Friday, November 30, 2007


YAY FOR ME! 30 days of successfully posting after a year of successfully slacking off.

I constantly wish I did this as good as I used to. I look back a couple of years ago and my goodness I was much funnier then. And its so neat to have a little journal that I can go back to read because we really do forget a lot, don't we?

At any rate, I'm pretty darn proud of myself for NaBlahing every single day this month. And even if I don't get a prize (*sniff*) I still got something out of it.

Here's to it not being another 2 weeks until I blog again. :-)

(Badges courtesy of Party of Everything and Subversive Cross Stitch)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Make it Work!

Anyone recognize this guy?

If you immediately squealed "TIM GUNN! HE'S SO ADORABLE!", then you should have been with my girlfriends and me tonight. I would never claim to 'get' fashion, but I do love me some Project Runway. Anyone else? Come on, you know you love it (and don't tell Ryan I told you, but I totally catch him getting into it when I'm watching it).

Tim Gunn was at a local mall here in the Phoenix area and my girlfriends and I HAD to go. Nevermind it was a Liz Claiborne fashion show, we wanted Tim! But oh boy, we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. It was PACKED, and I think the median age was about 50 in the crowd. And the only men in the crowd were very well dressed. And the clothes? HORRIFIC. Like I said, I don't know much about fashion, but Liz Claiborne is definitely not for me.

I found myself feeling so sad for Tim because he was having to rave about these atrocities as they came down the runway. "The sparkly snowflake sweater is SO much better then a Santa sweater because it really can be worn all winter" "The cardigan is a must have this season!" Ick! Blech! And these ladies were eating it up! When did Tim sell out?

But still, how could you not love this man:

And another hilarious part of the show? Liz Claiborne sent some 'muscle' to protect Tim while he was on stage:

Talk about cashmere mofia....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving aftermath.... and why we love our new carpet cleaner

Well, that carpet cleaner has certainly been put to good use.

Our Bad Karma got in the trash the other day and pulled out the remains of two turkey legs and ate them. Whole. Bones and all. This is the same dog who can't eat a rawhide bone w/out throwing up for days.

So last night I woke up to what I thought was someone breaking into the house through the window because the blinds were going crazy. So of course I grabbed the gun (yes, we have multiples by the bed for when I'm home alone). When I turned on the light I found a puppy so desperate to get out that she was trying to go through the window. So I let her out.

An hour later I woke up to scratching on the door.

An hour after that it was frantic pacing.

Between 5:45am when I went to work and 8:30 when Ryan got home, Karma had successfully hit every single room in the house.

Maybe its time to switch to all tile.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Hey all! We're down to the very last days of NaBloPoMo. Weeee!

I have a photo-filled week, and part of my job is delivery of the finished product. I like to pride myself on doing it right the first time, but there's something to be said for the ability to give it that little extra punch afterwards. Case in point:

Here is a before picture:

Nice, but not awesome. I thought it needed a little something, so I added some vignette, or darkened the edges.

Here's a little Photoshop magic:

Cool, huh?

OK, off to delivery pictures to this lovely family.

Hope your week isn't dragging like mine is!

Monday, November 26, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 26 - Pick me! Pick me!

Look at me! I'm only a few days from completing my second NaBloPoMo. Prize? Yes please! Although I'm not sure how they pick the winners because I'm convinced only about 10% of the people complete it. But of COURSE I'm not doing it for a prize. This month its been so much fun to write every day. I'm really going to try my best to keep it up on a more regular basis.

Tonight was a good night. Not only did I have what I hope was a successful meeting with a couple for a wedding, but I set a meeting for another one later this week. But that wasn't the best part of the night.

The best part was that Ryan randomly pulled out his sax tonight and played for 2 hours. He's so brilliant. About a week ago he got a CD by one of his favorite current artists, Karl Denson, and for the last week it has evidently been bugging him to figure out the music. So tonight he locked himself in a room, and an hour and a half later he came out, put the CD in for me, and played along note for note to not one, but TWO songs on the album. Can you imagine having that kind of talent?? I'm so jealous of that... But mostly, I'm just so glad we had his music in the house again.

OK, off to watch Heroes!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 25.... Is this thing on?

I think I should be allowed a 4-day weekend every week. This small break has been awesome. And the best part is that in less than a month I'll have a week and a half off for the holidays.

This morning Ryan and I met with an adorable family for their holiday portraits. I know Lorrie reads here occasionally, so hi Lorrie! I just wanted to say that I was tickled to be around a young family that obviously likes each other. Lorrie and her husband were sweet together, and they are both so sweet with their boys. I think some of my favorite pictures from the session are from when the 4 of them are walking together to the parking lot and I'm not sure they knew I was still taking their picture. You can always tell something about a family by what happens after they think the camera is off.

At any rate, I've only looked at a couple of them so far, but here's two I liked right off the bat:

That's all here. We're still cleaning the house (I swear, this new carpet cleaner is a MIRACLE! No more paint stain!).

I didn't ever do a "I'm thankful for..." list, but I really do have so much to be thankful for this year. I'm blessed that my mom is alive and on the road to recovery and remission, I'm blessed to have a husband I love more this year than last, I love my pups, who are the best company when I'm home alone, I have wonderful friends who are more like sisters than anything else, and I amazingly have a new business that I didn't even imagine this time last year. So much has changed.... And I'm glad it has. Life is good.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day... I whatever

Oh man, we love our weekends off.

