Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Beautiful Chandelier

I helped some close friends move into their new home today. I'm in love with their new chandelier! :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

The brilliance of Fitbit

I just walked circles around my house because I found I was only .05 miles from reaching my goal of 5 miles for the day.

Now, I can go to bed happy. :)

My new Fitbit

I finally jumped on the Fitbit bandwagon and ordered a Fitbit One last week. Dick ordered the new Fitbit Flex, but it is out of stock temporarily and will be shipped in a couple of weeks.

My Fitbit was delivered Saturday afternoon. The set up was super-easy, and now I can review my daily stats from either my computer or from my bluetooth enabled smartphone.

I took it out for its first major test drive yesterday on my 12-mile training walk. I have to admit: I get it. I understand why this little device helps motivate people to move more. I took it out today on my regular 2.5 mile walk, and was able to see how many steps I take during my walk towards my 10,000 steps per day goal. It's kind of fun. I also notice how often I walk up and down the stairs in our house.

I also appreciate the sleep monitor. The last two nights, which have been documented in my Fitbit dashboard were both really good nights of sleep. (almost 8 and 9 hours of solid sleep!) It will be interesting to see the results on nights when I wake up with insomnia or am more restless.

I also started to log my food just to see what that shows. Might be interesting to document my eating habits - for good for for bad.

If you've been thinking about purchasing a Fitbit, please consider buying it from the link from the Immediate Impact Walk. We are an Affiliate Seller of fitbit! 12% of your purchase goes to the Immediate Impact Walk.

Here are screenshots of my Fitbit Dashboard after yesterday's 12-mile training walk. It was around 3:00 in the afternoon, and I had already exceeded most of my goals. This won't happen on average days, mind you, but kind of fun to see all those happy faces! :)

My Fitbit dashboard after yesterday's 12-mile training walk

apparently, I respond well to a nice User Interface design with animated Happy Faces!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday's 12-mile "Butt Burner" Training Walk

Sunday Morning's Route

This morning, we met at 7:00am at the Transit Cafe in the Presidio. It was again foggy and chilly, but we were up for another 12 miles! The route we did today is one that we affectionately call the "Butt Burner". We walk the length of Divisadero Street all the way across the city until it becomes Castro Street, then go to 24th Street in Noe Valley. We usually walk second half of the walk in reverse, but mixed it up a little bit today. Instead, we walked over to Dolores Street, to Duboce, to Hayes, and back to Divisadero.

We had a "field trip" today to one of the beneficiaries of the Immediate Impact Walk! We stopped at UCSF Mt. Zion and went to a visit to the "Friend to Friend" store. We talked with Chris and Margo who told us more about the amazing work you do every day helping people get fitted for bras, wigs, prosthesis who could not otherwise afford these items. Such an amazing place, and we were so happy that they were able to have us come visit!

It's the Green & Grey Girls!!

A banana slug parade in the presidio

Happy, warm tree with it's knitted sweater

One of the many hills on Divisadero Street that we conquered today

The fanciest porta-potty I've ever seen!

The front of the Friend to Friend Store

Chris, from "Friend to Friend" showing us a selection of the prosthesis, bras and other specialty items at their store

some of the wigs and comfortable attire

Chris, showing some of the bras (which can be fitted with prosthesis) at their store

more easy-to-wear and comfortable attire for cancer patients at Friend to Friend

a selection of books at their store - many are Cancer-related

The Event Board at Friend to Friend, with our flyer for the Immediate Impact Breast Cancer Walk

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday's 12-mile training walk

This morning's route

We had another fun 12-mile walk this morning. It was a foggy, cooler day - typical San Francisco Summer weather (which I prefer over hot, any day!).

We met at 7:00 and headed out from the Warming Hut, through the Presidio, and out to Arguello.

This is the same spot from where I took the photo of which my "Warming Hut" painting is based. Thought it would be fun to contrast that sunny day to today's foggy morning. The Golden Gate Bridge is hiding behind all that fog!

Linda and Sandy in their cute matching pants! Twinsies!

We walked through Golden Gate Park, and stopped to admire the amazing Dahlias at the Conservatory of Flowers.

Beautiful Dahlias!

The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park

We walked through the AIDS Memorial Grove - one of my favorite places in Golden Gate Park. It's always so peaceful and tranquil there.

Plaque at entrance of the AIDS Memorial Grove

We walked out of the park, all the way to the Coast, and walked along the Great Highway. Apparently, every Saturday morning from 10:00-11:00am is "Small Dog Day" at Ocean Beach - dozen of small dogs under 15 pounds were frolicking along the beach!!! So cute!!

Small Dog Day at Ocean Beach

We had our second break at the Land's End Visitor Center, then walked the Land's End Trail.

