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Lake McDonald | Glacier National Park

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To celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary, we are visiting the land of big skies and many lakes.

Our time spent during the long drive to Glacier National park was rewarded. Here is an iPhone shot of me from our camp on Lake McDonald. It’s an incredible place to camp, I’ll add, the water has been this glassy the whole time…

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Warming Inspiration

When flipping though the latest round of Anthropologie’s catalog and other various spring magazines, I couldn’t help but notice these pictures. Not only were the outfits fresh, light, and airy, but the photographs had an effortless beauty to them. I mean, seriously, don’t you just want to put on a billowy dress and join these girls in the glowing sunshine????

Mompos Dress, Windabout Heels, Winding Turns Shades

Walled City Blouse, Tayrona Necklace

On that note, I will grab a morning café and pretend I am spending a lazy day skipping around St. Tropez or some other dreamy place ready to strike an effortless pose at any time!


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The Balance Beam

Shan loves to do hand stands, it’s one of the many tricks left over from her youth as a competitive gymnast.  It’s been many years since she’d done her old beam routine but without any hesitation she jumped right up on the Venice Beach balance beam and got to it!  Me and many bystanders on the beach were very impressed with her skills.  She got some applause and an elderly man called it “just beautiful,” I agreed.

Of course there was just a bit of rust,

But don’t worry everybody, if you look closely she’s actually smiling during the fall.  After we dusted the sand off, she was good to go.

Recipe | Cranberry Soda Bread

I do not consider myself a chef, nor do I consider myself a cook. Rather, I think of myself as someone with a fantastic husband, who will eat anything I put on the table and praises me as a God when I do so – seriously lucky I know!

However, bread is something I have yet to have ANY success at making. I tried making this coconut chocolate bread a few months ago and I ended up with an incredibly hard disk of pure gross. I think it weighed close to five pounds but felt more like ten. I am not sure what happened, but it definitely scared me from attempting any sort of bread again.

I am happy to report my first bread success with this Irish Soda Bread (I even watched Ina make it in the video provided to pick up on any tips)! Because I could not find currants at the store, I used cranberries instead. I love almond flavoring, so I decided to add 1/4 teaspoon each of almond and vanilla extract for a little extra flavoring.

Adapted from Ina Garten Recipe

Ingredients
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, orange zest, vanilla, and almond together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the cranberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf.

Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe | Beer Battered Fish Taco’s

After all of the yummy holiday food, I was in the mood for something a little on the lighter side for dinner last night, so I opted for these fish tacos. I didn’t have much time to scour the internet for recipes because I was at the store when I decided to make these.  So, I searched Google for “fish taco” and went with the second recipe I saw (the first recipe was Bobby Flay’s and I figured it was probably to fancy for me).

I have never made fish taco’s before. I wasn’t sure which to buy cod or tilapia, so I bought a half pound of each. They turned out yummy and neither Ryan or I could tell the difference between the two fish, so perhaps we are just seriously lacking taste buds!

In addition to the sauce, I added chopped cilantro and green onions and topped them off with a drizzle of spicy salsa.

For the Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup beer

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Everything Else:
1 quart oil for frying
1 pound cod fillets, cut into 2 to 3 ounce portions
1 (12 ounce) package corn tortillas
3 Cups coleslaw mix

Directions
1. To make beer batter: In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Blend egg and beer, then quickly stir into the flour mixture (don’t worry about a few lumps).
2. To make white sauce: In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until consistency is slightly runny. Season with jalapeno, oregano, cumin, and cayenne.
3. Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4.Dust fish pieces lightly with flour. Dip into beer batter, and fry until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Lightly fry (or heat) tortillas; not too crisp. To serve, place fried fish in a tortilla, and top with shredded cabbage, and white sauce.

Costa Rica | Vol. 4 | The Wedding Finale!

Andy and Katie’s wedding at ‘Casa de Capitan’ was an incredible event and the finale of our trip. We had looked forward to the wedding day the whole week and we were happy to see that the event would be set in absolutely perfect weather. As the sun began to set we gathered on the beach and watched Katie, the gorgeous bride, come the down the aisle.

