Archives for November 2011

Thursday Ten: How ‘Bout Them Transparent Dangling Carrots Edition

1. Happy Thanksgiving. I have had Alanis Morisette’s “Thank You” stuck in my head for a large part of the day. The rest of my list will be things for which I am thankful – but beyond the typical family, friends, and roof over my head stuff because frankly, everyone’s list looks the same when you do that, and it should just go without saying.

2. I am thankful that Jeremy Piven is in almost every John Cusack movie (maybe all of them – there are John Cusack movies I haven’t seen). Serendipity is on TV right now and Jeremy Piven is – as is typical – the best part of this movie (See also: Gross Pointe Blank).

3. I am thankful for a hair stylist that knows how to cut curly hair without making my head look like a pyramid. Also thankful for Ouidad hair products.

4. I am thankful for the people who choose to hire me to take pictures, who like my vision and my style and honor me with the opportunity to share their special moments and capture them. It is an honor. Looking forward to a wedding next month. Cannot wait.

5. I am thankful for Netflix Streaming. I know, I know, I should be mad at Netflix for all their wishy-washy hand-wringing policy-changing hooey – but frankly, I’ve been kind of enjoying watching Felicity reruns from episode one of season one (See also: My So Called Life).

6. I’m thankful for how easy it is to buy music online (TOO EASY). Doesn’t take much for me to populate my music library with refreshing new stuff. I love that. I also love the various ways people are able to share music online – so I can discover music I wouldn’t have otherwise. Love it.

7. I’m thankful for tacos. (What? It’s my list. Shut up.)

8. I’m thankful for picture frames from IKEA that are simple and cheap so I can frame lots of my photographs – even though I have yet to hang any of them up.

9. I am thankful that I have been able to somewhat dull my fear of flying with either Rescue Remedy or alcohol because I love travel.

10. I am thankful for y’all – if you stop by and read my goofy posts – today or ever… Thank you for stepping into my corner of the internet. I appreciate it.

Chocolate Chip Heath Cookies – Homemade cookie perfection

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It started with a post – a bag of Chips Ahoy with Heath bars pieces. Partly, it made me sad – life is too short for store bought cookies  (Though, life is too short to try to pass off my attempts of cooking meals as “edible” – but, we all have our strengths for sure).

However, while I have a pretty solid chocolate chip cookie recipe, it had NEVER occurred to me to add Heath bar bits. AND I FREAKING LOVE HEATH BARS.

Okay, game changed.

Here’s how it goes.


1/2 c old fashioned oats (ground finely in food processor or blender)
2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter
1 c light brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
3/4 tsp almond extract (not the fake stuff, y’all)
2 eggs, big ones
1 c chocolate chips (I like semisweet)
1/2 c Heath bar bits (approximately. I think I ate more than actually went into the bowl)

What you do.

Preheat your oven. 325 degrees.

Mix together your dry ingredients (ground oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda) and set it aside.

Using an electric mixer (My Kitchenaid is so lovely), cream together the butter and the sugars until super creamy (I almost forgot the brown sugar today. That would have been BAD).

Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each egg.

Add almond extract.

Little by little (about two to three parts), add the flour, mixing until just blended.

Add the chocolate chips and Heath bits. Accidentally drop some Heath bars on your counter so you can eat some.

Mix until blended.

Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper (Seriously. Parchment paper is a cookie savior), and then scoop the dough onto sheets in large rounded teaspoons.

Bake until your cookies are golden, about 12 minutes.

Let cool a few minutes and then snag one ASAP, pour a cold glass of milk and sample your work.

Mmmm, yum. You done good.

Photographic License

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I was recently reading a  forum of photographers – professional photographers, if you will. The forum itself is generally helpful – need advice on lenses, venues, printers? Fabulous. Need to refer a client to other qualified photographers because you’re unavailable? It’s a great resource for that. However, last week, a question came up in that forum and frankly, I’ve been annoyed ever since.

In that forum, someone asked: Wouldn’t it be nice if you had to be licensed or take a test or something before you could call yourself a photographer?

Several others immediately jumped on the bandwagon, slamming “fauxtographers” and agreeing – YES, you should be licensed. Those unlicensed hacks, essentially, were stealing their business.

Or so the professionals feel.

And, well… it left me feeling…icky.

