Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Simplicity, Light, and Nourishment

Lately I've been craving simplicity and light, peace and nourishment. I keep hoping that one day I'll wake up and *poof* I'll feel complete and satisfied with where I stand, but for now I keep searching. Wonder if I'll ever be able to stop and just enjoy the still?

Image: F is for Farmer's Market at Union Square

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hello There

It's been such a long day that I didn't even get to share a little inspiration with you today, but I hope this scene I captured at the High Line on Saturday will help calm you a bit. It almost looks like a boardwalk by the beach, but in reality it was freezing cold and snow flurries were just starting to fall. I just keep telling myself that winter's almost over, winter's almost over...

After today's morning shift, I went right out to shoot my daily photo for the Souvenir Foto School and go about my errands. Can you believe this month is nearly over and I've only two more letters to shoot?! I can't wait to show you all the things I've captured with the camera. (I'll sprinkle them around this week.) This has truly been a fun - and sometimes trying - experience and I've been thinking of continuing something similar once class is over. Just maybe not every day because my shoulder is about to fall off carrying this camera up and down town.

Plus, I've been going to the gym three times a week for the last couple weeks. The true test will come after my gym buddy Anonymous lets her 30-day trial membership expire a week before mine. Who will I Zumba with then??

So that mixed in with a spontaneous trip to the zoo, writing assignments, and a toy party has kept me a busy bee. What have you been up to? Keeping saner than I've been I hope!

P.S. Thanks to everyone who's filled out the reader survey. If you haven't participated yet, just click here to let me know what you'd like to see on Dry As Toast!

Image: H is for the High Line

Friday, February 24, 2012

{Happy Friday} Dancers Among Us

I discovered photographer Jordan Matter's "Dancers Among Us" photo series early last year, but yesterday (and into today) I found myself on his site and once again just mesmerized by this project. For those who are unfamiliar, Matter places professional dancers in everyday situations and captures some extraordinary moments. His inspiration for the series came after seeing the joy his son experienced from playing with his toys and being completely engrossed in a world that was invisible to his father's eyes.
"As we get older and wiser, what happens to this enthusiasm, this ability to be wholly present in the moment? Why are these pure moments of passion so often replaced by cynicism, boredom, and indifference?" Matter asks. "As I played with my son, I thought about creating photographs that would show the world as if through the fantastical eyes of a child. The people in the images would be alive and in the moment, celebrating all aspects and emotions of everyday life."
"Asking dancers to embody these ideals makes perfect sense. Dancers are storytellers. They’re trained to personify passionate moments, their bodies imbued with a stunning combination of artistry and athleticism," he continues. "They create a fantasy world, offering us a deeper look into familiar settings. They bring to life what we feel but are unable to express physically."
What started in New York City in 2009 has now spread to other parts of the country as Matter tries to revive our emotions, passion, and a curiosity that'll lead us to embrace our surroundings with exuberance. (My Washington Heights peeps, do you recognize the scenery in the photo above?)

P.S. I think the behind-the-scenes videos are just as interesting as the final results.
Here's hoping for a beautiful and passion-filled weekend!

Images: dancersamongus.com

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Burlesque

Last night I went to my first burlesque show at The Delancey down by the Williamsburg Bridge where every Wednesday starting at 9:30 p.m. Shaken & Stirred Burlesque (hosted by Miss Runaround Sue, art director of Sugar Shack Burlesque) treats guests to free performances, shots, silly contests, comedy shticks, and dance breaks through the night.

For those who think stripper poles, extreme raunchiness, and nudity are involved, think again. In burlesque, the story, costume, and how the dancer engages the audience are just as important as the strip tease itself (plus, dancers not allowed to go fully nude anyway). Yesterday's performers were sexy, campy, and just so fun to watch as some lured us in with a demure sex kitten act and others hit us with steamy and seductive right from the start. We'd cheer the dancers on as they teased us with their feather boas and corsets, high heels and booty shakes until they were finishing it all off with a pull of that final string and a twirl of their tasseled pasties.

