Monday, March 31, 2008

Meet my Editor

Some of you are probably wondering why my posts are always grammatically correct, spelled perfectly, and all of my verbs are properly conjugated....especially when quite a few of my posts are late in the evening.....after being out (or just a night at home by my lonesome), which, sometimes.......just sometimes, involves some adult beverages.

But, I digress. Despite that I was raised by someone who corrects library books if there are errors....... and for that reason I paid extra attention to the dangling prepositions, participles, and gerunds in English classes during my formative years.....but.....I also have a secret Blog Editor.

Meet Anne. Otherwise known as my mom. She instilled upon me the proper usage of "I" and "me" (which to this day drives me a little bit bat s#$% crazy when used improperly), the difference between "your" and "you're" (I will never date someone who doesn't know how to use the two correctly), and the person that helped me win the homonym competition in grade school, master my spelling tests, and sometimes did my vocabulary homework in 6th grade because she got more entertainment out of it than me.

Besides my annoying habits regarding grammar, she also taught me to "pay off your credit card bills each month". I am not sure that she ever really taught me this, but I think that she mumbled it to herself when I was around and she was paying bills. I also know there were other things that she mumbled to herself when I was around too, that I probably heard but didn't heed....but I turned out OK I think anyways. :)

So....if you're in need of a secret blog editor....I am sure she has already noticed your little erroneous tidbits, just let me know if you want to start getting the emails titled "blog" so you can fix them before most others notice. :)

Thought I would also share this cute pic of Molly peering out over the mess that is me organizing my filing cabinet tonight. I'm so glad that I get to share my chaos of a life with her and I am sure that she feels the same.

One last picture so you can all be A. embarrassed for me, and B. make fun of me. :) This is why I keep myself as busy, and out of the house, as much as possible. On nights that I stay at home, here is what I end up doing.....all night.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

SUSHI with Pam

I haven't seen Pam in....well, we tried to figure out when the last time we saw each other was exactly...but it had been WAY too long. We finally connected last weekend via text and made plans to meet for dinner tonight.

We decided to meet at Maiko. My 2nd time ever to eat sushi - I am such a new person! :) We started out with edamame, had Spider, California and Spicy Tuna rolls....AND the Mac and Cheese. I realize that it sounds strange, but it was super tasty, and if you ever make it to this restaurant...order and try it - you won't be sorry. :) The sushi was great too!!

It was SOOOO nice to see Pam, like I said, it'd been TOO long, and we always have a great time. She graduated with my youngest sister, but has always been like a little sister to me and I had missed her. I'm so glad that we got a chance to get caught up on each other's lives tonight. You might be hearing more about hanging out with Pam near the latter part of this week. She's got some fun in store for the weekend, that I might just crash on Friday night. :)

31st Annual Capital 10K with Toni and Melissa - We Did IT!

So, I blogged us starting off at the Austin American Statesman's Capital 10K race this morning at 9am. Now I'm back home for the night, and will finish up about the day.....what a day it was!!!

We met at Mel's place at 745am....YES, that is in the morning....on a Sunday.....are you proud of us yet?? Well, you should be, that is WAY too early for a weekend. Anyways.....we stopped at Starbucks on the way there, and found rockstar parking on 6th when we got downtown.

It was about 68 degrees already at 8-ish, so we thought that it would turn out to be a pretty decent day for a 10K. Well....we made it over to the starting area, decided to watch the runners start off, and then it started to rain. It wasn't drizzling, I mean, it wasn't coming down cats and dogs or anything, but it was enough to soak the little cute dog that was watching the race right in front of us. He started to look more like a wet lion rather than a terrier mix....but he was cute nonetheless. We waited for the walkers to get going, and joined in once it started to die down, and we were on our way.

The rain was not making Miss Toni very happy. She commented that she thought that I'd be the whiny one with the rain, but she must have surprised herself too when she realized that it was her, and not me. I was just happy to be there. Seriously....why was I so happy?? It was probably only because I had on a hat....had I left that at home, I might have been the whinier one. :)

BUT...we powered through the rain and the pain. We were making pretty good 15 minute walking miles at the beginning, but then I started to feel it.....not sure if it was just me that was slowing us down (I'm going to go ahead and say that it wasn't), but if the clocks were correct (which they were not at all the mile markers during the race), we crossed the finish line, the 6.2 miles total, after around 1 hour and 55 minutes. I think that the winners, the ones that were running, finished in about 31 minutes.....that is ludicrous!!

