Hey Remember When…

I said I’d be all ready to open my shop back up come July 15th and I’d have new brooches to share and perhaps even new items? Yeah, about that. We are still without our household goods [hey thanks Army!] and it’s been about 35 days since I’ve last seen my craft supplies. Bummer.

The good news is that we’re getting our things this friday! Woo hoo. No more eating on the floor, sitting on the floor, doing everything else on the floor! And why should you care? Well it means I will also have my supplies back again and can open my shop back up. Duh. Once we have our things I’ll put up an announcement of when I’ll be back in business. I’d hate to set a date and find out that either our stuff isn’t ready to be delivered or even worst, our stuff doesn’t exist any more. Yay moving!

DIY: Writing with sparklers

Writing with sparklers: JackieWhile on our road trip cross-country we stopped in to visit my family in Maryland. It was so great to spend some time with them and enjoy an amazing dinner of crawfish etouffee. I’ve really missed my Mom’s cooking while in Colorado so it was awesome that she was willing to cook us up a batch.

Besides enjoying some good food and great company we also took some time to play with a few fireworks including sparklers! Which was when Steve mentioned that it’d be really cool to take some sparkler pictures. If only we had a fancy camera… Oh but Steve, of course I brought my camera with me on our trip! And my tripod! We could totally try out some pictures. SWEET. So here’s a few we did before my camera died. It was so much fun.

Writing with sparklers: Steve

Last year I posted a few tips about taking firework pictures and the same basic ideas apply for sparkler pictures. You’ll need a tripod or at least a flat surface that you can rest your camera on. Next you’ll want to frame your shot so you know where to start writing and where to end so it doesn’t get cut off.Writing with sparklers: Rob These were done just as the sun was setting but the darker it is, the less you’ll be able to see the motion of the person holding the sparkler. So if possible, wait till the sun has completely set. That being said, I still think these came out really cool. If I had thought about it a smaller shutter opening [aka a higher f/stop] would have probably made the background darker. For these I used f/3.5, ISO 200 and left the shutter open for 20 seconds. This combination worked well for us. You’ll have to play around to see what works best for you but just like the firework pictures, I highly recommend using the lowest ISO you can. It will decrease the amount of noise in your pictures. You can leave the shutter open longer or shorter depending on how dark it is. I found that 30 seconds was too much time and less then 20 seconds you had to move faster to get your word in.
Writing with sparklers: Scibbles As far as the best technique for writing? We found that writing with our backs towards the camera was easiest. It meant you didn’t have to try to remember how to write backwards. Or if you forget, like I did in the picture below, you can always flip the picture post production. In the second picture, the one that reads ‘Steve’, my husband did it and he went extremely slow and deliberate. This is why his lines are really thick. The scribbles above I did and pretty much just danced around some purple firework that was going off so the lines are thinner and have a more layered look. And then love below was really fast. Each technique is interesting and just depends on the look you want.Writing with sparklers: LoveIt took us about two or three tries to get the settings right. Also if you try doing the same drawing over and over it’ll just turn into a giant scribble ball so it’s best just to try to spell something right the first time. I recommend just having fun with it and seeing what crazy things you can come up with and before the end of the night you’ll have some fun shots.

Have you taken any night shots lately? I think it is one of my favorite types of photography to mess around with. It’ll be fun experimenting with some of the city in the background!

We finally made it to NYC!

20140707-213710-77830626.jpgAfter spending a weekend in the hotel in Colorado, then driving to Kansas City, MO, Memphis, TN, Birmingham, AL, spending the weekend in Wilmington, NC, and day in Gaithersburg, MD we’ve finally made it to Brooklyn, NY. We’ve spent the last few days exploring our new home and camping out on the floor. It’s been rough and stressful at times but also quite amazing. Is it weird that I’m already in love with this city? Sure some people are rude and stereotypical New Yorkers. But then there are others that are just amazing. Also the food! We’ve been here less than a week and we’ve had some Middle Eastern, Chinese and even went to the most hipster place I’ve been since my DC days for hot dogs. The community we live in is pretty amazing. Not to brag too much but it’s seriously like an oasis in the city. You can’t even tell you’re in New York. The views are just out of this world. We even went to Ikea where you can see the statue of liberty from the café there. Seriously crazy.

