Star Wars Celebration Anaheim

Had so much fun at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim this last Saturday! The show was sold out and packed full of fans from all generations. Obviously this year is a special time for the Star Wars universe with The Force Awakens continuing the original saga in Decemeber, so it was awesome to be a part of that excitement and energy, especially after the premiere of the new teaser on Thursday. Definitely didn’t get tired of hearing people randomly shout out “Chewie, we’re home!” throughout the day, haha.

The days leading up to Saturday, I tuned into the live stream to catch the panels from the comfort of my own home rather than waiting in long lines at the con (wish all cons did live streams like that!). We spent the majority of our SWCA experience wandering the exhibit floor, checking out fan-built droids, snapping pics of costumes and set replicas, swooning over fan art (particularly this adorable painting of a creature carousel by Christian Slade), and searching through the stores for ewok action figures and vintage Micro Machine play sets. We ended the night by watching Empire Strikes Back in a huge theater full of die-hard Star Wars fans and it was the best thing ever.

Also, if there’s not enough Star Wars things to be excited about, check out this leaked teaser for Rogue One, the first standalone film in the Anthology series. Bonus – it’ll feature a female lead. Lots of girl power coming up in the new Star Wars movies!

24 Before 25

Yesterday was my birthday, and as tradition, I’ve compiled a list of things I’d like to accomplish before the next one. It’s easy to just let the years pass on by without a second thought, but as I get older, I strive to become a better person with meaningful experiences to look back on. Twenty-four is gonna be a crazy different year for me. I feel like I’m officially an “adult” with real responsibilities – as a wife, a college graduate, a business owner, etc. Twenty-three was all about figuring out what I want out of life and how I fit into the world. Now twenty-four is time to do the work and get things done. It’s time for me to stop dreaming and start doing. So here are a few things I plan on doing this year.

✔ 01. Purge!

Throw out clothes that don’t fit, underwear that got chewed up in the dryer, and socks with no matches. Clean up hard drives and delete duplicate files that are taking up space. Get rid of the unnecessary clutter and let go of things that bog down my mind.

✔ 02. Connect with more creative ladies.

Already doing this! My extraordinarily talented friend Lindsey Clark gathered a few artsy girls together for coffee one morning to talk shop, encourage each other, and overall do life together. I can’t express enough how incredible it’s been to have a group of like-minded women to share my journey with. (I’ll probably talk more on this later in another post.)

03. Start agility training with Scout.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty obsessed with this dog. She is ridiculously smart and so much fun to train. But cattle dogs are a lot more high maintenance than other breeds when it comes to exercise, and they needs “jobs” in order to stay physically and mentally healthy. Heelers were pretty much built for agility and since this little pup is starting to turn the house into an agility course, I want to enroll in some official classes with her this year.

04. Make more photo books.

As we move further into a disposable and intangible digital age, I find myself craving analog. I want to be able to hold my memories and appreciate them more and more as time passes. Joy Cho gives some great tips for archiving your digital photos with intention, and I plan on using Artifact Uprising to make some photo books this year.

05. Learn to develop a WordPress theme from scratch.

I dream of regaining my status as a unicorn (someone who designs and develops). I haven’t kept up with the ever-changing trends in web design over the years and ended up falling behind, especially when it come to CMS. While I can code a responsive site from scratch using static HTML5/CSS, I haven’t quite figured out dynamic coding for WordPress. I’m determined to master it by the end of the year.

06. Take a trip to Portland.

Stumptown is next up on our random trips list. Hopefully getting tattooed while we’re there and visiting old friends (and maybe making new ones?).

07. Finally finish some old projects!

I have notebooks filled with ideas, unfinished drawings lying around, and photos that were never edited. This is the year these projects will finally see the light of day!

✔ 08. Do something special for the important people in my life.

One of my best friends, Ali, has an incredible gift for making her friends feel especially valued. This girl has left gift baskets on my doorstep, sent hand made cards in the mail, and can be counted on like no other. I’ve always been more reserved in relationships, but this year I’m gonna strive to make sure those that matter know they matter.

✔ 09. Get good at stick n poke tattoos.

Some years ago, my husband started drawing on himself with a sewing needle and calligraphy ink. Considering I’m the better artist of the two, he’s agreed to show me how to do it myself and use his skin for practice.

✔ 10. Throw a 90s party.

Nickelodeon style.

11. Attend a design / creative conference.

Whether it’s Yellow Conference, Circles, Designer Vaca, or just a Creative Mornings talk in San Diego, I want to glean more knowledge from other designers, network with my peers, and be inspired by the success of others.

12. Do something outside my comfort zone for my business.

Reach out to a dream client, contact an agency for freelance work, or sell my work in a new-to-me way.

