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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Day Hike

It has been gorgeous here in Santa Cruz, with sunny skies and temperatures near 70.  On Christmas Day, Jason and I went for a hike in Wilder Ranch.  Despite the fact that I've hiked here many times, we still took a wrong turn and ended up adding about 2 miles to our planned route, bringing the total to nearly 9 miles.  We did the west side of Engelsmans Loop, crossed over on the Wild Boar trail, went up Old Cabin and all the way around the Eucalyptus Loop (which was the extra part) before descending down Twin Oaks and finally the east side of the Wilder Ridge.  As Jason pointed out, this trail combo does feel like the uphill goes on forever, because it is a long slow climb and relatively quick descent.  The views however, especially on a clear day, are worth it!







Monday, November 11, 2013

Meet Squash

Meet out youngest cat, Squash.  He joined our family at the end of August.  He is the reason for my long absence from blogging.  In addition to being quite an energetic handful in general, he pried several of the keys off of my laptop, which was on its last legs anyway, which caused me to take an unplanned break from most non-work related computing activities.  I'm sure you will agree that his extreme cuteness makes up for everything he ever has or ever will do.  Because I'm sure we're in for more "adventures" as this little guy grows up.





Friday, August 23, 2013

I'm Still Here...

I apologize for not posting for over a week.  My new job is starting up and, we have a new little addition to our pet family that I can't wait to update on soon!  I should be back to a regular posting schedule in a few weeks.  As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week #32: In Motion

In 2013 I am participating in a weekly themed photo project on flickr. Here are my photos so far. The theme for 8/5 - 8/11 was "In Motion".

Last night, coming back across town from dinner with my parents, I knew I wanted to try and get a shot of the Boardwalk at night for my "in motion" shot. I took this one from the bluffs overlooking Seabright beach. It was much harder than I thought to get a good, long exposure shot of the lights on all the rides because I forgot my tripod and I was shooting at a significant distance, but this is the best of the bunch. I like how it has a kind of abstract quality to it and captures the motion the lights, the rides, and the riders.



To give you an idea of how far away I was from the Boardwalk, here's a long shot from the same session. Again, no tripod so not as sharp as I'd like:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Inspiration Points

This week I've been thinking about patience and perseverance.  I injured my foot and had to take a break from working out, which was really frustrating for me.  I had to take a step back and just accept the situation and wait until my foot was ready to run and Zumba again.  Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that the situation is not ideal but temporary, that you have been through worse things before, and that it is just a bump in the road on a much longer journey.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Week # 31: DOF

In 2013 I am participating in a weekly themed photo project on flickr. Here are my photos so far. The theme for 7/29-8/4 was "DOF" which stands for depth of field.

I upgraded to a new phone this week, after getting fed up with my old brick from 2010.  I got a Nokia Lumina 822, and along with 4G (wow!  my apps actually work!) I have a significantly better camera in this phone.  I'm excited about using it for more weekly and scavenger hunt photos, and exploring the burgeoning world of phone photography.

So far I like the features of this phone, and I felt I was able to capture the concept I had for this week's theme.  These are "sweet 100" cherry tomatoes in our garden, yum!  I was hoping to use the graduating size and of the tomatoes to enhance the shallow depth of frame.  I think I got surprisingly good results from my new little camera.

Tomato DoF

Saturday, August 3, 2013

2013 Resolutions: July & August Goals

This year, I am working on new resolutions each month and am using Gretchen Rubin's monthly resolution system to create and track behaviors that I hope will increase my overall happiness. I updated me June goals in a separate post.

Summer has reached that turning point where I am finally getting a productive vacation routine going, just in time to start getting ready to go back to work!  I have an extra long vacation this year since my old district got out in early June and my new district does not go back until the end of this month, so I really can't complain.  For the first time in a long time I feel relaxed and ready to return to work which, in my profession, is priceless.

I originally planned to focus my goals for July on "family" and for August on "friends" but at the end of June I decided to combine the two and just focus for two months on the same set of goals.  So, for July and August I am trying to visit and spend time with friends and family as much as possible.  This is a big change for me from even two years ago, when I was working intensely on changing my diet, getting fit, and really discovering the keys to a more stress-free life and preferred to spend time alone working on my own projects and ideas.  I would consider myself a much happier person today, and one of the benefits of that is more clearly recognizing the value of time spent with others.