My theory is, how can you license art? Creativity? Perspective? Style? And when I said as much, someone immediately responded that there were technical ins and outs that people should know, artistic style aside.

This argument stems from a saturation in the photography industry – and I’m sure it’s happening elsewhere in creative fields as the tools you need to create become more accessible. NaNoWriMo probably has a lot more people declaring themselves as writers. PhotoShop and other products have people dabbling and calling themselves graphic designers. And DSLRs at every price point mean that everyone’s a photographer.

And sure, that means for those people trying to make a living behind the camera, there’s a lot more competition. Require licensing, limit the field, increase your odds.

That makes sense… right?

But… but… but…


It just seems to me that when a person is hiring a photographer – they’re either shopping by price, in which case you may never win them over because they aren’t willing to pay what you are worth (or what you’ve said you’re worth, and far be it from me to be the judge of that) or they are shopping by style and they will hire you because they LOVE what you do.

The people who want to hire lesser priced photographers, WILL. And it won’t matter the skill level of the other photographer. And it doesn’t take into account your skill level (And frankly, I’ve seen a wide range of skill level among photographers at all price levels – and that’s just the way it is – there are people GIVING THEIR WORK away, my GOODNESS they are so talented, and there are those who tack an exorbitant price tag on their work and I think… wow, that’s a lot of money – are there people who will pay that?).

The problem with me saying all of this is that yes, I love photography. Yes, I am a photographer. And yes, that leaves me open for criticism from people as to where I might fall on that range of price versus skill.

To which I say this –

As with any other photographer: You can only deal with you. It’s up to ME to be the best I can be – to do my best work, to give my clients images that they are happy with and they will treasure. And you know what – some of you can do it better. I can’t control that – I can only do the best work I can.

Which is why I think licensing is stupid.

You want to make taking photos without a license a punishable offense? I’m not sure what good that would do. If you’re looking to shrink the pool of competitors, the best way to do it is by stepping up your game — and I’m speaking as much to myself as anyone else.

I still believe what I do behind the camera is an art. And I still believe that a person can know everything there is to know about every technical aspect of a camera and of taking photographs – and produce images that leave a viewer feeling absolutely nothing – because it’s not all about knowledge, but about feeling and art and perspective. And you can’t teach that. And you certainly can’t license it.

You be you. Let the others worry about themselves.


Thursday Ten: A Morning Sunrise Is A Morning Smile Edition

1. I started this morning so distracted by the sunrise while getting my coffee that when I hit the road again, I pulled over and got out of the car (it was 30 degrees outside! Brrr!) to take some pictures. Considering that was the last time I saw the sun today, I’m glad I took a moment to appreciate it.
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2. I got a shellac manicure two weeks ago and it’s so solid and protects my nails so much that they haven’t broken or chipped (yay!) but now my nails are too long to type comfortably (boo!). Who knew this would be a problem?

3. Competitive gymnastics season starts soon for The Princess. When I picked her up from practice the other night, she was doing roundoff back handsprings and it was amazing how much better she’s gotten since the season ended in May. I’m awestruck and so proud.

4. My copy of Lightroom has arrived! Now to open the box and take the plunge…

5. I have been craving sandwiches for days. DAYS, I SAY. Of course, I’m lazy when it comes to packing lunches and  too lazy to go out for lunch. This presents a problem. I spend a good chunk of my days thinking about sandwiches.


7. Brrrr. Baby, it’s cold outside… and it’s only gonna get worse. Yuck. I hate winter. I hate Michigan.

8. Book club last night and our newest selection is… a book I’ve already read. (Don’t worry, I’m used to it). Not only is it a book I’ve read, it’s a book I’ve no desire to read again. Pfft.

9. So, everyone is an uproar about “they’re trying to call pizza a vegetable”. Well, they already do. They say the tomato paste counts as a veggie – so this isn’t new, it’s just the first you’ve heard of it. Does that make it right? Um, no. But none of us think school lunches are health food, do we? I mean, YES, they SHOULD BE healthier – Jamie Oliver showed that it COULD BE done… but government does some stupid stuff, and feeding people is not easy. Know a sure way to know that your kiddo is getting food that you know contains healthy ingredients? Pack his or her lunch. Maybe someday schools will get it together and do right by the kiddos – in the mean time, no one says your child has to eat hot lunch. [I’m not saying to give up fighting for healthier lunches for the kids – but stop acting surprised when you find out it’s garbage – it’s been garbage for a long time.]

