Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cherry Blossoms 2010

I was planning to post pictures from Cocok's with the silent K, but I think some of you out there might like non-feet pictures better, so here are a few of the shots we took today at the Nago cherry blossom festival. We were supposed to have a pretty big group but in the end it was just Missy plus me and Lee. Just so you know: none of these pictures have been edited at all. The only thing I did was convert them to jpegs and then I resized them so they'd be smaller and load faster on the blog. Prepare to be amazed by our photography skillz!

I think this was one of the first shots Lee took. The festival takes place at the Nago castle ruins, which are on a big hill with several hundred steps up to the top (I never have seen any castle ruins, just the steps). There are quite a few of these big concrete whozits along the stairs.

One of my first shots of the day :) Sometimes we can remember who took which picture, sometimes we can't. So until we get a second big nice camera (and I learn how to set the exposure and f-stop and all that stuff on my own) we generally share credit for our photos. Hehe!

Lee set the tripod to take this one. This was a flat area about halfway up the hill and it's where most of the trees seemed to be in bloom.

My artsy bud photograph :)

The cherry blossoms here ranged from very pale pink (almost white) to deep rosy pink, and sometimes there was color variation on the same tree.

I noticed today that it seems like most of the cherry blossoms point downwards, so to get the best pictures you kind of have to get under them and point the camera upwards.

This is Lee's artsy shot for the day, and both Missy and I agree it's one of our favorites.

Missy found several small bunches of cherry blossoms on the ground so she put them together in a tiny bouquet. You can see a lot of the color variation here.

I wish the sky wasn't whited out in this picture, but what can you do...it rained some early this morning and we happened to be at the festival when it cleared off somewhat; when we left, there were some pretty dark clouds close by so we just missed getting rained on.

We climbed over the railing of the stairway to get to where these trees were, and in doing so we started a trend--several other groups saw what we were doing and hopped the fence to do their own pictures. I think this might go in our Christmas cards this year.

So there you have it, some of our favorite photos for the day. I'm glad we got to do this again this year and that we got some good pics with us in them this time...we got fabulous flower pictures last year but no good ones with us. This year was our last chance for cherry blossom pictures so I'm pretty pleased with what we got. I found out today that the orchid show that Lee and I went to last year will be going on from February 6-14, so Missy and I may go check that out :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Japanese Art of Flower Arrangement

Today, Missy helped me find a new and interesting way to procrastinate on writing my paper...she took Jamie and me out to an ikebana exhibition before we met up with Amber and Jenni at Cocok's with the silent k for pedicures. Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement and that's pretty much all we knew about it when we got there. A very nice lady explained some of the fundamentals of the art form to us:

Missy's boss's wife (who gave her the tickets) said that there are different levels of ikebana, kind of like how you have different color belts in karate (I think "black belt flower arranger" would sound kind of cool on a resume, don't you?). Along this wall are the arrangements by the most experienced people in this group, and the lady explained to us that doing the minimalist arrangements is the most difficult. I can believe it, there are a lot of art forms where simple is much harder to do...you have to make sure everything balances correctly. The lady explained to us that there are certain rules to be followed for traditional ikebana arrangements, and how they use their hands to bend the branches into the shapes they want. She told us a lot of other stuff too but since I had one of my infamous low-level all-day headaches I don't remember a lot more of what she said.

Anyway, I did take a bunch of pictures, but the lighting wasn't great and I don't usually mess around a lot with the camera settings, so while the pictures aren't the best you'll at least get the general idea of what we saw. This is one of the minimalist ikebana...looks like a bird of paradise with banana leaves. This kind of thing makes me wish I knew more about plants and could identify more flowers.

The rest of the arrangements that I took pictures of are by the students, so they have a lot more going on. On the next one, I liked how the wooden container loops around and is a big part of the design. We saw lots of lilies today.

The flowers on this one were a beautiful mauve color...I've noticed that our little camera has trouble photographing purples true-to-life. I took some pictures of some purple-tipped carnations and they came out much more blue-violet than royal purple. The mauve color on this one isn't too far off, though.

