Thursday, June 28, 2007

Did You Notice the New Banner Yet?

Hope y'all like the new banner! :) Gotta love Jacopo and Puss when they "play" together. Lots of things going on right now, and things that I'm finally getting to sharing...I've decided to mimic Jessica Sprague's ususal blog format of using topic headers, since I've been ignoring that basic design principle for long enough. So that way it's easy for you guys to skip to what interests you, if anything. ;-)

Reunion T-Shirts

One wee project I've been working on, and which is now finally finalized, is a t-shirt design for my mom's family reunion this summer. Luckily they just wanted something simple and that would translate easily to a t-shirt, so it wasn't a huge project. But I think it came out particularly cute so I had to share! (As you can probably tell, they're very proud of their Scandinavian heritage...even though I can't resist reminding the uneducated that the Vikings never actually had horns on their helmets. But we go along with the joke. And someone always brings the silly plastic helmets for everyone to wear. Witness exhibit #2.)

They always have it at her cousin's farm, which is in Union, Maine. One of the most beautiful parts of the US that I've ever been to!

Exhibit #2: photo of me at the reunion the summer before last, courtesy of my auntie.

So that was a fun break from the usual photo editing and scrapbook-page-creating.

Jessica & Me

Also have to share a photo from 2 weeks ago now (already?!?!) of me with one of the coolest scrapbook ladies out there, Jessica Sprague, that I mentioned I was helping assist in her classes at the Creating Keepsakes University event. Well that event turned out to be really amazing, and I had a ton of fun helping all these women understand the gloriousness that is Photoshop! :) And I have to give Jessica some major props - you can't even tell in the photo that she was terribly sick that day with a stomach flu, but still managed to push right through those classes and impress everyone (and I duly apologize to her for not being able to get the glare off her glasses without her looking crazy-eyed!). One of the other volunteers, Nami, told me that she regularly taught seniors how to use PSE. How awesome is that?? Definitely something I wouldn't mind getting into. Jessica also gave us volunteers a little gift set from Bath & Body Works (yummm) - so sweet! I came away from the event feeling all creative-y.

Dog Obedience

Speaking of classes, Jacopo's obedience class officially started this week, although the first class is dog-free so the instructor can give basic information. I'm SO glad I signed up through the city rather than anywhere else! The park is literally 5 minutes from our place, the cost was half of what it is for the same amount of time at Petsmart, and the instructor has been doing dog obedience training for 30+ years. I can't wait to see the results of this! Especially after the demonstration the instructor and a few others gave at the end of class.

It's not that the pup is that ill-behaved, but I'd like to get him to stop jumping (cuz he's like a jumping bean and will use your chest as a springboard!) and to walk on the leash better. And just to be more calm and obedient in general. The cool part is, once you've taken the class you're able to come back for a refresher class anytime for free! If he does really well in this class, I'd like to sign him up for more advanced classes with the goal of him eventually becoming a therapy dog. He's such a people-lover, and after seeing what they can do for seniors and people in hospitals I would love to be able to give back in that way. Plus he fits easily into laps. :)

Departure Time

So it is officially Day 1 of the Warped Tour for Chris, although he's not actually leaving me until tonight. The first show is in Pomona, which is pretty close to us, so he drove himself up for the day, and late tonight I'll drive him back up and drop him off since the bus leaves for the next show at some ungodly hour tomorrow morning. Of course we'll be missing each other like crazy, but this is a great step in his career and (fingers crossed) will lead to even bigger things. So, for those of you living near me, please feel free to stop by anytime!

Seriously, anytime. Pretty please? Entertain me? Anybody??

But in preparation we got a fancy new video camera that he could take with him, because I can't bear to be without a camera. And because we've been wanting to get one for a while...and he can write it off as work-related.
How cute is that!?!? And tiny. Seriously. Chris can palm it. It made me giggle when I thought about my dad's old trusty video camera from when I was a kid. Seems like Chris made a good choice with this model, though, seeing as I figured out how to use it and review video in like 2 seconds. Plus you really can't go wrong with a Canon.

