Friday, March 01, 2013

Nicole (the other) Graduation Pictures

I get this question a lot (not because I'm a good photographer or have a really expensive nice camera...but because I have a decent camera and LOVE taking pictures): "Would you be able to take some pictures for us?"

It usually comes from family. It has come from a couple friends but most often from family. While I may not be able to capture the magnificent shots that Anne Geddes gets with children, shoot weddings and portraits as beautifully as my beautiful (and wonderfully talented) friend Rene of Rene Tate Photography, or be the next Annie Leibovitz, I do really enjoy being behind my camera and getting to capture a few images that will simply never transpire ever again. And the best part is I can get a good shot here or there and my family doesn't have to pay tons of money for images they can't otherwise afford.

So it was no surprise when I got a random text from one of my cousin's asking if I could take a few shots of her for her graduation announcements (she is graduating from UNC-Greeley at the end of May) and a couple of them together. Last minute. Translation: could they be there the next day and I could take a few shots.

Sure why not?! I haven't been behind my Canon Rebel XS for quite some time.

Next quandary: what sort of photos was she wanting exactly and what sort of backdrop (scenery, urban, etc.). Lastly, would the bipolar Colorado weather allow for us to take some decent photos?

When she showed up she was uncertain, I had few ideas, and then my brother threw out the idea of the historical farmhouse right across the street from our housing development. On one side of the street sits classic residential neighborhoods of Brighton. On the other side is historical farmland, one portion, indefinitely protected since it has been instated as a national historic site. The farmhouse has been somewhat restored on the outside (sans windows) while the barn, silo, and miscellaneous buildings remain dilapidated and decaying. Perfect for those of us with a little bit of country roots!

So off we went. The sun was shining magnificently (albeit too it was at the very top of the afternoon when the sun sits highest in the sky), blue skies, and a little bit of mud. Funny enough a blizzard warning was issued mid-shoot but it didn't matter. We spent about a half hour with Nicole finding a few spots she thought she might want to shoot.

Like I said, they aren't THE BEST portraits in the world. But for a quick 30-min session, during a part of the day when the sun was shining and blue skies, I'll take it on a fast-paced schedule.

I hope that she finds a couple in this stack that she enjoys and that will work for her. If not, we will just have to do it all over again! :-) 


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jewelry Holder and Picture/Memo Board

A few more projects that I was able to finish:

The first one was a couple of picture/memo boards that I made after finding the idea/tutorial here at Shanty-2-Chic. Really easy and really simple to make :-) I actually made two of them, one for my sister-in-law and one for a co-worker.

 This is the one I made for my sister-in-law. She loves the brilliant colors (too bad the clip ended up covering the peacock face...)
Both finished products.
Another thing I wish I would have done is distressed them a bit more...I figured that they will probably get distressed enough on their own but I should have sanded them down a wee bit.

The next project that I did was to make a jewelry holder for the same sister-in-law. There is no tutorial for this one (and unfortunately I didn't take pictures as I went). However it was really simple. 
Here's what you need:
-an old picture frame (hello thrift stores!) 
-cup hooks
-chicken wire mesh
-staple gun
-small pieces of cloth (optional)

I tried to duplicate the crackle finish from Shanty-2-Chic. The crackle did not work too well, at least not what you can see in the pictures, but if you see it in person up close you can see some. I just think I didn't do it right. 

Once that was finished I cut out the appropriate size of the chicken mesh and then stapled it to the frame. Lastly I painted and screwed in the cup hooks around the frame to provide a way to hang necklaces and other jewelry. (Earrings are hung on the chicken mesh). I rooted a few holes with a drill bit and then simply screwed the cup hooks into the holes. Easy peasy! 

Here's the finished product. 

Sneak peak of my next project:

Hanging Lake in Winter

The past month has been an eventful one, and quite the whirlwind of new emotions.

To begin with, no longer am I known as Nicole A C***. Rather I am Nicole A C***, RN, BSN!!!!
That's right folks. I am a Registered Nurse :-) I passed my exam on February 5th and was issued my license number by the end of the day February 6th!! What a great feeling to have finally reached my goal. Now only to find an RN job. Been working on that one....
However, I will say, I'm not quite sure how they gauge anyone is appropriate to be a nurse. I walked out of that test utterly convinced that I had failed. I knew not a single answer to any question.

Next, I have stepped back into the dating world! That's right, after 2+ years of being single, I dipped my toes back into the world of dating. Um can we please admit how scary...and exciting...that is! With that, I will mention no more on the subject.

