I am {blank} because...

Blessed....because the plan He has for my life is even more awesome than the one I would have chosen for myself.

I survived my first semester of nursing school(sanity just barely intact)!!  I was actually done like 2 weeks ago, but today is the first day that I haven't had a to-do list of stuff that I've been neglecting for the past 4 months.  Top of the list: uploading all of the pics I've taken...408 to be exact. Next, start playing in Lr3!! Yay! Actually, I guess really next is to go find a book about how to best use the thing, then start playing. Time to get back to work!

Top Coat worth spending $$ on!!

I don't do product reviews since this is more of a journal for me, but I had to share this top coat that is changing my manicure world right now. And I guess in a way that's a big thing that makes sense to "journal" about, right?
Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Ultra Wear Top Coat

It's Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Topcoat. This stuff is AWESOME!!! I rarely keep nail polish on because it's such a waste of time for me, it's usually chipped by the end of the day. If I wanted to wear some I had to put it on after I took a shower and not get my hands too wet(no dishes or cleaning). I have tried numerous topcoats, basecoats, different brands of polish, and nothing has ever stayed on more than 24 hours(except Shellac, but that's a little expensive for me on a regular basis).
I picked this stuff up while wandering through Wal-Mart, and it was $6.97. Unfortunately I threw away the box after I knew it was a keeper, so I can't tell you what the special ingredients are supposed to be. It does claim to keep a chip-free manicure for up to 10 days, and I am on day 3 with only 1 chip because my nail broke :(

So far, I love love this stuff!!

This post was not sponsored or paid in any way, I bought the polish and am giving my honest personal opinion on it.

Empathy and a Gift

Maybe something is wrong with me, but lately I have been having these awful vivid nightmares. Ones where something awful happens to my babygirl. I don't know what the thing is that's happened, but I wake up sobbing. Or, like this AM, driving down the highway and the feeling of loss just randomly crashes over me and it feels like someone kicked me in the chest.  What the heck??? And on top of that I had people who inevitably looked over at me trying to drive with buckets of tears and the ugly crying face...perfect.

I am going to take these episodes as empathy training for my future career-as opposed to an indication that I may need to take a trip to the drug store-and try to remember this as I move forward: everyone handles stress and sickness and loss differently. I will not presume to know the level of reaction that is appropriate in many of those situations, and at the same time try not to be reduced to a puddle of tears when I witness something awful.

On another note...a while back, while I was a stay at home mom, I attempted(well really half-attempted) to start a photography business. Let me just say, I'm pretty sure that I will be abandoning that effort for a while. I started portfolio building, and during that time doing shoots for people for REALLY cheap-meaning you pay for the prints you want at cost. I found that people were generally very demanding, and not very grateful. One client asked me why if this was for my portfolio I wasn't doing unlimited free prints too. At that point I realized that while I love photography, doing it for money is not for me. I don't want to have to take jobs to pay bills. So I decided that Candy Apple Smiles will still live, but on a much smaller scale than I originally envisioned. I am planning on just doing jobs for people that I know, and really only when I have time. And most likely "at cost". Making this decision has de-stressed me a little, and deciding that I am going to do exactly what I want makes me happier than the prospect of  more miserable encounters. In addition, I promise myself I will buy accessories for my hobby without guilt, or the feeling that I need to make some money from this to justify buying more/better stuff.  With that said, I am buying myself a gift to kick off my "pictures for pleasure" phase:
Product Details
This little gem, a Canon 50mm f/1.8. I am so excited!!

Have you ever had to make a decision that was disappointing and liberating at the same time?

Pretty Easy Crochet Afghan

Crochet and I are like boyfriend and girlfriend right now. That sounds odd, but look: we are new to each other and I am totally infatuated with it, spending a LOT of my free time looking for patterns and buying yarn and stuff. Sometimes it annoys me and I don't mess with it for a few days, but then I miss it and come back. Seemed like a good analogy at the beginning... anyway this started because I wanted a slouchy hat to cover my transitioning hair and couldn't find one in the store, so I thought I'd try to make one. I found a free pattern through Pinterest, and  a bunch of videos on youtube to demonstrate the stitches and now numerous hats and scarves and half an afghan later here we are!

I went on lionbrand.com after buying some of their yarn and discovered a wealth of free patterns!! I was originally looking for a hat pattern (which I found, but more on that later) and came across this gem that got added to Craftyness for a rainy day. Well it didn't exactly rain, and I don't really have much free time, but Michaels had a great sale on one of my favorite yarns for making cozy stuff so I was able to get a bunch.  BTW-no one told me that once you start making things that actually look good this becomes a sick addiction...I have a huge basket that has been filled with "just in case I have time to start something" yarn.

Anyway, here's a look at what I've got so far.