So what did we videotape first? What else but Jacopo at the dog park? LOL I was really surprised at how great the sound was - no wind blowing super loud into the mike or anything, despite the good breeze that was going. So hopefully when Chris gets back I'll have some cool video to link to - hopefully contraband performance vids. :)

Speaking of Shopping

Speaking of which, there have been a few recent purchases. We went out on a shopping expedition Monday night in preparation for his departure, and managed to squeeze in Target, Circuit City, Off Broadway Shoes (his old Converse finally died, so sad), Barnes & Noble, Beth Bath & Beyond and Chick-Fil-A for dinner. All in under 3 hours! Yes, I'm very proud.

Most of the shopping was for him, but I finally got a really nice fan for our bedroom, since between him and the puppy and our lack of a central a/c makes for very hot nights in the summer. We got away with not having one up until now since we didn't move in until mid-August last year, but even then it was pretty damn hot. The best part is that it has a remote, so when you wake up frigid in the middle of the night because your body has finally cooled down, you don't have to get up. :D And its extremely quiet, not that I have any trouble getting to sleep these days.

I also couldn't resist the sale racks at Barnes & Noble, and picked up some new reads since I'm almost done with my latest book. We also signed up, finally, for the membership club through B&N, which meant I wound up saving $25 this time, and the damn thing only cost that much in the first place for a 1-year membership! Gotta love a good deal. It's totally worth it too, considering how much we read (and yes, Nikki, you can use it when we go book shopping next time, it'll do you some good!). Out of 5 new books, the funniest title award has to go to There's A (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell. How can you resist a title like that? Anyhoo, I'll let you know how they turn out.

The Weekend

So, since Chris won't be around to amuse me, and Nikki's parents happen to be going out of town, I'll be heading over there Saturday to have some good ol' fun with the girlies. I can't wait! I'll be bringing Jacopo with me, of course, and that means he gets to play with Spikeus Maximus (aka Spike) - aka their American bulldog, who looked like this
once upon a time. Now he's just a weeee bit bigger. :) But still so cute! I think they'll have a grand ol' time together, barrnig any accidental squishing or something. But we'll keep an eye on them for sure.

And tomorrow night the consensus seems to be to see a movie, but we'll see how that turns out. I might wind up just sleeping in, at this rate! Haven't been sleeping all that well (surprise) the last two weeks.
But I do want to see Evan Almighty! It'd be nice to get out and about.

Next Week

Now all I have to do is figure out what I'm doing for the 4th! If a friend of ours is throwing a BBQ, I'm definitely there, cuz he's a great cook, but if not I might just have some people here. I'm so used to being out of town/the country for the holiday that I can't even remember the last time I had to make plans! And how much does it suck that it falls on a Wednesday? Oh well, at least it's one day off...

What are you doing for the holiday? Hmmm?


Quote of the moment: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." ~ Groucho Marx

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Its About Time For An Update...

So in keeping with my June goals, I am proud to report that I have definitely been scrapping at least 1 page per week. In fact, I was so inspired last week as I was looking forward to volunteering at CKU on Friday that I did two pages - and one of them is the featured layout for this week over at Jen Wilson Designs!! EEEEEK!!!! I've never had anything featured in any way before, so I'm feeling very accompished right now. :D

Here's the page that is currently "Layout of the Week":

You can view credits and details about it here (and, as always, you can click on the photo for a larger view).

I'm actually very pleased with how this one turned out. Doubly so cuz I got to take the photo using my dad's Nikon D40 - such an awesome camera!