Today we went to the Arizona International Car Show. We saw all the new cars, concept cars, cool cars... My Pathfinder, which I've had since college, has 147,000 miles on it. So I'm almost in the market. Sadly, all the SUVs out there have turned into soccer mom cars. Not that I have ANYTHING against soccer moms (I may be one some day), I'm just saying... They're all 3rd row seating and anti-off road. That's SO not me. So I am thinking maybe the Xterra is for me. Oh, but the Jeep 4-dr Rescue concept car... Ohhhhhhh. A TWO Jeep family?! That would be awesome.

But should we be considering possible future kiddos when thinking about a new vehicle? *sigh* Life's hard when you're an adult.

Tomorrow I have a family portrait for a lovely family headed by 2 of my fellow high school classmates. Mustangs! Its the start of a family portrait season. I've got a pretty good lineup of Christmas portraits with some adorable families.

Ryan and I went to Freestone Park today, which we'd been to before, with the eye of a photographer. We didn't need to use our imagination though, because this is evidently the 'it' place to go for family portraits. There were no fewer than 5 photographers doing Christmas card sessions. This is evidently a hotbed, and here I thought I was being original. But at least the location is perfect and I'm sure I'm going to have a great time with the Lambert family.

Yay for long holiday weekends!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Still NaBloPoMo'ing after all these years....

We survived Thanksgiving!  Not only that, we thrived, and it was awesome.  Me and the boys.  I was totally in my element.  And the tequila shots?  Yeah, that was the appetizer:

That's my bro there on the left.  Our mom would be so proud!  Needless to say, we would not be so 'happy' if we were at the 'rents house.

And here's Ryan massaging his meat (he made me say that):

And our Thanksgiving table (minus the two turkeys, the two appetizers, and the pumpkin crumble cake which was AWESOME):

Everything was pretty perfect.  Well, except the carpet + paint + dog poo situation.  But today, on Black Friday, we took care of that situation.  We went and bought ourselves a handy, dandy new anti-pet carpet sucker.  Exhibit A on why we needed a new one of these:

OMG, how gross is our 'old' carpet?  SO much better.

Yep, today we hit the malls.  But don't get me wrong, our sole purpose was to people-watch, and beer in had we did just that.  Now we're back home with our new carpet cleaner, then we're going to try to make a dent in our leftovers while catching up on some TV.  

I hope you're all digesting nicely and having a good, long weekend.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Thanksgiving that Killed our Carpet

Here is my obligatory blog post for NaBloPoMo. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. My husband, my family, my friends, my job, my charmed life, my pups... I could go on forever.

Sadly, the deliciously successful first attempt at turkey in the atpanda house has left me ready for bed at 9pm. Ryan and I both made a turkey (he a smoked, me a roasted, in case one didn't work out) and both were perfectly juicy and to die for. Add to that mashed potatoes, party potatoes, creamed spinach, stuffing, gravy, rolls, two appetizers, and pumpkin crumble cake... Omg. My poor stomach.

But not poor me! We had an awesome time. Besides us we had my brother and his roommate, Ryan's captain (and my photo partner), the medic on Ryan's truck, and his 2 year-old daughter who's just about enough to convince us to have one of our own. I said JUST about, don't get all worked up. At any rate, it was such a good holiday. I couldn't have asked for the day to go anymore perfect......

......Well except I would have chosen for the little painting project we undertook today to not have ended up in disaster in the form of an entire paint pan full off Cliff White spilling all over our living room floor.  And how about when 3 hours after that one of our guests tracked in a lovely pile of dog crap all over that same floor.  But I could devote an entire post to that. I'm hoping by tomorrow I'll be ready to laugh about it. And the $3000 it'll take us to get our floor replaced.

Thank goodness for good friends and good food to remind us what's REALLY important.

Love to all on Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Still NaBlahing Like a Champ!

Gotta keep this one short. This afternoon after work I've already managed to hit Target (roasting pan and baster), Home Depot (paint to finish our randomly started project on Sunday), and I braved the crowds at the grocery store. Now I'm going to down a beer to shake it off, then bake as fast as I can, clean the guest bathroom, clean up dog pee (not MY dogs, a dog we're sitting), then I'm off to a play tonight with friends. Sadly, the seat next to me will be empty because I'm dateless, but really, do you NEED to have someone to sit next to when all you're going to do is sit there quietly and watch the stage? Yeah.... this is one of those times that being a firefighter wife is a bummer.

Ryan and I are hosting our very first Thanksgiving tomorrow for a few people who didn't have a place for Thanksgiving. I'm so nervous! Ryan swears he's got the smoked turkey taken care of, but he's never done it before and I haven't seen any prep work going on. I'm cooking a turkey too and I found the BEST website for an engineer cooking a turkey for the first time. OK, its just the best cooking site for an engineer period, but the turkey instructions are perfect for me. You've got to check this site out.

