Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending on a good note

I got a job!

I know.

I accepted the job AFTER fully disclosing that I'm about to need some
time off to fight back against my misbehaving knockers. They want me
anyway - it was such a Sally Field moment. They are going to set me up
to work from home as needed, plus a couple of other things that made
me weep like a beauty pageant queen - smiling through tears.

As a cherry on top, I'm typing this post (slowwwwwwly) on my new
iPhone. Santa rocks.

Happy new year - hope I'm around as long as Dick Clark, eh?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Morning smile

Read the red lettering, lower right.

It's COLD here in the smallbany area. My car says 10*. Booooo, winter. I am at Harvard on the Hudson, the windiest place around. It keeps getting better all the time. :)
Carly(via Blackberry)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A fine spiculated mess

There is a very long story to tell, and I'm going to try to keep it short, but I tend to ramble. Sorry...


December 15th I had a followup mammogram, and then an ultrasound of what (for the sake of my sanity) I am referring to as "My Boobie". Even I could see the spot on the original mammogram that was the cause of all this 'fun', and I have to be honest that my first emotion was a giant wave of annoyance that apparently My Boobie has decided to try to kill me. But the spot seems small to me, uneducated that I am, and so I am hoping that the endless procrastination that lead to an appointment that should have been in July winding up in November was actually a good thing. Because MB might have been fine in July, or "we" might have missed it back then.

The next day brought another ultrasound of MB in order to do a needle biopsy of the spiculated cells. (In oncology, a spiculated mass is a lump of tissue with spikes or points on the surface. So I knew it wasn't just a liquid-filled cyst. It's apparently a solid lump with Goth tendencies. Fabulous.)

Did I mention that the ultrasounds were done by a very professional female technician who I strongly suspect prefers to date women? I really liked her. For some strange reason this angle made the whole thing a little more bearable. Whether it was distracting or just an amusing little quirk of life, I can't really explain it well; maybe it was a mixture of both.

The biopsy was done with a special needle that can capture some of the cells to be examined by a lab. They promised me that they would try to get the results to me.... before Christmas. I wasn't sure whether that would be great, or really bad...

The NEXT day (tests were three days right in a row, this was really a lot of tests in one week, but the goal was to keep moving to work around all of the holiday time coming up) I had an MRI of both "the girls". I sent a text to a pal of mine describing how it must look to have a side view of a woman lying on an MRI table with an opening for her boobs to hang down through. It was something like this:

--u----

So that we're clear, I am taking this seriously, but trying not to lie in my bed for hours at a time going through boxes of kleenex.

Tuesday around lunchtime I was doing errands and the doctor who had performed the needle biopsy called to tell me that I do in fact have cancer. So apparently 2009 decided that since being unemployed for months didn't break my sense of humor, well, let's toss this at her. Merry f-ing holiday season, by the way. I actually felt bad for the doctor, having to do something this shitty right before Christmas. But, that probably would have been strange to mention to her.

Tuesday afternoon was very, very bad, with phone calls to some but not all family members. I decided not to tell my kids anything for now other than "I need some tests done because there is a lump in my boobie"... that word again, but it makes them laugh and postpones any deeper questions. When I know what I actually will be doing with/ about this mess, I will tell them. My inlaws are in their 80's and I don't see the point in upsetting them now, so I haven't told them ANYTHING. They will surely be a little annoyed at me, but they're far too smart to fall for the vague stuff I told my kids.

Tuesday evening my longtime friend took me out so that I could cry in her car about not wanting to have surgery or radiation or chemo or lose my hair or, well, actually die or anything like that... and on impulse she took me for a mani/pedi. I just never really do those, I walk by the places in the mall and see the women in masks and think... "not me." But it was such a nice gesture and I thought well, maybe a little girly time will help me get through this sucky day.

The vietnamese nail tech started doing my hands and said "Your friend pay for you." I sort of smiled a bit and said "well, yes, she is treating me because I'm not having a great day." She practically pounced on me and said "Ooooh, you sick?" and saw on my face that she had me. She grabbed my hand and flipped it over. She began doing a palm reading and showing me that my lifeline is long, very long, and has a little line that hits it and doesn't go through and so that means something will happen when I'm young but I will be fine and so "No scared! Happy happy happy! Fight!" I found it a little bit surreal that my guardian angel is a running around these days disguised as a Vietnamese lady.... but, OK. Happy happy happy Fight it is.

I don't have appointments with a surgeon or oncologist yet, but I am fully prepared to see Elvis in the waiting room at one of those appointments. I also briefly considered making my sugar cookies round with an M & M in the center, since half the family in the room would be thinking about my boobies. Too weird though.

So, I think this post has gone on long enough. Girls, get a digital mammogram; screw those old cheap bastard men who came out with a recommendation recently that age 50 is soon enough. Keep up with your doctor visits. Boys, make sure your moms and wives take care of themselves.
I'm going to watch "The Hangover" again and eat lots of Christmas cookies. Toodleoooooo. I'll keep posting here, if y'all keep reading.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not the same but sorta

The container for broken cookies is a little but like the island of misfit toys....
Carly(via Blackberry)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oops

So we have christmas houses and trees and stuff, and this poor guy just went to that big ceramic kiln in the sky. If I were more inclined, this tiny head could have a useful future beyond my garbage can. Alas.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In the bleak midwinter

(Title of this post is from a song I sing in choir... )

Friends,
If you can spare a good thought for me, please send it my way.

My family of inlaws are squabbling, I'm up in the air waiting for certain people to call me back about REALLY important stuff, and I'm thinking that it would be swell to take whatever cookies I've made already and a box of wine and just go hide in an Inn for this next week or so. Alone. Or, well, with you, dear reader. But not them.

Today my mother gleefully mentioned that "( she doesn't) really have to wrap much this year". I swear to you, I had just finished wrapping the things I had bought for my kids with the check she sent me. While I am grateful for the gifts, I still had some mood adjustment requirements after hearing that.

Maybe if things go my way, or pehaps even if they don't, I will soon be able to blog about all the crazy times I had in the last week.

