Fab Friday's Fancies | Beach Chic

You guys, when I saw {av}'s theme for this week's Friday's Fancies, it spoke to me.  It called my name and said, "Stephanie, be beach chic.  Be it, girl."  I think it's because this time next week, we'll be lounging beach-side in San Diego.  The thought of warm golden sands and white-crested waves inspired this week's outfit.  If I could, I would live in this outfit the whole time we're in San Diego!

1. Polka Dot one piece - how adorable is this J. Crew one piece?  I'm fairly modest when it comes to showing the goods so I love that one-piece suits are becoming trendy again.
2. Rosemallow cover-up - so light and airy.  And wouldn't those polka dots be lovely poking through the neckline?
3. Walk in the Park hat - because every lady needs a floppy beach hat
4. Linen tote - this bag is totes adorbs for carrying all your beach day gear
5. Micheal Kors sandals - technically, the website says 'thong' but cool metallic sandals are not the first thing that comes to mind when I hear that word...

Any beach days coming up for you soon?

Happy Weekend!!!


Around the Apartment

I spend a large portion of my day (sometimes 100% of it) in our apartment.  It's a bit small and cozy but it's really starting to grow on me.  The light flows beautifully through the windows and, on a clear day, we have views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin headlands.  But there are some pretty little details around the interior as well.

I love all the language books The Boyfriend has.  Someday, I'll figure out how to read them.

Don't be fooled, though.  Not all of the books are his...

I bought this bamboo plant from Ikea about a year and a half ago.  It was tiny and almost dead.  Now it's almost 3 feet tall!

Old (but loved) pictures and old (but loved) jewelry...

The Boyfriend's Scotch collection - I've had to put restrictions on new purchases.  He has to at least empty one bottle before buying another!

We're planning on devoting quite a bit of time this summer to some home improvement.  Maybe I'll give you another tour in a few months!


A Word from Molly



DIY | Cake Banners & Swirled Batter

If you guys are Pinterest stalkers like I am, then I'm sure you've seen countless photos of those adorable cake banners.  I decided to make one for The Boyfriend's birthday cake and used materials I had on hand - construction paper, packaging twine, and bamboo skewers - but feel free to get creative with it.  Strips of fabric or felt with stenciled or stamped letters would look awesome.  You could also substitute pretty paper straws for the bamboo skewers to make it a little more playful.

1. Cut triangles in whatever size you prefer.
2. Using a thick tack or push pin, poke holes in two out of the three corners of each triangle.
3. Cut a strip of twine in whatever length you want.
4. Thread the twine through the triangles to string them up like a banner.  (My twine was much thicker than the holes so I poked two side by side then gently wiggled the push pin to tear the little piece in between and make one larger hole.)
5. Tie each end of the twine to a skewer then place in the center of your cake.  Et voilĂ !

* * * * * *

And just in case you were curious - here's how I did the swirl for the cake.  This would be such a lovely effect using a bunch of different colors or multiple shades of the same color.

1. Separate the batter into however many colors you want to use.

2. Using a different measuring cup (or spoon) for each one, layer the different colors into your cake pans.

3. After you've poured in the batter, use a toothpick to gently swirl into a design.  Careful not to mix it too much, though.  You might end up with a muddy mess!


Weekend Snippets

Happy Monday lovelies!  I hope you all enjoyed the weekend.  We had a few days of birthday celebrating and I basically just documented it all with Instagram (which means if you follow me, you may have seen these already).

We started the weekend off with a Friday night pizza party.  ("Pizza party" is our code for "let's be lazy and just order pizza for dinner but make ourselves feel better about it by giving it a fun name.")  Except this time we took it to our friends' place to drink lots of wine and meet their new sweet little baby.

Saturday was the Giants game (they won!).  I stuck with the Giants theme for The Boyfriend's birthday cake and made a swirled orange and black cake using devil's food chocolate and orange food coloring/vanilla cake.  I'll be posting the DIY for the cake banner later this week so keep an eye out!

