People That You Miss

This is going to sound absolutely awful, but I cannot think of anyone that I miss right now. That is not always the case though. There are definitely some days when I am particularly lonely. Then there are days like today when I feel like I'm really busy and I am just ready for some peace and quiet. Do you know what I'm talking about?

I did have quite a long post mentioning every single person I could think of that I might have ever missed, but I have since decided it is best to just wish you all a Happy Halloween!

I will announce the winner of the $5 Amazon giveaway tomorrow! Yay!

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit 
Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)
***The above pumpkin is not MY pumpkin. It is my picture though.

30 Things That Make Me Happy

I have no idea who the source is for the above quote, but I am reminded of it every day. No matter how little I feel I've gotten accomplished in the morning or how bad of a mood I am in, the kids I watch (specifically the spunky red head) always put me in a better mood. They are excited to be out of school, excited to get a treat, and excited to have a babysitter as awesome as me. (Well…most of the time anyway!)

The Daily October post for today (or rather, yesterday) was to think about what happiness means to you. Happiness can clearly be defined in a dictionary, so we are going to jump on ahead to my list of 30 things that make me happy. It is just a start and I'm sure if I sat here long enough I could come up with 100! …But I'm not sure anyone would want to read that many!
1. a warm sweater on a cold day
2. ice cream!
3. cuddling up on a sofa while watching a movie
4. popcorn and root beer floats while watching a movie (Justin came up with that one!)
5. sitting out on a front porch swing late at night talking
6. jazz music and swing dancing
7. the waltz is pretty awesome too
8. the smell of freshly baked cookies
9. a new outfit
10. compliments on a new outfit
11. finding a good deal on a purchase I was already planning for
12. finding a surprise deal I can't pass up
13. jumping on a pile of leaves on an autumn day
14. sharing popsicle time with a 3 year old
15. sleeping in on a rainy day
16. finishing a good book
17. not having to go anywhere on a rainy day
18. hearing my favorite song on the radio
19. getting an email/phone call from an old friend
20. getting something in the mail I've been waiting for
21. finding a surprise in the mailbox that I wasn't expecting
22. eating a delicious meal
23. a bonfire outside with friends
24. spending time with family
25. pretty flowers
26. a child's laughter
27. laughter, in general
28. a hug from someone I love
29. snow! (when I don't have to go anywhere!)
30. listening to the rain
What makes you happy? Do you agree with anything on my list?

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit 
Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

What I Typically Wear

As Justin and I prepare for our trip overseas for what we expect to be 60/70 degree weather, I'm attempting to build my wardrobe. I like the idea of wearing things that are comfortable and make me feel cute. Sometimes I can find that feeling more dressed up and sometimes…more casual fits the bill. Luckily for me, Georgia weather is perfect right now for building my wardrobe for that 60/70 degree ideal. (Actually, it's been a bit colder this year for some odd reason.) Nevertheless, one of the October Daily challenges is to show you a typical outfit.

camisole: Aeropastle (old)
Leggings: Forever 21 black (old)
Boots: Skechers knee-high (old)
styling a side braid thanks to my favorite hair dresser!

(Also looks great with skinny jeans!)

As you can see, I bought the navy version of the Trapeze zip sweatshirt (even though I will most likely get it in wine as well). It's cute, comfortable, and most of all WARM. I get so many compliments when I am wearing it, but no one can really decide if it is a top, a dress, or a jacket. Least of all: me! Do I recommend you go out and purchase this outfit? Wholeheartedly!

On another note, look at how much my hair has grown from August (red) to October (blue)!!

And if you were interested in the Like A Virgin Dress from Free People, it's now on sale! Yay! :)

I just received a box full of goodies for another giveaway that will be coming soon! If you haven't already, today is the last day to enter my giveaway for a $5 Amazon giftcard! Go enter now!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic Tuesday! :)

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit 
Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

My Hometown – Dacula

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There are so many cute towns in Georgia, and I have lived, gone to school, and explored A BUNCH of them. I never get tired of exploring. So when it came time to document my hometown, I had a difficult time deciding which part of my life experience was "my hometown". Was it where I was born? Where I grew up? Where I went to college? I decided to go with the locale that has a particularly small special place in my heart as I remember what it was, rather than what it is currently – Dacula. (Pronounced duh-KYOO-luh not like Dracula.)

Over the weekend, I meant to get pictures, but…we found ourselves in Marietta instead visiting with the in-laws. That means no pictures. :(

So let me describe Dacula to you. It is this tiny little town (what you see above) that resides along side railroad tracks. If you continue walking to the left down this road, there is the high school, which has grown to enormous proportions since I was a child, and to the right is a little (now bigger) gazebo.

And that is how I want to remember my hometown.

