family

#littlemeatsla

Every year we grow a bit older and we come to new realizations about life and what it means to us. What was once important to us may no longer be important and what was never important become important. Life's a trip isn't it? So what does that have to do with today's blog post?

My dear friend Nhu celebrated her 35th birthday last week and invited 26 of her very closest friends to a little wine and dine at http://www.littlemeatsla.com. Basically this little gem is a loft space where creative chefs like Stevie Cho put on meals for a small group of like minded individuals who have the same love for food and life. A wonderful space and a marvelous time we had....

That night we had a sample of Kimchi Deviled Eggs as we started to pour a nice glass of wine to celebrate the night. The table was filled with handmade details that really set the mood off. Saying hello to some old faces was a real nice treat as well.

Next was a slow roasted pork belly slider tucked in between a King's Hawaiian Bread. Inside was some sort of pickle that really gave it a contrasting flavor that really brought the whole thing together. As we toasted the birthday girl, you can see the staff putting together our meals. 

I met Nhu back in college... way back in 2001... so it has been a good minute. She's one of the most sneakiest people I know. She will try to pay a tab behind my back, sneak in some money into my wife's purse when I try to pay for something... you get the idea but over the years, we have decided to play it neutral cause she knows I will take it to the next level... lol. But my wife and I love this girl.. she's one of the most careless individuals I know. She will give anything and everything you ask of her... well that is if she loves you ;) and so capturing some genuine moments of this girl who hates being in front of the camera makes me happy. 

Stevie Cho is here prepping our main course of prime rib sided by some home mashed potatoes and corn to match. Look at the brown on the crush of this roast!

Friends on friends on friends... all enjoying this sliver of a moment before getting back to the madness of the world. Grabbed a few candids of everyone having a good time... I wish all the minutes of our lives was this great.

Knives and meats... my kind of joint. Plate me please...!

In typical Nhu fashion, she surprised one of her friend's with a surprise dessert and candle for her birthday... just sharing her moment with her girl.... and below you can see this girl who rarely smiles this large captured by yours truly. Truly a rare moment indeed lol...

So another year older, another year wiser, we take all of our experiences and mash them into what is our reality. What was once important to me has taken a backseat to all the things that have taken on a new significance in my life. Our time is definitely short in this world and this day was a reminder to me to live life like it was meant to be. 

I love you to the Muon and back my dear! Happy 35th birthday.... your smile brightens all of our days and big shoutout to Stevie and his crew for making this night quite the enjoyable evening. Cheers!

Andy

A weekend getaway to Parker, AZ (Part 2)

So on our 2nd day at Parker, we wasted no time getting pulled on the raft... which it seems fun until you get back there. Now I am not saying it was scary but it definitely made you feel nervous as we were on the edge of the waves many times. 

Later we realized that we needed to extend the rope out and get a bit further away from the waves that the boat was creating. This made it less nerve wracking and more enjoyable. 

As you can see my brother in law Billy is very much at home in these environments. 

So later in the day, I get a call from Billy that they dropped off my mother and father in law at the local casino. Then 20 mins later I get a call for a pick up. Looked like they weren't so lucky gambling the slots that day. They lost a good sum of money but them smiles... must of hurt bad lol.

I was burnt out most of the day because of yesterday's activities. So I do what I like to do best when I am chillin' at home, I cook! My mother in law grabbed some beautiful skirt flap meat at Costco the day before we left. This is one of my most favorite cuts of meats cause of its ability to absorb marinades and even more importantly, lime juice! 

I had some beautiful tomatoes, red onion and cilantro and made pico de gallo as a topping for our asada tacos. Only thing that was missing was some heat, habanero, serranos or my favorite, thai chilis. 

Loved watching the kids play a round of Monopoly... while the sounds of an old school movie played in the back. Now it was starting to feel like a vacation... 

Bishop was already back at fishing. He had caught a larger bass in the early morning and he was on the hunt for another. This boy loves fishing!

Took some landscapes of our view from the dock. You can see California across the river... the land where everything is expensive and taxes are high. It was nice to be on the AZ side.