We opted to celebrate our accomplishment with brunch and mimosas at Opal Divine's on 6th. I had a great time, once again, participating in one of Austin's finest traditions. 4th year down, and many more to go!

Of course I brought my camera...which I think I might have ruined a little more with the rain, but you know I can't pass up documenting the event.

This is the reaction I got when I asked Toni how she was enjoying the race in the rain......funny enough, I got the same answer from Melissa.

And the race is on......

Toni, Melissa and I are at the Capital 10K. Wish us luck!!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I saw Stop-Loss tonight with Melissa. I honestly had no idea what it was about before going, I just knew that it was something about the war and that it was based in Texas......oh, and that my future hubby, Tatum Channing (back off ladies, he will be mine) was one of the main characters. Besides him looking very hot and yummy in the movie, it was extremely disturbing, and from my perception, it seemed "real". A little too real, in that it seemed to really portray what kinds of things happen, or could happen, over in Iraq, and it was really scary. The whole time I was thinking of the people that I know, the people that I went to college with, the people that are my age, or younger than me, that have, or are currently, experiencing the war, and it scared the crap out of me. I have no idea how anyone can handle that. I don't understand why anyone would volunteer for that, and it made me scared to have children that are boys one day.

Then on the way home, I was remembering when it seemed that all of this started. It was the summer after finishing my 8th grade, and I'd been living in Saudi Arabia with my parents and 2 younger sisters, for the past year. It was August of 1991. My dad and his coworker, Charlie, were in Kuwait, for work. My dad came home to Dhahran, Charlie stayed to get some more work done. Six hours later, Iraq attacked Kuwait. Charlie was stuck in Kuwait at the US Embassy for six months.

We lived in an Ex Pat compound at the time, Al Rushaid I, with some American military families and other families whose dads were in the oil business. After all of the initial commotion, I remember all of the military kids and moms being shipped home immediately. First it was the Jennifers, and then Ashleigh and her siblings, Merritt and Kirsten took off, the British families left too. My mom, sisters and I waited, and were glued to the TV watching the updates, seeing what was going to happen. After a few days, most of the families had vacated, and then it was decided that it was time for us to leave as well. So, my mom, Erika, Taylor and I packed up our stuff, and headed back to NJ on August 10, 1991. I remember the date so well because it was also Erika's 13th birthday (her 2nd one to spend on an airplane).

The house that we'd lived in from 4th-7th grade was being occupied by our former piano teacher, Susie, because my parents thought that we might move back at one point, and didn't want to sell the house. So, we got back to Voorhees, and moved right back into the house. We re-enrolled in school, and I showed up for the 1st day of school a few weeks later for 9th grade at Eastern High School. The friends that I'd said goodbye to a year before were shocked to see me, they asked "Hey! What are you doing here??". I reminded them that there was a war going on where I was living, so we came back for a while.

My dad had to stay in Saudi Arabia for work. He wasn't able to come back as he was running the operations for the company that he worked for at the time there in KSA. Anyways, we went to school in NJ, my dad worked. He was there by himself on the weekends with the other guys that had to stay, so they took adventures out to the deserts in their trucks, and made friends with the soldiers. While he was hanging out with the soldiers on the weekends, he started up something that was so cool. He realized that it was taking the soldiers a few weeks to get letters to their families due to the postal service having to get them across the ocean to get back home. So, he started "Desert Fax". He would take blank sheets out to the troops, have them write their letters, and in the top corner, put the US address to where it was to be sent. After he spent all day out there with them, he'd come back to his office, and then fax them to my mom in NJ, as well as a few other friends across the US. We'd get them, and then send them to the US address, to where it would only take a few days versus a few weeks to get to their loved ones. We also took the soldiers names to our classes in school, and wrote them letters, and had long distanced soldier penpals. My dad did that for every weekend that he was there, and made some life long friends out of it too.

So, winter break came, and the 4 of us headed back over to Saudi to visit my dad for Christmas. Thinking about it now, going back to a country that was at war.....and voluntarily, probably wasn't the smartest idea, but hey....we went. So, we packed up and went to visit. The coolest thing about this trip was that we got to go out and visit the soldiers that my dad had made friends with, and that we'd been sending their letters for the last few months. It was so neat to be able to see it all first hand. I don't think that I was that shocked by it when I was there, not sure why, but I think it's more alarming to me now.....thinking back at how old some of them were when we visited. I mean, some of them weren't but 3 years older than me, and they were AT WAR. Living in the middle of the desert, eating MREs (which are totally disgusting by the way....they pawned as many of them off on us to take home as we could for "show and tell"), and spending their Christmas with a tree in 110+ degree sand stormy weather.

I did get to drive a real Hum-V when I was there, we saw the toilets, and the living conditions. I remember that I had an Air Supply tape with me, and one of the soldiers said that he liked the band, and so I gave him my tape. I figured that he could use it a little bit more than I did at the time. Yeah, go ahead and make fun of me....I listened to Air Supply in HS, so what of it???

I have pictures that I'll find and post later of the time'll want to make more fun of me when you see how cool my hair was, and the 3 pairs of stacked, different color, socks that I was wearing, but that's not the point.

I guess I was just remembering all of that, tonight on the ride home, and cannot believe that all of that was almost 17 years ago. I still remember it like it was yesterday, and that just really is kind of crazy. I remember being scared that my friends that were seniors when I was a freshman were going to be drafted to war. I hope that the time comes, in my lifetime, where I can say that I remember when it was all over, and it has finally come to an end.

I also hope that my friends that are home now, finishing out the rest of their service in the military, are able to call it quits when their time of serving is over, and that they are not stop-lossed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Good friends, good food and good music - a PERFECT Friday night in Austin!

Toni, Kara and I headed out tonight for some food, fun and music! We tried out Bess on W 6th and Pecan, a first for all of us. The atmosphere in the restaurant was really neat.....dimly lit with twinkly lights, and the service was fantastic. The food was a little on the eclectic side, but a yummy surprise!

After dining, our plans included seeing A Fine Frenzy at The Parish. I have seen Ali twice in Austin before....I first discovered her and saw her at Borders in August 2007, and then was lucky to catch her again in Austin in September 2007. She's an amazing singer/songwriter, totally adorable, incredibly sweet....and if it sounds like I have a crush on her, I just might. She's an absolute doll and I haven't stopped enjoying her music since I got the CD 9 months ago.

Funny story.....right before she came on stage, when everyone was anxiously awaiting for her to "Come On, Come Out" (for those of you that don't know AFF's songs, I just made a funny....that's one of her songs on the One Cell in the Sea album - hah!), I decided to take the opportunity to use the bathroom before it all started. Well, when I rounded the corner to go into the door, guess who snuck in right in front of me?? It was Ali. I noticed this and was just smiling to myself. As I was washing my hands, she came out of the stall, and I just said to her "It's so good to have you back in Austin"....we exchanged some words about how the only sink working was the one on the left....I let her know that she had a button on her dress undone and she thanked me for noticing and telling her! She commented that being on a bus full of boys, that is something that none of them would have probably noticed and told her, so she was happy that I did. :) She was on her way out, and a girl came out of the stall near the door...noticed it was Ali....and almost had a heart attack. "OH MY GOD!! It's you!!! OH MY GOD....I love you so much, you have no idea?!!?! Can I get a hug, I need a picture! OH MY GOD!!!". Ali was so sweet.....she just smiled, laughed, accepted the hug, and said that she'd be available after the show for pictures but she had to run to get the show started. She was so gracious and adorable. It was so sweet.

So, the show started, and Ali was incredible. She just has the one album, about 12 songs, and she's been singing them for almost a year on tour, so it was fun to see how she has mixed up her own songs a little bit since I'd seen her last. She sang them with a few extra notes, there was a little more instrumental sound in the arrangements.....all of it was fantastic. She sang a few cover songs too, which was a treat. She even sang a Death Cab for Cutie song....and it was my favorite one, hers too, "I'll Follow You in to the Night", and it was beautiful.

headed over to the She left the stage, came back and played a few more songs, and then Kara and I immediatelymerch table to wait for the chance to say hello to her afterwards. Oh, I got another AFF tee, and I love it.....Ali designed them herself, and it's so cute. I think that I'll wear it tomorrow, I just can't wait! :)

Kara was able to get her ticket signed, and I got a quick picture with Ali. She thanked me again for helping her in the bathroom earlier, and I told her how proud I was that she is doing so good, and to come back to Austin real soon.

I love to hang out with my girls, and tonight was nothing less than the same great times that I always have with Kara and Toni. We laugh and get to act a little silly....which is so much needed and warranted when we take a break from our busy lives for a little while. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I spent all day......yes, literally, ALL day, today, running around Austin with a camera crew filming video footage for the upcoming conference that I am managing at work. The guys got in from Utah at 930 this morning, and I got home tonight at 930. A LONG day for AP.

We started this morning running around in my building, went over to the offices across the street, had WAY too much BBQ at Rudy's for lunch, took a trip over to another building in RR, went back to my building, hopped over to Plucker's for some funny footage, came back to my building, made a quick visit to the actual "Round Rock" (I had no clue that this even existed until today), headed downtown to walk around on South Congress, ate again for dinner at South Congress Cafe, did some more walking around, did some driving around, watched the infamous Bats come out for the night from under the SoCo bridge (another first for me), and then wrapped up the night with some more driving around downtown Austin. Almost 12 hours of footage will probably end up being 3-5 minutes of actual video.

I didn't bust out my's so much easier to be a little inconspicuous with using the iPhone, and the pictures really aren't that bad. I wish that it had a little built in flash, but I'm not complaining.

BUT, the day was great. Steve is hysterical and a blast to be around. Mike and Mike, the camera guys, couldn't have been any nicer to work with....although they DID keep trying to get me on camera even though I insisted that I didn't need to be!! They won in the end....ugh, I am SO not looking forward to seeing how this all works out in the end. KJ did great too, and it was awesome to have him in tow today being our "local guide" for the shoot.

It's days like today that I remember why I love working with the folks that I do so much. It's all about good people. But then, alas, that dream like state comes to a crashing halt, when after 7 hours of not being on email, I log back in and am abruptly reminded of why it's not always peaches and cream, and how it's so easy to loathe the job that I am tasked to do.

Tomorrow will be crazy......playing catch up and doing all the things that I was given as "action items" today while I was out "playing Hollywood".

Oh well, such is life. Poor poor pitiful me.


Full Circle with NaeNae

After Renae and Jeff were engaged....I was VERY expressive with the idea that I wanted to take some pictures of them. They are such a great looking couple, and I really wanted to try out some of the things that I'd wanted to do in taking photos. I borrowed a camera, and we were off. What better people to start with, right?

We had also talked about creating a Save the Date, and she couldn't find any pictures that she wanted to this was a great chance to get some to possibly use for that option too.

So, we started out with the Engagement Photo Shoot. I wanted to go downtown around Stubbs....a spot I thought was appropriate for Jeff. It turned out to be awesome, and also helped me get the more 'urban' feel that I was looking for in the photos. We walked around that area, found some other hidden spots, and got some great shots!!

Then it was on to designing the Save the Dates. Renae and Jeff each had a favorite photo, so we made two different versions. This was so much fun, and was so neat to see the final product in print....and in the mail too! Woohoo!

When it came time to decide what to do about the invites....Renae came to me and asked for my help. How fun was this?? She wanted something classic and simple. So, we played around with some ideas, and this is what the invite looked like. It was printed on ivory cardstock, and they turned out so pretty and crisp.

I think that the monogram "logo" was my favorite part!


RSVP card, Map Front and Back, Thank You Card Front:

You've already read the story about the Guest Book, but here's another look at it, in an effort to create the complete "circle" with NaeNae.

What's a wedding without a Program?

Front and Back of Program:

Lastly, we did one more photo shoot with just Nae.....well, there were a few guitars in the shoot too. This was for a special wedding present surprise for Jebby, that she gave to him on the night of the wedding. Sorry folks, you just get to see the cover. :)

For Jebby's Eyes Only:

I had the most fantastic time spending all the extra time with Nae during the wedding planning, learning to stretch my creative brain, testing out new things, trying tricks, design ideas, printing ideas, cropping tricks, etc, with all of these things for Renae and Jeff's wedding.

If I ever take my hobbies to the next level.....look out for the joint venture of AP and NaeNae. She's very eagerly volunteered to be my partner in wherever this takes me! :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Speaking of design.....and GREAT hair......

Tara has been doing amazing things to my hair for almost 2 years now. She and Renae used to be roomies (are we noticing a trend here.....NaeNae is my hookup to a creative outlet), and I started to see Tara while she was finishing up beauty school. After she left there, I went to see her at her apartment, she came to see me at my house, I went to her house, she came to my apartment....we've run the gamut of locations to "do hair".

She recently leased her own space at a studio of salons in (ugh, south) Austin. I am so proud of her starting up her own business. She does such a fantastic job and we've all been hoping that she'd get to this point in her career where she'd be able to work for herself - so CONGRATS, Tara! You rock!!!

Well, she asked me if I'd help her design a business card. She went back and forth on what she wanted to call it....what a possible logo idea would be.....colors, etc. She finally decided that she really liked the shape of her new tattoo, and thought that we could use that for a logo.

I loved the idea!!

She was at my apartment doing my hair and I got started on it right then and there. I was too excited to wait any longer to get it going.

To start out, I took a photo of her tattoo, and then started playing around with what I could do.

She already had some other items for her studio created, so she had the fonts and colors picked out that she wanted to work here is what I came up with. She loved it....score another point for AP. Watch out folks, I'm on a roll!!!

Next up....trying to redesign the menu for Tara's boyfriend's restaurant. I told her I'm up for the challenge! :) Fingers crossed that I will be able to come up with something delicious!!

Twice the fun to create!!!

One of Renae and Jeff's best friends, Amy, came to me a few weeks ago with a challenge, that I gladly accepted. She had her beautiful twins in September, a wee bit early at 28 weeks 4 days. They've been home and doing great for a few months, and she was ready to send out an announcement.

A friend of hers had taken a few photos that she really liked, but she wasn't able to find anything online that she liked to fit what she had in mind. I asked her to send me as much information as possible.....what colors do you like? what info did you want on it? etc.....

I was nervous to start creating something from scratch with just a little bit of direction, but I went ahead and tried. She'd sent me 4 pictures, and I knew that I wanted to use all of them, especially the "outtake" one, since it was so cute, and so "real", of the kids crying. I couldn't come up with a way to make them all look good on one page, so I went ahead and threw out the idea of a two sided card. Hey, I took a chance!

Well, she and Aaron loved it! Phew - mission accomplished!! I was thrilled! So, here is what the end result ended up looking like.

Aren't Ari and Ava just adorable???



Does this really work????

I am testing out the blog from my iPhone feature. Hope this works.

Met Kara & Gracie for lunch at Taco Deli. Isn't she so cute?

EDITED TO ADD: Whoa, it really DOES work!! Watch out blog!! I'm on a roll! I am also SOOOOO impressed at how well the iPhone camera does....check out those baby blues!!! :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Renae & Jeff Hurst Tie the Knot!!!

Today was a blast. Renae and Jeff's wedding was beautiful - the weather was great, the girls looked beautiful, the guys looked handsome (they clean up nice after all), the food was delicious, the music was great for dancing, the getaway car was fabulous....and it was a great time for all.

I didn't really bring out my camera because I was having a good time enjoying myself....BUT, once again, I did get a few shots.

I even got a "nod" from the official wedding photographers that were there to capture the evening. Dave came up to me and said "Hey, I want to talk shop with you later." I was like "Huh???". He told me that he saw the pictures that I did for the Guest Book and wondered why he was there. WOW!! I chatted with him and Sean (the 2nd shooter) for a bit, and they offered to have me come shoot a wedding with them to "get my feet wet". This is exactly what I'd been looking for.....a way to practice, test it out, see what it's all about, but without the pressure. I'm definitely going to take them up on their offer.....I am still in shock, and so giddy about that. Of course, I went on and on about all the photogs that I read and admire and they had no idea who I was talking about. I kind of felt like a dork, but they were like "Well, you really seem to know what you're talking about.....". Hee hee. Thanks to all of my heroes, I guess that I kind of did! :)

My mom & dad were at the wedding too. My dad and Marque were set to take R&J to where they were staying for the night.

My mom and I followed, so we could try to grab a really neat shot downtown before we dropped them off......well, how do you think it turned out? :)

Best shot of the night, I'd say. Helps when you have such a great looking couple to take the picture of.....oh, and the car, the Precious Motor Car, is beautiful too.

I went to hang out with Renae's family and friends from out of town for a bit afterwards, and was sad to see them head home. The whole wedding planning and day with Renae, her friends and family was amazing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

After we rehearse.....We Eat!!

After the rehearsal, the wedding party headed over to Pappasitos for some good old Tex Mex and fun times with friends and family both. The yummy fajitas were a nice added treat for the out of towners (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota to name a few states represented).

It was so great to be able to hear Renae and Jeff's friends and family recount stories from when they were younger, when they met, how everyone knew that they were perfect for each other, and how all of us know that they are going to have a wonderful, loving marriage, full with people that adore and love them both.

I didn't take too many pictures, Jeff's brother in law was doing a great job capturing the evening, so I decided to enjoy myself with great people instead. But of course, I did snap a FEW.....can't wait for tomorrow's wedding! :)