Friday, September 30, 2011

Find your (photography) eye

This week I'm super stoked to be starting the Find your Eye e-course by the amazingly talented Kat Sloma. A genius behind a lens, she not only creates effortless stunning photos that transcend time and place (her market series exemplifies this perfectly), but Kat is also able to a break down each shot and explain technically how and why it works in such a way that even I, in all of my dazed and confused glory can understand. And that, boys and girls, is saying something.

But photography is more than simply understanding the technical side of things. Anyone can take a pretty picture but to create images that truly resonate, you first need know and understand your eye, and that is where this journey begins.

To become great at anything you have to take the time to build a solid foundation. Action, commitment and time my friends, is what is needed to be successful at anything. Easier said then done I know, but just between you and me, I've bitched about wanting to be a better photographer for long enough. I think it's time to actually do something about it rather than pretend that one day I'll be granted magical powers that make me awesome at anything I touch....

Until then though let's start at the beginning shall we?  What does photography mean to me? For me photography is about capturing a moment, a time, a place or a mood. Like a glimpse behind a drawn curtain, photography is a way to freeze a stolen glance of a world hidden from daily life. It is seeing the tiny, unnoticed details that form the essence of a moment and can tell a story.

Over the next two weeks, I'll be using this space as my photo journel as I dive into this e-course, expanding upon the above and further developing my eye. Get excited.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Titles are hard

Apologies for the delay in posting Nuggets. Poor S. Monster's been a bit under the weather ever since we got back from our delightfully impromptu road trip. Being the good wifey that I am tho, I've taken fine care of him these past few days (I made him instant chicken noodle soup and everything!), but in the process somehow managed to put off writing anything with substance... my bad.

To top it all off my computer's apparently decided to go on strike, randomly shutting down or freezing up every 5 minutes. It took me nearly all day to upload and edit 10 photos. It's been fun. I've decided to go on the offensive though. Sledge hammers and computers totally mix right? 

In other news, I have like a billion 3 posts in various stages of half done, but fret not. While I gather my wits about me (and continue to procrastinate) I leave you in the (questionably) capable, hilariously funny hands of Hannah from My Drunk Kitchen

Saturday, September 24, 2011


{via here}
S. Monster and I are hitting the open road this weekend. It's been far too long since my last trip and my restless soul needs some wide open space to roam. 

See you Monday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

{Design Edition} Surf Shack

How flippin' rad awesome is this surf shack owned by Richard Christiansen of the ad agency Chandelier Creative? Available for the exclusive use of their staff, clients and friends consider me jealous....and also looking at potential job opportunities there. 

What? Some people like a good health care benefits, me, I prefer travel benefits. Besides, let's be honest here, anyplace that calls themselves "Awesomeville" is automatically a-okay in my book.  
{Via Here and HonestlyWTF}

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

{Travel Tuesday} Dublin Edition: The Supper Club Project

Last week S. Monster and I had the good fortune to snag one of the few remaining reservations for Dublin's newest popup venture, The Supper Club Project
{Sabek and Wye preparing for the night.
Via here}

Run by the amazingly talented (and uber adorable) chefs  Sandy Sabek and John Wye, the Supper Club Project is an 8 course taster menu held once a month. A labor of love, Sabek and Wye create a night that reaches the highest degree of excellence rarely found here in Dublin. From the attention to detail, to the ambiance, service and, of course, the food, nothing is overlooked. 
{Presentation is everything. Foie Gras with almonds, black fig chutney, pickled celery and baby beets
Via here}
S. Monster and I first stumbled across The Supper Club Project back in May and immediately knew we had to attend again. At 65 per person it's not the cheapest night out and as the date approached we were worried that the second time would never be able to live up to the first. How wonderfully wrong we were. 
{ nom nom!}
Glasses of elderflower processo and truffle parmeson popcorn greeted us upon arrival as we mingled (or rather would have mingled were we not scarfing down the popcorn like it was our job) and waited to be seated. With a maximum capacity of only 32 guests seated at one of 2 long wooden tables, the evening was an intimate affair. A welcome change from the usual seclusion you find yourself in at most restaurants, it created a lovely festive atmosphere only further fueled by the BYOB policy (which we most definitely took advantage of). 
{Desert of champions: White Chocolate and Lemon Verbena with parfait, basil and caramelized pine nuts.
It tasted like heaven
via here}
Sabek and Wye, along with their incredible team, put together a new menu that was as outstanding as the last. As someone who was an incredibly picky eater, primarily only eating fried food, cheerios and peanut butter for the first 18 years  of her life, I've come a long way to self confessed foodie. That said, it still speaks volumes of Sabek and Wye's talents that dishes such as Foie Gras and Plaice, when prepared in their magical hands, were so delicious I could not get enough. It was like tasting a rainbow.
{The only dish I managed to photograph before devouring.
The fact that it was the first one of the night is only a minor detail.
Egg Yolk Raviolo with braised ox cheek, shallot, watercress and celeriac puree.}

