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.


  • Abbey

    I think they are all fantastic buys! Esp. since they are all things you want!

    Can’t wait to see the place once everything is in!

    PS The Camera was a GREAT BUY!!

  • margalit

    Nix the red chair and get an office chair with padding for your bum and decent lumbar support. You’re likely to spend hours in that chair working and it isn’t ergonomically designed so you’ll end up with an aching bum and back.

  • n-onymous

    For the drawing table, I’d go with natural/wood. In our house, furniture that is made of wood has a 95% chance of becoming art — at some point, we paint it. I’m clearly biased, but what better fate for a drawing table than for it to become a work of art in itself?

    We also have a (black) sectional couch from the TYLÖSAND series ( It -is- easy to clean. It’s also comfortable, but we do have to rotate the cushions to keep them perky. And this might be an upside, or a downside, depending: you cannot safely stand on the back of the couch to reach the top of a bookshelf. Or the wall next to the ceiling. Guess that would be less of a problem if you’re tall or can move the lounge out of the way, but we can’t and I’m short.

  • Meemo

    I don’t think anyone has room to criticize how you spend the money. It’s not like we donated so that you could pay your electric bill. Anything that will help your business is great and I imagine that your new camera will help tremendously. So, just go with it and enjoy. Even though I only had a small part in it, I feel like a fairy Godmother for being able to make a couple of your wishes come true.

  • LaurenC

    Hey B.
    My part in this was only tiny, but I love seeing what you are buying.
    Camera = WIN! The simple fact that you get to have your drawing table plus a camera and even more is amazing.
    There will be no bashing of heads because the important part is that you are buying things you need and want and things that will help you work.
    Miss you my friend….enjoy the shopping.

  • JennyBean

    I think you’ve made some excellent choices here. I do agree with Margalit tho…I also LOVE the style of the chair but in the long run it looks like it might hurt your back. Otherwise, I’m with you 100% :)

  • leslie

    great camera! and i’m pretty sure you won’t regret it!!

    i can totally recommend the ekby shelving! we moved and had to redo the kitchen in our new place and i used the ekby-thingies for storage- so great and spacy (is that a word?)! and i’, not a huge fan of these units….i prefer shelves…

    it’s so nice that people were so gracious to help you out and it’s even better to see how excited you are about it! that’s what giving is all about, right? enjoying the happy faces!

    have fun deciding and buying (of course:)

  • Melissa

    I think it’s great that you bought yourself a camera! However, Anything you buy is great because it’s YOUR money. Most of us are just glad to be able to help even if it was just a small amount.

  • DeeJay

    My way of thinking is that once you give somebody money…you are not allowed to have an opinion on what they purchase with it. My grandmother gave me $20 for my birthday back in 1979 and I bought my family Christmas gifts with it. Then she proceeded to fuss at me for doing such. My mom came to my rescue by saying to her that if she gave me the money then it was my decision how to spend it. Ever since I have viewed it all the same. No guilt, my friend. Enjoy the $ and have fun!

    LOVE your picks. Ordered myself a sewing table and a chair from IKEA on Sunday. Had to pay $33 shipping to get it here but that’s cheaper than traveling to Frisco, TX to pick it up. Will share pics of it when I get it all together.

  • Beth

    Dear B,
    I think anything you buy will be put to great use! You have a level head and needs and wants….but your choices are yours! It is exciting to see what happens with just a little bit from each of us…bundled into something large and usefull. My tiny share can go for ANYTHING you feel like buying! just my opinion here!!!
    happy new year to you and bug!

  • Laura

    Great stuff. I have never sat in the chair you show, but I’d have to say, based on the picture, that it doesn’t look like it would be something to sit in for long periods of time. Of course, sometimes looks are deceiving, so you should definitely try it out in the store. We’ve all made asthetic purchases only to find out that they aren’t the most comfortable (furniture, clothes, shoes). I hope you try it out and it feels great!

    Thanks for being so open on your blog during this difficult time of yours. We’re all rooting for you out here in the blogosphere!


  • Golden

    I love the chair….but. Isn’t that a tall chair, meaning not one where you feet will sit on the floor to fit the taller height of the desk? Like a drafting chair? If it is, there isn’t any place for your dangling feet to rest, unless they reach to rest on the legs on the chair. Love the color though.

    And you didn’t have a real camera? I’m glad it was at the top of your list. Every blogger/mama/artist needs a real camera.

  • Amanda

    I think it all looks great. The camera looks awesome and I can totally relate as a good camera is on my “list” too.

    The donations were to give you a little kick start and I think you are planning on spending it wisely. You are making your new space a home, it will look great!

  • Mrs. Wilson

    1. Your mug is NOT ugly. I think you’re pretty beautiful.

    2. I’m SO HAPPY you got a camera! I know you’ve been making do with the point-and-shoot and even with that your photos are great. You’re going to LOVE it!

    3. I think you’ve chosen some great items. We have that BJURSTA dining room table and we really like it. The leafs are built into it so that we don’t lose them! (I’ve done that before.) I’m looking forward to seeing your “after” photos when you purchase everything!

  • Susie

    Congratulations on all your purchases, both already made and planned! You deserve them all.

