Photography: Dubai

by Jamie Sanford on January 14, 2015

To see all of my photography posts, click here.

I was the designated tourist on our trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I gave William the responsibility of taking lots of gorgeous photos and I just clicked away with the Sony NEX-6. I like this plan because my photos tend to capture the flavor of a place, not just the things deemed worthy. I am fine with this assignment. My whole set is here.

I have more posts coming up with photos from specific outings. This is a selection of the photos taken while we were out and about – mostly from the car. There is a lot of driving in Dubai.

The blue skies and palm trees were a nice break from the impending winter at home.

The bus stops are air conditioned, because they have to be.

We stopped at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary so William could photograph birds. I took this shot of the Dubai skyline, where you can really see the scale of the Burj Khalifa.

It is worth the drive to get in the car and check out all of the beautiful resorts. This is Atlantis at The Palm.


The panorama feature on the NEX-6 is great, once you get used to it. So much easier than stitching in Photoshop!

The architecture did not get old.

Most of the mosques are light colors so this one was a standout.

The road signs are full of information and moderately intimidating.

We went to 5 malls in 4 days. Dubai needs malls because without air conditioning, no one would shop in the summer.

More signage. The tram was not there for our last visit, 7 years ago.

Giant photos like this one are not rare.

There are also still construction sites everywhere. That was the case 7 years ago as well.

My favorite road sign was this one, apologizing for the inconvenience. Would we all deal with this sort of thing better if signs like this existed everywhere?

Coming up – our trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa and dinner at Al Hadeerah at the Bab Al Shams resort.


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3 words for 2015, and how 2014 became my best year ever.

by Jamie Sanford on January 1, 2015

Shout out to Chris Brogan, who has been doing this 3 words thing for a long time.

In an odd move, I deleted my post with my 3 words for 2014. I’m going to guess that this was in a moment of being incredibly disappointed in myself for not having done anything about them and what they were supposed to mean.

I wanted them to make a difference, to make me do the things I should be doing, to remind me of the bigger goals. They didn’t work though. It’s the end of the year and those 3 words were not the starting point for something great.

However, I think 2014 was my best year ever. I think it might be because I didn’t have words to answer to, I didn’t have a plan. I just did some little things and they totally changed my life.

1. In June, I went to the ladydoctor and she reminded me that I’m approaching the age where pregnancy becomes high-risk. I said that I was unsure about kids (I still don’t know if I want any), but that I also didn’t want to find out later if I do want one that I should have been preparing in some way. She told me that losing 30 pounds was probably a good idea, as it would be the expected weight gain during a pregnancy.

I didn’t really want to hear anything about losing weight, because who does? It is TIRED when you are a fat person, but I absorbed the information. Shortly thereafter, I switched to Diet Coke and started using milk in my coffee instead of half & half. I did nothing else, just these 2 changes that took some getting used to, but didn’t hurt. I was not weighing myself, I wasn’t exercising, nothing. It didn’t feel like anything was different, and I quickly became accustomed to the different beverages.

Side note – I would like to move to water only (outside of coffee, you will have to pry the coffee out of my cold, dead hands) in 2015. We’ll see how that goes.

2. Something else in my mental state followed, because I found myself asking the same question in my head over and over – will this thing I’m about to eat make my life better tomorrow? Try this and I swear you will end up eating a lot less crap. Desserts have never really been my thing, but I find that asking this question makes them almost a total nonissue.

3. On September 7th, the weather was nice so I decided to take my phone, turn on Runkeeper, and go for a walk. I’ve gone on about 55 walks since then, which is not a lot in ~4 months for some people, but I haven’t gone to the gym regularly in YEARS, which makes the walking a massive accomplishment. I’ve built up my stamina and now can walk faster and further than in the past. I noticed that my clothing was getting a bit looser as well. I went back to the ladydoctor in early December, and found out that I had lost 15 pounds since June. I was shocked, because I have not done anything but try to make my life better. I have not suffered or deprived myself, I have only done what I wanted to do and what was good for me at that moment, and apparently it is totally working.

Let me be clear though – sometimes I eat things that aren’t great for me, sometimes I do not go walk when I probably could but don’t feel like it. It’s been so important that I never start to feel like I’m making myself miserable to make myself happier. This is why I have failed at a million attempts to change in the past, and I’ve found that the key to stick with something is to not be so strict that when I go off track that my instinct is to totally give up.

Anyway, somewhere in there, other things changed too. I am happier. I tend to skew towards depression (I’ve done medication, therapy, etc), and I have felt lighter in the last few months than I can remember in recent time. It culminated for me a few days ago, when I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for my life and what I have in it, that I could not stop from tearing up and wanting to hug my husband again and again. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before, and it was exhilarating.

