Boston Tea Party | April 16, 2014 | Comments (0)

BHH High Tea FFAF

We had the most delightful and intimate little tea party with friends at the Boston Harbor Hotel Sunday to celebrate my birthday. It was a gorgeous day – sunny and warm and fresh, as a little April shower swept through in the morning, rinsing everything clean. (Washing away the pollen was especially key since my beloved’s allergies are BRUTAL. On Saturday, through misery that was painful to witness she wailed, “Now I remember why I left here!” Poor thing.)

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We were excited to explore someplace new with our friends. As some of you may know, I love a good tea service, and while this one was plenty posh, they don’t always have to be (in fact they definitely shouldn’t all be – more on that in a bit). We had beautiful views right over the water and things began with a terse little lecture on the menu instructing guests on the history of “high tea” vs. “afternoon tea,” and why Americans frequently screw them up. Something about table heights and times of day and so on.

Also, the tomboys were worried we’d still be hungry afterward, but clearly that was foolish. Silly tomboys!

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Juniper berries in the cocktails (along with yuzu and Pavan liqueur and orgeat)! The biscuits and scones were especially good with Devonshire cream, which I love, and the griddled Vermont cheddar and ham were yummy as well.

Since I’m spoiled with getting to make my own little motorloaf tea sandwiches at Tal-y-Tara’s back home, I’m really more in it for the sweet stuff elsewhere, but M liked the egg salad duet a lot – and while not normally not a fan of smoked salmon, she found this one really mild and pleasant – maybe because it was maple smoked? The raspberry pastries and tartlets were her favorite, but she really liked the baby Key Lime pie, too.

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Yours truly, and the delicious birthday girl beverage with elderflower liqueur, delicate ginger flakes and fragrant rose buds for garnish – Aphrodite’s Potion. The service was excellent, and a good time was had by all! I can’t wait to take my mom when she comes to visit this June.

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Despite all that, sometimes it’s nicest just to have a casual, everyday tea that’s special and relaxing because it doesn’t require crisp white cloth tablecloths and tiered platters.

Back home, that place is Tal-y-Tara Tea and Polo Shoppe in the Richmond District (it’s sort of unfussy fussy, if that makes any sense), and my second favorite place is sunken in off a little close in Edinburgh, where two old ladies gossip and barely pay you any mind while it storms rowdily outside and you gorge yourself on amazing Millionaire’s shortbread over a pot of tea surrounded by infinity doilies.

We’ve yet to find that style of tea here in Boston, but never say never!

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The answer to “So, shall we all go to the carousel?”

BECAUSE CAROUSELS.

The Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Carousel at the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove is very new – it only just opened last summer – and showcases a wonderfully strange mix of critters “native to the land, sea and sky of Massachusetts including a sea turtle, a cod, a peregrine falcon, a grasshopper, a harbor seal, a fox, a skunk, a whale, three types of butterflies, a barn owl, and a sea serpent.” Some adorable, some terrifying.

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All inspired by the drawings of schoolchildren, which is adorable. I fully credit my ability to get on the turtle in a vintage dress without breaking my own neck to my horseback riding steez.

Also, I really loved these scalloped Kate Spade tights, but they ran before a full day’s wear. Tsk!

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The minty moto making another appearance, proving its worth and wearability yet again!

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Since it was sundown and beautiful, we took the long way back from the carousel. Here’s a little sleepy harbor action for you. (Fun fact: Just around the corner is where we watched our first set of New Year’s Eve fireworks in Boston to ring in 2013!) After the stroll we regrouped in JP for Mad Men, presents, homemade Momofuku Milk Bar compost cookies and cereal milk, and it was an all-around magical day.

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Vintage Dress – Bobby From Boston | Faux Leather Moto Jacket – BCBGeneration | Navy Scalloped Tights – Kate Spade | Vintage Gloves – SoWa Vintage Market | Envelope Clutch – Elliott Lucca (available in many other colors here) | Pearl Earrings + Double-Strand Pearls – Vintage | Navy Patent Pumps – Nine West (similar here) | Nail Polish – Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure ‘So Much Fawn’

For something totally different, head to Qwear for my review of a Topman floral bomber jacket, and keep an eye on Autostraddle for my latest style post – especially if you’re planning to attend a spring wedding this year!

XOXO,
FFAF




SBJ @ 1:02 AM

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Encore! | April 7, 2014 | Comments (3)

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Back from an unintentional two-week break with some news: First, we celebrated my birthday this weekend! It was wonderful. Second – and this explains my extended absence – I did the unthinkable and got a perm.

