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!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"There is only now."

Lisbon, Portugal (Fall 2013)

It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” - Hugh Laurie

I previously mentioned how it's one of those times in life where I'm thinking about any and everything. Maybe overthinking any and everything. I'm thinking about the future, and where I want to be geographically and financially. Who knows where that is. I've been budgeting like crazy, thinking about buying a home one day, and thinking about the new car that I'll need soon, and vacations I want to take, and fiscal goals I want to hit before having a family...all that jazz. I've been really on top of it, and it's felt pretty good! And then I came across this quote (above) on Instagram earlier today, which completely made me rethink everything I had been focusing so hard on all month. Funny how that works...

I'll default to my normal "balance is key" rule here and say that both being at least a little prepared and living in the "now" is a good idea. You don't want to set yourself up to fail. But there is plenty of truth in Laurie's statement: there is only now. Which really gets you thinking, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cascais, Portugal.


One of my favorite Portugal moments was going to the adorable beach town of Cascais. The brightly colored buildings and pretty beaches were refreshing to see after a long bus ride from Sintra (which I fell asleep during). We crammed in a lot of sightseeing on this particular day, and I was so exhausted by the time we got back to our hotel--but it really was such a good day that being tired didn't matter. The bf kept up with tradition and collected sand from the beach (not sure if I had mentioned that prior, that he collected sand from each beach visited), and I continued on my photo-happy gig, photographing everything (natch). I was super excited to find a little photo booth too, where we took photos with an orange frame. And by orange, I don't mean the color; the photos were framed with literal oranges, and the phrase "freshly squeezed!" I couldn't have made that up had I tried...









^^I love finding graffiti art wherever I am. And I loved this.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

1/52

Weekly portrait, once a week, in 2014.

This 52 Weeks project from another one of my favorite blogs inspired me to do my own. I enjoy a good challenge, particularly a good photo challenge, so we shall see how this turns out! I think it will be kind of cool to see how each photo will capture how I am thinking or feeling that particular week--if I am able to grasp a decent sense of self portrait photography. I'm really looking forward to it.  (And looking forward to making the bf do it, too.)

This week, this photo (above) actually did the job (IMHO). It's been an interesting few weeks, where I have a million thoughts churning through my head at any given time. I can't stop thinking about traveling, and flirting with ideas as to where I will go--or possibly move to--next. And the same goes for work: what do I want to really do with my life? I wouldn't go as far to say it's a mid-life crisis or anything like that, but it's kind of a challenging time, personally. But like I mentioned earlier,  I don't mind a good challenge.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Get a divorce.


From your phone.

I loved this article for so many different reasons. I'm a send-a-letter-via-snail-mail kinda gal. I like to pick up the phone versus send a text--but I send probably a hundred texts a day, too. I remember when caller ID was the it thing (fourth grade!). Soon after, dial-up AOL was brag-worthy. Then came pagers (I was never allowed to own one), and then two-ways, and then cell phones. Then flip phone cell phones. With color backgrounds. (I was pretty pumped when I got the Motorola colored flip phone, by the way.) And now, in 2014, we have smart phones which are essentially computers. Thinking back to all of that makes me feel old. But anyway.

There are so many great things about technology, and the many advances in technology that will surely come. I live 3,000 miles away from my home state, and it's great to be able to communicate so easily with friends and family back there. Seeing photos of my godchildren and siblings grow helps when being so far. And I mean, my goddaughter was FaceTiming me from her iPad at 6 years old! On her own!

But all of that aside, let's be honest: cell phones are distracting. After I read this article, I grabbed a quick lunch, and noticed everyone who was waiting for their order was on their phone. Myself included, ugh. I wondered if anyone would strike a conversation with me, had we not had our phones. (Or vice versa.) And it's so easy to have a girl's night out, or a date night, where you whip out your phone to take a photo, which promptly gets posted to Instagram or Facebook. Heck, I will even be sitting on the couch watching TV, with my phone in my hand, reading celebrity gossip or whatever. While my boyfriend is next to me.

While writing this, I am becoming even more aware of how disconnected I can be, at times and places were I totally should not be. My friends and boyfriend deserve my full attention when I am with them. I need to be entirely present to my situations when I am in them. And my phone is not allowing me to do so. So that said, I will be divorcing my phone, in order to "bring my phone back to being an accessory, and not a priority."

I'm sure it'll be a good riddance.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year's Day, 2014.

Before you get excited, I want to say this is not my engagement. But I was super happy to be involved in it! The bf's roommate was planning to propose to his girlfriend, and a few things got in his way and prevented him from doing it on the planned day/s (flight delays, and things of the like), which is a bummer. But then I got to suggest a proposal at my favorite downtown restaurant, because I knew they would create something beautiful and memorable. And they totally delivered. (I mean, how gorgeous?!)

I managed to sneak both my camera and the ring into the restaurant, and was able to grab some photos of the dessert plate while in progress, and the engagement itself :) Congratulations, Audrey and Kyle!