In the meantime, despite being done with my shopping I will be at a mall tomorrow, because how do you tell your 85 year old father in law that you don't want to help him get a gift for his "bride" (of 50+ years)....? Not that I'm patting myself on the back, mind you... I'm just hoping to buy a little bit of karma wherever it might be on sale.

Here's to leaving 2009 behind very soon, and setting a new path in a new decade. Happy christmukahhwanzaa to you and yours.

Carly(via Blackberry)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The scene

I can't really bear to look... But I did notice incriminating footprints leading off into the snow...
Carly(via Blackberry)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wwtt edition 2

What were they thinking?

This is a screen grab from "spice up your kitchen. It seems like a fairly average /typical show with tips about colors and "counterscaping" (think about it )with items that are functional AND colorful.

But I can't get past this island. This is the side that the barstools will be on. (I know this from an earlier scene in the show.) So , now your visitors and children can kick the crap out of all your winebottles. D'oh.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rolling over

I guess I can trade this car of mine in now.

Well, probably not, given the whole "gainfully unemployed" aspect I'm enjoying (?) these days.

I may be getting an iPhone, however, in an "upgrade and swap" deal that Mr Carly has almost all figured out in his brain... Except he calls it an "iPod touch". So I almost passed on the deal! Ooopsie.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What were they thinking, edition 1

This garland is an example of the decorationally dysfunctional people living around me.

Swaaaag. Swag. Oh hell, let's finish this and go have a beer.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Eeeks... it's a random post

Sorry kids... if you are depending on me to entertain you, I know I am failing miserably since I haven't posted in a week.

Here are three mini - posts to make up for it, if only a tiny bit.

#1
It's been a busy week or two of avoiding any Christmas preparations whatsoever. But we had our first snow last night, so I need to get cracking.

I am plotting a getaway to go visit Suzy right before Christmas... without my kids. Heee heeee. I am also listening to Christmas CD's lately. This is rare for me; Mr. C loves them but I try to avoid the genre like the plague. I guess it's from singing hymns all fall to get ready, with the choir. I am partial to "A Dave Brubeck Christmas", and also "December" which is by Chris Botti.

This week my goal is to finish my Christmas shopping, so I can be that Annoying Girl who has everything wrapped 2 weeks before the holiday. Next week I'll bake some cooooookies and then skid out of town, hopefully.

#2
Yesterday my daughter had her first track meet. It was the first indoor track meet I have ever attended, and it was at a local community college. I walked into the gym and there were 500 people milling about, who all seemed to know exactly what was going on and where to go with themselves. Unlike, well, ME... and did I mention, there were no bleachers pulled out, since they would cover the actual track lanes? I had visions of standing from 8:30 to 1:30. Unhappy visions. Luckily by mid-morning they had put up temporary bleachers...

It took me an hour to decipher that the track was 200 meters, not 400. But at least it only took an hour, right?

#3
My daughter has a "teacher conferences" day of some sort, so no school on Tuesday, and wants me to see... new moon. This is SO not for me. I am in that 5% of the population that hasn't seen or read any Harry Potter, hasn't read any of the Twilight books, and would happily never change that. I won't even get a good nap, what with all the screaming... sigh...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dinks

We had some friends over last night. Between the four adults in the room there were six kids aged 10 - 15.

Not to brag, but I have cable, with a million channels. I have movie after movie on DVD. I have a Wii and a few dvds full of games for that. Ipods, PSP, and so on.

Every kid in the house ended up making Shrinky Dinks.

The littlest one had gotten really bored - she was the only one who didn't match to another kid her own age. So I opened the cupboard over the dryer where we have some long forgotten art & crafts supplies.

I guess our kids have gotten so far away from the "retro" toys of the 70's and 80's that they are interesting again.

We just let the kids play, and the adults drank all the beer in my house.

It's amazing how enjoyable the most mundane, silly pasttimes can end up being, if you just fill your house up with a few nice people.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ole

It's been a long day of cleaning and squabbling at Casa Carly and so I decided a batch of Margarita fudge is in order. And yes, I drank a wee bit of Tequila that accidentally was left in that bottle.

Ooopsie.

Recipe is simple, one and a half pounds of "white chocolate" chips melted with one can sweetened condensed milk and two "Mixer Stix" brand margarita flavor packets... plus a shot or two of Cuervo. Sprinkle kosher salt all over the top. Salty lemon lime goodness. Chill it. Or eat right out of the mixing bowl after I, I mean YOU, put most of it into a foil pan... to chill. You can thank me later.

Carly(via Blackberry)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quick notes after the music awards last night

Dear Rihanna,
was that a laser cut lace doily you somehow made into a dress?




And how does one actually make venetian blinds into an outfit? Aren't there a lot of sharp edges to worry about?


Dear Janet,
I couldn't decide if you were Peter Pan or a Pirate, but then I decided you already had a treasure chest.

Dear Green Day,
is Tre Cool thinking "I can almost see his belly button?" Because I am.





Dear J-Lo,
Don't... not ever again....




PS: Dear Blogger,
when the EFF will you fix picture uploading for those of us who still use windows IE? I am sooo tired of having to switch over to Safari. Because it reminds me that I *WANT* a mac and can't afford one right now....

Love,
Carly





Friday, November 20, 2009

Wuhu

So my mother is suffering from YuleTide-aphobia (an irrational dislike of Christmas) and has told me to spend X amount on my kids. Okie dokie, and Bah Humbug. But I have :::cough::: all this free time :::cough::: so I have started shopping.

I bought Wii Sports Resort at Tarjaaaaay yesterday for my son.

(here's a quickie description...
Wuhu Island has so many things to do, there's never a dull moment. A dozen activities await visitors: Archery, Frisbee®, Basketball, Cycling, Canoeing, Power Cruising, Table Tennis, Air Sports, Bowling, Swordplay, Golf and Wakeboarding.)


My secret plan is to open the package RIGHT NOW (after I finish this blog entry) and start practicing all of the games every day while the kids are at school. I figure 20-30 minutes of "training" per school day, and I will be able to totally school my kid after he opens his gift, at least until New Year's Eve, on every game.

