February 13, 2012

a million blown-out photos and one sick baby

This past weekend, Charlotte and I went on a whirwind weekend vacation to Ohio to visit my aunt and uncle. We were tagging along with my mom, grandma and sister, Abi, so Friday morning Ryan went to work late so he could cook Charlotte and I a farewell breakfast of biscuits and gravy (one of his many breafast specialties).

We left Friday afternoon, after spending about twenty minutes playing jenga with our baggage in the trunk. If you ever wondered if you can cram a million bags, suitcases, a pack 'n play, stroller and wheelchair in one sedan trunk IT IS in fact, possible.

On the way down we stopped to eat, which is when I noticed that Charlotte was burning up. Crazy over packer that I am (see above paragraph), I had a thermometer handy which promptly told me my baby had a temp of 105.5. ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE POINT FIVE. In addition to being an over packer, I'm also an extreme worrier.

Meds (also in my bag, another point for overzealous packing) took the fever down, but it was persistent all weekend. Not only did I feel bad that my girl was under the weather, I felt kind of bad that we don't see my aunt and uncle very often and their house was invaded by this tiny human that screamed at the top of her lungs 90% of the time she was awake.

It was fridgidly cold, but we ventured out in between crying episodes for a short walk. My aunt and uncle live in the country; they have quite a bit of picuresque acreage plus a vineyard. Abi tried to give sledding a go during the walk, but the snow just wasn't packed down enough to really get going.
I took a couple hundred pictures while we were there, but most just for the sake of messing around with camera settings. I'm trying to expose my pictures as light as possible without blowing them out. Exposing them to a lot of light gives the skin such a nice creamy look that I can't really duplicate in editing in any way, shape or form that I've found so far. And obviously, it's better to get everything right when you snap the photo anyways instead of screwing around a lot in post production.

None of the pictures in this post are edited. It takes so much time- I only do it now when I'm taking pictures for someone else or I do "posed" pictures for C. Even when I do edit, I've learned to not have such a heavy hand- to enhance the picture but not make the tweaks look unnatural.

These two photos exposed nicely...
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Two more paces towards the sunlight without adjusting my settings, and this is what I got...
Lesson learned- really pay attention to how much small changes affect lighting and adjust accordingly.

I'm bummed this is kind of blown out, it's so cute! She loves her Aunt Abi.
Finally adjusted for the brighter lighting in this one...
As you can see, Charlotte didn't really crack many smiles during our little vacay. I only got little sad faces between cries. Heartbreaking.

Just look how pathetic she looked playing with her toys. Poor kid.
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During the one(!) nap she took, I snapped some pictures of Abi in the vineyard.
I played around with a little sun flare in these shots...
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I'd like to try some more pictures with this effect. I'd like to try a lot of new things photography-wise.

Even though baby was sick, it was a nice little sojourn, if only to have a little free time to just visit and snap a few photos.

Charlotte's fever went away today (of course, now that we are home). However, it was replaced by a lovely all over body rash and a possible diagnosis of roseola. Yippee the life of a mom is never boring I tell ya.

All she will drink right now is juice.
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So thankful she's taking her sippy cup again. I'm trying to push fluids, which just so happened to coincide with the weekend she decided to start shaking her head "no" to everything, so it hasn't been an easy road.

She got a little pep in her step for a minute or two today. Enough to yank a blanket off of the sunroom couch for an impromtu nap.
She then promptly decided she needed to get her pillow pet as well for maximum comfort.
Ahhh.. that's the ticket. Head first.
This picture is crazy blown out but I kind of love it that way.
Can't wait 'til my sweet girl feels better and is back to her mischievious little self.

January 27, 2012

birthday party revision no. 692

It's almost embarrassing to admit, but I've kind of been planning Charlotte's first birthday since she was just weeks old. Okay, I may have thought about it once or twice in the hospital too. But it was fleeting.

What can I say? I love me a party.

I had started to for real plan around the holidays, excel spreadsheet and all. I always start out somewhat conservative but these things take on a life of their own. Thirty dollar custom birthday hat that will be worn once? Throw it in the (virtual) cart! Adorable party plates that I absolutely have to have, because I absolutely do not like anything else ever manufactured, but they are more expensive than some everyday dinnerware? Throw me sixty!

Well, all of this came to an abrupt halt some time last week. We're going through some major life realizations/changes around thee ol' homestead that significantly impairs this little thing called cashflow.

Party CANCELLED. Tears. Broke. No money.

