Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo State Park

I love field trips especially when I get to go. This month's field trip was at the Ano Nuevo State Park, just over an hour drive away from school and it was such a great experience. Our passionate docent led us on a beautiful hike, stopping and learning about the history, culture and ecosystem of this natural preserve. I had as much to learn as the children did. We walked through prairies, sand dunes and wet marshes, stopping for bathroom breaks and once for lunch. The highlight of the whole trip was of course to see the elephant seals. I want to say they are very cute but I don't know if that is a term one would use for such colossal pinnipeds (they weigh over two tons). 

It is mating season for them. The males exert their dominance and fight in the process sometimes hurting themselves badly. At one time, we had to take a slight detour because there were two of them fighting right there on the wooden pathway. 

What a treat to have one of the largest breeding colonies for elephant seals to be within driving distance from home. 

POP Parents: Click here

Happy Valentine's Day To Everyone

Happy Valentine's Day everyone...

Love is for everyone.
It does not choose nor divide. 
Love is for babies, boys and girls...
It's for the young and old, for single, couples, and undetermined (!)
...and most of all, love is for YOU. 

Oftentimes when we think of love, we think of love outwards...we love to give love, but when was the last time we have given ourselves love?  Once I have learned to love myself and be a little easy on myself, I began to have this lighter feeling about myself..more accepting of my flaws, my shortcomings and I do pat myself on the back more often. The great thing is, this light, positive energy cannot contain itself within -- it naturally flows outwards through the heart, through our skin and just out there in the world to absorb. So that's my take on this V-day!

LOOK: My son sent his first love note!  and some photos too!


Project Life App - For Documenting Life on the GO!

The urge to go back to focusing on personal photography, daily journals, and everyday documentation of life is stronger than ever.  But between work and single parenting, how do I find the time? Then I discovered Project Life (PL). Actually I learned about PL a while back when Becky Higgins first started the "movement." I bought my first PL Kit, and two more after that. I have to say that I just completed my first album recently and that was my son's 2013 album. At this rate, I will never be able to catch up.

Until I installed the Project Life App. I cannot believe how ridiculously easy and fast it is to select, drag and drop photos on the PL pages. I can easily select coordinating cards and even write or dictate-to-text my thoughts on the available journal cards. I am so blown away. As it is in digital format, I am antsy as to be able to touch them and of course, file them in my 12 x 12 Binder. I know a lot of people who have gone digital wait until the end of the year to get theirs printed into one album.  I like that too but I cannot wait that long. Perhaps I will just make a separate photo book. So for now, I decided to have the first few pages I made with the app printed through Persnickety Prints. They were so fast and the pages were lovely. I was worried with the quality of the prints as they were all photos taken with my smartphone, but they turned out to be very good.

I am hoping to be able to do a little bit of digital and actual scrapping.  But for now, I am just happy that I got started and within a day or so completed my entire January 2015 pages. Below are some of the pages I created all done from a smart phone.

Here are some of the other apps I use in conjunction with my Project Life App :

  1. iDoneThis - This is my favorite app. This is where I put everything that I did for the day. I set an alert to prompt me to enter things I did and I reference this if I want to remember what I did on a particular day.

  2. Collect Photo Journal - Super cool app! I can add a photo a day, choose how I want the photo to be formatted and be able to include some journaling to it and select a calendar date template to display it.  I know there will be a time I will get this added into one of my PL pages as it fits perfectly in those 2x3 slots.
  3. Day One App - This is my online diary protected by a 4 digit passcode. If there are some thoughts that I deem super private, I write them here. Perhaps one day I can be able to be more open in my blog but for now, those private thoughts remain private.

PRINTER: If I don't order my prints or layouts through Persnickety Prints and get the urge to do paper scrapbooking,
Canon Selphy CP 910 is my go to printer. I love LOVE this printer. I love that it takes up very little real estate on my desk, it prints over wi-fi and I use their app to print photos directly from my iPhone. It is super EASY to use.  I can print both 4 x 6 or (2) 3 x4 in a snap.