I will have to go to Michael's and get one of those "shrink wrap" bags (you melt it with a hairdryer) so that the package will have that "new" look. Heh-heh.

PS: I totally want to scream the name of the island over and over. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Truly

I was in Borders today, trying to walk off about four glasses of wine I had with one of my best girlfriends at "lunch". We really did have food, mind you. Fabulous food. Pear / gorgonzola/walnut salad, and shrimps wrapped in bacon and pizza margherita. Yummy. But lots of wine. LOTS. Pino Grigiot, my achillies heel. So, back to Borders.

I saw a woman wearing an honest-to-gosh GAS MASK. Not a blue "I'm in surgery on Grey's Anatomy" mask. A friggin' GAS MASK. In a book store.

It's just NOT that bad, people. It's flu season, the USA is having a swine flu issue this season, yada yada. But. Really. OMG! A gas mask. I wanted to go over and hug her and say "don't be so afraid, just live your life" but 1) I was semi-drunk* and 2) she seemed to be too far gone for someone like me to help; I was afraid I might confirm the very worst of her fears... that there are people OUT THERE who will come up and hug you and put cooties all over you. I feel so sad for her.

*ok, really drunk. Whatever. Gas mask???????!!!!!!

Someone

....In my house REALLY wanted cake.

I am currently in a dillemma of "do I prioritize money, or actually enjoying my job ?"

Don't get me wrong. Money is nice. Vera Bradley bags and Sephora and camera equipment and... But spending 40 hours a week doing something because I feel like I 'have to' ?

But unlike whoever tore into this box, I may not be able to have my cake and eat it too.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday night fun

Torture your 12 year old child by gleefully identifying your favorite Muppet characters in

http://www.nationalpost.com/muppets/index.html

and bringing up select videos on YouTube of classics like "C is for Cookie" and "Rubber Duckie" and singing along.

Question: why isn't Animal in the index? or the Swedish Chef? or Beaker? I didn't see the professor who worked with Beaker, either. Are they only in The Muppet Show? But hey, there's Guy Smiley and the Amazing Mumford. And Simon Soundman!

OK, so it's slowwwww here tonight.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sugar coooookies


This is my favorite Christmas cookie recipe... the one my family expects, even if I were to make no other cookies. (Which will NEVER happen, I'm just trying to make a point, that they HAVE to have these. What I normally do if I'm having the whole family over is something like the photo above. See the little trees / stars/ santa boots? this is the recipe.)


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup room temp UNSALTED butter*

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 4 cups all purpose flour

Beat the butter & sugar, add the salt, eggs & vanilla, and beat again. Gradually beat in the flour. My mother has always made these with nothing more than a bowl and a wooden spoon, but I think that at least mixing the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer is better. Depending on your mixer's power, you may not be able to use it for all of the flour addition.


Once all of the ingredients are together, you will need to divide the dough into three flat round 1" thick disks (Mine fit well inside of a gallon ziplock bag, but I usually double the recipe and make four disks, so keep that in mind. You want the shape to be pretty close to what you're rolling out so that you don't handle/ warm up the dough too much.... just cut the bag apart when you're ready to roll out the dough)


Refridgerate at least half an hour, until the dough is firm enough to roll but not solid as a brick. Use your favorite cookie cutters (one shape per cookie sheet, so that they all cook evenly) and decorations (I put colored sprinkles or cinnamon and sugar on mine... I am not patient enough to frost each one individually after they're baked.)


I have this marble rolling pan which is great because it's so heavy, (if someone ever breaks into my home while I'm making cookies they WILL be sorry...) and I use that to roll out the dough until it is about 1/4" thick. Use as little flour as possible on your board and your rolling pin.


On an nonstick pan I use a 350* oven for 9 - 10 minutes depending on the size of the cutout. You want the edges golden brown. Cool them on racks so they don't burn.


By the way, when I make a double batch, I plan for 4+ hours of work and about 10 trays worth of cookies. Plus the "ugly scraps" that I get when I gather the leftover pieces and re-chill them a little while. (You don't want to roll this dough over and over because each time you add flour, you make the dough a little tougher. So the scraps become the only cookies my kids are allowed to go after BEFORE Christmas day... they're just straight strips of the rerolled dough, with some sprinkles of whatever, but everybody's happy.)





*Do not use regular butter, and oh please dear lord not margarine of ANY sort. Unsalted butter. Land O'Lakes has it in a blue box. Seriously. Just don't even make these cookies unless you use the type of butter I say to use. My friend didn't, and her husband made her call me because they just didn't taste right. He's lucky to still be able to eat solid foods....

Monday, November 09, 2009

Laugh lines

So, over the weekend I got together with my former college roommate as well as two very good friends that we always got into a lot of trouble with.

We met at a little inn in a town not too far north of me. L got a suite, so we would have a couch, chairs, and a coffee table. This was a very important piece of furniture, because she also brought wine glasses for everyone, and everyone but me brough two bottles of wine. I missed that memo, apparently.

The wine glasses were from Leslie and they were hilarious. I was "Vino Hottie", by the way. Go ahead. Have fun with that.

I was a little ambivalent about going, being gainfully unemployed and all, but I knew it would be worth the money and I definitely would have fun.

L and M looked VERY much like they used to, in a strange sort of way. I mean, we're all 22 years older. But we're not. It was only when S knocked on the door that we all blinked, just for a moment (she said "DO I LOOK THAT DIFFERENT?" and the truth was, she looked great, her hair was just darker and a different style, and we just all paused that ONE beat too long. Ooopsie!)

So for 2 days we pretty much sat in the suite, drank wine, and talked about everything and anything. There were a lot of "remember when we..." stories and we probably could be heard laughing pretty far down the hallway. We talked about babies and divorces and parents and jobs (the question came up, but what do I *REALLY* want to do for work, and I'm still not really sure I know...but I don't want the job where my blackberry is going off at 4 am, that's for sure.)

