A Mini Trip to Chattanooga TN

I feel bad that today is the last day of Blogtember and I am sharing sidewalk art from Chattanooga TN rather than an old picture, but I comfort myself in the knowledge that this small city at the border of Georgia and Tennessee was a place I visited a number of times as a child on school trips and family vacations. 

Chattaminions in Coolidge Park

Dance(?) steps on Frazier Ave.

While I can't say I am particularly familiar with this area despite how frequently I have been, Justin and I definitely got reacquainted with the city streets walking along Market Street across the John Ross Bridge up Frazier Avenue, back across the pedestrian friendly Walnut Street Bridge and back E 3rd Street (or the Tennessee Riverwalk on our second time around). We arrived in Chattanooga around 3PM and did not leave until 10PM after the sun had set and I was able to take a few nighttime shots.

It was nice being able to venture back to our old stomping ground from childhood and recount the memories of a school trip to the aquarium and playing in the river nearby. Finding new and exciting artwork and treasures along the streets including a drawing of minions and a series of dance steps leading to a kiss (as pictured above) made our Sunday just a bit more exciting than what we had anticipated. (Why are so many of the restaurants closed on Sunday?! Come on now!)

One of the more exciting things we did was to get ice cream from The Ice Cream Show. A bit expensive, you picked your flavor of ice cream or yogurt (just vanilla or chocolate) and whatever toppings you wanted on or in the ice cream. Justin and I got vanilla ice cream with cookie dough, oreo, and strawberry toppings inside a waffle cup. (I have issues with cones.)

Overall we had a delightful Sunday, and we are already planning yet another short trip up there soon. (The goal from the last trip being a visit to Cloudland Canyon State Park, which obviously didn't happen.)

Did we miss anything exciting in Chattanooga that we should do or see next time? Do you know who the artist behind the dance steps on Frazier Avenue was? Most importantly, where should one go for an awesome sunset/sunrise picture? I am dying to know! :)

Internships Can Go Wrong

Dear R------,

It's been 4 years since I last "worked" for you…four years since you last took advantage of me.

When I started interning for you, I thought I would have the opportunity to learn from your experience, but just a few weeks in, it became clear that I was wrong and clearly a bad fit for your company.

You claimed that my skill level was below yours, which I had a hard time believing, and you encouraged me to be less "safe" in my work. You said I didn't integrate feedback into my work, and that I wasn't trainable. After working with me for 13 hours, you decided that I needed to be worth the time you were losing to (or investing in?) me without even thinking about how government laws required you to pay me at least minimum wage for any work I did for you that benefitted your company.

As if all of that were not enough, you felt it was necessary to contact my other internship and confirm your findings about me were true. You then emailed us both that you were putting me on unpaid probation for 9 months following a 6 month externship in which I also wouldn't be paid.

(Unpaid probation for an internship?! I mean -- really?!? What were you thinking?! Did you actually think I would continue?)

R------, dear R------, I hate to break it to you dear, but your work wasn't that good. You may have been paid for what you did, but, frankly, your work embarrassed me. I was not above learning and trying to improve, but, if I was not integrating your feedback, it was because I had no interest in merely doing "as good" as you. I have never had any interest in just being average, and I certainly did not want to be humiliated by my own hard work. I didn't want to be just like you.

The very last e-mail you sent to me may have upset me, made me cry, stolen my confidence for a month or so, and resulted in the loss of not one but two internships that summer. Unfortunately, it was a necessary learning experience for me. I needed to find a company that would value my work and encourage me to improve. Shortly after I quit working for you, a few e-mails went out and within days I had three positions offered to me. Clearly you were wrong about something.

R------, I should have reported your company to my school and talked with the labor department. You were wrong for using me and then holding the work I had done for you over my head stating that I had cost you time and money.

Maybe your work has improved since that time (although your website doesn't look it!), and maybe I just happened to meet you at a difficult point in your life. I'd say I hope business is going well, but, considering your work, I'm really hoping people have better sense/taste than to go to you with their "vintage" images and video. Perhaps you have learned from your mistakes as I have mine?

