Shootsac on a budget & some amazing pizza

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Before Danika headed out, she asked me to hem her jeans for her. I propped her up on the fireplace and measured around, pinned, and used my 2 headed needle to make a hem. While I was sitting at the machine, I went forward with my own version of a Shootsac.

For you non-photographers, a shootsac is this divine invention that makes it easy to switch lenses and carry your essential gear when out on a shoot. I typically use only two lenses, but I like to have an extra memory stick handy and my substitute battery pack. I've been drooling over this bag for about a year now. At $180, though, it wasn't in my budget. I secretly hoped Santa would bring me one for Christmas, especially since they had an incredible sale, but alas, no shootsac was under the tree.

This wedding season has us faced with 3 weddings and multiple portrait sessions. We are very grateful that our little business venture is growing. (We are so very blessed by your support!) We have a couple of camera bags, but neither of them is very convenient for switching lenses. The other day, when we were shopping at Office Max, I found this neoprene lunch sac on sale for around $10. It was the perfect size since I don't, yet, have the large momma-lens (another piece of glass I'm coveting). I made up a sketch in my brain and came up with this.

I'd purchased 2 yards of the belted fabric and 2 packages of the hinged clips. I used a 40% off coupon at JoAnns, so that purchase totalled to $15.  Because I didn't have the adjuster hardware (the thing you can use to shorten or lengthen the strap), I measured the bag to act like a messenger bag for my body and stitched at the base of the hardware and again where the strap ended. Afterwards, I sewed a stitch slightly off-center from the middle  and another at the base to make it a flatter bag. The excess fabric from the base actually adds additional padding to the bottom of the bag, which I really like.

Here I am wearing/modeling it. You can see that it easily fits the two lenses I use the most.

What's cool is the excess strap at the top forms enough of a loop where I can attach removable pockets. I really like that I can do that because I wanted a place to keep my cell phone close and also to keep an extra memory card handy. Initially, I was going to sew a dedicated memory card pocket to the inside, but I prefer it  on the strap. AAAaand, the built in handle to the bag is an added bonus, because I can carry it as a handbag too.
See the lenses tucked in their shooting-day home? Fun! $25 out of pocket is a lot better than the $180+tax & shipping and extra $$$ for the cover that I know I want. Someday, though. Someday. Until then, I like my re-purposed lunch sac. :) I'll let you know how it works after this weekend's wedding. Best of all, it is blue with some funky modern design on it. Once I find my Care Bear patch, I'm totally adding it to it! I ♥ flair!

Finally, this is the homemade pizza that Primo made for us. It is resting on the Cookie Monkey plate, which is totally festive. And the other day when we were at Il Cane Rosso, we learned that the crust is also known as pizza bones. Isn't that fun? Yes, and this pizza is every bit as delicious as it looks!

HDMR: Amazon Subscribe & Save, Ocean Prime Restaurant, & When in Rome

First off, instead of doing the typical HDMR (I know you are all disappointed), I opted to review an online retailer and a relatively new restaurant near me. Oh, and maybe for kicks, I'll throw in a movie review too. Then again, based on the title, you already know that I'm going to review a movie, so I guess I ruined the surprise. Subscribe & Save
Ok, so when we first had Mari, she was strictly a gDiaper baby. After her first diaper rash (aka the rash from Satans wrath), we switched to BumGenius. However, during the week, she would wear disposable diapers after the lady we were taking her to during the day raised such a funk about having to deal with the gDiapers and all of the added stress it was causing her. We had some 7th Generation diapers and used them up. At a shower, we were given a case of Huggies to use, so we figured, 'eh, why not. After the 3rd one (not 3rd day, 3rd diaper) the allergic reaction was so apparent that we had to go strictly old school cloth until the store opened for us to buy more 7th Generation. I was very happy to find an owner for the rest of the 153 remaining diapers. Anyway, at our couples shower, one of our friends clued us in to I vaguely remember her mentioning something about subscribing or what have you, so I got on to Amazon and clicked around and found the case of diapers. Not only that, but I noticed the subscribe and save option. Okay folks, this is where it is genius:
  1. The diapers are delivered to my house when I choose. 
  2. There's no tax on the diapers.
  3. They are cheaper on Amazon.
  4. Sign up with Subscribe and Save and they are even less expensive.
  5. Free shipping!
What a deal, right? Well, after a year of using this feature on diapers (because we've recently moved over to training pants...and that's a post all on its own), Amazon calculated our savings. Folks, we've saved around $900 in a year from using this feature and buying on Amazon! That's 1 month of daycare. That's nearly a vacation! That's 9 bottles of our favorite wine! Anyway, this isn't just on diapers. This can be for anything you need that Amazon sells. Unfortunately for us, we don't use anything besides diapers on a monthly basis, but still. So keep that in mind! I highly recommend it!
Ocean Prime Restaurant
Next up, we have my review on Ocean Prime. My little hermana Dani and Primo and I met up before D had to return to San Diego, culminating her sojourn spring break to Dallas. This was a fitting end to an amazing visit. I had watched this building from the ground up. I remember the groundbreaking and witnessed throw up this cement bohemoth across the street from my office building. Then, I further remember when they started putting on these polishing details for a fabulously blue colored restaurant. Not far from it is a high rise aptly named Azure because not only of the color, but the amazing hue. However, the LED (at least I think they are) lights emit such a swank and calming effect, you can't help but feel fancy-sexy when you walk in. I remarked, "this is the kind of place I need sunglasses! Where are my sunglasses?" as they stared blankly back at me with their own eyes shaded from the sun. Now folks, this place isn't cheap. If you are looking to spend $5 on a meal, then you are in the wrong part of town. However, if you want delicious and fulfilling, then this place is for you. I ordered a flavored iced tea and Primo requested a sharp white, or at least that's what I think he said. He didn't even order from the wine menu, but rather put his trust in our server. Well, Max returned to the table with my tea, which was amazingly filled with fresh squeezed blackberries and blueberries and garnished with 4 blueberries across the top. Now if that wasn't a perfect spring drink, then I don't know what is. Wait, the most perfect NON-alcoholic spring beverage! Then, Max turned to Simon and poured the wine from a small glass decanter. When our server turned his back, Simon was a little less than pleased that our server didn't first offer him a taste to be sure he'd like it. He was in the middle of his dismissal statement when he put the glass to mouth and that first taste of white wine piqued his taste buds and whipped his neck in Max's direction in complete disdain. "How dare he pick the perfect wine!" Because, yes, Max was rather knowledgeable in their wines that he chose the right wine that would pair well not only with the outdoor setting, but with the meal. Simon opted for the chicken with asparagus and truffled mac & cheese. I got the crabmelt and paired it with the she-crab bisque. Danika ordered the Red Snapper with wilted spinach and jalapenos au gratin. All of it was rather enjoyable. At first sight, Primo's plate reminded me of a really, really high end LuAnn plate from Luby's. Yet, when I tasted it, it was like eating grandma's cooking al fresco. INCREDIBLE! Then I was jealous that I didn't order that. My crabmelt was good. The field greens paired well with the jalapeno tartar sauce. The she-crab bisque, however, was disappointing. It was more like a chowder. There were far more clumps of corn in there instead of crab. It was so far off that I actually didn't even finish it. I knew that Don would enjoy it, so I had Max set up a to-go plate for it and also ordered a side of that truffled mac & cheese. (Which both Don and Mari happily devoured later!) I didn't try Danika's dish, but it did look pretty good. However, we all agreed that three sauces on a plate was a bit much and for people like me to who don't really like their foods to touch (I JUST got over my issues with the banana split), this wouldn't be a dish for them. Food excellent. Ambiance excellent. Service, incredibly excellent! If Don and I ever make it over to the opera, I'm going to insist that we grab a bite to eat at Ocean Prime before because it definitely was a joy!

