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The Walkway

by Chansoda on June 24, 2015

After the garden, we tackled the walkway leading to it. Wanted to add some interesting landscaping to the yard, because you know… we didn’t do enough digging and hauling with the garden already (sarcasm).

But seriously, it looks much better. And the digging, nope, did not get any easier. But we did it! The first original home owners were big in to their landscaping, but it got lost and overgrown throughout the years. So working in the yard always feels a little bit like an excavation. We unearthed a lot of hidden belgian blocks in the ground that use to line their gardens and walkways and were able to gather them up to line our new gravel walkway. We even got a bit of a history lesson on them. The community was founded by a group of Jewish NYC firemen who wanted a summer home/camp for their families. When the streets of NY were being ripped up, the cobbled pavers removed to make new roads, these guys decided to grab them and use it up here in their homes. So, original belgian blocks from the streets of New York City, literally.  Pretty cool.

After the digging was done, we thought the hard part was over. It would have been had the gravel been delivered right next to the walkway. But instead it was dumped on the driveway… which is fine, at least it wasn’t the wrong driveway.

Shovel. Wheelbarrel. Haul. Dump. Repeat until we eventually used up the two yards of gravel.

No more (big) landscaping projects after this.

As for our garden, it’s growing very nicely.

And the sound of pea gravel beneath our feet is soothing to hear.













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ChansodaThe Walkway

A “Raney” Birthday at Two Roads

by Chansoda on June 13, 2015

We celebrated our friend Erin’s (Rane) birthday with a trip to Two Roads Brewery in Stratford this weekend.

Very cool brewery and highly recommend a visit if you’re interested in science, or beer, or just the science of beer! Definitely take the tour, it’s fairly inexpensive, you’ll learn a lot, and a plus, they give you beer to try! I love how they turned around the old historic US Baird building in to this beautiful factory and pumped so much life back in to it. It’s really impressive that they just started brewing a couple years ago (still considered a start up), but they already have expansions on the way and putting out some great craft beers.

We ordered a flight and found that Karla and I are partial to the Honeyspot Road White IPA, it had a nice clean crisp taste with a smooth sweet aroma to it. So so good on a hot summer day. Enjoyed it with some unhealthy fried goodness and serious layered baked potatoes from The Spud Stud food truck, parked outside for your convenience. (Check out the Two Roads website for their food truck schedule)

Great visit, and from their website, looks like they have lot going on, so if you like good brews, definitely check them out.

It was really hard to take good pictures with beer in hand, and beer on brain = tipsy.


Grab a beer and have a seat at Two Roads


Huge vats!


The ladies!


All kinds of brews!


The Honeyspot hits the spot!


I suggest you try them all.


Factory tour



Samples for everyone!


the malts!


What do you see in there?









The foam is a good thing.



wanna try some veggie mite…



almost my last name, almost…


Supporting the local brewery with Two Roads gear from the shop.





sporting our gear!


Yeaaa growlers of beer!



growler monster!



And one for the Road… errr, Two for the Road…



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ChansodaA “Raney” Birthday at Two Roads

At Stone Barns

by Chansoda on June 8, 2015

A swanky food-centric birthday party got me photo gigging at Blue Hill At Stone Barns. Such a gorgeous place on an absolutely lovely day.  A very big Happy Birthday to our friend Tim! And a big thank you to Tim and Christine for the honor of documenting the day. We had such a great time with his band of merry friends. The food, the setting, and the company were all amazing.

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ChansodaAt Stone Barns

My “Little Free Library” Project

by Chansoda on June 4, 2015

Maybe it’s not so romantic, but I really wanted power tools for Christmas and that’s exactly what Karla got me and I couldn’t be happier. My brother was little horrified when he heard that’s what I received, he’s use to giving his girlfriend the jewelry and fashionable hand bags. Then when it comes time to helping him put something together for his girlfriend (say a handmade computer desk), who comes to the rescue??? Yea, not one of my other brothers (I have 4 of them), his only sister with the power tools.

Anyways, the tools have been put to good use! So far, I fixed the screening on our porch, even went to my mother’s and screened in her porch for her, and built a garden bed for our home. Putting pieces of wood together with nails and/or screws, apparently, has resulted in the misconception that I’m some sort of expert, and was volunteered by a certain some one to make a “Little Free Library” for Caramoor.

The project is fun and I’m certainly a fan of the idea of book sharing. It’s great!! Building it… well it has been a learning experience. I’m trying to make it look sort of like the Rosen House at Caramoor, which is a Mediterranean style stucco building… it’s a work in progress. I may have made it a bit too big and awkward, most people have been asking me if it’s a dog house for Holly. No, its a house for books! Latest challenge is the roofing, I have been youtubing how to roof a house. I couldn’t put real spanish tiles on this roof, but did find something that sort of resembles it. So, we shall see!




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ChansodaMy “Little Free Library” Project

Gardens and Dirt!

by Chansoda on May 30, 2015

I build, we dig, she plants.

We wanted a garden and was it a lot of work building and filling this thing! We went with cedar planks for the garden bed and used 2×4 studs as posts. A kind neighbor saw me working hard on the construction so he dropped off some of his old fencing, which I was able to cut up to build fencing frames that will keep the deer and other animals out. After it was built, we did the math and realized we needed about A LOT of dirt to fill the thing. That can get expensive with delivery. So, at first we attempted to save money by filling our friend’s truck with dirt from the community compost pile… by hand shoveling… which means we first had to hand shovel the dirt in to the truck, then off the truck in to our bed… The truck broke down after the first run so we didn’t get very far… then we decided that was enough for the day.

