Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Claws

So there's this blog called paper mama, by a gal named Chelsey, that is just the cutest.  She takes some wicked amazing photos and also seems to illustrate how you can take a not so fab photo and enhance it so it looks fab.  Such that if you have bad lighting or colors, ways to adapt it so it looks like to planned to make it look the way it does.  Or at least I think she has some posts of how she does the manipulation.  I sorta got distracted when I saw she was running photo contests.  And I suppose I'm rambling now.  Long story short... I just found her blog and am slowly investigating it when I get the free time (aka sometime in April when I'm not doing DNA quantifications in the AM and RNA extractions in the PM.).

And now to the photo contest aspect...  Each week she does a challenge and this is the current one.

The Paper Mama

This weeks challenge: Holiday colors.
The challenge: The challenge will be based around your children. Take or find a photo of your baby (or kid... or puppy... or kitty) wearing red and green... blue and white... or, whatever colors make you think of the upcoming holidays. Feel free to play around with photo editing programs! Have fun!

As we lack kids, furballs are our babies...  I went on a hunt for a kitty photo from last year.  Sadly all of our Alice playing elf were a blur.  What can I say but the little white one hates costumes. =(

So I dug further and found this photo from Christmas day (Either taken by myself or my hubs as when I'm not running a muck with the camera I hand it to him to document every moment).  It's Christmas Claws!  Her name is Zoey and she belongs to my stepmom who every year sticks the poor cat in some kind of Christmas garb.  Amazingly enough Zoey has learned to remain composed while any of our 4 cats would be chewing the darn thing off.  ;)  

Also while digging for photos, I found this gem of last year's Christmas Twig that is still tied to our wall.  The story behind the twig is that we lack the room for a full tree but wanted a tree anyway.  Our friend who owns a local shop called Wildcard has used lighted twigs in the past as store decor so we went out in the snowy trail to find a good Twig.  And hence our yearly tradition has begun of decorating the twig.  Last year was beach themed flower lights...  This year, you'll just have to wait and see.  =)

Be sure to check out Chelsey's blog, and the contest, and if this post lack coherent organization, forgive the mess as I've spent 9hrs in lab today where 7-8 straight was spending doing brain numbing work.  ;)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Cards in less than an hour!

For me to craft anything in less than an hour is a miracle as I'm a constant over thinker.  But at 2am in the morning and running on nothing, I managed to pull off a Christmas miracle.  =)

See for the past few weeks I've seen others pointing out sites they want to get photo Christmas cards from and yet others have been asking for my addy for one.  In all this, I've decided that it would be awesome to send out cards as I now have a reason to send them...  I'm no longer a single soul sharing christmas joy but a married one.  So the cards go out as a joint tiding of joy!  Woot!

I began my hunt on as we have a gift card from the wedding there.  But as all the flat cards I looked at were a minimum of 70 cents for the designs I liked.  And they were enveloped!  I wanted postcards...not regular cards.  I don't care if it gets marked or tainted by the mail process.  It gives it more flavor that way and cuts the postage down.

So I went back to my favorite friend  You download their photoshop template and work within the lines to ensure you fill the bleed areas but not with important items.  It took me 30 minutes to go through our wedding photos (all 771 of them) and pick out my favorites for the card.  I resized the images (1 for front and 1 for back), copied it into the template, added text (another 15 minutes of which font looks best) and then uploaded to the site.  Well, uploaded after hubby approved of my work.  ;)  In all it took an hour and I made only 1 mistake on the final copy that might take you a bit to notice...  let me know if you find it.  ;)

The front!

And it's behind!

What do you think?  I'm betting it's gonna look great with a glossy front and 2 sides in color!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Arsenal in Autumn

While aimlessly meandering around the world of blogs, I came across a fall photo contest by a military wife's on her blog titled GI Joe's Wife.

