Lens Flares, masks and color hues?

Today I have ventured into the world of color and flare.  Every time I take a photo, I see what I have in mind, take it, and photograph probably 15-20 more times just at that angle just to make sure I get it right.  It’s no small task afterward sifting through the photos and picking out the best ones.  I think the term is culling?  Strange term, don’t you think?  I prefer sifting through, but I suppose if I want to be a professional photographer one day, I probably should get my terms right.

So lens flare.  I’m sure every one of you have see what that looks like.  Some ethereal glow above the subject’s head or wherever the sun was when the photo was taken.  Sometimes you know it didn’t exist at all if you get good at looking through many photos. I see it on my friends that I follow, and they are quite good at it. Sometimes?  I think, nope, a photo needs to be left alone and carry no lens flare.  But art it art, and I don’t judge on why one is placed when I feel it shouldn’t be.  They had a vision and ran with it, and it works.

I experimented with a simple photo I took a few weeks ago of Hannah.  And today I added flare and adjusted the color, added vignette, etc. (The list goes on.)  See the difference?

Is it perfect? No, I could still go on and doctor up the photo.  And in truth, I still like the original. It’s edgier, and carries more weight, but we’re talking lens flares, so I wanted to show you how I added one on to this photo.

So color hue was a bit more tricky, and took some time to learn.  I don’t have photoshop yet loaded only my REALLY old computer that is barely hanging on; so everything I do edit is done through 3 different programs on my phone.  Really makes for long editing per photo, but so worth it.  When I have the ability to purchase a good computer and get hard drive space, I will dive in!  But for now, these are the things I can work with and it’s good!

Here is a photo I had taken a few days ago, and today I edited the colors.  I still need to work on fine tuning this, but I’m pretty happy with my very first try.  What do you think?

The interesting thing about playing with the hue is you can make an ordinary early fall day look like it is “prime time autumn.”  And our weather here in the south is rather warm, I need to be more creative to make fall look like it’s here.  I still have much to learn, but remember, this is my first time trying it out.

Transitions

It’s been a long time since I’ve last written. Two years taking care of our daughter from  newborn to the toddler years can go by like a flash, and once they hit those toddler years, things really take off.  I have reflected on all of this by looking through my photos I’ve taken of my kids and seen how much growth and change has taken place.  When I see how I could literally hold my newborn in one arm at that time, to now where I have to wrestle to actually keep her IN my arms, on my!  It’s really quite humorous to watch a toddler develop; little minds racing into the new day with gusto.  While I sit here in my 45 year old body slowly walking into the day, especially if I get only 4 hours of sleep.  And yes, I admitted my age, because I’m not afraid to say it!  Ladies, walk confident in your age. (rant over)

I’m writing in to tell you about a transition I’m taking in my life – and this blog’s life.  No longer will I only write about recipes, those are lovely, and I like to keep them as my big kids really look to them for pancakes and some other staples and treats.  I will be showing our little lives, and a snapshot perhaps of the day, or maybe an event, or something really amazing that happened.  Also, I have been toying with photography and really love the creativity that goes behind the lens.  It’s challenging and some days I could throw in the towel, but if I had, then I wouldn’t have gotten this photo.fullsizeoutput_1c2f

Or this…

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Do you know what it took to get her in this dress? She screamed, kicked and cried for her “tea” dress.  It’s her favorite and I was NOT going to put that one on for two reasons. One, it’s spring colors and I needed a photo with fall vibrant yellows to go with the environment.  And two, she is a model for some companies, and well, this dress is for one of them.  Maybe in this blog I’ll add that in, but for now, I keep that to her Instagram page.  Yes, the kid has her own page. HA!

I’m relabeling this blog to be more of a lifestyle/personal title.  Two teens and a toddler.  How many of you out there are in this same journey?  I’m actually relieved to find quite a lot.  Some days I feel like a lone wolf out here – all of my moms friends with teens are venturing out do more adventurous journeys with their kids while I backtrack a bit, and bring my teens along for the ride to see through the eyes of a toddler.  There isn’t one right way I realize, though there are days I envy their ability to do things like go on a difficult hike to a waterfall, while I research like mad to find just one waterfall I can safely take my child to.  And trust me, this road I have found to be difficult!  There are not so many options, at least from what I have seen.  So, welcome to our lives. I hope you enjoy!

