Job Hunt Must Haves // 30x30 Lives On

Way back when, I penned a list of 30 things to do by 30.  Welp.  I'm 30 now - and the list lives on - uncompleted.  I'm fine with it.  Some of the items on the list though, I didn't want to leave them uncompleted.  This is one of those things.  I really, really wanted to learn a bit about photoshop.  I wanted to be able to put my photos together sharply into grids, I wanted to be able to touch things up - or brighten up colors and, I really wanted to be able to create one of those cool boards you see on Pinterest.  I signed myself up for Online Blogshop because like I said earlier, I just couldn't get one of their in person classes to work.  

Here's to learning new things!  Here's to Online Blogshop!  Here's to 'this is getting pinned on pinterest'!  Here's to not judging my first try!  Here's to more practice!  Vive la Blog!

With all that out of the way, let's carry on.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
— -Albert Einstein

People who have had to look for work know one thing:  You Have To Keep Your Spirits Up.

Apparently, my ego was quite attached to my last job and, not knowing what's next threatens to crush my self esteem daily...if I let it...

Feeling positive is important.  I don't ever want an email I send or a voicemail I leave to sound anything less than Positive.  

Here's how I've been keeping myself feeling positive.

  1. When the day is done and I pretend that I just accomplished something huge.  Then I treat myself to a glass of wine.  These days it's Rosé.
  2. I invested in some business cards that I was proud to hand out.  I use for a lot of my printing needs because I like their style.
  3. I am maintaining a daily practice of gratitude.  I write down what I'm feeling grateful for and what I need to get done tomorrow.  It reminds me of how much I am blessed.
  4. I like school supplies.  Like, a lot.  I have a mini office area set up in what I call my 'find a job corner' of my apartment.  I'm diligently tracking who I send resumes to and when.  I track who I've applied with, who I've emailed, when they've emailed me back, etc.  Sharpies brighten this up and makes it a little bit more enjoyable.  What can I say.
  5. I be sure to keep fresh, colorful flowers throughout my pad.  It's winter - and sometimes it's grey outside - that does not scream feeling positive.  Flowers are Happy.  Boom.
  6. Green Candles.  This one might sound a little witchy but, green candles promote prosperity.  I have three green candles - I say a little prayer - I light them up - and then I send emails, resumes, apply to positions and wait for someone to snatch me up.

How do you stay positive?

30x30 :: Go Hot Air Ballooning




Going hot air ballooning was a big deal. When I called my Girl Cousin and asked her if she wanted to do this trip with me (cause you know...birthday buddies...) I said, 'I'm not going on a budget. I'm staying in a nice hotel...and I'm going on a balloon still in?'. She was in - so we booked our balloon ride with Napa Valley Balloons. Nautie Friends, they get an A+, yo. A big 'ole fat perfect score.

Our ballooning adventure is what you might call: giving up is for losers.

Originally, our platypus tour and balloon adventure were in conjunction with eachother - we'd be whisked away from our post balloon ride champagne breakfast to go on a wine tasting tour - or at least that's what I imagined...

We woke up briiight and early on our first day in Napa and were picked up at our hotel (it was still dark out kind of early). We got to the balloon check in point and to say that the staff of NVB (Napa Valley Balloons) was friendly is an absolute understatement.

Any which way, we take off for our balloon launch site. The balloons are there - they're getting filled up - the sun is making them look magical - we get assigned a balloon - we literally run for our balloon - and then it got windy.


I was literally laying in the basket (which is on its side) to help provide a little weight. The balloon is filling up - as in the burner is going and so are the fans. Take off was imminent - I mean, other balloons were drifting past our location (flown by other ballooning companies).



....and then the day was cancelled due to wind speeds. Wop Wop. It was surreal. We looked at each other and said, 'did that really just happen?'.

Perk? We got to watch them roll the balloons back up and there was a cute little dog who clearly knew the drill!


Thank goodness we had some wine tasting in our future because it did detract a bit from our horrible let down.

I'd also like to mention that I appreciate when things are cancelled due to safety concerns. You cancel anytime you like NVB! Don't you worry about those other balloons in the air! I'm happy to trust the judgement of an experienced pilot...must be the sailor in me...

But listen friends, is that anyway to WIN?! One day of high wind and you let it lie? Glad you're with me because it's NOT!

We rescheduled and woke up again at the butt crack of dawn! Day two. Hungover as all get out (thanks Platypus!) - we climbed back into the van for a ballooning adventure.


This is the only photo I have our day two adventure because the decision was made to ground the balloons as we pulled into the parking lot. I must admit we were a tad under the weather so going back to bed wasn't sounding too awful.

