Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Recap

It's that time of the year.  Time to look in the review mirror to assess 2012 and then start to think of resolutions and goals for 2013.

I reconnected with my little, ol' blog in 2012 and posted more in one year than I ever had before.  Along the way I made a few blogger buddies and I'm so happy to have connected with others.  I still don't have a central focus on this blog and I hope that's okay with you because it's just fine with me.

Looking back here are my most viewed posts of the year, as well as the posts that meant the most to me.  Thanks for sticking around.  Plenty more to come in 2013.

Top Viewed Posts of 2012

I'll be honest, this probably wasn't the best title for a post, but it got the point across.  This post reaffirmed to me that I need to post more of my decorating projects because while I may not be Martha Stewart I do come up with a cool thing or two every now and then.  Expect to see a ton of more decorating posts in the future.  The hubs and I are making progress on our house and we're getting to the point where I can start to share more images of the house. 

I think this post received so many reviews because I name-dropped serious eye candy pieces.  One of my biggest referencing search terms was "Tory Burch Horsebit Satchel," which means most people came across my window shopping post because they were trying to find the satchel.  That's my bad.  

Not going to lie, but this post was one of my absolute favorites.  Those Jack and Coke slushies have become a staple in my house and among my friends.  I even mass-produced these bad boys for our second annual pig roast and they were a huge hit.  Since making these slushies I've updated my winter drink repertoire to include frozen coffee and Bailey's. It seems I'm mildly obsessed with frozen alcoholic beverages. :) 

My Favorite Posts of the Year:  These can't be put into any type of numerical order

Two of my main loves in my life are my family and running.  Combining the two was just the proverbial icing on the cake.  

Just wait, little nephew... I'm coming for you :) 

I celebrated quite a few birthdays this year with some amazing friends and family, but the one that stuck out the most was celebrating a cool kid's first birthday.  I don't know if there's a greater sight in this world than witnessing the absolute joy in a child's face as they mash a cake, jump in a bouncy castle, or pretty much just run around like a crazy person.  

This past year was a great one for the relationship I have with my husband. We celebrated our 10 year dating anniversary and our 5 year wedding anniversary.  If I had to pick one of the other I'd go with our wedding anniversary because it was a day surrounded by 80 of our closest friends, family, and a pig!  Our wedding wasn't anything over the top, but our marriage is stuff of fairy tales in my mind.  

All of the credit for my blissful marriage goes to my hubs.  He doesn't put up with my crazy, he embraces it.  He has the near perfect balance between having my back and calling me out when I'm being unreasonable.  I don't know how to explain it and that's what makes it magical.  

He is the most patient, kind, loving, supportive, and most importantly - funny person I've ever met. 

He's not just my hubs, he's my life partner. Ever since our wedding we haven't gone a day without saying, "I love you" to each other and meaning it. 

Thanks for stopping by!

See you later 2012. Bring it on 2013.  

I hope you all have a Happy New Year wherever you celebrate it. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Recap

The hubs and I weren't able to travel this year for Christmas, but rather think of our situation as the first Christmas away from my family I thought of it as the first Christmas of just the hubs and me.  Plus, two spoiled Boston Terriers.

My grandma's vintage ceramic tree fits right at home in the kitchen's bay window.  A little dusting of snow on Christmas Eve certainly didn't hurt the view. 

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas.  

Thank you for all of your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. The hubs came through surgery with flying colors on Wednesday.  He has a long road ahead of him to full recovery, but getting through surgery was step one.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Minute Gift Ideas: Made in the USA Edition

You've made your list. You've checked it twice. And, you still realize you have shopping to do this weekend for a few more people on your holiday gift list.  It's okay, you're not alone.  I put together a quick and easy list of made in the USA items you can find almost anywhere.

Sorry cool and independent stores.  I have awesome things in store for you next year.  Right now I'm trying to get across how easy it is to buy things stamped, "Made in USA."

