Archive | December, 2011

A traveling sunrise

29 Dec

Well yesterday was a day full of travel for me and it started with one of the most amazing sunrises from San Francisco International Airport I have ever seen.  Lucky for me, I had a window seat.  The colors and shapes of the sun and clouds were incredible, these pictures can’t even do half the justice!

Many more photos from my trip to come :-)!

❤ B

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Add one more to the list

28 Dec

I told myself no more network sites.  The end.  Who am I kidding though?  You can’t deny something you like and I found a lot of like in Pinterest.  I was very resistant to it just because I didn’t need something else to look at or kill time with but I really find a lot of inspiration from the photos on there and enjoy seeing other people’s talents.  So I leave you with some of my absolute favorites so far ❤

I absolutely love this.

Adore this photo.

My pinterest link here.  Share with me your boards if you are on Pinterest as well!

Divorce doesn’t always suck

27 Dec

I know some of you may read this and think that I am crazy.  And no, I have never been divorced but my parents did when I was in kindergarten/first grade.  A lot of people don’t believe in divorce and I’m not saying to proactively get a divorce because your outcome may not come out like mine but without divorce in my family I would have never been blessed with my amazing step parents and their families.

You see, my parents both lost their parents either before I was born or when I was an infant so I really never had grandparents and my Aunt and Uncle both lived across the country.  We made trips to go see them and are close with them but we are extremely lucky if we get to see them once a year.  I don’t ever remember my parents fighting but I also don’t remember them together.  It was as simple as that.  I have great memories with my mom as a child and great memories with my dad.  Both great parents they just didn’t really work as a team.

After their split, they had dated a few people to my brother and my disliking.  That wasn’t the best but when my mom found my stepdad, Darrin, and my dad found my stepmom, Vicki, we knew that these were the perfect additions to all of our lives.  They really contribute so much love and happiness to our family and I’ve always considered them family and not “step parents” per se.  It’s great also because my entire family gets along!  We all go to big events together like my brother’s wedding and his award ceremony and anything that we can all share.  Because of this, every Christmas is amazing getting to see everyone in our growing family 🙂

We always go to my dad and Vicki’s for Christmas Eve and this year we decided to go to the gun range for some non-traditional fun.

The Livermore Gun Club.

You have to sit in these short stations.  I’d never seen a range like this before.  Whenever I’ve gone shooting, it was skeet where you can stand.

My brother is an excellent marksman from his military training.

My dad and brother setting up our target frame.

My dad.

Vicki trying to squat down to see the target since the opening of the station is pretty short.

Me and my dad 🙂

Me shooting.  This shotgun was no joke.  I’ve shot 12 gauges before but we were shooting slugs and it had much more of a kick than I was used to.

My dad and Vicki ❤

My brother and my dad.

Of course it turned into some sort of contest at which I have to say my brother and dad draw.  They were both great shots but our target was so far it was hard to tell who hit what.  We then headed home for some soup and a lighter lunch to hold us over until we went over to Nan’s (Vicki’s mom).

We all have a big dinner and then gather around to exchange gifts and catch up on life.  This is all “inherited” family through Vicki and I feel so lucky to say that now because of her and Darrin (my stepdad), I have a HUGE family!

My dad and I looking at his new ornament.  We get a new ornament every year and I can’t wait to display all my ornaments some day when I can have a large tree of my own!

My brother and Liz got to come home and be silly for a few days.  It was beyond nice to see them since they are stationed in Texas at the moment.

Nan’s Christmas tree.

Christmas breakfast at my dad and Vicki’s… This was an AMAZING french toast casserole!

Vicki could be the next Martha Stewart.

After breakfast, we head over to my mom and Darrin’s for gift exchanging and brunch.

We all sit by the tree and exchange our presents.  We also wad up our wrapping paper scraps and see who can make it in the fireplace from the farthest haha.  This year, Liz was the winner!

My brother’s new prized possession?  A remote control helicopter that he was trying to fly over the cat…

My Christmas was so wonderful and the only complaint I have is that I didn’t have enough time with everyone.  The holidays come and go but quality time is priceless.  I know divorce situations do not turn out like this for everyone and I feel extremely blessed by my situation.  Yes, juggling isn’t always the easiest due to the amount of hours in the day, but there is never any tugging or un-fair requests.  Divorce isn’t always the best option for everyone but in my parent’s case, it couldn’t have brought any more positive people into my life.  My parents didn’t meet their matches right away but when they did it was instant.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday as well!  Now I must pack and I’m off to the UP for New Years, I can’t wait :)!

Double Threat – two sinful favorite holiday cookie recipes!

23 Dec

I love to bake and my mom has taught me so much about baking.  Ever since I can remember, she’s always been baking something in her down time.  We spent an afternoon baking last weekend and produced one of our favorite cookies and also tried a new recipe!  Both came out great so I thought I’d share the recipes.  Happy Baking!

Peanut Butter Peppermint Drops

Ingredients:

  –  1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
–  3/4 cup peanut butter
–  2 cups biscuit baking mix (I used Bisquick)
–  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
–  Granulated Sugar
–  5 dozen chocolate kisses (In this case I used peppermint kisses for the holiday)

Instructions:

–  Preheat Oven to 375F
–  In large mixing bowl, mix condensed milk and peanut butter together until smooth.
–  Add biscuit mix and vanilla – mix well
–  Shape into 1 inch balls
–  Roll in sugar and then place on ungreased baking sheet
–  bake 6-8 minutes or until brown.  Immediately place candy kisses on center of cookies.

Voila!  Fast, easy and delicious!

Ghiradelli White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Ingredients:

  –  1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
–  1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
–  1 cup brown sugar, packed
–  2 eggs
–  1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
–  3 cups unsifted flour
–  1/2 tsp baking soda
–  1 tsp salt
–  2 cups (one 11oz bag) Ghiradelli Classic White Chips
–  1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts, chopped

Instructions:

  –  Preheat oven to 350F
–  Cream butter and sugars until fluffy
–  Add vanilla and eggs and blend
–  Blend in flour, baking soda and salt
–  Stir in white chips and nuts
–  Drop teaspoons of dough onto un-greased cookie sheet
–  bake for 10-12 minutes

Another easy recipe and the cookies were so delicious.

I baked so that I could share with friends and ended up packaging them in little gift bags.  These cookies are great to bring to holiday parties or just enjoy with family and friends.  I recommend both recipes to all 🙂

❤ B

Top 5 Albums Released in 2011

22 Dec

Now that my music love has been boldly expressed throughout my blog, I thought I’d throw my 5 favorite albums of the year out since there have been so many out of this world ones released this year!  These albums are not to be missed or overlooked.

The Naked and Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You

Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials

The Wombats – This Modern Glitch

Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song

Foster the People – Torches
You may be over “Pumped Up Kicks” but the rest of the album is wonderful.

All of these albums I can listen to from beginning to end and deserve the nod of top 5 albums of 2011 in my book 🙂

Flo Rida, Gym Class Heroes and more – oh my!

22 Dec

I was so happy to be asked to participate in San Francisco’s 997 Now!’s Triple Ho Show holiday concert (held at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, home of the San Jose Sharks!) because I’d never been to a pop show ever before!  It’s been a pretty exciting few years for 997Now! because they have really flourished in our market and made a name for themselves from scratch.  It’s been a blast watching them gain momentum and not to mention get to meet all of the amazing artists that they play on the airwaves.  The listeners are also some of the most amazing people and getting to see them at this show really brings to heart how much other people connect with music.  Here are a few photos for a recap through my lens.  Enjoy 🙂

Taio Cruz

“I throw my hands into the air sometimes, saying ayyyyyoooo”

The opener was a band called Breathe Carolina and this picture sums them up pretty well.  Nice people but an odd assortment to the mix.

Ahh yes and then there was Travy McCoy with Gym Class Heroes.

He had a guest singer called Lady Ivy or something like that.  I can’t remember but she came out and sang a track with them.

Travy had everyone put hearts in the air.  It was really cool.  I was running around trying to capture everyone’s hearts and got a few photos of it.

Flo Rida making his rounds in the building!

I love the lighting in this photo.

Selena Gomez in her sparkling red one-sy.

LMFAO!  One of my favorites of the night.

And Pitbull to finish off the night!

It was an action filled night and something I’d never seen before.  The entire night was fast paced and fun.  997 Now! really pulled off a wonderful event that had people singing and dancing all night long.  I can’t wait to see what next year’s event has in store!

Photographs, Portrait Practice, and Photoshop

21 Dec

Two weekends ago one of my greatest friends and fellow bloggers, Amanda, came down to San Francisco to spend the day eating honey sticks and photographing the city with me.  We cruised the Farmer’s Market, caught up on life and shared photo tips.  She has been taking photo classes and has so much knowledge to share, it’s so fun to be able to hang out with a great friend that we share so many common interests.  You could say we photo-geeked out together but it was an awesome day with her and I can’t wait to do it again!

I’ll start with some of my Ferry Building shots I snapped and you can also see her post about our day here!  Enjoy 🙂

I do love taking photos of the Bay Bridge.

We loved this artichoke flower!

They have no fear in cities.

We bought a few of these and ate them out on the Pier together.  It’s so fun to enjoy the company of a great friend while indulging in a little sugar 🙂

I’ve actually figured out something really interesting I want to do with this photo and will do a tutorial on it soon!  I think it’s going to make a great wall art piece!

There are still vibrant flowers to be found this time of year!

Beautiful feather filled ornaments and a great, simple craft!  Next year, hopefully I’ll have enough space for a tree and I’d like to make all my own ornaments to accompany all of my “special” ornaments received from family and friends throughout the years.

I love all of the Olive Oil tastings.

Fresh and rather large scones.

The most expensive truffle’s I’ve ever seen : )

A mushroom only stand!  Every type of edible fungi you could imagine is located in San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

I’ve never seen more decadent donuts!

Me and Amanda 🙂

Then we went out on Pier 7 to work on shooting portraits.  It’s one of the hardest areas of photography to work on due to what natural lighting is supposed to look like but it was fun to work on with our fellow artist 🙂  I personally love this blown out light on Amanda.  It’s not natural to be that bright but I think it makes her glow.

Amanda 🙂

The beautiful purse Amanda has here is actually a camera bag!!  Can you believe it??  It’s adorable and padded with perfect compartments for camera bodies and lenses.  Definitely a good investment for a photographer!

We both have Canons so it was fun to compare tips and photo ideas.

All photos of me, courtesy of Amanda 🙂  She was showing me how this is the ideal portrait lighting because it’s the most natural and I completely agree.  It’s not blown out light like how I thought I liked portraits.  We had to make shift these though by leaning against a pole (in the right of the frame) to get the shading on us.

I had rented a lens for my concerts so we played around a lot with the L series lens (1.4f 35mm).

She’s talented and pretty, too 🙂  Definitely check her blog for good crafts!

Now for some photoshop fixers!  You know those blown out pictures that I like so much?  Or get a photo you like but it’s blurry?  Well photoshop can change them with the addition of a few key filters!

No filter

Filter – Sketch>Halftone Pattern.  It brings a much more artistic feel to the photo.

No filter and blurry

Filter – Sketch > Conte

I think these are good filters for more artistic shoots.  I don’t use photoshop much but I have it in the case that I don’t LOVE all the photos I shoot for someone.  You can put a few filters or make a photo black and white to bring more emotions to a photo.

Whatever you are taking photos for or working towards, it’s important to always be practicing and trying to hone your skills.  It’s great to be able to get with other photographers or people in your trade to practice as well because you can constantly be bouncing ideas off of one another.  This was a very fun day full of laughs, good conversation and of course photos galore 🙂