It is truly a diamond in the rough if you manage to snag an internship or job with a company that respects you, believes in you, and is willing to actually pay you at some point. I am lucky to have found that and more…without your help.

Thanks for nothing,


** If you are currently interning with any company, be fully aware of your rights and never do anything you are uncomfortable with. If they are getting paid for your work, you should be too.

*** This blog post was written in response to today's blogtember challenge of writing a letter to someone on facebook. (Although I may have taken it in a bit of a weird direction!)


(He's cheating on his diet. Don't tell!)

Today for the blogtember challenge, I was suppose to go somewhere else and blog.

I went to lunch with my husband.

And guess what?




But since I went out…and I blogged (later) that means the challenge is completed for today, right?!?!

Right. ;)

Hope everyone is having a fantastic Thursday! :)

Screwing Up

(He's shocked that I could ever screw up!)

The Blogtember challenge today is about screwing up, and I have definitely screwed up before.

Like the time I was suppose to babysit at 8AM, and I woke up at 7:40AM, approximately 20 minutes after I should have left the house. (God must have been with me since I hit every green light, and managed to actually make it on time!)

Or what about when I made cinnamon toast and mixed up the cinnamon and paprika actually making paprika toast instead. (Yuck!)

Last week I ordered photos from Costco in glossy rather than lustre. Within two minutes of ordering I had them on the phone changing my order.

I don't really think you can live life and not screw up, so I'm not entirely sure what the point of this blog post challenge is for. Letting you know I'm human and somewhat normal? Or that I'm awkward and can't cook?

Obviously, learning from one's mistakes is clearly the path to happiness, but accepting that you will occasionally make mistakes is also important.

At least today is Wednesday. There is only one more day this week for my screw-ups to affect anyone else but myself! (I get Friday off. Yay!)

Purex UltraPacks + Oxi Review & Giveaway

Giveaway is over! Thanks to all who entered! Winners have been announced!

As part of the Blogtember challenge, I decided to not only review Purex UltraPacks + Oxi, but also to give away a coupon for you to try it as well!

When I first heard about Purex + Oxi UltraPacks, I have to admit that I was fairly intrigued. While Purex has only recently been introduced to my household, Oxi has been a brand my family has used for years. If you couldn't get a stain out with normal laundry detergent, you used Oxi. Then, to sweeten the deal even further, the prospect of having Oxi + Purex detergent in a laundry pod?! Rather than worrying about how much detergent to put into the clothes washer, I can just throw a single dose laundry detergent pod in and go! It's quick, easy, and a huge time saver! Who doesn't want (or need) more time?!

I definitely recommend Purex UltraPacks + Oxi since it fights over 101 tough stains leaving your clothes bright, white, and clean. :)

Now for the giveaway!

There are two opportunities to win:

1. Tell me one of your best-kept laundry secrets!


2. Share some of your best budgeting advice.

Please remember to include your e-mail address, so that I can contact you if you win. Giveaway will go until midnight est Wednesday October 2. US residents only please.

Good luck!! I can't wait to read your comments!

*The Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex UltraPacks plus Oxi in exchange for a product review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Finances Update

I dislike today's challenge, so instead I'm going to do a finance update! Woo!

This past month (Aug 15 - Sep 15) has really involved a learning curve as we figured out how to use credit cards to earn mileage without overstepping our budget. Unfortunately with some big unexpected yet necessary expenses last month, it would seem we did go over budget enough to make us fidget.

Don't feel too badly for us though. While we had enough money in savings to cover our over budget spending, Justin and I agreed that some of his paycheck would cover those enormous unfortunate expenses so that we could continue building our savings account up.

So here is the graph of our debt:

Definitely not where we want it, but it could be much worse.

And since you got to see our debt, here are our assets:

They also aren't exactly where we want them, but a little bit of growth is far better than no growth at all.

According to Mint, Justin and I are expecting to pay off our credit card debt by Aug '14 and have our savings account built up to where we want it by May '14. I'm not entirely sure if those will happen due to our upcoming vacation, but it's a good goal at least.

