Jun 24, 2010


...from Dear John, love this song - so sweet! Check out the movie... have tissues close by.

Jun 23, 2010

Birthday Splurge

Last week was my birthday. Happy Birthday! It's okay if you missed it, I've been somewhat absent and haven't posted as much lately. If you'd like to put it on your calendar for next year, it's the 17th. When is your birthday? We love birthdays around here! My very awesome family often sends green pieces of paper or slips that I can exchange for green pieces of paper tucked inside birthday cards. Typically, I save the green stuff for items I scout out over time. This year, I decided to spend ALL of my birthday green on one big ticket item I've been secretly coveting for a very long time.
Yes friends, a digital SLR. It's time. It's past time. And it arrived on the 18th thanks to my very generous family, $100 in rewards from my awesome NC insurance company, and the amazing overnight delivery folks at UPS. I. LOVE. IT. I'd asked friends on Facebook to help me pick out a good DSLR. I had it narrowed down to Canon's XSi and Nikon's D3000. Upon further investigation, I decided to change the options to Canon's T1i and Nikon's D5000.

I went to the local camera store after several email exchanges, Facebook convos, and chats with my old camera folks at ASAP and took my SD card along. I took pictures with both the T1i and D5000 and uploaded them at home. I didn't even need to print them, Canon was, hands down, the clear winner. From there, I just needed the green light from Chandler since we'd had a few other projects in mind - thankfully, he know how much I wanted this and three clicks later, it was on it's way to VA!

For anyone looking at DSLRs, I promise, I was very unbiased. To prove that, this is my SLR collection - one of each (plus my new love).

My first SLR was a Canon Rebel G - very basic, but as my first, I wanted to go slow and learn all the ins and outs. Once I got the hang of it, I bought an all manual Nikon FG. The FG is actually a 1982 model and took AWESOME pictures. I've not used either of these since buying digital, but I looooved them both. Each took very different pictures. The FG was actually one if Nikon's first three compact SLR camera bodies. I had a lot of fun playing with it and learning out to take a good manual shot. Today, I couldn't tell you half of what I used to know... so sad. Digital has pure ruined me.

I used to go to the beach twice a year, spring and fall, to have a quiet weekend of just me, my camera, and my journal. I'd sit on the beach, walk by the boats on the waterfront in Beaufort, explore what was left of Radio Island... it was a magical time for me. I loved taking pictures and being by myself. When I picked Nola up in April 2007, I stopped going - apparently Gram wasn't a fan of having puppies at the condo. I've not been since 2006 and I SO miss it. It was my time. I often learned a lot about myself just sitting on the beach with my camera and journal.

But back to my original writing purpose...my camera bag. It was big and heavy and while highly functional, since I only plan to have one camera now, I don't need to lug around two plus lenses and accessories. So... I had to make another purchase. I don't consider this an optional purchase though and at $40 (plus 10% off, thanks Best Buy!) it was worth it. What's nice is that it's a shoulder bag style so I can make it double as a day bag if necessary. It's not my usual day bag (yes I have a obsession and I don't really care, it's the BEST company), but it works and I LOVE the colors - so cute, right!?

For compairson purposes, this is the difference: I have a feeling I'll really enjoy the compact nature of this bag. So, that's my splurge (camera, not the bag!). I am SO glad I did it - no regrets whatsoever. I have a feeling it will come in quite handy pretty soon as this year is going to be an adventure! We have a lot of exploring to do in our new state and there are sure to be some great things to photograph. I'll still keep my Coolpix handy for everyday purposes but my T1i will be the main go-to for most things.

If you're in the market for a DSLR here's a post that pulls the highlights of some popular models. For me, I knew I wanted a video and live view option - that is why I changed the original two. That meant a price jump, but I was willing to pay for it after ranking importance. With most all new models of DSLRs the specs are usually good - overall, the Canon T1i had better specs than Nikon's D5000. The one think the D5000 had that I wished the T1i had is a pivoting screen. That is a very nice feature - but I can always get a film for the screen to remedy that little issue. Another tip is to take your SD card and do what I did to see how you like the image quality. It was a marked difference - granted the T1i has 15.1 pixels, which is much more than D5000, but it also gives you a chance to play with the difference functions and test it out before you buy - and you can manipulate and print the pictures to see what you really like best.

Jun 22, 2010

Follow-up to Priceless

Check out this post from Children's HopeChest - it's about 10 minutes of video, but please watch!


Have you heard of Tom Davis? He's the founder of Children's HopeChest and he's written a few books, including one I read a few months ago, Scared. His new book, Priceless, came out on June 1st and I couldn't wait to read it. Both books are about a photojournalist, Stuart Daniels, and things he experiences while on assignment. The first book, Scared, is about a young girl in Swaziland who is the head of the household, but Priceless is about the sex-trafficking industry in Russia.

Several years ago, I sponsored a girl, Masha, from Russia through a small NGO called Orphan Sponsorship International. Masha was 15 and I only sponsored her for a year because she started leaving the orphanage and hanging out with some rougher older kids in the area. Her sponsorship ended not too long after that.