I absolutely loved the attitude. They might not all be toned and model perfect, but those ladies worked the stage (and us) and that's what made it all so attractive. And after checking out the strippers in a midtown club a few months ago as they lazily strutted around a dark stage in some half-assed routine they called a performance ("I've seen hotter action on a dance floor!" I complained.), it was great to see women use comedy, sex appeal, and music to snatch our attention and put on a riot of a show. By the end of the night, I was all smiles and sweat - from all the dancing, of course.

Have you ever been to a burlesque show? Could you imagine yourself doing your own secret performance? If you're in NYC, Livingsocial has a deal for Burlesque Bikini Bootcamp that expires today!

Image: lonesomeghosts.tumblr.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

{Dry As Toast} 2012 Reader Survey

Hello, my little monkeybutts! I've just created this little survey that I'd love for you to complete. It'll help me get a better sense of what you guys are loving on Dry As Toast, what I could do without, where it could use some improvement, and help generate ideas for the future. I'm always thrilled that you keep coming back for more and I want to make sure you keep finding topics that interest you. So please let me know your thoughts by filling out the Dry As Toast 2012 Reader Survey. Thanks!

P.S. Did you have a good weekend?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Inspiration

I can't tell you how many times I've thought on ideas from one, two, five years ago and wonder where they would be now if only I'd turned them into action. Every day lived without taking a step towards making those dreams come true is another wasted opportunity. It might not seem that way now when you're faced with options that provide quicker gratification, but one day you'll look back and realize just how little you chipped away at it in that entire span of time. So how badly do you want it?

Image: jessicatierney.com

Friday, February 17, 2012

Happy Friday!

Even though it means I won't get paid for a day, I am so glad it's a three-day weekend. This week was just draining for several personal reasons and I'm happy I can vegetate for a few days. And by vegetate I mean keep working on my side hustles and continue these four-hour long Pow Wow meetings I set aside for myself. I've also just signed on to contribute for a creative site next month that I'm excited to tell you more about soon. And next week I'll be picking your brain and asking about a couple things that have been on this blogger's mind. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what should come next for Dry As Toast!

In the meantime, some links from around the web:

1. Match a cocktail to your favorite music.
2. Make hot chocolate the French way.
3. A little trick for naming identical twins.
4. Sew up a macaron coin purse.
5. How to instantly dress up 99 cent mugs.
6. U is for United Nations. (Photographing these flags took two trips and a race against time!)
7. T is for Taxi Cabs. And look! I learned how to make colors show in a black-and-white pic.
8. Bonsai treehouses! (via Colossal)
9. "You are capable of wonderful things." It's true.
10. Four things to tell someone after a break-up.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, my little monkeybutts!

Images: howaboutorange.blogspot.com, blogmilk.com, joannagoddard.blogspot.com, craftpassion.com, ohhellofriendblog.com, flickr.com, flickr.com, tokyogoodidea.com, outcamethesun.tumblr.com, and joannagoddard.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Life Without Health Insurance

Right after I was laid off from my magazine position in 2009, I was given the option to remain on my employer's health insurance plan through COBRA, but because I had yet to figure out my finances and my knee jerk reaction to suddenly being unemployed was to trim any and all fat around my budget, health insurance just had to go. I didn't even think twice about it; I couldn't afford to pay full price for insurance when I would be living solely off of my benefits. Thus began a two-year stretch in which I had no health coverage, no preventative care, or even a means to procure prescription drugs if I needed them. If something hurt, I had to suck it up and hope it didn't get worse.

Being in my 20s I was still riding on that "I'm invincible" delusion where nothing could truly put me out. I was young, healthy, and led a fairly cautious life. But as the years wore on and sicknesses, pains, stress, allergies, the flu came and went and came back again, I grew more worried. I started wondering what I'd do if I were ever hit by a car whenever I'd walk down the street, morbidly wondering if the more time ticked on and the more streets I crossed, the higher the chances that this Russian Roulette could do me in.

As a freelancer, I was earning a good amount to sustain my lifestyle, but still not nearly enough to tack on private health insurance. My employers offered coverage to contractors through a third party, but those were just as astronomically high ($1000+ per month!) because of the pay bracket I fell under. I also didn't qualify for state programs typically given to low-income earners because I wasn't bringing in peanuts each week either. Eventually I relented and joined the Freelancers Union solely for their group plan. Yes, I could have gone into a clinic for my yearly check-ups, but I was also seeking ongoing care from a specialist and I didn't want to keep playing with fire. Sad thing is, with the plan I could afford, there's still the potential of having my savings take a hit as the deductible I'd have to pay out-of-pocket is high and the company will only cover a certain percentage after that amount is met. So really what am I paying for each month here?

I came across Kevin Zelnio's post on Scientific American via Boing Boing last night and immediately connected with his fear of living without insurance and how it takes us longer to seek medical care when we need it. In fact, his plight is even more extreme as he has a family of four to maintain. He shows us that the uninsured are not all unemployed, poor, or irresponsible: approximately 49.1 million non-elderly Americans are uninsured and 41 percent of them are 100 percent above the federal poverty level. We work hard, but sometimes it's just not enough to pay the high price private companies have placed on keeping us alive. Why does my health and well-being have to rest in the hands of a company whose bottom line is turning a profit?

I finally signed up for insurance in December. In January, I lost half my income and once again am considering taking a risk with my health just to ease the financial burden. Perhaps now I'll qualify for something cheaper until either my self-employment kicks back up or I walk back into an office - and that's if my future employer offers insurance of their own.

Where do you lie with health insurance? Are you under your employer's or spouse's plan? Or are you self-employed/unemployed and wondering how you're going to make do?

P.S. Here are some options for the uninsured (here, too) and resources for New Yorkers.

Image: quizzle.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DIY Pop-Up Love Box

I created this little pop-up heart-in-a-box yesterday afternoon right before I was supposed to go see A. I promise if I had whipped it up earlier I would've shared it here for those strapped for a quick Valentine's Day gift, but it's so simple and sweet that it would serve just as well on any other day of the year.
You'll need:

- a small box (I used a matchbox that's about three times longer than regular ones)
- scraps of paper for lining the box and creating little booklets and cards
- scissors and glue stick, pop-up dots, or double-sided tape
- a long strip of cardstock for the "spring"
- a paper heart or any design that you want to make pop out of the box (I used watercolored drawings)
- candy or any other trinkets you want to place inside the box
- twine or other packaging d├ęcor for the outside of the box
To line the inside of the box, take the bottom or inside portion and trace around a scrap of paper to get a good size. You might need to do some trimming, but once you have the right size, cut and paste it into the bottom of the box.
To create the spring piece that will cause your design to pop out of the box, take your strip of cardstock (mine was initially 1"x 10") and fold it back and forth accordion style. Glue your heart or design to one end and using trial and error, figure out how long your spring needs to be to make the heart bounce up and stay up when the box is opened. Mine was much too long and had the heart popping up and onto the table so I cut it down to 7.5". Yours will depend on the height of your box.

It also helps if you glue a couple of the accordion flaps on the bottom end together to give the spring a sturdier foundation. Once you have the size and positioning down, glue that end of the spring onto the bottom of the box.
Create little cards and booklets using folded scraps of paper. Don't forget to add a little note or doodle.
Make sure the tiny card fits into the space left in the box without obstructing the bouncing heart.
If you have enough space, you can add little trinkets and candy to go with your little note. I trimmed down a mini cupcake liner and filled it with hard candy! If your box is bigger, then how about adding a smaller box within?
Gently pack it all up, tuck in the heart, and then wrap a bit of twine around the gift. Add a tag and you're good to go! This is sure to bring a smile and childish delight to any recipient, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

{He Says/She Says} On Valentine's Day

We all have our opinions on Valentine's Day. I myself flip flop between "it's a contrived excuse to spend money" and "Awww, but let's do something sweet!" Meanwhile, men are feeling the pressure to show their devotion in adequate fashion and re-woo their ladies. So I've pulled in my boyfriend A. to share his thoughts on the matter along with me for another installment of {He Says/She Says}. Feel free to chime in with your own!

