Posted on: Monday, February 16, 2015

chop salad with toasted hazelnuts and blood orange vinaigrette

chop-salad-citrus-vinaigrette

The perfect thing to eat over valentines weekend is greens!  Love yourself and your body will thank you.  Chop salad can be any combination of raw greens and veggies that are in season, you just chop everything really small so that every bite is a mix of yumminess.  Add some toasted hazelnuts and blood orange vinaigrette and it's true love :).  As you can see in some of these photos, the sun is out here in western Oregon, I think spring is around the corner!

chop-salad-citrus-vinaigrette

chop-salad-citrus-vinaigrette

chop-salad-citrus-vinaigrette

chop-salad-citrus-vinaigrette

Posted on: Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Guide for surviving a corporate career

guide-for-surviving-corporate-career

I've worked in a corporate office job for the better part of 15 years, so I think I have a few tips I can provide on this topic.  Here is my guide for surviving a corporate career.

Be positive and professional:  I remember a manager talking to me during my career about employee attitudes.  The manager said he would rather have an employee who was just ok at the job, but had a great attitude, then someone who is really talented, but is a constant negative energy that brings down the whole team.  Your best bet is to keep a positive and professional attitude.  Even if you're overwhelmed, just take things one task at a time, and you'll be surprised how it all works out.  You'll feel better about yourself and have a better reputation if you remain positive and level headed even in times of stress.

Believe in your coworkers, work as a team:  We are all at the corporate job for the same reason, to make money so we can live, take care of our families, and enjoy our time outside of work.  Give your coworkers the benefit of the doubt, most people want to do a good job and have the best of intentions.  Trust your coworkers to do their part and have an attitude of "we're all in this together".  There are times when you will be up and there are times when you will be down.  Sometimes you will be the high performer, and sometimes it will be your coworker.  The key is to ride it out and keep working hard and continue to be a team player.

Don't take things personally:  On this one, what I mean is, when someone sends you a text in two words asking for something, they don't really mean it in any derogatory way.  They are probably driving or in between meetings and can't stop to type out the details.  I actually don't mind direct communications and have really changed my style of communication to being more direct and informational.  Sometimes if you get into too many details or try to be personal, then it makes it so the important information doesn't get across as effectively.  Short, sweet, informative, and professional is really all you need to communicate effectively.  Once you start to communicate this way yourself, then you'll stop taking short communications in anyway as personal.  Also remember that most people are wrapped up in their own pressures and problems, the same as you are, so their behaviors likely have nothing to do with you.

Don't get too wrapped up in what you can't control:  In our corporate office lives there are going to always be things that we cannot control.  Luckily my office values the employee opinions so we always have a chance to give input.  Sometimes that input may still not make a difference, the key is to be flexible and realistic.  Why stress about a decision made that you can't control, just go with it, things are probably not going to be as bad as you think.

Be productive with your office time so that you can spend more time doing what you love:  We have to spend plenty of time at the office every day, that's what a full time job is.  We have to be there when the customer's need us, and so some of our time is spent with reactive tasks, but the other time is proactive.  Make sure that when you have the time to do the proactive tasks, you do them, get them done.  Then you don't have to spend extra hours at the office to finish.  I like to think of how I can work smarter, not harder.  Is there a resource I can delegate to so that it allows me to finish something sooner and more efficiently?  Is there a tool that will help me do something faster?  Maybe I have to invest a little time to learn this tool or resource, but in the long run if it will make me more productive overall, it may be worth the invested time.  Do the hardest tasks first.....on this one I'm thinking of the tasks that take the most time and concentration.  Usually I try to come in nice and early in the morning and work on these types of things before the distractions of the day really get going.

Have some office style:  This is my favorite one of course.  I'm lucky as my office tends to be a little on the casual side.  So I can get away with wearing dark or colored denim with boots, tops and sweaters.  The picture in this post is of a typical work day outfit for me; DL denim and Red23 leather patch sleeve asymmetrical tunic from Due Donne boutique, Matisse boots from Miss Meers.  If you are planning to go for a manager's job, you may want to step up the corporate style....you all remember that saying, dress for the job you want right?  That's what I do with my casual glamour wardrobe.  I like being an individual contributor so I don't feel the need to wallstreet up too much.  On the other hand, I love to dress in my colored denim and boots and enjoy maintaining my casual glamour blogging persona :).  The other thing about dressing for work is that you'll feel more confident and productive when you are in a well put together outfit.

Keep your desk clutter free, be organized on your computer:  I don't even really decorate my cube too much or anything, I like it to be tidy and try to keep my computer work generally organized by creating folders for documents and emails.  I don't like to print things, I'd rather just have electronic files so I don't have lots of papers.

If you have any career tips you'd like to share, let me know!

