Speaking of Photoshoots…

Facebook reminded me that this was my cover photo four years ago today. Some facts about this shot:

1. It was part of a professional photoshoot we did while on our amazing girls’ trip to Paris.

2. That trip was four years ago in February.

3. It was freezing cold.

4. I’m not exaggerating.

5. I look at our smiles, our mid-struts, and our shiny, effortless melanin and I remember, despite the frigid weather, how much fun we had.

6. I miss my friends, traveling, and just living life the way we lived pre-quarantine.

But, all things considered, staying at home during this time means staying safe and doing my little part in not making life harder for folks like my two friends in that photo above, both of whom are on the frontlines and work in healthcare. So, I can reminisce and gaze at photos and make plans for the future—all while staying within the confines of my home.

If you’re interested in reading more about our Paris trip, start here and keep on reading.

Where would you like travel to after restrictions are lifted? Share in the comments, if you like.

Image: GIPHY

Singleton Photoshoots: The Quarantine Edition.

Singleton Photoshoots: The Quarantine Edition.

If you live alone like me and still have dress-up time during this quarantine (I happily put on makeup and shed the sweats for my weekly worship Zoom meetings and virtual ministry), selfies become a bit tiresome. Because all you largely do is selfie, quarantine or no.

Alas: I have a solution, dear Singleton. You probably know this stuff already, but sharing is caring. 

  1. Get you a tripod. There are awesome options on Amazon. I got this one and love it immensely. It’s basically a selfie stick and a tripod in one. Best thing is you can either landscape or portrait the photos/videos. (Yes, I just turned those nouns into verbs.) The one I purchased also came with a Bluetooth remote, so you can snap away from wherever you like in your home. Just pair it up with your camera/smartphone.
  2. Set up the tripod/phone accordingly.
  3. Photo. shoot.

I did this last Thursday before my Zoom worship meeting and let me tell you. I loved it. And can I just say, as you will see below: patterns mean nothing when you’re at home and no one can see your bottom half. *wink* Check out my slideshow below.

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I got that dazzling blouse from Amazon (are you shopping from Amazon yet? Because: amazing) and the skirt from my beloved Ross. The lipstick I’m wearing is a matte shade from Wet and Wild that I picked up during my Walmart essential item shopping trip last week. 

In all seriousness: as a woman who loves dressing up and looking her best for herself, on a completely self-blooming level, the beginning of the lockdown wasn’t easy. Even with my weekly meetings, I felt like a total lump. Add my baby-steps fitness schedule and yeah, I was down and out. But in time, and in trying to seek the brighter side, these little things–photoshoots, dressing up for no reason, which I prescribe, as well–have made a difference. Do whatever you need to do to feel better, to smile brighter, and to not feel like a lump. 

Tell me what you’ve been doing to creatively enhance your virtual life in the comments. Bon Monday. 

Monday Allergies and Bons Weekends.

I’m seriously considering seeking out an allergist. I can’t handle the first day of the week, y’all. Like I seriously cannot. I fidget. I have mental hives. I nearly itch. I literally lay in bed and rally against waking up, as if Monday is standing beside my bed with her arms crossed and an annoyed, impatient expression on her face. Ugh.

The weekend was fabulous, my friends. On Friday (which I claim as a weekend day), I joined some of my mom friends for a trip with their tween/teen daughters to Deep Ellum, an artsy, delightful area in downtown Dallas. It was my first time there, still being on tourist status after a year and five months, and I loved it something awful. There was a rustic flair everywhere; lovely murals; great venues and restaurants. My artistic heart was booming quite happily. Pictorials below, y’all.

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Friday evening was warm and lovely. On Saturday, Texas displayed its crazy weather and drowned us in thunderstorms and rain. So I hung out on my couch that evening and watched a bit of telly and tooled around on the iPad.

On Sunday, me and a friend decided to check out the Dallas Jazz Age Sunday Social after brunch. They had me at jazz age. Folks were dressed up in their flappery best; even the menfolk got into it, giving it their Robert Redford The Great Gastby best. There was music playing; classic cars driving down the avenues (I love classic cars from bygone eras), museums showing doctor’s offices and general stores from that time. So much fun! Really spoke to my vintage everything heart, and it was a great addition to seeing the local color/being a tourist in my own backyard initiative. See photos below.