Lastly, a little getaway to Glenwood Springs was had last week. I thought it a good idea that since I have been continuing to work crazy hours since school stopped, that I should take a week off of work. With that, a little overnight trip to Glenwood Springs to enjoy the hot springs at night ensued. When we left Denver, it was snowing pretty good with a prediction of several inches to fall. Upon arriving in Glenwood, the skies were blue, the sun was out, and there was no fresh snow on the ground. An impromptu hike to Hanging Lake was decided upon. I have wanted to hike up there in summer. The pictures I have seen have been beautiful. I just have never traveled the couple hours to Glenwood Springs to do so.

I will interject and say that if you do go in winter, the hike is pretty simple and easy, pretty short in distance (a mere 1.2 miles) BUT it is quite slick, so if you go, make sure to back a sturdy jacket, gloves, and wear hiking boots with great traction (and/or ice spikes that you can slip over your shoes).

The last little bit of the climb was a little treacherous. I literally used the rail to hoist myself up. But once to the lake, it was absolutely stunningly beautiful!! So worth the entire time hiking up. Taking in the majestic and numerous icicles that are normally waterfalls was breath-taking, and to see the clear water underneath the frozen top layer was spectacular. Absolutely amazing!! So glad we decided to actually hike up it :-)

the view while on the hike (more near the top) 
 Upon first seeing the lake at the top of the hike
 aren't those icicles just amazing?!
 look at that crystal clear water
 taking in the view
 more icicles!!
a more vertical view of the
the top of the falls
 Eric and I with Hanging Lake in the background 
the sunset once we were back down at the bottom 

Like I said, if you get the chance to do this hike, DO IT! I will most definitely be hiking it again in the summer to get the wonderful contrast :-)  

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Fun With A Munchkin

I have one nephew, which is odd for me to say as I'm the OLDEST of four, and so far the only one still single. Two of my three younger brothers are already MARRIED, at least a year each. Makes me kinda feel like an old maid. But with one marriage also brought my first nephew, which I adore. I adore being Auntie Cole.

They recently moved to Cali but my sis-in-law will be coming back every 5-6 weeks to continue her job doing hair for her clientele here in Colorado. Which means on that week I'll get to see and spoil my nephew. Though I was working nights and exhausted, his smile greeted me each morning and I happily deprived myself of sleep to help take care of this cute little guy. It's always nice to have that special little bond.

I adore the times when I can play with him down on the floor, or I'm so tired but still trying to entertain him so I become a human jungle gym while I lightly rest. It's also cute when, as I'm getting ready and doing my routine, I get to carry him along with me, and can make it fun. Such as, for instance, when I throw one of my beanies on him while I'm getting ready to go brave the cold, and I have my own beanie on ;-) Makes for cute candid moments!!

Such a cute lil guy!! I can't wait to see him again in another month. Gonna miss his little laugh around here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

DIY - Mason Jar Lamp, T-shirt Blanket, Letter Photography Frame

One of the best parts of being done with that crazy accelerated nursing program was I was able to get a few projects done. Two were Christmas presents and the other was something for my own room. Of course, I can't take credit for any of these projects, I am a DIY blog junkie who loves to find inspiration and projects from all over the interwebs.

The first was a name sign for my sister-in-law Jenni for Christmas. Each year we do a name draw between all the kids with a $30 limit so that we don't go broke, as our family expands. I also enjoy hand-making things so of course I started searching for a fun idea. I can no longer find the original link where I found this project but it's fairly simple.

The materials:
-a scrap piece of wood or cheap wood from Home Depot (I used one that's 1" thick so it can easily be hung from a wall or propped up)
-cheap picture frames
-a little paint (acrylic...either craft paint or paint samples from Lowe's/Home Depot)
-some printed out alphabet photos
-hot glue gun

Because our last name is CARR, I bought four cheap photo frames costing $1 each from Wal-Mart. I removed the glass and backing to paint the frames the color I wanted (in this case a sunflower yellow), and then painted my scrap piece of wood (which I cut to the dimensions in length and width of how I wanted it to be proportioned. I then applied the glass and photos to the frames (gentle removing that little stand/partition from the back), and then glued the frames to the wood. Voila, easy and cheap project!! I did not apply the wall hangers to the back, as I wanted them to choose how they wanted to display it but those can be bought at any hardware store for about $1-$2 bucks, easily applied with a screwdriver and then hung onto the wall!!

My next project was for myself and I found it here at Color Me Glamorous. She has some really neat projects but given my obsession for mason jars and a need for a new lamp, I wanted to give it a go :-) I found some teal mason jars at a thrift store in Fort Collins ($5/each), the lampshade was on sale at Target awhile back for $4, and the lamp kit was $10 at Lowe's. To make this, simply follow her tutorial. You will need a drill and a glass drill bit (which can be purchased for ~$7 at Lowe's/Home Depot). When I was done, I added a little bit of colored rocks we had sitting around into the jar and voila, a brand new, fun, and unique lamp!!

My last project was a little bit more lengthy and included me really learning how to use a sewing machine! While I have used it in the past to make pillows, I had never used it to THIS extent before. Not to mention I also learned how to do the zig-zag pattern, and how changing the settings applies to the bobbin, presser foot, etc. Might I also add I was using my mom's sewing machine which is a full decade older than I am!! You can find the tutorial here at You're So Martha. She also has some great projects and I will readily admit, this one is pretty simple and she explains it SO well. So just head over there.

Anyway, my parents are Harley Davidson lovers. They get us t-shirts from Sturgis, Daytona Bike Week, and other biker occasions all the time. My brothers grow out of them or wear them out. So we decided to use all those shirts (plus some from thrift stores and some cheap bids from ebay) on one side, and then I got a piece of felt (on clearance from Joann Fabrics ~$5 for 8 yards!) to go on the back. I simply cut them to the dimensions I wanted (15"x15" as we wanted a huge blanket), and followed the tutorial instructions. The most intensive part was the amount of pinning that had to be done and redone on a blanket this side. Either way, it came out beautiful and my dad loves it. He has it laying on HIS side of the bed though it was for both of them. What a really cool way to personalize a hand-making something of meaning. Adds that little something extra special to the project!!

 The stack of t-shirts before I began cutting them with my template.
Determining my layout before I started pinning the blanket.
The finished project...sorry it's blurry, it was a quick camera picture before I had to hurriedly wrap it. Covert blanket operation was in full effect to finish it while my parents were at dinner one night. 

2013, where did 2012 go?!

Everyone said that this last year would go fast and indeed it has! On one hand it dragged on, incredibly long, but on the other hand it went by decently fast, though I didn't get to enjoy too much of it.

I can also tell it was busy by the lack of writing I have done, both here on my blog and in my journal. Only one journal entry for 2012 and I didn't even get a chance to finish it!! A few more made it up here but that's due to how fast and easy it is for me to type compared to handwritten entries.

This is a catch up.

Since my last entry, a lot transpired. Basically a lot of holidays, a lot of family, and tying up the ends of finishing nursing school. Quite a bit of studying (though not as much as I would have liked to say), a ton of work, and catching up on sleep. I've even gone so far as to actually bake and cook once or twice!! That my friends is saying something, both to how much time I have and the lack of other things to do, as most are aware that cooking/baking is not my passion.

 This year's Christmas was pretty low-key, which I thought was wonderful. Just my parents, us kids (minus Marsh, Jenni and Axel), and a pretty simple Christmas morning. We made Christmas dinner and then that night both my father and I headed to work. I decorated the tree and stair-case, as usual, and tried to make the house feel warm and inviting :-)
 This year my gifts were few and simple (though not exactly cheap!). I got what I asked for as both a graduation and Christmas gift. See on one hand I'm feminine, yet I also love powertools, anything that goes fast, and have started looking at getting my concealed carry. So for Christmas I asked for a subcompact pistol. What I got was a Glock Subcompact 9mm 26Gen (or 27Gen....can't remember).


My father took me shooting for the first time and I LOVED IT!! At first it was very awkward, getting used to holding a weapon that could kill someone if not handled properly, and adjusting to the kickback. But once I got it down I found it such a thrill! And might I add, I turned out to not be too shabby of a shot :-)

This is just a random picture of me....that I took right after the finish of my VERY LAST CLINICAL!

This month has also marked a few milestones. On January 22nd, it was the 2-yr anniversary of losing my little Ethie. There is not a day that goes by that this little guy is not in my heart and thoughts. He is such a big part of my life that I carry with me every day. He influences how I desire to live my life, what I want to stand for, and how I want to be remembered. And ironically, I now share his same hairstyle, short and red! I miss him so dearly, every day, but look back with so much hope, love, and laughter of the memories I have with him. And his smile still greets me every day as his picture is in my bathroom and one at my bedside. What a wonderful way to always start my day :-)

 This month also marked one year since my bone marrow donation. I was able to make contact with my recipient and it has been such a blessing! What a wonderful thing, to be able to touch someone else's life!! To hear that she gets to spend another year full of holidays with family, friends, and her grandchildren, what an amazing gift. She also seems to have acquired my taste for chocolate and wine ;-) Never a bad thing to pass along.

 I have enjoyed being able to slow down and spend time with family, getting to know my nephew, and be a part of people's lives again. At this point in time, I'm waiting to hear back from The Children's Hospital Colorado, about whether I will get to join their Nurse Residency Program and will be taking my nursing boards in about a week or two. Another busy couple weeks but so blessed!! I also got to attend church for the first time in over a year. How wonderful is that?!?!