26 August 2009

And sometimes, even when it's sooooo cold, you just can't put down the pretty ice.

22 August 2009

In less than two hours this morning I managed to rummage through the belongings of 20 different families. That's got to be some kind of record, eh? You've got to love a good neighborhood yard sale! Anyway, I also managed to make it home with a great load of things all for just a little over $15 (another potential record, considering that I spent almost $80 at garage sales last weekend!)

Want to see what I found?

$0.50 - Wooden shield and plastic sword - I know, the styles of the sword and shield conflict, but Oliver doesn't know that. I've put off the whole sword thing as long as I could, but now that Oliver is using anything in sight (including wrapping paper rolls and golf clubs) as swords, I have finally given in. At least he's more into medieval warfare and we've been able to a void a huge interest in guns... so far. (I do realize it's only a matter of time. I'm okay with that.)

$0.25 - Glass jar candle, apple scented - It's got a good two weeks left in it if I burn it during the days. We enjoyed our Yankee Candle I bought last week so much (yep, it's all used up) that I decided to look for another one today. I will confess, with these nice candle smells in the house, it's hard not to feel a little excitement about fall. (Yes, I just said the "f" word. It is coming, you know...)

$1.00 - 2 Cookbooks: Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef Takes Off and Williams-Sonoma's Holiday Favorites - yes, $0.50 apiece. I'm quite pleased.

$3.00 - 2 Gap sweatshirts, a hooded shirt and a puffy vest - for you-know-who. Fall clothes are so fun to buy and to wear. (There goes that "f" word again - what can I say? The air is sort of crisp today!) I'm thinking I'll layer a button-down shirt under that second navy sweatshirt and make a very handsome boy.

$6.00 - 2 lightweight urban t-shirts, a lightweight button-down shirt, a Banana Republic tie and a pair of striped shorts. All for my guy. He put the striped shirt and one of the t-shirts on right away to test the fit. He said I could photograph the clothes on him if I didn't show his face since he needs to shave. He's funny.

$3.00 - 2 Melissa & Doug 48-piece floor puzzles. Oliver was over the moon and had me sit down with him for a quick assembly right away. The kid loves him some puzzles!

$0.50 - "Scoop" from Bob the Builder - a HUGE winner. We found "Muck" a few weeks ago and Oliver spent hours in the sandbox playing with him. Since then I've been on the lookout for more characters. When my Mama and I spotted Scoop we we both practically giddy! So much for the poker face :)

$0.50 - 2 down-filled pillows - trying to only buy things that I know will be useful immediately, but sometimes it's hard to pass up down pillows for a quarter apiece. I imagine I'll make some covers for them with some fabric I have set aside. Great deal!

And, my favorite thing of the day
(even though it wasn't a mind-blowing bargain, it makes me quite happy!):

$1.00 - green J.Crew tank top and PINK brand striped pajama pants. I'm wearing them as I type. I'm a huge sucker for lounge gear.

And now, I want to see what you found this week! Link below so I (and lots of other folks) can visit your blog to see the great bargains you scored! (It's always so fun to see what people find across the country!)

19 August 2009

I've always loved to take photos.

When I was little my Dad had an old camera (well, I suppose it wasn't old at the time) and he was always doing the coolest things with shutter speed and exposure and such. I even have a photo of a 4-year-old me sitting in four different spots on a picnic table carrying on what appears to be a very important conversation with myself.

In 8th grade I received my very first camera for Christmas. It was a digital camera because that was the latest thing to have. But it was capable of absolutely nothing close to the amazing photos my Dad took with his old 35mm which I'm pretty sure didn't even have the word 'Auto' anywhere on it.

In college I studied Housing and Environmental Design, but also jumped at the opportunity to add as many courses as I could from the Art department to my already busy workload. I took Ceramics, Photoshop, 3D Design and Drawing (oh, I was miserable in that class, but it was a good stretch to try). Most importantly, though, I had the opportunity to finally get my hands on some fantastic cameras in a handful of basic 35mm and advanced digital photography classes. I even signed up to be the darkroom TA for a semester so I could be paid to spend time in that stinky room practicing my dodging and burning techniques. The wonderful world of SLRs was once again opened to me, and it felt great!

Now I'm married and busy with a 2-year-old who is not always so patient to hold still for me to set the aperture on my camera before the perfect 'kodak moment' has passed me by. That to say, the Auto function turns out to be a pretty faithful friend in natural light for everyday use. It's turned out some pretty lovely photos for me, so I cannot speak too disdainfully about it.

Photography is a huge part of my life. Capturing memories of my family and friends, photographing a friend's new baby, enjoying a quiet, artistic moment in my backyard alone with my camera, or snapping shots of my garage sale loot to share with all of you - it's a part of me. Rarely does a day go by that our camera goes untouched.

So naturally, our home is filled with these snapshots of our lives. And, for me, even the display of these treasures is a part of the artistic experience. I can't just take a photo, print it in my inkjet printer and slap it in a frame for my dresser (although, I confess, it has happened in a pinch and I'm not proud of it).

