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Friday, September 30, 2011

ponderous

Has anyone out there ever had a pity party?

Me too.

And you feel so stupid afterward when you realize just how lucky you are.

I have whined and complained about all kinds of things. My first month of blogging has not shot me to instant stardom. I still haven't vacuumed the floor. And that darn cavernous belly button haunts me as I try (unsuccessfully as of yet) to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans.

But you know what? I'm alive. I'm breathing. I have a wonderful family. I have a house and it is not made of cardboard. I know what fresh food tastes like. I have two legs.

Heck, I have it GOOOOOD.

A great body, a clean house, fame, fortune ... these are all things you can't take it with you when you die. You're not going to get to heaven and hear God say, "Well, you led a good life but you didn't get enough followers on your blog." Or "You left dirty dishes in the sink ... for a WEEK." Or "You didn't (fill in the blank)."

Some things just don't matter in the context of eternity. And some things do. I've got to remember what's really important.

I think maybe I've been reading too much Ecclesiastes ...

Caiti


And for all my fabulous fellow bloggers:

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Pursuit of Pretty Pictures ~ Lesson Quattro

Lesson four of Shimelle's Camera School talks about aperture. Aperture equals blurriness. It's kind of like how your eyes work - when you look at something close to you, everything else goes out of focus. When you focus on something far away, things that are close up get blurry. Try it. But not too much. Because you will get a massive headache. I may or may not be speaking from experience.

Sadly, I don't have an SLR camera, so this one is kinda impossible for me to do manually. My Samsung PL100 (and accompanying black spot ... if it were a pirate it would be doomed) does not allow me to manually set the aperture of a photo. BUT, I have discovered that by using two different settings in my camera, the "Close-up" and the "Landscape", I can tweak the focus point of a shot. This is a sort of hack for those of us who don't want or can't afford a $600 camera. Yeesh.

My camera has a box or brackets that indicate the focus point of a shot. Yours may or may not have this, too.




Images shot in "Close-up" mode are indicated by a tulip icon on your camera that looks something like this   >>>


Images shot in "Landscape" mode have an icon similar to this one >>>


Sooo, here's examples of the two modes on my camera with (mostly) the same shot.




See how the focal point changes? This one way to get a blur going on. You would usually get by changing the aperture settings on an SLR.

Try switching between these modes on your camera and see what happens!

You can also manually create a blur with Picnik. I applied the "Focal Soften" effect to this:

this one's got a little Vignette going on, too
Whether natural or filtered, aperture is a great way to give your photos depth.

Thsoften!

Caiti

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Taking pride in our homes ... whaaa?

You know something? Taking pride in my home seems like a foreign concept. The idea that I wouldn't be terrified of unexpected company is just plain weird. Who doesn't rush to pick up socks, throw dirty dishes in the oven (oh, yes I did), and swipe down the toilet seat as fast as possible while yelling, "JUST A MINUTE! OR SEVEN!"?

I mean, they're called chores for a reason, right? You do them because you have to ... and because you don't want fifteen thousand dog hairs magically migrating to your quesadilla. Take it from me: hairy quesadillas = not appetizing.

According to the Word, this is not the way we're supposed to approach housework.

soooo not there yet

Proverbs 31:10 and 15-18 (MSG)

A good woman is hard to find and worth far more than diamonds ...

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.

She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.

Whaaaa?


I don't know about you, but that passage of scripture makes me feel like a loser. What if I don't manage to drag myself out of bed until 10:30? What if I stay in my pajamas all.day.long? And what if I just don't want to clean the house?

What is the gist of Proverbs 31, anyway? Basically, what it says is that it is our job to care for our homes. And we should want to do it. And be good at it.

Did your feminist side just flinch?

Somewhere amid the bra-tossing (the burning thing was a myth propagated by the media), we lost the concept of taking pride in our homes. Women were afraid retaining any June Cleaver-esque traits would destroy their hope for equality. Now, I am by no means condoning a machismo society. I do not believe women should have to be submissive doormats. Just ask my husband.

