Vlog With My Dog

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Giada, Video

Alright, since Daphne (aka my new Canon M6) is in my life, I am intent on giving her a purpose. So I brought her on my walk with Giada last Friday night. I thought it’d be relatively easy to do, but 1) Giada likes to walk in zig zags and 2) I wasn’t sure what to talk about. However, it all got figured out and I think Giada and Daphne are the official members of my vlog squad.

I’m hoping this is the first of many episodes, but I’m saying this as the weather is still relatively nice in Chicago. I don’t know actually know how mirrorless cameras perform in the winter months. We’ll find out soon enough! (And yes, I still walk Giada in the cold months. Her Saint Bernard genes demand it.)

Savory Crust (aka empanadas in the suburbs, woot woot!)

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Food

empanada at savory crust
I had no idea Savory Crust existed until my friend Lina told me about it over an Ethiopian lunch. Ethiopian is not one of those cuisines that you can find in the suburbs (sadly), so I did my typical “It’s hard to find good places to eat at in the suburbs” whine. She mentioned hearing about an empanada place in Morton Grove, and I was like, No way!!!! She brought up Savory Crust up on her phone – evidence that there was an empanada place a few minutes from my house. Whoo hoo! The next day I popped to check out the place.

Savory Crust dips
Some of the dips: Avocado Cilantro Lime; Sriracha Aioli and Hot Chimichurri

It was pretty much love at first bite. (“How is this crust made???!!!???” I kept asking myself.) I posted a picture on my Instagram feed. A few days later, I got a DM from the cook there asking if I had been in. Such a nice guy, and we messaged back and forth. A few weekends ago, BT (that’s the cook) invited me to a blogger event. I’ll be honest – I’ve been trying to lay low from meetups and events. I really enjoy the company of people, but I’m at that point where my free time goes to my family – and all the leftover time after that goes to nurturing my creative side (it helps keep my sanity). I have a social life that my 20-something year old version would laugh at (I see my friends about once or twice a month – will probably be less once summer is officially over). I believe Randy Zuckerberg said something along the lines of (I’m 100% paraphrasing here), Work, Sleep, Family, Friends and Working out: Pick three. I’m certain she’s gotten hate for that, but I have found it to be true. And also, I admit that I’m old, so 1) I get tired easily and 2) I have to watch it when it comes to overextending myself. So yeah, three at a time is really all I can handle! In any case, BT is such a nice guy (and I’m also a super fan of Savory Crust!) that I went for an hour and had a good time. The people at Savory Crust really are the nicest, most sincere people who happen to make FANTASTIC empanadas. Drop in. Follow them on Instagram. Heck, send BT a message because I **know** he would love to hear from you.

A few shots from the event:

Savory Crust






savory crust


savory crust


cute girl savory crust
The cutest girl! (She’s one of the owner’s daughter.)

savory crust dips


savory crust in morton grove


savory crust in morton grove


savory crust in morton grove


savory crust in morton grove


savory crust in morton grove

FYI – I keep asking BT what’s in the crust, but he keeps avoiding the question, ha ha.

P.S. I should mention that the chicken pot pie is my favorite empanada here. Also a huge fan of the spinach one as well as the Philly cheesesteak empanada. Yum yum yum!

What I’m Reading This Month

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[from top to bottom] A mug filled with matcha tea 😉 // Year of Yes // The Martian // Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People. // Royko in Love // The Complete Portrait Manual

This may or may not be a regular feature, but since I’ve been enjoying a few diverse reads this month, I wanted to share the books I’ve been or am planning on enjoying. Normally, I’m into nonfiction reads that involve photography, self improvement or business. This month, however, I added a fiction and a biography to the pile. Go me. 😀 The stack includes:

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Dance In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes – This was not a book that was on my radar, but I noticed it at the library and thought, Hey, Grey’s Anatomy is a cool show – I bet Shonda has something worthwhile to say. This is the type of book I would normally read anyway, so it went with me to the check out line. I read it and HOLY COW. This is book is something of a game changer. My takeaways: say “yes” to opportunities that may scare you; even if there are emotional repercussions, say “yes” to yourself (Shonda, for example, broke up an engagement when she owned up to the fact that she didn’t want to get married); say “yes” to saying “no” to the toxic people in your life (“Bye Felicia.” That’s a direct quote on page 224); being a mom is not a job – it’s who you are (this sounds like a Mommy War thing and it’s not – she has asked us all to put our curling irons down and call a truce. Deal); take a compliment (and knock it off with the self deprecation and humble BS as a reply. Just say “thank you”) and oh, Shonda Rhimes is a bada**. The book starts off with the following quote from Christina Yang (Grey’s fans know who she is): “If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something more.” If that speaks to you, then you may want to pick up this book. (One more thing before I move on: this link provides a a great summary of the book. Mothers, pay attention to #24. Everyone should live #27).

