Category Archives: Personal

It’s been a while…

I can sit here and make up a lot of excuses, all true, on why I’ve stayed away from here so long. But I won’t bother you with the details.

I am making a comeback, slowly but surely.

For now, I will leave you with a fun idea that I found on the internet, as many great ideas are found, naturally. I recently got back from a trip to South Korea, visiting family I haven’t seen in ages. To commemorate the trip, I made a t-shirt that summarized the entire 1 weeks, all in just a few sentences:

“I should have learned more Korean before I left, visiting family I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years. This trip included vacationing on a honeymoon island – not with my extended family, not my lover. I made kids cry, and my sister wanted to noraebang so bad that our cousins stayed up until 1am on a school night karaoking with us. *Gangnam Style forever* We also found out that our family members are cat people: They hate rain and love naps. Family is the best.”

I plan on making a new commemorative t-shirt for every trip and vacation I go on from here on out.

What do you do to remember your trips?

Tagged , , , ,

Back when selfies were self portraits

Hair Series Portrait by natalieerachel


Love this girls crazy hair! Though I’m not quite satisfied with the face portion of this drawing because it doesn’t look exactly like her, I figured that I wouldn’t keep erasing and re-drawing for fear of ruining the rest of it. Hope you all like it! (Original:

Talk about talent! And no, I’m not talking about me. In addition to her beautiful photography, Natalieerachel recreates self portraits of other people by hand. I was lucky enough to have my self portrait drawn by her, she has so much talent and goodness knows I wish I could draw like her! Thank you for this, Natalieerachel!

Self portraits have taken on a whole new meaning, giving rise to selfies, cell phone shots, and numerous phone apps to help make the selfie easier and more flattering to take. Before the selfie craze started, I did a self portrait series about “Who I Am” – one of the things I did is exaggerate my hair because that’s how so many people identify me. This is one of the photos in the series, and the one that Natalieerachel recreated.

self portrait, hair seriesWhat kind of self portraits would you take in your own “Who I Am” series?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Today, do something good.

LeRoy biking through the leaves.Today is a bittersweet day. One of the volunteers I work with just passed away suddenly, and I am still taking time to process and digest this. Today is his memorial service, and I am unable to attend. I don’t think he would appreciate my presence there, anyway…he would probably roll his eyes and poke fun at me for sobbing my eyes and heart out.

He isn’t one to wallow, but he wants you to get out there and do something. Make a difference in this world with whatever resources you have. As a man experiencing homelessness, he may not have a lot of worldly possessions. But let me tell you, you can do a lot and change so much, even if it looks like you have nothing. He had the world, and captivated us with his intelligence, compassion, and entrepreneurial spirit – all in the name of helping others. Today, I ask you to please pay it forward, do something. I think the world would be a better place because of it.

Tagged , , , , ,

April Challenge: 30 days of my favorite things!

30 Days ChallengeJust in case you missed it, I am doing a new daily challenge every month so that every day, I am focused, trying new things, taking risks, or enjoying things that make me happy. The plus side? I get to choose the challenge! It can’t be too hard then, right? RIGHT? Last month was 31 days of healing. I had been through a lot in February, so I wanted to use March to recuperate and heal. Because most of my photography is film-based, you will be seeing a recap of that month a little later!

As for April, I knew I had to make this one special. It’s my Birthday month, and to make it even more enjoyable and me-centric (which I am not), I thought the best compromise would be to fill every day with something I love. It can be as little as listening to one of my favorite songs, or as big as going on a day trip somewhere. Who knows. The point is I want to enjoy things that make me very happy, and while Birthday month is a great excuse for that…I think we should do a lot more of enjoying our favorite things more often regardless.

So…cheers! Will you be joining me? What are some of your favorite things?

Tagged , , , ,

31 Days of Healing

HealingSo February hasn’t been so kind to me. Nearly every “worst case scenario” and “things can’t get much worse” situation happened. But, to my amazement, I am still smiling. And I smiled my way through all of February.

I have a way of not feeling stressed, even though I probably am. I try to not let things get to me, and I try to stay as strong as possible. I really needed to be strong this month, not just for myself, but for everyone else too. So I didn’t have time, or the opportunity, to just let go.

Well, that eventually takes it toll…and my body definitely feels it. I am needing lots of sleep. And I mean A LOT. I want to be alone to recharge. Relax. Heal.

So this past month has been my impetus to start what I am dubbing my “30 days” challenge. No, it’s not new. I’m sure many people challenge themselves to something for an entire month. But I am starting this monthly challenge to have more fun in my life, create some inspiration, and extend my creativity.

So here I am, starting in March. Each month will have a different challenge, so I am excited to try something new, and stretch myself to do different things every single day.

