September 25, 2011

Our Great Outdoors

Mike and I got the keys to our new rental home on a Sunday. And on Monday night, we brought our first of many carloads of our belongings to the new house. We also brought Taylor because we wanted to introduce him to the coolest thing about our new digs - the backyard.
Mike and I have both been city dwellers for quite some time now, each having lived in our fair share of apartments and condos over the years. So for us to finally have a space like this to call our own simply felt unreal.

In our old condo, I sometimes felt trapped because I couldn't ever just walk outside and lay in the grass. Sure our condo building had a courtyard, but I didn't want to be the shoeless, crazy lady laying in our building's shared space. My default excuse for heading outdoors for the past year has been walking the dog. But it's safe to say that we are all enjoying being able to lay (and play) outdoors on our little patch of greenery. (As I type this, Mike and T are wrestling in the backyard. It's a family past time these days.)
Since the new place is a little bit bigger than our condo was (understatement), we've had to do some furniture shopping. And while we still have two bedrooms upstairs without a lick of furniture, we've got all of the outdoor furnishings and decorations we could want.

Mike got a fancy new BBQ because Mike loves to barbecue. And I love to eat his barbecue, so we both win.

We also got an outdoor table and matching chairs. I can't tell you how much I have loved sitting out here. The few meals we've had at this table have been spectacular.

The thing I really got excited about though was the plants. We have plants! A few weekends ago, we drove to home depot and bought a bunch of baskets and flowers to put in them. I am giddy every time I see these little pops of color all over the yard.

We lucked out in the greenery department because our backyard came with a garden. We have tomatoes, cucumbers and banana peppers that grow like weeds.
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On Labor day weekend, I shucked some corn we got from a guy selling it by our local park, threw in some tomatoes and banana peppers from our garden and topped it off with a little salt, cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. This was one of the best salads I've ever eaten, and I think it's because close to half of the ingredients came from our very own backyard.

For a while, we thought we had squash as well. However I cut one of the "squash" open and found out it was instead a very yellow cucumber - one that we probably shouldn't eat. Some quick Googling lead us to realize this vine was either infected or we had simply let the cucumbers sit on the vine for two long. It didn't matter too much though. We found another use for them. They are now Taylor's favorite toys!
I am slightly sad because the season of walking around our backyard barefoot has already come to an end. We really only had a month to enjoy it. I also realize I bought a bunch of plants that will be lucky to make it a few more weeks. But after not having outdoor space for so long, I had to try and soak up all that we could from the backyard we now have. The great thing is that we'll have one more thing to look forward to next spring - replanting and spending more than just a month walking around barefoot in our very own backyard.

September 18, 2011

It Glows

I had a photo shoot yesterday, one that I am very excited to share, but just not yet.I've got a lot of pics to get through.

On my way home after the shoot from Grant Park back to the El, I walked by the famous Chicago Theater sign and since I had two cameras in hand, I had to take one out and a grab a few snaps.
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Man is my city gorgeous. And I am realizing I really should try and photograph it more at night. It literally glows.

Oh and the shoot I am so excited to share is with the one and only Jack! Get ready. _DSC2886w

September 11, 2011

I Will Never Forget

Ten years ago, I wrote these words in my journal:
I walked out of my room in a dreamy sleep to see the World Trade Center on fire, then flip to the Pentagon and it's the same picture. Over and over again, I see this plane fly right into the World Trade Center and then pieces of it flying out the other side. Then this giant fireball practically the size of the building flares up. It looks like a terrible scene in a movie. 
I am still not completely clear on everything that took place but I do know this: Members of the Taliban hijacked five U.S. planes today. Two were driven into the World Trade Center, one into each tower. I am not completely sure but I think they have both collapsed. I am certain one has. Another plane was driven into the Pentagon and a section of it has collapsed. Another plane may have gone down somewhere in Philadelphia. But I am not completely certain of anything because everything is in Spanish. The images were enough for me to comprehend that this was a tragedy of catastrophic proportions. 
Everyone has a 9/11 story. Mine just happens to be set on the shores of the Mediterranean coast in Spain. I was two weeks into my fall study abroad program on September 11th. In fact, I was midway through my afternoon siesta when my host mom burst into my bedroom to tell me "Come quick! Something terrible has happened in the U.S." I don't think I have ever been more filled with fear as I was walking toward the TV in my host mom's house.

Today is a day filled with tributes and remembrances, but it's not really anything I can relate too. My experience that day and the ones following it was so foreign. Literally. I didn't participate in food drives. I didn't donate blood. I didn't attend a candlelight vigil. I sat in my host mom's house crying and trying to make sense of it all, which at that point was no small feat since my Spanish was still pretty terrible.

But while I can't relate to the typical 9/11 experience, my memories of that day and that time are still incredibly vivid. And what I remember most vividly from that day and the days immediately after September 11 was the goodwill of the world.

I didn't go to class the day after Sept. 11. Me and my fellow American study abroad students holed up in one of the computer labs and watched CNN online for hours. Once we emerged from our collective grief and anger, we went back to class - our classes that were filled with students from Sweden, Germany, Japan, Russia and England. What happened in New York was too big not to talk about, so we did. In Spanish, we talked about what happened in the U.S. We talked about what the U.S. was going to do next. My fellow students expressed their sadness for us.  They asked if our families were ok. They asked if we knew anyone who worked in the World Trade Center. And most of all they said what happened was terrible and how terrible they felt for us Americans.

Being told "Something terrible has happened in the U.S." is the first memory I have of Sept. 11. The second took place a month later. It was shortly after the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan, and my class was having a discussion about the U.S. invading that country. An American student, from Texas, and a student from Sweden were debating the merits of my country's diplomatic strategy. The Texan was arguing that we needed to show the Taliban that we were going to defend our country, and that we don't let attacks on our innocent civilians go unpunished. We were teaching them and all terrorist harboring countries a lesson. The Swedish student countered "With bombs?" He questioned our actions. He said more innocent lives would be lost and there would be no end. And in that moment, I knew we had lost them. I knew all that instant goodwill my country built up on Sept. 11 was eroding. The rest of the world was looking at us differently than they had a month ago. I saw it on my classmates faces.

I don't want to debate the merits of the war in this space and the should we or shouldn't we have, and should we stay or should we go. But I do know this: Whenever I think of September 11, I think of the day in that classroom when I saw the world's respect for my country vanishing into thin air. And I always think how we could have done something so much better.

September 10, 2011


Moving has thrown a wrench into a lot of things. My blogging being one. As you all know, posting here has been sorely lacking as of late. But what's killing me most about that is that I have had all these great photo shoots with adorable, adorable children that I have not yet been able to share. I still want to blog all these shoots and hope that I'll also be able to blog all the great shoots I have coming up (which will also have a ton of cute kids). But in the meantime, it felt wrong to have all these awww-worthy photos just sitting on my hard drive. They had to be shared. So this post is nothing but gratuitous, cute kid photos.



I told you. Ca-uuuuuuuute kids. And I, of course, can't end this post without at least one gratuitous cute dog photo as well. The photo below was taken Labor Day weekend as Mike, Taylor and I hung out at the doggie beach on Saturday morning. My dog sure does love the beach. 
Doggie Beach Bum