Y'see as I grew older, so did Dacula. The population kept growing and growing and growing… The city now revolves around one VERY LARGE church known as Hebron. If you live in Dacula, you go to that church. There are other churches in the area, but Hebron is THE church. (Bad news for me since I disliked it!) Beyond that, the area has added a girnormous Kroger (to go with the ginormous high school I presume). There are also cute little restaurants in the area and a gigantic bowling alley, a park and a library. The post office even seemed to grow with the population!! Beautiful land with trees as far as the eye can see have been chopped down to make room for the growing population. Where fields once were, there are now subdivisions and lots of them!

While I understand that population growth is not necessarily a bad thing for a small town, I do miss having things the way they were. I tend to prefer trees, farms, and land to buildings, businesses, and restaurants especially when population growth makes it more difficult to see stars at night. :( I like to remember my hometown as being a small little place rather than the large expanded one it currently is.

How do you feel about population growth in rural areas? Did the population in your hometown grow with you? Do you feel the same sense of "home" when you revisit your hometown years later?

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit 
Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Relationships & Handling Belief-System Clashes

Justin and I have been together for a very, very long time, but when we first started dating our belief systems really clashed. There were many tear filled nights when I was absolutely certain that our relationship simply would not work due to our conflicting beliefs. What we had to decide was how important those beliefs were to us as individuals. Could we deal with the fact that sometimes our significant other would disagree with us?

Of course, that state of mind spilled over into other areas of our lives as well. All of a sudden, it wasn't just a question of which dress I liked the best, but it was a question of…

1. How much did I like it? How much did he hate it?
2. Was it worth it's cost? In my opinion? In his?
3. Could we afford it? How much would it affect our finances?
4. Could I buy it, take it home, try it for a week, and return it if I changed my mind?
5. If I decided to hold off on purchasing for a day or two, did I still want it when I returned to the store? Did he?

And so every decision thereafter has been made in a similar matter (though the questions may be slightly altered to fit the decision we are trying to make).

We use this system with finances, feelings on religion, whether or not we could or should go on vacation, how we should spend our weekend, and more. Sometimes the answers to our questions results in a change of mind, and sometimes they don't. Justin and I frequently choose to "pick our battles", decide who cares the most and go with that person's decision. We have found that, in marriage, our decisions not only affect us as individuals but also us as a couple, so it is very important to include both of our insights into the decision making process. Our questions allow us to really consider our options and the other person's opinion before jumping in full force with a decision we might regret later.

I think in essence, we have found through problem-solving in such a way that we trust one another's opinions more and find ourselves happier with the outcome of these thought-through decisions moreso than if we had just gone with our gut and not talked about the decision prior to making it.

Now that you know how we respond when approached with problems, I'd love to know how you conquer belief-system clashes with others? Is there a time you can think of when our approach would not work?

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit 
Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Hanging With A Celebrity

First of all, if I had the opportunity to hang out with a celebrity for a day, the likeliness of me actually doing it is probably nil. I'm shy and have a hard time coming up with things to say to my friends let alone people who are actually known for something. Furthermore, I'm not really a tv show/movie watching fanatic. I watch things occasionally, but…not really.

So if we assume I have to pick a celebrity, I would choose either Audrey Hepburn or Zooey Deschanel.

Audrey Hepburn was a fashionista who worked for the good of others dedicating much of the end of her life to helping out at UNICEF. She grew up during World War 2 suffering from anemia, asthma, and malnutrition making it difficult for her to live out her dreams of becoming a prima ballerina. Instead, she studied modeling which eventually led to a strong acting career with lead roles in movies such as Sabrina, Roman Holiday, and, one of my favorites, Breakfast At Tiffany's. A wife and mother of two, Audrey Hepburn, unfortunately, died in 1993 suffering from colon cancer at the young age of 63. Her legacy lives on through her children's fund making a difference in the lives of children around the world.

Zooey Deschanel is an awesome young actress, singer, and songwriter with a flair for vintage attire. She traveled the world as a young child going wherever her father had work. After graduating a private high school in Los Angeles, Deschanel attended college for approximately 9 months before dropping out to follow her dreams of acting. She sings and performs in the group She & Him, as well as in many movies and television shows. Currently, she is appearing as the main actress in The New Girl, a comedy on the Fox television network. She is known for her crazy thrift store vintage outfits and cute attitude.

I think both of these actresses would have stories to tell. And oh the shopping! Vintage and feminine, I know these women would only influence my wardrobe for the better!

Which celebrity would you hang out with for the day? Are you a fan of either of these beautiful actresses?

P.S. If you want to dress like Jess from New Girl, check out this site.

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit 
Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Look Up!

On Monday night I went to a talk with Lindsay Adler for the Atlanta Celebrates Photography festival at Creative Circus. During her talk she mentioned how she took her portfolio to a magazine editor while she was in London and came out crying. The editor told her that her work was "not memorable" and that he would forget her the second she walked out the door. He told her that nothing was technically wrong with her work, but that there was nothing that piqued his interest. He wondered why she would even come to a meeting like that with him if she had nothing truly amazing to show him.

Sometimes hearing that we are not exceptional or amazing is exactly what we need in order to grow and improve. The key thing to remember is to not give up. (i.e. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.)

