2015 was so fun! I can only hope this year is just as good as the last.
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So, I went to Chicago for two weeks. Now I'm back. That city is something, alright. Along with working 736 hours in the 2 weeks I was there, I did manage to sneak away for some time in the city. It was pretty cool. I saw a lot of neat stuff. Like this beautiful view of the Chicago River. I would have loved to have been on one of those boats that day!
I also so a lot of people with selfie sticks, but I refuse to post photos of them because they are dumb. You'll have to settle for these pics instead.
All in all, I did a lot of work while there, but also got to have a few new experiences, meet some new people and see some cool things. Including a bird eating eggs off of my breakfast plate. And mobs of screaming girls. And the most beautiful bowl I've ever laid eyes on, in which I brought back to Cincinnati with me...where we both belong.
California. So, so beautiful. I was there last week for another work related event. There wasn't much time for dilly dallying or site seeing on this trip, and what I did see was enough to keep me wanting more. Another trip there, one day, for sure.
One of my favorite parts of being in California was walking through courtyards. Sometimes I felt like I was back in San Juan. More than once, I caught myself closing my eyes...imagining walking her streets again. Flowers and other beautiful plants, everywhere. Gorgeous tile and other architectural details...Spanish Colonial homes.
The photo below was taken at The Fairmont in Sonoma, a super swanky spa/resort where a majority of the event we were working was held. Lots of fountains, trees, flowers.
One thing that surprised me was the amount of green in that part of California. I guess I expected less with the drought that's been going on there. So this is what Napa Valley looks like. Huge rolling hills lined with rows of grape vines and green, green grass. I feel like I've been to a lot of different cities/places and I can honestly never seen anything like it before. We drove Sonoma for a second part of the event - the gala/awards session. It was held at the Artesa Winery, which was a super modern take on the typical, classic winery. There were sculptures and infinity pools.
These photos were taken inside Artesa. When we first got there, the space allotted for the remainder of the event was nothing more than an empty room in the basement with a bunch of barrels all around. Everyone was running around...tech people setting up their gear, winery and hotel staff setting tables and hanging lights. I couldn't help but think of an ant farm as everyone was scurrying around. After the whole crew finished, it looked like this! It amazes me how everything comes together to create something like this.
On our last night in Sonoma, I hit up a local dive bar where I shared a few drinks, laughs and (weird?) experiences with my coworkers. A fight broke out between 2 random drunk guys. One of us was offered recreational drugs in the bathroom. Another was thought to be/look like Anthony Bourdain. All of this stuff felt like something out of a movie. Insane.
But to conclude, being a part of these events/shows really feels like something special. There's something cool about being down in the trenches with your team and then coming out on top...pulling through and delivering a unique experience for the client and for their guests. All in all, it was a great show for a great client, and I decided to celebrate with a Pear Cider. :) An awesome end to an awesome show in an awesome part of the country. Cheers, California. I'll be seeing you again here soon.
I'm back from New Orleans. What a crazy, great city that place is. Seriously. Although I was only there for 2 full days, I managed to see some pretty cool things. There are definitely a few places I'll have to hit up the next time around.
Since Mardi Gras is next week (Tuesday), I was in town at just the right time to see some super sweet parades. Let me preface this experience by saying that I've been to a few parades before and let me tell you, they don't compare to the ones you'll see down there in NOLA. Oh my gosh - pure craziness! Tons of people crowd around the streets, screaming for beads and other trinkets that people on the floats are throwing into the crowds. I didn't know what was going on at first but after all of the hype, I started screaming too! In fact, I did enough screaming and waving to land myself at least 20 strands of beads, some tokens, a stuffed animal and a little bouncy ball. It was awesome. I will never, however, wear flip flops to another parade like that again. That was super stupid.
Before hitting up NOMA, I stopped off at Park City and ate my grocery store lunch. It was gorgeous and the weather was absolutely perfect that day. Not a cloud in the sky and it felt like it was about 80 degrees in the sun. I sat there in the grass for nearly 2 hours...eating, drawing, and soaking up the sun. It was amazing. We are in the dead of winter right now in Cincinnati and so the experience, I think, was that much sweeter. Here is a sketch of a Dueling Oak tree; they're everywhere in Park City. I think they're also called Live Oaks, too.
And of course, the French Quarter. You can't go to New Orleans without spending at least 1 day there, right?! It was there that I saw the original Cafe Du Monde! This place is famously known for it's beignets and chicory infused coffee. Yum! I didn't get a photo of the original one but here is a picture I took of another location in Metairie, a town just outside of New Orleans.
Here are some photos I took of some buildings and other sites in the French Quarter on my last day there!
