Friday, July 27, 2007

Jaden The Romantic

Our young knight in shining armor son, Jaden as a ring bearer in one of our recent weddings.

Boy will we have our hands full when our son, Jaden, hits puberty. He is truly a romantic at heart. I have got to share these great & hilarious and heart warming stories with you all about what my son did over the past few weeks.

My brother, Jason, came to visit us from Chicago and Jaden really bonded with his Uncle. He bonded so much with him that he had his back when we visited Neptune Beach. While we were hanging out in the sand, our two kids were building a sand castle with a tunnel leading all around it. About a couple feet away was this young woman laying in the sun reading a book. When we discovered Jaden was getting sand all over the place my husband gracefully approached the woman apologizing on Jaden's behalf. When Noel returned to our seats he regretted that he didn't send my brother to do the talking. My brother is getting over a relationship that left him high and dry so we decided to see if we could get him to meet the girl at the beach. Being that my brother was a liittle too chicken to do the job I decided to get Jaden involved. I mean who could resist a young charming boy like Jaden! I asked Jaden to draw his line aka "tunnel" to lead to the young girl so that Uncle Jason could talk to the pretty girl. We thought that if Jaden got more sand on her that would give my brother a "reason" to approach her. We thought we had it all planned out and it was perfect, right? Wrong!!! Immediatley Jaden ran to the woman and started talking to her. Our hearts sank in shock wondering what he was saying. Talking to the girl was not in the plan, the poor boy was suppose to just make way of this tunnel in her direction. As we scarcely watched Jaden talk to her she started to laugh. Oh no, what was he telling her. A few minutes later Jaden returned to us and we begged him to tell us what he told her. Here are his exact words: "Hi pretty girl, I'm going to draw a line close to you so that he will love you" as he pointed to my brother!!!! Of course my brother turned as red as a beet and refused to approach the woman after that!! So much for using a cute little boy to do the trick!!

Ok, I've got another ADORABLE story to tell you all. With Uncle Jason's last day here we went to my favorite fast restaurant, MOES. Being that it was a Tuesday night they had the bouncer out for the kids. While Jason and I ate we watched this cute little blonde hair blue-eyed girl following Jaden around in the bouncer. She wanted to keep talking to him and Jaden happily chatted her up. When it was time to leave, we called for the kids to come and Jaden ran up to me with this cute girl next to him and said, "Mommy she wants me to call her. She gave me her phone number but I don't remember it can you remember it?" Right away the girl recited her phone number to me out loud. Laughing I asked the girl where her mother way and when I approached her I said, "Do you know your daughter is handing out her phone number?" She replied in shock with a "yes and boy are we going to have a talk about it." The girl then excitedly told me that she liked my boy and he was her friend now. When I asked her what his name was, knowing she probably didn't know, she sadly stated that he hadn't told her his name. After the two exchanged names Jaden complimented her and said, "You have a pretty name. And you are beautiful!" Oh was this too adorable!! When we said our good-byes I told Jaden that I didn't remember Haley's number and with a loud sigh of concern and deep disappointment he replied, "OH NO! Mommy no! You must get her number I told her I'd call her." I apologized and began driving off and that's when he said, "But mommy I love her!" My brother and I were about to die just then. A 4-year old in love with a girl who was twice his age! Hoping he'd forget about his little crush, my husband told me that just today he asked for Haley again. Oh dear!

Jaden also fell in love with one of my bride's, actually scratch that, two of my brides! He attended both weddings and was heart broken when he discovered that they were marrying someone else. "You mean she doesn't love me?" was his sad plea. He'd follow the brides everywhere holding their long veils and happily telling them how beautiful they were. Oh yeah, my last wedding I had him kiss the bride in a photo with the wedding party in the background, after all he was the ring bearer and I had to include him in the shots, he did not stop talking about that kiss for days!! Here is that's so precious huh!
(Click photo to enlarge)

Jaden is such a romantic that he truly cares for all girls, even his own sister. Just a few days ago he saw a barbie fan in the store and so wanted to buy it for his big sister because he thought she'd really like that. He also bought roses for my daughter's best friend because I think he likes her too. And then when I was in the JCrew store at the St. John's Town Center, he found a magazine with a pretty girl on it and shouted to me that, "Mommy this is the girl that I am going to marry." All the employees laughed but Jaden didn't make any sport of it he was serious about his claim. Either he's going to break many hearts when he gets older or he'll have his heart broken many times. Noel and I can't decide which one it'll be. All we know is that we definitely have a boy on our hands that strongly appreciates pretty nice girls. Trust me, we're training this boy early on to be a gentelmen and to hold up a girl in utmost regard and respect.