SCANNER: At some point, I do plan to scan the artwork that Troy takes home from school. Right now, I am using my scanner to scan everything (receipts, documents, etc). but school work.  But when I do, I will default of course to the scanner I already have: Scan Snap 1100  Just like my Selphy, this scanner takes up so little space but does the work of a regular scanner.

My go-to photo editing apps on the smartphone are: PicTapGo!, Snapseed (especially for those photos where I need to fine tune, lighten or darken a particular area) and my favorite, VSCOFilms.

Anyway, I am just so excited that I was able to do all these pages in a flash. No sit down commitment in front of my computer, no heavy thinking...just on the go type of thing and before I knew it, I already completely my January month Project Life pages. 

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Pura Vida = Playa Guiones, Nosara and Tabacon

It takes about 3 hours from the Liberia Airport to get to Nosara. A little bit more if you miss the right turn after you pass the Samara Gas Station. As of the last visit, there are no more signs indicating the turn to Nosara. At some point, you will realize it as you arrive in the town of Samara. From there you will have to go back to Nicoya and then drive uphill to bring you to the dirt roads of Nosara. 

Located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica on the northern pacific coast, Nosara is home to pristine beaches, 6km of consistent surf breaks and stunning sunsets. There are no high rise buildings nor massive hotel presence. Instead, green, lush protected jungle (green zone) separates the beaches from any establishments or attractions. In fact, environmental laws are strictly enforced by conservationists (comprised mainly of members from the large expat community) and that all development starts 1km off the beach: Preservation first over profit.

Playa Guiones in Nosara is a mecca for expats, surfers and yogis. The unpaved roads, the quirky smell of molasses glazed on the grounds to keep the dust down, the dense jungle and thick vegetation gives away the fact that preserving simplicity is of utmost importance. It is raw, rural and unpretentious. So unless you are seeking tranquility, serenity, peace, learning how to surf or getting your 300 hours of yoga teacher training, this may not be the place for you. 

It usually takes some convincing and even more time to "pluck" me away from working. But somehow, I've managed to visit Nosara three times in eleven months! I would work remotely for a few days and then take a certain number of days off. But regardless of whether I am working or not, I feel so isolated from the world...in a good way. I feel so isolated from the worries and ambitions of the world. Because in Costa Rica, it is PURA VIDA - pure life and Solo Bueno - All is well!

Cameras:
Here are the photos I took from the most recent trip. I took the photos using a Fuji Film mirrorless camera, some from my Canon MkII and a lot from my Samsung Note 4 smartphone (some photos of which were automatically uploaded to my FB account and are not featured here). There are two sets of images here.  One was from Nosara and the other, from Tabacon, a grand spa thermal resort in the heart of La Fortuna/ Arenal Volcano, 4 hours away from Nosara.  

 
Glorious Sunsets 

Glorious Sunsets 

Garrobo (small alligator / iguana)

Garrobo (small alligator / iguana)

Believe me when I say, this guy is the best surfer in Nosara!

Believe me when I say, this guy is the best surfer in Nosara!

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My favorite food: tico breakfast: gallo rice, bacon, eggs and plaintains

My favorite food: tico breakfast: gallo rice, bacon, eggs and plaintains

Playa Pelada
a small fishing village where you can buy fish straight out of the boat

La Luna Restaurant at Playa Pelada, a perfect sunset dinner with a dear friend and local artist, Nathan. 

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La Fortuna/ Arenal Volcano / Tabacon, Grand Thermal Spa Resort

 

We traveled for 4 long hours to La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano

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San Juan Bautista, A 4th Grade Field Trip

"Yes, I'm driving."

My son was ecstatic that I was one of the volunteer parent drivers.

So what else is a mom going to do when she sees a beautiful, scenic place as the Old Mission San Juan Bautista? Take photos of course!

There is such a wealth of history in this place and it is definitely worth the drive with or without a field trip. I highly recommend visiting this historic site. 

