Sunday, December 5, 2010


Dylinn's 1920's Speakeasy Themed birthday party was a huge success.  I'll post photos and talk about that soon, promise! First, let me just tell you how great we all looked.  So great in fact, that I convinced myself, and then my family, that our family portraits this year should be in our costumes.  Then I rounded up my good friend Tamlin and forced him to do the photoshoot.  He took all these photos on the automatic setting, but he and I did discuss poses, lighting, and tested out ideas together.  Some (a few I've shown below) were a huge success.  And some weren't so great (you won't see those).  I intentionally wanted the photos to look a little older.  That sepia style with a touch of color.  Overall, with a little cropping and processing, they all came out looking pretty amazing.  I could not be happier.   

With extra special thanks to Tamlin's wife for being an impromptu hair and make-up artist as well as photo assistant.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So sick of that photo

It's been a busy couple of weeks.  Around this time of year, we get a bit overwhelmed between Thanksgiving and the FOUR birthdays our family celebrates.  This year, we started with Thanksgiving and that Friday was Bug and my birthday (my mom shares our birthday as well - three generations all on one day!).  Saturday we had Bug and Bunny's birthday party.  Then Monday was Bunny's birthday and today, Wednesday, is Glamour Girl's birthday.  Yeah, four birthdays and one holiday all within 7 days of each other.  It's a lot.  Now we're gearing up for GG's Sweet 16 1920's Speakeasy costume party this Saturday.  Then I get to breath until Christmas!

Meanwhile, I got very sick of seeing that Arboretum photo.  So, since I haven't had a chance to breath much less take photos, please enjoy some farm photos my dad took.  24 more days until we're on the farm.  I cannot wait.

A little heavy frost in the fields outside of the house.

And here's our new farm mascot.  The Hubs wants to take this little guy home in the worst way!

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Winner Winner We Have a Winner!

Oh my there were some good ones this time!  Everyone must love Starbucks!!!

There were a couple of Oasis names, and a few Jungle ones that were pretty good.  However, I wanted to make special mention of Arenwen's Jurassic Salad Bar because it made me laugh.  And I was really drwan to Tamlin's Free Adventure: Start Here.  I was also pretty giggly about Wolf's Three Clowns Walk Into A Bar...  I didn't understand it mind you, but it did make me giggle.

But ultimately, I went with a facebook entry, Jennifer's Ascent in Frondescence because it was intriguing enough to make me go look up the word "Frondescence" 

1. the process, state, or period of putting forth leaves
2. leaves; foliage

CONGRATS JENNIFER!  I'll message you on facebook to get your address so I can send your prize out this weekend.  Thank you to EVERYONE who played!

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Photoshopping It!

So, here's the original SOOC shot I took at the arboretum with my friend Wendy.

The first thing I did was run the dodge tool over the steps a few times to lighten it up.  I really like the red that came out.

Then I ran Pioneer Woman's Boost action twice:  I liked it, but it didn't really "speak" to me.

So I added another action called Troy to the mix.  I love how it muted everything but the steps!

Then I added Pioneer Woman's Sunshine action on top of Boost and Troy.  It's a pretty unique look don't you think?

Then I looked at Troy all by itself without Boost and Sunshine and it looked like this.  It turned out just a little too "dead" looking.

I finally settled on just the Sunshine action.  I love that I can stack actions, mix and match them. Try one at a time or all at once.  It really allows me a lot of flexibility in my final piece.

 I liked the warmth in this one the best.  The stair was still pretty highlighted.  I'm like a lizard, I'm drawn to warm things!

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Water Bug

I took this photo again at the LA Arboretum with my friend Wendy.  And let me just tell you, I love everything about this photo.  I love the composition.  I love that it's got two of my favorite subjects in it. I love that Bunny is helping Bug get some water. I love the dirt smudge on Bug's face, the colors reflected in the faucet and Bug's cute little tongue sticking out.  But my favorite part is the drop of water just falling off his face.  I know, I'm weird. 

