A Few Of My Favorite Things: Summer Edition

Adorama Pix has offered me a free 8x10 aluminized metal print. Since I have never ever ever had one printed like that, I'm actually pretty excited. I am constantly second guessing myself though. Which image would look the best? Which one do I like the best? So on and so forth...

I assume you may have already guessed after reading yesterday's post that there will be no instagram collage this month. :( Thirty + minutes to find images does not sound like my cup of tea.

Given that my first of two vacations starts today(!!), I decided to make a list of just a few of my favorite things to do during the summer.

1. Go star gazing. That's actually pretty fun in the winter as well, but it is definitely nicer to go star gazing when you aren't freezing!!

2. Read a good book on a rainy summer day. My choice? Catcher In the Rye. I haven't read that book in soooooo many years!

3. Go to the beach. Duh. Who am I kidding? Who doesn't like to go to the beach? Sand between your toes, ocean waves ... *sigh* :)

4. Drink Limeade/lemonade and/or eat popsicles. Since we have lime Outshine popsicles, I see the two things as one in the same. It only really works well if done outside with a three year old. Or your husband. Whichever.

5. Picnics and camp fires. With s'mores. By the lake, by the beach, in the park with ice cream. I also like sitting in gazebos at the park eating a breakfast picnic with the hubby while it rains. There just isn't anything better except maybe ...

6. Homemade ice cream. Peach flavored, because I grew up in Georgia.

7. Fireworks. What isn't there to celebrate? Memorial day, Labor day, 4th of July, about 1 zillion birthdays, and VACATION! Yeah, fireworks are a must.

8. Take pictures with black and white film. I think the last time I did that was 5 years ago. The images came out incredible! Plus, there is just something about using film: a joy you simply don't get with digital. You'll have to trust me on this one.

9. Go to a drive-in. My favorite in the Atlanta area is the Starlight Six.

10. Ummm ...



I'll have to get back to you on that one. :)

Hope you all are having a fantastic Friday!

Remember when I said I went on a shooting spree? ...

This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite shots from this week.  :)

I hope you all are having a fantastic week. I know for certain that I am ready for the weekend! I'm feeling very distracted as I attempt to plan one very last minute vacation to Charleston, SC along with finishing the prep for our mostly planned trip to NYC and Boston toward the end of this month.

Have you ever planned a last minute vacation on a very tight budget? Do you have any recommendations for me?

I foresee the month of July being very busy and filled with activities. I just hope I can keep up with it all.

**Sidenote: Apple's "geniuses" failed to fix Iphoto for me. I will be talking tonight with Justin about whether or not to take it back to the store and *MAKE* them fix it ... or just deleting the program altogether and starting anew. So this is my head's up that my monthly instagram collage may not work out this month. :(

Travel Deals

I am a huge fan of vacations where I get to experience new and exciting things ... and I'm also a bit of a deal junky. If it can be had for less, either I will find said deal ... OR I will find a similar deal. If I don't spend the time researching, and I am not confident in a deal that I did find, I won't take advantage ofit. If I do, I usually end up regretting my "jump" or second-guessing myself. (i.e. If I had saved x amount of money on y, I could have also paid for a, b, and c. *sad face*)

Knowing that we were going to NYC and Boston in nearly a month, I did my very best to find good deals. I had known about the trip for over a year, but it wasn't until the beginning of June that I realized I needed to find a hotel/place to stay for our time in Boston. (There was a lot of miscommunication about where we were going, for how long, and with whom we would be staying.) Anyway, we now have a house booked with Airbnb. It wasn't the best deal I could find, but I'm glad my research is over. I was really starting to hate people that required week-long rentals. So far the process of using Airbnb has been good, but, obviously, I cannot give you a full review of the website until after the payment clears and we've stayed at the house.

Within the past week though, my parents mentioned having vacation time off and asked Justin and I if we wanted to go to Charleston and/or the beach with them. For me, it was a resounding YES! Justin and I, both, already had some holiday time off for that week in particular. I knew we all would be on a tight budget, so I began my search at some of the home away vacation rentals (i.e. Airbnb, vrbo, etc...). I was having decent luck but nothing too amazing.

Then, today, I discovered all of the special deals Travelocity was doing.

$50 off of $300+
10% off $200+
Spend $200 with Amex, get $50 back
For $49, buy a $100 travelocity gift card/coupon (to be used on purchases of $250
For $25, buy a $50 travelocity gift card/coupon

Yeah. I was kind of excited. :)

All of a sudden, I was able to bring the cost of a 2 day vacation down enough to make it a 5 day vacation. Heck yeah! I can totally get behind that! (And apparently so could my husband who has been watching me research deals for the past 2 weeks and constantly been telling me that we can't afford a beach vacation. His response: "Wow!")

