Friday, 6 January 2012

new52 | roundup

Round up time! After trying real hard to fit new things into my life in the past year, I feel I need to take stock and have a look back at what I accomplished, and what challenges I will have to look forward to in the future.

At the beginning of 2011 I wrote a list of things that would be neat to do. The list didn't have 52 things on it, I'm not that imaginative, but it did have enough to keep me covered for half of the year. I figured maybe stuff would be coming along due to life just going about its merry little way. Oh what a fool I am. I lead a life very far from excitement and happenings. I get up at the crack of dawn, go to work, come home way too late, have dinner, work on the computer and go to bed. And that is pretty much it. Where all those new things would appear from I have no idea. So suffice it to say; it was a real challenge.

I did do a lot of new things this year, though. Many of them I am very proud of.
Like the huge thing I took on with a with great apetite; cooking a three course gourmet meal for the husband each month (ok, so December was really stressful and I am doing that one today - rösti with caviar, chimmichurry surf & turf, and riccotta choc pudding with strawberry coulis). This one had me so very nervous, every month, but I did it and did it well. It ended up being a huge confidence booster for me.

Another huge thing was that I saw a coach for three months to work on my "issues" with self worth, confidence, and putting an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself. That was the most important thing I did all year. It made me stop and take a look at all the crappy things I have been doing to myself for as long as I can remember. It also gave me a wealth of tricks to use to help me treat myself better.

Here are a couple of other things I did throughout the year:
Get a pair of red leather pumps
Wear black nail polish
Try 12 new wines
Visit 4 new restaurants in our city
Have both champagne and a beauty treatment on my birthday
Start Zumba
Ride our new metro
Upgrade to Bare Minerals from the cheapo brand I used before
Get comfortable editing photos in ACR
Take a photography class
Do my hair and wear make up at least once a week
Get a new brand for my skin care regimen (this one ended up not working and I went back to the old one)
Watch a UEFA Champions league football (soccer) game
Get an iPhone
See masterpiece art by Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Da Vinci's The Last Supper in Italy
Take a 30 day phone photo challenge
Get a P&S camera

Things I had wanted to do but never got round to:
Learn to put my head under water
Get a driver's license
Read the Sookie Stackhouse series
Get Illustrator
Take our self portraits every month
Learn how to sew (which would also have to include getting a machine)

I have decided to aim to do these things this year. If I don't, I won't hold it against me though.

So, to summarize; I am really glad I did this challenge. Not only did I get to do fun little things, but I also got to work on becoming a better person. I won't be doing this challenge in an organized way again this year but I will try to keep the spirit of it alive. Development, that's what it's all about!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

new52 | 30 days of photography

This week I finished a project I have been working on for the whole month of November. I found a photo challenge on Pinterest with prompts for each day of the month and thought it would be cool to give it a go. I've done the photo a day challenges before, but never before with specific prompts and never with my phone, so it would be a new experience for me.
I got a little behind every now and then, especially on uploading to Instagram, as I was away for a week and then spent another one at home doing practically nothing. But I did my best to catch up and actually finished on the last day of the month.

I decided pretty early on that I would make a mini book out of the project, because really, what else is there to do with a project like this if you don't want to post a picture on your blog every single day? I went with a very simple design of the whole thing and was able to finish it tonight. It got me pretty excited but then I noticed that I didn't have enough 12x12 paper to print it. So instead of the finished product I will post each spread. Once I've got it all printed and assembled, I will get back to the project here on the blog.
I used papers and elements from my Get Happy kit for the whole book. I wanted a cohesive and muted look. As the photos are small and pretty straight forward - I mean, they aren't exactly masterpieces - I didn't want too much stuff on each page to take away from the photos. I might or might not add a little something once it's printed.

Front/back covers

Day 1 and 2

Day 3 and 4

Day 5 and 6

Day 7 and 8

Day 9 and 10

Day 11 and 12

Day 13 and 14

Day 15 and 16

Day 17 and 18

Day 19 and 20

Day 21 and 22

Day 23 and 24

Day 25 and 26

Day 27 and 28

Day 29 and 30

It was a fun project to do, even though some days were real challenges. But that's the whole point, right? I think I will try to do this again next year. Perhaps it would be cool to do on all the months that have 30 days? That would give me four really cool mini books to look back on once the year is over. I think it would be a nice addition to the P52 project.

