A New Look

So! I have been bored by the look of this site for a while, but until a few weeks ago, had no ideas or inspiration for how to re-imagine it. I knew it had to be stripe-ier, more colorful… and more current. Here’s what the site has looked like since about August 2011:
oldlook
Which was fine, but I have wanted something jazzier for a while. Luckily, stripes are not above my (very mediocre) Photoshop talent level.

Here’s the new look, if you’re viewing this from a feed reader:
newlook

Pam helped me out with some social media icons, which I re-colored. I updated the About page a bit, and added sidebar links to my current and recent projects (Project Life, my 52 weeks of no color photography project for 2013, as well as older projects like 30 Before 30 and Handmade52). I have also added links to a few of my favorite posts from years past, since I enjoy reading those on other blogs.

I overthink this blog, sometimes; I know I’m not a big fish, and I mostly write for myself. But just like Project Life is worth the energy because it’s about preserving memories, writing here is worth it for me for the same reason. And having a look I’m jazzed about just makes me want to be here more. And I really do want to be here.

Best Bet Ever?

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Dan and I are in the same fantasy football league, although this is my first year having my own team. Each time our teams play, we’ve set up side bets to make things more interesting. For the first matchup, if I had won, Dan would have had to take me to a restaurant I’ve always loved but he had no interest in, but if he won, I would have to not eat cheese for a whole week. He won, and I was not happy. But the second time we played each other (and by this point my team had established itself as pretty solid, thanks to Aaron Rodgers), we raised the stakes. Or, I did. If Dan won, I would have had to take him to see the Immortals. But if I won, he would have to go with me to a paint your own pottery place for an afternoon of craftiness. I wouldn’t be writing a whole post about it if he won, so clearly I won. Dan fought tooth and nail, and I twisted the knife by giving him the impression that it’d be HOURS of painting (as opposed to one, since you pay by the hour).

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We went a few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, and going during the Christmas season was the best thing, just because owning crappily painted Christmas decorations somehow makes more sense than attempting to paint something you’d actually use. (Although I do still use the toothbrush holder that I painted back in 2002.) Dan was pretty obviously unhappy when we got there, and the clerk at the store could totally tell that he’d been dragged there. He made sure to tell her that he lost a bet. I had a hard time, as usual, deciding what to paint, knowing I wanted to paint stripes, but also knowing how much imperfectly painted stripes would annoy me.

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Dan picked a wizard-ish Santa figurine after I pointed out that it would be awfully funny to bring it out every year and remember how he had to paint it because he lost a bet. I went with a giant mug, since I somehow only own one Christmas mug.

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It was so much fun, and although he’d never admit it, I’m pretty sure Dan didn’t hate it anywhere near as much as he expected he would. Not that he’s clamoring to go again anytime soon, or, you know, EVER… but it was really fun and different and if winning a bet is the only way I’d get him to go with me, I’ll totally take it.

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Week 40: Photo Safari

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A few months ago, I spotted a groupon for New York City Photo Safari, and it seemed way too cool to pass up. I was able to convince my friend Irma to sign up with me, and we picked a Saturday in October for our safari on the High Line. I was pretty concerned when I saw the forecast for Saturday, though, and with good reason, because as it turned out? We were walking the High Line with our cameras during Snowtober. We met for brunch first, and thought we were bundled pretty well (me in my rain boots and gortex nerd raincoat, and Irma in her winter coat and boots) until it started snowing in addition to the wind. We stopped for extra scarves, gloves, and hats before meeting with the Photo Safari group. I spent most of the days leading up to the safari worrying about how to keep my non-water resistant camera safe during torrential rain/snow. I ended up bringing a gallon ziploc bag and felt like a tool, but during the parts of our afternoon that weren’t under cover, I was really glad to have it.