It's amazing how many people in our yearbook we just couldn't remember. But L still has the same softspoken confidence and S still is very animated and expressive, and M still has the razor sharp wit and the wickedly evil since of humor. It was awesome.

We are planning to get together again in a few months. Mr. Carly said "with husbands?" Oh, hell no. How can we make fun of them if they're with us?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Ding dong

Today my son got out of school at 12...came home on the bus, and we went out briefly for subs.

My daughter has me hooked on the original CSI (the one that's set in vegas). Luckily for me she has obtained seasons 1-4 already. So I watch them while I eat lunch. *

The doorbell rang and when I opened the door I found two girls from D's class, all laughter and smiles. With a trumpet. D's trumpet.

He was sitting with the one girl - did I mention they are twin sisters? The trumpet was with the other sister, and he wandered off the bus without it...

They called, while we were out at the sub shop. The first of many smiling females to leave messages on my phone for D....

* breakfast... Snacks.... Whatever.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Crummy

So, I guess I'm channeling Oscar the Grouch today. The Today show had this cake today for Cookie, Elmo(I can do a mean impression of him, by the way) and some Abbie ca dabbie girl muppet.

(What? No I don't know her. My kid is 12. Cookie Monster used to still eat cookies, the last time I. watched SS).

Oscar probably wouldn't get out of bed so early. Ahem.

This cake pains me. I hate fondant copouts. I think someone phoned it in. Three-d, people! And the little mounded faces don't really count. I can tell Duff's team was nowhere near this.

Happy Friday, kids!
Carly(via Blackberry)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

When in Rome

...Do as the Romans do. When shopping in Target, think about Christmas. Grrrr. Can I have my birthday before the decorations go up? Geeeez.

At any rate, for $10 I bought a Wilton book, "Cookie Exchange". It's helping me stay awake during tonight's Yankee game (evil grin).

I love making rolled cutout cookies, and my family and friends love my recipe (unsalted butter people, try it and you'll thank me. )

I don't go crazy decorating. A little colored sugar or cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on before baking seems to please the crowd. But I could do more...the book is also fun just to browse through.

Some of the cookie decorating ideas in this magazine/ book are just OUT OF CONTROL. I'm sorry, take every cookie and cover it with tiny piped stars? Paging the reality police!

It's one thing to color flow on cookies. (Outine with a slightly thicker icing, then "flow" in thinner color that will level out smooth and set firm). Suzy does this for special party cookies - like for a baby shower. Beautiful. But you have to be a VERY patient person.

The book shows several variations of color flow techniques. You can pipe into color flow that isn't dried yet, you can drag and swirl colors...

The book goes pretty far beyond that. One tree is color flow PLUS flow for the star (requiring a second color of border and flow icing) PLUS piped pullout branches PLUS sprinkled sugar crystals. Figure ten minutes per cookie, easily. At Christmas, when no one has tons of free time! The good news is that each one is SO SWEET nobody will ask for a second cookie. They'll crash from sugar shock first.

I could see maybe doing a dozen or so cookies with some of the semi-fancy methods, for something special like to put one at each place setting for your holiday dinner. But I worry that this is the kind of book that makes Mommies stay up until 2 am the night before the holiday party....

I will definitely try coloring some cutout cookie dough. So simple and yet I never do it. Also I think this year I will dip some cookies in chocolate melts (and then maybe nuts) and/or drizzle melted candy over them. Another thing I might try is clear or colored gel underneath the sugar sprinkles. (Usually piping gel goes on cakes, as far as Carly goes.)

But color flow, then pipe detail lines and then PAINT THOSE LINES with gold or pearl dust? Noooooo. Crazy. (Okay. Maybe just on one REALLY big single cookie. )


Carly(via Blackberry)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Started my Christmas Shopping

... with a gift for ME. My mother is going to be sending me a check and $x is for me, and Mr. C, and then the (larger) chunks will be for the kids.

I picked the eclectic necklace and I will have a flower with my daughter's name in cursive, the pearl, and a square with my son's name in lowercase print. I have wanted this all spring and summer and was going to wait until I got a job to buy it for myself. I wanted to tell my mom that I had picked something special out, (not just another book or dvd, which although I LOVE THOSE, sometimes people don't want to give as a gift) and I think she'll like this.

So it should be here by Christmas, or maybe even Thanksgiving.... yay! You can click on the button over in my sidebar to go and do some shopping of your own.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Another bad Blackberry photo

If you find yourself sitting on a couch in a funk eating a candy bar like this, fear not. Candy makes it all better. Only once in a while, but still... Highly effective.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday art


Today we are having a gathering for a longtime choir member who is moving somewhere warm and sunny. I made this card for her and the entire choir signed an insert sheet. The photo is our choir loft, decorated for Christmas the first year I joined, 2002. (Hey, everyone takes photos of the FRONT of the church...)


The actual quote on the card is a line from a song we always do at the end of our season, and part of it is her solo... ('till we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand...)


I do these things because I'm
a) a frustrated would-be artist
b) hopelessly sentimental
c) a cynic who knows how to make people cry
d) unemployed and have to do SOMETHING....


You decide ;-)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Booooooo

It's pouring.... (This is the pumpkin I carved. My kids are out in this rain...) I'd better go make hot chocolate and doctor appointments!
Carly(via Blackberry)

Ugh

Here we go again... My least favorite day of the year. Anytime now the carloads of kids will start appearing in my 'hood. We have mostly retired people and apparently It's A Great Place To Trick Or Treat. Eff that. I'm considering a per-car charge. I will go through no less than 500 pieces of candy today.

I'm going to have to try to carve the pumkin this morning, as I've been sick all week. But now I can't really decide WHAT to carve...

(Sadly, there will be no wine to console me as I answer the door again and again and again. Does not mix well with cold meds... Although I did seriously consider letting them all wear off, not taking any all day and seeing if I'd survive until dinnertime and still be able to ...breathe...)

