photography

photo dump: world photography day

Your eyes are not deceiving you, I’m actually posting on a Saturday! It’s a special Saturday because it’s also World Photography Day. Being that I am a true professional*, I would love to share some of my favorites to the masses**

*totally not a professional

**all 5 of you

I’ve posted most (all, probably) of these in previous posts but let me have this.

Obviously, some are more edited than others, some are straighter than others, some are overall better than others, but they all make me feel good. I could tell you a story about each one. I have, if you look hard enough, but I’m not going to do that right now. I haven’t been out with my camera probably since I was in California and I miss it. I have to get back on the horse and as soon as I do, I’ll be sure to inundate these pages with photo dumps. lucky ducks.

 

san fran…ciscooooo [photo dump days three & four]

Welcome back for days 3 & 4 of Martina’s San Franciscan adventure. I’ve decided to lump Saturday and Sunday together because although we did things, I feel like I didn’t take enough pictures for two separate blog posts.

Anyway…

Saturday was a rough day for me. Being in the cold, wet air the night before and not feeling well to begin with was not ideal. Add on to that having to search for a backpack to replace mine that broke, I was not a happy camper. Our hotel was on the borderline of the Tenderloin neighborhood and Nob Hill. The Tenderloin is known for their homeless population. According to what we heard, it’s gotten better, but still not the nicest of areas. Nob Hill, on the other hand, is home to shopping. High end, luxury, I don’t even think we have one of those stores in New York shopping. We passed Yves Saint Laurent, a Tesla dealership, and Burberry on our way to the first H&M.  They, of course, had no backpacks but told us to try the one in the mall. I wasn’t thrilled to be spending my precious tourist time in a mall, but necessity calls. We walked over to the mall and saw that they also had a Kate Spade, so things were brightening up. We found H&M and walked in, confident that I would find a simple backpack. Wasting no time, I strode up to the salesgirl and asked: “Do you have any backpacks?” To which I was greeted with a blank stare. “Ok, maybe ‘backpack’ is a regional word, like sneakers vs. tennis shoes. Let’s try again.” “you know”, I continued, “a bookbag?” *hand motions of God knows what, putting books in a bag, maybe?* “Oh, no, we don’t. Try the other store across the street.

Defeated, we walked out, trying to plan our next move. Again, I was done and ready for a nap. I cope well in all situations, obvs. Totes grounded and not at all dramatic. We walked around the mall for a bit and found a Kate Spade store. She had tons of cute things but nothing that I wanted needed to bring home. Finally, we ended up in Nordstrom Rack, where thankfully, I found something that would work and my mood brightened a bit.

Our plan for the day was taking a tour in an authentic VW bus. I was stoked (oh, look at me using the California lingo!). I felt very much like a hippie in my gauzy shirt with the little tassels on the sleeves. I bought a flower crown at Claire’s, I was ready to go. Except that a gauzy shirt paired with denim shorts is not the outfit you wear in 59 degree weather. So, again, I’m underdressed. And before anyone wonders why I didn’t just shut up and buy a sweatshirt – I totally misjudged on shopping. There were places I thought I would have time to get back to, even if I went by myself, but I didn’t. Bitching and moaning got me through, always does.

Back to the tour

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looks like a hot summer day. nope. 

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The buses were painted with famous San Francisco landmarks or people who lived there, like Robin Williams, Maya Angelou (who used to be a trolley driver! at 13!), Jimi Hendrix, to name a few. They also had shag carpeting and a manual transmission. It was so cool. They played 60’s music the whole ride and the tour guide was really knowledgeable about each neighborhood we drove through. My only complaint was that our tour left late (bus issues, no biggie) and because of that we didn’t/weren’t able to get out and take pictures or see things up close. When I booked the tour, I was under the impression that we were going to stop at to see the Golden Gate Bridge (the fog wasn’t so bad that day) and in the Haight-Ashbury, but we didn’t and I was a little bummed. I already wrote a review on TripAdvisor, as the tour guide asked, so don’t think I’m using my blog to bash them. The tour was excellent otherwise.

My favorite area was probably the Haight. That’s where the Summer of Love originated. It’s the 50th anniversary of that summer and I wish I was there now to see it being celebrated. I never thought of myself as a hippie or like I would have fit in better in the 60’s, but man, the Haight made me want to braid my hair, throw on some beads and bell bottoms, hop in a DeLorean and see what it was all about.

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Jimi Hendrix lived on top of what eventually became a smoke shop

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Janis Joplin used to live here. Not the best neighbor, apparently.

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The Greatful Dead’s former living space.

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The Hell’s Angels used to reside in this house.

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The biggest PRIDE flag in the country, some say the world.

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The Castro is filled with murals. There were alleyways filled with them. Again, we weren’t able to get out and I missed a lot of good ones, but I tried.

