Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Favorite Camera Tool

If you've seen any of my vacation photos, you may notice that I always have several photos of my husband and I together. I always try to get several different poses in different locations because it's about the only time we ever take any photos together. At one time, we would usually have my husband stretch his arm out and flip the camera around to take a picture of us squeezed together. Or we might even ask a stranger to take a picture of us together. But these don't always turn out how you may have hoped. That's why I recommend buying a flexible tripod like this little guy.

I picked up this tripod at Wal-Mart for around $10. They are available for both point and shoots and SLRs. You simply screw it onto the little triped mount on the underside of your camera. Because of the small size, it's easy to throw this guy in your purse and take him along with you everywhere. The bendy legs are great because you don't need a solid surface to set the tripod on. You can even wrap the legs around a railing or tree branch although I'm a little too scared to try that. So if you don't already have something like this, pick one of these cheap handy dandy little tripod doodads and start getting some great shots of your family together.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Colorado Trip Part 4-Estes Park and Rocky Mountains

The next installment of our trip report focuses on our last stop in Estes Park. We stayed three nights in Estes which is just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. We stayed at a lovely condo called The Woodlands.

colorado2009 422

We had a balcony that overlooked Fall River.

Fall River outside our condo

The first morning we arose bright and early to make the hike to Bear, Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes. We were glad to get an early start because this trail can get very crowded.

sunrise and mist at dawn

Our first stop was Bear Lake which is right next to the parking area.

Bear Lake

We continued hiking along the trail to tranquil Nymph Lake. This was one of my favorite lakes we visited with all the floating lily pads.

Nymph Lake again on way back down trail.

We posed for several pictures along the way. I love being able to get pictures of us together on vacation and a small tripod works great for that.

colorado2009 483

colorado2009 494

The trail was all uphill on the way past the lakes. There were many stairs and that combined with the altitude, left us a bit out of breath.

colorado2009 028

Finally we arrived at the second beautiful lake, known as Dream Lake. We stopped for more massive picture taking of the amazing surroundings.

Dream Lake

The final lake along the trail was Emerald Lake. Taking photos as Emerald Lake really made me wish for a wide angle lens and an SLR camera since I couldn't capture fully the beautiful scene with my point and shoot. I know my next camera purchase will be an SLR. I always use the manual settings on my camera as it is and I would like more options and flexibility to take better photos.

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake was the end of that particular trail so we turned around and hiked a few more trails. The altitude and the fact that we were both starting to come down with colds starting to wear on us a bit though. After lunch we decided to drive up Old Fall River Road. This is the old road through the park. It is uphill, one way and unpaved. It was much tamer and smoother than the other roads we had tackled so far though.

Old Fall River Road

The road climbs up through the tundra until you reach the Alpine Visitor Center at 12,000 ft. While it was 75 degrees in Estes Park, it was in the 40s and sleeting at the Visitor Center.

It was 40 degrees and sleeting at the top.

colorado2009 591

We joined up with Trail Ridge Road and headed back down to Estes Park, stopping at some of the overlooks for photos.

Great views.

colorado2009 604

colorado2009 614

A large portion of the road is above the treeline where the weather is too cold and harsh for trees to grow. They can get snow drifts as high as 20 feet and it takes six weeks each year to get the road cleared and opened in late spring.

I have one final installment of Colorado photos to share. I took 846 pictures so narrowing them down is tough and I have so many beautiful views to share.

Monday, September 28, 2009

DIY Tuesday-Cheapo Frames Get Customized

Now the DIY day on A Soft Place to Land moved to Tuesday, I had to scramble to get this project finished so I could link up to the party.


I posted Monday morning about these frames I found on clearance for $1 at Garden Ridge. I had several ideas in mind for them and I decided to first try using them for some photos from our wonderful recent Colorado trip. (You can see Part 1, Part 2,  and Part 3  about our trip. I still have two more posts and more photos to share!)

Got milk? As cute as the Happy Acres Dairy art is, it had to go.

desk 049
I had to use a tiny screwdriver to unscrew all the little screws holding on the backing. Then I printed out and cropped some photos of us together on our trip.

desk 053

I decided the pictures needed a little something extra so I searched through the mountains of ribbon stash I have. For when I scrapbook. Which I haven't really done hardly at all this year. But I will. So I keep buying cute ribbon. Just in case. But the cute ribbon came in handy to add a fun little border around the photos.

desk 059

I ran out of the first ribbon which I really liked the best with the diagonal stripes. So I settled for this gray ribbon with the frilly white scalloped edge for the other two photos.

desk 056

desk 060

Here they are on the wall in our bedroom. It was dark and our overhead light is pretty awful so the lighting was not good when I took these pictures of the pictures, but you get the idea.

desk 066

While I like them, I'm almost thinking I want something lighter to go with the other colors of the bedroom. Maybe just some patterned scrapbook paper or flower prints, or even our initials in each of the frames. Soooo after all the cutting and gluing of ribbon, I might leave the ribbon borders and then cover the photos with some different artwork. What do you think?

desk 055

Here's the rest of our bedroom. It's still a work in progress though. Isn't everything? The area above the chair is where the new pictures are hanging. But I'm thinking something lighter might work better there. Sometimes I have to live with things for awhile to decide if I like them or not.

kitchen2 017

Sorry, more bad lighting pictures. Why do I always think to take pictures when there's very little light outside? It never occurs to me on the weekends in the afternoon to take pictures when there is gobs of light streaming in. I love my IKEA curtains though. I can't believe they have curtains this long for so cheap.

kitchen2 013

Weekend Thrifty Finds

I have been so busy I haven't been doing much shopping lately, especially thrift store and bargain hunting. I had some time to scope out a few good deals on Saturday morning though. So I'm linking up with Southern Hospitality's Thrifty Treasures Monday Party.

First I hit up Goodwill where I found this cute little hook thingie with fun little star cutouts. It was $7 which seemed a bit high, but our Goodwill always seems to be overpriced. There was a lamp there I liked also, but it was $14 and didn't even have a shade. So I just stuck with this guy. He will probably end up in our bathroom(which has a planned remodel coming up in a few months) to hang towels on the hooks. I may paint it or I might leave it as is.

desk 047

The other store I found some good buys at was Garden Ridge. They had several clearance areas. I was tempted by some Adrionback rockers they had for $35 (originally $100) and a cute woven chair for $19 (reduced from $80) but I resisted chair temptation. I did snag this lovely candle vase at 75% off for $3.50.

desk 050

In the art and frame section of the store, they had a small group clearanced down to 90% off. I picked up three of these white frames. I'm going to lose the milk art(even though I did live on a dairy farm until I was 10 so it kinda fits me!) and put some photos in. I could also use them as mini shadowboxes because of the depth of the frames. They were only $1 each.

desk 049

The finaly item I grabbed was this tile art thing. It has a mosiac of tiles in a flower shape. I think this might end up in the bathroom also. It's a little different, but I thought it was pretty and it was only $1.50.

desk 048

So those are the cheap treasures I managed to dig up this weekend. Did anyone else have some great shopping finds on a budget? If so check out all the other great finds posted on Southern Hospitality.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Build Your Own Desk

It's Thursday and that means DIY fun at A Soft Place to Land and Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage.

We have been wanting to give our home office space a makeover for awhile now. The paint color was too purplish tan and not as much warm, happy tan as I wanted. The desks were cheapo particleboard and were getting a little worse for wear. There was too much furniture and clutter and something needed to be done.

The main component of the office makeover involved our desks. We had been hunting for desks that we both liked for long time. Like 2 years. I like things white and light, hubby wants darker furniture. Hubby was insistent on a corner desk. I wanted something straight and simple. We looked everywhere including craigslist and IKEA, but just couldn't find what we wanted at a price we liked. So we decided to build our own.

After only one trip to Lowe's, and two to Home Depot, we managed to gather all the necessary supplies. We are not carpenters. We do not have special woodworking tools beyond a circular saw, cordless drill, and a power sander. But we were able to put something together that works.

We purchased 3 sheets of 5/4" birch. I think it is birch. I can't actually remember. It was $25 a sheet and was wrapped in plastic and called crafting wood or something like that. Hubby did some measuring and cutting to make a corner out of two of the sheets.

desk 002

We used table legs purchased at Home Depot. The smooth legs were $8.15 each, the curvy ones were $8.45. We needed 4 of one kind and 5 of the other, which worked out to be exactly the number they had left. Hope no one came to Home Depot after us looking for legs. We purchased these metal bracket things to hold the legs on. I think they were $1.50 each. After the desks were assembled, hubsters gave them a good sanding with our new power sander.

Then came the staining part. First I applied a wood conditioner since our wood was more porous and a conditioner gives you a more even finish. I applied it with a simple foam brush. I'm all about the cheap disposable brushes when possible. I hate cleaning up paint and other messy, sticky stuff.

desk 039

Then it was staining time. This time I used a nicer brush to get a smooth finish. I used a stain that contains polyurethane also. I'm all for cutting corners and skipping steps when I can. The color was the second darkest they had and was called "Antique Walnut." The sample and the color on the can looked dark and rich. Or so they claimed...

desk 040

So I applied one layer of stain:

desk 036

After waiting overnight for it to dry,(dry time is 6 hours), I gave it a light sanding, wiped off the dust, and got ready for a second coat. Because the first coat looks nowhere near "Antique Walnut". It looks more like an oak-maple hybrid wannabe.

desk 031

And I decided I didn't really like the wood toned legs. I have pale legs and I didn't want my desk legs to feel different. Ok, I just really didn't like the way the stain settled on the indentations of my desk's curvy legs. And the whole look was a little blah.

desk 030

So the legs got a coat of primer and white paint. And another coat. And one more. While the tops had their final and third coat of stain. I'm still not completely happy with the color because I wanted it darker, but I was tired of staining and sanding and wiping and staining again. However,I think it still came out pretty well for my first ever wood staining job. (And the walls are not this weird yellowish-green color, it's just bad lighting and camera usage. Also ignore messy tangle of cords.)

desk 008

Hubby's desk:

desk 020

My desk:

desk 009

The brackets that hold the legs on:

desk 027

desk 022

Here's the cost breakdown:

3 pieces of wood for desktops: $75
5 plain table legs: $40.75
4 pretty table legs: $33.80
9 bracket thingies to hold on legs: $13.50
Wood conditioner: $6
Wood stain: $12

Total Cost: $181 for two desks. Not super cheap, but not bad I guess for two solid wood desks. And now we can pretend to be talented carpenters and DIYers even though we are winging it half the time. We still have a lot of organizing and decorating to do in our office, but the desks are the first start. I will have more pictures when the room is more put together.


Related Posts with Thumbnails