January 30, 2011

Project 365: Week Four

Apparently this is the only kind of blog post I write now a days. It's not that I don't have other things to post about. I do. My dog ate my glasses last week. That is some prime blog fodder right there. But I didn't write about that, and now I feel the moment has passed. Mainly because I ordered a new pair of glasses on Saturday, so clearly I have moved on.

This past week also has moved on. And it moved rather quickly. I can't really believe it's Sunday night already. But it is. And before I know it, I am going to be smack dab in the middle of a busy Monday. But before I find myself there, here's a look at my past week.

Day 24: Post Work Walk
Day 25: Colorful
Day 26: Living in the 312
Day 27: Pancake Party
Day 28: Looking down
Day 29: Radar
Day 30: Nap Time

January 23, 2011

Project 365: Week Three

It was another crazy work week, so my photos weren't nearly as inspired as I had hoped they would be. I do wish there were a way to carry around my fancy camera and get the kind of artistic shot I'd like to take on a daily basis. But I just know that isn't feasible. And I keep reminding myself that looking back it's the collection as a whole that I'm going to love so I should be able to overlook the few that aren't as technically perfect as I'd like.

This week did have one major high. Mike and I booked a flight and a hotel room for an extended weekend in New Orleans. I've never been, and Mike hasn't been since he was a teen. I am incredibly excited to get away for a few days, to sleep in, not worry about taking care of the animals, to not answer work emails I don't have time to answer, to not spend my weekend cleaning and to consume a ridiculous amount of delicious, high caloric food. But more than anything I'm excited to capture the city with my lens. Creatively speaking, it should be a goldmine for me. I can guarantee that week's photos are going to be good.

Day 17: Picasso
Day 18: Headache
Day 19: Rolling  (with accompanying video)
Day 20: Knit
Day 21: My Favorite View
Day 22: Nano Sushi
Day 23: Frog Dog

January 16, 2011

Project 365: Week Two

This week was a lot of work. I put in a lot of hours at work and then came home to work on my house. But I ended the week with a dent in my work to do list and a freshly painted and redecorated second bedroom. I'll take it.

Day 10: Small and Stealthy
Day 11: Today It Snowed
Day 12: Retro
Day 13: Almost the Highlight of My Day
Day 14: Self Reflection
Day 15: Stained Glass
Day 16: Man Cave

January 9, 2011

Project 365: Week One

I used to be a very avid journal writer. I have about a dozen or more in storage that are filled with my teenage to twenty-something ramblings. And without them, there's a good chance I'd forget most if not all of what happened during those years of my life. You see, I have a terrible memory. (Just ask Mike.) I think that's why I've found doing this photo a day challenge has been really fun so far. I know looking back on these photos years from now that they will help me to remember some great times I otherwise would have forgotten. Although this week was pretty memorable, as it was the week I turned thirty.

Here is my first week's collection of photos. I'm keeping the entire set on Flickr, so the links below will take you there, which provides background into the reasons behind these shots. And just for reference, the numbers on the photos corresponds to the day of my 365 project. I've got a long way to go, but I am currently very hopeful that I can actually do this.

Day 2: Vivian Elle Invitations
Day 3: Bleak and Blustery
Day 4: Birthday cupcake
Day 5: Habits
Day 6: Spanish souvenir
Day 7: Flowers from my parents
Day 8: Home Renovations
Day 9: Old Folks Alley (it's photo set, because together these shots are better than the sum of their parts)

January 4, 2011


I let it be known every year that I could not be more displeased with the actual date of my birthday. It falls after a very busy holiday season making it a forgotten day. And truth be told, if it were not my own birthday I would probably spend every January 4 doing a whole lot of nothing.

As it's my birthday though, I always feel pressured to do something. Some years I let that feeling slip by. Last year I honeslty didn't do a thing. Given that this year's birthday is one ending in a zero, I felt I could not repeat my inactivity. So this coming Saturday handful of my close friends and co-workers and I will partake of beer and curry fries (my favorite!) at a local bar.

With Saturday's plans set, I didn't think of much for my actual birthday. Well my friends and family did. Between the voice mails, text messages, Facebook shout outs, Twitter mentions, virtual e cards and my friend Jenny's attempt to say Happy Birthday in every way possible, I truly felt loved. My family also outdid themselves. I received flowers from my parents and cupcakes from my sister - both delivered to my work. The cupcakes went over particularly well. And my man, well he made me a delicious dinner and did all the dishes. That's one of the ways we say I love you to one another. We take care of the perpetual mess that is our kitchen.

I am ending this first day of my new decade feeling very blessed, blessed that even though my birth date may not be the best, the people I surround myself with certainly are.

January 1, 2011

Two Zero One One, Here I Come

I ended 2010 feeling simultaneously restless and exhausted. Something about this past few months of work and dog care and photos and attempts to balance it all left me incredibly unmotivated and yet wanting so much more. It's a terrible feeling to want to be doing so much but lack the motivation to tackle anything. It resulted in a lot of to do lists with nothing crossed off. Hence my 2011 goals list was at one point about 10 items long - double what I wanted it to be. So I gave it some thought, came home last night and whittled that list down to five things.

Before I list them, I feel like I should explain their purpose. Most of my 2010 goals were photography focused. I did them with them the hope that this past year would be the one where I made the jump to full-time photographer. But something happened in 2010 that I didn't count on. I started a new full-time job that I actually love, and slowly but surely (and after some soul searching), I became convinced that I'm actually happy right now with photography as a hobby - a hobby that affords me buying fancy new photography equipment.

With photography no longer my singular purpose, I actually wanted to introduce a little more balance in my life. I wanted goals which I thought would be more fulfilling as a whole to my life instead of being so focused on one aspect of it. And I think that's why I started feeling restless at the end of this year. There were all these other areas of my life I felt were lacking, so in 2011, I'll focus on those.

Goal 1: Workout
Last year, my contract ended on my gym and I opted not to renew. There's a gym I can use for free at my office, so I saw no point in paying for another one - one that I barely used. But the thing is I barely use the one at my work either. I do miss working out, so my plan is this. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I can stay later at work, I'm going to use my lunch hour to fit in a quick 20 minute work out (30 if I can). And the other days of the week, when I have to walk Taylor in the mornings, I'm going to start running with him to the park. I walk him there now, so if I start running him there it gives me a little extra calorie burn. And I don't have to alter my schedule, I'm just going to start making better use of my time.

Goal 2: No more fast food meat
This is a carry over of sorts from last year. I did better about grocery shopping for ethically-raised meat, but I didn't do as well when I ate out. I want to stop giving money to corporations that treat animals as nothing more than dollar signs on their bottom line. If I do eat out, I want to make sure that what I order, does not contain meat unless it is advertising that the meat is local, organic and ethically raised. Thankfully there is the best sandwich shop ever steps from my work that has this exact philosophy in mind. I love you Hannah's.

Goal 3: Less money on clothes
I spend a lot of money on clothes, accessories and shoes. According to Mint.com, it's the budget item I'm most likely to overspend on. I'm not proud of it. I'd like to make better use of my money in 2011 (hopefully by throwing it at a house), so this is one area I know I can monitor and control easily. I'm setting a goal to not spend more than $100 a month on clothes, shoes or accessories - basically anything to outfit myself. Even that seems ridiculous to type because I realize that amount would be a complete luxury to most, but it's something I think I can achieve and is actually a reduction for me. Again, I'm not proud of this but it is what it is.

Goal 4: Ambiance dinners
My parents came to Chicago for a wedding in October. That Saturday night that they were in town, Mike and I made them dinner. As we set the table, my mom started asking where the place settings and candles and fancy napkins were. Mike and I had the candles but nothing else. We ate on mismatched places with mismatched silverware. So for Christmas, my parents got Mike and I proper place settings - table mats, napkins, napkin rings, candles - the works. I love them, and I want to start using them on a regular basis. Because the other thing my parents impressed upon Mike and I was the importance of sitting down to a nice meal on a regular basis. She and my dad do it often, and they've been married for more than 30 years. I figure this is one piece of advice I should take. So that's it. Mike and I are going to have weekly ambiance dinners. 

Goal 5: Photo a day
Lexi, this one is for you. I have toyed with the idea of doing the photo a day for a year challenge before. And I've always loved the idea of doing it, I just didn't think I'd have the commitment to stick through with it. And I'm still not sure if I do, but I guess we'll see. Lexi did help me see that I don't need to be lugging around my fancy camera everyday. I have a decent camera on my phone, and a small point and shoot that's pretty portable. Not every shot needs to be of the best quality. Sometimes, just getting the shot is good enough. So I'm doing this. I hope this goal will help me stay creative and challenged with my photography throughout this year, while also serving as a great way to document my year.

I do know though that there's no way I'm going to be able to post a photo every single day. I don't turn on my laptop every night. So what I'll do it take a photo every day and do a weekly collage of my shots. Here's my first one, a self-portrait taken on 1.1.11.

Here's to a new year full of surprises we haven't even dreamed up yet.

2010 Goals: Revisited

Before jumping into all I plan to do in 2011, please allow me to review what I set out to do last year and how I fared with all my aspirations. (To see the purpose behind my goals, see this post.)

Goal number one: Take 10,000 photos
Done. Knocked this one out of the park. In October I met and surpassed this goal. I have no idea what my actual total ended up being because honestly, keeping track of my photo totals was a pain in the ass. I am happy knowing that I exceeded my goal. I don't need to know by how much.

Goal number two: Get on WBEZ photo of the day.
This didn't happen. I tried, I submitted a lot of photos to the WBEZ Flickr pool, but in all honesty, there are a lot of great photographers submitting to that pool. It's worth taking a look at. And the WBEZ stream did favorite my stream, so it was a step in the right direction, but not a goal met. I'll keeping submitting photos and see if it happens some day.

Goal number three: Attend six digital photography meet ups.
I attended two, and got great photos from both (seen here and here). But once spring hit, I was too busy with shoots and editing photos to take photos for leisure purposes. So no more meets-ups did I attend. Goal met? No, only one-third there.

Goal number four: Buy only ethically-raised meat.
This was one of those goals for which I started out with a lot of steam. I even wrote a couple posts on the subject, here and here. And I don't mean to say I stopped focusing on this, but I stopped getting preachy about it. I still kept this goal in mind, and I certainly changed some of my habits. I haven't bought brand name, big chain grocery store meat in over a year. I stopped buying any pre-made frozen lunches (think Lean Cuisine) with meat as an ingredient. On top of that, I have limited my meat intake when dining out and also tried to make more vegetarian than meat dishes for lunch and dinner. I consider this goal a win. I wasn't perfect, but I made some life changes in the right direction, changes that now seem a way of life and not a goal I'm striving for.

Goal number five: Touch my toes.
If anything I think I'm more inflexible now than I was last year. I totally forgot about this goal come February. Oh well. I guess my being inflexible isn't all that much of a hindrance since it didn't really affect me in 2010. Goal failed.

So that was 2010 in a nutshell. For 2011? Check back soon. I'm cooking up some things.