Speaking of photos, I finally uploaded the ones from the Castle Green open house/tour that my mom and I went to a few weekends ago (that's where I took her photo, in fact), now that I had some time to play with them and fix them up. Several just needed some brightening, since I was trying not to be too "flashy". Although this one I took thinking I would do something fun with it, and then when I sat down at my computer it was just screaming for a cool action:

I've also uploaded a bunch I took of Jacopo and the kitten (mainly) while I was at my parents' this past Sunday....again using my dad's camera. I can't help myself - its just so damn awesome! I can't wait until I can afford a digital SLR for myself... *sigh*. Poor deprived child that I am.
;-) (That was for you, mom, since I can read your mind!)

You can go straight to admiring the wondrousness that is a digitalSLRcamera-photo by clicking here (if you haven't already bookmarked my Flickr page!).

But back to scrapping - the other LO that I did last week makes me laugh every time I look at it, because its so completely true.
Damn puppy is such a cuddlebutt. Even this morning while I was getting ready, he wound up curling up at my feet, just barely touching my foot, after he realized that it wasn't playtime. Poor thing is the biggest mama's boy (and daddy's!), and spoiled to boot. But at least he doesn't bark or pee on people, right?

Plus I also love seeing how my photos convert so beautifully to black and white now that I invested in the Pro Black and White action from Photoblast a few months back (as well as some others - I highly recommend them!!). Nothing I did before by myself looked half as good, and its a million times better than the basic "Remove Color" function in Photoshop Elements. Yeah...I sound like a commercial, I know, but I'm being honest!

You can view credits for this LO here.

And as for my June goals, I also checked off signing the puppy up for training class, although it means doing it without Chris. But we don't want to wait any longer to do it, because as with humans the earlier you start the better your chances are of success! :) So I still have a few more goals to work on...including updating my damn blog header, which I've been meaning to do for weeks now. Maybe this weekend.

This week has been pretty insane until last night, since I was getting ready for a big event at work. Although I had help, it was basically all on me if anything went wrong, and thank Thor nothing did! I think it might have had something to do with the fact that we fed everybody In-N-Out so they couldn't think negative thoughts, but one never knows. :) So now I'm just trying to rest my poor feet and walk as little as possible at work today.

Other than that, Chris and I are just trying to plan for his departure on the Warped Tour next week, and Nikki and I are scheming for at least one escape from the OC within those 2 months that he's gone. Woot! :) And tomorrow night my mom is coming down my way so we can shop til we drop, and then have a girly night together. Good times!


Quote of the moment: "If man does find the solution for world peace it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known." ~George C. Marshall (1880-1959)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Best Boys, OCD and Being a T.A.

I have the best boyfriend. When I got home from work Monday night, all exhausted from the weekend, and just wanted to take a nap, he took Jacopo to the dog park so I could sleep peacefully. And then after seeing what I wanted for dinner, he went out and got yummy sushi and had it all ready for us (including drinks) when he woke me up. Soooo awesome to be taken care of like that!

I noticed yet another OCD-type behavior when I was making a snack Monday night. I was making saltines with peanut butter, and I realized as I was "buttering" that I couldn't butter the saltine unless it was right-side know, the one side where you can tell they did the graph-like impression. I found myself doing all these weird wrist-twists just to get the saltine right-side up. I had to laugh at myself!

So now I wonder, what obsessive behaviors do other 'normal' people like me have? Little things that don't control your life, but that you can't stop yourself from doing? Or am I the only one and now you're all just quietly backing away? ;-)

Cool news for the week is that last Friday night I answered Jessica Sprague's call for volunteers to help her out in her Photoshop classes at CKU this weekend in Anaheim, and so I totally get to go hang out and help her on Friday! Definitely a cause worth taking a vacation day for. :) She is, like, the coolest. I've been reading her blog since January, and I've learned so much and been so inspired by her "Photoshop Friday" lessons that I can't even begin to thank her! Plus I'm totally looking forward to hanging with other digi-scrapping geeks like me, since most of my friends just look at me with confusion when I start talking in more detail than "I made a new page today." Nikki and my mom usually understand, but they would probably never squeal over something like Anna Aspnes' new Doggie brushes like I did when I saw them! :) And then there's the teaching aspect of it, because I just love to help people get to that "Ahaaaaa!" moment.

