Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Washington Pics

Thought I'd share a few more pictures from our time in Washington, so here you go!

We have more pics on the big camera but I took a few on our lil pocket camera too. Wanna see the famous Autumn, daughter of my fabulous friend Liz?

I so love her sunglasses :) We hiked up to the top of the bridge and Autumn got to ride on Uncle Lee's shoulders.

Oh yeah, they were good friends! Lee's actually pretty good at entertaining little kids. :) And since we are the ultra-cool Uncle Lee and Aunt Christy, we brought Autumn a present...

Yeah buddy, a Hello Kitty kimono! Isn't the expression on her face just totally hilarious?!

The bow is a separate piece from the sash; you just tie the sash on and the bow hooks on top of it. The whole thing is a little bit big on Autumn so the sash kept slipping down, but I guess that means that she'll be able to wear it for a longer time before she outgrows it, right?

Ok, I thought it was hilarious that I got a picture of her with the peace sign, but for some reason I can't get this one to load right, it keeps showing up sideways. Argh.

Isn't she a cutie?

Lee is still doing fine post-surgery; he just has to put drops in his eyes about a zillion times a day and after a while his eyes get tired and don't want to focus anymore. I've been doing my part to stimulate the economy of San Antonio...I still need to get myself to a Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and the cross stitch store I found thanks to Google (what on earth did we do before Google?). The only bad thing is that my shopping buddy (a.k.a. MOM) left to go back to Fort Worth today, how am I supposed to shop all by my onesies? Well, I won't be all by my onesies...Lee and Dad refuse to turn me loose in San Antonio by myself. So I'll just have to drag Lee along with me ;)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beware of Pirates

Arr, mateys! Here be the piratical pictures I promised ye. :D Ok, ok, enough pirate talk...

On Saturday, we landed in Seattle, went through customs, and then caught a shuttle out to Whidbey Island to visit my friend Liz whom I have not seen in about three years. We hit the ground running, too...as soon as we got to Liz's house, we had to shower and get ready to go out to a pirate-themed party. Maybe we were crazy to do that *immediately* after we landed in Seattle, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Ree in costume!! He's generally anti-costume :p

That's my awesome friend Liz on the left, then me and Ree, and Liz's friend Carla on the far right. I liked Liz and Carla's costumes better than mine and I am severely lacking in the footwear department but I didn't want to pack a whole 'nother set of shoes for this (we were trying to pack as lightly as possible so we could buy more clothes while we're here, hehehe!) And my pirate hat didn't photograph too well either (I envy Carla's fabulous chapeau), but at least I didn't have to worry about my hair being messed up. Liz's three-year-old daughter Autumn was reportedly a bit freaked out by Lee's (fake) long hair.

How do we look? Not at all threatening, huh....bwahahahaaaa! So anyway, the theme for this little shindig was all things piratey, BUT most of the attendees were actually in formal wear. And since we arrived *very* late, absolutely everyone was staring at us when we walked in...but Lee and I figured we don't know anyone but Liz and Carla, so who cares what anyone else thinks? We walked in with Attitude!

And here you can see what mondo amounts of jet lag plus rum will do to a pirate wench...I tease, I tease. Ok, so I was jet lagged, but I swore off the rum. I actually ended up being the DD and of course I kept hitting the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal--they're on opposite sides of the steering wheel since we drive on the left side of the road in Japan.

I miss Liz so much!! When we lived in North Carolina, she lived in the house directly behind mine so we were often spying on each other through our dining room windows :) It was cool that my cordless phone worked just fine in her house too, hehe! We're hoping to both go back to North Carolina in a year or two, so we'll see what happens. And I would definitely love to be next-door neighbors again so we can swap scrapbook supplies :D

Me and my sweetie pie. Y'know, I'm going to kind of miss those Clark Kent glasses...anyway, as I said, Lee usually doesn't go for the whole dress-up thing so I really appreciated him going along with the rest of us on this one. He was a really good sport.

Lee had his eye surgery this morning and he's doing just fine. We even went to breakfast at McDonald's right after he had it done, then we came back to our hotel room to sleep. I still haven't adjusted to the time change, I slept until 3 this afternoon :) Lee's got the good drugs to keep himself knocked out but I'm wide awake at 11:30 p.m. writing this blog post...well, my body still thinks it's 9:30 in the morning. Tomorrow morning. I think I'll go read a bit more from my textbook, that should help knock me out...and tomorrow my parents will get here!!! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Next Time I'll Walk, Thanks

I don't particularly like to fly. I have an issue with motion sickness (thanks Dad) so I tend to get a little green around the gills whenever things get even a little bumpy, particularly when the plane is descending to land. We had two flights yesterday, Seattle to Phoenix and then Phoenix to San Antonio. I got queasy on the descent into Phoenix so I was hoping for a two-hour layover in Phoenix followed by a 40-minute flight. What I got was a 40-minute layover that was just long enough to get off one plane and hoof it through the airport just in time to get on the next one, and then a 2-hour flight. Lee made sure that the barf bag was easily accessible but luckily I didn't need it. I just wasn't very good company on that second flight though since I was trying not to get sick. Yick!