Or more accurately a body wave, but in case you were wondering neither the process nor the chemicals have changed (much) since the perm heyday of the 1980s; what differentiates one from the other is simply the size of the rods your salon uses. Mine alternated between the biggest and second-biggest, and the results are pure beachy wave goodness.

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I’ll talk about it more in-depth soon over at Qwear for the Path to Perfect Tresses series finale, but in the meantime you should head over there to check out the Sunday style inspiration post I put together for them last weekend. Lots of excellent spring fever vibes! Speaking of, check out the tomboy’s dapper outfit – perfect for a blustery early spring day in New England. We took these photos on the steps outside of Trinity Church. Details below:

Pinstripe ‘Producer’ Suit Pant – Men’s Express | Striped Sweater – Gant (similar here) | Contrast Trim Blazer – H&M (similar here, here and here – the Ted Baker blue is my favorite!) | Wingtips (not pictured) – John Varvatos Star USA

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Let’s get on with this outfit! I love this sheer, almost neon blue skirt, I love my new minty fresh faux-leather biker jacket, and I love my perfect anytime, anywhere Everlane cashmere. I would say the jacket tones down the femininity of the bright floral skirt, but it’s a pastel mint and who are we kidding? We’ll say it gives it a little edge instead.

Not that it needs it. The simplicity (and practicality – it ain’t that warm here yet) of the sweater is precisely why they make staples. It could be a tank or a t-shirt and it would have the same effect.

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I liked the warm tomato red nail polish against the cooler tones.

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Isn’t this pattern killer? I wrestle with the miniskirt fit of the ‘modesty’ layer, but that’s such an easy fix at the tailor.

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I wore this necklace because it felt simple and sweet with the rest of the get-up, and I swept my hair back into a messy twist for the same reason. (And when we stepped out into the Back Bay wind on our way to brunch, I thanked myself for doing so!) Updos seem 100x easier now that my hair has all this texture to it! Now to brunch…

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This is the OAK Long Bar + Kitchen at the Fairmont. It’s a gorgeous, over-the-top space in an old world sort of way, the food and cocktails are consistently well-made and often subtly inventive, and the service is great. That pile of happiness up there is chocolate hazelnut french toast with berries and vanilla custard. FYI, their peach bellinis are a mile high and full of rum. YUM.

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Everyone loves these shoes! I guess there’s something a little risque about them – I like that they kind of swaddle the foot, have a tiny hidden platform wedge, and zip up the back like a corset. About corsets…

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The next stop was Agent Provocateur, and as luck would have it we had the place all to ourselves – including poured champagne and decadent truffles. So much fun! I fell in love with the springy embroidered tulle of the Petunia range from their Spring Summer 2014 Collection, and what’s a trip to a lingerie shop without seamed stockings, hm?

You might notice there was a little wardrobe change – I slipped out of the floral skirt and into this insanely dramatic midi ball skirt from H&M to fend off the chill outside.

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That’s better! And so on and so forth went the entire lovely weekend, full of sweet surprises and lots of love from family and friends near and far. We wrapped things up by pairing a bottle of Moët with a JP Licks ice cream cake last night, and it was a splendid way to kick off my 34th year.

Blue Skirt – Topshop (similar here and here) | Cashmere Sweater – Everlane | Faux Leather Moto Jacket – BCBGeneration | Suede Wedge Sandals – B. Makowsky | Bow Necklace – Marc by Marc Jacobs | Rose Gold Mixed Metal Watch – Bulova | Nail Polish – Ciate ‘Encore’

Hope you enjoyed the post!

XOXO,
FFAF




SBJ @ 5:05 PM

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Windy River No. 6 | March 24, 2014 | Comments (1)

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We finally crawled out of our little wintry hermit shells this weekend, hurrah! It hardly warmed up, but out we went regardless. To Newbury Street with the kiddo, by the river as the sun went down, to a long overdue Sunday brunch and some light shopping in the South End with Sonny from Qwear. It was all very delightful and laid back and lovely, and we still had time Sunday evening to whip up a huge batch of homemade salsa and try our hand at making Piri Piri roasted chicken – have you tried it? It was really excellent and quite easy.

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This is my solution to dealing with a spring day that is nice and sunny but nowhere near warm enough – an ultra long pencil skirt, silk blouse in a pretty floral print, and snuggly cashmere. For a bit of extra protection against the wind chill, a longer field jacket did the trick. My new nude wedges were hiding under the bed, so I threw on this old pair even though they need to go into the bin like yesterday.