A Look Back:

If you recall, I started my budget challenge in January. As it turns out, it wasn't suppose to last this long! I was going to get us on budget and keep us on budget and that was it!

So what have I learned in 8 months?

Budgeting is hard. Especially when you get back from vacations and around birthday/holiday season or when you change your method of payment. I think I'm discovering that consistency is the easiest way to approach budgeting, but it is also one of the hardest. After all, you can't eat the same thing every day for months and months on end. You eventually need new clothes or cleaning supplies… Gas doesn't exactly stay at the same price for very long. Oh – and there is always an excuse for going over budget.

A Look Forward:

While we can't always prepare for problems or things that *pop* up, I think Justin and I are doing pretty good at budgeting comparatively.

- We've researched a lot about our upcoming trip to Germany and all of the travel expenses that will come with it. Passports have been obtained and a Goes interview date has been set. I even found this awesome list of suggestions for saving money while traveling!

- By obtaining a few credit cards to start collecting points, Justin has increased his credit score substantially making it easier for him to get credit in the long run. (It also helped him by choosing a no interest, free credit transfer card to pay down the debt he/we currently has/have.)

- Lowering a few of our monthly bills during the summer and not including Justin's raise in our budget will hopefully lead to more money in the future… right?

- With three separate savings accounts, we are able to know exactly what we are saving for and how far we are from our goal… plus maximize interest, which is generally a good thing.

To You, My Dear Readers: 

I welcome any suggestions or recommendations for saving money and lowering debt… or especially traveling overseas without a lot of money. I share what I find, but I can't possibly find everything. :)

Also, there will be a giveaway coming up soon, so keep an eye on the blog!! :)

Have a great Thursday!

Anthropologie Giveaway!

In case you are interested, I highly recommend checking out Behind the Dressing Room Door. Along with posting lots of great Anthropologie related news, they are currently hosting an Anthropologie gift card giveaway for their 3 year blogiversary! How awesome is that?!

Jane's Carousel

If you ever find yourself in New York City, make a point to visit Jane's Carousel. Handpainted horses and the beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge Park are worth it.

Most New Yorkers will tell you they have no idea what you are talking about if you try to ask for directions. Just know that it is between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. If you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, the park will be to your left; you can see it from the bridge. :)

**This blog post is part of Story of My Life's Blogtember challenge. Visit her website to find out more and participate yourself. :)


Today's Blogtember challenge is to talk about a memory you would love to relive.

While I have a million and a half memories that have been amazing, there is actually only one time in my life, while not perfect, that is something that I would simply love to do again.

Right before my senior year of college, I had been told that in order to graduate with my class as a studio art major, I would need to take summer classes to get caught up. I had decided on my major in my junior year of college setting me back a semester or so from graduating on time. The small private school I was attending did not offer summer courses that would benefit me, so I started looking elsewhere using the cross-registration process that my school (and most schools in Georgia) offer. i applied for and was accepted to UGA for the summer of 2007, and thus began the best summer of my life.

During summer school, I was signed up for sculpture, black and white photography 101, art history, and ballroom dance lessons. Every morning I would wake up before anyone else, watch a little bit of tv while eating breakfast, and head to class super early as the sun was rising. I would spend the full day in Athens going to classes and occasionally visiting the local coffee shop for an Italian soda or taking a gander through Plato's Closet when I had a bit of free time. One of the best parts of my day was often sitting under some trees outside near the library reading a good book while eating a "picnic" lunch. Occasionally I'd get to talk to friends on the phone, but that was rare since Georgia summers are hot and phones held next to your face forever tend to get hot as well.

That particular summer there were at least two projects I found truly stimulating and one class that changed my life forever.

The first was a project working on some metal roses. First of all, I never even imagined that I would get the opportunity to create something metal. Truly thrilling.