Maglite flashlights (varies) - True story - right before my dad left me in my freshmen dorm room at college he slipped me a big, black Maglite and asked that I always carry it in my purse.  The man knew I was a sucker for a big bag and I'd have room for it.  His rational, "not only can it provide light, but it can ward off a mugger."  Not kidding.  There's more Maglites in my house than I can count, they're made in the USA, and you can buy them just about anywhere. Stocking stuffer anyone?  If you think this isn't a cool gift, just ask yourself what you need during the next power failure and get back to me then. Available at Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, Target, etc.

Libby Glasswares (varies) - Not every piece of Libby glassware is made in the USA, which means you need to check the box.  However, I have more than one set of cool mugs that are made in the USA including my favorite beer mugs.  Specialty glasses are always a perfect hostess gift.  Available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Target, Walmart, HomeGoods, etc.

Yankee Candle (varies) - Look, I don't think I need to tell you how awesome these fragrant candles are, but I can if you need me to.  The Christmas Cookie candle is a holiday staple in my house.  Although, I really want to buy that peppermint bark candle.  Available: EVERYWHERE

Craftsman Tools (varies) - Again, not every Craftsman tool is made in the USA, although the screwdriver set pictured above is made here.  Available at Sears and KMart many of the items in the Craftsman line are made in the USA.  I bought the hubs a shiny black Craftsman tool chest for Christmas on Black Friday and it's proudly stamped, "MADE IN USA."  If you think a screwdriver set is a dorky gift then we might not be able to be friends. I've got my own screwdriver set and the hubs as his own.  That's how we roll.

Lodge Cast Iron (varies) - If you want a gift that's going to last, then go with something in the cast iron variety.  During Hurricane Sandy I actually ran out to HomeGoods and picked up a Lodge kettle for my wood stove that could not only boil water for tea, but also could have been used to make soup if the power went out.  I've used Lodge items since I was a kid on camping trips and these babies have outlasted all of my other camping gear. Available at HomeGoods, Target, Walmart, REI, Bass Pro, Macys, Sears, J.C. Penny, etc.

Calphalon Cookware (varies) - Again, not every piece of Calphalon is made in the USA, but many of the pieces in their bronze and nonstick lines are made in the states.  I have my eye on this sear nonstick pan. Calphalon pans are available at Williams-Sonoma, Macys, Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel, Target, Kohl's, JC Penny, etc.

KitchenAid Mixer (varies) - Have you come across a wedding registry that didn't include a stand mixer?  I don't know if I have!  These babies are awesome and I can't imagine my baking routine without one.  Maybe the bakers in life already own one.  You know what they might not own - the glass bowl attachment. Yup, that bad boy is made in the USA.  Available just about everywhere.

New Balance Made in the USA (varies) - I didn't know this until recently, but New Balance has a "USA Collection." line of running shoes.  New Balance distinguishes between two categories based on the percentage of the shoe that is made in the USA.  The "Made in the USA" shoes are, "proudly produced in our U.S. factories by our more than 1,300 U.S. workers.  Where the domestic value is at least 70% we have labeled them, 'Made in USA.'"  two lines of shoes that are stamped "USA." Other shoes in the collection are stamped, "Assembled in the USA."  These shoes have a domestic value that is less than 70%.  Shoes are available at New Balance Stores, Urban Outfitters (yes, hipsters love them!), Sports Authority, Cabela's, and other sporting stores.

Crayola (varies) - Bring some color to the holidays with crayons and other goodies produced by Crayola.  I don't remember many stockings as a kid that didn't include some type of coloring product.  Again, not everything that Crayola makes is made in the USA, but with two manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania there's a solid chance that you can find a set that's made here. Available: Target, Walmart, etc.

Spatula Set ($22.50) - Another awesome stocking addition.  These specific spatulas are made in the USA. Made out of durable silicone they are heat resistant up to 500°FThat's hot!!!  Unfortunately, these are a Williams-Sonoma exclusive, but if you're heading to the mall you can pick up a set of these babies in a pinch.

