Friday, February 27, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday #37--Moto Shadow

TGIF!! This has been sort of a hanging-in and hanging-on and hanging-back week. I am still trying to get back to 100% health and catch up on a few of the zillion things that have been piling themselves onto my To Do list. And Jason had a motorcycle issue (that is hopefully soon-to-be-resolved), so when I was looking through the photos this week for Favorite {Photo} Friday, I decided to choose this one.

In November of 2006 Jason conned me into somehow convinced me to go on a cross-country, 12 day motorcycle trip from the northeast of Italy all the way down to Sicily and back again. I don't know what I was thinking! See in the northeast corner, Udine and Venice? We lived between those two; that's where we started. We drove down to Rome, through Naples, down to the toe of the boot at Reggio Calabria, took a ferry across to Sicily, and then rode clockwise around Sicily. From Palermo we took a ferry back to Rome and then drove home.

If that does not seem far to you then you've never ridden 12 days on the back of a motorcycle. It was a truly crazy and amazing adventure. I learned a lot and Jason and I experienced a lot together; a country is experienced differently on the back of a motorcycle than by any other means of travel. I could write a book about it, actually (and for a while considered doing just that). I'm glad we did it even thought I would never do it again. And I love looking at all the photos from the trip... I should make a photobook with them all.

Have a great weekend, everyone. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Week of Firsts

I've had so many "firsts" this past week!

♥ I actually used the Crock Pot we've been hauling around with us back and forth across the country and across the ocean! I made a really super yummy soup. It was totally awesome to have dinner finished by 9:30 a.m. and I will use the Crock Pot more now for sure. Next I want to see if I can can the soup (in canning jars, you know, old-fashioned goodness)--it would be great to have my own ready-made yummy soup for quick lunches. Jess, do you have any advice for me on this?

♥ I. Went. To. Bloomingdales! Now, if you know me then you know that I'm not really a shopper. I could wear jeans and a black sweater/turtleneck/long-sleeved tee/short-sleeved tee/tank top every day of my life, depending on the weather. I generally buy new clothes only when I no longer fit into the stuff in my closet, or when I wear out my favorite black top. So why is Bloomingdales such a big deal? I started college in 1994; the same year that Friends debuted. I watched every episode throughout college; then when Jason and I moved to Las Vegas and were twenty-somethings trying to figure out adult life, we spent every Thursday night with those other twenty-somethings trying to figure out adult life: Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, and Monica. We own all ten seasons on DVD and re-watched every episode (in order, naturally) when we were in Italy. I saw soooo many of those "big brown bags" throughout the years. So when I saw in the paper that Clinique was having a gift-with-purchase at Bloomingdales, and I was going to be in the area anyway, I had to stop in. I didn't even shop around. I just went to the Clinique counter, placed my order, and got my goodies in my very own brown bag! (And it's a sweet gift, too, by the way--they ran out of the original gift so we got a different gift worth twice as much!)

♥ I met my new friend Michelle for the first time! We'll both be going to Inspired this year and so we got together to meet and I helped her out a bit with a charm swap we're both doing. She's super sweet and her son Jonah is an absolute doll!

♥ I saw my friend Todd for the first time since our high school graduation! It was so fun! It was great to catch up with him and to meet his friends Julie and Rasheed. We went out to eat and then hung out at the hotel bar until late. By the time Jason and I caught the Metro to our car and drove home and settled down and got to bed it was almost 3 a.m. I haven't been out that late in a looooong time! Totally worth it, though, we had a great time! Here is Jason and I, Todd, and Julie (Rasheed took the photo!). Of course we only remembered to get a photo after we'd all put our coats on, but at least we remembered! :)

♥ I ate Burmese food for the first time! It was really good. The reviews online said that it was kind of a cross between Chinese and Thai with a dash of Indian. My favorite dish was the green tea leaf salad, so crunchy and tangy and unusual! (There we are in the restaurant, above.)

John brought us our first batch of eggs from his family's chickens! I love how all the eggs are different sizes. I also love how orange the yolks in farm-fresh eggs are (but I don't have a photo of that yet).

♥ For the first time ever I have a camera strap I LOVE! Jen sent it to me and it's the best thing since sliced bread. To be honest I had to watch the video about how it's suppose to work (because it's sooo different than any other camera strap--innovation, baby!) but it's my new favorite thing for sure! I hate being bogged down with a purse and a camera bag, and then the camera's never ready when I want it... but problem solved with this awesome strap! The day I got it I was so excited that I ran to show it to Jason as soon as he got home from work, and his comment was, "Jeez, wish you coulda had that when we were traveling around Europe, huh?" It's SWEET. I think I will think up places to go take photos just so I can use this amazing strap. I'm not even kidding. [PLUS the company is based in Seattle which makes it even stinkin' cooler!]