Linda, Peggy, Judy and Sandy walking Land's End Trail

We also passed by a couple of plein air painters!

plein air painter

We walked up, up, up, then down the stairs in Land's End.

here come the walkers, rounding the corner!

We walked back to Lincoln Blvd, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and back to the Warming Hut.

It was a really nice walk. We'll be doing another 12 miles tomorrow morning!

today's stats

Friday, July 26, 2013

Purchase my paintings on Greeting Cards at zazzle.com!

Many friends have expressed interest in ordering greeting cards of my paintings (what a nice compliment!). I've just set up a zazzle.com store with several of my paintings and the opportunity to buy 5 x 7" greeting cards and 4 x 5.6" note cards.

The BEST news? This is a fundraiser!!
30% of the sales of each card will be donated to The Immediate Impact Breast Cancer Walk!

MORE great news: zazzle has extended their summer sale through the rest of today: 65% off all cards!! Enter code JULYHOLIDAYS at checkout. It's a really great deal! I placed a huge order yesterday, and am looking forward to see how they turn out.

Here's the link to my zazzle store: http://www.zazzle.com/trinachow*

Thank you for all of your support!

screenshot of my zazzle store

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The completed "Warming Hut" oil painting: The Evolution

"Warming Hut"
oil on canvas
24" x 36"

I just finished my Warming Hut oil painting last night. This painting was such an interesting and different process from my others in so many ways. First of all, my painting instructor, Dean Larson was away (teaching in Florence!) almost the entire time that I worked on this. He saw it once, briefly, before he left, and again the last day that I finished it. In between time, I sent him a photo of the progress once, and was able to get some great feedback and suggestions from him. This is pretty significant to me: This was the first painting that I painted by myself at home in years. I have my studio set up in my house now, so it was a great test of how well I could paint by myself at home with limited instruction.

The evolution of the image of the painting is interesting, too:

I took this photo towards the end of a training walk on Saturday, April 14th. My team had gone on an pre-season 6-mile training walk with radio personality Peter Finch. Peter joined us for our walk in order to interview us for a radio podcast interview. It was a gorgeous, clear day. Towards the end of the walk, I hopped up on some stairs for a better vantage point, and snapped this photo.

Original photo, Saturday, April 14, 2013

I had a notion to do a painting of the Warming Hut in Crissy Field for some time. The Warming Hut was the "home base" of my walking team, The Warming Hut Hotties for 10 years (before retiring last year). I started training with the team almost 3 years ago, although many of them had been training together for several years already. We almost always started and ended our training walks at the Warming Hut Park Store & Cafe in Crissy Field. It's such a picturesque location, and holds a very special place in the hearts of many of my friends. Anyway, I took this photo thinking it might make a nice painting composition.

When I showed the photo to my painting instructor, he had a few suggestions of how the composition could be changed to make it a stronger painting. He initially had two major suggestions: He thought the cement stairs would not translate well into a painting. He suggested taking them out, and extending the grass. He also said that the angle of the Warming Hut building would be more interesting if we could see two sides of it. The original photo shows only the side of the building. I showed him another photo I had taken that showed a bit of the front as well as the side. The suggested that I use the second photo of the Warming Hut in my painting.

another photo with the different angle of the Warming Hut

This was a good exercise for my Photoshopping skills, and something that I love to do! I did a quickie photoshop job, not worrying about making anything "too perfect" and made the changes. Gone were the cement stairs, and in went the slightly angled version of the Warming Hut! I showed the photoshopped version of the photo to Dean, and he thought it was a much stronger composition.

the new, photoshopped composition

First steps in starting a new painting: tone the canvas, draw the gridlines, and sketch out the image.

toned and sketched canvas

Unlike my last painting (Chinatown) where I focused on color and form, this one was much more focused on individual shapes. When I "filled in the canvas" with color, the painting really started to take shape quickly.

filling in color

canvas is filled with early color

At this point, Dean was able to come over right before his trip to give me a little guidance. He said that the height of grassy hill on the left side created a visual line at the same level as the center of the canvas. This is a composition no-no, as it draws the eye too much. He suggested that I lower the level of the hill. He also suggested that I go back to Crissy Field, walk to the top of that hill, and take a photo of the buildings behind it. Since the hill would be painted lower, I would need more information about those buildings behind it.

Luckily, I had another walk planned, and was able to grab this photo:

view from the top of the hill

With this new information, I was able to lower the height of the hill, and paint some of the buildings behind it.

lower hill and new buildings

additional work on the painting

This was the point at which I had emailed a photo of the painting progress to Dean while he was in Florence. He suggested that I needed to lower the height of the hill even more, because it was now at the same height as the lower roofline of the building.

So, the hill went lower, and we got to see more of the buildings behind it.

