Wednesday, January 30, 2013

the Ultimate High

Today Michael presented me with a fun challenge: hiking up to the Hollywood sign!! We hadn't done it before, which also meant we didn't really know the way. But yes, it was another glorious day spent at Griffith Park. However, since the park covers 53 miles, the whole second half of our adventure "hadn't been sniffed"- not by us atleast. Along the way (about 75% of the way), Michael stopped to examine this camera set up, which is used to monitor wildlife at night.
The "snake trail" was my favorite hiking part, but I didn't get any pictures of that. Well none specifically of the path, weaving through bushes and such. I believe we were on that trail in this photo (above- I love seeing all those other winding paths over Michael's shoulder). Luckily, we didn't see any rattlesnakes (probably too cold still), but as much as he fears them, Michael was talking about snakes for about 15 minutes. It was a thin, but easy trail. It had its ups and downs -literally- often with big rocks and thick tree roots, almost posing as steps. But none of the slippery sand that tends to heighten my frustration.. Hooray!

Our snake trail ended and we only noticed a black paved road with abnormally large crows and a white broken fence on the side. We followed that up, assuming we had to keep going higher. We could see the electric tower ahead, which we knew was on the very top of the hill above the Hollywood sign. I stopped for another informative photo once we reached this "Cahuenga Peak" plaque in a boulder, thanking those whose donations made it a place to explore!
We crossed our fingers one more time, hoping that the next bend would take us to our destination.. And it did! What an exquisite view! Plus, we were able to climb another 50 feet to get even higher. Before we left, a small yellow plane (a Piper?) flew by, but lower to about the height of the Hollywood sign. It was strange being up even higher than the plane.
On the way back, we stopped at Dante's Peak to sit down for a few minutes and snack on our granola bars. And even though we brought a water bottle this time, thank goodness for the cold water faucet they have on the corner- with a bowl chained up for all the doggies! I ended up taking a couple more pictures because I like this little area. Michael reminded me that we needed to get a move on because we probably had close to another 30 minutes until we got back to the car (especially since I kept stopping to take pictures)!
This is one of my favorite views (above). For some reason I really like seeing the Observatory on top of the hills with all the tall buildings further off in the smoggy background. It's so pretty. & Can you believe that just an hour before, we had been aaaall the way over there above the sign?!
Farewell fun Wednesday; until next time! (And because I was paying attention- it was 73 degrees when we got to the Observatory at 2pm and 53 when we got back into the car, just after 5pm.)
**All of these pictures were taken with our new little Samsung ST66 digital camera.** And although you can't tell from the pictures, I was wearing my hand painted "I ♥ My Husband" shirt. The past two nights, Michael and I have enjoyed important discussions on how to strengthen our marriage!!

Lessons Learned

Here are the pictures that I liked the best, taken by Dawson (using our Canon T2i) for the Valentine's shoot & I am really glad Michael was fine with taking extra pictures on the rocks on our way out of the park, or there would only be the first two pictures here. Pheeew!
I used the "Tranquil" effect from PicMonkey on all of these because it seemed to give it that light-hearted hue. But also paid the $5 for the month, which upgraded me to be able to use the "Royal" effects. I tested the Ombre effect in the Valentines folder, however it wasn't my favorite.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Paparazzi 101

The other day I was just browsing along an Ashley Tisdale fansite and I noticed in the "Candid" folder that she stopped to have lunch earlier this month at a small restaurant called 101 Coffee Shop, in Hollywood, where she ran into a former "Suite Life" co-star, Dylan Sprouse (who now sports an awesome mohawk)!
** above photo courtesy of **

 Soon after, I "somehow" ended up on Google Maps and observed that the cafe was across the street from the Hollywood Tower and I knew where that was because I always thought it was an interesting building, all the times we had passed by it before. The 101 Coffee Shop is on Franklin Avenue, and since I try to pay attention to (and rememeber the names of) certain roads that we often travel on, I knew we would be passing it today on the way back from Griffith Park.
I don't know who that Daniel Radcliffe/ Jamie Bell looking guy is, who went into the cafe as we drove by, but figured I would take a picture, just incase he is famous! Of course this research was a breeze, considering I did it simply for the enjoyment of one of my best friends, Alana. None of this "celebrity gossip" has any real interest to me......................................

Hula Hips

Today Dawson, Michael and I got the chance to take our Valentine's pictures at Griffith Park. Yes, it seems early, but I explained to Mia earlier that I need time to edit and print out the pictures so I can slip some small photos into the cards that I plan to send out. And I'd like to get those out the first week of February in case there is more of a mail load because of the romantic holiday.

"It will be warmer then" was the excuse I used to make myself feel better about pushing the photo session back from 9:30am to 2:30pm. Although, I still found it chilly while the wind blew, along with remaining around 55 degrees. Here is the view of where we started to take the pictures. It took us at least half an hour to get into the groove on the lower level/bottom of the trails. But this was our first halfway-up-the-hill view:
Before we left Griffith Park, I convinced Michael to do an animation dance (since I decided against making a behind the scenes video- he was being generous enough with all the soft smiles). While looking through the other pictures that Dawson took, I laughed while noticing my "hula hips". And I loved how that fire pit area we are standing on seemed to come with its own stage! Griffith Park is just amazing. And I'm sure we have only seen maybe about 25% of the whole place. Here is one of the "finale" photos, followed by my Spin GIF:

gif maker

& here is the silly mini "Hula Hips" Animation:
make gifs

It's funnier if you have music playing- example being "Ice Ice Baby". Haha.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Practice Video

Before the sun set any further and I left to get more groceries, I spent about five minutes outside capturing some small interesting pieces of our front yard. The orange tree, the swing that the owner built for his daughter when she was little, and the clover weeds that actually make our yard look prettier since its no longer a blank canvas of dirt.

I can already imagine the future videos and hopefully there will be plenty more. Just short snippets like these- a peek into our lives, along with more pictures and animations. I'm really crossing my fingers for Michael to be well enough tomorrow to take our Valentine's pictures and such, with Dawson's help. I have a few ideas up my pink short sleeves!

Snowballs in Texas!

This morning I finally made a GIF out of the 8 pictures that Michael took of me at a gas station in Fort Stockton, Texas the morning of January 5th!! It was easier for me to paste the HTML code from a free website called Picasion since I couldn't export it as one with Final Cut Pro and Michael is currently sick and didn't have time to teach me how to use Adobe After Effects.

I was so excited to see all the snow that morning and kept watching the fuel gauge needle in the Uhaul, hoping it would go down faster so we could stop and take pictures. It was fun stomping on the snow, realizing it was deeper than I expected. The snow was soo cold though, but Michael reminded me that I was holding a soft block of ice. My hands quickly became super numb, but it was still worth it for the fun. I did later invest in a nice pair of gloves from Target a couple weeks ago.

I do plan to make more GIFs in the future and maybe even work on some quick video snippets. They would have to be about 30 seconds or I would completely get bored and lose focus. Anyway, since I am thinking about it, here are some more pictures from our cold morning driving through different mini-towns of Texas.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

This & That; Dog & Cats

On Friday we got out Internet hooked up, after a couple AT&T employees came out and fixed things. Aside from catching up on some of my more favorite shows, I am reflecting on enjoying the time when I don't use the Internet. I have found that I can easily keep myself occupied. It helps me get handmade scrapbook cards created, errands run, dishes cleaned and put away. I read more (magazines) and we hike a lot.
Michael has been doing sooo amazingly great with eating healthier and losing weight since we moved. Its almost funny how the past few days he has wanted to go hiking in the morning and in the afternoon. But due to the fact that it has been non-stop drizzling since Thursday (not counting yesterday when the weather was nice and cool and sunny), we haven't spent as much time as Griffith Park as the past weeks. Yesterday after our first time at Runyon Canyon - with our Full Sail friend, Gaby - the three of us went to Pinkberry for frozen yogurt. Gaby and I each got a mix of Chocolate Hazelnut & Salted Caramel, while Michael only got a small cup of fresh fruit with honey!!  
I am so incredibly proud of him.
 I don't feel "safe" bringing the fancy Canon camera on hikes with us- nor do I want to have a heavy backpack attached to me for an hour while sweat collects under my shirt.. Gross.. I have only brought my Polaroid camera to the trails so far. However, last night after buying a really chintzy camera at Target and not liking it right away, Michael returned it and bought us a better one instead (also at Target) ~ a Samsung ST66 with a 5x zoom and 16.1 megapixels.  Its nothing too fancy, but will be way better to take on hikes and the beach, instead of hoping they turn out okay from the lame camera on my cell phone. Here is a cute Test Photo that we took last night just to see how well the camera worked:
I'm sure it will be more in focused in natural lighting. We'll test it out soon! Anyway, so I don't really have many pictures yet. Aside from our neighbor's stray cats when I see them sleeping on our deck or just sitting around outside through our window. When their literal "cat fights" begin at night, it strangely sounds like a baby crying. That shouldn't last too much longer, now that Michael recently purchased a water gun as his new weapon of attack.
The black kitty's chipmunk face always makes me laugh! & these are only a few of the cats I have seen. I'm positive there are at least six more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Journal Style

Today we're using the Wi-Fi at Starbucks, but our Internet box should be arriving tomorrow!!

(I feel like our road trip from Florida to California was so long ago now that I don’t remember much. Although in Fort Stockton, Texas, Michael took a bunch of pictures of me playing in the snow/soft ice at a gas station and I’d like to make an animation out of that, once I figure out how to do it.)

Michael and I absolutely love living in the Los Angeles area so far. Even the area we live in, away from the main city is so pretty. Even the Interstates have nice landscape scenery. We like our house a lot. It’s a very cozy 826 square feet that has gotten down to 52 degrees in the mornings when we forgot to turn the gas heater on! But I was told that we were having a record low in our area those first few weeks. The house also heats up to 76 degrees inside during the middle parts of the day. We have an orange tree in the front yard and I did squeeze five oranges one night to make juice for myself. I had Michael taste it too. It was very tart, but tasted better after being watered down, with a few Equals added.

With the help of Michael’s mom who stayed with us for five extra days after we finished our drive to California, we got everything unpacked within three days. There are a few boxes with expensive plates, etc. that we will leave taped up until we move to our next (own) house in a couple years. Right now we’re just renting- from a really great guy, also a special effects make up artist- who spent a lot of December and the first week of January flying back and forth between Orlando and North Hollywood, fixing up the house. At no charge to us! We have fresh paint on the walls, marble linoleum in the kitchen and carpet in the bedrooms. Michael likes that the floors creak. He says it adds character. I’m not sure if my body has completely adjusted to the time change yet because I usually automatically wake up around 8am and go to sleep by 10:30pm- well, that’s about normal, right?

One week after we moved in, our very good friend, Dawson, settled into an apartment in a nearby city: Glendale. (We met him during our time at Full Sail and he had been living with his family in Texas since graduation. Can’t wait for Julie to join us this summer!) We have spent a few days with him so far. Michael bought a fire pit and a grill at Home Depot, where I am 75% sure that I saw Jim Carrey, but didn’t realize until after then it was too late to be sure.. *Sigh* But Michael apparently has “famous” recipes and grilled us the most delicious hamburgers and then lemon pepper chicken drumsticks a couple days later. Both meals were so yummy! My Shake-and-Bake with mashed potatoes, green beans and corn is pretty tasty too and I finally bought a crock-pot to attempt pulled pork tomorrow.

Last Wednesday (January 16th) was Dawson’s 22nd birthday and he wanted to get his picture under the Hollywood sign earlier in the morning. We left at 8am, then parked at the Griffith Observatory and took a new trail that lead to a big opening. Dawson was huffing and puffing during the tougher climbs, but soon we’ll all be in great shape! The views were incredible and I didn’t mind at all every time he asked us to stop for pictures. Hopefully I can get those from him soon to post- most likely in Instagram form? (I haven’t been taking any pictures lately, aside from our neighbor’s various cats that sleep on our back deck during the day.) We walked around the Observatory, but it was closed until Noon, so we left and took Dawson to FroyoLife. Surprisingly the Maple Bacon Donut frozen yogurt was my favorite flavor. Carrot Cake is second.. My favorite part of his birthday when he said we should go back to our own places and take naps! Haha, and we did. Then he came over again a few hours later so we could go out to eat at Casa Vega. The hostess there was very friendly and told us about celebrities who have come into the restaurant. Unfortunately she said Bruce Willis and Seth Rogan aren’t very nice, even to the waiters in general. While I was texting my mom, Dawson tapped me on the arm and told me that singer, Nick Lachey had just walked in and sat down at a table! I didn’t see him, but after we were seated, Dawson pep-talked himself into getting an autograph and a picture with Nick Lachey! I was so proud of him.
Dawson didn’t recognize the four other guys sitting with him, but scoffed when he sat back down with us because he Googled the 98 Degrees band and realized those were the other band members with him! I told Dawson that it probably happens a lot. Nick Lachey is more well known because he had a solo album after the band broke up and he was married to Jessica Simpson from 2002 to 2005 when they had their own “Newlyweds” reality show.

This past weekend, Michael attended IMATS – International Makeup Artist Trade Show – for free because he was helping Michael Burnett (the guy we are renting the house from) with a Grinch application demonstrations. He told me about how he got to meet Howard Berger, a very successful make up artist who has worked on movies such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Hitchcock (which we still want to see) & The Walking Dead!! Michael has actually exchanged multiple emails with Howard over the past few years. He bought an IMATS shirt as a souvenir.

Some days when we didn’t have plans, we just ran errands like getting a crack in my windshield repaired, car washes, passing our tests for our California drivers licenses and running to Target and Ralph’s grocery store multiple times. On Saturday I did see This is 40 at our dollar theater, a few minutes down the road, for only three bucks! Other than that I have been watching a lot of Glee, random movies, eating salads and putting together early Valentine’s Day cards. I’ll start taking pictures soon.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Big Move ~ Day 2

On January 4th, we got up at 5:30am and met Michael’s parents next door and we had breakfast downstairs. I stole a couple extra bagels before we left to save for later that day. In the beginning points of Louisiana, we drove along an area with tall dead tress on both sides of us, then along a raised 20-mile bridge into Baton Rouge.
Traffic got the heaviest through Houston, Texas. Possibly the most we had seen on our trip that far. We had to slow down in the Penske truck and stay in the middle to make sure we stayed close to Michael’s parents who were driving our cars.

There was a lot of chaos towards the end of the day because none of the hotels had rooms and those who did, were not pet friendly. I was trying to be helpful with finding directions and making phone calls, but got confused trying to use Michael’s iPhone. We ended up staying at a Best Western in Ozona, Texas- 108 miles East of Fort Stockton (our original stopping point). They didn’t usually allow pets, but said we could keep Sasha in a smoking room. I hope she didn’t catch cancer!

The Big Move ~ Day 1

Phew! It sure has been an adventure these past few weeks. And I’ve only been able to post now because we haven’t really had Internet since we left Orlando. I am currently sitting in Panera Bread with Michael, indulging in a Mediterranean Salmon salad and using their Wi-Fi, with plans to go hiking again after!  On Thursday, January 3rd at 11am, Michael and I (along with so much help from his generous parents- honestly, we wouldn’t be in LA right now if it hadn’t been for them) began our drive across the country.
We drove though Tallahassee, Mobile, enjoyed a beautiful sunset in Mississippi (which was too pretty to add the “colored pencil” effect to) and stopped in Covington, Louisiana for the first night. The Residence Inn was amazing. I loved how each room looked like a tiny apartment. Definitely my new favorite hotel.
The four of us had dinner at Applebee’s then went straight to sleep after showering, so we could get up again at 5:30am! I was surprised at how good Sasha behaved in the hotel (Michael only had to get out of bed once to make her stop barking), compared to my first experience with her over Thanksgiving.