Jack Daniels (varies) - I think I've made it known once or twice, but I live in a Jack Daniels house. You don't have to pick up a bottle of Jack this holiday season, but if you're going to someone's house you could always bring a bottle of wine or alcoholic beverage.  This is probably the easiest American made gift you could find at the last minute.  America makes a lot of tasty alcohol.  Just please drink responsibly and NEVER drink and drive.  Thanks!

Burt Bee's (varies) - Again, stocking stuffer perfection!  Burt Bee's has tons of collections and kits that could easily be picked up at any local drug store, Target, Walmart, etc and wrapped in a hurry.  Not only is it made in the USA, but it smells awesome.

Carhartt Men's Duck Detroit Jacket ($75) - Look not every item in Carhartt's line is made in the USA.  I know, insert a frown face here, but many items are made in the USA.  Even better is you can find Carhartt items at Dick's Sporting Goods, Bass Pro, J.C. Penny, Sears, etc.

Again, this is clearly not meant to be an all inclusive list of last minute gift ideas that are made in the USA.  These are just a few, and I do mean a few, items you can find almost anywhere if you're near a mall this weekend.

If you are heading out to do some shopping this weekend, please, please, please be safe and be happy.  It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Real world vs Pinterest: Holiday Party Attire Edition

It's a December tradition in my life the past four years. "What the heck am I going to wear to my office's holiday party?"  The office gang, although still a blonde down, was back together again this year down in DC, but for some strange reason I wasn't in love with the idea of buying a new dress to wear.  Yeah, the hubs was shocked as well. 

I couldn't figure out what to wear so I did what anyone would do when they just didn't feel like buying something new for a specific engagement - I shopped my closet, sent pictures of available pieces to a friend, and said, "tell me what to wear."  I'm so lucky to have Meaghan, from District Sparkle, in my life.  

I'm always a little tentative when it comes to combining colors, but imagine my surprise when Meaghan sent me this picture she pinned months ago:

My first thought, "woah, that's my proposed outfit, just upside down."

Second thought, "I'm definitely wearing a bra with my blouse!" 

Thank you Meaghan for picking out my outfit! And for letting me crash at your apartment. Left to my own devices I probably have worn a striped shirt combination... again. 

Blouse:  J. Crew // Necklace: South Moon Under  // Skirt: J. Crew // Clutch: Rebecca Minkoff // Bracelets:  iSanctuary, Vintage // Shoes: Nine West (via Marshall's) 

Sidebar: I've posted numerous times before about my love of a certain studded black purse, but I haven't shared the other amazing Rebecca Minkoff bag in my closet until now.  I won that amazing clutch, with the cutest gold chain, from Rebecca Minkoff way back in October.  Honestly, I don't even know how it happened. All of the sudden there was a picture on Instagram basically saying that the first person to get that clutch in their online basket had it for free.  Then, there was a tweet sent out saying I won. It was the most fashionable version of "right place, right time, and damn lucky." 

I don't know how much the items would have cost from Oscar, but I can tell you that I scored both the blouse and skirt at J. Crew on Black Friday for less than $60 combined.  The skirt was on mega clearance for $25 and even though I didn't necessarily need to add another wool pencil skirt to my closet, I wasn't about to leave it on the rack for that price! 

So there you have it: I not only embraced color with one outfit, but I didn't have to buy a new dress.  Instead, I have two classic, colorful, pieces to keep in my closet to wear time and time again.

What do you think: yay or nay on ditching the dress decision for a work holiday party?  What is everyone else wearing for their big holiday party? 

J. Crew Factory is offering an additional 40% off all prices today, plus free shipping on all orders over $50! Use code: HOLIDAY when checking out.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day of Silence

For more information go to Kelly's Korner.

To donate to the United Way of Western Connecticut please go here:

To donate to the Newton Youth & Family services please go here: 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Tree Bokeh

I was in a mood for some much needed Christmas cheer over the weekend and I decided to play around with a few of my favorite loves in order to brighten my mood.  It took my new Canon Mark 5DII, my old Canon f/1.4 50mm lens, a few old holiday candles, a supportive husband, a flashlight, and a brightly lit Christmas tree to put me in the Christmas mood for a few moments. 

