I'm in a Southern State of Mind

Hey ya'll (oh, I went there).  I had a work trip that brought me to Knoxville, Tennessee and I must say, I LOVED IT!  It was so green, there was so much water, I loved the southern hospitality and the sweet tea....oh man....it didn't disappoint!  Since I've been back, I've been dreaming about that sweet tea!  My preference was half sweet tea and half unsweet.  

For those of you that are loyal readers, you've seen me mention my grandma Helen.  She was a big part of my childhood, since she watched my brother and I while my parents worked.  In summer, she always made sun tea.  She had that same jug and it was often sitting outside in the sun, brewing up that amber gold tea.  

I decided to attempt to recreate that sweet southern tea, using decaf Liptons (avoiding caffeine since I'm pregnant) and steeping it in the sun.  It was fun for Lucy, too!

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 of your favorite tea bags
  • Container for brewing
  • Water 
  • Agave
  • Lemon - meyer lemon is my favorite
  • Rubber band - wide enough for the top of the container
  • Plastic wrap

DIRECTIONS

Add water to the container, about a quart.  Take all tea bags strings and put them over the lip of the container.  Put plastic wrap over the strings and rubber band them secure.  Let the bags steep for 2-4 hours, depending on the strength of tea you want.  Add Agave or honey to the finished tea in 1/4 cup increments to your liking (I ended up using 1/2 cup).  Squeeze lemon into the mixture, to your preference (I used one whole meyer lemon).

Pour over ice and ENJOY!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day...with a twist

Strawberry rhubarb deconstruct pie-22.jpg

Are you all familiar with food days?  It seems that almost every day is a different national food day...Coconut Cream Pie Day, Caramel Corn Day....basically anything you can think of (ok, I made those two up).  Bottom line, it's kind of fun to get me out of my regular cooking and baking box and getting me cooking and baking different things.  Well, today is Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day!  I wanted to do something a little different, inspired by my grandma Helen.  

Many of you know, grandma Helen was a hell of a baker.  She was born and raised in my favorite apple orchard and as a result, she could make a mean apple pie.  For those of you that have ever made a pie from scratch, you know there is always left over pie dough.  She always rolled it out on a cookie sheet and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar and it was a little added bonus.  I decided to take that and make a deconstructed Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!  And man oh man....it paid off!

* Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package pre made pie dough (or your favorite homemade recipe if you're feeling up to it)
  • Cooking spray
  • Cinnamon and sugar mixture (I always have a jar around pre-mixed, use whatever ratio you like)
  • 3 c rhubarb, sliced into about dime sized pieces
  • 2 3/4 c strawberries cut into similar sized pieces
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • juice of half lemon
  • 1 tbl salted butter

DIRECTIONS

Spray cooking spray onto two cookie sheets, put rolled out pie dough on the sheet.  Add a quick spray of cooking spray on the surface of the pie dough and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture all over it.  If it's not applied evenly, use your hands to smooth it out.  Cut into chip shapes. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Next put all the remaining ingredients in a pot on top of the stove on medium heat.  Stir regularly to ensure even cooking and not burning the bottom.  Cook about 15-20 minutes, until the rhubarb has broken down.  

Serve warm or cool, using the pie chips as a scoop!  SOOOO GOOD!

* Filling inspiration recipe www.thebewitchinkitchen.com

Photography and Me

Hey all!  

I haven't done a blog post like this before, but here I am going to talk directly to you, my audience, and give you the low down on my philosophy on photography.  

Fairy Lucy

As many of you know, I started taking pictures at a very young age and it has carried through my whole life.  I don't think I'm particularly unique, especially now that cell phones have great cameras, but when I grew up, we had actual film and we couldn't see what the picture looked like, until we got the film developed.  Man, have things changed.  I give a lot of the credit for my interest in photography to my grandmother, who had a great eye, and my father, who considered going "pro" before he and my mom got married.  I got into it more formally out of necessity for a job that I had as the Sales and Marketing Manager at Watsonville Coast Produce.  Then I had a baby and it seemed like I never put my camera down (poor Lucy).  