I do think we "threw the baby out with the bath water", however. In striving to gain independence, we shunned all things female. We forgot to celebrate the true amazing-ness of women because we were trying to be like men.

True freedom comes when women realize they are perfectly equipped to care for their family, not from wearing (or not wearing) a bra. Let's face it, though, if you've had a kid, you should probably wear a bra. Nipples are not supposed to point toward China.

Women are amazing. We are the only creatures on earth who can nurse a baby, wash the dishes, call the Internet people AGAIN, make dinner, and vacuum ALL AT THE SAME TIME. And really, what man can GROW HUMAN BEINGS? Whether you are a SAHM, a full-time mom, a work-at-home mom, or something else, you are divinely equipped for this job.

I will be the first to admit I swing wildly from one extreme to the other when it comes to housework. One week my house will look like I got bit by a rabid Martha Stewart and the next week it will seem like a tornado (AKA Husband) went through and dirtied every.single.fork.we.own. Some days I think, "I should NOT have to clean month-old tuna out of my refrigerator!" Other days, you will find me scrubbing the bathroom baseboards with my husband's old toothbrush.

I know it is my job to keep this house in order (ugh, that's hard to choke down). And I know that I am completely able and equipped to do it and do it well. But at the moment, my home is a source of guilt, not pride.

For two years, I haven't been able to get with a schedule I can maintain. I need to find some sort of balance if I'm ever going to have the home of a Proverbs 31 woman.

Soooo, I've signed up for this thing called FlyLady. All I'm doing right now are the Baby Steps (baby steps, Bob, baby steps). I'm hoping this will help me tap into that Proverbs 31 grace.

TGFB = Thank God for bras!

Caiti

For more information about the Proverbs 31 woman, check out my mom's book HERE. She draws some fantastic parallels between Proverbs 31 and the bride of Christ.

I was not paid or perked for this blog post. Just wanted to talk about something that might help my fellow mommies out!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

R is for Rewind

Did you ever wish life had a pause button? A fast forward? Rewind? Or simply a STOP?

satellite dishes ... pimped. soo-weet.
We just got a DVR last week. We were living in the dark ages, people! How did we ever survive? It is so fascinating to pause live TV. Especially whilst watching survival shows on Animal Planet. Those guys make some high-larious faces when they are eating maggots.

It is PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER (which Disney movie? Anyone? Anyone?). As I get used to having it, I find myself wishing I could DVR life, too, setting things aside until later. Pressing STOP. Rewinding those moments that are extra sweet. And, of course, fast-forwarding the times when I wish I could melt into the floor (like when I am caught scratching the bug bite on my rear in public. Oh yes, I did.).

I think this melancholy state has to do with my new status as a mother. I blinked and all of a sudden my child is almost five months old. How did this happen? Before I know it, he will be one. Then five. Then fifteen!

Before I know it, it will all be over.

What a scary thought.

The bottom line is, there is no way to DVR life. And that is a good thing. It makes us thankful for what we have. It makes us take things seriously. There's no yesterday, there's no tomorrow. There is only the moment you're in right now. How are you going to spend it?

Wake up tomorrow and watch a sunrise. Do something you've been putting off. Live.
Savor the thought of a life full of promise : )

Caiti

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Pursuit of Pretty Pictures ~ Lesson Tres


Lesson three of camera school is about fixing photos. Shimelle has some great examples of her photo fixes here.

I can't afford Photoshop cuz I have to buy diapers (and food. Hoover Dam). However, I have found a GREAT free photo editing program called GIMP. You can download it here.

Picnik is another fantastic resource for photo editing. There are some amazing preset effects. I love the Vignette and Lomo. Create a FREE account here.

Okay, now for the pictures. I used this as an opportunity to do a mini photo shoot with munchkin and his still-too big Converse. But they are SO CUTE. I couldn't help myself.

Shimelle recommends three fixes for photos that are thisclose to being amazing.

1. Crop and desaturate (i.e. turn it black and white). I used Picnik.

Le original:

And le fix:

Which one do you like better? I think the black and white helps a lot since the colors are kinda clashy. And my Converse are extremely dirty ...

