Monday, December 31, 2007

I did it.

As many of you know, I love salsa. LOVE it. Chips and salsa is just about the perfect snack. Or meal. Whichever. I wouldn't call myself a connoisseur of salsas, but I am kind of picky. I only like Mexican restaurant salsa. As a matter of fact, good salsa is one way I rate Mexican restaurants (the other is cheese enchiladas, but that's another topic). I do NOT like salsa from a jar. Grossie.

So, I make my own. I've got a good recipe that's easy with few ingredients (some of you may know it). Jon is not a picky salsa eater, but his one complaint was the consistency. He likes salsa that stays on the chip, and my blender was creating a thin puree of the oh-so-lovely salsa.

Enter: the food processor! When I requested a food processor for Christmas, it was for two reasons. One, because I can't seem to chop onions without also chopping myself, and two, because I figured it was a way to get a thicker salsa. And I was right!

Let me segue for a moment and also say I'm in constant pursuit of better salsa. This combined with the fact that the key ingredient of my normal salsa--Trappy's Torrido Peppers--seems to have become persona non grata led me to try out a new recipe.

Here it is:

Put these ingredients into the processor with the chopper blade and chop on high:
1 bunch cilantro, gathered and tops cut off (maybe about 2C loosely packed?)
6 hot chili peppers (mine was Mezzetta brand)
2 green onions
3 Chili Cascabel (they're dried chipotle peppers--mine was Fiesta brand)

Then add these and chop on low:
1 28 oz. can Hunt's whole tomatoes (some of the liquid poured off)
1 10 oz. can Rotel
Garlic, Salt and Cumin to taste

Mmmmm......a perfect salsa.... Look at it! Great color, wonderful taste (I love the cilantro!), and the chunky consistency Jon likes. I was worried that the cilantro wouldn't chop well in such a big processor, but it worked beautifully. And it added such a great flavor! The chipotle peppers add the darker color and a little more depth to the flavor as well.

So now go! Why are you still reading? Go get some cilantro, some yummy peppers, and a food processor! Go!

Oh, and then invite me over! I'll bring the chips!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Post

Posts to look forward to in the coming days:
1. Babysitting Sophie overnight!
2. Christmas fun, Lydia's family
3. Christmas fun, Jon's family
4. Photography update
5. New Year's Resolutions
6. A small tutorial on aperture in photography
7. And, as always, the silliness that is my cat.

Now don't you just wish the coming days were coming faster!

In the meantime, I've put up a photo of a recent photo shoot on my LMN-o-Photo site, and will try to put up more in the coming days. So check it out! The link is in the sidebar.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Anniversary

There comes a time in a marriage (especially when the two are opposites) when those traits that we once held dear about our beloved spouses become...well...not so dear. That was this year for us. Jon had just about too many times when I was busy, or double-committed by accident, or taking other people's feelings into account over all else, or making mountains out of molehills. And I was tired of Jon's black and white worldview, his "my way or the highway" attitude. Add a few stresses into our lives, and out comes a big, black knot that's hard to untangle.

That has been the past year for us. We've gotten into that knot. But, by the grace of God and the love He gives us for each other, we've gotten out. I'm sure we'll get into similar knots in the future, but it's good to know that we don't give up. That we remember why we married each other.

I remember that Jon is my rock of stability. When I face things I don't understand or can't conquer on my own, I feel helpless and flail harder against the unconquerable. Jon helps me realize that I can't do things on my own, and some things aren't for me to do at all. I can't wave a wand and make things better in our life or the lives of my friends. Some things (most things) are for God alone to handle.

I remember that Jon is my discernment. When I see an opportunity to try/learn/be involved with something new, I jump at the chance. After exhausting myself and turning my priorities up-side-down, I've realized that Jon has a good sense about whether or not I should involve myself.

I remember that Jon is my home. I flit from friend to friend, enjoying coffee with one, playing guitar with another, dinner with a third. All are good things, but at the end of the day, I come home with nothing left to extend to my husband. I am reminded that Jon is my Best Friend above all.

We've been married 5 years, now. And I'm so thankful for each of those years! God has taught us through each one.

Tomorrow (Friday) is our anniversary, but we celebrated on Tuesday. Jon started the day with a surprise from Edible Arrangements! When he told me to be home by 2:00, I thought sure it was flowers, but he knows I love surprises! And who can resist chocolate covered strawberries?!

Then we got dressed up and ate downtown at the Reata! We even got to use valet parking, and I felt so special when someone came and opened my door for me. We ate pretty quickly (the food was delicious), and then we sat and chatted for a long while, sipping cappuccino and pondering where the next 5 years may lead us. We went up to the rooftop of the building, which is a garden/bar (maybe I should say "bar/garden" since most people were there for the bar) with fountains and flowers and a beautiful view of the city all lit up for Christmas.

All in all, it was a sweet, wonderful memory. I'm thankful for the many wonderful memories we have tucked away from these past 5 years. I love you, Jon!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A case of the hiccups

Jon and I have a tried and true way to get rid of the hiccups. He gives me a huge bear hug, and my hiccups are gone! I'm not sure why this works. In my mind, I imagine that the hug squeezes my lungs and diaphragm back into submission. Or something like that. It works, however it happens.

Except for today.

No amount of bear hugging to make my hiccups stop! So Jon resorted to method #2: the Tickle. Then I just looked like a drunk, laughing and hiccuping. It didn't help.

On to method #3, which is the one Jon likes to use when he gets the hiccups: Yell as loud and as long as you can. I guess it works for the same reason as holding your breath or drinking lots of water. Anyway, Jon suggested that, directed me away from his ears, and began the countdown to the Big Yell.

Let me just interject something that Jon did not know about me. In band, we used to have contests. We'd all play one note, and see how long we could play it. The last one still honking out a note won at the end. I was that person. Jon did not know this.

About halfway through my yell, he started pushing on my diaphragm, I think to make me yell faster. Then he started laughing and asked if I was breathing through my nose somehow. That made laugh and lose all the rest of the air inside me (as well as my hiccups, by the way!).

So now you know. I impressed the band class (yes, I know it's nerdy), and I've still got it! Big lungs! Woohoo!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mostly about the cat.

I just watched my cat yawn three times in a row. Oh wait. Four! It's pretty cute because he stretches out and curls his back toes. Plus he's under the Christmas tree, by all the packages, and it's just a nice picture. It makes me sleepy, too. No fair getting the easiest job in the house: sleeping and being available for petting at all times. My goodness! Five! I think it's because I keep making eye contact with him. Then he yawns, stretches and curls his toes. I think he needs attention...maybe just a little pet....

...There. I rubbed his belly until he ran away. He'll be good for another half hour or so until it's time to be fed. For being a cat, he's excellent at telling time.

Okay, not to continue talking about a cat, but now he's sharing the laptop with me. He's got his paws on the computer, and he's very fascinated with the cursor. He used to do this as a kitten, but it doesn't happen often any more. I mean, I had to drag him up here, but he's staying, and that's what's important! What a great cat.

Anyway, on to other things. I just got back from almost a week of meetings with the Sales & Marketing team of my company. Not too long ago, we had 6 people on the team, and now we have 16! So many new people! But it's due to the great growth our company has had, and I'm excited about how much more it will grow now that we have all these people in place.