In order to accomplish my goal over these two months, I have tried to say "yes" to attending as many social engagements as I can, which is also a change for me.  Again, where I once craved time alone, I am learning to recognize just how spending time with other people contributes to my overall happiness and also helps me to find a greater clarity of purpose and focus in the larger community outside myself.  It is as though I have done a great deal of internal, introspective work over the past few years and am now ready to turn outward and use what I have learned to help others along their journey.

The best way for me to help others that I care about is to reach out, connect, and spend time together.  The more that I do this, even though it is sometimes out of my comfort zone, the happier I am in the long run. Fortunately, my parents and I now live in the same town and my brothers and their families are both visiting this summer so I will get a chance to see my whole extended family before I return to work.  Even though there are only a few weeks of summer left, there are still plenty of fun adventures ahead!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Inspiration Points

The past weeks have been a blur as summer seems to fly by, and my posts have grown farther apart.  I have been doing some travelling, camping, and just hanging out with friends and family.  Not being on a regular routine is enough to make blogging more difficult, let alone all the stuff that has happened that I want to write about!  I will just jump in and try to get back on a regular posting schedule.  Here's some inspiration as we round the corner into August and the last sweet days of summer.

http://pinterest.com/pin/210684088791082337/

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Week #30: Image Based on a Lyric

In 2013 I am participating in a weekly themed photo project on flickr. Here are my photos so far. The theme for 7/22-7/28 was "Image Based On Song Or Book Title, Lyric, Quote, Idiom, Or Figure Of Speech".

I missed getting a photo for last week (#29) because we went camping and I left my memory card at home in my laptop.  Luckily, we were only about 30 minutes from home and my dad kindly brought it out to me Monday, so I did manage to get a shot for this week's theme.  Because the theme was so broad, I just shot pictures during the camping trip and figured one would inspire a matching lyric or quote when I reviewed the shots.  Sure enough, I immediately thought of the classic Led Zeppelin song "Going to California" when I saw this misty shot of a path through coastal California hills:

Sunset State Beach

"Going To California"

Spent my days with a woman unkind, Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine. 
Made up my mind to make a new start, Going To California with an aching in my heart. 
Someone told me there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair. 
Took my chances on a big jet plane, never let them tell you that they're all the same. 
The sea was red and the sky was grey, wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today. 
The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake 
as the children of the sun began to awake. 

Seems that the wrath of the Gods 
Got a punch on the nose and it started to flow; 
I think I might be sinking. 
Throw me a line if I reach it in time 
I'll meet you up there where the path 
Runs straight and high. 

To find a queen without a king, 
They say she plays guitar and cries and sings... la la la 
Ride a white mare in the footsteps of dawn 
Tryin' to find a woman who's never, never, never been born. 
Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, 
Telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

2013 Resolutions: June Update

This year, I am working on new resolutions each month and am using Gretchen Rubin's monthly resolution system to create and track behaviors that I hope will increase my overall happiness.

June Update

My updates have been coming later and later each month, it seems!  For June, I had two goals in the area of "home": to improve my basic maintenance of the housekeeping and chores, and to keep better track of how we spend our money.

I have settled on a chore system that works for us based on the ideas of The Flylady and The Tidy Tutor.  If you are looking for good ideas about how to start getting organized around the house, both of these ladies have great suggestions as to how to develop housekeeping skills when they don't come naturally.  I gained a few insights while following the system I have established for the past 6 weeks.

First, it takes a lot of practice to establish new habits, even ones that are motivating and fulfilling (like doing the dishes each night).  At the same time, when I actually do these things I am measurably happier.  The difference between beginning the day walking into a clean kitchen versus one with a pile of dirty dishes in the sink is substantial.  I feel much happier and less stressed when I get the chores done according to schedule, because then they are done and I don't have to think about it anymore.  

