Monday, June 21, 2010

New Mexico

We just got back from New Mexico and I am not too happy about it. I really hate 29 Palms and I could literally feel myself getting more and more irate about our return to this hell hole every mile that we got closer. I didn't realize how much I hated it here until I had to come back. I have been stuck here for nearly 3 years and I feel like my life is on hold until we leave. Sure, I've been able to explore my interest in photography and make it a career but there is so much else I'd like to do with photography that I can't do here, like open a studio. Or photograph in other locations besides 29 Palms Inn. And charge what I feel I am worth.

Anyway, back to New Mexico. We stayed in Cloudcroft, 9,000 feet above sea level, or stress level as they say up there. It's a cozy little mountain village with only 900 permanent residents. It is such a small town that I was able to walk from one end to the other and we almost never used our car, you can walk anywhere. And let me just say, mountain folk have the potential to be just as weird as desert folk. But they also have the potential to be 800 times nicer than desert folk. When we would walk into a shop the owners would often times escort us through the store, showing us this and that, telling us the history about each item we looked at. And the neat thing is that we never felt pressured to buy anything. Oh, and everyone loved my baby. I had to get used to people not trying to touch her when we got home.

You may find this surprising but my favorite part about our trip was our time in the desert. Yeah, I know something is definitely wrong with me. I just like the desert. When my dad took me to New Mexico for the first time at around age 9 I decided that when I grew up I needed to have an adobe home in the desert on a few acres of land and I would hang chili pepper lights on my porch and watch the sun set every evening. The New Mexico desert is so much better than the desert out here. Take a look at this for example:
Or this:

Need more proof? How about this:

I think I've made my point. I'll be writing much more about our trip in the upcoming days but right now I've got a delicious turkey sandwich waiting to be devoured.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cloudcroft NM 2010

I'll actually write about our trip later!

At Cloudcroft Mexican Canyon Trestle

S Trestle


IMG_2104 copy


IMG_1906 copy


Friday, June 11, 2010

Annie Leibovitz

If you're affiliated with military in any way you'll know exactly what I'm talking about here. The other day a group of Marines, their wives, and Nick and I were sitting at a free steak lunch complaining about the USMC. Looking back I feel a little ungrateful, I mean it was free steak and I just absolutely love free food, it adds to the flavor I think. Anyway, free steak or not, we were complaining and the Marines were saying things like "June 9th, 2010, the day I officially lost all faith in the Corps", things like that. Apparently something had ticked them off. So we're all sitting there having ourselves a pity fest when the 1st Sgt. walks over and starts talking to all of us and specifically asked Nick about his plans for re-enlistment. What followed was this motivational speech about how to go far in the USMC, what to do next career wise, etc, etc. Forget the late nights, forget how Nick is hardly home anymore, forget the deployments, the time away from family, and all the other things that go into military life we were instantly transformed from planning on returning to San Antonio to never ever wanting to step foot off a military base because it is our home and how dare we even think otherwise. I love those little speech's, they get me every time.

So what the heck does any of this have to do with Annie Leibovitz? I watched her documentary last night and through it I got the whole don't quit what you love speech that the 1st Sgt gave Nick. I love photography, there is no doubt about that. But I don't love forcing smiles from people who don't want to smile. I don't love having dirt kicked in my face by an unruly child whose mother thinks it's my job solely to tame her children and coax a smile worthy of hanging on their living room wall. Sometimes I cringe at the thought of going to work, knowing what lies ahead. There, I said it. Occasionally I find that person who isn't afraid to show themselves and then I'm happy. But those people are rare, or are they? I don't think they're that rare because if so Annie Leibovitz is just beyond lucky in finding people who aren't afraid to show their personalities. She coaxes not smiles, but honesty from her subjects. I need to do that but I'm still trying to figure out how.
I can take honest photos of my family but that's because they're comfortable around me and they're not paying me. I'm not sure my clients want honesty in their photos. I think they want posed photos in their Sunday best to give to grandma because that is tradition. I personally would want the photo above hanging on my wall instead .

Annie Leibovitz documented all aspects of her life, and I mean all. She photographed her friends death for example and while you won't see me doing that I want to try to be a little more like that, always having a camera in hand and photographing everything. Annie said sometimes you may think a photo is mundane but it may turn out to be the best you've ever taken. I need to remember that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

S'more and Strawberry Pop Tarts - Homemade

OK, so guess what? Those two times I baked and succeeded weren't flukes ... or so I'm hoping. I'm writing this a bit prematurely as my latest creations, whole wheat pop tarts, bake in the oven. However I just checked them and they're looking fiasco free. The recipe is adapted from smitten kitchen, I only swapped 1 cup of all purpose flour for whole wheat.

The s'more filling consists of 1 cup chocolate chips melted and mixed with a graham cracker and a handful of marshmallows.

The strawberry filling is simply low sugar strawberry preserves. I was going to slice fresh strawberries, mix them with the preserves and add some sugar and use that but Alice began to fuss and in a moment of bad judgment I opted to use plain preserves. DO NOT DO THIS, go with my original idea. I just pulled mine from the oven and ate a strawberry pop tart. It was like drinking strawberry juice from a pie crust mug because the preserves liquefied.