I liked the loops on this one. Anyone out there know what the yellow flowers are?

Loved the vibrant pinks and yellows on this one. At least I know that the pink flowers are roses :)

This one was much prettier in real life, and it was huge. It was fun to walk around it to get the full effect. Cherry blossoms and lilies!

Here's Jamie and Missy with one we dubbed the "flamingoes of paradise"...we think the flowers are birds of paradise but they look like flamingoes to us. That's our story and we're sticking to it.

This was the first arrangement we saw as it was immediately to the left when we entered the room. I wish the picture was better but this is all I've got...this arrangement was enormous and filled with cherry blossoms (we're going to Nago to see the cherry blossoms tomorrow!)

It also had the coolest-looking flowers in it:

The nice lady told us they're some new type of dahlia. We thought they looked like fireworks.

I also took a number of close-ups of flowers, you know how I love to do that :) How about a pink lily?

And here's another one...

I don't think I took a picture of the entire arrangement for this next one, but I liked the lime green juxtaposed with the deep pink:

My favorite Georgia O'Keeffe picture of the day:

Some lovely red roses and...um...smaller flowers of some type?

And finally, something with ruffles:

So there you have it. I was originally going to post our Cocok's pictures today too, but I think this post is long enough already as well as picture-heavy. So the toe pics will be coming soon, followed shortly thereafter by cherry blossom pictures. And hopefully at some point this week I'll have a finished paper. Ha!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Some Cool & Amazing Gifts

So a couple days ago I shared the most important facet of my birthday shindig with ya'll: the awesomely wonderful people I got to hang out with (Mom, sorry you couldn't be here but you know you're awesomely wonderful too). Today I thought I'd share some of the awesomely wonderful gifts that I got for my birthday :) First up from my mommy!

Yes, she cross stitched this. Isn't it so cool? I love the beautiful bright blue and orange. I really, really want to decorate a bathroom around this picture because for some reason I want to hang it up in a guest bathroom. Anyway, Mom said she fell in love with this design as soon as she saw it, and I'm sure it reminded her of the feeding frenzy at the koi pond in the botanical gardens. I know I said this before, but it's awesome. I just want to stare at it for an hour or two :)

Next up, Jamie gave me this...

Funny story about this tea set. Connie's birthday was less than a week before mine, and I got her this same tea set for *her* birthday, and I was thinking about getting another one to give to Jamie for her birthday next month. J said she got it for me because she knew I didn't have one, but she didn't know that while I was shopping for Connie, I just had to get myself this one:

So that whole thing just cracks me up. Except for the part where I now have to come up with a different idea for what to get Jamie for her birthday :)

And you know that my birthday just wouldn't be complete without some kokeshi dolls, right?

And these two are sooooooo cool! The one on the left is from Connie, and the one on the right is from Missy. I'd had my eye on both of them for a long time but had never bought either...Vicki, the snow doll is one I really want to get for you sooner or later since you have snow where you live. And I'd picked out the cherry blossom doll to buy myself as a prezzie for when I finish writing this stupid paper that still isn't done. So now I need to pick out a new enticement to finish writing that thing, huh? (I can hear Lee now saying "Noooooooooooo!")

Here's one more because I have no self-control ;)

I was shopping for Tiana's birthday and I found this one and it was just SO cute and not expensive at all and it's Baylor colors and it was the last one so I had to get it. I got the shishi dogs on the left when we went to Shuri Castle last year with Lee's parents, aren't they hilarious? They live on my desk at work. Lee totally busted me on the kokeshi doll too, I left it at work and I was going to toss the box in the Harry Potter closet where the rest of my kokeshi doll boxes are, but he saw the box in my car before I could dispose of the evidence. He thinks I have a gracious plenty and need no more kokeshi dolls. I say that our house wouldn't look cluttered at all if we'd just find a curio cabinet to put them all in.

Here's one more item that came to live on my desk today, but is now gracing my dining room table at home:

I got this beautiful bouquet from two of the guys in our office, the same ones who gave Connie her bouquet. They knew the lilies made my head go all icky so no lilies. LOVE the bright orange and yellow flowers, how 'bout a closer look?