As we were driving through the Valley I turned to Girl Cousin and said, 'you know we could try one more time....I know you fly out in the morning but we could literally drive ourselves to the parking lot and head straight to the airport after we land....I mean we could...'. She said, 'let's do it!' so, I called NVB and asked to be put on the schedule one more our favorite pilot Bob's balloon of course.

Hence, day three in Napa commenced. With an early morning jaunt to Domaine Chandon with our fingers crossed!


Guess what? We actually went on a balloon ride! It was so different than I thought. Do you know that you really can't steer a balloon? You can go up and down - and the rest is up to the wind. Jeez, how symbolic is a balloon ride? Maybe a little like life, no?




Wanna know how sassy all that ballooning made me? I'm going again. Wanna know why? It was a tad cloudy on Day 3. Listen, I had some epic photos planned - don't get me wrong I got some good ones (over 350 in fact) but, I want to see a gilded Napa Valley - and I will!



Alright, I know what you're thinking. If you can't steer it how do you land? Well, I believe the answer is that you hope to have a decent pilot. We literally landed on a strip of gravel next to the highway. For realsies. We kind of skidded a long and then stopped. Then the 'chase crew' tries to get all the air out of the balloon as fast as they can. (I also forgot to mention that part - while we're in the air there is a team in a truck that shadows us - like storm chasers - might be a fun job!)



By opening the flap at the top they're able to quickly dump the hot air from the balloon. Then they kind of stretch it out. If you stand in front of it you can feel the heat coming out in waves (it makes for good pictures, too).



There you have it friends. A balloon ride. An 'effin BALLOON RIDE!


What? Oh, you'd like to see more photos? No problem! There are hundreds!

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In case you'd like more Napa Love you can read about Day One and Two but clearly, I've been saving the best for last! A mini disclaimer: as I rang in The Flirty Thirty I was feeling a little uncertain about what to do with my 30x30 List. Then I thought, 'it's not over till it's over'. I've got a whole year of being thirty ahead of me folks. It's not over. Be looking for more 30x30 posts! I think the balloon ride adventures let me know that 'settling' isn't always the best option. Do more! See more! Be more!

30x30 :: One HUNDRED Dollars.

two fifties. I had this terribly romantic notion of dropping a hundred dollar bill into a street musicians hat.  I imagined myself in Paris or NYC leisurely strolling through a Metro or Subway station on my way to something chic.  I could hear a violinist or pianist or an ultra rad dude playing percussion on 5 gallon buckets and garbage can lids.

I thought I hit pay dirt when I was on my Road Trip.  I was sitting at Cafe du Monde sipping a Cafe au Lait and nibbling on a beignet when I heard some brass.  Hardcore brass.  Across the street was a group of young men - there were trumpets, trombones and even a french horn.  There was one very large bass drum for a little beat.  They were singing every now and then but mostly they were just jamming.

I was sitting there working up my courage to walk across the street and throw a hundred dollar bill in their pail when I noticed two ladies walking towards them down the sidewalk.

The ladies were chatting away and sort of looked like they were on their way to work.

All of a sudden the young men had completed surrounded them.  They were behind them making crude gestures.  They were cat calling.

I was totally grossed out.

They didn't get my  hundred bucks.

My next plan was that I was going to drop it into a Salvation Army red can - you know the Christmas time one where the person rings the bell all season long.

I imagined that I'd be doing my Uncle Rocket some mad honor.  He liked to put a little somethin' somethin' in the red can.

As neurotic as this sounds I just couldn't find a bell ringer I liked.

I'd walk into the store with my hundred dollar bill burning a hole in my pocket an then I'd think....they are not ringing the bell loudly enough.

Then, I was sitting in church.  At home in Hilo on my mini vacay.  I was feeling comfortable.  I was feeling like life is good.

So I dropped two fifties in the offering plate.

30x30 :: BOKEH

20. Do the cool camera trick where you get shapes of light by covering the lens with a cut out (bokeh?)

After doing a little research I can in fact confirm that this cool camera trick is called BOKEH.  A more thorough description can be found here but, in a nutshell, bokeh means blur in Japanese.

I can't exactly explain why but I've always wanted to take a photo where my lights were shaped like hearts.  It just seems so magical.  I spend a lot of time with my camera - a little magic was well deserved.

My nights have been pretty mellow in Houston - mostly because I don't have television or internet - and no things.  I needed to get creative....I figured that Big Bertha was chomping at the bit to get some time out of the purse...what better time to bokeh the night away?!

I read a few online tutorials (like this one and this one) and decided to give it a whirl however; in typical Megan fashion I read the instructions and then did my own thing....which didn't exactly work out.

The premise:  You cover your camera lens with a dark piece of paper with your desired shape cut out.  Then you adjust your camera to aperture priority - or you become a magician with manual settings.

My first try consisted of a brown paper bag cut to fit over the lens with a hair elastic to hold it in place...this let in waaay too much light.

way too much light.

I tried a paper bag in several different ways - no luck.  Then I decided to try a paper bag from my lanai...


Because it was so much darker out there I could kind of get it to look like hearts.

I was running into several problems.  I didn't have the 50mm lens that every tutorial recommended.  I had my two kit lenses:  18-105 and 75-300.  This meant that I needed to zoom in on something further away.  I had decent results with my much larger lens on objects across the street (the above photo is using a brown paper bag zoomed in on streetlights).  I also didn't have the black poster board that was recommended.

Road Trip!  I zoomed off to target and bought a piece of poster board and some black electrical tape.

I sat in the driver seat and constructed a cap for my lens like the second tutorial recommends.

Can you see the cap placed on the end?

(Does it ever crack you up when you try to recreate a craft project and yours looks like a Kindergartener made it?!)


Their Cap.



NAILED IT.  (insert light hearted chuckle...)

(Also, I needed to make one small modification...The heart shape wasn't big enough so I cut a circle their and then cut out a larger heart that I taped over this one...)

Then, I looked like a total creeper and sat in my car in the Target parking lot with my telephoto lens.  I pretty much had it down at this point...things were going well.

I zoomed over to my favorite christmas light display (sorry, this was pre-hawaii trip).  (Canadiaunt - remember that tree that had large tendrils of lights with balls hanging from the tree?)

Next problem - I couldn't stay steady enough.

the wrong kind of blurry.

I came to my next realization.  You HAVE to have a tripod.  There really isn't an option.

I went home and decided to reconvene my mission on the following day.

The next evening - tripod in tow I went back to my tree.

Pretty Hearts!


The tripod is majorly the answer.

Then, not only did I feel like a creeper but, I felt like I was going to get busted by the neighborhood watch.  I had my tripod set up - with my telephoto lens - crouched behind my car - kneeling on the street - pointing my camera at peoples homes to capture their christmas lights.  How exactly would you explain that?!  'Oh don't worry, I'm just trying to take heart shaped photos of christmas lights?!' - Riiiight.

Any which way - it worked.  I used my big lens, I stayed further away from the lights and zoomed in and I used a tripod.


My favorite photo of the evening.  Slightly out of focus angels made up of hearts.

Wanna see more?  No Problemo:

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30x30 :: Host A Tea Party

I really wanted to have a Tea Party - and there just didn't seem to be a good time to do it. I decided this one was do or die.  My friends were never all going to be able to come.  The weather was never going to be just perfect.  I was never going to have a Jane Austen worthy garden to sip tea in.

Then I decided if it's my party I can do whatever the eff I want and call it whatever the eff I want.

I hosted a tea party and there was not a single damn drop of tea served.

Now, Mimosa's?  Mimosa's were served.

It ended up being a very small gathering of some of my favorite people.  There was even a baby and a dog.

I had a yougurt bar.  (With homemade yougurt - heeey yo! Mamacholla!) Cheese and crackers of course.  (Served on a silver sailboat platter - woot! Em you da bomb! - tucked between world class art - House Ladies you got some skilllz!)  There was coffee cake and Baked Brie.  Get this, there was even Lobster Quiche!

There was a coffee station - serving orange goodness' of course.  The real attraction?  The Mimosa's.

Fall colored flowers in mason jars made the day feel extra special.

All in all?  I'm calling The Tea Party...a Success!









30x30 :: Make Yogurt

A couple weeks ago (i.e. before I went to Houston) I got together with my Bestie and made yogurt. You guys, it was so insanely easy. In fact, it was so insanely easy that I'm going to gloss over the details and give you the basics.

Here ya go: pick the kind of milk you like (we used organic whole milk because some of it was for baby cakes. You easily could use skim.). Get it hot - you need a thermometer. Scrape off the skim. Let it cool - again, use the thermometer. Add your starter (you can easily steal some from a friend or you can buy some plain yogurt at the store). You'll only need a few spoonfuls. Stir it all in and then pour into your individual containers. Now you need to keep it at the perfect temp. A gas stove with a pilot light will work - or you can use a yogurt maker. I kinda recommend the yogurt maker - if you're a yogurt eater like me it will pay for itself in no time - they're about 30 bucks.

Once your yogurt has thickened put it in the fridge and eat it up! (Also, I didn't eat it all before I went to Houston and it was fine when I got back...the mini jars last a long time! Bonus!)

I'm glad I added this to the list. It was easy, cheap and tasty! I know I'll make it again.