Daily Design โ€“ Week 20

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Hi there!

I will be traveling this week, so I’m not sure how much design I’ll get to do but I’ll do what I can!

So I had a nice relaxing weekend where we had friends over for dinner on Saturday (I feel like I say that a lot). And Sunday was Mother’s Day, so my husband was nice about letting me relax and he picked up a lot of the parent duties. I thought I would get to work on the 2017 photobook a bit, but I decided to doodle and play with my kids’ watercolors while they were napping on both days with “New Girl” playing in the background. (My coworker keeps talking about that show, so I finally had a chance to sit down and watch it. I’m addicted. And I love you, Zooey Deschanel if you’re reading this. Ha!) But no, the photo book didn’t get touched until today…and I think we can say that February is done.

A couple of page spreads:

Onward to March!

Okay, so March will have to be put on hold for now. At the start of the year, I started waking up early to do design work. These days, I find myself waking up to make coffee, letting the buzz kick in and then take Giada for a walk before getting ready for work. So although I am designing everyday at work – and these days, doodling away in my sketchbook – I have to find some energy and time to do personal work. And I do it because I feel like it helps keep the creative juices flowing. When it rains, it pours. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, this is a photo from 2017. Did the Photoshop stop motion effect this evening.
Man, I could go for Portillo’s cheese fries right now….

I always feel like these menus are a cop out in getting out of this daily design incentive because I do them anyway (seriously, if I don’t plan our dinners, we would probably stand in the kitchen all confused until bedtime – we’re an indecisive bunch). But since this week is a travel week, I had to get on it to help keep us on track & organized (i.e. I’ll know what to get at the grocery store when I come back this weekend). By the way, I always seem to gravitate toward the one Nigella Lawson cookbook I own when I’m looking for ideas. Her recipes are diverse – I like that!

I’m sorry to say that these were long work days, so I didn’t get to design. Since we’re on the subject of work, let me gloat as I share the first two football uniforms I’ve ever designed (and hopefully not the last!):


On that note, I will be taking this week off from this Daily Design (Self Imposed) Challenge to regroup. But I’ll be back at it next week!

Daily Design โ€“ Week 19

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Hi hi, Happy New Week. I didn’t get into the photo books at all over the weekend because I was just really, really out of it during any downtime I had. I finally got my mojo back on Sunday afternoon during the kids’ naptime when I found “All or Nothing” on Amazon Prime and managed to watch a couple of episodes. TV – sometimes it’s good for the head. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway….

As I edited away on pictures, I realized that a lot of my phone pictures are backed up on Amazon Prime. I logged on and found about 5 pictures I wanted to use – all of which include my friends’ kids (so probably best if I don’t share the pictures here). Going through Lightroom, however, it’s funny to see that period where I was playing with light. Examples:
I didn’t get to do page layouts today….

Got around to a few page layouts (while watching “All or Nothing” – I’m addicted). There are a lot of pictures this month. I can’t say that too many of them are strong as stand alone photos. But I still want to keep most of them, so I pulled together quite a few photo collages within the page layouts.
I might be done with February this week! (Maybe.)

I was very much out of it on this day, so I can’t say that I did any design. Although I did plan out my meal for the week.

Today was a busy day, so I didn’t get to design (well, I did at work but nothing personal). After work, I went to pick up dinner as we had guests over.

The restaurant gave us TONS of soy sauce (I admit that we are partial to the green label though….)

Well well well, I can’t say that February pages will be done this week.


Maybe I’ll dabble in February this weekend? Maybe? ๐Ÿ™‚

The Kid Takes Pictures

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The other morning, I took a picture of The Kid while he was relaxing on two of his stools (yeah, I don’t get it either):

As soon as I snapped this, he sat up and asked if he could take a picture. I hesitated because he’s a little um, careless with things. (He is three, after all.) And he’s a terrible listener on top of it, so the probability that he would go rogue with my camera – and drop it afterwards – was high. But then, I thought about the point and shoot camera sitting on top of my bookcase. “Hold on one minute – Mama is going to let you use the blue camera,”I said. “Oh, the blue camera???!!!! YEAH!” he replied. (For the record, he just repeats answers and gets excited for them even if he doesn’t know what I’m talking about, such as this case). So I gave him the camera. Tried (remember, he’s a terrible listener) to tell him how to take a picture and not to cover the lens.