The roses are kind of an orangey coral color, so pretty!

Love that picture, the big yellow flower looks like some type of lotus. I know I took pictures of similar flowers at the botanical gardens...no clue what the little white flowers are.

There were a few bright red daisies in the mix, too. Oh, I forgot to take a picture of the yellow orchids that remind me of Belle's dress in Beauty & the Beast. Click on the picture of the whole bouquet and you'll see them off to the right.

Dang, I just realized I forgot to take a picture of the Jim Shore Tinker Bell that my mom gave me. She's adorable, she's sitting on top of a block (which is also a little container you could put jewelry or something else small in) and laughing. I need to break out the macro lens on the big camera and take pictures of my Tink collection; I have six different ones here and I think one more at my parents' house. Those need to go on their very own scrapbook layout, don't you think? (At the rate I'm going I think the kokeshi dolls will be their very own album, hehe!) I also got a really cool interactive Nancy Drew book from Lee's parents and a Wizard of Oz book so I'll have plenty of reading material when we get on the plane to go to Sapporo in two weeks. Eeee!

Got a busy weekend planned...we're doing pedicures at Cocok's on Saturday and then Sunday we're heading up to Nago for the cherry blossom festival, so more fun pics are sure to arrive soon on the ol' bloggypoo. I'm sure we'll take a zillion at Sapporo too! But for now I'm going to bed :p

Monday, January 25, 2010

29 with 1 Year of Experience

Do not listen to my mother or my husband...I just turned 29 with one year of experience, *not* 30! Lee has to turn 30 first ;) So how about some birthday pics?

I've talked about her several times, so here's a picture of my partner in crime, Connie! We share an office at work and chatter all day while we listen to my iPod (we're both big 80s fans). Sometimes we actually get some work done, too.

Two of the guys who work in our building got her that beautiful bouquet for her birthday on the 19th, isn't it fabulous? The lilies were gorgeous but unfortunately after a while they make me go all muzzy-headed. Anyway, Connie was responsible for the following bit of awesomeness:

Yep, I got a Star Trek cake for my birthday. Like I said, awesome!

Since my birthday was actually on Sunday, we invited a bunch of people over to grill hamburgers and chicken, and Dean & Jamie brought over their Wii for us to play. Here is Missy preparing to kick my butt at swordfighting.

Jamie and Tiana, who were on the same Wii bowling team:

And here's Steven and Andi, concentrating very hard on trying to beat each other at swordfighting. Andi said that she thinks they should use that game to settle any and all disputes in their house; whoever wins the swordfight wins the argument :)

After we had Wii'd till we could Wii no mo' (and we wanted cake) I got TWO more birthday cakes. Jamie made a mojito cake and Missy made a triple chocolate cake with chocolate-covered raspberries. Don't think I got a real good picture of the cake Missy made (but it sure tasted good!) so here's the one Jamie made:

Pay no attention to the candles for they are WRONG!!!!!!

I also had to get some pictures of my four-legged birthday party guests. Here's my sweet little Vee, the cuddle monkey dog:

Isn't he adorable in his party hat?! And here's sassy little Bee, who surprised us all and behaved herself admirably all evening, I'm so proud of her because usually she goes all crazy and gets locked in the bathroom...

I think she was hoping for cake. Or maybe hamburger. Or maybe people food of any kind. Jamie and Dean also brought Raven over, and I figured out how to get three dogs' undivided attention at the same time while taking a picture:

Hold treats above the camera. Works like a charm.

Speaking of charm, here's my awesome sweetie-pie, Lee!

I love that shirt, my mom sent it to me. It says "Rotten and I love it!" and it looks like Maleficent is staring at the gorgeous necklace Lee gave me for my birthday. Can't blame her, it's bee-yoo-tiful! So yep, that's what we did for my birthday. We also destroyed an Elmo pinata, but you'll have to ask Lee about that one ;)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kickin' It Rockettes Style

Jamie and I did a TurboKick (kickboxing) class tonight and as part of the turbo section, the teacher had us dancing the cancan, Rockettes style. Hilarity ensued, but unfortunately I have neither photographic nor video proof of this event. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I am proud to say that while my paper remains in the same state I left it last time I posted (read: way far from being done), I *did* finish up not one, not two, but threeeeeee layouts for my scrapbook! So here they are:

K, so the only thing that's changed is I wrote on the white bit. I won't chatter about these pages since I just posted them a couple days ago.

Same deal for this one. I also posted the next one a while back in its unfinished state, but now it's done and I so proud!

And it's ORANGE. Dusty Durango, to be exact. Still no clue why I wanted to do orange with these pictures but I did so I went with it and I like it. My only problem with this layout was trying to figure out what kind of accents to do. I'm happy with it.

I also made a very bright card for Bellariffic Friday but I can't post it until later. It's very cute and also orange. :D

So tomorrow is the day that we're doing a lil birthday hoopiedoo for me at work. For Connie's birthday on Tuesday, we got a Dulce de Leche cheesecake (can you say 762 calories per SLICE?!) and then we all sang happy birthday to her, but I must say my coworkers are pretty pathetic singers. We had at least a dozen people and it sounded more like 2. So we'll see what's in store for me tomorrow; all I know is that Lee's been talking to Connie and there was some mention of cake. Have no fear, I am taking my camera to work with me. TTFN, bloggy peeps!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sooooo Close

So I'm not dead, although I did get sick the day after my last post. I missed a day of work and then last weekend all I was good for is sleeping and watching NCIS (need to buy season 3 now since I finished season 2). And now that I'm mo' bettah, I still have that dratted paper to write. I have made *some* progress on that front...I now have 22 pages of typed-up quotes to use, but the paper part really isn't written. Argh.

But today I took the day off to play with my much-neglected paper crafting supplies, *and* I spent several hours at Amber's house, hanging out with her and playing with the Cricut machine. Vicki gave me the Pagoda cartridge as a present, so we had to check it out. I used a couple of Pagoda images on the two scrapbook layouts I'm (still) working on...I was hoping to have them both finished today but I still have the journaling to do and that's not the kind of thing I should do when I'm half asleep. So anyway, take a peek:

If you read this blog regularly (or at least as regularly as I actually update it, oops) then you probably recognize these pages. I posted them before without the titles and accents done (maybe the third time will be the charm and I'll actually have them DONE the next time I post?!) The dragon on the right-hand page was cut out using the Pagoda Cricut cartridge, is it not awesome? The white swirls were done with a stamp that Amber gave me. Not only did she let me play with her toys, she gave me a bunch of stuff today too! As if just hanging out with her wasn't gift enough. I've got the coolest friends :) Anyway, Amber also showed me a computer program she has (I forget the name of it) where she plugs the Cricut in to her computer and can cut out pretty much anything she wants to, like computer fonts, so that's how I did the titles on my layouts. Pretty cool, huh???

The fish and the kanji are both from the Pagoda cartridge, and according to it, the kanji says "ocean". I sometimes wonder if the translations of those things are accurate, and how many people are walking around with tattoos that really say things like "stupid" or "I stink" instead of what they really thought they were writing in kanji. That thought makes me laugh.

I also needed a birthday card since Connie, my office mate and fellow skeleketary at work, is celebrating her birthday tomorrow. I went to China Pete's and got this neat little teapot and two teacups, I think it's more of a display thing than a use-it thing, but I thought it was pretty and a neat little memento of Japan. (Ok, so I got me one too!) Anyway, here's a card done in similar colors to the tea set:

Yeah, it was already pretty late when I started this, so I CASEd myself. See my original card here. I still like it, pretty fast and easy to put together but still looks good. The gray-looking mat is actually silver cardstock, which I think makes the card a little bit more special. I also think my pink ink pad needs a refresher.

Ah crud, it's almost 11:00 and I have to go to work tomorrow. As the Animaniacs would say, "Mwah! G'night everybody!"