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Staycation with Friends

Just two and a half weeks after Jake and I returned from Europe, a couple of our best friends visited for two weeks. If you follow me on Instagram and have watched my recent Instagram stories, you may have suspected that my late June/early July schedule wasn’t very typical. As much as I love eating out for lunch and dinner and enjoying daily Milwaukee outings and nightly concerts, my day to day life is just a little bit different.

I spent those entire two and a half weeks between Europe and our friends visiting pushing ahead on blog posts and work projects as well as working on a bunch of random tasks around the house. I had every intention to set aside an hour or so in the mornings while they were here to do blog social media promotion and a little other work. I absolutely did not do that once and don’t regret it at all. I had enough content scheduled that my numbers stayed pretty steady. And I actually got some real relaxation time at home, which basically never happens.

Remember how Jake and I went to Montana to visit friends last summer? The same friends visited us in southeast WI this summer. Staying with friends can be a great way to take a vacation. Since we got married, in addition to the Montana trip, Jake and I have taken several other trips in cities where we have good friends. You get to see a new area of the country (or if you’re really lucky and have friends living abroad, a new area of the world) while saving money and enjoying a little more relaxed vacation environment. Waking up in someone’s house and having home cooked meals for at least part of the trip is really nice.

Even though Jake and I have taken several of these friend visiting trips, we hadn’t hosted one ourselves. Friends have visited us before, of course, but only ever for a few days at a time. When I visit friends and family, I’m always a little worried that they won’t really want to do tourist stuff. I don’t know why because I love taking people to iconic Milwaukee destinations. You don’t ever have to twist my arm to visit the Milwaukee Art Museum or take a brewery tour. Whether you’re hosting friends or visiting friends, don’t be afraid to suggest tourist locations.

Paul Simon at Summerfest June 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Our friends planned their trip over Summerfest. The first full day they were here, they saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (That night we were hosting a game night for some other friends who were in town.) It stormed like crazy, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers still put on a great show, and they had a lot of fun (even though one of them had to throw out their shoes afterward). We all met up on the first Friday of Summerfest for Paul Simon, which was amazing. I have been a huge Paul Simon fan my entire life but had never seen him live. It was truly a bucket list experience. Simon sounds better than ever, and he travels with an outstanding band.

We returned to Summerfest on the 4th of July. We were there primarily to see Third Eye Blind, but we arrived early enough to catch a few other acts. We watched ComedySportz, which is always fun. Then the opening band for Third Eye Blind was Common Deer. I had never heard of Common Deer, but they are so fantastic. I have. not. stopped. listening to Common Deer since. I’m sure it’s shocking that I love an indie rock band with two electric string instruments, keyboards, and male-female vocal pairings. They’re sort of a cross between my two favorite local bands, I’m Not a Pilot and Parallel, with a little brighter pop/rock sound like Paramore or Chvrches. Please go check out this band.

Third Eye Blind at Summerfest 7.4.17 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Third Eye Blind was fantastic as well. They’re touring this summer to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first self-titled album. (Does that make you feel old, too? Yeah…) As part of the show, they played the first seven tracks of the self-titled album in order. Hello, 90s heaven. It was unreal. The rest of the show was great, too. We had seen Third Eye Blind at Summerfest a couple years ago. It was okay but not a great show, which I’m not going to lie, was disappointing. This show was 10 times better.

Brewers Game 7.5.17 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Brewers Game 7.5.17 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

During the staycation, we also made it to a Brewers game and to the Milwaukee County Zoo for Body Worlds Animal Inside Out. When we were arriving for the Brewers game, it was raining and the roof was closed. Early into the game, the front passed, and we got to watch the roof open again. It may or may not been one of the highlights of the evening.

SC Johnson Tour, Racine, WI | http://www.roseclearfield.com

SC Johnson Tour, Racine, WI | http://www.roseclearfield.com

SC Johnson Tour, Racine, WI | http://www.roseclearfield.com

SC Johnson Tour, Racine, WI | http://www.roseclearfield.com

SC Johnson Tour, Racine, WI | http://www.roseclearfield.com

SC Johnson Tour, Racine, WI | http://www.roseclearfield.com

The last full day with us (they stayed at a hotel in Milwaukee the first few and last few days of the trip), Jake had to work. The three of us did the SC Johnson Tour. I didn’t take a ton of pictures during their visit, which included the Johnson tour, because interior photos aren’t allowed. But the few photos I’m sharing here of the Johnson campus are DSLR shots. The other pictures I’ve included in this post are all phone snaps.

