Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day late, dollar(s) short

Oops, looks like we (I) missed the deadline for submitting a photo to the Regis and Kelly beautiful baby search. I was waiting until I had a great photo of Conner and Lizzie, walking hand in hand, looking at the camera, and both sporting a huge smile to submit. Seems like such a small request! But, my wish for that sweet photo never happened so I decided to submit a photo of each of them individually and just pray that if one was chosen then they would have a twin clause which would allow both of them to win the prize. When I finally got the pictures to submit I found out that the deadline had passed so we'll have to wait another year before we get to meet Regis and scary arms Kelly. Anyways, here are the photos that would have blown the judges away:I actually would have submitted the photo of Lizzie from this post but thought that it would have been boring to post the same picture twice. So instead here's a picture of Lizzie's magnum look.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Adventures in photography-playing with Photoshop

I have been steadily taking more pictures with my new camera and playing with all the settings. I think I have finally figured out a few things which should help me take better pictures but I still have a long ways to go. I started a 3 week class on Tuesday designed to introduce Photoshop Elements. So I went to the first class really excited about all the cool things that I was going to learn how to do with photos. Well, I forgot that in these introductory type classes the teacher really does start at the beginning. In this case, we spent 2 hours learning how to import photos and organize them, ugh! I guess it was good though because I am not one who organizes any of her photos and this class did inspire me to take some time and create some sort of order in my ever growing collection of photos. This week we are actually supposed to start editing photos so I hope to take away some cool tricks. In the meantime I have started to mess around with actions in Photoshop and using tutorials on the internet. I have found a really great site for free actions and good tutorials if any of you are interested- Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mi casa es su casa- extravagant base for a sand box

It's cold, wet, and dreary here- a stark departure from the sunny 60 degree weather of earlier this week. Sigh, such is the weather. I'm really nearing the end of my patience with winter- time for spring already! Thinking about warmer weather made me remember the sweat pouring down my forehead as I put in a patio last summer. Only this wasn't really supposed to ever be a patio because laying a true patio would mean measuring, leveling, and hauling lots of dirt around- and I wasn't about to take on that size of project. Instead I thought, wouldn't it be nice to lay some pavers down so we could put a sandbox and swimming pool in the backyard without killing all the grass that lies beneath. And so began the project. What was first a small landing of pavers at the bottom of the stairs (purely for decoration) became a large, extravagant base for play equipment. I lost count but I know that we put down at least 400 pavers! I just hope that when we are selling our house someone comes along and thinks just like me, and appreciates having such a fancy pad for their plastic swimming pool.

The initial paver landing (and Daisie)
Expanding the landing to accomodate the pool and sand box

The finished product

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Part of your world

Lizzie was a little under the weather today. She spent a good part of last night up coughing so we decided to let her stay home today and catch up on some sleep. Luckily we received The Little Mermaid in the mail yesterday. So this morning we watched it and I am sure that I enjoyed it way more than her. I seriously love that movie and can't get "Part of your World" out of my head! And I'm pretty sure that I am back in love with Prince Eric.

Spending some quality time with mom and Prince Eric

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mi casa es su casa- front door

If any of you know me then you probably are aware that I love home improvement projects. Well, I should clarify, I love home improvement projects that don't involve power tools or measuring. So that pretty much leaves painting. And boy, do I love to paint. Just ask my husband, he'll attest to my insane desire to paint every room of our house at least once, if not twice. Maybe its the fumes, maybe its the instant transformation that occurs when you change the color of the room, or maybe its the summer I spent painting dorm rooms the most bleak shade of white imaginable. Whatever is behind the motivation, I'm down with it. So I thought I would share with y'all some of the home improvement projects that we have undertaken in our home. We've been living in our current home for a little over two years and have painted every room in the house (9 rooms, three rooms have been painted twice). In fact, when we moved in I was about 5 months pregnant and the size of a large whale but I insisted that we paint most of the house before we even began to move furniture in. So, in a span of 3 days, Chris and the pregnant whale painted 5 rooms. Yes, probably not the best thing to do when you've got buns in the oven but I'm pretty sure a lot of our parents inhaled things worse than paint fumes when we were in gestation!

And so, here's the first in what I am going to call Mi Casa es Su Casa. And little glimpse into our home and some of the changes we've made, for the good and possibly for the bad. We'll start on the outside and move in. Up first is the front porch of our house. A great thing about living in the South is that front porches are almost as standard as tornado shelters are in the Midwest. And if you've got a front porch then you better have some rocking chairs (and ferns in the summer). The front porch of our house was definitely one of its selling points along with the dreams of sipping wine on rocking chairs every night during the summer. Another thing, I totally have a thing for white houses with black shutters and a red door. So when we bought our house it already fulfilled two of my desires, it was white with black shutters. Just one problem, it had a black door. Easy enough, just needed to paint it red. Yep, just that easy- 6 coats of paint (and this was the paint with primer in it!) later I had a red door.

Old door

Now, a bit more fun
Beer, wine, and baby bottles- a classic front porch combo
Conner and Lizzie enjoying some front porch rockin'

Monday, January 18, 2010

Adventures in photography-the beginning

It's finally here, I can finally share with y'all! A few weeks ago I ordered a new fancy camera and I have been anxiously awaiting its arrival. Well, it arrived early this week and I have been taking pictures like crazy. It is definitely something new to get used to and I am going to be taking a class starting in February but I wanted to share some of my beginner photos with you. Hopefully I'll show some improvement as time goes along and we can all look back at these photos and see how far I've come. For the sake of brevity I am going to post some pictures of the kids but if you are interested in seeing > 100 pictures of the dogs, just let me know. Daisie and Sydney served as my first subjects seeing as my original subjects (ahem, Conner and Elizabeth) didn't want to sit still for any photos.

So I'll begin a new series of blogs under the heading of Adventures in Photography. These pictures were taken at Old Salem ( this past Saturday. My camera is the Canon Rebel T1i and I shot these pictures with a Canon EF-S 55-250mm 1.4-5.6 IS lens (yep, have no clue what any of that stuff means either). This lens took some getting used to and I realized when I got home that quite a few of my pictures weren't as crisp as I would like, especially the ones where I was at maximum zoom. But, it was a start and it was actually a lot of fun. The kids had full run of a city block that only had fences on the sides to hold them in.
And some of you may recognize this location as the backdrop for our 2008 Christmas card.
*Of note, just realized that my lens was on manual focus instead of auto focus that day, partially explaining the less than crisp shots. Shoot! Lesson #1, check your lens settings before you start taking pictures.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Adventures in cooking- chipotle honey lime vinaigrette

Had to share the recipe for some delicious dressing I just made. If you have never made your own dressing before, well then you are in for a treat and you will probably never want store-bought dressing again! Dressing is really easy to make at home and there are so many endless possibilities to make. Lately I've totally been hooked on this tahini dressing ( but tonight I was in the mood for something a bit more spicy. I made this dressing in hopes of recreating the chipotle honey lime dressing that they serve at Chipotle. I crave that dressing so I thought instead of spending $6 for a salad (just to relish in the dressing), why not make it at home. So I gave it a try and it turned out really well. All measurements are really just guesses because I didn't measure anything.

Chipotle lime honey vinaigrette
2 chipotle peppers (you can get these in a can usually with adobe sauce)
1 lime
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup oil of some sort (I used vegetable, I just wouldn't recommend olive oil)
2 Tbsp. honey (?- I am really not sure how much I used but adjust to your preferred sweetness)
some salt

Place the chipotle peppers, juice from one lime, vinegar, honey, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until peppers are all mixed up. Slowly pour the oil into the food processor while it is still running until you have a creamy bowl of goodness. Make yourself a salad with some avocado, black beans, pumpkin seeds, and some queso fresco if you're lucky enough to have some in the house and top with the dressing. So good!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fun in the snow