{He says} Everybody knows Valentine's Day is a manufactured holiday to get people to buy crap and spend money they normally wouldn't, and to express feelings explicitly without real cause. They still "celebrate" it anyways and it sucks. It sucks for a number of reasons, but the main one I can think of is that even though we're supposed to be celebrating love between two people, the responsibility is all on the guy to show the woman how much he feels for her. The man is supposed to make the dinner plans. The man is supposed to buy her flowers. The man is expected to propose with the engagement ring that cost him a month's salary worth of useless minerals whose value is artificially inflated by market collusion.

Listen up, women. You fought for equality and I want you to have it. But that also means you have to do some work around here, too. Actually, I have a better idea. Forget having one day a year to celebrate your love - do it every day. Why spend money on command when you can work your celebration of love into everything you do? I have a notion that Valentine's Day causes more grief than pleasure; with all of the worry involved with single people acquiring a date and taken men scrambling to appear smitten as if he never learned how bad her farts could smell. It's sort of like how "pro-family" values split up more families than they hold together. If we stop trying to force it, we might find a peaceful and pleasurable equilibrium waiting for us.

{She says} Listen, I completely acknowledge the pressure men must feel on Valentine's Day. There are all these expectations and requests to make this the best day ever and if you let her down when all of her friends are getting flowers, jewelry, and boxes of dark chocolate, then you could be in for a bitter treat of your own when she comes home. I'm not going to lie; last year I was immediately surprised and just as quickly disappointed when a delivery girl walked up to my cubicle carrying a huge bouquet of flowers - only to ask where so-and-so sat.

When I was younger, this was just a lame holiday that made me feel bad for never having a boyfriend while pretending that I didn't care about all that mushiness anyway. But now? Now I don't think there's anything bad about having a day devoted to loving one another. If we remember what truly counts - not the lavish dinners, the shiny presents, or forced sentiments - then would it kill anyone to shower someone with a little more affection today? Yes, this should be a regular occurrence, but having a day for that purpose is just a nice bonus on top of what you should be doing the rest of the year.

Besides, after a few years with a person it's nice to get off the hamster wheel and find fun ways to express just how much the other person means to you - and this goes both ways. We do want to be wooed and fawned over, but we also know how to give it right back.

Oh, and baby? Please don't propose to me on a Valentine's Day, okay? Love you!

Image: downtownfrombehind.tumblr.com

Monday, February 13, 2012

Journelle's Tips for Picking Out Lingerie

When I was getting ready to surprise A. in Bangkok for New Year's Eve, I knew I needed something special to wear that night. I already knew what dress I'd greet him in, but I also wanted something new to wear underneath because sexy lingerie always adds a little extra oomph to your attitude and any man's happiness once he sees you in it.

As a petite woman, finding lingerie that fits well can be a challenge, but during a fun trip to Journelle I tried on piece after piece that actually made it really hard to choose just a couple! (I eventually decided on this charcoal and pink Elle Macpherson Gentle Jade bra and thong set.) So I've pulled in Karen LaPorte and Jennifer Klick, manager and assistant manager of Journelle's Union Square location, to answer a few questions about picking out lingerie and share some tips for the guys who are planning to surprise their woman with a new set for Valentine's Day.

Whether you love to show off that body, would rather play it sweet and comfy, or are trying to break through the shyness, there's really an option for every one and every mood.

Hi Karen and Jennifer! Thanks for popping in to share some lingerie 101 with us. So to start off what's the difference, if any, between lingerie and underwear?

