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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Life Cycle of a Friendship

This morning, while I was perusing CNN.com for anything interesting, I came across an article that raised both its hands and waved them in my face.  Check it out here: Is it time to end that friendship?

Why did it jump out at me with lights flashing and bells whistling?  Because a few months ago I basically had to "break up" with one of my closest girl friends.  She was also one of my best friends.  Lemme give you a quick run down first... 

I've known *Kelly (*names were changed to protect the person's identity lol) since I was a sophomore in high school.  We were practically inseparable: sleepovers at her house, shopping, partying, studying, you name it we did it together.  I could tell her anything and vice versa.  I would call her late into the night chatting about heartbreaks or family issues and she would be there for me.  Listening to me sniffle and snort through the phone into the wee hours of the morning made me love her even more.  She was like the sister I never had.

Our friendship survived graduation.  Even though I graduated before her (I'm a year older) we still managed to hang out.  Our relationship got rocky during the beginning of my relationship with my now-husband.  She felt as if I put her on the back-burner and chose to spend most of my time with him.  I have to admit that it was true.  I eventually found a balance between spending time with my friends and spending time with my spouse.  However, the roles became reversed.  She now had and was living with her serious boyfriend.  It was her turn to realize what her priorities were and to learn how to juggle her relationship with him and her relationship with me. 

Unfortunately, the epiphany never came for her as it did for me.  At first it was because of her boyfriend, then school (graduate studies), then she had plans with other friends...  I tried to be understanding.  Since it was her schedule that seemed to lack flexibility, I would try and schedule everything a few weeks to a month in advance.  I'd get her to pencil me in but she would flake on me.  She gave me one excuse after another, some times on the day of.  I though she was very inconsiderate.  Hell!  I STILL think she's inconsiderate. 

I tried my best for 2 years to keep the friendship going but to no avail.  I even explained the situation and how I felt to her and for a couple months I thought I had gotten through.  But she reverted back to her rude and inconsiderate behavior: not answering my calls, not returning my messages, making appointments then cancelling last minute.  I had enough.  I placed the ball in her court.  I let her know that I valued her as a friend but it was obvious we had grown apart and we had taken different paths in our lives.  If she wanted to continue the friendship she would have to make the move. 

That was basically the end.  I never heard from her since and the communication has just been cut off.  It's a shame because I saw our friendship spanning decades.  I pictured us with our respective husbands going on trips and having dinners together.  Eventually, we would have raised our children to be friends and have playdates at each other's houses.  But it's not meant to be.  I won't lie.  I felt a little heartbroken.  We had a relationship, after all, and it felt just like when I broke up with a boyfriend who just wasn't treating me right. 

To this day, I still think about her in passing.  I wish her well and all the happiness in the world.  Dr. Falk summed it up perfectly in the article.  "As we gain a stronger sense of self, what used to matter no longer does, and we're bound to outgrow certain friendships.  Once you're aware of that, without being cruel or feeling guilt-ridden, you can begin to let go of relationships that no longer nourish your most authentic self."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Introducing My Photo Apps!

I'm obsessed with downloading photo apps.  I have an entire folder dedicated to photography on my iPhone as you can see below.  I've collected these apps for years.  Some have come and go but the ones pictured are the ones that I love and are the most useful, in my opinion.  I am not affiliated with the creators of these apps and by no means am I getting paid to advertise them.  I just thought it would be great to highlight the ones that I use on a regular basis. 




ColorSplash, ColorBlast!, Colorize, and Color Effects are all pretty much the same app.  They do what the app looks like and that is to highlight a particular portion of a photograph and give it color while the rest of the photograph stays black and white.  I did the photo on the left with ColorSplash which is the simplest app.  That is my app of choice for simple color highlighting because it is very intuitive.  The good news is that it's CHEAP!  It's only 99¢ in the iTunes store.



If you want more out of these apps then you should go for either ColorBlast! or Colorize or BOTH!  (I seriously recommend both.)  I've actually come to prefer ColorBlast!  It incorporates everything that ColorSplash does with extras thrown in.  (So pretty much it makes ColorSplash obsolete but I keep it for it's simplicity.)  Not only can you do the photo above but you can also change the background color.  I used the sepia filter in the photo to the right.  You can also change the hue & saturation of the highlighted/colored portion of the photo.  Price?  A whopping 99¢ in the iTunes store.  =)

The last app, Colorize, is also simple but it allows you to pick the color that you want the focal point to become.  Look at the photos below and you can see this wonderful app at work.



 
As you can see...

...it looks like I gave my precious baby, Haley, a purple dye job.  LOL  She looks adorable either way.  If you like this effect go ahead and buy it for $1.99.

While iMovie, technically, isn't a photo editor, it's still a pretty cool app all on its own.  I used it to make a video montage of one of my friends' doggy, birthday party.  I included both photos and clips to create the final video which I sent out to all the party participants.  It's easy, intuitive, and great for short little movies.  Price: $4.99.  (It's well worth it!)  If you are curious, you can view the final product here:


The next app that I frequently use is Camera+ purely for it's editing features.  Yes it's a fantastic camera app, better than the one the iPhone comes with (at least that's what I've heard/read) but I've only used the editing feature which is AMAZING!  

Unfortunately, I can't show you all the features that are available to you with this app but the best thing about it is being able to quickly turn a blah picture into a vibrant, eye-popping, work of art.  All cameras have scene modes and Camera+ gives you this feature to optimize your picture based on the type of picture you are taking.  You can see some of the samples of scene modes that are available on the lower half of the picture to the left.  The adjust button lets you turn the picture 90° degrees to the left or right and flip it horizontally or vertically.  The crop button is self explanatory.  The effects button is fantastic.  You have so many different choices that you are bound to find one that looks good to you.  Lastly, you have many different borders to choose from to finish your photograph.  For all that this app does I can't believe it's only $1.99!  I know that I got this app when it was only 99¢ and I'm glad I did.  With it's growing popularity I wouldn't be surprised if the price went up again.