I realized that another way that I can relieve stress in this area is to relax my expectations of how clean the house needs to be.  Sometimes I get stuck in a cycle of thinking, "well, I need to sweep and mop but I can't do that until I get all the dishes done and then I should probably vacuum first but also on the list is windows..." and then my brain goes into shut-down mode and nothing gets done.  To move past this negative thinking, I need to just do something on the list and it doesn't really matter if it's perfect or in the right order.  The main point is that it gets done!  It's not like each time I mop the floor is the last definitive mopping.  This may seem obvious but for a high achiever like myself the need or desire to do thing to the absolute best standard can be very compelling.  While striving for excellence is the drive that leads to my success in life, it can also keep me from moving forward with simple, non-essential tasks.  I am learning to save my energy for the things that really matter and that I value more than, say, vacuuming the sofa correctly.  Things like spending time with friends and family, working on my fitness goals, and being the best I can in my professional life.

I feel like I learned a lot this month about my attitude toward keeping the house clean, and will continue to work on sticking to my chore chart while also releasing my expectations of doing every task "right" every time.  Sometimes good enough is good enough.

Another goal for June was to track our household spending.  I used a system originally presented in the book Your Money Or Your Life, which has influenced many of the other "simple living" authors and blog readers I follow including John Robbins in his book The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less.  Since the beginning of June, Jason and I have saved all our receipts and I have used Quicken to track income and expense into categories based on where our money goes.  While I have always used Quicken to balance our checking accounts, for the first time ever I tracked our cash spending as well.  The results were eye-opening.  First, I learned that we spent more in some categories (like food and groceries) then I expected, and less in other areas (recreation and fitness, for example).  Also, our spending really does align pretty well with our values.  Overall, we spend the most on things that are important to us (quality food and desirable housing in an incredible location) and less on things that we don't value as much. In those areas where we are spending more than we think is warranted (transportation is one example) we are taking steps to make changes to bring spending more in line with our values.

Keeping track of every penny that goes in and comes out of our possession has been extremely helpful.  I am going to continue this system of bookkeeping in order to stay conscious of how well our spending aligns with our value system and to avoid wasting money on things that aren't important to us or that my actually detract from our overall happiness in the long run.

For my next focus area, I'm going to combine July/August into one period and think about "friends and family".  A longer time between posts means more to say I suppose, so since this entry has gotten quite long I'll write about my goals in this area in a separate post.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read my blog!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Inspiration Points

This week finds us in the hot dog days of summer, with unease and unrest bubbling across the nation.  We ask ourselves questions about justice and equality.  I find myself thinking about the need to come together, to really understand how to love each other in order to move forward as human beings.  I know that the most effective thing I can do is be the change I want to see in the world and model my beliefs through right action, right thought, and right speech.

http://pinterest.com/pin/210684088790979565/

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Week #28: Through a Window

In 2013 I am participating in a weekly themed photo project on flickr. Here are my photos so far. The theme for 7/8-7/14 was "through a window".

It's been a busy week and I am behind on regular posting, so I'll be catching up with multiple entries today. I keep thinking I'll spread these out and have a post a day, but then new stuff keep happening that I want to write about!  So I end up not writing any entries and now I'm a week behind.  Just another side effect of being on "vacation" time, especially adding "Santa Cruz" time on top of that (which is like "island time": it'll happen when it's supposed to happen, man!). But it does mean that I'm out doing stuff and enjoying my time off, which is awesome and much needed.

Over the weekend we went to visit Jason's mom in Auburn, where I took this self-portrait for the week's theme of "through a window".  I like all of the reflections in this shot, since I framed the photo in a mirror that you can see through the window in the house.  I'm standing on the balcony with an awesome view behind me.

Through a Window

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Project 333 2013: Phase 3 Photos

I have been participating in a minimalist fashion experiment called Project 333. These are my photos and list of items for Phase 3 (July-September).

