it felt like to ride that wave…a perfect right towards the Pipeline. Pure magic.


I still own all my bodyboarding gear (minus one fin that was ripped off my foot by a wave in 2001) and I am absolutely convinced I will be back in California one day to resume my bodyboarding life once again; I’ll be the one out in the water with the gray hair and the huge smile on my face.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

November 30, 2009 - 6:47 pm

Stacey - Great post! I’ve totally been planning to do something like this too… it’s time to ditch my personal blog that I never have time for anyway, and pull some fun things into my photo blog. Definitely adds some spice :-)

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