Saturday, April 27, 2013

United Camera Repair Service Review

Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis.  It is located in the Davis Mountains of western Texas.  This trip was with our church girls for their annual summer camp. It was an incredible experience.  Of course, I brought my Canon Powershot G11 camera with me to record the details of the trip.  The photo opportunities were everywhere.  I was taking pictures, one after another.  I even brought extra batteries for the camera so I wouldn't miss a shot.   

Right outside the observatory, I was walking with my camera open while showing one of our girls a photo I'd just taken of our group.  Looking back on that moment, perhaps it wasn't such a brilliant idea for me to walk AND show photos at the same time.  After all, I tend to be a bit of a klutz.  You can probably guess what happened next.  With the camera opened in my hands and the power on, I stumbled and fell. I mean, I fell really hard.  Forward face plant fall on the pavement.  It wasn't pretty.  I didn't want to distract the girls, but I really thought I'd broken my finger.  

You see, my hands AND my beautiful Canon G11 camera  broke my fall.  My finger wasn't broken.  Unfortunately, my camera was broken.  After the fall, the photos I took were really dark all along the left edge of each one.  Additionally, the camera was badly out of focus.  It was difficult to make photos at all.

I had no choice but to search for a place to repair my camera.  Living near a major metropolitan area with large, well-known camera dealers, I went to one of the 'biggies' to get an estimate for my camera repair.  Evidently, camera shops don't really do 'in house' repairs any more.  Oh, they'd handle the repair for me all right.  But, they would not repair it themselves.  They'd just ship it off to the manufacturer, Canon, and let them perform the work.  In other words, I might as well ship it off to Canon myself.

I contacted Canon.  They were quite helpful.  The repair would probably cost $185.  If you add in tax and shipping the price was about $210.  Another option was to buy a replacement from them.  I could get a 'newly reconditioned' camera.  They had a Canon G12 that I could trade mine in and buy for about $270.  Add tax and shipping to that and the price is about $300 if I traded in my G11.

I had waited all my life to get my Canon G11 camera.  It was the nicest one I'd ever owned.  We paid around $400 when we bought it at Best Buy a few years ago.  Spending another $200+ for a repair, tax and shipping to get it fixed seemed questionable.  Spending another $300+ for a replacement seemed even more questionable.  For awhile, I just waited.

I still took lots of photos, but just about every photo I've taken since then, personally or for my blog, has been with my the camera on my iPhone 4S.  Now, I do love my iPhone and it takes great photos, but they pale in comparison to the quality images I used to get with my Canon G11 camera.

Finally, I decided to check out another option.  There was another large, well-known business that did camera repairs called United Camera.  I called them, and discovered that their telephone customer service staff was courteous and knowledgeable.  They let me know that if my camera was repairable, the cost might be as low as $135 and no tax would be charged. That was a savings of almost a hundred bucks compared to what Canon would charge me. Additionally, they offered free return shipping.  After using my iPhone to take a few photos of my camera (so I could remember the serial number and how to replace the camera strap) I followed their simple directions and shipped my camera off to their repair facility.

Camera in bubble wrap with box.

Shipment to United Camera for repair.

Newly repaired camera

As you can see from the Before and After collage photo above, the quality of the images from my camera are now just as beautiful and crisp as when it was brand new.

I included the After images again here because I'm so pleased with the results.  You'll see these little Easter baskets I'm painting in a future post.

I am so very pleased with everything about my camera repair experience.  If you are in need of camera repair, I highly recommend United Camera.  You'll get high quality service at a great price.

Had to share a couple more shots that included my beloved juniper trees.

The berries are so fresh and pretty in the springtime!

I hope your camera never breaks.  But if it does, you should definitely consider using United Camera repair service.

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Sincerely, Paula: NO RULES Weekend Blog Party #46


Thursday, April 25, 2013

The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge - Week #17

Welcome to Week #17 of The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge.  This week, we save seventeen dollars.  Our total saved to date is one hundred and fifty-three dollars.  

