Monday, August 23, 2010

Picture Taking - Any Advice?

Last night we had a break in the 100 degree humid weather so I finally got outside and took a few shots of blooms of my Hibiscus. I've wanted one of these for years but was finally inspired to get one when I got a huge, beautiful planter for Christmas. Hibiscus doesn't make it in Virginia winters so it has to be brought in to survive.
I've been trying to learn to take better shots with my point and shoot Kodak Easy Share (C703 I think), but I think I'm realizing that it is just a bad, old camera (even though it's only about 3-4 years old). I'm no photographer but I'm trying to take more artistic, better shots.
I played with the settings and here is what came out best. It was an overcast day and between 6:30-7:00 pm.
This was with a flash, standard mode, auto lighting.

Here is no flash, close-up or portrait (under the scene option) mode (couldn't tell the difference between the 2), auto lighting.

It doesn't look like I can take a really, really close up picture for really fine detail using this camera. (I was trying to capture that middle thingy, but instead got a good shot of my outdoor chair cushion.)

Here are a few shots playing with the white balance (lighting), changing from auto to Tungsten and using no flash and portrait or close-up:

Finally, here I used Florescent under the white balance and again close-up or portrait. I really liked the way this came out.

I have no idea what the differences are between all the options. I really wish I could find a class on using your point and shoot crap camera.
I'm thinking I may need to upgrade the camera. I don't want/need to get into a really expensive totally manual thing w/lenses and such. I would be interested to know if my camera could do the following OR if there is a digital point and shoot that would be able to do these things:
1) focus on a really, really up-close detail
2) take shots faster (I miss A LOT. I'll shoot and what shows up as the picture is in no way what I was trying to capture on motion shots that is)
3) have the focus on something really close while blurring the scene behind it
4) make a picture black and white while popping a color (I have a friend that has a little camera that does this but she said I may be able to do this with mine).
Help from anyone with knowledge or opinions on this would be so awesome. I know you're out there; I've seen enough great shots on other blogs to know!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Finding Fabulous at CSN Stores - Part Duex

Incidentally, it was completely unintentional to make this a 2-part ridiculousness. However, it's true when I said I was tired of shopping and I looked at so many pages on CSN that I had to close out of Explorer about 5 times during one of my explorations. (I think part of that was perhaps more like overwhelmed on the decision making process versus all the possibilities.) The other biggie was just not being very good at blog know-how (like positioning pictures).

SO, without further ado, on Thursday I took a stroll with refreshed eye, down the Lighting aisles. I think I found a new love for lamps and I definitely think that an entire room could be build around a beautiful lamp. Here are just a few of my findings.

Prices on the lamps above were: 1st row: $637.60, 368, 2nd row: $99, 164.70 & 3rd row: $558, 217.55

WOW. A lot of pricey lamps, but they are more like works of art. My favorites ended up being from Robert Abbey, Lite Source and LumiSource.

I also loved this one and if it had been in green I would have been in trouble, because at $191.40 each that's way out of the price range for bedside lamps.

Then I ran across this one and it is the very one I used in this moodboard. It's only $35.66 but since it is for a future room and really doesn't match anywhere in our house right now, I'll have to table it as a future purchase.

The price range for a lamp search ranged between $9 - 37, 814. Of course I had to see the lamp that costs as much as a car. Hmmm, definitely cool, but great enough to warrant that price tag? It must be the brand, but I don't know much about lamp brands. Shoes, now that's another story.

Once I looked at my office moodboard, a light went off in my head. I LOVE the look of a world globe in an office. I know we definitely will have this in a home office someday but there is definitely a place in our house NOW where we can put one (like in our current home office/guest room/everything room). So I did a search for globes under Decorative Items & Home Accents and JACKPOT. I probably spent over an hour researching all the choices that were available around the $40 gift certificate. However, since I was already in the home decor area because the globes reside there, I OF COURSE looked around in candles, vases, and all things home decor that make one happy!

Here were a few things of interest I found under Vases, Statues & Figurines, and Candles & Candle holders:

Kokoware bowl $58.65, Blomus candles, set of 3 $61.01

Zodax Medium, Set of 2 $49 (add the small set of 2 and large set of 2 pictured for $39 & $59, respectively.) I guess if you wanted the look in the picture and had a friend that liked them also, y'all could order them and split them...

LazySusan Prickly Eggs, $32 small, $64 medium, $80 large (I do LOVE these but that's quite a price tag if you purchase all 3!)

There are so many great home decor items out there, but I narrowed down a few names that kept popping up in the various departments that had really cool style: LazySusan, Kokoware, Blomus, ZACK, Zodax and CAKE to name a few. Why name any? Because with over 1000 choices for candles, figurines and vases and over 600 choices for decorative bowls, you should narrow it down somehow!

As I realigned my focus to the globes that I originally went searching for, imagine my excitement when CSN had a whole aisle dedicated to just globes, all 327 of them with prices ranging from $5 to $8089! I knew I wanted it to be larger than 10" and I knew I did not want one that stands on the floor. I also knew I wanted one that had a metal or wood stand and axis, no plastic here.