Every time…

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Hello readers.  I know it’s been quite some time, and I mean quite.  I won’t even look back to see when my last blog post was shared.  It’s embarrassing, but never mind that.  The why?  I could give you laundry list of reasons, but if you are a stay at home parent, laundry is a dirty word.  So I will spare you the details.  But I will say that I had three wonderful full years working at my kids’ school doing many different tasks that challenged me and fulfilled me in ways I didn’t expect.  And then?  I was given a new gift recently; one that consumes my every waking moment.  How can a baby be such a blessing and so exhausting at the same time?  Talk about a confusing set of emotions.  Yay! Ugh! Please stop crying! Aww you are so stinking cute I can’t stand it! Oh so beautiful! Oh boy, what a terrible mess of a diaper, yuck!  Look at her smile!  Aww I can’t stand how cute you are!  Just go to bed!!

Yep.  Baby.  Starting over after 11 years and it’s been so wonderful and tiring and fun and  yea. Enough blabbering.  Point is, I’m typing this message out to let you know how I’m doing.  I’m doing great, and really busy!  And this sandwich?  Well, it represents the hustle I put into my meals lately so I can quickly eat something without a child in my lap.  Which is never.  Hence the headline.  Every time… I want to eat?  She cries for me to pick her up.  And so I shall.

And this sandwich? Well, I just got halfway through eating it and she’s crying, and it’s time for me to rescue her once again.  ❤

A Where the Wild Things Are Birthday

Where the Wild Things Are Chocolate Cupcakes

Yesterday we celebrated my nephew’s 1st birthday!  My sister held an adorable themed party – Where the Wild Things Are.   Growing up, I remember reading that book over and over again as a child, thinking how imaginative his mind was. To have a forest grow within his room, go to another land with beasts,  become their king, only to realize that he DID miss his dinner and decided to calm down and come back to reality.  Funny thing about this story is I don’t see this in my nephew at all, yet. But, he IS only one year old!  Perhaps one day he will be parading around in a wild outfit, aggravating my sister while she is cooking.  I look forward to hearing stories of her wild and wonderful adventure with her beautiful son.  🙂

For the party, I made cupcakes with crazy looking hair similar to the creatures in the book.  At least I tried.  It helped that there were toppers and wraps to outfit the cakes making a nice finish.  The recipe I used was Add a Pinch, and then I added my own spices to the mix to jazz it up.  The cupcakes were a hit!

Jazzed Up Chocolate Cupcakes -makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of All-Spice
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon bourbon vanilla
  • ½ cup boiling water

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Add liners to muffin pan and spray cooking oil on the liners. Don’t overspray. Combine in a stand mixer all dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients and mix again.  This will create a wet mixture, so I poured it into a large measuring cup to pour into the liners without making a mess.  Bake for roughly 20 minutes depending on your oven.  Once cool, add your favorite frosting to top.  I used my own which is a little of this a little of that. I really don’t have it measured out, but I do use salted butter to balance out the heavy sugar load.  Also a splash of milk helps the texture smooth out.

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Frog Jam Pop Tarts

frog jam pop tart

Five years ago on this day, we drove to the Eastern coast, toward Fenwick Island and stayed at the beach with my family.  The drive was beautiful, especially heading over the famous Bay Bridge and then onto flat coastal lands filled with acres and acres of farmland.  Passing over the bridge always carries a unique and very significant feel to the drive.  It casts away the notion of being bound to the mainland (even though, we’re still attached to it) giving off a sense of freedom.  Freedom that the beach is upon us, especially after a hard winter…

After passing through acres of beautiful agriculture, I saw arched flags along the road, signifying a produce stand.  Mind you, we passed dozens of small and large produce stands, but I was told this was the stand to stop and gather the goods at.  Pulling into the parking lot, it was clear why we needed to check out the food here.  It was beautiful.  Off to the left of the main building was a giant outdoor playground for kids.  I don’t mean the standard kind like we see at a school ground either.  The play area had wooden planes, trains and automobiles, for the kids to climb around in while you shop.

So while the kids were preoccupied, I ventured through the rows and rows of produce.  It was almost overwhelming with the selection, but who can complain about that?  After a lot of searching, I picked up some sweet corn, peppers, cherries, asparagus, and Frog Jam.  I saw these jellies and jams all stacked above the fruit, decorating the stand nicely, and I knew, at that moment what I was going to create with that Frog Jam.  What IS Frog Jam?  A jam that consist of Figs, Raspberries, Orange and Ginger.  There are some other ingredients in there as well, but those are the key flavors that give it the unique name.  I instantly was in love with the concept and had to buy it.