Lingerie is something we choose to wear, that is worn with intention, and speaks to who we are as women. Underwear is a layer purchased simply because it's a necessity.

Why should every woman invest in some good quality lingerie?

There is a really strong connection with what we wear and how we feel on the inside to how we look on the outside. It's the first thing we put on in the morning and even if only we know about it, it will effect how we feel throughout the day. Properly fitting lingerie is the foundation for your daily outfits. No one is in a good mood if they are adjusting their ill-fitting bras and panties all day long. With a proper fitting bra, you can look younger and five pounds lighter.

What should a woman look out for when selecting the right fit and style?

It's always good to remember that we are all a shape and a size. It's important to learn the styles and shapes that will fit and flatter your body the best. Don't be afraid to try on lots of different styles to find what works for you. Just like jeans, it's not about the number on the label, it's about what fits you the best.

I can attest to that! A size in one brand doesn't necessarily mean it's your size in another so it's important to try them all out. Besides, it's fun to try on all those pieces in the dressing room. The salesperson is a huge help to finding what fits, but how else can we make sure that we're wearing the correct size?

We recommend getting fitted every two years, or if you lose or gain 10 or more pounds. The band should be parallel around your body to the floor - not riding up the back. Cups should also lay flat against the body, not gap or create the dreaded "four-boob." The bra should be comfortably snug. There should be no need to adjust it throughout the day.

On average, how many pieces of lingerie should a woman own at a time and for what different purposes?

It's really important to have enough of the everyday pieces to be able to rotate and give at least one to two days off in between. Two to three t-shirt bras in black and nude, one to two strapless bras, one to two everyday lacy bras. For sexy and special occasion sets, we say as many as your heart desires!

Now I'm sure there are lots of guys out there who'd love to surprise their woman with something sexy for Valentine's Day, but are completely clueless when it comes to buying lingerie. Do you have any tips for them?

Yes! At Journelle, we love to help gentlemen find special items for their ladies. On our blog we have The Discerning Gentleman's Guide to Lingerie. It's a wonderful four-part course that explains the differences between a bikini and a thong, a demi bra and a balconette, etc, and how to select for his lady's personality. A must-read for anyone before they go to a lingerie store for the first time. [Check out courses one, twothree, and four here!]

For guys buying lingerie as gifts for their ladies:

1. Know her size. With that piece of information a sales girl can steer you him in the right direction.
2. Buy something you both will like. Showing up with something that she won't wear or the he doesn't want to see her in helps no one. This is a mutual gift.
3. Buy a matching set- girls like to have the complete set and often two pairs of matching underwear to the bra. Often a thong and a shorty are available, why not get both?
4. Splurge on something she would love but wouldn't necessarily get for herself. Isn't that what gift giving is all about? It doesn't have to be expensive, but say if she always buys practical, get her something feminine that she would only dream of buying.

In addition to lingerie, we carry lots of fun accessories such as Jimmyjane massage oil candles, Maison Close Plumeau Caresse feather ticklers and satin-and-lace cuffs, and Bijoux Indiscrets burlesque feather pasties.

Thanks for the advice, ladies! And for readers who'd like the chance to win $1000 worth of fine lingerie, enter Journelle's Valentine's Day contest and submit up to five photos illustrating what love means to you. Submissions must be made by tonight at 11:59 p.m. EST. Good luck!

Images: Mimi Holliday Fondant Rouched Suspender With Corset, $68; Mimi Holliday Nonnettes Padded Super Plunge Bra, $90, Chantelle Saint Germain Demi Bra, $84, and Chantelle Saint Germain Shorty, $36; all from Journelle.com

Monday Inspiration

What are you bubbling over these days? Me, I'm happy for longer days and secret projects.

Image: handdrawnquotes.tumblr.com

Sunday, February 12, 2012

This Weekend

I went to Friday's Knicks vs Lakers game at Madison Square Garden with A. and we got to see first-hand what all this Jeremy Lin hype was about. Wow and to think that this talent was just sitting around waiting to be noticed.