Oh, and I also saw that there is a challenge for holiday photos up as well now. Could be an easy alternative to December Daily, which I always get really impressed with but never have the energy to do. I will have to think about this until tomorrow ... I know I could catch up with the two photos that have already passed for day one and two.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

new52 | anniversary

One of the things I had on my list of things to do this year when I first started the project was to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a really good champagne on a trip outside of the country. On our honeymoon in Thailand we said we'd go back for our 10th, then that destination changed over the years to NYC. This year we finally decided to go to Italy and Milano. So we have spent the past week eating a lot of fantastic food, drinking really great champagne and wine, seeing some excellent sights, and doing some pretty decent shopping.

I've been to Milano twice before, to visit my sister who lives there, so that wasn't the new thing but I did get a couple of new things in anyway. Well, celebrating ten years of marriage for one. Haven't done that before, LOL.

Other new things:
We visited the La Scala museum and were fortunate enough to get to see the rehersals for Don Giovanni. Seriously, that place is truly stunning. My only regret for this trip was that we didn't get tickets for a concert or an opera. That will have to come next time for sure.

We visted the Pinacoteca di Brera and saw paintings by my favourite artist Monet, among many others (including Picasso and Van Gogh). I am in complete awe of Monet's technique.

We saw Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece The Last Supper and I was floored. Now, this piece of art is severely damaged and is in a completely bare room. But the history of it, and the fact that it is still competely amazing makes it truly one of a kind. We were only allowed to stay for ten minutes, but during that time I couldn't take my eyes off it.

I had pizza fresca, which has neither tomato sauce nor melted cheese. It had a chili oil on the crust, small balls of mozzarella, shrimp, fresh tomatoes and arugula. It was totally not what I expected to get, but it was good none the less.

I bought a couple new things as well, including a pair of shoes, a sequined tank top, and a small purse with a leather rose on it.

Other than that we did a bunch of fun things like watch football, eat at fabulous restaurants, visit an outlet shopping center, and spend lots of time with my sister and her boyfriend. All in all it was a fantastic trip and anniversary.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

new52 | photography class

So the other week I wrote about my opportunity to go on a photo walk with my dad's photography group. I went, as you know, and it just so happened that I was invited to join the group. The group meet about two or three times a month and though technically it's a class they have it set up more like a discussion where all the class members participate and contribute. Each member brings three or four photographs and then those photographs form the basis of the night's discussion. So the teaching of artistical and technical aspects are brought up in a natural way during the discussions. I really like that.

I was giddy and nervous all at the same time for my first class meeting this week. My dad had informed me that the theme for class this week was portraits. Oh man, jumping in at the deep end straight away! Alright, so I printed a few, swallowed, and counted to ten to still my nerves.

It was interesting to see the others' work and hear the discussions. About half of the group are professional photographers and most of the rest have been shooting seriously for several years. I am definitely the baby when it comes to both age and experience. But I was greeted with enthusiasm and warmth from all of them which made me feel safe enough to participate in the discussions. I did notice that many times when we looked at the others' work I focused much more on the feeling of the photograph than the others seemed to do. But I guess it's only natural that the technical aspect is the main focus for photographers.

My work? Yeah, it got mixed reviews. But the feedback was fair enough. I got compliments on my composition in the photos but constructive chritisism on my editing. Most of them thought several of the photos were too bright. Personally I think that is a matter of photography style and taste, especially since none of them were blown out, but I do appreciate the feedback and will take it into consideration. My conclusion when I left was that I have a long ways to go yet before I can call myself a decent picture taker. But that's ok.

For next time we have an assignment to all take a photo (or more) at the same place in the city. That instantly made me super nervous. It's my performance anxiety rearing its ugly head again, of course. We will see how it goes.

