Saturday, April 26, 2008

Down with Customs!

I ordered a package almost two weeks ago.

I placed my order, got the shipment tracking info and waited.

Instead of my package coming from the store I ordered it from right to my address here, right across the river from the U.S., it went to Quebec.

Yup, went to a big fat customs warehouse in Quebec. Not because the store did anything wrong. But because Canada Customs sucks.

From there, it had to spend several days in transit from their warehouse in Quebec to my house, right across the river from the U.S.

I wonder if anyone has this much trouble buying anything from Canada, GOVERNMENT!

Stupid customs. I'm getting a P.O. Box. It will solve many of my problems!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I went to my friend's baby shower yesterday. I'm so excited for her. She's my coworker and we've known each other for a little over two years and when you've been in the trenches like we have, you become "brothers" if you will. I'm kind of sad she'll be leaving us on mat leave, but again, so excited for her.

The shower meant lots of work. I made the cake and it was the second "special occasion" cake that I've made since I started taking these courses. It was pretty cool. She's not one of those fru fru baby people so I found this cute cake topper from Wilton that is a pregnant super hero. Totally her. So I made a two tier yellow and blue cake with pink stars. Turned out too cute. But these cakes man, they're so time consuming! I baked until about 9:30 on Thursday night and then put the whole thing together on Friday night.

I'm working on the idea for a cake my sister wants me to make for their friends new baby at the end of the month of May. I'm thinking another tiered cake with morning glories (which are too cool and that we learned how to make) and butterflies made out of sugar paste. We'll see how that whole idea pans out.

Today it's pull out the summer clothes, put away the winter clothes, vacuum a few carpets and finish off my last entry for the Luxe Design Team entry. I'm kind of scared about it. I really want to be on the design team but I know there are many more people who are much more creative than I am. Added to that, I'm struggling with a bit of "idea vs. execution" drama. I have this idea in my head but when I actually put it out there, it doesn't look quite as good as I thought it would. We'll see though. I may just be a little overly critical of myself.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ace of Cake

One of my new year's resolutions was to learn something new. Well, that happens just about every day so we'll go with "take a class and learn something new" instead. So since tv was on hiatus and it was winter, I decided to take a photography course and also a cake decorating course. That one course led to the whole three course offerings at Michael's and now I'm done.

While I enjoyed each week of the course learning something different and cool, it was really tedious and I got sick of making cake or icing or both each weekend. One night of class turned into a whole weekend of work. Last weekend was spent pretty much at the kitchen table making roses out of gum paste. Big fun anyone will tell you--not!

So my final cake turned out really cool and now everyone wants me to make cakes for them. That is, everyone in my family. I'm not about to start doing this as a profession, I make enough money doing what I do at my day job. And really, I'm a little too high strung and anal to bake cakes every day. I'd get all freaked out that they were crooked or didn't taste right or had some other issue. Not to mention I'm one of those people that just gets frustrated and gives up.

The courses are actually pretty cool if anyone wants to take them. I figured they were worth it for the $20 they cost. You do have to buy a crap load of supplies, but I didn't hear anyone complaining about my cakes. I loved that I now know how to actually ice a cake properly and I can also apply fondant to a cake. I was tempted to go to this big cake convention type thing in Vegas to learn even more neat tricks but I'm sick of cake. And I don't want to turn into a crazy person...well, more crazy than I am of course!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Final critique

I took a photography course at the college this term to sort of learn a few things. I had bought a nice fancy camera and while I know how to take photos normally, I wanted to be able to do all the new fangled cool stuff like lights and night shots and blurry action etc. I figured this would help me.

Now I'm the kind of person who is a total hands on learner. I can't have someone say to me "you need to set the camera to this and then do this this and this". I have to have them show me the photo and then tell me how to get it that way. As in, to get this shot like this, you have to set the shutter speed as slow as possible and then change the f/stop to something like "a".

