Sunday, February 3, 2013
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Once again, I'm a little behind with this post since it's now New Year's Day. But you know what? I did some Christmas decorating this year... for the first time ever. And I took photos, so I'm going to blog it, by golly. Gosh darn it. Gee willikers. Ok, I'll stop. Here are the photos:
- Grapevine wreath from Target
- Antlers - my sister found them in a field in North Dakota, and I spray painted them white
- Topiary - Walmart
- Hurricane and pine cones - Michael's
- Pine clippings - our tree in the front yard
- Cable knit stockings - Target
- Christmas tree - Target, and I wrote a story about it several years ago
Monday, December 3, 2012
The majority of my readers are also fellow bloggers. Hence I have to share this recent discovery. This would make a great gift for any blogger or avid social media user, and I wish I had purchased one sooner.
It's the Eye-Fi wireless SD card:
Why is it so great?
It's useful and convenient. You load it in your camera in place of a normal SD card, then take your pics. The photos will automatically be sent to your computer, tablet, or phone (you determine where it goes when you set it up). You can then do your editing, if you want to, and upload to your blog or social media profiles. It's so quick and so easy. If you do a lot of blogging, this saves a lot of time. I am all about being more efficient.
For me, it feels luxurious to not have to bother with card readers or transfer cables. My most-used camera at the moment is my Sony RX100, which has an old school leather case (see pic below). Any time I need to remove my card, I need to unscrew the leather case. It's an annoying step if I just need to get 1-2 photos off the card.
Note - you can also have it auto send to Facebook or other social media options. I don't use this feature because you can't choose which photos post to Facebook. It would automatically post everything, and I didn't like that.
I also dig the way the Eye-Fi keeps me organized. After the files automatically transfer to my computer, they are saved in a new folder named with the current date. I love that.
In case you were wondering, it's very easy to set it up. If you're not tech savvy, don't worry about it. The directions are fool proof. Insert the included USB drive and follow the prompts. You will be up and running in no time. I love to critique user experience design, and I found the entire experience quick, straight-forward, and enjoyable.
But this product is not perfect. Here are a few points to consider before you buy one:
- The cards themselves are pricey. A four-gb card is around $35, which is around 6-7 times the cost of a regular 4 gb card. The theory is that you won't need to spend as much as many cards since you are already backing up the photos as you take them (so you can delete as you go). I'm not quite trusting enough to rely on that method. I had a $30 Best Buy gift card, so I only spent a few bucks on mine. Even so, I love it enough that I would buy one at full price just to continue living with these convenience.
- These cards work well for taking a few shots (or even a few dozen) for your blog, but I wouldn't recommend trying it on a professional photo shoot. Though it hasn't happened to me, I read that a few people had their cards freeze up, and this resulted in lost images. A Best Buy rep told me this is rare and that it usually happens when people are shooting longer video (the card can't keep up with the recording and wi-fi transferring). I have not had any problems, but I am not ready to risk it on an actual paid or important photo shoot. Yet.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
A while back, I wrote a review of Easy Print Canvases. You may recall that my print didn't quite turn out the way I had planned:
I didn't share the link to my review with the company, since it wasn't the most positive assessment. So I was surprised when I received a call from the company, stating that they had seen my review and were very regretful that the print hadn't came out right. The woman I spoke with said they had some (presumably temporary) production issues with the "mirror side" option, and she said they'd like to make things right by trying again. They asked if I would accept a re-print of my canvas. Of course!
This time, we opted to go with a solid color on the side.
And this time, the print came out perfectly:
Now we just need to decide where to hang it. For now, it lives on the book shelf in the dining room.
I was impressed with how Easy Print Canvas's customer service handled this situation. They never asked me to remove my initial, negative review or seemed upset that I had been honest in my assessment. But they did seem sincere in wanting to understand what went wrong (so they can prevent it from happening with future orders) and then rectify the situation. What more could you ask? I'm satisfied with how they handled things.
I'll be the first to go on record saying that customer service nowadays is often more disappointing than helpful. So I found the service from this company impressive, and I feel they have redeemed themselves in my book.
