September 2011


Some people really have their crap together, ya know? Or at least they seem to. Or at least they seem to squeeze a whole lot of stuff into their lives and enjoy it. Right now, the person that I’m slyly alluding to is Kate at Twenty-Six to Life. She’s been reorganizing her blog, adding pages, and making it look easy (it’s not- that stuff takes lots of time).

Anyway, she inspired me by posting about a free 12-weeks-to-better-photos class. You can download PDFs of each lesson, and the thing that hooked me is that each lesson truly takes like ten minutes! But then if you want you can continue to fiddle around for quite a while experimenting and trial-and-erroring.

I recommend you read Kate’s overview of Lesson 1: Aperture and/or download the lesson here. Basically, a wider aperture (lower f-stop number) means that more light will go in and less of your photo will be in focus. A smaller aperture (higher f-stop number) means that less light will go in and more of your photo will be in focus.

Here are my examples. I shot these in Aperture Priority (AV) mode, meaning essentially that the camera is figuring out everything besides aperture for me.

f-stop 4.5, ISO 400

f-stop 8.0, ISO 400

f-stop 29, ISO 400

If they all look the same to you, look again. See how much of the background is in focus in the last photo with the highest f-stop (and therefore most closed aperture)? In the first photo, you can’t see the detail of the zucchini and tomato plants or the fence.

Neat huh?

Here’s another one:

f-stop 4.5, ISO 400

f-stop 8.0, ISO 400

f-stop 29, ISO 400

Again, in the first photo, the flower is the star. By the time I get to an f-stop of 29, details like cars, the cracked cement, and other plants are competing with the flower.

A couple other notes:

  • My lens’ lowest aperture setting is 4.5, which is fine- you can still see the difference
  • I didn’t know how to check shutter speed, which is why it’s not listed. (But I do now!)
  • I’m lucky that Stan the Man likes photography and has a nice expensive camera for me to mess around with
  • Stan the Man also already knows all this stuff and is therefore a very handy tutor to have on hand. But these lessons are a really good starting point for me, then I can grill him with my questions to fill in any gaps. But if I didn’t have a Stan the Man, there is a wealth of information on the interweb.
  • You can take these lessons even if you don’t have an SLR!

I’m excited for the next lesson! Kate is doing a link-up party, so feel free to join us and then link up!

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Stan the Man has another nickname. Okay, so it’s mostly used by my family. It stems from our wedding night, when we left the reception and were greeted by our adorably decorated car. (Thank goodness they had gone the classy route and only used car paint and removable things- I would have been pretty T.O.ed if we’d had to go to the car wash and scrub off Easy Cheese and Oreos in our wedding clothes.)

Anyway, it was covered in streamers and balloons and was just darn cute.

After we inspected the work and laughed, I said “There’s no way Safety Stan is going to drive off with the car like this.” Everyone thought that name was hilarious (funny ’cause it’s true). And sure enough, we removed the streamers and balloons so the windows were clear before we made our dramatic exit. (But don’t worry, we kept the paint for a solid few weeks afterward- which generated lots of honking and congratulatory waving. I was almost sad to wash it off.)

Along those lines, Safety Stan is also very concerned with PPE (personal protective equipment) and I have received many a scolding for not wearing safety glasses, gloves, and my respirator.

So when the peeps at EarPeace asked if we wanted to review their product, I said “Yes please.”

At first I was a little confused by it, because it’s not meant to protect your ears from things like jackhammers. It’s more for things like concerts, when you still want to hear the music but don’t want to walk away deaf.  So far I have used mine for three things:

  1. When the fire alarm went off at work. Since it comes in a sweet aluminum case, I can keep it in my purse. I was glad to have them so that I could leave the building without wanting to strangle someone.
  2. Waiting for Stan to pick me up after work on the street corner. Buses and traffic are actually super loud.
  3. While trying to concentrate at work. Since I don’t have a bonafide office with a door, it’s easy to get distracted by every little conversation. It might be awkward if someone calls my name from across the room and I don’t hear them though.

Stan has used his in the lab where he spends a large portion of his time. It’s a work environment that’s not exactly blaring in your ears, but there is a constant whirring noise that is probably loud enough that to speak in a normal voice with someone you’d want to be within ten feet of one another. And funny enough, two of his coworkers saw his EarPeace thingies and got excited about getting some for themselves.

