Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Photo of the week: January 31, 2012

Exposure - 1/60
Aperture - f/5.0
Focal Length - 55 mm

Getting closer by the day to seeing actual daylight when I'm home. The sun isn't up all the way when I leave for work and it's sinking in the sky when I get home. Soon we shall meet again.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snowmen cupcakes

These photos are actually a few weeks old, but I found them earlier this morning and couldn't remember why I never shared them. My office had a casual Friday pizza party a few weeks ago, which meant I had an open invitation to bring in a baked good.

Of course that meant I would jab sprinkles into marshmallows with a pointed toothpick and call it cute!

I made just simple chocolate cupcakes and topped them with vanilla frosting. I thought butter cream frosting topped with marshmallows would make the cupcakes too filling. I know, the horror!

For the snowmen (or snowpeople) I used 1.5 large marshmallows. The whole marshmallow was the base block and I squished the half of marshmallow to make that into the top block. To "glue" the blocks together I spread a bit of frosting between the pieces.

For eyes and mouth I used three sprinkles. I put a bit of frosting in a large spoon and dumped some sprinkles into an empty soy sauce dish. I dabbed a toothpick with a bit of frosting from the spoon and then picked up the individual sprinkles I needed. I very simply jabbed the sprinkles into the marshmallow. It was really funny to see how different the facial expressions were on the snowmen based on how far in the sprinkles went into the marshmallow. Small and beady eyes came off as angry snowmen. Large eyes came off as happy snowmen.

The funniest part was having the hubs walk by and witness my marshmallow assult. He just looked at me jabbing poor and defenseless marshmallows and muttered, "you have serious issues."

If I didn't start this project at 9 o'clock at night I would have added Twizzler pieces for a scarves and covered espresso beans with chocolate to make hats. I'm saving that idea for next time :)

My public plea to Santa paid off! My aunt bought me a cupcake container for Christmas, which is amazing. I seriously don't know how I've transported so many cupcakes in the past without ruining them. These snowmen cupcakes are so tall that they never would have fit in my normal brownie container.

Hopefully you can make some snowmen cupcakes if it actually does snow in your neck of the woods. It felt like 60 degrees this weekend in Baltimore, which means we're just dreaming of a winter wonderland here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Are you sure they're the same breed?

I honestly do not understand how two dogs of the same breed could be any more different.

Exhibit A: What I was trying to do the other day in my photo of the week submission.
The happiest pooch you'll ever meet when there's snow on ground. Actually, the happiest pooch you'll ever meet if there's snow, rain, sun, wind, acorns, squirrels, and/or butterflies around. He's not a fan of cats though for the simple reason he doesn't know what to do with them. Loves to give kids puppy kisses, but he's really trying to lick the dried ice cream off their faces.

Exhibit B:
The angriest dog in the world when it comes to any natural elements besides sun. Snow is her absolute least favorite thing in the world, only second to cute babies. Those little mini humans steal her thunder and she's not cool with it. She'd definitely eat one if given the chance.

At least she looks adorable in her little hoondstooth jacket. Thank you Martha Stewart! That bad boy fits her perfectly and the hubs and I have picked up more than one in different colors for Jewels. If you're near a Pet Smart and see one in a size small, please let me know!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's old is new again

Inexplicably, I've wanted a pair of black leather pants my whole life. There is no rationalization for it or any semblance of rhyme or reason. Whenever Anh, from 9 to 5 Chic, wears her leather Balenciaga leggings I feel the need to drop some serious dough on a pair of leather pants. I either need to start selling things on the black market (like what I have no idea) or pick up a side job to pay for all the things I want to put in my closet.

However, reality usually sits in. I think to myself, "where the heck are you going to that you'll wear leather pants? Do you realize you hate your thighs and leather pants will highlight those bad boys?"


Of course, I then recall the episode of Friends where Ross gets stuck in his leather pants. Hehe! I just get giddy and realize there's no way in heck I'll ever own leather pants.

Last week I joined some friends at a Stella and Dot trunk show hosted by my dear friend Miss M over at District Sparkle. The show was held at Second Affair Consignments store in Dupont Circle (a future post on that it coming). While oogling all things sparkly and shiny two black skirts caught my eye. The one was a very simple velvet ballet type skirt on sale for $2.50 even though it still had the tags on it. The other was tagless, but was a leather skirt that looked about my size.

So I snatched that bad boy up and made my over to the dressing room. Sure enough, it fit. Even better... it was only $25. I walked out of that store with both skirts. Honestly, who doesn't need two more black skirts in their closet?

Um, yes please!

Yesterday I had to drive to work and decided since I wouldn't be spending much time outside it was the perfect day to rock my new leather skirt.

Blouse - Express. Seriously, I've had it since high school or college, so it's super old.
Skirt - Vintage
Shoes - Cole Haan. Scored for $50 at Rue La La.

The greatest thing about this skirt, beside of course that it's leather? The sucker fits me perfectly. It tapers at my waist and has enough room for my big ol' soccer butt.

