Vietnamese Date Night

We still don’t know why we call it date night – I mean, every night is date night when you don’t have kids.  Right?

Nick had this crazy idea that we should try and replicate our faves from Vietnam. It was actually much easier than you’d think, thanks to a really random Asian mall not far from our house!

We started the day with sweetened condensed milk in our iced coffee.  It’s amazing.  I recommend trying it.  It’s the perfect blend of sugar and cream.

That night, we tried to find our favorite dish from Hanoi.  It was good, but still not the same :(

We finished off the night with “cheap” foot massages – which are really fully body massages where you stay fully clothed and bubble tea!

 

Wedding Season 2015 is (almost) in the books

I started this “little” side hustle in early 2013 without really knowing what to expect.  To say I am pleasantly surprised is probably a bit of an understatement.

30+ weddings later, Brooke and Bryn Photography is turning out to be a pretty legit operation.  We even have business licenses, insurance and pay taxes (none of which make me “happy” – since giving away money is sort of the opposite of what we’re trying to do! But they are definite indicators that we are playing with the big kids).

We are just wrapping up delivery on our last 2 weddings and family sessions, and already starting on engagement sessions for our 2015 couples.  Is this for real?

I had originally planned on posting my favorite pictures from every wedding this year.  And then I remembered, our pro blog is seriously neglected during the wedding season and could probably use a “best of 2014″ post.  So instead, I decided to grab some of my fave non-wedding shots!  Enjoy!

I shot a sweet-sixteen party at a yacht club in Marin and brought Nick along as my 2nd shooter.  The cake was delicious.  We ended up getting quite a bit to take home.  Perks!

sweet sixteen san francisco marin photography This family just adopted a little puppy and wanted to document the puppy-ness in all its glory.  I can’t wait for the “now and then” re-shoot where she’s the same size but the boxer is 4 times as tall!  Cuteness overload for sure.

2014-Nick and Nicole-0096-2-X2 Senior photos underneath my favorite tree.

2014-Morgan-0007-X2 I had danced with Tory for a couple of years.  We were often “partnered” due to our similar heights.  I’m nowhere near as graceful and flexible as she, but was pretty pumped to do a ballet themed senior photo shoot!

2014-Tory-0115-2-X2 Took this shot at a friends wedding.  Succulents as bouquets = genius.

2014-Jen-Austin-0004 Little Sophie.  She never fussed.  But it took her quite some time before she finally closed her eyes and napped.  What a doll.

2014-Schmidt-1052-X2 Can you believe Lindsay has 4 kids?!  She looks amazing, right?!  Lindsay and I actually went to kindergarten together.  Yes.  Kindergarten.  Her beautiful fam recently moved to the bay area and I was so excited (and slightly nervous) to capture her family of 6!  The kids were amazing and so much fun!

2014-Soetaert-Family-0030-2-XL think this may be my favorite picture. So many stars had to align for this to work – and it was one of the last shots of the day.

livermore family photography And this little beauty from a wedding cruise around the bay (this time as guests!).

2014-Aubrey-Jonathan-0226-X2 And this last one just cracks me up.  I don’t always realize how I look to others when I’m taking photos.

2014-Aubrey-Jonathan-0040-X2 It’s been a really crazy ride thus far and I can’t wait to see what 2015 holds!

Did I ever tell you about that time I got a speeding ticket?

My first one ever.

What can I say?  31 has been rough.

Back in August, I was in Idaho for a friends wedding.  It was our first day in town – literally, we’d only been there for maybe 4 hours.  I had offered to rent the car and was driving us to dinner.  On the freeway.  And was going my normal (CA) speed.  Yep.  Speed limits are (apparently) slower in Idaho.  Which is sort of ironic since there’s fewer people and wider roads.  But I digress.

I came around a corner and immediately saw the highway patrol man jump on his motorcycle and speed after me.  At this point I realized my mistake.

He told me I was going 70 (on the freeway…did I mention I was on the freeway?).  And I said ok.  And he handed me a ticket and told me to “slow down” and then he paused and added “a little.”

I was free to contest the ticket…..3 weeks later…..in Idaho.  Thanks, Idaho.  I’ll stay in CA.

So that’s the story of my first speeding ticket.  Knock on wood!

It was probably a blessing in disguise as we had to drive a ways into the country for the wedding – lots of country roads mixed with tiny towns (aka speed traps).  And since I was not about to get another ticket, I used cruise control and kept that needle about 1MPH under the actual speed limit.  Happy to report I escaped the rest of my trip without another ticket.  But it’s safe to say I have no desire to visit Idaho again :)

 

Kid Parties

It finally happened.

I now go to more kid parties than adult parties.  Luckily, I enjoy kid things more than the average adult.

Saturday was a busy busy day.  My sis was in town and my 2 good friends were BOTH hosting birthday parties for their littles!  They were conveniently scheduled so as not to conflict – this meant 2 crazy parties for this girl!

