Friday, March 27, 2009

Blastoff!

I've been dabbling in invitation design since my wedding, when I stupidly made all my invites myself. Matting all that paper... tying all those ribbons. Blah. But for some reason, I keep wanting to do it again. Next, I designed my Christmas letter and made all the cards it went in too. Then it was the bay-BEE shower invites, and the baby thank you cards. I think I may be sick.

Anyway, when a blog friend asked if somebody could design her son's first birthday invites, I of course jumped at the chance. And I found out this time that doing digital stuff is much easier than hand-making 50 invites.


I used Rachael's Space Cadet kit for this invite. Go check her out here - she does amazing work and is such a sweetheart too!

Need some cards or invites? E-mail me and we'll talk about how I can make you some! Digital (so you can get them printed yourself) or paper (so I can pull a few all-nighters), I can give you a good price and donate some of it to String of Pearls!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A year later, the wedding registry items I like the best

It's been a good year for Jack and me. We learned how to live together. He learned how to consistently clean up after himself, and I sort of learned how to cook. We're still learning a lot about marriage and communication, but so far we're enjoying being married. It was a good first year.

This post doesn't have much to do with marriage, though. Who wants to hear the sappy stuff about our marriage, when you can read a post about all the stuff you get when you get married!? 

I wanted to make a little list for my hundreds tens of readers to know what we've benefitted from most from our gift registry, so maybe you can get a useful gift for someone else or register for the right thing if you're registering for a wedding yourself. 

Here's my top ten eleven registry items, a year later:
  1. My serving platters. I love them so much!! I remember that we got them from Suzie Swank, my friend from College Station, because when I opened them, I thought "what a perfect gift from Suzie Swank!" She's THE most elegant entertainer I know, Martha Stewart included (not that I know Martha). I also like all the other stuff that compliments them, like the multi-server and different-sized serving bowls, as well as the Corningware. It's all very, very good for entertaining.
  2. Our dual-controlled micro-plush electric blanket. We actually didn't receive this one as a wedding gift, but we had registered for it, and it's the first thing we bought with our gift cards after the wedding. It has been AMAZING, especially in our super-cold room. Totally worth the $100.
  3. Our KitchenAid 4-piece prep bowl set. Angela gave us these and we always think about her when we use them. These are fantastic. I use them mostly for food storage, because the lids are SO tight. They're great.
  4. Our super-awesome coffee maker that you can preset to brew automatically. We love getting up to already-made coffee!
  5. My electric fondue pot. Amazing. And always a hit for parties.
  6. The toastation! It's a toaster oven AND a regular toaster. In one. Sometimes the toast isn't all that even, but whatever. It's both a toaster and an oven. I love it.
  7. My over-the-door ironing board. Anybody who knows me knows I don't iron or do laundry very often, but when I do, this baby is nice pop out and put away. While I'm at it, I love the retractable cord on my iron
  8. Henckels Professional "S" 6" Utility Knife. This is the knife I use most often and it's fantastic.
  9. My set of 3 stacking measuring cups, kind of like these. Very handy.
  10. My dustbuster. I use it all the time. I also love my super-fancy upright vacuum. My grandma gave us both of those (as well as the GPS, which I also love.).
  11. My digital meat thermometer that you can put in the oven - it beeps when the meat's done! Just don't use it on the grill, because you'll burn it up. Oops.
Here are our original Target and Bed Bath & Beyond registries, if you care. If you have any questions about what we think about the stuff we got before you buy it, feel free to ask. You know how much I love telling you my opinion, solicited or otherwise!

Monday, March 23, 2009

David: A Man of Passion and Destiny, Part 1

I just listened to Insight for Living's new radio drama, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny Part 1. Now before you start thinking that I'm biased because I work there, let me tell you, I might be, but I'm probably not. Though my group made this radio drama, I didn't help edit or produce this, so I could listen to it with fresh ears.

