And I don’t want to miss a thing

I found a keyboard for my iPad mini! Have you ever tried to type with the screen’s keyboard??? It’s awful. Laptop blogging = hot lap. Desktop computer blogging = audience walking up behind you.

Anyway, how have you been? I live and work full time in Playa del Rey now. I’ve lived here for 5 1/2 years already. It’s a great little town. I live a 15 minute walk from the ocean. Or a 90 minute jog. I like to take a lot of long breaks when I jog. Last month I tried jogging while holding my latte, and I don’t recommend that. Make it an espresso, then slam it like they do in Italy, and be very noisy about it, and then go jogging.

The beach here is great. It meets up with the Ballona Creek and Ballona Wetlands, so there’s so much more to explore than just just a regular beach. There are 3 Jettys right next to each other, and a breakwater. One is really long and is quite a hike out to the end, but worth it because you can watch the boats go by as they’re coming in.  I usually end up seeing wildlife out there too. The wetlands fill with wildflowers in the spring, including tall, beautiful mustard flowers.

I like living with Tim. He’s pretty fun. It’s harder to write when you’re having fun. Time goes by pretty fast. I am not one to say I wish I’d stop and smell the flowers, because I do that all the time. But I miss writing too.

Here’s a pic from last night at the beach. We spent the evening down at Dockweiler and a great big flock of Pelicans flew by right before sunset.

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How I made my own wedding dress


Making my own wedding dress was one of the largest projects I have ever taken on, and though I wasn’t keeping track, I think I put in easily 150 hours, if not more. The big plus of it all was not having to compromise. I got the exact dress I wanted, and I spent less than $200.  This includes making my own dress form.  I’m writing a blog about it because there didn’t seem to be much out there on the internets about making your own dress.  Or at least not an intricate one.  If you arrived at this blog because you Googled “Make your own wedding dress” and you’re thinking of making a complicated wedding dress, I highly recommend that you only try it if you have many years of sewing experience and have taken tailoring classes.  And even then, you might want to consider just getting a part time job and using that money to have someone else make a dress for you so you don’t go crazyyyyy.

Still, how fun to have so much control one the look of one’s own dress!

This isn’t intended as a tutorial, but it might answer some questions about working with circular ruffles, creating a bodice, an overlapping texture, or how to approach a huge project (hint: steal a 12 year-old’s ADD meds.  Just kidding.  Quit drinking coffee and then start up again on the days you need to work on your dress).

The first challenge was to pick out the dress I wanted to base it on. I looked through a ton of dresses online and in magazines, but I kept going back to my first choice, which was Demi Moore’s dress from the 2010 Academy Awards, selected from the Atelier Versace Spring 2008 line.

My wedding was in a meadow, so I had to make a dress that was a little bit shorter than this one, or one that had a detachable part.

My next challenge was to get a usable dress form.  I ended up making one out of duct tape using one of the many tutorials on YouTube.  So far, it looks exactly like Demi’s dress!

While it was sitting around in my living room, I put a thrift-store wedding dress on it.  Then when I wasn’t home, my fiancé put a Stormtrooper helmet on it.  It’s really scary to get up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water and forget this is in your living room.  It looks a lot like a ghost in dim light.

In hindsight, I’m glad I did the dress form this way.  First, I saved money.  Second, even though the addition of the layers made the form a little bigger than my body, it was close enough to my shape that I was able to sculpt the dress onto it and custom make a dress to my exact contours.  Also, since the texture of the duct tape was so much different than the fabric, I was able to hand sew parts of the dress while it was on the form without accidentally stitching the fabric to the form.

Next, I bought a pattern for a prom dress so that I could use it to make the liner for the top of the dress:

The slant of the dress didn’t matter, because I pinned the skirt liner to it, pretty much ignoring the slant -The skirt does intentionally sit a little higher on the left side of my body where the fabric flower is.

Next, I made a basic skirt liner, following the pattern of a basic, boring ordinary skirt from my closet.  This was my first attempt, but I ended up making a slightly longer one.

Then I went to the fabric district in downtown LA and, over the course of 2 visits, I walked around feeling fabric until I found exactly the texture, color, look and weight that I wanted.  This turned out to be a crepe satin.  Then I bought ten yards of it, plus 3 yards of sparkly white Organza.  I used up every last bit of that ten yards, too.  To make the ruffles, I made a donut-shaped pattern out of the tissue paper you use to wrap gifts.  The middle was about 4.5″ in diameter, and the thickness of the ring was about 7″.  Once I started handling the fabric, I would start off every sewing session by washing my hands and then putting ‘Gloves in a bottle’ on my hands.  I can’t even feel that it’s there, and it puts a covering over my skin that keeps the oils in my fingers from getting on the dress and discoloring it over time with all the handling.  It kept the fabric sparkling-white and also qualified me for a spot in Neurotic Bride magazine.

These donut shapes got cut out and then slit down the middle and sewn to each other.  Each layer of ruffles took around 2 and a half donuts.

I also had to painstakingly hem each ruffle.  If you haven’t already, this would be a good time to develop a relationship with methamphetamines, because this part goes on FOREVER.  Just head on out to Elsinore or San Bernardino and start asking around.  Just kidding: espresso, and lots.  Seriously, put on a good movie, or a book on tape, and just settle in.  I gave this about 3 hours a day, almost every day, for several weeks.  I even took it to the beach with me.

I sewed each ruffle to the skirt, gradually higher at the point where the “Slit” was going to be.  This was never a slit, I just tacked the dress way up at the side of my left leg.  

The ruffles were about 4 inches apart, and I marked out the location of each one by drawing a line around the skirt with a blue fabric pencil.  I had to make an approximate length ruffle, then pin the ruffle to itself to close the circle, then pin it to the dress, then mark where it should meet, take it back off, sew it together, hem it, and sew it to the dress.  You think that sounds hard?  The last 3 rows were progressively longer, yet the same length in front as the upper ruffles, so a gradual change in length on each side as it went towards the back, and at that point I had to start using algebra.  Yeah, the thing from high school that I thought I’d never use.  I had to base each cut on the previous cut, and I ended up using that equation where you figure out the height of the building based on the shadow of the tree next to it and then I went crazy.  I had to set the dress aside several times and just let my brain get back to me on it.  Sometimes creative problems have to be solved that way.  You try and you try, and then you sleep on it and you wake up in the morning with a solution, or at least a plan that you can try out.  My sister Lisa did explain to me that this couture dress I was copying was carefully hand sewn by experts, who have time, experience and resources (and grunt-workers).  They probably made entire dresses and then scrapped them and started over, before getting the ones they wanted.  She was never skeptical about my ability to make it, because she’s seen some of the crazy tedious projects I’ve taken on, but she want me to understand that it was a ha-yuuuuge project.  I did start it far enough in advance of the wedding that I could switch to a plan B if the dress was turning out awful.  Plan B: any white dress from Forever 21.

SO, the next thing I needed to do was texture the bodice.  This is where the organza came in.  I cut this on the diagonal because this is non-stretch fabric, and I needed it to have a very slight stretch in order for it to hug the dress form as it came around the sides.  Lisa said this is called ‘cutting on the bias”.  I made several strips of the Crepe Satin and Organza at about 18 inches long, 4 inches wide -just long enough to extend past the edges of both sides when it’s on a 30 degree angle.  Each strip was ironed right before it was used, and then folded in half.  I did a few test runs to make sure the fabric was going to look right:

After the test run, I decided I should make longer strips so that they reached each side.  I then took it back apart, pinned the front liner of the bodice to the dress form and hand sewed the bodice liner to the skirt of the dress, keeping the side seams open so that they could be sewn together after the texturing was applied.  Meaning: the front of the dress was not sewn to the back of the dress until way later.  I Then started layering the bodice.  I had to start over a few times, because I really wanted to lay down the two different fabrics in a random order, and that proves to be challenging after a while.  Some pattern always starts to develop, and any repeats in the layering order started to make it look factory made and prom-dressy.  I had to hand sew each strip, one strip at a time, putting the stitch as high up as possible so that it would always be hidden.

This process took another couple of days 😦  But at least I could start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!  I repeated the process with the back of the dress.

When I’d made all the adjustments and was ready to sew the sides together, I took the whole thing to my sisters’ houses.  First my sister Asia helped me make sure all the pieces were sewn down and weren’t going to move.  Then we added a layer of crepe satin to the bustier, so that if the top of the dress was going to be at all see-through (and it was) then all that would show through was more white satin.

After that, I took the whole thing to my other sister, Lisa’s, house.  I was afraid to sew it together inside out because the organza and crepe folds on the bust might become askew in the process.  I was stumped.  Lisa, who has been sewing her whole life and also took tailoring classes, explained to me how important basting is.  so we ran some basting stitches down each side before sewing them together.  The zipper was added to the side that would have the rosette, and when the zipper was sewn down tight, we took out the basting.  This took 3 whole days and many bloody fingertips.  Lisa put her life on hold for 3 days and just sewed with me.  Note: when you prick your finger, stop and walk away.  It’s a white dress and you don’t want a disaster on your hands.

The final part was creating a rosette out of the top ruffle just over my left hip, and then tacking the top part of the ruffles so that they didn’t just look like tiers of curtains on top of each other.  We put the dress back on the form to do this.

And….. done!  I was lucky enough to have Steph at Stephfowlerphotography.com as my wedding photographer.  She’s an amazing photographer and has also been one of my closest friends since we were fifteen, so I am double lucky.  But more about that on my wedding post.

My brother’s girlfriend, Melissa, took some great Instagram pics that day, too, so they will be sprinkled throughout my wedding album.

I’ll be back soon with my wedding post!

California Adventure

I bought a friggin annual pass to Disneyland!! My people and I went last week, and it was awesome. It turns out the Tower of Terror is too short of a ride for me to get motion sickness on. Star Tours, not so much. But since I have a pass, I might just do another visit after taking some of my prescription strength motion-sickness meds. I will be listless and apathetic, but I at least I will not barf on anyone.
It was crazy overcast yesterday when we got there, and I took this pic of the submarine ride which I think aptly conveys the gloomy weather.

It was way too gloomy for D-Land, so I fixed it on my Photoshop app. I’m recalibrating my memory to match the updated version:

This is my favorite sign in a long time:

Speaking of children at the happiest place on earth, we passed a guy who was screaming at his little girl from a distance of about two inches from her face. I can only guess her age, but she was in a stroller. She was either four or a small five, and she was already crying. The dad was pushing her stroller on its two back wheels, and just as we were passing them, he dropped the stroller, causing her crying to get louder, and he came around and screamed at her in a barking style, I guess trying to shock her into shutting up. We were all too surprised to stop or say anything. This is what cell phones and threats of putting people on YouTube are for. For the rest of the day, I appreciated the parents who were showing patience and maturity while their little ones had tear-soaked meltdowns. Because, what else can you do? Join in?
It really was a good day to be there. Summer’s over, and the marine layer let up after a few hours giving us a few good hot hours to ride the wet rides and then dry off. I don’t remember anything being such a foodfest. We ate our way across the park. I mean, part of it is the constant presence of vendors, but I’m sure we were burning calories at a faster rate that we could consume them. I can see why they make it so easy to get a passport, because they make plenty of money off of people just being inside the park and having their wallets with them. I bought a little Mad Hatter hat, too, which I think in some schools of thought (mine) obligates me to throw a tea party.
California Adventure Park is pretty cool. It’s got little nods to California everywhere, like vineyards, the Grizzly river run (The Sierras?) some bay area references, an amazing IMAX-style airplane ride, Hollywood Tower of Terror which, pleasantly, is an homage to old Hollywood and not today’s. My friend said there used to be a Golden Gate Bridge when you first walk in, and I don’t know why you’d want to take that away. They are replacing it with Missions, which I guess means exploiting the natives, so I can see why it fits. It’s a rich, proud history.
Real California, fake California, I love California. I love Disneyland too, and I love spending time with my family.

Backpacking in the High Sierras

My mom invited me to go on a backpacking trip with her, and I jumped at the chance, but I was also a little afraid because I’ve never backpacked for more than one night. My fear of the unknown kept making me look for excuses not to go, and I had to remind myself that I will get to spend some quality travel time with my parents and also see parts of California that I would never otherwise get to see. So I got a backpack and a checklist and realized that I am savagely unprepared yet to hike with the pros. I borrowed a sleeping bag from Tim, with the assurance that he’s used it to sleep in the snow. Later I learned that you shouldn’t take a sleeping bag recommended by someone who never sleeps with more than a thin comforter. I borrowed my sister-in-law, Jeannie’s, hiking pants and a trekking pole, and borrowed another pole from my parents. I’m SO glad I had trekking poles. The pants were cool, too, because you can unzip and remove the bottom half of them and you don’t even have to remove your shoes. I also had a lot of good REI freeze-dried meals in my earthquake kit, as well as a nice collection of energy bars.
There were five of us: Mom, Dad, my two new friends Rob and Joan, and myself. Rob and Joan are a couple that my parents have been going camping with for several years now. We went to Big Whitney Meadows, Rocky Basin Lakes, The Siberian Outpost, and a section of the Pacific Crest Trail.
This was the view of the trail from the visitors’ center, where we stopped to get our back country passes:

We started at 3:00 on Monday. I was wearing a 28 pound backpack, and it was only that light because my parents were carrying the stove and more than their share of the food. I borrowed a tent from Rob that was extremely light. I don’t know how people did it in the early days of backpacking, because they didn’t have super light tent stakes and luxury designs on the backpacks. The pack is built to allow airflow between it and my body! You can also put a camel pack in that area, which then stays cool for a long time, keeping your back cool. In spite of this, my back was hurting immediately. I think I spent the first several hours staring at the feet of the hiker in front of me, just trudging forward and afraid that I was in for a world of pain. We had our first break about an hour in, and I though, I can do this, as long as we stop this often.

Early on in the hike I discovered I had Elton John’s “Don’t Go Breakin My Heart” stuck in my head. We must have heard it in town when we were having our last lunch at Subway.
The first day had us trekking up switchbacks and gaining 1200 feet in one day. My feet weren’t that sore, but my calves were burning. Think: taking the stairs for 2 straight hours, with an occasional 10 min break, and a heap of cross-country walking thrown in. Later in the trip I learned that I actually do better on uphill than on cross-country. I have no idea why this is the case. Whenever we were in level terrain, I would eventually start lagging behind everybody.
The first campsite was alongside the trail. Thinking about it right now, I kind of miss it. We set up next to a little stream that made a soothing sound all night long. My Mom, Dad and I had Miso soup and then a noodle soup with Tuna, and I had to put them under the mosquito mesh to eat them, so I looked like a desperate hobo who was afraid of getting his food stolen. Thank God for the tent! I mean thank Rob. Everything was great about the site except for the mosquitoes.
It was during this first night that I discovered that my sleeping bag was desperately inadequate. You know how you can get comfortable and then you don’t want to get up for anything, even when you know you have to, like if your bladder is too full? I woke up comfortable but cold and had to sit up and readjust things every 1 or two hours, pulling a new piece of clothing out of my pillow and putting it on my body.

The cold was rudely pushing into my bones while I lay there and shivered and couldn’t find a comfortable position. Also, that Elton John song just kept blasting in my head whenever I’d wake up.
This first night of little sleep also gave me an opportunity to lay in bed thinking about the fact that I was sleeping in a tent in bear country. Every now and then I’d lift the covers off my head and lay there listening for bears. This fear had lessened the second night, and so on, which led me to wonder how many days it would take until I passed out in my tent with a fragrant peanut butter sandwich hanging out of my mouth, or maybe I might fish for dinner and leave the leftovers next to me in the tent.
The next day we got on the trail at around 9. My calves were incredibly sore, and I was dirty, but I do love waking up in a tent, and I love walking through the woods and coming out into a beautiful meadow. At that elevation, the grass is pretty and green, and there are little flowers sprinkled everywhere. There were streams that meandered through the meadow that we had to find our way across. On the second crossing I managed to jump over the creek, but felt like I tore my calf muscle in the process. I was limping after that, and was so afraid that I was going to ruin everybody’s trip by having a big injury, or would have to turn around and hike out. I just resigned myself to walk slowly and not limp. Also, I think my calf muscles are pretty tough. If it was any other muscle in my body, I wouldn’t have as much faith in it healing so fast.

We crossed that big giant meadow and then gained another 400 feet in elevation, mostly switchbacks. I was only able to keep up with the others when we were hiking uphill. I don’t know why that was the case. I stretched out my calf muscle, too, and it was actually feeling better when we got to the next camp. Somewhere along the way I got the theme song to Growing Pains stuck in my head, too. Each of the two songs would take turns dominating my brain.
We set up for two days next to a small lake that was nicely nestled into the mountains. My mom and I jumped into the lake and got clean. It felt so good to jump into that pretty lake.

The first night by the lake was pizza night (!!). It was delicious. We used fresh pita bread from the Greek vendor at Farmer’s Market, and there was pepperoni, roasted cashews, a Parmesan-herb mix, pepper jack cheese, dehydrated mushrooms and olive oil. It was delicious and we were beyond full.

Day 3: I woke up fully refreshed after a good night sleep, grateful to camp among lakes and pretty scenery, and also felt like I could forgive Growing Pains for having such a bad theme song. We spent the day day-hiking around 4 beautiful lakes.

The trees up there look like Bristlecone Pines, but taller and just a little less gnarled. Their trunks are a beautiful blonde. Everywhere we went, these pretty trees had pushed their way out of the ground between huge granite rocks, sometimes their roots are still holding onto boulders after they’ve tipped over. The rocks are still gripped by their roots, held up in the air now and waiting for the tree to rot so the rock can tumble back down to the ground.

Every tenth tree seemed like it was violently split open by lightning, cracked open and charred black all along the insides of the split.
On the evening of Day 3, I had an interesting find. Rob and Joan had retired to the tent and my mom and Dad and I were walking through the trees about 30 feet or so from the trail, and I found a camera on the ground, in a black case. I think it caught my eye because it looked like my dad’s, which was usually hanging from his neck. It was an almost new Canon Elph, and it started right up. We started looking through the pics, and the last time stamp was from 3 weeks earlier. There were some beautiful pics from India in the beginning of the memory card, and the recent pics were from what looked like a full backpacking trip. I think they were headed in the direction we came from, since they’d already been to the upper lakes and the Siberian Basin. I spent an hour looking at the pics after I’d gone to bed, searching the photographs for some kind of personal information so I could track down the owner.

There were over 2000 pics, and they appeared to have done a huge amount of traveling in the last 2 years.
In the morning, it turned out that Rob and Joan recognized some of the people in the photos. So it wasn’t going to be hard at all to track down the owner, and Joan might even have their e-mail address. And then it wasn’t until later that morning that I realized I should use the camera, since there’s plenty of room on the card and the battery was doing well. In fact, it would have lasted fine if I hadn’t been sitting up late the night before draining it.
Folks, the brain doesn’t work that well at that altitude.
So I photographed my way across the Siberian Outpost, plus a nice side hike that took us to a high plateau for lunch.

I also took a cue from the owner of the camera and took a few photos through the binoculars.

We took an S-shaped hike along what we could have done in a straight line with minor altitude changes. This was not clear at all from the beginning, but totally clear from the other side. We hiked fairly close to the stream all day, occasionally walking on the sandy parts that were sprinkled with pretty purple flowers. At the end of the day the purple-pink flowers all across the Siberian outpost (or meadow?) were lit up for just a little while with the setting sun.
This was also that time of day that my mom would say, “Hey, you want some chocolate?”
I don’t know how I’m going to ever be able to go backpacking without my mommy and daddy. She also fixed a nice warm soup every evening before dinner, just as it was starting to get cold. Dad worked tirelessly at pumping water through the filter for all 3 of us every day, and carried a huge load on his back, including the bear-proof container.
It was a beautiful sunset over the meadow, lighting up those blonde tree trunks.


We spend our 4th, and what turned out to be our last, night in lightly forested foothills where deer seemed to have been everywhere. We also had a marmot hanging around in the distance, peeping over at us like a little prairie dog. If there were a bear story in this trip, it would have taken place on this night. However, there wasn’t, because you see, we were lucky. Also we were very diligent about the bear canisters. So luck, bear canisters, and bears’ healthy fears of humans.

Likely bear dookie. Definitely a carnivore. And fresh. Note the small quantity. A hungry bear? A baby bear?


The next morning we got out bright and early and got on the Pacific Crest Trail, which by then was 2/5 of a mile away. Our goal was to get to Cottonwood Pass and hike just a little longer, then find a nice place to camp before finishing the last few miles in the morning.
The Pacific Crest Trail is beautiful!

You definitely feel how populated it is, by passing people every hour or two. But it’s beautifully maintained, and makes a person want to just follow it forever. We kept getting glimpses of the meadow we had just hiked in, and the one we hiked across on day two.

Here is a pic of the Siberian Outpost from both sides, with the red arrow indicating where the other picture was taken:

It was a nice way to round out the hike. We also started being able to see thunderclouds and rain in the distance. It was one of those tidy little Adams Family rainclouds that was just hitting one spot really hard.

We got a few drops and contemplated putting our rain gear on, but then decided to just put it in the tops of our packs so it would be handy. We trudged along, ready to get ready for any change in the weather. I also sort of desperately tried to get a Paul Simon song stuck in my head, just for a change of pace. It worked, a little.
Then, as we rounded the crest into a pretty view of Chicken Springs Lake, we started getting bigger drops.

We stopped for lunch near a couple that was gearing up for rain with their 18 month old in a backpack, and we finally decided to gear up. My dad has a very efficient pair of rain chaps. I put my rain coat on, a pair of windbreaker pants, and put a Glad bag over my backpack. I don’t recommend that.
We stopped taking pics at this point and started jamming, to get off the crest. Just over the other side of the Cottonwood Pass, the switchbacks started right up. Looking back, this was probably the point in the hike that was going to determine whether we should hike our or consider staying another night. We were practically skipping down the mountain, passing people on their way up who were slowly trudging their way up, and they looked so tired. We were full of energy, but then again, gravity was on our side.
We had a mini-meeting when we were getting towards the bottom of those 1200-foot drop in elevation switchbacks, and decided to go ahead and hike out. We didn’t get rained on much that day, but we just missed a big storm in the Horseshoe Meadows area. The stream had surged, and there were big frothy puddles to walk around.

The last mile seemed to take forever, because I was getting what we call ‘hot feet’ in a way that I hadn’t during any other part of the trip. I kept seeing things through the trees that I swore had to be the parking lot, but they were just big blonde tree trunks, made brighter by being wet.
When we finally did make it to the car, I was actually glad it took us so long. There had been a fierce rain storm, causing rocks and mud to fall onto that incredibly steep mountain pass. The pass with no side rails.
We topped off the afternoon with a huge meal at Mt Whitney Restaurant, and I wondered to myself, how long did it take John Muir to turn right back around and go back into the mountains for more adventures? High Sierras, we’ll see you again soon.
Thank you, Joan, Rob, Mom and Dad for being my guides to such a nice adventure in the Sierras!

The rest of the photos are on Flickr.

Journaling

I don’t like watchng my life whooosh by without doing any blogging about it, or any journal-ing whatsoever. It was easier when I just had a lined notebook to journal in.
Writing isn’t as easy when you’re happy. Art, and I consider writing to be an art, isn’t as easy to produce when you’re not brooding, but it’s definitely harder to write. I don’t feel any urge to dissect why I’m happy, or ponder the universe for meaning. Also I’m not in my angst-filled 20’s that compelled me to write for hours.
But these years will fly by so fast.
So here’s what I’ve been up to, in general:
I’ve been working as a photo retoucher for 7 years now, both full-time and freelance.
I’ve recently started volunteering for Golden Retriever Rescue, well-organized volunteer network that takes in Goldens from both shelters and owner turn-ins. In the years of not having dogs, I’ve forgotten how much I love Goldens and their cuddly personalities. I forgot how I fell in love with the breed when I was ten, and studied the Golden Retriever section of the AKC dog book, and memorized all their standards and what breeds were used to develop the breed of Goldens. It’s all coming back to me when I walk them, and in different dogs you can see their background of Bloodhounds, Labradors, Irish Setters, Chesapeak Bay Retrievers, etc. I am obsessed with tracing the lineage of things, whether it’s language, race, or in this case, breeds. In conversation, it wavers heavily between awkward and boring.
I started teaching myself to bake pastries and artesan bread. Not a good idea in terms of calories, but it’s a great time to be my friend! And yeah, I photograph everything. Except for the pie I made the other day, which Tim and I tore into with such gusto that I only remembered to photograph it after it was cut into. Trust me when I say that this pie crust is to die for.
Truthfully, though, I’ve become so bad of a blogger that I went to Hawaii last month and didn’t post ANY picture on my blog. I took a ton of photos, too!
It also saddens me to let unblogged things go by like the Roger Water’s “The Wall” concert we went to, where I paid attention to Pink Floyd’s music for the first time in my life and realized that they are musical geniuses. This is something everyone else my age and older already knows, but its been playing in the background of my life for so many decades not that it was more of a jingle than anything else, and the nature of being exposed to good music in that way is that you never, ever get to hear it for your first time. That night at Staples Center in downtown LA I heard Roger Waters sing for the first time, and I cried through most of the concert, at the beauty of it. Granted, it was a hormonal day anyway. I also choked back tears when I was standing in line to buy tickets and Rosanna Arquette walked by. No reason for that, other than she’s so pretty in real life.
I don’t think I’ve blogged about any of the Zircon-Wish Circuses, which I deeply love going to and watching them perform their silk areal stunts which and then dancing all night. They keep outdoing themselves with their creativity and physical abilities.
We also got 2 new members of our family when my mom and dad adopted 2 Golden retrievers, Molly and Teddy. These guys are so fun to watch. They are often synchronized, like twins. I could go on about them for hours. Instead, I’ll just share a few pics:








The land of the ice and snow

Happy almost 2011! A significant year, if you think of 2012 as the end of days. Maybe that will be a good way to spend the year. Maybe we should all treat this year as our last, just to switch things up. I promise I will drink more and swear more.
We had a nice holiday with my family in Truckee. It’s been below freezing for most of the time we’ve been here, and I got to experience my first snowstorm. It was close to blizzard conditions, and we were outside for some parts of it. It barely limited our visibility, but was plenty chilly and I felt like I was on Planet Hoth as the white snowflakes whirled around and stuck to my clothes.
We haven’t really been into Christmas in our family these last few years, since it’s a Christian holiday and we’re so not Christians, and there are no kids in the family besides Christian (hey!). Most of the traditions of late December are Pagan traditions anyway, though, and we might as well take advantage of the days off. SO we exchanged a few gifts, and it was Ian and Missy’s turn to get a stocking from me. The stocking buying is my favorite part of the holidays anymore.
We made an awesome sled run off the back porch, and took turns popping the sledding inner tubes that were meant for children. We did some snowshoeing, and a couple of us also made it out snowboarding. We also got some of our annual Jenga games in, and a crushing game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. Tim and I have been learning to bake artisan bread this past year, and earlier this week Tim baked one of the best loaves I’ve seen so far.
This morning I went snowboarding again, and was only reminded that I should either go way more often, or stop going. On my last run, I tried to find a route that was more boarder friendly, because I kept ending up with all of these skiiers. Since when has there been a resurgence of skiing? I took the wrong lift and ended up on the top of the mountain, and the route down was not at all my skill level. I was doing cautious switchbacks the whole way down the hill under the threat of somersaulting my life away. My thighs and knees were on fire, and I was whimpering loudly into my scarf and cursing everything. Tim, however, made sure I had a new pair of super warm mittens with wrist braces underneath. So my hands were nice and cozy warm during my sad ordeal.
We also both bought Camelpaks, since we plan to do some hiking this year. When I got on the lift for my first run, I went to take a drink, quite pleased with myself for planning ahead and taking care of my hydration for the day. That’s when I discovered that the tubes were frozen and completely useless, at least for that morning. Bonus, I got to be that dork walking around with frozen tubes sticking out of my jacket.
We stopped next to Donner Lake on the way back to the cabin and checked out the water. The lake is just on the verge of freezing for the season. It looks glassy all the way across and has these ripples of steam coming off of it. I only brought my little point and shoot, and I wished I could have spent hours down there photographing it with a big camera and a tripod.
Anyway, Happy New Year, friends and Fam!

Yay, it’s that time of year again! No, seriously!

We’re enjoying the season in stride, with most of our shopping done -but not all! We don’t want to slip out of holiday mode. And I can’t keep baking, because I’ll run out of people to help me eat it.
We’re packing for our trip up to the High Sierras, where a couple of heavy snowstorms seem to be awaiting us. Also if all goes well, an igloo. Here’s our tree:

Yes, that’s a framed image of a tank next to the tree. We love Banksy in this house.
But more important than the holidays, have you seen the HotBooth App? Rather than making you fat or old (see Fat Booth or Old Booth), you can add makeup or accessories to your photo. Or a kitten. I’ve been playing with a pic of one of my favorite people, Avegail:

You can only imagine what I did with this photo:

One of our favorite things this season, though, was figuring out how make the Hawaiian Kettle Corn that we had as an appetizer at our current favorite restaurant discovery, the A-frame.

When you get it just right, which only happens if you go to Farmer’s Market and pick up actual kettle corn, it is so delicious, and you can’t stop until your hands are covered with butter and the japanese seaweed seasoning.
So we’re all geared up for a nice holiday season, and I’m sure it will only get better.