Have you had any weeks yet where it was difficult to keep up with the challenge?  I hope everything is going smoothly and as planned for you.  If not, then maybe you've had a few weeks like I've had lately.  I'm still keeping up with my own personal challenge, but some weeks are easier than others.   Hang in there, you can do it!
I love financial guru Suze Orman.  This week I wanted to share a couple of her quotes: 
I simply want you to give yourself as much as you give of yourself.  By taking care of yourself financially, you will truly be able to take care of those you love.  

If you're financially responsible, your children have a much better chance to grow up financially responsible.

For weekly challenge updates, subscribe to this blog via blogger, google, or email.  If you prefer, follow me on Pinterest or Facebook.  Check out the icon buttons in the right-hand column of this page.  If you're new to the challenge, welcome aboard.  You can start with one hundred and fifty-three dollars to catch up with us, or add a bit extra each week until you're caught up.  You could also begin this week as Week #1.  Whatever works best for you is fine.  For a free printable chart, check out Stuck At Home Mom's 52 Week Money Challenge.  Happy saving!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Liebster Award

Guess what? My blog was nominated by Joanne@ Creative Mess for a Liebster Blog Award. I'm pleased to accept this honor. First of all, I'd like to thank the members of the Academy....just kidding. The long acceptance speeches are for a different kind of award, right?


To be honest, I am deeply grateful to Joanne @ Creative Mess.  Thank you Joanne!!  If we lived anywhere near each other, I'd make one of Grandma JoAnn's Incredible Peach Cobblers and bring it right over to your house.  It feels great to have my work recognized.

What is a Liebster Award?  Created in the blogosphere, the Liebster is an award given to new bloggers who are just starting out.  The Liebster is given to said bloggers by another blogger - a peer who has recently received the award.  The intent is to help new bloggers get noticed.  The Liebster Award is available to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

Liebster Award Rules

1. Thank the Liebster Award nominator on your blog and link back to their blog. 

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator.  

3. List 11 random facts about yourself. 

4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs that has 200 followers or less whom you feel deserve to be noticed. Be sure to leave them a comment on their blog to let them know about it.

6. Copy and paste the blog award onto your blog. It is an award, so show it off!

Questions from the Nominator

1.   If you could pick another first name for yourself, what would it be?

I used to want a name like Jane or Donna - something simple and easy to pronounce. My name is Reecea. When someone new reads my name, they usually pronounce it as Rebecca, REE-ka, Ree-SEE-a, or REE-sha. Conversely, if I tell someone new my name and they repeat it,they often say Lisa or Teresa.The name Reece, with no 'a' on the end, is the maiden name of my maternal grandmother. I called her Nanny. My name, Reecea, is simply Reece+ the letter 'a' at the end.  To pronounce my name correctly just say
the name Lisa and use an '
R' at the beginning instead of an 'L'. Today, I love my name.  I wouldn't choose any other.

2.   I would love to learn how to ___________.

I would love to learn how to fly an airplane.

3.   What is your favorite dessert?

Boston Cream Pie is my favorite dessert.  Back in the mid 1960s, the cafeteria at my elementary school in Dallas served it every now and then.  Before I went to that school, I'd never heard of it.  I wish I'd gotten their recipe, because it was the best Boston Cream Pie I've ever tasted in my life.

4.   When do you find the time to blog?

Late at night or early in the morning is the best time for me to blog.  The fewer distractions there are, the easier it is for me to keep focused.

5.   What one thing would you like your children take into adulthood?

My kids are adults.  They are wonderful.  I hope they always remember the love in our family and how important it is to maintain good family relationships.  Some families break apart as the kids get older and things happen.  My Dad's family is quite the exception to that rule.  There were twelve kids in his family.  They loved each other.  They treated each others families with love and respect.  They honored their parents.  They were all very good, productive people.  If they ever squabbled, they kept it private and worked things out.  I hope my kids always hang onto that kind of family love and loyalty for each other and their cousins and aunts and uncles. The older they get, the more they'll need that love, encouragement, and emotional support.