I've been meaning to write an update on this situation for some time, and I regret that I didn't get around to it until now. Better late than never? Actually this is probably a good time to share since this company has some of the best prices on canvas prints that I've seen (plus they have sales and discount codes if you sign up for emails), and canvas prints make a great gift if you are looking for ideas this holiday season. Also I am a fan of creating your own wall art, and printing a photo on canvas is an easy way to make striking and personalized artwork. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
I've got some house and decor related posts planned for the next couple days/weeks. I'm also going to be making some design changes to the blog. It's feeling a little stale. In the meantime, let's just enjoy fall while it's here. In Minnesota, we don't have long before bitter winter creeps in.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Now that there's snow on the ground in Minnesota, I am completely aware of how outdated this post will be. I decided to share it anyway. It's better late than never?
Let's talk about home ownership. I have ideas. Many ideas.
Ideas often require money and time. Lots of time. Sometimes lots of money. And sweat! These things are not quite in abundance around these parts (well, except for the sweat part). And as I wrote previously, we struggle with how much money we’re willing to put into a home nestled in an area of depreciating properties and foreclosures.
This is the plight of the home blogger.
We have resigned to the fact that we are stuck in our current home for at least several more years. Maybe indefinitely? When we bought in 2008, we intended for the Chateau to be a starter home. I think a lot of people plan a similar path. But the housing market has not rebounded in Minneapolis, and no one is really sure how long it’s going to take for things to get better. And that’s ok. Truth be told, I love this house and am happy to live here. I shouldn't stay that we are stuck here. We’re privileged to have this home and live here. I think it has plenty of livable space despite its modest footprint. We are not extravagant people, and I love that our home reflects this.
But Rob and I are both committed to making our home environment a peaceful and enjoyable sanctuary. We spend a great deal of our time here, and so I feel justified in making some changes that will provide immediate enjoyment (or convenience or function - all good things). We may not receive a measurable return on investment for every project we complete, but that doesn't mean it’s not worth doing. Surely, we can work to strike a balance between our desired improvements, a realistic budget, and the housing market situation. Right?
That flowery intro is a lead-in to our latest project(s). We’re finally tackling the landscaping problem.
The landscaping problem. Where do I begin? For starters, the front yard was lacking that HGTV buzz word, curb appeal. Here are some before pics:
Note the overgrown bushes and lack of symmetry. Pretty ugly.
If money were no object and time was unlimited, we’d make big changes. Wrap-around porch! New sidewalk! Outdoor hot tub! Screened three season porch! Lush sod to cushion our feet! Obviously right now, none of those things will be happening.
But we can still make it look somewhat pretty.
Step one: Fix the overgrown bush issue in the front yard. One day last summer while I was at work, Rob spent the better part of a day clearing out the existing bushes and trees. It was a lot of hard work, and we have the broken shovel to prove it.
But Rob’s hard work paid off. I think it looks a lot more clean and streamlined now.
Next, we decided to make a rock-filled border along the steps. This required cutting out the grass around the steps.
We decided to make the rock border curve outward on the right side to go around the pine tree in the front yard. The pine tree prevents grass from growing in that area anyway. Next, we put down some yard edging.
And finally, we pinned down some yard fabric to prevent weeds from growing through the future rock border.
Our neighbor offered up some free hostas plants. Hostas are great because they look nice (leafy and green but never stringy or straggly), are hardy, and come back each year. Perfect.
I would also like to add some tulip bulbs. My sister and I both love tulips, probably because they grew abundantly at our grandma’s house and were a consistent spring staple of our youth.
Rob also trimmed up our giant pine tree. Its straggly lower branches nearly touched the ground, hiding the house and making the yard look smaller and more closed off.
When it was all done, we created a lot of yard waste:
Here's the truck (later in the year), filled with all of the yard debris from this project plus a few larger branches that broke during summer storms.
And here is a progress photo.
That's all for now.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Sometimes I like to take blogging breaks, but I always come back. :)
First of all, here's a delicious lunch that we made recently. I found the recipe on Pinterest.