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Living in San Francisco proper is extremely expensive. I don’t even mean $10 for two 20oz bottles of Diet Coke. I mean over $3,000 a month rent in some places for a one bedroom studio. A ONE BEDROOM STUDIO! One bedroom and no walls. At least in New York, $3,000 would get you a two bedroom in a building with an elevator. Maybe. In the suburbs, it’s a mortgage payment on a pretty big house (I think. I still live with my roommates parents.)

The tour was supposed to take us down Lombard Street, which is the curviest street in America. California. The world. It’s really curvy and well known. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was closed off to vehicle traffic, which happens often. The residents want to close it off to any and all kinds of traffic eventually, which is problematic because how would they be able to access their homes? and two, who would enforce it? I can see their point though and if asked, I’d probably sign the petition.

Since we weren’t able to drive down the block, and that was the main reason I wanted to go on this tour, I made it my mission to get back. When the tour ended, it left us right next to the trolley turnaround. We hopped on the back of the line since one of the trolley’s stops was Lombard Street. About an hour later, we got on the trolley and started up the hill.

When the trolleys get to the turnaround, they stop on this jumbo sized lazy Susan and the workers manually spin it. Here’s a video.

Lombard Street was about five blocks up so we weren’t on the trolley for long. It was cold and windy so no one really minded. We got off when they announced the stop only to find out that the street was now open to vehicular traffic. I swear I almost called the tour company to come and pick us up. Since the street was open with cars on it, we walked on what would be the sidewalk but was really a shallow, long set of stairs. We got to the bottom and, of course, I was trying to channel Ansel Adams and get the perfect shot, but after about 10, I had to just give up.

We walked from the base of Lombard Street to Fisherman’s Wharf. If the streets were flat, it wouldn’t be bad, but the walk was about 6 long, steep blocks of hill. It was kind of scary because after a while my legs were like Jello. It felt like they were ready to give out at any minute. But was it worth it? TOTALLY. So authentic.

We went to the Wharf because we wanted to have a nice, seafood dinner that night and we needed to pick a place. We decided on Alioto’s, a place that’s been there forever and had white tablecloths. #fancy. We quickly Uber-ed back to the hotel to freshen up but Saturday was the coldest day and I felt like absolute crap so I didn’t do much with myself. Needless to say, no pictures were taken.

Sunday

Sunday we didn’t have much planned except for brunch, the PRIDE parade, Ghiradelli Square and a ghost tour at night. Ok, maybe that’s alot. We had brunch at Sweet Maple. I’m dreaming of my french toast. I rarely eat sweet things like pancakes or french toast for breakfast but I could eat this one at least 2 times a week.

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cornflake encrusted french toast.. come to mama

After brunch, we made our way over to see the parade. It was a few blocks from our hotel and where we were watching, it wasn’t too crowded. When I got home, my father told me he heard that the San Francisco parade had over a million people in attendance but the NYC one had about 500,000. I was surprised because, in New York, a million people feels like two million. It definitely didn’t feel like a million people in San Francisco. take note, NYC.

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CELEBRITY SIGHTING: Andrea Navedo from Orange is the New Black (and Jane the Virgin) on the Netflix float!

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CELEBRITY SIGHTING: Dascha Polanco and Samira Wiley on the back of the Netflix float!

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kind of in love with this picture. is it too late to spam it to every instagram in san francisco, hoping someone will repost it?

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his sign said “my safeword is impeach”

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After the parade, we went over to Ghiradelli Square because I was dying for a hot fudge sundae. I never got one, but I enjoyed looking around at all of the cute shops in the square. It also reminded me of many of my childhood vacations. Quaint. Chocolatey.

We kind of floated through until it was time to decide on dinner. Nicole was given a recommendation for a restaurant in Chinatown. House of Nanking is famous for their sesame chicken, so of course, I ordered noodles. Nicole got the chicken and both were delish.

 

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chinatown building, across from the house of nanking

 

When we were finished with dinner, we had time to kill so we walked to Union Square to meet up with our tour guide for the haunted tour. This tour and Saturday’s VW bus tour were the two I was most looking forward to. We met our guide, Momo, and immediately I wanted to take him home with me. His voice was so soothing, he was funny and also, in his spare time, a drag queen. He didn’t come dressed but I did notice lots of random glitter.

Momo took us to some notoriously haunted or really creepy places in the Union Square area. Since San Francisco is a relatively young city, it’s history wasn’t so much of a stretch. The only picture I took was of the lobby of the Westin Hotel, where Fatty Arbuckle may or may not have tried to molest a woman (definitely did) and ended up killing (smothering) her accidentally.

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Nicole was a little wary of this tour so imagine mine and Jessica’s delight when Momo led us right into our hotel. It turns out that in that very spot, a very entrepreneurial (is that a word?) woman opened up a brothel. Our hotel was also right across the street from the spot where the Zodiac Killer picked up his last victim before he disappeared (Momo’s storytelling and dramatics scared the stuffing out of me with this one.) We were a few blocks away from where Jim Jones thought up and recruited people for Jonestown. And my personal favorite, the Pinecrest Diner murder.