For at least a month, every day the teacher would pull out dental tools and we would begin sculpting clay and molding it. We started a few projects that way, but one particular project I did that summer mostly began as a creative exercise. I starting molding some flowers out of clay just enjoying the way it felt in my hands to ball up and smooth out. One flower became two… then three… Finally, I decided that 12 would be my number. I had Justin help me sculpt a gun. (Y'know… Guns & Roses. Why not?) The next step was to create a sand mold. We covered our projects in sand and waited for them to harden before opening the sand mold, removing our clay pieces, and filling the hole left in the sand mold with molten metal. Granted this process is not at all perfect and a good portion of my work did not survive the process, but what did survive I was able to share with friends and family over the year. I only kept 3 of my roses and wrapped them with a ribbon I wore as a child that is my favorite color.

I love looking at the flowers for their imperfections and simple beauty. I loved the process that went into making these flowers, and I am grateful for the memories that they hold.

When I wasn't working in the sculpture studio, I often found myself in the darkroom developing pictures. By no stretch of the imagination was I the first one to class every day, but I was definitely the last one to leave working an extra two or three hours a day developing pictures. Of course, this does not account for any time spent out taking pictures to develop! Every week the teacher would give us a new series of topics that we would photograph. Come Friday we would have a classroom critique and go around the room not only looking at one another's images but also providing feedback. This class helped me to shape my photography and gave me something to aim for.

I can't and won't say much about my art history class, but my ballroom class that summer took me by surprise. I was nervous about taking a class that involved so much physical contact with the opposite sex without having Justin around, but I knew I loved ballroom dancing so I was willing to give it a try. With approximately 50 students of each sex, we were guaranteed to dance with someone we didn't know at least once. Half of the students were amazing dancers and picked up on technique fast, and half were not so good. It just so happens that I got to dance with a fairly good dancer doing the waltz, and from that point on I was in love. (With the dance, not the guy!) When you let go and allow yourself to be taken into the moment, that is when dancing is truly worth the time and effort to learn.

I am finding myself particularly grateful for the moments in my life when I'm able to spend so much time and energy doing what I love to do. Those moments have done more to shape who I am than any other time in my life.


I'm a bit excited about beginning the editing process on my New York City photos, so I thought I would give it an introductory post. I'm also going to provide some commentary on what we did while in New York City for those of you that are thinking about going in the future.

Stay tuned. There will be more to come soon. :)

Hope you all are having a fantastic Friday!

In Response to the Self Portrait Challenge

You see me how you want to see me, and I'm ok with that. I don't think I need a blurb about myself or a self-portrait for that to be true. I think your time  (and mine) would be better spent watching The Breakfast Club.



**This blog post is part of Story of My Life's Blogtember challenge. Visit her website to find out more and participate yourself. :)

12 Years Later: Surviving in the Aftermath of 9/11

It seems interesting that today's Blogtember challenge would be about blogging and social media after all of the memorial services and everything that encompasses Patriots Day and 9/11.

Yesterday it was quite sobering to watch the live coverage of 9/11/01 on MSNBC. Justin said he felt it was "low class". Would all of the people that died on that terrible day really want to be remembered via old news coverage?

At the same time as the replay of the live feed was going on on MSNBC, other channels were showing the memorial service at Ground Zero. One of the first name readers I saw from the service was a little girl with whom I presumed to be her dad. She got up to the stage and bravely, in front of who knows how many people, read names that even I would find difficult to pronounce before honoring lost family with a short eulogy that I am certain another member in the family wrote for her to read.

Frankly, it's a bit difficult to believe that a 10 year old child was not alive when 9/11 took place. To many Americans, and especially to New Yorkers and those with family flying that day or visiting the Pentagon, 9/11 seems like it took place only yesterday. We still share our stories, cry, and hold our families just a little bit tighter. We know it could have been any one of us inside the buildings or on the planes that day.

How many years will it take for us to get past this tragedy and will we ever? More importantly: should we ever?

When I think of the blog posts and social media account updates from yesterday, it doesn't surprise me to see that, on a day of reckoning, we are all posting #neverforget and sharing our stories. Twelve years later, we still remember what it felt like to be under attack – to feel that we might lose all that we hold dear. Stories and reminders allow us to recognize that, despite losing our sense of security that day (at the very least), we were not alone – we are not alone.

