Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Front Re-Do

In comparison, the backyard was a breeze compared to the challenges of our front yard. How do you landscape around a bright yellow fire hydrant, a "snout" house and a stone wall with ugly cobblestones?

Move in 2001.

2003: First, you remove the grass and the tree around the hydrant and throw in a bunch of distracting plants.

2004: Then you take everything out and replant with larger, more distracting plants and mini trees. (No, the clouds and sky are not photoshopped).

2010: New paint color and trim. The plants have finally filled out and we added some large rocks. Could be that I'm just used to it now but the hydrant looks less noticeable.

The bulk (90%) of the work was done by James, who is strong and patient. It's taken 8 years but I finally like how my house looks.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Two In One Day!

Crazy huh? I love having Monday's off. This allows me to catch up on almost everything. So far, I've tidied up the living room, made a vat of vegetarian curry for James and downloaded photos from the last few days.

Here's a wide-angle shot comparison of my old canon lens (18-35mm) and my new one.

18-35mm: The shot was cut off at the right, red chair. So, you can't see the hallway next to the family room and the doorway to the powder room.

15-85mm: The photo opens up a lot more. Although the left margins have stayed the same, the whole right side of the room now appears in the shot. You can see the large archway to the hallway. And a lot more ceiling is visible. I also finally got rid of the red chair (see my Craigslist post!).

Simple As Point And...

Since James bought me my first DSLR a few years ago, I've been dabbling in photography. Self-teaching things like f-stop, aperture, lighting etc. I've come to the conclusion that my teacher sucks.

We went to the Japanese Gardens during a glorious, sunny spring day. With my new canon lens in tow, I was confident that amazing photos awaited. But while sunny days may be perfect for a walks through botanical gardens, they make photo taking extremely challenging.

Out of several hundred photos, only a handful were presentable. Even then, over exposure and lighting still played a role. Photography also takes a lot of patience (which is not my strong point); I waited over 15 minutes for this bridge to clear out and had just a few seconds to shoot.

That tree in the upper middle right was a lovely pale pink, not that washed out white. And yes, I have Adobe Photoshop so I work with the raw images to make modifications. At least they weren't as bright and washed out as our trip to the Chinese Gardens.

And what's a Japanese Garden without koi? These fish were huge with gigantic eyes that freaked me out. I do love how close I can zoom in now.

I think I'm going to take a few classes and stop relying so much on auto focus. Time to fire my current teacher and get someone who knows what they're doing!

One more thing, my new camera bag arrived. I love it but it has one major drawback. Because it's girlie and pretty, James is reluctant to carry it around for me. Hmmm.

Get the flash player here:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jus De Steven Seagal

[ed. Back in 2006, I deleted almost 3 years worth of blog posts. It was a criminally stupid act and I wish I had at least backed them up but alas... Anyways, one of the more memorable posts was about the oh-so-incredible Jus De Steven Seagal.]

You think I'm kidding right? Fortunately for you and the 50 counties where Steven's juice is available, I am not.

Wow. I am getting excited and thirsty just writing this post!
Here's what they have to say about Steven Seagal's Juice:

Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt energy drinks are as unique as the man who created it. It has pioneered the way for nutritional, all natural energy drinks and emerged as many "firsts":

100% Juice and Herbal Energy
All Natural - No Preservatives
Offered in multiple flavors
Not a significant source of Vitamin A, C, Calcium, Iron, or dietary fiber.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

BBQ Season

BBQ season is upon us. My neighborhood smells fantastic in the evening. Mmmmm. Even Stormtroopers are getting in on the action. Bonus points to anyone who can properly identify the different versions.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Craigslist 101 Part 2

Spring is here. Which means the cleaning/organizing bug is back. Which means I'm back on Craigslist. I used to be rather leery but have long since considered it one of the most convenient resources at my disposal.

Personally, I've had nothing but positive experiences with Craigslist. Almost every item I've posted has sold and within a few days... to polite and punctual people. I know. Knock on wood.

I created a Craigslist 101 primer back in 2008 when I first started using the site. Here now is a followup.

1. Post a picture ... using Flickr or Photobucket. Photos are important. Craigslist offers their own awful photo uploading service but I would strongly recommend that using a free service and copy/pasting the link into your post. Also, make sure the Flickr/Photobucket account isn't your personal one. Create an account specifically for this process, especially if you are selling more than one item.

Example: here's an ad of a chair I sold on Craigslist. The photos I used were exactly the same but this is how it looked using the Craigslist photo option.

Here's the same ad with the Flickr image embedded.

Huge difference, right? And it just takes an additional 2 minutes at the most. Note the [Insert RIGHT number]? For the first 2 weeks, I had the wrong phone number listed on this ad. Smart! After I made the correction, I sold the chair within 24 hours with no haggling.

2. Be honest. If the item is flawed or marred in some way, mention it. My chair had knicks all along the wood arms so I zoomed in and took a photo.

3. No crazy/drunk/stoned people please. I won't arrange to have anyone over if they're not coherent over the phone or legible by email/text. And I am extremely suspicious of everyone.

4. Appointments are for buyers only. I don't have the time or patience to put up with people who want to "look" at the item before they commit to buying.

5. Unless the item is very heavy (or in the garage), I'll have it waiting in the front entry. I don't want people trekking all over my house and I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

6. Delete your post as soon as you sell the item. Unless you enjoy phone calls at 11:45 pm because apparently that's an appropriate time to contact someone about the financial calculator they saw online.

7. If you're trying to sell small, one off items, like a CD or a hardcover book, you won't have a lot of luck on Craigslist. Few people are willing to drive all over the city for such a small gain. However, people are definitely willing to drive to buy boxes of books, CDs, vases, shirt hangers or whatever.

8. Cash. Cash. Cash. Cash only. And despite appearing gauche, I recommend counting the money.

9. Safety first! I make sure James is with me for any scheduled pickups. He's usually in the background but pops around the corner to say hello which translate to "I am a man. She is not alone and I am watching you." If you don't have a James handy, ask a friend or neighbor. Or at least let someone know that you have strangers coming by at a specific time. I thought about having a bat nearby but realized it wouldn't be conducive to a sale.

10. I will accept a 10% commission fee on all of your future Craigslist sales. Thank you!