Pinterest FAIL!

I'm sure if you've been on Pinterest for any amount of time you've seen fingernails painted all kind of cute by using scotch tape to decorate.  I decided to give it a whirl.

Uh.... no.  I waited 30 minutes before using the tape.  Apparently I should have waited longer.

First Birthday Dress!

I'm so excited that I got Rowan's dress made!  I have decided to go with a rainbow theme for her first birthday, which is approaching at an extremely rapid pace.  I thought it would be a cute idea to have her wear a rainbow themed dress or outfit for the day.

I had the dress idea in my head, but I just couldn't find the pattern that I wanted.  Then BAM! one day, there it was.  The Mayah dress from Sew Sweet Patterns.  At only $6, I couldn't pass it up.  In fact, I bought that pattern and the Iris dress pattern (it's reversible!!).  So I had the pattern, now I had to find the fabric.

Do you know how hard it was for me to find rainbow chevron fabric?  Annoyingly hard.  I searched the internet for quite sometime before finally landing at The Fab Store on Etsy.  That lady has some seriously fab fabrics.  Quick shipping, decent prices.  I was almost ready to start sewing.  I had to find a fabric for the inside.  Que up the local Wal-Mart....  I could have gone to Hobby Lobby, but then I'd have been there all day and probably walked out with three times as much stuff as I really needed.  Her birthday is in July and I wanted something that wouldn't be too hot.  I found the perfect silky, purple fabric.  

I'm getting so excited about her birthday, but it's sad too.  How can she be a year old already!?  It's simply not possible.

The Pop Has Landed

I apologize for my absence as of late.  My Pops has moved back to the Bluegrass after almost 12 years of living away.  We are all super excited about having him here.  I'm a little sad though because I wish we could have moved to him instead.  Practically all of my family lives in Florida (with the exception of 3 people) and I've never been able to live near them.  I want to have family dinners on Sunday, get togethers on holidays, etc.

I have a couple of posts already scheduled, so I'll be here in spirit at least.  I'll try to pop back in soon to update on what's going on.  May try my hand at some mobile blogging...

You Do Get What You Pay For

I am a fingernail biter.  I have bitten my fingernails for as long as I can remember.  It's the worst habit ever.  I. CAN. NOT. STOP.  It's like a freakin' disease or something.  I did manage to stop biting them for a time when I was pregnant.  It didn't last long though.  

You see I have found that if I keep them painted, I do not bite them.  It's just after a while I get tired of having ugly chipped fingernail polish.  Because I always end up having chipped nail polish.  Especially now that I have the little and I'm rinsing out sippy cups and cloth diapers several times a day.

I've never seen a need to pay crazy amounts of money for fingernail polish.  I always thought polish was polish, didn't think it really mattered the brand or price.  Especially since it's always looking trashy after a day or two.  One time, while I was getting fake nails put on, I had the ladies paint my oldest daughter's nails.  It cost me $5 and the polish chipped off the ends of her nails within a day.  That was the last time I paid someone to paint her nails.  They use China Glaze and OPI there.  You know, expensive polishes.  So when hers began to chip off if one day, I knew spending extra money on pricier polish wasn't worth it.

Then I starting seeing this Essie polish.  Everywhere. Went to the store, found it, got sad.  It was $8 a bottle.   I just could not justify paying that much money.  BUT they have such cute colors and I'm seeing it everywhere I look.  The Essie is haunting me.  I saw an opportunity on Mother's Day and I took it!

I am so glad I did!  I love this polish.  I painted my nails Sunday evening.  No base coat, no top coat.  Just two coats of polish.  I gave plenty of time for them to dry.  Usually I do this and the next morning I have sheet prints on my nails.  Monday morning I got up to perfect, glossy nails!  By Wednesday morning my nails were barely chipped or blemished.

Please ignore the super lovely cuticles and short nails.  Just focus on the non-chipped polish!  By this point, I'm thinking that I am now completely sold on Essie nail polish.  It'd been three days and no noticeable wear and tear.

This morning...

Ahh... morning sun.....  Oops!  Sorry I got sidetracked.  Anyway.... As you can see, five days later and I'm just now getting some chipping.  But wait... this is my left hand.  I'm not left handed.  I'm right handed and do tons more stuff with that hand.  Normally this means that the right is worse than the left, correct?

