Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Quick One...Sorta

We've been in the midst of dealing with our property management company, getting everything set to move into a newly upgraded unit in the same community. It's a total pain, of course (even though they're much better than the old company), but I think it'll be worth it. We finally move tomorrow! So exciting, I'll be posting pictures of the new place soon. One of the best things is we get a washer/dryer combo actually in our apartment. You never know how much you'll miss something until it's gone, right? ;) Luckily the one we liked is literally just across the street, so moving should go pretty quickly. Thank Thor for friends with big arms who are willing to help with the heavy pieces!

I just love the chance to start fresh like that, wipe the slate clean. As much as I'm a person of habit, changing my environment every so often is a must. Even if it's just something small, I have to do it otherwise I start feeling...I don't know, antsy. At any rate, I'm also looking forward to having more wall space so that I can hang more of my own work. Yay! And redecorating, always feels good to do that. Speaking of which, have to share a few things I ordered in anticipation of them move from Urban Outfitters. Like this lovely jewelry tree:
And to go with it, a necklace stand too (I have a lot of necklaces just screaming to be let out of the bottom of my jewelry box!):
And to round it out, an earring stand:
All three for about $65! Not too shabby!

A New Way to Indulge

In other news, a much-anticipated new web store has officially opened its doors today, called Prima Hybrid. It's one of the first of it's kind to offer traditional/paper, hybrid and digital products all in one place. In the last year or so the two "worlds" have been coming together more, and even personally I've started branching out into the hybrid world, like making custom composition books (by creating a cover using digital products, printing out, gluing and trimming) and actually buying stamps and ink! *gasp* Crazy for me, I know, but I'm actually getting into it. For a girl who loves her office supplies so much, it's a miracle this didn't happen sooner.

So to celebrate the grand opening they're having a big ol' sale, and I indulged myself since a bunch of my fave designers have been recruited to sell there, and many created brand new products only available there. Such as Weeds and Wildflowers, I'm so in love with this kit:
I also couldn't resist these buttons, they remind me of the jars we inherited from my grandmother!
Also couldn't resist this gorgeous collaboration kit by Gina Marie Huff (aka part of Weeds & Wildflowers) and Vera Lim. Here's Vera's papers for the kit, soooo stunning:
Between the two of them its a huge kit, and totally worth it!

New Pages

Got a few more pages done (luckily the mojo is sticking with me), including the following two page spread - my very first!
Don't know why I never tried a two-pager before, but Penny's templates honestly just made it so much easier. Plus it's a great way to scrap a bunch of photos from the same event without making things seem overcrowded. Anyway, credits for them can be found here.

Here also is one using this awesome photo of Chris' parents that I couldn't pass up using!Credits are here.

I also started Jessica Sprague's "Now We're Rocking with Photoshop" online class last Monday, and it's proving to be one of the best investments I've ever made! Only $50 for a four-week course, where you have a walk-through online "lecture" (video) and assignment each week. Plus she emails you encouragment, tips, coupons, etc every day! So worth it. I've been doing digiscrap for a year and 1/2, but it still pays to see exactly how an expert does it. You never know what you're doing the "long" way!

Thus far I've done three pages - two assignments and an extra challenge. I love how the challenge page turned out, using a free kit that the Sweet Shoppe Designers made special for Jessica's students!
Credits for it can be found here.

And last but not least, I love how this page turned out. I made it as part of the Saturday Scraplift challenge over at Designer Digitals, because I couldn't pass up the chance to blatantly copy such a gorgeous design! ;)Credits are right here.

Well, that just about does it - now off to do more packing!

Quote of the moment: "Learning to live in the present moment is part of the path of joy." ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Mojo is Back!

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays I just wasn't really feeling like scrapping anything, and then all of sudden, last week it came flooding back. I haven't been able to stop! It doesn't hurt that I participated in a few "challenges" to help get me inspired, but still.

First, here's Bittersweet Joy:Had to do something with that photo of Chris in a kilt, even if it was for a somber occasion! Credits can be found here.

Then, I finally found a kit I wanted to use for this photo of my parents that I've been meaning to scrap since I took it!I used Penny Springmann's Be Mine kit. I'm not usually that "girly" when it comes to scrapping, but this time it just seemed appropriate. :) Full credits can be found here.

Then there's this one of Chris and I, which is an "outtake" from our Christmas card photo shoot. Of course, I used Lightroom to edit it, and I really like how it turned out (in just one click! LOL).
Credits can be seen here.

Then yesterday I managed to churn out two in one day. First, I couldn't resist using this great photo of Chris' grandmother, Kae.
Isn't she sweet? Credits can be found here.

And I also couldn't resist using this photo of Ted E. that I took a few weekends ago. (I just love how Kelsey's preset turned out on the photo!)
I used a kit that I've had my eye on for months now, the Letterpress Collection by Keri Schueller. Such gorgeous colors! All the credits for this page are here.

