Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Round-Up

I'm so sad that all my Halloween decorations are in storage and I'm going to spend most of Halloween this year either in art class or driving from Santa Fe to the Springs. All of the above have made me sort of lazy and uninspired about posting or even planning to do anything. I do have a very simple costume so I'll try and post some pictures next week.

I've done the usual round-up of Halloween posts from previous years. I'm really surprised I don't have more considering how much I love this holiday.

Last halloween

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Minimalism - Downsizing the house

Mike and I have been looking at houses to rent lately. It's so hard to find the perfect storm of unique charm, location, pet-friendliness, and other specific requirements that we need (or at least want), especially during the fall/winter time. The one thing we agree on, however, is that we want a smaller place.

That's not usually what people say, right? That they want to downsize their house? Well, as much as I don't agree with a lot of the tenets of minimalism (hello, I like my TV and a little chaos and color in my life), the idea of not being yoked by all your "stuff" rings true to me. We have quite a bit of furniture in storage in Phoenix and our current 2,400 square foot rental house is half empty. We're not thinking of joining the tiny house movement (500 square feet or less), but maybe something in the 1,000 - 1,500 square foot range is more our speed. We talked it over and we came up with a list of reasons why renting a smaller house would be good for us.

In no particular order...

1) Saving money. Instead of having a really big house, most of which we don't use, we can sacrifice a little space and have some substantial savings as well as take some trips that we've been planning in our minds including sojourns to New York City, Europe, Florida, and Belize. We would also save so much money in rent, we can even rent an extra storage unit for the "stuff" we absolutely can't part with and still end up saving a bundle.

2) Less to clean. This is actually my biggest thing. This crazy house we live in has so much space to keep neat and tidy and clean. There are two kitchens. I could really use a smaller space to deal with. Plus, I'm more likely to be neat if I don't have a ton of room to spread my crap out everywhere.

3) Healthy purging. It's a good excuse to give my closet a really good clean-out as well as getting rid of some of the stuff taking up residence in our storage rooms.

4) It's cozy and romantic. Mike and I are so busy and we have to spend so much time apart. It's nice to be close together when we get home at night.

5) It opens up the market of older homes, chock full of character. We were recently enchanted by a rental home that's over 100 years old. It is seriously the cutest house ever. Cross your fingers that they accept our application!

Even considering all of this, the idea of limiting our space still makes me feel a bit uneasy. There are a few issues as well, like the fact that most of these old, charming homes don't have garages (and I love my car and hate scraping ice). I also worry about being spoiled by having a large house and then going back to one-bathroom living. When these thoughts occur, we just remind ourselves that it's just for a year. If we don't like the lifestyle, we can go back to a bigger house.

Anyone else ever thought of downsizing your life a little? Or have you done it? Got any tips?

Friday, October 21, 2011


My husband, my brother, and I had so much fun at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta this year! We decided to camp out rather than get a hotel and, despite being cold and rainy one night, it wasn't that bad. If you don't have a low-temp rated sleeping bag (or an RV), I would recommend a KOA Kamping Kabin for a trip like this. I haven't actually stayed in one (yet!) but the fact that they are heated, sleep up to four people, and cost only $10-20 more than a tent spot might make them worth it. Plus, they are half the price of a hotel, and you still have access to all the amenities of the KOA campground. A full review is forthcoming on these, because I have reservations to stay in a couple of different ones during a road trip next weekend.

Sorry if I always sound like an advertisement for KOA but they really have made my last couple of road trips so easy. I stayed at a couple of non-KOA campgrounds on Route 66 and the difference in the amenities and how I was treated by the staff was extreme. I'll never stay non-KOA for side-of-the-road camping again. I swear they don't pay me to say this stuff.

Anyway, back to the Fiesta! Here are a couple of tips for you if you ever plan to attend. I consider myself a veteran expert now that I have been to two of them!

1) Get there really early. It will take you approximately 30-45 minutes to get to the parking lots from the freeway exit. Plus, if you get there early, you can enjoy breakfast before the balloons go up.

2) Bring money to buy food there, because the food is so good. Our standing joke is "wow, it sure is nice that they have balloons at this breakfast burrito convention!" They also have mini-donuts, organic french press coffee, and much more for breakfast. For dinner, they have pretty much anything you could imagine including pizza, burritos, grilled cheese, fair-type food, etc.

3) Bring cash. For parking, admission, and food. There are ATMs, but not until you have parked and gone inside the gates.

4) Bring a camera. Duh.

5) If you are serious about getting good balloon glow photos and fireworks shots, a tripod is a must. Plus, if you set up a tripod in front of you, people are more likely to get out of your way.

6) Don't stop if you see someone taking a picture and try and wait for them. I know that's the "polite" thing to do but everyone is taking a picture, probably continuously, and it really isn't practical. In addition, this is the digital age, so they can just take another one if you get in it. I found it really annoying to have to keep ushering people by, just walk on through.

7) If you are trying to get pictures of your friends who are close to you (distance-wise), and also get the balloons in behind them, use the flash to fill in their faces. That early in the morning, your friends' faces will be dark in the shadow of the giant balloons. You can always adjust the brightness to fix any flash washout (if you're not using a diffuser cap) in a photo editing program later. It is easier to do that than try and brighten up your friends to make them visible.

