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Personal | Mason Jars: Not Just For Jam (or Weddings!)

Alright, alright – I’ll admit it. Like with most fads and popular things, I was skeptical of mason jars. Perhaps even avoidant. In my neck of the woods, mason jars scream HIPSTER. I can’t be ruining my street cred by drinking out of these things or adorning my apartment with them, ya heard?

(I know, I’m so silly – I claim to be super rational, but sometimes my logic is beyond absurd. Case in point, right here.)

However, sometimes I actually DO give in to the trend when it makes sense to. But always on my own time (i.e. well after the fact). Last weekend, when I was visiting my sister in Boston, we were making glogg and I went into her cabinet to fetch some spices and – lo and behold – they were stored in cute little mason jars, labeled in chalk on a little strip she painted with blackboard paint. And at that moment, I said to HELL with my street cred. I knew that as soon as I returned home, I had a new project on my hands.

First of all, how amazing is the idea of chalkboard paint?! I would paint my whole wall with it if I could (in fact, I probably WILL someday, when I’m living somewhere more permanent). And second, you don’t even KNOW the annoyance I’ve experienced over my extensive spice collection. We have SO MANY bottles of spices, but nowhere to put them so they just sit in a cluster taking over half of our countertop. All of the bottles are different, and many won’t fit in spice racks. The walls around the counter are tiled, so installing a shelf isn’t even an option. Simply put, it’s a big tacky mess:

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Gross, right? ENTER THE MASON JAR PROJECT. Thanks to google, I had a pretty good idea of how to go about doing this. Last week, I scrambled to get a few materials before the weekend:

– a dozen 4 oz mason jars (@ Fishs Eddy)
– blackboard spray paint (@ Home Depot)
– painter’s tape (@ a local dollar store)
– chalk (@ Duane Reade)

I went a little spray-crazy and it looked like this:

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And here’s what our counter looks like now!:

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I didn’t have enough mason jars to house all of our spices, so there may be a Part 2 soon to come. Still, this is such an improvement from before, right?

And you might be wondering – what place does this cute little arts & crafts project have on a professional wedding photography blog? Easy – MASON JARS AT WEDDINGS!! Mason jars have become super prevalent as wedding decor. How awesome would it be to do a similar project for place settings at your wedding? Just buy a bunch of 12 oz jars, paint a strip (or some other shape) with chalkboard paint, and write each guest’s name on a jar. A quick search on pinterest (another trend I’m avoiding, by the way) yields countless possibilities. DO IT!!

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(grabbed this from Pinterest, linked from Style Me Pretty)

Travel Photography | Summer 2012 Adventures

Summer in NYC is quite possibly one of my favorite things ever. Yes, ever. It’s by far my favorite time of year. Unlike a lot of people, I LOVE the heat. I will rock tank tops and flip flops well into the fall, never wanting to accept that summer is over.

BUT – I can attest to the fact that NYC can be grossly humid in the summer. Thus, it’s normal for there to be a lull in my wedding season around this time of year. I’d imagine that getting married while having to contend with such extreme weather is not exactly ideal. WAY too much sweat happening, I think!

But it’s cool – while the weddings slow down a bit, I get more time to enjoy my precious NYC summer. I found myself at the beach more than ever before – not just THE beach, but multiple beaches, all over the place. Oh, and there were a few camping trips, and some rock climbing, and boating going on, too.

More specifically, I found myself in Fire Island of NY, Cape Cod in MA, the Outer Banks of NC, and the White Mountains of NH. And when I wasn’t traveling, I was frolicking around NYC, camera in tow of course :)

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Personal | Recipe: Vegan Lasagna with Sausage & Peppers

“Shan, you’re silly”, I told my sister. “Why do you have to cook something when we’ve already got eggplant and manicotti and roast beef and twice-cooked potatoes and… [insert 5 more Christmas dishes here]?”

“Trust me”, she insists. “This vegan lasagna is AMAZING.”

I thought to myself, yeah ok… I don’t even really care for lasagna. But we’ll see.

