March 20, 2014

puppy love


Need a little adorableness to brighten up your Thursday?


Meet Izzy.

Or Isobel, as she's known in more formal circles.


She is sweet and fun, and highly entertaining.

Izzy has given me a new respect for pet photographers, as puppies would much rather play with your camera than pose for it.

We've already spent one day working in the garden and she's on a hike with my hubby today, so she's wasting no time getting used to her new life as a country dog.


In other news, while we had snow on the ground this morning, the tulips are pushing through the cold ground and the trees are showing the first signs of life. Gardening season is right around the corner and I can't wait.

Happy First Day of Spring, everyone!

January 28, 2014

bran muffins


Happy New Year!

Twenty-eight days late.

Happy New Year plus 28!


I have a fairly healthy (no cream cheese - don't be shocked) recipe to share today, but I'm guessing there's a good chance I've missed the healthy eating window that is early January, and everyone has already fallen off the healthy eating wagon.

But just in case, I'm going to share anyway.

My bff made these for me while I was visiting in November, and I've had one for breakfast almost every morning since.

They are moist and delicious, and packed with lots of goodies that help you start your day off right.


Here's a link to the original recipe, and I'll note the few changes we made below.

Bran Muffins

1/2 cup raisins
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups bran cereal (Kellogg's All-Bran)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter (I know - not healthy, but the time I forgot the butter in the microwave, the muffins were really dry.)
1 apple, cored and shredded (I use Fuji, and they've been huge lately. I measured last time I made them and it came to 1 1/2 cups of shredded apple)
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup honey
We also add...
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper cupcake liners.
Cover raisins with water in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 1 minute to plump. Drain the raisins, and set aside.
Beat the egg with milk in a bowl, and mix in the bran cereal. Let the mixture stand until the cereal absorbs the liquid, about 5 minutes.
Gently mix in the plumped raisins, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, melted butter, shredded apple, mashed banana, coconut, pecans and honey, and stir a few times to mix.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, (I use a large ice cream scoop and its the perfect size to fill each muffin cup) and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Mine usually take 22-23 minutes.

I doubled the recipe last time I made them and they turned out perfectly. I wrap them well and freeze them and pull one out every night for the next morning's breakfast.


In other news, it's been especially quiet on the farm lately, which is exactly how I like it. I've been doing exciting things like watching my hair grow, and  tweezing the large number of eyebrows that apparently forgot where they're supposed to live. Seriously. Eyebrows inches away from their eyebrow home.

But I'm not complaining.

....or am I?

Dear Eyebrows,
I love you. And I missed you terribly while you were gone. I'm so very happy that you are back, but I do feel that it might be time to set some boundaries. You've had your fun, but from here on out, please confine your activities to your former stomping ground.
Very truly yours,
Teresa

Other than that, I'm obsessing over Downton Abby, like much of the rest of the world, trying to get a few projects done before Spring arrives, and feeling bad for those of you stuck in the Winter Storm of 2014.


Stay warm and have a fabulous Tuesday!



December 11, 2013

winter wonderland


How are your Christmas preparations coming along?


Shopping done?

Cookies baked?

My to-do list is getting pretty short, which is nice because it leaves me with plenty of time to complain about the weather.

Regardless of what you've heard, sub-zero temperatures aren't as glamorous as they sound.


Winter does have an occasional up-side though, and a snowy, wintery scene was the perfect backdrop for the fun Christmas session I had last year with one of my darling 2013 seniors.


This is one of my favorite sessions to date, and I love that my girls are always willing to go the extra mile and brave a little frostbite to make my visions come to life.

Montana girls? You are awesome.


This particular beautiful Montana girl makes my job especially easy. I just point my camera in her general direction and the magic seems to happen all on its own.


And don't even get me started on those eyes. Beyond gorgeous.


I'm already starting to daydream a bit about my upcoming senior season. It will be a bit of a re-building year, as I lost my word of mouth momentum by taking this last year off.


But ultimately, I think that is a good thing. That time off let me re-evaluate what I truly want my business to be and how I want it to fit into my life. I tend to let my business run my life, but that is no longer how it's going to happen around here. I struggle to say no. I'm a pleaser. Cancer is pretty sucky in most ways, but it's awesome for changing your perspective and your priorities.


All I know is that I love to create beautiful art through my photos. That's what gives me joy.

So here's my 2014 business plan.

Keep the Joy - Get rid of the stress.

That's it.

Think my accountant will approve?


Here's wishing you a less stress, more joy Wednesday everyone!

October 31, 2013

an ode to all things viney


Cinderella pumpkins?


Cutest things ever.

Unless you want to talk to me about these guys.


The wartier the better.

Warts and stripes?


Come to mama.

The love doesn't stop with pumpkins.

I'm officially a gourd-a-holic.


I've collected one of every single kind I can find and plan to save the seeds.

Plan is the key word here. I better get on it because a few of these fellas are already starting to mold.


I faithfully haul them inside every night it's going to freeze, as frozen gourds are not happy gourds.


I also love to throw a turban squash or four into the mix.

My neighbor gave me these darling minis.


We've had a couple wild windstorms so our fall color is almost all gone, but until this week, this is pretty much what greeted us every morning.


And this was our typical afternoon.


Absolutely dreamy.

Have a Happy Pumpkin Day!


October 28, 2013

pink thoughts


My planner says today is Breast Cancer Awareness Day (even though I couldn't find internet proof to back up that claim), so I thought I'd photograph a bunch of pretty pink things in my house, and say a few wise and inspiring things about breast cancer, and then wish you all a wonderful day and send you off to enjoy the week.

But, today is gloomy and windy and gross, and I don't feel like fighting with the horrible lighting to go the all pink route, so I am instead going the "I bought this painting for the frame, and behind the hideous bird picture I was thrilled beyond words to find this delightful paint-by-number" route.

(Has anyone besides me noticed that I have a tendency toward the run on sentence? I also talk in run on sentences, so let's just say we're going for authentic and pretend it's not annoying.)


So, even though there is not a trace of pink to be found in the photos, I'm still going to talk the pink talk.

First of all. Thank you.

Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. They have meant the world to me these last months.

Several times, I have gone back and re-read the comments on my original post and they just make my day.

I especially love it when you let me know that you've scheduled your mammogram or have spent some quality time checking in with the girls. And my very, very favorite was hearing that you were doing a self-exam whilst reading my post. Cracked me flat up and made me smile from ear to ear.

Keep it up, ladies. This is important stuff.

And if you haven't done a self-exam or scheduled that over due mammogram, isn't today the perfect day to get the job done?


As for me, I'm almost four weeks past my last chemo and I'm feeling better every single day.

I've got nine eyelashes left (two on one side and seven on the other - lopsided is the newest trend for fall), and check every day for the new babies to start growing.

(By the way, does anyone have any false eyelash advice? I've found some fairly natural looking eyelashes, but have never worn them before. I'd love to hear any newbie tricks or tips.)

I somehow kept a decent eyebrow count, so I'm quite happy about that.

I'm all about the new hair patrol. I make my family check my head for hair pretty much every time they walk into the room. My son says I've gone from one sprout per square inch to three, but I think that was just so I'd leave him alone for five minutes.

I can take my daily walk and make it home without wanting to take a nap in the ditch on the side of the road.

I'm sleeping better, to which I have to say a big ya-hoo, because sleep issues were probably the biggest thorn in my side during chemo.

I've gone from 468 prescription bottles on my night stand to three, and I'm hoping to get to zero asap.

I had a great chat with my oncologist last week, and while there are no guarantees that my cancer won't come back, I'm planning to live my life like it won't. When I get a little freaked about the eleven percent chance that my cancer will return, my hubby is quick to remind me that I have an eighty nine percent chance that it won't.


And that, my friends, is a glass that is much more than half-way full.

October 22, 2013

tomato blue cheese soup


My very least favorite part of blogging is the writing part.

Sometimes it comes fairly easy.

Easily?

See!?!?

Right off the bat I'm stuck on easy vs. easily.

Sometimes, like today, it's a huge struggle to do the words putting into sentences part.

