Friday, May 28, 2010

Good Stuff and Good News

I'm pretty excited today...

My shit is growing and FINALLY turning red! Plus Mario and I found a really great shelf on the corner a few blocks over and hauled it back to our place. It's now been made into two smaller shelves. So now I have to plant a bunch more veggies. But these babies have been growing. There are actually a million tomaters on this plant, but these are the biggest and now one is the reddest.

I'm actually excited about the new shelves, because my little area in the front garden isn't surviving well. Between the gardeners and the cat, all my little plants are getting squished. I'll be honest and say it's the cat more than anything. Onions and beets seem to be doing well out there. I'll probably just clear out some of the things that aren't doing well and transplant them to the planters in the backyard. I'll probably give that area another shot with some bigger plants. We'll see though.

Other good news...My mother in law has officially had her last chemo treatment! She's been dealing with this for just short of two years. She is so happy to be healthy and finished. I could tell because that woman had one hell of a spring in her step! Tonight we'll have a celebratory dinner. And apparently she'd gonna be doing some traveling now. She still has a ton of family in Scotland and a sister in New Zealand, that all want her to visit...I'm thinking I might need to accompany her...yeah that sounds like a good idea.

One last thing. Turns out this designing menus is getting me some other work. Someone came in the restaurant for lunch and Rene, the lady I'm working for, suggested I design out her website and business identity. Sounds fun. Lucky thing my minor was design. Finally coming in handy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Message from my mother yesterday...

Hi babydoll, I was just looking at your blog and I noticed that when you were in Tennessee you saw an Elvis stocking for me. Did you get the stocking and forget to give it to me for Christmas? I'm hoping you did and you can send it to me now because I WANT IT! Don't make me go online and buy this myself! Also, Cindy told me to put potatoes in it...

She lost me

...and it was perfect. Oh yeah, I didn't tell you about that. I put a roast in the crock pot with onions and this chipol-tee sauce and I couldn't figure out what to put in there with it and Cindy mentioned potatoes and I did and it was perfect and now I have the best leftovers for lunch this week and I'm not sharing this with Mario. I took the dogs for our normal walk and then went over to the thee-ate-ta to work and had to chase this old man back over to his show because he kept trying to wander into the show in my thee-ate-ta and he just didn't understand that he didn't buy tickets to this play and tomorrow I'm going to Walmark to pick up some toilet paper and by the way I have a ton of meat in my freezer for when we go camping for you birthday. I have tri-tip, sausages, chicken, hot dogs, hamburger, pork shoulder, blah blah blah you.... (long pause)...bye!

The woman goes on and on. I'm not entirely certain that she took a breathe the entire time she was talking. Also, this was the third message she had left me in the same day. They crack me up. She talks as if I am really on the other end of the phone. I do feel guilty though because her messages get so long that there ends up being a point when I stop listening. I actually had to go back and listen to the first part of this message again. Because I knew there was some information in there that I needed, but couldn't remember for the life of me because she had rambled on for so long.

So, really the whole purpose of her voice mail was to ask if I had bought her this for christmas and had forgotten to get it for her...

I'm not sure why she decided that I had found this in Tennessee. Except for the fact that Graceland is found there and obviously I couldn't have found this little gem any where else. Really I found the Elvis Christmas stocking in our local kmart, along with a light-up graceland. I guess I should buy them for her next christmas.

For those of you lucky to get a voice mail from my mother or if you are going camping with us next month for my birthday camping extravaganza, here is the Sara-Anne vocabulary key...because no doubt she will use all of these words at some point in your conversation...

Walmark = Walmart. Her timeshare is called Worldmark. My sister and I can only assume she mixes the two together. Although sometimes this applies to Kmark.

Theater = pronounced "Thee-ate-ta". Kinda of an english accent on there, but not really. She is a manager for a civic arts theater on the weekends. This pronunciation does not apply to movie theaters.

