February 22, 2013

i love tv

(Lady Mary of Downton Abbey.  Can't even talk about how beautiful that dress was)

It's Oscar weekend.

I've been a watcher and admirer of the Oscars since I was small.

But can I tell you a secret...

I think TV blew movies completely out of the water this year.

There was so much more drama and tension and joy and in just an hour or two of the small screen than in the entire movie season this year.

So, while I will, of course, watch on Sunday night, the awards, the fashion, the over the top pomp and circumstance, it won't really have the same thrill as this last week in TV had.

February sweeps 2013.
oooh, my.  I can't even...
It was brutal this year.
It was fan-tastic this year.
Some of the best TV I have seen in years.
Hearbreaking, shattering, and just plain GOOD.
In the last week alone, 4 characters have died on 4 of the TV shows I watch.
(the plethora of zombie deaths don't count, obviously, but that head in the car-trunk...wow.)
While my poor imagination is suffering from the loss of beloved characters,
I'm secretly enjoying every last minute of it.

Sorry, Mom.
You tried to curb my TV addiction for years as I was growing up.
But try as you did, I'm hopeless.
I love TV.

Thank you,
The Good Wife
The Walking Dead
Downton Abbey
Vampire Diaries
Grey's Anatomy
for some of the best TV all year in just one week.

Take that, movies.
You have long way to go before you can fill those shoes.

February 20, 2013

Creative mind

Last night I spent a good, long time curled up next to my little electric heater finishing up the book Grace: A Memoir.  I heard that it was coming out a few months ago and instantly put it on my "holds" list at the library.  While it wasn't one of the best memoirs I've ever read (read Lucille Ball's Love, Lucy, if you want a spectacular one), I really enjoyed hearing from/about one of the most creative minds in fashion today.

I came to love Grace's work years ago, before I even recognized that it was her name stamped on it.  I would occasionally flip through a Vogue magazine in the grocery store line or the library and would be stopped dead in my tracks by one of the spreads.  The image would be burned into my brain for weeks/years.  Occasionally, I would buy an issue because the photos were just too spectacular and I would have to have a copy to stare at myself for a while (this was before the wonder of Pinterest).

Then I heard about The September Issue.  A documentary?  About a fashion magazine?  Yes, please.  I watched it and like almost everyone else that watched it, I was captivated by Grace Coddington. And it was then that I realized that she was behind all of those fashion spreads that I had been saving and bookmarking and filing away in my head as inspiration.  (ps...The September Issue is fantastic.  You should watch it.)

Anyway, interesting book.  Fascinating, creative mind.  And she's 70 years old and still working like mad at Vogue.  Pretty amazing, huh? Pretty amazing.

Here are just a few of those images that will be burned into my mind forever...


(I've been completely entranced by this one lately.  The light.  The tones.  The movement.)

***all images (except top one) are from Vogue found via Pinterest.  

February 14, 2013

hearts...and more hearts

This year, I had to urge to add some hearts to the little cottage for Valentine's Day.  I spotted these origami hearts when I was blog hopping a few weeks ago.  They are super easy and quick.  I made a bunch while watching TV over the next few days/weeks.  The other night, I was going to hang them up as garland, but changed my mind and taped them up on the wall in our kitchen.

Supplies:  an old Vogue magazine, glue stick, painters tape to stick them to the wall.  All items that I had at home, so basically free!

I made a few cards too.  These little hearts were too cute not to share.

Supplies:  cardstock, old Vogue magazine, glue stick, double sided tape, stamps, ink pad.  All found in my closet, so basically free! 

Happy Valentine's Day to you all!

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights."
-Psalm 36:7-8

February 06, 2013

lots of photography babble

(antique shopping treasure bought last month while visiting my sister.  photo taken with my iPhone)

After a year of using my iPhone as my main camera,
I have found a few tried-and-true photo apps that are my favorites.
These are the ones that are the most frequently used.
The ones that are my "go-to's"

If' you don't take photos with your iPhone,
you can skip this post.
Truly, I won't even know.

However, I always really appreciate when other share what works for them,
and what is worth their hard earned cash.
So, I am writing a list of the apps that I can't live without.
(okay, I can live without them.  that's a slight over-statement.)