The only foreseen problem with such a cool skirt is that I can't wear it all the time. That's the tough part of statement pieces. They lose their unique value if they're worn over and over again.

Anyone own leather pants? Leather skirt? Leather dress? Or do you stick to leather handbags and purses?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Photo of the week: January 24, 2012

A hint of snow descended on the Baltimore region over the weekend. Even better is the fact that there is still a bit of the white stuff lingering around. It appears I purchased my new Hunter Boots at the right time because they are getting a serious workout this winter.

Ugh, I woke up this morning and all the snow is gone! Stupid rain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Photo of the week: January 17, 2012

I was enamored last week with this article I read on the Digital Photography School titled, "How to Use Zoom Blur to Add Action In Your Photos."

Sunday morning I found myself over at M&T Bank Stadium for the Raven's playoff game. I hope to post more pictures tomorrow, but for now here's my photo of the week where I was messing around with my camera in the fourth quarter while freezing my bum off!

I took a few other pictures with slower shutter speeds, but was focusing on the players as they lined up over center. I quickened my shutter speed up to 1/50 for the photo above. In hindsight, I wish I would have kept it slower around 1/20. I think that was a nice amount of blur, but focusing in on the large Ravens field graphic would have worked better than focusing on the players.

(1/50 above)
(1/20 above)

How about you? Have you played around with your zoom while taking a picture? On purpose? Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The difference between men and women

Way back in early September the hubs was getting ready to begin one of his fantasy football drafts. Unfortunately, this was a draft with real live people and not random strangers on the internet. One of the dudes couldn't join in at the last minute and the guys were about to lose their draft time slot if they didn't have someone else join their league.

Enter: hubs' red head and tom-boy wife, who has never played any type of fantasy sport.

I won't go into details of how the hubs was guiding me through my draft choices and he said, "no, don't take that guy." Then, he proceeded to take that guy .2 seconds after I picked someone else.

All is fair in love and fantasy sports it seems.

Flash forward 14 weeks and I beat my own hubs in order to secure the fourth and final spot in the playoffs. The hubs didn't even make the playoffs :)

First week of the playoffs I take on the #1 seed, who just happens to be my brother-in-law. Yeah, I squeak out a nail biter and beat him by 1.28 points. There was some play in which a penalty that is never called on a field goal was called and the team received five yards and later drove down the field to score a touchdown, which took points away from the kicker, but gave me the victory.

Weird stuff like that happened.

Then, the during the final days of the championship week I ask the hubs, "do I get anything if I win this thing?"

"Yeah,, $160."

Buddy, that changes everything! That's some serious coinage for my shoe budget!

In a very odd twist of fate, I had to play my own brother, my ginger blood, in the championship. He actually beat me, until I checked a few days later and there was a stat correction and it turns out I beat him by .44 points. Yeah, it was absolutely ridiculous.

At the end of the season, I was the only girl in the league and I took down all the boys.

Not too shabby.

Now what did I do with my winnings? I bought a pair of Hunter Boots! I've wanted a pair for years, but could never stomach the $125 price tag. So two years ago I bought a pair of $25 rain boots from Target and called it a day. Yeah, they sprung a leak after a season and then when I kept wearing them it looked like I wasn't even wearing rain boots on my one leg.

I figured it was probably time to join the big leagues and buy a proper pair of rain boots. I've read the reviews and these bad boys tend to last for much longer than a season. If I can get a few years out of them, then they were definitely worth the investment.

But let's be honest, I don't pay full price for things. Neiman Marcus, of all places, slashed the price on select colors to $80 last week. I called customer service to ensure they were the Original Tall Gloss and once confirmed I placed my order.

Just in the nick of time too! It's been raining all day and the rain is forecasted to continue for the rest of the week.
Dress - Banana Republic
Cardigan - J. Crew
Tights - Target
Boots - Hunter

So really the moral of this story is: Guys, if you invite a lady to join your sports league or whatever and there is money on the line, I suggest you don't get upset when you find out her winnings went towards shoes and not beer. Sure, I only spent half my winnings, so I'm definitely up for buying a round or two at the next happy hour with the guys, but if it's raining I'm definitely wearing my boots and showing them off to the guys.

As the hubs said, "they're the best looking rubber boots I've ever seen."

He was being sarcastic of course!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Photo of the week: January 10, 2012

I swear, the intention of this photo of the week series isn't to have yet another excuse to post pictures of my dogs.

I had a nice photo picked out to share this week and then it went and snowed on Monday. I mean, quasi real, sticked to the ground for a night, fluffy stuff. By Tuesday's sunrise the white dandruff of the gods had quickly disappeared. On Monday night, though, I had two polar opposite dogs - Jax was in heaven while Jewels was in hell!

