Friday, November 1, 2013

An Early Christmas Present

So we are matched!

I (we) are very excited. Our boy is due in mid December!

We are happy, thrilled and just over the moon is an understatement.

What will be next for the Suburban Artist?

Lets just say I am investing in backdrops to cater to newborns :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Czech it Out, Agog in Prague, Czecking Out for Now

I stole AGOG IN PRAGUE from Laura's blog AGOG IN PRAGUE. She is my brother's friend and former roomie.

So I went to Prauge! After a false start: 28 hour delay in NJ and courtesy of United I stayed at a lovely hotel that was a few blocks from some former Frat houses that I spent many a night in during my college days in the heart of NEWARK, NJ.  When a fellow passenger asked me if the neighborhood was safe I just said not to leave the hotel. So my first night of vacay was spent in Newark, NJ.  Silver lining? Got to see my mom and my sister and went to the outlet mall in Elizabeth, NJ. So not a bad day... It just wasn't PRAGUE.

It looks like we are outside.
In reality we are in the safe haven known to 
all Jersey Girls as the mall.

So after lunch I set of for PRAGUE (PRAHA). I landed in Brussels and got to Prague around 1pm Czech time. PJ was there to greet me and after a very harrowing cab ride (the driver didn't even acknowledge lights or posted speed limits) we got to his apartment and I got to meet Shannon. Whom I now adore.
Shannon and I at the bus stop.

PJ and I on the bus.

We went to lunch where I naturally had some pasta. It was pretty good. Then we went back to the apartment for a little nap time then we went out for the night where I did have traditional Goulash. It was fantastic. Not a fan of the dumplings with bacon. I know, bacon is supposed to make everything better, but not this time.
I won't chronicle the entire trip but I will post the pics. I used the Fujifilm X20 exclusively during the day and for the first night. Excellent camera. Love it. I used my Canon 60D for all of my night shots (not the first night) in conjunction with my MeFoto Backpacker  tripod. I ADORE THIS TRIPOD. Run, do not walk, to your nearest dealer or order online (I got mine through Amazon as I had a free Prime Membership to try out and got 2 day free shipping). For $139 you will not find a better travel tripod. Or hell, better tripod at all. It is very light. PJ carried it for me all night (the first night shoot we went to see RENT, a musical about Bohemia in Bohemia?! Natch), and he said he could barely feel it. Then the set up was super easy. And its my first ball head tripod. I thought I could't afford one and had a Sunpack panhead that cost just as much. I looked at Manfrotto and SLIK and for the price and the reviews, chose MeFoto Backpacker. And I am so glad that I did. The Roadtripper is a bit heavier and I almost went with that model. But MeFoto assured me (via their FB page) that it would hold my 60D. And it did. I wasn't nervous at all. It was spectacular. 
My brother outside his office.

On the way to the clock.


Next to Mucha's work.

View from the Mucha exhibit.

X20 no tripod. Not bad.

Heading to the clock. X20.

X20. On the way to the clock.

Center of Praha. X20.

Astronomical Clock.


Apparently it was a blue moon that night.

My brother leading the way.

Some famous building. X20.

Bridge and Palace. X20.

View from the bridge. X20.

Close up. X20.

Heading towards the train.
A church.
Outside the palace.



Heading towards the Charles Bridge. Waterwheel.

Outside the stairs by Charles Bridge.

The Charles Bridge.
(Across from the wood gate and the location of the opening
scene of Mission Impossible movie).

Charles Bridge. For about 4 minutes the lights by the
statues were on. Then they turned off.

Other end of the bridge.


I cranked up the ISO to 1000 so my brother
wouldn't have to stand still for minutes.

Self-portrait. But my brother hit the remote :)

I could post a lot more photos. But I will end it here. With these pics from the 2nd night shoot at VyŇ°ehrad. All shot with the D60.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Other Blog....Cooking With Ms. Sara

Hi! Just wanted to post a link to my OTHER blog.

Granted it hasn't gotten much attention in the last few months. That will change in September.
You see its a Cooking/Teaching blog. It is about my life skills adventures in the classroom. I teach children with severe Autism. I love it. Absolutely love it. There are days when I don't want to get up, or days I wring my hands in frustration and do not get me started on the political BS that comes with the job. But the teaching? The actual teaching and interaction with "my kids"? Priceless. Its why I go to work each day.

We do cooking on Fridays. Its great, because some kids with Autism (and those without) are picky, PICKY eaters. By teaching them how to make a meal it teaches them Life Skills, and gets them invested in what they eat. I had one student who hated eggs. Screamed and cried and shook like I was feeding them brussels sprouts.  Once he was invested in making his breakfast? With some cheese on top? G-O-N-E. Signed "more" and everything.

So my other mission was to get others out there to do the same and post some resources (Boardmaker symbols) because the software is expensive and if I can make a free PDF, why the hell not. My assistants were like "You should do a cooking show..." and the blog was born. But it was born halfway through the year. So this fall you will be able to how I start (cheese sandwiches) and end up with Chicken Parm (seriously).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Website polished :)

I have been working hard to get the website to be more user friendly.

I love Other People's Pixels. They have template and are pretty cheap: $160 a year. It does have its drawbacks. I found that you have to choose either template or menu or a "hyrbid" setting. But the menu tabs were so incredible small. So I played around with the fonts. Also it was really hard to navigate. But then I combined my galleries into 3 main groups, and then I was able to link them to the main menu.

Please take a look and let me know what you think.
Thank you!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tech Purchases and Adoption Update

I bought a new Kindle! Ok Mike got me the Kindle but I found the deal lol!
I got a coupon for $30 off a tablet at Staples, and Staples had a sale the Kindle Fire HD 7" *32gb* for 189.00! So for 159 I got a new tablet.

You see, I use iPads all the time at work, and while I love the interface and user friendliness of them I think they are just too big. So I had my eye on the iPad mini but when I saw the price of 399 for only 16gb of storage... well I focused on the Kindle. So it took some time and and buyer's remorse set it... "It is not the same as the iPad!"

I now adore it. I really do. Thanks to some internet searching I found a way to get other android games not offered by Amazon onto my device (AKA CCS) and now I am completely happy with it. Just hate the freaking carousal part. But L O V E it. I use it mostly for FB and games. My phone was just too small. I plan on using my Kindle Touch (they do not make that one anymore) for reading my books as I like the size and the weight, and the look (matte paper like finish and font not a shiny screen).  While at first I thought that was ridiculous to have both after reading reviews and research I saw that many others felt the same and so I felt better. Hmm... Maybe self esteem issues arising?

I also got some cool headphones (again after research and not wanting to spend 100 or more) by Urbanears. Mostly cause I hate earbuds, and I am going on a long trip, and I wanted them in purple.

My MacBook Pro with laser engraving (done by Mike),
my Kindle Fire, Urbanears Headphones and Kindle Touch.

I also just bought (after MUCH research) and will review once it arrives a travel tripod by MeFoto. I got the Backpacker (in purple), and its travel size is 12 inches. Thats it. And after emails from MeFoto via FB, they assured me it WILL hold my Canon 60D. Since I am going to Prague there is no way I am NOT doing night photography. I didn't want to lug my large and heavy panhead Sunpack tripod. Now I have something light! And its my first time using a ballhead so I will update when I get back with a review.

Onto the adoption update...
This month was our lowest for page views but still going strong on the number of books being sent out. On a positive note, in the last three months, three adoptions have gone through and 3 families from our agency are now complete. So that is something. It gives me hope.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

...."Its so just so nice to be nominated"....

It really is true. It is NICE.

And a pleasant surprise. The other day, I was going through the mail and trying very hard to tear in half, what I thought was junk mail. So when the darn thing wouldn't rip, I decided to open it.

So glad I did.

The letter was from Photographer's Forum Magazine .  I was informed that out of 10,000 entries to their 33rd Annual Spring competition, I was one out of 1400 finalists. I was in the top 14%.

I was stunned. Shocked. Even more so when I saw it was the picture of my "Kissing Wolves" that got me in! It was taken several years ago, on a Rebel (The original digital rebel), a 5 megapixel camera, in the cold, the day after a blizzard. I didn't think the Lakota Wolf Preserve would even be open. But they were. And right after my fingers started to go numb, I had the honor of seeing these two Tundra Wolves kiss. It remains one of my favorite photos.

I gave one to my parents, to my principal and vice-principal at NB School when I left to move to VA, and it has been shown in a gallery in Wyoming, bought and sold there as well as in VA.