✔ 13. Cope with the fact that I won’t be going to Comic Con this year. :(

Yep, it’s the first time in 5 years my friends and I had no luck getting badges with the new “randomized” registration system. We’ll have to figure out something else to do when July rolls around to keep our minds off it.

14. Start working on a new costume.

Hey, even though we aren’t going to SDCC this year, doesn’t mean I can’t at least get ahead on a new piece for next time. Already been planning a new Star Wars couples cosplay. ;)

15. Plan a special getaway to celebrate our one year of marriage.

How have we already been married for 6 months?!

✔ 16. Break a bad habit.

If I have one habit that annoys the hell out of Dave, it’s my dirty cup collecting problem. I make a chai banana shake every morning and then leave the cup on my desk. Repeat every day for a whole week and I suddenly have an army of dirty Mason jars stationed in my office. As I write this, there’s currently 9 on my desk and two more in the bedroom… It needs to stop.

✔ 17. Master the art of baking one thing really well.

I love to cook and I’m pretty darn good at it. Baking, however, is not my forte. I don’t plan to become a master baker, but I’d love to be able to make one thing right, if not really good.

18. Re-watch every episode of Pokemon.

At least up ’til the original trio separates at the end of Master Quest (season 5). Maybe I’m going through a quarter-life crisis and reverting to my childhood, but Dave and I wind down at the end of the night by watching old episodes from the Indigo League and playing Blue version on my Gameboy Color. And it’s been the best decision we’ve ever made. 216 more episodes to go!

✔ 19. Own my expertise.

I have no fear of calling myself an expert on certain things, but I have a hard time feeling like my knowledge is worth sharing. I’d love to start revealing more creative secrets on this blog and maybe even put together a photography or design related ecourse.

20. Take better care of myself.

While I’m all about loving yourself as you are, I know I’m currently not at my best. Despite swearing I wouldn’t let it happen, I completely fell victim to the newlywed weight gain. It’s time to start getting my money’s worth out of the gym membership I can’t bring myself to cancel. And in the meantime: start whitening my teeth again, plan weekly meals, wash my makeup off EVERY night (not just when I feel like it), keep my nails mannicured, and get a dang haircut more often than once every 5 months.

21. Camp at Yosemite.

Haven’t been since I was a kid, and I know I’d have a whole new appreciation for it now.

22. Do some sort of creative challenge.

I love the idea behind 365 projects, but I know I don’t have the time or discipline to complete one. Maybe there’s something else out there that would still be challenging, but more realistic for my work schedule.

23. Finalize my workspace.

There’s a reason I haven’t posted a home tour in ages, even after moving into a new place… Boxes still line my office floors and cords are slithering around the walls. I desperately need to take control of my creative space this year.

✔ 24. Keep not giving a f*ck.

Why I’ve Starting Photographing Boudoir

The first time I became interested in photographing boudoir was after second shooting a wedding with a good friend of mine. The bride wanted to recreate a photo she’d seen on Pinterest before getting into her dress. She was topless, her bare back towards the camera, and the light from the hotel room window passed through her veil. They easily got the shot in just a few clicks, but my photographer friend encouraged her to try a few other looks. She shyly covered herself, notably sucked in her stomach, and self-consciously moved only as she was directed. After a few more clicks, my friend flipped the camera screen around to her and revealed an incredibly gorgeous woman staring back. “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe that’s ME!” Seeing herself like that, maybe for the first time ever, triggered something. And what was only meant to be a quick shot turned into a full boudoir session as she rolled around in bed, made eyes at the camera, and increasingly became more and more confident with herself and her body.

I loved that moment so much. Yeah, the photo was intended as a gift for her soon-to-be hubby, but that experience was all for her. A beautiful self-transformation. As a photographer, I wanted to be a part of giving other women that same experience.

I need not remind anyone how much of Western women’s lives are spent fussing over our bodies, feeling insecure about too much this or too little that. We constantly look back on how we used to be or long for an unrealistic future version of ourselves, never embracing the right now, just as you are.

One of my favorite quotes I’ve included in my sample book is:
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” – Coco Chanel

The great thing I saw happen when I offered my Valentine’s boudoir promo so last minute is I had many women spontaneously decide to book a shoot right now. They didn’t have a chance to “get in shape,” get their hair did, or practice being sexy. In fact, one of my friends ate a Big Mac right before her session. And guess what? She looked stunning! Because she chose to be herself.

Which is why I also prefer to have my girls do their own looks. Some boudoir photographers offer full hair and makeup transformations (some even go as far as showing “before and after” photos in their portfolios as if it’s some great feat that they turned this “ugly duckling” into a sexy swan). Those are the Groupon ads I see all the time. Women with loaded on eye makeup in pearls and high heels lounging in white sheets looking like soft-core sexed up parodies of what they think men like. Instead, my goal is to show women just how beautiful and every-day gorgeous they are, right now in their daily lives — no professional styling, personal trainers, or stripper heels needed.

