I recently began taking a photography class and I've enjoyed playing around with different lenses and settings on my camera. This week we studied aperture and I thought I would share some of my "homework" shots:
I hope everyone has a lovely Memorial Day weekend!
Tragedy struck our little home this past week. It seems a snake has taken up residence near our little backyard pond and ate one of our goldfish, Park.
We got Eleanor and Park two years ago this June and I've grown quite attached to the pair in that time. I'm not an experienced fish-owner, but my expectations for the life expectancy of two pet store fish was very low. We had a few times where I was sure we were going to kill them through a major algae infestation that we couldn't get under control, a severe heat wave that left the pond water warm to the touch, weeks on end when the bubbler refused to work and that one time when I accidentally sprayed a bunch of hose water in to the pond.
They are tough little guys and their tenacity had made us complacent, so when I saw the snake the other day, I wasn't overly concerned for their safety. The snake was small, after all, and was probably only after all the tiny tadpoles that dotted the pond. We scared the snake away, unable to catch it, but it didn't really occur to either my husband or I that Eleanor and Park were in serious danger.
Of the pair, Park was the more brave by far. When the water level would get low from lack of rain and the fountain cord was almost level with the surface of water, he liked to do a little jump over it, almost as if he was showing off. "He's Sea World-ing it" my husband liked to say. I fretted over him swimming too much near the surface when he had plants and rocks to hide under, worried a bird or one of the neighborhood cats that liked to visit our yard would spot him and scoop him up. It makes me think that maybe this habit in particular lead to was his demise. Did he try to make a swim for it? Did he hide and try to go deeper to get away? Was it just bad luck? We'll never know. I just hope it was quick and painless for his sake.
Rest in peace, little buddy. We'll see you on the other side.
My husband and I took a much-needed mini getaway to Charleston this past week. It feels like forever since we've left our little part of the world and it was nice to get away—even if it was just a few hours away. Some of the highlights included:
1. Seeing one of my favorite bands again at the Pour House in Charleston.
I freaking love Highly Suspect, guys. If you don't know them, you should check them out. The music is great and they are such a cool group of guys who obviously love what they do. This was a smaller club than the venue where we saw them in Wilmington and we were lucky to get a good spot right by the front of the stage. The rest of the crowd was a little rowdy, but it was all in good fun and we arrived back at our hotel in the early hours of the morning, with our clothes soaked in beer and covered in other people's sweat. The other bands that opened were really great too: The Inverted is a group of three young guys out of Florida and Slothrust from New York. I couldn't believe the amount of great music we got to hear in one night for a measly $15 ticket. Don't sleep on these guys for sure...
2. (Related to #1) Seeing Johnny Stevens jogging
Earlier the day of the show, our route took us by the show venue on the way back from seeing the Angel Oak Tree. My husband wondered allowed if maybe the tour bus was already there, so we both turned to check and there was Johnny Stevens, the lead singer/guitarist, starting to jog away from the club and bus. There was about 10 seconds where I thought we should turn around and try to talk to him, but my husband pointed out, rightfully, that that would be crazy. In hindsight, I'm glad we didn't. He probably spent hours riding on the bus with other people and this was his first moment to have some alone time all day. Celebrities: they jog just like the rest of us.
3. Seeing the Angel Oak Tree
There's nothing like seeing something pretty awe-inspiring in nature to make you feel insignificant in a good way. It's also nice to know that there's so much beauty that exists in a world full of so much ugliness. This tree is thought to be one of the oldest living things in the country.
4. Brookgreen Gardens
Once four rice plantations, today Brookgreen Gardens holds the largest collection of outdoor sculpture in the world among other exhibits and attractions. Perhaps we're uncultured heathens, but I enjoyed seeing the cute animals in the Gardens' zoo more than the sculpture or anything else. I also loved that all of the animals there are rescued and it's for this reason that they refer to it as the "animal sanctuary."
5. The search for Bill Murray
Bill Murray has a home in Charleston and spends quite a bit of his time there...or so the Internet has told me. We looked around for him everywhere we went but the closest we came to having a Bill Murray encounter was hearing another couple talk about the time they ran in to Bill Murray at a Charleston hotel. They even had a photo with him to prove it.