At night, I decided to bring out the tripod and get some starscapes and various shots of the rocky terrain. The stars were shinny so bright that night. It was partly cloudy but more and more they started to dissipate. It gave me a chance to capture the stars and it was so dark outside, the stars really stood out.

As I noticed the Milky Way Galaxy above me and bummed that I didn't bring a lens wider than a 24mm, I only got smaller segments of the MWG. So instead I started to look for constellations. I was mainly looking for the Big Dipper because it has been so long since I have seen it. If you look at the photo above, you can see the Big Dipper if you look close enough. 

I photoshopped the lines above so it is easier to see the Big Dipper. It was so big above the horizon. I was blown away by its scale. One to remember for sure. 

Got a few shots of the house rental at night and one of the Milky Way and a shooting star blowing by. So cool...!

Next morning we started to pack up and then got together for a family portrait. Got one of the kids too... I already feel sad because I know they will look grow next year and we will look back at how small they were... ugh. :(

Found a local diner that served American Style Breakfast. I ordered the ham steak cause the waitress told me it was 1.5lbs. She wasn't kidding. The ham was super salty... but a good memory we had was when she came to check up on us later, she said, "The ham is really good. It is not salty or anything!". I nearly laughed my ass off when she said that but she was such a sweet old woman I left it as it is. Memories. lol.

On our way home, the Suburban got stopped. Needed to check and see if we weren't importing dangerous plants over from AZ. lol

There were so many beautiful clouds hanging around all day. The brown from the land and the blues form the skies were so harmonious. 

Then we found this... a place where people leave their shoes for some reason....? It smelt like a dingy old locker. So glad we stopped here. My life wouldn't have been complete without witnessing it. 

More landscapes and love's. Nuts and Iced Tea FTW.

Was a wonderful weekend to get away from the land of the crazy but glad to be back in action. 

I know a lot of you out there work a lot, don't work enough, wish you could travel more, etc. Stop making excuses in your life. Be the change you want to see. I know making change is not easy to do but with small steps, you can turn something mountainous and turn it into something you can handle on a day to day basis. 

Til the next,
Andrew Manley

Sept 15th 1995...

September 15th, 1995

The day that I asked her to be my girlfriend.

Circa Oct 1995-ish

Circa Oct 1995-ish

Yup, 20 years ago that happened and now here we are... in a blink of an eye, in the future. 

I was only 15 when all of this went down. All of it fit like a glove, it was very natural from the start. Of course, I am not a normal person so she had some adjusting to do but I kept her on her toes. Never a dull moment. For example, when I asked her out, I didn't say "Would you be my girlfriend". No no no, that's no fun. We were shooting basketball in her backyard in the dark. I was so nervous the whole time and in order to break myself from my nerves, I grabbed the ball and yelled out "Ok, fuck the bullshit, will you go out with me?!". LOL... what a tool I was. She bought what I was selling, so all good hahahaha!

From the start, I knew that we were in it for the long haul. There was no pressure to be something we weren't. So our journey kept on chugging and chugging along. It all seemed like it was in a blink of an eye but when I sit down and think about it, we have been through 20 years of memories. Some of you reading this probably weren't even around 20 years ago. You were just a seed of a seed lol. We basically grew up  together, more than half our lives together.

You know when you know someone so well that you know what they are gonna do or say before they do or say it... yea... when you open yourself up and let yourself become vulnerable for someone else, it is easy to do that. Through high school, college, church stuff, our 20's, different careers, traveling, getting married and starting a family, it has been an incredible journey with you. I know in the next 20 years and 20 years after that, I already know a life full of laughter and joy will be ahead because no matter where we are, we will always have each other. 

It has been and is everything that I envisioned it to be and the joy in my heart is so full... my life has been filled many lifetimes over. I wish the world could love so deeply as we do, then life for all would be a dream.

11 years ago today, I asked this woman to be my wife. Surrounded by friends and family, it was one for the record books. She got quite a surprise that day. Mission completed gracefully and in less than 9 months, we will celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. I cannot wait to see you there.

