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USA Trip Pt 3 – San Fran

So its been a while since i have had proper internets on this laptop so there will be some new blogs coming soon to catch up… at the moment i am in Vancouver after spending some amazing times in Portland and a killer 4th of July in Seattle but thats still to come.

So San Francisco… well after an 11 hr drive from Vegas through the Yosemite national forest we finally arrived, after a hard learning experience on how the roads in San Fran work, Lawrence going quiet and determined as we navigated through a complicated maze of one way streets we made it to the hostel, which in comparison to the luxury that was the hard rock left much to the imagination.
We needed food, so we took a walk outside only to be confronted with the homeless population of San Fran, keen to ask for dollars in return for obscure WW2 factoids. This was a little too overwhelming for us so we took refuge in the nearest Thai restaurant.

This was not a great first impression, we seemed to be in the dodgy end of San Fran, we fell asleep to the sound of homeless folk talking about how they wanted to kill damn white tourists.

Now at this point you probably feel like i am not a fan of San Francisco… this is where you would be wrong. For on day two, the town lit up with summer sunshine and showed itself to be the amazing place it is.

We took a trip to Alcatraz where i filled up on Rock references and actually learnt quite a bit about how horrible it would have been to occupy one of those cells, from there we had some lunch with some fellow road-trippers who loved our accents (apparently i sound like bruce the shark from Finding Nemo….?)
We then joined them later on for Karaoke, i Didnt sing but Lawrence belted out two tunes, including a Gotye number, i have videos but have been banned from releasing them to the public.

On the Third day we took a walk around China town and little Italy. This was really nice, there were some cool little alleyways, a shop where they made fortune cookies by hand and a whole crowd of screaming italian soccer fans. From there we decided to do the inevitable and tackle the hills of San Fran…

Now i am not a fit person and so this city wasnt built for me, but making my way up Coit tower and Lombard street was rewarding, and i guess so was the cycle ride across the golden gate bridge afterwards although i wish i hadn’t had those beers beforehand.

The day ended with a trip to this really amazing vintage arcade on Fishermans wharf where games dating back to the early 1900’s were restored and still able to be played

All in all San Fran is a really beautiful place, there are some sketchy areas but really not many cities can avoid that. I’d happily visit again.

Top 11’s of 2011

Top 11’s of 2011

So The year is almost over and like most things in retrospect it has gone by way too quickly, but i guess that’s how it goes most years. This was a year of pushing myself, i started this blog, started taking photos more seriously, i even exhibited for the first time. Hopefully 2012 takes on the same pathways. 2011 has been a good year and so i best sum it up with my Top 11’s of 2011. None of these are in order and all of them are done on a judgement that is purely personal.

Top Albums:

Lonely Avenue – Ben Folds and Nick Hornby
Possibly one of the best collaboration albums i have ever heard, great stories turned into strong melodic pieces of genius. If these two don’t do another of these it will be very sad.

Last Night on Earth – Noah and the Whale
The thing i love about NATW’s albums is that they follow very closely to the Life of Charlie Fink, the lead singer. When he was dating and happy with Laura Marling he released Peaceful the world lay me down an upbeat poppy indie joy. Then when they split came First days of Spring a melancholy beautifully sad album filled with pain but hope. Now in 2011 Charlie seems to have moved on, Last night on earth is Stories of the downtrodden rising up, overcoming the worlds woes. It’s Charlie getting all better.

The Kooks – Junk of the Heart

This album is far from a music masterpiece for me, it doesn’t blow my mind. But that not always what music is about. This is a happy album, it makes me feel good and makes me wanna jump and yell and just put all the shit behind me. This is my feel good album.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver
On the other end of the spectrum, Bon Iver has been my Album of choice for when i’m down, sweet melodies, amazing voice and some incredibly intricate layers of instrumentals makes this possibly the most beautiful album of the year for me.

Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay
The first think i think of when i think of Coldplay’s last two albums have been Production Values. Coldplay do some interesting things and some epic ones and this latest album has been Both. They have managed to take massive popularity and still keep up trying new things and pushing themselves and that’s a great achievement in itself.

The Help OST – Thomas Newman
This easily has to be my favorite soundtrack of the year, i can’t really explain why but i just can’t stop turning to it.

Vows – Kimbra
If you haven’t already listened to Kimbra you are missing out and need to start immediately. If you only know her through her song with Gotye then you need to investigate further. This girl has an amazing voice, so much range and so much character it becomes an instrument like no other. Her songs are catchy and make you wanna dance. Very worth listening to this Kiwi gem.

A Creature i Don’t Know – Laura Marling
There is something about Laura Marling that i can’t put my finger on, something that separates her from the rest. Her Lyrics are amazing, her voice is nothing short of Beautiful… but there is something on top of that, something that i can’t describe and that can only really be felt by listening to her. This is probably my favorite of her albums so far and it will be getting plenty of listens through the next year and more.

The King is Dead – The Decemberists
Pushing onto the border of country this album brings about a wave of harmonica and Rythym. Folksy and grammatically complex lyrics with stories of folklore. This is the Decemberists… its always good.

Ceremonials – Florence and the Machine
For me Florence and the Machine kinda faded out after their first album, i stopped listening and pretty much forgot about them altogether, then suddenly they came back and im back on the bandwagon! Florence Welch is a voice of our generation, when we look back in 20 yrs time we’ll be thinking of florence and playing her to our children. Well at least that what i hope will happen.

Top Movies:

The Help – Very moving, Emma Watson Cleans up!
Winnie the Pooh – Stunning Animation, Zooey singing, who need to be a kid to enjoy this really?
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Malfoy gets messed up by an Ape.
Bridesmaids – Not like the Hangover, was actually funny.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 – Epic and sad to see it go…
Xmen First Class – Possibly my Favorite in the Series.
Tangled – Pure Disney so Pure Awesome.
Super 8 – Really Classic storytelling, really well done.
The Trip – Hilarious
Green Hornet – i liked it even though many didnt, loved the way it was written.
Never Let me Go – Beautiful storytelling.

Top TV:

Community – As Always
Sing Off – I have a soft spot for Acapella and Ben Folds.
2 Broke girls – Very sitcom-y but still enjoyable. Must like a certain type of humor though.
QI – I wish i had a voice like Stephen Fry, things would get done!
Misfits – I thought i would hate this show but it’s really grown on me, kinda like Skins meets Heroes.
New girl – This show is really funny, Zooey Deschanel is hot as usual and fits in perfectly into her role.
Friday Dinner – Only just starting to watch this show, looks kinda cool…but undecided yet.
Parks and Rec – Great Season, although possibly starting to plateau….
How i met your mother – Just started watching, well behind. But still, loving it!
Big Bang theory – Great Cast although really playing hard of stereotypes.
Idiot Abroad 2 – Karl Pilkington is God.

So This finally Brings me to My top Photos of 2011, These are probably not my best photos, but they are the ones that i love best throughout the year, either because they link to something i hold close or any other sappy reasons i bring sentimentality to them…
Thanks to all who have kept up with this Collection of mine, sat through the songs i have forced upon your ears and the small ramblings i have made. Next year will bring bigger and better things for this blog so keep an eye out.

Happy New Year!!


Bake-Ing with Ing

The other day a good pal of mine Ingrid and i met up to do a bit of Bakin’ and practice some Food Photography, an ulterior motive of eating such delicious treats did hover above at all times, but being avid photographers in the making of course the shots were key, (at least that’s what i told myself).
We looked through the recipe books and found a cool little gingerbread cake-thing with some lemony icing in a book from Delicious Magazine. They were Tasty and fairly simple to make, it’s probably a good idea to make more icing than the recipe as we found it only coated half the cakes.

For those who want to try these out for yourselves here’s the recipe:

Mini Gingerbreads:

200g unsalted butter
1cup Lightly Packed (160g) dark brown sugar
3tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs
2/3 cup Milk (165ml)
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
2tsp ground ginger (i’d even push it to 3 or 4 for the more ginger-loving)
3tbsp chopped glace’ ginger
1cup icing sugar, sifted
2-3 tsp Lemon Juice

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C, Grease and line muffin pans.

2. Stir the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat until melted. Cool for 10 mins. Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl to combine, then stir in the cooled sugar mixture.

3. Put the flour, ground ginger and a pinch of salt in a separate large bowl. Use a wooden spoon to beat the egg mixture and 1 tablespoon of glace’ ginger. Divide the batter among the muffin then bake for 35-40 mins or until a skewer in the center comes out clean. Cool Slightly in the pan then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

4. In a Bowl stir the icing sugar and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice until smooth, add a little more juice if needed. Drizzle the icing over the cakes and sprinkle the tops with the remaining glace’ ginger.

Makes 12.

We also felt that a proper lunch was needed, so using the power of creative lunchtime ingenuity created these puff pastry pizza-like…things…

Puff Pastry Things

1 sheet puff pastry
12 cherry tomatoes, halved.
1 slice of Roasted Eggplant (we just got ours from the deli)
8 olives
Red Onion, sliced thin
1 pckt of cream cheese
Fresh Herbs (you pick), chopped
Dried Oregano
1 tsp lemon juice and some lemon rind.
1 egg

1. Cut the pastry into four rectangles and lay out on a tray with baking paper

2. Make an egg wash by whisking up an egg in a bowl and then brush the egg onto the pastry, Sprinkle with some dried oregano. Place pastry in the oven at about 180 for about 10 mins or until the pastry has risen and browned slightly on top.

3. In a medium bowl mix the cream cheese, lemon juice and fresh chopped herbs together until well combined.

4. Pull puff pastry out of the oven and using a spatula or something that wont get your hands burnt press the puff pastry rectangles down in the center to create a base for your toppings.

5. Spoon on some of your cream cheese mixture onto the pastry and spread it out along the center, add your tomatoes, eggplant, onion and olives and place back in the oven for a further 10 mins or until the tomatoes become juicy and soft. Drizzle a bit of oil over the top and hey presto, you got lunch. This dish works with really any toppings you want.

Here are the resulting piccies. More Cooking with Photographised coming to a Masterchef crazed Kitchen near you…