Marco/Mario = The first is a co-worker. The other is a son-in-law. Both names are interchangeable to her. The weekend Mario and I got married, mom got the wonderful hotel room for us. When we checked in there was a beautiful little box filled with treats for us and a card that said "Congratulations Laura and Marco on your wedding." Yup, she claims she said Mario. They just happened to make the exact same name mix up she does.

She will also talk to you about Marco, Halle, Cindy, Dushant, Sherry, etc as if you know them. No she will not explain who they are. She will just keep on talking. Feel free to stop her and ask who they are or just nod and smile, as if you know them.

She talks on the voice mail as if you are really there talking to her. She will pause for responses, laugh, and ask you questions. She is so good at this, that I have found myself responding to her.

There are definitely a lot more Sara-isms...I will add to this list later! I think one of the fun games we will have at my birthday camping extravaganza will be a a Sara-ism bingo maybe...who ever can catch all her -isms wins something...or maybe it will be a drinking game...

Monday, May 24, 2010


I'm still a little emotional. Just finished watching the Lost finale. You know me...cry baby. I did make the ugly cry face as the last scene ended and the screen went dark. Then I realized that we had a friend over and I could not act like an crazy-ugly-face-crying-lost-fan with other people around. Besides I was very happy with the ending. I can totally let go of the show now. This is one of the only times that I have watched a finale and felt like it was done and I was not going to miss it. Cause there's nothing worse than having a show end and you not having closure...right? Oh is that just me?

Anyway, after a couple of requests, I am posting the menus - before and after. Click on any image to see it larger.

This is their website. Awful yellow and red. This is essentially what all of their stuff looks like. Just not good. She wants 40s, 50s, 60s family restaurant style. Plus I fixed the photo of her mother...poor thing was blue in this photo.

Here is the old menu. Just busy and very unorganized. I don't have a copy of the menu cover but it's bad news. Just picture it looking like the website and you have the picture.

So here is the new menu cover I made up. I'm trying to give her the old school feel but keep it a little clean, more organized and just easier to read.

The doily and the checker pattern in the background does print much lighter than it looks here. It's more like a whisper of background...I really like the hint of it.

There are still a few things I would have changed. I feel like the front cover is missing a little something, but I still want to keep it simple. So, it will probably stay as is. I'd also love to change the logo font...I mean I would LOVE to change it. But it's not happening. Also, I'm not sure if I would have gone with all the different colors on the titles. I like some of the colors, but not all the wild colors. I would have stuck with just one or two colors. I actually really liked the titles in black. However, the boss lady loves the colors. And I do want her to be happy.

So, now that I'm finished with the menu, I'll be moving on to the website and all online stuff. I need to get a lot more people on their site and facebook. This is the little table stand I've designed to get people to sign up for all their networking stuff...hopefully it will entice people to sign up.

Shoot I forgot we still have to do a bunch of photography still! Here I thought I might have a more relaxing week. Oh well, it's all good work experience.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Menu Designer Available

I'm almost finished with the redesigning of the menu. It's taken a lot longer than anticipated. The actual design was a very quick decision. It's the taking things off the menu and trying to come up with new stuff that has taken the most time.

I think it was something the owner wasn't quite sure about at first. It was hard to get her to make changes in the beginning. She knew she wanted to but there was a fear also. However, as she started seeing the menu come together, she really started feeling brave. This last week and a half, she's added a handful of new meals. In a fit of bravery, she changed thing around and upped some prices, and found some new chalkboard items. I'm very proud of her.

I've actually seen a lot of little changes from her lately. She's starting to really organize her papers. She's getting in there and taking care of business. Things are coming around.

So, today, with all the edits we've made, I finally brought in the final proof. We have the final menu, final table top ads, the senior menu, the children's menu and the new menu cover. I tried to match the menu cover up with the style she wanted. She wants an old school style with touches of 40s, 50s, 60s. It turned out cute. I think it fits. I was a little worried about what she'd think of it. She had ideas about what she wanted. However, I shouldn't have worried because she's in love with it. She keeps picking it up and looking at it...probably because there is a great photo of her mother on the cover. But, I can tell she's really loving it.