So, since I have recently acquired a recipe for tomato soup that just may change your life, and I really, really want to share the tomato soup love with you, I am simply going to go the bullet point route and leave you to make sense of it all.

But first, here's the picture. Hopefully that will hold you over until I actually get to the recipe part.


Ready? Here we go.

(Where is the bullet point key on my keyboard?)

(I guess we'll do asterisks instead.)

(Chemo brain. Love having that excuse in my back pocket.)

* I have a neighbor.

* My neighbor has an amazing garden - both flowers and veggies.

* My neighbor regularly hosts gatherings for some of the neighbor ladies, of which I am one.

* My neighbor did that very thing last week and served tomato soup as part of the delicious menu.

* My neighbor passed the recipe along to me.

* My neighbor also gave me a large bag full of delicious heirloom tomatoes.

* Score!

* My neighbor is very pretty and sweet and giving.

* I have been on the hunt for a good creamy tomato basil soup for years.

* We used to have a restaurant in town that made the very best creamy tomato basil soup on the planet.

* Sadly, that restaurant closed.

* This recipe is even better than that recipe.

* Score!

* Here is that recipe, along with the changes I made.

Tomato Blue Cheese Soup from allrecipes.com

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced - I used a very small amount of garlic, as I'm not a huge fan
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper - didn't have a pepper on hand
1/4 large red onion, chopped - used a Walla Walla from my garden
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese - used Gorgonzola, and let's be honest - I used more than 1/4 cup
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened - cream cheese makes everything better
1/4 cup heavy cream - used half and half
1/4 cup milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes - used the heirlooms
1 1/2 cups tomato juice - had V-8 on hand
2 teaspoons dried basil - I used fresh and lots of it
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granular no-calorie sucralose sweetener (such as Splenda®) - good old sugar for me

Directions

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, bell pepper, and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the blue cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, and milk. Heat until the cheese is melted and the mixture is simmering, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato juice, basil, sweetener, and pepper. Continue to cook and stir until the soup is heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

I doubled the recipe because I had so many tomatoes, and I added the Gorgonzola at the end because I didn't want it totally melted.


If you are a tomato soup fan, this recipe is a keeper. It is creamy and dreamy and delicious.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

October 16, 2013

molasses cookies



Have I mentioned that my middle son is back in the desert?

He's about half way through his deployment, and I can't wait for him to come home this spring.

In the meantime, I send him cookies!


We've discovered that his all time favorite chocolate chip cookies are a no-go. It can take anywhere from a week to a month for a package to make it into Junior's hands, and even vacuum packed, the chocolate chip cookies are not at their best when they arrive.

However, my sister's molasses cookies are another story. They are still soft and chewy even weeks after I send them off.


Spiced with lots of cinnamon, cloves and ginger, these cookies are a perfect fall treat.

I have big plans to fill them with pumpkin ice cream, as I think they'd be out of this world as ice cream sandwiches.

(Just to clarify, I would not be sending the ice cream sandwich version overseas.)


Molasses Cookies

1 and 1/2 cups melted butter - recipe calls for shortening, but I'm a butter believer
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses - I use the dark, full flavor version
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt

I usually soften my butter in the microwave to an almost, but not quite melted point.
Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
Add molasses and mix until blended.
I usually sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl and then add them to the mixer in batches and stir until everything is just combined.
But sometimes I'm not very Martha and don't sift anything but just dump all the dry ingredients into my mixer and then say bad words as the flour goes flying all over my kitchen.

Four cups of flour is a lot of flour to add all at once.

Either way, they always turn out perfect and delicious.

Except for the first time when I made them with no sugar. They were not delicious that time.

Chill the dough for a couple hours, and then roll the cookie dough into balls. Roll the cookie balls in granulated sugar and place on a ungreased cookie sheet. Do not press the cookie balls down. They will flatten out into perfectly round cookies as they bake.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

I've made them from all different sized cookie scoops, as I'm always trying to maximize the amount of cookies I can fit in a flat rate postal box. The smaller cookies are usually done the eight minutes and the largest can take up to eleven minutes.


So are there any other cookie shippers out there? If you've got a recipe that travels well, I'd love to hear about it.

Have a happy Tuesday!