Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the tag “2012”

Photo Progress

If you haven’t already figured this out from my Photo-A-Day posts, I love photography. It is one of the things in life that I actually admit to being at least semi good at. It makes me happy.

Aptos, California - September 2010

It’s actually kind of funny that I like photography and taking photographs because when I was younger I hated them. I was that obnoxious kid who covered her face or crawled under the table when my mom tried to take a picture of me. Yes, that’s right, I did say crawled under the table. Who does that?

photo shoot with Christine - May 2010

Anyway though, in high school all of that changed. I ended up dating a black and white photography class my sophomore year and loved it. I loved that I had a hand in every single aspect of the photography process – the shooting, developing, enlarging, fixing, and framing – I got to do it all. I think one of the reasons it was so great for me was because I had the opportunity to use my aunt’s old Canon SLR that she got in the ’70s from my grandparents. She had passed away a few years before that, when I was 12. Since then, whenever Grandma gives me something of my aunt’s, it makes me feel connected to her.

Photo shoot with Stephanie - Spring 2010 (makeshift studio with sheet and lamp)

That year I also bought my first digital camera. It was a Canon camera with a one inch screen. This was right when digital cameras were becoming mainstream, so it cost just about everything I had in my bank account. It took forever to take pictures, but I took it around with me everywhere my friends and I went. I have hundreds of pictures from that year.

Granada, Spain - October 2009

Over the past 10 years I’ve come a long way from just using a point and shoot digital camera. I still have my aunt’s old Manual SLR, but I have it in its case and hardly ever take it out. In college I wanted to take photo classes so I could continue with black and white film photography, but my university’s photo classes were too impacted. I don’t even know where I could go now to develop film and print photos.

Florence, Italy - December 2009

I am currently on my second Digital SLR (Canon – same as all the other cameras I’ve ever owned in my life), and I love it. I have had the opportunity to mess around with my camera, doing photo shoots of some of my best friends. I have gone out and taken pictures of the plants in my backyard, messed around with a macro lens, and love figuring out composition and lighting. This past summer I even had the opportunity to take a photography class with my mom and step dad in New Mexico. It was in that class that I really became one with my camera.

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico - July 2011

Since then I haven’t had the opportunity to take too many photos, but recently I was asked by a friend to take some pictures of her for an article she was interviewed for (more on this later). When I talked to the photo editor, he was very enthusiastic about my photographs; he even offered to pay me! It is very exciting to know that my photos will be used in a magazine. I am really looking forward to doing more photo shoots in the near future (if I could ever find the time – the one photo I take every day is about as much time as I have for photography right now).

Kaitlin's magazine shoot - January 2012

Yesterday, as I was compiling photos for my portfolio, I was going through pictures that I had archived on my external hard drive and I found the ones from my months of studying abroad in Spain. It was amazing to compare the pictures that I took then, to the pictures that I took now. My style has really evolved. It’s obvious that, back then, I didn’t know how to use the settings on my camera to their full capabilities.

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico - July 2011

Although I have come along way since then and I am a lot more confident in my abilities as a photographer, I still only qualify myself as a hobbyist. I have so many talented photographer friends, whose work blows mine out of the water, that it is hard to compare myself to them. I wish I could be as good as them, but for now, I’m just figuring things out on my own.

Beekeeping Class - Fall 2010

I don’t mind self teaching – sometimes I even think that’s the best way to learn how to do something. I’m that nerd who reads the manuals of every piece of electronic equipment I purchase. In doing this, I’ve discovered things about my cameras that I never would have figured out. In a way, it’s thrilling.

Sevilla, Spain - November 2009 (indoor, low light)

So yes, I want to take my photography to the next level, but will it happen right away? Probably not. I do, however, feel like things are taking a turn for the better. Hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised by something in my professional life/photographer future.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco - December 2010

Cross your fingers for me.

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Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 3

Hello again! How has your third week of the year been? I’ve gotta say, this is a pretty exciting time in the Bay Area, what with the 49ers in the playoffs and everything. (I’m the first to admit that I’m a very fair weather fan of the 49ers, mainly because I don’t watch professional football. But it’s still exciting when a Bay Area team makes it to any sort of playoffs!)

Anyway, here are my photos/Tweets for the third week of the year.

January 14 - got my hair cut and my hair dresser showed me how to curl it - I was shocked the curls stayed in!

January 15 - this little guy was posing for me as I took pictures of him from my car. Don't worry, I stopped my car, put it in park, and was in a gated community with no traffic.

January 16 - the shelves in our craft room/my office. My step mom and I finally found super cute storage containers at Tuesday Morning.

January 17 - my mom just got back from a trip to Cambodia with my step dad and some family friends. These are the scarves she bought there (20 scarves for $10!)

January 18 - the matches that I keep in a mason jar by the candle on my bedside table (idea courtesy of Pinterest). I thought they looked cool!

January 19 - I was craving popcorn all day so when I was at Target I decided to buy myself the individual, 100 calorie bags. A friend commented on my Instagram picture informing me that it was, in fact, national popcorn day! It was so fitting that I would have the popcorn craving.

January 20 - finally a bit of rain!! Hopefully it stays for a while.

Gosh, sorry about all the Golden Globes (and Madonna) Tweets! That was obviously a big part of my personal week. If you want to see a different side of me, check out my other blog: Rachel Helen. There are a lot of Tweets about SOPA – just because that was this week’s topic of conversation online what with the blackouts and everything – and other PR news from this past week.

It’s raining here (finally!) so the girls and I are planning on having a movie marathon tomorrow. Then Sunday we will be cheering on the 49ers as they take on the NY Giants! What do you plan on doing this weekend? Anything exciting?

Living the Dream

…Or at least Googling pictures of the dream and saving them to my desktop.

That’s how I feel every time Awards Season is upon us. And, of course, it always kicks off with the Golden Globes. As with any awards show, the Red Carpet is a huge part of the show’s broadcast. The fashion is not only talked about over the next few days, but years to come.

Now, some of you might cringe at this, but I tend to care more about the fashion of the night than who actually wins the awards. There is a reason for this, and that is that I am not very well versed in pop culture and movies/TV shows.

  1. I don’t have enough time/money to go to the movies every time something I want to see comes to theaters
  2. I don’t have enough time to watch all the shows I want to want (Revenge, that means you)
  3. Even though I read Glamour and People, watch the TV shows I have time for, pay attention to entertainment news, I STILL can’t remember the names of actors and actresses, who’s dating whom, and who starred in which film. As much as I wish it did, my brain just doesn’t work like that.
This makes it very difficult to contribute to conversations surrounding such topics. Especially when my best friends are so well versed in pop culture that they generally know who in Hollywood broke up, got back together, is engaged, is having a baby, or is starring in which film before the actors themselves even know.

So anyway, although I do watch the full show and see who wins, place my predictions, etc. my preferences are generally unfounded and only come from which movies I have heard about in conversation and which (few) actors I can remember.

I do, however, LOVE the Red Carpet. I love watching the coverage, switching through all the channels that have coverage of the night so as not to miss a single dress, earring, or sequin that makes its way down that carpet. I love reading the best and worst articles that come out over the course of a few days after the event. I love watching the TV specials about who looked surprisingly fantastic, and who completely bombed the night in their attempt to be fashion forward.

Because of this, I tend to develop my own opinions of the best and worst dressed of the night. I am not a fashionista (despite my desire to be) which means that my opinions don’t always parallel those published on sites such as Glamour, E!, and just about every other entertainment website online. That doesn’t stop me, however, from dreaming about wearing any and every dress that appears at an awards show (yes, the good, the bad, or the ugly – I wouldn’t be picky).

Although the fashion at the Golden Globes tends to be known for its fun than it’s elegance (like the Academy Awards), it is still known for its beauty, high end designers, and daring choices.

Alright, how that I’ve written your eyes off, if you will, here are my favorite dresses from the 2012 Golden Globes (not in any particular order).

Charlize Theron (via Glamour)

Didn’t like the big bow (which she always does), but I loved the cut of the dress, shoes, clutch, and the hair/headband.

Shailene Woodley (via Glamour)

Glamour thought this dress looked like a wedding dress. I loved it anyway. I missed her on the runway so every time The Descendants won an award I just wanted her to stand up so I could see the dress in its entirety.

Selma Hayek (via Glamour)

She always looks so beautiful. I wonder how heavy that dress was, though…

Jane Fonda (via The International Business Times)

I don’t know why, but I loved this. She looked fantastic when she was presenting!

Nicole Richie (via Glamour)

I don’t know what it was about this dress, but I though it looked great on her. I loved the back. Also, her hair looked awesome.

Kate Beckinsale (via Glamour)

Pure elegance.

Emma Stone (via Glamour)

Perfect for her age and attitude.

