Thursday, January 22, 2009

022|365 Corks

I like wine. Clearly. I like saving the corks too - sometimes from a fabulous bottle and other times from a memorable moment. And today I had nothing else to photography or say so it is officially "cork day."

021|365 Lunch at the Blue Plate Cafe

I gotta tell you, I like the Blue Plate Cafe better than the Blue Plate Special or the Blue Haired Ladies. Steve and I were in Memphis to meet with share digital check-up results with a client and were having a somewhat stressful morning. The hotel coffee was weak, the Internet service negligible and my attitude poor. We went through the deck (great job Sal!) and raced to Starbucks to get some decent coffee. I got on a conference call when I was there, which ran long, which made it look like lunch before the meeting was going to be a pipe dream. We decided to jump in the rental, drive over a curb and try to find somewhere to eat. As we were zipping down a highway we found the Blue Plate Cafe.

How bright. So cute. Not a chain. We decided to give it a shot. I can vouch for the navy bean soup and biscuits. After being fully caffeinated and nourished we were able to have a great meeting. Other than the Blue Plate Cafe it was pretty much business as usual, although I have to say that I really enjoyed the digital discussion with the client. I also have to confess, I could have done without Steve trying to break into my room or some of his channel selections when we were working late the night before. 'nuff said.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

020|365 Quiet

Wow! Inauguration day. Congratulations President Obama.

Surprisingly I got out of DC today and headed to Memphis for a client meeting. The DC airport was so quiet that it was almost spooky. I have never seen this airport like this, but I have to confess that I loved flying through security, finding a seat and power cord at my gate with no problems. and boarding a flight with no jostling for luggage space and seat belts.

On a sad note, today would have been Kevin's 38th birthday. I still have moments that I can't believe he is gone, and I am sad that he isn't here to celebrate this moment in history. He was an avid follower of politics and was a Barack Obama fan...and honestly, he saw this day coming long before I did. I took a moment to look back through my photoset, Remembering Kevin, and thought about all the fun we had and how much he contributed to my life in the relatively short time we had as friends. I still draw in his guidance professionally and realize that I miss the banter - the ongoing text messaging all day, every day. Happy Birthday Kevin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

019|365 Black Tie & Boots

How cool is it that Barack Obama has been elected president? Political beliefs aside, I think it is a great day for our country. I'm really happy to have gotten the chance to celebrate this piece of history by kicking up my feet at the Texas "Black Tie and Boots" inaugural ball.

The photo is of my good friends Chris and Jan Foster and Connie Falvo, another good friend from Transitions. We had a GREAT time. Food, drinks, dancing and great company. Thanks Chris for scoring the tickets and arranging everything, and Jan, it was absolutely awesome to continue our tradition of election-related festivities. And Connie, it was great to start a new tradition with you!

The whole day was great, from the moment we checked in to the Hilton. They had adorable Obama cookies with fresh apples and a story about Abraham Lincoln, and Obama family water bottles. Yes, they were corny but I'll take free bottled water in a hotel room any way I can get it. Then Connie and I ventured to the Fashion Centre mall for manis/pedis and some shopping before the party. There were kids on field trips everywhere and the mall was all decked out for the special occasion. The ball itself was a ton of fun and included the opportunity to get our photo taken with the presidential seal, a Texas fair, authentic Texan cuisine, and live music all night long. And, poor Chris took turns dancing with the three of us. Most of the guys wore cowboy boots, and some of the ladies did too, including Connie who rocked a badass pair of black booties.

Now that President Obama is in office I just hope the country gives him the time he needs to create the change he promised. Our problems as a nation are significant and a bandaid won't solve them. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Next stop, Memphis.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

018|365 Downtime

Happy Sunday! I'm enjoying some downtime in my studio before I get some work done this afternoon. This quilt is a work-in-progress wall hanging that I am making for a friend. It is an unfinished project, aka UFO, and one of my goals for the year is to get rid of all the UFO's hanging around. They take up so much room and make me feel guilty. So I'm trying to finish one UFO, then start a new project, then another UFO, etc.

Later my time will turn to catching up on email and packing to go to DC for inaugural festivities before heading to Memphis for a client meeting. Definitely enjoying the peace of a Sunday at home.

