Making changes, Taking chances.

Archive for August, 2011

A love for the world through the lens

In pursuit of my love for photography and following the purchase of my beautiful Nikon D90 camera, I enrolled in a photograhy class with Z.  This consisted of two 4hr classes over a weekend.  Given it is Ramadan and there is not much to do by day, it served as the perfect distration from our rumbling tummies and the boredom that occupies a weekend where you cannot delight in the pure pleasure of food. 

It was thrilling to be able to discover so many hidden gems in the camera – and to finally shift away from that safe “AUTO” setting.  We experimented with aperture settings, ISO’s and shutter speeds and learned a few basic tricks of the trade regarding white balance, focal length and exposure.  The theory behind photography is a complex beast which I believe can only be conquered through practice and so I have photographed the life out of my teddy bear Luc, a bunch of lemons and my baking – all in the interest of experience.

Here are some of my shots.  I have lots to learn…

Playing with the Aperture Priority setting: the photo on the left was taken at ISO 200 at an F-stop of F22.  The shot on the right was also at an ISO of 200 but an F-stop of F5.6.  Notice how the object is in greater focus and the background is more blurred

Playing with the White Balance setting: from left to right, these photos were all taken at an F-stop of F5.3.  The white balane settings in order were: Auto, Flash, Sunny

For those beginners out there like myself, an excellent book to pick up is “The Digital Photography Book” by Scott Kelby.  The book is written as though you were shooting on location with Scott.  There are no technical references or teachings, just simple, straight-forward step-by-step techniques for getting the shot you want.  If you’re looking to shoot something in focus with a blurred background effect for instance, he’ll tell you exactly how to fiddle with your camera to get this.  His belief is that you need to click as many great photos as you can to appreciate the science and theory behind how to arrive there.  It is a great guide to capture the photos you want.  This was not only given to us in last weekend’s class but also gifted to me for my birthday.  Double proof for how good it is!  Let me know what you think of my amateur experimental shots!

I also need to select a theme for my assignment and submit 3 -5 photos related to it.  If you have any ideas, I would be delighted to hear them.  Thanks!


Another year older

It’s been inexcusably too long since I’ve posted something.  This is mainly because I have been overwhelmed with a work-related negative piece of news that I did not take well and still have difficulty accepting.  In the process, I have learned that some people are excellent at playing the game of politics and somehow evading responsibilty to the almost-malicious extent of hurting others in the process.  What has been more overwhelming is the realization that my whimsical belief in the adage ‘what comes around goes around’ has been nullified.  Why have we been brought up to believe that good things happen to good people?  And that the bad guy always loses in the end?  In my life it seems quite the opposite.  Those who master all the bad skills seems to constantly emerge on top.  I will stop dwelling on the negative however I did want to justify my absence so here I am dear reader working through a weekend for all the above reasons.  The corporate world is unforgiving.

Thankfully, Thursday presented itself as a ray of sunshine in otherwise very stormy skies.  It was my birthday!  And how serendipitous to make such an important learning at this point in my life.  Maybe I have always known it but refused to accept it.  Today I solemnly swear that my career is taking a back seat to my life post this magnanimous meeting.  There is alot to look forward to…

Yesterday was incredibly special. I wish I could replay it.  The thought of being the center of attention is always daunting but the reality of it incredibly contagious.  The calls, the emails, the messages, the surprises, the thoughtful gestures, the gifts and the company were just perfect.  Despite the negativity of the past week, I couldnt help but feel extremely grateful for everything in my life.  I’m a very fortunate girl.  I just need to make a few tough choices to improve the quality of my life.  Right now, my bedroom is a sanctuary of joy filled with lots of balloons and the remains of gift wraps and bags.  

Another year older and certainly one more wiser.  May this be the year when I decide to put myself before my job.  Until then, I’ll just have me another piece of chocolate cake.

And the celebrations continue…

So in just the first week of August we celebrated two birthdays and an anniversary.  Following my last post I have consumed a considerable amount of sugar and taken lots of celebratory photos!  Among the last two celebrations were my parents  33rd wedding anniversary and my sisters 30th birthday.  Both big wows.  And with them desserts to match!

Given it is Ramadan, we are consuming very little of what mountain of desserts has quickly accumulated at home and severely craving them during fasting hours.  Moreover, this means I have resorted to much store-bought sugar relief over creating my own delicacies but fear not dear reader, this baker has not yet laid down her spatula.  Stay tuned for lots more to come… for now, enjoy my mouth-watering photos of the desserts we have so enjoyed devouring!

The last celebration of the month is my own.  Soon to be another year older… *gulp*

Orange-infused chocolate mousse cake with a macaron almond base

Happy Anniversary mum & dad!

Happy birthday sis!


August: the month of love

August is a month of many celebrations.  Birthdays, anniversaries and lots and lots of dessert.  Given we are in the holiest of months – Ramadan – the first celebration of yesterday saw the replacement of the traditional birthday cake with the uber traditional Arabic “knaffeh“.  Now there are many variations on this rich and syrupy dessert and many will strongly argue for the reasons behind the deliciousness of the version they prefer.  You typically lean towards one base.  It is an intriguingly patriotic type of dessert.

Yesterday, we celebrated with both versions, known as “kheshneh” (rough) and “na3meh” or (fine) in English.  This is because the family is not unified in its love towards one.  You can see the patriotism point I was making!  The difference between these two is in the dough.  Both are assemled similarly: a base of cheese – wonderfully soft and melted when warm – covered with a thick layer of dough, topped with crushed pistacios and drizzled with an incredible amount of that sugary-sweet gooey syrup.  The ” knaffe kheshneh” has a hair-like dough tinted a bright orange color with a bit of a crunch.  The “knaffeh na3meh” has more of a compact rich dough that is soft, more buttery and more indulgent.  You can see where my allegiance goes!

Knaffeh Kheshneh

Knaffeh Na3meh

Most Arabic desserts are similar in their construction.  I also brought home some of the delicious desserts that are triangular in shape, known as “mtaba2”.  This consists of a phyllo dough filled with cream or cheese and once again topped with crushed pistacios and drizzled with that famous syrup known as “atter”.  These are an absolute favorite of mine.

Mutaba2 or Triangles (my creatively inventive English name!)

Happy Birthday dad.

Still a few more celebrations to go…stay tuned for more sugary love!