I like blankets a lot. What I don't like are the funny sized ones that don't quite cover you when you're on the couch trying to watch a movie and be comfy. The pattern says the finished size is 36x41 in, which is too small for something for an adult to me. So I figured out how to increase it by basically counting the stitches needed for one ripple and then adding ripples until I thought it would be wide enough. I ended up adding 4 ripples to the width, and it's measuring about 54 inches across. If you notice the discrepancy in the amount of ripples I added being proportionate to how much bigger the thing should be, just turn a blind eye. I did a big no-no...I didn't make a guage swatch (gasp!!). SO instead of each of the ripples being 6 inches as the pattern says, mine ended up being more like a little less than 5inches. I also started with a size N hook because I know I crochet tighter than apparently normal, and that is what I got. Since it's a blanket and not a sweater, and since I'm still relatively new to the whole thing, I'm not worried about it. I will probably use more yarn (this is almost 1/3rd of the length I want and I'm on the 2nd ball of each color) but that's ok for me too.
I am so excited about finishing it someday soon, it has a good weight and a soft feel to it.
I have had some folks say that they dry clean finished products to make them fluffy and keep from fuzzing up...any thoughts on that?

Join us!

BTW-this is not a sponsored post!

Just Breathe

Just breathe is my new mantra lately....what the heck was I thinking going to school and working full time with 2 kids??? Oh yeah, I was thinking about having a satisfying career and getting paid more to work less. I keep reminding myself of this when I don't want to study, or go to class, or leave my sweet little ones who don't really understand why I went from stay at home to always gone mom. Seriously, some people that know what is going on ask me if I'm crazy to have all this on my plate...not encouraging folks. Maybe I am crazy, but I have an awesome Hubs that supports me and encourages me to keep going everyday...sometimes when I pray I throw in an extra "you go boy" to God for making someone so perfect for me. :)
On another note, I am keeping(mostly) up with my resolution to take a photo everyday-made much easier by figuring out how to get pics off of my phone! Once I get some sort of organization to the mass of photos I am uploading I'll dump them in here.
Also, I've been crafting as much as possible, knocking some things off of my Craftyness to do list! Currently I'm working on this but in chocolate, cream, and dark red. I'm pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to adjust the pattern for a more comfy wrap-around size. :) Once it's done I'll put up how I did that too.
So lots of things on my plate, but I'm definitely still making it!

This one is from the fall, I love her face :)

Only One Resolution

2012 holds big things for our family: school for me, possible job changes for hubs..and in addition to all of this I am going to undertake a project. I'm calling it one resolution, but it has multiple parts. I'm definitely doing a 365 this year, and at the end of the year I'm going to make a book. I was looking back on the pics I took this year of my kiddos, and it is a sad state around here. There are a couple of months that I didn't take any pictures!! Especially shameful since my son is growing so fast...he's 17 months and wearing a 3T and size 8 shoes!!
So the 365 includes:
1.) taking a picture everyday for the whole year and keeping them organized well
2.) Blogging about it!
3.) Making sure that I am actually in at least one pic a month
4.) At least one pic a month of a craft I am working on/have finished

This past week has been heaven, Hubs was on vacation so I got to sleep in and have breakfast in bed. With all the time I had to rest and recharge between shifts I had time to just thank God for such an awesome husband. It was his vacation too, and he did everything I asked(and didn't ask) without complaining.
 The kids had an awesome Christmas, and we hosted dinner at our house so I didn't have to cart the kids and watch the clock on Christmas day. Tomorrow morning we go back to reality: up around 7am and work in the afternoon. However, I am going to buy lightroom 3 and the humongo class in a book and start playing. I know I've been talking about getting it for a while and haven't, but I just found out I get a SWEET discount through the University so I really have no choice now.

This year I have decided, while not an official resolution, to let some things go. I feel like I always have too much to do: things to buy, crafts to do, cleaning, and now added schoolwork....I am going to make an effort to stress as little as possible. This year my house will not be constantly spotless, my kids will watch more TV than I like(still not spongebob though), my craft board on pinterest will continue to grow with things I hope to one day do, and I will have to make a list of books I want to read and save it for spring break. This year begins my journey into my career, time for me to truly grow up and become who I know I am called to be...and in that growing up realize that some things will have to be put to the side for a while so that our family can reach it's full potential. MaddieBoo already tells anyone who will listen that her mommy is in nursing school, and the pride in her voice when she says it is so much motivation for me to get this thing going already!  This year begins my journey into becoming a person that my children will be proud of, and that I will be proud of too.

Easy Crochet Hat

The past month or so I have been on a forced internet fast. Well, not totally, but I spend maybe an hour every couple of days instead of a couple of hours everyday. As a result, my husband is a much happier guy and I spend more time with my kids (and not wishing I was asleep because I was on the computer all night). However, I have still been getting crafty, and whipping up stuff I pinned over the summer on Pinterest. I was trying to find something easy to make for stocking stuffers for my kiddos, and maybe some homemade gifts (if I can manage that many) so I tried my hand at this:
I found the pattern for the hat on Pinterest, but here is the direct link to her blog.

This one came from here, I just made the flower part of the headband

It came out awesome!! The only downside is that I attempted to make a slouchy hat (posted about it here) a while back, and with this coming out great I now know that one was all wrong...so I may try it again.
Here's my next project:

I'd like to put bigger flowers on my future hats, and this one should be about the size of my whole palm where the purple one is a little smaller.  Since I have started learning to crochet and I'm getting better at it I may take some time to come up with my own patterns for hats and flowers. If I do, I'll be sure to post them here :)

Happy Thursday, and here's to a crafty weekend!!