Saturday, March 30, 2013

{Photography} Dreaming of a New Lens

I have learned so much about photography in the past year and a half. I still have a long way to go, but just learning how to use the manual settings on my camera was a huge step in the right direction.

I have four lenses right now, each with a different purpose. The one I use most for interior shots is a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens. If you have trouble getting a wide enough shot of a room, it's an inexpensive wide-angle lens that can do the trick. The kit lens I've had since my non-digital Canon Rebel days is the Canon EF 35-80mm f/4-5.6 III Lens. Many of you with SLRs or DSLRs probably have this same kit lens. It's not bad for general purpose stuff.

For distance shots I use the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens. It's decent for portraits too. I'm sure you've heard of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens. Many people love it for portraits and food photography, and the price is very reasonable. It lets a lot of light in, which is helpful indoors. Because it's a fixed lens, you have to move yourself or your tripod, rather than zooming in and out, to fill the frame appropriately. I do have trouble focusing sometimes, so I'm still trying to get the most out of this lens.

I do have one more piece of glass in my arsenal. It screws on like a filter, but it's called the Canon 250D 52MM Close Up Lens.You could spend much more to get an actual macro lens, but it serves the purpose for most of us photography enthusiasts.

All of my current gear is considered entry-level. It has served me well, but since I've upped my skills, it's high time to start upping my equipment too. The equipment I'm dreaming of right now is said to be a great walk-around lens, meaning it's great for many purposes. It's the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens.
Isn't she a beauty? I would love to upgrade both my camera body and my lenses, but if you can only afford to do one, new glass is the way to go. Lenses make the biggest impact on image quality.

Have I told you yet that we're headed to Europe this summer? We've been planning the trip for months and finally booked our tickets a couple nights ago. Yippee! The majority of our time will be spent in Germany, with a day trip into Austria and a few days in Prague.

As you can imagine, I will be taking oodles of photos, so I'm eager to upgrade my gear before then. I've already got a new camera bag (can you guess which one?), with plenty of room for growth.

Do any of you have the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens? If so, do you love it as much as I think I will?


Disclosure: Affiliate links included in this post, but my opinions are all genuinely my own.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Poll: Blog name change?

I need your help! For some time, I've been considering changing the name of my blog. Although some people find the name "I'm Busy Procrastinating" to be clever, I don't know if it's right for me long-term.

I've been brainstorming names for months but most of the ideas I've come up with are already taken. One was scooped up by one of those sites that hoard URLs, and I'm certainly not willing to pay the fee they want to purchase the name from them.

During my brainstorming, one of the names I came up with is The Analytical Decorator. If you haven't figured it out already, I'm a very analytical person. Before I do anything, I complete lots of research, whether it's prior to making many purchases, or prior to starting a project. I rarely just jump right in!

Here's a potential new header:

Whether you're a new or long-time reader, I would appreciate it so much if you weighed in on the potential name change. See ... I can't even change my own blog name without lots of research and consideration!

Please take a moment to make your choice via the poll below.

Which name do you like best for my blog?

Thank you so much for your feedback! The poll closes at 11:59pm on Sunday, April 7. Comments below are welcome as well, if you have more to say about it!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Congrats to Bend on their collaboration with West Elm

Back in October I shared my obsession with the Bend brand. Quirky and colorful is just my thing.

I was checking out West Elm's newest products today and spied a new dining table and chairs designed by Bend, exclusively for West Elm.

The Bend Dining Chair is sold individually or in sets of two. You can also purchase the Bend Dining Table with a set of two chairs. They come in white or yellow, and are powder-coated, so they can be used outside. But they would be fun inside as well! I imagine if the products sell well, more colors might be added down the road.

Speaking of more colors, West Elm's adorable Bubble Ceramic Side Table now comes in Indigo Glaze and Emerald Crackle in addition to the standard white. If I had $129 burning a hole in my pocket I might buy one in all three colors. Almost every home can find a spot for a cute little garden seat/side table!

West Elm, if you are reading this, I would be happy to test one out for you.  :)


Thursday, March 21, 2013

I love the game, and now I have a Tetris scarf

Who can resist the colored blocks of various shapes falling at rapidly increasing speeds? Not me. I was a Tetris-playing fool back in the day.