When in Rome
I didn't put up the movie poster because quite frankly it was super cheesy and had absolutely nothing to do with the movie. Do you hear that hollywood? Romantic Comedies are fun and great, but c'mon graphic designers, step up your game when designing the poster! Ok. Off my rant. This is an older movie. Not like years old, but certainly not a still-in-the-theaters-shiny-and-new release. We had plans to see How to Train Your Dragon, but Studio Movie Grill had sold out, so instead, we headed out to grab a nice big bowl of Pho. Don agreed to watch Mari, so I could get my chick flick fix at the dollar theater. Yaaaay! $3 and we had a very good seat to settle in and watch our movie. You know what my favorite thing about this movie was? Not just the awesome-ness that is Rome, nor the beauty that is the Guggenheim, but Kristen's outfits. Holy cow her clothes were utterly divine. Each item was perfect for her tiny frame, down to her running outfit. And you know what, it was refreshing to see a gal running in a movie and she was really running! Girl was getting into it, for real! It was a total romcom, with a hefty portion of cheese, but I still liked it. Definitely worth a netflix rental or red box rental with a free coupon!

Now I really want to go to Rome. I asked Mari if she wanted to go and she responded with a quick "yeah." I asked her again a day later and her response was again, "yeah"  with an enthusiastic head nod. I need to save my pennies. I have to take baby girl to Rome and fulfill a promise I made to my nephew/godson as well. front of the lens

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On Sunday, I participated in Headshots for the Cure to help raise awareness for Breast Cancer Research. Well, I was EXTREMELY apprehensive going into this shoot because, well, I like being behind the camera, not in front. I'm not a model. I was sober, but I did have one sure thing, one of my besties with me who tagged along for moral support. I was TOTALLY stiff until the photographer suggested she come and make me laugh. After one very specific inside joke, I relaxed, laughed, and let my guard down. 

It was so warm under those lights, I was overcome with intense nostalgia remembering what it felt like to be on stage. It was time for me to throw down and smize. A very big MWAH to Rego for capturing exactly what I wanted. That lighting...INSANE! I really wished I would've opted for the green top and skirt, but I did my best with this. So many things to think about should I get the opportunity to do this again.
Luckily, Danika handed me that fabulous bracelet. I can't believe I totally forgot my necklace and other earrings. Oh well, so long as I had my Tech ring and my wedding ring, I was good to go.
And then there's this remote area that I wasn't really sure what to do. Had I drank my XL glass of sass that morning, I would've come up with something far better than the final result, but regardless, this was pretty good.
Despite the feelings of inadequacy (seriously, I was there and saw some of the beautiful, beautiful people before and after me and, well, I was feeling small) I really did have a ball. It was a whole lot of fun! Next time, though (I really hope there's a next time!), I'm definitely gonna have a mimosa, wear something a little more fabulous and take my own advice...wear a smile filled with confidence.

Anyway, I really liked it and if it's been a long while since you've been in front of the camera, I highly recommend it!

Thanks again Danika, Rego, Stacey, Mandi, and everyone else at Fresh Focus Point Photography, including the make-up artists, Cassie and Jerry!

HDMR: John Adams mini series & The Help

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This week's reviews are a mini series and a book. The first book review here at biasia. Enjoy! And the ratings this week are in relation to medicine since I've been quite poorly for the past week. For those of you in the same boat as myself, I pray that you are healed soon and your suffering (or someone close to you who is suffering) is soon diminished and your health renewed.
This is a mini series put out by HBO. I knew Don would really enjoy this mini series since the key players were ancestors of his (John Adams and John Quincy Adams). Interestingly enough, there were parts where Paul Giamatti isn't donning the wig and he sports a bald head and there are some very distinct features that they share. I understand they tried to be as accurate as possible. Don and I both conjectured which dialogue/actions are accurate and which are based on letters exchanged over the time. It is definitely a fun history lesson to watch for all of those who didn't pay attention in History class. The only disappointing thing I can say is that I didn't like the costumes as much as I wanted to. Definitely worth the rental! And both Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney's performances are incredible. BTW, Linda, if you are reading this, that Thomas Jefferson is quite a looker! Rating: Full dose of nyquil...cherry flavored.

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
RUN, don't walk to buy this book. If you are near me and want to borrow it, first one to call dibs is welcome to borrow my copy. I INHALED this novel in the course of a sickly weekend, more than half of it in one afternoon. Kathryn has such a way of adding such vibrant colors to her characters, you can see the key players walking around in front of you. I heard about this book from The Daily Lit's weekly newsletter. They had sent an excerpt which I gobbled up immediately. My absolute favorite thing about this book is the author's final note about why she wrote the novel. Indeed it added a personal touch! So what is the book about? Well, it is told in 3 different perspectives, with one chapter told in omniscient voice. Each of their voices ring loud and clear. I found myself hooked at the end of the chapter and wanting to fast forward to the next part to read more about what would happen. It all flowed rather nicely, though, and I was lucky to see the different perspectives. I found myself being more compassionate, pausing to analyze different perspectives of those around me. If you read this, maybe we can have a virtual book club in April, if you are interested. Let me know! I rate this a double shot of cough syrup with codeine and a healthy side of amoxicillin!

have a great week!