Of course, anything worth doing comes with critics. Since starting to post boudoir photos on my Instagram (with permission of course), I’ve lost numerous followers, and definitely experienced my fair share of judgement from some of my more conservative acquaintances. Their hatred of seeing other women being body-confident says more about them than it does about me or my work. No amount of negativity can take away the reward of watching the self-confidence pour in when these women realize how gorgeous they are on camera. My work never had this kind of purpose before – through these photos, I’m helping make an impact in other women’s lives. I’ll never get tired of hearing, “Oh my gosh! I look so good!” So I’ll stop posting boudoir on Instagram once every woman has that same moment of realization. Until then, haters can deal with it.

Wanna book a shoot with me? Email me for more details!

Newest Member of Our Little Family

Sorry for the radio silence lately, but my life has been consumed with raising our new fur child. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen lots of Scout, our 3 month old blue heeler. Dave and I picked her up in the boonies of Ramona, California and immediately fell in love!

If you aren’t familiar with Australian cattle dogs (which most people don’t seem to be — we gets lots of “What is that?!” on our walks), they were originally developed by crossbreeding Collies with Dingos, and later with Dalmatians and Kelpies. They’re one of the top 10 smartest dogs. I’ve grown up with some smart dogs in my life (my first childhood dogs were a Rottweiler and a doberman, and of course my current Rottweiler, Frankie — who lives at my parents’ place if anyone is concerned where she went, haha), but there is nothing like a cattle dog. I’m starting to understand fellow owners’ obsession with the breed. I might be turning into a bit of a crazy dog lady. But training and spending my days with her has been so rewarding. They’re not kidding when they say these dogs are smart. Within a week of having her, she already mastered sit / down / stay / come / shake / leave it / bring it / drop it / crate / and every command I really need her to know. This breed is notoriously known for being “velcro dogs”, so you can be sure she follows me everywhere, sits at my feet while I work in the office, cuddles on the couch while we watch movies, and constantly looks up at me for approval and guidance. It’s uncanny how much she understands and how well we’re able to communicate with each other throughout the day.

I’m so looking forward to the journey this dog is going to take us on in the years to come.

Christmas Bucketlist 2014

Hello December! The holiday season is in full swing, the Christmas tree Instagrams are rolling in, and it’s time to start planning our winter-ish festivities. I’m really feeling this is gonna be a good year. Here are a few things we’ve got on the agenda for making the most of Christmas 2014 in San Diego:

✓ December Nights at Balboa Park

Kick off the season with lots of holiday spirit (and insane crowds) at December Nights, one of San Diego’s most popular holiday events. It’s a smorgasbord of art, culture, and general Christmas cheer. There’s live music and performances, food and gifts from all different parts around the globe, and the museums are open late too.

✓ Craft Himmeli ornaments for the tree

These geometric ornaments were super fun and easy to make.

✓ Throw another awesome ugly sweater white elephant party

For the last couple years, I’ve hosted ugly sweater parties centered on watching a horrible movie. Last year we watched the Star Wars Holiday Special, and in previous years we’ve done horror films like Santa’s Slay, Jack Frost, and even an Evil Dead II zombie themed Christmas party.

✓ See the lights at the zoo

Renew our San Diego Zoo passes and walk around at night during Jungle Bells when the park is open late and illuminated with colorful animal lights.

• Buy new leather pants

To rock with oversized sweaters all winter long.

✓ Bundle up and head out to Julian

Grab some legendary apple pie and do a little antiquing in the historic mining town. And maybe see some snow if we’re lucky (my favorite part about living in Southern California is having the perfect warm weather all year round and crisp mountain air just an hour away when we need it).

✓ Concoct a new Christmas cocktail

I’m thinking a hot buttered rum, or a festive white russian.

✓ Partake in our traditional annual Elf fort night

Every year we get together with friends, build a blanket fort in the living room, and watch Elf inside it — like all 20-something & 30-year-olds should.

• Sew our own stockings & fill them with fun little gifts

My mom always gave me fancy new underwear for Christmas and it was my favorite, haha. Dave might be getting some underwear in his stocking this year…

✓ Shop local

Buy gifts from small businesses in our artsy little neighborhood of North Park.

• Celebrate Krampusnacht

Really bummed we won’t be able to make it up to any of the Krampusfest events in LA again this year. But if you’re in SoCal, check out some of the happenings in celebration of the folkloric Christmas devil.

✓ Throwback with Christmas(-ish) movies we haven’t watched in ages

We started with Batman Returns and Home Alone. Next up… Just Friends and Edward Scissorhands.

Now I want to know what you guys have going on this season! Any unique plans, favorite holiday movies, long-standing traditions, or go-to recipes for the best Christmas cookies? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook!