one sixty birthday

It was a whirlwind of parties last night ... first a baby shower and then a 40th birthday celebration! We gathered at one sixty blue for a private dinner to celebrate my lovely friend, Kendra's Birthday ... and closed the place down! I've had the pleasure of knowing Jay and Kendra for almost 20 years and consider them family at this point. We have shared many a meal in celebration of weddings, babies, birthdays, holidays and everything in between. I look forward to continuing the journey. Happy Birthday to my smart, beautiful, talented, stylish, and caring friend Kendra!

hoot of a baby shower

Drove to Chesterton for Holly's baby shower yesterday ... She's got some incredibly talented friends that whipped up paintings, owl pins, prints, yummy sweet treats and etc. We began the evening with coffee and cocktails and a little chit chat. It was nice to meet all of her new friends - I'm kind of the odd man out, coming from out of town, but everyone was very nice and so welcoming. There's just something about a small town isn't there? Anyway, then we made cards - one for each of the baby's upcoming birthdays while dining on bread bowls filled with lintel or squash soup and salads. Followed that up with presents and sweet treats. They also had a really cute game - make a baby out of play dough and have the mom judge which is the best. The interpretation and execution from each woman was so different... so cute and so hard to choose! Baby Sloane will be here sometime in the next thee weeks and I cannot wait to meet her!

an american girl birthday


Bella Barclay turned seven today - 11.11.11. We celebrated at the American Girl Doll store and had lunch with the ladies (and Jeff and Xavier!). It was an explosion of pink and Bella could not have been happier. Maybe a bit overwhelmed by the merchandise surrounding her. See, she's been saving her money and stocking up on Birthday cash to buy a new American Girl Doll and all sorts of accessories. But, what to buy? There's so much! And what girl wouldn't want it all?

The whole experience was pretty seamless. They rang to signal lunch time, we lined up to be seated and stocked up on chairs for all of the dolls and were taken to our table - all set up with crowns and etc. They have a menu of the kid basics plus some adult fare and began bringing beverages and appetizers right away. They took each girl's order and left us with a little box of questions to ask the girls while we waited. The brought out a cake with candles lit and sang happy birthday, passed out little goodie bags and then came back with little slices of cake and flower pots full of ice cream. So cute. Happy Birthday Bella!

hawaii deux :: five

THE. PERFECT. BEACH. DAY. Yep. Finally the day I have been looking for in Hawaii. We met another one of our high school classmates, Wendy, at Hickam Air Force Base beach to catch up and catch some rays! It was super to see Wendy - don't think I've seen her in 20 years - she's just as crazy as I remember!

So, Hickam beach was great - two lifeguards on duty (most beaches have none), kayak and sup board rentals for super cheap, bathroom facilities and shaded picnic benches. It's a small beach, but pretty and not crowded - well not on a Thursday morning anyway. The only problem is that the end of a runway is right along the water and while normal jets are loud, F-22 fighters are insane! They were taking off in pairs and the sound literally vibrated inside my chest it was so loud. Pretty cool to see and like a free air show as they flew overhead, but not the best for sitting and chatting with friends. But Bethany finally got to SUP (stand up paddle) and popped up the first try. She didn't actually fall off the board till she tried to move her feet inline rather than wide. She paddled a little way out and back and practiced some footwork and totally rocked it. They tried to get me out there, but I don't think there is any way in hell I could pop up with my bad knees.


Picked up G and headed back over to Paradise cove where I almost tripped over a green sea turtle - he crept up on me when I was wading about, I turned around and he was right there. Scared me and I hear if they hit you it really hurts because they are heavy!! I sat it in the beach chair along the shore with the waves lapping up over my feet. The sun was getting low in the sky and the people at Paradise Cove were preparing for the luau. At one point I heard a Dave Matthews Band song (One Sweet World) in Hawaiian - or at least I think it was. Had the exact same tune.

Since I had been sitting but the water I was starting to pink up… so banished myself to a shady spot under a tree while B & G continued to play for a bit. Fortunately I saved myself, only a tiny bit burnt on my forehead and scalp and chest is a little pink, but should be good by tomorrow. G was so cute, he ran up to me and said "um, Miss Yvette are you OK up here? I just wanted to check on you." I said I was all good and he ran back to the water. He's such a beach bum.

We left just before sunset - I'm sure it was stunning, but the beach closes at sunset and we needed to clean up to get dinner. It was the perfect beach day! Ahhhhh.


hawaii deux :: three

We started the day with a HUGE breakfast at KOA Pancake House (yum!) and then headed to Ko'Olina beach (lagoon 4) to catch some sun… it was stunning and beautiful for the first hour we were there and then this giant gray cloud moved in *frown."  We met our friend Mark and just sat on the beach chatting, hoping that damn cloud would leave… but it didn't.