Ok, I know you all just want to look at pictures of balloons, so here you go.

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

balloon fiesta

I haven't done any fancy editing with these, but I'm looking forward to experimenting with filters and such. I'll put more up shortly as I get more stuff edited.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aspen - Part I - The Journey

Hallelujah, the internet is back! I feel like I got nothing done yesterday, even though I got lots of things done, just not on the internet. There were "technical difficulties" according to our ISP, and we were without it for most of the day. Good thing I have a smart phone!

Speaking of smart phones, I really liked Monday's How I Met Your Mother where they talked about how the smart phone has destroyed the mystery inherent in dating and effectively killed the bar debate. I couldn't agree more (not that I've first-dated since the onset of the smart phone - or even facebook! - but I can imagine). Maybe during the next friendly bar debate, we should all declare a "no smart phone" rule! It makes things so much more interesting.

Anyway, this post is really about my little trip to Aspen.

First off, this being a photography sojourn, I rented an awesome lens to take with me. I chose it based on recommendations from some trusted landscape photography blogs and tutorials.

The Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8G AF-S ED. Fancy, right?

The pictures turned out really great. It was totally worth it to have something other than my usual lenses for a special trip like this.

The drive from Colorado Springs to Aspen is one of the most beautiful ones in Colorado. Here's the route:

That little second highway from the 24 is the 82, a gorgeous highway with amazing leaf color this time of year and great views any time of year. My only complaint is that some of the steep areas don't have guardrails but they do have hairpin curves!

When taking a scenic road trip with a specific destination, I recommend only taking pictures on only one leg of the trip, otherwise it will take you forever to get there and back! It was hard to resist, however, because this was such a picturesque trip. Here are some of my shots from the journey.

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen
On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

On the Road to Aspen

Pretty, right? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

There's no pleasing some people

My mom asked me to put together a collage-style Christmas card for her to use this year with pictures of me, my brother, and my husband. When I showed it to her, she rejected my creation! Jeez.

I, on the other hand, think it's genius.


P.S. Click on it to make the awesomeness bigger. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

He can't swing, but apparently he can fly

Spider Pig, Spider Pig

Spider Pig

Does whatever a Spider Pig does.

Spider Pig

Can he swing from a web?

  Spider Pig

No, he can't, he's a pig.

Spider Pig

Look out, he is the Spider Pig!

Spider Pig

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Anglophile Shirt & Other Treasures

Better late than never, it's Thursday Treasures! Plus, a new shirt design! Yay!

There is a new shirt in the shop, designed for those who want to show off the fact that they are obsessed with all things British.

My husband and I are obsessed with the marmots on Pike's Peak. They are so cute but elusive. It's hard to spot them from the train. This is the best picture I've been able to get of one.


I'm pretty sure Mike is obsessed because he likes to say "marmot". A lot.

I may have found a cure for my grocery store hatred: the Super Target. It's a grocery store and a Target! Target is a place I love, and it makes me happy to go there. This might work. It would only be every once in a while, though, since Target is really tempting for me, and the Super Target isn't close by my house.

Roomba! I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I'm smitten with our Roomba. We used to have one back in the day, but we had problems with it and we waited several years before buying a new one, after the technology got a little better. I don't think I've ever appreciated having one so much until I lived in a house with wood floors. I hate sweeping. With a violent passion. I have to run Roomba every other day, otherwise the floors look disgustingly dirty. Best gadget ever. Now I really want this little Scooba to clean bathroom floors and the kitchen.

Minimal packing. I really don't like to overpack, and I hate checking bags. This website,, has some extremely useful tips if you're like me and you're all ways trying to cut items out of your packing list.

So, what have you been treasuring lately?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Let's just talk (upcoming blog stuff)

Hey guys, here's an idea. Let's just talk a little. This is something I don't do often enough here, just discuss what's happening and what's coming up on the blog.

First of all, I went to Aspen for my quick overnight camping trip and photo extravaganza. You will be hearing about it next week, and seeing some of the awesome pictures that I drove three plus hours, camped out, got up at 4 AM, and stood in the cold for five hours to get. Here's a teaser photo for you, taken by fellow photog I met at the lake.

That's the lens I rented from It was a thing of beauty.

This week is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. My husband, my brother, and I are headed there this weekend and I can't wait. Not only are the photo ops amazing, but it's just kind of a magical thing, being amongst all those balloons as they lift off. Look for some (hopefully) awesome photos next week.
 Balloon Fiesta

This year we are camping at a KOA for the fiesta, a franchise that I have nothing but respect for after camping at several of them along Route 66. The greatest thing about them is, because they cater mostly to RVs, they almost always have tent spots available, and the spots are good. The fact that they have showers, wi-fi, security and a little store is just icing on the cake. The one in Albuquerque actually has a swimming pool, hot tub, and mini golf! A lot of them also have little cabins that you can rent, if you're not a tent camper or an RV camper.

Post-fiesta, I'm headed over to Prescott to hang out. I thought I would do a little photo tour post. It is a charming town, after all, and fall is a great time to see it. I might stop by the pumpkin festival, too, even though I'm flying back, and I doubt they would let me take a pumpkin home in my carry-on. Maybe one of those really tiny ones.


I have a few other things up my sleeve, too. Stay tuned!! What's going on with everyone else?

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