After our first time I swore that the second time around I would take better pictures of the evening. But with the lovely company, pleasant conversations, delicious food, glasses of bubbly and wine (lots and lots of wine) I didn't stand a chance. I did however manage to take a lot of really questionable photos of halfway eaten dishes and/or empty plates. So at least there's that. 
Chef Sabek and I at the end of the night. Probably should have used a flash...
and not had so much to drink

{For more information check out their website: The Supper Club Project}

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finding your voice

sneak peak of my painting: 
  "The Flighty Temptress, Adventure"

Thank you all so much for the sweet comments and notes of encouragement from my post the other day about facing fears.

Another related issue that I’ve struggled with these past 2 years, has been finding my voice as an artist. As someone whose always known who she was in the academic sense and yet who only recently started developing who I am as an artist, it's been a weirdly wonderful journey of discovery. 

If you're interested, I wrote about my trials, tribulations and triumphant in finding my voice over at Calalita Designs. I've also (finally) included photos of a few paintings - including the very first one I ever did in all of it's unruly wonder. So go take a gander (here) and let me know what you think  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Please stand by: Technical Difficulties

This is a story about how Blogger and Google Reader teamed up to make me look a fool.

The other day drafts of 2 different posts accidentally got published before they were supposed to. They were live for about an hour before I realized what had happened and could delete them. I didn't think much of it at the time until today when I (re)published one of them only to have a friend then email me asking why I had posted 2 identical write ups about the chair Mae I upholstered.

Apparently if you delete a post after it's been live, even if no trace of it shows up on your dashboard or on your blog, Google Reader will still make sure it lives on infinitely.

At least I didn't write about something super embarrassing like the time (read: this morning) I hadn't realized my foot was asleep until I fell on my face after trying to stand up.

Or that time at summer camp when I was 8 and in my haste to go swimming accidentally took my top off before realizing I did not actually have a bathing suit on.

That would have been awkward.

As it stands, for those of you who have Google Reader congrats, you now get to read about my awesome chair twice.

I will, however, save you the hardship of having to reread about a super rad pair of Frye Harlow Campus Booties in charcoal I'm totally crushing on these days.

The End.

{Design crush} Introducing Ms. Mae

Happy Friday! I'm off to the studio but I thought I'd share an introduction of Ms. Mae, one of the first chair's I upcycled and reupholstered completely on my own.

Perfectly imperfect, this sweet gal was almost beyond repair. With a bit of love, and a lot of elbow grease (and potentially some swearing), she’s been given a lovely new lease on life. 

To see more pics of Mae, including her before & after makeover, check out my write up on the process over at Calalita Designs.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

{Fashion Fix Thursday} The perfect dress

If I were a dress, I would be this dress. 

Teal, short, form fitting with a low cut back...covered in sequins. 

Lots and lots of sequins. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

{Fashion Fix} Ladylike Luxe

With fall already here (in Dublin, it only ever leaves for winter), I find myself drawn more and more to lovely lady like silhouettes and staples.  Add in some tights, oxfords and chunky cardigans for those chilly Irish days and we're good to go!

{via Simply SeductivePinterest}

Here's to living

Last week was one of those no good, horrible weeks. The kind where you feel like you can’t do anything right, where the world seems to conspire against you and you find yourself asking - what’s the point?

Rather than turn outward for help though I turned inward, allowing myself to wallow in my own insecurities, doubts and self pity.

This in turn resulted in a lot of cookie dough eating.

I will say this though, rather than let what I have now affectionately titled ‘the darkness’ consume me, I turned toward sketching. I forced myself to use the negativity for productivity to fuel my imagination to create monstereous, flesh melting creatures needed for the concept art I’m doing for an online game. I find it hard to really get the whole disturbing monster thing down when life is full of unicorns and rainbows.