2. Auto Color Correct in Picnik

Le original:

And le fix:

This was subtle change, but I like the fixed photo better.

3. Add a vintage wash with Picnik. I used a cross-process effect.

Le original:

And le fix:

I LOVE it.

Ah, the power of editing! Turning almost awesome photos into awesome photos at the push of a button!

Caiti
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Pursuit of Pretty Pictures ~ Lesson Dos


Lesson two of camera school is about ISO. Oh no, a scary acronym ...

Shimelle does a great job breaking down ISO without going all technical. Basically, ISO is how much light your camera lets in when it takes a photo. It is also known as "exposure". No, not that kind of exposure.

It's the other kind, the kind that has to do with light. Or that's how I understand it, at least. Real photographer peeps are sighing heavily. But that's okay. Let me be stupid. My stupidity! You can't have it.

Anyway, there's a really basic rule to follow when you first start out:

The more light, the less ISO.

According to Shimelle, good settings to start out with are 100, 400, and 800. 100 is for sunny shots, 400 is for semi-sunny shots, and 800 is for un-sunny shots (try saying that 10 times fast).

As you get more experience, you may find that you like different settings as there are no set ISO standards from camera brand to camera brand.

Here's my experiments. I took pictures of my Boston Terrier Bean in a semi-sunny location. They are SOOC (straight out of camera) except for adding text.





See the difference? 100 ISO is too dark. 800 ISO is way overexposed. But 400 ISO is just right, which makes sense because this was taken in a semi-sunny place (AKA my bed).

Now if I can just remember to set the ISO correctly when I'm taking pics! Remember, if all else fails, use photo editing software (which is camera school lesson 3, actually). It corrects a multitude of newbie photographer sins.

original - too dark




with Picnik auto-correct ... much better
I am learning as I go along that photography is mostly a matter of experimenting. Which means taking about 50,000 photos. But that's okay!

I learned something new! Woo!

Caiti

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ode to the Mustache

Mustaches are a pop culture phenomenon these days. From mugs to pencils to finger tattoos, the mustache dominates as a symbol of trendy eclecticism (and manly awesomeness, of course). Did you know there is even an American Mustache Institute? There's your weird, random fact for the day. Now let's get down to bid-ness.

During one of my wackier moments, I decided I needed a mustache to amplify my all-around bad-antsness. No, not a real one. Were you picturing me rubbing Rogaine on my upper lip 50 times a day? Thought so.

There's a better way to create some sweet fake face fuzz ... crochet! I searched the WWW untold hours for a free pattern, but couldn't find one I liked. Instead, I made one up!

This mustache is not too big, not too small. It works for big people and little people alike. And it is, in my humble opinion, purty awesome. Almost as awesome as Pedro's, but not quite : )

Here's the pattern:

I used a size G crochet hook and worked the back loops only to get my 'stash to lay flat.

Chain 6
sl st in second chain from hook
sc in next chain
hdc in next chain
2 dc in next chain
hdc, sl st in final chain

Now you have half a mustache! Go you! You follow the exact same steps one more time:

Chain 6 more
sl st in second chain from hook
sc in next chain
hdc in next chain
2 dc in next chain
hdc, sl st in final chain

Fasten off and weave in ends and you get ... THIS:







This is my first crochet pattern. If you find a mistake, please let me know!

Pedro offers you his protection : )

Caiti

Need instant gratification? Need 100 of these? Get them on the {walker whimsy} etsy shop! Click here!

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Monday, September 19, 2011

The Pursuit of Pretty Pictures ~ Lesson Uno

(shimelle.com)

Shimelle's first Camera School lesson talked about letting go of photography fear. She addresses many different types of fear - technical fear, creative fear, confidence fear, accuracy fear, in-the-picture fear, and can't-put-your-finger-on-it fear. To this list I would like to add anatidaephobia and chaetophobia. Can you guess what those are?

(anatidaephobia - fear you are being watched by a duck ... see it? bahahahahahaha)
chaetophobia - fear of body hair
In other words, Pierce Brosnan: A Chaetophobiac's Worst Nightmare
Now that sounds like a fantastic TV show. Almost as good as Jersey Shore.

