Scrapbook Layout: Baseball Games

Giants Baseball Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerGiants Baseball Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerGiants Baseball Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerGiants Baseball Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerGiants Baseball Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

The Story: Gathering all my pictures and ephemera from going to Giants games in 2006.

Tracking the History of the Ballpark: The ballpark is always changing.  The new name of the ballpark shows on the tickets.  The pictures show new changes inside the park: adding a Build-a-Bear Workshop and renaming the splash landing in right field.  I love how these pages show the passing of time.

Still Keeping it Interesting: It is challenging to scrapbook the same type of event every year.  This year, I got everything on one page (’04 and ’05 are two pages each).  I thought it was going to look too cluttered but I think everything fit together very nicely.

Team Logo: I traced it and cut it out with the Silhouette program.  I’m not making it available here for download because it’s trademarked but I believe my personal use of it is okay.  You can trace your own sports logos using Silhouette Studio, just don’t try to give them away or sell them (this isn’t legal advice, just my opinion).

Earlier: 2004 Giants baseball layouts, 2005 Giants baseball layouts.

Giants Baseball Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Nevis (headline, photo captions), Cambria (photo captions) | Tools: Silhouette SD (headlines, logo), Epson Stylus R2000 (photos) | Supplies: Pioneer SJ-100 Jumbo Scrapbook (scrapbook & pages), Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos) | Keepsakes Included: tickets, magnet schedule.

Review: Skillshare Basics of Photoshop

Skillshare Photoshop Review

I purchased the Basics of Photoshop: Fundamentals for Beginners ecourse over at Skillshare so I could start learning how to use the program and help with my blog redesign.  I paid for the course myself and was not compensated for my opinions.

Background

I’ve been procrastinating about learning Photoshop for a long time.  I still use Microsoft Word to lay out and print my photos and to design things like this Project Life-style card.

I purchased the Blog Design Love 2.0 course, which assumes students can do basic image editing.  I wanted to get the most out of that course so it was time to learn Photoshop.

I tried Skillshare because of the emphasis on creative classes.  It felt like the content was geared to me.  You can pay a monthly fee and have unlimited access to a library of courses (but not all of them, check to make sure) or pay a one-time fee per course.  This was my first Skillshare course, so I paid for it individually.

This fundamentals course is taught by Meg Lewis and is for Photoshop, not Photoshop Elements.  There are fifteen videos broken up into five units.

The Pros

At first, it didn’t seem like the course covered a huge amount of content.  But wow, I’m really impressed at how much I can use Photoshop now!  It feels like this.  I designed my header image for this blog and the social media buttons.

One of my biggest problems with Photoshop is not knowing what any of the buttons do and not knowing how to do what should be something really simple (such as resizing a photo).  This course was great.  It started off with the very basics including how layers work and keystrokes to make things easy.

My favorite thing I learned was how to draw a shape and then insert a photo to fit that shape.  It’s how I made my circular profile photo in the sidebar.  I even took it a step further and learned how to insert photos into text!  Learn how here.

Scrapbook Letters by Natalie Parker

I made that!  Look forward to some gratuitous pictures-inside-shapes because I’m going to reuse this skill until it goes out of style.

The Cons

Just a couple of small annoyances.  All the keystrokes covered in the course are for a Mac.  I was able to figure out the PC equivalent (it’s usually Alt or Control) but it would have been nice for the instructor to cover both.

The resolution for the videos wasn’t that great.  It was hard to see what she was doing unless I went full screen.  It was hard to follow along that way because I had to constantly pause, minimize the video, and then go into Photoshop and practice what she just covered.  If the resolution was better, I could have had the video and Photoshop open on the same screen.

Summary

I really liked the course and was surprised at how much I learned.  If you have no idea where to start with Photoshop, I recommend it.  I’m planning on taking Meg’s other Fundamentals of Photoshop courses to learn more.

There are a bunch more courses I want to take at Skillshare generally, like how to hand letter.  I haven’t purchased a membership yet, mostly because I don’t know when I will have time to start them and don’t want my membership to end up like a Netflix DVD subscription.  Have you tried Skillshare courses?  Let me know in the comments!

