Monday, January 31, 2011

Oil On Canvas

Here it is, the product of my relatively newfound love of oil paints.  I'm not sure I can go back to acrylics now.  I started with a landscape taken from one of my photographs of Lake Tahoe.  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mamma Mia!

Over the holidays my mother tried to kill me. She may try to kill me again when she reads this post, but I will tell you about the first murder attempt.

My mother makes the most delicious peanut butter fudge, which she only makes around Christmastime. One evening we were both sitting on the couch watching TV. I got up, got myself a piece of fudge and flopped back on the couch. On my second bite of fudge I felt something...hard. You know, that grating sound on your teeth that sends chills down your spine? That is what the crunch on this hard bit induced. I know the fudge is usually smooth as peanut butter so I was intrigued. My mind first went to "it's just a piece of eggshell!". A millisecond letter I was let down when I remembered that there are no eggs in the fudge. Then this conversation happened as I began to extract the item:

Me: "There's something hard in my fudge, I can't tell..."

Mom: "Is it a knife tip?"

Sure enough, right then I pulled a tiny piece of metal out of my mouth.

Me: "Yes it is?! What the hell?!!"

Mom: "I was afraid of that. The knife tip broke off when I was chopping chocolate and I couldn't find it."

"Im sorry. You knew this was in the fudge and you didn't think to tell me?"

"I was hoping I would get that piece."

"That's taking a bit of a chance don't you think? You could have killed me if I swallowed it!"

"It would have just come out the other end..."

"Mother, it's not a marble, it is a sharp piece of steel! With a point! Made precisely for cutting!"

"Well you didn't swallow it."

"Really, very much not the point. I could have had serious internal bleeding. How would you feel then?!"

"I had hoped it went on the floor..."

"Oh, okay where I walk BAREFOOT!?"


"Okay, from now on I would appreciate it if you front load all information on potentially deadly food, not explain after the fact."

And then I added two grad schools on the East Coast.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Low Blood Sugar, Aisle 5

I recently started a medication that has significantly reduced my appetite. This is a doctor prescribed and monitored medication, so I don't want to get a million emails telling me that I am a wackadoo taking my life in my own hands. Alrighty then?

As I said, this medication definitely reduces appetite and has really aided my weight loss. The only problem is that I sometimes forget to eat. It can be a problem when it gets to be 4pm and I realize that all I have had to eat since I woke up is a banana and yogurt.

Doesn't sound too bad right? Well, you should probably ask the girl on her cell phone who was behind me in line at the store when I turned around and apparently said something along the lines of pulling the still beating heart out of her chest if she started another sentence with "and then like...".

Right then I thought, "hmm, I should probably eat something".

I exaggerate. Maybe.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Endings And Beginnings

"There will come a time when you think everything has finished. That will be the beginning." 
- Louis L'Amour

    As some of you out there know, I'm applying to Graduate school. Or, more accurately, Graduate schools. Eight of them. Eight. So much energy, stress, anxiety, happiness, frustration, and confusion goes into this process that I felt I needed to use the blog as a platform to share and vent. First off, let me say that nothing can prepare you to go through the admissions process. Nothing. Not having previously applied for, been accepted to, or graduating with an undergraduate degree. Grad school admissions are a whole different animal. Undergraduate admission is a cute, furry little bunny named Mr. Fuzzy. Grad school admission is a three ton hippopotamus named Thor The God Of Death. Got that visual in your head? I mean, Thor takes one look at Mr. Fuzzy and says, "Puh-leez, that little thing isn't a freckle on my hippo ass". So he eats Mr. Fuzzy and spits out his bunny bones as a warning. Say bye bye to Mr. Fuzzy, and with him, all of your notions of what the admissions process is like. 

A file for each school

   We seem to have wandered off the point a bit. Right now I am applying to eight schools. Usually this means two applications for each school. One is for the university and one is for the individual program. So, eight schools, sixteen applications. There are transcripts to request and mail out, letters of recommendation to ask for, the GRE to take, fees to pay, and a 'letter of intent' to write. Sound like fun? No? Well then add in the fact that it seems like all of the universities have had a meeting to make sure that they all want different things. Oh, Northwestern University you want a 500 word statement and four letters of recommendation? Well then, University of Washington, you should ask for a 1000 word statement and two letters of recommendation. That will mess with them! Some schools want all three GRE area scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing), and some only want one area.