Weren't expecting that, were ya?

Anyhoo, here's a few of my pictures that karate chop my personal photography fears right in the noggin. 

Face punch!

technical fear: landscape shots

creativity fear: interesting angles

confidence fear: taking pictures of ugly things

accuracy fear: auto-focus

in-the-picture fear: yeah ... maybe its cuz the pics I take usually look like I got mauled by a bear.


can't-put-your-finger-on-it fear: not being able to get that perfect shot, no matter how hard you try

All these pictures are straight out of camera (SOOC) except for watermarking, which is another fear of mine. Not editing?!? Pictures of myself especially, cuz sometimes it kinda looks like I have a butt chin a la Mr. Shue of Glee.
Look at that CHIN!
I did it. Now you do it! Face your fear! Face (pun!) punch it in the ... FACE! Woo.

Get clickety wit' it, my peeps.

Caiti
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Hair Bling {Naptime Ingenuity}

About a week ago, the purple hair finally had to go. I used a color remover and not one, but TWO bleach kits. I STILL have pinkish spots in random places. And my hair is falling out from all the chemicals. Boo.

Bottom line - unless you want to have purple hair for the rest of your life, DO NOT DYE YOUR ENTIRE HEAD HELIOTROPE. You may end up having to shave your noggin a la Natalie Portman. Unfortunately, I don't think I could rock that look. So I'm embracing the polka-dotted pinkness for now.

In honor of my newest hair color, I DIYed some hair lovelies. They are perfect for arranging my hair to hide those darned pink spots ...


And .... it was FREE. Me and free stuff just go together, ya know? Like peanut butter and jelly. Or President Bush and weird awkward sentences ..."families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dreams." What the ... ?

You know what else was meant to be? Girls and glitter. There's something about that sparkly-ness that is simply mesmerizing. Which is why men give us diamond rings. And why Edward Cullen looks like this:

ohhhhh, sparkly ...
❤ glitter. So I decided I would use my favorite sparkly nail lacquer and some old bobby pins to make a bit of hair bling.


All you need is:
~ glittery nail polish
~ old bobby pins
~ an index card

The process is extremely easy. So easy a caveman Edward Cullen could do it.
1. Slide your bobby pins onto the index card so you don't get glitter everywhere. Glitter, while extremely awesome, does not look that great when it's haphazardly stuck to the butt of your favorite jeans.

2. Apply 2 or 3 thin, even layers of nail polish to the tops of the bobby pins. Let dry. Otherwise you will have glittery bobby pins stuck in your hair for eternity. Like I said, glitter is extremely awesome, but ... yeah.
You could mod podge it if you want, but my glitter stayed just fine.

So easy! And FREE!!! Woo!


Go forth and glitter!

Caiti

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Weekly Accountability Update

Welp, I lost no weight this week. Zip, zero, nada, zilch.

I know exactly what happened.

Twinkies happened.

Specifically, six Twinkies.

One right after another.

Ewwww. 

I know. 

But they were so good and I haven't had a Twinkie forever.

This is the kind of thinking that made me gain 20 pounds in the first place.

I'd better cut it out ...

I used to let things like this compound into REALLY BIG MISTAKES. But I've learned my lesson. As they (whoever they are) say, "An error doesn't become a mistake unless you refuse to correct it." In other words, drop the ice cream and back away from the fridge. Just because I ate six Twinkies doesn't mean I need to eat ice cream, cheese, crackers, popcorn, marshmallows, and chocolate like the very hungry caterpillar. Unfortunately,  people don't turn into beautiful butterflies when they stuff their faces with food ... pretty much the opposite happens, actually.

Luckily, today is a new opportunity to do it RIGHT. Today is a new (Twinkie-less) day and for that I am thankful!















Caiti
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Paint Chip Eiffel Tower {Naptime Ingenuity}

For those of you who live under a rock, paint chip art is the straight dope these days. There are SO many projects out there and they are all awsomazing. Just search for "paint chips" on Pinterest and you'll see what I mean.

