Monday, October 24, 2016

London Highlights

Before leaving Europe back in August, I stopped in London for a couple of days to sight-see. Greg loves London, and so while I was glad that he was home with the kids, I also wished that he could have gone around London with me those couple of days (and, say, get afternoon tea at The Orangery at Kensington Palace).

After I arrived in Heathrow on Friday morning, I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington station. The hotel I booked (Mitre House) was only a couple of blocks from the station. I was able to check in early and drop off my luggage before heading back out to explore. The first afternoon, I took the tube from Paddington station to Picadilly. I also went over to 221B Baker Street. Although I thought about checking out the Sherlock Holmes museum, it must've been a tour stop, because the line to get in was crazy long. I headed back to the hotel before it got dark, and found a place to eat dinner nearby, Salt & Honey Bistro.

The second day, I explored some other parts of London, including Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, and went over to Buckingham Palace. I also saw a play, Mamma Mia, and really enjoyed it (because, plays!). After that, I had dinner at Dishoom, which a former co-worker who now lives in London recommended.

Sunday morning, the day that I flew back to the US, I decided to just hang out at a nearby cafe in between checking out of the hotel and heading back to the airport.

Kensington Palace gardens:
London Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Westminster Abbey:
London Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Dinner at Salt & Honey Bistro the first night (top) and Dishoom the second night (bottom):
London Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Friday, October 21, 2016

Durham (UK) Highlights

The second half of my work trip to Europe in August, I stayed a couple nights in Durham.

I didn't know anything about Durham, really, before we showed up at the hotel after work the first night in northern UK. My old-town-loving self was then pleased as punch when we drove into Durham and saw a castle on the hill, and our hotel at the base of the hill right in the thick of the city center.

After work the first night, in spite of it being chilly, somewhat rainy, and me battling a cold, we walked up to the castle and cathedral to poke around. It was all very quaint, with the historic buildings and cobblestone streets.

Durham (UK) Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Top-left: on the way up to the castle
Top-right: the cathedral - we went in for a few minutes and there was a program going on, choir and all
Bottom-left: the castle
Bottom-right: Durham Market Place

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Milan Highlights

During my work trip to Europe in August, my first stop was in Milan. I left Phoenix Friday night after work. Unfortunately, it was also the night a storm rolled through and delayed the flight to London, which made me miss my connection to Milan.

I stayed overnight in London and headed back to Heathrow the next morning, where I grabbed breakfast before the flight:
Milan Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Getting into Milan:
Milan Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Duomo di Milano - there were pretty long lines to go in, so I just poked around the plaza:
Milan Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Stop for gelato at a cafe near the Duomo:
Milan Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Castello Sforzesco - it's free to walk around the grounds:
Milan Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Dinner at the hotel after an afternoon exploring the city center:
Milan Highlights | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Milan had a pretty good subway system that is easy to ride, so I bought a 24-hour pass and was able to take the subway around between the city center and the hotel. I ended up having Sunday afternoon to explore Milan by the time I got to my hotel and dropped off my luggage, but since I mostly stuck to the city center, that was enough time for me to hit up the major sights in that city center area.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Puma Asymmetrical Jacket

In the last couple of weeks or so, the weather seems to have cooled down some here in Phoenix, especially at night and in the early morning. With that comes proclamations of "Fall!" and "Sweater weather!" on social media from others who live in Phoenix. In contrast to the last couple/few years, it seems the weather didn't really cool off until closer to Halloween (at least from what I can remember, because memories are infallible, right?).

Although it's hard for me to buy very many basics at Costco like Greg can (jeans, especially) because my build is petite while Greg's is solidly average, I do occasionally come across pieces that can work for me. While at Costco a couple of weeks ago, I came across a Puma asymmetrical jacket, and I thought "ooh!" and added one to my armful of items to purchase in short order.

I've seen and been a fan of this style in the past, and so I thought I'd also do a quick round-up of a few other jackets out there in this asymmetrical style.
Puma Asymmetrical Jacket | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

  1. Puma asymmetrical jacket
  2. North Face Arcata hoodie
  3. North Face Portia fleece jacket
  4. North Face Sharlet wrap
  5. Inphorm asymmetrical tennis jacket
  6. Wilsons Leather polished classic leather cycle jacket

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tips for Monthly Baby Photos

Before I had my first child, I decided that I would make a point of taking monthly baby photos for the first 12 months. I was inspired by others I'd seen online posting about wonderfully cute monthly photos, including Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely. The idea of seeing the progression from one month to one year was also very appealing, and conveniently, I'd also been gifted a set of girl-themed monthly onesie stickers.

By the time I had my second child, there were aspects of the monthly baby photo-taking process that I changed up to make it an easier, more repeatable experience.

12 Months of Parker Project Life Layout | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Camera + Set-up + Photographer

What I did the first time
I asked my husband to help me take photos with his DSLR each month in front of a white studio backdrop. This ultimately turned out to be more hassle than it was worth, because I was reliant on someone else to help me not only take pictures (with a DSLR that I don't know how to use myself very well), but also set up the lighting and backdrop each time.

How I changed it for the second time:
I switched to taking photos on my phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, especially given the improvements in smartphone camera quality in the four years since my daughter was a baby. This meant that I could take the photos at my convenience/desire and not have to be dependent on anyone else to help.


What I did the first time:
Some monthly photos were taken at night. Others were taken during the day and in an extra bedroom where there wasn't as much natural light. So in general, the lighting situation was not very good or consistent.

How I changed it for the second time:
I made a point of taking photos around mid-day in the front living room where there would be plenty of natural light once I opened all the shutters.

Pose + Props

What I did the first time:
I didn't pose my daughter with any sort of consistent item for size reference each month (::cough:: rookie ::cough::). I also tried to sit my daughter up for each picture, except for the first two months when she couldn't sit up by herself.

How I changed it for the second time:
With my son, I "flatlayed" him every month on the same blanket, so that he was (a) roughly in the same pose every month and (b) could be quickly sized up against the blanket each month. (You like how I turned "flatlay" into a verb and used it on a person?)

What I didn't change

The couple of things that I didn't change between the two were that they both wore white onesies for each pictures and they both had monthly onesie badges.

For all the work that went into taking 12 months of photos for both kids, I'm sorely behind on the scrapbooking aspect. Using Project Life, I started to scrapbook monthly photos of Evie, but those are still in progress, and I haven't even started anything for Parker beyond the layout above using the Project Life app. I'm slowly chipping away at it during craft nights!

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