I actually forgot to go check out the inside of the St. Louis Cathedral...so I only got a few captures of the outside! Woops! It sure was pretty from the outside, though. There were lots of people there at Jackson Square, just lounging around and hanging out. Street performers, musicians, other tourists and pick pocketers too, I'm sure! I made sure to use my favorite Victorinox Swiss Army day pack. It has a special pocket on the strap that lays across the front of my body and that's where I store my moneys. I never go on a trip without it!
After doing some site seeing in New Orleans, I flew over to Dallas for an extra long layover that was spent visiting with my in-laws and nieces and nephews. I was only there for a day but was happy to see everyone. I got to go to some estate sales with my Mother-in-law and afterwards, we ate some delicious Lebanese food (first time ever)! After that, I watched my first sports game in over 10 years. It was a full day!
Today, I'm happy to be back in Cincinnati despite the freezing weather! It was a fun but exhausting trip...they always are. Ha!
Enjoy your Sunday, everyone.
I finished another book about a week ago, titled The Miniaturist! It was a great historical fiction story that took place in Amsterdam in the 1600's. I'm terrible at describing the books I read, so you can read the synopsis here.
This book left me thinking of the beautiful historical architecture and buildings, shops and homes that my Husband, Fred, and I saw on our honeymoon trip to Amsterdam almost 3 years ago. I remember thinking I had never seen buildings and detail like that before. Amazing.
I've just started reading All the Light We Cannot See for a book club that I recently joined. I'm interested to see what kind of sketch comes out of me for that one...
I just got back from a work trip to Salt Lake City...woah! What a gorgeous place to visit! So many beautiful sites to see, people are so friendly, it's clean, and it's surrounded by gorgeous mountains.
Although I was there for work, I decided to stay a couple extra days to site see. When traveling, the best way to get to know a city is to just start walking, so that's what I did. Twice. It was great to talk with some of the locals and learn about some of the city's history. Here are some of my favorite iphone captures of the trip. I also took some shots with an SLR but will post have to post them later!
Although I did do most of my exploring by foot, I did end up renting a car for a day so that I could get closer to the mountains. I am so glad that I did this because it ended up being my most favorite part of the trip. It was about a 40 minute drive one way so I started the day by off by packing some snacks and treating myself to a latte on the way there.
I checked out the Wasatch National Forest online a few days before deciding to actually go there and when I finally reached my destination, I was not disappointed. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been. It's fun to look at pictures but honestly, there's nothing like actually being there and seeing it in person. The air was so crisp and there was a level of quiet you could never experience while living in the city.
While there, I pulled off to the side of the road and walking out on flat land for about half a mile. I found a decent looking rock to sit on and started to do some watercolor sketching. Not too long after I sat down, though, I started to feel raindrops. The thing about being in a forest full of mountains is that when bad weather comes, you can't see it until it's pretty much right on top of you. So I packed all my stuff up real quick and ran back to the car! I didn't get to finish my sketch, but that's ok.
Here are a few shots from the forest!
So yeah...that's Salt Lake City. If you ever get the chance to go there, do. :)
You may have seen in a couple recent posts of mine that I've been trying my hand at (real, not digital) watercolors here lately. I even tried to illustrate my pup, Lulu. Didn't really look like her but eh, whatevs. :)
Here are a few more I've added to the ole sketchbook...just playing around and practicing. Maybe one day when I get good enough, I'll do a really (purposefully) nice piece. The sketch above is of a drawing I did of a building downtown a couple months ago. I just recently added the color, though. I think it's an apartment building about 1.5 blocks away from my office. The one below is supposed to be the Carew tower, also downtown. The very last one is sketched after a photo I found on the internets. I love dated motel signs. So fun.
I've been giving (real) watercolors a go here lately. In the past, I've done some digital watercolor illustrations before but never the real deal. If you have never tried using real watercolors to paint before, let me tell you that THEY ARE REALLY FRICKEN HARD (to get the hang of). I think the trick is in the layering. I tend to want to apply too much pigment at once instead of taking the time to layer on the colors to get more dimension. I guess I can't be too surprised by that, though. I'm a graphic designer so normally when I do something, it's just done. Watercolor...not so much.
Below is attempt #1. As you can see, I got a bit impatient here and there but overall, I don't think it's too bad for a first time. I worked from a photo I found on Pinterest. I can't remember where the location was, though, and I didn't pin the picture (doh!). All I know is that it's a place where gorgeous tree covered rocks shoot out of green blue water...and I want to go there.
This is attempt #3. [#2 was so bad that I couldn't bring myself to show it.] When I was a little girl growing up, I remember being able to hear the trains from my bedroom window. In the summer, I would sleep with my head at the foot of the bed to be closer to the window. That way, I could hear them better. Now, as an adult in a new home, I can still hear the trains from my bedroom window, and I'm so very glad. Recently, I spent a good portion of a rainy day in bed reading and relaxed while listening to the trains. It was such a good feeling. That's when I decided I needed to paint a train! I worked from an image also found on Pinterest. Original found here.