There is something so beautiful about how this tragedy holds Americans together. We may not necessarily want to remember how our friends, family, and neighbors perished, but we also don't want to forget the humanity, love, and compassion that the tragedy brought out in us. From rescue workers that worked tirelessly for days after the tragedy, many losing their lives during the building collapses, to the individuals on the streets of New York who offered water and a place to sleep to those who could not get home, compassion was everywhere. For months and years afterward, Americans donated time and money to put New York, Washington D.C., and their country back together – to create some sense of normalcy for those individuals hit most hard by the tragedy.

While we cannot bring back our loved ones or prevent future misfortune from occurring, the stories of love and compassion, empathy and respect bring us together and unite us as Americans and as humans. Forever ingrained in our memories is not the story of evil, but rather the story of how good triumphed over evil, how something so terrible was transformed into a story of heroism, love and beauty, and how we became survivors – not victims.

That One Life Defining Moment

While today's challenge is to think of a moment when your life took a turn, I'm having a bit of a hard time thinking of one distinct moment. Here are three, and these three are only the tip of the iceberg.

1. I met Justin initially in 4th grade. I wanted nothing to do with him. (Heck! I didn't want anything to do with him in high school!) How was I to know that someday I would marry him? (It's always the ones you least expect!)

2. I took German in 9th grade instead of French, because my best friend, at the time, was also taking German. If I hadn't decided to take German, would I have ever spoken to a German guy in a chatroom with whom I'm still friends with? Maybe … Maybe not. (To make things a bit more complicated, if I hadn't taken orchestra, I wouldn't have met the friend who encouraged me to take German.)

3. In college, I was told to create a timeline of all of the things that I remembered doing as far back as I could remember and that that would tell me where my future should lie. On my timeline I had art projects, spending time with children, reading, writing, and church events. From that list, I knew what I wanted to major in.

I know this post is short and to the point, but as you can see, just based on my 3 life-changing events, every single decision I have ever made has led to every other decision I've made. I don't think my life has ever taken a turn per-se. My life just keeps going in the direction I am… :) There has been no single life-changing moment. Even the 3 I've mentioned aren't the end of the story!

Has your life ever had a major turning point? One moment that has made you who you are?

Blogtember Day 5: Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test

As part of the Blogtember challenge by Story of My Life, I was suppose to blog about my results from this quiz.

To me, the results definitely made sense.

Introversion – I am without a doubt one of the most introverted people I know. I get anxious when I am with large groups of people, and I often find myself sneaking off to the bathroom or going outside for a breath of fresh air. I am much more content in small groups of people or by myself.

Sensing – According to About.com, sensing people often take in details rather than abstract information. This is not who I am at all. If you ask me after meeting someone for the first time, what color eyes they have or what shirt they were wearing, I am very likely to shrug. A few days later, I may not even remember their name! I'm much better at knowing that x was discussed or that someone gave us directions to the Wal Mart. Don't ask me for any other information.

Thinking – I definitely "think" my way through decisions rather than "feel" my way through. I like to make my choices based on outcome: will it help me in the long run? Feelings change, so I don't like relying on them.

Judging – I am a planner. I make lists, and I schedule things in advance.
"ISTJs are both responsible and realistic. They take a logical approach to achieving goals and completing projects and are able to work at a steady pace toward accomplishing these tasks. They are able to ignore distractions in order to focus on the task at hand and are often described as dependable and trustworthy." 
"People with this personality type are usually very loyal and devoted to family and friends, but may struggle to understand their own emotions and the feelings of others. They can be quite reserved and sometimes fail to pick up on the emotional signals given by other people. However, once they are close to a person and develop an understanding of that person's feelings and needs, they will expend a great deal of effort toward supporting those needs."  
Other ISTJs:
  • George Washington, US president
  • Henry Ford, inventor
  • Johnny Carson, entertainer
and my favorite:
  • Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh
Now! Time to go watch some Winnie the Pooh! :)

Being Afraid

Honestly, being afraid is second nature to me. Of course I am afraid of silly things like being late, getting lost, and saying the wrong thing. I often hear noises when I am alone at the house that cause my ears to perk up and make me sit up just a little bit straighter. I tend to feel that, because I don't look my age (and I am female), people will take advantage of me… They will sense that I cannot protect myself, which is generally a feeling I have anyway.