10.  Song for the day? Ingrid Michaelson’s “Ghost”.

The Second Annual HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAT! Post

Blissdom '11 Day 2 (Thursday)

One of my favorite people has a birthday today. See that girl up there? No, not that wacky brunette on the right. The other one. The gorgeous girl on the left. Yeah. Her. That’s Kat. And today she is one year older than she was yesterday (sometimes math is really no fun).

But age is completely and totally irrelevant when it comes to Kat. Why? Because she is one of the most free-spirited, amazing people I’ve ever met. Somehow I just know that when Kat is 70, she’s going to be just as awesome as she is now – she’s fun loving, funny, and NO ONE (and I mean NO ONE) is quite as much fun to hit a dance floor with.

Or karaoke with.

Or hang around a bar with (This is Kat’s picture. I stole it. Sorry Kat. And thank you.)

And even without the dancefloor, or the bar, or the karaoke, or the whatever – she’s an amazing person to be around, or… not be around. You see, unfortunately Kat lives in Illinois and while that’s just a few hours from me and not, mission impossible, it means that we don’t get to hang out as much as we would if I moved next door to her (Is the house next door to you for sale, Kat? I think I’d make a lovely neighbor).

But, that doesn’t matter – because when I’ve got something fun to share or I need to vent or I’m sad or frustrated or whatever, she’s there for me. Because she is awesome and technology is awesome, our distance is bridged instantly – and like nothin’, I’m texting her from a Mexican restaurant in Detroit and she’s responding from her house, and we’re having a back and forth dialogue that would be so much more awesome if we were sharing french fries enthusiastically under the same roof – but… it’s nice to know she’s never that far away.

She’s the only person I’ll let get away with calling me “muffin”.

She still is willing to get on planes with me.

She scares me with Buddhas. And I let her live to tell about it.

She gets in the car with her kids and drives one hundred hours to spend the day with me and my kids up here in west Michigan (Okay, it was more like ten hours round trip – but ten hours in a car with kids might as well be one hundred).

She sends me random cards in the mail that make me laugh.

She wears the same size shoe so we can share.

And she’s just one of the most amazing, kindest, most generous, loving friends in my world. If you should be so lucky to have Kat in your life (and I’ll share her with you, I’m not greedy – but just know that I love her best), you should know how truly blessed your life is and how much it would suck if she were not in it. Because she’s pretty awesome. And I adore her.

Happy birthday, Kat. I’m so glad that our worlds collided – I’m grateful for your friendship and your love. You are one of the best friends a girl could ask for. Love you! <3

Photo credit: Casey/Mooshindy
Photo credit: Lotus Carroll

So I packed my car and headed east…

…to see Mat Kearney in concert.

A few months ago, the awesome folks at One2One Network sent me a message asking if I’d like to go see Mat Kearney in concert. I think it took me thirty seconds to respond and say, “Um. Yeah. Absolutely.”

I’d seen Mat perform earlier this year in Nashville at Blissdom and loved his set then (including the cover of “Dancing in the Dark” he performed with Michelle Branch – even though I don’t like that song, otherwise).

I loved his set so much that way back when I was still taking guitar lessons (OH I MISS GUITAR LESSONS), I opted to learn “Nothing Left To Lose” one week (okay, like two weeks) because I really love the song.

AND THEN, I had the opportunity to review Mat’s album, Young Love, back in September and I enjoyed it. A lot. “Learning to Love Again” is still my favorite track from that album, by the way.

In addition to giving “Young Love” several rotations on my iPod (rotations? That’s probably not the right word in the digital age), I was familiar with Mat’s popular singles: “Breathe In Breathe Out” , “Closer To Love” and “Nothing Left To Lose” but not so familiar that I was in rabid-fan-singing-every-word mode (don’t get me wrong – I love rabid fan mode. There’s nothing more awesome that seeing a band you love performing live and singing every word and dancing your face off). It was a different experience for me – I usually only invest in concert tickets when I am a rabid fan, and since One2One gave me these tickets (disclaimer: You can give me free tickets, but my opinion is still my own) it was an entirely different concert experience: I love the artist but there were still many unknowns for me.

Mat Kearney is an energetic performer and he kicked off his set with a high energy song. The concert was at the St. Andrews in Detroit – and the standing room only environment meant that I was on a balcony (I thought a lot about my odds of falling through the railing, though clearly I’m an idiot who has issues with heights – and also, more obviously: I did not fall), and when the music started, that hall got LOUD!