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Give this Photo a Name Contest

Last weekend my friend Wendy came to visit from Washington state.  One of the things we did was head back to the LA Arboretum to explore a bit more.  We found a few more hidden places I hadn't seen last time I was there.  This is one of the photos that I think turned out the best and since I hadn't done a contest in a while, this was perfect!

I did mess with this image quite a bit, but I'll show you all of that in a later post!

The rules are simple, just give this photo a title.  Something descriptive and creative.

Winner will be chosen next Thursday night and will win a $20 Starbucks gift certificate!
Good luck and thanks for playing!

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Saturday, November 13, 2010


It's very true that we all have our own demons to fight and conquer.  And often, I am thankful for the challenges presented to me every day, that are uniquely my own.  It helps me grow as a person in strength and integrity.  They test my will and my patience.  Especially my patience.  In the end, I hope these demons help mold me into a stronger and happier person for myself and for my family.

Usually though, my demons don't live in the same house with me.  Require food, clothing and shelter, and occasionally hair dye. 

This particular demon is crabby in the morning.

Oral hygiene doesn't seem to be an issue though.  Just look at those white teeth!

She's got some sort of skin disease.  I wonder if we should get that looked at by a professional.

And despite the weird acne, my demon is pretty cute.  I guess there are worse demons to live with.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

PS Sorry these Halloween photos are so late and I haven't been posting much.  In retail - even web retail - this time of year is our busiest.  I promise to be better in the future.  Or rather, I promise to try to be better.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Momma Bear Syndrome

I'm struggling.

I found out through a parent / teacher conference I attended for Bunny yesterday, that at a field trip she went to last week, one of the other kids (not in her class) said something mean to her.  Her feelings were hurt enough she almost cried.  Sitting there yesterday as her teacher relayed this information, at that short table in a chair that was way too small for my big adult butt, I died a little inside.

If you haven't met Bunny, let me lay it out for you.  My girl is over the top.  She's outrageous, energetic, loving, happy - oh so happy, and fun.  She has her moments of pouty-ness and tantrums mind you, but on a general whole, she's a very happy, sweet girl.  And she wants nothing more than to be everyone's friend. 

Now, even though I'm her mom, I can see how overwhelming my girl can be.  I get it.  And sometimes she's just too much.  So I understand how not everyone would instantly love her, or even want to be her friend.  I do.  But to say something openly mean to her??  Wow, I'm welling up in tears just thinking about it.  My girl.  My sweet, funny, and loving girl having her heart broken.  Having her spirit broken by some thoughtless remark, by some mean intention.  Who would do that?  You don't have to love her.  You don't even have to be her friend.  But don't be mean to my kid.  Seriously.

So I'm struggling today.  Every time I think about it, I just want to hold her close and tell her it doesn't matter what some mean kid says.  Of course, I don't.  This happened almost a week ago and I don't want to make it into some huge deal.  But I will tell her I love her.  I will tell her that she's a wonderful, amazing, smart, and beautiful girl.  And I will try to reinforce in her the self love she will need to grow into a strong and confident woman.  And thankfully, she had two wonderful teachers (her's and another) who walked her through how to handle it when people say mean things.  Those two teachers are my heros.  They lifted my girl's spirits.  They reinforced that what that kid said holds no water.  Reinforced that she's worthy when I couldn't be there.  Thank you Mrs. Huezo and Mrs. Davis! 

And still, I can't seem to let go of the bitterness at this kid who hurt my child.  And bitter that Bunny has to learn these kinds of life lessons at age 4.  A friend of mine says that kids are pure in their hearts and it's adults that teach them hate and bias.  So as angry as I am for Bunny and her hurt feelings, I'm also sad for that little kid, who probably learned by example to say mean things, also at the tender age of 4 or 5.  I guess I have to learn to be more like my Bunny.  To follow her example of just letting it go.  She hasn't let this incident slow her down.  I'm not even sure she remembers it.  Maybe I'll forget some day soon too, and focus again on the happiness  and joy in her life, instead of hurting for her.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Hullabaloo!

We had a great Halloween this year.  This was the first year that Bug was old enough to really get what Halloween was all about.  And I was a proud mama of both of my smalls for their "Trick or Treats" followed by "Thank You"s.  I love it when they show off their good manners, and they got lots of praise and positive reinforcement!  Love these proud mama moments.