I had to come to grips with the fact that even though we couldn't have a five-piece band and a live elephant, Charlotte's birthday was still going to come and we were going to celebrate it one way or another. Isn't that what you do as a parent, you always find a way?

Well, there won't be any jugglers or trapeze artists (disclaimer: we weren't planning a circus but it was going to be quite a snazzy party) BUT I eked out a tiny bit of pocket change in our budget to accomodate a small cake and punch family event. I've never completely understood the phrase your wallet is so tight it sqeaks up until lately.

Behold- my new budget plan!

I'm going to try and construct this for Charlotte's smash cake:

source: the queen of everything, Martha Stewart.

For everyone else, there will be an assortment of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with plain white buttercream frosting piled high. The cupcake liners I'm using are the second from the bottom in this picture:

They are from Shop Sweet Lulu, which I can't express how much I love. I want to buy everything on that website, twice.

We are also having pink sparkling punch served in mason jars, with these adorable things:

They are also from the lovely Shop Sweet Lulu.

Instead of making a tablecloth out of a gorgeous ($30) piece of Amy Butler fabric like I first planned, I'm going to try and paint a pink or aqua chevron stripe on a cheap plain white cloth ala this talented lady:

OK, so hers is a rug, but I figure the instructions will pretty much be the same.

Today, I received a huge 16 X 20 print that I ordered for F-R-E-E. I understand Mpix.com is the best place to print pictures quality-wise but I just can't pass up free prints from Shutterfly in my inbox. I had a blank canvas laying around, so I modgepodged the picture to it. It's a bit crooked, whoops... but otherwise turned out okay. I will use this on the console for decoration, along with a few other things I have up my sleeve.

bday poster

I will be sure to post pictures of the actual event, although my 'plan' could become slightly altered between now and then. I just hope we don't become poorer, so I don't have to figure out how to divide a single cupcake amongst all of the party guests. It could happen, but we'll roll with the punches.

January 26, 2012

holiday switcheroo

Up until yesterday, my Christmas tree was still up. Okay, not our real, live, six foot glittering tree but a decorative tree nonetheless. It's a three foot tall blue tinselly tree that I put oversized pink and gold ornaments on. I adore it. Fuzzy feelings aside, I needed to come to grips with the fact that the holidays were over an entire month ago.

I also had several apothocary jars full of glittering bulbs still out and a huge ornament wreath on my front door, but I digress.

I'm trying to get on top of things, so I thought why not start decorating for Valentines Day? Now that we have Charlotte I feel this great responsiblity to make holidays extra special, even if they were made up by Hallmark.

I had a budget of about, oh, zero dollars. Money is t-i-g-h-t so I scavanged through the house to see what I could come up with.

I have a Martha Stewart heart punch, and grabbed a billion (free!) paint samples from Menards. I punched out oh, about a billion hearts, and strung them with bright pink thread. Charlotte helped. By helped I mean she sat at the table putting her pile of paint chip hearts into a cup, dumping the cup, and repeat. And repeatedly trying to eat the paint chips (do they really taste that good)?

Anyways, she was happy as could be, so it was nice that we were sitting at the table together working on a project.

I strung a long garland above a big cabinet that houses all my dishes and glasses. DSC_0205 DSC_0200

A small garland got swagged across the mirror on the front console table, along with three random snowflakes.


I had the rest of the ornament 'flakes hanging on the chandelier above our table during the holidays and figured they were generic enough for all winter. DSC_0203

Back to that gorgeous console table. DSC_0219

Okay, it's not that great, but it was only $40 at Salvation Army. It's nice and heavy and only needed a fresh coat of paint. Don't mind the huge chip on the bottom from moving. Or the awful rosey bisque colored walls and pukey pink carpet in subsequent pictures. Many plans about both of these being changed, with some projects happening quicker than others.

This isn't specific to Valentines Day, but this frame sits on the console no matter what. If a picture frame could scream my name, it would. I love it and the people who gifted it to me :) DSC_0181

Behind it is a pair of candlesticks we found in the garage in a box of my grandma's junk stuff. I love the aged finish.


The cut glass dish in the grouping holds our keys all of the time, since the console is right by the front door. Fancy schmancy.


The other side of the table has a Goodwill frame I bought a while ago that I sprayed green. It looks neon in the picture, but looks more "spring green" in real life. I made a "Valentines Day" print in photoshop really quick with random relating words in different fonts. The gold frame is from our old dining room, but with a new picture of our bathing beauty.


Soo.. a whole gaggle of pictures and a page of gobbeldy gook about free decorating I did. This set up will probably be unchanged until about oh, the Fourth of July. DSC_0183 DSC_0175

January 20, 2012

I'm in love.

