Friday, December 31, 2010

Photo Project 2011

After the success of my 365 project, I've decided to tackle another one. I've spent the last few hours, and really, the last year, thinking of ideas for another photography project. I've considered ones with specific topics or specific time frames. Sadly, I also have to take into consideration my job. My job can be very intense and time consuming at times, and other times, I seem to feel like I have all the time in the world. I really wanted to give myself a daily or a weekly assignment, but that would be foolish. I'm also spending a significant portion of time in a very snowy, not-a-lot-of-daylight area which may or may not limit my phototaking opportunities.

Instead, I scoured a few photography websites for some photo ideas and challenges and have come up with a list of 183. Significantly more than I was expecting (I was originally aiming for 52) but not quite 365. It turns out that if you double 183, you come out 366. So, basically, I need to hit each topic twice, if not more to satisfy my 365 project.

It's a pretty broad topic, and this time, I'm not tying myself to a picture a day. This will give me greater flexibility to work around my job and my free time availability. I'd like to be able to aim for a picture a day but I won't be disappointed if I don't.

This project is about letting me flex my creativity with specific goals and seeing the world through different photographic eyes.

Here's my list for those who wish to 'play along':

Photo Project 2011

Here's the official rules:
- Items must be taken between Jan 1, 2011 and Dec 31, 2011
- Each item on the list must be taken twice (or represented twice in the project folder)
- Photos may not count for more than one category [there will be 366 photos in the folder]
- The concept is that many photos must/can be taken for each subject but the best two make it into the 'finals'

Wish me luck!

p.s. Also, the previous 365 project limited me to my DSLR. Not this time, pictures can be taken with either the Digital Rebel XSi or the G12. Either one allows me to play around with controls and gets me to know more about my cameras - another benefit in this photographic exercise.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Recent Cooking Adventures

... and baking.

With all this time off, and the holiday season around, I've been doing more cooking as of late.

Mom and I decorated cupcakes for her work's graduation class:

Graduation Cupcakes

And dad made this wonderful brie in a puff pastry thing - I helped by watching.:) But it's totally something I could do on my own without ruining it.

Puff Pastry & Brie Appetizer

Puff Pastry & Brie Appetizer

Puff Pastry & Brie Appetizer

And my roommate and I made this great goat cheese & 3 greens lasagna which was surprisingly good despite its major lack of cheese:

Goat Cheese and Three Greens Lasagna

Goat Cheese and Three Greens Lasagna

I love cheese, so for me to like this almost cheese-less lasagna is saying a lot. Plus its healthy. And best of all, yummy.

More posts to come, including a White Christmas in St. Louis - the first in five years.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas...

...from my house to yours. I was raised Jewish, and though I don't celebrate Christmas in the same way as everyone else, it's never gone by unnoticed in our household. It's still a holiday and a family day.

Ever since I moved back to St. Louis, I've had a Christmas tree. I've always wanted to have one but it never made sense in our household growing up. Here are some pictures from our tree decorating this year:

Our tree, found at Home Depot:

Bare Tree

Decorations - some of my roommates favorite ornaments (she's a music teacher):

Musical Sparkly Ornaments

My ornament from my roommate last year:

My 2010 Christmas Ornament

And an ornament that I received last year for my birthday, again from my roommate:

My Birthday Ornament

My ornaments on the tree:

My Ornaments

The ornament that I gave my roommate - from Anchorage, Alaska:

KBE's 2010 Ornament
Our tree - all lit up:

Tree All Lit Up

Our tree - manual focus:

Bokeh Tree

And finally, our tree so you can see the decorations:

All Our Decorations

So I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, whether you celebrated it or not. I hope you got to spend it with friends, if not family!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One Warm-ish Winter Day/Laumeier Sculpture Park

One December day, it was unseasonably warm (50°) and sunny, so I decided the day should not be wasted indoors (even though I had two baby gifts to work on). I drove out to a local park called Laumeier Sculpture Park. If you live in St. Louis, and have never been, FOR SHAME - get in your car and go right now!

