Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fijian wedding, originally uploaded by Saspotato.

our wedding package includes a fijian warrior. do you think they'll be offended when i say hell no?

i think it's a bit funny when people go somewhere foreign and have something like this incorporated into their wedding.

we also get a choir. hmm!

So every time I mentioned to Chris that we really should plan our upcoming Fiji trip, he's like, nah, we'll just wing it. Then I started thinking about it and I'm like, wait, Fiji is made of ISLANDS. It's not like we'll have a rental car like in Costa Rica. We have to arrange FLIGHTS or FERRY RIDES. So we sat down to start trying to figure this out.. or I did anyway... Checked a couple of places and THEY WERE BOOKED. My favorite places.

So um, six hours later we are done. Chris says four but he didn't get involved until I was swearing. Do you know how many 011 numbers are on my last called numbers? I am going to hate to see the bill. The crazy part is that we ended with the two resorts I starred originally, but then I realized the one wasn't in the prettiest part of Taveuni so nixed it. Tonight I realized Taveuni is like 12 miles wide, so it really doesn't matter then does it? We dropped one of the locations altogether, since we can get there on a day trip from Taveuni anyway - if we're bored. If we're not bored, I'd prefer to stay in one place. I don't like spending all my time on a trip travelling.

We are staying at two eco-friendly resorts in the Mamanucas (Navini) and on Taveuni (Nakia). We were going to stay in an ultra posh place to get married in Taveuni that was $1500/night (you read it!) but I read on Trip Advisor that they overwork their staff and the manager kicked a stray dog in the head to get her to leave. Um, pass. So we're back to the place for the full four nights that grows their own veggies, etc... And we had to flip-flop our trip around to be able to get married since the Nakia place couldn't do it and the other place couldn't do it until Monday, yada yada... Anyway, it's all done. The places get really good ratings and they should be fab. I'm a little disappointed we don't get to stay in the swanky $1500/night place, but I feel better knowing I'm supporting eco-friendly places instead of ones run by dog kickers. Seriously, that place.. you had your own CHEF. And three bedrooms! And Chris actually agreed to pay for it! And then I declined. THE INNER STRENGTH THAT TOOK!

There were lots of other resorts that looked really nice, but full of people who play golf (sorry, By! But I'm sure you wouldn't spending your time playing GOLF if you went all the way to FIJI) and learn "Fijian" crafts on their vacation.. Egg rolling races for the kids! Game fishing! My favorite - BOAR HUNTING! Um, no. Even for fancy, cool rooms.. some with TV - I could watch Law & Order IN FIJI - I had to go with what was more, you know, me. I hope Chris is OK with that. ;)

Also, I "saved" Chris $3k by changing hotels. Soooo.. well, you know where I'm going with this... ;)

Chris is booking the inter-island flights RIGHT NOW. Yipee!

Navini Island Resort (where we're getting married), max 30 guests

Nakia resort in Taveuni, max 10 guests:

OK, my pics will be better. :)

So now THAT'S done. Seriously, so awesome.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I had to get my medical reports from my pediatrician. They sent over the whole thing, from age nothing until I was a teenager.

A couple of things that made me smile:

I once weighed 33 lbs.

The doctor described my 10-year-old self as a "happy, smiling girl." (I like that they put cute things like this in the notes.)

When I had an ultrasound when I was two, it was noted that "the exam was extremely difficult on this squirming 2-year-old."

And when I was a toddler, I was "exposed to a Mexican Hairless Dog and developed a rash about the face." ?!

Also, I like to read "patient brought in by father.." Picturing my dad at the doctor's all concerned about me makes me smile.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bronco & Bear 76, originally uploaded by cowbelly.

So the workshop is just over a week away now! I am going to Atlanta Thursday-Sunday. The workshop doesn't start until 11 a.m. on Friday, so I have a little time to explore on Thursday, which is awesome.

I have now booked my hotel and even rented a 24-70 2.8 lens.

