One Ring to Rule Them All

As I mentioned in my post about our wedding, Austin and I a few months ago debarked upon the path of creating customized bands.  My engagement ring (pictured below) is an unusual shape so we needed to create an interlocking band.  As for Austin’s… well he deserved some bling!  Here are some thoughts and results…

The Planning

So this is my engagement ring… sorry for the quality.  Shinies are hard to photograph with a cell phone camera.

Enagement Ring

Austin bought it at Diamond Exchange.  He wanted to get a tension setting… but those are SUPER expensive so he found this unique setting which mimics the look.  The experience was positive so we went back to the store for our bands.

I had read in some wedding book of a Victorian tradition where you spell out words with gemstones.  Me not being a big diamond fan and the fact that using gems are a money saver we decided to run with it.  While those crazy Victorians spelled out words like “L-O-V-E” and “H-O-P-E”, Austin and I decided upon initials.  Austin would have two sapphires for Sheila Suarez.  Where I would have A-D-F for Austin David Flores (as you will see later this was harder then I hoped).

The Jeweler is a fantastic designer so with my input he came up with this for my band:

Sketch of my band.

Austin meanwhile picked out a white gold/”frosted” band.  He then designed his own gem setting, very reminiscent of this TrueBlood ring:

Only instead of two bands… its one… and Sapphires that make the infinity symbol… much like the tear drop stones on mine.  So really not like the above at all.

Results!

So creating customized interlocking rings is not for the weary…  It took a lot of visits to the store to ensure the bands fit the original engagement ring perfectly.  And even then its not perfect as to be expected from a man made metallic object.  But it looks darn good!  Austin’s was of course much easier.  Behold my precious…

The Set

Infinity is Sexy

2 peices

My band separated.  We have dubbed it Bling-A-Tron.

LOCK!

The bottom of it

One Ring to Rule Them All

So the final stones actually don’t spell out A-D-F but S-D-F for Suarez De Flores (my future last name).  I really wanted to match Austin’s name but after an extensive search the only F stone was the Mexican Fire Opal (left stone).  And orange does not match any A stone…  So for Suarez we used Spacerite Garnet (right stone) which is a light orange.  Luckily Diamond Exchange did their research and was able to figure this out for me!

Final Thoughts

Creating customized bands are expensive but I would do it again in a heart beat!  This is creating a legacy for your family and a hand me down.

If I had to do it again though I might have done a little bit more checking around as far as jewelers.  Though I will say Diamond Exchange really pulled through.  I heard though that putting in an alchemy request on Etsy.com can be great and more affordable.

Also using gem stones while cheaper can be tricky as they are not even close to as hard as Diamonds so may break easily.  My fire opal broke during construction and they had to replace it.  Luckily my jeweler constructed it so that when put together the Diamond sticks out slightly and protects the site stones, but still it is a risk that I will have to maintain.  Here is a scale to give you an idea!  The problem is this scale is not a set ratio so the difference between level 9 and 10 is .. well .. ten fold.

In the end, you will probably end up sautering together your ring.  While nice to be like a puzzle, after the wedding day you will most likely never wear them separated (mostly because wearing the band alone could risk breakage as its created to be together).  And if sautered together the ring is more protected from warping and breakage. Kinda shame… probably will do it myself… :/  And of course this costs more money.

So have fun and don’t pull out your hair!

Shinies – S

Biking On the Road is all the Rage

I didn’t have the best friday and I needed a diversion that wasn’t food or drink to bring me back to earth.  I really have been striving to find balance in my life as far as my health, stress level & recreational time.

After talking to some friends I heard about the Cross Seminole Trail head being just down the road from us.  I did some research online but found scant resources in my precursery search.  The most informational being: this and this. I actually used a different map then the latter which I can no longer find.

Either way we hydrated, put on sun block and hit the trail.

First 4.5 miles were great.  The trail was awesome and I was mad at myself for not doing this more.  In Pittsburgh, as a child, I used to ride ALL the time.

Uhohs

Then we hit the end of the trail. Uhoh.  This was supposed to go for 20 miles, of which we planned only to do 10.  All the informative end of trail sign said was “Use side walk”.   Which does not sound like good advice anyway since there was a bike lane on the road…  I guess for families that is good.

So as a conscious effort to follow the rules of the law we rode in the bike lane. And rode. And rode.  No trail reentry.

Finally we decided to cut our loses and ride back home by making a loop past UCF.  Which meant riding on University Blvd.  A road with no bike lane.  And as we found out a lot of ignorant drivers despite being near to a major University which should have lots of student bicycle traffic.  No wonder students are afraid to ride there.

We work off of University Blvd. and have been anxious to get some practice riding in the road on it, as we are by law supposed to. Plus, riding in the the road forces the cars to notice you rather then the side walk where distracted drivers have been known to turn and hit bikers. This being a Saturday with no traffic we felt it would be optimum practice.

First of all I know riding in the road is the best. But it did not feel safe. Despite no traffic angry drivers constantly cut it close, honked, yelled & pointed at the sidewalk.  Yes. We get it.  We are not blind.  We see the sidewalk. One car got really close to Austin.  We rode taking up the right lane as to ensure that drivers would not try to cut it close.  But they did.  In the 4 mile stretch we had at least 2 close encounters and 7 angry honks. One from a mail man!  Slowest vehicle on the road…

Why does the right thing feel wrong?  Other people.