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Fun and laughter were had. (Can I mention that I’ve been really enjoying taking pictures lately? Not of myself–although, hey, it’s a thing I enjoy–but of objects and nature and other people. We’ll chat about this growing love later this week.)

How was your weekend, my little cabbage? 

Blogvember #22: Choices.(Mission Possible)

This was the photo I used for the back of my recent work of fiction, The Loftiest Thing. I love this photo. For one thing, the trees in the background absolutely fit the title’s theme, which was also one of the stories in the book. Secondly, I think my photographer (who also happens to be a good, longtime friend) captured the joy I felt at having accomplished this latest creative project. The natural lighting, the setting: parfait. 

My third book is on the horizon. Can we pause to celebrate this?


A part of me wants to keep that photo for the back cover. The other part of me wants to change it up. Just because change is always refreshing, and I think this third book represents some of the changes I’ve made with how I want to present my art. Below are the three photos I’m considering. 


Your mission, if you choose to accept it (and why wouldn’t you? You love me, right?): what say you? Pick the photo you like the most and tell me your option in the comments. I’m partial to all three of them, so I’m no help. The most-picked will win and I’ll make it my back photo. 

Happy choosing on my behalf…

Meanwhile, in Paris: To All the Crêpes I’ve Loved Before…

…bow before your benevolent mistress.

crepeParis

It was inevitable that I, a faithful lover of crêpes since my aunt introduced me to them when I was about six years old, would enjoy one of my favorite desserts in the country of its birth. I ate it in seconds, pausing only for one of my girls to snap this photo of me. (Can we talk about her marvelous photo, by the way? Capturing that lovely Eiffel and the breathtaking moon all in one fell swoop? I still hold my breath when I look at this picture.)

A few things:

  • Inside the crêpe was warm Nutella chocolate. So basically all of my dreams coming true and life being given.
  • You’ll notice my one gloved hand. It was chilly that evening, but I certainly had to eat my beloved delicacy with a free, naked hand. Enter the quirky compromise.
  • See that joy in my eyes? This is what crêpes do.

All right, that’s my cue to stop before I start penning sonnets.

Want to tell me everything about your favorite dessert? Make it good and yummy. 

Meanwhile, (back) in Paris…

…we did a photo shoot in the City of Lights during our trip. One of my girls is developing a travel site and wanted some shots of the three of us gallivanting around the city. Here are three of my favorite shots (honestly, all of the photos are my favorite); I’ll share more as we merrily go along here on This Square Peg.

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Groupphoto1

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So here’s the thing:

  1. It was freezing that morning. That statement deserves italics: it was freezing that morning. As you can see, we didn’t have jackets, scarves, or gloves on in these photos, and we also wore our fancy shoes to and from le metro and on the streets. So yeah: cold, cranky, and craving a pair of flats. At least that was me.
  2. But I eventually appreciated, in line with the above, that such is the life of ladies who want lovely photos. My girls reminded me more than once about all those episodes of America’s Next Top Model I watched back in the day: you suffer for beauty and you smize while doing it. To get that dreamy light you see in the photos and to capture our chocolate selves in this amazing city, being cold/cranky/craving flats was worth it. And it really was. When we finally got back home and rubbed Aspercreme on our poor feet and limbs, we whooped with delight about the whole experience.
  3. My friends really are amazing. They didn’t have to ask me to join the photo (and real talk: I was minutes from going right back home on le metro when that cold air hit me) but they did. And I have these amazing pictorial memories to show for it.
  4. Our photographer was everything you imagine photogs to be: creative, intent on capturing awesome shots each and every time, and very comfortable with ordering us to “smile at each other!” over and over again. He was a delight.
  5. Parisians love seeing three women walking around the city as they pose for photos. We received more than a few smiles, curious stares in our direction, and a thumbs up from a funkily dressed lady who passed us by on the sidewalk.

It really was fun. As this Friday wears on and I find myself feeling slightly blue/down/not myself, it’s nice to reminisce and find a smile on my face as I recall that morning.

Have a lovely weekend, all.

Meanwhile, in Paris…Round-Up #1

Because there was just so much to capture, so much to do, so much to see, and so many joints to rub with Aspercreme after traipsing around the city to keep up with regular blog updating during the trip. (On the latter statement, I used my trust Fitness app and my calculator: we walked a complete total of 56,065 steps, from when we arrived in Paris to when we departed.) By no means an obnoxious complaint, of course, and pardon the obnoxity (not a word). We just packed in so much in those eight days in the City of Lights that by the end of the day, when WiFi did its job, I sat on the sofa like a zombie and eyed my sleep mask more than my WordPress app.

