Sunday, June 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 80s music, ok?

Saturday, June 9, 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. 

Sunday, June 3, 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?

Monday, May 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!

Wednesday, May 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!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday #67: Touching Base


Well, aren't I just the worst blogger?  I'm sorry to have been away from this space for so long.  To be honest with you all, I've been struggling with inspiration to blog.  I'm try to change this by starting a new journal and planning for this space.  Notice physical changes as well?  You know I keep changes subtle and the layout here minimal, but I wanted the space to be inviting for me and you to visit.  Also, hello to the new readers who have found this space!  Rather than recounting What-I-Did-This-Week, I want to use this post to touch base.  

DEUX + NOUVELLE

I've lived in Seattle and been at my new job for nearly two months now.  After graduating with my Ph.D., I moved with my advisor to start as a postdoc in the new labs.  A bulk of my coworkers are the same so that hasn't been the biggest stress factor.  The new work culture and institution are both wonderful; everyone has been incredibly welcoming and friendly.  The most stressful part has been moving ahead on science and deadlines whilst setting things up in the new space.  I want to spend this year learning as much biology as possible so it also means adding more projects to my deck.  On the one hand, I'm much happier having a lot to do over nothing to do.  On the other hand, I really come to value my weekends off a lot more than I did in graduate school for decompression.

ALONE

Have you heard of Seattle Freeze?  I learned about this social phenomenon within a week of moving here where people are polite, but not perceived as friendly or warm.  It's initially jarring, coming from L.A., where everyone is always talking to you.  I'm slowly meeting people through work, but I spend most of my spare time by myself.  It was a little isolating at first, but now that work is starting to pick up, I'm really enjoying my me time.  I love living alone, especially after five years of roommates.  Rent is far more expensive, but I'm completely in love with my space. 

CAMERA WORK

It's been hard to meet models for photography in Seattle.  I've had about a 33% success rate in accruing new and inspiring subjects.  However, I've been able to work with a local Seattle model who is incredibly creative and we've created some great photos together!  You can peep them on my photography Instagram @alyseliangphoto.  I'll start posting some photoshoots on here again as I am working on reconstructing my photography website.  My friend Olivia told me about a Facebook group called Seattle Open Shoots so I'm going to find models there to improve my portfolio.   

Well, this post was a whole lot of text!  I need to get back into blogging more so my goal is to have at least one post up a week, whether that be photography, musings, or favorites posts.  I'm going to start carrying my camera around a few days a week so I can capture images when inspiration strikes!  Hope you'll stick around.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Pike Place Market


I've officially lived in Seattle for about 3 weeks now and, being basic, I've been to Pike Place Market multiple times.  Situated close to downtown and by the water, Pike Place Market is one of the famous, and touristy, destinations in Seattle.  In fact, I've overheard people walking through the crowds whilst remarking, "Ugh, tourists."  I brought my camera with me when Ana came to visit me so I 100% acted the tourist.  I live here now, though, so do I still count?

Pike Place Market is, as the name suggests, a huge conglomeration of food and merchants.  What I love about the market is the amount of local, small businesses.  Whilst it's more expensive, I much prefer buying from small businesses over large corporations.  There are locally sourced vegetables, jams, olive oils, honeys . . . really, anything you can eat!  The merchants are happy to let you try their products, too. I walked away this week with some blackberry basil jam and honey infused with stems of lavender.  


I had to snap photos of the vegetable stalls because there were so many colors.  I definitely plan to come back in the future for some farm fresh greens.  There are also flower stalls at the market.  Tulips are in season and the flowers are so much cheaper than what you would buy at a chain grocery store!  I don't have a vase yet, but you bet I'll be back here when I get one.  Is there anything more beautiful and comforting to have in your house than flora fresh from the earth?


One of our last stops was the famous Gum Wall.  When I was last here with Olivia, she told me that the wall had been scraped clean last year, but you'd ever be able to tell!  Ana and I bought some gum, chewed it, and stuck it on the wall.  When in Seattle, right?  Would you have done the same?  Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday #66: Hello, Seattle


Hello, friends, from the Pacific Northwest.  Since we last spoke, I've relocated from California to Washington.  I'm now a transplant to Seattle and it's been quite a busy two weeks.  I'll start from the beginning.  There's quite a bit to unpack so be prepared.

THE MOVE


I took a flight on the last day of March from Los Angeles to Seattle.  I'd shipped about eight boxes with my job.  Other than that, I moved with the rest of my whole life in an 80 lb suitcase.  My new apartment wasn't ready for five days so I lived in an AirBnB and with friends.  The first few days were okay.  I was situated in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and got to explore a lot of the interesting businesses there (loads of coffee shops!).  Come day three, I had been hit with either a stomach virus or food poisoning which meant for a not so great several days as I recovered.  All the while, I'd had about two days after moving before I started at my new job!  Hooeey! 

