Thursday, May 29, 2008


We have three weddings again this weekend, and getting ready for them is a lot of work. I hardly have time to think about blogging. But I promised to post every day for the rest of May, so here I am.

I find this chandelier fascinating. It's made (by Studio Verissimo) of coffee stirrers!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Love this stuff

If you haven't already, you must try IZZE soda. No weird chemicals or high fructose corn syrup (WTF?), just juice and water. The sparkling grapefruit is my favorite - it's excellent mixed with my favorite vodka.

Dude, if you haven't tried the Tito's, you must try that, too. Even if you're not into vodka (yet).

I concur

My friend K at Two Pretzels put a couple of lists out there today and thought they were remarkable. As in, something to be remarked upon. Here I am, remarking. I especially agree with her about blueberry cake and hardboiled eggs.

Click here to see if you agree with me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm too tired

I'm too tired to blog this evening. We got a huge dumpster for all our garage junk, and I've been throwing stuff into it all evening. I also had a rough bike ride. I swear the wind switched direction as soon as I did, so that it was always blowing against me.

Read one of yesterday's entries if you need something new today. ;)

Monday, May 26, 2008

What do you eat when nobody is looking?

Everyone has something they eat when no one is looking. I just shared with Joe today that I've been jonesing for my tacky tortilla pizzas. I invented them a couple weeks ago when we were out of everything (and I was home alone). They're just little flour tortillas with pizza sauce and some Heinz 57, a bit of mozzarella cheese, and turkey pepperoni. Bake at 350 for 7 minutes, fold and eat. I made 'em for Joe tonight and he really dug 'em.

My father takes a half a sleeve of saltine crackers, smushes them up into a highball glass, and pours enough milk to cover them. He lets his creation soak before eating with a spoon. This cracks me the hell up.

So tell me about your guilty pleasure!


There's a pile of "to sell" stuff from the garage. It's as big as a small car. Everything worth less than $30, or too big to bother with, we are giving away, but there are a heckuva lot of more valuable things that we thought we should sell. Proceeds from items purchased for work will go toward new equipment, but personal stuff and antique cameras will fund my pet projects (I've got a sweet deal).

I have this swanky Stork Club ashtray with unused matchbook that's been in the garage for years. I bought it while shopping with a retro-obsessed boyfriend. Now it's worth $50! See, ex-boyfriends are good for something.

We are done

The garage is clean. I never thought I'd ever be able to type that!

We still have to sweep and shop-vac it, and install the shelves and hanging stuff we bought (for the bikes, shovels, brooms, etc.). And then I will take a picture and share it.

Big news tomorrow, I hope! Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

10:21 p.m. and we're still going

Honestly, this is way bigger than I thought it would be. The garage is still sneering at me, but the end is in sight. Way, way far away, but in sight. Wowza.

This is harder than starting my own business!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Garage, Redux

Hey, does anyone remember back in January when I was all New Year's resolved to clean out the garage? The garage that sneers at us when we think about parking a car in it? The garage that still has all sorts of packed boxes from our move? Which was 4 years ago this week?

Yeah. Well, we made an serious effort back then but it was too cold to finish. And then this spring, we've been too busy. But this weekend, we did it. Well, we've almost done it. It should be done tomorrow.

It will be wonderful to have it done, but cleaning it out was the most upsetting experience I've had in years, except for family members' illnesses and funerals. I kind of hate memories, and all the things I've been carrying around with me for years and years. I hate keeping them, but I hate saying good-bye to them. I am not a packrat (that's Joe) - I just wish all the stuff I don't need anymore would disappear, without me having to make the decision.

You know, old wedding gifts that you never found a place for, projects you really feel bad about not doing, furniture that was too cool to get rid of, but not cool enough to stay in its place, or things you once loved, but then outgrew. If we'd had a flood or a fire, I could've let everything go, but to dump it myself is hard.

We're throwing away very little, so that makes me happy: lots of plastic and cardboard will be recycled, anything that can be used by anyone else will be donated, and many things will be sold. We'll use the proceeds to replace some of the clothing that was ruined by moisture. And probably for something fun when we're done. We're both filthy and tired and cranky. I will keep you posted.

(Also, we have some pretty big news for you this week, but I want to have all the papers signed before I make an announcement. If you already know, shh! Don't tell yet!)

Friday, May 23, 2008


A friend lost her beloved dog, Roxy, today and it just broke my heart when I heard. Meghan, we're thinking of you.

The photo is Meghan's.


Yup, I'm 29. Thanks for all the birthday wishes, everyone! I had a wonderful day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I hit 200!

