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December 28, 2010

It's the best time of year for holiday cheer!

I love Christmas. Love it! I love getting together with family, having my annual Week of Snow, and watching people's reactions as they open gifts I picked out or made for them. I love all our holiday traditions: sticky buns and cream chipped beef; Christmas Eve carol singing around the tree, complete with candlelit Silent Night; pass-the-bags to 'Twas The Night Before Christmas (pass every time you hear the word "the"; at the end, one of the bags is a winner with a little extra Christmas treat); group game-playing; all of it!

This year was Steve's first Christmas, Andres-style.

We started off our trip with a rather busy Christmas Eve-Eve holiday-prep day, including breakfast with Meghan, second meeting with the pastor for the wedding, and manicures for my sister and me. The rest really was Christmas Eve preparations, ending with all of us in the kitchen making various dishes for the next day.

We had our Christmas morning a day early on Christmas Eve Morning (CEM). Steve and I had a very crafty December, making ornaments for friends and family. Only a few of these went to people present on CEM, but I thought I'd share them all:

Elaina & Danny and Pat & Laura, with whom we went to San Antonio and the Alamo this summer.

These were for Grandma Peggy and Grandpa Jim, and are their grandchildren (plus Steve) organized by family.

Meghan & Mark (getting married next March) and Emily & Frank (expecting twins next March)

Around lunchtime, the Kansas City crew arrived. Once Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Phil joined us a bit later, our traditional Christmas Eve was underway. We played games (Catchphrase and a 1300-clue crossword puzzle), had a delicious dinner, sang Christmas Carols and played Pass the Bag. We went to the Christmas Eve church service, and then came home and collapsed.

On Christmas Day, the whole group of us headed over in three cars to Aunt Nancy's house. More good food, more gift exchanges, and more games (Catchphrase again, Telephone Pictionary, Bananagrams, and Spicy Farkel). We even had a delightful cousins snow-fight photoshoot. Phil has all the fun pictures; I only ended up with one posed shot.

Andres Cousins!

The 26th brought our third Christmas celebration, as the Green Bay group made the trek southward. More food, more games (Dirty Bingo this time).

I'm a little snowflake...


3/4 of the Green Bay Crew

Aunt Debbie and Becca

Our trip ended with an overbooked flight, which netted Steve and me $400 each in travel vouchers. Woot! That will help tremendously with paying for the four-plus flights we'll be taking next year, between weddings (Meghan's and ours), honeymoon, and Christmas.

All in all, a FABULOUS Christmas, and the celebrating's not over! There's still New Years to look forward to. I love holidays!

December 14, 2010

Toy Camera

On a sort of new-camera theme, I got my first roll of film taken with my new Diana F+ developed. The camera was a birthday gift to myself from the Museum of Photographic Art in Balboa Park.

This is my first experience with 120 film, which I had to hunt down at a local San Diego camera store. I further had to search out someplace closer to home to get it developed. It turns out there is a photo store right around the corner! Excellent.

So... here are the results. It takes a roll of 12 pictures, but I somehow only used 11 of them. All but one (should be fairly obvious which one... :D) were taken at the Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. There are a few more in the "Continue Reading" section below.




Mom - Stay Back!

Sunset Cliffs

Me at the Sunset Cliffs in San Diego

Sunset Cliffs

I'm kind of excited to play around with it some more. You can take double exposures and control the shutter speed, and it can even be a pinhole camera. I do think I would like to get a flash so that all my pictures don't have to be taken outside. Maybe someday...

Mom and Me


Mom and Me

Christmas Tree

December 09, 2010


A few weeks ago, I built a pinhole camera with a kit. It's cardboard, held together with Elmer's glue and tape and rubber bands. There's nothing automatic or battery-operated about it, which is, you know, about as opposite as you can get from the digital cameras I'm used to!

I don't have a picture of the camera itself, but here's me using it:

Pinhole Camera

The exposure time is anywhere from 1/4 of a second to 3.5 minutes, depending on lighting conditions. It's really hard to judge 1/4 of a second when you're lifting and lowering the shutter with your hand. Also, the first seven pictures are to be wound 1 1/4 times, and then each picture after that just once. But I lost track! So some of the pictures weren't lined up properly with the film.

Which is all to say, I took 48 pictures and came out with about six that are recognizable. *g*

Rock Band

This is Steve playing Rock Band. I think I left the shutter up for a long time here.

Mickey Phone
Here's the original version of a picture of my Mickey phone (which I love *g*)...

...and here's a version after I messed with the levels in Photoshop.

Beach San Diego 2
This is from the beach in San Diego. A muuuuuch shorter exposure time than the indoor ones above, which I think contributed to a little bit of unsteadiness of my hand, and thus the blurriness. Oh well.

Playground Dolphins San Diego
This one is possibly even more blurry! It's a playground (also in San Diego), and those things are little concrete dolphins. My mom is actually leaning on one.

Turtles SD Zoo
And these are Galapagos tortoises at the San Diego Zoo.

In conclusion: FUN! I'll keep messing around with it, now that I have some idea of what to possibly do to make these better. Like... get a tripod, maybe. (It, surprisingly, DOES have a tripod mount!) The housekeeper at the hotel picked up the camera by the viewfinder, which lifts the shutter, and left it sitting on the nightstand open for goodness knows how long, and that picture actually came out very clear! Although, it was an amazingly interesting picture of... the edge of the bed. *laugh* So maybe for the next roll, I'll try some longer exposures.

December 03, 2010

Greetings from San Diego!

Because my birthday was last Saturday, my mom's birthday was yesterday, and I had some vacation to use or lose, we took a trip together to celebrate.

We arrived in San Diego Tuesday afternoon. We spent Wednesday Christmas shopping at an outdoor mall, did a little browsing at a farmer's market and antique shop in Ocean Beach, and then met my friends Theresa and Dan for dinner at a little Mexican restaurant there.

Thursday was spent at Balboa Park, where we visited the Museum of Photographic Arts and the Timkin Museum of Art, had a birthday celebration dinner at El Prado Restaurant, and went to see Plaid Tidings, a holiday version of Forever Plaid. Wonderful day!

Today, the San Diego Zoo. AWESOME zoo! I mean, I expected it to be very good, but I was even impressed beyond my expectations. We saw a sea lion and endangered species show, took the bus tour, rode the SkyFari tram, and walked allllll over. Then we went on an errand which landed us in Little Italy, so we ate at a quaint, authentic, family-run Italian restaurant and bakery. YUM.

Tomorrow, I think we'll hit Sunset Cliffs, and then play it by ear as it's our last day.

Pictures to follow, of course. We've taken so many! But I'm on a laptop with no external mouse, and resizing and uploading and posting them is more than my tired self can handle right now.

But speaking of pictures, I bought a new camera!! Which actually takes a bit of explanation.

The last few books I've read and/or listened to on audio book have, in some way another (and sort of randomly and unplanned), dealt with photography.One of them featured a Holga fairly significantly. A month or so ago, Steve and I built a pinhole camera using a kit. I don't actually know how well it works; I have to get my pictures developed. They may be dark or washed out or blurry or not even lined up properly, but it'll be fun to see!

Anyway, at the gift shop of the Museum of Photographic Arts, they sold Holgas! And I was thisclose to getting one. I was talking to the girl working the counter, and she ended up recommending a Diana F+ over the Holga, mostly because of its versatility. The Diana can be a pinhole camera (bonus: I can be SURE the film is lined up properly), but also acts similarly to a Holga and has a wide range of accessories and modifications that can be added/made.

It uses 120mm film, which I kind of had to hunt down (which is how we found ourselves in Little Italy tonight, at a local camera shop). And I really have no idea where I'll be able to get it developed, or where I might find it to buy closer to home, but I'm sure I'll figure that part out.

For now, I can't wait to experiment!

I have two rolls of pinhole camera film to develop, and hopefully at least one of the 120mm, plus all the digital photos from this trip, so stay tuned for a picture-heavy post coming soon.