The day started early at Parti Palooza.  I’m still unclear why they spelled it with an “i”.  It’s a big space filled with inflatable bouncy houses and slides.  While not quite as fun as the trampoline park, it was still a good workout and the kids enjoyed it (as did the adults).  The party ended with a really large blow up throne for the birthday boy to sit in – and lots of pizza, gold fish, sugar and more sugar!

After the party we had a little time to relax before heading to support Nick’s Ted Talk (more on that another day!).  Then it was time for the superhero themed movie night.  And since they were showing The Incredibles, I had no choice but to wear my Incredibles costume from college.  Yes, I saved it.  For this very occasion.  Did I mention that out of 20+ people, only 2 others were in full costume.  They were both under the age of 5.

The movie night was a success and everyone decided we needed to do this more often.  And everyone also learned why The Incredibles is one of my favorite movies!

“Honey!  Where is my super suit!?”

I have a confession to make….

I have no idea what a copy editor/writer does.

I once met a copy editor/writer and I asked, “so what do you do?”

Response: “I write copy”

Wow.

If someone asked me what I did, I wouldn’t say, “I mechanically engineer”

I think I may have figured it out.  If I replace the word “copy” with the word “words”, does it have the same meaning?  Is it a fancy way for someone to say, “I write words” or “I’m a writer”?

Ok, that’s all for Wednesday.  Oh, and happy birthday, Nick :)

I made him peanut butter chocolate cupcakes yesterday (from a box).  I was all set to be the awesome, yet underachieving wife by making boxed cupcakes.  And then I realized….I forgot to buy frosting.  So last night, I made frosting from scratch.

At the time of this writing, Nick was still at softball and cupcakes had not yet been consumed.  But the peanut butter filling was delicious…..and I can follow directions….so I imagine they will be amazing!

 

Pictures of the dog

You’ve been warned. (Getting back at it, and starting easy)

That day he hoarded all his toys and fell asleep in them.

Mean muggin’

Licking my face.

Licking Nick’s head.  He LOVES to do this.  We call it “puppy healing salve”

Being annoyed that I’m holding him.

Car selfies and my new gratitude journal – 4 days strong!

Awesome Night Out

**Meant to hit the publish button a few weeks ago…..apparently I didn’t.

Last Friday was fun.  Like really fun.

I had decided I wanted to go to a trampoline park for my birthday.  We couldn’t get any takers, so we decided to head there on our own!  This is the 2nd time we’ve visited Rockin’ Jump and it was just as awkward as the first. We walk through the front door and are asked, “So, what are you here for?”

Um…..to jump on your trampolines?

At this point, I’m mildly embarrassed that I’ve shown up in full workout attire, complete with headband/sweatband.  But whatever.  It’s a good workout.

The place was EMPTY, which was awesome for us.  No little kids to avoid.  We practiced our dunking skills on the basketball hoops and our flips into the foam pit.  And just for shits and giggles, I proved I could still do a lovely middle split.  I should really work on relaxing my face.

There were ulterior motives behind the trampoline park.  Yes, we love jumping on trampolines.  But we also had a birthday burger to devour (sign up to get YOUR free birthday burger).  So I was burning my calories pre-burger.

Red Robin holds a special place in our hearts.  It was THE place to hang out in high school – where I’d split an order of clucks and fries with a friend, and always order extra fries (I’m sure the servers hated us!).  It’s where I celebrated my 16th (surprise) birthday!  And the original Red Robin was just a block away from our college dorm.

I get that people think it’s a dive-y place to go and they view it similar to applebees (which it’s totally not).  It’s clearly the Target of restaurants!

After we enjoyed our Red Robin burgers, we headed to movies in the park.  California really loves its outdoor movies and it was Kung Fu Panda night in San Ramon!  Done!

We grabbed some skittles and junior mints from Safeway and headed to the park with our camping chairs (joined by a friend from work, who shares our love of kid movies).

All in all, it was a wonderful evening.  Highly suggest the trampoline park to everyone!  Great exercise and tons of fun!

And now I”m off for a whirlwind of travel – weddings and work and more weddings!  Taking my vitamins and chugging emergen-c

The Best Eggplant Dish I’ve Ever Made

Those may or may not have been Nick’s words.  Either way, he liked it!  Which is a far cry from the time I asked him to grab eggplant, pasta sauce, cheese, and bread crumbs (for eggplant parmesan) from the store, and he conveniently forgot to get the eggplant.

Sunday morning was our weekly-ish pilgrimage to Costco.  We live 2 minutes from the store, but must be gluttons for punishment.  We always go on the weekend.  When we’re hungry.  Without a list.

We headed to Costco with 3 things on our mental list: eggs, a chicken, and broccoli.  That’s it.  We only have to feed ourselves for a few days this week, so the list was light.

Naturally we walked away with: eggs, a chicken, broccoli, raspberries, avocados, snapea crisps, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, tomatoes and eggplant.

Don’t. Go. To. Costco. Hungry.

But this leads me to today’s post.  The tomatoes and eggplant.  It just sounded good.  Which is totally random.  But trust me, it’s probably the “meatiest” vegetarian dish I’ve ever made.  We ate it as a veggie side, but it would also be good as a sauce.

Here goes!

Ingredients

2lbs tomatoes (I like the campari)
4 medium sized eggplants (Costco sells a bag with 4, that’s what I used)
5 garlic gloves, crushed
1/2 cup diced onions
3 Tbs olive oil
5 or so leaves of basil

1.  Dice the eggplants (0.5-1″ cubes), salt (1-2Tbs) and let sit in a colander for at least 1 hr (fill a slightly smaller bowl with water or cans or anything heavy, and put it over the eggplant to help get even more liquid out)
2.  Dice the tomatoes and scoop out as much of the “guts” as you can, lightly salt (1tsp) and let sit in a colanger to drain
3.  When you’re ready to make the dish, rinse the eggplant well.  Then pat/squash dry with paper towels.  4.  Combine tomatoes, eggplant, garlic and 2 tbs of oil.  Layout on a jelly roll pan.  Bake at 375 for 40 min.  Toss half way through.
5.  Saute onions and remaining olive oil.  Combine with roasted tomato/eggplant.
6.  Serve with thinly sliced basil as garnish

31

It’s decidedly less exciting than 30.  There’s no bigger fuss than going from a -9 to a -0!

But it’s still fun because it’s the number of flavors at Baskin and Robbins – literally the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the number 31.

It’s been a crazy year to say the least, but I’ve learned a few things along the way.

1. If you can spend 5+ weeks traveling in Asia with your hubs and return home still enjoying each others company, you chose your partner well.

2.  Read the dimension description before buying something on Amazon.  I have bought 3 different items on amazon and they all showed up much bigger than I realized they would be.  Or, maybe amazon should force people to hold a dollar bill or a yard stick in all the pictures to show scale.  Or maybe I should read things more carefully.

3.  You can never have too many stamps.

4.  Don’t underestimate the power of a starbucks card and a hand written note.

5.  If you wait too long to wash your (black) car, and then you wash it, you won’t be able to find it in a parking lot (true story).  Moral of the story?  Never wash your car.  Ever.

6.  Gymnastics at 30 is just as much fun as gymnastics at 6.  But the soreness factor increases with age.

7.  Flying business class is amazing.

8.  I still like gluten.  And that’s fine.  I especially like it in bread, pasta and cake form.

9.  Max out the memory on your computer/laptop.  Just do it.  You’ll regret it if you don’t.

10.  You can get awesome bonuses with credit cards (just remember to pay them off on time – the bonus isn’t worth it if you carry a balance).

11.  Sometimes 2 pieces of cake sounds like a good idea.  Sometimes it isn’t.  For me, it usually isn’t.

I came home to a red velvet cake, 1 day early.  Nick said it was for the surprise factor.  No one expects cake the day BEFORE their birthday.  He got me.  And yes, it was delicious.  I may have had 2 slices :)

Gymnastics

So…..when I was little, I wanted to be Mary Lou Retton, the famous Olympic gymnast (yeah, I probably just dated myself).  I took gymnastics for a few years, but switched to ballet before 2nd grade.

A few weeks ago, a co-worker casually mentioned she was taking an “Acro” class in town.  Intrigued, I had her explain a bit more.  As far as I can tell, acro is the floor portion of gymnastics.  No beams, bars or vaults.  Just tumbling and stretching.

Since the first class was free, and I’m always looking for a new work out, I took it for a spin last Wednesday.

We started out with some stretches and a few pushups/situps.  No biggy.

Then we quickly transitioned to left/right/middle splits……

Then it was onto handstands.

Then tuck and rolls.

Then handstands into tuck and rolls.

Then backward rolls.

Then cartwheels.

I’m totally serious…..

Then roundoffs.

Goodness.  It got serious real fast.

And then the couch announces, “Anyone practicing roundoff back-hand-springs, stay here.  Anyone practicing front-hand-springs, over there.”  I literally had no idea what to do.  I can’t do either……I had to ask, “so….which one is easier?”  Front-hand-springs it was!

To their credit, we moved slowly and used lots of soft cushions to land on.  I never landed on my feet, but that’s totally cool.  We even through in a few front tucks (I landed all on my rear).

Then it was the ab workout from hell.  2 days later, I still couldn’t situp without an assist.

I literally hurt from my nose to my toes.  The muscles in my neck were tight, my shoulders, abs, and legs were tired and I think my big toe got a little stubbed at some point.  As of Sunday night, I was close to 80%.

But it was super fun and I hope to be back soon! (Mom is still concerned I’ll get hurt :) )

Happy Monday!