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lines. or stripes, depending on who you ask.
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101.365 :: urban jungle
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I’m not really sure what I expected out of the experience, and I think part of that was that worry about the weather took over my brain before Saturday. Our guide explained a few rules, and we introduced ourselves, and then got down to business. We started out in a covered part of the High Line park, and focused on abstract concepts – first lines, and then curves. It was difficult at first, because getting feedback like “yes, but what’s interesting about that?” and “we’re not looking for STRAIGHT lines” was a bit strange. I wasn’t ever sure I understood what the goal was, just that I wasn’t quite getting it. After the abstract shots, we were instructed to put them together and keep composition in mind. Again, I got some that seemed good, and some that weren’t quite there. We then walked to a different part of the park, but it was so windy and our hands were sooo frozen and crampy, so we ended up heading to the Chelsea Market to shoot for a while indoors and out of the snow. Talk about a relief to be inside! At first I was just over it, the being told that I wasn’t there yet… (not that I think I’m perfect or anything) but I kept shooting and eventually everything just clicked. It’s hard to describe. I took a ton of photos of the same things over and over, and the guide was really complimentary about my progress from the beginning to the end.

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curves and raindrops
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I was disappointed that the weather impacted the day so much, just because we were limited to such a small portion of the High Line and our focus was so abstract that I still don’t feel like I saw it at all. Plus, it would have been so interesting to have more subjects to focus on during the projects. I do think, though, that I learned some things about composition and maybe even something so simple as taking different angles, because I often find myself focusing primarily on light. So I definitely got a lot out of it and am glad I went. Despite being freezing and soggy and super exhausted by the time I got back to Penn Station to get home. It was an Experience, that’s for sure!

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Week 37: Geometric Paintings

One of the things I wanted to get right in our new place was decorating, in the living room, especially. I had a lot of posters and things that I liked in my old place, and I wanted to keep them, but not necessarily in the same configuration, just so the new place felt like “our place” instead of just everything from my old place but with Dan now.

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So I knew I wanted to hang my Keep Calm and Carry On poster above the couch, but I had a lot of trouble figuring out what to hang with it. At first I thought I’d buy prints from etsy or somewhere, but that got overwhelming really fast. I have a bunch of frames that I like but never knew how to use, including two worn-in white frames from my parents’ old bathroom. And then I realized that I could just make something to put in those frames, duh, and that I could then make sure the colors coordinated but didn’t match too twee-lee.

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I bought a bunch of craft paint at AC Moore, and just used some extra white cardstock, cut down to 8×10 to fit into the frames. This was my first major hurricane project, done sitting on the floor next to the big glass doors out to our patio. Dan helped me pick the designs and the colors, so that made it feel much more “us” instead of just me.

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I painstakingly cut painters tape into strips, the chevron being WAY TOO FUSSY I should have just used washi tape instead of paint why did I think this would be so easy and straightforward? Ugh.

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Ahem. The stripes were easier, but I still cut the painters tape into narrow strips, trying to paint in a not-too perfect pattern.

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The cardstock became clearly the wrong paper for the painters tape (washi tape would probably have been better, even for the same purpose) as it ripped the paper in some spots when I pulled it up. I tried not to be too much of a perfectionist about it, trying to convince myself that the sort of fuzzy lines go with the weathered frames just fine.

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I finally hung them up this past weekend, in preparation for Dan’s parents coming over to see the new apartment for the first time, and added my old beer bottle cap wreath to balance it out. I’m so happy with how it looks now, and it’s such a nice sight to see as I come in to the apartment, and the colors obviously are super matchy with the afghan that I assume I’ll finish one day, and I couldn’t be happier. Except if the painters tape hadn’t torn the paper but… we’re not talking about that.

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Thirty.

I feel like I have been talking about turning thirty all year. And I guess I kind of have, what with the 30 Before 30 list and everything. (I am still working on a few of the items, and will definitely write to wrap up the list once things calm down a bit.)
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July 21, 1982. One.

