Andrea's blog

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Breaking Busy

Coffee, birds and books this morning... I'm taking #breakingbusy to heart.

The book is called Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington - If you're an overwhelmed mom with a jam-packed calendar, you might want to give it a read. $8.99 on Kindle...you don't even have to go to the bookstore to get it!

Some, ok LOTS of people say YES to things they shouldn't out of guilt or obligation.  I hear it from people I talk to every single day.  If that's you, then you definitely should read this book. 

Me? I don't fall into that category.  I'm ok with saying no to things that don't match up with my schedule, talents and interests.  Just ask the room moms from the kids' classes over the past several years. 

However...I do have a way-too-full calendar of things I say YES to because they sound like good things, fun things, and important things.  I'm not finished with the book yet, but it is already helping me identify a better way to filter the opportunities that come my way to determine what's really *most* important and where I'm called to be at any given time (because that calling can change, you know!). 

Our lives have gotten all cluttered up with things that we think we  “should” do; so much so that we can’t figure out what the things are that we were meant to do.

Breaqking Busy by Alli Worthington

Here's to Breaking Busy and being more intentional with our time and energy...

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Generations Photo

Inspired by the photo below, my mom asked me to put together a Generations photo including my Grandmother (Alice), my mom (Audrey), me (Andrea) and my daughter (Ayla). 

Since we live in different areas of the world, we had non-matching backgrounds.  With a little bit of Photoshop magic, here's what I came up with:

We liked having the youngest and prettiest generation as the largest and clearest photo! :)

This was my first attempt at something like this, but I think with a little practice and a more solid background, it could be done really well.  Maybe at the next family get-together we'll do a more "professional" version--and maybe I'll put a little makeup on for that photo!

While we were at it, I also couldn't help but try a more modern version--since this is how most people look at photos these days. :)

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Seeing Red

I get bored every once in a while.  Changing my hair color is easier (and causes much less turmoil) than changing other things in my life--not that other things need to change, they don't!   In the past few weeks, I was feeling restless and a little bit adventurous. It was time for a change. 

After a couple of years with caramel ombre & balayage highlights, with some extra light strands this past summer, I thought maybe I'd try something dark with a tint of red for a while.

My inspiration colors of "chocolate cherry" and "cherry cola" hair pictures took over my Pinterest Hair board for a while:

Chocolate Cherry Hair Color

It's definitely a big change!

It's taking some getting used to...but I think it'll be kind of fun and moody for a little while.

So far though...I'm not loving how it looks when it's naturally curly.  :(  (No photos of that fuzzy mess yet...) Maybe that means I'll need to fix my hair more often? 

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Hanging Around: ENO DoubleNest & 9ft Atlas Straps

Look what showed up this weekend!

Ayla used some birthday money that has been burning a hole in her money envelope for months and Ben and I bought a "family" ENO hammock so we could ALL enjoy hanging around...

The straps and included carabiners make them really easy to put them up, and thankfully, we have three trees in our yard that work perfectly to hang the two hammocks next to each other.  The set of 9ft straps also allow us to *just* reach across the diagonal of those trees too for better "adult" hammock-ing. 

Unfortunately, Ayla and Paxton didn't stay this peaceful for long.  When I went out to check on them, I found that Ayla had thrown berries in the air to make it "rain", which landed in Paxton's hammock, where he promptly--though inadvertently--stomped them and squished them all over the orange fabric as he wiggled around. 

Stained.  Instantly.  We should've bought black...

After a couple of washes (super-gentle hand-wash cold cycle!), the stains have faded, but they're still there.  They'll serve as a reminder that kids can't always handle "nice" things -- and "Nothing gold can stay."  

Thankfully, it wasn't torn--which really WOULD have been tragic.

And Ayla does LOVE her hammock.  She said she could "swing and rest and read and look at the trees ALL day long!"  With the gorgeous fall weather we've been getting, she just might.

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Girl Scouts Badge Work: Digital Photography

Each of the moms in Ayla's girl scout troop take turns heading up a badge and running a meeting during the year.  Monday night was my night! We tackled the Digital Photography Badge.  

First we talked about the different kind of cameras: Point & Shoot, SLR & Mobile Devices

We talked about the diffferent settings: Automatic, Portrait, Sport, Landscape, Macro, Night, & Video

We discussed what makes a good photo and I gave them my 10 Tips for Taking Better Photos:

  1. Take LOTS of photos
  2. Change your perspective.
  3. Zoom In AND Out
  4. Turn off your flash.
  5. Check your background.
  6. Use the Rule of Thirds.
  7. Position your subjects.
  8. Read your camera's manual.
  9. Tell the story.

Then they headed out on assignment.  Each group was supposed to take 5 photos:

  • Portrait
  • Group of People
  • Detail
  • Landscape
  • Action

They seemed to have a lot of fun and we managed to cram a lot into one short meeting.  If we'd had more time, we would have spent some time editing and creating a project with our pictures, but we DID talk about all the cool things you can do with digital photography.

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Ghostly

Our neighborhood is starting to get their Halloween decorations out, so Ayla and Paxton have been asking again and again if we could decorate too. Last night, we made it happen.  We limit our Halloween decorating to the playroom and the front porch, though I'm sure they wish we had a huge and elaborate yard setup like many of our neighbors do.  I don't have quite that kind of commitment when we only get about 5 trick-or-treaters at our house. :)

So, for a few weeks, we have a pumpkin mantle...

And happy kids...(this accidental photo turned out to be nice and spooky!)

