photography friday! week 5

Friday, December 30, 2011

Just a few pictures this Photography Friday, and surprise, surprise! They're pictures of little Bitsy!

I took these on a nice sunny day in Atlanta at my sister's condo. Still trying to figure out how to capture a moving little girl...

She just discovered her feet! Ooooh, so fun!

Ahhh, good lighting. 

Head over to Carrie's blog to see her amazing pictures from our trip to the Georgia Aquarium! Happy Friday!

my little elf

Did you have a wonderful Christmas? We drove alllll the way home (couldn't have done it without this) and it honestly wasn't so bad. Selah was so great on our way down but she wasn't such a happy camper back to Chicago. Even so, it wasn't absolutely awful (which is what I expected!). On the way home we watched the entire season 4 of Friday Night Lights! 

Selah and I were spoiled rotten! I am currently writing this on my brand new MacBook Air!! 

I was completely surprised-- I had no clue that Cory was getting me a new computer! I thought I might start crying, it was just such an awesome and unexpected gift! I just hate crying in front of people, so I was able to stop it ;)

I also got a sewing machine!!! I was so excited to open that present, too, but I opened that on Christmas morning so I'll spare you the crazy-haired, pajama-ed pics. I can't wait to learn how to use it and get started on some fun projects! I think this looks like fun (maybe for Gabi girl?)

I think I've mentioned before that Selah is one of the only girls on Cory's side of the family (of all his cousins, there is only 1 girl, and he has 2 brothers and 2 nephews) so, understandably, Cory's mom went a little overboard with Selah's Christmas. Girlie stuff is just so much fun, don't you think? Selah got a bitty baby (what a perfect name for a doll for her) and several other dolls and stuffed animals and cute pink outfits. My favorite is a little owl hat -- pictures to come!

Now, I know what you really want to see are the pictures of my little elf. So, here ya go! Selah Bitsy's first Christmas!

She is just such a happy little girl. Love her.

Merry Christmas! :)

  For a child is born to us,
      a son is given to us.
   The government will rest on his shoulders.
      And he will be called:
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
  His government and its peace
      will never end.
   He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
      for all eternity.
   The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
      will make this happen!
Isaiah 9:6-7

Christmas decorations + grahamwich

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I've mentioned before that I love my new church in Chicago, Soul City Church! They've decorated it so pretty for Christmas, I had to share some pictures (sorry for the poor quality, I just had my iPhone).

Daddy and Bitsy in Soul City Kids lobby (It's snowing cotton balls!) 
Sparkly wooden shim stars made the stage festive! 

Prayers on the sanctuary columns
I love this! Glory is spelled out with red string wrapped around nails.

After church, we headed to Grahamwich, a cute little sandwich shop by celebrity chef Graham Elliott (from Gordon Ramsey's MasterChef), which is on the way home, on State St, that great street. 

Don't you feel like singing this whenever someone mentions State Street? I do...

Anyway, Cory and I decided to split the Southern BBQ sandwich and the Italian grinder and the popcorn with parmesan, cracked pepper, sea salt and truffle oil. We ended up not being able to split our sandwiches because we each liked our own so much, we didn't want to share! But for me, the absolute best part of the meal was the housemade root beer. Oh my word. It was so good. I keep ordering root beer from other places ever since grahamwich, but it's never even close. I don't know how they make it, but it is amazing!

I love this picture! Doesn't Selah look just like him?
Christmas is THREE days away. Where has this year gone?! This time last year, I was just finding out that we were pregnant. And today, Selah is officially 5 months old. Happy birthday, Selah Gracie!

photography friday! week 4.2

Friday, December 16, 2011

I woke up this morning and it was a beeeautiful, sunny day! Selah really is only interested in taking pictures for a maximum of 20 minutes (unless she's a sleep, and then she's a great model!) so, before I even made my coffee, I grabbed my camera, put her in a sunny spot and snapped away!

photography friday! week 4

It's getting so hard to take pictures inside because of this dreary Chicago weather! I had my ISO all the way up because at noon, with the blinds completely open, I still couldn't get decent lighting. Anyway, I did my best with what I had. They're grainy. 

I also tried to take some detail shots, like some of just her little feet. But, oh man! Little girl was kicking up a storm! Kicky feet + unskilled photog = blurry pics. :(  

Here's the only photos that turned out the cream of the crop from my photoshoot. Only Cory's mom and I want to see the 448,976 pictures I took! Without further ado, my Selah:

Santa Selah

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ohhh ya better watch out, ya better not cry, ya better not pout, I'm tellin' you why!
Selah Girl is comin' to town!

