Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do these rainbow stripes make my neighborhood look gay?

The Castro Street Project is getting closer to done! :)

The completed "Market Street" painting

"Market Street"
oil on canvas
36 x 24 inches

At last! I completed my Market Street oil painting last night. Actually, I had made a few last adjustments last night, but wasn't sure if it was actually done until this morning when I could see it in the natural light. :)

This one was a bit of a doozy. I started it in mid-February, worked on it through late March, did a little more work on it in mid-May, took a break on it while I worked on and finished the Lavender Field painting then started up on it again in late August. I also finished the Mission Santa Clara painting in San Francisco, and worked on my little Beach Study in between.

This was the most detailed cityscape I've taken on yet, and it was a night scene as well. It was a challenge for sure, but I'm really glad I persevered! :) There were all kinds of angles and perspectives that had to be right, plus the trickery of color in a night scene. I'm really proud of how it turned out, but admit, I may take a break from cityscapes for a bit. :)

Here are some of the photos that I took during the process of painting it. I always like to see the evolution of a painting in one post:

the original photo

sketched out on the primed canvas

blocking in the colors

starting to get some detail on the bus and buildings

more details, especially on front left building

brightened/lightened the sky and street with a lighter blue

decided that the blue was too light and darkened the street and made the sky more grey

This was after having taken a long break to work on other paintings. When I came back to this painting, I really worked carefully on making sure the lines for the windows on the left building were correct. This shows the corrected horizontal lines. Makes a huge difference from the previous photo.

Adding the vertical beams

...and the window panes. I think the building on the left looks much improved, and the perspective reads correctly now

I darkened the building on the left with a glaze, removed the bus stop, made the sky a dark blue (again), and worked on the street and street lamps.

I continued work on the street lamps, and reworked the trolley car in the center of the painting

I added more color in the headlights and reflections of the cars

The finished piece: I added more warm colors and darkened parts of the street


Funny - the process doesn't seem nearly as long or complicated when it's all laid out here in one place. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

webTrina loves Banana Republic's Embark Program!!

So, it seems that Dick and I have discovered Banana Republic this year, since moving to Bellevue.
It's not that we didn't know about Banana Republic before, or that we'd never shopped there before, it just wasn't really on our radar.

Because of the move, we both needed some new clothes this year for the different seasons. Not much really, but it was a nice reason to freshen up the wardrobe.

I think a large part of the reason why I started noticing Banana Republic a lot more since the move is that we live very close to a mall here in Bellevue, and it's easy to go there just to stroll around. When we lived in San Francisco, we had great shops near us, both in the Castro as well as in Union Square, but we almost never shopped at malls. We had a lot of local stores in the Castro and the large, flagship stores (not in malls) in Union Square. Usually, when we were out shopping, we'd go out with very specific stores, rather than just browsing.

Since we live near the mall, and I often stroll around, I started to notice how often Banana Republic has pretty significant sales. I've always liked most of the clothes at Banana Republic, but frankly, it was usually too pricy for what I wanted to spend. I guess you can say that I'm upgrading from Old Navy, to The Gap, and now to Banana Republic. The quality is higher, and it's noticeable. Plus, I really only buy things on sale anyway (with the exception of some of the clothes that Dick buys), and as I said before, their sales are quite good. Remember this blog post from late July when I bought six articles of clothing at Banana Republic for $55 after tax? At this point, Banana Republic is on my bargain-hunter radar. Who knew?

On one of my trips to BR in late June, I signed up for their "Embark" program. In a nutshell, it's a free program that ensures that you get the best price for your purchase, within seven days. So, let's say I buy a top for $20 on a Saturday, and sometime that week, they have it on sale for $16 and another customer purchases the same item at the discounted price. If you've signed up for their program, that $4 will be credited to your Embark account. This goes for any item that you buy at BR - regular priced items, sale items, clearance items. Basically, it was a no brainer: it didn't cost any more, and it was just a little reassurance that I'd get a good deal, even after I left the store.

But, here's the thing: I had no idea how much money I would "earn" from the program.
After my first purchase after signing up, I received an email from BR telling me that two items I had purchased had been lowered in price within the next seven days, and that another customer had purchased them at the lower price. And just like that, I had a $23 credit in my Embark Account. This happened two more times over the next couple of months, and all of a sudden, I had $83.33 credit in my Embark Account!

