Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bye bye blogspot

Blogspot has been my home for more than a year now, but it is time to grow up and pay for my own spot. Please, please, please, bookmark my new blog!!!

Dani Leigh's New Blog

Sunday, January 10, 2010


So, Sayulita. What an awesome place.


It is about 25 miles north, I believe, of Puerto Vallarta. It is described by most people as a hippie, surfer village. And it definitely is.


It is definitely a place where you go to chill. I sat on the beach and drank cerveza and sangria and pina coladas larger than my head. Literally.




But regardless of all that, it is a seriously awesome place to take photos. Downtown has all these eclectic shops and people peddling jewelry and blankets and other odds and ends. And the colors! Everything is painted. No one wears or paints things beige and black, everything is vibrant and stimulating.




I love ironic things like huge phallic symbols amongst beautiful flowers.


The plaza is the center of the town. There are usually street performers and tons of people milling about.


Food in Sayulita was amazing. Anything I ate, was better than anything I had eaten before. My favorite place, where I easily could have eaten every day, was Rollie's. Rollie himself greeted us and got us all settled at a table. He was a long time educator and principal in Salinas, California. He apparently had a dream of opening up a restaurant and then fell in love with Sayulita. And after his retirement, his dream came true! His wife, Jeanne made the best recommendations for breakfast. I had what was called Jeanne's Benedict, which was poached eggs on a toasted talera bun, with a special pablano chili sauce, topped with machaca which is the most amazing beef in the world served with potatoes, tomatoes, avocados and of course, refried beans. I could have gotten a side of toast but opted for the most amazing flat pancake ever, smothered in honey. Amazing.


And that morning, I couldn't decide what I wanted to drink. So I got a bunch. Hey, I was on vacation.


Choco Banana was always packed. We were able to get a bar spot one morning, there breakfast is delicious and so our their Frosti Choco's.


On the one rainy day, we went to the Tequila Bar which is right by Sayulita Fish Taco. This place was awesome. It only had a 5 or 6 bar stools and 100s of different types of tequilas. In Mexico, tequila is almost treated like wine here. They don't shoot it, they sip it, and there are specific instructions on sipping, and things you should do when you are trying a tequila, just like we do for wine. This was the huge wall of tequilas.


And this is my awesome margarita made with a really smooth tequila.


We stayed a bit up from the plaza on a quiet, very steep dirt road. I should mention that no one really has an address in Sayulita. The directions to the casita were to take the third right after the big rock.

Well, this is the big rock.


And this is Casita Tarzan.


The views from the casita were beautiful.



And this was my view when the sun was setting, right there on the side of the casita.



Sayulita was definitely a remarkable place. I really love going places and feeling like I am somewhere totally different from home. The first place I ever really felt like that was the French Quarter of New Orleans. I am glad I felt that way here.

So many more photos to show you! And a whole wedding to blog about!

Hola! Feliz Ano Nuevo!

I have just returned to 23 degree weather from paradise! I have spent the most amazing week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where I photographed Jen and Marc's Dia de los Muertos themed wedding.

What an awesome experience! I took so many photos, rang in the New Year, learned how to make guacamole, spoke some Spanish, smiled, ate some amazing foods, drank too many cervezas, asked for more cerveza and too much tequila, and laughed a lot.

I have so many photos to share so bear with me, I have to do it in sections. Today is just to make you jealous. These were three immediate favs when I loaded them.

This was taken right on the beach below where the wedding was.


Sunset at the home of the wedding.


This is the view from the groom's parent's house. Beautiful framing on my part. Ha.


Lots more to come!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ollie Post 8 inches of Snow

Dear Ollie,

A few weeks ago you experienced your first snow. A dinky, pathetic snow compared to what you experienced just now. You still looked stunned as I opened the front door and the snow was blowing in and it was freezing. But you looked at me and then the snow and hopped right in. Literally.

I am not sure if you peed or pooped at all because it would have been beneath the surface of the snow, but that doesn't matter. You looked like you were having fun. Especially when you were chasing Sunny but had to leap 8ish inches vertically in order to make a forward motion at all.

Now you are in my house getting everything wet. But I still love you. You are my little snowman.


My little snowman and his space heater.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quiet and Contemplative

He is thinking about attacking the birds outside now, wish he could have done so without waking me up earlier. But his royal highness needed his Purina fed to him immediately. This is more like his food coma.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

She said I could!

So I am! World, my best friend is... wait for it, wait for it...


Knocked up!!


It makes me so happy that she has a tini P growing in there.


Opie is already a good dad!



We got some without tini P too.


This is Opie in his business suit. :-) And his canine Prime.


They are so cute.


Congrats, RAF! Oh our inside jokes... displayed for the blogging world to see. Love ya!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Christmas Card of the Season!

And of course, it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

But then again, any card that comes addressed to me and all 4 of my animals with their names all spelled out on the front is just awesome.

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My animals were super excited! They never get mail!

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You can't tell here but Ollie is dying because I said leave it. There were whimpering noises going "But! But! But!"

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Sunny knew exactly to start at the end. After of course smelling out Ellie, the sender's pup.

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Ollie wanted to tear right into it! See how much he loves mail! So much you can't leave it anywhere he can reach it!

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Ohhhhhhhhh! Look how authentic!


Barley is a bit more sophisticated and reads things with great intention. He's so dignified.

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Inside was just as awesome as the outside. I love Dr. Seuss quotes, especially from The Grinch!

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Thanks so much, Jen and Marc!

And amazing work again, Rachel!

Feel free to send me your Christmas cards this year! Especially if you used a photo I took! I would love to feature them on my blog! Address is obviously on the envelope above.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Brother, My Hero

I have been meaning to put words to these photos for awhile now. Today is the day.

I used to hate having siblings. I used to ask my Mom why did she have more? While, I know I was by no means a perfect child, far from it in fact, I guess I didn’t feel it necessary to have more. I was good enough, ya know? But now, I cannot imagine my life without them. All 3 of them.

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I used to be really close with Brett. I’m not sure he would agree, but I felt like I had a pretty good bond with him for awhile. I remember when he went to college, things changed a bit since he kind of had his own thing going on and Daren was the brother who was home and I lived nearby. I hadn’t really been close with Daren like I was Brett. Daren was always in to playing war and watching the history channel and running around in the woods. Things I was just not into at all. See below.


But with Brett gone and Daren home, and me wanting to cling close to my family, I foraged a good relationship with him too, which to be honest, I was not ever sure was possible. I learned to appreciate our differences. While I cannot talk with him about politics, he does have some quality points …I guess. While I don't watch the history channel, he did watch some ok things. He liked to talk and was a good listener which meant a lot to me. I enjoyed our time together.

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And then it came time for him to go to college. School had never been this kid’s thing. I was nervous for him because I knew my parents would at least make him try it. And he did. He lasted a whole semester at WVU doing ROTC but after a lot of thought he was finally able to admit that it wasn’t for him and that he wanted to be happy and do something that he felt like he could be good at.


So, what did it decide to do? Join the Army. Believe it or not it took him 8 months to get in the Army. One would think with all that we have going on abroad right now, having a stupid pin in your foot would not prevent one from getting into the Army. But while his medical records sat one some guys desk, Daren no so patiently waited, and I was secretly grateful because it meant more time I got to spend with him. And he could help with my pups when I was busy with work. :-) But soon enough, he got his date to go to boot camp.

We finally got to have a party for Daren. He didn’t really get a graduation party from high school like Brett and I did, not sure why, we are a busy family, I am sure that has something to do with it. But August 1st, Daren had a wonderful send off equipped with the coolest cake ever (mainly because that was my assignment).



A few months later Daren graduated from infantry school and has really become a soldier in every sense of the word. I hopped on a plane with the rest of my family and went down to the most deserted place in Georgia: Ft. Benning.

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I can see why Daren hated it so much there. It was cold, rainy, and ghetto as all hell. The post wasn’t so bad – just typical. I was surprised at how many questions I had for him. I wanted to know everything he had been through and would constantly point to people and ask what they were doing, as if he knows. But much to my surprise, he did sometimes.

Daren did get to take some photos and even a video of his barracks.

Ft. Benning from Danielle Giannandrea on Vimeo.



This made me worrisome. It is on the wall right by Daren's bunk.




I'm not sure I could have dealt with this... Not to mention the fact that there were urinals in the woman's bathroom.


This is Melly - post very early morning flight. We were pretty tired.

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This is me! A good one by Momma.

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Day one there we literally got right off the plane, got into our really small for 8 people GMC, grabbed a bite to eat, and made the 2 hour trek to Ft. Benning for Daren’s Turning Blue ceremony. The turning blue ceremony is where Daren gets his blue Infantry cord which goes on his Class A uniform. It was quite impressive.

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This is little Rod. (Daren being big Rod, of course, because our last name is Rodman). Little Rod's family could not make the trip down for graduation from Washington state. But our family was proud of him too. He is with Daren in Germany currently and will also be deployed with him in a few months.


One thing I love about Daren is his inability to keep a straight face during anything. I love that he is constantly holding back a smile.

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Even with his drill sergeant.

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Daren had a lot of pride when we picked him up and you could see it in his being. It was quite impressive.

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Sheldon had pride too, of course. It just didn't come off quite the same.


The next day we all went to Daren’s graduation ceremony which was on post on a huge cement field. They did demonstrations I probably could have done without and presented awards and had speeches. Basically, your typical graduation, except Army style.

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Everyone thought these two looked like brothers:


After a quick bite to eat, we were back in the car, making our way to the airport. I have never been more proud to walk through the airport. I will admit that I normally feel pretty entitled walking through the airport because I really like going places and I feel important with a boarding pass in my hand. Don’t ask, I have no idea why. But walking through the airport with literally everyone looking at your little brother is awesome. Even more awesome was when we were about to land and one of the flight attendants stopped and spoke with my brother and another soldier on the plane and got on the loud speaker and made everyone aware that there were 2 soldiers on the plane today – one coming home from Iraq and one leaving soon as well. The whole plane applauded. It was pretty amazing to me, and made me totally teary. But my god, I cry every time they say “Move that bus!” on Extreme Home Makeover.

This past Saturday it snowed. Which seemed too perfect and too fitting since Saturday was Daren’s last day in the America for a long time. My mom made a home cooked meal and we all sat around like we did when we were little, said the blessing, waited for Daren to ask “How was everyone’s day?” before we started to recount what we did, and lingered until someone started cleaning up dishes. I loved it. It was exactly what I would have wanted if it was my last day at home. I hope it was for him too.

Daren is part of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and is stationed in Germany for a few months before being deployed to Afghanistan. He is excited and wants to see a lot of things before his deployment. While he is still the same old Daren, the Army has turned him into a proud, confident, and quality Soldier. I am really happy to be his sister, then and now.

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