Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kiwi Orange Jam

Fanny gave me a jar of homemade kiwi orange jam. She also decorated it adding her own personal touches. Ain't it cute?

Thanks, Fanny!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ba Ba... Phhhhhhttt.

This baby is starting to make words with her lips. 

Baby : "Ba ba.........". 

"Did she just say 'ba ba'??", I asked her mom. 

Her mom : "Yah, but she doesn't know what it means. She probably just likes the sound. Did she blow raspberries afterwards?".

Baby : "Ba ba...... pphhhhhttt." 

Me : "Hahaha. Everytime?".

Baby : "Ba ba.... pphhhhhhttttttt." 

So friggin' cute.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Easy Eats

I am a one dish / one pot kind of gal. A set-it-and-forget-it kind of gal. I like simple, easy, healthy and delicious. Who's a better person to adapt a repetoire of cooking recipes from than a busy mother who has no time? Jen always gives me the best dinner ideas and everything that I've tried from what she's recommended has turned out nothing other than amazing. Here is another one that she sent - Nigella Lawson's Slow Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken. So easy. So good. I also took her substitution suggestion and subbed out the white wine and replaced it with apple juice. (Not because I don't like my booze but because I wanted the one-stop shop at the grocery store and I wasn't going to dive into my booze collection for cooking). Oh, and I dumped in some potatoes too. As a side dish, I roasted some brussel sprouts with slivered almonds. Crunchy and crispy on the outside; soft on the inside. A perfect dinner duo.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Beginner's Learning Experience

Thanks to a friend's referral, I got to attend a 6-year-old's birthday party as a "photographer". I didn't know the parents and didn't know the child. Being called "photographer" a few times that day, I still cringe a little at that name. I still think I have a lot to learn about photography, and for some reason, am doing it at snail pace.   So I still don't think I'm ready to have such a title. 

It definitely isn't all easy. Not the first or first dozen times anyway. What I did love most about photography was being able to blend into the background, do my own thing, capture candid shots, and hopefully save a few precious moments in a couple snapshots. What I learned though is... stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way to learn. Not hiding behind the scene.

Try taking photos of children who are packed full of energy and cannot stay put in one position for very long. It's pretty challenging. I was chasing down kids and trying to get up close. Also try asking a child who doesn't know you at all if you could just get one quick shot of them looking at the camera. Almost impossible. But I pushed to get that one shot. I only wanted one. For memory sake. On this special 6th birthday. 

Then the family did cake cutting together. Shall I get the entire family looking at the camera as a group shot? Or should I go candid? I decided to stick with the latter. Partly due to my beginner's shyness. Partly due to the bombardment of other family members and friends with their cameras, all shouting "Over here! Look over here!". And as the cake-cutting segment ended, I made myself a mental note thinking, "You probably should have done a posed family photo. Gosh darnit." Controlling the scene is a whole lot harder than it seems. 

In the end, it was a whole lot of fun. I probably did a bit too much thinking. The lighting. The birthday girls. The parents. Get the details. Get that angle. Get that shot. Don't forget the family. Oiy.... And so a bit of photography, (composition, art, finding the right moments, etc) went out the window. I was too immersed in everything else. A bit overwhelming. Just inside my head. 

When I finally went to edit, I was happy with the candid family cake-cutting shots. The real expressions. The real interactions between the family. Those fake "look at each other and laugh" kind of photos... I got it naturally. A true documentation of them enjoying this very moment. So maybe I shouldn't kill myself over missing a posed family photo.

In the end, I was able to hand over 100 photos. And there are probably 1001 things I'd like to change about them. I learned a great deal. About lighting. About what to look for. About how I would do things differently for myself if there was a next time. But I think greatest of all, not to be so harsh on myself. They certainly weren't perfect. And it's no secret that I'm not the greatest photographer I can be yet. And few years down the road, I can guarantee that I'd look back on some of my photos and think, "What the heck was I doing?!". But isn't that the best part? Because then you would know that you've evolved. And learned. And grew. 

The parents love the photos. I accomplished what was most important of all. To give a little piece of memory. Sometimes, you just gotta remember... that's all that matters.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Birthday Party

I had the privilege of shooting a kid's 6th birthday a couple days ago, and here are some details. It was a joint birthday party for two girls. Without the permission of the parents, there will be no photos posted of the kids. But trust me, there were kids. 70+ of them. There were also three photo booths, a pin-making station, a jungle gym, and a performer. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Green Monster

There are so many different variations to blend a smoothie, but after watching several YouTube vlogs and random videos on people packing in more veggies and fruits for their vitamins and minerals by blending, I thought I'd give it a try too. I've done many fruit smoothies before with fruit and yogurt, fruit and milk, etc... but never tried the vegetables. 

I decided to go simple on the first try. (Some people add herbs and different kind of greens). I would have added a lemon if I had some but just ran out. 

As a tip I've heard over and over again, always blend your greens first with water so you don't clog the blender. And then add in the fruits. 

This one was without the blueberries just for photo sake. The bright green is gorgeous!

Things I learned : 

.. Spinach, when blended, tastes like not much at all. I tried drinking it straight so I can say it doesn't have much flavour. This makes it great for smoothies because then it doesn't change the flavours much of a fruit smoothie.

.. Blueberries change the colour of any green smoothie to a muddy brown. Doesn't look great but still tastes amazing. 

.. I've always sworn by my magic bullet. It blended well. Turned my spinach into a fine liquid. Pulverized my frozen mangoes. And I love how very handy and small it is (rather than lugging a large blender to the kitchen counter or leaving one sitting there). However, with my current obsession with blending, I've totally overworked my bullet, and burnt out the motor. So, maybe not the most long-lasting thing ever, but it's been a few years. Next, I'm looking into getting the Ninja. Consumer Reports has claimed it to be just as powerful as the Vitamix and Blendtec just missing their heating function. For a fraction of their cost (and size), that may be my next blender. (Although do think it's one of the ugliest). 

.. These smoothies are deliciouussss! And refreshing. And with no extra sugar added... just plain fruit and veggies... it's good for you. I'm obsessed.

Once I finished blending my first drink, I exclaimed, "Ooooh, look at that green monster!". And since then, I've been calling it the Green Monster every time I have one (even though it's not green every time). The name has stuck.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sarah @ 8 Months

(Geek Talk : As I'm trying to be more aware of light when taking a photo, a batch of sunlight on Sarah's head was not exactly what I was going for. Nor was I sure about that red bar from her play mat going across her chest. But I had no where to move to but to take the photo from exactly that spot and position because Jen's dog, Barney, wouldn't let me have it. He jumped, pounced and nipped as if to say, "Look at ME! Look at ME! Forget about the BABY!". And if I moved, I might just accidently step on him! But I'm glad I captured her cute little, button face with a light in her eyes.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Winter Grapefruit Tea

Peach tea from Silk Road, juice from a grapefruit and honey. Warm, cozy, and soothing for colder winter nights like the ones we are having. May also be beneficial if you had a sore throat or cold. At least a dose of vitamin C.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wendy's 32nd

Party time!

Wendy (or was it Cliff?) put together a pretty good jalapeno pepper appy. A good mixture of salty (from the bacon), creamy (from the cheese), and heat (from the pepper). 

Interesting Walnut on top of goat cheese and apricot. I'm sure it's yummy if you actually like goat cheese (unlike moi). 

Hmm, Wendy set her bedroom ambiance a little early. (Guests were still over, Wendy!) She burnt her candles purposely to cast these specific shadows on her wall.

Wendy attempting to open her bottle of champagne...

... which left some of us scared and hiding.

Ahh, the champagne bottle was successfully opened and nobody was hurt.

We added a cassis syrup to it which made it extra tasty and girly pretty.

Before we drink...

... we gotta toast!

Present-opening time!

The serving platter I got Wendy. She loves all things wood.

Not sure what was happening in the next series of photos but Celia got her some great bathroom necessities.

You'd think they had just won the lottery. But no, Karen just wrote Wendy a cheque for her friendship. ( In reality, a Ming Wo gift certificate and a house plant).

Cathy gave her some more wood. So much wood! Think that means Wendy had a splendid 32nd!

(Not everyone at the party were pictured. But I can vouch that Wendy has more friends than shown.)