Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Before and After

I took wedding photos for a friend a while back and really liked one of the photos - unfortunately, there was a sunburst right over the bride and groom's faces. Since I have been playing with da' PShop, I thought now was as good a time as any to see if I could salvage that photo.

Not perfect, but not bad, eh?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Before and After

I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop the other day, just to get a feel for how it works. So, if I am missing from the blog for the next 20-some-odd days, it is probably because I am spending my spare moments teaching myself how to edit photos while I have the free trial.

One of my first experiments - brightening up (with a few extra retouches) this adorable photo of one of my best girls and her man at their wedding.

Here is the before...

...and the after...

Also one of my first attempts at working with layers is a picture of, you guessed it, the little man.

I promise, something that resembles writing will be here again soon.

Listening to: Silence (Jonas is hangin' with his grandparents)
Current mood: Satisfied

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I've been spending the eve researching photo editing, software, etc... as I consider putting more time, effort, and one day when I have it, money, into photography. Next week I should be doing a maternity shoot for a friend, so I'll have more to put into a portfolio.

The idea of doing something I enjoy for pay is appealing, albeit a little frightening.

Having someone pay for your work is giving them the right to criticize it. Sometimes its nice to live in a world where people compliment what you do on the side because it's good...for being "on the side".

So we shall see.

I would have more to say, but I'm exhausted. Will post more soon...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Touch with My Roots, this is not a post about my hair. As exciting as a tragic run in with a bad dye job would be, I have to disappoint you.

But, being that most of you are foodies, I think you will recover quickly.

As mentioned in a previous post, Sunday I planned (and executed) a big family dinner. Most of the time, big dinners at my house are inspired by some Food Network, back issue of Gourmet amalgam, but this time my inspiration came from a little closer to home.

Having a Cuban father, I have fond memories attached to delicious dinners care of my Abuela (grandmother). I remember standing in the kitchen watching and listening to her create all sorts of wonders - the sizzle of hot oil, the rhythmic smashing of tostones, and the amazing aromas of slow cooking meats. Despite the language barrier (she never learned a ton of English, and I sadly know even less Spanish) I was most comfortable in her presence when she was cooking.

Despite these memories, I have never actually attempted a proper authentic Cuban meal. So I set about making a "pernil" - a slow roasted pork shoulder, along with tostones y maduros (green and ripe plaintains) and then a not quite Cuban dish, pigeon pea rice.

The pernil had to be he star of the dinner table, so I focused the bulk of my efforts on it. I focused so much, that I sadly have no pictures to share. But I will share the process.

Saturday early afternoon, I prepared the marinade. First, I threw about a dozen garlic cloves in the food processor, along with a bunch of cilantro (bunch as in the unit they are sold in, not as in "a lot"), and about a handful of fresh oregano. Pulse. Then, I set about accomplishing an upper body workout in the midst of my prep work by hand juicing 4 oranges and 4 limes. I tossed the juice in with the garlic mixture and pulsed a bit more. This was followed by a slow pour of about 2 cups of olive oil with the processor on.

Before pouring the marinade over the pork shoulder, I scored the thick skin at the top, and then made several deep stabs through the skin and into the meat. I placed the shoulder in a deep bowl and covered it in the marinade, making sure that the juices made their way into the deep gashes in the shoulder. The pork was now ready to be covered and hang in the fridge until Sunday morning.

So, Sunday morn arrives - at about 10:30 I heat the oven to 425. Once the temp is reached, I threw the pork and part of the marinade in the pan, leaving it on 425 for about 20 minutes, then knocking it back to 325 and covering with foil.

Throughout the day I would lift the foil, baste, and return the foil to its place.

I used the rest of the day to clean, prepare the pigeon pea rice*, the tostones/maduros and all the last minute things you do when having people over.

At about 4:30, I removed the foil and raised the temp to 375. I shut the oven off at 5:15.

The outer skin was dark, but not burnt and the house smelled amazing. I could only hope that it tasted as good as it smelled.

By time everyone had arrived, I was just finishing frying up the plaintains and the table was full with rice, warm buttered Cuban bread, watercress, tostones, maduros, sangria, and finally, the pork.

My brother was asked to carve only to find that the shoulder fell apart as you touched it with the knife. Plates were passed around as everyone got ready to eat.

And I held my breath.

I should take this moment to point out that my mom is a good cook. My brother is a good cook. My father and sister are particular eaters. Feeling like they were all happy with the meal was going to be a very big deal to me.

And then, there it was. The compliments. Sincere, honest "mmmm's" coming from all the aforementioned people. And people going back for seconds.

It made the day of cooking and cleaning completely worthwhile. That, and the fact that I was getting to eat it too. And it was, indeed, yummy.

I think I might have done my Abuela proud.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Tomorrow, the inaugural edition of Sloane is here!

Why am I excited?

Well, aside from the fact that it is a new eZine for the sophisticated, 30-something woman, I am a contributor.

(and there was much rejoicing)

So, friends, please take the time tomorrow to check out and tell your friends! Tweet, text, blog, bling. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One Delicious Step Back...

...or so I am hoping. At least the delicious part.

This is a brief post to rejoice in the fact that when I weighed myself this morning, I was 18 pounds down from where I started. I can almost say I have lost TWENTY pounds. Amazing.

I'm saying it now, since tomorrow we are having a family dinner here. I am making pernil (roast pork shoulder) with arroz de gandules (pigeon pea rice), as well as tostones y maduros (fried green and sweet plaintains). There will also be delicious Cuban bread, and a yet to be revealed dessert.

Given the work that will go into this, and the, what I hope to be, delicious results, I will be indulging.

So for the moment, while I do prep for tomorrow, I will rejoice in my weight loss progress, and prepare for a little gain to work off when Monday comes.

Listening to: Jaycel quietly watching TV as he holds a sleeping Jonas
Current Mood: Hopeful.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Losing It

Nearly a month later, here I am. Updating.

You would think that the lack of employment would mean some regularity in the blogging department, but alas, I continue to slack. In my defense, I am still taking care of a very mobile 8 month old. And when I AM on the computer, it's usually to job hunt. By the time I've finished perusing postings for positions that require extensive knowledge, experience, a bachelor's degree and oh, hey, can we pay you $9 an hour, I am not so much in the chatty bloggy mood.

But then, the guilts of leaving you all in the dark hit. So here I am.

I admit, I have good tidings to tell. I've lost some weight. More than some, actually.

Can you guess?

THIRTEEN pounds, ya'll. Yes. 13.

This is quite the accomplishment. In all my blogging days, I have never had this significant of a decrease. So, kudos to me. That's right. I am congratulating myself. It's the least I can do. Or the most, I guess, since for me celebrating accomplishments generally involve going out for a nice meal. Neither my wallet nor waistline can afford that, so instead, I'll pat myself on the back.

13 down. 17 to go.

Listening to: My Eyes from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Current Mood: Good!