The last week – and definitely this weekend – has felt extra special; we’ve been soaking in a slower pace, no plans, and embracing a let’s do what we want today attitude. We’ve purposely left our calendar (mostly) empty to remind ourselves to slow down, be still, and at the same time, be spontaneous! As such calculated people (or is that just me?) with to-dos planned days in advance, lately, we’ve been living in the moment. How novel! We linger much, much longer over dinner conversations at our favorite spots, we hop on and off the El for downtown shopping sprees, and we spend less time looking at the clock.
It’s been a rare treat.
At the same time, we’ve been trying so, so hard to keep our minds off The One. I wish we could say that days go by when it doesn’t come up in conversation, but that would be a lie. We’re still daydreaming, counting down days until the next step – even though we have no idea when that step will be.
All this makes for a mix of emotions in our home; while we’ve been enjoying our down time, we’re craving a new adventure with The One. A seemingly harmless conversation about whether or not we’ve watered the plants that week turns into we’ll need a jig saw if we want to make that headboard in the new bedroom. Our everyday talk can veer off course rather quickly if we don’t watch ourselves.
We’re reminding ourselves to take this one step at a time (how many times have we said that?), but, you guys, it’s hard. So until that next step – whenever that may be – you know we’re creating endless future lists. Lots of them! And the first line item? Get a jig saw.
PS: Our Print Shop giveaway ends tonight – get in on that action right here!
This giveaway is no longer accepting entries. Thank you to all who participated!
The Print Shop is live! After lighting my own fire by declaring a March 1st opening date (just the kick in the pants I needed), I’ve spent the last month gathering your votes, tallying totals (hands down, Paris #4 was the front runner!), prepping our photographs and most importantly – getting the Shop up and running. First, a big, fat thank you is in order for all of your input on our Pinterest board, and we’re beyond flattered that you’ve encouraged us to get the Shop off the floor (or, you know, out of the shadowy corners of long, lost digital files), into your hands, and onto your walls.
Thank you, thank you.
So now, we’re thrilled to finally share with you our travels, with snaps taken from our yearly anniversary trips, Week’s End snippets and most everything in between. The Print Shop is a collection of your favorites + ours, and we’re excited to watch it grow as we continue to explore, too.
You’ll find over forty 8″x10″ fine art giclée prints in the Shop, each printed on thick, acid free Somerset velvet paper, providing long term durability with an attractive matte finish. Professional, fade-resistant archival inks are used for rich, vibrant colors and overall image quality.
In other words, we wanted to create the best overall prints possible, a must for us. Nothing but the tops.
Your giclée is printed with a 1/4″ internal white border and will arrive individually hand signed and titled. Plus, every print is made to order in standard frame-friendly sizes (yay!).
We also wanted you to have the option to go big, so all giclée prints are available in larger sizes, up to 20″x24″ (yup, still frame friendly). And if you’re looking to cheer up an empty wall and go gallery-style, prints in The Shop can also be purchased in sets of three (with a built-in price break, too). Mix and match; share or don’t!
Of course The Print Shop opening calls for a bit of celebrating, don’t you think? So, let’s do a giveaway to kick this off right – and give one lucky winner their choice of any fine art giclée in the bold 16″x20″ size!
- Up for grabs: Any 16″x20″ giclée print from The Print Shop // 1 winner // a $99 value
- To enter: Comment on this post and tell us the print of your choice! See them all right here.
- For additional entries: Share this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, then come back and leave a comment letting us know. (One additional comment for each method – up to 2 extra entries!)
- Giveaway ends: Tuesday, March 5th, at 5pm CST
- Shipping restrictions: None. Let’s take this global.
The lucky dog winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Wednesday, March 6th. Good luck and happy entering!
PS… Just like our Pet Shop, The Print Shop can always be accessed from our sidebar or top menu bar.
Rather than spend our whole weekend triple-checking our phones for missed calls on the one (nope; not a word), I thought it would be fun to work on a mini project that would keep our one-track minds off of the only thing we think about lately. And since we’re limbo-living – and because tweaking our home again would just be insane (although I’m itching to build, paint and fuss) – we’re taking this time to hibernate (it’s cold here!), eat more soup than normal and craft. Craft for crafts sake! For fun.
I dug up this tutorial from How About Orange about creating bokeh shapes with your camera and went for it. I’ve thrown around the term bokeh in the past (haven’t I?), but it’s simply the out of focus area of a photograph, most visible (and magical) when there are highlights in the background. You’ll see this a lot around the holidays – on blogs, cards and commercials – those fuzzy, sparkling Christmas tree lights in the background and something in focus in the foreground. (See, for example, Jack + tree at the bottom of this post.)
But! Back to the bokeh shapes. By fashioning a little paper cap for your camera lens, you can force the bokeh to mimic any shape you choose – that is, as long as you can cut it (or you could cheat and use a paper punch, you fancy thing, you.)