*By the way, check out my photo blog to see some awesome before and afters from the photo shoot this past weekend!

4 Years...and the melancholy doesn't even begin to fade

Thursday, March 18, 2010

When life has slowed long enough for me to glance up and check out what is going on, I take pause and remember. It's very, very difficult to believe that it's been four years since I said goodbye to one of my childhood best friends. For a brisk time during our formidable years we were inseparable.

When life gets in the mix, and you are too young to realize the gifts you've been given, you often take for granted your treasures, your friendships. I'm so very thankful for the advent of social networking sites that have allowed me to reconnect to friends whose names I haven't heard in years. I really enjoy seeing those names flash along the screen and instantly remember really, really great times. The inside jokes we'd share, the unified antipathy held for certain Biology teachers, the piercing smell of a freshly finished coat on a gym floor, endless laughter, slumber parties, bouncy rubber gym floors, homemade birthday cakes, Ms. Attel & Mrs. Oliva, writing and writing, and writing, the beginnings of finding my voice. The very many wonderful memories. And the heartache I felt when I left. The pangs I felt every time I went to visit, only to know I was a visitor. But he kept me centered and in the loop when I pushed her out. Eternal gratitude for that, honey! I love you My Michael!

That first year after I'd left, my parents surprised me at Spring Break. I'd just gotten back from an early morning track meet, grumpy that I was forced to not only clean my room, but get up ridiculously early. I remember the moment. I walked into my room, and lazily threw my bag on the floor, and noticed a bag unfamiliar to me. I glanced around and there she was. My entire body shook and exploded with happy laughter, squeals, and lots of tears. We shared an entire week together, catching up on secrets, making a home video, taking photos, and making up for lost time. I missed her....I miss her, now.

It still hurts to drive through certain parts Lewisville because I see her face. I remember that corner where we would meet "halfway" except it wasn't halfway, really. Or that alley where we hid after we'd snuck out to go toilet paper someone's house, but then later chickened out. Left with two eggs and a big roll of toilet paper, she bravely aimed and launched her egg. It cracked squarely in the middle of the stop sign. I clumsily dropped mine on the concrete. She was always an excellent aim. The next day, they were both cooked and we had a good laugh about it.

The other day, after having a giggle fit with Mari, she snorted. I laughed even more because it reminded me so much of her. I wanted to call her to tell her. But I just looked up to the sky and gave thanks for having had the opportunity to know her. Anita's laugh was truly infectious. :)

For those of you friends who are reading this and you were a part of my life then, thank you for your friendship! And for all of my friends now, thank you. You mean so much to me and I'm truly grateful to have each of you in my life.

DITL Mommy Version

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On the mom's message board I belong to, we do a Day in the Life of our kiddos. Well, yesterday was day off day for me, so here is my version of DITL. Warning, if you are offended by no make-up and sweat, you're not gonna like these pictures. Then again, if you are reading this, you probably don't really know me, because if you did, then you know these are true to life when I'm not at work. :)

I woke up feeling not so great, so Mari brought in her blankies (red and blue w/ stars) to comfort me. I'm sipping on a Grande Dark Cherry Mocha, nonfat, hold the whip, 140. (yes I realize there are a gatrillion calories in it, I get the nonfat, hold the whip b/c I'm lactose intolerant). I figure the caffeine coupled with my Snuggie will give me the necessary pep in my step. 
Here we are at Studio Movie Grill. Don't hate on my glasses. I wish I could've kept mine. I loved 'em, well, that pair. The first pair had a gnarly scratch on 'em. See, I'm feeling much, much better.
 We headed out to Ikea, but I didn't get a photo of that. Don did snap me getting fitted for my brand new sneakers. Yaaay! I know you're jealous of my socks.
After that, we headed on over to Market Street, unloaded the car, and set off to pick up Mari from school. We then went for a 4.3 mile jog and finished up in the parking lot doing some interval training. Here I am sucking air doing lunges. I do believe Mari's lunges were much better than mine. Look at her go, isn't she a natural?
She does love to blow on dandelions. I'm glad she remembered from last year! And just like last year, she she got frustrated and picked off all of the seeds and threw them. LOL!
While we were in the middle of our run, we stopped by the park. Mari has now mastered the climbing wall.

 And look at that smile. Doesn't she melt your heart? Cutie pie. She likes the swings, but LOVES the slide.
And at the end of the day, here I sit in my little "office" working on 13bfoto to wrap up the day. See how I the space is both computer area and sewing area. Nice!
Special thanks to Don for being my very own personal paparazzi! Thanks for an awesome vacation day!

HDMR: Alice in Wonderland

To keep myself accountable, I wrote out a list of all of the things I wanted to accomplish on my "vacation" day. Well, I did pretty good at tackling the list. I didn't get it all done, but I got quite a bit completed.
  • Run
  • Laundry
  • Postcards
  • 13bfoto:
    • additional images
    • rss feed for blog and connect twitter
    • email signature
    • presentation
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Special Surprise for Destinee (started)
  • Evite for Pearl Trunk Show
  • Bought running shoes
  • Ikea trip for organizing essentials and bought a new wall lamp for Mari
In a separate post, I will chronicle my day in the life in pictures. Until then, here's my review of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

Absolument brillante! I have no idea why I felt the need to say it in French. It is a wacky sort of day, folks. Anyway, I LOVED this film. Truth be told, I wasn't going to watch it until it came out on DVD. But when Sivje did her movie review on the film (mainly the costumes and such), I made a mental note to not completely dismiss it. But then...when the resounding reviews from my friends came in about how they loved it (some watching it multiple times and a couple of  'em NEVER watch a movie in a theater, let alone twice), I had to watch it. 

