May Instagram

This month has seemed to be never ending. I keep thinking that we are on the last day of the month, but then there is one more day. It was the 29th, then the 30th, and now the 31st!

Despite the fact that the month has seemed long, I wasn't too great at instagraming this month. I think approximately halfway through the month I bought the 60d, and the concept of taking photos with my cell phone was put on the back burner. I just found that I could get better color and more depth of field shots with the camera. Nevertheless it is fun to take pictures with my cell phone when I find myself in a pinch with awesome light. Hopefully next month I'll be more on top of it.

As a heads up, I'm currently working with Justin to photograph some sort of food making tutorial. Unfortunately the combination of a really dark house and a husband that moves pretty fast in the kitchen has made it quite a bit more difficult than originally anticipated. So what do you think? Would you be interested in seeing some recipes on here?

Color Calibration

image taken by Darwin Young; edited by me

I don't really have a lot of time today since I go into work WAY earlier than usual, but I wanted to share my 4 hour project from yesterday. I would show you the before, but ... no. I am too self conscious which is why you see beautiful editing here and not yellow teeth, dark eyes, and zits. (Not that I have or had any of those things ... haha.)

I've been practicing my ability to fix lighting and color casts in photoshop, and I've been getting really irritated as it is a difficult thing to do. I see an image on my computer screen, but then I go to print and it looks awful! I haven't done the "print test" on this image yet, but I'm holding out hope.

Don't even talk to me about color calibration and the like. I am SO OVER IT. First of all, who actually thinks about pulling out a grey card during a photo shoot?! Clearly one SHOULD, but does one EVER? Plus, during any one photo shoot, you can be exposed to tons of different lighting. For example, when I shoot Justin in the kitchen, he has the light over his head (fluorescent) plus the light in the dining room (tungsten) and lights from any windows (indirect sunlight). At any one point, he could be exposed to three different types of light with varying degrees of colors (blue, yellow). If he moves and goes outside, all of a sudden your white balance is thrown off!

So you say "Screw it!" and you decide to correct in photoshop. First problem is that you don't have a neutral point on the picture ... What do you do then?! That's what I was trying to work with yesterday. My dress was off-white, and the white of one's eyes isn't really white. The same goes for teeth. Furthermore, the lighting conditions in which you are working can throw you off too. Typically when people calibrate, they calibrate for using the computer in one particular room in the house under a very specific set of lighting rules. One thing thrown off, including tired eyes, and you throw off the entire delicate process!

Furthermore, you have to spend a ton of money to get calibration set up. Buying something to calibrate each product you have (scanner, camera, computer, printer) can get expensive. (Think $1000+ range.) Then, you have to not only use the product on a weekly or monthly basis to make sure everything is still calibrated, but you also have to update your calibration software on a yearly basis. So you have to pay that ginormous fee AGAIN! (One time isn't enough.) You can send your pictures to a calibrated printer (not Wal Mart), but then you have to pay for shipping, and sometimes I want to know how well I did (or didn't) NOW. Costco is the closest thing to calibrated printers, but by gosh, it sucks when you print a "success" only to find out it was a "failure". Then you wonder whether or not their printer was having a bad day ... or just you?

I've learned a lot this year with regards to color balance, but I still have a long way to go.

And you were considering not hiring a professional for your wedding, event, etc!!!**

Have a fantastic Thursday!!

** I should note that not all photographers know about calibration and color correction. Many point and shoot. I am obsessed which is why I find myself editing my wedding photographer's images.

Memorial Day Weekend

Can you believe that the first weekend of pool season has come and gone?

Justin and I, unfortunately, did not spend our weekend by the pool soaking in the sun.

No. Instead, Justin spent the weekend working on a gift for my grandfather. (He's trying to earn grandparent points.) When he wasn't doing that, he was resting, cooking, biking, and helping me to conquer the food budget.

For the past year I have been opposed to buying meat. It seemed unnecessary, and, honestly, I preferred eating fruits and vegetables. Well, last week after our initial buy of two whole chickens from Costco and freezing them, I have actually been surprisingly impressed with how well the whole "you can eat healthy on less money" has worked out.

Over the weekend, we spent approximately $70 and we were able to get 5 different meals worth of food. Most of those meals, when cooked, will provide enough leftovers for us to freeze and eat later. We had the items necessary for:

1. apple sausage ravioli
2. boeuf bourguignon with potatoes, veggies, and salad on the side
3. fondue (oil style with meat and veggies)
4. chicken (cooked however; grilled as shown above)
5. margherita pizza

Plus, we still had leftovers of baked ziti and enchilada casserole in the freezer.

More-or-less, it finally feels like our budget is well within reach. We have variety, a mix of frozen and fresh foods, and we aren't going broke. I can't say too much though, because this months' food budget is way out of whack, and the only way to tell if a budget works is to try it and see what sticks. In general though, my recommendation for food budgeting is to freeze, freeze, freeze, and plan. (General planning works wonders.)

Other things we did to conquer the nasty food budget included my writing down every. last. price. on the majority of the items we frequently buy so that we are able to see when there is a good deal and when the deal is just so-so. We started shopping at a restaurant supply store (that sells food), and we were able to find a few awesome deals (including 25 limes for $3!). In some cases it was worth buying the food in bulk, but in other cases the prices worked out to be about the same as if you were to buy at a grocery store. There is no reason to buy bulk vegetables or cheese that you cannot consume before it goes bad unless the price is about what you would pay for a normal portion of the food you are buying.

I also downloaded the app Receipt Hog on my iphone. You scan your receipts from the large scale grocery stores (i.e. Kroger, Publix, Fry's), and you get points. When you collect a certain amount of points, they will send you cash via paypal. Basically you get paid for shopping! (And it's shopping you have to do!)

In other news, Justin picked FIVE tomatos off of our tomato plant(s) this weekend. FIVE!

So how was your memorial day weekend? Were you sitting by the pool relaxing? Or were you getting life in order, like we were?

JoTotes Review

On Wednesday I received my very first long-awaited JoTotes Betsy bag. I've been wanting one for over a year, but I didn't want to pay the hefty $100+ price tag. With a wedding looming in my future, I knew I couldn't rely on Justin's pockets to hold all of my lenses, camera batteries, memory cards, and flash. I bit the bullet and bought the Betsy bag in teal.

Over the past year, I really and truly wanted the yellow Betsy bag. I thought it would be fun and brightly colored. However, since yellow and black are Georgia Tech colors, and I am completely anti-Georgia Tech (Go Bulldogs!), I bought turquoise instead. I would have worn all black to the wedding I was going to shoot a la professionalware, and, as stated before, clearly yellow and black should never be worn together! Nobody in my family saw it as odd that I would order turquoise since that tends to be my go-to anyway.