I have spent a lot of time (literally years) reading about self-love and going through Gala Darling’s offerings (if you don’t know about Gala, go check her out RIGHT NOW), and while all of it made sense, I never felt a moment of “a-ha!” that changed things for me. However, all of the little changes I have made have sort of backed me into the self-love butter zone, and I understand now that it is vital to making every aspect of my life better. I get it now.

I deserve to be the best version of me that I can. I am smart and talented and I deserve the good things that come to me. I am open to receiving all of the happiness and success available to me. Typing this stuff still sounds ridiculous but it isn’t at all ridiculous. Taking proper care of myself and believing in myself and my abilities is key to being able to do everything else that I want to do. I understand that more than I ever have, and it feels real now.  It also feels pretty amazing, and I highly recommend it.

That being said, my three words for 2015 are expand, contract, continue. Together, they are a reminder to respond to any and all things by stopping, taking a deep breath, and moving on. In addition:


I want to expand my current efforts to improve myself, my health, my skills. I have learned my lesson about doing things that feel so gargantuan when you jump into them that you can’t maintain the effort, and won’t be doing that again. More little things.


I will not create space for people and things I do not need, that do not serve me and my goals. I will shrink my expectations to focus on smaller goals and improvements. I do not expect anything to happen overnight, and I will continue to make small steps toward improvements.


I have seen a glimpse of what small changes can do when they accumulate, so I will keep going. I haven’t been this motivated or happy in such a long time, how could I not keep going?


2015, let’s not disappoint each other.


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Top 5 Posts of 2014

by Jamie Sanford on December 31, 2014

So here we are, at the end of 2014. The year was filled with blog posts that I really enjoyed creating and worked very hard on. None of those ended up being in the top 5! I will admit though, that the ones I love are also the longest and maybe a bit harder to digest.

So here are the top 5 for this year!

1. Broadway Lighted Vanity Makeup Desk from Vanity Girl Hollywood

From October 2012, I feel like this is a completely unhelpful post for most people. However, the title and such make for happiness in Googleland.

2. Product Picks #3: Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy Hydrating Keratin Masque

This is from March 2013. Actually helpful though, I give my honest review of this hair masque.

3. Video Shopping: Adam Savage – Everyday Carry

From April 2013, the Adam Savage Everyday Carry post was sparked by watching Adam’s video on and looking up every single thing.

4. Product Review: Aura Paint by Benjamin Moore.

Way back in January 2010, I reviewed Aura paint, and it is STILL my most visited blog post. Benjamin Moore should be paying me for this.

5. Product Pick #6: OPI Natural Nail Strengthener

From August 2013. Another product review that hopefully is helpful! I do love the product.


Is this a bad sign for my content? Everything with the most activity is pretty old. Which means it has had more time to be indexed. I am happy with the content in 2014 and intend to continue on the brand experience journey in 2015.


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Formula One -Derland: Abu Dhabi 2014

by Jamie Sanford on December 30, 2014

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It’s been a bit over a month since the last Formula One race of 2014 – my first time attending a race, the last race of the season, etc.

I cannot tell you how much fun we had, how exciting it is, how the sound is NOTHING like what I expected, how watching races on TV is so far removed from the live experience. It was overwhelming and amazing and reverberating through my chest and WOW.

I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I planned because I was doing the right thing and taking it all in.

We arrived at such a time that we would be able to see the driver’s parade at 3:30. The race was scheduled to start at 5. We got there early enough to walk through a large area of shops and food merchants. After some chicken nuggets – yes, I went all the way to Abu Dhabi and had chicken nuggets – we got to watch the podium presentation for the GP2 race that had just finished and start waiting for the F1 action.

Will bought me this in the airport on the way to Abu Dhabi.

Pre-race selfie with William and his brother Andrew.

The biggest downside of going to a race live is that you can’t see the whole track. Luckily there are giant monitors showing the feed that we see on TV to keep updated on the rest of the race.

There was a HUGE contingent of #teamLH at the race, supporting championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

It was Fernando’s last race for Ferrari. He’s off to McLaren with Jenson Button as his teammate!

Ferrari World was viewable through the marina. We didn’t get a chance to go but we will make it back at some point.

Our view to the left, unfortunately blocked, but we could see all the way down the straight. This was the DRS zone going into turn 11, we saw lots of action!

Here’s a distorted panorama of our view. It was the turns in quick succession that were wonderful. Plus, after the hard braking, the guttural sound of the engine hit you square in the chest, which was amazing and intense!