The town we live in hosts a really great Halloween for kids.  All the businesses in our "old town" pass out candy so the kids can all trick or treat in a well lit, well populated area.  As a parent, this really just makes me feel so much better about the whole trick or treat thing. Seriously, the idea of my kids going house to house in my neighborhood kinda freaks me out.  Not that they aren't bad people.  Well, maybe because I have no idea what sort of people they are really.  People these days don't really know their neighbors I think.  Or maybe it's just our neighborhood because it's partially multi-family housing rental units.  Hard to get to know people when they're gone 6 months to a year later.  Still, I know when I was a kid, it wouldn't have mattered where I trick or treated.  Renters, owners, whatever.  But now?  Well, times have changed baby.  Halloween may not be what it used to be, but at least our kids can still experience the best parts of it without giving worrisome Mom's like me a heart attack.  Right?

I did of course, whip out the camera and get photos before the fun began, much to Bug and Bunny's unhappiness.

Here's Bunny.  Can you see how excited she is to pose for the camera?  She loves it.  No really, she does!  Okay, she doesn't.  But I'm the mom, and until she hits those terrible teen years, I can still force her to stand in front of the camera, even if she doesn't smile.

She was Dorothy this year.  But wait!  You've seen this outfit before?  Yep, times are tight.  There was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to have her re-wear this great costume.  She still looks just as cute don't you think?  Thank you Nanny for providing us with this costume!!

She doesn't look too broken up about it does she?  We're off to see the wizard!

Bug was a knight.  A FIGHTING knight.  Very important that we include the fighting part.  He insisted.  I really love this shot.  It was pure accident, but something about the composition really draws me in.  I think it would have neared perfection if I'd gotten a bit more of his sword in.  Ahh, well.  I still love it.  And couldn't you just melt into those big brown eyes?  Watch out girls!  This one is going to be a heart breaker!

"You talking 'bout me?"
Well, as soon as he realizes girls are like-able that is.  For now his first love is Race Cars, quickly followed by Dinosaurs.  I'm good with that!  (Thank you Nanny for the helmet and shield, and for the original sword that he broke and we had to replace!!!)

And here are my two little Tweedles together.  Yes Bug, I'm still talking about you!  Doesn't Bunny look like she's getting ready to walk down the isle with that bouquet of clover? 

We even had LW show up for part of the fun.  She's in her military get-up. No she hasn't joined up.  But wouldn't she make the perfect poster girl?

Of course, put her with the Tweedles and she's hard pressed not to laugh at those yahoos.  And really, who could blame her?

Of course, maybe it was the crazy pirate lady with the camera that was breaking her concentration.  So hard to tell.

Where's GG you ask?  Yeah, we have no idea.  We dropped her off Friday night at a friend's house and hopefully she managed to find her way home last night (hey, I go to bed early and leave early on Mondays, give me a break!).  This is the first Halloween she's had real plans (she's a junior in high school folks - she's a late bloomer), so I just hope she had a good time with her friends.  If anyone got a pic of her, I'll try to post it later.  Her costume was awesome!

Hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween! 

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teachers - Educators - Role Models

Last night I had a dream where among other things, I ran into some guy who knew my old Middle School Science teacher, Mrs. Andrews.  The dream was weird, as my dreams tend to be, but when I woke up, I couldn't stop thinking about Mrs. Andrews and two other teacher who really impacted me growing up.  It wasn't ever one specific thing or event, or one moment I can pin point.  I just remember them clearly in my mind.  And to be that memorable is a big deal.

