::Going Mirrorless::

Ready for some happy photography bits?  Your wish is my command :)

In January, I sold my Canon Rebel T3i.  I wasn't blogging anymore, and my iPhone 6 seemed fine for quick snapshots.  My big girl camera just sat gathering dust.

Then came our family trip in February to Disney, and I was uber disappointed in our photos....11 iPhones and nary a decent capture of Robyn meeting the princesses, of Walter hugging Tigger, or of the food (always the food). I kinda missed that 'ole Canon, but I knew I prolly wouldn't have wanted to drag it around the parks either.

(taken from hubs' iPhone 6.  Even editing didn't help much, even though Robyn is adorbs)

As I began to consider firing up the blog again, I knew I'd need a new camera, but DREADED another big, bulky, pricey DSLR.  I looked into some top-of-the-line point and shoots, but I really wanted that artistic control you get in a manual setting...fiddling with aperture and shutterspeeds and ISOs and lenses....(don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about?)

Unbeknownst to me, there was a new player on the photography field, and tons of professional shooters are switching over.  That was enough for me to go check 'em out....but there weren't many to check out locally.  In fact I had to hit the only camera shop in town to get my hands on the specific model I was interested in trying. Curious what the heckola I'm talking about?


Meet my new bestie.  A Micro Four Thirds camera.  No mirror in this baby (hence my title of going 'mirrorless', although I'm seriously considering going mirrorless in my house too...*rolling eyes*). Lightweight and tiny, it fits in your hand AND purse....as in, it's the same size as a point and shoot without a lens attached.  See how small it is with out it?

Don't ask me about how it captures the same quality as a DSLR, but it does.  Do a search on youtube and you'll be set for the afternoon. Pour yourself a drink.

Here's the best part.  $300 new.  With a really nice kit lens.  NEW.

After reading about all the brands, I went with the Olympus EPL6 (Penlite).  BTW, Nikon and Canon are slow-comers to the Micro Four Thirds scene due to the popularity of their DSLRs, but many say Micro Four Thirds are the wave of the future and they're missing the boat BIG TIME. Hence their offerings in this segment lag WAY behind the leaders.

You can see in the picture above, it has all the same kind of settings as your standard DSLR, and mine comes with a dandy touch screen you can use to control settings as well as actually shooting.  It tilts out and up and down and I love that I can move it perpendicular to the camera and look down at the screen instead of actually getting on my hands and knees to snap a pic of my cute dog. I hold the camera at his level, and just look down into the screen to frame my shot.

(my thumb is blocking the menu dial and such....)

Ok, here's my favorite part.  Everyone knows the camera body is the least costly part, right?  Well, I learned you can purchase adapters and use old lens from the film days with them....and they'll cost you a SONG.

I bought an adapter and an old 50mm prime lens made for a film camera for less than $45 (ebay, folks).  WHAT?  I know.  Very fun possibilities just opened up for you, right?  Here's the deal, though.  You'll be doing your shots in manual....as in you manually twist the dials on the lens to the proper aperture AND manually focus (see pic below).  Because it's not electronically connected to the camera, you lose those two settings. Shutterspeed and ISO are controlled on the camera body as usual.

 Also, a 50mm lens on a Micro Four Thirds is the rough equivalent to a 25mm lens... so there are some differences in using older lenses.  Be prepared for a bit of a learning curve to using these older lenses. I should also mention that a 'real' Olympus 25mm lens for this camera runs about 500 smackaroos....that's why I looked into adapters and such.  If anyone is interested I can post my favorite youtube tutes that chat about all this stuff :)
I'm still learning how it all works, and re-learning how to use the settings best.  I'm still shooting mostly in auto when dealing with the grandies, so I thought I'd show you some pics I took with it in that auto mode with the kit lens.....with minimal tweaks in picmonkey :)

I give you WALTER WYN--15 months of AWESOME:

And ROBYN ROSE--3 years of making my world go 'round:

So have I convinced you yet to ditch that bulky DSLR?  Or at least go have a look-see at these marvelous little Micro Four Thirds?
Ready for svelte and reasonably priced without giving up the quality?
I know I'll never look back!
As I use it more, I'll post other tips and tricks I'm learning. 



::The Cure for the Sticky Stucks::

Welp, friends, I'm two weeks and 2 posts into my newly reignited interest in blogging.

And I'm in the sticky stucks already.

You know, that place where all the Big Girl Bloggers totally intimidate you, horrible-feeling inner convos in your head go something like "you don't have anything to add to the blogging conversation", and you have so many great ideas that nailing JUST ONE to the white space of the screen is darn near impossible?

Yeah, the sticky stucks.

In my efforts to redesign and re-brand my blog, my brain is overwhelmed with choices...on the one hand, I want to be unique.  On the other hand I want to be trendy.  I can't quite decide whether I like the trends because they're 'me', or because they're trendy.  Sound familiar?

It's also rained here for 40 days and nights.  I'm only exaggerating a tiny bit. The sun appeared yesterday in a strong show of force, which led me to believe that no, it didn't actually decide to leave our milky way permanently.

