Easter Weekend = A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Things have been a tad crazy in the last couple of weeks, which is why this blog post is a little late.  No need for details, but it involved a minor medical procedure (no worries, I’m ok!) among other things.  Anyhoo…

We spent Easter weekend with at my mom’s house this year.  For Christmas, I bought her a high quality photo scanner for the sheer purpose of scanning in old family photos.  This weekend, we started sorting through the photos and making piles of scan-worthy and not-scan-worthy pics.  Among the boxes of photos, we found some other family treasures, which my mom sent home with me.

Case in point, this poem that my grandmother wrote about me when I turned 1 year old.  This would be the same grandmother that called me “Doodlebug” 🙂

DSC_0556It says:

Melinda is one!
What a glorious day.
She doesn’t do much yet
But please us and play.

Melinda is one!
With those bright blue eyes
She’s an armful of joy
With her half-whispered “hi’s.”

Melinda is one!
What a sight to behold.
Standing on tiptoe
And growing so bold.

Melinda is one!
With her ways so winning,
Before she is grown
She’ll have many hearts spinning.

Melinda is one!
Our pride & our pleasure.
She’s God’s special child
And our little treasure.

This last bit (pictured below) made me tear up.  Finding things like this makes me miss my grandmother (Dodo, as we called her) so much.  She was a treasure!

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In one of the other boxes, we also found these amazing pictures of Dodo’s parents and grandmother.  I suspect that these images were taken in the early 1900s, based on how young they look in the photos.  These are oval, convex photos, which mean they require a special frame with convex glass.  Fortunately, I found a place online that sells frames/glass such as this in a ton of different sizes.  I learned from that website that the most popular size for photos such as this is 13.5″ x 19.6″ (odd, I know), and these are just that size.  I am definitely planning on ordering some frames/glass to help preserve them.  And, I think I can find a suitable place in our house to hang them.  To me, photographs like this are fascinating, and even better, the people in them are my relatives.  Too cool!!

DSC_0550Henrik Berg, my great grandfather

DSC_0552Johanna Berg, my great grandmother

DSC_0554My great great grandmother – not sure of her name, but I’m trying to find out. After some further checking with family members, this is Henrik’s mother – Johanne Marie Berg (nee Hansen).

Work Fashion – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you have already seen the pictures of my new work outfits, but I thought I’d write a blog post about professional/work fashion and hopefully impart a few tips/tricks.

By now, you probably know that for work, I do several presentations and professional meetings with orthopaedic surgeons.  What this means from a fashion standpoint is, I wear A LOT of suits.  I’ve often complained that there are no places (or at least precious few) where one can find women’s suits that actually fit properly.  And, what is up with selling jackets and pants together for women’s suits?  How many women are actually the same size on top and bottom?  Precious few, I would argue.  My husband can go into Joseph A. Bank, and they will fit him perfectly for a suit (pants and jackets separately) or whatever other work wear he desires.  I have yet to find such an awesome place for women, which is really frustrating.  I know that there are places that will make custom suits for women, but they tend to be super expensive ($500+), and I’m not sure that I’m willing to spend that much, since my size tends to fluctuate (a common problem for women).  In my next life, perhaps, I’ll start a company that is basically the Joesph A. Bank for women 🙂

Anyway, in the mean time, I have been able to find some fashionable suits/work fashion at a couple of stores, which makes me pretty happy.  The two places where I shop most frequently are White House Black Market and Chicos.  A not-surprising coincidence is that these two stores are owned by the same company.  What’s great for me about that is that the pants from Chicos tend to fit me better, and I like the suit jackets more from White House Black Market.  Since they are sister stores, they often use the same fabrics.  So, I can cobble together a suit that looks great from two different stores, and no one is the wiser.

Last weekend, my in-laws were here to visit, and one of the main events of their visits is that my mother-in-law and I go for a shopping trip…mainly because she doesn’t have any good shopping where she lives, and she likes Chicos as much as I do 🙂  During our shopping trip, I was able to find some great business clothes, which were perfect for my trip to Dallas where I had to speak in front of a big group (that trip happened this Friday and yesterday).