One of the most difficult things I've struggled with in photography is getting my color right. You've heard me say over and over again how every little detail makes a difference… Editing in a room with different lighting, placing an image over a blue background (like on this blog) and even viewing on a computer screen versus viewing a print.

I have tried sooo many things! I have calibrated; I have used a variety of different printers; I have learned to use Photoshop actions; I have played with my cameras color functions in camera. Currently, I am learning to adjust color in Kelvin as well as using the histogram and practicing shooting completely in manual. If I had given up or if I were to give up right now, I wouldn't have learned (or be learning) as much as I have about color.

If Lindsay Adler had not taken that guy's advice she would not be a spokesperson for Sigma lenses, and the teaching she does on Creative Live wouldn't exist.

I don't know if my readers follow or understand "camera talk" but let me just say… "If you cannot find a way out, look up!" Be positive! When things seem to be at their worst, try, try again! Don't believe the people that tell you that you cannot and won't ever be successful. You can do ANYTHING you set your mind up to do.

(And yes, I am one of those millennials who was taught that I am special a'la unicorns barfing rainbows style. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!)

What do you think? Are you a special unicorn barfing rainbow millennial like me who believes anything is possible if you put your mind to it? Have you ever outdone yourself in a surprising and exciting way? Share with me! I want to read some inspirational stories! :)

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Disney Classics Review & $5 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway

We're coming up on the 90th Anniversary of Disney music, and Disney is celebrating by releasing a brand new 4-cd box set featuring a number of the most cherished Disney movie, television and theme park classics.

While I can't speak on the quality of this newest release not having heard it myself, as a child I collected the Classic Disney Volume series. It was a fantastic series and one I would highly recommend if you can't get your hands on this newest box set. It was always (and continues to be) fun listening to songs that remind you of your favorite moments from the beloved children's movies and especially the Disney park rides! No song gets me quite as happy as "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah", and I simply cannot imagine Disney without "When You Wish Upon A Star". Disney music is what dreams are made of and this cd collection is just one way to celebrate that.

In honor of the Disney cd release on November 12, I am offering a giveaway of one $5 Amazon gift card that you can use toward this cd or anything else your heart desires! There are a number of ways to enter, so hopefully that gives you a good chance at winning! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This post and spreading the word enters me into a giveaway with One2One Network; however the $5 Amazon giveaway is not sponsored or endorsed by them and is for the benefit of my readers. The giveaway winner will be announced and emailed within one week of the giveaway ending.
**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Hugs, Love, & Cold Weather

Today's update:

- Used points to take advantage of IHG's 75% off reward stays in booking a hotel in Asheville, NC!! (In other words, 2 free nights at a hotel in the mountains during the fall season with points to spare!)

- Completed a freelance work assignment that I wasn't even sure how to do! :)

- Then got a headache and was unable to post for today. :(

I'll try for tonight if I'm not editing photos of hot air balloons I shot this weekend. :)

Sending lots of love and cold weather cuddles to my friends and readers.

IHG Points + Gold Status!

After reading this post I decided to check and see how many points I earned during my stay at an IHG branded hotel over the weekend.

And now I have enough for a free night somewhere! Woohoo!!

A Day In My Life Pt. 2

If you will recall, Justin and I drove up to Chattanooga on Saturday October 12 to explore the city and take part in the River Rocks festivities. I decided to document the trip in pictures and words after being challenged by October Daily. If you'd like to go back and check out what we did our first day in Chattanooga, you can check out my first "A Day In My Life" post here.


As much as I would have liked to have shot the sunrise, after having gone to bed at 2AM the night before, I knew that a sunrise shoot just wasn't in the cards for the days activities. Luckily, we woke up fairly early and thus were able to get started on the day earlier than I had originally anticipated.


One of my absolute favorite things about staying in nice hotels is the hot buffet style breakfast they serve. Without even having to leave the building or destroy the kitchenette, Justin and I were able to have a satisfactory breakfast that filled us up until it was time for dinner.

The Staybridge Suites buffet included hot biscuits with gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, make-it-yourself waffles, 3 cold cereal choices, and a large variety of breakfast drinks.

Justin and I, as is typical for us, split two plates worth of goodies. We shared a waffle with whipped cream and strawberries on top, some scrambled eggs, a few turkey sausage links, a biscuit with gravy, some grapes, and Justin also ate some cottage cheese. We also had orange juice, fat free milk, coffee, and hot chocolate.


At some point on Saturday, as I was out shooting feeling confident that I had plenty of memory cards and 3 camera batteries available for my use, Justin remarked that instead of bringing all 3 of my batteries up to Chattanooga he had put one in the charger and left both the spare battery and charger at home. Obviously since my goal in returning to Chattanooga was to shoot as much as I could, even with my newfound knowledge I kept shooting just as frequently as before hoping my batteries would last as long as I did.

I bet you can guess what happened…

They didn't.

My first battery died around 5PM or so on Saturday and it was merely a waiting game to find out how long the second one would last. (It died around 1PM.)