These are spinach, feta, pesto, and avocado grilled cheese sandwiches.
This is a link to the recipe, if you are interested.
And you can follow me on Pinterest, if you'd like. I post useful resources for photographers and web designers.
What's else is new? Well, let me tell you in the convenient form of a bullet list. With photos.
- We started a landscaping project. I don't think we will finish it in time for winter, but I'll get some photos and information posted soon. I think it's going to look pretty nice.
- We got our photos taken! Yes, for the first time since high school yearbook photos, Rob and I had a professional photographer (who happens to be an awesome blogger friend too) snap some pics of our cheesy faces. I'll be adding some of those pics soon too, but here's one of my favorites:
That photo was taken at the lake near our house, so even the location has personal significance.
- Speaking of photography... my photography hobby officially crept into part time job territory. I'll be honest - I'm not working toward doing photography as a full time job. So right now, I am only doing photo shoots with good friends or family, as my schedule permits. This makes it a lot more fun and less business-like (for me). This summer, I had one baby shoot (with another one scheduled), three engagement shoots, two weddings, and took headshots for 14 people. Oh, and I even did some photos for a commercial property business! This is all in addition to my non-photography full time job, so it's been very busy. But it's also very exciting. Even more exciting is the fact that Rob has joined me as second shooter. He's getting really good too. I'll post a lot more photos from these shoots in the near future, but here's a few examples:
Here's two that I took on the most recent shoot, a week or two ago:
and then one by second shooter Rob. He is known for his non-conventional compositions, and I absolutely love what he comes up with. It's always unexpected.
See? He's good. But I also happen to think he has a good teacher. ;)
Here's a collage that I made of Rob and I shooting:
As always, you can click any photo in a blog post to see a larger view.
- In September, we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. In honor of the occasion, I booked us an extended weekend at an island resort in Wisconsin. It was gorgeous, laid back, and relaxing. Here's a few photos from that:
- Rob also planned an anniversary date. He took me horseback riding. It was great.
- A few years ago, people started giving me old cameras. Every one of these was given to me. I am getting a decent collection.
but I also still love my Canon pocket cameras. So they get their own pic too.
- Speaking of point and shoot (do you like my awkward transitions?), I took this with one recently. I was traveling for work. Feel free to guess what state I'm in at the time of this photo.
- Murphy has been working on his Elvis impression. I know he has a lot of fans in the blogosphere, so I better share this pic:
- Oh yeah, and there's this. Rob and I have been biking regularly, and he also bought a second canoe. Per usual, he got an insanely good deal on craigslist. Why do we need two canoes, you ask? Well one is a tougher material and can be used in rocky rivers, whereas the other is super lightweight and therefore fragile, more suited for lakes or for travel in deeper rivers with less rocks. If you canoe as often as we do during the warmer months, it does make a difference. Now we can go canoeing with friends too.
When we put everything on the car, it becomes the Adventure Mobile. Rob is in the process of turning it into even more of an adventure mobile, so stay tuned for that.
So that's just some of what's been happening around the Chateau. If you've read this far, I guess I will also share that it's been a tough year for me and my family. I lost two close family members in the same week back in May, and that has been hard. The situation has made me very reflective, and I've rethought a lot of things. I don't like to get very personal on this site. But it does explain, in part, my blogging absence. It's still hard, but lately there's been more good days than bad, and that's definitely progress. I saw this tulip in my neighbor's yard a few months ago, and it reminds me, in a comforting way, of one of the people I lost:
So anyway, I'm/we're back, and happy to be journaling our day-to-day lives again. I've said before that having this blog is really beneficial for us, and we enjoy it as a creative outlet as well as a personal reference. It's fun to look back, and it encourages us to look forward as well. If I've learned anything this year, it's that preserving memories and recording lives is important.
Finally... if anyone still reads this, I would really appreciate either a comment below or an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know. It means a great deal to know that people visit this site, and it really is a motivator for me.
That's all for now. Over and out.