♥ I finally started playing with my new lens for the first time since I received it at Christmas. And all I can say is Oh. My. Gah! Why didn't I buy this lens a long time ago? I am addicted. LOVE it! I'm also so happy that I asked for the 1.4 rather than the 1.8. Love the super-shallow depth of field! This is sort of a silly shot of a dictionary page, but see how only a tiny bit is in focus and the rest blurs more and more the further out it is? That's because of the aperture, which in this shot is 1.4. It opens up photographic worlds for me. Ohhhh yes, this will be awesome to play with!

See you on Friday! :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday #36--Carnivale

Over the next few days people in many different parts of the world are partying it UP! Ash Wednesday is next... well, obviously Wednesday... and that marks the start of Lent. So through Fat Tuesday they are partying and dancing and eating meat and consuming loads of bad, yummy food and drinks in preparation for 40 days of fasting and prayer. OR they're just partying because it's Mardi Gras, or Carnival, or Carnivale, and they won't actually observe Lent at all. Either way, it's party time, Baby!

In 2006 and 2007 I headed down to Venice (Italy, not California :)) for the big day, the final day of Carnivale. There is a large parade of sorts and a runway show and then the costumed participants sort of hang out in Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) to be photographed.

In 2006 I was totally overwhelmed with the chaos and I took a bunch of photos like this one:

So not what I'd been hoping for, obviously. (And not a Favorite {Photo} on any Friday!) Here's another shot just to show how many people were there:

Uh, yeah, it was packed.

When I went back in 2007 I'd practiced working with my camera a bit more and I knew what to expect. I watched the professional photographers to see what they did. And what they did, basically, was to all crowd around one of the performers and while the amateurs were busy snapping away with their camera phones (what is even the friggin' point, honestly, you're in VENICE for crying out loud, use a real camera!) they would crouch down in front of the performer so that all the background of the other people was cut away and they were framed against the tops of the buildings or the sky. And they took like a zillion photos of each person, because inevitably one of those camera phone idiots would crash into you or walk in front of you at a key moment.

So I crouched. I crawled, almost literally, into the crowds around each performer to get close enough to get my shots. And I got shots like this:

Much better. :) This one is my favorite of all the shots I took that day because I love that the person in front is afire and the person in the background is so icy.

But I did take some other shots that I adore, too. This one is my second favorite but just by a smidge.

I wish that Jason had been there with me to photograph me taking photos. It was hilarious. For this photo there were people crammed in on every side of me. I had to literally get into a crouch and crawl between peoples' legs to get inside the circle surrounding this character. I love how the sun is shining across the face and making spiky shadows from the feathers on the hat.

For this photo I snuck behind the stage and took this photo of the Ice Prince (Princess?) waiting to walk onto the catwalk. I got one fraction of a second when noone was walking in the frame and I grabbed it. Or at least that's what I proudly thought, until I got home and found someone in the shadows (but that's what Photoshop's for, right?). :)

This one was taken outside of the square, overlooking the Grand Canal. I love the two faces.

I spent so many hours crouching down and standing back up and squatting to take photos, I could barely walk for two days afterwards! Oh, the suffering we do for art, right? :) Totally worth it! :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

C + J

I found this on Elise's blog, who apparently found it on Dooce's blog, and when I went to her site to get the link for her name I discovered that she got it from Facebook. Such is the internet, yes? Anyway, it's kinda fun! I sent it to Jason, too, so we'll see if he actually replies and how our answers compare. :)

What are your middle names?
Cameron and Edgar.

How long have you been together?
We've been married for 9 years next month and together for 10.5.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
We were best friends for a year and a half before we became a couple.

Who asked whom out?
Hmmm... it kind of just happened, like a gravitational force pulling us together. :)

How old are each of you?
We're both 33, although I always think we are one year older than we are. Jason's birthday is in June so as soon as he has his birthday I start thinking of us as his new age, and by the time my birthday rolls around in October I just add another year. So Jason will turn 34 in June, I'll start saying we're 34, then in October I'll say I'm 35, ha ha! I always tell people the wrong age when they ask me and then catch myself... they probably think I'm nuts, not remembering how old I am! :)

Whose siblings do you see the most?
It's been about even, I think, at least last year since my sister had a baby and I went to visit her twice. But Jason's sister travels more and usually travels home (to Oregon) when we travel home, so it's easier to see her; I have to make more of an effort to see my sister (and her babies!).