Here was the result (apologies for the crappy cell phone pics):

photo 1-2A very Jackie O. look.  Top, skirt, and belt from White House Black Market.  Shoes are Sam Edelman, and I got them at Von Maur.  I absolutely love this outfit with every cell of my being.  Each piece can be worn with other things, but as an outfit, it looks so put together and figure-flattering.

photo-2Typical black suit, made fancier with the beautiful lace top and necklace, which are sadly under-represented in this photo.  Jacket and top from White House Black Market (both perfectly cut for me), pants from Chicos (again, no one is the wiser because the fabrics match), shoes are Cole Haan with Nike technology in the sole, which makes them super comfy.  They are patent leather and awesome (also bought at Von Maur).  I felt powerful in this suit, which is good because I wore it the day I was scheduled to present to about 50 people.

When I posted these photos on Facebook, some commented that they needed me to come help them shop (which I would love to do by the way!).  And, I’ve heard from a few others at work that I “always look very put together.”  I am forever indebted to my mother for this trait.  She is ALWAYS put together, even when she’s in casual clothes.  And, I know I picked that up from her.  So, for those who wonder how to gain such a skill, here are a few tips from me for how to look put together at work:

  1. Probably the hardest part, but know your body shape and what looks good on it.  You can hide a multitude of sins just by wearing things that flatter your figure.  For me personally, I am very curvy, and I have a big booty and thunder thighs, but I have a tiny waist.  So, I know that anything that emphasizes my waist will make me look great.  That’s why that A-line skirt in the first outfit works so well (and why I have such trouble finding pencil skirts that look fabulous on me, no matter how much I want them to – I have found a few that work, by the way, and the key is stretchy fabric).  I digress though…another reason why I like the White House Black Market for jackets – they are all cut to define the waist, which is my best asset.  Also, a little trick with jackets and blouses alike: if it fits in the shoulders, it will look amazing…check out the shoulders on that black jacket on me.
  2. Know what colors work on you and what doesn’t.  Generally speaking, if you are attracted to a color, it will look good on you.  It is good to have a friend with you when you’re shopping, or even just ask the sales person…”does this color look ok on me?  Does it make me look to pallid?”  To be honest, I was a little scared I’d be washed out by the first outfit, but it’s a light enough color (off-white), that I actually look like I have color.  Also, adding the pink belt (it came with a tonal fabric belt), adds just a pop of color, which elevates the whole look.
  3. Speaking of pops of color, add a pop of color when you can.  I wear an awful lot of black.  I am forever adding a shock of color wherever I can.  It’s amazing how much this one simple thing can elevate your look.  This can be as simple as wearing a magenta or royal blue shell under a black suit to adding a bright scarf to the neck (P.S. I plan on doing a scarf tutorial at some point this year to show everyone how to tie/wear scarves.  If you don’t have scarves in your life, you are seriously missing out on a simple accessory that makes you look like YOU are a stylist).  If you are afraid of color, then make sure that you have some interesting jewelry or a cool pattern somewhere in your outfit to add flavor.  In that second outfit I showed, I had a fabulous necklace that just made the whole thing a lot less drab.  It’s not shown well in the photo, but trust me, it was the key piece.  And, on top of that, the lace top added some interest.  Because the jacket is closed in the photo, you can’t tell, but this is a peplum style top, with some grosgrain ribbon to define the waist.  It made the whole look very dressy and put together.
  4. Don’t over accessorize.  If you have too many pieces of jewelry, or if your outfit is too matchy-matchy, you look like you’re trying to hard.  For example, when I tried on the first outfit at White House Black Market, the sales girl gave me a very intricate beaded necklace that had some of the coral of the belt as well as coral shoes with gold heels.  It was just TOO MUCH.  I like the idea of a nude shoe with pretty much anything.  And, the simple white gold/yellow gold necklace (that William bought for me forever ago, and I wear with just about everything, by the way) just works.  It makes the whole outfit seem effortless and not fussy.  The necklace/shoes they gave me in the store looked great, but the whole outfit looked overdone.
  5. You should be comfortable.  Where is it written that work clothes need to be uncomfortable?  They shouldn’t be.  Now are they going to be as comfy as jammie pants and a big t-shirt?  Nope, but you shouldn’t be uncomfortable or tugging at anything.  If you are, it doesn’t fit properly.  Any way you slice it, if you are comfortable, you will be much more confident in your outfit, and that confidence is a good thing, especially in a professional environment.  With any presentation, I can tell you, if I’m comfortable in my outfit, the presentation automatically just flows much better.  The good news is that clothing companies have started to figure this out in recent years – they are making suits with stretchy fabrics (i.e. knits instead of wovens), and shoe places are putting arch support and other cushioning in the soles of high heels.  What a concept!

I don’t proclaim to know all of the ins and outs of fashion, but hopefully, these little tips will help you on your next shopping trip 🙂

New Nephew!