After a living for over a week with my revised Project 333 rules, I am pleased with how they are working with my vacation lifestyle.  Even though changing the rules is not only allowed but encouraged, I still had a hard time doing my own thing because I am a very "rule-bound" person and like to do things "the right way".  Part of this project, for me, is understanding that "the right way" is the way that is best for me and that meets my needs, not necessarily the expected way or the way everyone else does it.  This concept applies to many areas of my life, everything from what clothes I choose to keep and wear to what I eat, to what I do for a living and how I spend my free time.  Gretchen Rubin writes that one key to happiness is to understand yourself and what you really like and don't like.  Only then you can make decisions that suit your true nature, help you serve your purpose in life, and truly make you happier.  It is difficult to be yourself when we are constantly receiving messages about how we are "supposed" to be, but fighting or ignoring our true nature will only lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

With that said, I am learning to create a wardrobe that is right for me and suits my life, using Project 333 as a catalyst to better understand myself and my needs.  In addition to changing the guidelines up a bit, I also am adding the time-tested "hanger trick" to the mix this time in order to see if there is anything in my 53 items that I don't use or wear, and could be purged.  Basically, this starts with turning all the hangers in your closet backward.  Then, when you wear a garment and then get ready to return it to the closet, it goes facing the correct way.  At the end of a set period of time (in my case, in October) it will be easy to see if there are any items in my closet that I haven't yet worn, and these can be sold or donated.

Another new thing I am doing for this phase is tweeting a daily outfit.  You can follow me on twitter (@sges77) to see how I style my 53 items and when/where I choose to use them.  I may not be able to keep this up when work starts, but for now I'm having fun with it!

My 33 items are technically not "complete".  I plan to purchase a black tank top, and I've already ordered a pair of work pants.  I also plan to swap out my worn beige tee for a plain white one.  But I don't need to do this until I get closer to work starting at the end of August.  Since posting my list a few days ago I decided to remove my sun hat since it is a functional "all weather" garment, and added another pair of earrings instead.  So, here is my  list of my total 53 items. (ETA: I apologize, one upon a time I did have photos, but I accidentally deleted them during a blog purge).


"Work Worthy" Capsule Wardrobe (33 Things)
~Accessories~
1. purse*
2. turquoise dangle earrings
3. silver hoop earrings
4. turquoise and coral hoop earrings
5. abalone necklace
6. sun hat (moved to "all-weather" category) onyx earrings
7. turquoise sequin scarf
8. coral scarf
9. floral scarf
~Tops~
10. black tank top (not pictured, plan to purchase)*
11. coral ss tee
12. lt grey ss tee
13. tan ss tee (worn out, will probably replace with plain white ss tee)*
~Pants~
14. lightweight work pants (not pictured, plan to purchase)*
15. skinny blue jeans
~Skirts~
16. red and white sailboat skirt
17. black maxi skirt
~Dresses~
18. brown and white floral dress
19. black cutout dress
20. turquoise maxi tank dress*
21. black and beige print tank dress
22. navy and white print tank dress
~Sweaters and Jackets~
23. tan / multi loose knit sweater
24. tan open knit shrug
25. black shrug
26. coral crop sweater
27. tan cotton cardigan
28. navy long cardigan
29. coral long cardigan
30. cropped denim jacket
~Shoes~
31. light blue Converse
32. cork mary jane shoes
33. black sandals

"Weekend Wear" (20 Things)
~Accessories~
1. black backpack
~Tops~
2. blue and white striped tank top
3. blue tank top
4. black halter top
5. green ss tee
6. tan ss tee (when I replace the worn-out one in my capsule wardrobe)
7. blue ls tee
8. bowling tee
~Pants~
9. Levi’s jeans
~Skirts~
10. green and white floral skirt
~Dresses~
11. grey tank dress
12. blue and green tank dress
13. denim tank dress
~Sweaters and Jackets~
14. grey and white leopard print cardigan
15. blue zip-up hooded sweatshirt
16. grey flannel
17. tan flannel
~Shoes~
18. black and white Nikes
19. pink Chacos sandals
20. black Chacos flip-flops

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week #27: Right Angles

In 2013 I am participating in a weekly themed photo project on flickr. Here are my photos so far. This week's theme was "right angles".

On Saturday, we went down to see my brother George compete in NASA time trials at Mazda Raceway in Laguna Seca.  My only prior auto sport experience was a figure-8 dirt track demolition derby, so this was quite different.  It was interesting to watch George get his car ready to race, thrilling to see him get behind the wheel and head to the starting gate, and really scary to watch him going well over 100 miles an hour around the raceway.  I learned quite a bit about this sport, which my brother is really passionate about.  Hopefully he will reach his goals and be able to move up to higher levels of competition as he improves (tricks out?  I'm just learning the lingo) his car more and more.