Anyway, his sister was his first subject:

This is the actual picture he took:

Doesn’t she look thrilled? Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

He turned and took a picture of me:

The picture he took:

Like I said, I **tried** to tell him not to cover the lens
Like I said, I **tried** to tell him not to cover the lens

But then he said, “Mama, sit down on the bench. Put down your camera.” A photographer giving out directions – who am I to argue? The photo:

Not bad. I’d like to tell you he took 10000 more pictures, but he got tired of it soon after. We’ll see how much he gets into photography later down the line, if at all!

Daily Design โ€“ Week 18

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Design, photo book, photography

Alright, something a little different this week…

This blog started off as a place where I would focus on sharing how I design and layout photo books – I want to say this blog evolved since then, but really, I just haplessly went in different directions and just posted wherever my mood took me. I’m 100% going to continue to do that because this is still a fun little space for me to play around in without any restrictions. I think maybe that’s why people don’t post regularly – they feel like they have to stay “on brand” or “within a niche”. Oh, plus blogging does take a little more work than it appears. On a related note, I get the appeal with posting on a platform that is more quick and easy. (Ahem, Instagram….) If I had the energy to blog everyday though, I would (mainly because Seth Godin says it’s a good idea). But hey, I do what I can.

So enough about that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Back on point: I haven’t finished my family photo album for 2017 yet…actually, it’s mostly empty (yikes). So I’m going to jump back on that and share my progress here until I have it finished and sent off to Blurb. My goal for this week is to have January completed and to start on February. Maybe if I tackle it this way, I could have this book done by the end of May. Maybe? ๐Ÿ™‚ Let’s give this a try….

I have three pages in the January 2017 done. Woot woot.
2017 photobook progress
I did cull the photos I wanted to add into the photo book. I haven’t edited them yet, but I think I’ll do that tomorrow. It was fun going through pictures I had forgotten about – and texting them over to The Hubs. He loved them (something about pictures makes you forget about those exhausting days and sleepless night).

Did a quick edit on all the 55 photos I culled yesterday to put into the photo book, including this one:
No layouts today. But guess what the rest of the week is for. ๐Ÿ™‚

A selection of page layouts:
photo book layout


And January is done. Yay! I’ll start looking at February 2017 photos tomorrow. Here’s the start:
title page for photo book

Going through and culling photos I want to use. I saved 565 photos from February 2017 and trying to narrow it down to a fraction of that. Kinda fun to see that time period where I’m pretty sure I was a sleep walking zombie. (So my advice to moms of newborns: Just pull out the camera and shoot. Revisit the shots in a year – you’ll totally appreciate them.) I had the foresight to type in notes back in February 2017 into the photobook Indesign file to insert pictures from certain events. I’m on a hunt for a couple of those pictures, which I may have taken with my phone. So my advice with the photo book thing – write down/type notes that will help you jog your memory. Other advice? Don’t wait 1.5 years to put the book together. ๐Ÿ™‚ A few shots I pulled (no page layouts today):

On a walk during an unseasonably warm February day
On a walk during an unseasonably warm February day

“What the heck are on my hands??!!!”

She was so little! She was so little!

Edited a handful of pictures – I pulled 89 pictures from the digital pile. (That’s kind of a lot for a short month, isn’t it?) This was among the favorites:
I’ll take whatever I can get, lol.

I may continue dabbling in this book over the weekend. Maybe I can wrap it up early next week and get started on March then. Maybe?

Have a great weekend!

Daily Design โ€“ Week 17

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Hello hello, New Week*. Let’s get started.

Very exhausting day. The kids kinda drove me into the ground, which I guess I deserved as they both took long naps this afternoon. I loved that as it gave me time to work on a project. I looked up to see that I had a few minutes to spare and threw my camera in video mode to see what I could cook up. This is what I came up with:

Side note: the menu is from Graham Elliot’s restaurant back in 2008 or 2009 (a restaurant that is now closed). He wasn’t in that night, but whoever the head chef was that night (er, I don’t remember his name) was nice enough to sign my menu. I think this is the most brilliant food quote ever.

Another side note: The GIF file was too large, so had to save it as a video file. Wah.

