Is my birthday.  It's been such an up and down day.  Last night, I got my birthday present.  A new camera. I have upgraded from a Canon Xsi to a Canon 50D.  I am totally in love!  Which has been the up parts of today.  Getting a small chance to play with my new toy.  I can't wait for this weekend, so I can really get out there and shoot and play.

Another up for today was the surprise of an Edible Arrangement by my amazing husband.  I have been biting at the bit to get one of these!  Course I think my daughter has eaten most of it.  It was filled with strawberries and pineapple slices with half dipped in chocolate.  So, of course I had to use it as my subject today.

Here are some detailed shots.  Taken with my new Canon 50D 28-135mm lens.

The down today was mainly the tantrums my daughter had, the pain of my feet from a little procedure I had done on Monday, and my daughter pelting me in the eye with a clump of harden playdough.  Fun huh? LOL

You will be missed Poppy

Yesterday afternoon, 3 days after his 81st birthday, my grandfather passed away.  He was an amazing person and a superb grandfather.  I loved him terribly so and will miss him beyond words can express.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to fly home to NJ for the services.  I currently have tickets to head there for mid-April, but to change or buy new tickets it would cost 2000-3000 dollars (for 2 tickets) and that was with the bereavement prices.  And that is just not going to happen.

I know he would understand and that gives me comfort.  The world is a little less beautiful without him. I didn't get to say goodbye, but I will just do it in my own way privately (and I guess a little with this blog post).

Wordless Photo #3

Mexican Night

I have made this recipe a few times, but its been a long time.  It's one of my favorites.  Takes some work, but its very worth it.

Burrito Pie

The recipe is for a large amount.  So, either save this for a party or guests or cook in 2 smaller glass pans and swap one to a foil container and freeze for another night.  And I have altered this from the original.  I'm not a fan of anything spicy, and I don't like black olives or any type of peppers.  I have included the original info to show what I have altered and how much.  If you want to make a really large amount use the original quantities, but my reductions are still plenty to feed 4 or even possibly 8.

1 lb. ground turkey -- original is 2 lbs ground beef - turkey is the healthier version (and tastes better I think)
1/4 onion - chopped --- original is 1 full onion (but I'm not a big onion fan)
1 clove garlic - minced --- original is 2 teaspoons (not enough for me!)
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes - I choose an Italian style - original is with green chili peppers
1 (16 oz.) bottle taco sauce -- I pick mild (but you can alter to your preference)
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans - I pick fat free for a healthier version -- original asks for 2 cans
6 flour torillas -- original is for 12
shredded Mexican mix cheese or Colby
green Enchilada sauce

Recipe also calls for 1 (2 oz.) can black olives, sliced and 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chili peppers

Preheat oven to 350 (175 C)

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute meat for 5 minutes.  I also add meat tenderizer, garlic powder, onion powder, Worchestire sauce, and Famous Dave's Rib Rub to the meat.  Add onion and garlic and saute for 5 more minutes.  Drain excess fat.  Mix in the taco sauce, refried beans, diced tomatoes (olives and peppers if using).  Stir thoroughly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of meat mixture to glass casserole dish (4 quart is best).  Cover with a layer of tortillas followed by a layer of meat mixture.  Cover with shredded cheese and dribble Enchilada sauce on top.  Follow pattern till torillas' are used.  Top should be a layer of meat mixture topped with cheese and Enchilada sauce.

Bake for 20-30 minutes  Enjoy!

Wordless Photo #2

A Day of Crock Pots

On Friday, I had both (yes, thats right TWO) crock pots going.  I had the meat/dinner in one, and a dessert in the other.  I went with my own recipe for the meat (though it was inspired by a recipe from a book), and a recipe for the dessert from my cookbook.

The meat was pork chops.  I added golden delicious apples and 1 pear, along with apple juice and a slew of spices.  I put a layer of spices down first, added the pork chops, added more of the spices, then the apple juice and topped with the apples and pear.  The below photo is all the spices that I used.


I topped the apples and pear with additional ginger and a bunch of brown sugar.

For the dessert, I made something called Cherry Delight.  It was so simple!  Just place a can of cherry pie filling in the crock pot.  Melt a stick of butter and mix with a box of yellow cake mix.  Layer evenly on top of cherry pie filling.  Add crushed walnuts and cook low for 3-4 hours.

