December 23, 2011

{Creative Corner} DIY Advent Calendar

On December 1st we began our advent calendar. I was inspired by Martha Stewart and made a stocking advent calendar.



We have enjoyed counting the days and getting a stocking each day. It is fun way to count down to Christmas.

December 22, 2011

{Creative Corner} Crafty Inspiration

I have neglected this blog for sometime. I am so sorry blog. I've spent more time blogging with Baby Bear and not much for me. I recently gave in and joined pinterest. It is a great website where many other bloggers share their ideas and crafts. Here are a few things I have been inspired to make.

I made these cards for Baby Bear's teachers (inspired by eighteen25) and packaged it along with a coffee cup and some treats (I forgot to get a picture of the final product) as a holiday gift.



For Baby Bear's class mates, I made these little cards that they could color along with a few crayons. Here is a picture of the inside of the card.


March 27, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 12 and 13: The Big Apple

Since I was on vacation in NYC, I didn't get to post pictures. But I took a lot and so here are a few (some taken by me and some by Papa Bear, since I Baby Bear needed a bit of attention, Papa Bear had more control of the camera than I did).

Central Park.



A New York City evening.


Tourists at the museum.


The Empire State Building.



At Times Square.



For more pictures of our trip to the Big Apple, check out Baby Bear's blog.

March 13, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 11: Lesson 5 Composition

I am a bit behind on my lessons, but that is fine. I just have to take it all one step at a time. Lesson 5 is on composition and gives 6 tips to help compose a photos:

  1. Keep it simple - eliminate distractions
  2. Apply the rule of thirds
  3. Keep an eye on the horizon
  4. Frame your subject
  5. Fill the frame
  6. Try a new perspective

Here are a few of the tips in action. A nice and easy lesson.

Fill the frame.


Keep it simple (and fill the frame).


Rule of thirds.


March 11, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 9 and 10: Catching Up

I have fallen way behind on my pictures. I've been so busy with work and life that I haven't had much time to blog. So here I am catching up. I got a new lens for my birthday and have been playing with it.

So to catch up here are photos for week 9 and 10 of my 52 week challenge.




And my favorite picture.


I am enjoying this new lens. It is definitely nicer quality photos from my kit lens.

March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday: The beginning of 40 days

Today is Ash Wednesday marking the start of the Lenten season. I admit that I have not been the best Catholic. In fact, since Baby Bear was born I have only been to mass a handful of times. I really need to get back to church. Luckily, they held a mass at the colleges and I was able to go during lunch to get my ashes.

I still plan to observe Lent as I always do. I am planning to give up sweets; meaning candy, treats, chocolate, ice cream, etc. I also plan to collect one item of my belongings each day to give to Goodwill or other charitable causes. So the idea is that by the end of the 40 days of Lent, I should have 40 items, whether it be clothing or trinkets or anything else to donate. The caveat is that it has to be my belonging not Baby Bear's or Papa Bear's. It would be way to easy to give away a bunch of Baby Bear's clothing and toys. I have way too many material possessions and this is one way for me to give to those who don't have as much.

March 1, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 8: Celebrating 36

Yesterday was my birthday. We didn't do much this year to celebrate, just laid low. Papa Bear had class in the evening and I ended up having to work. I usually try to take the day off for my birthday but I was just too busy at work. Besides we are going to New York in 17 days for work and play, so I figured I would take the time off then and Papa Bear and I can celebrate both our birthdays in New York since his birthday is towards the end of March.

Papa Bear watched Baby Bear yesterday and brought her to work to meet me for lunch. It is always nice to see my Baby Bear. I received some really nice messages from friends on facebook and cards from my lola and BFF. It was a mellow and beautiful day.

Papa Bear got me a new lens for my camera, the nifty fifty. I can't wait for it to come and to try it out. From what I hear it is worlds better than the kit lens that I have been using.

I got some gorgeous flowers from my mother-in-law. And here are those beautiful flowers...



February 21, 2011

Desert Dash 2011 - rain

I was planning on running the Desert Dash 5K in Parker, AZ. We drove out to Parker to meet up with some friends, but on Saturday morning we woke up to pouring rain. So I opted out of running. The run is in the desert in dirt and all uphill, there was no way I was going to be able to run that. I am just not that hard core. I am bummed because I was looking forward to it, but I was not willing to run in pouring rain. A little drizzle and running on asphalt or cement, no problem but I was not looking to do a mud run.

{Photo Corner} Week 7: A little behind

I am a little behind with posting pictures. Here of Baby Bear's little friend she made this weekend.


This is Cornelius, he is a sweet pug. I'll hopefully get back to the lessons soon. Life happens and it has been crazy busy.