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All the layered statement necklaces! This is something new from Jewelmint – clearly a J. Crew dupe, and the quality is nowhere close, but it sure looks good, so it’s a keeper. It’ll actually be nice to wear such a big, sparkly piece that doesn’t weigh a ton, especially if it’s layered with pieces that do.

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Ever since I parted ways with a cotton candy pink coat I had from Tulle awhile ago, and then another minty brocade Tulle coat even more recently, I’ve been looking to fill that confection-colored hole in my closet. When the kid dragged us into Brandy Melville the other day, I saw a wonderful looking nubby jacket for $48 in baby pink, but when I tried it on the lining pulled in all the wrong places, and it just didn’t fall right on my frame (damn you, fast fashion!). Alas, the search continues!

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I’d do a baby blue or seafoam green, or even a soft lilac. These ones from Asos are cool, but can it be done for under $100? Topshop is no help, sadly. Zara has a few options, all around $150. I’ve had my eye on this one from H&M, but it’s lacking that pastel pop. Are there any specific spring trends you’re trying to hunt down? Let’s help each other.

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Skirt – J. Crew Factory | Floral Silk Blouse – Free People (similar here) | Cashmere Sweater – Everlane | Nude Heels – Vince Camuto (similar) | Bow Necklace – Marc by Marc Jacobs (earrings) | Necklace & Earrings – Jewelmint | Gold Cuff – Madewell | Nail Polish – Zoya Caitlin
+ Essie As Gold As It Gets




SBJ @ 11:26 PM

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Spring Greens | March 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

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Guys, we made it. Congratulations! It’s spring. It’s officially spring, and while the signs may be subtle, they’re there. Birds are singing, almost all the snow has melted, the light’s different, and the sun is setting just shy of 7pm. It’s magical. I wanted a big dose of color to usher in the season, so I took a tonal approach, using a pair of dark cords to keep the sea green silk grounded in reality.

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I really didn’t have anywhere special to be tonight, but lucky timing meant that the tomboy was home in time to hop in the car and drop the petite off at a sleepover, so we picked up a gift for a birthday party tomorrow, a little treat for yours truly, and got to unwind from the week with a nice, relaxing dinner together. See, you never know when you’re going to need to be dressed, so you might as well be well-dressed!

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My 55mm didn’t arrive until Wednesday night, and I’ve been tinkering with it ever since, but even this first hasty attempt at FFAF-worthy photos with a new camera, new lens and a new timer came out surprisingly well despite my learning curve. It is the most insanely wonderful piece of glass I have ever handled, let alone owned, and I’m incredibly excited about the places it’ll take me.

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Super huge thanks to The Phoblographer, who were so responsive and knowledgeable and friendly; they run a truly great site! (They also have a pretty excellent giveaway right now, check it out and enter here – you can win a Sony A7, like I’ve got, or comparable models from Olympus or Fujifilm.)  Snapsort can be really useful, too, if you’re in the market for a new camera or lens.

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What else is new? My French and Equine Nutrition classes ended last week, so I jumped right in to some beginner coding classes. I’m pretty excited about learning JavaScript and jQuery. (I had to tell the tomboy to slow her roll; she thinks it’s so awesome that I’m learning to code and gets really excited – she wants me to learn Ruby next, then Objective-C, and then she wants me to make a makeup app I’ve been trying to get her to make for years. Lord have mercy!)

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In non-geeky updates, the ground should be thawed enough to get back in the saddle next week, at long last, so I’m back in barre classes and will probably tie on the trainers to get myself (and those horses) in some semblance of riding shape again. Maybe I’ll even get the hang of lunging those beasts (it is harder than it looks). I can’t wait for my first spring hack in the woods! All alone, birds singing, sun shining, flora lush and new again.

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‘Toothpick’ Corduroys – J. Crew | Silk Blouse – Everlane | ‘Havana’ Clutch – J. Crew | Nude Wedges – BCBGeneration (similar here and here) | Fanned Raffia Necklace – Anthropologie

That’s it – such a simple, comfortable outfit! Here are some random bits and nuggets in case you need additional reading material over the weekend:

Be back soon! Have a wonderful first weekend of spring! CHIRP CHIRP!

XOXO,
FFAF




SBJ @ 12:23 AM

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Heart Over Heels | March 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

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New England has me on my knees, y’all. It’s still too icy and frozen to ride. We did our taxes over the weekend and it wasn’t pretty (hey, at least we got to file jointly at the federal level for the first time). DST happened. This persistent sinus-cold-winter-misery thing neither the tomboy nor myself have been able to shake yet. It snowed again this morning. Blech.