There is that morning sun again...  I'm happy to report that the only nail with noticeable chipping is my index finger.  Again, please ignore my super awesome cuticles.  

In conclusion, I am IN LOVE with this polish!  I painted my toenails too, but the trauma of seeing my fingernails is probably enough for you so I won't do that to you.  Just know that they show absolutely no wearing/chipping at all!  And you guys know I wear flip flops 24/7.  I'm already trying to decide which color to buy next!!

And Another Thing...

I found this alternative photo yesterday that Time could have used on their cover.

See the difference?  She has a slight smile on her face.  The boy actually looks more like a 3-4 year old.  He has his arm wrapped around Mom.  In my opinion, this would have been the better choice.

Firm Ground

I try to keep things nice and lighthearted around here.  I don't normally tackle any serious issues.  I don't want or like to ruffle feathers, but I think it's time I voice my opinions.

1.  It's time to weigh in on the Time magazine cover.

I don't like it.  I am a breastfeeding advocate.  I am currently breastfeeding my third child.  I am all for breastfeeding children into their toddler years.  I am for letting the child self-wean.  I think the image is meant to stir up controversy.  It makes breastfeeding look.... wrong.  The boy is just standing there like a knot on a log.  Showing no affection or emotion.  I was hard pressed to believe that was even her child.

Breastfeeding is what is best for your child.  It is formulated to be the exact perfect needs for your individual child.  Making it look wrong on any level is a real disservice to babies everywhere.  I have a breastfeeding goal of two years with my little one.  I only made it nine months with my son.  I wanted to go longer, but was made to feel like the one year mark was it.  Past that and it was all cow's milk.  Like there is some kind of huge finish line at one year.  With my oldest daughter, I feel shameful.  Shameful because I had to return to work.  A job where I wasn't allowed to pump every couple of hours.  My milk depleted, eventually drying up, and she had to be put on a bottle.  With formula.  Ick, that is such a bad word to me now.  If only I had known then what I know now, they wouldn't have denied me the right to nourish my child.

I'm very satisfied that my youngest has never touched a bottle.  In fact, we don't even own a single one.  For the first six months of her life she received nothing but breast milk.  Even now, at ten months, she only gets her sippy cup at lunch and dinner time.

Bottom line here is that ultimately the decision of how long to breastfeed is up to the mother, the child, and possibly the father.  We'll give Dad's a little say so.  If you don't like what you see, it is very easy to turn your head in the other direction.  So turn your damn head and shut your mouth.

2.  Gay marriage.

Why the hell not?    What in the world gives anyone the right to say that two HUMAN BEINGS that love each other can not be wed?  It's narrow minded and ignorant to discriminate against others.  Let's not blame gay marriage on ruining marriage.  Heterosexuals have been getting legally married for centuries and it's something like 1 in every 2 marriages end in divorce.  Uh... sure gay marriage will ruin straight marriage.  I'm pretty damn sure most straight marriages are ruining themselves.

If you are going to try to lobby the whole "it's in the Bible" crap at me... let's go over a few other things that are in that book...

-Leviticus 19:27 reads "You shall not round off the side growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard."  Guess you'll need to stop shaving and getting those hair cuts.

-Leviticus 11:8 reads "You shall not eat of their (pigs) flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you."  Welp... no more bacon, sausage, or ham (a staple of the American Easter celebration... ironic, no?).  Oh and in the pure sense... no more football 'cause you know they throw around a pigskin.

-Leviticus (AGAIN) 19:19 reads "You are to keep my statutes, You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together."  Oops!  Better check your tags... if it's polyester, you're screwed.

-Divorce is also a sin, as well as eating shellfish, wearing gold, or tattoos.

Leviticus is also the chapter with the infamous words of not lying with another man, abomination... blah, blah, blah...  If you are going to ignore the rest of the chapter, don't pick and choose the one line that discriminates and use it in a hateful manner.