I don't say this very often, but YOU CAN AFFORD A VACATION. Go check out travelocity for some awesome deals right now. Maybe you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was. :)

This post contains my own opinions and not those of Travelocity, Airbnb, or any other travel company. I am not getting compensated in any way.

Lack of Blog Posts

Happy Friday!

Once again, I am going without a blog post today. And once again, I apologize. :( I realize I am being a bad blogger.

On the up side, I am experimenting with Airbnb.com to book a rental for our NYC/Boston vacation. I'll let you all know how that goes (possibly after the vacation!).

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Look forward to being back on Monday! :)


Dear Friends,

Something has come up (multiple somethings) and I will be unable to post anything of any real value today (unless a miracle happens). You have my sincerest apologies. I hope you all have a magnificent Thursday!

With Love.

A Day At Anthropologie: Reviews

What a great day it has been so far! Paycheck came in AND Anthropologie is having a sale! Normally this would be very bad timing, but so far everything has worked out well. There is money available even though I don't actually want anything from the sale. End of review, right?! ;)

Knowing that the semi-annual tag sale was coming up, Justin and I went by Anthropologie after dropping off my laptop at the Apple Store (hospital?) for the next 3-5 days while they do "extensive diagnostic testing" on it.

The following is a list of what I tried on as well as my thoughts:

One of the first things I tried on was the Creeping Lace Hoodie (currently on sale for $59.95) in blue. I don't frequently wear hoodies, and this past winter I got rid of the only one I had. Nevertheless, the texture and color of this gorgeous sweater drew me in. Online this sweater looks thick, but, in reality this sweater is actually incredibly thin and see through. You will need to wear something under it. It looks very delicate, and I have no doubt that not only will this sweater stretch out over time, but it will also, more than likely, snag on EVERYTHING! Jewelry, hair clips, door knobs, etc...! I'm sure it would also be good for you to know that, because this sweater is see through, the dark blue you see on the website seems much lighter in person. This sweater is super long in person. I could have almost worn it as a dress! The sweater is also just a bit over sized. I tried on the small, and there was a lot of extra room in the bust and arms. You will probably want to size down.

Overall, while I love the idea of this sweater, it just didn't work for me. It was too long to wear with a skirt, too unflattering to wear with jeans, and too delicate (and expensive!) to wear casually around the house.

Next I tried on the Jardim Lace Dress in a 2. I actually thought it was a different dress when I tried it on! Oops! Anyway, this dress comes in two parts: a slip underneath the dress and the dress itself. The dress kind of looks a bit vintage on the hanger... or like it could have been vintage. It obviously isn't, but it gives a hint of that vintage vibe. The dress is not actually lace; it actually has more of a ribbon kind of thing sewn onto the fabric to give it that lacy look. The slip underneath is a nude color, but it is not a subdued nude color. The color is more peachy orange than what you typically find when someone says something is nude in color. There isn't really a whole lot to say about this dress. The arm holes are huge and I'm pretty sure you would need some extensive altering for this dress to fit you like it does the model through the arms. The dress itself I would say is true to size. It fit me a little big, but I normally wear a 0 at Anthropologie, so I was expecting that. The slip, on the other hand, is TIGHT. It really makes you wonder if they paired the wrong slip with the dress. The mannequin at Anthropologie had a belt on with this dress, and I'm almost thinking that a belt is a necessity for this dress. This dress took any shape I had/have and threw it out the window! Not flattering at all! And before I move on to the next piece, let me just say that the pink version of this dress is Barbie pink. I was surprised that they would make an adult dress in that color!

I'm sure if I looked like the model in this dress I would have loved it, but as it was, it was a no-go for me.

Justin picked out the Pindot Ruffle Dress in a size 0 for me to try on thinking it looked very similar to one sold at H&M last year that I had fallen in love with on pinterest. I never had the chance to try on the dress from H&M, but I can guarantee you that if it had fit me like this dress fit me, I would not have been interested. I think my problem is that I typically like the hour glass look, and this dress is more of a straight look. Oddly enough, despite my being short, the waist of this dress hit me a little bit high. This dress is nice in that it is stretchy and perfect for a summer's day, but inevitably the stretchy waist made me feel like I was wearing a cheap dress from Wet Seal or something like that. Perhaps it would have looked better with a belt? Overall the dress was true to size, and, despite the stretchiness, I would buy your actual size if you were interested in purchasing it. The stretchiness will not buy you any extra room in this dress.

While I think a skinny person with litte to no curves would look good in this dress, this dress did not suit my body type and I put it back.

