Sunday, July 31, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance Sundays

The amazing Legion of Extraordinary Dancers were on SYTYCD this week.  With ballerinas (including former SYTYCD contestant Ashley Galvan) en pointe, no less!



I've heard that LXD relies on no special effects -- just pure dancing -- but I was kind of skeptical watching the web series that those amazing tricks are not CGI but really just humans dancing.  Then I saw this short video of LXD tricksters doing crazy aerials on a random NYC street corner . . .




Did that leave you speechless, like it did when I saw it?  These guys are legit and totally defy gravity.


I'm in awe.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Savory Shortbread "Cookies"

Once upon a time, I used to bake.  A lot.  But then this thing called work got in the way.  Luckily enough, I've got a cocktail party at work tomorrow that I have to bring something in for, so I get to bake on a work night!


I decided to switch things up a bit and make some savory, cheesy, herby, spicy shortbread cookies.  I'm imagining that they'd go great with martinis.




This shortbread recipe, which I adapted from Martha, is as easy as its results are tasty.  Plus you can make a ton of the dough ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for whenever the occasion requires a fancy snack.


Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon herbs du provence
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 cups grated cheese (cheddar or parmesan works well, though feel free to experiment)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
  • Pepper


Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mix flour, cayenne pepper, herbs du provence, and salt. 
  • Add butter.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  
  • With your hands, gently toss the cheese into the crumb mixture until integrated.
  • Add in milk and vinegar or Worcestershire sauce.  Integrate the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until the mixture comes together as a dough. 
  • Form mixture into two or three 1-inch-diameter logs, wrap in parchment, and refrigerate until firm -- at least one hour or until the occasion requires.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove logs from refrigerator, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.  Place the rounds on the baking sheet.
  • Bake shortbread until golden, about 14 minutes (mine didn't look all that browned, until I flipped them over and realized they were nice and caramelized on the flipside).  Refrain from touching the hot shortbread, as they will still be soft to the touch.  Cool on a wire rack.  The cookies are ready to eat when they feel firm to the touch.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Behind the Lens: Boston Engagement Session (Favorites and Outtakes)

As you might remember, I recently did a super fun engagement shoot.  Since this was my first engagement session, I was not surprised that there were a number of shots that were . . . artistically challenged.   I was, however, surprised at how many of the "bad" shots I loved.  I thought I'd show you a few of my embarrassing mistakes, followed by some of my favorite shots.



This shot turned out way soft -- but I love how it plays into the emotions of the moment.  And don't even get me started on the heart shape made by the position of their heads!



These shots thrill me in similar ways: lens flare, lens flare, lens flare!  The shot on the left was taken when my lovely couple got invited by some locals to take photos on their boat; I was shooting from the shore, and I just couldn't get an angle where the sun wasn't blasting down at me.  As for the second photo, I was fixated on trying to get a close-up of their hands making a heart and didn't meter the shot properly.  And the third photo was "ruined" by a random jogger -- who ended up creating kind of a cool shot; I love how wicked huge he is!



Now, for some of my favorites . . .


How beautiful is this couple?  They regard each other with such love, tenderness, and good humor.  It made me happy just to be hanging out with them.


And how picturesque is the Esplanade?  I love how the canoers paddled by at just the right moment.


This photo is like a film still . . . and these two could easily star in their own Bollywood movie.


My super chic couple told me they dressed to complement the colors of the Esplanade.  Isn't that fab?


I made a "thank you" garland for the couple, in case they wanted to use any of the images for their thank you notes.  Serendipitously, my bride-to-be had chosen a yellow sundress that matched the garland!  Adorbs.


We walked over to the public garden, which gave me a chance to capture them amongst the weeping willows by the duck pond.  With views like this, it's easy even for a newbie like me to get a decent shot.


Finally, this was my favorite shot of the afternoon . . . an archway in Beacon Hill leading to the most magical little cul de sac.  The folks who live in this fabulous spot are very, very lucky indeed.

It's such a delight to have the opportunity to capture special moments in people's lives . . . it's no wonder that all the pro photographers I know are so happy.  I can't wait to do another engagement shoot!

In the interim, I'll be posting my favorite family and friends shots on Doubly Happy Photography's Facebook page.  Please come by, say hi, and tell me you "like" me so that I don't feel like such a loser. ;-)

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance Sundays

I haven't been a Sasha fan this season . . . until now.  How brilliant is Dave Scott's routine?



