Monday, April 28, 2014

Vegan Deep Dish Pizza from VeganYackAttack

Ok, so I haven’t had a deep dish pizza since I became lactose intolerant, which is about four years ago. For some odd reason I never really craved it, even living in Chicago didn’t make me want it. Maybe because I don’t usually like to work with yeast, making yeast dough takes so much time. Little too long for my busy lifestyle.

Recently, I got a huge craving for a good ole slice of a deep dish goodness. Cheezy sauce, mushrooms covered with a pillow of tomato sauce, resting on a delicious crust. I began to surf the web for the ultimate recipe that would be simple enough for me to make it.

Ta-daaahhhh! Found it! I stumbled upon a vegan blog, Vegan Yack Attack, and the most delicious food photography I’ve ever seen. I am not kidding you, I was drooling! Jackie nailed the recipe and her photography is just amazing! Saturday couldn’t come fast enough.

[Photo credit: Jackie from VeganYackAttack. I didn't photograph my pizza. Not this time.]

The pizza dough itself was pretty easy to make, didn’t require too much drama. It was fairly fast. While the dough was raising, I sautéed three different kinds of mushrooms, oyster, shitake and baby bellas with some chopped onions, and a bit of olive oil. I have to have mushrooms on my deep dish! I also decided to skip the macaroni part, so I made the cheese mixture as per recipe, but did not mix it with pasta. Still worked out pretty good. The filling portion was not as tall, as on Jackie’s pizza, but tasted just great.  For full recipe, along with amazing step by step photography visit VeganYackAttack.


If you ever find yourself in a crave of vegan deep dish – this is the recipe you need to use! Vegan Yack Attack blog is now in my favorites!

Bit More About NYC

Five days is nothing to spend in NYC. We’ve done so much, and there is so much more to do. I was really hoping for some night shots from Brooklyn. Long exposure, smooth waters of the East River, and illuminated city glowing above. And the golden hour from the Top of the Rock! I guess we need few more trips to NYC to cover it all. I don’t even want to mention all the vegan restaurants/cafes that I didn’t have a chance to visit. The list will wait until the next time. Maybe in the fall.




I've been wanting to get a full frame DSLR for a while, and after doing some research, I decided to go with Canon 6D, and since I already had two L series lenses, Canon was to way to go. So the trip to NYC became a great reason why I should be buying my new camera. I am pretty happy with my purchase. I love my new 6D, goes perfectly with my L series 24-105 IS lens. Performs great in low lighting. Now I just need to do more traveling to fulfill my passion of a landscape photography. 


















Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New York City - May 2013

It’s been almost a year since our 5 day trip to New York City. I was finally ready to visit the Big Apple, and we decided that May should be perfect.  As always, I booked us through Expedia. We stayed at super old hotel on 57th Street – the Wellington Hotel. I have to say, the hotel wasn’t the greatest, but the location was perfect. Subway stop right outside the door. Close to Central Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and more.


Since this was our first time in this city, I wanted to make sure we cover “a few” things. We turned into tourists, which I quite hate, but we had no choice. There was so much to see in such a little time. I planned every minute of it!


We both loved NYC! Someone had asked me what was my favorite thing about it, and I have to admit the best thing for us was the subway system! You can get ANYWHERE in the city by subway!! It’s fairly easy, fast and super convenient. Chicago’s CTA is nothing comparing to NYC subway system. I was impressed. Buying a week subway pass was one of the smartest things we could have done. For only $30 we traveled the city for five days, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day, with different transfers, etc.



We arrived on Thursday before noon. After we checked in to the Wellington, we ventured out down 7th Ave, we walked to Times Square, and ended up in Hell’s Kitchen, where we got lunch. Next stop was The Colbert Report, which was perfectly located in a walking distance from the hotel. That was fun. I’m glad I got to see Steven and the show before the CBS sweeps him under their wings. After the show we met with some people, and went out for dinner and drinks. I wish I remember all the places we went out to.


Next day was packed with activities. Mainly walking. We headed south to SoHo, Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village, never made to Tribeca. Later we took the train to Madison Park to check out the old Flatiron Building. Around 6 pm we got back to our neighborhood, trying to get up to the Top of The Rock, but it was sold out all the way until 10:30 pm. We did the 10:30, but obviously, that was not the ideal timing for photography. The sky was black! The city lights were pretty, but nothing I haven’t seen before. I was so bumped out by not being able to get up there during the golden hour and the sunset. Maybe next time.



Saturday morning we decided to do the bridges. We walked Manhattan Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Stayed in DUMBO for a bit, had lunch, walked around. On the way back we walked Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The day was gloomy and rainy, but we made it worth a while. I love bridges so skipping that part of our NYC trip wouldn't work. Back in Lower Manhattan, we did more walking, got a pick-me-up green tea/coffee and headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner at Candle 79.





