Installed a wordpress installation on me on server…  still haven’t taken the time to make my own theme.

One Step At A Time.

All Future Posts on Learning Machine: http://learningmachine.sdeflores.com

– S

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So I started this post before Lost ended.  This is all I had… “Things I hate about Lost:”

I’ll try to put a more positive spin on this situation by introducing some short lists of likes, complaints and solutions…

Likes

  1. No complaints about the acting. Locke/M.I.B. played Terry O’Quinn especially shined in his contradictory but convincing roles. Michael Emerson (Ben) was also a favorite despite how they let his character peter out.
  2. Some real novel intriguing ideas, too bad it was piece-mealed together. It’s not enough for me that it was “art” or “unique” I need some resolution. They could have been more successful with sticking with oneish concept (time travel, human experimentation, salvation).
  3. Something to watch/bitch about.
  4. Some really good character origins. My favorite episode being Locke’s “Walk About” and Sawyer’s “Confidence Man”.

The characters/actors made Lost.

Dislikes

  1. Overdone suspense music even when revealing a twist for the third time… I don’t care if THIS character is learning it for the first time, we already know.
  2. Gimmicky twists as mentioned above. Especially when in regards to fate. Fate is interesting when its not written (such as coincidence in life), unfortunately there is yet the technology (or amount of intelligent chimps) to produce unwritten shows that aren’t reality shows. So lay off of relying on fate. Of course its all intermingled, you wrote it like that! Oh lord, Jacob touched him!
  3. No regard for my time by letting the ending be what it was.
  4. Character development became more mechanical towards the end as people were used as stereotypes of themselves to move what little plot there was. So Sun spent days seemingly sitting in one location (totally amnesiac of her daughter) until someone told her Jin was where they were going and she followed them.
  5. Time wasted on flash sideways when we had wrapping up to do!

I FELL ASLEEP DURING THE FINAL SO DON’T REALLY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT HOW IT ENDED BUT THIS IS WHAT I SUGGEST AS FAR AS HOW LOST COULD HAVE SALVAGED THEIR DIGNITY

Woke up confused.  Austin explained the end and I was even more confused and slightly agitated.

My suggestions go as follows…

  1. We know we can’t make the island purgatory because some asshole guessed that on a forum after Season 1.  And we DEFINITELY know we can’t make the flash sideways purgatory because that would mean a majority of season 6 was for naught.  We don’t want to waste people’s time… do we Lost?  So how about instead of purgatory we make the island REAL LIFE and life before the island hell?  And the flash sideways if they had gone to heaven and not hell and if they redeem themselves in real life (a.k.a. make nice on the island and don’t let the Devil in Black leave) they will attain heaven.Okay you know what? Scratch that the island should have been purgatory we all know that and that’s why some troll guessed it. I don’t care if they would have had gloating rights you should have stuck with it Lost.
  2. The gold shiny light? Pulp Fiction Glowing Suitcase Should have been time (or at least explained). This theory doesn’t really explain why time turns you into a black smoke monster but we as humans strive for more time (longer lives) so that makes the shinies worth it to fight over. It would explain the longevity of the protectors. Also, if one person released or stole it all it would end time as we know it for everyone else. Also, explains the magical time travel. The flash sideways could have been an alternative universe spawned by the explosion that must be united with the “actual” universe in order to stabilize time. The island could be basically the knot that holds together time (or the cork if you prefer) and Jacob and M.I.B. the humans deranged with power by living at the nexus.  You can also explain Jacob getting off the island as time travel can be perceived as space travel.
  3. How about jumping the shark and explain it away as… aliens. Jacob and the M.I.B. are aliens enacting their own “Crash of Titans”. In some sort of Truman Show biosphere they crashed our plane on to their “mechanical island space ship” and are testing our virtues. The flash sideways are another simulation that they are putting people through and by realizing this the humans end the aliens hold on them.

Pick one. Still better then, some hole light thingy that Jack magically could just plug back in and flash sideways being some sort of limbo where people magically have stupid sons.

Done – S

To be fair I was the one that watched it for 6 seasons… by the ending I just didn’t care.  Made me long for the days anticipating the ending of worthwhile series like Battlestar Galactica.  Even if their payoff wasn’t great either…

So in my many forays into “having too many hobbies” I have founded/maintained for the last two years a book club, Y.A.W.E.R.S. (YAY! Adults Who Enjoy Reading Still formally known as Young Adults Who Enjoy Reading Still).

Here’s my review of our May read…

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Synopsis:

Dooms Day Book CoverIt is the not so exciting future (other then… you know time travel) where historians are the new Indiana Joneses, the bell crazed British are sending historians back to the past, by themselves, to chronicle history.  Shenanigans occur.  One part historical fiction, one part sci fi, another part medical drama.  A pretty surprising multifaceted book, that despite long sometimes frustrating inner monologues will keep you guessing (and you’ll find you were probably right) and interested until the end.

Thoughts:

I liked this book.  It wasn’t what I expected (mostly because I’m bad at reading back covers/reviews).  It really has a little about everything and keeps you interested.  Connie Willis’ view of the future is not super exciting (then again it’s only 50 years from now) but the time travel aspect adds a twist.  She in my opinion cops out though with the book’s universe rule that you can’t travel back in time and effect the past because “the net” that takes you back won’t let you go if you can screw it up.  Really takes a lot of balls to trust in that one.

