New Year, New Goals

I’m not a big believer in New Year Resolutions. I think that everyone gets pumped up about them and 1 to 2 months later either give up or forget, which is great for my gym time (trying to workout in January with everyone and their mom is slightly annoying) but what does it accomplish in the long term? I’d rather make a list of attainable goals that I can look back on and be proud of.

I recently went to a monthly real estate meeting that had a motivational speaker visit and give a little pep talk to the group. The key take aways from that night were that you not only need to set goals, but you need to make them specific and attach a completion date to them so they become real, actionable, and attainable. It was even suggested that you make a goal poster or board that you can physically look at and remind yourself what you are working towards… think of it like a pinterest for real life ;)  So that is exactly what I set out to do with this post. Here are my specific personal goals I would like to work on throughout 2014:

  • Travel More –
    • Iceland
    • At least 1 National Park in the US
    • Locally to see nature that is close by, specifically waterfalls
  • Practice Yoga… at least once or twice a week
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Get better at taking photos – try new things
    • Landscapes
    • Waterfalls
    • Star and nighttime
  • Update my website and actually post to it
  • Procrastinate Less
  • Put down my phone and enjoy nature/my friends/life
  • Double my stock investment from 2013
  • Organize my closets!
I’m sure I could make the list 20 times larger, but this is what was on the top of my mind and priority. I’ve already started planning for a few of these and can’t wait to look back and reflect. What are your major goals for the week, month, year and beyond? Have you written them down yet and gotten specific about it? What are you waiting for?



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Why you should always shoot in RAW

This is sort of a quick and dirty <rant>, not a true post but what’s on my mind… If you are into photography at all, I am positive people are constantly asking you for advice on what next best thing is to buy to enhance their photos. Sure, it’s a no brainer that a full frame camera and sweet glass will definitely help with picture quality and I’m sure every photo blog in the world advocates it’s not the camera but the person behind it. Yes, all fine and dandy, I could write 100+ posts on all of that advice, but let’s get to the REAL point folks – for the love of all that is holy, please, please, please SHOOT IN RAW file format. Why? Because it saves the most possible data on your photo. JPEG shooting compresses it into nice and ugly pixels that when editing show up in all shades of green and purple splotches/boxes. This is how you are able to get soooo many shots onto your memory card, because of the compressed size. And guess what people? That data loss is permanent and can never be retrieved again. With a RAW file you can save later into a nice and compact jpeg, but not vice versa.  I can go on and on about it but I feel like a picture may be worth more than just my words.

The first rule of good photography is to take good photos – well duh (set up the shot, choose the necessary settings, frame it correctly, you get my point).Now realize, I had no intention of doing any photo editing with these photos other than saving them and giving them to my friend Trish, I was just joking around taking pics in her back yard. Nor do I necessarily condone overprocessing photos. What I want to show is the CAPABILITY between shooting in RAW and shooting in JPEG.


Original Photo no editing:

before photo editing

After total manipulation, going to the extreme in exposure, vibrance, saturation, clarity, etc: (also not perfect, I spent maybe 2 mins on this)

young child photo editing


Photo manipulation of a JPEG (simulated as I never shoot in JPEG – also I spent A LOT more time trying to get this photo to look as good as the RAW, like 30 minutes :/):

problems with editing jpeg

It may take a trained eye (or because I gotz skillz in editing) but there is almost a greenish quality to our jpeg photo and also what I like to refer to as the splotchy effect, and trust me, try putting this on a canvas or printing larger than 8×10 and you WILL be sorry:

difference between raw and jpeg

So go ahead and buy a new camera if yours doesn’t have an option to shoot in anything other than JPEG, otherwise take that puppy out and keep practicing… in RAW! Only after you realize that it’s not the camera or the lenses that will take you to the next level should you consider buying them ;)



Stain, it’s like paint for fences!

As you may or may not know, John and I bought a house about 6 months ago, and in true Christa fashion have been working to make it our own ever since. Yes this is a different house from the last rehab post (that was a throwback), and yes unfortunately it’s a split ranch… which I’m slowly getting used to. When buying this house I swore to myself to take it slow in terms of decorating and to get a chance to feel out the place. Of course that didn’t happen as I work from home and the first things that HAD to go was the yellow walls in my office. Some may say the color I chose was no better, but a caribe blue soothes me any day over canary yellow. ANYWAY, long winded blog post short, all the walls were painted within 2 weeks of moving in (What? I’m a sucker for a fresh coat). We’ve done a lot of other improvements to the place since the painting, but truly nothing really gets more bang for the buck than a nice coat of perfectly planned out paint. Which brings me to the fence…