... because I'm a mean, mean, mean Mama. That's why. 

zoo lights

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I was dying to go see the lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo, so we made it a fun family evening in the city! Sunday afternoon we headed down to Lincoln Park and ate early at the Perennial Virant before walking over to see the pretty lights. We discovered a great website,'s Chicago Heat Map, which helped us choose The Perennial Virant for our dining selection. 

The meal was great! We tried the sweet potato gnocchi -- yum! But the crispy carnaroli rice was my faaavorite appetizer. The chef pickles locally grown wax beans that made the appetizer. I know, pickled wax beans... doesn't sound like the most delicious thing, but Cory and I asked the waitress about them because they were just so good. Next, Cory had the skirt steak and I went with the ravioli carbonara. Cory liked them both but I wasn't a huge fan of either. Dessert made up for the mediocre main course because I had chevre fritters with honey and apple butter. Um, yeah. Fried goat cheese. It was deeelish. 

We went to the restaurant early and were outta there by 6ish. It's just easier to go to restaurants with Bitsy when they're not crowded and I can be less worried/annoyed by the "Ughh, they brought a baby" looks. We left our car with the valet but got the stroller out and walked over to the Zoo. 

I loved seeing the lights but I think my favorite part was all the sleeping animals. I was a foot away from a HUGE sleeping tiger! I loved seeing the chimpanzees passed out in their little monkey beds! It was just really fun seeing the zoo at night; it felt a little bit like Night At The Museum, like I wasn't supposed to see that aspect of the zoo animals' lives! 

Once we saw all we wanted of the zoo lights, we strolled around the neighborhood and stumbled upon Molly's Cupcakes.

 It's a really cute little cupcake store that my sister took me to when I stayed with her when she was living in Chicago. They have swings instead of bar stools! 

first snow of the year

Friday, December 9, 2011

I woke up this morning and everything was covered in snow! 

We still went out for a walk because I might go stir crazy if I'm cooped up inside for too long. Also, by the time we got out for our walk, around 10ish, the snow was starting to melt! So I bundled my girl up, nice and snuggly, and took her out to see the first snow of the year (and the first snow of her little life)!

The people at Starbucks think I'm crazy. The high today is 27 and I still ordered an iced latte. Anyway, after getting my latte (thanks, Dad, for my birthday giftcard! :( It's almost gone!), we took a nice long walk and saw some beautiful houses. Miss Bitsy, of course, missed all the sparkly, snowy prettiness because she fell asleep about 3 minutes into our walk.

Once we got home, she was well rested and ready to play (and really ready to get out of her pretty pink parka)! She loves this one crinkly butterfly with a jingle bell in it. To most people, you see her pick up and hold that butterfly and you might not think anything of it. I see her pick it up and I am literally amazed. I have been watching her learn for 4 months how to kick her legs, then roll over and now grasp things with her hands. It's incredible! I can't believe she is growing so fast and that she is able to do that already! She must be a genius...

photography friday! week 3

So, it's week 3 of my photography posts and this week I tried to figure out how to take pictures of Miss Bitsy when it's a grey, cloudy day (and therefore, pretty dark inside) and when she is moving around super fast (well, fast for a 4 month old). I've been messing around with my white balance, positioning her so that the (little bit of) sun is on her and using continuous focus. And, same as before, I've been overexposing the portraits just a little, aka Carrie's 'creamy skin' technique (which I believe is really Jose Villa's creamy skin technique).

I definitely did not master the continuous focus setting... I guess I wasn't using it the right way. Mostly, it just didn't focus on the things I wanted it to and most of my shots were out of focus. :( I'll have to do some more reading up on continuous focus. 

Also, it seems I left my ISO wayyyy up. Oops! But I kinda like it. Looks film-y (ya know, like film. Not filmy, like dirty). 

Ready to see my images from this week? Here goes!

I've been thinking about getting this book, Photo 101. It looks like it's gotten a lot of really good reviews and could be great for improving my photos! ... maybe it could be a Christmas present! hint, hint.

happy birthday! (to me!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

My birthday was last week after Thanksgiving and Cory and I took advantage of having my Mom in town so she could babysit and we could get a night out on the town! I'm such a weirdo about hiring babysitters, so we usually just bring Bitsy everywhere we go. But not my birthday night! We had a fabulous, awesome, fun time... and didn't worry for a second about the baby!