And even though guilt ate me up for not devoting much needed time to this blog or Calalita Designs, I know myself well enough to not go after these things I love when battling The Darkness. Even though it pained me, taking time to clear my head and reset my priorities was vital.

The thing is, life around here lately has been a bit chaotic. Huge changes full of unknown variables are on the horizon which is a bit scary in itself but when combined with uncertainties and insecurities from just launching a business - it can all be a bit maddening.

This weekend though, I realized a simple yet profound truth. Life can be however I want it to be. Yes, there will be challenges and difficulties to face, but rather than letting those situations dictate my direction, I can choose how I want to react.

If I had wanted an easy life I would have chosen the path of least resistance. I would not have started my own business in an industry where I had to teach myself everything, in a city where it feels as though it’s not what you do, or how well you do it, but rather who you know that dictates how much you succeed. Talk about imposing. And frustrating!

Calalita Designs was born out of necessity as much as love. There has always been an unexplainable drive to prove myself as financially independent and when I suddenly found myself married, in a country where I was neither allowed nor had to work, that desire grew into an (questionably unhealthy) obsession.

I had always wanted to have my own business and do something creative so the timing seemed ripe to somehow combine the two. I mean, if I couldn’t get a job working for someone else, why not work for myself? It took me 2 years to figure out exactly what I wanted and another 6 months to get it going.

But here I am, doing what I love and trying to find my way in this big wide world. I’m not sure where this will all lead or if it will even succeed but I can’t worry about anymore. For too long, I’ve stressed out over this unnecessary pressure I’ve put on myself, thinking I have to “succeed” in a purely monetary sense. I haven’t really mentioned that because heaven forbid I sound vain, but it’s true. The need to prove myself financially independent has steered me away from the point of Calalita Designs - to do something I loved.

I’d wake up in the morning and dread having to go into the studio, or work on a new painting. And then I’d feel guilty for not loving doing what I love. Who does that? Crazy people and me. That’s who.

The pressure I put on myself wasn't real. I finally understood that it’s been nothing but useless. I’ll have to work whenever S. Monster and I move back to the States but I don’t and can’t for right now and that’s ok. I want to do what I love and not feel like it has to succeed right this very minute or I’m a failure at life.

I just want to do the best I can with what I have and know that it's enough. Maybe it succeeds, maybe it doesn’t, but that’s ok. I don’t know where this will lead, but I believe in what I’m doing and I know that I’m on the right path.

Let's face it, this is not the easiest path, and I will continue to be plagued by difficulties, but damn if I’m not prepared to fight to stay here. I want to live a creative life - not because I feel I have to - but because I want to.

Here's to living your passion and loving your life

{via Pinterest}

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jump & Jive

This is too amazing not to (re)blog. 

Here's to a lil Sunday night groovin'

{via here}

Friday, September 2, 2011

{Travel Edition} A Romanian Pitstop

Wedged in between Budapest and Istanbul lay a brief pitstop in Romania during a 3 week Eastern European trip (read more about it here, here and here)

Misprinted train information resulted in a less than 24 hour stay rather than the initially planned 2 day adventure in this land of Gypsies and Vampires. 

Our train coming in arrived later than expected and was scheduled to depart 8 hours earlier than anticipated the following day. Mis-stamped bus tickets almost resulted in a 50 leu fine, while misquoted information from our booked lodging for the night led us on a 6 hour wild goose chase through the Transylvania countryside in search of a place we never found. As a consequence, we arrived at Bran's castle, the sole highlight of our trip, just as it closed for the evening. 

Even with the best of intentions, it was only after everything went utterly, hopelessly awry that things started to fall into place. Stranded in Bran, with no place to stay and no idea what to do, we found ourselves caught up in a moment of spontaneous uncertainty, where there was nothing to do but let go of any notion of control and embrace whatever the open road had in store.  

It was then that we met a group of 3 couples after they sat down at the table next to us. One thing led to another and we soon discovered our new neighbors were on a bike tour from Israel. They were staying at a lodge up the road and when they learned of our predicament,immediately invited us to come stay the night with them. 

With an open mind and with no other alternatives, we gathered our bags and followed them to a quaint guest house ran by a lovely French woman. The rest of the evening was spent laughing, drinking and reveling in their shared tales of adventure, travel and life. 

Romania was nothing like we had anticipated and yet it was all the better because of it. 
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