Sunday, April 29, 2012

Project MCP - April

As promised, here are my April submissions for Project MCP.  The themes for May will be a bit challenging; I might have to ask for some help from my friends!

April Week 1: Showers/Wet

We finally got some afternoon rain mid-month and I got this shot of one of our many tulips in the yard. 

April Week 2: Shallow Depth of Field

DOF refers to what is in focus.  Shallow DOF means that only a small part of the subject is in focus.  I asked for Gilberts help with this one.  Nice nose, eh?

April Week 3: Blooming

This one was easy; we have tons of flowers blooming right now!  I just had to narrow it down.  I like that you could see the pollen on this tulip.

April Week 4: Get low

I took this photo lying on the ground in my living room.  It's the ceiling fan in motion.  I gave it a vintage process because I didn't really care for the true colors and thought this one looked cool.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sweep Me off My Feet

One chore that I hate more than anything is vacuuming and mopping.  However, it’s the one thing that I feel really HAS to be done in our house.  With a dog that sheds year round and laminate floors throughout, there are always black tumbleweeds rolling around the house.  Not to mention, muddy paw prints, drool, dirt/leaves/pine needles andr whatever else can be tracked in from outside.  And that’s just from the dog.  Every Saturday I spend at least an hour or two vacuuming and then wet swiffering the floors.  I attempt to vacuum once during the week as well.  I try and look past chore and think about the workout I’m getting, but I still despise this weekly task.  So much so that I try and tell Gilbert that he needs start earning his keep and do some chores while we’re at work.  For some reason, that never works.

I had looked into the Roomba before but had a feeling that it wouldn’t be able to keep up with a hairy floor.  I was sure that it would get clogged as my regular vacuum does.  But one day I caught the tail end of a commercial for Mint.  Mint is an automatic floor sweeper and mop.  It uses washable microfiber cloths to sweep dirt and hair and wet mop your floors…..all while you do something else (like watch it!).  Mint got great reviews; especially from those who had a house full of laminate/hardwood floors and pets.  As the Mint website says, "Clean floors to your heart’s content without lifting a finger."  Sounds like my sort of thing!

So, after some consideration, that’s what I decided to purchase with my birthday money this year.  I thought about not getting it (Do I really NEED it?  Wouldn’t I rather use my money for a fun camera accessory?), but ultimately I decided that even if I didn’t need it, I wanted it!  It was my birthday money and I could buy whatever I wanted with it.  I thought that it would at least free up a little time so that I can play with all the camera accessories that I already have!  I don’t expect Max (yes, I named it) to completely take over my floor cleaning duties.  I’m sure I will have to pull out the vacuum and hand mop every once in awhile, but I think he will make the chore less of a chore for me if he does his job every day or so.  We’ll see.  In a few weeks I will give an update as to how Max is fitting in!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I don't Like Pinterest

There, I said it.  When I first heard about it, I didn’t really think it was something up my alley so it took me months to even check it out.  It wasn’t until I was in search of a new area rug and some artwork for the living room that I thought, ‘Hey, maybe this is what I can use Pinterest for.’  So, I added the few things I found at various online shopping sites to a Pinterest board I created.  Previously, these items were housed on my Amazon Wishlist (which worked perfectly fine for my purposes, by the way).  I browsed other people’s boards getting quite bored in the process.  I guess I really don’t care what craft projects others think might be fun.  I have repinned a few recipes, but the chances of me making them are slim (I did make one recipe but it didn't go over well).  I suppose if you are into crafts or love cooking or need inspirational ideas for things like a wedding it might make a lot of sense.  Or maybe I just need to follow people who have similar interests as me.  Cooking isn’t something I enjoy all that much and I like baking even less.  I don’t care to craft, and I don’t need to find projects to keep a 4 year old occupied.  Plus, my ‘to do’ list is long enough as it is.  Pinterest would just make me feel like my list is getting longer and longer each and every day.  Many of the projects that would interest me (redecorating the house or landscaping for example) require time and money I don’t have.  As if I don’t have enough pipedreams in my own head, now I am logging them to remind myself of the things I can’t have/will never be able to do?  Ha!  Why set myself up for failure?  I also don’t really like the idea of people knowing what I might be up to at any given time (I could make a whole post about Facebook ‘check-ins’ as well).  I’m not totally bashing Pinterest.  I can see how it can be useful to some people, but I’m just not one of those people.  I do have a feeling people spend more time browsing Pinterest and repining things than they actually do performing the projects they find there!  So, yeah, I’m perfectly happy doing Google searches if I’m looking for something and saving it to my Favorites/Bookmarks or my Amazon Wishlist.  In fact, I just googled "I hate Pinterest images" and found these:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Flowers