So one of the first goals of the day, after seeing my battery get down to half, was to make a Target run for a camera battery charger. We wanted to make sure that we would have time to plug the battery and charger into the hotel outlet prior to Sunday's planned outings. The earlier we could find a charger, the better. Luckily/surprisingly, we found one! Yay!! Even better, it was a car charger! :) Clearly it was meant to be!


In preparation for check out, Justin and I made sure to clear our hotel room out of all of our stuff. We took showers, changed, ate an orange, fought the cleaning lady for our room, and finally checked out around noon.


The whole reason for our initial visit to Chattanooga a few weeks back was to visit Cloudland Canyon State Park, so obviously we had to go!

I have to say that the park was absolutely stunning. The view was spectacular. No regrets in going whatsoever…except…

Can you see those?…

Those are stairs. A half mile of stairs on Hemlock Trail, to be precise, leading down to the bottom of the canyon where a waterfall awaited us – 1900 feet down. It was a LONG way.

As if the stairs weren't bad enough by themselves, I had fallen the day before when shooting out near the river in Chattanooga. The ground looked solid, but when I went to step, my right leg fell into a hole. I thought I was fine, but the large number of stairs on this outing proved me wrong. Going down wasn't too terrible, but, for me, coming up was excruciating. On the way down, the leg I had fallen on the day before got shaky. When we got down to the bottom of the canyon, I rested for approximately 30 minutes (or at least it felt like it!) and I massaged the leg trying to get it to quit shaking for the trip back up. Nothing worked. On the way back up, nearly every step made my leg feel like it would give way. I held onto the stair railing for dear life knowing that if I fell and got hurt worse getting help and getting to the top of the canyon would be nearly impossible. It definitely took me much longer to climb up the steps than it did to go down them.

Once I reached solid flat ground, you have absolutely no idea how thrilled I was. Of course then it was like nothing had ever happened, and I was off taking pictures again. Poor Justin. I almost feel invincible when I'm taking pictures, and he just has to put up with it. :)


At this point Justin and I had not eaten in almost eight hours, so we were just a bit hungry. The closest restaurant Justin could find on his phone was Tremont Tavern. We ended up going there for dinner. It was a cute, small, local pub with fresh food and good service.

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Justin and I ordered a burger with everything including cheddar cheese and a side of fries. The burger came out to us split on two separate plates (aww!). It was definitely good; one of the best burgers I've had in a long time. While the scenery wasn't ideal (think: pub), I definitely would recommend it for the food. :)

Then it was time to head home…



Following our delicious dinner at Tremont's where we said very little and played on our phones rather than talk to each other because we were so tired, Justin and I went on a scenic view of Missionary Ridge. I was in search of a beautiful spot to take sunset pictures, and Google claimed this was it. Unfortunately with the national parks closed, the drive ended up just being a scenic view of Chattanooga, but ohmygoodness was it an amazing view! I don't have any pictures, but it was definitely worth the drive! Wow! :)


After driving through Missionary Ridge and discovering all of the national parks closed (GRR!), Justin and I decided to drive up Lookout Mountain in the hopes of spotting a perfect sunset view. We found ourselves up at another national park near Craven's House, which was also closed. :( Luckily, the view wasn't! It was far from perfect, especially since the view did not include the sun directly overhead, but looking out onto the city of Chattanooga was truly amazing. Justin and I stayed put until well after the sun had gone down.


Right before going home, I begged Justin to take me to Rembrandt's for one last vanilla steamer. :) Justin got a cup of hot tea and we were off to Atlanta!


We didn't arrive in Atlanta until 10:30PM that night, but we were soooo happy when we did! After such a busy weekend, we were ready to sleep in our own bed and perhaps recover just a bit from all of the walking, climbing, and falling (just me) that had occurred.

While we had a lot of fun on this trip, I think it may take a while before I can convince Justin to go on another weekend trip again. :-/ I think I wore him out with all of the places I wanted to go, things I wanted to see, and pictures I wanted to take. I don't regret it though!

I hope my post(s) helped give you ideas of things to see and do in Chattanooga if you ever go. And if you've been to Chattanooga before, do you have any recommendations for things I may have missed? I'm always looking for new things to see and do, and I'd happily drive the 2 hours again just to find a new place to photograph or do something new and exciting! :)


I feel like I share my goals frequently, but, as this is today's October Daily challenge, I find myself sharing yet again. Here are ten of my life goals in no particular order.


1. Learning as much German as possible before traveling there this spring.

If all I can do is understand a bit of vocabulary here and there, I will be content. I don't think a language overhaul is possible at this point.

2. Along those same lines, learn a bit of Italian when I get bored practicing German.

Italian is my preferred language, but I have less experience with it (read: none) AND I'm not going to an Italian wedding anytime in the near future (that I know of).

3. Gain better control of finances.

Resulting in a strong budget,  an emergency fund with credit card debt paid off, and the money to purchase a house, a new car, and Justin a computer.