So, Cory, being the sweeeet husband that he is, surprised me by planning out a perfect birthday! All he said was to dress up 'cause he was taking me somewhere nice! ... And then we pull up to Elysian Hotel for Michelin 2-starred dinner at Ria
Nice is not the word to describe this place. Swanky is more appropriate. So, if you're celebrating something big or you just have lots of fancy dinners and you're in Chi City, you must go to Ria. Seriously, best meal of my LIFE! Best champagne of my LIFE! The whole place was a feast for the eyes, the meal was just scrumptious and thinking about it makes me sad that it's over! I want to go back and start all over with the champagne course ;)

But, back to the whole 'feast for your eyes' part. Walking in, I knew I was going to love it.  
And the dining room was so beautiful. I love the textured walls and the artwork, especially. It was so open and airy ... and I could eat all my meals there from now on. Please and thank you. 
I know you're dying to hear the dinner details. Get ready, it was some incredible food. We started off with my new favorite champagne ever of all time, Leclerc Briant, and a halibut mousse amuse bouche. Yes, halibut mousse. And it was fantastic. While we were finishing up our first glass of champagne, our waiter came to warn us that we shouldn't leave to go to the bathroom or anything because the white truffle risotto was about to come out-- and you have to eat it immediately, "because of its delicacy." He said that if we missed those first few minutes after it's served, they throw it away and make a completely new risotto from scratch! So, when it was served, the truffle waiter (yes, the truffle waiter) came to the table with some fresh white truffles and grated them on top of my risotto. Let me tell you, I have never had anything like it. Nothing can even come close to comparing. Ohhh mmmm! My mouth is watering just thinking about this risotto.

Next, was lobster and Wagyu beef for Cory and striped sea bass for me. And, surprisingly, the sommelier advised me to have a Pinot Noir with my fish! I am very much not a wine snob; I really had no idea what to do when the waiter poured a little vino in my glass before he serves it (apparently, I've now learned, you're just sniffing for a vinegar-y smell). But this wine completely made the meal. It was the perfect complement to my fish and I wish I'd remembered what it was! I'd tell you, and then you would need to go buy a case. Or two. 

Anyway, I thought, how could anything be better than the risotto? And then I had some of Cory's Wagyu. It actually melted in my mouth! Literally! Good thing Cory split it with me! ;) The waiter, who was actually really funny, came to check on us (like anything could've been wrong! The meal was beyond amazing) and we started talking about how I'm a lush much I love champagne. The next thing we knew, he was pouring us both a "taste" (which was really 3/4 of a glass) of $45-a-glass Pommery champagne. The hint of strawberry shortcake is what makes it his favorite champagne -- he says he drinks it for breakfast. Why not? 

Dessert was a surprise choice from the waiter, and came with two glasses of Cattier champagne (which is the winery down the street from Dom Perignon, in case you were wondering ;). My dessert was chocolate, and heavenly... but Cory's pear dessert! I don't know what they did to those pears. In fact, I don't even like pears... but this was one of the best desserts I'd ever tried. 

The best thing about Ria, besides how amazing that meal was, is that they have a posh lounge where they serve their fabulous champagnes and you can just stop by for a glass (or two or three) of champagne and a pear dessert! We will definitely make our way back for some Leclerc Briant.
Then, we rushed out of the beautiful Elysian Hotel to make our way to the theatre district for the next part of my birthday celebration!
 Cory got us great seats to see A Christmas Carol at The Goodman Theatre! Since by now, you must have picked up on how much I love Christmas, you know I loved it! 
 Poor quality iPhone pic... oh well!
 The show was great; the casting was a little funny! Bob Cratchit was white, Mrs. Cratchit was Asian and Tiny Tim was Indian. Very multi-cultural, that Cratchit family. I honestly loved every minute of the show even if Cory was dying to go at intermission. He told me it was true love that was making him stay. What a sweet guy!
 After the show, we walked back to The Elysian, where our car was valeted. We took a cab from the restaurant to the theatre, which was a really good idea! Parking would've been a hassle when we were already pushing it on time, and most likely we'd have had to pay for 2 valets. Plus, walking down State Street was so beautiful! There were theatre lights flashing all around and Christmas lights twinkling on the trees. We crossed the Chicago River and saw all the buildings lit up at night! This sealed the deal for us-- when our lease is up on our place up here, we're packing up and moving downtown. I want to feel like I'm in the city, not just near it. 
 After our walk, we got in our car and drove back home to our Bitsy, who was very sweet and snuggly. It was a perfect birthday! I had such a great time :) Thank you, Cory!! 
What have you done that was amazing and fun for your birthday? Any recommendations on where to go for Cory's birthday in April? We're thinking Alinea!

photography friday!

Friday, December 2, 2011

So, this is kind of cheating since the purpose of Photography Friday is to force me how to learn how to use my camera... but this Friday, I am posting pictures that I fiiiiiinally got back from Carrie. I can't even believe how tiny 5 week old Selah is! She is twice that size now! She's got about two times as many fat rolls and sadly, about half as much hair. 

And yes, in case you were wondering, I did have hot pink and turquoise and black and white stripe feathers in my hair. ;) What can I say? I was fresh off the plane from LA. When in Rome, eh?