Friday, May 11, 2012

Camera Bag

I'm often asked what kind of camera/lens(es) I use. (I will add that it's not completely about the camera, the change in my photography was all about learning to shoot in manual) I currently have the Canon Rebel XSi, 50mm f/1.4 lens, and 430 EXII flash. This has been a great entry level dslr but I've outgrown it and am ready to upgrade. 

The further I dive into the photography world, the more I find that the photographers I respect shoot with Nikon (probably 95% of them). When I was first shopping for a dslr, I decided to look at Canons since I've always had their point and shoots. I thought that having the same software would make things easier. In reality, I don't use the Canon software at all! I use iPhoto to organize and am now learning Lightroom to edit. My friend, Ryan, said to go to a camera store and play with the Nikons and see what I prefer control wise. This was such great advice as I found that the ISO, White Balance, and opposing wheel and dial were much more user friendly for me (I have traditionally always heard from others that Canon is more user friendly). So I may have a little bit of a learning curve in the change over, but I'm excited about my decision.

All that being said, my Canon equipment is FOR SALE!

Canon EOS Rebel XSi + 18-55mm kit lens
$450  SOLD!
Only used for a little over a year.
Included: original box, manuals, cables, software, camera & strap free from scratches/wear/damage, kit lens, lens caps, battery, charger. (strap cover not included)

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens along with ES-71II lens hood and Tiffen 58mm UV filter
$350 SOLD!
Used for just under a year, only personal use.
Includes: original box, papers, lens caps, lens, lens cap holder, uv filter, and lens hood.

Canon Speedlite 430 EXII
$260 SOLD!
Purchased in December 2011, used only for a few months. Still has original batteries- that's how lightly used.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

nine months

Your turned nine months old yesterday! On Monday, you were 40 weeks old which means we have had you for longer than I was pregnant. I have to say, these 40 weeks with you have been much more enjoyable for me:)
How fast the time continues to go. These have been nine months of pure joy for us. There are new things that we find to love about you each and every day! We already can't imagine what life would be like without you.

You have grown so much over the last over the last month. Sometimes we can even see glimpses of what you will look like as a little boy. You are no longer a little baby, you're now a big baby but just as cute and even more snuggly.

You still hate solid foods. We've tried everything out there at this point and while you might put it in your mouth for a taste, you quickly spit it out. Picky and stubborn. It is quite funny in the moment, but your doctor is concerned and is sending us to speech therapy for some help.

I love to hear your little voice in the backseat of the car. Your high pitched "da" is the sweetest thing I hear each day. Really, hearing your little voice anytime of day is what I love:)

You love to play and we love to watch you play. You are constantly moving and exploring, picking things up, and of course putting them in your mouth! When we play with you, we love to do things like blow on your belly and neck to get you to squeal and giggle. 

You still crawl like spiderman but you can get places fast! Sometimes, you will push up on your hands and knees and take a few crawls but you know that you can get places faster with the belly crawl.

You have already shown favoritism to some of your toys! You love monkey, the books "Mommy Hugs" and "Daddy Cuddles," your guitar, sophie, and obviously your elephant paci.

Pulling up is one of your favorite things to do. Daddy started helping you with this so long ago and would take your hands and ask "want to do our thing?" And you would look at him, grin, and practice standing up like you completely understood what he was saying. Now you're not only pulling up on our hands, but the crib, toys, furniture, the wall, everything. You love standing up so much that you will stand until your legs give out and shake as you try to stand some more. Then you get frustrated because you can't stand up anymore!

The newest trick that you do is patting your hand over your mouth as you say "aahhhhhhh" like a little indian. If we do this first, you'll move our hands to your mouth and even start saying "aahhh" before we begin patting your mouth. You began doing this yourself with a pat, but now you do it with two hands and a very concentrated look on your face...

Your favorite things to do are exploring around the house, going on long walks, swinging at the park, grocery shopping, going to the mall, any of the fun things daddy comes up with to do with you, and going to church.

And you are so in love with Piper.

We have lots of nicknames for you: jackjack, ja-jack, cutie baby, sweetie baby, snuggle bug, snuggie buggie, little lovey.

You love to snuggle and you would probably be completely happy if I carried you all day long. One of my favorite times of the day is rocking you and snuggling before your naps and bedtimes. Such sweet moments.

We had your 9 month checkup with Dr. Harbaugh on the 1st and here are your stats:
18lbs 15oz - 38th%
27.5in - 18th%
18.25in head circumference 87th%

Our 9 month favorites

You bring so much happiness into our lives. We miss you when you go to bed at night and whenever we have to be away from you but we talk about you & think about you constantly in those instances! We love each new adventure with you and we look forward to so many more.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our week in Instagram {April 9-15}

A quick recap of last week.

Monday, April 9
Jjr woke up at 5:45 that morning. Since we were up early, we went ahead and did our grocery run. This boy loves Publix- the people, so much to look at, and riding in the cart.

So proud of his new sitting up trick that he'd rather do that than nap.

Tuesday, April 10
It was supposed to be nap time...

Wednesday, April 11
Dressed for church in his Cape Town tshirt that cousin Catherine brought home from her semester in South Africa. 

Thursday, April 12
Spending the afternoon with Mrs. Amy, Brendan and Colin. I meet them at Colin's soccer practice to pick Jack up. He loves this little elmo phone that they have-he wouldn't even look up at me when I got there!
Friday, April 13
Didn't take any pics this day, we spent the day at the mall (one of Jack's favorite places) and running errands.

Saturday, April 14
I woke up, looked at the monitor, saw that he was standing up and ran in to get him!

This is his favorite part of the Baby Einstein DVD, the cow...

and the doggie. He lets out a HUGE laugh!

We have these Laugh and Learn Homes in the church nursery and Jack LOVES them. After I saw him playing with one and heard from Mrs. Jane (who keeps Jack while I teach ballet) that he loves to ring the doorbell, I decided that we just had to have one for home. But, I looked them up on Amazon and couldn't believe the price - $120. Woah. Instead I decided to search Craig's List. I've never bought anything on that site before but now was the time to try. There was ONE Laugh and Learn Home and it just happened to be about 9 miles away from our house.

I emailed the owner and worked out a pickup for the next day. The Laugh and Learn Home was in almost perfect condition, had all it's little pieces, everything worked, and the best part was that we only paid $30 for it! 

I had so much fun going to get it. John said it's a little taste of what Christmas and birthdays will be like with him. He also said that it's a gift to us because it keeps Jack occupied:)

When I got home with it, Jack stared at it while I carried it in, watched while I cleaned it off, and when John let him loose, he crawled straight over to it and started ringing the door bell!

now he wants to stand up everywhere

Sunday, April 15
John's 30th Birthday! 
(I'm trying to convince JSr. to take us to NYC {I need to see Newsies!} for our 30th birthdays, but he says Vegas- we'll see if either of us wins this discussion)

Jack dressed for church

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Grandmommy Amy wanted to see Jack needed to hand deliver preschool ballerina tutus so I could hand them out to my girls for the upcoming recital. She drove over Sunday morning and brought Jane along with her. They got to see Jack and John & I got to go out for birthday dinner.

We chose our favorite sushi place, Pearl Lian. We've only had takeout from them so we decided to try dining in for a change. The food was amazing as always and the interior of the restaurant was beautiful. We will definitely be back and decided that it will be a great place to take friends and family who are visiting from out of town.

ordering the sushi

love the saki servers. must find some for our house.

Thanks Gran and Grandmommy Amy for letting us have a date night!

A quick visit with the grandmas. So good to see them but so sad that they had to leave so soon.

Grandmommy Amy

Bruster's ice cream cake (which I secretly picked up while I was picking up the Laugh and Learn home Saturday night). This might possibly be John's favorite part of having a birthday. Have I told you that he wanted his Groom's cake to be an ice cream cake?

Sweet snuggle bug lays his head on your shoulder when he's tired. And he was REALLY tired Sunday, potluck lunch, grandmas, daddy's birthday, and only one nap.

A great ending to another amazing week. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

In Our Kitchen ~ Crab Cakes

Not only does John say that this is one of the best things that I cook, he says these
crab cakes are the best he's had ANYWHERE. 
The recipe is from the Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook. I registered for this cookbook at WS when we got married and every recipe I've made from it has been amazing.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup minced yellow onion
1/3 cup minced celery
Kosher salt and pepper
1lb fresh or thawed frozen lump crabmeat
3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (WS has a recipe for this but I just use the Progresso boxed bread crumbs)
1/2 cup mashed potatoes, cooled (these mashed potatoes taste just like Grandma Catherine's!)
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
1 cup fine toasted bread crumbs
Spicy mayonnaise for serving
Arugula leaves for serving

Heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes; do not let brown. Season lightly with salt, remove from the heat, and let cool completely. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the crabmeat, fresh bread crumbs, mashed potatoes, mustard, mayonnaise, chives, tarragon, cayenne, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Mix together gently with a fork to keep the mixture fluffy, with big flakes of crabmeat intact. Carefully stir in the cooled onion mixture. Add a little more lemon juice, cayenne, or salt to suit your taste.

To form the cakes, spread the toasted bread crumbs on a plate. Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop out the crab mixture and drop into the crumbs. Coat each side lightly with the crumbs, patting them on so they adhere, and form a compact cake about 3/4 inch thick. You should be able to form 8 crab cakes. At this point, you can refrigerate the cakes until just before ready to cook and serve.

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 200ºF. Heat half of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Place 4 of the cakes in the pan and cook on one side until a golden crust forms, about 3 minutes. Use tongs or a spatula to turn the cakes over and continue cooking until a golden crust forms on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Remove the cakes from the pan and keep warm in the oven while adding the remaining half of the oil to the sauté pan and cooking the remaining 4 cakes.

To serve, place the crab cakes on individual plates with a dollop of spicy mayonnaise, if using, and a sprinkling of arugula leaves. 

If you made mashed potatoes, you should have enough to serve some on the side. I also serve asparagus or salad when I make this meal.

These are really pretty easy to make, especially once you've done it once or twice. Also, you can experiment with some variations - store bought mayo vs. making your own, adding the spicy mayo, toasting your own bread crumbs (I found that to be too much work), adding minced ginger, chopped bell peppers, or chopped sautéed spinach. 

The only downside to this meal is the cost of the crab meat. The last time I made this, I bought one tub of fresh Jumbo lump cramp meat and one tub of lump crab meat from the seafood counter- that way you still get the big lumps but you aren't paying as much for the crab (and I happened to be shopping for this when the crab meat was on sale!). Making the full recipe would easily feed 4 people, so if you're only feeding 2 and don't want leftovers, you can cut the recipe in half.