This was also the point at which I added a large, dark shadow on the grass area on the right. I had noticed that the grassy area was really large, without much interest. I took a tip from my Dolores Street Painting and added a shadow to break up that space a bit. I think it worked out well!

I had also done a lot more work on several parts of the painting: I worked on the sky, and just added more depth and detail throughout.

lower hill, more detail on back buildings, shadow in the grass

The main composition was set now, and I was able to focus more on details.

more details added - especially to the figures in the front, as well as the suggestion of figures in the background

Yesterday, I had my first painting session with Dean again since I had started this painting. Overall, he was really pleased with the progress, and only had a few suggestions. I had intentionally not completed the painting (ie: I knew I still needed to paint in the cables on the Golden Gate Bridge) until showing it to Dean. I knew he would give me some good feedback before completion.

We did some minor changes to the angle of the Warming Hut roof - this was something that Dick had noticed was slightly off. He has a really good eye for angles!

The biggest change was adding more color/texture/depth to the path in the foreground. I was kind of stuck before, because I knew I didn't want it to look like cement, like in the photo, but ended up with a super neutral path without much interest. Dean showed me some photos of other paintings to use as an example, and I used a dry painting technique to add more color and interest to the path.

Finally, I added the cables to the Golden Gate Bridge. I knew I wanted these in, but not in a way that would distract too much from the rest of the painting. The final decision was to paint them in flowing sweeps, without too much detail so that they would be suggestive, rather than precise. We also agreed that it would not be a good idea to add any vertical cables - too much detail, and would draw the eye from the focal point of the composition.

So, here we have the finished painting! Again, the process was much different than any before, and I think it's good to document the through process and changes.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Final Two Batches of Plum Jam

Thursday afternoon, my parents came over to help me with the yard-work in my backyard. It was GREAT - we got so much done, including picking the remaining plums from the tree. (we used a ladder, and picked everything that we could reach. The rest of the fruit higher up on the tree will sadly just fall to the ground to be composted.)

We probably picked another 25 pounds of plums, or so. After sorting them out, Dick and I made two last batches of Plum Jam. We made the first Friday night, and the second Saturday afternoon.

Note: we picked all the fruit that we could reach, even if it wasn't quite ripe. When we sorted the plums Friday night, we kept some to the side that were still a bit yellow, rather than tossing them to the compost bin, as we have done in the past. By the time we made our second batch on Saturday afternoon, all the plums had ripened so much that we couldn't tell which ones had been yellow only the day before.

The last plum harvest - probably about 25 pounds

this is our new method of cleaning and sorting the plums in our kitchen sink

Friday night's final count: 16 12oz jars and 1 12 oz jar about 1/2 full

Friday night's batch:

16 12oz jars (plus another 12oz jar that was 3/4 full)
Our largest batch this year!
8 cups sugar
1 cup sugar mixed in with
7 boxes of Pectin

Saturday afternoon's Batch:

15 12 oz jars
1 8 oz jar
8 cups sugar
1 cup sugar mixed in with
8 boxes of Pectin

It turns out at that 8 boxes of pectin makes for a really nice jam/jelly consistency. It's Dick's favorite batch so far. I think this will be the go-to recipe next year!

Saturday afternoon's batch: 15 12oz jars and 1 8oz jar

I figured out the final tally of jars of jams that we've made over the last 22 days:

Jammapalooza 2013 Final Jam Tally

7 batches of Plum Jam Made

Roughly 65 pounds of fresh plums from our backyard
(the first batch was about 5 pounds of fresh fruit, the other 6 batches were about 10 pounds of fresh fruit each)

about 70 cups of Sugar
(equivalent to almost 30 pounds)

41 boxes of Pectin (1.75 ounces each)

96 12oz jars of Plum Jam
(with an additional 6-8oz of partial jars from each batch. Probably a total of another 4 12 oz jars)

Wow!! That's a whole lotta jammin!

I've already given several jars of jam away to friends (probably about 15-20 jars), and have another 75 or so jars left.

Jam for everyone! I'm having pretty labels made to put on the jars next. If I'm seeing you anytime soon, I'll probably greet you with a jar of jam! :)

77 jars of jam!

I'm pretty proud that we managed to make so much yummy jam over the last 21 days, and that we did a decent job of keeping up with the crazy amount of fruit that our trees produced. I'll still be picking up the fallen plums (from the top of the trees that we can't reach) on the grass, ground and patio, but I'm happy to say that it never got completely out of control. We learned a lot this year, and devised a pretty good system both for picking and composting the fruit, as well as for making the jam. Yay!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Glassybaby Blog Love

I received an email message from the lovely Mary at glassybaby today. She wanted to let me know that she just posted a new blog post about the Immediate Impact Walk and our glassybaby roadshow. Thank you, Mary! It's really fantastic. (and I hope to have lunch with you in Seattle sometime soon!)