Monday, June 9, 2014

To blog, or not to blog...

It's been four(ish) months since my last post. And it's been a long four(ish) months--both good and bad.

I'm not one of those people that can force things, and therefore am not one that can force blog posts. If I am feeling completely uninspired, or feeling completely blah, I just can't write. I don't even feel inclined to take photos, which is weird. And then I think, "well, I'm not even sure if people are reading this (besides my mother), so it's all good if I want to take a four-plus month hiatus..."

But that probably isn't the best attitude to have. I blog because I love to write, take photographs, and share my experiences. When I take a photo that I absolutely adore, or have a great day with a good friend, or when I read other people's blogs, I get that "I want to blog!" itch. So here I am. With a quick four(ish) month re-cap:

  • A "bucket list" item checked off: I went platinum blonde for a couple of months, which was fun, but holy maintenance (and money). It was cool while it lasted.
  


  • I had a really cool photo gig for the new Dodger's Stadium restaurants (and I got to sample pretty much everything I photographed). It was actually my first time at the stadium, too!


  • Since we are on the food topic, I have had a recent obsession with pancakes. No clue where it is coming from (and no, I'm not pregnant). I found the "only pancake recipe you'll ever need," via Huffington Post.


  • My good friend in LA had her second baby (most of my friends with children are back East), and I was able to grab some newborn shots! I really love newborn photography, and I wish more of my friends out this way would pop out some babies. Just sayin'.
 ^^I'm not sure what it is about baby feet...^^
^^Or two sets of little feet...^^


  • I took a weekend trip to Seattle with the boy.

^^Can you believe this is an iPhone shot?^^




 ^^This is probably my favorite cityscape shot that I've ever taken.^^
^^And this is a close runner-up.^^

  • My little guy, Ziggy, has epilepsy, which fortunately has been under control for the last 2 months now. His (twice daily) medicine has been so helpful, and I pray it will stay that way. It's been a pretty rough time, to be honest.

  • My godson, Julian, turned one! Where on Earth does the time go.

  • And my sister, Maggie, graduated high school this past weekend! I can't deal. I will forever see her as my little baby sister, with curly red hair, big blue eyes and glasses, following me around wherever I went.  I am just so proud of her.

Finally, I reupholstered my couch, and I can't wait to keep on decorating my space to make it more "me." I love interior design, and really want to focus more on it. More photos--and maybe blogs--to come on this topic ;)

(Feels good to be back!)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII.


This past Sunday was Superbowl Sunday. I was already a bit uninterested in the game since the Patriots weren't playing, but I have a slight embarrassing confession: I was kind of interested in the Broncos winning (despite them beating the Patriots), because I became fans of Eric Decker and Jessie James from watching their reality show. (I know, embarrassing.) For those of you who watched the game, or some of it before turning the channel, it wasn't really a great game to watch. The upside, however (at least in my situation), was the food! I hadn't really done a whole Sunday football feast before, but since I was having a couple of people over, I figured go all out and bring a restaurant/bar to my own apartment.

I made a lot of food. Probably too much, but hey, it was worth it and well-received. I made soft pretzel bites--cinnamon and sugar and regular--and made a Gouda cheese dipping sauce for the regular ones. Speaking of cheese, I made football-shaped brownies, and bought icing for the football laces. (I had to do something football related.) I also made buffalo chicken sliders with ranch dressing, and made turkey meatball sliders with mozzarella and basil (not pictured). The surprising hit of the night was buffalo cauliflower bites, which I had wanted to try for a while. The boys loved them! And finally, I busted out my fryer to make boneless buffalo chicken wings, too. They were perfection. So, the game aside, my night was a success. (Sorry, Broncos.)

(See below for recipes!)



Buffalo cauliflower bites
Buffalo chicken sliders *(I can't find the exact recipe I used, but they're all pretty similar.)
Boneless Buffalo chicken wings
Soft pretzel bites

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Southern (birthday) feast.


In the beginning of January, this guy (above) had a birthday. I didn't know what to do, or what to possibly get him, and as always I wanted to do something different. I'm not sure if at this point it's a pride thing to want to be super cool and distinguished with things I create/host/do/buy/etc., but it can definitely add to the pressure.

I was reading my morning blogs one day and came across Kitchen Surfing, a cool website that lets you find a personal chef for any occasion you could think of. And the kicker is, it's affordable! You could have a personal cooking lesson, a girl's night in with cocktails, or host a big dinner party. When I first came across the website, the service was available in New York City but had yet to launch in LA, which was a bit of a bummer. Well, wouldn't you know that shortly thereafter, I received an email notifying me that Kitchen Surfing was up and running in Los Angeles! I knew right then that I would host a dinner for Joe's 27th birthday.