Take that CNN. 

All of these photos below were taken at night and the only light source in the room was a lit up Christmas tree.  I then turned on the dining room light, which is the room behind the living room to add a bit of light to the foreground. I love holiday bokeh photos and I can't wait to take more next weekend when it's actually daylight out.  

Exposure 1/40, Aperture f/1.4

I know my Santa candle is looking a bit rough, but he's a candle and it's normal for him to look a tad bit frayed after a few years.  I should probably take a marker and fix his gloves, but I never seem to remember to do that!  Santa was propped up on my coffee table for this photo, the living room light was off, and the dining room light behind me was turned on to throw a little bit of light onto Santa.

Exposure 1/50, Aperture f/2.8

I love that changing up the aperture gives the bokeh on the Christmas tree a different feel.  

Exposure 1/50, Aperture f/2.8

On the photo above the hubs actually stood slightly behind me and lit up Santa with light from a flashlight.  All of the other lights were off in the house, which helped pick up the reflection of the tree lights on the tray around Santa's feet.  One more piece of anecdotal evidence that the hubs embraces my crazy. 

Exposure 1/40, Aperture f/1.4

Next year when I decorate my Christmas tree I'm going to remember to step back once the lights are on and take a photo like this.  I think it'll help me with my light placement! Although in every picture I took of the tree the lights look completely different.

Any other tips or tricks I should know about when it comes to holiday bokeh photos?  Anyone else playing around with all of the pretty lights that are present this time of year?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gift Guide: Buy American for $50 (or less!)

Warning:  The blogosphere is completely over saturated with gift guides at the moment.  Of course that meant I had throw in my own two cents, but I went with a slightly different selection of holiday gifts.  

First up, I've made in known before but buying goods that are manufactured right here in the United States of America is important to me.  However, I do fully acknowledge that yes buying American made goods can cost quite a bit more.  I also know that we humans are creatures of habits and some of us like to shop in certain stores and we're not going to give up our favorite stores anytime soon.  I'm right there with you and that's why I put together a list of American made gift ideas that are less than $50 each and many of these can be found at your big-name box stores. 

Fox River Red Heel Products Original Sock Monkey Kit ($28) - Who doesn't love the sock monkey?  This could be a ridiculously cute parent/child weekend craft project.

House of Harlow ZigZag Stacking Ring ($35) This is an amazing vintage looking piece and if you're a celeb crushing individual, then anything by Nicole Ritchie is a solid choice.

New York Hat Company Herringbone Camp Cap ($29) -  This hat had me at herringbone.  Made out of wood flannel and from the state of New York? What's not to love. Buy it for the man in your life and then steal borrow it over and over again.

L.L. Bean Snow Castle/Snowball Maker Set ($30) - Confession: my nephew received this set last year as a present as a gift and I thought, "who needs a snowball set? It's called use your hands kids.  Yuppy kids running over the world." Then, I remembered back to my childhood and I remembered all of those memories of frozen and wet hands while playing in the snow.  I could have won a few more snowball fights if my hands weren't frozen!  Yes, I'm almost 30 and I want one of these.

Brooks Essential Low Tab 2 pack ($16) - Yes, you read that right these are $8 a pair running socks.  Running socks are pricey, however, if you have a runner in your circle of friends buy them socks as a stocking stuffer.  High quality running socks can make a run because blisters are a runners worst nightmare. Plus, they come in a ton of fun colors! I own more than one pair of these babies and they're worth every penny (that's how I know they're made in the USA even though the website doesn't make it clear).

Crate & Barrel Reversible Double Griddle ($50) - If you can't figure out what to cook on this thing then we need to have a talk.  It's cast aluminum and you know it's going to last. Weekend brunches never tasted so good.

