Archives for October 2012

The last minute and 49 seconds of Ani DiFranco’s “32 Flavors” is one of my favorite parts of a song ever.

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No point.

Just that.

And a picture.

Silencing Inner Voices

Recently, in an attempt to get a hold on what direction I want to go with in photography  and in trying to launch a successful business, I have been working with a dear friend and creative spirit – Toni, who is the creator and founder and queen of all things Makearoo.

One of the key challenges Toni has issued is that I am to write a bio for my photography website.

And it’s a challenge that has stopped me in my tracks time and time again. I did hit a point where I did a bit of freewriting about it – describing myself, my shooting style, what I loved about photography, though none of it truly made a cohesive bio and I never revisited that copy in order to make edits. Instead, I left it dying on the side of the road gasping for breath.

{I just equated my bio copy with road kill. I think you can see why I may have a problem here.}

In my head, when it comes to photography – or my other various creative pursuits – I’m often hearing this voice, “Who do you think you are?” As I hear so frequently, Anyone with a camera thinks they’re a photographer so… why am I special? Why am I different? Why SHOULD you hire me over that guy or that girl or so and so?

Writing – and clicking publish – on my bio takes it out of this realm of WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE and puts those words squarely into the WELL THIS IS EXACTLY WHO I THINK I AM category.

And I don’t know.

This has been a huge undertaking – and one that has been such a challenge for me that surely there is deeper root than just…laziness. There’s a reason somehow, somewhere that I don’t want to show too much confidence, seem too uppity, act as though I think I’m all that.

The thing is.

I have an eye for capturing moments – having that eye? That can’t be taught in any class or from any book.

I know this to be true. I know that in every shoot, I have that moment where I know to the very core of my being: This is it. I’ve got this. This is THE image that will define this shoot for me.

And so somehow, I have to take that point and wrap my words around it.

I don’t know where my fear is rooted – that I feel I need to slap myself down before someone else does. I wish it’d go away. I wish that I could sell my work and my art with confidence. I know I’ll give you photographs that you’ll be proud of and treasure – what I don’t know is how to put that into words.

Those people who walk through life with that bit of bounce and that certainty that THEY can do exactly what needs to be done? I wish I had some of what they had. That bit of (god, I so hate this word) swagger. I wish I didn’t feel apologetic when I felt proud of my work, as though it was unwarranted. Because… I’ve done a lot of work that I love. I have taken pictures that I swoon over.

This week it is my mission to unapologetically tell that voice in my head asking just “who I think I am” to STFU.

Can I do it?

Well. I have to.

It’s important to me. I would love to spend more time with a camera in my hand. I would love to be able to express to others why I know I would give them great photographs that they’ll treasure (“Because I said so…” doesn’t seem a legit answer in business).

And it is Toni’s hope, and mine as well – that leaping over this hurdle will be the start of a series of positive chain reactions.

I can do this. I know I can.

I just wish it wasn’t so difficult.

Kitchen Through The Lens: Dutch Baby

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I wasn’t going to do a cooking project this week. I was NOT going to do a cooking project this week. I went to the grocery store Friday afternoon and I didn’t even TAKE A LIST WITH ME DANGIT. I didn’t plan a menu for the week, I had no rhyme or reason to my shopping trip, and I certainly wasn’t going to pick up a ton of ingredients I don’t have on hand already to make something for this project.

Which sounds really grumpy, doesn’t it? I love this project. I love making new stuff. But sometimes you think, “Well… what if I spend $x on super-special ingredient and then I never use it again? THAT WOULD SUCK.”

And then today I felt like garbage and for grins, I googled the recipe for a Dutch baby pancake and behold!

I had all of the ingredients already.

Egg-cellent start to dinner

Butter, milk, eggs, flour, salt, powdered sugar.

The recipe called for whole milk. I can’t tell you when I’ve ever had whole milk in my fridge (you drink it with a fork, right?).

I also added a small dash of almond extract to the batter because really? IT MAKES THINGS YUMMIER.

Puff Baby

A few minutes of mixing stuff, thirty minutes of baking and voila.


This was amazingly easy. Way easier than stupid regular pancakes which are boring.

A squeeze of lemon juice on top, a sprinkling of powdered sugar and this was heavenly.

(The taste actually calls to mind French toast more than an actual pancake, in my opinion)

A slice of puffy pancake happiness

For the littlest kiddo, I also heated up some sausage to serve along with the pancake and it was a perfect night of breakfast for dinner.

The kids were impressed and hey, I still haven’t missed a week of making somethin’ new.

Let’s see what I can wrangle up next week. I’m thinkin’…tacos. Who’s in?