Basics of Photoshop: Fundamentals for Beginners at Skillshare, $29 or by monthly subscription

Skillshare Review by Natalie Parker

What we Ate: Chicago

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

There’s one common thread when Mr. P and I travel, whether it’s a long vacation or a weekend away: eat all the things.  We turn from the mild mannered couple who cooks small portion sizes to Homer Simpson in the land of chocolate.  We carefully plot how many meals we have and where to go.

We’re huge food fans, part Food TV junkies, and love street food just as much as being waited on.  We tend to like simple food done really well rather than what I like to call “precious” food (deconstructed items or things with foam, for example).

On our trip to Chicago, here’s how we made out.  Note: this wasn’t our first trip to Chicago, so we skipped the deep dish pizza this time.  We were bummed though when we got to the airport and realized we’d forgotten to try the Chicago Mix.  Next time!

Breakfast

Waffles Cafe: We’d heard of the wonut — a mix between a waffle and a donut and had to try it.  We were in a hurry, so we got birthday cake wonuts to go.  I’m sure they have the potential to be really good, but ours were room temperature and didn’t trill me.

Trenchermen: We saw this on Unique Eats and managed to get in for brunch.  The food?  Excellent.  There were fantastic pastries and main dishes, including the bacon flight which came with three types of bacon (though to be honest, you have to like non-crispy bacon to really enjoy the flight).  Mr. P says his biscuits with pepperoni gravy was the best thing he ate all weekend.  The menu changes often, so check in before your trip. Note they charge for last minute cancellations.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Lunch

Mustard’s Last Stand (Evanston): Multiple Northwestern alumni told us to hit this place.  We stopped on our way to the tailgates — it’s located just outside the west lot of Ryan Field.  To me, it was a basic, pretty good hot dog.  It’s a good place to stop if you’ve never been and the people at the stand were really nice.  They were accommodating when Mr. P asked: “I see a cheese dog on the menu and a double dog.  What are the chances I can get both of those together?”

Publican Quality Meats:  Another place we saw on Unique Eats.  This place doubles as a butcher shop and a sandwich place.  Mr. P and I split a sandwich on naan with avocado crema, thinly sliced sausage, and pickled onions.  So good.  Then we shared a charcuterie platter.  It was a bit out of the way but definitely glad we made the trek.

Chicago FoChicago Food by Natalie Parkerod by Natalie Parker

Xoco: We found this place last time we were in Chicago and it was a must-do again on this trip.  If you want to try Rick Bayless’ food without sitting down at a restaurant, this is the place.  I’ve only ever had one dish: the torta Ahogada.  It’s carnitas with pickled onions on a sandwich served with a spicy tomato broth.  I still have dreams about it.  If you go, make sure to get an order of churros too with chocolate dipping sauce.  I may or may not have sipped some of the sauce after the churros were done.  Maybe.

Yes, I realize I’m from California and can get churros here anytime I want.  But listen, when fried dough is done really well, you don’t ask questions and just get it.  Okay?

Chicago Food by Natalie ParkerChicago Food by Natalie Parker

Dinner

David Burke’s Primehouse: I had no idea how many steakhouses there were in Chicago.  No idea.  A friend of ours made reservations here and to be honest, I wasn’t too enthused, thinking I can get a steak in any city.  But wow.  Everything here was absolutely fantastic.  Mr. P and I split a steak because they were huge.  It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

Eataly: This could be brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinks really.  Or anytime of the day on a day that ends in “y.” It’s been on my list since Kelly Purkey raved about it.  It’s a giant Italian food emporium where you can shop or dine at 10+ food areas.  Since it’s all one big store, you can look around with a drink in hand.  Mr. P and I had a light dinner here one evening and I loved that you could have a quick bite at one of the standing tables.  We returned for pre-dinner drinks and snacks with friends a different night.  Definitely a must-see!

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Heaven on Seven: We saw this on an episode of Heat Seekers and it was perfect for a quick bite the night we got in.  The food wasn’t as spicy as I expected, but there’s a collection of hot sauces on the table that helped.  Definitely go for the gumbo.  The main dishes were pretty good but not memorable.

Piece Brewery & Pizzeria: We met up with some coworkers of one of our college friends here after the Cubs game.  This was really good pizza.  It’s not deep dish, just regular.  However, you pick your size, sauce, and toppings all a la carte.  It was fantastic and I’d definitely go back.  It also looks like a great place to watch a game with all the TV’s.