1. Instagram
This is probably my favorite one of out all the apps on my phone, not just the photography apps.  I check it way too many times a day.  It gets used A LOT.
What I like: You can choose who you want to follow, so your feed is only filled with people that you want to see photos from.  It has a great selection of filters that are included.  Comments to and from fellow users. Very user friendly.
What I don't like: Not much.  Most of the recent updates have improved the most frustrating things.
Cost: Free

2.  Afterglow
My favorite editing app at the moment.  Most of my recent photos on Instagram have been edited with this one.
What I like: So many options for filters, sizing, editing, uploading and fun shapes too.  You can keep a photo as a rectangle and upload it to Instagram with white borders.  The filters are adjustable, which is the biggest perk since most apps don't have this option. There are lots of filters made by amazing photographers.  The "Russ" filter is my favorite.  It was made by one of my very favorite photographers ever.
What I don't like: There isn't an undo button if you just want to go back one step.  If you don't like something, you have to start all over again.
Cost: $ .99

Until Afterglow was released in late 2012, this was my favorite editing app.  In fact, I stopped using Instagram filters the day this app was released in the middle of last summer.  The tones in the filters are beautiful.
What I like: The black and white filters are the best of any app I've used.  Color filter #5.    The FILL adjustment for light.  It's the best.  It's light handed and doesn't make your photos look too processed.
What I don't like: It's slow.  Saving and uploading takes a long time.  It also saves all the photos you edit in the app itself.  Seems like a waste of space.  The filters are not adjustable.  Many of the filters are quite dark, so unless you have a very well lit photo, you will have to crank up the exposure a bit.
Cost: $ .99

4.  Diptic
I tried quite a few collage apps.  Most of them were free (and I think this one was too, when I got it a while ago) and I got what a I paid for.  This is the one I kept coming back to.
What I like:  You can adjust just about every aspect of the collage at any point.  The photos, the boarders, the width of the borders, the color.  And there are so many SO MANY different shapes and sizes to choose from.  There are also options for the size of the file you save it as. No adds!
What I don't like:  Not much.  It's pretty fantastic at making collages.
Cost: $ .99 (Picture Frames Free is a decent free alternative)

5.  Squaready
Before Afterglow, this was how I got my rectangle photos uploaded into Instagram with white borders.
What I like: Easy to use. You can manipulate your photo in lots of different ways to get the framing you want.  I still use it to crop my photos because it can be so precise.  You can upload directly to Instagram.
What I don't like: The adds.  But hey, it's free!
Cost: Free

6.  Phonto
I used this app to add text to all of my #campsummer14 photos.
What I like:  Using more than one type of font on a photo.  Changing the size, shape, position, transparency, color and a bunch of other attributes of the text is easy.  User friendly from the beginning.
What I don't like: Wish it had more fonts.  Add, but again, it's free.
Cost: Free

7. Flickr
This wouldn't have even made the list until a few months ago when Flickr did a major overhaul to their app.  I actually used a second party app to upload to Flickr because it was so bad.  But now...it's a night and day difference.  They've added on filters too, but I haven't used them yet because of my love of Afterglow and VSCO CAM.
What I like:  So easy to upload multiple photos to my Flickr account (where I upload all my photos that I use on my blog).  You can even add them to sets and add titles and tags, etc.
What I don't like:  The upgrades have taken away all my complaints.
Cost: Free

Honorable Mention:
Postal Pix (print out your photos straight from your phone.  Ridiculously easy and convenient   Quality is not perfect, but good enough.  App is free.  Photos are a little pricey, but the convenience of not having to upload to other places or go to the store, it's not that bad.)

Postagram (Send a postcard with your iPhone photos.  I used this to send my parent a thank you note after a trip we took.  It was so easy and the quality was fine.  Love that the photo pops out for the receiver to keep if they wish. App is free.  Postcards are $1.)

Fotomecha (Got this when it was offered for free and was kinda shocked at how great it actually was. It takes rapid-fire photos.  You can change so many of the settings, which makes it all sorts of awesome. App is $1.99)

TimerCam (It's a timer for your iPhone camera.  Simple.  Easy to use.  Does what it's supposed to do.  App is free.)

If you are iPhone camera obsessed as well, what are your favorite apps?
Do you constantly have to download your photos because your phone is full like me?

February 05, 2013

the year-long goal

One of my new goals for 2013 is to read the Bible through in a year.  I've done it before, but I think the last time was in college.  Senior year of college.  That's a long time ago now. Ah-hem....