The Martian by Andy Weir – I have nothing to say about this book as I haven’t read it yet. Oh wait, I do want to say something: I might be the last person to have picked up this book. (And I’m looking forward to reading it!)

Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People. by Henry Carroll – I’m reading this book for the 100th time because I’ve been getting into trying creative ways to take photographs of my kids. It’s a great reference for those who want to take pictures of people (and not necessarily in a portrait type of way).

Royko in Love by Mike Royko – I’ve been a Mike Royko fan for about almost two decades. (Wow.) I used to occasionally read his columns back in high school when he work appeared in The Chicago Tribune (or was it The Sun Times? I don’t remember – forgive me, my age is catching up with me) and rediscovered him later on in life. To me, Royko is a funny man in an angry way – my favorite type of person. 😉 But he had a soft side when it came to his first wife Carol, who died at the age of 44. If you’ve read A November Farewell (his first column after her death), you’ll understand the love he had for her. (Just a note: don’t read the words in that link unless you have a box of Kleenex nearby.) Royko in Love predates A November Farewell and is a collection of letters Mike used to send Carol while he was stationed with the military. Basically, this is a love story told through his letters – so beautiful. And even though you know how it ends (he gets the girl), you can’t help but root for him. I’m not done with the book yet, but I’ve been enjoying it very much. (Can you tell?)

The Complete Portrait Manual by Popular Photography – This is somewhat similar to Henry Carroll’s book mentioned above except that it offers more creative ideas and technical know-how. This is a great reference that I bought way back when and have severely (!!!) underutilized since. Portrait photographers, you need to get your hands on this book.

And that’s pretty much it.

Oh, and in case I haven’t mentioned it, this is a great book for artists of any type:

"Do the Work" by Steven Pressfield

I should say its predecessor “The War of Art” is a MUST READ. Steven Pressfield is my spirit animal. (Shonda is too.)

The Osthoff Resort

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photography, Travel

I have two besties from college – I’ll call them J and M because they’re not internet people. Once upon a time, we used to be very good about taking annual trips somewhere. Then, life got a little busy for them as they have 5 kids between the two of them…and life was just starting for me. (Seriously, when they started having kids I pretty much just started my relationship with my now-husband.) I’ll just say that life MASSIVELY got in the way for all of us, and I’ll take up most of the blame as I (being the single one) could have rallied to get them to go on more vacations together. But I didn’t; however, I think they still like me. 😉 Anyway, J and M’s kids got older, so they were ready (aka more vocal) to take trips again….just as I was starting the whole parenting thing. LOL. They’re both really fantastic moms, so when The Osthoff was presented I (very reluctantly) said okay, knowing that they would help out with The Kid and The Girl. After a gazillion years, we managed to coordinate our schedules back in July to spend a few days up in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin with us girls, our kids and our husbands.

OMG, we all had the best time.

The resort was beautiful (“It’s like the set of Dirty Dancing“, J kept saying as the rest of us giggled in agreement) and a great setting for us to relax, bond, let the kids play and do our adult thing (wine). I am sitting here typing thinking of the mornings at the beach; babbling about nothing and everything; getting honked at by the locals while in the Walmart parking lot (hint: if you don’t want this to happen to you, don’t idle your car in the middle of an aisle….with an Illinois license plate. Wisconsinites don’t have a high tolerance for Illinoisans, ha!); relaxing at the spa; being forgotten about at the spa (but still getting to sit there sans children, so it still worked out in my favor); getting stuck on the elevator for about 5 minutes (with at least 2 people in our group coming off the elevator with tears of fear in their eyes); meeting the most outgoing girl named Paris (not that Paris) at the bar on our last night there; going on the hunt with J and M’s kids (just their kids) to find chicken tenders (I admit that I was the one that wanted them); M moonlighting each night as our condo’s DJ with her iPhone and Spotify account (“Diana would like to dedicate this next song to her bestie J…” [blares N’Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye”]) and many, many other little vacation snippets. If you truly want to bond and make memories with friends, forget Girls Night Out and plan a trip together – that’s truly the better way to “break bread”.

Belgium, Wisconsin
Almost there! Took a detour through Belgium….Belgium, Wisconsin

The Osthoff

The Osthoff
With his girlfriend

The Osthoff
They’re both in their happy place

The Osthoff
I can’t remember what was funny about this

The Osthoff Resort
Sitting poolside with The Girl. Photo taken by M

My people.
The Osthoff
The Osthoff
The Osthoff
The Osthoff
That one night everyone went to get ice cream, and I stayed behind to put The Girl to bed. It was weird to have the thirty or so minutes to myself, but I kinda liked it. 🙂
The Osthoff
The End.