All photos were taken with a Fuji X-E2 camera and a 56mm f1.2 lens, loaned to me by my good friend Sheldon. Photos were processed in Lightroom 5.6 using a combination of VSCO Film emulations. I have to say, my friend may have just convinced me to jump on a Fuji camera.  I LOVE IT!

If you wish to use any of these photos, just ask. Be nice and give credit to: Owen Donnahoo, Most Precious Art Photography.  Thank you and happy viewing!

San Juan Bautista


2014 Fleet Week From the Rooftop by Telegraph Hill in SF

It was an unusual hot day but oh what a glorious day to get together with friends old and new.  Here are some photos from the party...errr...the Blue Angels performance.  

If you wish to use these photos for your blog, please just ask for permission via the Contacts page and don't forget to include credits : Owen Donnahoo, Most Precious Art Photography. 

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Holiday Mini-Sessions Are Here - Book Now to Reserve Your Spot

School is now in session and I don't know about you, but it sure was a fast summer! And look what's here?  Yes, Holiday Mini Sessions!!!  Woot! Woot!

Start early and get this checked-off your list. Avoid the stress of getting your family photos done before the holiday season rush and you'll be glad you did!

Upon booking, I will contact you to agree on a date and time to shoot. We can do your session at a nearby park or at your home. I will also guide you on how to dress your entire family so you will look amazing in your photographs.  Last but not least, I promise you we will have lots of fun!

Click on the image or this link to proceed with booking your session.

Celebrating a New Mom | Beauty Portrait Session

She is a woman. She is MOM...beautiful, loving, nurturing.

Six weeks post delivery to her baby Brandon, I wanted this Beauty Photo Shoot of Nikki to serve
as a pause from her sleepless nights of feeding and caring for her newborn. Our bodies go through so many changes each time we go through pregnancy and sometimes, a little reminder and celebration of how our bodies are blessed with the ability to carry life into this world is a good thing. 

I would love to photograph as many women as I can and make them feel, remind them that they are beautiful....at any given point in their life. 

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Sophia's Summer Portraits | Redwood City, Ca | Children Photography

Sophia's mom said: "You know she lost some teeth, right?"

Sometimes, we want to wait for just the right time to do things.  And yes, good timing is a good thing.  But sometimes, there is no better time than today.  And I am glad we did it!

Sophia and her family will always have these images of her with her front teeth missing to look back on and I'm going to guess, they will all be smiles.  

Sophia's brother Alan came along and so 5 minutes before our photo shoot ended, he made a cameo and look at how cute they are!

4 Month-old Hearthrob

I visited this little guy yesterday and my goodness, I am in-love!

It was nice meeting you Alex and you welcomed me with those big blue eyes and smiles that melted my heart.

I am going to find reasons to visit you again.  You have an amazing mommy and daddy!

Reagan's Summer Photo Shoot

There are summer rains, summer rainbows and summer smiles. Hues of blues, greens and pinks, some are bright and some are muted...she skips, she cheers, she giggles.

It was an ordinary afternoon turned wonderful and awesome because of this young lady. 

Thank you sunshine.  You definitely lit my world and put a smile in my heart. Hope you enjoyed our time together and may you treasure these photos for many, many years.

School's Out for Mr. Troyee

Another school year is over for Troy and I am just grateful for the amazing year he has had. I am so proud of my little man for the person he is growing up to be. He is kind, loving, open, grounded and caring. He studied very well this year, garnering an A+ status and even getting invited twice to a special breakfast with his teacher, Mrs. Metz for never missing to turn in an assignment. This year, he played football (tackle and flag) and basketball for sports and he also completed his Wolf scout requirements which means he will be advancing to Webelos in the fall. He  celebrated his 9th birthday in the fall, snowboarded during the winter and performed a solo dance number at his school's spring talent show.

While school is out and summer camp is now in full swing, I am taking a moment to enjoy the many moments that made this year, his best year yet. He has made new friendships throughout the year and has shown no signs of stopping meeting new friends during the summer. He is my bucket filler and has filled other's buckets with so much happiness that he is just absolutely a joy to be around with.