Even though we have a yard full of perennials, we decided to buy some bulbs to add more flowers to it.  I love spring flowers but we had hardly any tulips or daffodils in our yard to satisfy my taste.  So, last fall we spent hours outside removing mulch, cutting weed barrier, digging holes, placing bulbs (the right side up), covering with dirt, watering, and replacing the mulch.  We planted just over 200 bulbs in four hours.  I'm happy to report that most of these bulbs have sprouted into beautiful flowers!  I love driving up our driveway now and seeing all of the yellow and red.  I love it so much I want more!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Favorite Things - Shutterfly Photobooks

I’ve been a faithful Shutterfly customer for five years now.  I started using this online photo printing site on recommendation from our wedding photographer.  That’s when I discovered the awesomeness of photobooks!  If you take a lot of pictures, you know how time consuming it is to print pictures and load them into a traditional photo album.  And it’s the worst when you realize you skipped a page and have to unload and reload the pictures again if you want to keep them in order.  By making a digital photobook you can avoid all of this.  It's so easy to swap photos back and forth and choose different layouts to fit one to multiple photos on a page.  You can even add stories and captions without the fear of making a writing mistake or having to see messy handwriting.  Making a photobook is sort of like scrapbooking, but without the mess.  I typically make a photobook for each vacation I take.  Sometimes, if there is a special deal, I will make a ‘year in review’ photobook too.  I really should get better at doing the latter though because it is nice knowing that you have a hardcopy of your favorite pictures.  And one of the best features of a photobook?  They take up a lot less space then a traditional album.  And who couldn't use a little more space?!

In the five years I’ve been making photobooks I’ve always been impressed with the quality and service of Shutterfly.  However, my last photobook….not so much.  I opened my book and the first thing I noticed was that the cover photo was crooked.  That’s a big error in my opinion.  I don’t want to display a book with a crooked front photo!  Without even opening the book I saw another error.  The book was brown; not the usual black that I order.  After looking back, I realized the color choise was my mistake.  I also found a spelling error inside.  Again, my error.  I knew there was a chance that here wasn’t much that could be done about my mistakes, but I contacted Shutterfly customer service about the unaligned front picture.  After sending a photo of the complaint they offered to reprint my order.  Great!  Except I really wanted to fix the cover color and the spelling error too.  I contacted them again to ask if there was any way I could fix a spelling error I found before reprinting (I didn’t mention the cover color since that really wasn’t that big of a deal…well, it was in my mind!).  Instead of just reprinting, they credited my account for the price I paid for the book along with the free shipping I originally received.  The credits have an expiration date two months away.  Awesome!  Not only do I get to fix everything I want, but I have almost 2 months to do it.  And I still get free shipping and don’t have to send the original photobook back.  Now that’s customer service!

If you’ve never made a photobook before, I highly recommend it.  It is a bit time consuming (especially if you are learning) and a tad pricey depending on the cover style you choose (Shutterfly always has sales, so just wait a few weeks until one pops up before ordering), but I think the final product is well worth it!

Crappy Photobook

Not Crappy Photobook

I realize now that the collage thing (with a white border) might not be the best idea for the front cover!