Thoughts, out loud, that probably should of been left inside my head....

Monday, March 30, 2009

THE Party of the YEAR!

Me and the Birthday Boy! least so far!

I have been a busy bee this past week, trying to shove in photo shoots so Jeff and I can pay some bills, all the while finishing last minute preparations for Dad's Surprise 60th Birthday Bash!

A little bit of a background for those who weren't privy to my stress or that of my mother's stress as well. The idea to host this party formulated well over a year ago when it dawned on us that indeed, Dad was approaching the big 6-0! *gasp* Though, in honesty, things really didn't start rolling until he had his quintuple bypass surgery back in November. Do we remember that?! Ha! I'm still trying to forget it... Though, that's when we realized we needed to HOST the Granddaddy of all events (no pun intended towards Dad's advanced age).

And, looky, looky, looky, how convenient it was that Mom and Dad had started on the pavilion project. Now, let's see if they can have this bad boy finished by end of March. Knowing Dad, that wouldn't be hard. Well, boy did we have things wrong. He had a good pace going after he recouped from his surgery, but he started slowing down at the end of February, much to our dismay. That's when the surprise element of this birthday bash started losing it's luster. More hints from various family members started rolling in about "Say, John, when are you going to have that finished?", "Sure would be nice to get that thing through", etc, etc. So, needless to say, he became suspicious. I end this background info summary with the statement that my Mom is also a Schwencke. If you know of a Schwencke. You'll know one thing. They stink at secrets. Enough said.

So Saturday, the big day, rolled around (though Dad's bday wasn't technically until Sunday, 3.29). Guests started showing up around 5pm and Jeff, under the ruse of playing golf, was keeping Dad away until 5:30, though it ended up being more like 5:45pm - we were all subject to Dad's lottery stop whim.

We all donned our fake mustaches, me with my what could be described no less as a 'porn stache', headed to the gate to greet the birthday boy. So we waited, and waited and waited some more. In actuality, it was only about 10 minutes. But 50 people standing at a gate with fake mustaches on for 10 minutes seems like an eternity. Anyway, finally a rumbling from the road. "Is that him?" some of the kids started saying. "yes! I see his truck, everybody get ready!" In they rolled, "SURPRISE!!!!!" - I think we got him. Regardless that he knew something was up, I don't think he had a clue of the magnitude. It was awesome! And I truly don't think he knew that Ashley and JR would be in town, as they were in town only two weeks prior.

After herding the group back to the pavilion it was time to PARTY!!! BBQ, a fantastic speech by John Hoyt (one of my Dad's best friends and my godfather <--said in a raspy Italian voice), PRESENTS, cupcakes (yum), BEER, MARGARITAS and last but not least, the best part, karaoke!!!!!! Who knew it could be so much fun!

I broke the ice with the karaoke machine (because in my defense, NO ONE was going to go if someone didn't make an ass out of themselves first) and gave a sad, squeaky, pitchy version of Rod Stewarts "Maggie Mae". But it did it, and the crowd started coming in! Michael Wren, Angie's boyfriend, blew us away with "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon - fantastic! Though, he had some practice since he does play guitar and sing in a band, I believe! No fair!

The Schwencke ladies made an appeareance, featuring Morris, various cousin groups, Calli & Colleen with the 4 Non Blondes and the Mighty Veselkas performed, it was all fabulous. I was bummed to see it end! But, as they say, all good things must. End that is. *sigh*

Dad loved it. Which was all that mattered. And the best is still to come. In May he's cashing in on his present. A 12-day Alaskan land/cruise package that him and my Mom are going on. Not to mention the fabulous camera that his company bought him that he'll be able to take some fantastic photos with.

Can you believe I didn't take one photo?! I know! I relied on others around me. So here are some pics from my Mom's cam.

The Dancing Hoyt's

The Karaoke Set Up

The Mighty Veselka's

4 Non Blondes: Colleen & Calli


Follow Up: I received a very nice and personable email from The Camera Exhange's president, Ed Gonzalez, apologizing for his sales staff. He went so far as to extend his personal attention the next time I am in his store and was very quick to reply to my correspondence. I might have to rethink things.

I made a trip to Camera Exchange this morning to purchase some equipment I needed for my photography gig. Let's just say, it didn't go so hot. As soon as I got home, I wrote them a letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I just left your store after making an exchange and, as this is my second dealing with Camera Exchange in the past 72 hours, I am finding the customer service at your store, SORELY LACKING.

On Friday, I was in a rush to find a particular tripod and attachment. While the salesman wasn't outright rude, he was neither friendly nor made me feel like he wanted my $300 purchase that I made at your store. "How are you ma'am?" would have been a great start, but I did not so much as receive a friendly greeting from ANYONE when I entered your store.