I have now ridden my new bike 203 miles in one month (and a few days). I have had a great time doing it. I've learned how to pump up my tires, how to turn fast, and that certain brands of bike shorts just don't do the job.

I might be a little late, but I'm going to get 1000 miles done this summer. Next up, some sort of long charity ride. If I'm going to go so far, I might as well do it for a cause!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Word(s) of the day: kype and yoink

Kype: verb

A trivial theft.

I accidently kyped my brothers lighter.

Yoink: interjection

An exclamation that, when uttered in conjunction with taking an object, immediately transfers ownership from the original owner to the person using the word regardless of previous property rights.

Though I cherished my automobile, I had to purchase a new one when my second cousin came up from behind me and politely exclaimed, "Yoink" while taking my car keys.

Click here to hear this exclamation.

From one of my favorites,

Love this

by Threadless.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kelly and Thomas

Click on photo to enlarge

Just one quick favorite from another May 17 wedding. Joe shot video while I handled still photography. We love to work together because not only do we not get in each other's way, we can team up to make some really interesting pictures.

For every first dance, I try to get some photos with natural lighting, rather than just using flash all the time. This was a very dark dance floor, but I used Joe's video light to silhouette Kelly and Thomas. Don't they just look so happy and in love?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ten things I would love for my birthday, part TEN

My birthday is Friday, and it's shaping up to be a lot of fun.

For my birthday, what I want the very most is some fun, relaxed time with my wonderful husband, my fantastic family, and my good friends (I might end up having a date night with Joe and two separate parties). I would love a nice, long bike ride in there somewhere. And my two favorite meals: breakfast at McDonald's (I know, I can't help it!) and dinner at Zingerman's Roadhouse.

No matter what's on my wish list, I always get the best birthday presents. My mother bought me an incredibly warm down coat this winter, so my present has been keeping me cozy already for months, my father is coming soon to help us demolish a closet and turn it into a snazzy new half bath, and Joe's giving me the day off, and he's planning a date on his own (this is a biggie for him, and completely his own idea).

My brother and SIL always choose the most thoughtful gifts (the only possessions I would grab to save in a fire are the paintings they commissioned of my dogs), and my sister and BIL always throw the best parties. Fingers crossed that my BIL will be grilling something and that he can take a minute to help me install some new things on my bike. My sister knows me better than I know myself, plus she already gave me two goddaughters, so she's set for a long time. Now that I have four darling little girls on my side of the family, I also get the cutest cards and drawings and homemade things that I really treasure.

So, what is your favorite gift ever? Or the thing you really, really want? Please share!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sarah & Jason

What a lush, gorgeous wedding. Brenna shot more photos than I've ever known her to shoot - she said that everything was so beautiful, she couldn't stop herself!

Here's just a sneak peek...

Click on image to enlarge.

Well, I did miss a day

But it's because we had three weddings and we all came home so tired we could hardly move. I mentioned to a friend (hi Anita!) that the prep work is almost as hard as shooting a wedding, and she asked what it is that we need to do to get ready.

Here's an off-the-top-of-my-head list:

1. Send out our 6-page Timeline questionnaire to each couple (3-6 weeks before the wedding date).

2. Collect completed Timelines (1-3 weeks before the wedding date).

3. Go over each one with a fine-toothed comb, looking for scheduling conflicts or problems (has someone asked for something that a minister probably won't let us get? Or three different photo locations in one hour?).

4. Go over our list of questions or clarifications with the bride and groom, sometimes with parents. Make sure every little detail is sorted out before we even arrive at the wedding.

5. Make notes on Timeline, make copies and include one in each camera case. Confirm arrival time and location with every bride, and then we let each photographer know when they'll be expected.

6. Pack cases: we bring two of everything to every wedding: 2-3 camera bodies, 2 flashes, 2 flash diffusers (to get our signature flattering look from our flash), 4 lenses, extra memory cards, lens cloth, blower (I'll explain later), and an absolutely appalling number of batteries. Depending on which cameras we're using, we bring 2-5 different types of batteries, 3-36 of each. Since we send out up to 4 photographers in a day, we're going through a lot of batteries*. Joe knows which lenses we like to start out with, and tries to get our cameras ready to shoot the minute we arrive.

*More on batteries: we use rechargeables whenever possible, but they need to be charged within 24 hours of a shoot, so when we get ready in advance, we sometimes end up using non-rechargeables. We can only use them once, and we change batteries before they're spent, so we end up with lots of half-used batteries. Our family and friends take home a gallon-sized bag of gently used AAs whenever they visit.