Is it November yet????
Carly(via Blackberry)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kelby-nated

A week or two ago I came across news that Scott Kelby was going to be doing a seminar in Boston. If you don't know him, let me sum it up this way: he is Photoshop Guru, if Guru stands for Geek Ruler of the Universe. Here's the very official description of the classes:

Kelby Training LIVE has just announced Scott Kelby’s Photoshop for Digital Photographers one-day seminar tour. It includes five classes, covering editing images in Adobe Camera Raw, portrait retouching techniques, shooting and creating HDR images, printing techniques that will help you get what you see on screen, as well as Scott’s very own step-by-step Photoshop editing workflow from start to finish.

I have his 7 points book, which covers the Raw editing he went over in this seminar in detail, and it's great. I texted my photography buddy APB that we needed to somehow convince our spouses that we should be granted parole to cross state lines for a day trip. (Yes, I got up at five, met A. at 6, and we drove to Bean town, attended the classes, and then drove home. Lonnnnnng day.)

I was a little bit annoyed with Scott, because of one phrase in his blog that I had an issue with, when he weighed in about Kelly Clarkson's photoshopped Shape magazine cover ("her battle with weight"... my comment over there, that THAT'S THE POINT THAT EVERYONE'S UPSET ABOUT, THEY MADE HER LOOK 25 LBS THINNER, ON A MAGAZINE WITH A HEADLINE ABOUT LOVING YOURSELF, MAYBE SHE'S ACTUALLY HAPPY THE WAY SHE IS.... brought me the first troll I've had in a while... ) - but I forgive him now, because he's so effing funny. There, I bet he can finally sleep nights.

And I have to tell you, the TomTom (a GPS navigating device, for my two British readers... hi guys!!!) rules Boston. Every intersection that I needed to turn at seemed to have 6 choices for which way I could go, and we made it to the convention center only about 20 minutes past my target, which left us plenty of time to check in, check out vendors, enter raffles we wouldn't win... and see ALL of the presentations.

Here's the thing. We owe an apology to the guy we sat next to. Because we laughed quietly but hysterically through a good portion of the classes. There were SO MANY "That's What She Said" setups during those presentations, we just couldn't believe he didn't know what he was saying. (The whole "ooooh, fingers!" bit for example.... ok, maybe you had to be there but when you're in that frame of mind, it's pretty easy to spot TWSS opportunites. ) The guy is VERY funny. I'm too tired to really do an adequate review and describe how entertaining it was to watch him tweak pictures, but he was hilarious. ("Too sezzy, too sezzy....." as he was moving the edge of a shirt over to be more modest... just little stuff like that made us want to bug his office. )

I definitely recommend the seminar ($99) to anyone who can get there - he's going around to various sites in the country (Philly and Tampa) in upcoming weeks. I learned a great deal... I came home and since I was wide awake from caffeine-ated driving, I started playing around in Lightroom 3 Beta and put some of what he taught us to good use (LR is similar to the Bridge component which he was using in the class to edit RAW format photographs). I'll definitely be using some of the portrait retouching techniques. Just not on pictures of Kelly Clarkson.

Unfortunately, when you put 400 people in a room all day, what do you get? I've got it! A cold.

I've got it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Art


IMG_2273
Originally uploaded by carlyq80
A while back (at least a year ago?) I used to post a photo of something I'd done, every Sunday.

Today I was out on what ended up being a rather pointless trip (to a "home show" in Clifton park that was about 20 vendors) and on the way home I wandered around Waterford Rural Cemetery for a while.

You can see other photos on my Flickr feed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Print it for your daughter

This:

http://www.rachelfitzwater.com/?p=258

was written by a friend of a .... whatever, I know her, and she IS that awesome. It's great stuff. I've saved it for a couple of weeks and just printed it out for my own daughter... she loved it and made me print it for her locker or something. Bingo!

Pass it along to your daughters and neices.... tell rf that Carly sent you. Mwahhhh!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Take a hike

Took a walk today around Peebles Island; beautiful foliage and sunshine on the rivers. I will be putting more photos on my flickr feed (probably tomorrow).

If only I didn't *have* to get a job... I would be quite happy not to! Except for that whole mortgage thing.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Off my Crocker

Today I needed to distract myself from something. And my mom's birthday is tomorrow, as well as a friend of ours at church, and Stanley and APB always likes fudge. So I made the following:

  • two batches of brownies
  • one batch butterscotch fudge
  • one batch of chocolate fudge
  • two batches of Margarita fudge (I put 1 oz of tequila in each batch this time and OH MY, that is why I made two batches)
  • little pillsbury no-bake mini pumpkin "pies" with graham cracker crust, in individual muffin foils, to bring to my mother's tomorrow
  • one batch of my favorite christmas cookie dough... it's flour, shuuugar, butter and walnuts and the dough gets chilled overnight. No eggs. We all sneak into the fridge repeatedly to eat chunks of the dough. If any of it lasts until the next day, I bake little tiny balls out of it and roll them in sugar. Yummmmmy.

So, in conclusion... the art corner... not so much done, perhaps half finished... but I ran for 45 minutes on the treadmill

Friday, October 16, 2009

Help!

You know how, in order to reorganize stuff you have to take everything out and rearrange it, but in the middle of the project you notice that it's a big discouraging mess and you really just want a glass of wine?

I'm in the middle.
Carly(via Blackberry)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Say hello to my leeeetle friend

My father used to hide a mouse something like this around the house from time to time.

My mother would open a drawer, gasp, and then say "dammit, Harold", and we'd all snicker.

I wonder if Bette and Stanley will like it at choir tonight. He is just the type to use a prank like this, over and over. Gotta love Target - four for a dollar.

(Don't look now Poly, but I just might enjoy Halloween this year. The solution involves WINE, I'm fairly sure...)

Carly(via Blackberry)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This

...Just about sums up the day I am having...
Carly(via Blackberry)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beads


So a month ago I started working on this necklace but didn't like the first version.

The bits and pieces have been sitting on my art desk ever since. After a week or two I came up with twisting together strands of wires with different sections. Then more time passed by while I figured out about how much chain to use and where.

Tonight I finally finished it. I fought with it for about two hours and then when the Yankees got their act together and the other people in my house stopped yelling at the tv, it finally all came together. This is as close as I can get to capturing the greens; they are actually a little tiny bit brighter. And can I tell you how many times I had to try to string that stupid dangling bead on the 'tail' ? I can not do a decent wrapped wire loop. Grrrrr.

It's got a lot going on but as it will be the only jewelry with a (cough cough BORING cough cough) navy suit and cream blouse I think it will be OK.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Choppers

So, this is how I spent my lunchtime yesterday, patiently waiting for these to be yanked out of my child's jaw. Blahhhhh. I had to look at them, so you do too. Mwahhh. And just for the record I did try to wash the blood off.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Smashing

So, I have still been fighting with this sinus infection. Mornings are tough.

Today I was on the couch trying to watch FlashForward on my dvr and I kept dozing off so it took about two hours to get all the scenes. When did I turn into a 90 year old lady?

I went to walk into the other part of my house and there over the kitchen doorway was a GIANT effing dark brown spider. I think if he hadn't been on my lovely white ceiling moulding I might not have noticed him QUITE as quickly, but... This guy could probably spin a web big enough to trap one of those annoying yappy taco bell dogs.

I'd post a photo (because yes I took a picture) but blogger doesn't want to accommodate me this evening.

I didn't want to walk under him, because hewilljumpinmyhair, dammit. So I looked in the garage for spray, but we are all about yellowjackets and not so much with spiders. Plus I didn't want to spray chemicals on my lovely tan walls and possibly wreck them.

I thought about throwing a baseball to crush him but 1) I suck and would never hit him. 2) bouncing? In my kitchen? Near my lovely ceiling light w three globes? Again, not so much for a plan.

Plan C was to climb on a chair and whack the hell out of it and pray he wouldn't fall (or jumponme, ohmygod) or scurry away somewhere only to return to build a web on my face while I sleep.

So I decided to use TWO chairs near each other. I would climb on one, step with ONE foot onto the second, and be able to retreat without jumping down to the floor and killing myself.

I rolled about 20 sheets of newspaper into a MAJOR club. Hemmed, hawwed, and finally thought, "oh crap, I have to do this."

It went pretty well except when I whacked him. I heard myself say "Mohhhhhhm!" as sort of an audible cringe, as I connected with the club and he dropped to the floor. On floor, not in my hair - check. Not moving - check. Me not falling off chairs - check.

I swear to god the word MOM had not been out of my mouth for ten seconds and my phone rang.

It was my mother.

I would NOT lie to you, internets.

Carly(via Blackberry)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Favorite new Funny

Little things entertain me ... stubby arms, waaaay too long fingers...

http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Today's project

Brought to you by annoying offspring who don't do their chores and a Mom who left their father to deal with their nonsense.

One trip to starbucks and michael's later, this is what I ended up with. The flowers were a total of $7.49.

The giraffes belonged to my Aunt Helena; she traveled all over the globe and I'm pretty sure they were all made in Africa since one has an ancient sticker on the back saying "hand carved in Kenya" and that it was purchased for $6.75.
Such a deal.


Carly(via Blackberry)

Bones

Really? Am I the only one who thinks these are strange?


Carly(via Blackberry)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Thought for the day


Courage does not always roar


Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying

"I will try again tomorrow"

-Mary Anne Radmacher

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Have I ever mentioned

....how much I love, LOVE tomatoes and basil? No fresh mozzarella tonight, how sad. However I did make some italian herb bread....


Carly(via Blackberry)

Frasier's got a new girl

There is an all white crane on the pond at the park now; I had noticed the different neck mixed in with all of the ducks the last time I drove by.

I'm wondering this is the "Mrs" of the Blue Heron I photographed this summer. In my vast knowledge... I conclude yes, it is... and that I need a real camera.


Carly(via Blackberry)

Summer is here

....And it's October....

I have been sick most of the past week. Finally I'm feeling better.


Carly(via Blackberry)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It must be fall....

.... I have my annual sinus infection. Love the feeling that I've been whacked in the face with a baseball bat. Oh no, really, I do.

My doctor said I may be allergic to ragweed just enough that the late summer bloom creeps up on me and eventually I get congested enough that I develop a sinus infection. He is a big fan of the Neti pot and.... ugh... have you ever done that? It burns! It burrrrrrns!!!

So next summer the plan he proposed is that I start taking allergy/ decons faithfully from Aug 1 to the first hard frost. So, don't make plans with me then... I'll be in a cloudy fog. Yeeehaw.

Going to lie down now... they're REALLY going to be happy to see me at choir tonight. Hi, Stanley! (sneeze) Hi, Bette (sniffle). Hi, Icky (cough)... I can already feel the love.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Margarita Fudge

Last night I was mulling over what to make APB as a gift for his birthday. I am sure he has a sweet tooth, because of our Cheesecake Tuesday habit. I also know he wanted to try a margarita cheesecake recipe he came across. (Technically... he mailed it to ME, so I conclude he wanted ME to try it and give him some or all of said cheesecake. Hah. )

So I came up with the idea of Margarita Fudge. (Not chocolate fudge. What I had in mind was a "white chocolate" base, with the lemon and lime flavors.) I used Google to search for a recipe... with no luck. Is the idea that bad? I didn't think so. I found a white chocolate fudge recipe to base my experiments on.

This morning I was trying to figure out when the liquor store opened so I could get some tequila. A good friend I happened to be chatting on the phone with said "Carly... maybe you don't want to be at the liquor store WHEN IT OPENS, looking for tequila." Point taken.

The same friend recommended using margarita mixer, like the ones you can find in a grocery store. I found a powdered version, called Mixer Stix. Bingo! I was worried about adding too much liquid and this seemed like a good option.

So I made batch one today, and it was somewhat of a success. I put in some lemon and lime zest, and sprinkled some kosher salt on the top of the fudge. As AB said "the taste of the salt comes and goes while you eat the fudge" which is what I was hoping for - the effect similar to how the salty taste of a margarita varies depending on which spot on your glass you drink from... Mmmmm.