So we packed it up and headed to pick G up from school.  We tossed some sandwiches into a cooler and headed for the North Shore.  Stopping at the Dole Plantation to pick up some goodies along the way.  

We had shave ice at the Aloha General Store and I picked up a couple of touristy gifts for people. Oh how I love shave ice - I get blue hawaii flavor.  Sooooooo good! 


We wanted to catch the sunset along the beach and since we made so many pit stops along the way (totally my fault) we didn't make it to Waimea Bay, but stopped just out of town at Hale'iwa Beach.  It's simply lovely.  I mean just look at these photos… 

How could you not be completely moved by this landscape?  And just when I thought the guys paddling on the surf boards were amazing … along comes one of those boats with multiple people paddling.  I could not have paid to have the scene set any better.  Seriously.  This happened.  


So while I snapped iconic photos of the Hawaiian sunset, B & G explored the tide pools finding all sorts of wildlife.  B found an eel, and fortunately this time from afar.  No medical attention needed unlike my last trip.  Wheew!  

And then the magic started to happen… fire in the sky.  Seriously stunning.  


Don't you just love it when the edge of the clouds light up like this?  And then voila… the perfect sunset moment.  


I have about twenty shots in various angles and such of this beautiful spot and honestly they barely do the real thing justice.  The light.  The surfers paddling along the still water.  Palm trees make the most beautiful sound with a little wind blowing through the branches.  And then there were these assholes - mucking it up!   


Then kept climbing on top of that stump talking about how the other person(s) should take their photo.  Laughing.  Being loud.  "Now take a video of us down here and pretend we're mermaids."  Really?  Come on people.  Let the rest of us enjoy this stunning sight in peace.  It not only annoys me when people disrespect this type of moment, but makes me sad that it's completely lost to some… Look around you.  Take it in.  This is nature at it's purest and most magnificent.  Aloha! 

10 on 10 :: September 2011

Hello!  Hello!  Happy 10 on 10 on a weekend!!  I'm always so excited when the 10th falls on a day that I am not in my office - there is only so much to photograph there ... So much easier to find beauty in my city and my travels!!


9 AM :: leaving Chicago and heading to Indiana to spend the day with the Pittman's - I never tire of the Chicago skyline... it's even more dreamy with a little fog


10 AM :: Still on the road to Chesterton ... it was raining and the sun was shining at the same time. Can anyone explain this? Just seems wrong to me! Oh and I love the old Skyway signage!


11 AM :: Bella B shows her cheer spirit at the Trojans game! Now, we didn't have these mini football games complete with cheerleaders when I was a kid, but they are darn cute!


12 PM :: Second half of the game ... Bella's still got the spirit. Sadly neither team scored any points on the field.


1 PM :: Hit the European market to pick up those rosemary flatbreads I love so much! No trip to Chesterton is complete without bringing these home with me!! I love their little market - even picked up some French macarons that were very good. And how delicious do these cupcakes look??


2 PM :: Arrived at the annual Popcorn fest!! Had to get kettle corn and found some adorable little pet toys and holiday decor at a couple of the booths. We buzzed through super quick because there were some sort of flying ant and bees EVERYWHERE. Holly and I were both pulling bugs out of our hair, it was the most disgusting thing!


3 PM :: Finally got Holly's elephant ear - tried on our way in, but they had run out of sugar! Oops! It was super good - worth the wait for sure.


4 PM :: Linus, one of their three dogs, the most adorable great dane. She truly is a gentle giant ...


5 PM :: Slip n' Slide


6 PM :: Still at it ... Don't you sometimes miss being a kid?




7 PM :: Decided to stop off by the museum campus to watch the sun go down behind the city. This is one of my favorite views of the skyline and you can just sit along the lake, people watch, snap a photo or two, enjoy the breeze and watch the lights come on as the sun sets. Lovely.


Hope you had a wonderful day filled with sun, fun, family and friends! So long Summer...

ten on ten button


10 on 10 :: August 2011

Hooray it's the 10th and that means it's time for the 10 on 10 Challenge!  I almost forgot, but saw Yepallmine's post on Twitter this morning just as I was checking all of my social media and having breakfast!  Wheew!  Would have been totally bummed if I had missed it. Even though it was "just another day at the office."  


8 AM : started the day on Google+ even thought the only active participants seem to be photographers ... not sure why that is the case.  I still find myself mostly on Facebook and Twitter these days... Are you on Google+?  Do you use it?  If so, add me  !!


