Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Road Trip's Random Moments

I got myself a library card and checked out Kevin Kubota's book on digital photography before making a six-day road trip across Texas. I was mainly interested in the photo editing sections, and tested his techniques out on a few of the 500 pictures I took. Here's a handful for your viewing pleasure!

Who knew Quick Mask mode would make it so much easier to edit photos?

No retouching needed :-)

Objects in the picture are smaller than they appear.

I just love adjusting curves for the cross-processed look. May not be everyone's cup of tea.

The luckiest photo ever--this was taken with my camera way overhead.

Aren't they too cute?

Huzz doesn't think this picture is that great, but I love the color.

Look who sent me flowers!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Son of a bench

"Bench of a relative" would be a better title, but it's just not quite as catchy.
This sturdy bench has been in my dad's family for a long time. I think. I don't know that anyone actually remembers where this thing came from, but I know it's very important. And, should any family members scroll down and be horrified by what I did to it, just keep in mind that it's been given new life, and is no longer serving as a storage shelf in a garage somewhere.
This bench sat on my parents' front porch for about 13 years. A homeless woman made herself comfortable there one summer afternoon, and I watched my mom welcome her and offer her lunch. I remember deliberately doing my homework on it several evenings in a row, for one of those teenage girl reasons. It was always decorated with a life-sized scarecrow for Halloween, and it may have been the only place we ever strung outdoor Christmas lights. Then, we moved into a different house and the bench never made it out of the garage.

My parents recently moved out of that house, and I decided to give it a new home. And a new look. I originally intended to give it a distressed, peeling paint look, and therefore chose this pretty turquoise. That's not how it turned out, but that's okay.
I sanded it down, which didn't take too long. The last time it was varnished was probably when I was in grade school, and the varnish had mostly worn off. Then I used a white primer spray paint that quickly ran out. The old wood soaked it up so fast! I had to go to Lowe's and buy three more cans.
Here's where I messed up. I should have painted the turquoise outdoor latex paint directly on top of the wood. That way the sand paper could have quickly distressed it. Instead, my primer was too thick and didn't easily come off with the sand paper.

Oh well! Trial and error. After I realized my technique wasn't going to work, I went back and painted a second coat. The whole thing took maybe 2/3 of the quart, so I have plenty for touch-ups.
Isn't it cute?!
My brother's first impression when he saw the color was girly, but thought it was awesome that something old had been refurbished and given new life. Awesome feedback! That's exactly what I hoped to hear.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Enough boys, already!

Almost all of my friends who have had babies in the last couple years have had boys. And there are two more little heartbreakers in gestation right now. (That's just a hunch. But I do secretly hope PJ and CS both have girls.) The class of 2028 is going to have slim pickins when prom season rolls around!

But the more pressing issue at hand – boy gifts aren't nearly as cute as girl gifts. Unless, of course, you make them yourself!
Congrats to Shannon and Dave who just had little Jack. Let's hope he's "little," because these 3-6 month onesies either shrunk in the wash or Gerber thinks real babies are the same size as Cabbage Patch Kids. Good thing I also bought some 18 month ones(ies).
I got the idea for this cute little necktie design on, which sells necktie bibs. We gals made a bunch for sweet little Liam before he was born, and he outgrew them within hours. His poor mom... she has the Incredible Hulk for a son!

The other problem with teenie tiny baby clothes – besides weed-like growth – is that they're barely big enough to fit around the sewing machine. Case in point:
I accidentally sewed the front and back together on this one. And these miniature duds are so delicate that one yank on the bobbin became a hole.

Speaking of bobbins... what a disaster this was! I have no idea why my dumb sewing machine kept doing this. My troubleshooting consisted of yelling, poking, and more yelling. I'm not talking about the tough love kind of yelling. I'm talking good old fashioned verbal abuse. I don't know if this one is ruined too, but the inside still felt soft enough to me, so I'll leave that up to Shannon. I just didn't want another one to go to waste.
And what's the best part of these cute little dress-up clothes?Little baby butt pockets!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bow to Bakerella

I knew these cake pops wouldn't be as easy as Bakerella makes them out to be... but come on. She's MY kind of baker. It's all about the finished product and there is NO reason to make things from scratch that Pillsbury and Betty Crocker have spent years perfecting! The recipe was perfect and the construction of the inside of the cake balls took forever, but was very easy.

Then came time to coat them. I was on a deadline since I was going to be with 30 hungry 16-year-olds that night. I should have known that they wouldn't care what hue I attained with my food coloring, and that would have saved me some time. But the real timing issue I had was with keeping the cake balls cold and the melted chocolate hot. The lumpy ones were from lumpy chocolate. The wrinkly ones were from the cake balls getting too warm and sliding off the sticks, so I had to use my finger to adjust and smooth them. Yeah. Ew. You can also tell that they're being transported in a coffee mug. That was another thing that ate up my time. I didn't have styrofoam ready to go to stick the lollipop sticks in. They kept getting stuck on stuff or sliding up next to each other in the mugs... What a disaster! But my taste testers LOVED them.

I had another day to finish the rest and was more generous with my chocolate, kept it really hot, and kept each cake ball in the freezer until I was ready to dip it. Next time (and yes, there WILL be a next time) I will buy double the dipping chocolate and just go to town to cover up all the lumps and bumps. Oh yeah. Suvey says... DELICIOUS! And the ones that I was able to monogram with black decorator's icing (toothpick style) were so pretty!

Still crazy after all these years

I heard three Paul Simon songs yesterday. What a great day.

Anyway, this blog post is a tribute to my gals whom I got to know exactly 10 years ago in Kerr Hall. MT and I were randomly paired together as roommates and ES was our friend with the undesirable room on the first floor. I kid. But it was kind of to spend your 18th year of life. The 5th floor was just so much more awesomer.
MT hosted us for the weekend, which included a delicious hearty dinner followed by Late Night Speed Scrabble, dessert, an early-morning race at the Cowtwon 5K, coffee, dessert, relaxing, dessert, dinner at an amazing restaurant, dessert, and 5 minutes with a cute little 5-month-old munchkin. Oh yeah, and dessert!Oh, and we tried to take pictures of ourselves. Hm... One of us is taller than the rest.
So thanks, ladies for an awesome weekend. Just wish we could have 10 years' less responsibility so we could spend more than 30 hours together!