I am still the sole graphic designer, and I think that's fine. We probably have to grow a little more before I start needing a team of my own! However, it does look like I may be taking a marketing class in the spring so I can improve my marketing skills. I hope I can find a good class and I'm excited about learning new things.

Holly and I put up lights on the house today. I was reminded that we've been friends for over a year now! I've really loved her friendship. She has taught me a lot about what it is to be a good neighbor and friend. And of course, she has the cutest girl on the block! Though we left Sophie with Jon today for an hour, and he looked a little shell-shocked when we got back inside! I'm used to her constant energy and ability to find the exact things I didn't want her to touch/bite/write on/break, and she still wears me out, so I can't imagine how Jon felt! She's learning to dance to music, and it's really cute to see her wiggle when music comes on. :)

...Hm...what else? Friday's still sitting with me, and I think it's only because of the movement of the cursor on the screen, so I feel compelled to keep writing. I'm afraid we could be in it for the long haul!

Oh, I got a tattoo! It happened at the marketing meeting. A few meetings back (last March), I had mentioned how I'd always wanted a tattoo, but couldn't decide what to get or where to put it. When I decided, though, I would get one. Well, that stuck with some of the people on the team (maybe because I don't seem like the tattoo type), and they mention it every time we get together. So, this time, I decided to go for it. Baby Pluto (from Disney) on my ankle. Why Pluto? Well, Spidey in the black costume and Spidey in the red costume were the first two that came out of the coin machine, but those didn't seem to fit. The third was Pluto, and then I was out of quarters! So Pluto it is...at least until he rubs off.

Well, you're in luck. After leaving quite a few 5s and ts on this post (which I edited out for you), Friday left, so I guess I'll go brush up on my Christmas carols on guitar for tomorrow morning. I should have figured he would leave soon; it's T minus 5 minutes til I feed him! (A coincidence that he was typing 5s and ts???)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The beauty of the WhiBal

I recently purchased a WhiBal white balance card to add to my photography tools. It's really great! If you clicked on the link, you saw the videos of why it's so great. But since I'm not good at explaining the science of it all, let me just show you.

Here is a picture of my tree:
Obviously, you can tell it's not the right color. I mean, the Christmas lights make a certain color, but in general, it's got that yellow tone that comes with taking indoor photography with no flash. So...enter the WhiBal! The WhiBal is a neutral gray, lighter than the normal 18% gray card used for exposure. Because it's neutral (no red, yellow, etc. undertones), any color coming from it in a photo will tell you the color that is coming from the lighting.

Again, I'm not good at 'splaining. But here's what you do. You take a photo in the same place as before, only this time include the WhiBal:
Now, open the two images in Photoshop. This is where the magic happens! If you've taken the pictures in RAW format, it will open the RAW converter, where you can make all kinds of adjustments. Then, you show Photoshop what color casts are in your photo by selecting a spot on the WhiBal. It takes that information and removes the color cast of all selected photos.

Tada!
Now for a little final tweaking, and you've got a nice photo!
Sometimes I look at it and think, "But I like the first photo better!" Well, in that case, you leave it the way it was. There's no rule saying you can't! And in this instance, it's kind of nice to have the warm tones of the first photo. However, this is a big timesaver when it comes to portraits, because no one likes yellow undertones in their skin tone.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time with family and friends. It was good to enjoy the day in John and Karen's home, which was beautiful and inviting. Ken joined us for the first time, and it was great to have him.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Christmas lists

Okay, everyone, the last month of shopping is upon us! If you have an Amazon list, this is your gentle reminder to update it, or you might get something you already have 3 of. If you don't have an Amazon list, I would recommend looking into it. It's a great way to keep track of things you like throughout the year. I've found it handy in case I come upon some extra money in a month, or Jon wants to add something to his order to get free shipping. And then, of course, it's handy when Christmas comes around! So look into it! I've done my part by updating my list. You'll see the link for it at the bottom of the side bar.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

November 2007 Camping Trip!

Here's the camping trip! The camera was passed among myself, Margie, and Jon. If you see a really great artsy shot, it's probably Margie!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Murder Charades

Here is a slideshow of one of the many reasons I love Jon. He's really great at charades!


We're playing Murder Charades on our camping trip, taught to use by a newcomer to the camping trip, Christy. What is Murder Charades? Let me 'splain.

Divide up into two teams.

Team 2 goes to a place out of hearing distance from Team 1. Team 1 decides on a murder. They have to decide three things: 1) Who was murdered, 2) Where they were murdered, and 3) How they were murdered.

Team 1 calls for one person ("Player A") from Team 2 to come over. They explain the scenario to that player. Player A then calls over Player B from Team 2. Player A proceeds to use charades to explain the scenario to Player B.

Then, the game becomes a little bit like "Telephone" we all used to play as kids, where we started a sentence at one end of the line, whispered it from person to person all the way to the other end of the line, and got to see how the sentence changed.

Without being able to confirm with Player A, Player B must also use charades to explain--this time to Player C--what happened. It goes like that all the way through the players on Team 2. The last player has to guess what really happened.

It's a lot of fun. In the slides above, Jon is acting out this scenario: PeeWee Herman was in Greenland when he was murdered by an icicle. Of course, I had been Player A and he was Player B, so he thought my version of PeeWee Herman was a baseball player...I'd tried to show a little boy on the peewee baseball league, but never could get the "Herman" part. Oh, well.

My first photo shoot

Yesterday, I went out to the park with Tim & Margie for my first photo shoot. It was a blast! Margie's very creative and very good with the camera, so her input was excellent. I'm really good friends with Tim & Margie, so we were all comfortable and had a lot of fun. I appreciated Tim for going along with what I asked, because I know guys don't always get into photo shoots like girls do. His mind was on the guys football game, and yet he didn't say a word when he was going to be late for the start of the game.

I got some good shots, and they've already made their order on my new smugmug page. I'm trying it during a free trial period, and we'll see how it goes! I hope it works, because I already have three other couples interested in taking photos! I'm so excited, and loving it all!

Friday, November 09, 2007

A normal day

Today, after getting out of the shower, I did my normal routine. Only this time, as I raised my arm for it's daily anti-odor application, I realized I was holding the toothpaste, not the deodorant.

"Wow..." I said out loud. I amaze myself with my scatterbrained-ness.

I quickly put the toothpaste away, grabbed the correct toiletry, and the next thing I realized, I was reaching for the toothbrush. I'm glad I stopped short before I actually applied deodorant to the toothbrush. Or the initial toothpaste to the armpit. Neither of those would have been particularly pleasant.

Aren't you thankful that these kinds of things don't happen to you? Don't you feel a slight tinge of pity for this girl who has probably forgotten your birthday, told you something twice, or never returned your phone call? Now you know it's not just you. I do it to me, too!

Photography Note

I've added an RSS feed of my LMN-o-Photo blog in the side column. That way you can check and see if there are new posts. As you'll see from the latest posts, I'm just playing around right now. :) This weekend is the camping trip and my first photo shoot, though! Hopefully some good pics will come from that.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's Here

My camera is here! In honor of the occasion, I've started a new blog! LMN-o-Photo will be a spot I can put my favorite photos. I'm going to try to take photos each day and post my favorite at the end of the day. But maybe it'll just be every few days. Who knows.

I'm starting off with my favorite and most patient subject....

Monday, November 05, 2007

What's in a Name?