So how did we celebrate our 20 year dating anniversary? Maybe a trip to Europe? Fancy Dinner? A getaway? Nope, nope, nope. We ended up watching the rain as it spontaneous poured down the entire day, eating Chipotle, shopping and eating dinner at a Korean joint. Later to be joined by my first "adopted" son Alec. Who so very quickly grabbed a photo of me in a very happy moment. Awakening from a 30 min nap that actually took 2 hours, group hugged by the wifey and my ever so handsome boy Calvin. 

I am so rich in love, I'll never be a poor man. I have been gifted with every joy that a man could and would want. A love that loves back endlessly, unconditionally and relentlessly. Thank you Lord for all that you have blessed me with. I am truly a lucky man. 

Happy anniversary love.

Photo by @alecnguyen http://www.alecnguyen.com

Photo by @alecnguyen http://www.alecnguyen.com



A weekend getaway to Parker, AZ (Part 1)

Last weekend was Labor Day and as a majority of American's leave on their vacations, my family chills at home. Why you ask? Well because of the traffic, congestion and sheer number of frustrations that go on with a 3 day weekend. So we like to go vacay on an off weekend where the mood is more relaxed. We head off to Parker, AZ, where it is right on the border of the California and Arizona border, split by the Colorado River. West side of the river is California and East side is Arizona. So cool to be at two places at one time.

 

We woke up around 5:45am and started to get things ready for the trip... we did hit the snooze a handful of time but we still kept on schedule. 

We met up with the rest of the family where we switched cars and followed my bro/sis in law along with their new boat. 

The kids were so excited... you can see how tired Bishop was still.

Since we all ran out of the house this morning, no one had time for a proper breakfast. So we stopped by Yum Yum Donuts for a filler until we got to Parker. Donuts, croissants, bagels, muffins, juice.. we loaded as much as we could!

It wasn't until we got to Palm Springs where we had a more interesting landscape to photograph. In combination with the Marumi 82mm circular polarizer, the blues in the sky became rich and contrasty and made for a more dramatic scene. All the windmills were standing still so I guess there was a lack of wind that day. Did a roller of a Chevy Suburban and a boat on a trailer. The longest vehicle I ever did a roller on. Had to shoot 4 lanes over in the fast lane while they were in the slow lane. 

We made our only pit stop in Coachella Valley at this Shell Gas Station. I guess I knew I was in the hot desert when I was welcomed by these cacti. 

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a freak for fried chicken. I love trying all types of fried chicken but still broasted chicken is still the best. They are getting harder and harder to find. Found this Chester Fried and you know I had to get a few pieces. 

Right under the heating lamp laid my snack. Now if you have been following along my blog, you would know that I started a "diet" where I eat what I want but all I do is portion my meal. I used to eat until I was full or 110% full which led to the constant stretching of my stomach. So now I try to eat only up to 70% of capacity. In the past week, I feel better and less bloated. Two dark meat with a biscuit came out to just under $5. Ain't cheap but even worse was that it wasn't anything special. Not that I was expecting much but I love it when life throws me a curve ball. 

My mother in law loves to play her chances on scratches and Lotto. Today she won $15 but only broke even cause she bought a few extra scratchers. So it was a win but not a win situation.

So as we hit the road again, we were faced with more dirt, rocks and sky. I used slow shutter speeds to give the images a bit more character. Shot them between 1/15 and 1/60th of a second. The shot of the of the road, we ended up pulling over for it but the road had a lot of peaks and valleys so it didn't end up looking like what I wanted it for and finally we got to Parker, AZ. 

Made a panoramic of the area we were staying at.

We ended up renting out a house, got our own garage and security gate as well. It was only a 100 degrees when we got there but it got hotter as the day went on.

We started to unload and walk towards the house. This was the first part of the waterfront we saw and the dock where the boat goes. It was pretty sweet alright.