4. Travel.

With plans to go to Germany this spring, this goal is already underway. Nevertheless, it would be nice to learn how to travel without it costing too much. Thank goodness for the travel hacking class on CreativeLive yesterday!

5. Learn to ballroom dance (and be good at it!).

Currently using it as an excuse to "exercise". It counts, right? ;)

6. Get better at photography and photoshop.

Also being used as an excuse to exercise AND travel. Double-dipping on this one! :)

7. Become a better writer.

That's what this blog is for, right?

Other Things (I'm not currently working on):

8. Learn to play the piano.

I've had classes before, but I never get very far because I HATE practicing. Plus the whole 2 hands and then adding feet into the mix – say what?

9. Go snow skiing.

It looks like so much fun!

10. Learn to bowl.

It's Learn to Bowl month. Might as well join the crowd. Maybe someday I won't need the bumpers. ;)

What life goals do you have? Do you have any in common with me?

** This post was prompted by The Daily October.Challenge. 
Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)


Image courtesy of Untapped Cities

I have always loved rain.

According to my mother, the morning I was born it was pouring outside. That bit of knowledge always made me feel special. Like obviously God had something big in store for my life.

This past summer I got to experience the Rain Room in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art. It was everything you'd expect it to be – mostly magical. Even Justin's parents, who were a bit skeptical, became entranced by the beauty of the Rain Room. We stood in there for at least an hour just taking it all in.

I'm not sure why rain is so enchanting, mesmerizing, and magical.

I especially tend to think of Sarah Polley from the 1988 television series Ramona in red boots and a yellow rain jacket doing cartwheels in the rain as indicative of the magic, beauty, and excitement that rain can bring.

Nevertheless, as you get older that happiness tends to revert to more indoor activities. While I may have considered playing in the rain as a child (and wasn't allowed), now I tend to avoid the actual act of getting wet altogether and instead enjoy the rain from afar (or at least under a roof).

Cuddling under a blanket on a big comfy couch and watching a movie or reading a book with a hot drink in hand, I can listen to the rain feeling safe, secure, calm, and comfortable. It's almost like nothing bad can happen to you. Of course on pleasant days, it's always nice to take that same book outside to a front porch swing and read there instead. And how could I forget waking up slow and making banana pancakes a la Jack Johnson style?

I realize that a lot of people associate rainy days with "bad days", but I am definitely not one of them (usually). I really can't imagine a more perfect way to spend a day off than to experience the calmness that rain brings.

Rainy days are truly my favorite…

** This post was prompted by The Daily October.Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Thursday Link Up

When I'm not busy writing blog posts, editing photos, and doing all of the other random things I do, I often find myself reading blogs. I use the lovely Digg reader to keep up with over 100 blogs and websites, and today I thought I would share three of the ones I visit most often.

You should not find it surprising in the least that I would visit Roxy's blog Effortless Anthropologie at least once a week. I've actually started preferring Free People clothing to Anthropologie, but I still like to check in and make sure I'm not missing any deals. (Isn't it suppose to be the other way around? You like bohemian Free People before moving on to the more business-like Anthropologie? Hmmm…) Anyway, if you are looking to find what's on sale this week at Anthropologie, get fantastic reviews about particular clothing items, or even find out about local events Anthropologie hosts, Roxy's blog is the site for you! Thanks to Effortless Anthropologie I discovered that the store offered amazing clothes I coveted at prices I could afford. Yay for getting nice clothes at decent prices!! :)

This past May I joined the Travel Hacking Cartel to try and find good deals on travel since I was planning for a few vacations and wanted to get the most for my money. Unfortunately it didn't work out quite the way I wanted or expected it to, and I cancelled after two weeks. :( Luckily, Boarding Area has been doing quite well at keep me up to date on last minute travel news, recommendations, so on and so forth. I can read about the best planes for travel, the best times to travel, which airlines are having sales (and which sales are worth it), how to collect points for hotel stays, and much, much more! If you are interested in travel, I definitely recommend checking this site out.

The more I get into editing with photoshop, the more tutorials I seek. The funny thing is that the better you get at using Photoshop, the more bad tutorials you discover for using photoshop. Honestly, it really makes me sick. If you are trying to get into photography, the combination of bad tutorials, old material, and really bad photographers out there make it more difficult than ever to improve your work. For the most part, Digital Camera World provides good tutorials that benefit photographers of all stages providing both photoshop and in-the-field tips and advice. Aside from Creative Live, it has become my go-to when trying to learn something new.

What are some websites you frequently visit? Do you have any suggestions for me? Did you know about the sites I mentioned?

** This post was prompted by The Daily October.Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Current Favorites & Life Update

Given that today's October Daily challenge was to share some favorite music*, I decided to go ahead and share a few other favorites including what I have been up to the past few weeks. Maybe you'll find something new and exciting to try!


1. Butternut Squash Ravioli is the bomb. Just saying.

Wild horses couldn't keep me away from this delicious treat! It's dinner, but it's dessert…Confusing, yes? But oh the taste! Served up with some French green beans, roasted tomatoes, and a bit of balsamic vinegar and I am in heaven!