We've had a couple of crisp fall-like days this year...but today we're back up in the 80's and wearing shorts with the air conditioning on. :(  We'll just be thankful the air conditioning is working though!  The motor died out a couple of weeks ago, and Ben was able to replace a couple of parts and get it working again.  He's awfully handy...

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Super Blood Moon

I didn't realize what a phenomenon it was, but when Ben told the kids about the Super Blood Moon lunar eclipse that was going to happen last night, I picked up my camera and went outside with them to check it out. 

It was a fairly cloudy night here in Hoover, Alabama, so unfortunately, a good portion of the time, the eclipse was covered by clouds, but the clouds parted just long enough for us to get a peek of the process and the red hue.

It was a pretty cool thing to see--and I was impressed with how well my camera worked -- I can't take much credit for the photos other than pressing the shutter button.  My equipment did all the work.  My new Canon T6s camera and Sigma 18-250mm lens did all this in automatic settings with the flash turned off.  I did take out my tripod  after I got such a great shot without one (the top photo in this post), to get the photo above when the clouds parted again a little later in the evening.

And though it's grainy, I was even able to take a photo of Ayla and Ben watching the eclipse without having to use a flash.  Yay for a high ISO! :) Now I'm looking forward to taking some fun campfire pictures in a couple of weeks!

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So Long Big Tree...

Isn't it funny how something you rarely think about can actually hold so many memories?  This big tree next to our driveway has been a part of our daily life for over 8 years.

We trimmed it back the first day we arrived so that our moving truck would fit in the driveway. 

I took the kids' photos against the trunk of the tree more times than I can count.

We used it as a guide for where to back out of the driveway every single day that we've lived in this house. 

And Janel accidentally backed into it once--since then, I've called it Janel's tree. :)

How is it that a tree that was such a big part of our daily life rarely showed up in my photos?  I went digging and was finally able to find these photos (above) from the day we looked at this house when we were thinking about buying it, back in 2007.  And Google Maps street view can show us what it looked like this past winter:

Unfortunately though, something must have happened to this big old tree this year, because the leaves never grew back this spring and it was totally dead. :(

We are in the middle of having a whole bunch of landscaping work done in our backyard (more on that soon!), so last Friday when the tree-guys that work with our landscaper offered to chop it down for us for a good price, we jumped at the chance--and it came down within hours!

And by another great stroke of luck, the limb truck that we've all been waiting on for WEEKS to pick up piles of sticks and tree limbs all over the neighborhood showed up just an hour after the tree was down and all the workers had disappeared.  Paxton was entertained as he watched the man work on grabbing all those sticks and dropping them into his truck.

It was actually kind of sad to say goodbye to this tree, and we really hope whatever happened to it doesn't happen to the other great big tree in our front yard.

For now, it's a whole lot sunnier in the front yard, and I've got to find a new way to know where the driveway ends and grass begins when I back the car out of the driveway!

So long big tree!  We will miss you...

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Living Room Updates

Two years.  That's how long I've been searching for a TV stand for the living room.  It took up entirely too much of my brain-power and it's been a thorn in my side.

It's official. I like "decorated".  I do not like "decorating."

But, today, I'm happy to cross it off my list (along with several other new additions to the living room over the past several months) - new end table, new lamps, and new coffee table. 

Can I call this room finished yet?

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Six Inches = Worlds of Difference

Ever since we moved into this house 8 years ago, the microwave and oven situation has annoyed us.  The microwave was mounted WAY too low, and we couldn't get to the knobs for the stove and oven without bending over and reaching past the pots to access them.  Not to mention the fact that the oven was a hideous black with white trim (that we painted black a couple of times over the years, but the paint kept chipping).  Plus, the microwave door has broken and been patched together a couple of times on our watch.  It was a pretty sub-par situation for an otherwise, pretty-nice kitchen.

*photo taken during home inspection before we purchased the house

Earlier this summer, we decided we were ready to replace both the microwave and oven and finally address the height issue for the microwave.  But...that meant we had to lose a cabinet that was way too long for that spot, and since the cabinets were installed about 15 years ago, we were unlikely to find a new shorter 24" cabinet to match.  So we had to improvise. 

Here's a little better photo of how it looked a few years ago before we painted the kitchen:

One Saturday in June, we removed the cabinet and took down the microwave to see what we had to work with.  All summer, we've been cooking with the microwave on a 4ft table in the dining room, while we ordered new appliances and brainstormed ways to hang the new microwave higher.  It seems like it would be a simple project, but there are *always* challenges to work around. When we removed the cabinet, we had to finish off the ceiling, build a shelf, notch around the wood in order to use the outlet that was exactly behind where the top of the microwave needed to hang, deal with a pocket door behind the wall (which makes anchoring a shelf & microwave tricky), and try to find trim that matched our cabinets to keep it all looking "on-purpose".  Renovators deserve big bucks.  This stuff is not easy.

It took us all day, and LOTS of tools, but Ben built  a new shelf (that we now need to find something cool to put up there), mounted the microwave at an appropriate height (though Paxton disagrees), and we can now enjoy our new appliances.  Thankfully, we found a few strips of matching trim in the garage, an almost-same-color wood board to create a drop-ceiling, and we didn't kill each other or break anything else in the process! 

It may not look exciting to you, but this is an 8-year-old annoyance solved for us!

UPDATE:  We filled the gap. :)

It's nothing special, and might get replaced one day if we find something with a little more meaning or sentiment, but for now, these three items from At Home will certainly do...

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