July 2011

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By Katharine

Now that Nathan has had his DSLR for a while, we have really been appreciating the amazing photos he gets. Whenever we go back and look at old photos from previous trips, we are just amazed by how much better our photos are getting.

But I am slightly jealous because while my Olympus Tough point and shoot is awesome because it is completely waterproof, very rugged, and it takes pretty nice landscapes, it is still just a point and shoot. And most of the time I just let Nathan take all the photos while I only snap a few here and there. But now I can compete with my new camera! We got it just in time for me to practice before our honeymoon to Alaska.

Enjoying my new camera!

Nathan did all the research on this one, so I have to thank him for that. I wanted something smaller than a DSLR because when we’re hiking, the last thing I want to do is add more weight in camera gear. But recently the micro 4/3rds camera technology has really progressed, and so I got the Olympus E-PL2. It has a much bigger sensor than a point-and-shoot, but the body and lenses are significantly smaller than a DSLR. It has exchangeable lenses, and my camera kit came with two different zoom lenses, one that covers a similar range as my point and shoot, and the other gives me much more zoom, almost equal to Nathan’s telephoto lens!

Olympus E-PL2 with 40-150 mm lens 1.22 pounds, Crop Factor of 2 = 300 mm

Canon 40D with 70-200 mm lens 3.37 pounds, Crop Factor of 1.6 = 320 mm

Of course because it is significantly smaller, it doesn’t have all the performance of Nathan’s DSLR, but it is the perfect camera for me and a great way to get into photography. I’ve really liked the results so far!


The depth of field isn’t quite as good as a DSLR, but with a low F-stop I can still blur the background for portraits


Caught a bug in mid flight!


We’ve enjoyed playing softball with our coworkers this summer.  Our team has defiantly shown improvement over the last month and I would say we have the best defense in the league!  Sadly Katharine and I can only play in a couple more games before our wedding, but we wish the team good luck!

By Nathan

On July 4th we were dying to get out and do something besides wedding planning so we consulted our guide to Los Angeles County hikes and picked one on Katharine’s to do list.  The hike was Serrano Canyon and Big Sycamore Canyon Loop in the Santa Monica Mountains, which is a 9.8 mile loop with 1,250′ of elevation gain.  The hike started in a campground which was over run with families and crowded barbecues but after a mile hike on a dirt road we turned down a narrow path and only saw other hikers maybe once an hour.


In the beginning the trail was shaded from the hot sun, but with all the rain this year the brush had began to encroach on the trail and you felt more like trail blazing then hiking sometimes.

Trying our new day packs for Alaska (overkill for this day hike)

But of course when you hike in thick brush near creeks around here, you have to be on the lookout for poison oak. There was an insane amount of it on this trail-  it was everywhere lining the trails on either side and clinging on to other bushes reaching as high as your shoulders.  I now use a sunscreen that has a built in barrier to protect against the rash-inducing oils.

But the canyon had more than poison oak – we also spotted many flowers that provided great practice for Katharine to use her new camera! (More on the new camera later)

Olympus E-PL2, 14mm,  ISO 320, f/4.0, 1/60 seconds

We finally climbed out of the lush poison oak filled canyon to the top of a hill and a sea of dried grass.


We traded poison oak for hot exposure to the sun.  At this point we had covered about 5 miles (halfway) and almost all of our elevation gain but we had drank at least 2 liters of water each.  We headed around the loop and back to the dirt road where at 8 of 9.8 miles I ran out of water but we had reached the dirt road that was shaded and easy to walk.

We also ran into a small group of ducks resting in the shade.

Olympus E-PL2, 42mm,  ISO1600, f/5.6, 1/500 seconds

All in all it was nice to get out but it was just too hot to really enjoy the hike. We’ve decided from now on not to hike the Santa Monica Mountains during the summer months even if the guidebook claims there is plenty of shade!

Last week our awesome florist Tweeny of the Flower Lab did a trial centerpiece for us and it looked beautiful, just what we had described to her!

We won’t show the whole arrangement so wedding guests reading this won’t know exactly what they will look like, but here is a tease…


Footnote: I was just browsing through Tweeny’s blog and I discovered that she actually has done wedding flowers for Hollywood stars! Well, at least she did the flowers for to Senta Moses. Don’t judge me for recognizing Senta from the ABC Family show “Greek”. She was also in Home Alone. So yeah, our florist is actually a florist for the stars!!!

We got a new car! We’re looking forward to using the all-wheel drive and extra cargo space on our next camping trip.

Our 2006 Limited Edition Subaru Outback Overlooking the Pacific Ocean

We spent part of the July 4th weekend finishing up working on wedding planning.  We decided to go to our local park for a change of scenery as we wrote our wedding ceremony.


I am easily distracted and start taking photos of Katharine working

This is the face I get when she realizes she’s doing all the work


By Katharine

One thing I have learned while planning my wedding, which is hopefully the biggest party I’ll ever have to throw, is that other people also like to use our wedding as an excuse to throw parties. How else can I explain all the parties thrown in my honor?? By the time Nathan and I get married, there will have been 5 parties thrown for me/us!

But the subject of this post is an amazing weekend getaway with my three closest friends from work back in May. They had been very secretive about the plans so I had no clue what we’d be doing. On Saturday morning (late morning, they know I like to sleep in) we drove up to Santa Barbara and started with a nice lunch by the ocean. We then took a walk up State street and stopped for an impromptu wine tasting. We walked a ways up State Street, doing some window shopping and we also took advantage of Old Navy’s $1 flip flop sale.

The flip flops were not a coincidence, because as one friend let slip (cough, Anu, cough), we had an afternoon appointment at a spa for pedicures. But they still managed to surprise me because they treated me to a massage too! It felt amazing 🙂

Then we headed back to the hotel and while Aidan and I went to 7-11 to grab some drinks, Megan and Anu sneakily decorated the room with streamers and banners. It was pretty amazing how fast they hung it all up. When I returned, it was time to get ready and get me dressed up – in style!

Not everyone can rock a tiara, feather boa, sash, and button all at once!

Oh, and there was extra bling too!!

That evening we headed out to a great Tapas place for dinner. I don’t remember everything we ordered but there was plenty of mojitos, cheesy dishes, and bacon wrapped everything. Yum!

Anu, Megan, and remnants of a delicious dinner

Chocolate cake shots before heading to the bars

Then we went out on State Street and stayed until the bar shut down and kicked us out. We had such a great time and finally got a chance to catch up with each other.

The four of us enjoying drinks early on

The night ended with lots of laughing… as all good nights should!


The next day we got a bit of a slow start, but we rallied in Camarillo for some outlet shopping and I think everyone found something worth buying. At that point we all decided to make the weekend last a bit longer instead of going home right away – so we went to a theater to see the movie Bridesmaids, which was hilarious and a perfect way to end the weekend.

Thanks girls for an amazing weekend!

We spent the afternoon on Father’s Day with my grandparents at their church in San Diego.  The main reason we go is to play ping pong with my 93 year old grandpa.

My Brother, My Dad and I

My Grandpa Too Fast for 1/125 sec Shutter Speed

If I don’t do any crazy spikes my grandpa would beat me hands down.  I find myself running back and forth as he calmly returns all my volleys.

I hope I have his eye hand coordination when I am 93.

It’s always a challenge to get my grandpa to smile for a photo, but when he does it’s worth it.

On Saturday while the girls had a bridal shower the guys went to P2K shooting range in San Diego.  We shot several rounds at the 5 stand which had some challenging shots.  The biggest surprise was John who shot sporting clays for the first time and hit over 50%.