I'm also still recovering from a couple *clarifying* *cough* health issues (because they sure have helped me clarify why I want to be in a fitter body, whether I'm big or small).  Since last fall, I've had a bulging disk in my lower back causing severe sciatic nerve pain down my hip and thigh.  3 months of physical therapy and meds have helped tremendously, and I'm almost back to normal. Then Monday I had an emergency root canal.  It's gonna take 2 more appointments to clean up the mess.  So my brain has wallowed in a fog of pain meds for months, and I'm ready for the winds of energy to waft back my way.

I'm attempting in small ways to be unconditional in my happiness.  I don't want to need conditions around me to change in order to dial into Who-I-Really-Am.  I believe I'm really an energy source having a physical experience that's helping everything expand and evolve.  When I recognize I'm in the sticky-stucks, it's 'cause I've prolly been spending too much time looking at what-is.  It's ok, really.  You are where you are, yes?  You don't just stick a smiley face sticker over your gas gauge when it's on empty.  You refuel without judging the gauge for doing it's job of being an indicator.

That's what my emotions are....my fuel gauge.  And they're telling me I've been running on empty. Even the health issues I've had are a perfect match to what I'm learning about myself....that I don't pay enough attention to when I'm feeling icky and finding a way to feel better.  Nerve pain WILL get your attention.  Both my care-givers told me I shoulda come to them WAY before the symptoms had gotten so bad.  Ooops.  I'm learning to be sensitive to my feelings in the early stages.....a new way of thinking about how they truly serve me after a fairly typical female existence of putting everyone's else first.

But I'm learning to pivot now....soften the reality a bit.  Turn the boat around so the downstream current takes me back toward where I'm really intending to go....toward adventure, and new vistas, and ease, and all that good stuff.  Just focusing on the pretty parts.

I basically am training myself to see the Happy Bits that surround me even in the midst of a body that hurts, weather that sucks, and a squirrely feeling of inadequacy in the face of so many talented bloggers.

Time for a little bark-basking....sitting on my back porch and tracing the ancient patterns of the tree that provides shade for my grandkids' swing.   Time for a little grandie-time...taking Robyn Rose for lunch and a visit to the Big Box Toy Store.  Time for a little nap....if it's good for kindergarteners, it's A-OK for this 48 year old too.

My body is healing.  It knows what to do.  The weather is temporary.  The earth knows what to do.  Blogging is fun.  I know what to do.

I can always say it better.  I can almost always find a way to feeling a little better about a situation.  I'm a good soother.  I just imagine what I'd say to my kids when they had their feathers ruffled....it's ok.  This too shall pass.  Feeling yukky helps you know what feeling wonderful is.  Let's do something fun.

Distraction is the name of the game.  To move outta the sticky-stucks, think on something happy. Easy peasy.  Again, works for kindergarteners, works for me.

Doing what feels best in a particular moment.  Following the impulse that feels best, then feeling and appreciating the momentum begin to build toward better and better feelings.

So.  I'm still happy to be back to blogging.  And I know I'll find my voice again.  And I know the right readers will find me when the time is right.  It's just how it works in my world.  I know my body can be strong, and I know the sun will come out....tomorrow.  Betch'er bottom dollar.

I had a beautiful blue slipcover made for my couch.  I'm in love with it. Denim in 'Lakeland' from FabricGuru.com.  Stitched up by a local fellow Mary Kay Consultant and Seamstress-Extrordinaire. Because sewing piping does NOT take me to my Happy Place.


Hauling my new slipped sofa to:
Treasure Hunt Thursday
Simple & Sweet Fridays
Share Your Style


::Lessons Learned (a post from 2010)::

EDIT:  I wrote this piece back in February of 2010, and realized I never published it.  As I'm going thru old posts and relabeling each, I have come across a few like this.  So, here ya go, a post-from-the-past that still holds true...
Learning another lesson.  The hard way.  Is there any other way?

One of my all time favorite bloggers is Donna of Funky Junk Interiors.  She is spunky, talented, extremely generous, and inspiring.  I've actually featured her before HERE.  Anyway, she is schooled her readers awhile back on how to avoid doing things the hard way when it comes to decorating.  HERE is the post.....go read it, I'll wait.

Amazing, yes?  Told ya.

One of the big take-aways for me was her 'function first' line item.  I used to do this all the time.  We had no money, there was no craigslist, and no time....I was home all day homeschooling 6 littles.  I was forced to use what I had, and it was generally a pretty eclectic mix of hand-me-downs.  Thankfully those hand-me-downs came from folks with cottage instincts, so they didn't look too 'hand-me-down-ish'.  I liked to call it the 'early parent's attic' motif.

Hubby read some study somewhere that showed that the fewer choices we have, the more content we are with what we have chosen.  When we know that such and such can't be replaced, we learn to be content with it, and really begin to like it....then love it.  I have furniture pieces like this that I hated, but was forced to make-do, and now they are sentimental to me, and I wouldn't think of replacing them.

One of the reasons Donna's blog is so popular is because she sticks to the mantra of using what you have whenever you can.  Most of us need to hear this again and again.  Hard to do in our throw-away, million and one decorating blogs 'o inspiration, television home shows, and Walmart culture.  But, I'm slowly getting thru my head that my LOVES generally revolve around what I already have.  Duh. 

