Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DIY dino-tines.

Today I want to show you some of the little valentines I'm making for my friends! I have a batch of super-pretty valentines I picked up in Naperville while I was visiting my parents over break. But there are only ten of them, and I want to spread the holiday cheer to more of my friends than that. I guess it's time to get crafty!

Here's a relatively inexpensive way to bring smiles to your friends' faces this Valentine's Day. :)

What you will need:

Instax Mini (or another instant camera of your choice)
plastic toy dinosaurs (I got a bag of 24 dinos from Target for only $2)
colorful sticky notes


Start with a special Valentine's Day message. I kept mine simple because I knew it would be tiny in the photograph.

Take a few practice shots. Remember! Not all Instax cameras are built to shoot up-close photos. You need to attach the macro lens to the camera body before you begin shooting, or you'll end up with super-blurry photos. My old Instax Mini didn't have this capability, but the 50s model includes the lens. If you don't have a macro lens for your camera, don't sweat it. Just make your message on larger paper and maybe include a scene of dinosaurs and spruce up your photos that way. That, or get really crafty and hold another lens over the front of the camera. Do what you gotta do.

Too dark -- too light -- just right.

Once you understand your composition, shoot some more!

I took four photos for each dino species. Here's the ol' Dilophosarus.
(My bag of dinos came with six sets of four). 

Extra touches:

If you'd like, you can go the extra mile and buy tiny envelopes. I got these cute little brown ones from Michael's awhile back.

Depending on the message you write in your speech bubble, you may want to personalize your gift a bit more by adding a tiny slip of paper or a miniature card inside your envelope along with the photo. I love writing notes on graph paper, so I'll probably slip some love notes before I hand mine out. You could also throw some glitter in there... just saying.

And make sure you mix it up and give all the dinos a photo shoot, too.

I used my empty film box to categorize my dinos while I took my pictures. Organization nerd alert!

It would be really cool if you could secretly plant your dinotines in your friends' houses when they least expect it. This little stegosaurus is holding his valentine in front of my record player. Little valentine messenger. 

Oh, and if you have any pets at home, watch out! They might want a dino to chew on.

I guess I know what I'll be giving Matilda for Valentine's Day this year.

If you decide to use plastic toys or instant photos for your valentines this year, be sure to leave me a link so I can check them out. Have fun making dinotines! 


Endless birthday fun.

Well, Harbor's birthday week/weekend is finally over. I wanted to share a little reacap of all the fun things we did.

On Wednesday night (at midnight) we rang in his golden birthday with gifts and a quickly-made chocolate cake. Poor guy was really tired after working overtime that evening, but I still told him he had to visit me at my apartment before he went home. I love midnight birthday celebrations! And presents! And special surprises!

On Thursday (his birthday!) he had to work and I had night classes, so we went to a late dinner together at a local pizza shop here in town, ate HUGE slices, and geared up for the Twin Sister show at Florida State's student-run venue, Club Downunder. We were surprised to see our friend Nathan there, so we sat together at a little table upstairs to avoid the crowded feeling and just enjoy it together. It was really pretty and lots of fun. And afterward, Harbor and I went into total college-kid mode and hit up Jimmy John's to share a veggie sub at 1:30 in the morning. (So not what I do anymore, haha.)

Saturday was a special because I had planned a cute picnic afternoon together, and we split an incredible tomato sandwich from Tomatoland and packed along some spicy hummus, pretzel chips, fresh fruit, and savory sharp cheddar. The park we picnicked in has the absolute largest tree in the world, and it's a romantic hidden spot for lots of couples in town. The weather was gorgeous and the whole thing was very picturesque. In fact, a woman stopped us and told us that we looked like we were out of another era, with our special outfits and little picnic basket in tow. (We thought that was really cute and a very nice thing to say.)

Sunday was homemade pizza night! We ended our weekend with my little sister, making pizza together and playing some card games. What a wonderful few days to celebrate one of the greatest guys I know.

What about you? How have you celebrated special birthdays?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy birthday, Harbor!

Happy birthday to my sweet man. Today is Harbor's golden birthday, so he's 26 years old. Livin' his life. Being an awesome rockstar-turned-young-professional at the Florida Capitol. He's ultra-dreamy, super funny, and my best friend in the world.

Oh, you wanted to see a few pictures of us together? Ok. ;)

Birthday celebrations begin at midnight around here, so a cake was in order. We had donuts for dessert earlier in the evening, but I still wanted to let him blow out a candle and eat some cake and make wishes and all that, so I used my tried-and-true emergency chocolate cake recipe and tweeked it a bit to make it extra sweet. Then he opened presents. Yay! (I loooove presents.) 

Love you, HB.


Friday, January 20, 2012

The perfect Maid of Honor dress.

I'm on the hunt for a bridesmaid's dress once again, and this time it's serious! My cousin Kelly is getting married and she asked me to be her maid of honor. I'm so excited!

The wedding is in June, so I've been on the hunt for a little while now, but I'd love to be able to snag a beautiful dress before too much longer. We have other, more important things to plan, after all.

So, I thought I would ask for your help.

I posted a few posts (here, here and here) about my previous bridal involvements, and I'm looking for new online stores to shop through. I've been keeping an eye on the Target, ModCloth and BHLDN websites, but do you have a favorite place to shop for very special dresses?

I need a short dress in a medium or darker shade of purple, but nothing that's too pastel or plum-colored. I would love a dress in this style so I can wear really fun, chunky jewelry and pretty heels. I like more classic-looking dresses.

Hope you guys can help me find a great one. :)


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Setting goals that feel good.

