Posts by Nat

Photography Study: Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Posted by on May 30, 2012 | 10 comments

I think I’m starting a new series!  I am so in love with photography it’s not even funny.  After attending my photography class a few weeks ago I am taking so many more photos, and even loving my mistakes, because now I understand what I’m doing wrong.  So every once in a while I’m just going to post photos I’ve taken.  Sometimes, like today, they’ll be grouped and themed, while others will just be a photo dump, of sorts.  This series is going to be for personal reasons just as much as a blogging thing.  I want to keep track of my progress, and this will be an easy, visual way for me to see how, when and where I improve.  Huzzah!

These photos were all taken in the same place.  I went up with my family to check out the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum as a potential location for a festival in the early fall.  I had never even heard of this place, but I was instantly happy that I brought my camera because it was rich with fun things to take pictures of, and it was a beautiful day.

This place is unlike any other place I’ve been in San Diego.  It’s not really even in San Diego- it’s in Vista, which is way north county.  It felt very rural when we got there, and it was a bit like stepping back in time.  We even spoke to a man who worked there who was literally bleeding from an engine repair injury while he spoke to us.   No big thing- just bleeding.

I was also disappointed- my grandpa was a steam engine connoisseur and would have loved this place.  He visited me several times before he left us in 2004, and I wish I had known about this lovely, quirky place to bring him.

I also learned a valuable lesson:  check your settings!  I forgot that the evening before I had been at Le Diner à San Diego, and my friend, Brent, had used my camera for a few shots.  When I started taking photos at the museum I was wondering why they didn’t look the way I thought they would.  Then I realized that Brent had put my lens in manual focus, and I also hadn’t adjusted my ISO for daylight. Whoops!  Once I did that, I was off and running.  Lesson learned!

Check me out- I’m doin’ good, right?  :-)

 

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Le Diner à San Diego: An Experience!

Posted by on May 28, 2012 | 6 comments

A few months ago I heard about this amazing evening event in San Diego:  Le Diner à San Diego.  It sounded surreal, to say the least.  The location was withheld until hours before it started- and I love a good mystery!  Everyone was to wear white, dress elegantly, and bring a delicious three-course meal to share with friends.  The only thing provided would be tables and a beautiful location (and they also had a bar). I was totally hooked!

My first step was to find someone to go with us.  This proved to be challenging.  I think a lot of friends didn’t like the idea of having to wear all white.  Bummer!  Soon our friends Jen & Brent were signed up, though.  Thank goodness for friends who like an adventure (and wine).

In the days and weeks leading up to the evening I planned texted with Jen and we figured out our menu, talked about what we were going to wear, etc.   Finally, the day arrived.  The location was to be revealed at 3:00.  Our biggest concern:  weather.  It had been chilly the night before, and rainy that morning.   I was determined, however, to make a go of it.

I had visions in my head- it would be elegant, it would be serene.  I would be well-dressed, in heels, even!  Everyone would be nice, we’d make new friends and have lovely chats with Jen & Brent.  It would be like My Fair Lady, only modern.  I would come home with beautiful photos of a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime evening.  I would post on my blog about it, and it would look perfect.

In reality:  we froze our asses off.

It was FREEZING.

The location?  The Embarcadero.  If you’re not familiar with San Diego, this is a beautiful, waterfront park in downtown San Diego.  Ships go by, seagulls fly overhead, and there’s a marina on one side full of luxurious yachts and such.  The San Diego Symphony plays there in the summer months.  It’s gorgeous….when it’s warm.

Jen texted me soon after the location was revealed and said, “Uh…We are gonna freeze our nuts off.”  I remained optomistic.  “I’m from Kansas!” I thought. “How cold could it be?”  It was too late to buy white pants- we were leaving in just a little while as soon as our sweet babysitter, Rosy, showed up.  So, I added some quilts to our pile of stuff and off we went.

As we got there, it was obvious that people were in the same mindset as us:  “We want this to be cool, but it’s DAMN COLD.”  We persevered, though, because this event was just such a neat idea.  Here are some photos.  I took a ton, and then just as we were sitting down to eat my camera crapped out.  Very odd.  Now it’s fine.  Maybe the camera was cold as hell, too.  Some photos of our evening…

 

The view of San Diego from the Embarcadero.  Sort of makes me want a boat.  Sort of,  but without the taxes and dock rental fees.

downtown san diego skyline Le Diner a San Diego

Jen & Brent.  [Jen, your hair looks fine.  It was windy.]  Brent runs a very cool company called Groovy Like a Movie.  He’s rad.

Brent took this with his iPhone.  He was asking Siri questions all night, like, “What’s the temperature right now?”  It was 61.  It felt like it was 45.  I can’t wait for an iPhone 4.  Maybe even an iPhone 5?

There was a competition for best table decor.  I didn’t go too crazy- lots of tables went all out, but I just brought a tea light thing from IKEA (I’ve had it for years, but you can put it in a line, a circle, anything.  12 total- love it.), sea shells, rocks, and a few small vases with freesia.  Simple but pretty.

This drink was lovely.  It had coconut milk and lime in it, and it tasted like a coconut-lime-mojito.  I can’t remember what it was called, but I was hoping a little liquor would warm me up.  It didn’t.  But I still drank the whole thing.

At 7:00 there was a napkin wave to start off the meal.  We were already eating, but it was fun to see everyone in white standing and waving their white napkins.  Very cool.

Jen made appetizers- crostini with tapenade, and shrimp cocktail.  Yum.

I brought a pasta salad for our entree.   This is an iPhone pic, since by this time my camera was done.  Note the portable trash bags in the background- classy, eh?  One of the tenants of the evening was to “leave no trace,” which included taking all of your trash with you.

Brent saw the sun getting lower and all of sudden grabbed my camera.  I thought he disappeared, but then realized he was right next to me.  Cool, huh?

My  man in his dapper hat, drinking Prosecco.  Have you had Prosecco?  We like it better than champagne.  It’s basically the same thing, but it just tastes better.  Props to my dad for introducing it to us.

Be sure to click this photo below- Brent took it with his iPhone 4, and it’s a very cool panoramic shot of our end of the event.  You can really see how neat everything looked.

I’m glad we went to this event- I just wish it had been warmer.  By the time we finished our entrees we couldn’t feel our hands, so we opted to head to Jen & Brent’s for wine and dessert.  I made pots de crème- more about them soon.  Yum.

Thanks to Jen & Brent for being so adventurous.  I love the concept of this event, so I was pleased to receive an email from them the next morning that said they’d see us next year… in the summer.  Right.  Lesson learned.

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Friday Free-For-All

Posted by on May 25, 2012 | Comments Off on Friday Free-For-All

I need a day with my kids.  I’m going to be on the computer as little as possible today.  We’re getting ready to celebrate my  husband’s birthday.  And hanging out on a chilly, gray day.  I hope you are with ones you love for at least part of today.

I hope this weather clears up.  I’m supposed to go to this event tonight.  I have to wear all white.  Yes, me, Ms. Pasty-I-Am-Midwestern Nat- I shall be wearing all white tonight.  And I’ve fixed a lovely dinner for us, to boot.  It will be fun, wet or dry.  I’m just hoping it’s more dry than wet.  We’ll see.

Next week  I’m planning on finally sharing my daughter’s low-key birthday party, and I’ll be sharing a new project I’m going to embark on (a BIG one) on my Facebook page.  Have you been there?  I sort of live on Facebook.  Except for today.  :)

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

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My New Hair Style {Short Hair Rocks}

Posted by on May 23, 2012 | 9 comments

It was time for a new hair style.  Way past due.

If you’re like me, then you value a good hair stylist.  I learned this quickly in my early hair stylin’ days.  It was clear that if you want a good cut, you need a good, confident stylist.  This is especially true with short hair because you don’t have much wiggle room.  If someone messes up your hair and it’s already short…you got problems.

I’ve been super lucky in my San Diego years.  My stylist, Liesel, has been doing my hair since 2002, I think.  That’s 10 years, folks.  I am loyal.  And I’m loyal for good reason:  Liesel is A.M.A.Z.E.B.A.L.L.S.  Not only does she cut my hair really well, but she also has become a wonderful friend, and of course she knows a ton about me (and vice versa) since I verbally vomit on her every time she gives me an amazing hair cut.

Back to my current state of affairs.  I loved my previous ‘do.  Here’s how it looked:

 It was fun, and I always received compliments on it.  But there were a few issues.  I was tired of the flat-ironing, and tired of having it in my face.   Clips were getting annoying, and with an East-County-San Diego summer looming….a short hair style was just what I needed.   I’m also running a lot, and having hair in your face when you run…not cool.   Then, there was also this:

See that row of hair that lines my forehead?  Driving me nuts.  That’s all the hair that fell out soon after Emily was born.  My hair fell out for months, and now it’s finally growing back.  However, in a few more months, if I left my hair style the same, I would have been battling a lion’s mane or something.  It’s easier to just cut it short and then it can all grow out together, like one big happy family.

Here’s my new look:

Love.

When Liesel cut my hair I had my Short Hair Ideas Pinterest board pulled up.  We talked about what we liked about all of them, and ultimately went with this one as reference.

I have so many friends (and also random people) tell me that I can “pull it off” when I get a short hair style like this.  I really think just about anyone can “pull off” any hair style they want.  Here’s the key:  you have to like it.   So get your hair cut the way YOU like it. Not the way your man likes it, the way your partner likes it, the way your friends like it.  Style your hair for yourself- you’re the one who has to deal with it.  It especially drives me bonkers when I hear women say that they “can’t” cut their hair because “my husband wouldn’t like it.”   Does he dry your hair?  No?  Does he flat iron or curl it for ya?  No.  Then tough.   Just my two cents.

I love my hair.  Thanks, Liesel!  You da bomb!

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How To Be A Photographer

Posted by on May 21, 2012 | 5 comments

I’ve been wanting to learn how to be a photographer.  More than just a point and shoot camera kind of gal.  For my birthday in March, my husband scraped together enough funds to buy me a new {used} camera, and I’ve been failing horribly.  Even in auto mode I felt like I was taking horrible pictures.  It took me two weeks just to figure out how to take auto photos with no flash.  …Yeah, it was bad.  If you want to see some examples of some awful photos I’ve taken you can check them out here, here, or here.  That’s just a few.

A few weeks ago, my friend Tonya of Create-Celebrate-Explore called me up and said, “I found a photography class.  Want to go?” Um, let me think.  Heck. YES!  And folks, let me tell ya- it was amazing.  I needed this experience for so many reasons!  It was so great to get away for a day and focus on something, learn a new skill, and feel confident about it.

This past Saturday Tonya and I headed up to Santa Ana.  The class was put on by the lovely and amazingly friendly Cynthia Shaffer.  Cynthia was so welcoming, and we immediately started talking as if we had known each other for years.  She’s just that easy to be around.  Another nice thing was that there were four people signed up for the class- we got a really personal experience.  Cynthia said that there have been as many as ten participants, and even that is manageable, but I’m still glad we had a small group.

The class was put on by Studio Crescendoh.  If you haven’t checked out this place and you live in So-Cal, go check it out.  They offer classes in all sorts of art mediums.  I went up a few months ago with my friend Dana and we were so taken with the lovely people and atmosphere of this little gem.

The format of the class was wonderful.  Everyone started at square one together.  Cynthia gave us a tour of our cameras- we were accessing parts I didn’t even know existed.  There was lots of, “Hey! How did you do that?!”  After the intro, she talked about all sorts of fancy photographer terms like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.  I understood all of these things individually but didn’t really understand how to sync them all together to be…. a real photographer.   All of a sudden under Cynthia’s instruction… I could take pictures!  We spent some time in the studio- there were tons of things to take pictures of.  Then, after lunch we went on a walk and Cynthia showed us more about taking photos outdoors, metering light, and taking portraits.  It was so great.  The day ended with a look at photo editing.  When we left my brain was on overload, but in a good way.  Below are some of my favorite photos that I took.  With my camera.  Like a real photographer.

 

This lovely little candle cozy is in one of Cynthia’s crafting books.   They are so sweet, and a great first subject.

This was a great photo where we talked about how to position and light things for studio shots.  Cynthia takes a lot of photos for craft and art books (many of which she made herself), as well as doing portraits and events.

I got to use one of Cynthia’s lenses for this photo.  It was a long lens, so I was probably standing a good 15 feet away from these little shoes.

This is the ceiling in the old building that houses Studio Crescendoh.  It’s so unique, and a good photography study- it’s hard to get bright colors to show when they are surrounded by black.

Some paintings on the wall inside Studio Crescendoh.

On our walk outside we came to these trees; their bark is like sheets of paper- so cool!

One of my favorites- dripping water!  I also had fun editing this photo.  I also just stared at it a lot.

This is just outside the studio- I love the colors of this art against the bland sidewalk.

The lovely Tonya.  She would not say as much about herself, but she is lovely.  Yes, Tonya.  You’re lovely.  And now you’re a lovely photographer.

This is Beth.  She is super sweet. (Beth, if you’re reading this- I can’t find your blog- send me a link!)

This is Jenn.  She’s also super sweet.  She also has a blog.  You can see it here.

The biggest lesson for me in this was that when you want to learn something, don’t spend your time futzing around with trying to do it yourself.  Ask a totally awesome professional to help.  This class was worth every penny and more- and it wasn’t even that expensive!  If you want to see what other classes Studio Crescendoh offers, click here.

 

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