Saturday, June 26, 2010

Viva Las Vegas

Hola from sunny and sweltering Las Vegas. I’m in town for the RESNA conference – two days of meetings, and two days of conference/exhibit as well as my very own poster presentation.


Yesterday morning I woke up early to fly down wth my boss. He has his own little plane, and so he, his wife, daughter, and stacked up our luggage and hopped in. It was a beautiful 2 hour flight. Everything looks so different from an airplane viewpoint. Rivers and mountains become swirling and branching patterns. Houses, cars, and swimming pools look like miniature replicas like a model train set. Clouds are no longer floating above you, but soaring past your windows or below you – like a blanket of white cotton.


We landed at the N. Las Vegas airport and were welcomed by a thick wave of heat. The airport was almost empty, so I took advantage of the lack of inquiring eyes to take a couple pictures.

Our hotel was off in the distance, a good 15-25 minute drive from the strip. But it was still enormous and beautiful. The perimeter was loaded with palm trees and exotic fountains and fire displays. Inside the hotel, it was just as fancy. They had gigantic chandeliers, shiny tile, large art pieces, double arching staircases, and rich red velvet enclosing a lounge area. We checked our luggage, grabbed some food, and headed out to valet to collect the car to go exploring.

It was too hot outside so I flipped around to head back inside to wait outside of the heat. As I did, a woman exiting the hotel caught my eye. I stopped dead in my tracks, did a double take and shouted “Bianca?!” She glanced over and froze. We both stood there for a few seconds, dumbfounded before coming to our senses. Bianca and I lived a few blocks apart during elementary school in Lake Tahoe. She and I were best friends – we danced together, had sleepovers and playdates, etc. etc. We were “bonk bonk” and “harm harm.” Both her family and mine had moved from Tahoe to Carson, within a few months or years of each other. Then a few years later her family moved to Las Vegas, and I hadn’t seen her since. We found each other on facebook a few years back, but hadn’t really kept in touch.

So to my surprise, of all the hotels in Vegas, of all the people at that hotel, of all the moments in time to get the car… it was that moment that she had stopped by to grab a coffee and I had decided it was too hot – we bumped into each other. We caught up shortly while my group waited for the car, exchanged numbers and then went on our ways. We’ll catch up more when we grab lunch or coffee before I leave.

The rest of the afternoon was long and tiring – too many places, hot hot heat, and not-so-great-for-walking shoes. When we finally returned to the hotel (9:30p) I was worn out and cranky and couldn’t help but think to myself that my afternoon had been a exhausting waste of time. But then I remembered that if I had decided to stay at the hotel and not go out and about, I never would have run into Bianca… and so it was all worth it.

Plus I got to see the street characters – you know the people that dress up like famous people or characters and work based on tips. I saw an awesome Jack Sparrow, Iron Man, Batman, Elvis, and a couple Michael Jacksons. If I were going to be a street character I’d either be a robot like character – like Transformers or Iron Man, or a pirate.

My hotel room is gorgeous. If it had a kitchen, I’d move in permanently. The bedroom area is spacious, beautiful colors, a large flat screen tv, bose radio system, desk, beds, chaise lounge, and benches. The bed is incredible. Super soft down pillows, incredibly high thread count white sheets, and a pillow-top or down topped mattress. I felt like a princess. The bathroom is probably my favorite part. Two sinks, bathtub with tv mounted to the wall, hidden toilet, and tiled shower. Plus they gave me shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, facial soap, oatmeal soap, sewing kit, and a few other odds and ends. [I don’t know about all of you, but one of my favorite parts of staying in hotels is the little toiletries you get to use and can take home… I love them so much, I hide each day’s in my bag so they’ll give me more! Ssshhh don’t tell, k?]

By the time I went to bed last night I was thoroughly exhausted. I sunk down into the deep pillows and fell asleep in an instant, and didn’t wake up until my AM alarm [despite a band playing at a pool party outside and down 15 floors].

Today was completely booked with meetings, a short lunch break, and some diner. I drank a ton of water, and iced tea. I was up and down visiting the little girl’s room. And although I probably consumed a gallon or two of water, it’s hot down here, so it’s okay. For dinner we went to Hatchi, an Asian restaurant. The architecture and design was absolutely stunning. An original Takashi Murakami large wall piece was along one wall. The opposite wall had huge framed prints of cherry blossoms. There were glass flowers hanging from the ceiling, and fun textures and shapes all around the walls. I ordered a couple sushi rolls. My food came out last, but it was worth the wait. It was the best sushi I’ve ever eaten. Jeff and I love to go to Ming’s in Carson. But this sushi made Ming’s sushi look like it was store bought junk. Incredible. I think I might go back there for dinner another night before I head out [if I can… and I really hope I can].