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother & father's middle name)
Marie Byrl

9. NASCAR NAME: (name of your mother's dad, fathers dad)
Wilbur Otis

8. STARWARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, any 2 letters of your first name) Norla I like this one! Or Nordl looks like a SW name...one I could read but never pronounce.

7. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, fav animal)
Red Cheetah My tagline: I'll find out if your wife is a cheetah! (Get it? a cheater?....never mind.)

6. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Marie Dallas (Yeah, that's not gonna fly.)

5. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fav color, fav alcohol drink, add "THE" to the beginning)
The Green Pepper (Dr Pepper, that is, not the actual green pepper.)

4. FLY GIRL/GUY NAME: (1st letter of 1st name, 1st 3 letters of your last)
L'Nor (I think it might work)

3. GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, fav cookie)
Vanilla Peanut Butter (that one doesn't work at all, though it might make a good rap)

2. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet's name, current street name)
Friday Countryside (Definitely a country singer, not so much rock)

1. STRIPPER NAME: (name of your fav perfume/cologne, fav candy)
Happy Three Musketeers (I'll let you draw your own conclusions)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Left Out

Yesterday, I was with my church group at the Fall Festival. The guys were manning the bean bag toss, leaving the womenfolk to pass out candy. I realized very quickly that I was the ONLY girl there not pregnant. Out of SIX girls. So, since my costume wasn't that great (I came as a college student: jeans, freshman t-shirt and flip flops), I quickly stuffed my jacket under my shirt, and managed a pretty convincing baby bump--convincing enough that I had the pastor looking at me and whispering to his wife to come over and ask me. He finally figured it out and thought it was pretty funny. And all the trick-or-treater parents got to figure it out, too. "One of these things is not like the others...."

Today, I tried out a new place for lunch: Juanes Taqueria. Very Mexican. Everything was in Spanish and I was the only gringo in there (or would I be a gringa?). I wasn't about to order the "gringo tacos" so I stuck to real tacos (I suppose), which were meat, cilantro and onions. I like cilantro a lot.

Also today, I headed to the store only to realize I'd forgotten my grocery list. I'd put it in my pocket, but then promptly changed pants before leaving the house.

Okay, the last incident isn't the same "left out" as the first two, but I was running out of incidents.

[EDIT] Aha! I did have another one! I was making baked potato soup after my grocery run, and I left out the crock pot liner. I really like crock pot liners. They make crock pot cleaning so much easier. Unless, of course, you forget to use them.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Lotta Numbers

Today, my car rolled over to 100,000 miles, and it's still in great shape. We gave it a makeover with a steering wheel cover, new rugs, and pretty soon a tuneup.

Today, the money got to where it was supposed to be, and we bought my new camera! It should be in on Monday or Tuesday. And I already have two couples who have booked photography sessions, with one even referring to me as "the photographer" in her e-mail to her family.

Today, I presented an ad budget that was 84% higher than last year, and the president accepted it. He also loved the new web site, which is scheduled to be online Jan '08.

Today has been a great day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My role in the environment

I think I would have been a tree-hugger living in a tree named Luna were I not a Christian. I love nature, and had I not had a larger cause for which to fight, this is the one I would have chosen. Instead, I fight for the Kingdom, and my battles are for the eternity of souls, not just for the limited future of our planet.

As a conservative Christian, I have learned through observation that people who fight for the cause of the rain forest or the spotted barn owl are "crazy liberals." As a reaction, I tend to ignore environmentalism entirely, so as to be considered a good and conforming Christian.

Yet we as Christians have a clear directive to care for the planet God created for us. As ones who know the real origin of the species, and why we're put on this earth, we should be the most qualified to care for it. Unlike non-Christians, we know the value of our planet, and we also know the value of the human souls on the planet. Many environmentalists put the planet before the people. Sacrifice all for the sake of the earth! Instead, we need to put the people before the planet.

I do believe we have an obligation to care for the earth the best that we can. With that in mind, here are things that I already do:
  • Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Drive less. My job allows me to do this very well, with a commute only once a week.
  • Recycle basic items: milk jugs and food boxes.
Not much, I know. Here are the things I plan to do.
  • Purchase a 2nd trash can for the kitchen, which will hold glass, metal and cardboard recycling.
  • Dedicate the office trash can to recyclable paper only.
  • Take bags with me to the grocery store to carry my groceries with, so I won't need to use so many plastic bags.
  • Plant a tree in my back yard.
Nothing profound, I know, but something worthwhile.

Here are other bloggers who have posted their thoughts much better than I could (and I'll update if anyone else posts):
Christian Thinker
The Thinking Servant: Part 1, Part 2
Leanna's Little Spot
Margie's Take Two

Monday, October 29, 2007

All dressed up and nowhere to go!

So many good things have happened lately (despite the post below!).

One, Jon's schedule is now officially moved to days! He'll only work nights on Friday evening, but the rest of his schedule has moved to regular 8 to 5 working hours. I'll be so glad to have him home in the evenings!

Second, my new lens is in, and I have all the money I need to buy a camera! I've got my cart all full of what I'm going to buy on Adorama.com, and I'm just waiting for Paypal to clear so I can push the "Checkout" button. I'm really excited about the possibility of doing portraits for people. I think they will make great Christmas gifts, and be inexpensive, too!

Third, did I tell you Jon and I biked 28 miles two Saturdays ago? We did our trip from Weatherford to Mineral Wells. It turns out, 6 miles til Mineral Wells, the trail was closed due to flooding, so we had to turn around. But it was a great time and a beautiful day!

Another beautiful day was this past Saturday, when we spent the day painting and nailing up trim at a Habitat for Humanity project. It was great to meet the new home owner and paint alongside her. And I carried on my dad's legacy of being a great caulker! (If I do say so myself.)

Fall is in full swing, and is as busy as ever. But it's fun, and I'm loving it.

An Emotional Reactor

Hi, my name is Lydia, and I'm an Emotional Reactor.

Last week, I saw an elderly man who had fallen and hit his head on concrete. There was blood everywhere (as there is with head injuries), and it was a tense several minutes waiting for the ambulance. When I came home from that incident, I told Jon how much it had scared me. I prayed for the man and his family, and--not able to do anything else--I moved on. However, later that day, I snapped at Jon and caused a huge blowup over a trivial issue. At the end of that argument, I realized that it wasn't the little thing Jon did that I was upset about; it was the image of the man in a pool of blood that was replaying in my mind. I hadn't realized how much it bothered me.

Something similar happened last night. I had several things occur yesterday that could have upset me, including a forum discussion about Registered Sex Offenders in the church. I didn't know that I was upset, though, until I careened right into a confused argument with Jon. Confused, because Jon had no idea where it was coming from. And I didn't either, really, until I could look at it in retrospect, and understand how much I'd internalized the things I'd heard that evening.

So I've realized I'm an emotional reactor. I take things really hard with no initial warning signs. Then, when it comes out, it's an explosion that no one should be around for! I'm sorry to say that Jon has been around for more than his share!

So, how does one combat a problem like this? We all know that the first step is recognizing I have a problem (hence the first sentence of this post). But what after that? How do I become aware of something that has up til now only revealed itself in retrospect?