We have a lot of things planned this summer and since I share custody with his dad, I am hoping to make everyday I have him, a great day. He has given me so much joy that he fills my heart with so much gratitude. He is my sunshine, my moon, my smile, my dream. And he tells me every time: "You are the best mom ever.  I love you, mommy! Can I get a massage at night time?"

Here's my digital Project Life layout for Week 23 . While there are photos I took from our adult swimming party, I realized that I don't really need to represent them in photos (journaling is enough) especially if they somehow do not flow well in my pages.  I am re-learning and happy to be documenting life again.

Nathan Miller, Artist, Surfer, Nature and Animal Lover in Costa Rica

On my second trip to Costa Rica, I had the wonderful opportunity to do a photo shoot with full-time wild life artist, Nathan Miller. He grew up in Florida, went to school in Israel and worked as a graphic designer in Texas prior to him settling to Nosara, Costa Rica.

His deep love for nature and animals, surfing and desire to go back to painting led him to Pura Vida. As an artist, his work speaks for itself.  He captures the deep jewel colors and spirit of Guanacaste: from the women, the surfers and the wild life. As a person, he carries one of the biggest, most gentle hearts one can ever find. He is very sweet, can carry a great conversation, and probably the best looking, single dude in Nosara :) I am lucky to call him now, my friend.  Hint, hint....here is where to find him:

http://costaricawildart.com/
http://society6.com/nathanmiller

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Got Week 22 of 2014 Documented in Project Life

My very first share of digital Project Life Pages.  This was Week 22 of 2014.  I made 4 layouts for this past week because there were big events that took place: Roadtrip with the bf, my son's talent show, and bf son's 9th birthday! And then a bunch of other moments that I couldn't just ignore.  I have Week 1-21 to catch up on so wish me luck in getting those done.  

Most of the digital assets I used were from the Just Add Color Collection and Sahlin Studio Melon Sorbet Cards. If you need more detailed info, just contact me :)

Photos from Venice Beach, California

There are moments when what I feel dictates where I want to be and this past memorial weekend spent in Venice Beach, California hit the spot. It was gritty, loud, urban, grungy and amidst it all, there was beauty, art, and acceptance. 

Originally, the bf and I were going to drive to Santa Barbara. Yes, by the area around Isla Vista where the shooting rampage of a young, deranged misogynist man carried out his “war on women.” We felt lucky we weren’t there but extremely sad for those families who lost a loved one that day. Anyway, I don’t want to get started ranting on that as I already carry so much sadness and anger in my heart. In fact, the whole point of driving somewhere was to release some of these feelings and let go.

When my friend Ana lost her battle with cancer and passed away last March, it was Costa Rica that helped me in my healing journey. She was beautiful, kind and pristine just like the beaches and town of Playa Guinoes.  This time around, I welcomed that grittiness, funky and edgy carnival atmosphere that is Venice Beach. The art walls shouted and the boardwalk filled with the homeless, the skateboarders and hippies were in your face. Within walking distance was the dreamy community along the 16 miles of beautiful canals, the idyllic ground for creative inspiration and artistic pursuits. And just west of Lincoln Blvd, boho-chic shops peppered with restaurants serving good food and wine lined the historic Abbot Kinney Boulevard.  Yes, just the right ensemble of eclecticism and individualism for my taste and my mood. 

Just a few weeks, ago, I lost a special someone…someone once very important to me. He decided he didn’t want to live anymore so he left this world hastily. I cannot even begin to express the pain, the sadness and the anger I feel. I have no choice but to deal with it internally while continuing to enjoy the life I have with my loved ones right now, right here. 

Here are the photos.  I am starting once again to document life via Project Life Digital Scrapbooking and I will be sharing those more as I get further along. Check these out if you haven't been to this part of California and see if this is something you might want to check out for yourself!

View From The Hotel Erwin Balcony

Venice Adventure

Venice Art Walls - you need a permit to paint otherwise it's vandalism

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Restaurant on Promenade
She sat there the whole time hugging the dog while the rest of her family ate.

She sat there the whole time hugging the dog while the rest of her family ate.

