The New Smartfood – My New Addiction

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OMG! I stumbled on this stuff at the store this morning and I’ve about eaten the whole box.

In fact my only problem with it is it’s way overpriced for what you get 5 little 1 oz packages. But holy crap is it good.

I was intrigued by how they were getting away with using the name Smartfood because to me that name meant the white cheddar stuff but I looked it up and evidently Frito-Lay owned that name so they’ve repackaged the brand I guess.

If you’re willing to pay the price – The new stuff is Yummy!

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Best Photoshop Action Ever!!

Are you one of those people that is always hiding behind the camera so you don’t have to be in front of it? ME TOO!!!!

All that might be about to change though! I recently found THE BEST PHOTOSHOP ACTION EVER!! I had the these picture from Halloween and they looked yuck. I had on a ton of makeup because well it was Halloween and it was dark and well how the heck cares..as you can see after a few cocktails flash pictures of me just came out a weird combination of splotchy and shiny. Note to self, there is such a thing as too much glitter makeup on Halloween. See. That’s me on the left. Yuck. 

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Normally a shot like this would just go in the delete pile but I really liked this picture and wanted it to look as cute as we really did. So I started Googling how to try and airbrush the picture myself. What I stumbled across was this: Mama’s Powder. (Please note I am not being paid one red cent to say this, in fact I paid her.) It looked pretty cool so I forked out $25 to save myself the headache of trying to learn how to do it myself. And viola!!

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Granted that was my first try at it but it’s pretty awesome. Easy to use. Simple to learn. Way Cool. And and easy to undo if you overdo it. Which trust me you will because it’s so much fun!

So yeah! Now I’m more likely to keep pictures of myself and just fix them. Now if only Mama had a butt reducer then I’d be set!!!

With Any Luck I’ll Get Accused of Copying Dooce And My Stats Will Go Up.

So there seems to be a lot of DRAMA floating around these days about who’s blog is copying whose. I think I read everyone who is supposed to lifting from everyone and it amuses me that I never realized I was consuming all these blogs twice. Why the hate people? Really, things don’t usually get this snarky until AFTER Blogher. Looks like this year folks are trying to get a jump on things.

So after I read all silliness I cruised over the Dooce and saw something I didn’t expect. A contest – OMG now Dooce is copying Pioneer Woman! <You all get that that’s a joke right?> She’s giving away some Wiis and showing pictures from her Wii Fit party.

Then I realized that I’ve been meaning to write a post about how much we love our Wii Fit. And how much fun we’ve had it with it. But our Wii Fit parties look a bit different than super cool Utah parties.

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They involve a lot of short people. And umm evidently Mommy drinks a little wine.

Seriously though we love our Wii. And this comes from someone who well, hates video games. But after all the raves I decided to give this one a try and it’s been great. It’s even gotten my 70 year-old mother up off the couch and moving around which is something to say. She’s addicted to bowling.

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I stood in line and got a Fit board the day they went on sale because I knew they would be impossible to find afterwards. We brought it home and have been addicted to the darn thing since then. I started out with a Wii Fit age of something like 43 (I’m 41) and now I’m down to 35. And you know what I’m feeling it.

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I’m not going to claim that it’s the same thing as going to the gym and doing some well rounded workout but let me tell you after playing the games for 30 minutes you feel it. Don’t believe me, try keeping 5 hula hoops in the air for 3 minutes   – 400 spins both ways baby!!

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Even our just turned three year old gets into it. Her favorite is the run because it doesn’t require her to run on the board. She can just carry the controller and that little stinker is fast!

So here is what I’m saying – If you don’t have one of these things, get your butt over to Dooce and leave a comment so you have a chance of winning one. If that fails then download the Sunday flyers early, find out who’s going to have them on Sunday and get in line the first chance you get. It if worth every penny. It has amused every person who has played it from 2 year olds to 73 year olds.

This coming from a Mom who would rather do this with her family than anything else.

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Ahh crap, Dooce posted pictures of the beach last week didn’t she?

Perfect Camera for Summer

Last year I bought a new “purse” camera to bring along with me on a daily basis because bringing the big Nikon DSLR just doesn’t make sense all the time. I bought a Casio Exilim EX-Z77 and ended up being pretty disappointed. I never loved it but I chalked that up to being spoiled by my D50. As time went by I noticed the pictures were getting less and less sharp until finally this spring it got to where I might has well have been using a disposal camera from the drug store.

I plan on calling Casio and seeing if they will do something to make it right since I’ve had it less than a year but frankly I’m not holding out a lot of hope and have decided to move on.

Last year at Disney we noticed a lady in the pool with a waterproof digital camera and the idea has been sticking with me since then. We are in and out of pools and beaches and all kinds of wet situations so I thought it might be worth looking into.  After doing a little research we decided to go for the Olympus Stylus 790SW 7.1MP Waterproof Digital Camera and boy is this baby sweet!

It’s waterproof, shockproof, freeze proof, dust proof, sand proof, worry proof. After reading the reviews on Amazon I was excited about the idea that not only did I not have to worry about the kids dropping it if they tried to use it.

After giving it a test run today I’m pretty excited about it. We took all kinds of fun pictures while in the pool. And I have to say that it’s incredibly fun to be able to have the camera in the pool with you and not sweat getting splashed.

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And maybe the best part is the ability to take underwater video. How fun is that!! Check this out:

 

Look for more water shots as the summer goes on.

Why You Don’t Need Photoshop

Don’t get me wrong I love Photoshop. I’ve used it for years both at work and at home. I love it. But it’s complicated and it’s expensive and let’s face.. not that easy to learn unless you’re willing to sit down and spend a lot of time with it. As the guy who does the You Suck At Photoshop videos likes to say “You’re only using about $70.00 worth of Photoshop” if you’re the average Joe.

I also have Photoshop Elements which is the scaled down, less expensive version. And I like it too. I especially love the drag and drop photo tagging feature. And it’s ability to organize your tags into groups is awesome. That right there was worth the price of admission for me. But I still used Photoshop proper for editing my actual photos because I felt like Elements was a little limiting when I had the full deal at my disposal.

Then I discovered Microsoft’s Live Photo Gallery and I’ve found myself converted. First off the best part was that it’s FREE. Free. No Money. Nada. Zero.

At first I just looked at it as a possible alternative to Elements for organizing and tagging. In that arena it stood up okay, not great but okay. You drag and drop but in the opposite direction (photo to tag rather than tag to photo) so that was just something that took a little getting used to. A big drawback was that you can’t organize the tags and I use ALOT of tags. Again something I had to get used to.

But it did do something things better like navigation and the fact that it writes the tags to the file automatically where as you have to remember to do that as an extra step in Elements. In the end I found myself using it more and more rather than opening Elements. But I was still cleaning up my photos in Photoshop.

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Then one day I just needed to correct a quick red-eye issue in a photo that I wanted to quickly email and I had Photo Gallery already open. I thought to myself.. “I bet there is a quick red-eye tool here somewhere let me look”.. and for the first time I clicked on the “Fix” button.

A handy little menu opened up on the right and I’ve been giggling every since. See I’m a mom, and I have a fancy Nikon D50 with lots of fancy options that I never use because well I’m a mom. And my kids don’t stand still long enough for me to tinker with exposure and shutter speed and what not. If I did that I’d miss the shot. I leave it on Automatic and hope for the best. I depend on Photoshop or something like it to correct lighting, exposure, red eye and a whole host of other sins in post production.

So I’m pretty good at Photoshop, I’ve taken classes and I have lots of fancy Actions that help me along the way. But what I found in Photo Gallery has kept me from having to even open Photoshop unless I’m just in the mood to play around.

Check this out. It has Exposure and Histogram adjustments controlled by little sliders right there on the screens so you can adjust the Brightness, Contrast, Shadows, and Highlights with just the click and wiggle of the mouse. So Before SOOC:

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After: All I had to do was move the sliders on the Histogram (minus the 6 or 7 clicks this would have taken in Photoshop and viola – way better shot of the butterflies in the cage. AND.. this is HUGE to me .. you can set it to so that once you’re done playing it will automatically saves your changes when you click over to the next picture. Gone of the dozen freaking steps/clicks it takes Photoshop to save the changes you’ve made. WHOOT!!

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Let’s try it again of a different photo
Before SOOC – dark and yucky right..

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Blam – without extraneous menu selections .. ON ONE SCREEN I’ve just adjusted the histogram and also opened the detail option and increased the sharpness with a little slider as well.

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There is also a color correction tool, a cropping tool, and a red eye tool all right there in one place. Easy to use and requires very little experience to master. And remember it’s free. And I love the fact that you can move from picture to picture with just a click of the arrows at the bottom.

Can I erase the bruises on her arm? No. If I wanted to do that I’d need to go over to Photoshop but you know what. Those bruises are part of her charm, Pudd is always banged up from play, and I do stuff like that about 2% of the time. (Generally it’s a snot issue with the 2 year old)

So I’ve now found my routine is to dump my card into the computer into the appropriate folder (I organize by year and month) and then do a quick run through with Live Photo Gallery of each photo tagging and making orientation, exposure and other adjustments quickly on the fly. I can do 50 pictures in just a few minutes versus the hour or more it would have taken with Photoshop. Let’s face as Mom’s we just don’t have that kind of time.

Do I still open some up on Photoshop and do fun things… absolutely. But that just it, it’s now for fun. I don’t “need” it for average everyday edit and correction. And that makes it all the more fun to play with when I have time to sit down and use it to it’s fullest.

So yes for Snot Removal you need Photoshop but for average everyday pump up the volume make my pictures look better editing…. Live Photo Gallery rocks.

Renaming Fight the Frump Friday

To Fight The Frizz Friday

I know I know … our friend Bossy would suggest that you must embrace your inner curl but as far as I can tell, she does NOT live in the South and us Southern gals have to stick together.

We are in that time of year when the humidity is at 100% more than it’s not and it’s time to deal with some serious frizz. Yes, curls are beautiful and but let’s face it they are nearly impossible to maintain if your going to actually leave the house this time of year. So unless we want to look like Swamp Girl we must either live 24/7 in pony tail (Frump) or we must invest in a killer flatiron. Now now, Fussy said no crimpers. She did not mention a thing about flat irons.

My personal flat iron of choice is the Chi. It is the Cadillac na the Rolls Royce of flat irons and frankly the only one that I’ve found that will give me a sleek polished look lickedy-split. There are certainly less expensive models out there and if you don’t have really thick hair there is every chance they will work for you. But if you are like me, and you have thick –  past –  wavy – and – on – to  – curly  – hair: Invest.

It was hard for me to swallow the cost at first but then I did the salon math:

10 times a year I might treat myself to a blowout at the Salon. (Big Parties, Special Events, Power Meetings etc)

A blowout that in any salon is going to cost at least $35 with tip and that’s if you come in with a wet head.

10 x $35 = $350 a year de-frizzing the mane – which is 3 times more than the flat iron cost me. So it’s actually saving me money – and I get to look nice day in and day out. 

Let’s face it there are lots of places we can scrimp for the family budget ladies but our hair should not be one of them.

Go Buy It Now: The Keurig Coffee Maker

I’m the gadget freak around here so when the Dr. came home and was all a flutter about some fancy coffee make they had just gotten at work I took notice. When he said “Go Get Me One Now Woman!!!” I grabbed my keys and headed out the door. I could care less because I don’t drink coffee but he so rarely likes toys that I got all excited for him.

Today, today I am excited for ME! I love this damn thing. Here’s the deal. I drink tea. He drinks coffee. This machine doesn’t know the difference and is always ready to please either one of us on a moments notice with no waste.

It makes one cup at a time of whatever little filtered disk you put in. Tea one minute, Coffee the next. Have I mentioned that I love it. At night I sneak in and kiss it and cuddle with it.

It keeps a cups worth of water hot at all times so all you when the spirit moves you is throw in your flavor of choice, hit a button and in about 30 seconds you’ve got a hot cuppa whatever.  You can get 100s of flavors of tea or coffee or whatever in the pre-done little thingies or you order a metal empty one and put your own favorite brew in.

It’s the perfect machine for the family who can’t agree on blends or beverages or whatever. It will love all of you and you will love it!!

I got mine at Target for $99.00, Amazon seems to have basically the same price.

It’s that time of year again…

Ariel and Friends Beach TowelDisney is having their annual beach towel sale this week 2/$20.

These are hands down the highest quality beach towels around. I’ve been buying 2 or 3 each year since Puddin’ was about two years old and not one has ever worn out. I basically now have a closet full of them but we use them like crazy all summer long in and out of the pool almost every day.

In and out of the pool every day and none of them are worn out. Seriously. They are more than worth the money.

Awesome Purchase!

So I was reading some great blog a few months ago (I so wish I could remember where – If it was you email me) and this mom was giving advice about getting the most out of your digital SLR.

She said an external flash absolutely necessary for good indoor shots. Because bouncing the light off the ceiling made for so much better light. Hmm I thought.

Then out of the blue – an unexpected amazon gift certificate arrived.  Hmm I thought.

And you know what…

She was absolutely freaking right!

This little darling cam yesterday and I took it to the crawfish boil last night and it was fantastic!!

I love it!

No more harsh in your face flash!!

 

 

 

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Feeling Frumpy with this Flu

FightfrumpbuttonThursday night at gymnastics I felt like a total frump. Like most of the kids of working moms we’re in a 6:00 session. Just enough time to get off work, drive like mad, grab a kid, throw a banana at them, drive like mad again and shove them onto the floor.

But there is a group of total Gap moms who’s kids are in the 5:00 intermediate (1.5 hour) class that overlaps our time and man do they make me and the other 6:00 moms look like hell. They are all perfectly quaffed in the cutest little outfits and shiny lip-gloss. And Thursday it just got to me. Oh that I had the time to put in the amount of gym time it takes to have that kind of body at their age. And enough remaining grey matter to remember that it has been 6 hours since I last put on lipstick. But after a 10 hour day at the office, I’m just not that mentally there. Sigh.

So I thought I would look to FuzzyPants for some help getting out of this rut. So here is my contribution to Fight the Frump. My favorite capris (’cause let’s face it jeans are rarely the order of the day in Florida)

So here they are Lee Flap Pocket Capri. Available at JC Penny and Kohls around here. This picture makes look tight and skinny but they aren’t. They have a “Front Panel Technology” have a very slimming effect and they are a nice stretchy denim – something I need for my mondo hips. I like the detailing at the bottom. It helps dress them up a bit. And the best part is they are less than $30.00. The biggest challenge I have is finding them in my size because everyone LOVES LOVES these and they get snapped up fast.