Well, to continue with the AA 12-Step-Program, it turns out that the next step is (gasp!) trusting in God to fix the problem. Now I feel like the idiot Christian who should know better. So, you can be sure that I'll be bringing this issue to the One who created me, who must sigh every time I get so blind. And as for you, well, if I get upset with you, have some patience and remember that my idealistic heart can't handle all the evils of this world, and sometimes that reaction comes out when no one expects it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Reminder

Don't forget! If you have thoughts on Environmentalism, please post them on October 30!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spring Camping Trip 2007

So, last April our class from church went on a camping trip. I never really posted about it because I video taped it all, and that takes longer to put together than a photo slideshow. Well, we've got our next camping trip coming up, so to promote interest, I finally put together the video. I'm using music from MercyMe's new album (see previous post). I actually got this song from FreeCCM.com. It takes an e-mail and password, but otherwise looks like it's a free and legal way to download Christian music. I'll let you know if I get a ton of junk mail from it.

Without much further ado, here's the Camping Trip Video! Oh, and I hope you've got high-speed internet, because it's a big one...and you just need high speed.

video

MercyMe's New Album!

MercyMe is coming out with a new album Nov. 20th! I heard the new single, and it's really amazing. It's called God With Us, and it will be on the new All That Is Within Me album. Click the link and listen to the first song. It just makes you want to put your hands in the air and worship!

The best news is that MercyMe has always had great CD prices, but you can preorder this album for only $11.97, and that includes an autograph from the band, a link to preview music, and the collector's edition cd, which has video, a ringtone, acoustic versions of songs, etc.

Needless to say, I've already told Jon this would be a perfect Christmas gift for me.....and I just talked to him on the phone, and we're going to go ahead and get it! Hooray! Since it's a "limited edition" I convinced him we needed to get it now. He loves MercyMe as much as I do, so it didn't take too much convincing.... :)

Next time you see me driving in the car, I'll be jamming to the new MercyMe!! ...Okay, at least after Nov. 20th.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Group Effort: Environmentalism

I've been more and more aware of environmental activism. Yesterday I stumbled upon a blog whose author's main goal was to eliminate plastic from her home and daily use. Today is something called "Blog Action Day " where bloggers can post about what they'll do to save the environment. Everything has a "green" option. A blog I frequent often has put up several posts on being more environmentally-conscious, and today I started reading a review on Leonardo DiCaprio's "11th Hour" film, which is evidently about "going green." To top it off, Al Gore gets a standing ovation wherever he goes because of his film on global warming.

All of this can rub me the wrong way, but I realize that it is mostly because this is a "liberal's battle." Liberals are at the forefront of every green cause. However, I have a feeling that Christians, as stewards of this earth, should be the biggest proponents of "saving the earth." And I'd like to know what you think about that.

So, here's the idea. Today is Blog Action Day, and I realize we've missed the boat on that one. But let's take one day where we all post about environmental issues. It can be pro-green, anti-green, whatever you believe about our (Christian) role in the environment, and the popularity of going green.

I'm asking because I'd really like to know what other conservatives think on the issue, and I'd like to delve into it myself, and see if I can figure out what I think. I also realize that thinking it through forces me to be active about what I believe. Thus far, I've been a half-hearted recycler, and that's the "greenest" I've gotten. So, when you come to a conclusion, include the action that's required due to that conclusion--and all conclusions will require action.

If you want to be involved, let's post our Thoughts on Environmentalism in two weeks, October 30th. And remember, comments on today's post shouldn't include environmental thoughts--save those for the 30th!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blessings

On Saturday, we came home from the Fair (more on that later) to find our A/C had frozen up. There's a leak in the something-or-other that needs to be fixed or replaced, but our landlord hasn't wanted to do that, yet (both options are expensive, and this came up very soon after the flood). So, we can only assume the leak has gotten worse, which caused the A/C to not cool the house like it should, which caused the air to keep running, which caused the unit to freeze up.

So, the A/C guy is supposed to come out today, but that meant two nights of no cool air. Thankfully, it's been wonderfully cool outdoors. Most of our window screens aren't sturdy enough to open the windows; basically they're pieces of screen screwed in at various areas, but the corners flap open and Friday could get out easily. But, the screens in our bedroom windows are actual screens--granted, they're still screwed in place, but at least they don't let Friday out.

So, we opened the windows, added another fan to our room, and enjoyed the cool. Then, (the best part) it rained last night. And it's still raining this morning! How wonderful to wake up to thunder rolling and the rain pitter pattering on the grass.

There couldn't have been a better time for the air to go out.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Doodle of the Day


The point is the fish. Disregard the fluff behind the fish. :)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Signing Off for a Few Days

I'll be in the office for a Marketing Meeting the next few days. Activities include a habachi grill, a "team building exercise" requiring jeans and flat shoes, a presentation of the web site (my part), and endless meetings. The perks include paid meals and staying with John and Karen!

I'll be back at the end of the week, and I don't expect to have much blogging time until then. So, see ya on the weekend!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Man O' Mine

1. Who is your man? Jon
2. How long have you been together? 6 years
3. How long did you date? 6 mos before engagement, then 10 more months before wedding
4. How old is your man? 27
5. Who eats more? Jon, but I can hold my own!
6. Who said "I love you" first? Jon did, sort of under his breath, like he was practicing to say it to me for real later. I don't think he knew I heard. :)
7. Who is taller? Jon, by 10 inches. That's why we have a kissing stool. :)
8. Who sings better? We sing best when we sing together! (Awww....)
9. Who is smarter? Jon is definitely smarter; I'm more curious, but don't retain as much information
10. Whose temper is worse? Hm...we both have a pretty quick temper
11. Who does the laundry? Jon is the laundry guru in our house!
12. Who takes out the garbage? I gather it around the house and leave it on the doorstep, and he puts it in the big trash can and rolls it to the street when he gets home from work. It's a group effort....
13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? I have always slept on the right side.
14. Who pays the bills? Jon pays all the bills
15. Who is better with the computer? Definitely Jon.
16. Who mows the lawn? Jon, AND he weed eats. It's amazing what a difference weed eating makes.
17. Who cooks dinner? Both of us cook. Jon used to do it most evenings, but we're probably pretty even now.
18. Who drives when you are together? Definitely Jon. I hate driving and pass the keys whenever I can!
19. Who pays when you go out? Jon. It's all from the same pot, but he doesn't like it when I pay.
20. Who is most stubborn? We both are!
21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? Jon is. I'm never wrong. *wink!*
22. Whose parents do you see the most? Mine, but we stay with his longer when we do see them.
23. Who kissed who first? Jon kissed me, another thing done as if he were practicing for later--on my head as he left my apartment. I had never experienced weak knees until then! My first kiss!
24. Who asked who out? If you count all the times I made up stuff to do where I needed transportation, I asked him out first. But for our official first date, he asked me.
25. Who proposed? Jon, of course! And it was perfect.
26. Who is more sensitive? Probably me, but he was the one who taught me how to cry.
27. Who has more friends? Our friends come in couples, so we're kind of even.
28. Who has more siblings? We both have one brother: mine's older, his is younger.
29. Who wears the pants in the family? Jon, though if it were up to him, it would be shorts. And flip flops and a t-shirt. Perfect all-weather apparel.

Friday, October 05, 2007

My first camera purchase


It's mine! All mine!

That was me winning victoriously, as ebay tells me I should.