When you are seeing this brightly colored turquoise bag online, I can guarantee you that the color you see is what you will get (unless your monitor or phone settings are completely whacky!). The turquoise is truly a bright color and not at all muted in any way.

If you aren't a fan of turquoise though, don't despair. The Betsy comes in a variety of colors, specifically yellow, black and brown. You can have an exciting brightly colored bag or something more normal. It's all up to you!

The bag comes in a cardboard box that says "Your Special Delivery" which, frankly, reminds me of babies and cowboys. It's the font, I promise! Then when you open the box. . . you know those things the nurses wear at the hospital on their feet? Yeah, there's like a big one covering the JoTotes bag. Why? I don't know. The branding seems to be all over the place and not consistent. Plus, what is the box going to do to the bag? Why can't it just be wrapped in packing paper? Or nothing? It would be way more exciting to have it wrapped in packing paper; it'd be like opening a gift! Because honestly, when you order a $100+ bag, you kind of want to feel like you are opening a gift. Plus, would it really be so difficult to put a little "Thank you for shopping with JoTotes" handwritten note in there? That would have totally sent me over the moon in happiness! (I was already pretty excited to begin with!)

Needless to say, the customer service I received prior to ordering my bag was sub-par as well. They were decently quick to respond to my concerns (5 hours). Their e-mail was very impersonal though, and it ended up confusing me more than helping. Apparently they have one standard shipping method they will use unless you contact them immediately after purchasing, send money to them through paypal, and let them know you want 2 day shipping. Why this is not an option upon checkout, I have no idea. An e-mail that expresses excitement and interest in me as a customer would have been nice. Even sending me a link to pay the special 2 day shipping fee in the response would have been nice. (JoTotes, are you listening?) Overall, ordering was confusing, and I recommend going through a site like B&H instead. B&H does not promise 2 day shipping, and actually state that they get their bags from elsewhere, and it could take as many as 7 days extra. I appreciate the honesty and directness from B&H. I do have to mention that JoTotes was correct; I did receive my bag within 3-5 days. 4 to be exact.

Let's get back to the bag. . .

The bag is faux leather and awesome. It came with two straps, one longer and one shorter, three short and one long inner adjustable pad with velcro for easily moving around inside the bag, and a removable shoulder pad. I didn't like that I had to put everything together, but, at the same time, it made the bag seem completely customizable to my own preferences. After many years of using free/cheap computer/camera bags, I have fallen in love with this bag. You don't know what you are missing until you get a well made quality bag that actually sits on your shoulder and doesn't hurt. In the past I've had a lot of problems with the weight being off balance. When the weight on your shoulder is off balance, it hurts. so. much. While this bag will not fit my laptop, I can definitely see myself getting a separate bag from JoTotes for just that purpose sometime in the near future.

The inside of the bag is grey. Like I said, it has three removable grey pads and one large removable grey pad to help you separate your gear and keep it safe. I currently have all of my manuals in the larger pocket, my 50mm, flash, and 60d with telephoto lens attached all fitting nicely in the bag with room to spare! Other photographers have had success also fitting a small 13" laptop in the bag as well. If you have a larger laptop, like me, you should not expect it to fit. I always worry about making bags too heavy for me to comfortably carry, so the prospect of having two bags and only carrying the one I need (i.e. camera equipment or laptop) seemed like an ideal scenario for me. There was definitely room in the bag had I wanted to put my canon xt in there as well.

In case you hadn't noticed, this bag has a LOT of pockets! With two pockets on the front exterior, one in the back, and one in the top, you definitely have room to put all of your stuff! I've got my camera batteries and memory cards in the front pockets, but I have seen where other photographers tend to put keys and cell phones in those pockets. The back pocket is, according to the JoTotes website, large enough to hold an ipad, although I don't have one to try this with. I could imagine using that top pocket for paperwork; it seems made for it.

One of the best things about this bag is that it doesn't scream "I'm a camera bag!". It probably is more likely to scream "I'm a purse!" which is not much better when dealing with thieves, but it definitely feels more conspicuous and less attention drawing. However I would be lying if I implied in any way that this is a small bag. Perhaps it's my petite frame, but this bag is indeed a big bag. It drives me crazy that it is so stiff and won't fold in on itself fitting closer to my body, but it is nice that I don't have to worry about the bag falling over when I set it on the ground. And in case I haven't mentioned it before, I love that I can wear the bag either on my shoulder like a purse or I can go for the cross body fit when I'm busy taking pictures and I don't want to worry about the bag falling off of my shoulder. (Of course, I also have a husband for that, but JoTotes did a wonderful job thinking about those single ladies or the ones that don't have a husband following them everywhere!)

Would I recommend JoTotes?

ABSOLUTELY. Go buy one. yesterday.

If you don't like it, they have a 30 day, unused bag return policy. What do you have to lose?

Rod Stewart Time Review

Thanks to One2One Network I received the newest album from Rod Stewart Time to review! I have to admit I wasn't too terribly excited to review this album which has actually already reached #1 status on the charts since my receiving it! Wow! It's been nearly 34 years since Rod Stewart has had a #1 album, so congratulations to him!

Rod Stewart has spent four decades being a rock star, three being a parent, and has a new album's worth of rollicking stories to tell. Time is his first album of new material in almost 20 years (and his hairstyle hasn't changed one bit!) Time, which was released May 7th, 2013, marks Stewart's long-awaited return to his songwriting roots and features 12 tracks, 11 of which he wrote and produced. The album was born from a burst of inspiration that came while Rod was reviewing his life for his recent memoir, Rod. Rod rediscovered his voice as a songwriter and rekindled his gift for writing the honest, nerve-touching narratives that have been the cornerstone to the first three decades of his career. "Suddenly ideas for lyrics were piling up in my head," he says. "Next thing I knew, I had a song called 'It's Over' about divorce and separation. And now I was getting up in the middle of the night and scrambling for a pen to write things down, which has never happened to me. I finished seven or eight songs very quickly and I still wasn't done, and it became apparent that I would eventually have a whole album of material to record." Along with the release of Time, Stewart is set to embark on the European leg of his Live the Life tour on June 1st, while American dates with Steve Winwood will kick off October 17th.

The album is exactly what you would expect from Stewart, scratchy voice and all. Rather than going song by song like I did with Bublé's album, let me just share my very favorite tracks from the album.

Rod Stewart starts on a high note with "She Makes Me Happy". It's hard not to like such a catchy tune that is so upbeat and happy. When you watch the music video you can really tell he gets into the song and loves singing this song, a bit surprising for a 68 year old.

