Married to the Empire

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Always a work in progress

Monday I received a package full of thank-you notes from my nieces, sister, and BIL. The note from my 8-year-old niece was in its own envelope, and when I opened it, this fell out:

It arrived on the very day that I most needed the reminder. I'm often short on patience, so a visual reminder I can wear daily is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My first Meme!

I'm such a dork because I was so excited that Ann tagged me for a meme. I've never been tagged before, and it made me feel, well, kind of special. :-)

I'm supposed to post the rules, so here goes.

The rules for this meme are: (1) Link to the person that tagged you. (2) Post the rules on your blog. (3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. (4) Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. (5) Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

1. I gag myself every time I brush my teeth. Not on purpose, of course; I just can't seem to brush without gagging.

2. My food cannot touch on my plate. Every food item must have its own designated space, and they are not to mix. I don't even mix my Chinese food with the rice. This is actually an important quirk of mine because if you make my food touch to tease me, I'll yell at you and possibly even cry.

3. I would rather pet animals than hold babies. I don't know why. I didn't like to babysit as a teen, but I adored petsitting. As a grownup, I have animals, not children. I don't hate babies or anything; I'm just not particularly interested in them. And that does not make me a bad person, thankyouverymuch.

4. I adhere to a pretty strict schedule. I do certain activities on certain days of the week, and it gets me all cranky when I have to deviate from my schedule. In fact, it can make me feel downright panicky. I like familiarity and predictability.

5. I love the Muppets. They make me laugh like an idiot. How can you not laugh hysterically at lines such as, "When you can help friends and get revenge on enemies, isn't that what Christmas is all about?" (Pepe the King Prawn in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas)

6. I have no sense of direction. At all. I'm easily turned around, have no problem getting lost, and handing me a map is like telling me to read a book in Chinese. My brain does not process direction. I just tell people that God didn't turn on my compass when he made me.

Now, I'm supposed to tag 6 people, but seeing as only about 3 bloggers actually read my blog regularly, and 1 of the 3 tagged me in the first place... well, if you're reading this and you think it would be fun to participate, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wired Magazine Photo Shoot Part 5

There were too many guys to fit into the studio, so the photographers had everyone outside for the professional group shots. I took pictures of the group and the process:

They mostly wanted photos of just white stormtroopers. The other Imperials huddled together to chat, while James the Death Star Trooper looked bored:

A bunch of stormtroopers on the side of the road attract a lot of attention, especially in a small town. This was typical:

The Driftwood post office was across the street from the shoot, so people drove by, pulled in, and stopped to take photos or call people from their cell phones. Before long, there was quite a bit of traffic going by. I guess this was Driftwood's exciting happening for the weekend.

This adorable puppy came by with her young owner, who had the privilege of taking pictures with the stormtroopers after the shoot:

The guys are always willing to take photos with kids.

These were just a select few photos from this weekend's photo shoot. You can see all my photos here. This was a lot of fun, and we really look forward to seeing the magazine when it comes out!

Wired Magazine Photo Shoot Part 4

The stormtroopers set all their gear outside, which is also where they changed. I took a few random shots of their gear lying around:

The photographers were kind enough to order pizza for the guys:

Boba Fett getting dressed for his close-up:

Some posed, but not professional, shots:

And a few shots just goofing around:

Wired Magazine Photo Shoot Part 3

A few more closeups.

The young man in the Jawa and Jedi costumes is 10-year-old Dade. He's a nice kid with some really great costumes! I enjoyed chatting with him between takes, and I have to tell y'all what he did that really impressed me. Without prompting from anyone, he repeatedly offered his seat to the daughters of another stormtrooper. Did I mention he's a great kid?

Here's the main reason the guys were there for a photo shoot in the first place:

That's Ernie, or Earnest Cline, the writer of the movie Fan Boys. I'm pretty sure he's the subject of the article for Wired magazine; they just wanted stormtroopers for the pictures. He's a really nice guy who has some very interesting stories!