When I lived with my parents, there were definitely a few times when I was alone at the house, especially while growing up, but I didn't seem to worry as much. It might have been because we lived out in the middle of nowhere (or at least it felt like nowhere) … or maybe it was because I always knew someone would be home shortly. Whatever the reason, I definitely preferred the solitude of a quiet and empty house, and I rarely felt scared or worried that the unexpected might happen.

After getting married, I moved into a townhome apartment complex with Justin. My first issue with Justin's apartment were the bugs; I love my husband, but seriously he needed help in the cleaning department. I really did not like having gone from a pristine house (that I didn't have to clean!) to a bug-ridden apartment. The last straw came when I saw a roach crawling along the bedroom floor. ICK! (And then a bit later I saw one in a kitchen drawer!) After one month of having lived in the townhome apartment with Justin (and the roaches), I knew moving was imminent.

To top it off, Justin had creepy old neighbors that would flirt with me and talk to me every time I emerged making me want to hide away more and more and more. And the noises! There were so many! It was this neighbor or that neighbor or the other neighbor! With no real windows to see out the front, you can imagine that I was on edge most of the time. Any excuse to go visit with my parents, hang out with friends, go to work, or shop when I didn't have money were abused. I did not like where we were living. (And I should mention I hate apartment complexes in general. They are all the same, and they all suck. Give me a rental house!)

So that's when we moved. Yes there were roaches to begin with and noises to get used to, but the roaches could be controlled and the noises were far fewer. I thought for once I would feel safe.

Not so much.

Just as the roaches were being tamed, and I was getting used to the new noises, Justin woke me up one morning to inform me that my car trunk was open and had been gone through. Considering I had left some cash and my ID in the car, this was not a pleasant discovery for me. (Is it ever good?) A police report was filed, a new ID was obtained, and, as fate would have it, I had the strange overwhelming sense of being violated. For the next day or so, every sound was amplified and sleep was harder to come by. I worried that whoever had gotten into my car would also try to get into the house.

And that Friday, when I received a knock on the door followed by the power going off, I feared that that was exactly what was happening. (Maybe I've watched too much Castle?!) What did I think was going to happen? Rape. Being robbed at gunpoint. Feeling defenseless. Yes, all of that was going through my mind.

I threw my laptop under my bed thinking that would somehow save it (lol) as I attempted to figure out how I would save myself. I told my mom, who I was on the phone with at the time, to call the police. They were so helpful. Do you know what they did? They said "it would be better for your daughter to call the police." SOOOO unhelpful. Y'know… just frickin' send a patrol car out to the house and be done with it! No one has time for this bs! (Yep, I definitely have watched too much Castle. lol.)

So I called the police … as I watched the "intruder" drive away. In the meantime, do you know what had happened? Absolutely nothing. The power came back on, and that was it. As I would later discover, the "intruder" was someone from the electric company who had failed to identify himself (and was driving an unmarked vehicle). Even worse, when we contacted the electric company, they denied having even been out at the house that day! *sigh*

After that crazy incident, Justin spoke with our landlord who set us up with a home alarm system. With home invasions skyrocketing in our area within the last two months, it has definitely been nice and a bit more comforting knowing that there is a device in my home that will make a very loud noise if someone even attempts to enter. And in fact, someone did attempt to enter while we were gone on vacation. While nervously waiting to hear back from the police, there was also peace of mind knowing that the alarm had worked and our possessions were probably safe because of it. The fact that the police arrived within 2 minutes made things all the better.