There were plenty of right angles at the racetrack.  This is a shot of George on one of his laps during his third time trial.  Eve though they're not all straight lines because of the angle of the shot, I like the different textures and materials that compose the many right angles in the image.
Right Angles...

Here's a collage of a few more race photos:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

9th Wedding Anniversary

On Wednesday, Jason and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary.  I think we actually look better than when we got married!  We are certainly healthier.


Every year we try to go up to Quail Hollow Ranch in Felton where we got married and had our reception.  We usually have a picnic on the site of our ceremony, and try to take a picture.  Some years, we haven't had a great anniversary for whatever reason (in 2012, for example, we received an eviction notice that day!) and we didn't take a photo. Of course our marriage and love has grown and strengthened over the years, and our photos reflect how much fun we have together.  We have also changed physically a lot, losing, gaining, and losing weight again.  I decided to make a collage of pictures from our 9 years of marriage.  Most are from our actual anniversary day, but 2008, 2009 and 2012 are from another day that year.  Warning: unflattering photos ahead!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Monthly Scavenger Hunt June 2013

Here's my entry for June's scavenger hunt on flickr.  This month I took more new photos to fit the clues, but still had to draw on my archives Sunday night when I realized it was the last day of the month!  I'm pleased to have two top finishers this month: #10 Sticks (3rd place) and #12 Spotted (2nd place). These were both new images I captured in June.

MSH June 2013

June 2013 Scavenger Hunt
1. Knotty (mine and everyone's)
2. Bespectacled (mine and everyone's)
3. Shadow Play (Judy **) (mine and everyone's)
4. Home Made (mine and everyone's)
5. Solitary (mine and everyone's)
6. Twist (mine and everyone's)
7. Step by Step (mine and everyone's)
8. Fresh (mine and everyone's)
9. Criss Cross (mine and everyone's)
10. Stick(s) (mine and everyone's)
11. Dripping (cathy.scola) (mine and everyone's)
12. Spotted (mine and everyone's)
13. Lipstick (mine and everyone's)
14. Sing (mine and everyone's)
15. Boat (mine and everyone's)
16. Squiggles (mine and everyone's)
17. Little and Large (mine and everyone's)
18. Seated (jamcan2011) (mine and everyone's)
19. Golden Glow (mine and everyone's)
20. Lens (mine and everyone's)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Project 333 2013: Phase 3 List

I have been participating in a minimalist fashion experiment called Project 333. This is a list of my modified rules and list of items for Phase 3 (July-September).

Number 3
Phase 3: Summer: July-September
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have decided to modify the Project 333 rules to better suit the needs of my lifestyle for the next three months.  I'm starting a new job in August and I want to have enough choices to look and feel my best when the time comes to dressed for work, so I've more clearly defined the areas of my wardrobe.  Here are Courtney's original guidelines, and my basic modifications to her suggested starting points:  
  • I've refined the rules even more since my last post, and instead of 58 items I've decided to have 53.  33 items are my quality pieces that make up a "work-worthy" capsule wardrobe; an additional 20 (originally I had 25) items are casual "weekend wear" which is perfect for summer vacation and weekends but too casual for work. These items include all accessories, shoes, and jewelry except for: my sunglasses, watch, ring, and 4 ear piercings which I never remove.  
  • Like Courtney, I'm not including underwear, sleep wear, or workout clothing.  I'm also excluding an additional category of "all-weather gear": functional outdoor items like rain jackets and sun hats. 
  • The category of "in-home lounge wear" hasn't really worked for me because I basically consider it to be the same as sleepwear.  I don't like being dressed for the day in clothes that I wouldn't leave the house in.  In the first two phases of the project I had several items, like my flannel shirts and my yoga pants, that are fine for both gardening and running to the grocery store but certainly not appropriate for work.  I've wondered how I should categorize those items, so I decided to eliminate the "in-home lounge wear" category, replace it with "weekend wear", and limit the group to 20 items.  I think this is actually a step further in recognizing what I actually have and wear, because it prevents me from having, for example,  3 pairs of black yoga pants or 5 pairs of "weekend" jeans!
  • I'm adding an additional challenge which is that all items in my storage bin must actually be off-season. In this next "summer" phase, for example, there should be no tank tops or skirts in storage.  All of my summer clothing should be in rotation now somewhere in my 53 items, or else why do I own it?
With these rules in mind, here are my two preliminary lists for the next phase.  Items in bold are ones that I kept in my wardrobe from the first phase (April-June). You can also see that I moved seven items from the last phase (also in bold) to my "weekend wear" list.  An asterisk (*) indicates items that were purchased or that I plan to purchase during this phase, as opposed to taken from my off-season storage box.  I also purged and donated 14 items in this round.

