Friday, October 24, 2014

Alana & Scarlett ~ Oz Portraits

My life requires at least one Dorothy Gale/ Wizard of Oz photo shoot per year. It's how I was raised. ;) And what better time to dress up than around Halloween. You can see the one I did with Sasha in California last October here. While Michael and I still lived in Birmingham, I got a text from my dear friend Alana in July sending a photo of a scruffy gray dog that she and her husband were going to adopt. At that moment I became excited letting her know that we had to have a Dorothy photo shoot when we moved back to Orlando. When they got their dog, Scarlett, the rescue center had shaved her hair, so we waited until this past Tuesday while her hair was grown out more. Scarlett did a pretty great job and other times we just had to let her run around and "play all day" as doggies do enjoy. We took over 500 photos and I have narrowed it down by 75% and, out of those, these are my favorites.
 Originally I wasn't planning to get her horses in the pictures until I remembered the horses in the movie. The Kansas farmhands make the horses run out when the tornado is coming. And I noticed tonight when I watched the movie that there is a horse in the background at the beginning of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". But it was my first time noticing that there is a water pump in their yard. The horses run behind it. I had to turn the movie off halfway through because I wasn't getting any work done. I was simply watching the movie. Fancy that!!
 Aside from the lovely photo above that shows how much dogs love their owners, I think the Kansas barn photos are my favorite. Alana makes such a beautiful Dorothy!! I had not noticed before that their stable for the horses had windows on the back. It was my favorite part of the structure. The photo directly below on the right may be my super favorite of these bunch.
 **Of course, thank you to my mom who sewed the dress for me during high school!!
But aside from the photoshoot, I am back to loving the 911 shifts- work two days, get two days off, etc. On my days off I have been making small purchases to craft stores so I can binge watch "Bones" on Netflix while creating handmade mailing envelopes out of scrapbook paper until the wee hours of the morning. They are quite beautiful. During the sunshine hours I split time between hanging out with Mia and Alana. And Miriam too, but our schedules don't match up as well. I start answering 911 calls without a trainer on Monday and have had conversations with my superiors about becoming a certified trainer myself. Next week is the last week of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. Michael has enjoyed being a make up fx artist Lead again and is looking forward to working Grinchmas in December. We have been getting along very well since I watched the movie the Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. It really put life and money issues into perspective. We go walking on trails when we can, but have very few days off together when Michael works HHN. Hopefully we will have a lot more chances next month. I'll need it after eating all this chocolate candy!! ;)

 ~ ✩ ✬ ✭ ✬ ✩ ☆ ✩ ✬ ✭ ✬ ✩ ☆ ✩ ✬ ✭ ✬ ✩ ☆ ~
 I staged this one due to the behind the scenes picture of Judy Garland that I had seen multiple times of her reading the Wizard of Oz between takes on set (maybe 1938 since the movie premiered in 1939).

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our Lives in Instagram

While writing a letter to my cousin (Lindsey) last week, I was telling how how I loved keeping myself busy and how "I don't have time" to blog anymore. I guess I couldn't be one of those fancy ladies who gets paid to blog and take cool pictures and promote products in different cities and such because often, to me, blogging can feel like a chore. Especially after I do lots of fun things and then it takes 10x as long to write about it since I haven't updated in a month and a lot has happened since then.

On August 17th (Sunday- the weekend Sharanya drove down), Michael was able to get us free tickets to Universal so we could check out the new Harry Potter/ Diagon Alley area. It wasn't incredibly busy, considering at that point the park had only been opened 6 for weeks. But it was incredibly fun. We decided to ride Gringotts first, which was a 2 hour wait. It didn't seem like that long, but I probably wouldn't ride it again unless the wait was around 45 minutes or less. Then we got lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. Oh my goodness those bangers (sausages) were sooo good!!! We went into all the shops and towards the end rode the Hogwarts Express to the Island of Adventure side, bringing us back to Hogsmeade. We walked to other areas as it got later in the day, Mia and Sharanya made me so happy by going on the Popeye water ride with me!! Mia had gone on it with me in December, but that was my first time. Michael doesnt like getting his regular clothes wet, but says we can plan to go to Typhoon Lagoon in November!!!!!!!!!!! Yessssssss.
Last month when I went on a walk with Alana by a popular lake, I found a few old-toney looking buildings so we did some snooping and saw that they give tours on the weekends, so the weekend after HP, I went to church with Alana and Cody, then we had a picnic and proceeded onto the tour. I liked it a lot and thought about creating a whole blog post for it, since I took a lot of pictures, but then too much time past and I don't like starting posts with, "So 7 years ago.." There were two main houses, both with two floors, but one was blocked off. I always love the kitchens and below Alana is standing in the outside laundry room with the buckets of water and rigid wooden things that somehow cleans the clothes. I need to learn more about that.. There was also a very small school, library and World War II museum. Our tour guide was actually in the war!! He pointed to a picture of a guy and asked if he looked familiar. I laughed a bit and said yes because it looked like Elvis. Wasn't he in the Army or Air Force? But the picture was of our 75 year old tour guide, when he was maybe around 30?
The week before we went to Harry Potter, I was doing really great with following along to exercise videos on Pop Sugar Fitness. Super proud of myself of course, and feeling good with memories of being fantastically "athletic" back in California. A few weekends ago I convinced Michael to check out a trail with me- one I had always passed while driving to Alana's house. Thankfully he liked the trail a lot because it was mostly walking through walls of trees, some coming together up top to make an overhang and providing shade. He has even been online looking up new breathable shirts and new exercise pants. A couple of times I have gone to the mall with him to pick out what I like for him and he tries everything on. Too bad a lot of the pants are at least $60!! Last weekend we went to the same park, but followed the trail in the opposite direction. Michael liked that trail too and it goes into a country neighborhood. The houses spaced apart, gravel roads forming driveways, fenced in areas for dogs and we heard a rooster somewhere. I liked the blue house in the little photo above. There were some newer looking ones that Michael liked. I'm hoping that aren't crazy expensive bc they are kind of out of the way, but not too far from necessary stores. These two "trails" are paved bike paths, so bikes have jumped to #1 on both of our Christmas lists.
 I started training again at the Sheriff's Office on August 25th. (Our Orientation day was August 22nd, exactly three months after I applied for the job.) We have gotten through three weeks already and I'm looking forward to the last two a lot, since we will be focusing most on just practicing fake 911 calls. There are other smaller details we have been going over as well - policy, getting certified for different programs, and of course knowing our geography is very important as well. Our class gets along well thank goodness, but we all have similar personalities. I'm almost the "middle-aged one" this time because five of the other "kids" are between 19-21, and they all gasped when I said I was 27. There are three adults who are probably aged 40-50 and they are very nice and talk and joke with us. My friend Jonathan (who I have known since I worked there in 2012) taught our class the second week, showing us how to use the main computer program where we get the maps, phone numbers, address and type in all the information about each call. Michael and I had been excited to go on a double date with him since he just proposed to his girlfriend, Brittany, at Disney's Magic Kingdom. However, Michael's schedule has been changing more as it gets closer for Halloween Horror Nights to open to the public, so we had to reschedule the date. 
I had some lovely magical motivation this past week as well. Our training shifted times from 8am to 10am, so I decided to keep waking up at the same time and using the extra hours to run (and by run I mean mostly power walking, just also some jogging) around one of the lakes on the way to work. Sometimes Miriam and her sister meet me in the morning and a couple times I ran after work with Mia. I've still be hanging out with Mia when I can because I like running errands with her and watching Glee. We're getting near the end of Season One, and Season Two is even better!! On the weekends (like today) I'm going to church with Alana and Cody, then going back to their house so we can play Wii Fit. I have definitely been slacking on the stretching before and after running, even thought I ripped out a page from one of my health and fitness magazines that has great stretching poses on it.

I hope that helped everyone (my 4 readers) get up to speed on my life. Oh! And I didn't really take any pictures of this, but I drove down to visit my Grandma in Naples for a couple days early in the week before starting 911 Orientation. I had a really nice time with her, going out to eat and running errands with her. She even gave me some money to buy hygiene products for children in need. I plan to visit her again when I am answering real calls and have every other long weekend off.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Everything is Awesome!!

Sometimes when I go back through my posts each month and there are so few, its often because we haven't been doing anything fun, or we work a lot and sleep the rest of the time. But lately it has been the opposite. I've been having so much fun that I haven't had time to blog. Also because I haven't used the Canon T2i in a while now that I have my handy dandy iPhone. Michael has very much enjoyed already having two weeks of work under his belt, doing prep work for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. This top picture of Michael and I is from before we had dinner at YardHouse with his friend, Heather. She is super cool and nice, plus I love her Full Sail/punk fashion sense. The restaurant was awesome too with fantastic little appetizers like deviled eggs. I definitely want to eat there again.

Here are some more Instagram pictures to show what Michael and I have been up to lately:
 My parents drove down to visit for the day last Saturday. I ordered a shirt from and since there had been an ordeal with the account, they shipped a second shirt to apologize for the inconvenience. So now my mom and I can be twins while we both sponsor children in third-world countries. My parents treated us to lunch at Panera where my mom and I shared the uber delicious Chicken Sorrentina and Michael gave me the last part of his cinnamon roll. We drove to a really nice area with lots of stores and I found two new sports bras at Marshall's.
 The next day I drove to Clermont to go to church with my friend Alana and her husband, Cody. Its a church called Real Life and I enjoyed it a lot. It has the live band with lights and projectors that show pictures of clouds and the ocean while the music plays. The pastor was younger and energetic and he said something that I never thought of before: 52 weeks in a year, with one hour of church, only equals 52 hours of church per year. That's barely over two full days!! Cody said he wished Michael had come too, and so did I, but I don't want to push it. I know Michael likes to pray alone. After church I went to a little Farmer's Market with them. I always love the homemade soap vendors, but find it difficult to pay $4 per bar. A very interesting set up was Rent A Hen. The man said he owns a farm and you sponsor a free-range hen. He takes care of it, then you go pick up the eggs every couple of weeks. And you can visit your hen whenever you want to!! The article I just found says, "They rent the services of a hen for $2 a week, and are guaranteed six eggs per week per hen."
 On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week I made sure to be home when Michael got off from work so we could walk together around a lake (his suggestion!!) which is in a really nice neighborhood area- one of those places where its like its own little town within Orlando.  Its about a 3 mile walk and the pictures above are some of the views. I have been doing arm work outs on Pop Sugar Fitness, hence my aggressive flexing photo.  I've been eating healthier and drinking more milk too. Gotta build those strong bones!! The first day we walked around the lake, I saw that sign with the African girl on it. We took a picture so I could look up the organization when I got home. Its for Children of the Nations. One donation program they have is for Smile Packs, and that is something I plan to put together once I start getting paychecks again.
 I've been trying to get together with Miriam more often too, but sometimes our schedules conflict. We did meet up on Monday and walked two miles around a lake close to her house when it wasn't so hot outside. She was pushing her baby in the stroller and we were lucky to avoid the thunderstorm that passed by on the other side of the highway. When we got back to her house, Miriam made an amazing (yet quick and easy) meal of Cajun salmon with kale and white rice. Yesterday and Tuesday morning I drove to Alana's house again. We walked at a park by the "beach" the first time for two miles, using the Walk For A Dog app that donates money to animal shelters, but since it rained yesterday we played Wii Fit instead. Those are her two dogs, Scarlett and Oliver. When Scarlett's hair grows out, I'm going to take Dorothy and Toto pictures, but Alana can be Dorothy this time.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wekiwa Springs II

The last time I went to Wekiwa Springs was in May 2012 with my friend Sana. But lately Michael had been talking about how he wanted to go too, so we went there on Tuesday instead of going to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I heard that movie was really good, but we can always Redbox it later. It wasn't as hot as I expected it to be, so I never got sweaty enough for the 70 degree water to feel good. We only stuck our feet in for a bit -wimps. Even when we walked along the swampy bridge the air only seemed extremely muggy with mosquitoes that reminded me of the huge ones we saw on Jumaji last week, but still not how I describe "hot". It wasn't burning my skin.
Michael says he would love to go back to rent kayaks and to explore trails they have. It made him think of when he was younger and how he would dress in camo and go on "missions". It is a $6 fee per vehicle to get in to the park, but if its for fun exercise and marriage togetherness, then that six dollars becomes a very important purchase! I do feel like I am more adventurous when I am in a strong and healthy exercise mode. I plan to start that with Miriam on Monday. My Instagram pictures will become extra lively and fitness friendly at that point. I'm already excited!! Plus I believe on the 17th we are going to the new Harry Potter park at Universal to see all the brilliant additions.

