Review: Capture Your Life

When I was asked by Cole of Peace and Chaos to provide an honest review of her new ebook, Capture Your Life, I decided to go for it! Lately, I have been thinking about expanding my photographic horizons, so the timing was perfect. This post was meant to go up last week, but life got in the way. The good news is... that means the ebook is already available as of a few hours ago - no wait!

Since Capture Your Life is all about general photography concepts/tips and how to incorporate them into your life, rather than technical info on how to use cameras, it worked out nicely for me. I'm an amateur photographer with no particular interest in learning the nitty gritty of how to capture the best photos ever - I just wanted to have fun with it and try something new.


Outfit: Rose Gold Dancer

After a few weeks of radio silence... I'm back! Most of that time was spent nursing various colds that refused to leave me, so by the end of it, I was more than ready to dress up and get out of the house. Tal and I headed to a cafe for brunch, then walked around for a few hours.

It's no secret that Guess is one of my all-time favorite brands. When the stunning dancer dress came out, it immediately joined my covet list. Months later, I had Guess rewards to use up and spotted it on super sale. At just $15 ($50 - $35 of Guess rewards money), it was irresistible! Rose gold is one of my current obsessions and this dress was the perfect starting point for a dreamy outfit. After putting the outfit together, I realized that unintentionally, almost everything was from Guess. Heh. Per my customary practice when leaving the house in heels, I brought along a pair of Tieks to switch to for our walk.

Dress, Coat, Heels, & Purse: Guess | Shells Purse Bling: Coach | Flats: Tieks | Bow Necklace: Betsey Johnson | Bow Ring: Kate Spade | Dream Ring: Ariella Studio Collection via Hautelook


3-Month Update/Review: Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge Projects!

As promised, here's my update on the two projects I did around three months ago using Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge! It's a relatively new product and I had a hard time finding reviews about its effectiveness, so I thought I'd share my experience.

I do want to note that I didn't actually put either project in the dishwasher, due to the nature of the projects (coasters, wood cutting boards). However, both frequently encounter liquids.

    Spice Up Your Cutting Boards DIY Project by Kels Shark     The Sweet Life DIY Coaster Project by Kels Shark

Cutting Boards
As you might recall, I applied a coat of DSMP over the paint on the board edges. The painted edges still look like they did when I first finished the project. I use these on a daily basis, always washing them after use with water, dish soap, and the soft side of a sponge. Water just rolls right off the edges. No issues!

Coaster Set
I was more nervous about this project because of the papers beneath the DSMP layer. However, they have held up well also! We also use these daily. I did notice that if I put a really hot drink down (i.e. a cup of tea while it's still steeping, so near boiling temperature), the bottom of the mug sometimes sticks slightly to the coaster surface. I just carefully extricate the cup when I notice this and haven't had any problems with permanent damage. Occasionally, rings of liquid end up forming on the surface - one had a coffee ring (looked like a stain) on it. However, even weeks later, I was able to just wipe it off with a damp cloth and there's no hint of the stain remaining.

The verdict? DSMP held up very nicely in both cases! I would definitely recommend it for these projects and any similar ones.


Crazy Kawaii or Die Nails

Over the years, I've accumulated quite the nail polish collection. More recently, I've added some of the items from my nail enthusiast gift guide to the mix. :) Despite my love of nail polish, I rarely take the time to actually use it. This year, that's going to change! As part of my organizing goal for 2015, I've scheduled at-home manicures for Wednesday nights (while Tal has his guilt-free game night). It's free (no additional cost) and every time I look at my painted nails, I smile. So... you can expect to see more nail looks on the blog here - I've even added a new "nails" button the sidebar. As an added bonus, hopefully I'll get better at painting my nails in the process!

This particular look was completely centered around the gorgeous "Kawaii or Die" glitter coat polish by Baroness X. I wanted it to be the focus, but also enjoy painting my nails different colors. So I selected colors that matched some of the glitter chunks and also had a chance to try out both my new nail stencils and new Baroness X "Mermaid Madness" polish!


10 Dates Under $10 | Date Ideas

Quitting my corporate job last year to start my own business was one of the best things I've ever done for my personal happiness. It wasn't, however, particularly helpful for our finances. :) As such, Tal and I have learned to be more conscious of our spending habits. I thought it would be fun to continue the Date Ideas series with these fun and inexpensive ideas for dates on a budget!

1. Gourmet Popcorn + Movie: Make or buy a bag of gourmet popcorn, then cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie on Netflix or Hulu.

2. Valentine's Cards: Pick up some paper crafting supplies and make each other cute valentine's cards. Write in the cheesiest love poems you can think up. Make sure you can't see each other's cards until you exchange them at the very end!

3. Backyard Picnic: Cook your favorite warm dish together and then bring it out for a picnic in the backyard.

4. Hike + Junk Food: Stop by and pick up each of your favorite junk foods. Bring them with you on a hike and when you reach the top (or a nice spot), sit down and indulge together.

5. Surprise Gifts + Guesses: Head to a local outdoor shopping village (one that's pretty to walk around). Split up to purchase tiny gifts for each other and then hide them somewhere on your person. Meet up at a designated spot, then walk around together and try to guess where the other person got your gift and what they got. Have your top three guesses ready for the big reveal at the end where you exchange your gifts and see who guessed right!

6. Monster Figurines: Get a few colors of polymer clay and a bag of googly eyes at a local craft store and make silly figures or monsters together. Bake them in the oven for a cute little date keepsake.

7. Drink/Snack + Walk: Pick up froyo or hot chocolate at a local shop. Chat and walk around the surrounding area. Tal and I did this just the other day! We got froyo and window shopped at the local University Village.

8. Dream Vacation Planning: Buy a pretty notebook and use it to start planning your dream vacation together. You can print and paste pictures in, note the best times of year for your favorite spots, write in any events you'd love to attend, etc. Even if you can't afford it anytime soon or never end up going, it'll be fun to discover each others' travel dreams.

9. Evening Doughnuts: Go out for doughnuts in the evening!

10. Photobooth: Gather silly items! Scour your house, ask friends for silly party goodies they don't want, check the discount/out-of-season section at a local party store, visit a thrift shop, or make your own from craft supplies and things you find lying around the house. You can even borrow big frames from your photos or make and paint cardboard masks. Find a good spot (blank wall, good lighting) and use your phone to take tons of funny photobooth pics - either manually or via the Party Party app ($0.99). Print your faves and hang them up on the fridge/wall!

Sorry for the fuzzy photo! I don't usually bring my camera out so it was taken with my iPhone. What are your favorite inexpensive dates? I'd love to hear your ideas! :)

*Date Ideas is a series where I share cute, simple suggestions for dates. Since I live in Seattle, you'll most likely see Greater Seattle locations, but with a simple online search, they should be easy to recreate in most areas! If you have any cool date ideas you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about them!


Book Review | The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

From the book description (Goodreads page):
Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world's most successful music Kickstarter.

Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn't alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING.

Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.


Outfit: Zombie Bat

Quick shop news: I'm participating in Twinkie Chan's giveaway this month, so head over to her blog for a chance to win $40 to my shop! From now through the end of January, I'm also offering 20% off any order (biggest discount ever) with the coupon code "EARLYVALENTINES20"!

Honestly, this outfit was born out of my desire to wear two of my Christmas presents from Tal immediately. Heh. The composition is a little wild for my usual style, but it was so much fun! These were taken a few weeks ago, when I still had my peppermint holiday nails.

Yes, those are detachable bat wings on the hoodie. Thank you, Skelanimals, for adding a little bit of awesome to my life. :) The leggings are by talented artist Jen of No Flutter, whose work I've been goggling at on Facebook for a little while now.


"Family Portrait" Sketches by Tal

I thought it would be fun to share the drawings Tal did for our first (2013) and second (2014) annual holiday cards! Since we were so late in getting it all compiled, we ended up calling the 2014 card a "Christmas & New Year Card" and sending it out after New Year anyway (ran out of blank cards, envelopes, and stamps... oops). We'll work on promptness this December! :)

For last year's card, Tal drew me holding my fave plush, a whale shark he got me for my birthday that year. Tal is holding his son. If you're confused by hearing about Tal's son for the first time, I should note that I don't usually write about him here out of respect for Tal's privacy wishes, but we're lucky that we get to see him on a regular basis. He, of course, is an important part of our card. :) We didn't have Illustrator until last year, so Tal drew his sketch using the Sketchbook Pro app on his tablet.

For this year's card, Tal drew us all dressed up to indicate something new in our lives this year. I'm a unicorn because now that I work from home, I can wear whatever I want to work (and he actually bought me a unicorn kigurumi for Christmas)! Tal is a zombie because he started working as a game data analyst for a gaming company this year. His son is a stormtrooper because he's now obsessed with Star Wars - we took him trick or treating in his Captain Rex costume for Halloween. :) Tal used Illustrator this time around - he's playing around with it and learning Illustrator bit by bit in his free time.

Isn't Tal talented? I love his cute, comic style art! I'm always encouraging him to start a comic blog... hehe.
Left: 2013 Family Portrait | Right: 2014 Family Portrait


Books & Favorite Books Read in 2014

I got the idea to post this 2014 book recap from Mandy of A Nerdy World (see her recap here). Apparently, I read 107 books last year! I will note that this includes a handful of unfinished books, a cookbook, a doll photography book, and some books that I reread. I also listened to some of my favorites multiple times throughout the year!

I wrote about a few favorites in September, so some of these I've written about already. Here are my favorites from my 2014 list! I know 11 is a weird number, but I just picked all of my faves and that's how it turned out. Short blurbs about each book down below the book collage. I included the narrator if I've listened to the audio version. :)

Favorite Books Read in 2014
1. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
2. Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson
3. Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson
4. Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
6. The Black Prism, by Brent Weeks
7. Barrayar, by Lois McMaster Bujold
8. Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay
9. Divergent, by Veronica Roth
10. Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
11. Inamorata, by Megan Chance


Peppermint Holiday Nails

I'm posting this pretty late, but I wanted to share the nails I did for the holidays! Remember the nail enthusiast gift guide I posted last month? Well, super sweet Kelly of Nail Mail (#8 in the gift guide) sent me an amazing package of nail decals to try out!

I'm kinda meh at doing nails, so you should definitely check out the site (website, etsy) for better pics of the decals' results. But this was my first time ever using nail stickers and I have to say, these were pretty easy to use! I just followed the instructions that came with the stickers and did all of it while watching Love Actually. :)

Base Coat: Seche Vite Crystal Clear Base Coat
White Polish: OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls
Red Polish: OPI I'm Really Not a Waitress
Top Coat: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
Stickers: c/o Nail Mail Reindeer (solo or pack), Tree (pack), Straight Lines

Can't wait to try more of the nail stickers! :)


Shopping Guide 3 | 2015 Planners & Organizers

Hey everyone! I took a little blog/biz break for the holidays - will write a bit more about what's going on in life soon. But for today, I want to say HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm a bit on and off about making resolutions. This year, I have just one: figure out an effective weekly work schedule/routine. Since becoming 100% the boss of my daily work decisions, life, and schedule last year, I've had a hard time figuring out how to best be productive, efficient, and consistent. Sooo... to accomplish this goal, I'm splurging on a pretty weekly planner. I used to use paper planners in college to keep track of everything and it helped a lot, so years later, I'm giving it another try. :)

Anyway, here are my planner picks for 2015! I'm getting the Papaya Art weekly planner (#2), which happens to be 50% off right now (!!). :)

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