We set off to Studio Movie Grill and saw in 3D. Initially we were going to watch the regular film, but because it was lunch time and we thought we'd be hungry (*ahem* thankyousomuch Starbucks for the appetite suppresant), so we didn't have much of a choice because that is only way they were showing it. I nibbled on an order of sweet potato fries and fell into a fantasy land that I hadn't seen since my childhood.

As a hyper-imaginative child, I was often ridiculed for thinking impossible thoughts, and teased for seeing the world in more vibrant colors than it actually was. It built character, indeed. Lucky for me, I had both a mother and a father who supported this unique viewpoint. Anyway, I firmly believe that if I knew Tim Burton and/or Helena Bonham Carter we'd be best of friends. I ADORED this film. Each character brought out a vibrant personality, except Anne Hathaway. I know she did as best as she could, but I just wasn't feeling her as the white queen. Alan Rickman was a CGI blue caterpillar and threw up a better performance than she did. I wish I had a patch in Absylum's likeness. I realize not everyone was in love with this film as I was, but it was truly amazing to see a near perfect replica of my dreamworld on the big screen. 

I must admit that I have never seen any Alice film, nor have I read any of the books. Bad Bianca! Truth be told, I took it for face value. I thought the Mad Hatter was truly angry, not insane. Had I known of the insanity before, I'm sure that I would've been a loyal follower from the get-go. Speaking of, can Johnny Depp do any wrong? Noooo! He's adorable. I loved the relationship he and Alice form on-screen. After the first 3 minutes, I quit seeing Elijah Wood and started seeing the Mad Hatter. While there were parts of it that were frightening, there are certainly elements that are truly magical and wonderful, that children should be exposed to immediately. With that, I'm considering taking Mari to see it, not in 3D, but regular. She really likes the Wizard of Oz and isn't freaked out by it. Nor is she scared by Monster v. Aliens or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you were an imaginative child, I highly recommend you go out and see this RIGHTNOW if you haven't already.

Cheers to all of you who may have lost your muchness...then later went on a journey to re-discover it.

For the rest of you...OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!

Vacation Day

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It is 5 minutes until my vacation day. Down here, many of my dear ones are off from work this week since it is Spring Break. It is a well-deserved spring break for all of the educators and anyone involved with our educational system. For the rest of us, we still have to work. It actually isn't so bad because traffic is pretty darn amazing. It's like a happy glimmer of what's to come in the summer...traffic, that is.

Anyway, tomorrow, I'm taking a vacation day to spend time with Don. We have a whole lotta stuff planned out. So much that we have each written a list with very attainable goals that will be met. Is it ok that I thoroughly enjoyed making my list because I used my brand new purple Pentel EnerGel Medium Tip pen. Oooh...smooth!

Here's my list:

  • Run
  • Laundry
  • Postcards
  • 13bfoto:
    • additional images
    • rss feed for blog and connect twitter
    • email signature
    • presentation
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Special Surprise for Destinee
  • Evite for Pearl Trunk Show
Whew, I'm tired thinking about it. Anyway, off to bed. I'll see about taking my camera and trying to capture a day in the life of Bianca session so you can be a part of it too. I'm so excited to have some dedicated time to share with Don. It's gonna be an all day productive date. And if I only do the laundry and go to a movie, that'll still be pretty good. 

seriously random

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'm delirious. I know this. I can admit it. I've lost track of the amount of caffeine I have had today. The dark circles under my eyes are beginning to make Edward Scissorhands jealous. But, despite the lack of sleep, I don't want you to think I'm complaining. Quite the opposite.

Today, I went to see my nephew play lacrosse. They won by a technicality, but the game itself was their most difficult game this year. The final score was 9 - 1, and my nephew was pretty down that they had that many points scored on him. My heart felt for him, but it was ok. He really loved his new shirt that his Nino sent him. An official practice t-shirt for Navy Lacrosse. He proudly wore it.

Afterwards, we headed to Ikea to get some stuff to organize the mess that has overcome our dining room. I got enough boxes to store all of my fabrics (thanks Sivje for the organization inspiration and Sarah for posting amazing eye candy at La Maison Boheme!). My small craft space is actually starting to see some daylight and I'm so very excited to see the shelfs in awesome use. Also, I'm glad I'm utilizing my table in the dining room. It actually looks pretty darn good.

Later, we headed to Market Street to check out their wedding expo. I tried some cake, chocolate covered strawberries, some nasty champagne, and a few amazing dips. Ooooh, I love you smoked gouda pimento dip. I shall visit you again soon!

When I got home, I was ready to take a nap, but I fought the sleepies to stay awake so I could get my football fix. We have a buddy who plays for a minor league team and he invited us out to play. Well, 10 minutes before I left and Mari decided to get full on Mari. She was bouncing off of the walls! She was into everything, refusing to nap. Moments later, our HOA vice president came over and we had some catching up to do before the meeting in a couple of weeks. Well, an hour had already passed and the time I had allotted to go to the game had long since been passed. Same goes with the nap I had planned on taking.

So I picked up the pieces and got to work. Luckily, my prima helped me with the organization! I'm feeling so much happier with it, seriously. Tomorrow, my sister will run her first triathlon for the season. I hope to run 3 - 4 miles. The bigger goal being to get new running shoes and load up the content on my new project: 13b.foto.

Here's the official announcement that I'm a professional photographer. I guess you can say I've been pro for a few years, but I'm finally legit, or feeling more legit. Business cards are on their way. Website is slowly getting populated ( Twitter and Facebook presence is up. Photo promotions are in the works, and I am not only open for business but have clients. It is a full part-time job that will hopefully allow Don and I to spend more time together pursuing a passion, simultaneously bringing in enough income that will help fund new glass school for Mari. :) I so blessed to have this special opportunity and I'm so eager! For those of you who are curious, no, I have absolutely no plans to quit my day job. Being a technical writer is as much a part of me as being a mother, as being a wife, as being a friend. I LOVE my job and I'm so glad that I stumbled upon this career in college. I know I am unique to actually put my degree to use every day. :)

Now that the secret is out, I'd like to take some time to thank all of you who have supported me along they way. A very special thanks to past clients, especially you early folks who acted as my guinea pigs. Seriously, you guys are amazing!!! And for the rest of you, if you need a photographer, let me know.

Oh, and one final thing, the photo biz will have a separate blog of it's own, so feel free to add a bookmark there if you like to see pictures.

Haul Video...hilarious

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ok, so as promised, I did in fact make a haul video. Pardon the persona I adopted on screen. I swear I was channeling my inner teen with my haul. It's just under 7 and a half minutes and you even get to see the trike in action. Enjoy!

HDMR: Valentine's Day, Precious, & Up in the Air

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alrighty, time for another round of Hump Day Movie Review. In typical fashion, most of these are older movies. Sorry folks, I'm not part of the bajillion of you who were able to make it out this past weekend to see Alice in Wonderland. Another time, though. This week, because I'm dying for a monster spa day (ahem, weekend), the ratings are in spa services.

I was able to go out on a Sunday afternoon with my girlfriend to see this movie. (Thanks Studio Movie Grill for the free passes!) Going into this movie, I expected super cheese. C'mon, it's called Valentine's Day and it came out the mere days before Valentine's day. Mindless romantic comedy drivel, but the sort of thing that's perfect to eat up on a Sunday afternoon with no worries. And because I am a sucker for cheese (good cheese, mind you, none of that processed stuff, ooooh yeah, gimme some of that amazing manchego), I liked this movie. All of the character's stories intertwined, similar to the way they did in Crash. I know that type of film making has a specific technique, but I just can't remember the name right now. Anyway, it was a good story, with some genuine laugh out loud moments that aren't forced. You don't get lost in the movie though. Ashton Kutcher's character reminded me of the one he played in A Lot Like Love. Julia Roberts was still Julia Roberts. So was Jennifer Garner, Jessica Beal, and Jessica Alba. (whoa, that's a lot of J names!) Despite all that, it was still worth the time. I am glad that I didn't watch it when it first came out and also that I didn't have to pay for it. I would definitely recommend it for the rental. If nothing else, than for the little boy who stole the show. A-d-o-r-a-b-l-e with a capital A for sure! 15 minute hand massage

I'd first heard inklings and ramblings of this film a long while back. I was eager to watch it. When I later heard it had the backing of both Tyler Perry AND Oprah, well, I knew I had to be there. I desperately wanted to go on opening day when it first showed at the Angelika, but I was unable. Then later, I just couldn't make it. Imagine my excitement when Don had it waiting for me on the night it came out on DVD. Long after Mari was asleep, I was in a place where we could watch. Did it captivate me? Yes. Was I moved at my core? YES! Every single player in this film was perfect, even the children. I fell in love with her classmates. I fell even more in love with her teacher. Lenny Kravitz was a doll. And Mo'Nique!!!! Wow, I haven't hated a character and somewhere deep inside of me, feeling a tiny sense of compassion towards her. Every fiber of my being wanted to choke her, but then I needed to forgive her. This movie was thought provoking. Long before I watched it and read an excerpt from Push, I was thinking. I'm still thinking. 1 hour Swedish massage with a half our scalp massage and add a bit of reflexology for kicks. If you haven't seen it yet, be prepared to be get a little uneasy and have a box of Kleenex on hand.

I'd heard mixed reviews about this movie. Some of my friends loved it. Others of it though it was just plain 'meh. Since we are catching up on movies, and the Oscars were just shown on Sunday, this was on the list to watch. So, here we are. Anyway, it was fun. Light-hearted and sometimes, it took itself a little too seriously. George Clooney played typical George Clooney. Poor Anna Kendrick, I just couldn't look past her Twilight persona. She tried the best she could, but I couldn't see past it. I did, however, really enjoy Vera Farmiga's performance. I had a greater appreciation for all of those corporate travelers. I would be very excited just to reach 100K miles, but it'll take what I can get. In any case, it was worth the rental. Basic mani/pedi.

Also, for you Twilight fanatics, who all is heading out to buy their copy of New Moon tonight? ;)

Write, Bianca. That's right, Bianca.

Mari is a mover, a do-er, a conqueror of things. I too was very curious. When I was in school, I remember when the concept of different types of learners was introduced. For me, I was a visual learner, but I also had to do. Even better if I could be moving while doing so. I like to move while I think. I remember having to sit still. It was excruciatingly painful. I would feel smothered. I would just focus on my breathing, fixate my stare on a single circular point and let my mind take me to a dreamland.

The other day, I was frustrated with Mari. She was being her typical self. I was being my typical rushed self. She needed me to pause and slow to her level. I snapped because I was trying to bend her will to mine. And then I put myself in a time-out. I had a good cry over that one. Later, I recounted my actions to Don. I confessed to him to partially gain a type of familiarity (yes, you aren't alone in this adventure) and to see what I could have done differently. I let him know that I didn't want to kill her wild spirit. I certainly didn't want her to fear me or be afraid to fail. Growing up, I had a fear of failure. I had misunderstood my parents. I didn't need to be afraid of them if I failed. I needed to look to them for support if I failed. The many times I did fail, they were there to support me and get me back on the right track. Each failure taught me character and grace. While I may not have had the opportunity to pursue theater or acting early on like I had wanted to, I was handed a pencil and paper. The most powerful tool to make real those far off places I'd go to when I had to sit still.

Write, Bianca. That's right, Bianca.

I found the following video from Clementine Studios blog. It is on TED, and certainly worth the listen.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What you see in me is a reflection of what you put in me

Last Friday, I sat in traffic, looking forward to the familiar guitar chords of StoryCorps. For you NPR listeners, you know what I'm talking about. For the rest of you, how do you not know the wonderful goodness that is StoryCorps? I heard this story in traffic, but it was preceded the week earlier with this story. Both were moving, not unlike their typical stories. Yes, they pull at the heartstrings, but that's what is inspiring. If you don't have a chance to click on the link I'll break it down for you. Essentially, a teacher became the legal guardian of one of his former students. Not only was it unique because they didn't really know one another, but also because the boy the teacher was taking in was about to be a parent. Not only that, but he was going to be a single father at age 16. The new guardian wasn't married and never had children. So this was quite a change. I loved that he said this:
"I'm a young black man and you're a white man," Williams said. "And I'm like, 'I don't know anything about white people.' "
This is so true when you start fresh and new, right? The anxiety, the fear, any ol' thing that is unknown is contributing to these new situations. Yes, frightening.