So, Mrs. Andrews was my 7th grade Science teacher.  She may have well been my 8th grade science teacher too considering I spent most of my 8th grade science period on her class instead of the one I was suppose to be in.  She was an older woman when she was my teacher.  Nearing retirement for sure - at least to my adolescent mind that's how old she was.  When I think of her, the term "battle axe" immediately springs to mind.  She was grouchy.  Grouchy actually, might be putting it mildly.  I remember clearly she had a bumper sticker on her door that read "Don't tell me what kind of day to have!" and she meant it.  She drank her coffee out of beaker instead of a mug, and there were rumors that some kids had switched her beakers and she didn't even notice, that's how hard core she was.  She also told me once that she almost didn't need to grade my tests, she could always tell just by watching my expressions how many I got right.  She advised me never to play poker, and I never have.  I think she may have been a smoker, because I remember her voice being very low and gravelly.  And I remember loving her as one of my favorite teachers.  Not because she was easy on me, but because the exact opposite.  She expected a lot from me.  She expected me to LEARN.  Not just regurgitate back to her what was in the book, but actually to learn the material.  I remember how excited I was and how satisfied she was, the first time I ever actually connected the labs we were doing to the subject matter we were being tested on.  I checked my old school's website today, and of course, she's not still teaching there.  That was some 25 years ago, she may have already passed away.  But she made an impact.. man did she make an impact.

Then there was my 5th grade teacher Mr. Schiott. He was young and cute to my 5th grade eyes.  He was funny and fair and he laughed.  I remember he laughed a lot.  I also remember me being friends with some C list girls, wanting to be friends with a B list girl, and being courted by the A-list girls.  I remember how torn I felt between these three groups. I was naive in 5th grade, even for a 5th grader.  I didn't really understand why we couldn't all just be friends.  Why did was there all this fighting between the friends I really cared about?  It was.. disruptive.  Mr. Schiott watched the drama unfold in his class room until he'd finally had enough.  He pulled all three clicks into the hallway and me and forced me to choose.  And I did. It was the start of my endless wandering from click to click.  Because really, couldn't we all just be friends?  But honestly though, I think it was because he was so cute that I remember him so clearly.  He's also not still teaching at my old school.  But he was young, so maybe he just moved on.

And finally, let me talk about Mrs. Hughes.  She was my English teacher junior year of high school.  She and I didn't start off on the right foot.  We did a section on poetry.  Now, back in high school, I loved poetry.  I wrote sappy emotional crap like most teenage girls, thinking it was the most deep and profound words ever written.  And being a high school English teacher, Mrs. Hughes put up with it  with more grace than I would have.  No, the content wasn't our issue. She wanted me to make some minor changes to my content, and she wanted me to title it.  TITLE IT.  Can you believe her nerve??  Well, I was very self righteous back then, and there was no way I was going to TITLE my poetry.  It was MY poetry after all right?  A form of personal self expression.  And plus, they were the most profound words ever written right?  So I looked her right in the eye and said "If I change this, this and this, and put a title on it, I may as well put your name to it".  She sent me to the principals office.  I plead my case, and we had a meeting the principal, Mrs. Hughes and myself.  We compromised and I apologized.  Something about that event made her my favorite teacher.  I think because even though I stood my ground, she didn't make this a 'my way or the highway' event.  She actually saw my point in the titling even if it wasn't the best point, or expressed in the best way.  I never titled a single piece of my poetry that year. That year, because I was actually a Junior in a class with all Seniors, on Senior Skip day, we went to get ice cream.  One of the best afternoons of my life.

Who were your favorite teachers growing up?

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Autumn Festival

Bunny's school just had their very first Autumn Festival.  Traditionally, around this time of year, they do something called "Trunk Or Treating" where parents come and give out candy from the trunks of their cars as the kids trick or treat around the parking lot.  This year, they decided to shake things up and also move away from the Halloween business.

I want to clarify here, that I signed up to be one of two room mom's for Bunny's class.  Unfortunately, I am a complete failure at it so far, and only got logged into the room mom forums exactly ONE WEEK before the Autumn Festival.  This left me, and by proxy, all the parents in Bunny's class scrambling at the last minute to get enough volunteers to run our booth and donations for our booth.  More on our booth in a minute, but let me tell you.  This last week has been pretty hectic for me and for them, with a flurry of emails going out and plenty of fingers crossed for luck that we'd pull it off.