Braise July 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

(Don’t you love how one of the kids is giving himself bunny ears?)

Of course, any trip to Milwaukee has to feature stops at a lot of great restaurants. Our friends had a large list of restaurants they wanted to eat at during the trip. I’m not sure if we hit everything on it, but we made it to quite a few fabulous eateries. Throughout the couple of weeks they were here, we ate at Bel-Air Cantina, Braise, Pegasus, Gilles, the Milwaukee Public Market, Sebastians, Reefpoint Brewhouse, Sticky Rice, and the Rumpus Room.

Finally, one of the best parts of this staycation was getting to do basically nothing. Sleeping in. Spending two hours drinking coffee and eating breakfast. Relaxing and reading in the afternoon. Taking walks in our neighborhood. Catching up on everything that’s happened this past year. We are so fortunate to have such great friends.

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June: What I Read.

June: What I Read | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I’ve been having so much fun sharing my recent reads that I’m continuing the series! I’m excited to share my June reads with you today.

Note: I know that I’m way behind on my reading updates. And I know that I never published a June goals update. I may end up writing some combined reading and goals updates later this summer.

In June, I listened to:

  • Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande. Better is the third Atul Gawande book I’ve read. I’ve really enjoyed all of them. Gawande is a fantastic writer who blends medical and psychology knowledge and reference with personal narrative seamlessly, making for a great read every time. If Gawande’s style appeals to you, but you’re looking for a less medically-oriented book, I recommend The Checklist Manifesto.

 

  • Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. I actually listened to most of Blood, Bones, and Butter back in the spring but didn’t quite finish it before my library deadline. I put the book on my to-read list after watching Hamilton’s stint on season 4 of The Mind of a Chef. Watch The Mind of a Chef stint and skip the book. Hamilton is a truly mediocre writer without one significant personal or professional story to share. You’ll get a lot more out of and think better of her watching the TV segment.

 

  • I Remember Me by Carl Reiner. I think the world of Carl Reiner and his work. However, I just couldn’t get into this book. The stories are so random. There isn’t any logical order to the book, which makes the timeline confusing as well.

 

  • The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss. I know most people either love or hate Timothy Ferris, and there isn’t much in between. I can see how he comes off as a douche. However, I think it’s important to take this type of book with a grain of salt. You can get some great tips to improve your productivity, gain more flexibility at work, and ultimately, live a more fulfilling life without doing everything Ferriss does. The book did inspire me to turn of all my phone notifications except phone calls and text messages, which has been a game changer.

 

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I understand that How to Win Friends and Influence People was groundbreaking for its time. I’m a bit surprised no one has ever done an updated version. While many of the principles still stand true, there are numerous examples that are really outdated. Like when you’re watching Mad Men and you know that’s what someone really would have said or done in the 1960s workplace, and you’re still like, really? It’s cringworthy at times. There is a newer version for the digital age, which I haven’t read but have to imagine addresses this issue. I also think I would get more out of How to Win Friends and Influence People as part of a class where you could discuss it and get additional materials, examples, etc. alongside it.

 

  • Wildflower by Drew Barrymore. Drew Barrymore is so stinking cute. You already knew that, right? She shares a lot of personal stories about her wild youth, early dating years, etc. that would normally make me roll my eyes. But with Drew, it’s somehow charming. I love how she puts it all out there and doesn’t apologize for or try to cover up any aspect of her past, her passions, or her career.

 

  • I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short. I Must Say is one of the best books I’ve read lately, audio or otherwise. It’s well-written. It’s funny (laugh out loud while you’re driving funny). It’s touching. It includes amazing celebrity stories. It includes behind the scenes stories about a wide range of TV shows and movies. His personal stories are David Sedaris-esque, and I mean that in the best way possible. Basically, I Must Say is everything you want (but so rarely get) in a celebrity memoir. It greatly increased my respect for Martin Short.

 

  • The 1997 Masters: My Story by Tiger Woods. The 1997 Masters is a classic sports narrative that stands up to the greats like John Feinstein. Woods does a good job blending personal narrative into his golf story to give it background and depth without wallowing in unrelated content. His story of winning the 1997 Masters by such a wide, still currently unbeaten margin, remains incredible. It’s interesting to hear about it from his perspective.

 

I’m currently listening to Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks. I added it to my to-read list after reading Waking the Spirit earlier this year. It’s a little psychology/medical heavy, which makes it a bit dry at times, but it’s interesting.

