Saturday, March 30, 2013

Photography Lessons Continue

I have had three more opportunities to practice my photography skills with children over the past several months, I guess it's about time I write about it. This is the area where I really want to improve and perhaps even start a small business. It's a little scary (ok a lot) because there is so much involved, but with a few more practice sessions and some courage to take a few more steps, I think I'll be ready to go!

My hope it is to create a "traveling studio" where I could come into someone's home and set up a small background and use their own toys, blankets, etc for "props." I like working with natural light best.

This is {C}, he's 8 months old:

{R} was 6 months old when I got to take these:

And {A} was only 8 weeks when these were taken:

If you know someone in the Bay Area who may be interested in a maternity, newborn, or family session, let me know! I'm always looking for volunteers!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baby Gift: Tag Blanket

When my good friend told me she was expecting a baby girl, I couldn't stop thinking of what I wanted to make for her and her new little one. I didn't quite have the capacity to make a baby quilt and I wanted to try something a little different. There were so many ideas I had, but I finally landed on a tag-blanket.

The toughest part was picking out the different textures and colors of ribbon, but I think it worked. I used flannel fabric for the green square on the front and the floral fabric on the back to add yet another opportunity to feel something different. The final size is 12 x 12.

But that couldn't be all! I also put together a few burp cloths (I've heard you can never have enough of these things). Hopefully the new mommy will enjoy using something pretty and girly for those not so pretty moments!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Handmade Cards

I had an hour to spare last Thursday night, so I dug out my craft box and made a few cards. Thought I'd share since it has been a while since I've done anything crafty! I got a few new stamps from my sister and wanted to try them out. Having new toys is always good motivation!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Curried Sweet Potato-Apple Soup

The other day I made this soup and said, "I think this is one of my favorites!" I'd made it several times and have had the recipe for a couple of years. But I had never thought to share it with you until those words came out of my mouth. So here it is. (The recipe was taken from Food Network Magazine/Sept 2010 issue and is by Claudia Sidoti for those of you who need the real source.)

3 Medium sweet potatos
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Small onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
3/4 Teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 Teaspoon Madras curry powder
Kosher salt and ground pepper
2 Cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 Cups chunky applesauce
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degree. Peel and dice 2 1/2 sweet potatoes. Melt 2 Tbs butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, nutmeg, 1 3/4 tsp curry powder, salt and pepper to taste and cook until toasted, 1 more minute.

2) Add the diced sweet potatoes, chicken broth, and 2 cups water to the pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the applesauce.  Simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup with a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

3) Meanwhile, peel and thinkly slice the remaining 1/2 sweet potato and toss with the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, 7-10 minutes.

4) Heat the remaining 1 Tbs butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 3/4 tsp curry powder and cook, stirring, until browned; remove from the heat and add the vinegar.

Pour soup into bowls, top with the curry butter, cilantro and sweet-potato chips.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Another Family Weekend

We have been blessed with all the time we've gotten to spend with different family members this winter. Last weekend was yet another opportunity! My husband's mother and grandmother drove up from Texas for a week; we met them in Monterey for the weekend. Grandma's cousin has a beach house in Monterey, which makes for a great meeting place -- and a nice little getaway.

We didn't do much, which is exactly what I needed. The previous week had been so busy that a relaxing weekend with nothing to do was just perfect! We did play a game of Mexican Train, attempted a puzzle and went for a beautiful hike in Point Lobos.

I could have watched the waves crashing into the rocks all day.

Just look at the color of that water - Gorgeous! 

A little bit of rock "climbing" for the adventurous.

It was a little on the chilly side but the sky was clear and the sun was warm. We had a great time visiting, resting, reading, and relaxing.

On the way home we stopped at a pizza place advertising gluten-free pizza crust. As soon as we saw it, I knew I couldn't go home without it. It turned out to be pretty expensive, but I enjoyed that pizza for days!

*Of course I failed to take any photos of the people we spent the weekend with...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Family Weekend (Part 2)

If you missed my first post about our adventure to the Grand Canyon, you can read it here. If you've already read it, then you are ready (and waiting) for part two. So here you go!

My sister was about 22 weeks along in her pregnancy (the first pregnancy amongst my siblings) and they decided to do a gender reveal party while the parents and my husband and I were in town. The timing was great.

Mom and Sister did most of the prep work before I had arrived so basically all I did was decorate and help get the food on the table. And then I ate. There really isn't much to share about a gender reveal party . . . except of course the gender. I'll let my photos do the talking:

 Finally time for the cutting of the cake:

I'm going to have a niece!! Congratulations Sister and Brother-in-Law!

And a few extras just for fun:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Weekend with (part) of the Family

Last weekend, we took a quick trip to Las Vegas to visit my sister. Even though we were just there a couple of months ago, I could not skip this trip.  My parents had planned a week-long visit there and I could not let my parents get that close to me without actually seeing them! I hadn't seen them since sister's wedding in January which makes this the official longest time I had gone without seeing them (13.5 months).

Anyway, it was really a whirl-wind trip but I'm still going to break it up into two posts. First, I want to share a few photos from our drive to the Grand Canyon. We took off early on Friday morning, drove five or so hours and had just three hours left of daylight to walk a mile or so of the South Rim Trail. My parents had never seen it before (I don't know if my sister had or not) so there were many stops for photos! It was so cold. I think the high that day was in the mid-thirties, which for this girl equals freezing.

Other highlights of that first day were: Eating at Sonic (a first for my parents), having the rental car stall a few times, and having a leaking toilet in our hotel room. But on the plus side, the roads were clear, the sky was blue and there were no crowds at the park. We also watched the sunset over the canyon which was pretty amazing (and oh, so cold).

After a leisurely continental breakfast we bundled up for another day at the canyon. This time we wanted to do a little more hiking. However, the hike I picked out was a little too steep and long for some. The girls turned back and walked a bit more of the Rim Trail while the men wandered down the rocky trail for half a mile or so. (I don't think they liked us girls being by ourselves). We spent the rest of the afternoon taking in the views of the different points along the rim and then headed back to Las Vegas.

We had a wonderful time all together! It was much different from the memories I have of our road-trip vacations where the car is stuffed and crowded and most of us had a hard time entertaining ourselves (because we were kids... stuck in a car). This time we had great conversations and it gave us plenty of time to catch up!

I'll be posting more photos on Facebook soon!