The second song, "Can't Stop Me Now", about his experience getting into the music business is pretty fun. After that song, it really all starts to sound the same to me. Lots of romance, sex, and divorce. I know "It's Over" has been pretty popular on the charts, and I'm sure it's beautiful, but I have to admit I'm a bit sick of it. The album picks up again with the faster "It's a Beautiful Morning". Every song on this cd is full of emotion making it a very inspiring and surprising cd to listen to.

The album definitely ends on a high note (or low note depending on how you think about it) with a ballad "Pure Love". Talking about friendship, family, and living life to the fullest, this is by far one of the most powerful songs on the cd and a great song on which to end the album.

If you were or are a fan of Stewart's original music, I definitely recommend giving Time a listen. Obviously, as shown by the charts, it will not disappoint! And, if you do listen, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

Jekyll & Hyde

Sometimes I feel like that. . . sweet but evil. ;)

We had a little photo session yesterday, and I couldn't resist not showing the cuteness. It makes me laugh.

Budgeting Changes: That Constant Battle

In the last post I revealed that Justin and I are especially struggling with our budget after a big purchase we thought we needed. Hindsight is 20-20. Looking back, we decided to give our budget an over haul.

Justin has been working up to biking to work, and that is exactly what he has started doing this week. The lack of rain has been nice in helping him to do that. (I imagine leaving at 6AM when it is still cool outside also helps.) We have also been looking to have Justin join Gympact. The idea is that if you work out 30 minutes a day either at a gym or using Runkeeper, you can earn money. If you skip your work out, however, your credit card or debit card will be deducted by $5 for every work out you miss. This is a great incentive if you don't like to work out or for those days when Justin isn't so sure he wants to bike in. (Too tired, feeling sick, or whatever.) The major benefit I see is that it could help us cover the costs of him biking to work. As crazy as it sounds, Justin and I are finding the upkeep of a bike is different then the upkeep of a car yet it can still get expensive. Luckily, you don't have to put gas in it once a week!

I mentioned yesterday that Justin and I are actually buying meat with the intention of freezing it to be used in meals. Over the weekend, we also decided that it might help to have some meals already frozen and ready to heat up. Using mostly supplies we already had, Justin threw together some baked ziti last night that he was able to freeze. That along with some sort of Mexican casserole we got at Costco the other day means we have a variety of food stored away for a rainy day (or until we decide to eat it). Having this food put away and frozen, we are hoping, will deter us from eating out when we are limited on time or too tired to cook. Plus, it will be nice to pair the frozen dishes with fresh vegetables making meals much simpler to make and hopefully more cost effective.

Justin and I finally opened up a joint checking account over the weekend! We had received a coupon from Chase Bank to receive $200 when you open a Total Checking Account with them. The account will not be our primary account, and as such we had to move a good bit of money from savings to the checking account. In essence, we will be treating the account like a CD in which we will receive approximately 6% APR. We can't touch the money for 6 months, but it seemed like a good financial move to make. One of the downsides is that for the next few months I will be looking at my savings account freaking out: what happened to my money!?!? AHHHH!!! :)

The good news is that all of our financial changes encouraged us to look at our budget again. (This seems to happen once every 4 months or so.) Since December/January, we have added things to our budget and taken things away. It is constantly being restructured. This month Justin decided to start putting some money away into a savings account for Christmas which reduces our "everything else" budget by 66%. It's actually a really scary number considering the number of things that fall into the "everything else" category, but we are hoping that budget cuts in other areas (like food and gas) will help to make up for the fact. Further more, the way our budget currently works, we always have the money I make to fall back on.

Not only are we going to try and make budget cuts, I think we are finally going to go through all of the stuff we have cleaned out of the house (that is now in my parent's basement). Hopefully I will be able to make some money back on the purchase of my camera by taking some awesome pictures of clothing and various other items to sell on ebay. It seems crazy to me that a year after we started sifting through our belongings we would now be organized and prepared enough for me to take on the whole new task of selling things. Hopefully it will work out.

So what do you think? Have you completely forgotten about your budgeting resolutions? Do you have any crazy schemes to make money? Are you a crazy planner who writes out dates of perspective money gains and losses for the next 12 months before deciding how to budget your money? Or am I the only one?

Share your budgeting secrets! Obviously I don't know what I'm doing, but I'd love to hear your suggestions!

The Rain, Budget + Food

One of my favorite times to photograph is right after a rain storm. The sky is cold, dark, and sad making everything else seem over saturated; the colors just pop.

Plus, I absolutely love shooting flowers (or leaves) with the little water droplets on them. Justin was amused I was abusing my powers of telephoto lens and pretending it was a macro lens when I was taking this picture.

Over the weekend, the wedding shoot I was planning and prepping for canceled on me. It was frustrating in that I had made a few purchases I would not have made otherwise including my lovely new 60d. I'm excited that I will have awesome equipment for taking on the many vacations that Justin and I have coming up, but, because of said extra expenses that we could not afford, Justin and I decided to attempt to conquer our food budget goals. (That was the only area we felt we could really cut down on.) We went on a trek to a bunch of food places to see where we could find food the cheapest.

The one place we wanted to go, The Restaurant Depot, was closed due to a power outage, so we traveled on to Costco. While at Costco, we found 2 whole (young) chickens for $10. Apparently, one chicken is that price at the Farmer's Market. We bought the chickens yesterday thinking that maybe if we include more meat in our diet, we will be better able to buy in bulk and save money on our overall grocery budget. For the past year our diets have consisted of mostly fresh vegetables (not always on sale) and only rarely would we include meat of any kind. I'm hoping that by being more inclusive of meat, Justin and I will be able to expand our meal options without expanding our budget.

Just before heading home, we did, inevitably, stop by the Farmer's Market to get some fresh vegetables and yogurt.

(Julia Child always says to respect your food. I'm not quite sure how cutting up a chicken is being respectful, but, if anyone was respecting it, Justin was. I would probably have been doing my best to not even touch it!)

Personal lessons I took away from this weekend:

1. Don't buy equipment until you have a signed contract. Verbal agreement is not an actual agreement even a week before said shoot.

2. My photography is worth something. The time and effort I have spent perfecting my skill is really showing through with my new camera. All of a sudden, getting a good shot is almost effortless. Rather than struggling to get the right shot, I get to worry about perfecting the right shot. It takes one's photography into a totally different ballgame.

3. Food is expensive, but two chickens provide a lot of meat.

Lessons you should take away from this:

1. Don't ever let close friends and family shoot your wedding. The lady I was going to shoot for decided to go with her son-in-law. I can almost guarantee you that the photography will suck if she gets it back. I have been to two weddings where this has happened and both couples were glad someone else (me) was there to take images. In the first wedding, the friend ran off with the images never to be seen or heard from again. In the second scenario, the photographer provided the images, but they were all blurry. Do you really want either of those situations to happen to you?