Over the weekend, I realized I had purchased the wrong tripod and needed to come by this morning to make the exchange. When I mentioned this to the salesman this morning, I received a look that can be described as nothing but ANNOYANCE. Oh, excuse me, did I not just PURCHASE this tripod from your store on Friday? Are ya'll in a habit of treating your returning customers so poorly? I even spent an ADDITIONAL $30 to buy a more expensive tripod then the one I returned. Silly me!

THEN, if I hadn't annoyed your salesman enough with my 'request' I asked him if he could PLEASE attach the ball head (another item over $100 I purchased from your store) - not, a single "No problem" or a "Sure, ma'am, I'd be happy to" was uttered. Nothing. He only acted even more put out.

Then, when it was time to PAY UP. Another salesman came to check me out, asked for my receipt and then for my card. Take my money, but don't offer up a thank you or a have a nice day on the way out the door.

Needless to say, Camera Exchange, you have lost a customer. I am more than happy to give my money to online companies, who's outsourced customer service is almost 100% better than yours! Who cares for the wait time.

It's a shame, I would of like to support my local economy, especially in today's times. Alas, you've made me and my money feel unwanted. And that simply won't do.

Have a fantastic day. I hope you found everything you were looking for.


Colleen Koenig

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why, yes.... it IS a mustache.

So, I did another craft project last week. Quick and easy, but extremely fun, I pieced and stuffed....drum roll... a mustache pillow! WHAT!?! I know, a mustache?! Colleen, have you lost your mind?! What's up with the mustaches lately?!

Well, I can't tell you...yet. But soon. Regardless, the need for a mustache pillow had called and I rose to the occasion. I'm quite proud of it actually. I made the pattern myself out of 8.5x11 scraps that I pieced together. The material came from the discount bin at Hobby Lobby. I had actually taken pics of the entire assembly process through sewing and construction but, alas, I accidentally deleted them all! I know.... *rolling eyes*

So without further ado, may I present, Mr. Mustache. I think it makes my couch look quite dapper, don't you?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

*This is not a paid advertisement* :)

As most of you might have known, some part time work that I've been doing on the side since the big L.O. included some content writing for a website. While I'm fairly new to this online community of freelancers, I felt my answers to your question "What website?" may have been a bit scattered, or boring, kind of like when you ask grandpa to answer a simple question and he chooses to respond with the not-so-simple explanation. Well, allow me to finally explain. All the while, trying to do justice to this amazing site in which I've got all the confidence in the world will succeed. is a website founded by MediaRich's Mandi Leman. The site is dedicated to freelancers and while it resembles the likes of Twitter, it, my family and friends, is so much more. In fact, to take it beyond the simple question of "What are you working on?", Blellow allows their members to join similar interest groups (I've already joined some photography, blogging and InDesign groups), you can post jobs (yes, mother, I know, I'm looking) and you can share ideas, get feedback and actually learn from professionals and experts in various genres, if you will.

Sounds neat, right? Currently they are testing their beta version, and if you are interested all you have to do is sign up here.
I'm headed to Austin this weekend to work their SxSWi booth - and I'm looking forward to immersing myself into a completely different crowd of people. It's going to be awesome!

Monday, March 09, 2009

5 items that have paid for themselves

One of my fancy-schmancy techy-gadgets got me thinking the other day. Thinking on things that I've paid for over the years that have, in my opinion, paid for themselves. Here's my list, in no particular order (except for #1).

5. Canon EOS Rebel XTi - My camera. My hobby. My obsession over the past few years. I bought it at the end of 2007 after returning from a trip from the Bahamas in which I had borrowed my sister-in-laws version and thought this is something I must have. I would of said, had you asked me four or five months ago, that the camera had already paid for itself after one year. We'd used it on countless trips, I'd even done a photo shoot for Meghan and Mark and thought, "it's nice to have a good camera." But now, right now, I would say that this camera has paid for itself ten-fold. Afterall, it's allowing me to earn some much needed $$ right now while I job hunt for a more full time opportunity. It's my saving grace if you will.

4. Apple iPhone - Labeled a 'toy' by my anti-smart phone father, my iPhone has been anything but. Considering, again, my current situation, my iPhone has been a lifesaver. Using it's GPS system on the mapping application, I've been able to successfully navigate from house to house. I can use the calendar app to keep appointments and while I NEVER thought I'd use the internet feature that much, it has been a lifesaver on too many accounts! And while, it can be a downfall at times (cue Jeff and Colleen at a restaurant playing on iPhones rather than talking to one another), it has staved off the boredom in more than one occasion (i.e. waiting on doctor at office visit, waiting in line, etc.). And I've only had this baby for a little over 2 months! score.