Anyway, I'm please with the work we've done. There is still a bit to do. We'll probably put the menu live on monday. I'm excited to hear how it goes over. The menu is better organized and just easier to read...fingers crossed that we get this place going strong.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today Mario and I ate a lot.

Not intentionally. I mean we really should have known, but what can I say, sometimes we just don't think things through.

Today we went to a food show. The owner of the restaurant we are helping couldn't make it, so it was decided that we would go. Mario and I kinda figured there might be some samples...we had no idea how many there would really be. Of course we had lunch before we went. Luckily, we were smart enough to have a small lunch. However, with the amount of samples they had, we were miserable full...and we were still turning down food. It was crazy how much food was there! We did find some things that will work well for restaurant and hopefully it's a good price.

It was actually pretty interesting. It was basically just a few companies showing their new goods and trying to make sales. So we ate their samples, talked, collected a shit load of papers and booklets and left completely stuffed!

It didn't escape my notice that we happened to only be half an hour south of Santa Barbara. So after the food show, I talked Mario into ditching work and heading to Santa Barbara. He was all for it. How could you be that close and not go!

The weather was absolutely perfect! We started at Stearns wharf. It was nice. I usually avoid the wharf because it's where all the tourists hang out, but it wasn't that bad. We sat at the end of the wharf and watched the fisherman and the sea lions. Then we noticed about five million sailboats congregating outside of the marina. We couldn't figure out what was going on. It might have been a protest, a race, or just a coincidence. I've only seen that many sailboats getting ready to race.

Then we picked up some coffee and a muffin, and headed over to my beach. We just sat and watched the sun get low. We played with some cute dogs and looked at gorgeous houses. The thing I love about Santa barbara are all the little gardens and little hidden lanes around.

So, before the sun went down, Mario and I walked a little trail behind some houses. It's a tiny little pathway close to the beach. It's great for checking out people's backyards...I'm totally a snoop!

Another thing I love about Santa Barbara is the smell. There is nothing better than spring around there. The flowers are in bloom and so fragrant!

We followed the path until we crossed this bridge. It crosses a little outlet to the ocean. There's actually another little trail that will lead you to another part of the outlet and if the little stream is low or dry, you can walk it all the way to the beach.

When you get to the bridge there are these two beautiful homes sitting right off the beach. I really wish you could see how gorgeous they really are.

It was a great day. It made me realize how much I really miss living there. When I lived there, I would go to the beach every day after work and just walk. Today the weather and the smells and the quiet, reminded me of when I lived there. I wasn't sad to head back to Burbank, but it sure made me realize that I would like to live there again some time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to Scare My Mother

When Mario and I visit my family in Northern California, we normally we stay with my mom. The woman has a two bedroom condo. The second bedroom is purely her sewing room. There is no sleeping in there. However, my mother is nice enough to let us use her bed and she pulls out the couch. Now, before you all think I'm a jerk for making my mother sleep on the couch, let me tell you, this is all her idea. She gets up early to take the dogs for a walk. So instead of her getting up and clomping through the living room and having the dogs jump all over us, she sleeps out in the living room. We happily oblige.

Mario and I drove up to visit my family last month. We set up in my mom's room. As we were getting ready for bed, I noticed that the headboard was feeling loose. Any time I moved, it hit the wall. Which is not only annoying for me, but I'm sure for the neighbors upstairs. I knew it was only going to get worse when Mario gots into bed...cause the man practically runs in his sleep. He is not a sound sleeper. He's constantly in motion.