6.   What does your family think of your blog?

My family is generally very supportive of my blog.  HUBBY and PUMPKIN were my first two followers.  PUMPKIN now occasionally posts on my blog.  Photos of PEPSI's and PRINCESS's kiddos are sprinkled throughout various blog posts.  PRINCESS's Best Banana Pudding has been a very popular recipe post.

7.   What is your favorite midnight snack?

I have a terrible habit of waking up in the middle of the night and having a snack.  My favorite indulgence for a midnight snack is something chocolate.

8.   What advice would you give to a first time blogger?

I'd share the advice I got when I first started blogging.  Just get started. It may not be perfect at first. That is fine. It is like the first time you jump off the high board at the deep end of the pool. The more you think about it, the harder it seems.

9.How long have you had your blog or website?

My first post was January 1, 2012.

10. Who is your favorite musical artist or group?


11. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

I try to pray first thing in the morning before doing anything else.  

Questions for the Nominees

1. Why did you start blogging?

2. If you could eat lunch anywhere in the world, where would you eat and what would you have for lunch?

3. Who, what, and/or where does your blogging inspiration come from?

4. How do you handle a stressful day?

5. What is one thing you hope your children remember about you?

6. What is your favorite go to recipe?

7. What is your favorite quote? 

8. What project(s) are you working on right now?
9. What is the best thing about you?

10. Will you follow the bloggers that you nominate for this award?
11. What makes you giggle?

Random Facts About Me

1. I play the violin.

2. I am a southpaw.

3. I love family history.

4. I worked full-time managing non-profit, non-partisan consumer and environmental issue campaigns for about 8 years.

5. I love horses. As a child, I dreamed of being a jockey when I grew up.

6. I am an extrovert. If there was an extrovert+ category, I'd be in it.

7. I drive a 2004 Honda Civic.  It gets 34 mpg.  I'll keep driving it until it has 300k miles on it, then I'll look for another one.

8. I aw President Clinton speak twice, once as a candidate in 1992 the night before the election, and once just before his first inauguration
. I met and shook hands with Texas Governor George W. Bush before he was elected President.

9. I use Mary Kay skin care products every day.

10. I love to cheer for the underdog.

11. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. HUBBY and I are privileged to teach an amazing class of 9 and 10 year old Primary kids on Sundays.  Some crafts I blog about were inspired by them. We love 'em!!

12. (Bonus) Yes, I will follow all the bloggers I nominated!

Bloggers I Chose as Award Nominees

 1.  Staci @ Luker Family Tales 
 2.  Hannah @ Cupcake Mumma 
 3.  Darlene @ Darlene B. Nemeth  
 4Bev Carter @ Eclectic Red Barn   
 5Rachel @ Spectrum Notes 
 6.  Natasha @ Natashalh - food, travel, DIY, and the artisan life 
 7.  Sarah @ Sarah Lynn's Sweets 
 8.  Marti @ Sew-licious Home Decor 
 9.  Pat @ Living Life With The Love's 
10. Stella Marie @ Domestic Evolution
11. Jessica and Hilary @ Domestic Bliss Squared

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge - Week #16

Welcome to Week #16 of The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge.  This week, we save sixteen dollars.  Our total saved to date is now one hundred and thirty six dollars.  Just think, we started with one dollar.

When you look outside your window, can you tell that Spring has arrived?  One thing I always look forward to is seeing the bluebonnets on the roadside.  We've had a terrible drought over the last few years, and we don't have as many as usual.  But, there are still plenty around if you take the time to look.  If you've been following this blog for some time, you might remember the Texas Family Bluebonnet Photos post.  We really love our bluebonnets here in Texas.