The unit had three bedrooms with a secret bedroom which had another two beds. Could have invited some more people but oh well... lol... Loved the kitchen as it was spacious and allowed for all of us to have enough room to eat and move around. 

By brother in law Billy didn't waste anytime getting the boat on the water and getting ready for a test run on the Colorado. This is where his heart is and where he wants to dwell, perhaps one day brotha. We all jumped in for a quick tour of the land and water.

We eventually came back and went out again with the whole crew and in our bathing suits. We were ready to jump in the water... oh cause you know, it was burning like hell. lol... Plenty of mansion styled homes for sale. Set you back a million+ lol.

We headed up river and eventually docked by a mini market to get some goods and jumped in the Colorado. 

The water was warm but it cooled us off nicely... here is a nice snapshot of how the next hour went. My niece Jasmyn loved the shot above. It is pretty cool that exact moment, the moment where we were just happy to be...

Photos of the happy crew... minus me of course... photogaphers always get shun'd. 

We were told by sold locals to go a bit more upstream to check out the Parker Dam. So we headed out and this is what we saw. Then we decided to go for a dip in cooler waters. 

Got some fun snaps of the kids jumping in.

Once we headed we rested a bit and the kids started fishing. I loved watching the kids be with each other. The way they played, fought, searched for each other. Watching them enjoy life in it's purist form. To be one with the land and bond with each other. I pray that their bond will always be this tight. I love you kiddos.  

We brought along some baby back pork ribs and I started to smoke them ribs... here is a shot of them closer to the finished product.

It was a pleasant first day, we got to enjoy the water and had some great family moments. 

Bishop was so determined to catch a fish and an hour in, he grabbed himself a tiny Bass! Way to go buddy!

Our lives should be spent more with our loved ones building memories. Love is the master recipe to life's success. Love something, someone, God, community, family... it never fails. I know life is never easy... we are always faced with tough decisions... sometimes circumstances make us make bad decisions but when you have something to live for... the decision is always an easy one. 

I will have more on tomorrow's blog so make sure to check it out when I announce it on Instagram.

 

Newport Dunes + RV

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by so many great people in my life. Family sometimes are out of our control and you have to deal with circumstances which can make your life difficult. That's why when I look at my immediate family, I am so truly blessed to be surrounded by an amazing set of brothers and sisters. I couldn't have asked for more.... and when you combine great people with great times, for me that is the definition of the Good Life. 

Yesterday, Methuse, Calvin and I headed to Newport Dunes (http://www.newportdunes.com) for a day in the sun. My brother in law Billy and sister in law Marlene picked up a 36 foot 'Class A' RV a few months back and they have been living it up vacationing everywhere. I am getting the bug for this lifestyle and have been looking into a RV but time will tell if we eventually get one. 

I brought out my trusty and simple setup, Canon 5d Mark III and Canon 35L. The 35L has been my favorite focal length since 2004 and has never let me down. When I travel or go anywhere for that matter, I like to travel lite as bulk is never a friend of my joints. Especially at the tender age of 35... yes I said tender! lol

Since I didn't bring my 24mm TSE with me, I started to play with the idea of detaching my lens from the body to give that tilting effect. Not too bad for my first attempt.

Since I didn't bring my 24mm TSE with me, I started to play with the idea of detaching my lens from the body to give that tilting effect. Not too bad for my first attempt.

I tried these water obstacles last time... looks fun but takes a great deal of energy so this time I passed easily. lol

I tried these water obstacles last time... looks fun but takes a great deal of energy so this time I passed easily. lol

It's hard to get children to stand in front of a camera for more than 3 secs so I will chalk this one up as a win... caught them in a moment of sweet summer bliss.

It's hard to get children to stand in front of a camera for more than 3 secs so I will chalk this one up as a win... caught them in a moment of sweet summer bliss.

I have always be infatuated with trying to lock down a technique where the subject is slightly out of focus. The photo above is not a sample of this per say since I tilted the lens by unmounting it but there is a beauty in things not perfect. I will try to work on that some more in the future. 