I made my first camera purchase today. I've been on the lookout for the camera and one particular lens, the 50mm f/1.8. I used it at Mawmaw's wedding, have read dozens of reviews about it, and it's a really great product for the price. It's one of the (if not THE) least expensive lenses Canon offers, and it sounds like most photographers have it (or the more expensive brother, the f/1.4). Because it's f/1.8, it's really good in low/natural light, which is the way I take most of my photos. Anyway, they run about $80 new, and even on ebay, they're usually still $80. So when I saw one near the end of bidding for $50, I put my bid in, and won it for $57! Hooray!

So, it sets my camera fund back a little bit, but not really, since I would want to use this lens with the camera first thing out of the box. It also means I can look for a camera body only (no included lens), which will save some money. I've debated back and forth on that one, because it's well-known that the included lens is not a very good lens, so most people replace it very quickly. On the other hand, it's a different type of lens than the 50mm--a zoom lens as opposed to a "prime" lens--and to buy an "acceptable" zoom lens costs a lot more than the extra cost of buying the camera with the included lens (most lenses are in the hundreds of dollars range). So, it might be a "bird in the hand" kind of situation. If I bought the camera with the included lens, it's better than no zoom lens at all.

Still, I think I would take most portraits primarily with the 50mm anyway, and then, if I make some money doing that, I could save up for a nice zoom. The zoom would be more for nature photography, which I know I will also do lots of.

Well, I'll still have to think about what I want to do. One cool thing is that once I do have the camera body, I can try out lenses by renting them for the weekend pretty cheaply. Then I would be very informed about my choice, like I am with the 50mm.

So, if anybody wants portraits done (couple, family, baby belly...) be ready for the day when I get the whole camera!

"For you, very good price...."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The MOM song

For all you soon-to-be and been-there-done-that moms out there....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Garage Sale Report

Last Friday and Saturday were a ton of fun! Waking up before the sun was up, making coffee, setting up, and meeting all kinds of people throughout the day.

The best part was confirming that people are good. We took lots of precautions to make sure that we and our possessions were safe, but we were very suspicious of people taking our garage sale stuff. Sure, it was all going to Goodwill after the sale anyway, but it was the principal of the matter! Four times over the two days, we though that someone had taken something. But, each time we found the item in question, or it turned out they had paid someone else for it. No one stole anything. So that was good.

I got a nice sunburn from the experience. Friends of ours stopped by, which was fun. Margie even stayed and helped pack up on Friday afternoon!

At the end of Saturday, all I had left on my tables was stuff I didn't think would sell anyway. I earned about $100, which is going toward my camera. I only had one person who knew what an enlarger was, and looked around at the photo easels I had. I got really excited, and brought out my price list, ready to deal. It turned out he had three enlargers at home, and couldn't even give them away, which he'd tried. He encouraged me to sell my paper on ebay, but that the rest he didn't have much hope for selling. Dang.

Funny things that happened at the sale:
An old man buys only one thing: a bra.
A man looks at a credit card holder, "Is this wallet just for the ladies?"
Language barrier: a lady says, "I betta move ma coe." Turns out it was her car she was referring to.
Man buys a whole bunch of baskets. As he's paying, I ask him what he plans to do with all those baskets. His answer, "I don't know if you believe in fairies or not, but with all the construction and taking away woodlands, the fairies don't have a place to live any more. So they come into our houses. You know when your toaster doesn't work or your CD is busted? That's because of the fairies! So, my wife uses baskets to make fairy gardens. She puts live dried plants [yes, they're alive and dried at the same time...] in these baskets, puts the first fairy in, and then sells them for people to put in their homes."

Straight, deadpan, serious. This man believes in fairies.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lydia Speak

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

25% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

0% Yankee

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Snippets

I don't really trust ads done by famous actors. I know I should use L'Oreal because Sarah thinks I'm worth it, and women should take Boniva because Sally does. But really. Sally Fields is Oscar-winning for a reason. She's convincing in whatever role she's paid to play. And I doubt Sarah Jessica Parker has ever invited a girlfriend over for help and stuck her head in the tub with a home coloring kit. So I totally don't buy it.

The ghetto-fabulous cat tree got retired a while back (not too long after it was created, actually). Jon wasn't a big fan of having...well, trash...in the house. Anyway, I was cleaning out the garage the other day, and brought it back into commission. Friday, was ecstatic over his "new" toy, and I've been quite smug over my success of reinstating it into the home decor.

Confession: I wrote my Compassion Kid for the first time--maybe second--the other day. I know, it's sad. I've been sponsoring her since I was a freshman in college (our dorm hall sponsored her and a little boy, and I took her sponsorship over the next year). I save all her photos and letters, and her last one asked me if I was still in college, and why I didn't write. So, prompted by guilt from a 15-year-old in Ethiopia, I wrote. I included a recent pic of Jon and I, and one of my doodles. Her birthday's coming up (Dec 13, same as my dad's) so maybe I'll send something else for that. It was cool to send a letter. I have grand ideas that she'll squeal with delight of getting a letter from her wonderful sponsor, and she'll run in the streets waving the letter around, proud to show it to anyone who will look. Then I realize, and I've written her twice in 7 years. Yeah, I'm a real hero. So, maybe she'll just read it and tuck it into a box somewhere, but the more I write her, someday she'll be proud to tell someone about the sponsor who loves her enough to be consistent in her letter-writing--and she'll have a whole box full of letters to share. Still, I can't believe I've wasted 7 years of getting to know her, and I only have three years left before she becomes an adult and no longer needs sponsorship.

For some reason, it doesn't feel like we're nearing the end of the year. But alas, it's fall. My faithful flowers have run their course, though they still manage to eke out enough blooms to make me happy. I've planted irises so they'll be ready to bloom next spring. And, now that fall is here, I've found that I'm not quite ready for summer to leave. This summer was so great, and the weather perfect.

But, I've got a lot to look forward to this fall and winter! Garage sale, camping, biking, the State Fair of Texas, Silver Dollar City, Christmas!! So, I'm glad it's time to move on.

At the end of October, Jon and I are going to try our first biking adventure beyond the normal exercise route. There's a "rails to trails" route from Weatherford to Mineral Wells State park, about 20 miles one way. We'll ride in, eat lunch, then ride back out. It will be leisurely and hopefully the perfect fall weather. Our normal route is 10 miles at an "exercise" pace, so I think 40 spread out over the whole day will be just fine. I'm so excited, and I hope I've earned the money I need for my camera by that time! (And yes, that picture is of me: muscle-y arms, cropped top, long flowing hair and all...okay, maybe it's more representative....)

I've finally decided on sale prices for my photo equipment. It was a struggle to balance the original value with what people will actually pay. We'll see if I'm in the ballpark when the garage sale comes! I really hope I sell it. Partly because it took me awhile to realize I needed to let it go, and for it just to hang around makes it harder for this pack rat to keep trying to get rid of it. And partly because I want the money. :)

Thursday at work I'll be attending an all-day diversity training session. It seems to be a fad in companies lately, and we've had one session already. The first session was to recognize that our mostly female, white, middle-aged group of employees is actually diverse. Now that we've established that, we've all taken personality tests to be explained at the second meeting. I'm pretty sure I know what my personality is, though it's different at work than at home. We'll see how it comes out! And that photo on the left there....it's just as representative of our company as the photo of the biker was of me.