I was soooooooooooooooooo happy to be back on solid ground by the time we touched down in Texas last night! I've already been to Target and Sonic because Ree is such an awesome guy, we asked for directions to Sonic when we rented our car and then when we were on our way to our hotel, he very kindly got off the highway and turned around when I spotted a Super Target so I could go pick up a couple of things. Yep, I love my sweetie pie. He's THAT cool.

We had a FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAbulous day and a half (well, probably less than that even) in Washington visiting Liz and her daughter Autumn before we took off for Texas. I've got pictures but until Lee gets back, I don't know how to get them loaded onto the laptop. I'll ask him how tonight since he's having the eye surgery tomorrow so it would be silly to ask after that :p Even then, I'll only be able to share pics from our little camera since our laptop would keel over and die if it had to deal with the big bad mamma-jamma camera, ha! But I'll at least post a few pics here so you know for sure that we ARE back in the States. Not sure why I'd try to pull your leg about that but maybe it's the lack of sleep talking...still not 100% acclimated to the time change. I didn't get up until 11:00 this morning and that was only because the alarm went off! Oops.

WARNING: Rant ahead!

WHO is it that decided it was okay for airlines to charge you to check bags?! 'Cause I want to write him a letter and tell him how much I dislike him...we got charged $40 to check two bags, one for each of us, and of course they'd charge us a whole lot more if either of those bags was overweight and that's on TOP of the airfare. C'mon, over the last several years airline ticket prices have gone up and up while the service they actually provide has gone down. They didn't serve any food on either of our flights yesterday but luckily we were smart enough to get food in the airport before we left Seattle (and SEVENTEEN dollars for two sandwiches? Ridiculous!). And the TSA agents really ARE incredibly rude. One agent told this guy ahead of us in the security checkpoint line that he had to go back and when the guy asked why (politely), the agent very snidely said "because I told you to." Wish I'd seen his nametag...tell you what, the "friendly skies" are most definitely a thing of the past. I can tell you one thing for certain, we won't be doing a whole lot of air travel in the future. And I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is not near so much hassle when traveling abroad, at least in Japanese airports. Arrgh.

Ok, I think it's time for me to take another nap or something. Thanks for listening (reading?) my rant if you got this far. Promise to be happier tomorrow...and I'll post pictures!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

So if all goes as planned, Ree and I will be leaving (reaving? nahh) on a jet plane tomorrow and we'll be in the States for about two weeks (the doglets will be living it up at Jamie's house while we're gone). First stop for us is Washington, where we get to see LIZ (and her daughter Autumn and her friend Jen whom I've never bet but I send her emails because she stamps). Second stop, San Antonio where Ree will get his eyes shot at by laserbeams and I get to go shopping with my mom for four days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And my dad, but he won't be as excited about the shopping part as Mom will. *I* am just a teensy bit excited about that shopping bit. Ok, so really, excited about the whole thing ('cept the lasers, I'm glad it's not me having laserbeams shot at my eyes). I actually made a list of things I want to shop for...hey, I get bored in class sometimes, and that keeps me from falling asleep. Bwahahaaa!

Thought I'd leave you all with one last photo before we start skipping time zones, here's a birthday card for the one, the only, the beautiful and amazing Vicki (there's a link to her blog, Canvasses of Poetry and Prose, on the right-hand sidebar).

This is Charlotte Ketto's first outing in my stamp collection, and also the first time I've dared cut up any of my Basic Grey Wisteria paper 'cause I like to hoard. Had to do it since Vicki and I both lurve the color purple (the actual hue, I've never seen the movie). Apparently the lighting in this house isn't any more flattering to my paper crafting creations than our hold house was, but you get the gist.