I will attempt batch two when I get mini bottles of tequila and triple sec.

At last, now I will make my million$. Who am I kidding? I need to buy a Lotto ticket.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Its the thought that counts

So I had this great idea to make a Vera Bradley-esque pattern on B's cake. But I had crappy colors to work with. I had a fall design in mind and so I used some light brown and some green marbled leaves, and it was ugh. BAD.

Lucky for me I was able to peel off the entire top of the cake and scrap it. So now we have this. It's only marbled in one corner and I couldn't stop laughing at my bad flowers. But it's kind of cute considering I went into it with no real plan at all....

Happy Friday!


Carly(via Blackberry)

For my next trick

.... I will use these tools to make a cake for today's birthday girl.


Carly(via Blackberry)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Arrrrr

It be a lame pirate cake for me lad. And talk like a pirate day was last week so I'm done with that now.

I will simply add that my first attempts at his name were brown "rope" and it looked bad. I then tried brown and yellow and still it looked rather like pooo.

So pretend for me that 'tis a treasure map right there in front. Gahh. Although my fondant marbling was rather nice...


Carly(via Blackberry)

Fondant time

D's birthday cake. Any guesses?


Carly(via Blackberry)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Impatience

Technically that is not the proper spelling of this flower.

But I am waiting for official word of good news that I have been promised.... Waiting is difficult.

I planted seeds in this flowerpot right after I left my job. Now, finally, a flower. I didn't notice the buds... They were right under my nose.

Many years ago I volunteered at a wonderful organization. Now there is a very strong chance that I am going to work there. Waiting waiting waiting, for seeds to bloom.

PS: My children are eagerly awaiting their birthdays this week. I've got presents hidden pretty much right under THEIR noses.


Carly(via Blackberry)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

He'll never last

D's bus driver, to the kids: "Stop yelling! It's my first day!"


Carly(via Blackberry)

Always remember


to put on your parking brake. Safety first! Yes, that is a cinder block.


Seriously though. How does he RELEASE the PB? Does this guy always have a co-pilot? And what does he tell them? "Pull it out really quick and then put it in the back..." - - there's no way for that conversation not to be loaded with TWSS jokes.


(Thanks AB for the photo. )

Monday, September 21, 2009

Closing up for the season

With a sniffle I read a passing remark about the Emmys being the last awards show of the season. There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting watching the various celebs on the red carpet and picking out my favorite gowns.


I'll give you my top five choices...

#2 Kristin Chenoweth's dress was beautiful but either she scraped off a bunch of the sequins or they were left off under her arms for comfort (that stuff gets scratchy, I have been to a number of black tie dinners in my day...). It ruined the almost perfect look, if you ask me.

#3 Sandra Oh - loved her metallic dress and especially the shoes.... a splash of color

#4 Jennifer Love Hewitt - for some reason I really liked the flowing yellow dress

# 5 Carrie Ann Inaba - I only saw the top half of her dress, but it looked like her hair and makeup and accessories were well put together (If it was a mermaid dress, I retract any and all compliments)


BUT ANGELA KINSEY! Oh my!!! #1 !!!You will never see her look like this on an episode of The Office.







Fabulous. Winner. Hands down.


I adore Seal, but the combination of Heidi Klum's baby bump with her mermaid dress was just WRONG in so many ways. (On a related note: Tina Fey, please lose the black dress mama, you're gorgeous. )

Blake Lively's boops looked great, but it wasn't the dress, which was unexciting even though it was red. It was her being young and perky, and... why do I suddenly have a headache? I will Knot comment on Leighton's dress. Ugh. They should find out who Hayden Panettiere uses. Really.

Raspberries for people I thought could do much better ... Kardashian (pick one) , Padma, ... Christina Applegate and Sarah Silverman who were drowned by their dresses... I need to go work out now. Adios!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cash crop

This is my entire harvest for this year.

I estimate they cost me at least $7 each not counting my time spent planting and watering seeds, buying "good" dirt and digging up a small section near the porch... and a few stakes that are still much taller than my plants.

I shall eat them in a little while, with coarse salt (and a tiny pinch of sugar), pepper, and olive oil.

They had better be DELICIOUS.


Carly(via Blackberry)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The other lonely hearts club

Or, the Why Do I Feel Like the Octomom of Corporate America's Dating World...


For the single gal, Saturday night can be very dismal, as you sit home in fuzzy slippers imagining everyone out having a fabulous time, wearing beautiful clothes and clinking glasses and laughing.


For the unemployed gal, Monday morning brings the overpowering joy of filing for unemployment insurance ("no, I did NOT refuse any job offers last week, I worked ZERO days, I am NOT back to work full time"). Same fuzzy slippers, but this time imagining everyone standing around with hot cups of coffe, chatting about America's #1 Jackass, or that cute girl who threw the foul ball back.


Having nowhere to go is freedom and imprisonment at the same time. There are very few people who can take a two hour lunch these days... and you can't really stop in and hang out with your friends while they're at work without them getting a little bit twitchy.


The time that I thought I would spend the MOST time on my hobbies has turned into The Time Where I Do Things For Other People Because I Have Time Because I'm Not Working. The flip side of that for a procrastinator is that the more time you have, the more time you can waste on things like Facebook quizzes and Twitter. Or :::cough::: blogs. And yet I also blog less than usual now that I'm not working. Although I have finally solved that problem of being a CraigsList virgin and I'm having a garage sale. Please, kill me.


It's a mixed up, upside down feeling. The world will thwap you again and again in the face - suddenly EVERY sales clerk asks me if I would like to open a credit card with the store to save 15 % on this purchase. I don't really want to say "uh, no, out of work, don't plan on opening new credit cards nowadays"... even though in terms of cash flow, things are good for now. Every purchase is already a little bit dicey ... "should I buy this? I should Wait Until I Get A Job." Do you go on and live your life, or do you wait for that wedding ring / new cubicle to make decisions?