When Momo was done giving us the chills we went back to the hotel, where I packed and finished my noodles in bed.

Sorry this is so long, my friends! Stay tuned for just a quick (maybe) recap of what I wish I got to do/see, what I recommend, etc.

Catch up on day one and day two!

See you soon!

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NOLA in a nutshell: the finale!

The third (and final!) part of this recap series is going to be all about what I wish I would have done and some other photos that I wanted to share but didn’t have a place for.

Part one was all about food and part two was all about activities. Catch up first!

WHAT I WISH I DID

Ride the St. Charles trolley through the Garden District – I was hellbent on getting to see the huge houses in the Garden District. After the swamp tour, we had a little while before dinner so my mom and I decided to Uber over to the Garden District. Our driver was so nice and chatty. She recommended that we take the trolley from the start to the end and then at the end, we would find the big houses. It’s a nice ride and the trolley is cheap. It’s like $1.25 a ride. take a hint, MTA. We didn’t have time for that so we just picked a block, got out and walked around. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see Sandra Bullock’s (or any NOLA celebrity) house and that I didn’t get to see the house covered in Mardi Gras beads but, there’s always next time.

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Have a drink at the Carousel bar – I heard about this bar through one of those links on Facebook. “10 coolest bars to get shitfaced in the US”, or whatever. The bar itself rotates, like a carousel. We passed it in the Uber, on the way to the Garden District. It was in the nice part of town and much more my speed. Not that I need some fancy-schmancy bar to get drunk in, but Bourbon Street is a mess. And I say that in the most loving way possible.

Get read by Otis at Bottom of the Cup – I know I mentioned him before but I really think Otis is legit. He was featured on The Little Couple when Bill and Jen first went to New Orleans. He predicted kids and all of that. Time passed, they adopted Will and Zoey, and then went back to see Otis the next time they were in NOLA. Everything he told them came to be. So, #realdeal.

Experience a real New Orleans wedding parade – I found out on the walking tour that you are allowed to hop on to the back of a wedding parade, but not a funeral one. For obvious reasons. I would have loved to see either of them, but right place, wrong time.

New Orleans is a very spiritual city. I believe there’s ghosts all over the place down there. The city had its fair share of tragedies in its history so it’s not so far off that people would hang around. Before we got our tarot read, my aunt asked the reader if she knew of any mediums. The reader said that she was one, but she couldn’t open the door to spirits when she was near Jackson Sqaure because there are too many souls around and they all try to come across. She explained that she can’t even go into the square because she gets anxiety attacks. She told us that back in the day, the gallows stood where the statue of Andrew Jackson is now and she feels that the souls of the family members who watched their loved ones die come to her because she that’s how she feels, like she’s watching a loved one die/be killed. I, of course, was fascinated by this but I kind of filed it under a cool story and moved on.

When I got home and started to look at the pictures on the computer, I noticed an orb on the Andrew Jackson statue. I posted this already on Instagram, so if you’ve seen it already, move along.

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See the red circle on the back of the horse? Maybe it’s a sun spot, maybe it’s a convicted felon of yesteryear. I’m going with felon and don’t tell me different.

My friend Nicole asked me to find the mansion from American Horror Story. Delphine LaLaurie’s manison, to be exact. Look her up. bitch was crazy. One of the legends around town about her was that she would have these lavish parties and right in the middle, she would leave and come back with a whole new outfit on. Her guests assumed that she was just trying to show off her wealth or whatever but the truth was that she got an itch to kill/maim someone so she went to her basement or the attic, did the deed and then changed out of the bloody garments. A fire burned the house down and exposed Delphine’s secret. i told you, she was crazy. I’m not sure what happened after that, but fast foward to today and the house is privately owned by, in my opinion, a very brave soul.

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The other legend is that Nicholas Cage owned her mansion but lost it to tax evasion. He owned another house in NOLA and lost it the same way. He also has a crypt in St. Louis Cemetery, but it’s highly doubted that he’ll be buried there because he hasn’t been back to New Orleans. Apparently, the celebrities who live there are seen there. Like, at the local grocery store and stuff.

My final thoughts on New Orleans: It is a beautiful, old, history rich city. Although it is 2016, I was almost surprised to see people in normal clothes and not 1800’s garb. It just has a very old feeling to it, which I love. It’s got charm. It also needs a shower. I was warned of the filthiness of NOLA but I really didn’t believe it. To clarify, the streets are clean. It’s not a garbage-ridden dump. Sure, the streets could be fixed and the buildings could use a power wash and a paint job, but it’s no dump. It’s just that I’ve never in my life have seen so many homeless people. No judgement, just an observation. Just like my mom and my aunt observed a cop discovering a dead man on St. Ann Street. I mean, yea. I’m from New York, homeless people are nothing new; this is just different. There was no shortage of art and music in New Orleans, the Quarter, especially. It gave the city life.

And that’s about it! I hope you have enjoyed New Orleans as much as I did!

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NOLA in a nutshell (part two)

Now that you’ve digested (ba dum dum) part one of my NOLA recap, let’s move on to part two!

As I mentioned in my last post, I came to New Orleans for the photo opportunities. I mean, I wanted to have a good time and experience the city too, but food and photos were my top priority. This post is probably going to be photo heavier than the last one. You’ve been warned.

WHAT WE DID/SAW

Swamp tour – Taking a swamp tour was on my cousin’s list of definites. They offer a speedboat or a normal, not scary boat. We chose the normal boat over the speed boat (sorry, Dez!) and off to the swamp we went. We were told that we had come at a great time because all of the wildlife would be around. Score. This city girl was ready for some gators. Within the first 10 minutes we spotted our first gator.

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crikey.

The tour guide fed our new friend, Herman (the tour guides name them when they get older/bigger. this guy was too small for a name so i gave him one.) and made sure that both sides of the boat got a good view of him. They love hotdogs, marshmallows and hands with cameras. I took the guide’s word for it.

When Herman had enough of us, we moved on to see if we could find some pigs. Unfortunately, the tour that went out before us were kids on a school trip. That means the pigs had already had their fill of marshmallows and pig treats and wanted nothing to do with us. However, the trip to the pig section was straight out of The Little Mermaid and it took a lot for me to not sing Kiss the Girl. Ok, maybe I sang it a little. Just some sha la la la la my oh mys.

On the way back, we caught sight of another gator, Jerry (again, my name, not theirs). Jerry looks like a real jokester, but according to the tour guide, this is what alligators do to cool off and are known to sit this way for hours on end. Jerry wound up moving as we passed; dispelling any “that’s not real” myths. We also saw some turtles on the way back.

To get to the swamp, it was a 45-ish minute ride from the Quarter. We drove through neighborhoods that were obliterated by Hurricane Katrina. There were empty lots where houses and stores used to be. Whole apartment complexes and hospitals were standing there, gutted and untouched in a decade. Things are starting to come back but very slowly and it almost seems impossible to get back to 100%. Because I wasn’t familiar with the area and didn’t understand the true magnitude of Katrina, I didn’t realize how horrible it was. Hearing the bus driver say that the area used to be all built up and how many people from the area had died, it gave me a lump in my throat. Not that you have to be familiar with an area to feel bad for a terrible tragedy. It’s almost like being a New Yorker during 9/11, I guess.

The French Market – I have a love/hate relationship with flea markets. I love a good bargain but sometimes they can get schlocky. The French Market was a bit of both. It offered a little of everything –  artwork, photography, jewelry, masks, cellphone accessories, food. There weren’t many photography booths which is what I usually gravitate towards so I just wandered through. As I’m writing this now, I realize that I never went back for a mask like I intended. figures.

My cousin Desiree reported live on Snapchat (dla22 tell her I sent you! Or don’t. Just don’t be a creep.) the whole trip. I wish snaps lasted longer than 24 hours because you guys would have loved these.

Walking tour of the French Quarter and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 – Like I said in my last NOLA post, I came for the photo opportunities. I decided that the best way to do this was to hit the pavement. I strapped on my too tight sneakers, threw my camera around my neck and got to walking. The tour was filled with history. Well, New Orleans is filled with history but, I digress. New Orleans was owned at different times by the French, the Spanish and then, of course the United States. There are tons of French, Spanish and Caribbean influences in their architecture (and their food). The tour was two hours long, but to tell you the truth, if my feet didn’t suck and if it were offered, I could have hung out with the tour guide and walked around all day.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is one of the oldest cemeteries in the Quarter (I think. I’m really a horrible re-capper). The graves/crypts date back to the 17 and 1800’s. Each crypt is usually made of of people from the same family. God bless the crypt keepers because the process is a little much for me. Basically, the crypt is a small building with w ledge in it. The ledge has a hole in the back of it and underneath is all open space. When a person dies, they are waked(?) in a regular coffin. At the time of burial, the crypt keeper transfers the body into a simple pine box. It is then placed on the ledge and the crypt is closed for exactly one year. After that year, the crypt keeper opens the tomb and takes out the remains of the pine box. They then push the remains of the person to the back of the crypt where they fall through the hole and into the bottom of the crypt. It’s a little gross, a little intriguing, a little creepy. Enough crypt talk.

I was adamant about going to this particular cemetery because it is home to New Orleans voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau. I’m all about spells and potions so I wanted to see this for myself. It’s said that if you make a wish and leave an offering at Marie’s grave and it comes true, you must come back to her grave and draw 3 red Xs on the grave. The picture directly above this paragraph is Marie’s grave. The one above that is someone else in the voodoo world( i think. again, horrible re-capper.)  The cemetery constantly cleans Marie’s grave because it is always being vandalized. Personally, I think she’s floating around the Quarter somewhere.

Cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking – Taking a cooking class was never on my radar of things to do, especially on vacation but this was so much fun! We were in a group with 5 other people and a chef who taught us about the origins of Creole/Cajun cooking, what a roux is and what each different color means flavor wise, that cinnamon vaguely looks like sparkles when thrown into a flame. We broke into teams and got to cooking. I, of course, teamed up with my mom. For two reasons – one: she’s good at what she does and two: we work well together. until we don’t. The menu consisted of shrimp remoulade, chicken breast or pork chop stuffed with seafood cornbread stuffing and blueberry compote, glazed sweet potatoes, crepes with berries. According to the chef, Louisiana cooking is saltier that normal. That being said, my meal was a bit saltier that I would have liked since we followed the recipe. We got to keep a copy of the recipes that we made so I would definitely have my mom try her hand at the meal again. I mean, I would try too, but why waste time?

 

A tarot card reading in the French Quarter – After food and photos, my main goal was getting a reading. I didn’t care if it were tarot, palm, tea leaves, a medium – I just wanted to get read. Jackson Square in the day time is full of artists and their wares. Jackson Square at night is filled with readers. After dinner one night we were walking through Jackson Square back to our hotel and we noticed that the psychics were lined up, one card table after another. As much as I wanted to see Otis on Chartres Street at Bottom of the Cup tea room (he was on The Little Couple!), I have an affinity for mass psychics. They’re all over the Brooklyn street fairs in the summer and when I was younger I used to go for zeppolis and a reading. ahh youth.  Not wanting to be the guinea pig, I let my cousin’s friend Stephanie go first. I was next and, I’ll admit, I wasn’t satisfied with my shuffle, but I went with it anyway. When I was done, I went back to compare notes with Stephanie and it turns out the first part of our readings were almost identical. *side eye emoji* The psychic told me that I had to work with the Laws of Attraction to get what I want. She shamelessly plugged the Netflix doc, The Secret (i guess i just did too), and then explained to me how it works. Basically, the universe hears what you tell it so the LoA is you putting out to the universe what you want/need and it will come to you. Except it’s not as magical as it sounds. It’s not going to open the fridge and get me a Diet Coke on the rocks with a twist of lemon; I’m not Matilda, but if I learn how to really hone in to it and use it, it might get me a boyfriend or a well paying job. Right now, I’m aiming big and putting my order in to be a trophy wife. So Universe, let’s talk.

St. Louis Cathedral – As we all know, I’m pretty partial to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, but in reality, I love all cathedrals. Just like a North Jersey mansion, they’re big, filled with marble and ornate almost usually to the point of being gaudy. Saint Louis didn’t disappoint.

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I know I said I’d include the things I wish I would have done on this trip in this post, but I think I’ll do one more. I love a good trilogy. So, be on the lookout for the final installment of NOLA in a Nutshell.

*for reference, all of the photos in this post were taken on my new Nikon 1 J5 mirrorless camera and edited in PicMonkey. except the ones from the cooking class, those are phone photos.

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belated bridal shower photo dump!

I’m here! I’m alive! Did you miss me? I didn’t go anywhere, procrastination has been my first, middle and last name lately. Hence, why I’m coming to you today with a recap from two weekends ago. whatever. my blog, my rules. 

Two Sundays ago, we gave Jessica a bridal shower. I wanted to share some pictures in my usual photo dump style. Is it too late for that? Is it officially irrelevant in blog time? whatever. MY BLOG, MY RULES.

When Jessica asked all 586933 girls to be bridesmaids, she decided that she was not going to have a Maid of Honor. Instead, she gave each girl a specific task that encompasses the role of bridesmaid and Maid of Honor. One of my tasks was to, with Lisa and Nicole, help Jessica’s mom plan the shower. Jessica is simple and classic. Her mom, and I say this out of love and because I’ve been friends with Jess for almost 25(!) years, lives in a Laura Ashley showroom. Opposites are an understatement.

The shower’s theme was Love Birds. I have to admit – I’m totally obsessed. I love bird cages; they’re so pretty. I’m not the biggest fan of birds so I was careful to only incorporate the cute ones.

Let’s get to (photo) dumping!

The shower was supposed to be a surprise, but well, are bridal showers ever really a surprise?

The party was finally underway. Surprise parties, whether they’re a true surprise or not, always make me nervous. Like, jello leg nervous. At this point, I was hoping that Jess came in and loved the room and all of the little touches that make showers special. Taking away the fact that you’re in a room full of people who love you and only want the best for you and your future spouse. That’s pretty special too.

Then we did a panty line. If I remember, I’ll post the little poem that goes with it on here, someday. I’m not making any promises though, so if you want/need it you might as well Google it.

