January 31, 2012


About two and a half years ago, I decided I wanted to really get serious about my photography, and specifically photographing people. Photographing people seemed much harder for me than photographing landscapes and flowers.

So, I needed to practice, and practice a lot.

At that particular time, I had only one model at my disposal on a regular basis.

You've met him before, but here's a reminder just in case you've forgotten.

These three pictures are a great representation of what I got whenever I could convince junior to let me practice my portrait photography.

He made me pay, and he made me pay big.

In case you're wondering, it's totally possible to be furious with someone while laughing hysterically at the same time.

However, angry laughing aside, after this particular shoot (which followed on the heels of several other similar shoots) I was pretty bummed. I needed a willing model who would actually behave themselves if I wanted any chance of getting better.

Kayla has been buddies with my youngest since grade school, and I'm surprised I didn't think of calling her sooner.

Like, before I'd pulled all my hair out and pinched my charming boy black and blue.

Over the next couple years, Kayla was game to model absolutely any time I had a whim to get my camera out.

Kayla was instrumental in my decision to start my small senior photography business.

And my son was instrumental in my decision to make my senior photography business for girls only.

Before I knew it, it was time for Kayla's senior pictures. We wanted to do something very fun and different. She knew she wanted flowers floating in the water and she knew she wanted pink, and we both wanted it to be soft and ethereal and dreamy. So we grabbed a boat and every fluffy, soft and cushy pink thing we could find and set out to create our floating photo vision.

I have to give a huge shout out to Kayla's mom, Tamsen. The boat had a mind of its own and Tamsen got a major workout making it cooperate.

Kayla, on the other hand, did not get any form of workout at all. I think she almost fell asleep several times. In fact, we could barely get her out of the boat when we were done, and who could blame her. Given the opportunity, I don't think I would have ever left that pillow filled, floating photo prop myself.

The pictures turned out just as we hoped.

A girl, almost grown, dreaming about all her future holds.

Dreaming about all the possibilities.

Dreaming about her life ahead.

Dear Kayla,

Thank you.

Thank you for letting me practice.

Thank you for helping me get better.

Thank you for being so fun.

Thank you for sending all your friends my way.

Thank you for being you.

Best wishes in everything you do and everywhere you go.

Love you!

January 30, 2012

fresh apple cake

Another recipe!

From the photo dump!

Won't you be glad when I'm done with the photo dump and therefore quit saying the words "photo dump"?

Me too.

I made Paula's Fresh Apple Cake last fall when I had a couple girlfriends over for coffee and dessert.

Part of me wishes it was still fall, because apple cake is more of a fall-ish dessert than a late January dessert, but I suppose apples are pretty much a year round fruit, so here you go.

This is one of those cakes that gets better and better with each day spent in the fridge.

I served it with cinnamon whipped cream, which was delicious, and my sister serves it with cinnamon ice cream. I've never had cinnamon ice cream, but I can only imagine how delightful it would be with this cake.

(Can anyone tell me why it is that when I make a long photoshop document, like the recipe above, it shows up skinny on my blog even though it's the same pixel width as all my other photos that show up full width?)

(Edited to add that I do not use blogger for my photos. I upload to Photobucket and then paste them into my post.)

(Thank you in advance, because I find this to be very frustrating.)

Have a wonderful Monday!

January 26, 2012

the picture dump continues

More shop pictures. These clothes flew out the door. Poof! All gone within days of the photos going up on the wall.

Lauren and Kelsi are bff's and they were hilarious. We had a ball.

An accessory shot. This darling girl was twelve years old when I took these pictures. Whatever happened to the gawky, awkward stage?!

My adorable niece in the herb garden. This is one of the few times she saw fit to make eye contact with my camera. You've got to be on your toes when you photograph a princess!

This was not as easy as you'd think. I desperately needed an assistant to blow the bubbles, but no such luck. I'd blow the bubbles, drop the wand, grab my camera and hope for the best. We finally, finally got a decent shot. Katie is practically flying through the air to catch the bubble. The outtakes are priceless.

Stella and Ceili....sisters. I love the back lighting in these shots. Back lighting rarely works for me, but mastering the technique is going to be a major focus for me this next year.

I'm getting there! A few more recipes to share and the photo dump will be complete.

Happy Thursday!

January 25, 2012

wanna go to prom with me?

I've mentioned before that I occasionally take photos for a cute little boutique in my town.

This time last year, we desperately wanted to do a shoot to promote the store's formal wear, as now is the time the girls start shopping for prom dresses.

However, try as we might, it's pretty hard to make the Montana winterscape look anything like the springtime prom wonderland we wanted for the photos.

This year, we thought ahead and scheduled our prom shoot early last fall, before Montana descended into its dreary winter bleakness.

If this picture looks a bit familiar, it's because I stole it from the cutest bride and bridesmaids ever. If memory serves, one of the bridesmaids came up with the idea and it's one of my very favorite shots of the girls.

As you can see, we had fourteen different kinds of fun, and I already have plans brewing for next year's shoot.

Thanks girls! You are the prettiest prom princesses ever!

I'll be back tomorrow with more photos from the archives, as the great computer hard drive clean-up of 2012 continues.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

January 24, 2012

baked brie

I'm finally cleaning up my computer picture files.

This is a good thing, because removing one folder at a time whenever my Mac yells at me about the lack of storage space is not the most efficient form of computer or time management.

Be on the look out for lots of recipes and miscellaneous photos that have been lurking on my hard drive for far too long.

(Oh, how I wish, wish, wish that apple had a stem.)

The fact that I am doing this little bit of computer maintenance is quite impressive considering all I want to do is play Fruit Ninja on my son's new iPod touch.

I became instantly addicted last week during my very first game, and now I spend large amounts of time negotiating with Junior for usage of his new toy.

He is very stingy.

I did manage to score some quality fruit time over the weekend while he took his girlfriend home on Saturday night, but negotiations broke down as soon as he returned.

I now have plans to accidentally back my car over my Blackberry so I can replace it with an iPhone, and then there's a really good chance you'll never see me again, because I'll be playing Fruit Ninja all day, every day.

When I'm not playing Fruit Ninja, (which is all the time because did I mention that my son won't share his iPod touch?) I'm trying to finish the last book in The Hunger Games series.

I find myself saying "Katniss Everdeen" over and over in my head, and sometimes I even say it out loud. Please tell me that every once in a while you get hung up on a word (or a name....a rather strange, made up name) and it just gets stuck in your head.

And sometimes comes out your mouth.

Please tell me that sometimes happens to you.

Katniss Everdeen.

Katniss Everdeen.

Katniss Everdeen.

(Spell check is not acquainted with Katniss Everdeen.)

Okay, we're going to move on now, and pretend that I am a very normal person who spends her days cooking and cleaning and doing her laundry, instead of a person who repeatedly says the name of a fictional character out loud and licks marshmallows in the snow and dreams of uninterrupted fruit slicing time.

I have several recipes to clear off my computer, and the first one comes from my bff. She made it for us when we were blobbing last month, and it is fabulous.

Baked brie. With fruit and nuts, no less.


The recipe calls for the Costco wheel of brie, but I only had access to the 8 ounce grocery store version, so it looks a little overwhelmed by the toppings in this picture.

19 oz wheel of brie
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar - I only used about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup finely diced Granny Smith apple
orange juice - a splash

Saute all the ingredients (except the cheese) in a skillet until the apple is slightly soft.

Place the brie in a pie pan, and pour the fruit and nut mixture over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

I wasn't thrilled with the grainy consistency of the melted butter and brown sugar mixture, so the next time I made the recipe, I dissolved the brown sugar in a little bit of orange juice, and then added the butter to the pan.

I also put foil over the pan after about ten minutes in the oven, so the topping doesn't get too brown.

I'm not a huge fan of Table Water crackers, as I think they taste a little bit like cardboard, but in this case, they are perfect. The plain cracker really lets the cheese and toppings take center stage.

Speaking of brie, I used to work for an airline, and every once in a while I'd get to sit in first class if there was room. One of my first class meals included a really cute, mini round of brie, which I attempted to cut with my knife. However, cold brie is a little on the rubbery side, so instead of slicing, the mini brie went flying through the air and landed in the lap of a humorless business man sitting in the row in front of me. He didn't even smile when he handed it back to me, and he should have, because it was pretty darn impressive to see that brie flying through the air.

Come on, stodgy business man. Laugh! It was funny!

He was obviously not a cheese lover. Personally, I'll take my cheese anyway I can get it.

Happy Tuesday!

January 20, 2012

so it has come to this

I'm photographing fruit.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I actually set out to photograph a homemade snowflake marshmallow, floating in a cup of creamy hot chocolate. I made the hot chocolate, filled the cup, put the marshmallow in a baggie in my pocket, grabbed my camera, and headed out my back door into the first big snowfall of the year.

I nestled the cup in freshly fallen snow and then proceeded to accidentally dunk half the marshmallow in the hot chocolate.

Now, bear in mind that my hot chocolate/snowflake marshmallow photo vision did not include my pristine white marshmallow being covered in brown hot chocolate. In my hot chocolate/snowflake marshmallow photo vision, the snowflake stayed pristinely white, floating dreamily atop the steaming cup of hot chocolate, its edges slightly melty, but not so melty that you couldn't tell it was a snowflake. Just that perfect, blend the edges amount of melty.

But, here I was with a half white, half brown snowflake marshmallow. I tried to be open minded and proceeded to dunk the entire marshmallow in the hot chocolate in hopes that I could convince myself that brown is the new white, but I'm not gonna lie.

It wasn't pretty.

You can see my dilemma.

I decided to grab the marshmallow out and take it into the house and rinse it off in the sink.

Good plan, yes?


The snowflake was already well on its way to melty, as I'd made the hot chocolate screaming hot because I knew I would be setting it in the snow, thereby potentially hindering its marshmallow melting capabilities.

See how well I plan out my photo shoots?

I bet right about now you're all wishing you could just spend a little quality time in my head.

It's a fun place.

So, since the marshmallow was disintegrating, and rinsing it off in the sink was no longer a viable option, I did what every single one of you would have done, and I tried to lick the chocolate off the top of the marshmallow.

(Don't even try to say you wouldn't have licked the marshmallow.)

Now is probably a great time to survey the audience to see how well you all think that plan worked.

You may be wondering why I didn't just go in the house and grab another marshmallow.

I didn't grab another marshmallow because I only made one snowflake marshmallow. I only made one snowflake marshmallow because it is very difficult to get snowflake marshmallows out of snowflake cookie cutters and still retain the snowflake details. In reality, my marshmallow looked more like a starfish than a snowflake, which I am going to choose to blame on the snowflake cookie cutter instead of the snowflake marshmallow maker.

As you can see by the absence of hot chocolate/snowflake marshmallow pictures, the photo shoot was a total bust, and I ended up standing in the snowstorm, drinking the hot chocolate and licking marshmallow goo off my fingers.

Drinking hot chocolate in the snow may sound dreamy and wonderful, but as I was mad and muttering naughty words in between sips, the whole winter wonderland thing was a little lost on me.

By the way, do I win a prize for using the words snowflake and marshmallow more than five hundred times in a single post?

Okay, since I love you too much to send you off to your weekend with nothing more than slightly lame pictures of citrus and a post about licking a marshmallow, I'm going to share my latest photography discovery with you.

I've always struggled with white balance. I've never been happy with any of the white balance settings (cloudy, shade, etc.), so I've always left my white balance on auto and done my best to adjust the color in Photoshop. Not the best option, by far.

A couple months ago, I hired a photography teacher to help me with a few uber technical photography related things that I wanted to better understand. We also talked about my white balance dilemma, and he showed me how to use a white balance card to correct my photos in post processing.

The top picture shows how my camera took the clementine picture on the auto white balance setting. It was a snowy, gray day, and the lighting was very cold. You can see the heavy blue cast in the picture.

Normally, I would have to warm up the photo in Photoshop in order to get the colors right, but by placing the white balance card in one of my photos, I am able to click the Camera Raw white balance tool on the white balance card in the photo, and Camera Raw then makes the adjustment for the right white balance. I can then synchronize all the other photos taken in those same lighting conditions to that white balance setting.

Clear as mud?

That's what I thought.

I use Photoshop CS5, so I'm not sure if the Elements versions have this feature, but I'm loving the little bit of help it's giving me in color correcting my photos.

So, I'm going to spend my weekend trying to find something more exciting than an orange peel to photograph.

Perhaps rocks.

Or dirt.

Hope your weekend is fabulous!

January 16, 2012

p is for palette

Color palettes.

Photoshop templates.


What do these things have in common?

Not much.

However, as I was following my normal post shopping trip routine the other day (my post shopping trip routine includes taking everything I've purchased and laying it out on my front room floor where it stays for days and sometimes weeks until I get my act together and put it away where it belongs), I noticed that a beautiful pastel color palette was just begging to be created.