As luck would have it, the next morning another neighbor stopped by and asked if we still needed dirt. A mistake delivery just happened to work out in our favor. Don’t turn away FREE DIRT! They dropped off a huge pile of topsoil into our drive way (of course it starts raining…pouring rain… but free dirt is the silver lining). Eventually, we filled the bed with the heavy wet dirt and got the plants in to their new home. A lot of work, but mission accomplished.

I’m not sure what Karla planted, but I know I can’t wait to see it grow.










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ChansodaGardens and Dirt!

Memorial Day Weekend

by Chansoda on May 26, 2015

Three photoshoots, a graduation in NYC, a graduation party, a birthday party, a visit to Lasdon Park and Arboretum (for my super tree loving gf) and the start of our gardening project. Memorial Day weekend was a busy one… and bittersweet. The start of summer, good times and barbecues, the busyness of the weekend, life is so full, all juxtaposed with the anniversary of my father’s passing, marking five years.

I really enjoyed the weekend.

I went in to NYC and saw my longtime friend get her master’s degree and spent the day enjoying in that celebration. We strolled around in her old neighborhood in the upper west side, which is also where Karla worked for a time period in the city. It was nice to reminisce with her and that area of NYC.

I saw a former student of mine, all graduated from college get engaged at her graduation party, I couldn’t be happier for this young woman, nor more proud.

At the birthday party, I was hired by a friend to capture the memories. I was honored to be able to document that for her. The party had a lot of people I grew up with, all of us from similar backgrounds of being first generations here. It was a beautiful day and lots of fun.

I had a photoshoot with a one year old and her parents, how incredibly adorable and happy they are to be starting their family.

I had another photoshoot with one of my long time best friend and her graduating high school senior son… all adult-like and grown-up he is, brought tears to my eyes.

I spent a morning strolling the beautiful grounds of an arboretum with my wonderful partner and really take in the natural peaceful surrounding of it all. I loved the quiet walk, the sun shining, and the beautiful trees. It was nice that we took some time to be in nature away from people. I just felt very fortunate to be able to share these moments with some one I love and adore so much.

On Memorial day, I started on the build of our garden project. Then we marinated some meats and had a nice barbecue over at Nancy and Skip’s. Sat outside in their yard,  played soccer with Holly, then finished the evening with some more cocktails and a movie.

Over the weekend, we would also stop in for visits at my moms, which is the hardest part. Missing my dad is a norm that I learn to live with, there will always be that emptiness, but, you eventually learn to make peace with it because that is a part of life. However, the loneliness and heartache I see it cause my mom, I completely empathize… that’s the part that hurts the most. I see life move on for everyone, for myself… but for her, it’s still a lost as everything moves on around her.


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ChansodaMemorial Day Weekend

UKF Fundraising Gala for Alex Gonzalez

by Chansoda on May 16, 2015

United Khmer Foundation hosted Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, co-founder of the Cambodian NGO Mother Nature, which campaigns against the construction of the Stung Cheay Areng Dam in Koh Kong province in Cambodia. Alex was making his tour in the U.S. to raise funding to support the fight in the Areng Valley, spread word of the destruction going on, and to help him remove his deportation status from his adopted country, Cambodia.

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ChansodaUKF Fundraising Gala for Alex Gonzalez


by Chansoda on May 10, 2015

Back in September I had a post about visiting an uncle in Lowell, he has since lost his battle with cancer. This weekend we were up there to pay our respect to him and his family.

In khmer tradition, the son or grandson of the deceased person would be required to shave their head and become a monk during the period of the funeral taking place. His younger son took on that role of becoming a monk in honor of his father and his daughter-in-law read read a nice eulogy for him. We made our offerings to send good karma in to his next life and sat in prayer with the monks, it was a very nice, peaceful ceremony.

I was also impressed with how well the funeral home coordinated with the khmer community in organizing that the proper services take place with respect to our traditions. From transportation from temple to the crematorium, it was all very well organized, the local businesses work really well in understanding the large khmer community in Lowell.

May he rest in peace, and his soul continue on to the next life.
















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Khmer Post Gala 2015

by Chansoda on May 9, 2015

This year I was hired to photograph the Khmer Post Gala in Lowell. It was a fun time and inspiring to see so many khmers doing great community work. I love the cultural performances and the live band that plays. It was a lovely event put together by the Khmer Post of Lowell.





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ChansodaKhmer Post Gala 2015

Spring Weekends

by Chansoda on May 4, 2015

May is here. A lot happens when the weather gets nicer! People are out and about enjoying the sunshine. More major spring cleaning going on. Holly, stares you down and acts despondent because she wants non stop play in the sunshine and you just have too much to do.

I love this nice weather and it definitely keeps the weekend full. Friday we headed in to NYC for a friend’s wedding. Congrats Stephanie and Tom! Then Saturday morning, bright and early Karla volunteered for Home Front where as I decided to sleep in a bit and hang out with Holly. There were plenty of projects at our place. Our screened in porch is looking really shabby so she put me in charge of that while she took care of the landscaping. That was a lot of work but we made progress.

We also had Peyton’s birthday party to go to this weekend, the little guy is turning 6 so I was around to capture a few shots. Last year, his birthday photo made it in to the Smithsonian APA gallery. It was a fun time with friends, food, and many adorable little kids.

Sunday morning we got up to join our friend Jeannine for a 4 mile run, and by run I mean I jog/walk with all intention of running. Ha! Waaay behind Karla and Jeannine. Definitely need to practice running and get back in to shape, we signed up for a half marathon in the fall!



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ChansodaSpring Weekends