20140707-213810-77890725.jpgToday has been our first day in a long time with legit internet access so I’m hoping to be able to post updates about our trip and share pictures soon. It’ll probably take a hot minute for us to get back in the swing of things. We don’t even have our household goods yet! But I couldn’t be more excited to be here. I finally have an office/craft room and it’s amazing. I can’t wait to explore more and get a feel for New York. One of these days soon I’m going to have to brave that subway!

20140707-213806-77886339.jpg20140707-213809-77889980.jpgWe’re going to be making a New York City bucket list soon since we’ll have the next three years to really go crazy. So tell me, what are some of your must see things in New York City?

Why I’m not too happy with Apple and their lack of customer service.

I am so very torn. On the one hand I am in love with this new laptop I recently got. I think it’ll really help get me into the swing of doing the things I most enjoy doing. Writing and working on art and photography. On the other hand Apple has been the bane of my existence this past month. That’s saying a lot seeing as we’re a military family and use to being thrown back and forth. I could go on and on about that but instead I’ll save that for another day.

Now back to Apple. Sometime near the end of April I decide to order a new computer. There’s just something about being able to lay on the couch and work that is super appealing. We’ve had our desktop for six or some years and it’s great but a laptop, now that could change things. After about a week my shiny new Macbook Pro shows up at my door and I couldn’t be more happy. That quickly changed. It was constantly crashing and not loading or downloading things that it should have been more than capable of doing. Sad face. At this point I called Apple and they had me reinstall the OS… twice. Each time the problem got worst and worst. At one point I couldn’t even get the computer to load. Eventually Apple customer service gave me two options. I could either have the computer repaired or replaced. Well duh I wanted it replaced. If I wanted a refurbished computer I would have save myself some money and bought one refurbished.

At this point I was instructed to go to my closes Apple store. Problem was that it was 30 minutes away and well, I just don’t drive. Legally I can. And I am capable. I just don’t like to, especially if it’s outside my comfort zone. Of course at this point Steve was still at Recruiter training. Luckily for me I was able to get an extension to be able to exchange my computer once Steve came home.

And so that’s what we did. We took my broken Mac in and was assured over the phone that I could exchange it. Wrong wrong wrong. I get to the store for my genius appointment during which they did offer me a different computer that was a little more expensive than the one I had purchased but it didn’t have the hard drive space which really was the reason of getting a customized computer. But they told me all I would need to do is call Apple Support the next day and they’d get me a replacement computer ASAP. So I left with the most expensive paper weight I ever owned.

The next issue I run into is that Apple Support wasn’t open when I called on Saturday. Nor on Sunday or Monday because of Memorial Day weekend. Ugh. Not that I expect everyone to work a holiday weekend but come on. At least tell me that I won’t be able to get things resolved until Tuesday.

So finally I reach who I need on Tuesday. I explain the situation and give them all the necessary information. And they have no idea what I’m talking about something about not being able to find my Apple ID or my case number. I even get to talk to the “Executive” customer service representative. So very frustrating since all my information is in a file they should be able to find rather than me have to explain the issues for the 4 time.

At this point they decide they’ll give me an advance replacement. This means they send me a computer before actually receiving the paper weight back. AWESOME. Apple is finally going to send me a working computer. Oh wait, just kidding. If you want an advance replacement then Apple has to put a hold on your credit card. Or you can return the computer at the store and we’ll then mail you one. Or we can send you a box and labels and once we receive your computer then we’ll send you one.

Craptastic. Finally after getting a lot of “Well that’s just Apple’s policy and everyone is going to tell you the same thing,” I decided that the easiest option would be for them to send me the box. Sweet, they set it all up. And then my case is transferred to another “Executive” (which is weird since the last executive said that he was the highest but whatever) and a few days go by, I get an email with the labels and a few other emails from the newest “Executive.” But no new box. Finally after waiting a few days I still haven’t received a new box. At this point I call and leave a message with the first “Executive” about whether I’m getting a box or what in order to return my paper weight computer. Of course no call back. I call again after the weekend and finally get in touch with someone.

“Oh yeah we decided not to send you a box. Didn’t you get the phone call?”

“No. It would of been nice to know that you weren’t sending me a box last week…”

The next day I put my computer in a box and ship it off. Wait another day. Get an email saying they received the tracking information and that they’ll be sending me my tracking information for my new computer as soon as they can. Wait another two days and finally my computer is on it’s way.