So, I decided to remedy this by pulling the bed farther away from the wall. Then we got back in bed...and the headboard immediately hit the wall. Errr. So I made Mario get back out of bed and try to push the bed as close to the wall as possible. It was still hitting the wall, making noise which was making me crazy...and in turn, making Mario crazy. So I got up and turned on the light. I started looking around for something to maybe put in between the wall and the headboard. I finally decided on a towel that was sitting on the dresser. I grabbed it and just kind of folded it and draped it over the top on the headboard. It worked perfectly.

We slept silently...well with the exception of Mario's snoring and talking in his sleep. Which come to think of it, was probably louder than the headboard hitting the wall. Oh well. I felt better about the situation.

The rest of the weekend went well and we headed home at the end of the weekend happy and well slept. Well, all was well until I got a very urgent call from my mother. I answered my phone to hear her in full panic. I had no idea what was wrong. I heard the word "towel" and a lot of mumbling. I stopped her where she was and told her to slow down and tell me what was wrong.

Mom.."Well I saw the towel on the headboard and I couldn't figure out why it would be there and then I realized why it might and DID YOU HAVE SEX IN MY BED!?!?!?"

Me..."Oh my god mom! No we did not. I'm not that creepy! Your headboard kept hitting the wall and it was making me crazy, so I put the towel up"

Mom..."Oh Thank GOD!!!!"


I sat there with the phone in my hand and I couldn't stop laughing. It had never occurred to me that she might think that I put the towel up to buffer the sounds of our sexy time. I was just trying to get some quiet uninterrupted sleep.

This weekend, we drove up for my sister's birthday. Mom was away at her quilting camp*. We stayed at mom's house. She already had the towel up on the headboard for us.

(*yes there is such a thing as quilting camp and yes my mother ditches my sister's birthday every year in favor of it)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't worry honey, my Mafia family has our back!

If you are friends with me on facebook, you probably already know that I love to play Mafia Wars. It's ten minutes worth of play once or twice a day. That's it. That's all you can do. I know it looks like I'm playing all day long with all the posting it does, but there really is only so much you can do in one day. I like that. It keeps me playing daily for that reason. I can't over do it, so I never get sick of it.

My love for Mafia Wars is great enough that I actually set my mother up in the game. No she doesn't play, I play for her. I can get extra gifts and the stuff I specifically need to finish a level. It seemed to work out well for me. I play my war, then play her war and turn it off and get to my real work.

Well, one day I noticed all her friends were playing Farmville. I had no interest in playing it, but the gifting was interfering in my mafia war gifting. So I would have to clear all the stuff for farmville in order to play Mafia Wars. After a while, I found myself setting up the farm on her page. Turns out I was spending more time on my mother's facebook working her farm than on my mafia wars. Did I stop playing...of course not, I set up farmville on my page also. And then continued to play both of ours.

Well because the maker of Mafia Wars and Farmville are too smart for me, they made these games work best if you have multiple connections in the games with other people. Like multiple farms growing special crops in a certain amount of time and getting prizes. So I did what any logical person would do and signed Mario up for Mafia Wars and Farmville I could play on his account also and get more of the gifts I needed. I know...sad.

Here's the thing though, I don't really give a crap about the farmville. I play but it's not like I enjoy it or feel compelled to check in every chance I get. I have just gotten sucked into it. From what I hear, this has happened to a lot of people. I have friends who are on there there multiple times a day because of this game. There are a millions gifts flying around and lots of conversation about what the next move will be on the game. Really. I try to steer clear of these players.

However, I found out how hardcore people are about their farmville recently. After setting up Mario's farm and getting him up to a level that he can help on other farms...blah blah blah....I set him up to compete with other players to grow a bunch of shit to win a special prize....and then I forgot about it.

Well, I came back to Mario's farm to find all these messages from this one player yelling at Mario. I apparently ruined all their efforts by not harvesting my crops when I should have. So not only did they not get the prize, they didn't get the silver award bonus or the bronze award bonus. How dare I not harvest! Well, how dare Mario not harvest...hehe

I did feel bad. I know I shouldn't have joined the group while my want to play was waning. But still it was a little silly how this guy was reacting, it's just a game after all. I was giggling about this crazy guy, when Mario piped up that some dude was sending him messages.