I loved the numbers where Mat played the acoustic rather than electric guitar (what? Like you’re surprised?) and at times wished that last night’s set had been a little more stripped down, a la his performance in Nashville when I first saw him.

My favorite part of the set was when, mid-song, Mat wandered into the crowd, singing, giving hugs and high fives to his fans (Not me, though, I wasn’t on the floor. I was too busy clinging to the railing trying to not fall). I’ve only seen one other performer do this (Michael Franti, I’m lookin’ at you) and I really REALLY love when artists do this – it makes people feel connected to get to touch musician sweat and to not feel that there’s some unbridgeable distance. I wonder if it skeeves the singers out, random people touching ’em – but that’s for them to worry about, not me.

I LOVED when he went into the crowd – and they loved it too.

Mat Kearney is an awesome musician – I love his voice and I love his music. Was it the most exciting concert ever? Well… no. I prefer in concerts for the band to knock a new spin on the favorites we already know – when a song that you’ve committed to memory is performed in a completely new way during a live show, it’s an exhilarating experience (Counting Crows are great at this – I’ve never heard them do a song the same way twice, and I’ve seen them live several times now). I wish there had been a little more variation in this performance – a break from hearing the songs the way I’m used to – but, did it make me love him any less?


If every building falls
If every star fades
We’ll still be singing this song
The one they can’t take away…

Thursday Ten: Gonna Edit Edition

1. I finally decided to take the plunge – I bought Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 today. Editing is not my strong suit when it comes to photography – I try to shoot for the image I want and minimally clean them up – but more and more, I’d like to try some other stuff with my photos, so we’ll see. It was 50% off on Amazon, so… might as well try now.

2. I’m not going to say much about the whole fiasco at Penn State except this: I am devastated for those children who were abused. Absolutely devastated. For those who think JoePa “did enough” or “did what he was supposed to do” – remember, we’re talking about a colleague who was ABUSING CHILDREN not a colleague who was stealing office supplies. There is no “enough” when it comes to the well-being of those children. Additionally, I do feel for the current Penn State football team – I have to imagine that up until this point, there was a certain level of pride in being a member of that team – and their season, through no fault of their own (and solely the fault of the coaches and administrators, some of whom were probably their heroes) is tarnished. The well-being of kids trumps football, no question about it… but the players on that team right now are still kids. It’s awfully young to realize that sometimes your heroes are not worth the worship.

3. ON A LIGHTER NOTE: I met with my sister’s stepmom to further plan her baby shower today. I’m getting very excited about the arrival of my niece. I’m looking forward to celebrating the pregnancy and letting people shower my sis with love (and baby gear).

4. First snow of the season today. Nope, I wasn’t ready. Nope, I’m not happy. Nope, I have no idea why Michigan is so stupid.
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5. Constant earworms this week. Today, was no different. I think that when I have trouble focusing my brain, I’m more prone to ear worms. I’m not sure. Perhaps because I think so much in terms of music it just happens? But, UGH, annoying.

6. Is it possible to have the winter blahs already? On the first day of snow?

7. I bought the cutest winter hat, though. It’s very fun. I still don’t like winter.

8. I saw this posted a few times in the past few days and wanted to post too – because this kid’s positivity in the face of tough experiences is so graceful and made my heart feel brighter. And like she says, if you or someone you know is having trouble or suicidal thoughts… GET HELP.

9. Rolling Stone did a reader survey of the Top Ten Dance Songs. Uh. What do you think? Is your favorite on this list?

10. Parent Teacher Conferences for Pumpkin tonight. They actually went better than I had imagined – Pumpkin is doing fabulously… if only she could slow down and write neater… (I knew the teacher was gonna say that!)

Like Hoarders – only instead of 40 ten-gallon buckets of Elmers paste, I have books.

I am a voracious reader. I should start by stating that – because it makes a difference – because unlike the lady with a basement full of packages of diapers (and no baby), my fascination with acquiring books has to do with actually really loving books and fully intending to read them all. Someday.

A few years ago, I challenged myself to read 250 books in 1,001 days. And if you’re even mediocre at math, you’ll know it averages out to about four days per book. Well, I accomplished the challenge with over a month to spare.

