Wednesday, June 30, 2010

sending a little michigan love & a HDP Q&A!

we made it back to michigan last week! i feel like we have been traveling even more this past year, especially to michigan. this is where most of our biological family (the one not consisting of the friends that we have turned into our family in florida) lives and we love to visit as often as we can.

peyton and becks were invited to the cockpit as we boarded the plane. there were 100 people behind us waiting to board and i thought someone may throw an orange at my head to move my butt out of aisle, but i just HAD to grab my camera with one hand (the other hand had an iced coffee and two travel bags occupying it at the time). i nearly fell forward, bum in the air trying to get my camera out it's case in time.

jeff works out of both states easily and up until this year, we never had to worry about the kids missing school or friends and their activities...

of course, we all know that will be changing in the fall, due to our baby heading off to the real world of kindergarten...i know, i know-i am a big baby, but more than ever i am enjoying the freedom that comes with having children that are not of school age. i get to hold on to that for about 6 more weeks. my knuckles are white with strain, but they're holding up well. ha.

for now, at least for the the summer we are here in our hometown located in michigan. the magical place that merges both the oldest friends and family with lots of work and some play. we take our annual vacations while we are here. a camping trip to canada with my family and a golf trip up north with the husband's family.

we are jam packed busy, and while i sometimes/once in a while complain like a bitchy old ingrate, usually when i'm overwhelmed with work or obligations, mostly i drink in the beauty of our summer trips to michigan.

we fill our time here with late night walks while the air becomes cooler and the sky darkens causing all the colors around us to naturally saturate. the flowers, the grass, the black-eyed susans look even more delicious in this light and i silently scold myself for not taking these walks each and every night. the kids are always on the look for a furry cattail even though they tell me they want to find the flower with the hot dog "that you can't eat on the top!"

last week, we headed to an old farm called guernsey farms. it's pretty close to where we stay and it's an excellent way to reunite my big family after not seeing them for a while. so, one quick phone call to one sister and soon the phone chain begins and the text messages and calls start flowing in to my phone

i heard we're meeting for ice cream? what time?

did you call mom?

how about elaina and jeremy?

peter's working, but i can make it. where are we meeting? are we hanging afterward?

make sure you call so and so...

bring wipes, extra clothes, and a blanket.

oh shoot, we forgot taryn. someone call her...quick.

NO, you were supposed to call.

lets call grandma and grandpa!

heidi, they've been in bed for hours.

yes, we are a crazy chas-filled bunch, but a bunch that is filled with love for one another. and while i turn away in embarrassment from the loud italian herd that i love so dearly...i wouldn't trade 'em for anything and i love to share these memories together.

here are some photos from the other night. i have sooo much more and i promise to post more! swear, i really want to and i will, but for now...


ice cream!!!






cousins chasing one another in the makeshift playground in front of the shop...



cute baby boys...



brothers turned sisters into dragons with a wave of peyton's new homemade and sparkly wand...


mama's were lazy and turned in time to see this...


stop him or grab the cam? stop or grab?



cool auntie tawny,






papa and boy, together again!





please note that no children were harmed in the making of this perfect summer's night!

and yes, the paul frank monkey shirt is beckham's fave! he wears it almost everyday!

other stuff we do...



(nads, we LoVe the shirt. love you. miss you too.)

we take play doh arguably the safest of all kids crafts. i mean, you can eat it and nothing happens.

however, we add the most unsafe element to it, fire. and what do we have,

a playdoh birthday cake for gido complete with candle and a birthday jingle.

happy birthday, gido!


i don't have any recipes for this post, well, i have an abundance of recipes that i should post, but i promised some heidi darwish photography information, so i will focus on that this time! this post may not be the best one to do this post on as, there are no pro photos on it, just real life pictures...out of focus, unscripted, but real and fun!

i have been receiving some questions via email and through my blog with photography questions and comments. first off, i am honored that anybody would ask me questions about photography, but some of you are and i can't tell how amazing that feels. with that said, i am just giving you a little bit of information on what i use and what i do to create the art that i like. to what pleases my eye. every artists/photographer has their own style and i am still exploring and defining mine.

Heidi Darwish Photography Q&A

the photo editing software i use is...

adobe photoshop lightroom 2 & adobe photoshop cs4

an upgraded version of both have now been released.

i use lightroom on all of my images. i upload them into the program and i concentrate on exposure and skin tones. i use the exposure, blacks, vibrance, and the noise control sliders the most.

i also play with the adjustment brushes if i want more control over a specific area. for example, skin clarity or saturation.

i use photoshop cs4 on very few of the images that go onto my blog. my blog was started as and remains my personal blog that i use to document our life. photography is a huge part of it, so that is why i still post some of my professional photos on the blog. with that said, only a few family photos get to take the 'cs4 ride.'

all professional photos (photos i have been hired to take) get a little extra lovin.' they get take the 'ride' through photoshop before going to the client.

in photoshop, i always work in layers (command j).

then, i use curves (command m) to brighten and add contrast.

next, i go to



and i mess with- hue/saturation & color balance, shadows/highlights.

finally, i lightly sharpen the photo and save it.

this is a very basic break down, but it may help some of you who feel overwhelmed and with no place to begin in a very big and powerful program like photoshop. i am not a huge 'photoshopper,' so i do not know how to swap heads and make your pet monkey look like a real baby. ha. honestly, i know about 1% of cs4. maybe not even.

here is an example of a photo right out my camera that is not especially sharp or properly exposed, but it's real so i figured i would share it...


and the same photo with a little extra time invested in cs4...




and with edits using lightroom only...


maybe a tad bright, but it doesn't bother me. some photos i work on more than others as far as punches of color go. if i am

going for a more editorial look, i definitely have a way of doing things to make that happen. however, most of the

time, i like a more natural look. it just depends on what i feel when i look at the photo.

on both of the 'after' photos, i did smooth the skin and brighten the eyes a bit. it is a pretty subtle change though.

both of the SOOC photos were under exposed, so i needed to brighten. my hubs says that some of my photos are a tad too

bright, but i just go until i see what looks right to me. again, properly exposed photos taken in camera is the best

place to start!

do you know the difference between aperture and lightroom?

no, i have never used aperture, but i hear it is very comparable and similar to lightroom and

it works well on a mac.

mac or pc?

my pc and i broke up about 6 months ago. i cried and screamed and missed my pc,

but now i am happily married to a macbook pro!

how did you learn photography?

self-taught!!! bf is a photog and has helped me tons, AND lots of late nights reading

books and googling. the book i learned the most from though is understanding exposure.

my friend, deena turned me onto it and it helped me sooooo much at the beginning and

still does today. i think i have a retention disorder, so i am the girl who has to

read something 20 times before it sticks. then it sticks for like 6 months and i need to learn it again.

PRACTICE. shoot everyday day! i practice every single day. it's easy with two babies running around:)

how do you get your photos to look good indoors?

usually, i don't try to get good photos indoors. most often, the photos i take indoors are blurry or grainy

but that is because i saw something that my kids did and i wanted to capture it in a split second

so i just started shooting.

if i'm doing a shoot indoors or trying to get a really good shot inside, i try to be as near to

a light source as possible. i try to have my subject facing the windows or sliders so their faces

are being illuminated evenly. i have south facing windows which is the BEST, but those

windows are covered which is the WORST. just look for good light in your home and try to

remember how the light moves throughout your house. i am not great at lighting, but i hope this

helps a little.

do you use flash?

NO, never! & sometimes, yes.

i am a natural light photog. i love the way it looks. it is softer and more luxurious.

with that said, with non-pro photos and the wedding i did last month, i was forced to use my on

camera or accessory flash when enough light wasn't available to grab focus.

which slr camera and lenses do you use?

canon 50D. i love it!

*canon 50mm, 1.4

canon 85mm, 1.8

canon 24-70, 2.8

i want a good lens to take better pics of my kids. what do you think?

50mm, 1.8 (about hundred bucks and a great lens) or 50mm, 1.4 (just under $400)

if you are shooting with a nikon, i am pretty sure the nikor 50mm, 1.8 is NOT an autofocus lens,

but the 1.4 is.

i want a better camera, but i don't want to spend a grand. what do you think?

i don't know, but i have a few friends that have the canon rebels and i have seen that they

take beautiful photos!

nikon or canon?

ha. peyton or beckham? they are BOTH amazing companies and leaders in photog equip.

go with either, you can't go wrong. personally, i went with which camera felt good in

hands. i like heavy. i find it stables me a bit. actually, that could be in my head:)

where do you buy your stuff?


i am trying to think of all the questions i have been asked and i am drawing a blank. i should have

done one of these posts months ago, but i hope you find some of this basic info helpful.

again, this is just what i am doing/using. i am know there are other fabulous ways of rocking

out the photog thing!


and before i go...


girls just wanna have fu hun!!!!

jenn, aka., a kindred spirit, my amazing sister-friend who i love so dearly and could spend everyday with recharged our batteries.

we didn't spend much at all, but we looked and oohed and ahhed over more than our share of duds. we did it just enough to be

basically kicked out of the store on a sunday afternoon. we closed the place down but not before contemplating what it would be like to

be locked in the store all night with nothing but the threads around us and the godiva chocolate bars that are kept by the cash machine!