Sunday was a lounge day for The Boyfriend and a kitchen day for me.  I made blueberry pancakes for the birthday boy (recipe coming soon, too!) then iced and decorated the cake.  We then headed out to celebrate his 3-yr. old cousin's birthday, too.  It was pretty much the Never-ending Birthday Weekend.  What did you guys do?

PS - Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman.  It's a great summer read!  (Contest closes tomorrow!)


Fab Fridays

Oh, Friday, how I love you.  We've got another busy weekend ahead of us but I have no doubt it'll be a fun one.  The Boyfriend's birthday is this weekend so we're going to a Giants game (they're playing in Oakland).  Giants-for-his-birthday has become a little tradition of ours.  Our very first year dating, I took him to a game (partly because I had never been to one).  Then I made a silly black & orange picture of us at the game.

(He's not usually that scruffy but he was studying for the bar exam that summer.)

We went again and again until it became our tradition.  We didn't always take photos but we always had a good time so we're continuing it again this weekend.  With some beers and tailgating beforehand, of course.  Also, I'm making him a special cake so look for some recipes and DIY stuff next week!

We're also celebrating a little lady who's turning three this weekend.  Little kids' birthday parties are the best, aren't they?  They're always so colorful and high-energy.  I hope I can keep up!

What do you have planned for the weekend?


Awkward & Awesome

- For some reason, I've been saying some totally random things lately.  For example, when I got in my sweltering hot car last Saturday (it was 100 degrees ... I have black leather seats...) the first thing that came outta my mouth was "holy shmackies!!!"  I have no idea what that means or where I got it from.

- Also, when I was cooking dinner the other night and realized it was almost ready, I said, "Sweet beans and rice, we're almost ready to eat!"  Keep in mind a) I was not actually making sweet beans and rice and b) I was alone.

- You know how I've told you that The Boyfriend likes to say random things when he sneezes?  I met a man yesterday who does the same things.  Well, I didn't actually meet him - I just passed him on the street.  But he sneezed as I was passing and, as he sneezed, he said, "Excuse me."  Imagine not "achoo" but "excuse me."  Then he thanked himself.

- It's officially summer!  I celebrated by eating lunch outside, making a yummy fruit smoothie, and napping on the couch with the windows open.  What a lovely time of year!

- Speaking of lunch, The Boyfriend took me the best food truck ever yesterday.*  It's called Senor Sisig.  If you're in SF and looking for a good lunch spot, it's totally worth looking up their truck schedule and stopping by.  It's a Filipino fusion food truck - imagine a cross between Filipino street food and a Mexican taqueria.  The Boyfriend's burrito had garlic-infused rice, pinto beans, cilantro cream sauce, spicy pork, and a whole bunch of other goodness while mine had guacamole, sour cream, French fries, and delicious spicy chicken.  Yes, I said French fries.  In a burrito.  I mean, come on people.

The Boyfriend's is on the right; mine is on the left.  And in my belly.

*I love that even though we live together and see each other every day, we still have lunch dates once in a while. :)


Good Reads | The Orphanmaster & A Giveaway

Remember that time I set a goal to read 30 books in 2012?  Yeah, that's probably not going to happen.  I'm not even up to number 10 but it's not for lack of effort.  I read almost every night before bed ... I just happen to fall asleep really easily when I do so.  That is, until I started reading The Orphanmaster.

When my friend Janet first contacted me about participating in a virtual book club with her and a few fellow bloggers, I was intrigued.  And I needed to check a few books off my list.  So of course I said yes.

I wasn't sure what to expect after the description but Jean Zimmerman somehow manages to weave quite a bit into the story, making the book a compelling page-turner.  She does a brilliant job of bringing history to life in all its vivid detail - and sometimes it's almost too vivid.  Being that it's a thriller, the book has its fair share of violence so if that's something you're totally not into, it might be a bit off-putting.  I cringed at one or two passages because I hate thinking about someone else in pain, but then I just reminded myself that that part was fiction (though I think some of it is based on historical facts...).