One thing I'm not nervous about for tomorrow are the desserts. I may stress over the main course, but never the baked goods. But just to be sure, I tried out a new recipe on my coworkers today before I committed to it for the big day. Instead of struggling to make the perfect pie, I found this recipe for pecan pie cookies and it was totally a hit. They're this gorgeous little mini pecan treats in the shape of a cookie. Here's the batch I made last night at 9:30 (yikes! bags under the eyes!):

Yeah, the boys at work liked those as a dessert at our mini potluck today, aka Turkey Day Training Session. So those along with my favorite Pumpkin Crumble Cake are going to top off what I hope is going to be my first successful Thanksgiving dinner.

Well, now its off to bake those beauties. I hope you're all stress-free in your Thanksgiving prep!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


One of my coworkers told me about a month ago that his kid's school was having a fundraiser at Skateland, an indoor rollerskating rink, and that anyone was invited. Oh man! I swear I was so excited. So of course I immediately invited all my girlfriends (who, sadly, couldn't come with) and I made Ryan PROMISE to go with me so I could do couples skate.

I have such memories of Skateland! I fancied myself a really good skater. I could weave in out, foot over foot for turns, bob to the music. And who could forget the hokey pokey, the chicken dance, the Ghostbuster theme, the reverse skate (not to be confused with the backward skate)...

But then we got to the parking lot and I had this sudden silly feeling. I'm THAT adult. The adult that thinks they're cool, when really they're an ADULT. And then I started to worry that I wouldn't remember how to skate. Its been almost 20 years! And was I ever really as good as I thought I was? And what if Ryan and I were the only adults skating?

Then Ryan echoed my fears and I realized he was just there because I was so excited, not because he wanted to be. So I thought about leaving.

But we forced ourselves to go in because we promised we'd go there. Loh and behold, we were not the only adult skaters! We put on our blank and orange skates (WAY cooler then the nasty brown ones they used to have) and wobbled out on to the rink. We started slow, but very quickly found that 20 years is nothing in rollerskating. And looking around us, we saw the other adults pleasantly surprised that they hadn't lost the touch either! We Old People skated circles around those kids! I was showing off! he HEE. I AM cool. And then the lights went off, the disco ball and the strobes came on and they played Michael Jackson (Michael WHO those kids were saying!) and the adults were totally working that rink.

Ryan and I were totally impressed with ourselves for rocking the Skateland so hard, and we left feeling like the only thing to do next was to drag our friends to Adult Skate.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Everybody Loves a Parade

I asked the other day what holiday traditions everyone has. One of my favorites is the Macy's Day Parade. Yeah, yeah, I know its not really called that, but I think I've called it that since I was little. My family used to sit down and watch the parade together every year. I swear, I was almost as excited watching it from the living room as I might have been watching it in NYC live. And as I grew older, I started planning adult activities around the parade. In our old house I painted on Thanksgiving.... but I rigged the TV so I could see the parade from every room I was working in. And the last few years I've found that the parade is just about the perfect length for making pumpkin crumble cake.

I grew up in a musical home. I don't necessarily mean musical in that my parents are musically inclined (although my mom is a beautiful piano player with a voice to match). I mean we like musicals. A lot. And the best part of the parade, hands down, is before the parade even starts when the Broadway musicals send a number to be performed in front of Macys. I just love it. Baking does not start until the musical numbers are done, right up to the very last Rockette kick.

I think most people know that there is a writer's strike going on in Hollywood right now. Of course we're interested! Life without Heroes and Chuck? I think not! But the fact that there is also a strike going on on Broadway probably doesn't register on most people's radar. But the first think I thought was, "No Macy's Day Parade musical numbers?" Deep breath people! They just announced that particular show will go on.

I was giddily telling miss africankelli the other day how excited I was for the parade, and she told me I'm probably the only person she knows who actually watches it. Really? Anyone else excited for the parade?! LET'S HAVE A PARADE!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bored on a Sunday

When Ryan and I get bored on a weekend, we don't just sit around. Case and point: today we had a free afternoon so we dug out the leftover smorgasbord of paint we have in the garage, assessed which paints we had the most of, then threw it on a wall. I guess once we started painting this weekend, we just couldn't stop. That'd be 3 straight days of painting for anyone keep score. On two separate houses.

Ryan and I are totally an old married couple. There's never any discussion about who does what job. This is how it goes:
Amanda: beer
Ryan: Paint
A: music
R: ladder
A: tape edges
R: roller
A: cut in
R: move stuff around
A: fix places where tape failed
R: refresh beer and change music

Well-oiled machine I tell you!

So thanks for all the messages you guys sent about the turkey. We decided we're now doing 2 small turkeys. We're smoking one and roasting one. We're also making: mashed spuds (red w/ ranch, milk and butter), stuffing (whole grain with celery and sautéed mushrooms) , gravy, creamed spinach (my mom's recipe and my fave part of Thanksgiving!) with homemade croutons, cranberry sauce, and TWO desserts. I'm cooking for all boys so of COURSE we have to have two desserts. Pumpkin crunch cake and pecan pie cookies. Mmmmm. I'm also making a few appetizers. Think anyone's going to leave hungry?

Anyone else cooking Thanksgiving for the first time? Anyone else displaced for Thanksgiving?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Earn their $$

If you've planned a wedding in recent years, you know that wedding photographers are really expensive. Now between you and me, I have looked at a heck of a lot of photographers recently, and there's a lot of hacks out there who charge upwards of about $1500 for a 5 hour wedding. Simple math tells you that these people earn $300 an hour.