Here's what you don't know about photography. The time you are paying for goes to preparation for your shoot, shooting you, and then editing afterwards. Preparation for your shoot begins the minute your photographer first touches a camera. Hopefully, they have had a mentor in their life to guide them and help them develop their skill. Preparation also usually includes the equipment needed: a computer with Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, a DSLR camera, a flash, lenses, other various equipment, and a website to share your images with you. After your shoot, you can expect any number of things to happen including color adjustments, sifting through images so that you only get the very best, and small edits that clean up your pictures. Your photographer probably even knows (and has researched) the very best places to get your images printed or designed into an album. So unless you know photoshop, you are getting a pretty good deal by choosing a photographer.

2. Always let your husband cut up the chicken. ;)

So there you go. In a nutshell, that was my weekend (and rant about photography).

Canon 60d

After the realization yesterday that I only had one week to prepare for the biggest shoot of my life (thus far), Justin and I went out last night to Fry's Electronics for me to look at both the 7d and the 60d. At nearly $500 price difference in the store with no price matching, Justin and I decided it would be best for me to go ahead and purchase the 60d which would allow me time to play with it and get used to it. The money I would be saving by not purchasing the 7d could be used to obtain a lens from KEH. 

taken with iphone 4s

I'm already in love.

taken with 60d

I told Justin that if I brought the camera home, tried it, and didn't fall in love within the first day, I was going to return it. I've had that experience every time I go to buy a new camera lens, and I didn't think the purchasing/upgrading of a camera body should be all that different.

When we got home at 11PM last night, I practically ripped the box open, hoping that once I got it open I could immediately start taking pictures. Unfortunately, yours truly forgot that things like batteries are actually important for cameras. I had to wait until we had finished dinner to even think about trying the camera. (Yes, we ate dinner at 11PM last night.) While I worked on putting together a contract, Justin played with my camera. Yes, he got to play with it first. :( I would have liked it if we could have swapped places. :)

Either way, from the moment I put my favorite lens on the camera, I was in love. Shooting with 18.8 megapixels and a camera body that works better in low light settings is making me really happy. After shooting with an 8 megapixel camera and trying to improve my skills with it for over 10 years, it was time for an upgrade.

As we were leaving Fry's, Justin and I spotted a fair.

He pulled over and let take the picture above. I made him promise to bring me back over the weekend to let me shoot with my new 60d. Fairs always intrique me with their carousels, ferris wheels, and cotton candy. It's one of my very favorite places to photograph. And when the sun is setting? Beautiful.

Justin and I have a busy weekend planned with a trip to KEH to look at used wide angle lenses, dinner with the parents and in-laws tonight, and, hopefully, an adventure worthy of being photographed. Do you have any awesome weekend plans?

Photography Equipment: 1 Week + A Few Days!

With one week to go, I have quite a bit to do in preparation for my first solo wedding shoot.

First there is the paperwork:
- Tonight I send out the contract. I have to make sure both my client and I are legally covered.

Then there is the equipment:
- I'm trying to decide between the Canon 60d and the Canon 7d. Wikipedia says the 7d is more professional and I would be able to trade my CF cards between that camera and my XT. Also, the 7d can take up to 8 images per second in comparison to the 60d which shoots 5 images per second. Unfortunately, the 7d is heavier (I need to start lifting weights!), and it also costs about $200 more. Perhaps I'll go inspect both cameras this weekend.
- My 50mm lens is broken, so I need Justin to take it in to get it fixed. (I'm so glad I have a husband that can fix my electronics!)
- I'm also not sure if I'm going to get any other lenses to go with my new camera body, assuming I get one of course. Macro? Wide Angle? Can I have it all?!?!? Please? ;)
- Justin says I should get a reflector. He's probably right.
- I should probably get a camera bag. Man, this month is getting expensive!

Finally I have to find a company to host my images, so that my client can buy my images from me. Every photographer I've ever worked with has used Smugmug, but I just don't like them all that much. We'll see.

I guess I am just super excited that Justin agreed to let me get a new camera body. We can't really afford it, but with trips coming up to NYC and Germany, it will be nice to have. Plus, Justin can use my old camera, so that we both can just go out shooting. New hobby for him? ;)

Speaking of going out shooting, I recently discovered the app Central Park (Listen to the Light) where, as you are walking through Central Park in NYC, the app will play classical music specific to each location. Can you imagine listening to the app while taking pictures? *sigh* Dream. come. true.

Random Wednesday

Today I have quite a bit going on since I just received word that I will be shooting a wedding at the end of the month! I'm both really excited and really nervous since it will be my first wedding shooting solo.

I have a lot to do to prepare for the shoot and as such, today, I'm just going to share a few random things I found on the interwebs.

Last night I was feeling really sad that Atlanta's 99x was no longer in existence. Slowly itunes and pandora are getting old. I'm missing my alternative rock fix. This is when I discovered Ex99, a fun project created and maintained by most of the people that were popular on the original 99x radio station. The best part? You can listen to it from anywhere in the world!

Since Justin and I only have two things framed on our walls, I was excited to find this list of art alternatives. My favorite so far is framing postcards or unbinding a worn out book for the illustrations. Not only are these great recycling ideas, but they also mean the artwork displayed in your home is unique and very personal. Plus, these ideas can be done for super cheap!!

You know how hard it is to save money, right? Obviously, if you've been following Justin and I as we try to budget (and fail miserably), you can understand why working with a bank to save money sounds like a phenomenal idea. This article in particular makes me interested in at least looking into the possibility of changing banks. Spending money is unavoidable, but getting money back from purchases you were already going to make definitely sounds like a great way to pad your budget. After all, every little bit of extra money counts!

Speaking of making money, I also loved seeing this article about selling items you might typically recycle as well as this one about making money just by recycling. Not only are you doing something good for the environment, you could be doing something good for your wallet as well!

You know how I was talking about traveling to NYC in my last blog post? I was pretty excited to see this article on the best phone apps for traveling to NYC. While not all of them look like they will be useful or can be applied when making my trip, I will definitely be checking some of them out.

If you are interested in photography, more than likely you've heard about Brooke Shaden, an amazing fine art photographer, but did you hear about how she is teaching a class tomorrow on Creative Live? She is, and she's awesome. You will want to check it out.

Coming soon I will be reviewing Rod Stewart's newest cd Time that I received from One2One Network. You won't want to miss it! :)

So what have you been discovering on the web lately? Anything exciting?

