Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A little holiday wrap-up :D

Well goodness! The last two weeks really slipped past me. With all the traveling and daily postings over at A Bit of Geek (plus leaving the camera at someone's house and waiting for it to return to me... oops), I simply didn't have the time or the material to check in over here!

It was a lovely holiday with a full week and a half up in Washington visiting friends and family. Andrew and I have never had to split a holiday before, so there was some confusion and anxiety on our parts xD But everything worked out splendidly!

Our first Christmas together!

Christmas went on as usual with a fun and festive afternoon at a tree farm and subsequent decorating. My family and I opened gifts on Christmas Eve, which was a first, and Andrew and I spent Christmas Day with his family.

The tree farm was on fantastically beautiful property.

It was strange, to be sure, but we're really lucky that our families live so close to one another. Hopping from one house to another was not a big deal whatsoever.

The holidays were fairly low key this year, considering the traveling, and the best part was truly spending time with my loved ones. That's really what the season is all about for me.

A completely candid shot of my lifelong 
friends (and me!) playing Catchphrase.

I came away from it all feeling refreshed, happy, and I managed to get some pictures, too (as you have seen)!

Hopefully all of your holidays and new years were wonderful. I'm feeling the photography itch once again, so I expect some nice images to be heading this way soon!



-MJ

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hats on, stockings hung, tree decorated. Let's find some cheer!

Prepare yourselves for some festive fun!

Stockings hung by the chimney with care... and old gaming consoles.

This week I have taken a whopping zero photos with the real camera, but boy have my hands been busy with crafting projects! Christmas is creeping ever closer, and I am doing everything I can to fill the house with cheer. I've been diving into quite a few Pinterest decorating ideas, and I'm pleased to say it has been very successful. 

We diligently turned all of the construction paper into chains.

While Jacki was in town we set to stringing the house full of red and green paper chains. Andrew quite liked what we were doing and requested even more chains than I had anticipated. By the end of the night my fingers were sore from ripping tape. It was totally worth it though.

In addition to wanting the house full of Christmas for my own pleasure, we also had a festive/holiday party on Saturday night. How can one have a holiday party without adequate decorations? Andrew was concerned that the house wouldn't be decked out enough, and I was quite willing to rise to the occasion. 

The sock portion of the stockings were very easy, which was nice.

Over the course of two days I made the Christmas stockings shown at the beginning of the post; the proved to be a larger challenge than I anticipated. I had a hell of a time comprehending how everything needed to be sewn together in order to have the cuff folding over. One of them I re-sewed four times. By the fourth stocking I finally had the hang of it.

I attempted to branch out and make smaller decorations that could be scattered throughout the house. Andrew and I made some large silver stars that were hung on the wall (and looked very lovely) and a few weeks ago I made a large 'Merry Christmas' banner to hang in a window. One of my projects brought me to making these little yarn trees, but after making two of them I burned my palm rather wickedly with the hot glue. The crafting ceased after that.

They were cute, but I'm not sure the burning was worth it.

The crowning gem of the night, for me, was the (mostly) successful construction of two Santa hats! Andrew asked if I could make some; I was feeling bolstered by the success of the stockings and so I said yes. Again I encountered serious issues with the folding cuff issue. The hats are a little wonky, but are hand made with lots of love and Christmas songs.

 Simple beginnings and very festive completions! I felt like the Grinch making his costume!

After all of the work, minor stresses and dedication to the cause, the holiday party was a great success and the house looks lovely and Christmas-y. It was all worth it. Plus, I now have homemade Santa hats and stockings. I love this time of year!

-MJ

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Surreal dream come true.

I don't have a list of "things I believe will never happen", but if I did, "going to Disneyland with lifelong friends Chase and Blake" would definitely be on that list.

But, that's exactly what happened this weekend.

Not a great cellphone picture of our Space Mountain photo,
but there we are: Jacki, Blake, Chase and me.

A few months ago I was informed that Chase, Blake and Jacki would be making a trip to Disneyland with Chase and Blake's mom. I thought that was just lovely and looked forward to being in the park with them.

Our second Space Mountain photo <3

It wasn't until the four of us were on Thunder Mountain Railroad, slowly clicking up the incline before a fast drop down the mountain, that it occurred to me how truly wonderful and surreal it was that I was in Disneyland, with Chase, on Thunder Mountain.

Life is so funny sometimes.

::: Jacki and Andrew dragged me onto Tower of Terror. I'm not a fan.

::: Simply amazing photo of Blake, Jacki, their friend Justin and me on California Screamin'.

::: There was a minor issue with Jacki's pass when we got to the park, so as an apology we were given two of the super amazing fast passes. Score!

::: Jacki in a seriously windswept state, followed by her gleeful frozen yogurt smile.

::: The castle all pretty, lit up and snowy <3

::: Romantic embraces in front of the Christmas balls in Bug Land!

 ::: Jacki loves Beast, so she simply had to have a kissing photo in Beast's Library.