Posted on: Sunday, February 8, 2015

Photography Tips for Bloggers

photography-tips-for-bloggers

Since I started blogging, I've been most fascinated by the photography aspects.  I thought I could write a list of some of the main things I've learned about blog photography along my journey, so here are my tips for you!

Look for the light:  Photography is all about light, and for blog photography, most of the time, unless you are going for a certain mood, you will want well lit photos.  This may seem obvious, but I had to take time to learn about how light looks when you take a photo (even with an iphone), how to be creative with light, how to position people and items best to ensure they are well lit.  For portraits (even self-portraits), try to put light in the subject's eyes.  When you're indoors, use window light.  When you're outside I like shade, clouds, or early morning or early evening light.

Practice posing:  I'm still learning this one too, I always feel like a dork when I take my selfie outfit photos.  And still struggle to give models good directions for posing and movements when I'm shooting them.  But there are lots of great posing guides online to study.  I think with fashion photography, showing movement in the clothing is really effective, so I'm hoping to add more movement into my fashion photography this year.

Plan and Style:  Whether you photograph outfits, children, food, products, I think a little planning goes a long way in getting a good content image for your blog.  I'm constantly on the lookout for locations that I think would be good for outfit photos, a nice quiet, pretty place with good light.  If I'm shooting food or products, I take time to style with props and garnish.  I try to give myself enough time by getting everything I need for the shoot together before the day I plan to shoot.  If it's a coordinated shoot with a model and makeup artist, it's essential to be well planned.  If possible I will scope out exactly where I'm going to shoot and study the light there before hand.  Then when the day comes, I'm ready to concentrate on just taking the photos.

Develop a signature style:  I'm still working on this one too, but I love bloggers who do this well.....all their photos have a similar look and edit and color palette.  I think this really helps to identify your brand and helps your blog stand out to readers.

Invest in a DLSR:  I am the first one to say that it doesn't take a great camera to make a beautiful photograph, only a good eye.  I've seen plenty of bloggers who take amazing photos with a phone camera.  But, a decent digital camera can really help.  My first dlsr was a Nikon d5100, it's a pretty decent crop sensor camera.  Canon's T3i is similar, and I notice lots of bloggers have this one.  The camera comes with a kit lens and that works great at first.  Eventually I invested in a 50mm prime lens.  This type of lens has no zoom, but makes a very sharp photo and allows a very wide open aperture (usually f 1.4 or 1.8), wonderful for low light and for making a beautiful bokeh background.  I notice some bloggers with the crop sensor cameras will go for a 28mm or 35mm prime lens in order to widen out the frame.  Instead, I eventually upgraded my camera to a full frame sensor.  Now I mostly use a 50mm or 85mm prime lens for my blog photos with the full frame Nikon d800 and Nikon df.

Learn about the camera language:  Of course, if you are going to invest in a decent camera, then you are going to want to learn how to use it.  I remember how overwhelmed I was in the beginning, but the key is don't give up!  Have patience with yourself and keep shooting.  Every shoot I do I learn something new.  When I started out with my first nikon, I kept it in the different auto shoot modes for about a year, and just practiced framing, lighting, and focus.  Using the different auto modes (action, portraits, landscape, aperture priority, shutter priority) helped me to learn about the ratios between ISO, shutterspeed, and Fstop.  It's the ratio between these three elements that makes up the exposure of your photo.  ISO is the camera sensitivity, usually, you want to keep that as low as you can.  Shutterspeed is the amount of time the shutter is open, this needs to be faster the higher the movement of the subject.  Fstop (aperture) has to do with the size of the opening in the lens and controls how much light comes in and the depth of field that is in focus.  An open fstop like f1.8 is going to have only one part in focus and the rest in bokeh, great for portraits and low light situations.  A closed fstop like f11 is going to have much more in focus, great for product photos or landscapes.

Use Photoshop:  A little photo editing can make all the difference too.  Photoshop and Lightroom are much more affordable now with Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription.  Photoshop and Lightroom not only provide powerful and creative editing tools, but also allow easy resizing, collaging, and optimizing of images for your blog.  Plus, you can shoot in RAW on your digital camera and have even more data to edit with in photoshop.  I started out with Lightroom and some Totally Rad presets, and that taught me a ton.  Recently, I also added Rebecca Lily lightroom presets, and adore the film-like look they create.  I knew I wanted to eventually add Photoshop CS6 so that I could do even more advanced editing, as well as collaging and graphic design.  I'm still learning, but it's for sure the right tool for a blogger.  

Manage workflow, use an external drive:  If you take lots of photos, you need to use an external drive to store them.  I'm still trying to find the best workflow solution, so that is something I need to work on this year.  For now I do have a couple of external drives set up which all my photos go onto and Lightroom reads them from there.  It keeps my computer drive free.  I still need a more organized way to store the final photos and back them up.

If you have any tips you'd like to share or questions, let me know, Happy Blogging everyone!

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