It's a lovely piece of land with a ton of sculptures on it for all to enjoy. In particular, there's a piece called the Ricardo Cat by deceased artist Niki that has mirrored mosaics that I wanted to try to take pictures in. I must've spent over half my time at Laumeier inside the cat taking pictures of my reflection distorted in mirrored tiles.

I haven't been since I went there with a friend and our cameras - and that was pre-DSLR, so I took some of the same shots. Wasn't feeling too creative after the hit-and-miss of reflection capturing.


Winter Tree

Big Red

Winter Landscape


Blue Bench

Sky Blue

Mosiac Mirror Reflections

Monday, December 20, 2010

Catching Up/St Louis Zoo

Wow... it seems like it took forever to post about my 11 days in China. Whew, glad that is over. I've got some catching up to do.

Let's start with a trip to the St. Louis Zoo, one fine, crisp late November morning. It was a beautiful 50° day with blue skies and since those days are bound to be few and far between soon enough, I decided to take advantage.

I said hello to the bears:

Walking Around

and to the penguins:

Ahhh, Sun!

whose habitat matched the temperature outside inside.

Saw another bear who was just sitting around, casually, like you do:

Sitting Casually

Aren't these leaves stunning? Proves that not everything cool at the zoo are animals:

Beautiful Rainbow-like Fall Leaves

Beautiful Rainbow-like Fall Leaves

My next stop was one of my favorites - Big Cat Country:

Two lions cuddled up together:

Cuddling Lions

A napping snow leopard:

Curled Up

a beautiful tiger:

Tiger Tiger

Who liked to show his teeth:

Looking Mean

And sat in almost perfect light, but yet never looked up at me:

Tiger Tiger

Lastly, I visited River's Edge, which I haven't been to since they created it. I saw a cheeatah:


Some pretty sun-lit plants:

Sun in Plant

And lastly, elephants:


I gave my parents an elephant for the holidays - sort of. I adopted an elephant at the Zoo on their behalf... I was so excited to give them the gift (an adoption certificate and a pretty plush elephant) and make them adoptive parents again. They loved it! (Whew!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Life List - Revamped

I have a feeling that my list will be ever evolving, as I have new experiences and make me think of different things that I want to accomplish for myself. Here's the original list and the update. I will always link back to the posts about the accomplishments.

I don't think I've taken any off, but I added enough to make it up to 100.

1. Make a weekly happy list for a year and publish it here.

2. Live in a city I love, or at least, don't hate.

3. Help someone else cross something off their list.

4. Learn another language.

5. Visit all 50 states. (And stay a night if possible or visit a significant locale and spend some quality time there. Simply driving through and stopping to eat does not count)

6. Go back to writing good old-fashioned letters.

7. Fall in love.

8. Get paid for my photography or a photo of mine.

9. Lose weight and keep it off.

10. Incorporate exercise into my daily or weekly routine.

11. Teach someone to read. Bonus points if it’s an adult.

12. Become a better photographer and master my camera.

13. See a movie at a drive-in.

14. Take a picture every day for a year.

15. Take a road trip across the US.

16. Raise and train my own dog.

17. Remove money as a driving concern in my life.

18. Make a high-school reading list of books I never read. Read them.

19. Fly first class, preferably internationally.

20. Train a dog to help others (seeing eye dog, therapy dog, rescue dog, I’m not picky.)

21. Live in a house with a porch, preferably wrap-around.

22. Visit all the national parks in the continental United States.

23. Spend New Year's Eve on a beach.

24. Have a baby.

25. See Northern Lights in person.

26. Grown my own food. (I’m talking like an herb or vegetable garden, not farming.)

27. Learn how to do my own taxes.

28. Help build a house for Habitat for Humanity.

29. Visit South Korea.

30. Build some of my own furniture (IKEA and DIY kits don’t count).

31. Go on a hot air balloon ride.

32. Visit the Crater of Diamonds and hopefully find one.

33.Get over my fear of needles and join the Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and maybe save someone’s life.

