Friday, September 30, 2011

Peru - Machu Picchu- Day 4

During my recent trip to Peru, we went to Machu Picchu.  Actually, the whole trip was inspired by The Motorcycle Diaries (Los Diarios de Motocicleta), a movie that takes place in South America and in which the main characters visit Machu Picchu.  Here was our visit. :)

So, Machu Picchu was pretty neat.  I thought we wouldn't spend that much time here, because hey, how long does it really take to look at stuff?  But in fact, we were here for at least 2 hours, exploring every nook and cranny. We didn't take a guide, so we just wandered around on our own, wondering what the meaning of certain structures were.  You know, being ignorant tourists.  It was good, though.  I got a lot of nice "ring shots." :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vertical Tags with Bling Blang

While I've offered horizontal tags with rhinestones for quite a while, I have finally *just* added vertical tags with rhinestones to the shop.  Totally customizable, I can stamp whateva you want on these guys.  I've considered buying more rhinestones in different colors, but I just love how the bright blue contrasts with the tan leather.  Also, I am not sure if other colors (red, green, pink, purple) would work as nicely. Since I love the blue rhinestone so much, I am considering getting it in different sizes.  A small/tiny blue rhinestone in the corner could add a subtle hint of bling, but not be too "rhinestone-y".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quirky Cake Toppers

As I mentioned before, my upcoming wedding really doesn't have a theme.  I have found it be pretty awesome in that there are no limits to anything we want to incorporate into the big event.  Lately, I've been looking at cake toppers (even though I'm not sure if we even need one).  At first I thought the idea of having animals instead of people on top of a wedding cake was...silly.  But now I am in love with the idea. Human/animal combos are cool, too. :)

While I f*ing LOVE this amazing cake topper, the fiance guy wasn't jumping up and down about it (like I was).

My better half has a particular fondness for octopi and squid, and I thought a cake topper would be a fun way to incorporate sea creatures into the wedding.  For the items below that are only one figure, I would just buy two and stick them next to each other on top of the cake.

I love the look of this resin octopus.

Probably my favorite option.  This shop is just filled with cuteness.  I think these two squid would be adorable on top of a simple cake.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Peru - Aguas Calientes - Day 3

On day 3 of our journey exploring Peru, we left Cusco by train and headed north for the small town of Aguas Clientes.  After a 4 hour train ride we arrived in Aguas Calientes in the early afternoon and had all day to explore.  This meant that after we checked into our hostel we simply wandered around, ate some food, and got some full body massages in a dark, musty room for $20 bucks a piece.  (The full body massage ended up being almost "full-body" a few times and afterwards I was informed that it slightly freaked out my new fiancé. Oh well. It was an experience, right?...not least that's what I told him.)  Essentially we were wasting time as we had nothing planned until the next morning when we were to visit Machu Picchu.

During the entire Peru trip, this train station in Poroy was the coldest place we went.    Hence, the reason I am shivering.

 In Poroy (30 minutes from Cusco), about to get on the PeruRail train to Aguas Calientes.  I had to take my showers at night during this trip as I didn't pack a hair dryer and didn't want to walk out with wet hair in the morning.  I found that I had my "best" hair on this trip because after sleeping with it wet, in the morning, it was all piecey and had some body.  I don't take showers at night normally because it throws off my "schedule," so my hair has since returned to it's normal thin, limp self. :(

Our seats on the train.  For the most part, the transportation we used during this trip was pretty nice.  We had one incident with a 10-hour bus trip, but that is a later story. 

 Our train trip snacks and map!  Oh...and a ring shot. :)

 I found it very interesting that there were no billboards or free standing signs in any town that we went through in Peru.  Advertising was painted directly on people's homes (hopefully they received some compensation?).  The most common thing painted on homes, as seen above, was political advertisements.

Farmland on the way to Aguas Calientes.

Finally we made it to Aguas Calientes - a tiny little town nestled in a ravine, surrounded by mountains with a river flowing through the middle of town.  The town has no cars (only a handful of buses that go up to Machu Picchu), so at least we didn't have to worry about getting ran over.

The second you step off the train in Aguas Calientes there is a HUGE handicrafts market.  While this was only our 3rd day in Peru, the items for sale in this market were already familiar.  We saw the exact same things for sale in every single town we went to.  It got to be kind of disappointing after a while, because it was obvious that for the most part, the people selling these items didn't make them.  Everything had been mass produced.  That did help in one way: I pretty much didn't buy anything anywhere.

The "Aguas Calientes" or Hot Springs.  They had some pools and hot tubs built back behind me, but we didn't feel like swimming.

 Still suffering from altitude sickness on day 3, I just needed to sit and catch my breath sometimes.

Call me a simpleton, but these trash cans required too much thought for my little "altitude sickness" self to work out (or at least that's what I'll claim...).  I just held on to my trash and threw it out in the hostel. ><

 Like every Peruvian town we ventured to, Aguas Calientes was crawling with dawgs.  This lil' guy was sleepin' on a step.  Perhaps even weirder, none of the dogs we saw appeared to be starving.  They were all of a healthy weight (as I am a trained veterinarian and can eyeball a dog that is of a healthy weight?), so I guess somebody feeds them...

This is probably the only cat we caw on this trip.  He was cute, so we deemed it necessary to capture his picture.

 Trying to make the time pass, I bought a postcard and postage and wrote a note to my grandad, because I hoped he would get a kick out of receiving mail from South America.  Surprisingly, he received the postcard before we even got home and was quite tickled indeed.

The train runs straight through town.

 We came across one church in Aguas Calientes' Plaza de Armas.

 Another post from Peru featuring a photo of breastfeeding.  While there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding, of course, as an American raised in the South, I found it quite... interesting to see this poster just hanging out in the middle of town. (Because in Georgia this kind of thing would be deemed too risque to be shown in public.  "What if my child sees that?!"  Because it is unnatural for your child to see a boob?  Some people are so weird. Anyway, random rant over.)

Where dinner was had.

My pineapple chicken was served in a pineapple. Neat.  Also, with this one thing that I ordered, I received like 7 other little side dishes.  The variety of different "tastes" I got to experience in this one meal was pretty awesome.

Preview of next post featuring our Peru trip: Day 4 - Machu Picchu!

Hay little llama guy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Creepy Coworker

Not only is my coworker too sleepy to properly function in the workplace, he also has a scary ghoul face that I am subjected to try and politely not stare at all day.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wedding Theme???

My fiancé and I have been engaged for almost a month.  Our wedding date is confirmed for next spring.  We are currently in a scary phase of wedding planning I will refer to as "WHAT THE F*CK ARE WE GOING TO DO FOR THIS WEDDING??!!"  Initially, I thought that a theme was necessary.  What will people think if our entire wedding doesn't follow a cohesive theme where everything was all matchy-matchy and cutesy? 

Trying to come up with a theme that both my fiancé and I like (that isn't totally stupid) has proven to be quite stressful.  Instead, I've decided that we should just pick stuff that we like, and who gives a crap if   people are confused at the wedding.  As of right now, the only unifying element between the different visual aspects of the wedding is the color blue.  Not even a single  color blue. All the blues!!

 Earlier in the planning stage potential themes for our event included: vintage, woodland, Japanese (even though we are both so not Asian), carnival, and maybe LotR.  Already, at this early/scary stage, I am doing most of the hard core planning.  My better half is busy doing crap like working and fixing dinner... 

We have the venue/reception site confirmed, so luckily there isn't too much we have to worry about as far as decorations and food go.  Though, we still have a handful of things we HAVE to make decisions about at some point. The things that I am pretty set on including in this wedding include:

-No bouquet.  What's the point? Really?  I read somewhere that the bouquet originated a good many centuries ago as a means to mask the odor of the bride, and to ward off evil spirits.  Plus, I don't want a wad of flowers covering up my pretty dress. :) Also, not having a bouquet means I don't have to pay for one.

-No veil.  Um, again, I just don't see the point.  (Another added expense.)

-Blue stuff. Maybe add in some black and cream colored stuff, too.

-Mini booze bottles for favors. (Hey, the wedding will be in GA, I don't think this will be too tacky. Hopefully.)

-Disney World honeymoon. As by better half graciously decided to postpone our August 2012 Japan trip to August 2013 (so we can focus on wedding thangs), we decided the second best place to visit next year was Disney World. AKA: Epcot!

Because I am spending stupidly massive amounts of time online looking at every freaking wedding related thing I can, I have been seriously neglecting my little blog.  I feel bad, but the pull of looking at wedding crap (even stupid wedding crap) has gotten the better of me. :(  I am so weak.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finally. A 'Font Options" Update.

I've been selling my tags on Etsy for over 2 years now.  I made my first "font samples" tag 2 years ago - when I was just starting to stamp and I super sucked.  The photo of this tag has been included in the listings of my custom leather tags and shows the different font options I offer. After 2 years, I have *finally* updated this photo with a more current photo of my font offerings.  The difference is pretty drastic.  Well, maybe not drastic, but it is still an upgrade from the old photo.

 Circa summer 2009.  I had yet to discover how to stamp Font A in a manner that would allow for darker lettering.  I also added the numbers in Font D, which probably wasn't a good idea as they didn't stamp that well.

Circa 15 September 2011.  Found a solution to make Font A darker (and better in my opinion).  Eliminated numbers for Font D. Made better impressions of the symbols.  Added options for finishing the back of the tags.  I still may need to tweak the wording/alignment of the new font specifications, but as of right now it is definitely an improvement over the old photo.  I put off doing this waaaaaaay too (unprofessionally) long.

Still to do:
Update the font options photos for the vertical tags and the smaller "ID" tags.  As the horizontal tags (above) are the most popular, I thought it best to start the update with them.  Hopefully in the next week or so the other tags will be updated as well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Peru - Cusco - Day 2

On my recent trip to Peru, we did a lot of traveling.  While I only had 2 main places that I wanted to visit (Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca), we still had to travel somewhere new every day and stay in a different hostel almost every night.

Our itinerary:

Day 1
Fly into Lima. Spend the night in Lima.

Day 2
Fly to Cusco. Spend the night in Cusco.

Day 3.
Train to Aguas Calientes. Spend the night in Aguas Calientes.

Day 4
Bus to Machu Picchu. See Machu Picchu. Bus to Aguas Calientes. Train to Cusco. Spend the night in Cusco.

Day 5
Bus tour to Puno. Spend the night in Puno.

Day 6
Half day tour of Lake Titicaca. Traumatizing bus ride to Cusco. Spend the night in Cusco.

Day 7
Free day in Cusco. Spend the night in Cusco.

Day 8
Fly to Lima. Overnight flight to USA.

--------Itinerary malfunction----Hurricane Irene cancels flight to home to Boston-----

Day 9 
Flight arrives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  The second leg of our journey, a flight to Boston, is cancelled. Rent car and drive 4 hours to fiancee's Mom's house.

Day 9-14
Stay with fiancé's Mom while awaiting earliest flight home to Boston.  (I can't work, as I didn't have my stamping supplies, so I research wedding crap the whole time and answer any messages I get from customers.)

Day 14
FINALLY - Arrive home in Boston!


Let the journey begin!

As Lima was scary* and we only stayed there for 9 hours to sleep before flying to Cusco, I will skip Lima and start sharing our trip from when we left Lima and flew to Cusco on Day 2.

*We arrived in Lima at night and someone from our hostel met us at the airport and drove us to the hostel.  Just from the car ride, I am going to say I don't like Lima.  While my feelings probably aren't justified, the little bit of the city I saw wasn't pretty and the traffic/driving was scary.


After checking into our hostel, we went out to explore the nearby Plaza de Armas in Cusco.  It was a Sunday afternoon and some kind of children's dance competition was going on as walked up.  

Please note: I am so not a videographer.

Each group performing had their own unique outfits and danced to traditional "Peruvian flute band" music. :)

We had lunch at Cafe Bagdad, which had a nice balcony overlooking the festivities below.

Coca tea: coca leaves stuffed in a cup of hot water.  This tea is supposed to help with altitude sickness, so I drank it at most meals.  It tasted ok, but I don't know how much it helped me as I still had constant headaches the first few days in Peru.

 Enjoying the lovely view in Cusco.

 Plaza de Armas church.

All over Peru we saw mountains decorated like behind me.  At first I thought it was created with rocks, but I've read elsewhere it was "carved" into the mountain.  Either way, it's pretty neat.

 Peruvian currency: Nuevos soles.

 Call me immature, but this picture was in EVERY hostal that we stayed at. ><

 View from our hostel,  Hostal Amaru.  It kind of sucked because I only booked this place for 1 night, and it was by far the nicest place we stayed our entire trip.  It was a let down going to all the other hostels later in the trip, because none of them were as awesome as this place.

Hostal Amaru was gorgeous and was less than $50/night.  When we drive from Boston to Atlanta to visit family, and stay in crappy motels off the highway so we can sleep during the night, we pay at least $60.  So, I thought the value for the price of this hostel was pretty awesome.  The whole place smelled wonderfully of wood, was super clean, and had wonderful staff that helped us book other parts of our trip and find good foods for dinner.

At the hostel, taking advantage of their free coca tea station in the courtyard.

I was surprised to find that most of the hostels that we stayed at had internet.  This little computer nook area offered lovely views of the flowers in the courtyard below.

My first alpaca petting of the trip!  The lady called me over to take a photo, so I thought - Wow! People are are so friendly and nice here!  Then she asked for money...1 sol, which is about $.30.

These other ladies saw me getting my picture taken, so when it was my better half's turn to get his picture taken, they swarmed him to get in the picture.  This photo cost 10 sols or about $3.25.  (Yes, it should have been 3 sols, but all we had was a 10 sol bill and they practically snatched it away from us when we asked for change. Hey, it was our first day...we didn't know the ropes yet. ALSO - I believe that cute little critter in that lady's satchel thing is a goat.  At first I thought it was a baby alpaca or llama, but after looking at baby goat pictures, I think it's a goat...Still cute though.)

At the suggestion of the hostel staff, we went to Pacha Papa for dinner.  It was in a neat open air, enclosed restaurant place where we could see the twinkling lights of the houses on the mountains behind us.

I had alpaca for dinner (with more coca tea).  It was delicious!

 Then we finished the meal with this tasty pastry dish.

Sorry, crappy nighttime photo.  From the hostel we could see the pretty lights of the homes on the mountain. 

I hate to end this post with such a horrible picture, so instead I'll leave you with a little preview of the next post documenting our trip to Peru - Day 3:

View from the train heading to Aguas Calientes, north of Cusco.

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