017|365 Sigh of Relief

What a week. The holidays feel like they were months ago. I was in Tampa this week for client work and the photo is a shot of my schedule/timesheet. All I can say is that I'm glad that last week is done, but I'm a little nervous as the next three weeks will be this crazy, or worse.

I have to admit that I'm having a tough time staying on top of this 365 Project. I had really hoped to upload every day but it isn't working out that way. I'm going to stick with it though and try to do better.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

016|365 Sun Rising

I had a lot to get done this morning before my meetings started. It was a crazy day with different meetings at 8, 9, 10, 11, 11:30, 12, 1, 2:30 and then a dash to the airport at 4. So, I really enjoyed this moment of peace on my balcony as the sun came up over the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook.

015|365 Dinner in the Wine Cellar

Today was the day of the optical industry leadership event where I spoke about digital media. It was a good day and there were many interesting topics discussed by all participants. After the event we convened at The Venue Restaraunt in/near Tampa for dinner.

I had eaten here several times before when in town for Transitions, but this time was special as we had a private room and were able to dine in their wine cellar. This was especially cool for me given I collect wine. Plus, I loved the monotony of the same bottle in the rack when taken close up.

The food was delicious. I especially loved the Caesar salad. They made a cup out of melted parmesan cheese that held the lettuce leaves together and had a balsalmic reduction drizzled on the plate. It was fab. And the company was great too. I sat with Connie, Pat and Scott from Transitions and two AOA board members. It was a lot of fun and I was happy to be there.

014|365 Stuck Inside

014|365 Stuck Inside, originally uploaded by erinbyrnenyc.

Today was supposed to be a little more fun. I was in Tampa to have some meetings with Connie and Paul and to speak at an optical industry leadership event about digital media. Wednesday was scheduled to be morning meetings, a brunch with representatives of three participating organizations, and then a round of golf on Innisbrook's famed Copperhead Course to build relationships amongst participants. Unfortunately I was way too busy to play golf so I decided to stay in and work. Connie gave it her best effort to get me to reconsider but I knew I had too much to do and I would have been on my blackberry the entire time.

I was in my suite working when all of a sudden I heard a little commotion outside. When I went onto my balcony to see what was going on, I saw Connie and her group on the green. They looked they were having a fun time, and I have to say I had a great afternoon in the quiet of my room, with a view of the beautiful Copperhead course.

In other news, we had a funny moment in the morning. Connie, Paul and I were getting together in his suite for a working meeting over breakfast so Connie picked me up so we could go over together. I got into her car and we started to leave and suddenly we found ourselves on the cart path. In her car. Interestingly the greenskeepers that were working on the course didn't try to stop us. But, we figured it out, make a K turn, and were on our way. No harm done.

Friday, January 16, 2009

013|365 Strangers

013|365 Strangers, originally uploaded by erinbyrnenyc.

Tuesday morning, 3am wake up call. Quick shower. Poorly made hotel room coffee. Car service to airport at 4am. Security line. No Starbucks in sight. Boarding at 5:30am, depart at 6:00am wheels up at 6:10. Tampa, here I come.

This describes many mornings for me. The story for January 13th however was a trip to Tampa to spend some time with my client there. I flew Jet Blue and got to experience the new terminal. It was cool. And modern. I had a great breakfast in a stylish restaurant (name forgotten of course) that I'd definitely look forward to having dinner at. Then I got coffee at one of their new self service stations where you can work on your laptop and order food and beverages from a touch screen monitor. And then we boarded.

The flight was largely uneventful. The man across the row was traveling with a young child. They were laying across all three seats and cuddling. And then kerplunk. The baby fell off the seats onto the floor but the man didn't wake up. I jumped up and gave him a shove right around the time the baby started crying. At that point he sat up and cuddled the baby - they were both asleep in minutes.

I took this picture of them while they were sleeping and called it Strangers. I felt like an intruder snapping it, but I thought it was such a sweet spot. Besides, I spend so much time in planes, trains and automobiles that I have to do a little people watching. I thought about asking him for his email address and sending him the picture but then I thought he might find that odd. Or creepy. Or both.

In other news, January 13 is Johnnie's birthday. I'm sure there will be some celebrating over the weekend.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

012|365 Dinner with Rob

In the spirit of an annual tradition I had a holiday dinner with Rob Beltran on Monday night. Normally the tradition takes place in December, but due to schedules and early winter colds we were delayed to January.

It is always great to spend time with Rob. He is a great colleague and a better friend. And he has good taste in wine.

We originally planned to go to Beppe which is an old standby, but then since I had like 10,000 bags we decided to drop them first and go somewhere near my overnight digs. We were planning on Country but got a recommendation to try Olana which was just a few blocks away on Madison between 27th and 28th. It was awesome. They bill themselves as American with an Italian and French twist. They had a great attention to detail and the owner Patrick makes you feel personally welcome. Plus, they had a good wine list and Patrick made a great recommendation, Barrua from Italy. It was a great time and we got to catch up on the past year and do some planning for the year ahead. Thanks Rob!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

011|365 Quilt

This is a baby quilt that I made for a friend at work who had a baby boy last year. It was inspired by Kaffee Fassett's work, and was the first time I did something completely freestyle. It was a lot of fun to work on and I am happy with the result. I hope Michele is too!

You can expect to see many quilts make appearances here. I love to sew - sometimes focusing on clothes for Maddie and other times on home decor, but mostly on quilts. People are sometimes surprised that I am a quilter given my other hobbies, but it is a hobby that I find very soothing and in pleasant contrast to the craziness of my job. It is also nice to have a creative outlet which helps me stay objective when managing creative projects for clients.

One of my resolutions for the year is to finish 24 quilts this year at a rate of 2 per month. That sounds like a lot considering I work at least 60 hours a week but I will finish some work-in-process projects while starting others from scratch. I think it is very manageable if I rotate - one new project and then one I finish. And, some will be wall hangings or crib quilts but others will be larger including a bed quilt for me.

I finished the quilt pictured last night, binding it while watching Sex and the City - The Movie and started a new one this morning while Maddie was working on her blog. Yes, Maddie has a blog at 9 years old. She started it yesterday on the topic of Club Penguin cheats. Pretty funny. She installed google analytics and is looking for traffic so give it a will make her day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

010|365 Beautiful Morning

I love my house. Well, actually, the house is quite ordinary but it is on a beautiful piece of property with an awesome winter view. (The summer view isn't so bad either, but the leaves tend to block some of the mountains.) I took this picture sitting on the couch looking out the window with the Catskills in the distance. And then I had a pop-up visitor, Mittens the cat, who decided it was time to come in from the cold.

I laugh out loud every time I see Mittens pop up unexpectedly in the window. It is like a little kitty puppet show, and one of these days I think he'll bring a bunch of kitty-cat pals and perform for us. (It must be the exuberance of a day off and a great cup of coffee talking...)

Maddie just woke up, being the total night owl that she is, but is still looking a little sleepy. We were supposed to go visit my brother and his family in Pennsylvania today but the weather reports are predicting 7-10 inches of snow. Better to stay put, catch up on a few emails, and spend some time in the studio. Plus, Maddie has a project planned for later in that she is building a website about Club Penguin website cheats. If only I were so smart when I were 9. Or now. Either way, it is a beautiful morning and I'm happy to be home.

Friday, January 9, 2009

009|365 Nightfall

A view from my back deck as night falls and the moon rises, which led me to switch from the work week to the weekend. The week was long and it is safe to say that the vacation glow is gone. But, I'm determined to enjoy every weekend and I plan to do my best with this one.

008|365 Mindless

I love Project Runway. It is such a mindless pursuit with the contestants and their drama, which suited me just fine when I was watching reruns from DVR while working last night. I was pretty exhausted having gotten in at 3:00am and started working again at 8:00. To still be at it 13 hours later wasn't the plan, and Heidi Klum's band of sewing misfits definitely helped pass the time while my fingers did the talking on email.

This time last year I had never seen Project Runway. I had heard of it, of course, given that I don't live under a rock and all. It wasn't until I was in Alaska with Carmen in July that I saw my first episode, on as background noise while we were prepping to do frolick in the woods with bears. As soon as I got home I set the series up to record and have been addicted ever since.

The caption of this image also cracked me up as it says to "create a collection of 3 looks that incorporates 3 outdated trends." Look inside my closet lately? I try to get one look together that incorporates a minimum of 3 outdated trends on a daily basis!