In June, I read:

  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. A light chick lit read always seems like a great choice for a vacation. Nine times out of 10, I regret devoting trip time to these type of books. The Hating Game was no exception. It’s not well-written. The characters aren’t developed. Most of the plot is completely unbelievable. People understand books like The Hating Game are a total fantasy, right? I know that’s the appeal for many people, but it’s just too ridiculous for me. Anyway, The Hating Game is definitely one to skip.

 

  • Crossed by Allie Condie. In stark comparison, Crossed is great. Obviously, it’s pretty different from Matched and leaves a lot unresolved. But I thought it was just as good. I’m looking forward to finishing the triology, most likely later this summer.

I’m currently reading Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout. If you’ve been keeping up with my recent reads posts, you may remember that I was currently reading Fer-de-Lance when I wrote my May reads post. And now it’s mid-July. Yeah… #fail I started it on the plane back from Europe and have been reading bits here and there since then. But I still haven’t quite finished the book. It’s just been easier to fit in audio books while cleaning the house for our friends visiting, driving to and from Milwaukee, and getting outside for walks as much as possible.

What have you been reading lately?

I’m always looking for new recommendations!

Additional reading posts:

My 2016 Reading List + Tips for Reading More Books | http://www.roseclearfield.com

My 2016 Reading List + Tips for Reading More Books

April 2017 Reads | http://www.roseclearfield.com

April: What I Read.

May 2017 Reads | http://www.roseclearfield.com

May: What I Read.

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How to Take Great Pictures in Low Light Without a Flash | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Photography lighting conditions aren’t always ideal. From a dimly lit church to a dark night club, sometimes you won’t have fantastic lighting for your photos. In certain situations, a flash is a great solution. Other times, a flash isn’t an option. Not all locations or environments allow for a flash, such as a museum or a dance recital. There may also be instances where you want to shoot in low light and don’t have a flash with you. Instead of skipping out on taking pictures or settling for low-quality, grainy images, learn how to take great pictures in low light without a flash.

How to Take Great Pictures in Low Light Without a Flash | http://www.roseclearfield.com

For DSLR photographers, I can’t recommend enough picking up a prime lens to improve your low light photography game. I know I sound like a broken record talking about the Canon 50mm f/1.8. But it is such a fantastic little lens. I have actually shot so much with this lens over the past year that I feel more comfortable shooting with prime lens than zoom lens right now. Shooting with a kit lens or an average quality zoom lens in low light is frustrating, at best. You can buy one or two prime lenses for half the cost or less of a high-quality zoom lens with comparable low light shooting capacity.

How to Take Great Pictures in Low Light Without a Flash | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Once you’re equipped with a prime lens, start learning how to adjust your settings to maximize the potential of a prime. You will be able to produce better low light images with your prime lens, even on auto mode. But you’ll tap into the full potential of the lens when you switch to aperture priority or manual mode. In the full article, I go into more detail about which settings to adjust with recommended guidelines for each setting.

How to Take Great Pictures in Low Light Without a Flash | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I’m sharing my full how to take great pictures in low light without a flash post on the Photorec TV blog this week. From brand new DSLR shooters with entry-level cameras to professional photographers, I share tips for photographers of all levels.

Are you interested in joining a fantastic photography community? Do you want to learn new photography skills and get support, feedback, and critique on your images? Consider joining the PhotoRec support group today!

How to Take Great Pictures in Low Light Without a Flash | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Do you have more tips for how to take great pictures in low light without a flash?

Share them here or on the PhotoRec TV blog!

More PhotoRec TV posts:

Gearing Up for Summer Photography | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Gearing Up for Summer Photography

10 Tips for Better Beach Photography | http://www.roseclearfield.com

10 Tips for Better Beach Photography

How to Maximize the Potential of Your Kit Lens | http://www.roseclearfield.com

How to Maximize the Potential of Your Kit Lens

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Braces as an Adult: Month 4

Braces as an Adult: Month 4 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Tomorrow marks four months of braces. When I wrote my initial post about braces after month 1, I said that I would put together at least a few more posts about this process. I’m not going to share monthly updates, details about exactly what I’m getting fixed, or lots of before/after photos. But I am putting together periodic updates, talking about what this process is really like as an adult.

I shared more about why I need braces and why I decided to get braces at this point in my life in my initial post. The short of it is that I’ve put off getting braces since HS. I finally took the plunge because I need a night guard and can’t imagine wearing one with the way my teeth fit together right now. At this point in my life, time, budget, and general life circumstances (i.e. not planning to move in the foreseeable future) allow for braces, so I went for it.