    One note about the Jules chair — we bought them for our craft store, and they all split down the middle. The chairs are not uncomfortable at all, but they are splintery where the break is. Of course, we bought the chairs 2 and a half years ago, so it’s entirely possible that Ikea has improved the design since then…They are great looking, though, aren’t they?

    Enjoy setting up your home! It looks awesome so far!

  • mar

    I second – or third – or fourth – the idea about the chair. I have 2 places I do work in my house – one has a better quality chair, but the other has better light. I always walk away from the better lit area with a back or butt ache. Ikea has some better quality chairs in fun colors for just a bit more $$.

    So thrilled you got a camera! I bet it will pay for itself in no time – both in actual $$ and the happiness it will give you! I got myself a Nikon D90 last year and LOVE it.

  • KelleyD

    You should look into a loft bed for Bug. Same idea as a bunk bed, but without the bottom bed. You could probably easily find one that will fit over the shelf. Or if any of your friends and relatives are handy with power tools one could be easily made from lumber from the hardware store. Then the shelf could still be put to use!

  • Ninabi

    All looks very sharp and the camera- wow. You did need it and it will do a good job for you.

    My only advice is sit sit SIT in that red chair before you buy it. At our house, somebody (not me!) bought an office chair at Target. Silly Target- the chairs were up high on display where nobody could try them out and a chair is a chair, right?

    Nope. Somebody in the house got a very bad backache from that chair, gave it to me and bought himself a new, comfy office chair. Both are black, look about the same but there’s a huge difference. I switch when he’s not looking.

    If it’s your workspace and you are spending tons of time there, invest in something that doesn’t create aches and pains!

    Other than that, enjoy the shopping!

  • brenda

    I am going to be the only person to say something negative. Please don’t ever believe that you “should” wait 2 years for a hand me down you don’t really want when there are people thrilled to see you getting what you do want right now. Sheesh. Sometimes you do have to save up and wait to get a cool toy. A camera for work is not a cool toy. Consider the opportunity costs of not having equipment you need when you need it. Think about that regarding lighting, too.

    Everything looks awesome. Have a wonderful time feathering your nest. Just because it’s temporary doesn’t mean it can’t be adjusted to suit your wants and needs. And a home where you and Bug are comfortable is a need, not just a want.

  • sizzle

    I am happy to see you happy! We gave you money to help you decorate your place and that’s what you’re doing. All smart choices (especially the camera!).

  • Carrie

    I think the camera was a very smart buy. Getting something that will help you make more money is perfect! All the other stuff looks good to me as well. I know nothing about the needs of an artist. Nothing on there makes me seethe (and I know exactly what you mean about that. I haven’t donated to any blogger in years and years because of that).

  • Angella

    Yay for the camera! It is a GREAT camera and you NEED it and YAY!!

    Yay for everything else, friend. Exicted for you and love how everybody came together to help you. :)

  • Amy Taylor-Brill

    Excellent and practical ideas. You might prefer OTT lights to the track lighting, even the track lighting looks way more stylish. OTT lights are color-correct and really great at lighting a worktable. I love them and always use them for crafting and art work. Lately they seem to have multiplied at our house as the kids like to use them for school too. Here is a link with the best price I have found: The OTT site has more options, but this is the lamp I am hooked on. Enjoy!

  • Carrie S.

    I, too, have wondered about that chair from Ikea! Now I now to steer clear!

    I think your plan for your office space is wonderful! I think you will so enjoy the layout and space.

  • simply heidi

    i love all your choices – but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t judge. That money was a gift for you to spend in a way that you see fit. Only you can be the judge of that. Personally, I’d love it if you took a little bit to do something just for you (not for your home or business); take a friend out to lunch, get a pedicure, buy a silly novel… Whatever lifts you. It is not selfish to pamper yourself on occasion.
    I hope your Christmas wan peaceful and fun!

  • TexasLea

    Thanks Brenda for sharing how you plan to spend YOUR money and letting us all go on a virtual shopping spree with you! It looks like you are really putting alot of thought into each of your purchases. I’ve very excited for you! I know you will not regret the camera and as far as I’m concerned you partially bought that one for us because I know we will all be blessed with many more great pics in the future!

    I know you are now rethinking the really cool looking red chair and I have to throw in a thought on that lovely couch. Your sweet BLACK doggie likes to sit on your furniture right? Let me just say from experience light colored couches and dark colored dogs are not a nice combination. Dark fur and muddy paw prints from rainy days will have you running for a dark washable slipcover before the new smell even has time to wear off that couch. I second your thought of waiting for a great find at a thrift store or yard sale on the couch. That way you won’t feel so bad when you start to lose the battle of keeping the couch clean. If you are so lucky as to come across something leather I recommend that. A dustbuster and a wet rag will keep it looking great and the dog will still be happy and able to keep it’s cushy place in the house. Otherwise even an ugly but comfy couch will do then you can use your mad skillz to sew up a cover in whatever fabric you want!

    Much love to you and Bug for a bright and happy new year ahead!

  • Yara

    Oh how I love your new camera (see, I really don’t participate in a canon vs nikon battle)
    I’m so glad you got it!
    Also, I can’t imagine anyone hating you.

    I’m not sure how you feel about as is stuff, but I usually check that area of Ikea first & very often find just what I need at a discount.

  • Jamie

    I have that chair at my desk, and I’ll be honest – it’s nice for short periods of time, but if you’re putting in hours, I’d look elsewhere. If I’m on it for anything more than 2 hours, I walk away with numb spots in my upper thighs and hips. Not cool, man. I’d suggest a more support chair.

  • Berit

    Good for you to have bought the camera, like my pre-commentators I think it was a very smart move!

    About the table I think it’s a bit overpriced…I’ve bought a similar one at a thrift store here in Germany for 30 Euros (like 40 dollars). Tables are one of the things where Ikea got a bit expensive, overall I think it’s smarter to buy an old one that is made of real wood, not just chip board, grind it a bit and re-paint it. Then again, the prices in the US might be different from ours :-)

  • Pam

    glad you got the camera!

    and i agree about the office chair, you need a really nice one, this is where you will be setting to work and play, and if you’re anything like the rest of us interweb dewbs (and i know you are) it will probably end up being the only chair you ever really set in at all

    also i think you could find something much cheaper than the cabinet/shelf for your fabric and things, i just say this not bc i think you’re wasting your money but bc i was to get as much bang for your buck as possible, if you can get a cheaper shelf and something else that’s way more fun! i think a couch or bed for bug is also a very worthwhile thing to get, it’s something you can move with you where ever you go that you will always use and need

    just thought i’d throw my two cents in there, i know when i’m having trouble deciding sometimes talking about it makes me realize that i know exactly what i wanted or needed to begin with

    i’m so happy for you! i can’t wait to see you and bug enjoying all your nice new things!

  • Peggi

    I agree with earlier comments – it’s YOUR money. I’m pretty sure the people who donated it didn’t think that you would fling it out the window, and I’m also sure that they feel you SHOULD spend it on something pretty for yourself. Not the red chair, though, lol. I bought a hot pink office chair with minimal padding, and I bought it because it was hot pink. Boy was that a mistake. It’s not hot pink anymore because I had to buy an ugly tan chair pad to put on top of it!

  • Danita

    Can I suggest an external flash for the camera? There are some pretty reasonable Canon ones out there and I think it would be a wise investment in supporting yourself.

    Also, Toby needs to get a grip on reality and realize you are now making decisions for YOU alone and not waiting your life away for his hand me downs.

    I think all the things you picked are FAB but the red chair looks like a sore tailbone waiting to happen. And the table – you could probabaly thrift a real wood one or something retro-mod stylish out in the sticks there.

  • Heather

    I have to chime in and I bought that same style chair at IKEA and it really was truly horrible to sit on. I actually had to get rid of it…it was so bad. I think if you have the money, make an investment in a good office chair. I agree with the others… cit in the chair before you buy it. :-)

  • Victoria

    The only thing I think you’re being silly about is saying that you’re not a professional photographer or that the T2i isn’t a great/pro camera! You’re awesome and so is your new camera!!!!

  • Kimberly

    You are not stupid for not waiting 2 years for someone else’s camera that won’t fit your needs!! (Kim’s brain explodes)

    Otherwise, I love this post and love seeing what you’re getting!

    2011 will be the year of SAJ!

  • Justyna

    This camera is awesome, congrats! I’m a professional photographer and I started out with my Rebel back in my portfolio-building days.

    Much better for what you need than the 5-lb older version. Trust me!

    Congrats! Youre doing awesome.

  • Heidi

    So happy for you! Retail therapy may be just what you needed. If that camera makes you smile, I’d say worth it!

  • Melinda

    I love love love that you bought a camera! I’m excited to see the images you capture. Your first few shots are fantastic. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new workspace when you get it all set up. Glad the money gave you some room to dream. Yay!

  • Katie

    Tell Toby to shove his “stupid camera” comments. haha :D ok so maybe not but in all honesty if that camera makes you happy then who’s to say it’s not ok? It’s hard, very hard to start over and sometimes you just need something to look forward to. We all have your back. :D

  • Molly

    That Canon Rebel is a great camera. Don’t believe me?

    Go visit Tracy Clark’s blog – if I’m not mistaken she still has her Rebel as a backup camera. So do I.

    And your other choices look spot on. Go with your intuition. I bet it never lets you down unless you ignore it.

    Go you!

  • Jenn S

    your new camera looks awesome, and i can’t wait to see more of the awesome photos you’re taking with it! i love the one of the dog…love the tongue sticking out! i want a really good, high quality camera so badly — it’s high on my “want” list, too — hopefully, soon.

  • Kate

    Love your picks Brenda. I have dishware, silverware and rugs from IKEA, and even though they’re cheap they really hold up. All my six-year-old dishes (which I think came in a cube that cost $20 for dinner plates, salad plates and bowls) still look like new. I’ve also noticed cheap silverware sets at places like Ross and TJ Maxx. I think they usually start at Macy’s and wind up at TJ Maxx for 1/4 the price (or less?).

    Best of luck to you! I hope outfitting your home with things you like makes this transition much more comfortable.