Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall is in the Air! HORRAY FOR PUMPKINS!

Omg I need to post more often, this is ridiculous.

SO! It's fall. That's an awesome thing in my book. I love the weather. I love the clothes. I love the harvest and all the color. I love the leaves, the food and most of all I love the PUMPKIN!!
Pumpkin is totally awesome not only because it's orange and you can carve awesome stuff into it but because it's packed with wicked good nutrients! Our favorite orange squash is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It's also a great source of Vitamin E, Iron, Magnesium and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C! AWESOME. However, pumpkin is good in foods other than desserts, baked goods and jack-o-lanterns. It's great for other things too like salads, stuffings, and curries! Whether canned or fresh it's always awesome and always a great treat for a fall or winter meal!

So to celebrate fall being here I decided to make Pumpkin Soup today! It's nice and creamy with a gentle spice to it that lingers just a bit after each spoonfull. Alan even had seconds <3

Yummy, and healthy pumpkin soup! :D

Follow Ze Recipe!

Supplies: 1 soup pot, blender or submersion blender (the wand things you use for smoothies, etc)

Pumpkin Soup
4 Cups Vegetable Stock
2 cans OR 2 lbs pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix, the actual pumpkin)
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 med onion chopped fine (optional)*
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp ground or crushed rosemary
1/4 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Mince your garlic and onion* and saute over medium high with olive oil for about 5 minutes.
2. Add your veggie stock and pumpkin. Stir a bit to break up the pumpkin. Add your spices and bring to a boil. Stir every now and again to keep pumpkin from sticking to the bottom. Keep your pot uncovered.
3. Turn heat down to Medium. Use the submersion blender if you have it and blend everything until smooth. If you don't have one, use a regular blender and blend a cup or two at a time, then return it to the pot.
4. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Stir every once in a while.
5. Once your 30 minutes have passed, add your heavy whipping cream and stir in. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stir gently to prevent any burning.

Makes: 4 large servings
Calories: 104 per serving
Fat: 5.4 grams per serving

Serve hot! A great way to garnish this is with fresh parsley, grated carrot, or a light sprinkling of cheese. Goes great with sourdough bread, sandwiches, salads, or lightly cooked veggies! Some people of the non-vegetarian type could add sausage, beef or small peices of shredded meats to give it a bit more texture!

Cooking Tip:
Garlic is always a pain to peel. Do yourself a favor and with a large broad knife and a cutting board, place the small bit of garlic bulb in the middle. Flipping your knife so that the flat side of the blade is facing the cieling gently rest it over the bulb. Being very careful press down on the blade and smush the bit of garlic. You'll hear a soft crackling sound, which is the casing breaking! Set your blade aside, and slip the casing off of it. If it's taking a little bit too much effort (seriously it should pull right off) try pressing a bit more on your garlic with the broad side of your knife. Volia! A perfectly peeled peice of garlic ready for chopping, mincing or a session with a garlic press!
I can't totally take the credit for this tip because my girl-bro-from-another-ho, Maggie taught it to me.
All together now: THANK YOU MAGGIE!

If you get the chance to try this recipe out let me know what you think! I'd love to know what changes you made and if you liked it or not!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Photo Post: Maggie and Louis Mclellan's 1st Anniversary Shoot

Maggie and Louis (AKA "Loopy) Mclellan are two of my favorite people in the world. I met Maggie when I was in college and she was, still is, and probably always will be totally awesome. The two met in 2007 if I remember right. Loopy popped the question in 2008. In 2009 on a rather rainy September 19th, the two were married at a cozy little farm house near Clemson, South Carolina. Maggie approached me two weeks before their anniversary asking if I would take photos of them. She explained that though the photos that were taken at her wedding were okay she just wasn't thrilled with them and she wanted some really good photos of her and her husband. How could I say no? So Alan and myself piled into a car with the two of them on September 19th, for a lovely little excusion around Atlanta! Check it out! :D

Want to see more? Check out my flickr! :D

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Photo Post: Brittany Reardon

I had the chance to work with the ever awesome Brittany Reardon for a Photoshoot. Mainly we worked on headshots, but I got to play around with other shots too! We met at an old cotton mill plant that has now been refurbished into a classy shops, studios, and apartment homes. Each storefront on the bottom has their own little thing going in design and decor out on the patios. This lead to a really diverse area to shoot in! Brittnay was a dream to work with and so sexy to boot! The camera LOVED her!

