Friday, February 29, 2008

And......I'm OFF......

....to Chicago for the weekend. Well, technically, to the office first, and THEN the airport later, and THEN I get to Chicago tonight around 8....but I'm packed! And, with a few minutes to spare too!

I got all my stuff into one small carry on suitcase, including my jacket, AND, I ONLY brought what I'm going to wear. NO overpacking for me on this trip. Hope I brought everything that I needed! Oh well, my philopsphy on that, is that I'll be in the US still, and they take dollars in IL, so I can always buy what I need if I forgot to pack it!

So, I'm out.....

To all my fabulous new blog readers....I'm so glad you're here.....hope you enjoy the ride! :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Procrastinating!!!!

There are so many things that I should be doing right now....most important probably packing for my trip tomorrow....cleaning the house......putting away clean laundry......editing photos from Sunday night......taking out the trash.....did I mention PACKING??

Why is it when I know that I have all the time in the world....well, not ALL the time in the world, but I don't have to leave the house until 1030am tomorrow, with my stuff packed......that it takes me forever to do the simplest thing. BUT, when I have no time at all, I can get things done so quickly? Am I alone in this?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Amazingness.....and a few photos of my own

I'm a little obsessed these days with the sheer genius of so many photographers. I would love to turn in my badge and just explore the wonderful world of it, but I know that I have so much to learn, and unfortunatley for the reaching of my dreams, I'm one of those people that wants to know that I'm really good at something before I try it. So, for now, I'm enjoying learning what my camera, and my eye (I'll take some credit), are capable of doing. I'm signed up to take some classes, which will hopefully help me learn some of the technical things that I lack. I'm reading a LOT....watching, soaking it all in.

I'm definitley having a GREAT time in the meantime "playing photographer". Here are some of my favorite shots that I've taken recently.







Oh...the reason for my post. See how photos can get me all sidetracked? :) I've posted, to the side, links to some of the photographers that I admire, on a daily basis. I need to figure out this whole RSS thing, but in the meantime, I check them all everyday by opening them all up in tabs in Firefox. Love that feature. :) Check them out!!

10 pound babies are the best!!!

Caleb was born just 8 weeks ago at 10 lbs 10 oz....and was already a model right out of the womb, I don't think that he's taken anything less than a stellar picture yet!! I was able to spend some time tonight with Stacy and Lisa, and Caleb. Isn't he just the most adorable baby you've ever seen??!?! He was such a JOY to be around too. I can't wait until he gets a little bit older and realizes what wonderful mommies he has....they are my favorite girls in the world!! :)





I love how in the last picture, you can see how calm they are about parenting. Lisa is taking care of Caleb, while Stacy is hard at work (surfing the net) on her computer in the background.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Book Club at Toni's

We had book club at Toni's tonight. I didn't read a single page of the book because A. I actually bought it a while back, started page 1 and was already bored.....and B. I have been too obsessed with my computer and camera lately to read.

But it's always fun to get together with the book club girls. We catch up, chit chat, talk about the book, and enjoy some good food. Toni made "Pioneer Woman's" Chicken Spaghetti...and it was scrumptious!!! We managed to finish the entire casserole! Go Toni!!



OH!!! After the other girls left, Toni, Kara and I stayed around the hung out for a bit. Kara has two little ones and doesn't really ever get out....so she took advantage of her hall pass. I'd seen this video on Brett's blog and had to share it with the girls. I took video of us watching it, and it is kind of silly and stupid - but I wanted to try the Upload Video thingy! :)


video

A Twist on an Old Favorite - Guest Book!

My friend Renae is getting married in less than a month. I've been helping her with a bunch of her wedding stuff, and been learning a lot while doing that too. I shot some pictures of her and Jeff back in September, kind of an engagement session, with a borrowed SLR camera, and really had no idea what I was doing. She wasn't getting any pictures done like that with their chosen wedding photographer, so I asked her to let me take some. I was helping her create a Save the Date, so we wanted to get some new photos to use on the card.

It was my first time using an SLR, and really my first ever "shoot". I'm so lucky that they are my friends, because it made it a little less nerve wracking. I haven't ever taken any classes, didn't know a thing about light, flash, what poses to tell them to do, etc.....I just had been reading a few photography blogs (post coming up around those) and wanted to try it for myself.