On Wednesday, March 26th, my brother and sister-in-law welcomed Benjamin Michael into the world.  Fortunately, for William and I, Michael and Kim live just a couple hours away from us.  We have really loved going to visit our niece, Celia (as you’ve read in previous blog posts).  And, now we have a nephew to spoil as well! 🙂  This is our first nephew among four nieces (Celia on my side, and three beautiful little girls on William’s side).

Last weekend, when little Benjamin was just four days old, we went to visit my brother’s family, and I had the opportunity to take some newborn photos of him.  Here are some of my very favorites:

DSC_0433-EditMichael holding Benjamin

DSC_0442-Edit-2To get a sense of Benjamin’s size

DSC_0457Dad, Mom, and baby

DSC_0486-EditCelia loves her baby brother

DSC_0496-EditA tiny little smile 🙂

DSC_0545Asleep with Mom

 

 

New, Old Camera

For a long time now, I’ve wanted a Polaroid instant camera.  They make new ones, but I wanted one of the classic ones.  Last week, I was finally able to make it happen.  I ended up ordering a refurbished Polaroid SX-70 land camera.  It’s ivory, which is a bit more rare – they were only made between 1973 and 1975.

As far as film goes, Polaroid doesn’t make the film for these cameras anymore.  So, you can either obtain older rolls of film and hope and pray they work, or there is now a place that’s making film that is compatible for these cameras.  It’s called The Impossible Project.  The film doesn’t react quite the same as the Polaroid film of old.  They take 30-40 minutes to fully develop (significantly longer than the Polaroid film).  And, they seem to be quite a bit more sensitive to light.  What that means for me is that I’m still experimenting with both the camera settings and the film in order to get images that actually look good.  I’ll post pics of the pics as soon as I get that worked out!  Next phase is to protect the pic coming out of the camera from light while it’s actually coming out of the camera – and taking away the few second delay it takes me to turn the pic over on the table.

In the mean time, here are some pictures of the gorgeous camera itself! 🙂

DSC_0342Here’s how the box looked when it arrived, complete with The Impossible Project Film

DSC_0347And here’s the camera (closed)

DSC_0346And, of course, the most exciting image – the camera fully open in all its glory

Should be fun getting to know the camera and the film and figuring out how to create some fun/amazing images!

 

Work Trip to NOLA!

For those who don’t know, my day job is a Senior Research Engineer at a company that makes orthopaedic implants (i.e. hip and knee replacements, etc.).  Most of what I do is material science, with a heavy focus on plastics (the part that replaces the cartilage in joint replacements).  In the past couple of years, I’ve started doing more and more sales support.  This means that I have the opportunity to talk to surgeons about our latest technologies and explain the science behind it, which is pretty fun!

Each year, there is a large convention called the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS, for short).  This year, the meeting was held in New Orleans.  My company, like many others has a booth at AAOS to showcase our latest products.  For the past three years, I’ve worked in the booth, talking to sales folks and surgeons alike.  The booth itself is rather impressive – this year it was over 23,000 square feet.  And, no, I didn’t add an extra zero there – it truly was that big.  Pictures don’t do it justice, but this will give you a sense of it:

photo 2-aLooking from one corner of the booth.  You can only see about 1/4 – 1/3 of the whole thing in this image.  And, yes, those tables really did light up blue from underneath (they looked a bit Star Trek to me, but they were quite sleek and cool).  The blue screen behind the “Trauma” sign was a floor-to-“ceiling” screen, where we had key surgeons give presentations for audiences seated right there.

photo 4-aLooking from the other corner of the booth.  Behind that big “Persona” sign was a special section of the booth where I spent most of my time.  That’s where we were highlighting our new Persona knee system with a museum/Disney-like experience.  it was very cool.

photo 2-2And looking from upstairs…yes, there was an upstairs part of the booth as well.  It had smaller meeting rooms away from the hustle and bustle of the main booth.  The round table in the center was the Information Booth within the booth.

One of the things we were featuring was a new surgical helmet. This is something that surgeons wear under what basically looks like a big space suit.  Orthopaedic surgery is rather brutal, so these suits are nice to keep all the “gunk” off of the surgeon while he/she works.  The helmet has a built-in light and a fan to keep the surgeon cool while he/she works.  I watched a bunch of people try these things on throughout the meeting, so I couldn’t help but try it on myself at the end of the last day 🙂

photo 1-1Stylish, no?