Drinks

Bat 17 (Evanston): Recommended by my Northwestern alumni coworkers, we stopped here before hitting the tailgates.  There is a restaurant next door owned by the same folks but we sat in the burger bar and just had drinks.  I was surprised at how quiet it was.  There were a ton of TV’s and it looked like a great place to pregame.  Perhaps it was because classes hadn’t started yet at Northwestern.  They had a great beer deal, a 105-ounce table tap for $35 which the guys really enjoyed.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Mother Hubbard’s Sports Pub: We found this while looking for a place to get a beer and watch football.  It gets my enthusiastic thumbs up for the TV’s and the service, exactly what one wants at a sports bar.  We came back a second time with friends after the Cal game to have dinner.  It was basic bar food, not bad, but nothing to write home about.  I’d definitely go back to watch a game.

Murphy’s Bleachers: One of the Wrigleyville institutions.  Mr. P and I had been here before and chose it this time as our pregame meeting spot for our friends before the Cubs game.  It has a ton of space, including an outside with overhangs in case it’s raining.  It’s also right across the street from the bleacher entrance at Wrigley, so we could gauge how full it was getting before we headed in.  It’s also great for people watching as everyone makes their way to the game.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

If You Go

Bat 17, 1709 Benson Avenue, Evanston, IL
David Burke’s Primehouse
, 616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL (inside the James Hotel)
Eataly, 43 E Ohio Street, Chicago, IL
Heaven on Seven, 600 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL (entrance on Rush Street)
Mother Hubbard’s Sports Pub, 5 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL
Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 N Sheffield Avenue, Chicago, IL
Mustard’s Last Stand, 1613 Central Street, Evanston, IL
Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, 1927 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
Publican Quality Meats, 825 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL
Trenchermen
, 2039 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
Waffles Cafe, 203 E Ohio Street, Chicago, IL
Xoco, 449 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL

My work here with food is never done.  What did I miss?

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Scrapbook Layout: Name Change

Name Change Layout by Natalie ParkerName Change Layout by Natalie ParkerName Change Layout by Natalie ParkerName Change Layout by Natalie Parker

The Story: When I changed my name and officially became a Parker (according to the Social Security Administration and the California DMV).

Not a Glamorous Layout: The design of this layout isn’t going to win any prizes but it’s a good example of my scrapbooking priorities.  A letter from the Social Security Administration isn’t lovely, but it’s what they handed me that day to tell me my name changed and it’s what I showed that same day to change my name at the DMV.  The story always takes precedence over the design.

Two-Font Headline: I’m not thrilled with how this turned out.  I just couldn’t get it to look exactly right but I was happy enough to move on.  I’m still learning how to mix fonts.

Yes, that’s my Old ID Card: Out on teh internets for everyone to see.  Hope you enjoy the picture!  This is why I love my time capsule boxes for each year.  I’m always surprised with what I find in them.  I didn’t use everything in the layout — I saved my old nameplate from my cube as well!

Name Change Layout by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Rockwell | Tools: Silhouette SD (headline) | Supplies: Pioneer SJ-100 Jumbo Scrapbook (scrapbook & pages), Bella Blvd/Sand & Surf/Surf’s Up (paper) | Ephemera: old ID Card, new business card with married name.

Review: Blog Design Love 2.0

Blog Design Love Review by Natalie Parker

I used the Blog Design Love 2.0 ecourse to help with my blog revamp.  Below is a summary of my experience with it.  I paid for the course myself and I was not compensated for my opinions.  This course covers the Typepad, Blogger, and WordPress.com platforms.

Background

I’d been eagerly awaiting the launch of this course.  I’ve wanted to redesign my blog for at least a year but never found the time.  The course was a great impetus for me to get going!

I do know some HTML and CSS but you don’t need to know any to take the course.  You do need to know how to do some basic image editing.  I took a beginning Photoshop course at Skillshare before starting this course and will post about that in a separate review.

What I Liked

The course has a ton of content in it and is a great roadmap if you want to totally revamp your blog from concept to design.  I liked how the lessons were divided up.  I really liked having all the tasks in front of me and I used them as a checklist and got things done.

Even though I know how to code, Elise explained everything very clearly.  If you don’t have coding experience, you should be fine.  There were a few things in the course I never would have thought to do or didn’t know how to do.  I had a couple “why didn’t I think of that?” moments.

