Friday, January 17, 2014

2014 New Year's Resolutions!

Happy belated new year everyone!!

Last year was a blur. With a newborn in the house, my goal last year was purely to survive to see 2014! But this year...yes...this year will be the year to make some new goals...just as soon as I get over the flu.

1. Do a Project 52

Last year, I started getting serious about photography. I bought myself a Canon 5d Mark ii, 2 new lenses - the 50mm f/1.4 and 24-70mm f/2.8, and a camera bag. I also took a beginner photography class and a beginner photoshop class. This year, my goal is to practice what I've learned by shooting, editing, and posting one photo a week for the entire year. I'm already behind!

2. Purge, Organize, and Beautify

I live in a typical NYC apartment with limited storage. Unless I use it or love it, out it all goes! I'm fascinated by the idea of a 10-piece wardrobe. Sounds so simple. I'd love to try it out.

3. Have Fun

As a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom with a preschooler and an almost toddler, my time is spread out in 5 minute chunks, revolves around nap schedules and bedtimes, and is overall very limited. I need to plan better to take advantage of those free moments. I want to have fun. I want to make the most of living in NYC.

That's all!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Photography 101 - Basic Equipment (part 1)

I've been interested in photography for some time, especially after Peanut's birth. Every holiday card we've sent out since 2010 has featured a photo that I've taken using a terrific hand-me down cropped frame DSLR, courtesy of my brother-in-law, shot in full automatic mode.


Now that baby #2 is on the way, I'd really like to improve my photography skills. The best way to do that is to shoot only in manual mode. Although any DSLR camera would do at this beginning stage, I bought myself a new camera (I bought myself this one) to motivate myself and for the past month, have shot only in manual. To further educate myself on my equipment, I'm reading the owner's manual and this DSLR guide book. It's slow going.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

After I finish my initial reading, I'm rewarding myself with a new lens! I currently own a single lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens (aka the "nifty-fifty"). I was really impressed with this lens when I first bought it 2 years ago, but now I'm craving more. I'd either like to upgrade to another prime lens or try a zoom lens. These are the lenses that I'm considering and/or would eventually like in my lens kit (with suggested prices from the Canon website):
Photography is an expensive hobby.

Card Reader

A second recent purchase that I highly recommend and which is seldom mentioned is an inexpensive card reader (I use this one by Kingston). It's been working great and helps to save my camera battery as well as prevent me from leaving my expensive camera on my desk, where Peanut can easily reach.

Camera Bag

Finally, the last piece of equipment on my basics list is a good camera bag. Cameras and lenses aren't cheap so protecting the equipment is high priority. Plus, who can resist buying a new bag? I haven't purchased a stand-alone bag yet as my mother-in-law gave me a camera insert (I have this one from ONA) last year for Christmas and I'm still doing my research on the perfect bag.


I have yet to invest in or use any other equipment, such as a flash, hoods, filters, or even a tripod. So far, these 4 basic items have been enough to get started.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Oliver's Labels

Peanut is 2 and started preschool this month. I'm so excited for her to start learning and hope that she loves school as much as I did. I'm also excited because I love back-to-school shopping. It's the same rush and sense of renewal I get when I make resolutions for the new year. Except these are tangible and achievable and provided to me on a list by the school.

One of items on the preschool to-do list is to label every thing. So based on the recommendations of my neighborhood mamas, I decided to try Oliver's Labels. I ordered the Stick-eez clothing labels (size 7/8" x 7/16"). I've stuck them onto the back of Peanut's clothing tags (so as not to cause skin irritation) and they've been through a couple washes with no problems yet. It's only been a week or so, but so far so good! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Care Package for Uncle Stephen

We recently sent Peanut's Uncle Stephen a care package of goodies for his birthday. He moved to Okinawa this past summer, so we didn't know what he'd like or needed in Japan. So we asked him. This is what he asked for:

Organic beef jerky from Whole Foods - delicious, healthy, and tons of protein for those muscles (but be warned - at $7.99 for 3oz, it adds up fast). He likes the peppered flavor. My personal favorite is the peppered turkey jerky (the original flavor is a close second).

a good shower curtain (we like and sent this one (same as the one we use) from Bed Bath & Beyond),

lots of old movies. It turns out that Netflix can't be streamed online overseas! So we went to Big Lots and picked a dozen movies from their $3 and $5 bin. Walmart also has a $5 movie bin,

and last but not least, some colorful short-sleeve polo shirts. Mike's favorite polos are from Uniqlo. They fit well and are inexpensive, especially when they're on sale!

Images from {here, here, here, and here}.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Uncle Stephen!

It's Peanut's Uncle Stephen's birthday tomorrow! (Or today in Okinawa, where he's currently stationed.) Happy birthday Uncle Stephen! We hope you enjoy this video that Peanut made for you. And keep an eye out for your care package. It's coming soon! We love you and miss you!

Friday Dinners - Plein Sud

When Mike and I first got married, we ordered in almost every night and went out for dinner every weekend. Now, three years later, I cook most days and eating out is a special event. Since our move in June, we've started a new family tradition of dining out on Friday nights. It's such a lovely way to catch up with each other, explore our new neighborhood, and to take a break from my highly experimental kitchen creations.

Tonight, we dined at Plein Sud. Mike ate a healthy quinoa salad and herbed french fries. I ordered the traditional onion soup and crispy salmon. While Peanut had her usual spaghetti with meatballs and sauce on the side. I liked the atmosphere and service (crayons and a high chair are always a bonus).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Non-Diaper Diaper Bags

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about diaper bags, especially after I bought a new one in preparation for baby #2. (Actually, truth be told, I've already started using the new bag for Peanut's gear. Sorry new baby!)

But before the new acquisition, I used large purses to carry all my baby gear and personal items. This worked really well for me from the time Peanut was between 1 (no longer needing so many diapers) and 2 (before potty training). I loved being able to throw her things into my regular bag rather than carrying 2 bags everywhere.

The bags that worked best for me and that I used the most were this one:
Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM in Damier Ebene Canvas
and this one:
Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote in Blue
I still carry these bags a lot but have since moved most of Peanut's gear into her own diaper bag. She recently potty trained successfully so now I carry a portable potty with me when I go out. And that definitely needs its own bag!