Photographing the Milky Way

Photographing the Milky Way. Photo taken by Heshan Fernando of Fernando Fotography, 2014. {}  photo by Heshan Fernando

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands. – Psalm 19:1

Heshan and I took our first Milky Way shot this summer in mid-August at Montauk Point State Park.

He’s been dabbling in astrophotography since learning about it earlier in the summer. Usually there’s a science to shooting photos like these. The Milky Way only shows itself during certain months in our hemisphere, and photos have to be timed around the right level of darkness, cloud cover, and moon rise times. (I didn’t know this before, but the moon actually rises at a different time every night.)

After doing the research, he learned that conditions would be perfect on one day and one day only in August, so he made arrangements for us to drive the three hours east on a Friday night and capture the shot. We got there just as the Milky Way was showing itself, and we could see it as soon as we got out of the car. It was truly incredible – I’ve never seen a night sky like the one we saw that night.

We set up the camera just outside of a parking lot where a few RVs were camping, and it was so dark we couldn’t see more than an inch in front of our faces. You can turn on even small lights when shooting stars, because it disrupts your night vision, so we shot in pitch dark and linked arms to make sure we stayed together. A fox ran out as we were pulling in and a few deer came out to say hi while we were shooting. The ocean was behind us as we took this shot, and we were almost brave enough to walk down the rocky path to the shore until an unidentified animal ran out at us.

I’m not going to lie…. I ran screaming in the other direction. We never made it to the shore.

We did capture this shot though, and it’s pretty high up on my list of photoshoots we’ve done together (Heshan does all the photo work, and I’m there for moral support). We tried again a few times in Maine, but this shot is by far and away my favorite, just because of the perfect conditions and the memory of our first star shoot together.

The light you see here is the result of adjusting the shutter speed and aperture on the camera settings to capture as much light as possible from the stars. Heshan caught it with a Canon 5D Mark III and post processed in Lightroom.




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Affordable Art: Aerial Beach Views

6 aerial beach view art prints for under $35 (large sizes!!). Love these!

Summer may be quickly coming to a close, but a good aerial beach view never goes out of season. Photographers like Massimo Vitali, Gray Malin and Antoine Rose have demonstrated the allure of white sand, blue water, and bright beach umbrellas for some time now, but the hefty price tags aren’t in the cards for me.Cue these super talented photogs with a great eye for a good beach shot and a price tag that can’t be ignored ($31 and under!). And at 23×17 some of these could fill a large Ikea frame and make a huge statement like this!

1. Beach 17×17 | Maite Pons ($30)  /  2. Beach 23×17 | Ingz ($31)  /  3. Beach 23×17 | Ingz ($31)  /  4. Let’s Go Swimming 17×17 | Maite Pons ($30)  /  5.  The Beach 17×17 | Maite Pons ($30)  /  6. Longing 17×17 | Maite Pons ($31)

p.s. As always, none of these are affiliate links.

Stephanie from

For more Affordable Art posts click here.

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You might also like these Affordable Art posts

5 ocean themed art prints for under $25!    5 gorgeous flamingo art prints for $30 or less!


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What Would You Do: Red vs. Blue Front Door?

Gorgeous red front doors and beautiful blue front doors. I love these!

Hope you guys all had a great weekend!

I’m in need of a serious tie-breaker (with myself) for a new front door color and I’m hoping you guys can help. My husband and I bought our house two years ago outside of Washington DC and have been slowly updating it in small phases.

Phase 1 of our exterior updating was landscaping. The yard was very well maintained, but the bushes were too big for the front yard and blocked the wrap around porch. Plus, they were like the local hangout for every spider in Northern Virginia ever. Not even kidding. Ask Kim. Only bonus? Free Halloween decorating.

updating our curb appeal {}

After a year of living in the house we ripped almost everything out and started fresh.  We’ve made even more changes this year that I hope to share soon, but here’s a look at our phase 1 in the meantime. We chose plants that will stay under 3′ to allow the front porch to shine.

re-landscaping for curb appeal {}

This summer we plan to re-do the siding and shutters. The whole thing has been a major unexpected blessing that just goes to show God really does love lavishing us with unexpected and undeserved gifts. Our siding was 30 year old aluminum and I’ve disliked the harvest gold and brown-green color scheme since day two (day one I was too excited to care). I thought for sure we’d be living with it for many years to come, though, so instead we just thanked God every day for a roof over our heads and a floor under our feet. Then a hail storm came and our insurance company told us we were due for some new siding. I seriously got down on my knees and thanked God for the “best birthday present ever!” True story.

