Farmers Market Beauty

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The beauty of the farmers market is spectacular! Not too many words need to written about these photos. Just enjoy!

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Looking back after 9 Years of Marriage

Nine years ago yesterday I married my darling-love-of-my-life Michael. You know, its funny to look back on that day because I remember being happy and in love but I was also young and making a huge life decision.  I was crossing my fingers I was making the right choice.  Its wasn’t that I didn’t know what I was doing, it was just that I had never been married before and didn’t know what to expect.  I made my decision based on Michael’s character and my hunch that he was going to turn out to be an A+ husband. But we were really young and inexperienced in life and so we had nothing to go off of except for faith and trust. I was 22 and Michael was 25 and we were just finishing up college at the time. Michael had spent 4 years in the Navy and when we met he was 6 month out of the Navy and 6 months into his college education at Brooks Institute of Photography. So here I was, a 22 year old making a huge life decision and even though I was madly in love with Michael I still felt a little bit of what I’d imagine people feel when they jump out of the airplane when skydiving. Like, “This is fun, scary and I hope it works out!”

So now nine years later its unbelievable to me that the decision that I made to marry Michael has turned into not only a successful marriage but a truly beautiful life beyond anything I could have ever imagined. God and my subconscious self knew way better than I did what I really needed in a life partner. I didn’t realize that I was attracted to Michael because he was a dreamer and a doer. He has the attitude that nothing in life will ever beat him and he had big goals for himself. I need that. I’m a big time dreamer too and I absolutely need to be with someone that fuels that in me. I didn’t realize that I needed someone that was a super romantic. Someone that knew the importance of taking time out to be together, to spoil each other with love notes, gifts and flowers. Someone that made ME a priority and someone that I could make as MY top priority. I didn’t realize that I needed someone that has the same interests as me and is creative and interesting to talk to. We seriously have the longest conversations about the silliest things sometimes (yesterday it was in great detail on the new Superman movie…) and never get bored with each other. I had no clue whatsoever that Michael would be the most attentive, excited and dedicated father. Sooooo attractive! And most importantly, I didn’t realize that Michael’s integrity, quest for good and perfect intentions would result in only good things. I didn’t realize the lottery ticket I was sitting on.

What I did realize at the time was that Michael had a heart of gold. I had someone that when he made a mistake he would fix it and not do it again. I had someone that had motivation and the ability to accomplish things. And the most important thing, I had a man that I loved. This is what formulated my decision and I had a good idea that I was right but only time would tell. Over the years I’ve been slowly scratching off that lottery ticket and only finding that perfect numbers beneath.

In nine years we have accomplished so much together. We both graduated college, built a successful business, had a beautiful perfect baby girl and have grown closer together than ever before.

So happy 9th anniversary to my perfect man in the world. You are perfect for me and as you always say, “We were made from the same batch.” I love you darling!

My Brother-in-Law’s “Man Date” that made it on the Radio

To try to even describe how fitting it is for my goofy, talented, energetic and charismatic brother-in-law to end up being the topic of a radio show is beyond my capabilities. Hank is a man all his own. I feel bad for anyone who hasn’t met him because its an experience that one could never recreate in life.  Hank is a rare character whose personality  rivals that of Mrs Doubtfire and Harry Carey. Hank was the host of a kids show called, “Imagine Island” which gives you an idea of his exuberance…(see photo below)

So when he happened to become the topic of conversation on the radio it was of no surprise to me whatsoever.  Hank is currently working at Cheesecake Factory as he is finishes his credentials to teach theatre. Evidently one night he was the server for a radio host named Gavin who also has similar interests and they  hit it off so much that they planned a “man date.” The whole thing was talked about on the radio and its pretty HILARIOUS. Even if you don’t know Hank personally this whole scenario is hysterical due to the topics it brought up such as: 1. What do you wear on a man-date? 2. Who pays? 3. Should I sit next to another dude in a theatre if I’m not gay? etc. Listen and enjoy!

This first clip is about their first “meeting” and the planning of their date:

Planning a Date with Hank

This clip is the “after-story” of their date:

How the Date with Hank Went

Hank + Gavin Forever.

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(this is Gavin BTW…)

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(Hank in the “Imagine Island” poster)

Caprese Panzanella Salad

You know when you’re eating dinner and the roll that is sitting on the side of your plate accidentally get’s a little sauce on it from your salad or entree and you take a bite and its like, “yum!?” Well, that’s why this salad rocks. Because we are putting bread in the salad on PURPOSE and its amazing. A succulent bite of crunchy ciabatta that has been soaking up a tangy balsamic dressing is quite delicious. And add some basil, tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella and you are in heaven. Yes, heaven. I love this salad and hope you do too!