Another "goal" of mine this year with my camera is to get more comfortable shooting in manual mode. When it comes to shooting something quick or shooting when I'm with a group of people I tend to favor my camera's standard shooting mode. I just don't trust myself yet enough to shoot fast in manual if that makes any sense. So, Monday night when the snow was falling I relied on my T2i's action mode to capture Jax's crazy behavior as he sprinted through the snow and leaped the desk's steps before crashing into me. True story. He hasn't quite figured out how to use the stairs and instead his preferred method of coming into the house is to charge into the house and slide across the den carpet to slow him down before crashing into a wall or human being.

Back to the photo, perhaps I should have moved the outdoor chair that was casting a large shadow in the middle of my photo. There is a solid chance that's where my camera was focusing and reading a large dark spot there the camera decided to use a slower shutter speed. Or, maybe I shouldn't try to take action shots in a poorly lit night time setting.

However, I did want to try to capture Jax's reaction to the first real snow in the new house. Even though he's blurry, you can tell he's happy.

Even without the night time issues, action is such a large part of my life that I need to get better at capturing these motions. My life is far from static and therefore I need to get better at documenting those crazy moments in life. At least that's my goal to work on this year.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Race Calendar

I haven't signed up for too many races yet for this racing year, but here's what I'm thinking for right now. Any other fun races in the Baltimore/Annapolis/DC area I should look to add into the mix?

3/4 B&A Half Marathon - need to sign up soon
3/11 Kelley St. Patrick's Day 5k - already registered

4/1 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler - already registered
4/15 Clyde's 10k

5/6 Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon - registering this week

6/16 Baltimore 10 Miler - registration opens in March

8/26 Annapolis 10 Miler - registration opens later

TBD Parks Half Marathon - registration opens later

10.28 Marine Corps Marathon - registration opens March 7th (already have a calendar appointment created)

TBD Annapolis Half Marathon - registration opens later

Wild Cards:
I really want to run the Baltimore Half Marathon again, but I don't know if doing a race that close to Marine Corps is a good idea. I'm going to mull that one over for a bit. I can always sign up for the half at a later date.

I also really want to run a turkey trot and a winter 5k in December. I missed running a 5k this past Thanksgiving, but at only four days most-marathon it probably wasn't the best idea to race.

The only thing that is really depressing is how much it costs to sign up for that many races! I'd love to do a race a month, but the money really does add up. I think the hubs is going to start to deduct my racing fees from my annual shoe budget. Good thing we have a rule of thumb that athletic stuff isn't calculated into our personal budgets for the year! That's what happens when you have to jocks in the same household.

Yeah, the more I look at it I need to pick up another half marathon. Right now I only have three really planned and four just sounds better than three. Although, I only did two half marathons last year so maybe the smart play is to increase it to three this year.

Have you made your racing calendar yet for 2012? Any races you can't wait to run this year? Any new distances you're trying? Anything else you want to share?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

18 Weeks Out: Up next Flying Pig

After a disastrous showing at the Philadelphia Marathon, my bestie and I verbally committed to running a spring marathon. A quick look at what was available in May 2012 led us to finalizing our decision on the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Darn, that is a mouthful. She's going to call it Flying Pig and I'm going to call it Cincinnati.

However, just a few weeks ago we were talking about our different training plans and I commented, "you know, 18 weeks out from Cincinnati is the first week of January."

Echoing silence.

It's a amazing how quickly these things sneak up on you!

As I thinking up this post last night, I was sitting on the couch, wrapped up in a warm blanket, watching tv with a hot water bottle puppy at my feet. Outside the wind was shrieking and I thought to myself, "bring it!"

Running in the cold may burn my lungs and chap my lips, but I can always throw on another layer of clothes run hard enough to warm myself up. Running in the dead heat of summer makes me melt faster than Frosty the Snowman in the desert and it's not a pretty sight. Perhaps training for a spring marathon will go better than training for a fall marathon.

No matter what happens, signing up for a spring marathon should prove to be much more beneficial for my health than any New Year's resolution. I can resolve to give up Chick-fil-A until I'm blue in the face, but I know if I'm running the next day I can't get moving with that sludge in my body. Mmmm, no wonder most runners are so damn skinny. I think they're on to something!

Anyone else gearing up for a Spring 2012 marathon? Which one? What training plan are you following?

I'm going to post my tentative 2012 racing calendar in the coming days as more inspiration to get my butt in gear.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Photo of the week: January 2, 2012

I'm starting a new blog series on this little ol' blog. I've decided that I'm wasting my camera by not playing with it more often, so in order to kick my butt in gear I'm going to start posting a photo of the week. I'm kind of cheating because I took this last Sunday, you know, on Christmas. So in my very first entry I'm being a bit liberal in the timeframe of a week.

The picture above is of my Aunt's Christmas tree. I absolutely adore bokeh.

In these new weekly photo postings I hope to accomplish two things:
  1. Attempt to take more creative pictures and possibly less dog pictures. Don't get me wrong, I will still take a million and one pictures of my dogs, but maybe I don't need to take 50 on a daily basis of them doing the exact same thing.
  2. Get feedback on my photos. I'd like to get better with my camera and any and all help would be greatly appreciated.