Needless to say I spent the entire semester feeling like a total loser because I felt like I was lost the entire time. In the end, I know what I'm doing, have grasped the concepts and did a good job. I had been stressed about our final critique for weeks. I thought I wasn't doing things right, hadn't taken the right photos and was just going to fail the class (I'm an overachiever, did I mention that?) But it was all good. The teacher brought in her friend who shoots mostly digital to help with the critique. Not that I want to brag or anything, but I'm glad I took a different array of shots. Everyone else had either shots from the field trips they went on, flowers, or shots from the zoo. I tried to touch upon all aspects of the course. So here are my photos, what I was thinking, what was said etc.

This is actually a rose. I wanted to take a cool macro shot but didn't have a lens that could do it. The developer thought it was a flame on the screen and it took both my teacher and her assistant a double check and a close up view just to figure it out. She loved the veins in it, he loved the aspect of the shadow across it. I loved that they had to look twice to figure it out.

This one was fun. My coworker is engaged to a firefighter and I wanted a neat mirror shot. I figured they would have a convex mirror in the bay but they didn't. So we played with the mirror on the truck a bit. In the end, my teacher and her assistant couldn't figure it out. He thought it was a school bus and when I said it was a fire truck AND had a firefighter in it, they both had to stand there and study it a bit. Kind of like a "Where's Waldo" thing. Again, score Lesley!

This one I knew what I did wrong. And now that I know how to take sparkler photos, I'm actually kind of excited. It was all in the setting of the light etc.

I LOVE this shot. If it wasn't so cold, I would have stayed out there and taken more. But it was too cold and I didn't have a tripod so I just rested my camera on a hydro box on the corner. I would also go somewhere much darker (down by the river) and take a photo that way. Really cool technique and I'm so impressed I know how to do it. They both loved it.

This was the assistants favourite shot. He said it was great because it drew the viewer in, the rule of thirds was in it, and it was cut perfectly to include the crane and the hydro poles in the background etc. But the reason he loved it was because he said it was like a Flinstone's cartoon, the crane looked like it would drop the metal girder at any point on the heads of the people in the shot.

This was my teacher's favourite shot. I loved it as well. The angel looks so real. But the funniest part about this photo is the story behind it. I took my oldest neice out with me to take photos thinking she could be my "model" if I needed. I didn't realize she hadn't been to a graveyard before. This was at Mount Pleasant in London, a really old and historical graveyard with neat stuff. The questions she asked me were hilarious. Does Jesus have any relatives. Are they still alive. Do you have to be dead to have a headstone. How do they decide what box to put you in. Do they just put you in a box and then put you in the ground. Why do some people have big houses (mausoleum) for their bodies. There's more than one body in there. Are kids allowed in the cemetery. The questions went on and on. I've probably scarred her for life now.

All in all, I'm glad it's over. I had a fun time and I liked my classmates but it was really tedious going in every Thursday night for four hours. Added to that, the stress of the photo taking, it was not pleasant. I forgot how nerve wracking school can be. Tonight was my final cake class. That was a burn that I am glad is over. I'll post those photos another night.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I have a serious case of spring fever today. And I? Love it!

The sun was out at 7 when I unlocked the office door this morning, the sun shone all day today and now, at 7:10, it is still shining. Love it love it love it!

Which means it will probably snow this weekend.

But I will not think of snow, or darkness, or cold, like the kind that kept me awake last night and forced me to put on another blanket on the bed. Nope, I will think spring today. Happiness abounds!

Added to all this, I have finished choosing my photos for my final critique tomorrow night in class. SOO glad to have this class over. This critique has been hanging over my head for weeks!!! Then it's the last class for my Cake course at Michael's on Tuesday night and then I am done with school!

I'm also looking forward to this weekend. It's the first one in a long time with no company, no travel, no events, nothing to do but do some spring cleaning, some spring organizing, some spring crafting, some spring springing! Can't wait!