My so-far Atlanta plans include the aquarium, the botanical gardens, and checking out the evening view from the lookout at the Westin.

A weekend away from home all alone, it should be interesting!

  I'll give veganism one big thing: It's making me eat healthier.

This is the yummiest dinner. My old roommate used to make it and I always meant to email him to ask how to make it myself, but this vegan thing finally got me to do it since it is yummy and vegan to boot! And mind you, my old roommate was a meat eater, but ate this every week.

You just dice and your favorite veggies.. I used peppers (red and green bell), crookneck squash, zucchini squash, and onions.. I used um, half an onion, half of each of the peppers, and one of each of the squash. Stir fry in olive oil. Then add tofu or, in this case, Tofurky Italian sausages. They are SO GOOD. I used two. Cook until everything feels like it's soft enough, and you're done! Oh, I used two garlic cloves in tonight's meal.

We served ours over quinoa, but you can eat it however you want. Since I knew what I was doing tonight (as opposed to last night), it was super fast and simple tonight. And, again, YUM. The Italian sausages have a lot of flavor, but the quinoa was just cooked plain, so we added a little olive oil and salt & pepper to the final product.

It's been a week now. Let me just say a big thank you to Starbucks and their soymilk lattes!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

1st vegan meal out, originally uploaded by estacey.

so, apparently i'm a vegan now.

you know the cow video? after i watched it... i was just sick. the next day i had cream in my coffee and the most delicious greek yogurt with honey. but the whole time i was thinking "baby cow dying" and... well, i haven't had dairy since. and the weirdest part? it's no big deal. i think it's like how i am about meat. i don't eat meat, period.. it just isn't an option, so i don't crave it or anything like that. and it's just like the dairy switch has been FLIPPED because all week i have stayed away from it.. something that comprised at least part of every meal i ate.. yet it's no big deal. i can't make promises about the future, but at least for now it is NO BIG DEAL.

i went to the local vegan restaurant tonight and had a steak sandwich with sweet potato fries... and chocolate cake. it was all great. but i ate so much that i feel sick. we've been home for like two hours and i still feel like i'm gonna barf - TOO MUCH FOOD. i can't get over it. needless to say, as a vegan i ain't going hungry.

the first real test comes tomorrow - we're going to a friends' house and they grill out and she makes delicious brownies with hershey's kisses in them. i gotta pass.

other than that, not much happening.. except, you know, fiji is in like 4 weeks. CRAZY. i am actually getting excited, although not about the planning part or the shopping part or the packing part.

also, like.. 2 weeks til atlanta! yipee! ok, sleepy, bedtime.

Monday, September 14, 2009
  Macy's first trip to Sunday school
Macy is totally the little girl version of Gretchen, our crazy puggle who is awesome and a troublemaker and FULL of personality.

My sister took Macy to Sunday school the other morning. And you know how lots of parents use Sunday school as a babysitter? Drop the kids off, go home and get a nap in to take the edge off the hangover? Okay, maybe that was just my parents. But probably not, because the church has gotten wise to it. Apparently now Kamille has to go to church and then they come get the kids 20 minutes into the service.

Macy is three and crazy and hilarious. So while the service is going on, Macy is lifting up her dress. When Kamille told her to put it down, she yelled, "BUT MY HOO-HA ITCHES!" I'm assuming you all know what a hoo-ha is.

Macy wouldn't quiet down, so Kamille said that they had to leave and started to lead her out. By this time, the church service was in a prayer. Kamille tried to rush her out quietly, but then Macy realized she would be missing out on the after-service donut. "BUT I WANT A DONUT!" she yelled out, as the church was silent in prayer. Kamille was mortified, but I told her to not worry as people like me, being dragged to church by their fiances, live for that kinda stuff.

For you parents out there, this may be a run-of-the-mill, happens-every-day kinda story, but I thought it was hilarious. My niece Macy, she rocks.

And so does my niece Amanda, and she's coming to see me for Christmas and we're going to go get her nose pierced! Yes, with her mother's permission! :)
  best diet ever?

to give you a clue, it's what happens to the cows when the dairy industry is done with them. oh, and this cow is pregnant. which doubles the awful-ness. and also, the guys are laughing. which quadruples it.

i got an email from last night about something COMPLETELY different, then saw there was an 'animal rights' section at the top, so clicked there and next thing you know i'm watching this video and hyperventilating. today i have been so sad and disgusted that i have hardly eaten anything, and the only dairy i took in was the cream in my coffee.. and by the day's second coffee, i couldn't do it and went all the way to starbucks for a soy latte instead.

also, i made chris watch the video because when i'm upset about this stuff OF COURSE he has to listen to it, so i said hey, THIS is WHY i go so crazy, and i hit play and left the room. he was pretty shocked when i came back, but was making the excuse that it was the italians since that's where this video is from. no one wants to think that this is going on to the animals THEY eat and whose milk THEY drink, you know?

i remember, years ago i was working with a religious, observant jew who kept kosher. there was a big story about someone who had gone undercover at this huge kosher slaughterhouse.. like, THE BIGGEST.. and got truly horrible footage. as steven had explained to me previously, kosher slaughter was the most humane since it was meant to be quick and painless for the animals. yet, in this slaughterhouse, the cows were staggering around AFTER their throats had been slit. SO NOT KOSHER. and when i told him this, he said i must be wrong, no kosher slaughterhouses would be like THAT. end of story, no further research. i always thought that was so strange.. he was a really nice guy and religion was incredibly important to him, yet... he didn't want to seek out that truth? like, where would i get a story like that, and wouldn't you want to at least check it out?

anyway, sorry for my depressing video of the day.

not much going on here. maybe i'll write a macy email to cleanse the palate.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
  My lord

Mind you, I don't go SEEKING this stuff out. I read it on And two other other-oriented blogs. Not animal-related.

This is an investigation into the egg & meat industry. I thought it was just about eggs, but apparently they only grow females for meat too because they grow faster. What happens to the males? They grind those baby chicks alive. Honestly. ?!?!?!?! And this isn't some crazy animal-hugger lie, either; the spokesman for the company confirmed it. What better option is there, he asked?

The latest posting where I saw this story said that this video "confirms that humanity is a disease."

I have to agree. It is absolutely SHAMEFUL how we treat other living beings. People that will defend a stem cell to the death eat beef and pork and all sorts of other things, ignoring the suffering that went into it. I have read about babies who are born WITHOUT BRAINS (seriously) whose parents defend its right to life. How is it that human life is THAT precious... that even when there is no real "life" there beyond the technical, it must be defended... but we can treat animals like they're nothing more than objects. Even though THEY have feelings, unlike stem cells and brainless babies.

Seriously, folks (aka my 2 readers), do a little bit of research about eating meat. Beyond the ENVIRONMENTAL reasons that should stop you from eating meat, it should only take one or two undercover videos to make you realize that NO MEAL is worth that suffering.

I do still eat dairy products, but limit it to Stonyfield Organics or Organic Valley. As for eggs, I am doing research into companies I may be able to use. I love my eggs over easy on the weekends. Barring finding a company that doesn't make me want to barf, I am so finding someone local with chickens.. until we can move out into the country and adopt some chickens and some loud roosters.

I'm having a SERIOUS people-suck kinda day. I also stumbled across bear bile farming on Flickr while looking for a new enclosure for my rabbits. Don't bother googling that unless you want to cry your eyes out because that's exactly what I did.

I see militant animal activisim in my future, or maybe later-life vet school so I can volunteer with an organization in another country that is really making a difference.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
  i kinda wanna go to alaska

, originally uploaded by RangerRoy.


Thursday, September 03, 2009
  If you ever want to be shocked at the cruelty than humans can be capable of...

Truly, truly disturbing.