Last but not least, I finally scrapped about Ken's Big Adventure. Finally, a chance to use bright colors! :)Full credits are here.


I also started yoga classes "for real" this week, and it's awesome! So incredibly relaxing, and already its helping me become more aware of how tense I am without even realizing it. Got to learn to chill out! I really loved the class I went to last night, Viniyoga, which is more breathing-focused. I'm sore in places that I haven't been for a long time, but its a good kind of sore! :) This weekend I'm back there for the beginner-specific classes that are much smaller and will make sure I'm doing the poses right. Long-term goals are better strength/limberness (if that's a word) and more control over my breathing - asthma or no asthma!

We Loves A Sale

If any of you ever shop at Ann Taylor Loft, now is the time! They're having a seriously awesome sale! Went in there last night looking for work pants. Didn't find any work pants (of course), but I did get a super cute LBD dress for $30 that was originally $130 (not even on their website anymore!), a cute raw silk cropped jacket for $30 - yes, seriously - and a few tops for $20 each! I guess it was my night for some retail therapy!

This Weekend

Looking forward to hanging out with Roseann tonight, and taking Jacopo to Irvine Regional Park on Sunday morning. Hopefully the winds don't blow out of control again!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Quote of the moment: "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it." ~Jonathan Winters

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

10 Things

I think it's about time I did anther round of (cue music):

10 Things Making Me Happy (Right Now)
  1. My new zoom lens. Now I know what you're thinking, "A new lens already??" But hear me out - the lens I got initially is a 50mm fixed lens, aka no zoom. For most instances, it works great! But if I'm trying to fit a lot of things in the frame and can't back up any more, I'm stuck. Or if I want to photograph something without it's knowing (i.e. pets), that's tough. So on and so forth. Besides, a standard photographer's kit includes at least 2 lenses, depending on what you photograph the most. Just ask Scott Kelby. ;-) So I finally decided on the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 zoom lens. I hardly had a chance to really test it out Tuesday night, but so far it's handling great!!
  2. Adobe Lightroom. I had heard about this program before, but finally decided to download the free trial after people started raving about how quick and easy it makes photo editing. And I have to say I agree!! Definitely going to invest in this one (using a student discount, of course). It has one-click presets that are either built in or there are tons you can download all over the internet, which can yield stunning results that would have taken me a LOT longer in Photoshop. There are certain things you can't do, such as remove imperfections, whiten teeth, or blur messy backgrounds, but it definitely streamlines the whole process. Plus the presets are totally customizable - they could take just one click, and/or you could modify the effects yourself. Here's a few examples of the same photo with different presets applied (from Kelsey Smith and Traci Reed) that I did the other night (click image for larger version):
  3. A moving possibility. We're in talks with our property managers to move to a fully upgraded apartment instead of renewing the lease on our current place. Very exciting! Those of you who have visited know our place could use some spiffing up. :) The one we're looking at is in the units across the street, has its own washer & dryer (huge improvement!!), everything has been gutted and redone, and just a slightly different floorplan that I actually like better. The increase in rent will be minimal, for what we're getting (plus we were due for an increase anyway with the renewal), and I'd really like to stay in the area as long as it's feasible. Plus, in terms of my current photography cravings, it's on the second floor so we get more/better light, and it has more wall space so I can start hanging my own stuff instead of somebody else's! ;-) Jeez, I've gone off the deep end now.
  4. A charitable contribution. Granted, it was only $8, but I still feel it's a nice way to start the year! It was through this awesome digital scrapbooking shop that started last year called Songbird Avenue. It's run by two super designers, Jan Crowley and Meredith Fenwick, and every month they create a big scrapbooking kit along with a guest designer and all the funds go to a charity of the guest's choosing. I've bought kits from them before, but when I saw this month's I had to get it right then and there! Their guest is Shabby Miss Jenn, another designer I really like, and her charity is the Lupus Foundation of America. Check out how cute it is:
    Right? Now go make some donations! :)
  5. "Ghosthunters" is back! Except our cable box and internet have been down since Wednesday, so I don't think it recorded the premiere last night. So that's not making me happy! But I'm sure I'll be able to catch one of the repeats. Such a cool show to watch, if you're into that kind of thing.
  6. Aaron Brothers' 1 Cent Sale. If you love having your photos out and framed, get over there now! Such an awesome sale. Not only do they have the "buy one, get one for one cent" thing going on, but they have many of them on sale to begin with. I stocked up on scrapbook frames, plus some basic black collage-style frames to start hanging more of my own photos. I filled one of them last night with photos of Jacopo (surprise) - between the Lightroom effects and the new Epson photo paper I got, they looked awesome.
  7. One+One. Its a new inspiration blog that some gals in the digiscrap community started up, and so far I've really loved what they posted. It's just one little thing every day, but a really nice blog to check in on every once in a while when you need some eye candy.
  8. Books, books and more books. I'm practically surrounded by new books! They could each be a point on this list, I swear. I was given two gift cards to Barnes & Noble and two to Borders, and I've already used them all. Plus I ordered some (photography and scrapbooking) online through Ideabooks4u that I couldn't find in the store. I won't list them all, but some of the ones you guys might be interested include Cathy Zielske's Clean and Simple Scrapbooking-The Sequel (serious inspiration there!), Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure (a must-have according to many trusted sources, including Scott Kelby himself!), Laurie Notaro's The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club (for when you really just need a laugh, her other stuff makes my sides ache!), and one of my all-time faves, Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife. I read that one last year, and I couldn't stop thinking about it for days. Just amazing prose. I think its already been through several printings - not bad for your first fiction work. I can't wait for her to put out another book! But I had originally borrowed it from a friend, and I just had to finally get it for my own library. :) There were a bunch of others - darn Borders' buy one, get one half off table! They always have good ones! I'm sure I'll share if any are worth reading.
  9. Good deeds. Last night I helped a woman who works in the office next door jump-start her car. Lucky for her I have jumper cables (and know how to use them)! She didn't have cables or AAA - and that's just not right! You gotta have one or the other. :) I'm pretty sure I racked up some karma points, and that always feels good.
  10. Shopping with other people. It sounds silly, I know, but last weekend I did errands with my mom, and the weekend before that went shopping with my best friend at the post-Christmas sales, and I didn't realize until then how much I missed shopping with another woman! Usually I avoid malls and such on the weekends, so my shopping is done after work, alone. It was a truly welcome change to have such good company!
So what's making you happy? If you have to think more than 30 seconds, you need a break from whatever you're doing!!


