Wednesday, September 30, 2009

mcp actions bag of tricks : new action set giveaway!

mcp actions is giving away a brand new set of photoshop actions called "bag of tricks" that will be released for sale oct. 5th.

jodi's actions are wonderful & have been on my wish list for a long time. if i ever get to buy some, hers will be one of the first.

go on over to the mcp actions blog & leave her a comment to enter yourself to win this great new set of actions. you can find examples of before/afters of some of the actions in the set there also!

my little guy : nappanee children's photographer

i take pictures. sometimes it seems the camera is attached to my hands...

then i have a spell where there's not a whole lot going on & i don't pick up the camera as much as i should.

and when i upload those puppies, i'm not always so organized. i start out kiiiind of organized, but then i poop out about half way through (the story of my life). so i usually go through new uploads, star the ones that are technically good, then pick out some that i know i definitely want to do something with.

so there's a big file of things to work on. when i have free time, i dig in there and edit those photos. all i need to do for inspiration is get into that file.

this is one i came across the other night on a late night editing's about 2 years old so he looks like a little guy here.

this boy keeps me going with photos these days. i've got lots of new fun shots of him, but today i'm liking this one...

love ya little boy-child
xoxo, mom

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

it's beginning to look a lot like soup weather : hearty potato soup

i don't know about you, but the weather around here is calling for soup.

yummy, hot, smell-up-the-house pots of homemade soup.

last night we had one of the big guy's favorites. creamy potato soup. it's a recipe i've had for a long time, probably derived from some place like taste of home magazine.

so, forgiving the fact that i took this photo at 7:00 pm last night under halogen lights in my kitchen, this is something what is looks like...

hearty potato soup

6 or so medium potatoes, peeled & diced
3 carrots, peeled & diced
3 celery stalks
2 qts. water
1 onion chopped
6 Tbs. butter
6 Tbs. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 c. milk
small handful of cooked, crumbled bacon, optional

in large soup pot, cook potatoes, carrots, celery in water till tender, about 20 mins. drain & keep liquid. set vegetables aside. in the same pot, saute onion in butter till soft. stir in flour, salt & pepper till thickened, add milk & stir till thick. stir in vegetables, bacon & 1 c. of reserved liquid. continue adding reserved liquid till soup reaches desired thickness. heat through. makes 8-10 servings.

*careful on the quantity of bacon if you add it, you could end up with an overly salty batch of soup!

now, serve it with some form of bread & do it up right☺

Monday, September 28, 2009

i faces ♥ week 38 "blue" photo challenge : nappanee children's photographer

this weeks photo challenge at i heart faces is photos with lots of "blue" in them. digging deep into the archives, i think this one qualifies - lots of blue!

it's an oldie but goodie, once again... can't get enough of those baby boy cheeks!

so head on over to i heart faces and check out those "blue" entries.

baby love : nappanee children's photographer

some baby goodness on a monday...

hi pretty sure are talkin to me...look at those eyes, those lashes.....

ooh, and that soft whispy hair...and the perfect little bit of drool on her it!


Friday, September 25, 2009

friday favorite : etna green children's photographer

this is my pick today because:

  • i call them the "lovely ladies" - my two oldest nieces
  • they are lovely, aren't they☺
  • these girls are more than willing subjects...i just love that!
  • the ladies seem to get along really well & had so much fun letting me take their picture together... this day we were all about getting them together
  • not one but 2 beautiful sets of eyes

*this image was shot @ f2.8, 1/400, iso 320 with a 50mm 1.4 lens

Thursday, September 24, 2009

knitting top down hats

have i mentioned that i love knitting?

once i start in, i cannot get enough of it. i thoroughly enjoy pert-near every little aspect of it. i even find enjoyment in ripping back because i learn something new with each experience which always comes in handy for the next project.

i're thinking "ripping back?" sounds crazy, but knitting things up right, that's simple. seeing & fixing mistakes, that's where the rubber meets the road.

so before i get way off track, i have to take a moment & explain my love for the top down hat.

there is just something completely fascinating & effective about this method. i know that experienced knitters talk it up about making almost any garment "top down" or in the case of socks "toe up" because that way, you can try on the garment as you go, easier to get a custom fit as you knit. and top down usually means "one piece" which is also very nice. top down is opposite to the normal method of knitting. normally you would start a hat at the brim, or socks at the leg opening, or sweaters at the bottom hem edge.

and i suppose that this is all a personal opinion as to which method is "better".

i find that making a hat top down is just very gratifying, although it stretches me - as far as my bind off skills go. i have finally gotten a comfortably loose cast on under my belt. now to master the art of a loose bind off.

i'm a tight knitter, so when i first started knitting i used to cast on or bind off with some sort of death grip. too tight around any opening is just bad. and with the top down hat, a tight bind off means 1) it's hard to comfortably get the hat over your head and 2) this uncomfortable pinch around your skull with a nice little indent to show for it on your forehead - not a good thing.

i am getting better at it & find it helpful to go up at least a needle size just for the bind off. kind of feels like cheating, but since many experienced & talented knitters go this route, i say why not?

so if you like knitting hats and you haven't tried the top down method, give it a try. i was first introduced to the method in a book called hip knit hats by cathy carron. this book rocks in many ways, and this is how most of the hats are started in the book. check it out, it will not disappoint. other good sources are blogs like pulsh where charisa gives great instructions & links for another blog called i'm knitting as fast as i can. these are very good sources, certainly one of these will be able to explain clearly so that you'll soon be on your way to trying out this method.

this little hat is #4 of the xmas 25 or so projects. finished it last week & have finished 3 more projects since, so that's a total of 7 projects down for christmas.

i am on fire.☺

so get out there & try the top down hat. let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

dreaming of peach pie

i have been sitting on this one.

first of all, i like peach jam. this year we were down to the last pint just as peaches came into season. peach jam is painfully simple to make & so much less work than say... strawberry. or at least it feels that way to me.

maybe it's because our ginormous strawberry patch can really suck the life out of me, or maybe it's just the simple mathematical fact that peaches are bigger than strawberries & therefore, less work in the longrun. who knows?

anyhow, i picked up enough peaches to make my jam & maybe a pie & some left for the guys to eat fresh. everyone's happy.

so, as i normally do when i don't have a tried & true recipe handy, i turned to for a pie recipe. this site rarely fails me when i'm looking for something new.

i lucked out & found a simple but oh so delectible peach pie recipe.

some of you may be bakers extraordinare.
you may be experts at making the perfect crust or the aesthetic presentation of your pie may put you in a class all your own.

i'm not a "fancy" baker. i am sure that a really neat looking pie would 'look' neat, but what i'm concerned about is how it t a s t e s! i've been baking since childhood & i sort of have a natural knack for it - it's very intuitive to me. but i would classify my baking as more "down-home" baking.

and once i find something that works, i stick with it. if you check out my archives, you'll probably get the idea that we actually eat more baked goods at my house than anything else - and you would not be far off the mark!☺

mostly, i can make a mean apple pie, a super yummy strawberry pie and that's about it. i don't do lots of pies, but i do prefer fruit pies. oh, and i'll make the acception for pecan pie.

oooh, pecan pie sounds goooood.

but now i've found a new favorite that literally, i am certain is like a little bit of heaven in your mouth. really.

*this image was taken the next morning after the pie was baked. i can't seem to bake a pie early enough in the day to actually cut it while there's still good natural light. so before you wonder why it's not all ooey & gooey with filling spilling out of the crust, now you know.

peach pie
8-10 fresh peaches, peel, pit, slice

1/3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter

cut butter into sugar/flour, mix till crumblyish

my "best" 2 crust pie crust recipe
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. shortening
1/4 c. cold water + a little more to get the consistency i like
mix flour & salt, cut in butter & shortening with pastry blender, add cold water, mix with a fork

line pie plate with crust. layer of peaches, sprinkle on some of the sugar filling mixture. continue layering peaches & sugar filling till finished. cover with crust and pinch together. cut a few slits in the top crust.

bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. place a sheet cake pan below the pie to catch any overflow of filling. this happens to me every time, so be warned. check at 45 mins. if you need to. bake till lightly browned crust.

* i learned a new tip for baking a pie like this: in order to avoid an overly runny pie, turn the oven off when it looks finished & leave the pie in there until the oven cools. unless you've overdone it to begin with, it shouldn't burn. leaving it in there will help to set up the filling of the pie. it actually works, so give it a try!

go ahead, you know you wanna try some!

Monday, September 21, 2009

that teenage boy : nappanee teen photographer

i i LOVE having a teenage son.

from day one of bringing this boy home from the hospital, i have never been ready for what comes next.

not for those vaccines you have to get when they're still so tiny and new.
not for kindergarden.
not for the birds & the bees.
and not for having him stand over 5' 7" tall.

but these things happen whether i'm ready or not, and so the teenage years have begun.

in recent past, photographing this one has been more of a chore for both of us, but every now & then, an opportunity arises where we can both be satisfied.

love you boy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

friday favorite & photography tip : nappanee children's photographer

this is my pick today because:

  • it's any oldie but goodie, this photo's about a year old exactly. i like it - my son looking sweet & calm....who knew it was possible?☺
  • i love the black & white, it's smooth & creamy
  • the french door catch lights in his eyes
  • his haircut...such a handsome boy...

*this image was shot @ f2.8, 1/200, iso 200 with a 50mm 1.4 lens.

do you like this type of image? this is how i set it up:

  1. find some nice northern window light, this image was shot indoors
  2. try to keep your background as clutter free as possible or a wall that's free of clutter, or hang a sheet over a piece of furniture behind your subject
  3. position your subject next to that north facing window or door (in this photo, the french door is on his left, he's sitting within a couple feet of the door)
  4. position yourself pretty much directly across from your subject or place yourself even a little closer to the light source so that your subject is looking a bit more full on to the light & have them turned to face you (this will depend on how much "feathering" or shadowing that you want to see on the opposite side of the subject's face)
  5. look to see the catch lights in their eyes, if you see them, that's good!
  6. go for it, start snapping away!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

this girl : nappanee children's photographer

last month, i rented a lens through before i returned it, i wanted to get one last shoot in with this girl.

i have been completely excited about sharing these here - it's hard to contain them all!

the photogenic sweet thing that is my niece. i had the best time with this girl... she just made the job so easy for me, i wish my own 2 (not so little) subjects were always this much fun!

get ready... this is an image overload!

this child is 5 years old...ALMOST 6, as she tells me, but 5... can you believe that? posing is not my strong suit, but i didn't have to give her much direction... america's next top model's got nothin' on this one!

uncle troy thinks that this one (below) needs to be blown up big & hung on the wall...i think he's right...

this girl loves to smile & of course, i love a smile too, but i like contemplative, innocent, "non-smiling" captures too. at some point i said "you don't have to smile all the time, just relax" and she said "you mean like i'm sleeping?" well, not quite THAT relaxed! ☺

that innocent (uh-hem) it

my dear sweet girl, promise that you'll always be so eager to be one of my favorite subjects!

aunt apryl

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

knitting : i love this hobby!

i'm knitting again.
christmas is coming.
yep, sooner than you think.

can you all say "knitting for 25 people for christmas" with me?
uh huh. this is my plan.

when i started knitting back in november 08, i thought, 'oooh, i've got to make everyone in the family something for christmas next year. that would be SO awesome'.

i have big plans.
i do that sometimes.
it usually works out...really!
and i am embracing it.

so it has begun.

isn't this baby sweet?

the pattern is called the hurricane hat. you can find it on ravelry. it was incredibly fast & easy & now i am in love with this hat & even, kind of, the yarn. maybe it's the luscious jewel tones. maybe it's the perfect shape. maybe it's because i started & finished it in one shot - no restart or ripping back - that's my kind of project!

if you're interested, hop on over to ravelry. you need to become a member if you're not, but it's worth the wait! that place is SPEC-tactular!

by the way, the yarn here is patons sws, a wool/soy blend. the colorway is "natural plum". i purchased mine at the local michaels store.

Friday, September 4, 2009

friday favorite : nappanee children's photographer

this is my pick today because:

  • i am in love with this photo! it has this bohemian feel to it, i cannot stop looking at it!
  • not to mention the look of this sweet child here - come on now, i know you want to take him home! (i can hear his mother laughing..."yes, please take him home!") what a cutie this boy is!
  • i have to confess, this was just what i call a "snap", very quick little sneaky shot, not really planned... but wow, i love it
  • and who knew that a great bunch of weeds makes for a nice sparkly background?☺

*this image was shot @ f2.8, 1/200, iso 200 at 48mm with a 24-70mm 2.8 lens

Thursday, September 3, 2009

he's the man...

this fine man, rockin the bears hat on the beach celebrates a birthday today.
i use the word "celebrates" lightly, i suppose, because i'm sure he'll put in the usual 12-14 hours at work & come home to a late dinner just in time to go to bed!

but he IS the man!
he is the man for me & for our family.
he's the #1 provider & spoiler of us all.
and we wouldn't know what to do without him.

and because i know how much he loves it when i post a picture of him here, i'm sure he'll be delighted to see this one!

*this, by the way, is his "take it & get it over with" pose.
seriously, i wonder where my kids get it from?

so happy birthday babe! do your best to enjoy your day!


blueberry zucchini bread delish!

remember how i said i had some yummy recipes to share? well, this is one of them! we used some of the glorious blueberries we picked & some of our always lovely zucchini from the garden. and did i tell ya we let 6 zucchini plants live this year? yeah, i don't know what that was about.

i'm not sure that a picture can do this one justice...this bread is so worth tasting, even for someone like me who really thinks that the ole run-of-the-mill "zucchini bread" is pretty lame.

well, it's these blueberries i tell ya... they are nearly to die for. this year's pick are the best i think i've ever had. the size of quarters people - quarters! and so sweet.

see, i always pick blueberries because my guys love em & i like to bake with them, but i don't necessarily want to eat blueberries. they just give a little boost to my pancakes & muffins. but this recipe's different. those little babies are like the piece de resistance. *and if you're wondering, i spelled that right, cause i looked it up just in case. right on the first try... i'm feeling lucky tonight!

and for fear that this bread wouldn't be quite good enough "as is", i even improvised a crumb topping just in case.

oh man, even though i just ate a candy bar, the thought of this stuff is making me hungry!

ah's the recipe:

blueberry zucchini bread

3 eggs
1 c. oil (or 1/2 c. oil, 1/2 c. applesauce like i did)
3 tsp. vanilla (love that r e a l vanilla!)
1 1/2- 1 3/4 c. sugar
2 c. shredded zucchini (or chop with a pampered chef chopper like mine)
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. cinnamon (yes Tbs.)
1 pint fresh blueberries (but frozen works just fine too)

preheat oven to 350 degrees. lightly grease (spray) 2 regular loaf pans.
in large bowl, beat eggs, oil, vanilla & sugar. fold in zucchini.
beat in dry ingredients. fold in blueberries.
pour into baking pans.

crumb topping: (which is optional, but i wouldn't leave it out if i were you!)
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/4 c. chilled butter (don't let it get too soft)

blend together with pastry blender (you can use a fork, but why?)
sprinkle topping over batter.
bake 50-60 mins. or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.
cool 5 mins. on wire rack, 10 mins. tops or it things will not turn out well!

*my secret tip to getting quick breads to come out of the pan clean without leaving some bread in the bottom of the pan:

after cooling 5-10 mins. on wire rack, holding the pan with oven mitts/hot pads (of course), hold the pan by the end, almost vertical (one end in your hand, your other hand over the bread itself to keep it from falling out of the pan, which it probably wouldn't anyway, but you never know...) and bang the end you're not holding a couple of times hard & quick on the edge of the countertop, island, etc. then gently tip it over & let the bread easily peel itself out of the pan. that's it. try it. it works.

so go ahead...try this bread.

i don't care who you are, you're gonna love it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the wells family : nappanee family photographer

a few weeks back i had the chance to photograph friends from church, a family of all adults - wow! that was something totally new to me! this group was a fun one...they really know how to laugh together!

thank you wells family - you guys were a joy to capture!

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