Meet my second photo shoot with another baby named Maddox! I guess all the future cool kids in about 14 years will be named Maddox. His super nice parents will have some pretty dang cute pictures of him as a newbie to share with his future crushes. I'll leave the embarrassing pictures up to his parents to cover--ha ha!
Happy New Year! This year, we ended 2015 by going to Europe, specifically London, Paris, Brussels, and Oslo. Here are the highlights of our trip, and yes, I know that most of the pics are of food. I figured if you really want to see another picture of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Louvre, Palace of Versailles, etc., you can just Google it :) Wouldn't you rather see something you can't Google?
The English major nerd in me has wanted to visit England since so many dead white writers are either from England or have written about England. Touring Shakespeare's Globe Theatre was really cool in a nerdy way, especially since my ninth graders are starting to read Romeo & Juliet!
Another highlight was Tower Bridge, which is so much more interesting to look at than London Bridge in my opinion.
Doesn't Christmas in Paris sound magnifique? Well, it was all that and more. It's my new love. My middle school French teacher, Ms. Johnston, wouldn't be so proud of my inability to speak any French, but she'd be proud that I knew enough to spot what I want to order in restaurants.
Le Fous de L'ile is known for being a Michelin star restaurant that doesn't require you to sell off your first born in order to eat there. They offered a prixe fixe menu for Christmas dinner for $55 per person, not bad at all for dining in Paris considering you can easily find pricier options in San Diego.
It's like this street was made for me. A gelato shop and a bakery next to each other?! My foodie mind is blown.
Ok, I didn't just go to Paris to stuff my face. Yes, we visited the main tourist attractions including the Louvre, Palace of Versailles, Luxumbourg Garden, Tuileries Garden, Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, and Basilica of Sacred Heart, but I'm most proud of walking the stairs up to the Eiffel Tour instead of using the elevator. Hey, those pastries aren't going to walk themselves off...and the stairs were cheaper which means more money for pastries!
You might have noticed that the picture above was taken during daylight while this picture was taken at night. No, it didn't take all night to walk up the Eiffel Tower. If you just want a great night shot of the Eiffel Tower, you can take the metro to Trocadero and look for the hordes of people who are doing the same thing. It's also free, since you have to pay to go up the Eiffel Tower. This awesome shot was taken by my partner in crime. If I had taken it, there would be people's heads all over the picture since I'm vertically challenged :(
It's the Mona Lisa. It's just, well, so much smaller in person. I felt bad for all the other neglected paintings, so I quickly moved on to give them some love. There's so much to see in the Louvre. I would recommend looking at the museum guide ahead of time to pick which floors you really want to explore.
After seeing Napoleon's apartment in the Louvre, my recommendation would be to go walk the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, but I could've skipped the tour of the actual palace. I felt a bit like cattle being herded through the palace because of all the people there. The gardens, on the other hand, are sprawling and so picturesque. They're also free (are you noticing a trend here?).
I was channeling Anthony Bourdain's 24 Hour Layover since we had 24 hours in Brussels. It ended up being a good thing because you can easily knock out the tourist attractions in a few hours. So what did we do the rest of the day? We basically went restaurant hopping around Brussels.
I didn't know anything about Oslo, Norway other than the fact that it happened to be cheaper to fly out of. What do I know now about Norway? It's a cold, rich, and smart country. Apparently, Norway is wealthy because of oil, but they're smart enough to set aside a fund from their oil profits to avoid Dutch disease (just Google it). Norway's political scene is quite fascinating actually, but there wasn't much to do as a tourist specifically in Oslo, so here's to another food tour.
So I know I had said in my last blog that it feels crazy when friends you've known since college start having babies, but how about friends giving birth to 10 pound babies? Gianna was a healthy 10 lbs. 1.7 oz.! If you're a woman, your first thought was probably ouch!
Gianna's photo shoot was a lot of fun as her parents cracked jokes about how she is my "plus size" baby model. We also incorporated items that were significant to her parents. I can't wait to watch this lil' one grow up!
This shot cracked me up, and I knew her parents would find it funny as well. It's as if she's thinking if you take one more picture, there will be payback. No one gets to sleep tonight and there will be lots of dirty diapers. Oh, I play dirty, real dirty.
You know what's crazy? When your friend whom you've known since college has her first baby! And, baby Selah was born on her parents' wedding anniversary...how cool is that?
Baby Selah is going to be one strong girl because she was practically holding her own head up during the photo shoot. I wouldn't have been surprised if she started walking by the time the photo shoot was over. I can't wait to watch Selah grow up, and I already know she has an amazing family to support her every step of the way.
I know it's been a while since my last blog, and I meant to blog on Mother's Day, but clearly it didn't happen. After spending way too much time watching YouTube clips and reading dessert blogs, albeit great blogs, I was inspired to make some homemade chocolates for Mother's Day. Anyone who knows me is not surprised that I decided to do something involving food. I actually dabbled in making chocolates in high school, so I figured I'd try it again. After all, if I could make chocolates in high school, I'd surely be able to do it now, right? Wrong!
I didn't want to use chocolate melts because although they are easy and foolproof, they are actually chocolate flavored instead of real chocolate. Well, there's a little thing called tempering when you melt real chocolate that has to do with rebuilding the crystals in chocolate after you've melted it. Tempered chocolate has a nice sheen and snap to it; it also doesn't melt when you leave it out at room temperature.
After a failed attempt at tempering, I was even more determined to prove to myself that as a half-grown adult, I surely could properly temper chocolate. I tried a really easy recipe that has three ingredients (Oreo cookies, cream cheese, and melted chocolate). Oreo truffle recipes are ubiquitous on the Internet, so I'll leave you to find the best recipe that calls out to you. I've taken some pics of my experience. Yes, I'm aware that there aren't pics of actual chocolate tempering and dipping. Do you know how hard it is to take pics when your hands are covered in chocolate and Oreo crumbs? Enough said!
Success tastes so sweet...
Here's what the mixture of Oreo cookies and cream cheese looks like after it's taken a spin in the food processor. Some recipes will have you form balls right after making the truffle base, but I found that freezing the mixture first makes it easier to work with. I popped the pan in the freezer and went for a run :)
After the truffle mixture was firm enough to handle, I rolled them into about 1 inch balls. After tempering real chocolate, I dipped the Oreo truffles into the chocolate and placed them back on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet to firm up again. If you find that the truffle balls are getting too soft from waiting their turn to be enrobed in chocolate, just place them back in the fridge.
I can't believe another year is coming to a close! I had a great time finishing the year with Nicole's photo shoot. Once baby Nicole fell asleep, she let us pose away and barely let out a squeal.
I hope you and yours have a merry holiday season and an even better 2015 filled with lots of love, laughter, and joy!
In honor of Labor Day, check out this cute labor of love :) Yes, it's a super corny joke...I know, I know. I blame the teacher in me.
Baby Penelope's parents are friends with baby Lily's parents, and thus, they were graciously referred to me. I see why the two families are friends because baby Penelope's parents are just as sweet and friendly! I had a great time playing dress up with Penelope. Enjoy the pictures and Happy Labor Day!
Baby Conor's parents have him well trained because he likes to sleep with noise in the background! We figured this out after he kept fighting sleep in the beginning of the session. Conor's dad is a Marine, so we incorporated some personal items as part of the photo shoot. They ended up being my favorites from this shoot because of how meaningful the pictures will be when Conor is old enough to understand the sacrifices that military families make.
Sweet lil' Bryn was very easy to work with since she let me pose her and dress her up without much fuss. Her parents were very relaxed for first time parents, which I think contributed to why Bryn was so calm during the session. Bryn has great pieces of furniture in her nursery, so we played around with her personalized basket on top of a cute chest.
Baby Ella is joining three other siblings, and you can tell her mother is a veteran when it comes to parenting. I knew the shoot was going to be a lot of fun when Ella's mom brought out the tutu, and I even picked up some great tips on baby sleep training! They live right in my neighborhood, so I'm sure I will run into their sweet family and get to watch Ella grow.