Archives for October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Tray of brownie cupcakes decorated as witches

I had so many different ideas for Halloween cupcakes and I just couldn’t decide what to do. I think this ended up being a disservice because I kept getting ingredients and then when I settled on what I was making I didn’t actually have the right things to decorate with. But by then I’d already started, so I just improvised. The end result of this design isn’t quite what I expected, but I’m greatly amused by them. As you can see i didn’t use the cored out cupcake for all the hats. It was far too frustrating frying to cut them into the right shape, which is saying something given this is anything but a crumbly cake. So, most of the hats are Hershey Kisses. The cupcakes are the brownie recipe I made for the holidays last year and the frosting is peanut butter.1 I’m not quite sure what happened with the cupcakes because they popped up as I remembered them doing, but then deflated like a sad soufflé.

Anyway, hope you all have a fun Halloween. It’s sure to be a yummy one here.

  1. Not the one from the design link.

iPhone 4S

I’m still relatively new to the smartphone. I have a love-hate relationship with them. For the longest time I was firmly planted on the side of the fence where all that really mattered was that my cell phone make phone calls. Crazy, I know. I didn’t need to take crappy pictures with it. I thought texting was a waste of time. And if I needed to check my email or surf the intarwebs that badly, I had this shiny computer to do that.

Quite honestly, I don’t even remember when I moved away from that camp. I know I eased myself into the idea with a Blackberry Pearl. It was cute and small and I remember that I was able to check my email and send a text before I figured out how to actually make, you know, a phone call on it.1 Eventually the lack of a full keyboard frustrated me enough that when my next upgrade rolled around I got a Curve.2 Anyway, eventually I got tired of the limitations of the Blackberry software and the fact that I had somehow gone through five phones in two years.3 So last year I got myself a shiny Motorola DROID2.

I chose it because it has one of the largest screens and still has a full keyboard, which ended up being pointless because even though it was about 50% larger than the Curve’s keyboard I typed with even less accuracy. The cloud features are awesome and certainly saved me tons of time that would otherwise have been spent manually backing up the phone. But it lacks a lot of things that I didn’t really think about before purchasing it. It can store music, but only specific file types and half the time the conversion process doesn’t work. Same with video files. If I downloaded a video I took ON the phone and tried to put it back on later, it generally wasn’t able to play it. However, the biggest letdown was the lack of built-in accessibility options. Honestly, I don’t know how a fully sighted person can read the default text size on an Android phone; it’s tiny!

Really, I didn’t want any of those phones; I wanted an iPhone. But that wasn’t an option before unless I wanted to change carriers. So, I was ever so excited that the 4S was coming out right around my upgrade date. I was wary of the lack of keyboard. I don’t really like that you can’t utilize a memory card in it. And given my track record isn’t so great with not, you know, breaking my phones I was more than a little concerned about having a very expensive, glass phone.

Anyway, I pre-ordered it and it got lost by Fedex and then the new shipment got delayed and I’ve had it since Wednesday. I got it all set up and working and was having tons of fun with it all Wednesday afternoon and evening. At some point during my playtime the speech suddenly stopped working. I figured I did something and eventually I’d figure out the proper settings. The next morning I still couldn’t get it to work and so I went to the Internet for some help, which proved unsuccessful. But during all of that I noticed that my contacts’ information was loading that everyone was from the Netherlands, including myself even though the phone’s settings were for the USA. More Internet research frustrated me to the point I called tech support. I knew there was trouble straight away when the specialist replied: “Well, I’ve never heard of that problem before.” Three hours and a full factory reset later everyone was back in the Home of the Brave, but the speech still didn’t work. No, actually it only sort of didn’t work because sometimes it would say stuff but not consistently. After this long phone call I noticed the phone now wasn’t making other sounds, like actually ringing or making most alert noises. Oh, and the zoom feature wouldn’t work either. The tech was baffled. I was annoyed. I was told to get the phone replaced.

So, Friday, I went to the Apple Store. The first available appointment was something like five hours later, but apparently my sob story of crazy phone antics was such that the person setting up the appointment pitied me to a point that she went off and fetched her manager. He was equally baffled by all the weird things going on with the phone and seemed even less confident in solving everything than the guy on the phone the day before. He took the phone, told me to come back in an hour and we’d go from there. I have absolutely no idea what they did to the phone but when I came back after our portrait appointment it was talking and ringing and zooming and all my settings and music and other stuff were there. Also they cleaned the screen, which I’d managed to get nice and grungy already even though the phone wasn’t really working.

I might have more practical things to say at another point, but I’ve basically been playing with it nonstop since then and, um, I LOVE IT!

  1. That was after I took it out of the box, immediately dropped it on the floor and then kicked it across the room while (blindly) trying to find it.
  2. That would be the phone that took a trip through the washing machine.
  3. Two Pearls and three Curves, counting the one that got laundered.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hidden

Uschi lying on the sofa, hiding her face from the camera

I absolutely love this photo. It was the first photo I took of Uschi with my new camera and I think she much preferred the time where I wasn’t constantly trying to get a picture of her. I wouldn’t say she was specifically hiding from the camera so much as willfully avoiding looking in the direction I wanted her to. But I wouldn’t put it past her shrewd shepherd mind. I don’t think she’ll ever be as cooperative as Yara when it comes to being photographed, but she’s still better than Dolly who was impossible to get a candid of because any time she noticed the camera she’d pose for it! And, well, I can’t deny that she’s a lot of fun.

Hamming it Up

Headshot of Uschi lying on a white background

Holiday card portraits were today and I have to say I didn’t really know what to expect. Uschi’s generally not very cooperative when it comes to having her picture taken and we’ve had varying difficulties at past professional shoots. I will say that the cards are phenomenally adorable and I cannot wait to share them. Part of the success is because Cindy is amazingly patient and waits for that exact moment when Uschi’s actually in the perfect position, but also because I incorporated a second photo shoot as sort of a test run. I figured it would help acclimate her and tone down her stress, which seems to increase the difficulty of getting her to cooperate.

The test shoot actually ended up being a boatload of fun and there are some very lovely shots from it. The photo at the top of this post being a good example; I especially love that you can really see the red in her coat. But, as expected, Uschi was very silly, though not in a stressed out way. Mostly, she thought the whole point was to showcase her cuteness and I can’t exactly disagree with that assessment. Her method of choice was to roll on her back or try and crawl onto my lap. Without a doubt my absolute favorite images are of her hamming it up:

As for the actual holiday portraits, well, you’ll have to wait on that a bit. But since everyone is such a fan, here’s an outtake from the shoot:

Uschi leaning in to give me a kiss as I back away

Silly Dog is Silly

My dog is such a ham.

Uschi lying across my lap, upside-down on her back