In the past, I would go through spells of reading and then hit a wall – I’d have read every book in the house, I had two weeks until all the magazines came (yeah, I’m hooked on magazines too), and the library wouldn’t have anything I felt like reading.

My gosh, those days I felt like I would climb the walls.

Somehow, I started to catch up with myself. I have a bookshelf full of books I have yet to read. I go to the library at least once per week these days – whether I’m out of reading material or not. I am always picking up books and stockpiling and I feel like one of those freaky couponers, except I’m not really saving any money and I’ll actually use these books.

Reading is solace to me – I can’t fall asleep at night without reading to tire my eyes and slow my brain. I love picking up a new book. I love even more to pick up a new book and find myself engrossed within the first chapter and just wanting more. The weeks when I zip through two or more books make me unbelievably giddy.

Even though I have a Kindle, I still rely mostly on “book-books” – for the smell, the feel, the heft of holding a book in my hands… doesn’t mean I don’t have three unread e-books waiting for my eyes on Kindle.

I find it reassuring to know there are so many books waiting for me, that I won’t run out, that there are pages of new characters to meet and their adventures to discover and hours of comfort and drifting off to sleep, and sigh…

I love books.

Like a big, silly book nerd.


Currently reading: Unsaid: A Novel by Neil Abramson

On deck:

Diagnosis: Earworm

I love music, and think in musical terms, and for me to get a melody, lyric or random bit from a song stuck in my head is not an unusual thing. And today? Today I’ve had Avril Lavigne’s “Wish You Were Here” stuck in my head. ALL. DAY. You know that song? The chorus is basically “Damn, damn, damn…” Anyway – the song itself isn’t rotten – it’s catchy pop. There’s a place for catchy pop. Today, the place was my head.

Nothing could get it out of my head.

Not listening to “The Thong Song.”

Not rick-rolling myself.

I think this may have done the trick, though.

This is kinda viral-ish lately because of the big to-do of the stop-motion and the jelly bean thing. Another catchy melody. (Here’s the link to the “Making Of” video).

So now Kina is stuck in my head.

Are you prone to ear worms? Do you have a go-to method for getting a song out of your head once it’s stuck? Did I just give you two new ear worms? I did? Damn, damn, damn…

Finally I don’t have to order pizza from the place that takes three hours to deliver.

Once upon a time, our family ordered pizza from one of the (oh-so-many) pizza places in town and three hours later, our pie still had not arrived. [Sidenote: I hate the term “pie” as it relates to pizza. Or pretty much everything. Pie is the brussels sprouts of the dessert world. Blech.] Three hours. Apparently the place was busy, but y’know… three hours? Really?

Fortunately, there are several other pizza places in town – but sometimes the decision to have pizza for dinner is born of impulse, of laziness – of not wanting to spend $15 or more and wait for dinner. Before Blissdom last year, I received coupons for Freschetta. Before that, I’d never had it. I’m uh, not really a fan of “freezer pizza” (as my kids call it). It’s never filling, the toppings look like dehydrated imitations of real food and the crust – my favorite part of the pizza – always tended to leave me wanting for more. By more, I mean something that resembled FOOD not cardboard.

In Nashville, I consumed muchas Freschetta. I had the opportunity to participate in a focus group, learn more about the brand, the product and try a lot of it too. And you know what? It’s good.

I’m not just talkin’ it’s good… “for freezer pizza”. It’s actually good.

Especially the crust.

Bonus points for the good crust.

Last month, Freschetta sent me another coupon for a free pizza (they also sent me super cute pink headphones – which was awesome because I had just broken YET ANOTHER PAIR of iPhone earbuds – how are those things not better quality? Don’t ask how many pairs I’ve killed – IT’S A LOT).

A four-cheese medley pizza in the oven after a long day of work? Easy. And not just easy, but yummy. And not just yummy but without whining from the kids that it was “yucky” or “didn’t taste good” or “EW! What did you make? WHAT IS THAT IN THERE?” or any of the normal gripes that normally accompany my putting a meal on the table. Gosh, kids, no wonder I hate cooking.

But, Freschetta is a win – the kids love it, I love it – it’s simple and it tastes good. Now that I’m back in the office, having a reliable back up plan for the days when cooking seems like an overwhelming task, well… that’s definitely a good thing.

The only problem? The kids love Freschetta so much they almost never save their crusts for me to eat.