Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A glimpse of January

Have I mentioned I love having an iphone? Because I do. Very, very much.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

January the twenty-ninth

Having a cat like Jack is like having a real child. If he wants to be held, he will be held. And then he will fall into a dead sleep on your lap so you can't get any blogging done.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cooking with Pinterest

I've mentioned before that I'm really on a cooking kick lately. I'm growing to love having a Sprouts market about 3 blocks away, especially since I've recently discovered they sell spices by the ounce there. I've been Pinteresting ways to store spices today, and it looks like Chris and I will be making a special visit to the Container Store after church tomorrow to pick up some little stackable tins. 

I've really expanded our cooking resources in the last few months because of all this new cooking. Among other things that haven't often appeared on our shelves are red peppers, apple cider vinegar, lentils, canned crushed tomato (yes, us! Consuming a form of tomato!), dried beans, and most recently today, a whole slew of Thai related ingredients: coconut milk, curry paste, and lemongrass. These were for tonight's specialty, Thai Coconut Curry Soup. The recipe I used can be found here, but I did adapt it a bit for what I had on hand. 

My new favorite Hipstamatic pak, Foodie, was my weapon of choice for tonight's documentation of dinner.

1. Ingredients: chicken broth, curry paste, lemongrass, lime juice/zest
2. Cilantro! Best stuff on earth. I'll put it in/on anything.
3. Ingredients: Bean sprouts, ginger, cilantro root
4. Chris and Ryan, chillin' like the villains they are, while the current episode of Big Bang Theory plays in the background.
5. Halfway through.
6. I'm a clean as I cook kind of girl, and after I'd started washing some of our cooking prep tools I was struck with how much yellow we have in our kitchen. My mother-in-law once asked me what 'color' my kitchen was, and I thought I'd navigated more toward greens over the years, but as it turns out yellow is actually far in the lead. I love it when things are monochromatic.
7. Soup!
8. Jack!
9. More soup!

My thoughts on this recipe:

1. Super yummy. I love the gingery, coconuty taste of Thai soup, and I'm so happy I can successfully make it on my own. I am ridiculously picky about soups. I LOVE soup when I get it right; I'll literally eat soup for days when I find the right one. If it's just a little too bland or off, though, it's completely ruined for me. In the past, this has been my pumpkin soup and carrot/ginger soup, which Chris ate up enthusiastically while I popped a can of Campbell's Vegetable Beef in the microwave to satisfy my soup craving. This soup is definitely on par with the restaurant taste of most Thai soups.

2. I would not use that many rice noodles again. The recipe calls for an entire box, which I was skeptical about because there were a lot of noodles, but after double checking I figured the volume of noodles would dwindle as it separated in the broth. It did, but the noodles seemed to soak up a ton of the broth which was disappointing; I really like brothy soup, and it turned out almost all noodles by the end. I would probably only use a quarter of a box for next time.

3. For the lemongrass, I had to do a little research to figure out what parts to use and what to throw away. The recipe called for puncturing the stems to release the flavor and tossing them in the soup for cooking, and removing when it was done. From what I read on one site, the lemongrass is mostly edible, so I chopped some very fine pieces of the lower halves of the stems to keep in the soup; the top parts were cut and thrown in whole for flavor only.

4. I had no idea you could buy frozen ginger. I just used some fresh ginger we had on hand. 

5. I didn't have fish sauce, and I didn't really want to buy something new just for one recipe, so I substituted with oyster sauce that I always have on hand for when I make heavenly beef and broccoli. I don't think it changed much. 

6. While I usually LOVE green onions, I found them overwhelming as a garnish for this soup. I didn't realize how much the flavor was being affected until I got a spoonful sans green onion, and the gingery coconuty taste was in full force. Yum.

All three of us really liked the soup overall, so it seems to be a winner. Next up on my list of Pinterested recipes: Vegan chili.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Exciting things are going on over here at the Trementozzi house. Chris and I are moving forward in year number two of our business by rebranding. Although, I suppose rebranding isn't really the proper terminology, since we never technically branded in the first place. (And as I just studied prefixes with my seventh grade ELL tutoring kiddo, I am now very aware of the impact of the beginnings of words.) Next to Me Studio's current look is really just a blend of a great photo Chris took in a field by his parent's house in Redlands and a cool font he found sometime later.

But it has served us well in our first year of being real live photographer peoples. Chris added up the photo gigs from last year, and the total came in at a surprising number of 29 family and couples shoots and 7 weddings. Not too shabby for a free website and first year.

It's year number dos, though, and like I said, we're getting serious about our look now. Our wonderful and amazing designer friend Cody (of Caava Design) has begun the enormous task of figuring out our new style and feel; we seriously can not wait to see what he's got cooking. Cody did our wedding invitations and save the dates, and his work is just overall amazing sauce, so you can see why we're anxious to catch a peek of what he's got in mind for us.

A glimpse of our wedding invites:

We also met with the amazing Kelsey of blogging fame (happyolks.com) who is going to be the awesome talent behind the verbiage of our new website. Let me tell you, I'm a little relieved we're going with someone else to write about us. Chris and I wrote our current website last year, and geez, those were some dark days of frustration. And in the end, neither of us were really satisfied with the way our words sounded. We have such different voices, it was extremely hard to compromise on how to word everything. And since we're both generally super compromising in all other aspects of life, this endless frustration led us to the idea that maybe, just maybe, it would be much better for our marriage and individual sanities to have an outsider do the dirty work for us.

Big sigh of relief that we don't have to do all that over again. We just get to do the fun stuff, like ooh and ahh over how awesome we sound in someone else's words. ;)

Stay tuned for more on the progress of spiffifying (<-- newly made up and awesome word) our brand. And, of course, the continuation of Picture of the Day: 2012.

Monday, January 23, 2012

January the twenty-third

Picking out preliminary design ideas for our new business look. You may have heard that 2012 is the year of the dragon, but it is actually the year of Next to Me Studios. Oh, yes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

January the 21st

It rained a lot today. When that happens, the cats sit up on the windowsill and go on rain watch for us. Then they get cabin fever (not that they're ever outside when it's sunny out either), rum amock, get into cabinets, and generally freak out a bit. I had to lock them up in separate rooms for awhile so I could get some cooking and baking done without Jack jumping on top of the fridge for an aerial view and Sawyer scaling my legs for a view at all.

But since I've been sitting at the kitchen table, downloading more fun apps for my splendid new iphone and editing some of Jen's maternity shots, they've been snuggled up on the chairs next to me, dead asleep.

Well, they were until a couple minutes ago, when I absentmindedly scratched Jack behind the ears and he took it as an invitation to climb up onto my lap.

Then he moved to a half on the table, chin on my mouse hand position, and that's about where we are now.

Rainy Days

"Rainy days always inspire cooking and baking. I've made cookies, white bean chicken chili, and have got bacon wrapped chicken in the crockpot for dinner." 

Friday, January 20, 2012

January the 20th

To sum up: Friday, computer back ups, new Big Bang Theory episode, and cute kittens.

January the 19th: Better than Christmas + my birthday.

It's iPhone day, hurray! I've been downloading apps and taking pictures up to wazoo. Definitely in love with the thing. Chris loves that I won't be bugging him for his iPhone now. Yes, it is a very good day for both of us.

Monday, January 16, 2012

January the 16th

We had fun with Jen, Justin, and Zoey doing Baby #2's photo shoot. Zoey was a leeeeetle crazy, but not so much that we couldn't get a few real smiles out of her. She seems to have gone from super duper shy and not wanting to look at the camera to super duper fun and thinking it's a game to not look at the camera. Two is a definitely an interesting age to photograph.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January the eleventh (the one with post-Christmas)

There were a few things on our lists this year we'd really been hoping to get but didn't. So a couple weeks after Christmas, Chris and I both put in orders for the things we simply could not live without. 

For Chris, it was more camera gear. A freaking ridiculously sturdy tripod, a new camera bag to take on minor trips, and... something else that I forget now. But it was important to him.

For me, it was my iphone accessories! I still have 15 days (and counting) until I actually can buy my phone, but I wanted to be prepared for that blessed day two Fridays from now. I got my Speck fabric case (it's summery!) and an armband case for when I go running. It will be awesome to run without clutching my ipod in one hand and my phone in the other.