Tomorrow morning will be another day of meetings - I’m so bummed I can’t play hooky and go to church :(

Anyway.. I can’t believe how quickly my time down here is flying by. I’m staying for nights, and tonight is already my second night! [ that means 2 more days of free toiletries! ;) ]


Friday, June 18, 2010

The Grimm Family(ies)

A couple weekends back I had the lovely pleasure of doing some quick family portraits and a couple business headshots for the Grimm Family. My dear friend Elizabeth (who was my maid of honor) married a fantastic man a couple years back. They live an hour or so away so we don't get to hang out much, but we still keep in touch and get together when we can.

Her husband recently graduated from the fire academy (Elizabeth is so excited to have a firefighter for a husband) and they were going to hold a graduation party for him. She called me up a few days beforehand to ask about my availability for a large family portrait shoot in July and told me she'd call me back once she'd coordinated between the two families. When she called me back she asked if I could just do it during the graduation party... which normally I'd be inclined to say no.. as I wouldn't want to take away 15 people from the party for an hour shoot. However, they just wanted some low key standing posed portraits and said there was a creek/river nearby the house. So I agreed.

The creek ended up being much uglier than we had both anticipated, so we just shot in their front yard, which had some beautiful green grass and green shrubs and trees. We cycled through the business shots and then the family portraits pretty quickly. They were hilarious. I tried to position them by having them mirror my actions, but it didn't catch on at first and they all had fun laughing at each other. Elizabeth had instructed them to all avoid patterns or screened shirts, and so the families opted for bright or pastel spring colors, which I was thrilled about. [don't get me wrong I think family portraits with matching white or black is classic.. but mixmatched bright colors is lively!]


I owe Elizabeth a HUGE thank you/shout out as she is my number one referer (is that even a word?) - just today she called to tell me she had a wedding for me in late July! I LOVE YOU ELIZABETH!! (And congrats, again, Justin on your graduation from the fire academy!)

20100606_Grimm-FP_03 blog

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moving slowly

I'm at a point where everything is waiting for me to take the next step, but I am frozen, waiting, or unsure.

I'm beginning to come to grips with the idea that I'm done with college... Meaning it's time to do something, be something, to figure things out. And I'm starting, but I'm moving do slowly it's almost like I'm not moving at all.

I'm ready to take on more commisioned photography, so I'm working on setting up an llc, getting a business license... The whole legit package. I'm also ready to start making more art and art/craft and selling/exhibiting. I am so excited to pursue my art, and really begin working to make it my full-time endeavor. But I can't just quit my office job... so I'm trying to start up everything in my spare time. It's exhausting.

There are so many things I want to do... With my art, with my house, & with my life at this moment. And since I'm trying to do it all at once, I end up doing very little of any.

It's been 1 month since I graduated. I'm ready to buy my next camera and a new computer, but I haven't because I haven't had a chance to sit down and make sure I have everthing squared away. My art production has slowed to null. I'm inspired, but also tired and (to be honest) lazy. I have 2-5 months of backlogged 365 pictures to edit... But I have mixed feelings about finally getting to them... It's almost like I'm revisiting the past when I should be actively working in the present instead.

Part of my issue is that my office is a disaster (I kid you not it looks like it was torn apart by a tornado or a pack of sugar-hyped toddlers). I have a small OCD tendency and cannot whatsoever work in a messy office. And so I've been working in the living room, and dining room... and avoiding cleaning my office. I hope things will be easier once it's cleaned and organzied and I'll have my own workspace again.

This fantastic summer weather also isn't helping. I want to go outside to do work, but none of the things I need to do can be done outside... Except reading, but my old hammock broke and I haven't found a replacement (if anyone has one they want to sell or knows of a place selling them for a reasonable price... Let me know!!)

But I digress. I hope that these next few weeks/months will prove to be productive, and that I'll be able to share old and new work with you, along with exciting announcements and plans!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homemade Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting

Blueberry Cupcake - Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting

So as I promised, here's the recipe for my homemade blueberry cupcakes with lemon whipped cream frosting. Something inside of me fights giving out yummy recipes like this. [ I guess I'm a little selfish and think that by keeping it to myself, I'm the only one who can make delicious treats... ] But since I like when people share recipes with me, I'll share this with you!