The book also touches on interesting questions of ethics and morality in a very subtle way.  It's definitely not the main point of the book - it's more of an undertone that compliments the overall plot line.

All in all I thought this book was a pretty good read.  It's just the right mix of historical accuracy, captivating story, interesting characters, and all the drama of love and murder.  If you're looking for something to add to your list of summer reads, I'd say give The Orphanmaster a shot.  Which brings me to the giveaway

I have two copies of the book to give to two lovely readers!! (<-- and two exclamations points)

Here's how to enter:

1. Be a public follower of Big Mario Life via GFC over there on the side bar.
2. Leave a comment below with your email address so I'll know where to find you!

Optional (leave a separate comment for each)
1. Follow Big Mario Life on Twitter.
2. 'Like' Big Mario Life on Facebook.
3. 'Like' Stephanie Court Photography on Facebook.
4. Tweet about this giveaway - and be sure to mention @bigmariolife :)

The giveaway will stay open for one week so you have until next Tuesday, June 26th to enter.  Two winners will be selected at random.  And if you'd like to read the other book clubbers' reviews, you can check them out below (I can't wait to see what they thought!)



Weekend Snippets

Happy Monday, lovelies.  I cannot believe we're already half way through June. Sometimes it feels like time goes by too quickly for me to get everything done.  Does anyone else ever feel that way?

This next week I'll be spending most of my time editing the photos from last Saturday's garden wedding.  This couple was so much fun to work with and they have a pretty cute international love story, too.  I can't wait to share it with you when the photos are finished.  In the mean time, I might be a little slow in visiting your blogs but I promise I'll catch up!

By the way, it was almost 100 degrees in Sonoma on the day of the wedding.  By the end of the day, I had sweat so much that you could literally see the salt on my skin.  Sorry if that's TMI but I still can't get over how hot it was that day.  But ... it was totally worth it!!

How was your weekend?


Fab Friday's Fancies | Unconventional Inspiration

It's Friday, y'all.  Holla!!  This weekend is another busy one but I'm pretty pumped about it.  I'm photographing a wedding in Sonoma tonight and tomorrow so I'll be staying with my mother-in-love (The Boyfriend's mama).  It's almost like I'm having a wine country getaway except for work instead of pleasure.  Still ... not a bad gig, right?

So, totally unrelated, I did something a little different with this week's Friday's Fancies.  I took inspiration from a butter dish.  I don't know why, I just kinda liked it.  The outfit is a little different from what I'd usually be drawn to but I think I dig it.  What do you think?

The Inspiration:

The Outfit:

1. Drum Major shorts
2. Necktie blouse
3. Oxfords
4. Watch
5. Sunglasses

PS - If you're new to the blog, welcome!  I hope you'll click around and stay awhile.  Molly and her guinea pig antics can be pretty entertaining. :)

Happy Weekend!!!


Under the Tuscan Sun

I just recently came across Ruche's summer lookbook and, oh my goodness.  Not only do I want pretty much every outfit in there, but I also want to be in that lookbook.  I want to spend my summer in Tuscany, riding a pretty red-and-white Vespa to the market everyday for fresh flowers.  I want to spend the day in a sun-drenched room and take little breaks for afternoon picnics.  I want to eat warm crusty bread with fresh fruits and cheeses.  And wine, there would definitely be wine.  Wouldn't that be lovely?

If you want to get lost in daydreams and fantasies, you can check out the rest of the lookbook here.


For Real?

Sometimes I see things and I just can't help but think,

Is this for real?  There's no way that's for real.  That's just ... that's not for real.  Nuh-uh.  No way.

And then I realize, yes, it's for real.  People are crazy, y'all.  I give you Exhibit A - Love Is Art.  I know what you're thinking,

But Stephanie, that's such a nice sentiment.  Why wouldn't you think that's for real?