February 11, 2011

{Fitness Corner} Sometimes life happens

I have been doing well to keep my routine going. This week, I have been focusing on training for a 5K. I haven't been training hard or anything, but just shifting gears from strength training to running more. I've been able to keep it up with 4-5 days a week of working out, which has been great and leaves me feeling good.

Well, it looks like things might have to change. My workout time at the gym is before work. Well I am going to have to alter my workout schedule since I was just asked to join a weekly research team meeting on Wednesday mornings. So this meeting is probably going to cut into my workout time. My workout time is timed just so that I can drop Baby Bear off at daycare, workout for 20-30 minutes (depends on how cooperative Baby Bear was that morning in getting out the door on time), shower and get ready, and then walk to my office (it is nice having a nice gym on campus). Having a meeting in the mornings means either cutting my workout time or not working out that morning.

I will see how I might be able to manage it. It is not the end of the world. Wednesdays I also do yoga, so I get two workouts in that day. So it might not be so bad. But it is a bit disappointing since I am not a fan of morning meetings. Work is work and I have to do it and be a team player

February 8, 2011

{Creative Corner} Valentine's Day cards

Valentine's Day is coming and I designed a Valentine's Day card for Baby Bear to give out to her daycare friends.

Vday 2011 copy

A Walk for MS

One of my oldest and dearest friends, John Juniper, was recently diagnose with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is an unpredictable neurological disease that could prevent him from walking someday. He has chosen to start an Interferon therapy that should slow the disease progression, but to date there is no cure for MS.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is dedicated to moving us closer toward a world free of MS, but they can't do it without our help. I will be participating in Walk MS 2011 in Rancho Cucamonga on April 9, 2011. I am joining The J Crew for John and will walk with them to support this important cause.

Please help by making a donation to support my fundraising efforts. Money raised will support education, advocacy, research, and local programs that enhance the quality of life for people with MS and their families. Click here to visit my personal web page to make a secure, online donation. If you prefer, you can mail a check to the National MS Society, Walk MS, 2440 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 115, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Please be sure to put my name and our team name, The J Crew, in the memo portion of the check so it will be credited to my fundraising efforts.

Join me at the walk! Walk MS is our rallying point, a time and a place for our communities to come together to raise funds and celebrate hope for the future. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is dedicated to moving us toward a world free of MS. They fund research into effective MS therapies and also help people with MS to live powerful, meaningful lives. I believe in the work they do.

Any amount, great or small, helps to make a difference in the lives of people with MS. We appreciate your support and look forward to keeping you updated as the event draws nearer.

February 7, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 6: Lesson 4 Flash

This week's lesson was on the flash. Basically, when to use a flash and things to consider when you use a flash such as distance and glare. It also covers using your flash outdoors.

The challenge for this lesson required to go outdoors and use a flash. I wasn't able to do the first part of the challenge since it asked that you go out on a gray day. And though it is winter time, in Southern California we had beautiful 70 degree weather this weekend. I love living in So Cal!

The second part of the challenge was to use fill flash to eliminate dark shadows on the face on a bright day. With beautiful weather, this was something I could do!

This picture is without a flash with my favorite model.


Here is another picture of Baby Bear, with the flash this time.


Here is another set. First without a flash:


With the flash:


I never would have thought to use a flash outside during the day (Papa Bear even asked why I had the flash on during the day). Even with only an internal flash, it does make a difference in certain situations. I am having so much fun learning about photography.

February 4, 2011

{Health and Fitness} NROL4W Stage 2 complete

Wow, it felt like I just started stage 2 and it is now done. I guess stage 1 took longer because it was a longer and I was doing it 2 days a week. I now have 3 days a weeks to devote to it and that made the stage 2 speed on by. I like the program and that it does move along so it doesn't seem like I am doing the same thing all the time. Plus, I know that it is better to switch things up a bit so that my body continues to work and be challenged. I am look forward to the new challenge ahead.

I am going to take the next couple of week to focus on running before moving to stage 3. A break is recommended in the first place. But I have also committed to doing a 5K in a couple of weeks and have done nothing to train. I did the Desert Dash 5K last year and I remember the terrain was really steep, pretty much uphill the entire way. So I do not expect to break any records or even run the majority of it. But I do feel the need to start up some training even if I do plan to most walk it.

I am feeling stronger. I haven't weighed myself or anything but weight loss was never my goal. My goal was to build strength, tone, and define. Of course, I should really work on what I eat to lose fat but I was never one to diet. I do need to focus on eating healthier and I need to make a conscious effort to limit my treats. I have been overdoing it a little bit and I need to watch that more. It is all about moderation and finding the right balance. I am working on it.

February 3, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 5: A red retro kitchen

I wasn't able to do lesson 4 because it requires you to go outside and it is generally dark by the time I get home, so I will have to wait until the weekend to do the next lesson. For now I leave you with a few pictures of a kitchen...


Baby Bear's new play kitchen. Isn't it just too cute!