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Panzanella Caprese Salad

1 small ciabatta loaf cut into 1 inch cubes (about 3 cups)

olive oil

salt/pepper

½ red onion sliced

8 oz buffalo mozzarella (pearl size if possible)

½ cup basil julienned

3 tomatoes diced large

Dressing:

¾  cup olive oil

1/8   cup balsamic vinegar

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

In a large mixing bowl drizzle some olive oil over ciabatta bread and toss. Season with salt and pepper. On a baking sheet spread out bread and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until bread is crispy. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl mix together olive and balsamic vinegar and salt/pepper.

Combine toasted ciabatta, red onion, buffalo mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic mixture over the top and toss. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate to let the dressing soak up in the bread for an hour. Serve and enjoy!

Is it weird that on the day after Father’s Day I’m looking to buy a BBQ for MYSELF?

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My husband LOVES barbecue, but I am the one that loves TO barbecue. I cook it, he eats it. And recently my BBQ died. It just won’t work anymore. This thing has more miles on it than an ox during the pioneer days. Seriously, I ran this thing into the ground. Even when one of the burners collapsed on itself because the metal was so corroded, I STILL turned that baby on a grilled with huge flames licking at my meat. Well, that’s all over now and its time to say goodbye and get a new one. I have been eyeballing the sample grills at Ace Hardware for awhile now. Oh how clean and sleek they looked compared to my old Jalopy! The thought of a brand new grill is making me so excited its like Christmas has come early. What should I get? What is the best? I spend a lot of time with my grill so I need a good companion that will be around for awhile. I haven’t made a final decision yet so any advice is welcome. Tell me your thoughts grill-lovers!

Quitting Diet Coke. Update

So, as many of you know…I quit diet coke. After an “on again off again” relationship for over a decade I decided to quit. What was the final straw? Well, to be honest it came from a bartender. Go figure. I was photographing a wedding at the Montecito Country Club and asked for a glass of water. My assistant was chewing gum and the bartender noticed it and started on a rant about the aspartame that was in her gum. (To be honest I was relieved I ask for water since I usually ask for diet coke. Phew!) Evidently there is only one brand of gum that uses real sugar nowadays and the rest are sugar free and full of artificial sweeteners. He went on to say that aspartame is a mixture of ecoli and toxic waste that causes diabetes, makes you fat and myriad of other problems. This guy was pretty weird and I found it ironic that he was so passionate about this subject as he freely supplied all the wedding goers with liver killing booze. Anyway, after his long and bizarre rant it got me thinking. Is a 2 liter bottle diet coke a day (yes that’s what I was drinking) really worth it? What if everything he said turned out to be true. One of my friends was recommended by her doctor to drink diet soda during pregnancy because she had gestational diabetes and couldn’t eat real sugar. I didn’t drink diet soda AT ALL during pregnancy because my  brother had heard on good authority in one of his UCLA science classes that it could cause birth defects.  Yet doctors out there are prescribing it to pregnant women and I would assume they’ve heard the theories. Or have they? Well, let’s just say for arguments case that diet coke is totally fine and therefore my diet coke drinking Grandpa’s lived into their 90’s with no problems. The hard truth is that drinking diet coke did absolutely make me crave sweets and cause me to eat more. It did. And even though I’ve been counting calories for over a year now and have been losing weight slowly but surely, I don’t think drinking diet coke was making the process any faster. Actually, it wasn’t. I’ve been off the stuff for two weeks and am definitely losing weight more quickly than I was. My husband keeps exclaiming, “You look so skinny!” all the time. It feels good. And he deserves some of the credit as he shared the brunt of it by enduring my clawing at the ceiling moments. I’m sure he wanted to hook me up to a diet coke IV there a few times when I was especially “delightful” to deal with. So the end of the story is that diet coke MAY cause health problems but it most certainly DOES make it hard to lose weight. Done.

In conclusion, I still miss the idea of diet coke. I miss a refreshing bubbly drink that is calorie free and “guilt free” too. I miss a little caffeine boost when I need it and just a little reward for any reason I come up with. But my pants feeling loose and my face is emerging from the fat which is nice too. I think of the line,  “There you are Peter!” from the movie “Hook” every time I see myself in the mirror.  Like I mentioned in my previous post I’ll still drink soda, just not diet. The other night I  really needed to relax and got a mexican coke and a candy bar from the corner store to take the edge off . I said to my husband, “Is it a good thing or a bad thing that this is as wild as I get?” Seriously boring. But sometimes its good to not make life TOO exciting either if you know what I mean.

Roasted Corn, Heirloom Tomato and Pesto Salad

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This salad is a perfect quick side to almost any main course. This is a great salad to bring to a potluck, BBQ or just to eat on its own. This pesto recipe has both basil and cilantro which I think really mellows out the basil and makes its a well rounded option. One of my wedding clients gave me the idea and I wouldn’t make regular pesto again! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 ears of roasted corn cut off the cob

1 heirloom tomato diced

Pesto Recipe:

1 cup packed basil leaves

1 cup packed cilantro leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoles)

1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese

2/3 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

In a food processor pulse garlic cloves until finely minced. Add basil, cilantro, olive oil and pine nuts. Pulse until smooth. Salt & pepper to taste.

In a separate bowl mix together the corn and heirloom tomato. Stir in pesto a tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency. If there is leftover pesto you can freeze it for another use. Enjoy!

Breaking up with Diet Coke. Take 461. (Warning: Snarky Rant Ahead)

Can I just say that I’m completely annoyed with all the things that apparently kill you in the world!? Diet coke is the one that I’m attempting to distance myself from, but seriously, does ANYTHING not kill you eventually? I mean if you’re a vegetarian you’re gonna die from protein deficiency and diabetes from eating too many carbs. If you eat meat your gonna die from a heart attack. If you go in the sun you’ll get skin cancer but if you don’t then you’ll have a vitamin D deficiency. Your body needs sugar! Actually you’ll die from sugar! Are you eating too much salt? Oh no, wait! If you don’t have salt in your diet you’ll DIE. Some doctors recommend drinking diet soda to eliminate all the sugar that is causing obesity. Oh wait, no. Don’t drink diet soda because its made from e-coli mixed with toxic waste that some mustache twisting corporate jerk off decided to market as a joke. You will get diabetes drinking diet coke anyway and will grow a second head. Food combine! No, that doesn’t work just count your calories. Oh no no no, don’t you know you have to find out your blood type in order to lose weight? Don’t watch TV or you’ll get ADD. Wait, TV has so much information that if you’re out of the loop you’ll be like one of those weird home-school kids from the backwoods of Arkansas. Video games will make you a crazy lunatic that will inevitably make you go gun down your coworkers at the local post office. But wait, actually its been proven that video games are much like crossword puzzles and keep your brain sharp.

Okay, end rant. I’m just mad that I’m quitting diet coke (again) because its like my best frenemy. Nothing in the world is free, but I definitely felt like diet coke was my one free thing. The one little indulgence that I wouldn’t have to pay for later at my waistline. But aparently that is incorrect and not only will I die of diabetes, cancer and a myriad of other complications but more importantly it is actually making me fat. Yes fat. I have worked freaking hard to get back within 5 pounds of my pre pregnancy weight and am bound and determined to not stop. AND I want to work off the wedding pounds that I gained over the years and didn’t bother to lose before the baby. So, I won’t be happy until all the fat is shed and if that means no diet coke then so be it.

Now, this might sound really hypocritical but I’m only giving up diet soda NOT regular soda. Whaaaaat? Here’s the thing. If I drink regular soda I drink dramatically less than when I drink diet. Like 5x’s less. So this is my weening period and drinking a little regular coke during the day is taking the edge off.  I’m also drinking sparkling water to give myself some kind of substitute. It helps but is so not as good.

Okay, I sound like the whiniest person on the face of the planet and I’m sure I am. But this is just how I feel right now. I thought maybe I would drink diet coke secretly (like those closet smokers) but realized that no one cares that I drink it so big whoop. And I’m the only one I’m hurting. So hopefully I can focus on looking hot and fabulous and making that the priority when I get a mid afternoon headache and a craving for a little caffeine boost. Those commerical with Taylor Swift drinking diet coke are so hard to resist though! I mean she is so cute and I feel like, “Oh, Taylor Swift is drinking diet coke and she hasn’t grown a second head from it, so I should be fine!” Taylor, you are beautiful and I’m not mad at you. You probably got paid an obscene amount of money to endorse diet coke.  Beyonce on the other hand did a pepsi/diet pepsi commercial that in no way makes me want to drink it. Sorry Beyonce. Taylor won. (And Coke is waaaay better anyway…)

Alright so my last question: Is there a community support group for diet coke drinkers? It should be called DCA (Diet Coke Anonymous). If there isn’t then I’ll host it at my place. Who wants to come?