Things started to settle down a bit once I moved into my new apartment and started to set up my new life.  The not so great thing about starting anew?  All the money one bleeds!  I'm largely set up now though I'm still sleeping on an air mattress until the real thing arrives.  However, I am living alone for the first time in my life.  Aside from now having to deal with my anxiety alone, it's been pretty nice.  I can make my apartment exactly to my liking and I'm currently pursuing a wood/rustic/marine theme.  My partner has my guitars at the moment, though, and I'm deeply missing them until they arrive because the acoustics here are amazing.  What's the point of living alone if you can't have solo concerts?

NEW SHORES


One of the hardest parts of the move was leaving everyone behind.  My partner and I are now long distance.  Though he'd left Los Angeles a month before I moved to Seattle, I felt his absence that much more once I moved out of our room.  It was also difficult to leave family and friends, but on the bright side, I am thankful to have made such meaningful connections.  I've started to write snail mail to the people I love.  New life -- may as well, right? 

Now, you know I don't like to dwell too heavily on the negatives here so I want to talk about the great things Seattle has to offer!  The air here is far better than Los Angeles.  My allergies are gone and I can't remember the last time I breathed this well.  All my life I've dreamt of living by the water and now I do.  I live in a quiet neighborhood which has a lovely local coffee shop and THREE Italian restaurants.  Dangerous for a pasta addict like myself!  My new place also has a lovely little open shelving area that opens into the kitchen which might be my favorite part of the apartment.  I'm currently filling it with knick knacks.

Seattle also brings new faces and I'm so happy to tell you that I finally got to meet Olivia!  We've talked about meeting for ages and now we live in the same city!  This Saturday, we met at Pike Place Market and had a great time hanging out.  She's one of the warmest souls I've met and made me feel incredibly welcome.  We meant to take photographs, but it was raining so hard that day that we went around buying from small, local businesses at the market.


There are other adjustments to make as well such as the new job, new responsibilities, and . . . the weather.  It rains ALL THE TIME in Seattle which is really nice for someone who misses the four seasons.  When it's not raining, it's often overcast, which actually makes for great light for photoshoots.  I did my first shoot out here with Seattle-based model Io today (we'd been following each other on Instagram and I ran into here one day in the city) which I'm excited to share soon.  Yes, I know, I have a backlog of shoots.  I'm hoping to do more shoots here on weekends!

I'm currently sitting on the floor of my apartment since I don't yet have a couch.  I'm gonna prepare for bed soon to get a start on the new week.  Talk soon!  Tell me what you did this weekend in the comments?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Big Changes


It's been a moment since I've been by here!  In lieu of the "usual" Sunday post, I want to talk about some of the major changes that have caused me to be largely absent from the blogosphere.  I am hoping that I will have a bit more free time nowadays because this blog was pretty much abandoned since the middle of February.  My apologies to those who have been leaving thoughtful comments and not received them in return -- I'm working on it!  Maybe you're wondering, "What's up with the radio silence?"  Or you're thinking, "Just get to the point!"  

Well, here goes.  In the past month and a half, I have . . .

BECOME A DR


From the middle of February onwards, I sort of vanished into a hole as dissertation writing took off.  It was a pretty stressful time.  I had some computer problems and lost some days worth of work (and they were productive ones) which meant rewriting parts of it.  However, I submitted my thesis in early March and defended it in a seminar later in the month.  Which means . . . I am now a Dr. who holds a PhD!  Hallelujah, at long last!  I was pleasantly touched by the amount of family and friends who came out to support me.  Becoming a Dr. is pretty momentous, but I was most moved by the warmth, love, and support I have.

SAID MY "SEE-YOU-LATERS"


I don't want to say I said my "goodbyes" because I intend to keep in touch with the people I met during my studies, both in and outside of my academic circle.  I left Pasadena on March 31 so there was a flurry of last minute meetups.  I'm sad to say I didn't get to see everyone!  I don't think you realize how many friends you have until it comes time to leave a place.  I'm grateful for every connection I've made, for what people have taught me, and for the kindness and generosity they've all shown.  The right kind of people will draw out the better parts of ourselves.  Leaving people is the hardest part of moving.  My partner started his new postdoctoral research position in Northern California as well so the partings started actually started quite a bit earlier.  Everything happens as one, you know?