Here's two of the photos I brought this week that they thought I should go back and edit.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

new52 | photo walk and tapas

Last week I was invited to join a photo walk with the photography group that my dad is a member of. It was my very first photo walk. I did sign up for a Scott Kelby photo walk in my city a few years ago but chickened out when I got emails from the local organizers about all the equipment they recommended. I admit I was a bit intimidated this time as well, when my dad told me several of the others coming were professional photographers who have been published - as in having their own photography books - and make a living out of it. But I had serious a conversation with myself and tagged along.

So there I was with a bunch of men in their 50s, walking around in the woods, looking for a good shot. I felt like the odd ball, LOL, and a bit stressed by the fact that everyone was walking and shooting at the same place, so I didn't get all too many shots. Here are a few, though.

Edited to add:
Oh, and I also did my monthly cooking session last week. I wanted to do a seafood dinner so I went with scallops for starter. This dish was lovely; scallops on apple and spinach with an apple cider glaze.

For main course I did moules! Yay! I love mussles. This dish was surprisingly much easier than I first thought when I read the recipe; mussles with fennel, orange and anis over roasted potaties and fennel. So delicious.

The dessert turned out to not be what I had originally planned but it panned out well anyway. I had planned to make a lemon panna cotta with a pomegranate sauce. Well, the sauce part turned out to be a hot mess, so I had to exchange it for strawberries and dark chocolate. It tasted nice enough in the end though.

This week the husband had a birthday and we've had several celebrations. We had a party for the immediate family on Saturday, but more on that later, and on Monday we went to a new to me restauant for a little celebration of our own. The restaurant is a tapas place, and it was completely awesome, just listen to this; marinated shrimp with horseradish cream, grilled green asparagus with truffle oil, duck liver paté with  marmelade, orange creme brulée with moscatel wine. Wow. It turned out to be an amazing evening. I love trying new restaurants!

I didn't bring a camera, I wanted to bring a small chic bag, so the only photo I have is from the iphone.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

new52 | not much going on

I feel like I need to get my butt in gear when it comes to new things in my life. For the past several weeks I have just been stuck in my usual tracks, doing what I do every single day. One would have thought that I would be used to thinking new by now, 39 weeks into the year. But I guess 37 years of same old same old weighs heavier ... Shape up, girl!

For this week, a couple of little new things. I went to a big breakfast seminar held by the city on netowrking, online and IRL. It was the first time I have attended something like this and it was interesting. The speakers were of varied quality and not everything that was talked about gave me something. But I did get some food for thought, and it was verified for me again that I don't have the natural talent to be a successful self employed entrepreneur. If I ever want to make it big in the design world, in my own brand, I will need to work very hard on networking and self promotion - basically putting myself out there and not feeling like I should be making excuses for taking up space.
Incidentally I took a shot with Instagram before stepping in, and even though it has nothing to do with the topic, I'll put it here anyway as I think it's quite pretty.

The husband and I had lunch together at a new to us restaurant this week. We don't get to do that so very often due to our different working situations, but when we do it's always quite lovely. This time we went to a place called Stereo. It was a nice enough place, rather cool looking and I think it would be a decent place to visit for a drink in the evening. The food itself was rather blah. We were both a bit disappointed with the quality based on the price of it. But I guess it is impossible to find great stuff if you're not willing to risk getting bad stuff as well. Picture also taken with Instagram, and I don't want tog et stuck in a long talk about that but it's all kinds of brilliant. I love the ease. I can clearly see why some people see no need for a "real" camera when they can just use their phone.

We went to see the first Europa league home game this week. Even though we've seen the qualifications to the Champions league earlier this season, this was my first time seeing a game in one of the European cups live.

On Friday I cooked my monthly meal for the husband. Way to go getting that in on the last day of the month. :) I did cook last week as well but that was technically August's meal. This time I had to skip making a starter simply because it was Friday night and we didn't get home from work until past six o'clock. I chose to go with a Swedish classic home cooking style dinner this time. For main course I made boiled cod with egg sauce, served with boiled potato and peas. I cooked the fish just a teensy bit too long, but other than that it was a really nice and healthy dish.

For dessert I made an apple pie with custard. I usually prefer apple crumble to "real" pie, but I have never made a pie like this before so I wanted to give it a try. It turned out lovely but very rich and filling.