The last dress I tried is one I've been watching for weeks, the Forget-Me-Not dress. I saw it on a mannequin at Anthropologie with a cute yellow cardigan, and I've been lusting ever since! :) Let me first say that this dress was the most Anthropologie-esque that I have seen in a long time. When I first fell in love with Anthropologie, it was because of the details you would see in the dresses. For example, this dress has a lovely yellow slip underneath that is attached to the skirt portion of the dress. There is a layer of soft cotton fabric trimmed in lace, and between the cotton slip and the skirt, there is a layer of yellow soft tulle. (Sometimes at other stores dresses have tulle that is hard and itchy, but this tulle was neither of those!) This dress has those little eyelit holes where you see the yellow from the slip peeking through the center of the flowers much like the Overwhelmed Aster Dress. (Actually both dresses were made by the same company -- Moulinette Soeurs!) I love that this dress has straps, and I love the blue ribbon that eally separates the top of the dress from the bottom.

While I'm not in love with this dress I will probably watch it and see how I feel when it hits the sale rack. It is definitely a fun summer dress that I think would be just darling to wear to a wedding. :)

So will you be shopping during Anthropologie's semi-annual Tag sale? Were you able to make it to this morning's "all furniture for $20" price mistake on Anthro's website? (If not, don't worry; I missed it too!)

If nothing is really standing out to you now, make sure to keep an eye on Anthropologie later this month as more items take second and third cuts on the sale rack. You may find exactly what you are looking for at an amazing price!

Don't think; just do it!

I've been taking ballroom dance lessons for quite a while now. Not consistently, but frequently. When Justin and I signed up for swing lessons at the rec center, I just knew I would pick up on it faster than any of the other couples there.

Guess what?

I was wrong.

As crazy as it seems (to me), I am easily one of the worst.

I'm starting to think I have no rhythm and two left feet. It probably doesn't help that every instructor I've ever had teaches swing differently. It can be a bit confusing to try and do what the teacher wants with something so subjective ... like dancing.

Yesterday, when I was paired up with the instructor's male assistant, I was told to quit thinking about what I was doing, and just follow his lead. All of a sudden, everything made sense. I was able to hit the right beats and move almost effortlessly through the routine.

Dance isn't the only art form that requires less thinking. I've also been told that in art and music classes. You practice, practice, practice ... and the minute you let go (emotionally), that minute you quit thinking ... you produce something AMAZING.

I wish I could say that it all made sense to me and that, from this point forward, I will always remember to let go and just do. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Sometimes thinking is required; how else can you learn the right steps? Nevertheless, previous experience has shown me that you just have to find that moment and hold on to it while you have it.

I feel like this is a life lesson of sorts, but I'm not quite sure how.

Any ideas?

I hope all of my readers are having a fantastic Tuesday!

Weekend Recap

I hope all of my readers had a fantastic weekend spending time with their fathers and what not. :)

Justin and I spent the majority of Saturday with his father followed by some time with cute little Charlie, his buddy Teddy, and Charlie's older brother Ben.

On Sunday, Justin and I went to visit with my family after attempting to make some Julia Child something or other (dessert) that didn't turn out. I'm guessing it might have helped if we actually looked at and/or followed the recipe. Seeing a picture of a recipe in a book probably doesn't produce the best results. (Or at least that is the excuse I'm sticking with!)

Over the weekend, Justin and I got to enjoy the fruits of our budgeting. We were able to pay for the entire meal when we went out with Justin's family still managing to fit it under the umbrella of our food budget. We were also able to bring food to my family's get together despite not being asked to. And guess what? We still have money left over in our food budget and a FULL fridge. Do you know what I mean when I say FULL? ... I mean to the brim. We couldn't fit anything else in there if we tried! We have at least 4 different types of meals frozen, some fresh vegetables, and some meal "parts" that we can combine to make different, fresh meals. Plus, we have at least 3 gift cards to different restaurants if for whatever reason we just cannot eat at home.

Check out how well our budget is doing:

With two weeks to go, I'm optimistic. The best part about being on budget in so many areas is that we are able to experiment a little.

On Friday night Justin and I pulled out all of our cookbooks and went through them until we had decided on a recipe we were interested in cooking. (We settled on chicken pot pie and cream puffs.) Justin pulled up Alton Brown's recipe for the chicken and he used Julia Child's recipe for the cream puffs. Dinner was absolutely amazing, and it was fun eating something different. It's definitely nice having the money and time to experiment. (Justin is on summer hours at his office, and he gets half of Friday off!)

We also managed to call up AT&T and get a cheaper price on our internet, call our car insurance company to get a cheaper price on that, call around to different car rental companies about our upcoming vacation, and start up a savings account for our trip to Germany! (Until this point, we had just been saving for NYC and developing our emergency fund.)