Letters M, N, W, and Y were added to the Souvenir Foto School project.

I washed practically every textile in my house (clothes, bed sheets, couch covers, curtains, carpets) out of fear of having bed bugs. It took nearly four hours and too many trips up and down a fourth floor walk-up.

Two days later, I realized that I probably don't have bed bugs. I get one more mysterious bite though and I'm out of here.

The Painted Veil so did not end as I thought it would...

I started taking advantage of NY Sports Club's 30 Days for $30 deal along with Anonymous. Painful but fun.

Whitney Houston passed away at the age of 48. My sister sent along this video of the Dubai Fountains synchronized to "I Will Always Love You" today and yes, I cried a bit.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Painted Veil

I started reading The Painted Veil a few weeks ago and almost immediately fell in love with the story and this wonderfully written language. I've just picked it back up after setting it down for a bit and keep getting enraptured by Kitty's relationship with her husband after her adulterous affair, the cholera epidemic in the land they've uprooted to, and author W. Somerset Maugham's beautiful ability to describe the smallest detail with such poignancy.

"But the river, though it flowed so slowly, had still a sense of movement and it gave one a melancholy feeling of the transitoriness of things. Everything passed, and what trace of its passage remained? It seemed to Kitty that they were all, the human race, like the drops of water in that river and they flowed on, each so close to the other and yet so far apart, a nameless flood, to the sea. When all things lasted so short a time and nothing mattered very much, it seemed pitiful that men, attaching an absurd importance to trivial objects, should make themselves and one another so unhappy."

Have you ever read it? I cannot wait to finish it so I can borrow the film and spend a quiet evening getting lost in it all over again.

Image: mmorrow.tumblr.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

20 Inexpensive Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

I don't know what we'll be doing for Valentine's Day this year, but I'd been thinking that just because we're on a budget doesn't mean we can't make something special of the day, right? While it might very well be a commercialized holiday (which ones aren't anyway?), it'd still be nice to show a little extra affection on V-day - or am I just saying that because I'm a woman? So I thought up some simple and low-cost ways you can share the love.

1. Surprise her with a trip to your favorite lookout spot and read poetry together. Better yet, write one of your own.
2. Search for free dance classes in your area and pick up a few new moves.
3. Or find a sex book or website with moves of a racier kind and try them out that very night.
4. Breakfast in bed. Bonus points if you get creative with the presentation.
5. Set up an area in the apartment for a fun photo shoot.
6. During the week leading up to Valentine's Day, hand him an envelope with a quick note describing one thing you adore about him or a special memory you've shared.
7. Discover a whole new dessert recipe and attempt to make it from scratch.
8. Two words: oil massage. Spectrum Naturals Refined Organic Coconut Oil is amazing!
9. Instead of heading out to dinner, stay in and cook each course together.
10. Precede or follow with a classic DVD. Does anybody else still love Amelie as much as I do?
11. Are you the crafty type? Can you play the guitar? Are you a top chef on the low? Then use it those talents to your advantage.
12. Give him some guy time to watch sports and play his video games. (Pro tip ladies: they like it when you give their games a chance.)
13. Write a love letter by hand and hide it. She'll treasure it far more than a quick text message.
14. Send him off to work with a pre-packed lunch complete with something sweet - like fruits with these cute labels.
15. Greet her after work with a hot bath and kisses to help her unwind.
16. Let the inner child out: don your PJ's, build a tent, and bust out the board games along with everything you'll need to make s'mores by the fire.
17. You know those chores you keep getting nagged about? Do them before you're asked.
18. Grab an astronomy book or download a constellation app for your phone or iPad (like Star Walk!) and go stargazing.
19. Go in for that yearly check-up. Love yourself first and make sure you'll stick around to love everyone else for a long time.
20. If you love her, just show and tell her - every single day of the year.