    Now I'm going to take a sidebar here to discuss the GRE, the Graduate Record Examination. This test is the work of the devil himself. It is unlike any test you have ever taken, from first grade through college graduation. First, it's fast. Really fast. 30 questions in 30 minutes per section fast. Also, it is now only offered on computers. By itself, that could be a good thing, but here's the kicker - you can't skip around through the questions and answer the ones you know then go back and answer the ones you were unsure about. This was the testing strategy drilled in our heads for standardized tests, especially the SAT. On the GRE, the screen pops up with one question at a time. If you get that question right, your next question is harder, but worth more points. On the other hand, if you get it wrong, your next question is easier and worth fewer points. You have to learn a whole new test taking strategy for this test. Here's what's even better, the Quantitative section (I guess calling it Math frightened people) encompasses all the math you learned from 9th grade through the end of college. Geometry, Algebra, Statistics, Fractions, Exponents, etc. You have to remember it all and know when to use which equation. Doesn't that sound like a blast?! I took the GRE for the first time in December. I say 'for the first time' because I am taking it again next week. In the Verbal section I scored 630 out of 800. In the Quantitative section I scored 590 out of 800 and on the Analytical Writing section (writing two essays on the spot) I scored 5 out of 6. Not terrible, and certainly better than I expected. After some intense one on one tutoring, I hope to get my math score up into the 600s. I will be sure to let you know how it turns out. It is liberating to know that after I take it again next Wednesday, I won't ever have to take it again. Never. Never ever. 

   Okay, back to the general admissions process. So you have collected your transcripts from the university where you got your undergrad degree and have mailed them out to your prospective schools. You've taken GRE, usually more than once. You have written, re-written, completely thrown out and finally completed your letter of intent. You've asked college professors and colleagues for letters of recommendation, always a strange request. You have filled out two applications for each school, some online and some on paper, always keeping in mind each school's individual deadline. Basically you've done everything in your power to make your application packet scream 'Pick me! I'm special! Your school needs me!" This is the step I am at right now. Some schools have a deadline of February 1st, others are later in the month or into March. I have multiple online applications in various stages of completion right now. Each is on a different website, each has a different username and password, each asks different questions. 

    Here is where I tell you why I'm only crazy and not INCREDIBLY CRAZY. My parents hired a company, the ESM Group, which offers one on one admissions counseling and GRE prep. I meet on Skype with my tutor and advisor regularly. Knowing that there is someone else keeping track of everything that needs to be done allows me to breathe a bit easier. My advisor is so familiar with the process that he knows how best to present me to each school. He knows how to tweak my statement here or use this recommendation there. His job is to do everything in his (and my) power to get me into each school. And he is good at his job. He is like a college advisor on steroids with eight arms. I can't say enough about this company. I was crying and pulling my hair out when I was trying to go it alone. Now I only occasionally curl up in the fetal position and mutter something about the Pythagorean Theorem. 

   So, what is the point of this huge long post? Well, there really isn't one. I just wanted to vent. No one ever told me what applying to graduate school entails. I'm really not writing this to discourage anyone from applying. But I know it would help me to know that the whole thing is overwhelming for someone else too. Most universities, at least in my field, admit less than 10% of applicants (say 40 out of 500). I am applying to Communication Disorders programs with the goal of becoming a Speech Language Pathologist. I'm incredibly excited to start working on my degree, I just have to get through the admissions process. I think I am writing this to ask you, The Internet, to send some positive thoughts my way. I don't want pity, I'm incredibly excited about my future. I just need to know you are rooting for me. 

    I will update you next week on my second round of GRE scores, be they good, bad, or ugly. Then I will tell you when I send out my last application and breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, I hope to share with you the schools I (hopefully) get accepted to. Maybe when I'm done with the applications I will share the names of the schools I'm applying to, maybe not. I'm still not sure if I want to put that out there. 

   If you got to the end of this post you should get a medal. Thank you for tolerating my rant. You are all flowers in the garden of awesome.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Don't Let The Baby Eyes Fool You, He Is The Devil

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Little Press

The photos of my friend's girls that I took last week can now be seen at Censational Girl. I'm happy they were useful in the makeover process and it is neat to see them displayed so beautifully!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Time In Tahoe

Every year my family makes the trek up to the house in South Lake Tahoe.  It seems like we always get the most wonderful weather when we are there.  This year we had blue skies the entire time, and about 5 feet of fresh powder on the ground.  

We did a little snowshoeing. 

(Photos of me courtesy of my mother)

Arrow has figured out that it is much easier to walk on the back of my show shoes rather than sink into the snow up to his chest.  As you can imagine, I don't take too kindly to having to lift his weight and mine through the snow.  

The decks of the house offer some luscious scenery.

My mother, grandmother and I went up to Northstar for lunch at the Ritz Carleton one day.  The lunch was spectacular and so was taking the gondola down to Northstar Village.  
The village and the Ritz are set up in a ski in, ski out fashion.  The gondola goes right over the ski runs and the restaurant is at the bottom of one of the smaller runs.  They also have a pretty cool half pipe.

(My Mother and Grandmother)

Driving home through the Nevada side of the lake offered some wonderful views. 

All told, it was a spectacular vacation.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Day

We woke up on New Year's Day to about two inches of snow on the ground.  While the base of the Napa Valley doesn't get any snow, we do get some once or twice a year up here in the surrounding mountains.  Arrow, who adores the snow in Tahoe, was appropriately thrilled to see the snow on his own turf.  I believe it was a fortuitous way to start 2011.

Oh, and last but not least, here is my signature cherry pie.  The recipe comes from my mother's mother.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't Call The Authorities, She's Just A Klutz

I have a problem. Well, it is actually a problem compounded by a condition. The problem is that I walk into things, smack into things, and bump into things with astounding frequency. The compounding problem is that I bruise like a peach.

Often I can be heard in another room saying one solemn "ow" in a bored voice. I can't even muster the emotion to exclaim "OW!" in pain. I walk into door jams, cabinetry, tables and chairs. I ask "was that always there?" far too often.

I did Gymnastics for many years as a child and was not completely uncoordinated. This makes me wonder if my "disability" is developing as I age. Either that or all of the vault and uneven bar related injuries have ruined my body forever. However I do have one of my meets on video when I was about seven and I can be seen smacking head on into a wall. That can't have been healthy. There was also the time I fell off the high beam and caught myself with my crotch, who knows what that did.

My legs are currently sporting about ten bruises between them. One on my right shin has a raised bump like a golf ball. Not too attractive. I don't usually feel pain where the bruises are. Sometimes this means that I don't know I have a bruise, you know, if it is somewhere I can't easily see. This leads to horrified faces when I decide to pull on a short sleeve t-shirt and discover a pancake sized bruise wrapped around my upper arm. People ask "WHAT HAPPENED?" with the same tone and facial expression they use when hearing about a terrible pileup on I 5. Embarrassed, I say simply, "I have no clue".

Where do I get this proclivity for walking into sturdy objects? My grandmother. She just came for a visit and explained that I come by my clumsiness naturally. Thanks a lot Grandma. Now excuse me, there is a UPS box that needs to be tripped over.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Arrow Calendars

UPDATE: You can also order a calendar with your own holidays on it. The regular calendars have all the major holidays plus one birthday, Arrow's. If you would like a personalized one with your own family birthdays and events just let me know. The personalized calendars will cost $18.
Finally!  The 2011 Arrow Balance Calendar is now available for purchase.  Just click on the "buy now" icon on the left sidebar and follow the steps through Pay Pal.  The calendars are only $10.50 
Here is a little taste of what you can expect. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In Case You Hadn't Heard...

...the weather in California is cold and rainy.  Arrow strongly despises the rain.  I've seen him hold his pee for 12 hours instead of going outside and getting is delicate paws wet.  He will refuse to go out and I have to force him while holding an umbrella over him.  He really is a pretty pretty princess.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Christmas Eve Walk Through The 'Hood

We're coming back from the snow today. I will miss it dearly but this isn't a bad neighborhood to return to.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Her Nickname Is Double Stuff

While I'm up in Tahoe I thought I would give you a look at what we left at home. Now I need to get back to the, oh, six or seven feet of powder outside.

And sometimes she's really very cute.

And sometimes she's really quite evil.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Case Of The Blahs

Hi everyone. I've got a little case of the blahs. A nice comment on any post would be much appreciated.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Balloons And Flowers And Tutus, Oh My!

Today I had the pleasure of photographing a friend's three little girls.  Not only are these sisters gorgeous, but they were so well behaved and easy to photograph.  Just look at them!  I couldn't pick my favorites, so I am adding a bunch to this post.  If you are allergic to cuteness, look away.