Sunday, December 30, 2012

Adventures in picture taking-Upperville, VA edition

Today was my first day actually going out and playing around with my camera. After receiving it from Shaun for Christmas I was more than ready to get out there and start shooting.  I've had several days to get out and take some pictures but the monotony of having an entire week off made it near impossible to get up off the couch. Also, I figured I could at least google a little, youtube a little and scour the blogs  for photography tips. It did help somewhat. I figured out how to change my iso, what the M,A,S, and P meant on the camera as well as the basics of aperture, shutter speed, iso and how they all work together.   I still have a lot to learn about photography. But it was a gorgeous day and Middleburg, Upperville, Paris, Va and the Blue Ridge mountains are only a 30 minute drive away so I decided to take a little drive out to the country to see what I could do.

I was planning on being really ballsy and trespassing, climbing up on rocks and splashing through muddy ditches, squeezing through barbed wire and getting up close and personal with peoples houses. The truth is, I was just too chickenshit to get up, close and personal to get some really amazing shots that I could have gotten.

Still though, it's not a total loss since I'm still learning how to use this rig and still figuring out what actually makes good photography, well, good.

You can see a few snapshots that made the cut below.  I don't think it's too terrible for my first time. Tomorrow I'll continue doing my research on DSLR techniques and maybe head to downtown Fairfax to snap some more photos and mail that etsy order that I've been procrastinating on for a few days...*whoops*

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Adventures in photo taking

They may not be the best quality photos I've taken so far, but they are certainly my favorite subject matter.

I really love the dual serious faces on the first picture and Meatwads still ominous, threatening face in the second. Such a little gangster

What today was supposed to be-with a happy ending and an entirely too long read

Today I had big plans. Big, happy, motivated plans. 

After reading up on the basics of a dslr camera, I was still pretty clueless as to what I was doing, but I had this newfound bout of energy and motivation to get out there and snap some photos, play around with the buttons and settings and snap away until the people around me got weirded out and started whispering. 

I was stoked.

My plan was to head out to beautiful Middleburg, Va.  Middleburg is quite possibly my favorite place in northern Virginia.  Middleburg is a little Main Street town with upscale boutiques, antique stores galore, great little delis, a french restaurant and even a butcher. Oh, and did I mention it has an amazing vintage clothing store? Yeah I know, a dream come true, right? Well anyways, my plan was to head out to Middleburg, surrounded by rolling hills, vast green horse farms and the beautiful blue ride mountains in the background and take some amazing photos that I could blog about and share with the internet why it is such a magical place.

That was the plan.

Have you ever done something that was so brain-numbingly stupid, something that was so painfully ironic because you thought about not doing that exact thing many many times and somehow still managed to do it? Well that's what happened to me today. I packed up my camera, lens, purse, layered up in scarves and hat and sweater and headed off. It was only 3/4 of the way into my drive that I realized, I had left my camera battery at home in the charger.

In the words of Red Foreman, "What a dumbass."

You see, not only was this an incredibly amateur and dumb thing to do, but I had told myself about half a dozen times (after reading up on photography websites) that I would not do that. I would not forget my SD card, I would not leave my battery or extra lens. etc. etc. So here I am, driving out to this beautiful, somewhat remote place and I had done just that. Color me bitter.

Here I am in the car, cursing myself and my stupidity, furiously texting and tweeting at stop lights to share with the world how dumb I am, as if it would somehow lessen the blow. Here I am, raging out and a thrill to watch, I'm sure, for all my vehicular neighbors and I realized, there's always tomorrow.

Now, don't get me wrong, I was still fuming and desperate at this thoughtless action by me. But there is something about driving out into the country, with the sun slowly settling onto the horizon and The Avett Brothers pandora station seranading you through the winding roads that just has this tranquilizing effect.  I did manage to snap one shot, through the car window, on my iPhone. 

Clearly this is not the work of a professional, and the glare of my reddit case in the window is a little bit obnoxious but you can just see a smidgeon of what I mean about the pure beauty of the area. Even with my poor attempt at an instagram redemption, the beauty of the place sort of overcomes most of the novice obstacles I put in place.

So before you shake your head at me, the reason I couldn't turn around and get my camera was because it was already late in the day, the sun was setting early (as it does this time of year) and the stores were closing in less than an hour. If I had turned around I would have missed most of that glorious afternoon light as well as any chance of stopping in some stores before I came back.

So my revised plan was to do a little thrifting while out in Middleburg. The thing about thrifting is, you're getting whatever leftovers someone donated. So common sense dictates that if you shop in a a thrift store that's in a bad/ghetto area, you'll be getting bad/ghetto results. If you shop in a high end area, such as Middleburg, you're receiving the leftovers of senators wives, wealthy estate owners and fantastic articles of clothing passed down from grandma in her little farm house.

The problem with this, is that most people know what they are doing and therefore they will jack up the prices.  I decided to stop into the Humane Society Thrift store that's on Main Street. Surrounded by boutiques and banks and expensive restaurants, it's bound to have some treasures, right?

Well, I had been into the thrift store a bit over a year prior and I had no idea what I was looking for and therefore had no desire to take home anything that was there. This time, though, I was prepared.  The place is a tiny little thing. Nestled between a fancy (expensive) boutique and a little ice cream parlor. But the space leaves a bit to be desired. Wherever you go, you have to squeeze in to let someone pass. Nevertheless I found a beautiful green blazer with gold buttons that was in mint condition from Anne Taylor. Better yet, the coat was only $20! A bit more, clearly, than most thrift stores but considering what it was and the condition it was in, I couldn't pass it up. I found a paperback cover of Stephen Hawkings, A Brief History of Time and approached the little old lady who was talking about fancy oyster plates with the customer ahead of me.  Unfortunately, as I walked up to the counter, I read on the wall "LOCAL CHECKS AND CASH ONLY-NO DEBIT OR CREDIT CARDS". I lost my bank card and haven't been able to withdraw cash for about 2 months and haven't gotten a new one because I've just used my credit cards, racked up points and paid them off. So I quickly returned the coat and the book and stepped out onto the puddle, sun-setting brick sidewalk.

Turn around and go home now? NEVARR!! I figured I had come all this way, it was at least worth a little attempt at reviving this failed trip. I decided to head down the street to Timmie Jane (the vintage clothing store I was telling you about) and see if I could find some goodies. This place was UH-MAZING.  Big leather and fur trimmed coats from the 60s, sweaters and dainty dresses from the 70s, mid-century purses and jewelry, it was like stepping into my dream of a store. The only problem, they are a little bit out of my price range.  Ever since I started thrifting, I find it odd and almost impossible to spend any real amount of money on clothes.  So I sulked through the racks, appreciating the beauty of every thread. Evesdropping on the clerk telling the girls in the store how the owner goes to auctions in NY and PA to buy all the vintage items she has (must be quite nice) and then I slipped out the front door, back onto the street to the car with a heavy chest and shallow steps.  As I got into the car, the sun glaring at me from the point between the trees and the road, I decided I'd stop at anything along the way that would still be open.  In Aldie, which is an adjacent, less frilly, equally as adorable town, there was a "thrift" store that was more of an antique store/vintage clothing store called Diamonds and Rust. I stopped in and a friendly lady greeted me at the door. With 20 minutes until they closed, I promised I'd be quick. She assured me she had no plans and was in no sort of a rush. Again the problem here were the prices, less than Timmie Jane but still out of budget. I loved many a thing in that shop, including a perfect mid-century, heart-collard light plaid dress for $55. Again, sadly in love but I couldn't bring myself to do it. (in hindsight I should snatched it up and asked to change there so I could wear it home but I find it best to sleep on impulse decisions).  So I browsed the little shop and bid adieu to the lady at the counter who was just as sweet in her goodbye as she was in her hello.

I walked back to the car and decided to call it quits. If nothing else, it was a nice drive out to the country.

On my way back though I became determined again to see if there was at least something I could on the way that resembled a real thrift store.  I mean, there has to be something between 3 towns, right?

Well I google mapped again and found something that I had never seen before. A little thrift store actually on my way back home on the right side of the street! Must be a sign, right? Well, reading the yelp reviews, the general consensus was "stuff is piled haphazardly" and "it's like going thru someones attic stuff everywhere".  


The crazy thing about this place is you would've missed it if not for searching.  It's connected to an old truck stop/service center that may or may not be out of commission. I was concerned that since it was already after 5PM they would be closed like everything else in nearby Middleburg.  A broken parking lot beckoned me to the piles of junk that sat outside. I walked to the door and the sign said 8PM on Saturday. What luck!  When I walked inside, I realized the yelp reviews couldn't have been more accurate.

Piled along the walls was stuff, Books, cds, dvds, purses, trinkets.  Rows upon rows of childrens and mens clothes in the back. An entire wall of purses stacked upon purses. I had to literally dig through them to find hidden gems beneath fake and plastic purses 6 deep Behind a beaded curtain was more clothes. Womens clothes, mens coats, duffel bags and pet carriers in a massive pile in the back. The stench of a dead mouse definitely smacked me in the face when I stepped through the beaded curtain.

Piles and piles and piles of junk. Everywhere. Like a hoarders dream.  But this is my favorite type of place. The places where you have to work for what you want to find are always the best. Most of the womens clothes were Gap and Old Navy and most of the purses were the Liz Claiborne "Free when you buy perfume" type of bags. But I did come away with some real gems!

All of these things I got today for under $30! Paying $27 for thrift store finds is a little high in my book but I found some pretty awesome stuff, starting with that mirror. Isn't it gorgeous? Yeah I had a little fun taking myspace-style pictures in it. But in all fairness, I never do that, so...cut me some slack. Next up, I found a gorgeous vintage crop top in excellent condition as well as a cute cut out leather bag and a legit Coach bag! I've found many a knock-off in my thrifting adventures but I can chock this up to the first real "designer" bag that I've found! It is in fairly good condition minus a small smudge on the front that I might be able to clean. Pretty exciting!

My favorite thing of all, is something I almost missed while waiting to be rung up. When I say rung up it was waiting for the guy to stop what he was doing so I could scooch some stuff on a cluttered surface to write him a check.  My favorite thing is these unused, like new Madeline activity book and paper doll book. They are in beautiful condition and it appears no one ever used them! The vinyl stickers are amazing and I'm tempted to keep them for myself. I am a sucker for stickers.

So overall, a day that started terrible and continued on hopelessly actually ended on a really good note! I'll sell the crop jacket and maybe the cutout bag on etsy but I don't think I'll be able to let go of those charming little Madeline books.

Shaun might wake up in the middle of the night to find me playing with paper dolls in the living room. It's not the worst hobby I could have, right?

Friday, December 28, 2012

: /

So I was supposed to drive down to North Carolina this weekend with my friend Aiyshen to see our friend Kristi who just bought a house.

I'm so ridiculously proud of and happy for Kristi that she has embarked on this amazing journey and didn't chicken out and change her mind like I would have.  We've been planning on coming down for a few weeks now and I was excited to see her new place and also see her face since it's been months!

The problem lies in a few different things.

1. My car is acting up. I work for a shop. Yes, I know. The problem is she only works up when no one else is looking. I know it sounds ridiculous but it's true. They checked her out and found a few minor things that aren't big but she wasn't making these crazy noises when they looked at her 3 days in a row but now it happens all the time. The only problem is that the shop is closed until next Wednesday. this is heavenly for me to have this much time off but also a little bit of a headache since no one can look at her. You're probably guessing that I love my car and you're correct. She's my baby, my dream car, my favorite thing in the world. So when she is sick it makes me super sad. Also, I think getting stranded 4 hours into a road trip to North Carolina would probably be a really really bad time.

2. The second problem is that we are supposed to get a snow storm tomorrow. Hooray east coast weather! It's supposed to freeze over tonight and start snowing around 3AM.

I was already a little apprehensive because of my car but I didn't want to disappoint Kristi and I definitely wanted to see her.  But I spoke to Aiyshen earlier on the phone and she explained to me what I was thinking in the back of my head all along. The signs are there, it's not a good idea for us to go.

While this breaks my heart, I believe in signs and I believe that there were far too many ominous signs preventing us from going this weekend. It actually made me feel a little bit better that Aiyshen felt the same way and lessened this feeling of guilt a little bit.

Oh and number 3 is that I don't have Kristis Christmas present completed yet. I'm making her a bucket full of new homeowner goodies so she won't ever be without a stray pair of scissors or thumb tacks etc. all the things that you have but are never around when you need them.

So the bummer of a lost road trip and visiting a friend aside, I think it's quite good we didn't do this weekend. Kristis birthday is in February and Aiyshen said maybe we could surprise her for her birthday! I think this is a much better idea since the signs have been there and also since this gives me time to bake cupcakes for her birthday, cookies for our road trip and some much better planning so we can stop and do some thrifting : )

All in all, I think it's a good thing we aren't going but I still feel terrible about letting her down. I told Aiyshen to let her know that it just means she gets way better presents from us because of it!

One good thing about today is that Meatwad has been extra snuggly. I'm not sure what it is but I forced him to snuggle with us yesterday and ever since he's been quite affectionate.

am I wearing bunny pajamas? Yes. I have no shame in this. I love bunnies. Bunny eveything. Could you tell by how many pictures I took of Meatwad?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pieces of a day-Christmas edition

The pieces of Christmas day.