Well, the idea of love being art is all fine and dandy until you try to make it literal.  Yes, that's right.  Literally, love is art.  And there's a major discount if you want to order the starter kit.  This little gem is direct from the website:

Love is kind; love is patient; love is slathering your partner in washable paint, doing the deed on a blank canvas, and framing the resulting masterpiece over your fireplace. Love is Art.

For real??

* * * * * *

And now, Exhibit B -  The Office Kid.  Ever wish you had a child just so you could make up a good excuse to leave the office early?  Yes, that's right, folks.  You can buy a fake child kit so you can lie to your coworkers/boss about having a child and then use that fake child as an excuse to leave work early.

Sorry, can't stay late today.  I'm taking little Susie to girl scouts!

While I secretly think this idea is kind of awesome, I can't imagine anyone with the cajones to pull this off.  You are lying about having a child!!  With photos of some random kid and fake drawings to hang around the office!  What the hell? 

I mean, really ... for real??



Cherry Crumble

We got some gorgeous, juicy cherries in our farm share over the weekend so I did what any reasonable girl would do - I made cherry crumble.  This crumble is perfection, I tell ya.  The sweet, crunchy topping.  The tart, gooey cherry filling.  Of course, the wonderful thing about this kind of recipe is that you can make it using just about any fruit you want - peaches, apples, pears, apricots, or cherries.  (Ooh... I see strawberry crumble in my near future...)

But besides being a summertime classic, cherries have a special place in my heart.  When I lived in Davis my last year of law school, we had a cherry tree in our backyard.  I would often take a break from bar studying to pick cherries off the tree or bake up a little cherry treat (usually pie).  I have a not-so-secret ingredient when it comes to baking with cherries.  Almond extract.  Just a little dash.  Enough to bring out the flavors of the cherries without tasting obviously almond-y.  I do it for my cherry pies and I did it again with this crumble.  Trust me on this one.  And since I was using almond extract, I threw some almonds into the topping as well because, why not?

This recipe makes four individual servings but can easily be doubled and would be delicious served with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or just a cold glass of milk (my personal fave).


What You Need:
- 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/8 c. brown sugar
- 1/8 c. sugar
- 3 tbsp. butter + 1 tbsp. (reserved)
- 1/4 c. oats
- 1/8 to 1/4 c. slivered or sliced almonds (I used sliced)
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- pinch or nutmeg

-  2 c. fresh cherries, pitted and halved (more or less, depending on how much filling you want)
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- couple pinches of corn starch

What You Do:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place four ramekins on a flat baking sheet.  (If you don't have ramekins on hand, you can find them pretty easily at Target, Ikea, etc.  I got a set of 4 from Bed Bath & Beyond for $8.)

2. Combine the cherries, almond extract, and corn starch in a medium-sized mixing bowl then set aside.  The corn starch works as a thickening agent to soak up the juices while the cherries cook.  If you don't have any on hand, you can use all-purpose flour as a substitute, just be sure there aren't any clumps when you mix everything together.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds, and oats.  Add in the 3 tbsp. of butter using either a fork or pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry mixture.  You'll know it's ready when it starts to take on more of a crumble-y texture.

4. Divide the cherry filling equally among the four ramekins.  Then divide the topping equally.  When filling the ramekins, you can go almost to the top but don't go all the way because the filling will bubble up as it cooks.

5. Cut the reserved tablespoon of butter into four equal pieces and place one on top of each cup of pot.  Place the baking sheet with the four ramekins in the center of the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.  Serve them either warm or cold and enjoy!



