Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My First Wedding Shoot

Last month I shot my first wedding. Honestly, I was more nervous acting as a wedding photographer than I was 7 years ago when I acted as a bride. As a bride, my biggest fear was tripping down the aisle or spilling red wine down the front of my dress. I figured anything else that happened was about par for the course. My dad was instructed to throw himself down, if I tripped and he couldn't catch me, to make it look like he was the one who caused the fall. Knowing my clumsy nature to spill on myself I avoided all colored liquids the second my dress was on. Just one more reason to drink nothing but champagne :)

But as a wedding photographer - absolutely terrified. I had a 'top ten' list of sorts of photos that I had to nail in order to walk away feeling somewhat confident. I may or may not have even told both the bride and groom to kiss away during the ceremony to ensure I captured their first kiss. They even did me a solid and gave me a huge dipped kissing half way down the aisle during the recessional (another tip I gave them!).

I don't foresee myself becoming a wedding photographer anytime soon or at least until someone invents a pause button. Actually, if I could have gotten a "make these black pouring rain clouds disappear" button on that August wedding day I would have been most happy. Besides a few moments of "I wish I would have done that differently" my biggest regret was not taking enough time during formal portraits to get a few more shots of the entire bridal party and the bride and groom. In all seriousness, it absolutely POURED and everyone wanted to get inside before the rain came down. I guess going with the threat of rain worked in my favor because no one would have been happy soaking wet.

Even though there are those normal post-event-regrets, I'm really proud of myself for saying yes to friends and acting as photographer for 8+hours. That was something well outside of my comfort zone. Getting outside of my safety bubble is definitely something I want to challenge myself more in the future. The time to start is now.

What's the biggest challenge you've undertaken this year to your comfort zone?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Game Day Chili Recipe

There's just something about spending more time than one should watching football on weekends that pairs perfectly with cooking a massive pot of chili. Especially when sweater weather is rolling into the forecast.  The hubs makes chili during football season every other week it seems and every other week I don't mind the repetition. This past weekend we mixed it up a bit and made it Monday night instead because we went to the O's game Sunday night (and the hubs beloved Eagles were playing on Monday night). 

Now, I know some folks in Texas claim that a proper chili doesn't contain beans and to that I say, "to each his own." Beans just add a certain warmth to chili that makes it the perfect comfort food. You know because you usually eat chili, wearing yoga pants, with a blanket covering your lap, while screaming at your tv. Hey, that's how I roll. 

Ingredients: Yield 6-8 servings 
- 1.5lbs of ground meat (we use beef, but you could use turkey or chicken)
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 2 jalepenos
- 1 onion
- 15oz light kidney beans
- 15oz dark kidney beans
- 28oz diced tomatoes
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper

*This is our "base recipe" and we make modifications to it based on how we're feeling. This past week the red peppers and jalapenos looked really good so we threw in an extra one of each. SPICY! We omitted garlic this time around because of the extra peppers.

- prep and chop peppers, onions, jalapenos
- cook vegetables in skillet with a tiny bit of oil
- drain kidney beans
- in a large 8qt stockpot combine beef broth, drained kidney beans, ground cumin, and ground red pepper. Bring to a simmer and then switch to low heat while vegetables are cooking.
- Add vegetables and diced tomatoes to stockpot. Keep at a slow simmer.
- Brown ground beef and when fully browned then drain and add to stockpot.
- Simmer all ingredients for 25-30 minutes. Keep the stockpot partially uncovered. 

The longer you simmer those jalapenos the spicier your chili will be. That's a really important thing to consider when packing up your chili and reheating it the next day. When we make this on the weekends we'll keep the chili on low heat for hours after making it and it just gets spicier as it heats. 

Add a dab of cheese and/or sour cream, chives, or just keep your bowl naked. 

The hubs and I literally fight over who gets the last of the chili for lunch leftovers. I get giddy when I find out he'll be out in the field and can't take a lunch with him. Yes, I'm in my 30s and it brings me joy to have tasty leftovers for lunch rather than a salad. I'm not ashamed of this at all. 

All photos of the finished chili were taken on day two when I found myself at home with the chili for lunch. Hello natural light! Yes, even on day two this chili is pretty photogenic and tastes wonderful! 

What's your go-to chili recipe? Are you beans or a no beans kind of chili person? 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11: A Moment of Silence

View of Manhattan from the World Trade Center observation deck in 2000. Photo taken by my father on our yearly pilgrimage to the various tourist attractions of NYC. 

I had to turn the radio off this morning because the morning talk show was sharing where they were that Tuesday morning in 2001. "Where were you when you heard about the attack?" All it took was one story to be transported back in my mind to a very dark place. Being in college - scared and seemingly alone.  The only time in my entire life I told a friend to smoke a cigarette because she could see the smoke from the Pentagon. Worried about friends and family in NYC. I'm an adult now and I still can't make sense of any of it. 

But I know to never forget. We owe it to those who lost their lives and those who lost their loved ones to never forget. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Made in USA: Fall Craving

I don't care if tomorrow's weather forecast calls for another 90+ degree day. I wore a jacket earlier this week and if that's not a sure fire sign of fall then I don't know what is anymore. Hopefully this fall I can stray away ever so slightly from my patented black/white, stripes, and polka dots color scheme. Oh wait, that's how I roll every season. Whoops!

However, this year becomes the year I finally buy a pair of coated denim. It's happening. I feel it. There are too many amazing made in the USA coated denim options out there to ignore. Now I just need to muster up the strength to try on 20+ pairs in one weekend. I apologize in advance to any salesperson who has to deal with me taking 8 items in and bringing back 7 or 8. It's jeans, we've all been there. I feel like they should just stock jeans in the dressing room and have a area designated for people trying to find the best jeans for their butt.

Also, can we officially welcome back plaid and flannel season? My hubs is ecstatic.

What are you craving for fall?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Football Season: Made in America

Welcome back football season! The hubs and I are heading to the Ravens home opener this Sunday and we have a few more games lined up this year. Which means it's time for tailgating, purple & black nail polish, spiked drinks, flannel scarves, and the ever demanding task of dressing for a cold weather game. I call my attire "snowmobile chic" when it gets to those primetime games in December.

Of course when I'm home or anywhere away from M&T Bank Stadium I'm all about my New York Football Giants. It's just rough being married to an Eagles fan, but we make it work.

Since it's known around the world as "American Football" it only makes sense to wear USA made clothing at the games. I've got my eyes on a bomber jacket for those fall games where layering is enjoyable and a necessity.

Who's going to a game this weekend? And who's excited to have football back on TV?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

After the Gray

Made in USA: Chambray top: AG Jeans (similar) // Jeans: James Jeans // Sneakers: New Balance 

Not to get too melancholy, but is there anything worse than rain during a BBQ? This past weekend my sister planned a great family BBQ to celebrate the end of the summer season. The weather was cool this past weekend up in the NY mountains and everything was perfect - until the skies blackened and the rain came pouring down. 

But you know what - life isn't perfect. You have got to roll with the clouds. And sometimes after a downpour the sun peaks out just enough to deliver a great sunset. It's nature's reminder that tomorrow will be a new day and a new start.

How was your Labor Day weekend? I spent mine with almost all of my nearest and dearest and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

American Made Labor Day Sales

It's that time of the year again. Time to pack away the summer gear and look towards fall and winter. If for nothing else because Game of Thrones has been telling us for the past 4 years that winter is coming and after last winter's brutal weather I'm heeding the warning.

Just do me a solid and if you're in the buying mode, buy something American made this weekend. You know, because this weekend is a holiday that honors the American worker. I'll be adding more sales as I can, so make sure to check back often.

Anthropologie - an extra 20% off all sale items, no code needed.. Amazing cutting board, midi skirt, and plenty of other items made in the USA.

Bailey44 - Up to 70% off on select sale pieces now through 9/1. Hurry! I can't even describe how beautiful this dress is or how badly I need this top for every single blazer I own.

Black Halo - massive sale on select items including gowns and cocktail dresses. Is it too early to start picking out dresses for holiday parties? If you can pull off red then please buy this dress so I can live vicariously through you!

Clover Canyon - just a crazy deal on some of the best prints around.

Ella Moss 20% off dresses with code LABORDAY20 now through midnight of 9/1. In love with this striped maxi, but this icon black dress is a classic! Check the fabric section on each dress to confirm it is made in the USA.

Eva Franco - 30% off select sale items and an additional 20% off all other sale items with codes LABORDAY30 and LABORDAY20. Sale ends 9/4!

Heidi Merrick - take an extra 20% off already reduced sale items with code LABORDAY. Need a vegan leather pencil skirt?

James Jeans - 30% off with code JJLABOR14 now through 9/1. Now is the time to stock up on jeans and finally get a pair of Twiggy Dancers in Black Swan.

J.W. Hulme - 15% off sitewide through 9/1 with code MAKERS. Their iconic legacy handbag just came out in cobalt blue and you do not want to miss adding this bag to your life.

Karen Kane - take an extra 25% off all sale and clearance items through 9/1 with code LABORDAY14. Seriously, this is a good sale. Too many items to pick just a few to highlight!  

Nordstrom Rack - extra 25% off all clearance items. Look for American made favorites like Alexis Bittar, Eva Franco, and more. Again, check the description.

Oka B - buy 1, get 1 50% off on all summer styles now through 9/1 with code LDAY2014

Sparkly Soul - 20% off entire order now through 9/1 with code LABORDAY. Fall running season is upon us so stock up on headbands that actually work now!

Splendid - 20% off select skirts and tops with code LABORDAY20. Oh hey classic black midi skirt. Welcome to my closet! Check the fabric section on each dress to confirm it is made in the USA.

Three Dots - extra 15% off all sale items with an order over $100. Amazing deal on this cropped jacket.

Trina Turk - extra 20% off all sale items. Check item description for Made in USA status.

Tuckernuck - Extra 20% off sale items now through 9/1 with code LABOROFLOVE. Plus free ground shipping! Check out great dresses from Nanette Lepore, Amanda Uprichard, and others.