What will you be doing for Valentine's Day?

Images: bella185.com and designsponge.com

Graffiti, A Little Red Lighthouse, Desserts, and Ice Skating

Here are a few more shots from my Souvenir Foto School. I was semi-determined to stick to alphabetical order, but that went right out the window when I had some trouble photographing a "D" on Saturday.

G is for Graffiti. Taken at 5 Pointz, a warehouse in Queens that's completely covered in amazing artwork. I tweaked the image and bumped up the saturation to give it more of a comic book feel.

L is for Little Red Lighthouse standing tall underneath the George Washington Bridge. I was glad the sky was much bluer than the day before so I had some complimentary color to play off of.

D is for Desserts from my favorite shops around NYC: macarons from Lily O'Brien's, cupcake from Crumbs, donuts from Doughtnut Plant, mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa, artisan hard candy from Papabubble, and gummy worms from Duane Reade. A bit much, but I couldn't focus on just one!

And yesterday's attempt to capture I is for Ice Skating at Citi Pond at Bryant Park highjacked my whole day. What started in broad daylight soon turned into night, which allowed me to capture this scene. By that point I was so ready to go home. And check out the Empire State Building in the distance glowing blue in honor of the Giants' Super Bowl victory!

Stay tuned as I keep photographing the alphabet and building on this New York City photo theme. You can view my Flickr photostream here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Comfort In Uncertainty

The last few months have been stressful for A. and me and it's not the relationship, but rather outside factors that have been taking a toll on our moods. See, he's been having the hardest time landing a new job and after a string of interviews that have ultimately led nowhere, he's somewhat shifted into survival mode.

I try to be comforting, encouraging, and attempt to cheer him up and drag him out the house when he's feeling low, but sometimes I don't know what else to do. Should I back off and leave A. to do his thing when my instinct is to run and shower him with feelings whenever he's down? He's quite the practical one, you know. I think in the end all I can do is be by his side as he figures things out and hope that something good comes soon.

Then there's me. I'm also trying to recover from a financial hit. Since being bumped down to part-time status upon my return from Thailand, I'm also trying to stay afloat and optimistic. And with goals and plans that I want to make happen this year, it means a lot that we both be in good financial standing.

But see sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I want that I forget that he's also in a spot that's uncertain and scary. When I want to go out with him to enjoy the day and he'd rather stay inside, I get so frustrated! This city is filled with cheap and fun things we could do, but it's hard to focus on that when his mind is elsewhere - as it should be, I guess. So for now I'm here, offering my help and (sometimes unsuccessfully) trying to keep my selfish needs in check.

How do you comfort your partner when he/she is going through a really rough time? Do you ever get annoyed, too?

Image: Anton Tang

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Inspiration

Today almost got away from me without sharing a bit of inspiration to kick off the week. I worked my morning shift, completed my daily photo for Souvenir Foto Class early, cried when I realized that I did break my beloved macro lens when I dropped it a few days ago, and then spent the rest of the day in the emergency room. No, my discovery didn't land me in the hospital; Mom's knee has been swollen for days and so she couldn't stand it any longer. Now she's got herself a nice pimp cane to help her walk around.

So basically any of the above sounds nice right about now, but more importantly, I need some sleep. I can take over the world in the morning.

Image: myconcretesky.com

Friday, February 3, 2012

C is for Central Park

If this trend I've got going continues, Dry As Toast will be completely abandoned before February is through! I'm having such a good time walking around for hours trying to get The Shot and playing around on Photoshop that it's taking over my time for blogging. No worries though, I could never truly desert you.

Above is my submission for today's class taken from Central Park's Bow Bridge, the second oldest cast iron bridge in the country don't you know. I loved the graceful arch of the bridge and doesn't this angle make it look like the whole thing is buckling?

So what are you guys doing this weekend? A few hours ago, I went to see the teen superhero flick Chronicle, which just opened today. I liked it, but there was some room for improvement. There's also a friend's birthday celebration coming up and then it's Super Bowl Sunday. Do you guys really get into football? I only just watched my first game of the season a couple weeks ago and caught the Giants' entry into the Super Bowl. So I'm sure it's going to be madness in the city if the team wins this weekend.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A is for A Train, B is for Brooklyn Bridge

Our Souvenir Foto School kicked off on Flickr yesterday and would you believe me if I said I've already learned so much in just two days? We've touched upon the subtle use of textures, lighting, Photoshop actions, technical tips, and then some. Headmistress Tristan B. and professor Michelle P. are great with their critiques and the other students have been offering their own feedback, suggestions, and kudos.

You know, when the photos first started rolling in, my first reaction was "Oh my God, I thought this was supposed to be school! Why is everyone so damn GOOD?" But now I'm as addicted to reading the comments on everyone else's photos as much as I am on mine. There's so much good info being given on there and I want to make sure I catch it all.

We were given the option of choosing a theme for our alphabet project to help narrow down our focus and compile a cohesive collection so I chose New York City. To start off, I spent about an hour at Penn Station yesterday shooting Lord knows how many A trains speeding into and out of the station. For my first attempt at editing the image on Photoshop, I was too heavy-handed with the texture filter, but after a few tips from the class I tinkered with it some more and ended up with this:
To capture the letter B (and we don't have to go in alphabetical order, by the way), A. and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. I hadn't been there since 2009 and he'd never even set foot on it before. It was quite chilly by the river and the sun was just beginning to duck behind the Manhattan skyline, but I was able to create today's submission by merging one, two, three shots into this one:
I'm having a great time rediscovering the city and playing around with the camera. It's nice to use it not just when I'm out traveling.

How about you? Have you captured anything interesting lately?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

12 Things from the 2012 New York International Gift Fair

Once again I attended the biannual New York International Gift Fair at the Jacob Javits Center and strolled through aisles upon aisles of gorgeous new products for the home, office, body, gifts, baby, you name it. With more than 2,800 exhibitors it's so easy to get overwhelmed with all there is to see and because I love you too much to bombard you with it all, I've narrowed it down to these 12 cool things that caught my eye during the show.
1. New candy-colored versions of Jonathan Adler's Vice Canisters that will be available by March ($26-$120).
2. The Sarut Group had a nice collection of Globee illustrated globes of cities around the world. Even though Globee is based in the U.K., we can score these at Pylones for $31 to $48.
3. The beginnings of Rifle Paper Co.'s 2013 Cities calendar, which will start shipping in July.
4. Fluf lunch bags and bins all made from 100 percent certified organic cotton. (Fluf was even included in the 2012 NYIGF Top 7 Most Sustainable Companies!)
5. The ladies behind OneCanoeTwo have designed this beautiful Letterpress Recipe Card Binder Kit with dividers and plenty of pages for cooks who prefer a little more organization and customization than their popular recipe boxes provide ($46).
6. Not only does Flight 001 have a fun selection of travel packs and bags, but the zippered packaging they come in are cool enough to use on their own. The Munchies bag - to carry around those midday snacks - is the newest addition to the line of Go Clean Pack Bags ($18-$30)
7. Yummy smelling candles and soaps from Lollia's Wish and Imagine collections (from $8).
8. Handcrafted bowls from Lawrence McRae's Lacey collection.
9. France-based Mimi' Lou just joined Karen Alweil Studio six months ago to start selling in the States and I found her extensive collection of wall decals, textiles, totes, and pretty paper lanterns so stinkin' sweet.
10. Smiling Planet, another Karen Alweil Studio account, caught my eye with this Moon flag and Buddha textiles that reminded me of Thailand.
11. New designs are now available for Chewing the Cud's fabric Give Wrap (from $10) and canvas bucket (from $12).
12. Ecojot had many things I wanted, namely tote bags and cases for electronics I've yet to own ($8-$45).