Mario - Some douchebag is sending me pissed off messages about ruining some game that I don't even play

Me - Um, well that might be my fault

Mario - What did you do this time?

Me - Well, I started to play a group farmville thing and then forgot about it, so they lost

Mario - Are you kidding?! This guy is crazy and pissed!

Me - He'll get over it

Mario - Yeah, but he's stalking me now! He's sending messages and now I have to watch my back cause he's going to hunt me down!

Me - Oh stop! That's just ridiculous! (pulling up farmville to erase all evidence of the crop) Holy shit! This dude left messages all over the farm about how you screwed him over! You better watch your back honey

Mario - No more messing around on games under my name, especially if I am going to get killed over fake farming!...I think we should get a security system...

Friday, May 07, 2010

A little nervous

I got a great call back from a client to set up an appointment. I've been waiting for his call for a few weeks and I'm so excited. I'll be photographing the interior of a private jet on huh!

We were supposed to meet at a fairly local airport. Then he called today and said we'll be having the shoot at an airport a few hours away. Not a problem really except...I have this head cold allergy thing going on and he's talking about driving all three of the photographers and him to the airport.

The thing I'm really worried about is the time frame. I'd really love to hang out and watch these other photographers shoot the exteriors. Great learning experience. I'm just worried about having to wait around for hours and hours, when I really just want to pass out and sleep. This is a fairly smallish plane, and I know it won't take more than an hour to shoot the interiors. I can totally string it out, but there's really only so much plane to photograph.

So, should I just buck up and deal with whatever happens? Or should I just drive my sickie self to the shoot and take off when I'm finished? I really don't want to miss getting to know these other photographers or talking to this client and hopefully getting more work. However, I also don't want to get them sick either.

Oh I'm pretty sure I'll just go with them, I just hate that I have to be sick. Hopefully they won't notice the snot and I really hope it doesn't get worse by Saturday cause I'm not cancelling this shoot!!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


So, have you ever ended involved in something you never thought you'd be involved in? (No not porn or bank robbery.) I've always known I'd be a photographer...that really wasn't a surprise to me or my family. It would have been more of a shock if I hadn't followed photography honestly. However, by some twist of fate I've taken on the roll of restaurant consultant...out of left field, right?

Mario and I have taken on a project. I knew we'd be helping out, but I never imagined how involved we'd really become. There is a local diner that we love. Best Eggs Benedict in town. I've spent many days sitting in that diner working away. Coincidentally, spending so much time there, I got to hear a lot of the behind the scenes information...we've found out our little diner has definitely taken a hit from the economy and mismanagement.

What started out as a simple project has become a full blown revamp. Mario's culinary classes and my design and photography are being used to hopefully fix a bunch of problems with this restaurant. It's definitely an interesting project and I'm excited to see how this all turns out. We are doing a full menu reorganization and redesign, we're coming up with new recipes, helping organize events, special menus, implementing marketing and new photography of course.

There's a lot of stuff going on that I love. Design, analyzing sales and cross use of ingredients...this totally gets my OCD firing for sure. Um, and can I say the sales reports for the restaurant are totally fascinating? That's how much I'm geeking out here. I know how many of my eggs benedicts that they sell in a month...somewhere in the 300s for last month. I know! Interesting right! ok maybe not all of you think it's interesting.

I'm definitely learning a lot. I have learned more about the psychology of menus than I could have ever wanted to know. The use of dollar signs, pricing tips, how to organize your's a whole process I never knew about. It's interesting for sure. Who knows maybe menu design is in my future.

The entire project is great for my portfolio...assuming we do get this place turned around. Anyway, if you're in the area, go get eggs benedict from Theresa's Family Restaurant! I'll have to put the befores and afters on here soon.