The last time I…

On a walk near Schloss Solitude

Happiest of Mondays and a big thank you to all who commented on my last post about jeans!! Over the weekend, I went shopping and found two pair that worked for me (for now), and feel better knowing I have jeans again. One from Levi’s and the other from ESPRIT.

ESPRIT was big in the 90s in the states, and died off, but here in Germany, they’re a major major store with – actually – a lot of cute clothes! I’d put them on par with Express quality, but more mature, aka not geared toward the young teeny-bobber crowd.

So, it’s safe to say I was pretty surprised to find myself buying from both stores, but the girl at Levi’s was beyond helpful. Something that isn’t normal in Germany. Sales associates usually leave you alone, ie. completely ignore you, so for her to not only be willing to speak English, but also go out of her way, bringing me new items and giving her opinion, like an associate in the states would do, was pretty awesome.

And hard to pass up.

I saw “the last thing I…” on Callie’s blog, and thought it was too fun to pass up, so I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Feel free to jump on too. It’ll be a fun ride!

Last thing I ate: Technically…fried cheese bits that were left in the pan after I cooked eggs for tomorrow’s breakfast. Those really are the best things to munch on! Before that though, I ate the leftover gummy bears before grocery shopping. They always say, ‘never go to the store hungry’, right? This was just my way of preventing that. 😉

Ps.. gummies here are different than gummies in the states. Much yummier!

Last thing I drank: Water. Always water. Beyond my morning coffee, it’s nothing but water!

Last text I sent: I know you do! You’ve stuck with that terrible job for almost a year, so you MUST love it.” Me telling my friend how much she loves torturing herself… I’m clearly an encouragement to her. 😉

Last book I read: Does an ongoing read count? I’m slowly working my way through The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Sounds terribly amateur, and it is, but it’s also pretty funny. Before that, I read Little Women, and that was the first time I’ve read it. It’s such a sweet book!! I highly recommend it for your daughter or yourself.

Last time I laughed: Thankfully, yesterday! We had friends over for dinner and games.. Wii video games that is, and all four of us are quite competitive. Lots of yelling, cheering, and laughing took place, and it was so much fun.

Last thing I bought: Boring answer: groceries… Less boring answer: my jeans over the weekend!

Last movie I saw: This Means War. Such a funny movie! Even the husband absolutely loved it **my words (obviously!). We were both laughing so hard throughout. Its a great girly movie with enough action and guy humor to sway even the most anti-romance movie of guys.

Last tv show I watched: We’re working our way through House. I have a like/hate relationship with this show. Have you seen it? The political agenda is gag-worthy sometimes, and I wanted to strangle him throughout the first 5…7 episodes for his arrogance and brash statements, but since we have running commentary during each episode, it helps ease my annoyance.

Last thing I googled: What the word “goad” meant. I was reading through Ecclesiastes 12:11 and it talked about “the words of the wise are like goads…” and I got curious! For the record, it’s a spiked stick used for driving cattle.. So, think of the wise words being used as a motivator to drive and encourage people.

If you do this on your blog, let me know. I want to read all your fun answers!

Two pants down

Typically when someone writes “two pants down” they mean down in size, and we can all clap and cheer, but that’s not me. I’m down two pants because both have tore in the exact same spot, within two weeks of each other!

Blasted inner thigh area.

One of two things could have caused this…

Increase in thigh size, increase in thigh size, or increase in thigh size.

Okay, that was three, but I’ll spare the guesses. {whispers} it’s cause #3..and 2..and 1.

I have no idea how this happened, (I say as I spread chocolate icing on a graham cracker). But truthfully, I wasn’t expecting this second pair to “R.I.P” (terrible pun intended). The first pair I owned held up beautifully through all the little weight fluctuations for 13 years. But this pair I’ve only had for three years, or four, or is it five?!

Can’t remember for the life of me, but definitely not 13! Too soon in my book. Too soon.

the jeans ;-(

I get that “ripped” jeans are in right now. I see them all over the internet, but I like to be covered, and not have random chunks of skin uncomfortably popping out. Just not my thing.

Which bring me back to the “cause.”

I workout six days a week, (not bragging, because remember: two jeans down!), and was actually just having a conversation with my husband about this very topic. Changes are happening in every other area but my thighs. They’re slimmer but not toning. As my husband pointed out, my legs are someone else’s midsection. Meaning, where one person struggles to lose weight in their belly, I struggle to tone and define my legs. He’s right. Since high school, it’s been my one area. I mean, even my podiatrist, years ago, said I will always have “cankles.” (thanks, doc) Thus, I’m noticing pants with stretch, ie. legging-esque quality, fit nicely, while my jeans… require major hoisting up.

What’s a girl to do?

If you say, ‘not eat chocolate icing graham crackers,’ I’d say, “have you tried it?!” Okay, I’d really say, “no, duh!” But truth is, this is the first time in 17 years I’ve done this… leftover icing from my birthday cake can’t go to waste after all. I eat pretty healthy – degree in nutrition helps in that area – so maybe it’s just the ol’ “getting older” excuse that’s shaking things up. It’s hard to say, but I know one thing’s for sure, it’s time to go shopping!

