Tag Archives: photos

Travel Review: Gulf Shores, Ala. (Part 1 of 3 – The Beach)

12 Jul

Gulf Shores, Alabama, is a summer tradition for our little household. My husband’s family has been vacationing together here for many years, and now that I’m part of the family I’m lucky to be part of the tradition.

While family is what draws us here, the appeal of the Gulf coast makes it a pleasure to come back year after year. Despite the fact that I am a native Floridian, I enjoy the beaches in Alabama for the slower pace, the friendly people and all the great Southern food.

I’ll review our trip in three parts: the beach, the eats and the rest. If you’re considering a Gulf Shores vacation, I hope they’re helpful.

The Beach is Back

The Gulf Coast is back! We made our annual visit despite the oil spill last summer, and the damage to the area’s natural beauty was heartbreaking. That makes the area’s recovery even more remarkable. The beach looks fresh and clean everywhere we went, and more importantly the crowds are back. New businesses are open, houses up and down the beach are full, fresh, local seafood was on the table and we even saw two weddings on the beach during our stay!

Check out the before and after photos below to see the beach’s transformation is just one year.

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DSLR photography, here we come!

19 May

When I was younger, I admit I was very much a stay-inside-of-my-comfort-zone type of gal. But I find that, as an adult, I actually relish trying new things, especially things I have no innate predisposition toward. There’s something about approaching an activity as a gleeful amateur that allows you to stay in the moment and silence your inner critic.

In that spirit, I think I’m going to take on a new project: learning how to photograph with a digital SLR camera.

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Pinterest Review

13 May

I’ve just discovered a new addictive time-suck inspiring creative tool, called Pinterest. If you spend a lot of time on the web, you may have already heard of it. (I know it’s been sweeping the blogs and message boards I frequent faster than you can say “viral.”)

But if you haven’t heard of it–or you’re just waiting to hear what all the fuss is really about–I’ll give you a quick review of my initial impressions.

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Three Totally “Worth-It” Splurges

19 Jan

I tend to be a pretty frugal person, always looking for ways to do more with less. However, I firmly believe that saving money and living within one’s means doesn’t have to be a joyless endeavor. You simply have to choose carefully to splurge on the things that matter and save on the things that don’t. This list is by no means comprehensive, but here are just a few treats that I think are worth the splurge.

Professional Photos

Capturing this tiny face? Priceless!

I haven’t actually invested in professional photos very often. Most of the time, we rely heavily on our little point and shoot camera. However, the two times I have hired a photographer–my wedding and, more recently, my son’s newborn portraits–the resulting images were so wonderful they’re truly priceless to me now. Almost three years after my wedding, I still look at the pictures all the time, and I’m sure that will be even more true of baby photos.

The good news is that professional photos can be affordable for any budget. The increasing popularity and affordability of digital photography means that customers have more choices than ever before when selecting a photographer. While packages of prints and albums is still the norm for many higher-end photographers and chain photo studios, many independent photographers are beginning to offer the option of purchasing the digital images on a CD, an affordable and convenient option for many families.

A Great Hair-Cut

For years, I refused to spend much, if anything, on hair styling, feeling it was an indulgence I couldn’t afford, but ever since I found a great, reliable hair stylist, I realize that the price of a good hair cut is well worth the money. For one, there’s no more tears over a botched hair-cut, like I used to get at the discount chain salons. Also, there’s so much more included in the experience: a shampoo and scalp massage, a relaxing spa-like environment, good quality hair products. A well-done cut also seems to grow out more nicely, helping me go longer between cuts without looking too shabby.

Finally and most importantly, the power of a haircut to change one’s image and increase one’s confidence is amazing. It’s no coincidence that on make-over shows, the haircut is one of the last steps in the makeover before the “big reveal.” The power of hair to change one’s image is so powerful that revealing the new hair for the first time really ups the “wow” factor. Putting that “wow” into your own life on a regular basis is a totally “worth-it” splurge.

A Good Beer

A bottle of Dom Perignon may set you back a Benjamin, but you can celebrate with a six-pack or 750 of high-quality craft beer for less than $20. The diverse and vibrant craft brewing community ensures that enjoying beer can be every bit as rich and rewarding as being an oenophile … all at an affordable price.

Readers, what is your favorite splurge item? What tips do you have for making your favorite indulgences more affordable?

The Big Reveal: Our Baby Boy’s “Modern Meadow” Nursery

28 Dec

It’s been both a challenge and a pleasure transforming our under-used second bedroom–or let’s be honest, our “junk room”–to a clean, cozy space for our baby boy. Thank you to everyone who has followed us from our initial brainstorming, to three rounds of mood boards, to painting, and now, finally, today’s big reveal.

From Mood Board to Reality

The mood board development process was actually a great tool for clarifying and refining our rough design ideas, so by the time we selected our final mood board, we had a pretty good idea of exactly what we wanted. However, there are always some small adjustments when you start putting actual furniture into an actual space, so, of course, we did make a few modifications.

The biggest surprise to us was how much the furniture we selected filled the room. We intentionally selected pieces that were space-efficient and small in scale to avoid over-crowding our petite nursery. Even so, we found that when everything else was in the room, we no longer had space for the side-table we had planned. We also made some tweaks to the original floor-plan, and we settled a few small details we hadn’t decided in the planning stages, for example, lighting and a diaper pail.

Although we finished painting nearly a month ago, it took a few weeks to do all the shopping, assembling, arranging and, most time-consuming of all, staging all the finishing touches to get the room picture-perfect. It was all worth it in the end, though. The nursery feels so clean, calm and cozy that just sitting in there for a few minutes makes me happy. It was nice to have such a welcoming space to bring our baby boy home to.

The Pictures

This first image is the view as you walk into the room from our hallway. We re-covered the guest-room futon we already owned with a suede-like brown microfiber cover to create a cozy sitting area for nursing, cuddling, story-time and, of course, napping while baby sleeps. When our little one outgrows the convertible crib/toddler bed, the futon will become a hip, multi-functional “big boy” bed.

The botanical prints, purchased from Etsy and framed in affordable Ikea frames, help carry the theme and color palette throughout the room in an affordable way. They’re simple and classic enough that if we decorate our son’s room someday down the road, I could see reusing them in another space.

Ikea’s ever-popular Expedit bookcase was just the right size to house baby’s first library, a few toys and mementos and some neat woven toy-boxes, without crowding or dominating the room.

To create a cozy but modern sleeping space, we paired Ikea’s minimalist Gulliver crib with select elements from the “Bunny Meadow” bedding collection. The mobile and other pieces bring just the right amount of cuteness without making the room too baby-ish.

We placed our relaxing Eames-style fiberglass rocker next to the crib both to create an easy transition from nursing to crib and to help carry the rich, brick red accent color throughout the room.

We also included Ikea’s sturdy Mandal dresser to provide a steady, roomy changing area, as well as ample storage for everything from diapers, to clothes, to bedding.

We hope you enjoyed going through the design process with us. I’ve attempted to link to as many of the furniture and decor items, as possible, in the text above, but if you have any questions about the room or any feedback you’d like to share, please drop us a note in the comments section. We would love to hear from you!