Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hanging

With Dan gone, it's quiet.

I work about 40 hours a week at ASU. I run home on my lunch breaks and right after work to take Coopy out. We walk around the complex, but he hates the heat so we don't stay outside long. I bought him a new bone that he's completely obsessed with. Sometimes we swing by Tyler's house to take Ella to the dog park with us.

I have a new hobby in rock climbing. I had gone sporadically since the beginning of May since Amy and Paul introduced us to the rock gym, but with Dan gone thought it would be a good idea to try out a month membership. Gives me something to do, and with my friend Kate. I totally love it. I love that it has nothing to do with school or ASU, I love that it's not music related. I love that I am enjoying something that is so good for me! I feel happy, accomplished, and fantastic when I leave the rock gym. It's taken 25 years for me to find a form of exercise that I enjoy, and I am thrilled. I am looking forward to having Dan join me, if he wants to, when he gets back in August.

I'm trying not to eat out too much. I'm trying to stay relatively healthy. So far, it's been okay. But it's probably not helping that I usually watch "The Great British Baking Show: Master Class" while I eat most of my meals. I have a list of shows I was hoping to watch, but I can't give up the pleasantness of that show! (Mary + Paul Hollywood 4EVER)

It's nice to go run errands whenever I need to, to make plans with friends and appointments whenever there's time. To go to bed as early as I want, and be as lazy as I want. But I really, really miss having Dan around. It's not that I can't be apart from him--obviously I can. It's not that it's difficult to take care of the dog by myself--although, that is difficult. It's that, you know, he's my partner. My teammate. I feel like my better half is MIA. Coming home to an empty apartment as opposed to Dan on the couch is a huge bummer. I'm grateful that, for now, it's just a month (more like 3-ish weeks at this point, woohoo!)

I'm feeling a little melancholy lately. I feel a little off. Almost, like, aimless, despite my lengthy to-do list. I am really happy, but also worried, stressed, and sad. (For the record, you can be burdened with anxiety and still be happy.)

Summer can be confusing, refreshing, relaxing, and anxiety-inducing all at once. I think that's okay. I know it's natural to have all of these feelings. That doesn't mean I like it, but it is what it is.

Here are two photos that Dr. G took of me for my soon-to-be-published new website. So odd being on the other side of the lens, but G is a great sport!
Happy Summertimes,
xx

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Summer Cruise, Part II

On the second full day of our cruise, we woke up in Ensenada, Mexico! The day honestly started out foggy and kind of chilly, but by early afternoon it was truly beautiful out. The climate is bizarre, it changed so quickly.
We took a shuttle bus from the ship to the town, paid for a tour to La Boufadora, the local geyser, and took a 45 minute tour bus out to the geyser. It was so worth it. I mean maybe it sounds like we got played, but it was so beautiful!
You walk through this strip of vendors who are trying to sell you anything from fake purses, shoes (I bought some and I do not regret it), and snacks to prescription medication (without a prescription) and at the end of this is La Boufadora, this crystal clear water that just spouts up and out of the mountains every few seconds. It was honestly breathtaking.
I thought that we would be able to go to the beach, but maybe next cruise! We had a wonderful time walking around that area, and after a few hours we went back to the ship to eat, sunbathe, and play like twenty games of shuffleboard.

The last day of the cruise was spent at sea, and it was too foggy and cold to go outside much. We played bingo two days in a row--surprisingly so much fun! We got really close to winning a bunch of money, but alas.
We spent the few days after we got home wobbling around the apartment, feeling like we were still on the ship, but it was a really, really wonderful vacation. We are already planning to take another cruise, sometime, eventually, this time maybe to the Caribbean where I can get some beaches!

Dan just left town to teach in New York for a month, like he does every summer, leaving me with the puppy and a month of 40 hour work weeks. I bought a month membership at our local rock gym and have been climbing every few days. I'm still getting used to the idea that there's a type of exercise that I genuinely enjoy 😂 And in a few short weeks I'll be heading to Orlando for ClarinetFest, where I'll also get to see my parents and go to Harry Potter World again!!!!

Summer is shaping up quite nicely.
xx

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Summer Cruise

Hellooooo, summer people. Dan and I got back a few days ago from what I can only describe as a practically BLISSFUL vacation. I've never been on a vacation where you basically don't have to make any of the plans yourself, INCLUDING MEALS. I mean seriously, it was nuts. I know that this is common knowledge to most people, but at 25 years old I was experiencing this all for the first time!!