I'm not a big fan of playing it on my touch-screen phone now, so I have to live out my Tetris fantasies via my clothes now. Enter Target's new Mossimo Tetris Print Scarf.

At only $14.99, with free shipping and 5% off with my Target Red Card, I couldn't pass it up. Mine finally arrived the mail today and I'm stoked. Since I've been threatened not to bring too many clothes on our Europe trip this summer, I figure as lightweight and colorful as it is, it will help jazz up my wardrobe, even if I wear the same shirt several different days. How very European of me.

Target seriously has tons of cute scarves online and in stores this spring. I couldn't find this one at my local store so I purchased it online, but I wanted to buy up half of what they had in the store.

If you see me wearing this one in 93 degree weather, it's not because I have a hickey I'm trying to cover up. It's because I'm being fashionable. (I have a dear cousin/friend who was caught wearing a not-super-thin scarf when we dined on a restaurant patio a couple years ago when it was blazing hot outside. Like sweat-dripping-down-our-backs-even-as-we-drank-cold-beverages hot. And we all wondered how in the world she could have something tied up tight around her neck. Yep, totally covering a hickey.)

Are you a Tetris fan? Have you ever used an article of clothing to cover up something that you didn't want the world to see? Do you know anyone who has had a hickey in her 30s? Spill it.


P.S. No affiliate links or sponsorship here. Just loving this product and wanted to share!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crushing on Bamileke stools & tables

They've been around for a few years but I'm just getting on the Bamileke stool bandwagon. Originating in Cameroon and carved from a single tree trunk, they were traditionally used by the king. The criss-cross design is inspired by the earth spider, which is said to play a crucial role in solving problems in the Bamileke culture.

I considered purchasing West Elm's well-priced coffee table version when I decided I needed more texture and rustic-ness in my living room, but I'm not a big fan of the feet at the bottom. There are lots of Bamileke stools sold online, both authentic and reproductions, in small and large sizes. Usually they come in natural stain, black or white, but they're fun in colors too. I've noticed them used in both indoor and outdoor locations, and in both casual and high-end rooms.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

Right now I'm totally crushing on the last one above for my living room -- a coffee table version painted in white. Originally I wanted the natural wood, because every room needs several touches of real wood, but now I'm thinking that the white would help balance my new black and white color scheme, coordinating with the adjoining kitchen.

I wish they weren't so pricey, since a new coffee table is not on The Mr.'s high priority list! I'll thank him when it's time to retire.

Have you noticed these stools/tables in home design? What's your take?


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Follow I'm Busy Procrastinating on Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I just found out this week that Google Reader is going away. What the what? I've been encouraged to start using Bloglovin, so I've just started getting things all set up and importing the blogs I follow over there.

For those of you who have already switched over, what do you like about it?


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

{Analyze This} Living Room

When you see a striking image, do you pause and analyze what it is you like, or do you just smile and admire its beauty? In the fast-paced world we live in, I think too often we don't stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

To remedy that, I have decided to start a new blog series called "Analyze This." I'll dig out an image that makes me drool, and I'll analyze what it is about that space that makes it special.


This Manhattan living room of designer Laura Day was featured in Lonny Magazine's April/May 2010 issue. Some of you may remember Laura from the old TLC show Trading Spaces, back before there were TV networks focused exclusively on decor and DIY.

Let's analyze this room. What do you notice first?

For me, it's the mirrored credenza with the chevron pattern. It draws me in all the way from far end of the space. Next I notice the large, splashy art on the wall, which is the only real color in the room (other than the red/pink image on the TV). The glass chandelier brings my eye up to the ceiling, where I notice a coffered effect that works around some of the bump-outs in the room.

The lighting is nicely balanced around the room. Each of the three pieces I see are tied in with the color gold, but one is hanging from the ceiling, one is a sconce on the wall, and one is a floor lamp. The pair of coffee tables are tied into the lighting by color.

Neutrals abound in this room, but the various textures keep things interesting. The fluffy sheepskin poufs offer lots of texture, but they also bring in some whimsy, compared to the tailored matching linen sofas.