If you try it - let me know how they turn out! ;]

Blueberry Cupcakes
1/2 c butter, melted
1 ½ c sugar
3 c flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 egg
1 c milk
2 t vanilla extract (or lemon extract)
2 c fresh blueberries (washed and floured)

- preheat oven to 375 degrees
- line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners
- combine butter & sugar
- in another bowl, sift flour, baking powder, & salt
- add dry ingredients into wet ingredients
- add egg, milk, & extract
- fold in blueberries
- fill paper liners 3/4 full
- bake for 15 min & check
- in needed, bake an additional 5-10 mins, until toothpick comes out clean

Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting
2 c whipping cream
5-6 t sugar (to taste)
~1/4 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
~1 T grated lemon zest

- chill bowl and whisk attachment until cold
- pour cream into bowl, whisk on med-high until it starts to thicken
- slow speed to medium and gradually add sugar and lemon zest
- continue to whisk until soft peaks form
- add lemon juice & whisk by hand until its smooth & stiff peaks form (meaning that when you raise the whisk, the cream will stand up)
- you can frost by hand, or pipe it onto the cupcakes

These cupcakes also taste delicious with lemon cream cheese frosting. That recipe is in my cookbook! [ I don't think I've posted pics for it yet either, but I will, soon... or eventually! ]

Enjoy!!! ...and let me know how yours turn out!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sugar Withdrawls

frozen yogurt [blog]

For the last few weeks I've been feeling completely and utterly BLEH. For the last few months I've felt off, but since Single's Conference I've just felt horrible. Jeff and I volunteered at Single's Conference as chaperones. The first night the dinner that was served by the conference center was penne pasta with chicken in a broccoli alfredo sauce. It was delicious, but a select few of our group got sick. One girl threw up, a few others had tummy aches. I got really bad indigestion and then nausea. Since then, no matter what I eat it I get bloated and really bad indigestion and tummy aches. Now I'll admit I haven't been eating great. I eat way to much sugar, lots of breads and chips and other crap. I eat because I'm bored or whenever I crave anything. So its no wonder I feel like junk.

In the last few months I've heard about multiple different food plans (diets if you must) to help people eat healthier, eat based on heritage (eat for your blood type), identify foods you have an intolerance to (elimination or rotation diet), cleanse, renew, etc. etc. So I started looking at these and its really crazy how food can affect you. Since these past few weeks I've been feeling like crap, I decided it was time to figure out what I eat that my body can't handle. I was looking at the elimination diet first. The premise is that you cut out the majority of foods that are commonly allergy or intolerance triggers in people. You eat a very basic food plan until your symptoms go away, then add one food back in each week or so and see how your body reacts. Its a great way to figure out what foods individual people react to. However, since it is designed for the general population (not specialized for individual people) it cuts out everything! I started reading the list of what you can't eat, and compared it to what you can.. and came to the conclusion it would be impossible for me to try at this moment. You can't have any dairy, wheat or breads, pastas, legumes, chicken beef or pork, most fish, most fruits, etc. Basically you eat lamb and pears - exotic but not cheap or easy to follow. (I don't think I've ever tried lamb...) I was also looking at doing a cleanse, but just for a weekend (not a whole week or 10 days like some people do). It seems like the most common one is the water, lemon, maple syrub and chili pepper mixture.

Anyway, I really wanted to start identifying whatever was causing me to feel so yucky. Monday I decided I'd start by cutting out breads, chips, sugar, and processed foods to see if that helped at all. The first few days were rough. We have tons of bread/chips/desserts in my house and (knowing I couldn't eat them) I wanted to eat them even more! I went grocery shopping on Tuesday and bought lots of fruits and veggies and some dried fruits (which I reasoned would be my replacement for chips and desserts). I figured I should add something else into my food groups and so I bought some cottage cheese too. I hate cottage cheese. I've never been able to stand the texture of it. But I decided to give it another chance. I was able to fight it down with fresh blackberries. I hadn't really felt any different yet, but I figured it would take more than a couple days to allow my body to catch up.

Last night we went to my parents house for dinner [Happy Birthday Mom!]. We started talking about trying to eat better [they tried to do the elimination diet but couldn't stick to it] and my mom told me I might have a dairy or lactose intolerance (because she does, and her mom did, and so on). So I decided to cut out dairy as well, and today was my first day adding that into the mix - no milk, cheese, etc. I had a smoothie (homemade) for breakfast and then some roasted pepper tomato soup from trader joes for lunch. But partway through my soup I realized it was really creamy... and when I looked at the ingredient list - voila! First ingredient was milk fat. So today didn't work. But I plan on continuing with my cut out stuff and see if my body BLEH goes away.

Until then, I'll make it through. I turned down icecream last night and opted just for berries, and again today at work. I can do this! Hopefully I'll be able to identify what I can and can't eat!

In honor of not eating sweets... I'll be posting my recipe for Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting... to share with all of you! Check back!


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