Hanky Panky Low Rise Thongs ($20) - Many times when garments are stamped, "Made in the USA" they say, "Made in the USA out of imported fabrics."  Not Hanky Panky.  The materials that make up their signature lace is knitted right here in the states.  The colors and patterns are constantly changing and that's a good thing.

L.L. Bean Trailblazer XR Headlamp ($39) - Not just for hiking! Running and walking the dog at night just became safer with this bad boy.  Lights that are made in the USA tend to be very expensive, so this little headlamp is a steal.

Nordic Ware 12-Cup Muffin Man ($21.50) - This wouldn't be a made in the USA list without something from Nordic Ware.  This fine company makes my favorite baking tools.  I'm obsessed with their pans and I've never had a cake or muffin stick to the pan!

Anthropologie Celestial Coaster Set ($32) - As a person who now cares about the current state of her furniture I can't overstate how important coasters are in my life! Yet, there are times in life where I don't want the generic run-of-the-mill coaster set.  Pick one of nine different clay coaster sets and you'll always remember to use a coaster.

Beckel Canvas Products Handi Bag ($45) - Seriously, the name says it all.  Weekends farmer's markets or day trips these bags have got you covered. You might be able to pull off that sailor's outfit you've been secretly planning with this bag.

Restoration Hardware Whiskey Stones ($18) -  Real men drink whiskey.  True story.  The last thing anyone wants is watered down whiskey. I'm a whiskey drinking gal and I know watered down whiskey is disgusting.  Pop these soapstones from America's oldest soapstone mill in the freezer and add to your beverage of choice for a cold beverage that's not watered down.

J. Crew Geometric Dot Silk-Wool Tie ($50) -  Look I'm obsessed with J. Crew, but most of what I find in the store isn't made in the USA. This tie is made in NYC's Long Island City and it's adorable.  It's the tie equivalent of a women's LBD.  Every guy should own a patterned dark blue tie.

Kenneth Jay Lane Golden Clip Hoop Earrings ($45) - I don't even like yellow gold and I love these.  I know a lot of Kenneth Jay Lane pieces are pricey, but these earrings are wardrobe staples and they're on sale!  They're larger than the average hoop of this weight and that's makes them an even better buy.

Final Thoughts: I could have thrown out a ton of little indie shops and amazing Etsy finds to highlight the independent spirit of American made products, but I know people always think, "it's so hard to find American made goods where I shop."

Sorry, I don't believe that for a second.  Nordic Ware sells their bakeware at Target, Macy's, Crate & Barrel, Home Goods, etc.  American made goods might not be everywhere you look, but if you do look you're bound to find some.

I'm proud that it is headline news that Apple is going to build a line of their computers in the USA.  I know my iMac wasn't made in the USA, but I'm happy to know that she has cousins that will be made here.  American consumers are using their dollars and demanding that more products be made in America.

I'll gladly be opening my wallet for them.

Any other made in the USA gift finds I need to keep an eye out for this holiday season? What are your favorite American made products?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fighting off the fog with soup

A heavy layer of fog has descended on the Baltimore/DC area and it doesn't appear to be lifting any time soon.  That meant Sunday was prime weather for cooking a massive pot of soup.  I don't know what it is about soup, but it's the ultimate comfort food and when the weather is crummy it just calls for a fresh pot of soup. 

The hubs and I follow a pretty standard soup recipe: carrots, celery, garlic, chicken, wide egg noodles, chicken broth, evaporated milk, and a host of spices.  However, our secret ingredient is a large allotment of potatoes.   

I think we added about five cups of potatoes to the soup before it was said and done.  I'm a sucker for using red potatoes because I love their skins.  They can get a bit mushy when cooked for a long time, so in order to combat that I tend to keep the chunks slightly on the larger size. 

Mmmmm, soup.  Even though this is my go to standard soup recipe I'm looking to add more color to it. Any suggestions?

Okay, I lied, the greatest thing in the world isn't homemade soup.  Rather, it's leftover homemade soup!  Looks like I don't have to make lunch for a few days and that means not only do I have tasty soup leftovers, but I also don't have to think about making lunch for a few days.  That's a win/win in my book!