That said, and in honor of the newest addition to our family (a Canon EOS Rebel Xsi), I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite places in our home. It is the wall leading up our staircase - the space in our home where I display my favorite shots from over the years.

Many of you have asked about this wall and, specifically, for tips on how to effectively create a great photo wall. I've thought it over, and assembled this handful of tips which I hope will be useful for you as you display your own masterpieces:

  • Repetition - Choose one element of your display that you want to be carried throughout. I chose for all of my frames to be black and, when I use a mat, for it to be white. (Note: You may choose another constant altogether. It can be very interesting and artistic to use varying mat or frame colors, but then it would be important that your photographs themselves all have the same color tones or feel.)
  • Variety - this is just as important as repetition. There has to be some interest. While I chose to have all black frames, you'll notice that every frame is different in width, thickness and texture.
  • Structure - this is a simple rule, but just make a plan before you hang your photos. I began this wall with only ten photos and have added since then. But, for the beginning structure, especially, make a plan. The best way I have found to do this is to tape pieces of printer paper (or newspaper, really) together to match the exact size of each frame you plan to hang. Label each frame and matching paper with corresponding letters so there's no confusion later on, and mark on the paper where the nail hole will need to be as well. Arrange the "paper frames" on the floor first to get an idea of what will work, or go straight to the wall, taping them in various arrangements until you have a design you like. (It's quite handy at this point to drive your nails right through the nail mark in the papers, tear the papers down and hang the real deal in their place.)

  • Repetition, part 2 - (Isn't it only fitting that I make two points about repetition?) From time to time it's nice to have pairs of things. In the midst of my wall of varying shapes and sizes, I added two frames side by side with the same mats. This creates visual interest as well. (By the way, that's my Grandpa - I love him!)
Photo of flower taken by Claire Wise Photography
  • Matting - Get creative with white space! Just because you have a beautiful, 11x14 frame, doesn't mean that you have to fill it with an 11x14 photograph. Or, an 8x10 for that matter! I love to fill my 8x10 frames with 4x6s, and my 11x14s with 5x7s. There are tiems, though, when I like the photo best with no white space at all. You'll notice in the photos above and below that it's not even necessary to mimic the shape of the frame or even center the photo. Grandpa's picture is a 3x3 square in a 5x10 frame. Below, Oliver and I are a 12x12 square in a 16x20 frame with a ton of space at the bottom. Just as your photography is an opportunity to be artistic, so is the display of your photography!

Photo of me with Oliver taken by Claire Wise Photography

Closing thoughts:
A beautiful photo wall does not have to be expensive. There are certain areas that are worth investing, and others which can be surprisingly economical.

Nearly every frame on my wall was purchased at a yard sale - the first ten in a single day! My best advice is to only buy frames that are interesting, have the glass included, and that you know you can use. In my case, the colors didn't matter, I painted them all black with an oil-based satin paint (and, in a pinch, spray paint). Square frames are a real treat, as is anything with a frame thickness of 2" or more.

And finally - and I'm totally serious when I say this because it can make or break your final look - have your photos printed at a proper lab where they use proper paper and proper techniques. I have literally held side-by-side black and white photos printed at a drug store and at Mpix (who I am constantly raving about because they use true black and white paper), and have been floored by the difference. It make me feel like becoming a photo lab evangelist!

I contacted Mpix last night and told them I'd be putting this post together today. They were so sweet and have actually offered 15% off all black and white and metallic print orders (for colors, the metallic paper will absolutely rock your socks off!!) until 8/26 for anyone who uses the code "giftofbreath". You can also go here to follow them on Twitter.

And, if you're worried about sacrificing the speed of drug store photos for the quality of a proper lab, you'll be glad to know that with Mpix, you can shoot today, upload tonight and they'll ship tomorrow! (And, you'll feel quite special when your package arrives and your photos are carefully wrapped in wax paper and foam like you're somebody important!)

So, there you have it! Now go - take lovely photographs, display them well - be artistic!

15 August 2009

Okay, I spent a lot today. But, I'm happy and so is Ryan and that is key.

Let's get right down to business:

$1.50 - 3 Candlesticks, a case of 4 taper candles, Fekkai anti-frizz cream, a new container of cocoa butter body cream and a "Festival of Lights" large jar Yankee Candle - joy! I can use all of these things! Not bad on the price, eh? They said make an offer so I went for it!

$8 - 3 pairs of pants and 4 shirts. Really cute stuff! The girl gave me a DEAL too, since most of them were marked at $2 or higher. It's such a treat (and so rare) to find a garage sale that has your size and style.

$0.50 - Long sleeved H&M shirt for Ry. He's happy. :)

$2.50 - 4 pillows of varying sizes - I have been looking for 2-15" square pillows to use as pillow forms for the covers on our new guest bed. I've also been on the hunt for a down-filled 18" square pillow for a cover we bought for our bonus room. (I just can't bear to spend $10-$20 for pillow forms, when any old -well, not too old - garage sale pillow stuffed inside will do). Well, I found them! Yay!