Thursday Ten: Distributive WHUT? edition

1. A woman I know who is a teacher once told me that we should never tell our children, “I’m so bad at math!” lest they think to themselves, “Well, mom can’t do it and she turned out fine so I don’t need to!” So, when The Princess came to me with math homework that was troubling her the other day, and I couldn’t remember how to do it… I turned to Google. And now, I completely rock distributive property – and better yet: So does The Princess!

2. I joke that I’m bad at math but the reality is not that I’m bad with numbers or I just don’t get it – it’s that I don’t use it much anymore. I’m a former engineering student, for crying out loud. I know how to do math. I just like words better than numbers.

3. Lovely day yesterday with temps in the 70. And the day before, another rainy day. I get tired of the rain sometimes – but it beats the hell out of the thought of snow. I dread the thought of winter.
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4. New music this week? Well, it’s all freaking new because moving everything onto a different computer makes everything show up as new stuff… I downloaded Jukebox the Ghost’s “Somebody” and also an album by Tame Impala that was recommended to me.

5. Fun favorite new website? Emergency Compliment. And just now? It told me that my blog was the best blog. Hm. Works for me.

6. World Series. I’ve lived in Michigan longer than I lived in California, but as a non-baseball fan, developing an allegiance to either team at this point seems fakey and fair-weather-fan-ish. Can I just root for whoever is winning?

7. My cousin gets married this weekend and I’ll be shooting at her rehearsal dinner tomorrow. Love that she’ll have lanterns to release. Hope the weather plays nicely. Uh. Probably not that many lanterns.
lights in the night

8. I’m the only one on my mom’s side of the family who can bake. I’m also apparently the only one who can read a cereal box, as I made a batch of rice crispy squares last night for my mom to take into her office today (it’s her boss’s fave – and as I’ve been in several times for bake sales and that’s always been what he’s bought. Oh well. It took five minutes and shhhh… don’t tell her but I ate a bunch of marshmallows in the process.

9. Is it election day yet? The petty backbiting and name calling and finger pointing is making me grumpy. Also – I’m not registered to any particular political party so I’m getting A LOT of junk mail (They all think they can win me but they can’t). At least one piece of political garbage in the mail each day. Yuck. Poor trees.

10. I want to make a list – 40 Before 40. I have four years to accomplish it – so what should be on the list?

Kitchen Through the Lens: Pesto


I knew this food processor would be fun.

As The Princess said the other day when I started getting the ingredients out to make pesto, “How is this thing any different than a blender, really?”



I kind of figured pesto wasn’t that difficult to make – I mean, shoot, the ingredients are simple: basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and some salt and pepper (this recipe varies slightly from the one I used – in that it uses Pecorino instead of Parmesan, but, the proportions are the same, so… have at it).

Basically, you toss everything into the food processor, pulse it up nice and pretty and BAM. Done.

I’ll never buy store bought pesto again. Store bought pesto tastes oily and gross and just… too salty. I love having the control over what goes in, how much. And as much as I love garlic, I miiiiiight reduce the garlic next go round.


Yes. That red lid is from the parmesan cheese. I didn’t buy fresh parmesan. I went the lazy way and bought the pre-shredded stuff because I can’t find my cheese grater and I wasn’t sure if the processor would process it or if it would leave cheese clumps and cheese clumps, that doesn’t sound yummy. Well, to me anyway.

Now that you have your pesto, what can you do with it? Obviously, you can put it on pasta.

What did I do with it? I made a basic pizza dough (from scratch. This is one of my favorite uses for my breadmaker – if you are inept with yeast doughs, your breadmaker does the whole thing while you sit on the couch and watch the Michigan/Michigan State game). I rolled the dough onto a pizza pan, spread a thin layer of pesto on it (remember that oil in your pesto? You’re not gonna want a ton on your pizza), threw on some mozzarella and some parmesan cheese (there’s already parm in your pesto also, so think of the saltiness factor when you’re adding it to the toppings), and then sprinkled some browned Italian sausage on top of that. Bake until the dough is not gross and the cheese is nice and golden. Voila. Delish.

Hey. I’m totally learning how to cook. Who’d have thought?


Don’t like pizza? Here are some more ideas for what you can make with your pesto – fifty ideas, to be exact.

Something’s Gotta Give.

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“If you see a whole thing – it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives… But up close a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern.”

– Ursula LeGuin


Last night, the doorbell rang just after 9 and I cautiously flicked on the porch light, peered into darkness. No one was there. I looked down and there was a plastic pumpkin. We’d been “Boo’d”. Turns out, one of Pumpkin’s friends (and her parents, I’m presuming) Boo’d nearly every house with kids in the neighborhood. It was a fun gesture – this pink plastic pumpkin full of candy, and my kids were overjoyed and spent this afternoon looking for people to “boo” back. Me? It just makes me tired to think about.

