Done!

When I started my cycling endeavors it was for selfish reasons. Since then it has become so much more. Today I rode for my Lolo and it made all of my efforts worth it. The pain and sweat , the early morning rise do not compare to the daily struggle you endure. I do this to Mimic your struggle which is incomprehensible to the rest of us. In facing this endeavor myself and my friends hope you will benefit. But even if you don’t we hope that you know we did it with you in mind.

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Bokeh

Bokeh: bōˈkā/ the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.

Recently, I was playing with some lighting set-ups. I wanted to have the opportunity to re-create an effect I envisioned and finally got my hands on the resources to make it happen. Below you will see  images that represent Bokeh.
The lighting was tricky but a lot of fun to figure out all the settings. The background of the image is created with aluminum foil and a gelled flash a second light is used to illuminate the subject. This is certainly for the advanced photographer, but I hope to be able to apply it during events next wedding season.
The subject of the images happens to be my wifes engagement ring which has been the subject of other tests as well. Besides having the opportunity to use it at will it also invokes great sentimental attachment to the images.

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AMAZE-balls!

I have been dying to use this term in conversation or writing and I have finally found the opportunity to use it in both. As a quick follow up to the Superbowl post I present you with the aforementioned “dips.”

Firstly:

Buffalo Bacon Blue Cheese Guacamole

(Yes, it is as good as it sounds!)

Retrieved from: Laurenslatest.com

INGREDIENTS:

4 slices hickory smoked bacon
2 avocados {I used California Avocados}
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 large garlic clove grated
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup diced tomato
2 1/2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese + more for garnish
hot sauce, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Start by cooking bacon in a skillet until edges are crispy. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Cut open avocados and scoop into large bowl. Mash together with lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper until chunky. Stir in cilantro, tomato, blue cheese, bacon and hot sauce. Stir until combined. Spoon into serving bowl and top with more blue cheese, hot sauce and cilantro. Serve as desired.

*Refrigerate until service plus any leftovers.

Suggestions:

If you fry the bacon ahead of time this dip comes together in 30 seconds. I followed the recipe pretty much to a tee, with the hot sauce coming from a habanero hot sauce from Trader Joe’s which may burn your eyes out of their sockets so I used three drops, literally! In my opinion, this was the right amount since it was not overwhelming. This aside, the guacamole was insane! It truly is a completely different experience and, for those that arrived early enough, to the party, were able to enjoy it thoroughly. Let’s just say there was none left half way through our gathering.

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Next up:

Gooey and Cheesy Warm Bacon Dip

Retrieved from: kitchenmeetsgirl.com

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sour cream (I used light)
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ cup sliced green onion

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Combine softened cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon and green onion. Spoon mixture into a 1-quart baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and hot

Suggestions:

For this recipe I chose to use white and yellow cheddar cheese. I believe the combination added to the taste of the dip. The fact that this dip is baked makes all the difference in the world! You can probably have it room temperature, but it will not be nearly as good. Since this was made for the “Big Game” we skipped the crudité and resorted to scooping with a rosemary pita chip. Again, a fantastic dip, but keep it warm or you miss out on how awesome it really is.

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Superbowl

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Do I have to pay royalties now?! Anyway, one of the customs my friends I have are to get together on an annual basis to enjoy the “Big Game”…. Generally, one of our friends offers his home as the venue for such the event and there is a significant amount of preparation that is had, usually by the host. My group of friends being who/what they are generally, won’t do the legwork to provide sustenance. So there are many white castle “cases” and Doritos chips provided. However, me, being who I am, make it somewhat of an event. I will be making two different dips (probably reserved for a different post) and what I am presenting to you here which is a dark chocolate and white chocolate chip cookie.

Dark & White Chocolate Chip Cookie

adapted from: everybodylikessandwiches.com

1 c butter, room temperature
1/2 c white sugar
1 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
2 c semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c sliced almonds (optional – if not using, replace with chocolate chips)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or fleur de sel (optional), for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, blending well before adding in the second egg. Add in vanilla and mix until incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined, taking care not to over mix. With a spatula fold in the chocolate and the almonds (if using).

Using a tablespoon, roll into balls and place onto a prepared cookie sheet, about an inch and a half apart (I always line mine with silpat or parchment paper). Slightly flatten out the tops. If desired, sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt or fleur de sel.

Bake at 360F for 12 minutes until lightly golden but still a bit gooey on the inside. Cool on wire racks.

Suggestion:

So right off the bat, I need to explain that since I have been out of practice for some time I completely dropped the ball and forgot to include the granulated sugar. No matter because honestly I don’t think the recipe needs it. By the way my cookies finished awesomely and did not need any additional sweetness, maybe my finger in the batter was enough? I see you rolling your eyes, couldn’t resist. Anyway, I clearly opted for the white chocolate instead of the nuts which I think was a great way to go, just wasn’t feeling the nuts today, no pun intended. My goal was to make a straight- forward cookie that didn’t involve being gluten, GMO, vegan, vegetarian, paleo or whatever other new diet there is, proof. My friends are simple and unpretentious and that’s how they like to swoon!

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Long Road…

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I have been at war with myself for a long time whether or not to write this post. However, I have come to the realization that posting would do more good than anything else. Below you will see multiple images of one of my sons. He is a fraternal twin. He is the eldest of the twins. He is Autistic. That latter three-word phrase has taken me a long time to appreciate and accept. I did not know how to deal with this reality for a long time. While this diagnosis is difficult for me to handle, lest we forget what is at the heart of the diagnosis, but a little boy who has begun life with a tremendous obstacle in front of him.

The eventual diagnosis stemmed from a realization that our son was not reaching certain milestones in development. Primarily our concern centered on a lack of vocabulary, both quantity and quality of which were/are deficient. Since drawing conclusions from comparisons is not the best measure of development, we chose to have him evaluated. After a myriad of evaluations it was determined he is ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). As shocking as this was for our family, the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty of what was to come was, at least in my case, more frightening. Fortunately, we have a great team of providers who helped in explaining much of the process and expectations, but there has certainly been a large learning curve.

Our son has many therapists and several sessions with more being added from time to time. We have learned so much from our boy and this experience. We now have a proficient understanding of what the jungle of acronyms ABA, EI, CPSE, OT, and PT mean and where and when they are appropriate. But beyond that we learn from him directly in observing his interactions with his siblings and his environment. He is expected to enter a center based program shortly which will be another enormous step for all of us. God willing it will be a positive experience which will only help to improve and expedite his development.

Sometimes it can all be overwhelming for everyone, but when this happens I remind myself of a comment made by one of his therapists. She said, and I am paraphrasing, what if he is the “normal” one and we are the outliers? I think about that a lot, as his perception of the world must be so different than mine. How amazing must that ability be?

Additionally, my wife reminds me of a belief she has, God does not give you anything you cannot handle. To him I say, thank you for sending us our extra special boy.

I don’t care to come off all preachy. However, for families apprehensive or scared of having their child evaluated, think about the unknown. You may be doing your child a disservice by not providing them the opportunity to receive services they may benefit from. If it is not through the same services we sought, linked here, please do it through whatever services are available to you.

As for our little guy, we will strap in and enjoy the long road ahead and all that it will bring.

 

 

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2015 Review

I present you with my first ever year in review through images. As many of you, we have also had a very eventful year. Many of which have been captured through my lens, sensors, and phone. Photographically, I have made a significant change in equipment for my daily shooting. Relegating my full frame SLR to contract shoots only. My new “walking around camera” is now a mirrorless Fuji film XT1, which I must say is a more than formidable tool. This has trained my eye in a different way and has allowed me to capture many experiences which otherwise might have been detrimental to my SLR. Additionally, my phone has become more of a player in my daily photography.

I hope you enjoy this collection of 2015, and of course Happy New Year to all of you.

 

Happy Holidays

DSCF7313It’s the Merriest time of the year and to that end I am sharing one of my favorite images of 2015. I know most people are very stressed during this time of year, ourselves included! However, by now most of our gifts have been purchased and wrapped and we are in the process of putting the final touches on Christmas eve preparations. Cookie dough is being mixed and I am looking forward to seeing my kids’ faces on Christmas morning.

With that in mind our family wishes all of you a Happy Holiday Season and only the best for the upcoming year!

Back to the Future

I work backwards. I have often done this in my life where I begin with the more complex aspect of something and work backwards to learn the more basic steps afterward. Crazy I know, but the situation I find myself in now is a microcosm of such an event. I began photography with the most advanced hardware I could afford. This, of course, was a digital SLR. I made the most of what I have and learned a great deal. I like to think that I hold my own in photography and  realize this is a life long effort of constant learning challenging and experimentation. To this end I am in the myths of taking on this new endeavor. I recently came into not one, but two film cameras. Actually they are medium format, one is a Yashica-A TLR (twin lens camera) the other a Voigtländer Bessa 66. Both are quit beautiful and use 120 film, which thankfully is still being produced. To my surprise when I received them both still had film in them. Eager to see what was on them I had them developed. One roll provided some nice images of a family from many years gone by. The other roll was returned to me stating “C22 process no longer done”! I was told this film processing hasn’t been done in over 30 years! Therefore the film must be at least this old :0. While I am still searching to have this roll developed elsewhere I want to attempt to use the cameras and see how I do with them. I realize this is the ultimate test of my photographic abilities. The primary difference being you can’t delete on film. Once it’s there, it’s there, if you were out of focus, that’s going to be your print! No post viewing here! Can’t wait to see how I do, future posts hopefully will have those images available to you all. In the meantime, meet the members of my new entourage.

Special Day

I don’t usually go out of my way to post for Holidays in particular. However, for this particular day I would like to take the time out to dedicate this post to my Valentine. My Wife. On this Valentine’s Day I would like to thank you for being with me and supporting not only me but our family as a whole. You help to strengthen me as a person, father, and husband. Far beyond anything I could ever hope to instill in you, has already been shown to me by you and your actions.

I am so proud and happy to say you are my Valentine forever.

Perez the Mouse “Raton Perez”

Having kids really does change everything, not to mention your perspective on life. Every “first” event is such an event and has caught, me at least, by surprise. Maybe we make it an “event” but I think that’s part of the fun of having kids. I think my wife and I do a fare job of making these events memorable for our daughter. Recently we were tested with the  loss of a first tooth. My daughter had a loose tooth for several days and I guess, we simply assumed we would know what to do when the tooth finally fell out. I think secretly both of us kind of took it for granted that one day it would fall out! Thank God for the internet, after some research we discovered the perfect way to memorialize this most recent chapter in our lives.

When that fateful day finally arrived our daughter was so excited because she knew the tooth fairy would leave her some money in place of her tooth that night as she slept. We also mentioned to her the Latin equivalent of the Tooth Fairy which is Perez the Mouse or Raton Perez, which I suppose responds from our parents side of the family? Not quite sure and we didn’t exactly explain all the details to our daughter either. Anyway, in our daughters case the fairy did actually write her a note as well as leaving some money. We did have a great laugh when the letter accidentally fell under her bed and she could not find it or the money contained therein. She was very concerned as to why her tooth was gone and there was no money!? After some searching she discovered the prize and was very pleasantly surprised to find the tooth fairies correspondence. While she doesn’t fully comprehend the value of money she knows having more of it is better… Not a bad philosophy but I think we need to clarify some. Soon baby, soon.

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