Safe to say that we’ll be back at The Osthoff again next year. 🙂

Pictures from the Canon M6

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Life, photography

I said that the Canon M6 wouldn’t be my Go To Camera for photography stuff, but it has been going with me everywhere lately because 1) it’s lighter than Walter and 2) I’m trying to get better acquainted with it. I’m not that quick with the controls yet, but I did finally figure out how to manage the focus (instead of letting the camera do it for me). I also learned how to use the WiFi so that the pictures pop up on my iPhone and iPad. (Thank you, instruction manual.) Whoo hoo. Don’t get too excited for me yet because I haven’t figured out a quick way to change the ISO when shooting. Give me another week. 😛 But the last few days have been nice with the M6.

A few pictures:

photo taken with Canon M6


photo taken with Canon M6


photo taken with Canon M6


photo taken with Canon M6


photo taken with Canon M6

Since my main camera has a name, I think the M6 needs one too. I’m thinking Daphne (just because I like the name. No symbolism). I’m open to suggestions though!

As I’ve spent more time with Daphne (he he), I have a few more things I want to share about her:

1) This is a great camera to tote around with you, so that you don’t miss those everyday moments. (Moms, take note!)
2) I don’t bother with shooting RAW. I tried, but I didn’t think it was worth the file size. (Still going 100% RAW with Walter though.)
3) People don’t look at me funny with Daphne. I think they’re like, Awwww that’s so cute…there’s a mom taking pictures of her kids. I suspect that the same people would side-eye me when I use Walter and think to themselves, Settle down, Annie Leibovitz. Ha ha.

And on a completely random note, the other night I was YouTubing people and their experience with the M6. I went down a rabbit hole and might be currently addicted to this group of Vloggers based in the Philippines – Wil Dasovich (Wil’s video on the M6 was what kicked it off for me), his sidekick Daniel Marsh and Wil’s sister Haley. So yeah, #danley for life. Ha!

Playing with my new Canon M6

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in photography, Video

My husband got me the Canon M6 I was too chicken to buy. Thank goodness for birthdays, eh?

So I’ve been using it for a few days and yeah, I pretty much love it. See here:

To summarize my thoughts on the Canon M6:

  • I love the design
  • The flipscreen and autofocus make this a pretty stellar selfie camera, ha ha. Just kidding. Both are great for creating videos – or vlogging if that’s the avenue you want to explore. (Guilty.)
  • I’m a longtime Canon user, so I thought the learning curve would work out in my favor. Nope. Still trying to figure out the controls (took me awhile to turn off the autofocus)
  • I really like that it’s lightweight (compared to Walter), so it’s pretty much going to go with me everywhere
  • I don’t think this will be my go-to photography camera (Walter is my BFF when it comes to that), but this is definitely going to be my video/vlogging partner
  • Can’t wait to keep playing with this. And I’d love to see how this camera (on the photo side) performs once I get an adapter to use my EF lenses

Strings Ramen Shop

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Chicago, Food, food photography

Strings Ramen Shop Lakeview

On Sunday, I met my friend Nycole for an early dinner at Strings Ramen Shop in Lakeview. I hadn’t popped by the area in awhile (fun fact: I used to live a few blocks from Strings Ramen), so it was cool wandering up and down Belmont before meeting up with my dinner date. The camera stayed in my purse, so I didn’t get any pictures of the neighborhood (something I need to do one of these days though). But fear not, Walter came out when the food did.

I should mention that while we ordered quite a bit of food, we did something fairly lame: we didn’t order ramen. But the ramen looked pretty awesome. Nycole and I sat between a table of four and another table for two. The table of four had three different parties roll through while we were there – each one slurping through their ramen and leaving their bowls empty. The table of two had two guys – one of them ordered a second bowl! So I’m just going to say that the the ramen is probably worth ordering here.

But so are the other things on the menu!

Shrimp gyoza

Nycole’s freshly manicured hands holding the shrimp gyoza

Yuzo miso salmon sunomono (mixed vegetables in a sweet vinegar dressing). I could have eaten 10 of these bowls.

Spicy scallop donburi (rice with topping) – the scallops pretty much melted in our mouths. And that’s uni on top

Shredded turkey maze soba – my second favorite dish in this spread

I really enjoyed this meal, and if I lived in the area, I’d frequent this place all the time. So I’ll make my plea here: Come to the suburbs, Strings Ramen!!!


My (Last) Week In Pictures – 8/3/17

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Chicago, Life, photography

Hi hi,

Can you believe that it’s already August??? It’s been such a great summer that I’m trying to make my peace with the fact that the season is coming to an end. Sigh. Anyway, I’m still doing the Project 365 thing and thought I’d share a few favorites from the past week.