Is there a time, a place, and a reason to be afraid? Yes. The point is to minimize and attempt to control how often and when you are afraid. When I am worried about being late, I leave early. When I worry about getting lost, I use google maps and "drive it" using the road view function. When I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing…I probably say it anyway. Then I immediately feel bad or humiliated and hide in the corner for the rest of the day. ;) I definitely have a knack for saying or doing the wrong things without meaning to. (So if you feel the same way, don't feel alone!) And as for protecting myself and my possessions… Seriously, you just do the best you can. Take a self defense course, get an alarm system, take a buddy, and get lots of hugs. :) Everything will be ok; I promise.*

*If something bad does happen to you, please don't sue me.
**This blog post is part of Story of My Life's Blogtember challenge. Visit her website to find out more and participate yourself. :)

My Best Advice

Over the years I have been given lots of advice. Some of it has been good and some of it has been bad. (As in really, really bad.) My dad's advice has always been pretty much "on the money" though. His advice has not always been practical but it was generally a good idea if you could follow it.
With regards to saving money:
"Pay yourself first."
"Always save 50% of what you earn."
With regards to men and dating:
"If he wants to be with you, he will. You don't want to force him to be in a relationship." 
With regards to safety:
"Getting a (driving) ticket is not worth it. Wouldn't you rather do something else with that money?"
but my very favorite pieces of advice that my dad has given me are:
"I will always love you no matter what."
"You can do anything you set your mind up to do."

"Always do your best."
Those pieces of advice have definitely come back to bite him in the butt a few times.

You know how when I'm up in North Georgia at college and Justin is down at Georgia Tech without a car and everyone is planning on coming to a concert with me, and I call my dad and cry when he says he won't pick Justin up to come to said concert? Yeah, I set my mind to it, and I did my best. Even worse: I relied on the fact that my dad said he would always love me. Justin was coming no matter how hard I had to beg, plead, and persuade even if it meant my parents had to drive an hour out of the way to pick him up. (The drive they were going to be making was already 2 hours.) Believe me -- I begged. ;) (Yes, sometimes I am a terrible daughter.)

Of course, those pieces of advice have also encouraged me to improve upon myself… even when I feel like the whole world is against me. Sometimes I sit and think: am I really doing my best? When a teacher refused to give me a recommendation for grad school, I stuck to my goal, got recommendations from other teachers, and got in. I was soooo happy when I got the acceptance letter!

In fact, I love when I surprise myself. It's like a little goal in life for me. Especially when it comes to photography and photoshop. Lindsay Adler once said that photographers tend to be detail obsessed and control freaks. If there is one thing slightly amis (and there is always one thing), it has to be fixed. You can imagine how happy this makes me when everything comes together just the way I want it in the most perfect way I can imagine. I definitely can't say I've done my best if I am not happy or impressed with what I've done, can I?

But even with all of the advice that my dad has given to me over the years and how it has encouraged me to make better choices, I truly believe there is no substitute for an amazing support system. My mom, my husband, my friends, the instructors I've learned from… It's always a good idea to surround yourself with people who believe in you and know you can go far, even on the days when you don't believe in yourself. Yay for confidence!!

Now… go do that thing you are afraid to do! :) I believe in you.

**This blog post is part of Story of My Life's Blogtember challenge. Visit her website to find out more and participate yourself. :)

Want a chance at $500?

I do!

This is my way of saying please don't enter The Penny Hoarder's giveaway!

Please and thank you! :)

Blogtember Challenge

iphone image + clouds stock image

Recently I have decided that:
1) I need to spend more time getting caught up on photo editing. I have images from Charleston, Boston, and New York that I haven't touched.  
2) I want to improve my writing.
How do you do that? By reading, generally. And writing. 
3) I'd like to improve my blogging.
I challenged myself earlier this year to write something every day. I have definitely done quite well at that, but I constantly wonder if I am writing anything worthwhile.
So how am I going to accomplish those goals you may ask?

I'm not sure. In the meantime though, I think I'm going to follow along with Blogtember, a September 20-day challenge. This will, of course, go right along with my financial posts and personal challenge of being out of credit card debt with a sizeable savings account, and a trip to Germany "under my belt" by the end of 2014. (Yay for challenges! … Can you believe how fast the holiday season is approaching?! Eek!!)