I was also really excited to get a picture of my brother printed for my father and grandfather. My brother has been impatiently begging for a new profile picture for his facebook, and it's taken me a good two weeks to get it to an acceptable quality (for me). My parents kiddingly asked if I had used Photoshop on the image when I gave them the photo last night. They seemed a bit shocked and surprised that the camera doesn't perform miracles. (Why no, the camera itself will not take 20 pounds off of you and get rid of your pimples. My apologies.)

Unfortunately, with regards to iphoto, I have no idea when it will be fixed. :( Justin mentioned it may be running badly since my new camera takes larger images than my old one. (18mp vs. 8mp.) So I'm thinking I may have to give up my image library with iphoto and consider using either Lightroom or Aperture. Hmm ... Decisions, decisions.

Did you all do anything fun this holiday weekend? Do you have any suggestions/recommendations for me regarding replacing Iphoto?

Patience & Budgeting + Artsy Couture Review

If there is one thing I am not, it is patient. For example, I cannot stand the fact that today is the 14th and not the 15th. If it were the 15th, Justin would be getting paid today and receiving his check by Wednesday. But no. Tomorrow, Saturday, is the 15th. This means that Justin won't get paid until Thursday since his paycheck will go out on Monday (the 17th) and be in the bank Thursday (three days later, the 19th).

On the one hand, I LOVE the fact that it is Friday. I think I look forward to that every week. BUT I also look forward to pay day. Not my pay day, but instead Justin's. My pay day hardly makes a difference to our finances. I slowly but surely add money to savings like The Little Engine That Could (the children's book). Unfortunately, that's all my money really does. Sit there in savings until we have some crazy bill we can't afford, weren't thinking about or planning for, or ... something. There always seems to be something.

Justin's paycheck, on the other hand, means we get to pay off bills and pay down debt! I LOVE paying down debt! (And bills.) It's like I have this mental check list in my head and the sooner I can get things taken care of, the happier I am. I get super excited when I am able to make money appear out of nowhere. I like saving money on budgeted items or getting a super great deal at the store ... or even when I'm able to convince a service provider to charge us just a wee bit less. It's like Christmas! I can't stand the fact that we have to spread our bills and budgeting out over the course of the month. Oh well. I guess being patient is a necessary and important part of life.

In other news, I'm currently reformatting my iphoto library! Maybe it will start working well enough for me to share my pizza making tutorial! (It will be fun! I promise!)

I received my trial order from Artsy Couture yesterday. At first I was super excited. I had heard such great things about them, and I was expecting to be impressed and/or amazed. To be blunt, I prefer my Costco order. Depressing, right? :-/

My Artsy Couture order came in a typical postal box which I loved. I loved knowing that any images inside that box would be in pristine condition. The box itself was easy enough to open up. The images on the other hand were a tad difficult. Protected by two layers of plastic wrap and some cardboard on either side, I was crazy worried I was going to accidentally cut into the pictures. Luckily that second bit of plastic wrap was just enough to protect my images.

Artsy Couture prides itself in including wrapping for your images, so that they look beautiful when you give them to your clients. This was one of the things I was most excited about seeing. Unfortunately this wrapping was a flower on top of cardboard. Really Artsy Couture?! I was expecting, at the very least, a beautifully designed manilla style folder with a flower. I can't exactly stuff my images into a piece of cardboard, can I? I'm not sure why I would ever want to present a floral cardboard on top of images when providing them to a client. It just makes no sense. And even if the cardboard floral thing was just an example ... why? Why wouldn't you provide the real thing as an example? How am I suppose to base my opinion of the product off of a piece of cardboard?

Moving on...

I understand that a photo printing company can have excellent work and bad packaging. Obviously they are in the "printing of beautiful images" career and not the "designing beautiful packages for the images" career. You cannot necessarily provide both aspects, and that is reasonable. I don't expect a chef to have a fantastic personal website; that's not what s/he does best.

When reading reviews of Artsy Couture I had heard that they had amazing, beautifully saturated printing capabilities. I LOVE saturation. I LOVE color. I LOVE when my images pop. And I was expecting to LOVE Artsy Couture. But truth be told, my images did not pop.Yes, they were saturated well enough, and the color was decent, but they just didn't POP. I expect that I don't get everything right all of the time. Maybe I didn't have the contrast cranked up enough or the saturation wasn't just right. I get that. I was just disappointed that my images were low contrast and much brighter than the images I receive from Costco. Not to mention one image in particular had way too much red. And another image was a bit blurry in comparison to Costco.

I do have to say that I was all for the nice thick paper Artsy Couture printed on. Costco paper just felt flimsy and weightless in your hands compared to Artsy Couture.

The one thing I was hoping to try was to print a canvas print with Artsy Couture. I've heard the canvas prints are AMAZING! But for now I may stick with Costco, AdoromaPix, and WHCC. I still haven't found a printer I am head-over-heels in love with, but the search must continue!