Catch Up + NYC Travel Thoughts

First of all, I must tell you if are even remotely interested in seeing The Big Wedding, don't. With such big names as Susan Sarandon, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, and Amanda Seyfriend, I thought it would be awesome. Go see The Guilt Trip instead (which I also recently saw). It was much more enjoyable. (How did they get such an awesome cast for such a poorly done movie?!)

And while we are talking about fun things to watch, let me just give kudos to the writers of How I Met Your Mother for including one of my (current) favorite songs "Simple Song" by the Shins before introducing the mother (who seems to be an awesome actress). If anything got me excited about season 9 (or at least that particular episode of season 8), it was that!

Anyway, I didn't take the chance yesterday to say that I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend with your mother(s). With our guests coming in Friday afternoon and leaving on Sunday, Justin and I were unsure as to whether or not we would be seeing our moms. Justin's family had a get together which was nice, so we knew we would be attending that if given the chance. Afterwards, we were able to go and surprise my mom with cake and flowers. I also got to spend some time with my brother who is home from college for the summer.

After talking with Justin's dad on Sunday regarding our trip to NYC/Boston this upcoming summer, I decided that I really needed to start researching more for that trip. I've got the German practicing thing down for the trip to Germany (not that it's helping), but I haven't really thought about NYC. Both my in-laws as well as Justin and myself don't have a lot of money to spend on this trip, so it's been something I've been putting off researching. I'm really not sure Justin's parents will want to do what I want to do (i.e. shopping at Anthropologie and on Times Square, seeing lots of art and going to museums, wandering Central Park, finding an awesome coffee shop and people watching, etc. . .).

Last night Justin told me to just come up with a list of things I want to do. One of the first things on my list became The Rain Room when I saw a post about it on Apartment Therapy. Upon further examination, I realized that not only was The Rain Room being exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, but that they were also exhibiting Claes Oldenburg's work as well during the exact time frame when we would be in NYC!! Talk about exciting! The only thing that would make it any better is if we were going in June instead of July. (They have Henri Cartier-Bresson at the museum right now, but it will be gone by July.)

Other things on my list include seeing Jane's Carousel (Remember this image from Hurricane Sandy?), going to an off broadway show, and seeing the Statue of Liberty. Justin's dad is interested in the food. He kept going on and on about some sort of coffee flavoring (??), moxie soda, hot dogs (Ick!), some weird Chinese noodle, and seafood. :( I'd love to say I know something about Boston, but I really don't. I guess some things we will just have to decide when we get there.

The nice thing is that we will be staying with Justin's aunt and cooking the majority of our meals in her home. I'm always shocked at how much you save on those two expenses alone -- a room and food!

I always end with a question, but I would love to know others' suggestions for our NYC travel? We need suggestions for food and places to visit. I've been looking here and here for getting broadway tickets for cheaper, and I've also (as of today) considered getting an entertainment book for $11 (today only) or sharing information about the CityPass with Justin's parents. So what do you think? How can we best save money and have an enjoyable time in NYC? What are some awesome broadways shows that we should go see?

A Bit of Paris?

Over the weekend, Justin and I had a few guests not only stay with us, but we also had some over for a small party on Friday night. We had spent the past two months preparing for this past weekend, and, while it all went over quite well, I found myself either terribly allergic to something or unfortunately sick at the exact wrong time.

Generally speaking, with lots of new furniture in the house and not wanting to explain to every guest that we preferred shoes being kept off of our newly obtained rug, I had the idea last week that if we were going to throw a party, I really wanted it to be outside, weather permitting of course. While the weather did work out in our favor (Hallelujah!), there were some things that needed to be obtained in order to pull this event off. Namely, we needed 1) something to do outside and 2) somewhere to sit.

Being the frugalistas we aren't, I had the grand idea of doing a bon fire. I figured we could pick a spot in our non-grassed back yard, buy some wood and the stuff for s'mores, borrow some chairs and voila! We'd have a bon fire party ready made without costing a whole lot! Justin upped it a notch by suggesting we get some wood from his dad. Ok, that sounds good to me. :)

Then come Thursday night as Justin is watering the garden he realizes that our landlord has some plastic down to prevent weeds from taking over the back yard. Oops. Apparently putting a fire on top of plastic isn't the best of ideas. However, the invite was out, so we needed to find a new way of making our bon fire happen.

We went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond in search of a fire pit we could buy, but even with a 20% off coupon in hand, I was not exactly happy with the $100 fire pit they were selling. I am of the opinion that if you are going to buy something for $100 you had better like it and expect it to last a long, long, LONG time. So our next visit was to Home Depot. We went to 3 different ones before finding fire pits. I still wasn't happy with what I was seeing, but there was a fire pit bowl with a screen for sale. Knowing that the cost of bricks would be enough to break the bank, I was unwilling to settle for anything less, because I had no intention of ever going fire pit looking (or buying) ever again. Justin finally agreed with me and we decided to give the bowl a shot; he figured he could get his friend's help putting the fire pit together just prior to the party.

As fate would have it, upon arriving back at our house after hours of searching for the perfect fire pit, Justin suddenly realized that, not only did we have bricks, but we had enough bricks to make our fire pit work without spending any more money. Yay!!!

Not only did our fire pit go over quite well that night, but a friend that came into our house mentioned that our house reminded him a bit of Paris. I'm not sure I can ever explain how happy that made me, though having never been to Paris myself, I did not necessarily understand. Apparently the smell of smoke combined with the old wood doors, pastel blues, antique furniture, and tiny house make one feel as though they are visiting a foreign country? I suppose I am okay with that. :)

In other news, Paris In Color just went on sale at Anthropologie. While I cannot say whether or not the book is worth buying, I can say that I am especially intrigued with the author's etsy shop. All of a sudden, I have the strongest desire to have images of macarons or Paris city lights in my home.

I can just see those macaroons hanging in the kitchen or a big version of the Paris city lights framed beautifully on a wall.

Since I am still on lots of allergy medication, I am finding myself extremely tired. I would love to hear how your weekend was though, dear readers. What do you think of Nichole Robertson's exquisite work?

2 Days and Counting

Remember how I said I wanted our spare bed to look like one from at a store?

I think we succeeded! Yay!

Don't you just love the Ralph Lauren Cream Lace bedskirt we bought from Macy's? I think it just adds that little bit of extra oomph! :)

image of bed skirt courtesy of Macy's

In case you are wondering, what I have discovered is that if you are going to make a bed up like they do in stores, you must start with a bed skirt, fitted sheet, flat sheet, blanket, duvet/comforter, and LOTS of pillows in different sizes.