3. King-size mattress (and bed). Jeff and I talked and talked and talked (and then we talked some more) about upgrading to a king sized bed. He's 6'4" and we've both got back issues (so sad as we are both still in our 20's) and our queen just wasn't offering the support and the room for restful sleep. So in December 08, we upgraded. It has been awesome. While there's still some back issues (obviously not from the bed) they are less frequent and the cushioning on the new mattress offers great support. And a the little side bonus for moi? I finally have a footboard. Oh yes, this may not mean that much to you, but if you're husband was 6'4" and you slept on a queen size bed before, you'd understand. No room for footboards - they are the first to go!

2. Every single pair of shoes I own (almost). I used to be a shoe fiend when I was in junior high and high school. I loved them - boots, clogs, tennis shoes, sandals, whatever. These days, I'm too cheap to indulge in my old obsession. So I buy my basics. Boots. Flats. Flips. Done and done. In fact, the last two pairs of boots I've owned, I have literally worn out the soles. The pair before the ones I owned were only thrown away because the heel snapped off while I was walking through HEB. And I even tried to super glue it back together, which attributes to my cheapness laziness (fyi, it didn't work). My current pair have been so over worn that their sole has literally fallen off and is now exposing the nail. I can't seem to walk down a hard floor with out the not-so-subtle click, click, click of my boot heel that has, I must admit, become a bit embarrassing as of late. My flats are almost in the same condition, minus the nail. The soles have worn away so much that there are holes! Jeff keeps telling me to replace them. I think he's sick of me complaining. But it's what I do. "It's kind of my thing" (a common phrase heard around the Koenig household).

1. Jeff (my husband)
- Alright, alright, alright. I hear what you are saying? He's paid for himself already?! Well, monetary units aside, Jeff has been an awesome husband and has surprised me in so many ways. The man changes oil, is a super handy man, paints, gardens (at my request), can fix almost anything on a computer, cooks (cereal excluded), has fantastic opinions on matters (that he mostly shares only with those he's close to), has a silent intelligence (you know you are Jeff) and let's face it, anybody who puts up with my crazy rants is a keeper! Am I right? He's by far the best investment I've ever made.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Ruidoso 2009 - Day 5

Monday was the last day of our trip and was spent primarily in the car - oh joy!

Departure time was 7am (MST), but in usual Forsythe fashion, my father rushed/pushed us out of the house and we ended up leaving 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

I think we were all anxious to get home and weren't looking forward to the drive. So we pushed it (85 mph in west Texas) and ended up back in Pipe Creek by 4:30 (CST). Pretty good if I do say so myself.

I've uploaded all the pics to my Flickr site, so check it out!

Ruidoso 2009 - Day 4

I fell behind on my travel blogging this trip. I know, but trust me, if you'd of experienced the same lack of communication that we experienced this trip - you'd understand. The only cell service we got was if you leaned your body half way off the balcony which rested four flights off the ground. Me thinks not. Yes, we stole on to someone's wireless connection, but I had no energy to pull out all my stuff (laptop, cables, etc) and the previous entries were put up only because I mooched off of Mom's laptop when she had it up and running.

So there, my excuses in a nutshell. Let's get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?

On Sunday (Day 4) I had no plans. Jeff, Dad and J.R. were headed to the golf course and not another soul was up in the house. They pity-asked me if I'd like to tag along, and with a devious smile I agreed to go! Camera in tow of course. I was Jeff's caddy, though seriously under paid (like $0), but I got to drive the golf cart (why do we have so much fun driving those things?) and I made all three of them suffer through my onslaught of photography. I had a good time and I really tried to play around with my Manual mode that I learned at my recent photography class (post coming soon).

The course was beautiful. Apparently, as the boys explained, it was modeled after many European courses. Links style. Whatever that meant. Let's just say that there were a lot of mounds/hills on the course. Sometimes so high you couldn't see where you were shooting. But the views were awesome and you could see Sierra Blanca from the back nine.

After golf we headed back to the condo. Mom and Dad took off to the casino to try their luck, JR and Ashley headed into town to meet her Dad, his friend Kathleen and her sister, Karolyn, and her boyfriend Mark. Jeff and I opted to stay back and RELAX. I think I must of played at least 100 rounds of solitaire on this trip and I may have even developed some carpel tunnel from all the shuffling I did.

Later that night, Karolyn and Mark prepared the best dinner - fish and shrimp tacos with a fresh salad, saffron rice and fresh mango salsa. It was excellent! I made desert (cheesecake squares) but this high altitude cooking messed with my temperature/cooking time ratio and while the top was nice and brown the bottom was a tad on the doughy side. I have no clue how the locals cook/bake. I guess they are used to it!