Thursday, May 29, 2014

Getaway- Fort Lauderdale, Florida

This past weekend Greg and I took a much needed long weekend getaway. I had been wanting to take a trip for awhile but there never seemed to be a good time to go. Finally one day I just decided to pull the trigger and after some quick research I came upon Fort Lauderdale. I had actually been there when I was kid but didn't remember much about it. All I really wanted was a destination that was an easy plane ride away with a hotel on the beach. Fort Lauderdale fit all of these criteria and was within our budget. It turned out to be just what we were looking for and exactly what we needed.  The weather was perfect and the beach atmosphere was really soothing. 
We booked the W Hotel because we've had positive experiences with this chain on past trips. Within walking distance of all the restaurants, bars and shops but far enough away from the crowds, this was the perfect choice for us.

When we arrived Friday night we walked down the main strip to check out the sights. Outdoor restaurants and bars lined the street opposite the beach, attracting tourists with their giant drinks. There was definitely a party atmosphere and we had fun just walking around. We settled on a place called The Drunken Taco and proceeded to chow down on tacos and margaritas. We really appreciated the quality of the margaritas- the only ingredients were tequila, lime juice and 100% organic agave nectar. I love margaritas but I don't like when they are full of sour mix and sugar so these definitely fit the bill.

I had a great run along the beach the next morning while Greg headed to CrossFit. He can't stay away, even on vacation. Many CrossFitters visit other boxes while away so this isn't an uncommon thing to do. He ended up at Riptide CrossFit in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Greg met some really awesome people there that we ended up hanging out with during our stay. We always enjoy meeting new people on our trips and this time was no different. We shared some laughs and a few drinks.
Sunday morning I got Greg to do yoga on the beach with me. It was provided free from the hotel and it was a great way to start the day. Fort Lauderdale is a really active community. Every morning people could be found running along the beach, doing yoga and boot camp classes or just doing their own routine on the soft white sand. It was something I really enjoyed about the setting and wished that we had that at home.
We mostly divided our time between the beach and the pool. Having our hotel right on the beach worked out really well because it was easy to switch back and forth if we wanted a change of scenery. The ocean water was absolutely amazing. I am not too big on going in the ocean, I get a little freaked out by sea life, but the water and sand were just beautiful. It provided a great reprieve from the scorching sun.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Sun Surf Sand overlooking the beach where Greg was finally able to find his beloved IPA's. The bar was half indoor and half outdoor and we were able to walk back and forth from the beach when we wanted to grab another drink. We decided to head downtown on our last night to check out Las Olas Blvd.  There were lots of restaurants, shops and art galleries. Our plan was to walk the whole area before deciding on somewhere to have dinner but we were both starving when we got there and popped in to a wine and cheese shop we passed by called Cheese Culture. It ended up being a great choice. We ordered half price glasses of wine at the bar and munched on tasty salads and sandwiches. It was so good we stopped by there again for lunch on our way out of town the next day.
The trip provided a great recharge for Greg and I and some much needed time together. I am so grateful we were able to take this time for ourselves.

Where did you spend Memorial Day weekend? Did you take advantage of the extended weekend to get out of town? Or spend quality time at home with family? Sometimes I love just hanging out at home when I have time off but it's great to get away every now and then.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Camera Shy

For Christmas I asked for my first DSLR camera, a real camera. I wanted to be able to take beautiful photographs like I see all over the internet and my point and shoot was sorely lacking.  I was so excited to open it up but then I had absolutely no idea what to do with it. So many buttons and options that all meant nothing to me. I started reading the 300 page instruction manual but then I got even more discouraged and it sat in the box for about two months. My next step was to take advantage of a Groupon for a DSLR 101 class at Berger Bros Camera shop. This turned out to be a great starting point. The instructor boiled it down to the features most often used and gave understandable explanations on how and when to apply them. I also contacted our wedding photographer, Laura Ryan, for some general camera advice. She recommended that I get a 50mm f/1.8 lens to add to my kit as she used that the most when she was just starting out. I did a quick search to see what results I would get with this lens and I realized it would produce the types of photographs that I am always admiring on other blogs. I was so excited to get started after I attended the class but it was right as I was starting my yoga teacher training so almost all of my free time was taken up with that. Now that I just finished my training I am definitely going to make time to really start exploring how to use this camera and I am asking for some new equipment for my birthday this week-

-Most blogs and camera tutorials I have read recommend getting a tripod, especially for shooting interior photographs of your house which I plan to do.
-A 50mm lens as mentioned above, this has been recommended to me by multiple sources. 

Let me stress again that I know next to nothing about cameras or taking photographs so I just found these items by searching on Amazon and reading the reviews.

 As much as I need help with my photography skills I also have much to learn about blogging. I recently enrolled in an online blogging course where I partnered up with Joyelle of Cloud and Day. Joyelle is a wedding and lifestyle photographer who also keeps a blog to document her photographs of everyday life.  Joyelle’s photographs are beautiful. I love her attention to detail, she makes you feel like you are right there with her.

I did a short Q&A with Joyelle to see how she got started in photography and what she would recommend for a newbie like me-

-How did you get started in this field? 
J: I always loved photography, and after college I had a job in research. But I decided to take a night class in photography for fun. I was hooked!

-Who or what do you love to photograph?
J: I love shooting everything- people, interiors, weddings, products. The most important thing to me is the light. I love photographing in great light! 

-Favorite piece of equipment?
J: My 50mm lens. I don't use zoom lenses, I love my 50mm the best. My feet are the best "zoom" that I have.

-What advice do you have for beginners?
J: Shoot, shoot, shoot. And look at your work. Don't let your photos live on a memory card or on a hard drive. You really have to look at your work to see what's working and what isn't working. Then adjust, correct, and keep shooting.

-What is a must have camera accessory for someone starting out?
J: Honestly, more than anything, it's extra memory cards. This goes along with what I said about shooting nonstop. Get a lot of memory cards and fill them. Also, always have an extra battery. In terms of lenses, start with one great lens, the lower the aperture, the better. You don't need a lot of lenses to start. Get one great lens and use it as much as you can. 

-Why did you decided to start a blog?
J: I shoot a lot for myself and I just wanted a place to show my work (other than just a Facebook page). The blog has been a great creative outlet for me.

-What is your favorite photography blog to follow?
J: Alice Gao, Lingered Upon ( Her work is just stunning.

Thanks Joyelle, for sharing your story and advice!

Are you a newbie just starting out like me? Or have you been photographing for years and have some great tips for us amateurs? I can’t wait to get my 50mm lens and start snapping away.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Color Inspiration: Black + White

I recently added touches of black and white in our living room- a rug, a pouf, pillows, a vase…it took me a really long time to get our living room to where it is now and it still needs work but I think these touches really helped bring the room together. The walls are aqua and previously I kept trying to bring in different accent colors (orange, green, yellow) to play off the walls but none of them felt right. I finally realized that I just needed to let the walls be the star and keep the rest of the room neutral. Now the room feels cohesive and comfortable.

Here are some black and white items I rounded up that could work with almost any color scheme. 

'Be You' picture- I could see this in an entryway, a child’s room, a bathroom, anywhere really.
Rug- Stripes go with everything, this one could be really fun in a living or dining room.
Oversized basket- Perfect for hiding toys or a mess when company is coming over. Just throw a blanket over it and you’re all set.
Knobs- Change out the knobs the came with your dresser, buffet or entertainment unit, such a quick and easy update. 
Striped box- Store all of your remotes in here instead of the crevices of your couch.
Shaggy pillow- Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up to this on the couch? And it adds great texture to the room.

Ever paint a room a bold color and then have nothing to go with it? What are your go to accessory colors? Sometimes you get a room right the first time but I think more often than not a room comes together over time which can give a more layered look.