Like how Sawyer camera bombed my photo here?

January the tenth (the one with the hedgehog)

Sawyer loves my socks. He's learned how to paw open my sock drawer and take them out, too, which means we find socks all over the house. Even in the kitchen sink. (Although, technically that was Jack who left it there, since Sawyer can't figure out how to get up on the counters.)

A few weeks ago Chris I loaned my old roommate Jenna some of our snow clothes for a trip she was taking, and she recently returned everything in a couple bags. Our nosy cats got into the bags, of course, and Sawyer fell in love with a pair of very soft, very thick, very expensive snow socks that were folded inside each other. For about a day, he carried those folded socks around the house, slept next to them, batted them around. I decided he needed his own little sock-sized stuffed animal.

Enter the hedgehog.

Found him at Target the other day. Just about the size of a pair of good snow socks folded inside each other. So I bought him and tossed him in front of Sawyer when I got home to see what would happen.

I think he likes it:

Disclaimer: After the first 45 seconds, it's much of the same. Please don't feel you have to watch all the way through. I'm just too lazy to throw this video in imovie and cut it down.

Monday, January 9, 2012

January the ninth

The normal 10pm-midnight scene at our house. In bed, but not asleep, working on photos and watching The Big Bang Theory. Or How I Met Your Mother. Both awesome.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January the eighth (the one with the photo shoot)

We went shoot scouting on Sunday. Found this awesome little nook in Balboa Park. I modeled. Chris used his new tilt shift. We made magic.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January the seventh (the one with Sonia's birthday)

Saturday day night we went out to Jamul for an ice cream social to celebrate my very first ever roommate's birthday. Woo-hoo!

I'm not going to lie, making that drive up Skyline had me missing the old camp days. It didn't matter that it's been five summers since I worked there; driving up that hill felt just like driving up every Sunday afternoon with my truck filled with fresh clothes and snacks. As I told Chris when we got to to the top of the hill, and looked down over the misty valley, God lives in Jamul. It's true.

We had a splendid time hanging out with Sonia and Paul, Jeremy and his girlfriend Sarah, Jared and his adorable daughter (who calls Sonia Mo-Geek, for Monique), and Krista and Jon. Settlers of Catan was the game of the night, but we had to play in teams since there were more than six of us. I'm not going to lie- I was a little concerned how Chris and I would handle both trying to control our team's strategies and moves. We are both way too competitive for our own good. Surprisingly, our strategies matched almost the entire game, and we ended up blowing everyone else out of the (Catan) water. Go, team, go!

And since this post is about Sonia's birthday, and not our awesome teamwork skills, here's some Sonia-centric posts I dug up from years past:

Adventures with my Roomie
Adventuresome Times
Last Night at B22
This is what...

Hmm. Half of these posts have the word adventure in them. I think that may say something about Sonia's personality....

Friday, January 6, 2012

January the sixth

With my new tutoring students, I had to change my schedule up a bit. Now I get out of work pretty early on Fridays, with no tutoring in the afternoons, which is great. I came home, got out the laptop, loaded up my current session (the Moses'/Bishop's) and turned on season five of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. 

( I love having HIMYM on Netflix. No changing of disks whatsoever. I could watch six seasons straight through if I wanted.)

Jack was feeling mighty cuddly, and I let him curl up into my arm since he just wanted to nap there. (We usually don't let them on the table.) 

Apparently Sawyer, who is not normally very cuddly, was jealous of this snuggle session, because this was the scene two hours later:

I was mentioning to Chris last night how much easier Picture of the Day is with two cats. No more trying to made mundane activities or inanimate objects interesting. There's always something interesting going on with two pre-teen cats.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January the fifth

This Jack photo may just rival the Sawyer-in-a-trashcan-shot for favorite cat photo ever. This is what my post-dinner and onto dishes evening looks like. My dutiful kitten watching and waiting in the hopes that a scrap of carrot or cilantro leaf will fall to the floor for him to bat around.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January the fourth

Not much going on today. Back to school/work. Back to tutoring. Wednesdays are now loooooooong days. Charter school in the morning/early afternoon, immediately followed by language arts tutoring with a seventh grader, immediately followed by math tutoring with an eighth grader (in Imperial Beach). Trying to get home from I.B. at 6:30pm is not so much fun, but luckily I've got my ipod loaded with the audio versions of all the Harry Potter books. I love me some multi-tasking, and I definitely don't have time to be lounging around reading once I get home.