My March monthly challenge will be 31 days of healing. Because I need it. I will be doing something every day in the month of March that will help me heal – mind, body and soul. And, to fulfill my love of film photography, I will be photographing the healing things that I do with my film cameras. So while you may not see what I have been doing to heal in the month of March, I will be able to share them with you in a different month. The following months’ challenges will all be different. But I thought it would be appropriate to start with healing myself.

Why don’t you join me in this monthly challenge? Share your ideas with me – what do you do to heal? I would love to try out your ideas, I need 31 of them! Who knows, maybe your idea will be the one that truly heals me.

Tagged , , , ,

Hello, 2014!

Happy New Year!

E and I on New Year’s Eve, saying “hello” to 2014!

So, I’m not the New Year’s Resolution type. I like the idea of goals, and I like them even better when you have a checklist of fun things you want to get done. So here is my 2014 checklist of things I HAVE to do this year. In no apparent order.

  • Take Huey (my pup) for his first beach trip and some off-leash fun in the sand and waves!
  • More hiking. Yes, definitely more hiking. And camping.
  • More running…half marathon, perhaps?
  • Make regular wellness appointments. I take care of everything around me, but not myself. That needs to change…
  • Learn to sew. Craft more. Maybe open up an Etsy store with some fun creations? Maybe? Note: I am the WORST sewer in the world, at least when I was in junior high. Maybe things can change? Maybe?
  • Home projects. Actually set aside time to get things done! Or at least unpack. Sheesh. I still have boxes.
  • Gardening. Can I keep some veggies alive for more than a few days? 🙂
  • Roast my own coffee.
  • Canine Good Citizenship certification. For my dog (not me).
  • More, more, more , more photos! And prints!
  • Get out of the state. Better yet, get out of the country!
  • Read more. Especially after I finish up my closet/reading nook. I can’t wait.
  • Thrift more. Find more treasures!
  • More dates with E.
  • More dates with friends.

…so it looks like my 2014 is the year of “more everything.” I better get started! What’s on your list for 20

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Goodbye, 2013…

Looking back on 2013, I am realizing that it is probably the year where I had the most growth and life changes. It didn’t really feel like it when going through life one day at a time. It’s kind of fun to reflect on the past year, its ups and downs, and have some curiosity to where the next year will lead. Here are some of the big moments in my 2013:

Disney Princess half marathon finishers!I ran and finished my first half marathon – the Disney Princess Half Marathon! Yes, you heard me right. Disney princess. It’s pretty fun to say that I finished my first half marathon in a tutu at Disney World. At the time, I was thinking it would be my only half marathon. But as of late, I am considering signing up for another one in a few months. I injured my knee a few months back, most likely from overtraining in a short period of time. I’m still recuperating, nearly 10 months later…so it seems like the perfect antidote to set a goal and get back to where I was…but more slowly this time. 🙂 Plus, I have a new training partner now! A cute, adorable, and very fast puppy!

Grandpa and catI had to say goodbye to one of my favorite people in my life. My grandpa. I still think about him all of the time, and it’s especially hard during the holidays. But I know how he would be mocking us if he knew how much we miss him right now. Oh, Grandpa. I still miss you. But I know better than to wallow. 🙂

Disney World with our auntsI got to spend time in Florida, visiting and meeting some of my family for the first time!

Hello 30

I just entered a new decade of my life, and I have to say that I was SO excited to reach my 30’s. I’m not your conventional dreading-turning-older type of person. I am looking forward to my 30’s, and I am feeling more secure in who I am. This means that I can truly be happy and enjoy my life as I get older and make decisions that truly get me where I want to be. I mean, if you aren’t excited about every moment and year in your life, then how could you be happy? You would be living in regret and procrastination – “oh, I will enjoy life later when _____.” Just enjoy it now. And tomorrow. And the next day. So you can keep enjoying it through a ripe old age of 105.

Hiking for all ages (Mt. Rainier camping pt. 3)My summer was full of outdoor adventures, and camping with my BFF and her amazing little family was one of my favorite moments. We don’t get to see one another often, but this trip was magical. You try watching a toddler pitch a tent and tell me that’s not one of your favorite moments.

Mi casa, su casaOh, and I bought a house. No big deal. Just accomplishing one of my lifelong goals. You know. It was one where I didn’t think could happen, or if it did, it wouldn’t happen for a very, very, long time. Things just fell into place, and here I am! Please excuse me while I try and shake myself of this disbelief…

My child has four legs and furOne of the major reasons I wanted to buy a house so bad is because of this face. I got to adopt a dog. Now this, this has been a lifelong dream. I’ve waited my entire life, 30 years, for the right moment. And now I have a new furry member in my family. While we still have a lot of training to do, he is an amazing companion and family member. Yes, he is a rescue dog, but you know what they say, right? That rescued dogs know they have been rescued, so they are so happy and grateful to be in your life. I don’t know if that’s always true, but trust me, he is one happy dog and my life is happier because of him. *sigh*

I LOVED 2013, and I am looking forward to what 2014 has to bring! What were your favorite moments from this year?