The S'more pop tarts are OK. I would consider them delicious if I were making plain chocolate pop tarts because I couldn't taste the graham crackers or marshmallow. I think next time rather than mixing the filling I'll layer chocolate, crushed graham, then marshmallow. That may help to distinguish each flavor.

All in all these were pretty good with the exception of the strawberry ones. My issue with store bought pop tarts is that they're 510 calories per serving and one serving is one pop tart, not two. It's very misleading since there are two per package. My pop tarts probably aren't the healthiest things on earth either but they're super filling, unlike their mass produced counterparts, so they won't leave you hungry.

Friday, June 4, 2010

You Know What I Miss?

I miss the constant sound of the cicadas in the oak trees.

I miss days so hot and humid that your clothing sticks to your skin before you even begin to sweat.

I miss the smell of old wood that permeates every inch of my grandparents home in Bandera.

I miss the pleasant discomfort of trying to navigate across a rocky creek barefoot in shallow rapids.

I miss driving through the hill country on warm summer nights with my hair pulled back, the windows down, feeling so happy that I could scream.

I miss sporadic thunderstorms on warm afternoons.

I honestly never thought I could miss my home as much as I missed Nick while he was deployed but I do.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Creative Writing Wednesdays

I started attending a writing workshop at the Library and yesterday I was given some pretty neat writing prompts so I figured I would post my response to one of them. The prompt was simply "no thank you". Here is my response:

No thank you, I do not have any extra habanero jelly that I would like to sell to you. I have told you time and time again that you can purchase said jelly at the Joshua Tree farmers market every Saturday for $3.50. Stop being lazy and go get the jelly yourself. Also, if I have to text you the name of the jelly one more time I will scream. It is HABANERO jelly, if you can't remember the name go back through your texts and find the last one I sent telling you the name of it.

OK so that is my response, now the story behind this starts with my mothers day pot luck. I had made some really delicious appetizers using puff pastry, cream cheese, and my very valuable habanero jelly. One of my guests really enjoyed these appetizers and asked me if I would teach her how to make them, which made me so very happy because this is another recipe that I made up on my own and it was an honor to have someone want them so bad that she needed me to help her make them. So I said yes, of course I will teach you, I have an incredibly busy schedule but I will take some time out of that and make you food. I know that sounds sarcastic, but I was serious. I love to cook and I was flattered by this friends request. The only problem was that she needed the jelly and I didn't want to share mine so I told her to get some apricot preserves and we would spice it up with cayenne pepper and little bits of jalapeno. I really think that would have been delicious but this friend of mine wanted nothing less than the habanero jelly. My very expensive for the small amount that you get, habanero jelly. She eventually talked me into letting her use my jelly, she's very persuasive, this friend of mine, and she was set to arrive at my house at 4pm to start cooking.

Well 4:30 rolled around and she hadn't arrived. I later got a text that said "my husband came home so I had to cook for him LOL." Yeah, thanks. This was during finals week where I was literally working 13 hour days trying to finish all my school work so when I said I was really busy I meant it. I figured that was the end of it but I was wrong. I have since gotten 3 or 4 texts asking me what the name of the jelly is, what the puff pastry box looks like and where it can be found, and most recently a text that said "Do u hv some jelly I can buy from u? Lol" Like it's a street drug and I'm a dealer. The thing is that I have told her this information verbally and in writing several times so I just don't understand why she keeps hounding me for the same information. I get a little testy when I feel my time is being wasted, especially during finals week, when I simply have no more extra time and when I feel like I'm being used for my jelly. And a girl never wants to feel used, especially for her habanero jelly.

Here is Alice after she ate some of my coveted habanero jelly:

Just kidding people! It's prunes, I wouldn't give my baby habanero anything!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Our Trip to Paso Robles and Hearst Castle

We just returned home from Paso Robles, Ca after a long weekend where Miss Alice met more family members like her second cousin once removed (or something like that) Cole.

And her great grandma Beverly as well as many other family members.

She also tried on an array of headwear and went to church for the first time.

The highlight of our trip was our visit to Hearst Castle which is perched 1,000 feet above sea level.

This was taken about half way up the mountain:

Once we arrived we were greeted by numerous marble statues like this one:

I wanted to badly to touch these, they just look so smooth and soft but I was told I would be kicked out if I did so I refrained.

Haley, Alice and Nick on one of the many castle terraces.

The neptune pool. This was built, torn down, and rebuilt a few times before Mr.Hearst decided it was perfect.

This was one of my favorite parts, it's a bedroom in the smallest of the guest cottages. A cottage to Mr.Hearst was bigger than my house; most things at the castle were bigger than my house.

The details put into making the cottages and the main house amazed me. Check out the tiles and carvings in the concrete ceiling, those special touches were everywhere.

Here is the main house, La Casa Grande. I believe there were 132 rooms or something like that. While it was amazing I was just left wondering why someone would spend that kind of money. Maybe he was trying to get the attention of a past love, like in the Great Gatsby. I'm pretty sure he was just a man with a ton of money that needed spending though.

Check out this ceiling, it's hand carved.

This is the dining room:

And here is my absolute favorite part of the house, the indoor pool.

Greek Gods and Godesses lined the walls and the blue and gold mosaic tiles made you really feel like you were in Rome at some pool just for the Gods, it was pretty neat.

So there you have it, our trip up the coast.