Anyway, I’m baaaaccck.

We arrived back in the US of A last Thursday, which was Friday, France time, which meant that the jet lag I suffered after my Germany/England trip was going to visit me, Parisian style. But other than waking up on Friday with aches on body parts I didn’t even know I had, I was able to eventually come back to normal. Back to work, back to supervisors that confuse administrative staff for babysitters, back to life. But, again, no complaints. As one of my travel buddies and good friends astutely put it during our trip, “we work so we can travel.” Many more photos will come as the week and the month wears on. I took many for me, which means there were many for you, dear reader. Below, however, are a few things I learned, some travel tips, etc.

Pinterest Travel really is a thing. If you don’t already, I welcome all future travelers to start pinning away when they decide where they’re going. Yes, we pin things that will never happen in reality (or maybe just me? See my recipes and home decor boards), but it’s worth making actual travel plans by pin. The three of us happened to do this on our own and were able to have a list of places we wanted to visit, restaurants we wanted to stuff our faces in, etc. Images of Paris that I’ve gazed at for months and months came roaring back to me, reminding of all the places I wanted to go that I didn’t have a chance to visit the first time I visited the city twelve years ago. So, yeah, create them boards, y’all. They will come in handy.

English may not be the evil that shall not be named after all. The last time I visited France, I was with French speakers. They did all the communicating for me (see past posts on the ineffectual nature of my brain and the French language), for one thing, which made things cushy and great. But I certainly wasn’t blind to the French side eye the natives cast in my direction when my friends would mention that I was American. Anyway, it’s 2016, people. This time, you had three ladies who spoke very little French (I know my vocab, but conversation? Le crickets). I wondered how we would do, how we would communicate, all the side eye that would come in our direction if we butchered the language, whether people would even give us the time of day (they’re known to not give you the time of day, by the way). It was fine. Once it was established that we were ‘Mericans, most of the people helping us easily switched to English. It was awesome. Didn’t mean that we didn’t try to speak like the natives, but it was nice to recognize that the pressure was off.

Le Metro. I envisioned a lot of Uber rides to our destinations. I just did. When I go to New York, for example, unless I’m with someone who lives there, I avoid the subway like the plague. Cabs and Uber for me. But the advantage of living like two steps away from the metro station where we were (13th arrondisement and about 10-15 minutes outside of Paris) was that we learned how to use the system. And it was awesome. First of all, the French have a pink line, so applause for that on its own. Second, it’s very, very easy to figure out. Grab a Navigo card (valid for a whopping ten years), load it up, grab a map (which has all the touristy sites listed on it) or an app (I loved the Paris Metro app; very handy for creating routes and easily seeing what lines to take), and you’re good to go. We only made use of Uber to Versailles, which would have taken a zillion hours by train, and for those nights when we were gallivanting around the city way past our bedtimes.

Honorable Mentions that I’m sure you know already. 1) It helped to not reside so close to Paris. We were away from the crowds and able to get everywhere by train. If possible, with any city, really, some distance between you and the hotbed is really quite nice. 2) Bring cash. Just better. A credit card in case of emergencies, but cash is just better. Make friends with the ATMs in the area. 3) Use up your coinage. Most banks won’t covert them.

Last but Not Least in Any Way. Pick pockets don’t play. Mind your stuff at all times. There were plenty of occasions when my starry-eyed appraisal of the city kept me from noticing that the opening to my cross-body handbag was behind me rather than in front of me. Don’t be like me. Or, as it also was in my case, have a good friend to quickly remind you to come back to earth and watch your bag.

It was a marvelous. magnificent trip, dear readers. I loved every moment of it. Even the aching joints and the Aspercreme. There’s more to tell and I will tell and I will share. At this point, though, I leave you with a photo I took with my girls during the trip. The smiles say all, n’est-ce pas?

  

Thank Ya, Mama.

 
Thank ya, Mama, for genes that make me look 21 years old. I don’t want to return to 21, but it sure is nice to look it.

(This photo was snapped by my good friend and talented photographer during a trip to NYC a few weeks ago. That’s her IG handle. Check out her work. You really want to.)

((Go to How Old-Net and waste plenty of your precious time posting photos of your face to see how old you look.))