::: All of us on Jungle Cruise, courtesy of Andrew!

::: Blake and Chase trying to taste the honey. Uhh.

::: Jacki, Blake and Chase hopping in for a must-have photo in Disneyland.

::: Aaaand a lone romantic shot.

::: I stopped them to get a shot of the festive main street area.

::: Then I asked Chase to take one of Andrew and me!

We had quite the fun few days bouncing back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure. Andrew was able to join us one day, which was great, and I really feel that we had a well-rounded experience at both parks. 

Thank you universe for such an unexpected and wonderful weekend.

-MJ

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday is for fun things.

Hello everyone. How was your Thanksgiving? If you don't celebrate it, then how was your Thursday? Anyone go out for any crazy Black Friday shopping deals? I ended up shopping Friday afternoon, but it was leisurely and enjoyable, thank goodness!

Today I'm bringing you a camera-phone glimpse into the fun encounters I've had over the past week and a half. I downloaded a new camera application too, it's called Pixlr-o-matic (it's also available as a desktop application!) and I've been taking more snapshots than usual in order to try it out.

Time for fun things!

::: Roses in front of the yard happily drinking up the rain that LA received last week

::: Snazzy close-up of the wreath that I made (pictures later in the post!)

::: A new paper cutter! I made sure to break it in right away

::: The front of a birthday card that I made for one of our roommates

::: The inside of the card! I was so proud of myself

::: Editing photos last week while enjoying some amazing hot cocoa <3

 ::: My lovely mother making some slam-dunk delicious mashed potatoes

::: Holiday banner that I made for the kitchen

::: Experimenting with Pixlr-o-matic on the front doors

::: I had never made a wreath before!

::: I finished another Monster and this is a sneak peek

::: A cute and silly photo of Andrew playing Mario chess with me (he won)

People that have Android devices: what are your favorite camera applications? I use Little Photo almost exclusively, but Pixlr-o-matic may push into the lead! For various specific actions I use Camera360 (tilt/shift feature!), FxCamera (fisheye and Polaroid are my favorites) and MagicHour (you can make your own filters. I enjoy this one enough that I ended up getting the pay version). I recently downloaded LabelPlus, which is responsible for the banners and silly heart icons on that photo of Andrew. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts!

I hope everyone has had as nice a week as I have!

-MJ

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Under the Sea - la la la

How many of you are in love with aquariums? Personally I am a huge fan. I used to visit the Seattle Aquarium multiple times a year. The exhibits never really change, but I enjoy it just the same. My favorite parts are the octopus, cuttle fish, sea dragons, jelly fish and otters. How come aquariums never have any squids? So disappointing. I've come to develop a fierce loyalty to the aquarium in Seattle, so going to new ones makes me wonder if they'll stack up. I don't even know how the Seattle one stacks up to the others in the US, I just know that I love it.

When visiting the aquarium in San Francisco with my mom November of last year, I was mightily impressed by their sea nettle exhibit. I stood in front of it for at least ten minutes just watching them float around, and I took some great pictures too. A cursory search of my archives shows that I apparently never posted photos from the aquarium. How did that happen?!

::: One of the many large and beautiful sea nettles at the San Francisco aquarium

On Friday Andrew and I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. You can rest assured that no one will be missing out on our experience, because this post will be pretty much all photos! We had a super amazing time and spent a whopping four hours there! The place was crazy crowded because of multiple elementary school field trips; I was nearly mown down by more than a few children.

The exhibits did not disappoint. The building was huge and had mini viewing tanks on the way to the actual exhibit areas! One viewing tank was three stories high! So impressive! We took our time exploring all there was to see, even back tracking and visiting some fishies multiple times. There were a lot of surprises too, including the most adorable white arctic fox and some absolutely terrifying bird encounters. We spent time with a boat load of sharks and I befriended a sea turtle.

Please enjoy these photos and join me in appreciating the wonder of the ocean world!


::: Super tall viewing tank

::: Beautiful clown fishies and adorable sea horses

 ::: Elegant jellyfish and the most beautiful crab I've ever seen

::: Leafy sea dragons are one of my most favorites things/creatures EVER

::: Prowling fish and an eel hugging a lobster

 ::: Beady eyed pipefish-type creature

::: A Lorikeet. There was an area full of them and they were scaring the crap out of me

::: The majestic sea turtle <3

::: Beautiful and impressive sea star

::: I love that rays always look happy

::: Lone fish and the most adorable garden eel

::: Teeny tiny shrimp!

::: White Arctic fox; this little guy stole my heart

The few non-aquatic creatures that were present have me seriously jonesing for a trip to the zoo. Maybe sometime soon Andrew and I will go to the San Diego one? That would be so great!

Overall  I give this aquarium a very high ranking! They only had one octopus and it was hiding big time. That was a let down, but it's also very common. My biggest complaint is their lack of cuttle fish. What gives?! Perhaps I'll write them a letter ;)

What's your favorite aquatic creature? :D

-MJ

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