Did I mention the start? It was crazy.

Here’s my Instagram video from lap 1. The crowd around us REALLY enjoyed Lewis’ blazing start.

Lap 1. The crowd went nuts when we saw the start! #abudhabi #abudhabigp #teamlh #golewis

A video posted by Jamie Sanford (@jamiesanford) on

The transition from day to night was so well done – the track lighting is no joke. It was also noticeably cooler in the desert after the sun went down.

So, after the most insane start, Lewis managed to pull away from Nico quite effectively. Andrew used his phone to get access to a live feed of the team radio transmissions that we were not privy to since we were not watching the race on TV. We knew something was wrong with Nico Rosberg’s car, which was confirmed later. Not the best for him, but ultimately, he and Lewis both finished the season with 3 races in which the car failed. Nico did manage to finish the race, but he was pretty far back as the car had multiple issues. Meanwhile, Lewis’ car wasn’t perfect either. If Felipe Massa had been given a few more laps, it might have been a victorious day for him.

We also watched some amazing moves and passes by Daniel Ricciardo. The Red Bulls had started in the pit lane because of illegal wings on the cars during qualifying, and both drivers did really well. Ricciardo finished 4th, Vettel 7th.

Side note – Formula One cars are BEAUTIFUL in person. It is not something you capture on television, but they are absolutely lovely. My favorites were the Red Bulls, Ferraris, and Caterhams. I really need to make sure I get a pit walk on my next race outing because I need to see them closer than we could from our seats.

As it was, the podium finishers were Hamilton, Massa, and Valtteri Bottas. It was wonderful to watch Lewis’ victory lap and also the podium ceremony. I am not sure that anyone isn’t happy for him, he drove his ass off all season and I think is the clear champion. Nico Rosberg performed in qualifying, but races actually count and Lewis had MANY more victories.

We really did have the best time. It was immediately clear that we would need to start planning to go to more races because this was GREAT. It was capped off by Romain Grosjean driving next to us in a tunnel near the circuit in a random Audi. He must really love to drive to be driving himself away from a race track where he has spent the last 3 days driving. I really hope he has a better season next year.

I don’t know what else to say. I was SO excited to be there, as were my husband and brother-in-law, and I think that the day will forever be clouded by a veil of pure joy. It only cemented my love for the sport. I am already super excited for next season, and am still contemplating if we can make it work to go to the race in Montreal in June.

Thanks to everyone who reads my Formula One-Derland posts!


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Instagram Roundup #118: 2014 Year in Review

by Jamie Sanford on December 29, 2014

Check out all of the Instagram Roundups here.

It was a year full of wonderful Throwback Thursdays out of an album of pictures of Mom and Dad.

Lots of instafortunes too.

The estate sailing went into full effect. Lots of opportunities to see the insides of many homes.

William mastered the art of creative crepes, to my complete benefit.

Bought this duct tape because it was funny, and it became a running punch line in our life.

Multiple flatiron photos, always on the way to 41 Madison.

Another set of themed photos were of dolls who were not interested in your nonsense. It turns out that there are lots of opportunities to see dolls with attitude at estate sales.

Will graduated with his new master’s degree in May, and we booked a last-minute cruise to Bermuda!

We only spent a little bit of time at an actual beach, but we made the most of it. I want to fly back for a weekend soon.

We went to the Fancy Food Show with Christina and Johnny.

The 1999 Altima had its last ride on July 4th.

We replaced it with a 2014 Hyundai Tucson. This is Will and I’s first new car!

Meet-a-versary selfie.

It felt like we went to Medieval Times a few times this year, but I actually think it was just twice.

These two are my partners-in-crime.

Multi-generational photo from when we took Mom and Dad to Margaretville, NY, where Dad’s Dad’s Dad was born and raised.

Pete visited and we spent an afternoon at the Museum of Natural History.

Will gave you sexy librarian realness at Lincoln Center.

We went to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for Thanksgiving – here we are going to dinner with Mom and Dad.

We went to our first Formula One race, which I still haven’t blogged about, and it was a serious highlight of the year.

Possibly my prettiest Instagram of the year, at the Burj Al Arab.

We dragged family members estate sailing. Mom came with us in early December.

A week later, my nephew Phil came along.

I will close out with what is my favorite Instagram of the year, from our birthday dinner. I have much to say about this man and our relationship, but it boils down to me being the luckiest person, and how I am trying to keep constantly aware of how grateful and blessed I am. I have been much more present in that as of late and want to continue it to 2015 and beyond.

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