What you need: black construction paper, a straight edge/ruler, scissors, X-acto knife, pencil/marker, tape and a DSLR with a lens that has a large aperture:
I used my 50 mm lens for this project, so I cut a strip of paper wide enough to cover and long enough to wrap around the lens. Then I cut a circle big enough to enclose my little “paper cap” and cut a pattern with the X-acto knife into each one. I made 3 inter-changeable circles – for triple the fun, obviously – and used tape to hold everything together. In the end, you should have a cap that’s snug on your camera lens, and it’ll look like this:
Now, onto the good part! As I mentioned, I used my 50mm lens for this project, and I set my camera to Manual mode (although Aperture Priority would work, too). To get these photos, we headed to Wicker Park on Saturday night – a busy, bustling neighborhood where we knew we could catch twinkling lights. We brought along a toy giraffe as our subject, and we went armed with our camera, tripod and bokeh caps.
To get the bokeh effect, I set my camera on the tripod and opened my aperture up to 1.8 and used a shutter speed of 1/15. To balance my large aperture on a dark night, my ISO was set to 400. Scott set up our little giraffe on the tops of news stands, bike racks and hand rails, and with my paper caps in place, I focused on the giraffe, causing the background to go out of focus (the bokeh!). Then, I took these:
Fun, right?! The out of focus background lights mimicked the shape of our paper caps (hearts and Xs), just as planned. It made for good conversation for those walking by, and we got a real kick out of it. While we were out and about, – and to further remove our brains from the one – we grabbed drinks and dinner with friends, and on the way home, we snagged a late night doughnut snack. (God love Chicago for selling fresh doughnuts at midnight.)
So, go forth! Create your bokeh shapes!
PS… Learn even more about bokeh and how to replicate it in these tutorials: here, here and here.
PPS… We had only one minor glitch during our outing; our giraffe fell from his perch so many times during our bokeh shoot (due to clumsiness, the rumbling train and passers by) that he now only has one ear and one ossicone (had to look that one up!). Scott has since nicknamed him Half-y Giraffe-y.
We’ve been dancing around the idea of a larger-to-us home for a while; it’s been a quest for more space, no more wall sharing, a yard for Jack and more room for the home studio as The Pet Shop (and soon-to-be Print Shop) continue to expand and grow. We’ve been marking yearly anniversaries around travel and new cities – all the while wondering, could we live here? We know there are so many more places we haven’t seen and want to visit (our list is long!), and it’s no surprise we fell in love with many of the places we’ve been.
All this travel has been to scheme our next move; we never thought of Chicago as the city we’d settle in – we figured we’d stay put for a handful of years, then move out west, or south, or… – but as Scott said earlier this year, we naturally compared every visited city to this city. As it turned out (and no planning could have seen this coming), Chicago has our heart.
In our eyes, this town has everything the “big” cities have to offer – and it does so with neighborhood charm, too. We have miles of beaches, warm summers, snowy winters, bike lanes, wide open green spaces, bustling streets and the best food! (And shopping!) It’s also a city of small bungalows, two-flats, three-flats, large condominium buildings and most every style of house in-between. And so, this January, we called a highly recommended realtor, right here in Chicago.
Together with her guidance, we did our research on current home prices, neighborhoods and what we could expect within our pre-approved price range. We set up a list of homes to see, set a date to get looking, and excitedly counted down the days to “House Hunting Day.” We walked through each home that day with an open mind, a fresh notebook and our camera.
We looked past the shabby finishes, peeling paint and old carpet. (Yes, even the ones you see here!) And finally, we considered our options within each of those homes, asking ourselves, can this wall come down? Can we finish this basement? Will this work for Jack? Maddie and Libby, too?
Then a crazy thing happened on that first day of hunting. We fell in love with a house.
We were so enthralled with the house, that by the time we walked out the front door, we realized we had no notes! No photos! After seeing a couple of houses before the one (and a few more after), it was as if we had walked into this home and couldn’t believe that it was an option – for us! We had walked from room to room, turning each corner expecting to find a hole in the roof or a flooded basement – none of which existed. Rather, all we could find were positives: It had a yard, a garage!, plenty of space for my studio, and bonus rooms, too – sunny nooks, hidden storage closets and a third bedroom. Sure, it needed a little love (okay, a lot in some areas), but we were willing to give it just that.
The whole home gave us that feeling. You know the one you say you’re supposed to get when you try on the wedding dress? Or when you adopt a pet and know within a second that he is the missing link? It was like that, multiplied by a hundred. A million! So, we put in our offer, and it was accepted. (With only minimal turmoil thrown in for good measure.)
But! As with anything, there’s one catch (ugh, right?): It’s a short sale. Now, we now find ourselves amidst a short sale shuffle, and we’re taking it one step at a time. We’ve since had a home inspection, and next comes bank approval. Then our bank approval. And only then can we celebrate.
The good news is that all parties see this as a best case scenario. Everyone involved is super motivated, and while the dreaded word short sale wasn’t music to our ears, we’re at least lucky enough that time is on our side; because, unfortunately, this process could take months. Or not. We don’t know! As for our current home, we’ll be renting it – a decision based upon the current Chicago market. (And yes, we will miss these walls so, so much.)
Truth be told, the superstitious side of us was hesitant to share all of this at first, but as you can imagine, it seems that the one is the only thing we talk about (over dinner, in the car, while walking Jack). It felt silly (unfair, even) to withhold our news with this incredible, supportive online community – aka, you.
And now? We wait.
Disclaimer! The photos in this post are what we saw on House Hunting Day, taken in several different vacant homes. Once we close the deal on “the one” (fingers crossed!), we’ll share much, much more. Again, superstition.