What is your go-to soup recipe?  The hubs and I are kind of "throw everything in but the kitchen sink" soup people, but somehow this is our staple recipe.  I'm not really sure it can be called a recipe because it's more of "these give carrots looked amazing at the grocery store," and that's what we throw in the pot! There's not a lot of measuring involved. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Line Entertainment Center Shelves with Wrapping Paper: Why didn't I think of this sooner?

There are a few adjectives I want to be used to describe my ideal holiday/seasonal decorating ideas:
- quick
- easy
- inexpensive
- awesome

I am very happy to report that this quick makeover of my Ikea Hemnes Entertainment system met all of my decorating requirements. All I did was add festive Christmas wrapping paper to the backs of the entertainment center to provide a backdrop for my holiday decorating.

Last Sunday I decided that I wanted to make over my old entertainment center for the holidays.  Now, our house has a very large woodstove and mantle, which would be the perfect area to decorate for the holidays except that they're located in the mancave. I haven't fought the battle too hard to decorate the mancave because I like to win and I don't think that's a battle I can win.

That leaves me with the front living room to decorate.  It has plain beige walls, beige carpet, and absolutely nothing hung on the walls.  Which means it was primed for some color! 

Like so many other Pinterest users I had repinned the many incarnations of the built-ins adorned with fabric or paint. I especially loved Courtney's, of A Thoughtful Place, simple black and white fabric for her white built-ins.  I thought for the holiday season I was looking for something even easier to do. 

This is what I started with.  Yes, the white balance was a bit off.  I actually took this right as the sun was going down and the warm haze was bouncing off my windows like crazy.  

For materials I used old moving boxes that had been piled up in my basement for far too long, a box cutter, large square, measuring tape, scissors, clear tape, and wrapping paper.  I quickly measured the insides of my entertainment center's shelves and wrote down how many I needed of each size. Since my shelves had minor differences in the sizes I wrote down numbers on each piece of cardboard so I knew where it went after it was wrapped. 

Cutting the cardboard boxes down to size actually took the most time for this project.  Thankfully my hubs was cleaning up our basement and since I said I was going to use up leftover boxes he was more than happy to flatten them and quarter them for me.  That's love! 

I was pretty lucky that two of my cardboard pieces fit vertically on my wrapping paper. I'm not going to lie, but I didn't measure the cardboard out before I bought the wrapping paper so I definitely lucked out going with the taller 2yd wrapping paper roll. In the future I'll only buy the taller 2yd rolls to ensure I maximize the cardboard size I need for this project to the wrapping paper roll. 

Wrap the fronts of each piece of cardboard.  Peace of cake.  I cut the wrapping paper and wrapped the cardboard pieces on the hubs's poker table during an afternoon of Sunday football.  There was definitely beer present, which confirms how easy this project was to do! 


After the cardboard pieces were wrapped I just slid them into place on my shelves.  Each shelf on the Hemnes bookshelves is supported by a little metal peg.  I was able to remove each shelf and slide the cardboard pieces behind that peg.  That ensured that the cardboard pieces didn't fall forward. 

I'm kind of a crazy person, but all the right tower's pieces came from the top half of my wrapping paper roll and the left tower's pieces came from the bottom half of my wrapping paper roll.  I did that to ensure that the lines of dots matched up and were square to the best extent possible. 

Yes, I'm married to an engineer and I knew it would have bugged him (and then me) if things weren't squared! I fully admit that the next time I do this I'm going with a more abstract paper that way I don't have to worry about things being square. 

I actually bought my wrapping paper on Black Friday for less than $2 a roll.  That was the only cost for this project because the rest of the materials were already on hand. 

Now that I have the cardboard pieces already cut up I think I'm going to constantly change up the wrapping paper on the back of my entertainment center's shelves for quick and easy seasonal decorating.  I know I'm going to turn into that person who buys pretty wrapping paper all the time.  I'm already eyeing up a matte pattern for late winter. 