Paint chips ... wow!

I decided to join the fray with an idea I've had forevah. It's not nearly as cool as a gigantic Marilyn Monroe. But it's pretty cool. Are you ready for it?

Wait for it ...

WAIT FOR IT ...

I made ... a Paint Chip Eiffel Tower. A mostly to-scale Paint Chip Eiffel Tower.

If the shoe fits ...
What do you mean? Of course I have never been accused of overhyping ... gosh. Or being a complete and total nerd. Okay, maybe I have been accused of that one.

Did I mention the best part? If you have an old 11x14 picture frame, this project is FREE. FREEEEEEE. You all know how much I love free stuff.

Here's whatcha need:
Paint chips
A picture frame (preferably 11x14)
A pencil (I used a pen because I'm cool like that ... or maybe it was because all my pencils were broken and my sharpener has gone incognito)
Scissors
Scotch tape
A ruler
Rockin' math skills (if you want to draw your Eiffel Tower to scale ... which you do. You know you do. I can hear your inner nerd screaming at me through the computer screen.)

Actually, you don't really need rockin' math skills because I already did all the work for you! Yay! To make a tower that fits an 11x14 frame, use the dimensions in the diagram below.

Here's whatcha do:

Imagine a hallway this color. Yeesh.
1. Hopefully, you have some paint chips already on hand to use for this project. If not, you're gonna have to steal some. Of course, it's not technically stealing if they're free. Try telling that to the lady covertly stuffing 15 paint chips in her purse at the hardware store ... oh wait, that was me.

Who knows? Maybe if I look at the color "Clownfish" in a pretty Eiffel Tower picture every day, one of my multiple personalities will have a crazy urge to go out and buy a whole gallon of that color. And use it to paint a downstairs hallway. So it looks like the inside of a macaroni noodle. The cheesiest macaroni noodle ever.

Oh wait, that was me, too. Long story. Bottom line - NEVER PAINT YOUR HALLWAY THE COLOR OF A FISH. And bright, bright, BRIGHT orange is pretty much the hardest color to cover up. Ever. Besides dark purple. Don't worry, I learned my lesson. The house we're in now is white, white, white.

Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, not actually technically stealing paint chips ...

2. Gather your materials. First, lay out your paint chips however you like. I used a gradient effect because I thought it would look cool going up the Tower. The sky's the limit, though. Do whatever you want!



3. Tape your paint chips together in the formation you're going to use. Don't be afraid to slap lots o' dat tape on de back of dem dere chips. It is a very important ingredient in this whole process.

4. Make your stencil. You can use the measurements in the diagram below or freehand it depending on whether or not you are a Type-A personality. I am, in case you haven't noticed. Maybe we should start a support group or something.
I just used a ruler to mark out all the measurements with dots and then connected them. Easy peasy.

(source)
5. Lay your stencil out on your paint chip grid. Trace it. Remove it. Whew.



6. Get your scissors and cut out your shape. Take lots of pictures of aforementioned scissors while saying dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, DUN, DUN, DUN, DUH a la Jaws while husband is watching TV. Make angry face at husband when he tells you to SHUT UP.

dunh, dunh, dunh, dunh, dunh, dunh, dunh, dunh, DUNH, DUNH, DUNH, DUNH, DUNH, DUNH, DUNH, DUNH ...
yeah, that's a little annoying ...
7. Stick your ole' cut out shape in your frame. Use tape to reinforce where necessary.

8. Stand back and admire the brilliance shining from your new ah-mazing piece of art. Now all you have to do is find somewhere to put it.





I originally picked this color scheme to go with my awesome bedroom quilt, a gift from my MIL. However, I moved the artwork to the kitchen while taking photos and I love it there, too. Decisions, decisions.

Maybe I will just have to make another one ... if I can bring myself to not actually technically steal more paint chips. I'm thinking maybe an Empire State Building would be fun. To scale, of course.

Have fun with dem dere paint chips!

Caiti

Check out these great linky parties:


The Shabby Nest











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