Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Newest Friend

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
A while ago, I visited a local antique shop, entered a giveaway while I was waiting in line, and won! I am always happy to win a gift card to a place that I will be happy to spend the money. We knew that we wanted to spend the gift card on another insect to add to our 40+ specimen collection. The beetles are my favorite, but we already have a wonderful atlas beetle with it's wings out from our favorite taxidermy shop, Deyrolle in Paris, France. Part of his charm is that he was a steal (discounted in the "damaged" section because his wing was slightly torn), wasn't technically legal to bring into the USA, and he was one of the first insects that sparked my love of entomology. 
I was thinking we would get another insect that we don't have yet. We have a variety of butterflies, an atlas moth (the largest moth in the world), luna moths, a couple of local beetles, a local lubber, a walking stick, and more, all mounted in frames. We didn't expect to purchase a beetle that we already have, except that this beetle was suspended in a cloche, a bell jar, and not in a frame. 
It might sound kind of crazy, but in a cloche this atlas beetle seems more pet-like, and we can view him from every angle to study him. He's a fantastic asset to the natural world and I get so proud when I see them preserved forever. The world should always be able to admire these incredible creatures and to learn from them.
It's no secret that I'm an admirer of all things natural, and while it might seems strange that an ex-vegetarian would keep deer antlers and taxidermy insects in her house, I feel so grounded being surrounded by nature and science. One day, I'd like to adopt a beetle and keep him as a pet instead of as a wonderful piece of science. But I still have so much to learn about beetles before I adopt one to live in my house instead of nature. 
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekend Recap @ Wekiwa Springs

Monday, July 29, 2013
I hope everyone is feeling refreshed from the weekend! We've had a lovely balance of at-home time and exploring/adventurous time this weekend. We got a new lamp for the living room that reminds me of an old city street lamp, like the street lamps in Paris. It adds the perfect warm glow during summer evenings spent in our living room. 
I've had a lovely weekend even though I got summoned for jury duty again. Last time I had class all day and couldn't make it. Now I don't have the excuse of class, but I do have a flight that day to Austin, TX to visit my friend! Also, it's time to renew my Florida Cosmetology License. I have to do some continuing education in order to renew it, which isn't so bad, but it is a little tedious. It's a small task in order to always have my beauty license which I take so much pride in. I worked so hard to get it that I hope to always have it, even if we move out of state.
One of the nicest things that we've done in a long time was canoeing this past weekend. We woke up early on Saturday morning to beat the crowds to the canoes at the local springs. We packed plenty of water bottles, sandwiches, and wore our swim suits to meet our friends there. I didn't bring my camera out of fear that we would capsize the canoe and it would be nearly impossible to ensure it's safety. Even though I took sailing lessons one summer as a kid, I still fear capsizing to this day. 
We canoed the farthest of all the morning canoe and kayak duos, not realizing how close we still were from our starting point until we checked the map. Those moments on the river with just lily pads, tall grass, cicadas chirping, and a tunnel of Floridian trees with no one else around us, those were the moments that were relaxing and beautiful. My dad gave me binoculars that I once brought on my trip to Costa Rica a few years ago, and now got to use them again on our canoe trip. I didn't see any big alligators, only baby ones, but we definitely heard the bigger ones grunt from the grass. There were plenty of turtles hanging out on the fallen branches within eyesight, stretching their legs (legs?), and there were a couple of herons and egrets that I could catch mid-flight through the binoculars. There were also a decent variety of insects like dragonflies, damsel flies, pond skaters, and two different types of water-skiing spiders. 
When we arrived there was a grassy hill that led down to the end of the spring, where the ground was rocks and the water cold and see-through. The green and blue hue of the spring water looked so inviting, so we thought we'd relax in the cold spring after canoeing up-stream on the way back. We were hot from the summer sun and exhausted from paddling so the chilly dip was the perfect way to end it. The only downside was at 9 am the spring was empty with just a few bathers and at 2 pm, when we finished canoeing, there were tons of bathers. There were lots of families, loud children, and groups huddled around grills and good food. It was all fun, but not exactly the kind of atmosphere we expected around a serene spring. Next time, we're willing to travel even farther for a quiet canoe and an even quieter dip in a spring. 
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Entomology

Friday, July 26, 2013
If you've been a follower for a while, you must know that I love insects. Our home is decorated with over 40 insects including butterflies and beetles. Beetles are my all-time favorite specimen, followed by moths, butterflies, and other tree-dwellers like praying mantids and walking sticks. I took these photos at my museum in our nature section where we have drawers full of butterflies, beetles, and moths! It's a little corner of the museum that goes unnoticed and always reminds me of my favorite taxidermy shop, Deyrolle. 
We once bought a milk weed plant for our balcony to attract butterflies in the area so that we could admire them. Our milk weed started to die from the aphids that started living on it. To combat the aphids, the local plant nursery sells praying mantis eggs! One egg can hatch up to 300 praying mantids. Naturally, we adopted one (or 300). After about two weeks of keeping the egg in a mesh cage, it hatched! I became a praying mantis mom to about 100 little guys and I let most of them go on our balcony. We kept one in the cage as a pet, and named him after the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc (Duc for short) get it? Buddhist monk because they're always praying? 
We kept him for as long as we could, feeding him our endless supply of aphids from the milk weed plant. He'd shed his exoskeleton and grower bigger and bigger, eating more and more. He'd do adorable things like sway when I would get close. At first, I thought he was just dancing, but after some research I found that it's a defense mechanism, they sway to look like a twig in the wind! I swoon.
We didn't really know if he was a girl or a boy because you don't find out until they do their last shedding and you measure the size of their wings. He ended up dying before his final shedding and I think it's because I'm not a pro and I just didn't know how to properly take care of him. So for a while we just assumed he was a boy, and he was the cutest little insect pet a girl could ask for.
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Obsessed with Bioshock

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I've always been interested in video games that it's a bit funny that I ended up marrying a video game artist. Mostly, the video games that I play are games like The Sims, Animal Crossing, and Cooking Mama. Games that are exploratory, interactive, and I'd hate to say it, but girlier. Recently, S introduced me to a game that I fell in love with called Bioshock. It's a first-person shooter game which I normally don't go for, but the world in the game is so gorgeous that I could watch S play for hours. I don't play it myself because, like I said, when it's time to shoot and blow things up, I have no interest in that kind of gaming - curse my double x chromosomes. 
The most recent game of Bioshock released takes place in "Columbia" in the 1910's, a city in the sky. Are you swooning already like I am? The buildings are on balloons and sway with the winds and the clouds. There is a rollercoaster-like rail system that sends carriages around the city as way of transportation and everything has a bit of a steampunk feeling. Buildings shift to meet other and to form a bridge. When you begin the game, you're exploring Columbia on foot looking for a girl named Elizabeth. Around the city there are fair and carnival activities going on like the booth games in which you have to hit your target. The city itself is a floating fair and resembles a travelling World's Fair which is such a romantic notion to me. How charming would it be to have a travelling World's Fair with games and carnival food and the old Americana feel? I bet fireworks look amazing from that view.

But of course, as glamorous as it sounds, the city is a dystopia with political issues and civil wars. In this scene of when you wake up in Columbia, you can see that our founding fathers are idolized like gods. You collect "voxophones" that are voice recordings of people journaling their experiences. They play back with the fuzziness and warmth of old tube radios. 

In previous Bioshock games, they take place in a city underwater called Rapture. It's also a dystopian city with civil war in the 1940's. A city underwater seems just as romantic with gorgeous views of the ocean life instead of the clouds.
If heaven exists, I would hope that it looks like Columbia without the civil war and False Shepard. For now, I will just hope to visit these places in my dreams.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Week-end

Monday, July 22, 2013
Hope everyone had a great weekend! It seems that I've got my blogging bug back. For a little while there I was feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to focus all of my energy into my new position while balancing a social life and a home life. I finally figured out the correct balance of all my responsibilities, new and old. I'm managing to get to work early while still cleaning the dishes, playing video games, and catching up on our favorite TV shows like Dexter. 
This print you see above was taken by Lana Pribic, who blogs at The Second Renaissance. Lana hosted a giveaway of one of her photographic prints, and I won! She let me chose whatever photograph that I loved best of hers. Of course, when I saw her photograph of Notre Dame from her trip to Paris, I felt so much nostalgia that I knew it was the photo that I had to have! With a white frame near my faux-Pollock in my purple living room, I wanted it in a spot that I would see it all the time. I love to be reminded of my trip to Paris from years ago. The faux-Pollock was actually a project that my dad and I made together when I was in high school. He built a wooden frame, stretched canvas over it, and we hit up the oops paint shelf at the hardware store. With the large frame on the floor, we spent a day throwing paint across the canvas. The Notre Dame print now sits on top of my 1965 Encyclopedia Britannica set, a vintage collection that I inherited and love! It fits in perfectly with all of our other old pieces collected from antique shops in our travels. One of these weekends coming up, we plan on hitting up the local row of antique shops. We haven't been antiquing in so long and this time I have my eye on some mid-century furniture pieces for our home. 
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Friday, July 19, 2013

A Farmer's Market Dinner

Friday, July 19, 2013
We recently made this flatbread with 90% ingredients from the farmer's market! The flax flatbread that served as our base was from our favorite bread lady at Olde Hearth Bread Co. The asparugus, mushrooms, yukon gold potatoes, and basil were all from our produce guy. The only ingredients that we didn't get from the farmer's market was the goat cheese. We cooked it on our pizza stone in a hot oven. It was so delicious!

I don't really have a recipe for this flatbread because S threw it together on a whim one night after watching David Chang in the Anthony-Bourdain-narrated-show The Mind of a Chef on PBS. We love David Chang's food from what we have seen, and all of the additional chefs that they have interviewed on the show are all doing really interesting things in the food world. Everything is incredibly inspiring, enough to make S get up off the couch (while I'm submerged in my AC video game still) to make an "whirlpool" egg served with olive oil. So savory so good.
Other than that egg, this flatbread is super easy to make and of course can be substituted for whatever you grabbed at the farmer's market that weekend! 
On another note, I'm enjoying my promotion and I'm loving the more responsibility that I get to have. One of my favorite things about events is vendors and networking and I get to focus on that much more now that I am a manager. Along with the marketing and leading, I'm embracing my new responsibilities openly. Although, working full-time hours (instead of working part-time while attending classes full-time) seem to be more time consuming. I'm still getting accustomed to my new schedule, a fairly normal schedule in the world of 9-5. However, on weekends I tend to try to enjoy just relaxing while I used to jump at every chance to go out and try something new. So, right now I am appreciating every weekend moment, fairly soon I'm certain I'll be taking advantage of weekends events again that my town has to offer. Happy weekend!
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Post @ Live and Move

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Today I am posting over at Taylor's blog Live and Move while she is in South Africa for a whole month! I am so thrilled that she is taking a huge trip and I hope that she is enjoying herself! Taylor and I relate with the travel-bug so I'm posting for her blog about a the travel template I used for my big trip to Paris, France a few years ago. Go over to her blog to check out my post today! 
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Monday, July 15, 2013

One of Our Wedding Films

Monday, July 15, 2013
What a wonderful way to start the week: with a wedding film. These are clips that our dear friend/groomsman/graphic designer Joseph filmed with his camera on our wedding day. We had a videographer too, but we haven't gotten that video yet. I thought I would share this video with you now. It has all of the toasts which was super important to me! I am so glad he filmed all of them so that I could listen to the toasts a thousand times over. S's brother Scott starts the toasts, followed by my best friend/maid  of honor Becca, and finished by my brother (with long hair!). The first scene is S and his groomsmen in our home, where they got ready. It's a shame I didn't think to film with my camera as we got ready too! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

PS. I am also posting for the museum later today (around 11 am) on our events blog! Some of you may have seen my Instagram photo of my promotion email. In summary, this week I was promoted from Event Coordinator to Manager of Meetings and Events! I will now be working full-time for the museum, and I couldn't be more excited to devout everything I have to this position. The blog for our department is one of my new social media marketing responsibilities.
PPS. I am so thankful for my regular commenters, new and old. All of you are so sweet, so genuine, so die-hard-amazing. I wish I could take each of you out to dinner. Instead, for the moment I will just have to tell you how appreciative of all of you I am for your friendship. Bisous bisous bisous :*
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Independence Day

Friday, July 12, 2013
I've mentioned before that we have the luxury of sitting on our balcony at 9:00 pm on Independence Day and watching the fireworks from the comfort of our home. We never have to bear the crowds and tough the traffic.
S bought some TNT for us to have fun at home, but he didn't by sparklers and bottle rockets like he thought. Instead he bought two much more dangerous things. Things you don't hold and that explicitly say on the label "run away". We lit one off with success but decided against the rest of them when our security guy came around.
I made a little video of our own private fireworks show. This, like most of the little films I make, are mostly for us. I like the idea of being able to look back at this time of our lives and feel like I'm here again. It seems to pass so quickly these days.
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Post @ My Billie Designs

Thursday, July 11, 2013
Today I just wanted to redirect you to my guest post on Melanie's blog, My Billie Designs! I'm posting there about my favorite summer cocktail: the Brasilian Caipirinha. Hope you enjoy and it makes you thirsty for the weekend ahead!
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Life Lately

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
It's bee a relatively quiet week at home with small projects around the house, lots of cooking in the kitchen, and more than usual video game playing. For someone whose husband works as an artist for a video game company, you'd think we'd play many more games than we do but not usually. We got out of the video game habit when we were enormously busy with grad school and me finishing my Bachelors degree and planning our wedding. Now, we're both finished with school and getting into the balance of work life, social life, home life, and now game life.
The video games I've been playing lately are Animal Crossing Wild World, Animal Crossing City Folk, and even The Sims 3 when I get bored of AC. This recent spark of video gaming came with the release of the latest Animal Crossing game, New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS! We just ordered both a 3DS and the game so we have to wait until it arrives. Once it does arrive, I think we'll probably revert to children a little bit and fight over who gets to play first. 
Other than that, S recently was inspired to make his grandmother's Mexican recipes like Mexican rice and enchiladas. She also has a chile rellenos recipe that I want S to make one day! Mexican food and a cold beer in the summer time has been the perfect fill these days. 
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Monday, July 08, 2013

Weekend Recap @ the West Coast

Monday, July 08, 2013
A few weekends ago we visited our family back home which is about a two hour drive from our own home. We both went to high school in that area so it makes it extremely easy for us both to visit family and friends together. 
This weekend my dad was replacing his dining room window. He custom-ordered a window-pane of glass without any hinges or metal bars. They wanted a clear view of their lush backyard so this new window was perfect. My dad first knocked out the previous windows, cutting off the panes at the metal hinges and sanding down old bolts to allow for a flush fit of the new window. Metal grinding metal makes for a wonderful sparks display. 
The only problem: double-paned glass is heavy. My dad, brother, S, and myself all carried the glass from the garage to the emptied window frame. It took all of our muscles and weight to prop it up above our waists. We were equipped with suction cups like you see in spy movies when the agent is climbing the side of sky scrapers.
The window looks out upon my dads trellis of grapevines. This time of the year the vines are growing lush and there are even a few bunches of grapes! My dad covered them with black mesh to discourage the birds from eating them, giving them a chance to mature from green to purple. 
This time of year in Florida is also the time for lubbers: yellow and pink colorful grasshoppers that are slower than snails. They are too dumb to run/hop/escape away from humans and cameras and make for great models. They are gorgeously colored and we even have one on our wall. 
If you saw my Instagram, you can see that my brother and my dad grilled up pinwheel sausage, beef and chicken kebabs, ribs, flank steak, and chicken hearts. All was so delicious and there was so much meat that my stomach only had room for a sampling of each. 
We visited my mom too of course. We had a delicious NYC breakfast with her at a New York style diner. Then we went to her house to see the dogs, including the beagle my brother and I grew up with. I showed her our wedding album that I already printed and went through her favorite photos with her. I now have many more albums to make for family members! 
My mom has many birdhouses and birdbaths for the locals in her backyard. It was cloudy and moody when I took these photos, my favorite kind of Florida weather. 
It was an enjoyable weekend trip, I hope that everyone's weekend was just as refreshing. Back to the museum today for me! Happy Monday!
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Friday, July 05, 2013

Week-end

Friday, July 05, 2013
Even when it's pouring with summer showers in Florida, weekends are my favorite times. Weekends are when time moves a little slower, making up for the week days that fly by. I am so looking forward to this weekend, especially after having the little break that was yesterday, Independence Day. 
We spent most of the day at the pool with a book that I'm borrowing from a friend and in the water playing games. We did a little cleaning and tidying around the house - that way this weekend we can really relax. We only went out to get some burgers to grill and cheese and crackers. We also had an apple pie in the oven, but don't let that deceive you - we bought it from the store and I warmed it in the oven before we ate it. I cut some slices of pie and sprinkled ground cinnamon over them, dusting the white plates which made store-bought pie look like homemade heaven. Around 9 pm we went out on the balcony to watch the fireworks that we can see every year. 
Ever since we had fig and anise bread from a few weeks ago with brie, goat cheese, honey, and blackberry jam, I haven't wanted any other bread. It lasted one day. Usually bread lasts us weeks. This weekend we'll be making our weekly trip to the farmers market and I hope our bread lady has this baguette again. If she has more than one, I just might have to buy them all, freeze them, and attempt to ration them. 
After a busy week at work, I'm looking forward to this weekend. But, I also feel so fulfilled. I feel like I accomplished so much work in the matter of Monday through Friday. Although there were times that I thought the emails, phone calls, follow ups, etc would never end, there were lunches and afternoon Facebook breaks to give my mind a few minutes of rest. It's satisfying to feel like at the end of the week, you've earned the weekend.
I've made a Flickr account for all of my photos that I post. I've been having so much fun with my camera and new lens, I almost can't imagine a time that I didn't have it. Wishing every one a wonderful weekend ahead!
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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Blogging Professionally

Wednesday, July 03, 2013
I wanted to let you all know that I've started blogging for my museum! In the events department we work with so many vendors on a regular basis that we thought it would be a great way to feature our favorite vendors in a fun way. 
We will be posting photos from our weddings and special events, including tips for event planning, and sharing some behind the scenes info. Our blog is called OSC Meetings and Events. We're going to start off with one post per week and we've already started brainstorming sessions in the office about what to post. Hope that you follow along!
We already have so many blogs that our events were featured on including Offbeat Bride and MTV - check out our blogroll links. There's also links on our sidebar that we manage ourselves like our DropBox of photos, our Facebook, our Pinterest, and our The Knot listing. They all have more photos if you are interested in checking them out! 
Hope that you all enjoy your Fourth of July! Any special plans? For us, every year we can see the fireworks show from our balcony so it's easy to stay in with good food, drinks, and the comfort of not enduring crowds for some fireworks.
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