I have been a huge fan of radio dramas all my life, my obsession beginning with Adventures in Odyssey as a child (and, well, any time there's a road trip in our family). I loved Focus on the Family's radio theater too. And when I was at EDS, my job was to create and produce an internal training production called "EDS Audio Theater." I love this stuff, which is both why I enjoyed this one and why I'm very critical of radio theater stuff (a lot of times it can sound cheesy if it's not done correctly).

This radio drama tells the story of David's young life, from learning how to be a shepard as a boy to the dramatic battle in which he slew Goliath.

The actors are fabulous. Goliath actually scared me a little. And, although I may be a little biased about the producers, I think the sound design work was incredible as well. I hope someday I can create something this magnificent. I will definitely be listening to David Part 2 when we come out with it.

You can get a copy of David: A Man of Passion and Destiny Part 1 here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dinner-versary

Holy cow! That husband of mine really knows how to plan an anniversary!

Jack had told me that he was taking me out to dinner for our anniversary, though he didn't tell me where we were going. I knew it would be someplace nice, though, because he told me to dress up, and he doesn't generally hide the destination from me unless it's a nice place.

He had me type in the address to the GPS, which didn't really tell me anything because it was a location I didn't recognize in downtown Dallas, and I'm an embarrassingly stereotypical girl when it comes to directions and knowing where I am most of the time.

He ended up taking me to the Capital Grille, a super-nice steakhouse that came highly recommended by my brother. It was really great. I had the tenderloin and lobster, Jack had a steak, and we had asparagus and lobster macaroni and cheese. Everything was delicious. The service was also excellent, and they made a very big deal out of our anniversary - confetti on the table, a signed card from the staff, a complimentary dessert, rose, and picture of us. Very nice.

Jack told me before we had left that we were going ice skating at the Galleria, which was nearby ["nearby" being assumed because I figured "we're close to downtown... Galleria is close to downtown..."]. We had brought a change of clothes, and so when we got into the car, Jack told me to get us back to the main highway with the GPS.

We got to the highway, and he took a wrong turn and had to circle around. When he got onto the highway a second time, he took a wrong exit. I saw it coming and tried to warn him.

"Jack! You're supposed to keep left! Keep left!" I warned. No help. He veered right and ended up on a different ramp.

"Ahh, I'm sorry," he said, as he got into the turn-lane.

"Here, I'll type the Galleria into the GPS and it'll give us directions right to it," I said. He kept driving as I messed with the GPS, took pictures out the window of the big shiny buildings, and replied to my brother's e-mail about the resturaunt.

Since the GPS was having a hard time finding satellites in the middle of downtown Dallas, all the searches for the mall were taking extra-long. Then, when something finally came up, it was something near the Galleria, and I didn't know if that's where we wanted to be. While I continued to mess with the GPS, Jack continued to drive around. When I finally looked up, he was pulling onto Turtle Creek Blvd.

I looked up at the sign, and it took a minute to register.

"Jack... why are we on Turtle Creek Blvd?" I asked him, as he was already turning in to the super-fancy hotel we stayed at on our wedding night. He put the car in park and looked back at me.

"Why do you think?" he asked, grinning. The valet opened my door and I looked up at him, confused.

"Am I staying here?" I asked the stranger. "What about our leftovers?" He looked back at me confused, as I got out of the car.

Jack and I grabbed the clothes we were going to change into to go "ice skating" and put them in his travel bag, which apparently also housed all the toiletries he had bought for me for this trip - new toothbrush, toothpaste, deoderant, etc., so I wouldn't notice any of my stuff gone. Clever, Hornbuckle. Very clever.

We had a lovely evening at the Mansion at Turtle Creek, and got to enjoy it a little more since we weren't exhausted after having just starred in a wedding this time. We took a walk around the neighborhood, visited the bar downstairs to see the live music, and I used the super-nice bathtub that I regretted not using last year. They put us in the same room we had been in the year before, and included chocolate-covered strawberries with our champagne. We also had room service in the morning (my favorite part!) with enough gourmet breakfast food to feed a small country. Ahh, the life of royalty. I could get used to this.