34. Own my own home.

35. Consolidate my possessions and learn to live less materialistically.

36. Eat more locally.

37. Learn how to cook less like a college student again.

38. Learn how to play a stringed instrument (violin?) don't have to be good

39. Make more time for reading books.

40. Take a calligraphy course, in order to improve my handwriting. (worked the last time, for awhile)

41. Travel via train, preferably cross-country.

42. Own a piece of Chihuly glass.

43. Be a bridesmaid.

44. Donate to a charity regularly, despite my non-richness.

45. See a really spectacular fall foliage display since I’ve lived in areas without seasons for too long.

46. See the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC in full bloom.

47. Donate blood despite my fear of needles and tendency to pass out when donating said blood.

48. See a sunrise or sunset on a beach.

49. Start Assignment:St. Louis.

50. Throw a surprise party. Because those are the best kind.

51. Try my hand at non-camera related visual arts.

52. Locks of Love. I’d love to be able to help someone out by growing my hair long again.

53. Have one of my photographs hung on the wall of someone else's house.

54. Reconnect people from my past that I've lost touch with.

55. See 'classic movies' that I haven't seen. Will take suggestions.

56. Learn how to use Photoshop to enhance my photos - just to see what I'm missing.

57. Photograph a Day in My Life and Blog about it.

58. Learn how to budget properly and stick to it.

59. Learn sign language. Don’t have to be fluent, but it’d be nice to learn some of the basics besides fingerspelling.

60. Travel overseas again. I’ve only been twice, and I should go again.

61. Make a new dish a week (bonus points if its healthy). At least a month, longer if possible. Document and post about it.

62. Get hired overseas.

63. Learn how to make pottery.

64. Make a stained glass window.

65. Learn how to make my own jewelry.

66. Teach myself origami.

67. Have a piece of my writing published somewhere other than my blog.

68. Meet a panda outside of a zoo. Going to a panda sanctuary counts.

69. Hold a koala. Or meet a kangaroo.

70. See an opera at the Met.

71. Float in the Dead Sea. Apparently, it's drying up and maybe I should go before it's a myth.

72. Drive along Route 66.

73. Enter a photography competition. Bonus points if a finalist or winner.

74. Re-visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s house.

75. Have a photo published somewhere other than flickr or my blog.

76. Visit Auschwitz and/or Dachau.

77. See famous works of art in person. This may involve a trip to the Louvre.

78. Achieve some of your life goals with friends and family.

79. Sleep under the stars. (Yes, I've camped, but I'm talking sleeping outside of a tent).

80. Plant a tree.

81. Learn how to blow glass.

82. Stay at a Bed and Breakfast.

83. Take underwater pictures.

84. Stay at a 5 star hotel for no particular reason.

85. Take a walk in the rain. On purpose.

86. Do something nice for someone who will never find out.

87. Register for and complete a walk for a good cause like cancer or alzheimer’s.

88. Listen to the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

89. Volunteer for a non-profit organization that defends/helps victims of domestic violence. Because no one should have to go through that.

90. See opera in Italy.

91. Go on a cruise. (I’ve been before as a teenager, but would like to go again)

92. Climb up the Statue of Liberty.

93. Ride a steamboat down the Mississippi River.

94. Watch every movie that has won an Academy Award for Best Picture. They earned that award for a reason.

95. Make a difference in at least one person’s life.

96. Volunteer at a Homeless shelter.

97. Join a disaster relief effort.

98. Tour Ellis Island. Because it’s an important piece of history.

99. Go to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

100. Blog about each item done.

#60 and #62 - Complete

60. Travel overseas again. I’ve only been twice, and I should go again.

62. Get hired overseas.

Well, I got that done in one fell swoop in late October. Don't need to link back to the pages because that's all I've been posted about for the last month and a half. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

China Adventure Recap

Overall Thoughts

(This was written on my last morning when I was waking up. For the record, my first meal back was a bagel w/ egg and cheese - and later, personal pan pizza, I think. Mom & Dad made a very delicious NON-ASIAN meal to welcome my tired dragging self home.)