So, what could I possibly create with Frog Jam that would be creative?  Healthy, homemade pop tarts!  My kids love the traditional kind, although, I find them overly sweet and too under-nourishing.  How often can you say that you’re full after a pop tart?  I am willing to bet not too often, and that’s what motivated me to design something tasty and something that works with a child’s palate.  These tarts were very simple to make, as I even allowed the kids to get involved on creating these, with hopes that they would like to eat them too.  I wasn’t sure if the healthy nature of the tart would avert them or the crazy jam inside, but I am happy to announce that my picky children were more than pleased with these treats.  They were just that too, a treat and a breakfast.  What is also wonderful is that you can save these in the freezer for another time.  However, I wasn’t able to save these in my home; I found my husband sneaking a few at a time to take back to the office and snack on, as well as my children doing the same.  The tarts were out of the house in a few days and my family is asking that I make some more again.  I couldn’t be happier seeing my family be excited to eat so well, and the tarts were a perfect change of pace.  So don’t be afraid to find some unusual flavor jam or jelly and create these beautiful and delicious tarts!

Frog Jam Pop Tarts Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups of King Arthur Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup of melted Butter (salted)
  • 1 tsp of Sea Salt
  • 1 cup of Organic Plain Yogurt
  • FROG Jam or any other Jam/Jelly

Directions:

Mix together the flour, butter, salt and the yogurt and then when a dough forms, begin to knead the dough.  If it feels too sticky, add more flour; too dry, add yogurt.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface or parchment paper.  Using cookie cutter or a knife, cut the shapes you are seeking.  Add a small spoonful to the dough and spread it out, not hitting the edges, however.  Place top on the tart and press the edges with your fingers first and then with a fork to seal the tart shut.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

This article was previously published through Ciao Florentina, which has since been removed from the site.  I am the original author of this recipe. Thank you!

Eggless Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Eggless Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Let’s be real.  Shall we?  I’m not a person that enjoys fake people, fake smiles (and hellos) and fake food most of all.  How these phony things in life make us feel insecure, bored and unhealthy.  Think about it.  When a person says, “how are you?”  The general response is “good.”  Why would we bother say in passing,” well, today, I want to kick a hole in the wall due to the level of frustration I have experienced today!”  Can you imagine how that would go over???  Then there needs to be a sit down conversation as to why you would want to injure yourself and be destructive all in one setting.  Truly, don’t kick a wall, it lands you nowhere good.  🙂

What’s my “real” statement for today?  I have a love/hate relationship with bananas.  Oh they look so beautiful in the grocery store… and as I select a group, I think, “I’m going to eat these each day and be good to my body – and make the kids eat them too.”  And after two days of sitting on the counter, all of the other choices of food overrule those once lovely bananas.  Now starting to slightly spot, not looking so beautiful… but still edible.  Maybe I’ll have one today.  But no.  It never happens and so I force one of my kids to eat one, so there’s that.  Great parenting! Less guilt, right?  And then the tragedy begins, the spots darken and the odd pungent smell begins – and you know.  It’s time to make a decision.  Feel incredible guilt over the loss of a couple of dollars, or bake with them.

Most of the time, the trash can is the place those bananas go.  This year while working, I found it weight on my shoulders to have to cook with the bananas.  Cooking dinner was enough to deal with.  Baking was put on hold for the most part.  At one point during the school year, I made an executive decision to not buy them.  The counter looked barren and that brief emptiness didn’t last too long.  So, here we are.  Back to bananas on the counter again.  And this time, I forced my daughter to use a recipe and bake instead of pitching them in the trash.  She selected a recipe well, and we now have a healthy homemade breakfast ready for tomorrow!

Want the recipe?

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup Oil (I used Grapeseed Oil)
  • 3 mashed medium ripe bananas

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a muffin pan with shortening (the recipe makes 12 muffins.)  In a large bowl, mix bananas and oil.  Add dry ingredients slowly to the wet mixture.  Add chocolate chips and mix.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way.  The original recipe calls for liners, I didn’t do this, and it seemed to work out well.  Bake for 18 minutes.  Enjoy!

Read More: http://www.egglesscooking.com/banana-chocolate-chip-muffins/

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

I cannot stress enough how amazing these sweet treats are for Easter!!

The Chocolate Bottle

Chocolate Peanut Butter EggsOh MY! These are the bomb!  I don’t mean to be silly with words, but sometimes it can’t be helped.  Truly these little eggs just explode in flavor in your mouth when you take a bite and it will leave you coming back for more.  I’m a sucker for peanut butter and chocolate together, how about you?  Without question, MANY people tell me the same statement… they can’t help themselves with the combination of flavors.  Why is it?