I have mixed feelings about this experience.

I already know biking to work is hard for me as much as I want to do it as I only live 5 miles away.  1.  I’m not good at getting up early, as biking doesn’t take long but getting there with time to shower is hard. 2. University Blvd is just not bike friendly and its just a damn shame.  On all the roads there were bike lanes it was awesome and I felt fine but University Blvd was hell.

I feel like a chicken but though I plan on biking more I may just always ensure I take a trail or a road with bike lanes.  With some research I figured out that google maps has a bike trail view (bike button at the top of the directions) and I saw that we were supposed to veer onto a certain road to catch the trail again… Thanks for the signs, County.

I feel riding in the road was correct. By law and as I vehicle I had every right.  But with the angriness and the close calls it was just not a relaxing experience.

Austin and I will be taking a road biking course hopefully soon so perhaps that will change my mind.  I just wish I had the time to lobby for… or for the government to… put more money into bike commuting, bike lanes and educating the public about sharing lanes with bikers.  I feel UCF also is missing out but not pushing for a more bike friendly campus/locale.

I’m proud of myself though!  I almost gave up as one point but I kept on going and ended up biking 18.6 miles!  Pretty darn good I do think so… 🙂

Our Path: http://tinyurl.com/2dyjgzf

I guess my message is take bike lanes/trails as much as possible.  But do your research as far as your options.  And go out of your way to find safe roads if you do not live in a bike friendly area.

But if you are stuck on a road with no lane.  Own that lane with no apologies.  No matter how much they honk.  It’s safe and you have every right.

Honk – S

First Post… BEES!

So finally put this blog on my own namespace.  New title: Learning Machine.  Because I am… a Learning Machine (think Iron Man).

Still have to make my own theme.  I have an idea.  Might take me 2 years to find the time to implement it…  Personal projects are usually the last to be implemented/finished.

But mark my word it will be glorious when I do.

So to mark this moving how about a post?

Bee-Me-Geden

This weekend I went down to South FL to visit my parents.  Turns out they had their own smoke monster a brewing… honey.

Smoke Monster

Seems since 2005, the year of hurricane Wilma, my dad has not used his grill.  Partially due to lack of opportunity and partially due to the hive of bees that took residence in the grill that was secured a tree (hurricane proof and great for bees!).  My dad being a fairly nonviolent person despite the muscles and martial arts training left the bees alone.  Or at least he did until last week when they didn’t like him mowing the lawn… they didn’t like it one bit.  As evidence by his swollen bitten face.

So my father launched several attacks upon the bees: spraying poison, trying to lodge drum sticks in the hive & running at first site of swarm. Even got my brother in on the action at 1am last night. But the freight train mega-hive was pretty smart about protecting their Queen so stayed strong.

Enter Mr. Craigslist

So Bees can suck but they also are slowly dying.  Which as someone, who relies on her daily transfusion of honey to make her allergies at least placebo effect better and a general lover for the natural world, makes me sad.  I swear, everyday a tablespoon of raw honey, lemon and cinnamon… makes me feel super strong.  I started taking it a month or so ago and immediately felt better though I expected it to effect me next spring.  *shrugs*

My friend Natalie’s family owns K&D’s Honey Bees and she had mentioned to me that people sometimes call them to humanely remove honey hives.  She gets the sweet sweet honey, bees relocated, people bee-less.  Everyone wins!

So 2 hours south and sympathetic to the bees I turned to craigslist.  My mother had called the county and some local honey harvesters to only get no response.  I hoped the Internetz could help us.

The first question is Under what category do you post giving away an angry swarm of bees? I decided “free stuff” and “wanted” (i.e. I want you to take my free bees).  You have to be careful about posting the same post in two categories as its against the rules so I used my genius to reword a three line advert basically saying “HELP!  We love bees.  Relocate our grill full-o-bees!”.

The next morning we had three responses!  Two offering the service and one hoping for me to clue them into who they can call to give away their own angry swarm.

Save Bees: Smoke Them Out

Some very nice people came, got the bees drunk off of smoke and then loaded up their truck with 50 lbs of honey, a bucket full of wax and many other buckets of confused bees.  Sadly the honey will just be thrown away due to my dad’s first attack of poison. But the wax is good.  The bees saved.  And the internet has saved the day.  Really there are going to be some sad lost bees on bee milk cartons and not all of the hive can be taken together.  A sad swarm will still hover over the spot for the next 3 days.  Until, according to the beekeeper, other bees from all over the place come pick apart the useless remenents of the hive and they all fly off together humming happy songs.

Moral of the Story

If you have bees on your property.  Resist poisoning them.  They are slowly becoming endangered and their sweet excrement is awesome.  Call your local honey harvesters.  And if that fails just post on craigslist.  If we can have three responses quickly in Port St. Lucie… I’m sure you will have no problem.  It’s free. Humane.  And I’m sure you could ask for a jar of honey (if you haven’t poisoned the crop).

BEADS! – S

Lost No More

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…

Doomsday Book – Book Review… OF DOOM

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

Ikea – How Swedish Simplicity Might Simplify Your Wedding

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.

May Status Update – Haven't Seen Any Flowers

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

Piranha Plant/Mario Quilt: Pattern Level Up!

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.

Scrabbling For the Cure

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

Our Wedding Part I

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