places I love: New Jersey

Typically when I say “I love New Jersey” people assume I’m talking about the shore. While I have nothing against the Jersey Shore, I’m referring to the other side of the state. Just this past week I was able to spend some time around Frenchtown, where Chris’s family resides, where things are green, beautiful, and peaceful.

We spent a relaxing morning walking around Frenchtown, and I played around with my camera and snapped some photos. I love the little quirky stuff around the town, including the knitted wraps around trees, poles, benches, and ornaments. If you ever get a chance to stop by, please do – I promise you won’t regret it!

ps. I found this link about guerilla knitting. I’m telling you, this place is awesome!

Sunday Inspiration: umbrellas

I saw these images a few days ago and they stuck with me so I wanted to share them with you. What I love about them is that although  umbrellas are typically used during dark and stormy weather, this installation in Portugal is a playful contrast. Apparently they were part of an exhibit for an art festival called Agitagueda. I love the beautiful colors and how quaint that town looks. Certainly scratches the itch to travel abroad!

ImagePhotos by Patrícia Almeida (via My Modern Met)

my love affair

I must confess. I’ve been having an affair. With my iPhone.

Phew. There, I said it. My poor little DSLR must hate me. But it’s just too bulky for me to take everywhere! My iPhone is sleek and adaptable. It has allowed me to just capture moments and memories without having to fiddle with the ISO, shutter speed, or aperture.

Now, DSLR diehards, please don’t hate me too much — it has allowed me to take more pictures than I would otherwise, and that’s the key to improving your photography: just take more photographs! Here are some of my favorites.

Eataly, NYC. November 2011

Holiday Buddha. December 2011

Hungry for cake. December 2011

Georgia Dome. December 2011

Snowy Charlottesville, VA. February 2012

a girl’s best friend

I didn’t grow up with pets and my first “pets” were beetles (not kidding). I had fish when I was little but the poor things never lasted very long. It wasn’t until high school that my parents finally allowed me to get a cat (and now he’s replaced me in the family tree).

Animals don’t judge, they don’t criticize (although I beg to differ with the aforementioned cat), and all they’re concerned about is now. We could learn a lot from them.

I’ve spent a significant amount of time volunteering and working with animals through local SPCAs, animal hospitals, and the Wildlife Center of Virginia. They hold a very special place in my heart. My hope is that one day I’ll own some land and be surrounded by lots of four-legged friends.

My friend, Jenny, feels similarly about animals and has even started her own dog-training business! In effort to continue my quest of saving the world, I helped out by photographing her and her pretty boxer, Kyla. This is my favorite picture of the bunch!

 

Ps. Check out her business page, Diligent Dogs!

it’s a new year!

I hit the big TWO-FOUR last week so I’m officially a big girl. Here’s an update on what I’ve been up to!

  • Food – I really don’t like the word “diet” but the way I eat is mostly paleo. I’m avoiding dairy whenever possible because I’m lactose-intolerant and it gives me acne (and feeling like a 14 year old was bad enough the first time around), eat my heavy carbs post-workout, and indulge in wine, dark chocolate, and homemade treats. Whenever possible we will continue to eat seasonally and locally.
  • Fitness – Just ended a strength cycle at CrossFit Charlottesville and hit several big PRs. I followed my plan to only go to the gym three times a week and it worked brilliantly – I was never overtrained, unhappy at the gym, or restless. I’m going to continue that habit for the time being. CrossFit Total numbers listed below
      • Backsquat: 167lbs
      • Shoulder Press: 67lbs
      • Deadlift: 201lbs
      • Total: 435 (a 50lb PR from March 2011)
  • Photography – had my very first client this past December! I had an exceptional time with the family and it couldn’t have gone any better. The session made me want to jumpstart my photography so I’ve set up my photography website for all to see! Go to www.jennigabriela.com to view my work!

A shot from the family shoot! Tonks is the cutest dog!

Days 211 – 219

Alright, confession time: I’m definitely going through a blogging lull. It’s an incredibly busy time right now (including my first time shooting at a wedding, mastering kale, working too many doubles, double-under whip burns, driving like a mad woman around Virginia, and barely getting enough sleep) so I hope I’ll be inspired to blog/write more in the next couple of weeks. Can I get a free pass for these pictures?

Beautiful bride, beautiful wedding. A great experience for me.

A completely local breakfast. Forest-fed sausage, poached eggs on top of Swiss Chard. I love you, Charlottesville City Market.My love affair with okra is only getting worse.

Artwork done completely in chalk on the Downtown Mall’s Freedom of Speech Wall.