As a kid, I had a strange history of putting way too much importance in my own birthday. There were a lot of years of stressing about what the perfect gift might be, or how to spend the perfect day. I have been afraid all along that the oh-so-typical Birthday Stress would be exponentially larger, since Turning Thirty is such a Big Deal And Whatever.

July 21, 1984 :: 3
July 21, 1984. Three. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE CABBAGE PATCH DOLL.

But now it’s here, and I didn’t really end up coming up with anything outrageously noteworthy to do today, unlike most of my friends who have planned big parties or super fun things to do with large groups of everyone who loves them. I couldn’t even think of what to tell people I wanted. And the biggest surprise to me, the same girl who used to FREAK OUT the week before every birthday (it’s the last time I’ll ever swim in a pool while I’m 13!!), is that I’m totally okay with all of it. I am wearing a striped dress and giant pink, red and purple earrings with my purple saltwater sandals, I’ve eaten a bagel and will soon consume frozen yogurt, a beer sampler, and some cupcakes. I’m spending the day with my love. And that is pretty damn great.

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July 21, 1985. Four.

29 seemed like it was going to be The Year, and really? It turned out to be not great at all. There was so much stress and hassle and tears and frustration and for a really large part of the year, it felt like nothing was going as it should, and that everything was more difficult than it needed to be. Right up until this past week, when I almost broke my foot and had unexpected and expensive car repairs. So, no, 29 was not what I expected. But I think that fact is what has helped me approach 30 with increasing excitement and hope the closer it got. My teens were spent knowing somewhere deep down that I just didn’t fit in. My twenties were years of endless searching. For my place in the world, for a career, for fulfillment, for love, for friendship… And as I sit here, newly 30 and perhaps a bit too reflective, I can’t help but feel for damn sure that everyone who has ever told me that their thirties were the best years EVER was SO RIGHT.

Because Dan and I just moved in together and even though the last few weeks have been unsettled and chaotic, things are coming together SO nicely. And I have some of the best friends in the universe. And a craft room. And a brother and a sister and parents who know me better than anyone and who have carried my shit way too many times. And someone who really loves me. And I’m having a really great hair day.

So thirty, bring it on. I simply can’t wait to see what you have in store.

365.1 :: 30

Summer Postcards!

My friend Jodi hosted a summer postcard swap this month, and after Cynthia posted her creations, I knew I wanted to do the same.

I keep a few old paperbacks with my craft supplies, because the book pages make such a great background. All I used otherwise were moo cards (some of my own business cards, and some of the older small ones), some stamps, a few summery magazine pages, and LOTS of washi tape for some stripeitude. I coated them all with a light coat of Mod Podge, because I was afraid they’d fall apart in the mail. (They didn’t, so it worked!) We always send cards to wish friends and family happiness in the winter, but why not wish everyone a happy summer? It’s my favorite time of the year! I made my required postcards, but also a few extras for my out of town friends, and sending an unexpected surprise in the mail is one of my favorite things to do.

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Stripe Mania, Indeed!

As you might have guessed, I have a bit of a thing for stripes. So when I saw decor8’s Stripe Mania (!) challenge to post a photo of ourselves wearing our stripiest shirts, I knew I couldn’t miss out… even if the idea of taking outfit shots gives me hives. It was hard to pick, because clearly I have a lot of striped shirts. (And I have for quite a long time now!)

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(I do appear to have certain… stripey tendencies, when it comes to colors. Also? I really need to get a red and white striped shirt. How do I not have one?)

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I decided to go with my favorite stripes right now, yellow and gray.

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(the tshirt is from Old Navy, and the gray jeans are from Lands End Canvas)

I really love pairing this with my red circle scarf, even if at 85+ degrees in New Jersey, it was a little hot for it.

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And just to prove to Cynthia, who also took me up on the stripes challenge (and totally upped the ante by COMBINING stripes! which I am totally going to do, as soon as I can get my grubby little hands on a striped cardigan!), that I do actually own and wear skinny jeans…

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Everything is better in stripes.