Want to see more? Head over to my flickr!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To My Compainion and Friend

The first time I held you, your green eyes looked up at me and you purred. I adopted you and brought you home to the dorms of my college, which was against the rules. I didn't care. I needed you and you needed me. You were three months old. Beautiful and lively and happy and charming.

You would curl up on my back or chest and purr as I slept or woke up. You would climb into mine or Alan's lap and you would butt our heads affectionately. You were the originator of the 'head bonk' that Alan and I still give to each other to this day. You stayed with us through 5 five different apartments, survived a fire, countless trips up and back to North Carolina, the bringing of a puppy to the house, the introduction and premature loss of Quanta our calico, through three sets of roommates, our engagement, our wedding, and 7 years of our lives.

You lost your leg, and held up beautifully. You gave the doctors a smile every time they saw you and any company who came and eventually got to know you loved you instantly. You were shy, kind, and the only time you ever hissed at me was when we found your tumor and I hurt you by accident.

We will miss your presence. I will miss you curled up by the computer as I work. Alan will miss you clawing your way up into his lap as he paints. We will miss your soft mewling, and the way you ran to your bowl to tell us it was half empty (a travesty, we know). We will miss walking by a particularly good spot of sunbeam and seeing you roll onto your back enjoying the warmth. We will miss you. We will miss you dearly.

But we've now lost you. You have moved on. Dr. Sauls, your vet did all she could, but nothing she, nor I, nor Alan could do would have helped you. You suffered, you couldn't breathe, and a flowering new cancer was crushing your lungs. Dr.Sauls told us. Alan made a sound of sorrow I've never heard escape his throat. Dr. Sauls cried with us and told us we've done all we can. We took you into the vet...and I knew I was not going to walk out with you. My intuition told me this...but I ignored it and believed the flimsy hope that your condition was superficial and I would have my little 'night fury' back in my arms purring as I read, or worked, or slept.

You did not come home.

In Japan, their parting phrase is Sayonara. Sayonara does not mean good-bye, it never has. What it actually means is 'see you later'. We did not say goodbye to you, because we both know you will find your way back to us. You are welcome home at any time, and we will welcome you with open and loving arms, ready to hold you and love you just as we did then, if not more.
You were sedated, and as Alan and I held you as you went to sleep, we wept and petted you and told you how much we loved you.

And the last time we held looked up at us with your bright green eyes and you purred.

Gemini Tupper - May 2004 to August 13th, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon

Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon

Our heroes Hiccup & Toothless

I've been waiting for this movie for a LONG TIME. It was brought to my attention through a couple my husband and I are close friends with, Shelley and Brian. My husband and I are both animators/story tellers by profession so I was a little perturbed that I was totally out of the loop when the trailer for this came around. Shelley and Brian showed me the trailer and I eagerly dug into everything I could find on the film.