Jack also had special stationary cards made for me for our "paper" anniversary gift. He got them in my favorite color (purple), and had them completely customized just for me. I love them.

Nice work, Hornbuckle. Guess I'll keep you around another year!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Easter in a jar (Make Something Monday, a little early!)

I spent this morning making these Easter Bunny Smores jars that Tip junkie had posted a few weeks ago. I think they turned out very well, and they were pretty fun to make! I also made a batch of the bars from the leftover bunnies, m&ms, and graham crackers, and they are really quite yummy! Kind of ugly after they're made, but yummy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not Me Monday!

Check out MckMama at www.mycharmingkids.net for much fun and loveliness.

I am not posting this from my phone at 7 in the freaking morning at the airport. Ugh.

I did NOT get only 3 hours of sleep last night because Jack and I played in Vegas until 2am. That would be irresponsible when we knew we had an early flight.

On the way to the airport on Thursday night, I did not eat an entire super-sized meal (minus the drink), plus an apple pie at MckDonalds (yes, I realize that's not really how to spell it). Gross. If I had, I DEFINITELY wouldn't have eaten even more on the plane just because we were in first class and it was free.

I did NOT decide I was pretty much done with Vegas by day 2. I did not grow tired of all the icky (and stupid!) people on the strip.

I did NOT forget to put my memory card back in my camera before Saturday's Vegas outting and therefore have to take pictures on my phone all day.

I am NOT sitting near one of the most ANNOYING teenagers in the world at the airport. I am NOT thinking about punching her in the face if she doesn't SHUT UP!!!

I think that's it for now. What did you NOT do today?

--

Update - I did NOT trade a first class seat for a coach seat so I could sit by my husband while he slept the entire. flight. home.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My very first Vegas gamble

Today, Jack and I were walking around the hotel, killing some time before our friends picked us up for dinner at Hofbrauhaus. As we walked through the casino, I mentioned to Jack that I've never played a slot machine (or anything in Vegas, now that I think about it). We stopped walking and approached the nearest slot machine, a penny machine. I dug through my purse and grabbed a dollar-bill, and stuck it into the bill acceptor.

A bunch of buttons lit up.

"Which one am I supposed to push?" I asked Jack, confused.

He vaguely explained the differences between one-line and more than one line slots, so I pushed the 15-line button and pressed "go."

The machine lit up and came to life, and a bunch of confusing stuff happened on the screen. All of the sudden, it announced that I had won a "bonus spin." I pushed one more button, and it spent the next minute or two doing crazy stuff on the screen, without any help from me at all.

It appeared as if I had magically earned a few credits, so when the "cash out" button finally lit up, I pushed it.

A ticket printed. I busted out laughing as I read $17.75 on it. Jack couldn't believe his eyes. One dollar, two minutes, three random button pushes, and $16.75 profit.

I think I'm good now. I've done Vegas.

Hofbrauhaus

This German-style restaurant is unlike any other I've been to. If you're looking for a quiet, romantic evening, this is not your place. You'll walk in to very loud music and very responsive guests. I've never been to a place where it was completely acceptable to yell, scream, and stand up randomly on the chairs and make loud toasts. What a fun environment. The waitresses even speak with *fake* German accents. Worth visiting, but be in the mood to get loud!

Ps - Jack loved loved loved the sauerkraut and sausage. Truly German food. I'm not into it, but he was pretty excited about it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Weird, and a little boring. And probably not worth your time. The only reason I watched it is because there was no other option on the airplane.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Seminary

Tonight at AWANA, Sarah's husband, Owen, came to visit and lead a council time for the kids. Tiffany introduced him to the kids at the beginning of AWANA, explaining that he went to DTS.

"Does anybody know what DTS is?" she asked the kids.

Someone finally answered that it stood for "Dallas Theological Seminary."

"And does anybody know what a 'seminary' is?" she followed up.

A couple hands went up, and she called on a little girl.

"It's where people go when they die," she answered.

Owen just about died laughing.

"Yep... that's about right," Owen agreed.

