A photography assignment you should do

I’ve been taking a photography class for the last several weeks, and I have learned a lot. I highly, highly recommend you take a photography class if you have a DSLR and want to actually learn how to do it.

Before I took the class I played with my DSLR for about 3 years. I even thought I was pretty good at taking photos! I could shoot in manual, kind of, and I truly thought I had a decent eye for what makes a good shot. Plus, I even taught myself how to use Lightroom to do basic edits.

A photography exercise that will help you take better pictures of people

However, taking a Photo 1 class humbled me. My main takeaway was that I had no idea what I was doing before the class. The thing that helped me the most in the class was having a certain assignment to work on. We had several including showing motion, depth of field, taking pictures of public art to work on different angles, etc.

We had one assignment in class that I thought was particularly helpful: We were instructed to team up with a classmate and take 48 pictures of each other – so I got practice as a photographer and as a subject. I thought it was a great experience!

Photography AssignmentThe main goal of the assignment was to figure out how to get the subject to look natural and to take interesting shots that says something about them as a person. It was also interesting to look at the photos after the assignment to determine which pictures were my favorite (as the photographer) vs which photos the subject (my partner) thought looked most like him. My classmates had to describe the mood of each picture in one word – so we were able to see if the mood we wanted was actually captured.

Not only was the shooting a lot of fun, but the critiquing was also really interesting and helpful.

Photography Assignment

I highly recommend doing this if you ever get the chance. I take tons of pictures of Clara (although lately I haven’t been taking as many as I used to with my ‘nice’ camera… I should really get on that!) but it’s different to work with a person who actually understands directions and who doesn’t necessarily love being in front of the camera. Shooting an adult, I believe, is actually more challenging!

I think this assignment will  allow me to take better photos of family and friends in the future, and I really benefited from completing it.

So go find someone and take lots of pictures of them at one time and see what you learn about you as a photographer and about them as a subject! (And then switch off, if they want the practice, too.) I think I might make Tim do this exercise so he can better see what makes a ‘good’ picture of a person. Make sure you ask the person which picture they like, and see if you both choose the same one.

Happy shooting!


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My new goal: Buy used

It’s no secret that I tend to lean more towards the ‘minimalist-wannabe’ end of the consumerism spectrum. I can’t say that I’m a true minimalist in every sense of the word, but I do try to consciously live without things I don’t deem necessary.

Randolph Street Market in Chicago

Take baby things for example, my registry was embarrassingly small because I just don’t believe anyone needs that much stuff for a baby. If I was going to do it again, my registry would be even smaller.

But unfortunately, my closet has always gotten the best of me. It’s not that I buy the newest and most trendiest articles of clothing – it’s that I tend to buy the same style of clothing over and over again because I love it each and every time I see it.

It doesn’t make sense – I know.

Seriously, anything that is navy and white striped I must own, check out my Instagram for confirmation of this.

Anyway, I went to the Randolph Street (Antique) Market this past weekend, and I had such a great time looking at all of the vintage clothing/jewelry/furniture/home goods/ etc. While I was browsing through the various displays I came up with a goal I want to try for the next 12 months: Buy only used clothing. 

Randolph Street Market in Chicago

I was invited to the media breakfast, which took place before the market opened. Do you know what makes shopping for vintage things even more fun? Caffeine & champagne.

Randolph Street Market in ChicagoRandolph Street Market in Chicago

Starting today I’m not going to be buying any ‘new’ clothes, but I will still be shopping, it will just be at resale/consignment stores and possibly from friend’s closets. Yep, if I want to buy ‘new’ clothes, I’ll actually buy used items.

This won’t necessarily save me money – because the second hand consignment stores I shop at are still pretty pricey – but I will be getting higher quality articles of clothing for Target-like prices.
andolph Street Market in Chicago

Here are a few other outcomes that I’m hoping to achieve with this goal:

  • Owning a greater variety of brands in my closet (since resale shops have a great mix of brands)
  • Wearing different styles of clothing than I would normally wear
  • Spending less time shopping, especially online
  • Cutting down on the amount of clothing I buy/own – and hopefully being able to sell/donate some of my own clothing to others
  • Being more creative with what I already own

Randolph Street Market in Chicago

I have no idea if this is going to be do-able or not, but I’m excited to try! Of course, I reserve the right to make an exception here or there, but I really think I can easily go the entire year without needing to ‘cheat’. There are so many awesome resale stores in Chicago, and I can’t wait to find some good deals!

Have you ever done a shopping challenge similar to this? Do you have any tips!?


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Date night made possible by UrbanSitter!

I love date nights.

I can’t say it enough – they’re vital to my sanity and my marriage.

In fact, Tim and I think they’re so important that we go on at least one date night each week. Thankfully, my mother-in-law comes over once a week to watch Clara for us, so even during our busy weeks we have no excuse not to make some time for ourselves.

Date night made possible by UrbanSitter

This week got a bit chaotic and on our ‘normal’ date night, Tim and I actually did separate things (whomp whomp), but we still wanted some ‘us time’ so we decided to hire our first non-family babysitter and go out for a proper date night later in the week!

Tim and I used UrbanSitter to find and schedule a babysitter for Clara. Our family members asked us if we were nervous about leaving our child with a stranger from the internet – but I think they must have forgotten that Tim and I met online! So no, we were not at all concerned.

First I created an UrbanSitter profile, which I linked to my Facebook account. This allowed me to see which babysitters my Facebook friends have already used. I love this! Also, I could select which networks I’m a part of in Chicago (a lot of parenting groups and schools were listed) so I could also see the babysitters that are popular with the families in those groups.

Then, I put in the date and time that I needed a sitter, and all of the available sitters appeared with the rates they charge per hour.  After a quick search, I scheduled an ‘interview’ with a sitter whose background and video I liked, and after a few minutes of conversation, I scheduled her to watch Clara for the next day!

At the agreed upon time, the babysitter arrived and Tim and I went out for dinner (at Slurping Turtle) and a movie (Pitch Perfect 2) and it was so fun! I love an excuse to dress up and drink cocktails and not worrying about whether Clara is throwing everything on the floor of a fancy restaurant. It was the perfect night out.

Slurping Turtle in Chicago

Fried Brussels Sprouts at Slurping Turtle in Chicago

Then when we got home, our babysitter (Kara) and I both confirmed via the UrbanSitter mobile app that she babysat for us, and I confirmed I wanted to pay by credit card (which was already in the system) and just like that, the transaction was complete and Kara was on her way home! I loved not needing to fumble around with cash and exact change and all of that nonsense at the end of the night.

I would 1000% use UrbanSitter again. In a heartbeat. It costs $15 per month to use the service (get your first month free with the promo code ‘FORFREETRIAL’) but it is so worth it. I really, really appreciated the having the ability to easily find a last minute sitter for Clara so that Tim and I could get out and spend some quality time together. Thankfully, we don’t need babysitters often, but when we do, it’s nice to have this option.

Date night made possible by UrbanSitter

There is nothing I appreciate more than time out with other adults – especially my husband! Also, there’s nothing sweeter than coming home from a date to a smiling (or better yet, a sleeping!) baby.

If you’re a parent, do you regularly get out for date nights?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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What I read from around the web.

I’m suffering from a vacation hangover this week. You know… so much to do to catch up on ‘real life’ but a complete reluctance to do it because vacation is much more fun! We returned from St. Louis on Tuesday and the rest of the week went by in a blur! I can’t even believe it’s already the weekend – but I’m certainly not complaining.

What I read from around the web

This Week In Photos:

  • I was so excited to see what this month’s Happy Mail package would contain, and it didn’t disappoint! I can’t wait to send these adorable cards this month.
  • Clara’s hair is a bit out of control. We seriously need to brush it every day, and she’s only 10 months old! It’s still looking very mullet-like, so there’s no hope of a ponytail yet.
  • I absolutely loved being able to spend time with my best friend (and her family) in St. Louis over the weekend!
  • In St. Louis I enjoyed brunch with two of my best gal pals at Russell’s. I ordered the baked oatmeal and they served it with coconut cream and it was delicious.

Worth Reading:

// “Let’s live lives that focus on the right things and the right people. Let’s choose to focus our pursuits on the right ‘likes’—those that come from the people we love the most.” (here)

// “This is like a juice cleanse, but for your horrible, technology-addicted brain that compels you to open an app every time you start to feel feelings. ‘Oh I just won’t look at my phone all weekend,’ the hell you won’t look at your phone. You’re probably looking at your phone right now. You dreamed about looking at your phone last night.
And when you gazed into that abyss, the abyss also gazed back into you.” (here)

// Can you solve this logic puzzle?: “Wason tells you that if a card shows an even number on one face, then its opposite face is blue. Which cards must you turn over in order to test the truth of his proposition, without turning over any unnecessary cards?” (here)

// “The average American consumes more than 300 gallons of California water each week by eating food that was produced there.” (here)

// “Right now you can purchase someone’s Instagram photo for around $100,000. The money won’t go to the photographer, however, it will go to ‘artist’ Richard Prince, who has blown up and made prints of other people’s Instagram photos for his series titled ‘New Portraits.'” (here)

I hope you’re having a wonderful start to your Memorial Day weekend!


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I definitely do not receive a ‘wife bonus’.

I read this article in the New York Times, and couldn’t really stop thinking about it, so of course that means I need to blog about it.

In case you don’t want to read the entire article (although I think you should, because it’s pretty interesting), the writer of the article says that she lives on the Upper East Side in New York City and she says that she was shocked to find out that some of the stay-at-home moms there receive a ‘wife bonus’ (of sorts) from their husbands. Evidently this bonus is based on how much the husband earned during the year and also how well the wife ‘performed’ during the year. This writer/anthropologist goes on to discuss how the wives/mothers in this scenario are culturally disempowered and dependent.

Being a stay at home mom myself (for now, at least), makes me defensive about the importance I have in the world and even in my family. Although I do not earn an income right now doesn’t mean I’m powerless in my marriage. I do not get an allowance and I do not get a bonus from my husband. Instead, I have access to joint bank accounts and make financial decisions together with Tim. Neither of us has financial power over the other person and I don’t think I’m less important because I don’t receive a consistent paycheck. My work (in the home) is valuable, too.

Have you heard of a 'wife bonus'?

I don’t understand how anyone thrives in a marriage in which the power isn’t equal in every aspect, including financially. And if the power is equal in marriage, how would it not be in society as a whole? If we support one another to excel in the areas of life we’re responsible for, everything can work efficiently and effectively. Of course, I know this is a ‘perfect’ scenario and life is far from perfect, but I don’t think that necessarily means we need to give up on the ideal.

As his wife, I plan on supporting Tim as much as I can in life – including in his career. Right now, me staying at home is the best solution for our family. If Tim wants me to go back to work and it proves to be what is best for my family, I’m willing to do that, too. I am fully confident that Tim also intends to support me however he can.

Although the author of the article may think otherwise, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I give away my skills (that I paid a university a lot of money to teach me) or that I sometimes prefer to socialize with wives and mothers away from our husbands. I realize that I’m dependent on my husband financially, but he is dependent on me as his wife and the mother of his child. We are both irreplaceable in our respective roles.

Or actually, maybe some of these things do disempower me and I just don’t care as much as I should. There are better things in life than being powerful, right? We are all uniquely made by God with different gifts and I am happy to use mine to the best of my ability, even if it does not necessarily make me the most ‘powerful’ member of society.

I absolutely believe in equality, make no mistake about it. I believe in equality in marriage and in the workplace and in society as a whole. I believe we should do as much as we can to empower each other to be the best in our positions, no matter what those may be.

So no, I do not receive a ‘wife bonus’. I would never have married a man who thought it was appropriate to withhold money from me, making a ‘bonus’ an option, and I hope to raise Clara to not accept that sort of marriage inequality, either. But I won’t look down on her if she decides to stay at home, as I know that stay at home moms are important and powerful forces who shape minds and families and who also support men to be the best that they can be. I hope and pray that she picks a husband who, like her dad, cherishes his wife to be the best in everything that she does, too.

Have you read the article? What are your thoughts on it?


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