Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone!  2009 was a fairly eventful year, and a fairly good one for my family and I.  Though I am looking forward to 2010, I am also dreading it.  The military will be making me a single parent the later part of the year by deploying my husband.  Hence, the not looking forward to the upcoming year.

Professionally, I have loads of plans.  I just launched my own website and am now offering portrait photography to my local area - and where ever I may travel to.  This is a huge move for me, and hope it becomes a great one.

Personally,  I am really looking forward to watching the big changes that my daughter is sure to have.  Going from a hyper-active two year old into a three year old by the end of the year.  Playgrounds are something we introduced her to in 2009, and boy has she conquered them.  No fear this one.

I know every kid loves playgrounds, but it tickles me pink that she seems to love them as much as I do.  I just wish I was still flexible and fit enough to really play on them still.  Even in college, my good friend and I would ditch class to hit up the playground.  Kid at heart.  Keeps you young.


One of my favorite things is cheesecake.  And I am a total snob when it comes to it.  My father makes the most amazing cheesecake, and it so could put the Cheesecake Factory right out of business if he sold them. Though its not his own recipe, its one he found in a magazine eons ago.  Somehow when he makes it, the taste, texture, feel, and experience is so unique.  My mom uses the same recipe, and hers comes out good - minus that one Christmas incident where it didn't set all the way and oozed all over the place when I tried to cut it - but there is still this difference between theirs.  Its the same thing between my mom and her sister, Connie.  They can use the same recipe for brownies and everything be the same, the two will be so completely different.  There is nothing like my Aunt Connie's brownies and my dad's cheesecake.  And don't think my dad is not fallible when it comes to his, he did almost set the stove on fire once.

Now, I may get teased that I don't know how to cook or know where the stove is - but that's just because I hate cooking typical normal dinners and such.  When I am gonna cook/bake, it has to be worth it.  I finally decided to give my dad's intimidating cheesecake a try. And for my first attempt ever, I think I did fairly well.

The First Step is making the crust.  The ingredients for that are:
   2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
   1/3 cup sugar
   1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
   1/2 cup of butter or margarine, melted

Combine all but the butter in a small bowl; then stir in butter.  Press onto the bottom and 2" up the sides of a greased 9" springform pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees.

Filling Ingredients are:
  3 packages (8oz each) Cream Cheese, softened
  1 1/2 cups sugar
  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4 eggs, separated

In mixing bowl, combine and beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form; fold into cream cheese mixture.  Pour over crust.

Bake for 1 hour or until center is almost set.  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, cool 1 hour longer.  It will shrink down in size and will split/crack in the middle.

Refrigerate until completely cooled.

Topping Ingredients are:
   1/2 cup Sour Cream
   2 tablespoons sugar
   1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
   1/2 cup of whipping cream, whipped

**Step that I forgot and was not mentioned again in the directions, whip the whipping cream**

In mixing bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla; fold in whipped cream.  Spread over cheesecake. Refrigerate over night. Remove sides of pan and serve.

So, the mistakes I made:
   I packed the crust too hard in the bottom of the pan.  When I went to cut it this morning, it was extremely difficult to cut through -- though still edible!!  It just doesn't come out as a nice clean piece thats all -- as you can see in the below picture.
   I forgot to whip the whipping cream, and just poured it into the mixture.  Therefore my topping is not correct.  Though, if I didn't realize this or mentioned it, no one would notice -- besides my dad probably.

One Photo Many Looks

original photo
I'm just about to finish my Digital Image Management class.  This class was stressful at first and highly enjoyable by the end.  I am not a big fan of Photoshop at all.  I'm very much a simplistic person, and like my computer programs to run the same way.  So, when Lightroom 2 was sent in my software package I got at enrollment for my program, I was totally in love.  It is the best software program for photo editing I have ever attempted to use.

antique preset - downloaded from internet

This class was all about using this software.  I had the basics down.  Even downloaded additional presets off the internet to give me further editing options.  Now, at the conclusion of this course - I can make my own presets and can further expand my editing abilities.

cold process - preset I created for class

I can't seem to stop playing around with all these new adjustments that I was so afraid to try before.  This collection of photos is a showcase of that love.  I took 1 photo -- something I took recently during the drive back from getting dog food and walking around the mall.  It was raining and dark, my two favorite combinations when I am taking photos from the car.

glow preset - downloaded from internet

red blue pop - preset I created for class

Tribute to the Sky

I always wonder if people take the time to admire the beauty of the sky.  Sometimes it is so amazing, I just have to stop and admire it --- or even more so take some photos of it.  So, this is my tribute to the breathtaking sky and its pure amazing beauty.

Though some of my sky photos are edited to look more powerful, the same appreciation is still there.

Taking shots of the moon is one of my newest favorite things.  It is such a challenge to do, between the dark night, the distance, the fact I only have a monopod and not a tripod at this time, and getting the camera settings just right before it all changes on me.  I think I am getting the hang of it some what.

My Wish List

I thought I would change things up for this post.  My wish list at Christmas is always miles long and never ending.  So, for today - I am going to share a little of my Etsy Wish List with you all.  Maybe you will find something just perfect for someone on your list as well.