Wired Magazine Photo Shoot Part 2

Before doing any group shots, the photographers wanted some individual photos of various characters. The first thing they asked for was a shiny, clean stormtrooper. Since Steven is obnoxiously obsessive meticulous about his armor, he was the perfect candidate. This man polishes his armor before every event.

They first needed him to sit so they could get head shots. Sitting in stormtrooper armor is nearly impossible without some adjustments. In Steven's case, that meant removing the calf pieces and unhooking the thigh pieces. Unfortunately, this made him look like he was *ahem* going potty. We all got a good laugh over his unfortunate, but necessary stance.

They encouraged him to remove his helmet between takes. Even with fans in his helmet (a total necessity if you're going to be part of the Empire in Texas!), it gets hot in there.

They took a few standing shots, too.

The photographers told me that this was their first digital shoot. It was an interesting process. They had screens where the the shots would appear, then they'd fiddle with them by checking for symmetry and I don't know what else.

While taking photos of my husband, something went wrong. The photographers all huddled around the digital camera to look at it, and I heard the words, "That's expensive," when they discovered the broken part. Not good. I told Steven that he broke their camera. He said, "Well, at least it was my helmet and not my face that broke it!"

When they heard that I blog about this stuff, one of the photographers asked for my blog address, writing it down on something photo related. I'm just narcissistic enough to take a photo of it.

Wired Magazine Photo Shoot Part 1

We headed out early Sunday morning in the midst of heavy fog to drive to Driftwood, TX for a photo shoot for Wired magazine.

You've never heard of Driftwood, TX? Yeah, me neither. It's sort of close to Austin. The town is quite small, but obviously old. Charming place, really. Here a few shots I took of Driftwood:

That building with the Texaco sign and the very faded words, "Driftwood Country Store," is the studio where the stormtroopers took pictures. I really loved this studio; it has character, and it's filled with antiques and vintage items. Lots of visual interest and calming colors. A few pics from inside the studio:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blueberry bliss--the aftermath

I reported yesterday that I inhaled ate a pint of blueberries to see if they still give me migraines. I'm pleased to report that 20 hours later, I'm still migraine free. That's not to say that I can't still get a blueberry-induced headache, as there can be as much as a 3-day window for migraine to hit after ingesting a trigger. However, after that amount of time, it's difficult to determine if a food is the cause of migraine, or if it is due to other factors, such as weather, sleep patterns, other foods, fluorescent lighting, etc.

At this point, I'm guessing that blueberries are actually safe for me to eat. *doing a little happy dance* I may need to go buy some more to make blueberry muffins for tomorrow morning. We have a long drive to get to a magazine photo shoot, and we need to eat a hearty breakfast. I have sorely missed blueberry muffins.

But I'll take my migraine meds with me just in case.

Updated: I spoke too soon. About an hour-and-a-half after posting that I felt fine, migraine hit pretty hard. I guess blueberries are still on my bad list. At least I got to enjoy them one last time.

Edited again: I realized just how piggy it sounds to say I ate a pint of blueberries, so I dug the container out of the recycling bin to take a look. Turns out, it was only a half-pint. Now I feel better. ;-)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Blueberry bliss

Three years ago, I got serious about figuring out my migraine triggers. I went on a very strict diet that cut out all typical migraine-trigger foods. A few weeks later, I gradually added things back in, which allowed me to learn which foods were causing me problems.

A few months later, I went blueberry picking in Tyler, TX with my parents. I came home with 6 pounds of blueberries and started using them in salads and baked goods. I was in blueberry heaven!

But I had a migraine after every blueberry-gorging session. Blueberries are not common migraine triggers, but for me, they were. So, I cut them out.

Here I am nearly 3 years later, and nary a blueberry has touched my lips in all that time. And believe me when I say I've been tempted! But today, I decided to give them a try again. They were on sale for $1.25 at Sprouts today, so I decided to buy some for experimental purposes.

I confess that I ate the entire pint. And I enjoyed every juicy, sweet bit of it! Now I'm just waiting to see if a migraine hits. Thirty minutes after my pig-out session, I'm still feeling fine, but sometimes the headaches can take a few hours to hit. Wish me luck because I really want to be able to eat blueberries again! Chocolate I can live without, but blueberries have been a real challenge!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lecture series at Temple Emanu-El

Tuesday night we went back to Temple Emanu-El in Dallas for the third lecture in a series titled "The New Testament: First Century Jews, First Century Christians." The speaker is Dr. Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at SMU. We had to miss the second lecture due to illness, but we learned that the lectures are available online.

Dr. Chancey obviously knows his audience, which was mostly Jewish, considering the lectures are being held in a Jewish synagogue. Tuesday night's lecture was about Paul, the Jewish Pharisee who became the greatest missionary to the Gentiles. Dr. Chancey acknowledged how wrong Paul's teachings would seem to the Jews because his writings seem to say that Torah is now irrelevant and of no use. He went on to explain what Paul meant by all of that, which was interesting to hear. I highly recommend you look at the outline and listen to the mp3 of the lecture once it's up.

Dr. Chancey also answered questions at the end. One of the questions that I found most intriguing was whether or not Christianity would have survived if Paul had not converted and become so zealous in its spread. That got me thinking. He presented Paul in a not-very-favorable light, in my opinion. I think he was trying to appeal to his general audience by relating him in a way with which they could most identify, but it made Paul sound like a bit of a pompous jerk. Granted, I've wondered at times if I would have liked Paul (personality-wise, I mean) if I'd ever met him. I'm not sure that I would. However, the question asked made me think that perhaps Christianity really would have had a difficult time spreading had it not been for Paul with his zealous and overbearing personality. And that would explain why the Lord singled him out on the road to Damascus in such a fantastic way.

I think it just goes to show how much of the Lord's will can be accomplished when we're open to doing what he asks of us. The Lord knows our strengths and talents, and he will ask us to use them for his glory. Paul did just that, and Christianity spread like wildfire.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Back from the dentist

Things went really well today. I overslept by 30 minutes, so I had to race to make my appointment on time. That sounds like a bad thing, but it wound up being great for me because in my hurried state, I had no time to think about what was about to happen to me. So, I'm pleased to report that for the first time in my life, I arrived at the dentist's office for major work without sweaty palms. I'm sure that sounds like nothing to the rest of you, but it was a Very Big Deal to me.

My dentist is great. After I got over the fact that we were at the same college at the same time, which means he's way too young to be a doctor, I became comfortable with him. He's very understanding that I'm terrified of him. (I told him that it's like I tell my cats about their vet: they'd like her if they met her outside of her office. I told him I'd probably like him just fine if he wasn't my dentist.) He has the soothing tone and gentle touch down pat. I barely felt the 5000 shots he had to give me for the Novocaine to actually take.

The dental-torture assistant has known me for 20 years, so she's used to me and knows how to talk to me so I'm calm. For a dental office, it's a good place.

My iPod and David Crowder were helpful, too. And Martha Stewart. She hung out with me while I had to wait for my crowns to be made. She never gets excited about anything, so she's a soothing person to hang with.

I'm home now, no longer numb, and feeling fine except for soreness where I received the 5000 shots. I survived! (And don't have to see any of those people for SIX WHOLE MONTHS!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New dental freak-out date

The dentist's office just called. They had a cancellation, so I'm now having my teeth worked on tomorrow morning at 8:30. If you're the praying type, I'd certainly appreciate it if you send up a little prayer for me to stay calm and be easily numbed. (Novocaine and I have a history of not working well together.) I'm always a sweaty-palmed, butterfly-filled bundle of shaky nerves when I go in for dental work, and I'd love it if I could actually be semi-calm for once.

My cat Calvin goes to the vet for a teeth cleaning next month. He gets to be completely knocked out for his procedure. Right now, I'm insanely jealous of him.

Lovin' the library

I've always been a fan of checking out the written word. I also love borrowing audio books, as they make working in the kitchen a thing to look forward to. But lately, I'm all about the DVDs.

Our library has become a lot better about buying the latest DVDs when they're released. I didn't know that, though, because they're never on the shelves due to always being checked out. But I finally wised up, started doing a catalog search for any movies I'm interested in seeing, and more often than not, our library has them!

Last week I watched Pan's Labyrinth, which is just fantastic! I liked it so much, I may wind up buying it. I watched the documentary Jesus Camp, which was interesting and a little odd. I saw Knocked Up, which I was interested because it's a Judd Apatow film, and I just loved his TV show Freaks and Geeks. I learned, though, that Freaks and Geeks was highly cleaned up for TV, but Knocked Up didn't have to be. I don't recommend it.

Today I checked out Bride and Prejudice, which I've wanted to see for some time. I also picked up Lost in Translation, which I'm not sure about, and The Incredibles, which I've seen before, but it's been a long time.

I'm on a waiting list for Amazing Grace, Jane Austen's Persuasion, and Howl's Moving Castle. There are a few other titles I'm interested in, but I'll wait a bit.

With all these films, who needs to pay Blockbuster fees? I'm now off to fold laundry and do some ironing, all while watching free DVDs.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's the little things in life

Sometimes it's the smallest things that can make a person feel so happy. My little piece of happiness for today:

Pink socks with beagles. They make me smile every time I see them.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Random weekend activities

We've had an interesting Saturday. Steven started the day by going to church to help move our church's belongings into our new building. We're very excited about having a new building in a more convenient location! I slept in since I've been feeling headachy and run-down lately.

This afternoon we headed out to Hobby Town so Steven could get something he needed for a Star Wars project. Driving through the shopping center's parking lot, we saw a sign that flu shots were available today at the pharmacy. We decided to get flu shots since Steven is high risk due to kidney disease, and I'm about to start tutoring in a middle school that is bound to be rife with sick germs. And when I say "we decided," I really mean that I decided, and Steven knew better than to argue. Two flu shots left us $56 poorer, but in my opinion, it's money well spent. And yeah, we should have done this back in October, but better late than never.

We then headed over to Christian Community Action to drop off an extra artificial Christmas tree that is just too big for our house. Turns out that they weren't accepting trees that day since Christmas is 11 months away. We decided to park and go into the CCA store, though, just for the fun of it.

I wound up finding a James Herriot book that I didn't already own. Steven had gone off on his own through the store and came back carrying this:

Lava lamps retail for $40, but this one in perfect condition was only $4. The man loves his lava lamps, and I confess to thinking they're pretty cool, too. The blue and black go very nicely in his Star Wars room. He was marveling over his find, and I told him it probably came from some guy who just got married, but his new wife wouldn't let him keep it. Because, you know, I've heard of wives being mean like that. In fact, I've learned that I'm a bit unusual because I let him have an entire room of our house just for his Star Wars stuff. Guess that makes me a nice wife, huh? I remind him of that fact. Often.

He's now trying to defeat the Rebels in some Star Wars computer game, and I'm about to go read one of my new, first edition (!!!) Chaim Potok books that my sweet hubby gave me for Christmas.

It's been a good Saturday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Magazine photo shoot

Finally, I have some new Star Wars/stormtrooper stuff to report! Steven just informed me that he'll be going to Austin on January 27th for a photo shoot for Wired magazine. It's about the new movie Fan Boys. I'll be tagging along for the fun of it.

My husband may have a nerdy hobby, but we sure do get to do a lot of cool stuff because of it!

Dental update

I mentioned on Tuesday that I'd chipped a tooth and would be seeing the dentist this morning. Apparently, I misunderstood what the girl on the phone meant when she said, "We'll get it all taken care of on Thursday." I guess she was referring to x-rays, photos, and a cleaning because that's all they did today. I freaked out for nothing!

Turns out, though, that I chipped my filling, not the tooth itself. However, because the tooth is badly cracked, I'll have a crown put on it. Another filling is chipped, so I'll have a partial crown on that one. And yet another filling is breaking down and decay has gotten in, so they're refilling that one. Ugh. But, at least this set of work will only cost me about $800 after insurance. That's way better than the $1700 my last visit cost!

My new freak-out date will be January 30 at 8:30am.

All of you with good teeth, be sure to thank God for them. You have no idea how blessed you are not to have to deal with bad teeth!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WFMW: Using leftover taco meat

I haven't done a Works-for-Me Wednesday post in a while, but I thought this was an easy tip that deserves to be shared.

Sometimes we have meat leftover after making tacos. An easy way to use it up is to heat a can of tomato soup (follow directions on can), add 1/4 cup (or as much as you want) salsa, and your leftover taco meat.

When it's heated through, ladle into bowls, add grated cheese and sour cream, if desired, and serve with tortilla chips. It's fast, super-easy, tasty, and filling.

For more WFMW ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dental distress

I hate going to the dentist. My sister and I had a horrible dentist as children, and as a result, I've been terrified of dental visits ever since. To make things worse, I have terrible teeth thanks to genetics. While I no longer seem to get cavities, I do have old fillings that are breaking down, so my fear of the dentist is now more of a fear of the dental bills I'll have to incur for crowns. Ouch!

So, um, I've avoided going for about a year-and-a-half because my last visit wound up costing me $1700 for 3 crowns. (Please don't lecture me about this, Mama!) I'm just not ready for that again.

But I discovered last night that I've chipped a tooth. It's one of those teeth with old fillings, so I guess this was bound to happen, but it means I can't put off going any longer.

I'm now scheduled for 9:10am on Thursday. Sweaty palms, queasy stomach, fast breathing await me that morning. Perhaps I should re-read The Hiding Place before I go, because that book is what got me through those 3 crowns last time. I kept telling myself, "If Corrie Ten Boom could survive Ravensbrook, I can survive the dentist." Probably a poor comparison, but that just goes to show you how scared I am of dental work!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Craft room reorganization

It seems like I'm always having to work on my craft room, rather than in it. I can make a mess of things in here in a heartbeat. My latest conundrum is my Martha Stewart Living magazines. I have them in cute IKEA magazine holders, and they're sorted by month. However, the months are growing too fat for my holders. And I can only fit 12 holders across my metal shelves, so I had to reorganize.


To give you an idea of my problem, here is December's box (far right). Keep in mind that there were 2 other December issues that didn't even fit in there and were hanging out on the floor:

I had the bright idea to group them in a box by year, rather than by month. But that presented its own problem in that a full year is bigger than the magazine holder:

So I had to pull things off the shelves, and I'm now in the process of reorganzing everything. Now, my Martha mags are organized by month, but they're on 2 separate shelves, and September, October, November, and December are now taking up 6 boxes instead of 4. And there's a 7th box just waiting to be filled up with future issues:

Remember those baskets I bought at Goodwill the other day? Well, I have one filled up now and on the shelf. It's holding all my rubber stamp sets, which frees up the drawer I use for stamps to hold more individual stamps:

With things moving around on the shelves, I decided to remove my file box that I've kept our financial records in for years. My system has changed a bit, and I think I'll find it easier to file paid bills away in the filing cabinet I painted, which happens to sit next to my desk. While in the process of switching files from the box to the cabinet, I found buried in there a packet of Hallmark cards:

I have no idea where they came from, and clearly I didn't even recall having them in the first place! But they'll be put to good use.

Now, I still have a lot of work to do because reorganizing my magazines left several large things displaced from my shelves. I'm back in the craft room closet to see where I can make more room. I'm left wondering how 2 people can have so much stuff!