Until next time, Mr. Murray. I'll find you some day.
We are well on our way to summer in my part of the world and that means a lot more time spent outdoors. I like to get some sun on my skin for my Vitamin D levels, but I do use sunscreen whenever I spend any significant time outdoors. I hate using chemical sunscreens not only because most are filled with terrible ingredients that are skin-irritants, but also because chemical sunscreens may be linked to hormone disruption.
BeautyCounter is a fantastic company that is active in advocating for the elimination of toxins in beauty protects and who also empowers their consultants to promote their brand as well as healthier skincare for women, men and children. I have enjoyed discovering all of the wonderful products they offer like this Protect Stick Sunscreen.
Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil*, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Isostearic Acid, Lauryl Laurate, Lecithin, Mica, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Silica, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*, Tocopherol, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract.
*certified organic ingredients
Pros: No chemical Sunscreens which are linked to hormone disruption. They only use non-nano zinc oxide as a mineral sunblock. Convenient packaging, nice scent.
Final Thoughts: I was a little skeptical about this product but it really does work! I wore it on my face under makeup for hours at an outdoor event and had absolutely no sun on my face at the end of the day. This little gem stays in my purse and I use it everyday. I love the convenient stick which makes it easy to roll it on without getting my hands all greasy and messy.
Hello, all! Sorry I've been MIA lately. I wanted to take time out from my blogging hiatus to share some photos I snapped at a recent kayak and bird-watching tour. I had the opportunity to take the tour for a writing assignment and it was really a lot of fun, albeit physically demanding. I was chauffeured around because I had to take photos, but what little bit of paddling I did do was pretty tough. Our guide said that he has taken 10-hour kayaking trips before, and I can't even imagine how much upper-body strength that would require.
It was a beautiful spring morning—the kind that makes you feel really alive and grateful for the magic of the yearly renewal and rebirth of all things green. I do love this time of year.
Do you shop at Thrive Market? I discovered it earlier this year and love the great prices on natural foods, beauty products and supplements. They also almost always have promos going on where you get a free product to try for orders over a certain amount. Who doesn't love free samples?
Here are a few of my favorite things to order:
Pure Aloe leaf juice with nothing added. This is great to sip on for occasional indigestion.
I love, love, love this dark chocolate from Alter Eco. It's non-GMO, super intense with a rich chocolate flavor and the company uses sustainable and ethical practices.
These Banana snack bites have just two ingredients: bananas and coconut. These are perfect to keep in your purse or work desk for when low blood sugar strikes. Each chewy little bite tastes like a piece of banana bread.
This Xclear nasal spray is my savior during allergy season or just when I'm feeling stuffy from too many dog cuddles. It's drug-free and non-addictive like traditional nasal sprays.
I just discovered this Tava ghee and I'm sort of obsessed with it. It's creamy, spreadable and non-waxy like some ghees on the market. It's perfect for high-temperature cooking and adds tons of flavor to roasted vegetables.
Are you new to Thrive? You can try it for free before signing up for a yearlong membership and get 15% off.
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday and is pumped for a fantastic 2016.
I've been enjoying some down time, trying to get myself organized and spending lots of time with friends and family over the past two weeks. First order of business for 2016 is some serious purging. My husband and I have been watching a lot of Tiny House Hunters and it has inspired me to try to live a little bit more minimally. Especially now, with all the new stuff that we acquired over the holiday, I'm feeling a serious need to get rid of things. This is also, my husband will tell you, my OCD kicking in.
Some photos from the past week:
My friend and I hit up the New Year's Day sale at Dillard's and got some amazing deals on clothes and shoes. I love my new Vince Camuto booties.
We finally have some cool weather where I live, so it was nice to kick back with family around the fire. My aunt and uncle's puppy, Sadie, is so adorable and let us all pass her around like she was a big baby.
This is one of my favorite times of the year because collards are always on sale, and I always make a huge pot of them New Year's Day. They may not look very appetizing in this terrible photo, but they were utterly delicious.
North Carolina, hands down, has the prettiest sky of anywhere I have ever lived.
I hope everyone has a wonderful 2016!