On June 11th my new computer finally arrives. And it’s awesome and I’m really happy with it but the whole experience with Apple has left a really sour taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong everyone was really nice at customer service but the fact that very little was done to actually get the problem fixed in a timely manner has been really frustrating. It got to the point that we’ve decided that from now on we won’t be buying from Apple. Their policies on returns had no compromises. Nothing was offered as a peace offering to fix the problems. If it wasn’t for the fact that I bought Photoshop for Mac just a few months earlier I would have probably returned this laptop.

They wanted me to take the risk that they wouldn’t lift the hold on my credit card in a timely manner. They wanted me to wait longer to get a replacement computer. When all the problems that occurred and all the back and forth was their faults, and yet I was the one who was “punished” for it. It took a month and a half after ordering my computer to receive something that worked.

So why am I posting all of this here? Because Apple has no where else where you can share your disappoint. They’re not on social media. They don’t have a general complaint area. At a certain point there isn’t anyone who will call you back or answer your emails. There’s nothing they can or will do if you’re disappointed besides say, “We’re sorry that happened to you. I can see why you’re so frustrated.” It’s no wonder their customer service ratings have gone down in recent years. In the end, I don’t really think Apple cares. And that’s why I don’t see myself purchasing from them in the future.

Have you dealt with Apple recently? Was it a good experience or did they leave a lot to be desired?

April Showers just sorta end up making me depressed.

familyWow guys. Can I just say, April was not my month this year. No updates on the blog, no weekly photos of my kids, minimal work done for my etsy, and a weak attempt at keeping my house livable. I’m going to chalk it up to stress and depression, forgive myself and get back on the horse. Really, what was I expecting? In the beginning of the month Steve left for training, which he is now half way done with. I knew the idea of it was stressing me out but I guess I didn’t know to what extent. The weather has also been wacky so that certainly wasn’t helpful. I do so much better when it’s sunny and beautiful. I mean really, don’t we all?

I’m sure the upcoming move and lack of information has also gotten to me. None of this is necessarily actively fighting for space in my head but it’s always those subconscious issues that really do a number on you. Things that you can’t really control so you say, “It is what it is” and then two days later all you want to do is lay on the couch and not move. Life, I don’t know why you have to torture me so.

At least we finally know where we’re moving to in NYC. Steve’s office will be in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NYC. I am beyond happy with this and hope it doesn’t change. The Army is pretty fond of throwing wrenches in plans, let me tell you. I think Brooklyn and the Bay Ridge area will be really good for us. Fort Hamilton is right there and we’ll get the opportunity to live on base, which is weird because we’re not really base people and so of course the first base we live on is in NYC. It’s just so convenient to live on base and not have to pay for a broker or deposits or any of that other annoying stuff that comes with moving and renting. Not to mention the apartments are huge. I don’t think we could afford a nicer place. And then there’s the pool, library, commissary, pre-k and parking spots outside our apartment. But out of everything I am mostly excited to be in a city again. Especially a city that I don’t have to drive in. I hate driving. It makes me anxious and I get physically sick with just the thought of driving outside my comfort zone. So yay, NYC!

Now the next stress is just waiting for Steve’s orders. We’re at a stand still until the end of May. We can’t do anything until he graduates school. This means we can’t schedule movers, we can’t be put on the wait list for an apartment, we can’t even plan a cross-country road trip because who knows if we’ll have three days to get to NYC or three weeks! Military life, I tell you. It’s just one thing after another. All I want to do is be ready and all the Army wants to do is tell us ‘Hurry up and wait!’

Anyway, I am starting to feel like my old self again. Some days are better than others but for the most part I can feel my energy getting better and my desires to work on things I enjoy are coming back. This is great. It also ended up inspiring me to finally bite the bullet and get a laptop. I’m so excited for it to come and think it’ll really help. Our desktop is nice but I hate working with my back towards the family room. It feels so isolating. The desktop will be good for design work in which I need a large screen but a laptop will be perfect for writing blog entries while relaxing on the couch or adding stock to Etsy or just catching up with my favorite blogs.

In the end, at this moment, I am just really content. Things aren’t always easy. I know I’ve been grumpier then usual and I know the kids are wearing on me and I know that I’m wearing on them but all in all, life is good. By the time May and June come around April will just be a faint memory. A time that I made it through something rough and my family will be no more damaged than they were before and we will be on our way towards our next adventure. It’s an exciting adventure for sure.