The knobs actually work!


Practicing this white balance thing a little more. I think I might be getting the hang of it. At least I think the coloring in these photos are way better when I use a custom white balance setting. I did try the other pre-sets.

For some pictures of Baby Bear playing with her new kitchen, check out her blog.

February 1, 2011

Welcome February!

Yay to February! It is the best month of the year, which also happens to be my birthday month. That is right just 27 more days until one of the most important days of the year!!

Welcome February!

January 27, 2011

{Health and Fitness} My workout schedule

One of the big goals is to increase the intensity and rigor of my workout and get back to my yoga regular practice. So far so good. I think I have found a schedule that works for me for now.

Monday - New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROL4W)
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - NROL4W and yoga
Thursday - interval runs
Friday NROL4W
Saturday - jog with baby bear
Sunday - rest

I have been able to work it with Papa Bear to be able to take my yoga class again. So every Wednesday night, he takes over to get Baby Bear bathed and ready for bed so that I can go to my yoga class. I love being able to get back into it. I love yoga and it feels amazing and helps to have that time to myself. I am not exactly at the same level that I used to be, but I am working my way back. It just feels so great. You know a yoga class is great when you are sweating (and I am not talking about doing Bikram or hot yoga). Monica - thank you for a great class every week.

When I started the NROL4W, I was doing it 2 days a week. I have been able to add an extra day which is what they recommend and I am able to add a day of running by bringing Baby Bear with me in the jogging stroller.

The NROL4W is a nice program so far, I am in Stage 2 and I am sore and feeling stronger every day. I am increasing the weight slowly and I am feeling good. I think it is a great workout plan. I am moving along the program nicely. What I like most about it is that it is not this plan where you just do it for 30 days or something like that. I like the progressive nature of the program. Granted I am only in Stage 2.

So I am working well toward my goal for balance with health and fitness. It is so important for me and such a big part of who I am. The two weeks where I had to take a hiatus due to moving and Baby Bear's pneumonia were rough weeks. There were days in that period where I thought I was going to lose it. The loss of balance in my life really threw me; I was exhausted, stressed, unhappy, and just falling apart. Now that I am getting back on track with my health and fitness, it really makes a difference to provide me with some balance. It gives me a few moments to myself where I just get to focus on me and it makes a huge difference in my quality of life. It is good for me; not just for my body but also for my mind and soul.

January 24, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 4: Lesson 3 The Color of Light

I hope to be back on track with my photography lessons. The third lesson was on light and white balance. "White balance is simply a fancy way of setting the color temperature of your image." There are several White Balance settings: cloudy, tungsten, bright sun, and florescent. However, the best way is to use a custom white balance, which forces the camera to set its white balance for the exact lighting situation that you are shooting.

Automatic White Balance (AWB)


Tungsten setting. You don't really see a drastic difference between the two photos.


Custom White Balance. Here is where you see less of a orange cast on the photo.

Custom White Balance

I really enjoy learning about photography and how to use my manual settings.

January 20, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 3: Growing Up

This week I didn't have time to do the 3rd lesson, so instead for my 52 week challenge I took a few pictures on my favorite subject, Baby Bear!

2011-01-20 mama's shoes

2011-01-19 ready

Still learning to take better photos...

January 10, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 2: Lesson 2 ISO and Shutter Speed

Lesson 2 is on ISO and Shutter Speed.

ISO, or film speed, is really just a setting to determine how quickly an image will be captured by either the film or digital sensor. The higher the ISO, the quicker the image will be captured and the less light that is required. The lower the ISO, the longer it takes for the image to be captured and the more light you will need.

general rule of thumb:
  • 100 - 200 sunny and outdoors
  • 400 in the shade, overcast, indoors with good light
  • 800 - 1600 indoors, low light conditions, sports or action

Shutter speed is how quickly the shutter, or the little door that opens in front of your film or image sensor, operates. It can range from several seconds (or minutes on the Bulb setting) to 1/1600 of a second or faster.

general rule of thumb:
  • use a tripod or flat surface to steady your hand for anything 1/50th or under
  • if you are handholding, use a minimum of 1/60th. Hold your breath while taking the photo to reduce camera shake.
  • fast moving objects require at least 1/1000 to freeze the action.

My photos from the weekly challenge:

1/80 speed with ISO 1600

1/80 speed

1/1000 speed with ISO 1600.

1/1000 speed

You can see that the action in the second photo is frozen more than first. Pretty cool!

January 6, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 1: Lesson 1 - Aperture

One of my goals was to get more creative by learning to use my new DSLR camera in manual.

My camera: Canon Rebel T2i. I love it!

So to challenge myself and help me meet my 2011 goal, I am doing a 52 week challenge in which I take a photo once a week. I had thought about a 365 challenge but didn't think that was very feasible with my lifestyle and schedule to take a photo a day. So 52 weeks it is. For the first 12 weeks, I am doing a 12 week online course with a few friends. Each lesson has several challenges to help you learn each concept.

The first lesson is on aperture or f/stop. The size of the aperture, or f/stop, of a lens determines how much of your photograph is in focus. The f/stop numbers refer to how open or closed the aperture on the lens is. Basically:
  • low f/stop = less of your photo will be in focus.
  • high f/stop = MORE of your photo will be in focus.
So here are my photos from the weekly challenge using different f/stops.

f/3.5. You can see that the background is blurry in this photo.


f/8. Here you can see that the background has a little more clarity.


f/22. With the larger f/stop you can clearly see the flowers on the window. A great deal more clarity.


It was fun to learn something about taking photos in manual rather than relying on auto. I am excited that I can see the differences among the photos as well. On to the next lesson...

January 5, 2011

Happy 2011

It is a new year. We are in our newly remodeled home (I will post some pictures later) and it is great. I am not one to make New Year's resolutions rather I usually make some goals for the year. I hadn't really got the chance to think about any goals for this new year since we had been so busy with the move. So now that I have had a chance to think more about it, I realized that I need to focus more on myself. I have been so busy being mommy, that I haven't really had the chance to do the things I like or want to do. So this year is about carving out time for me. Yes, I am Mama Bear, but I am also me. My needs have been put aside for 19 months, but I think it is time to find a balance between meeting my needs and the needs of my family.

My goals for 2011:

Get creative. There are two things that I hope to do to be more creative.
  1. Learn to use my camera in manual. I got a new DSLR camera for Christmas. I had been wanting one for years and I finally got one and I am so excited to be able to use it. Several of my friends are doing an online 12 week lesson. So this will get me on my way. I've already completed week 1 and I will start posting the results of my lessons here as well.
  2. Continue to design invitations. I enjoy designing and last year go back into it with designing Baby Bear's birthday invitation, my friend's baby shower invitation, and my grandmother's 90th birthday invitation. It has been so fun to have a creative outlet and I am currently designing an invitation for a friend's baby shower. I will share that here soon.
Revisit what I enjoy doing to stay balanced. Being balanced helps me to be a better mommy and less stressed and I really feel that it is time to focus a little on myself so that I can have the patience to deal with the challenges of parenting and have a clear head to parent more positively.
  1. Increase the intensity and rigor of my workout. Before becoming Mama Bear, I exercised and worked out regularly. I still do that, but the intensity and level of my activity was much more rigorous. Part of it is carving the time for it, but it is also about making it a priority. It is important for me to be in shape and I need to make it a bigger priority. I started the New Rules of Lifting for Women the end of last year. I finished stage 1 and I am now into stage 2. I will admit I slacked off with stage 2 when the holidays hit and we began our move. I am ready to get back at it.
  2. Get back to my regular yoga practice. I absolutely love yoga, but I haven't been able to regularly go to classes like I did before Baby Bear was born. I tried on multiple occasions. Now that Baby Bear is older and we are in our house, I am making this a priority. I went to a class tonight and it was fabulous. I felt so refreshed and amazing. I want to feel like that all the time.
Pamper myself on occasion. This one is a bit of a challenge since it requires me to spend money, which is something we don't have a lot of since spending and hemorrhaging (as Papa Bear likes to say) so much money on our remodel. We really should be saving to replenish the money spent. But nevertheless I do think is an important part of focusing on me.
  1. Get a manicure and pedicure once in a while. I haven't had a real manicure or pedicure since the day before Baby Bear was born. Being that Baby Bear is now 19 months old, that was 19 months ago! I am not talking about doing this on a regular basis, but it is nice to be pampered once in a while. I don't have a particular goal with regard to frequency. Maybe once every two-three months as a treat. I think that may be reasonable, we will have to see how our wallet likes that one.
  2. Dress less frumpy. I just feel like I have very little time to make myself look beautiful each day. I am not talking about dressing up and being glamorous, just helping myself to feel less blah looking each day. I need some new clothes that fit. My pre-pregnancy clothing fit, but my body has changed so they don't fit as well as they used to. I am particular about the way clothes fit and look on me. I find that lately I don't feel good about how I look because clothes don't fit me right. Again, I don't want to spend a lot of money and I really don't have a lot of time to shop either. So this particular goal is going to be quite challenging, but I am going to try to make an effort to solve this issue. Not sure how quite yet.
De-clutter. Now that we are in our newly remodeled home, we have a little more space. But just because we have more space doesn't mean we can have more things. Packing and moving has made me realize that we have too much stuff and I think it is time for me to go through what we have to de-clutter and to pare down. On top of what we have at home, we have stuff in storage. It is time to really think about what we need and what is just clutter.

So there we have it, my goals for 2011.