Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Bought a bear costume & turned Orson into the world cutest ewok!

Ewok, 1

Ewok, 2

Ewok, 3

Ewok, 4

Ewok, 5

Ewok, 6

Our little ewok was joined by Han & Leia ~

Ewok, 7

Ewok, 8

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pinterest & Page Updates

Do you ever set out to do a small task, and it ends up leading to one project after another?

A while back I joined Pinterest and am really loving it*. I had seen lots of friends using it but thought it was the same thing as Tumblr & was non interested until Sara opened my eyes with a post about it. Basically it is a visual way to store your bookmarks/favorites, using photos for each link (and text), and I desperately needed something like that to sort through all of the recipes & projects that I've marked. And you can see what your friends add for even more ideas. I already have over 500 'pins'!

Having all of those lovely photos has made it a lot easier to find inspiration, and I've been cooking & creating so many of the new things from those links. But I've found that whenever we start to make our weekly grocery list I automatically go to Pinterest now and completely ignore our old favorites. It made me realize just how important those pretty pictures can be.

I considered adding our favorite recipes there, but since the majority of them would be from my own site I thought that would be a little tacky (like I'm pinning my own stuff for exposure). Finally I decided what I really needed to do was add photos to my recipe index, instead of the boring text links. The old page looked like this ~

Old Recipe Book>

I did like the 'recipe binder' feel of the old page, especially since I used a photo of the actual binder I use, but there was just too much text to read through. The new page is pretty plain, but the photos are such an improvement!

New Recipe Book - 2011

While working on the recipe page I came across some horrible photos that really needed to be updated! I realized I had already taken new pictures for two of them but never gotten around to switching them out ~ the Greek Chicken and the Polynesian Chicken. (Normally I would post about the new pics on here, but you can check the links if you are interested)

The recipe page's new look had me itching to makeover my website's front page. It had been on my to-do list for a long time but was never really a priority, regardless of how ugly it was! Here is the old front page ~

Old Front Page

That layout was very outdated, I haven't used my Etsy shop in years! (It was vertically centered on my old computer but screens are generally bigger now. Unfortunately there is no good way to center it for different sizes) The new page is pretty clean & simple & uses another one of my fabric designs for the background ~

New Front Page - 2011

I'm not desperately in love with either of the new pages but definitely think they are in an improvement! Not too shabby, considering I threw them together in a day.

*While I do love Pinterest, the site is a little too glitchy for my liking. I have one recipe that I can not remove or edit, sometimes photos will not show up (which is the whole reason I'm using the site!) or changes you make to your text will not update. I contacted the customer service and they said that it was a problem with the cookies not updating quick enough or something & they would work on it. The problems seemed to be fixed after that, so I was happy, but now they are back. It's not enough to make me regret using the site, but they kind of need to get their act together!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

JapanFest - Costumes

JapanFest - Blue hair

We were surprised at how many people dressed up or wore costumes for JapanFest! With the big crowd it was sometimes hard to get a photo, but I kept snapping them whenever one popped into view. We were greeted right away by Piccolo ~

JapanFest - Piccolo

One of the most common 'costumes' were the Lolita girls, although for all I know they might dress this way every day! I think this one spotted me ~

JapanFest - Pink Lolita

This mother & daughter set were adorable ~

JapanFest - Lolita family

There was plenty of traditional clothing as well ~

JapanFest - Kimono couple

JapanFest - Merchant

JapanFest - Blue kimono

JapanFest - little girl

Friday, October 7, 2011

JapanFest 2011

The last few weekends have been packed with events, and the weekdayss packed with work (working until bedtime every night!), which means lots of photos but no time to edit or write about them. Things are back to normal now though & I'm making some progress. ;)

Three weeks ago we visited JapanFest, a huge convention in Duluth, Georgia featuring all things Japanese. I'd read about it two years ago, a little too late, and last year we only remembered it once we already had plans, so you can guess we were pretty excited to go this time around! Reading through the list of the food that would be on sale only increased my excitement... so many foods I had read about online but never tasted!

Unfortunately things were a bit miserable when we first arrived. An hour in the car with a toddler is enough to put anyone on edge, and then we discovered our exit was closed and we missed the detour. We actually maneuvered that pretty easily, found parking, and started the long hike to the entrance (poor Orson, moved straight from the car-seat to the stroller!). While it had been freezing when we left, as soon as we got out of the car I realized that Orson & I were dressed way too warmly in our long sleeves & pants but had no choice but to deal with the heat.

JapanFest, Crowd

Stepping into the building, the crowd was a little overwhelming. We headed straight for the food court which was also a sea of people and *hot*. The entrance was decorated with some stunning balloon sculptures, but unfortunately Orson is a bit obsessed with balloons right now & we were not enjoying the unending cry of "ba ba ba ba ba ba ba!"

JapanFest, Balloon sculptures

Justin & Orson found some seats at the end of one of the long tables & I headed off to get our food. The plan was to grab a ramen at two different vendors and some takoyaki, but I ended up waiting in one line for at least 15 minutes just to place my order and another 15+ to pick up one ramen. In front of me a girl complained to her mother, "I hate it here! It's too crowded, & everyone pushes, I don't like the food, this is the worst day ever!!!".

My first sip of the Tonkotsu ramen perked me up a bit though. As grumpy as we were at this point, I have to say it was worth the wait! Meaty, creamy, peppery... tastier than I had even hoped for. I was also pleased to see so many people in costume at the event, but I will save those pictures for a second post. We decided to check out the rest of the building and come back for more food later.

JapanFest, craft booths

The merchant booths were nearly as crowded. The few with anime products were so packed you could barely see what they had for sale (not that we would have bought anything, but wouldn't have minded browsing). We picked up a black manekineko ornament and some ceramic origami crane chopstick holders.

JapanFest, Bonsai

There was plenty to see throughout the building, even if it was from afar much of the time. We did not attempt to go to any of the shows this time, but they had performances & talks going on throughout the day.

JapanFest, Cranes

JapanFest, Manekineko

JapanFest, Kimono

JapanFest, Hallway

Afterwards we headed back to the food court & each took a line this time. Justin grabbed the okonomiyaki...

JapanFest, Okonomiyaki

while I picked up some takoyaki.

JapanFest, Takoyaki

Neither of them were as good as I had hoped, but I'd like to try them again elsewhere. I had expected the takoyaki to be crisp on the outside & soft on the inside but the center just tasted like uncooked dough to me (hoping that was a fluke). It was also a mistake to order the two together because we were a bit sick of the similar seafood flavor by the end. We wimped out & washed everything down with some cold Cokes and a soft pretzel. A quick photo by the balloons and we were ready to head home, but not before we ran into two of Justin's former students (who were not there together).

JapanFest, Orson with balloons

I feel like I've mostly complained through this post, but all in all we did have a pretty good time & plan to go again next year. Next time we may get a babysitter though! We do feel like they have outgrown the venue though, and definitely need to find a bigger spot for the 16,000+ crowd. Perhaps the claustrophobia was part of the 'Japan' experience, but dealing with ridiculous lines & blocked booths really did bring the enjoyment down a level.