domesticity,  Shop Talk,  shopping

So what did you DO with all that money?

my new camera

I’m nervous to share with you how I’m spending the money I have so generously received. I’m superstitious and I seem to like to worry. I’m an expert worrier. I’ve always thought there was a formula to blogging. If X-many people love you, then Y-many people will hate you (usually 10-20 percent). I made this up in my head. I have no evidence. I’ve just told myself that so I’m always ready in case someone ever wants to open up a forum somewhere and bash my head in a few times. I know it’s stupid. I know I shouldn’t concern myself with things like this.

Partly I’m like this because I’ve given to those in need before myself and let me tell you, I am GUILTY of seething when I see them spending my hard-earned cash on crapola from the dollar section at Target. So I guess I just assume that sharing with you how I use the money is sort of setting myself up to be criticized because obviously I like to buy crapola at Target. Silly silly Brenda.

So anyway, I’m going to share because several people have asked and I’m sure you are curious. I think I’m ready for your criticism too. Maybe not.

First I bought a camera. This is something that has been on my list forever. I’ve been shooting for this blog, Alpha+Mom, my review blog and even a few professional photo gigs on the side with a waterproof point and shoot camera. I love that waterproof camera but it is NOT very good for what I’ve been using it for. It adds a ton of black. It can barely handle low light and it’s, well…it’s not meant for taking professional photos. It’s meant for taking pictures of fish when you’re snorkeling in Hawaii. It’s meant for being tossed in your purse when you have a fun day at the beach.

I bought the Canon EOS Rebel T2i with the kit lens and a 50mm. It’s not a pro camera. It’s mid-level but really new and really nice (to me). Of course Toby, the professional photographer, had a few choice words about it and how stupid I was to not wait another two years for his old cast-off camera but I’ve already been waiting two years and I don’t want his old camera anyway. Yes, his camera is amazing and takes photos like this but it weighs about five pounds and it’s old.

lens licker

So maybe I’ll live to regret my choice but right now it’s blowing my socks off. I’ve only had it since 4 pm and I’ve already taken pictures like this IN THE SHADE!!

blue cacti

SHADE!! Full on twilight blue blue blue shade. This photo should be grainy and blurry but it’s not! I know all you professional photographers will roll your eyes at me. I know so little. But don’t worry. I will be up to speed in no time! I’ll be learning as I snap away.

So that’s that. It’s not the craft table but don’t worry. I’m getting to that.

I have not gone to IKEA yet but I have a plan. I have thought long and hard and measured twice and this is what I’m thinking about getting:

dream office

Please ignore the distortion. I’ve copied and pasted screenshots of what I thought would go in my new office. Just imagine me pushing the table up against the wall and that bookcase storage unit nice and straight along the side wall, not all weird and hanging out in space.

Starting at the top I’ve got some track lighting. I’m not 100% on these because I don’t know if they can be installed in the ceiling. I also don’t want to spend a lot of money installing lighting when I might be up and moving in six months. But I do know I need lots of light here because I need to see what I’m painting and it’s kind of dark in this corner. I think I need to walk around the lighting department and see what I see before I make up my mind.

The storage bookshelf unit is a bit over the top for me. It’s really super nice and I could put my sewing machine and fabric in there. I normally wouldn’t buy this but since I do have the budget for it, I might splurge. I don’t know. If I don’t go for the storage bookshelf then I’ll definitely go for some shelving. Gotta put my paints and supplies somewhere!

Next is the awesome drawing table with adjustable trestle legs that make it so I can tilt the drawing table if I want. I didn’t love the way the trestle legs looked. I liked the sleek silver posts better but my friend Deb, the painter, advised me to go for the tilt. She says I’ll really love having that down the line when I’m drawing and painting more. I really hope she’s right about the drawing and painting more, that would be really really cool. I’m pretty sure she’s right about the tilt. She would know. So what color? White or natural? I don’t have a strong opinion either way.

Lastly is the groovy red chair. Because I like it! I do have a strong opinion about that. It’s so cool and perfect! Of course if somebody out there has this chair and you hate it because it is super uncomfortable, please let me know. You could save me from a $40 mistake.

living room dreaming

While I’m at IKEA I’m going to check out this couch. I know it looks like something that would get covered in black dog hair but I’m keeping an open mind because it’s machine-washable and so very stylish! I think this table might go really well with the chairs I already have that I’m going to recover with some new oilcloth from Purl Soho or Maisonette.

le chair so many fabrics to choose from

I love visiting my friends at Maisonette! I’m sure they will help me decide.

five dollar chair and a 28 dollar lamp

I bought this lamp at Home Depot for $28. It was the last one and on sale. I snatched it up. It turns out it has two small almost imperceptible dents in the shade but I still like it. I also bought this plastic chair at a thrift store for five dollars. I can’t figure out where it’s from. It looks like an IKEA chair but it says it’s a T.I.M. Chair, patent pending, on the bottom. I’ve googled T.I.M. Chair and found nothing. I wonder if it’s worth more than five bucks. It is to me! I love the groovy modular shape. It makes me want to wear something tailored and sip a martini or something.

The bistro table will be banished outdoors. That thing has sharp edges and is constantly getting knocked into by a kid. The lamp will go live next to the hairy dog chaise lounge and my other old beloved white chair. We’ll just call that area of the living room the Dog Parlor or something. Hmmmm… maybe that isn’t such a good idea. I might hold off on the couch and just wait for something wonderful to show up in a thrift store. I love thrift stores.

7Days, Day 7: Secret Agent Farewell

Did you see this painting I found at the same thrift store? Please ignore my ugly mug and bright glaring secret agent glasses. I was posing for 7days. Anyway, the painting is super cool and painted in 1966! It says so on the painting but of course I’m covering that part up with my big ugly head. I guess I just think anything is cool if it’s older than me.

I’m sorry, I glossed over the silverware and rug. They aren’t too terribly exciting. Just some functional things I need. The carpet here is pretty badly stained and I’d love to just not have to look at the marks.

Bug in her room

I also might look into a bunk bed that I can modify to go over that counter in Bug’s room. Especially if I don’t purchase the shelving bookcase unit. So many decisions to make. Thankfully they are fun ones!

Please chime in. Bash my head in if I’m being stupid. I want to be smart about using this money. I’ve read over the notes that were sent with the donations and so many of you really didn’t have the extra funds to give. It was all so kind. I want to be extra careful not to blow it.


  • cst

    I love your blog, Brenda, and I loved this post. One thing about the rug: we bought it, and it kind of sucks. It looks nice, and adds great texture to a room, but it pricks your feet if you have no shoes on (right through socks!), and our dog got his nails stuck in the little loops all the time. If you ever spill anything on it, like we did, it’s pretty much ruined since it can’t be washed or even wetted. I would not recommend it. We’re thinking about replacing the one we’ve long since thrown out with the newer model jute version. Anyway, good luck!

  • cath


    so great to go virtual shopping with you! i want to spend money now too…bummer. Love everything you’ve chosen even the red chair. As a designer like you, i spend hours on my bum in front of the puter and in the end ditched the chair for a gym ball. my back and my stomach have thanked me for it many times. Not so cool designer wise, but as we found out the other day, it makes a great toy when the kids come over too. Enjouy your shopping spreeeeeeeeeeeeeee! You deserve it!

  • BeachMama

    Yay for your Camera!!! You know how I feel about this awesome purchase, it will pay for itself before Springtime for sure. And am so glad you got the 50mm with it, such an amazing low-light lens, I recommend it to anyone who asks taking photos in low-light. Someone up there recommended a flash, great idea if you find that you will be shooting in dark malls and whatnot. You could wait a bit though as I will admit that I hardly ever use mine (hardly ever, not never). I am just so thrilled that you will be back in to photography as more than a hobby because you are just so great at it. And who knows maybe we could work together one day :)

    Your desk is awesome, I agree that the silver legs were cooler, but less functional. And listen to everyone about the chair! I work in a comfy arm chair and don’t think I could go back to an office chair unless it was one of those funky black mesh ones I used when I worked in the offices.

    Looking forward to your before and after shots and many more wonderful opportunities coming your way thanks to being well equipped. xoxo

  • sarah

    No judgements here… your money, spend it as you see fit. I, too, am enjoying your virtual shopping spree and can’t wait to see the pictures of the purchases!

  • Leta

    You’re doing great, Brenda. I think the camera was an excellent choice. These are necessities, and you are not blowing anyone’s money. It is yours to do with what you want. And definitely get a comfy chair. You can always recover it.

  • Aurora

    You are awesome for buying the camera. totally the way to go! The rest of it I’ve got not opinion on; just do be sure that the chair is comfortable, not just cute (and it IS cute… but will it hurt you by the end of the day?).

  • Jenn S

    i meant to mention — we really like dash and albert ( for rugs — we’ve gotten a few striped ones from there, and while they’re slightly more expensive than, say, and ikea one, they are practically indestructable (we’ve spilled so much stuff on ours it isn’t funny and it still looks quite good)

  • Kuky

    Isabelle chose that chair to go with her desk. I’m sitting on it right now. It’s ok but I don’t sit on it for hours and hours. I say go with something soft and cushy. And good choice with the camera. And oooh I really like your $5 thrift store chair. Good find.

  • Julia

    love the camera – excellent decision — I am in total agreement about the OTT lights — they are perfect for close work, especially where color is important. AND you can take them with you if you move. check JoAnn’s for coupons together with a sale. as for the rest, upgrade everything a little beyond what you think you deserve :) it will last longer and feel more comfortable. I speak from experience :)

  • karen

    The pictures from your new camera are awesome! I would never have guessed you were using such a, uhhhh, limited (?) device before – I’ve always thought your pictures looked good. You must be a genius with photoshop!!

    On furniture, I have to say that we have a chaise like the one you’re considering (except ours is dark red – we have dark cats). It is very comfy and more than a few guests have curled up on it for the night but, after five years, I’ve realized its limitation is that it is really only for one person at a time (or two very cuddly people) in spite of its bulk. So, I have started dreaming of a couch that several people who were not in the mood to cuddle could share. It’ll be fine for you and Bug but might be weird if you have friends over. I, specifically, am looking at my oldest (turning 12) and thinking I’d better get a handle on the couch sitch here before he starts asking to have girls over…

  • Jessica

    what a great, great start to your new life. i worked from home and learned the hard way- do not skimp on the chair, your booty will appreciate it! glad to see how much you are enjoying the planning and spending of your windfall. happy ikea-ing! fyi, we had the tromso loft bed and it was great – you can fit another twin underneath w/out having to buy the bunk bed, but it was really high, we had an old house with low ceilings and there was not a lot of clearance, clarence.

  • Amy

    How wonderful it is that you have so many wanting to help you :) Spend your money in the manner that will most make you happy and bring your work space up to the snuff you desire :)

    And as others have commented, we have your back Brenda. You can DO THIS!!

  • Jeanne


    Photographs are part of your art, your blog and therefore your business. Good for you! As for the rest, you are making your new house a home for you and Bug. No one who reads you regularly would ever imagine you would do anything without Bug’s interest in mind… and that includes having a mom who’s happy and feels good about her personal space. Get the cabinet! You must have a place to put things away… it’ll keep you sane!

    Besides, we all have crapola from Target… anyone who says they don’t is lying!

  • Amy

    You totally deserve that camera, it’s important to not feel bad about being good to yourself. I’m looking forward to more beautiful photos – love the cactus photo. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy 2011!

  • mamalang

    The chair…we bought it for Bella in pink. As others have said, it’s fine for short periods of time, then the cuteness wears off as your bum and back begin to scream.

    Nate has a loft bed from Ikea. It was relatively inexpensive, and he loves it. I hate putting sheets on it, but other than that it’s held up well (we’ve had it for about a year or so.)

    I don’t think anyone has a right to judge how you spent the money. I honestly think that the people that are asking are curious because we are sooo excited for you. We care about you and Bug and want to see you have the best. I just wish we could join you in actually shopping…I know for a fact that shopping at Ikea with you is a blast :)

  • Beck's Mom

    I’m surprised/disappointed that Ikea doesn’t have a ‘write a review’ option for folks to give feedback on specific products. Thankfully that sort of input has been provided to you by your wonderful blog friends. :)

    Your final choices will indeed fulfill the basic requirements of function, comfort, quality & beauty very nicely.

  • ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

    For you, I am most excited in the camera! It’s an investment in YOUR future! Yours and Bug’s!

    I am so pleased for you – decisions you have recently made are difficult, to say the least. And you deserve all the best.

    Take care,
    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

  • Sherry

    I haven’t read through all the comments so I might be repetitive. However, pro photographer or not, don’t worry about regrets regarding your camera. The T2i is a GREAT camera. I have the same camera but one model down (T1i) and it’s amazing. Also, as far as pro photos go, my sister got married last year and her photographer – someone who shoots engagements all year long and is constantly booked all summer for weddings – used a T1i for her wedding. The shots are beautiful.

    Besides, it’s not just about the camera, it’s about the vision of the person taking it. I’m amazed that you’ve been using a point and shoot all along because your photos are amazing already; with a good quality camera now, you’re just going to rock that much harder.

    Good for you! And honestly, looking over your list, it seems to me that you’ve managed a very good balance between functional necessities and fun extras, all with a whimsical touch that suits you. I think your ideas are great!

  • anna b bonkers

    Oh man, I love how everything is coming together. I am catching up late, really late, I somehow missed all this going down. I guess I am caught up in my life but now I feel kinda silly. I wish I could have helped however we are struggling here too. I hope only for a short time but we will see.

    Anyway, awesome choices! You are so clever with planning and budgeting, I could learn a thing or two, ok, I WILL learn!
    Furniture too, Your place is looing pretty darn cute….just like you and your rocking secret agent shades;-)

  • Camels & Chocolate

    I have the same camera, and I absolutely love it! I’ve shot plenty of magazine features with it, too, so I think it’s definitely “professional” enough to do all you need with it. Congrats on the new stuff–you deserve it!

  • Clisty

    I am SO glad you got yourself a camera! You’ve been talking about wanting one in a few posts, so yahoo for you!