Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Not even entertaining the idea of buying a pre-made costume, those creative wheels in my head came up with what I think is a pretty awesome costume idea, and my craftiness really shone through! Though my sister's costume didn't win the contest (if you ask me, it's solely because those voting lack taste), I am still proud of the work I did in putting it together.
My sister was Braveheart, aka William Wallace. That Scottish martyr who screamed "FREEDOOOOOOOOOOM!" and kicked English butt. I am sorry to say I am unable to post any pictures, because I am sans camera right now, but as soon as some of my sister's co-workers who did take pictures send out pictures, I will post them so you can see my work.
Anyway, I don't sew, but I was able to whip up a pretty cool, and incredibly easy to make costume. The only challenge was time, and finding a sword. But as you will find by reading on, I was able to overcome these challenges and obstacles and came out with something quite awesome. Again, my sister didn't win, but until I have pictures to prove it, I swear to you that my sister was the clear winner.
The first thing I did was go to my local Joanne Fabrics store, and found a plaid fabric. I had no idea how much of it I needed, but that's what those ladies behind the counter are there for! We needed about 4.5 yards for a piece that would be a wrap-around skirt, and come up to drape over one shoulder. Next, we needed something resembling brown leather for a sword sheath and a forearm band. And finally, a silver medieval sword. For the leather, I struck gold at Walmart, where I found fake leather that looked real and worn. Again, being that I don't sew, I had no idea how much I needed, and the lady who cut the fabric for me gave me only 1/2 yard to cover the armband, as well as the sword sheath.
The sword was a challenge, as I was doing all of this on the morning of October 30, while trying to get some other shopping done. Stores were low on Halloween supplies, especially swords. Aside from pirate cutlasses and daggers, there wasn't much in the way of medieval weaponry. I went to Party America, Walmart and Target, and couldn't find any swords.
The idea of making a sword myself came to me when I was too tired to try anywhere else and was running low on time. Home Depot was my next stop. Of course, I went in blind with absolutely no clue where to even begin. At customer service I got a couple "are you crazy?" looks when I explained that I wanted to make a sword, but I was too desperate to give up on the idea. I really wanted this costume to be complete with such essential details! Foam was the answer. A foam board for just a little over $3 plus silver spray paint, and voila! I had the materials for making a sword.
As I mentioned earlier, I can't sew, and naturally, a lot of unorthodox tailoring took place. I used a safety pin as a closure for the skirt, and my Dad's brown leather belt for genuine detail, as well as holding up the skirt. I also used a safety-pin as a closure for the sword sheath, which was worn over the opposite shoulder from the skirt's fabric and across the chest. Underneath, my sister just wore a pair of dark leggings with a pair of boots, and a wheat-colored long-sleeved cotton t-shirt. The truly unorthodox tailoring took place with the armband. I could not find any adhesive-backed velcro, but did find velcro you can sew, or glue on. I did neither of those things, and instead just stapled the velcro on the piece of leather fabric and it worked out great, as it was easy to adjust and put on and take off.
For the sword, I simply drew the shape of a sword over the foam, and with an exacto and kitchen knife cut it out. Next, I laid out some newspapers on the porch and sprayed away with a shiny silver tone. As an added touch and detail, I wrapped the handle of the sword with the imitation-leather fabric using a wide rubber-band.
Finally, for the hair, we pulled part of my sister's hair back, and made two tiny braids at each temple, and voila! My sister was transformed into Braveheart.
Though my sister didn't win, I am still proud of my work. As soon as pictures surface, I will post them for everyone to see! In the meantime, hope you all had a fun Halloween and creative costumes!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
But my biggest gastronomic achievement so far has been ratatouille. I chopped, I sauteed and I served. It was all done from scratch, right down to the peeled, diced tomatoes that the recipe called for. It's an easy dish, but the fact that I did it all by myself from scratch is the part that makes me feel proud.
The internet has been my best friend through these rough times without my mother's delicious, nutritious and healthy cooking. There is a wealth of recipes out there that are easy, but are more than just throwing frozen veggies in a wok with chicken. My next project is going to be a simple dish of Greek or Italian olives baked with fresh rosemary and basil.
If I continue with this hobby and learn all there is to know, I will expand my writing horizons, and could become a food writer.
My ultimate motto is: Everything for the writing life!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Walmart is taking baby steps to being green, and though tiny, I like it a lot. Recycled Reusable bags from Walmart are now available for $1, and I gladly bought one today. They're black and simple with "Paper or Plastic? Neither" printed in a simple and clean font. They are very roomy-- they can hold enough stuff to fill up to 3 plastic bags-- and are durable. Not to mention that they are made out of recycled plastic soda bottles!
I'm not a tree hugger, and I don't think you have to be labeled as that to create a green microcosm for yourself. I express my concern by doing little green things here and there whenever I can, if nothing else, then to just reduce my footprint on the environment. Walmart's tote is a tiny effort, but saving up to 3 plastic bags is a lot of help when you multiply it by the amount of Walmart shoppers out there.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I haven't written since I got back, because I've been busy and quite frankly, not in the mood. I also just noticed that the last post is dated as Oct. 14, when really it was Oct. 18. I don't know why blogger does this when I use the laptop, but this isn't the first time, and it's really annoying. I meant to fix it, but it's too late now.
As for the rest of our stay in Mexico, it was nice. We spent the rest of the time in Guadalajara, shopping and sight-seeing. We also made a mini day trip to Lake Chapala a few hours before our flight was to take off to Denver, and it was nice. On Sundays, apparently, the place is packed with vendors and people enjoying the atmosphere of a lake town. I enjoyed it, and it truly made it harder to leave Mexico to see people so happy just simply hanging out as families.
The flight back to Denver was very bumpy most of the way. In fact, it was so bumpy and turbulent because of the weather in Colorado that I had to reach for one of those bags. Luckily, it was a false alarm, but I did feel sick all the same. We had no problems with customs or anything like that and we made it to the baggage carousel easily. My best friend in the whole wide world, Tracy, picked me and my sister up from the airport and brought us home. Life has been quiet around here, but it's a nice break from the usual house full of noisy people.
I am now on a search for Spanish courses, and looking forward to further visits to Mexico with a good grip on the language up my sleeve!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Here is a quick run-down of events from the last few days:
Tuesday, Day 4: We went to the dentist, and the Doc saw me. It was a good thing he did, because it turned out that I had three cavities, two of which were big ones-- so I got those taken care of. And for the first time in my life, I experienced dental drilling sans novocain. Of course, the doc told me to raise my hand if I experienced any pain, and I did, so he gave me novocain to finish the job. Since he worked on three teeth, it obviously meant that I got three novocain shots that left me sounding like someone with a gigantic speech impediment. As soon as we left the dentist's office, we began our journey to Mexico City, something I'd been looking forward to since I found out that I would be going to Mexico. We made it to Mexico City in the early evening, around 8:30 PM, and I fell in love with it even more than I already had the last time I was there. We sat through heavy, stop and go traffic, but found the Tulip Inn Ritz fairly easily. We even got the same room my Dad and I stayed in last time!
Wednesday, Day 4: We had breakfast at a cute little cafe right across the street from our hotel. We had eggs and a plate of fruit. Coffee in Mexico is interesting. There is Cafe con leche, which is really milk with a tiny bit of coffee served in a glass... that's right, a glass. Then there's regular cafe Americano. And then there's actual Mexican coffee, which I must say is not my favorite, as it is overly sweet and has a different flavor I can't put my finger on.
After breakfast, we were disappointed to find tents covering the Zocalo square for a book fair/festival, eliminating our chances of seeing what we saw last time we were in Mexico City. There were no Aztec priests, or people selling their handicrafts or children flying kites in the square. Just white tents upon white tents filled with books in Spanish. We didn't spend much time in the Zocalo and headed straight to where one catches the double-decker tour bus for Mexico City. While waiting for the bus, we met a music group of two girls and one boy from Chile. They apparently had won some MTV music award and were in Mexico City to receive it that evening. I don't know who they are, but we did take a picture with them. I will do some research when I get back to Denver about them and see who they are, but in the meantime, the pic is below.
Also while waiting for the tourist bus to arrive, we saw this dog sleeping in the sun. At first, we were worried and thought he might be sick, but a woman working for the tour bus company assured us that he was fine, and that it was a habit of his to sleep in the sun and not in the shade. We watched him while we waited, and sure enough, he started rolling around on his back and then got up and left. He was so awfully cute!
We enjoyed a tour around Mexico City and I was a very happy camper. People were waving at the tour bus, and made everyone feel welcome in the gorgeous city... I love this city so much, I could never express it fully, but I digress. We stopped in Condessa, a bohemian type of neighborhood with restaurants and shops my Dad and I had lunch in last time we went on the same bus tour. We had lunch at the same restaurant my Dad and I ate at in Condessa last time, called La Morena, an oyster bar that serves a killer dish of fish among other delicious dishes on the menu. It was pretty cool, because the host remembered me and my Dad from last time and even remembered what we'd ordered! After we were done eating, we caught the tour bus again and went back to the area close to our hotel and walked around. We went into Sears, which is in a ten-story building! Nine stories of the building is occupied by departments customers can shop at! There is even a cafe on the eighth floor where you can sit outside and overlook Mexico City in all its grandeur and beauty. The merchandise was different, the prices were different and the feel was different. It was a Mexican style Sears and it was spectacular!
After that, Dad went to the hotel and my sister and I walked around the city streets, looking at the merchandise being sold by street vendors. Anything you can think of is sold on Mexico City's streets. You can even find porno videos for sale there! After we had our fill of shopping the street vendors and the many trendy clothing shops along Madero, the street our hotel is on, we went to the same cafe we had breakfast at and had some fruit and coffee. It was a fun day, and we went back to the hotel and pretty much dropped dead to sleep.
Today, Thursday, Day 5: The last morning in Mexico City :( I was very upset that we had to go back to Guadalajara today, but we made the most of our morning by taking a taxi to the poshest neighborhood in Mexico City. Plaza Masarik is an area of the city where luxurious boutiques can be found. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli, Chanel... all of these and more can be found in Plaza Masarik. We walked along the area and then had our first experience using the bus system in Mexico City. Buses in Mexico City come in different shapes and sizes, and the system we used was the one featuring the smaller, microbuses. It was fun to experience something residents of the city experience in their everyday lives. We took the bus and went to Liverpool, a department store reminiscent of Macy's, then we took another bus to Chapultepec, where we walked around, took a few pics and bought a few things from the street vendors. We got a special treat, as we saw about three formations of running Mexican military soldiers, running and chanting their manly military deals along the Chapultepec area. It was muy caliente! ;) After that, we went back to the hotel to check out and leave the beautiful city of Mexico. I was protesting the parting up until the last minute when no traces of the city could be seen. It must've been the day for the Mexican military, because we saw a few cars on the way to Guadalajara filled with armed soldiers in uniform.
Back in Guadalajara, we had dinner and went back to the El Tapatio Hotel. I am very tired and very ready to go to sleep. It's nice to have internet connection, especially in the room. We only have until Sunday to complete this Mexican adventure, and I intend to make the most of it.
In the meantime, hasta luego amigos!
You see, part of why my father made Mexico a place to visit was for dental care, which is much cheaper on this side of the border. To make a long story very short, while we're here, we all figured we'd get our dental care taken care of, and so, our appointment(s) were scheduled for today. The problem is that it turned out that one of the dentists could not keep the appointment for a personal reason, and could not get a hold of us to tell us so. It was an interesting day of rescheduling appointments, finding the actual offices we had to be at, and so on and so forth.
And now, for the fun part. While at another dentist's office, we met an actual singer in the waiting room. Her name was Kristy and she gave us a CD each of her latest work. She is local and does cover songs in Salsa, Cumbia and Tropical music, but nonetheless, she's made 10 CD's throughout her 15-year singing career. We also met her husband, who is also a singer, though I'm not sure what his name is or if he's solo, or just part of a hidden band for his wife. Both individuals were charming and spoke English, and tried to convince us to move to Guadalajara. I really wish I could take them up on this offer soon, but who knows? Stranger things have happened!
Also today is the day I finally got a pair of shoes at the infamous Galleria de Calzado, a mall dedicated to shoes that people rave about left and right. I didn't go in last time I was in Guadalajara with my Dad, don't ask why, but I went in today and got a gorgeous pair of black patent-leather, sling-back, peep-toe heels. I cannot wait to get back to Denver and wear these beauts! Check 'em out!
We also had lunch at the Mercado de Libertad food court. We had delicious barbecued beef strips, served with fresh avocado and vegetables and beans. The interesting part is that the food court is huge, but we happened to find the one counter named El Tapatio... same as our hotel! I guess it's not so weird, since Guadalajarans call themselves Tapatios, but still! How weird is that?
After that, we had a second round of appointments to make with dentist(s) and by the time that stuff was done with, we came back to the hotel, and here I am writing about everything.
I'm happy to report that my Spanish is getting better and better, though I still don't have a tight enough grip to have an intelligent conversation. I am kickin' some butt relatively speaking in Spanish, and I am convinced that Spanish is the language I will be focusing on learning for the time-being, as I wanna come back to this great country over and over again. Who knows? Maybe I'll take Kristy's advice and move here! That would be muy brilliant!
My sister and I striking a pose for my Dad as we get ready for take-off. Our flight was interesting, as one of the flight attendants was perhaps the funniest man alive. He made us actually pay attention to the stupid instructions I usually ignore. He did the announcements, and asked us to turn our attention to his "new boyfriend" doing the demonstrations. He pointed out that the oxygen masks "are not party hats," and dictated us how to use the masks as soon as we stop "crying like a little girl." He made numerous other absolutely hilarious jokes that I can't remember now... but it was a fun and smooth sail to Guadalajara.
Day 2 Started out perfect. Before heading off to breakfast, we snapped a few pics. I think this is a great pic of me and my sister. The view from El Tapatio Hotel also adds to the coolness of this pic!
After breakfast, we saw this guy selling his handicrafts of silver jewelry in the hotel courtyard. My Dad and I bought a few pieces from him last time we were in Guadalajara and he actually remembered us. We bought more stuff and took a picture of him as he's a really cool guy.
El Tapatio Hotel has everything a hotel should have, including an awesome pool. This is just a picture that expresses my happiness for being in Mexico and staying in such a cool hotel! Of course, the soccer players behind me might've also had something to do with the huge grin on my face.
Walking around the Mercado de Libertad got us thirsty, so we bought ourselves Coca Cola served the way God intended... in glass bottles. The food court at the Mercado de Libertad is huge and filled with eateries that serve all kinds of Mexican specialties ranging from seafood to unique juice drinks.
I don't know if this is supposed to be a no-brainer, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Tim Burton was heavily influenced by Mexican art when he made his movies. This is one of a number of benches scattered in this square downtown. They're quirky, whimsical, and appear to be a specialty of Mexico.
So, that's all folks! (for now, anyway) As I said, I will try to keep up on the blog thing, but I may end up without easy internet access like now that will prevent me from being able to even check email, little else upload pics and spend time writing. In the meantime, I will continue to have an awesome time in an awesome country! Hasta luego amigos!
The usual suspects are here, i.e., me and my Dad, but a new addition has been made; my sister. My sister is finally taking a vacation from work, and she's spending it in Mexico.
I must say, the second time around has been a lot more enjoyable, because the first time here was nerve-racking, what with me going on a trip with just my Dad for the first time in my life, and it being a foreign place that speaks a language I don't really have a grip on. But this time around, I am a lot more comfortable with my surroundings and the language is coming a little more smoothly than last time on its own. Also, my sister being here to relieve the stress of dealing with my Dad on my own is really helping me loosen up and enjoy Mexico a lot more.
Day 1 We arrived yesterday in Guadalajara, rented a Volkswagen and headed to El Tapatio Hotel. After we dropped off our luggage and freshened up a bit, we went to the Centro Historico and walked around. It was a pretty easy-going evening that was a perfect introduction to the highlights of Guadalajara's Centro Historico for my sister. Though we'd bought a barbecued chicken from an eatery on the side of the road before we headed downtown, we were awfully hungry for a full meal by the time we were done walking around downtown. We went to Pomodoro, an italian restaurant my Dad and I ate at last time we were here. The funny thing is that we went to Pomodoro the first night in Guadalajara last time we were here, too. I guess it's now an unintentional tradition to have Italian at Pomodoro the first night in Guadalajara!
Day 2 was a lot of fun. We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and got treated to things my Dad and I didn't experience our last stay at El Tapatio Hotel. Since it was Sunday, the hotel restaurant was quite busy with people staying at the hotel, as well as those who live in Guadalajara, but come to El Tapatio for their popular Sunday brunch. There was a Mariachi band playing for the diners, and people were all decked out in their best clothes. It was a nice breakfast, but the best part was when a team of young soccer players started spilling in for their breakfast... that was an early morning dessert for me, I must say. Grrrrrrrrrrrrowwwwwwwwwlllllll!!!!
After breakfast, we headed to the Centro Historico and introduced my sister to the infamous Mercado de Libertad. We spent much time there, looking at the endless merchandise there, but didn't buy anything aside from three sodas at the food court to quench our flirtatious thirst. After that, we walked around the Centro Historico some more, visiting areas we hadn't visited the night before... some that my Dad and I hadn't visited last time we were here. We snapped a few pics and shot a few videos, which I plan to upload in the near future.
After a long day of walking and sight-seeing in Guadalajara's hub of fun, we came back to the hotel and had some delicious barbecued chicken right in our hotel room, that we purchased from the same guy we bought our chicken from the night before. It was muy delicioso! We are now all beat and tired, and just hanging out in our hotel room. It's been nice, as I got a chance to add a posting to my blog, which I neglected last time and regretted it. Nothing beats recording the events as they happen, and I will try my hardest to keep on that this time around.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Well, today is the time to pay attention to this minor detail, because guess what? The tagline running for today, October 9, 2007, is mine! Look at the top left-hand corner of the page at intrepidmedia.com and you will find the tagline "Always in your face at the checkout line."
So, how did this little feat of mine come about?
A couple weeks ago, I participated in a thread on Intrepid Media's message board, and wrote "I don't wanna be like Brangelina... always in your face at the checkout line." A fellow Intrepider loved the line and suggested it as a tagline, and voila! I've had a tagline published! Of course, they don't give me credit for it without me calling attention to it, but I'm still proud all the same. It's these little things that make me smile while I try for bigger accomplishments.
As for new columns, none right now. But if you haven't been keeping up with old ones *ahem*, they're new to you. And so... you have a tagline and a column or two written by yours truly to read in your spare time.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Looks like I'm gonna be doing more reading than writing for a while.
You see, the more I read about freelancing and writing in general, the more I find that I need to read even more. There is a lot of reading involved in knowing the ropes as a freelance writer.
The reading involved in order to know everything I need to know about being a professional freelance writer is quite expansive.
I need to read every publication I might be interested in submitting work for cover to cover, in order to get a feel of its tone and what articles would work for its audience. I also need to read books related to freelancing, along with other writing resources to keep up on the trends and innovations in this field. And obviously, if I'm going to review books I will need to read the books I will eventually review. It's a never-ending list of reading!
Though I truly believe that nothing good happens quickly, sans luck of course, I am wanting things to start shaping up soon for me. All this waiting and reading is getting me so excited for something big to happen, I can hardly concentrate on anything I'm reading!
Paul Potts is a British cellphone salesman, hailing from South Wales. Paul recently hit it big as an opera singer on a British talent show dubbed Britain's Got Talent. I've never watched the show, and in fact had no idea it even existed until I was shown the clips I've embedded below by my father.
The piece Paul sings in the first clip is that of "Nessun Dorma!" from Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. I am a big fan of opera, particularly Giacomo Puccini's work and especially Paul's choice to wow the judges and audience on the show. "Nessun Dorma!" is an aria from Turandot that gives me goosebumps each time I hear it. Even before I knew what it was about, I felt it and fell in love with it, and think you will too.
This next clip is the performance Paul gave to get to the final competition in the show. In this, he sings "It's time to say goodbye." I've only heard one version of this song before, sung as a duet by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. Though it's beautiful the way Sarah and Andrea sing it, Paul gives it quite a bit of justice singing it on his own.
And finally, Paul won fair and square. I don't know about the competition, as I've only seen these clips from the show, but I'm pretty sure that Paul rocked and deserved to win. With Luciano Pavarotti's sad departure, it's nice to know that there are still those who have a passion that comes out vocally, and beautifully.
As I said, I'm a fan of opera, but I imagine that even if you're not, you are blown away by that amazingly beautiful voice. I guess he won't be needing that job selling cellphones anymore, eh?