7. We back up every memory card before re-using it, just in case.

8. While packing cases, Joe inspects every piece of equipment for damage, and tests and cleans every camera before it goes out on another job. The blower is for cleaning digital camera sesnsors, to avoid spots in bright photos (of a bride's dress, for example). Don't try this at home.

9. Replenish emergency kits. We bring emergency kits to every wedding, for our own use, as well as for our brides' and grooms'. We bring bottled water, pain relievers, stomach medications, antihistamine, sewing kit, stain remover, bandages, electrical tape, permanent markers, pens, sunscreen, bug repellant, state and local maps, mints, snacks and lunch if needed, cash (for unexpected valet or parking charges), and an epi pen for Brenna, who is allergic to bee stings.

10. I print out directions and maps to every location we'll be at, including "plan B" locations in case of rain. Yesterday, Brenna had 6 sets of directions with her: to the ceremony site (a church), from the church to the park, from the church to the in-case-of-rain location, from the park to the reception, from the in-case-of-rain location to the reception, and then from the reception back to our house, where she crashed for the night. If someone will be traveling to unfamiliar locations, we will also send a GPS device, pre-programmed with addresses.

11. We also send each photographer with an itinerary, and a copy of the couple's contract.

12. Although we always have a backup photographer on deck in case of emergency, we take extra precautions before weddings. We don't eat anything high-risk (with raw or rare meats or mayonnaise) in the 24 hours leading up to weddings, we don't try new foods or new sports, or work out harder than usual. We're always very careful about helmets and pads when we do skate or cycle. That may sound excessive, but when you shoot weddings for a living, it's important to have our greatest assets (us!) in perfect shape for every job.

That's me, pictured above, in skinnier days. And with really old equipment, before we switched to digital!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Three engagement shoots!

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Joe had three separate engagement sessions today, and each one was very different. This was some yummy light he found, just before the sun set. There is no studio this beautiful. Nice job, Joe!

Leslie and Sean (pictured above) are flying us to Jamaica for their wedding this summer, so stay tuned for some wonderful beach photos!

More Noodle photos!

This is Noodle, the up-for-adoption dachshund, chewing on a bone. He's on our new stripey rug, which is a very dog-proof wool.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Ever wondered what your pets do all day?

I have often wondered what the heck my dogs do when they're home alone. Heather set up a webcam so she could spy on her pets. I find this to be endlessly interesting. (Only available during work hours, so you might have to wait until Monday).

Click here to watch two dogs in a kitchen.

There is sound, and the barking can get pretty loud, so not always SFW.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

ISO the perfect black tee

Since you brilliant readers of mine found me local tortillas (thanks again, Mara!), I'm hoping you can help me find the perfect black tee. I wear black t-shirts about 99% of the time (even to bed) but now I need some good ones for work.

Must be long, fitted but not too clingy, substantial but not heavy, non-fading and machine washable. I'm not fussy about necklines, but I do prefer a longer sleeve. I'm quite interested in modal or bamboo or whatever that stuff is. And money's no object (I loved typing that, but really, how pricey can a t-shirt be?).

So help a girl out?

(Pictured is the 3/4-length tee from Undertease, which is almost right but not quite. It's got an embroidered logo on the bum.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What we do

Click on photo to enlarge.

Our mission is to photograph weddings unobtrusively, and to catch people looking their best. This is one of our beautiful brides, Lindsay, just checking her train. We never stop people to pose them, so everything is real, which makes it more lovely.

I'm really crazy about this photograph.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thoughts on grocery-getting

So I got groceries at Meijer tonight. Some thoughts:

1. It's best to get groceries at 11 p.m. or an equally odd hour. No crowds and very few toddlers.

2. I drive all the way out to Meijer especially for my favorite chorizo (El Popular Mild) and they don't sell it anymore? GAAAAH! I tried the "picante" and just about died. I have no idea where to get the good stuff. Very sad.

3. They package strawberry Mentos by themselves now, because they're the yummiest. And they don't use nasty fake food coloring (I have a problem with red dye #40 which is in just about everything).

4. Are there any good, locally-made tortillas in Toledo? If you know, please tell me. I am really sick of the mass-produced ones.

5. Did you know bunnies are supposed to love cilantro? We've been bringing Mimzy (the office bunny) greens - dandelions and carrot tops have been her faves so far. Tomorrow, we try cilantro. I'll keep ya posted.

6. Rice Chex are now gluten-free! I keep buying them for my sister, who has Celiac Disease, but then we eat them all. Tonight we got other GF treats, too, because our wedding season has begun (and Brenna stays over a lot): Amy's GF Mac 'n' Cheese, Lara Bars, Tostito's Scoops, and Van's Waffles.