I recently decided that I needed a little more versatility with my camera and have been pondering investing in a new lens. After Ryan got done having a stroke and picked himself off the floor when I told him the cost, he composed himself and told me to go for it.

I'd read some good things about this li'l ol' lens called a 50mm f/1.8. I was getting super excited about giving it a whirl, and sprinted into the office to dial up amazon.com ASAP. I'm really good at online shopping. Lightening fast

Out of Stock.

Okaaaayy.. dialed up Best Buy.

Out of Stock.

Decided to go to the Nikon website to look for authorized dealers. I found a camera shop listed in Fenton that supposedly had the lens in stock. Now this was even more exciting- I could physically go pick the lens up instead of waiting for the UPS guy to show up a week later like he's Santa Claus.

I tried to temper my excitement though; I was sure when I called to see if they had it they'd give me some lame line like, 'well we suuuure don't have it in stock but we could order it for you!" And then jack up the price a thousand percent. And the store would be dusty. And have like three things on the shelf. And the guy would be a hundred years old and be wearing a sweater vest and bowtie.

I have no idea why these initial thoughts popped into my head.

Anywho, I called the next day during business hours and they HAD IT! Charlotte and I took a trip down and bought our new little friend. The shop was super nice, the people working there were very friendly, knowledgeable and unsweatervested slash unbowtied. They looked like they have a good variety of all kinds of things. The price wasn't bad at all, especially since I didn't have to pay shipping. It was nice to be able to actually talk to someone in person about what I was getting as well; I will definitely go back. For anyone that's interested, the store is called Billmeier Camera Shop and it's located on Leroy Street right in downtown Fenton.

I haven't had a chance to play with it too much, but what I've seen so far is AWESOME.

My old lens is great for a lot of things and produces great pictures when the lighting is decent. But when the lighting isn't so hot... it can be a trainwreck.

This is what my old lens would produce at night, indoors.


This is what my new best friend produces.


I showed this quick test to Ry when he came in from shoveling the driveway and even he was impressed. No easy feat I tell ya. I can't wait to see how it performs in the daylight!

Ok, so now that I've officially nerded out over this I need to go to bed to rest up for some more nerding out tomorrow. A slew of random pictures will follow soon, I'm sure.

January 18, 2012

January 08, 2012

happy twenty twelve

Does anyone else feel like the holidays go by so quickly? I feel like I board a roller coaster every year around Halloween. I get in my seat, buckle up..

and tick .. tick .. tick.. head up the first big hill.. ...buy costumes.. pumpkins...pass out candy..

tick.. tick.. tick.. up the hill.. leaves fall, the air gets crisper, we gear up for family get togethers, bake pies, we prepare for thanksgiving feasts....

then you are at the tippy top of the hill, about to make the first drop..

the wheels creep over the edge and you look down and gravity kicks in.

on the way down, at warp speed you buy presents! bake cookies! visit family! eat-food-open-presents-eat-more-food-open-more-presents-then haaaapppy new year! Then before you know it the ride is over until next year.

I love the holidays, it's nice to have a little repreive at the start of a new fresh year from all of the commotion.

I want to slow down and enjoy the right now.

My girl is almost one (!) and she is changing at warp speed. She's got three teeth, is walking, and jabbering non-stop. Everyday she is doing something new, and everytime it blows me away. I'm still not used to standing in the kitchen and doing dishes, and seeing my baby toddle in with a big smile. She looks very proud, "look at meee look at meee, look what I can do!"

The start of this year has been unseasonably warm. I usually wish for heaps of snow in January, but I have to admit that this early spring weather has been pretty nice. We've been sick around here, and a nice sun-shiny walk was just the medicine we needed today. I forgot how many endorphins you get from some good ol' fashion excercise and vitamin D.

Charlotte napped most of our walk, but woke up while I was taking some pictures of farm fields near us. I lifted her out of her stroller and let her get nice and dirty crawling around in the dirt and leaves. She had an absolute ball. It's so exciting to think about how much more mobile she will be this summer, and how many more activities we can do.

We have big plans to incorporate lots of bike riding, walking, playground playing and camping into our lives this year. We have a lot of plans for this year... but more on that later.

Here are a few snapshots from playing outside.
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These two are not related. Nooo sir-eeee!
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Look at that toothy grin! Finally!
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I didn't retouch these pictures, trying to keep things simple. Much like our goals for the year, keeping it simple and enjoying what we've been given. Hope you all enjoyed this gorgeous weekend!