9 AM : I rode my bike to work for the first time EVER and seriously about killed myself.  I will admit I am much more of a "cruiser" when it comes to biking.  You know, a stroll along the lake to enjoy the weather and the sights.  I am not a "biker" and with all of my health problems, I am horribly out of shape.  By the time I got to the office, I felt like I was going to pass out ... lots of water and slowly walking around the office to catch my breath again.  Ridiculously sad shape, I tell you!!!


10 AM :  That's my Townie among the other bikes in the office - for some strange cosmic reason, everyone decided to ride their bike today.  And as funny as that was - my boss forgot about a meeting he had mid day and had to ride his bike there.  Good thing his is the carbon fiber job in the foreground and he is the next Lance Armstrong.  If that had been me, I would have called a cab!!!


11 AM :  Picking colors for a new project that I am working on.  Something only a designer can appreciate.  : )


12 : It was simply the perfect day outside today - mid 70's, no humidity, a few puffy clouds.  I attempted to have lunch on the deck, but was attacked by all sorts of bug life - first a wasp then some horse fly the size of Texas and the final straw, a cicada!!  Back inside... 


1 PM : CPK leftovers for lunch ... not great, but it was something. 


2 PM : Loving my new Puma's I picked up while in San Francisco.  These are seriously the most comfortable fashion sneaker I've ever had.  They are light as a feather, but actually have some padding on the bottom.  Oh and super breathable too!  { love }


3 PM : Got a sample vinyl message that will be put on a mirror at a client office - they have some sloppy people ... apparently we do to!  drip.  drip. 


4 PM : This fraction to decimal chart is my lifesaver!  I've had it for 16 years and use it almost daily.  You'd think I would have committed this to memory by now ... but sadly no.  


5 PM : (well more like 5:45ish) I hit the road home and took the long route via the lake.  Terrible view huh?  That's the city of Chicago there in the distance.  The winds were from the east over the lake so we were getting lots of splashes along the rocks.  Pretty to look at and listen to.  


6 PM : Lingered long enough to creep into the next hour so thought I'd take a selfie to say hello!  I shot all square format with my new Leica D-Lux 5 - it's a dream of a little camera!  Hope you had a super day!  I'm now off to see all of your 10 on 10 sets!!  

ten on ten button

Hawaii book

[vimeo w=500&h=283]

Took a quick video of the book I made from my February trip to Hawaii. Made the book via Photobooks - a groupon I had purchased. I think the quality of the paper is nice (matte!), the print quality of the photos is just as good as any of the other photo books I've made (My Publisher, iPhoto, Blurb) and you can't even tell the iPhone photos from the DSLR photos!

The software was actually one of the easier ones that I've tried and lots of template options. Oh and it's fully customizable - you can change the shape of any photo box, place text anywhere and use your own fonts!

I am pretty happy with how it turned out, I took a risk with the cover and chose indigo silk with photo inset. Don't love that at all. The silk is OK, but the photo inset is glued down on top of the silk and looks crappy. I would rather have a hole through the cover to the front page, or the photo should be properly inset. And for some reason the dust cover pages are a little wrinkly ... not sure why. I give it a B+ overall.

I Leica


Is it just me, or do you also find that your hobbies just suck all of your extra income? When I got into photography, I thought I could just go take pictures, that's free now that everything is digital. Well, I did that, but as I got more into it I realized that better equipment would allow me to do more with the craft. I've been shooting with the Canon 40D for about two years and have been very happy with it, but lust for a full frame sensor so that I can do better with less light. So I've been stashing a few bucks aside for an upgrade.

That is until my point & shoot (Canon s90) got a crack in the lens. I have no idea how it happened - I've never dropped it and keep it in a case, I just don't know. But it's dead center on the lens, and while I seem to be able to compensate for the problem spot if I had it off to someone else for a photo forget it. Sadly it's only a little over a year old - just out of warrantee of course!  So rather than getting that full frame DSLR, I had to shift my focus to a new p&s.

I landed on the Leica D-LUX 5. It's some serious fire power in a designer package. It might just be the perfect camera for me! Since I only shoot RAW format and post process via Lightroom and Photoshop, I needed something that would give me as close to DSLR results as possible. In reading up, the Leica digital family seems like it's the perfect fit. It arrived just in time for the holiday weekend, so I've been out shooting like mad.

Snapped a few self portraits - very happy with the results! Went and walked around Architectural Artifacts, 8000 square feet of architectural salvage. Holy shit is that place amazing! Some seriously old and really amazing stuff. It was a dream to wander and photograph - even while sweating (90+ inside the warehouse!). Way more photos to post from this place, but I'll give you a little teaser - loads of old sign parts and letters, mannequins and medical equipment that makes you go 'hmmmm.'