7. I cannot shop with Joe anymore. He's a disaster (I love you, honey, but you know you are). I sent him to the back of the store for Ortega Medium Taco Sauce (what? It's gluten-free!) and he came back with three different types of salsa. Good thing he's so cute.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Technically, it's still Monday

Somewhere. We went to Indiana this evening, to transport an adorable dachshund, Noodle, to his new foster home. Thanks, Elisabeth, for helping us out! Noodle is a doll but my little dogs refused to let him into the "pack".

If anyone is looking for a sweet doxie pup, let me know. We'll have him listed on Petfinder soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm very lucky to have a wonderful mother. My mother can make or fix almost anything. I remember when I was little, I'd come up with some ideas for a Halloween costume ("I wanna be a TV!") and when I'd wake up on Halloween, there would be some amazing, Hollywood-quality construction hanging up in the bathroom, that she'd worked on all night.

My mom raised three compassionate, capable kids, and I hope to be like her when I grow up.

Pictured is my mom at my wedding, getting her first grandchild (she has 4 now, with another on the way!) ready. Those are tiny little curlers in her tiny little pigtails. Oh, and mom put together the little white dress to my specifications.

You know who I don't like? (a new series)

I don't like people who drive really close to me when I'm bicycling down the road. It's rude. I'm owed a whole lane, and I prefer you not compromise my safety because you're in a hurry. Take the freaking highway, why don't you?

Seriously, though, if I hit a rock or pothole, I might move over an extra six inches, and it's very messy and expensive for you if you hit me. Does that convince you?

I want to get one of those sticky, gummy hands and swat people with it when they're within swatting distance. I'm trying to figure out how to put a note on there that says, "TOO CLOSE!"

Joe thinks I'm nuts.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

This cracks me up

Joe has a habit of raising his voice on the phone. It's not that he's angry, and he doesn't do it on purpose. It's like he thinks he needs to be loud because the person on the phone is far away...

Right now, he's talking to a vendor that screwed up, so I'm not going to tell him he's yelling. hee hee

Lilacs. I love 'em.

They remind me of childhood, and they smell like my birthday.

Did I mention my birthday's coming up? I'll be 29 or so on May 23. Don't worry, I'll remind you before then.

Lilacs, though. Mmmmmmm. I painted the whole office lilac, I love them so.

Friday, May 9, 2008

How I book ritzy hotels cheaply

Joe and I stayed at the Intercontinental on Michigan Avenue (in Chicago) last week, and we paid very little to do so. Some friends have been asking about how I get my killer travel deals, so I thought I'd share.

I first check, which finds deals for me that I couldn't easily find on my own. I like Starwood hotels (Sheraton, Westin, and W) best, and if I book directly, I get points toward free travel. Sidestep also gives me a ballpark figure for hotels in the area, on my dates. Be sure to sort by price, or star rating, not by featured hotels or whatever odd thing the default is.

Next, I check and I only look at 4-star hotels or higher. I'm a stickler about this - I learned the hard way. The catch is you don't find out the name of the hotel until you pay. So then I use to check out the list of Hotwire hotels. They list hotels by Hotwire's criteria (location and amenity), so you can make a very good guess as to which property you're actually getting for a certain price, before you pay. Once or twice, I did get a surprise, when Hotwire added a new property, or changed the star rating or amenities for a hotel. That is a risk, but it's kinda fun, like a grab bag!

Then, once I have a good idea which hotel or hotels I'll end up with, I check those out on (awesome site if you don't already use it) to see what the hotel is like, what's nearby, how much parking is (sometimes up to $50/night in Chicago, and not included in the cost of the room through Hotwire), if there's a "resort fee" added on, etc. Often, you can find, in their reviews, what people paid for that hotel on Hotwire or Priceline, which is nice.

On Tripadvisor, keep in mind there will always be some disgruntled people. If the majority of reviewers say a hotel was dirty, I believe them, but if one person says they didn't like it because bottled water was $4, or because the valet was rude to them, I may discount their review. You just can't please all of the people all of the time.

Only then do I book a hotel. I average $80-150 for very nice hotels everywhere, except NYC which is pricier, and you can probably do better off Hotwire.

It's quite the process sometimes, so you have to be really cheap or find surfing relaxing. But I probably save thousands of dollars a year this way, which means I can eat well when I get to my destination, or travel more.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bad blogger!

We've been so busy gearing up for our wedding season that I've been a very bad blogger. I promise to post something every day for the rest of the month of May. Now y'all just have to come back and check up on me.

Get your own funny church sign here.