Okay, I promise, last post about all the snow we had in Nebraska. I mean, for all of you readers who live in these crazy cold snowy climates, you must think I am nuts for going all ga ga over the snow. I think I was excited for the snow because Conner and Elizabeth haven't gotten a real chance to play in snow. It did snow an enormous amount (6 inches!) in North Carolina before we left for Christmas, but the snow formed a hard icy cover and the kids had a really hard time walking in the snow. So we took advantage of the large hills of snow and open fields and took the kids out for some sledding and snow ball fights. It was so much fun and the experience of being pulled by a tractor through a field while on a toboggan was one of those moments that made me wish I spent more time country living while I was growing up.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

White Christmas

When we finally awoke from our long winter's nap, Chris and I looked out the window and realized, holy crap, we aren't leaving the house for a LONG time! Sometime during the wee hours of Christmas Eve, the wind picked up and left behind a winter wonderland. There was a drift at the back of my mom's house that was at least 10 feet tall. This isn't the first time I have experienced snow like this, but it's been such a long time since my last memories of a blizzard in which I lost my snow boot in a drift and it wasn't recovered until late spring when all of the snow finally melted. Luckily this time we kept the kids in for a few days or else we probably would have lost one of them in the drifts! Alright, I digress.

Christmas day: We all woke up fairly early and ran to see what Santa had left in our stockings. Oh wait, that's right, no stockings this year. Conner and Lizzie were excited to open their gifts though I must confess that I forgot to even explain the whole Santa myth to them this year. And I neglected to take them on the obligatory trip to sit on Santa's lap at the mall. Maybe its just me, but all those Santas at the mall are such poor impersonations of the Santa in my head and they all smell like beef and cheese. And, I really hate standing in long lines. So the kids opened presents, played with more than the boxes that the items came in, and we all kept a close eye on when the snowplow might come through and give us the opportunity to leave the house. It was a white Christmas, it was a cold Christmas, but most of all, it was a Christmas spent with those that I love!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The night before Christmas

Happy 2010 loyal blog readers! I know, I know- it's been forever since I've posted! And believe me, I've been anxious to share with all of you our adventures from Christmas but today is the first day that I've had my camera back since we went to Nebraska. You see, it's always a good idea to check the house before you leave for the airport lest you leave behind a bag that contains your camera, toothbrush, and most importantly, Conner's snugs. Our Christmas was especially wonderful this year, probably due to two innocent children to share it with and an abundance of snow to make it truly feel like Christmas. And since I've slacked on the blog lately, I'm going to write not one, not two, but three blogs (I think) all about our Christmas trip! I hope this makes you feel as though you were right there with the Hatzi since we would have loved to spend Christmas with you!

First up, Christmas Eve. My family has always had the tradition of making a dinner of appetizers for the Christmas Eve meal and then opening presents that night. There have been spins on this, including a hidden bell that had to be found prior to present opening when we were at my Grandpa and Grandma Dano's house. But this year, all traditions were bucked. Instead of appetizers my sister prepared a most elegant Tofurkey feast for us, and Grannie Elaine insisted that we couldn't open presents that night because Santa wasn't bringing anything for stockings on Christmas day. I will cut Santa some slack this year- only because of the snow. I mean, unless his sled had 4 wheel drive or a large shovel attached to the front of it, then there wasn't anyway he was going to make it through the snow drifts in Nebraska. So Christmas Eve was pretty low-key. We ate, the girls watched The Hangover, and Chris and I settled in for a long winter's nap (seriously, we went to be around 8pm or something ridiculous like that!). But most of all we spent Christmas Eve feeling incredibly lucky that we made it to Nebraska before the blizzard hit and instead of spending the night at the Detroit airport, we were spending the night in a blissfully well-insulated house!

Lizzie shrugs her shoulders when asked if she wants any tofurkey
Who me? No, I'm a carnivore, no tofurkey for me.
The tofurkey feast!