May 25, 2010

Shannon and Greg

I rarely book weddings without first meeting and interviewing the Bride and Groom.

It’s a little like dating in some ways, and if the chemistry isn’t there, you may not be the perfect match… and I truly believe that if you find that perfect match, like dating, you end up bringing out the best in each other. As a photographer, if the couple and I hit it off, I am inspired and my photography is even better than ever. If the couple digs me, they smile and are much more into the whole idea of being photographed, and the pictures turn out so much better than if there is tension or awkwardness. In the case of Shannon and Greg’s wedding, I took a risk and plunged right in, after just a couple of phone calls and emails. Jennifer, Shannon’s exquisite, gorgeous red-haired sister had recommended me, and I sort of figured that since Jennifer is such a positive and lovable woman, Shannon must be too.

(I'm gonna gush here for a minute kittens, so bear with me)

I was SO lucky. I hit the jackpot.

On Friday night, I finally met Shannon and Greg in person, along with their amazing friends and family at the rehearsal dinner at The Star of the Sea Room, right there on the bay in San Diego. I was so deeply struck by the open and honest kindness she beams in her easy smile. And I was further struck by the sincerity of Greg. He couldn’t take his eyes off Shannon. You could just tell by how wonderful of a couple they were together, their passion for each other is the kind that will never fade.

Even after many many weddings, it made me pause and smile at the love they so obviously share.

Not only were Shannon and Greg a couple of extremely beautiful people, their wedding was a blast. And ummm… GORGEOUS.

We started with the “getting ready” photos in a suite at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront (just following a bit of an earthquake!) and the view was breathtaking.

The groomsmen were fabulous, and open to jumping all over the place like super heroes.
The bridesmaids were elegant and beautiful and Shannon’s mom and dad were supportive, funny and helpful every minute.

And Shannon’s Brother Jeff was slightly excited about the wedding as you can tell…

All I can say is: WOW. THIS is why I take wedding photos… I love being a part of this moment in people’s lives, when an amazing couple who are part of an amazing family and circle of friends expresses their love for each other in an unforgettable celebration. I am honored to “catch time” and freeze forever, those moments… the looks in their eyes when they are at the church, their first dance at the reception, and their families heartfelt and undeniable joy.

All this week I’ll be re-living the wedding and working on their photos in the evenings after my work at the Culinary School. I can’t wait to send them and their guests the slide show and online album that documented this SPECTACULAR and gorgeous day.

May 20, 2010

Our Home

I am so in love with our house.

It’s been a milestone in my life, to live here.

It’s where my husband proposed to me, on the couch in the living room. It’s where I finally had enough space for my children to have bedrooms and real beds again, after my first life up-ended, and we lived in tiny apartments. I’ve written poems and book chapters at the kitchen table. This house is where I’ve planted roses in the backyard and lavender next to the front door with Kevin. We’ve cooked together in the kitchen, taught my children how to make pancakes, Indian Dahl, homemade peppermint ice-cream, scrambled eggs and Kevin’s famous guacamole. Vivid memories of small dinner parties, big celebrations and bottles of wine shared with friends and family resonate somehow in the walls of our little house and probably will for years to come. Our home has been a canvas to paint a new life together - for my children, myself, my husband and our “new” family.

Maybe the people who end up buying our house will feel how much we loved it and they’ll love it too.

But as much as we've loved it, it seems to be time to go.  This Sunday there will be an open house, as I type this, the listing has gone live.

We put our heart and soul into the yard; we’ve designed and remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, carpeted and painted the upstairs bedrooms and worked hard to bring the 1920’s Portland Bungalow back to life. It is a reflection of us and the life we are building.

This old house has a heart of gold but we are in search of a new neighborhood and we are turning a page. I have to keep reminding myself that home is what you make the place you live into by filling it with family, friends, food, color, life and love.

A new adventure is about to begin.

May 19, 2010

Saturday Night Dinner Party Fundraiser at OCI

Saturday night we attended a super cool fund raiser dinner here at Oregon Culinary. Chef Josh Blythe and his gorgeous wife Allison hosted the event and successfully raised funds for Team in Training, a Leukemia Research charity.

The food was amazing.

Josh is a phenomenal chef and pours his heart and soul into the food he creates with the students.
(I swear he could make a shoe taste good with his incredible talent and knowledge when it comes to flavor)

Melinda and Rolf, and Mark and Michelle were brilliant dining companions, and the night was the perfect blend of great food, endless glasses of good wine and funny conversation…. The ideal dinner.

May 18, 2010

On Writing

 Wearing my heart on my sleeve this week and baring my soul to agents...  wish me luck darlings.

May 14, 2010

Siren Call of The Road Trip

I want to throw my stuff in bag and drive away.

Shorts, tee shirts, sweatshirts, old canvas tennis shoes with holes in them, 80 SPF sunscreen, and bags and bags of soft red licorice...

I want to put my hand out the window of the Dodge Polera and let it surf the wind blowing past on the the highway, drink truck-stop coffee, and look out the window at the open road.
I want to buy ridiculous tiny spoons that have the name of the cities we've driven through on them, and collect paper napkins from diners, compare pancakes, pie and BLT's at small town cafes. I want to forget about regular life. Just for a weekend.

Freedom. Junk food. Bad coffee in paper cups. CD's with 80's classics burned onto them, wrinkled maps spread out on the dashboard, a rare sense of adventure and good company... these are the trappings that make up the ideal Road Trip.

Last year, to celebrate our fourth anniversary, Kevin and I packed the car and escaped to Eastern Oregon.
We had a cool and relaxed adventure in the Gorge, Eastern and Central Oregon, but not everything went as planned. By default, it turned out to be perfect, BECAUSE of imperfection. The absolute fun was in the flaws. Stories emerge from close calls with disaster, and I believe, on a road trip, you don’t want just roses and sunshine. Intrigue makes it memorable.

It makes it an adventure.

During the drive to take photos of the Painted Hills in John Day, we were lost for hours on a narrow unmarked dirt road. I imagined our romantic drive would end in something of a Cohen Brothers film plot when we asked two local guys in a graffiti covered truck with covered windows and plates for directions.

We ran out of gas in Shaniko. The locals who had just completed a staged gunfight at their annual Shaniko Days suggested we see Clive. He was the guy who owned multiple RV's, horses and the largest modular home who sold us a gallon of gas for $7. The sight of him in nothing but a coral Speedo bathing suit, all leathery-tan with white curly chest hair that resembled a mess of fishing twine burned itself into my mind. I couldn't take my eyes off of him.
I still wish, of all the photos I took that trip, that I had the wherewith all to take his photo. But, he stunned me to silence and I was frozen in awe, unable to document his leathery coral Speedo-d physique.

As we left, he threw out his arms and yelled “I’m sixty years old and I’m livin’ like I’m dyin’!”

We barely made it to our hotel room that night, a fabulous little Bed and Breakfast in Dufur. The Balch Hotel. We walked into the cool sitting room, sweaty, coated with dust, and stressed out from a day of being lost. Our eyes had the look of crazy, fed-up tourists high on truck stop coffee. The smell of warm chocolate chip cookies beckoned us and the hip young couple playing scrabble near the check in desk made us feel as though we'd found a serene oasis.

Samantha and Jeff greeted us warmly and insisted on bringing out freshly made Greek salads and ice cold Black Butte Porter Ales from the back kitchen even though it was well past dinner. They sat with us and laughed at all the right parts in the story of our adventure and especially loved the visual memory of Clive, the coral Speedo wearing philosopher in Shaniko.
We slept hard that night on crisp white linens in our little antique western hotel room under fluffy white down comforters and 500 count sheets, we gorged ourselves on a delicious breakfast with the other guests who’d spent the night at The Balch, and then relaxed in the hammock for a while in the back.

It was everything. Romance, adventure, intrigue, old men in bathing suits, new friends, and U2 God's Country blasting through the stereo speakers.

I want to go back.

Weekend Splendor

, originally uploaded by loretoidas.
Enjoy sunny and relaxing time off my lovelies.

May 13, 2010

Best Case Scenario Crisp

Last Tuesday night, one of my favorite people from waaaaaaaaaay back in high school came over for dinner.
I’ll never forget one of the most meaningful conversations in my life, back then, when he and I were hanging out in the back seat of the school bus on the way home from a leadership conference. The Smith’s were blaring excellent tunes from someone’s boom box and Jeff and I were talking about the important things in life. It is a Technicolor memory for me. Transforming and important. For over twenty years Jeff didn’t know how much that conversation on the worn green vinyl seats in the back of the bus meant to me. He wrote to me from Bible College for a little while, until we lost touch and went in separate directions. Seeing him again, we picked right up where we left off.

Kevin, Jeff and I enjoyed steaks sautéed in shallots and butter with blue cheese compound butter melted greedily over the top. I’d bought a loaf of fresh French bread at New Seasons and made a salad with spinach, strawberries and avocado. Just as I was about to put the rhubarb apple crisp into the oven, a fuse blew and the oven light was out. Kevin texted our neighbor Mary and asked her if we could run the dessert over to cook in her oven.

Just as the dessert returned, Jeff asked us what the “Best Case Scenario” would be for us. What would the Best Case Scenario in life entail?

It made us pause and think… maybe it caught us off guard. You don’t actually do that very often anymore as an adult. No one asks what you want to be when you grow up once your grown up, and everyone assumes you must be doing what you want to be doing because you’re not doing something else. But is that necessarily true?

Suddenly, the lights flickered on and the oven was again in working order.

We sat in silence and savored the hot rhubarb crisp drenched in melting vanilla ice cream, each of us quietly pondering our “Best Case Scenario.”
Crisp Topping:

• 6 Tbs butter, cut into ½ inch chunks
• ¾ cup brown sugar
• 2/3 cup flour
• ½ cup rolled oats or chopped nuts
• ¼ tsp salt
• ½ tsp grated nutmeg
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Using your fingers, work the butter into the rest of the ingredients so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse crumbly mixture.

Set aside.

 Rhubarb-Apple Filling

• 1 and ½ pounds baking apples, peeled and cored
• 2 pounds rhubarb, diced into 1-inch pieces
• 1 and ¼ cups sugar
• ¼ cup flour
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• A pinch of ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Dice the apples, then put them in a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Arrange the fruit in a cast iron skillet or a 2 quart gratin dish and cover with the toppings. Set the dish on a sheet pan to catch any drips and bake until the juices from the fruit are bubbling and the topping is brown, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Serve with a lovely scoop of vanilla ice-cream
*Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

May 6, 2010

Chocolate: Mind Altering Sexiness

These two are hip Amish-looking dudes who take chocolate to a whole new level.

{found on one of my favorite blogs of all time, via Uncle Beefy}

May 4, 2010

A Welcome Cheese Coma

The spring weather in Portland is unusually overcast and chilly, the sky has been spitting out winter-like rain and I’ve been in a funk. I want to hibernate, become invisible, and wait out the stormy weather along with my stormy mood. I want to take endless warm baths; wear floppy flannel pajamas, cozy slippers, and either curl up in a corner with a good book or watch an old movie and simply check out of society and work for just one day.

But since we are in the process of getting our house ready to sell and I cannot miss a day of work to build a pillow fort, and hide on my couch, instead, I look to food.

A bowl of comforting, creamy-cheesy pasta sounds like the perfect cure.

And I’m not talking Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

The only kind of cheese that can light my fire and warm my soul, is the kind that tastes of faintly wine, is buttery soft, creamy, and oozing with such a deep rich flavor that makes me want to free fall into a it face first.

Serve with a slab of rustic bread, this recipe is the perfect supper for a cold and rainy spring evening.

Thank you again, for the recipe, my lovely Jamie Oliver. You are my hero.
Baked Camembert Pasta


• 8oz box of Camembert cheese
• 2 cloves of garlic, sliced into thin wafers
• 1 sprig fresh rosemary
• A glug or two of extra virgin olive oil
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound dried rigatoni (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
• 6 cups fresh spinach
• 4 oz parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Open the box of Camembert and unwrap it then place it back into the container. Score a circle into the top of the cheese skin and carefully peel away and toss. Peel and finely slice the garlic and layer over the cheese. Pluck the rosemary leaves off the woody stalk and sprinkle onto the garlic. Sprinkle some pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place the box of cheese onto a cookie sheet and put it into the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown, bubbly and melted.

Grate the Parmesan and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. When your cheese has 10 minutes left to cook, add the rigatoni to the pan and cook according to the package instructions. During the last 10 seconds, throw in the fresh spinach then drain all together in a colander. Drizzle with a couple good glugs of olive oil and sprinkle on the grated parmesan.

When the cheese is golden and melted, carefully remove from oven and pour over pasta...