Under the Sea

It’s a little known fact that every time I get on the moving walkway at the airport I hum the Jetsons theme song quietly as I ride.

I should also mention that I wanted to belt out “Under the Sea” the entire time I spent at the Atlanta Aquarium in Georgia last week.

It all started so innocently, with an event sponsorship in the city that I had just visited last year. While I arrived very late the night before we started, I booked a flight one day after the end of the conference so I’d have time to play. Top of the list? The Botanical Gardens which I missed seeing last year and have heard rave reviews about since.

The Botanical Gardens are closed on Mondays. Womp womp.

So I went to Plan B and started looking at the Aquarium, which was just a short MARTA ride away. Also MARTA? Just like BART but more expensive for a single trip.

Anyway, I bought my ticket online early Monday morning, picked it up at Will-Call after tramping happily through Centennial Park and went right into the Aquarium as it opened.

Did I mention yet how hard it is to narrow down 514 photos to my favorite dozen? No? Well: impossible. I’ve already edited, cropped and sent my favorites for printing so I’ll have another update soon with those on the walls. Until then, here’s a little sample of what you’ll see under the sea at the aquarium:

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This was the first little guy I met. Turns out these jellyfish don’t swim as much as they float with the current which is why the tank is rounded, per the attendant, “or they’d get trapped in the corners.” Adorable.

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See, these two are not so much engaged in a very slow game of chase as they are on an inevitable collision course with the glass. Hilarity.

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While it may be hard to tell, these guys were HUGE. They dwarfed the little baby jellyfish in the first tank and had 8 or 10 in the same space. Which resulted in several tentacle tangles (say that 5 times fast) that I’m sure they’re still sorting out.

Ethereal no? I want this in glow in the dark paint for my bathroom stat.

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The tropical fish were as bright and fun as I remembered from snorkeling, just smaller. The aquarium has these small vignettes, to steal a design term, with specific species and settings. But then they had these giant tanks:

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In the early morning there were actually divers in the tank cleaning, something that happened in a few other tanks as well.

It was much harder to get good pictures in these areas so I mostly stuck to the animals I like most.

Like the belugas.

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This is Maris, an adult female beluga whale. She’s fat because she’s pregnant and in 4 months there will be a baby beluga! The male who knocked her up, Beethoven, was sent away “to do the same thing” in Chicago. There were two adolescent belugas in the tank as well but they were hiding off to the side.

While somewhat hard to photograph, Maris would swim in wide sweeping passes right up to the glass. An adorable little kid asked the attendant, “is it your pet? how did you catch her? do you take her home?” while I stood by snickering.

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This exhibit also had the worst sponsor tie ins I’ve seen. Such as “belugas eat this type of fish, but not on these plastic plates!” Right… so forgettable I don’t remember the sponsor except I think I saw that plastic plate in the “recycle don’t trash our ocean” box across the aquarium.

I suggested a sign “does this glass make me look fat?” with info about the pregnancy because it seemed none of the visitors knew why Maris was rubbing her head on the floor breaking up the rocks in her habitat. I guess it’s the beluga version of nesting.

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Also in this section of the aquarium were the penguins which were alternatively sitting behind water splashed glass, diving too fast for the camera or hiding in a nesting hole. You could crawl through a tunnel that had little “pop up stations” along the habitat but I’m an adult. With bad knees. And dignity.

On to the big tank.

While the aquarium has over 10 million gallons of water, the lion’s share is in this amazing exhibit complete with a walk thru tunnel (no crawling required) and whale sharks.

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Notice how you can’t even see the back of the tank where people were standing? That’s how deep this sucker was. And I loved this manta ray, he would swim lazily and then do flips in the water. Amazing.

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Doesn’t he look so happy to be swimming?

Before I do a quick recap of the exhibits, I want to circle back to my favorites. The jellies.

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On my second pass through, they had just fed these guys, it’s all the specks you see in the water. The jellyfish was capturing the food with all those tentacles as the current carried them here and there.

They really were huge but I love this image even more because you can see the dramatic colors on the crown:

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Now that’s going on my wall. Somewhere. To be determined.

Okay, recap time. If you’re planning a visit check out the Aquarium website here. It’s… okay but could really stand for a remodel and some editing.

Here are the exhibits they feature:

Cold-Water Quest – amazing. Here you’ll find the belugas, penguins, otters, sea horses, octopus, starfish, crabs and a baby beluga in March.

Tropical Diver – my favorite. Corals, reef fish, JELLYFISH, need I say more?

Ocean Voyager – the giant tank, must see. Get there early so you can get up close. Manta rays, whale sharks, lots of tiny fish, sharks, and a cool moving walkway. Jetsons theme song optional.

River Scout – eh, kinda boring. It was also late in the day with a ton of people so hard to see the exhibit around all the ankle biters children. Very cool small turtle exhibit and an albino alligator (who was camera shy).

Georgia Explorer – was closed. Boo. The giant sea turtles were beautiful on the website though so next time turtles, next time.

Dolphin Tales – this is a free show but you have to get a ticket. As soon as you walk in make a sharp left and pick one up at the help desk. The show was fun, if totally cheesy, and think it of more like a short opera with dolphins than an “about dolphins” exhibit. Seriously, guy with a light up cape singing the whole show. But the dolphins are wonderful, the trainers are in the tank for many of the tricks and they are fun to watch. The first 5-6 rows really do get wet and you might spend more time in line for a good seat than the show will last. Good for kids according to the ones around me who were wide eyed and they play several cute videos before the show to keep the natives from getting restless.

Also, there’s no photography during the show at ALL (ahem, woman in front of me who didn’t care about the rules) so take pictures of the dolphins in the tank before/after the show if you have time.

Upstairs there’s also a 4-D show which I ignored completely and another exhibit (which isn’t even on the website…) which was basically fossils and dead fish. Interesting if you’re a biologist but otherwise completely deserted and totally boring.

So there you have it, my Under the Sea voyage and photographic documentation. I did a lot of research on taking good pictures at the aquarium so if you’re going make sure you have the right equipment and settings to get the pictures you want.

Back to the Hill

It’s a tradition every fall to make the trek up to Apple Hill. This November the trees were especially gorgeous, even if the drought had a big impact in the area.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the trip. It was amazing.

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all of these items are copyrighted.

Enough

One night I read a book. Which isn’t all that unusual. But it happened to be the same night I was in the midst of writing a long, drawn out post about all the things I needed to do.

The book is Enough by Kate Conner, a friend who I first met during our college years at LU and who I’ve kept in touch with via her blog for years.

I’ll be honest, I bought the book because a) it was on sale on Amazon for Kindle and b) I like to support the endeavors of friends. Designed for teenage girls and their moms, I really didn’t have an immediate need but since I love Kate’s writing and story telling this particular night I opened it up on my iPad to read.

Wow.

If you’re a mom of young girls then you need to read (this one) and pick up the companion for your teen (this one). In fact, I think by the time girls reach those precious teen years the foundation should already be in place.

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But as I’m not a mother, the book had a different effect on me.

It got me thinking about what’s enough. For me.

There’s the obvious societal pressures that say you’re never thin, tanned, exfoliated, smooth, smart or rich enough for the world. Advertisers tell us our eyelashes could always be longer, lips fuller and hair shinier.

And while I’m incredibly proud of Kate for her books, publishing 2 before she turned 30 lit that flicker of doubt for myself – how much accomplishment is enough? Let’s not talk about the multitude of books I’ve started during NaNoWriMo and never finished.

I also consider accomplishments related to my work.

My business is going well, but is it making enough of an impact? Enough money? Enough media? I know some of this is the pressure from coaches who want you to feel as if you’re never doing enough and need their assistance to “grow your impact” or “uplevel your mindset.”

I also thought about the personal stuff that’s harder to categorize.

Like this blog, which got a new theme but I don’t know nearly enough to code by hand. There are plenty of projects I haven’t shared and the fast and furious nature of blogging makes you believe you’re not posting enough or somehow you fail at transparency.

And I bought a house at 24 with the help of my parents but it’s pretty modest. I read about people who pay off their mortgage in 5 years and don’t feel very accomplished. Of course I see all the flaws too. The yard isn’t big enough. I can’t keep plants alive long enough… you can see clearly how the these thoughts spiral out of control.

Whether or not you’re taking the lessons from Enough to your children, it’s a valuable question to resolve within yourself.

Take some time to reflect “is my life a result of the things I love to do, my passions and priorities or is it a result of feeling of inadequacy?” Anyone can discover what is enough in their own life and make adjustments accordingly.

 

 

Summer Recap 2014 : Part 3 the Guest Room

The kitchen wasn’t the only room to get a new paint job this summer. After painting the office a nice custom light turquoise, the guest room stood out like a sore thumb.

This is where we started:

DSC_0174 copyFirst I emptied the closet and painted it with the leftover ceiling paint. This was the second 2-gallon bucket of ceiling paint I’ve used up on this house and there’s more in my future.

The closet shelves needed a lot of TLC. Caulking. Scrubbing. Touch ups.

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Trying to paint the ceiling of a small space pretty much guarantees I’ll get paint in my hair at some point. I consider it a glimpse into my future with gray hair.

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Once the closet was dry I began to fill up the shelves with books and photos – some of my most bulky collections that I need to store for awhile. And the rest of the closet has Banker’s Boxes, craft stuff and my spare tables.

Then I worked my way around the room, painting over the smurf blue walls and covering it up with some Kilz primer. Then I painted the walls Frosted Jade in a flat finish from Behr. It’s just a few shades lighter than the custom color I used in the office and I really love how cool it makes the room feel.

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After moving out the bookshelves, I took out the mattresses and then rotated the bed frame back to its original position.

Before:

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Now:

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While I did like the bed frame rotated 90 degrees, the head board completely blocked the window which kept out all the natural light.

The curtains, quilt, mirror and pictures came down as the rest of the paint went up.

Here’s the view from the door now:

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Including just one of the Ikea bookshelves that came out of the office (the other 3 were sold):

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The red leather chair covered with a canvas drop cloth made its way in:

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The pillow case and twin-sheet-turned-curtain were $4 at a tag sale and coordinate nicely with the new paint color.

And this old footchest stores sheets and pillow cases as well as a handy seat for guests. The pictures around are my family frames.

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I added a custom curtain rod and new curtains. It’s simply a 1/2″ copper pipe spray painted ORB and matching 1″ plastic electrical brackets. I screwed them right into the ceiling so it would hang evenly.

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And under the window is a new to me desk that I talked about sanding and have left natural for now. It might get stained or waxed later on but for now it’s looking good.

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I set up the spare computer and sewing machine here and will be getting the matching bench for the desk soon.

So that’s the guest room makeover!

psssst! if you missed it part 1 of the summer recap is here, and part 2 here.

Finding Your Motivation

There are a lot of times I get asked about the work I’ve done around the house – and how to stay motivated over long periods of time with so much going on.

Often I don’t really think I’m accomplishing that much. This blog is a hobby that I don’t make a dime from so naturally my attention is usually focused on my business. And although it’s been nearly 6 years of living here I’ve never done a major remodel. The kitchen is mostly the same, the only new floors have been in the bathroom and we’ve never done a major gut job – the closest was the master bath sink to replace an older cabinet.

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That shelf is actually a good example of my first strategy. Typically, I like to let ideas marinate because I’ve learned that snap decisions are usually bad ones. So while I’m watching a movie or working on the computer or avoiding doing the dishes at night I’m also thinking about what I need to tackle.

Then I research. A lot. After weeks or months of searching for materials, pricing out the project and mentally planning how it’s going to work I will finally make a move.

By this time I’m ready to see the final version so I try to make sure there’s nothing in the way of getting it done. So although I might build something very quickly the planning stage in my head takes ages.

The new lights, like the one below in the dining room, are another good example. I searched and searched before purchasing my new lights and then got the electrician to come out and install them all in just a few hours.

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Another tactic I use is to determine an arbitrary order to my projects so the least fun tasks get done before the enjoyable stuff. A great example of this is my bedroom gallery wall. When I was putting together these prints I was super excited to get it installed.

Instead of immediately hanging pictures I decided to paint the walls first. After painting the guest room smurf blue then doing the ceiling I learned that scraping the ceiling needs to come first. Otherwise, ceiling dust covers the paint is never truly comes out. That thought process enabled me to first complete the ceiling, in the summer of 2012, then paint the ceiling and walls, and then I could install the gallery. Here it was at just the beginning with one print up:

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The other motivating factor for finishing projects is sharing them with friends by inviting people over. And while it’s tempting to delay until “later” I’m finally, finally hosting an Open House aka a very belated House Warming party in a week!

So now alllll those little projects are going to get completed.

 

Photo Friday

I shared a snapshot from the sunset last week but after working on the rest of the photos: wow. Amazing

IMG_3489I can’t wait for another storm so I can get back out with my camera. Oh and we really need the rainfall here.

IMG_3482Also, getting down and dirty on the side of the road was so worth it! And I learned how to shoot through my sunglasses so you can see what I see through the other lenses:

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Nixon has been especially cute this week, if not just as mischievous as usual. here he is looking at me like I owe him an explanation for… something:

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And in the other chair, trying to figure out how to sit:

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here’s a peek at what I’m doing this weekend:

IMG_3538I grabbed this screenshot because I think it’s a perfect snap of what I share on Instagram:

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Yep – flowers, dogs and sunsets plus the rare snapshot of food, drink and people :)

I’m krazevedo on Instagram if you want to follow!

 

 

 

the worst DIY task ever

A lot of DIY whiners will tell you that painting is time consuming and stripping furniture sucks but for me, definitively, it’s sanding.

At this very moment I have no less than 4 projects held up by sanding because it is the literal worst.

a. Dust gets everywhere. I do most of my projects in the evening and work in my comfortable, well lit garage. The very same garage now covered in dust. Everything from the canned food to the open dryer with clean clothes is now covered in dust. Mostly though it seems to be directed right into your open nostrils in order to line your throat and lungs in tiny particles.

b. Safety equipment. Do not put me on team safety. I literally work barefoot with saws, drag around furniture by myself on the regular and laugh in the face of an eye mask when sanding ceilings. But when you’re sanding and the dust is flying? I can barely breathe. Still, a mask and glasses are annoying and usually ineffective.

c. Numb arms. While sanding by hand is time consuming, using an electric orbital sander is nature’s way to trying to detach your limbs. Specifically the arms. It shakes so hard that my hands go numb after 20 minutes which is fortunate because I also can’t breathe so I just lie on the carpet and sound like an asthmatic.

d. Spray tan equivalent. When you’re sanding all the focus is on the wood. Are you pressing too hard? Is the sandpaper smooth and useless? Did all that varnish come off the corner? And you don’t realize, until you go inside, that every bit of the reddish or brown stain you’ve just removed from the wood is now coating your skin in a thin layer. And this is how your 1/16th Native American ancestors might have looked like.

Finally, don’t ever, ever sand if you plan to work on a computer, answer a phone or go into public in the following 2 hours. Instead block off plenty of time to shower, scrub your dermis raw and wait for the feeling to return to your digits.

In other words, I still don’t have an update because I’m dreading going back to the garage to finish sanding.

But the sander is mocking me. Laughing. I swear I heard it mutter “soon” when I used the leaf blower to clear out some dust a few days ago.

So I say to you: soon.