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
I think this question is intended to mean an ongoing situation, but I can't read it without my brain screaming, "South Korea!" Living on different continents for a year, separated by not only the largest ocean in the world but also by two entirely different cultures and a 17 frickin' hour time difference is not easy on a marriage, yo. What didn't kill us made us stronger but what a friggin' price to pay.

Did you go to the same school?

Are you from the same home town?
Nope. We grew up about 45 minutes apart, which means when we travel home we are ping-pong balls bouncing back and forth between our parents' houses. :P

Who is smarter?
Jason is smarter when it comes to engineering-type things, mechanical-type things, history, and things like that. I'm smarter in other ways. We're a good team. :)

Who is the most sensitive?
The person who cries at tv commercials, gets depressed watching the news, and writes this blog. (Jason is sensitive in certain ways, too, but he wouldn't want me ruining his tough-guy image.) :)

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
We don't eat out a lot... maybe once a month or every six weeks? We usually eat out only if we're out for an appointment or doing something and are away from home at dinnertime, and then we eat wherever is convenient. If we choose to go out just for fun it's usually to Okra's, a Cajun place near us, or Sweetwater Tavern, a grill place that brews their own beer.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Farthest from where? :P Our longest trip together was probably from Oregon to Italy, but South Korea and Romania both felt further. :)

Who has the craziest exes?
That depends on how you define crazy. I definitely have more exes. :P

Who has the worst temper?
J fo' sho'.

Who does the cooking?
I do. Jason grills, though. When we lived in Las Vegas I worked later than Jason did so he cooked... we had a rotating menu of tacos, nachos, burritos, spaghetti, and burgers. The grocery list was super short. :) I didn't learn to cook until we moved to Ohio and Jason was in grad school.

Who is the neat-freak?
HA. Jason and I were discussing this last night with John since Oprah's Clutter Challenge was on again yesterday. He reminded me that when we both took Myers-Briggs our profiles revealed that we both have a desire to have clean, organized spaces, but aren't capable of making them that way ourselves. Obviously we need Peter Walsh to come visit us!

Who is more stubborn?
Jason would say that I am; I might be more stubborn in some ways but I'm also a lot more yielding in other ways. I would say it's a wash. Jason will still say that I am, so what does that say about who's more stubborn? :)

Who hogs the bed?
Jason Jason Jason Jason. He will say I hog the covers, though. I don't hog them, they just like me better and come to my side.

Who wakes up earlier?
Jason does. Although lately I've been waking up at 4 a.m. for no apparent reason. I usually get back to sleep eventually, though, while Jason leaves for work at the crack of dawn.

Where was your first date?
With each other? Ha. Our first "date" when we first met was to Chili's for lunch. Jason forgot his wallet. And he wonders why we were just friends for a year and a half after that, ha ha!

Who is more jealous?
Luckily neither of us is jealous by nature. I think it helps that we were best friends first, so we knew even before dating that we're both seriously monogamous. South Korea did a number on me, though; when I went to visit I had dozens of girls (I'm not kidding) telling me how lucky I was to be married to Jason, what a wonderful guy he is, so handsome, so smart, so kind etc. I started to get a complex and at one point when a girl came up and hugged Jason while I was a few yards away I asked her, "Hello, who are you, woman hugging my husband?" Ha ha! Luckily we're past all that. :)

How long did it take to get serious?
A year and a half of best-friendship. Then as soon as we were a couple we got pretty serious--I followed him to Las Vegas to live after only three weeks of dating and two months later we were engaged. :) When Jason told his coworkers in Vegas that I was coming to live with him they all said, "Are ya freakin' nuts? You've been dating three weeks!" Then I moved down and they all said, "Oh, okay, we get it now."

Who eats more?
Hopefully Jason! I eat more junk, though... I'm working on that!

Who does the laundry?
Not the person who has to phone me to ask how to use the washer and dryer, that's for sure. :)

Who's better with the computer?
Jason's better with things like virus scans, networks, hardware, and all that jazz. I'm better with software like Excel, Access, Photoshop, etc.

Who drives when you are together?
Jason, 99% of the time. When he drives, I'm stressed. When I drive, he makes me stressed. If I'm going to be stressed either way I'd rather have him drive. ;)

Favorite {Photo} Friday will be up later. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday #35--Happy Heart Day!

It's Friday the 13th! Which, of course, means two things: 1) today is Friday the 13th, and 2) tomorrow is Valentine's Day! Actually, it means three things, because it also means it's Favorite {Photo} Friday!

In honor of St. Valentine I wanted to post a ♥lurve♥ photo, and the first photo that came to mind is this one:

In September 2005 Jason and I took a sailboat trip around the Greek Isles. We went with two other couples--Jason's boss Ken and his wife Melanie, and Jason's coworker Bill and his wife Bonnie. The six of us and the captain of the boat--and, actually, his girlfriend, too--were on a small little sailboat for seven days. It was an awesome vacation. As you can imagine on a sailboat there was not a lot of privacy or space, which was generally not a big issue as all of us drank a lot got along well. But I'm an introvert and need some alone time so one night after we docked I grabbed my camera and headed off for a few minutes by myself.

There was part of a shredded fishing net (at least I think that's what it was) so I made a heart out of it. It lasted for about five seconds before the wind blew it into some other shape; in fact it started out more symmetric but by the time I took a photo it had already moved. I love heart shapes (and I love love) and I'm surprised I don't have more photos like this.

Thanks for all the well-wishes.... I don't want to think (let alone write!) any more about it, so I will just say--I am still sick. I am incredibly sick of being sick. I'm sick of having no energy and having new sympoms as soon as I start getting over the previous symptoms. I am ready--oh so ready!--to be WELL. To catch up on 873 things on my To Do list. To start Avon Walk training (and fundraising). To perform normal household duties and tasks. To cultivate my business. To not feel like POO. I am crossing my fingers and drinking water and taking vitamins and sleeping a lot and hoping for wellness. Tomorrow morning would be good. :)

♥Happy Valentine's Day♥ and have a great three-day weekend! :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday #34--Sick, Then and Now

There were a few contenders for this week's Favorite {Photo} Friday. It was almost a beach photo--I could use a warm summery beach right about now. It was almost a sunset photo; the gorgeous oranges of a sunset in Istanbul. But then I remembered this lovely. :) I found the photo album my Aunt Susan put together for me and scanned this baby in.

When I was in kindergarten I was scheduled to have my tonsils taken out. But I got the chicken pox, so my surgery was delayed until I was well enough. So as a five year old I had back-to-back chicken pox and a tonsillectomy. Bring on the sympathy, baby!

The main things I remember about the whole situation are coming out of anesthesia and being given these sweet sneaker roller-skates almost immediately, and the nurse bringing me my tonsils in a jar because I'd insisted that I wanted them; I took one look at them and I can only imagine that the nurse stifled a laugh as she took them away again (the tonsils, not the roller skates). :) There they are in front of the fireplace (the roller skates, not the tonsils). They were awesome. I would put them on and then skate around the house to "Macho, Macho Duck" and the other great tracks on Mickey Mouse Disco. And then I'd shock the heck out of whatever I touched, including my little sister (roller skates on shag carpeting will do that). :)

The other things I remember are being able to eat a lot of sherbet (which is what's in that bowl I'm clutching) and getting tons of cards and presents. If I remember correctly, I set up this little tableau and then made my mom take a photo. I was so proud of all my cards and gifts. :)

The top I'm wearing is from a set of pajamas that my mom made me. There were bottoms, too, but they must have been dirty or something. As I look at this photo I'm struck by how many things I have in common with this little mini-me from 28 years ago.

Then, after a tonsillectomy at age 5: I sat eating sherbet, in my awesome heart pajamas that my mom handmade with care. I had on hand a puzzle book (The Silly Riddle School, on the fireplace) and a stuffed animal to comfort me. I couldn't talk, but a bunch of people who love me sent me cards and presents.

Now, with bronchitis at age 33: I sat eating chocolate ice cream, in my sweet sock-monkey pajamas that my friend Lori thoughtfully sent me. I worked on a Samurai Sudoku and comforted myself by snuggling under the quilt my Aunt Susan made for me. I couldn't talk, but one of my great friends posted a sweet blog announcing she's sending me a present. Holla!

So I'm feeling pretty loved (even if it would be nice to have my mamma here to take care of me). :)

(And I still hook my feet around chair legs just like I--apparently!--did when I was five. Crazy.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ill, Crafty, and Cheap

I'm sick. Whine whine whine whine whine. I KNOW. But I was just sick in January so to be sick again already is just a pain. I keep reminding myself of all the people in this world who are really sick, who really have something to whine about, and it makes me feel slightly better. Or at least keep my mouth shut. :)

I promise that this entire post will not be about me being sick, but I have one thing to get off my chest first. If I were President, I would overrule whatever stupid laws they wrote to take pseudoephedrine off the market (and I'd smack all those idiot druggies that caused them to pass the laws in the first place). Gimme back my magical quadfecta (hey, you've heard of a trifecta, right?) of cold-pill drugs: pseudoephedrine, guaifenesin, dextromethorphan, and acetaminophen. With all my years of ear troubles I have become somewhat of an expert on cold meds, and this combo of these four drugs is the best thing around. And then a bunch of druggies figured out how to make methamphetamine out of pseudoephedrine and now my beloved cold meds are off the friggin' market. There must be a better way to control this, since I can't imagine that it's actually inhibited the drug manufacturers in the least. And in the meantime, millions of cold-symptom sufferers receive inferior decongestants [fist pounded loudly and with much righteous indignation]. {Achooo!}

Anyway, since I've been logging lots of couch time I've been able to spend a bunch of time on the internet. And a couple of things have been striking me lately as I've been perusing ol' world wide web. First, I think that I do not give myself nearly enough credit for the stuff I know how to do. I tend to forget that not everyone is crafty. I've learned a lot but I think there is also just an inborn craftiness that some people possess and I am one of them; since it's so natural for me I usually forget that not everyone is crafty. So when I stumble upon things on the internet--such as tutorials for potato stamping and felt heart pins--I think, "Ummm, we need a tutorial for this?"

And obviously, according to the many comments on each of these tutorials, the answer is YES. Obviously everyone did not grow up with moms who covered the kitchen table in newspapers and broke out the paints and taught them how to make their own stamps out of potatoes (thanks, Mom!). Obviously everyone does not look at these cute heart pins and automatically have a tutorial pop up in their head. So I should really give myself some credit for all this cool stuff floating around in my brain. I really should. And heck! Maybe one of these days I will write a tutorial myself!

Those heart pins are so stinkin' cute, too. I think they'd make a really sweet mobile like this one from Pottery Barn Kids:

Except I would draw the ribbon down through the middle of the hearts (in between the two layers of felt) instead of just sewing the ribbon to one side of each heart. It would totally be cuter that way. If I get well in time to make this for Valentine's Day I just might do it and hang it over the dining table. I love hearts {and love!}!

The other thing that has been striking me as I've been wandering through internet land is, "Seriously? People will pay that much for that? Do they not know we're in a recession? Do they not know how little a freakin' Barbie actually costs?" Okay, the Barbie comment only came when I looked at one little etsy shop. One little shop where these two pairs of earrings

sell for $110. For each pair. (!) Is kitsch really that valuable? If anyone is interested in these earrings, please let me know. I will hook you up. Half price! :P

I know how mean I probably sound, and I don't mean to be mean. More power to the seller if she can sell this stuff at these prices (and based on her sales numbers, she can)! But buyers? Hellooooo? If my friend showed me these cool Barbie hand earrings she just bought for $110, I would have a hard time not smacking her upside the head. I do really like the Have a Heart Bust Pendant; I think it's clever and cute and funny. But for $180 it will not be going into my shopping cart. And The Kiss is genius; I'm sure somebody will snap it up (but for $525 it will surely not be me; not even if it were $125. Maybe if it were $25, but I'm cheap).

My friend Paulette recently forwarded me an e-mail full of lovely gift ideas and asked if I could make one of the items contained therein. She's super sweet and loves the rings but said she'd rather have them made by someone who's special to her. Is that the sweetest or what? Anyway, the price of these beauties in the e-mail made me gasp and I think I'll be able to do them for a fraction of the price. I can't wait to get the supplies in!

Did anyone out there try to order the Project 365 Kit of the Month from Becky Higgins and not get one? I accidentally got two (in my flurry of hitting refresh over and over, trying to get my order in) so if anyone wants one let me know and you can cover the cost for one of them.

Today I saw a commercial for the 20th anniversary of... get this... The Simpsons. Am I really that old? Cowabunga, dude! According to The Simpsons' official site, "Now the longest-running in television history, The Simpsons is celebrating two decades with a one-year celebration culminating on January 14, 2010, the 20-year anniversary of the series' debut!" So I guess it's only 19 years old. Whew! For a minute there I really thought I was getting old. :P

See you tomorrow for Favorite {Photo} Friday!