For weekly challenge updates, subscribe to this blog via blogger, google, or email.  I guess you could also just follow me on Pinterest or Facebook.  I am posting challenge updates each week there, too.  At any rate, there are icon buttons on the right side of this web page where you can follow or subscribe.  
If you're new to the challenge, welcome aboard.  You can start with one hundred and twenty dollars to catch up with us, or add a bit extra each week until you're caught up.  You could also begin this week as Week #1.  Whatever works best for you is fine.  For a free printable chart, check out Stuck At Home Mom's 52 Week Money Challenge.  Happy saving!

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Sew Crafty Angel:  Weekend Blog Hop Party #6


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kitchen Curtains Tutorial - Give Your Kitchen Window A Fresh New Look!

It is so hard to find the right curtains for your kitchen windows at the right price.  After literally decades of shopping for curtains, everything I find that is in my price range is SO ho-hum and generic.  But if you have an idea of what you want, the fabric stores are full of beautiful possibilities.  Remember the old adage, "If you want something done right, do it yourself."

Still, I know there are many of you that hesitate to make your own curtains. If you're not sure how to do it, this post is for you.  If you know how to sew but have never made anything like this without a pattern, this project is for you.

Step One

Begin by measuring your window height (top of curtain rod to bottom of finished curtain hem) and width (side to side where you want the left and right edge of curtain to hang).  For curtain height measurement, add about 4 inches additional length for hem and rod pocket.  For curtain width, multiply the width measurement times four.  For example, if I wanted my finished curtain to cover an area 40" high x 50" wide, I'd want my fabric to be about 44" high and 200" in width.

Step Two

For my kitchen window, I chose a simple and straightforward valance and  curtain.  Measure the valance the same way you measure for the curtain.  If you want the valance to drape over the curtain like the one in the photo, make sure you allow for that in your measurements.  In other words, it is like making a top curtain and a bottom curtain using the same formula.

Step Three

Once you've measured, begin by cutting fabric to the correct size and finishing your edges (top, bottom, left, and right) with a serger to prevent fraying.  

NOTE: If you're using a standard sewing machine, just straight stitch about one fourth of an inch away from the edge.  Fold along stitch line and iron flat.  Then zig zag your fold in place.  It works the same way, but it takes a bit longer. You could also pink the edges with pinking shears.

Step Four

For my valance, I had to sew two pieces of fabric together to achieve the desired width.  If you're covering a very large window, you may need even more pieces.

To sew them together, pin along your unfinished edge.

And serge or stitch them together.

After this step, your valance will have a seam that looks like this

Step Five

Using a hem gauge, form your rod pocket by folding your fabric length over, wrong sides together, to form the pocket and ironing all along your edge.  The pocket shown here is two and a half inches deep.  This easily fits a standard, economy type white curtain rod with brackets.

This easily fits a standard, economy type white curtain rod with brackets.

I wanted to use some special trim on my curtains, and opted for some lace from a lace tablecloth we bought on our honeymoon many years ago.  If you want to see how it was made here is the post:DIY Vintage Lace Trim

Step Six

Pin the trim to the front of the rod pocket.

Step Seven

Machine stitch the lace to the valance along the top and bottom.  Be careful to leave enough room for your curtain rod to fit in the pocket when you're done.

NOTE:  If your lace is a bit stretchy like mine, the ends may look a bit curly or ruffly.  As you can see in the photo below, I used my finger to gently pull out the ruffly part so that it would lay down straight for stitching. 

When you're finished with your rod pocket and lace trim, you valance should look like the photos below.

 This is what the back of the valance looks like at the seam where the two pieces are sewn together.

You can see that mine does not lay entirely flat after ironing due to the stretchiness of the lace.  That is okay, because these will be scrunched up together on the rod pocket anyway.

Step Eight

Using your hem guide again, measure your desired hem length and iron your hem in place. 

NOTE:  I used to want to get done so quickly that I'd deliberately 'skip' ironing my sewing projects.  Don't do that!!  You won't save any time.  It will just take more time fixing the mistakes you make.  Believe me I learned this the hard way.

It only takes a few minutes to iron a simple hem.

Step Nine

Now sew your hem in place, stitching over your finished edge.

For best results, stitch right down the middle of your previous stitching.

NOTE:  All sewing machines are different.  This is what my setting for straight stitch looks like.

Step 10

When you are finished, your valance is ready for display in the window.  Just hang it up.

Voila, you're halfway done!

Now, we are going to repeat this process for the curtains, minus the lace trim of course.  I bought this beautiful bird print fabric years ago.  It has all the state birds and flowers of the United States, with the state images in the background.  The copyright design is 1982 USPS Birds and Flowers of the 50 States by artists Arthur and Alan Singer

Can you tell from the number of pictures of this fabric how much I love it?

 Have you seen your state yet?  I tried to show as many as I could.


I even like the color numbers and copyright notice in the selvage so much that I left it visible on the finished curtain.


Wanna guess how long ago I planned to make these curtains?  Honestly, HUBBY got tired of waiting for me to make them after I bought the fabric, and he bought new curtains show in the photo below.  Those curtains got bleach spattered on them, so it was time for me to get busy sewing.

My former curtains: Walmart Basic Blue Ho Hum Curtains
Step Eleven

Review your window measurements from Step One.  Now that your valance is hung, check your curtain measurements to make sure your length is correct.  I wanted my curtains to fall just below the window sill, just enough so that they didn't cover the trim under the sill.  I also did not want to see any daylight between the valance and the curtain, so they needed to overlap a tiny bit. With a measuring tape, look at your valance and re-measure the length for your curtains.  The width will be the same as the width for the valance.  Remember to add about four inches to the length for the rod pocket and hem allowance.

If you are using an average grade of 100% cotton quilting fabric for your curtains, I suggest cutting your finished edge about an inch, and then RIPPING it across to the other finished edge to square up the top and bottom edge. This technique was taught to me by my dear friend BINGO.  BINGO is an excellent seamstress and former manager of several JoAnn's Fabric stores.  Ripping cotton is fun and easy.  For more information, check out the Ripping Cotton Tutorial.

Ripping Cotton Tutorial

NOTE:  I did not use this technique on the valance, because it is made from a lightweight cotton broadcloth and is not as suitable for the RIP technique. Don't try this on blended cottons either.  Only rip quilting weight 100% cotton fabrics.  Be sure to wash and dry fabric first before ripping.

Step Twelve

This step is identical to Step Three above.  Rip or cut fabric to the correct size and finish your edges (top, bottom, left, and right) with a serger to prevent fraying.  If you are creating more than one curtain panel, repeat Step Twelve through Step Sixteen for each panel.

NOTE:  See Step Three for edge finishing with a traditional sewing machine.


Recently I found more methods for finishing the thread tail on a serged seam.  For me, the easiest way is to tie it in a knot at the edge of the fabric and clip it with scissors.

NOTE:  I did not sew two pieces of fabric together to get my desired width for the curtains.  The curtain fabric width was perfect for one individual panel.  I made two curtain panels that can be opened in the center to allow light in the room.  Your project may be different, depending on the size of window and the fabric width.

Step Thirteen

This step is just like Step Five above. Using a hem gauge, construct your rod pocket by folding your fabric length over, wrong sides together, to form the pocket and ironing all along your edge.  The pocket shown here is two inches deep, a bit smaller than my valance rod pocket.  This easily fits a standard, economy type white curtain rod with brackets.

Step Fourteen

Machine stitch along your finished edge of the rod pocket, stitching a straight line right through the center of previous stitching.

Step Fifteen

This is the same process as Step Eight above.  Using your hem guide again, measure your desired hem length and iron your hem in place.  My hem is two inches.

Step Sixteen

Now machine stitch your hem in place, stitching straight down the center of previous stitching along finished edge.

Now the curtains are complete and ready to hang in your window.

Please send me an email if you have any questions.  I love my new curtains because they're exactly what I wanted.  Happy sewing!

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