Here's how you do it:
1. After putting on the bed skirt and fitted sheet, you tuck the flat sheet and blanket in using "hospital corners". (I'm not sure why since you can't see it?) Make sure the blanket is pulled down a good distance from the headboard, but the flat sheet is pulled all the way up to the headboard/top edge of the mattress. Before tucking the sheets and blanket in, you pull the flat sheet back so that it covers the top of the blanket. Then you can tuck it all in. 
2. The comforter/duvet is folded over itself at the bottom of the bed. (I just used the picture that came with my duvet as a guide.) 
3. Then you pile on all of the pillows on the bed adjusting as necessary until it looks awesome! :) 
4. I added a blanket at the bottom, because I had it. Other bloggers have recommended doing this for the "added interest" it provides. *shrugs*

Backing up just a bit, this is what is on the bed:
- duvet cover, pillow shams including the bright pink ones are Raymond Waites from Bloomingdales $130
- blanket at the foot of the bed is no longer sold from Pottery Barn bought for us as a wedding gift $80
- bed blanket that you can't see but I highly recommend is Ralph Lauren also bought as a wedding gift but currently being sold as closeout at Macy's and also found at Marshall's $30
- sheets are Ralph Lauren sateen 300 thread count from Marshall's $40
- king pillow cases are also Ralph Lauren 600 thread count from Home Goods $13
- feather and fiber fill pillows are a mix from Costco, my parents house, and Amazon $200
- feather mattress pad from Marshall's $50
- duvet feathers from Bed, Bath, and Beyond bought with gift cards from our wedding last year $100
- mattress protector from Macy's $50
- pillow covers from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Macy's $80
- headboard borrowed from my parents (and not going to stay permanently) $?
- mattress borrowed from my parents $?
- Ralph Lauren bed skirt from Macy's $70

Total cost: $843

It makes you sick how much can be spent on a bed, but I am excited that our guests should be super comfortable staying with us! Justin even went the extra mile last night and steamed the bed skirt and duvet cover. I think our guests possibly have a more comfortable bed then Justin and I do!

In other news, Justin worked on the bathroom last night bleaching all of the crevices and everything in between, so it looks nice and white. Tonight he said he will clean the kitchen, which is already pretty clean. We're just going to go over the floors, finish cleaning out the fridge, and make sure the cupboards are as clean as possible. (I can't stand going to other people's houses and letting them cook for me in their dirty kitchens. I'm much more content when the kitchen is clean, so why would I expect any different of my guests?)

We got rid of approximately 6 boxes of recycling this morning, and we have one final box of things to be stored at my parent's house. Before our guests arrive tomorrow, Justin and I anticipate going to my parent's house to retrieve extra wine, beer, and soda that was leftover from our wedding last year along with some lawn chairs so that tomorrow night we can have a bon fire. Justin's parents have some wood they are going to let us use, since our guests wanted to have a small get-together at our house.

Yes, you heard me correct. Along with having guests over and getting ready for a Saturday wedding soiree, Justin and I are also getting ready for our first house party. We decided a bonfire with s'mores and/or marshmallows, and beer might be the most appropriate way to spend our night, since I'm trying to keep people out of the house and away from my beautiful new (expensive) rug that I am not wanting to ruin too quickly.

So what do you think? Did we spend too much on that bed? (Yes.) Do we make having extras from a  wedding a year ago sound awesome? (It is.) Are you ready for a summer of warm days and cool nights when bon fires are appropriate and a fun way to spend an evening with friends? (I know I am!)

Wedding Prep

Last night Justin and I took my thrift store find. . .

to the dry cleaners, so that I would be able to wear it on Saturday for Justin's friends elopement/party/wedding. You have no idea how excited I was to find this dress for so cheap. Originally priced around $100 (or more) and sold at one of my favorite stores (Anthropologie), I did a double take when I saw this dress on the mannequin at one of my favorite thrift stores. Not only was the dress affordable ($7 after the original price of $14 was marked down 50% due to a sale they were having), but the dress also fit me! (I'm not sure I wouldn't have bought it and sold it even if it hadn't!) Needless to say, it didn't take much convincing at all to convince Justin that I needed it. He was just amused that I could pick out an Anthropologie brand at a store that wasn't Anthropologie.

Then we were off to get my hair cut. My hair had grown out from shoulder length to halfway down my back. Justin wanted me to grow my hair out. Unfortunately, when it gets a certain length down my back, I absolutely hate it. Any other girls relate? I decided that perhaps having my bangs back might make me feel better. In the process of cutting my bangs, the hair dresser cut a lot more off then I anticipated. On the positive side, I like how my hair is now framing my face, but I feel bad that I told Justin I would grow my hair out and now it's all cut. At least it won't feel so hot this summer.

Last night Justin took me to get my nails done. (Did I mention I have the best husband ever?) Not only did Justin take me, but when my barette started falling out of my hair, he actually attempted to fix it. (I couldn't touch it with my newly painted nails.) Poor guy. Not sure why he knows how to do everything but put clips in hair. You'd think hair clipping would be simple. ;)

Am I the only one that goes crazy before a wedding trying to get ready?

We, obviously, did more cleaning last night, but we still have more to do. Tonight I'm working late, so anyone want to make a bet on whether or not Justin will get anything done? I left him a list, so we'll see. . .

Until tomorrow. . .

Spring Cleaning & Guest Prep

Yesterday I shared how our guest bedroom is coming together.

One thing I'm wanting to do is make the bed look like what you see in stores.

I found this website that recommends using a few things Justin and I don't have and cannot afford to buy in the next month, including a coverlet. Plus, this design doesn't really work when the duvet has a pattern. Perhaps more searching is needed. Any ideas?

Justin also did a number on the kitchen last night cleaning counters and most especially attacking the fridge.

I continued going through things (paperwork, coupons, mail) and installed one of my newest favorite organizers.

You see I was quite spoiled before getting married. When I lived with my family, I had 2 closets for clothes, a dresser, a bedside table, a desk, and drawers in my own personal bathroom. In Justin's and my shared rental house, I have 2/3 of the closet (dresses take up a lot of room!), half of the dresser, and a bedside table. Overall I am doing pretty good since I still have more space then Justin has, but unfortunately a side effect of living in a smaller space is that I have less room to store things. I've gotten rid of quite a bit, but there are some things you just can't get rid of. When we moved into this house I decided that my underwear, sleepwear, hair, and make-up products all had to fit comfortably in one large drawer. Obviously I got rid of a lot in order to make everything fit, but despite the fact that I would organize, and it would all be perfectly positioned in my drawer, inevitably, a few days later, everything would be tossed out of the drawer in a desperate search for one thing in particular, leading to more time needed for organization when I went to put everything back up. It was very annoying and frustrating. With the drawer organizers you see above, my drawer is now neatly separated into 3 different compartments. Everything has it's place, and the likelihood of my crazy haphazard take-everything-out-of-the-drawer approach to finding something is much reduced.

