July 26, 2010

It's a Boy

It's official. We're having a baby boy. Despite Jessica's recent dream where we were having a girl, we still suspected we'd have a boy. We, along with Jessica's mom, have been thinking boy since day one.

Jessica's second grade class took a "very serious and official" sealed ballot poll on Friday with the consensus being a girl. Surprisingly, Pastor Keith, who has a nearly flawless record, thought we were having a girl. Justin's mom and brother were guessing a girl. Not quite yet.

"So what's the name?" you're probably wondering. "Are you guys telling people yet?" Yes, we are. We had both boy and girl names decided a few years ago soon after we got married [which included multiple vetoes], so we're not changing our minds and no one else is going to either.

Here it is: Ezra James, named after the Old Testament prophet.

July 25, 2010

Week 18: Low Country NC

Here's this week's shot. We waited until a little too late in the day this week so the lighting situation was a little iffy and lead to a blurry picture. I'll make up for it next week.

This weekend, my brother and his girlfriend came to visit. With the heat index at 110° on Saturday, we took a day trip to the coast. Earlier in June we posted pictures from our trip to the high country (Boone & Blowing Rock), but now we're shifting it to the opposite end of the state with shots from our visit to the low country.

In the mad dash to leave the house on time, I forgot my camera. Thanks to my baby brother, Jered, for being prepared and covering for me. Here are pictures from New Bern (North Carolina's oldest city) and beautiful Emerald Isle.

[She can still rock the two-piece]

July 21, 2010


If you've been following along over the past few weeks, you might have noticed that I've been trying hard to take quality pictures and include a few from places we visit. In December or January, the travel shots will be replaced by baby photography.

My photography, if you can call it that, is still in its beginner phases. I like to think that I'm getting better every week as I keep finding new things to shoot, but I still have a long way to go while I learn more about the fundamentals. My brother, Jered [link], has the right idea. Hopefully, I can catch up.

All of this started when Jessica's parents generously gave me my first Digital SLR camera a couple of years ago, but I really only began this spring. My whole family uses Nikon system of equipment, and I got added to the list. I, like my brother, use the Nikon D80.

If you were wondering, just about all of my shots so far have been taken with my 50mm fixed lens, affectionately called the "nifty fifty."

As we creep into the end of 2010, I hope you can see a difference in the quality of my work.



Below are some of the many concepts that I'm still trying to learn. Basic to my photographer friends, but a foreign language to me.

1.) Technical
  • ISO (sensitivity to lighting)
  • Aperture (depth of field)
  • Shutter Speed and more
2.) Composition
  • Subject Framing
  • Angles
  • Dynamics and much more
3.) Post-processing (Editing)

There's so much to learn and practice that it's head spinning. It turns out you just can't point, shoot, and expect it to turn out like a magazine ad. Who knew?



While I'm talking about it, here are some links to my own friends:

But if you're ever in need of professional work, don't hesitate to check them out.

July 18, 2010

Week 17: Old Salem, NC

Here is week 17. They're flying by. Today, we met Jessica's mom, grandma, & brother at the halfway point between Raleigh and Blacksburg: Winston-Salem, NC. After dodging an afternoon thunder storm, we took a quick walk down the road at Old Salem, a living history town that recreates Salem, NC from 1766-1840 and sits on 100 acres near the middle of downtown. It's a little bit like Colonial Williamsburg but smaller and in an unlikely location.

Coming up for Week 18: possibly New Bern / Beaufort, NC if my brother comes to visit.

[Show off the food baby ]

July 12, 2010

July 12th, 2008

Nearly five years ago, I met a girl in her sophomore year at Virginia Tech. Three years ago this Wednesday, I asked her to make me the happiest man in the world. Exactly two years ago today, I married the love of my life.

Our marriage gets better and grows stronger every single day. I appreciate everything you do, and I promise to always make you feel appreciated.

Happy Anniversary, Jessica. I love you and everything about you.

Your Husband

July 11, 2010

Week 16: Pinehurst, NC

Here we are at week sixteen. After church today, we decided to take a quick trip just an hour south to Pinehurst, NC (specifically The Village of Pinehurst). Not many places were open today in the business district since it's Sunday, but it was still really nice to walk around. Charlie came along, but none of his pictures came out well since he was moving around too much.

The town is the home of the world famous Pinehurst Golf Resort. Of its eight courses, the most notable is "No. 2" which has hosted several PGA majors and is the site of the 2014 U.S. Open. It would fulfill a dream play it one day, but I may never get over the $400+ greens fees. Until then, we'll just take day trips and enjoy the sights. The houses [mansions] in this area are unbelievable.

Some pictures from today. Enjoy.

July 8, 2010

Recipe: Mac & Cheese

Since this blog was created to document our growing family, why not include some favorite meals / recipes every once in a while?

Jessica is a whiz in the kitchen, particularly in the baking department, so stay tuned for future posts of her best desserts. For now, due to popular demand from our 4th of July picnic, here is the mac & cheese recipe that has made numerous appearances in our dinner lineup.

It is a slightly adapted recipe by The Neelys on Food Network. If you know them, you know that this recipe will be a) ridiculously good and b) bad for your health so we'd advise not adding this to your weekly rotation.

In my opinion, this dish requires cavatappi pasta. While it's harder to find and never on sale, it gives it a great texture. Also, the dry mustard, Texas Pete, and Worcestershire sauce provide the bite. Lastly, and most importantly, the bacon and crushed potato chips take it to a whole new level. As already mentioned, you probably shouldn't eat this all the time, but it will be hard not to.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 Tbs butter
4 cups milk, warmed

1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper as desired
Several shakes (or more) Texas Pete [or sub your favorite here]
Dash Worcestershire sauce

1 pound cavatappi pasta, cooked al dente
3 cups shredded Cheddar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for topping)

1 lunch-sized bag of crushed Lay's potato chips
5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled/chopped


Prep: Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pasta: Boil cavatappi pasta (cook al dente), drain, & put in a 3 qt casserole dish.

Sauce: Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the warmed milk and bring to a boil. Continue to whisk constantly. The mixture will thicken as the heat increases. Continue to stir while adding the dry mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Stir in the 3 cups of Cheddar until it melts.

Mix: Combine the cheese sauce with the noodles and mix in crumbled bacon (leave some to the side as a topping).

Sprinkle the crushed potato chips, remaining bacon, and grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 35 minutes, let it rest a few minutes, say your blessings, dig in, lounge.

July 4, 2010

Week 15: July 4th

Happy Independence Day everyone. Here's this week's picture.

We spent the 4th at NC State's Carter Finley Stadium (fireworks across the street at the fair grounds) with many of our friends from Good Hope. For the past few years, Thom and Sue (below) have graciously organized everything and staked out the lot early in the day in order to claim the shaded / wooded spot for everyone.

Mrs. Betty Lou brought her famous pound cake, and Mr. Wiley brought his ice cream. Days don't get much better than this.

Thom & Sue

Mrs. Betty Lou