Of course, because we were in New Orleans, there was a ton of amazing food (I’m actually not-so-sad to be back home and eating healthy again).  This included a minor cheat to my gluten/corn/dairy free diet because we couldn’t pass up Cafe Du Monde for beignets (I did have a friend help me, so I didn’t eat three by myself 🙂 ).  And, yes, the cheat was worth it!

photo 4-4photo 5-5

And, one evening, we took a Haunted History Tour through the French Quarter.  It was a lot of fun, and we got to see many of the haunted buildings and hear ghost stories.

photo 3The Provincial Hotel – one of New Orleans’ most haunted places to stay.  This used to be a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers, and supposedly, the doctors and some of the soldiers still haunt this place.  I don’t think I’ll be staying there anytime soon!

photo 5We heard quite a disturbing story about this place (the LaLaurie mansion), which included a little girl jumping from the top story floor and supposedly, that’s why the window is bricked over.  As it turns out, the story was just a myth, and the window is bricked over because there’s a bathroom and shower there.  Also, of note, Nicolas Cage used to live here 🙂

photo 3-3This is obviously in front of a church, with a garden in front that had a fairly sordid history.  It was neat how they had the lights shining just right on the statue in the courtyard to create this shadow.  We affectionately called the shadow “Touchdown Jesus” a la Notre Dame 🙂

photo 1And, finally, this sign along the walk just cracked us up.  Also, can we talk about the pretty balcony in the background? The architecture in the French Quarter is just gorgeous!

It was a very busy trip, but it was a good one.  I was still so happy to get home and see my two guys 🙂

Family Weekend + A Book Review

Last weekend, we had the pleasure of visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and niece (and for those following along, yes, we made good on our promise to spend the night 🙂 ).

Kim, my sister-in-law, is getting ready to have our nephew any day now. We thought it would be nice to make a bunch of freezer meals for them for after the baby is born. That way, they don’t have to worry about cooking while taking care of a toddler and new baby all at the same time. We had fun making the meals and even more fun delivering them last weekend.

There was a daddy-daughter dance for Celia and Michael, and Kim and I even took Celia to have her hair done for the occasion:
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We laughed at their cats, especially the mountain lion that is Grayson:

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And Celia was willing to model the Burton Bear Cowl I made for her:

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We even went to Lego Brickland and saw some pretty amazing Lego creations, which I forgot to take pictures of. All-in-all, it was a fantastic weekend, and secretly, neither William nor I wanted to go home. We will have to make a habit of visiting, and next time, there will be a little nephew to spoil too 🙂

And, now totally unrelated, I have started reading again. Honestly, I don’t know why I ever quit, but reading seems to go in fits and spurts for me, despite the fact that I love it and tend to get lost in books. I mostly love mysteries and thrillers, especially if they have a bit of history mixed in as well. Recently, I devoured a new book called The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.

The story is set in two different time periods – 1991 and the late 1600s, and it goes back and forth between the stories. The heroine, Connie, is a grad student of Colonial studies at Harvard. She finds out that she needs to clean out her grandmother’s house, who has been gone for 20 years. In the house, she finds a scrap of paper in an old family Bible, with “Deliverance Dane” written on it. It turns out Deliverance Dane is a person from the 1600s…a woman convicted of being a witch during the Salem witch trials. The book goes back and forth between her story and Connie’s as well as Connie’s quest to learn more about Deliverance. There’s a bit of mystery, some history, a bit of romance, and a tiny splash of evil. It was kind of a predictable story/outcome, but I still couldn’t put it down. I would definitely recommend it.

Now, I’m reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, set in World War II, my favorite historical time period. So far, I like it. Will report back when I’m done!

Second Work Trip of the Year

Yet another late in the week blog post. This week has been a whirlwind! The details are unimportant, but suffice to say, the weekend is very welcome.

Anyway, just as was last year’s goal with my 365 Photography Project, I’m planning on documenting my various trips throughout the year. This just helps me stop and appreciate wherever I am for a few moments.

Last week, I went to Los Angeles for work. Try as I might, I didn’t spot any celebrities. 😉 The weather was mostly rainy, but it was about 45-50 degrees warmer than home, so I took it.

I did manage to find a bit of time between work appointments to take the long way and drive a bit up the Pacific Coast Highway. It was beautiful, and there was a break in the rain while I stopped at the beach.

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It was rather peaceful with huge waves crashing on the shore.

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And, yes, I totally took my heels off and walked on the beach in a business suit 🙂

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It was definitely worth the time, and it did the soul some good.