12/31/2018

Looking Towards 2019


Happy New Year's Eve!  We round out another year in our lives and on this blog.  The year of 2018 was a lot of ups and downs.  I got my PhD, moved across state lines, rented an apartment of my own, and started working in Seattle.  I'm a long distance from family, friends I met from graduate school, and there's definitely a lot more to be considered on my plate.  However, I made a lot of new, wonderful friendships in Seattle, too, and came to more deeply appreciate the relationships I have.

As we look towards 2019, towards a new year on the horizon, I want to strive to be better.  Every year, I make resolutions, and like the rest of the world, I'm sort of "meh" about keeping them.  However, I was most successful in 2018 with my fitness resolution: I now work out 5 to 6X a week when I'm in town!  For this year, I want to hang on to that and make other improvements.  I think most people make similar ones each year, but new year, new me?

Here goes . . .

1.  Be more mindful.  I want to live more mindfully whether it comes to how I eat, how I speak, and how I spend my money.  Rather than GO. GO. GO., I want to slow down and think more before I do things, to be more cognizant of actions and effects, and to be present in every moment.  Less impulse, more meditation on decisions.

2.  Cultivate positivity.  I want to also focus on actionable ways to address the negatives in my life.  I may not be able to control situations, but I can choose how I respond to them.  I've started a Diary of Positivity in my new bullet journal for the year to document positive highlights from each day.  Cultivating means more than responding to negative situations.  I want to be more mindful and appreciate my blessings.

3.  Work smarter, not longer.  I want to be more efficient in my tasks and at work.  Longer hours don't necessarily correlate to greater productivity.  I want to improve on working better with the time I have available.

4.  Harness my creativity.  I want to photograph, draw, and blog more.  This means reaching out and pitching myself more for photoshoots or opening this space up more frequently to get into the habit of creating regularly.  Also, pick up my dusty guitar and play more.

5.  Read more, both academically and for leisure.  Self-explanatory.

6.  Be kinder.  To others and, most importantly, to myself.

Looking forward to a new year and creating on this space.  What are changes that you would like to make in 2019?

12/28/2018

The Girl In The Rain



Hello, friends!  Long time no speak.  My friend, W, looked at my blog and said, "Last post in September.  You better update."  Well, here I am!  My apologies for the long absence.  I haven't been feeling inspired or creative in the past few months.  Y'all know me.  I won't post if it feels forced or inauthentic.  One of my resolutions for the coming new year is to push myself to be more creative.  What better time to start than this year?  In November, I completed a total of four photoshoots in a two weeks span.  It's slowed down since, but here's one of the finished shoots!

My friend and I decided to spend Thanksgiving together and one of the activities we squeezed into the day was this photoshoot.  It went from drizzling to pouring pretty fast so we were trying to snap images as quickly as possible!  If only you guys could've seen what happened behind the scenes!  I had a sweatshirt thrown over my head and the camera with my umbrella dripping water down the back of my jeans.  If you look closely, you can see some of the raindrops captured in the photos.  



I kept the editing as natural as possible.  I love the light in the Pacific Northwest!  It's a little dark right now, but the light is always diffused.  Very different from the golden tones I caught in Los Angeles.  As usual, I only edited light, dark, shadows, and obstructions such as lampposts.  Facial features and bodies are NEVER altered in any way.  True and authentic representation, you know?



For those of you who have stuck around . . . let me know what you think in the comments! What is your personal philosophy on photoediting?  Are you for more natural or "glossy" editing?  

9/01/2018

Discovery Park

West Point Lighthouse, Discovery Park, Seattle, things to do in Seattle, Lumiére and Lens

As a scientist and lab rat, I don't really get out much.  Some of my labmates are good about exploring places on the weekend, but I've neither a car nor the fortitude to withstand the crippling motion sickness of traveling in one. No, I'm serious -- my motion sickness is pretty bad.  However, my partner recently visited and I was determined to do something different from zoo/aquarium/museums/city sights.  I've long heard about how amazing Discovery Park is so planned an afternoon outing for us there!

Discovery Park is situated on the western side of a Seattle and a public park with 534 acres of "wilderness."  I don't really consider it that wild, but it's as "wild" as you'll get in a city.  The park has about 12 miles of walking trails which are either paved of really well maintained.  If you're looking for a serious hiking experience, this is not the place, but the views are worth the trip.

One of the most famous sites is the West Point Lighthouse on the edge of Shilshore Bay at the park (see above!).  It's situated on a tiny tip of land and you get to it by walking along the beach.  You'll have seen some pictures I posted on Instagram of the mossy rocks on the beach, but the shores were lined with more rocks worn smooth by the water.  It's against the law to remove anything from the park, but I would've loved to have one of these in my home!  It had also been so long since I've been near a big body of water that it was incredibly soothing just to hear the crashing of waves and surf.

Discovery Park, Seattle, things to do in Seattle, Lumiére and Lens
Discovery Park, Seattle, things to do in Seattle, Lumiére and Lens

The beach was also lined with driftwood -- large, gray branches that decorated the sand -- that provided spots for one to sit and admire the waves.  I really wish this park was closer to where I lived because I could've sat out there forever.  I wish I'd had a model out with me because the visual setting was the stuff of photographic dreams.   Further down the beach was the South Bluff, or a tall rocky natural rock formation facing the water.  The short trail towards the bluff was lined with blackberry bushes.  Apparently, these are common all over the park. 

Discovery Park, Seattle, things to do in Seattle, Lumiére and Lens
Discovery Park, Seattle, things to do in Seattle, Lumiére and Lens
Discovery Park, Seattle, things to do in Seattle, Lumiére and Lens

We went on the walking trails to close out our visit of the park.  We didn't pick any one route, but rather, wandered and followed signs to go higher and higher in elevation.  Eventually, we found ourselves on top fo the bluff to be greeted with views of Shilshore Bay in Puget Sound (early post on Instagram).  The air was still smoky from all the fires in the area lately, but the sea breeze was refreshing.



And to end this post, a picture of yours truly, stepping through the driftwood to head back on to higher shores.  Exercise clothes, no makeup, and a belly full of lunch.  We ended up walking 12,000+ steps that day so it was a nice way to close out the weekend.

Have you been up to the Pacific Northwest?  What are some places you'd really want to visit?  Recommendations welcome!

8/19/2018

Sunday #71: Traces


Hello, friends!  First of all, I'm going to start this post off with an apology: I'm sorry I've been away for so long.  I keep saying I'll be back and blogging more, but time has flown by and before I knew it, two months have elapsed!  I've put most of my hobbies (including this blog) to the wayside in the past few months.  I know it's not quite balanced and something I need to work on.  A lot has happened in the past two months so I'll fill y'all in (if you're still even around this space).

NEARLY HALFWAY

I've lived in Seattle for nearly five months now.  I'm ashamed to say I haven't spent as much time exploring as I could have.  I'm familiar enough with the neighborhoods in Eastlake, South Lake Union, Downtown, and Capitol Hill, but could really do with venturing outside.  I've discovered a few local coffee shops I really such as Voxx, Armistice, and Caffe Ladro.  The photo above was taken at Armistice, where I set up shop both mornings this weekend.  There's no shortage of good specialty coffee shops and I'm aiming to visit as many as possible. 

There's a lot of cool things about living in Seattle.  Everyone says the summer is really nice though I'm not much a fan of heat.  However, with summer comes the South Lake Union Block Party which was closed out this year by one of my all time favorite bands, Built to Spill!  Back in LA, my partner and I would attend every show they played.  In Seattle, I saw this show alone.  I wished my partner could've been there, but it was still fun to go to a show alone, to dance, and sing to my heart's content.  I screamed when they closed with Carry The Zero.  Speaking of my partner . . . he's going to be visiting this weekend.  I'm going to aim for getting out and exploring more.  Maybe Discovery Park?

DIRTY THIRTY

In June, I turned thirty years old.  Yep, dirty thirty!  Ana flew out to surprise me for the occasion, followed by my partner the week after, and many calls/texts as well as time spent with friends.  I felt so loved and really helped ring in a birthday I was dreading.  Nat even sent me a whale ornament!  People definitely joke and call me old now, but I can definitely feel my age (in a good way).  They say that your thirties are some of your best years and I'm hoping that's true.  Certainly, I feel a clarity of mind and understanding of myself that I lacked in my twenties.  I don't stress as much of the small stuff and despite having hard days from time to time, I've shifted my mindset to always look on the bright side.  I think I have greater stressors, but I'm also more content in my lifestyle.  There are some less fun sides to thirty such as a slowing metabolism and gaining weight, but I'll get to that in a future post! 

CREATIVE OUTLETS

Something I've really neglected in the past few months has been doing creative things outside of science.  I don't draw, play guitar, or photograph much anymore.  It seems weird because creating is such an integral part of my existence.  I've been having a hard time finding models out here in Seattle.  On top of that, I'm so tired by the time I wrap up my day (the to-do list is endless) that I've been opting to vegetate with Netflix instead of productively relaxing!  The most "artistic" thing I do is my bullet journal which I've largely used for tracking rather than creating.  


In a bid to get the creative juices going, I've picked up this notebook from Anthropologie and just started doodling in it.  Whether it's lettering or composing shapes to fill a space, I want to get back into the habit of creating images.  I've reached out to models I've photographed to ask if I might use their faces as references for drawings!  

In the vein of being creative, I'm going to aim to be better at creating on this space, too.  I've embarked on changing my lifestyle so look forward to fitness and art posts!  Anyways, I'm off to clean my house because I'm just that exciting on the weekend.  Also to buy a new cord for charging my phone because I managed to snap the end off my current one.  

RECOMMENDATIONS

•  Kim's Convenience on Netflix.  Witty.  Funny.  Aware.  ASIAN REPRESENTATION.
•  White Mustang by Lana Del Rey.  So soothing.  So good.

If there's anything else you're interested in (if you still read here, that is), feel free to drop me a line in the comments!  What fun stuff have you gotten up to this summer?

6/17/2018

Sunday #70: Make Yourself At Home


Happy Sunday, folks!  How are things in your little corner of the world?  Over here in Seattle, it's a sunny, lazy Sunday afternoon.  It's been a long, busy week so I'm enjoying my clean home with some Lana Del Rey playing in the living room.  I typically make no plans on Saturday and spend it doing home stuff, which includes cleaning my house so I can thoroughly enjoy it on the Sunday.  Old lady over here!  


Speaking of home, here is the "gallery" wall of my living room.  The table has a "Make yourself at home" sign a diffuser, candles, and flowers from the farmer's market.  I finally bought a guitar stand as incentive to display my baby and get back into the habit of regular playing.  Since I bleed money into rent, I decided to get as many functions out of my apartment as possible.  The living room functions as my office, music studio, gallery, home gym, and a photo studio, as you'll see below! 

ONE TIME MODEL

My best friend Gina is an expert knitter and soon-to-be mom to both a little girl as well as a knitting business.  If you recall, she made me these beautiful hand-knit cat socks last year (pattern available here)!  She was in need of a photographer and model so asked if I would act as both for her new design.  You might've seen these already if you have Instagram, but I played one time model and wore her newest knit top!  I'm not used to being behind the camera, but I got a few shots that she liked.  I also did a flatlay photographs of the detailing above the hem in the back whilst accessorizing with fresh flowers from the farmer's market.  There you go.  The one and only modeling gig I'll ever have.

NEW ROOTS

I always feel like I do the same things every week and don't go anywhere so there's not much to update y'all on, but there were quite a few new activities this week.  I'm jumping on a new (to me) project in lab which requires additional training on animal models so I've been completing a course at the University of Washington, which has been incredibly interesting!  I work with a few people in lab so I try to get in earlier nowadays to maximize productivity.  I'm usually drained by the time I leave, but it's also fulfilling so I can't complain.  I'm enjoying working with my newer colleagues a lot as well.  I also had brunch with a neighbor for the first time; it's nice to make new friends in the neighborhood.  

In other news, I'm turning 30 this upcoming Saturday.  My partner will visit me the weekend after so I'm going to have a few people over on the actual day for a small low key dinner with cooking by yours truly.  I'm thinking homemade apple pie, orecchiette with meat sauce, and a salad.  I have a lot to get done these two weeks so I can thoroughly enjoy my weekends! 

RECOMMENDED

•  The new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.  I've been rewatching the show lately.  It's an incredibly witty, feminist show as well as a satirical take on modern times. 
•  Every Breath You Take on repeat.
•  Fade Into You also on repeat.  I just really like old music, ok?

6/09/2018

La princesa en el laberinto


Remember when I mentioned that I've had a 33% success rate in finding models in Seattle?  Here is Io, the 33%.  Turns out we'd been following each other on Instagram long before I moved here and I recognized her when I was out one day.  Of course, I asked her to model and one of the locations we at which we worked was Gas Works Park.  The park is host to a retired oil plant and now features green pastured hills with views of the Seattle skyline.  I was mostly drawn to the industrial backdrops which I think provides a nice juxtaposition of old:new and weathered:youth.

The first working backdrop was a set of stone arches which I used to frame the model.  As I was editing, I definitely got a feel of a princess in a labyrinth.  I'm trying to edit differently and get out of comfortable aesthetic habits.  I deliberately edited the first photograph in this post to be darker and more moody.  What are your thoughts?  Yay or nay?


We found some of the abandoned rigs and took photos there as well.  Like most people who grew up with it, I love America's Next Top Model and was always jealous of the cool backdrops on the show.  We got a lot more photos than are shown here, but I loved the old metal rigs!  My running joke was that everything in the park was pretty much walking tetanus. 


The last location at which we worked was by the water's edge.  The nice thing about Io is that she's game for anything and engages completely with her surroundings so she does things I wouldn't normally ask models to try.  Because of that, we got one of my favorite photos where she dangled over the water's edge!  Having a model who is so dynamic means I can focus most of my energy on framing and composition in place of directing.  For more, you can check out my photography Instagram, @alyseliangphoto, where I've posted additional images from this day in my feed. 

6/03/2018

Sunday #69: Honey, Honey

Saturday brunch: Wasa bread + brie + prosciutto, scrambled eggs, avocado, coffee.

Hello, June!  It's a new month and you know what that means?  I've submitted the final draft of my thesis so, pending final approval by the dean of my graduate institution (as well as arrival of my diploma), my Ph.D. is official.  You may call me Dr., but nobody does that.  Honestly, having those three letters after my name doesn't feel drastically different.  I never have to take another academic exam in my life so that's a new and strange feeling.  People keep telling me that I'm now living the postdoc life so it should be less stress!    

FRUGAL JUNE

They say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit so I want to dedicate June towards being more frugal with my money.  Now that I am officially out of school, my student loans are kicking in.  Living alone means paying more in rent and footing 100% of all utilities.  Living is expensive!  Your girl has a bad habit of eating out a lot so I'm making it my goal to cook almost all my meals at home this month.  I also need to eat more red meat so I'm cycling through making red sauce with meatballs or ground beef to eat over orecchiette or barley.  The Saturday brunch was what I had for breakfast both weekend days.  It was pretty yummy because I don't believe that eating at home should be boring.  I've finally purchased a coffee maker as well so I can stop bleeding money each morning.  The honey up there was a cheeky purchase from the farmer's market so maybe I can switch to black tea some mornings. 


FOUR DAYS

We had a four day work week though everyone in our lab went in to work on Memorial Day for some capacity.  I had a fairly eventful work week for four days.  For one, I'm troubleshooting things in lab which isn't fun, but necessary.  I was invited to enjoy a wonderful homemade meal (gimbap, salmon, pork with veggies, and rice!) with good company.  I am planning a menu to invite them over in turn.  


Having company also entails that I get some seating arrangement for my apartment which is pretty much completely set up now!  I only have one chair that I use with my desk so I need some dining chairs or floor cushions.  I'm sharing a photo of my living room which functions as an office and home gym.  I don't have a couch or TV, but that's not really necessary!  I can consume trash TV in my bedroom, sitting on my memory foam mattress, and with my laptop perched on top of a coffee table I acquired from my boss.  


Friday was National Donut Day and our lab had planned to get some donuts.  However, the morning donut trip was postponed by a police standoff in the middle of the city!  Probably against our better judgement, everyone in the building clustered around the office windows to watch.  There were policemen with guns and rifles aimed at an armed man in the middle of the street.  Thankfully, no one was hurt and the suspect was taken into custody.  We ended up getting our donuts after the streets were cleared for occupancy again.  I've never seen a rifle in real life and it was definitely one of the craziest things I've observed here because Seattle's been very calm so far.

I've spent most of my weekend catching up on sleep, cleaning my house, and doing massive amounts of laundry (clothing, towels, and sheets).  That probably sounds boring to a lot of you, but I'm a homebody and getting to be a hermit for two days taking Me Time is really my dream.  Now I'm upon the bittersweet hours of Sunday night when the weekend is almost over, writing this post whilst listening to 80s music.