I think the word she was looking for there was cemetery.

All I want for my birthday...

...is for you to donate to the National MS Society for my Bike MS ride!

Well, that, and a Canon Rebel DSLR. But maybe I can win that from Ellyn.

Mostly, it's the MS thing.

Wordless Wednesday





Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bride Wars

Cute, and worth my $0.75 at the dollar theater, but most of the funny stuff is in the previews. Probably a good renter-movie if you're bored.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Not Me Monday!

This is going to be a short one, but head over to MckMama’s blog for make-you-laugh-out-loud posts and make-you-want-to-stop-taking-your-birth-control-because-her-kids-are-so-darn-cute pictures.

On Saturday, I did not run around like a chicken with my head cut off at the baby shower I hosted in my way-too-crowded house. I did not totally love throwing this awesome couple a shower and I was not super-excited that they got all kinds of cool baby stuff!

Then, on Sunday, I definitely did not sleep until 11 a.m., then get up, move to the couch because Jack was in the living room, and then sleep until 3!! I haven’t done that since college, so I did not do it now that I’m a "grown-up."

Finally, I am not super-excited about my buddy Ellyn’s Profound Pictures giveaway, where you cannot win all kinds of awesome prizes, one of which being a customized blog makeover by yours truly! (But that’s not the one you should be excited about! Check it out to find out what you really should be excited about -*hint*something to take the profound pictures with*hint*!!) Her giveaway is not for three amazing causes!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Proud to Present...


Get excited, people, it's ELI & SETH DAY!

Visit my friend Ellyn for a super-amazing-awesome opportunity to win one of [approximately] 21,583 prizes! (And you can win a blog makeover from little 'ol ME if you post this button on your blog!)

Grab the Profound Pictures button for your blog!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's baby shower day!!!

They don't know if they're having a boy or a girl, so we did a "What will it Bee?" baby shower!

I had so much fun making the diaper cake! I learned how to make the baby sock roses here and the big letter "B" is for their last name (and the bee theme) - I just bought a wooden letter at a craft store and painted it, then added magnets on the back so it would be useful after the diaper cake was taken apart later!

Rolling plastic-ware in napkins and tying a ribbon around each one adds a little extra special touch!




These were inexpensive metal tins that I embellished with black ribbon and the pre-made wooden bee. I used them for the sour cream, pico, guacamole, etc. for our fajitas! (But added clear plastic cups inside so the acid in the salsa wouldn't react with the metal)

Yes, it was a success!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We got 'em today!

...and Maggie didn't like them!

So Ellyn included a request with her super-awesome Let Seth Hear bracelets that I got in the mail today to send her a picture of me or my kids wearing them.

Well, my "kid" didn't like them too terribly much, especially since I was trying so many different ways to actually put them on her... She's not growling in this picture - she was just licking her chops. :)

Trying to get it to stay on her while awkwardly holding mine up for the self-timed camera on the table across the room. I know. I need friends.

She didn't like me putting it on her arm either.

...so she took it off...


Ahhh! Finally! She likes it when it's wrapped around her favorite toy!

Okay, El, I think I'll just take a picture of Jack and me wearing them when he gets home later. The dog isn't a great model. (And by the way - I'm glad you like my street address! You should see it in person! In fact, DO THAT!)

To get your own Seth bracelets to torture your dog with, visit http://www.profoundlyseth.com and read about my incredible friend and her beautiful little family.

AWANA stories of the day

Tonight, one of the boys, D, was trying to get the girls' attention at game time to toss them the ball for their turn to do the relay. He made eye contact with one of them and gently tossed the ball toward her. She remained motionless as the ball bounced a few times then rolled right past her. She watched it roll away, uninterested, and turned back around to talk to her friends.

D watched in stunned silence and then looked up at me.

"I do not understand what girls are thinking," he said, exasperated.

I busted out laughing.

"Yep," I agreed, apathetically. "Get used to that, because it's not going to change."

