Monday, June 29, 2009

A peek into my day job.

Not that it's super impressive or anything, but I thought I'd share a few things that have come across my desk recently at work. Below are stock photography images that I've had to alter to varying degrees. These are the types of things that tend to take up a lot of my day (sometimes days) when they pop up. Retouching photos used to really intimidate me, but a couple years ago, I got thrown into it and learned some tricks from a former co-worker who was probably expert level. Now, I don't claim to be at his Photoshop skill level, but I'm getting more comfortable with it and don't panic when I send out final artwork anymore.

The blond lady was missing the side and top of her hair and her left shoulder. The brunette was missing the top and some of the right side of her hair. Not too bad as far as retouching goes, but hair can be a little tricky to work around. I added hair to both, dropped out the background and adjusted the color a little bit, just to make them look a little less flat. They have a little rosy glow now.

For this image the art director made lots of changes. A couple of which I initially overlooked and had to go back and adjust more once I realized. Sometimes they forget to tell me everything they'd like for me to do to the photos! Anyway, the obvious change was the removal of the prescription bottles. Then the blurry cotton swab jar in front of her right shoulder had to go too. This pretty much came down to recreating the front of her lab coat. That was interesting. There just wasn't much to work with there. After that, I had to nix the IV bag and rack and replace the background because the image wasn't quite wide enough for the project. I think I ended up adding a smidge to the beakers and laptop as well. 

This one was involved! It wasn't really a problem to get rid of the little floating platform. Unfortunately this image was way too skinny for the art director's vision. I had to make up the deck and the arm of the chair on the left and add a bit to the right side as well. There's not much to say about it, other than it took me a while to get it to where you might not notice if it weren't pointed out to you. Water generally has a nice ripple to it, but you have to be careful not to have it look too much like a pattern. At least I got to look at a cute cat for a while. :)

So that sort of stuff is probably the most challenging part of my day job. Not too bad for a day's work, although I spend a lot of time with jewelry design in the back of my mind...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Two Saturdays ago, my mom and I decided to make the short drive to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. We used to go at least once every summer with her sister and my cousin, who is a year younger than me. We would really look forward to it, I mean, it was a big deal to us as kids! Neither my mom nor I had been there in years and a lot has changed since I was a kid. There are some new exhibits as well as some that have been completely revamped with beautiful results. We're very fortunate to have such a wonderful zoo here in Cincinnati. I realize this looks like a lengthy post, but it is made up mostly of photos and captions. Enjoy!

There always seems to be a peacock everywhere you look when you're there. Some of them hide, some are in plain sight like this lovely guy below. He's standing alongside the track of the train that you can ride around the zoo. There is a tram as well that visits the places not requiring a track. Nice features if you're looking to sit down for a little bit and still keep moving and sight-seeing. 

These little guys were inside the petting zoo. Am I the only one surprised to see penguins outside in the sunny 80º weather? I always thought they were all cold-loving. See? Plenty of learning opportunities at the zoo...

The giraffe area is one that is completely different from when I was a kid. They have lots more room to run around now. It used to be they were in a smaller roundish area, and you could pick leaves off the bushes surrounding it and hold them on the palm of your hand and they would lick them up! It was so cool! I suppose that was a hazard to both children and the giraffes. They now have specific times throughout the day where you can purchase giraffe food for a $1 and feed them while supervised by a zoo keeper. Much better idea!

Same sort of changes for the elephant area as well. More room – yea!

I wish I had taken the bigger camera. The dark lump on the ground behind this big male western lowland gorilla is actually a mom and her baby! She was lying on her back in the shade and baby was on top of her. It was the cutest thing!

The cat house has always been one of my favorite exhibits. It was done up really well probably 10 years ago. We caught this guy snoozing!

These little sweeties were in the nocturnal house... the fennec fox. One side note on the nocturnal house: I was super-annoyed by people who were not turning off the flashes on their cameras in there. People! These animals come out mainly at night. How do you think bright flashes make them feel?!? I mean, there are signs all over in there lit with black lights. Sometimes I just want to smack people...

This guy seemed to be waiting for a photo-op. The Yellow-backed Duiker. I don't remember seeing them before...

Greater Flamingos

No one saw this guy until I started taking photos of him. He was nestled quietly up in the trees under the railroad bridge. I tried to get the full length shot, but I think I need some practice! Too many people started to stop too, so he started to stir...

We've had white tigers as long as I can remember. Here is one, doing what cats will do.

This cheetah was sleeping and all of the sudden popped its head up and let out a meow that sounded like one of my house cats! It was so cute to hear. I don't think of big cats meowing, but I guess some do.

Beautiful snoozing Malayan Tiger.

Three good-size red ear slider turtles who reside outside the manatee exhibit.

The manatees! This was the first time I'd seen these guys. They've been at the zoo for a few years. A funny thing, they have these machines where you put a penny in along with two quarters (for the fee) and turn the crank and it will flatten the penny and stamp a zoo image on it, then spits it out. Beside that was one that made quarters. (I've seen them before at MGM Grand in Vegas, and I usually throw in a penny to see what I get out.) Well, my mom thought it was the greatest thing ever! She must have spent $10 between the two and we actually had to go back outside the manatee exhibit to the snack stand to get change for a five dollar bill so she could take it back inside and make more pennies and quarters. It was making me laugh.

This is one of my favorite exhibits and I'm thrilled that Siegfried and Roy chose our zoo for some of their cats. Really cool, if you ask me!

The white lions... I know he doesn't look snow white, but he's definitely much lighter in color than the ones you generally see. So majestic and beautiful. He was waking up from a nap and shifting to a different spot. Then, back to sleep. They have rotations for the males and females to be out in this area on different days. We were there on the male day, obviously.

This Sumatran Orangutan was awake and alert and checking everyone out.

Polar bears, taking a dip.

I thought it was nice of this little one to pose above his sign for easy identification – the scarlet-chested parakeet.

Two blue and gold macaws.

Another peacock, this one a female. She must be a greeter. She was right inside the entrance and let me get up close to her to get her pic! No zoom here. Maybe it wasn't the best idea I had all day, looking back. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

A short stay in Waynesville

I was a participant in a show yesterday that I actually found by browsing the Etsy forums. It's called Second Sunday Stroll and it's an arts and crafts fair series that takes place in the quaint village of Waynesville, OH. I thought it was farther away than it actually was, but turns out it's just a 40 minute or so drive from where we live. Not too bad.

It was a nice day for a drive and the show didn't open until noon and ran until 5 pm, so I wasn't rushed to get out of bed early, which was nice. Naturally I was up later than expected the night before finishing up tasks like making business cards and labels for my boxes, so a little extra sleep was helpful. I honestly don't know where time goes sometimes. I had a week to replenish my supplies from last week's show, but never seemed to find the spare time.

I arrived in Waynesville in plenty of time to get unloaded and set up, and one of the shop owners (there are many antique and boutique type shops up there... very cute little town!) and another vendor helped me set up my tent in no time at all. (No, couldn't convince my husband to tag along this time. lol) It ended up being around 85º and sunny with a bit of a cool breeze now and then. There was a relatively steady flow of small groups and couples walking around. I was one of 5 jewelry vendors on the short block where my booth was set up. I still managed to do alright though, considering. I ended up with around $75 in sales, with the space fee being only $15. I was happy to have sales when some others had lots of window shoppers. 

Around 3:40ish, I started hearing drops of rain hitting my canopy. No big deal, I thought, it was just drizzle. No sooner had I thought it, the sky turned dark and thunder started rolling through, which was all followed by a nice steady, relatively heavy rain. I mean, not a lovely shower, but a downpour. Fortunately I had gotten all of my jewelry and display pieces packed safely away in my plastic bins. I decided to make a run for it and get the car pulled around. By the time I got there and back to my tent it was really coming down and I was soaked. I was trying to get the covers off of my tables and my tent decided to take a walk down the street. (I didn't realize going in that we weren't going to be on grass, so I had no way of weighing down my tent, along with a few other vendors.) That sucker was moving on all four legs like it was on wheels, right toward my neighbor's shiny red truck! For a second it was like it was playing in slow motion, then I snapped out of it quick enough to grab one of the legs before it got to the truck. That's when I looked back and saw my neighbor on the other side's tent following mine! Then the lady who was running the show saw me struggling and grabbed the other tent. That vendor had walked away to get some lunch with her daughter moments before it started raining heavily. Her display (also jewelry) was still intact, aside from a little jostling around from the tent pulling it along. Finally we got my tent down and I shoved it in the back of our SUV. I still need to get that canopy out so it can dry... 

It was really getting to be pretty funny. The runaway tent makes me laugh aloud, since nothing was damaged and no one injured. But I felt like I looked like someone in a movie, on a boat in a storm or something. Calling for help, holding on to that tent pole for life. LOL It was ridiculous. Had to look hysterical.

Needless to say, that show wrapped up about an hour earlier than scheduled. Sorry I don't have any photos this time. I forgot to even take my camera along for this one. I'm now 50/50 on outdoor shows. Last week the weather was flawless, this week not so much. It was still nicely put together and run though, despite the weather not cooperating. (They are looking for more vendors as well, so if you're interested, check out the link above! It doesn't always rain there!) I think I'll probably do it again in the future. If anyone is up that way, you really should check out Waynesville sometime!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Busy weekend with a very successful show!

Last week, my 4-day work week turned into 5 days. (Nope, didn't take long.) I really don't mind but I was hoping to get to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens with my mom on Friday because it was supposed to be sunny and a mild 80º. Well, that didn't happen so I decided to see if she wanted to go on Saturday instead. We did go and it was awesome. I'll post more on that later though. After the zoo, my husband and I went to see The Hangover. We thought it was really funny and we enjoyed the gratuitous shots of Las Vegas. (Kinda goofy/stupid guy humor, I guess... I don't know who out there would appreciate it...)

Sunday had me at the first ever Trillium Art Fair in Glenwood Gardens. It's not too far from our house, so I didn't have to get up and head out terribly early. It started at 11 am and I managed to drag my husband there to help me set up my brand new tent. It went up in a snap, even without the directions which I didn't realize were tucked in the bag with the stakes. (Got a funny look from my husband when I found those. It's okay, I get that look from him a lot. lol) I might need to add a table next time I do an outdoor show. Looking at my display like this makes me feel it's on the small side.

I guess they publicized the event pretty well because all day long it was a steady stream of people, sometimes lots at a time. People were there before it opened and were already shopping. The weather held up nicely - not too hot and not a cloud in the sky. It was awesome! Lots of people had their dogs with them (many walk their dogs there daily on the trails, from what I learned), so next year if I get in again I'll have some doggie treats there for all my four-legged browsers. They had a really nice set-up and it's just an amazing park that I never even knew existed. Various local bands played throughout the day and I was set-up near the stage. Below is the first band, Jake Speed and the Freddies, who are awesome, by the way.

I thought I got really lucky when the first thing I sold was a necklace. From there it just never slowed down. I actually had to call my husband to bring me more $1's and $5's. I ended up with over $500 in sales, eight of them credit card transactions (thank you, Propay!), making it my most successful show so far. I never could have anticipated those kinds of numbers. Most times, I'm thrilled if I make $150 or so. They already have the date set for next year and I am definitely going to try to get in again.

Below is the view from my booth when the fair first opened at 11. There wasn't much time after that to take photos! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Trying to stay within a budget. Sorta.

It's hard to believe it's Wednesday already. This week seems to be zipping by and I don't feel like I'm getting much done. Last night I listed a couple pairs of earrings in my shop and tonight I was feeling a little uninspired so I thought I'd leave the jewelry design for tomorrow night and catch up on reading some of my favorite blogs. Everyone seems so busy and productive! I do have a show this Sunday. It's a juried one that I managed to get into a bit late (like last week. eek!). I've got a brand new tent that looks pretty nice. It's even got UV protection, of which I am a big proponent. I still need to set that up in the yard and make sure I know what the heck to do with it. 

Since I don't have a whole lot to report on the jewelry design front, I thought I'd share one of my new favorite recipes. We've been trying very hard lately to eat at home the majority of the time rather than out at restaurants in an effort to save money. Our kitchen is in the midst of a remodel and, by that I mean, it's barely a kitchen at all. There is a sink cabinet, a small table and chairs, refrigerator and a newer range. It's been like that for about 5 years. Yep, big stall in the funding... it's a long story. We found out just last week that we need to replace the stack of our plumbing configuration. We've been wanting to redo our bathroom, which sits directly above the kitchen with the pipes in the kitchen ceiling, and we can't redo the kitchen until the bathroom is done, so we're really trying to scrape up some money for the repairs that lie ahead.

(I know this is a long way to go for a recipe, isn't it?)

I picked up a copy of Real Simple magazine a month or so ago and saw a recipe for Gingery Glazed Asian Ribs. I tried it out that week. The sauce is amazing! I think I picked a bad rack of ribs or they needed to be cooked for way longer than the recipe suggested. Either way, I picked up a pork tenderloin the following week and followed the recipe again with that. It was outstanding! Very easy to make and delicious. I make basmati rice with it and lima beans. 

Note: If you've never worked with fresh ginger, which I hadn't, you peel it first like a potato before grating it. It's pretty easy to work with and I think the fresh flavor is worth the little extra effort.

If anyone tries it, please let me know how you liked it and if you used ribs or tenderloin! I'd love to know if I just did something wrong!


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