Things I like about them:

  • They are pretty discreet (although if I were trying to pick up dudes in a nightclub I don’t think I’d wear them- they’re not quite that discreet).
  • I usually wear those disposable yellow ones at concerts (which look awesome- not) but I’m excited to try these.
  • They still let some sound through.
  • You honestly don’t feel like you’re underwater- maybe that’s because parts of them are thin enough for your ears to “breathe”? I don’t know.
  • They are silicone so if you get earwax on them (ewwwwww) I’m pretty sure you can just rinse them off, whereas those yellow disposable ones kind of absorb the wax. Yum.
  • The carrying case is a huge plus because you can easily- well, carry them anywhere. This type of thing doesn’t do much good if it’s always just sitting at home in a drawer. I keep mine in my purse.

I think most people don’t really realize just how much damage we do to our ears every day by normal activities- myself included. But people aren’t exactly going to wear ear plugs walking down the street (and plus being that isolated from all sound makes me nervous). I like how these still let sound through.

Their website is pretty informative. My overall take on this product is that it’s probably not something I would have sought out myself (remember, it’s Stan who is the safetly-concscious one, not me). But after doing a little research on hearing damage (and just realizing how irritated I get by loud noises) I’m happy to keep mine in my purse and put them in when necessary. And if I worked in a place like Stan’s lab, I would definitely wear them a lot.

And Dad, I love you, but oh how I wish you’d had these for all those years of working in the lab at the wallboard plant. 🙂

In our quest to finish off the bedroom one chunk at a time (and with some help from some wedding gifts) we bought a pretty new capiz chandelier.

It’s from World Market. Since Martha Stewart’s Gray Squirrel made the room pretty manly, I wanted to add some *~*sparkle*~*.

You know how people talk about that “collected over time” look? Well, we are actually collecting things over time. We obviously still need lamps and stuff.

Here it is glowing at night:

I love it. And when the window is open (or if we turn on our fabulous new swamp cooler) it blows around like a faint windchime. So nice! That and our fountain, which is right outside the window, make for some really relaxing late summer sleeping.

In other news, we watched The Graduate this weekend. I kinda liked it, though it was weird. And what is with the ending? Did they live happily ever after or not??

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

When we left off with Part 1 of the fence building project, we had a fence that was on its way to being completed.

And here it is completed!

Excuse the non-staged photo, but I thought someone (cough Sara cough) might murder me if I didn’t get a finished pic up today.

Here’s another view so you can see how we now have a nice closed-in feeling across from the patio.

In pictures you can still totally see through the privacy slats, but I promise that in real life it feels very contained and private.

Next up is planting some flowers and shrubs in front of it and trying to train some more Virginia Creeper to grow on it.

*As a result of several comments (which I am not deleting), I have decided to remove the rest of this post. Apparently we have incriminated ourselves and whether commenter JoeKnows means “It’s a good thing your address isn’t readily available because you have broken several laws…..” as a threat or not, I am taking it as such.

I simply wanted to tell our story as a learning experience. I wanted to discuss neighborliness and general human understanding, and warn others to always discuss things with their neighbors, no matter how nice you think you’re being.

I welcome comments, even if they don’t agree with me. But it is also my right to respond to those comments and try to explain myself (which I thought I did in a diplomatic manner). Also, comments that are accusatory rather than constructively critical tend to illicit charged responses from protective older brothers and friends who know us, and there’s nothing I can do about that. So please keep that in mind if you plan to comment in such a manner.

And please feel free to comment constructively.

Labor Day is for laboring, right? According to Wikipedia, Labor Day is for celebrating the economic and social contributions of workers. Well, Stan is working today and our house is a wreck from installing a swamp cooler (hallelujah, though- our house is below 86 degrees!) and I have about a million things on my to-do list that I won’t bore you with. So that’s how we’ll be celebrating our economic and social contributions.

At least I can harvest tomatoes like this one:

And eat lunches like this one:

The fence is finished, so I’ll have some photos of that for you tomorrow. We’ve been quite enjoying it so far!

So yeah- we’ve been doing a lot of labor-intensive projects around here.

Hope everyone has a lovely day!