I’m leaning toward an ivory color for the siding called Antique Parchment, classic black shutters, and white trim. The porch will be painted white and the light blue-gray floor will stay. But the door is tricky. I need your help.

I’ve been in love with red doors for years. Like bright-look-at-me-red.

 pin from original source BHGBHG

red front door via House BeautifulHouse Beautiful

pin from original source apartment therapyApartment Therapy

 But I’ve recently fallen for blue doors, too.

pin from original source HGTVHGTV

pin from original source BHGBHG

pin from original source hiyapapaya.comhiya papaya

What would you do? Red or blue?


Linking up with Jack of All Trades at A Harvest of Blessing 

Stephanie from

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Affordable Art: Out to Sea

5 ocean themed art prints for under $25!

I love art, but when it comes to buying stuff to hang on my walls my budget is itty-bitty. I’m having so much fun profiling some of my favorite affordable art prints by super talented independent (mostly) artists. I hope you guys are enjoying it, too!

This week I’m sharing sea-themed art for under $25 a piece. I love the ocean and bringing fun ocean-themed accents into the home. I actually have print #4 and have a special spot picked out for print #2.

1. Genesis 18 | Naptime Diaries ($14)  / 2. Synchronized Swimmers | Rifle Paper Co. ($24) / 3. Waiting, Malibu 2012 | Annie Seaton via Minted ($25) / 4. You’re the Only Fish in the Sea for Me | Stay Gold Media ($10) / 5. Out to Sea | Carolyn MacLaren via Minted ($20)

p.s. As always, none of these are affiliate links.

Happy decorating!

For more affordable art posts click here.

Stephanie from

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You might also like these Affordable Art posts:

5 gorgeous flamingo art prints for $30 or less!

Affordable Art: Flamingos


5 gorgeous flamingo art prints for $30 or less!

Flamingos have been trending in the art and design world for a little while now. I’m smitten with these beautiful prints by independent artists, all at great affordable prices ($30 and under!).

1. Stand Tall Darling Flaming Print | LilyandVal via Etsy ($19) / 2. Pink Flamingo Art Print of Original Gouache Watercolor Painting | FrancisMarin via Etsy ($10) / 3. Flamingo No. 2 | The Animal Print Shop ($25) / 4. Flamingo Mingle | Cozamia ($31) / 5. Kissing Flamingo Heart | Avent Creative Studios via ($30)  p.s. As always, none of these are affiliate links.

Or get the look for even less – this batch below is all free printable flamingo art. You can’t beat that!

5 different FREE flamingo art printables

1. It’s By Your Side I Make My Home Flamingo Printable | bre purposed / 2. Vintage printable  / 3. Vintage alphabet clip art  / 4.  Flamingo Printable | Sarah M. Dorsey  / 5. Pretty in Pink Flamingos | Oh So Lovely  p.s. As always, none of these are affiliate links.

And because we’re talking about flamingos – have you seen this video of flamingo chicks at the National Zoo? I still haven’t made it over there yet but this puts it higher on the to-do list.

I have more affordable art posts coming up throughout the next month or so (Tuesdays or Wednesdays), let me know what you think! Happy decorating!

For more affordable art posts click here. Linking up with Jack of All Trades at A Harvest of Blessing.

Stephanie from

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Making over a stinky dresser (pt. 1)

This is going to be a long post for me.

Kim came down for Ladies Weekend 2014 last weekend (even though my husband stuck around so it was more like Ladies Weekend and one guy. Don’t mind David on his man chair!). As always we had big plans and not enough time. But we did manage to fit in two trips to the Habitat for Humanity Restore. The first trips was on Friday afternoon half an hour before closing when I spotted a beautiful full size brass bed. I’m talking old school, antique solid brass, not brass plated, with the most beautiful patina (though y’all know I would’ve taken some Bar Keeper’s Friend to that thing). I had visions of Chloe’s room from The Hunted Interior dancing in my head all night so we went back to ask about the price the next morning.

Making over a stinky dresser {}

The bed was still available, but I spotted this dresser instead.

Making over a stinky dresser {}

Fluted sides. Tapered legs. Solid wood with dovetailed drawers. It was exactly what I’d envisioned for one of our totally empty spare bedrooms / someday nursery. It was listed at $80 but after a quick inspection to make sure all the drawers were working and the dresser didn’t wobble + a text consult with David we offered $70. Sold!

It took three guys to lift it into the back of our car.