Bottom line here is that the Bible is a book of contradictions.  Matthew 7:1 - "Judge not, least ye be judged."  7:2 - "For with that judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

I should mention that I had to look up all of these passages.  I only know Psalms 23 by heart, and the whole "not judging" line.  I grew up going to church with my mom and sometimes with my grandmother.  I've been to Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Presbyterian churches, even a Catholic church once.  I have Faith. I am spiritual.  I believe in a higher power.  I don't believe in organized religion.  I don't believe in pushing my beliefs on others.  I don't believe in judging others for whatever religion they choose to put their Faith in.  I believe we all have a choice.  Not a single one of us knows for certain what happens when we are no longer on this Earth.  Are we really going to spread hate for the short time we are here?

Pinteresting Finds

this print!  $15.00 on etsy
hot glue the hole, no more mold  YES!!!!
these nails are awesome!  1st I must grown my nails, 2nd I must learn to do this.
wild horses... as if I needed another reason to visit the Outer Banks
I love this style.  Yet again more proof that I was clearly born into the wrong era.

Super Moon!

Last year's attempt to capture the super Moon in March didn't turn out so good.  This year I had a tripod!  I still had to fiddle with the settings and modes before I could get a decent shot and I probably couldn't repeat those setting again.  I was glad to get a few decent shots.  

Nikon D40 - f/5.3 - 1/200 sec. - ISO 200 - 55-200mm lens @ 145mm

My Favorite App

I've never been a big magazine reader.  I recently had subscriptions to Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle.  I like them, but not enough to renew my subscription.  There is one stand out magazine though.

National Geographic.

That iconic yellow framed magazine.  The unmatched quality of phenomenal images.  Great stories, important subjects.

I love this magazine.

Then I got an iPad and discovered...  There's an app for that!!!

{screen capture from my iPad - May 2012 issue}

The issues are downloadable every month to the Newsstand.  As long as you are a print subscriber, the issues are available for free.  I have an iPad 2 and the images are beautiful.  I can only imagine how stunning they must look on the new Retina display.

{screen capture from my iPad - May 2012 issue}
The real bonus of having access via the iPad are the extras that are available.  For example, the April 2012 issue was about the Titanic.  There are several interactive sections where you can view images in 3D, move them around, zoom and pan.  It's amazing!

{screen capture from my iPad - April 2012 issue}
There are even videos in some sections.  They tell a backstory or just give information about what that specific article is about.

I noticed on there are several bad reviews of the app on iTunes.  They are based on purchasing the magazine only through app (no print version).  It seems there is some type of glitch where people are paying for a 12 month subscription and only getting a few months before being prompted to buy individual issues.  I haven't had any problems with downloading current issues. *knock on wood*  However, I have been a print subscriber for YEARS and I wasn't able to download all of the available issues.  The app is indicating that in order for me to view them on the iPad I would have to purchase them.  This is only for older issues though and hasn't been a problem with current ones.

I still love this app and the magazine.

{screen capture on my iPad - May 2012 issue}

Empower Yourself

{Advance warning - This is a post about sanitary napkins or pads or whatever you want to call them and I WILL be talking about my period.  Just thought I'd give y'all a heads up!}

I was contacted back in March about giving Empower Pads a try.  I was lucky enough to not have a need for them yet as my period had not yet returned since giving birth to Rowan back in July of 2011.  I replied, let them know the details, and said I'd be happy to try their product as soon as I could.

To my surprise, I not only received an encouraging email, but I also received a whole box full of samples!  Three packages of Ultra-Thin Pantiliners (20 ct.), three Ultra-Thin Day Pads (10 ct.), and three Ultra-Thin Night Pads (8 ct.) to try out.  Secretly I hoped it'd be a while because, let's just be honest here, I wasn't really looking forward to having a period again.  I hadn't had to deal with that business since October of 2010.  I wasn't in a hurry to give it a whirl again.

Then BAM! last week out of nowhere... cramps.  I was like, "NOOOOOOO!!!", but I knew it was inevitable.  I'm happy I was able to make it ten months.  I would have been happier to make it a little longer, but what is a girl to do?  Then I remembered that I had some new pads to try.  A tiny little bright spot in the menstrual whirlwind.

Right out of the box I noticed a difference from my regular sanitary napkins.  I think they should definitely be in stores, but they are a bit on the pricey side.  You can order directly from their website here or on Amazon here.