So all in all, do I expect to place? No, I do not. But it just goes to show you don't need the most expensive equipment out there to take pictures. To be a photographer you need a good eye, and patience. And hand-warmers in your pocket.

"Kissing Wolves" by Sara Mahler Ronayne

Friday, July 19, 2013


So apparently the printer needs a full charge, it was charging and plugged in the laptop, in order to work. The software is still touch and go. But at least I am no longer mad, but still a bit annoyed, and thankful I didn't pay full price and got it off of Ebay.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Waiting.... Polaroid Disappoints...and New Tripod?

Its been a while since I last posted.

We are waiting. Ever waiting to get "the call" from the adoption agency. I know, I know... It hasn't been that long. 8 months since we decided to go ahead and make the dream reality. 7 months since we signed up with the adoption agency. Almost 5 months after being "live" on the website.  So not that long. And as many people remind me, the wait will be long. So sit back and enjoy yourself. Hmm.....

So I spend my time looking at baby clothes online, youtube how to swaddle and go to work, eat out with Mike, visit friends and family.

Which leads me to my next bit.

Polaroid. Oh Polaroid how you disappointed me. I got, off of ebay, the GL10 portable printer that prints in the ZINK (zero ink). I knew ahead of time that it did not work with my iPhone. But the Polaroid website clearly stated that it would work with the MacBook Pro. You see, I want to print out pics when I go to Prague to visit PJ. Thought it would be fun. And nice to have when we have our baby to have prints right there to give to my parents. Friends. Family. Anyone who wants to look at our beautiful baby. Mike had gotten the Pocket Photo by LG which also does not work with iPhone. So anyway I downloaded the software. And guess what. The software says there is a "template error" and the computer does not work with the printer. I emailed Polaroid. Still waiting to hear back. So disappointed. See, I was trying to just enjoy.

On to going to Prague...its in a month and 1 week. I want to bring a tripod to do night photography. But not the huge one that I have that is large and heavy. And a panhead. And a Sunpak. So.... I found MeFoto. They have 3 travel tripods. I am looking at the Backpacker which is the least expensive and small and light. I got an email back from them within oh 3 hours, and they said yes the Backpacker will hold my Canon 60D. Right now, entering their giveaway contest on Instagram for a free one. If I don't win one by the 1st week in Aug (its a weekly give away) I will purchase one. In red or purple. Yes they come in colors. Yes that makes me ridiculously happy. Yes, the man on youtube who mockingly said women will love it because its got color, you are right but then I saw on other youtube videos men with red tripods. So men were happy too.

That is all for now.... I will just go on, enjoying each day, hug my dog, kiss my husband, chill with my friends, visit Prague. And wait. With all of my heart.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Getting back out there...

I have been shooting. Anything and everything. I recently bought the Fujifilm X20, a lovely little camera. I bought it specifically to catch all those precious moments that occur once our baby arrives... But it is so compact and powerful I carry it everywhere NOW. It is super cute, and its a fantastic camera. I usually don't use in-camera filters but this one has filters that mimics Fuji film, and I was a fan of Velvia so I use that one. A lot. The ISO is impressive, as well as the 2.5 lens. Its the fastest lens I own!

With my D60, I shot whales during a whale watch and got some fantastic pics. Heading out again over Memorial Day weekend, I think.  Also got some pics of Peoples State Park in CT, where my husband was fishing. My friend Christine, snapped a pic of me with TEMPLE GRANDIN, with the X20. I had the ISO set high so the flash would not bother Temple. It came out great.

Its good to be shooting on a regular basis, I know it (the photos) may not be "artsy", just the everyday. Its not avant garde and borderlines on kitsch, which I remember my college prof. telling me was the worse thing to be. But you know what? It makes me damn happy. And that is what art is supposed to do. Bring you pleasure, enjoyment and happiness. So while I (we) sit and wait for our baby to come, I will snap pictures of living life. And while I am at, be happy.

A view from the parking lot, with
the Velvia filter on. X20 camera

The lake across the street from us, in the parking lot
at Bickford's. X20.

Me, meeting Temple Grandin, and her book that she
signed. X20, ISO at 1000.

Along the river by the Ovation Guitar Company, CT.

Humpback whales, bubble net feeding.

Humpback fluke. 

Fishing along the river, Peoples State Forest, CT.

Mike and Kelly fishing.