Quote of the moment: "One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats." ~Iris Murdoch

Friday, January 4, 2008

Everyday Resolutions

Some people are really into making New Year's resolutions, and some never bother. For me, I'm always making mini (or short term) resolutions in my head; maybe it's something I want to read up about, something I've been meaning to get taken care of, etc. Right now there are several large-scale resolutions that at the forefront of my mental list, so I thought I'd share them with the world - maybe then I'll be totally successful at following through. :) [Besides, I'm the kind of person that does much better if I write my thoughts down that minute, otherwise it might not resurface for days/weeks!]
  1. Increase my photography knowledge & skills. I'm already on my way with the still-new digital SLR camera and lens, but got even more so by using gift cards to get more books, including Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson, and re-purchasing Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Book (since my parents lost the copy I lent them!). I also got a small reference book for my camera model in particular, kind of like an extended/easier to read version of the manual. And I just heard about a super inexpensive photography seminar that will be near me in mid-February called "Captivated by the Light" that I'm considering going to. Anybody with me?
  2. Get my butt off the couch! Granted, the pup keeps me fairly active but I can feel my winter lethargy catching up with me (I really hate doing dog walks in the dark!). Due to my allergies and asthma I can't even consider going back to soccer, so I'm going to a free yoga beginner's/intro class at a local studio next weekend, and I'm pretty sure it'll be something that really works for me. Not only do I want to be more active, but I also want to work on getting better control of my breathing.
  3. Get back to school, or at least do more about getting there. I just miss it! Not only is my day job a constant reminder of what I really want to do, but I also miss the intellectual stimulation. Reading can only take you so far - classes push you to think more.
  4. Journaling. I was inspired by the fantabulous Cathy Zielske when she mentioned this on her blog, and it went along with thoughts I'd been having lately anyways. When I was younger (high school and younger) I would write at least every other day, and lately I've been really missing that. Not that I can do that much these days! But once every couple of months isn't great either. The words are only the half of it for me - the physical act of writing is also theraputic for me. So I definitely want to make sure to journal at least once a week, even if it's only a few lines.
In other news, I've finally had some time to sit down and upload my (good) photos from Christmas! Christmas Eve was spent with my family (since we celebrate the Scandinavian way), with all our crazy traditions. Something new my mom started this year was a photo booth of sorts, where she had a point-and-shoot camera set up on a tripod on the patio ("lucky" for us, in SoCal that day it was about 70 degrees) and let people take photos as they pleased. Then Roseann (my brother's girlfriend) had the genius idea of people wearing antler headbands (yes boys, you were conned into wearing headbands!) and doing funny photos. Then Christmas Day was spent with Chris's family, which works out nicely. We do gifts with just his immediate family, then his dad goes to pick up Grandma Kae and we do gifts with her, and then we loll around until it's time for Christmas dinner. Nothing too stressful (except the day before Christmas Eve, when I was trying to do all my wrapping in one shot!), but exhausting all the same! At least it's the good kind of exhausting. All of my photos, plus the "booth" ones, can be found in a set here. And for those of you wish less time on your hands, here are a few of my faves (some not even Christmas-y, go figure):
(We actually baked all the cookies and such on Saturday, but of course I have to include those too!)
That's it for now darlings, I do believe I've gotten enough done on this rainy Friday night! :) Ta!

Quote of the moment: "Take chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave." ~Mary Tyler Moore