Southern California Maternity Session

As love stories evolve, Jennifer and Brian’s is the best one yet. Why, you ask? Because I’m going to be an aunt! They are expecting a baby boy, and I can’t wait to meet my little nephew when he is introduced into the world. I was honored to photograph Jennifer and Brian’s wedding a few years back and now I have photographed their maternity session in Southern California where I’m from and where they still reside. Everything about it was beautiful, the immense joy that they both felt, the beauty of my sister (of course), the love from Brian for his wife, and the absolutely magical scenery. I also wanted to make their maternity session extra special so I handmade the bouquet that Jennifer is holding. I hope you feel the adoration and happiness in their images as much as I do!

 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Considered a photography marvel, must-see landmark, and a site to promote cultural awareness, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque (also known as the Grand Mosque) in Abu Dhabi reigns in a shroud of pure splendor. It continues to be a widely admired place to visit for many around the world as many leave in awe of its scale and magnificence.

 

When you enter the premises, you cannot help but gaze wondrously at its intricate twenty-four karat gold design, Swarovski adorned chandeliers, the largest carpet rug in the world that lays in the main prayer hall, and the structure’s marble exterior hue that emulates light. The endless columns spanning over a thousand support the near eighty domes that top the architecture.

 

The late president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, commissioned the project, which was completed in 2007. He is buried at the grounds of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The purpose of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was to have an architectural icon for visitors to have an understanding of the religion, instruct others about its civilization and arts, be a place of worship, and to actively encourage diversity. Many countries and international artisans were involved in the design and construction of the site.

 

 

Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge, Oklahoma City

When it first opened in June of 2016, the 21c Museum Hotel in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City was already a budding concept in several second tier cities throughout the United States. Mesmerizing guests with its ingenious combination of distinctive art galleries, revitalized historic buildings, and eclectic interiors, the 21 Museum Hotels have been quite the place you would want to be caught hanging around at. The Oklahoma City location is no different, and to top it off, it houses the Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge restaurant, with savory dishes prepared by executive chef Jason Campbell.

 

Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge is defined by plush, jeweled toned seats, industrial styled bar counter tops and stools, unique artwork springing up on walls here and there, and of course, the infamous penguin statues made from recycled materials. Even the table seats are re-purposed as well, each composed of 111 recycled coke bottles.

 

The seasonally, evolving brunch menu did not disappoint either. With ingredients sourced locally and simple dishes added with a little bit of flair and surprise, our omelettes, pancakes, and sandwiches hit the spot. Kenneth, our server, enlightened us with his French press knowledge, and as we chatted we discovered he had transferred from the Bentonville location, the only one of the 21c Museum Hotels that was built from the ground up. He told us about how each penguin statue is a different color for each location. For example, Oklahoma City is represented by a purple penguin, while Bentonville with green, and Lexington with blue. Another attribute that gives the 21c Museum Hotels their signature mark. We noticed that young ones dining in the restaurant each had a life size penguin statue accompanying them as they ate. The penguins’ presence seemed to make every guests’, not just the children’s, experience that much more fun.

 

As we left Mary Eddy’s with satisfied stomachs, we ventured on into the adjoining building of the 21c Hotel to view the exquisite, contemporary art gallery that is open and free to the public. But more on that later.

 

The Drake Seafood & Oysterette, Oklahoma City

At the corner of 23rd Street and Walker Avenue in Oklahoma City is a concept that has been flourishing for quite some time now. It’s a fresh idea that one wouldn’t usually associate with the landlocked state of Oklahoma. It’s an oyster bar.

 

The Drake Seafood and Oysterette is a quintessential ode to the burgeoning 1960’s. Once you enter the place, you immediately notice the calm pool blue splashed upon the bar’s back walls, adorned with brass shelving and white marble counter tops. Spacious rotundas and brass dome lamps circle around the restaurant, all accents of mid-century modern design.

 

With her vibrant dyed hair, a color almost in sync with the restaurant’s surroundings, our waitress (and dual-role as a bartender) Amy, shows us the ropes about all the variations of oysters that The Drake has to offer. Each circular metal nest Amy brings out to us takes us on a seashore journey–from New Brunswick with the Saint Simon, to Rhode Island with the Moonstone, to Chesapeake Bay with the Wellfleet, and then west to Washington state with the Diamond Point. The array of sauces paired with the oysters are a kaleidoscopic fleet for the taste buds themselves. Even the chile-lime sauce infused fish tacos make for a delightful escape. Despite the busyness that the popularity of the place brings, Amy beams with energy. When she tells us that she enjoyed having a weekday date night with her husband, we can perceive that sort of break doesn’t affect the refreshment she gets from sharing with patrons about The Drake’s selection of oysters and bustling around the bar counter.

 

As we savor our seafood dishes, we cannot help but be mesmerized by The Drake’s interior. It parallels with the Earth’s counter part to land mass, the saline water that covers more than 70% of our world. Aside from the color of the bar walls, the sand hued surfaces of the tables and seagull white Eiffle dining chairs conjure up reminiscences of the sea. The oysterette is a mixture of glamour but yet quaint. It surprises you. Silverware is from estate sales, and each utensil is unique, just like The Drake itself.

 

Not only does The Drake bait you from within it’s walls, but once you leave the restaurant, you cannot help but stop and stare at its sign. It towers on top of the building, right at the corner of the street. The glitz of the multi-hued signage washes over you and then pulls you in like a lavender toned sunset dipping into the ocean.

 

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