There are some things in the course that I’m surprised were included, such as how to sell stuff on your site or create an affiliate network.  I mean surprised in a good way though and I’m glad I have access to this material if I want to sell anything.

Things to Consider

If you are a WordPress.com user, some of the design parts of the course won’t be customizable for you unless you purchase the WordPress $30 Custom Design add-on (such as picking custom fonts or coding your navigation bar).  I ended up purchasing the add-on so I could get it to look how I wanted.  Even with the add-on, you cannot edit a theme’s HTML so you have to make sure the basic bones are where you want them, such as where the navigation bar is located.

Some of the things you see here on my site I coded myself and did not use the course (the way I designed my buttons, for example).  If you’d like to learn more about coding, you can take this free online course which is how I learned.

Summary

This course was a great jumping off point for me and I’m glad I bought it.  Even though I knew how to do some of the stuff already, it was a great way to organize my thoughts and get going.  There is a ton of content and I definitely learned things!  If you’ve been wanting to redesign your blog, I recommend it.

Blog Design Love 2.0 ecourse at A Beautiful Mess, $45

Blog Design Love Review by Natalie Parker

Snapshots: Football Roadtrip to Chicago

Chicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie ParkerChicago Football Roadtrip by Natalie Parker

We’re just back from a football roadtrip where Mr. P and I along with a bunch of our friends from college watched Cal take on Northwestern and spent the rest of the weekend enjoying Chicago.  I’m sometimes reminded that I’m not as young as I used to be in college, but we still managed to pack in quite a weekend.  It went something like this:

Land, dinner, drinks, sleep, transit, lunch, work, dinner, drinks, more drinks, sleep, gameday, transit, bar, tailgate, touchdown bears, transit, dinner, drinks, fireworks, sleep, brunch, sleep, lunch, sightsee, rest, dinner, drinks, sleep, breakfast, pregame, baseball, lunch, drinks, dinner, sleep, home, exhaustion.

I don’t keep travel journals for these short trips, so it’s all starting to run together.

I got to see my very first Cal road game win ever!  I’ve been going to games for fifteen years now and I had never seen a win when I traveled to see them.  I pretty much assumed it was a curse at this point.

It’s really important to me to see the local sights and eats in addition to the football game.  I’m working on a post with tips for taking a football roadtrip — look forward to that in the coming weeks.  For this trip, we spent a lot of time in Chicago and ended the weekend with a Cubs game.

As our group headed into the bleachers at Wrigley Field, we all kept saying how lucky we were.  Thunderstorms were predicted for the entire weekend and we carried ponchos with us to both games.  We didn’t get rained on at all.  Not once.  Sitting there in the beautiful sunshine with our friends watching a ballgame — it was one of those perfect life moments.  We are very lucky indeed.

Yes You Can . . . Code

Yes You Can Code by Natalie Parker

What if I asked you if you could learn a new language?  Not whether you had the time or the desire to.  Just whether you could if you wanted to.

What if I told you that you wouldn’t need to learn how to pronounce it?  What if, unlike other languages, there were set rules and not a lot of exceptions you had to remember?

What if I told you that you didn’t even need to become fluent in the language?  You just needed to learn a couple of things here and there to get by.  Could you learn it if you wanted to?

Then you can code.

A few days ago, I was chatting with an extremely competent woman.  She has an advanced degree and I admire her.  We were talking about code.  “Oh, I could never do that,” she said.  Why not?

When we talk about getting more women into tech, we mean other women.  When we talk about getting girls interested in math and science and teaching them how to code, we mean girls.  Not us.

Let’s stop doing ourselves a disservice.  Anyone who is reasonably competent can learn how to code.  You just have to want to.  And if you don’t want to, that’s just fine.  Just don’t be unkind to yourself and say you can’t do something when I’m sure you can.

I don’t have a computer science degree.  I learned just the basics of HTML and CSS.  I don’t code every day.  I don’t code every month.  But I know I am competent enough to learn it and what I know was enough for me to style my own blog.

Yes you can code.  Not other women, not our daughters.  You can.  And just knowing that you can is enough.

If you’d like to learn HTML and CSS, all the content I used to learn it as a graduate student is available for free online here.