That said, there are a lot of photographers out there who are worth every penny. I've seen some wedding photography that is more art then anything else. I hope one day I can do weddings as well as some of those people...

I know we paid an arm and a leg for our photos, and I'm so glad we did. We have pictures from our wedding that are gorgeous and we'll have them forever. Worth every penny.

Since we're just starting out, we're not charging very much money at all. But I think what people don't get is that wedding photography is a heck of a lot more then just showing up for a wedding. Let's break it down:

Charge for 7 hour wedding: $700
Hours spent at wedding site day of wedding: 8
Hours spent scouting wedding site: 1
Hours spent meeting with clients: 2
Hours spent preparing equipment for wedding: 1
Hours spent post-processing: 10 (5 each)

So for two photographers, that's really $31.81/hr, or $15.91 per person per hour.

So, what do you think? Worth the money?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Day 16 - Painting Party

Tonight I hopped my hubby up on pain pills and dragged him over to africankelli's house for a Painting Party. I'd post pictures, but really, isn't that for her blog? :-) If we're lucky we'll get pics of me in a bandana with pigtails in sweat pants covered in every color paint we've ever painted in a house. I was quite the fashionable painter today.

Last week I wrote that Ryan and I were homeless for Thanksgiving. Low and behold, we've now been invited all over the place for Thanksgiving! We're so lucky to have friends who would open their homes on a family holiday. BUT, we decided that we knew some people who were homeless too and we're adopting them! So we've now got 5 people for our little feast and I couldn't be more excited.

So tell me, what Thanksgiving traditions do you do every year? Are you like me and can't wait for the Broadway numbers in the Macy Parade? (are those cancelled this year because of the strike?!?) Do you watch football? (yuck!) Play games after dinner? I have a feeling our new holiday tradition might involve drinking games with the guys coming over here. Oh, did I mention they're all guys? I'm wondering if the 11 pound turkey is enough for a gaggle of guys... hmmmmmm

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I've had one of those nights. Grocery shopping took too long, people blocked the isles, the cashier was slow, the bill too high (darn Thanksgiving!), dinner took too long to make, then when I finally got the dinner almost done, I put my tomato soup in the blender with the basil, hit the switch, and it exploded everywhere. On my favorite new cookbook, the wall, the counter, the floor, the toaster oven. Oh, and me. And it was hot. And red. *sigh*

Its been a weird day around our house today. Ryan worked his second job on Monday and forgot his knee pads. The next day it was apparent that something was wrong with his knee. Two days later and its much worse. His knee is swollen, red, hot to the touch... He went to the doctor and it turns out he's got an infection in his knee. Now its just finger crossing that the antibiotics keep it from spreading. Anyone else read that and immediately think 'super bug'? Yeah, I'm a big scardy.

Is it Thursday night drinking night? Why it is! Too bad antibiotics+alcohol=no no. More for me!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Day 14 and still chugging along (CHUG CHUG CHUG!)

Almost forgot again. On my list of priorities, blogging is well......... all the way at the bottom. Why'd they have to pick November to be NaBlowMe month? Its like the busiest month of the year. How about a more boring month like March? Nothing happens in March. That'd be a much better month for this.

I got an award today. Look at me! At my work we get points and there's a catologue of things at different point levels that we can choose from. I now have enough points for a $200 gift cert to AWESOME! Either that or a Home Deport gift cert for Ryan.... um..... HECK NO! I earned that spa day. ;-)

This weekend is going to be full of helping africankelli paint and celebrating my brother's birthday. If you live in the Phoenix area, I highly suggest you put this on your calendar for Sunday:
I've done this the last two years in a row and it is a riot. The Great Dane Drill Team alone is worth the trip out there. Plus, its for a really good cause!

Tomorrow is free turkey dinner at my work! They don't give us much, so I totally look forward to this all year. Its the one time that our upper management actually acknowledges our presence. They usually dress in santa hats to serve the food. Good times people, good times.

Yay! Nablopomo day 14 completed! Still going strong!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Its not easy being green

I worry about the environment as much as the next guy, but I can't say that I'm not part of the problem. I've got an SUV (horror!) and a Jeep. I know, its horrible. We've got the SUV because we actually use it (we love to see the beautiful deserts and forests of Arizona from a dirt road) and we've got the Jeep because, well, its a Jeep! There's nothing we're loving more lately then driving around in the gorgeous Arizona non-fall air with the top off.

But besides that, I hope I'm doing a small part to help. Ryan and I have gotten so much better about bringing our canvas shopping bags to the store, and when we forget we insist that we just don't need a bag if we've only bought a few small things. Have you ever tried this? Cashiers are so automatic at that register that things just automatically go in a bag. They don't know what to do with "That's OK, I don't need a bag". Have you noticed what they bag? A single newspaper? A single greeting card? A pack of gum? Its ridiculous, and I feel like if we were all a bit more proactive about this one small thing, we'll be making a difference.

Ryan's also doing more then his fair share. His station doesn't recycle so he and another firefighter got together and put out a recycle can for the guys and then he and the other guy split the recyclables every week to take home and put in our blue bins.

