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Monday, June 30, 2008

Word Clouds by Wordle.com

I was just visiting Evonne's Blog over at Event's by Evonne and saw her post on Wordle.com.

Wordle.com is a fun program that creates a graphic display using words that describe you! By entering some copy into a generator, I pulled bits from my blog and website, it will create a word cloud making the words used most often larger and those used least often smaller. So cool I had to try it out!


You can choose different formats, fonts and color palettes. It's so easy! Make one about your company or hobby. Once you make your word cloud you can use it for anything you want including but not limited to cards and T-shirts. And best of all? It's free! You could even enter appropriate words to design your own super cute Save-the-Date card for your wedding or an invite for a party. Just be sure to repeat the words you want to be the largest several times.

Vertical Format

Horizontal Format

Sunday, June 29, 2008

T-Shirt for Bloggers

I literally laughed out loud when I saw this t-shirt featured on That IT Girl's blog. You can purchase it at the Ladybug Landings Cafepress Gift Shop.

But it brings up a good point of discussion. What exactly do you say on your blog? How negative are you willing to go? Some blogs may be a way for the blog owner and even their visitors leaving comments to vent. Others, like this one, concentrate on sharing fun ideas, information and positive energy. If you aren't bashing anyone you probably don't have to worry too much about things like defamation. I recently read an MSNBC article titled "Training helps bloggers hone professionalism" which focused on the fact that blogging inaccurate, negative content can be grounds for someone bringing a defamation lawsuit against you.

All in all I think if your blog focuses on the positive and you use common sense you can most likely avoid the slippery slope of litigation. How? By always researching for accuracy and crediting sources. Typically I will make sure everyone included in my blog not only knows they are, but I give them the option to have any content that refers to them or their company be modified to more accurately describe them. I would want the same courtesy so I approach blogging with a "do unto others" philosophy.

Another big mistake? Copyright infringement. This would include cross posting both text content from other websites and blogs and photographs. In both instances you have to use common sense. I think for the most part there is an understanding amongst bloggers that cross-posting content, meaning if you read something on someone else's blog and you want to share it with readers on your blog, it's ok as long as you provide a link back to the original source. In fact cross posting is a good thing. It helps to give your blog more exposure.

Here one of our Flirty Ideas was cross posted on Wedding.BlogDig.net

If you copy a post or source verbatim you would be obligated to both credit and link back to the original source. If you don't, you may open yourself up to a cease and desist letter or some other type of legal action landing in your email or mailbox if the original author finds out. And quite frankly it sucks being put into the position of having to contact someone to say "Hey, I see you've copied my work. Please either credit me or stop." It sounds so accusatory but something you may one day have to do to protect your own interests.

If you are ever on the other end of things and see that someone has copied your work? You can assume the worst (that someone has stolen something from you) or you can assume goodwill and that the person who copied your work simply didn't realize that they were infringing on your copyright by doing so. When it happened to me? A simple letter asking the content be removed was all it took and I must say I was happy for it as I see no point in creating hard feelings or animosity between myself and any of my fellow professionals if I can possibly avoid it. This way we call all remain on the friendliest of terms when we happen to run into each other at future industry events. To me that's the best. When you reach out to someone hoping they will understand where you are coming from. And they do :o)

The Wait is Over

A wedding is always a joyous occasion. Even more so for those who, for any reason, have ever had to wait to say "I do." So June 16th was a significant day for many couples who had been waiting, some for decades, to take their vows. The Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage in California took effect at 5:01 pm that day. It took 6 minutes for Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, who had been life partners for 50 years, to become the first same sex couple to be officially married at San Francisco City Hall at 5:07 pm that day.

Bright and early the next day Meg and Michael Weddings were there to capture the moment so many couples had been waiting for for so long. That morning they packed up their equipment and headed up to City Hall to spend the day doing what they do best: Photographing couples tying the knot. In total they took over 600 complimentary (at no charge) pictures of the brides and grooms who had come to City Hall for their nuptials.

From City Hall ceremonies to platinum opulence, they will joyfully record your wedding. Their standard photography services are inclusive of all couples.