Day started off kinda rough with The Kid saying, “I don’t want be here” as soon as I pulled into his daycare parking lot. That was followed up with tears. Lots of it. (Wah.) I tried to shake it off at work, and eventually managed to do so. Had a great day there. Came home to find The Kid crying upstairs. (“He just started the tantrum,” The Hubs said.) Calmed him (The Kid, not The Hubs) down. I asked how school was. “Good.” That was followed up with, “I want to stay home with you, Mama.” Wah.

I had a little side project to work on today, so I didn’t get a chance to sit down and do anything graphic designer-y. However, I did get a minute to doodle, which is what I’ve been doing a lot lately as I think there is something magical about doing things on paper. It’s therapeutic. And I think this is a fun way to document little snippets of life that are not monumental but still things I would love to revisit a decade or two from now. I admit that with kids, I have a hard time remembering these things I want to remember (did that make sense?) so I feel like this might be a fun way to journal it. This is 100% a personal project that I like sharing with The Hubs because he gets a kick out of them. I’m not sure how often I’ll share my doodles because while the stories are stellar (Mom bias, I know), I pretty much suck at doodling. ๐Ÿ˜›
Here are a few people that are awesome at doodling:

I was pretty certain that I wasn’t going to drink when I got home tonight, but that fancy bottle of Two Buck Chuck just spoke to me:
It happens. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sorry – I totally missed today but to be fair, I did design all day at work!



*Although maybe I should say “Good-bye, this week since this won’t get posted until Friday.

Daily Design โ€“ Week 16

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Design, Food, Stop Motion

I went to the library on Sunday to grab one book. Ended up with 14. I’m thankful the library has baskets I could check out. Whew!

I should mention that the day before, The Girl grabbed my camera and let it hit the ground hard. The camera was acting all funny with a lot of the functions not working. I was pretty bummed knowing that it’d have to get sent in, but pulled out the battery, detached the lens and let it sit on the counter. The next morning, I didn’t have much hope but decided to turn the camera on. It worked! It’s a miracle. This was the first picture I took:
Barilla pasta
(And I kinda wanted pasta.)

And decided to go down Memory Lane with our visit to London back in 2013. This is an image of Greenwich Farmers Market:
Greenwich Market

On Thursday, I had a super fun/productive day at work, but man, I was so tired…and came home to chaos. The Girl, legit, wouldn’t stop crying for 30 minutes because she wanted to sit in her brother’s chair. It was insane. After I put her down for bed (with her cries still ringing in my head – parents know what I’m talking about), I decompressed in front of my computer but kept things simple by playing around with AfterEffects. AE is a program I hope to navigate my way around well one of these days:


Really, I just wanted to give The Girl a pizza of my mind. Hardy har har. #momjoke

I saw this book at the library last weekend and laughed out loud. It didn’t go home with me (I didn’t even pick it up), but how is anyone ever going to forget this title? (I am totally down with saving the world by throwing dinner parties though!)
Brunch is hell
Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Easter Sunday in black & white

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I had this post written out two weeks ago, but never got around to editing the photos. Better late than never, right? (The things we tell ourselves….)

I’ll admit that the title is misleading since 1) we didn’t go to church and 2) we didn’t do an Easter egg hunt. Well, technically the kids did one at their daycare the week before, and my neighbor had one in her backyard while the kids were napping – she would have waited (since it’s something we’ve been doing for the last few years) but I told her to go ahead and not to feel guilty about it, especially since it was kinda cold out this year. When I say “kinda” I mean, it was cold. (We are having a chilly April in Chicago this year…) Anyway, the following is a photo diary of our Easter Sunday.

Let’s begin.

I usually make waffles without fail on Sundays, but in the last month or two, I’veย throwing Eggo waffles into the grocery cart. It’s easy. It’s convenient, and the kids love them. (I suspect it’ll only be a few years until I hear “Leggo my eggo.”) My husband hates them. I purposely didn’t buy any this week, so I forced myself to take this Sunday to make them. (I use In Jennie’s Kitchen’s recipe. The onlyย revision to her recipe that I make is that I don’t add sugar, but I’ll add in a ripe banana or two.) The Kid swooped in to help.
Making waffles
While the waffles were cooking away in the irons (yeah, we have two – well, one is a Mickey Mouse one which was a gift from Jessica. I think she gifted it to me, but she probably had a little hunch that the kids were going to be all over it…and they are), The Girl raced to her cabinet to grab a plate (food is her priority). The Kid came to help her too. I don’t know if she appreciated the help, ha ha.