So, nothing ground breaking this week either, but that is kind of my life at the moment.

Monday, 12 September 2011

new52 | times two

Alright, two weekends ago I woke up early and didn't really know what to do with my day. I thought long and hard on what would be fun enough for a Saturday in September. Cleaning? No! Gardening? No! Ironing? God forbid! In the end I pestered the husband until he couldn't take it any longer and gave me a ride into town so that I could get myself one of these:

What a neat little gadget it is! I can certainly see myself spending way too much time with this one. The funny thing is that I said about two years ago when I got my last phone that I wouldn't ever need an Iphone. I figured I had my dSLR for taking pics and my computer for doing everything else - what would I need the Iphone for? LOL, what an idiot I am. I've consequently spent two years not knowing what I've been missing. It wasn't until the husband got one a few months back that I started to realize that it would be kind of cool to have one. So I guess I'm the last idiot in the world? But I'm happy. It's sleek, it's shiny, it's powerful. Anyone who wants to give me suggestions for cool apps, just go for it!

Last week I had a work related function with a dinner and a related activity afterwards. Now there were many firsts for me here. First, I shot a rifle. Never did that before, and I think it will be a while until I do it again. I literally sucked big time. Aim is really not a talent I was graced with at birth. Alright, so I came last in that game. Shook that off pretty easily. Then, golf. Oh man. I never played golf before either, unless you count the sporadic miniature golf game during nice summer nights. And so, no, I don't think I'll try golf again any time soon. Sucked at that game as well. The night continued with games that found me last on the list of competitors but do you want to know the biggest thing of all new things that night? I sucked big time at every game we tried that evening and was totally ok with it. With my over achiever, have-to-be-perfect-at-everything personality, this is something I will always have to work on for the rest of my life. What felt really great though was that for the first time it didn't bother me that I was completely atrocious. Let's celebrate the small things, people!

Another positive new thing that night was the macaroon I had with dessert. I can't believe I've never had one before. It was so lovely! Defenitely will have to do that one again at least.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

new52 | mini recipe book

Um, I think I never wrote about my adventure in newness last week. So please bear with me while I get back on track here. :)

OK, so last week I decided to up the ante on my cooking part of this year's challenge to myself by announcing that I cook dinner (or lunch) every day of the week. You guys should have seen the husband's face when I said it. It was a mix of disbelief, amusement, and worry. That kind of matched how I was feeling inside, but that isn't anything I chose to share with him. So careful thought went into choosing recipes that would give maximum amount of taste for minimun amount of work. Now, this wasn't supposed to be like the three course dinners, just regular weekly dinner type of recipes which would take 30 minutes tops. I was also really careful to choose dishes where we had most of the ingredients at home already.

The week flew by and I did quite well, I think. I was able to finish all dishes without burning the house to the ground, and I was also able to keep my nerves and my temper under control. I knew I would get stressed, and saw that as my biggest challenge, but I'm proud to say that I handled it well.

At the end of the week I decided to do something with the photos of the food that I took throughout the week and ended up designing a simple little book with the papers and elements from my Gourmet kit. I didn't get around to printing and assembling until today due to lots to do on my first week back at work after the holiday.

Here's what it ended up looking like:

I chose to put it together like a real cook book, with a foreword and directions. I quite like how it turned out. I think the humour in me of all people doing a cookbook (even if I got the recipes from elsewhere) makes it all the better.

Alright, now this week has been super busy so I've devoted most of my time to work, work trips, and laundry. I did get to witness a great moment on Tuesday though, when we saw our local team Malmö FF play Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League play offs. It was my first time watching a game live that is considered to be part of the actual Champions League Cup, and to hear the cup anthem being played when the players walked onto the pitch gave me chills. We played so well in this game, and we were on our feet screaming during the latter part of the game. Unfortunately, due to having played horribly in the away game, we didn't qualify. It was still an awesome experience. The worst part was that I was first turned away due to having a dSLR camera. Apparently UEFA (European football association) has a ban on "large" cameras. Oh, the ignorance! But I digress! I had to run back to our car and leave the camera, so the only photo I have is one that the husband took with this Iphone.