Small Town Waiting List

posted on: August 30, 2006

There are some things you can anticipate when moving to a smaller town, like less diversity, fewer restaurant options, less entertainment options, etc. However, one thing I was not able to predict was how difficult it would be to get our internet connected! There's only one cable company in town and apparently it takes them a month to set up cable internet for a new account. Does anyone else think a month is a ridiculous amount of time to wait?! Perhaps because there's no competition, customer service doesn't really matter either. So, my options are: mooching wireless internet from an open network in our building when it's available, spending all day at the coffee shop with wireless internet and hopped up on caffeine, or camp out in my husband's office at school. These are all OK for responding to email in short spurts, but none of these are solutions for extended uploading to my professional lab. It also puts a dent in being able to respond quickly and efficiently to requests. This is killing me!! Thanks for letting me vent!

Have a Great Weekend!

posted on: August 25, 2006

I'll be in Michigan again this weekend and back on Monday. See you soon!

Jeannette & Jason's Wedding

posted on: August 24, 2006

If I could name a queen of Do-It-Yourself weddings, it would have to be Jeannette! There were soooooo many handmade personal details that I can't possibly cover them all here, but I do think she had quite a bit of help from Jason, which is above and beyond for most grooms! Here he is making sure the off-road truck cake topper really does look like it's been through a trip in the "dirt"...

... and check out the ring bearer's "ring" box! (I guess a pillow wasn't manly enough for him!)

One of the ways that they really personalized their wedding was with tons of framed pictures of family members. I think all of the guests had a fun time looking at the pictures and seeing some great memories. Some people enjoyed them so much that they ended up taking their favorites home with them!

Their ceremony and reception were held at the historic Lafayette Grande in Pontiac, MI. The crystal ballroom has a perfect set up for watching the action on the dance floor.

One of the things that they felt was really important to include in their wedding was a way to remember important family members that had passed on. This can be tricky because you want to have the memory of those special people with you on your wedding day, but you don't want to turn your wedding into a memorial service. Jeanette & Jason were subtle with visual rememberances in picture frames on a mantle in the back of the chapel and a special pendant with Jeannette's mother's ashes on a memorial pillow. It's amazing how something so small can hold so much meaning.

Congratulations Jeannette & Jason!! I hope every day together is just as meaningful as your first day as man & wife! Click on any image to see more pictures from their wedding day.

Kelly & Brian's Wedding

posted on: August 21, 2006

Kelly is outgoing and talkative while Brian is reserved and quiet, which definitely makes this a case of opposites attract! However, when you see them together, you'd never think they were so different because as a couple, they compliment each other so well.

The ceremony and reception were held at Tina's Country House, and even though the sky was covered in clouds, the rain held off long enough for a beautiful outdoor ceremony. Thanks to the rain, I was able to grab this awesome shot of the groomsmen waiting with Brian in the parking lot before the ceremony started...

Speaking of groomsmen, the best man pulled a hilarious stunt by creating a larger than life poster of what Kelly & Brian's children might look like. I'm confident that their children will look much better than the oddly morphed picture you see here, but he definitely had the entire room rolling in laughter!

I think it was another set of friends that snuck these PEZ dispensers on the wedding cake when Kelly & Brian weren't looking, they were even nice enough to ask me if I already had pictures of the cake before they placed their little surprise. Definitely one of the coolest cake toppers I've seen!

There must be a lot of love in this group of friends because I already know of two other couples getting married in the next year!! I definitely think love is contagious and once you've caught the love bug, it's hard to get rid of. ;-) Congratulations Kelly & Brian!! Click on any image to see more images from their wedding day.

Miss me?

posted on: August 18, 2006

It's good to be back home. As much as I love the portability of a laptop, I think I've been spoiled by my 20" screen because now I find it impossible to look at images on anything smaller! The photography conference in Chicago was great with lots of great ideas and things to think about. I have a ton of notes to look back on when weddings start to slow down and a lot of ideas for the future. Here's a little overview of the week..

Saturday was a beautiful wedding in Livonia, MI just dripping with romantic florals and candlelight - it's a whole story in itself, so I'll save the details for another post. Sunday I had a great engagement session around Campus Martius and the Detroit Riverfront followed by a very long night of driving and stopping for construction on I-94 to Chicago.

On Monday, Jeff & Julia Woods gave me hope that there's room to grow in Terre Haute (they live in Peoria, IL). Monday night, Jules & Joy Bianchi joined me for a trip to the Chicago Pictage User Group meeting where David Jay stopped in to give one of his inspirational speeches about how we should stop killing ourselves in our work (AMEN!) Disclaimer: the following is a pretty horrible picture, but since it's really the only one of me this week, here ya' go..

(David Jay, Jules Bianchi, and me)

Tuesday we heard from Cliff Mautner about his philosophy on relationships as well as his use of light (he loves dramatic lighting as much as I do!) Wednesday, [b]ecker shared his workflow and branding strategies. Wednesday night I had a great engagement session on Navy Pier, but also learned that it takes 2 hours to get downtown from Arlington Heights during rush hour and that Navy Pier has it's own little rush hour after the fireworks. Thursday, Laura Novak gave us an opportunity to really evaluate our businesses and plan for the future. Overall it was a great week and I met a lot of really wonderful people from all over the globe.

The drive back last night was my first trip down U.S. 41 and let me just tell you right now, there isn't much to see between Chicago and Terre Haute, unless farmland really intrigues to you. There is, however, cheap gas along the way. ;-) In the city of Chicago, gas was around $3.30... but in the middle of the farming community, gas was only $2.89. Nice. The only food stop I made along the drive home was for an irresistible HOT, fresh, Krispy Kreme Doughnut. Doughnuts aren't something I crave, or even put on my plate when they are part of a breakfast selection, but when Krispy Kreme has that HOW NOW light on... I'm pulling over just for the melt-in-your-mouth experience. If you've only had Krispy Kreme out of a pre-packaged box at a grocery store, gas station, or 7-11, then you've never had a REAL Krispy Kreme.

Stay tuned for my regularly scheduled Wedding & Engagement blogging!

On the road again..

posted on: August 10, 2006

Today I'm heading back to Detroit for a wedding this weekend, followed by a week in Chicago where I get to be a sponge soaking up knowledge. I'll have sporadic access to the net, so bear with me if I take a while to respond.. Thanks!

In the meantime, be entertained....

The adventure continues....

posted on: August 9, 2006

Yesterday was crazy... my phone died because I was out of battery and I couldn't find my charger because I had accidentally left it at the Holiday Inn when we were in a rush to take care of a bunch of things before unloading the truck on Monday. We called Holiday Inn and they still had the charger... good. So, we went to pick up the charger and stop at Sam's Club to get a membership and pick up a few things (for the record, I prefer Costco but they don't have one here). Little did I know Alex was toting around some materials in his car which gave off the worst possible odor... I won't say exactly what it was, but imagine something that smells really horrible, and then imagine it's been sitting in a hot car baking all day long and you have to ride in the car with it for the next 30 minutes. Rolling the windows down and turning on the air conditioning did little to reduce the stank. Luckily, Alex resolved to throw out the materials regardless of how attached he was to them, but that wouldn't happen until we got back to the apartment. If you'd like to empathize, plug your nose until you're done reading this post!!

We made our stops at Sam's, the Holiday Inn, and Fazoli's for dinner and then we head back to our apartment only to find that neither of us grabbed the apartment keys because we thought the other person had them... so we're locked out. We call the apartment complex (on Alex's phone) and the guy who can let us back in says it'll be about 30 minutes. I had an appointment at Coffee Break (across the street) in 5 minutes, so we asked him to call us when he would be on his way.

So, we head over to Coffee Break to meet a lady who wanted to talk to me about photographing a children's expo (I think that's what it was going to be about) and a bunch of bible study people show up, but no one that seems to be looking for a photographer. I can't call the expo lady because her phone number is trapped on my cell phone which is still dead because I haven't been able to get into the house to plug it in to a charger. I wait 30 minutes, finish off my grande mocha, and the lady never shows up. The apartment guy still hasn't called and more bible study people are crowding the coffee shop, so we decide to head back to the apartment to unload the stuff from our car onto our industrial dolly and hope that we can at least get inside the building if another resident will let us in. We're let into the building by a neighbor and we wait in the hallway near our front door with our dolly full of groceries and no keys. We look pretty pathetic. Only our second day here and already locked out. Can you see the "L" painted on my forehead right now??

Finally the apartment guy calls to say he's at the building but he can't get in because the key doesn't work on the front door. DOH! So I go downstairs to let him into the building and he comes up to let us into our apartment. Finally, my world is right-side-up again. What an evening! ... but wait, it's not over... It wouldn't be complete without one last kicker.... so, I plug in my phone and get a call from a local number... I'm thinking it's the lady who never showed up, right?? Nope. It's Sam's Club calling to say that they forgot to give my driver's license back after I filled out the membership materials. Can you believe that??

As you can see, it's been an adventurous trip so far.. and at this point it's just becoming downright funny. We still have a lot of boxes to unpack, but our bedroom and kitchen are mostly finished, and I was finally able to get my computer, printers, and hard drives put together. At least now my cell phone is charged, Alex's car should no longer smell, we'll be getting our 2nd and 3rd set of keys made (Alex thinks he left his keys in Michigan), and we'll be applying for our Indiana driver's licenses... why am I starting to get nervous about taking a written driver's test again?? Do I always end paragraphs with a question? LOL!!!! In the words of Charlie Brown, "Good Grief!"

We're Here!

posted on: August 8, 2006

... but as you can see, we're still not unpacked! I'm blogging from my hubby's laptop, so I haven't checked my email yet!

So, we had originally confirmed a 17' truck with U-Haul to be picked up on Sunday morning. Saturday, after I'm done with the wedding, I listen to my voicemail and hear, "I'm sorry, but we don't have a truck for you. You can try to reschedule for Monday, or cancel your reservation." WHAT!? How is it that you can confirm a truck a week in advance and then suddenly they don't have one for you? What's the point of even reserving one if things can still change at the last minute?? We asked them if they could locate another truck for us within their company and they were entirely unhelpful. We already hired a set of movers to help us load at 3 pm on Sunday in Michigan, we already paid for our hotel in Terre Haute on priceline for Sunday evening, and we already booked movers to help us unload on Monday.. so we needed a truck on Sunday! As Stephen Colbert would say, U-Haul "is dead to me."

Luckily, Budget Truck came through for us Sunday morning at the very last minute. Apparently for every 5 moving vans that leave Michigan, only 2 come back, so they didn't have anything we could take one-way, which meant the truck had to get back to Michigan somehow, and we would have to pay local charges (day fee + per mile fee). The Budget guy cut us a break and told us that a "business" rental is 1/3rd the cost on the per-mile-fee and only $5 more per day. Thank goodness!! He also only had a 24' truck available, which was way more than we needed but ultimately, the cost actually ended up at around the same rate as the one-way U-Haul! sweeeeeeet. We had our usual Sunday breakfast together and picked up the truck. The guys from E-Move loaded the truck in about 2.5 hours and we were on our way.

We decided to go I-75 S to I-70 W and the ride went pretty smoothly with only a tiny bit of construction in Indianapolis. After $250 in gas, we were finally in Terre Haute. But wait... the fun doesn't stop there folks. So we get to Terre Haute and we try to confirm the movers that we had hired on this end through E-Move. Monday morning comes and none of our phone calls are returned from the movers. One of the phone numbers listed is disconnected. Great. We had to unload the truck as scheduled because my father was driving down in my car to take the Budget truck back to Michigan on Monday night... there's no time to see if these people were just going to show up. I called Lowe's to see if they had any local references (we didn't have a phone book yet), and the girl on the phone gave me the number for a local mover. I called them and they couldn't do it on such short notice, so I asked them for another number.... they couldn't do it on such short notice, so I asked for another number... this pattern continues until I have every known and unkown listing for moving help. The only company able to help us at the last minute was Labor Ready. We weren't able to get in touch with a person, so we had to leave a message hoping someone would call us back. Once we found out where the local office was, we went in person to see what we could work out. We actually ended up not going through the company, but just paying a few guys who were at the office looking for work that day. Thank goodness!!! The guys were awesome, everything was unloaded in time, and to make a long story short, my dad made it here and back safely as well.

At this point we have a lot of boxes to unpack, and somehow all of this stuff has to fit in half the amount of space we had when we aquired a lot of it. I think I'm just going to throw a few boxes away without even looking in them... out of sight, out of mind! OK, I lie... I wouldn't really do that, but it's very tempting. It was so nice when we had a garage where we could store those "just for fun" items like camping equipment, party supplies, sport equipment, etc. Sometimes it's good to downsize... it can really force you into being more organized and provide an incentive to ditch the items you don't really need or use. (Alex finally got rid of his electronics stuff so now it looks like I'll be ditching a lot of old photos and photo albums of people I don't really talk to anymore.) That's what's going on with me right now.... I'll try to get back to your emails as soon as I can find my computer.... hmmmmm.... I wonder where that box is.....

..... MOVING ...... and gonna miss the "D"

posted on: August 4, 2006

As of Monday morning, Alex and I will officially be living in Terre Haute, Indiana. After living in metro Detroit for five years, I have to admit there are a lot of things I'm going to miss....

- Our beautiful home
- Attending The People shows
- Giving tours at Meadow Brook Hall
- Walking the gardens and museums of Cranbrook
- All of the cool things to see and photograph on Belle Isle
- Going out in Greektown
- The sweet Framboise at Rochester Mills
- The amazing fresh bread at Kruse & Muer
- The "Double Sizzing" at Gourmet Garden
- Layered french toast at Toast
- Snackers and Orange Cream Coolers from Olga's Kitchen
- Attending operas at the Michigan Opera Theatre
- Concerts of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
- Folk music at The Ark and Meadow Brook Music Festival
- Watching the antique cars invade town during the Woodward Dream Cruise
- Riding on the People Mover and urban exploring in downtown Detroit
- The amazing hummus, fresh bread, and kafta at La Shish
- The free chocolate chip cookes on Sundays at The Moose Preserve
- Exhibits at the Detroit Institute of Arts
- my favorite dogs in the whole world, Bailey & Misty

and most of all....

... my amazing friends and supportive family.... especially my mom.

OK... I've procrastinated long enough. Now I MUST pack up my office and get ready for my out of town wedding tomorrow followed by a long day of driving on Sunday. Please note I probably won't be able to respond to emails until Tuesday. Have a great weekend!!!!!

Hitting Close to Home

posted on: August 2, 2006

Sally and Rodney celebrated their beautiful wedding last November and while all of their guests traveled some distance for their wedding, there were a few special guests who came all the way from Lebanon. I remember just how giddy Sally was to see her aunts on the day of her wedding, she loved them so much that she screamed in excitement when they came up to her after the wedding!

Her aunts were so much fun! I think I could even go so far as to say they were the life of the party at many points during the evening. ;-) And let me tell you... these women could get down on the dance floor!!

It tears me apart to think that these women who were so happy to be here and celebrate with their niece are now hiding for shelter and have had to abandon their homes and hope that there will be something left for them to return to. With the casualties increasing and the bombing becoming more widespread, it's hard not to imagine that the worst is yet to come.

Sally has given me permission to share her story with you, and if nothing else, I ask that you keep their family in your thoughts and prayers. There are real people being hurt, and they aren't all overseas. In Sally's own words....

""First of all, thank you to everyone who has been so kind and asking us about my family in Lebanon. This whole situation is tragic and all your prayers are very appreciated. The last update I received was this morning, as some of the cell phone lines have been repaired. My father's family is all accounted for and safe. My family that is in Canada and the US have all arrived back safely, the last family member arrived in Montreal just yesterday.

The majority that remain are hiding in some "safe spots" within Beirut and some northern parts of Lebanon that have not yet been hit. Their homes, villages and cities, and well-being are another story. Many more of their friends and extended families have been affected, and they are in our prayers. The recent tumult in the once-thriving democracy of Lebanon make me wonder what of the country will be left for them and whether this type of thing will occur again in the future."

Sally & Rodney are amazing people with wonderful families. As newlyweds, they are trying to launch their careers, move into a new home, and build a foundation for their life together. I know I would have a very tough time keeping myself together in a time like this. I am so blessed to know them and have them in my life and I can only hope that our combined thoughts and prayers will help keep their family safe.

If you are interested in making a donation to aid in relief efforts, please visit the Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services Website or the National Arab American Medical Association Website for more information.

August Desktop Image

posted on: August 1, 2006

Every month or so I change my desktop image to a photograph I've taken and I thought it would be fun to share these images in my blog so that you can download them for your desktop as well! Every month I'll try to post a new image that is suitable for displaying at desktop size and resolution. Click on an image to download a copy for your desktop.

Normally I would never choose something this busy as a background image, but as I was going through my archives of digital photos, I was surprised that I still had this and had completely forgotten about it. It was actually taken somewhere along the route to Frankenmuth, MI after we got off the highway. I'm pretty sure I caught this image just as we were driving by. First of all, these outhouses are way too small to be anything but decorative items, and they are totally made of junk parts, but isn't there something endearing about them anyway??

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