Knowing there will be a new surge of weddings at the San Francisco City Hall they are now offering two, very special, reasonably priced, City Hall Packages for all couples getting married there:

Option 1: Two hours that cover the ceremony , family photos, and love portraits around City Hall including the perfected high-res image files for $400. (view sample of this package)

Option 2: For $600 the package includes 2 additional hours of coverage (four hours total) and your choice of either a trip around SF to a few fabulous locations for portraits or some reception coverage.

For more information about getting married at the San Francisco City Hall CLICK HERE.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Haagan-Dazs Needs our Help!

No, this isn't about buying more ice cream. Though I'm sure they would appreciate it if you did. No, what they want is for all of us to plant flowers in our yards this summer. It's all because of the missing honeybees.

In case you didn't know, the U.S. is in a bee crisis. For some reason, still to be determined, the honeybees our nation's fruit and nut crops rely on for pollination have been disappearing for the past 4 years. We are now at a critical point where the losses are so great that future crop production and *gasp* 40% of Haagan-Dazs flavors could be threatened!

Here's a little lesson in beekeeping 101 for you: Bee keepers truck the bees to orchards for pollination, kind of like touring bee hives for hire. But lately when the bee keepers come back to pick them up when their gig is up? All they find is the queen bee abandoned in the hive and all of the worker bees are *poof* gone.

PBS even did a special about it. You can watch Silence of the Bees online by Clicking Here.

Now Haagan-Dazs has built a website called www.helpthehoneybees.com where you can learn all about what is going on along with what they are doing, and what you can do to help. They are also donating proceeds from any flavor of their ice cream that requires bees for pollinating any of the ingredients used in that flavor to help fund the research to find out what the heck is going on.

Haagan-Dazs is doing more then talking the talk... They are donating $250,000 to research at the University of Davis California and the University of Pennsylvania to help find the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder. They are also encouraging all of us to create some natural habitat in our own yards to help sustain native bee populations like bumble bees.

Recommended plants are:

Lavender
Rosemary
Thyme

Bluebells
Cone Flowers
Coreopsis
Cosmos
Glory Bushes
Jasmine
Sunflowers
Trumpet Vine
Wisteria

It could be a virus brought in by foreign bees killing them off or pesticides that are messing with the bees navigation systems could be to blame. Or it could be genetic defects, pollution, or the way single crops have replaced the native flora that gave the native bees a balanced diet of different types of pollens. It may stem from one cause or a combination of many.

In any case I love nature and I love ice cream so next week I'm going to buy some bee friendly, flowering plants for my yard. And I will not use pesticides.

The bees and Haagan-Dazs are relying on us to help save the little buzzers that are still around. So please consider starting an herb garden or planting some flowering plants to give our little yellow and black striped friends something good to eat.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Baby! What a Great Birthday Party!

And when I say baby? I mean BABY! When Roman Alexander celebrated his very first birthday his mom, Katherine Noller-Fernandez of Custom Celebrations being a professional event coordinator and all, threw him a super cute, Frog Prince, themed party.

To view a whole pile of pictures just CLICK HERE.

I  know there were some super cute birthday cakes my mom and aunties used to make me when I was a kid. I'll have to find some pics and post them. There was the cutest train and another year a really fun bunny cake. Even though I wouldn't remember some of them because I was too young? Growing up with an album full of pictures makes me feel like I remember them from when they happened. I was lucky that my dad enjoyed photography as a hobby so even though he didn't have the convenience of a digital camera? He didn't let that stop him from taking lots of pictures of my childhood.

Now those are some frog legs I would eat!

A lot of the wedding photographers I chat with mention that it's always fun for them to continue working with their brides and grooms after the wedding has passed. Their new extended working relationship usually starts with the first baby, or maybe even a puppy, and continues on throughout the years.

One of our Fun and Flirty Ideas!


Sweet treats.

Photos courtesy of: Vince Tarry Photography

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ten Thousand Rubber Ducks

To read all about why I was at the Silicon Valley Duck Race at the gorgeous Vasona Lake Park and the adjacent Oak Meadow Park you can read a previous blog post that explains why, for charity, I adopted a rubber duck.

How hilarious is this?

Normally at other venues the ducks are dumped into the water with a dump truck. You can view pics by CLICKING HERE. In Los Gatos they weren't able to get a permit to use a dump truck so they rigged these huge bags, that they had fastened to the bridge, to overturn dumping all of the duckies into the creek.

It was quite a moment with a real countdown and everything.

Here they come!
 
"Rubber ducky you're the one. You make race time lots of fun!"

Coming down the home stretch...

Heading towards the finish line.

The first one through the end of the bumpers was the winner! Second place made it through, then apparently the other 9,998 ducks got all clogged up so they had to choose the other 18 prize winning ducks manually.

The grand prize was a new Vespa! Honestly? I wanted to win either the $100 gift certificate to Michi Sushi or the $1090 dinner for 8 at La Fondue. As it ended up I won nothing but had a blast.


The losers...

Click the image to enlarge it.

Here's a picture board of all of the fun stuff that I saw on race day. Most of the activities were there special for the event. This is a great kids excursion. If you bring a picnic lunch even better. The food was a bit pricey. But they had lots of fun games and little workshops for the kids. They were selling tickets for those activities but I neglected to notice how much they cost. Dining choices included hot dogs, hamburgers, falafels, shaved ice and Dippin Dots. I had a mango Jamba Juice and some potato salad.

I loved how this image had a very nostalgic "country fair" feel to it. I figured if I converted it to sepia tone it would even more so. The only thing that isn't nostalgic are the prices! LOL


The carousel is an established attraction at Oak Meadow park.

The miniature train ride is also a regular feature at the park.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Here is one last picture board of all of the things that you can normally do and see at the park. From walking, skating, running or biking on the pathways to renting a small sail or paddle boat to several jungle gym sets for kids in both Vasona and Oak Meadow park and lots of meadow and picnic areas there is something for everyone. Even pets have a great time taking a dip in the creek on a hot day. For nature lovers the creek and lake attract ducks, Canadian geese, egrets and herons. The lake also offers fishing for Black Bass, Crappie, Catfish and Blue Gill.

It is a dog friendly park but dogs must be kept on leash at all times.

There is also a free summer concert series called Vasona Vibrations that takes place every Saturday throughout June and July. 

My Canon Point and Shoot


In case you've ever wondered... This is the camera I use to take almost all of the photos featured here on my Fun and Flirty Blog. It's the Canon Powershot SD600 Digital Elph.

It's a great little camera. One of the things I love most about my Elph is that it has a macro feature. I use it a lot, especially for all of my food pictures. Plus it's so tiny I can take it anywhere.

I even drive with the camera sitting on the seat beside me now so I don't miss a shot if I'm driving down the street.

For instance one day I drove past the Santana Row shopping center in Santa Clara. That particular day they were moving some trees. And I don't mean little tiny trees in one gallon tubs. Nope these were HUMONGOUS oak trees that were easily decades old.

As I drove by I turned my head and saw one of these massive trees, suspended in midair by a crane, floating a good 30 or more feet above the ground. By the time I came around the block and dug out my camera it was too late. I'd missed the shot. I did get this one of a tree already loaded on the back of a flatbed to be moved to I have no idea where... The one I saw floating is the one behind it to the right.

Ahhhh I'm so bitter that I missed that shot. It was surreal. Like something from a Dali painting. A ginormous floating tree. Well I won't be caught unprepared again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Claremont Resort and Spa • SF NACE

Over the years I can't tell you how many times I've driven past the Claremont Resort and Spa, nestled just above College Avenue in Berkley, and never had the occasion to step inside. Well that all changed recently when I attended an industry function hosted by the National Association of Catering Executives, at this stunning venue.

This image is from the Claremont website.

This was one of the first industry events I've been to where many people from the hotel staff were not only in attendance, but were mingling with the guests instead of standing off on the sidelines, and I have to say I really liked that! From talking to the bartender to their event and sales staff members it was a real treat to hear more about the venue from many different perspectives.

The Lobby


Oooooh a massage sounds good!

For the Dinner hour these beautiful, low profile ikebana styled centerpieces were provided by Karen Hsu of Grandiflora. Linens by Classic Party Rental.