I truly admire the shear talent and artistic abilities of this shop owner.  A fellow Photographers of Etsy team member:  TheEye  --  I love this one in particular and it is so on my wish list for our next home
Titled:  Perfect Little World - Macro Photography

If I loose the weight that I am trying to shed, I want to treat myself to this amazing coat from:

Being the huge Twilight fan, I must have something related to it on my list.  I have several in fact.  But this is one.  I'm definitely on Team Edward.  And this amazing shop made the most fitting item ever, along with having other non-Twilight pottery available:

I have ordered from this shop owner in her old shop.  She is an amazing book binder that has ventured out into new products while collaborating with her sister.  And I just love their new shop.  I have got to get me a set of these magnetic clips!

Well, there is the first bit of my wish list.  Like I stated above there are so many many more on that list!  I hope to share some more with you very soon!


I came back to the East Coast for a little mini-break from California so my daughter could see her grandparents.  I got the opportunity to take some candid portraits of my nephew and niece this past weekend.  They were troopers for it all, and I got just over 200 pictures!  I tend to go click happy sometimes, but it was so worth it.  I have so many great shots of them.

I love the above photo.  I wanted to capture him looking up at the camera while sitting from above him.  And this was the pose he gave me, and it was just such a fun shot to capture.  I enjoyed getting this one the most.

In this next above photo, he thought he needed to be super close to the lens in order for me to take a photo.  He kept telling me to wait for him to get closer before I took his picture.  Course I was clicking away as he inched closer little by little.

In the above photo, it is my daughter and niece.  Due to the lens and settings I was using, my niece is not entirely in focus, but I still love how this photo came out.  She almost has this angelic glow that is so fitting for her.  But below is a better photo of the two of them.  My brother had made some cole slaw from a different recipe and these girls just loved it.  My poor niece was waiting so patiently for my daughter to share some, just sitting there with her mouth open.  So I snapped away while someone was running inside for a cup just for my niece.  They went through 3 cups in just a few minutes and that was my daughters second round of 3 cups.  Too funny.

And some more of my niece looking just adorable and doll like.

Sea World Part 4

I really did take a lot of penguin photos during our visit to Sea World.  I was going to do my final project for my photography class on various animals from the zoo and Sea World, but I have changed my project to something else now.  The new topic fits better with my new schedule.  But I am sure to be visiting these places soon for more photos!

Really, can I have any more penguin photos? I just love them!  I really am hoping to do some of their special behind the scene encounters, make some special dates with the husband since our daughter is too young for most or all of them.

I don't think I have shared these polar bear ones. Another magical creature.

Okay, so I think this is a sea lion, could be a seal.  This little one was being so loud and pushy with requesting fish from all the onlookers.  He/she was perched up on a rock and super close to the level of the glass blocker.  Just hooting and a hollering for all the attention and food.  I didn't notice the goo on its nose till I was editing.  Its too funny not to share.

Odd Interpretations

I was going through my photo editing software wanting to clear out all my photos to start fresh again.  I was removing those I didn't want to attempt editing on and editing the rest before I removed them.  It was fun to just play around and try a little bit of everything or anything to see what it would come out like for each photo.

The above gorilla photo is my interpretation of Pop Art, inspired by Andy Warhol.  It may not be for everyone, but there is something about how I edited this that I just love.  I'm typically not a big Pop Art fan, I tend to lean toward more subdue colors, but this just stands out to me.  What do you think, a good edit or not so much?

The above photo is fairly freaky looking, perfect for the upcoming Halloween holiday.  This photo is actually of some wild mushrooms that I took back in Washington DC with my then brand new macro lens.  I had not really looked through those photos until I started clearing out the software. Its an odd edit effect, but I like it.  What do you think?

The orchid and purple flower are not really odd, but I think the editing is more on the bold side.

This above shot is of the Potomac River in Washington DC.  I added this special effect to make it pop and stand out.

These roses are actually white but with an addition of special editing, I was able to change the color.

A Glimpse of Cody & Tyler

Last night after watering the rose bushes out front, I decided to grab my camera and take some pictures.  I figured it was a great opportunity to try out my new lens and flash at night.  It was pitch black out with just the outside house lights on.  After getting a few frames done, I gave up and came inside to where my husband was packing for his training.  He leaves in the morning for the rest of the month.

Well, our dogs know what packing means.  And they were not happy at all last night.  I decided to lay on the floor and snap away at their very sad faces.  My new lens is a 50mm, which blurs the background - or what parts are not in focus - hence the heavy blurring of most of their faces.  But I like the look it created.

All the above photos, and the one below are of Cody.  Our big boy and our lover boy.  Everything in the world scares him, he loves to cuddle, and is super emotional.  Right now, he is somewhat sick.  Something has been bothering his skin since we moved into this new house, and he has given himself horrid hot spots - licking till there is no fur and an infected wound.  He has been having to wear a cone most of the time for weeks now and is on his second round of medications.  Hopefully we can get this resolved after these new ones heal up good.

Now Tyler.  The baby.  Well, he acts that way anyhow.  He is the smaller one that thinks he is huge.  If I tell him to protect mommy he goes on the hunt for bugs.  Its so cute! He barks at almost everything. And shoves his way into getting attention.  Attention hog is putting it nicely.

Tyler is our bottomless pit.  We have to watch how many special treats he gets since he will eat until he throws it back up.  Which also limits what he is allowed to have. He is my silly boy.

And one last one of Cody: