Camera Bags

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Andy surprised with me a new camera last week as an early birthday gift just in time for my trip to Madrid next week!  I am on the hunt for a great but not outrageous camera bag that will be stylish enough to carry around without looking like a news reporter on top of being a tourist.  Just as with all their products, I love the Lo & Sons one but it’s not what I want to spend and am looking for similar options with a cheaper price tag.  What do you use?

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Spotlight On: Favorite Apps 2nd Edition


Even with thousands of apps out there, I only end up using a select few on a regular basis.  After sharing some of my favorites I wanted to add some others that have been topping the list lately.

Tripit: This app syncs with your email account to make travel much more seamless.  It logs all your reservations/flights/hotels and any other type of confirmation that comes into your inbox into an organized list and it will also automatically update any changes in your reservations.  With a busy year coming up with lots of events to keep track of, this app is a dutiful assistant.

justWink: I love snail mail and handwritten cards more than most but sometimes in a pinch you need to send a forgotten birthday message or last minute good luck wishes, this app has a selection of e-cards that can be texted or emailed on the go.  You can also upload your own photos before you send off that instant love note or congratulations!

Mint: this site and app has completely altered the way I look at spending since I signed up three months ago.  It links to all of your accounts (bank, credit cards, loans, 401k) and tracks them all.  You can set budgets for different categories and even create your own then it will alert you when you are approaching or over budget in individual categories.  The “ordering in”, “weekday breakfast” and “clothing” budgets were the ones that I hadn’t realized how much all the little things add up and it has really curbed my spending in those as well as other areas.

What are you some of your favorites?

Birthday Love

Year after year I struggle to come up with an idea for a gift to give a man that never wants anything, that says that if he did, he would get it for himself. He doesn’t want a party in his honor or even everyone getting together for a Happy Hour to toast his years on earth. Ugh… So this year I wanted to attempt to give him a feeling. Sounds weird, to want to give a feeling, I know. My husband is a hard worker and is always doing for others. I don’t think he often stops to realize the fabulous qualities that he possesses and the wonderful thoughts and memories that his friends and family have of him.

At the beginning of January, my sisters, our father and our husbands (Jason and Ryan) threw our mother a surprise 60th birthday party. It was a blast and we created a few special things that I know my mom will treasure forever.

Caitlin found this fabulous memory idea on Nothing But bonfires ( and ran with it. The result was lovely and my mother enjoyed reading all of the wonderful memories and thoughts her friends and family have of her.

I thought that this would be such a great way for me to give Ryan a fabulous present without having to ‘buy’ anything. I enlisted Ryan’s brother, Tyler, to help me out and I tweaked the original letter from and we sent the letter out through email to family and friends, past and present. I was anxious to see who would respond and to read all of the fabulous memories. It took some email reminders and a phone call or two, but we ended up receiving 54 memories, which was awesome! Some memories came through email and others were hand written and mailed to Tyler’s house, so Ryan wouldn’t find them. I received memories from a 5th grade girlfriend, an old neighbor, coworkers, out of town friends, family and so many more.

My original idea was to fill Ryan’s office with helium filled balloons and to tie a string to each balloon with a memory attached to the end of each string. I wasn’t thinking of the fact that helium and the freezing cold Rochester weather wouldn’t mix very well (balloons deflated a bit and got wrinkly when I did a test run). So for me to be able to accomplish the office balloon idea, I would have had to fill the helium balloons at his office and lets be honest, what mom of a busy 15th month old has time to do that? So the the plan changed and I decided to place each memory into a white envelope and to number the envelopes from 1-54.

On the morning of Ryan’s birthday while he was still asleep, I fanned out the envelopes onto the coffee table so that he would have a comfy place to sit, drink his coffee and read the notes that his family and friends sent. I was hoping that he would love it. I was hoping that he wouldn’t think that it was cheesy and be embarrassed by the fact that I contacted people for a memory that they had of him.

He thought that it was anything but cheesy and I think that he absolutely LOVED it…yay!!! Reagan had a blast helping her dada open his notes and she of course thought that the ones that included pictures of her were the best! The plan is to put all of the memories into an album so that he can cherish them forever!

Reagan’s Happy Birthday sign that she worked so hard on, hung in the family room for Ryan to enjoy while opening his memories.

I wrote little notes on large index cards and while he was still sleeping the morning of his birthday I placed them around the house in spots that he goes to in the morning. There was a note on the coffee maker, in his bathroom drawer, in his closet, on the mirrors, on the coffee creamer, on the window above the sink (from our dog, Colby), just to name a few. I thought that these could be little reminders of how Reagan and I feel about him.

To finish off our gifts to dada, I had a t-shirt made for Reagan with Ryan’s business logo on the front. My husband is an AMAZING realtor ( and has the most clever logo; a bobble head of himself holding a ReMax balloon..very eye catching since he’s so handsome! Reagan rocked the t-shirt and Ryan thought it was hilarious!

So it was a HAPPY birthday and I’m glad that my husband felt special on his day. We love him and wanted to show him how amazing he really is. I hope that I was actually as successful as I think that I was in my attempt to give my husband a feeling for his birthday…a feeling of being loved. By the look on his face, I think I nailed it!