As 2012 was ending, I was praying about my goals for the year.  Then I read this article when it popped up in my Twitter feed.  (ps...Mark Driscoll's feed is so encouraging, challenging and inspiring to me on a daily basis)  Kinda humbling to know that a high schooler has a more in-depth reading plan that I do.  Shameful.

Anyway, I really felt like the Lord was impressing upon me to read the entire Bible again this year.  Usually I just focus on a book at a time and re-read it over and over until the Lord tells me to move on to another one.  I still love this way of being in the Word, but excited for a challenge too.  Last year taught me that having goals, goals that specifically challenge me, are really good for my OCD nature.  This was exactly what I needed.

Instead of using a piece of paper in my Bible that I check off with a pen each day (so antiquated!), I am using the ESV Study Bible Plan on my iPhone. (There is also a PDF version.)  I love, love, love the convenience of having in my hand all day.  My schedule (which is turning in to a wonderful habit now that I'm 35 days into this plan) is to read half in the morning and half in the evening.  Usually, I read the morning half while I'm still in bed.  Just woken up. I love having scripture the first thing I focus on in the morning.  And I've always done my quiet time at night.  Started this in high school and it just stuck.

Now, sometimes, this perfect schedule doesn't work, so I will read during the day when I have a chance.  Bonus of having it on my iPhone.  At the DMV, waiting in line.  On a break from work.  Out at a coffee shop or the library.  The whole point is that I want it be a habit.  I want it to feel "off" when I don't do it every day.  I'm one of those people that does well with self-inflicted goals.  But I need to goal to motivate me.

This isn't the only way I'm reading the Word.  I'm still involved in Bible studies and other areas that have me focusing on specific passages of scripture.  But this is my personal challenge and one that I am loving.  More Bible in my day?  That certainly can't be bad thing!

What is your Bible reading plan?
Are you following one, or discouraged in your quiet time right now?
Let me encourage you that I have been there!
Jump in a find a plan that works for you.
Be in the Word.
It's important.
It should be every day.
And it will be life changing!

February 01, 2013

365 complete

I finished my 365 project on January 15, 2013.
Actually it was a 366 because it was a leap year, so 3 cheers for an extra day!
And not only did I finish my 366, but I completed each and every single day.
Didn't miss once.

My goal was to take one photo every day with my iPhone and then post it to Instagram.
It was a lofty goal and one that I was nervous about completing.
However, about a month in, I was hooked.
I loved how easy it was to do with my iPhone.
(the main reason I wanted an iPhone in the first place was for the camera.  true story)
Now, that isn't to say that some days it wasn't a chore.
There were a few days when it felt hard and there was no inspiration.
But those days were few and far between.

(taken with Fotomecha app, which I stumbled upon when it was offered for free.  Totally worth $1.99 though.  It's well designed and easy to use and takes great shots!  The kids were jumping up and down the entire time I took this, and I purposely made them partially blurry to capture the movement.)

And now, I have an entire year's worth of photos.
A visual journal of life for the year 2012.
I can flip through it on Instagram any time I want.
And I will probably print them out in a Blurb book eventually.

I did take a ridiculous amount of photos of the water that is in my backyard.
But truth be told, I stare at it several times a day in wonder, even if I don't take a photo.
So, I guess it is just a snapshot of my daily life.

I ordered several sets of StickyGrams through out the year which now stick to my kitchen wall (it's magnetic).
I was reminded how amazing it was to have my photos in printed form.
(something I haven't done in years)
Little snippets on the wall that catch my eye when I walk by.
I wouldn't have any of these magnets without my 365 challenge and the hundreds of photos to choose from.

And then there are favorite (or at least a few of them cause I have too many favorites) photos that I just can't get enough of.

1. Hillsong concert 2. the river at sunset  3. Color explosion at the Color Run  4. My grandfather's old Polariod Land Camera and my first time using VSCO cam  5. The neighbors lily pond with a perfect ray of sunlight 6. Another sunset  7. Me and The Bro playing with the mirror lined escalator at the National Aquarium  8.  Jefferson Memorial during the Cherry Blossoms  9. Sledding with the family at my sister's over the holidays

It was an amazing challenge.
One that I haven't totally given up on because I've still been posting every day.
It has become a habit.
A habit I hope to keep.

This past year was a great year for making (and keeping!) goals.
I already have one or two lined up for this year.
Practical, challenging and fun too.
And I must say that completing this goal was a highlight of my year.

What about you?
Any goals that you have for 2013?
Are you keeping up with them?