---

Tonight, as a part of an illustration in council time, Tiffany asked the kids to raise their hand if they had been to a foreign country. A bunch of kids raised their hands, and she called on them one by one.

"Where have you been?" she asked, as she pointed at one of the kids.

"China," the little girl replied.

"Wow! That's great! And what about you?" she asked another.

"Mexico," they answered.

"Oooh, cool," she said, and pointed at another. "And what country did you visit?"

"Alabama," the girl answered.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A day in the life of Mandy, Broadcast Editor extraordinaire

I know what you're thinking. Every day, you open your eyes in the morning and think "I wish I knew what Mandy was doing right now. I want to know every little detail about what she does." You just saw the title of this blog post and thought "Finally! I've been waiting all my life to find out what a Broadcast Editor does!"

Actually, I doubt anybody actually cares about this. I mean, really, who cares about this? But most of the purpose of this blog is to document my life and experiences so I can look back someday and think "Gosh, who cares about this?" [Actually, I love having all these stories from before we were married, getting married, and so far the first year of marriage. I love having a history. And so I might as well document this too.]

Anyway, I just thought I'd take you through a normal day in the life of a Broadcast Editor. I really love my job - it's what I've always wanted to do. I'll try not to be too terribly technical, but, well, I work in a semi-technical field, so feel free to insert "blah blah blah Ginger" where needed (anybody get that reference?) if I get into jargon you don't understand. Or, if you're actually interested, you can ask questions about it. I don't mind.

Some basic Mandy vocabulary:

FTP - a magical way to transfer files from one person to the other on the internet
Amb-OS - a magical place we put our programs so the stations can automatically receive and air them
SAW - the multi-track audio editing software I work with
.EDL - A session file in SAW, like a word document is a .doc
Voice Tracks - audio tracks that the announcer, Dave Spiker records for before and after the preaching part of the program. This is where he introduces Chuck's message and tells you all about the stuff you want to order from us at the end.

---

My job here is to actually assemble the programs. I'm the last one to get them before they air.

Before I can do what I do, Chuck preaches at the church, and the recorded message (every single word, cough, burp, and stutter) is transcribed onto paper.

After that, Cynthia (his wife and our CEO) reads it and edits out the things that shouldn't be in the broadcast, such as an audience cell phone ring or a reference to something we don't have permission to air.

Another editor, Joanna, makes all the edits to the messages and makes them the appropriate lengths for the broadcasts. Then, someone writes a script for Spiker to introduce and conclude the programs. He records them, and finally, everything comes to me for assembly. This is where my job starts.

---

When I arrive at work, it's sometimes to some kind of small crisis. It's usually just our FTP/Amb-OS host or a station telling me there's something wrong with a program (gosh, that makes me sound like I'm good at my job, doesn't it?). That's the first thing I deal with when I arrive.

Some days we have a staff meeting, in which I say three words about what I'm working on and enjoy my coffee as I listen to others say their three words about what they're working on. Once a week, we have a devotional at this time, in which we usually discuss a Biblical topic or a book we're reading together and do some praying. I love working for a place like this.

If I'm editing a broadcast that day, generally it goes a little something like this:
  1. I grab the scripts and voice tracks off our FTP from Spiker and convert them into .wav (uncompressed audio file - best for editing) format. Then, I open the scripts that he's marked with his mistakes on my second screen so I can edit on my big screen and read the scripts on little screen.

  2. I open an .EDL and put the music, voice tracks, and Chuck's message kind of where they need to go on all the tracks. I build five versions of each broadcast - International, Domestic, Border between US and Canada, Canada only, and Podcast. The main difference between the versions is the addresses, URLs, and phone numbers Spiker gives in his voice tracks, but the messages from Chuck are the same.

  3. I put Spiker's voice tracks into double-speed, so he's talking really fast and high like a chipmunk. That lets me get it done a whole lot faster.

  4. There are parts of the voice tracks that are the same across all the versions, so I copy that part to each version and edit the rest using the scripts I'm given. Then, I listen to the voice tracks and edit the parts he made mistakes on. Sometimes, he says things that make me laugh a lot (which makes editing more fun). He's a very funny guy.