For S#*ts & Giggles, here is the $8089 version which measures like a medium sized desk and weighs in at 65 lbs!

At first I really wanted one that is tan in color and this one fit the bill coming in at 12" and costing $48.99.

But when I found this one I knew I could live with the blue. This one has the metal stand, 12" diameter, rings in at $52.25, but also illuminates in the dark to show the celestial skies. That may sound random & corny to some, but my husband is into constellations and the solar system and even has a high-powered telescope which will no doubt be part of the future office decor. {Sidenote: Don't go classifying him as 'dork' b/c he was an ultimate frisbee player in college. Yes, the opposite side of the spectrum from dork!}

Whew! After weeks and days of shopping, I have finally found my treasure. I've ordered the Celestial Globe for our home office. When I came up with my office moodboard, I did start shopping around for globes. I found them easily enough at Walmart, Homegoods and even one on Craigslist. They were all in the $30+ range. So for $12.25 ($52.25 - $40 gift cert), I definitely got the best deal around!

Also, since I HATE paying shipping, I theorized that the $9.99 that I would have paid in shipping (free ship starts at $69) could go towards the 18-piece Pyrex Storage set that I mentioned in Part 1 of this post. Those are $29.99, less the $9.99 saved on shipping, so I'm essesntially paying $20 for something I would eventually buy anyway (and I don't have to waste my time going to buy them). To further justify to myself the extra item in my cart, the current price on the 14-piece Pyrex set is $29.99 at our registry store. Therefore, I'm getting 2 more bowls and lids & saving $9.99!! Double Score.

So there you have it. A short story about shopping made into a very long mini-series story. But it was so much fun looking around the site. Thanks again to Sunny over at Life in Rehab and CSN Stores for the gift certificate. I really like the store and I'm sure I'll pop back over there for other house decorating items! If you haven't witnessed it enough through my TWO posts about it, it really is a one stop shopping experience.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Finding Fabulous at CSN Stores - Part 1

In the last few days (ok past 2 weeks) I have been shopping around CSN Store's website in an attempt to pick out something fabulous with my gift certificate, which you can read ALL about here and here. I thought about the current projects on my To-Do List and started at the very top. Go Big or Go Home, as they say.

I REALLY want to update our bedroom so I looked at bedding and found these.

Our bedroom is Laura Ashley Olive (4 with 3 & 5 on mantel and ceiling trim) and our bathroom is Behr Chocolate Cupcake. Either of these would perfectly update our bedroom which currently has purple hydrangea bedding (a hand-me-down from my mom which used to coordinate with my purple bathroom). The husband moved into my house and we updated the bathroom to 'man it up' but haven't touched the bedroom except to update my 17" flatscreen to his 40" flatscreen. But I digress.... At $319 and $270 for the comforter, dust ruffle and shams alone, I better keep looking.

After I came back to my senses, I got a little more practical. I love neat & organized, so I went over to Storage & Organization and thought about having each one of these items in our house.
Our hamper sits in our bathroom for all to see.
Not a biggie but what if I made it match the room more? ($36.26)
Or what if I could get D to not only put his dirties in the hamper but sort them while he's at it! The Honey Can Do Folding Hamper for $19.99. Less work on me....

Hmm, both possibilities, but boring. I know.

Then I shifted my focus out of the master bed+bath and explored kitchen ideas. John & Sherry have some great space saving ideas when it comes to food storage. So I immediately thought of this post and #2 in this post when I saw the Zevro Triple Wall Mount Dispenser ($34.95) and thought this would be a fun and funky addition to our kitchen:

Then I focused on "What do we really need" and the canister thoughts disapated. D is recently concerned about using plastic in the mircowave and our rubbermaid sets are starting to look, well plain 'ol gross. (That was one of the few things we didn't get from our registry so they're all quite old.) So I found these glass storage containers, which would allow us to combine the storage container cabinet with the glass cookware/storage cabinet.
Pyrex 18 piece set ($29.95) Hmmm, definitely a possibility.
But these are oh so cute AND have a lid organizer. Fresh Keeper 31 piece food storage set ($25.53) I don't whole heartedly buy into the plastics and mircowave thing, so these could be a possibility as well.

I really want one of these. Not for me but for the prince of the house. Less work for me, yes, but not fun enough to even make the cut. In fact, somewhat unrelated to buying something for the home which was my very first inspiration when I started shopping. This shows at least how thorough I have been in looking around CSN and how easily I get off subject.

Two trips ago, our zipper on our suitcase broke. So don't think that I didn't take a stroll through the Luggage Department for some hip new luggage. But, I think American Tourister has a lifetime warranty. I just need to figure out how to work that. I also checked out the Shoes and the Handbags while I was there.

Mind you, all of my strolling took closer to 3 than 2 weeks. At some point you just get worn out and have to stop for the day (you know, to go home at the end of your WORK DAYS) and come back with a fresh eye. I took a break between Luggage, Shoes and Handbags and the Lighting Department and I'm very glad I did. I hope you will too.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which was totally unintentional. I don't think I've ever said it before and my mom would be in shock, but: "I'm really tired of shopping right now!"