Sarah, Katrin, Vivian, Alexandra and Shan

Charlie and Me

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Anthony & Alex, Sarah and Brian

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The newly engaged.

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For the reception dinner, Shan and I were assigned to the “pantera” table.

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After the ceremony, the group enjoyed drinks and appetizers on the beach.  There could not have been a better setting.

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Fitz played a few a songs.

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The ceremony amongst the palms, the circular arrangement brought everybody close the action.

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The groom, very happy obviously.

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Mr. and (very soon to be) Mrs,

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And they’re married!

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First steps of many in a life together!

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Brian, Sarah, Katrin and Sten

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Shan, Kim, and Suzi

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The Father-Daughter dance was all time, a full, intense swing dance to Free Bird.  An instant classic.

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The Punta Coco clan, those who live together, party together and eat ‘Gallo Pinto’ together:

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This is scene looking towards the beach from the house and swimming pool, Marty, myself and Kevin.

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Flor de Cana a local rum,

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Dinner was first class, also first class were the “Shot-skis,” here the Curtis’s give a lesson in teamwork.

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Andy’s brother Erik, delivered a great speech.

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Some ‘Shot-ski’ races.

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The happy newlyweds.

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At midnight, Katie surprised Andy (and all of us) with a firework show! We were blown away!

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I really like the shot on the right here, it’s the Grand Finale on 20 second exposure hand held.  What you’re seeing on the bottom is the tent illuminated by the fireworks and framed by palm trees on both sides, quite an experience!

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Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Curtis!!!

Recipe | Kelsey’s Brownie Pie

This Thanksgiving, I was looking for something to make that was a little non-traditional, quick, and easy. I flipped through my cookbooks and decided on Kelsey’s Brownie Pie (similar to this recipe). I have been eating this dessert for many, many years, but I think I have only made it myself one time before! And in case you are wondering, Kelsey was the first to make this recipe so therefore she holds the right to name it!

Although the recipe calls for Cool Whip, I decided to make my own whipping cream instead and I have to say it turned out fantastic!

Kelsey’s Brownie Pie

1 package (19-21oz) Ghirardelli‘s Brownie Mix
1 Cup Cold Milk
1 Package (4 servings size) Chocolate Instant Pudding
1 Tub (8oz) Cool Whip or Homemade Whipping Cream*

 

1. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package.

2. Put in 9″ pie plate and bake at 325 about 40 minutes or until done. Cool completely.

3. Scoop out center of brownie with a spoon, leaving 1″ crust around edge and thin layer of brownie on bottom. Reserve brownie scraps.

4. Pour milk into medium bowl. Add pudding mix.

5. Beat with wire wisk until blended.

6. Gently stir in half of the whipping cream and all but a few brownie scraps (to sprinkle on top later).

7. Spoon pudding/whipped cream/brownie mixture into center of crust.

8. Top with remaining whipping cream.

9. Sprinkle with remaining brownie scraps.

10. Refrigerate 3 hours until ready to serve.

* for homemade whipping cream (1 pint cold heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat together until peaks form).
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2nd Annual Thanksgiving Photoshoot | Sneak Peek

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend and enjoyed a little to much home cooked food to be comfortable! Here is a quick peek from our 2nd Annual Thanksgiving vacation photoshoot. Stay tuned for more…and yes, that little house fan in the corner magically became a wind machine!

 

 

Untraditional Thanksgiving

The beach is just a part of our life here is Los Angeles and these pictures are a perfect example of that. As much as I have always hoped to one day spend a Thanksgiving among the beautiful east coast trees full of orange, red, and golden leaves, I am a California girl and here in Los Angeles, we have an endless summer made up of palm trees, sand, and light weight scarfs that eventually leave you sweating because it just isn’t hot enough to actually need one. Sad, but true.

This all leads me to our Thanksgiving morning which began with a walk on the beach and a quick surf in the Pacific Ocean before heading to the grandparents for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. While it may not be what most people envision for Thanksgiving morning, it was our morning. Spending it enjoying this beautiful land that God created for us to enjoy with lots of family and laughter – now that is something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Let the Good Times Roll! Happy Birthday Charlie!

It has been a big month for our buddy Charlie, awesome new job, big move to San Diego, his super beautiful girlfriend said “YES” and is going to marry him!…

and…

…to top it off…

…she and his cousin threw him an awesome SURPRISE PARTY!  He is on a roll! Shan and I are so happy for both Vivian and Chuck, they couldn’t be better people…Congratulations!!!

Kudos to Annie, Vivian and Cafe Bugaloo for putting together a great night!

To view a small slide show click here.

Captured sunbather – Coolest picture I’ve seen all day

PHOTO BY: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

June 22, 1978: Marine Reservists during a training amphibious landing at Coronado capture one spectator — a Navy specialist getting some rays after planting dummy explosives.
More than 700 Leatherneck Reservists from eight states from came ashore during their annual two-week training. They spent a full week in amphibious training before the simulated landing.
Five Marine landing photos by Los Angeles Times staff photographer Robert Lachman were published the next day. Four photos were used on an inside page and the other on Page One.

1st Anniversary Road Trip – Day 1 – Havasupai Point, Grand Canyon AZ

To celebrate our first anniversary Shan and I decided to visit the Grand Canyon and Utah over Labor day weekend.  From Los Angeles we planned to go straight to Havasupai Point, as rather shockingly, neither of us had ever been to the Grand Canyon.   The long drive went by quickly because we were blown away by the areas beauty.

Off highway 180 before entering the Grand Canyon national park, we left the highway at FS road 328.  It was smooth sailing till we got to the closed gate  marking Havasupai reservation land.  The guard shack was pretty creepy, burned out mattresses, empty bottles, cattle skulls, lots of trash and an atv on blocks with no wheels.  Fortunately nobody was there to take our $25 so we continued on, the road entered a  beautiful meadow and we saw cattle and even a wild horse.  We made a right on Prairie wash road the landscape changed to forest and the road narrowed a bit.

At this point we hadn’t gotten a glimpse of the Grand Canyon and we were getting antsy.  I didn’t plan for the dirt roads to last 2 hours.  Our  patience paid off big time, we reached Havasupai Point and the view of the Grand Canyon was spectacular! Wow, what a place! To my surprise we had the whole place to ourselves, in fact we didn’t see anybody else the whole road in, the whole time we were there or the road out!

We snapped some pictures of the sunset and Shan whipped up some tasty jambalaya.  This place seemed incredibly quiet, I remember how loud the airplanes were thousands of feet above, before the crickets started it was the only audible sound.  Dusk, quickly became a black night lit by countless stars which were equally impressive when compared to the views from the cliff.  Neither one of us were used to the remote and isolated feeling of this place so it was a bit creepy.  We awoke just before 6am for the sunrise, snapped some pics, packed up with the intent of stopping by the Grand Canyon NP and heading to Toroweap.  Although, night 1 was a bit more adventure than we bargained for it was a great start to the trip!

Surprise Dodger Date Night!

My wife is awesome!

She recently surprised me with Dodger tickets for no other reason than being nice.  Being married definitely has it’s perks!

The Dodgers beat the Mets 2-0 behind a Matt Kemp home run in an exciting game (keep in mind, this was a few weeks back before they gave away all hopes of making the playoffs).

To top things off, Shan got her first foul ball in a manner I’m not sure ever will be duplicated.  The ball came in at  a trajectory to our left and the crowd all moved that direction, at the last second it deflected off the 2nd deck and shot directly down into her beer! Which was in the cup holder! The most amazing part is that beer splashed everybody around, except for Shan! Amazing!  Great night on the town and a souvenir, I’m a lucky guy!

Shan & the Dandelion

Shan and I hadn’t been to Santa Barbara since our engagement so we were excited to visit. This time we had a great reason to celebrate! One of our best buds, Mike found out he passed the Bar exam so we rushed up the 101 to congratulate him personally.   We had a dinner on State Street and stayed out late enjoying our old favorite bars, I love that place.  Huge dinner, lots of a drinks, a few bars and a slice of pizza after last call it was a great night!  During a walk around town and I was able to get this shot of Shan in a moment of observance, a split second before the inevitable.

Brooks & Dunn at Club Nokia

Last night Shan and I saw what was without a doubt the  best concert I’ve ever seen!

Brooks & Dunn played in what may have been their last performance ever in California.  They sung a full set of songs and sounded incredible from start to finish.  Close quarters, small headcount and their contagious energy made for an encapsulating atmosphere.  Brooks & Dunn’s set mixed their upbeat songs with their emotional ones and they involved the crowd the whole time.  The emotional highlight of the night was during “Only in America” when three uniformed soldiers marched out and stood facing the crowd at the front edge of stage.  For the duration of the song they stood still and tall saluting the crowd and then during the last  chorus, red, white and blue streamers exploded and covered all the onlookers.

The event was hosted by Toyota and held at Club Nokia at LA Live in Los Angeles as an add on to their farewell tour. The venue only seats about 2,000 people was an intimate place to see such a renowned band.  Toyota gave free tickets to owners who responded back to an email, and provided free food and drinks to all.  My 4runner has been perfect so this was gravy, thanks Toyota! Click here for a slideshow.

We were lucky enough to get a bunch great pictures, to view them bigger and better please click here.

Where the rubber hits the road

In eighth grade I discovered blue Kryptonic skateboard wheels and I’ve been happily rolling around on them ever since.  I remember buying my first set from E.T. Surfboards in Hermosa Beach, CA.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ve been loyal to any one product for longer. Soft, but not too soft, big, but too big and just the right grippiness for my mix of carving and powerslides.

Whether I’m doing hill section runs, bouncing around UCSB’s campus or schlepping myself from my parking garage to my downtown LA highrise, these wheels have never let me down.  

Every now and then throughout history…

…a genius creates something that is timeless.

Something that is so indisputably timeless and cool that anybody who has ever experienced [said timeless item] has a story of hilarious and gleeful admiration. And the story follows this pattern.

{enthusiastic & loud voice} “No No No….MY [said timeless item]…was terrible it had [insert long list of faults] and it couldn’t [insert long list of limitations] but it had more personality in its [insert small component] than my [insert said timeless item’s replacement] whole being. Every single time it would [story detailing one of the faults that is both unbelievable and hilarious.]

{somber & much quieter voice} One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was [selling said timeless item]. If I could do it all over it again, I would have saved [said timeless item], perhaps restored it. I would have cherished it to this day, man was I stupid for getting rid of [said timeless and genius item].

So here is my story of my timeless and genius possession:

No No No….MY tan ’72 Volkswagen Squareback was terrible it had a starter that wouldn’t work for months, a passenger window that wouldn’t roll down and no CD player. It couldn’t even ride at freeway speeds because the brakes required pumping to stop at any speeds over 40 mph and the wheel bearings were shot so if my speed ever broke 50 mph the “wobble of death” would scare me and my passengers “to death.” That car had more personality in its soft leather shift knob than my 4runner’s whole being. Every single time I had to turn left into oncoming traffic I had to use a hand signal because the front blinker was gone. That’s right, just a hole in the body where the blinker once was…it was cool though, that’s where I stashed my keys when I went surfing.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was selling that car for $600 bucks. Even though I didn’t need a car to attend UCSB, if I could do it all over it again, I would have saved my squareback and fixed it’s ailments and maybe even restored it. I would have cherished it to this day, man was I stupid for getting rid of VW.

I know this isn’t a Squareback, but equally cool, the Bug that reminded of my timeless and genius car.