-Beijing drivers have no sense of traffic rules, no matter what. A drive is always nervewraacking. Yet almost all cars have not a scratch on them.

-Subways are very crowded – and just when you think a car is packed by American standards, they cram more people in. No personal space; shoving is commonplace.

-If I never see a squat toilet again, or have to carry my own toilet paper or hand sanitizer, it would not be soon enough.

-Dragonfruit is one of my new favorite fruits.

-Chinese hotel breakfast is nothing like American breakfasts. Kind of good though.

-I eat two meals a day here – I could get into this habit – oh wait, I do.

-RMB to USD conversion still gives me a headache.

-Everything is so cheap.

-I can’t wait to sleep in my own more comfortable bed.

-Brushing one’s teeth with bottled water takes a little practice.

-While I’ve had great and delicious meals here, I’m looking forward to a bacon cheeseburger or something equally American.

And here's a quick list of links of all the China posts for your viewing pleasure:

China, Day .5 and Day 1
China, Day 2 and Day 3
China, Day 4
China, Days 5 and 6
China, Day 7
China, Day 8
China, Day 9 - Forbidden City, Tianamen, Hutong
China, Day 10.1 - Great Wall
China, Day 10.2 - Summer Palace
China, Day 11.1 - Temple of Heaven
China, Day 11.2 - Wangfujing Snack Street

Sunday, December 12, 2010

China, Day 11.2 - Wangfujing Snack Street

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A fellow blogger and friend mentioned that a place we couldn't miss was Wangfujing Snack Street. And she was right. I haven't seen anything like it ever in my life. Virtually anything you wouldn't believe they'd serve as food, they do.

Food Booths

Food Booths

One of my fellow companions, PP, was determined to try scorpion. And he did. And then our other adventurous eater, KS, also tried one. Both tried further amazing items that the rest of us (AB and I) wouldn't touch. If I don't know what it is, I won't touch it and 95% of what I could identify, I didn't really want to get anywhere near.

Oh Yes He Did

I was, however, content to watch and take pictures. I don't recommend looking at these pictures while eating and/or if you have a weak stomach. What I didn't include is the video of the scorpions alive, wiggling on their sticks - pre-cooking.

For your viewing pleasure:

Scorpions (you can't see them waving here):

These Were Alive and Wiggling

Bugs of unknown nature:

Bugs on a Stick



Candied apples (relatively safe):

Candied Apples

Unknown seafood creatures:

Yes, those are centipedes or millipedes:

EWWW - Centipides on a Stick

LRK, don't look here - ewwww spiders? Really?


OMG, no:

Various Skewered Creatures

Scorpions and Seahorses

Sea Urchins

Birds? Don't Look Mom

This looks safe, but probably isn't:


We also visited a nearby silk mall…

Silk Silk Silk

Silk Silk Silk

and a tea shop (no pictures), and grabbed some green tea ice cream. And tried to hail a cab which was nearly impossible, even using their secret weapon (me, the token Asian). We encountered a Beijing mental health hospital, innumerable bikes and a Chinese Fire station.

Green Tea Ice Cream

We Think This Is a Mental Institution

That's a Lot of Tires

Chinese Firehouse

And we capped off our final meal at a place with little English on the menu and near to the hotel. We again had our secret weapon, LKL, who helped us pick just the right dishes. Including an amazing tofu one that was like soft tofu (but consistency of polenta) in what seemed to be a sweet and sour sauce.

Our Last Beijing Meal - Yum

Then it was one last meet-up for a drink and off to bed for me. I had the oh-dark-thirty flight which I complained about at the time, but in retrospect was the lucky one. Three of my companions who also left on Halloween got stuck with travel delays for about a half day or so... I was home in St Louis before they were taking off from Beijing.

I have a handful of photos from the airport and a summary post to follow and I'll finally be caught up... almost a month later.