My Other Blog

In the past couple of months Sean and I have seriously begun looking at a new house. Our current one has been great to us, but with three growing children, it is simply too small. We found a house that we would love to own, but are not in a position financially that we can afford to take on such a large mortgage payment.

I've decided to become serious about saving money for a downpayment and get rid of my debts. It's going to be a long, hard road, and I need to meticulously track my progress and hold myself accountable in order to reach my debt free goal. I'd also really like to be able to deposit more money into my children's 529 accounts, and have an emergency fund for our family.

In order to reach these goals, I've been doing a lot of research the past few weeks. I've visited several other debt free blogs and have been inspired by the writers. I've also visited many frugal living blogs, being inspired there as well. I've looked into various ways to earn money online, through Get Paid To sites, surveys, and ads.

I don't want to bog this blog down with a bunch of financial stuff, so I've started a separate blog, solely for debt/frugal living purposes. On that blog I plan on documenting my income, from my job, GPT sites, surveys, and ads. I also plan on posting my current debts, using Networth IQ.

I am hoping this will keep me motivated and accountable. I've already started to "trim the fat" off my expenses by not going out to lunch every day that I am at work. It's hard! I went this whole week though, bringing in my lunch. Yay for me!

If you're interested in following me on my quest to become debt free, you can find me here.

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Photography Basics: Understanding White Balance

Light Colour Temperature

The reason that pictures turn out with a yellow/orange cast in incandescent (tungsten) lighting and bluish in fluorescent lighting is because light has a colour temperature. A low colour temperature shifts light toward the red; a high colour temperature shifts light toward the blue. Different light sources emit light at different colour temperatures, and thus the colour cast.

By using an orange or blue filter, we absorb the orange and blue light to correct for the "imbalance" -- the net effect is a shift in the colour temperature.

In digital photography, we can simply tell the image sensor to do that colour shift for us. But how do we know in which direction of the colour temperature to shift, and by how much?

Manual White Balance

This is where the concept of "White Balance" comes in. If we can tell the camera which object in the room is white and supposed to come out white in the picture, the camera can calculate the difference between the current colour temperature of that object and the correct colour temperature of a white object. And then shift all colours by that difference.
Most advanced digital cameras therefore provide the feature to manually set the white balance. By pointing the camera at a white or gray card (angled so that it is reflecting light from the room) as a neutral reference, filling the screen completely with it, then pressing the White Balance button (or set it in the menu), the camera does its WB calculation. From then on, any picture taken will have its colour temperature shifted appropriately. It's quite simple, really, and you should not be afraid to try it out and see your indoors pictures improve considerably (assuming there is enough light for correct exposure). [A "neutral" gray is 18% gray and will reflect all colors equally.] Caution: - Ensure the card is not in shadows, but illuminated by the artificial light in the room - If you are bouncing light off the walls, ensure the card is reflecting the bounced light - Beware of mixing artificial lights -- in this case, you might want to use RAW and adjust in post processing for each light - Beware of fluorescent light: since fluorescent light does not contain all the spectrum of light, you may obtain unexpected results

Preset White Balance

To help us in those special situations without having to go through the trouble of manually setting the white balance everytime, cameras provide preset WB settings such as, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Sunny, etc. Using preset WB can improve on a picture, especially under indoors lighting.

Auto White Balance

Since the days of the Kodak Brownie cameras, manufacturers have tried to automate everything for us. Hence, today's digital cameras also all sport an Auto White Balance (AWB) function. Depending on the camera brand, some AWB works better than others. On the whole, though, AWB works very well in sunny and cloudy outdoors, and fine for most indoors situations (a little orange or bluish cast does sometimes contribute to the mood of the picture anyway, e.g. the warm orangle glow of a candle).

Set your digital camera to AWB and take pictures under tungsten, fluorescent, and mixed lighting (i.e. tungsten or fluorescent, plus natural light coming through the window), and see if the results are OK. If they are, you can just use AWB.


Pictures of snow scenes typically reproduce the snow not as white but with a bluish tinge. Sometimes, the blue adds to the mood of the picture, but at other times you may want to remove the blue.

If your digital camera allows custom WB, then set the White to the snow and the blue should disappear.

Special Effects

Once you've selected a WB setting, just remember to reset this white balance setting when you head back outdoors into natural light, or you may end up with some strange, out of this world, colours.

In fact, by dialing in a WB setting inappropriate for the lighting situation allows us to create some special effects.

Let's say you are taking a picture outdoors and you want to make the light warmer, perhaps creating a late evening, sunset effect. To do that, we dial in a Fluorescent WB, in effect telling the camera that the light is too cool. The camera responds by shifting every colour toward the warm, red values. Dial in a Tungsten WB, and the camera shifts all colours toward the cool, blue values. Lots of trial and error recommended here.

RAW File Format

A discussion in WB would not be complete without a mention of the RAW file format available in many advanced digital cameras. When you save an image in RAW file format, you are saving it the way the image sensor sees it -- without applying any adjustments (including white balance) to it. In fact, the camera ignores any WB setting you dial in.

Later, in an image editing software with the appropriate RAW plug-in, you can convert the RAW image to JPEG, and apply any colour temperature shift. Undo your change and try again, ad infinitum, in as fine an increment as you wish, until you obtain perfect colour balance.

Some professional photographers always use RAW file format. Saving in RAW file format comes at a price because it takes so much longer to save a RAW image that it might not be practical in many picture taking situations. Professional dSLRs (and some prosumer models) have internal buffers that allow RAW images to be taken one after the other in quite rapid succession without having to wait for the saving of one image to be completed before you can take the next picture.