that would be so cool.

so after we had to leave, we headed over to target! i needed vitamin c drops and a red shirt for peyton.

what we found...




some really cool hats and a few rockin' fedoras! i love target!

thanks for reading and i'll be back soon. more posts...more posts, i'm chanting now. loosy, you

got me started ;)

too tired to read this over and check for errors. i apologize in advance:)



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

summer weeding has begun...

is it just me or am i always in the weeds? like. oh. my. goodness i am drowning is stuff to do and get done. whew. it feels so good to be logged into blogger ignoring the housework, photo editing, and kids for a few minutes. ha. kidding, the kids are with daddy, but i would be ignoring them if they weren't.

let's face it, we all have to ignore the kiddies at some point just to get. it. done. part of my problem is the mindset i have about taking the kids somewhere everyday. i used to be guilty of this., and even though i am better about it, i am still riddled with guilt if i haven't done something special with the kids.

special could mean a walk around the block, or an ice cream off of the ice cream truck...but i do pressure myself to give my kids experiences each day. it's exhausting. finally, at the brink of exhaustion, kelle told me to stop it.

(vote for kelle here! she is throwing her hat in the ring to win her own tv show. it would be amazing because she is amazing and has so much to share with us!)

what's wrong with letting the kids play inside? it teaches them to find ways to entertain themselves instead of having to be stimulated out of the house. SOLD. i took it and ran, and while i feel the guilt creep up every once in a while, i am way better at letting the kids just do what they do. with this said, we have been doing a lot, trying to fit it all in before we leave for michigan!

we are having a great time and with the daily thunder/lightening/black sky storms we have been's been like heaven.

father's day came and went. it was a wonderfully lazy day with an impromptu dinner with friends, and lounging around on the couch. man, i really love my couch. does it ever feel weird to be laying on your couch, because you don't do it enough? it felt so weird to actually lay my head on a pillow on my couch this weekend. totally means i need to do it more often!

i didn't take many father's day photos, but here are the ones i did take...
peyton and beckham chose a couple of bouquets of flowers for daddy and then they helped make breakfast for him.
then, daddy golfed and when he returned, they went outside and looked for baby lizards...
after we released the baby back to the comfort of our lanai....
i prepared daddy's father's day dinner...
happy father's day, daddy! we love you so much!
here is the photo book peyton and beckham made for daddy. we made it at snapfish.

jeff is an amazing father in so many ways, but mostly just because he loves his kids so
deeply and shows them every single day. we are a touchy family, we kiss and hug and
say i love you a hundred times a day. i love that he is the kind of dad that shows his love
with actions.

i know my kids are lucky to have him, and i can't think of anyone else more perfect.
thank you for being an exceptional father to our babies, xoxo.

and to my own dad, i love you for taking care of all of us through so many rough times.
for getting up for work after only three hours sleep without complaint. and for being
papa to my own little ones. xoxo

i can't forget gido! what can i say? you are amazing. we love you.

and my grandpa. unconditional love forever. i love you & yes, i'm carrying mace;)

***out of order, but i served the basil chicken with pasta made with my homemade sauce! it is really, really good and
it's the way my mom taught me minus the wine-jeff's not a fan of the vino. it's super easy. you can find this recipe here.
if you have any questions, just email me. i realize i need
to be more detailed with my recipes. i have gotten some requests for that, and i promise to do better...
on the next food post:)

we filled our week with this...
oh, this little boy is the sweetest thing ever. i am in love with his personality and he's funny. really funny.
i think he's learned some of his wit from his sister. lately, he's been responding to things with an enthusiastic
"oh yeah!!!"

beckham, did you score a goal?
oh yeah, mama!

beckham, did you have fun at the park?
oh yeah!

beckham, did you finish your dinner?
oh yeah, mama. (this one was a lie. the kid won't eat these days)

it's always followed by the biggest, kindest smile ever.

our little mother hen. after i took this picture, a kid i had never seen before, walked out when his mother
called him to leave. i heard him tell her,
"a little girl was picking me up and carrying me around. it was fun."

ha, i didn't see it, but it made me laugh. and... girlfriend is strong!

then, we got our hair cut. i wanted a bob, she wanted it long. we compromised and i don't see much
of a difference, but she loves it and we had a great time at the 'adult hair salon.'
becks couldn't stand it, he had to have his hair washed too. the kind hair stylist did it with a smile. no charge. score!

our baby girl did great. i had to hold her hand for most of it, but she was so into it. she didn't move...or smile the whole time. she was
taking it all in.

when we left she told me it was boring. go figure.

then, home for some sparklers. i bought the wrong kind, these are big and freaked me out a bit, but we were cautious.

i love summer nights. i feel like we're on vacation every single night. we have late night popsicles and we
eat more fruit. we listen to the residual thunder and spy heat lightening!

we dream up more places to go. more than we will ever have the time or funds to do, but there's nothing
wrong with talking about it. it's like winning the lottery in your daydream and then saying to the person
in the room with you, "hey, let's pretend we won a million dollars and talk about how we would
tell our families and how we would spend the part that wasn't going to charity-bc, of course that's a given.!"

bus to pick up my mom, sisters and grandma for a spa retreat. a cherry red pick-up for gram, a vette
for daddy parked in the drive with a big blue on it, random anonymous checks to friends to help pay off

ha, we don't often play the lottery, so we are not likely to win, but it is so much fun to pretend!

*i have been busy with a few photo shoots!! to have fun and be inspired by something other than a little guy
wiping his own poopy butt is not only essential, but very creatively fulfilling as well.
i have to say though, as a mama, a child wiping his own poopy butt is as good as a glass of wine and new us weekly.
throw in a free twenty minutes to enjoy it and we have ourselves a tie!

it's been hot out so i have been trying to make it fast, so when we were kicked out of an area for trespassing
apparently the hotel guests shouldn't be disturbed by my 'screeching' that early in the morning...ha.
well, i totally understood that! luckily though, only a few minutes was needed to capture this
beautiful mama and her babies, lila and aj!


and i have so many great ones, that i could go on forever, but instead i will show you what else keeps jennifer busy these days besides
these two beautiful babies...
she designs and makes the most beautiful, organic bracelets for mama & child.

how cute is this? bracelets can be made to match for both mama and daughter, they are called Bonding Bracelets. she is in the process
of designing a line for boys as well and they are to be called Buoy Bracelets! oh, i love it. jenn designs these beautiful
creations out of inspiration she gets from her favorite places by the sea! you can learn more at her blog site.

*another pretty girl...
lauren looks so much like lauren hutton to me. she is enchanting and so natural in front of the camera. she is
amazing and so sweet and beautiful. she earned her ice cream that hot night!

oh, i had the best time with her and her mommy. lauren cured the killer headache that had been attacking me that day. it was too much
fun, and the headache didn't stand a chance!!!

*and, as promised, a killer cherry chocolate oatmeal scone recipe! my kids LOVE scones. really, they love the
starbucks scones that are coated in glazed sugar. which is fine at times, but i wanted to try a healthier
alternative and i LOVE these. they are so good and easy to make.
2cups flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 c sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 c buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 c dried cherries
1 cup dark chocolate chunks

preheat oven to 350. lightly butter a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
stir together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. using a pastry blender (i didn't
know what that was so i used two butter knives to cut in butter the butter until the mixture looked like crumbs.

in another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and the egg. add this to the other bowl with the flour mixture.
add cherries and chocolate as well. if you knew me well, you'd know that i upped the chocolate amount
from the original recipe. the original recipe called for 1/2 cup. i think it NEEDS a full cup. these are dense
and heavy. and true to a scone's making, not very sweet, so for me the chocolate makes this an amazing
treat or healthy breakfast.

stir with a fork until evenly moistened, try to not to over stir. dough will look crumbly.

scrape dough onto floured surface and with floured hands, work the dough into a bal. divide the ball into
8 equal sized pieces and gently pat each piece to about 1 1/2 inches thick.

bake until tops are golden, about 25-30 minutes. cool before you eat one! i burned my mouth on a melted
ps of chocolate. not fun, i have to say:)

i found this recipe from the william-sonoma eating well cookbook. it's my mother-in-laws cookbook,
but i loved it when i leafed through it.

one of my favorite past times is to go through cookbooks and make
lists. it's a great way to learn and when you are in a what-to-cook-tonight-funk, it lifts ya right up!

okay, that's all i've got for today, but i have so much more to share.
*a hat fashion show at target.
*and due to the frequent photography questions i am getting, i will be answering some
of those in a photog q&a of sorts. i'm not a big time photog, but since you ask, i am soooo honored to share what works
for me. it may not be the best way to do things, but maybe it is...who know. lol! i love to help because i know
how it feels to not know jack crap about it and want to know so much.
*more recipes in the que and of course, more of my babies growing up.

have i mentioned how insanely happy & insane they make me. all in one.

happy summering! here's hoping that your summer nights are filled with races to the
car to get to your nearest dairy queen after dinner and WAAAY past the kids bedtimes...
and just so you know, it's always better eaten while sitting on a non-chair in front the dairy queen. when we were kids, we would sit on the
curb in front of the shop...all six of us kids! memories.