And interviews? Blind dates, in all their gruesome glory. What do I wear? Will I get lost on the way over? Will they be nice? Oh god don't be late Carly, for god's sake leave the house on time and don't be doing something stupid at the last minute to make yourself late. And don't have anything stuck in that little spot in your front teeth, and don't trip, I know you've been in flip flops all summer and now you're wearing stockings (OMFG I hate stockings with every bit of my tattered soul) and high heels but for god's sake don't trip when you walk up to The Interviewer. Don't make the wrong jokes. Don't spill the bottle of water they so nicely offered, all over the table.


And then AFTER the interview, the torture truly begins. Wait for the phone call. Does he like me? Does he like someone else more? Should I call? Will he call? Should I email? I should email. What should I email? F-ck.


I don't want to date anymore. I am somewhat discouraged by the thought of replacing my cubicle job with another cubicle job. But summer's over and all the cute boys, uh, good jobs are taken and now I am going to have to decide what to do with myself .

They don't call it Monster.com for nothing ;-)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Homework

My children were talking about a poem today that D had to read. She actually helped him with the essay questions. In the course of their discussion they came up with this insight, and I had them write it out for me.

I loved it because I am struggling with identity issues now, as I apply for jobs similar to the last one I had. I want to be doing different work in five years but for at least one of my options I have to do some tech retraining.


Carly(via Blackberry)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Seriously

It's hilarious... I see a squirrel dart frantically off when I approach, and then I trip over a half ripe sort of weird klunky fruit. They are hiding them everywhere.

You won't believe where this one was...


and then this one wasn't hidden at all...

and there was one buried in here...






but this (a zoom out from the first photo in this post...) made me laugh the hardest.. see it?





Attention critters

Please, please, stop leaving these weird clunky fruits on my doorstep. (Not to mention the other ones I've found on the perimeter of my household.) It's not hidden! I see it.

Thank you.


Carly(via Blackberry)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Clicks and random sidetracking

This week I had some success with some of my photos.

Out of the blue someone from Schmaps (google it!!)contacted me via my Flickr feed to request permission to use a photo I took at the Empire State Plaza. Wahoooo! It is not final yet... They were contacting finalists though. No prize $$$ but it's still pretty cool to think that I would have a photo credited online. It's a photo I took of the Egg, from across the fountains, with the yellow sculpture in front. The sky is all blown out but she liked it anyway.

As I write this my trashy neighbors (who had a mattress leaning against the back of their house all winter) are loading stuff into a trailer. Please please please move. I think they are emptying their garage; when last I saw it there was junk from floor to ceiling. Please please move!!

My other neighbor was in her driveway cleaning out the cages for her birds yesterday. Her bird kept screaming "DAAAVID" in a way that made me think the dude gets in trouble a little too often.

Not like my Mom's bird who screams things at the dogs like "WHAT did you DO?" And "GET in your BED". But that's another story.

Where was I ?

Another email was from my Meetup photography group. For an upcoming speech by Richard Florida at the Palace theater, they are looking for photos of NY state and the region I live in to use/project on a backdrop. I sent four in, and mentioned other locations that I had, and got an email back asking me to submit some of those. Again, no money, but I would win a free ticket to the speech. If you remember me taking a photo of the sun streaming through the windows of an abandoned building (while I drove down the highway), that was one of the photos...


Well, I am sitting on my porch enjoying the weather we should have been having ALL SUMMER but didn't... So I will sign off for now. Adios.

Wait... One more story. Today my daughter and I ran into her former Spanish teacher. It was funny because B is in high school now and she got a 71 on the state Spanish proficiency, so she never has to take Spanish again. Senora offered to help her w/ Spanish if she needs it. Ummm, yeah...not so much.

(My daughter carries a fully loaded purse. Two types of antibacterial lotion- -girly scented and plain, kleenex, a mirror, a pen, pencil, AND a Sharpie, a deck of cards, money, her phone, gum,.... Not sure what else but I may have McGyver in my house. She's prepared. I just needed to share that). Adios!


Carly(via Blackberry)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Get on the bus

Well I dragged my daughter out of the house sobbing and screaming and pushed her onto the bus this morning.

Ok, I'm kidding. I told her to quit being a wuss and get on the damn bus.

You know I didn't mean that either, right?

But she did cry a little bit in the house this morning. And yesterday. And the other day. It's been a big day looming over her.

It's hard to go from a class of fewer than 15 kids in your entire grade to 100+. So we joked about sending her to school with a little one-shot bottle of rum, just to make a good first impression and all.

Yesterday, to distract her, we went to Sephora. My plan was twofold... A sharpener and some eye makeup. I bought some sephora lip liner down in Pitt, and I love the color, but for the life of me, I can't get a sharpener that will fit it because it's an odd size, a bit wider in diameter than a standard slim pencil but not as wide as a "bigger" standard. It's making me crazy. So that part of the mission was a "fail" and I have a very cranky email waiting for someone at Sephora's customer support team today. (Sorry, but geez. Wtf. ). I am going to use my son's jacknife to sharpen it, so help me.

I also wanted her to have a little bit of makeup in the right colors so that she can wear it if she wants. The consultant in the store who helped us did give us some good colors but her own eyes were REALLY "dramatic" so
I got nervous. Luckily my daughter has not gotten on the bandwagon of Pushing Mom's Buttons yet so she did a very subtle application this morning.

Pray that she can open her locker at least once today. That will be one of the big hurdles for her that no IEP can help her work around. Riiiiiiiight, lefffffffffft, right, good luck. Oy. I told her to just give her combination to someone cute and not leave anything valuable in the locker. Does that make me a bad mother??



Carly(via Blackberry)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Books

.... that I would like, in no particular order.... so here they are alphabetically... they all seem like very fun books...

these are currently on the "when I have a job, I hope I can treat myself" list.

(Which is where the iPhone is, and a "good" camera, and so on...but these are much smaller purchases!)

PS: Send good thoughts my way; I had an interview for a job that I would *love* to land. The interview went well, now I am "patiently waiting". Heh.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

IMG00282-20090906-1933.jpg

A horrible, grisly murder at the birthday party....


Carly(via Blackberry)