As always, this is a fluid list that may change in the first few weeks of the project.  I'll try to have a post with photos up by this weekend.

"Work Worthy" Capsule Wardrobe (33 Things)
~Accessories~
1. purse*
2. turquoise dangle earrings
3. silver hoop earrings
4. turquoise and coral hoop earrings
5. abalone necklace
6. sun hat
7. turquoise sequin scarf
8. coral scarf
9. floral scarf
~Tops~
10. black tank top (need to purchase)*
11. coral ss tee
12. lt grey ss tee
13. tan ss tee (worn out, will probably replace with plain white ss tee)*
~Pants~
14. lightweight work pants (need to purchase)*
15. skinny blue jeans
~Skirts~
16. red and white sailboat skirt
17. black maxi skirt
~Dresses~
18. brown and white floral dress
19. black cutout dress
20. turquoise maxi tank dress*
21. black and beige print tank dress
22. navy and white print tank dress
~Sweaters and Jackets~
23. tan / multi loose knit sweater
24. tan open knit shrug
25. black shrug
26. coral crop sweater
27. tan cotton cardigan
28. navy long cardigan
29. coral long cardigan
30. cropped denim jacket
~Shoes~
31. light blue Converse
32. cork mary jane shoes
33. black sandals

"Weekend Wear" (20 Things)
~Accessories~
1. black backpack
~Tops~
2. blue and white striped tank top
3. blue tank top
4. black halter top
5. green ss tee
6. tan ss tee (when I replace the worn-out one in my capsule wardrobe)
7. blue ls tee
8. bowling tee
~Pants~
9. Levi’s jeans
~Skirts~
10. green and white floral skirt
~Dresses~
11. grey tank dress
12. blue and green tank dress
13. denim tank dress
~Sweaters and Jackets~
14. grey and white leopard print cardigan
15. blue zip-up hooded sweatshirt
16. grey flannel
17. tan flannel
~Shoes~
18. black and white Nikes
19. pink Chacos sandals
20. black Chacos flip-flops

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Inspiration Points

The announcement of a landmark Supreme Court decision last Wednesday has brought to mind themes of love and acceptance.  I watched the first addicting season of Bravo's "Newlyweds" on-demand this week, and was struck by the similarities in the relationships between all four couples featured in the show, despite significant ethnic and cultural differences.  Again and again, the couples seemed happiest when they were able to express and communicate to each other how much they valued one another and the marriage.  At the end of the day, being able to love - and connect with those people whom we love and who love us in return - seems to be perhaps the most important component in a happy life.

http://pinterest.com/pin/210684088790929499/

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Week #26: Trio, Quartet, or Quintet of Objects

In 2013 I am participating in a weekly themed photo project on flickr. Here are my photos so far.

This week's theme was "trio, quartet, or quintet of objects". I was quite pleased with this shot of roosting Double-crested Cormorants at Twin Lakes beach. This makes two weeks in a row where these birds have been the subject of my themed photo. There are two species of cormorants that I commonly see in Santa Cruz: Brandt's Cormorants hang out on the rocky coastal outcroppings, while the Double-crested Cormorants below have been roosting in Schwan Lagoon for years.  They are abundant in Santa Cruz this time of year, and they are large and interesting birds. It is especially cool to see them fly overhead with bits and pieces for their large nests.  The best place that I've found for viewing roosting activity is along 9th Ave next to Schwan Lagoon.