On another note, I have to say that I am somewhat conflicted about this project. I have two goals that are not necessarily aligned. One is to improve my photography and the other is to tell my story of 2009 in pictures. This image was best for how I felt yesterday, mindless, but it certainly could not be referenced as "photography" by any stretch of the imagination. So, for now, the visual storytelling is winning over trying to take decent pictures. Yes, that is a disclaimer of sorts, isn't it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

007|365 Eastbound

I planned to take a photo from the air for Day 7 as the flight home was beautiful. I usually grab an aisle seat, but since I was traveling with Lynn I took the window. We had great views of the Grand Canyon and also the Rocky Mountains. Funny though that this image is the one that caught my eye. Clouds and sky. It was peaceful. And it had been an exhausting two days so this image captured my mood perfectly. Ended up landing at LGA just after midnight and walking in my door at 3am. The only thing more comfortable than how these clouds looked was my pillow.

006|365 Burgess Merlot

I headed out to Palm Spring to deliver the keynote speech at the Essilor National Sales Meeting with Lynn. It was a whirlwind 48 hours - I left my house on Tuesday at 3:00am and walked back in the door at 3:00am on Thursday. Fun.

Seriously though, it was a great trip. We arrived without incident and went right into dress rehearsal. Of course there were tweaks to the deck and the production company just loved that! Not. After rehearsals Lynn and I went to dinner - enter Burgess.

I was stumped as to what my picture for the day was going to be. I had taken some safeties from the flight - you can see them here, or here, or here. But then we went to dinner and when I saw Burgess on the wine list it was a done deal. I had taken a trip to to Napa with a friend last spring and visited several wineries. When we were almost done we decided to visit one more winery that neither of us had ever heard of. We closed our eyes, pointed at the map, and ended up with Burgess. It was the best visit of the day - so much fun that I wrote about it on my work blog.

So, cheers to Burgess.

Monday, January 5, 2009

005|365 Going on a Jet Plane

The original title for today's post was supposed to be "Bonus Day" with an image of the sun setting over the Catskill Mountains. Nice idea, and I took a great shot yesterday that would have been perfect, but unfortunately I was on the phone when I should have been on the porch and I missed the shot for tonight. Why a bonus day? Well, I was supposed to leave at 5:30 this morning for a meeting in Tampa today. However, Mother Nature surprised Greenville with an ice storm and there was no leaving the house. So, instead of getting into a cold car and heading to the airport I got back into a warm bed and made my meeting a conference call.

The plan for tomorrow is similar to what I intended for today, although tomorrow I get to leave the house at 4:00am. Woo-hoo! I'm heading off to Palm Springs to give a keynote speech with a friend and colleague, Lynn O'Connor Vos of Grey Healthcare, at a national sales meeting on Wednesday. So, while I'd rather stay home, I can't complain too much about getting to go give a presentation and play some golf.

I have to say though that this picture is making me wonder. Do I really need to pack three pairs of shoes for a three day trip, especially when the better part of two days will be spent flying? Plus, I'll be wearing a pair, right? Well, I'll confess. I love shoes. And bags. And glasses. (Yes, I'm bringing three pairs of glasses too.) So, I'll wear black boots on the plane and to rehearsal, black heels for the speech, ivory heels to the dinner reception and sneakers to the gym. My golf shoes are in my golf bag - oh my, making that a fifth pair. Ok, I confess. I have a problem. Now that we got that settled, I'll see you tomorrow!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

004|365 Cupcakes in the Afternoon

I originally planned to have the subject of today's photo and post be about "packing" as it is what I do on most Sunday nights in preparation for the work week ahead. But, this is my vacation darnit and I'm not going to rush the season. So, I'll post about my work travels tomorrow and focus on a more pleasant topic today, cupcakes.

I love cupcakes. I've had an infatuation with the little cakes long before Sex and the City made them popular. They are dainty, and elegant, and offer so many possibilities. Whereas cake inspires guilt, cupcakes deliver indulgance - cake can be a lot of work, but cupcakes are a lot of fun. Even a bout with a rough client who earned the nickname "cupcake" (with irony of course) couldn't destroy my love affair with these sweet little treats. More on the rough client another day.