Diane Lane (via Glamour)

I loved the gold color. It was elegant, sexy, and classy all at the same time. Diane looked fantastic.

Claire Danes (via Glamour)

Although I would not choose this dress for myself, I absolutely loved the back of it. Somehow, it just worked for her.

Julianna Margulies (via FabSugar.com)

I just want to say that I love Julianna. At first I wasn’t a fan of the green in the earrings with the purple of the dress, but as I saw her more and more, it began to grow on me.

Jeannie Mai (via MyStyle.com)

Every time they showed Jeannie interviewing somebody, I swooned a bit. She looked fantastic! Too bad I couldn’t find a picture of the back of her dress which was stunning.

Debra Messing (via PurseBlog.com)

Love the dress. Love the hair. Love the makeup. Love the accessories. Love her.

Sarah Hyland (via NY Daily News)

This was a perfect dress choice for Sarah. It made her look sophisticated at her 21 years of age. Too bad her zipper broke as she was walking down the Red Carpet!

Reese Witherspoon (via NY Daily News)

Always a favorite. Need I say more?

Michelle Williams (via NY Daily News)

Although the dress wasn’t necessarily one of my favorites, I loved Michelle’s cute haircut and headband. It tied the outfit together perfectly. I always love her. Not to mention that I think she is so poised and speaks so eloquently. Hello, when she thanked her daughter? Can you say waterworks?!

Laura Dern (via NY Daily News)

Another one that took a bit of time to grow on me. Still not a fan of the belt, but I love everything else about it.

Sofia Vergara (via Glamour)

Of course. Love the cut and the color. To quote LMFAO: Girl, look at that body.

And now for the dresses I didn’t like, or was disappointed by:

Busy Philipps (via TheSimplyLuxuriousLife.com)

Oh come on Audrey (Busy’s character in Dawson’s Creek), what were you thinking? Loved the hair, but the dress?

Tilda Swinton (via NY Daily News)

I never like her. I mean, the dress is one thing, but the hair? Ugh, it makes me upset to look at. Sorry.

Natalie Portman (via NY Daily News)

Now, before you chastise me, I love Natalie Portman. But she can do better than this. She was even pregnant at the 2011 Golden Globes and still managed to be on just about everybody’s “Best Dressed” lists*.

Mila Kunis (via NY Daily News)

Another disappointment. Love Mila, like the dress, but not for the Red Carpet. Don’t get me wrong, I would totally wear that dress, but after last year’s gorgeous green number, this dress made me sad.

Kate Winslet (via NY Daily News)

She always looks pretty, but we all know she has the ability to look stunning. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those times.

Jessica Biel (via NY Daily News)

Sorry, but who picked out the doily for Jessica? Not my fave.

Freida Pinto (via NY Daily News)

Beautiful, but not exciting enough!

Dianna Agron (via NY Daily News)

That last dress didn’t have enough excitement, this one has too much. Even though the color was great, I just don’t like everything that the dress has going on! Dianna was another woman who looked stunning last year, but didn’t bring it for me this year.

Amanda Peet (via NY Daily News)

All I can say is: nope.

Other thoughts that crossed my mind as I was watching the broadcast:

And just a bit of Madonna humor:

What are your thoughts on the fashion from the start of the 2012 Awards Season? Do you agree with my selections? Which ones would you have included that I didn’t?

*As a general rule, I think I liked last year’s fashion a lot better for some reason. Don’t know why, but it just spoke to me more.

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 2

Welcome to the second week of my Photo-a-Day project!

January 5 - flower from the flower stand on Union St, San Francisco

January 6 - old friends out for Steph's 23rd birthday

January 7 - sushi dinner for Steph's 23rd birthday

January 8 - driving home from SLO

January 9 - by my bedside

January 10 - early morning quiet

January 11 - views from the swing set

January 12 - meet Kevin

January 13 - 64 box

And just because it is so important, I have included the following tweet on both blogs:

A Sincere Letter to Cash-Only Businesses

Dear Businesses that Don’t Accept Credit/Debit Cards (yup, I’m talking to you Little Sandwich Place on Union St. in San Francisco),

I want to begin this heart felt letter by saying that, although I understand your side of things, I still feel as though you really suck.

Okay, never mind, I take that back, I don’t understand your side of things. What century do you think you’re in? This isn’t the 18- or 19- hundreds anymore! It is the 21st century!!

I get that having a credit card swiper thing in your place of work means that you have to pay a little bit more when somebody chooses to use that form of payment, but can’t you just raise your prices by a tiny bit? Like, an extra quarter per sandwich? Instead, as your customer, when I can’t pay because I only have cards with me, I have to walk two blocks in order to find an ATM which then, in turn, charges me $2.50 to withdraw my $40. That charge is a 20% increase in the price of my purchase!

As somebody who is trying to follow her 2012 resolutions, I have started using my debit card a lot more because it is easier to track expenses that way. I don’t have to take receipts (which are not environmentally friendly in the first place) because my bank records all my transactions for me.* I don’t have to worry about change – paper or metal. I’m not concerned about my $20 bills blowing away or my change spilling everywhere as I’m crossing the street causing me to have to stop in the middle of the road, block traffic, risk my life, and pick up my measly 63¢. Or what to do with the pennies that are piling up in my car’s center console because a) I don’t have enough space in my wallet to carry all of them b) I can’t use them anywhere – including gumball machines like I could when I was little and c) it bothers me that the penny is bigger than the dime even though it is worth less. But I digress.

Don’t you see how big of an inconvenience this is to all of us? Now, I promise you, the 21st century isn’t as scary as we thought it was going to be a little over 12 years ago. Remember Y2K? When we all thought computers wouldn’t know how to handle the year code (’00 vs. ’99)? Or when we thought, for sure, there was going to be some huge, astronomical change when the clock hit midnight (even though we are on the West Coast of the United States and just about everybody else on earth had already made it safely into the 2000’s), but then it didn’t?

I promise, when you choose to join the rest of us in the world of technology and those small, rectangular, plastic things we all call credit cards, the world will not collapse around you. Yes, the world as you know it will be no more, but I promise, it will be better. It will be a place that doesn’t force people, such as myself, to spend a whole bunch of extra money on things such as sandwiches. The rest of us, who are already in the second decade of the new millenium, will gladly welcome you with open arms (and wallets).

I sincerely hope you take this letter to heart.

Regards,

Rachel

*Please spare me the lecture on how I shouldn’t count on my bank as a means of tracking my finances. I’ve heard it all before. It’s just so easy that way! And i’m not spending/making enough money for there to be any big discrepancy right now. I promise I will start to keep closer tabs on my ATM/credit card purchases in the future.

Splurges

This weekend I drove down to San Luis Obispo for my friend Stephanie’s 23rd birthday. Weekends like that always end up costing more money than fit into my budget. Normally I don’t think about how much money I want to spend while I’m down there, but this time I did. I was so proud of myself! I didn’t spend more than $50, and that included meals, bars, taxis, and shopping. How did I do it? I have no idea, but it was amazing.

I have been budgeting, paying attention to my finances, figuring out how to organize my receipts, and working with my online banking/accounts to get myself organized and keep myself on track. It also helps that GOOD does their “30 Days of Good” and this month they are targeting finances.

But this post is more about what I AM going to spend money on, than how I’m organizing my finances. I’ve decided that there are some things that are worth spending money on. Like BufferApp – the application I use to schedule my Tweets. Or a stand and an external keyboard and mouse for my laptop so that I can be more comfortable as I work – ergonomics aren’t a joke! My back has been killing me!

Oh, and I’m also willing to spend money on clothes… because I  love clothes. And I have to build my professional wardrobe. And my every day wardrobe. And my shoe collection. And jewelry. And things for the apartment in San Francisco that I will move into in the semi-near future.

But you know, those are the only splurges I’ll make 🙂

Photo-a-Day: Week 1

As one of my goals for 2012, I have decided to take a picture a day. I love everything about photographs: colors (or lack thereof), composition, macro, wide angle, panoramic, infinite sky, editing, and everything else that comes along with taking a picture.

Initially I was going to take a picture with my digital SLR every day, but because I don’t carry around my camera everywhere I go, I have decided that my iPhone or small point and shoot camera suffice when the SLR is not an option.

I will experiment with different shooting tactics, flashes, long exposure, editing tools, etc. Some photos will be good, some photos not so much. The point is not to love every single photo I take. The point is to make time to do something I love, and to enjoy doing it – maybe even to learn something along the way.

Every Friday, on my other blog, RachelHelen (wow, I really need to come up with a more creative title than that), I post my favorite Tweets from that week. I figure, instead of posting the same thing on both blogs, I will do my Photo-a-Day post on this blog. It’s stupid for me to write a different post for every photo, so I will just post all 7 (or 6, or 8, depending on whether I’ve taken my Friday photo at the time of publication or not) for that week at one time. I will incorporate some fun Tweets that made me happy throughout the past week in there as well (the links on RachelHelen are mostly professional Tweets… I will try not to have any crossover).

Anyway, here we go. Photo-a-Day, Week 1:

January 1

January 1 - The girls celebrating New Year

January 2 - In-N-Out (Just made it - This photo was taken between 12am and 1am on Jan 2 hehe)

January 3 - Delicious, fresh salad from food in my parents

January 4 - night time books

Finances – Step 1

Hello again! How are your 2012 resolutions coming along? Mine are okay, although I haven’t really had a chance to focus on finances because I haven’t gone anywhere that have had to spend money.

Celebrating 2012 with friends (and a weird guy behind us...)

I have, however, started to figure out how much money I want to spend on each category each month. I’m so glad that my friend Christine introduced me to Mint – an online financial tracking system that helps you stick to your budget. There is also an app for your smart phone. It develops a budget for you, but you can also change the amount of money in each category. My categories include Movies & DVDs, Alcohol & Bars, Coffee Shops, Fast Food, Restaurants, Groceries, Gas & Fuel, and Clothing.

I won’t get into the details of it because honestly, it would probably bore you (and me) but I will tell you that I have taken to using Mint, as well as Excel in order to organize my cash flow. I’m hoping to save at least 30% of every pay check I receive, which is pretty easy now because I’m living at home, but once I move out I’m expecting it to get a lot more difficult.

As for my other, more fun resolutions, I’m doing pretty well! I’ve taken a photograph every day (although last night I forgot until I got into bed, so I took one of my reading material). I’ve updated my 5 year blog every day. I have been reading. I have been eating healthier and tracking my food intake (not calories, just intake). I have been trying to relax more. I even started exercising.

I’ve been organized, productive, social, and happy. I’ve been reading books, magazines, blogs, and articles. I even went job searching today! I’ve been (mostly) following the schedule I developed last week. It’s pretty packed, but sticking to a schedule helps me get things done and feel more accomplished.

my weekly schedule

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, congratulations,” as you roll your eyes. “You’ve made it a grand total of five days. I’m sooooo proud of you. Not.” But seriously, five days is a great start! Think on the positive side – five days is five days of forming a habit. That leaves only 361 days left to make my resolutions habit and complete my goals. (Yes, 361 days – 2012 is a Leap Year!*)

I’m excited to get even more organized and figure out other ways in which I can work towards my resolution to make myself happier. Thus far, 2012 has started out well – I’ve had a smile on my face every day!

How are your 2012 resolutions coming along? What are they? Do you have goals for each month?

*Quick Fact: Everybody in my immediate family on my mom’s side was born in a Leap Year. That includes: me, my little sister, my two older step-brothers, my mom, my step-dad, and my niece. Pretty cool, huh?

Now that I’m starting…

I just finished The Happiness Project (literally 2 minutes ago) and am so excited to get started on my own project. I still have a lot of research to do about how I want to set mine up, what my resolutions are going to be, and much more. I need to decide if I’m going to do a major resolution a month, or if I am going to try to improve things at a steady pace throughout the year.

No matter which path I choose, I have a few things that can’t wait for upcoming months. Those things include:

  • Continue to refrain from biting my nails (I’m doing so well right now and I’m very proud of myself)
  • Eat healthier
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Take one photo a day (so far so good)
  • Start year 1 in the Q & A a day: 5 Year Journal I got as Christmas presents for myself and my three sisters

Even if I don’t do a resolution a month, I still want to start focusing on my finances more. That is where I am starting this year. I think it makes a lot of sense to start taking better control of my finances starting in January, but then again, I can rationalize starting any of the resolutions I have floating around y head in January.

Just to clarify – this blog is not just a “Happiness Project Blog.” It is not just focused on my path to happiness, but it will definitely include many posts about that journey. In addition, it will include my thoughts on life, different experiences I have, etc. One thing that I am going to try my very best to do, however, is not complain in this blog. I want to keep it upbeat and positive, thus fulfilling one of my resolutions to be more optimistic about the things in my life.

Sorry this post was kind of lame, I have so many thoughts running through my head about what to write about. I wish I had a filing/organizational system up there to help me rearrange and remember my thoughts. I can’t type fast enough to write down everything I think is important to say, but I will do my best.

On that note, how was your New Year’s? What are your resolutions/goals for 2012? How will you be accomplishing them?

Happy New Year!

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