I'm also deciding to give myself more time to just let stuff be for a bit.  Live with it for awhile and see how it makes me feel.  Turn my brain off about it.  Ya know what I mean.  I can drive myself wonky (especially at night when I'm trying to go to sleep) rearranging furniture and colors in my mind.

I know the style is frenchy whites and greys, but I don't have the furniture (or time and money and energy) to pull this off.  I've read all the posts about white slipcovers being easy to live with due to their washability.....but let's get real here.  I hate doing laundry.  I don't have the big new front loaders either.  Just a rinky dink GE jobby that about lost its spirit during 6 years of agitating cloth dipes.  But it hasn't died yet :)  I  also tried to let go of my beloved washed -out florals and embrace the minimalist color look, but it doesn't feel like me.  I still love seeing others homes done up this way, and would love to visit.....but I just honestly can't see myself living there.

It's kinda like looking at the fashion mags, seeing all the sticks, er models, wearing all this trendy cute stuff....then going and trying it on.  Wait, wah????  Something gets seriously lost in the translation.  At least for me, and not just because I'm a plus-sized gal.  And I've done this with my house SO many times.  Perfected a 'look' only to realize.....uh, this isn't me.  Try to think about that before you go spending time and money on some something in a catalogue or on a blog.  Or, be like me and try it.......then smack your head and go....uh, this isn't me.

And know what?  I can walk into someone's home or run into them (literally) at the mall and tell right away whether they're decorating/dressing on trend because it suits them, or because its on trend.  If it's the latter, I just wanna say "Girlfriend, you look uptight."  Seriously, do you notice the clothes/decor first?   Or do you notice the person/people first? Shouldn't it matter?  For me, I want to walk in, plop down on your sofa and feel like I'm at your house, not inside a magazine or in someone else's blog.  Which would be creepy for so many other reasons....

BUT, there is a caveat to all this.  I think I've mentioned before that during our homeschooling adventures we learned that the great masters of the arts learned by copying their teachers.  It's called apprenticing.  There's not a ding dang thing wrong with copying those who are good at interior decor when you're just beginning to define your style.  Just don't get caught up in trying to BE that style if it doesn't suit you.  Try that PB knock off, put sticks in a vase on your wall a la Nester, sew up some faux grainsack pillows like Melanie.....then step back and decide....is this me?  Or is it me trying to look like her?  Don't 'put on' your style.....live your style.  It will help narrow down the physical clutter and the mental white noise.  Visit blogs that inspire you not because you want to copy them, but because (hopefully) they are living their style.


::Welcome back to my blottage! Er, cottage. Ok, blog. It's a blog::

I'm so happy to be back to my cyberhome...a present-time playspace for all the many facets of my sparkling creativity.
and by sparkling, I mean light-it-up, show-it-off, burn-it-out creativity....that's just how I roll

After a 10 year foray thru the blogorama part-tay happening in the ethers, the time has come for this Cottage Girl to integrate all my varied blogging sites (6 of 'em--Whew!) under one Happy URL.
otherwise known by its proper, fancified term: a 'lifestyle blog'

This space will still be known as ::cottage instincts::, and though the emphasis will still be on creating and documenting my particular style 'o cottage, my underlying desire is to find my Happy thru creativity of all kinds.
and still have excuses to go shopping for decor and craft supplies and camera lenses...

Let's talk about the Blog:
I'm still tweaking, reimagining, and reorganizing (don't even think about clicking on the tabs at the top), and I may migrate over to Wordpress eventually with a total redesign.  Until then, it's homemade Blogger all the way.

These are the old-ish and new-ish random bits I plan to dabble and babble about:
happy SPACES: decorating (cottage tour, decor and inspiration)
happy MAKES: hobbies and crafts (sewing, painting, hand lettering, gardening, cooking, blogging, writing, photography, etc.)
happy FACES: family life (heavy dose of grandbabies, no apologies)
happy HEARTS: spirituality (Abraham-Hicks' inspired)
happy READS: bloggers (features and blogroll)
happy BITS: miscellany (random stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else)

I'm stoked about documenting all these fabulous, random, rabbit holes of creativity and experiences that cross my serendipitous path.  I want it to continue to be an ease-y place of discovering, playing, and savoring this physical existence thru a myriad of creative mediums.  Quite a bit like kindergarten, actually.
bring your nap mat and prepare for some show and tell

So, Dear Reader, what say you?  Wanna join me as I explore breathtaking beauty in the tremendous and the tiny? Ready to follow the inspiration of new ideas and new experiences just for the freaking fun of it?  Up for a life-long game of make believe and making messes?

It's gonna be good.  Really, really good.

PS.  I'm lovin' my new baby-sized Olympus Penlite 6 camera which snapped all the happy pics in this post on AUTO with the kit lens.  Seriously in.love.  I'll be writing about my new camera baby this week....if you're So.Over the weight and size and cost of a traditional DSLR as I was, get ready to meet your new digital image-making friend. You're welcome.


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