**Sidenote: I had pictures, but iphoto is still hating on me after reformatting. Since Google is of no help, this problem may need to be taken up with Apple or Justin, whoever will help me first, assuming of course I don't delete everything in iphoto out of frustration. (I might!)

Life Rambles

- Remember when I promised a pizza tutorial? Every time I go to edit the photos my laptop gets really hot and becomes really slow, so I've been holding off. Today I realized that maybe I need to reformat my iphoto library. Unfortunately, my laptop is fighting me on this. I think it might be because Justin has two users set up, and he did not give me admin rights. Irritating since I bought this computer before we got married. (Grr!) I'll try to repair iphoto through his account tonight when I have more time. (I probably just need to start using Adobe Lightroom to catalog my photos. I'm just not looking forward to that learning curve.)

- Speaking of my laptop running slow, I bought a 3tb WD My Passport extra hard drive for all of my video files to help clear up some space. I also took my laptop to the Apple store since my warranty runs out this month. They ran one test three times (once on accident) and discovered there MAY BE a problem with my fan working (or not working as the case may be). So sometime next week I have to take my laptop back to Apple for more intense diagnostic testing. Yuck.

- Last night we came home to find ants all over the kitchen bar. Justin couldn't find the source, so we put out some ant baits and went to dinner blowing our food budget. Isn't that the way it always works? Things are going smoothly, and then there is a problem. And bam! It's all over!?! I think we can get back on target, but it's downright frustrating. Guess you just have to keep trying. Unfortunately, I just have a hard time eating in a buggy kitchen. Not my style at all.

- For those of you interested, my cell phone seems to be doing much better. Remember how I said it got a lot worse? Now it looks a lot better with only a few little spots of water still inside the screen. It does have one diagonal line running across the screen, but it doesn't seem to effect performance too much. From what google has suggested, my phone may do one of a few things: 1) completely clear up and run almost perfectly,  2) completely clear up and die or 3) completely clear up and die after a few months due to the water damage it most likely has. Ideally I'd like #1 to happen, but I would be okay with #3 so long as it gets me through until December when my contract ends. I have no interest in paying $400 or $500 for a replacement phone. (I wasn't even interested in paying $200 for a contracted phone, and I only have my current smart phone because it was given as a gift. A gift I <3, but a gift none-the-less.)

- So one thing that has been plaguing me is whether or not to purchase an ipad for our trip to Germany. My laptop is pretty heavy, and I'm concerned about the weight as well as the cost to replace it ($3000 vs. $500). Furthermore, Justin and I currently have one computer between the two of us. It's a goner if it disappears or gets stolen which is not to say we wouldn't feel pain if an ipad were stolen or lost. We are already looking into getting either travelers or photographers insurance, but the question is: Is it reasonable to purchase an ipad for travel? Or maybe I should just save the extra $400 and get a separate (lighter) JoTotes bag for my laptop to make it easier to carry? Hmmm? I hate decisions!!! :)

So those are my life rambles. Maybe tomorrow I'll have something better to talk about. :) Hope you all are having a fantastic Thursday!

Bird Watching & Travel Planning

While I was up in North Georgia two weekends ago I got to sit on my grandparent's front porch and bird watch. Actually, Justin, my brother, and I fought over who got to use my camera with the telephoto lens to capture the birds. I have to say it takes a lot of patience, holding your breath, and a tripod (or deck railing in this case) to get good still life images of birds. (And perhaps praying that the birds actually stay still long enough to get the shot.)


I've been busy planning and thinking about the two (possibly three) upcoming trips that will be happening over the next few weeks (year). I've spent a crazy amount of time looking at airbnb for accommodations for six at the last minute for a great price. And of course my idea of a good price is not quite the same as the people we are staying with. Unfortunately good prices at the last minute, in my opinion, are quite a bit harder to come by. Of course I've also looked at hotels in the Hilton HHonors program since Justin and I have a few points and are looking at matching our gold status from another program to them. However no matter how much I research hotel award points, it always seems to confuse and frustrate me. (So I get how many points for how long of a stay? And those points are worth what?!)

Then yesterday I checked in on rental car prices. I checked at Priceline, vroomvroomvroom, and Costco to come up with a general price range. I'm thinking either myself or Justin will take that knowledge to call the rental car companies see what their best offer is for us for that week, provide them with the best quote we've received and see if they can beat it, and finally call the company with the best price offer and accept. Then we will have a rental car ... Yay! (You know you don't envy us.)

To top it all off, I've now got to start looking into travel insurance. I'm a bit worried about taking my new camera to NYC (and even moreso taking it overseas to Germany when we go next year). So I get to research all of that. Woo.