I have always be infatuated with trying to lock down a technique where the subject is slightly out of focus. The photo above is not a sample of this per say since I tilted the lens by unmounting it but there is a beauty in things not perfect. I will try to work on that some more in the future. 

I like how people react in front of the camera... like many photographers, I also act strange when a camera is pointed in my direction and make strange faces as this young lad taking my credit card information for the kayak rental. 

I like how people react in front of the camera... like many photographers, I also act strange when a camera is pointed in my direction and make strange faces as this young lad taking my credit card information for the kayak rental. 

Racks on racks of Kayaks... must be nice. Shot this one at f/1.4 at 1/8000th ISO100.

Racks on racks of Kayaks... must be nice. Shot this one at f/1.4 at 1/8000th ISO100.

A photographer's life is tough... all my vacation photos look like my wife is a single mother... lol I know a lot of you have this same issue right?

A photographer's life is tough... all my vacation photos look like my wife is a single mother... lol I know a lot of you have this same issue right?

As each year passes, I feel myself getting marginally older but when I see the faces of these loves of mine, I know I am getting old. Grade school, middle school, high school are all around the bend. ugh

As each year passes, I feel myself getting marginally older but when I see the faces of these loves of mine, I know I am getting old. Grade school, middle school, high school are all around the bend. ugh

Another father-less capture lol... Cal is a classic example of a person who loves all things water. His love fuels my love. 

Another father-less capture lol... Cal is a classic example of a person who loves all things water. His love fuels my love. 

I believe in exercising but damn it is a lot of work isn't it? The burn is real. Finding a good rhythm is a must when multiple people are paddling. Remember that next time you go on a multiple person kayak. 

I believe in exercising but damn it is a lot of work isn't it? The burn is real. Finding a good rhythm is a must when multiple people are paddling. Remember that next time you go on a multiple person kayak. 

Jazmyn paddle boarded the entire hour like a champ. So proud of this one... the family the rows together....

Jazmyn paddle boarded the entire hour like a champ. So proud of this one... the family the rows together....

Bishop being the athlete he is also handled the waters like a champ. The smile says it all doesn't it? 

Bishop being the athlete he is also handled the waters like a champ. The smile says it all doesn't it? 

Even though it wasn't a holiday, seeing the good ole red, white and blue made this day appreciative. Thank you to all those that serve and have served. 

Even though it wasn't a holiday, seeing the good ole red, white and blue made this day appreciative. Thank you to all those that serve and have served. 

Lead the way Jaz!

Lead the way Jaz!

Now selfies I don't do often but I got tired of the father-less portraits so I had to get one that I could remember... no worries, it only took me 42 shots to nail this one. SMH

Now selfies I don't do often but I got tired of the father-less portraits so I had to get one that I could remember... no worries, it only took me 42 shots to nail this one. SMH

BBQ + Beach is always a must

BBQ + Beach is always a must

You know an Asian family is close when....

You know an Asian family is close when....

So out of nowhere, Calvin started to do backflips underwater after watching Jaz and Bishop do it a few times. His love for water is deep... I am proud of you my boy.

So out of nowhere, Calvin started to do backflips underwater after watching Jaz and Bishop do it a few times. His love for water is deep... I am proud of you my boy.

Innocent looking but a ruckus is a-coming

Innocent looking but a ruckus is a-coming

Splish splash

Splish splash

This one will bring me smiles for years to come. 

This one will bring me smiles for years to come. 

Deep into the night they run

Deep into the night they run

After the kids have settled down, we take a moment to remember the day. The fire burns with passion.

After the kids have settled down, we take a moment to remember the day. The fire burns with passion.

I hope that all of you have been taking the time to enjoy your summer. I know as we get older, the days, weeks, months, years all pass by so fast. We get caught up in the routine of life and that ultimately kills us slowly. Decades later, we wonder where the time went. Break up your routine. Do something out of the ordinary on a Tuesday because every Tuesday should feel like a Saturday shouldn't it?

Thanks for inviting us Billy, Marlene, Jaz, Bishop and Addy... We love you guys truly!

Til the next time
Andrew