The food was excellent! Set up as buffet stations it was nice to see exactly how the room would look for a reception. I was so buy taking pictures of the food I neglected to get a shot of the room but if you'd seen the food? You wouldn't blame me for being distracted. The entire menu for the evening was well planned in that there was basically something for everyone from vegans to meat eaters. I only ate the smoked fish and sushi, and a few desserts so I can absolutely say they were delicious! Especially the little dessert that was like a little cookie on top of cherries on top of chocolate and something else that was yummers, I can't remember exactly what it was but it was delish!

All the sushi you could eat!

Cheese please!

Desserts galore!

Here was the entire menu for the evening:

Smoked Fish Display Station
Smoked Trout, Sturgeon, Salmon & Smoked Oysters
California Rolls
Blinis, Creme Fraiche and Caviar
Paragon Signature Dish
Ahi-tuna Tartare with Taro Root Chips

Pasta Station
Porcini and Truffle Ravioli
Wild Mushroom Ragout with Light Herb Jus

Salad Station
Baby Spinach & Frisee with Goat Cheese, Almonds, Raspberries Tossed in a Raspberry Vinaigarette

Gazpacho Soup

Grilled Vegetable Medley:
Mushrooms, Asparagus, Onions, Potatoes, Zucchini, Summer Squashes, Tomatoes and Eggplant

Carving Station
Roasted NY Tenderloin of Beef
Assorted Mustards, Horseradish, Zinfandel Jus

Colorado Rack of Lamb
Marinated in Rosemary and Garlic

Dessert Station
Cherries Jubilee
Assorted Petit Fours from Chef Claus and Team

Coffee Station
Freshly Starbucks Coffee and Tea

A petite, cocktail table arrangement from Grandiflora.

From the hotel is a beautiful view of downtown San Francisco.

This image was taken from the Claremont website.

If the idea of an elegant venue that offers both indoor and outdoor ceremonies is what you're looking for but you don't want a traditional skyscraper hotel? This may be the perfect place. The exterior in particular evokes a feeling of the Grand Hotel featured in the movie Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour which, imo, is the most romantic movie ever made.

There will be a part two to this post with 6 more gorgeous floral displays by Grandiflora and a hilarious recounting of a table decorating competition I participated in that evening so stay tuned!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The 25 Live North American Tour


This photo from the Official George Michael Website, all others from my iPhone.

He's baaaaaaack! I really love George Michael's music. I love his voice, his songs and his lyrics. Particularly I love the Listen Without Prejudice album. I was thrilled when my hubby told me he had got us tickets to see him on the second stop of his 23 city, U.S. tour. I was not disappointed. He sounds as amazing as he did when I first saw him on his Faith tour 20 years ago! His latest release, a 2 CD set titled TwentyFive, celebrates the 25  years he has spent in the music industry.

After thanking the crowd for their support the past 25 years, George Michael humbled himself a bit by acknowledging how much he appreciates his fans standing by him "Because Lord knows it's not always easy being a George Michael fan" he told the audience. The crowd responded with a huge round of laughter and cheers.

We got there early and watched the HP Pavilion, home of the San Jose Sharks, fill up...

The picture on the left is approximately 7:30 pm, the center around 8:00 pm and the far right is the capacity crowd rockin' out! If you're a fan and you have the opportunity to catch one of his remaining shows... GO! You'll love it. Seemed like everyone around us did. When the lights dimmed the show opened with the "Waiting reprise" from Listen Without Prejudice. Oooooh I love that song! He performed for 2.5 hours! There was no opening act. It was just George.

That's him, super tiny at the front edge of the stage. We were well to the back of the arena up in the nosebleed section but honestly it didn't matter. Everything about the show was still amazing. He sang all of my favorites, One More Try, Kissing a Fool, A Different Corner, Careless Whisper, Freedom, Praying for Time, Faith, and more. Ooooh it was super cool! Hit after hit along with some new songs.

He let us know that he will continue making guest appearances on the second season of the tv show Eli Stone but folks... This may well be his final concert tour ever. Reports are he will not be pursuing music as his main interest in the future and any music he does create will most likely be given away free online. This could be your last chance!

"Father Figure"

How cool is this backdrop?

LOVE IT!

"A Different Corner"

IMHO his soulful rendition of "Praying for Time" was the best song of the evening. It literally brought tears to my eyes.

And it's hard to love, there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time




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