We still have quite a few things that need to get done before our guests arrive, but we are glad the visit has encouraged us to deeply clean our entire house. Aren't you glad you aren't us? ;)

As an aside, people who plan major events on holidays really aggravate me.

Hope you all are having a fantastic week so far!

Weekend Recap

Over the weekend we spent more time working on our spare bedroom (along with running around like chickens with our heads cut off).

Almost everything you see in this room originally got used in our wedding: the cherry blossoms, the curtain flowers, and the birds. (Yes, I had thought about this prior to wedding planning.)

Unfortunately, we still aren't done. You have no idea how hard of a time we had finding down filled Euro shams. In fact, one cashier at Belk decided I needed to know that the majority of people use regular pillows when filling Euro shams since Euro shams are decorative. I almost got into an argument with her since she made me pretty mad. As the consumer, who is willing to spend more money to buy exactly what I want, I sincerely feel that my opinion is the only opinion that mattered in this particular case. As the cashier, I feel she should have done her best to sell the item it was that I wanted rather than arguing with me. Needless to say, I took my business elsewhere and ordered our Euro pillows on Amazon last night, so those bright pink squares that seem so awkwardly positioned on the bed will, in approximately 2 days, be filled with Euro pillows! 

I do have to say that after approximately 6 loads of laundry per day the past three days, I am beyond ready to be done preparing for our guests. I can still hardly believe the transformation this room has gone from in the past 2 months. I have a feeling that it's days of being a junk room are over!

We did other exciting things this weekend including having a rainy stay-at-home date night watching You Only Live Twice while pigging out on popcorn and drinking root beer floats made out of Frostie Root beer. (In my opinion, Frostie Root beer is the BEST root beer to ever come in to existence!). Then Sunday morning Justin made some delicious homemade strawberry jam with strawberries that were going bad. Finally an Anthropologie find at a thrift store along with a hair cut truly made my weekend!

So anyway, I would love to hear about what you did over the weekend? If you are getting ready for a wedding, what are your thoughts on reusing decorations in the guest room? Have you ever had a Frostie Root beer?

Curtains!! & Language Apps

Amidst all of the roach problems, I'm not sure if I mentioned the lovely sheers Justin made for our living room last weekend?

Or that our spare bedroom is finally coming together? :)

It's nice to see the changes.

In fact, even more changes will occur this weekend as we put our spare bed together. I am so excited about it! 

Also this weekend, I anticipate Justin working on more curtains for the downstairs while I will be doing a ton of laundry and intensely cleaning the bathroom. Eek! Any suggestions for getting a disgusting stained bathtub to look new again? (I've tried CLR, comet, and soft scrub to no avail.)

But before I leave you all for the weekend, I thought I would recommend an awesome app for people who want to learn languages. Obviously Justin and I are going to Germany next year, so I've been pushing myself to study German more and more. Even if I can't actually speak the language, I'm sure it will be beneficial to have more vocabulary under my belt.

Starting last year I was using Mindsnacks. I downloaded both the German and Italian version to play while babysitting. It costs, but the games are fun, and I found I didn't have to have the sound on to play the games. According to the game, I learned more than 1000 German words before completing all 50 levels last month! Now I can play it in "review mode", but, while that helps keep the old vocabulary fresh in my mind, it does not help with forming sentences, learning gender, or speaking the language. Generally I would be fine with that except that the personal "quests" keep getting stuck. I realize I cannot get any higher in the game, but I would love for it to say "Congratulations! You've completed X Quest" rather than forcing me to do it again and again while never actually giving me credit. :(

I decided to move on and find a different German app to study with. Recently I found Duolingo, an app that allows you to learn any language you would like (that they offer, specifically German, Italian, Spanish, French, and Portugeese). Duolingo actually forces you to use sound while you are playing, so I really only play on road trips or where the kids I babysit are not in the room. The game asks you to repeat your vocabulary in a variety of ways and even includes lessons featuring grammar! Yuck! I hate grammar! Even in English! :( Nevertheless, you learn vocabulary through repetition by completing sentences, selecting the gender for the word, practicing the spelling of the word by writing what you hear, and (while there is an option to not use it) reciting the vocabulary you hear to the game. I love that each level has the option to "test out". It means that, since I've studied the words for different colors in at least 2 class settings and practiced it on Mindsnacks, if I test out on Duolingo, I can skip the lesson related to color altogether! Hallelujah! 

I've tried a number of other games to learn German but Mindsnacks and Duolingo have been the most entertaining of the ones I've found. (I'm not a huge fan of studying vocabulary cards and taking "tests" on those words.) So if you are looking to study any language in the near future, I definitely recommend trying one of those apps.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend (as always)!

Anthropologie Storybook Tea Towels

Remember when I said we spotted a roach in our kitchen cabinets?

That's what our house has looked like for the past 2 days, except worse. Kitchen supplies and utensils EVERYWHERE!

Luckily, as of last night it has (mostly) been put away. I was really hoping to help Justin go through the kitchen supplies as we were putting them away, but I got called to the computer for some last minute work.

When I finally finished my work, Justin had already moved on to fixing a flat tire on his bike. Since we had received three 9x9 frames in the mail from Art to Frames, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. :)

Remember these?

image from Under the Sycamore
I did this:

And then cute artwork existed.

I set them leaning against the wall on the very top of the couch. Justin commented they would fall on him when he sat down. I agreed mentioning that then they would be "angry birds" rather than cute birds. ;) These birds make me smile whenever I look at them. They are just sooooo cute!

We are still trying to decide where they will go, but we feel like we've made a step in the right direction by framing them! (FYI: You may want to go with a bigger frame then 9x9 if you decide to buy these kitchen towels too.)

Anthropologie's Storybook Romance Kitchen Towels

What I think is so amusing about these towels is that if you go check out the reviews on Anthropologie's website, you see that, along with getting these towels for newlywed couples, people are also getting them for crafts (such as pillows, pinboards, etc. . .).

Plus, who can resist that adorable tag on the towels?!

The wood frames from Art to Frames I picked are here. I was afraid to go with white for fear it would look too similar to the towel, but I didn't want to go with something really contrasty like a black or brown. The white on pine looks most like my top picture. It stands out, but it's not an eye sore like my last image indicates with that bright yellow color. Eek!

Have you gotten into the whole craze of framing things that weren't designed as art? Do you love the Anthropologie tea towels as much as me? Where do you think we should hang them?