Fall Foto Contest

Sarah is currently living in Hawaii as her hubs is stationed there and wishing that she could enjoy more seasons than just 1 season of constant summer.  As I take plenty of photos and had just recently taken some of my retired military hubs playing like a kid in the fall leaves, I decided I'd share some of my favs with all of you and the best one with Sarah!  So here goes our Saturday adventure in Arsenal Park (Early on it was the site of the historic Allegheny Aresenal).

In the spirit of not altering any of my photos, these are all orginal, out of the camera, unphotoshopped pictures.  =)

Bug's View of Arsenal

Where's Squirreldo?

The Vibrant Tree

Last Posey of the Season

Shades of Fall

Eternal Youth

My personal fave is this one of the hubs running towards me through the pile of leaves...   On the first take, he ran so fast that I got a picture of just leaves flying in my face (leaves + mold = not good for the allergic to nature aka me).  

I also managed to get this great shot of the flag in the park flapping in the wind.  It's one of my favs too.

For all the photos we took that day feel free to visit my flickr album

ps.  It's our two month wedding anni and soon (when I have the time) I'll start some recaps as I got our wedding photos yesterday!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pretty Posies

Not many brides, if any, can say that they picked their bouquet flowers the day before their wedding.  But in my case... my very non traditional case...  I can!

Near to exactly a day before our wedding I stopped by Mildred's Daughters Urban Farm (the only farm zoned land in the city proper of Pittsburgh) to cut the flowers for the maids bouquets along with a few to use in mine.  I would have picked the flowers the night before but seeing as how it had rained and cutting flowers wet leads to reduced vase life, we decided to follow Randa's (the farm co-owner) advice and go friday midday.  I met with Joan, who does the garden's flower arrangements, around noon and we went to work cutting the Zinnias.  She cut, I de-leafed and the chickens attempted to eat the leaves.  Yep...  Mildred's has their very own farm chickens.  =)  In the end we cut 60 flowers and a handful of other flowers filling over 1 tidy cat plastic container of water.

At that point, I went home and set off on making the bouquets.  I soon found that I liked the simple look of 6 Zinnias and sorted them into colors sets.  I put together 4 different colors for each of my 4 maids.

Then after our rehearsal/dinner... my little sister and I set forth to make my massive Sunflower bouquet.  Despite it being 11pm, she sat there and held the flowers in place as I wrapped them in tons of wire, floral tape, and brown satin ribbon.  In less than 30 minutes we had my bouquet finished.  Sadly I have no pre-wedding pictures...  yet.  I myself (yes.. I know that I'm usually a photo freak but I lacked the time and was so busy that night...) did not take any pre-wedding but I'm sure others did.  ;)

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The beginning of this week tried it's hardest to sour my spirit but amazingly enough I managed to remain calm and optimistic.  See our wedding photographer/friend had a huge mishap on Sunday.  As she was editing photos in lightroom, the program crashed and all the photos in it were deleted.  Because lightroom doesn't create copies of the originals, it deleted the originals she was working on when it crashed... aka all of our wedding photos.  And it didn't send them to the trash bin where they could easily be recovered.  It bypassed the bin all together and sent them to the void.  Kelly was in a panic as she had just emptied her memory card for a wedding and two family shoots that weekend so she had no copies.  She also didn't back them up in any other fashion as she doesn't have the funds for an external hard drive nor did she have a spool of DVDs on hand (which I have promptly remedied by getting her a spool of 50 for a gift from Best I mean Best Buy... this past weekend).

She was preparing for the worst while I was convincing her it would be ok.  Yes this bride wasn't panicking but being scientific.  It wasn't her computer that crashed but a program.  So the hard drive should have been perfectly fine and she would just need software to recover the deleted files.  Sure enough, after 6 hours of scanning we recovered 4 folders of thousands of JPEGs and transferred them onto one of my external drives.  Recovered photos included our wedding, the other wedding, other shoots & any (and I mean ANY) picture that she happened to view on the net.  From her early estimates, Kelly thinks that around 85% have been recovered but she won't know until she goes through all of them.  And from what we saw, it appears that a variety of pictures from the entire day are still there.  The few that were damaged can be cropped to hide the grey boxes and the ones deleted forever shouldn't be missed as she got several shots of each photo.  =)

All in all, a possible disaster has been reversed and serves as an almost awful lesson for a new photographer that copies of originals are key.  Which was one of the things I tried to remind Kelly as she kept fretting about the pictures.  Amazingly enough I wasn't worried at all...  I had the instant of panic and tightness in my chest when she first told me but then remembered the multiple times my labmate's hard drive(s) have died and he's recovered all his files.   So I was quite hopeful that we could do the same with hers.  After talking to my PI about the possibility of recovery, I was assured that we'd get at least some of the photos back so to see we got so many is a true blessing.  Plus it doesn't hurt that we had a bunch of friends sending good vibes and prayers our way.  ;)  So....  in light of all the photographic chaos, I thought I'd share the initial 10 teasers our photographer shared a week back before the mishap.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Be back soon...

We got hitched on 9/18!  It went by so quick and time continues to fly.  Despite not taking a honeymoon, I've found myself busy in lab catching up on lab projects while working around our new rotational students.  All this chaos and mayhem has led to no time to post updates....  and I sure do have many updates and recaps to post prior to departing from weddingland entries to the greener brighter side of things more me (Art & Science).  To tide you over...  Here's a wedding photo from our lovely photographer Kelly!  And I promise to be back soon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Camel... Straw... Back...

It's been a rough couple of weeks... By rough, I mean hell.  Besides the normal wedding stress and school stress (Having to do a poster 2 days before the wedding...  Posters stress me, as I usually go deer in headlights for them if I don't cram/practice beforehand.  And with the wedding I don't have the privilege of practice this year.), I've been dealing with a shit-ton (newly made up word) more.

A few weeks back, my mom had to put our family dog down.  She didn't call me up to be there and I'm totally fine with that as it would be a mental image of sadness looming on me if she did.  And even though I knew he was old and it was necessary as he had infections popping up despite being on meds that treated the others... It still saddened me that he had to be put down.  That we had to give up on him.

Then the week after, a good friend of ours (whom I thought of as an adoptive artistic grandma) passed away.  It was sudden and I hadn't seen her because of the wedding planning.  I'm kicking myself for not visiting her and finding that every time I turn around there is something that reminds me of her making me wish I saw her before the shit hit the fan.

Top that off with the dire need of a break and looming piles of projects, I was a stressy mess this past weekend.  Stressed yet still semi in control.

Then this week happened.

We went to Erie on monday and nature once again proved she's not a friend of my sinuses.  The mild sinus infection I had went into overdrive and I admitted I needed to go to my allergist for meds.  Prior to my appointment, Josh gets a call telling him he has to be at Walter Reed in 2 days for his TDRL (Temporary Disability Retirement List) for his reeval.  He's not allowed to miss this appointment and is only given two days notice.  This determines if he's staying medically retired or if they decide he's fit to serve, they can recall him for the last few months of his contract he didn't serve when being medically discharged.  Of course, we were booth pissed at the Army as we have tons to do.  Him because they gave him 2 days notice...  Me as I was loosing my slave labor for 2-3 days while he goes down.  (The appointment is only 1 day but he can't drive down and back all at the same time.  Plus I'm betting he's gonna have a nasty headache this afternoon and not be back till friday morn.)  Both of us pissed that the Army will probably once again try to brush off the tbi headaches as just PTSD headaches.  And that's so not what they are.  What I need to do is to start going to appointments with him and telling them what we are really going through with his memory loss and headaches because a soft spoken, educated, good speaking individual gets looked at by face value as being perfectly fine and not ill.  It's sad that you have to go in looking the part to be acknowledged as suffering.  They train them to be soldiers who are emotionless and good at hiding pain then do know how to see when they are suffering.  It's total bs.  If he keeps getting the run around... we are so going to an investigative news source to get the story out there.  Maybe it will help others being treated this way.  End of army disgruntleness.

So while we were being peeved about the Army, I was to have a dress fitting to pin the bustle (yes under 10 days and it hasn't been pinned yet.) and it was cancelled.  My local seamstress who does this on the side was made to work late.  Talk about being kicked while down.  We settled on another date to do it but it's another day that I had a half a dozen other things to do.

And the straw that made me cry at least 4 times today was going to fill my antibiotic script and finding out I DON'T have insurance.  WTF!  Turns out like last year, the GSR re-enrollment for insurance is relatively paperless.  Aka.  No paper packets in the mailbox at school.  I forgot and defaulted to waiting for it to come.  In the end, I failed to fill it out so my insurance was cancelled August 31st.  Luckily I got it in now or else I would have no insurance for the next year.  But despite missing that bullet, I found out that I had to pay out of pocket for my meds.  Hello Credit Card that has been paying everything at the moment.  Sadly the antibios for 2 weeks costs $168.  Another WTF!  Luckily again... possibly due to puffy red swollen face and near tear eyed some crazy pharmacy mojo was worked and it took the costs down again.  Which I was thankful for despite the fact that they and I will both be putting in claims for all of this once my insurance is back.  Sadly, this was the straw that I couldn't hold on my back and while trying to get it all cleared up in a two hour marathon of phone calls and faxes, I end up crying in front of or on the phone with 3-4 people.  I'm choosing to blame it on hormones (everyone cries the week before mother nature), wedding stress and life stress when life decided to kick you while you're already on the mat crawling away.

I could use a cupcake right about now...

ps. promise the next post will be cheerful.  So wanted to post about my new zoom lens but needed to vent this first before I cry on the seamstress tonight.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bride Brain

If you don't know what I mean and are engaged, you'll find out when you get down to the almost 2 weeks point.  =)  It's the moment in time where there is so much coming at you so fast that you start to forget things.  Well... most things that is.  Unless it's written down, you end up forgetting for a day or two.  Or completely forget all together.  

For instance, if someone RSVPs via a route other than the ones you designated and you didn't take it down at the moment you saw it... when you finally go and start tallying names and RSVP #'s, you find yourself re-asking those for their response.  Opps.  =(  

Or you find yourself constantly saying, "I need to order the usual steaks for my brother's birthday" but never sit down to do so.  Then when you finally do, the delivery date ends up being 4 days past his b-day.  Now he won't mind as he said you didn't have to order them this year with the wedding and all.  But considering his recent grief over having to put his childhood dog to sleep, you wanted it to get there sooner than later.  You wanted to cheer him up... with bacon wrapped filets and steaks!  =/  

Or the fact that you totally forgot about all the little projects you didn't write down for the wedding.  That with only a lil over 2 weeks to sit down and do those along with draft a poster for a competition two days before the wedding, there isn't much time to think or focus or sleep.

Top all this off with the sudden death of a dear friend, who despite being 95 and lived a full life, and you find yourself a mess.  Not wanting to deal with anything and having the worst time remembering things.  Not caring anymore about projects, wedding or school.  And just wanting run away from it all for a bit.  Not call of the wedding or anything.  Just some time away... say a week tops.  But even your 3 day weekend at the beach falls through.  Considering a hurricane is rolling in.  No sun, no surf, no salt water taffy.  =(  No evening out your slight farmers tan.  No break away from things.  Just looming projects and that brick wall your flying at 100 mph.

It's all quite saddening.

A case of severe bride brain complication by life drama.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tiffany's Style Shower Pt.1

Two weekends back my maids under the leadership of my baby sister threw me a bridal shower and it was so wonderful.  They acquired the use of the clubhouse at my mom's boyfriend's apartment complex (And my mom's beau took care of the table and chair rentals... He's such a sweetie.  I'm so giving him one of my favorite paintings.).  The clubhouse was a fantastic setting for family and two of my school buddies who decided to make the trek up to Butler.  My little sister even pulled a little bit of art by constructing the congrats banner herself.  =)


As with all showers.... we started with food,


a bridal game or two, the cake


and then gift unwrapping.  With the unwrapping there was joy,



in some cases confusion,


and of course silliness with bows,



Yes I do make a multitude of very expressive faces without even trying...  The rest of the photos taken by my camera can be found on my flickr site.  In the end we got plenty of registry and non-registry items that are perfect for us.  That is once we unbox and put away everything.  =)

Next... Part 2.  The Bridal shower silliness!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wedding Planning BS

I'm seriously sick of wedding planning.  It's nice doing the design aspects and being creatively artistic but the coordinating vendors is for the birds!  When it should take one or two steps to get something done, it instead takes 10 and you haven't even gotten anything settled.

For instance, our vendor while being a sweet nice hippie-esque guy has wonderful food, we still haven't had even an estimate of the cost yet.  We were told he'd send it during June.  It's now August and tomorrow is a month from the wedding.   I need to know the cost so I can find the $$$.  Without knowing even an estimate, I attempted to get a line of credit from the bank for the rest of our wedding costs.  Of course with all the student loans I currently have, I was denied.  Luckily I do have two credit cards with fairly decent credit rates that we can use for the wedding if most of the other vendors do credit or paypal.  But it's much more of a pain this way.  And seeing as how regular bank loans take 1 month to be approved... we are too late to apply for one of those.  Thank you food vendor for putting me between a rock and a hard place!

In addition to this flowers are another issue of pain.  Originally I was trying to get relatives to grow me some sunflowers.  But crops are being eaten by critters so I have to purchase the flowers for the bouquets.  I'm fine with that.  And I checked into a local city farm to get them there.  But instead of just talking to one lady and having them make a date for me to show up.  I got tossed from one person to the next before getting to email the person I needed to contact all along.  And even though I said I had been planning to do my own arrangements, it was still unclear at first so yet another email.  Finally after several emails later, I have a time and date to visit the farm to see what they are growing and to place an order for flowers.  Uggg!  At times I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to just show up to the florist down the street from my work and tell them I need two and a half dozen sunflowers and another dozen red flowers with heads the size of sunflowers (gerber daisies if possible).  Or even just show up at Giant Eagle and buy whatever they have in stock that week.

At this point, I don't have the time for pussy footing around and playing email or phone tag.  I just need to get stuff done.  We still have to meet the pastor twice in the next month and create a wedding ceremony.  I still have favors, programs, and parasols to make.  There's a shit load to do and I really don't want to waste time with people acting stupid.  Because lets face it... it's all people acting stupid.  I'm a girl who knows what I want.  I don't want to be sold anything more or less!  Just vend me what you are to vend me!

Anyone else find that all this wedding bs is making you not really want to have a wedding?  You want to marry your love but you want to tell all these vendors to sod off!

Monday, August 9, 2010


Our first registry gift arrived Friday evening!!!  When the UPS man pulled up in front of our house, I had a moment of excitement then realized I didn't order anything and thought it was probably another delivery to our new neighbors.  To my surprise, there was a knock at our door.  I jumped up, opened it to a delivery guy who tossed me the box and took off in his truck again.  Upon seeing that it was a Macy's box, I squealed with excitement.  Future hubs looked at me as if I were delusional until I explained that this had to be a registry gift.  I told him to pull out his knife (he's an Eagle Scout/ex-military so he's always got some means to cut on his person) as I ran to get the camera to document the moment.  As I ran back into the living room, he promptly gave me the box/knife so that I could do the honors...

I ripped into the box like a chetah on a fresh kill.


Scooping aside the tons of packing peanuts, I found something wrapped in paper placed in the middle.  My first thought with the packing being so large was that we got a vase...  

After unravelling the 20 feet of wrapping, I found we got two Mikasa crystal wine glasses from Brian and Mer!  And they gave us a down right quirky lovable note in the box saying a "Toast to your Marriage".  The Mr. loves quirky puns and we both thought this was just down right cute!

Now on to gratuitous shots of the glassware!  These pretty beauties are the perfect size for a nice glass of wine with dinner or for a special toast.  When we were looking at glassware, we fell for the flame pattern that looked almost floral from above.

And we did what anyone would do with new wine glasses... tested them out with dinner!  Just lovely!

Don't you all just love surprise deliveries?

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