August 31, 2012

A Mac update + Friday Features

Week One with my new iMac is coming to a close, and I would just like to say WHAT. A. DIFFERENCE. This PC girl is converted. Of course, any new computer is going to be super fast, but I think Photoshop and Lightroom just run better on here than they ever would have on my laptop. I am editing at lightning speed, and it's easier to not get distracted by my phone and the Internet when I'm not constantly waiting on one program or another to decide it would like to respond in a timely manner. So far my verdict on the Mac purchase is: Best investment ever. 

There are lots of little intuitive things I'm discovering about the Mac, which I suspected I would. It is smooth like butter, and my quality of life zoomed through the roof this week. If a computer can do that for you, then it's worth its weight in gold.

Anyway. Here's some cool ladies to keep you busy this weekend. Check 'em out.

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Oh how I love me some Becky and her blog, Apples of Gold. Becky is a breath of fresh air--open, honest, a fabulous writer, a mom, a wife, and a New Yorker turned California girl. I love this post she wrote about the reality of marriage. Please, do yourself a favor and go read a little more about her here!


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Charlottote’s Web is a blog by, you guessed it, a girl named Charlotte! Charlotte is a funny chick with a dry sense of humor (my favorite) (go here and see what I mean), and she resides across the pond in England with live-in cats and a bunny and a boyfriend. I'm looking forward to her current top 10 series! Go on over and see what Charlotte's Web is all about.


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Kerry keeps a beautiful blog called Throw You A Rose, and I promise if you delve into it a bit, you'll be hooked! Kerry is a wonderful, witty writer that paints a really lovely picture with words. PLEASE read this post! That is just a little sample of the kind of goodness you can expect from miss Kerry. Go. You will love her.


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Happy Friday, folks.

August 30, 2012

At Hillside Farmacy

First of all, I would just like to say WOW on the response to yesterday's post. Writing it was sort of an afterthought late Tuesday night--the product of being fed up with myself and my habits, and just wanting to get it all out there for accountability's sake. I didn't realize that so, so many of us are struggling with the exact same thing. How awesome that we can be more aware now, and take steps towards "reform!" I am trying out some new techniques this morning. I prayed and meditated on the day to come instead of checking my phone as I had my coffee, and now I have more of a "game plan" for the day written out in list form. Also, my phone is turned on completely silent and stowed away in my desk drawer for now (only to be checked after I complete tasks), and I have an old fashioned, ticking timer beside me on the desk to remind me how much time I'm allotting for certain things. We'll see how today goes! We can do this!

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On another note, yesterday my mom and I visited a new joint in town called Hillside Farmacy, which is a way cool, converted old pharmacy turned restaurant on the east side. It was SO fabulous! Pretty much a blogger/photographer's dream, with lots of fun things to take pictures of. (and the food was awesome, too!)

There were salvaged old pharmacy cabinets and drawers still complete with their antique drug labels, framed old prescription slips, mason jars, old fashioned milk bottles, and... well, I'll let the photos do the talking. If you're in Austin, you simply MUST stop in this place. I highly recommend the Watermelon Salad and the Mac & Cheese. To die for.

























August 29, 2012

My blog gave me ADD

there's a reason my hair isn't in this picture.

This here little blog's birthday is coming up next month, and I would like to reflect for a moment upon what the last two years of addiction to passion for blogging and social media have done for me.

Besides all of the wonderful things, which I would not like to discuss here today, the birth of this blog and hence my deep immersal into all things Internet and Social Media related has given me one gnarly, gnarly case of ADD. Now that I am launching my own business, I'm realizing more than ever just how severe the case really is as I try to get legit, people-are-paying-me-to-do-this-work work done.

I used to be able to concentrate sometimes. I used to be able to spend more than 10 consecutive minutes on one project, or heck, one THOUGHT. That is no longer the case. Most of the time I feel like there are 4 million thoughts bouncing around my head all at the same time, and an even greater number of overall distractions when I'm trying to work on something.

Phone calls. Emails. Texts from friends. Twitter.  Facebook. Instagram. The four tabs I have open on Chrome or Safari. My mom FaceTiming me since now we both have iMacs and she knows I'm always on my computer. ;)  (love you Mom.) I actively participate in all kinds of communication media, but I'm also addicted to the feedback,  which prevents me from just setting it down and concentrating on what I need to concentrate on, whether that's cleaning my house, tackling my inbox, editing photos, or making progress on some other project.

It. Is. Bad. I find myself having very few original thoughts anymore. Or really, very few real thoughts at all, because I don't even allow myself time to just sit and be. Red stop light? What a perfect time to check my email or Facebook or Instagram or return a text. Toilet break? Same deal. Cooking dinner? The phone is nearby, you can bet your behind on it. Bed time? Excellent opportunity to read blogs! Alarm just went off in the morning? Why don't I wake my mind by skimming some emails. I cram information into every iota of time in my day, but is it really even information, or is it just mindless consumption of pictures and text? I think it's more the latter, and like I said, also a way to feed my addiction to feedback. Holy crap, I just wrote that sentence and then clicked over to Facebook to see if there was anything interesting going on. ADD, I tell you. The Internet did it to me.

