Happy Birthday / National Hot Dog Day!

Today is the greatest day of the year. It’s my birthday and National Hot Dog Day!

This past weekend I got to spend some time with my nieces and nephew. They went camping nearby, so I visited them for a day, and we had hot dogs for lunch. I love spending time with them since I don’t get to very often, but every time I encounter children I remember how messy they are. I was shocked when I saw the hot dogs they fixed themselves! The following are examples of how not to fix your hot dogs. Unless you’re 8 years old, that is.

First, Alena’s had lots and lots of mustard and dill relish.

Daphne’s with a slice of cheese and a big blob of ketchup in the middle.

I should note that Lennon’s hot dog is actually okay–he is only two years old so didn’t fix it himself. But the choice of toppings does not live up to my standards for him, in all honesty.

Elvis (a basset hound mix–can you tell?) wasn’t very discriminating with his.

I’m not sure if hot dogs will be part of my birthday today, but I am at least counting on cake.

Whimsical Weekend on Film

My friends Tricia and Melissa visited this weekend, and we were determined to do the most whimsical thing we could think of.

I had previously bought a Groupon for entrance to the Dallas Arboretum, specifically to see the summer’s Alice in Wonderland garden. (I can’t deny how whimsical I truly am, sorry.) I spared Joseph and instead took Tricia and Melissa along, and we had a nice picnic.

I had never been to the Dallas Arboretum before, and it was beautiful. I’m definitely going back when it’s not summer. I don’t really know what we were thinking spending the day outside when it was over 100 F, especially with a non-Texan in tow. Melissa is from New England, and this is only her second Texas summer. The arboretum has no signage, and we weren’t offered any sort of map. We walked big circles trying to find our way out, and I think we all felt certain we were going to be trapped and inside and die of heat exhaustion.

But we survived (barely)!

Tricia and I only had film cameras for the sake of the whimsy. These were all taken with my dad’s old SLR, a Nikon F-601.

I also brought along my Brownie Hawkeye, which I’m sure must have made me look pretty obnoxious. No photos from that yet; I’m going to develop it myself (it’s B&W 120 film) because I truly am that pretentious. I’d appreciate any advice from others who have worked with film! I’m looking at buying all my supplies online. Right now I’m mainly torn on what developer to choose.

Visiting GWB Presidential Library and Museum

Yesterday I visited the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the SMU campus with my lovely friend Asma. I am a big fan of presidential museums in general (regardless of political affiliation), so I was really excited to visit. The museum was really well done, and the architecture alone is pretty incredible.

Above: The First Dog, Barney, and his fan mail.

Below: Gifts from other leaders, including a taxidermic lion from the president of Tanzania.

I really love when buildings include wildflowers in their groundskeeping (like one of my favorites, the Elisabet Ney Museum). So beautiful and so appropriate for Texas!

Extra: This picture was taken in the full-size reproduced oval office (unlike LBJ’s in Austin–it is 7/8th scale!).

I had to include this, even if it’s slightly embarrassing. I don’t understand those who have mastered the cell phone selfie thing. I am so bad at them.

Double

Yesterday I got the chance to play around with double exposures a bit. I used this simple tutorial written my friend Sara as a basis and then kind of played around from there.

This past week was hectic as my second-to-last graduate semester (!!!!) started really winding down. I also attended the Texas Library Association’s 100th annual conference here in Fort Worth for three days. It was amazing, but I was carrying too many books to also lug around a camera, and I won’t make you sit through my awful iPhone photos (The iPhone 3GS camera really isn’t great… It’s time for an upgrade next months, but I’m not sure whether to go with the 4 or 5. Any suggestions?).

I met Andrew McCarthy, Lois Lowry, Jon Klassen, and Rebecca Stead! I’d say it was a successful conference! This is the first time I’ve gotten to meet an author I loved and my first time meeting a celebrity–they were all so gracious and seemed so genuinely happy and surprised when I complimented their works. And I have to admit I actually went weak in the knees when Andrew McCarthy made eye contact with me. Oh my gosh. I have been a fan of Lois Lowry’s work since fifth grade and was beyond thrilled to get to hear her speak and have her sign a couple books for me. I also got to have great little conversations with Jon Klassen and Rebecca Stead, both of whom I really admire. Jon Klassen is a wonderful illustrator/author, and Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me (the 2010 Newbery winner) completely blew me away.

But every day after the conference I came home and researched and wrote essays until well past midnight. When the essays were turned in and the conference was over, I put six pillows on my bed and hibernated. Now I have the energy to finish the semester and actually managed to find the time to take a few photos yesterday.

Because sometimes you feel like a ghost.

The First Few Days with a 7 D

After four wonderful years with my Canon XTi, I finally got a new camera last week! There are adjustments to be made (first, I had to get used to how heavy it is!), but I’m so in love. The 7D just photographs beautifully, and I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with the video feature. I’m so, so happy I finally decided to take the next step up!

Here are a few photos from the first few days with my camera, where I was trying to acclimate myself to the settings and also test it out (boy is it faster than my XTi! That photo of my doll was taken in near-darkness, and there’s not a hint of grain!). Joseph and Leonardo are my unwilling test subjects :)

A short video. I’m just amazed by the image quality, even after being compressed for online streaming. I am going to have a lot of fun with this!

First Few Days from Alyssa Young on Vimeo.

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