The last couple of adjustments have been much less painful than the first few adjustments.

The first adjustment I had after getting my braces on was rough because I’d had a couple of teeth pulled (to make more room for my top teeth) two weeks before the adjustment. I was just getting to a point where eating was getting better, and my teeth didn’t hurt all the time, and then I was back to square one again.

The last couple of adjustments have been better. The timing has also worked out well, which has been nice. I had an adjustment about two weeks before the cruise, and then I had an adjustment a few days after we got back. Both of these adjustments set me back temporarily about a day, which is a significant improvement. Now I’m set until early August, so I won’t have to deal with an adjustment while we have friends in town.

Brown Butter Garden Vegetable Pasta Skillet How Sweet Eats | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I can eat most foods now, as long as I cut them into small pieces.

With a few exceptions, I’m able to eat most foods now, as long as I cut them up into small pieces. There have been a few times that I haven’t had time/proper silverware to cut up my food, namely eating sandwiches while on vacation. So I would just tear it up with my hands, which isn’t ideal. But it would allow me to eat the food that was readily available without killing my teeth.

Generally, I am able to cut up my food. So I am, even when it looks ridiculous, like when I’m eating tacos, or when it looks like I’m being super cautious while feeding a toddler, like when I’m eating steak. But it’s exciting to be able to eat a wider range of food again.

I’m still steering clear of raw carrots and celery, any other raw fruits and vegetables that aren’t cut up small (i.e. apple slices are okay, but biting into a whole apple isn’t okay) whole nuts (small pieces on a salad are okay), corn on the cob, pretzels, cereal, granola, granola bars, kettle chips, tortilla chips, and anything sticky (i.e. caramels, hard candy, dried fruit). I think that popcorn would be okay, as long as it’s not caramel corn, but I haven’t attempted it yet.

Water with Ice | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I haven’t been as thirsty, but I think it’s because I’m drinking more water now that it’s summer.

In my initial braces post, I mentioned that having braces has made me thirstier than usual. I’ve never read or heard anything about thirst as a side effect, but it’s been real for me. The past month or so, it’s been better. I do drink more water in warmer weather, which is helping. I think partly it’s just an adjustment process, too.

Floss | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I’m still missing flossing and am generally paranoid about the well-being of my teeth.

Flossing has played a huge role for me in staying cavity-free for the past decade. I’m doing my best to brush more often than usual (at least one more brushing per day and whenever possible, after meals) and clean in between my teeth as needed. But I’m still paranoid that I’m going to finish my stint with braces and have cavities. I have an appointment with my dentist for my regular semi-annual cleaning in a week and am curious to get their opinion on how my teeth are doing thus far.

I’m seeing real progress, which is extremely encouraging.

I was able to see real progress after just a month, which was encouraging, especially during the early days with a lot of pain and difficulty eating. Now that I have two fewer top teeth, my other top teeth have so much more space and are really starting to spread out. Orthodontic adjustment appointments are…brief, so there isn’t a lot of feedback, much less general discussion about how things are going. But I’ve met all my targets thus far, and overall, it seems like they’ve been pleased with the progress with my teeth, how I’ve been taking care of the braces, etc.

I’m sort of playing it by ear with these updates and can’t promise that I’ll have another one in exactly three months at month 7. But I’ll plan to write another update in early fall, if not sooner.

To those who are sticking with me, reading these lengthy updates about my experience with braces as an adult, thank you. If you have personal experience with braces as an adult, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

 

First Month with Braces as an Adult | http://www.roseclearfield.com

My First Month with Braces as an Adult

 

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ThinkTank SubUrban Disguise 10 Review

ThinkTank SubUrban Disguise - My Full Review | http://www.roseclearfield.com

[Disclaimer: I purchased the ThinkTank SubUrban Disguise 10 with my own money. ThinkTank did not reimburse me or endorse me to write this post. I do receive a small commission if you use one of my links to purchase ThinkTank gear. There are a few Amazon affiliate links in this post as well. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.]

Mediterranean Cruise 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I recently purchased the ThinkTank SubUrban Disguise 10 for our Mediterranean cruise. (Cruise posts! Highlights | general travel tips | camera gear) Back in May, I shared the unboxing and my initial thoughts about this bag. In that post, you can also read about the other camera bags I own and why I decided to buy a new bag for this trip. Now that I’m back from the Mediterranean, I’m sharing a full review of the ThinkTank SubUrban Disguise 10.

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