Marco Polo Softball

Shan and I play co-ed softball once a week on a team with our closest friends, it’s something that I look forward to every week.  Between the mens league and the coed I am basically playing all year round.  This years team in a mix of newcomers and veterans and it’s a blast.  Each week we get better and better.  Last game we lost a tough one coming back from a nine deficit only to lose by two runs…and get this…we had the bases loaded and two out when the game ended.  (The pictures below are from last week’s loss.)

Coming off such a tough loss tonight we came out with great energy and had one of the best all-around games in Marco history.  We won handily and everybody contributed with all around strong defense and timely hitting.  Highlights of the game included strong outfield play by Andy, nice defense by Katie and 3 timely RBIs by our girl batters. As manager, I was proud. –Can’t wait for next week MARCO!

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Sushi Night!

As a newly married couple we do adult things like go out with other married folks and couples.  Last Friday was a good example, we started the night over at Chris & Kim’s where they hosted a ridiculous spread of hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer.

Friends, great food and the HBO Larry Bird and Magic Johnson special made it near impossible to make our 9pm sushi reservation (we were 30 minutes late).   Did you know that Magic and Larry played on the USA national team before they became NBA stars?  I also didn’t realize what Larry Bird dealt with in terms of back pain, what a warrior!

Unfortunately, it’s almost never that we get to hang with our besties from Santa Barbara, and enjoy a night out. We indulged on two sushi super boats, each with about 100 pieces of sushi.  The night ended where it started, with an adult sleepover.  We all like fun.

5 dangerous things all kids should do!!

I stumbled across this speech and it’s great!

Kids today seem to be WAY to sheltered and it’s too their own detriment.  How could a man ever be able to work on a car, do a home project, start a campfire if they aren’t allowed to work with tools as a boy?  The answer is simple, they won’t be able too.

I thank my parents for exposing me to four of the five (as yes, I type this with ten fingers and see the screen with two eyes).   I’ll have to talk to them about the fifth.

The Ericson Wedding in Austria!

I had the honor of being a groomsman in Sten and Katrin’s wedding.  To add to the excitement, the event took place in Going, Austria, in January!

Unfortunately, Shan and I had used up most (ok, all) of our vacation time on our own wedding and honeymoon which meant we couldn’t plan a proper European vacation.  This caused the trip to be a total whirlwind for me, one day traveling from LAX to Munich and one day back, and in between three and of half days of action.  It was quite a way to visit Europe for the first time!

It took about 20 hours of flights, delays and layovers to get to Munich, from there it was an hour an forty five minute train ride and forty minute taxi ride to get to the town of Going.  My taxi driver didn’t know the address and didn’t speak English so we were lost.  We turned down and unmarked alley and what did we see?! My friends! A group of Californians walking to the local market in Austria! Got to love the town of Going, for too many reasons to list actually but the small town feel was incredible.

This was the view looking off the back balcony upon my arrival.

A quick chat with Ligget and a beer later, it was time for Sten and Katrin’s rehearsal dinner.  It was hosted in an incredible chateu-like hotel, I really dug all the unfinished wood. I was blown away by the talents of local carpenters.  The included drinks and the best beef I’ve ever eaten, the speeches were heartfelt and memorable.  Catching up with friends was a blast.

The next day we took a snow hike and saw some of the best views of my life.  The path was covered in fresh snow so the whole hike we didn’t see any footprints.  It was the best!

Then came the big day! It was time to get ready with groomsman.  It was just a few months prior that the roles were reversed and Sten was one of my groomsman in my wedding so I knew exactly what was going through his mind.  We shared a few stories and threw on the coats and ties (the less manly groomsman also wore long underwear as it was ~zero degrees that day).

Sten and a particularly special groomsman, his father.

The wedding was incredible, unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me.  It was at town of Going’s church right in the middle of the city.  The pictures below are from the town of Kitzbuhel were the reception was held in a very posh hotel.  Congratulations to the Ericson’s, your wedding was awesome!!

I now have the desire to go back, there was so much I didn’t see and do, and this time Shan is coming with me!