The food, the ship, and the views were all fantastic. Every night there was a three course meal. Ice cream and pizza literally 24 hours (I am a child, I know). We could not have asked for better weather in Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. And prior to the trip, I told Dan that I wanted full disclosure to take photos of him at any point in the trip, to which he very kindly agreed. Good. To. Go.

We started our vacation by going to LA to see some stuff and one of my uncles and family. We (I) had decided we were going to eat lunch at a chicken place and then go to the Griffith Observatory. Naturally, all the plans I had decided upon didn't work out, except getting some matcha tea at Matcha Bar. (When I woke Dan up to leave for the 6 hour drive, he sleepy-angry mumbled at me that I "only cared about matcha". Not only, just, like, a lot.)
After schmoozing and eating and staying with the fam, we headed out to the Port of Long Beach. We shopped at the outlets there for about an hour because technically we weren't supposed to board until the afternoon, but we got antsy and then they ended up letting us board early anyway. Nobody seemed to care, lucky us!
I was genuinely and thoroughly impressed by how smooth-sailing (pun completely intended) it was getting onto the ship itself. We printed out everything ahead of time, but Carnival is truly a well-oiled machine.

Each night's dinner was a gourmet three course meal and honestly that first night was the most delicious. Plus, the novelty of having so many choices was hilarious. I kept Dan entertained by reacting like a kid in a candy shop at every turn we took on the ship, especially during that first dinner. (Incidentally, there was also a candy shop on board.)

The next morning, we woke up in Catalina Island.
Our ship was too big to dock at the port in Catalina, so we took a lil ferry to the actual island after breakfast. We didn't do any of the extra excursions that all cruises seem to offer, we just walked around enjoying the weather and the beauty of it all.
There is a huge circular building in the photo on the right that is as grandiose as can be and is a landmark on the island. It used to be a casino, but now it's a movie theater.
Throughout the entire trip I couldn't get over how clear and blue the water was. So beautiful.
The town is very small, so when we were slightly tired and hungry, we went back to the ship to sit in the sun and relax. While on the ship we spent the majority of our time outside in the "21+ no kids area". The chairs were more comfortable, and it was significantly quieter.

That night for dinner was the "elegant night" so we got all dressed up for an even fancier-than-the-other-nights dinner. It was really fun pretending to be rich for the night, ha! I love these two pictures of us.

The next day: Ensenada, Mexico! Coming soon to a computer screen near you. 
If you want it to, of course, I'm not going to force you to read my blog posts. Much love if you do though.
xx

Friday, June 23, 2017

V A C A T I O N !

YOUUUUU GUYS! After weeks of waiting, and waiting, and annoying all of my friends and coworkers about it, and waiting some more, we are finally going on vacation tomorrow!!!!
We're spending tomorrow in LA, going to Griffith Observatory, seeing my family, and eating as much as we possibly can before leaving for our cruise on Sunday! We are so excited! Every sentence is going to end in an exclamation point!

Cooper will be hanging out with his bff Ella, Dan's former roommate, having a blast no doubt! We probably won't have any cell reception while we're gone and honestly I'm kind of glad because it'll be even better if the phones are only used as cameras--much fewer distractions!

So yeah, we're stoked! Follow along on Instagram for sweet pix and sorry in advance if we're also friends on Facebook because, you guys, I'm going to spam the shit out of you all, I'm truly sorry but too excited to be sorry enough not to do it!

See you in about a week! (I wasn't kidding about the exclamation points!)
xx

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dad-ish

Friends, I deleted my original post about Father's Day. I'm trying to recreate it now but admittedly you just can't replicate genius. I'm kidding, but also I am serious in that this post won't be identical, though I (impressively, if I do say so myself) have gotten pretty damn close to what I originally wrote...

I've written about my Dad, my own personal superman, many times over the years. He is, to put it simply, the best. Supportive, funny, kind.

He's obsessive. He loves movies, golf, and baseball. He loves me and my sister. He loves decorating.

That last one may seem out of the norm. But honestly, like, my dad loves decorating. When he moved into his new house a few years ago he had a clean slate with which to decorate and he was thrilled. He and his sister, my Aunt Susan, went to town. And honestly, he has great taste.

So my sister and I starting gifting him decorative "chatchkes" a few years back. For his last birthday I got him a vintage map of Phoenix. For Hanukkah, a stained glass cactus in a little pot. He and I recently ordered a wooden print of one of my photos for his bedroom. He house is full of antiques, art, and baseball memorabilia. He loves maps and has a beautiful collection lining his stairwell.

But clothes? We never gift him clothes. My mom would, and still does. But clothes are tough. My sister and I don't live in Florida. What if it doesn't fit? What if he just doesn't like it? So when Bonobos contacted me about upgrading my dad's style for Father's Day, I was kind of like "why?" Because honestly, he can dress himself. He loves shopping. He loves jirts (jacket shirts, a term I will forever give him credit for). He loves shoes! Generally, he really does have good taste, with the occasional poor choice of fit 😝

I asked him to check out the website to see what he'd say about the clothes. It's hard to tell online because the models don't look like normal humans, but the clothes look trendy without being obnoxious, tailored, AND they have golf stuff! Dad did say that he likes the Knockdown Tech Half Zip, which is 100% something I could picture him wearing. I also noticed that they have a store in Scottsdale, to which I would definitely take my dad (and Dan!) when he comes to visit.

So how would I upgrade my Dad's style? I wouldn't. His is possibly better than mine. I love him exactly as is.
Happy Father's Day to all, especially my own dad! And my Papa, whom I miss every single day.
xx

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Slices of Life

Life lately has been surprisingly busy, and also the most consistent and routine it's ever been. Every day I go to work, come home on my lunch break to go out for a walk with Cooper, go back to work, come home and go to the dog park. I got Cooper those booties I mentioned in this post and it's probably one of the cutest things I've ever seen in my life. He doesn't love them and he practically begs me to take them off as soon as we get home, but when we're outside walking he wears them like a pro.

It's been in the high 100's the past few weeks, so the booties are definitely necessary. It's only downhill from here; it's almost too hot to go for walks when the sun is up. We lasted outside for about 5 minutes this afternoon. Cooper does NOT like the heat, which is hilarious and convenient because it wears him out and he usually has SO much energy.

I know a lot (if not all) of my blog posts and photos have been Cooper-centric lately, but he's just lighting up our lives lately. Like a thousand times a day I tell him that he's a good boy and I turn to Dan and say "isn't he such a good boy?"

I am disgusting, I know!!
He does not love the car and on the way to the groomer today he freaked out and crawled into my lap and ended up like this. It was possibly a little dangerous but I just about melted. This little puppy is just bringing me so much joy these days, despite sometimes being super hyper and frustrating (ha!)

Dan's been working a lot and has so much going on, but in less than 3 weeks we are going to LA to see my family for a day before going on our cruise! We are literally so excited I think it's all either of us can think about when we're stuck at work all day. Then I can spam you with photos of things other than my dog.
Desert summers do have some of the best sunsets, though. Can't deny that.
Stay cool.
xx

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The State of Things on My 25th Birthday

I've said and written this before, but this year had a lot of really difficult moments. More than I care to admit. Two steps forward, four steps back type of moments. Even the week leading up to yesterday just wasn't so great, I dunno.

I wasn't too excited about this birthday. I made plans because I felt like I should, like I might feel disappointed if I didn't. I'm happy I did, don't get me wrong, but I was definitely not even a little bit as excited as I have been in pretty much every other year of my life. Dan said it's "because you're an adult".

But honestly, despite the lower moments, my life is so good. I am so fortunate, I feel so loved, and I love the people in my life so very much. I am so grateful to have Dan as my partner, because life with him is beautiful. And it gets better everyday.

I ended up having a wonderful day, full of my smushy puppy, Dan, and friends. It was a lot of fun.



So. The state of things, today, on my 25th birthday.

- I am working 9-4 everyday at my desk job in the School of Music. My back hurts and my eyes are tired, but I like the people I work with so I'm good.

- Dan and I are going on a 4-day cruise at the end of June! Leaving out of LA and going to Catalina Island and the West Coast of Mexico. I've never been on a cruise! We're both really excited. We booked it at the beginning of May, it's almost torturous having to wait until the end of June. Really, really excited.

- This summer, unlike previous years, the only other traveling I have planned is 1 week in Orlando for this year's ClarinetFest. Last year, our whole studio went to perform; this year, I go by my own volition. My friends and teachers are performing and this past school year I made so many professional connections (and friends) that I hope to continue by going to ClarinetFest. Our community is pretty amazing, and it's going to be a really fun week. Another perk is that it's close to home, so I can see my parents! And there may be a trip to Harry Potter World in there somewhere too...Win/Win/Win

Now, I'm 25 years old. I live with my boyfriend and we have a dog. I wake up early, go to work, come home. Sometimes I practice on my lunch break and after work sometimes I take the dog to the park, if it's not too hot. (it's pretty hot already, but we make it work). One day I just woke up and realized that this is my life and that I am so happy.

I'm excited about the state of things. Excited to see what this year and the future will bring.

Thank you for reading :)
xx

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Smartphone Photography

I love taking photos on my iPhone. I love Instagram. I love sharing bits of my life through photos and Instagram. It's really fun for me because I love photography. Trust me I know how narcissistic it can be, but I do it for myself because I enjoy it.

I made Wen and Caitlin hang out with me to take some photos so I can share with you some unsolicited advice about smartphone photography! I know, I know. I digress.

Here are the things I think about most when I'm taking photos on my iPhone:

1. Light. The brighter it is, the clearer the photo will be. A lot of photographers avoid direct sunlight like the plague, and I totally get it, but I also kind of love direct sunlight. It makes iPhone photos super clear.
You definitely do not want to shoot INTO the light source, unless it's for a specific effect. And in case you didn't know you could do this: once you tap on the screen where you want the focus to be, you can actually adjust the exposure. Just drag the sun icon that shows up when you tap where to focus. For a safe bet when you're in a rush, turn your camera on HDR mode.

2. Play with space. Not everything needs to be perfectly centered. You can move things around so they look neater or more put together. You can take your photo of your ice cream in front of a cool wall or blank space, if you want to.

3. Don't be embarrassed to move around if you want to get a nice photo and create a pretty memory, but if you are shy about it, make the best of where you are. That's something I've had to come to terms with, and something that I still struggle with. I get really embarrassed when I'm "staging" a photo of something. But seriously nobody cares if you're taking a picture, so there's really no need to be concerned with what they're thinking. And you'll be happy with the result.
On the other hand, sometimes I don't want to make a show of it. I've adjusted and figured out how to get the shot I want without having to move an inch. I took the photo below while sitting in a chair.
I also love messing with perception. I like the big picture. A small detail on a big canvas. Not every photo has to be up close and personal.

4. With people, candid is always better. Getting everyone to smile and look at the camera is fantastic, but I love the in between moments. I will choose candid photos over staged photos almost all the time.
5. Don't use the zoom. The quality just won't be good, just get closer to or further from whatever you want to take a photo of.

6. Focus. Pretty much the only editor effect in Instagram that I use is the blur effect, when I want to zero in on one aspect of the photo. That being said, there's a limit to how much you can do with the blur effect in Instagram, so I often use Snapseed for this particular effect (I'll write a bit about apps down the page)
7. Don't overthink it. I love "curating" my iPhone photography as much as the next photographer/blogger/social media hound, but I love the memories more. So yeah, I'll post a grainy selfie of me on the couch with my dog right next to the posed shot of my ice cream (I literally did that last week). People relate to people, so why pretend like your whole life is a stream of symmetrical, bright, clean photos?

Apps I use: VSCO and Snapseed are pretty much the only two editing apps that I use. Occasionally I'll tap into another resource (I have a ton on my phone), but I generally try to keep it pretty simple and consistent. I almost exclusively use the C1 filter on VSCO, and use Snapseed for the aforementioned focusing and to eliminate for the "healing" feature (similar to the one in Photoshop). I  also LOVE Boomerang, I just wish I could edit/filter those outside of Instagram!

Check out the infographic below from Aura Frames for more smartphone photography tips. This digital picture frame company is currently in the middle of a partnership with charity: water to raise funds for three wells around the world. While it's not in my current (non-existent) budget, it's definitely something I would want on my shelf someday. 

Aura created this graphic that shares some of my own personal tips for smartphone photography, as well as some more specific tips from their team!


Some other snaps from this day...
When you accidentally match your friend and you're wearin' your favorite bandana, you document it. Occasionally it's nice (but mostly weird) to be in front of the camera instead of behind it.
Thanks to Aura Frames for the graphic and encouragement to write this post! If you guys have any tips for smartphone photography, let me know, I'm always looking for more information because I love taking photos.

You can follow me on Instagram here if you don't already and you like pictures of puppies and admittedly a lot of my face and stuff.
xx
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