We moved in November, so this is really the first month we’ve had a chance to do anything outside to the place. I knew I wanted to pressure wash the house and fence the moment we got the keys. Unfortunately it is not recommended to spray high pressured freezing cold water in the dead of winter, so I had to wait FOUR months to play with our Christmas gift! And truth be told, I wasn’t sure a washing of any form would fix the age and dirt of the side fences that we had:

fence before pressure wash and stain

To my sheer AMAZEMENT, it was like instant success:

fence during pressure washing

By the time it was done and dry it looked like a brand new fence! So after some inspiration from friends in North Carolina who stained their fence Cedar and it looked GORGEOUS, we ran out to the Depot and picked up some mahogany stain (we thought darker may cover the imperfections a little more). It was a one coat stain and it didn’t lie, but it took 2 $44 cans to finish the front and back of these sections.

All in all, for around $100 and 2 weekends, I think this is a project for the books. Just like paint, the bang for your buck is astonishing. One last before & after comparison:

fence before pressure wash and stain


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Remembering Renovations

I’m currently in the process of my third renovation and it has brought up fond memories of some of my past reno experience. The first reno was really my parent’s, but I lived through the hell of peeling improperly applied wallpaper, concrete dust and no kitchen for months, so I consider it as almost my own – even though I didn’t plan or pay

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for anything. The second reno was definitely one of the largest projects I’ve ever taken on. It was a total gut of a 1921 Colonial foursquare and it was the popper of many of my ‘firsts’ cherries, more about those later…Which brings me to this current renovation, which is basically a total gut and rebuild of the lower half in our new 1980’s raised ranch (for the record, if you would have claimed I would be a proud owner of a split level ranch even 8 months ago, I would have laughed ferociously in your face).

I’ve learned quite a few things along the renovation path, which I’d like to start sharing over the next few posts, but all this construction reminded me that I never posted any photos of that huge undertaking from my Clermont house. So, only 5 years and a short sale overdue, but here was the beast of a project I took on when I was 22. (Please note I have a billion before and during reno, but surprisingly cannot locate all of the afters, so I’ve had to resort to realtor photos from when we had tenants occupying, so there’s a lot of their crap lying around)

This is how we first found this lovely beauty, in need of the most indescribable scrub down. I’m not sure how people occupied it in the condition it was in, especially with 2 children. As you can see in the after, pretty much full inside and outside rehab. We took down the screen porch, and found out it wasn’t even built to code, so had to rebuild the whole darned thing. New roof, paint, pavers, carpentry and landscaping was done in front and back.

Front of the house before we bought it and finally a year later

We had to redo all the back windows because the previous frame was rotted out (the fun of finding out things after walls are taken down). We also added a back patio with double out swing French doors and larger stairs. Really opened up the outdoor living area.

It turned out when we cleared away the lower tree branches, there was a view of lake Minneola:

And now to the inside. The following series of pictures will show you just how NASTY the conditions were inside the house. In fact, in the below shot, you will see the difference in carpet color on where the couch was versus actual walking area. Just imagine dog and cat piss, candy, dirt, and other fluids all over the place and add a touch of every allergen in the world. This was also lining the air ducts which were soon replaced:

The “Original Heart Pine Floors” underneath weren’t in much better shape. In fact, when someone advertises hardwoods under carpet, rest assured 8/10 times there is something wrong with the floor…

There were also quite a few electrical issues we encountered. I’m surprised their house didn’t burst into flames after all of these years. What you see below is the laundry room setup. Yes that’s right, let’s wrap a non grounded (and old) electrial plug around the water supply. They also were draining the sudsy water onto the sidewalk. Where was Holmes Inspection when I needed him?

Can you see anything wrong with this?

It became apparent a few months into the project that this may have been the house from hell…


So here was the upstairs bedroom we called the blue room. Can you guess why? Turns out under all that blue was lovely 70’s football themed wallpaper. We should be so lucky.

The blue room had a twin, we called it the pink room.

The Master was in dire need of attention, here is the bedroom and back porch view before and after


My dad and I belt and hand sanded all of the floors, and I poly-ed them all… I appreciate anyone that does that for a living.

I couldn’t find an empty after shot, so this is almost finished back porch, just missing trim, and electrical fixtures:


Upstairs bathroom was so large, when we bought it, they had an exercise bike in it. The floor was actually 2 layers of linoleum on top of a thick layer of plywood, it took weeks for me to get it removed as in the kitchen and baths, they nailed the plywood almost every 4 inches. The chair rail around wasn’t even beadboard, but actually inch thick tongue and groove siding. The best part was opening the moulding to find a hot orange and pink bathtub! It’s hard to tell, but the inside was actually a robin’s egg blue accented by those lovely rust stains… again, not sure how these people lived like this (or are my cleanliness standards too high?)



Check out the awesome moldy wallpaper I found underneath


And finally the downstairs photos (again for some reason I cannot find the after shots so I have to default to the real estate listing photos – no way would I ever have this much crap in one room, but hopefully you can still see how lovely the place is)


The downstairs bathroom was a hot mess, they designed it all wrong. The tub literally did not fit in the space so they created a knee wall for it. It clearly needed a gut and replumb. (after photos were hard to take because the space was so small, but you get the gist)

Saving the best for last, here was the kitchen circa 1970, and after. I should note that the floors were so filthy you could skate on them. During reno, and before after comparison:



Well folks, that’s about all for now, stay tuned for next week’s episode of This Old House!


I’m Alive! Maybe… we’ll see…

I think, maybe, I’ve decided I want to start writing, ehhmm, blogging again…  It’s been so long and I have so much to say, but what about I’m still trying to figure out. I think I may just post as I see fit and not plan for now. That’s right folks, I’m posting without plans. Keep an eye out, I’m sure it will be slightly entertaining or maybe even insightful. If not, at least it will be a bunch of words, you have my promise ;)



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Minnewaska State Park

Hubs and I have always been fans of Mohonk Mountain House, and decided to head off one Saturday to hike out on the trails out there. This weekend we found out they actually charge you to hike trails on their property (I guess before no one cared to stop us and ask us to pay?!) They wanted $25 PER PERSON! Just to walk around for 2 hours. Yea right, we quickly pulled a U-ee and high tailed it outta there, but had to figure out what we were going to do for a few hours in New Paltz with no plans.

I got on my iphone and within seconds I found out there is a State Park with awesome views and hikes and only cost $8 per carload. We were in, if only we could find it. 20 miles later of driving around the mountain we happened upon the entrance , parked and partook in the loveliness that was Minnewaska state park for the day. So Alabanians, this place is only an hour and half south and totally worth the drive. I also recommend the Gilded Otter for beers afterwards ;)


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I’m Sorry

I know and I’m sorry. I miss you guys too…

Be back soon!

I promise ;)




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Nude Nite Orlando

WARNING: Not Safe for Work – Do not Scroll down if you don’t want to see Naked/Nude People!

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend Nude Nite Orlando this year due to the fact that I no longer live in Orlando, but I can always reminisce about last year’s event. Whether it was the artwork, live performances, or just diversity of mediums, I have to say it was sincerely impressive. I went from a photography exhibit, to an artist sculpting a live model in chocolate, to a burlesque show- I mean, where can you go to find that all in one place?

Well, since I am not able to attend this year, I’ve decided to post some photos I took at the event last year….and who knows, maybe we can get a Nude Nite up in Albany one of these days?

This first photo may seem familiar, since I posted her on my 365 project. She’s still one of my favorites:

The flyers were my second favorite after the burlesque dancers. They were memorizing:

The talent and variety of exhibits was amazing, some of my favorite pieces were:

"Erotic Asphyxiation Series" on aluminum by Dixie Lee

"Swinger" in bronze steel and wood by Chris Ricardo

Attendees enjoying the exhibits

The live art exhibits were interesting:

Full back henna

Even the audience put on a show:

My favorite acts of the night were the burlesque shows. These were not only super sexy and provocative, but were oh so clever and funny as well. I really need to find a good burlesque show to go to someday soon!

Brazalian martial arts ended my evening, definitely some amazing performances!

I hope everyone enjoyed Nude Nite 2011 as much as I did last year. Here’s to being able to attend in the future!

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Well, I’ve obviously found my new obsession of having a real winter. I know what you’re thinking… It’s snow isn’t it? No, no,  I mean the snow is cute. It certainly is beautiful when it’s falling, and I love how it sparkles in the sun. It’s also awesome to throw my cat into it on the porch, run away and close the door (what? oh come on you know I would never do such a thing)

But seriously folks, I’m OBSESSED with ice. Acually, icicles to be precise. I mean how cool are these cold clear daggers of death?! I’ve managed to annoy hubs everywhere we go by pointing out every house, building and sign that has them hanging. I’m particularly fond of the icicle twinkle lights with icicles hanging off of them. So you must know how EXCITED I was to play with this monster:

Christa Approved!

Thinking of all the dangerous things I can do with this sucker!

My Dexter pose (the "perfect" weapon)

My artistic interpretation

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Fun with Animated GIFs

Just a little fun with some of the pictures I took on New Years Eve:

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Blue Throw Pillows