I don’t quite remember what was going on here, but I love that it looks like The Kid has just revealed something to The Girl & she is trying to process it. (I also love that Giada is in the background trying to get in on the conversation.)


Waiting for lunch:

The Three Amigos:

My friend was in town with her two daughters last week, so we met up with them at the Lincoln Park Zoo. We had such a fun time with them. I wish they lived closer, but my friend will be doing the Chicago Marathon in October so hopefully we’ll be able to reconnect again soon!



I don’t know if it’s summer (it is), but it’s been fun to get back to seeing people that I used to hang out with more regularly before we had kids. I kinda don’t want Summer 2017 to end….

Deerfield Farmers Market

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Deerfield Farmers Market

I popped into the Deerfield Farmers Market this past Saturday as I had driven past it a few times and kept meaning to go. And I have to say that it’s been my favorite suburban farmers market to date. (I still have to check out Evanston because something tells me that’s a pretty stellar one.) A few shots from my morning there –

blueberries from Deerfield Farmers Market


peaches from Deerfield Farmers Market


getting corn from Deerfield Farmers Market





Individual pies from Elsie Mae’s – a bakery in Chicago. I ended up bringing home a cherry apricot pie. I really should have gotten one of each flavor offered. 😉


I’m only adding the above picture of the woodfire pizza oven because I really want one. I mean, I don’t have anywhere to put one, but I still want one. 😉

One thing I didn’t get a taste of:

sign for crepes

I saw the stand, but The Girl was getting fussy so we bolted. Sigh. Next time. 🙂

Notes about this farmers market –

  • Dogs are allowed. So bring Fido!
  • Park behind the market. There were a good number of decent spots back there.
  • There’s a park behind the market. VERY cool/helpful if you are toting the kids along.
  • I didn’t get a chance to check it out, but visit the flower stand. There was a line at the tent, and I saw several people in and around the market with bunches of flowers. (I specifically saw bunches of sunflowers. It’s that time of year!)

Canon 100 mm macro lens

Posted Leave a commentPosted in food photography, photography, Portraits

Hi there & Happy Friday!

Since I’ve been shooting a lot of food pictures lately, I thought I wanted to invest in a macro lens. I wondered if I should make the $700 purchase, but figured I should rent it first before making an investment. (Borrowlenses.com is seriously a great place to rent photo gear.) I placed in the order and got it a few days later, paying $62.75 for one week usage (the price included the rental fee and shipping). When the package arrived, I was pretty giddy.

Canon 100 mm macro lens on table

I attached it on my camera, and I was pretty impressed. This definitely is a fantastic macro lens. I loved listening to the gliding motion of the lens focusing in on the subject – it’s smooth! A few image samples:

straw hat shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens
[A cool perspective of a straw hat I don’t use anymore.]

french press shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens


french press shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens


trader joes chocolate covered toffee shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens


trader joes chocolate covered toffee shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens


basket of toys shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens


cup of crayon shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens


slipper shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens
[Can you tell I have a dog?]

Since I was under the impression that this was also a good portrait lens, I decided to shoot the subjects I had available – Giada and The Girl. (The Kid was asleep.)

dog portrait shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens


shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens


dog and baby portrait shot with Canon 100 mm macro lens

While I can tell you with 1000% confidence that this is an AWESOME macro lens, I personally wouldn’t use it for portraits since it doesn’t “think” as quickly when it comes to focusing on faces. It’s just easier to use the 50 mm – and the results are A LOT better. Once I realized I didn’t like it as a portrait lens, my desire for it started to plummet (and I’m back to coveting the 85 mm that I’m too chicken to commit to).

So anyway, I’m having fun with the 100 mm macro lens and will continue to shoot things (and not people) with it over the weekend. At this time, however, I don’t think it’s a lens I need. (But what do we need really?) I’m pretty sure I’ll be renting from borrowlenses again in the next couple of weeks as I’ve been thinking about toting around something more lightweight to keep with me at all times – right now, I keep Walter on me 90% of the time and he’s just a little too heavy for his own good. I’m specifically looking at the Canon M6. (If I do end up purchasing the camera, I’m going with this beautiful retro looking model. Meow). I won’t lie, my brother got a Canon mirrorless (“My M5 is awesome….did I say you could touch it?!!!!??!!!”) and I was pretty jealous of how portable it was. Then, he showed me the flipscreen (“Can your camera do this?” Nope.). The price also seems to be right. (In a funny twist of events, he was in over this past weekend and I asked if he brought his camera. He didn’t. I told him I was thinking of the M6 instead the M5. Somewhere during this discussion – after thinking that his camera model went up in value – he realized that he owned the M3 not the M5. Aye.). Anyway, I admit that I have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) at the moment. But whatever. We all have our vices.;)