Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter in MN

Haven't been blogging much this year. What with work, my husband being in school, and trying to deal with all the stress, I haven't had a lot of time on my hands. But I thought I would share a couple photos of my adorable Depression-Era neighborhood from this winter:

If it were any cuter it would be Narnia. Just sayin'.

I took these in back in December, when it was a balmy 15 °.  At the moment it is 0°, and is supposed to drop down to at least -17° tonight. Tad cold for a stroll...

I like this gate. I'd like it even more if owners didn't have tacky peace sign mosaics and a strange "book sharing"/library box outside their home. I think they might be hippies. 
At least they have a cute side-gate.

My footprints, of course. 
<3 snow

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Photo questions #1

Calling all photographers/people who enjoy taking photos!

Recently I have been learning to make better use of my  camera, but by no means do I fully understand this whole photography thing. Apparently there is more to it than:

"Oooo...pretty flower"





Freshman year of college I took black and white photography using an old 35mm film camera. Dark room and all. My hands smelled like developing fluid for the next quarter and a half, and my negatives always seemed to be out of order. But the real fun was trying to jam the film into that wonky black container by feel...
All of this was a piece of cake compared to figuring out all the buttons and knobs on the Nikon my family gave me as a graduation present a few years later. I am lucky enough, however, to have a friend who was willing to answer lots of stupid questions, and a computer genius husband who showed me the basics of editing. That being said I am most certainly still a beginner.

So...I have have answers.

Or at least I hope you have answers, and are willing to share. :)

Here's my first question:

This is a photo I took at a friend's wedding a couple weeks ago. I like it...except for one thing...

I'm sure you've noticed that the left side of his vest is extremely sparkly. Whatever it was made of was disastrously reflective. I was able to tone it down a bit by raising the black point, reducing the amount of red, and lowering the highlights. These adjustments only made a dent in the blaring glittery-ness that is his vest. I would like to reduce the sparkle by about 75%, so we have a black vest with a little glisten from the sun, not a huge patch of fairy dust ( I edit with Aperture, by the way).
Is there a way to isolate that patch and bring it down a notch? Is there a way to avoid this problem altogether? If I were to take this photo again how might I shoot it better?

Feel free to pipe in! Any input is greatly appreciated!
Thanks, guys!

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Look!

My blog has a new look! I decided it needed to be a tad more polished. The header photo is a camisole I designed, modeled by my knitting/designing buddy, Jessica from Still need to work up that pattern...
Anyhow, I've got more posts on the way, it's just that all those pesky photos need to be downloaded and edited so I don't bore everybody to tears. I guess I'm just a binge blogger when it comes to pictures. I like to shoot a bunch of projects before I go to the trouble of editing them. Then once I've got a nice queue of posts they get released periodically.
In my defense my poor old macbook is bogged down with loads of photos and enough English papers to sink a ship. Time to start putting them on my husband's computer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sweet Vanilla Coconut Butter

I got the idea for making this from Chocolate Covered Katie's blog, although my recipe has more ingedients. This stuff is really rich, but so delicious! I currently have some lumps of it in the freezer, waiting to be put on a stick and coated in chocolate.
I suppose you could probably spread it on bread like peanut butter, if you really wanted. Might make a nice filling for a cake or sandwich cookie too!

approx. 5-6 cups unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
1/3 coconut milk or coconut oil
the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1/3 organic cane sugar

Dump ingredients in a food processor and blend until it forms a sticky dough. If you want it thinner add more coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mild pesto

Pesto is such a potent sauce. I LOVE LOVE LOVE basil, but wasn't sure how I would feel about it in as large a quantity as pesto usually calls for. Here's something a little milder, but still smooth, creamy, and very bright green. :) The secret ingredient is coconut milk! Don't worry, the basil covers up any coconut taste. It's a tad cheaper than pine nuts, and more likely to be found in your pantry. The resulting texture is something like green alfredo sauce. Very yummy!

approx. 1 cup packed basil leaves (Any kind will do. I haven't tried it with sweet basil, but I think it would be really nice)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2- 2/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 clove of garlic

Rinse basil leaves. Put all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. If you want you can add a little more olive oil or coconut milk to made it thinner. Makes about 1 1/4 cup. Serve over hot pasta (With parmesan and more pepper, of course!). Refrigerate or freeze to store.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sugar free, dairy free hot chocolate

Near Christmas time a year and a half ago, back when my husband and I were still dating, I visited him at his sister's house and she made the best hot chocolate I had ever had. Unfortunately James could not drink it because of the high sugar content, and I technically shouldn't have either because it had a TON of dairy. I drank it anyway. Then I asked for the recipe and made it for my family. Then I almost threw up.
But boy was it delicious!

I wanted it so bad... I came up with a similar recipe which both of us could drink safely:

4 cups almond milk (May contain some cane sugar. Check the label first)
1 can coconut milk (Lite works too, but for some reason it tends to separate from the almond milk. I recommend the full-fat kind)
1/3 cup Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Whisk ingredients together over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Serve hot.

Someone told me it tastes like cupcakes. :)
I love the combination of flavors and that I can drink it without getting sick!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Decadent Sea Salt Brownies

I bought this bag of chocolate chips one time which had a really great brownie recipe on the back. Naturally it was packed full of sugar. It sounded so good, so I did what I always do: adapted it.
Here is my slightly healthier version.

1 cup dark chocolate or carob chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable  or coconut oil
1/2 honey
1/2 walnuts (optional)
Hershey's syrup 
course sea salt 

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt dark chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl for 1 min. Stir until melted completely. Add flour, eggs, baking powder, salt, honey, and vegetable oil. Stir in milk chocolate chips and nuts. Spread batter into 8X8 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm topped with a drizzle of Hershey's syrup and a sprinkling of sea salt.