  5. After the voice tracks are edited, I put them back to normal speed and add them to the beginning and end of the program. I put everything in order and mix the levels on the music and voice so they sound right.

  6. I add any inserts that had been scripted to the broadcast, such as commercials for our Alaska trip or special messages from Chuck. Then, I mix it down into a single wav file.

  7. After that, I convert them into all kinds of different formats, like mp3 and mp2, and deliver them to various FTP sites and Amb-OS, and burn CDs for the stations that still receive the programs via snail-mail.
So that's pretty much it. Obviously I do a lot more than this, like assembling the short features and Spanish programs, and occasionally some video work, but now you can sleep well tonight knowing just a little bit about what I'll be doing tomorrow morning.

You. Are. Welcome.

Make Something Monday meets Wordless Wednesday





Spread the blog love

This was way too cool of an idea not to do. Generally I'm not all that interested in "blog awards" and links to others inside a blog award, but I think Marta's blog hunt is a fabulous idea, so I decided to play along this time. If you want to, copy it and put in your own favorites.

Link a blogger who...

has an online shop: Shayna @ Didlake Designs
takes fantastic photographs: Rachel Brooke 
has a new baby: Jenn @ Maybe if you just relax. She is absolutely hilarious.
has flawless taste: Jessica Turner
is unique: Ajax, my brother's dog
has admirable qualities: Angie @ Bring the Rain
crafts up a storm: Deborah @ Megan Lock Designs
is an artist: Gitzen Girl
is intriguing: Jenny @ Tale of Two Coins
you've bookmarked: Didlake Running Wild
lives far away: Natalie @ I will praise Him
is an old favorite: The Phippsonian Chronicle
is creative: Cassandra @ The New Crawford
features fabulous ideas: Amanda @ Putting Down Roots
features loveliness: Ellyn @ Profoundly Seth
features pretty products: Bellaziza
features fantasticness: Baby Rabies
features weddings: Well, Tiesha is getting married.
writes about life: Tiffany @ One Amazing Blog
is a daily must see: MckMama
tells great stories: Megan @ Counting My Blessings
is funny: Suburban Turmoil
is a designer: Rachael @ Creations by Rachael
you are inspired by: Owen
recently added to bloglines: I don't know what that is
gives fabulous tips: Tip Junkie

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Not Me Monday!!

MckMama! MckMama MckMama MckMama!! Yaaaaay, MckMama!! Seriously. MckMama.

And while I'm at it, Ellyn. I'm sure MckMama won't mind that shout-out here too.

---

This week, oh man, I definitely did not do this. Gross. And if I had, I wouldn't have blogged about it.

My husband did not kick butt at the taekwondo tournament this weekend in Houston (1st in forms, 1st in weapons, 3rd in sparring). On top of that, his school did not win school of the year. He's not ranked in the top 5 in the world in two categories. And I'm not just adding this to the not-me list because I like to brag on him.

I did not talk myself out of buying several articles of clothing that I liked over the course of a shopping trip because I thought "that's taking away $xx.xx from the MckCruise fund."

On my way back from Brittany's house in south Houston to the taekwondo tournament in north Houston, I did not set my GPS to go back to the tournament waypoint I had set before I left, then still not end up where I needed to be. Turns out, I did not set the GPS's waypoint at the tournament before it found the satellites and therefore it did not take me to the last place it remembered being (the hotel).

I did not just realize tonight that this weekend, I have 50 people coming to my house for a baby shower, and SO many things to do before this can happen. I also do not have a bunch of blog orders coming in for Blogs for a Cause and I'm not trying to strategize a way to get it all done. [That being said, I WILL definately take more!]

There are probably lots of other things I did not do this week, but I'm sleepy from traveling this weekend, cleaning, and designing Courtney's blog header. Happy Monday. See you on the cruise! Right?

My olympic husband

Jack just Googled himself and found this.

And you thought he was just a taekwondo champion.