Which is where you come in!

What are your favorite jeans brand? Where do you shop? What do you buy?
I want quality, comfortable jeans that don’t require me to hold my breath and strain just to get them past my knees. That leaves out any super skinny can-see-every-dimple kind of jeans. no-no, just no. I want to be able to breathe like a normal person.

It’s obvious that it’s been years since I’ve been jeans shopping and need all the help I can get.

And! Any recommendations on sizing issues? Waist is still the same size, so sizing up to accommodate the thighs means baggy waist, while sizing for the waist means loss of feeling in the thighs. A bit of a lose-lose, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on everything!

What should I do? Inquiring minds want to know!

Lightning storms and my attempt to capture them

lightning storm
Living in Germany, I get to enjoy a lot of different weather. Even though it’s Summer, it’ll be in the 90s (without a/c, mind you) one week, and then barely getting over 70 the next, with lots of rain. It’s mildly bi-polar here, but I honestly love it.

Last night, we had quite the thunderstorm, and as I was lying on the ground, with my head against the balcony glass door, so I could look straight up at the sky, I watched as lightning bolts streaked the sky. They were so bright, I would be momentary blinded by the flash.

It was awesome!

After about ten minutes of watching it dance across the sky, G, who was sitting next to me, asked if I wanted to grab my camera. It was perfect timing, because I was dreaming of having my camera all set up to capture the gorgeous sight. It’s been one of my goals to shoot lightning!

So, I jumped up and ran downstairs, but not before asking G to google “Canon settings for lightning,” because I may know how to shoot in manual, but I sure don’t know the first thing about shooting lightning! After grabbing all my gear, I set up the tripod, got the settings to what trusty Google said they needed to be, and starting taking photos.

The majority of the bright bolts right overhead had passed, but off in the distance, we still had some pretty impressive streaks. The settings proved to work, (thanks, Google), leaving me with some nice shots, and me dreaming of my next chance to shoot a lightning storm.

Even though I’m an amateur and have only done this once (technically that should make me an expert, right? ;-)), I’ll post my settings below each picture, just in case they help you when you want to shoot lightning. Every camera is different though, so, it’s important to know what you’re working with to ensure you’re getting the shot you want.

I have a Canon 5D Mark III and used my 35mm 1.4 for the night.

lightning stormLens: 35mm, Shutter speed: 13 seconds, F/stop: 8, ISO: 100

lightning stormLens: 35mm, Shudder speed: 20 seconds, F/stop: 8, ISO 100

lightning stormLens: 35mm, Shutter speed: 20 seconds, F/stop: 8, ISO 100

You can see I didn’t really tweak with my settings too much, only changing the shutter speed from time to time; opening the shutter up longer to let in more light.

These bolts happened when I first started shooting, and it was fun knowing I was capturing at least a couple.

As the night wore on, the storm was passing and less and less lightning was appearing. When G and I would talk about packing up and calling it a night, another bolt would strike and we’d vow that we’d wait for “just one more” and then head to bed.

lightning stormLens: 35mm, Shutter speed: 25 seconds, F/stop: 8, ISO 100

We got excited seeing the one above and really hoped the camera got it in all it’s glory. When we saw it did, I quietly set up for the next photo, while G sat there unmoving. We weren’t packing up. We weren’t calling it a night. We didn’t want to miss out on another potentially awesome lightning bolt!

lightning stormLens: 35mm, Shutter speed: 25 seconds, F/stop: 8, ISO: 100

And thank goodness we didn’t because I got this gorgeous shot shortly after. We were wowed by it, and so glad we stuck around, which had us wondering if maybe our “one more” rule should be tossed out the window.

We stuck around for another five minutes or so, and definitely noticed the lightning getting few and far between. We called it quits after I got this very last shot below, and hurried downstairs to look at the photos.

lightning stormLens: 35mm, Shutter speed: 25 seconds, F/stop: 8, ISO: 100

Its always amazing to me to see God’s work. Lightning and thunder leave me in awe of his power, and I’m so glad I got the chance to witness the spectacular show, last night. If I get another chance to shoot lightning, I think I plan to change lenses and mess with the settings again, but if I don’t, then I’m happy as a clam I have these for my memory.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to photograph but haven’t yet? Share in the comments, I’d love to chat about it!

edited to add this one super important tip:

There’s one thing I completely forgot about that is just as important as all the other camera settings, and that’s the FOCUS! Because it’s so dark out, your camera will not be able to “find” an object to focus on, so it’ll constantly be looking and blur the image because it’s unable to lock onto something.

So, it’s really important you put your lens on infinity and then switch it from “AF” to “MF” – auto focus to manual focus. By doing this, the lens will stop looking for something and you’ll have full control. By setting it to infinity (the little sideways looking 8), it’ll put the lens looking at the furthest possible point (ie. the sky) and have that be sharp and in focus! Which is exactly what you want!