I like this picture of Sawyer. He looks more like the kitten we brought home six months ago, and less like the teenage cat he's slowly growing into. This look here is one of limiting patience while he waited for me to get him unstuck from the little space he'd crawled into behind the TV. Poor thing couldn't figure out how to back up, and Chris' guitar rack was keeping him from just jumping to the ground. When I held out my arms to reach over the rack for him, he literally jumped into them. Love that our cats know when we're trying to help them and go along with it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January the third

One of our "goals" this year is to be more healthy, especially in what we eat. So on December 31st, I spent a good deal of time looking up recipes for all natural or raw foods that we might be able to start incorporating into our diets. This week has been fun to try some new things I wouldn't even have thought to make- like this carrot ginger soup here. Granted, it was still a little bland for my taste (even after adding cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic salt, and the green onions topping), but it sure felt healthy going down. Chris liked it just fine though, and he even took a big container of it to work with him the next day. I found that a small bowl was great for dipping organic spiced crackers into, and the soup sure made my lunch box smell nice and spicy!

For anyone wanting to check out more of the healthier recipes I've found, here's my Healthy Recipes pinterest board. So far we've also tried the edamame dish and the jazzy pinto beans, both of which weren't amazing, but still came out tasting okay. We're just not used to eating non-processed, non-salted down dinners yet. :(  I do have high hopes for the french lentil soup, though Chris says he's a little "souped out" right now, so it'll be awhile before we try that one. (And I have three containers of my spicy chicken noodle in the fridge right now to go through first.) I did try to make my own chicken stock last weekend, with the leftovers from a grocery store Rotisserie chicken and the odds and ends from some carrots, onions, and celery. It smelled amazing in my kitchen that day. So far we've only used the broth in the carrot soup, so I'm not sure how much different tasting it is than the boxed kind. I'll have to try it in my spicy chicken soup to really compare.

Happy eating this new year!

Monday, January 2, 2012

January the second

Last time I did a year of Picture of the Day, I often ended up at 11:30pm frantically looking around for something interesting to take a picture of, kicking myself for not getting a shot of something while it was still daylight and my photo could actually look good. Then there were other days when I had multiple photos for the day, and had to narrow it down to the picture of the day. Much hemming and hawing ensued over which picture I would use. 

This year I decided, screw it, I can have as many pictures as I want for each day. The whole point is telling stories anyway, right? And since I am T minus 24 days away from getting my iphone, which will surely result in a much higher picture per day ratio, I figured why stress myself out with what would inevitably be a daily decision that I just don't want to have to deal with for the next 365 days?

So here's day two- all three pictures from January 2nd.

First up: Chris and I took down Christmas yesterday. For us, it's a fairly quick task of taking our 8 ornaments off the tree, un-fluffing the tree, and shoving it back into the box. These are our Christmas 2011 ornaments (the first year we started collecting/creating for our tree) packed in the box and ready to go to the attic for the next year.

 Reason #448 I love my husband. He knows I love taking pictures of silly, normal things going on around the house. So when I was sitting in a lawn chair out on our porch, reading in the glorious, practically summer sunshine, and heard the tell-tale click-click from down the hall, I was a happy wife. He was shooting from the other end of the house with the 85mm, in case anyone was wondering. And let's again reiterate that it is January 2nd, and it was a gorgeous practically summer day. Perfect for reading on the porch.

Had to get one of Chris. Ignore the giant splotch of window light that's smacking him in the forehead. This is what he was up to while I sat outside in the sun: manual labor in the kitchen. Silly boy. We have very different ideas of what should be done on the last day of Christmas vacation.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year.

Hello, 2012!

You will bring me many things this year. Among them: my very own iphone, a Master's Degree in Educational Technology, and a real grown up job. Let's do it.

January the first