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Thank goodness for the little things, like impromptu tapas dates, homemade Sunday brunches, being regaled with tales of the kiddo’s epic trip to DC, hair glosses and face masks (have you tried Murad’s Intensive-C Radiance Peel? It’s fantastic!), trusty old gin, and gripping TV series finales (True Detective and Looking, in case you’re curious).

And a tomboy who gives the kind of comfort that seeps into a girl’s chilled bones and her tender little heart.
And good friends, who are doing incredible and inspiring things, and whose joy warms me up and brings me joy.
And new apps! I’m completely addicted to Duolingo, it’s so much fun and I’m totally killing it.

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Next week, spring will find us! I can’t wait for April, once the snow melts and all our tulips and hyacinth and daffodils come screaming up from our  garden. Posts will start looking more like this and this! In the meantime, I’m posting some outtakes from the shoot I did for the Autostraddle Spring Layering post at the end of February, along with details and tidbits about the adorable Modcloth pieces I wore!

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Of course I much prefer the shorts version of this outfit (below), but for a warmer or more casual look, swapping shorts for jeans and heels for flats work like a charm. It’s just a lovely soft, flirty outfit for a low-key day.

Jeans – Hudson Collin | ‘South Florida Spree’ Top in Pink Hearts – Modcloth | Blazer – H&M Conscious Collection (similar) | Nude Flats – BCBG (similar here and here) | Pave Necklace – Michael Kors | ‘On the Town’ Earrings – Kate Spade (similar here) | ‘Irving Place Little Nadine’ Bag – Kate Spade (similar)

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Take a stroll through a botanical garden in this number. It’s also the perfect thing to wear to a Third Thursday at the spellbinding Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on a warm night. Many a time I’ve come close to parting ways with these patent blue babies, but I’m glad I held on to them – they’re comfortable, a unique shade of blue and really make the shorts sing.

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Please ignore the pallor of my gams and instead revel in the shine of the pumps and the floral embroidery in Electric Youth hues. I also love the overlapping envelope hem, it plays nicely with my tattoo, which reminds me that no matter where I live, I’ll always be a California girl. Bonus: The wicker clutch has a blue patent leather details!

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The top is sleeveless, which is great again with jeans or pencil skirts, on its own or layered under cardigans, blazers, or denim. I’m going to try the shorts out eventually with a long-sleeved navy Breton stripe top, a loose-knit Fisherman sweater in a nice, creamy shade and with a silk blouse from Everlane. I desperately wish they came in a simple black – I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of black shorts for a while now.

‘Flowery Frolic’ Shorts – Modcloth | ‘South Florida Spree’ Top in Pink Hearts – Modcloth | Blazer – H&M Conscious Collection (similar) | Blue Pumps – love this Topshop pair with texture, and a budget-friendly peep-toe option | Pave Necklace – Michael Kors | Gold Bracelets – Madewell + Anthropologie | Havana Clutch – J. Crew (still available in black) | Nail Polish – Zoya ‘Marley’

OK, so I am lens-less because I felt the 55mm was a better fit for me than the 35mm, so fingers crossed that the 55m is here by the end of the week. I’ll get the crazy cat lady outtakes up ASAP, though – who else saw that the ‘Pretty as a Purr-trait’ skirt, a Modcloth exclusive, is on the season finale of The Mindy Project?

XOXO,
FFAF




SBJ @ 5:52 PM

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Winter Breton | February 28, 2014 | Comments (5)

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It’s been a hot minute, but I’m back! It took a week for my new baby to get to me, and another week for me to get confident enough with it to start posting some photos. Confident isn’t quite the word, but we’re getting to know each other. The biting cold is back (or hasn’t it left? I’m losing track and possibly brain cells due to deep freeze).

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So you’re all getting to know my living room a little bit better. Which can be fun! This frame, which once served as a wedding day prop (inspired not by wedding blogs or Pinterest boards but by long-ago shenanigans with some wonderfully rowdy locals in delicious Old San Juan), now holds a California flag area rug textile.

We don’t have these ornate radiators back in the bay, so this daybed is a favorite warming spot for both our kittens – the petite and Gunny. That pillow is my favorite, ‘Equus’ from Thomas Paul, and I got it from One Kings Lane for a song. I’ve wanted to put a nice long driftwood shelf under the flag for awhile, stacked with reminders from home – a massive candle that belonged to my aunt and which I only burn on very special days, fresh lilac and jasmine bunches, painted Mexican sugar skulls, a jar of sand from a friend’s makeshift Viking memorial at a state beach near Santa Cruz. I guess I’m waiting to find the right piece of driftwood!

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It’s important to have cozy reading nooks in a house. We’re a family of readers, and every once in awhile the petite will tell me I should read this or that YA pick of hers. This one is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. “You’ll like it, mom, he makes her a mix tape with Joy Division!” Sold!

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After receiving a few of their catalogs, I recently pulled the trigger on a Boden order. Have you heard of them? They seem like a fresh British version of J. Crew in a lot of ways, and their pencil skirts get a lot of love. A friend encouraged me to give ‘em a try and I’m so glad I did! I have a feeling the soft Breton shirts I’ve got will be three-season staples for years to come! They’re nice and light without being wimpy, and I’m excited to slip into one of their skirts or dresses next.

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What else is new? We celebrated my mom’s birthday from afar yesterday – she’s coming back this summer for more Cape Cod adventures and I couldn’t be more excited, so her birthday care package was full of goodies to help her get in the mood for summery fun, New England-style.

Tonight we’re off for an evening of dancing to celebrate another birthday with a friend, despite the cold, and I can’t wait. It’s been awhile and I really do start to climb the walls if I haven’t been dancing lately.

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Since this is the last day of February, spring really is just around the corner. You should take a peek at my spring layering tips at Autostraddle – I definitely embrace “cat fashion,” and maybe you will, too! In other Autostraddle news, if you’re headed to Camp Autostraddle this May, guess who you’ll see there? It’s finally happening! There are great things in the works, including one-on-one style sessions and a Queer Moms panel, so I hope I get to see some of your lovely faces there.

Jeans – J. Crew Toothpick | Breton Top – Boden | Blazer – H&M Conscious Collection (similar) | Nude Wedges – BCBGeneration (similar here and here) | Necklace – Marc by Marc Jacobs (earrings) | Nail Polish – Zoya Caitlin

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

XOXO,
FFAF

PS. We’re having a low-key Oscar night this year – just a few close pals, a big fire, lots of popcorn and PAJAMAS. Cozy.

Here’s a sobering reminder about the Academy Awards’ completely unacceptable diversity gap – it’s definitely something to keep in mind while you’re enjoying the red carpet fashion and all the other rigmarole around it:




SBJ @ 5:54 PM

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Love at first shot… | February 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

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By Sunday, M was all antsy and climbing the walls and wanted out of the house. I really didn’t think it was a good idea, but she said she was feeling better and wanted to go with me to do some research on new cameras.

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After nearly five years with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, it is definitely time for an upgrade. I’ve picked up a new lens every other year or so, which kept me happy and growing as an amateur, but late last year I began to seriously consider switching to DSLRs proper – going back and forth between models like the Canon EOS 70D and Nikon D7100.

Then I found Sony’s A7, an absolutely splendid little machine with a not-so-little price tag.

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Where the Sony’s very respectable NEX-6 and NEX-7 offerings are less expensive, and the NEX-6 in particular is still a really great camera, both of them are a bit clumsily designed and clearly lack the power of the A7 or A7r. The NEX-7 took the side-by-side photos of my boots and M’s boots a bit further up; the A7r took the single boot shot right above – what a difference! I expect some difficulty switching systems after six years, but it was super frustrating to control either NEX model. To be fair, and because I have several Lumix lenses, I gave the GX7 a whirl, too – it’s  really pretty, but I’ve definitely outgrown it.

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So I picked up the A7r and felt like it melted right into who I am as a human being, like I held it and it became this organic thing that was an extension of myself. I know that sounds dramatic, but it was an amazing feeling. It just made sense. And look, it made me smile like this!

So we pulled the trigger on an A7, which has a 24.3MP full frame sensor compared to the A7r’s 36.3MP (which I honestly don’t need and can’t justify the additional cost of), and it’ll be on my doorstep tomorrow. I am so giddy and excited I can’t stand it. Tomorrow! In the meantime, I’m nursing M, who is back to feeling icky but is really enjoying the bonus chapter of The Last of Us on her PS3. These tiny lesbians curse way too much but they also play truth-or-truth, which is creepy because I thought that was a thing I invented for drunken late night Lake Merritt shenanigans back in 2006!

THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME IT’LL BE THROUGH A CARL ZEISS LENS ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG.

XOXO,
FFAF




SBJ @ 1:39 PM

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