It's quiet here today. The cat's asleep (big surprise), Jon's in class, the a/c is off, and it's just me, working on a work newsletter. I'm trying to spice it up with clipart. I know, I've been working on it for two years and this is the first time I think of it. That's why they pay me the big bucks! Anyway, we have a subscription to clipart.com, which is not great for ads or anything serious, because the images aren't high-enough quality for press printing. However, they're fine for desktop printing, and I've found "Photo Object" to be my favorite search option. This pulls up only photos with clean white backgrounds behind the objects, which helps when I use them for the newsletter or whatever else. For example, a normal search for "peppers" brings up this image:
But, I just want a few of the peppers, so I have to Photoshop out the background, which turns out to be impossible because none of the peppers are shown in their entirety. Without some major time spent Photoshopping in what's missing, this won't work. So I use the "Photo Object" option, and find this photo:
Perfect! I can stick that into my story, and it looks great.

For anyone who has trouble reading the small text on a blog, you can change the text size that you view pages. On an Apple, do this by pressing the apple button and the plus sign at the same time. Decrease it back down by pressing Apple minus, or go back to original with Apple zero. If you're on a PC, press "ctrl +" to increase the size, "ctrl -" to decrease, and "ctrl 0" to go back to original. Thought I'd throw that out that for those grandparents and soon-to-be grandparents reading the blog. :)

Speaking of, I'm going to have a nephew! Yeah, I'm pretty excited. It must be scary and a little intimidating to face parenthood. But aunthood...piece of cake! I've got it made in the shade! I've already learned how to change diapers, give medicine, put to sleep, and give zerbers when distraction is necessary. Oh, and throw rules out the window when his parents aren't around. I'm a pro at being an aunt. :) Now if only I had a camera to take great pictures of the little guy.... Can you tell I'm excited about my camera...and the kid of course!

Well, I think I've rambled enough for one day...this should tide you over while I'm gone getting diversified tomorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why I need Lasik

Today was like any other day.

I turned on the shower water, waited for it to heat up, laid my glasses on the bathroom counter, and stepped into the bathtub.

Standing under the water, I noticed a dark fuzz on the floor of the tub (everything is fuzz without my glasses). Hm, must be towel fuzz. And I flicked some water on it. It dutifully headed to the drain.

Then,

to my horror,

it stopped.

And headed back up the incline. My towel fuzz was scaling the wall of the tub!!

Fearing the unknown (an ant? a spider? a tick? a baby roach?!!) I scrambled out of the tub--no easy task with wet feet on a wet tub. I fumbled with my glasses, cramming them onto my face as quickly as I could.

There was the perpetrator. My "towel fuzz" was a black spider.

Whispering a quick thanks that it wasn't a baby roach, I reached for a cup, filled it up, and sent the spider down into the plumbing.

I spent the rest of my shower humming, "Itsy bitsy spider...."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Switching Allegience and other news

Thursday I got my car washed at Genie Car Wash. I had a coupon. It was pretty cool to watch it go through the long washer, and then have someone dry it and Windex all the windows. However, when it came out of the washer, it was lacking the one token that set it apart from all other little white cars in a parking lot--the Dr Pepper antenna ball that Karen gave me. I asked about it, and a couple of people headed into the tunnel of water and fabric streamers. After a few minutes, one emerged with an antenna ball! I smiled, glad that Princess Buttercup could once again show her drink of choice. But my smile fell when I realized the ball was a smiley face with a Cowboys football helmet on it. Hm...well, it still serves a purpose, so I stuck it on my antenna. I figure I'll fit in around here anyway.

As a side note, I found out that you're supposed to tip the person who Windexes the windows. Thankfully, I noticed a couple of people do it before my car was ready, so I had a chance to get some cash.


In other news, I trimmed my hedge today! It was a major overhaul. The last major overhaul rescued the sidewalk, which was about halfway covered by the monster bush. This time I tackled the height. The bush reached up and beyond the eaves of the house, and it dominated the exterior look. No more. With my trusty electric hedge trimmer and Holly to saw off the bigger branches, the bush is now about 4.5 feet tall. It's a huge difference. We have another bush to be trimmed, but the back of the truck was too full of trimmings to add more from the second bush. Another weekend, perhaps.


Speaking of other weekends, we're having a garage sale coming up pretty soon. Holly and I are putting together a "multi-family" affair. It really has turned out that way as other people have donated to the cause. My mom's stuff came pre-priced, so that was pretty nice. I still feel like I'm not selling enough, because my house is still full of stuff, but then I realize I use all that stuff; I just don't have proper places to put them, so they clutter the house up.


Anyway, I'm hoping I'll make a little money to go towards my camera fund. My point and shoot is on the blink, though I did get it to work today. However, it's not reliable. I was thinking the new digital SLR would serve the purpose of the point and shoot (after all, if I can take better pictures with a better camera, why not do it?). However, there are advantages to having a camera that can fit in my purse. Still, on my trips to and from the office, there are times I wish I had a nice camera and tripod with me, to take some shots. Then again, I'd always be late for work that way.... And if I'm spending that much money on an SLR, why tote a little guy around that doesn't take as good of pictures? It's a conundrum indeed. If we just got the SLR, the money we would spend on a point and shoot would go toward the SLR. If we got both, I'd have a lot further to go toward the camera I want. What are your thoughts?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Veer

Check out veer.com! It has stock photography and fonts, but what I thought was great was the merchandise! Pretty much everything under T-shirts, Apparel, and Accessories made me laugh. If my dad read blogs, he'd really appreciate the merchandise, too. He's the one who got me started, teaching me the differences between serif and sans-serif, em dashes and en dashes, and leading and kerning. So, few others may get it, but Daddy, this is for you!


Monday, September 10, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just call me YiYi.

Yesterday Sophie came to visit. Well, Holly and Grandma were with her, too, but it was Sophie I heard coming up the sidewalk. She was walking behind her pushtoy, something that looked a little like this:

As she rumbled up the sidewalk, I opened the door. Holly said, "She was so excited when she realized we were coming over here. And you have a new name. Yi Yi!" (Pronounced yee-yee, but that takes longer to write.)

Yi Yi! I've always wondered what kids would call me. Lydia is a hard name to say for kids. "L" is impossible, and three syllables can be a lot to ask. I thought maybe Wydia, but then it would degrade down to WeeWee when kids are just learning to talk. Yi Yi was an improvement I had not imagined. I was sorry that I missed hearing Sophie say it!

As the family was leaving, Sophie, leaning on her toy, looked at me with bright eyes and yelled out, "BYE!!" It was the first time I'd heard her say something with such intent; usually "bye" was just a mumbled response to our prodding, or an echo of our attempts to teach her. This was a sure, "Goodbye, we'll play tomorrow!" adios. That girl knew what she was saying, and her voice was so clear and cute! I responded with an elated, "Bye Sophie!" to which she again said, "Bye!!" This went on for a few times until Holly broke it up, coaxing Sophie to barrel back down the sidewalk on the handlebar of her push toy.

I bought her some markers and construction paper. She's coming over this afternoon, and I can't wait to play! Sophie's always been a fun baby, and now that she's one year old, it's even more fun to watch the daily developments: understanding the relationship of keys to doors and shoes to feet, seeing her brush a teddy bear's fur and finding pens and paper from all over the house so she can draw (hence the new markers and paper).

And I'm Yi Yi. Not too far off I'll be Aunt Yi Yi to another bundle of joy (though I'll have to wait a long time for him/her to say it). I think that's just about made my week.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

80s Night!

Grab your leg warmers, stick your cassette tape in your boombox, and press play!



Last Saturday night, our class (girls AND guys, despite the song) had a blast at 80s night, where we donned every colorful piece of clothing in our closet and relived the crazy days of the 80s.

Everyone brought snacks, and someone thought to bring Fruit Roll-Ups. We had 80s music in the background, 80s games, and an 80s movie to end the night: Back to the Future.

Tons of fun! Here are the photos!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fan Innovation

Have you ever had a ceiling fan that made lots of noise, wobbling back and forth, especially when on high? The problem was probably an unbalanced fan. There are many ways to combat an unbalanced fan, but I will tell you what we did.

First, I tested the fan to see if the fan blades were unbalanced (one might be higher than the others, etc). I clipped a clothespin to one fan blade at a time, turned the fan on high, and watched for changes. Most times, the fan wobbled even worse. Only on one blade did the wobbling seem to get a little better. So I tried two clothespins on that blade, only to see that it made it worse. Evidently the blades were not the problem.

Next, Jon took the fan down from the ceiling. This isn't the most fun task in the world, and make sure you have someone nearby to hold screws and be of general help. He tightened the metal mounting into the ceiling. It was loose, so we presumed it to be the problem. However, even then, he could still rock the mounting back and forth. Hm...

So, Jon took a couple of small blocks of foam and stuffed them in the areas where the mounting was rocking on the ceiling (picture a see-saw, only upside-down with the ceiling as the ground). That did the trick! Once the fan was reassembled, we cranked it up and enjoyed a much more pleasant sound: air whooshing around the fan blades and onto our faces. No more banging and fear that the entire contraption might fall off and attack me in the night. Hooray!

So, sometimes Google searches are all you need to get the job done; other times, you gotta add in a little ingenuity and innovation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tagged by Teresa

The Rules:
1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog (about their 8 things) and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I like to plan for Christmas. As a matter of fact, my family has already finalized date and location for this Christmas, thanks to the prodding of Yours Truly! My mom is a great planner, so I get that from her. Then it turns out the newest member of our family is a huge Christmas-lover, too, so she and I are already getting excited about Christmas trees and stockings. Jon and I honeymooned over Christmas, and we made a roasted hen, potatoes, green beans, and Jon started the tradition of making monkey bread for breakfast. (That last sentence was just to fill out the paragraph a bit.)

2. I like to sing really loud in the car. I especially like to sing a completely different song/key that what's blasting on the radio. Usually, it's a song I make up myself at the spur of the moment, and it's very bad. This is why I only do this when I'm alone. Jon's heard it once or twice, maybe. That's why I know we'll be together forever. :) Though I don't stay in key or rhyme or even have a tune I stick to, I've found that singing is a good way to talk out my thoughts to God. I guess it feels less awkward to sing alone in a car than speak. Anyway, I'd recommend it.

3. I am Jack of All Trades, Master of None. I love to learn new things. I like to listen to others talk about new subjects. From photography to how to make biodiesel...it's all interesting to me. I want to learn how to play several instruments, and have tried a few. From my natural curiosity about life, I've learned how to do lots of things. However, I've never learned how to do any of them well. Once I've messed with them for awhile, the drudgery of mastering them gets boring and hard, and I stop there. So, I can sew, take photos, float and tape a wall, make crafty things, paint, garden (don't laugh), roof a house, oil squeaky hinges, refinish furniture, hem pants, fly a kite, make cards, play the guitar and French horn (not at the same time), and other various things, but I cannot do any of them well. I might be able to say I can design well, but even then, I never had the most creative projects, or the best out-of-the-box presentation in class. The good thing is I don't work for a rock band or someone who might want that stuff!

4. I've broken both arms (at different times). Once when I was trying to be like my big brother and swing on the monkey bars. It turns out I couldn't reach them, even when I jumped off the top rung of the swingset ladder. My dad gave me a fudgsicle and an ice pack. When my mom got home, she rushed me to the ER. The second time was when I was sweeping the driveway...on rollerskates. Not one of my most brilliant moments. Again to the ER with my mom, where it turned out that a broken bone isn't near the emergency one might think it to be.

5. I have a good smeller. I can identify people/items by their smell. My shining moment was when I identified a mattress at my parents' house as smelling like my grandparents. It turned out they'd owned it years before! I'm amazing. I like to sniff Jon. I think it weirds him out. I try not to sniff other people too much. I sniff Friday, but he sniffs me back, so I don't think he minds.

6. I like to have each item on my plate equal out. So if I have chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes, I eat a bite of each, always making sure I'll end up with one bite of each at the end. When I get to that last bite, I then eat them from least favorite to most (chicken, potatoes, then green beans) so the best flavor is the one I'm left with. However, I don't combine food (chicken with a bit of potatoes) in one bite. That gross. Unless, of course, it's Mexican food.

7. I'm so competitive I don't like to compete. Many of you may think I'm the least competitive person you know, but it's not really true. I'm actually very competitive, which is why I'd rather play without rules and have fun, than lose. Or than get my feelers hurt in the process of winning (or worse, hurt someone else's feelers!). Usually, I don't win anyway, and then I'm mad. So, it's much better to just see how long we can keep the ball moving in racquetball or bash into the other cars for laughs in the race car video game. Who needs the score? The point is to have fun!

8. When I was a kid, I drew a detailed diagram of a Cat Room where all my cats would live. There were water fountains, toys galore and self-feeding areas. There was a special section (separated by vacuum-sealed doors) for a litter room. Since then, I've come to realize that having one cat is nice, but they're too demanding to have lots! In the more recent past, I've discussed the best way to lay out an animal shelter with Leanna and designed the perfect cat tree, so I haven't changed too much.

People I'm tagging: Leanna, Hillary (moving across the world is no excuse!), Jill, my mom, and KarenN.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Logo

Our church is going to be putting an emphasis on service this fall; we have several projects and trips going on that are related to service. To help spread the word and get people involved, the Design Team (of which I'm a part, and Margie is, too--Hi Margie!!) was charged with making a logo. The theme is "FallOut'07--This fall, we're reaching out."

Logo ideas don't always come very easily to me, but this one did. So, I worked it up in Illustrator and sent it on. Surprisingly, there were no edits to the logo I'd sent around, and everyone seemed to like it. So, my logo will be on all the stuff for this fall's emphasis! Crazy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Leanna's Hair color

I'm a visual person (and like to mess with Photoshop), so here's the visuals of Leanna's color possibilities. Let her know which one you like best by posting on her blog or right here! Oh, and I picked these colors, not her, so she may like a variant of each of these, but it will give people an idea, anyway. I had the hardest time with the red/strawberry blonde. The others blended pretty well.

Here's Leanna natural (with her great new haircut!):

And here are other options:
Bleach Blonde:


Blonde:


Brunette:


Dark Brunette:


Red:


Strawberry Blonde:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Welcome to the Blogger World

Everyone give a friendly hello to my friend and roomie Hillary! She's joined the Blogger ranks so we can keep up with her in her travels, newly-wed life, and whatever else she feels like talking about. She's lucky I'm not on my home computer; otherwise I could dig up some funny photos to add to this post....