More and more these days, I think about how I want to spend the time that isn’t committed to things already. I have hours dedicated to my full time job, I have hours committed to the commute to and from. I have the time I spend with my children, providing them with love and providing them with care. I have the time I spend working out. The time I spend trying to keep my house from looking like an episode of Hoarders. And with the time that remains, I try to fill it with people and things and places that make me happy.

And some things don’t. There are projects I still do out of obligation – projects that used to bring me a lot more joy than I get these days. Things I used to do because I had more time but now that I don’t. I mean, even my workout regimen has had to take on an altered status because it’s hard to find time for it like I used to. I accept that, it’s life and it happens. But with the decrease in free time comes a shift in priorities and a need to figure out how to get things done and just what things are worth my time.

I would love to take a pair of scissors into the fabric of my life and hack giant holes into the pieces that don’t work, and patch those holes with things I like better, prettier fabrics, and trim up the whole chaotic mess with grosgrain ribbon and maybe it won’t look nice or make sense but it will be mine and it will work somehow.

Maybe I could cut out some of these joyless pieces and replace them with camera pieces. Fun time with my kid pieces. Laughing with friends pieces. Because the joy-sucking pieces of life are making the rest of things look bad. And they’re making me tired.

Thursday Ten: A Little Bit Older Edition

1. I still haven’t gotten too wigged out about the fact that I’m another year older and THAT MUCH closer to 40. I guess I had such a great day that it’s hard to even see the negative of it. And y’know, the saying goes “It beats the alternative”… and I guess that’s really true. I am excited finally about the year ahead.

2. My mom’s birthday gift to me? A food processor. And I think The Princess may well be a little more excited than I am. No idea what food we’ll process first – but I’m looking forward to it. Because I am a dork.

3. We’ll see how long it takes me to injure myself on a food processor blade.

4. I finally went to the library last week. I picked up a stack of books. I have read MAYBE 30 pages in the past week. I miss reading. WHY IS EVERYTHING WRITTEN SO BADLY?

5. When my laptop crashed a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to borrow one to use in the interim until I can replace mine. But, now I need to try to salvage some of the stuff on the computer by moving the garbage from one computer to another. How hard can it be, right? Anyone want to play tech support as I break ALL OF THE THINGS?

6. Soooo, Saturday – Michigan – Michigan State game. This is always a fun one in my family – not that we watch it together. I’m a huge Michigan fan, and my sister is  a State fan (no, we’re not really sure how that happened). Here’s hoping that this year Michigan wins because a) it’s just better that way, and b) I really want to gloat about it.

7. I scored 111 points on the word “JUTE” in a game of Words With Friends this morning. For some of you, that’s not a huge deal because you are full of awesomeness and you win every game that you play (especially if you’re playing against me), but hitting that J on the triple letter with a triple word score and when I saw that word score come up, I was probably a bit more giddy than I should have been. [Note: I will likely still lose that game. Because that’s what I do.]

8. Does anyone even use Klout anymore? I haven’t looked at it in ages, but I just got a notification this morning that one of my favorite peeps gave me an +K in “cookie”. That’s way better than the time Klout decided I had +K in Hitler because I was reading In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, and tweeting about it. Yeah, cookies > Hitler.

9. My best friend and I decided last week that we would finally hang all of the photos I’d printed and framed. I had a plan in place – a way I visualized them hanging, in what order. She brought over a level and we measured and made pencil marks and did math. And then we realized the nails were too short and we did the math wrong. I think we have it figured out now, but I’ll be tracing my frames on paper first, and taping them on the wall for placement first before I go putting any nails in. Maybe I should just stick to taking the pictures.

10. I think I have given up on current television. I barely even pay attention when Project Runway is on anymore and last night I caught ten minutes of some show about country music and I was like, “How did the nice lady from Friday Night Lights end up in this weird mess with the blond girl with such big teeth?” Meh. Maybe I’ll stick to Netflix.

Another Trip Around the Sun

watching the sun rise

Last year my birthday was rough. I remember feeling sad and down for most of the day – remembering wanting the day to be something different, and crying. I cried. Repeatedly.

I was raised to believe birthdays are a big deal – and maybe that makes me a pain in the ass to most people – but it’s just the way my mom’s side of the family is. I have this memory of waking one morning on my birthday when I was younger, and finding a stuffed Paddington Bear waiting for me on the dining table. It seems like that from the beginning of the day, the birthday person was special, the day was special.

I was dreading this birthday.

Life has been a little wonky lately, to say the least – a lot of change.

And this is when my friends decided they would step in.

And as a result, today has been one of the best days I can remember having in a very long time.

I stood outside this morning watching the sun come up with tears in my eyes and dread for the day ahead of me. I sit on my sofa at nearly 11 p.m. this evening feeling special, cared for and just blessed beyond belief that my friends and family took time out of their day to make sure I knew I was thought of – and that two (my Barbara and my Debbie) went above and beyond to ensure that this day was special for me, that I would feel special.

A gazillion messages on Facebook, texts, phone calls, enough baked goods to feed my office, presents (including Sharpies!), a birthday cake made by The Princess and plastic jewelry given to me by Pumpkin and at the end of this day, this day I am another year older, I realize that this year I haven’t given as much thought to the age and feeling old as I have to feeling blessed.  How lucky am I to have people who care about me?


Debbie called me tonight after dinner. I was wearing my birthday tiara and sitting in a chair by the window and I tried and failed once more to explain how much it meant to me, this birthday extravaganza of theirs for me. And every time I tried, I could feel my voice shake and crack and tears fill my eyes.

You think, after a certain point in your life, that you’ve met everyone you’re going to meet and that all the roles for the central characters in your life have been cast by people you’ve met in earlier places. And then you find you’re wrong. And in your thirties, you find that you are making some of the strongest friendships you have ever had in your life – and they’re stronger because of who you become in your 30s.

(The ways we change once we hit 30 is probably another post in itself)

So I’m glad I was wrong – I’m glad that at 36 (gah) my life is still being enriched with phenomenal people. I’m grateful for these people and for the greatest gift of all – their friendship.

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Through the Kitchen Lens: Hasselback Potatoes

It's hard to make potatoes look interesting

Making something with potatoes this week was a no brainer because I had bought a bag for last week’s mashed potato endeavor and have you ever smelled potatoes when they go bad? It’s kind of awful. I can’t let that happen. I had to use them up.

Hasselback potatoes are something I originally saw on a blog – or maybe it was Pinterest. Either way, the look of them appealed to me, and it seemed that with all of the slits cut into the top of the potato, it would eliminate that common dilemma of baked potatoes: the not-all-the-way-cooked middle of the potato.

[Note: I keep wanting to add an “e” to the end of “potato”. I know it doesn’t belong, but my fingers keep typing it.]

These are surprisingly easy – though they take awhile. I imagine they’d be a great side dish with, well… dang near anything. Today, I made it as a stand alone dish – and it was lunch. I kind of love the chance to cook on the weekends – partly because I’m not rushed after a long day of work, and partly because with autumn in full swing, the days are getting darker sooner and I don’t have as much natural light to photograph what I’m cooking.

I didn’t take many photographs while making this. Why? Because they’re potatoes. It’s hard to make a potato look interesting until it’s… SOMETHING.

So, you wash off the potato, peel it, dunk it in cold water, cut a bazillion slits in the top, add butter and sea salt, cook, add more butter, add breadcrumbs, broil, and then ADD MORE BUTTER.

The end result was heavenly.

I’ll definitely make these again. I can see adding some onion to them, maybe even some roast garlic? I just saw a recipe for these in this month’s Food Network magazine – it incorporated bacon. Bacon isn’t quite MY thing, but if it’s yours you may wanna track it down.

Long story short: Potatoes + butter = good.

File this one in the win column.

Hasselback Potatoes

Kitchen Through The Lens: Mashed Potatoes

let's start at the beginning

I wasn’t gonna make anything this week.

I got overwhelmed being away last weekend – and thus not grocery shopping – and having no real plan for meal preparation for the week.

And then I had a really long day at work one day and decided that the ONLY THING that could even make it a tiny bit better is a huge heaping bowl of mashed potatoes.

I don’t know if I’ve ever made real mashed potatoes before. I remember my mom buying (gah) instant potatoes when I was a kid. I know that for the big events, the potatoes were always real, but someone else always made them.

Thus, I ended up googling recipes for mashed potatoes.


You would too if you were me.

So, uh, I ended up on the Cooking Light website.

I know what y’all are saying to yourselves: WHAT? Light mashed potatoes? HAVE YOU BEEN SNIFFING GLUE?
No, but… you have to start somewhere and that somewhere might as well be a less artery clogging start.

The recipe called for boiling potatoes. Then draining the water, adding butter, some chicken broth, some milk and some sour cream.

But see… I didn’t measure. I just threw it all in my KitchenAid mixing bowl, blended and then KEPT TASTING until it was perfect (more sour cream… a little more sour cream… I think maybe just a tiny bit more sour cream. There. Got it. GOOD).

It was such an in-exact process I couldn’t even begin to tell you – but!

Potatoes. So, just add the ingredients in a way that makes sense and sample sample sample.

Also, make them earlier in the day when natural lighting makes them look more appetizing. Fall weather is hell on this project.

Next week! Something else with potatoes because HEY! I BOUGHT A BIG BAG OF POTATOES, Y’ALL.

mashed potatoes