Sometimes I imagine how incredibly productive I could be if I focused on one and only one task at a time. Left my phone downstairs while I'm working, or just turned it face down on silent.  Prayed in the car, instead of checking my email at every light. I even listen to audio books on long drives now--I told my mom it's so I don't have to be alone with my thoughts. Ha. But what if we do? What if we all just leave ourselves alone with our thoughts for a while? Close the other tabs. Turn down the music. What would happen? Would our writing be better? Would we have more time for the people we love? Would we feel happier, and more fulfilled? I think it'd be worth a try, anyway.

One last thing. Back when I was doing all my pre-reqs in college, I had to take two torturous algebra classes. Had to. No choice. And as someone who has always been much more of a creative, writer type, these classes were extremely challenging for me, as all math classes always were. But the thing about math and numbers is that you are absolutely FORCED to concentrate (if you want an A, anyway). And I did want an A. So I studied harder than I'd ever studied for anything else in my life, because everything else came easily for me. But math--not math. I spent hours every night pouring over my homework, sometimes crying over it, but my brain was getting the most incredible workout of its life, and towards the end of my second semester of Algebra, which was the far more challenging one, I felt like my mind was razor sharp. I can't even really explain it, but it's an experience that I'd never had before. That razor sharpness translated into every other aspect of my life. It was awesome.

All that to say, I now feel the complete and utter opposite of sharp. I feel like a blunt object. The sword I once was versus the fat plastic baseball bat I am now.  And I don't like it. I want my brain back. I want to still be able to enjoy reading blog comments and participating in social media and sometimes check my email throughout the day, but I think I may have to come up with some ground rules for myself, and then keep them.

So now it's a quest, and you're welcome to join me. A quest to ditch the ADD, and sharpen up again. What if we were all more intentional with our time and even our thoughts?  What if we started each day by meditating and praying quietly with our coffee, instead of zombie-ing out over Instagram and Facebook for iPhone (or whatever your vices may be, at whatever time of day). I think positive change in the future starts simply by visualizing that change--seeing it vividly in your imagination. Focusing on it... focusing on something! Cutting out the proverbial fat.

We'll get there, people.

Alana In Love art giveaway

In honor of hump day, I have a sweet art giveaway for you, courtesy of a wonderful little shop called Alana In Love. Heard of it? Alana hand paints these pieces in beautiful writing, and even offers custom artwork, though I think this ready-made one is my favorite. Appropriate, no?

I envision these pieces matted and framed in a nursery, a bedroom, an office, or given as a sweet gift, and if you're interested in winning the artwork of your choice (either something in the shop or a custom piece), enter in below...



To Enter:
(only mandatory entry—and please leave your email address if it’s not on your Blogger profile)
Visit the Alana In Love shop and leave a comment here with the piece you’d like to win.

Extra entries:
(all represented by separate comments)
+ Follow Alana's blog on GFC or Bloglovin’
+ Like Alana in Love on Facebook
+ Follow Alana on Twitter (the account is private because she's a teacher, but you will be approved!)
+ Like Story of My Life on Facebook
+ Pin a photo from the shop to one of your Pinterest pages and leave the link in a comment
Good luck!

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And the winner of the Threads giveaway is…



Congrats to Alyssa! :) I'll be touch!



August 28, 2012

Healthy Couscous Salad (with fresh veggies and chicken)

I am always looking for easy, fresh, delicious, and easy recipes. Especially easy. This one requires a bit of prep/chopping, but other than that, it's a breeze. One of those dishes you can make a massive batch of and eat for lunches all week, or even serve as a main dish with some yummy garlic bread. On Friday last weekend, my mom and I made a HUGE (no really--it was HUGE!) bowl of this stuff, and Matthew and I ate it with pretty much every meal for three days. This is great because a) I hardly had to cook all weekend, especially lunches and b) my husband was happy as a clam to have a delicious and healthy meal in the fridge at all times--doesn't even require microwaving. She's a keeper! :)


Healthy Couscous Salad (with fresh veggies and chicken)

1 box of Far East original couscous (cook according to package directions)
2 large chicken breasts or breast meat from a rotisserie chicken (may be omitted to make a vegetarian dish)
1 large tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced (red onions are strong, so use however much you're comfortable with)
1 small cucumber or half a large cucumber, diced
Chopped cilantro to taste
1/4 cup Hidden Valley Ranch dressing (or just use your favorite dressing. I think Zesty Italian would be great in this, too.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook couscous according to package directions and set aside. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook in a non stick pan with a little bit of cooking spray, then chop into small pieces (remove any crispy or burned spots). Or better yet, use the meat of a juicy rotisserie chicken! Set aside to cool. Chop all veggies. Now throw all ingredients into a large bowl, and add dressing to taste. You don't want it to be drenched in the dressing, so be sparing. Add in a little salt and pepper to taste, and refrigerate. Serve cold as a main dish or a side dish. Enjoy!

August 27, 2012

This Just In

This weekend Matthew and I watched part of a show called 101 Gadgets That Changed The World (or something like that), and I felt like such a techy geek because of how excited it made me. I. LOVE. TECHNOLOGY. I love computers. I love cameras. I love smart phones. I love radio. I love all gadgets that make life easier and better and keep you connected to the world, and keep you telling stories. I’m sure most people my age can relate, because we are children of the technology age, aren’t we? I’m pretty sure my kids are going to pop out with iPhones in their chubby little baby hands—it’s just adaptation and evolution, you know? Except minus the monkeys and stuff. YOU might have come from a monkey, but I didn’t. ;)   (I kid)

Point is, nothing makes me more excited than my technology. And I’ve known a computer upgrade was in my future for some time now. With blogging and photography and social media as a business and a passion, it seemed to make sense to go for the gold when it comes to my computer. So I’ve been saving my pennies all summer, and yesterday I bit the bullet and bought me a shiny new iMac. IT IS BEAUTIFUL.

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I’m expecting a bit of a learning curve since this is the first Mac I’ve ever owned, but that’s OK. I’ll catch on quickly. What are your thoughts on Mac vs. PC? Photographers out there—do you think it’s better for editing, etc? Tell me what I want to hear, people. I just spent a small fortune on this beast…   ;)

Happiest of Mondays to you!

August 24, 2012

Cleaning Day Features

It’s cleaning day at the ol’ Jenni and Matthew residence. I don’t like cleaning day. But I do like the sweet ladies and the cute shop I’m featuring today… so there’s that…

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First on the agenda is sweet miss Shanna of Because Shanna Said So, a fellow Austin blogger I had the pleasure of meeting IRL the other day. Coolest lady ever, and every bit as personality filled in the flesh as she is on her blog. Love it when that happens. Shanna is a mom to two beautiful little girls, wife to one cute husband, and lover of all things fashion and beauty. Really, this one puts together the cutest outfits… I love seeing what she’ll come up with next! Get to know her better here or in today’s post here, and make thee a new friend.

ShannaBlog | Facebook | Twitter 

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Second up is Kendra of The Darling Blog. First thing to know: Kendra is an absolutely fabulous graphic designer, which you will plainly see the moment you enter her blog. She posts cool freebies sometimes and also has a separate blog design page as well as a premade template shop. She’s on vacay right now, but here is a sample of one of the templates in her shop, so check back later to see when she’s back up and running. Love her work. But besides that, Kendra is a gorgeous mommy to one handsome little towhead and blogs about her life and loves. I’m sure you’ll adore her as much as I do!

Kendra Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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Third today is an adorable and affordable Etsy shop called Earrings Nation. This shop specializes in bridesmaids jewelry, but also sells plenty of super cute standalone pieces like the few featured below. I WANT THAT YELLOW FLOWER NECKLACE. Perfect for fall, no? :) Be sure and browse more of the shop here!

EN1 | 2 | 3 

*****

Have a wonderful weekend!

August 23, 2012

Let’s talk hair again.

 IMG_6439-1 oh yes, I just put that on the internet.

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And what, pray tell, caused such a transformation? My Hana Elite flat iron, of course (pictured below). Yep, this is a review, but I’ll make it quick. This flat iron rocks my face off. As you can maybe tell from the “before” picture, I have some hair. And by “some hair,” I mean masses of coarse, wavy/curly, and extremely puffy hair. The first picture is how my hair looks immediately after blow drying… so yeah, flat irons have always been my friends. I used to profess my undying love for my Chi, but now I profess my undying love for my Hana Elite. You know, in life, sometimes relationships just grow apart. Chi, it was nice knowing you…

No but seriously, while both are excellent irons, the Hana is less bulky and has temperature settings, whereas Chi does not.  Also, it comes with 5 million other little awesome things in the massive swag box you get, just for ordering. (it came with a hair brush, a blush brush, lip gloss, an eyelash curler, hand sanitizer, nail files, a sleep mask, a case for the flat iron, and a rubber pad for the flat iron…. holla???!)

Thanks so much to Misikko and Hana Salon for allowing me to try out their fabulous products. And if you’re in the market for a new blow dryer, check out this review I wrote a while back. Happy Thursday!

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August 22, 2012

The most beautiful senior

I’ve been meaning to blog this senior session for some time now… the session itself was on our Lake Shasta trip a few weeks ago, where I had the pleasure of photographing our sweet niece, Kara.  It was completely impromptu! Kara needed senior pictures, and I needed senior pictures for my portfolio. Between the two of us we had some great outfits she could wear, and the backdrops? Well, Mother Nature provided those pretty splendidly. I’m sure you’ll agree.

If you know anyone in the Austin area who needs senior pictures, send them my way!  My prices are still quite low as I gain experience. And the biz now has a name and a Facebook page, if you missed that news the other day. New likers welcome! Yee-haw!

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Kara, thanks for letting me practice on you, you gorgeous little thing. Happy Senior Year! :)

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