Making over a stinky dresser {}

Once we got the dresser home we removed the drawers to help pull it out of the car. Here’s where the plot thickens. At the ReStore the dresser seemed in excellent condition. Sturdy and clean. And we’d reasoned that it must have been recently dropped off since we didn’t see it the night before. But once the drawers were removed it revealed a seriously nasty interior. And a stink. Not just a stink but a stank. Kim and I spent three hours in the beating sun wiping that thing down with soap & vinegar followed by bleach and a serious arm workout.

Making over a stinky dresser {}

We knew it would take three of us to haul the dresser upstairs to the bedrooms and after some major scrubbing it looked shiny and clean so we carried it inside and upstairs and opened a window to let the vinegar smell air out, leaving the drawers in the garage to clean out another day.

On Sunday it became apparent as the vinegar smell dissipated that the dresser still reeked. I wiped it down with two Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, vinegar and bleach again and coated the interior with baking soda per some quick Googling around.

On Monday the dresser still reeked. I freaked. And then things got real. I decided the source of the smell was probably mildew from a storage unit or basement. And I determined that it was probably attached to the porous back board of the dresser. So I measured the length and width of the backboard and had a new backboard cut to size at Home Depot. While I was out I also picked up a biodegradable tarp and a bottle of Concrobium Mold Control spray, a non-bleach, no VOC spray that eliminates and prevents mold. Plus a quart of Kilz Premium (my go to primer for No VOCs, stain blocking, and mildew-resistance), a couple different sanding blocks, and some painting supplies. You see where I’m going with this…

Making over a stinky dresser {}

When David got home we ripped the old backboard off and trashed it. Thankfully it came off easily without damaging the dresser. Then I vacuumed out all of the baking soda with a Dyson and used an attachment to go over all the nooks and crannies now that the back was removed. We moved the dresser on top of our tarp and sprayed down the whole thing with the Concrobium Mold Control spray. I literally coated it from head to toe, let it sit for a couple minutes, wiped off any excess or puddles, and allowed the rest of the dresser to air dry.

You guys, after 3 days this dresser finally doesn’t smell! Like, at all. Between ripping off the backboard and spraying that thing down I think we’ve eliminated all the mildew and mustyness.

So here’s my question for you. During my freak out I’d determined that I was going to rehab this dresser to get rid of the mildew and then paint and seal it to be extra safe. But now that the smell’s gone, what would you do? I’m not usually a wood purist, but this piece was in such good condition that I originally thought I’d keep the cherry finish. But a white dresser could be ultra sweet for a kid’s room, and I usually lean toward painted furniture for children anyway, so now I’m leaning towards painting it.

What would you do?

Stephanie from

Yard Sale Finds

This past month has been super busy as I wrapped up my first school year in my current position and prepped to lead summer camp for the first time ever.  I bought skorts. Does that mean I’m officially a teacher now?

Amidst activity planning and classroom cleaning I managed to squeeze in some early Saturday morning yard sales. Last year was a total bust, but this year has been my best year ever. So I thought I’d share some of my fun scores and groundbreaking* tips – and I’d love to hear about or see your scores, too.

*Not groundbreaking at all. They’re actually pretty tried and true, but I just followed the rules this time.

yard sale finds {}

A pair of matching Chippendale chairs, demilune table, brass tray, and rocking horse = $47. And the horse cost $45.

Did you see that? The horse cost $45! I got everything else for a combined $2! I have plans to redo the chairs, stay tuned.

That leads me to Tip #1: Wear this outfit. And you should probably get close to my friend Nicole, too.

yard sale finds {}

The secret to my success that day? My friend Nicole who’s just all around approachable, creative, and a total yard sale trooper. But I still told her I’m wearing this outfit every time I yard sale from now on.

Tip #2: Get up early! Withdraw cash the night before, set your alarm clock, grab some oatmeal, and stick a Greek yogurt in your purse for later, because the good stuff is gone after breakfast.

I finally started preparing for yard sales the day before so that I could be out the door by 8am, and it paid off big time.

yard sale finds {}

Blue & white flower pot = $2.

yard sale finds {}

Mid century modern brass candle holders = $2 for the set.

Tip #3: Search for yard sales on Craigslist the week before so that you can have a plan of attack. Community yard sales are great because you’ll have a lot of sellers in one area.

yard sale finds {}

Antique nightstand, sofa table, 2 cans of spray paint = $22. I paid $10 for each table and $1 for each can of spray paint. Makeover to come.

yard sale finds {}

The First Christmas pop-up book and Walt Disney Classic Storybook = $2

And that’s that. I scored a couple other fun finds, but these are my favorites.  I plan on giving most of the furniture makeovers this summer, and I’ll be back later to show you what I’m doing with each piece.

What’s your best yard sale score?Any new or tried and true yard sale tips I should know?

Stephanie from