The characters aren’t SUPER endearing but they are likeable enough.  The parts in the past both anglicize the people of the time and forces the point that its not the fairy tale era that SCA members day dream about.  Apperantly she did her research though (didn’t travel back in time though… :/ Where’s the commitment?) as best as she could and its pretty accurate to the 1300s.

One sometimes frustrating and sometimes interesting aspect of the book was Connie Willis’ ability to really get in the head of the unreliable narrators.  Large stretches of the book are spent with the characters listing what they needed to do full of self doubt or full hardy promise.  Made me stress and urge them a long.  It wasn’t Grapes of Wrath in length of description though so it was barable. The way she stretches on inner monologues also is mirrored in her plot reveals.  Good twists but I guessed them 50-100 pages before as there is very obvious lead up.

Rating:

3 out of 5 penguins for gumption!

Read On – S

So just a quick(ish) entry about a place you should check out if you planning a wedding. Especially if you are planning on building your own centerpieces. So if you have one near you, try Ikea.

I know Ikea is not a new phenomenon but you might not look there first to “furnish” your wedding.  I actually got this idea a while ago from Ruffled.  After visiting the store I realized how many other potential wedding applications there were.  Too bad I already decided on my centerpieces!

Pros

  • Maybe not sturdy but cheap.  And for one night of use that’s fine.
  • You can peruse their selection online and search to see if your local Ikea has that item.  Perhaps even hundreds of them…  You most likely won’t have to worry about not having enough if you find what you want in the store nearby.  They have bins I tells ya!  Bins!
  • Simple in style so you could always go crazy and still “customize” it/stencil it.  Also often the selection comes in the latest “hip” colors.
  • Many of these purchases you could just use in your house afterwards!

Cons

  • Navigating the store.  It’s best to just following the long long long winding path until you get to your “section”.  Do not freak out there will be an end to the path and if you haven’t noticed related items and have been walking for a while, its okay, just keep on walking.  Nina had to tell me to do this several times… its overwhelming.
  • Might not have one near you.  Can’t order online for many of the items but you can call in and order.  If you call in though they charge a pretty hefty phone order fee ($20!) and expensive shipping.

A Smattering of Ideas

Here are a few options I found:

FrameI actually bought this $.99 option for my table menus.  Double sided, cheap and simple.  Holds a 4″x6″ and has Plexiglas to protect the photo or menu.

Easel$.99 cent easel that holds a 4″x6″ picture frame (you can get a pack of three for $1.99) or perhaps your menu on card stock?  My friend is using these for her Van Gogh inspired wedding.

CushionReception seats a bit stiff?  Rather then decorate with sashes and a back cover, what about a utilitarian but summery cushion?  At $2.99 it’s pretty affordable!  You could then encourage people to take them home with them.  Or have a cushion room in your future love nest… for frolicking like Scrouge Mc Duck.

Cushion BlankSame idea as above but white and only $1.49. This could easily be dyed or stenciled with your logo.

Honey Comb MirrorOkay, this is straight up awesome for your own house… A pack of 10 honeycomb interlocking mirrors for $14.99 or $1.50ish each.  But imagine keeping them separate or only bunching a few together and using them as mirrors underneath your centerpieces. Ah Haaa….

Movie Frame

This is a little more expensive but for $9.99 you can buy this seven picture movie themed picture frame.  It hangs and could either “frame” your bridal table or hang over each of your guests tables with pictures of you guys.  Especially great for a movie/hollywood/picture themed wedding.

CaraffeScience themed?  Spice it up some flowers you could get at the local farmers market and colored water for your centerpieces. Or fill several with jelly beans (once color per carafe).  $7.99.

Bottle$2.99 – Fill it with sand and put it on its side, fill it with candy, put tiny flowers inside.  Swig beer in it.  Send a message of love to commemorate the day to a far off land after saying your vows on the beach (or a pirate ship).

Butt Plant$24.99 including pot.  $14.99 without.  And you could instead go for a cheaper pot option.  Like this. Or this.  Sure these plants look like butts!  But they are unique… and you could have a whole butt army of them after the wedding. Plus its green to buy reusable flowers/plants.  I’m not sure if all Ikeas have these but they had them in Orlando.

Spidery PlantFor $6.99 a cheaper option and less buttish.

Watering PotSimplistic and pretty unique!  Only $1.99!  Put punch in here or an orchid.  Ikea sells orchids for $12.99.  Perfect for an outside/classic white wedding.

VasesInterlocking vases for $1.99 each.  Not sure if it comes in a three pack for that… if not then its $6 for the set.  Still affordable and pretty.  Get six and they form a nifty circle.  Or if you and your hubby have curvy initials (C, S, J…) you could spell them out in vases.  Fill it with candy or flowers or sand.  Comes in pink shades!  I could probably show a million cute vases by Ikea… but I instead encourage you to look around their site.

Sand ColorColored sand/rocks for $1.99.  I suspect you can do this cheaper, if not with white sand and dye.  But if you aren’t so DIY this means in one trip you could get the vase, sand and candles all in one fell swoop.