Reading Priceless, I couldn't help but think of Masha and other girls in her orphanage. Tom Davis is an amazing author. He has a way with words that pulls you into the story and after reading Priceless, I was immediately ready to do something. Children's HopeChest has sponsorship opportunities for individuals interested and able to donate and make a connection with a child in need.

Parts of Priceless were ugly, sick and completely and utterly disgusting - but that is the truth for SO many young girls around the world - not just in Russia. I was sent this book by Tom Davis and his publishing company in exchange for an honest book review on my blog. If you read this book, I imagine that you too, will feel compelled to do something - even if it's only to learn more. Anne Jackson, a popular Christian blogger, traveled to Russia and Moldova with Tom Davis earlier this year. I encourage you to check out her posts from the trip. As the only female in the group, she writes a candid and sometimes creepy account of their experiences.

I'm going to find out if I can do a giveaway of this book, it was an option with the letter I received. If you're interested in that or just reading it, would you comment and let me know so that I can let them know if it's something my friends would like? Thanks!

In the meantime, if you're at the bookstore or happen to be shopping Amazon - BUY this book! I read it in just a few hours last Friday and couldn't put it down. It's an amazing story with so much truth woven into each page. You can read chapter one right here.

Also, be sure to check out the book's webite, She is Priceless and if you do NOTHING else, READ THIS POST.


I couldn't find pillows that I liked for the couch. Nor could I find a slipcover. We finally found a slipcover at Target, it's a creamy white and I don't love it that much. I never did find pillows. I did however, find the perfect color place mats at Pier1. So... I decided to get creative.

I ripped the seam, stuffed them full, and voila - perfect new pillows!

(Disregard what appears to be fluff on the couch, someone (not naming names) sniffed the camera and the lens has a smudge.)

What's the verdict? I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. $8 for place mats, $4 for stuffing = $12 total spent. Not too bad, and I think they look great - I tried to get a picture of the rug to show the colors but I was using my old camera. Oh yes, I said old... can't wait to share more news! ;)

Jun 20, 2010


We checked out the local zoo on Friday - it is smaller than the one I'm used to in NC, but fun nonetheless. Giraffes are by far my most favorite animal (next to Nola of course!). They had a great giraffe exhibit.

It was SO weird how close the zoo was to a neighborhood! This is the elephant enclosure and you can clearly see houses just behind it! I cannot imagine the stink those poor people smell. That's also pretty intimidating too actually - there are two GIANT elephants who live in this... they were getting a bath when we were there so we only got to see them from inside glass and it was difficult because they were enjoying the water so much and stayed towards the side where the glass stopped.

Is that not the cutest little baby giraffe you've ever seen?!

This little guy's enclosure was so close to the public that I'm pretty sure if I wanted to try and touch him, and I was fast enough, I probably could have. I felt bad for him though because so many people were trying to wake him up and his sign clearly stated that he was nocturnal.
Overall, I wasn't too impressed by the zoo. A few of the animals, especially the Red Panda, seemed very agitated and generally unhappy. The enclosures were small and not well separated from visitors. I typically enjoy zoos, but after visiting this one, I really appreciate how awesome our zoo is back home in NC.

Treasure at the dump

Before our curb side garbage can was delivered, we still took our trash to the dumpster at the apartment complex where Chandler used to live. While dropping it off a couple weeks ago, I found two little end tables stacked beside the dumpster and couldn't resist bringing them home.

We didn't necessarily need more furniture but these little tables had so much potential that I knew a coat of paint would make them really cute pieces to play with for a while.

Meet my $9 tables!
I decided to go with haystack yellow so we could use one upstairs in the guest room and one downstairs in the living room. I love that I only spent $9 in paint and if I decide I don't care for them anymore, I'll just pass them along to the local thrift store and let someone else enjoy them for a while. Until then, I'm enjoying the spunky color! Anyone else found fun things at the dumpster?

Jun 5, 2010


A few weeks ago, Chandler's mom came down to help us make a flower bed... today, I planted pink petunias to accomany the purple ones since my little rose bushes don't seem to enjoy themselves.
We also planted two peony bulbs, but only one has made a debut so far:
Finally, we've decided in the last week that we HAVE to start eating better. It's a requirement. So...
We bought LOTS of fruit! AND - when I was outside planting earlier today, I saw that we had TWO little tomatoes growing!!! I hope this means we'll have a great summer with lots of fresh tomatoes!

Busy, busy!

Chandler's dad came to visit this weekend and brought the boat. We have deep water access in our neighborhood so we were super excited to get out on the water. Nola had to be prepared too so I ordered a life jacket for her.

Heidi came to visit too! She LOVES to boat and can swim better than Belle so she doesn't need a jacket - lucky girl! It is SO hot here this weekend!

I finally finished a project that had been on my list from day one!

I really want a new table but we have some other things on the list first so until then, I had to spruce up the current Ikea table from WAY back when! It works for now and the colors go with the rest of the house so I'm content for now. If only we can get some pictures on the wall.... :)
"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid God would ask me the same question."
You don't change the world by trying to change the world; you change the world by changing yourself.
-Gerry Straub