I love this almost as much as my all-time favorite Twitch routine.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Behind the Lens: Boston Engagement Session

I did my first engagement session today!  I had the pleasure of shooting in Beacon Hill and the Esplanade with the most delightful couple, who are not only beautiful to look at but so much fun to hang out with.  A few teasers below.




More to come . . . .

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance Sundays

You know I love Melanie and Marko. But the real reason I'm obsessed with this dance is the music.



The song is "Skin and Bones" by David Roch. Apparently, his album is not coming out until end of August, so we'll have to make do with just listening to it via Youtube.  It's gorgeous.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

The Maine Attraction

For several months, I worked out of Portland, Maine, one day a week.  Alas, the job is over and I no longer have an excuse to make the two-hour trip to eat fries and beignets at Duckfat.  


We had a chance to take a short trip to Portland this weekend, and it made me realize just how much I miss Maine.




First of all, Maine comes with lobsters, glorious lobsters.  It's not a Maine picnic unless there is a lobster.


And strawberry shortcake.


My husband is a huge Hopper fan, so when he heard we were going to be in the vicinity of Cape Elizabeth, the location of some of Hopper's lighthouse paintings, he got super excited.


The Portland Headlight is the oldest lighthouse in Maine and supposedly the most photographed lighthouse in North America.


I don't doubt it.  Located inside beautiful Fort Williams park and overlooking Casco Bay, the lighthouse is really photogenic.  Like Gisele Bundchen photogenic.


And if the lighthouse isn't enough, did I mention there were ducks?  Yes, ducks in the water and . . .


duck fat in all the food.  Duckfat fries everything in duck fat . . . fries, beignets, churros.  And everything comes out so crispy and gorgeous.  They also have a duck confit panini that is out of this world -- it's grilled to perfection on the outside and filled with savory confit and a spicy Thai chili sauce.  And let's not forget the truffled ketchup they serve with your fries.  Yes, truffled ketchup.  They also serve a variety of other house made dipping sauces.  And all of the fried goodness comes out in a paper cone.  What's there not to love about this place?

Where have your travels taken you this summer?

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance Sundays, New Choreographer Edition

I've mentioned previously how much I admire Justin Giles as a choreographer.  So you know I was psyched to discover that he is now a choreographer on SYTYCD.  He brought his amazing musicality, intricate moves, and smart concepts to both of the pieces he created this week.



This piece that he set on the guys was so moving. And how awesome was Marko in this?


And this dance he choreographed for Jess and Clarice was lovely. I love the unexpected sharpness of it.

Are there any choreographers you'd like to see on the show this season?

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Raspberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Hello!  Remember me?  I used to blog here.  But then I started a new job, got super swamped, and started neglecting my blogging duties.

Sigh.  Sorry.

As an apology/peace offering, let me offer you some cupcakes.


These cupcakes are loaded with tart, juicy raspberries, and covered with a quick and easy buttercream frosting.  My husband insists that they are muffins, but my feeling is that any little cake with frosting can and should be called a cupcake.  What ever you call them, though, they are super easy to make and quite delicious.




Ingredients (for 18 cupcakes):

For cake:
1 1/3 AP flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teapoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup frozen raspberries (fresh raspberries tend to sink and turn to mush while baking)

For buttercream frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
A few drops of red food coloring (optional)



Make cake.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pans with liners.  Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl.  In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Reduce speed to low.  Add dry ingredients to the creamed butter in 3 batches, alternating with the milk.  Add vanilla.  Gently fold the frozen raspberries into the batter.  Portion the batter into the muffin cups.

Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool cupcakes on a rack.


In the meantime, prepare the frosting.  Beat butter and one cup of sugar at medium speed until fluffy and creamy.  Then add the milk and vanilla -- don't worry if the mixture looks broken or curdled initially, as it will come together during beating.  Add the remaining sugar, a little at a time, until it is sweet enough for your taste and thick enough for piping.  Add the food coloring, if desired.

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.  Enjoy!


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Sunday, July 3, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance Sundays, SYTYCD Edition

Sigh.  I love this show.



Ok, Melanie and Marko can do no wrong in my eyes.  This piece is not as gorgeous as the statue routine -- which was just perfection -- but they still were uhmazing.



This piece with Ryan and Ricky could easily have been a disaster, but somehow they managed to let the dancing speak and to not let the prop/conceit get too much in the way.

Finally, there were these guys, who performed at the results show. Normally, I'd get super annoyed at dancers who perform tricks in lieu of dancing, but the trick lifts they performed were cray-cray. Totally worth watching.

Speaking of the results show, can someone explain to me how Miranda, who clearly performed the best solo of the night, got axed?

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