Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

This weekend I made Lemon Blueberry Muffins twice. Yes, twice. Once without baking soda and once with. While the first batch tasted okay I was wondering why they didn't fluff up and get brown on top...no baking soda. The second batch was much better and oh so lemony!

I actually used more lemon zest - one whole lemon. Then used half of that lemon's juice. If you don't own a microplaner this is your excuse to get one. I use mine for lemon zest, chocolate topping and Parmesan cheese.

I also used frozen blueberries from last summer and they were just a juicy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

57 Year Old Recipe | Banana Nut Bread

I had some banana's that were over ripe so it was banana bread to the rescue! I tried this 1953 recipe from the Bisquick cookbook and it was so easy. Pre heat oven to 350...

  • 1-1/3 cups of mashed very ripe bananas (this was 2-1/2 for me)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-2/3 cups Original Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (I added this!)
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except Bisquick, nuts and chocolate; stir until blended. Stir in Bisquick, nuts and chocolate. Pour into prepared loaf pan (9x5x3") I used my Demarle loaf minis.

Bake bread for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan and remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Since I made mine in mini loafs I froze most of them. Kirk and I like our banana bread toasted with butter on it - enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010


This is the last picture taken of Dottie and I together. It was October 2007 - she passed away five months later, March 12, 2008.

I remember the week like it was yesterday, we attended some art classes, went shopping, and just hung out. We talked about everything (as usual), laughed out loud, cried and gave each other crazy advice. What I didn't know then was that she was really trying to tell me good bye. I think she knew, deep down inside she knew the cancer had spread. Me, I was still in fighting mode. I knew if anybody could lick this it was Dottie.

[circa 2001 I think this was Dottie's first trip to see me]

Advice she gave me that week:
  • Have F-U-N! If it isn't don't do it
  • Surround yourself with the real people, not the ones that project that their lives are better than they really are.
  • Stop drinking the kool aid - be inspired by someone or something, but stay true to your own path
  • Give yourself permission - don't let someone else give you permission or let you think they can give you permission.
miss you - love you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

GIVEAWAY | Photography 101 DVD

In light of the photography posts last week I am going to do a giveaway this week!

Comment on this post and tell me one photography skill you would like to improve. It could be shooting in manual mode, post production, posing, etc. **Also be sure to include what kind of camera you currently are using!!!

The prize... Mom's with Cameras - Photography 101 with Jules Bianchi DVD. You can check out Miss Bianchi here. She has some great direction and tips in the video.

Comment before Friday, March 12 6pm PST. Winner will be randomly drawn and announced on Saturday, March 13th

Good luck!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

85mm kind of day

[1/125 @ f4.5 ISO 800]

This was taken with my 85mm 1.8 - I have dreams of owning a 1.2L so this 1.8 will have to be my reality for now. It really is a great portrait lens. I had a hard time using it on my Rebel because of the cropping factor. But on a full frame camera it was like having a brand new lens in my bag! Another reason I love the 5d...full frame camera. 

[1/125 @ F4.5 ISO 500]

I went with a lower ISO here and you can see that I am a little on the dark side. Jesse has a challenging face - white on one side and dark on the other. This is why I love practicing with him because it makes me play around with the settings. The 85mm is a great prime lens for blurring out the background and also giving you beautiful bokeh just like the 50mm in the yesterdays post.

The background set up I am using is here and I have found when working with pets cloth is not the best choice. I will be getting some vinyl paper for next time. You can see the background in the above photo - what I needed to do was move Jesse forward, you want your subject at least five feet from the background when doing shots like this. Or I can choose to crop out that side... I lean more towards getting the right shot in the camera because post processing is not my favorite task!

Here is a non-Jesse shot of some morning grass - we have been having some wonderful weather...

[1/400 @ f1.8 ISO 100]

I have received several emails in regard to learning how to use your camera and shoot in manual mode. It's taken me years of practice (I am still learning) and lots of classes that were hit and miss. It wasn't until last summer when I took Karen Russells' class that it really clicked. I highly recommend this class if this is where you are at. She has several options available for taking the VERY popular class so there is a chance that you can get in. I was unable to keep up with the online class but made sure that I checked in every week and printed the materials. Then, I spent ONE weekend plowing through all the lessons and doing all the assignments. Like I said... it just clicked. No pun intended! 

Also check out the free info here. Christina has really taken the time to go through the Basics in several posts.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gorgeous Day!

A perfect reason to get out and play with my camera. I have told myself that I need to shoot almost everyday even when I am not working. So I set up my ghetto studio inside (the dining room) but also went outside to enjoy some sunshine.

I thought I would take the time and answer some questions I have been getting in regards to photography equipment I use. I am now shooting with a Canon 5d Mark II, before, I had a Canon Rebel XTI which they don't even make anymore. I LOVE my Rebel and I still have it for when we travel. One of the reasons I jumped to a 5d was due to the grain issues in low light and the Rebel, 20d & 40d are hard pressed to handle really low light and high ISOs. Since I live in the NW and we have more rainy days than sunny, plus most of my pet photography takes place in client homes I needed a camera that performed well in those conditions. The other feature that I hope to use more of this summer is the HD video!

The photos below were taken with the 50mm - the cheapie $99 one! I love this lens for anything that is still. If you have been wanting an entry level portrait lens to practice with, buy this one. I have given you my settings in brackets - PLEASE do not think that this is the perfect formula. I shoot in manual and do a lot of experimenting. [click on photos to make larger]

[1/125 @ F3.5 ISO 125]

[1/800 @ f1.8 ISO 100 - not perfect that bud is not tack sharp. I could have slowed my shutter speed down and made my aperture smaller.]

[1/1000 @ f3.5 ISO 100]

[1/125 @ f4.5 ISO 500 this photo has some post production presets in LR2]

I edit all of my RAW photos in Adobe Lightroom 2 using the process in Kevin Kubota's book Digital Photography Boot Camp and DVD. [I have noticed that my photos on the blog are lighter than the files on my computer.] I use Photoshop CS4 sparingly - watermarking, cloning out objects and some B&W actions.

Here is a photo of something that moves - Jesse. Actually he is pretty good about posing. Again the 50mm 1/125 @ f3.5 ISO 400 Both eyes are pretty sharp [no post processing on them] I am trying more and more not to shoot so wide open. I don't want to go below 2.5/2.8 for aperture.

Check back tomorrow for the 85mm lens...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sugar cookies make everything better

We have been knee deep in the care of Amos and his back. It has been an emotional roller coaster that I will definitely share once we are totally out of the woods. Right now he is resting and on his was to recovery. The next few weeks are crucial that we keep him still as to not re-injure his back...

So what do I do when I am stressed? Clean and bake. More of the first one than the latter - I had some success though with Pioneer Woman's Angel Sugar cookies. The recipe is in her book - if you don't have this, I recommend adding it to your collection!

The recipe is very simple and I love that you use the bottom of a glass with butter (of course) and sugar to flatten them down...

I actually wanted to eat them raw just like this! Maybe sprinkling a little more sugar on them...

By the time Kirk got home two of those stacks were gone. These are thin, crumbly melt in your mouth sugar cookies.


[image credits: DoxzenPetPhotos]