Flowers Around the World

by Jackie D on February 15, 2014

budapest“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”  -Henri Matisse

I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day, mostly because it means I don’t have to buy chocolate for myself for at least one day of the year. It’s also a holiday that involves flowers, and recently I’ve become kind of obsessed with having bouquets of fresh flowers in my apartment.jersusalem

I’ve spent a few V-days alone and a few with significant others, and I can’t say I prefer one over the other. One Valentine’s Day I took a day trip to San Francisco with my then-boyfriend, and we wandered around the city, drank expensive beers, and spent the night at a fancy hotel. He gave me roses and I picked them out one by one as we wandered around the city, leaving them in stores or at a restaurant, on the sidewalk and in the car, until I’d left all but a couple of them all over the city.

One year, a boyfriend gave me a book of quotations for Valentine’s Day. Another year I got a book of love poems, and another year I was given a chocolate mold of someone’s actual penis. It was delicious. tronconesLast year, I spent Valentine’s Day alone making myself dinner in a t-shirt with cats all over it. I bought myself a little bouquet of tulips and had some wine. This year, I’m spending the weekend with friends, and my little Valentine’s Day gift was a beautiful book of maps from my parents (my eternal valentines).

Wherever you are around the world and whoever you are or aren’t with this weekend, I hope you’re wearing a cat t-shirt and leaving roses all over the

1. Budapest 2. Jerusalem 3. Troncones 4. Paris

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A New Look: Inspired by Old Favorites

by Jackie D on January 25, 2014

villa ephrussi de rothschild

As you may have noticed, things are looking a little different around here. I should have known that when Hannah asked me to think of the inspiration for my new site design, I would eventually settle on France. The French Riviera, of course. If it’s at all possible for someone to become a stereotype of herself, I think I’ve finally done that.

There are non-French aspects here too, though. One thing that I love almost as much as France is architecture, and I think Hannah did a lovely job of capturing all of the qualities of the architecture that I’ve loved around the world.

The windows you see in the header and between each post are all French Riviera, mostly from the art museums I explored for an entire summer a few years ago –

matisse museum

But the bright, vibrant colors are more reminiscent of the houses I loved when walking along the one sandy road on Little Corn Island, or when riding the bus through rural Guatemala, or wandering the streets of various little towns in Mexico:

little corn island

At first I thought I wanted this bold, patterned design with all of these different colors and things going on. I love designs that are made up of all these disparate little elements and colors that don’t seem to match at first glance, yet when you look at them, they’re ornate and beautiful. One of the most intricate and beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem:

dome of the rock

But as it was coming together, I realized that what I really like is the look of something simple and elegant overall, with a few quirky details here and there, something like the buildings in the south of Portugal –

faro portugal

And so we have it. A simple, clean design with a few bright colors here and there and a couple adorable windows to remind me of my favorite place in the world.

A few new elements in my sidebar:

A fancy “Featured By” section! This makes me look important and therefore I require that you admire it.

“Jackie’s Sister Travels.” Clicking on that icon will take you to my little sister’s blog, where you can read about her adventures with the Peace Corps in Guinea, Africa.

Instagram and Pinterest thumbnails. Because we all know how great I am at photography.

“Reading.”  I have really good taste in literature so you should probably pay close attention to this.

“Where I’ve Been.” A really cool map that shows how much of the western hemisphere I’ve explored and how much of the eastern hemisphere I’ve neglected. Click on the icon for a bigger map with all of the countries listed.

This is exciting, guys. Even with all of the pink. I have to admit, the pink is something that I’ve had to get used to. As some of you know, the apartment I’ve been renting for the past few months has a bright pink toilet and pedestal sink, and so I’ve recently adopted the new motto “Just go with the crazy pink toilet.” I’ve found it applies to a surprising number of situations in life — or maybe just my life? Is that worrisome that I find pink toilets to be so relevant?

I’m not sure. But we’re just going with the crazy pink toilet until further notice. And we’re doing it in style!

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Jackie Takes Photography Classes

by Jackie D on July 2, 2013

Finally, right? As I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts, I’m currently working at a photography store/studio, and as a result I am able to take any of the classes we offer for free or at a discount. I decided to start with the 6 week beginning series, which teaches new photographers a different skill/topic each week, i.e. exposure, composition, flash, focus, and so on.

This went… mostly well. I have a lot to learn.


One of my homework assignments. I took like 300 pictures of these goddamn roses.

When I was in school, I had a difficult time focusing in math, science, and religion classes. I found myself easily distracted. One of my math teachers would say something about the Law of Syllogism and I would think, You know, that sounds like it would be a theme in one of the books I’m reading for my literature class. And I would write that down in place of the actual definition for the Law of Syllogism.

When I look back at my notes for any of those classes (nostalgia + wine = this situation), I pay most attention to everything I wrote in the margins — a funny quote from my teacher or one of my classmates, a cool plot idea for a story I would probably never start, or, often, a draft of a letter to a friend, whining about some boy.

In my recent Photography classes, I sometimes found myself doing the same thing. This isn’t to say that the classes didn’t interest me — but there were parts of the lessons that dealt with very technical terms and numbers, and those started giving me horror flashbacks of Algebra class. This was especially true of f-stops, which combine letters with numbers — a crime against letters if I’ve ever heard one.

An example of something I wrote in the margins during photography class: “There is more than one right answer in this situation– this is something that science-people will have a problem with.”

I have no idea what I was referring to, but it sounds like it must have been a pretty profound break through.


Obviously my cat was included in most of my homework assignments.

That’s the main thing that intimidates me, I think — combining the technical with the artistic. If I was facing Science and Science alone, no art in the picture, then I could maybe trick myself into working in Science mode and I could maybe sort of find a way to figure it out. But when you give me Science with a little Art on the side, you’re essentially just teasing me: here, Jackie, there’s some art here, so maybe you can use that to help you understand the Science, yeah?

No, I’ll tell you — whoever You are at this point (why is everything capitalized?) — if you give me science but you mix it with art, I will only focus on the art and I’ll ignore the science altogether. I know this because it’s exactly how I am with writing and computers.

I prefer writing via computer to writing by hand, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that computer knowledge comes easily to me. Instead of viewing the computer as this wonderful feat of science, I view it as a semi-frustrating machine that happens to be a convenient means for creating art. At least, convenient when it’s doing exactly what I want it to, which is probably about 60% of the time, on a good week.

I imagine this is how my relationship with my camera will progress for a while, possibly forever. It frustrates me — it’s essentially just a smaller computer, with fewer buttons but just as many technical terms. I understand the artistic parts perfectly — composition, light, mood — but tell me to spot meter something and it will take me at least five minutes and three swear words.

conch shell


I’m hoping that by the next time I travel somewhere beautiful, I’ll have made enough peace with Science to take at least one good picture of the experience.

For now, I am going to try to decipher these cryptic notes I wrote to myself in the margins. I have a feeling there’s a best-selling novel in here somewhere.

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