We found ours at both Trader Joe's and a local restaurant supply store, but you can also make it if you are up for the challenge!

2. Italian Butter -- Delitia Burro di Parma. It is delicious.

Imported from Italy, supposedly this butter has an additional "cheesy" taste to it (or so say others). In my opinion the flavor is creamier and "milkier" than other butters. While not necessarily appropriate for baking, I am loving this as served on a beautiful, fresh French baguette. (How could you not?!)

I'm not sure where to find it outside of Georgia (Alon's), but here's a link to the Amazon page.

3. Babka.

I've been getting my delicious cinnamon-flavored babka from Alon's bakery, but I'm sure there are many ways to make it. I just have to convince Justin to help. (I am not a baker!) This treat is so delicious and could easily pass for dessert even with the savory yeasty flavor that is traditional for this amazing bread. It comes in both chocolate and cinnamon flavor and apparently the majority of the bread that is found in the US actually comes from one particular company in NYC. You can bet I will be seeking that baker out next time I'm in New York.


1. P!nk & Nate Ruess - "Just Give Me A Reason"

From the piano to the amazing duet that P!nk and Nate Ruess make, I couldn't imagine a better song. Plus, I am totally in love with her in that dress…and the big teddy bear! (Although this one is a bit creepy with glowing eyes!) Who doesn't love big teddy bears? :) Yes, P!nk you actually made a song I will willingly listen to. You should totally get a prize for that. :)

2. The Shins - "Simple Song"

This song has been out forever, but I never get tired of it. In fact, I'll just go ahead and mention that Justin has been a fan of the Shins for far longer than I have. The turning point was probably this song. All of a sudden I just can't say no. Plus that music video! Too funny! Go dad! :)

3. Parachute - "Blame It On Me"

I can't say that I'm a huge fan of Parachute, the band, but once I heard this song on Pandora I couldn't quit listening. Sometimes I get into a rut and listen to the same thing over and over again until I am absolutely sick of it. I'm not saying I'll like it tomorrow or the next day or the day after, but I like it today and that is enough.

4. Sara Bareilles - "Brave"

Go Sara! Every bit of this song is awesome from the encouraging, powerful lyrics to the dancing filmed in the streets. Kudos to her. Totally feeling empowered. :)

5. Honorable Mentions:

David Lenz - "Song for Monet"
Shins - "Fall of 82"

What I'm Up To:

1. Culling photos and then editing them using Lab mode in photoshop. (Above shot was edited in RGB prior to learning about Lab mode.)

2. Watching Creative Live with Jack Davis (working in ACR) and David Cross (30 Days of PS).

3. Planning a follow-up trip to Chattanooga to either see some fall foliage or go to one of their fall festivals and take LOTS of pictures.

4. Practicing German on DuoLingo. Especially when I can't sleep. I had quit earlier this year when I started having problems with my phone, but the problems have since gone away. (Hint to Iphone 4s users: If your sound quits working, try cleaning out the headphone jack and where you plug it in to charge.) Being prompted by some German from a friend encouraged me to get back to it. I had forgotten A LOT in only a few months time! Backtracking here I come!

5. Just registered myself and the hubby to go see (hear?) Lindsay Adler speak! (Have I mentioned how grateful I am for a husband that fully supports my goals?)

So, talk to me! Tell me about your favorites and what you've been up to! :) And when you are done, check out The October Daily and find other new songs to listen to!

* It was actually to share some music to elevate your mood, but whatever. Current favorites work just as well. :)

Photoshop Tip of the Day: Dan Margulis

If you are dabbling a bit in Photoshop and trying to figure out color, a supposed master I have only recently discovered is Dan Margulis. He focuses on using Lab color (instead of RGB), and his editing style includes editing color separate from contrast.

I'm still learning, but here is a picture edited today in which I used his style.

The style is much brighter and more vibrant than anything I've ever done before.

Here is what I started with: 

Which do you prefer?

** This post was prompted by The Daily October.Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Back in the Days of Film

Over the weekend, I came across a few concepts that made me think:

1. Photographers should toss 24/25 photos they shoot. Only then can they achieve a consistently good/getting better portfolio.

2. You are only as good as your worst image.

3. Women, in particular, dislike having their picture taken.

As I was attempting to cull nearly a decade of my worst images off of Facebook, it occurred to me that the majority of the images I was deleting were of myself. Granted I didn't have a lot of photos of myself up to begin with, but along with tossing the images that I could now do better I was also tossing a lot of images of me.

So I decided I would follow up with another blogger's challenge of posting images of myself.*

All of the shots on this post were taken with a 35mm soon after I decided to start taking photography at the local college a million and a half years ago. It was the beginning of summer in Georgia, so we were outside early and shot through most of the day. As the day progressed though, it started to get hot. By the end of it, instead of feeling pretty in a dress, I felt ugly, sticky, sweaty, and in desperate need of a shower.

When looking back at these images, I don't necessarily remember the "ugly"; instead I remember how much fun I had and how loved I felt. 