I'm plagued with those same anxieties any time that I try something new. So there I sat on NCX, a blubbering mess, happy that I hadn't yet applied my eyeliner when my sister calls. Because she knows me well enough, she can tell that I've been crying. When she casually asks what is going on, I reply back that I'd been listening to NPR. She utters out a familiar smile. It is not unlikely that at the same time when she calls me every weekday morning that on Fridays, I'm probably tearful.

But that quote above, marinate on it. Think about what you see in people and how you've helped to contribute to that. What you see in me is a reflection of what you put in me. 


after a long, long day where I spend quite a bit of time thinking and putting together puzzles, doing my best to bend time, and generally do my best at a job I very much love,, despite the mass quantities of caffeine intake, I'm just spent. Emotionally and physically spent. But then I'll think of my giggle monster at home, and that face...instant recharge. good thing too, because we run 300+ miles an hour. Those of you with a toddler or who have had a toddler, you know what I mean. Such a blessing indeed. Speaking of blessing, you need to see this:

I was stuck on a very busy NCX right at the beginning of rush hour. All day we'd been having some serious downpours. Before I left, I prayed to make it in time to pick up Mari since Don had open house. It was steadily coming down and traffic was a mess. But then I was forced to a dead stop. The skies cleared, the sun came out and there was this incredible double rainbow peeking out. And I was reminded that I needed to stop and appreciate the small things.

Blessings come from the most surprising of places and God will always find a way to let you know.

Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Hebrews 13:2

Recon-a-thon '10...belated

Monday, March 8, 2010

However long ago, Jackie over at The Fabric Floozie announced a contest to repurpose an article of clothing into something else. Basically, you take an article of clothing that you no longer use, you found for super cheap, but you just bought it for the fabric, or there's a shirt that you absolutely love, but the time has come for its purpose as a shirt has come to an end. Behold such a shirt. Ahhh...this shirt and I had some good times. I do so love knits, especially in awesome shades of blue with a thin black horizontal stripe. For this project, I plan to make a pair of panties, a matching tank top, and either some tights or babylegs from the long sleeves.

First up, here's the cut out of the panties. I totally free-handed the cut. Probably would've been best to try with another type of fabric for my first time. The first one is always the guinea pig, right. ha ha
And here is the first finished piece. Tiny panties with baby pink lace. One leg, I tested the lace on the outside. The other leg, I tested on the inside to give it more of a look like store bought.

Collectively, I hoped that I might've had a snowballs chance of competing in the contest, but after seeing the entries, I'm glad that I was delayed in my own entry. But I do believe it that the final product is going to be uber cute! Then again, here's another project that I'm certain Mari will REFUSE to wear. ha ha! And for the record, I want it to be known that we aren't in dire straits that I have to make chones for Mari. I just thought it would be really neat for her to have an original pair, handmade with love, and not plastered with cartoon characters. Nothing wrong with those, but a simple pair is fun too. Oh, and I do have some residual scraps that I will make into tiny ruffles and sew on a store brand of training pants (made blue for boys, but with ruffles, it'll be for Mari!).

What kinds of craftiness have you been up to?

Tap Shoes Don't Fit

I had picked up some size 6.5 tap shoes at the consignment sale. Currently, Mari wears a size 6 shoe. I figured a 6.5 would give her room to grow, right? Wrong! She, like me, has wide feet. The tap shoes are leather and they could probably stretch, but being that she's as young as she is, she opts for comfort over style. When I stretched them a bit to put them on, she was pleased, until she stood up and immediately squealed, "ow, ow, OW, OW, OW" simultaneously demanding the leave her feet. Before I can get to her, she's kicked them across the room, where they've crashed against the cupboard and landed with a familiar clickety-clack. Because her face lit up when I showed them to her, I am now in search of a pair of tap shoes for her. And as a result, I have my first item for the next consignment sale. Speaking of, all 8 of my items sold at full price! I received confirmation of the sale. After all of the deductions ($10 entry for the consigning, plus 30% of sales going to the sale), I didn't come any where near of breaking even, but my savings did cover the gas to get there, the paper to print the items, and the tax. Woot! Also, the amount of time the sugarbean has spent on her bike has paid off. She now insists on riding it through the house, while watching TV, and even waves goodbye and good night to it. Now I need to trick it out with some vinyl.

Another new layout

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Those of you not reading in Blogger, you won't notice a thing, but for the rest of you, you will notice some drastic changes. I felt like it was time there was a complete and total overhaul on this here ol' blog. What do you think? Yes, no, indifferent. Well, either way, I like it and think it is much easier to read and such.

ok, that's it. I'll see if I can come up with something a little more entertaining for the next post.

Divine Consign

This year I opted to be a consignor for Divine Consign. Last summer I attended my first event. I had signed up as a first time mom when I was pregnant with Mari, but when the weekend came around, we had to go out of town, so I missed it. Well, after my experience last summer, I was eager to try it again. When presented with the opportunity to consign, I made the choice to put in a few items to see what it was about. I only hoped to break even with whatever I would by. I selected 8 items that I felt were in really great shape and toiled over the instructions for a few hours. Really, Bianca, a few hours? Yes, a-few-hours! ugh...there were so many rules and I understand why they are in place and I fully appreciate it, but I just didn't want to screw it up.

They suggested I attend a first time seller seminar, but I was unable to make it. Instead, I went by their suggestions and priced my items at a half price minimum, some of them I priced quite a bit lower than half price. I printed off the first set of tags and realized that I had used all caps, so I went back and used all lowercase like they said. It pained me, because I have quite a fondness for capitalizing proper nouns when available. Once again, I printed off my tags. I cut them up, and went gangbusters on my stash of safety pins. Yes, I completely obliterated it. I MIGHT have 1 remaining. Anyway, off I went to take my 8 items. The night before and that day, I deliberated over and over whether to consign Mari's bathing suit from Janie and Jack. I, myself, had purchased this suit at a consignment shop. This was one of the first things I'd bought her. Actually, it was the first thing I bought for her to grow into, size 6 months. Eventually, I decided to part ways with it, because it was so stinkin' cute that another new mom needed to own it and share in the love that I felt with that suit.