Army Life: We’re PCSing soon!

seeyoulatercoloradoI know I’ve mentioned a few times that we will be moving sometime this summer and we finally have an idea of where we’re headed. Come July we’ll be living in…NYC! We don’t know what exactly that means yet. It could mean Manhattan or it could mean we’re an hour away on the far east side of Long Island. I’m crossing my fingers for Brooklyn at the moment since that would mean we could live on base at Fort Hamilton. Not that I’m a huge fan of living on base but I like the idea of living in a large apartment in a community I’m familiar with at least until we familiarize ourselves with the city. Plus Washer and Dryer in the apartment makes my heart flutter.

Since finding out that we’re going to be headed to NYC there have been tons of thoughts racing through my head. Decisions to make. Things to get use to. I sorta wish we were going to DC but I realize that’s only because going to a big city you know is easier than going to a big city you don’t know. DC would have been the “safe” choice. That being said, I am very excited to go to NYC. It’s one of those dreams that I always fantasized about but figured we’d never actually end up there. At least for as long as we have kids. Not because you can’t have kids in the city but rather because I never thought we’d be able to afford it. Of course that’s all changed now since the Army gives you enough Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) to be able to afford living in the area you’re stationed at.

We’ll be in NYC for three years. I think it’s the perfect amount of time for us to get our feet wet and decide if we love NYC but not so long that if we end up not liking it that we dread being there. I love that we’ll be so close to family and friends again. I really miss the East Coast. Plus we have several family members and friends in the city. It’s going to be great to do so many bucket list type things. I’ve only been to NYC three times. The first time my parents, siblings and I were headed to Connecticut and we made a quick stop. I took a picture of the twin towers from the car and we saw the statue of liberty from across the harbor. The second time I went with a friend to the College Music Journal festival. If memory serves we were there for one day so while we saw a lot of great bands, it really could have been in any city. The last time another friend and I went shopping in SOHO. It was another day trip so again, I had no idea where I was or where I was going but I did buy some awesome shoes.

So pretty much I know next to nothing about living in NYC or even being in NYC. I’m a bit nervous about the subway riding thing, especially once you add two kids to the equation. It just seems like it’s a lot more complex than the DC metro. Eeps. I’ve definitely spent the last few days just reading everything I can get my hands on. It’s making it hard to sleep at night since my brain is always going going going.

I’ll be sure to keep you update on our adventures. In the mean time, any one have any advice for a NYC noob like me?

What I Wore: Pie Love You

What I Wore: Pie Love You What I Wore: Pie Love YouI meant to post this earlier this week. Just like I meant to make a pie and share the recipe. Let’s just say I haven’t been adjusting too well with Steve being away. It doesn’t help that the moment I start to feel better and start to enjoy the weather it then changes to bitterly cold or overcast or whatever. I do so much better when it’s nice out and I can get out of the house. Of course when I can’t get out of the house for an extended period of time it can be hard to motivate myself to do something. I’m forcing myself out on Monday to go to a play date. Right now my head is dreading the idea. But I know once I’m out and spending time with other people and socializing things will be better. Plus when I’m in a healthy state of mind I really enjoy these ladies. It’s times like this that I’m tempted to move to Southern California. I see pictures of people enjoying the sun and the beach and it just makes me want to be there. To be outside all the time and not have the excuse of bad weather. It’s too easy of an excuse for me.  What I Wore: Pie Love YouIn other less depressing news, I love this dress! I bought it for a wedding reception I attended back in November. I had my eye on it for a while and a wedding reception was the perfect excuse. It’s a little thin, there’s no lining, but that makes it perfect for spring and summer. It fits really well too. The only change I would make is to shorten it. I’m a fan of dresses that hit at or above the knees. I feel like these awkward mid calf lengths make me look stumpy. Though these pictures don’t really reflect that so maybe it’s just in my head? I’m also loving these tights. I always get complements when I wear them out. Though I’m not sure they were worth the price. They’re already starting to show wear and I’ve only worn them a handful of times. I guess that’s just tights for you. Maybe I need to learn the proper taking care of tights techniques. What I Wore: Pie Love YouThe pie brooches are some of my favorite ones that I’ve made lately. You can find then in my shop. I guess the only left to talk about is my new hair! I’ve been slowly working on lightning it for awhile now but this is the first big step to half and half. I think I have another one or two sessions of lightening before I get it to white. I’m taking it slow since I’m not trying to kill my hair. I don’t know if I’ll keep the half white and half brown or if I’ll do another fun color once my hair is light enough. What do you think? The only unnatural color I’ve ever done before is orange so I’m kind of excited to try something new. I’m leaning towards a pastel blue. What I Wore: Pie Love YouCardigan // Thrifted, Dress* & Tights* // Modcloth, Shoes // UrbanOG, Necklace // unknown, Headband // Forever 21, Brooches // Etsy

*Affiliate Link: When you order using this link I receive a small compensation from Modcloth with no other cost to you. All funds go to paying for web hosting fees. Thank you for your support. Here is my full disclosure.

10/52

10/52 Sophie10/52 Joela portrait of my children once a week for fifty-two weeks in 2014.

Sophie: “Come on bugs, follow me! You can ride in my pocket!”
Joel: I put together an indoor “sandbox” and they loved it. Especially Joel who thought it was brilliant to sit in the box. He couldn’t have been more happy about the whole thing.

Humor at the expense of someone else is not okay.

There’s currently a post on Buzzfeed that is going viral at the moment. Maybe you’ve seen it? It’s a series of pictures of a young man posing with the butt cracks of assorted people who are attending a Magic the Gathering tournament. Sure butts are funny. But let me tell you why this is not okay.

Humor at the expense of others is not funny.These pictures are trying to create humor by victimizing those who happen to be wearing low riding pants and thus their butt cracks are exposed. It is not okay to bully someone based on their body or clothing choices. Taking the argument that they were “Asking for it by wearing a certain type of clothes” is dangerously close to another defense that is often heard by victims of sexual violence.

The people being featured in this “humor” post didn’t ask to be humiliated on the internet. They didn’t ask to be part of a joke at their expense. They didn’t give permission to a stranger to post pictures of their bodies in a public space. I know that if someone posted a picture of me on the internet, especially a picture that is meant to bully me then I would be pretty upset and hurt. I would feel humiliated. I bet you would too. I bet it would affect your self-confidence to have thousands of people laughing at you and passing your picture around the internet.

When will we learn that shaming people for any reason, whether that be their clothing choices, their body size, the color of their skin, their religion or anything else, is not okay. My choices and who I am don’t give you the right to stare, or bully, or shame me, or rape me, or harass me, or treat me as anything less than a human being. Just because they aren’t the same choices you’d make doesn’t mean I was “asking for it”. If I want to dye my hair, wear low ride pants, have tattoos or anything else, then I still have the right to feel safe and to not be a victim. If I am fat or skinny, black or white, gay or straight or anything else, I am still a person with rights and feelings. And I deserved to be treated like a person and to not worry that one day someone might make a joke at my expense.

Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Brie, Apples, and Spinach Recipe

Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Brie, Apples, and Spinach RecipeI really enjoy pork tenderloin because it’s easy to cook and it’s pretty much always on sale. But rather than just throw it in the oven, why not add some fun stuffing to it. I love the mix of brie, apples and spinach inside the pork. The perfect amount of  sweet and salty. Add some roast carrots and apples to the side and it’s an amazing, comforting meal.Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Brie, Apples, and Spinach RecipePork Tenderloin stuffed with Brie, Apples, and Spinach RecipePork Tenderloin stuffed with Brie, Apples, and Spinach RecipeIngredients:

1 apple, diced*
1 handful of spinach
a few slices of brie
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 pork tenderloin, about a pound
4 large carrots, diced
any leftover apple*
1 cup of veggie stock [chicken stock would probably work as well.]
2 tsp of cinnamon

*I could only fit about a half an apple into my tenderloin and thus cooked the rest of it with the carrots. You may need another apple depending on the size of your apple/tenderloin and whether you’d like some apple as part of your side dish

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 425º. Begin by slicing your pork tenderloin open, being careful not to slice all the way through. Next stuff your pork with as much spinach, brie, and apples as you can. Now it’s time to close up your pork as tight as you can. You don’t want the tasty gooey brie leaking all over! I used toothpicks but you could also use sting or even unflavored non waxed floss. Once your pork is sealed tight season with salt and pepper. Slice up some carrots and some apple and place in the baking dish around your pork. Pour the veggie stock over your carrots and apples. It should be just enough to cover the bottom of the dish so everything stay moist and nothing sticks to the bottom. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of your apples and carrots. Place in the oven for 25-35 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160º in the thickest part of your pork. Let pork rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, I highly recommend getting one. It’s the best way to check to see if your meat is done without over cooking it. This is the one I have.** And I like it well enough. It’s easy to use and I like that it has an alarm for when my meat hits my desired temperature.

 

**Affiliate Link: When you order using this link I receive a small compensation from amazon with no additional cost to you. All funds go to paying for web hosting fees. Thank you for your support. Here is my full disclosure.

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