Who knows what'll await us next with this young handsome little guy.

Here are photos of Uncle Jason with the kids. Can you tell I've got my kids trained in photography, even Jaden is trying to assist his uncle in smiling for the camera!!!

Miranda grabbed the camera and begged to set up the next photo in which she directed me to kiss my brother on the cheek. Not a bad framing and composing job huh! Way to go Miranda!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vegan Cheesecake...and yes it's good!!!

Ok for all you vegan skeptical folks out there, I have something that'll knock your socks off...and taste buds too! So many of you ponder on how I could be a vegan. It always makes me laugh when I tell people that I'm vegan and their eyes widen in shock when they come to realize that means I don't eat meat OR dairy. In the midst of their "horror" this is the most commonly asked question, "then what the heck do you eat? What's left?" Boy is there A LOT left to eat so much that I actually GAINED weight when I became vegan. The food tasted better because of all the spices and variety! But trust me, I didn't become vegan over night. Like others I too thought I could never give up chicken or worse, my dairy, but you'll be surprised at what you can do when your perspective on life changes.

Before I became a vegan, one of my favorite indulges in life was...drum roll please.... THE CHEESECAKE!!! I was in sheer heaven eating a cheesecake. Everyone knows the famous Cheesecake Factory, well I was a huge fan of theirs and up until recently, as a vegan, I use to feel so sad whenever I'd walk by the St. John's Town Center and look at all those lucky people waiting outside in line to get in! I knew that as a vegan now, I would no longer get to enjoy what many others were enjoying, their famous cheesecakes..and although I strongly believe in loving animals and treating them with utmost respect, compassion and humanity, I have to admit, it's not easy giving up all foods you love.

Well guess what!! I don't have to. My husband took me to this famous vegetarian/vegan restaurant called The Chicago Diner , of course located in the awesome and hip city of Chicago! I literally cried looking at the PAGES of PAGES within their menu. The meal and dessert options I had as a vegan seemed endless! Just incredible!!! To top it off, I nearly fell apart when I saw cheesecake listed under their dessert menu! I sat like a child with immense anticipation awaiting for the yummiest treat of all. When the server brought my vegan cheesecake to me, I felt as if I should be video'd. This was a moment in history folks! Darice Michelle was going to finally have her cake and EAT IT TOO! Wha hoo!! And let me tell you all, it was sooooooooo good I bought their cookbook for the cheesecake recipe alone. I know what you're all thinking, OH PLEASE a cheesecake is not a cheesecake without the cheese. Well for all you non-vegan believers that think vegan desserts don't compare to dairy ones, I challenge you to make this yourself and tell me it's not superb!

Vegan Cheesecake
(the proportions below will make a thin cheesecake, if you prefer the thick version like in the photo, then double this receipe)

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tbs soy margarine melted
2 tbs water

2 cartons of soft tofu
2 1/2 tbs lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tbs vanilla extract
3 tsp lemon zest

Topping (choose any of the following):
* Vegan Chocolate Syrup (Native Sun sells this)
* Strawberry Syrup with strawberries
* Raspberries
* Fresh Mint Leaves to garnish

Preheat Oven to 350'

Using a food processor break up the graham crackers (around 6 rectangular squares - be sure to size the crumbs after). Mix in melted soy butter and water. Press the mixture firmly into an 8-in springform pan or 10-inch pie pan and bake 8 minutes.

Using a food processor again, and blend all filling ingredients until smooth. Pour the filling into the baked graham crust and bake 30-35 minutes. Place cheesecake into fridge for at least an hour to firm up the cake. Place your favorite toppings on and serve with joy! Delicious!!!!

It's so good, no one will know it's vegan!!!!

P.S. Now I don't have to envy those customers standing for long periods of time waiting to get into the Cheesecake Factory!! Ha, now I feel sorry for them!!! Ha ha.

Thank You Chicago Diner!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ryan and Laura's Wedding

Boy was it fun shooting Ryan and Laura's wedding! There's nothing more exciting then drama at a wedding, it keeps everyone on their toes. It rained hard that day so we had to go to plan B which was move the wedding from outside the Sawgrass Club by the beach to one of their indoor rooms. There were several snafu's throughout the day, yet Laura and Ryan only cared about one thing, that was marrying each other. It was so moving to see these two exchange their vows. There was real love in the air this day! The wedding itself was beautiful, but the people involved were what made this day very special....and rockin'! Boy does this group know how to party!! This wedding was such a blast to capture. Michelle and I loved everything from the people, the dancing, the beautifully decorated reception all the way to the photo booths and their jammin' band. Here are 50 photos highlighting their great day.