Because I was a consignor, I had the opportunity to shop at the presale. I took my BFF with me and Don willingly stayed home with the little ones while we had a girls night out shopping. We both joked that once upon a time, we wore wristbands for entry to a club. Now we sported our wristbands for Saturday night shopping at a consignment sale. My, my how the times have changed. :)

After I ran in to see if they still had the princess castle available, and just missing out the wooden dollhouse I wanted to buy by mere seconds, I went off in search of the items that I had made available for consignment. Initially, I didn't find a thing. Then, I had a temporary moment of panic. You see, when I printed off my tags, they printed off 2x3". All of the rest of the tags were 4x6"!!! Immediately, my heart sank and I was certain that I received my 1st strike. You are only allowed 3 strikes before you are no longer to consign. How did I miss that???? Both times I'd printed the tags, they printed off teeny tiny. I had no idea! But then, I checked one other item and found it still on the rack. And then it hit me that the others items must've sold! BUT really hit me that the other items had sold, including the bathing suit. They had a melancholy song playing over the radio and I had to hide by an empty rack of clothing in the mass labyrinth of clothes composing myself and fighting back tears. And just as I was about to let myself have a nice cry lamenting my regret, a friend came up and teased me about the the dress I had in my hands. He said he had it first and immediately, I was grateful they were there to tease. I appreciated my initial decision and remembered that we had lots of footage of her in her bathing suit, with both photos and video. As a result, I scored 4 other AMAZING bathing suits. Yes, I plan to be at the pool quite a bit, and hopefully we can save some money to head out to the West Coast so Mari can become that much more familiar with the taste of the Pacific.

I also scored several dresses a couple of pairs of shoes (the tap shoes are too small, boo!) and a sweet tricycle. I'll be getting some shots of her in it soon enough to share with all of you. The best part of it, spending time shopping with my girlfriend. They have an inspection table where you can lay out your haul and immediately discard anything you don't want. She has a very discerning eye and can spot out stains and wears much better than I can. After getting the thumbs up from her, I was super excited about my haul. (have y'all seen those teenage haul videos on youtube? maybe I should do one for this here blog. LOL) I was happy with what she walked away with. I was once again affirmed that boys clothes are less expensive than girls clothes. But you know what, they make some really cute boy clothes and shoes!

Did I break even on my consigning?! Far from, actually, but I did alleviate the blow and gained a wealth of knowledge for my next consignment. Yep, I'm ready to jump back in and this time, I hope to have more than 8 items. Maybe I'll even try to put in 20. :D

sidenote: I visited an adult consignment shop today: The Buffalo Exchange. I'd been in one before, but back then I was much heavier than now, so I didn't even look at anything except shoes, and at the time, they didn't have a lot of choices. Well, this time, my aim was to check out the jeans. Everyone was super friendly in there, albeit original and eclectic. So much creative and free-flowing energy, I made a mental note to visit this place more often. I browsed through my typical size and nothing jumped out. As I rounded the corner, a pair on the end caught my eye. It was in the size 8 category and I just rolled my eyes. I've not seen a single digit number since I was 13 and even then, I was a 9 (soo junior size). Something told me to look at the size tag on the actual jean. Whaddya know, I MIGHT could squeeze in. I grabbed it and another pair that seemed more modern. I scurried to the back to try them on, hiding my find so no one would laugh at the thought of me trying to stuff my body in them. I took a deep breath and prepared myself to get the jeans to my knees and be ready to be faced with the the inevitable truth. Well, 'lo and behold, not only did the jeans go up past the knees, but then went around the thigh and fit!!! These were the modern skinny jeans that were marked 50% off. They were a little snug, but I reminded myself that they are supposed to be and that's how the kids are wearing 'em nowadays. I didn't mind being in them, because it didn't feel like the circulation was being cut off. Next up, Citizen of Humanity jeans. Those of you who know jeans know that they retail more than $100 (more like $120 - $170). I put them on and WOW! No really, WOW! They fit like a glove. I loved them! No, I mean I loved, loved, loved these jeans. I didn't want to take them off. But I did, because Primo was waiting for me in the car with cupcakes from Society Bakery. I whipped 'em off and ran to go check out. I was verifiably giddy. No need for a bag, so they gave me a token to place into a charity box to donate 5 cents instead of using the plastic sac. SCORE! $40 later and I left with 2 pairs of jeans. That's another thing I haven't done since I was 13.

What a wonderful day for shopping! Now I think I will make that haul video.

99...for fun

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I saw this on a friend’s blog and I thought, ok. Here is my list of 99. Not having done 19 is pretty good. Some may be surprising to y'all.

(The things I have done are bold.)

Copy and paste to your blog and let me know.

1. Started a blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Bought something from an infomercial
4. Had more than one flat tire on the same road trip
Shopped at the Mall of America
6. Been to Disneyland
7. Climbed a mountain
Jumped on a pogo stick (failed miserably)
9. Fell from a tent naked as a child (what does that even mean?)
Been to Mt. Rushmore
11. Toilet papered someone’s house
Watched a lightning storm
13. Taught yourself an art from scratch
14. Sold knives (after the interview, I quit immediately after learning it involved cold calling for sales)
15. Had food poisoning
Put a worm on a hook
17. Had “Glamour Shots” taken
18. Failed a class
19. Been interviewed by the police
Had a pillow fight
21. Been a part of a Broadway show (not on Broadway, but was in one that had been before)
22. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
Built a snow fort
24. Held a lamb
25. Gone skinny dipping
26. Ran a marathon
27. Been white water rafting on the Arkansas River in Colorado
28. Played spades
Watch a sunrise or sunset
30. Hit a home run
31. Quit smoking (although, I started and stopped within hours)
Been a friend to someone no one else liked
33. Walked the stars on Hollywood Blvd.
Seen an Amish community in person
35. Ate tacos in Tijuana
Had enough money to be truly satisfied
37. Done tongue tricks for a crowd
38. Gone rock climbing
39. Adopted a middle-aged pet
Sung karaoke
41. Seen Old Faithful Geyser erupt
42. Burned my mouth on jalapeno seeds
43. Seen John Wayne’s birthplace
44. Walked on a beach by moonlight
45. Drove down Snake Alley
46. Witnessed someone else’s child being born
Call my brother his name backwards
48. Fell asleep on the couch
49. Wore mis-matched socks all day
50. Ran out of gas
51. Kissed in the rain
52. Played in the mud
53. Gone to a Drive-in Theatre
54. Been in a movie
55. Dated a criminal
56. Started a business
Made a stranger laugh
58. Burned tacos
Served at a soup kitchen
60. Sold Girl Scout cookies
Been in a cave
62. Got flowers for no reason (one of my favorite things!)
63. Danced to the music in my head
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
Fell up the stairs
66. Bounced a check
67. Been to Cocoa Beach Fl.
68. Saved a favorite childhood toy
69. Wore a henna tattoo
70. Been given a car-for free (thanks Mom & Dad!)
Laughed hysterically at yourself
72. Had pink hair
73. Drove on the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Been fired from a job
75. Went horse back riding through mountains
. Broken a bone (although, nothing bigger than my pinkie toe)
77. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
78. Seen a redwood forest
79. Drove on the PCH
Saw Chicago from the Sears Tower
81. Watched a street performer on Venice Beach
82. Missed a flight
Had your picture in the newspaper
84. Had a surprise party thrown for me
85. Hailed a cab
86. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (I was unsuccessful in killing the snake, but I did try and I helped prep)
87. Had chickenpox
88. Been serenaded
89. Partied on a yacht
Met someone famous
91. Fired a gun
92. Got a tattoo
93. Had a baby
Seen the Alamo in person
95. Lived with an incredible view
96. Received a $50 tip.
Owned a cell phone
98. Been stung by a bee
99. Quit a job without giving notice (see 14)