Am I alone? Do you frequently find yourself trashing and criticizing images of yourself? Are there any images you have that may not necessarily be technically good, but that you find value in anyway?

*Can't remember which blog it was! Sorry!
** Images on this post were culled out of approximately 10 or so rolls of film (250-ish images).
*** Over the course of 9 years of "selfies", these are only a select few that remain.
**** This post was prompted by a number of different sources one of which was The Daily October.Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Advice for Bloggers

Today's challenge was to tell you what my first few months of blogging were like, but honestly I can't remember. I started in 2001/2002 not of my own accord but because a friend was blogging. Then there were a few years of me •trying• to make my own website and blog (but never really being happy with the results) and a bit of Livejournal. My web blog was open to all of my friends, but only my online friends could see my Livejournal. (Am I showing my age here? :-P) I started this blog to document my wedding planning and keep friends and family informed of what was going on. Since my wedding has already passed…now I simply document my life with reviews, giveaways, and challenges in between.

Even though I can't tell you what blogging was like for me in the beginning, let me offer a bit of advice to new bloggers:

1. Be consistent.
There are so many things that could mean, and you will have to decide for yourself and your readers what the best option is for you. You could blog about the same topic(s) day after day…or maybe that just means blogging EVERY DAY for you. It's generally a good idea to have a blog post up by a specific time on the days you post, but I definitely don't do that. (I try!) Some bloggers have daily themes (i.e. Wedding Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, etc…). Whatever you do, find a way to be consistent about it. 
2. Post original content including images!
First rule of blogging: Don't steal others' content! It's not fair, not nice, and NOT COOL. Bloggers work really hard at providing new and interesting content for you, the readers. The least you can do is credit your sources. 
Second rule of blogging: Images make blog posts more exciting. Once again though, it's always best to credit your sources if you don't use your own images. 
3. Sign up with companies to provide reviews and offer giveaways.
All of the ones I'm signed up for I found on Go visit the forum and you will also find awesome money-saving offers as well! 
4. Ask questions.
Whether you want advice from your readers or maybe you just want them to be involved in your blog, asking questions is a great way to spark conversations and make new friends! 
5. Don't post EVERYTHING on the internet.
If you don't want your mom to read it…or your boss, teacher, or best friend, don't put it out there! Guess what? The internet is a public forum! (Hard to believe, I know!) Typically if you post something you don't want someone to read, they have this weird way of gravitating toward it meaning you will, at some point, have to explain your actions (or words). Not fun. 
6. Love what you do AND have fun.
If you aren't blogging out of enjoyment, your readers will be able to tell. Furthermore, you will get bored of blogging pretty quickly. On the other hand, if you think you might be interested in blogging, give it a trial run! What is there to lose?

While I can't give you a play-by-play of what it was like for me during my first few months of blogging, I hope my list offers a bit of help if you are just starting your blog. There are definitely a few things I wish I had known before starting my blog! If you are new to blogging or have been blogging a while, let me know if I missed anything!

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

The Fall: A High School Memory

Come February of my senior year, my best friend (at the time) and Justin were suppose to come over and hang out. I didn't know Justin very well except through AIM and looking back, I realize it was probably a set up since two minutes before my best friend was suppose to arrive, she called saying she wouldn't be able to make it. Somehow I had to find a way to entertain this guy.

After he arrived, we eventually found ourselves driving off to a wooded setting near our high school and his church. I've grown up spending a lot of time exploring the woods on my grandfather's property, so I already knew I loved it. Justin just happened to know where we could explore.

We explored for a few hours before stumbling upon a fence with a bit of barb wire on it. Granted it was not enough to prevent us from climbing, so what did we do? Climb it! Duh! Well…sort of. Unfortunately, I wasn't exactly dressed for fence climbing. I was wearing heeled boots, because I don't actually own a pair of sneakers or anything at all appropriate for hiking. The boots weren't necessarily the problem though. As I climbed the fence, my jeans snagged on the barb wire. When I went to jump off the fence, my leg didn't come with me. Justin only saw it as a fall, and I didn't admit to him that it had been anything more.

The next day I didn't go to school. Instead, I went to the doctor. As it turns out, when I fell, I had sprained my ankle and I would need to be on crutches for the next month. My best friend would not let Justin hear the end of it. "You caused her to fall, sprain her ankle, and you couldn't even offer to carry her?!" She jokingly decided it was because he was too weak to carry me. I'm not sure he appreciated that, but it definitely offered hours of entertainment for us.

Sometime later, I would find myself dating Justin despite how badly our "first date" had gone. Perhaps "I fell for him" that day. :)

Oh and don't worry! Justin had his chance to become my knight in shining armor the next year when I became dehydrated at a concert and passed out. The paramedic even said he must be my Sir Lancelot. I think he was ok with that. ;)

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

Until the Stars Fall From the Sky: A Lyrics Challenge

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Justin was moving into his own room at his fraternity house and I was helping like the awesome girlfriend I was. The walls had been painted black by the previous tenant, and clearly that just wasn't going to work, so we found ourselves inside on a beautiful autumn day as Justin worked to paint the room a burnt orange color. (Why orange? I have no idea. His favorite color is green. #mindblown)

Anyway, Justin and I (as we usually do) were disagreeing on music. He liked…I don't know…weird music, and I liked everything else. :) (Seriously, it's really hard to find music I don't like.) I had given up fighting (which is rare for me), and we ended up listening to The Arctic Monkey's.  Honestly it's been so long since I've heard anything by them that I couldn't tell you if the music has since grown on me. (It probably has.) Nevertheless, my ears were going numb from the so-called noise I was being forced to listen to as a black room was slowly changing into orange.

Then! A song came on that didn't make me want to plug my ears. It was a song that was cute, playful, fun and very much oldies. I was in love. Immediately I had to stop and ask "Who is that? What song is that?"

Baby I'm yours
And I'll be yours until the stars fall from the sky
Yours until the rivers all run dry
In other words, until I die 
Baby I'm yours
And I'll be yours until the sun no longer shines
Yours until the poets run out of rhyme
In other words, until the end of time 
I'm gonna stay right here, by your side
Do my best to keep you satisfied
Nothin' in this world could drive me away
'Cause everyday you'll hear me say 
Baby I'm yours
And I'll be yours until two and two is three
Yours until the mountains crumble to the sea
In other words, until eternity. 

The song, "Baby I'm Yours" by the Arctic Monkeys quickly became "our song". He liked that I liked a song he had on his playlist, and I liked that he had a song as cute as that on his playlist. (Okay, so I'm pretty sure the song originated in 1965 or so long before the Arctic Monkeys were even born, but still!)

Years later Justin still finds the most random times to catch me by surprise with this song. For example, last year he had set his phone up to work with itunes on his laptop, and as he was leaving the driveway all of a sudden this song starts playing over the speakers. It took me a good 30 seconds to realize why a song had just all of a sudden come on the radio, because sometimes I am that slow. :)

Mostly this song just reminds me quite a bit of our time out and about at night while we were dating (and even now!). There is something so romantic about going to the lake at night and sitting on the dock, or looking up at the stars, or sitting on the front porch together. You just never want it to end. :)

What does this song make you think of? Have you ever heard it before?

**This post is part of The Daily October Challenge. Visit Secret Obsession's blog to find out more and join in! :)

October Challenges & Why I Blog

Apparently I like blog challenges enough to keep it up! This month I will be following along with Secret Obsession doing:

Secret Obsession   

Unlike the last challenge, The October Daily provides a challenge for every day in October. While I love you all, I will be taking a break on the weekends. (How else do you come up with things to write about unless you actually get out and do something?!) I would, however, love for other bloggers to join in the challenge with me! If you leave a link in the comments section, I would love to come check out your The October Daily Challenge!

I will also simultaneously be following along with Dave Cross as he does 30 Days of Photoshop on Creative Live. I missed the first two days, so I'm not entirely sure what the plan is, but I'm hoping to gain new skills with daily watching (which will hopefully result in more pictures?!).

a floating "hotel" in Chattanooga, TN (yes. you read correctly!)

With all of that having been said, let's get started on the first challenge!
Share at least five reasons why you blog.
1. To communicate.

Whether I'm talking with immediate friends or online friends, I like to share about positive (and negative) experiences and services. I like to offer advice and get advice. It's also nice to know that you are aren't alone in the world. Blogging is a great way to meet people and learn from them.

2. To document.

I have a lot of goals I'm working on and blogging allows me to document my progress. I can look back a year ago and see how far I've come in budgeting, or photo editing… The best part is that my blog followers get to learn from my mistakes!

Plus, there is something about being consistent. You can't get anywhere in life unless you are consistent. Practice makes perfect, yes?

3. To learn.

There is something about putting your voice out there that encourages you to ask yourself: is this my best? Is this true, positive, encouraging, or helpful? Would I be interested in reading or looking at this?

I can't promise that I will always write something that is interesting or beneficial, but knowing that my words and pictures are out there is enough to make me second guess and look over my work again before posting.

4. Along with #3, to challenge myself.

Some days it is really hard to write. Even when you are completing blogging challenges ala Blogtember or The October Daily. It takes time to think of responses.

I also like to give you all a new image I took and edited myself for each of my blog posts. I don't like posting things I'm not proud of, so it takes me a good hour + to edit the image to happiness AND to come up with a (what I consider to be) a strong post. There are definitely some days when I don't think I will ever get everything done in time! 

5. Because you read.

If I didn't have readers, I don't think I would blog. Yes, sometimes I blog for my own benefit, but if I can't offer advice or communicate with someone in some way no matter how small, I really don't need to be putting my voice out on a public forum.

Now that you've heard all of the reasons why I blog, I would love to hear why you blog (or don't blog as the case may be)! Be sure to link up on The October Daily or comment below! :) And as always, have a fantastic Tuesday!