The rabbit-Petland thing? The raccoon thing? MY LORD. This, my friends, is why I like animals better.

Go sign some of the alerts. You just fill in your name once and it automatically sends the emails to where they need to go for every alert you do after.

You may think PETA is crazy, but you have to admit... they have a point, right? And they make it very easy for people like me who can't dwell on this stuff too long to quickly voice their opinions.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
  Weekend in Naples
So Chris had a conference in Naples this weekend. That's the west coast of Florida, for you non-Floridians. You know, from my house if you drive east you fall into the ocean in about one city block. If you drive west, it would take you about two hours to fall into the Gulf of Mexico. That's where Naples is, on the coast.

Chris had a conference to attend Saturday, so I was left to my own devices. I had big plans, involving cameras and wildlife areas and sunrises, but the hotel had cable. (We canceled ours, remember.) And there was Law & Order on. Chris had a dinner Friday night and then we went out and it was his night to drink, so we didn't even get back to the hotel until about midnight anyhow. And oh Lord, you should have seen him. There is NOTHING more annoying than a drunk person when you are stone-cold sober. AAAYYYYY. Highlight of the night: I was allowing myself one drink, and I chose well. LYCHEE MARTINI. Yummiest thing ever.

So anyway, Saturday it turned out to rain all day anyway. We had a pretty serious balcony, so I could see the rain everywhere around us in the distance. It was cool. So I stayed in the room and watched some TV and got some coffee and stuff like that.

View from the balcony
That's the view.

Trees from our balcony
Trees! From the balcony

Oh yeah, when we got there we went to the Whole Foods there so I could stock up on healthy food and avoid having to eat bad-for-you and expensive food out the whole weekend. I stand by my idea that eating out is wonderful, but it should be an occasion and entertainment, not just convenience.

So anyway, while Chris was at dinner, I got to eat this:

Enjoying my fruit pie on the balcony
Yeah, yeah, baby.. $7 fruit pie. SO GOOD. And it's just fruit and almonds and dates!

Saturday Chris was all hungover and feeling bad, so when he got done with his conference at 3, he took a nap (!!!) and I went outside.

I was trying to figure out how I could get into the swampy area we could see from the balcony, but there were gates that prevented that, so I grabbed my bike and started to ride. I got just a few blocks away and found a gated-off area that I quickly ducked into to check out. I saw birds and water and fun stuff like that.... So I started taking some pictures. Soon enough, a golf cart came zipping by. Yeah, I was right next to a golf course. On it, just not in view of it yet.

Pretty flower, golf course.
Golf course flower

Golf course butterfly

People in Naples LOVE golf. I have never seen so many golf courses in my life. Every ten feet. So many housing developments advertised GOLF COURSE LIVING. Seriously... okay, I understand liking something, but COME ON.

So anyway, I spent a good hour and a half snapping non-keeper pictures and just enjoying the quiet and the beautiful (HOT, HUMID) weather.

Then I rode to the Target on my bike so I could buy Chris something to wear.

See, people in Naples are also VERY RICH. It's one of the wealthiest cities in the country. And what did Chris bring to wear when we went out?

It's 5 o'clock somewhere.  At least, that was his excuse.
This outfit, basically, except it wasn't a nice new Steelers t-shirt, it was an old, dingy Our Place (local hangout) shirt. And light-brown swim trunks. With Crocs, of course. This pic was taken in Key West and while I have NO PROBLEM with him dressing like that there, Naples is NOT Key West. We drove by the place we were going to go out Friday night and there was a guy in a SUIT outside smoking. And Chris was wearing swim trunks. AGGH.

So I got him this for Saturday night:

And shorts that weren't made for swimming. :)
See? Real shorts. And SLEEVES! No armpits! He was COMPLAINING TO DEATH, like I had just made him put on a fucking tux... while in actuality it was a super soft, 100% cotton nice shirt and some cargo shorts. Which he insisted were too small for him even though they fit him PERFECT. He looked really nice. :) And he still got to wear his Crocs, only now they matched.