First off one should understand that Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon is the studios third film (to my knowledge) that is based on a book. Useless Trivia for the day: The first Dreamworks film based on a book was actually the 2D animated epic The Prince of Egypt; the second film based on a book was their first 3D movie Shrek (but the sequels not so much).
The book, How to Train Your Dragon is the first in a 7 book series written by UK based childrens author Credessia Cowell. The first book is written in the perspective of Hiccup, a noodley, awkward and disappointingly dweeby Viking prince who just doesn't fit in. The movie differs greatly from the book on plot points and overall feel, as the books are made up of a lot of potty humor. As one person has said 'the gross stuff young boys would like'. Dreamworks also left out that Hiccup actually knows how to speak 'Dragonese' (examples: Mi Mama no likeit yum-yum on di bum. = My mother does not like to be bitten on the bottom. Nee-ah crappa inna di hoosus, pishyou. = No pooing inside the house. Doit a wummortime. = Let’s try that again.) The books are a fast paced, hilarious thrill ride for anyone looking for something fun and different whether you're 8 or 80. Speaking of which I want to make a segway on that topic for a moment. Should you wish to forgo this segway skip the portion marked with a *.

*Childrens books, the really really successful childrens books, have a charm, wit, excitement and inspiring message that branches beyond just children. The authors realize that adults will be (for the most part) reading these books too, and in many cases reading for a child. As an adult I appriciate it when authors remember the adult is there, and while writing for children understand that it's not JUST children they are writing for. Good childrens authors do not write for children but the general audience. That means everyone from Tiny Tim, the emo teen, Joe the business guy, and Grandma Ida. Good childrens authors write for everyones enjoyment, and a good movie company whose main focus is on childrens entertainment remembers the very same fact. For example there is a vast difference in story quality from (sticking to Dreamworks here) the original Shrek when compared to Monsters vs. Aliens. MvA was a humorous movie. Yes it was funny, but what a lot of people do not realize is that a bunch of funny pop-culture jokes thrown together does not make a good story. Here I bring in what the industry calls "The 50 Year Rule." This rule states that if someone from 50 years in the future goes to see your movie, will it still be relevant? Will this time traveler actually get the jokes? Will they understand the story or will they just be lost? The idea being (and that has held to be quite true) is that the more your films story is based on pop-culture, the more likely your movie will be lost to time. Eventually it will never be remembered by anyone except the few hardcore movie buffs. Dreamworks movies tend to have a hard time dealing with this issue, sometimes seeming to throw it out all together (though they broke their trend with Kung Fu Panda). This is a problem ALL writers face, not just script writers. This is also the biggest difference between Dreamworks and Pixar. Critics are constantly talking about 'the battle of animation studios', the two heads going against each other being Team Dreamworks and Team Pixar. Somehow, Pixar is generally the winner, and critics are always leaving their readers (and sometimes themselves) wondering why that is. The core reason is simple: Pixar story development teams understand that when you say your target audience is children, it means your target audience is the General Public. But I digress...*

How to Train Your Dragon starts out with our hero Hiccup severely wishing he could be more of a Viking. He's noodley, awkward, and the only thing he has going for him is that he's creative and brainy. So how does Hiccup go about becoming more of a Viking, and solving all of his social problems? He's gotta kill himself a dragon of course! And he REALLY wants to kill a dragon. Throughout the film the epicness of decapitating, disemboweling or otherwise destroying a dragon is a core component of becoming part of the Hiccups community. As his village is being attacked by dragons, he shoves off with his new invention to net a one. Lo and behold he actually manages to do it, but upon finding the creature he can't bring himself to kill it. The film unfolds as Hiccup realizes the creature is incapable of surviving without his help. All the while he's battling the inner and outer struggles of trying to fit into his Viking society, while sympathizing with the creatures his entire culture is hell bent on destroying.

Hiccups father is one character that had a surprising amount of depth despite his "I HATE DRAGONS," mentality. I feel that perhaps the writers could have expanded more on his attitude for them, but the movie was 2 hours long and had they written it in I'm sure something like that would have been cut for times sake. Additionally, I feel the same way about the movies supporting heroine and Hiccups love interest, Astrid.

This is Astrid. This is her "I'm better than you" face.
This is the face she wears when not angry or determined.

These are her only expressions through most
of the movie.

Astrid is a no-nonsense girl who is hell bent on being the best. We have no reason as to why she's so driven, why she's so angry, or why she's so sickened by Hiccups eventual success. It takes a ride reminiscent of Aladdin's 'I Can Show You the World' (thankfully with no singing), to finally see her expression change to anything but angry, determined or I'm-better-than-you-and-Lady-GaGa-combined cocky confidence. I can't remember her character, though surrounded by Hiccups other training mates, ever actually talking to them beyond giving orders. The character of Astrid honestly seems to be a shining example of LINETS. LINETS is an acronym for:

L - Love
I - Interest
N - Non
E - Essential
T - To
S - Story

And honestly, she has no real purpose aside from being a love interest and dragon kicking goddess. I really wish they would have done more with her because your mind races with the possibilities the film doesn't even acknowledge. In the end she's just there to be something for Hiccup to drool over, and occasionally wield a battle ax in an effort to appear useful to the story line.

Our other characters, include Gobber, Hiccups trainer and town smith, a set of obnoxious twins, an overweight fact vomiting 'D&D' nerd type of character, and a macho brat whose supposed to be Hiccups competition for Astrid. The only one that shines in this line up is Gobber, the smith. He's much like a second father to Hiccup, and teacher for the new batch of dragon-slayer trainees. Much humor comes from his sink or swim mentality to training, and his interactions with Hiccup.

We can't forget the dragon's though, now can we? There are 7 types of dragons (if you count the one in the climax) which are focused on. This is 7 species out of the hundreds that are alluded to in the film. These dragons are awkward looking, made of various combination's of large body mass, spindly legs, flat heads, long tails, raptor like bodies, wings that are either too large or too little, with lots of round shapes covered in spikes. Oh, and they're colorful. REALLY colorful. The character designs are fantastical, as dragons should be. They're fun to watch and can be simultaneously threatening and endearing.

Warning: staring at this too long may cause cute induced seizures.

And then we have this adorable bundle of claws, scales and Chris Sanders cute simply known as Toothless. If you're slightly reminded of Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, that is not a shocker as Toothless was designed by Director and concept artist Chris Sanders. Design wise this is a double edged sword, as the character is instantaneously appealing due to his dangerously cute design; However, he's instantaneously awkward when lined up with our other dragons. I am convinced that this is because Sanders only designed Toothless and through either his own decision or company politics, everything else was left up to in house artists - thus the clash of character design style. His silhouette when flying is exceedingly similar to kites one might see in China or Japan. None of the other dragons are designed with even a similar concept in mind. Toothless is one solid color, his pupils actually dilate, and his Sanders-esque heavy limbed design is seen no where else in the entire film. Some may argue that Toothless' design is simply made this way so he stands out. This argument basically means that the character has to look different from every other dragon because he's the main focus of the plot. On the flip side, some may argue it's just bad design and that Sanders style should have been adapted throughout the entire cast, or that Toothless should have been designed by some one in house.

Toothless definitely has a personality, and it's really interesting to see how the artists got creative with his movements. He goes from sleeping like a bat, to curling up and pouncing like a cat. His flying movements go from bat like to eagle, to something looking like a fighter jet in certain scenes. What I found most intriguing about Toothless were the expressions, and the animators certainly deliver a squee-worthy performance! Thankfully the dragon doesn't talk. In fact he's presented as more than just a 'dumb animal', and yet retains his animal instincts and power. He can be horrifyingly threatening one moment and break your heart with a glance in another. Though the movie Toothless' main conflict seems to be his distrust of humans outside of just Hiccup. Some people may review this movie saying that it's about a 'boy and his dragon' but for me it seems to be more of a 'best friend' type of adventure only Chris Sanders could bring.

In the end How to Train Your Dragon is a good movie. It's fun, has a surprisingly deep storyline, and the visuals are engaging. Kids laughed, adults laughed, and the simple fact that characters do not come out of daring skirmishes without getting hurt is something to be applauded. It's entertaining and though it's got it's flaws, I can see this film being a favorite for years to come. Rest assured grown ups, even you can enjoy this one.

Seriously, this movie is pretty damn awesome. Go see it!

~ Have you seen the film already? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in a comment! ~

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Gonna make this short and sweet as I don't seem to have much time at the present moment.

1. Gemini is awesome! She's doing very well and though she looks a little pitiful with half a pelvis (they took an entire pound off of her), she's adapting wonderfully. She's going to have to go into chemo eventually, but for the time being she's just working on getting better! Kitteh is doing very well!

2. I've taken up the photography bug and it's awesome! I love it! I had my first shoot on the 20th of last month with a model putting her portfolio together! I had a lot of fun (and a lot of help from my friend Maggie). It was an great learning experience. My model, Azure, was patient, pretty and just gave birth to a kid and still manages to be in a size zero. My envy let me show you it.

3. I'm working on the switch to full vegetarian. My only weakness to over come is sushi. Damn it fish! Why do you have to be so awesome wrapped up in seaweed and rice? You're not flowing with my vegetarian jive! I'm working on it - however there's always veggie options like avocado rolls, tamago(egg), tofu and cucumber rolls. Many places also have a veggie roll too - so maybe I'm not so horribly off. Omg, I'm such a fat kid; I'm making myself hungry again.

4. Alan's working on putting his own company together. It's going slow for the time being but I'm pretty sure taking it slow and a step at a time is the right way to go about things like this. So Yay! He's much happier and I'm happier to see him as such.

5. Starting to work out again and I'm seriously getting desperate for a pool. I can't WAIT for summer! Swimming, I am so going to OWN you. Looking forward to also picking up a fin to swim with called a 'monofin'. I had one last year but it was left at the pool overnight and someone swipped it. Lame. So I'm getting a new one this year, probably the larger fin (for males) as I have huge feet that barely fit into the 'female' version. Normal ladies apparently aren't size 9 1/2.

6. Married life's great and Alan's amazing.

Cheers for now!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vaccinations, Vets, and Amputations

About two weeks ago I noticed something strange with my cat Gemini. She had a lump on her leg. It was about the size of a walnut, and very hard. It almost seemed like an extra joint. I assumed that something might have happened to a joint, and that her body caused a swelling around it. So we headed to the vet. Gemini was very scared but very good. She didn't scratch, bite, hiss or growl. She did stress shed though.

The vet told us when she looked her over that Gemini had something called fibrosarcoma. Fibrosarcoma is a cancerous tumor that can develop in felines, under or around skin and other fiborous tissues within the body such as tendons. In some cases, as with Gemini, it can be caused by vaccinations of varying types. You can find more information about Vaccine-Associated feline sarcoma here.

We never noticed the tumor growing, because it took a pattern around her leg wrapping itself flush against the muscle. These types of tumors can slowly grow for years without detection, and then suddenly flare up without warning. We had no idea and I feel so guilty about it.

The solution to the problem is amputaion.

Our vet at NorthSprings Animal Hospital said they'd take care of it, but upon the sugeron coming in and the two looking it over again together, they decided that they just didn't feel comfortable doing it. The problem being that Gemini is a terribly petite cat, and in being so they're worried about removing the leg and not having enough muscle tissue avaliable to cover the then exposed pelvis. The only option from there is to remove a chunk of her pelvis in addition to her leg.

She goes in tomorrow, and to be honest, I'm kind of terrified I won't see her again. The doctor we're taking her to is a board certified endocrinologist, and has done this kind of thing many times. I shouln't be worried, but I am. In the long run I think it's just me feeling scared for Gemini. I'm hoping in pulling off this surgury that she'll power through the discomfort of post surgery and continue to thrive, as the vets have reassured me she will.

So, here's to you Gemini. We'll miss your leg, but to be honest we'd rather loose 1/5th of you than all of you my sweet kitty. I love you.