So!!! Let's get started!

Today is Tuesday, September 4th; the challenge question is:
If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do? 
To be honest, I love my current life. I love the kids I watch, working for a graphic design company, editing photos, blogging, and dealing with my sometimes aggravating mostly amazing husband. What more could I ask for? Nevertheless, I think the point of this question is to think of the most amazing thing you can think of doing within a 3 month timespan while having no financial worries or lifestyle burdens to think about.

I tend to think in lists, so here you go:

1. Whatever I did, I would have to do with my husband. He's the cheese to my macaroni. ;)
2. I'd probably want to take my camera. And photoshop. Because that's what I do. Always.

So what would I do?
1. Learn one-on-one with Lindsay Adler. (Or one-on-two since Justin would be with me.) I'd probably also be happy hanging with Sue Bryce or Jack Davis. (Painting in photoshop?! Heck yeah!)
2. Have a photoshoot with Lindsay Adler, Sue Bryce, or Del Sol, because they are awesome. An overseas photoshoot would be even better. Paris, Italy, London, New York, … Disney World. Yes, I'm even willing to do it at Disney World. :) Of course a fantastic dress with gorgeous hair would be even better. Can I have a shopping spree? ;)
3. Y'know, speaking of photoshoots and one-on-one editing sessions, I would love to spend a few months exploring the world with my camera. No language barriers, no finances to worry about, first class flights everywhere… just me, my camera, and my husband. (Heck, let's give him a camera too! 5d mkIII please!) 
4. And, of course, if Justin is coming along on my around-the-world-in-3-months-excursion, let's throw in some food and allow him to cook with some of the best chefs in the world including, of course, Alton Brown. (I'm sure Justin would prefer to meet engineering people, but this is my dream trip and I like food better!)
I think after doing all of the above, my 3 months would be filled to the brim + more.

What would you do if you had 3 months to do absolutely anything with nothing holding you back?

Discovering Atlanta + Stamps Unlimited Review

Since Friday was Justin's last official "half day of work Friday", we decided to explore the city a bit. We wanted to go to places we couldn't go to during the work week, and we found ourselves in a few surprising (and exciting) places as well.

Remember my desperate search for vintage stamps for the wedding invitations? After months and months of searching (and feeling like the stamp expo in January 2012 was cutting it a bit too close to wedding time), I discovered Stamps Unlimited on Peachtree Street. If you haven't ever been there (which I imagine most people haven't), it is truly a thrilling place to go. A bit difficult to find (and very difficult to find parking for), you more or less have to get out of your car and walk to 100 Peachtree Street into an office building.

Justin and I decided to go through the owner's box of "worthless" stamps; these stamps are only worth the printed price on the stamp and thus no use to collectors. Oh my goodness did we have a lot of fun doing that! All of the stamps in the box were 30% off meaning that when we send letters using those stamps we are getting approximately a 30% discount on using USPS! Woo! Plus, all of the fun stamps make sending letters fun. (You definitely have to work your math skills though in counting the stamp values.) Even Justin enjoyed going through the stamps and finding ones specific to science ... that I will never ever want to use because they are all ugly. ;)

Plus the view from the 14th floor...

After spending approximately 2 hours in Stamps Unlimited looking through stamps, Justin and I decided to venture out and explore the city.

We started at the Omni taking in the sites (view) there...

Then we moved on to Centennial Olympic Park where we bought a King of Pops popsicle ... raspberry lime to be exact. It was delicious. :)

no picture. :(

And finally we ended up at the Westin's Sun Dial restaurant sipping fancy drinks while taking in fantastic views of the city. (It was the day before Justin's birthday, so we had an excuse!!)

yummy drink with 4 different fruits!

fantastic view

While I am sad that summer is officially over (and that the hot weather will probably stick around for another month or two), I had a lot of fun exploring the city with Justin on his last half day of work. :)