MOVED TO SEATTLE, WA


New life, who dis?  As of yesterday, I have moved to Seattle!  I've signed a lease for a flat, but can't move in for a few more days.  For the moment, I'm splitting my time between an Airbnb and a friend's futon.  This is the first move of my life that I've made alone.  I start my new job tomorrow as a postdoctoral researcher in my advisor's new laboratories so this weekend is the last bit of my downtime!  I shipped a total of ten small boxes ahead of time and boarded a plane with an 80 lb suitcase.  Suffice to say that I'm glad I've been lifting.  

Where do we go from here?  Life is going to be hectic for a bit: I have to deal with moving in, getting started in the new lab, and research projects.  However, I'm hoping to have a bit more time on my hands with the exams, dissertation writing, and graduation requirements of my PhD program finished.  Hopefully, I'll be more present in the blogosphere, establishing photography work in Seattle, and more!  Talk soon.  Here's to new beginnings!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday #65: Treat Yo Self

Galentine's Day with mi amor.

"Treat yo self!"  If you've seen Parks and Recreation, then you know the reference!  In my opinion, treating yourself is about more than buying yourself things.  It's also about self-care, good company, and cutting yourself a break when you need it.  At the moment, I have a birch-scented candle burning as I write this post.  I've given myself a pedicure and manicure for the first time in months.  I have Parks and Recreation playing whilst I write this post.  Do I have to work this Sunday?  Yes.  Absolutely.  But I'm going to take a moment for myself before I put nose to grindstone!

GALENTINE'S DAY


Valentine's Day was this past week.  I don't really celebrate so my boyfriend and I had a homecooked meal of chicken paprikash followed by watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  It's my signature dish and my rendition was so good that I only got to eat one serving before my boyfriend polished it all off!  Pretty low key which is exactly how I like it, minus having just one serving of the stew.  Harumph.  

On Saturday, I was invited by Ana to a Galentine's Day party.  It started pretty early so I have to give her props on coaxing me to (a) wake up early on a weekend and (b) convincing this hermit-crab-introverted-loner to go out and meet new people.  And, lady, am I glad that I went!  I got to meet a lot of people outside of my immediate graduate school community.  The host had prepared a lovely brunch from scratch.  I was in awe and appreciative of the amount of time and energy she put into the event.  There were homemade frittatas, brussel sprouts, pancakes, mini-pies, and more!  I loved the warmth and energy of the women I got to meet.  Plus, there was a super cute doggo running around us and the location overlooked Eagle Rock, LA!  I'm really glad I went.   


CHANGES


I recently had my annual checkup which included blood tests, assays, and the usual.  I'm thankful to have a pretty clean bill of health with the exception of allergies.  My health professionals saw nothing to be concerned about, but I think I'm going to step up taking care of my health.  I've gained about ten pounds in the past few months, which a lot of people have attributed to muscle weight, because no one guesses my weight properly!  I've managed to exercise 3-4 times a week for awhile, but I plan to step that up to 5.  I'm also planning to cut down on the refined carbohydrates (pastries, pasta, bread).  I've had some requests on social media for fitness posts.  I'm thinking a bi-weekly check in to keep myself on track.  

YEAR OF THE DOG


Gung hay fat choy!  It's the year of the dog.  I'm separated from my family by the width of the country.  There wasn't much of a celebration of Chinese Lunar New Year for me.  However, our lab organized a group lunch the day before and we all went out for dim sum.  I haven't had authentic Chinese food in a long time so this was tasty!  I always went with a lot of Chinese people and got the chance to speak Cantonese more than I do normally.  I miss speaking my native tongue sometimes.  Anybody else have that problem?


Questions for this week: 
Did you celebrate Lunar New Year?
Would you be interested in seeing a bi-weekly health/fitness series?

RECOMMENDED


•  This low-carb shepherd's pie from Ditch The Carbs.
•  My photographs from La Jolla, CA.  Yes, self-plug.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tidepools and Anemones

Seal Beach, La Jolla

As mentioned in my Sunday post, I went to La Jolla, CA over the weekend.  I brought my DSLR with me because it's been neglected while I work.  The pictures I'm sharing today will be of the La Jolla coast.  If you haven't guessed by now, I love cold, the water, and being surrounded by a marine environment.  It's natural for humans to be calmed by the sea, isn't it?  Rather than filling this post with my verbosity, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  Succinctly: here are the moments I captured while tidepooling, walking the coast, and stopping by Seal Beach.  Hope you enjoy!  

Anemone.
Hermit crabs.
Dive shoes for tidepooling.
Lone white crane at low tide.

Close up of barnacles.
Barnacles and marine flora exposed at low tide.
Algae and sea anemone. 
Mussels and barnacles visible at low tide on private pier.
"God" rays.
Seal Beach, La Jolla.