But I'm also trying really hard not to take a car if I don't need to. Why in the world should I get into my gas-guzzling SUV to drive a mile and a half to deposit a check at the bank? Especially if I skipped the gym and the dogs missed their walk this morning So I packed my pockets with the check, my card, and a pen, and started walking. You should have seen the looks from the people in their cars when I got in line right along with them at the drive-up ATM. :-)

What little things do you do? Do you ever feel like you make choices that other people judge you for? Like my SUV?

Monday, November 12, 2007


Phew! Almost forgot to NaBlopodnfalkdng for the day. Ryan actually called it NaBlowMe earlier. That'd be typical Ryan humor for ya. Which is why Miss AfricanKelli loves him so. :-)

Ahhh yes, the party yesterday was everything I hoped for! Boring and more boring. BUT! Alcohol! Weeeee! Ryan and I were the youngest at this party by at least 15 years, and Ryan had no idea what to do with himself. It was awesome. Old.Engineers. Neat.

Any dog people out there? I need some advice on how to get my little terror to stop chewing/licking/scratching the wall while we're gone. And don't say bitter apple. Been there. She only goes for one area, so we've started covering it up with her bed, so now she just goes to the same area and starts a new spot as close as she can to where she's already done the damage. That dog... And I refuse to bring that smelly, nasty crate back into the house. And when we're not scolding Mika for that, we're scolding Karma for eating the fertilizer from the grass. Nasty. Maybe we ought to just get a kid. They might be less work.

I'm rambling here in a lame attempt to meet my NaBloPoMo responsibility, when really I just wanna drink a glass of wine and watch Heroes. I think I'll go do that now...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tis the season!

Tis the season for holiday parties. Ryan and I are going to one today that is at my boss' house for Veterans day. Can anyone say snooze fest? I know he means well, but this feels a lot like work rather then a work 'party'. But, I couldn't just not go. OK, I was PLANNING on not going, until I found out that nobody else was going. Then I started to feel guilty. REALLY guilty, especially when he told me excitedly that he thought he might have as many as 75 people there. At last check, out of everyone invited from my work, there are 5 of us going. Ugh. Which also means I'll feel so guilty while I'm there that we'll have to stay until the bitter end. And I don't think there's gonna be alcohol.

The other thing that stinks about this party is we're responsible for the food. He's going to have a meat dish for the main part of the meal, but he made the rest of us bring everything else. So, for my part I'm bringing my favorite party side dish:

I'm a firm believer that anything that is baked should be made strictly according the recipe. Any other type of food is completely fair game, which is why this one doesn't have an actual recipe. I make a box of farfelle (bowtie), when its done immediately rinse it with cold water then toss it with a little olive oil (so it doesn't stick). I then add little tomatos, basil (torn in bigish pieces), black olives, artichoke heart quarters. I then toss that all with some Free Zesty Italian dressing. When I get to the party I add tomato/basil feta (crumbled) and more dressing until I like the consistency. Its delicious and people always ask for the recipe.

This morning when Ryan and I went to the store to get all those ingredients I had to run out to the car to get our canvas bags (down with plastic!) and noticed a little tiny dog locked in a car with the windows completely rolled up. I think what our friendly winter visitors who come to Arizona don't realize is that even if it feels niceish outside, the inside of your car is still 20 degrees hotter. I was livid. And sometimes when I'm livid I can't keep my mouth zipped (a fact which my girlfriends would gladly attest to). I memorized the license plate and marched back into the store, but I stopped the first people I saw and asked if the car with the dog was theirs. One man said it was his with a big smile, like I was going to say what a cute little doggie he had. I lit into him. And from the look on the other customers' faces I think I might have gone too far.

So tell me, how are you at keeping your mouth shut when you see someone acting like a complete moronic idiot? (ok, evidently I'm still a might mad about it....)

I leave you with a picture from the wedding yesterday. I haven't really gone through them much, but I kinda love this one because its fun and it illustrates how wonderful this bride's mom is. Her mom did all the flowers, the cake, and this candy buffet in Oregon and transported everything down here. Crazy, huh? Anyway, here's a cake that miraculously survived a very long drive here, and a candy bufet that was the hit of the party. For the kids and the adults.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

But it was the right decision

Today I photographed a wedding at the church I grew up in. It was totally surreal. When I was a baby that church was one building that acted as a sanctuary/recreation room/classroom. I have pictures of myself as a super young kid out front of the church, which at the time was surrounded by farming fields. I watched it grow and saw addition after addition and the fields around it were demolished and replaced by houses.

Mostly it was surreal because when I got to the church this morning and had a quiet moment to walk around by myself.... it looked old. But such memories! I had my first crush there, I was the youth group president, dances, choir, summer camp, dressing up like Wacky the Duck for the bible study program (wish I had pictures of that!), sitting with dear friends during Christmas Eve services..... I loved church, and at some point I knew I wanted to be a minister. To do good, to help, to lead. That was the plan at least....

But this is the church that broke my heart as well. I remember so clearly the day that the youth group leaders pulled me into the parking lot to dress me down over things people claimed about me.... Mean things someone said about me that the the youth leaders latched onto and attacked me about. When I was just a kid! And the 'adults' who were supposed to provide us a good, safe environment pulled me into a parking lot and made me feel the worst I can ever remember feeling. I was so confused and hurt. So I left because I felt clearly that's what they wanted. And you know what? I think they were relieved that I left, which hurt even more.

