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Archive for the ‘Living Juicy’ Category

Living Juicy: Surprise Party!

I must really like throwing parties for people because I realized as I went to add this item to my Living Juicy list that I had thrown a party for someone back in May (a welcome baby party for a new family).  This time, it was a surprise baby shower.  I didn’t plan it alone, or really take the lead on it, but it was at my house.  It was a beautiful evening, the guest of honor opened presents outside and Basil was irritating the entire time, like normal.  With all those people, he just wouldn’t stop with the ball throwing.

Yay for parties!

check out that artsy photo! Thanks Alicia!!

the obligatory belly shot

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My friend and coworker Alicia is an amazing photographer.  She’s not a professional (yes!), but she’s well on her way.  She does family portraits regularly, and is called upon by friends to do engagement sessions frequently.  She even shoots the occasional wedding.  Yeah, so I guess that actually makes her a professional.

A few months back, Alicia was booked to shoot the small wedding of a friend, and at the time we joked that I could ‘second shoot’ for her.  That’s the fancy way of saying I would be her assistant and take some pictures.  Neither of us really knew what to expect except that the bride didn’t want a ton of posed family photos and was pretty laid back (hence, hiring a friend and her awkward ‘assistant’). 

I was super nervous driving to the wedding.  I wore black so I would look like I belonged in the secret club of wedding photographers.  I made sure throughout the event to adjust my camera regularly, so I would look like I knew what I was doing.  I actually shot most of the pictures in honest-to-god manual settings, but then I had to keep looking at them to make sure they were turning out okay.  I stood back a lot while Alicia directed people. 

Here’s what I learned:  It is much harder than I thought.  I always thought wedding photography looked fun and breezy but really it’s hot an sweaty, and you have to take a lot of photos to get a few great ones.  It’s hard to keep up the momentum.  I was so excited at the beginning that I took tons of pictures, but by the end, I was tired and kept thinking, ‘that won’t be a good shot, so I just won’t bother.’  It  is really fun to witness a wedding where everyone is strangers.  It feels like you’re peeking into these lives and on a couple’s most important day, too. 

Here are some of my shots:

rings/flowers

Thanks in two languages

Best prop ever!

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Living Juicy: Hot Yoga

I’ve done bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, before.  It took a lot of courage the first time because I was afraid of not being able to follow along, and more pressingly, passing out like an idiot in a puddle of my own sweat.  Fortunately, a colleague of mine and avid bikram yoga practicer, gave me plenty of tips for my first class.  Nerves quaking, I set up my mat near the door (so I could feel the tiny bit of air), wore as little clothing as possible and no cotton, brought in tons of super cold water, and didn’t overdo it.  Things that are pretty easy room temperature become super crazy hard once the temperature passes 100! 

I didn’t pass out!  Or throw up!  Or do anything else embarrassing!  It was a minor victory and I felt like I had really achieved something in that 90 minues.  At the time, I had purchased a pass to do as much bikram as I could handle for two weeks, so after two weeks and five or six classes, I didn’t go again.  I belong to a gym, prefer to exercise outside sometimes and it was just one more expense I didn’t need. 

Fast forward to last Monday.  A new yoga studio opened up near me (so new they don’t have a website yet!) and a friend decided it would be fun to get a big group together to go to a class.  This studio does vinyasa yoga (lots of repetition, very athletic and fast) but the room is pretty warm.  Not bikram hot but definitely in the 90s. 

I typically don’t do much on weekday evenings (something I’m trying to change), but didn’t want to miss out on a good time so I went. I’m so glad I did!  The class was incredibly challenging and by the end I wasn’t doing anything full-out.  This is fine in yoga since you’re supposed to pay attention to what your body needs, blah, blah, blah, but I always want to do things right and as much as I can.  I am feeling it two days later, mostly in my shoulders. 

I learned two important lessons during my second foray into hot yoga.  First, I really like hot yoga, in whatever form, and I think I’ll continue to go because I feel amazing afterward.  Second, I really should do more fun stuff in the evenings.  And say yes when people are making plans.  Can I get an ‘om’?  Hehe.

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Drew and I took a road trip last weekend to Acadia National Park.  I can’t believe I hadn’t been there before, and definitely deserved the mild looks of disgust from people who found out I was a new visitor and lived only three hours away.  People come from around the world to see these views, people, and I couldn’t haul myself 180 miles up the coast.  I get it, I get it…

One of the major draws of the Park is the incredible hiking.  This time of year (just before high season kicks in) is great because in addition to nice weather, the trails are nearly deserted and people sightings are almost as rare as moose sightings.  The park guide at the information center helped us choose a hike that would ensure good views and wouldn’t take the entire day to complete.  We would summit Dorr Mountain (1200 feet) in just under a mile.  I thought this was a sweet deal, but it turns out, in order to get that high that quick, you pretty much climb steeply uphill…the entire time.  When it gets too steep, the lovely park rangers have supplied, get this, ladders for your convenience. 

My clothes are more appropriate for a BBQ

AFTER deciding to take an easier trail

Drew and I were a little unprepared for this seriously advanced hike.  We were wearing sneakers (and jeans and T-shirts) and carried with us only a camera and a single water bottle.  The few people we saw were decked out with fancy hiking outfits, major boots and CamelBaks.  But we figured we were pretty in shape and how hard could it be, really?   The first time we spotted a ladder, I groaned.  After the third and fourth, I was in a mild panic about our ability to get off the mountain once we made it to the top.  After 25 minutes of flat out climbing and scrambling up crazy stone steps and ladders, we had only reached 0.4 miles.  I guess the time to climb a mile is a little different than walking a mile. 

Scarier than it looks.

We were able to modify our hike just a bit by cutting out the very top of the mountain, but we realized that drastically overestimated our fitness level and underestimated the need for fancy gear.  Or at least multiple water bottles.

P.S. I’ve decided it would be a good goal to visit all the National Parks in the U.S. On our car ride we did a little research and it turns out there are 58, of which I have been to two (Acadia and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky).  I have my work cut out for me.

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Preserving memories is important to lots of people.  Traditionally, this was done through photo albums or home videos.  My grandparents (who have nine kids and lots and lots of grandchildren), for example, had this incredible collection of photo albums.  The collection took up shelves upon shelves in the living room, and in addition to taking up lots of valuable room, their kids would worry about who would get the collection when the time came to divide it up.  Fortunately, one of my uncles digitized the whole set for an anniversary gift, so now all of the families have a set of photo CDs to enjoy. 

My mom has continued with the photo album tradition.  About once a year, she collects all the printed photos from the year in an album with little tags and descriptions of the various events and people.  At last count, we have about 30.  I love going through them when I’m visiting, and they are some of the most prized possessions in my parents’ house. 

I also have a bit of the photo album gene, but now that we’re fully into the realm of digital photography, I rarely print photos anymore.  So, instead, I like to make digital photo books.

One of my favorite software products to use for this is Blurb.  They’re reasonably priced, and there is a lot of flexibility with size/layout/theme.  I recently made a book with pictures of Basil since I hadn’t made one in a while.  Simple, yet effective.

So many layouts to choose from!

Resolution is fantastic.

 P.S. Another great way to use photo books is for vacations, big events, or making a yearly album (i.e. Best Shots of 2010).  They also make amazing gifts.

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Fake Baking

For our weekend BBQ I decided not to do a ton of baking (I briefly considered a layered ‘0’ birthday cake or 2 week birthday cake), but instead to rely on trusty help from the grocery store.

Hello Friends...

And boy, am I glad I did!  The cake mix I bought was so yummy (I could tell that it was from a box…that vague chemical taste was alive and well) and moist and perfectly perfect.  The cookies baked up in the perfect amount of time. 

Doesn't get any easier than this!

Pre-frosting

Couple quick tips the next time you plan on fake baking instead of real baking.  I bought Reduced Sugar frosting.  Big mistake.  The frosting had a weird gooey, sticky consistency (more than normal!) and did not refrigerate or spread well.  When I was applying it, I had to struggle not to rip off the top of the cupcakes.  I ended up getting a second tub of the real stuff the next day which was much more spreadable. 

Second, I took the mini cookies and made mini ice cream sandwiches with some storebought frozen yogurt.  Just let the ice cream sit out for a bit to soften and it’s super easy to assemble these as well!  I didn’t take any pictures of the finished product because I was too busy cleaning the house to bother.  They were so yummy, but kind of a hassle for an outdoor party.  I ended up keeping them in the freezer and bringing out small batches and pretty much forcing them down the throats of our guests before they got all melty. 

Ta-Da!

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Ack!  I really meant to write a cute post on Saturday about how great the weather was and how I was enjoying a day of relaxation.  But, between errands, appointments and sales that I just couldn’t miss (I love you Banana Republic Outlet), I didn’t sit down until after 6pm.  And then I couldn’t bear to open the laptop and instead spent the evening having dinner with friends and watching a documentary. 

Most of the work I was doing on Saturday was in preparation for a BBQ we had on Sunday.  Our friends Sarah and Tim just had a baby and have been cooped up in their house since he was born.  So we decided to have a BBQ/Open House at our house so all of their friends could meet the little guy.  It was a huge success, the baby was content, the weather cooperated and all was well.  People left by 7pm and I was fast asleep by 9.  And we have a fridge full of beer now so that’s fun. 

Here are some pics of the cutie.  I will be posting more about all the food later in the week.  Too tired to continue now:

Cute Baby Ear

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