Dear Chicago, Sorry For Partying.

Well, I survived the bachelorette party in Chicago.....just barely. I sincerely apologize to the residents of Chi-town for being 'those girls on a bachelorette weekend.' And yet, it was insanely fun and filled with classic memories and blackmail galore. Yes, I take that apology back, Chicago. You loved having us there, didn't you?

To summarize: it rained so hard that we were sprinting around the city like madwomen. Then it snowed so much that I seriously thought I'd been transported back to January in a horrendous nightmare. But other than the fabulous weather Mother Nature bestowed on us fine ladies, the weekend was a total success. I miss my girls to infinity and yet, I do not miss our college days and secretly I'm pretty happy that my days attending b.parties are numbered. I mean, seriously...almost all of us are married off and old hags. We can't keep pretending we are 21 anymore, you know. You have to surrender to being nearly 28 at some point and I think I'm there after this weekend. Of course there is always Lindsey's this summer....I think I'll be recovered by then.

Let's look at pictures and relive the drama, shall we?

First of all our hotel was freaking adorable, girlie, and beach-themed. Of course, I took this photographic opportunity because I'm sure you will love this room as much as me:


Each room had these adorable giant prints on a wall. Our room had this flower, but the two other rooms had either blueberries or a blue cable-knit sweater pattern. Oh, and the hotel was called Hotel Indigo in the Gold Coast area and I loved it. Because I was a part of this group I will likely be banned from the hotel for the rest of my life but maybe someone else can enjoy it as much as we did:)

Remember how I said we were 'those girls' for the weekend? Well, of course, numerous phallic paraphernalia came with the label and this included weiner cookies.

Oh yes, and a five foot tall friend.....kind of like my own I know, it's completely obscene, corny, and disgusting but it's a rite of passage so please don't be offended. And remember, these are the PG rated pictures. I've chosen to with hold much of the R-rated evidence from the public internet because let's get real...even I have boundaries:)

Here I am with the girl of the hour, Kristen, and her friend 'Captain Pecker.' Enough said.

Lindsey and I at dinner. She's next and I'm sure she's a tad bit nervous for her own bachelorette party, right Linds?

The entire crew out for dinner on Friday night. Pretty good turn out for an out of town event, right?

So after dinner we went over to Barleycorn and of course, when you are in Wrigelyville you have to put up with this type of thing:
Like we even care about baseball that much, but we figured we should represent the Lou [and I suppose I should hold it down for the Brewers, too?]

Upstairs they had a rocking 80's band. Please observe this awesomeness:

They loved Kristen and loved her mom even more. Again, disregard the phallic symbols adorning the bride:)

We ended up at another place called McFaddens which was literally packed with people. I had to sharpen my elbows to fight my way through the crowd but we somehow managed to enjoy ourselves on the dance floor...until 3 a.m. I cannot tell you the last time I was awake at 3 a.m. I do not plan on doing it again for a while, either:)

So all day Saturday I enjoyed the confines of the hotel. I mean, it was raining sideways and I didn't want to tempt myself on Michigan avenue. Hannah arrived during the day and we watched chick flicks all day long before we got ready for 'the big night out.' I had to dig deep for this one, I'm not going to lie.

Please notice the pimped out gigantic chairs in the lobby of this hotel. We were obsessed:

And the whole gang for night two: dress code was strictly enforced as we all wore black [I sneaked in a touch of gray] and the bride wore white. What a group, right?

And those are all the PG rated pictures you get from Saturday night. But I can attest to the fact that a party bus is always a fabulous idea when the weather is less than cooperative. And I have some priceless blackmail shots of my friends. I hope they are nice to me for their own sakes:)

Sunday morning came and I was ready to get back home, but awoke to this:

Yep, that's snow. I'm not even sure how much because I was in denial but I'm pretty sure Chicago had at least 3 inches when I left and Milwaukee has about that much, too. But the good news is the Amtrak train is the bomb and got me to and from Chicago in record speeds without traffic and without costing a fortune. I will be using this transportation system again.

As I walked to my train station I decided to snap a few pics of this glorious city. It's not an easy thing to pull a rolling suitcase, hold a hot Starbucks, an expensive camera, and fight the elements all at the same time. But I was determined to get some pretty shots anyway even though I'm sure I looked like a crazy tourist [I kind of was, I guess].




Oh what? A sign of Spring? How ironic.

Great day for a bike ride, no?


Chicago is one of my favorite cities and someday I could definitely see us living there. But it's still nice to come home to my boys and settle back into routine. Not to mention that I'm about halfway done with New Moon thanks to my two train rides and I'm becoming enthralled yet again.

Sigh. Girl time spent with old friends will always rank high in my life. Always.

Man versus Vampire-in-makeup

The following post was written by my wannabe blogger husband, Nate. Do enjoy:)

So tonight I was blessed with the opportunity [semi-forced] to watch parts of the teenage hit movie Twilight...and all I can say is “really”?!? I don’t get it. Is this one of the mysteries about women that us men will never understand? What would make an otherwise sane, perfectly normal 27 year old girl obsess over a high school drama about sexy [yet creepy] vampires? Come to think of it, my wife also likes Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, so I might be onto something here. Regardless, a movie centered around love and sexy vampires made for high school girls isn’t my idea of fun but I sucked it up anyway and pretended to care.

Julia threw in the DVD and cued it right up to her fave part, Edward’s intro. The suspense was building as I was imagining how amazingly gorgeous this guy must be - I mean J wants his poster in our bedroom?!? Creepy what? In my head I quickly thought about the epitome of male perfection, but all I could come up with was Jack Black in Nacho Libre...pretty hot! Julia went all ‘Ceasar Milan’ on my butt when I tried to mention this vision during the movie, silencing me with the patented ‘shusht’ and an abrupt hand gesture. You know the move I’m talking about, right?

The scene starts with the Bella sitting at a table with some other girls talking about the swim team stuffing their speedos (funny what I remember from the scene, right?). And in walk four really really good looking, Zoolander-esque, people. Then...wait for it...following the four supermodels...wait for walks Senor Edwardo - blue faced, lipstick, and eyeliner - talk about HOTT! Did I miss a memo, when did Smurf-esque looks become sexy? And the lipstick and eyeliner? People, look how we’re inspiring our country’s teens. In 15 years the population of San Francisco’s Castro District is going to sky-rocket! I didn’t mention the hair, because as you’ve all seen, I’d be a hypocrite to slam the man for his beautiful hair...yup, I’m jealous of his ridiculous mop and yet, I still feel like more of a man since I don’t wear makeup. I’ll always have that one on him.

So what is it ladies, why does this freakishly, borderline queer-looking guy capture your lust? How many of your boyfriends/husbands go out with eyeliner and lipstick? In fact, how many of you would want them dressing like that...or running and jumping through a forest like a freaking monkey on crack?

Other random thoughts: why doesn’t Edward just turn Bella into a vampire so they can live happily ever after? Julia says it’s because Bella wouldn’t live with her parents anymore and that would be sad, but I’m sure Bella could swing a deal and live with humans a while longer. And seriously, the Cullens can't call themselves vegetarians if they eat animals. That's just dumb. Plus, when the rogue vampires appeared and wanted to eat Bella [they aren't vegetarians, obviously] the stare-down from Edward was actually painful to watch it was so bad. And finally, my favorite part has to be when Bella discovers Edward’s true identity through Google. Nice work on that one, producers. Google rules.

And that does it, my schedule (and the NCAA tourney!) has unfortunately prevented me from watching the entire movie but I’m sure I’ll hear all about the next book Julia just started. I can hardly stand the suspense.

I still don’t get the obsession, and you girls must admit the movie IS corny! But if it makes you happy, so be it...and enjoy lusting over your diamond-skin-covered, pale, and make-up donned vampires.

See, he just gave us the stamp of approval somehow. Let's go look up more Edward pics, shall we?

And with that I'm off to Chicago for Kristen's highly anticipated bachelorette party. My biggest worry is what on earth a homebody like me shall wear for not one but TWO nights out in a big city. Um, I guess yoga pants and cotton tee shirts won't do, now will they? To make matters worse it's not quite Spring [and the highs are only going to reach 40] but I refuse to wear one of my Mr. Rodgers cardigans out to clubs in Chicago. I'm not THAT pathetic, am I? It's time to get creative, my friends. I swear I used to be a social butterfly with multitudes of going out clothes and now look at old married hag who considers it 'dressing up' if I wear jeans and a sweater to the grocery store, instead of my sweats. Sigh. My new numbingly cold city inspires me to be a homely, I suppose. I can always blame it on the weather:)

But seriously---I cannot freaking wait. It might get nasty. G-rated pictures to follow.

Contained Paradise

On Sunday Andrea and I went to the Mitchell Park Conservatory, aka 'The Domes.'  I was craving the perfect photographic opportunity for my new prime lens and what better subjects than a bunch of freakishly beautiful flowers? I was a little nervous about us being those creepy photographers with giant cameras dangling from our necks, but something rather interesting happens inside The Domes: every single SLR owner in Milwaukee comes there to take pictures, apparently, and we were surrounded by fellow crazy photogs. It was quite a relief to see that nobody even cared about our cameras and I don't think we received one 'what is that psycho doing?' stare from anyone during our entire trip. 

Once I got over the shock of being surrounded by SLRs I became an investigator and could not stop stealing glances at the glorious lenses and fancy camera bodies around me. It was like, "Ooooh--Andrea, look at HIS lens. Break me off a piece of that," and if we weren't happily married women you might even think we were surveying potential boyfriends. But no, we really do get that excited about photography equipment. Isn't it sad?

So anyway, here's the deal about The Domes: there are three separate rooms encased by glass domes. Each room has a distinct climate and allows plants to live in their natural setting. They have an Arid Dome, which is hotter than Hades and instantly causes you to gasp for air like, "OMG it's so freaking humid in here. Am I in St. Louis during the summer?" {You know I love it, so it's not a bad thing for me, but I can only imagine my northern husband in such a climate....nightmare.} This Arid Dome just so happened to contain the most stunning flowers with are likely natives to places like Hawaii, the Caribbean, and anywhere warmer than this Artic state. 

The Tropical Dome was pretty sweet, too, and I believe it housed many of the flowers you'll see in this post as well. This was the dome that caused my intense yearning for a tropical vacation: sunny beach, drink in hand, and camera in the other. Sigh. But then I remembered I was still in Milwaukee and we will not be taking an actual vacation this year, so I sucked it up and made the best of my artificial tropics under a giant glass dome. 

The Show Dome changes theme regularly and Sunday was the last day for the Lego you can imagine the mayhem surrounding this occasion when it comes to little kids sprinting around like wild banshees. We avoided all things that resembled legos and stuck to our guns with the pretty flowers.  We also managed to put down our cameras after taking an obscene amount of pictures just to chat for literally two hours. Ah, the wonders of girl talk. It's the best therapy around aside from red wine and coffee, of course. 

I am very excited about these pictures, you guys. Maybe it's just because they aren't of a certain white dog or a lot of white snow [what, there are other subjects in the world?]. I'm sure part of my excitement has to do with my new lens and the fabulous bokeh it produces. I hope you enjoy as much as I do, and if you feel so inclined----leave a comment indicating your favorite one or two shots for a future blog banner. I'm feeling inspired:)

1. Pinks and purples, sugary sweet, and lots of bokeh. 
sugary sweet girlie flowers

2. This is an orchid, right?
hello, orchid

3. Some tiger-y printed petals:

4. The focus is way off here but I love that spotty bokeh in back. LOVE. 
purple rain

5. Oooooh, aqua, yellow, and pink! A new favorite color combo:
petals plus bokeh

6. Big fatty hawaiian flower of some sorts, plus a little subtle bokeh:
are we in Hawaii?

7. More orchids with pretty spots:
tiger print

8. I swear I didn't do much retouching at all here, the lens made it so watercolor-y:

9. Fun with a grate:
love the grate

10. Rocket-like and very futuristic, if you ask me:
rocket of nature

11. You know my love for berries, right?
berries are my fave 1

12. Staring down the vine of this pink beast:
up the grapevine

13. I titled this one 'Loner' on Flickr:

14. For anyone who loves yellow, here you go. Very Spring, no?
sunshiny delight

So yes, vote on your favorite if you please. I really like shooting flowers and can only dream of a day we see true buds of anything around here. Then again, I will be in St. Louis in a month so maybe that is my best chance....can't wait!

nifty fifty

So my nifty fifty has arrived and I'm in love. 

Yes, my 50 mm, f/1.8 little lens that only cost about $80 delivers fabulously narrow depth-of-field images and yes, bokeh:) I can see why this photography thing becomes an addicting and expensive out!

I heard many raves about this baby but some people claim it's a cheapie, 'Cracker Jacks box toy' lens. So far I must say it's well worth my money and is a great starter for someone like myself who has no need for the uber-expensive, elite f/1.2 lens [well, of course a girl can dream but for now this will do]. Even the f/1.4 seemed a little too much for little old me and thus a love affair with the 1.8 was born. 

As a prime lens I have to move my whole body forward or backward to zoom instead of twisting the lens itself. Let's just say this makes me a little less lazy and is rather hard to get used to, but I love it. 

So my first round of pictures are as follows:

{food---I hear this lens works wonderfully for food shots and any stationary objects}

This would be our asparagus and chicken parmesan dinner we created last week. So yummy!
chicken parmesan and 'gus

Then there was my new favorite muffin, the cranberry pumpkin from Alterra. Scrumptious! 
pumpkin cranberry muffin

Onto more inanimate objects, Go Billikens!
billikens are forever

And there's always nature. Check out this depth-of-field!
ah, hello f/1.8

This is shot looking straight up our neighbor's wall, which is covered in vines. Again, the DOF boggles my mind. I see what my kit lens is missing now, with it's measly 5.6 or 4.5 apertures. 
horizontal vines, narrow DOF

More of the vines, love the colors here.
narrow DOF indeed

And come on, you didn't think I'd forget about this little dude, did you? Backlit subject with a noticeable hunk of goo on his nose. I'm pretty sure he might have gotten bombarded by a renegade squirt of honey and now his fur is a sticky mess of gunk. But I refuse to wash it out because I'm lazy and it's rather cute, don't you think?

It's kind of difficult to get the right focus with such a narrow DOF but this one was okay. It seems like if I focus on his nose then his eyes are totally out of focus and vice versa. Darn dogs and their large honkers!

That's just the beginning, my friends. I have many other images to share with you this week and I'm about 80% sure Nate will grace us with his presence, too. I'm going to force a Twilight scene or two on him tonight just so he can get the full effect while I relive some of my favorite scenes. It's a sickness, really.


Okay, I just have to give my official Twilight review: both the movie and the book deserve your time. But I cannot lie, parts of both were so awful, so cheesy, so BAD that they cannot be ignored. I feel it is my duty to share both the positives and negatives to this epic film and novel. Yes, epic. And if you have not crossed over to the dark side yet you should really give into temptation and see what all the fuss is about. That's what got me--the curiosity about this odd plot and the resulting mania in all of female America.

Let's begin. I'll go get my notes I jotted down during the movie....

First of all: the makeup plastered onto Edward's face and lips was just horrendous. Was it really necessary to coat his skin with concrete-style white foundation? And the ruby red lipstick was just distracting to me. I mean, we get it--he's a vampire and all pale and stuff. But enough with the makeup, let the man's glory shine through! It seems like the producers really wanted us to understand that Edward is 'different' in the beginning of the movie, hence the obscene quantities of makeup. But then as the movie went a long, I noticed some of the plaster faded and we could actually see normal shades of flesh. This is the only picture that somewhat exhibits the makeup job gone wrong:

Next point: I'm pretty sure R.Patz [my new nickname for the loverboy] will not be receiving any Oscars for his acting capabilities. I know he is the proud owner of an English accent in real life, so why not let Edward use that insanely hot accent in the movie, too? I know it would be a little weird if Edward was British in the movie, but come on....the whole movie is a bit strange, isn't it? The fact that R.Patz had to twist his words into an 'American' accent made him sound a little bit derranged at times. It was like he had to speak at a slower pace just to formulate the words correctly and it was maddening for me. I just wanted him to speak effortlessly and if it wasn't too much, maybe he could just utter the words, "I love Julia in Wisconsin and plan to take her hostage very soon," just one time in the movie. What? Too much?

Moving on: I did not like Edward's two favorite facial expressions. The first being 'bug-eyed and crazy', like when he was driving away from the bad guys in the alley. Ew. Didn't like it. And the second is his ultimate fave: tilting his chin downward and looking up at Bella through his eyelashes. I know it was supposed to be all dreamy and sexy and stuff but for me it was just creepy. It made his eyes too squinty in my opinion. See, he's doing it a little bit here:{from this site}

And here, too. Don't even get me started on his 'topaz' contacts:
{from this site}

I truly preferred a normal eye size on him: not bug-eyed and not squinty. And mostly I lost my mind when he wore the sunglasses. Don't ask me why but they just got me:
A few more complaints then onto the good stuff: I was disappointed in the whole 'glittery skin in the sun' efffects because it was so much worse than I pictured while reading the book. I mean, it was basically like he had festering boils on his skin that were gurgling and pulsating under the sun. Gross! I pictured it more like tiny mirrors shimmering in the sunlight which--albeit very weird--would have been much better than the boils.

Speaking of special effects, Edward's speed running was a little laughable, wasn't it? I mean he was like the road runner on crack instead of a mysterious angel moving at lightning speed. His mammoth jumps between trees also made me giggle a bit. I'm not sure how it could have been more realistic, though, considering his special powers would always look crazy on the big screen. I guess in my head I could justify his 'skillz' during the book but when I saw it on the movie it was just silly. I guess that's what you get for ruining a good book with a movie.

But there were many, many fabulous parts of the movie, too. Parts that made me want to rewind it and just drool non-stop for a couple hours.

Number one: their kiss, duh. The one in Bella's bedroom was freaking awesome and it made me fuzzy-headed. Dazzled, if you will.

Then the one at the end, after Prom, was so perfect under the gorgeous lighted gazebo it made me want to shed a tear. And also, it made me think, "Now THAT would make for some good bokeh in a photograph!" Sure enough, look at this:
Sigh. Also, when Edward played the piano for Bella I fought off some serious womanly urges. Something about musicians always get me and I just loved that scene.

But not as much as I loved Edward in his baseball jersey. OMG. I'd play baseball with the Cullens anyday just to see him sprint around with eerie speed and his crooked grin on that pasty face.{from this site}

And I will say that when Edward entered the lunchroom for the first time I felt an actual palpitation in my heart-region. Great job there, producers!

Let's talk about Bella for a second, shall we? In the book I found her supremely annoying and one-minded. But in the movie I really liked Bella because Kristen Stewart seemed much more down-to-earth than I pictured Bella in the book. The movie Bella was charismatic and gorgeous and basically, what girl DOESN'T want to be Bella? Isn't that the point of her character? To make us all go crazy over how lucky she is to be with Senor Cullen?

{from GQ Magazine by Nathaniel Goldberg}

Just so you know, if I WAS allowed a poster in our bedroom it would definitely be one of the above two shots. I can't even describe how much I love his big floofy hair. Don't you just want to touch it? It's so wild, and crazy, and vampire-y.
{from this site}

So yeah, both the movie and the book started off a little ridiculous to me. Lots of unrealistic parts, a little over-dramatic, and definitely geared towards an age group 10-15 years younger than me. And yet by the end of the book and movie I was all amped up and ready to watch/read it again. Why does this story have such magical powers over us? Is it the whole 'being saved by a boy' theme....or the fact that Edward struggles with balancing his intense love for Bella with the desire to drink her blood? Vampires are so hawt. I think that must be it.
And with that, I am finished. Now don't get your hopes up but my husband might have posting privileges just this one time, because his take on Twilight is absolutely hilarious. I'm sure we could all use a male perspective on this topic, no? And some of his insightful thoughts about vampires, Edward, and the whole story are just too comical to keep to myself. I mentioned he should post his thoughts and his eyes sort of lit up.....and maybe they even gleamed a little amber color, I don't know. But stay tuned if you dare:)

Please feel free to disagree with any of my thoughts on this subject, or if you concur with some statements I'd love to hear that, too. I realize I'm about a year too late with this Edward-frenzy but better late than never, right?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...