Michael Bublé To Be Loved album review

Everyone's favorite Canadian crooner is back again, finding his harmony while making his way through the American songbook (and looking oh-so dapper in a suit)! Since I received Michael Bublé's To Be Loved album from One 2 One Network, I have listened to it approximately three times already. There is a good mix of old and new, upbeat and slow. To Be Loved, out now, finds the Grammy winner covering songs by Frank Sinatra, the Bee Gees, Jackson 5, Elvis Presley, Van Morrison, and more. In the mix of golden standards are four original songs co-written by Bublé, dipping into his personal life for inspiration. These are good times for the singer, who is about to become a first-time dad.

First let's start with the songs:

1. "You Make Me Feel So Young" 

Who doesn't like Frank Sinatra? It definitely seems that Michael Bublé had a lot of fun singing this song. It sounds incredibly similar to the original Frank Sinatra hit. Unfortunately, since I spent a lot of time listening to Frank Sinatra in preparation for my wedding last year, I'm having a hard time really giving Bublé's version a chance. Sinatra seems to go from one note to the next seamlessly while Bublé holds notes fooooooooooorrrrrreeeeeevvvvvvvvveeeeeerrrrrrr. (Does that make sense?) It just doesn't work for me.

2. "It's A Beautiful Day"

haha. I love this song. It's a very happy, upbeat song. I don't really understand "I'm glad you're the one that got away" in the midst of "It's a beautiful day and I can't stop myself from smiling"; how depressing! Yay lyrical dissonance! I mean just check out those lyrics! Nevertheless, the song itself is pretty fun; it would probably be a great song to get your friends to listen to if they are going through a break up. ;)

Check out the music video here!

3. "To Love Somebody"

When I first heard this song, I immediately knew it was a re-recording of a song from the '60's, but I couldn't think of the artist. You should have seen my surprise when I realized it was the BeeGee's. I typically HATE the BeeGee's, but, luckily for Michael Bublé, I actually like this song. It really reminds me of Diana Ross, and, being as unfamiliar with music as I am, I thought she was the original recording artist. (*hides face in shame*) Did you know this song was originally written for Otis Redding? I can totally imagine him singing this song!

Anyway, Bublé does a pretty awesome job recording this song. It was something completely different for me to experience hearing from him. (Who is singing the back up in this song?) It holds pretty true to the original except that it's Michael Bublé and obviously more current sounding than the original. Kudos to him for taking a chance recording this song. :)

4. "Who's Lovin' You"

This is a pretty fun song too. It is definitely a crooner song. Honestly, I love the older, more mature sound coming from Bublé's re-recording than I do the younger sound from the Jackson 5, the original artist. The lyrics are pretty depressing, but it's still a good song. I could see my mom or grandparents liking the song, but that's pretty much true for any Michael Bublé song.

5. "Come Dance With Me"

"Come Dance With Me" is very much a song you would dance the salsa to. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of Bublé singing this style of music. I think he is much better when he sticks to crooners. Once again though, I give him credit for attempting to branch out. Maybe someone out there will like it. :)

6. "Close Your Eyes"

Written by Bublé, this song is perfect for him! It is a beautiful song, and probably the main reason Bublé has a career, singing to his (mostly) female audience.

Close your eyes

Let me tell you all the reasons why

You’re never going to have to cry

Because you’re one of a kind
Yeah here’s to you
The one that always poses true
You always do what you got to do babe
Because you’re one of a kind

He even says: "I wrote Close Your Eyes about my wife and about the power of all the women in my life—my sisters, my mom, my grandma and all women in general. Let’s face it, where would we be without them?" Yeah, Michael Bublé, you're pretty awesome too.

But seriously, this is the song you choose as your wedding song, or a slow dance song at the prom. It's sweet, perhaps a little over the top, and completely what you would expect from Michael Bublé.

7. "To Be Loved"

Honestly, at this point in the cd it would be fun to have an upbeat song that wasn't necessarily about love (see Haven't Met You Yet). Bublé, however, must have disagreed with my feelings on this matter, because "To Be Loved" is definitely a love song in pretty much the same style as most of the other songs on this cd. It's slow and sounds a bit 50's-esque. I'm not entire sure I would have named an album after this, formerly Jackie Wilson single. Why not pick a title from a song you wrote? Either way, it is definitely not a favorite on this album.

8. "You've Got a Friend In Me"

Umm. . . WHAT?!?! Disney?!?! How about no?! This song was definitely a surprise, but Michael Bublé just doesn't compare to the original Disney recording. Sorry Bublé. Moving on.

9. "I Got It Easy"

Another slow song. The song sounds really depressing until you get to the chorus. Once again, I would probably be more interested in these slow songs if there had been a fast song somewhere in there. Bublé has definitely written better songs.

10. "Young At Heart"

Another Frank Sinatra crooner, at this point in the album, I'm wondering why Bublé didn't pair up with Disney to make a fairy tale album. Why not pick a fun song like "New York, New York"? If it had been placed well in the album, it would definitely be worth listening to. However, as it currently is  I'll probably be frequently skipping this song too.

11. "After All"

Finally an upbeat song! Within the first 10 seconds, I have decided my ears are quite happy for a breath of fresh air. A happy song with happy lyrics. Plus, what an awesome pairing of Bublé with Bryan Adams! 

12. "Something Stupid"

A compilation with Reese Witherspoon, "Something Stupid" kind of sounds like something stupid. I'm not quite certain that Reese Witherspoon can actually sing; maybe others will disagree with me. Go ahead and give it a listen. Let me know what you think. Of course, I'm a bit partial to the Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman version. Nicole Kidman has an amazing voice, and that is hard to compete with.

13. "Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You)"

Despite my feelings on "Something Stupid", I think it's amusing that Bublé would follow it up with "Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You)". Another very slow crooner, I'm not a huge fan.

14. "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You"

While I adore this song, Bublé has managed to change this song up a bit and give it more interest. I would have preferred if he had made more upbeat (Are you noticing a trend?), but rather this song sounds very 50's-esque with a hint of "Blue Christmas". If I wanted to listen to "Blue Christmas", I would have just listened to it.

Overall, while I am grateful to Michael Bublé and One 2 One Network for giving me the opportunity to review To Be Loved, I'm not too sure I would have bought it myself. Songs like "After All" and "It's a Beautiful Day" might be individual songs I would purchase using Amazon, but I just can't see myself desiring the whole album. The album was particularly slow with lots of love songs. However I do recommend a couple of Bublé's previous recordings: It's Time, Call Me Irresponsible, and Crazy Love.

If you give this album a listen, let me know in the comments what you think!

**I participated in this campaign for One2One Network. I received a free copy of the album to facilitate my review. By posting, I am eligible for incentives. All opinions stated are my own.