Pros for me:
- Anti-bacterial properties
- Same size, shape as other pads
- I did notice or rather DIDN'T notice any odors.
- Absorbency after first day of cycle (see below) was excellent.
- Cotton-like surface is nice and soft.
- Breathable bottom layer worked nicely.
- Adhesive backing stayed put well.
- Wings have large adhesive area and help keep pad in place.

Cons for me:
- At the beginning of my period, I had/have a heavier flow.  I almost encountered a leak with the daytime pad, but was able to avert disaster by just getting to the bathroom in time.  The pads didn't absorb quickly enough to keep up with my flow.  (Again I should mention that this is my first period since giving birth ten months ago.  Next months flow may be entirely different.)
- Made in China.  However from doing a bit of research, most menstrual products aren't made in the US which is great for the women of the country that they ARE made in, but not for me.
- Excessive packaging.  This is both a plus and a minus.  I like the fact that each pad is sealed well and is completely blocked from outside contaminates, but that's a lot of trash going into a landfill somewhere and I've never had an issue with other products being contaminated by an outside germ.

The Anion strip is said to help relieve cramps, decrease bloating, and increase energy.  I didn't notice any of these things in my experience.  I had the same level of cramps that I remember having months ago.  I'm still battling a post-baby belly so it may actually help with bloating, but I feel bloated all the time anyway!

Bottom line:
I would probably use these products again.  In fact, I will.  We only use products like this for a few short days every month.  What we use for those few days makes a difference.  I'd like to know that the product I'm using might give me extra benefits.  I think it's worth trying.  Visit Empower Pads at their site or on Facebook to learn more about this product.

I was provided a complimentary package of product in exchange for my review and honest opinion.  No other compensation was made.  All opinions are my own.

In the RAW

I've always been scared of messing with the settings on my camera.  I have a basic DSLR, a Nikon D40.  I got it two years ago and am still learning how to properly use it.  I am happy to report that I moved out of the AUTO setting a while back.  I even, on occasion, flirt with the manual focus.  I know... it's scandalous.  Now I mostly shoot in Shutter Priority mode.  See what I did?  I basically just replaced AUTO with Shutter Priority.  Just another hurdle I must cross.

To be honest, I'm pretty photography ignorant when it comes to terminology and all the real techy stuff.  About 90% of my photos are in the JPEG format.  The other 10% is PNG and that's from saving them that way.  I've read a million and one articles on shooting in RAW.  I read that it was the best format, like... ever, but then never changed the setting on my camera.  Until recently... I finally decided to take the plunge and change something.  I have to admit that I didn't notice much of a change with the results straight out of the camera when compared to some JPEG images.  However, the adjustments that are available with photos using the RAW format with PSE10 really made a huge difference.  That RAW editor is the bomb, y'all!

See how much more vibrant and bright the after image is?  Eventually I hope to will be able to make those adjustments in the camera before I even take the photo.

Of course I had to use one of my favorite subjects to test it out.  I didn't do too much adjusting to the color, contrast, brightness, etc. to this one (which is what is so great about the RAW editor!), but I did crop and used the FREE Bring Out the Eyes action from one of the Pioneer Woman action sets after opening into PSE.

I only have three memory cards, a 4 GB and two 2 GB cards.  RAW files are pretty large.  I'm no professional and I don't take thousands of images at one setting, but sometimes I do get click happy.  I thought I was destined to invest in larger memory cards until I found the key to solving my dilemma.

You can OPEN your JPEG files in the RAW editor!!

I'm using Photoshop Elements 10 with Windows 7 so it might be different for other versions of PS and OS.  Click File> Open As... (or Alt+Ctrl+O), choose your JPEG image, choose Camera Raw from the Format dropdown menu, then click open.  There you have it!  Now I can save file space on my memory cards and still make necessary adjustments.

Do you shoot your photos in JPEG or RAW?  Maybe both?

Photo a Day Rewind {April}

I can't believe that it's already May!  Just five months into the year and it's already moving too fast.  I missed half the month in photos again.  I'm so forgetful sometimes.  Here's a look back at the month of April.

I was pretty dedicated those last few days, huh?  I'm determined to actually finish a whole month before the year is through!  Even if I have to send myself reminders through my phone!  

Are you participating this month?  Click here to find out how!

Like these storyboards?  They are FREE and you can find them right here at Sarah Halstead's blog!