iPhone & Instagram

For the past few months I swore up and down that I would not get an iPhone and that I could live with my old little Samsung Flight II for the rest of my life. But then I realized how unhelpful my phone was being when I was trying schedule interviews for my 911 job, leaving messages for people asking them to call me back, then my phone not ringing before chiming to let me know I had a missed call or even a voice mail without a missed call at all! It made me look very unprofessional. So Michael took me to Verizon and with some convincing from my dad, I got the white and gold iPhone 5S, instead of the Droid Mini I had previously been interested in that day. Here is a picture incase you have never seen an iPhone before! ;)
I signed up for unlimited talk and text, and 1 GB of data, with protection. The man said that 46% of iPhone users have a cracked screen. Nobody wants to see a picture of your baby on a shattered screen! We have Wifi at home, so I don't mind waiting until my phone connects to use the internet (for Instagram- the main reason I wanted a fancy phone) that way it doesn't use any extra data. I have enjoyed using my iPhone so far. The typos don't bother me as much as I thought they would. Auto correct does not like me using silly made up nicknames like "Shnooks" or being enthusiastic in the morning and trying to write "Helloooo Mommy-o's!"
These are the best Instagram pictures I have taken lately. Some I share on Facebook, some I don't. But here/ above are the 12 I have uploaded so far. And my captions (left-right) ~

1. First selfie with my iPhone!! #shunned // 2. Sleepy Sasha. #babeloos  // 3. I love all the time I have been able to spend with Miaskee lately!! Is this a dream? ☺️ #ubf // 4. Getting ready to watch Mary Poppins at Disney's Fort Wilderness resort. (for free) // 5. At the pioneer wagon snack bar! // 6. S'mores and hotdogs- delish!! 

7. Got my extra special shirts in the mail today!! Can't wait to model them on Saturday!! // 8. I love how she always runs to us when we come home. I told her to "cheese" and she turned her head. It must be her good side! #oohgirl  // 9. Just stopping to smell the flowers. It was windy and the bee was like, "buzzahhh!!" // 10. My dear friends for the next 4 days. ☕️ // 11. #tbt Super awesome tiny Amish house Michael made out of balsa wood for my 27th birthday in June. He is so talented!! // 12. Sheep!! Cute purchase from an Amish town in Middlefield, Ohio. May 2011

Monday, August 4, 2014

Flowers & Greens

I completely forgot about all the beautiful flower pictures that I took at the Alridge Gardens in Hoover before my friend Danielle arrived to meet me for her graduation pictures a few weeks ago. I only remembered about them when I used the nice camera to take a photo of this mini Polaroid of Michael and I today at Downtown Disney before it monsooned. I think both of us forgot how hot Orlando is, but I am still planning to start my health routine once I get hired at 911 again. I really need to get back in the groove of everything. However, with the current downtime, today I was able to write up inventory of my "super unnecessary amount of hygiene/ bath products". That is how I titled one of the boxes for our move! It included full size shampoo bottles, conditioner, body wash, face scrub and various bags including Crest white strips and many samples by mail, plus extra products I had taken from when we stayed in hotels. I still have aloe from when we went to the Bahamas for our Honeymoon three years ago!! *cough hoarder cough*

Anyway, about those nice garden photos ;)
Again, we agreed on not having cable in this new, small (perfectly sized) 850 sq ft Orlando apartment. We didn't have it in California either and because of that, Michael found a lot of cool shows that we were able to watch for free on Netflix instead. We've been watching more movies lately and I do enjoy that. Now we're watching Chamber of Secrets because it's the one Michael couldn't remember when he was trying to list the Harry Potter movies in order. 

 I showed Michael the statue picture and asked if he knew who it was. His response, "Father Julien?" (The priest who married us.) Ha, no! I told him it was Saint Francis of Assisi, in charge of all the animals. Then Michael asked, "Is he the saint of CiCi's pizza?" My goodness, I look forward to all the silly things our kids say in the future.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Topsail at 6:30AM

The last day at the beach (July 26th), which I don't even count as a "day" since everyone was packing and driving home, I got up early with my cousins Greg and Abby, and we went out in the ocean one last time. It makes me sad to think that I may not see them again for a few years, unless Michael and I are finally able to make a road trip/ flight up to their lake house. I probably haven't been there since right after high school. But I love how close I am with my cousins when are all together ~ just like brothers and sisters.
And the night before everyone left Topsail, instead of watching a movie, Greg showed us all of the pictures he took when he was on his three-week medical mission trip to Africa in May/ June. He went to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. I really liked when Greg would say, "Oh, here's a picture for Rachel," and it was of a bunch of orphans! By the way, tomorrow I will start a combined sponsorship through Amazima Ministries with my friends Mia, Sharanya and Lindsey. =)