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Scammed

Alternate Titles:
Ticked off
Letdown of the day
Lydia is Mean to Pseudo-Manager Peter
If it seems too good to be true...

So I've been saving money for a digital SLR camera. I like doing research, and I was looking around today and came across two websites that sell the camera I've been looking at for a really great price. I was really excited, and couldn't believe the price. I called both companies and asked them what was included in the cost. They both said "the camera body only." Okay, that's fine, and that must be why the price is so low. So, I checked around on eBay and found the battery and other things that weren't included for pretty good prices, and decided this would be a good way to go. So, I picked one of the sites and placed my order.

Twenty minutes later, I got an e-mail telling me to call the company and speak to Peter regarding my order. I call, get Peter, and he just needs the security code on the back of my credit card. (Odd, why didn't they ask me for that in the form I had to fill out?) I give him the code, and he says, "By the way, I'm wondering why you got the body only instead of the package?" I explain I was going to get the battery and other items cheaper elsewhere, because I knew they didn't have to be Canon brand.

He says, "You can't beat the prices we have, and you have to buy Canon brand to get the chip that translates the menus from Chinese to English."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!

"My camera is in Chinese??" I ask him.

"Yeah, for a price like that....the USA package is $400 more. You have to make sure it says USA next to it on the website."

"Why would I assume it wasn't English?"

"Well, the price...."

"I'd like to cancel my order."

"Sure, I'll cancel it for you. That'll be a 7% restocking fee."

"But I just made the order 20 minutes ago."

"I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do. That's our policy."

So, I hang up, on the verge of tears because I'm so disappointed. And ticked off. I go to the website to find the fabled USA label. I look on the camera I ordered, and there was nothing there to say it was in Chinese, not even an option to buy the USA package. (There was an option to "See Similar Packages" which I had clicked on before ordering, and it just took me to more Chinese cameras.) I do another search for the camera, trying to find any of them that said they were in English. Nothing. It's dawning on me that this whole thing (the suspicious call for my security number...) is a scam to make a quick $20 off people looking for a deal.

Meanwhile, Holly got online, so I told her what happened. Being a much more assertive person that I am, she insisted I needed to call them back and demand they take the restocking fee off my card. So, for the first time in my life, I called to complain. I called Peter back, and asked to speak to the manager. He very quickly told me he was a manager. I know from speaking to friends of mine that everyone says they're a manager, but what could I do?

Long story short, I explained to Peter the Pseudo-Manager in no uncertain terms that I thought they were pulling a scam and I refused to pay the restocking fee. He explained to me that I was being very unreasonable, was choosing to see the situation from a glass-half-empty perspective, and that he was simply offering a great deal on a camera.

Yeah, a Chinese camera! How am I supposed to even find the English cameras? Well, it turns out, you have to enter USA into the search bar. Seriously.

I again said, that's all well and good, but I'm not paying the restocking fee. I didn't care that there was a policy about cancellation, because the company had already broken their side of any agreement by not fully disclosing the details of their products.

He put me on hold.

Two minutes later, he picks back up and says, "Is there anything else I can do for you?" in a too-sweet voice. I ask him if he took off the fee, and he said, no, that was policy, and he couldn't take it off. After a few minutes more of conversation, he hangs up on me, refusing to transfer me to a manager or anyone else. "Call back tomorrow" he says.

Argh.

I go back to Holly, my online coach, who says, "Call back! Don't talk to him, but ask to speak to a manager."

So I do. I get transferred to JJ. I tell him the situation, and he puts me on hold. I can feel my blood pressure start to rise in readiness for the second uncomfortable call of the day. He gets back on and says, "Okay, there's no charge."

"What? I don't have to pay the fee?"

"No." (They don't teach manners, evidently. "No ma'am, sorry for the inconvenience...")

"Okay, thank you." and that was it.

But be sure I'll be checking my bank account the next few days to make sure I don't get charged.

I realize that the "too good to be true" price should have been a warning sign for me, but I also did my research (as best I could), and two sites with similar pricing helped me think it was legit. Phonecalls to both prior to ordering would have been a good time for someone to tell me what I was really looking at, as well.

Also, even after knowing the camera was in Chinese, I couldn't find a single mention of it, or an extra acronym tagged onto the product number, or anything that could suggest I was buying something other than an English-language camera.

Seriously, even their name is deceiving: USA Photo Nation! What a scam.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New Things (Random Post)

Last week, I got the latest and greatest design tool, Adobe CS3, which has everything I'll ever need...at least until the next upgrade. I put it on my computer yesterday, but I can't bring myself to uninstall the CS2 programs. For some reason I'm afraid CS3 will be full of bugs or something. CS3 includes Dreamweaver, the gold standard of web developing programs. Dreamweaver used to be owned by Macromedia, which Adobe bought last year. So now Adobe has Dreamweaver. Adobe's web program, GoLive, is no longer available. GoLive is what I learned and used for my own website and anything I've done so far on the work website. I'm not very good at web stuff in the first place, and the learning curve just got a whole lot steeper! I'm going to have to find a Dreamweaver class pretty soon, or I'll be lost.


This past weekend, I got to play with my mom's new iPhone. It's pretty neat! Some people bristle at all the hype, but you gotta admit, it's a well-thought-out phone. Things like seeing all your voice messages, and being able to pick which one to listen to (and fast forward and rewind) is brilliant. Also, simple changes like having a button on the phone to record your voice mail greeting solve the pain-in-the-neck problem of punching through options to finally get to record what you want. ("Press 1 if you would like to....") And then, beyond the phone functionality, the rest is pretty cool, too: iPod (of course), camera, widgets, internet. Everything carries the signature simple brilliance of Apple design. I only had a couple of problems: 1) you can't pick a song on your iPod for a phone ringtone. What's up with that?? and 2) there was one design element I thought should have been different, and I was really surprised it looked the way it did.

Last night we had some friends over for burgers, so we bought some flowers for the occasion. This huge vaseful of flowers was only $4.50! And I set some aside for the table arrangement:


Along with burgers, we served Caramel Frappuccinos, a new concoction Jon put together. We froze coffee in ice cubes, then added about a pint of cream (yep, whole whipping cream...yum...), and some caramel in the blender with the coffee ice. Top with with RediWhip, and you've got a good thing going!

We had some cream left over, so I did something I've wanted to do for a long time...made butter! Do you remember making butter in class? I was in 1st grade maybe, and I remember passing a jar filled with cream along the rows of desks. We each got to shake the jar a few times, and then we had to pass it. That was so fun! So, I made butter last night, and used it on my waffles this morning. :)

I found that the best way to shake cream to make butter is while playing Dance Dance Revolution!! Yep, Jon got the XBox fixed that Cliff gave him, and we headed to GameStop yesterday for some used games. I came home with DDR, something called Corvette (how could I pass it up??), and a racing game. Since the controllers are still in the mail, we couldn't play anything but DDR, since it uses a separate dance pad as a controller. I totally stunk it up, but it's still fun. And it passed the 20 minutes of shake time I had for making butter!

In other news, I have my curtains up! Leanna and I have hemmed two of the panels, but the two shown here aren't hemmed, yet. I love the new colors in the house! I've also added a new welcome mat in the entryway, which Friday promptly claimed as his own:

So, that's pretty much a recap of what's happened lately. It's been a busy week! But I'm so thankful for the blessing I have: a good job, family, friends, and a home that makes me happy.