Tagged , , , ,

Holidays in my home

Happy Holidays!!! While we all have different beliefs and celebrate important dates in our lives in different ways, I still want to take the time to wish all of you a happy holidays! The holidays have always been important to me, but mostly as a time to reflect and spend time with those you love. My holidays were perfect. I spent time with close friends, people I consider my family, and decorated my home with the outdoors.

It’s my first holiday in my new house and so I wanted to do something with my decor, but knew that a full-scale light display is probably not in the cards this year. Or ever, really. But still. So while I didn’t get a Christmas tree, I made myself a holiday chandelier made out of boughs. Even though it’s not traditional, I absolutely love it.

I also don’t have any ornaments for a tree, so even if I did get one this year, it would the most sadly undecorated tree ever. However, it wouldn’t be the most odd tree I ever had. Growing up, Christmas trees weren’t as important to my parents, but they were very important to my sister and I. One particular year, my parents opted out of getting a tree for a number of reasons, but cost was a big one. So instead of sulking about not being able to afford a Christmas tree, I drew one on a grocery bag. My drawing skills aren’t the best, but it’s the most memorable tree I’ve ever had.

So while a Christmas tree didn’t happen for me this year, I still made something that I love and smile at every time I see. And now I have a new tradition for my future Christmas trees – E gave me the idea to just get one ornament a year, so that even though my future trees won’t be heavily decorated, each ornament would be special and would be full of meaning.

Well, this year I actually made an ornament with some friends. We celebrated a good friend’s birthday by blowing some glass and making some ornaments, of course with a lot of help. I’m pretty happy with how my ornament turned out, and it’s pretty exciting that my first adult ornament is one that I made. And yes, it’s hanging in my house. Just not on a tree. Maybe next year, with a new ornament I can add to my collection. Cheers to new traditions!And yes, E brought it to my attention that because we jut moved, we probably won’t be receiving that many holiday cards this year. But that didn’t stop me from creating my card holder (a branch with twine to hold our cards). You can see below that I already had 1 card when I took the photo! We are still receiving more as the holidays progress (yes, I don’t care about timing – it’s the thought that counts!), and I am loving my branch card holder more and more. It’s not the number of cards that matter, but the fact that you can acknowledge others’ thoughtfulness in thinking about you during the year. Not everyone can or may send cards. But I know that I have people in my life that fill it with love. Thank you.
Also, who doesn’t love swag and mistletoe?  Happy Holidays, from me to you. Thanks for letting me share with you a piece of the holidays in my home. I hope you are having a beautiful celebration, whatever your beliefs and whatever you hold in your heart. 

Tagged , , , , , ,

December Photo Challenge: Week 1

December Photo Challenge Week 1I just made it through Week 1 of my December photo challenge! I challenged myself to take a photograph every day for the month of December. While I am taking most of my photos with my film camera (they won’t be available until I develop my film), I am also posting cell phone photographs on Instagram (@shrista) so I can keep myself accountable on the daily. 🙂

So here’s a peek into my life! Even though my daily life isn’t all that exciting, it’s a great reminder to make those little moments special.

Are you taking on the challenge? You can start any time! To get some inspiration on what to photograph each day, you can use these. Don’t forget to share your photographs!

Tagged , , ,

December Challenge

Photo a Day ChallengeOkay, so goodness knows I’ve tried the “photo a day” challenge many times, but I always seem to fall short. By a lot. It’s harder than you think to take a photo every day for a year. Well, at least it is for me.

However, I find myself taking less photographs as of late, and I think it’s about time to start back up again! Besides, I find that it makes life a little more interesting when I try to fill it with new things to photograph. Seeing the same ol’, same ol’ every day gets kind of boring. While the mundane parts of our days are often the most beautiful, it’s also exciting to stretch ourselves and try something new. This is great inspiration for that. And I love adventures.

This time, I will take it a month at a time. Goals are more achievable when you start off small, right? December is a great time to start because it’s the holidays, and everyone is usually up for more fun, happy times, gatherings, and comfort. 

Most of my photographs are captured on film, so I probably won’t be sharing them until January. But in the meantime, to get my inspiration going and making sure I am keeping myself accountable, I will post a photo a day on Instagram as well. Follow my Instagram photo a day adventures here (@shrista)!

Since it’s already December (!!!), I have already posted my first photo! Huey’s first walk in his bright yellow raincoat. Yucky weather doesn’t have a thing on adorable puppies in raincoats. Yeah, it may be overkill. But at least he’s warm and dry!

Want to join me on my December challenge? Share your photos in the comments!

Tagged , , , , ,