In effort to keep the dinner a surprise, I asked my friend Carli if she would mind letting me use her home to host the dinner. (I knew Joe wouldn't think we'd be going there for his birthday celebration.) She said yes (love her!), and from there, I went into full-blown planning mode. I wanted a Southern feast, with chicken and waffles, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, smothered potatoes, biscuits, pecan pie and strawberry shortcake. And I decided to create a menu for each place setting, detailing all of these menu items. (I'm still obsessed with the turnout.)

Everything came together so well, and it was exactly how I'd envisioned it. And the best part was that Joe was totally surprised. When we first walked into Carli's house, he was pretty confused as to why his roommates were there. It was cute.

^^The menu! Oh, I totally Googled how to fold a napkin like this.
 ^^(I tried to change the color temperature and brighten it a bit, so you can see it better.)


^^Cell phone shot! I thought it was funny how we coordinated. Not on purpose.

 ^^I loved the glass jars filled with lemon and limes. And the vintage mason jars were perfect, adding a fun pop of color.






^^Gifts, from the lovely Miss Nadia.


*For the blog's sake, happy belated, my love.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Published.

I had such a busy week last week, and I loved it. It was a good, mind-occupying busy that left me feeling quite productive (and quite tired). I didn't blog because of being busy, but also because I wanted to blog about something in particular and I had to wait and see if it all was going to work out. And it did! (Yay!)

A friend of mine asked me if I'd be interested in taking some photos of a few food items that would be on the 2014 Grammy's menu. The photos would accompany a "what the stars will eat" story that would run on E! Online, so needless to say I was pretty excited about the opportunity.

It was a challenge though, to be honest, to take food photos; I'm used to photographing people. You can catch a candid of a person which creates a brilliant photo--and you can't do that with food. You also need to stage the scene. The lighting needs to be impeccable. And for all of these reasons, I was nervous for the turnout. I think nerves can prove to be a good thing though, because it emphasizes how much you care about what you're doing, so you put in that much more effort.  Here's the final product, below, and click here for the story on E!

Cedar Plank Salmon (Serves 12) 
Ingredients:
4 pounds Atlantic wild salmon
6 oz. honey
6 oz. whole grain mustard
6 oz. fresh thyme
Cedar plank boards (a 6" x 14" will hold apx. two salmon fillets) 
Directions:
Whisk honey and whole grain mustard in a bowl. Place salmon in a pan and brush on honey-mustard mixture. Place 2 ounces of fresh thyme directly on salmon. Marinate salmon for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Char cedar planks with a blow torch before using. Place remaining thyme sprigs on the base of the board and place salmon on board. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve salmon on cedar board. Can be served hot or room temperature. 
Grammy Old Fashioned
Ingredients:
2 oz. Hudson Manhattan Rye
1 sugar cube
2 to 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Strip of candied bacon
Maraschino cherries 
Directions:
Mix bitters and sugar cube in an old-fashioned glass. Muddle sugar and bitters into a paste using a muddler or back side of a spoon. Drop in cherries, pour in bourbon, fill with ice and stir. Garnish with bacon strip. 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Simple budget solution 1: Make coffee from home.



I have been working on being more financially responsible for a while now, but for some reason there is always something that gets in the way; new shoes, clothes, dining out, and traveling always seem to take precedent over building my savings account. (Not smart.) My friend Cara suggested I use mint.com for streamlining my budget, and to say I am obsessed just puts it mildly. I was a bit skeptical at first, since I hadn't heard about it before and I wasn't sure about importing all of my personal information--but seriously, it whipped me into shape. And more importantly, it motivated me. I was pretty much shamed, to be honest, when all of my spending was presented and neatly categorized into pie charts. I mean, hello ridiculous shopping habits! That was fun while it lasted.

This brings me to simple budget solutions I will be implementing moving forward, which I will try and log here. Up first is coffee. Why spend over $100.00 on buying coffee (well, iced caramel lattes or macchiatos), when there is a way to make it from home? After a bit of research, I found a $40.00 solution to my over $100.00 per month, $1200.00 plus per year problem: a plain 'ol Mr. Coffee home drip coffee maker. Sure, I'll need to buy ground coffee, but spending $10.00-$20.00 per month (maybe more, with the bf drinking some too...I'll have a better grasp next month after testing this out) sounds much better than spending $100.00. And hey, I bet I'll learn to make a pretty good iced coffee!