Alternatives

No Ikea near you?  These options can be awesome…  Just go to their home decor section.  Probably won’t be as “one stop shop”ish though.

  • T.J. Maxx – got me some awesome beachy reeds here on the cheap.
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond – They always have coupons and they always honor them even if they are expired.
  • Bealls – Florida only.
  • Goodwill – Help out a charity and if you are lucky find a good selection.  This takes more scrounging but especially if you are looking for a mismatched bohemian style this might be the perfect option for you.
  • Target – I’ll refrain from suggesting Walmart as well… But there are some fun cheap options at both of these places.

So happy shopping!

Breathe Deep Seek Deals – S

P.S.  While you are at it buy a box to organize/hold your wedding DIY stuff.  Stress Level–.  Get a set of two and use it as well to separate what you need for the ceremony and what you need for the reception.

But life is good!

So lots going on in the life of Sheila Suarez. Nothing note worthy educational enough to “blog” about that isn’t just personal funness/work. But I felt bad about not posting and rather then resisting here we go… a status update.

Listy List of Stuffs

  • Launched a departmental application on 4/30 so that’s been consuming my life.  LEARNED a lot about how to successfully launch an application, especially when its in house.  Lots of consultation and baby kissing.  In the end, things are sorting themselves out and despite the little resources we had, it was successful.  Thank god for my development team…  I know eventually I’ll relate what I learned… when the wounds aren’t so fresh.  Still a long way to go with this puppy.

    Dredbeard Poster I made
    Made this.

  • Start of the semester at work as well… busy busy busy times.
  • Got a stomach flu from drinking a free sprite margarita while in Mexico… Yea, probably shouldn’t have done that. It was not fun and hit me 5 days after the cruise.  Austin’s mom got it too and was diagnosed so by her doctor.  Which is good to know because I was highly suspicious of all food until then as I had no clue what got me sick.  But it helped me lose the 4 lbs I put on during the cruise!
  • Went to Charleston Lindy Exchange in Charleston (CHEX 4).  Really loved the city though we only really got to peruse it for two hours or so.  Maybe loved it because I was able to locate awesome beer within 20 minutes.  Reminded me of a southern Boston.  Love beer?  Go here if you visit Charleston.
    • Won first place in a solo Charleston Contest at CHEX!  Super awesome fun and feeling pretty good despite needing to get back in shape.  Last round was battle style which was interesting.  Austin got to the finals in the Jack N Jill.
    • Orlando brought like 30 million people to the exchange. Bonded more with my fellow Floridians then Charleston peeps! It was a surprisingly fun/relaxing event despite lack of sleep & having to go straight from and to work. Best part was the beach… because lord knows I don’t take the time to do that while in FL.
  • Djaustin debuted tonight at UCF. So proud… 🙂  Though he did play a 300 bpm song during the finals of a Jack N’ Jill I was in…  Got 2nd!
  • Wedding planning is slow but steady… been helping out my Maid of Honor a lot since she just got engaged.  Made her a site.  Starting/planned out my invitations, bought boutonniere, veil & center piece supplies & finalized our rings.  I’m gonna hate myself for doing so many DYI projects.  But it saves money and I like being creative!  This weekend I get to see one of my brides maids and make centerpieces with her!  Next weekend while in St. Pete for Swing Dance USA we’ll be doing location visiting.  So that shall be nice.
  • Dieting is a uphill battle.  Must. Concentrate.

So that’s basically it.  The summer proves to get even crazier…

Flllooowerrrsss – S

Ready to embrace deadly sin #3 and #7? Take a cruise! Food, food, food, food, food, food, laying around, lots of fatness, red neon burns and food. People say they want to lose weight for a cruise but honestly as long as you take neck up pictures, cruises are the safest fat zones ever. Because there will always be someone fatter than you, redder than you & wearing less clothes than you.

But enough of the pithiness.  I enjoy cruises. Though they make me feel slightly guilty in their extravagance.  They are pound for pound (literally) the best value you can get from a vacation and a nice departure from the usual hectic, you have to remember to do stuff vacations.  Because the beauty about the cruise is, other than liquor, souvenirs and some tipping, everything is paid for up front.  So all you have to do is show up.  Then you can meander the ship, either taking advantage of the onslaught of onboard activities (karaoke, mini golf, wall climbing, etc) or just catch some sun with a drink.  And I don’t even like sun.  Then all of a sudden you arrive in an exciting location for 8 hours but even then you could stay on the boat.  If you do get off the boat, you can meander around that exciting location and then meander back on boat.  I say this with great love for my fiance but our first cruise we fought for exactly zero percent of the time.  And that’s not to say we fight a lot but usually with vacations/site seeing there’s bound to be at least a small tiff.  With cruises they take out the messy part of “having to be responsible for yourself” in order to enjoy yourself or get somewhere.  That leads to a very stress free vacation.  Especially if you don’t have the internet so can’t check work email.  I’m sure there were ways to get to it but I did not look…

My History With Ships

Austin and I have taken two cruises in the last year:

  1. Royal Caribbean  – Monarch of the Seas – 3 days – Bahamas & Coco Cay – for our 4 year anniversary.
  2. Carnival – Inspiration – 5 days – Grand Caymens & Couzumel – took our mom’s as their christmas present

We were frightened about trying Carnival after a SUPER awesome first cruise with Royal Caribbean.  We heard that it just wouldn’t be up to snuff.  To be honest we found ourselves constantly and sometimes obnoxiously comparing Carnival to Royal Caribbean (“Well you know on Royal Cariiibbeaaannn…”) BUT the difference was not that stark.  And while we liked Royal Caribbean better, Carnival was still VERY good and we would take a cruise with them again, especially since they are cheaper.  You get what you pay for but you still get a pretty good deal!

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: Sudden Death

Some key comparisons and tips (sorry for the table style… you’ll have to imagine the borders):

Criteria Royal Caribbean Carnival Stuff To Know
Food Pretty Impressed! Wasn’t as impressed but still delectable. Good selection on both. Pretty much unending food. Carnival might have had more nonstop food.  Pace yourself… its not going anywhere.
Dining Methods If you pay your tips when buying your tickets (there’s an obligatory $7-$10 per person per day tip) you can get “My Time Dining”. Which means you have to select a time block (early or late) but each day you can go to the Maitre De and select a specific time and server depending on your mood. We got to know our server (Tony!) so we always asked for him. You then can show up at that time and get sat straight away rather then waiting. It’s European style though, as in, you get sat possibly with other groups. But we enjoyed the chance to meet other people and on our anniversary celebration date they sat us alone on request. We really enjoyed this method of dining. They also have the option of sit down breakfast. Carnival once again you choose Early or Late but there is only one seating time. Though they would still sit you if you come late. You also get an assigned table which is nice but we missed meeting random people at dinner. One thing nice which Royal Caribbean may have had but perhaps we didn’t take advantage of was you could have sit down dining for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. We preferred this rather than buffet style, very relaxing. For Breakfast and Lunch you get sat randomly sometimes with others groups.  Tip per day is paid at the end. Cruise sit down dining is certainly an experience… an extravagance. I just never truly was able to sit down and order five entrees if I wanted without one single care of the bill. Because there is no bill. In fact, on Royal Carribean since we were the last dining group they PUSHED us to order more, because it was going to go to waste anyway. Both also offer free room service. Which we never took advantage of.   Bring extra cash if you want to reward your favorite servers.  Which they will become your chums and you will want to.
Service Amazing!! Very good. Very close to Royal Caribbean. Maybe not as lavish though? It’s AMAZING what good service you get even though your servers aren’t asking for a tip. I was expecting to have crappy service but cruise service is the best I’ve ever had. Both cruiselines employ people from allll over the world and they take their job seriously and with pride. It was very interesting and fun to meet such diverse and happy people. I still remember everyone who served us as they really become part of our vacation experience. Thanks Tony, Slavko, Rado & Aslam! But honestly I found overall that service is better over seas, so perhaps its the “take your time and dine” mentality of europe and aisa I like. I could sit for hours in a Parisian bistro/cafe with only a cup a coffee without any dirty looks from the server…. not so much in the US. But then again servers more have to rely on tips in the states it seems. Tipping is not obligatory overseas. Hence why foreigners get a bad rap when they come to the US, as they are not used to tipping.
Onboard Activities Rock climbing, dance shows, trivia gameshows, gambling, gamboling, karoake, ping pong, live music, weird old people grinding night clubs, meetups & lots of sun. Same stuff only not as good dance shows and minigolf and water slides instead of Rock Climbing. We did less on this cruise but the quality seemed fine and they were better about announcing things coming up. Do as little or as much as you want. Most activities are free, some have fees like wine tastings. Both will have a daily newsletter keeping you up to date.
Cabin Nice, clean, small, dark. Bigger! I suppose this depends on the ship but we were very impressed on the size and cleanliness. People were constantly cleaning and tje rooms were immaculate. For a cheaper cruise we were impressed. They also had this feature which was a fake window (pictures to follow/really it was a curtain with a light behind it) which at first I laughed at but was pretty nice, made it feel less like a closet. The fake window did not follow daylight outside so you could keep it dark if you wanted. Surprisingly enough though Carnival’s rooms were not as dark as Royal Caribbean’s so it wasn’t as disorientatingly tomb like. I think the door wasn’t as tight? You can take that as a plus or minus. I like to be buried. Bring a watch… your cellphone will not be reliable and while they have wake up calls you will want to not TOTALLY lose your sense of time. Our first cruise we forgot and ended up buying one on the boat. Water proof is best.  This is also useful for when you are off the boat and need to know when to return.
Alcohol We were to scared to sneak on alcohol though we heard of many people successful on the ship (disguising it as soda or just checking it). We ended up spending quite a bit on alcohol, but the drinks were priced at a reasonable bar price and well mixed and strong. Tipping was appreciated and you could choose the amount. Mixed drinks sucked. And seemed more expensive. Also, the tip was included. BUT Carnival allows you to bring on a 750ml bottle of wine per person for the departure day. We filled the bottles with colored vodka and corked them. It was excellent. So we ended up saving money on that. Still spent a lot of money though… Great thing about Cruises is that you can buy cheap alcohol to take home after the cruise. Sometimes buy one get one! We always stock up. They do not let you have it until you leave so that’s not an option for drinking on the boat. One thing to note is that if you want to buy alcohol off the ship, lets say Grand Caymans you have to do it as much as 2 hours before departure so they can deliver it to the ship. We got burned on this. But at Couzumel you could carry it on and check it! So you’ll want to check on this at each port of call, as ships don’t really advertise it as they want you to buy on board. Also, both cruiselines allow you to take on soda in your checked baggage. You can use this as a trojan horse just to ensure your alcohol doesn’t get confiscated. I heard some stories of that. Or you could use it to bring on soda/water/juice… Soda you have to pay for. But you can get a soda pass which makes it cheaper. Side note: on Royal Caribbean cappuccinos at dinner you had to pay for (Carnival it was free).
Decor Very nice. Very crazy disco casino (perhaps to encourage you to go to the casino). But it was an older ship. My mom was not drinking and claimed that looking at the main atrium lights for more then 15 minutes made her feel drunk. Also really dark in the main atrium… rather then light and airy. Just strange. But not tooo obnoxious. You’ll see in the pictures to follow… Also the main buffet room looked like the inside of an alien that swallowed you.
Off the Boat/Excursions Did one snorkel trip in Bahamas. Was nice! Did none. Found a local excursion to do. Both cruiselines seem to offer a variety of excursions. But two things to note: 1. Will be more expensive then going on a tour given by the locals. 2. They will leave you if you get delayed by your tour if you are on a tour that is noncruiseline affiliated. So its up to you. Pay more but be secure? Or pay less and risk being left? But to be honest, if you just take tours with buffer time, you will most likely be fine. In Grand Caymans, we took a 3 hour Sting ray petting/snorkeling excursion and it ROCKED and was at least $60 cheaper per person then the boat one. Technically you don’t even have to plan that far ahead though we made reservations. Just walk off the boat, peruse the different signs for local tours bombarding you as you get off the boat and go! Don’t get robbed. ;p I would say, if you are interested in snorkeling, bring your own gear for islands you can snorkel right off the beach (Coco Cay, Couzumel). Otherwise you have to pay $40 to rent them. In Couzumel we just rented a jeep and drove around stopping and ruins and beach side bars. It was only $70 with insurance and a lot of fun! Though potentially nerve wracking of the place has bad traffic.

So overall both good.

Picture Recap

Just a few pictures from our last Carnival cruise. A few more here….

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Austin with our corked vodka. You could probably get screw top and glue it to look like its sealed.

100_1391
Carnival Room. It’s roomy! We have a window!

It's a lie!
Or its a terrible lie…

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Dress up night with our lovely mothers.

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Tattoo’d and white.

Dancing with Aslam
Dancing with Aslam our Waiter

Dance and you Will be Their God
Man dance a little in the crazy disco atrium and you become a cruise star. Old people love to see swing dancing.

So I guess that’s it! Try a cruise even if you hate the sun like me! Because some sun is good. And relaxation is even better. Also check out: http://www.vacationstogo.com/. Never have done me wrong.  Though a travel agent helped us find a single for cheaper on our last cruise.

Next I review Tom Cruise – S

So I may be too ambitious but you can’t say I’m not creative!  Tonight at my second Quilt meetup I started planning my first real quilt project, a mario piranha plant quilted jersey scarf.

Because I of course can’t do something simple and want to do something customized (as evidence by such projects as… my wedding), I made my own pattern. Cuz heck, if you are going to spend the time, might as well make it a keeper!  And then never bear to/want to get rid of it and live like a person on Hoarders.

This is how I did it…

DISCLAIMER: I will not claim that I researched this like an intelligent human being (though after wards I didn’t find any good digital way to do it) or it is the best way to do it BUT SO FAR I do not regret it (i.e. in the last 4 hours).  And it only took about 3 hours of solid planning.

  1. Picked out the fabric at Joann Fabrics!  Too much of it!  Or so my quilting sensei suspects.  I suspect as well.  Really I should have made the pattern/cutlist first THEN estimated how much fabric to buy.  But it was on sale and I’m impulsive!  Maybe if this works out I can make like 4 of them… This step also included brainstorming with Austin (as I’m making the scarf for him), overriding his choice and planning the design in my head.
  2. Found a picture on the internetz of what I was going for.
  3. Decided how large I wanted the scarf to be and how big the basic block would be.  I decided on  1’6″x6′ scarf with a 2″x2″ basic “building” block.  Needed the blocks to be smaller since I need detail within a small width.  I might end up making it longer on a whim… but for now I plan 6′.
  4. Created a Mockup in Photoshop:
    1. Cropped the picture to the bare basics of what I needed to plan out (minus the sky trim).
    2. I calculated that with the 2″ sky trim I had seven 2″ blocks across to fit in my image.
    3. Sized the picture to have a 50px to 1″ ratio.  Probably should have made it easier on myself and made the picture actual size… but my computer might have died.  Keep in mind I was more worried about width then length since the middle part of the scarf is just repeated over and over.
    4. Used guides to mark out my 2″x2″ blocks or 100px by 100px, in the case of an image file. This is the result:Marking out Guides in Photoshop
    5. Then using the Rectangle Shape Tool and Polygonal Lasso Tool and my eye, I marked where I saw blocks.  I ensured all these layers were in one folder so at any time I could hide them and see the original. I tried to never go smaller than 1″ sections or have too many crazy triangles or shapes, in order to keep things simple (I’m not totally stupid).  After some haggling this is what I arrived at (neatness was not my aim as long as I understood the relation):My patch mockup!Also you will notice I added some extra guides for the sections I was going to have to break down into 1″ height, this will be explained more shortly…
  5. Now I needed to put this more in a pattern format with inches and such so I could come up with a cut list.  I used Excel!  There has to be a better way to do this… and I kinda made up my only pattern language to accomplish this. The big issue was not being able to merge horizontally… or denote triangles.  Probably should have just played with the grid feature in Photoshop and called it a day… The BEST way was PROBABLY to use graph paper and colored pencils… but I’m a digital girl who doesn’t want to hold on to paper and wants to reuse her patterns so I used excel on google docs.  Quilting on the cloud!  So here it is, explanation to follow…Excel Pattern
    1. Marked out my inches and feet and created squarish cells!  I then saved a copy of it blank for a future use template!  Programming FTW!
    2. I used symbols to denote mixed squares and then colored it with the first color encountered from left to right.  So b/r was a diagonally halfed square with blue in the top left cornerhalf and red in the bottom right cornerhalf.  So r\b would be the mirrored effect.  For the weirder triangles I used symbols such as w>b which meant there was a white triangle chomping through the middle of a blue square from the left.  Or b^r would be a blue triangle chomping through a red square, sprouting up through the bottom.  Vertically split pieces were easier, I used use a pipe (ha!).  So dg|g was dark green on the left and green on the right.
    3. I used some directions to show placement.  Like for the random 1’x1′ in one of the corners of a 2″x2″ I would use wtr or “white top right”.
    4. Any time the pattern suddenly was broken into 2″ by 1″ squares I highlighted the inch indicator to remind myself.
    5. Now the middle part is just repeated so that’s where it says 17-8 or “see row 17 through 18”.
    6. Mirroring was no fun.. but I figured it out. Nuff said.

Next Steps

That’s it so far! Now I must…

  1. Strategically mark out what blocks I will sew together THEN cut rather then do every square separately and what order to sew them together. I will most likely have to print out the excel to wrap my head around this (like this smart lady did)…
  2. Count how many cuts of what dimensions I need, my cut list.
  3. Cut and lay it out.
  4. Sew… Cut… Sew… Repeat…

I enjoyed this.  It was like a puzzle. – S

P.S. For the back I’m using a pattern from a book!  To actually learn standardized pattern instructions… It will be a simple scattered pattern of light blue, blue and white (to stand for the sky).

P.P.S.  I will post my final pattern for use after I finish the cut list.

So I’ve been a bit “involved” lately in the community & work related functions and completed my first Relay for Life this past Friday which benefits the American Cancer Society.  I wasn’t too involved until the end but it was a new experience, great charity & I hope to make it a tradition.  Here are some of my reflections from the event.

My History With Cancer

I do not have cancer but in the recent years have had several close people around me affected by it.  And to be honest it scares the crap out of me.  My grandfather at 92 had a VERY brief battle with it/decline and died in 2008.  As the doctor said, really in the end with prolonged lives due to medicine, cancer is what usually gets us.  The older the cells the greater the chance for mutation and mishaps.  Taboo or not I will say cancer can be natural.  Perhaps with overpopulation (creating pollution) and longer life spans, its just bound to happen, a natural leveler.   That does not mean though that we shouldn’t look for ways to prevent it and sustain the population we have through the same brilliance that brought us the medicine that lowered the mortality rate in the first place.

In 2008 (year of the cancer), my cousin Kaitlyn was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  She had one relapse but is now cancer free!  I’ve had several interesting conversations with her during her battle and the experience has matured her greatly.  It pains me she had to experience it at such a young age (15) but it has shaped her for better or worse.  And honestly knowing her it will be for the better as she hopes to go into medical school due to her experiences.  I can not imagine what she went through and I know that it is something that she will carry with her the rest of her life.  As will I.

So here we have two cases, one possibly inevitable and one so shockingly close to home to someone so healthy and vibrant.  And I think that’s what scares me so much about cancer, it is a disease from within, a lurking lump, pain or otherwise, a weakening, with what we know almost random discretion in its victims.  What we know so far.  Perhaps that’s what makes it so much scarier than heart disease or even something contagious that can be prevented by just eating well or not touching your eye, that it is so mysterious.  Though of course there are obvious causes like nuclear waste…  And while we know how to detect it early and try to prevent it, we need to learn more.

The Relay is Not a Race

So that’s the first thing I learned.  It really is just a community event where groups can hold fundraising tents and as participants take turns lapping the track they can purchase wares, dunk people, throw darts, donate, bond and otherwise. Where I work (CDL/Online@UCF) put together a group (thank you Amy!) and our theme was Scrabble or “Scrabbling for a Cure”.
Austin & I at Relay for Life

I spent most of my time hocking our wares (man I’m good at selling when I believe in the product/its for charity) of scrabble treats. People love themselves a rice crispy treat with a letter on it.  But ask yourself, When was the last time you had a Rice Krispy treat? It was another good company event and in the end an excoworker bought the goodies we had left (though we sold a lot!) and we walked around giving them away for free.  Which by the way, its actually easier to sell baked goods than give them away.  People are suspicious.