Today we made cupcakes to celebrate the end of such a great vacation. And not just any cupcakes, but lemon-infused strawberry shortcakes. They are a light lemon cake with lemon-infused whipped cream, pink sugar and a fanned strawberry garnish on top. And, on the inside there is a little surprise - a strawberry put inside after baking. Yummy.

Besides picking cupcakes to celebrate, I made them for Maddie. We were in Barnes & Noble on Friday before meeting Jen and I bought a red velvet cupcake. It was so cute and had so much potential! But, alas, when I took my first bite I realized that it was stale and threw the rest out. That's when Maddie said, "Mom, you know why your cupcakes are so much better than the stores? Yours are made with love. Theirs are just made with batter." How can you not adore that kid?

You can expect to see many more cupcake posts through this project. :)

And now, feeling like I took advantage of the last day of this well-deserved break, I'm finally ready to face going back to work and will start preparing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

003|365 Bubble Bath

Today was a quiet day - so quiet that I didn't leave the house. I'm battling a cold and have a big week coming up so I spent most of the day trying to beat down the cold. I think it helped.

I did manage to find time for a little pampering and took a bubble bath before dinner. Gotta love the bubble bath. Also have to remember not to turn the jets on in the tub when you are using soap bubbles. Just ask Pam about that.

I was also productive today, in keeping with my resolution to make the most of each day. I went up to the studio to sew but wasn't really into it, so instead I laid on the couch, watched Project Runway reruns and stitched the binding for these two quilts for my brother's kids. Just in the knick of time too as I leave for Tampa > Palm Springs > Philly on Monday morning and am seeing them on Saturday.

Friday, January 2, 2009

002|365 Jengi Rocks

One of the things I did when starting this project, and the year in general, was make a list of everything I *think* is meaningful to me that I'd anticipate photographing. Then I put it away. It will be interesting to check back next January and see what I learn.

I also made a list of the friendships that are most important for me to nourish. There are many to maintain, but I gave a lot of thought to the ones that are most meaningful and therefore the ones that I am willing to put the most effort into. I'd hope that the friends on the list naturally make it into my project. (If you have to ask if you are on the list then you probably aren't...)

So, today's picture has double meaning. The photo is of my friend Jen. She started out as an "online friend" in early 2001 as a bunch of us met online and used to swap fabric. Then she became a "quilting friend" as the group got together at a central location and did a round of fabric shopping, and then would gather for sewing days. There were about six of us in the original group back in 2001, but Jen and another friend Pam are the ones that I have kept in touch with and become true friends with over the years. I joked on NY Eve that they used to be my quilting friends but have graduated to just "regular old friends." Even our gifts to each other for Christmas reflect the shift - whereas they used to be quilty gifts, this year I got an awesome vest and scarf from Jen and she got martini glasses from me. Jen rocks and inspires me every day as she is a trusted friend that balances work and family and is just an all around great person.

The other note of significance to this photo is the location. We were out getting manicures at Jean Paul Salon after having wine and appetizers at a new restaraunt in Albany, Creo. Personally, I find the name to be misleading as they serve "American food with an Asian and Mediteranean flair" whereas I expected it to be creole and/or New Orleans influenced. Regardless, the wine hit the spot, the food was good, and the price was right. More importantly, I intend to find more time to relax and have fun this year and a manicure on January 2nd is a great way to start! Thanks for the good time Jengi!

001|365 Wishes for the New Year

I take a lot of pictures and decided to join a 365 project. Essentially the idea is to take a picture every day and post it to the group pool on Flickr. I plan to do mine as a blog as well and hope to use the images to tell a visual story about the year. I'll probably add other random posts here as well. We'll see how that goes.

I'm happy to see 2008 go. Despite my many blessings (family and friends, health, career), it was not a great year, most notably because a very close friend committed suicide. I'm happy to start this morning with a fresh slate and a positive outlook. But, the first image of my 365 project is representative to me of the new beginning we all experience every morning. New Year's is fine and all, but I don't want to wait another 364 days to feel I get another chance. So, I really hope to use this year to dream big, wish good things, make positive changes, and do my best every day. And, when I screw up, which I will, it will be fine because I know I'll get another crack at it tomorrow.

Cheers, and Happy New Year!