If you are taking landscapes, and it's early in the morning or late in the evening, or you are not too sure of which WB setting to use, try it in RAW.

A few digital cameras even allow you to save an image in both RAW and JPEG simultaneously, though time to write to memory card is proportionally increased.


For most of us, Auto WB is fine and does a pretty good job in diverse situations, outdoors and indoors.

For those occasions when you are not happy with the colour cast of your picture, choose one of the preset WB settings.

If this still does not give you what you want, consider manually setting the white balance by using a white card or sheet of paper (or white T-Shirt, etc.).

And, for ultimate control over white balance, consider shooting in RAW file format, and adjust in post-processing.

Previous topics: Shooting modes, Photography terms defined
Next topic: Understanding Aperture

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This tutorial provided by: Photoxels

Go Green Tip of the Week #4

Kitchen Composting

* The average household produces more than 200 lbs of kitchen waste every year. Keep biodegradable materials out of your trash and garbage disposal, and give local landfills and water treatment plants a break.
* Compost recycles nutrients and organic matter, providing food for plants and the microorganisms that keep soil healthy. It also improves the water-retaining capacity of soil, so you can water less often.
* Most of what passes through your kitchen is compostable, including: vegetable scraps, fruit peelings, bread and cereals, grains and pasta, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, and even crushed eggshells. (Leave out animal-based and oily foods, which can cause odors and attract pests).

Wanna Try?

Tip brought to you by IdealBite

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Today my first born daughter turns 9 years old. It's hard to believe she's gone from being a little baby to a beautiful young girl. Each year her birthday is a little bit harder for me and this one is no exception.

Remembering back to the day she was born so much has changed. Not only has Rachel gone from a tiny, helpless, little baby to an intelligent, athletic, third grader, but I've changed as well.

When she was born I had just turned 21 years old. I had only known her dad for a couple of months before I found out that I was pregnant and the young age of 20. We knew right away that termination was not an option and that we would work it out, even though we barely knew each other and were very young.

My pregnancy with her was absolutely horrible. I had morning sickness, which is a terrible name for it because it lasted 24 hours a day. The doctor and nurses told me that once I got past the first trimester, the nausea would subside. But it didn't. I stopped taking the prenatal vitamins, which the doctor blamed for my continued nausea. I ate Flinstone vitamins instead.

When the nausea still didn't go away well into my second trimester I was prescribed Zofran, which I never took because I was too afraid of any risks. I suffered through the vomiting no matter what I ate or drank, including a glass of water. I lost 15 pounds those first 6 months.

I finally began to feel a little better once the third trimester was well under way. I was actually able to gain the 15 pounds I had lost back, plus 12 more! Around week 37 or so the doctor checked the position of the baby, she was breech! That had been my greatest fear, that I would have to have a c-section, so when the doctor said that he could try to turn the baby, I was all for it!

After my appointment I headed over to the maternity ward at the hospital where the version would take place. I was hooked to the monitor and had an IV, then I was given Terbutaline to help relax the uterus. The doctor then attempted to make the baby "flip" or "somersault" into the head down position. However, the medication had made my heart race and all the pressure on my stomach from the doctor pushing on it made me extremely nauseauted and I vomitted. The version was ended and a c-section was scheduled for the following Thursday at 8am. My worst fears had come true.

The morning of May 6, 1999 the sky was bright pink when we left our apartment for the hospital at 6am. Sean said, "It must be a girl!" ( We had chosen not to find out.) Once at the hospital I was prepped for surgery and wheeled down into the operating room. The doctor made the first incision then he called for Sean to come in. He was to sit next to my head, but stood instead. Once he saw all the blood he turned pale as a ghost and sat down. At 8:19am, Rachel was born! She weighed 6 lbs. 13 oz, 20 inches long. The baldest, most beautiful baby girl I ever could have wished for. The pediatrician quickly let me take a look at her before she was wheeled to the nursery.

I had to stay down in the recovery room while Sean went upstairs with our new baby girl. Shortly thereafter he returned downstairs with Polaroid pictures to show me. I didn't get to hold her or see her again until hours later. I'll never forget that first moment when she was finally placed in my arms. All the nausea and fear and happiness and love just overtook me. The first couple of days are a blur to me. I think it's a combination of all the pain medications, and constant flow of people visiting, and a my first child.

I finally got to leave the hospital when Rachel was 3 days old, on Mother's Day 1999. It was the best Mother's Day present I could ever have asked for.

And here I am, 9 years later. Now I have 3 children, each one born by the dreaded c-section. In the end, it doesn't matter HOW they got here, just that they are all healthy. It's taken me a long time to accept that. We no longer live in a one bedroom apartment without any windows, now we have a house of our own. I not only graduated from college, but went on to complete my Master's degree as well. So much has changed in the last nine years, but one thing has remained constant, and that is the love I have for my first born child.

Impeccable Rib Rub

With Mother's Day just around the corner and spring in full swing, it is time to have a good ol' fashioned cookout! I have a recipe for the most impeccable rib rub you have ever tasted! Are your taste buds ready? Here we go!

Ingredients necessary:

1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika

Apple cider vinegar
brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sugar

Mix together the rub ingredients in a bowl, then rub all over the ribs.
Place ribs in an oven safe pan and pour about 2-3 cups apple cider (apple juice works just fine too) in the bottom of the pan. Bake in the oven for about 1.5 hours (90 min.) at 250 degrees.

While the ribs are baking, make the glaze as follows; combine apple cider (or juice) with apple cider vinegar, applesauce, brown sugar, garlic, salt, and sugar. I tend to just eyeball all this stuff based on consistency. Place on stove on low heat.

Once the ribs are baked they are ready for the grill, use a basting brush to brush on the glaze while grilling.


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