 Corey, Kitzzy, Eileen, me, Sue and Amy

Corey, Kitzzy, Eileen, me, Sue & Amy

Charity for the Sake of…

A few reflections occurred to me about, What is the point of charity? I’m not questioning its validity but really its main target.  And perhaps it is moot to try to hone it down to such a black and white question.  Someone at the event expressed that some of the organizers were disappointed that as they got more students involved less money was made.  Basically the event was really not very profitable due to professionals being scared off and students being less well off. BUT there is still the thought, is it better to get young people involved in charity and learning about prevention or make more money towards research?

Because, who are we kidding, 50 cent brownie with a “T” on top is but a “drop in the bucket” BUT perhaps more of its worth is its symbolism.  That’s some deep brownie.

It seems that a great deal of the actual “gallon in the bucket” contributions comes from private benefactors actually effected by the cause.  So is it a trickle up effect?  Fraternity member holds a “Root Beer Pong for the Cure” station, forgets about it, has a sister die of cancer & donates 5 million?  Or Fraternity member talks to his dad, who talks to this person, who donates?  Or fraternity member learns about early screening and saves his life?  Or all three?

Either/all ways American Cancer Society is a great foundation so check it out.  And perhaps the point is charity sometimes is worth it just for sake of getting people active in the community and to learn about the cause.  All though in the end… money may be what makes the cure go round.

$$$ – S

EDIT: Check out: Betsy’s UCF Relay for Life Album

So the masses want to know how far I’ve gotten in my wedding planning. So let me introduce our special day… so far. I’m doing this in a brief list summary of our steps in chronological order with some insight inserted.

So Austin asked me to marry him on July 2nd, 2009 (you can read about it here) and we set about wedding planning…

  1. We let everyone know!  And picked our wedding party.
  2. The date: 10.10.10. Why?
  3. Location: This was our primary concern since this is a popular date, and securing a location would secure the date. I’ll be honest we kinda went into it blind and probably could have saved money if we a) did it in our family’s hometown (Port St. Lucie) or b) done some research. We ended up just driving over to St. Petersburg two hours away, a location we have sentimental attachment to, going to a few places my mom found and choosing! We couldn’t make a decision between our two favorites so we chose both! Still they are affordable and fun, so no regrets here. Really Austin and I aren’t super outdoorsy but we wanted to design a wedding that would be very “Florida” since many of our guests will be out of towners taking their vacation. Austin and I would elope in a second our real goal is to have an intimate, fun and awesome excuse for everyone to get together and party.
    • Rehearsal dinner at Ceviche – The small restaurant chain which is our absolute favorite and where we celebrated our engagement.  This will be photo themed and we already are picking out some oldies but goodies from our albums.  As per tradition we are keeping this to family and bridal party.
    • Ceremony at Sunken Gardens -A hidden gem in St. Petersburg we will be exchanging vows under a 200 year old oak canopy.  Below is my mama & Austin in the pavilion.Sunken Gardens
    • Bus them all over to Honey Moon Island – The beach is ours after sunset as we party in an open air pavilion!  Pavilion at Honey Moon Island

      We are keeping decorations to a minimum, because why do we need it when we have the beach/jungle as our decoration? Also less stress and stuff to throw away afterwards… Luckily the reception location has a set tasty caterer which includes everything.. makes it simple.  Also, shortly after our location trip we secured a block of rooms at a nearby hotel, VERY important for a destination wedding.

  4. Budget: We kind of started this before location shopping (and really should have finalized it before) but we definitely finalized it before signing the contracts! Just wanted to insert this to show how important it is although it may be awkward to sit down with your family discuss it.  See what they can contribute and ensure no matter what you can cover it!
  5. Guest List: This was very very hard, in fact the hardest part for me so far in the process. I know a lot of people and want them there, but with us trying not blow our whole nest egg we decided to limit the event to close family and bridal party. Besides it will be more intimate and HOPEFULLY I can spend time with each guest. A few others slipped in, but I had to be as assertive as possible with ourselves and our family. LUCKILY Sunken Gardens’ Oak Pavilion can only accommodate 75, so that helps keep us on track.  Before the wedding we are hoping to have a sendoff dance/party with the rest of our buds.
  6. Color Scheme: I first started with a pink and brown scheme but then switched over to a tropical peacock theme shortly after selecting our location.  Brown in a jungle would be bad… I used Kuler by Adobe to create the color palette.  I am a BIG proponent of getting this decided a.s.a.p. and just sticking with it (not that I’m great about staying on theme…), so that you can move forward with designing your wedding.  Kuler makes it easy and it’s free!
    Bridal Pallette

    Austin and I are peacock colors. Although I’ve never met a peacock I liked… but it’s pretty and tropical! Tee hee!

    Brides' Maids Dresses

    Bridal Party Color Scheme: Each of the ladies will be a different Florida Flower!

  7. Now we had a theme I designed us a logo. Branding is important to me… its the one piece of glue keeping this A.D.H.D. wedding together!
  8. Austin and Sheila's Logo

  9. Website – http://wedding.austinandsheila.com created!  Very important for getting the information out quickly to all those needing to know information, especially if they are traveling far.  We asked people to early r.s.v.p. and that’s been SEMI successful… not really. Hopefully they’ll be better when they get the invitation.
  10. Brides Maid’s Dresses – Coordinating via email we picked these out and ordered them.  I’ll leave them as a surprise.  I’m glad we did it so quickly because if you are going with traditional bridesmaids dresses IT TAKES SOOOO LONG for them to come in.  We ordered them in January and they won’t be in until May… All my bridesmaids are out of state, in fact two are over seas!  Thank god for gmail/googledocs and the internet.
  11. Save-the-Dates – We had soooo many different ideas on how to announce our date.  We ended up throwing in another facet to our tropical wedding, a tourist/destination feel.  So I came up with these magnets (ordered from vistaprint.com) that we attached postcard backs to:

    save the date

    I sent this to my maid of honor with no envelope to test if sending a big magnet in the mail as a postcard would work (sorry hard drives it came into contact with).  But it showed up a little torn.  So we ended up keeping the postcard back but mailing it in an envelope.  Bummer but let me sleep at night.

  12. Engagement Photos – An engagement photo shoot is super fun and if your photographer offers it, go for it!  Awesome to document this wonderful time of your life, as well as, great content to use in your invitations or website if you design them. Austin luckily is a big ham so we had a lot of fun, despite the cold, as our good friend and photographer Hilary Mercer took us on an all day shoot.  Check out the results. Austin and I really only planned the first location (Lake Claire) and the two sets of outfits.  From there we just roamed the city!
  13. Bride’s Attire: I did not want to spend a lot on a dress that I would never wear again and knowing my eccentric tastes neither would any daughter, that I may spawn, want to wear it either.  I anticipate a “trash the dress” shoot… I found my best option was prom dresses!  MANY of the dresses could be ordered in white, still very princessy, LIGHT & cheaper. When I tried on traditional gowns I felt heavy and hot. Plus, what else is a wedding but your dream prom that you spend a lot of money on? One where you most certainly are prom queen and king?  I’m going to keep my dress a secret but it is most awesome.  I saw it online, hunted it down, tried it on & fell in love.  As for the veil that is being pieced together because I’m crafty, with the help of some accents I bought from etsy.com.
  14. Honey Moon/Registry:  With little else to turn my attention to as most is planned or must wait until closer to the date, I started attacking our honey moon.  Austin and I have it mostly set and at least purchased our initial tickets to Madrid.  We have decided instead of asking for traditional home goods, we would like our guests to purchase us portions of our rockin’ honeymoon.  We have been living together for four years so home goods… we got.  But a rockin’ honeymoon?  That’s new.  Here’s a sneak peak at our registry set up through honeyfund.com. Our itinerary is  ALMOST set, we might simplify it, but otherwise we are super excited.    I’m sure I will in the future post a long diatribe about the dos and don’ts of planning this kind of trip.
  15. Cake Topper: Put down our deposit on one by Sophia’s Workshop on Etsy.com. She did one for a friend of mine and I can’t WAIT to start the design process.  Check her out but keep in mind she has a waiting list.
  16. Rings: This we just finished yesterday!  Austin bought me a very unique engagement ring that requires a customized interlocking band to not look all goofy.  Horrible resolution picture of initial ring:Enagement Ring

    Sketch of new ring! Notice how they wrap together? That’s the original diamond in the center.
    Sketch of my band.

    We decided to follow a Victorian tradition I read about in some book (really authoritative huh?) of using the stones to spell out a message/word.   Mine will have either aquamarine tear drop stones standing for Austin, or if I can figure out a good blue “F” stone, an aquamarine, the diamond from my engagement ring and then the “F” stone making Austin David Flores.  Suggestions?  Austin’s ring will have two sapphires laid out mimicking my ring, standing for Sheila Suarez.  I don’t have a picture of his ring (oops) but its a thinner lighter (good for dancing) matte white gold band with polished cut edge.

So… that’s basically it!  Many are surprised at either the geekiness/nonswing orientatedness of our wedding (including myself on the latter) but it’s all about family and joy and I like it damn it.  Plus very few of our guests swing dance. :/ Though they will in fact cut a rug. Any way we shall not be pigeonholed, we are a many faceted duo!

We are in the process now of finalizing Austin and his groom’s outfits, creating the overall structure of our ceremony which will be administered by my maid of honor, then on to program designing, invitation designing, losing weight, flowers, center pieces, dj set list (we are just running a MP3 player), favors & finally some tastings!  Maybe I do have quite a bit to do in the next 6 months…

Now you know. – S

Just a few choice photos. More here.

Online@UCF Team
Most of our Team! Kitzzy our lovely organizer of course on the phone.

5k Virgins
5k Virgins… Austin did not want to take this picture.

You can do it!
AFFIRMATION SHIRT! YEA!

Jason with Helmet Cam
Voyeur… Jason Cam He still finished in like 24 minutes with that camera on his head…

Thumbs up!
Thumbs!! Please note that they have invented a contraption to replace pins to hold your number. What will they think of next?

Walking to the start
12k people…

Chuck, Sheila, and Sherry at start
Chuck, Sherry and I at the start!

Sheila and Sherry ready to go!
All Thumbs!

nothing but thumbs – S

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