Thursday, January 28, 2010

Year of Goals - #24

Reduce my book collection to only my favorites.

I love buying books. But after a while it starts to be a problem...

Both of my book cases are full and I don't exactly have room for a third.

Books are your friend until you need to move. I've moved my books to three different homes and the thought of moving them again in the future is terrifying. Last time they took up an entire car load on their own.

Some of them I bought in high school when my tastes in literature were a little... experimental.

I tell myself that I'll read them more than once but in 10 years I've never found the time to reread anything.

I want a Kindle but they're expensive. Selling books is a good way to fund one. :) Have you seen these things? I was soooo against them until about a week ago. I thought that digital books were a sin. But then I saw my sister-in-law's and I fell in love with it. The screen doesn't look like a regular screen. The "pages" look like scanned in book pages so they're easy on the eyes. There's also no glare on them.

Matt and I did the same thing with our CD collections a couple years ago. We saved our favorites then dumped everything into iTunes and sold the discs to Homer's. It was such a good decision. Getting rid of such a huge pile of stuff is freeing. I'm very anti-stuff these days. I like to decorate and furnish my home, but the collections and closets and drawers full of junk is so annoying. Purge! Purge I say!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

California Trip, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I visited California with Matt and some friends/family. We also visited 1600 miles of I-80 along the way. Holy. Hell. Four of the five people I went out there with are in a show that was touring California, thus the reason for the trip. And thus the reason for driving.

Have I ever mentioned that I get car sick? Because I do. Right around hour 16 I thought I was going to lose my mind. I didn't take friends' advice and get a motion sick arm band thingy before we left. It turned out to be a big mistake. Driving through the mountains was incredible though, despite the head spinning and gut churning. It is so very beautiful. The complete opposite of what I see on a daily basis at home in Nebraska.

Our first stop in California was San Francisco. We did a lot of the usual stuff. We ate at Taqueria La Cumbre, home of the Mission style burrito. I gorged myself on seafood. I drank so much coffee I returned home with my caffeine addiction at Threat Level: Orange.

We visited Haight-Ashbury, which was a less than wise decision. There are some really great stores in that neighborhood. I found an awesome t-shirt boutique, Loyal Army, where I bought several things. I also had my husband buy me a ridiculously overpriced belated Christmas present. Everybody, I'd like to introduce you to my Orla Kiely purse. Orla Kiely purse, this is everybody.

It rained a lot which sort of sucked. Considering it was -27° in Omaha the week before we left, a little rain was tolerable.

We also decided to go out to Alcatraz. So, after two days in a car, then two days of driving around a freakin hilly city in the back of a Tahoe, I got on a boat. I have never in my life put so much effort into not puking. I was looking at some pictures I took from the ferry and just thinking about it again made me nauseous.

But it was pretty once we got there.

And creepy.

I'll continue the post tomorrow... Too much bloggy for one day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blog Love - Part Deux!

And in other news...

Some friends and I were baking around the holidays, got a little high off the sugar, and started using a cookie press to ice cupcakes. It started out as a joke... but got picked up by Cupcakes Take the Cake.

Check out Sarah's Cuppitycakes Cupcakery blog. She's a bonefide professional cupcake maker. Jealous? I am!

Also, some of my wedding photos got picked up over at Bride Tide. Apparently, I was on to something with the plaid wedding dress. Who would have known? I'd like to take credit for being a trendy bride, but really my dress designer found the fabric on the clearance table for $2 a yard. We both liked it and went for it since she needed a bazillion yards to make the skirt.

Blog Love!

My striped wall ended up on Desire to Inspire this weekend!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Year of Goals - #3

I took a class at Whole Foods about "vegetarian cooking for the former meat-lover." It was fun and informative. And full of serious protein which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you look at it.

I learned how to cook seitan. Seitan is basically pure wheat gluten. You wash a hank of flour dough until all the starch disappears and you're left with a hunk of gluten. Yummy, no? We made mock Asian BBQ beef. It was really, really good. Seitan is a pretty convincing faux meat. But easy does it - all that protein, remember?

I also learned pointers on cooking tofu. Tofu in restaurants is always good but at home I've never been able to make it taste good. Because I was cooking it wrong, come to find out. If you're going to fry it or sauté it or marinate it you first need to soak out all the excess water. Sort of like eggplant. (Something else that never tastes good at home.)

The third main dish we made was a little... different. We made meatloaf out of lentils. I love meatloaf but I did not love the "meatloaf" we made in the class. I understand the basic concept behind making it and I think I could come up with my own recipe for it.

All in all, it was extremely informative and well worth the $25 registration fee. I would recommend it to anyone, not just folks who don't eat meat.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Little Bit of Heart Pouring for You Today

Warning: There's a little bit of a high horse in this post. And I am up on it.

A very wonderful friend gave me the photography book Annie Leibovitz: American Music for Christmas and it is probably my most favorite gift I received this year. (I feel like a jerk though because she was like, "Hey here's your incredibly thoughtful Christmas gift - a book of photography by one of your all time favorite artists," and I was all, "Thanks, I bought you a small purse because I know you like small purses.")

So, I love this book. I practically cry over it. I study it. I carry it around the house with me and flip through it when I have spare minutes. It's ridiculous. I'm so in love.

I read a lot of photography blogs and forums. I've bookmarked things that are inspiring, different, simply freaking amazing. Lots of things that make me go, "HOW THE HELL DO THEY DO THAT!!!" Then there are a few forums that discuss some topics relevant to new photographers. A lot of it is informative, but some of it is not. And it's not only not informative, but it's unhelpful to the point of being downright destructive. I think we're all aware that people aren't particularly nice on the internet when they're shrouded behind the veil of anonymous commenting. Under the ruse of "constructive criticism" people can be harsh. Frequently, these forums all start to elicit a specific aesthetic and work not fitting the aesthetic gets commented on rather unfairly. I don't really understand the point of that. Dozens of people who want to stand out yet want their work to look like everyone else's?

While flipping through my book, you know what I noticed? A lot of the photos in the book aren't really "technically perfect" by the standards that some of these forums uphold in their criticisms. The focus isn't always on the eyes, the backgrounds are messy, the faces are underexposed... I mean, dozens and dozens of these photographers in forums are so worried about OMG TECHNICAL JARGON DON'T SHOOT IN AUTO OR YOU WILL DIE that I think they're missing the point. Is your photo engaging? Is it beautiful? Do the people who matter, like it? Okay, then who gives a fuck if it's 100% technically dead on.

Great artists and respected innovators don't draw the attention of the masses by following the rules. They don't accomplish something groundbreaking by fear of doing something wrong. You get what I'm saying?

If a photographer is constantly worried about the opinions of 120 other photographers, how will they ever develop a style and vision that is truly their own? You don't get anywhere in life by wanting to impress people. That's just vanity and vanity is hardly ever motivation enough.

I read an article once about exercise that pertains to this line of thought. A personal trainer said that people always come to him and say that they want the body of a dancer. And he tells them that dancers look like that because they're really dancers. They devote their lives to a craft and their physical condition is a result of that. They didn't wake up one day thinking, "I want a hot body. I should become a dancer." They're just dancers, that's who they are.

I feel that way about what I'm doing. I didn't set out with the thought that I want my photos to look like a professional's photos. I thought, "I want to be a professional photographer." There's a distinction. Maybe I didn't convey it clearly in text but hopefully you understand what I'm saying. Wanting something that someone else has isn't going to get it for you. You have to get past the vanity or the envy or the greed and really find your motivation as to why you want to accomplish something for yourself and no one else. I want to work, I want to grow, I want to make mistakes in this life. I'm willing to put in the work because my soul is telling me there's no other option for me. This is it. I need to have it.

I think Ms. Leibovitz felt that way too. She must have because you can feel it in the photos. (She must have felt like she needed a LOT of things because I think she's bankrupt right now despite earning millions. Ooops.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Year of Goals - #4

Goal #4 - Unsubscribe to all the crap emails I get.

I think I have successfully given the old heave-ho to about 90% of my junk email. I used to wake up with 20 new emails every morning but lately I've only been getting about two.

I obviously started with the easiest goal on the list, but hey. Still counts. I have to work my way up to some of the bigger ones.

Today was my first workday of 2010 and it did not start off on a good note. My car wouldn't start. Then there was a flipped truck blocking the on-ramp to the express way. I was 30 minutes late. Matt was 45. I'm convinced that I somehow pulled a muscle in my sternum while shoveling. Either that or I'm dying of extreme heartburn.

Oh ya, the snow. Let's not forget to mention the most recent snow fall. I'm seriously running out of space to pile up the snow. It's about four feet deep all the way around the driveway and lining the sidewalks. I thought I was just being a pussy complaining about all the snow but it turns out that we're currently buried under more snow than we've had in 60 years. Way to go, Nebraska. Every morning Matt and I wake up, take a look outside, turn to each other and say, "Why are we still living here?" I am greatly looking forward to an upcoming trip to California. I am going to hug the ground when I see it. I haven't seen mine in 6 weeks.

And just so you don't think this is a complete Negative Nelly post, I did rock my weekend by watching Lord of the Rings parts one and two. Best seven hours of my Sunday. Part three is waiting for me on the DVR. I am so in love with those movies. And as if that wasn't enough, I also watched the newest Harry Potter on bluray bitches! It was pretty great. I swear.