My photography philosophy is as follows:

  • Currently shoot on a Canon 5DMarkiii
  • I shoot in manual mode with RAW files
  • I prefer natural light, to artificial, though I always have a light handy if needed
  • Super "posey" pics aren't my favorite (even though Buster Posey is my favorite baseball player)
  • I use Adobe Lightroom to edit all photos, but I don't like to photoshop the heck out of pictures. I take a BUNCH of pictures, if there's an unflattering one, I won't use it.  If you're looking for photos that don't look like you, I'm not your gal.  I think you are beautiful, just the way you are.

Let's touch on the Canon vs Nikon debate.  I don't really have a say on that.  I simply use a Canon because that's what I learned on.  Cameras, at the level that I'm using them, have comparable models in both brands.  My next camera purchase will probably be a mirrorless Sony 7aiii.  It has a smaller body than the camera I'm using, they have good lenses available for them now, and they're great for video, which I have some interest in.

RAW files vs JPEG.  RAW has WAY more data...period.  When you shoot in JPEG it's formatting the file for you in the camera, therefore, discarding some of the information in the initial photo and it can't be recovered. I edit all photos in Adobe Lightroom and I like having all the information available.

Natural light.  This is not rocket science. It is how we see the world on a regular basis.  We know how it will look, where it will be shine, and how to manipulate it (like with a tree to create shade or a reflector to bounce light), while still creating something beautiful.  Artificial light can create funky shadows, weird colored light (too blue, too yellow, etc), and yet it's completely necessary.   We may not have the time in our schedule to get the time of day we need for a particular shoot.  In another scenario, we may have that "golden hour" light, but we need it for an hour and a half and we only get it in nature for 30-45 minutes.  Or maybe it's winter and it's raining, but we need to take some pictures.  You get my drift.  Natural light better.  Artificial may be required.

Family Photography

In regards to posing...you all know those studio shots that I'm talking about and look super uncomfortable.  The arm is stiff and you'd never normally put it there, your sitting on your leg funny, or something like that.  In my shoots, I give direction, but I like to see how you all interact with each other.  Some of the best photos in my shoots are the ones where you are all being you! You know the camera is there, so you're still smiling, but you're tossing your son in the air, or laughing at an awkward smile moment...to me...that's where the magic happens.

Lastly, editing.  You've all seen it: the too narrow torso, the legs that aren't really that long, etc.  I don't do that kind of editing.  If you want to look thinner, go to the gym or put the brownie down.  Everyone knows what you look like and it's about showing that in it's best light.  I do fix the zit that decided to show up the morning of the shoot or add a glow or color manipulation to create a style you're looking for.  

That's a lot of reading, but that's my photography philosophy and if you think what you've read here is what you're looking for, reach out!  I'd love to work with you!

Let's talk about "Wine Rules"

Ling Cod fish and Red wine

You've all heard it before: chicken or fish goes with white wine.  Red meat goes with red wine.  Well, I'm here to tell you, I think it's all bullsh*t.  There are SOOO many factors to consider...and your personal preference is a big part of it.

Is the chicken served in a rich white gorgonzola sauce?  Does the fish have sour cream and smoked salsa on it?  These things all impact the flavor profile of the dish and change the range of wines that can accompany it.  