Friday's Fancies | Short & Sweet

This week's theme for Friday's Fancies is Short & Sweet.  I always love how shorts look on other people (for the most part ... there are some exceptions...) but I just never like them on myself.  I have pasty white legs that seem to repel the sun and, while they're not jelly by any means, they're not exactly toned either.  So I stick to skirts and dresses in the summertime and leave the shorts to the more vertically gifted ladies.  If I could pull off shorts, though, I think I'd like a sweet preppy summer outfit like this one.  It's perfect for anything from a brunch with the ladies to a day of wine tasting with The Boyfriend.  I would even wear something like this to meet a client on a hot day.  (Not that we have many hot days in San Francisco but whatever.)

1. Chambray shirt
2. Satchel
3. Leather watch
4. Yellow shorts
5. Wedges

What about you?  Do you let your hems rise with the temperatures or do you stick to skirts and dresses instead?

Happy Weekend!!!


Awkward & Awesome

- Because of the low voter turnout on Tuesday, the other poll workers and I spent a lot of time figuring out how to keep ourselves entertained.  Of course, everyone had a smart phone of one kind or another so there was a lot of game-playing going on.  Most of us had the volume turned off ... except for one lady.  She was slightly older (maybe middle-aged?) and kept playing some game that sounded like slot machines.  Over and over, all day, for the whole 15 HOURS we were working, I kept hearing a mix of cha-chings and fake crowd applause.  Those sounds will give me nightmares for months.

- This same lady also told me that was her 8th time working at the elections.  When I asked her why she kept doing it, she pulled out this little pin that said "San Francisco Pollworker 2012" and had this year's election logo on it.  Once I got past my jealousy over not having one myself, she told me that each election has a different logo on it and you can only get them when you're a pollworker.  "No matter how much money you have, you can't buy them.  You have to be a pollworker if you want one."  She thought these pins were so special, she started a collection and now works every election so she can add to it.  (I actually think this is kind of awesome...)

- We're taking a little mini-vacation to San Diego in July.  I can't wait to lounge on warm, sunny beaches and check out the sights!  Tammy has given me a ton of great suggestions of things to do and places to go while we're there.  Now let's see if I can get through the next four weeks without totally drifting into daydream land...

- Thinking about making these this afternoon:

- It's almost the weekend!  I've got a wedding, a Giants game, a dinner date, and a bridal shower on the calendar so it's gonna be a busy one but I'm still super excited about it.  Have you made any plans yet?



Election Day

Hey, guess what.  I worked the poll yesterday.  (Notice I said poll not pole.  I'm not that kind of girl.)  When I was growing up, my great-grandmother was very involved with politics and elections.  She was nearly 13 years old when women were finally granted the right to vote and she took that right very seriously.  She married and raised her family through The Great Depression.  It was around this time she became involved in politics.  By the time I was a little girl, she was well into her 80s and needed a wheel chair to get around but that did not stop her.  I have fuzzy memories of being her "driver" on Election Day.  She wanted to work the polls but needed someone to help push her wheel chair and assist her throughout the day.  My mom couldn't take the day off so I was allowed to miss school and learn firsthand how elections work.

She also taught me about the electoral college and our system of voting at 10 years old while we watched then-Governor Clinton win the presidency.  My great-grandma passed away just one year later but I'm fully convinced that if it weren't for her, I would not be as interested in politics as I am today.  I always thought that if I could do it, I would work at least one election on my own.  So yesterday, I did!

Let me tell ya, it was quite the experience.  It was a much lower turnout than I expected, which was a bit disappointing.  The Presidential primaries don't mean much at this point but there were still quite a few items on the ballot for local elections.  I met some interesting people and have a few little stories that might make it into this week's Awkward & Awesome tomorrow.  For now, I'm off to catch up on all your lovely blogs that I missed yesterday.  Happy Wednesday!


