Kaito from Vocaloid Cosplay Photoshoot

3 Dec

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On Sunday, my husband and I picked up our good friend Diego for a fun cosplay photoshoot on the beach in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

Diego is a cosplay buddy from California (in fact, the last time I saw this guy, he was cosplaying as Hugh Maes from Fullmetal Alchemist at Ani-Me Con in Fresno, California), but as luck would have it, he moved here to Pensacola, Florida to attend Pensacola’s Christian College around the same month we moved here!

I’ve been itching to do a cosplay shoot with Diego for ages now, and I never fathomed we would eventually get around to it… on the Gulf of Mexico. Haha! Life sure is a twisty, turny, never-know-whats-coming-next thrill ride, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, check out the shots we got of Diego’s Kaito cosplay from Vocaloid. He made it from scratch with his mum. Whatcha think? ^_^

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DIY Baby Pixie Hats from Old Sweaters

2 Dec

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It’s starting to get a bit nippy out here in the sunshine state, and baby Tessa is in need of hats, having outgrown her little infant beenies. But even when they fit it, I’ve discovered I don’t really like baby beenies. They are awkward, they slip off tiny heads, and I spend more time adjusting them and keeping them from slipping than they actually spend on her head keeping her baby ears warm.

I finally decided to make Tessa a couple of bonnet style hats that tie under the chin and completely cover her ears and cheeks to keep her warm on family outings. I was ruing the fact that I am still far too impatient to learn the art of crochet or knitting, and then the lightbulb went off. Just buy some old sweaters at the thrift store and turn them into pixie bonnets! Brilliant! I could even use the finished edges and hemlines of the sweaters for decorative trim! Woohoo!

So, as with every “original idea” I have, I ran online to find that… well, it’s already been done. Many times, in fact. *shakes fist at the internet heavens* So rather than reinvent the wheel, let me point you to a few good tutorials on turning an old sweater into a do it yourself baby pixie hat.

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Ella Bella blog has a great no sew tutorial on upcycling sweaters into pixie caps. The only warning I have with this method is that the fuzzier and looser knit the sweater is, the more likely it is that the “steam a seam” or “stitch witchery” won’t hold. Likewise, some knits don’t do as well and the no-sew method works better. (We’ve used BOTH sew and no-sew methods in making our pixie hats.) Also, this tutorial leaves raw edges on the bottom of the cap, which will cause your hat to unravel and not be machine washable. So do whatever works for you!

I Am Momma Hear Me Roar has a great tutorial that involves using bias tape to edge the hat so it is machine washable. I personally prefer not adding any accents to the hats, but this is definitely a good sturdy tutorial. If you’re looking for a long term keepsake hat, I’d recommend this method.

Sew Liberated also has a sewn pixie hat tutorial, this one from scratch in case you’re itching to use some fabric you had no idea what to do with up till now.

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For my pixie hats, I used the basic outline of Ella Bellas pattern, only I lengthened the points to various legnths to get more of an exaggerated tail and to change it up a bit (I also found that the 6 by 7 inch measurement was spot on for Tessa’s 3 month old head). Then I sewed the seams. For the neckline, I gave it an inward curve so it fit Tessa’s head more snugly. I also turned the raw corners in and hemmed them with very light interfacing so the hat won’t flap around on her when it’s tied, and so there’d be no loose edges for machine washing.

And voila! The husband and I cranked out 6 hats out of 3 different sweaters in about 1 hour on Thanksgiving. (Yes, we have odd date nights, I know.)

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Anyhoo, if you make one of these, post some pix and share! I think they’re crazy adorable!

The Freeman Family in the Month of November

2 Dec

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest. – William Blake

Above is the Freeman family in the month of November! I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. Or what really went on this month. I seriously just asked Jonathan the help me with this post, and he was like, “What happened this month? I don’t remember.” Yeah. Me too. Well. That’s… interesting. It’s been a whirlwind!

Let’s see now, every day Tessa grows more and more expressive. She giggles over silly things, like us making pigeon cooing noises at her, or having her diaper changed, or being dipped into the bathtub. Suddenly we have a BABY. How?!?!??!?!?! Time is moving too quickly! Pretty soon there will be “Tessa is crawling” then “Tessa is walking” then “Tessa is getting married” posts. Oh God. Time. Moving too quickly. *hyperventilates*

This month, the theme was “thankfulness” – for obvious reasons, what with Turkey Day and all. Ever since I became a mother, I’ve noticed that my focus has shifted from tangible, materialistic aspects of God working in my life and has focused on the hidden things that really matter. It’s as if scales have fallen from my eyes, and allowed me to see a world of mercies that I never fathomed before.

I see the world in a whole new way. It’s amazing and joyful and I feel like clicking my heels and singing “I Love the Whole World” with each new task and chore and adventure.

Jonathan is starting his final leg of A School, which is the beginning of the end of our time here in Pensacola. We still don’t know where or when we’ll be stationed outside of Pensacola, but it’s inching ever closer. We’re still taking things a day at a time and it’s surprisingly a lot less stress inducing than I thought it would be. It’s actually rather fun!

We’re putting it all in God’s hands, and we’re wholeheartedly saying, “Your will be done”. I can’t wait to see how life unfolds for us. It’s going to be an adventure, that’s for sure! I’m so excited for Tessa’s first Christmas and I’m eager to greet the New Year. Happy December everyone!^_^

Anna + Cameron – Engagement Photos at Barrancas Beach

1 Dec

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When Jonathan was in boot camp, he told me his best friend was a guy named “Mason”, and that I should look him up on Facebook and add his fiance Anna as a friend. So I did!

Mason is also going to Pensacola A School with Jonathan, so it’s been awesome already having a friend in the area before we had even moved here! Mason has been a great friend to our little family – he’s helped us move into our new place, he’s watched our house and babysat out cats, and has been an all around fun hang out buddy. Over the past few months, Jonathan and I have been super impatient to meet Anna.

Anna (who is also in the Navy) just graduated boot camp shortly after Mason and Jonathan did, and now that she’s all settled at her A School in San Antonio and acquired leave to come visit Pensacola, I’ve demanded they let me do their engagement photos.

So they let me! Today was our first day meeting Anna, and it was awesome finally getting to know her after all of the lovesick pining Mason has been doing these past months. “Anna this, Anna that, I miss Anna, waa waa waa!!” < —- (that’s how Cameron sounds)

So here are a couple of the photos we took of Anna and Cameron at Barrancas Beach at NAS Pensacola. Yes, that beach is on the Navy base. I still maintain this base is less a military training facility and more a luxury beach bum resort. But I digress. Check out the lovely awesomeness that is Anna and Cameron:

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Thanksgiving 2013 – Counting My Blessings

28 Nov

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I’m going to take an opposite approach to Thanksgiving this year. Instead of focusing on what I DO HAVE I’m going to focus on what I DON’T HAVE.

Calm down. I’m not talking about in a materialistic way.

To properly approach Thanksgiving Day, I think we need to always keep in mind what the actual living conditions of the Pilgrims were. They had landed in the middle of a New England winter in a strange new land, intent on serving the One True God. For their faith and their freedom they faced harsh circumstances in an epic way. We don’t need to describe in gory detail the privation they endured because the statistics tell it all:

By the time spring came, only 47 of the original 102 colonists were alive. And of those alive, only seven were strong enough to function and had to take care of the rest.

With these heartbreaking, intense hardships, they still chose to praise God for his provision and were truly thankful that they had harvested enough food so that they would not become extinct in their second winter in the New World. They were thankful simply to eat and be able to live in a world with nothing but cold, work, and nights without light. In the words of Edward Winslow, one of the survivors who wrote an account of their experience the first year,

“And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

In light of those circumstances, they still looked to their Creator and said, “Thank you, God. You are good.” Looking at the God-centered gratitude offered up by these brave souls, I feel humbled and blessed. Beyond blessed. Jeez, I don’t even know if there’s a word to describe blessed beyond blessed. Uber blessed?

So, that said, I am focusing on what I DON’T have this Thanksgiving.

I don’t have want in my life.