The wooden side table with three legs plays a couple different parts in the design, other than a table surface. It adds not only a natural wood element, but specifically a rustic element, which helps the room ward off a stuffy feeling. Plus it's just a little silly, and I like that.

I can't neglect to mention the varying sheens in the room. You have the shiny surfaces of the lighting, coffee tables, and credenza. Then you have the matte surfaces of the sofas and rug.

I'm guessing that most of the pieces in the room are new, but I can't say for sure. The black Bergere chair, which ties in to the black chevron pattern on the credenza, is likely vintage or antique.

I can't pin this room down as far as a certain style or era, which is intriguing. It's a little glam, a little rustic, a little mod, and a little tailored. Just the way I like it!

What elements stand out to you?


Thursday, March 7, 2013

IKEA's Stockholm Rand Rug obsoleted???

Okay, I'm freaking out. I went to IKEA's website today and do you know what is gone?

Um, yeah. Their ubiquitous Stockholm Rand Rug. Classic color combo, chic design, affordable price.

I checked again. Gone from US, UK, Sweden, Germany. I assume the rest of the countries are the same, although I didn't bother to check every single one.

It had just finally come back in stock a couple months ago after being unavailable for what seemed like forever. Now it's apparently been obsoleted.

Please don your black clothes. It's time for mourning.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Not all who wander are lost" DIY painting

Have you heard the quote "Not all those who wander are lost"? It's from a poem written by J. R. R. Tolkien for his novel Lord of the Rings.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Tolkien's quote is often shortened to "Not all who wander are lost," and has been used recently in inspirational or decorative artwork.

My brother and his wife are decorating their first house, and have expressed a desire for more artwork I thought the "Not all who wander ..." quote was quite appropriate for them for many reasons, including the fact that they love to travel. The image I wanted to pair with the words is a hot air balloon. Not only does it represent adventure, but it also represents their marriage, since he proposed to her on a hot air balloon. I found lots of great "Not all who wander" artwork on Esty, but none quite matched with what I was looking for, so I decided to create my own.

I started with a blank canvas from a craft store. I liked the idea of reversing out the words, rather than painting the words on top. I thought it would be more interesting to mix up the letter styles a bit, so I  purchased both some ArtSkills Vinyl Letters and ArtSkills Jumbo Alpha Stickers. I used a ruler to space out my letters and keep my lines straight, then placed my letters on the canvas, leaving room for the hot air balloon in the upper-right corner.

I was about to coat the whole canvas with my background color, but then I decided it would also be more interesting to have the word "wander" not only in a different font and size, but in a different color. So I lifted those letters back up and painted a stripe of black. I also wanted to do a test run of my hot air balloon design, so I drew it in pencil first, then went over it with a Sharpie.

After the black paint dried, I laid down my "wander" stickers again. Then I gave the whole thing a coat of sky blue paint. Because the canvas is so textured, it's really hard to get the stickers to stay down. I had to hold them down sometimes, and even then one time a letter moved and I got paint in the wrong place, which I had to touch up.

Here's an up close of what the smaller stickers looked like under the blue paint. (I had already peeled them off the word "wander." You can see some areas I had to touch up later, where the sticker was not sealed to the canvas enough and paint seeped under.)

After the paint dried, I took off all the stickers. As you can see, the hot air balloon outline was visible through the blue paint.

The next step was to paint in the hot air balloon.

I then outlined the balloon with black paint. From a distance, the purple looked too close to black, so I lightened it and then re-outlined.

Here's the final product, before it got gift-wrapped.

It's not a masterpiece, but hopefully the sentiment came through. :)


Linking up to:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Even Martha is a fan of the Lyon Industrial Stool

You know that feeling when you make a design choice but you're not sure whether it will be a win or a fail? It's exhilarating yet exhausting at the same time.

I was a bit unsure when I bought my Lyon industrial stools for my kitchen island (24" in Wedgewood Blue with rubber feet). Here they are in situ (although I need to update my photo because I have added some additional splashes of blue in the kitchen).

Maybe my uneasiness was due to a couple previous internet furniture purchases (including a set of stools) that didn't work out so well. Or maybe it's because I was looking for the reassurance of seeing them used in other kitchens. While I think we all like to be original, we also find comfort in knowing that someone else likes something we like.