Finally, it was time for gifts. If you’re wondering, we did eat in the midst of all this. Boy, did we eat. The shower was at a steakhouse, need I say more? delish! And don’t worry, I’m not going to include all the pictures of the gifts. It’s the most boring part of any shower. I wouldn’t do that to you.

After cake, it was time to leave. My feet were so thankful because they don’t play well with heels. They were gearing up for the next day when I had my job’s annual Spring Fling. But that’s for next time.

I hope this wasn’t too boring for you. I figured, in keeping with the my blog, my rules deal, I should post it for posterity’s sake. You know, in case Facebook ever loses my pictures and I need a throwback Thursday picture or something.

See you soon!

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if i say “strap” one more time…

Ugggghhhh. I have two other posts that I wanted to get up. WHY ARE THEY NOT EVEN WRITTEN?

Sorry, I needed a moment. I will get those posts up, they’re actually that delayed weekend update from last week that I was going to break into two posts. I’m working on it.

Anyway.

Along with talking about Harry Styles (i’m starting to think i’m bringing him up on purpose now. #yolo), sharing my photos of Central Park and generally complaining about life, I like to use this blog to share things with my fans whoever is reading it. This is one of those posts.

Somewhere near the middle to the end of last year (the year before?) I bought myself a camera scarf. It’s the best invention ever. It’s a camera strap made out of a nice, wearable scarf. I used it all Winter. It kept my neck warm and my camera safely around my neck. I used to use the strap that came with the camera but after it opened and fell right off, thankfully in a pile of sand, I decided I needed something else. This year, on my annual pilgrimage to Macys to see the Christmas windows, the scarf got stuck in the zipper of my camera bag. Long story short, it got physical and now I need a new camera bag and my scarf got ripped.

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coincidentally, i can use this GIF for many aspects of my life. #dramaqueen

Since then I’ve been on the hunt for either a new scarf or a new camera strap. Then I bought my new Nikon 1 J5 and my search went into high gear. I went back to Etsy, where I got my first camera scarf. I went straight to that shop but there wasn’t anything that was screaming “BUY ME”. Don’t get me wrong, I loooveee the product, I just didn’t want to buy something just to buy it. Back to the search page I went. Finally, I saw the most perfect scarf strap. I immediately went to the shop and fell in love.

Introducing: Peace Grenade

*let me first apologize for these pictures. I was too excited to attach my strap to my camera to plan anything out. Also, I have not yet mastered the flat-lay. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

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The strap is black and white stripes with flowers on it. Very Kate Spade, which I’m all about. There were four options for the ends – black, white, gold and glitter. Obviously, I wanted to keep mine simple, so I went with the glitter.

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I placed my order on Saturday night and got it Monday afternoon. I didn’t even have to pay for expedited shipping! By that alone, this shop earned so many brownie points. Shipping costs/time are one of my biggest pet peeves, but that’s for another post. I feel like I should add, the keychain rings that are shown in the above picture are mine. The photos on Etsy showed rings and I assumed they came with the strap. The original cords alone would never fit where they’re supposed to go on my camera. I should have emailed the seller or paid attention to the description, but it’s fine. No harm, no foul.

The flip side of the strap is a satin-y material which will be nice and soft around the neck. The strap is padded also, which is great because my new camera’s lens is heavy. The best part about this experience is the seller threw little hearts cut from dryer sheets into the envelope. YUM. excellent touch.

I’m already stalking Love Grenade for new styles and planning on my next purchase. i want them all, no joke.

Go over and check it out! Like, right now. Perfect gift for your photographer friend or favorite blogger, maybe?

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finalist photo revealed!

Remember when I told you guys that I had entered a photo contest? And then I told you when I found out that I was a finalist in that contest? Well, I bought the book of the collection of photos that they offered (of course) and it finally came!

FI – NUH- LEE. I only ordered it in AUGUST.

Anyway, in one of those posts I promised to share the picture that made Finalist status. I will, but first I want to share the book with you. Because what kind of “finalist photographer” would I be if I didn’t take 900 pictures of the book, my photo in the book, my name in the back of the book? I mean, really.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a teensy bit disappointed that the photos are that small. I didn’t realize how many finalists there were, because reading paperwork is for chumps, and I assumed that we would each get a page. Or a half a page, at least. Whatever. It’s my name and my photo in a legitimate book that is used by professors and professionals (that’s the part of the paperwork I actually read). And that’s what matters, right?

And now, here is the finalist photo. Even though it’s in the second photo above. I’m all about shameless self promotion. SHAMELESS.

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I’ve said before (just click those links in the first paragraph) that when I took this photo I didn’t like it. But, after Lisa looked at it and loved it and I was able to get it on to my computer and have a good, long look at it, I fell in love. The only thing I haven’t done is name it. #dailygrind, perhaps? blizzard dogs, maybe? Whatever.

This book couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been feeling very blah lately. I blame it on the time of year, that shitty time between New Year and March where you want to change and are optimistic of doing great things but then you realize that that feeling is just gas. It passes and you move on. Seriously though, I’ve been feeling a little lackluster because I don’t have anything to be proud of at the moment. There’s nothing for me to post on Facebook and get praise for. I didn’t get engaged, married, or pregnant. I don’t have a new boyfriend or job to show off. I haven’t even taken down my mini Christmas tree that I insist on putting up in my room, even though no one but me and my roommates (my parents *cough*) will see it.

Meanwhile, my Facebook and Instagram but be broken because I’m still waiting on the flood of likes and double taps and compliments. And yea, shit like that does matter to me because there are more good things in life other than engagements, weddings and pregnancies. Not many, but some.

Sorry, I really did have to go there. It’s not like I don’t follow/ am not friends with people I actually know on social media. Even though I get more random likes, especially since my Instagram is set to public. That made no sense. I’m stopping now.

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What should I name that photo?

Let’s discuss!

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photo dump: central park, where else?

I’ve had these pictures hanging out, waiting to be posted for a little while now, but I haven’t gotten a chance to actually put it all together. Don’t get too excited, they’re of Central Park – again. I know, let’s all put our shocked faces on. Whatever. It was a nice day, albeit hotter than Hades. This time, Martina and Lisa’s Day of Fun started at the Shakespeare Garden, which is like something out of a fairy tale. Or the English countryside. I assume.

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I was too busy running around chasing butterflies, trying to get pictures of them, and failing miserably to get pictures of what was at the top of the stairs. Imagine a round English garden and that’s what’s upstairs. Not that I’m in any kind of situation for this to happen to me, but if I had to list a few places to get engaged, this would be pretty high on my list. take note, boys.

Before we left for the park, Lisa told me she was going to bring a sandwich and have a picnic. The last time we had a picnic in the park, we sat on a bench and watched a Men’s softball game. This time, we’re walking down the path and Lisa says, “Let’s sit here”. I look around and there’s no bench, no men in tight pants. I said, “Where?” “Right there”, she replies, pointing to an open space of grass. She walks over, opens her bag and pulls out a bedsheet, spreads in out, sits down and starts getting her sandwich out of her bag. Thankfully, there was a hot dog vendor nearby so I bought myself a hot dog since I really didn’t believe we were picnicking in the park. From where we sat we had an excellent view of the back of the Belvedere Castle and the trees provided excellent shade.

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After we ate, people and dog watched, we started our journey down to the East Side. I keep forgetting that Central Park is basically the Met’s backyard. One day, I’m not going to make myself not look like a subway troll and I’m going to go to the steps of the Met, channel my inner Blair Waldorf, and have lunch. #pagingchuckbass Except I heard that that’s not allowed so I guess a quick photoshoot will have to suffice. Through the trees, I spotted 5th Avenue and like the Ansel Adams that (I think) I am, I stopped and took 400 photos, even making Lisa move the weeds out of my way. #ineedanassistant #thatswhatfriendsarefor

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The building on the right is Marymount, which is an extremely Catholic school, or so I was told. Either way, it sure is pretty.

We made our way down past Alice in Wonderland to visit Hans Christian Anderson. Good old Hans. I take the same picture every time we come to see him, but I really don’t care. After we said goodbye to Uncle Hans, we started back on our journey down and out of the park.

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Finally, we made it to the Bethesda Fountain. I’ve been trying to get artistic shots of her for a while now and today was no different. What was also not any different was the fact that I still couldn’t nail the shot I wanted. There’s always next time because you know, sure as shit, I’ll be back.

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We walked through the mall, got a Hello Kitty ice cream bar, which promptly fell on the ground. Left the park and went over to Columbus Circle in search of a bathroom.

NEW YORKER TIP: DO NOT I repeat, DO NOT use the bathroom at the Starbucks near Columbus Circle. It was filthy and horrible. I actually felt bad for my shoes. So gross. But I was really desperate. I don’t know what that says about me and I’m not sure if I like it.

I was getting dark by the time we were ready to leave so my pictures of Columbus Circle are eh. I’ll have to go back at Christmas time because everything is prettier at Christmas. Wait for it.

We had finally had enough of the heat and humidity so we decided to head home. While we waited for the train I looked down at my arm and it was literally wet from the humidity. Ahhh, Summer in the City.

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And that’s that. Now I’m waiting for the mail because Amazon says that Mindy Kaling’s new book will be delivered today. Gotta love Prime!

What’s going on with you?

Let’s discuss!

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Mindy, Etsy and Taylor Swift

How come during the week Friday seems like it will never get here and then it comes and it’s like “woah, Friday already?” Maybe its just me. My work schedule sucks. Anyway, I haven’t done a Friday Five Favorites whatever in a while so I figured, even though nothing I have to say goes with each other, why not? I’ll make it work.