I spent Christmas eve celebrating with my dad and little brother. Since Adam is 9, his tastes change yearly so I'm never without ideas of what to get him.   This year it's Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Both things I approve of and both things that are easy to buy for.

After Christmas eve I came home to Virginia and Shaun and I spent Christmas day with his family. First at his parents house and then at his aunt and uncles. It's hard to believe I've been a part of his families holidays for five whole years, my how the time flies. Every year I enjoy getting together with his family and sharing hugs, laughs, food and gifts. They always remark about how much they love my gift wrapping and as much as I am humble about it I really do appreciate the compliments. I love wrapping things. I think presentation is equally as important when you are sharing something with people as the actual item! Shaun's dad even made an excellent suggestion! (He is really really amazing at anything business related and both of his parents have been so sweet to take such an interest in my etsy shop and encourage me to keep going with it!) His dad said why don't I offer a gift wrap option on the etsy shop? It's easy, quick money and adds a whole new facet of business to what people can do with the treasures they buy! I think this is probably a genius idea seeing as the first item I sold was a birthday present for someones sister!

The key now is to stock up on pretty ribbon and paper, wrap boxes and photograph them and then figure out pricing. The weather has been too crazy the past couple days for me to even think about braving the cold and stopping at Michaels but Friday on my way back to Maryland I'll stop and stock up on all the holiday items for next year and see what other pretty wrapping things I can stock up on.   The more I think about the idea, the more excited I get!  I do love to present things in a nice, pretty way. As un-utilitarian as it is, I think it's important to add things to life that exist simply to look nice and put a smile on someones day. It's amazing how much a pretty wrapped box can brighten someones day!

1/2/3. Shaun's sister and her fiance got a brand new black lab puppy named Sampson. Needless to say, the first thing I photographed after opening my amazing new camera from Shaun, was this little sleeping angel!
4. Shaun also hooked me up with the coolest 300mm telephoto lens and all night I kept telling him to go far away so I could take pictures with it.
5/6. This is their other dog, Lola. The fluffiest, chubbiest husky you will ever meet. (also the hungriest, she will sit her face on your lap until you give her food when you're eating)
7. Every year Shaun and his sisters get their mother a nice present that's from all the kids. This year he picked up a macbook air for her. I remember getting a little dizzy in the apple store when he bought it, I might have laptop fever and as much as I say I hate apple, I might need to get myself a macbook!
7/8. Shaun's youngest sister, Sam with little Sampson. I was incredibly proud of the action shot I got of the puppy!
9. Getting ready to leave for Judy and Ricks house
10. Shaun's dads best of a car.  I'd be a little bitter that I haven't gotten to drive it yet if I wasn't so scared of losing control and ending up in a ditch somewhere.  So amazing!
11. The wreath on Judys door
12. Shaun's sweet southern Grandma, Grandma Whitt. She no longer grabs my face and tell me to behave, so I think she is starting to like me ; )
13. Their huge Christmas tree. This one wasn't as huge as last year, but still a monstrosity!
14. Aunt Judy and Shaun's Momma in the kitchen, cookin up some delicious food!
15. Little Christmas town
16. Shaun's cousin, Tim, posing like a supermodel in front of the fireplace.
17.  Someone looks a little suspect of my shutter fever
18. Family shot of Shauns sister, Stephanie, her fiance Jason and the newest puppy member Sampson!
19. a close up of the sweet pup
20. The fire is finally roaring
21. Setting up the dinner table with Steph and Jason canoodling in the background
22. Everyone sitting down to dinner
23. Shaun's sister Sam, cousin Tim, cousin Alicia and Sampson
24. Playing with my awesome new lens!
25. snuggling up to the fire after dinner.
26. puppy kisses!
27. little reindeer at Momma Hicks' house. I cannot WAIT to have a mantle of my own to decorate!
28. Grandpa Whitt petting the Lola
29. Shaun and his dad sharing a bro hug ; )
30. Momma Hicks and Shaun
31. a little leftover pile of holiday ribbon from the unwrapping.

oh and did I mention Shaun's mom gave me vintage pyrex for Christmas! She is the sweetest! I can't wait to go on many antiquing adventures with her while she's here from Singapore!

Happy Happy holidays to you and yours!


About Me

My photo
Hello! My name is Rachel, I just recently moved into a new home with my boyfriend of 7 years. This blog is all about the things I love, sunny days, crafty things, delicious recipes and home decor! I also share with you pretty things that I love, a little bit of fashion and a whole lot of pictures of my fur baby, Bear. I'm so glad you're here!