Of course I'm complaining about all of this research, price matching/beating, and finding the best opportunities for us, but I'm certain it will all be worth it when we finally go on vacation. Money will have been saved, and I will get to focus on having fun, which is always a positive.

Do any of my readers have suggestions/recommendations on saving money while traveling?

The Unthinkable

Over the weekend I wasn't thinking clearly and I did the unthinkable.

I washed my cell phone.

Let that sink in for a moment.

washed. cell. phone. soap. water. CELL PHONE.

Smart move, right? I mean even the cleanest of cell phones has to be washed occasionally. And heck, while you are at it, why not let your cell phone get some exercise! Take it to the pool, throw it in the water, and see how good of a swimmer it is! (Of course if it sinks to the bottom, you might want to go save it. Just saying.)

Luckily, Justin and I have a high efficiency washer and I realized my mistake within five minutes of making it. Unluckily, the cell phone still realized my mistake and now has that stupid little red indicator that says "my owner decided to throw water on me". Thanks Apple for that constant reminder; I'm certain I will always look back at that moment with fond memories.

Well actually, I am pretty lucky in that my cell phone (for now) is still working. We attempted the whole "turn it off immediately" scenario, but my iphone would have none of that. It kept turning itself back on while I thought desperately to myself "do you want to die, stupid phone?!" In a last ditch effort, Justin threw the phone into airplane mode for the day and we left it on a fan to try and rid the device of any moisture that may have become trapped inside.

If it had been the weekend (i.e. Friday and not Sunday), I probably would have left my phone alone for the full 2 or 3 days letting it just dry out. Unfortunately, seeing as my cell phone is my only method of communication with the world (other than my laptop) while my husband is at work, by Sunday night Justin and I HAD to attempt to use it. We made a phone call, checked the internet, tried the texting capabilities, and then put it back on the fan to continue it's drying process until morning when we went to check to see if it would charge and hold charge.

Now, as of Tuesday, my phone (knock on wood) is continuing to work and hold charge. It still does a number of things it did before (including taking pictures, using internet, calling, texting, and so on...), but slowly my screen is looking more and more like there has been water trapped underneath. It didn't look bad on Sunday, but two days later and I am left wondering if the screen will ever clear up.

I will definitely keep you updated on this experience as I am certain many iphone users will want to know what happens when you make a silly mistake like throwing your phone in the wash. Perhaps this will have taught me a lesson in caring for one's phone (not that I thought I was terribly mean to my phone to begin with!).

So peeps, I know I am not the first nor the only one to have ever thrown my phone in the wash (or the toilet, sink, pool, etcetera)! Please, please, please enlighten me with your experiences! (Especially if they are good!) Make a girl feel better! (Or worse, depending on the case.) :)

An Inspirational & Uplifting Individual: Zach Sobiech

I had a pretty crazy weekend this past weekend with ups and downs, but one of the things I have found most inspiring recently is the song "Clouds" and singer Zach Sobiech.

If you haven't heard this song, I definitely recommend it:

You can also watch a short video about Zach's battle with cancer:

Hopefully you will find the song and story as inspirational and uplifting as I have. :)

Bare Escentuals Sale

I rarely (read: never) wear make-up. I generally have pretty good, clear skin, except when I'm getting married, which, luckily, has only happened once. haha. I've only used cheap make-up once on my skin, and I ended up hating it! (I think by that time I was already spoiled by the fancy stuff.)

Well anyway, as it so happens, despite the fact that I rarely wear make-up, I'm actually out of foundation! Apparently I've been to enough weddings, events, Christmas parties, and picture takings that within the past *ahem* years I actually ran out of foundation! Crazy!!

Unfortunately when you walk into Bare Escentuals you just want to buy everything since they always have those little round containers laid out so prettily! You think to yourself looking at the eyeshadows that you just want one pink, one blue, and one purple ... but there are five different shades of pink that are gorgeous and maybe you want the green one too. So soon you find yourself overloaded with hundreds of dollars worth of pretty make-up that, in my case, you want to take home and make art with. (Or maybe you want to put it on your face and you know go out to dinner, because you aren't weird like me. lol.)

And the worst part is that you know Bare Escentuals is the good stuff. It's not bad for your skin, it's not tested on animals, and they even have a list in the FAQ section of things that might be in the make-up that could cause an allergic reaction (read: gluten free).

But you just can't get past that $100+ amount you would be spending on make-up, so you sadly put it all back and walk away.

Well, as it turns out, this weekend, you don't have to, because they are having a SALE!! (Okay, so it's not that amazing of a sale, but I do like discounted prices for things I was going to purchase eventually anyway.) If you type in WELOVEYOU in the promo codes section of their website, you get 20% off and free shipping! Considering I've been waiting nearly a year to correct the lack of foundation problem I am currently experiencing, I think it is a steal!