Oh, look where our room was:

Our room. I guess the Hyatt folks ain't superstitious.
I guess places are starting to stop this whole superstitious no-13th floor business.

Oh, OK, so we were actually in Bonita Springs, about a half hour from Naples. And the place is, like, my hell. Like the whole Naples-Bonita Springs area just felt like CORAL SPRINGS for those of you who that means something to. Mega pedestrian-unfriendly. Tons of housing developments named things like Turtle Run and Pelican Landing when you know they drained and tore down anything that would make it a place where turtles or pelicans could live. It was just awful. I spent the whole time marveling how anyone could live there. To add to that, it's still very much UNDER development, rather than being already developed, like where I live. And trust me, it's much more depressing when you're watching somewhere go from what it looked like off the hotel balcony to what it looked like on the hotel grounds. I stood and stared off the balcony and wondered how long those trees and that swampy area (with wading birds!) would be there. Sad.

And on my 10-mile bike ride I did not see not even ONE pedestrian or other person on a bike. Not one! Just cars. And we were on the main drag (Tamiami Trail). SO WEIRD.

Oh, and everything was deserted too. I guess the recession has hit that part of Florida BAD, combined with its really extreme seasonality.

This was at like 5 p.m. on a Saturday.

Ghost Town
And that's how most of the shopping centers looked. Ft Myers is closeby and I think it has the highest unemployment & foreclosure rates in Florida.

Saturday night we met Dean & Meredith out for my one eat-out meal of the weekend at Truluck's which was INSANELY DELICIOUSLY YUMMY. OMG. Meredith brought her friends.

Meredith be drunk.

Sunday I dragged Chris to Delnor-Wiggins beach in Naples, which is a park and a nice section of beach free from development. Notably, there were sand dollars EVERYWHERE. Everywhere! You walked on them when you were in the water.. I picked a bunch of out of the water to check them out and there were BABY CRABS that were so tiny on them. I wanted a picture but didn't want to take them out of the water for long, so alas..

This girl was so cute.
This little girl was so cute, playing in the water.

There were tons of birds at Delnor-Wiggins on the beach too, and I have like a hundred pics of a few different kinds of birds running around, but picking a few keepers is really hard since birds are USUALLY quite pretty, by nature. I have to find a sandpiper picture and put it up, though, since they are so cute. OH, there was a manatee in the water, right by where I was, but I was talking to some lady and her husband was right there and he made some noise of surprise when he saw it that basically scared it away. SMOOTH MOVE, DUDE.

I have 1,000 bird pictures.
Some other bird. Also cute.

Then we went to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, something run by Audubon. It's like a half-hour from Naples the city, but is still in "Naples." We were kinda hurrying through since we wanted to get home at a decent time, but did the 3-mile trail and were able to enjoy it.

It smelled SO GOOD there. Like plants. Like Costa Rica. It made me realize I need to go to places like that more often. And back to Costa Rica.

I saw a deer there, up close.. And I even had my camera out, but I knew that clicking the shutter would ruin it and he'd run away, so I just held my breath and enjoyed the moment. :)

Corkscrew pictures:



Floating leaf.
Doesn't it look like it's floating?

Chris said: I guess Oreo has been here.
Chris saw this and said, "I guess Oreo's been here." Hehe.


A lake.
That's water under that green stuff! Am I weird.. I just wanted to go wading in it so bad.

The trail... so pretty, and it smelled good too.
Innit pretty? I wish this were scratch & sniff.

It's got its own solar system
The tree trunks are works of art

Hello, little frog!

I REALLY like green stuff

I like green stuff.

Tall, tall trees
There are lots of tall trees there. LOVE IT.

So that was Naples. We got home at 7 p.m. or so on Sunday and we were SO TIRED but I was glad that we took advantage of the fact we were over there to see some cool stuff.
I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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