My sister also spotted a down-filled lumbar pillow for which I can make a using some of the Anna Maria Horner fabric I purchased on Etsy this week, or just use the existing cover - it's orange silk shantung and could be nice for fall.

$1.00 - Black picture frame with white mat (pictured above) - This, of course, will be used for a 12"x 12" photo I had printed for our photo wall. Frame, mat and glass for $1 makes me very glad. (Side note: I have said before that I'd post photos of our photo wall and haven't yet. Take heart - I've taken the shots, now I just need to post them. We're close!)

$2.50 - a stack of fabric that will be quite useful - our Art of Homemaking class begins in a week. We're starting off 1st semester learning to construct aprons (which will be promptly followed up with some education in the kitchen). It will be great to have this stuff around to supplement the fabric the girls bring.

$10 - side table - this just goes with our house. We try to buy furniture for our home that can interchange among rooms so that we can always pull things from one room to another to keep things feeling fresh. This table will begin it's new life either in the living room as a side table or in our bedroom as a night stand.
$2.00 - a leather bag I already love so much it might need to be named - it's even more beautiful in person. Seriously. So soft. You can imagine my joy.

$50 - an 8'x10' cream flokati rug - we've had a 5x7 in the living room for a long time and always thought a larger rug would be better. They had it marked for $75, but I was happy to either pay $50 or not get it at all. They were thrilled to take $50 and I was thrilled to go at it with my Dyson when I got home! (so satisfying!) Anyhow, we like how it defines the space. Not sure if we'll keep it in there for the rest of summer or not, but it will definitely have a home in the fall and winter!

And, finally, the winner of this week's "Tuck-and-Run" award goes to:

for her purchase of a large Longaberger basket for only $2.00!! Check it out here!

Nice work, L.

And now it's that time. Show me what you've got, friends!!

08 August 2009

I'm here! I'm here! I haven't disappeared or fallen off the face of the Earth. I've just been busy in the sandbox and rearranging furniture, tending to poison ivy rashes (poor Ry got into a patch doing yard work...) and mentally preparing for my (and my sister's) "Art of Homemaking" class to begin next week (well, at least teacher inservice).

In the midst of all of that and more, I managed to find time to sneak away for a few hours this morning to do one of the things I love best - go to garage sales! This week I went out with my Mama and my sister to a neighboring town where we always seem to have the best luck of anywhere.

Want to see?

$0.50 - Clifford 20-piece puzzzle - I thought it would be hours of fun, and it is, except that Oliver did it all by himself on his second try. I guess I need to be finding harder puzzles...

$1.00 - Two wood floor cleaners - both nearly full, both on my supply list for the store. Hurrah!

$0.25 - 2 Nerf(ish) footballs - because Oliver and Scout go through them faster than I can provide them.

(Exhibit A:)

(Exhibit B:)

$3.00 - 6 shirts and 1 pair of shorts for you-know-who - fall's a-comin' and I don't have a lot of long-sleeve gear for our little guy. Fortunately, I was able to find a few things that will work as the weather gets chillier and a few things that we'll have to wait until next fall to use.

$1.00 - 2-pack of Lutron dimmer switches - I bought one of these a few years back and ended up spending almost $40 before it was all said and done (that was for a fan/light switch though, I think these are closer to $20ish). Anyway, I L-O-V-E to have the lights in our house on dimmers, so this was a delightful find!

$1.00 - New Redken color enhancer (what? you think it's natural?), a pack of new needles and a wine cork vacuum (I hear these are pretty handy).

$0.50 - pack of 5 new, wide headbands - I spent way too much on a pack at Target a while back and realized I wanted wider ones. Yay for finding the ones I wanted to begin with on the cheap!

$5.00 - a handsome coffee table - to serve as a placeholder in our newly-rearranged living room while I wait for my 3-foot square ottoman to come from Michigan next month (I lent it to someone I love dearly while I didn't have a use for it. Now I'm looking forward to a very happy reunion with that beautiful piece of furniture my Mom bought me for my birthday a few years back).

And, in my humble opinion, my tuck-and-run find of the day:

$2.00 - Two big, beautiful lanterns to hang on either side of our garage door!!! Yes, one dollar each. They're great!

I know I have been delinquent about posting this past week, and I've been especially delinquent about awarding tuck-and-run winners since the inception of that great idea. (Can I say that? -call my own idea "great"??) :) So sorry, friends!

To make it right, I'd at least like to get back on the right track. The last garage sale Linky I posted was on July 25th, and from the readers who linked that week, I have chosen a winner (and she did WELL, folks!)

This weeks winner of the "Tuck-and-Run" award goes to:

Sarah bought two adorable upholstered chairs for $10 (yes, that's for the set!)
She has a photo in her post - stop by, take a look and congratulate her!!!

And now, it's time to see what y'all found this weekend (or last, since I didn't post last weekend). Can't wait to see!