Sure I tried another church, but it wasn't ever the same. Even though I had many friends there, I didn't fit in like I fit in at my church. So I left 'the church'.

I don't hold any ill will towards the church though because I really had such a wonderful, grounded upbringing there. I have the best memories and I feel blessed to have had the experiences I did. But I know I made the right decision by leaving.

I have never talked specifically about religion here because its such a touchy subject, but man, the memories just got me today.

And maybe I'll feel regret over writing this tomorrow because even 12 years after that day in the parking lot, it still hurts.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mucho mejor

Recipe for fixing my mood after a rough week of work:
- Flowers (purple and gorgeous!)
- Scrubbed tile in the whole house
- Shots and beers
- Walk with dogs
- Ordering pizza so I don't have to cook
- Ratatoille!
- Lots of sleep

I've got a wedding tomorrow that could prove to be interesting. Thank goodness the weather is finally cooler than 97 degrees.

Its Veterans' Day weekend. Thank you to all who have served.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


*sniff* My gay couple cancelled our meeting. I take everything too personally, so of course the first thing I thought is that they don't want to work with us. I know that's irrational. I guess maybe I was looking forward to it entirely too much. We're going to try to reschedule though.

This NaBloPoMo is endless entertainment in our house. I'll say to Ryan "Hey, I'm gonna be on the computer for awhile, is that OK?", and he'll do a rapid fire litany of different pronunciations of NaBloPoMo. naBLAAAAHHHHpomo. nabloPOOOOmo. nablapomo (super fast, in a French accent).

Ryan and I talk a lot about dreaming, mostly because I dream so vividly and he doesn't dream at all. To boot, I'm a lucid dreamer, which means I can control my dreams when I'm in them. Well the other night we were talking about this friend of his who's been going to some acupuncturist who insisted that in order to be balanced or some shit, he needed to dream regularly. So he 'prescribed' this thing called mugwort for this guy to apply to his temples before bed. Evidently this stuff causes hallucinations, among other things. And very vivid dreams. This guy was dreaming so vividly that he wasn't sleeping.

I know the feeling.

I dream so much and so vividly that I never feel rested. Ryan says that being able to dream like I do means I could be more 'open' then other people. He thinks with meditation I could harness it to do.... well I'm not sure what. But let me tell you, I would pay good money for a night with no dreams. Especially after last night.

Its not very often that I have scary dreams, in fact most nights they're so good I'd love to stay in bed forever. But last night I dreamed that a serial killer and his son broke into our house, Ryan fought them so I could escape, and by the time I got back with the police they had already beheaded my husband and put the head in the microwave. SERIOUSLY! And I don't watch horror films at all. How horrific is that? I was so terrified that I woke myself up screaming. Oh, did I mention I tend to talk or scream in my sleep occasionally?

So tell me, do you dream? And if you do, do you KNOW you're dreaming when you are? Can you change your dreams like I can?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Golden Compass

In the last two weeks I've been reading like its going out of style. That's not too unusal for me, but what is unusual is the books I've been reading. I've been hanging out in the young adult fantasy section. Odd, right? Especially since I'm strictly a literary type. Mure Pulitzer-for-fiction than dwarfs, fairys and witches.

It started because I wanted to read the book for The Golden Compass before the movie comes out next month. I liked that first book so much that I read the whole trilogy in the course of about 5 days. I really loved them because they were thought-provoking and smart. So now, of course, I'm totally excited to see the movie.

But then I became aware of a large campaign by the Catholic Church to tell its members to boycott the movie, because if they allowed their children to watch the movie, the children would want to read the books and they'd be exposed to themes that are against what the church teaches. (I'm not Catholic, btw, but I still got the email)

Look, I liked the book, and I completely see how the book is anti organized religion, but I honestly cannot see the big deal. They're scared of a book? And interestingly, if you actually READ the book, it is hugely supportive of spirituality and a higher power. And in the books, an ex-nun actually has a spiritual awakening. I guess I wonder why instead of reacting in fear, the church doesn't offer suggestions for how to discuss the content with children.

So, will you see the movie? Have you received the email telling you to boycott the movie?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Happy Holidays?

It seems like a pretty common theme in the blogosphere today is crabbiness over the impending doom that is the Commercialized Holiday Season. What am I saying? Impending? I meant to say the Season that has already come to a store (probably every store) near you. I've noticed it too, but really I don't mind it this year. Don't know what it is, probably a combination of just being too darn busy to care enough to be pissed off, but mostly I think its because I really thought this year the holidays could be a sad time for us. I'm just so thankful that my mom is alive and on the mend, having kicked the pants off leukemia!

But while everyone is out buying their Christmas presents a month and a half early (shame on you if you're one of these people! you make the rest of us look bad), and all the stores are firmly in the 2 month holiday season, I'm concentrating on my most favorite holiday of all..... Thanksgiving! What could be better than a holiday that is all about food, MY favorite food, and doesn't involve the stress of buying presents? Throw in the fact that there's parades filled with Broadway musical numbers and I'm in HEAVEN.