I can't wait to break out the rest of my Christmas decorations and decorate this weekend.  We're putting our tree up and I'm so excited to listen to Christmas music while decorating!

What do you do to decorate for the holidays? Anyone else use wrapping paper to decorate? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

This Happened: Canon Mark 5DII

Those of you who follow me on Instagram were inundated with camera gear related pictures last week.  I apologize for that, but I'm not sorry about posting about my new Canon.  I'm completely smitten and people do crazy things when they're in love... especially with a piece of equipment. 

To sum up, "say hello to my little friend!" No, not the other Old Navy polka dot sweater, but the camera! I know it's a bit crazy to buy a camera that launched in 2008, but the Canon 5DII is that good of a camera.  Honestly, I didn't think I would make the jump up to a full-frame camera so quickly.  I thought my next camera body would be the Canon 7D or maybe even the new Canon 6D, but certainly not the 5DII.  Then, the new Canon Mark 5DIII came out over the summer and the price of the 5DII naturally dropped quite a bit.

Then, on Cyber Monday all of the 5DIIs were on sale for $1699. 

That price significantly changed things.  That meant that the 5DII was only $100 more than the 7D I had been eyeing up for quite some time.  Adorama had a package deal on Cyber Monday on a 5DII that included an extra battery, 8GB CF memory card, camera bag, and a battery grip for $1699*.  Throw in zero sales tax and cash back through Ebates and I was good to go.   

Best thing I love about this bad boy - it doesn't come with a pop-up flash!  That means no flash photography for me because I do not have the funds to buy one! 

If anyone was curious - the hubs told me to buy it! Seriously.  Best.Christmas.NewYear's.Valentine'sDay.President'sDay.Easter.MemorialDay.FirstBornChild.Gift.Ever.

Excuse me while I go practice focusing on a sprinting dog. I know some people would say that the 7D would have been a better camera for that activity, but I had the chance to go for a full frame camera and I took it. 

Anyone else getting a new camera for the holidays?  What are you getting?  Are you like me and already opened that bad boy up? In my defense I had to make sure it worked properly! 

*For some reason the price shows up as $1799 for this package on Adorama, but the price sometimes drops to  $1699 in your cart. I had to add it and remove it a few times to get the $1699 price.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Through Sickness and In Health

The hubs and I have been blessed, for the most part, with solid health.  We eat fairly healthy, exercise like crazy, and wear sunscreen like it's our day jobs.  In the eleven years that we've known each other I think the biggest health scare for him was an emergency root canal and for me it was a nasty bout of mono.  Both of those incidents happened in college and since then we've been very lucky with our health.  We're eternally grateful for our health because we know not everyone is as lucky and we know that something could happen at any moment to change things.

The hubs was plagued with a sore shoulder for most of the summer.  Granted, it was because he was still pitching on his baseball team even though we both decided that he shouldn't pitch because his arm just couldn't handle the wear and tear anymore.  Seriously dude, the time of your life when you were named among Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects is in the past.  Getting older sucks, but it's a part of life.

He did what 99% of guys do - he kept pitching through the pain.  I wish I could say I didn't understand the mentality of guys when they do things like that, but I'd be completely lying because I'm the same way.  We both figured that his arm would hurt less after the season ended and whatever was ailing him would heal itself.

Well, it didn't.  The hubs is normally the star player on our recreational dodgeball team, but he had to take himself off the team after one game.  The pain was unbearable and finally the hubs went to a orthopedic surgeon to get checked out.

Initially he was diagnosed with severe tendonitis and put on a motrin diet for three weeks.  The tendons in his shoulder were so swollen that his Xray results were inconclusive and worse his should was being pushed slightly out of the socket due to the intense swelling.  No wonder his arm hurt!

Three weeks later he went in for his checkup and was told that the swelling had come down slightly, but it still wasn't down enough to see if anything was torn.  Next up was a cortisone injection and three more weeks of stretching and playing the waiting game.