Upper East Side is sort of like the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago. I wish we had more time to wander around the streets, check out local cafés, shops and boutiques. Again – maybe next time. We took subway to get to the restaurant, met with friends, had an amazing vegan meal and took the train all the way to Brooklyn. Destination Pork Slope – bar in the Park Slope neighborhood. We stayed out late, and took a 4 am train ride back to our hotel. Train was mostly empty, except few characters. It felt very safe to be on it, I didn't fear for my life as I would taking the train in Chicago at 4 am.



Sunday, we slept in a bit. Lunch at Red Bamboo, 2nd time. After, we made a quick coffee stop by Grand Central Terminal. What an amazing Building! I wasn't able to catch sunlight coming through the windows due to the weather, but snapped few long exposure shots before I got in trouble for resting the camera on the ledge. 

It was raining again. Central Park was on the agenda, and nothing, even the rain was going to stop me from checking it out. We didn't get to see all the parts we planned, but we got a glimpse of the park, and realize how HUGE it is! Unless you are there, walking it, you have no idea how large Central Park really is. We enter the park from The Upper East Side, went through the trail towards The Lake/The Bow Bridge, and exited on the Upper West Side.


Tim had to hold my umbrella as I was trying to snap some shots. It was getting cold, windy and the rain wasn’t going away. We stopped by the Whole Foods at the Columbus Circle to get something for dinner, and went back to the hotel to get rid of our wet clothes.


The rain finally stopped, it was around 8 or 9 pm, we walked out for our last evening stroll through the streets of Manhattan. We walked towards Time Square. It wasn't empty, but definitely not as many people as during the day. The lights, the fog, the evening was just perfect. Shopping was finally more fun.


Not wanting this trip to end, we stopped by some random bar maybe on 49th Street, maybe 54th Street… not sure where. It was dark, quite empty and had a lot cool art on the walls. We sat down and order drinks and talked about the last few days in this wonderful city.



Next morning we took the train all the way to Lower Manhattan, Tim wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. It looked quite small from the shore. I don’t know what he expected… 5 Pointz Graffiti in Queens was the next stop. It was pretty need to see, considering that it’s getting demolished right now. Quick lunch, and the ride back to the hotel to pick up the language, and head for the airport.  

I could definitely live in NYC, for a year or two. Probably not much longer. I would love the opportunity to photograph every forgotten corner, street, bridge, city sunsets and sunrises, document the life and come back to the Midwest, or go somewhere else :)

See more of my NYC photography on Flickr .



Monday, April 21, 2014

Crazy Busy 2013

It's April 2014, and it's been five moths since my last post. Where did this time go? My full time job took over my life about a year ago, and I seem to have a hard time getting it back. Last year, around this time, the company I work for started the process of acquiring one of the iconic landmarks in Chicago - John Hancock Center, located on the north Michigan Avenue. Within couple of months we closed the deal and the fun begun... That iss pretty much where I've been for the past year. Working, working and working...

PR articles - Read more here and here.




The 2013 was little crazy, and little busy. But we managed to get out of town few times during the year, we went to New York City back in May, then the week long Shelbyville camping over July 4th. We spend most of the summer in the city, enjoyed our new set up on the deck, hang out on the beaches. Last weekend of July, we traveled to Mackinac Island, MI, for Tim's parents 50th wedding anniversary weekend. And week later off to three days of Lollapalooza, my birthday treat :) We ended the summer with a quick weekend in Door County, WI. Just the three of us. We rented a cabin at the Door County Camping Retreat, and spend few days laying low, enjoying beautiful fall weather, and celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary.



Fall went by so quickly, trying to soak up the last rays of the sun before the winter, we spend weekends outside, in the Chicago parks. Thanksgiving was short and sweet with too much wine, we traveled to Boston/Cape Cod the next morning for a wedding. It was cold and we had first snow of the season that week. After that, the craze of Christmas started, and December was over before i had a chance to blink. Family Christmas, and fun New Years Eve party with my siblings marked the end of the 2013.




Chicago is a great music city, with so many great music venues, and concert places. So we decided to jump on it again, and see as many bands as we could squeeze into our schedules. In February, we saw my favorite band Hunter Valentine, Deer Tick at the City Winery in May, then summer started with Zac Brown Band in Alpine Valley, WI. We saw FUN at the Taste of Chicago. Then, as I already mentioned - Lolla 2103 - Mumford & Suns, The Lumineers, Nine Inch Nails, Vampire Weekend, Tegan & Sarah, Ellie Goulding, and many many more. Cindy Lauper - She's So Unusual Tour at Chicago Theater. Fall, UC Pavilion - The Avett Brothers with Deer Tick (score! 2 great bands in one show). Bottom Lounge - The Mowglis, and few other shows, I don't remember the names...


Reflecting on the past year, made me realize that we have done so much, despite being so busy with both of our careers. I love going through the pictures on my iphone, perfect documentation of the year.


Here is to New 2014! I hope it's going to be better in many ways!

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