And if you're wondering: yes, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm just a little obsessed by digital scrapbooking. But what else can a girl do when she stumbles upon something that finally gives her a creative outlet, pushes her artistic boundaries, gives her another way to use the journaling bug she's always had, and helps to improve her photography skills hand over fist? Exactly. And usually having some spare time at work to keep up with tutorials and blogs and such definitely helps!

Hmm...three blog entries in four days...I must not have enough to do. ;-)


Quote of the moment (for all you fellow historians out there): "The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future." ~ Stephen Ambrose (1936-2002)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Your Eyes Do Not Deceive You

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is indeed JOHN MAYER. (Feel free to click on the photo and view a larger version of the hotness.)

In case you missed it, I said John-frickin-Mayer!!!

And why didn't I mention that I was going to the concert? Well...that would be because we didn't know we were going until Saturday. Funny story, actually...

So, I'm heading back from an event I went to with my family early Saturday afternoon (more on that further down), when I get a call from Nikki. At first, I was too tired to answer and explain what I had been up to, so I decided to call her back later. But she called me back right after leaving a message, so I thought I had better answer in case it was an emergency. Thank Thor it wasn't - it was something so much better than that!! :) You know you're getting good news when someone starts off with "Well, I was browsing Ticketmaster, just to see, and..." Turns out they released a few tickets at the last minute to John's Sunday night show at the Hollywood Bowl, and Nikki just happened to be checking at just the right moment! We had originally tried to get tickets when they first went on sale, but couldn't get anything decent and since the Bowl is a seriously crap venue to get to, it would have been terrible with seats where you can hardly see. So Nikki got three tickets in the "garden section" (basically their equivalent of box seats, since its an open-air venue), and one for our friend Erin too.

At any rate, of course we both screamed - much to my family's chagrin - and then made plans for Sunday. We decided to go up early and do some retail therapy at the Citadel outlet center, which was super fun (woohoo Banana Republic and Max Studio outlets!), and then got all gussied up in their surprisingly beautiful restrooms. Gotta love a giant room with a bunch of sofas to rest your weary feet!

Here we are at the show (photo courtesy of the people behind us, so nice!). I have to say where we sat at the Bowl was seriously awesome, considering how far away we could have been. And the one thing I did like about that venue as compared to, say, Josh Groban at the Staples Center, was that out little box seats meant we actually had room where we were sitting. It was nice not being crammed arm-to-arm in tiny seats, or shoulder-to-shoulder in a standing-room-only venue!

But that's really the only plus to the Bowl - otherwise, it's horrendous parking and getting there, horrendous trying to figure out where you need to go, and horrendous getting out. Luckily Nikki took note from the last time she was there and we did the Park-and-Ride option, where you park several miles away and they bus you over. Soooo much less stress, considering the freeway gets backed up from so many people trying to get there! Except that our driver clearly didn't know how to use a clutch, and we totally stalled and had to restart the engine going up a hill on the way there. All I could think was "Dear lord, let these LA drivers behind us pleeeeze be paying attention just this once...."

So we finally got in and were seated to have this kind of view:

The photo is of Ben Folds, one of the openers (who was really entertaining once they got going), but you get the idea. And I don't think I quite appreciated it as much until I turned around and saw the sheer enormity of the number of people sitting behind us. I should have taken a was insanity!

And then I got kinda starstruck when I noticed Greg Grunberg sitting just a few feet away, because I'm so in love with the show he's on (Heroes). I didn't take a photo, because I'm one of those people that hates to bother celebrities, especially when they're obviously just trying to have a fun night out. But I watched him be very gracious and awesome to the handful of people who did approach him. And then I watched him shake it to John later on...awesome. :)

We were all even more starstruck when we noticed that none other than William Shatner had sat down in the box just behind my left shoulder! After a little bit we decided to be all incognito and take this photo as evidence:
I know, seriously crap photo, but we were trying to get him more than us, and when we used a flash you couldn't see him! :) (B&W "Flex Frame" by Angela Barton over at the Sweet Shoppe.) The best part was I could occasionally hear him talking during the show...ahhhh. Like silk on my eardrums. ;-) We couldn't help but laugh because he was trying to be all low-key and wear a hat and sunglasses, and a hoodie over that, and it wound up being even more conspicuous! Hello? And everyone was being really respectful anyways...come on, LA people get pretty jaded after a while.

So I have some terrible blurry photos of John on stage, but suffice it to say that it was ear candy the entire time. Nikki and I had seen him once before, but it was a brief performance as part of a collab show for Star 98.7, so not nearly as cool as his own tour. When you counted it up, it was only about 10 songs, but each was at least 10 minutes due to improv and stuff, so a nice long ride. Lots of seat dancing was done by all. :) And of course we stood for the last couple songs, especially since he closed the encore with "Waiting on the World to Change". Seriously people, the man is a huge dork but when push comes to shove, he just turns it on (goofy expressions and all). I heard someone in the crowd on the way in saying B.B. King was better (a lot of fans compare the two, since John incorporates a lot of bluesy approaches in his guitar playing) because John was classically trained, and totally had to disagree! Having had some experience in the music world and known a lot of musicians, I have to say that no matter how much training you receive, there ain't no way you can teach someone how to translate their emotions into music like that. I think John and B.B. are simply in the same playing field. And it doesn't hurt that he has a freaking sexy voice.

I think we done there around 11, and then it was a sloooow and totally chaotic process to get back to the car, but we made it eventually! After a Del Taco run on the way home (we had a seriously light and early dinner at like 4:30, so it was starvin-time at that point), I think I eventually got home around 1am after dropping the girls off, and to bed at 2. So exhausting, but worth every lost minute of sleep! Luckily today at work was really quiet and slow, so you couldn't tell too much that I was seriously lacking in sleep. Then I came home, had a snack, and went right to bed for a nap! I'll catch up tomorrow, I swear...


Quote of the moment: "The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes." ~ Harold B. Lee (1899-1973)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friends, Dinner and Scrapping

The big good news of the week is that my surregate sisters Nikki and Katie finally came home from their 10-day trip with the fam. The brats got to go to NYC, Boston, Rockport, Mass. and Chicago. But I'm not jealous! :) At least they brought me back a fab-u-lous Coach bag from Canal Street (thank you, slightly-damaged-but-perfectly-good-for-us-normal-people retailers!). Can't wait for Nik to hurry up and graduate law school so we can go to NYC for a girls' trip!

So Wednesday night we all got together for a delicious dinner at one of our fave places, Felix's. Its kind of a local legend around here - fantastic Cuban and Spanish food for about $10 for dinner (and that includes dessert during the week!). I can't count how many times we've eaten there since we discovered it in college. And Nikki and Heather also came over to my place last night just to generally hang out, which was great. Whenever we all watch TV together (which is really rare these days), its always hilarious because we spend more time gossiping about what we're seeing than actually paying attention. And since we watched the new piratey Survivor show, "The Starter Wife" and "Girls Next Door", there was plenty to chat about. ;-)

In keeping with my goals for the month, I finished a scrap page this week, as inspired by the Jumpstart challenge over at Designer Digitals. (Just click the image to view larger.) I don't always have time to participate in the challenge in the week time frame, but this week's was a good one! And I've been really wanting to scrap this photo from when Chris and I took Jacopo to Heritage Park here in Tustin a few weekends ago. You can view credits for the page here.

Lots going on this weekend, more about that tomorrow! But it will be a good story, I guar-an-tee! :)


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

June Goals

So yesterday I got to thinking, making yet another mental list about what I need to do, and I realized that it would be good to blog about my current goals, because maybe then I'll hold myself more accountable. :)
    • Sign up at a yoga studio and start going! My asthma has been especially bad the past week for some reason, and I really think the yoga will help. Besides the whole "healthy body" thing. I found a local studio that does a free beginner's workshop once a month, so I'll be doing that on Saturday. So, pending whether or not I like the place, I'll be checking this goal off the list very soon.
    • Study for, and set a date for, the GRE exam. Need to get my butt in gear, since they start accepting applications for spring semester in August!
    • Scrapbook at least once a week. I've been very un-creative lately and very tired, and while I get all inspired browsing galleries in my spare time at work, once I get home and get settled in front of the computer (if I ever make it there) I can't seem to get the juices flowing. Maybe I need to rearrange my desk area a bit or something...a new desk chair might be in order.
    • Find a new bathing suits that really fits. (What? This isn't frivolos; I think any woman would agree that this a gender-common goal, and deserves to be on this list!) I've finally retired the one that I've had for the past 3 years, and I'm determined to find a decent one for a decent price that flatters as well as it can, all things considered. ;-)
    • Sign the puppy up for training class. Ok, so this is more of a shared goal for Chris and I, but we need to get going on the rest of his training! We managed to teach come, sit, and how to walk at heel by ourselves (for the most part, anyway, he's still working a bit), but now its time for a real trainer and class so he learned the other important things, like stay. We're probably going to go through Petsmart, since they're reasonably priced and a new one just opened up right down the street from us.

What are your goals right now? Any suggestions for mine? :)

In other news, Chris received confirmation yesterday that he has been chosen to go on the Warped Tour with Rat Sound, doing the sound for one of the stages!! I'm so proud of him - this is almost exactly what he's been working toward all this time, and now he'll finally have a tour under his belt. Not only will it mean more money, but it's the next step towards touring with one band exclusively. It's quite the tour, too - they start in LA and then up to Canada, then all across the country. I just feel bad that he has to be in the south in the heat of summer. ;-) I'll probably fly out and meet him in one of the cities, so I don't have to go 2 months straight without seeing my baby. I'm thinking Portland or Denver, since they're nice short hops too.

Also, have to say a big CONGRATS to my cousin Elisabeth, who got married the weekend before last! Not only is she newly married and settling into a new home, they've just found out she's pregnant, expecting in January. So cool! This will be our grandparent's (she's my dad's brother's daughter) 7th great-grandchild. I'm especially excited since my dad is already thinking about going to visit home again next summer (we all went last summer), so we'd be able to see the baby then. She sent me some photos from the wedding:

My uncle cleans up nice! I can't remember if I've ever seen him in a suit! :)

Doesn't she just look stunning?? The dress is beautifully detailed (click on the photo to see it full size). But, gee, do you think the baby will be blonde? :D And of course they got married in a beautiful old Norwegian church. ::sigh:: I wish they'd paint the churches here like that!

Plus my other Norwegian cousin, Anita, went into labor a month and a half early last weekend. Waiting to hear how that all turned out! Last we heard she was doing okay. Lots of family news and excitment from back home! But when your dad comes from a family of 6 where all the siblings had kids of their own (and who are now having kids), there's usually something going on. :)

In scrapbooking news, some of my favorite designers started up a new digiscrap website called Little Dreamer Designs that is just too cute. Even their banner is pretty! They had a big grand opening sale this past weekend, and I couldn't help but snap up a few things. Especially since one of the designers also sells through Designer Digitals, and that way I got something I've had my eye on there for 35% off! :) Check them out - they have some really beautiful stuff. Plus you get a free kit just for signing up for the email!

I think that about does it for me here...


Food for thought: "Strong feelings do not necessarily make a strong character. The strength of a man is to be measured by the power of the feelings he subdues, not by the power of those which subdue him." ~ William Carleton

**Edit: I also remembered while double-checking my post that another goal is to
revamp my blog's banner, since I've changed the layout and now it's entirely too
small! :)