Self-Employment | Month 5

Wedding season is officially starting for me this Friday and things are about to get nuts up in here.  Honestly, though, I can't wait.  I've loved taking the (somewhat) leisurely approach to the last four months but I miss the adrenaline rush that comes with deadlines and time crunches.  I'm ready for it to start up again.  I'm ready for the stress and the "thinking on my feet" days.  I'm ready for the crammed organization and the massive to-do lists.  But most of all, I'm ready to capture the magic of lovely people in love.  That's why I started this business in the first place and all the engagement sessions and family portraits of the last few months are like teasers for the big days ahead.  They're like the appetizers before the main course ... and I'm ready to feast!

In looking back on this last month of self-employment I've noticed it brought with it a bit of a reality check.  My dream of working from home is not all unicorns and rainbows like I'd hoped.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely think it's the best thing for me.  I never really accepted the "9 to 5" gig and struggled with making it work for me and my lifestyle.  But working from home has its own set of challenges that I'm still adjusting to.  And with that, I have a few confessions to make.

* * * * * *

1.  Working from home sometimes means I work in my pajamas for most of the day.  Or in gym clothes.  Either way, jeans and cute outfits are few and far between around here (which is why I don't really do outfit posts).

2.  Working from home also sometimes means I don't actually leave my apartment some days.  When there's a lot of editing work to do, errands get pushed aside and the only daylight I see is whatever happens to be streaming through the windows.  It can be a lonely way of life.

3.  Sometimes I don't shower or make the bed till 4 in the afternoon.  But, hey, at least it gets done, right?

4.  I don't keep anything remotely close to normal business hours.  I try to relegate emails and phone calls to normal "office" hours but I do other work at random times during the day.  Sometimes I don't start working until the afternoon.  Sometimes I keep working until 11pm (or later).  I often have shoots on weekends so Sunday then becomes a work day.  But I let myself take a random afternoon off to compensate.  Basically, this ain't no 9 to 5 lifestyle. 

5.  I still eat Top Ramen for lunch every once in a while.  Don't judge.  I think it's pretty tasty.  Plus, I add veggies and use chopsticks to make it feel more grown up - that counts for something, right? 

6.  I talk to Molly far more than any normal human being should talk to a guinea pig.

7.  Working from home hasn't done much to help my inherent social awkwardness.  I love meeting and getting to know new people but I'm naturally an introvert and not the smoothest at conversation.  In fact, I get really self-conscious and am always worried that I come across as awkward.  I've had to force myself to let that go during sessions because my top job (besides capturing great photos) is helping my clients feel comfortable.  But in other social situations, I often find myself at a loss for words.  The more time I spend alone (or talking to Molly) the less skilled I become at the art of conversation.

8.  Having my workspace in such close proximity to the refrigerator has not been kind to my waistline, which is why I've taken up spinning again.  My goal is to lose 8 lbs. by the end of August.  I know it'll take time so I'm giving myself three months (2.5 lbs a month seems more than reasonable) but I think what I really need to do is put a padlock on the fridge and cabinets.

9.  Sometimes I have dance parties...by myself.

10. Since I don't have too many daily interactions with humans, my funny stories are few and far between.  Sadly, the bus has become my main social outlet and I talk about the Real Housewives as if they're actually my friends.


Lately in May

I love looking back on my Instagram pictures and seeing how the month unfolded.  I could easily snap the day away with that dang app but I try to restrain myself to just a few a week.  It's funny to think that in the past I struggled with maintaining a 365 project and now I take photos almost everyday without even thinking about it.  Digital photography has become so much more accessible in recent years but Instagram takes it to another level.  I have to admit, I kinda love it!

Roasted veggies from our CSA share | Big Mario reminders | Totally screwed | Waiting for my tire

Stretching before spin | Spring flowers | Waiting for the bus | Mother's Day meatballs

City Hall | My favorite macarons | Mexican Coke | Starting a new book

Humphry Slocombe | My little cuddle buddy | Sunday morning hike | Workin' the polls

PS - If you're new here, welcome!  I hope you'll pull up a chair and stay a while.  And if you're on Instagram, come find me!  I'd love to follow you :)   bigmariolife

© Twentieth Street | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig