January 27, 2012

NYC With My Nikon

I am sitting at O'Hare airport waiting to board my flight to New York City. It's 6 a.m. I got up at 4:45.
I am travelling solo on this trip, and while I will miss Mike terribly, I am excited about the companion I will have in tow: my camera.
The truth is that I have been doubting my photography skills as of late. I feel like I'm doing it all wrong. And while I know that is irrational, that is how I feel.
So I am using this weekend to bond with my camera, to reaquaint myself with its quirks, to find its sweet spots. The great thing is that aside from an opera at The Met tonight (!!!) and a dinner tomorrow night, my time is my own. I can go where I want to go and see what I want to see and no one is going to tell me differently. With a backdrop as inspiring as NYC, I am thinking my camera and I will be fast friends again in no time.

January 15, 2012

How To Spend A Sunday Afternoon

Two of my favorite things to do are take pictures and play with my dog.

Today was a good day.
_DSC6986w _DSC7005w _DSC6997w _DSC7031w _DSC7020w DSC_3108w _DSC7013w _DSC7060w _DSC7063w DSC_2989w _DSC7070w DSC_3061w DSC_3072w

January 8, 2012

On Birthdays and Fame

One of the 2011 goals I set for myself fizzled out around August. It was my photo a day challenge. I actually did take a photo pretty much every day, but getting the photos off my camera(s) and posted on a regular basis was far too much work once we moved and my photo biz picked up.

Even though I still haven't posted many of my 365 photos, one of the great things about that goal was that it got me into a practice of taking photos on a daily basis. 2011 may be over, but I've found that I've continued taking a photo every day in the New Year. Thank goodness because this past week was worth remembering

My birthday was January 4 (as it is every year), so Mike and I made sure our Christmas decorations were down by then. We spent Jan. 2 de-Christmasing our house.


My mom made a habit of doing this every year to make sure that my birthday actually felt like my birthday instead of an extension of Christmas. And since it was my birthday this week, I got a couple nice surprises.
It doesn't get much better for a girl than cupcakes and flowers. (Flowers were courtesy of Mike, the cupcake was courtesy of my friend/co-worker Nicole.)

I bought myself a most excellent birthday present this year on my actual birthday. I have a very dear and very talented friend who has spent the past several years studying vocal performance and performing in Toronto. This winter, he's performing in an opera stateside, and I bought a ticket to visit him in New York City and see him for his opening night performance - at The Met no less. I am over the moon excited for this trip.

On Friday night, Mike took me out to a delicious Italian birthday dinner, since my actual birthday was on a Wednesday. We went to a place in our new neighborhood that we hadn't tried yet, and I think it is safe to say we might become regulars. It was that good. I am still thinking about the pork tenderloin I ate.

Mike and I spent most of Saturday getting ready for company and then entertaining said company. I decided it was high time for us to have a get together at our new place. We had about a dozen people over and as always, I made way too much food. Thankfully a lot of it was veggies and fruit based so I can justify gorging myself on the leftovers.

All the activity of yesterday means we've laid kind of low today. Taylor is especially tired. It's hard being cute for that many people.

Speaking of my dog, he's been featured on this blog enough for you to know he's quiet photogenic. Case-in-point, I took the photo below this morning in our backyard.

Well last weekend, I got an email from the director of the rescue that saved Taylor. She asked if I had any photos of Taylor on a white background. She mentioned they were redoing the website and needed photos. I told her I could get her one thanks to the wonders of Photoshop. So I send her a photo, she sent me the mockup of the new site and lo and behold, Taylor is front and center. Check it out:
He's famous! But don't you worry, we are not letting fame go to his head. We still only feed him steak every other night.

So that was my week. A pretty good way to start out 2012 if I do say so myself.

January 2, 2012

The Year That Was

As I sit back and reflect on this past year, I honestly don't know where to begin. It's common practice at the end of one year to reflect on all that it brought and that's why I don't really know what to say about 2011. It threw me for a loop.

At the end of my 2011 Resolutions post, I wrote this: "Here's to a new year full of surprises we haven't even dreamed up yet." And that is exactly how I would classify this year - full of surprises.

In 2011, I:
- Moved into a new home - one with a backyard! Mike and I found out our new home looks spectacular decorated for Christmas.

- Survived a blizzard that shut down the city of Chicago for a couple days.

- Got a promotion at work. It wasn't a position that existed at my firm before. It was something I thought I could do, I wanted to do it, so I asked if I could. It's amazing how much you can get in life just by asking for what you want.

- Got invisalign (only two months left!)

- Took a ton of photos. I couldn't tell you how many but I can tell you that I had more shoots this year than I've ever had. I photographed everything from families of 11 people to dogs in costume. And I took some photos that I am really damn proud of.

- Made enough money from my photography business to purchase the computer of my dreams.

- I traveled to New Orleans, Wisconsin, Michigan and spent an extended weekend near Philly with some of my favorites ladies in the whole wide world.

- Got engaged. (!!!) That was by far the biggest and best surprise. And even more surprising is that it's not anything I have ever mentioned on my blog before.

Mike proposed on our trip to New Orleans in February, and while I mentioned our New Orleans trip on this blog (here and here) I never actually got around to writing about the proposal, which is a shame because it was by far my best moment of 2011 - one of the best moments of my life actually. I tried to write about it several times, but every time I sat down the words failed me. It was too big, too precious, too perfect, too unreal that I never found the words to adequately convey how I felt in the moment. It was a moment I tried to imagine for a good three years, and when it finally happened it was more wonderful than I had anticiapted. Just how do you write about the moment when your hopes and dreams turn into a glorious, beautiful reality?

And for the record, the proposal was perfect. It was like a scene out of a movie mainly because it was in a place that has been used as a backdrop for movies. Case in point:


While Mike and I were in New Orleans we drove out to an old southern plantation called Oak Alley. It was a 60 degree day with a bluebird sky overhead and not a cloud in sight. As we walked among the 400 year old oak trees, trees so massive their limbs grew down into the ground and back up, Mike got down on one knee, asked me to marry him and then gave me the most gorgeous ring I have ever laid my eyes on. I of course said yes.

To sum up, I was given this:

And I was given it here:
So yes, it was great. And words still escape me.

As fantastic as that was though, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the general state of restlessness and anxiousness I felt this year. Trying to buy a house is a lot of work. Moving is a lot of work. Trying to plan a wedding is a lot of work. Trying to run a successful part time business on top of a full time job is a lot. And I did it all.

Right after we got engaged, we put in an offer on the house. And all those months we spent waiting on the house, we put off a lot of plans. We couldn't very well give deposits to wedding vendors knowing that at any moment we'd be withdrawing a significant amount from our savings to close on a house. We couldn't book a week long vacation anywhere knowing that we could possibly have to cancel it if we needed to close on a house at the end of the month. It was frustrating to say the least. So that's why after five months of waiting around, we decided to wait on the house no more and moved on with our lives. Moving on with our lives meant moving into a new house and that was right about the time that my photo shoots really started picking up and they didn't let up until December.

I feel like I have been running nonstop since August. I've generally been tired and cranky. Just ask Mike. Really only these past few days have I begun to feel the stress lifting. The holidays are over. I only have two shoots left to edit. For the most part, Mike and I are settled into the house. Our routines are established. Wedding plans are beginning to fall into place. It's a good feeling, one that I hope continues into 2012.

If 2011 was the year of surprises I couldn't even dream of, I really hope 2012 is the year of balance. I still will have a wedding to plan (and get married at!), a full time job and my photography business, so my plate will runneth over. But if I want to make it through this year still sane, I need to also take care of myself and my family. I want to not only get through 2012, but to enjoy it. I want to appreciate the small moments. I want to enjoy the big moments, and I want to create many moments that leave me happy, content and fulfilled.So to you I say, here's to a year of enjoying many things, big and small.