I was afraid to attempt to make these eggs because I wasn’t sure if the chocolate was molded first and then sealed after peanut butter is placed inside – like a peanut butter cup; OR, the peanut butter egg dipped into chocolate.  The latter is the case and THANK GOODNESS, because that part take very little time.  Actually the whole process of creating these eggs really needs to be shared HOW easy…

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Rhubarb Mocha Banana Bread

The Chocolate Bottle

bread
I sat here for a few minutes trying to think of a title for this bread.  I am not satisfied in this name, but as they say today… “I’ve got nothing.”  Or is it “nuttin’?”  Either way, this bread is packed full of ingredients and really wasn’t too difficult to make.  The key ingredients that you will find important are:

  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Mocha Powder (Sweet)
  • Rhubarb
  • Bananas

cuttin rhubarb

Of course there are many other items involved in the bread… 🙂

smashing bananas

Don’t you love the name “rhubarb?”  It has a funny ring to it, lovely in color and has a unique taste.  My husband likes to rename oddly spelled food items.  This is one of them; said “r-hoo-barb.”  Just like herbs.  “H-erbs” with the “h” pronounced.  I hope we’re not the only oddballs out there that do this.  What names do you reprounounce into a crazy fashion?  Forget it with wines, that’s an…

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A Valentine Treat Recap

In our home, we love celebrating Valentine’s Day!  But not for the reasons that you think; if you missed yesterday’s posting, stop by and check it out.  In our home, the kids and I make the sweets instead of buying them – that is – unless I’m having a lazy type of holiday.  I had fun researching what types of projects I had worked on in the years past, and it made me appreciate why I keep my blog running, even if I don’t find enough time these days to do so.  This year, I believe I’m going to make scones and somehow dress them up to make it fitting for the day, but that remains to be seen on “how.”  Why scones?  Why not?  Actually, I made a batch for a group of people and the reviews came back that they were heavenly.  Some people even said they were the best scones they had ever had, so that must be saying something!  Truth be told, my family was so jealous when I walked out the door with this beautiful batch of scones, and didn’t even get one bite.  So I owe it to them to make a batch.

Enough rambling – break out the recap!!  Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!!

Goat Cheese TrufflesGoat Cheese Truffles – what better way to say, “hey honey, I love you, and I know you love goat cheese! And chocolate!”  True story, I made these for a dinner party, and found my husband eating the leftovers (straight from the bowl, not even rolled up!) and thought, hmmm, there must be something to these little devilishly amazing bites!  These chocolates keep you coming back for more.  Great for a “la-tee-da” type of person, or someone you just want to impress. 🙂  You’re welcome.

 

Red Velvet MadeleinesRed Velvet Madeleines – Need a Valentine Day breakfast that will impress?  Try these little delights!  Perfect compliment with a nice cup of tea, or hot chocolate.  You and your sweet other will enjoy this as a nice change of pace.  Also great for a dessert at the end of the day, especially after a heavy dinner.  Want to jazz it up?  Serve it with vanilla ice cream.

 

 

Chocolate Strawberry ShortcakeChocolate heart shortcakeChocolate Waffles with Strawberries – Seriously, words cannot describe how amazing this breakfast can be.  Or dinner, should you decide to mix it up.  I have two pictures here because I made it the shortcut method with pre-made chocolate waffles, while my lovely blogging friend in Oklahoma showed an even better way to make them if you have the time and equipment.  Here is her link to make her fancy waffles.

 

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries – a classic, and yet people still buy these rather than try to make them.  Friends, they are not difficult.  Plus your loved one will love you for trying to make them instead of buying them.  Trust me.  If you don’t believe me, look at who is making them in my pictures of that particular blog post.  My kids, when they were tiny!  Don’t like strawberries, roll some raspberries instead, they are a true delight as well.

 

Finished CakeHidden Hearts Cake – Remember when hiding pictures in a cake was all the rage?  Is it still a thing? I’m not sure, but it’s still fun to create, especially for your kids.  Enjoy the tale of my crazy adventure with making this cake. You will definitely get a laugh.

 

 

 

DIY Valentine Bracelet – This is a fun little project that you can create with the kids.  I definitely recommend following the instructions to make it work.  Seems simple enough, but can be a bit tricky if not careful.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Valentine Cake Pops – I have found myself rolling into a Starbucks buying my kids these sweet bites, and each time I think, “ridiculous what I am paying for these when I know how much it costs to make them!! TONS of them.”  Are they difficult to make? Not if you follow the rules.  And your freezer is your friend when it comes to setting up the cake with the frosting.  I recommend making a red velvet cake with a dark chocolate outer coating – the best!

That’s it for now!  You can search my site for more delights, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!