Monday, March 1, 2010

I know some of you may have wondered why all of a sudden I have fallen off the face of the earth. Well, I really haven't, I just haven't had the time to drop some words on this here ol' blog. I have been doing a tad bit of writing, but that's for an entirely separate project all together.
In any case, what have I been up to?

Well, I've been doing a lot of many things. In the past two weeks, I've been spoiled to have spent 5 days with girlfriends!! 5 days people. That's epic. It's so difficult to get us all together and to think that two of those times were dinner spent sharing a bottle of wine with at least 4 of us. WOW! Our hectic schedules MIGHT allow us to get together maybe once every few months. (how sad, isn't it?) Anyway, one such night, I went out to Shecky's Girls Night Out. I dropped $15 for unlimited shopping/drinking/marketing/girl time. Why would I spend $15 to hang out with my girlfriends? Well, I figured I would spend that much anyway, and for a chance to see what all the hype was about, I figured, 'eh, why not? For going, we also received a nifty goody bag filled with all of the goodies below. Quite an eclectic assortment of products, right? Each bag had similar items, but no two were the same.
While out, we also had some amazing deals. I bought two super cute sweaters for 50% off and 65% off retail price. My sister scored a pair of Lucky brand jeans for $20. I nearly dropped $70 on a pair of Harajuku Lovers heels retailed at $250. Yes, great deals on merchandise. Midori sponsored the event, so we were able to knock back as many as we were willing to stand in line to receive. And frankly, it was worth it just to hang with a lovely pair of my girls.
In that bag, I received a box of Nailene nails in natural color, short length. For kicks, I thought I'd try these out. They reminded me of those old school Lee Press-on nails. Do y'all remember those? I literally slapped these babies on moments before passing out. Yes, they are cheap plastic. But you know what? For less than $10 they'll pass for when you need a nice set of nails. Cheap, but not cheap looking from afar. They aren't nearly as thick or heavy as acrylic or solar nails. Best of all, when I'm done, I can just apply a little extra force and it snaps right off. I'll soak them in a bit of acetone nail polish remover to take off the glue and a buff later I'll be back to normal. Those of you on a budget who need a classy manicure for a night out, special date, or just to get a tiny happy boost, I'd recommend these over spending a couple of hours in a nail salon.

One of the other outings was with my BFF and her son to Willowbend Mall. We took our kiddos to play in the play area there. It was his first time to be at such a place. It was so cute because I told Mari to hold his hand. She complied and guided him to the area. Once there, though, she let go and was off and running to explore the area. We let them play for about 45 minutes before it was time to go. On our way out, we stopped by this store to admire the amazing tricks the guys were doing. Immediately, I made a mental note to research how I too could learn how to ride the flowrider and potentially learn to surf. Mari, of course, was begging me to let her ride. She must be at least 42" to ride, so we still have 6 more inches before she's there. Such a little thrill seeker, I tell ya.

Speaking of, weren't the Olympics fun? I hope you had the chance to watch some of it. My favorite performances were Shaun White, Johnny Weir, Apolo Ohno, and the snowboard cross. What about you?

Also, I've been wearing my photographer hat. I've had a few sessions lately. One of them was around the Arts District with a bride. Let me tell you, folks. She was a celebrity! The people at the new Winspear Opera House were so kind to let us sneak in for 5 minutes to grab a shot next to their BRILLIANT red wall and on the staircase. She was GORGEOUS. Once the wedding passes, I'll post her portrait.

I was fast and furiously trying to finish up my sewing project for the 2010 recon-a-thon sponsored by The Fabric Floozie, but alas, I fell short. :( I do hope to finish it soon, though. To give you a preview, I took an old dress that I wore in a Quince (the turquoise fabric) and used some of the fabric for a purse I'm working on. I also tore apart my costume from Mari's birthday party (the red fabric) to use as well. I also used some more of the turquoise satin on a SPECIAL project for Mari. We have a small card table in our kitchen that we use as a prep table and Mari has taken to hiding under it. Once we had a flour sack towel hanging over the edge and she was over the moon pretending it was a curtain. That got me thinking that I need to really start cultivating that imaginative play of hers. I LOVED nooks and crannies as a little one and it seems she does too. That project is in the works and I'm so excited to see how it'll turn out.

I have also attempted running again. My lungs are not cooperating as well as I would like them to. Of course, part of it is that I'm out of shape, but another part is that they are just working a lot harder than before. This asthma thing really sucks (ha ha...pun intended) and I hate being reliant on an inhaler. I'm glad I have it and it helps, but it is quite a change from days past. Oh well, at least I can still knock out a 5K, albeit, not anywhere nearly as fast as I would like. It'll come, though, I'm sure of it.

Finally, I've been wearing my wedding coordinating hat. One of my BFFs is getting married in July, so we've been running around trying on dresses, researching ideas, and planning like mad for her showers and bachelorette party.

Here's to hoping the weather clears up a bit and I slow down enough to update you guys a little more than I have been. Prayers and blessings out to all of you!
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