When Ryan and I got married, the Thanksgiving dance began. Less a dance, more a balancing act. We've struggled for 7 years now to find the right balance of His vs Mine. Its amazing how attached we get to our traditions, and our two families are just so different. His are Early Eaters, Mine are Late Eaters. His have sweet potato pie and oyster-laden stuffing, Mine has spinach casserole and cranberry dressing. His play games (and cheat! don't pretend you don't!) after dinner, and Mine sit around the table letting leftovers get cold while we chat and sip wine. But for all of the differences, there's one thing that's awesome about juggling our time that one day of the year: we get to eat all our favorite foods TWICE.

But this year the unthinkable has happened. Our parents are out of town. No, not mine or his, but OURS. Not a single parent left in town to make us our favorite food?! No homemade stuffing? No pumpkin pie? NOTHING?! People, I cannot tell you how much this breaks my heart.

We're going to make the best of it though. My brother works on Thanksgiving, so we're thinking about having a mini Thanksgiving on that Friday, just the three of us.

At the very least, this new arrangement will probably involve tequila shots.

I was just reading a piece of this post to Ryan, the piece where I just can't believe this will be our 7th Thanksgiving together. Then it hit me, this is actually our EIGHTH Thanksgiving together. 8 years ago this month Ryan and I sorta started dating, and over the Thanksgiving weekend I met his parents for the first time We had pizza, and I remember my family giving me such a hard time because I was MEETING THE PARENTS. And I remember thinking, "Why in the world am I meeting the parents of a guy of only been on a few actual dates with?". Heh. Who knew. :-)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Day 5 - Alternative

It is so odd how clients have come to me for business. I've gotten some from Craigslist, some through my website, some by word of mouth, and some I'm not sure where they came from.

This Thursday I have a meeting with one such couple. To be more exact, I actually haven't been in touch with the couple at all, but a wedding planner. Which is also a first. I've been chatting back and forth with this planner and it occured to me the other day that I knew nothing about the actual couple, so I asked for details.

Imagine my surprise when the planner writes back that it is a gay couple, two women, who are getting married. My first thought was excitement. I never even
considered that I might be able to photograph gay weddings! See, I grew up visiting our family home on Fire Island in an exclusively gay community. I wasn't so much taught tolerance, I just wasn't ever encouraged to see any difference between these people and any other people. So I didn't.

My excitement over the prospect faded pretty quickly when I realized that I wasn't the only person in this company. See, while I'm completely accepting of homosexuals and marriages between two people who love and are committed to each other, I still understand that not everyone feels that way. And I really do try my best to keep an open mind for those people as well. I know that people are brought up differently, and I certainly would want someone who wasn't as accepting to at least
give ME the benefit of trying to understand how it is that I can feel as strongly as I do. (did I just talk you in circles enough?) So when I finally had the conversation with my partner about our couple, I tried to keep an open mind toward him as well. But truth be told, I'm worried.

But, I am going to do my level best to be a real, good part of their day. All love should be celebrated, don't you agree? And awe heck, even if you don't agree, I'll still respect that you have that opinion. Even if I don't understand it.

Oh, but I should also say that while I'm excited, I think its just a little unfair that the wedding planner didn't mention the fact that the couple was gay. I do think its a little unfair to me, but mostly its unfair to the couple. What if I wasn't who I was and I showed up at our meeting and reacted poorly? That would have been horrible...

In NaBloPoMo buiness: I am keeping up with my daily picture taking, and proudly I'm actually keeping up with it! I've got the backup computer today though, so no
picture posting today. But really, this works to my advantage! Now on a NaBloPoMo day were I just don't have anything to write about, I'll bust those out.

At any rate, if you're in NaBloPoMo and I haven't visited you, or this is your first time here at Putting Out Fires, leave me a comment so I can come back and visit you as well.

Ok, Ok, one picture. But I warn you, we have limited photo subjects hanging around here.... So I give you Miss Karma D. Bear and her duck for some Monday cuteness.
When she runs with that duck in her mouth she looks like a real lab! :-)

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Blahhhhh. Already on Day 4 and feeling like this is a chore. Anyone else? I just want to sink blissfully into my Sunday beer and veg.

BUT, dispite my current laziness, its been a busy day. Walk to Starbucks w/ the pups (always an adventure) for our PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE (hold the whip and the fat), then we came home to do our winter yard work but when thankfully interrupted to go out with Ryan's parental units for his b-day lunch/breakfast. Then it was off to deliver pics to a very gracious caterer who has kindly agreed to use us for their website pics. What an honor from such a well-respected company! At any rate, they own this adorable little restaurant overlooking a pretty lake in Phx, so of course we had to stay to sample their seasonal beer. Then we went home and did a grueling 3 hours of yard work. Ugh! But, thank goodness for winter grass and our growing cilantro plant!

So today I've been thinking about how much our lives are affected by others. We trust the people next to us on the freeway to stay in their lane, we count on friends to be there when we need them, we place too much creedence on the person in front of us in the 15 item or less lane to have 14 items... In general, we really are at the mercy of others. I've been thinking about that a lot lately with my new business. I've been trying so hard to be professional and to be the best at communicating with clients that I can, but sometimes things (and people) outside of my control really affect my success as a good, attentive, photographer.

Today when Ryan and I toasted our first drink of the Sunday afternoon I toasted to Patience. Usually, we take turns with the toast, but by the second drink I was ready to toast again. I toasted to the ability to just let go of the things we can't control. This goes along with what Ryan told me yesterday was a big part of his 'new' year of being 29. He wants to get back into meditation to help with his focus and calm.

I think I could benefit from that too.

So tell me, what do YOU do to relax?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Guess Who's 29!

Today is my Ryan's birthday. One last year being a '20 something'. Eek! To celebrate my hubby, we've had a day of things he wanted to do. And how does my tough firefighter spend his birthday? Well, it starts with sleeping in, then waking up to gifts and dog snuggling, then on to our favorite bagel place. Next was a Starbucks run for fuel to get us through our grueling pedicures. The little pedicure ladies just love Ryan. Then we went to a brand new movie theater to see The Kingdom. Has anyone else seen that? More about that in a bit. And no boy birthday would be complete without a trip to Home Depot. (He had to even out the pedicures with something manly afterall). Now we're chilling with a beer and we're leaving here in an hour to hit our favorite wine bar then a new restaurant. Yay for birthdays! I love them all, even if they're not mine. And ESPECIALLY if they involve pedicures for me as well!

OK, so first I should say, if you live in the Phoenix area, we found a new movie theater that's kinda below the radar and everyone thinks its just an IMAX theater. Signal Butte and the 60. I highly recommend it.

Second, we went to go see The Kingdom today because it was filmed in places around the Phoenix area that we're really familiar with so we thought it'd be fun. If you're adverse to violence, this is not the movie for you. Also, I highly disagree with the 'message' that they throw in at the end of this morvie. They equate Jamie Foxx's character saying they'd go after the extremists who killed men, women and children during a kids softball game to an extremist teling a young child that they would 'kill them all', meaning Americans. Please tell me how in the world those two are the same? I simply cannot fathom the mindset where killing innocent people is meant to honor a higher power. And how do those movie makers think THAT is the same as going after someone who is known to have targeted innocent people, and who will undoubtedly do it again? It smacks of Hollywood attempting to make a stand against US action in the Middle East, but they fell so short is was ridiculous. Maybe I'm getting into tricky territory here, but seriously, I was just thinking to myself that I was kinda entertained by this movie when they threw that nonsense it.

Well, its now 3:30 and I've gotta get ready for my big date. I hope Day 3 finds all my fellow NaBloPoMo participants still going strong. See you on Day 4!

And again, happy birthday Ryan!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Two Year Plan

To say that Ryan and I are frugal would be an understatement. Yeah, sure, we’ve got a house payment and a car payment like the rest of America, but anything beyond that and we lose sleep at night. It has a lot to do with hating to hand over money, but more to do with the fact that we’re both a tad obsessive about watching our nest egg grow.

When I was in school for my MBA I took an amazing real estate class as an elective. The teacher went to great pains to show just how you can best leverage the investment in your house by buying up every 2 years. Right then and there we put ourselves on the Two Year Plan.

We bought our first house because it was unusual. People, don’t EVER buy a house because it is unusual. (Big curved walls? Really hard to hang stuff on it turns out.) That house was a big learning experience. So when we bought the house we’re in now, we had in mind to buy something nice and vanilla that would hold up as a home for 2 years, then we’d upgrade.

I don’t have to tell you that the housing market just is not on board with our brilliant Two Year Plan. Which, it turns out, is kinda OK with me. Why the change of heart you ask?

Well, we got boo’d this week. That’s right, some little Halloween elf (goblin?) snuck to our doorstep, rang the bell, then ran off leaving a bag of candy and a poem about how we’d been struck by the Halloween Phantom. Awesome. We don’t have kids, which makes it all the more awesome.

If you’re not from Arizona, you should know that Arizona houses do not have backyards that open to each other, we do not have front porches, and generally Arizonans don’t know their neighbors. But in my neighborhood I know that someone will put my garbage away at the end of the day if its still out, we know the alarm code to our next door neighbor’s house and vice versa, outdoor chores take longer due to the chatting and neighborhood gossiping that inevitably takes place on our driveway, and the neighborhood parents know its just fine by us if their kids come over to visit Karma and Mika….

I just don’t think we’d find that in another neighborhood!

So tell me, do you know your neighbors?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Because I'm Just That Crazy...

Last post I decided to do a picture a day in November. Then I realized that November is NaBloPoMo. (That's National Blog Post Month) I did it last year and while writing a post a day was tough (I was really boring MYSELF by the end), I was pretty darn proud of myself for sticking to it and not missing a single day. And since I'm obviously lacking literary excellence of late, I figured why not. There was a time when I obsessively blogged, and read other bloggers, and had blog friends that I read every day. I kinda miss that.

Ahh, so here's to Day 1 of NaBloPoMo. But I'm still going to take a picture a day as well. And for today, I give you Ryan's pumpkin from last night. He's very proud of it. I've never seen a guy 3 days shy of 29 years old act like such a little kid. With a knife.

Fall baking is in full swing in my house. This week I made pumpkin chocolate chip bread and cheesecake brownies. The brownies were for Ryan and his boys today to celebrate his b-day, as well as his Captain's birthday. (His captain is also my photo partner) Anyway, how was I to know that what I effectively did was 'out' Ryan. Evidently having a b-day is grounds for something along the lines of being doused with ice water then covered in flour. Poor Ryan! ;-) I have a feeling he's going to be on his guard all night. hehehe I swear those boys are like children.

Hope you have a great Friday and that it goes by quickly. Yay for the weekend!


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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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