I'm not sure if I've ever written about my love for Bill Murray before on the blog, but, in my regular life, I talk about it often.
I think I first fell in love with Bill Murray when I was kid and saw Ghostbusters—sarcastic Dr. Peter Venkman? *swoons*. I was a little too young to watch him on SNL, but I've seen it since and he was amazing. I think what really sealed the deal for me in terms of my lifelong love for Bill was watching him on one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies: Scrooged.
I know I'm pretty unique in my love for this movie because when I mention it to other people I get a lot of blank stares. Why do I love this movie so much? I think it's a combination of things. I remember watching the 1950's adaptation of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim and being utterly terrified by the scene when he's visited by Marley's ghost and he's shaking those chains. There was a lot of spookiness in that movie and I really couldn't connect with it at such a young age because I was so scared.
It took the silliness and well-written comedy in Scrooged to really help me appreciate Dickens' A Christmas Carol and its lovely tale of redemption. To this day, I am still moved by the ending at Frank's transformation, and when little Calvin speaks for the first time since his father's death: "God bless us, everyone," I get really choked up.
Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in sappy movies :) What will you be watching this coming week?
In case anyone cares, Lost in Translation, Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore and St. Vincent are my other all-time favorite Bill Murray movies. I can watch them anytime.
Brand: RMS Beauty
Product: "Un" Cover-up (Foundation)
EWG Rating: 1 (Low Hazard)
Scent: Very little scent
Ingredients: *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopherol(non-GMO), *Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, and may contain: [+/- Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77492, CI 77491, CI 77499]
*certified organic ingredients
Pros: Excellent, safe ingredients. Goes on smoothly and feels great on.
Cons: Coverage is a little light if you are trying to hide under eye circles or blemishes
Final Thoughts: I LOVE this product. It's extremely difficult to find a chemical-free concealer or foundation that really works, but this comes very close. The coconut oil in it makes it blend on to your skin like a dream and it provides a light coverage that helps to even out skin tone and it doesn't feel greasy or heavy either like a lot of foundations. I find that blending it with a drop of my Primal Life Organics face serum helps it glide on ever better. If you are looking for a safe alternative to chemical foundations, definitely give this a try.
I've been doing a little mini detox this week and feeling awesome. I've gotten a little lazy about my nutrition and noticed some old digestive troubles coming back, so I wanted to nip in the bud before it got any worse. I also thought it was a good opportunity to hit the reset button before the week of Christmas when I'll probably be eating tons of cookies and treats.
What does detoxing look like for me? It's mostly eating a lot of easily-digested foods like cooked veggies, lots of liquids like teas and TONS of broth. I've also upped my gelatin intake which was good timing thanks to a delivery from Zint who sent me some collagen peptides and gelatin to try out and review. I'll let you guys know what I think after I've been using them for while.
I'm also trying to up my omega 3's by eating more fish and seafood. Yesterday I ate oysters for lunch today I'm having sardines. The latter are not my favorite, by far, but I do feel better when I eat more seafood and I can definitely tell a difference in my skin.
Some of the things that I Iove for detoxing.....
Epsom salt baths are great for getting extra magnesium in to your body which helps aid in the detoxification process. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium, so chances are you would benefit from adding some to your bath water and taking a long soak.
I also like to put epsom salts in the water when I soak my feet for pedicures. It helps ease sore runners' feet and makes your skin super soft.
Lately, I'm kind of obsessed with making chicken broth. I make probably two batches a week and use it for soups, cooking my veggies, or even enjoy just drinking a hot mug of it at night. The gelatin in the broth is very healing for the digestive tract and is wonderful for your hair, skin, nails and joints.
I drink a cup of licorice root tea at least every other day. It's delicious, for one, but it also is very good for digestion. The licorice root helps increase mucus production in the digestive tract which helps soothe it and ease inflammation. Licorice root also helps ease acid reflux and decreases bloating.
I plan on doing a longer detox series on the blog for after the holidays to coincide with New Year's resolutions. Stay tuned....
I hope everyone has a great weekend!
Hello, I'm Kate. When I'm not reading or stalking authors, I'm a writer who lives in the Wilmington, NC area. Thanks for visiting my blog where I write about books, writing, healthy foods, yoga, and life.