My obsession with color palettes was born last year as I was visiting blogs like Magnolia Rouge and The Perfect Palette in preparation for my son's wedding. I love, love, love color inspiration boards. They make me happy. Pretty colors, pretty pictures....what's not to love.

Several weeks ago, I was visiting The CoffeeShop Blog - a great blog for all kinds of free Photoshop goodies - and noticed that Rita had created a great color palette template for Photoshop, and all the stuff sitting on my floor presented me with the perfect opportunity to make my very own color palette.

You have to admit that seeing all those pretty colors lined up in a row just made your Monday a little bit better.

Come on, admit it.

Ice cream bowls from Pier 1.

A new ironing board cover from TJ Maxx.

I've been admiring TJ's covers for years but could never bring myself to spend money on a new one when my 27 year old, industrial gray cover was still serving its purpose. Imagine my delight when a chunk of the scary, yellowish brown foam lining landed on the floor as I was ironing last week, giving me the perfect excuse to make the 100 mile round trip to TJ's for a pretty new cover.

Pom pom trim from JoAnn's, and two fabrics that I ordered online and love. I have big plans for these fabrics. I also have/had big plans for all the other fabrics in my fabric stash, but that's a story for another day.

So there you go. A pretty pastel palette for your Monday morning pleasure.

I hope it brightens your day!

January 9, 2012

top of the morning

Howdy all.

I'm road tripping this week, but I just wanted to pop in and say hello.

I also wanted to tell you that I finally got my exercise act together last week and logged some significant walking miles. However, for each mile I walked, I treated myself to a frozen chocolate chip cookie dough ball leftover from the great cookie bake-off, so I'm not sure if it counts. I think it's probably a wash, but now that I'm out of cookie balls, maybe I'll make some headway on the healthy living front.

Or maybe I'll just move on to the tub of dark chocolate cherry almond clusters that somehow made their way into my Costco cart last week.

Only time will tell.

Have a wonderful week!

January 2, 2012

fail early, fail often

Yesterday, in a flurry of flapping notebook pages, I wrote out a plan for myself.

The ideas, the inspiration, the resolve....my head was in a whirlwind and I frantically tried to write all my scattered thoughts down on paper before they vaporized forever.

Photo shoot dreams.

Craft project lists and clipped coupons for a visit to see my good friends Michael and JoAnn.

Blog post ideas.

Things I need to finish up for my little senior photography business.

Major and minor home projects that I want to tackle this year.

Thoughts on better eating and an exercise routine.

I wondered just how much of my new found (new found since last January) drive for structure and health was natural and inborn, and how much was driven by the retail world and their yearly marketing of work-out clothes, treadmills and home storage systems.

I'm pretty sure it's more the latter and I'm just easy prey for a good ad campaign, although perhaps we were created with a natural, yearly fresh start instinct. I'm sure there's a chance the wise men returned home in January from their trip to see the Baby Jesus with an urge to spruce up the camel barn, and a resolution to walk to the watering hole more often instead of always riding the donkey.

I made out a daily schedule for myself, in hopes that if I scheduled in things like exercise, I would actually do it.

My schedule starts with a six a.m. wake-up call, and even though the banks are closed and the mailman has the day off, it is a Monday and therefore a perfect day to start my shiny new, organized and healthy life.

However, coming off a week of staying up late and chronic sleeping in, I instead started off my day with an hour long game of snoozies with my Blackberry. After an hour, the phone was tired of the every five minute thing and went on strike.


My daily date with Jillian Michaels was scheduled for 7:30, but at this very moment it is 9:18 and I'm sitting in my chair writing a blog post that I wasn't scheduled to write until 10:00, after I'd cleaned up the kitchen and started a load of laundry. Additionally, I have absolutely no clue where my Jillian dvd is currently living, as we broke up sometime last spring and I haven't heard from her since.

So, I will do what I always do, and justify my failure by telling myself that it's a national holiday and you shouldn't start a new life on a national holiday and then I'll quote Scarlett O'Hara and tell myself that, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

And, " I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

And then I'll go on a hunt for my workout dvd, and get sidetracked by an urge to watch Gone With The Wind, and end up spending the day in front of the tv eating all the leftover Christmas cookies while scouring Pinterest for some great wintertime craft projects.