I was testing out my own recipe for kale chips (they’re really good, btw) but my battery died before I could photograph the entire process. Sorry :(
Red Velvet Cupcakery in Reston, VA. So rich and decadent. 
Chris has been away all summer teaching the Spirit of Atlanta drumline. As you can see, it’s a terrible life. (His friend Drake, who also teaches, laying on the floor).
Recipe for Saturday night: stuffed eggplant. Two of the main ingredients pictured.
An Italian-inspired dinner: basil cauliflower rice, topped with balsamic ground beef and peppers, side of grape tomato & almond salad, red wine for effect.
Events not pictured: slowly but surely converting my mom to the paleo diet, my first strict chin-up (!!!!), becoming a composting expert, reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, and double-under war wounds. And lots of other things that I can’t remember. C’est la vie!

Days 206, 208, 209

Do you ever have those days when you’ve got a thousand thoughts/ideas running through your head but can’t fully grasp a single one? That’s kind of how this week has been thus far. Quite frankly, I’m blaming it on coffee.

Spent Monday night at a coworker’s Good-bye get-together at a local bar. It really says something when you like hanging out with your coworkers outside of work; trust me, it’s miserable when that’s not the case.

No picture for Tuesday night because it completely slipped my mind but I had a delicious dinner with the ladies from CrossFit Charlottesville at a local burger joint.Ha, all my other friends must be sick of me talking about CrossFit but these girls understand!

Wednesdays are always long days but highly productive. It proves my theory that a person is far more productive the busiest days. Spent the evening talking photography with fellow photogs at the Charlottesville Photography Initiative’s Small Discussion Groups. For those unfamiliar with the group, it’s a great way to converse with other photographers and get inspired to try new things. The feedback you receive is priceless as they actually know what they’re talking about. I got home and made myself my favorite dessert as of late: canned coconut milk, frozen berries, and a drizzle of Barlean’s Chocolate Raspberry Swirl. Om nom.

Ah, sweet Thursdays. Thursdays are my days off and have become my mental rest days (not physical rest days). Went to the gym in the morning to complete Fran for the first time – wowza, that’s a killer. I can’t believe that there are people who can complete it RX in under two minutes (video). Spent the rest of the day reading, lounging and cooking (obviously). I’m making kale chips about once a week now and I think I’ve perfected the recipe (after several smoke alarm mishaps). I made two batches this afternoon and somehow managed to devour both by dinner (hey, a girl’s gotta eat).

Before and after.

Side note: while relaxing this afternoon, I thought I’d give the old pull-up bar a try and managed to get my first strict chin-up! I danced around for about a minute or two to celebrate.

Day 205 – 7.24.2011

Some relief from the heat today! A small rainstorm rushed through and left puddles everywhere. Sidenote: I’ve also been playing around with Aperture all day so please forgive the post-processing flaws, it’s the only way I’ll learn.

 

I’ve mentioned before that I try to get one item from the Farmer’s Market that I’ve never dealt with before – this week’s victim: okra. Now, I didn’t really know what okra was because I’ve only eaten once (and it was fried). But! It was fun looking up recipes and techniques on cooking it. Several articles warned me that it was slimey but it wasn’t terrible! Smelled kinda funny but it added to the adventure. I ended up using this recipe but subbed cayenne pepper and a spice rub for the chili powder. (I also ended up burning my hand in the process and may have yelled out several expletives which may or may not have been heard down my street.) The cayenne pepper gave them a really good kick! They were delicious! Definitely going to make these again (sans hand-burning hopefully).

 

 

 

Day 182 – 7.1.2011

I am DETERMINED to get over my fear of photographing people I don’t know. I forced myself to linger around the Downtown Mall and shoot since there were lots of people walking around. After seeing my friend Kyle perform The Anatomy of Frank’s solo act, I ventured towards the Pavillion for some good solid crowd exposure. And of course, I immediately got self-conscious and was hesitant to start shooting but I did it anyway.

Yeah, I’m still unsure of myself but mostly I don’t want people thinking I’m a creep – although, I guess I am! Anyhoo, I’m going to attempt to immerse myself with as many crowds as I can because everyone knows: practice makes perfect!

Also, I’m at the mid-way point of the 365 Project! Whoo! 183 more opportunities to learn!

Day 180 – 6.29.2011

I’ve had a lot of free time recently but it feels like I’m always rushing around. Ever since I was young, I’ve thrived on structure – everything must be scheduled. That’s what I’m almost never late to anything. But lately, it’s been making me a little crazy. With so much time to do what I want, I end up not accomplishing anything. I spend a lot of time debating with myself about what to do instead of JUST DOING IT. My mind’s constantly churning out ideas and projects or goals and I need to simplify, organize, and do.

A couple of days ago I finished reading The Zen of Creativity by John Daido Loori and have been inspired to pursue photography (and everything else) with a much deeper intention. We’ll see how this goes.