Now I've just got to go start packing...luckily, I also started a list of things to pack so I hopefully won't forget anything. Class is a great time to write lists. I hope that the next time you see me on here, I'll have some pictures from the States to share! :D

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Totally Amazing Packing Ninjas

I meant to blog about this over the weekend but I ran out of time...we are in our new house! The Amazing Japanese Packing Ninjas came and got all our stuff on Thursday and brought it over to the new house that same day--Ree said it took them less than three hours to pack up all our stuff. The new place is pretty much the same layout as the old one, without the blue tile that Ree so despised in the kitchen and bathrooms, and we now have a dining room tacked on to the front of the house instead of having the living area do double duty. Here's some pics:

The dining room...you can see the dog bowls in the front there, so at least the dogs will dine in the dining room on a regular basis (Ree and I are heathens, we eat in front of the TV). Still have that uber-ugly dining room furniture though...it's not ours (I would never BUY something that ugly) but it's on loan to us for as long as we're living on Okinawa. Bleah. But anyway...

There's the kitchen, or at least half of it (it's L-shaped like our last one was). Just to the right are the doors to the laundry room which is actually its own little closet, so that's nice. We have brand new appliances too, and I put up my calendar from Tony's on the fridge...for those of you who don't know, Tony's is the best Italian restaurant in Texas. I'm sad I won't get to go there while we're in the States next week. And do you see what's on the little display area in the upper left of that picture?

My kokeshi doll collection!! Ok, so I have a couple other dolls that didn't really fit there, but most of them are on display here. I want to get a nice display case/curio cabinet for them, and since we now have more space in the living room thanks to the separate dining room, I have a place to put another piece of furniture!

Here's Ree, just chillin' and watching Chronicles of Narnia. Back behind the couch in the corner is our chofa (oversize chair...it's an elision of chair and sofa) and the other corner to the right is empty right now. Yep, big honkin' curio cabinet thing is gonna have to go right there.

Hey look, it's my cutie pie Vader! He's digging the new house.

There's my girl Sadie hanging out in the hallway, and she's already coated everything in the house with a fine dusting of dog hair. Well, it wouldn't be home otherwise. Now onto the most important room of the house...

My craft room! The chofa used to be in here in the old house, but now we have enough space for it to live downstairs so I have lots of extra room in here. Niiiiiiiiiiiice. I got everything all organized and set up how I like it on Sunday but so far I haven't gotten to actually stamp anything in there yet.

So there's my stamp storage cabinets, and the white plastic drawer thingie has my cross stitch stuff inside (most of my stitching stuff is in storage, so everything I brought with me fits in that thing). Those two cabinets don't hold ALLLL my SU stamps, but they've got most of 'em in there. The rest of them are in some bins in the closet.

Yeah, closet. This is only the right half since you can't see it all at one time due to sliding doors. We lost some overhead storage space that we had in the old house, but we've managed to make everything fit here.

And here's the room where I am right now, the computer room. So yep, that's the new house...I figured no one really needed to see bathrooms or the master bedroom or inside the washer/dryer closet or anything :p To celebrate our move to the new house I had to get...

another kokeshi doll, bwahahahaaaa! Now I just need that big curio cabinet so I have a great place to display her and all her friends. And because we weren't busy enough over the weekend, Amber and I had our toes done at Cocok's with the Silent K!

I let her talk me into stripes again. She got the same design so we are still Toe Twinkies. I'm not 100% sure I like this as much as the green stripes but I think it's eye-catching and fun. Too bad I only have one blue shirt that matches this...ok I'm about to be late to class, so check you later peeps!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dogs, Dolls, and...why doesn't "Cards" start with a D? It's messing up my alliteration.

Jamie got back to the island earlier this week and was reunited with her puppy dog Raven, but we still have another visitor in the house:


That's Maggie, snoozing with Vader who is such a sweetie that he gets along with everybody. Maggie and Sadie are both bossy britches, so Ree and I have to referee between them rather frequently, despite Maggie being half Sadie's size (no actual fighting, but a fair amount of growling and the good ol' Elvis Lip). We've had Maggie since last Sunday and I think that she's kind of getting used to us and Sadie though, she's loosened up a lot in the last week. We'll only have her for a few more days I think.

Next week we'll be moving into our new house, I think they move all our furniture and stuff on Thursday. Honestly I'm a teensy bit stressed out about this even though Lee keeps telling me not to be...it's a lot of work to move (even if it is just a short distance) and it will take us time to get unpacked and reorganized. Plus I start a new class next week (Theory and Ideology of International Relations...don't you wish you could be this fascinated?) and then we're hoping to leave here in two weeks to go back to the States for Lee's eye surgery thing (the whole thought of having surgery on one's EYES still gives me the heeby-jeebies in a big way, so better him than me!) Never a dull moment here.

Oh yeah, we *almost* got our first typhoon last week. Then the stupid thing turned and hit Taiwan instead. Is it too much to ask that we get just a teeny tiny little typhoon so we get a day or two off work and I can say I've experienced one? Watch, if we go to the States then they'll get a typhoon here on Okinawa while we're gone. :p

Anyway, week before last at work just really wore me out and since I worked so hard, I figured I deserved a new addition to my kokeshi doll collection. So I went shopping. Three DAYS I went shopping, and I just couldn't find a doll that really caught my eye...I was starting to think that I was losing my kokeshi doll shopping touch. Perish the thought! And then I found her.