It may not look like much or good.  But it sure was.  The pork just fell apart and was super tender.  The dessert was the perfect combination.  And coming from a girl that does not like pies at all or fruit in her cakes, that says a lot.

So Many Versions

I have these 2 photos that I took during my shoot yesterday that I have a few ways I can edit.  I'm just not sure which one I like the best.

Here is photo #1 in its original out of camera rawness

Edit #1 

Edit #2

And here is Photo #2 in its original form

Edit #1

Edit #2

Wordless Photo #1

The Joys of New Equipment

I have been in such a photography slump, its really sad.  Last month I ordered reflectors to add to my portrait photography equipment.  I have never used them, and was super excited to give them a try.  I got a simple round 5 in 1 kit.  Sadly, I have not had a chance to try them out due to moving until today.

I braved the wind and chilly air to see the wonders of reflectors.  And boy, am I in love!  Down fall is that the type and size I have is fairly hard to use by myself in fairly strong winds with a never sitting still toddler as a subject.

The photo above is my very first attempt.  The only editing I did was cleaning up some dirt from her face - yeah, I know! I'm a bad mom, I didn't wipe her face from the meal she had just had.  And I increased the contrast just a little bit.  Even though her face is not fully visible, I still think its a great photo.

I was just amazed when I took the above photo, along with all the others I was able to take during this short shooting period.  I took her across the street from our house, sat on the concrete, and asked her to sit right in front of the tree - and she actually did!  Even stayed there long enough for me to get a few frames.  For a 2 year old that is a miracle!  Her treat was ice cream before dinner, shhh don't tell her dad!

These were taken in the late afternoon and the sun was directly behind her and right in my eyes.  I used the reflector to bounce that light back into her face to avoid having her face in total shadow.  And it worked beautifully!

A little more progress....

Well, we have been in this house long enough now that we should be all settled and everything in its place.  Sadly, that is just not our reality.  I have been a total slacker..... again.

However, over the weekend we picked up a few needed items to get more settled and worked to get that accomplished.  Piece by piece we will get there.  I am no longer in a rush and am enjoying the slow progress.  It makes it so much more fun for some reason.

One area we conquered was my craft storage closet.  Since we lost a bedroom when we moved into this place from where we were, I had to get create with my office/craft area.  Luckily we had a large enough area for my desk.  And a big walk in closet under the stairs for all my stuff to be stored.

This would be the before.  I had most of my stuff still in boxes in the dining room with no where to put them.

Then we turned it into this:

It's not perfect but it will get the job done and I can actually access everything fairly easy enough.

And there is still room to store our new Band Hero equipment :)

And here is an update photo of my desk.  Still a work in progress and not too much has changed since my first posting.  I added my file cabinet and printer.  The printer I do plan on moving to on top of the file cabinet if it will fit.  And some more decor items are needed.

First Peak into Our New Home

Being military, we move a lot!  Since November 2005, we have moved 5 times.  We should be in this new place for at least 18 months, if not the next 4 years.  Of course, this is the military and that all could change at any point.

Since I am thinking we will actually be here for longer then a year, I am finally trying to set up a home the correct way.  I must enjoy this place, my husband will deploy in September for 14 months and in order to keep happy and sane, I must love my home.  Here are some pictures of the first stage of some areas.  Majority of the house is still in ruins and boxes.  Hey, I haven't even been in this place a week yet!

My new office/craft space.  I finally got a beautiful big desk and a working table.  I am totally in love. And have a lot more work to do on the area, but here is a start.

Its in the back area of our living room, hence that couch.  Its a perfect little corner for me, though.  

I glued decorative paper from K&C Company onto the back board of those two areas. I plan to cork the large back board area and possibly cover that with fabric.

The next area is our 2nd bathroom upstairs.  This is our daughter/guest bathroom.  I went with a bubbles/water theme in white and red.  I based it off this photo that I won in a giveaway on LilacPop's Blog.  It is a photo by Andrea Despot.  Her work is amazing.  You can find her work for sale here: Etsy shop.

I still need to get a few more photos of this room.  I am also waiting for another photo to arrive that I ordered from another amazing photographer on Etsy.  I am really loving how the red just makes the room pop.