I've been on a quest to simplify my clutter, discover new sources of motivation for this spring semester, and regroup after a long Christmas break. The last week has left me feeling a little dragged behind in my work and life lately. Lucky for me, I've been reading a lot about goal-setting in the new year (thanks, new year's resolutions!) and I've noticed a few tricks that are working for me already.

1. Setting yearly goals. 

I can't help but get inspired by goal setting queens Elsie and Emma. These two sisters are constantly posting about organizational tools, list-making and the importance of setting goals to keep you excited about future endeavors. The first tip I've incorporated back into my routine has been to carry around a notebook for everyday ideas, and creating lists on my iPhone. When I need to jot something down, I make time to do it and it helps me feel sane.

I'm also beginning to compile a list of 25 things to do before I turn 26. I'm starting a little late in the game, because my birthday was July 10th, but in honor of the half birthday I celebrated with my sister last week, I'm going to make it a priority and work to catch up. Or, maybe I'll just pick 12 and a half things to do before I turn 26, to be entirely fair. Either way, I'll be sure to post my birthday goal list as soon as it's done. (You'd better hold me to it!) :)

2. Daily "stuff" goals.

Abi's goals post introduced me to my new favorite organizer, Teux Deux! This website carries over the "stuff from yesterday" that you couldn't quite get to that day. Plus, just like tangible lists, you get to cross through list items as you move along, which is the best part about list-making, isn't it?

I've already introduced a few of my friends to the site, and it's helped me accomplish more without feeling like I'm not accomplishing enough. It also helps me look at my week all at once, so I'm able to rearrange list items into a healthier arrangement instead of the lists dragging me down. Plus it's wonderful to think one week ahead, at a glance. (You can also check out a video tutorial for the site here.) It's pretty cool. I still love jotting down notes, but now I just make sure all those little notes make it to their online home. 

3. Diet goals.

I try not to post too frequently about food restriction or limitations on this blog, because of my experiences with former clients and dear friends who deal with eating disorders. In general, I am very cautious about "diets" and becoming too focused on weight and appearance, but I do believe in managing healthy activities and patterns in order to live a life of fullness and joy. Eating meals with others is one of my favorite activities, actually.

The reason it's appearing on the blog today is because I wanted to let you into a little bit of my weight loss journey over the last 6 months. Last summer I was really struggling with my acid reflux (also known as GERD) and my specialist told me that he thought I needed to lose some weight, along with other diet and medication changes. I was really confused, because I had never thought I needed to lose weight before. However, I reflected on his advice and talked to a few close friends and family members and realized that I had been slowly gaining weight since the death of my best friend the year before. Losing someone suddenly is hard enough, so when I realized that my grieving process had resulted in a significant weight gain, I knew that I needed to make some lifestyle changes. It was hard to accept, but my life has been so much better since I decided to take control of my food choices again.

I've been doing Weight Watchers for half a year now, and I love it. It's the only system that allows me to balance a knowledge of food with real life rhythms and patterns. And it works! I haven't eliminated a single type of food or food group, I've just learned when it's a good time for me to make splurge choices each week. I thought that this post about focusing on a few small goals a day was really encouraging and I'm excited to try it out next week.

4. Relationship goals.

I have a tendency to let my anxiety negatively impact the way I treat my loved ones. This is especially true with my boyfriend, Harbor. So rather than let my anxieties dominate, I've been working really hard to practice love in new ways. This has been more simple than I would have thought. I've been taking steps back, recognizing where I was at and then was honest about my thoughts and emotions in the moment. This season I'm focusing on being thankful, cutting back on opportunities to criticize and be selfish, and replacing those with moments where I can encourage, affirm and be present in the moment. It's a season of maturity. And I think it's the stuff that encourages healthy marriages (one day).

And there you have it! Four areas I'm learning to set small, attainable goals for myself.

Since I didn't set any resolutions, it's been really nice evaluating my goal-setting at a pace that's more healthy for me and without any highly-set expectations for myself. Learning to reorganize and re-prioritize has been a good healthy season for me.

How do you stay organized, motivated and excited for things ahead? I'd love any tips and tricks that help you feel like you're keeping it all together.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Experimenting with my Diana + lens.

When I read the post about the Diana + lens over on A Beautiful Mess last week, I knew I had to finally get my own lens out of storage and test it out. Now, I say finally because I received this lens as a Christmas gift... in 2010. Shame! Shame on me! When I received it, I was super excited because I love my Diana F+ so much, but get slightly stressed having to deal with developing 120 film and worry about wasting frames with bad photo lighting judgement. (Because photo lighting is not always my forte.) But I was also very unsure about how to properly mount it on my digital camera body and I was super nervous about jamming a plastic adapter onto my Nikon. So I packed it in a drawer and honestly sort of forgot about it for awhile.

But a few months ago I emailed Photojojo! And, as always, they provided super-fast service and user-friendly advice to put me at ease about having to use a little extra "umph" when clicking the lens into place. They basically just told me to be brave and follow the instructions and trust the process. ;) There's also some helpful tips on the FAQ page found here

Anyway, Harbor and I took a spontaneous long-weekend trip to his parents' house in Destin earlier this morning and I made a special note on my packing list not to forget my Dreamy Diana Lens so I could test it out in the gorgeous Destin sunlight at sun down. Here are some photos from our little experiment earlier this evening:

Oh, and just so you know, the Dreamy Diana Lens is a wide angle lens built to be swapped out on the analog camera itself. (When you purchase the lens to use on your SLR or DSLR, you can also buy a camera-specific adapter over at Photojojo.) If you're not using this lens on your toy camera, you can use the viewfinder that comes in the kit just-for-fun with your digital medium of choice. I decided to jazz up some Instagram photos, too.

Have a happy long weekend, everyone.