Guys, it’s September. You know what that means? MINDY COMES BACK THIS MONTH! And Hulu is now offering a no commercial option. All is right with the world. Also, full disclosure, I chose this picture because I love Mindy’s lipstick color. Now that that’s out in the open… mindy-project-season-4-facebefore i continue i just wanted to make a note. from this post forward i am going to link whatever picture, gif, meme, etc. to the page where i found it. unless it’s mine (something i made or photographed). then you’ll just have to ask for it.

2. I went to the city yesterday with Lisa. I brought my camera, of course, so there will be a post of pictures soon. Maybe. I still have to go through them. Anyway, we were walking around and I was holding my camera like I always do, one arm supporting the neck and the other under the butt. HA!

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I really crack myself up. Anywhoo… I was holding my camera like I always do, with the strap bunched up in the hand that is underneath the camera. Ever since crossbody bags became cool again, I haven’t used anything else. I love having my hands free when I can so carrying my camera is a little awkward for me. I’m always paranoid that either I’ll drop it or someone will try to snatch it. This is New York, after all. At one point, Lisa asked me why I don’t use the camera strap. Here’s the deal. I tried to use it once and the strap opened and the camera fell right off. Thank God it landed in a pile of sand (I mean, if it had to fall, I’d rather it was on sand than concrete.) Since then, the strap has been there just for show. When I got home, I went on to Etsy and searched camera straps and, as usual, Etsy did not disappoint. Behold the scarf camera strap:

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This one is, by far, my favorite. They have ones that are more neutral too, if that’s your style. Maybe I’ll get two so that I’m covered for every occasion. Some shops also have wrist straps. I need a few of those too. I just need them all.

3. Speaking of Etsy, I stumbled across stylishpetite on Instagram. She posted this picture and I immediately wanted, well, everything in the photo but I would settle for just the mug.

I went to her blog and found the post, which led me right to this Etsy shop. I’m in love with everything. And! They offer a left-handed option for the coffee mugs! Hallelujah! How many times have I found a great mug only to have to put it down because the sentiment would always face me instead of out? #leftyproblems Not many, but still, this is a big deal. #ihavenolife. Anyone want to get me a late birthday gift? Early Christmas gift? Favorite blogger gift? I accept gifts for any reason.

4.. Taylor Swift released her music video for “Wildest Dreams” last week at the VMAs. The show was over 2 hours of absolute fuckery, but this video was not. First, Scott Eastwood. Mama like. Second, 1950’s Hollywood glam. Taylor has been getting a lot of shit for the premise of her video, some even calling her racist. I think, and I’ve said this before, people today are throwing that word around too freely and are looking too far into things that aren’t there. But that’s for a different post. Third and finally, she donated the proceeds from the video to the African Parks Foundation of America for wildlife conservation. It doesn’t make her a saint, but at least she’s not wearing Mufasa on her back. Ok, enough of that, let’s all drool over Scott Eastwood.

5. If I’m not watching Taylor and Scott, my other Youtube obsession is planner videos. I really don’t know why. I have banned myself from buying a planner because I know for a fact I will fall deep in to the rabbit hole of stickers and pens and washi tape. oh my! Then I’ll get depressed because I have nothing to plan. It’s probably not healthy, but I’ll just stick with living vicariously through the people of Youtube. Meanwhile, I don’t know how long that will last because I have already fallen in love with the Ban.do agenda for 2016. jesus take the wheel.

That’s about it. That’s five, right? I’m not good with the math. Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend!

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fingers crossed!

GUYS, I HAVE SOME BIG NEWS!

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I entered a few of my photos in to a photography contest (where I just realized almost nothing I wrote about the contest was correct. Was I even paying attention?)? Well, a few days ago I got this letter in the mail.

Is this for real? #finalist #photography #photographersforum 📷 🎉🎊

A post shared by Martina (@maaaartinaaaa) on

It’s hard to read so I’ll just tell you. It turns out that on of my photos made it to the Finalist round of judging!

I had to read the letter at least five times to even comprehend what it said. Even now, I still think I read it wrong. According to the letter, there was over 10,000 entries and they picked about 16% of them to be finalists.

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As of right now the only guarantee is that my photo will be published in the Photograph Forum 2015 Best of Photography book, which of course I ordered and will be arriving sometime in December. merry christmas, martina.

The winners will be chosen and notified on or around August 10th, which I can’t believe is a week away already. They will chose a 1st-4th place winner as well as 100 honorable mentions. The winners recieve all sorts of cash and prizes; the honorable mentions will have their name published in the November issue of Photography Forum magazine.

I’ll share the photo with you when I find out that if I’m a winner. Deal? Good.

Hopefully August 10th comes fast because my old Field Day Participation ribbon nightmares are starting to creep back in.

Fingers crossed!

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