Definitely the vibe for everything yoga, paleo, organic and chic

Restoration Hardware for Baby and Child - My jaw dropped at how dreamy this place was.  The folks at this store didn't allow me to use my big camera: "You can only take pictures with that"  pointing to my iPhone :(

Restoration Hardware for Baby and Child - My jaw dropped at how dreamy this place was.  The folks at this store didn't allow me to use my big camera: "You can only take pictures with that"  pointing to my iPhone :(

At the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

At the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

There's my man - smile honey!

There's my man - smile honey!

There were some interesting characters at the market but they will only allow me to take pictures if I pay them or buy something from their shop...bummer!

Venice Canals. Mr. Abbot Kinney wanted to replicate the Venice Renaissance so he made this idyllic community with all the money he has  from his cigarette manufacturing fortune.

Venice Canals. Mr. Abbot Kinney wanted to replicate the Venice Renaissance so he made this idyllic community with all the money he has  from his cigarette manufacturing fortune.

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I so love this open concept living.. For a second, I thought I could move here but then again, what would I do with my kids?  LOL!

I so love this open concept living.. For a second, I thought I could move here but then again, what would I do with my kids?  LOL!

Shop at Abbot Kinney Blvd. Love this boho chic vibe

Shop at Abbot Kinney Blvd. Love this boho chic vibe

Nope...I refuse to smell your armpit!

Nope...I refuse to smell your armpit!

Dinner with friends.  Hmm, I just realized we didn't take pics with our other dinner dates the following evening...oh well...

Dinner with friends.  Hmm, I just realized we didn't take pics with our other dinner dates the following evening...oh well...

Favorite breakfast: Poached eggs and smoked salmon

Favorite breakfast: Poached eggs and smoked salmon

The bf loves to sleep in but I was starving...

The bf loves to sleep in but I was starving...

Barlo could really be a cool place to eat but service sucked!  Too bad food was good :(

Barlo could really be a cool place to eat but service sucked!  Too bad food was good :(

10 PM at Hana Sushi...Yummy toro!

10 PM at Hana Sushi...Yummy toro!

Staring at this while eating my 2 for 1 empanadas

Staring at this while eating my 2 for 1 empanadas

Talk to me about this

Talk to me about this

The world of ticky tacky begins..both the shops and the people

The world of ticky tacky begins..both the shops and the people

I got busted! 

I got busted! 

They biked, and we ran for miles so we can eat later.

They biked, and we ran for miles so we can eat later.

Who wants to workout and show off in public?  Surely, not I.

Who wants to workout and show off in public?  Surely, not I.

Skaters

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Skate park
What is a road trip without a KitKat Bar?

What is a road trip without a KitKat Bar?

Third Year in the Talent Show

So proud of my little T today as he performed a dance solo at his school's Talent Show. This was his third year and I applaud him for taking the initiative to get up there and danced his heart out.

Huge thanks also goes to his big brother for taking the time to teach him the moves.  There is nothing more pleasing than to see these two practice for countless of hours. I'm a happy mom.

Template: #paisleepress PS Brush: #sahlinstudio  

Template: #paisleepress PS Brush: #sahlinstudio
 

Reasons Why I'm Going on a Memorial Day Road Trip

I'm super excited!
Memorial Day Road Trip Reasons:

1.  It's a long weekend with no kids so why not.
2. Spend quality time with the bf.
3. Escape from the heaviness, sadness, anger even of losing someone tragically. RIP.
4. Californication. The bf got me hooked and I just have to sniff notorious Hank Moody's hood.
5. Beach, Sun, Explore, Live Life.

Wherever the road may take you, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Roadtrip

A Little Bit of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Key West

Throwback Thursday on a non-Thursday (because  I like to bend 'em rules sometimes).

Lately, my mind has taken me back to last year's escapade in Florida.  If not for these pictures, I wouldn't remember as much (because I was always drunk).  Glad I took them and I get to re-live the crazy times I once had in this very unique place.  I want to visit again and make new memories.

Pictures posted were selected based on their PG rating :)