a hot pot dinner

January 30, 2013
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Even before we'd planned any weekend activities, we knew we wanted to cook the majority of our meals in our listing. Hot pot was Norris and Kevin's idea-- they both brought up their portable pots and heating plates as well as the plethora of ingredients to toss in: spinach, carrots, rice noodles, tofu, thinly sliced beef and lamb, three types of mushrooms, and all the ingredients to make our garlic-green-onion-spicy-soy-sauce mix.

Once we prepped everything, it was just a matter of gathering around the pots to share and eat. The food was steamy and spicy and the perfect way to ring in our first night in Tahoe all together.

south lake tahoe

January 28, 2013
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Snow has always been a magical, foreign, slightly frightening thing to me. Even though I grew up within easy driving distance of Lake Tahoe, my family only went once or twice and I hardly remember it.

Having just driven up for a long weekend, I think it's something special. There's something about the way the cold radiates off the snow and makes everything so fresh. The way it blankets homes and cars and anything else that'll give it a chance. Even the way it encourages us to hurry on inside to get cozy.

I'm hoping to make a point of it to visit more often.

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January 25, 2013
I think our entire office would agree that Jessica is one of the most lively, eccentric people you could ever know. There have been times when I've glanced up from my desk and double took in her direction because she's wearing the most unique, most Jessica outfit you could imagine or she's in the middle of another Whitney dance routine.

So, you can imagine how fun this shoot was at the Legion of Honor. Mix in her beautiful curls and sweet wardrobe alongside golden hour and this is what comes to life.

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chocolate raspberry tart

January 16, 2013
This tart came to life purely for experimentation. Ashley and Dave had just finished making their coffee table (isn't it beautiful?) so we thought we'd christen it with powdered sugar and a photo shoot.

As much as I wish I was, I'm not the kind of person who can "just whip up something" from the only five random ingredients in a pantry. Ashley and I chose this recipe because of its aesthetic-- we knew the raspberries would pop against the dark chocolate and sugar. We wanted it to be decadent.

And while I wouldn't say that this was effortless, I will say that everything fell into place nicely. It felt like a composition, not a science.

It didn't taste bad, either.

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Chocolate Raspberry Tart
Inspired by Martha and Ashley's new table

8 ounces of your favorite cookie, crushed
two pinches of salt
6 tablespoons salted butter, melted
12 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 cups fresh raspberries
as much powdered sugar as you want

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine cookies and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Slowly add melted butter and pulse until the mixture starts sticking. After greasing your 8 or 9 inch tart pan, press the crumbs firmly into the dish to create a crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until set.

While the crust is cooling, bring the cream to a simmer in a small pot. Pour the cream over the chocolate in a large bowl and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture combines. Fold in a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart crust and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until set. Sprinkle with raspberries and powdered sugar.

lovers' view

January 14, 2013
lovers' view
I've been fortunate to have a handful of photo shoots so early in the new year but one of my favorite shots so far didn't come from a shoot at all.

We were only at the Sutro Baths for an hour or so but this sweet couple was there before we came and after we left. They looked so happy to be together, keeping warm with their front row view of the Pacific. Simple as that.

weather up

January 9, 2013
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I rediscovered these photos of Weather Up from my trip to Austin back in October. Jenna took me here and introduced me to the Williams Collins and later, our kind waiter suggested his own version of an Old Fashioned with ginger and mint (at least, I think that's what they were).

It was still early in the evening when we went but it was quiet and charming and refreshing to be two friends reunited and catching up over some damn good drinks.

the new year

January 7, 2013
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The very first day of this new year was spent half watching Parks & Recreation and half sharing a homemade dinner with new friends. I've made no resolutions except to do the best I can each day.

So far, this has led to cooking more, writing more, testing a new set of watercolors, and planning birthday surprises. And more Parks & Recreation (Leslie is my new idol).