Here's my ROT (rule of thumb):

  1. If you like white wine, have it, with whatever the heck you want.  Same goes for red.
  2. If you want to talk flavors and what technically GOES with a meal, think about fat content and how "big" the flavors of that meal are.  The bigger the flavors, the bigger the wine flavors need to be to hold up to it.  A couple things to note about big wine flavors:
    1. Acid
    2. Earthy
    3. Fruit forward
    4. Dark fruit or bright fruit
    5. Smokey
  3. Sweet wines are not ONLY for dessert!  If they're balanced, meaning have a nice acid to compliment the sweetness, it can provide a really smooth drinking experience that can go with spicy and asian food.  
  4. Let's talk about temperature.  Whites served TOO cold will mask the fruit flavors...but if it's 95 degrees outside, grab a Sauvignon Blanc and throw some ice cubes in it and ENJOY that wine on a hot day.  The alternative is grabbing for a cold beer or margarita.  I vote...drink more wine!
Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel wine

Here's an example of me breaking the rules and it tasting SO SO SO good.  Fresh caught Ling Cod (a light, low fat fish) and I served it with Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel.  Well...it's mostly Zin (94%), but it also has 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 2% Mourvedre. 

This wine is not to be taken lying down.  This thing has a full mouth feel, dark bush berry flavors, with smoke and tannin finish.  Are you thinking..why the hell did I have this with Ling Cod?  Well, I lightly breaded the fish, pan fried it, added a hefty spoonful of full fat sour cream and topped that with smoked tomato salsa that had mild spicy notes. 

This was a match made in heaven because I added fat to the meal by frying the fish and adding sour cream and the salsa played well with the tannin and toasted notes of the wine.  BAM!  Rules broken and it never tastes so good!

Ling Cod fish

Being a Woman in Today’s World

I’m not sure what made me think about this, is it that I’m raising a daughter and wanting to protect her?  Or wanting her to be the best she can be and positively contribute to the world?  Is it the #metoo movement and the talk about women’s rights in the world today?  I don’t know.  What I do know is being a woman in today’s world is complicated and women aren’t making it easier.

My little Lucy

Yup, you heard me right.  Women are some of the biggest reasons why I believe it’s so complicated being a woman today.  To give you a little taste, I didn’t like the Lindsey Lohan’s movie Mean Girls because it hit too close to home.  Yes, girls really do that kind of stuff and yes…it’s terrible.  I started to see that just because someone was nice to your face, doesn’t mean they are your friend.  I also realized that what they were saying to your face, wasn’t necessarily the same thing they were telling people when you weren’t around.  

I don’t want you all to think I didn’t fall victim to this same behavior because I did.  It happened to me, I thought this was the way it went and that’s how the “training” begins.

As I started to come into my own and settle into my skin, I realized that I could be more selective with who I chose to be friends with. I could find people that weren’t that way and things got better.  It didn’t completely go away…but it got better…until I started my way into the working world. 

Me as a little girl

Now, I was raised by a business owner who trained me to look at things from a business owner perspective.  I have never just done the job I’m assigned and go home.  I’ve always looked for ways to improve things and as a result, I moved up the ladder quickly.  Now, you’d think with all the “good ‘ol boys” running the show back then, women would band together and support each other.  

NOPE!  It turns into a Hunger Games scenario, kill or be killed…except for the promotion or for the praise of your boss.  No joke.  Women will literally throw you under the bus, to make themselves look better.  They’ll even take you under their wing and show you the ropes to then throw you to the wolves later, if you do too well.  As a result, you go into survival mode. 

I learned to read people, which turns out is pretty valuable in the business world.  Being that I had an older brother that I hung around with, I also learned to speak “boy” pretty well, too, which helped.   

What I didn’t plan on, was being in my 30’s and still feeling like I don’t have it dialed.  Those friends that you make and confide in, may STILL be telling your their version of the truth.  You may feel they’ve been wronged by another woman and take their side, when in reality they’re playing you and that other person is great, but they’re jealous of them.

Being a woman in today’s world is complicated and I’m going to do my part to UN-COMPLICATE IT.

Family ladies

I’ve decided something.  I’m going to take a stance to NOT be one of those women.  I’m not going to be jealous and try to bring someone down.  I’m not going to assume they don’t like me because they don’t include me in a project.  I AM going to be positive.  I AM going to compliment good work and encourage people to chase their dreams, whether man or woman.  I’m going to commit to break the cycle.

Who's with me!?