Here's this week's photo, "Trio".  The two birds on the left appear to be juveniles since they haven't yet developed the completely black coloring of an adult:

Trio

Here's some idea of what of what the the roosting colony looks like.  Nests like these can be found in most of the large eucalyptus trees that line the Lagoon:

Double-crested Cormorant

Finally, here's a close-up of a juvenile (L) and an adult (R) Double-crested Cormorant.  They look prehistoric, don't they?:

Double-crested Cormorant Double-Crested Cormorant at Schwan Lagoon

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Project 333 Update: Week 12

I have been participating in a minimalist fashion experiment called Project 333. This is an update at the end of Phase 2 (April-June) and Beginning of Phase 3 (July-September).


Phase 2: Reflections
It is time once again to change my 33 items for another season, and prepare a wardrobe for the next 3 month phase: July, August and September.  At this point, I have successfully followed Project 333 for 1 ½ phases, or 18 weeks.  It has been a huge learning process for me and I have developed a completely different attitude toward the purpose of clothing in my life. 

My Phase 2 April-June list and a larger photo of my wardrobe items can be seen here.  I only made one additional change since my last post: my sun hat had a short brim and no SPF protection, so I swapped it more a more effective wide-brimmed model.  For the most part, much like in Phase 1, I was able to find clothing suitable for every occasion from staff meetings and awards nights to book clubs and baby showers.  Overall I’ve come to realize that a small number of quality items can create a versatile and simple wardrobe.

Phase 3: Looking Ahead
In the next phase, I have six weeks of vacation, followed by the first six weeks of a new job.  The first six weeks will be full of casual days at home and outdoors, while the last six weeks will require a more polished professional wardrobe.  Over the course of doing Project 333, I have learned that the demands of my weekend/casual wardrobe are different from my work wardrobe.  While both are casual, my work clothes are of a better quality that I want to preserve and protect.

As I started to decide what items to include in the next phase, I felt overwhelmed by having to limit my choices to 33 things that would be work-appropriate yet could withstand the rigor of my active vacation and weekend lifestyle.  I decided that if I wanted this project to continue to be a source of growth rather than a source of stress, I would need to change the rules of the game. 

Over the past four months I have learned to identify clothing that I love and that I actually wear.  I have come to better understand what clothes suit my lifestyle.  This has enabled me to see how the basic guidelines of project 333 can be modified to better meet the needs and demands of my life.  Here are the basic guidelines for Project 333, with my modifications for the next phase:

  • When: Every three months 
  • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
    • I expanded this number to 58 items in two categories: 33 “work worthy” items and 25 “weekend wear” items.
    • “work worthy” are basically my nicer professional clothes
    • “weekend wear” are more versatile items that can meet the demands of housework, gardening, errands, biking, walks, on the beach, etc.
    • Many “work worthy” items can also be “weekend wear” depending on what I have planned, but all “weekend wear” is too casual for work.
  • What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
    • I’m including my sunglasses in the same group as my watch, ring, and earrings I never take off.  I only have one, functional and stylish pair that I love and wear everywhere.
    • I’m changing the category of “in-home lounge wear” to “weekend wear” and limiting it to 25 items.
    • I’m not counting “all-weather gear”: my 2 rain jackets and rain pants.
  • How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of site.
    • I’m adding the guideline that the boxed up items can be off-season only… all fall / winter or all spring / summer.
  • What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.
    • When the “work worthy” clothes in my wardrobe wear out, they will become “weekend wear”
    • When I buy new clothes they should be “work worthy”
    • New clothes should be as locally and ethically produced as possible, or secondhand.
Over the past few days I’ve been thinking of what new things I might need to add to my wardrobe and planned to go shopping.  But when I opened my box of stored clothes I had so much cute summer stuff that I realized I have plenty of clothes right now.  I only need two or three new things, not the six or seven I had imagined.  In the past, with a new job on the horizon, I would certainly have used the occasion to go shopping for a whole new wardrobe.  It is a sobering realization that what I already have is, indeed, good enough.

In the next few weeks I will post a list and photos of the items I have selected for the next three months.  As always thanks for reading and I hope you have found some inspiration for your own projects in happiness and simplicity.