I don’t have hunger.

I don’t have sickness.

I don’t have death or loss.

I don’t have fear.

But when I do, (not if, but when) the ultimate blessing comes in know that it won’t change a thing. GOD IS STILL SOVEREIGN. God is still good. Whatever my lot, it is well with my soul. And that’s where the true “thanks giving” comes in. It reminds me of the quote I posted above:

Some people are so poor, all they have is money.

I am rich and I am blessed and it has nothing to do with my car, or my home, or my cosplays, or my book collection, or the plants on my patio (though those ARE things to gives thanks for). When I think of my many blessings, I think of my handsome husband – my hearts brother, my best friend, my hunka hunka lovin’ man. I think of my precious baby girl – my baby world, my little koala cuddles, my pretty princess. MY FAMILY. Dear God, how did I ever get to be so blessed?! It boggles my brain. But with all these blessings, what is even more amazing?

The realization that the heart of my happiness is the intangible blessings that come from knowing and loving the Creator of every good thing.

I may have more next year. I may have less. But through it all, I know God is good. And that is more than enough for me. Happy Thanksgiving everyone,  and God Bless!

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Wordless Wednesday – November 27, 2013

27 Nov

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Why You Need a Water Filter (And What Kind I Think You Should Get)

26 Nov

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I don’t like water. Never have. It’s bland and it’s flavorless. Its biggest crime is that it doesn’t taste like coffee.

I have lived in a state of extreme dehydration for years now. But recently, I’ve been on a mission to remedy that. The ultimate reason I’ve been reforming my wicked waterless ways is because of my daughter. I want to be healthier for her, so as she grows up I can offer her the best in word, example and deed. I can’t exactly push her water intake as a child while never taking a sip myself, can I? (I mean, I guess I can, but I’d prefer to avoid the douche-bag do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do parenting style.)

The second reason I’m pushing my water intake is because of my struggle with extremely dry skin and cracked heels. That is such a huge topic all on its own that I plan to follow up this blog post with more info on that particular issue later.

So moving on to my quest for more water! In looking up how best to hydrate myself, I stumbled upon this lovely little tidbit of information:

Pensacola has the absolute worst drinking water in the entire United States of America.

In a nationwide study of the safety of tap water in major cities, the Pensacola water supply was found to have 21 chemicals that exceeded health guidelines, including radium, lead, bezene and carbon tetrachloride.

After learning this information, I spent the rest of the week researching water filtration options and ordering the best water filter method for my home. I was in such a hurry to get my water filters, I even signed up for Amazon Prime for the two day shipping. Think I’m overreacting? (Probably.) But check out the full list of contaminants found in Pensacola’s water supply:

Barium (total), Chromium (total), Cyanide, Mercury (total inorganic), Nitrate, Nitrite, Selenium (total), Trichlorofluoromethane, 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene, cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene, 2,2-Dichloropropane, Monochloroacetic acid, Dibromoacetic acid, Chloroform, Xylenes (total), p-Dichlorobenzene, 1,1-Dichloroethylene, 1,1-Dichloroethane, 1,1,1,2-Tetrachloroethane, Monochlorobenzene (Chlorobenzene), Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Alpha particle activity (incl. radon & uranium), Combined Uranium (pCi/L), Cadmium (total), Lead (total), Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, Heptachlor epoxide, MTBE, Total haloacetic acids (HAAs), 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), Bromoform, Bromodichloromethane, Dibromochloromethane, Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), 1,2-Dichloroethane, Carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-Dichloropropane, Trichloroethylene, 1,1,2-Trichloroethane, Tetrachloroethylene, Benzene, Alpha particle activity (excl radon and uranium), Radium-226, Radium-228.

OMGWTF?!?!??!?! I can’t even pronounce half the crap on that list, and I stopped Google searching what each one was and why drinking it is bad half way through the list because I was getting all twitchy. And this isn’t even the worst of it.

Most people don’t realize that federal law does not require tap water to be safe for long-term consumption. Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 harmful chemicals are found in drinking water in the United States.

