Archives For living well

I got my first pair of glasses when I was five–and not just any pair of glasses. I’m talking giant frames and coke-bottle lenses on my tiny, tiny face. I was petite even then.IMG_20131021_0001 (382x570)

I must actually be closer to six or seven in this picture because the pixie haircut I gave myself just before starting kindergarten had grown out.

I held my glasses solely responsible for my lack of popularity throughout elementary and middle school (nevermind my awkward nature!) and started refusing to wear them somewhere around sixth grade despite the fact that I needed them desperately. At 14 I finally got contacts. In the years since I’ve done my best to forget that I even have impaired vision, leaving my contacts in for weeks at a time and replacing them so rarely that I could stretch a year’s supply into two. I know, I know, this is irresponsible. Many an optometrist has scolded me for this practice. A few months ago I knew I was well overdue for an eye exam and scheduled an appointment at Target Optical. I now have vision insurance for the first time in years so I figured I could finally get some new glasses to give my eyes a break from contacts in the evening. Imagine my surprise when, even at Target, even with insurance, my lenses and frames were going to be over $150! I was ordering a year’s worth of contacts at the same time so I just couldn’t stomach the cost. When I picked Jack up from my friend Gina (who’d kept him while I did the stressful which one is better? routine with the optometrist) I told her about it and she mentioned that she’d bought her glasses from a discount web retailer. Say whaaaat? Turns out that there are several inexpensive glasses retailers out there. I’m not sure I’d recommend them if you’re bespectacled full-time and would be annoyed by lack of quality, but if, like me, you just need a spare pair to peer through in the evenings then this may be a smart cost-saving measure. Here are a few I found in my search:

Coastal.com–this is where Gina bought hers. She says to sign up for their email list and wait for a promo code. She was really happy with them!

Eyebuydirect.com–this is where I ordered ours. Despite some bleak reviews online they arrived in good condition in about three weeks.

Zennioptical.com–online reviews of this company are actually pretty great!

39dollarglasses.com–the only downside here is that $39 is as low as they go

I went ahead and ordered new glasses for Nick, too. I just called his eye doctor and asked them to give me his prescription. He hadn’t been there in over a year so I’m surprised that they didn’t insist he come in for a new exam, but I think he’s planning on heading to Target for his next one anyway–it’s pretty convenient to get your eyes examined someplace you already frequent. I asked him if he cared what kind of frames I picked out for him and he said no, but later that evening when I showed him the full-rimmed pair I’d chosen he thought I was joking. It’s a good thing he’s not very vain because they’re definitely not what he would have chosen for himself, but I like them!

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I’d tried on a pair of pink girls’ frames before sticker shock set in at Target and thought to myself that maybe I wouldn’t hate wearing my glasses so much if they were fun. So when I finally got around to ordering our glasses online I went for pink. What do you think? I love them!

We didn’t use our insurance for these (I’m not sure EyeBuyDirect even bills insurance, and I am not up for the task of submitting a claim myself) but even paying completely out of pocket we only spent about $80 total! It would have been half that if it weren’t for my nuclear-strength prescription, but perfect vision for the practically blind comes at a premium. If I can get myself in the habit of switching my contacts for eyeglasses every evening before bed maybe I can call myself one step closer to being an actual adult. Next task–getting myself to the dentist twice a year! I was doing well for a while there but I haven’t been since Jack was born. Speaking of the little guy, my heart is breaking at the realization that he’s probably doomed to wear glasses as well. Nick and I both HATED it and I’d rather not subject him to the same thing. Maybe by the time he’s old enough to need them they’ll have invented some miracle cure. Fingers crossed!

Designers often tell folks setting out to decorate their homes to start by determining how they want their space to “feel.” This is easier said than done, of course. How do you sort through the hundreds of images in magazines and online to separate what’s right for your home from what’s beautiful but not for you? Since the early days of Pinterest I’ve had a special board kept separate from all the rest, titled “rooms that inspire.” While most of my boards have dozens (if not hundreds) of pins, this one currently has only ten. It’s reserved for only those images that speak to me in a way that others don’t–those that evoke a feeling I’d like to recreate in my own home. And collecting these images slowly over time has helped me refine and put into words the look I’m going for around here. It’s often hard to track down original sources, which is why I’ve inserted the pins here rather than the images themselves. The downfall of Pinterest is that it makes it too easy for images to get lost in the abyss.

Cozy.

Classic.

Collected.

I like layered neutrals on walls and furniture and colorful accessories that are easy to change. I like a room that feels as if it’s been collected over time, rather than pulled together all at once. I like furniture that’s comfortable and is as easy to sink into for movie night as it is to perch with a glass of wine and good conversation. I like lots of natural light and natural materials–I’m gradually phasing out “faux” anything as I find it just doesn’t stand the test of time. I like photos on the walls, blankets on the sofa, and plenty of places to put your feet up. I like a living room that looks a little different from every other home on the block and says something about the people who live there. I like old houses and old furniture and generally anything that is worth fixing up and making work from one generation to the next. My dream is to have an old house full of furniture and finishes that only get better with age–metal that looks better with a little tarnish, leather that gets softer with wear, furniture that’s worth reupholstering, wood floors that can be refinished, and honed marble counters that tell a story of the meals prepared there (you call it stained, I call it patina). Someday we’ll be able to afford that kind of timeless quality, but for now I’m making do with thrift store, DIY, and inherited pieces (my fave!). If my home had a personality, I would want it to be a very calm but slightly quirky grandmother, and I can achieve that feel on any budget.

I hope you each had a wonderful weekend, and that you’re feeling warm and fuzzy on this chilly Monday!

I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothes. I buy most of what I wear on clearance or at the thrift store and hold onto it for years. I do like to look cute, though, and a trick I’ve used for years to efficiently make my way through racks of deeply discounted garments is to know my colors. It’s so much easier to scan quickly for colors that you know work well on you than to painstakingly assess each item one at a time. Once I spot something in a color that I like I’ll pull it out to see what I think of the fabric, cut, size, etc.

For a long time I just had an informal idea in my head of what colors I liked to wear, but a few months ago I googled seasonal color analysis and WOW has it been helpful! There are tons of sites out there, but I really like this one. Turns out I’m a soft summer. I totally saved the description as a screenshot on my phone so that I can refer to the color suggestions when I’m shopping.

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The Chic Fashionista

 

I don’t take a lot of responsibility for Nick’s wardrobe. I pretty much leave him to fend for himself and that often results in clothes that are tattered and out of style because he is so cheap that he asks for socks for Christmas so he won’t have to buy them himself. But every now and then if I’m shopping for myself I’ll look around for shirts for him and it’s nice to know what colors work well with his complexion. It was easy for me to take the color analysis quiz on his behalf because I look at him every day. He has obvious deep features with an overall warmth to his skin and eyes. So handsome =).

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The Chic Fashionista

And because I am a crazy person, I analyzed my baby’s colors. I can’t be wasting my money on clothes that don’t do  him justice! I’ve been saying since the day that this child was born that he just doesn’t look good in most shades of blue and it’s nice to finally be validated. Jack is warm all over and looks best in warm, muted colors. He’s also the cutest, sweetest baby that ever lived.

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The Chic Fashionista

It’s so much easier to save money on clothes when you’re not haphazardly buying stuff that may or may not actually look good on you. For women it’s also important to know what shapes work with your body (peplum is never going to be doing me any favors, but skinny jeans are surprisingly flattering). I guess that could be true for guys, too, but honestly I’m doing good if I can just get Nick to wear something without any holes. We’re taking family photos this weekend and I used these color suggestions to pull together outfits that look good on everybody and with each other! More on that tomorrow, I think. Have a happy Thursday, y’all. One more day til the weekend!

I am not a fancy photographer. I used a basic point-and-shoot camera for a long time, and even now that I have a DSLR I shoot in auto mode 99.99% of the time. If I’m away from home I use my iPhone–no way am I gonna be lugging around a bulky camera and worrying about it getting broken the whole time. I snap a few photos and move on with my life. But I do like to think that thanks to this blog my photography skills have improved measurably, and I’m pretty confident these days that I can take a decent picture of my kid or my house. I thought it’d be fun to share some really accessible and easy-to-implement tips with y’all. You CAN take great pictures even without a fancy camera or Photoshop.

The biggest, number one, most important thing I can say is to never, ever, ever, EVER, use flash. Leave it to the professionals and their fancy bounce cards and diffusers. Even with my DSLR flash goes very wrong, very fast. Below is a photo that I took this morning in one of the darkest corners of my house on an overcast day. The left is with flash, the right is without.

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That one on the left is BLEH, am I right? I have yet to meet a camera that didn’t have an option to turn off the flash while still shooting in auto mode. It’s usually a little lightning bolt with a line through it. On the iPhone it’s in the upper-left corner of the camera screen.

Now if you’re thinking that your photos will be too dark without flash, you might be right. Welcome to the wonderful world of photo editing. I use the basic program that came with my computer. On the left is the photo straight out of the camera and on the right I’ve tweaked it a bit.

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Check out the difference between the photo lit with flash, and the photo brightened on the computer. There is so much more depth and just overall not-suckiness to the one on the right.

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As for what I did, here’s a screenshot. I used the “fine tune” feature to up the brightness, increase the contrast and shadows just a smidge, and lower the highlights. I just play around until it looks good but most photos get a similar treatment. I also often increase the saturation by clicking on “adjust color”, but not for this photo.

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Now that we’ve got that under control, the next big frontier is embracing the crop. This is a photo that I took of Cassie and her mom at the baby shower I hosted last weekend. In addition to brightening it a smidge, I cropped it to get rid of all that wasted space around the perimeter and focus on the people. It’s an easy step that can really make a photo more frame-worthy.

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Here are some more photos that I cropped from our visit to my sister’s baby goat. It’s a subtle change that can really make a difference. (btw these were both taken with an iPhone!)

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And now for the final whammy–skipping flash, playing around with editing, and cropping to take a photo from “eh,” to “impressive!”

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Big difference, right? And it takes maybe 1-2 minutes per photo (and of course turning the flash off takes no time at all). So, in summary:

  • abolish the use of flash
  • say yes to editing
  • cropping is your friend

I hope you find these tricks as easy and helpful as I do! Like I said, I’m certainly no expert and I’m actually really lazy so if I can do it you can do it. Even a cell phone camera can churn out frame-worthy pics if you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve!