Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Intellectual Dancer

She's the first girl I've shot that was taller than I am. She's five eleven. She's a dancer with aspirations of majoring in physics in college. Talk about double sided brain. I told her that I've always felt like my two sides of the brain are at war with each other.....her response was "I really get that." I don't know many people that get that. She was very shy but completely adorable. Undeniably photogenic.

Lil' Pumpkin Onesie

Sometimes, often actually, I get little whims to make something. Anything. Be creative in a Martha Stewart kind of way. This was my whim today. There are babies popping up all around me right now and I spend a fair share of time around babies so this was the perfect project. All it takes is little scraps of quilting felt, Wonder Under and embroidery floss. I drew out my little design and traced it onto Wonder Under paper (you can find it at any sewing shop or hobby shop) ironed them to the felt and then cut out the little pieces. I ironed them on and then blanket stitched around them. You can learn how to blanket stitch here. I actually learned how to do that stitch from my best friends mom a few years ago while I was visiting her house in Nebraska. She's an accomplished quilter and her sewing room is like a wonderland!
You could embroider anything on it if you want. I have a more of a primitive style and keep it simple.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Perfectly Autumn

I don't have as much time these days to have photo shoots with my muse. Today I took the time. Besides, could he was looking so sharp in his little denim jacket with his long somewhat side swept hair (I love his hair right now.) that it was hard to pass up. The colors are turning here and it's absolutely gorgeous outside. So we went for a drive around town. We talked and sang. We both needed the time outside and a little vitamin A. We didn't go to the park or playground. In fact, when I'm shooting those are normally the last places I visit. We found unique and quiet areas around town.

I know he looks grown up in these....he's not. He's still two. And on the way home, I had the radio blasting and was singing along (I normally do) to "Takin' Care of Business"....and from the backseat I hear my son's beautiful voice at the top of his lungs sing "Takin' Care of CHRISTMAS!!!." I said...he's two!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Homemade Cannoli

This past weekend, before I came down with the plague (OK not really the plague, but that's what it felt like to me for the last three days.), I had the chance to help one of my very good friends make Cannoli. My Italian friend. OK, she's a quarter Italian, but that's way more than I am. (Her grandfather came over from Sicily) Actually I begged and pleaded with her to teach me how to make them. And I tell you, going into someone else's kitchen, watch them cook, make a mess, take some pictures.... it's a good gig. I think I might get into that more! Maybe I'll make a job of it. Hmmmm.

Now, if you've ever had restaurant Cannoli, it was probably hard. Really hard. Overcooked hard. At least that's my experience with it. But then, having it homemade, it's like heaven. Heaven with ricotta cheese, pistachios and little chocolate chips.

To make Cannoli you have to be able to make very, very, very, very, very thin strips. A rolling pin probably won't do the trick.
So you have to use one of these. This was my first time using a pasta roller. I'm in love with it. I need one. Now. I don't know how long I will be able to live without it.

You also need these special Cannoli rollers things. (That is the technical term for them.)
And then, after slaving away in the kitchen for hours and hours and hours .....OK just a couple hours (it's worth it though) you come out with these. Bonafide Italian Cannoli. (You want one don't you?)

So, being the kind hearted Italalian she is....she shared the recipe with me, and gave me permission to share it here. (YAY!!!!!)


4 1/2 C. ricotta cheese
1 Tbs vanilla
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. mini chocolate chips
1/2 C. chopped pistachios
Powdered sugar for dustingCombine ricotta cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and pistachios.

3 C. flour
1/4 C. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. shortening
2 Tbs. white vinegar
2 eggs, well beaten
5 Tbs. cold water (or a little more if necessary)
Vegetable oil for deep frying

Sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut shortening in with pastry blender until the pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in eggs. Blend in the vinegar and water. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat oil in deep saucepan. Roll dough to 1/8" thick through pasta roller. Wrap dough loosely around cannoli tubes. Fry until light golden brown. Put on paper towel to drain. Cool and remove tubes. Fill shells with filling from both ends. Dust with powdered sugar and sprinkles if desired.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Afternoon at the Ranch

On this offical last day of summer, I spent the afternoon with a sweet little thing at my favorite ranch. I'm very blessed to know people that live there and over the years have spent wonderful times there. It's one of my favorite places to go and I jump and any chance to visit. Today I was so happy to share its beauty with her. It was just her style!

I Heart Farmers Market

There's something wonderful I've found on Saturday mornings in the fall. Farmers Market. I always go really early (because I'm awake and normally rearing to go then and because not many people are there and it's serene and quiet) Since we live close to Colorado, the greenies bring their produce up and we have a really nice assortment of vendors. It's smells wonderful. A mix of homemade bread and roasting peppers and hot drinks. It smells like fall. Someone is normally playing a guitar on the corner. I've seen painters oiling up canvas to paint the scene. I would love just to sit all morning and listen and maybe read a book or drink my coffee or sketch it all out whilst everyone mingles and barters around me. Alas...I don't normally have the time.

And to make up for stealing my carrots... these were a gift from the thief. All is forgiven now! They were grown in a mold from a farm in Wheatland.

I just mixed in a little balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar with dry ranch dip mix. Threw in some sour cream and a little parsley. Viola. Love-like cucumbers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Annual Garden Party

I never spent much time in the garden growing up. In fact, I don't recall even having a garden. (I'm sure I will get a phone call about that fact later) So, I guess harvesting wasn't a big part of my childhood. Now, well, it's my favorite time of year. Harvest time. Autumn. I know I droll on and on about how I love the summer...but really, my most beloved time of year is the fall. Even though it just a for warning to winter, it's still nearest to my heart as far as seasons are concerned. Gardening in the fall also makes me feel closer to my farmer family roots. It's just a little taste of what both of my families did for lively hood. No, I don't have to go out and milk a cow at 4:00 in the morning, nor do I have to plow 1000 acres of beets, but I do get to pick 5 square feet of carrots, which just makes me feel the itty bitty-est farmer like.

I had a little help this year. He can hold quite a lot.... it's nice to have a human basket following me around and carry it back to the house. I could get used to that!

(certain uncles out there...don't get any ideas about the carrots, they're mine.)

PS if you type in "garden party" in the search blog area, you can see what our garden party looked like last year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Futile Fruit

Throughout the years I've found some foods just to be completely worthless. Like habanero peppers. Does one need to be eating something that after it's swallowed you could spit fire across the table? That should have blinking warning signs in the grocery store about it's radioactive heat. Not to mention just touching one will give you a heat rash for days to follow. And believe me, milk doesn't do the trick quite as well when you're trying to get the burning to stop on the arms. (Yes, I tried it) Well, I've found another pointless food. The cactus pear. It looks nice doesn't it? Looks like it could taste good? Well it's not nice and it doesn't taste good. Well it might if it didn't have exactly 3,258,263 seeds in each little bite. But the has microscopic cactus needles that you will be picking out of your hand for 8 days if you handle it with naked fingers. (Can you guess what I've been doing for the last 8 days?)

The pomegranate is another "kind of" futile food. Though I really want to love it. It's so pretty and smells delightful. I love everything pomegranate....juice, lip gloss, lotion. But whenever I buy one and dream of what I will do with doesn't seem as dreamy when I cut into it.

And this is how I usually end up eating it.

A Thief

The thing about having relatives living in the same town as you, is that sometimes, when you're gone, they raid your refrigerator. Then when you want's gone. And then you stomp your foot and shake your fists and yell into thin air about how unfair it is for someone to be able to steal things from your frigidaire. "Those darn relatives" you say.

I had my carrots stolen recently. Mainly because I didn't have the patience at farmers market earlier in the week for him (my brother-in-law) to talk on his phone (which should be implanted into his ear) and walk CLEAR to the other end of the market, just for carrots. (It would have taken at least an hour) I told him he could have a couple of mine. A couple. Sooooo, he stole mine. ALL of them. While I was out of town. Unable to guard my veggies. Sooooo, I had to dig some up from the garden. I tromped out to my garden, still mumbling under my breath of how I should just be able to go to my fridge and get my already peeled carrots. Not out here in the frigid cold digging in the dirt. I was also dreading what I would find. In the past my carrots have been meek and little. But to my surprise they were huge (well in my eyes they were.) Thank goodness they were good sized, otherwise I might have to put a pad lock on my fridge.

(By the way, the carrots he stole were used to cook a beautiful dinner of turkey breast covered in broth and spicy veggies.... so I'll let it slide for now....)

And this is what I made with the freshly dug carrots. John's Fried Rice. A man named John gave me the recipe. (can't tell that by the title can you?) He loves to share his food and recipes with people, so I thought I would pass it along. It's amazing. I always have it immediately after cooking a little ham. It's the best way to use it up.

Here's how to make it:

You'll need

5 or 6 pieces of uncooked bacon chopped
2 large carrots chopped
2 large stalks of celery chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cups of cooked rice (I always use brown rice)
couple big handfuls of ham chopped
1 scrambled egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon for a few minutes. It doesn't need to be burnt. Throw in the veggies for about 5 more minutes. Mix in rice and soy sauce. Cook for 2 or three minutes. Add ham and scrambled egg. Cook until ham is warm. Add salt and pepper. Eat it up!!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Big Brown's

He had em' too. Those melt your heart brown eyes. Not to mention some pretty captivating looks. At 9 months he's already a heart breaker with his very own pumpkin patch and corn field!!!! (talk about making my job easy!)

More From The Road

These boys were "all boy." I had fun trying to keep up with them! The oldest with his gorgeous brown eyes (more brown eyed kiddos!) and the middle one with irresistible dimples. The baby and her darling blues melted my heart.