Why is this allowed? Because the long-term risks of cancer and other health threats are balanced against the cost and feasibility of purification by each city. The current mindset is that the contaminants are fully disclosed to the public, therefore if you care about your long term health, you will take steps to filter your water to your liking. Your water does not have to be healthy. And in Pensacola’s case, it is decidedly not so. You can check out your local drinking water quality by visiting the EPA website here. 

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So! Are you convinced you need a water filter? Since I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit researching the different options when it comes to water filters, let me share my findings with you. Here’s a simple guide to the most popular methods of water filtration and why I think all but one method sucks:

Distilled Water

How It Works – This process passes water over a heated coil‚ causing the water to vaporize and become gaseous. The steam then rises and transfers to a cooling chamber‚ where it condenses back into a liquid. This process separates water from inorganic compounds like lead‚ calcium‚ magnesium‚ etc. and destroys bacteria.

Why I Think It Sucks – This process does not remove most organic chemicals, since they typically vaporize at a lower temperature than water and are transferred over with the steam. FAIL.

Reverse Osmosis

How It Works – This is a process that exposes water under pressure‚ to a semi-permeable membrane with a very fine pore structure. Because most inorganic contaminants are of a larger molecular size than water‚ the membrane rejects certain contaminants‚ minerals and a large part of the water.

Why I Think It Sucks – Because many synthetic chemicals like herbicides and pesticides are smaller molecularly than water, they slip through. FAIL.

Granular Carbon Filters

This is the most popular home filtration method. (It’s what is used in Brita filters.) Granular carbon filters remove contaminants by adsorption‚ which is the chemical or physical bond of a contaminant to the surface of the filter. Activated carbon bonds to thousands of chemicals, in fact it bonds to almost all known chemicals! Water runs around the carbon granules, and the bad joo joo in the water sticks to the surface of the granules.

Why I Think It Sucks – This type of filter does NOTHING for straining out bacteria. They are worthless in terms of virus and protozoa, which aren’t adsorbed by the granules and just continue on their merry way through the filter and straight into your mouth. Yum yum! Plus, many chemicals that WOULD be adsorbed by the granules can make their way through the filter without being adsopbed if not exposed long enough. DOUBLE FAIL.

Carbon Block Filters (What I Recommend You Use)

How It Works – A carbon block filter is made of the exact same stuff a granular carbon filter is made up of… only it’s in solid block form.

Why I Think It Rocks – It works with the same method of chemical bonding through adsorption, but it has the added element of mechanical straining.

When water is pushed through the solid carbon block, it is FORCED to slow down and increase the contact time with the carbon, allowing the carbon bonding to take place to remove the chemical pollutants like toxins, pesticides, trihalomethanes, chlorine, bad tastes, odors, etc.

And whatever is missed by adsorption – like bacteria and protozoa and heavy metals like lead – are then strained out by the pore size of the block. Basically, it’s like trying to put a basketball through a hole the size of a ping pong ball. The pores in the block of carbon can filter particles down to sub-micron size. That filters dirt, sediment, rust, algae, bacteria, microscopic worms, cryptosporidium and asbestos. And because of the density of the solid carbon block, there is no room for bacteria to grow so this type of filter does not become an incubator for them.

This type of filter is so hardcore, they’re known as survivalist filters. They are what wilderness backpackers use to purify bacteria infested waters on trails. For added safety, you can put a couple drops of chlorine or bleach in your water to kill off bacteria gathered in a stream, and then it run it through the filter. The filter then removes the chlorine and bleach and dead bacteria and your bacteria infested spring water is now safer and tastier than your Pensacola tap water. Uhhh, WIN.

Best part is? They are super affordable! Since Jonathan and I are going to be moving around quite a bit in the future, we can’t really invest in a whole home filtration system. So instead, we’ve purchased a pitcher style carbon block filter (made with BPA free plastic!) for less than $25 and a sports water bottle carbon block filter for less than $20. So far, we are extremely happy with our purchases and will be using our bottles on upcoming camping and hiking excursions!

Do you use a water filtration system? If so, what kind do you use and why? Talk me people, my blog is so much more fun when the empty void I send this drivel into talks back. 😉