So yes, brides to be, mothers who don't have time, teens who don't want to ruin their faces with cheap make-up, and women of all kinds: go splurge at Bare Escentuals for once in your life knowing that today you can actually afford it. :)

Budget Update

image courtesy of shopyourtv.com

So this past week I got to see a dress I own (and bought on sale) on a celebrity on tv! Yay! Totally not the highlight of my week, but I do recommend checking out Tracy Reese clothing. Considering the first lady has also been spotted wearing Tracy Reese, I imagine it is a popular brand right now. (By the way, the dress shown above is no longer available. You'll have to shop for it on ebay.)

On to the budget update...

Justin and I are on target this month in our budgeting! Hallelujah! (It seems like it's been several months since that has been the case with guests coming and all!). I'd really love to show you the actual numbers since I am so proud of it, but, since finances are personal, I will not.

Here's what we have done this month:

Food -- As a major expense of ours, we have managed to cut a bunch out by buying meat in bulk, freezing meals, and planning. I cannot say for certain but growing our own tomatoes may be helping our budget as well.

To give you a bit of an example:

Over the past two weeks, Justin and I have bought asparagus, 2 chickens, popsicles, vegetable oil, 5 cheese ravioli, strawberries, and limes in bulk. We also bought cartridges (200) to make sparkling water with our isi water (soda) siphon. (I never knew how much I liked sparkling water until I had an unlimited supply of it!) We may have bought more in bulk then that, but that is all I can think of at the moment. Then, we also have our 6 tomato plants producing tomatos at a slightly surprising yet reasonable rate of maybe 3-5 per week.

I think I've mentioned it before, but here is the break down of what we were able to make using our bulk groceries and some fillers:

fondue: chicken, asparagus, zucchini, potatoes with cheese
grilled chicken: asparagus, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes with cheese or rice
apple sausage ravioli: salad with homemade dressing
boeuf bourguignon: potatoes, carrots, asparagus
margherita pizza: salad with homemade dressing

Justin used the strawberries to make strawberry preserves, and the limes to make limeade. The popsicles make a delicious dessert on hot nights! We got Edy's Outshine brand from Costco which are made from real fruits (and fruit juices in the case of the lime), and they are low in calories without being low in flavor! Yay! Eventually it would be nice to make homemade ice creams and popsicles, but, for now, we will just stick with what's easy and works until we gain more control over our food budget.

I guess I should also mention that all of the above lasts for at least 2 or 3 meals for us. So when I say we made 5 (or so) different dinners from these things, I am not kidding. What we do will more than likely not work the same for everybody as I am the kind of person that shares meals when going out to eat and is quite happy with children's portion sizes in food. (I was only able to eat approximately 1/2 of what is pictured on the plate above!)

To make our food budget go even further, we bought an Entertainment book at half price late last month with tons of coupons for restaurants nearby. It's not usually all that helpful since the coupons typically require the purchase of 2 drinks and 2 meals, but occasionally it works out that we get more for our money for exactly the same price as we would have otherwise paid. (I imagine this works out super well if you get a meal to-go and eat it a day or so later rather than eating it at the restaurant!)

We also buy cleaning supplies with our food budget, and with Justin exercising more, there is more laundry to be done! Eek! So Justin found a homemade laundry detergent recipe that we are going to be trying. If it works, it will lower the amount we spend on laundry detergent significantly! Plus, I imagine homemade laundry detergent is better for us and the environment.

Gas -- Another major consumer of our income is car gas which is funny since my car gets pretty awesome gas mileage and ... I can't say much about Justin's truck. Nevertheless, we were able to cut our gas budget in half this month since Justin has started biking to work! I was able to cut $100 out of the budget!! Yes, that is pretty awesome! Plus, Justin gets to de-stress and exercise on his way home from work rather than taking out all of his work stresses out on me! Big plus!

Don't get me wrong though. Bikes are not always the cheapest form of transportation either. Rather than paying upkeep on a car, you are instead paying for upkeep on the bike. Plus, apparently there are clothing options that make riding a bike more bearable. Luckily for us, there is a program in the state of Georgia that encourages commuters to bike to work by providing giveaways and prizes. Of course if you don't have a program like that in your state, you can also use Gympact to get money for "working out". Keep in mind though that every day you say you will "work out" and you don't, you lose money!

And when biking is not an option, it turns out that this summer Wal Mart has a promotion where, if you use their credit card or gift cards to pay for your gas, you get $.10 off per gallon. So this past week while we were up in the mountains, when we spotted gas for $.20 cheaper at a Wal Mart than it is near where we live, you can be certain that we bought a Wal Mart gift card to fill up on gas for a $.30 per gallon difference!

Utilities/Internet -- Our internet bill just went up after a year of using a special offer provided by AT&T, so it was a huge surprise when a sales associate appeared at our front door last night offering to sell us internet with AT&T. When we explained our problem, he sat on our front stoop talking with us for an hour trying to see what he could do to help. He offered to reduce our current rate by $20 (lower than it was all of this past year) plus provide us with a $250 loyalty Visa credit. That credit would cover our internet bill for approximately 5 months!! While they weren't able to get anything set up last night, he promised to give Justin a call today while he was at his office at AT&T to try and work it out! Can we say free internet for 5 months?! Woot!

Of course, while we have not done it yet, we will also be looking to compare car insurance rates within the next month or so to see if we can get that reduced as well. I'm sure I will let you know when and if that happens. (It's always a good idea to check up on those rates any time you are renewing, because you never know when a better deal will pop up!)

Credit Card Payment/Student Loans -- Rather than keeping all of this extra money in our checking accounts where we are likely to spend it, we are putting it all towards paying down debt. As of last month, we increased the amount we were saving, but it was definitely awesome to be able to put more towards debt management as well. The sooner we can pay off all of our debt the better we will be financially.

I imagine I will be updating again in approximately 2 weeks when Justin gets paid for the second half of the month. In the mean time, I would love to hear how you are handling finances, budgeting, and debt! Do you have any suggestions for me?


Guess what?!

I have no power!

No power means no post! (Or battery life!)

Hope you all have a fantastic Thursday even if it means you must live without my wonderful updates! Lots of love!!

Flowers & Sunshine

I can hardly finish editing one series of images before I am off shooting again! (Image above is unedited, straight out of camera.) Last night Justin and I went out on a little date whereby we walked to the center of the city (camera in tow), ate Mexican, and I practiced using two settings on my camera that I was previously unaware of. There is one setting that will immediately alert you to any part of the image being too bright, and another setting that will let you shoot three images in a row using something called bracketing. Bracketing is kind of like shooting HDR in that you get a bright photo, a medium bright/dark photo, and a dark photo that can all be combined to give you all of the highlights and lowlights of a single image. Between bracketing and Photoshop, I haven't yet been successful at getting an image to work out, but I will one day.

In the mean time, I recommend going out for a walk with your significant other (or by yourself) to just see what you can see. Stop and smell the flowers. I specifically recommend going at sunset when the lighting is the prettiest and it's not quite as hot.

As promised, as soon as I get my photos together I will share a pizza making tutorial! Yay!! (You know you are excited!) Also coming soon, I'll probably be talking more about budgeting (Justin just got his paycheck), a new online Korean style clothing shop I stumbled across, and hopefully some more awesome pictures from my trip to the mountains this past weekend.

I hope you all are having a fantastic week!

How to Style A Free People Embellished Tulle Slip As A Dress

Over Memorial Day weekend, Justin let me purchase a dress/slip from ebay that I'd been wanting since I first found out it had sold out on the Free People website.

Anyway, at first it was a no-go. The seller was selling it for more than Free People had it priced at, and Justin said that, while he could understand that price for a beautiful Anthropologie dress, a Free People slip that could not be worn very often was probably a bad choice for the money. Instead, he suggested I barter. I offered the seller half of her price not thinking she would take it.

To my surprise the seller accepted! I was excited to be getting the dress/slip I wanted, and Justin was glad that we weren't going to be paying Anthropologie prices for a slip.

When it arrived at my doorstep, the first thing I did was find ways to wear it as a dress. If the model can do it, so can I!

I paired the dress with a white petticoat with a long black boho skirt over the petticoat and under the dress. (All I have is a white petticoat right now, but this dress clearly calls for a black petticoat.) The petticoat gave the skirt definition and made it a bit more flared.

Next, I put on a silver belt right where the top of the dress meets the bottom. (Justin didn't like the way the slip was put together with ruffles right there.)

Then came a navy blue shrug. (I can't wear a dress without something over my arms!)

Finally, I ended with some black heeled sandals. (I haven't really thought about jewelry yet!) This could definitely be an awesome dress for a date night, going to a wedding, or even Christmas pictures!

When all put together, it very much reminds me of the Anthropologie Summer Souffle Dress which I love so much!

So what do you think? Can you picture the Free People Embellished Tulle Slip as a dress yet? Have you ever altered an outfit so you can wear it in more than one way?


Over the weekend Justin and I went to the mountains where I had the opportunity to photograph birds, family, food, and, of course, mountains.

Despite my best efforts, my morning has been filled with editing on a slow computer, and I have found myself out of time for an amazing post. Unfortunately, unless I get lucky, it will probably be a no-go for tomorrow too. I will do my best though. I promise. :)

In the mean time, go check out the awesome deal on Amazon today where you can get SD memory for 60% off!