Questions for the week:
1.  What recipes do you turn to for meal prep?
2.  What is your ideal weekend like?
3.  What is your favorite donut?

5/28/2018

Sunday #68: The Day After


This Sunday post is coming to you on a . . . Monday!  For my international readers, today is a federal holiday.  For me, it feels a bit like Sunday, but the culture of scientific academics is to work on all the holidays that fall on Monday.  I went to California to visit my partner this past weekend and flew back into Seattle today.  After resting, I finally made it into lab for a little bit.  I've also completed my weekly shop and meal prepped!  It's my goal this week to not eat out with the exception of my daily coffee. 

CALIFORNIA

I'm in a long distance relationship now so I only get to see my significant other once a month.  I returned to California on Friday and had a wonderful weekend.  For once, I traveled without my laptop because I wanted to thoroughly enjoy my time off as well as staying present the whole time.  It was nice to be back in the California sunshine and in more subdued heat.  Thankfully, we were farther north than Los Angeles so the heat wasn't as oppressive and dry as SoCal!  We saw Deadpool 2 which I definitely recommend and went to the zoo.  In line with staying present, I didn't pull out my camera very much, but I took a few snaps at the zoo that I'll share here.

LITERACY

Two people who inspire me to read more are Jane and Nat.  I won't pull the "I don't have time to read" BS.  Frankly, I spend my decompression time watching Netflix and YouTube videos, i.e., rotting my brain.  I purchased a Kindle earlier this year with the intention to read more.  I haven't signed up for an account at the Seattle public library yet so I don't have easy access to free books.  However, I discovered Project Gutenberg which has thousands of free books!  They're mostly classic literature.  I started War of the Worlds this weekend which has been pretty good.  I'm making myself finish the book before I watch the movie.  Any book recommendations?

IRON

Work has started to pick up considerably.  I'm working on a few projects that require a lot of literature work, new training, and new techniques.  It's important that I stay focused and keep up my energy, but I've been struggling this past week.  Last Sunday, I had a hypoglycemic episode and just felt poorly as well as nauseated on and off all week.  This really affected my work performance, ability to exercise, and my overall productivity. 

One thing I've noticed is my tendency to eat carbs and not enough protein.  I'm always hungry and just feel like sh*t all of the time.  My partner made me a steak this weekend and I felt markedly better after eating it.  I know eating a vegan/vegetarian diet works for some people, but cutting down on meat always makes me feel weak.  I wonder if I'm iron deficient.  In any case, I need to look after my health a lot better which includes making sure I'm eating well and booking all my checkups soon.  "I love going to the doctor," said no one ever!  

Hope you're all well.  I'm currently unwinding with a cup of chamomile/lavender tea and I'm going to bed soon to get an early start in the morning.  Tell me about your week in the comments?

RECOMMENDED

•  Michelle's take on vegetarianism in a Chinese household.
•  Cherie got married so send her some love!

5/23/2018

The Last Photoshoot in LA


Somewhere between manuscript works writing, and preparing to relocate a new city, I managed to squeeze in a photoshoot with the vivacious Laura Siskoff in Pasadena.  I met Laura at a restaurant in L.A. and gave her my information.  You know, as I do, because this a completely normal interaction.  Laura is an actress and an incredibly outgoing person so she was game!  Actually, she was the one who had to follow up with me a few times because of my crazy schedule and I'm quite glad she did (I didn't have much of a social life, let alone hobbies towards the end of my graduate program).

We went around Pasadena, stopping by Old Town, abandoned buildings, alleys, and Pasadena City Hall.  It was a really fun afternoon and one of the best shoots I've had the chance to do!  Here are the results of the shoot.  For this shoot, I was aiming for more a fashion photography vibe and moving away from lifestyle.  IMO, I've got a long ways to go still, but every photoshoot is an opportunity for improvement, right?  After taking a bit of break from photography, I look back on images and see my tendency to overexpose in processing because I always aim for bright, airy images.  It's something I'm working to correct with current editing.


Something we definitely went for was getting a variety of looks, angles, and vibes.  Laura brought along a few outfits as well as makeup changes.  As with most of my shoots, we went with the flow and just found the settings and poses organically.  Let me know what you think?  I'm very open to criticism for improvement as well so you won't hurt my feelings if you express them!