We didn't by the way.  Pull it off that is.  Thankfully, the school recognizes that Kinder Mom's (at least the ones who volunteer to be room mom's for our class and then fail miserably at it) aren't exactly on-board with school stuff yet and are still suffering separation anxiety from their babies which causes us to be a little more air-headed than most other Moms.  At least, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  Where was I?  Sorry, I got a little off track.  Anyway, they had a bunch of older teenagers helping out with our booth so even though we were very short staffed, it still all went well!  HOORAY!

You all are my witness.  I vow to do better in the future in my room mom duties.  You can hold me to that.

Our booth?  We were the races booth.  We had wheel barrow races and potato sack races and last but not least, we had donut eating races.  What's that? You've never heard of a donut eating race?  It's this incredible event where the donuts are hung up on string about forehead high to each child, and then they race to see who can eat all of the donut first.  Let me clarify that these are "mini" donuts not full sized.  Still, it was mad-capped and crazy, messy and full of excitement.  And MAN, did those kids come running when they announced over the loud speakers that we were running that event.  In fact, I was surprised at how many kids came running for the wheel barrow and potato sack events.  I think that might be a sign that I'm old and cynical, when I can't see how much joy kids would get out of that sort of thing.  I'll work on that.

After my volunteer shift, I ran home to pick up Bug (who had been napping), Bunny and The Hubs and we all headed back for some fun time.  GG decided she was a bit old for an elementary school autumn festival, but I bet she would have had fun if she'd come with us.  Oh well.

The very first thing we did was hit the bouncy house.  Because really, who can resist a bouncy house?

Then we made The Hubs stand in a super long line for face painting while I took Bug and Bunny to get their hair painted.  Bunny chose pink stripes.  Bug got a green stripe down the middle of his head, with blue dots.  Happiness apparently, is blue dots.

Then Bunny and Bug created these mask masterpieces.  Seriously, I'm thinking of auctioning them with Sothersby.  They're that good don't you think?  Monet? Picasso? Anyone?

Then we checked in on The Hubs.  Yep, still in line.  So we went to the Bean Bag toss, where they both won a prize.  The Basket Ball Toss, where they both won a prize and finally the Ring an Apple toss where they both won a prize.  My kids are gifted.  Seriously gifted.

Finally it was our turn at the face painting.  Bunny got Hello Kitty on her cheek.  And Bug got a shark on his arm.

We finished off our afternoon of fun with a balloon each.  Not too shabby.  They had other things too.  A kid sized ferris wheel which we were unwilling to stand in line for as well as a rock-wall that also had a long line.  The Cotton Candy booth had the longest line.  We waited a bit too long to get a piece of pie, or the BBQ they had for food vendors.  We also missed the petting zoo which closed just after we arrived.  And we didn't want to wait to get our pictures taken in the school cut-outs, but otherwise, we pretty much hit it all.

I was excited to see so many families at this event.  I am not exaggerating when I say the place was packed.  I'm glad the kids and parents all had fun.  I'm glad that we got Bunny into a school that has so much parent involvement, and where the PTA has enough support that we can put on something like this.  I don't believe the school Bunny was zoned to go to, had anything like this or even does the trunk or treating.  It just makes such a difference in their education doesn't it?  Having such support of parents, faculty and staff?  We were lucky to get into this school.  I'm so glad we did.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Animated Drawings

Draw The Dog

OMG.  And I don't say that lightly.  OMG, this was the funnies thing I've seen in a while.

(I must confess up front that I found this site through The Pioneer Woman's site.) 

Former Disney Animator Jim George draws out a cartoon using photos people send of their dogs as inspiration.  Then he puts an animation of how the cartoon is created online for our amusement.  It's incredibly captivating to watch the artistry shape the cartoon in front of your very eyes, and the cartoons are pretty funny too.

So he started with this inspirational photo:

 Then this is how the cartoon started to appear.

As an artist (or at least I consider myself one), this is awesome to watch.  I love how compelling it is for young kids (Bug and Bunny love this).  It helps make art relate-able and interesting for people of all ages.  Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Seriously.. Thoughts? 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Social Buying Power

Have you heard of Groupon? Or Living Social? If you haven't, let me help you out from that rock you've been living under.  It works like this.  You sign up with your email address with a company like Groupon or Living Social.  Each day they send you one deeply discounted deal to use at local businesses. The deals are activated only when a minimum number of people agree to buy. So you get a great deal and the business gets a ton of new customers. Win-win.

They're generally focusing on savvy young urbanites.  The majority are college-educated single females who go out two or more times a week.  They're avid users of social media who spread the word through blogs, facebook and twitter.  While I'm not a young urbanite, and haven't been single in a while, I am college educated and a female, and an avid user of social media outlets.  Plus, I use the internet for my job every day.  Not exactly the ideal focus group, but I'm at least on the fringes.

Ultimately, I signed up with both Groupon and Living Social a few months ago as part of research for the company I work for.  I got the daily deal in my email and most were for trendy restaurants or bars I would never fit in at, even if I wanted to drive all the way into down town Los Angeles.  Plus, finding a babysitter is hard, and the time, near impossible.  Some were for some pretty cool things I didn't even know they had around here, like indoor sky diving lessons and a 2 hour tour of Hollywood on a Segway.  Pretty cool, but not enough for me to spend my hard earned and very limited funds.

A few days ago though, the daily deal in my in-box was for a year long family membership to the Los Angeles Arboretum a $70 value for only $35.  You may remember we took a trip there over the summer with some friends where I got to shoot my camera to my heart's content.  And I did.  I had been thinking about taking the whole family there sometime in the next few get our yearly family photos taken.  I could not believe my good luck.  Plus, the membership allows us to visit other arboretums and gardens around the country for free as well.  Now, I'm not sure we'll ever put that to use in the next year, but the option is there if we need it.  That's peace of mind baby.

The deal required 75 people to buy in to make it a go.  I was number 71.  It was 8am on a Saturday when I bought in.  By the end of the day 1,819 people had bought in on this deal.  And that my friend, is social media word of mouth and the power of group purchasing at its finest.   This is quickly becoming an amazing advertising and deal finding tool especially in today's economy.  If you haven't checked it out yet, and don't mind wading through deals that might not apply to you, definitely sign up.  It's free, and the deals really are pretty amazing.

If you're a member of one of these types of groups, and have bought in on something, what was the best deal you got? 

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Ps.  This is not a paid advertisement, these guys have no idea who I am, or that I might be all excited about the deals they have.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Good Night Mr. C

If you're anything like me, you grew up watching Happy Days, with Ritchie, Fonzy, Joni and of course, Mr. &; Mrs. C.  For me, Tom Bosley always looked a bit like my dad, so I always identified with him in his father role, probably more than most.  But what I loved most about Mr. C., was that he was the kind of dad every kid wished for.  He was understanding and approachable.  He was hard when he needed to be, but with love and goodwill at the heart of it all.  He tolerated his kids' friends, he was there for good times and bad times.  He wasn't just a 50's dad, he was a dad for the ages.

I'll miss you Tom Bosley, and I know I'm not alone.

Goodnight Mr.C.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Photoshop Art II

As promised, I played around with some textures today.  Now, I am no expert here, so a lot of this was just me fumbling around until something looked nice.  I did a combination of add textures I found online, and using the texture filters built-in to Photoshop.  Take a look!

I started with this image as my base.  Just because.

This was an old photo texture I found online.  I played around with the brightness/contrast and the opacity to make it look like this.  It's subtle.

Another texture I found online and overlaid onto the image.  It was an image of a stone wall.  Again, really subtle, but I love how it reacted with some of the other filters I already applied.

This was great.  It was a vertical white stucco wall texture that I added to the top but only applied to her skin.  It makes her look all full of boils and warts.  Perfect for Halloween!

This was the notepaper filter built-in to photoshop.  Love how this one came out.  Love Love Love!

This was the canvas filter built-in to Photoshop.  I like this one a lot because you can make an image "look" like it's been printed on canvas, and unless you get right up on it, no one would ever know the difference.  Especially if you frame it right.

And just because I couldn't resist, enjoy my creepy Halloween bunny!

Which one is your favorite?

Seriously.. Thoughts?