Ok, the lighting is terrible because it's already nighttime here but trust me when I say she's twenty times cuter IRL, kay? 'Cause she is. The delightful cherries on her outfit, the sweet expression on her face thanks to those eyelashes...the totally freakin' adorable PIGTAILS!! Yeah, baby. I haven't lost my touch.

Anyway, last month I sent a few more dolls to Vicki (I think I should feel guilty for spawning such an addiction....nah, it's nice to have company!!) Vicki mentioned once that she loves hydrangeas so when I saw these dolls I knew they had to be hers:

I need one of these for my collection. You can't see it in the picture (hope that the new house has better lighting than this one) but there's a smidge of glitter on the flowers. And I love the yellow. I finally got a bunch of clothes I ordered in the mail today, and one thing I got was a yellow tank top :) And an orange shirt! I also got one that has hot pink and white stripes, and Lee told me I looked like a candy cane so I threw a pillow at him.

But I digress. There was another hydrangea-licious kokeshi doll to be had!

Isn't she sweet? She's got some silver on her flowers. Hmm, come to think of it, I need to get this one for my collection too...I don't remember seeing her when I was out searching for my next doll. You know what that means, right? Means I have to go shopping again!! Bwahahahaaaaa!

Anyway, I haven't had the chance to do much stamping lately and it's been bumming me out (see, I coulda stamped if that typhoon had hit here like it was supposed to so I could get an extra day or two off work!!!) so last weekend Lee told me to let the house stay un-vacuumed and go in my craft room and get something creative done. So I did. I needed a few birthday cards for this month and since they should very shortly reach their destinations, I shall go ahead and share them here.

I got a big ol' honkin' box full of new SU goodies, and I hadn't gotten to play with them and they'd been sitting here for like three weeks! So of course I got the new Asian set, Dream Gardens, and I had to use it for one of the birthday cards. I stamped the lady in Chocolate Chip craft ink and heat embossed it with clear embossing powder on top of some patterned paper (Bella Birds by SU, which is now retired). In fact, all three patterns are from the same pack of paper...that's the great thing about how SU sells their paper, the sheets in each pack all coordinate with each other. Anyway, I really liked the way this turned out with the pattern showing in the design on her kimono and fan. So yay.

But wait, there's more!

This was last week's color challenge on Splitcoast, I liked the colors together. Nice and bright. The stamp set is one of the Level 3 hostess sets called Kind & Caring Thoughts, and it's one I pre-ordered because I don't spend enough at one time to get a Level 3 hostess set on my own. I almost didn't get it, and I'm so glad I changed my mind, I really like it. I still have several other stamp sets that I haven't inked up yet, so I hope to do that tomorrow. 'Specially since next weekend I will be reorganizing my stuff in my new house! Oooh, I've got a BUNCH of Stamping Bella stamps that I haven't used yet....including Kettos!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shuri Castle, Now In Amazing Technicolor!

I realize it's been quite a while since I posted any cool pics of Japanese stuff, but really, we haven't been anywhere since I started working :( A while back though, a friend of Lee's was here on the island for a little bit and they went to Shuri Castle one weekend, so Lee took a few pictures while they were there. He found out about this photo software to make HDR pictures, which stands for High Dynamic Range...basically you take three pictures of the same shot, one at normal exposure, one under-exposed and one over-exposed, and then you use this software to meld the three photos into one. Looks kinda like this...

They were doing some kind of repair work on the left side of the building, that's why Lee only photographed the right side. Anyway, you can also take out color, which I think is a pretty neat effect:

Or make the color extra saturated, like this:

Pretty cool, huh? We may have to buy the software at some point...Lee was messing around with the freebie tryout but it puts a watermark on the photos unless you buy the software. Lee found out about this whole process from Okinawa Living magazine; there's a photographer who's featured regularly in that magazine who does this and the pictures come out looking SO cool. As I understand it, you would use this technique if you're trying to take a picture where you can't get everything properly exposed at the same time--like on this one, if the building looked right, then the sky was pretty much whited out; if the sky looked right, then the building was too dark. So you take several exposures and squish 'em together for this look, and it has this slightly surreal painterly quality to it.

Anyway, it is now 10:00 at night and we are going to bed as soon as the dryer is finished with the dog blanket that's in there now. 4:30 is going to get here mighty early...and this week will probably be a doozie at work. Night night, peeps!