Finally, the swelling had subsided to a point where an MRI could be done.

On Thursday the hubs had his follow-up appoint with his doctor to go over the MRI.  In the word's of a health care professional the hubs is, "an idiot."  He should have never continued to throw this summer.

He tore his rotator cuff.  No wait, he put a 2.5 cm tear in his rotator cuff and tore through 60% of it.

He tore his labium, which is a tendon in his shoulder.

He has a benign cyst on his shoulder bone that means his doctor will have to use more anchor screws to secure his tendons.

Not only did the hubs do serious damage to his arm, his doctor told him that it was the easiest diagnosis of the day, "In order to regain full function of your arm you need to have surgery."

When I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis I thought to myself, "okay, this sucks, but if it only hurts when I'm running I can give up running and live a happy life."  The hubs isn't just having surgery so he can continue to throw a baseball, he's having surgery so he can regain function of his arm.

That phrase scared the living daylights out of me.

"In order to regain full function of your arm you need to have surgery."

As in without surgery the hubs will continue to experience pain anytime he lifts his arm over his head or rotates his arm.  That means he won't be able to climb a ladder, swing an axe, use a sledgehammer, put a kid on his shoulders, play fetch with our dogs, etc.

That is not happy life for him.  At some point I think the hubs would understand and eventually be okay with not being able to play baseball again, but he'd never be okay with giving up everything else.

I'm totally willing to give up my dreams of recreating the lift scene from Dirty Dancing, but I am not giving up the daily joy that is having the hubs toss things around.  We like to play catch outside when we BBQ or even if the weather is just nice.

Thankfully the surgery that will repair his arm has a 90% success rate.

The downside is it is going to be 6-7 months before the hubs is even allowed to touch a ball (baseball, football, tennis ball, basketball, etc.).  We're also looking at 1-2 weeks where his arm has to be completely immobilized immediately following his surgery.

At this moment in time all marathon training and major home renovations are put on hold.  I can't train for a long distance race because when I'm in training mode the hubs does everything around the house. He walks the dogs, he cooks dinner, and generally keeps our house from looking like it was tossed by a police unit. Those are things he does with his right arm.  He can't walk both dogs without using his right arm.  He won't be able to vacuum the upper trim in our house or the tops of the ceiling fans because he has to have his arm over his head to do so.

We had really hoped to begin our kitchen renovation in the early spring, but we're not doing that until the hubs can take the ceremonial first swing at the cabinets and walls with a sledgehammer.

So we're in a little weird place where things are put on hold.  It's okay, we've got nothing but time and his health and well-being are the most important things in the world.  We've got this.

Anyone have any tips they want to share for recovering from surgery? We're already been told that the hubs should drink lots of water in the days leading up to his surgery to make it easier to put in an IV.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Back to Basics

Dress: DVF  (better representation of its true colors here)  // Blazer: Ann Taylor // Shoes: Cole Haan // Laptop Bag: Target // Bracelet: Derng // Watch: Citizens Eco-Drive

Sometimes it's refreshing to skip the statement necklaces, the neon accents, the arm parties, and all of the other accessories and just put on a simple dress and walk out the door. I'm so happy I stumbled upon this dress over the summer at Newbury and Smith consignment store in Baltimore.  Let's be honest, I would have never paid over $300 for a dress, but I got it for $100 and it still had the tags on it! 

I realize that indoor pictures suck and hope to avoid them at all costs.  However, available daylight is slim to none in my home life these days.  Any tips for indoor photos? 

Yup, tried to take a picture with the pups and Jax ended up sprinting out of the shot and sliding across the dining room floor.  That's the reason I have a big ol' grin on my face and Jewels has a, "what the heck is wrong with him" stare on her face. I've also got to give a big round of thanks to my awesome hubs for putting up with my, "hey, I brushed my hair today and look somewhat decent. Can you take a picture of my outfit?" while making dinner.  Gotta love a man who can multi-task!