After breakfast, the kids played. I called Barnes & Noble to see if they were open because hey, I like books. (Plus, I was antsy to get a new cookbook.) The Kid loves this place because of the escalator and the train track set in the kids’ area.

train set at Barnes and Noble

The Girl seemed to like it too. The Kid, however, had a bit of a meltdown as we left, so we told him we weren’t having sushi for lunch like he wanted. “I WANT SUUUUUUUUUUSHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!” he screamed the whole way back until went through a Portillo’s drive thru. That calmed him down (and made The Hubs and I all calm and happy inside because ahem, who doesn’t love Portillo’s?). I made the mistaken of giving each kid a fry as we left the drive-thru with a “Just one fry!” disclaimer. The Kid accepted this. His sister kept asking for more and then it was her turn to cry. Oops. Mama Fail. After a million years of listening to her wail, we arrived home. Everyone sat down and happily stuffed their faces with fries ate.

eating portillo fries



After lunch, The Girl played by the window in the kitchen.
The Hubs and The Kid read together before everyone went down for a nap.
I think I put my camera down for the rest of the day, but nothing out of the ordinary happened except that my neighbor came over to drop off Easter baskets for the kids. SO NICE! [And I don’t have a picture of that, wah!] I’m sad to say that I didn’t think to get her kids a basket in return. I’ll have to figure out a way to thank her later…

Anway, hope everyone had a great Easter.

This last picture wasn’t taken on Easter, but hey, it fits with the rest of the group so I’ll include it along in this post. ๐Ÿ™‚

Daily Design โ€“ Week 15

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Design, Food, Stop Motion

Stop motion & food. That’s where my head has been lately. So let’s start with this (thrown together Monday morning):
silverware stop motion

Rise and Grind GIF
The funny thing about this is that I threw this together on Tuesday night before bedtime. I figured it’d be nice to look at the following morning. ๐Ÿ˜› Also quite appropriate as this is a picture of my brother inhaling a cold brew in NYC – and Tuesday happened to be National Siblings Day. Ha!

Bangkok cookbook
Seriously, what a beautiful cookbook.

coffee mug gif
Morning at my desk. My coworker (who sits on the other side) was also in and probably heard all the clicking from the camera. He’s too nice to ask what the heck I was doing at my desk, lol.

I made a couple of stop motion attempts on Friday, but nothing stuck. So I’m sharing my home menu for the upcoming week. (Typing this as I listen to the Bon Appetit podcast. I’m kinda drooling at the moment.)


Posted Leave a commentPosted in Food, photography


Thought I’d throw in a little creative piece with this weekend’s Instagram Weekend Hashtag Project #WHPimbored. And yes, I think these are all awesome and worthy books. Listing them below in case any of them might be interesting to you.

Bangkok by Leela Punyaratabandhu – A beautiful Thai cookook. Seeing that Leelaย is from Chicago, I’m hoping that I have a chance meeting with her (so that I can convince her to give me Thai cooking lessons!).
Amazing Malaysian by Norman Musa – This was a random book I picked up while in the cookbook section of the library. But flipping through it, I have to say that I’m glad I picked it up because 1) I am digging the design of the book. (If I were to design a cookbook, I’d want it to look like this.) and 2) I know nada about Malaysian cuisine. I think Normal will help me navigate that course. (I’m pretty sure I’ll have my own copy to add into my collection soon enough.)
Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez – I’m a fan of Ashley’s Not Without Salt blog and her whole idea of dating your spouse at home & at night after the kids have gone to bed. I mean, I have yet to actually attempt this but I have checked this book out at the library about three times now. Probably time to buy my own copy of this cookbook. ๐Ÿ™‚
The Pho Cookbook by Andrea Nguyen (no relation, ha ha) – Andrea is my Vietnamese Cooking Guru. Basically, if she publishes a book, I’m probably going to buy it…and use it all 1000 times over. (That has been the case with this, Into the Vietnamese Kitchenย – the cookbook I probably use the most –ย and Asian Dumplings.)
Downtime by Nadine Levy Rezepi – I admit I only heard about Nadine after seeing her in an episode of Ugly Delicious, but I love that home cooking is her passion. So I bought this book for myself for Easter. No regrets.