And so we drove around town on Christmas Eve, hitting up various (super)markets before they closed for the holiday, in search of nutritional yeast and sundried tomatoes and other semi-obscure ingredients. (We also may have picked up and consumed an entire tub of hummus and bag of falafel chips while driving home, but it’s fine.) And that night, she cooked the lasagna while I… did something other than spend 2 straight hours in the kitchen.

On Christmas Day, I promised her I’d try her lasagna. I soon declared it The Most Amazing Thing I’ve Ever Had Outside Of A Restaurant. 90% of my Christmas meal was this lasagna. 100% of the leftovers I brought back to NYC was this lasagna. 100% of said leftovers were consumed within 20 minutes of me getting home that night.

Don’t you see? This vegan lasagna is straight-up MINDBLOWING. And this is coming from someone who is neither vegan, nor a fan of lasagna.

I am, however, some degree of a fan of Alicia Silverstone, whose website provided this delectable recipe… which I am going to include below with a few snaps I took of my first attempt at this dish. If you do nothing else with your life, please just try this recipe! Or have someone else have at it while you sample the finished product. Everyone MUST experience this amazingness!

Ingredients

1 box of whole wheat or brown rice lasagna noodles
1 (16-ounce) box of frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze excess water out
2 (26-ounce) jars of vegan marinara
4 vegan Italian “sausages” cut into cubes
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Vegan shredded cheese (enough to sprinkle on top only)
1 lb. extra firm tofu
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste
4 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes
1 cup (a few huge handfuls) chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. dried oregano

Instructions

To Make:
brooklyn photographerPress water out of tofu by wrapping in a clean towel, and placing a pot or pan on top for about 10-20 minutes. Crumble the tofu in a bowl, and add lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, sea salt, black pepper, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, and dried oregano. Using a potato masher, smash up the tofu really well until it resembles ricotta cheese in texture. Set aside until ready to use.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with 2 Tbsp olive oil to a boil, and cook noodles according to package. (You probably won’t need the whole package. Take however many noodles will fit across the dish and multiply by 3). Cook them for a few minutes less than suggested so that they can finish cooking in the oven. When noodles are done cooking, drain and rinse in cold water.

While the noodles are cooking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a saute pan, and saute sausage a few minutes. Use a wooden spoon to help crumble the sausage into slightly smaller pieces. Add 2 jars of marinara sauce and 2 chopped green peppers to the pan, and let simmer about 10 minutes.

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To Assemble:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a rectangular pyrex glass dish, start layering your lasagna. Start by adding a little sauce on the bottom, then a layer of noodles, then sauce, spinach, tofu ricotta, a layer of noodles, sauce, spinach, ricotta, a layer of noodles, and then end with sauce and cover the top with shredded vegan cheese (you should have 3 layers of noodles). Cover top of dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 10 minutes until cheese melts a little on top. Let cool 5 minutes before eating.

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Personal | Happy Holidays!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

I can’t get over how funny this picture is. Clearly my cat wanted nothing to do with it :P

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Personal | Down & Dirty Mud Run 2011

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Last weekend, I did the Down & Dirty mud run at Orchard Beach. We all know how I feel about racing (does the accidental half-marathon ring a bell?), so when I signed up I was imagining it being more of a carefree, la-de-da, “hey look Ma, I’m playing in mud!” sort of event. I mean, yes, I knew it was an actual race; however, I intended on having fun with it rather than racing, per say.

And so I willingly paid money to run through all sorts of mud for 5 grueling kilometers, throwing myself over muddy walls and crawling through muddy pools, all while making sure I maneuvered my limbs oh-so-gingerly so as to avoid further injuring my previously-injured knee/ankle/hipbone (man, when’d I get so old?). It was by no means a walk in the park, but it was an absolute blast. I totally surprised myself and ended up in the 21st percentile, which kind of makes me wish I had cared a little more about my time. But that only gives me more motivation for next year’s 10k (which includes … wait for it … a wall of hay bales!).

 

See that lovely orange bandana/hat/do-rag they provided us with? I’m now intent on turning it into some sort of halloween costume for my kitty. A pumpkin? The M Train? The MCAT? I don’t know, but it’s too cute not to use!

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