So, we headed downtown to this spot that I'd seen a few weeks earlier that seemed very "Jeff & Renae-ish". We were down near Stubb's and just started walking around. Jeff was such a great sport, even with an outfit change for Nae, and me saying "Well, let's try this.....or how about over here.....um, yeah, that didn't really work out.....how about this?".

The pictures turned out OK to me. They were super happy with them, and knowing that I am my worst critic, I guess was happy with them too. We had a few good ones that we used for the Save the Date and Nae even printed a few for framing.

Well, the other day Nae was trying to decide which picture she wanted to use for her Guest Book idea for her wedding. She was going to print one pic, put a really big matte around it, and have the guests sign that and hang it later in the house. When I was talking to her about it, which one she wanted to use, where she was going to put it in the house, etc.....I kind of already
had another idea in mind that I wanted to run by her. The night before, I'd seen something on one of the blogs that I thought would fit what Nae was trying to accomplish pretty well.

I suggested to her that we might use a bunch of the pictures from the photo shoot, and put them in an album, leave lots of white space, and use that for the guests to sign instead. It would be a coffee table type album, that she would be able to easily display, and she wouldn't have to pick just one picture. She loved the idea....and I had a new project! Woohoo!

So, that night, I went back through the pictures that we took in September. These were the same photos that I was just OK happy with just a few months ago....BUT, something happened. I started to look at them with all new possibilities. After reading blogs and looking at amazing images for so many months, I was able to look at my own photos in a whole new way. I saw things in them that I hadn't seen before and I was so excited about it. I really totally dorked out over this project.

I worked on it while Tara did my hair.....bless her heart being so patient with me and willing to work around me and my computer. :) Renae stopped by too, so she got to see what I had started....loved it, and let me finish it up with the pics that I wanted to put in there.

I worked on it and finished it up after midnight. I tell you, I was too excited to not finish it that night. So.....about 6 hours later, I had the finished album, ready for review. I sent it to Nae and she blessed it and it was ordered. I got the confirmation that it shipped today, so it should be here next week. I can't WAIT to see what it looks like in real life!!

The site I used was www.photoworks.com, but I found another one just this morning that I might try next time, www.mypublisher.com. The new one has a really neat feature of a forum on it's site, so you can read tips from other users.

Anyways.....enough about all of that, here is what the album ended up looking like!!


Monday, February 25, 2008

I HEART Picnik!

I stumbled across this tool a few months back, recommended from www.Photojojo.com, and I freaking LOVE it. It's kind of a Photoshop for Dummies......which is what I am when it comes to that program. One day, I'll learn it, but in the meantime, this is a neat substitute.

Just look at what it can do.....well, let me rephrase that. Just look at what I can do with Picnik!! :) The left is SOOC (straight out of the camera).......the right is a little work with the tools in Picnik.


It's so fun and super easy to use. There is a free version that has limited scope of the tools, but the Premium version is only $25 for the year! That's a steal folks.

So, try it out with some of your favorite photos and enjoy!!! www.picnik.com

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ricky Stein @ Antone's....AWESOME!

My friend Rick's son, Ricky Stein, has been playing music for at least a couple years, and every time he had a show, I wasn't able to make it there. Well, he had a show at Antone's tonight at 8pm, and that worked out great for me to finally see this for myself.

Ricky and his band totally blew me away. They were AMAZING. Ricky's voice is so good, and he sounds like an old soul, and definitley not a 23 year old. His lyrics were the same way. I found myself really listening to the lyrics (when I put down the camera, that is) and was able to really get into his songs....pretty amazing for such a young artist.

Ice Bats WIN!!!




My original plans for Saturday night fell through, so I was open to doing something....anything....and when Toni brought up the idea to go to an Ice Bats game....I was more excited than I probably should have been. I'm always up for doing something different, and I've been wanting to go to a game since I moved to Austin!! So, we called, got some tickets and were off to my first Ice Hockey game.

Turns out that Toni is a pretty big IH fan, which was news to me, so she filled me in on what was going on...all while I was watching the game from behind the lens of my camera. :) I also learned that Toni's dream job is to be the DJ at this kind of event....as in the person that plays the little snippets of music in between the plays....you know, like "CHARGE" and all that jazz!! Interesting.....she was making me laugh commenting on the choices...."Oh yeah, now this is a good song......I would have been playing music throughout the whole break.....why would you play this one, it's so not right!".

We had great seats in the upper deck area, above the goal where the Ice Bats shot twice. Turns out that we were also seated in the "wives section".....although there weren't too many of them there.

It was the Susan G Komen night at the game, so that is why the players are all wearing pink. I think that it made for some great pics. :) The Bats won 3 - 1 over Corpus Christi and get to go to the playoffs now.

We got a pic with "FANG", the mascot, before we left, although, he wasn't looking at the camera for my self portrait.

Fun night and glad I finally got that marked off my list!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

JUMPER!!!


Tonight I saw Jumper with Toni at Alamo. The pizza was fantastic, as per usual, and the movie was good too. I would LOVE to be able to do what the character could do in the movie....look at a place, and then JUMP there. First stop......Greece. If I magically disappear, look for me there because I've figured out how to do it! :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Welcoming Delaney to the Mermis Clan

When I was in Houston this weekend, I was able to spend some time with Corey and her family. She had their second child, Delaney Paige, born on February 8th, just a week earlier...so I got to meet her when she was only 8 days old!

She was SUCH a cutie, and Jake is seriously the cutest almost 2 year old EVER! I don't get to see them as much as I'd like, but I always enjoy spending time with them. Corey and Joshua are great parents, and I know that my "nephew" Jake and new "niece" Delaney are lucky kids to have them.

Of course I brought my camera with me and snapped a few pics. :)





Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Laziness?

So, I was working from home the other day, and I heard a thump at my door. A new phone book was delivered....you already know how much use I get out of and love them...but I digress.....so, I went and picked it up and brought it inside.

Well, my neighbors....who I know had come and left since the books were dropped off, kept them outside their doors for more than one day.

Now, come on people...I've been known to leave clean clothes in the dryer for a few days, or sometimes the bag of trash sits at the front door a day too long, but seriously.....can you not pick up the book that is outside your door and just bring it inside? I mean, mine sat in the same spot inside my door for a week or so before it went into the trash, but at least I brought it inside.

It bothered me so much that I took a picture of it after it'd been 2 days. Well, shoot...I DID take a picture of it, but now I can't find it.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Utah Trip - January 2008

I went to Utah for the 5th time again for work last week. If you haven't heard it from me before, I love it there, and I think it's so beautiful…so it's always a treat for me when I get to travel there for work. We were treated to yet another one of a kind experience while there, dinner at The Yurt at the Solitude Resort. We drove from the offices to Solitude, about 15 miles outside of Salt Lake City, the direction of up in the mountains. There was a small hike, about ¾ of a mile to the yurt. A yurt is a Nordic hut type thingy that they used to build to live in cold climates. I am pretty sure that is right, but look it up if you want more info. Anyways, we were spoiled with a 5 course meal, all delicious I might add, and a great night of company with the people that I get the pleasure of working with every day.

I decided to extend my trip over the weekend, and invited Lora to join me. I was so excited to show her around, and give her the chance to see why I enjoy it so much there. Funny enough, in the few times that I've been to Utah, I can make it around without a map better than I can in any other place that I've lived before. So, I headed to SLC to pick up Lora up at the airport on Friday night around 9, and after barely slowing down to let her get in the car, we were off to Park City. When I was trying to convince Lora to come to Utah, I was trying to find things for us to do over the weekend. When I realized that it was Sundance Film Festival that weekend, she didn't need much more convincing. So, we were headed to Park City for some fun!! We were anticipating it taking us a bit longer than it did to get to Park City from SLC, but that might have been because we were gabbing the entire drive, and admiring the beauty of the snow capped mountains. When we saw the Best Western (aka "B Dub") in front of us about 25 minutes later, we didn't realize that it was ours! Woohoo, we were there! We checked in, got freshened up and were back downstairs right at 10 to catch the shuttle to Main Street. We wandered around trying to find a place that was still open and serving food, and after 4 tries, were pleasantly surprised with our food, and service, at Red Banjo Pizza. The night was still young after we ate, so we walked around to see what was going on down Main St. There was a club called Harry O's that made it look like we were in LA. There were cocky bouncers, wanting to know who you were, which guest list you were on, how much you were willing to pay into their pockets to get in, etc. After standing out there and being ignored for about 10 minutes, we headed up the street to a place called Sidecar. We walked in behind this crazy girl and her friend. She was cracking us up from the minute she started to talk to us. When we got to the bouncer, he wanted $10 each to get in, no biggie, but Lora and I hadn't stopped to get any cash yet. BUT, our new friend was trying to persuade the door guy that he needed to let 3 cute girls into the bar just because. He wasn't that convinced, so he pulled out a Trivial Pursuit card and had us pick a category. Lora got the question right, so we were let in – woohoo!! We followed this girl, Nikki, and her friend, Kevin, to the back area of the bar where there were couches and it wasn't so crowded. She went and plopped herself down on one of the couches and we had more instant friends. We hung out that night with her, and also Justin, Jake and Steve from Orem. We had a really good time, got some amusing pictures, and closed down the place. The boys were nice enough to give us a ride home, but not without a quick stop along the way. Justin's last name is Shepherd, so when I saw a sign with his name on it on the way home, I told Steve to make a u-turn for a classic photo moment. I think that picture is my favorite of the evening.


After getting home after 3am on Friday night, we decided to sleep in a bit on Saturday. Another friend of mine from work, Jamie, happened to be in Park City for the weekend too, so we went and picked her up and all headed into town for lunch and to see what else we could see. Lora and I really wanted to try to see at least one film while we were there, so first stop was the ticket office. We were able to snag two shows, but more about that later. Lunch was next, and we decided on the No Name Saloon. I'd been to this place last

time I was in PC, so I knew it was good. We had a yummy lunch, a few drinks, and then took off to our next place. Along the way up Main St, we stopped and chatted with some of the folks outside Harry O's…the place we couldn't get in to the night before. We ended up meeting Roger and Doug. Turns out that Doug was the producer of Deal or No Deal and invited us to come back at 4pm to watch Jason Mraz and would try to get us in the front row. Yeah, right. He was real nice, and sounded sincere, so we said we'd come back that afternoon. We had some time to kill, so next stop was Wasatch Brew Pub. At this place, since we were just headed to the bar, we had to become "members" to get in. It's a weird Utah state law, but oh well…just knock it up to being a cover charge. I paid to become a member, and I could bring in 5 other people on my new membership. There were 3 guys in line right behind us, so I joined them to ride my coattails into the bar. They in turn bought us a round of drinks. They were on an annual trip, this was the 10th one I believe, to Sundance from Missouri. After we got to talking to them for a bit, we learned that one of the guys, Andy, and Jamie, actually worked with the exact same customer out in LA. Small, small, world. Lora and I wanted to take a quick stop at the Music Café where Meiko was playing a set that afternoon. We left Jamie with our new friends, and popped next door to catch her

show. She was AMAZING, and Lora and I both have a new music crush. :) If you like singer/songwriters, then definitely check her out. She's adorable and her music and voice are fantastic. We ran up to say hi to her after she was off stage to see if she was going to be at the Houston show of the Hotel Café Tour. Turns out that she'll only be in Austin, so I might get to see her perform again, IF I can get tickets to the show during SXSW. Fingers crossed. She's so good. We rejoined Jamie, but not before being accosted by a large group that was outside of the bar taking a group photo. Of course Lora and I joined in, since when have we ever been ones to pass up a photo opportunity. It was almost time to go back to the meeting spot for the Jason Mraz show, so we said bid adieu to our friends, and headed over to The Zone Bar. We waited outside for almost an hour, and then the folks came to announce that there were technical difficulties and for us to come back at 6pm. It was getting pretty chilly, so we decided to just head down the street back towards our ride home instead. Side note however, we chatted with a guy that had a VIP badge on while we waited in line. When we were there, he mentioned that he was from LA and that he was an actor. He didn't seem that open to telling us what he'd been in, so we

didn't press him on it. BUT, last night I was sitting at home watching TV and he was in the latest Subway commercial that was on!!! It's the one where the girl asks what come with the cheeseburger combo and the cashier goes on and on and says something like "with a side of regret"…..well, that was David Blue, and we stood next to him in line. Turns out that he also plays Cliff on Ugly Betty. Of course he was on the one show that I don't watch! Anyways…..we left and decided to make one last pit stop at Zona Rosa for a margarita. The food there was so NOT Mexican food….I think Jamie, Lora or I could have done better. But the marg was good. Jamie went to join her crew and Lora and I took a dip in the hottub. After that, we decided that we needed a little nap if we were going to make it back out. Neither of us were really that pumped to go back out again, but Lora and I are really good on vacations, knowing that "hey, we're on vacation!" and after a quick nap, we got ready and caught the 10pm shuttle again.

This time, the shuttle was full. There were two guys on the bus with us that we'd met briefly on the e

levator when we'd arrived the night before. Neil and Justin were from DC and NY. They had told us to go to Harry O's the night before, so we asked them "Ok, how in the hell did you get in that place???". Turns out that Justin works for Maxim and had a little bit of a hookup. So, we decided to see if that would work again, and hung out with them outside the club for about an hour….and then whala! We got in!! It was worth the wait. The place was packed and the DJ was awesome. It was a little hard to get around, but we managed. Justin disappeared for a bit, but in the meanwhile, Neil, Lora and I were invited into one of the VIP areas. We met the folks that were in there, they were totally down to earth and nice. Cheri and Morgan are the VP of Business Development and CEO of Maverick Films (Madonna's production company), Norman and Nikki worked for some VC Firm in Miami, and Jordan has some other company….bottom line, these people were smart and loaded….but also so great. They were so nice, and we had a really great time hanging out with them in their VIP area. When the club shutdown, Cheri's assistant came to get us and we all crammed into a Jeep and went to hang out at their 4500 sq ft condo in Deer Valley. Lora, Morgan, Jordan and I stayed up chatting about dorky

computer stuff until almost 6 in the morning. We all kind of crashed and then had the poor assistant guy drive us all back to the B Dub at 830.

Turns out that Neil and Justin had tickets to the exact same film that we did, so we grabbed a bite to eat in the lobby, went to get ready and check out, and then headed to see "Ballast". It was one of the award winners, so we didn't know what we were seeing until we got there. It was a very slow, dark, drama, but very good too. It was kind of hard to stay awake on only a few hours of sleep in a film that was soooooo slow, and not a lot of talking, but had a good story line. Loco Lizard was the next stop for lunch; the guys had to catch a shuttle to SLC to the airport. After we rushed through lunch, we realized that we could just take them since we were headed that way anyway, so we all drove to SLC and I took them on a mini tour of the city when we got there, pointing out all the major landmarks. They commented on how I didn't need a map to get around….funny. :)

After we dropped them off and got checked into our hotel, we took off to south of SLC to find Saltair. I had seen this really neat abandoned trolley car on a photographer blog that I read, and wanted to find it for ourselves. We did, and it was so neat. Lora and I got some really cool shots, and Lora even
got to play with a dog while we were there.



We went to see "Birds of America" in SLC that night……much more mainstream movie, quite funny actually. BUT, the funniest part about it was that we saw a lady that we had met on Friday night at Sidecar, and we did our best to avoid her because she was a nutcase…but again, small, small world. We popped across the street to grab a bite to eat at Squatters and took a chance at Kilby Court (an all ages music venue in SLC) to see what was happening. I was glad to take Lora to see Kilby, but we didn't luck on out on the talent. The band we saw was amusing at least, and on our way out we met the lead singer of the band that we missed, The JV Allstars. I showed Lora around SLC a little more, we got a few night time pics of the temple, and then called it a night. On Monday, we drove to Provo to see the BYU campus and got back just in time to SLC right as the storm was blowing in. We made a quick stop at the mall, and when we got back to the car, the storm had already knocked out power to half of SLC. We had to go to 4 different gas stations to find one that had power to fill up the rental. It was crazy driving to the airport, looking out the smallest part of the windshield that I could actually see from, but we made it nonetheless. Sorry for the long recap, but I didn't want to forget it for myself either.

Until my next trip……

AP

Check the links for the pictures:

Dinner at The Yurt
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=gmnck87.9nd6retr&x=1&y=-167sxr

Friday in Park City
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=gmnck87.1rpbttfb&x=1&y=ugaqqi

Saturday in Park City
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=gmnck87.87835drr&x=1&y=-okvhhs

Sunday in Park City &Salt Lake City
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=gmnck87.4gkad6l3&x=1&y=lgzi25