Today I feel validated, because I'm so Martha. Yep, look who used the Lyon industrial stools in her own kitchen?

Granted this was the September 2006 cover of Martha Stewart Living, so maybe I'm so 2006 Martha. But any Martha good. I mean ... have you seen her retro modeling photos? Va-va-va-voom!

Back to the Lyon stools, here they are in three other kitchens.

The juxtaposition of the simple industrial-style stool in gray against the more glamorous and gilded kitchen is interesting. This Los Angeles kitchen was designed y William Hefner Architects, and spied on COCOCOZY.

The stools above are in the kitchen of Apartment Therapy contributor Regina Yunghans. A friend of hers scavenged them from an architecture school that was under renovation. Regina had them professionally powder coated in bright yellow. I've always wished mine were a bit more vibrant blue, so maybe I'll look into powder coating them at some point.

The next two photos are of the same kitchen, but you'll notice a big difference (and it's not the stools).

The first photo was featured on Remodelista in February 2009. The second was published in Midwest Living in September/October 2011. Homeowner Lisa Balke is an antiques dealer, whis is likely how she came across a salvaged church altar which she and her husband converted into their kitchen island. It definitely brings a warmer feel to the space than the stainless steel island did. I assume that was just a stand-in while they searched for something special.

I assume the white stools were powder coated as well, because they aren't manufactured in white. Actually, if Lyon realized how much of a demand there is for bright metal stools, they might re-think their drab colors. Maybe I should give them a bit of a nudge!

Have you ever had an "I'm so Martha" moment, where you felt validated about a choice you hadn't been so sure of?


Friday, March 1, 2013

My very own buffalo print

Friends, meet Buffy.

Bam! Isn't she a cutie?

Yes, her name is Buffy. Don't judge. I'm just making the assumption that it's a she, because I wouldn't want to get close enough to actually make the determination. But even if it's a he, that's okay because a guy that big (and with horns) can get away with a feminine name. Right? Right.

You may recall my fascination with Sharon Montrose's American Buffalo print, and the personal story why. As usual, The Mr. thought I was crazy for my love affair with Sharon's buffalo photo, and since I can't afford a giant version of him right now, I set the idea aside but still kept him in my heart.

I happen to be in the middle of a room makeover project right now, which I will share with you very soon, and the buffalo came back to mind. Sharon's print wouldn't work in the space because hers is horizontal and I need vertical, so I looked on Etsy for other buffalo photo options.

I came across this awesome buffalo photo by Ashley Jones-Wisner (aka ashley1126 on Etsy).

She took the photo at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in Kansas, and said [Buffy] was so close to her that she had to lean back to snap the picture! While I instantly connected with the photo, it didn't quite fit my needs. However, I had the genius idea to crop it vertically and change it to black and white.

I contacted Ashley and she was really excited and thankful that I helped her see the photo in a different way. She did a custom crop for me and is printing it out in a 20x24 size. She loves the idea so much that she's thinking of adding it to her Etsy shop as an additional permanent option. Fun!

I've decided on a super-thin black frame like this Framatic Fineline, 20" x 24" Aluminum Frame. Designer Emily Henderson tipped me off to them in her post about her favorite ready-made picture frames. My only quandary now is whether to use a mat or not.

If I use a mat, I'll need to have a custom frame built, because I can't find a ready-made size larger than 20x24 in the style I like. The good news is that I found a local framer whose prices are super-reasonable, although I might burn up a lot of gas driving to his remote location! Obviously the addition of a mat would make the overall piece larger on the wall. And large is always good. (That's what she said. Sorry, couldn't help it. I miss Steve Carrell on "The Office.")

If I don't use a mat, I can purchase the ready-made frame I linked to above. However, the overall piece will be smaller if I don't use a mat because the largest Ashley can have printed is 20x24.

I'm leaning toward matting it, even thought it will drive up the price a bit. My only worry is whether a mat will distract from the in-your-face effect I'm going for. If you have an opinion on the mat issue, please weigh in!

Either way, stay tuned for further Buffy developments, and details about the room she will be living in.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogging tips