Here is the list of items that I had purchased over three months at BR. You'll see the price I paid, the best price it had been offered at within the next seven days, and the amount of $$ that was credited to my Embark Account

You'll notice on this list that the Embark savings really varies. As I said, I buy most things on sale anyway, so one some items, I only received a buck or two of credit for the difference. However, I got a lot more $$ from other items which I had still bought on sale. However, the largest discount was on a shirt for Dick that we paid full price for. You'll see I earned $31.80 credit on that sale.

So, what does this Embark credit do for me? Banana Republic has special "Embark Days", which last a week two or three times a year. That means, all this credit that I've been saving since June can be spent now, during the first Embark Days, which lasts from Sept 25 - Oct 1st. (I marked my calendar!)

Here's the email I received from BR last week announcing Embark Days, and how much credit I had.

My Embark Credit

So, I went to the mall this afternoon, with the specific intent of going to BR to find an item or two that I could spend my Embark Credit on. $84 is a lot of money, and I'm not sure if goes away if I don't spend it during this allotted time.

It's always weird to shop in a store knowing you're supposed to buy something, rather than just browsing, or looking for something specific. Since it's Fall, I figured I could find a nice sweater. I have also been wanting a long decorative necklace that I can wear with sweaters. After trying on a few items, I got just that: one sweater, and one necklace.

The sweater was marked at $80, and the necklace for $40. This is a lot more than I would normally pay, but figured most of it was covered by my Embark credit, so it was okay to treat myself. Plus, that's the whole idea of these shopping programs, right? They give you some free money, and you end up spending more money since you're already shopping.

What I didn't know was that the store was having a 30% off all regular priced items sale today.

So... when I was rung up at the register, here's what happened:

the final tally

Yep, with the 30% off of my two regular priced items, the total came to $83.30.... and I was left with a mere 3 cents credit in my Embark account! I paid absolutely nothing.

That's crazy!!

So, to recap, I just got FREE clothes because of this program that gives me credit to use when any item that I buy at their store gets sold to another customer for a lower price within seven days.

Hmmm... I just noticed that the Embark Program is in select areas only. Maybe they're trying it out in a few areas before launching it in a wider area. Sorry, CA (and other) friends!

Participating Embark Banana Republic Stores

Friday, September 26, 2014

Who's the Cutest Kitten of them All?

Penmanship and Basic Skills

Okay, I'm going to preface this by saying that I do not have children, and I do not know what it's like to raise children, especially in this day and age.

With that said, I've got a bit of a bone to pick with the younger generation and some of the basic skills that they seem to be missing.

I've been listening to the debate of whether or not kids should learn cursive in school. While I do think that children should learn cursive, I'm not a teacher, nor am I a parent, and I know there are strong arguments on both sides. That being said, I also think it's important for kids to learn how to write at least legibly.

Today, we got a thank you note from a younger gentleman who works at a local department store where Dick made a clothing purchase recently. First of all, kudos to this gentleman for writing and sending the thank you note - that's good business (and good manners in life in general).

However, look at how this letter was addressed:

So, I should mention here that I started writing and mailing letters way back in first grade when I was six years old. My best friend had just moved and we kept in contact through high school (and beyond) by writing letters to each other.

I also remember when I was in 8th grade, our english teacher gave a lesson on how to properly address an envelope. I thought it was weird that we were learning something in class that I had known for many years at that point. However, I also recognize that perhaps many of my peers did not have a pen pal/best friend that they had been writing to for years. Knowing how to properly address a letter is important stuff!

So, back to the Thank You note that came in the mail today.

It looks like it was written by a five-year old who has never been taught how to address an envelope.
His handwriting is at least legible, but what's worse: he doesn't know where to write the address, and where to put the postage!! (our street address is written in the top right corner. I blurred it out, but you can still see where it is.)

I know, I know... it's the new millennium. Kids know how to use computers before they start school. They use email. They don't need to know how to write.


This young gentleman is old enough and responsible enough to hold a job at a fairly prestigious retail store, has very good fashion style, good customer skills, and knows the benefits of writing a Thank You note...

...but he doesn't know how to address a letter.

Okay, rant off. I know, I sound like an old cranky lady. I just had to put it out there.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

$10,000 GOAL!!!!!


We did it again: for the third year in a row, YOU helped me raise over $10,000 for the Immediate Impact Walk!!

I'm just thrilled to have reached this lofty goal, and I thank every single person who has donated towards my fundraising this year. Donations have ranged from $20 to $1,000. Every dollar makes a difference, and it will all go a long way in helping out the patients of our beneficiaries.

I have to be honest, with our move to Seattle earlier this year, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make this goal this time. I wasn't able to do all fundraising activities that I've done in the past, and I wasn't sure how much of an impact my move was going to make as far as being further away from the San Francisco community.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of my very generous supporters.

I continue to be overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of support that you have all given me over my last FIVE years of walking. I am a very, very lucky person to have such amazing and supportive people in my life.

The big event begins two weeks from tomorrow, on Friday October 10th. Although I have met my personal fundraising goal of $10,000, I'll continue to fundraise and see just how much money we can raise this year. So far, our team/event of 49 participants (walkers, virtual walkers and volunteer support staff) have raised almost $105,000 towards our goal of $150,000. It is exciting to see how much money we can raise for our three local beneficiaries and our national beneficiary!

Thank you all again for your incredible support and generosity.

You continue to fill my heart and inspire me.

I am honored to be representing all of you every time I walk.

With Gratitude,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday's 10+ Mile Training Walk

Yesterday, I went out for another 10+ mile training walk to and from Dick's work. The route that I take makes it around 5.5 miles each way. There was a chance of rain in the forecast in the early afternoon, but luckily, it held off until after I was back home.

This is only the second time that I've done this route, but it works pretty well for me. There are only 3 streets that I need to turn on, so I can pretty much walk on auto-pilot without worrying about getting lost. :)

Just like the last time that I did this walk, I planned it so that I would arrive to Dick's place of work at his lunchtime. We had a nice lunch together, and I walked back after.

I leave for SF again in a week, and I'm hoping to get in one more 10-mile walk before I leave. Unfortunately, there's rain in the forecast for the rest of this week, so I'm going to have to play it by ear. Hopefully, I'll make it out again on Friday.

Geek Crossing!

I had a surprise run-in with Jenn in the lobby when I arrived! Jenn used to work with Dick in his old group before we moved. She's in town for some meetings this week.

Lunch - philly cheesesteak sandwiches and Tots!

Pretty walk on my way back home

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cupcake Alert!!

Our friends, John and Gina, live on the fourth floor of our building. They live on the same floor as the building concierge/security, and pass by the concierge desk on their way to their apartment.

John and Gina mentioned to me a month or so ago that sometimes the concierge desk has cupcakes from the cupcake store in our building. The store brings the day's extras (after they close) to the main security office in the building, and sometimes they bring a box of cupcakes to share with our security/concierge desk.

I asked Gina and John to let me know when they see cupcakes at the concierge desk.

This is the text message I got from Gina tonight.

When I got down there, there were 6 cupcakes left. I chose a vanilla cupcake with Chocolate frosting. Yum! I met a neighbor who was picking up some packages, and told him that he should grab a cupcake, too. (He did)

what was left

My cupcake was so yummy, and perfectly times, as we had just finished dinner.

Thanks, John and Gina for the cupcake alert! Just another reason why I don't think you should ever move. :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

iPhone Release in Bellevue

I was wondering if the line for the iPhone 6 would be shorter in Microsoftland than in Appleville.

I was wrong.

PS: I'm not getting one. Still happy with my 5! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kudos to my new city!

Well, how about that? USA Today reported a study that named my new city of Bellevue, WA as the second best place to live in the U.S.

Read the article here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A morning visit with Kelly

Great morning catching up with fellow SSR '92 & '93 Alumni, Kelly!we haven't seen each other in over 21 years. Kelly and her family are in town, visiting from Australia! :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Color Match

Oddly, my husband matches the decor of the new United Terminal at SFO. I feel like we're living in a Wes Anderson film. ;)

Progress on the Twin Peaks Tavern painting

I squeezed in another painting session with Dean today before I head back to Seattle. Our flight leaves this afternoon!

I think we made some progress on my latest painting of Twin Peaks Tavern.
Most significant, Dean imported my original photo into iPhoto and bumped up the contrast so that some of the colors that weren't able to be seen in the original would come out more. This was especially helpful in the bottom left corner, which pretty much shows as just dark/black in the original.

The original photo

photo with high contrast

You can see now that there are other colors in there - mostly reds and purples that cast some shadows from the seated figures. I think the new information added a lot more dimension and interest in that part of the painting.

Today's progress - Session 3

I also did a lot of work on the "big picture" - fine tuned the bar figures a bit, added some more rough detail to the bar and especially the shelves behind the bar and mirror. I also worked a bit on all of the different Tiffany lamps hung throughout the bar.

I'm liking how this one is progressing so far. There are a lot more sweeping paint strokes than I usually have, and that's something that I was specifically trying to work on in my style. I like how this painting is looser in style than most of my others.

I'll be back in a few more weeks to work on it some more. Looking forward to seeing the progress.