Last, but surely not least, is the only other app that I currently take pictures with.  Instagram!  It's got the best price...  FREE!!  It doesn't get any better than that.  What I love about this app is it's array of filters that can be immediately applied to the photo you've just taken.  I also like this tilt-shift feature which allows you to focus on a part of the photograph, bring out its clarity and blur the rest.  Great right?






So those are the apps on photography that I'm currently obsessed with.  I hope the descriptions were helpful.  I know that when I was first beginning to accumulate my apps I relied heavily on online reviews.  It always helps to know what other people thought of it and how they used it for themselves.  Till next time...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Perfection... Attainable?

Has anyone heard of the show called Bridalplasty?? It's a reality show that aired last year on the E! Network. The premise? Women competed to win their dream wedding and, along the way, plastic surgery procedures on their wish list.

I watched one episode and is it just me or does this seem insane? I think this show was taking advantage of these women who already felt insecure about themselves and were under the pressure that most brides face when they are planning their "perfect" wedding. The idea that without this show they couldn't achieve a perfect wedding nor will they be perfect themselves was bandied about so much it made me sick.

I really don't have any problems with plastic surgery as long as you are doing it for yourself, have thought long and hard about and aren't going overboard with it. This show presented a buffet of plastic surgeries and I'll explain what I mean by that. You know when you cook for yourself or go to a regular restaurant you tend to eat a smaller portion. You'll have an appetizer (maybe), an entree, and dessert (again maybe). However, when you go to a buffet there's always a feeling like you have to get your money's worth. There's also so many choices that you can't make up your mind and then you pick a little of everything. No wonder you leave feeling like you are about to burst.  It's the same on this show.  There are free plastic surgeries up for grabs.  Because you don't have to shell out for it yourself, you may consider doing surgeries that you wouldn't have before.  There's also peer pressure.  You see other women focusing on their problem areas.  You may have been insecure about your nose and only your nose but seeing other women talk about their breasts you may consider breast augmentation as well.  I mean why not?  It's free right?  Now are you seeing my point?!

This reality TV show just highlights the message that outer perfection is attainable only through surgery and a lot of money, that you need to look perfect ESPECIALLY on your wedding day.  There should have been a therapist on this show because clearly these women have issues.  Didn't they think that their fianc├ęs and husbands at home must already love them and how they look and that is why they proposed/married them?  Let's not even begin the conversation that their partners are not included in their decision to alter their bodies.  What if their partners don't like the changes that were made?  Is it fair that they essentially pulled a bait and switch?  Here you are, you proposed or married someone then one day BAM they look totally different from the original.  

I just hope that at the end of the show these women ended up being truly happy with themselves and not regretting their impulsive and permanent decision.  I also hope their partners were able to live with the "end product" and that it didn't change their relationship.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Nails

Spring and summer is the time when I love to play with bright colors and pastels.  This design is no exception!

It's definitely been awhile since I really took the time to do something creative with my nails.  I just haven't had the time or the inclination.  Lately, I've just painted them either a solid color or a solid color with crackle nail polish on top.  The latter isn't quite as boring as the former and it gives me an easy design without all the time and effort required. 

I get a lot of my nail design ideas from YouTube.  There are so many talented nail artists out there who have taken the time to create a video walkthrough on how to achieve their design.  I chose this video by LOVE4Nails to imitate:

In order for you to replicate this design you must have slightly long nails.  There's just not enough room for all the colors to fade into each other on short nails.  If you want a nail design for short nails just type that into the search box on youtube.com and you'll get a different set of video tutorials to try.  Thankfully, I've been growing out my nails so that I can shape them into a squoval (square-oval: basically square tip with rounded edges).  I didn't have the right crystals to imitate the flowers she created on top so I only did the base colors.  Then again, I also didn't want my nails to look that busy...  I was surprised at how easy and fast this design was.  This is how it came out:

Beautiful, feminine, and perfect for summer!

Till next time...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Man's Best Friend?

As I was driving to work this morning I noticed this woman walking the most adorable puppy in the world.  It was a Shih Tzu.  My favorite dog breed.  Ask me why....  Because they remind me of cute little versions of Ewoks!  Hehe  Yes, my husband shakes his head everytime I squeal with delight upon seeing this adorable breed.  I go gaga for their cute, fuzzy faces.  I promised myself that, one day, I would have a cute, fuzzy Shih Tzu to call my own and name it Wicket!

After such a high, it is disheartening to read the following news article: Special Report - The Dog Meat Mafia.  It's the first of a four-part series of articles highlighting Southeast Asia's dog meat trade.  Here in the United States, dogs and cats are pets.  Most of them are treated like they are part of the family, like another child or sibling that you love and care for.  That is why most people react with horror, distaste, and sadness when they hear dogs and cats are considered food in other parts of the world.  I understand the argument that we as American citizens cannot impose our view on other cultures.  I get that.  However, the emotional part of me asks how you can do such a thing to our pets.  I remember seeing another article on CNN (Inside the Cat and Dog Meat Market in China).  Some of the dogs and cats were stolen pets! 

Whether it's illegal or legal, I just can't tolerate the thought of dogs and cats being used as food.  They are our family, our best friends.  Everytime I see a video of dog or cat slated to go to the meat market, I look into their eyes, and it makes me cry.